#RaisingReaders: Reasons it’s important to me to raise children who read

Some of the best advice I was given as a writer was to write everyday and to read everyday.  Words to live by.

After the birth of my children, I found myself thinking a lot about books. From all the research and studies conducted, the impact of reading to children during their formative years is lifelong. Education is big our home. Knowledge and access to information are things we openly discuss and advocate.

It was a no-brainer for us that we would incorporate books into daily life of our children. The result is my littles love to read. They enjoy a good book as much as I do and a trip to the library may as well be the state fair. It’s an ordeal. I love that.

As an author, I feel a lot of responsibility in nurturing their love of books. I want their relationship with literature to be one that thrills them for the rest of their lives. With that being said, I’m pretty critical of the books I read to them. There are several criteria I look for when establishing a reading habit for my littles. I’ll discuss those in a later post. This post is all about them being readers period.

When I was a child, the library was a sanctuary for my siblings and I. I wasn’t a fast reader, didn’t eat up series after series like my sister did, but I did love the process of choosing books and what they represented for me.

It was more than just a way to pass the time.

The cliché is that it became an escape. There’s a lot of truth in that, but as I think about it now I’m sure there are deeper levels. What I found in books was exposure. In the small town that I grew up in, there were very firm ideas about identity, race, and cultural norms. In books, I was able to expand my vision of those things. Writers have been critical in shaping my values, my belief systems, and my personal identity.  I want that for my kids.

There are things that I cannot teach them, because I don’t have the experiences to accurately express them. Even though I don’t have the tools, these lessons are still things they must learn. By nurturing their love for books, I’m giving them another resource to turn to when their father and I don’t have the answers.  I’m also giving them autonomy, teaching them responsibility in seeking answers to their problems/ questions, and allowing them the freedom to live beyond the natural circle of our lives.

Raising readers, isn’t just about expanding our children’s ability to read and process information. It is about giving them access to a larger world that they may not otherwise experience. Teaching empathy toward fights they may not have to face, and still giving them authority over what they learn.

They are getting older and will soon take more ownership over the books they read or that are read to them. By then, I’m hoping to have firmly rooted them in the power of taking authority over the information they receive, among other lessons.  Hopefully, what they will come to recognize is that books are an expanded universe of their own and all they have to do is be brave enough to dive into it.

Is storytime important in your home? Comment with some of the ways you share books?

Joy

#OwnIt: My most prominent book launch mistakes

There were mistakes made in my launch. Here’s how I feel about them.

Alright, so you’ve seen my excitement about The Alpha’s Dream being released. It is heaven to see my work finally published and available to those who wanted it. I’ve been stalking my sales, and pages read through Kindle Unlimited almost hourly. Seriously. It’s to the point that my husband has put me on a schedule. He gets me, but he also knows I’m crazy. It’s true love.

Now that I’ve had a little time away, my feelings for my launch are finally sorting. Here comes the part where doing it all on my own takes its honest toll. I worked for months in writing of The Alpha’s Dream. It was originally only supposed to be a 20,000 word novella to open my career. I was nervous about attempting more.

In the end, Nathaniel and Euphoria took on a life of their own. They knew what they wanted, and their story. They desired depth and space to come to terms with the lives they were living through the pages. I was honored…am honored to have done that.

As with anyone, I realize there are limits to  talent. So, even in my writing there were things I had to prepare for in order for my book to be a success. So, I made a plan.

I would write the book. I would then do a secondary edit of the book to fill plot holes and  catch minor grammatical errors. I would then hand the book off to a great editor who would fine tune what was missed. They would return the book to me to make final adjustments.

It was a simple plan with modest expectations and nothing extravagant in terms of what other authors are doing.

I am prone to Murphy’s law. Everything that can go wrong will generally go wrong when it comes down to the wire.

My editor bailed. My secondary choice was great, but not as good. In the 25th hour I ended up doing a lot of it myself. I’m not an editor. I am a writer. It shows in my work.

As I proceeded to go through the work, I cleaned it up as much as I could and pressed forward. It would not be perfect. The flawless finish I wanted did not come. Editors, like authors, have very specific skills. I know my role well, and I know the limits of that role. What I offered was not the pristine product I’d hoped.

To further exacerbate my anxiety, the placeholder copy I used for the pre-order setup was even less perfect. It took several failed attempts to submit the first edition final version of The Alpha’s Dream. However, it was too late to prevent some of the pre-orders from receiving the completely unedited placeholder copy.

I was mortified.

My big launch, my debut to the world was marred by a completely jumbled amateur move. I couldn’t get it out of my head. Immediately, I went into recovery mode. I researched and reached out to those that I could about the copies they received and offered edited versions. I hoped for the best.

The feedback I’ve been getting for The Alpha’s Dream has been predominately positive. When I look at the reviews, I realize that I wasn’t the only one looking for books like I’ve chosen to write. It heightens my desire to create a great work. At this point, all of the Amazon reviews are glowing. The GoodReads ratings, not so much. I Love GoodReads. I love the people represented there are truly just there for the books. So even a two star rating ( at this point I have 2 two star ratings) has a significant purpose.

I see the complaints in my writing and the calls that there are grammatical errors still. It is embarrassing to work so hard and still have some prominent flaws. I sigh. I cringe. I know there is still more work to do. I’m up to the challenge.

In the coming weeks, as I prepare for even more changes in my  personal life I will be looking for another editor to see if I can finally get it right. I want a flawless project and the second edition of The Alpha’s Dream should be that.

Overall, I am still in awe of this process. I’ve learned some hard lessons and have come to terms with my shortcomings. I take my work very seriously.

This isn’t a hobby anymore. It isn’t simply what I do to pay the bills, and when that work is complete it is my responsibility to make sure it is done right. I don’t take that lightly.

As I move forward, looking down the barrel of a new baby, second edition to The Alpha’s Dream, and plot future works I keep in mind that nothing is without hiccups.  I love that The Alpha’s Dream is doing well. I hate that it isn’t perfect, but I am not intimidated about plucking away until I get it right.

What are you guys working on? Anything you’ve taken a second look at? Comment below.

Joy.

#MayShowers

I’m firmly on baby countdown time, but there are still a few things on my list for the month.

After finishing April off clear and my launch going pretty well, I’ve been thinking more about what the rest of the year looks like in my writing. As all of us know, we can only take one month, one week, one day at a time and so on. I’ve been trying to be realistic about what to expect from myself since my earlier goals seemed a bit loftier than I was able to accomplish.

My aim every month is to execute every goal that I express to all of you. It isn’t just for the surge of success from getting the work done. It is because I believe that one of the best ways to motivate each other is by sharing in success. With all of that being said, here are the things that I hope to accomplish during the month of May.

May Goal List:

-Focus on blog growth and promotion

-Begin a Shifter Short Series

-Continue Promotion of The Alpha’s Dream

-Have a healthy and happy baby

-Throw a wonderful birthday party for my oldest little

Just four short things on my list right now. The bulk of my energy will definitely be going to being a new mama all over again. Every time I give birth, I feel like I’m starting over from scratch. It’s the same awe, and sleeplessness that I had the first time. My goal list reflects this in my workload. I can’t stop being an author because I am a mama. I am both. They both need my energy and attention.

I will accomplish everything on this list and keep you updated. Keep your eyes peeled for my special delivery posts once baby is here. In the meantime, stay occupied by reading The Alpha’s Dream and signing up for my newsletter. Don’t forget to leave a review!

Joy.

 

#PostBabyBirthWerk

I’m currently 35 weeks pregnant. I’ve always delivered at 37 weeks, almost down to the minute. I’m not expecting anything different this time.

As I write this, there is still a ton of baby preparations that need to take place. In two weeks.  Don’t look at me like that, I know I should be done with baby prep. I normally would be mostly done at this point. Things are a little different right now due to the release of The Alpha’s Dream. My time has been stretched to the limits for the last five months to say the least. So, there have been…delays.

I’m worried about  getting it all done, but that isn’t new. I’m always nervous about getting it all done. Somehow, I pull it off. Could be the craziness makes me focus. Or, it could be that I thrive on last-minute details. Whatever the inspiration for finishing, it gets finish. That is what matters, right?

To add a little more pressure to an already pinching situation, my eldest turns three at the end of May. So, there will be a birth, a birthday party, and yet more promotions for The Alpha’s Dream going on at the same time. What can I say? I live on the edge.

Just, not so close to the edge that a slight wind will blow me off. That translates into lots of preparations as my clock winds down. As much as I would like to be one of those women who give birth on a Friday and race back to work on Monday, I’m not.

I need recovery time. I need a couple of days at least to snuggle up with the new little and assure my older littles of their permanent places in my heart.  It is just as important to me that my darlings know how valuable they are to me as it is that my writing career thrives. So, I take precautions. I make hella plans, and it is no different this time around.

While managing my home front, I have to honor that writing is my business. I have to take care of the business even when things are going a little haywire in my home life. So here is a list of about five things I am currently doing to keep my feet firmly planted in both worlds as I welcome a new life into mine.

Pre-Planning my Blog Post

I love my blog more than I would have ever imagined. It is much more han just a place to talk about my releases and other important book publishing information. It’s a little like a second home when it comes to my connection to my work. I love it. However, It is time consuming. I’ve been working to really create a platform that I feel represents me in the multi-facets of my life. It probably isn’t the best way to run an authors’ blog, but its how i like it.

I suspect I won’t be working much once baby is here. So while I’m working on my blog editorial, I’ll make more notes than usual on the blogs I will post. In addition, I will schedule as many as possible. I won’t consistency in my blog and I like to keep you guys connected. The love is real and mutual. So, I will be sure to keep you in mind while I’m in recovery.

 

Post-Birth Book Giveaway

With The Alpha’s Dream finally being live, I’m planning giveaways of the digital copy for while I’m away. I have all the details in place except one-the start date. The giveaway will began the day after my little is born. It’s a celebratory event of the great changes that are happening in my life. So many dreams coming true at once makes my heart full. I want to share it with you, and what better way than this.

There is no purchase necessary. To qualify, you must ‘like’ my Facebook fan page and then leave a comment on the pinned post specifically about the giveaway. Winners will be chosen at random.

Catching up on some reading

Writers should always be readers too. There are quite a few books I’ve been meaning to dive into and I plan to do  just that between feedings and naps. I’m not going to be overly ambitious about how many books I’ll get to, but I do have an extensive list. I’m going to compile them and post  asap. I would love to hear what you all are reading. Be sure to leave a comment below with any I should add to my list.

Social Media and other Interactions

There are still some hands on things I will have to do despite being mostly pulled away.  I can schedule some of my social media, but I have to make personal time for somethings. I’ll be on Instagram and good reads periodically just to check in. In case you didn’t know,  my Goodreads author page is finally  up and running. I have no friends. You should come and be friends with me there.  I promise it’ll be fun.

Recovering

The only way to be an effective business woman and an dedicated author is knowing when to take time away. I have a few projects I will love to dabble in while trying to sleep and shower. What I know is that if I don’t take my time and allow my body what it needs, I won’t be up to the hours it takes for me to craft a great book. I want my second release to be as fun as my first has been and that won’t happen if I’m burned out.

I’ll take at least one long mama-is-having-a-moment-bath. I will eat lots of snowballs, and neglect the laundry. I will indulge in all the baby giggles I can while still balancing the noise level for a hopefully good sleeper newborn. Let me dream big, okay?! Just let me have these moments.

I don’t know what life is really going to look like once baby three is here. I have absolutely no foundation for what it will mean to put everything together. What I do know is that it will be worth the wait. Every moment will change me a little more. It was the same way with my older two and with the conception and release of The Alpha’s Dream.  The methods I’ve listed here are just part of the way I intend to find balance. Work is work. Family is family, but i need them both to thrive.

Any other mama’s out there balancing work and children? Leave me a comment below on how you make it all work.

Joy

 

 

#wingingit

I’m feeling the crunch.

In a little over three weeks The Alpha’s Dream will be live and ready for the world.  I’m excited, and terrified, and exhausted. All the things I thought I would be over-ish by now. Turns out, I was lying to myself. Not a habit I want to continue, so I’ll put that on my list of habits to break this year.

I make a lot of list.

Whatever it takes, right? Whatever it takes.

I’ve spent the last several months working my behind off to create The Alpha’s Dream. I love my work. I’m really happy with it…mostly. Lol. I don’t know that there will ever be a day where there won’t be something that I want to tweak about it.  Such is life as a writer. I hope I never lose the hunger for creating stories and then for making them better. It’s all part of my ever expanding dream.

It will continue to grow.

The closer I get to the end of this or rather the middle, the more attached I get to my characters. Their needs have grown with my understanding of them. They expand, and I relish their expansion.

I love that my hero, Nathaniel, is sure of himself, until his heroine, Euphoria, forces him to examine his most hidden resentments. I love that Euphoria doesn’t try to change him, and instead makes whatever uncomfortable choices she has to in order to keep them both in their comfort zone. It doesn’t work, because they want each other too badly. The fact is, when you are made for someone, attempting to walk away from that will never end well. It takes a little transformation and a lot of faith to come out happily ever after.

This book has become so many things for me. Hope. Labor of love. Confirmation. Affirmation, and so on and so forth. I have learned more about myself as I’ve crafted its pages than I intended too. That’s a good thing. What we love should reveal us to ourselves.

I hope everything I write has that effect on me. After all, there is nothing more dangerous than a settling into complacency. I don’t want to be the author who simp,y cranks out books with no regard as to their effects. I strive to keep that true always.

I want you to enjoy my book. I want you to read and re-read it because the story is good, and the love is real, and it reminds you of something you’ve wanted or have. I want you to come back for me. As we continue on this voyage together, I want you to know that my heart is in it.

 

Joy.

#Firstreleasefrenzy

In four weeks and one day, I will be releasing The Alpha’s Dream.

It feels surreal to even type that. It isn’t that I haven’t published before, but a pen name is very different from my actual name. ThE anonymity that comes from a pen name created some separation. My actual name doesn’t. It feels like I have a lot of proving to do.

So many things are going through my head when I look at the pages in front of me. The long nights I spent croctched over my keyboard, the endless doubts of whether it’s good, and all the time I’ve missed wiht my little loves in order to write come down to this.

In theory, the journey is the point. Writing is my passion. The Alpha’s Dream could flop and I would still wake up with stories to tell. However, I still want my passion to pay the bills. There is still so much to do. I have to finalize my second draft and get it to my editor. Hopefully, she’ll return it with few edits, because it is mostly perfect. 😍 More than likely, I’ll be down to the wire getting it ready for release date. I do ;t mind. I worked hard for my clients, and I can work hard for me.

My fears aren’t that the book isn’t enjoyable. I love it, but again I am biased. I want to crawl into hte pages with my characters and walk them through the choices they are making. After all, so much of being th author is just about- ushering my characters to the ledges they need to jump from. I don;t make th e hoices about what happens to them, they  do.

The Alpha’s release is no different.

Nathaniel and Euphoria have a ton of internal doubts to work through in order to have a successful relationship. They have to be grave, to rewrite the narrative of their lives as far as relationships are concerned. It will not be easy. It won’t even be moderately difficult. It will be hard. The realizations they will come too will challenge everything they’ve believed about themselves as lovers.

In much the same way, writing The Alpha’s Dream has challenged me. Iv’e had to relinquish thoughts of inadequancies. I’ve had to unravel all the doubts, find their roots and pluck them up. I’ve had to examine my motivations for writing and what I hoped to accomplish through my work. Whatever the outcome, this is a dream manifesting and I don’t take that for granted.

Joy

#BlackRomance

As I have mentioned before, I have been in love with romances all of my life. I have vivid memories of locking myself in my parents bedrooms and reading the forbidden love novels while my parents were at work. It left its mark on me.

Now, as I embark on a career that brings me to do what those authors did for me, I find myself thinking of the multitude of voices that influence my desire to write. It took a minute, but I was able to narrow my list down to five AA romance authors who’ve consumed hours of my life with their works. My reasons for loving them individually are just as differing as their respective voices.

I wanted to share them with you, because I still love them. I still lock myself away to read their newest works. I think it important to give voice to those who’ve influenced us. I hope to learn some authors who’ve influenced you too.

In full disclosure, this list is no way exhaustive or in any order. I couldn’t dare quantify what these people mean to me one over the other. Just know they still my breath, make me squirm and giggle, as well as swoon. I fall in love with their characters. I hate their villains and rush through chapters when things get too intense. I’ll never get enough of them.

 

Brenda Jackson

No one writes a series like Brenda Jackson. The Madaris’, the Westmorelands, the Grangers’ all of them are good enough to eat. I’ve hoped from one series to another then back again and I love every one. The endings are always a little rushed for me, but ultimately I still fall for them. I know my happily ever after is coming and I stand on my tip toes waiting for it from her.

Zane

If there is anyone who knows how to pour on the heat it is Zane. She made it a thing to talk openly about our sexual desires and I was loving it. HEr characters were true to themselves. Even when they were looking for approval, they knew their own identities. I love it. I love it. I love it. As long as she’s writing those sexy stories, I will be a happy reader.

Eric Jerome Dickey

This was the first male author who convince me he knew anything about women. I love his stories. I like how they are a combination of street colloquialisms and romance. His characters are flawed, and honest as they fumble through their love lives. His dialogue feels true to form and his endings are not always predictable. Romances a aren’t just for women and he proves that over and over again.

Francis Ray

I came late to the Francis Ray party, but I never want to leave. Her descriptive story telling paints the scene. Her characters are twisted, or incredibly flawed, but that doesn’t mean they aren’t sometimes broken. The vulnerability in her writing sends me through highs and lows that are often unpredictable. She  comes to a happily ever after, but there are always moments where I hold my breath and hope for the best. Her smooth, descriptive writing is something I hope to have in my own work. I always go back to her when I  have a weekend I want to feel with a carefully unfolding romance.

Donna Hill

I was first introduced to Donna Hill through the Black Expressions Book Club. I have loved her ever since. Her books are generally smooth reading. There might be a hiccup or an uncomfortable situation, but nothing that feels insurmountable. When all I want is a love story, I turn to Donna Hill. Her characters are genuine and heroines stand on their own. Her heroes are strong, driven, and now what they want. It rarely takes more than a couple of hours, if that to get through one of her books. Sometimes, that is all I need.

I can’t possibly imagine I ma introducing any of you to any of these authors, but if I am pick up anything they’ve written and dive in. I would love to know what you find. Who are your favorite authors? Leave a comment below.

 

Joy.