Psyched for Romance

Sports Romance & Romantic Suspense With a Psychological Twist

Monday, April 30, 2012

Z is for ZOMG! The A to Z Challenge is Ending

In honor of young adults everywhere (including those adults who are young at heart), Z is for ZOMG!

My first A to Z Challenge has come to an end, with the last day of April and the last letter of the alphabet.

Overall I'm glad I participated. I hope this exercise will help me blog more frequently--if I can blog every day, surely I can blog twice a week. My pub sister Nicki Elson is the one who encouraged me to give the Challenge a try, and it's great she introduced me to this universe.

The best part of the challenge was meeting new bloggers! Here are some of the noteworthy writers and bloggers I came across:

*Roland Yeomans at Writing in the Crosshairs blog: His dead and undead characters in New Orleans have been interesting to follow!

*Kyra Lennon at Write Here Write Now blog: She just finished her sports romance (I love this genre) and it was great to hear from the various characters on a professional soccer team

*Heather Gardner at The Waiting is the Hardest Part blog: The adventures of the gnome Stormy kept me giggling throughout the challenge.

Thank you to the organizers of the challenge, including authors Karen Jones Gowan and Alex J Cavanaugh! Alex and Nicki are part of the Insecure Writers Support Group and I want to join that group once I finish my upcoming blog tour.

If I participate next year, I hope to write some posts in advance and visit more blogs. I think a theme might be too constraining but it's interesting to consider. Have a great week, everyone!

Saturday, April 28, 2012

Y is for Young Adult

In the midst of writing adult romantic suspense books (The Conduct Series), I decided to publish a Young Adult novel I'd written back in 2007: Streamline.

It's been interesting to cross genres so far, and I have a feeling I'm in for quite an education with the upcoming blog tour for Streamline on May 7-12. About 40 YA bloggers will be reviewing my baby, eek!

This story isn't your typical YA, for several reasons:

1) It's 129,000 words, when most YA's are about 80,000. (It started over 200K words(!), so my editor and I have done a LOT of chopping.)

2) It features many points of view beyond the hero (Leo) and heroine (Audrey), including parents, siblings, and coaches.

3) It's a murder mystery that's for older teens and adults due to mature themes of abuse, violence, and sexual situations.

4) There's no love triangle.

Because of these anomalies, I'm nervous about the reception to the novel by passionate bloggers. I hope there's room for my unique take on YA! Regardless, I'm sure this will be a learning experience that will help me become a better writer.

What's your favorite genre to read? If you're a writer, have you crossed genres?

Friday, April 27, 2012

X is for X-Rated

Are you a fan of erotica? I'm a prude at heart, and I used to blush when reading any sex scene. But when I started reading and writing fan fiction, my reaction changed. Now I enjoy a well-written sex scene, and I've read quite a few stories with BDSM, male-male romance, and kink . . . nothing fazes me anymore. I do prefer more plot than sex in romance novels, but a well-crafted intimate scene that advances plot and characterization is wonderful.

At my book club last night (see the Book Club tab above to learn more about these lovely ladies) we not only discussed our chosen read for the month (see my review of the hilarious Domestic Violets HERE), but also the erotica Dom-sub sensation Fifty Shades of Grey.

I still haven't read Fifty but I must see what it's all about soon. My friend Sally wasn't impressed by the writing but there's definitely something in there that keeps you reading.

Sally shared one theory about our attraction to books like Twilight and Fifty: women want to be desired. Edward and Christian desire their objects of affection so much that they become possessive and stalkerish, and women are drawn to such adulation.

Do you enjoy erotica? Why do you think Fifty Shades of Grey is so popular?

Thursday, April 26, 2012

W is for Wenworth Miller

Have you heard of actor Wentworth Miller? He's my favorite actor, and an inspiration for my writing. I loved him in the TV show Prison Break. He played the lead character Michael Scofield with intelligence, passion, suaveness, and just the right amount of vulnerability. I think he is so sexy!

Who's your favorite actor or actress? How have they inspired you?

And now it's time for the Author Blog Bounce! Check out instructions HERE.

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

V is for Vixen

A character that fascinates me is the vixen. I'm referring to the slang definition of vixen--"a sexually provocative female"--not "a woman regarded as quarrelsome, shrewish, or malicious".

My favorite TV vixen is Samantha Jones from Sex and the City.

Do you remember the melon episode? Kim Cattrall plays her brilliantly.

She cracks me up. Samantha is coy, intelligent, sexually adventurous, and disdainful of monogamy. She doesn't want to marry and she sure as hell doesn't want children.

My mother, who is in her seventies, claims that women like Samantha Jones don't really exist...that women aren't really sexual aggressors. I have to admit I don't have any friends like Samantha, but I believe there are women out there who do crave sexin' it up with multiple partners.

What do YOU think?

**Blogger help!** The past two scheduled posts have not published. Is that happening to anyone else? Any suggestions for how to fix it?

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

U is for Unbroken

Here's my review of my favorite read of 2011:

What a perfect title to describe the real-life hero of this novel, Louie Zamperini: UNBROKEN.

One tip for writers to evoke emotion in their stories is to put their characters through hell, and I've never witnessed such emotional torture of a character. I was on the verge of tears for most of the book and at one point sobbed, reading what Louie suffered. What makes this story even more emotionally compelling is that Louie isn't a fictional character. He's a real Olympic runner, Air Force veteran, and inspirational speaker, now age 94.

Laura Hillenbrand, author of Seabiscuit, did exhaustive research for this novel and I'm proud to say I attended the same liberal arts college as she did (Kenyon College). I loved learning about the early days of competitive running . . . the firm belief that no human could break the 4:00 mile barrier . . . archaic ideas that training hills would make a runner slower . . . the cruise ship completely hindering training and race preparation as the American athletes traveled to Berlin for the 1936 Olympics.

But what was most educational were there fascinating details of WWII. I had no idea that rescue flights for downed air crew over the Pacific were so unsuccessful. Rescue missions often caused even more deaths. Most WWII novels and movies cover the European theater, but The Bronze Horseman by Paullina Simons taught me about the events in Russia, and this novel Unbroken really educated me about Japan's role in the Pacific.

My book club recently read Hotel on the Corner of Bitter and Sweet, which highlighted the unfair treatment of Japanese-Americans in the internment camps during WWII. Unbroken shows a very different side---the unimaginable cruelty of the Japanese toward their prisoners of war. I developed a thirst for vengeance reading what these poor POW's suffered. But to seek vengeance or to view only one side is to miss the point of this novel and of Louie's life entirely. Louie's indomitable, forgiving spirit is truly a gift of God. His story is such a spiritual masterpiece that it absolutely confirms my faith in God. Gah, I'm welling up in tears again just writing this review!

It's so rare to find a meaningful read like this one. I know Louie's story will stay with me for some time.

Monday, April 23, 2012

T is for Titanic

I had the pleasure of watching my favorite movie in 3D yesterday: TITANIC.

What an incredible love story! The romance has all the elements I find intriguing: a strong hero and heroine, sacrifice, drama and humor, star-crossed lovers facing all sorts of conflicts including different backgrounds and a meddling third party, but most of all...two people making each other better through their love.

And of course I loved Rose guessing Dr. Freud would have something to say about men being obsessed with size, and Mr. Ismay replying, "I haven't heard of this Dr. he a passenger?" Hee hee.

Have you ever referred to a movie in your writing? I'm about 2/5 done with On Best Behavior, the third novel in The Conduct Series (adult romantic suspense). I just had to mention Titanic leading up to a love scene between my hero and heroine, Grant and Sophie. Here's an excerpt:

Grant locked the door behind him and strolled into the darkened apartment. He hesitated upon noticing Sophie crashed on the sofa. The glow of the television framed her body in muted blue light. Her head tilted back, resting on the cushion, and her long strawberry-blond hair draped in soft waves around her face. She’d propped up her feet on the coffee table.

Smiling, he crossed over to the sofa and sat next to her, studying her delicate features. She hadn’t removed her makeup, and he noticed smudged eye shadow above long eyelashes feathered shut. She looked so serene. He reveled in the quiet after spending the night in a loud bar, stressed from hitting each note while scanning the crowd for any sign of the Russians.

Glancing at the TV, Grant saw the menu screen for Titanic and surmised she must have fallen asleep watching the DVD. Apparently she’d muted the sound before drifting off—the remote rested on her upturned palm.

As he crept in to reach for the remote, his hand halted midair when he heard a faint moan erupt from her lips. “Ahhhhh…”

He looked up to see her mouth twitch into a small grin, which matched his own. He wished he could be in the dream with her—it seemed like a fantastic time. Gently sliding the remote from her grasp, she started to stir, and he was dismayed he’d interrupted her blissful sleep.

Sophie’s eyes fluttered open. She gave him a dreamy smile. “You’re home.”

“And you’re adorable.” Not taking his eyes off hers, Grant set the remote on the coffee table and nudged down for a kiss. He'd seen the open box of Girl Scout cookies on the table, and wasn't surprised when she tasted like chocolate mint. Once their lips met, his time apart from her floated away. Each kiss was a reconnection…a homecoming.

Grant gave her some space and she performed a feline stretch, lifting her arms above her head and curling her toes. She yawned. Seeing the TV screen, she frowned. “Aw, I missed the end.”

He smirked. “I’ve got a secret for you, Sophie.” Leaning in, he planted soft kisses along the warmth of her jawline, then murmured in her ear, “The ship sinks.”

She giggled and elbowed him. “Way to spoil it for me.”

“Hardly. How many times have you seen Titanic?”

A blush warmed her face as she sat up. “About ten.”

“That’s thirty-five hours of your life you’re not getting back.”

She scowled. “Stop ragging on my favorite movie! You haven’t even seen it.”

“What’s the point? There’s no suspense there—we all know what’ll happen.”

“It’s not about the suspense. It’s about the romance.” She sighed, her hand fluttering to her heart. “Jack Dawson’s the most amazing character.”

His eyes narrowed. “So this is about Leonardo DiCaprio.”

“He certainly helps my enjoyment of the movie.” A devious smile played on her lips.

He pulled back with a scowl. “I bet you were dreaming about him.”


“You were moaning in your sleep earlier. Sexy dream with Mr. Dawson?”

“I…I can’t remember?”

“Right.” He lunged forward, his long fingers snaking under her blouse to tickle her as he adopted a German accent. “You vill tell me your dream!”

She squealed, shirking away from his inciting fingers. “No!”

The tickling increased. When his roving hands made their way to her sensitive bottom, cascading giggles mixed in with her shrieks.

“Tell me, Sophie.”

She gasped for air. “I won’t confess.”

“Ve have vays of making you talk.”

She shivered from his waltzing fingers, and when he gave her a respite, she managed to break free and dart away into the bedroom.

He clicked off the TV and followed closely behind, teasing “As if I vill let you get away so easy.” He found her on the bed, lying on her back, panting, staring up at him with anticipation. 

Climbing onto the mattress, he snuggled in next to her, propping up his head with the heel of his right hand as his elbow rested near her ear. “Did you dream about Jack Dawson?” His left hand tickled her soft neck, eliciting her sharp intake of air.

“I’ll never tell.”

His hand snaked up behind her ear, gently lifting her head to bring her closer.

“Mmm,” she sighed, reaching up to cradle his face. “Lay your hands on me, Jack.”

He glowered.

“I mean, lay your hands on me, Grant.”

“That’s better.”

“Lay your hands on me, McSailor.”

           She didn’t need to tell him again.

What's YOUR favorite movie? If you're a writer, have you referred to the movie in your writing?

Saturday, April 21, 2012

S is for Streamline

I'm getting my post up a bit late today, plagued by a bad cold that has stolen my voice. It was interesting doing psychotherapy yesterday with my lame squeaky rasps! Hopefully I did some excellent listening.

Streamline is my third release, though it was the first novel I wrote. It involves competitive swimming--a sport dear to me. I started swimming year-round at age eight and continued through college. I still swim a couple of miles twice a week with friends.

How do you streamline in the pool? Align your body after the dive or push-off to "spear" through the water with minimal resistance. Here's a beautiful streamline:

(And a beautiful body!) How do YOU streamline when you meet up with resistance in your life?

This young adult murder mystery just launched 3-27-12, and I'm looking forward to the Streamline blog tour May 7-12, hosted by Julie from A Tale of Many Reviews. Julie's signed up about 40 Young Adult bloggers and we'll offer a $25 gift card as the grand prize.

Early readers have told me Streamline is a page-turner, as evidenced by comments from two Goodreads readers this morning:

Hallie wrote:  On page 103. "This is not my cup of tea. Can't remember why I got it, either. But stayed up too late last night reading it anyway, so draw your own conclusions..."

Victoria wrote: On page 103. "Swimming and navy. Two plot combinations I know a lot about. Can't put it down."

Ha ha ha! I love the varied reactions to the same novel. Swimming and the US Navy may not be everyone's cup of tea, but I hope the story will captivate readers.

See you Monday when I plan to post about Titanic, my favorite movie. 

Friday, April 20, 2012

R is for Recruit

I hope this A to Z Challenge ends soon because I'm running out of ideas!

Today's letter "R" is for Recruit, or rather my short story Swim Recruit.

The NCAA allows five paid visits to universities as a prospective student-athlete, and I find the process rather fascinating. The university attempts to woo the recruit while the recruit attempts to show off her academic and athletic prowess.

A recruiting trip might be one of the first times away from home for the high school senior. Though I was a teetotaler throughout high school, I got drunk for the first time on my swimming recruiting visit to Yale. ;-)

This short story was part of an anthology benefiting breast cancer research, but now it's a sweet YA single available for free at Omnific Publishing or for $.99 on Amazon.

Not long after Abby Donahue’s family falls apart, she escapes on an airplane to Chicago for a recruiting trip. A talented high-school swimmer, Abby hopes to score both a college scholarship and some distance from her parents' recent divorce. But is this university for her?

Her first encounter with freshman swimmer Reese McGowan makes her nervous. He’s a tall backstroker with a mess of blond hair, glittering aquamarine eyes, and a suspension from the team for badmouthing the school to another recruit. As Abby unravels the mystery underlying Reese’s disdain, she begins to unlock her own hidden emotions about her father. Together Abby and Reese battle bullies on the team and inner demons, learning that flipper feet and fighting for family can actually be a good thing.

Here's another "R" for you--my review of Room by Emma Donoghue. Haunting story!

Thanks for stopping by.

Thursday, April 19, 2012

Q is for Quietly, Quickly, Quintessentially: Confessions of an Adverb Abuser

1) As I quietly tiptoe into today's Challenge letter "Q" (quintessentially the most challenging letter of all), I quickly realize I'll have to strike up some creativity!


2) As I tiptoe into today's Challenge letter "Q" (the most challenging letter of all), I realize I'll have to strike up some creativity!

Which style is better? I contend #2 is better for a concise, smooth read. There's no need to use "quietly"--that's the only way one can tiptoe. And the other q adverbs are superfluous.

But when I first started writing, my style was much closer to #1. I bled adverbs like a stuck pig (and I used a lot of clichés too, but that's for another post.)

~The Adverb Abuser Support Group~

Jen: Hi, I'm Jen, and I'm an adverb abuser.

All: Hi, Jen!

Jen: It all started when I didn't appreciate the intelligence of my readers. I mistakenly thought I had to spell out every action, every feeling.

All: What a mistake...

Want to join the support group? ;-)

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

P is for Psychology

And we move forward with the A to Z Blogging Challenge today with good ole letter P, which of course is for PSYCHOLOGY!

If you scroll down the right side of my blog, you will find the "Psycho Author Series" in which I write about psychological disorders you can use to help your characterization.

It starts off HERE with a post about Narcissistic Personality Disorder, one of my favorites (and most difficult to treat!) I created a character in my newly released Young Adult Sports Romance Streamline based on this diagnosis. If you've read this story, can you guess the character?

What psychological diagnosis would you like to learn more about?

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

O is for Omnific Publishing

Have you heard of Omnific? It's a small press publisher that's released my first three novels, and I've been quite pleased to work with the wonderful individuals involved.

When I was querying agents for With Good Behavior (and getting nowhere), I happened upon Omnific and found a great fit for my romance novels. I've learned so much about publishing and marketing from these feisty ladies.

The publisher is Elizabeth Harper, Ph.D.--a psychologist like me. I'm lucky she gave my writing a chance! Here she is with some of her staff at the Romantic Times convention:

Micha Stone, Jessica Royer Ocken, CJ Creel, Elizabeth Harper, Lisa O'Hara

Jessica, CJ, and Lisa have whipped my manuscripts into shape with their keen editing skills, and Micha has been a whiz at marketing.

At the convention, I was also stoked to meet fellow Omnific author and A to Z Blogger Nicki Elson (check out her Disney tips HERE).

Jennifer Lane and Nicki Elson

Since Omnific's first releases launched on 2-14-10, they haven't looked back. Check out Omnific's site for writing tips and compelling romance!

Monday, April 16, 2012

N is for Naughty and Naked

Today's the cover reveal for Lisa Sanchez's naughty and naked novel Faythe Reclaimed!

Running through a strange forest with a bloodthirsty demon hot on her heels wasn’t Taylor’s idea of a rockin’ evening. Then again, neither was soaring backward through time and space. Time travel chafed and left a rank, nasty aftertaste. So, when she finds herself floundering amidst a sea of Commandment-loving holy rollers who fling accusations of witchcraft and bedevilment like hotcakes in a diner, finding her way home jumps to the top of her to do list. Too bad she can’t remember who she is or where she came from. And if that wasn’t bad enough, Taylor realizes she’s fallen for Gabriel, the mysterious Latin warlock who came to her rescue.

Battling an identity crisis and lost in a time that’s not her own, Taylor is determined to find her way back to twenty-first century Hanaford Park. But first, she and Gabriel must work together to uncover the dark scourge lurking in the shadows of Salem Village, and in doing so, save their lives, and the lives of countless innocents from a lethal date with the hangman’s noose.

Publisher website:

That's a beautiful, steamy cover. I've read the first two novels in the Hanaford Park series--Eve of Samhain and Pleasures Untold--and look forward to this third paranormal romance tale!

Saturday, April 14, 2012

M is for Marketing Tips

As the author of almost 50 books, Bob Mayer rakes in quite the healthy salary. He shared some sound marketing strategies at the Romantic Times Convention, which I in turn want to share with you. I'll also include some of my favorite quotes from Bob.

Bob talked about the Three P's to selling books:
1. Platform
2. Product
3. Promotion

"The best platform and promotion is a great product. The second best is more product." (With that many books out, Bob has definitely embraced "more".)

1. Platform. Find your niche as an author. My tagline is "Romantic Suspense Featuring Healing and Redemption." What's yours?

"You can't do everything, but be consistent." Bob focuses most on his blog and Twitter instead of spreading himself too thin across multiple social media sites. He keeps an extensive spreadsheet with all the dates for guest posts, tweeting, and bumping his Kindleboards threads as often as allowed (every 7 days). (I admit I've never even visited Kindleboards so I need to get on it IF that's something I can do consistently).

2. Product. Write what you're passionate about. Write what you like to read. The best thing you can do is keep writing and learning.

"What's the difference between aggressive and obnoxious? Aggressive is when you have a good product, and obnoxious is when you have a bad product."

3. Promotion

Bob's keys to promotion:

1. Have good content

2. Link to something recognizable (Bob discussed how the TV show Lost seemed eerily similar to the plot of one of his published novels, so he tied into Lost when marketing that novel).

3. Balance promotion with networking and supporting others. (I find this so important. I don't want to engage in authors who furiously promote without building some sort of relationship with me.)

* MBTI Are you familiar with the Myers Briggs Type indicator? I'm either an ENFJ or an INFJ depending on the day, and Bob said that the INFJ type is most descriptive of writers. We're introverted and want to take care of others' feelings. The problem that causes when it comes to marketing? The code for a promoter or marketer is the exact opposite: ESTP.

We need to step out of our comfort zone to network and communicate our passion.

"Thinking your publisher will market your book is like thinking your OB-GYN will raise your kid".

Friday, April 13, 2012

L is for Lessons from RT

I'm attending my first writers' conference! *clicks heels* The Romantic Times Convention in Chicago has been a lot of fun so far, and I want to share some tidbits with you.

In the "Kiss Me, Kill Me: Writing Action Scenes for Romance" seminar, writers Larissa Ione and others advised making the reasons for the fight personal. No one cares about an action scene unless there are high stakes for the hero and heroine.

There were married couples on the panel and they said they'd choreograph the action scenes together in real life, to increase authenticity. Sounds like I need to get me an author hubs to do this. ;-)

Next was my favorite seminar, on Romantic Suspense. Here's a great author, Cindy Gerard, with Roxanne Rustand to her left:

I can't wait to read the next book in Cindy's Black Ops Inc. series. These authors recommended the macfreedom program to shut off the internet while writing. (I need this!)

Finally the Young Adult panel was a hoot. Stephanie Perkins, author of Anna and the French Kiss, is just as cute as her stories. Check out her red hair!

She and others advised not to write for the market, but to write what you're passionate about. They also had a "Hunger Games" battle to argue if first person or third person POV was better. There was no clear winner, and the moderator Sarah Rees Brennan had to forgo killing off the losing authors. ;-)

Stay tuned for my "M" post when I share marketing tips from Bob Mayer!

Thursday, April 12, 2012

K is for Kellerman

Jonathan Kellerman is a psychologist/author (or psycho author like myself) and I have enjoyed his Alex Delaware series. His character Alex is a child psychologist who consults on murder cases.

When the Bough Breaks is book #1 of a whopping 27 so far in the series. I stopped reading somewhere after #10 because the murder mystery thing was getting a bit gruesome for me, but I like how Mr. Kellerman weaves his psychological knowledge into stories.

In Chicago for the Romantic Times convention, I was talking to my brother-in-law about novelists who capitalize on their professional expertise. He's a fan of Michael Crichton and John Grisham, scientist and attorney, respectively. Wasn't it cool how Mr. Crichton used his knowledge about DNA to write Jurassic Park?

What professional expertise sparks your interest when reading novels?

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

J is for Jennifer

For today's A to Z Challenge post, let's talk about names.

First names. My parents named me Jennifer (a popular name in the early 1970's) and I'm lucky that I like my name. It's easy to spell and provides instant familiarity with all the Jennifers I meet. Jen is an easy nickname (I'm not a Jenny though!) There are some downsides to the popularity of my name--another student in my small college class had my exact same name and constantly got all my emails. Same thing with the large medical system where I work.

How do you like your first name? Why did your parents choose it?

Middle Names. My middle name is Elaine, and this name is fine with me too because it reminds me of the wonderful character from Seinfeld. (I hope I dance better than her!)

Do you have a middle name(s)? How do you like it?

Last Names/Changing Your Name. Psst! "Lane" isn't my surname. One cool thing about being an author is choosing a pseudonym I liked for my last name. (It would be strange to have the name Jennifer Elaine Lane ha ha).
I've never married but if I had, I'm not sure I would've taken my husband's name. I've worked hard to develop a solid professional reputation and my dad had three daughters, so I think I would've kept our family name. And what if I married Mr. Snugglywump?

Have you ever thought about changing your name?

I'm headed to the Romantic Times Convention tomorrow in Chicago, yay! I hope I can keep up with the challenge while I'm gone. Thanks for dropping by.

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

I is for I.M.

I'm not discussing Instant Messaging today. Instead, I'm talking about the Individual Medley, a race in competitive swimming. The heroine of my YA swimming-romance-murder-mystery Streamline--Audrey Rose--specializes in the I.M.

The individual medley features all four strokes in the following order: butterfly, backstroke, breaststroke, and freestyle.

This race is fun to watch because there are often lead changes. Rarely is one swimmer awesome at all four strokes (even Michael Phelps has an "off" stroke of breaststroke but "off" for him would be very "on" for most of us!) The I.M. does tend to favor breaststrokers though because that stroke comes at a pivotal part of the race.

Training I.M. is fun because there's so much variety. Getting tired of butterfly? (My answer is always a resounding yes! My friend Joe calls my butterfly the "ugly".) Flip over to backstroke. Backstroke shredding your legs? Time for breaststroke. And then bring it all home on the freestyle.

I.M. transitions require great technique and finesse. Here's a short video showing two swimmers demonstrate the turns from fly to back, back to breast, and breast to free.

Now you'll have some more knowledge for the swimming events in the Olympics this August.

Monday, April 9, 2012

H is for Heart

In his sermon yesterday, the pastor asked us if we had an "Easter Heart". In other words, is our heart strong and pumping, full of life? Has it loved? Has it broken? Has it resurrected?

The Easter heart made me think of my dear swimming friend Beth, who died in her sleep a few nights ago. She was only fifty years old, and one of the fittest people I've even known. Beth was a world-class swimmer, going 1:48 in the 200 yard Freestyle thirty years ago. That's an excellent time even today! She often impressed me with her toughness, particularly when I witnessed her breaking the master's world record in the 50 Freestyle.

Beth had a heart condition. Though her heart was full of life, love, and caring for those around her, her heart gave out. At this point I'm not sure if her heart problems led to her untimely death, but it seems likely.

Beth was a strong, independent woman. She would always pepper me with questions--she was truly interested in people--and seemed to know everyone on the pool deck. She held a demanding job as a video producer, involving travel and long hours, but somehow managed to progress toward her doctorate in Sports Humanities. We'd sometimes meet at the university library so she could work on her papers while I wrote my novel. She told me I made funny faces when I typed away at my laptop.

My face is now full of sorrow. Beth's heart has been broken. But on Easter Sunday, her heart has been resurrected too. Swimmer, friend, curious mind, accomplished woman. Beth will always live on, in my heart.

Saturday, April 7, 2012

G is for Goodreads

Have you heard of the social networking site It's like a Facebook for book lovers. As an author and reader, I love the site. Here's my page.

Authors can list their works and interact with readers. It's a bit dicey to respond to readers' reviews, but I've enjoyed the opportunity to thank readers for their comments, and I've also liked to receive feedback that helps me improve as an author. I've learned not to respond to negative reviews (that's an entirely different blog post!)

Readers can shelve books that they've read and want to read. My parents are in their seventies and sometimes start reading novels only to discover they'd already read them but forgotten. Goodreads is a great way to keep track of the books you've finished, and an excellent opportunity to hear about interesting books.

I'm so pleased I've learned about these novels on Goodreads from my over 2,000 friends there:

*The I-Team series by Pamela Clare...intelligent romantic suspense
*The Black Ops, Inc series by Cindy & spicy romantic suspense
*The Black Dagger Brotherhood series by JR Ward...I'm not a huge fan of paranormal romance but I gave this a try when Goodreads friends urged me

Library Thing and Shelfari are other reader sites, but I feel most at home on Goodreads.

Do you use Goodreads? How do you like the site?

Friday, April 6, 2012

F is for Fielding

The Art of Fielding, that is. Here's my review for this literary fiction by Chad Harbach.

From Goodreads:

At Westish College, a small school on the shore of Lake Michigan, baseball star Henry Skrimshander seems destined for big league stardom. But when a routine throw goes disastrously off course, the fates of five people are upended.

Henry's fight against self-doubt threatens to ruin his future. College president Guert Affenlight, a longtime bachelor, has fallen unexpectedly and helplessly in love. Owen Dunne, Henry's gay roommate and teammate, becomes caught up in a dangerous affair. Mike Schwartz, the Harpooners' team captain and Henry's best friend, realizes he has guided Henry's career at the expense of his own. And Pella Affenlight, Guert's daughter, returns to Westish after escaping an ill-fated marriage, determined to start a new life.

As the season counts down to its climactic final game, these five are forced to confront their deepest hopes, anxieties, and secrets. In the process they forge new bonds, and help one another find their true paths. Written with boundless intelligence and filled with the tenderness of youth, The Art of Fielding is an expansive, warmhearted novel about ambition and its limits, about family and friendship and love, and about commitment--to oneself and to others.


Two book club friends recommended this novel to me, knowing my young adult sports romance Streamline had just been published. I'm a former small college athlete and this well-written story was indeed right up my alley with its low-budget athletic departments, locker room banter, mental health issues like depression and eating disorders, and anxious, angst-ridden student-athletes. Fielding's NCAA Division III baseball players spout poetry and write theses, deftly defying the dumb-jock stereotype.

The plot is intriguing, leading up to a wonderful NCAA championship game where it's all on the line. Will highly-scouted shortstop Henry Skrimshander overcome his mental block and lead his team to victory? It's tense and suspenseful, ending in a satisfying yet unpredictable manner.

I did have some trouble with the characterization of this novel. Mr. Harbach writes rich, complex characters but they didn't grab me emotionally. The characters seem distant and aloof, like the reader's sitting in the nose-bleed section and can't make out their faces or expressions. Though they all suffer---particularly Henry---I didn't find myself truly sympathizing or caring as much as I'd like.

Apparently Herman Melville once visited and praised Westish College, and the school now boasts his statue and the mascot of "Harpooners". I don't know about you, but reading Moby Dick in high school was sheer torture for me, and I enjoyed the subtle jabs to Melville and his novel in the story:

And over the years a thriving cult of Melvilleania had developed at the college, such that you could walk across campus and see girls wearing T-shirts with a whale on the front and lettering on the back that said, WESTISH COLLEGE: OUR DICK IS BIGGER THAN YOURS.

Mr. Harbach nailed the smelly, safe ambiance of locker rooms:

Locker rooms, in Schwartz's experience, were always underground, like bunkers and bomb shelters. This was less a structural necessity than a symbolic one. The locker room protected you when you were most vulnerable: just before a game, and just after. Before the game, you took off the uniform you wore to face the world and you put on the one you wore to face your opponent. In between you were naked in every way. After the game ended, you couldn't carry your game-time emotions out into the world--you'd be put in an asylum if you did--so you went underground and purged them. You yelled and threw things and pounded on your locker, in anguish or joy. You hugged your teammate, or bitched him out, or punched him in the face. Whatever happened, the locker room remained a haven.

The author has a deep understanding of the athletic experience, and in many ways this was an interesting read. I wish there was a sport psychologist on staff to help out these troubled athletes, but they are able to find their own way through the journey of college athletics.

See you tomorrow for my post "G is for Goodreads"!

Thursday, April 5, 2012

E is for Exercise

Do you have a love or hate relationship with exercise?

I admit I love exercise. Lest you think I'm completely virtuous, I assure you I have a hate relationship with healthy eating. I guess one out of two ain't bad.

Ever since I started competitive swimming at age eight, moving my body in some fashion has become a daily habit. High school and college swimming peaked at four hours of exercise a day (yes, swimmers are insane) but now I strive for an hour a day. Here are some of my favorite ways to spend that hour:

* Swimming laps with friends (two miles take us up to 90 minutes because we chat and insult each other so much between sets)
* Reading a novel on the exercise bike
* Walking with my iPod, plotting the next chapter of my novel
* Ellipticalling on the elliptical machine while playing Word Welder on the iPad
* Walking with a psychotherapy client during our session
* Strength training to pump *claps* me up! (remember Hans & Franz from SNL?)

Beyond the physical benefits, exercise is my therapy. There's substantial evidence that exercise reduces anxiety and depression, possibly working even better than medication, and the mental health benefits are certainly true for me.

What's your favorite exercise?

Join us for the Author Author Blog Bounce hosted by Omnific Publishing!

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

D is for Downing

Author Hannah Downing, that is. Today is Hannah Downing's Pieces of Us Anniversary Blog Tour! I loved this novel and gave it a 4 star review HERE.

Congratulations to Hannah Downing on the one year anniversary of the publication of her contemporary romance Pieces of Us! To celebrate, I get to interview the sexy hero of the novel: Cameron Harper. *bounces up and down*

Jennifer Lane (JL): Welcome, Cameron *bats eyelashes* Please tell us about yourself.

Cameron Harper (CH): Hello Jennifer, thanks for having me on your blog. I’m a tall, dark and handsome Capricorn who loves long walks on the beach… *winks* But seriously, everything I can tell you about myself is wound up with my ex-wife, Charlotte. I grew up in a normal family, one of three children with happy parents in the northeast. In my junior year of college I met Charlotte and that was when my life really began. I was so happy, until our relationship started to break down and then everything changed. Since our divorce, I’ve tried to put my life back together, so I can be a better man for Charlotte; I finished college and work as a dentist in a medical practice in town. I love my family, even my annoying younger sister who meddles in my life, and still hold a very strong flame for my ex.

JL: Back when you were teenagers, how did you and Charlotte meet?
CH: We met in one of those fluke occurrences. My family had moved to a new town about an hour outside of Hartford and I had to drive back and forth every day for classes because I was living with my parents, not on campus. After a difficult day of class and the long drive home, I was in desperate need of a caffeine hit and stopped off at a local café. When I got inside it was packed. Every table was full and there was a long line at the counter, I was almost going to go back to my car and go home but the smell of roasting coffee beans held me in place in the queue. Once I had my coffee I couldn’t find anywhere to sit. I scanned the café for anyone who looked like they might be leaving soon so I could swoop in and take their table but everywhere I looked were people in the middle of conversations, sipping their drinks happily. Then, near the door I spotted a small table with a brunette girl, sitting alone. There was a spare seat at her table so I walked over and asked if I could share. She looked up at me with these big, brown eyes and nodded, giving me a smile. We chatted for a while and when she found out that my family had recently moved to town, she offered me a tour. We became friends and started hanging out whenever I didn’t have class. I liked her and I thought she was beautiful but she always acted so cool around me that I didn’t think she liked me back. One night, I couldn’t get to sleep; I’d been tossing and turning for hours, thinking about Charlotte and a sudden burst of courage overcame me. I dressed quickly, pulled as many roses from my mother’s rose bushes as I could, on the way to my car (which I got in huge trouble for the next day) and drove to her house. I left a single rose on the ground, below her window and hid behind a tree. I felt a bit of a fool, throwing pebbles up against her window, like I was in an old cheesy movie or something, but when she pulled the curtain back and her hair was all messed up from sleep I knew it was worth the embarrassment of the grand gesture. She met me at the front door and that was the first time I ever told her I loved her.

JL: Very sweet. Shifting gears here, what on earth attracted you to that skank ho, Lucy?

CH: Ahhhh, Lucy; the biggest mistake of my life. Looking back, I don’t think I was ever attracted to Lucy. She gave me something that was missing in my relationship with Charlotte – Lucy wanted me while Charlotte was pulling away. It’s not an excuse, I was an ass and I wish it had never happened. My mother would be so ashamed of me for saying this, but Lucy was ‘just there’ and I used her.

JL: What's the first thing that went through your mind when you saw Charlotte with Owen?
CH: That was one of the lowest points of my life. Seeing Charlotte with Owen was hard enough, but seeing them in my parent’s home was all too much. I admit that I may have over reacted. I just wasn’t expecting to see them when I visit my family and then he was touching her and even though we’ve been divorced for years, when I look at Charlotte, I still feel like she’s mine. I was furious. My parents and my Charlotte all sitting around having dinner what HIM? I was not okay with that. My jealousy took over. Seeing them together after that was easier, but not much.

JL: It seems like Charlotte learned a lot about communication through this ordeal. What's the most important lesson you've learned?
CH: TALK. You have to talk. I knew something was wrong with Charlotte but I let her push me away. I could have fought so much harder to be there for her, to find out what was wrong and instead I went to another woman for comfort, feeling sorry for myself.

JL: What advice would you give to married couples?
CH: It’s a well-known one but I think it’s true. Never go to bed angry. Charlotte and I spent so many nights in the same bed, refusing to speak to each other, being passive aggressive. Talk it out, stay up til 3am if you have to but get to the root of your issues and move past them. Burying problems does not work! Now I have to deal with Owen, which was never part of my life plan, and he wouldn’t be a part of Charlotte’s life at all if I could have communicated better in my relationship.

JL: Without giving away spoilers, what's next in your life?
CH: I’m focusing on my career now. I’ve recently moved to a bigger city so I’m trying to establish my dental practice and get a steady client base. As for my love life, you’ll just have to read Pieces of Us to find out.

JL: Cameron, thanks for visiting my blog. You're welcome back anytime. *winks and somehow refrains from giving him my phone number*
CH: Thanks, Jennifer. You’ve been a great host. You know, if I hadn’t have met Charlotte in that coffee house, I really think we could have had something. 
Hannah has some great prizes on her blog that you can win by unscrambling the secret word. Here's the letter you need to know:

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

C is for Coincidence

Sometimes the world seems like a small place. A VERY small place.

The world felt itty-bitty this weekend when I met book blogger Dani from Refracted Light Reviews at Panera for lunch. Her YA blog was a co-host for the Launch Party of my novel Streamline last week, and when I discovered she also lived in Columbus, Ohio, we agreed to meet in person.

Imagine my surprise when I found out where Dani a city of 2 million people, she lives 100 yards away from me! We had a good laugh about living in the same condo complex for three years and never knowing it.

It was wonderful to meet Dani, and we also joined kickass book blogger Jenny from Supernatural Snark blog (who I'd met once before) for lunch.

Aren't both of these gals adorable? I've met some of the nicest people through blogging.

What coincidences have you experienced through blogging?

Stay tuned for my "D is for Downing" post tomorrow. Thank you for stopping by and commenting.

Monday, April 2, 2012

B is for Battle of Actium

Today's A to Z post is a COVER REVEAL for Astarte's Wrath by Trisha Wolfe!

Isn't that cover gorgeous? I love her bangs. My pub sister at Omnific Publishing---Trisha Wolfe---is the author of Destiny's Fire, and this prequel is surely another YA page-turner.

The title of this novel would've been perfect for yesterday's "A" post but nooooo, Trisha just HAD to coordinate the reveal for April 2nd, so I got creative by using the blurb (the Battle of Actium) to find my "B". (Just kidding, Trisha--I'm thrilled to be part of your cover reveal!)

Two thousand years before Dez Harkly developed her secret powers, Kythan Astarte vowed to free the Kythans from the binds that enslaved them to the Egyptian pharaohs and sorcerers. Discover the prophecy that originated from a very different time, and spans generations to link two very different girls...This is the beginning.

Set against the backdrop of the Battle of Actium, in the city of Alexandria, Star struggles with her guardian duties as her feelings for the newly named pharaoh of Egypt grow deeper. Not only is Caesarian her duty, he’s the son of Cleopatra, and he’s…human. All of which makes their love forbidden.

But when a conspiracy linked to Caesar, Caesarian’s own father, creeps its ways into Alexandria, Star must choose between helping her fellow Kythans free themselves of their servitude, or protecting her charge—the last pharaoh—while Egypt burns around her.

Looks fantastic! Thank you for stopping by for this challenge.

Sunday, April 1, 2012

Blogging from A to Z Begins!

This is my first year participating in the Blogging from A to Z Challenge!

This challenge is an opportunity to hone my blogging skills and meet awesome bloggers by posting once a day through the month of April, following the letters of the alphabet.

Today's letter is A. I tip my hat to book bloggers by highlighting Tee's blog "A Diary of a Book Addict". Tee helped launch my first YA novel Streamline a few days ago by interviewing the hero and heroine, Leo and Audrey HERE. Thank you, A Diary of a Book Addict!

It's really fun to meet bloggers of all kinds, and on 4/3/12 I'll discuss a wacko coincidence I discovered when I met a book blogger Dani at Panera yesterday.

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