Finding Inspiration all around you

Finding time to write sometimes means finding time to be inspired. And this couldn’t be more true than the end of May, which is the month in school that is CRAZY. Last posters and presentations, last art projects, music performances, end of the year parties and what’s next? Four days left of solitude before the madness really begins…meaning my three kids will be out of school for the summer. So, this week, I decided to have a day to myself while I still could. Forget about this intensive writing class I’m taking, forget about homework, forget about cleaning the house, running errands, grocery shopping, laundry, and all the other mindless, mind numbing things I usually do. I put the car in drive and pointed it north. San Francisco. A beautiful, sunny clear day. As I crested 19th Ave, the arches of the Golden Gate Bridge came into view and then I descended into the green space of the Presidio. Parking was not a problem, for once! There’s a garage directly under the De Young museum. Couldn’t have been easier. The exhibit was pretty amazing. So many fabulous dresses. I think these designs were fabulous, because, Oscar de la Renta was extremely talented. Although his designs were truly inspiring, the women who came for the exhibit were also inspiring. They were dressed in their finest and fashionable attire. Lots of jewelry and stunning shoes. It was Fashion Heaven.

If you ever get stuck or bored, force yourself out in the world. Take in art, listen to different music, go to a concert. Inspiration abounds but you have to make the time and grab for it with both hands.

Smoky tulle dress, Oscar de la Renta
Vibrant Pink dress with embroidered flowers, Oscar de la Renta

Mother’s Day – a realistic viewpoint


If you peel back the shiny veneer of the commercial images of what Mother’s Day looks like, you’ll get a glimpse at what it’s actually like.

And it’s not pretty.

Go to Facebook on Mother’s Day and you’ll see lovely posed photos of friends with their kids all smiling and happy.

But did you know that a couple of minutes before and after that shot was taken, the kids were fighting, hitting, kicking and spitting at one another? (No? Okay, maybe it’s just my kids).

This year I read posts by other mothers who said all they wanted was a day off. They wanted to have an uninterrupted shower, they wanted to dress up nice and wear heels and makeup. They wanted to go to brunch with their friends sans cranky husbands and kids. They wanted a day off from changing dirty diapers, tantrums, and all that goes hand in hand with babies and toddlers.

This made me laugh because those baby and toddler days are well behind me now but I remember them well. And back then, it was hard to laugh but with the passage of time, it’s comical.

My mother’s day did not involve a photo because truly, my kids couldn’t behave. All three of them must have woken up on the wrong side of the bed. Their bickering and crying started in by 10:08am.

They tried, I think to be on their best behavior, but that expended energy went poof and the rest of the day was downhill.

10:08 – yes, I looked at the clock and was amazed. Maybe I should count myself lucky that I got that much time of goodness.

My husband did his best. He put the dishes away and made the kids breakfast first and they all brought me presents in bed (handmade cards from our printer paper that looked took about 2 seconds to make)

I’m not bitter or mean. I just want them to show they actually care.

At the end of the day, exhausted by their emotional turmoil and escalation of bad behavior, I’ve asked for a redo.

I want my brunch at a nice restaurant with happy kids.

And ladies – any time you want to get out of the house without your kids and have a lovely time, let me know. I’m all in.

Helping your kids be better writers


I don’t know about you, but I have to sit on my hands and keep my mouth shut when it comes to reviewing my kids’ writing assignments for school. After all, I am not their teacher and they are still learning.

My kids all attend the same school, which has implemented a writing program called Lucy Calkins. The teachers begin instruction with this program in kindergarten and it goes through 5th grade.

So far, it seemed pretty straight forward until 3rd grade this year. Suddenly, the kids are required to write more than the standard 5 paragraph essay I grew up with.

There are thesis statements and hook sentences.

They must use the 5 senses, know how to indent and how to use transition sentences between paragraphs.

They must use research and know how to cite their resources.

They have to know the difference between literal and figurative language.

They have to know the author’s intent and make inferences.

They have to use proper spelling, grammar, and punctuation.

They also have to implement dialogue and dialogue tags.

There are so many rules that it can cause their imaginations to freeze up.

I feel bad for my son as he struggles to follow all of these rules and keep them straight. What happened to the days of experiencing the joy of writing freely?

They have years ahead of them to learn the rules.

I say let them explore and go where their imaginations take them. I’ve seen the flicker of excitement in my son’s eyes at the beginning of the year dimmer as each rule was instituted.

Summer vacation is about one month away now and my goal is to have all three of my children learn to love writing again.


Interview with author, Rebecca Hunter

On the blog today, we have author, Rebecca Hunter visiting. She’s a mom and a writer, known for her wonderfully sexy New Adult romance books set in Stockholm, Sweden. Welcome, Rebecca! 


How long have you been a writer?

Should I count the book I constructed in first grade, using cardboard for covers? Or my short story in 12th grade that made my creative writing teacher laugh aloud? Or maybe the starting point was when my first poem was published in my early 20’s? If you count these steps, then I guess I’ve been a writer for most of my life…though not always a very skilled one. Actually, I’ve spent most of my life thinking I wasn’t “good enough.”

Then, a few years ago, I decided to give myself the best birthday present I could think of: I’d write a novel, even if it wasn’t very good (it wasn’t!). But that’s the point that I’d say I became a writer: When I decided I’d dedicate myself to writing, regardless of the end result.

Do your kids know you’re an author? What do they think of that? Are they proud? Do they tell their friends?

Yes, my kids know I write romance, and they think it’s fun that I write books…except when I’m writing instead of paying attention to them!! When I asked if they tell their friends, both kids gave me a strange look, and my daughter said, “Mamma, we don’t talk about that kind of thing.”

How do you manage the demands of raising kids and finding the time to write?

Not always successfully! The weekends are the hardest. When the kids are in school, I set my own schedule, so I block out time to write. I also work as an academic editor and translator, so sometimes I have more time than others, depending on the projects. But it’s hopeless to try to write after the kids come home from school. If I’ve had a really busy day, I sometimes complete my word count at night, but I try to avoid that.

Do you have a set amount of words you try to write every day?

I have a minimum number of words that I write every day, no matter what. This really helps me with procrastination. The number isn’t very high (500) – in other words, it’s manageable, no matter how tired I am or what else is going on.

Do you write on weekends or do you keep that time for being with your kids?

I do work on the weekends, but since my word count is low, I usually can get it done early in the morning before things begin to move in the house. This goes for summer vacations too. The biggest challenge is to keep myself from checking email or social media when I’m pressed for time. In fact, I’m thinking of implementing a “no Internet during writing period” policy! This is more of a problem now that I’m making more of an effort to be e-social.

How do you manage meeting deadlines when you also have kids demanding your attention?

This is where things get tricky as a parent. Sometimes it means that I’m up late and a lot frazzled, and sometimes I just don’t get everything done.

The deadline for my most recent book ran right into an unexpectedly busy time at home, which meant that the writing came second. Then busy turned into an emergency (all is well now). I actually ended up turning in a book that needed one more proofread, but thankfully, I had a chance to resubmit before the first copies went out!

Your books have very explicit sex scenes. At what age will you allow your children to read them if they ask?

I’d say that my books are rated R, so I imagine we’ll approach the books in the same way we’d approach rated R movies! My books are about consensual relationships where women and men both play equal roles in negotiations, so I’m not particularly worried about the content as negative per se…but they’re certainly not kid appropriate. Personally, I’m a lot more sensitive to violence and aggression, animated or real, than I am to sex, so I’m more worried about my kids watching movies or playing video games that focus on violence than I am about them reading consensual sex scenes.

Do you have any advice for other moms who write?

It’s not really advice, just my view of the role writing books play in my life. Raising kids is an unending project full of both joy and heartache, and so much of the path is out of a mother’s control. Kids are their own people, of course! However, as writers, we have the ability to shape characters and stories the way we want to and we can use this power to explore the ideas that interest us that we struggle with.

Before I started writing regularly, I spent a lot of time worrying about our kids. There’s a degree of worry that’s helpful, but after a certain point, I found myself worried about all sorts of things…some more realistic than others! Here’s where I found that writing could play a very positive role in my life.

Though aspects of romances are idealized, these books are fundamentally about the interpersonal negotiations between two imperfect people in a relationship. Shaping these fictional characters and following them in their struggles helps me accept the messiness and imperfectiorocess of lewn interactions with my family. My characters try hard to overcome their hang-ups, but they are interesting and ultimately, happy because of the process of learning to be closer to someone, not in spite of it! And this goes for marriage interactions, too – we learn to accept our partner’s struggles as well as our own, and ultimately, we are closer because of it. Writing flawed characters is emotionally fulfilling in part because it helps me work through this idea both as a writer and as a person.

Prof Photo 3 (Smaller) (807x1024)


Rebecca has, over the years, called many places home, including Michigan, where she grew up, New York, San Francisco, and of course, Stockholm, Sweden. After their most recent move from Sweden back to the San Francisco Bay Area, she and her husband assured each other they’ll never move again. Well, probably not.


Here’s where you can buy Stockholm Diaries, Caroline – the first book in the series:

Protect your writing time


Something another writer told me at was how important it is to protect your writing time. There’s only 24 hours in each day and sometimes it feels like there’s never enough time to get everything done. What people don’t know is that when we’re writing, we’re actually “working.” I think my husband finally gets it. Yesterday, he asked if I wanted him to go to the store to pick up some things for dinner so that I could keep working. Before that, he gave me the impression he thought I was wasting my time since I don’t get a paycheck for the amount of words I accomplish on any given day.

When I’m not physically writing, I’m still working things out. I might look like I’m outside walking my dog, but in reality my brain is also puzzling out issues for my characters to resolve. I might look like I’m lying on the couch resting but I’m also plotting in my head. I might be in Zumba class but I’m also thinking about the ending to my novel or some problem I’m having with a specific scene or chapter. All the time, as writers, we’re working.

If I’m writing, it means I have to say no to extra requests to volunteer at my kids’ school. Or I need to ask my children to be quieter so I can focus. For me, writing is something I do everyday. I cherish and look forward to it and I protect this precious time as my own.

Learning a valuable lesson



My daughter, aged 6, entered a writing contest recently for a poem she wrote and won. It will be published in a book this summer. An editor (and founder of the company) came to our house last week to meet with her and talk about the poem and discuss ideas on changing the ending. I sat there for moral support but had to keep my mouth shut because this was a moment between the two of them and this was a piece of writing that wasn’t my own.

Later, after the editor left, my daughter said that she didn’t want to change the ending because she liked it just the way she wrote it. The editor also had suggestions for an extra line break but again, my daughter read her poem out loud to me and said she didn’t like the extra break.

The next day though, after having had time to let the advice sink in, she played around with her words and line breaks and added her own spin to it. Honestly, the original was great. The new one was also fine. Was is improved? I’m not entirely sure.

Sometimes, a writer has to know when to stick to their convictions and stand behind their writing. It was a good lesson for both of us. My daughter, who is painfully shy, learned to speak for herself and I let her decide what she wanted to do.This was important for her own self esteem.

It also showed me that when someone gives you advice on something you’ve written, you should take time to let it sink in before plowing ahead with the changes. Sometimes, taking it in a different direction might be  better. Other times, the original is best.

Food for thought


It seems that every writer has his/her favorite foods that sustain them. For me, it’s either tea or coffee. In the summer, I turn to iced tea and iced coffee. The other thing?

Chocolate. Chocolate. Chocolate.

What sustains you?






Finding time to write isn’t always so easy



Finding time to write isn’t always so easy. Take for example, today. It’s Tuesday and my kids get out of school early.

After walking the dog, doing dishes and laundry, running a few errands this morning, there isn’t much time to write before they come tearing through the house asking for a snack or help with their homework.

Then there’s after school activities and dinner to be made.

Today, also is that start of swim team season when all three of my kids start going to practice every afternoon.

I want to be one of those moms that sit around to watch their kids swim and socialize with other parents but I also want to sit under the shade and write.

It’s hard to balance all of this. So what am I to do? I suppose it’s another one of those days that means writing at night when the kids are finally in bed.

I’ll skip television for the sake of getting more of my current novel’s first draft done. Every writer no matter if they’re a parent of not has to figure out when they can get fit their writing in and it’s always a matter of sacrifice. When my husband asks tonight if I’m working, the answer will be a resounding yes.



                                                           Picture used from Google Images