Sunday, July 31, 2011

Book Lovers Blog Hop (7/31)

Book Lovers Blog Hop:
Make friends, share the love of reading and be entered to win a FREE book!

All you have to do is post the Book Lovers Blog Hop and World of Ink Tour Banners below to your blog. Promote the Book Lovers Hop and World of Ink Tours on any social network. Tweet it once a day, share on Facebook and then follow others back that leave you a comment. By joining the Book Lovers Blog Hop, you are automatically entered in our Book Giveaway! 

There will be two (2) winners for this Book Giveaway.  

Note: One book per winner.


Create your own banner at mybannermaker.com!

Hop Rules:
1.      Follow the Top link of the hop! Hop Host: Families Matter
       2.      Grab the button for the hop and place it in a post, sidebar, or on a blog hop page and let us know where it is in the comments section below. This will help the hop grow and gain us all new followers. It's a Win-Win for everyone!
      3.      Grab the buttons for the World of Ink Tours and place it in a post or side bar. Make sure you let us know where it is in the comments section below.


Create your own banner at mybannermaker.com!



Create your own banner at mybannermaker.com!



Book Giveaway Rules:
·         Join the Book Lovers Blog Hop. (One entry)
     ·         Follow the World of Ink Tours and leave a comment per tour blog stop. (must leave a real comment about the author, tour or book. Saying “this is cool” or “I love your book” will not count.) Make sure to include your safe email so we can contact you if you are the winner. Example: vsgrenier AT storiesforchildrenpublishing DOT com. (One bonus entry per blog stop)
·         Ask a question per World of Ink Tour blog stop. (One bonus entry per tour blog stop)

~~~~~~~~~~
Please play nice and follow our simple rules! Make sure to FOLLOW AT LEAST ONE PERSON and as many other blogs as you'd like to have more follow back. This is what makes Book Lovers Blog Hop work, so if you're not willing to follow, please don't link up.

Remember to leave a comment on the blogs you follow to let them know you found them here at FAMILIES MATTER, and if someone follows you, be sure to follow back. If you follow us and leave a comment, we'll definitely follow you too!


Book Lovers Blog Hop is Open…

  Sunday July 31, 2011 at 12am MST and closes August 28th at 11pm MST!

Friday, July 29, 2011

5 Places to Find Writing Ideas

If you've ever struggled in coming up with creative ideas, welcome to the club. For most writers, discovering new writing projects involves conscious pursuit of their thought trails. But where do start on our quest for inspiration? Here are a few places you can find new ideas for writing:

1. The world around you.
Just like a photographer, you must start looking at life through your own personal lens. You will get a tremendous amount of writing material if you start filtering your own experiences. Soon you will start noticing ideas everywhere around you. Very often the muse will come at strange times and from unusual sources, so be prepared. The world is full of surprises that can materialize in your next book or article.

2. Writers’ associations and networks.
If you are a professional writer, you probably belong to an association or writer's group. Generating new ideas will feel much easier after meeting other members or attending writing workshops and conferences. You can also generate new ideas from subscribing to newsletters and discussion groups for writers.

3. Community
Although writing is an activity that you undertake by yourself, balancing your solitary experiences with group ones will give you a lot of new topics for you to write about. All you need to do is get involved in community’s life -- perhaps by volunteering to care about the elders or counsel youngsters. Conversations usually have a lot of stories embedded in them, so one of the stories you hear may turn out to be that spark you need to get inspired.

4. Personal interests
Your own history as a person is certainly something worth writing about. Take a more personal approach and see what stories are embedded in your past experiences. For instance, if your life-long hobby has been looking at the stars, you can turn your passion into a book about watching the stars in a particular area. Or if you have had to adapt recipes daily because of a food allergy, you can focus on this topic and write about how you eat.

5. Family
People have weird things happening to them every day, you just need to pay attention to them. The adolescents in your family may get you thinking about anything from young love to social injustice once they start telling you about their experiences. You can also resort to pulling out the photographs at any time. Good times or sad times -- your writing ideas may simply pop out of some forgotten pictures of you as a child.

Certainly, you have more ideas than you imagine, but you need to learn to first notice them and then let them grow. Carrying a small notebook or pad with you will help you keep track of your ideas and before you know it, you will virtually be swamped with new creative projects.

Copyright © Shery Ma Belle Arrieta-Russ
About Shery: Shery is the creator of WriteSparks!™- a software that generates over 10 *million* Story Sparkers for Writers. Download WriteSparks!™ Lite for free at http://writesparks.com


If you want 3 writing *sparks* delivered to you every day for 31 days, check out WriteSparks!™ Daily HERE for info on how to get started -- it's free :o)
Thank you for reading. Keep writing!

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Interview with Author Clayton Paul Thomas - Parenting Tool Belt Coach

Clayton Paul Thomas has worked with kids for about 16 years from three different settings. The first was at St. Joseph Children’s Home where he helped abused kids permanently separated from their parents. Afterwards, Thomas became an elementary public school teacher. He taught for 7 1/2 years from 1st through 4th grade. Finally, he became a father of two boys. Though his parenting skills were learned at St. Joseph, his wife’s has been the inspiration to writing Tantrums, Troubles, and Treasures: A Parent Guide to Parenting in the 21st Century”.


VS: Clayton, I want to thank you for being my guest here on The Writing Mama today. As a dad, what do you do to help balance your writing life with your family life?

Clayton: As important as my book Tantrums, Troubles, and Treasures and my blog are to me…my family comes first. Therefore, there really isn’t a balance.  I do my work before my family wakes in the morning. I can also be caught burning the midnight oil. When my kids are playing peacefully, I can slip in a little work there as well.   

VS: I tend to do the same thing when it comes to my writing. Clayton, how long have you been writing? 

Clayton: Formally, I have been writing about two years. I went to Catholic Schools through college. One thing I have learned is that Catholic school teachers loved to make you write!

VS: What inspired you to write? 

Clayton: My wife was my inspiration. She encouraged me to write the book based on my vast experiences with children. Without her, I never would have done this.    

VS: That’s wonderful and to have that kind of support. Was the whole family supportive when you started writing?

Clayton: Absolutely, even my children get into it. They really got a kick out of seeing their pictures on the cover of my book. When I explain to them that I write to help other parents, they really seem to get a sense of pride out of that.  

VS: Clayton, can you share with us a little about your current book?

Clayton: Tantrums, Troubles, and Treasures is a book designed to help parents navigate through the toughest job in the world. I have been fortunate to work with children up to age 15 intensely and this book guides readers through my triumphs and tribulations. There are 25 chapters written on a variety of topics. Education is a big chapter because I was a former teacher.  

VS: I really enjoyed reading your book Clayton. I even added a few new ‘tools’ to my list of ways to handle my kids. You do a great job relating to parents. So what do you enjoy most about writing?

Clayton: I enjoy communicating with my audience. I love hearing reactions to my book and my blogs. They make me realize how important what I do really is.  

VS: You have a wonderful blog, too. Now, what would you say is the most difficult part of writing?

Clayton: Marketing my material is the most difficult thing for me because I literally run out of time. It’s become obvious to me why there are people who have full time jobs marketing. In saying that, I am getting the word out about the book, I am doing radio interviews, and I will start a speaking tour this fall.  

VS: As a marketing major, I can completely agree with that statement. Okay, I know you’re busy with promoting your current book right now, but Clayton, do you have any other works in progress? Can you share a little about them?

Clayton: I do have a working outline for a second parenting book. For now though, I am concentrating on marketing my book and garnering further interest for my speaking tour.  

VS: What tips can you give writing parents with children at home to help them see publication?

Clayton: Any writer has to be patient and persistent-especially those with children. A writer has to be willing to work around their children’s schedule and be willing to get less sleep for an extended period of time. This is a true labor of love.

VS: So true. Clayton with all that you are doing, have you received any awards?

Clayton: No, but my children believe I am the best dad ever. Does that count?

VS: Yes, I think the ‘Best Dad Ever’ award counts. It’s not easy raising a young family and writing a book at the same time. Before we go, is there anything else you would like to share with us about being a “Writing Dad”?

Clayton: I’d like to thank everyone for reading this piece. After you read the book, I think many things in your parenting life will become clearer and more manageable. The things you will learn from Tantrums, Troubles, and Treasures will serve your child well and that‘s the most important thing. There’s no better joy or a greater burden than raising a child. I wish you and your children well and I hope we can build a relationship through the book, my blog posts, and email that will help you on your journey!    

If you would like to get some great tips bi-weekly, check out Clayton Paul Thomas’ blog at http://www.claytonpaulthomas.com. You can also learn more about him, his book and his World of Ink tour at http://storiesforchildrenpublishing.com/ClaytonPThomas.aspx.


Book Giveaway Rules:
One entry for each comment left per author virtual blog tour stop. (Must leave a real comment about the author, tour or book. Saying, “this is cool” or “I love your book” will not count.) Make sure to include your safe email so we can contact you if you are the winner. Example: vsgrenier AT storiesforchildrenpublishing DOT com.

Ask a question – get a bonus entry per author virtual blog tour stop.

Book Giveaway ends July 31, 2011

Monday, July 25, 2011

My New Show Time on Blog Talk Radio


The Writing Mama show on Blog Talk's World of Ink Network is now a monthly show on the last Wed. of each month. Tune in at 9pm EST and join us as we chat on topics from family to writing.
This month I've asked author Clayton Paul Thomas to join me again so he can answer questions from you and share some tips to help us with children find a solution to problems we may be dealing with from little one to teenagers.
 

For Immediate Release

Come chat with Author Clayton Paul Thomas on Blog Talk Radio’s World of Ink Network show: The Writing Mama –July 25, 2011 

Blog Talk Radio’s World of Ink Network Show: The Writing Mama with host VS Grenier will be chatting Author Clayton Paul Thomas. In his book, “Tantrums, Troubles, and Treasures: A Parent Guide to Parenting in the 21st Century” Thomas shares an insider’s point of view on how to work with kids who can be challenging.

Clayton Paul Thomas has worked with kids for about 16 years from three different settings. The first was at St. Joseph Children’s Home where he helped abused kids permanently separated from their parents. Afterwards, Thomas became an elementary public school teacher. He taught for 7 1/2 years from 1st through 4th grade. Finally, he became a father of two boys. Though his parenting skills were learned at St. Joseph, his wife’s has been the inspiration to writing Tantrums, Troubles, and Treasures: A Parent Guide to Parenting in the 21st Century”.

“I have worked with a lot of difficult kids,” states Thomas. “I don’t pretend to have a magic touch and I’m certain I don’t have every answer. There is not one correct way to do this. What I can tell you is I learned plenty from a multitude of people. I talk about some of these people and relate their stories. What I do believe is we all can be better parents.”

If you are a parent, grandparent or teacher and have some useful ‘tools’ to share on dealing with difficult children, we invite you to call in. Thomas will also be taking calls from parents to help give them tips on situations they just don’t seem to be finding a solution to.

“I’ve read Thomas’ book and I have three kids ranging in age from 17 months to 15-years-old. I never thought I had all the answers, but I did feel I had a good idea what to do in certain situations. That was until I read ‘Tantrums, Troubles, and Treasures.’ I’ve added a few new tools to my ‘parenting tool belt’ as Thomas calls it. I know find I’m not blowing up as much over situations my husband and I haven’t encountered yet with our children. We all communicate better and I have Clayton to thank for this,” stated VS Grenier.

You can find out more about Clayton Paul Thomas’s World of Ink Author/Book Tour schedule at http://storiesforchildrenpublishing.com/ClaytonPThomas.aspx. There will be giveaways, reviews, interviews, guest posts and more. Make sure to stop by and interact with Clayton Paul Thomas and the hosts at the different stops by leaving comments and/or questions. Thomas will be checking in throughout the tour and is offering an additional giveaway for those who leave comments throughout the month long tour.

The show will air live, July 25, 2011 at 9pm EST. Tune in at the BTR World of Ink Network site at http://www.blogtalkradio.com/worldofinknetwork. You can listen/call in at (714) 242-5259. (Note: if you can’t make the show, you can listen on demand at the same link.)


To learn more about the World of Ink Tours visit Stories for Children Publishing at: http://storiesforchildrenpublishing.com

Thursday, July 21, 2011

Is Summer Over Yet?

I don’t know about other writers with kids at home, but I’m ready for school to start. Trying to get anything done lately has been well…let’s just say, my personal writing and blogging is taking a very big backseat to everything else. 

It’s funny because the reason I started this blog was to 1) get myself writing again after having my baby girl over a year ago and 2) share with all of you who write with kids at home that you’re not alone in trying to balance it all. So here, I am writing about how I am having trouble with the balancing act this summer. The irony of it all. Well it’s not as if I thought I was perfect. Heck, I laugh half the time and cry the other half when I get emails from fellow writers commenting, “Virginia, you amaze me. I just don’t know how you do it all.” In truth…neither do I.

I do have to say I am lucky to have the support of many fellow writers, known as the SFC Team, helping me out. I also have partnered with some great writers as well. They give me support, encouragement and that need kick in the @$$, which I do need from time to time.  I don’t know what I would do without them. Oh, I know…find a very deep hole to crawl into and cry. 

I would love to say my family is supportive and I couldn’t do it without them. However, when the kids are fighting (mostly the girls), my son is saying all the things teens say when they have to do something they hate (mostly because he has to get off World of Warcraft so I can do my job) and my husband makes comments under his breath about seeing the back of my head yet again…it’s hard to find or see the support. Of course, when a nice paying freelance job is on the table, they are all very supportive and make sure I have the time to do what I need to do. But why can’t it be like that with my personal writing? I guess the dollar signs and “mom” taking them out for a nice dinner is more of an incentive. Oh well. I love them anyway.

And even though I have been enjoying the triple digit weather that living in the southern desert of Utah brings each summer, I am looking forward to 4 hours of uninterrupted writing time. Oh how I hear the bliss of back-to-school calling as I walk the store isles looking for the items my two oldest will need when school starts back up once again. Now to figure out a way to get my littlest (now almost 18 months) just to watch Tangled three times in a row. Now that would be just total bliss. The amount of writing I could get done. The things I could do for my company SFC Publishing…and still do all the freelance stuff as well. 

I guess the truth is you can’t have it all and you can’t do it all. We like to fool ourselves into believing we can, but we can’t. I wouldn’t be able to write at all if my kids didn’t understand how much it means to me. I would not be writing at all if my husband didn’t support the fact I need something to do or I’ll drive my family bonkers. No really! I also wouldn’t have built SFC Publishing into what it is today without the support of my past and present SFC Team, the contributors both past and present (non-paid and now paid), my fellow writing groups in-person and virtually, and of course all of you…my readership, supporters, fans, etc.

It’s been a long time coming, but I want to say…THANK YOU from the bottom of my heart. I don’t know what I would be doing if it wasn’t for all of you. Wait, I think I covered that already…climbing into the deepest hole I could find and crying. So thank you for not letting that happen.

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Special Interview with Author Linda Valderrama


Stories for Children Publishing has been touring Author Linda Valderrama R.D.H. and her book “BRUSH BARRY BRUSH” all month long in July 2011.

Linda Valderrama R.D.H. has over 25 years experience as a dental hygienist. She has treated patients from ages two to one hundred years old and has successfully developed preventative oral hygiene programs tailored to individual needs. Linda is a strong believer that good oral hygiene habits lead to good overall health and that these daily habits must be acquired early in life. She is working towards developing programs for schools, assisted living facilities and healthcare institutions to enable them to offer more effective oral hygiene programs.

Linda is a member of the American Dental Hygienists’ Association, the California Dental Hygienists’ Association and the San Diego Dental Hygienists’ Society. Her book “Brush Barry Brush” is to help parents and young children work together to achieve the simple but very important goal that every time you eat, you should brush your teeth. 

VS: Linda, I want to thank you for being my guest here on The Writing Mama today. To start things off, what do you do to help balance your writing life with your family life?

Linda: It is not always easy. I am trying to set aside specific time either in the morning or the afternoon to work on my books.    

VS: I understand that answer. I still don't always get to my personal writing everyday. How long have you been writing?    

Linda: This is my first book. 

VS: You did a great job and you should be proud. What inspired you to write? 

Linda:Early child hood caries (cavities) is at a crisis level. 50% of young children have cavities before they reach second grade. It is one of the most prevalent chronic childhood diseases, yet it is mostly preventable! Since this is my area of expertise, I wanted to write a book that would get across the very simple idea that tooth brushing after eating is important and can be a key factor in preventing decay. Also, the book made sense because my patients are always asking me for tips to get their young children to brush their teeth. 

VS: Is your family supportive of your writing?  

Linda: Yes, both my son and daughter have encouraged me all along. 

VS: Can you share with us a little about your debut book? 

Linda: Every parent knows that brushing after eating prevents tooth decay. This book will         make teaching your child this basic yet very essential lesson a fun and enjoyable experience. All of Barry’s friends brush their teeth after they eat. Barry forgets to brush. That is when he encounters a problem.  His friends come to the rescue and Barry finally does end up with a sensational smile!

VS: What do you enjoy most about writing?

Linda: The positive effect it can have on children. 

VS: What is the most difficult part of writing? 

Linda: Getting started.  Coming up with the basic idea in the first place can be a challenge.

VS: What is the best writing advice you ever received?

Linda: Good things happen when you least expect them.


VS: Do you find it hard to balance your personal writing time with your other job(s)?

Linda: Sometimes, yes. There are only so many hours in a day.

VS: Do you have any other works in progress? Can you share a little about them?

Linda: Ready or not, I am working on a sequel to “Brush Barry Brush”. Since Barry still has more to learn, it will be a flossing adventure with the same group of friends.  Also I am working on a Spanish version of “Brush Barry Brush.”

VS: The world of children’s book publishing is extremely competitive, with many authors hesitating between trying their luck with a traditional publisher or self publishing. What advice would you offer writers who are oscillating between these two publishing venues?

Linda: I would say to check into everything. I would talk to as many authors who have already published as possible and then see what works better for your book and financial situation.

VS: What tips can you give writing parents with children at home to help them you’re your publication?

Linda: Even though your day is full and it is hard to find any free time for yourself, it is important to find that time, no matter what.  It sets a good example for your children, too.  As a role model, they see you set goals and continue to work towards those goals and “go for it!”

VS: What do you think are the basic ingredients of a story?

Linda: For a read-aloud picture book like “Brush Barry Brush.” I worked toward something that would draw the reader in and stimulate their imagination. I think simplicity is also the best for young children. I have had no traditional training. I tried the story and characters out with children before I published. I changed the things that did not work.

VS: What is required for a character to be believable? How do you create yours?

Linda: I patterned them after some of my children’s friends they had growing up. I made characters that deal with “real life” food. My whole point is that you do not have to deny yourself candy once in awhile or a jam sandwich on a camping trip. The key is moderation and of course to brush your teeth after eating whenever possible.

VS: Have you received any awards?

Linda: Yes, recently we won an award as a finalist in an International Book Awards competition. Also I was chosen to be a “spotlighted” author on BiblioReads.com review website, Midwest Book Review featured our book and  I was informed that our review has been made available to Wisconsin’s public school systems and public libraries and we are now in the “Book Review Index “that is published four times yearly for academic, corporate, and public library systems.
  
VS: Congrats Linda! Is there anything else you would like to share with us about being a “Writing Mama”?

Linda: I raised 2 children. I met my partner who illustrated the book, Sudi Memarzadeh at a bookstore one day.  She was there with her 3-year-old daughter and overheard me discussing the idea for “Brush Barry Brush” with my own kids. Although it is definitely more difficult time wise to juggle job, children and writing, still it gives you a treasure trove of experiences to draw upon! 


VS: I thank you for taking the time to share with my readers about being a writing mama.


Book Giveaway Rules:
One entry for each comment left per author virtual blog tour stop. (Must leave a real comment about the author, tour or book. Saying “this is cool” or “I love your book” will not count.) 
Make sure to include your safe email so we can contact you if you are the winner. 
Example: vsgrenier AT storiesforchildrenpublishing DOT com.

    Ask a question – get a bonus entry per author virtual blog tour stop.

Book Giveaway ends July 31, 2011