Monday, July 9, 2012


Summertime living is not so easy when you’re a stay-at-home writer mom. You’re
caught between a rock (writing) and a hard place (children). At the moment, I’m writing
this post with two children sitting on a couch in front of my desk. One daughter watches
a My Little Pony video whose characters, God Bless ‘em, love to scream in high-pitched
voices throughout the entire story. Daughter number two is playing Webkinz, which
requires a play-by-play announcement of how her creature is feeling/eating/wearing
every three minutes. And lengthy descriptions of the prizes she wins. Somewhere
nearby a dog also resides. I only know this because of the smell.

What’s a mom to do? At seven and nine, I can ignore them only for so long. I don’t want to look back on their childhood years as a blur of glancing over my computer screen at the back of their heads (which is what I’m doing right now). I also have the attention span of an adult flea. I find myself wondering if Pinky Pie Pony is going to escape the

clutches of whatever thing is making that God Awful Sound instead of wondering how my character Cherry Tucker is going to escape the God Awful Mess she’s gotten herself into.

I know there’s many of us out there. Counting down the day until school restarts and then handing ourselves a whopping pile of guilt for entertaining the thought of wanting time and space from our little darlings. They don’t care about our deadlines. They want our attention right now.

Now some of you scoff. I know what you’re going to say. I grew up in the seventies when kids were kicked out of the house by eight a.m. and we didn’t see our mothers until dinnertime. If we were lucky, she’d throw a cookie out the door somewhere around three o’clock. Where I lived there was no community pool. No community nothing. I’m
from a farming village. I had a bike, a sister, and a yard. My kids experienced this
freedom when we lived overseas (and I started writing again). I gave them a watch and
sent them on their merry way with orders to be back at dinnertime. They went to the
local park with the neighborhood kids.

Those days are long gone here in Suburbia, USA, where I now reside. So new ideas?

We can start with headphones to drown out the cries of Pinky Pie, but they don’t stop
the visual assault of children practicing somersaults in front of your computer while you
try to describe the perfect murder.

I joined a 5 a.m. Club through a friend when my writing day started at eight o’clock after
I waved goodbye to the children. This will work for some better than others. I am
attempting to begin writing at 5 a.m., although I generally hit the alarm until 5:30 and
actually get up somewhere closer to seven. Which gives me thirty uninterrupted
minutes. When I do get up at five, I spend a lot of time staring at the computer screen
before I remember to actually turn the computer on.

If you are able to get up early and think coherently, hop on Twitter. Lots of people are
up. Ask to do a writing sprint (like #1K1H or #amwriting) for support from fellow writers.
Nothing like a little competition to induce your muse.

Not an early riser but a good night owl? Again, hop on Twitter and ask to sprint. I also
don’t usually think coherently at night, but the few times I felt on my game I did this and

was able to crank out a good word count.

Taking time out to show them how to play one game, do one craft, how to use the vacuum... I operate on the teach a man to fish axion. However, I often forget that a few minutes of my attention can buy thirty.

The girls are participating in a few camps. Camps can be expensive and the ones they attend are only three hours at a time. The first camp I spent about thirty minutes driving and then wasted precious writing time catching up on email when I returned. Second camp, I parked myself in a nearby Starbucks and refused to sign onto the internet. Amazing how no internet produces word counts!

I can’t afford a regular babysitter. If you have wee ones, hire an upper elementary student (4th - 6th grader) to play with your kids while you’re locked in a room. That age might not handle a big emergency, but you’re within shouting distance. The fun of a “big kid” will distract your little ones from bugging you. And elementary school students will be pleased with five bucks, unlike their older siblings who want eight dollars and up an hour.

Libraries are great for kids who will enjoy perusing the shelves for new books. Some
libraries have programs with planned entertainment. You can haul your laptop with you
and spew some words while your kids play the library’s computer games and look for
new books. Mine are not so good about independent book searching, but maybe this
will work for you.

Any other ideas out there? How are you keeping your kids occupied without guilt? My
heroine, Cherry Tucker, clamors for me to finish book 2! Her first mystery, PORTRAIT
OF A DEAD GUY, releases August 28.

Larissa began her writing career in second grade when she sold her first publication to a
neighbor for a nickel. After moving around the midwest, Japan, and the south, she now
lives in Georgia with her husband, daughters, and Biscuit, a Cairn Terrier. She loves
small town characters with big attitudes. PORTRAIT OF A DEAD GUY is a 2012
Daphne du Maurier finalist, a 2012 The Emily finalist, and a 2011 Dixie Kane Memorial
winner. When she’s not writing about southern fried chicken, she writes about Asian
fried chicken at her blog about life as an ex-expat at
You can find Larissa chatting on Facebook at; on
Twitter at RisWrites; and on Goodreads. She loves pinning onto her Cherry Tucker and
other boards at Pinterest. You can also find more information on her website at

In Halo, Georgia, folks know Cherry Tucker as big in mouth, small in stature, and able to
sketch a portrait faster than buckshot rips from a ten gauge -- but commissions are
scarce. So when the well-heeled Branson family wants to memorialize their murdered
son in a coffin portrait, Cherry scrambles to win their patronage from her small town

As the clock ticks toward the deadline, Cherry faces more trouble than just a
controversial subject. Her rival wants to ruin her reputation, her ex-flame wants to
rekindle the fire, and someone’s setting her up to take the fall. Mix in her flaky family, an
illegal gambling ring, and outwitting a killer on a spree, Cherry finds herself painted into
a corner she’ll be lucky to survive.

PORTRAIT OF A DEAD GUY (Henery Press, 2012) is available for pre-order on It releases August 28 on Amazon, Barnes and Noble, and Apple iPad.
See for details.


  1. Wendy, I forgot to thank you for having me on your blog! Thanks so much for the opportunity.

  2. Great post, Larissa! I've been there. Trying to write with school age kids is a challenge. I applaud your ingenuity!

    1. Thanks Terri. I am trying. Learning a lot about My Little Ponies mostly, though.

  3. Hey Larissa! Yes, my mother sent me outside to play unless I was sick. She almost never threw me a cookie at three, but my grandmother, who lived next door, would give me candy money and I'd walk out to the store on Main Street. But times were different, and the town I lived in so small that was a safe thing to do. My kids are older, but when they were small,I sent them outside, but kept them in our yard and neighboring yards. I think your older-child idea is brilliant.

    Happy writing when you can! We need more Cherry Tucker!!


    1. Thanks Susan. We need more Liz Talbot, too! Hope that's going well for you.

      Having a grandma and a store on Main Street sounds awesome. I had cornfields and a post office. Not so much fun but probably helped my imagination to grow.

      Why can't I get these children to stay outside? I think they've been fed too much a/c at an early age.

  4. Hi Larissa!

    When I was a kid, the school district still had funds for summer school. If I wasn't in summer school, I was at the local pool for swim practice. I also got packed off to Camp Minaluta in the Sierra foothills for a couple of weeks. And I remember going to Jewish day camp with the girl next door. Otherwise, I'd spend the day with my nose in a book, watching black and white movies on t.v. or playing outside with my friends until my mom would yell my name from the porch. My mom worked full-time. I think we would have made her insane if she had to spend all day with us. Are your girls big readers? Get them hooked on a series...that would buy you a little quiet time.

    1. Hey Jen!
      You had busy summers! That must have been fun.
      They read every day but they are still too young to read more than 15-30 minutes at a time. Especially the youngest one who would literally rather pull her teeth out than read (which she did today). Hopefully next year they'll be up for more reading time! They also have to do some math every day, which they enjoy more. As a non-math person, I find that very odd. Who would choose math over a book? My kids.
      After a trip to our Asian superstore to stock on snacks, they rented a movie. And here I am, back on the computer.

  5. Hi Larissa,

    Loved your post brought back so many memories. And yes we live in different times now. How about Vacation Bible School? We live in a small town smack dab in Bible belt country. Every church has one during the summer, and they are free!

    My kids spent a lot time of their summertime attending them and it taught about the different religious views out there.

    Just a thought,
    Diane Kratz

    1. Hey Diane,
      Thanks for coming by. We did do VBS 2 weeks ago. I got a lot done, because our church is across from Starbucks! Good idea to try some other ones, though.

  6. We need writer mom neighborhoods. Then we could round up all the kids and have them spend an hour or two (as a group) at each home . . . until they've worked their way around the block and are back home in time for supper.

  7. Hey Anise,
    I agree. Maybe writer mom compounds. We could create an arena with a playground in the middle and we can sit in the stands with our computers and throw snacks at them.
    A new twist on The Hunger Games!