1) Use good yeast (I was using an old jar of yeast and when I got a new one, life was beautiful again) and refrigerate it after opening. I'm not familiar with using "packages" of yeast.
2) I preheat the oven on the lowest temp (around 130 deg) and then turn off the oven. This is where I set my dough to rise so that there is no ventilation and it's warm. So, when my dough is done mixing, I spray or grease a bowl for it to rise in and then cover it with a Silpat (or saran wrap - sprayed) and set it in the oven. My dough rises beautifully - it did not do this previously when I had it on the counter.
3) When adding water mixtures, make sure it's not too hot - you can "kill" the yeast if it's too hot. The Honey Oatmeal Bread recipe from Shelley says to make sure the mixture is between 120 and 130 deg. Use a candy thermometer to know for sure.
4) Remember that when kneading dough (before you set it to rise), it needs to scrape the sides of the bowl clean; you really cannot over-knead bread dough; the more kneading the better (I've been told). If it's too sticky, keep adding flour until it forms a good ball and scrapes the sides clean.
5) Don't give up! You will find a recipe that works for you and your family and you will perfect it and love it!! I promise!! There's nothing like fresh bread from your own kitchen . . .