Lice 2: Calling in the Professionals

Last month, I wrote about my children having lice for the first time. It has been a true learning experience – as in I learned I am no good at getting rid of them.  I think the reason is because I am not getting all the nits (lice eggs) out of their hair.

In my last post, I reported finding a product called Lice Ice that I thought sounded like it would work better than the horrible chemical shampoos that we had already used. We have tried this product twice. And while it does kill the lice and help tremendously with loosening the nits, it obviously hasn’t cured our problem.

With Lice Ice, you apply it to dry hair and then leave it in for a minimum of 15 hours. This means we would put it on at dinner time and wash out the following day. Since you then need to comb through and ensure the nits are gone, it was only practical to do it on the weekends. According to the directions, a vigorous shampooing should remove most of the nits and if not, they should be easily removed by combing. That didn’t prove to be the case for us. Yes, they were easier to remove but not all of them came out with the comb. It is very tedious to look for and remove the nits, even if they now come out easier.

So after another failed attempt to remove all the nits, we decided it was time to call in the professionals. Yes, there is a company out there that specializes in coming to your house and delousing your family’s hair. We used Lice Doctors, who have locations in many major cities. They are discreet, so they aren’t showing up in a van marked “Lice Doctors.” Of course, I can’t be too worried about that since I am posting this on the internet.

Anyway, the lady arrived around 6 p.m. She too is a mother who once struggled with getting rid of lice on her own kids. She had been working for Lice Doctors for about seven months. We set up in the dining room, and she began with my chatty daughter.

She coated her hair with a ton of olive oil and then worked through it with a nit comb. She said the key was to use a very good comb. She used on called the Nit Free Terminator which has special grooved teeth to help release the nits.  I watched carefully how she did this, in case we ever run across this problem again.

After she had pulled out all the lice and nits, she had my daughter wash and dry her hair. We did have to use dish washing detergent to help get the oil out. While Lexie was getting her hair washed, she worked on my son and then me. Yep, I ended up getting them too.

When we all had been treated and had our hair washed and dried, she then went through our hair systematically with a regular comb double checking for any missed eggs. She only found one on my daughter. The whole process from the time she arrived until she left was two hours.

Now of course there is really no way to know for sure if 100% of the nits were gone so they recommend that for the following seven nights, you put a heavy dose of olive oil on your hair and comb through it before bed. Yes, you get to sleep with a head coated with oil. That means a shower cap for me to wear to bed or since my kids are young, thick towels on their beds to protect their sheets.  The reason behind the oil is that if any lice hatch they will drown in the oil. Since lice can survive for up to six hours in water that is why they tell you to do it overnight. Between the nightly oil and combing, they guarantee the lice will be gone.

So finally, I feel confident that we are done with the lice problem. And I certainly know what to do next time: Use my newly purchased nit comb and a ton of olive oil.

Today’s Featured Author: Michelle Robinson

Today, I have author Michelle Robinson here for an interview. She is currently on tour promoting her book, Right Before My Eyes.

INTERVIEW

About the Author

Welcome Michelle. Please tell us a bit about yourself. 

I love music. I am God fearing. Compassionate. I’m a good friend, daughter, cousin, girlfriend, hairstylist, poet & thinker. I am a humanitarian. My belief is, you owe it to life to be giving to someone else. I have a high moral background. I am a dreamer. As long as you have a dream, life should keep you busy. I am a believer that all things are possible. I’m an artist so I think creatively outside of the box. I’m a go-getter so I don’t take no as an option for me. I’m organized to the point that I can’t function in confusion. I can the life of the party and I also like spending time alone. And I also love taking naps.

Where were you born and where do you call home?

I was born in Oakland, CA. and I call it home.

What or who inspired you to start writing?

Actually a bad experience with a failed relationship inspired this book.

How much of yourself, your personality or your experiences, is in your books?

There’s a small portion of myself and personality and a few of my own experiences in the book.

Have you started your next project? If so, can you share a little bit about your next book?

Yes I have actually. It’s the continuation of the first book. It will be just as good as the first and I’m more excited about it.

Do you write full time. If so, what is your work day like? If not, what do you do other than write and how do you find time to write?

No I don’t write full time. I am a salon owner and hairstylist four days a week. I take a day off during the week that I dedicate to writing.

What is the best thing about being a writer? The worst?

When someone who doesn’t read, reads a page and say that they would read my book. The worst thing would be when I am deep into writing and it’s time for bed.

How do you conceive your plot ideas?

Remembering some stories that I’ve heard over the years of interacting with my clients, or take an experience that a friend or a family member went through and I put a spin on it to get a different outcome.

About her Book

Please tell us about your current release.

Journee and Jordyn are 36 year old twins from Oakland, Ca. They grew up in a middle class family. Journee is in love with two men whom bother are unavailable for the kind of relationship she desires for 2 totally different reasons. She’s ready for a family of her own, so she decides to end both relationships in a quest to find Mr. Right. She immediately meet Mr. Right until the real him is exposed. Through prayer & support from her 4 friends, she eventually gets what she wants. Jordyn is the daddy’s girl who has been living a secret life until Facebook leaks her secret out. Relieved, now Jordyn has to face the repercussions of her secret being exposed & try to gain acceptance from her family and friends.

What kind of research did you do for this book?

I had to research the prison system and interview a few people about their experience of being gay.

Did you base any of your characters on real people?

Some of characters are mixed of 2 real people and then I built on them from there.

Which of your characters is your favorite? Do you dislike any of them?

I am more in love with the sisterhood that the divas share. I admire them all for the tightness that they share. I dislike Sean, Jason & Jules.

If this book is part of a series, what is the next book? Any details you can share?

Yes, Right Before My Eyes will have a Right Before My Eyes II. The 2nd book will give you closure and new beginnings at the same time.

What was the most difficult thing/scene to write in this story?

Developing everyone’s character. The art of making sure everyone’s personality was different.

Did the story turn out the way you planned from the beginning? If not, what change happened that you didn’t expect?

The end changed twice. I love it and everyone hates it!

Just for Fun

If you could be one of the characters from any of your books, who would it be and why?

Journee. Because she doesn’t work, drive a Range Rover, and has money to shop.

Is there a specific place in the house (or out of the house) that you like to write?

In my bed.

Do you have a specific snack that you have with you when you write?

I have to keep water close to me, all this drama makes me thirsty.

What book are you reading right now?

Super Rich by Russell Simmons

If you could meet two authors, who would you pick and why? 

Russell Simmons & Maya Angelou. I admire Russell’s discipline & work ethic & I admire Maya’s spirit. They are both innovators.

Tell us a random fact about you that we never would have guessed. 

I love watching Golden Girls & Sex and the City reruns.

BOOK DESCRIPTION

Journee and Jordyn are thirty-something year old twins with two totally different lifestyles. Journee is in love with Drew, her high school sweetheart that’s in prison. A phone call from him changes everything. After a fight, she decides to end their relationship and tries to move on but she has unfinished business with Jason, another ex-boyfriend. As she moves forward, she meets Jules who appears to be Mr. Right until all his baggage shows up.

Now Jordyn is living by her own rules but the problem is she hasn’t told anyone, but the drama begins when her secret is leaked on Facebook. She finds herself in a battle with her love life, family, friends and herself.

Follow these two as they take their family and friends on a turbulent ride into their lives as they discover they are worlds apart but are forever connected.

About the Author

Michelle Robinson was born and raised in Oakland, CA. Oakland’s rich culture has laid the fabric for this story. She’s been doing hair for two decades. As a hairstylist, it’s safe to say she has also served as a therapist to her clients. She has heard and witnessed it all right behind her styling chair. From her experiences, she’s given advice to many and has watched people’s lives transition. With this driving force, she has finally penned her first novel.

You can find out more about Michelle on her website. Or connect with her on Facebook and Twitter.

You can purchase Right Before My Eyes at Amazon, Barnes & Noble or Authorhouse.

What’s in a Name? Picking the right name for your characters

If you are a parent, you know how much you labored over the perfect name for your child. Now imagine you need to do the same thing for over a dozen or more characters. Yikes!

It can certainly be a daunting task. Of course, the most thought goes into your main character’s name. You want a name that is unique to your character, that your reader will remember, and that fits into your story, whether it be a fantasy, futuristic, historical or modern piece.

Here are some tips when choosing your characters names.

  • Pick a name that is age-appropriate. Don’t pick names that are popular now for an adult character – a name that would have rarely been used around the time of that character’s birth. Decide the age of your character and then calculate the year your character was born. If your character was born in the U.S., browse through the Social Security Name Popularity List for that year.
  • HISTORICAL NOVELS – you will want to look for a name popular or at least in use during the time period you have chosen. Do not pick a modern name (such as Jennifer) for a story set in the 17th century.
  • Remember to take into account your character’s ethnic background and the ethnic background of his or her parents. But be careful about stereotyping ethnic characters with clichéd names. You can be more original than “Bubba” or “Running Bear.”
  • Steer clear of complicated, hard-to-pronounce names. If you do choose one, consider using a nickname to make it easier to the reader and other characters.
  • Don’t overuse unusual names or spellings. If your main character is Barnabus, name his sidekick Sam or Eric, not Hawthorne.
  • You should avoid having characters with similar names. You may also want to stay away from names that start with the same letter or same sound – like Phil and Fred.
    • Avoid nicknames or unusual names that will annoy the reader. For example, calling a man by what is traditionally a woman’s name or vice versa can create unnecessary confusion. So do this only if there is a real need for it in your story.
    • When you pick a name, say it out loud and use it in dialogue to make sure it sounds good.
    • FANTASY/SCIENCE FICTION NOVELS – Avoid the temptation to use a random collection of letters and symbols for a character name. Even though your reader probably won’t be reading your story aloud, they will mentally trip over unpronounceable names. You can of course get around this by using a nickname for the character to make it easier for the reader and the other characters.
    • FUTURISTIC/SCIENCE FICTION NOVELS – It’s hard to predict what names will be popular in the year 3000. But again, you don’t want them to stumble over an odd collection of letters. You might consider combining two common names to make a less common, but pronounceable name. Example: Donica (Donna and Veronica).

I find a baby-naming book to be a great resource for names. I use 20,001 Names for Baby (1992). But to find a name you can try a baby naming website or even your phone book. Of course don’t just pirate someone’s full name. Mix and match first and last names.

The name you choose should reveal something about the character: who they are, where they come from or where they are going. A good character name is distinctive and memorable. A great character name, in addition to being distinctive and memorable, also works to help tell your story.

The name you give your characters is just as important as naming your own child. Take the task seriously and give it some thought (or research) before settling on their moniker.

Joining Triberr to expand the reach of your blog

A few weeks ago, I wrote a post about joining author groups for support. In my post, I briefly mentioned Triberr which I joined in August. I had a reader comment about not really understanding Triberr, so I thought I would devote a post to it.

Triberr is a free resource for bloggers to drive traffic to their blog using Twitter. Triberr users become members of “tribes” comprised of bloggers with similar interests.  The idea is that your tribe supports each other by retweeting members’ blog content and thus expanding your reach to potential blog readers. (more on this in a second)

To get started, of course, you must sign up for Triberr. To join a tribe, you must receive an invitation from the tribe “chief.” There is a section called “bonfires” where you can find people who are looking for tribes or tribe members.

Once you have joined a tribe, you connect your RSS feed (a format for delivering regularly changing web content) to that tribe. Then any new posts that you put on your blog will be available for others to tweet. Their posts will also be available for you to tweet. You can preview and approve each tweet before it goes out. Triberr schedules your approved tweets to go every 20 minutes unless you change the setting to have them spaced further apart.

So you say how is this going to help me? Well, it is all about reaching more people. If I were to tweet about my blog, I will reach my 2000 followers. But with Triberr, my message can reach every one of my Tribe mate’s followers too. With my tribe, my reach has been expanded to 126,800 people. Of course, this is assuming that every one of my 20 tribe mates actually tweets out my message, which is rarely the case.

But the nice thing is you can easily see which members shared your message and even how many people have clicked on the short link to that post.

Of course, I started Triberr about two weeks after I started my blog so it is hard to say how much of my blog traffic is generated from Triberr versus my own tweeting.  But I do like that I have the potential each day to reach thousands of other people who might be interested in what I blog about.

The key to remember is that Triberr is a tool, and it works best when all members of the tribe are active and supporting each other. If that happens, you have the ability to get greater reach for your blog. But don’t get caught up in the numbers. Remember that you are working on connecting with others and the best way to do that is to offer quality content on your blog.

“Put your heels down” – the mother of a toe walker’s mantra

In the past month or so I have discussed some of my daughter’s health problems – amblyopia, eczema and allergies. Well, I don’t want you to think my son Jase has lucked out with NO problems though in general, he is amazingly healthy. In fact, I didn’t notice this problem until someone else pointed it out – Jase walks on his toes most of the time.

Obviously, this began when he was learning to walk, but I didn’t notice it. My in-laws mentioned it when they visited. He was two at the time. He didn’t do it all the time but enough that I mentioned it at his three-year-old well-check appointment. The doctor wasn’t that concerned. She said many kids walk on their toes (tippy-toe style) but outgrow it around the age of three.

But when we went for his five-year well-check, the doctor opened the door and noticed right away that he was standing on his toes. Again, I hadn’t even realized it. She referred him to an orthopedic specialist. Upon examining him, they noted that the Achilles’ tendon was tight and recommended physical therapy to stretch the muscle.

We did the physical therapy for six weeks. Basically, they had him play a series of games, so he really never knew that this was treatment. At the end of each session they would measure his flexibility. We also had exercises to do at home.  At the end of the six weeks, they said the muscles were where they needed to be, and that we could continue the games and exercises on our own.

Oh boy. I should have known that wouldn’t last. It is like starting an exercise routine, and then you get sick or go on vacation. Once you get out of the routine, it is hard to get back into the habit of doing it. We did it sporadically over the next few months and when we saw the orthopedic specialist, he was unsympathetic. Only by doing the exercises and reminding him not to walk on his toes would he get any better.  If we couldn’t do that, the next option would be to make him wear braces on his legs.

I can certainly say that we did a good job of reminding him to keep his heels down. In kindergarten for a Mother’s Day project, he was asked what phrase his mom says most to him. His answer – “Keep your heels down.”

He is now seven, and we are still telling him to keep his heels down. But it is like any habit that you are trying to break. It takes time. A whole lot of time. I know he can do it. This summer, we set up a reward chart for him, and he earned a sticker whenever he kept his heels down for a certain amount of hours. (His sister was using a reward chart at the time for wearing her new glasses.) He did great. But as with everything, the reward chart has faded away from importance and we are back to the same old mantra – “Keep your heels down.”

Today’s Featured Author: Jane Isaac

Today I am excited to feature author Jane Isaac on my blog.

Below is an excerpt from her novel, An Unfamiliar Murder. 

EXCERPT 

How would you react to coming home to find a dead body in your flat, spending the night in a cell, labelled as main suspect in a murder enquiry?

In ‘An Unfamiliar Murder’, Anna, a secondary school teacher, faces exactly this dilemma. This excerpt from chapter two details what goes through her mind:

People show an amazing array of different reactions to a dead body. Some are frightened, afraid that the dead corpse will return to life and try to get revenge on their attacker, like in a film; some are horrified at the scene, the circumstances in which a person lost their life; some are sad, they grieve for the victim, think of their friends, their family, the lost years of life and opportunity; others are matter of fact, like the emergency services who are more accustomed to such sights and whose senses have numbed over the years as a result. Anna hadn’t felt any of these emotions. In fact she hadn’t thought about the body at all; until now.

As she finished talking to her solicitor and watched the cell door bang closed, she realised that so far her mind had focused on her incarceration, consuming her with anger, tainted by the fear of being imprisoned. It had blocked out all earlier events which felt like a blur, a whirlwind; an extraordinary out of body experience.

She closed her eyes and recalled the blood splattered all over her lounge. It was like a scene from a horror film. Who would have thought that one person’s body could contain so much blood? She thought for a moment – a person. This blood had belonged to somebody. An overwhelming feeling of shame engulfed her. She had been consumed with the incomprehensible inconvenience to her life. He had lost his….. Her stomach churned, but this time her bladder did not call out to her – it seemed to have frozen.

Anna forced her mind to push further into its depths. A lacerated body had sat facing her on the floor. The eyes…. She shuddered, physically shaking as she recalled the eyes open wide, staring at her, eyes that had belonged to someone. Panic pulsed through her veins as realisation set in; the victim of this atrocity belonged to someone. The brutal truth of this fact made the pain in her head seer until her brain felt as if it were splitting in two. This was somebody’s father, brother, husband, son…

Somewhere, some family would be disturbed this evening. Possibly watching a film, or putting the kids to bed, or maybe sitting down to dinner – a normal routine family evening, ruined by a knock at the door.

As they answered the door and saw the police officers wearing their hats, speaking in a solemn tone, – “May we come in?” – their minds would race, overwhelmed with questions. Who was it? What has happened? They would brace themselves for bad news. Maybe they would think that their car had been stolen? But the police officers’ tone would be too serious, their manner too empathetic and, once invited into the sitting room, they would ask them to sit down. Then, they knew it was serious – an accident, maybe even a death. Anna shuddered…

She imagined then that the questions would start. “Was your husband wearing a certain colour jacket when he left home today? Did he leave the house wearing casual, grey trousers?”  And this may instil an element of hope in the victim’s family. Anyone could match that description, it was nothing significant. But then the mention of something personal like a white gold, engraved wedding ring would crush all ambiguity – and they would know, there would be no doubt.

The breathing would stop, they would clutch their head and in one moment their world would be shattered to pieces – all because of that knock at the door. And they would gaze up at the clock, reading the time when their life had changed irrevocably.

Tears streamed down Anna’s face, her eyes fixed in space. Would they think that it was her? That she could even be capable of causing such pain, such devastation? The thoughts made her head go hot and dizzy; sweat coursed down the back of her neck as she jumped off the bed and rushed to the cold toilet in the corner, pushing strands of hair out of her face as she retched.

BOOK BLURB

Arriving home from a routine day at work, Anna Cottrell has no idea that her life is about to change forever. But discovering the stabbed body of a stranger in her flat, then becoming prime suspect in a murder enquiry is only the beginning. Her persistent claims of innocence start to crumble when new evidence links her irrevocably with the victim…

Leading her first murder enquiry, DCI Helen Lavery unravels a trail of deception, family secrets and betrayal. When people close to the Cottrell family start to disappear, Lavery is forced into a race against time. Can she catch the killer before he executes his ultimate victim?

AUTHOR BIO

Jane Isaac studied creative writing with the London School of Journalism. Her non-fiction articles have appeared in newspapers, magazines and online. Several of her short stories will appear in crime anthologies throughout 2012. She blogs about her writing experience, ‘Diary of a Newbie Novelist’ at http://www.newbiewriters.com/

Jane lives in rural Northants, UK with her husband, daughter and dog, Bollo. When she is not writing she loves to travel, is an avid reader, Mum, dog lover and enjoys spending time with her family. She believes life should be an adventure!

Jane loves to hear from readers and writers. Visit her website where you can read an excerpt of the novel, peruse her blog, ‘Caffeine’s Not a Crime’, and email her through the contacts page.

An Unfamiliar Murder is available from Amazon for the Kindle in the US and the UK as well as in paperback.

You can contact or follow Jane on Twitter, Facebook or on her blog.