It’s been a while since I’ve run an interview. Lots of terrific things happening! But so glad we’re back and we have a wonderful author with us today. Her name is Traci M. Sanders! She is author of some wonderful parenting books! I’m super intrigued to speak with her today so, let’s get crackin’!
What made you want to be a writer?
I began writing at the early age of ten—poems and short stories, so I really can’t remember a time when I didn’t think of myself as a writer.
Tell us your book’s genre?
The books I’m sharing today are nonfiction parenting guides on two topics that most parents are concerned with—potty training and preschool readiness.
Tell us about your book and how it’s available. (Kindle, Amazon, Barnes and Nobles, paperback or hardcovers)
Both of these parenting guides are available in paperback and Kindle versions on Amazon. Paperbacks only are available on Barnes and Noble.
How important is it to read books when you want to be an author?
The way I see it, we are all students of life. Reading, in my opinion, is like studying for a big test, the big test being your published book. I feel authors learn a great deal about what to do and what not to do when they read frequently, especially books in their chosen writing genre.
I have always been told that children are sponges. After helping raise my niece, I did see she picked up everything!How many children do you have and how did you come up with this unique idea for your parenting book?
I am licensed to care for up to six children at any time, but I like to keep my numbers low to offer more individual care and instruction. So I have three in care at the moment. I teach children ages one to four, to prepare them for preschool and Kindergarten. Every time I get a new child in and learn his/her individual learning curve, I am amazed at how quickly young children can learn and retain knowledge. I’ve referred to my kids in care as Little Sponges for as long as I can remember. So when I decided to share my teaching methods in my curriculum guide, there was no better suitable title for it.
Share with your readers, what’s the worst thing your children have spoken that they’ve accidentally sponged off of you?
Oh, I’m bad at saying the word “crap”, which I honestly don’t think is such a big deal, but to hear them say it sounds terrible to me. So I try to use words like “aww phooey” and silly food names like “aww crackers”. They seem to do well with that.
Is there a message you’d like to send through your book to parents or single parents?
The message I’d like to convey to parents and caregivers of young children everywhere is, “Stop doing things FOR your children and start doing things WITH them.” They are smart little critters. Give them a chance to show you what they can do without rushing to their rescue to suit your own schedule and personality. It’s our job as adults to teach them how to do it, not to do it for them.
How important is it for a child to learn colors shapes and numbers?
Some pediatricians and parents disagree with me when I say this but I feel that all children should know all of their basic concepts—letters, colors, shapes, and numbers before entering Kindergarten, and even Pre-K if possible. The reason for this is to keep up with current technology. School-aged kids are learning in first and second grade what I learned in fifth and sixth. Three and four-year old kids are better equipped at using a smart phone than most adults. Kids are capable of much more than earlier generations were!
What is one of the best projects you’ve used for your child to learn either colors, shapes and numbers?
One of my favorite games I teach the kids is called the “Train Game”. I teach using all hands-on methods, no ditto sheets. But the cool thing about this game is it allows them to be active, loud, and still learn anything I want to teach them. Any concept can be focused on.
The game: I’m the conductor and I pass out tickets – color cards for colors, or single-colored cards for letters, shapes, or numbers.
Then I say, “If you’re gonna ride my train and you’re gonna play my game I need a “_” ticket please.” The kids then have to search through the tickets they are holding to find the one that matches mine. Once they put it in my ticket bucket, we continue to another station – of course using all the fun sounds and motions to the tune “All Aboard the Choo-Choo Train” from Disney.
The kids LOVE this game and learn so quickly when we do it.
How many days does it typically take a child to potty-train if faithfully teaching?
Okay, I have, to date, successfully potty trained about sixty kids. With that said, it’s NOT easy like some of the sing-songy books make parents think. (i.e. Train your kid in 3 days with my system). It’s frustrating, it’s messy, and it’s NOT FUN, no matter what anyone tries to tell you. But … it’s a necessary part of life.
Some parents worry that their kids will be “traumatized” if they start potty training before the child is ready. What they really mean is, “I don’t want to do what it takes (time wise and effort wise) to potty train my kid right now. I want an easy fix. I don’t want to deal with the tantrums or mess.” I’ve learned this over the years.
There is no certain time frame in which a child will be potty trained. And let me clarify that a “potty trained” kid is not one who goes to the potty every time the parent takes him. It’s a kid who recognizes the signs and GETS HIMSELF to the potty, with or without an adult.
But if the parents follow my steps at home and work with me, I can get a child (who is physically ready – usually around age 2) to start recognizing the signs and going on his/her own by a week into the process, sometimes three days. The youngest I’ve trained was fourteen months and the oldest was three.
It’s also important to remember that children’s personalities play a huge role in the process. If your child is stubborn about other things – eating dinner, brushing teeth, sitting in a car seat; chances are, he will be just as defiant about potty training. So there will be times when he will be dry and going to the potty all day and then other days where he will NOT want to stop playing long enough to go to the potty. It’s just part of the process, and life.
What is one of the best techniques or games to help encourage a child to use the big potty?
Once I see the readiness signs in a child, there are four things that speed the process and offer the most success:
1. Go to underwear only during the day, even if you put the Pull-up or diaper over it. The child needs to feel the wetness.
2. Develop a reward system that works for your child and stick to it until the child starts coming to tell you he/she has to go. Then gradually start weaning the child off the treat. Stickers or toys are better than food treats. It’s truly better to use praise as a reward instead of material things.
3. Sit with the child. Don’t leave him/her on the potty alone until you know he/she is confident and capable of getting on and off unassisted. Plus, it’s a great bonding time. Read books together, practice basic academic concepts, or watch videos together—preferably potty training videos.
4. Give plenty of fluids during the day, praise (but don’t over-praise) the child for success, and keep at the system. Don’t go back to diapers or Pull-ups just because it’s convenient for you. Make sure everyone who is involved with the process is using the same methods and terminology.
What encouragement can you give for the discouraged parent or child caregiver?
The system works. Relax and keep at the steps in the book and you WILL train your child. But make sure your child doesn’t train you – by putting you in charge of the potty visits. Allow your child to wet or soil his pants so he knows it’s not acceptable. You can’t learn right unless you learn wrong.
Which part of the publishing process do you detest most?
I detest marketing. I’m great at promoting other authors but not very good at promoting my own work. Plus, it’s very time consuming. I love interacting with my readers but I hate having to research to find them
Tell us how the atmosphere needs to be for you to be able to write. Example, music on or quiet etc.
I have to have solitude and quiet. Door shut. No interruptions.
What is one goody you must have at your desk when you’re writing?
I have to have my laptop, of course, because I prefer typing to writing. But I also like to have my phone and a great pen and paper handy.
What is the worst thing you’ve had to overcome before publishing your novel? IF it’s too personal just make a generalized statement if you can.
The worst thing I had to overcome in publishing was learning that I couldn’t edit my own books. Sure, I could do the pre-editing, but seeing how much I missed once a professional editor got hold of it, I was embarrassed. I’m great at editing others’ work, but I’m too close to my own work to be the final set of eyes on it.
When you need some extra encouragement who do you turn to?
Thankfully, I have amazingly talented mentors and author friends who are always there to offer an extra set of eyes or ears on my writing, or steer me in the right direction. And most thankfully, they are honest with me.
How do you market your book? If it’s a marketing service, please give the name.
I spend a great deal of time promoting other authors, to the detriment of my own books’ sales. But that’s also how I find new readers and friends.
Have readers ever contacted you? If so, tell us the best thing they’ve said to you.
Yes, one of my favorite reviews ever for one of my romance novels was when a guy emailed me (and disclosed in his review) that my book was “Chick-lit for men”. I just loved that! But I’m a twisted writers, as in, I love to evoke strong emotions in my readers, whether through novels, poetry, songs, or blog posts.
Who do you trust to read your finished books before publication?
Two of my sisters are my beta readers, and then two of my good friends are Alpha readers. Then I send it to my editor.
Tell us all about your very first book signing. Take us there with your description of people, place, food, décor etc.
My first book signing was okay in sales. It was at a child care provider conference and I was featuring my children’s book Just Like Home: Adventures in Family Child Care. I think I sold about 30 copies, of course because it was a target-rich environment.
But my first adult book signing was horrible. I was unprepared in marketing, chose a little-known local venue, and didn’t sell a single book.
What do you enjoy when you’re not writing?
I enjoy yoga, camping with my kids and hubby, and singing.
Tell your readers what your favorite food and color is. Let them in to just who Traci is.
My favorite food is pretty much any type of rice or pasta – I’m a carb-o-holic – and I love seafood. My favorite color is purple. I love butterflies and turtles, and I own a pet turtle named Shelby.
Tell us your favorite novel?
One of my favorite traditionally published novels is Wuthering Heights but as far as Indie novels go, I have so many. But one that I’ll never forget is RUSH by Emma Scott. Her words break my heart and then piece me back together all in one sitting.
Now a fun game I’ll ask what your preference. Let your readers know what you love.
Hot bath or a hot shower? shower
How long does it take you to take down your Christmas tree? Month, weeks?
A few days
What is your favorite candy you like to eat during Halloween time?
Mr. Goodbar and Twix
Do you open a Christmas gift on Christmas Eve?
My family has the tradition of opening all gifts on Christmas Eve, but my hubby and kids open ours on Christmas Day.
Disney movies or Romance movies?
Romance – I’m a Lifetime Movie Network addict
Nap time or a long walk?
Long walk. What’s a nap?
Kindle or paperback/hardcover novels?
Funniest story when you brought your first child home?
Not really funny but my oldest son slept almost eight hours the first night we brought him home. I was the one up every two hours making sure he was breathing. LOL. He was snoozing away. And he STILL loves to sleep.
Diapers or cloth diapers?
Diapers! I did cloth diapers ONE time and never will again.
Turkey or ham?
Thanksgiving or Christmas?
Are there any mistakes you have made during the publishing process?
With my first book, too many to name. But it’s all been a learning process and each one got better.
What kind of advice can you give to other either aspiring authors or authors?
Get a professional editor, even if you are one. Even the celebrities have more than one editor. Some have six, and I’ve found errors in their books.
Don’t give up and don’t compare your success to others. We all follow our own paths.
When in doubt, who do you trust to help you out?
Honestly, my husband. He is my biggest fan, even though he’s never read one of my books. Any song or poem I’ve ever written brings him to tears. He truly absorbs my writing and supports me no matter how much (or how little) money I make because he knows it’s my passion. And he always convinces me to trust my heart.
When is the release of your next novel? Name genre or if it’s part of a series. If your book is part of a series tell the readers about the others that are out for sale.
I actually have two things in the works. The first is the companion children’s picture book to my potty training guide. I’m excited about that. So the child and parent can learn more about the process together.
I’ve also begun writing my first middle-grade fiction chapter book. My 11-year-old daughter helped me outline it and she’s involved in the process, so that’s pretty cool.
Where can we find your author page of your work to follow you and purchase your awesome books?
My Amazon page is:
And if you want to learn more about all of my writing tips, you can follow my daily segment here:
Thanks so much for inviting me to your blog and sharing my work with your followers.
Any time Traci! We loved having you here. The stories are wonderful! I think these novels will really help out the parent.
Gang, this has been another author spotlight interview. Stay tuned for more!!