Thursday, March 23, 2017

The Inspiration Behind ‘All That Glitters: A Tale of Sex, Drugs and Hollywood Dreams’ by Liza Trevino

All That Glitters Cover
I’ve always been a reader and a writer, since I was a kid. I loved – love – all kinds of genres: horror, suspense, romance, but Jackie Collins, in particular, always held a special place in my heart. I adore her work and all Hollywood fiction.  I gobbled it up when I was a teenager.  Eventually, I was re-reading one of my favorites of hers while I was in grad school in Los Angeles, and it hit me.  Where is a Latina Lucky Santangelo?
I wanted to read about a badass character like Lucky Santangelo, but I wanted her to be Latina. And that’s how it started for me. I began thinking about the popular stories I liked to read and decided I was going to create those kinds of stories but put a Latina at the center of the action.  That’s definitely something I wanted to read. I couldn’t find it, so I started writing. And that’s how All That Glitters came to be.
All That Glitters is a women’s fiction novel that has glamour, Hollywood and some romance mixed in for good measure. It follows the rags-to-riches Hollywood journey of a creative, ambitious, street smart and gorgeous Latina, Alexandria Moreno, who sets her sights on making it big in Hollywood as a writer and film director in the 1980s.
The book is also about relationships. There are three key relationships in the book, and each of the relationship highlights different but complimentary themes that overlap. Themes that include the redemptive nature of loyalty and friendship, the destructive power of giving into your worst impulses, facing your demons, learning to love yourself, self-acceptance and trust.
But, I’m most intrigued by the idea of free will vs. fate. Do we have free will or are things set before we even take our first breath? How in control are we of our life journeys?  Is there some pre-determined destination that all of our little, everyday decisions ultimately leads us?  Or, is it all just chaos? And, if it is chaos, then how do we account for certain repetitions in life? I suppose I’m quite taken with that theme because I see it played out and the questions come up again and again in different stories I’ve written. And, to all of this, I’d say that the themes became apparent after I wrote the story.
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Liza TreviƱo 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.
Click to Buy on Amazon: All That Glitters

Tuesday, March 21, 2017

Interview from the authors of Child Decoded

 

Inside the Book:






The last twenty years have seen a huge increase, not only in children with learning and behavior problems, but in children with bewildering combinations of them. These combinations can defy easy categorization and resist treatment. Figuring these children out can feel like trying to decrypt an especially complex code, without a cypher. Even professionals find it challenging.

We have seen family after family exhausted, overwhelmed and confused about how to sort through all the data and figure out how to proceed. There is certainly no shortage of information out there. What seems to be missing is guidance on how to synthesize it to create a larger picture that gives parents a clearly sequenced path forward.

This book presents a new kind of resource for a new kind of need. It includes:

Extensive checklists to help you see new possibilities and find avenues of support you may not have considered
Explanation of the hidden factors that may be worsening your child’s learning or behavior problems
Discussion of the difference between digging deeper for true causes and merely assigning diagnoses to the “tip of the iceberg” symptoms you are seeing
Descriptions of the major areas of developmental, learning and behavioral challenges, as well as common misdiagnoses.
Lots of useful ‘news you can use’ about what options are available to you, which practitioners do what, and what questions to ask along the way
Descriptions of both Western medicine and alternative medicine solutions
Sequence matters: helpful information on how to prioritize treatments in a complex situation
Stories of families who have been in the same trenches you have
Tips on how to work more productively with your child’s school; develop a plan of action that makes sense for your budget, your family’s schedule and your sanity; maintain a healthy connection with your child; and more!
Written by over 20 professionals, Child Decoded is a thorough, must-have resource that any family with struggling children should consult!


THE INTERVIEW:

Q: Please tell us about “Child Decoded” and what inspired you to write it.

A: “Child Decoded” is a resource guide to help families whose children are struggling with learning and behavior disorders. Increasing numbers of children have complex combinations of issues that can be difficult to sort out, diagnose correctly, and treat effectively.  (Incidentally, we consider both Autism and AD/HD to be complex in and of themselves, since there are often so many fronts that need to be addressed.) There are so many more resources and approaches out there than people realize. But it seems to take everyone way too long to find what they need for their particular child.
I know from personal experience how hard it is to find all the information you need in order to even understand what’s going on, much less know what to do about it. It is maddening, scary, and confusing…and the whole time that you’re chasing your tail trying to find answers, you’re panicking that your child is now even more shut down, frustrated, and convinced that he’s stupid or broken somehow. There really is no hell quite like watching your child struggle and not being able to help. This book is designed to help parents like me find answers without going down incessant dead ends, going broke or losing their minds. 
(There are more details about what’s in the book in later questions, especially the one about which sections are most important.)

Q: What made you pursue a book that focused on children and learning/behavioral problems?

A: The two ladies who founded this project are both practitioners who work with a wide range of children and issues. They saw the same stories over and over, of kids whom no one could seem to figure out. Over time, these women started to see patterns in their clients’ histories: overall health patterns, complicating underlying factors, and symptoms that are often misdiagnosed (lookin’ at you, ADD). They learned to look deeper than the presenting symptoms, and cultivated relationships with other practitioners to provide a complete network for clients. They then looked for a book that shared the information and insight they had accumulated, so that that they could recommend it to parents. They couldn’t find one, so they decided to write it themselves.
I was brought on board about a year into the project, after they went through a few editors who didn’t work out. Because of my own experience with ulcer-inducingly complicated children, I was immediately intrigued. It really is the book I wish I’d had, and we believe it can make the path easier for others in the same boat.

Q: What type of support system do you have?

A: Since I was the main editor, I was the one who needed the most support! And this involved so much more than editing. I was almost always the one deciding what additional information we needed, what was too much or too clinical, how to break it down, what kind of tone would appeal to a freaked-out parent doing research at one in the morning, and so on.  There was a lot more rewriting and determining basic organization than I had anticipated, and I had never been in charge of a project this complicated. 
In a way, that extent of control and freedom was exciting. But a few years into the project, I started to get stressed about being the main person determining all of this, and experienced a huge crisis of confidence.  I found a wonderful writing coach who supported me on and off throughout the rest of the project. She was exactly what I needed. I often have a “sense” of how a piece should sound or how information should flow, but cannot always break down my rationale for others. She explained why my choices did make sense and helped me regain my confidence and clarity. Sometimes, just bouncing ideas around with her helped; the power of brainstorming with a like-minded colleague cannot be overstated!
I also have some close friends and an unbelievably patient husband who were always ready to lend an ear when I needed to vent, and who never once rolled their eyes when I said “Hey, can you read something real quick?”

Q: How did you decided what information to include/what was relevant?

A:   I considered my lack of clinical training an advantage, and read every chapter from the point of view of a stressed-out mom. Since this was a role I had played for many years, getting into character was easy! The authors (most chapters are written by an expert in that field) often considered my follow-up questions ridiculously basic, but I trusted my sense of what the average parent wants to know and how they need it explained.

Q: Due to the amount of information included, is there a section you feel is more important than any other?

A: The first two chapters give the most complete overview. The first chapter is the story of our journey with our son. It is a typical story for this demographic, long and convoluted as it is, and it illustrates exactly why we wrote this book. Parents often feel isolated, like they’re the only ones going through this particular, weird little uncharted hell.  I know I did. These families need to know they’re not alone and that answers are out there.
Chapter two, “How to Use This Book,” describes the overarching philosophy of the book. It not only explains how to use our extensive checklists to read the portions relevant to you; it also discusses how underlying factors such as gut health and nervous system function can derail learning and emotional control. There is often so much more to the picture than the symptoms and struggles you are seeing. Sometimes, taking deeper factors into account is the only way you’re going to move forward. Chapter two pretty much explains the rest of the book.

Q: While writing, did you ever feel like giving up? If so, what kept you going?

A: Oh, sweet Lord, I got so burned out on this project so many times! What kept me going? Aside from my wonderful writing mentor and a certain innate dogged stubbornness, I always knew this was a passion project for me. I might have railed against it, but I never seriously considered walking away. Some things you just know you need to see through to the end.
That said, I actually did put it down once. All the writing and editing was done (we thought), and I handed it over with instructions for the next steps of the publishing process. I was so happy to be done! But a year and a half later, no one had had the time or space to follow through. I decided I needed to be able to point to this in published form and say, “I did that!” I also couldn’t face having done all that work and not giving it to the people who needed it.

Q: Are you or any close family members affected by the topics discussed?

A: I think I’ve already answered this one!

Q: Is there anything else you would like to share?

A: If you are ever in the position of having to translate very clinical or academic language into something a layperson can read with ease, get your source talking. Literally talking, over the phone or in person. (Don’t take notes; record it.) I started this project by emailing all my follow-up questions to the authors and having them answer at their leisure. I was trying to be respectful of their time. But I finally realized something: When they wrote, they understandably wanted to sound professional, and they used a lot of jargon and sounded like they were submitting an academic paper. No parent was going to have the patience to plow through that. But in person – they were funny, they used interesting examples, they shared insights and personal perspectives. In the beginning, we’d ask an author to approve their final chapter, and half the time we’d get, “But it doesn’t sound like me!” And I’d think, “Yeah, that was kind of the point.” But by the end, I could make it sound like them – because I’d been able to find out what they sounded like when they weren’t being so clinical. 
(This is one of many tips I wish I’d figured out a couple of years earlier!)


Meet the Authors:



Kim Gangwish has  been  practicing  in  the  fields  of  mental  health  and  applied physiology for the last 18 years. Ms. Gangwish specializes in a form of acupressure that focuses on  neurological  integration,  called  LEAP  (Learning  Enhancement  Acupressure  Program).  She works  with  both  children  and  adults  who  have  learning  or  sensory  issues,  or  mild  traumatic head injuries. Her passion for educating caregivers has led her to present at international health conferences,  educational  programs  for  school  districts,  and  parent  and  adoption  support organizations,  where  she  emphasizes  the  importance  of  exploring underlying  causal  factors that contribute to learning and sensory issues. Being an adoptive mother herself, Ms. Gangwish is  very  active  in  the  adoption  community.  She  has  written  an ongoing  column  in  Adoption Today  magazine  and  founded  a  non-profit  organization  that  supports  adopted  children  and their families through an integrated team of therapeutic professionals. Ms. Gangwish runs her practice,  The  Life  Enrichment  Center,  in both  Louisville  and  Denver,  Colorado.  Kim  is also  the founder    and    CTO    (Chief    Technology    Officer)    of    a    biomedical    company,    Genovus Biotechnologies  Inc.,  which  is  developing  a  peripheral  neurostimulation  device  to  help  people with degenerative  neuromuscular diseases. She  lives in Louisville  with her two sons and many animals. You can read more about her and her work at www.neural-integration.com.  



Dr. Robin McEvoy is a developmental neuropsychologist practicing in Denver, Colorado. She evaluates and diagnoses a wide range of learning disabilities and learning needs in children, adolescents, and adults. She then works with the family to develop a treatment plan to  remediate  weaknesses  and  accentuate  strengths.  In  addition  to  her  private  practice,  Dr. McEvoy   is   an   assistant   professor   at   the   University   of   Colorado   Health   Sciences   Center. Although  evaluation  is  the  heart  of  her  work,  Dr.  McEvoy  also  loves  the  educational  process  - speaking  to  parents,  schools,  or  other  health  professionals  about  learning,  development,  and parenting  in  this  new  age  where  many  learning  and  developmental challenges  are  more frequent.  
Dr.  McEvoy  and  her  daughter,  Tessa,  have  published  a  children’s  book, Buddy: A Story for Dyslexia. This book has a lovely endorsement from Dr. Sally Shaywitz, a leading authority in
the  field.  Proceeds from  the  book  are  being  used  to fund  reading  remediation for  low  income children. You can find the book at www.learningmoxie.com. You can read more about Robin McEvoy at her website www.robinmcevoy.com. She blogs about  learning  and  learning  challenges  at  www.learningmoxie.com.  You  can  follow  her  on Facebook  at  www.facebook.com/DrRobinMcEvoy  or  on  Twitter at  twitter.com/RobinMcEvoy. She will try to be fascinating.  



Marijke Jones got her BA from Cornell University, and finally settled down in Colorado after living in Japan and traveling throughout Asia and other parts of the world. She has been a copy and developmental editor for over ten years and has worked on a number of manuscripts, McGraw-Hill textbooks, website content, and other miscellaneous projects during that time. She has also published essays, mostly about her experiences raising, homeschooling, and trying to figure out her twice exceptional son. Ms. Jones is passionate about helping families with struggling children find answers and peace of mind. She believes that for each thing a child can’t do, there is something amazing that he can do. A former therapist who specialized in trauma, she also believes that monitoring children’s emotional and mental health is every bit as important as remediating their learning issues. She lives with her incredibly patient husband in Louisville, Colorado, where she enjoys the beautiful Rocky Mountains and all they have to offer. Occasionally, her two adult children come home from college or Europe or wherever they have been having more adventures than she has.


Friday, March 17, 2017

Guest post: "Murder most Foul" by Harley Mazuk


What’s inside the mind of a mystery author? Murder most foul. Why murder, you ask? Are there not many crimes a writer can hang a plot on? There are many nefarious schemes out there, but most crimes seem worst when murder or the threat of murder accompanies them. In the case of robbery, for instance, your money or your life. Or kidnapping—your money or your wife!
For my money, murder, the unlawful killing of another person, is the best crime for a mystery, be it a police procedural, an amateur sleuth, or a private eye story. Robbery, for instance, might be mitigated by the need to eat—stealing a loaf of bread—or by the Robin Hood syndrome—rob the rich. And robbery is only a crime against property. Murder, the taking of a human life, is unequivocal and final. It has the most potential to arouse emotions in the reader. Always on the lookout for plot material, I made a list of reasons to commit murder:
1.)   In the commission of a robbery—Bonnie and Clyde were robbers. They preferred rural stores and gas stations, but robbed banks too. When confronted or cornered, they were more than just robbers. Bonnie and Clyde were killers. (Nine lawmen.)
2.)   Jealousy—Seduction, betrayal, love triangle, murder. Consider the tragic hero, Othello. Or consider a crime of passion—Pierre returns home from a hard day of drinking wine and finds Jean-Paul, his motorcycle mechanic, in bed with his wife, Marie. Enraged with jealousy, Pierre kills Jean-Paul. (Or perhaps Pierre kills Marie. Good motorcycle mechanics can be hard to find.)
3.)   Revenge/vengeance—a perennial favorite. From Hamlet to Death Wish, revenge or vengeance is a great motive for a killing. Revenge could be considered the motive for most gang killings.
The Harvard Crimson reports that these first three, robbery, jealousy, or revenge are behind most murders. But as the detective pursues the truth in the original murder, the writer may introduce a second killing. If you kill once, you may kill again . . .
4.)   To cover up a crime/to prevent the discovery of a crime—Subsequent murders may be necessary to eliminate witnesses. Do the crime yourself, or in secrecy. If a criminal involves another person in his crime, he may eventually have to kill again to keep the accomplice or witness from going to the police.
Throughout history, there have been many other reasons to commit murder that the inventive writer may use in his plots. For example:
5.)   To gain power—think Shakespeare’s Richard III
a.     Ambition—see Macbeth
6.)   For pay—the hit man, something of a modern invention?
7.)   Political assassination—Shakespeare again—Julius Caesar
8.)   Greed or avarice—this brings to mind the classic, Treasure of the Sierra Madre.
9.)   Insanity—from the days of Jack the Ripper to Hannibal the Cannibal or Buffalo Bill, insanity covers the popular modern sub-genre of serial killer novels.
10.) Hatred, anger—I like this. To me it suggests a murder done in the heat of the moment. I tend to use this sort of crime in my stories because I believe a murder of opportunity is harder to solve than a meticulously planned murder, in which so much can go wrong, or in which the killer can leave many clues. A murder committed out of hatred or anger is similar to a “crime of passion.” But it’s not that kind of passion.
11.) Land, Gold, Women—Somewhere I read, “There are three things to kill over--land, gold, and women.” For some reason, I associate this with B. Traven, but I can’t find it. 
12.)Sport—The idea for this comes from “The Most Dangerous Game,” a short story by Richard Connell, in which a big game hunter hunts and kills human game, for sport.
13.) Initiation to a gang—Is this real? Or is the idea an urban legend? Random killings invite a massive deployment of police resources to solve, and it seems unlikely that gangs with profitable illegal businesses would want to draw that attention to themselves. Yet recent killings of teenage women in Houston and Baltimore may have been part of gang initiations.
I would end with an unlucky thirteen reasons to commit murder on which you or I or any writer could hang the plot of a mystery novel. But I can’t leave you until I mention just one more, kind of a favorite, for which I’m indebted to Alan Orloff [http://alanorloff.com/],author and friend, and to the Man in Black:
14.)In Reno, just to watch him die



Thursday, March 16, 2017

Book Spotlight: Alan 2 by Bruce Forciea



We invite you to Bruce Forciea's ALAN 2 Blog Tour! Please leave a comment to let Bruce know you stopped by!


Title: ALAN 2
Author: Bruce Forciea
Publisher: Open Books
Pages: 278
Genre: Cyber-Thriller

A brilliant artificial intelligence (AI) scientist, Dr. Alan Boyd, develops a new program that integrates part of his brain with a computer’s operating system. The program, Alan 2, can anticipate a user’s needs and automatically perform many tasks. A large software company, International Microsystems (IM) desperately wants the program and tempts Dr. Boyd with huge sums of money, but when Dr. Boyd refuses their offer, IM sabotages his job, leaving him in a difficult financial situation.

Dr. Boyd turns to Alan 2 for an answer to his financial problems, and Alan 2 develops plan Alpha, which is a cyber robin hood scheme to rob from rich corporations via a credit card scam.

Alan and his girlfriend Kaitlin travel to Mexico where they live the good life funded by plan Alpha, but the FBI cybercrime division has discovered part of Alan 2’s cyber escapades, and two agents, Rachel and Stu, trace the crime through the TOR network and Bitcoin.

Alan 2 discovers the FBI is on to them and advises Alan and Kaitlin to change locations. A dramatic chase ensues taking them to St. Thomas, a cruise ship bound for Spain, and finally to Morocco. 

Will they escape detection? They will if Alan 2's Plan Beta can be implemented in time. Or is 'Plan B' something altogether different than it appears to be, something wholly sinister that will affect the entire population of the world?
Watch the trailer at YouTube!

Purchase Information:

Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Publisher

EXCERPT:

Bang! Bang! Bang! The flimsy apartment door rattled on its frame with every blow.
“Kaitlin, don’t even think of answering that!” Alan growled through his teeth.
Kaitlin shrugged her shoulders and moved away from the door toward the living room where Alan sat at a table full of electronics gear.
“Dr. Boyd, are you home?” shouted the voice on the other side of the door in an Indian accent. “I want to talk to you. I have a very good offer. Please, Dr. Boyd, it will only take a minute, and I think you will be quite pleased with what we have for you.”
“Go away; leave us alone,” Alan shouted. “I don’t want your offer.”
“But Dr. Boyd, we do pay very well. We are great admirers of your work.”
“I don’t care and I don’t want your money,” said Alan. “Now go away before I call the police.”
“Think about it, Dr. Boyd; I will be in touch.”
“Incessant bastards,” said Alan as his attention turned back to his work. “I’ll cherish the day they leave us alone. Kaitlin, come over here and help me with this injection.”
Alan rolled up the sleeve of his t-shirt while Kaitlin picked up the syringe containing the gadolinium contrast. She pinched an ample section of skin and plunged the syringe into his arm. The needle stung like an angry wasp, causing Alan to grimace.
“Can’t you be gentle? You’ve done enough of these by now to get the hang of it. You shouldn’t jam it in like that!”
Kaitlin rolled her eyes and shook her head. “I think I do pretty well considering I don’t have any medical training,” she said while jerking the syringe out of his arm.
“Okay, okay. Just take your position at the console.”
She sighed, plopped onto a small task chair and rolled over to a makeshift wooden table holding a desktop PC and a large high-definition monitor. She had been through this process countless times before.
Alan entered a large metallic structure in the center of the living room. The box-like structure, made of aluminum, dominated the rectangular room which was devoid of furniture. Its dull silver hue contrasted the blank walls. He closed the door and climbed into a chair that looked like it came from an early Gemini spacecraft. The stiff plastic chair, sandwiched between two large metal discs, afforded a good deal of postural support but little comfort. He sat down and slowly slid his head between the thick metal and plastic arms of a large U-shaped device. There was just enough clearance as he wriggled his head to achieve the perfect position. He pulled down on a large metallic tube suspended above him so that it surrounded his entire head. He positioned the tube so that the rectangular slit lined up with his visual axis, allowing for a line of sight to the monitor located outside of the tube. The small fMRI scanner had taken a good deal of time and money to cobble together, but it was the only way to capture the needed information from his brain.
Alan viewed Kaitlin through a small round Plexiglas window in the door and signaled with a thumbs-up to begin the scan. She waved and entered the start sequence into the keyboard, sat back, slid an unlit cigarette between her lips and picked up a copy of People Magazine. He pushed his head back against the headrest and adjusted the monitor suspended on a boom so he could see the screen. The machine first hummed as it powered up and then made periodic knocking sounds.
Alan focused his attention on the monitor while the scanner began its first sequence. The monitor displayed a series of images designed to evoke emotions. Each image popped onto the screen and persisted for ten seconds before another replaced it. There was a small child holding hands with his father, a mother holding a baby, a couple admiring their child in a crib, and many more. All the images had been chosen to trigger emotional responses, causing changes in blood flow to certain areas of Alan’s brain. An image would appear for a few seconds and then the machine would complete a scan.  The process repeated until all one hundred twenty-seven images had been displayed. The entire cycle then repeated two more times with random sequences of the same set of images.
This would be the final scan involving diffusion tensor imaging of Alan’s frontal lobes. Previous scans had involved the study of responses to a variety of topics. In addition to emotions such as sadness, joy, anxiety, and fear, there were cognitive studies that examined Alan’s problem solving techniques as well as his reaction to global events. In all, there were over one hundred fifty scans taken over the past two years. 


About the Author

Bruce Forciea is known for taking complex scientific concepts and making them easy to understand through engaging stories and simple explanations. He is an Amazon Best Selling Author and author of several books on healing and biology, along with science fiction thriller novels. His fiction writing draws on a diverse and eclectic background that includes touring and performing with a professional show, designing digital circuits, treating thousands of patients, and teaching. His stories include complex plots with unexpected twists and turns, quirky characters, and a reality very similar to our own. Dr. Forciea lives in Wisconsin and loves writing during the solitude of the long Northern winters. 

Website & Social Links:

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