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#IWSG: Impatience!

Welcome to November’s Insecure Writers Support Group, where we share insecurities and bolster confidence. Join us at Alex Cavanaugh’s blog HERE.


How goes the writing battle?

My struggle recently has been my impatience. I have a new release ACED (Blocked #2) on 12-2-15. I wanted to get the ARC out to readers earlier, but life doesn’t always cooperate.

Fortunately my awesome editor and book designer kicked into overdrive and the ARC is now ready. (Contact me if you’re interested in a copy!) And we were able to get an excerpt from the third book in the series (SPIKED) at the end, happily.

Some things were out of my control but I tried to communicate as best I could to resolve misunderstandings that delayed the process, and that seemed to help.

What helps you deal with the waiting game?

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Five Tips for #Writing #Therapy Scenes #IWSG


Time for August’s Insecure Writer’s Support Group. Writers, learn more HERE and join us.


Hey, everyone. I’m Jennifer Lane, psychologist/author (psycho author). I do therapy on the weekdays and write on the weekends, and I can’t decide which is more fun.

Character growth is essential in any story, and I often help my characters develop through psychotherapy. Finding the balance between authentic therapy and engaging storytelling can be tricky. Here are some tips:

1) Empathy. Otherwise known as validation or good listening, empathy is reflecting the speaker’s emotion. It’s a key therapy skill, regardless of the therapist’s theoretical orientation. Here are some examples of empathy:

Client: “What’s the point?”
Therapist: “You’re feeling hopeless.”

Client: “He’s such an ass!”
Therapist: “You’re really angry at him.”

Sounds simple, right? It’s not. A lot of times we want to give advice or solve problems, when all people need is validation. Empathic listening is quite therapeutic.

2) Boundaries. Therapists’ ethical codes discourage multiple relationships with clients. If I’m your therapist, I can’t be your friend, lover, business partner, babysitter, etc. Hollywood often shows therapists shagging their clients with no negative consequences. Not realistic.

3) Diagnosis. Though some therapists don’t put much stock into psychiatric diagnosis, it’s helpful to have a somewhat accurate diagnosis for the character. I giggled when I read Christian Grey’s initial diagnoses as haphephobia (fear of being touched) and parasomnia (sleep disorders). Fortunately Ms. James did her research for a later book, diagnosing him with Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder. Here’s a good website summarizing mental health disorders.  I also like the Writers Helping Writers Emotional Wound series

4) Progress. Is it common for a huge therapeutic breakthrough to occur? An insight that changes everything for a character? Not really. While I adore this scene in Good Will Hunting, it’s not characteristic of therapy.


Change tends to be difficult and gradual, and clients are unique in their responses to therapy. Some clients feel better merely by naming or reframing the problem. Others just benefit from a private, nonjudgmental space to talk.

5) Character Development. Therapy is a wonderful vehicle to develop your characters. Is your hero funny? Write dialogue for him that makes the therapist crack up. Does your heroine try to mother everyone? Perhaps she brings tea for the therapist, or knits the therapist a hat in the winter. Character interpersonal dynamics will unfold in the therapy relationship just like any other relationship, inserting some fun into the drama.

Have you ever tried to write a therapy scene? Hopefully these tips will help.

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Power Pose Your Way to #Confident #Writing #IWSG


It’s July already and the rain won’t stop in Ohio, waah. How can I train for swimming in a triathlon relay when thunder closes my outdoor pool? Time for July’s Insecure Writer’s Support Group, the brainchild of Alex Cavanaugh. Join us HERE.


Last week I delivered a presentation to swim campers about ways to build their confidence. I mentioned the technique “fake it till you make it”. In other words, if you don’t feel confident, sometimes acting confident on the outside can boost confidence on the inside. Head up, shoulders back, add a smile or serene facial expression, and you’re good to go.

Then I heard about a TED talk by social psychologist Amy Cuddy that takes confident body language a step further. According to Dr. Cuddy, our nonverbals affect how others see us. But can nonverbals affect how we see ourselves?




Since I know you’re busy and may not have time to watch the 21 minute video (it’s worth it if you do have the time), I’ll summarize her research.

Holding “power poses” for just two minutes can significantly increase testosterone (feelings of power) and decrease cortisol (feelings of stress).

What are power poses? Here’s one:

Here are two more:

Are you mired in insecurity when writing? Knees knocking before pitching to a publisher? Try a power pose for two minutes and you’ll feel more assertive, confident, and optimistic!

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Learning Cool Stuff Through Writing #IWSG


Woo hoo, I love summer. Time for June’s Insecure Writers Support Group, hosted by Alex Cavanaugh

Alex’s awesome co-hosts for the June 3 posting of the IWSG are M. Pax, Tracy Jo,Patricia Lynne, Rachna Chhabria, Feather Stone, and Randi Lee!

Writers, join us HERE


There are so many cool aspects about writing, but one of my favorites is learning something new.

I just wrote a chapter in my work-in-progress Aced where the hero attends confession with a priest. I like to write moments when my characters grow and challenge dysfunctional behaviors. Typically this involves throwing my characters into therapy. But Aced’s hero Alejandro is a Catholic Latino good boy, and I wanted to try a new space for healing and development outside the therapy office.

Although I attended Notre Dame for grad school, I’m not Catholic, and I’ve never experienced confession myself. Luckily, my critique partner is Catholic, and she provided a helpful link explaining the process. I also found this list of sins that blew me away. Jeez… I sin all the time!

Did you know that pirating ebooks is a sin? 😮

Both confession and therapy involve reflection and sharing secrets. But one unique part of confession is FORGIVENESS. I love the idea of seeking God’s mercy in an effort to forgive ourselves.

What cool stuff have you learned through writing?

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#IWSG What’s Easiest and Hardest to #Write ?

Whoops! Almost forgot this month’s IWSG in the midst of planning for trips to Chicago and Hawaii, a broken air conditioner, and installation of new carpet and sectional sofa.


Thanks to Alex J Cavanaugh for creating IWSG, and awesome co-hosts Eva Solar Melanie Schulz, Lisa-Buie Collard, and Stephen Tremp.

How’s your writing coming along? I wish it could go faster but I guess the muse can’t be rushed. I’m about 36K words into my work in progress, ACED (Blocked #2). Next up is a therapy chapter which is always easier for me to write. I throw my characters into therapy on a regular basis–I torture them so much that they need it!

I’m struggling a bit with the pacing of the romance. While it’s not insta-love, I have a tendency to rush things. I’m grateful for my critique partner Nicki Elson, who just released a wonderful romance (VIBRIZZIO). See my post below to read my review and enter the giveaway.

What type of chapters/scenes are easiest for you to write? Which are hardest?

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#IWSG Have You Heard of This Writer?


Thanks to Alex J Cavanaugh for hosting the Insecure Writers Support Group.


Not much new for me this month other than researching the White House for my WIP Aced (Blocked #2). Did you know there’s a Red Room in the White House? (Not the Red Room of Pain, ha ha.)

I came across this and wanted to share. We can all dream of being famous:



Good luck to all those participating in A to Z. I think you all are crazy!

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#IWSG Controversial Topics and First Draft Angst


Time for the Insecure Writers Support Group, when we vent our troubles and encourage each other in this crazy thing called writing. I appreciate Alex Cavanaugh for his brainchild! Please join us if you dare.


How’s your work-in-progress coming along? I started writing the sequel to my college volleyball romance Blocked. This one’s titled Aced, and features the romance between a 24-year-old Mexican American med student and a 22-year-old African-American volleyball star.

I’m rather conflict averse, but I find myself exploring some controversial topics in these novels. Blocked battles political differences, and Aced explores racial differences. Though I feel uncomfortable with conflict, discussing opposing points of view can be an enlightening experience in real life. I hope to offer a balanced take on touchy subjects in my writing.

Does your first draft feel like utter crap sometimes? I try to trudge through but writing can feel so difficult some days!

Congrats to my pub sister Debra Anastasia for the success of her crazy-ass comedy Fire Down Below! She has the wildest, dirtiest sense of whack ball humor!

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Montana Marijuana, Microaggressions, and Manuscripts #IWSG

Happy Insecure Writers Support Group, started by Alex J Cavanaugh!


I’m in Montana for a psychology conference. learning some cool things. Too bad I dislike skiing because we have major snow in Big Sky.


But I’ve had a blast chatting with friends and learning stuff! The best presentation so far has been about MARIJUANA. As a psychologist who has witnessed the sadness of addiction, I was against legalization before the presentation. Now I’m totally against it.


While you might think this brownie, candy, and beverage are for the munchies after you toke it up, these “edibles” are actually how THC is administered these days. One gummy bear has 4 servings of high potency THC. They’re marketing to kids by infusing candy and drinks with THC.

And, this isn’t your grandparent’s pot, your parents’ pot, or even your pot. In 1960 THC was .2% concentration. Now it’s 12%. Since it’s been commercialized in Colorado, the lobbyists and marketing machine has created products with 36% THC which have zero resemblance to the natural hemp plant. (The CBD percentage has stayed the same, rendering today’s marijuana as less medicinal.) One 19 year old Wyoming student went to Colorado, had never had pot before, ate a cookie with high potency THC, had a psychotic break, and jumped out a window to his death.

Whatever your beliefs, decriminalization is not the same as legalization. The change in law is all about making money and not about decriminalization or health at all. Using marijuana before the age of 18 really increases risk of addiction and cognitive deficits: one study in New Zealand found an EIGHT point drop in IQ from using marijuana 5 times a week.


What are your thoughts about marijuana?

Another great presentation was on MICROAGGRESSIONS, or unintended discrimination. We all make comments, often without our awareness, that may be hurtful. For example, a heterosexual person may tell a homosexual person “I don’t care what you do, just don’t flaunt your sexuality.” That comment may be hurtful by implying a gay person is hyper-sexual or some other such stereotype. Should we tell a heterosexual couple to stop kissing and “flaunting their heterosexuality”?

This video highlights some micro aggressions:



Finally, how’s your writing coming along? I was about 20K words into a romantic suspense when I realized I was itching to write book two in my college volleyball romance series, so I just started that MANUSCRIPT. I’m titling it Aced for now.

I think I’ll put my romantic suspense Twin Sacrifice aside though I kind of miss it. Anyone write two books at once? I’ve never tried before.

My critique partner Nicki Elson’s awesome rom-com VIBRIZZIO is available for pre-order! You will love this story and it’s only $.99.

Write on, my fellow crusaders!

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#IWSG: Tighten Your Writing


Time for 2015’s first Insecure Writer’s Support Group, a chance to share our hopes and fears, hosted by Alex Cavanaugh.


Since starting as a writer eight years ago, I’ve grown. (I’ve gained about twenty pounds, but that’s for another post.) The kind of growth I’ll discuss today is writing skill development. While I still have so much to learn, one area I’ve improved is tighter writing.

Be gone, verbal diarrhea!

So I want to share this excellent post, 25 Ways to Tighten Your Writing by Betsy Mikel with YOU.

A few of those tips that resonate with me:

1) Stop the adverb abuse. (I was a big offender). Dump the adverbs and choose more descriptive verbs. Instead of “I moved slowly”, try “I trudged.”

2) Knock out the highfalutin’ vocabulary. When I first started writing, I wanted to impress everyone with my intelligence by using words like avocation, prescient, and anathema. Then I learned NOBODY CARES how smart I am. Readers just want a good story with compelling characters, and bigass words might interrupt the flow.

3) Use contractions, which help dialogue sound more realistic. I can’t believe how long I’d write without contractions.

The article provides a link to 200 Common Redundancies. My critique partner Nicki Elson and I felt overwhelmed by reading that list!

In 2015, may your writing be loose and your editing tight, writer friends.

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#IWSG Guide to Publishing and Beyond & Writing Dialogue

Thank you to Alex Cavanaugh for hosting The Insecure Writers’ Support Group, where we journey together down this lonesome writing road.


Have you downloaded your free copy of The Insecure Writer’s Support Group Guide to Publishing and Beyond?


The Insecure Writer’s Support Group Guide to Publishing and Beyond


Tapping into the expertise of over a hundred talented authors from around the globe, The IWSG Guide to Publishing and Beyond contains something for every writer. Whether you are starting out and need tips on the craft of writing, looking for encouragement as an already established author, taking the plunge into self-publishing, or seeking innovative ways to market and promote your work, this guide is a useful tool. Compiled into three key areas of writing, publishing, and marketing, this valuable resource offers inspirational articles, helpful anecdotes, and excellent advice on dos and don’ts that we all wish we knew when we first started out on this writing journey.

ISBN 9781939844088
235 pages, FREE
IWSG sites – website, Facebook, and Facebook Critique Circle
Find the book at Amazon, Barnes and Noble, Kobo, Smashwords,Goodreads.


I contributed a piece on writing character relational styles, and I can’t wait to dive into reading all the helpful advice. Suddenly the writing journey isn’t so lonely!

Today I want to share tips for writing dialogue from author Justin McLaughlin:

Check them out HERE

Good tips, you think? 

What do you struggle with when writing dialogue? 

I have been guilty of fluffy tags like “she shouted” or “he groaned” instead of the less distracting “said”.

I’m also learning to write with more economy, like “Thought you hated Fox News” or “Kind of tall for a setter, aren’t you?”

Happy writing!