Monday, 14 August 2017

This is why my 2017 Goals are still on Track (mostly) – Part 1

A badge Linzé earned in a group
where writers hold themselves
accountable for daily writing
I wrote my first word of a first draft way back in 2001. While my odyssey to publication took another eleven years, I didn’t just write this one book. This first book was not my first published book, for that, I had to write some more before publication would be an option.
Why eleven years? There is no magic to this number, it was how long it took for me to figure out that I might actually be good enough.
What I did in those eleven years, established the foundation of why I now describe myself as a writer—I wrote.
In fact, I wrote another eight full-length novels: two are published, and the third is planned for October this year. The rest must wait their turn…it is a series after all.
In the years since that first attempt, writing became a habit. A daily habit that to date produced several more manuscripts, to the effect that this year my total creative word count now stands at over 2,200,000 words.
I started keeping a spreadsheet that I update at the end of every evening’s writing session. It was more curiosity in the beginning, but it has become more than that…it’s my daily ‘personal trainer’ if you like.

Source: Medium
Seeing the number of words I have written thus far is inspirational, but it is the words that have yet to come to life, that truly gets my writing brain into gear. So many stories that still need to be told!
Of course, I did not write as many words back then as I do now. In my own defense, it did take a while for my blonde brain cells to truly get the message: if you want to write, it is exactly what you should do. Write. Every day.
Some people set themselves a daily word target, others a daily time to write. I fall into the latter category. With a full-time job, my writing time is limited, and I want to squeeze every second that I can get out of it.
NaNoWriMo months change the goals a bit, but the words still count. They must. With an annual goal of one full-length novel, plus a few shorter stories to keep the creative juices flowing, I simply cannot help myself anymore—I have to write. When I don’t, I feel as if I am going to work without wearing a bra—something essential is missing.
Fortunately, that is one piece of clothing I have not yet forgotten!
I suppose it becomes a habit like brushing my teeth or putting on said bra. So that means when those words are not written, my creative mind will rot in a manner of speaking. Trust me, the zombie look will not look good on me.

Source: Medium
Whatever the target is you set for yourself, time or words, make it a habit. Habits become entrenched in the definition of who we are.
If you write, you will feel like a writer, you will think like a writer…you will be a writer.

Before you disappear back to reality, please take a moment to share this post with your friends. Thank you! 💜

Linzé Brandon is the author of several books and short stories. She is a project manager, closet artist, sometimes blogger and wife to an engineer who likes to play with a camera. The unicorns and fairies love playing with their German shepherds almost as much as their human pack members.

Wednesday, 26 July 2017

Book Feature: THE GHOST KING by Jeff Altabef

Welcome! Today I’m helping author Jeff Altabef launch his latest book, The Ghost King!

Excerpt: Chapter 5

Dermot’s face looked hard and resolute, as he appeared every bit the King his tribe needed. Done with Eamon, he turned toward Aaliss and softened his tone. “You and Wilky are welcome to join us on the field of battle. We could use your sword and Wilky’s... advice. You both have proven yourself worthy to be members of our tribe. It would honor me if you would join us.”
Join the tribe?
All eyes turned to her, and heat singed her face. She had no desire to commit to the Butcher Tribe. She desired a simple life, but she also needed to keep Eamon and Wilky safe. How could she do that and refuse? She needed time to think. “We will consider your generous offer and let you know our decision in the morning.”
Dermot looked disappointed, but he nodded. “So be it. May the herd be forever strong and the heavens guide us in all matters.” He rose and stalked off.
The War Council dispersed, leaving her, Wilky, and Eamon behind by the Naming Tree. Eamon rubbed his hand through his shaggy hair and walked in circles. “I can’t believe he’s doing this to me. Has he no faith in me?”
Aaliss stood in his path and forced him to stop. She pressed her hand against his chest. “Protecting the Stronghold is important. If the war goes badly, you’ll have to make sure the rest of the tribe is safe.”
“My place is at Dermot’s side. He should see that. I made an oath with P’mina to fight these invaders. I can’t stay behind now.”
Wilky stepped beside him. “You must come to the battle. We all must go. Otherwise, only darkness.”
Wilky might as well have swung a war hammer into Aaliss’s stomach. She seemed to have so little control over events. Surely, the Stronghold would be a safer place for Eamon than the battlefield, yet Wilky’s decree meant that she couldn’t keep him in the stone city behind the sturdy walls.
“We all have to go to the front to have a chance to win? Are you sure?” she asked, even though she knew the answer.
Wilky nodded. “Even then the result is hidden in shadows. I only see glimpses of light.”
Eamon whispered. “That settles it then. We’ll have to escape tonight.” He glanced over his shoulder.
Two armed members of the King’s Guard stood ten paces away, watching them.
Great. Another escape from the Stronghold, and this time we’ll be heading straight into the storm itself.
“There’s more,” said Wilky.
“More?” asked Eamon.
“A witch leads the Wolves. Darkness gathers behind her like a long shadow.” Eamon spit on the ground, his way of warding off evil spirits. Aaliss narrowed her eyes. “Witches can die like anyone else.” Her voice sounded sure, but her heart wasn’t. What did she know about witches?


Who are Aalis, Wilkey & why are they going to war? Will there be more magic & mayhem in this second book? One of the best parts of this release is you can get both books for only 99c right now!
What else is so great about this release? This exclusive excerpt! There are 5 featured excerpts on this tour. One on the Novel Publicity page, one on Jeff Altabef's Website, and 3 spread among the 20+ blogs that have helped Jeff with this release!

You can also enter this rafflecopter for a chance to win $50, signed paperbacks, or crown necklace!

Special note for reviewers! If you reviewed the Ghost King or Red Death, email your review links to Naomi@novelpublicity.com & you’ll get entered for a $50 reviewer only prize!

About the Book

An Ancient Prophecy foretold.
An Evil haunts the land.
A battle looms against overwhelming odds.

Led by a powerful witch, a wild invading army threatens to tear the Soulless lands apart. To survive, the three tribes must join together, but old grievances and hatred divide them. Only Wilky can unite them, but when he glimpses the future, he sees only a glimmer of hope; too much of the future remains veiled in darkness.
As the battle approaches, King Dermot orders his brother, Eamon, to stay behind at the Stronghold and defend against a possible siege. Eamon, who took an oath to fight the invaders, defies his brother, risks everything, and plunges into a desperate race with Aaliss and Wilky to unite the tribes.
Enemies from all sides conspire against them. Only together can they hope to succeed against the witch who will stop at nothing to destroy them. Yet even united, they will need magic to defeat this enemy at their door.
As the battle looms, only one chance at survival remains--the Ghost King--but who is he, and what will be the price of their redemption?

About the Author
Jeff Altabef is an award-winning author who lives in New York with his wife, two daughters, and Charlie the dog. He spends time volunteering at the writing center in the local community college. After years of being accused of "telling stories," he thought he would make it official. He writes in both the thriller and young adult genres. Fourteenth Colony, a political thriller, was his debut novel. Evolved Publishing has published Jeff’s second thriller, Shatter Point, which won the Pinnacle Book Achievement Award for Fall 2014 in the category of Best Thriller.Jeff's first young adult novel, Wind Catcher: A Chosen Novel will be published in March by Evolved Publishing. He's extremely excited that his daughter, Erynn Altabef, is his co-author on the Chosen Series. As an avid Knicks fan, Jeff is prone to long periods of melancholy during hoops season. Jeff has a column on The Examiner focused on writing and a blog designed to encourage writing by those that like telling stories.

You can follow Jeff on Facebook, Twitter, or join his newsletter!

Saturday, 22 July 2017

Q & A with...Russ Colchamiro

Book @ Goodreads
Today I welcome Russ Colchamiro to the Broomstick.

Q: What are your ambitions for your writing career?
A: To become a multiple best-selling author who can retire to a private island.  And, of course, to continue to write the best books I know how to write at the time that I write them. I want readers to have a great time with my books, eager to read the next one. I’d like to spin off into other mediums as well, getting back into comic books, and writing for TV. I’m working on it.

Q: Tell us about your latest release.
A:  Love, Murder & Mayhem is a new anthology from Crazy 8 Press, with 15 stories from 15 authors. While I’m typically a novelist, I served as editor for this one, and contributed one of the stories. Each tale contains at least one act of love or romance, at least one murder, with lots of mayhem, all in various science fiction settings. We have superhero and supervillain stories. Off-world and space cruiser stories. We’ve also got A.I., private eyes, sleep surrogates, time travel, an aliens/monsters mash-up and … one DuckBob!

Q: Give us an insight into your protagonist.
A:  My story is “The Hardwicke Files: The Case of My Old New Life and the One I Never Knew.” It centers on Angela Hardwicke, a private eye in that classic Sam Spade style, fedora, pinstripe suit, knows the angles. She’s appeared in two of my books already—first as a drop-in character in Genius de Milo, and then as being more substantial in Astropalooza—and I plan to write an entire series based on her. But I wanted to experiment first, getting a better feel for who she is, and her rhythms, with her in the lead. I also know her origin story, which I’ll write at some point, and I know where her personal arc is headed. I’m really into crime fiction these days and plan to stick with it for quite a while.

Q: Where do the ideas come from?
A:  Anywhere and everywhere. They usually just pop into my head when I least expect them. Sometimes I know the kind of story I want to write, so I’ll do some research, or just play around with the concept, but more often than not, one minute there’s no story, and the next minute there is.

Q: Do you work to an outline or plot or do you prefer just see where an idea takes you?
A:  The longer I’m at this the more I do a lot of ‘pre-writing’ and outlining. I usually take 2-4 weeks working out the plot, and putting the basics to paper, including dialogue, setting, and key elements, and then go back when I’m done and follow my own blueprint. It allows me to write with more assertiveness, but also leaves room for inspiration—where the magic happens.

Q: Any tips on how to get through the dreaded writer’s block?
A:  Movement. Get up from your desk. Go into another room. Take a walk. Exercise. Just physically move around and change your physical perspective. I do some of my best writing while out walking my dog. I’m also a big believer in talking things out loud – to myself. The more I talk it through the more likely it is that I’ll figure out why I’m stuck. I’ll actually hear the problem. I’ll go through my story or scene and then go, “I really need … wait! Oh. THAT’S why it doesn’t work! I need to do this.” Motion is a remarkable catalyst.

Q: What can we expect from you down the line?
A:  I’ll be sitting down soon to write my first full-length Hardwicke book, and I’m currently about two-thirds done with a top secret project I can’t talk about yet. After that … I have about a half dozen projects in my queue; it’s just a matter of deciding which one to write next.

About the Editor: Russ Colchamiro
Russ Colchamiro is the author of the rollicking space adventure, Crossline, the hilarious sci-fi backpacking comedy series, Finders Keepers, Genius de Milo, and Astropalooza, and is editor of the new anthology, Love, Murder & Mayhem, all with Crazy 8 Press.
Russ lives in New Jersey with his wife, two children, and crazy dog, Simon, who may in fact be an alien himself. Russ has also contributed to several other anthologies, including Tales of the Crimson Keep, Pangaea, and Altered States of the Union, and TV Gods 2. He is now at work on a top-secret project, and a Finders Keepers spin-off.
As a matter of full disclosure, readers should not be surprised if Russ spontaneously teleports in a blast of white light followed by screaming fluorescent color and the feeling of being sucked through a tornado. It’s just how he gets around — windier than the bus, for sure, but much quicker.




Wednesday, 12 July 2017

COVER REVEAL: Avishi by Saiswaroopa Iyer

~ Cover Reveal ~
Avishi by Saiswaroopa Iyer
12th July, 2017


Long before the times of Draupadi and Sita
Immortalised in the hymns of the Rig Veda
But largely forgotten to the memory of India
Is the Warrior Queen with an iron leg, Vishpala

Brought up in the pristine forest school of Naimisha, Avishi reaches the republic of Ashtagani in search of her destiny. When Khela, the oppressive King of the neighbouring Vrishabhavati begins to overwhelm and invade Ashtagani, Avishi rises to protect her settlement. But peril pursues her everywhere.
Separated from her love, her settlement broken, with a brutal injury needing amputation of her leg, can Avishi overcome Khela?

About the Author:
Saiswaroopa is an IITian and a former investment analyst turned author. Her keen interest in ancient Indian history, literature and culture made her take to writing. Her debut novel Abhaya, set in the times of Mahabharata was published in 2015. Avishi, her second novel set in Vedic India explores the legend of India’s first mentioned female warrior queen Vishpala.
She holds a certificate in Puranas from Oxford Centre for Hindu Studies. She is also trained in Carnatic Classical music and has won a state level gold medal from Tirumala Tirupati Devasthanams. 


This Cover Reveal is brought to you by Book Review Tours



Monday, 10 July 2017

Me, myself and the war zone in my mouth

See www.campnanowrimo.org 
Yep, it's been a while, but hey things have been moving fast around here.
First off - I was in and out of a day clinic today. For the mountainous operation to remove my wisdom teeth. Amazingly enough, I don't look that blown up, only wish I could say the same for the inside of my mouth!
So it's soup and water, liquidy and soft foods for me for this week, but I am not complaining. Too much. That is until Francois gets home, pizza box under the arm and I am like - go away!
On the real stuff - my Live in Balance Goals, I am stuck at the same weight for more than a month now. Ha, maybe the liquid diet this week will help to kickstart it once more.
Writing has slowed a little, but editing has gone into high gear. All I can say? Thank you, Camp NaNoWriMo!

And it has been a real ride too. It is the 10th of July today, and in these 10 days, I have edited more chapters in my next novel, than the 10 weeks before July. If all goes well, there are only 3 more chapters (maybe four, since I have to make a big change at the end) to go and then voilá.

Oh, and in two days' there will be a cover reveal here - again. How exciting is that? Pop over and have a look.

Until next time!
LinzéB

Monday, 19 June 2017

Special Book Feature and Guest Post: HEIR OF VENGEANCE by Fiona Tarr

Fiona's 5 Top Tips for Marketing
It’s been three years since I released my first fantasy book and now, as my 4th book Heir of Vengeance is released I can honestly say, I’ve learnt a lot since then. I naively wrote my first book and released it into the wilds of Amazon with high hopes, but quickly discovered there is so much more to publishing, than simply writing a good story.
With an estimated twenty million books for sale on Amazon, how on earth is anyone supposed to find, read and review my novels? I have spoken with authors who have up to seven books published, but have seen little or no sales and no reviews on their hard and heartfelt stories. So what’s the secret?
Marketing! Marketing is the secret. Not that sleazy spammy ‘buy my book’ kind of marketing, but solid long term marketing. There are some exceptionally solid sources of marketing for authors out in the wide world of the internet and I have spent the last three years piecing them together into a strategy I use and have found to be successful.
By success I mean, I am selling books, I am getting reviews and I am building a network of readers and like-minded authors to network with. That doesn’t mean I have a big publishing contract on the horizon, or expect to hit the top seller list any time soon, but I am making progress.
So what are my 5 tips for marketing?
  1. Marketing is a long-term strategy towards long-term readers and sales.
  2. Write more books. It’s very difficult to build a reader database or fan base with only one published book.
  3. Ensure your work is the best it can be. No one wants to read or review a poorly edited book. Get your work professionally edited.
  4. Be prepared to give away short stories, part of your book or all of your first book to gain email addresses and new readers. It’s just like applying for a job. Your work is your resume and you need to get it into as many hands as possible to gain interest and credibility for the long-term.
  5. Network with other authors and work hard to help them as much as they help you.

Heir of Vengeance is the 4th and final book in my current series, although I do have a Novella coming out as a prequel before Christmas. Buy it now for 99 cents – Limited Time Only!
Available on Amazon or all other digital retailers here.

To celebrate the release of Heir of Vengeance I am offering a chance to win the entire series. All 4 e-books to be won.
To enter you can either LIKE my Facebook page here.
Join my Facebook Blog Tour Event here.
Or download my first book Destiny of Kings FREE here.
Or, you can do ‘all of the above’  for 3 chances to win!

Find me on
Twitter: @fionatarr
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/fionatarr.atime2write/
Website: atime2write.com.au

In case you missed the buy link above. Grab Heir of Vengeance here.


About the Author
My fantasy novels are fast paced, character driven historical stories with strong mystical, spiritual and theological themes mixed with elements of the classic heroic/epic fantasy genre. My writing was first inspired by the heroic fantasy style of David Gemmell, but I have most recently been compared to Traci Harding.
It turns out writing is in the blood. My Great Uncle was George Johnston (My Brother Jack) and although I don't claim to have his renowned literary style, I do write a mean fantasy novel.
I find culture, faith, philosophy and sociology intriguing and these topics are at the heart of my fantasy.
I live in Noosa, Australia with my husband and two sons and I run a small business involving tourism and watersports. Occasionally I dabble in advocacy, mentoring and spend time on my personal entrepreneurial pursuits. When I am not writing I am either kitesurfing, stand up paddle surfing, travelling or volunteering in some capacity. I love cheese, chocolate and living a creative life.

Sunday, 4 June 2017

Live in Balance: What do you think?

The last time I blinked it was my brother and sister-in-law's birthday (they were born on the same date), and that was the 21st of May and like yesterday, wasn't it? The next thing there is an email to remind me to register for Camp NaNoWriMo.
My idea for Camp in July
Seriously? But that's in July and a long time to go yet! And yet, the month of July is only another 26 days away.

Winter has arrived in full force in my part of the country. The days are short (just over ten hours of sunlight) and the nights are cold.  While some parts of South Africa have warm days, we are praying for the rains to come in the Western Cape. The province is caught in a severe drought and receives the majority of its rainfall in the short winter months. Their rainy season is really cold and often accompanied by dangerously high winds. Let's hope the weather forecasters have their predictions in a row and the rain will arrive this coming week.
Where summer is a time for action and partaking in the enjoyments of life, winter seems to be a time for reflection and quiet. At least, that is how to experience this time of year. With the email from Camp NaNoWriMo, I was reminded that my Live in Balance goals for the year needs to be reassessed and perhaps adjusted.
Tempted as I am to simply delete one or two from my list, I decided to take a step back and have a good look at myself. These goals are mine. They are choices I made; commitments I made to myself. If I delete just one, what does that say about me and my commitment to myself to live the life I want? To Live in Balance and be a better, healthier version of myself. Should I just delete those goals where my performance was less than stellar, or worse where I have not performed at all?
I don't have an answer yet, but I will need to spend some time to reconsider my list of Live in Balance goals for this year. What you can be sure of is that I won't just give up. This is not a competition with anyone else. This list is about me, and my goals. Giving up because something turned out to be more challenging than I thought, is damn sure not an excuse in my book.
Have I given up on things in the past? Of course, I have as I am sure you have as well. Trying to milk the proverbial dead cow, is a waste of time. Life is way too short to worry about things where I cannot change the outcome, no matter how much effort I put in. Was it a complete waste? I considered it a learning experience that fortunately, did not cost me a lot of time, nor much money.
As we approach the halfway point of this year, I will spend some time to assess my progress towards my goals, and at the same time consider my goals for next year. Call it my first draft of 2018 if you like.
As with all first drafts, it will require time to sit before the editing/updating process gets underway. This is not a book; it is the next year my life we are talking about after all.
Maybe that is the reason so many people fail at their resolutions. They make impulsive choices that are not properly thought through.
What do you think? Do I stand a better chance of success because I spend the time to think about and plan my goals for the next year?

Tuesday, 2 May 2017

Book Review: EATING ROBOTS by Stephen Oram

The future is bright…or is it?
Step into a high-tech vision of the future with the author of Quantum Confessions and Fluence, Stephen Oram.
Featuring health-monitoring mirrors, tele-empathic romances and limb-repossessing bailiffs, Eating Robots explores the collision of utopian dreams and twisted realities in a world where humanity and technology are becoming ever more intertwined.
Sometimes funny, often unsettling, and always with a word of warning, these thirty sci-fi shorts will stay with you long after you’ve turned the final page.

A universal booklinker link that detects which country you're in and links to Eating Robots myBook.to/EatingRobots


Linzé's Review
Each and every story surprised me, some in a good way, some not so good. These surprises are purely based on my personal preferences and reactions to reading them. While I liked some stories more than others, each story was well executed. The author manages in every single instance to draw the reader deep into the story line. The characters are formed quickly in the mind of the reader, and it isn't difficult to empathise with them, irrespective of the details of the plot or the outcome of the story.
Some of the stories have a gruesome subplot and yet the innocence with which the characters are portrayed makes it easy to be drawn into their world where they 'live' their realities and beliefs. As the reader, my reactions were purely based on my own world view, and yet the author did an amazing job of tempering any subjective reactions that someone from our time would have towards the activities that the characters engage in. Science fiction lends itself to a wide base of technological developments in various fields, some of which are more palatable to us than others. By exploring these technologies in the stories portrayed here, our eyes are opened to the practicalities of what these technologies may develop into.
Overall the stories have been written in an exceptional style. Science fiction sometimes makes 'showing, not telling' a difficult thing to accomplish in creative writing, but the author has done so with a high level of skill.
Despite my personal reactions (I grew nauseous while reading Real Meat and Eating Robots, and had to stop reading for a few minutes) the compilation is an excellent example of a collection of stories in the genre.
  
Linzé's rating: 💜💜💜💜

Book Feature: The N Days by John Murray McKay

Synopsis:
Charlotte Corday, an eighteen-year-old junkie, trying to survive on the crime-ridden streets of 1980s New York has a chance encounter with a group of five thugs beating a man to death behind a deli in Brooklyn. Through ways unknown to her yet, she manages to subdue the gang members using unheralded skills in combat and weaponry, killing three in the process. The man whose life she saved turns out to be a low-level enforcer for the New York Mafia. Impressed with her skills, Vince takes care of the injured Charlotte and slowly starts dragging her into a life of crime. He recognizes her potential as an assassin for the mob, digging his claws ever deeper into her. To keep her safe, Vince sends her to live with her two cross-dressing uncles in The Village (who also happens to run a clandestine gun-running operation above their salon.) She tries to live a normal life but her demons would not let her go, the blood on her hands a constant reminder of what she really is: a weapon.
Charlotte eventually goes looking into her past and discovers that she was part of a secret government-sponsored enhanced soldier program called Venom. She is imbued with the powers of legendary female warriors of history, giving her enhanced strength, recovery time and the fighting prowess of generations of deadly women. Unfortunately, this warps her mind and sends her life spiralling out of control in her quest for vengeance.


Determined to find the creators of Venom, Charlotte goes on a blood-soaked journey to find her origins, tearing New York City apart in the process. With the FBI and NYPD closing in on her after drug-fuelled massacre of thirty innocents, Vince offers Charlotte a tantalising proposition: A rooftop meeting between the creator of Venom and the head of the New York Mafia. With her finger on the sniper trigger, Charlotte has to make a decision: end the life of the man that ruined her entire existence or put a bullet through the most powerful Mafioso on the East Coast. She makes her choice but accidentally kills the mafia boss as he runs in front of her bullet. With Vince swearing a blood oath of vengeance on her, Charlotte goes on the run. Book one ends where her uncles smuggle Charlotte out of the country in a shipping container. Destination: Northern Ireland in the middle of the sectarian wars. With the knowledge that she can never go home, Charlotte Corday must forge a new path, one that runs straight through the blood-soaked streets of Belfast.


Story behind the story: 

I originally started a normal road trip novel across America from New York to Los Angeles. Unfortunately, it neversaw the light of day but a little spark was born that eventually became The N Days. I took the concept of a road trip across the USA and married it with the genre of Sci-Fi and Fantasy. The final inspiration was remembering a scene from the TV series' Once upon a time'. I originally planned for only a single volume but when I looked again, a 5 book beast was written. The rest is history.
Buy link: https://www.amazon.com/dp/1520228759 


Author Bio: 
I am a Pretoria, South Africa based writer of historical fiction and science fiction. I am currently a teacher in a local primary school. My previous publishing credits include “The N Days” through Night Chaser Ink Publishing in Australia. My second series 'The Venom Protocols' is a Summer Indie awards winner in 2016.

Sunday, 30 April 2017

Live in Balance: A to Z Challenge - Z is for...

Zero is not just a number...

Have you ever wished for a few minutes of silence? Or an hour or two of solitude? Few people actually want these things and the reasons vary from one person to the next. But why would you never want to be alone?

When zero is not the hero

Many people feel happy, in fact, they are at their happiest, when they are surrounded by people. People are noisy, to I guess the silence and the solitude go together in most cases. Is it even possible to be with other people 24/7? In our modern era of social media, it is. Different time zones, different times of the day. It doesn't matter where you are, the internet never sleeps. Then again...

Solitude will be inevitable at some point

What do you do when the power is down and with it all means to be online? Everything connected to our way of life is driven by technology and technology requires electricity. No power, no social media. It is a bad time to visit other people, now what? Do you freak out? Panic? Or do you shrug and go finish that painting you started last week? Or grab that book you have been threatening to read? Or search for a candle and catch up on your meditation or mindfulness practice?
The problem comes in when you are alone, even if the power is not the problem. Many people face that situation after a divorce, or children leaving home, or relocation to a new home. We can never completely avoid it.

Zero can be the hero

woman writing in a notebook
The best way to learn to deal with being alone is to control your time, your activities and your mind when you are. You can learn how to do that by choosing to be alone even for a short time. Find something to keep you occupied. An activity that you like, that could make you happy even though there is no one else around.
If you don't know what that is, take the time to find it. Explore new things. Take a moment to remember what you liked as a child, and translate that to the adult version.
Remember to record your journey and experiences in your journal. It is your time to be alone, isn't it?
--- * -- * -- * ---
This is the last post of this series of Finding your Happiness through Journal Writing in the A to Z Challenge. This is, however, not the last word on this subject and I encourage you to read more books and explore online articles on the subjects of journal writing and personal happiness. You will be doing it for yourself after all.
Until next time!
Linzé

Saturday, 29 April 2017

Live in Balance: A to Z Challenge - Y is for...

You in all your glory
Today we are doing a little art once more, and it couldn't be easier. You did this a lot when you were a child. Now we are just going to do the grown up version with a twist.
Who are you?
We as individuals have many roles in our daily lives. Some because we have to, and some because we choose to. So today we are going to use a very simple drawing to say who we are.
The steps are as follows:
pencil drawing, left hand, handmade paper
  1. Use your journal directly, or a piece of art paper suitable for watercolour paint or watercolour pencils. Make sure it is trimmed so it will fit the page of your journal (if necessary).
  2. Use a pencil to draw the outline of your non-dominant hand - just as you did when you were young. I kept my fingers slightly bent to make sure they fit on my paper.
  3. Use a permanent marker or pen, to redraw the pencil lines, and add a few details if you like. I added the wrinkles over my knuckles and the half-moons in my nails where I have them. Lastly, I added my wedding ring, since I was wearing it when I did the outline.
    watercolour paint, paint brush, pencil drawing of hand on white paper
  4. Activate the paint by spraying it with a little water. Then using a soft flat brush, paint in any random way, with random colours all over your sketch. If the colours flow together, that is perfect too.
    watercolour painted hand, multicolour drawing, two pens
  5. Let it dry otherwise, it will stain the pages of your journal.
  6. I used a silver gel marker to redraw my ring, but the details were then obscured. The ink of this pen is not conducive to drawing over it again, so I left it as is.
  7. Use a permanent pen and write down all your roles as you see them. You can make a list like I did, or you can write them all over, at angles, upside-down, whatever way you feel like.
  8. Sign and date your drawing, and glue it into your journal when you're done.
    watercolour painted drawing of a hand, handwritten text over image

Our roles change with time and also as we grow older. You can easily do this again at any time you feel like it. I do this hand drawing once a year, and it is always interesting to see what has changed, and what has remained the same.
  

This is our last art entry for the A to Z Challenge in 2017. I hope you enjoyed doing something a little different for your journal entries this month.

Friday, 28 April 2017

Live in Balance: A to Z Challenge - X is for...

Crossing out...high five!
small tick mark and cross in purple square
Do you ever go back to the todo lists you make to cross out the items that you have completed? (check out www.bulletjournal.com if you need a system to help manage those pesky to-do lists)
I am guilty too for not doing that. Sure the job is done, so why bother? We should bother. Internal validation of achievement is just as important as external recognition. Of course, no one is going to give you an award for completing the ironing today (well, in my book you deserve a medal!) but tasks completed give us some a sense of happiness too. Even the mundane tasks like ironing.
Checking back; moving forward
Todo lists in our journals are seldom simple tasks or goals that we set for ourselves. Often we beat ourselves up, because it is taking longer, or it is more difficult than what we expected. But if you look back to six months or just two months' entries ago, you will see progress to now. And so what if it is taking longer? You are growing. You are moving forward. The journey you are on is not an overnight kind of success journey. It is a life long journey with yourself.
Cross out?
In journal writing, we don't delete what was written in the past. Nor so we cross out the words of history. Compare yourself today with the person you have been, and see the changes. Rejoice in the happiness that you have achieved.
Note the path that you have travelled, and keep moving forward.
Only read entries that are weeks or months old to see the changes in yourself. Long lasting changes are subtle and take more time, but they are there and you will see that in you.
If you started your journal on 1 April 2017, then delay this entry for a while. Make a note of it, and come back to it at the end of June. Keep writing and work on finding your happiness, it is a journey after all.

Thursday, 27 April 2017

Live in Balance: A to Z Challenge - W is for...

Weapons and Words

hand holding sword blade, fake blood on palm
When you think about the saying 'the pen is mightier than the sword', you understand what it means. Words can hurt, and the wrong words spoken at the wrong time can cause a lot of damage to relationships. But you can also hurt yourself, even if you don't mean to.

Words in journals

Keeping a journal is a good thing. It is a place to explore your own private thoughts and dreams. But it can also be a place where you can put yourself down with negative thoughts and scathing words.

Be kind to yourself

We do have negative thoughts and feelings sometimes, but you have to be aware of these and the impact they could have if you continuously indulge in them.
Positive words and good thoughts will limit the impact. Make sure that when you feel down or depressed, that you watch the words you write in your journal. If there are many entries of that kind, it might be time to seek help to address these.
Journal writing can be therapeutic, but it cannot solve problems on behalf of a therapist or psychiatrist.

Put down the sword

fine line markers on black fabric, yellow, purple, pink, green
Make sure your entry today is focused on the positive things in your life. Consider a Gratitude or Happiness entry. If you cannot, perhaps it is time to seek the help of a professional.
Just remember that words can have a lot of power, and we need to make sure our inner dialogue is also helping us grow at all times.

Wednesday, 26 April 2017

Live in Balance: A to Z Challenge - V is for...

Value of invaluables
picture of a tape measure
You know as well as I that some things have no monetary value, purely because you cannot buy them. Things like friendship, love, empathy and a good steak. Okay, food is something you can buy, but the experience of enjoying a good meal is beyond the price you pay for it.
Value beyond money
We live in an increasingly materialistic world where people are more likely to judge your value based on what you own. House, car, jewellery, technology, to name but the items at the start of a long list.
But some things we own are of value to us, and not because of what they may be worth in an insurance claim. We own items that are special because they represent a tangible memory of a special person or event in our lives.
Of course, the item could be valuable like a wedding ring, but for most of us, it is the memories attached to the item that makes it irreplaceable.
Explore the value in your drawers or cupboards
image journal with pen, #atozchallenge text on side of the journal
Use your journal today to take a step or two back down memory lane. Name the item, and explore the memory attached to it. You can also stick a picture or drawing of it in your journal instead.
Why is this particular item the one that triggers your memory? What do you feel about the event or person at the time of the memory? How do you feel about them now?

Purely relying on our emotions for happiness results in a fleeting experience, but if we incorporate them into our journey, they become part of it. Build on the memories, good and bad, and take the best forward with you on your journey of happiness. 

Tuesday, 25 April 2017

Live in Balance: A to Z Challenge - U is for...

A to Z Challenge Badge 2017

Unique, are you?

Have you noticed how hard people are trying to either fit in or disappear into the wallpaper? Where are the things that make people stand out from the crowds? We're not talking genetics or things that you had no say in. Nor are celebrities good examples. There are exceptions, but they are few.
No, we are talking about us, normal people—who went to school, then to study something or the other, then working, getting married, raising a family...and then the cycle starts all over again.
And it's not about saving the world either. It is about being you, the person that experiences life, not only living it.

Make your experiences unique

Since I mentioned school (I include all levels of education here), let's start there. Have you studied anything new since writing that last exam paper? Not because your boss told you to, but because you wanted to. Not because there was something to achieve, like a certificate or promotion, but because you were interested in the subject. No? Why not? Aren't you curious about the world around us? It's history or scientific advancements. It's beauty expressed in all kinds of art and music. The people and our interaction with our environment. The list is endless.
Another thing is our relationships. When was the last time you truly connected with your spouse/partner? And not only physically, but emotionally and intellectually too. How about discussing that play you saw together, or maybe want to see together? Maybe it will help to get a babysitter for a few hours so that you can spend some time together to find that connection again.
Instead of the mindless hours spent in front of the TV, take control of your life and experience it.

Experience the uniqueness of you

We all feel at some point that life is passing us by. One day you twenty-five, at the cusp of your life, and the next moment you are sixty-five, and wondering what the hell happened?
Epictetus quote
Don't wait, or delay. There will never be a good time or the right opportunity, you have to make it happen.
If you're not sure what it is you need to experience, use your journal to let your thoughts guide you. Learn something new, and think about the experience, the knowledge and the change in you. Do something new and explore the experience.
Don't delay. Start your unique journey of experiencing life and happiness by taking control of your choices today.

Monday, 24 April 2017

Live in Balance: A to Z Challenge - T is for...

Time, the cross of the modern era
Apple, iWatch 2, image, digital watch-face
My digital watch
Have you noticed how obsessed we are with time? We wear watches, put clock apps on our mobile phones, have clocks in our cars, clocks on our walls and desks. Heck, here where I am sitting at my desk, at home, I can see at least 3 clocks: my watch, my fish tank and my computer screen. If I open the cover on my phone, there would be another.
It is as if we cannot live without those numbers that tell us...what? Time?
What is time?
According to Wikipedia[1], “Time is the indefinite continued progress of existence and events that occur in apparently irreversible succession from the past through the present to the future.”
Uh, okay?
While that sounds instinctively correct, it doesn't tell us much about what time actually is, does it?
image, fishtank, clock, time, calendar, temperature
My fish tank
Reading a bit more we see that the number (we note as the date or the time on a clock) is calculated as an event or occurrence measured from a reference.
If you know something about mathematics and science, you will know that there is such a thing as an international time standard from which all clocks derive their reference, or 'starting point' if you like. If there wasn't, there would be chaos in the world and we would have constant disputes as to when we should meet, or when something happened in history. But we don't because people started measuring time, a long time ago.
Evidence suggests that people started 'measuring' time about 6000 years ago by observing the lunar cycles.
Why did people need to know the time?
If your history is up to speed, you will remember that people were mostly farmers, or more correctly, depended on the seasons for their survival. They needed to have some kind of indication of when it would be a good time to plant food, when to expect rain, and when to look forward to the harvest.
They also used the lunar cycles for their religious ceremonies. So, we needed to know the time to survive and to give thanks to the gods for the bounty they provided.
Since then the human race's survival has taken a different turn - the concrete jungle and its rat race. So it is still a survival thing, although it is not our lives that depend on it so much anymore.
How do we measure time?
Historical records are filled with the devices that people used to measure time. Sundials, water clocks (which were surprisingly accurate), the hourglass, and mechanical clocks of various designs.
Today we measure time using an atomic clock. It is the reference standard mentioned earlier. A caesium source is used as the time reference. It is radiated with microwaves to observe the vibrations of electrons inside the Cs atom. The reference unit of measuring time is the second.
The Global Positioning System of satellites are used to synchronise clocks worldwide.
Time on a personal scale
While it is fascinating to know that we can measure time with mind-boggling accuracy, and that our ancestors didn't do that badly with their own time measuring devices, time means more than the hours, minutes, and seconds displayed on our watches.
If you watch the grains of sand flowing through an hourglass, you get the feeling that you can 'see' time flowing away. The older we get, the more we hear people say that time is going faster. Time is not going faster, it is our greater awareness of the time we have left in this life that makes us more aware of the flow of time.
We cannot change time's passage, nor can we recover or save time. We can only use time: for things that make us happy, for things that we need to survive, for things that we don't need to do.
Journal
Explore your use of time in your journal today. Are you spending your time doing things that make you happy? Useful? Productive? If not, what can you change to make that happen?

You can read many more interesting things about time in the links below.