Reading with my girls #kids

Pillows
I love reading books with my girls. We have done it since the day they were born. No matter how hard the day has been we all lie on a couch and read a few books. We are often joined by Obi and Stitch too. Our boys love to hear stories.

It’s funny to sit back and see how story time has changed of over the last six years. Let’s see how good my memory is:
1. I just randomly picked picture books and read (three a night)
2. Then I started to read one they knew well (initially it was the rhythm or a picture), one they had heard before and a new one.
3. They started to pick one and I chose the other two – did result in reading Dinosaur Rumpus a lot!!!!!
4. They picked one each and I picked the third.
5. They picked two each – I had no say.
6. Then my big kid started to read one and pick one, the little one still picked two.
7. Then of course they each decided to read one and pick one.
8. Now the big kid reads a few pages from her chapter book, the little one reads a reader, they each pick one and I read from the chapter book I have chosen.
9. They have a pile of chapter books for me to get through.
10. They have somehow managed to scramble in a final story time each in bed before going to sleep – this means they get their own chapter book read.

Love that they steal extra story time. We also have school readers to read, so there is lots of reading in our house and none of it is forced. They love story time! What I have enjoyed is choosing some of my favourites from my past, which now extends to chapter books. I have just finished reading The BFG – I love Roald Dahl. The girls enjoyed that one. So the other night I started Alice in Wonderland. We got up to the point where Alice meets the talking caterpillar. My little one pipes up “If a caterpillar spoke to me I’d listen!” “Why?” I ask as I have spent the day repeating myself because they don’t listen to me. The response “Cause it would have to be saying something really important!” Mmmmmm so either I have nothing important to say or I need to find a talking caterpillar!!!!

Still that’s why they are kids. Would love to hear some story time tales…until next time – have fun!

Happy Easter!!!

Easter Stitch
Easter Stitch

Stitch just wanted to say Happy Easter to everyone!!! Taking a short break to organise myself. Lots of interviews and reviews coming your way on my Stitch Says blog!!! need to get myself sorted first and of course do lots of cool reading! Will keep you all posted. Also more ideas coming for this blog and of course soon the launch of my new book. So watch this space, until then – have fun!

Talking to Myself #beingmum

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This picture reflects exactly how I feel right about now – this random hot weather is not helping at all!

Okay so I’m a mum with two highly active girls. I also work in schools with at risk youth and Labrador Retrievers. I sometimes think I spend most of every day talking to myself. It’s the first sign of insanity – apparently. Then I get to my hobby. I’m and author. So that means I spend any spare time talking to myself. That’s how I write. Mostly this talking occurs in my head. Unlike the other talking. Also when I write and talk in my head I actually get answers. So maybe it’s not really talking to myself. It’s more like having a conversation. At the start of a book that’s what happens anyway. I ask questions and I answer them. My characters and settings slowly come to life and then I write. I have been told that answering yourself is indeed the second sign of insanity. Not really sure if I’ve heard of a third. Probably people start to back away by then. Still I’m sure I’m not alone.

So how do I deal with this onset of insanity and all the never heard words? Well that’s pretty simple. I write. When I haven’t got time or the ideas are not coming then I blog. So this is it…. the results of my insanity. Amazingly I think most of my blogs make some sort of sense. So maybe I’m not completely insane. Or I am, but I really don’t care!

I have spent the day looking for new books to review and hopefully to find some authors to review my books. I have more social media stuff to get my head around later, but needed a break. I tell you if talking to myself is not a sign of insanity I honestly think social media is!!!! Well at least until you get your head around it. Which at the moment I am not – with the new stuff anyway. The problem with technology is that it listens to exactly what you say…. Not something I am used too. Most of my words go completely ignored, or have at the very least to be repeated three times. So when I try to do something on the computer I naturally allow for this type of feedback. Of course that doesn’t happen, the machine goes off and did exactly what I told it, which was completely wrong. Then you have to try to fix it!!!! Maybe it’s best my kids don’t listen… Better get my head back in the game. I do have one question for any tech savvy authors out there though:
If you have a personal Amazon account, which you have your eReader hooked too, can you join that to your author account, so that all the books can be downloaded on the same device???? Any help would be fantastic. Until next time – have fun!

Organised Chaos #amwriting

My next character - Stitch!
My next character – Stitch!

I can happily report my footy team won, against all odds on friday night! So proud of the Bombers boys, they put on a fantastic performance. I even enjoyed watching the replay on sunday!!!!

Okay enough football, it’s a long season. Don’t want to get too excited.

I am usually pretty proud of the way I manage to get things done in my life of organised chaos. However at the moment I think there is much more chaos than organisation. Fortunately I have tomorrow off, so it’s going to be a day of sorting. This means my writing, marketing, blogging as well as looking at the house. I think we’ve worked out how to fix the kids rooms, so that will be happening soon. Thank goodness, because it’s hard to make them clean up if there is nowhere to put the stuff. Yes they probably have too many books and toys, but that’s just par for the course. It will be better once we fix things. Then it will be on to the study. This is the bomb site in our house. It is always a mess. Too much stuff, but of course as you throw out a box of rubbish another magically appears. Maybe I will have to write a book about that.

As for writing I am in the unique position of actually having completed all of my drafts at the moment. Which of course means I am editing like crazy. It’s sending me quite crazy too. I need to be writing something new. So tomorrow I will get moving on that. I think I will blog as I go, just for fun. I will also start preparing one of my unfinished drafts for a re write in November. Lots to do, plenty to keep the mind occupied. Now though I need some physical activity. Until next time – have fun!

Football fever #AFL

My next character - Stitch!
My next character – Stitch!

Footy is back tonight!!!! For all my American friends that’s Aussie rules. Which is great, my team is even on opening night. Of course according to all my friends here in Adelaide I go for the wrong team. Okay they are Melbourne based, but I have always and will always be a Bomber girl. I like to keep quiet when they are in town, that is unless they win!!! No not really, I’m a pretty quiet fan, I just enjoy watching a good game. So hopefully the Bombers put on a good contest tonight and kick the season off well.

Personally it’s been one of those weeks. People talking about me, but forgetting that it’s actually best if you speak to me! I hate hearing things second or third hand. I also find it had when people make assumptions. I do lots of extra things each week, that’s who I am. That doesn’t mean I am going to plan extra things. However people think you will, just because you do. If that makes sense.

I had a friend (my “little sister”) read my manuscripts this week. Which is great because she does and excellent job editing and is always honest about what is working and what is not. So I will have some fantastic feedback going into next week. I am also selling my books at a fair this weekend, so will let you know how I go. Must get on with things, cupcakes to make for the fair and a few loose ends to tie up. Until next time – have fun!

Chapter Book Challenge #chaboocha1

Chapter Book Challenge 2013 200x150

I have just completed the first draft of Obi the Super Puppy and the Quest for the Last Laugh!!!! This is my chapter book for the ChaBooCha. I am so amazed that I finished it and that I still have a week or so of March to continue working on it. Which really comes down to one thing – organisation. Definitely not my strong point, but through these challenges I am learning! I spent feb organising my book – blogging as I went. This was great, just to sit back and use my blog to think about my writing. I should do more of it! I also had a skeleton plan done. Hopefully this has eliminated some inconsistency. We’ll see as I start to edit.

This is a sequel to Obi the Super Puppy and the Mystery of the Red Mist. In this book Obi is talking to my daughter’s once again, but there are some new characters too. Stitch joins the girls as he begins his journey. We also meet Big Rigger (love that boy), Trinity, Flirt and Mack. Obi’s other friends – Max, Indy Cottie all make a reappearance as they once again fight the evil red mist. Last time the mist was attacking the Labradors by possessing their toys. This time it’s got more serious. It takes over children, making them ignore the Labs!!! Will they save the day?

It is lots of fun writing about Obi and his friends. I also get to have photos throughout the book. This is the one I am thinking about for the front cover:

S/W Ver: 96.66.76A

I am a long way from that stage, but it’s always good to look ahead. Speaking of looking ahead I am getting set up for the NaNoWriMo in November – I have and idea, one I started ages ago, but never finished. It may sound like ages away, but I don’t get much time to write, so will need to prepare. I am also contemplating doing the 12 X 12 next year. Will see what happens. For now though it’s back to the editing – until next time have fun!

Puppies Because I Can #dogs

Over the weekend out beautiful Labs ‘n Life girl – Aggie had ten puppies. All of them healthy whoppers, just like their dad Mack. There were three yellow boys, three black boys, two yellow girls and two black boys. Some of these will go on to stay in out Labs ‘n Life program and become companion dogs for children with autism. Just thought I’d share some photos!

Our Mum – Aggie!!!
aggie W3T1

Our Dad – Mack!!!
Mack

The Puppies!!!!
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Nothing better than Puppies, you can watch them for hours. They are so beautiful, especially when they get a little bit bigger and can have a few cuddles!!! I would like to thank our wonderful volunteer family who look after Aggie and of course her puppies! They do an amazing job! Also need to thank our Senior Manager Sue, who was on hand during the whole delivery and makes everything seem so easy! Well done everyone. Now comes the fun part – naming them all! Until next time – have fun!

Almost at the big 200!!! #amwriting

Ashley Howland
Just looked at my blog count. This is blog number 191, so closing in on my big 200!!!! What should it be? How should I celebrate a big number like that? Well hopefully I will be announcing the release of The Homework Goblin. Or at very least revealing the cover. That might be a bit closer, because realistically I will reach that number next week! So look forward to that, I know I will.

Just a quick one today, it’s been a crazy weekend. The girls are currently at their second birthday party. They have had swimming and the usual weekend stuff to do as well. I am about to head off to a monster sized baby shower. Which I find funny. I had my kids before most of my friends, so they weren’t really into that sort of thing when it was my turn. Mine was a small and simple affair. Yet I have since been to quite a few over the top ones. Not complaining, just and observation. I am glad we had our kids when we did. Soon I will have two at school and life will be a bit less hectic for the next few years. My two are also close enough that their sports practices are all at the same time, games generally one after the other. All of which makes life a bit more manageable.

Okay on to writing – which is why I am here. My chapter book is closing in on a finish. I am hopeful to have completed the draft of Obi the Super Puppy and the Quest for the Last Laugh by the end of the week. Which means I still have a week or so of March to do some editing! I have other editing to do as well, so that’s looking good. May actually have some more publishable books by the end of the year. I am also selling Ghostnapped and Obi the Super Puppy and the Mystery of the Red Mist at my girls’ Earth fair this weekend. Which will be lots of fun! What else??? Not really sure at the moment, my brain is in overload.

Finally Stitch Says is open once again for author interviews and reviews. Contact me at: ashley@ahowland.org to get started! Until next time – have fun!

WABC Blog no:15 Really, Already??? #winterauthorblogchallenge

My next character - Stitch!
My next character – Stitch!

What was your biggest takeaway from participating in the Winter Author Blog Challenge? What is your plan/strategy for integrating your social media platforms? What would you recommend to a new author who’s just getting started on social media?

Blog 15 already? Wow that means it’s the middle of March already… almost time to start writing reports. Thankfully I am more than half way through my chapter book as well. Report writing takes a lot of my sitting at a computer time. That is the one thing about writing. I love doing it, but I do get sick of sitting at a computer. Couldn’t work in an office.

Okay so my biggest takeaway from this challenge is that I’m not doing that badly. I have the foundations of an effective social media marketing plan. There are things I can do better, but overall I’m doing okay. My blog, face book, twitter and now Pinterest are working for me. They are all linked and set up nicely. My web page is also set up and links my social media and where my books can be purchase. I need to add my Pinterest to this, but will get the other half on to that soon.

I have said a few times I will be using the rest of the month to set up my marketing plan, I will still blog while doing that! Essentially my goals are to improve my amazon author page. I have linked this blog and my books. I have also updated the information on my books. So now I need to update the blogs for Amazon – the So You Think you Can guides and my listmanias. I will be doing this later in the month and have started setting them up. I am also going to participate more readily on goodreads. I have joined a new forum through my publisher and will be participating in that one. I am also looking to continue my Stitch Says blog for interviews and reviews. Hopefully I will fins a few more authors who will trade interviews / reviews because I would like some too.

Hopefully by the end of the month I will be launching my new book – The Homework Goblin, I am waiting for the cover, so not much more to go here. I am also hoping to have the draft of Obi the Super Puppy and the Quest for the Last Laugh completed. I am also edging another book – It’s What You Do Next That Counts. So my aim is to have that ready for editing by the middle of the year. What’s this got to do with marketing? Many authors have told me the best way to sell books is to have another one published. So I am working on it!!!!

Advice for authors just getting started on social media: find the avenues that suit you. Just because it works for someone else doesn’t mean it is right for you. Spend the time setting each one up individually then linking them together for ease. Connect with other authors through groups, forums and challenges. Participate as heavily as you can and enjoy every second of it! That’s the key. I have loved reading people’s comments on these posts and reading other posts. It’s a great way to learn and just o enjoy celebrating writing. I think that is about it for now. Will blog again soon, but signing off for the challenge in the only way I know how; with the help of my two favourite characters – Obi and Stitch!

Obi waves goodbye, Little Man Stitch watching his big pal!
Obi waves goodbye, Little Man Stitch watching his big pal!

Until next time – have fun!

WABC Blog no.14: My social media #winterauthorblogchallenge

If you could create a social media platform that doesn’t exist yet, what would it look like? What would it do? How would you use it to promote your books as well as those of other authors you know/like?

Okay this is simple it would look like this:

red-button

What would it do?
Okay it can’t be that simple. You would have to spend a few seconds to set it up…. Type in your author name and the title of the book that you wish to market. Then press launch!!!

My site would instantly collate all references to you and your book into one area. Here people could instantly get any information about you or your book and of course buy it!!! Still better yet this amazing site your send out my Launchador… (sorry been inventing words in my Chapter Book, this one fits my theme of course).

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My Launchador would somehow manage to post this site to everyone in the world who would buy your book!!!! That way sales would go through the roof and all at the press of a button, thanks to our faithful friend!!!

What would it cost? It would be free to all authors. Why? simply because the world is a better place if we read! How does that sound? who is going to join me? Hahahahaha I barely manage to link my other social media, so no idea if this is even possible. Pretty sure it’s not, but the world is an amazing place.

My Launchador and his friends are sooking because they are still outside, so until tomorrow – have fun!