Category Archives: Fun Stuff

Mother’s Day Gift Ideas (esp. for mama writers!)

{photo:}Sure flowers are fragrant and beautiful. But they die. And chocolates are yummy, but are also counterproductive to almost all Mom’s trek on the healthy track. So,  why not gift that special mama writer something she’ll USE and LOVE?

Here are some suggestions I’d personally LOVE (wink, wink!)

  • Any books and /or classes by THE Writer Mama, Christina Katz. Click the link for complete details
  • Gift certificate to her favorite coffee or tea shop – THEN, pack her writing bag and set it by the door with a note that she has an afternoon (or evening) to herself and her muse…
  • Who’s her favorite author? Check out your local indie bookstores for similar titles. They may even have some autographed editions of a favorite book or collection. Personally, I have two fantastic novels on my wish list: Wintergirls, by Laurie Halse Anderson and Paint it Black , by Janet Fitch (read them both, but would like my own copies to peruse and study the craft of language and transitions)
  • A beautiful journal – but not too pretty that she’ll be afraid to write random “crap” inside. Because we all need a place to get the crap out, in order to find the gem of truth.
  • Heard of Writer’s Market? There’s a less expensive version I’m thinking of purchasing (specifically for short fiction, essays and poetry): Literary Database to find, submit and track stories, poems and more.
  • Something funky, cool or even homemade for her desk. Get creative! (think: alternates to pencil cups or bookmarks or push pins or  file organizer)
  • How about some inspiration she can put her hands on? I’m giving away my collection of motivating/inspirational quotes. All typed in a single word doc, I’ve been collecting quotes from known and unknown to blog about, write about or even ponder over. ENTER to win:
  1. Leave a comment in this post
  2. Follow and/or subscribe to this blog
  3. Tweet this post
  4. Post a link here on your blog
  5. Post on Facebook

I will randomly select 4 winners – the more entries, the better your chances! I’ll scoop up the entries and send the packet of quotes to you via email on Saturday, May 8, in time for Mothers Day!


Filed under books, contests, Fun Stuff, Give Aways

The Ick and Awe of a Nature Journal: Guest Post by The Motherhood Muse

One lucky reader will win a FULL YEAR SUBSCRIPTION to The Motherhood Muse just for leaving a comment today or tomorrow! Winner will be randomly selected! (Scroll down for info on The Motherhood Muse)

The Ick and Awe of a Nature Journal

guest post by Kimberly Zook, Editor, The Motherhood Muse

Despite taking numerous photos of insects on family vacations and collecting caterpillars for my pet turtle when I was a little girl, I did not begin ‘collecting nature’ in a nature journal until I was in college. I had plenty of diaries and journals throughout my childhood, but the idea of a nature journal had never been presented to me. But the experience of creating my first one at the age of 21 inspired me to continue making and using nature journals, because they are different from the typical writing journal.

Whether you come to Writers Inspired today as a follower of this blog, a student of Mary Jo’s, a reader of The Motherhood Muse, or a blog surfer, I hope this post will inspire you to begin a nature journal, even if being in nature isn’t one of your top favorite things to do!

{courtesy of Sierra Club}

Nature journals can take on a number of appearances and can be used in a variety of ways. My first nature journal stinks, literally. My second and third ones are hardbound, store bought. My fourth journal is stained with juices used to preserve frogs for dissecting. And my fifth nature journal is in the shape of a belly.

Like the range of smells and shapes projected from my nature journals, each journal has its own unique meaning and usefulness.

During and after college I lived in a tropical rainforest in Costa Rica. This is when I began my first nature journal, so I could record the overwhelming biodiversity that captivated me yet left me dizzy with confusion. Stepping into the rainforest is like seeing Disneyworld for the first time. To the untrained, novice eye, it is hard to know where to look, what you are looking at and where to go. In the rainforest I first tried drawing every creature I saw and writing a description about it. But I soon began seeing too many things to record it all: a dung beetle rolling a ball of dung along, a leaf cutter ant carrying a leaf down a tree, a capuchin monkey screeching at me, a flower that smelled like a dead mouse, a leaf as furry as a lamb . . . I started taping leaves and flowers into my journal. I wrote short poems to describe the activity buzzing around me. I searched the forest floor for feathers and fur to place in between the pages. It’s been several years since I created my first nature journal, and I still open it occasionally to read through it. After all it is sitting only five feet away from me, tempting with the smells and textures of the rainforest.


My next two nature journals I purchased during graduate school as it was a time in my life when I did a lot of technical writing. The two journals, however, are catered towards young writers, so I found the style and layout inspirational after spending several hours a day writing pages that consisted of words like statistical significance, alpha and beta, fitness, experimental design, and ‘in conclusion.’ The two journals, My Nature Book by Linda Kranz and My Nature Journal by Adrienne Olmstead, gave me a structured space to observe and think about nature when I didn’t always get a chance to step outdoors.

A few years later I created over 100 nature journals for my students. I was teaching biology to 9th graders and wanted to introduce them to nature through writing. We used our journals outside to record our observations of the community of organisms in the pond. We drew diagrams of our dissected frog in the journals. We painted chemicals (the safe ones) on the pages and wrote about the relationship between chemistry and nature.

{photo: Spirittibee Blog}

My latest nature journal is more of a ‘human nature’ journal as it consists of my musings during my first pregnancy. The pages grow in size for each month that my belly grew bigger. The words question and wonder about the new life that grew inside of me. I worked through my concerns and anticipations on the pages until the journal expanded into motherhood. I wrote letters to my daughter, making wishes and promises to her for her future.

Now that my two daughters, ages three (almost) and 10 months, are accompanying me on nature hikes, helping me grow flowers, watching squirrels hang upside down on tree trunks, splashing into puddles, and searching for rocks to skip, I am looking forward to starting my sixth nature journal, our first nature journal together. I wonder what shape and size and smells it will take on?

As a writer, nature journals have created entire worlds of ideas for me to write about. My writing has improved, because I’ve learned to incorporate and develop all five senses into my writing as well as elements of nature. As a woman and a mother, nature journals have deepened my connection to the environment and given me the freedom to explore the ick and awe of Mother Nature.


We’d love to hear what you have to say about nature journals on this blog here today! One person who comments will be chosen randomly to win a free subscription to the 2010 issues of The Motherhood Muse literary magazine! Please stop by our blog for the blog tour so you can continue reading more about motherhood, writing and nature.

We also hope you’ll consider entering our first writing contest by May 1st! There are two categories, both open prompt: essay and short story. Winners will receive monetary prizes, publication, free subscriptions, and more. Please click here for contest details.

The Motherhood Muse offers mothers and writers the opportunity to dig beneath the surface of spilled milk, Band-Aids, and crayon-scribbled walls to explore the depth of their nature. Children nourish our souls while words nourish our minds.

Enter the enchanting world of motherhood literature to nurture your inner writing voice. The digital magazine shares literary pieces on motherhood written by mother writers across the globe.

The Motherhood Muse is about connecting two worlds (the writer and the mother), creating one voice, and crafting words into an infinite number of worlds. We come here to reconnect with mother nature through writing to share the beauty of our world with ourselves and our children.


Filed under Advice, Creative Essays, Fun Stuff, Give Aways, Inspiration, The Motherhood Muse

Have you started yet?

“The secret of getting ahead is getting started.”

Agatha Christie

1890-1976, Novelist

C’mon, people – it’s the 7th day into the new decade. Have you started towards any of your goals for this year, yet?

OK, fine, here’s what I’m gonna do. Hold you accountable. No, I will not be calling or emailing anyone to check up on their progress. I have my own list to worry about. But, I have learned that writing it down tends to make things happen.

So, Write. It. Down.

Here:  yes, here!  Go ahead – give us the goods. Tell us in Specific, Measureable, Realistic terms what you are going to accomplish and by When. Start small, that’s cool. Even if it’s “file or toss the stacks of paper on my desk by Jan 20th.” It’s a specific task, measured by the clear desk when you’re finished, realistic, because, seriously if you have more paper than you can get through in 10+ days, then you probably don’t need it to begin with.

Wanna make it interesting? I’ll randomly select one commenter to win a prize! Yay! I love prizes!

The rules:

  • Give us your goals: these can be writing, teaching, organizing, revising or even getting healthy (we need our bodies and minds intact, afterall, if we’re going to produce anything above drivel.)
  • Write them in the comments and post it by end of day on Jan. 15
  • I’ll let do its job.
  • The winner can select 2 magazine issues from my recycling stack (magazines like Ready Made, Parents, Traditional Home and more!) More contests to come in the following weeks until all my magazines have been “regifted!”
  • You’ll help me to get rid of the stack of magazines I’ve collected (some not even read) from the past year.
  • You’ll save the planet by recycling.
  • Everyone will be happy.
  • A magical elf will grant your every wish.


Seriously: write it down. Get it in by Jan 15. If anything, your goals will be there. In black and white. For all the world to see.

(I will mail winning magazines to US residents only!)


Filed under Advice, contests, Fun Stuff, goals

Holiday Gifts for (Budget-Wise) Writers!

‘Tis the season. Well, some of us have already starting (maybe even finished) shopping. But, there is always room for more gift ideas – especially for WRITERS!

And, because I’m budget-conscious, these are listed by $ categories, The more “$$” the pricier the gift.


All the buzz…Kindle Who has one? Do you like it? I’m an old-fashioned “love the feeling of manually turning pages” kind of girl, but this device is really piquing my interest. Especially for those who read multiple books at any given time….Cuts down on the bulk if you brings books to the gym or on trips.

Bookcases: What writer has enough space for all their books? I know I could use several more bookcases. Of course we all have our own decorating and organizing style, so don’t leave this purchase to chance. Browse on your own and send Santa a link to your top choices!


Digital Dictionary: We all need to look up the proper spelling or definition from time to time, or just find that word that perches on the tip of our tongue. Everything’s going electronic – why not Websters, too?


The Writer’s Toolbox: This little kit is so much fun for projects you are beginning or stuck on. Use the sticks for First Sentence Prompts, Non Sequitur Stick to get your characters or stories moving in a new direction and the Last Straw stick to create a “dramatic arc.” There are several other tools in this toolbox to inspire creativity and get you writing until The End.


Subscription to the new ezine for mother writers: The Motherhood Muse. If you sign up for the free newsletter now, the first issue of this ezine is FREE. Learn how to reconnect with nature: both Mother Nature and Human Nature, while inspiring your inner muse to write and mother from a natural center. (check out my column: Into the Wild!)

T-shirts and other writer-wear: We can’t just thrust our manuscripts in strangers’ faces, but we can declare our literary greatness by wearing it on our sleeve (or chest, or back!)


Sketchbooks: for jotting down ideas, character sketches, or taping and stapling scraps of notes you have lying around your desk and in your wallet or purse.

Spiral Notebooks: I like the inexpensive though sturdy Mead Trapper notebooks. They come in cool colors for organizing different writing projects and hold up nicely against the perils of mothering young children.

3×5 Notecards: either ruled or non-ruled, these bad boys get me through my scattered or frenzied plot points and character descriptions. I keep them in my car, purse, notebooks and novels I’m reading – ya never know when inspiration will strike.

Bookmarks: very cool, unique ones found here.  And here. And here.

Gift cards from Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Borders or (my favorite) your local indie bookstore.

For my recc’s from 2008’s gift ideas, click here.

Have any ideas to share – please shout it out!


Filed under books, Fun Stuff, The Motherhood Muse, writers

Food for Thought…

I’ve been feeling quite overwhelmed lately, taking on too much, deadlines seeping in from every corner and that good old “working mom guilt” to top it all off.

And then this quote greeted me in my in-box today:

“You cannot be really first-rate at your work if your work is all you are.”

Anna Quindlen, Essayist and Novelist

So, my goal for today (at least) is to PLAY!  

I invite you to play as well, then we’ll talk about how much fun we had…in tomorrow’s post ; )

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Filed under Advice, Believe, emotion, Fun Stuff, Little Things, Rest, writers block, writing inspiration

Coffee is good – FREE coffee is Better!

june bug contest

I’m not the only one celebrating June!  Kimberly at Zook Book Nook is celebrating with the June Bug Contest on her blog, starting this week (deadline June 7)!

She’s giving away a $15 Starbucks gift card if you can correctly match her poetic descriptions with the many faces of her beautiful daughter, Ayla (photos and descriptions on her blog here.)


Good luck!  Here’s to drinking the caffeinated elixir of the Gods…

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Filed under contests, emotion, Fun Stuff, Give Aways, writers

April: National Poetry Month

npm_logo_2008_final  April is National Poetry Month and I believe I will challenge myself silly by trying to write a short poem a day. I cannot promise that I’ll be sharing my creations here, but maybe with enough coaxing, you can convince me.

Poetry is that form that puts fear in my heart and makes my fingers fumble on the keyboard. But, I forget that poetry was what started this passion for writing back in the 3rd grade. Sister Mary Donald was vigilant in her quest to have every 9-year-old become the next Yeats, Frost or at least Seuss.

Well, I’ve challenged my 10-yer-old son to write me a poem today while home on Spring Break and promised I’d do the same for him. Hmm?  Anyone have a meter they can spare?

If you’re up for the challenge:

More details can be found at

The Poem-A-Day Challenge. April 1st through 30th at Poetic Asides.

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Filed under Believe, contests, Fun Stuff, goals, procrastination, writers

Read an ebook Week is coming!

Who doesn’t love FREE books?!  Read an ebook week is coming… and ebook publisher, Champagne Books, have partnered to give away 2 FREE ebooks during the week of March 08-14.

Click here for more info on how you can be reading “e’s” for free!


Filed under books, Fun Stuff, Give Aways

And the winner is….

Michelle!  Thank you everyone for stopping by on Friday to read and comment on Jan Lundy’s inspiring interview.


Michelle, please email your snail mail to me and I will ship out the winning book:  Your Truest Self: Embracing the Woman You Are Meant to Be


Be sure to check back on Wednesday, February 4, for the interview of Ruth Hartman and a chance to win her ebook: My Life in Chains

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Filed under Author Interviews, books, contests, Fun Stuff, Give Aways, Perseverance, writers

“In order to write about life, first you must live it!” ~ Ernest Hemingway


A few blog posts ago, I shared a list of my crazy goals.  Though I am not currently in the position to take off on a zip-line through the Central American jungles, I will vow to do something a bit crazy this week.

OK, crazy to me may not be crazy to someone else.  Then again, my idea of crazy is probably considered borderline illegal to my mom, for instance. So, I will instead vow to do something I have never done before – by this time next week.

Because, if we don’t go out and experience new things, how can we fill our well of ideas?

Anyone else up for a fun game of “living?”

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Filed under Believe, Creative Essays, Deadlines, Fun Stuff, Inspiration, Rest, writers block, writing inspiration, Writing prompts