#IWSG The Healing Power of Writing

Happy October, writers! Time to support each other on this writing journey…join us here.

Thank you to this month’s co-hosts:


IWSG Day Question: How do major life events affect your writing? Has writing ever helped you through something?

This is a timely question for me as I’ve been pondering why I haven’t felt as motivated to write lately. (Though I do plan to finish a short story soon.)

I’ve realized that I don’t feel the burning need to write right now because things in my career are pretty good. I went through some difficult times at work in 2007, and I unknowingly turned to writing to cope with feelings of insecurity and betrayal. The words poured out of me then. I made my ex-boss the villain of my first book, a murder mystery. (He he.)

Thank you, writing! You have helped me heal. I also feel grateful for second chances. After a six-year hiatus working elsewhere, I returned to my same position, and version 2.0 is much better. I’m less naive and more confident, and my career as a psychologist feels like a true calling.

Maybe I’ll immerse myself in a sea of words again, but for now I’m happy to bask in the sunshine onshore, knowing writing is always there to dive into when I need it.


#IWSG July #GOALS

Whoops I hope I’m not too late (only one day?) to post for the Insecure Writers Support Group, July version. Thanks to Alex Cavanaugh for starting the group–join us here!


I’m in Hilton Head with my seven-month old niece, whose cuteness supersedes any blog schedule in my mind.


Hop on over to this month’s awesome co-hosts!

Co-Hosts
Nicki Elson


Now onto this month’s question:


What are your ultimate writing goals, and how have they changed over time?

Writing started as a need to express myself, and I got lost in the characters and stories I created. Over time, more goals emerged, including the desire to inspire hope for healing and demystifying psychotherapy as one path for that healing. Another big goal has been connecting with authors and readers.

As a psychologist, I often encourage clients to focus on the process instead of the outcome. But since I’m a competitive person, I get drawn into outcome goals: sales and reviews. I wish I didn’t care as much about those, because outcome goals sometimes interfere with my enjoyment of the process. (Though a great review can sure inspire the process!)

I’m still on a writing hiatus so for now my goal is to enjoy friends and family on the weekends.

What are your #goals?

Mental Health Giveaway Hop

Thanks to I Am A Reader and Reading in Twilight for hosting the Mental Health Giveaway Hop.


As a psychologist / author (or psycho author), I LOVE the idea of a hop combining two of my favorite things: mental health and books!

I like to write therapy scenes in all of my books, and often feature characters who are psychologists or characters who have mental health disorders (or psychologists WITH mental health disorders). 😉

What are your favorite stories featuring mental health issues? Here are mine, with links to my reviews:

Hopeless by Colleen Hoover

Pushing the Limits by Katie McGarry

The Sea of Tranquility by Katja Millay

Spin by Catherine McKenzie

I’m giving away two mentally healthy Jennifer Lane ebooks: With Good Behavior (The Conduct Series #1; romantic suspense only $.99) and Streamline (New Adult swimming military romance). To enter, complete the Rafflecopter.

a Rafflecopter giveaway
Hop over to these participating blogs to win stuff!

Breathe.

How have you felt since the Boston Marathon terrorist attack?

I’ve felt horror, disgust, rage, and sadness. Right now I feel numb.

And this is from miles away. I can’t imagine how I would feel if I’d been on ground zero, witnessing the carnage.

But I can imagine what it’s like to face trauma such as rape, abuse, accidents, and crime. I hear it from my psychotherapy clients all too often.

Survivors of trauma like bombings or abuse may develop Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, a clinical syndrome I detail HERE in my Psycho Author series. Quite a few of my characters have struggled to heal from PTSD.

What’s a simple tool to help anyone who’s endured a traumatic event? BREATHE.

When we get scared, our breathing changes, becoming quicker and shallower, or stopping for a moment. Such changes only serve to increase our panic and tension.

Simply paying attention to our breath can help calm us when we’re feeling stressed. But deep breathing, aka diaphragmatic breathing or belly breathing, is even more helpful.

1) Take a few moments to notice your breath. Breathe in through your nose and out your mouth. Let your body’s natural rhythm of breathing gently become slower and deeper, but still easy and relaxed.

2) Let that breath go deep into your belly. Place one hand on your chest and one hand on your belly (below your belly button). Keep the hand on your chest still, while pushing out the hand on your belly with air.

3) The diaphragm is the muscle lining beneath your lungs. Feel the diaphragm push down as you inhale.

I hope that noticing your breath helps you deal with the multitude of feelings from the Boston Marathon or other traumatic events.

Review: Pushing the Limits

With the Goodreads Choice Awards opening, I want to share my review for the book I voted as best Young Adult Fiction–truly one of the best reads of this year for me: Pushing the Limits.

Pushing the Limits (Pushing the Limits, #1)Pushing the Limits by Katie McGarry
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Heartbreaking Tale of Healing and Young Love

I love YA issue contemporaries, and this story is the best I’ve read. Thank you to all my GR friends who recommended this story. Yes, Rena…Mrs. Collins rocks!

Echo Emerson used to be the popular girl at her Midwestern high school. Sure, her controlling father and mentally ill mother had divorced, and her older brother had died fighting in Afghanistan, but she was managing okay. Until the night her mother stopped taking her medication for Bipolar Disorder. Echo emerged from that night covered in scars, with absolutely no memory for what happened. She went from popular to freak — withdrawn and scared.

Luckily for Echo, the school hires a new clinical social worker — Mrs. Collins — who meets with selected troubled students for therapy. (Echo doesn’t feel so lucky to meet with Mrs. Collins, but she doesn’t have much choice).

Another student Mrs. Collins targets is Noah Hutchins, the hot, dark boy in cheap clothes and a leather jacket. His backstory slays me. Noah’s parents died in a house fire, forcing him and his much younger brothers into foster care. And foster care hasn’t been pretty for Noah. The system labeled him as dangerous after he hit one abusive foster father, and now he has limited visits with his brothers. Every time Noah interacts with his adorable bros, I bawled. Jacob is eight and little Tyler’s only four.

The door opened and I automatically stood with the gifts still in my hands. Jacob flew through the door and rammed his body into mine. His head reached my stomach now. I tossed the presents on the table, lowered myself to Jacob’s level and wrapped my arms around him. My heart dropped. Man, he’d grown.

The scheming Mrs. Collins knows Echo wants a job and Noah isn’t working up to his potential in school, so she hires Echo to tutor Noah in Calculus and other subjects. They gradually disclose their pain to each other, starting with Noah:

“It doesn’t get better,” I said. “The pain. The wounds scab over and you don’t always feel like a knife is slashing through you. But when you least expect it, the pain flashes to remind you you’ll never be the same.”

Later Noah asks Echo:

“Think Mrs. Collins put the two most depressed people together on purpose?” I flashed a smile to keep the honesty of the statement from corroding the remainder of my heart.
Echo’s hand retreated. “Wow, I thought I was the only person at this school faking every moment.”

When they compare their scars, they reveal their immense insecurity, starting with Echo:

“It’s not the same. You’re strong. You helped people. I…I trusted the wrong person and I go all pathetic and don’t remember a thing. Anyhow, you’re a guy. Scars on guys are, like, sexy. Scars on girls…that’s just…ugly.” And there, I said it — out loud.
His hold on my hand tightened and his eyes darkened into thunderclouds. “F that. There is no shame in trusting your mother. She f’ed up. Not you. As as for that pathetic bullshit — f that too. You are not pathetic. You had the guts to return to school and continue to live your life like nothing happened. Me? I lost it all and flushed anything left of me down the damn toilet. Now that’s pathetic.”

Beautiful! If only Noah could give himself the same compassion. But these two do grow emotionally in the story, and I thought the ending was both happy AND realistic — my favorite.

This story truly moved me and I want to recommend it to everyone I know. I can’t believe this is a debut novel! I can’t freaking wait to read the continuation of Echo and Noah’s journeys.

View all my reviews

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