LinkedinTwitterThe DetailsConnectBlog Facebook Meet the TherapistHome For Writers

Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Treatment Tuesday: Catrin Passerini (and an Explanation)

It's been a while since I've done a Treatment Tuesday, I realize. But I'm taking the time to let all 22 people who are left in my queue for the freebie assessments know that I WILL get to all of them. 

In the same vein, I've discontinued the freebie assessments due to being overwhelmed with write-ins! I'm grateful it was popular while it lasted, but the freebies still take time and energy away from my family and my writing. My hope is that authors will look into the paid full assessment option I still offer on my website.

So that's the deal with the freebies, since I've received several questions about them.

On to who's on the couch today. Catrin is the 24-year-old brainchild of author Brie and she resides in a romance. Her mom left her with her Dad when she was 7. Seven years later, her father died from complications due to an automobile accident and Catrin herself was scarred on her hands, face, and shoulders from flying glass and debris. She now lives with her Uncle, whose wife also left him with a young daughter, Catrin's cousin, who is 3 years older than Catrin. Now, ten years later, she's an event planner working with her cousin with a crush on a guy who has a girlfriend who's basically her nemesis.

Brie wants to know: Why is Catrin so worried about her scars? They make her beautiful. Also why is she so wary with unknown people? Is it because they would judge her? Who is her perfect guy?

I love to read answers to the question about a character's most significant event in childhood that still affects them today. Catrin had a great response:

I was five and Daddy told me, "I may  not like what you do but I will always love you." I had pushed Jimmy Lock off the slide because he had pulled on my braids. Daddy told me later he was proud of me standing up for myself but he would have preferred if I pushed Jimmy Lock in the mud.

This answers your last question, Brie. The kind of guy who would be perfect for her is the kind of guy who will say/show her something like this. Girls tend to look for (or at the very least, find) someone similar to their fathers, especially if they had good relationships with them (and even if they didn't).

Catrin clearly loved her father and wants to make him proud even though he's deceased. She felt his support even when she did something he wasn't completely happy about. (Which begs a question...would pushing Jimmy Lock in the mud have been less serious or more serious than pushing him off a slide in his mind?--just curious. I took it as less serious, but still gets the point across.)

Based on the rest of the intake form, I didn't see a real clear goal for Catrin. I'd suggest giving her a cause...something she might stick her neck out for, regardless of her scars. It would need to be something she's passionate about....perhaps mentoring young girls also abandoned by mothers? Seems she has a lot of experience (along with her cousin) in this department. Maybe she's a Big Sister? On the board of Big Brother, Big Sister? could be in the course of her cause that she does something dream guy doesn't like, but accepts b/c he loves her. Just brainstorming here, of course.

About her scars...maybe give her a reason to believe beauty is skin deep. What if her mother had been a diva-sort? Flawless. And she drilled into her little girl's mind (prior to skipping town) that she needed to look her best. A 7-year-old can internalize messages like these BIG time. So this would give her extra reason--besides the obvious social discomfiture--to worry about her scars. Unknown people would surely look upon her more curiously or it makes sense to be wary of them. Nothing out of the ordinary there, it seems. FYI, I did find an interesting article here on the psychology behind scars.

Wish you the best with her, and my sincerest apologies at the delayed nature of getting it to you!

Let's Analyze: What kind of personality would be the perfect nemesis to Catrin?

Don't forget to go to my Amazon page HERE and "like" The Character Therapist and/or leave a review to be entered to win a Writer's Guide of your choice!

Monday, January 30, 2012

Get The Character Therapist on Your Kindle! (Plus a giveaway!)

I've been branching out with some technology advancements, the latest of which has been figuring out how to get my blog published to Kindle so that people can subscribe for a low monthly fee.

And I did it! Check this out:

This was a relatively easy process, bloggers. I went to this site and got all the info I needed. Then I took the screen shots (click here to find out how depending on which operating system you are using) and loaded them to Amazon. Took 24 hours for Amazon to confirm everything and then I was set! Give it a shot if you dare.

Where YOU (and the giveaway) comes in:

Go to my Amazon page HERE. Since I'm brand new, I have ZERO "likes" or reviews of my blog, so if you would all be a peach and click "like" on my Amazon page and leave a review (doesn't have to be long), I'll enter your name into a contest to receive one of my Writer's Guides of your choice! I'll draw a winner at the end of the week.

Thanks so much for your support!

Saturday, January 28, 2012

Weekend Funnies: Online Side Effects of Therapeutic Journaling

Wonder how true this is? Do you think a lot of self-help books start with the writer's journaling?

Last chance! Win a copy of Elizabeth's Mueller's paranormal romance Darkspell!

Friday, January 27, 2012

Friday Free Association Chain

The word is........


First commenter free associates with the above word. Second commenter takes the first commenter's word and free associates, and so on.

Remember -- FIRST thing that comes to mind. GO!!

Don't forget to comment to win a copy of Elizabeth's Mueller's paranormal romance Darkspell!

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Proud Moment for The Character Therapist

When my husband asked me what I wanted for Christmas, I knew immediately. No, not jewelry or technology gadgets (though those would have been accepted readily). I asked for a trademark.

With as much time and effort as I've put into this site, I don't want anyone ripping me off! Now, I can't trademark the actual act of analyzing characters, as there are a few sites that do this (although I want to point out that I'm 99.9% positive that I started the write-in process for this). But now there is paperwork in place that will forever prevent anyone else from ever using the name of calling themselves The Character Therapist!

Check it out:

How cool is that? Did you notice that little booger at the top of the page? [Go ahead and scroll back up there....I can wait.]

For the low, low cost of $500, you, too, can be the owner of a trademark for your website or brand! I went through LegalZoom, and have been very pleased with their professionalism. If there are those of you out there interested in the process, indicate that below and I'll be happy to do a post or two on how this momentous occasion came to pass.

For now, celebrate with me!!

And don't forget to comment to win a copy of Elizabeth's Mueller's paranormal romance Darkspell!

If you missed my latest Writer's Quiz on how music affects writing, it's still live. Click here to take it.

Monday, January 23, 2012

Review and Giveaway of Darkspell by Elizabeth Mueller

It is with great honor that I introduce talented author Elizabeth Mueller to my readership. Elizabeth not only can write, but she is quite the artist, and agreed to do my signature Character Therapist sketch (found on my website). In fact, she illustrated her debut novel, Darkspell, herself.

Here's a little about the book from Elizabeth's website:

Winter Sky believes she is everything ordinary . . . until she is kissed by Alex Stormhold.

As seer of Stormhold Coven, Alex is sworn to be Winter's protector against the darkness that hunts her. Violently thrust into a magickal realm she always thought impossible, she stumbles upon a disturbing secret of her own.

I started reading Darkspell in bits and pieces as Elizabeth posted chapters on Wattpad. I found myself clicking on Wattpad at all hours of the day, during work, when I got home and was supposed to be feeding my child, etc. Finally, I emailed her and said I wanted to influence for her...for her to please send me the entire book!

What I liked best about it was that it's a clean read, much like Twilight. There's no gratuitous scenes, but yet a sweet, compelling romance for all ages. Now, it's nothing like Twilight in that there are no vampires, but it is a paranormal, young adult romance, just with a different spin.

And that was refreshing! Elizabeth's story world is unique, a coven that wields magick. (Don't think Wiccan or witches or anything like that.) And they can do all sorts of cool things. Winter, being unfamiliar with how to "bend time" and other neat tricks, serves as the reader's avenue of introduction, but the reader never gets bogged down in the detail, because Elizabeth writes to suspend disbelief.

Winter's romance with Alex is swoon-worthy. His brother is pretty magnetic, as well, (as Winter discovers) and the result is a great love triangle of sorts. Seriously, I wasn't sure who I wanted her to end up with, because they both had their strong points in their favor.

As a therapist, I appreciated the backstory angle Elizabeth gave Winter, as her tragedy haunts her very realistically. As a lover of suspense, I felt an impending sense of "what the heck's going to happen to Winter?!?" the entire time I read the book. How was she going to fight this darkness (which was done very well, I might add)? Does she have a magick power of her own to help her? What's so special about this girl?

One lucky commenter will be wondering too! Elizabeth has graciously agreed to give away an e-book copy of Darkspell to one of my readers, so please be sure to click on "follow" to the right if you haven't already done so. Giveaway will run through Sunday. US residents only.

Don't forget to connect with Elizabeth on Facebook, Twitter, Goodreads, Smashwords, Amazon, and her blog.

Let's Analyze: Why do you think the world has become so enamored with paranormal books? With great writers like Elizabeth, it's not a hard question, exactly, but I think it goes deeper. What is it about our own world that makes us yearn for release to another?

Saturday, January 21, 2012

Weekend Funnies: Noah's Ark Couple's Therapist

Found another great site with these, So I'll be bringing you several more from Victor Yalom. Hope you enjoy!

Don't forget! Still time to enter to win Staci Stallings' book, Coming Undone. Click here!

Friday, January 20, 2012

Friday Free Association Chain

The word is........


First commenter free associates with the above word. Second commenter takes the first commenter's word and free associates, and so on.

Remember -- FIRST thing that comes to mind. GO!!

Thursday, January 19, 2012

Review and Giveaway of Coming Undone by Staci Stallings

About five months ago or so, I stumbled across one of Staci Stallings' blogs, Spirit Light Works. She's got several of her books there available to be read for free. I read through her back cover copy for all of them, and was immediately drawn to Coming Undone. Here's a blurb:

Ben Warren has life all figured out.  At 35, he’s successful in his work and free as a bird everywhere else.  He has no desire to be tied down like some of his friends, and he sees no reason to change that.  Then the unthinkable happens and causes him to rethink everything about everything.

Kathryn Walker can’t figure out what she’s doing wrong in the dating department.  The rest of her life makes sense.  She’s compassionate, strong, honest, hard-working and still alone.  She wonders if she is doomed to spend forever single.  Little does she know that fate is taking a major turn in her life.  In fact, she doesn’t even see it happening until it has.  Can she ever get past the fact that Mr. Right didn’t show up in the way she thought he would?

From that blurb, I wanted to read the book, mainly because I strongly identified with Kathryn. I was a "late bloomer" and while all my friends were getting married straight out of college, I was attending grad school and feeling like God had forgotten me.

So I started reading the first two chapters on her site....and got hooked for a variety of different reasons.

Kathryn is a grief counselor. I've read very few books, especially romance, with a counselor as the protag. I was curious how someone outside of my profession would portray a therapist. Would I relate?

Ben suffers a great tragedy right off the bat. Talk about inciting moments. When you're not expecting something awful to happen to you, and all of a sudden your life changes drastically [thus enter the counselor], there's high emotion. (Notice I didn't say high drama...Staci's book wasn't melodramatic at all.) Being a therapist, I live in a world of high emotion.

The romantic tension between counselor and client. When you click with someone, you click. It's not like therapists have some special talent to turn off attraction, even though there are tons of ethical guidelines about not hooking up with clients. I could tell immediately that Ben was going to be the love interest...I wanted to know how Staci was going to spin this. I wasn't disappointed. I appreciated the lengths Kathryn went to to have an appropriate relationship professionally while her heart still underwent the transformation necessary to keep romance readers turning the pages (or clicking through the consecutive blog posts, as I did).

Bottom line, this book had me sneaking in chapters while at work on my lunch break...which possibly went several minutes over my allotted thirty. A few times.

Staci has agreed to give away a copy of Coming Undone to one lucky blog commenter. This is your chance to find a new favorite author folks, so don't be shy. Since I like for the giveaways on my blog to be a perk for my readership, all I ask is for you to click "follow" over on the right of this blog and join the fun. Giveaway will run through Sunday.

Let's analyze: Have you ever read a book about a protag who had the same career as you? How did the author measure up with details?

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

What Writers Can Learn From The Vampire Diaries

As most of you probably know, I have a vampire fetish of sorts. I dig them in any format: books, movies, television shows. I offered my firstborn begged and pleaded to be an extra in the Twilight series, but it was a no go. What do you think? Couldn't I totally pass for one of the Cullens...after they have been well-fed?

Don't tell me you don't think that's cool. I will let you know how to do it if you ask nicely. Anyway, moving on...

In one of the latest episodes of The Vampire Diaries (TVD), there was an incredible song featured at the end of it by Ross Copperman, called "Holding On and Letting Go." It has amazing lyrics, and I've been held captive by them all weekend. Here's the chorus:

It's everything you wanted, it's everything you don't
It's one door swinging open and one door swinging closed
Some prayers find an answer
Some prayers never know
We're holding on and letting go

Can't every breathing person relate to that? It's nothing new for me to have an emotional experience while watching this show. Yes, some of it revolves around teenage angst and drama, but most of it is truly gripping stuff that pulls your heartstrings. (TVD fans unite!) And the music is nothing short of masterful in helping accomplish this.

This little beauty of a clip (from Season 3, Episode 10) resonated with me so much (I stalked the internet to find out who sang the song), that I took some time to analyze why. I believer there's a lot to glean for romance writers in particular.

1) It throws us a bone. I think those of us on Team Damon still have a ways to wait before things really heat up with him and Elena, but our hearts just sang with this kiss! It's not their first, but it's definitely the best. Just as we're beginning to despair--possibly grow uninterested--we get this firecracker romantic moment, and now I'm chomping at the bits for continuing episodes.

2) It keeps us guessing. This wasn't the perfect ending by any stretch. He's telling her he can't have her because she's "his brother's girl, and all," even though he definitely wants her Clearly, she is shaken by the kiss. He means something to her...but just what, we're not sure. The producers sure do play their cards close to the chest. They only reveal things little by little. (see #1)

3) It's one heck of a love triangle. Not every book, movie or show has to have one, of course, but many of the great ones have this built-in tension. The fact that Stephan is Damon's brother makes this triangle all the harder to swallow.

4) It takes us by surprise. Damon's, "No. No. You know what?" moment there at the very end to return and kiss Elena (so that he has something tangible to feel guilty for) isn't what we were expecting. But dang, don't we love it.

5) The mood matches the tone and vice versa. Since writers don't get to have accompanying music, we have to work harder at getting this mix right. Pacing is key here. The fact that the music swells into the silence of their kiss is amazing production--and amazing pacing, given that the song started minutes before during other scenes. If the audience isn't caught up in this, then they don't have a pulse.

Let's analyze: What other reasons do you think shows like The Vampire Diaries and dozens of others keep viewers tuning in week after week?

There's plenty of time to take my Writer's Quiz on whether listening to music while writing affects productivity. So click on over!

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

In Case You Missed It

I have a new Writer's Quiz up! This time, I'm looking into whether music influences productivity of writers. The survey is below, or you can click here. Thanks so much for helping massage my curiosity!

Monday, January 16, 2012

Writer's Quiz: Music and Writing

After such smashing success from my last quiz (Personality and Plotting), I've decided to do another. I'm interested in how many of you listen to music while you write and if you think it makes an impact on your productivity as measured by word count.

Without further ado:

Let's Analyze: What do you think the results will look like? Will music-loving writers be more productive, less productive, or will it even matter?

(sorry for the long space...apparently that's the entire length of my survey even though it was done in pages)

Saturday, January 14, 2012

Weekend Funnies: Who's Questioning Who?

Candorville 9-9-09

Friday, January 13, 2012

Friday Free Association Chain

The word is........


First commenter free associates with the above word. Second commenter takes the first commenter's word and free associates, and so on.

Remember -- FIRST thing that comes to mind. GO!!

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Writer's 12 Step Program

With the advent of a new year, everyone I know is set on making changes. Posts about resolutions have been about the blogosphere, including one of my own. No shock. But how about a tool writers can use to actually reach a healthier place?

Those of you familiar with the 12 step program of Alcoholics Anonymous will appreciate the Writer's Anonymous version that is circling the internet, courtesy of Dr. Stan Williams, whose work I have the highest respect for. Here they are below:
  1. I admit that I am powerless to write like I should—that my creative life has become desolate and unmanageable through disuse.
  2. I believe that a power greater than myself can restore me to sanity, and get my quota of words written each and every day. 
  3. I have decided to turn my will and my life over to the care of God, as I understand Him.
  4. I daily search my life and make a fearless moral inventory of my motivations and whatever else has prevented me from applying my butt to a chair and my fingers to the keyboard.
  5. I admit to God, and to another human being the exact nature of my wrongs from the previous step.
  6. I am entirely ready to have God remove all these defects of character so that I will complete the story that God has set before me.
  7. I humbly ask God to remove my shortcomings and expect a completed work in the not too distant future.
  8. I have made a list of all persons we I have harmed by not living up to and disciplining my creative potential, and I am willing to make amends to them all.
  9. I have made direct amends to such people wherever possible, except when to do so would injure them or others.
  10. I continue to take personal inventory and when I am wrong I promptly admit it.
  11. Through prayer and meditation (or medication, depends on how bad off you are) I seek to improve my conscious contact with God praying only for knowledge of His will for me and the power to carry that out in my creative life of writing.
  12. Having had a spiritual awakening as the result of these steps, I will carry this message to other writers, and to practice these principles in all my affairs.
They are based on the actual 12 step program, which I think is way cool. There are other versions that I found on the internet that I found comical and amusing as well. Two of my favorites are versions by Eric Dalen and Susan Sheehey. Be sure to check those out for a laugh.

Let's Analyze: What do you think about the Writer's 12 Step Program? Couldn't we all benefit from a group that uses those steps as their "Big Blue Book" manual?

Monday, January 9, 2012

New for My Blog in 2012

I did a bit of soul-searching about my blog and the direction it was going. Truth be told, I love the focus of my blog. I love doing character assessments and posts on how psychology can improve fiction writing. I'm a therapist. This is what I do in real life.

But I'm also a wife, a mother, daughter, and sister. Psychology and faith works together in my everyday life, and I haven't shared a whole lot of that up until now, and that's what's going to change for 2012.

That, and I'm likely going to start posting three days a week. Not sure about that change yet. 

I came to a conclusion while on my three-week vacation over the holidays. Technology gets in the way of relationships. At one point, I was sitting in the living room with my entire family, and we were all on our lap tops at the same time. One family member even texted me from another room. Seriously!

Where's the connection in that? I made a resolution to spend less time on the computer and more time visiting, TALKING. To do so, I found the best vehicle in the world to facilitate this between family members: a jigsaw puzzle.

I had bought one of these puzzle caddies for my parents a while back (which is just a piece of felt that you wrap around a cardboard tube) that enables you to use table space while you are still in the assembly process. It was gold!

My parents, my husband, my brothers--we all sat around the table and put together two different 1000-piece puzzles together in about a week. The jigsaw caddy worked great.

But the big change was that the television was set off, the computers were left charging, and relationships were nurtured with communication, laughter, and good-natured ribbing when one person found the missing edge piece ahead of another. Not to mention the feeling of accomplishment of a job well done. (Did you SEE how hard these two puzzles were?)

In truth, when the mind if occupied with a seemingly "mindless" activity like putting together a puzzle, coloring, playing with playdoh, etc., the tongue loosens. I do it all the time in therapy, so I tried it with my family. The result was tons of communication about topics that hadn't been brought up in years, if at all. It was wonderful!

True, I was waaaaay behind checking my email and watching my television programs (that I watch online after my child goes to sleep), but so much the better for it. Everyone was in agreement too.  So next time you're around family members, give it a try!

Let's Analyze: How many of you are jigsaw puzzle people? Do you own one of those nifty caddies?

Bonus: And for those of you who only post 3 days a week, what do you feel you lose from not posting 5 days a week? (I don't have to ask what you gain: TIME!)

Saturday, January 7, 2012

Weekend Funnies: Hangover Remedies

Not sure how many of my readers like a drink or two or three to bring in the New Year...but regardless, in a therapist's world, that's funny stuff!

Friday, January 6, 2012

Friday Free Association Chain

The word is........


First commenter free associates with the above word. Second commenter takes the first commenter's word and free associates, and so on.

Remember -- FIRST thing that comes to mind. GO!!

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

Making Resolutions: To Err Is Human

Hopefully you brought in the New Year with some thoughtful consideration to how you want 2012 to be different from 2011. Even if your 2011 was wonderful, there should always be room for improvement, whether personally, professionally, or spiritually.

In that vein, I wrote my column this month on resolutions. I give several tips from a therapist's perspective on how to improve your chances of success, so check it out here.

See you back here Friday for Free Association, as I'm still on vacation. I took a lovely, long 3-weeks off from work and have enjoyed every minute with my family, who lives so far away.