Monday, 20 March 2017

Live in Balance: The Blog Challenge theme reveal and a giveaway

Picking a Theme for the challenge

The theme for my A-to-Z Blog Challenge in April is not something I dreamed up for the sake of filling my blog with 26 posts. In fact, it is an outflow of my Live in Balance goals for this year.
Since I have been keeping a journal for more than 30 years, I wondered why it took me this long to came up with the idea for the blog challenge. I have also been reading up on the topics of happiness and creative journal writing and would love to share with you some of the things I have learned.

So here goes...from 1 April I will be posting about Journal Writing in the Pursuit of Happiness in 26 parts. A post for each letter of the alphabet. Keep an eye out for posts on Sundays to get a preview of the posts coming that week.

The three Ps

A-B-C is perhaps not the best acrostic to explain the concept of Creative Journal writing. Instead, I decided to use three Ps instead:
Private: Journal writing is not a group activity. You don't share your journal. Make sure it is kept in a secure place to ensure your absolute privacy.
Personal: This is about you. Your personal issues, experiences, observations, growth, musings, etc. We seldom make time for ourselves, but we need to and journal writing is one way of doing exactly that.
Process: It may sound weird, but journal writing has no end goal. There is no target to be achieved, either in the individual entries nor any time frame that may exist in your mind. It is a process: of self-discovery, observation of yourself, your environment, and your experiences of your world. It is what you want to it be: a sympathetic ear, a prayer book, a companion, a therapist, or all of these and more. And the best of all - you decide what kind of journal you will keep, and you can change the style, the depth, and your method of journal writing whenever you want.

I have noticed that often people say that they don't know what to write about. If you feel panic setting in at the thought of keeping a journal, there is absolutely no need. There are many books, and even more online resources to help you find your way.
The most important part is just to get going. A pen and any notebook will do that job. No fancy writing instruments or elegant notebooks (although some people prefer them) required.

What we are going to write about

This is the blog series I mentioned on 6 March. I am inviting you to explore the concept of happiness through journal writing with me. I will also provide a prompt upon occasion.
The prompt will be for a written and/or and art entry for that day. Keeping a journal can also be a creative outlet, and I will provide all the instructions, and pictures, to show you what you need.
Artistic skills are not required.
I mean, you can tear out a piece of newspaper and make a colourful mess on it, can't you? It will be that easy. No drawing, or complicated painting, or sculpting required. If you do know your way around a paint brush, or a charcoal stick, by all means, explore the prompt in your preferred medium or style. There are no rules, nor any limitations in keeping a journal. The only rule (if there ever was one) is being honest with yourself. This journey is for you, and only for you.

And there goes my pants...

When the word 'prompt' appears in the title of the post, be sure that the post of the day will also be my response to that same prompt. *gulp*
Of course, it will be the same as taking my proverbial pants off in public by doing that, but what would be the point of taking a risky journey if there is no risk taking involved?

Subscribe to win

About the book -> http://buff.ly/2nzMZ4y
A last word... as mentioned in my previous post, four people stand a chance to win a small swag pack by signing up for my mailing list before the end of March.
  • The swag pack is limited to South African residents only.
  • However, for international friends signing up, I will give a discount voucher to an additional four winners of the ebook version of JOURNEY.
  • You don't need to take part in the Blog Challenge (but I would love it if you did!) or buy any of my books to be eligible to win.

So, are you brave enough to embark on this journey to happiness with me?

Monday, 13 March 2017

Live in Balance: Time to just carry on

As I sat down in front of my computer to compose my blog post for this week, I realised that I have nothing to say. No wise words, no boring words, just nothing. So instead of waffling my way through 500 words or so to put something on my blog, I am putting my 6 graphs of progress up. And that's it.
Next week, along with everyone else, I will reveal my theme for the A-to-Z Blog Challenge.
There will also be three swag packs (South African residents only) to give away to subscribers to my mailing list. Details next week.


Until then, Live in Balance, my friends!

Linzé Brandon, Live in Balance, Goals 2017

Linzé Brandon, Live in Balance, Goals 2017

Linzé Brandon, Live in Balance, Goals 2017

Linzé Brandon, Live in Balance, Goals 2017

Linzé Brandon, Live in Balance, Goals 2017

Linzé Brandon, Live in Balance, Goals 2017


Monday, 6 March 2017

Live in Balance: Connections, Inter-connections and Threads that Bind

Have you ever wondered what it means to be happy? In recent weeks I have been musing about the concept. The question came to mind while reading Stephanie Dowrick's book, Creative Journal Writing. The book is not about what it means to be happy, but it planted a few ideas for a book of my own. These things happen, and I am sure not a foreign concept to any other writer: read a book and ideas pop into your head that makes you ponder some new ideas. Eventually, I did more than think about it.
Linzé Brandon, Live in Balance, Goals 2017

So what is happiness?

According to Wikipedia: “Happiness is a mental or emotional state of well-being defined by positive or pleasant emotions ranging from contentment to intense joy. Happy mental states may also reflect judgments by a person about their overall well-being. A variety of biological, psychological, economic, religious and philosophical approaches have striven to define happiness and identify its sources.
Various research groups, including positive psychology and happiness economics, are employing the scientific method to research questions about what “happiness” is, and how it might be attained.”
And here I thought it was just a simple matter of an emotional high resulting from the achievement of some goal or a positive personal thing. It would seem that people, a lot smarter than I, have been pondering this same question and still haven't formulated a definitive answer. Who would have thought?

So now I am writing a book?

While I would love to say yes to the book idea, it is not as simple as that plonking my butt into my chair and bleeding on top of my keyboard (liberal paraphrase of the Hemingway quote - sorry!). For a start, I am no psychologist, but then the idea for the book is not about to write about happiness either.
I know, I am contradicting myself even as you read this. This seed of an idea still needs a lot more research before it could be considered a 'book idea'.
The problem I am invariably stuck with: how much research and what to read?
While I consider myself smart enough to know to stay away from the formal academic publications, several articles and suggested books have crossed my path in recent weeks. Luck? Or fate perhaps? While I believe that nothing ever happens without reason, I have started to read books and articles completely outside of my comfort zone.
Remember, I am an engineer, and any material to do with human behaviour or philosophy or psychology would generally make me green around the gills.
However, I found myself immersed in a new world and am fascinated by what I found.

Linzé Brandon, Live in Balance, Goals 2017

Connections, inter-connections, and threads that bind

While reading (and studying) these publications somewhere in subconscious mind I get the feeling that there are more to all of these topics than what I can see at first glance. Somewhere, somehow the topics of journal writing, happiness, achievements of goals, life and my Live in Balance goals are connected. Of course, very few things in this world stand independently on their own feet.
These connections, to my mind at least, are threads of lessons I have to learn or tie together in my quest to Live in Balance, and not only for this year.
While these threads have a logical connection, it is the non-rational, the non-academic, gut feel there-is-a-link-for-me that I have to find. Maybe you have found yours, or perhaps you are still seeking, but this journey for has turned into far more than I have anticipated when I made my list for 2017.

Now, about that book...

During the month of April, there are two challenges going out to the world for writers and bloggers: Camp NaNoWriMo and the A-to-Z Blog Challenge.
I have taken part in both and have as a result published books (fiction and non-fiction) afterward.
With Camp, I usually prefer fiction, while the blog challenge lends itself to both fiction and non-fiction. The problem is time and I don't have more than two hours per day during the week, about double that on weekends. So the solution was there before my eyes - I can do both at the same time.
Develop the book idea with blog posts, and it would be great if you offered your opinions as we go along. Then I can also use the words for my Camp target during April. Remember that word count target I have for my Live in Balance year?
*taking a deep breath here* It is not easy putting myself out there, but I believe that I can do it. What I also know is that feedback from you, my readers, could help to develop this seed into a good idea.
In fact, I think it could be a great idea with your help. Are you in?

Wednesday, 1 March 2017

Book Feature: ALL THAT GLITTERS by Liza Treviño

~ All That Glitters by Liza Treviño ~
Book Tour - 1st to 10th March


Book Details:

Title: All That Glitters - A
Tale of Sex, Drugs and Hollywood Dreams


Author: Liza Treviño

Genre: Women’s Contemporary Fiction

Publisher: Koehler Books 

Published Date: March 1, 2017

Language: English

ISBN-10: 1633933083

ISBN-13: 978-1633933088



Book Links:


Synopsis:

Alexandria Moreno—clever, sexy, ambitious and, at times, self-destructive. She blazes a path from Texas to Los Angeles at the dawn of the 1980s to make her dreams of becoming an A-list Hollywood film director come true. She and her best friend arrive in Los Angeles with little more than hope and the determination to make it big. Alex, a beauty as dark and mysterious as her scarred heart, stands at the bottom of the Hollywood mountain looking up, fighting for her chance to climb to the top. Will her quest to live fast and take no prisoners on her way to success destroy her in the end?


All That Glitters is a women’s fiction Jackie Collins-type saga that introduces a strong, driven Latina heroine at the center of a rags-to-riches story spanning a decade of action. Along the way, Alexandria walks the fine line separating ambition and self-destruction, and discovers that some sacrifices will cost her everything.


What early readers are saying:

"Treviño tells her story with wit, intelligence, and an undercurrent of sadness at the plight women face to make a name for themselves as human beings instead of strictly as women. Treviño may have cloaked her ideas in entertaining vignettes and snappy dialogue, but underneath is a bite that stays with you."

— Jonathan Marcantoni, author and publisher of La Casita Grande Press.

"Liza has a way of taking you with her as she tells this very compelling story. She draws readers in with her as she describes scenes and characters with colorful detail and vivid imagination. This story is a testament to it's title: it really glitters!"

—Reesha Goral, author, The Servant Boy

"With distant echoes of Jacqueline Susann’s Valley of the Dolls in the background, Alexandria Moreno, the protagonist of All that Glitters, chases after the allure of Hollywood, all the time substituting pills, booze and sex for genuine happiness. It is only after she reaches success that she has an awakening leading her to realize the emptiness of her aspiration, and finally accepting true love. Kudos to Liza Treviño for giving us this unique image of the New Latina! I urge reading All that Glitters. You won’t regret it."

—Graciela Limón, author


Read an Excerpt:


Los Angeles

Oscar Night, 1990

When did things start going wrong?

Alexandria Moreno gulped another swig of champagne from the bottle. She picked at its broken gold foil. It was the same stuff she used to buy back in the days when spending more than ten dollars on bubbly was an extravagance. Now she sat in the best limo money could buy, inching along the craggy hillside road waiting for her turn to put in an appearance at the first of many scheduled post-Oscar parties. She was obligated to dole out heartfelt hugs and kisses to any of the beautiful people who might want one. Tonight, everyone was going to want a piece of her. She was the girl of the hour.

Until recently, Moreno had been an unknown writer-producer. She rocked Hollywood, winning Academy Awards for Best Director and Original Screenplay for the lushly violent, low-budget film, Win or Lose. Moreno, widely considered a dark horse contestant in the Oscar race, was the first Hispanic woman to be nominated, and win.

Two golden statues for writing and directing lay on the limo’s floor and the vehicle glided to the top of Hollywood’s heights. Beyond the winding canyon road, the Los Angeles electrified grid shimmered like Moreno’s own personal cauldron of gold. She understood that more than just a movie had won tonight.

She had won.

So why doesn’t it feel better?

Why don’t I feel better?

Despite everything she’d done to reach this moment of glory, Alex understood that none of it mattered. Not one bit. No matter what happened to her, she was still alone and drinking the same convenience-store champagne.

“Want some of this blow, babe?” Nick sniffed and dropped his head back with a slight shake, giving the chemicals a little jumpstart in the brain he liked to say.

“No thanks,” she said, “I don’t want to mix tonight.” Alex turned her attention from the scrubby hillside to handsome Nick Sirianni sitting across from her, casually relaxed in his Armani tuxedo. Though he favored stiff Wall Street suits, Nick was always casually relaxed due to the fact that he was worth millions from a Hollywood Midas touch.

Alex heard Leonard Cohen’s gravel-rubbed, breathless voice floating faintly through the air, crooning his patented melancholy love proclamations, and she couldn’t help but let her eyes wander along Nick’s impeccably tailored suit. Her hands absently grazed the familiar bluish-purple marks on her wrists currently hidden under make-up.

Nick’s thin lips curled into a slow, understanding grin. “Fine, but I have some X for later, and I don’t care what you’ve taken already,” he said in a tone Alex had learned not to question. “I’ve got plans for you, babe.”

“I guess it’s gonna be a long night.”

“The longest ever.”

Alex could tell he had taken off. She absently twirled a lock of her black, shoulder-length hair.

“Hey,” Nick nudged her leg with his polished leather dress shoe, “let me see.”

“Not right now.”

“I’m not asking, Alley Cat. Let me see. And do it right.”

Alex locked eyes with him, but she relented.

She found the fold of her straight wraparound skirt of crepe and beading that draped to the floor. She peeled it back and uncrossed her legs beneath the gown, giving Nick a peek-a-boo of her

narrow ankle and high-heeled foot. She loosened her knees, proving to Nick she’d followed his instructions.

Nick looked her over and loosened his collar.

“Good girl,” Nick said and shifted toward her, the leather seat creaking beneath him. He knelt between her legs and softly traced the length of her pale grey stocking from her shoe, along her leg, up to the matching garter, and over her supple brown thigh exposed between the garter and its straps. Nick kissed her just above where the stockings ended. He breathed in deeply and peered up to her.

“I gotta have a taste, baby,” he said and dipped his handsome face between her thighs.

Alex sighed and sank back into her seat.

How did things get so out of control? Isn’t tonight supposed to be everything I’ve worked for? Everything I’ve sacrificed for? Or, what I’ve sacrificed everyone for?

Alex knew she had purposely cut off anyone who had the misfortune of ever giving a damn about her. And there were such people.

It certainly wasn’t Nick. She’d made her deal with this particular devil nearly a year ago. Things between them were comfortably tawdry. Nick owned her. She knew it. He knew it. They had an understanding.

A flicker nudged her: so many things that could have been. She took another swig of champagne, letting the alcohol’s fizz and burn push everything back into the darkness.

Alex registered Nick’s velvet tongue expertly stroking her crevices, and she couldn’t help but give him all the access he wanted. She felt him smile when she dropped her head back and settled deeper into the limo’s bench. The car halted forward and the lazy, swaying sax turned up the tension in Cohen’s sonic plea for love.

Alex peered beyond the cracked sunroof, searching the starless LA sky for some answers. A corner of the tinted sunroof caught her faint reflection and she saw a vacant-eyed, thirty two-year-old wasted stranger. She’d never known herself less than at this moment. Her passion for work was burned out and, even tonight, she couldn’t muster excitement. Now, everything was just a game requiring too much effort.

She shut her eyes tight and sucked in air sharply, breathing in the car’s mixture of broken-in leather and artificial lemon scents. She clasped at Nick’s broad shoulder, wringing the expensive jacket sleeve as if it were nothing more than a cheap cocktail napkin. After a moment, she relaxed.

Nick brushed a sweet kiss on her inner thigh before he returned the thin black crepe material of her skirt to its full length. He slid back to his seat across from her and smoothed his hair back.

“Damn, you taste good, honey.” He wiped his mouth with the back of his hand.

“We’re next in line, ma’am,” the chauffeur’s voice crackled through the intercom. The limo moved into place with a definite stop.

Nick grinned. “It’s show time, Alley Cat.”

The cool night air took Alex by surprise as she waded into the sea of people and flashing cameras. She staggered, unsure she could move.

“One foot in front of the other,” Nick said in his soft voice through her hair. “I’ll get you a drink once we get inside.”

Alex smiled serenely and nodded. She focused on the live band somewhere in the distance belting out a Sinatra standard. Her eyes found the majestic Griffith Observatory looming in the distance, hovering above the white party tents.

Inside, the camera flashes kept coming.

“And here we are,” Nick offered as he swiped a couple of champagne flutes from a roving waiter’s tray. “This should get ya right, babe.”

Alex took the glass automatically. Another bulb flashed near her and she saw blue sprinkles. She regained focus quickly, but then her stomach dropped. Across the room was the last person she wanted to see.


◊◊◊


Jamie Douglas stood out in any crowd. Angular looks punctuated by oceanic blue eyes, a naturally lean athleticism, and down-to-earth boyishness had made him a reigning movie star around the world for almost twenty years. And right now, Alex saw Jamie’s eyes find hers through the crowd. When they caught each other, a flash sparked between them like one of those popping camera bulbs. Jamie’s surprised look gave way to a lopsided grin; it was a look so familiar to her.

Alex registered Nick snake his arm around her thin waist and she broke her gaze from Jamie.

“Okay, Alley Cat, time for our victory lap.”

“Perfect timing,” she said.

Timing—everything always came down to timing. It seemed to her that her timing had always been off. Not crazy off, just that extra millisecond that pushed everything either too early or too late. And now, she understood that it was too late.

Suddenly, she couldn’t bear to go through with the whole charade of tonight. Maybe, she couldn’t even bear to go through with the whole charade of her life any longer. Just leave, a soft voice whispered inside her head. There’s nothing written you have to stick around. It’s practically programmed into your DNA that you’ll be checking out of this world early.

All at once, Alex understood that simple fact. She, Alex Moreno, would leave Los Angeles tonight as anonymously as she had arrived nearly a decade earlier. She knew that wasn’t an entirely accurate account of how she’d started.

Now I’m alone, and that’s just how I knew things would always turn out.

Author Bio:



Liza Treviño hails from Texas, spending many of her formative years on the I-35 corridor of San Antonio, Austin and Dallas.  In pursuit of adventure and a Ph.D., Liza moved to Los Angeles where she compiled a collection of short-term, low-level Hollywood jobs like script girl, producer assistant and production assistant.  Her time as a Hollywood Jane-of-all-trades gave her an insider's view to a world most only see from the outside, providing the inspiration for creating a new breed of Latina heroine.




Catch Up with Liza Treviño on her Website