Zzzzz….getting the kids to sleep each night

“Mommy, can you read me another story?” my daughter will ask.

bedtime

It isn’t so much that she wants another story. She is stalling so she doesn’t have to go to bed. If it isn’t a story, it is one more glass of water or a trip to the bathroom or a lullaby. And if I say no to her, she will try my husband (the softie).

Bedtimes around our house have never been an easy thing. As a baby, Jase never wanted to go to sleep unless one of us was nearby – preferably touching him. I know – it was a bad habit to start, but we were new parents. Finally, we ended up using cry-it-out to break him of the habit. Actually, I should say my husband did it because I couldn’t stand to hear him crying. I left the house at bedtime every night for a week.

But Jase did get better. Yes, there was that period of time when he was three when he didn’t want to sleep in his big boy bed. He wanted to sleep on the floor. And again, because it was easier, we let him. We even bought him a sleeping bag. I finally got him to sleep back in his bed by offering to let him redecorate his room. We moved the location of his bed to by the window and added some new animal sheets and an animal comforter. It worked. Five years later and he still sleeps in his bed.

Actually, now that he is eight, Jase is relatively easy to put to bed. He can tell time, so he knows when he needs to turn off the light. But every once in a while he will declare he is scared of something. I don’t think it is so much he is scared but is stalling. I don’t give into it, but my husband does. He will spend some time talking and reassuring him.

The real procrastinator is our daughter Lexie. After lights out, she will get up several times for different things. As it gets later and later, I get more upset with her – and sometimes my husband since he gives into her too often.

I think she is stalling. My husband thinks that she just can’t fall asleep. He suffers from some insomnia and has since childhood. He fears she is like him, and that it isn’t that she doesn’t want to go to sleep, but she can’t.

Either way, I feel she needs more sleep – especially since attending kindergarten full time is more draining. She gets up every morning at 6:30. Right now, we are lucky to get her asleep by 9:30 (lights out is at 9). That is 9 hours of sleep. Experts recommend five year olds get between 10 to 12 hours of sleep. She doesn’t nap so those hours need to come at night. (Actually both kids gave up naps before they were two years old.)

For 8 year olds, they recommend 10 to 11 hours though WebMD notes that most are only averaging 9 hours. Another website said school-aged kids should get 9 to 11 hours.

So right now, their bedtime routine starts with story time at 8 p.m. This is followed by my husband making up a story for them. This sometimes seems to wake them up a little more than I would like. They then go to their rooms and watch something on their iTouches. I know the experts say to stay away from “screen time” before bed but my husband doesn’t seem to believe them. (Hmmm…his “insomnia” might come from all his computer time before bed.)

I have suggested several times that we change their bedtime routine to see if it helps Lexie fall asleep faster. But since my husband is the one putting her to bed and is reluctant to change it, unless I take over bedtime, I guess we will be staying with this routine. All I can say is that I do believe a bedtime routine is necessary and will continue to try to get Lexie to go to sleep as early as I can.

Today’s Featured Author: Seann Vinyasa-Billson

Today I have romance author Seann Vinyasa-Billson on my blog. Her Promise series of romance books begins with Sexual Promise.

Interview

What or who inspired you to start writing?

My grandmother on my mother’s side wrote poetry and so did her father. She also read tea leaves and he read palms. I also write poetry and read oracle cards for clients.

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

A lot of my experiences and me are in my books. Only one book is out at the moment, the first in the Promise Series. However you will see much of who I am in every book because I am writing about what I know about. It gives people a glimpse into what it is like to be an intuitive & to have dreams that come true on a regular basis. It also demonstrates what my interests are and what pushes my buttons.

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

My next project is actually almost completed and it may be available before this interview is published actually. Fingers crossed. I seem to be dragging my feet on this one because it is very personal. It is a memoir and a ‘how to’ work with your dreams. It actually gives people a background to some of the characters in Sexual Promise. The name is Dream The Answer – A Memoir – My Eyes in the Sky. There is an excerpt on my website.

What is the best and worst advice you ever received? (regarding writing or publishing)

The best advice I have received about writing came from two separate sources. The advice was to keep writing. The best form of marketing is the energy you are exuding to the world by continuing to write and share regardless of what the outside world’s feedback may look like at any given moment. The second best piece of advice was to make time for writing. Get up early and have a clear intention on when you will write. The worst advice I ever received was not to self publish because that was vanity publishing and no one will take you seriously. As we can see in the world today that is complete hogwash.

Do you outline your books or just start writing?

I have to answer this question because it really gives you a glimpse into my personality. I do both. When ideas fly out of me, I have to do an outline so that I do not lose the information I am getting. To me, it was much like preparing to write an essay exam in University. I found I fared much better if I did an outline before writing; now having said that, I also stay focused on one idea and develop a character with freestyle writing.

Please tell us about your current release.

Sexual Promise is a book that delves into psychic ability, alcoholism, time travel, romantic relationships and religion. The characters offer different sides to these topics so that a reader can decide what they think and not be told what to think.

How did you come up with the title?

I was in my living room one day and felt that I needed to write a novel and all of a sudden I heard the name “Sexual Promise” given to me and that I would self publish. It was one of my clairaudient experiences.

What kind of research did you do for this book?

I am a huge fan of Edgar Cayce so I read one of his books about Atlantis. I also read some material from Ruth Montgomery.

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

The next book is called Atlantis Bourne. It delves more into what life is like in Atlantis as well as keeping up with what is going on with the characters in this time – 2014.

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

I have two places I like to write – Our bedroom because it is our sanctuary and it carries a sense of peace yet passion inside our room. The second place is a window seat at Tim Horton’s. It does not matter to me if the place is full and noisy because I can tune my environment out when I am focused. I am focused because I am on task without housework beckoning to me. It is much like being in our bedroom. Shut the door and voila, housework is out of sight.

What book are you reading right now?

Breathing Spaces by Katrina Repka and Alan Finger. A book about breathing and yoga. (non-fiction) Very good!!!

Book Description

Sexual Promise CoverSexual Promise – the first book in the Promise Series.

They are gorgeous, they are armed and promises are made. The tribe must be kept together in a future that is hard to control.

Rhea is the High Priestess in the land of Atlantis. She receives visions and is called to act. Enlisting three of her tribal members, one of which is the love of her life, they time travel together into the year 2013.

This is a mission that begins by manipulating Connie, a writer, of whom Rhea had given a three year notice. Now it was time for the tribe to enter into Connie’s dreams while trying to remain alive in Atlantis.

They are the characters in the book being written by Connie. Challenges arise when they cannot control what is written. Time is running out in Atlantis resulting in the possibility of a backup plan being executed.

About the Author

seannSeann Vinyasa-Billson (1968 – whenever) was born in The Pas, Manitoba. Original birth name was Shauna Hicks. Due to her love of travel and change, she has lived overseas twice, served at two different resorts, has a degree in Sociology and can reupholster furniture. Seann is considered the Jane of all trades with an “I’ll do it myself” attitude. Being a wife and mother of two keeps her hopping.

More recently, office assistant turned Oracle, Seann now entertains us with her romance novel series, a memoir combined with a ‘do it yourself’ book about dreams.

You can find out more about Seann on her website or blog.

You can purchase Sexual Promise on Amazon.

Breaking the “young adult” myth

When I began writing my novel, Summoned, I gave little thought about the intended audience. I merely wrote a story that I would like to read. I made my main character eighteen because I needed a protagonist that was young and perhaps a bit naïve or unworldly.

In my story, Lina is compelled to leave her home by an unknown, magical force. Her naiveté and her youth play a large role into her journey. It would have been a whole different story if my main character had been older, perhaps with a husband and children.

I did not write novel with young adults as my target audience. I didn’t even consider marketing it to this group but after two reviewers called it a “young adult” book that got me wondering where they came up that this is geared to “young adults.”

What really defines a “young adult” novel? Is it the age of the protagonist? Or is it that the subject matter is aimed at teenagers? Or maybe something else totally?

Young woman lying on a lawn reading a book uid 1531307So I decided to look around the Internet for an answer. Most often, people seem to categorize a book as young adult when the protagonist is a teenager. But really, just because a teenager or even a child is the main character doesn’t make the book a “young adult” or “juvenile fiction” book.

Take Ender’s Game by Orson Scott Card. Even though the protagonist is twelve through part of the book, the subject matters (genocide and war) are not aimed at a young audience.

In my opinion, the key here is subject matter. A book about a middle or high school student with typical school type problems is clearly a teen/juvenile type novel. The problems and situations are geared toward those readers. Many young adult novels have teen angst – the woe is me syndrome of most teenagers. No matter what else is going on, a large part of the story tends to be about a teenager’s struggle between childhood and adulthood.

And then there is the consideration of what a “young adult” really is. When I hear that, I am thinking high school through college age. But the American Library Association defines Young Adult as 12-18 years old. Many publishers list it as either 10-14 or 12 and up. No matter how you look at it that is a wide range of people to market a book to. There is a big difference between the maturity of a twelve-year-old and a college freshman.

Of course, just because something is written for teenagers (or “young adults”) doesn’t mean it doesn’t hold merit. I know that there are some readers out there that would not consider reading a book intended for teens. But the success of the Harry Potter series shows that this isn’t true for everyone.

Perhaps, the “young adult” label is more of a marketing strategy. I know quite a few authors that didn’t strive to write a book for teens but have found success marketing their books to them. If you want to read a good article on “What is Young Adult Fiction,” check out this website.

Getting household chores done

You would think with both kids back in school that I would have plenty of time to get things done. Not so. They have been back in school for over a month and have I thoroughly cleaned the house? Nope. Have I got caught up on all my projects? Not a chance. It seems even without the kids here, I don’t have enough time to get everything done that I want to do.

chores

One thing that can’t slip (too much) is doing household chores. Back when I first stopped working to be a stay-at-home mom, I made up a system. I divided up my chores so I wouldn’t be overwhelmed with them and trying to take care of a newborn.

Mondays – clean the bathrooms (we have 3)

Tuesdays – clean the kitchen

Wednesday – pay bills

Thursday – laundry

Friday – change sheets and do any other cleaning that needs to be done

My husband (or son) does the vacuuming of the floors on Sundays as well as emptying all the trash cans.

It has been eight years, and I still use this breakdown. Hey, if it isn’t broke, why fix it?

But I have other projects I want to do – such as cleaning out the closets and cabinets or purging some of the old toys from the kids’ rooms. And there is some additional cleaning that I have been neglecting. I hate dusting, for instance, and sometimes the walls don’t get wiped down regularly. (Don’t even get me started on the baseboards).

It is just in the scheme of things, how important is a super clean house? I mean do I need to have it perfect? I vote no on that. I don’t want to make cleaning the house my top priority. I don’t necessarily want to tell the kids that I can’t do something with them because the house needs cleaning.

As they get older, more of the chores will be delegated to them. Right now, they are only required to keep their rooms straightened up, and toys picked up in the living room and rest of the house. We don’t tie their allowance to chores but do pay extra (as in when Jacen vacuums).

So I guess in the next few weeks, I will try to get to some of those other projects – especially the one about purging the kids’ rooms as we need to make room for the toys they will get at Christmas. And I will keep working on keeping the house somewhat clean. Thankfully, I have a system in place for that.

Today’s Featured Author: Marie Lavender

Today I have with romance author Marie Lavender on my blog. Her latest book, Upon Your Return, is a historical romance.

Interview

Tell us a bit about yourself. 

I am a romance author.  I have published 16 books.  I have been writing since I was a kid.

Where were you born and where do you call home?

I was raised in a small town in Indiana, so small they actually consider it “Small Town U.S.A.”.  At the moment, I still live in Indiana, though I have plans to move eventually.

When did you first consider yourself a writer?

I feel like I’ve been writing forever.  So I pretty much always considered myself a writer.  I never considered myself an “author” until I published a book in 2010.

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

Oh, I think quite a lot is.  Sometimes when I go back and read through stories, I can see a bit of myself bleeding through the text.  I know the people closest to me notice it too.  It’s not intentional at all.  I think a lot of my beliefs have been influenced by my life experiences and that will come through occasionally in my characters.  I think some of my characters are stubborn like me.  That’s one example.

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

I plan to release an anthology very soon.  It is a mixture of stories and poems called Miss Lavender’s Anthology of Ramblings.  I am also polishing my sequel to my current release, Upon Your Return.  It is titled Upon Your Honor, and it is about a young woman who finds herself in quite a bit of trouble when she stows aboard a ship.

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

Though I can identify with Fara Bellamont in Upon Your Return, I still have a thing for Captain Grant Hill.  What woman doesn’t want a hot captain showing interest in her?  And the only characters I have disliked are the antagonists.

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

I struggled a bit with the prologue.  Getting into the mindset of a child is definitely not easy.  I mean, I remember being a child, but this child was in Victorian France so that made it more difficult.

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

I didn’t expect Fara to turn out so strong, but she did.  She rose above her circumstances and took what was thrown at her pretty well.  She made a life for herself in a time where she would have been ridiculed for it.

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

I think I would want to be Fara Bellamont from Upon Your Return.  Not because of her circumstances or anything, but more for the time period.  I’ve always loved historical romances and I always kind of wondered what it would be like to travel back in time.  I’m sure it wouldn’t be easy to live in that time, but it might be interesting to find out.

What book are you reading right now?

I am reading The Law of Love by Nora Roberts.

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

That’s hard.  I would say J.R. Ward merely because I’d like to know what really spurred the Black Dagger Brotherhood series.  And I might choose Catherine Coulter as well.  She is very good with romances set in Regency England.  She could be fascinating to talk to.

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

I like to color my hair red.  It’s naturally dark brown.

Book Description

UponYourReturn_E-bookCoverFara Bellamont has been back in society for a year after leaving Cluny Abbey, where her uncle sent her long ago. When he chooses a suitor for her for marriage, she fears that she will be forced to marry a stranger and live a miserable life. But, Fara finds herself thrust into an adventure of a lifetime when unforeseen circumstances cause her to place her trust in a strange man for protection. His intervention not only saves her, but puts her in an even more compromising position. Grant Hill, a trading captain, is enchanted by the young heiress not only because of her beauty, but because she is hardly conventional. Underneath her ladylike exterior lies a tigress. Grant cannot help but offer his protection as she is in need and he is far from immune from her charms. Fara just never bargained on the passion that she feels for Grant Hill. As events unfold, she must decide whether her desires and the dictates of her heart should trump the rules of society…

About the Author

Mariepic2Marie Lavender lives in the Midwest with her family and three cats. She has been writing for over twenty years. She has more works in progress than she can count on two hands.

At the tender age of nine, she began writing stories. Her imagination fueled a lot of her early child’s play. Even growing up, she entered writing contests and received a certificate for achieving the second round in one. She majored in Creative Writing in college because that was all she ever wanted – to be a writer. While there, she published two works in a university publication, and was a copy editor on the staff of an online student journal. After graduating from college, she sought out her dream to publish a book.

Since then, Marie has published sixteen books. Marie Lavender’s real love is writing romances, but she has also written mysteries, literary fiction and dabbled a little in paranormal stories. Most of her works have a romantic element involved in them. Upon Your Return is her first historical romance novel.

A list of her books and pen names are as follows:

Marie Lavender: Upon Your Return

Erica Sutherhome: Hard to Get; Memories; A Hint of Scandal; Without You; Strange Heat; Terror in the Night; Haunted; Pursuit; Perfect Game; A Touch of Dawn; Ransom

Kathryn Layne: A Misplaced Life

Heather Crouse: Express Café and Other Ramblings; Ramblings, Musings and Other Things; Soulful Ramblings and Other Worldly Things

You can find out more about Marie on her website or her blog. You can be updated on her latest books on her book blog. You can also follow her on Twitter or Facebook.

You can purchase Upon Your Return on Amazon, Create Space and from Solstice Publishing.

Using World Literary Cafe to promote your book

I have written about many good websites for author support or promotion (Authors Database, Independent Authors Network, Goodreads, Wattpad). Here is another one to add to the list – World Literary Cafe.

newswire_logoThe World Literary Café is an online community bridging the gap between readers and authors.  They offer promotions to authors, reviewers, bloggers and editors by bringing them together on one site.

Readers are able to discover new authors and great books, including notices about free e-books. For authors, they provide resources on publishing, marketing and connecting with readers.  They also connect bloggers, reviewers and other people in the author services field (editing, cover design, publishing, and marketing) with authors.

Now to take advantage of these services you do need to become a member of the site. But that is as easy as filling out the form after you click the “Join Now” button.

Once a member, you have the choice of selecting paid or free book support. I will cover some of the benefits of their free services first.

Free book support

If you are planning a free book promotion, you can list your book here. Just post a listing under the correct date your book will be free. If it is free multiple days, then list under each date.

Linking authors and bloggers

If you are looking to promote your book or a blogger looking for authors to feature on your blog, you can check out the Author-Blogger Connection to arrange blog tours, interviews, reviews and guest posts. I have used this both as a blogger looking for authors to feature on my Friday Featured Author spot and as an author promoting my latest release.

Tweet teams

If you use Twitter to promote your books, you can widen your exposure by using the tweet teams. By signing up for this, you are partnering with nine other authors. You agree to tweet up to two tweets for each member on your team. You also agree to tweet out a few tweets for WLC (see their daily tweets list). Now this really works on the honor system as no one checks to make sure everyone does their tweets. And there is no requirement on when your partners have to send the tweets. They could send them all out at midnight. I always tried to spread the ones I did for others throughout the day.

There is also an Indie Kindle Tweet program where WLC will tweet out about your book for you. You can sign up once a week (no promoting of erotica). You must use a few of their key words and include #indiekindle in the tweet. 

Paid services

They also offer a few paid services. Social Media Mania is $45/day and offers an excerpt of your book on their blog and will be advertised on their Twitter and Facebook accounts and through their Triberr account. There is a cheaper version ($20/day) if you have a free e-book but this comes without the excerpt.

Today’s Hot Titles allows you an advertising spot on the WLC homepage. Up to 6 books are featured every day and are promoted through Twitter and Facebook. This costs $25/day.

New Release Registration runs from the 1st to the 7th of each month and features a link on the WLC homepage. This cost $45 and offered for books published within the last 45 days.

I have never used any of their paid services but have used their free services with good results. It is certainly a place I suggest authors check out to promote their books.