and I made sparkly tiaras together. We blew up a giant Pegasus and floated it
in the pool. There was music – lyrical classical soul-stirring music – and party
tunes, too. I set Goddess oracle cards and poetry books inside my giant purple
tie-dyed tent. My table was groaning under the weight of platters of delicious
Greek food – spanakopita and baklava and hummus and tabouleh and dolmades –
yum! There was laughter, and impromptu dancing. Old friendships were
celebrated, and new friendships were ignited.
celebrate INSPIRED, a novel I launched yesterday!
answer is this: I had a dream about a girl named Rocket who takes a job with
Muses…and I remembered that dream when I woke up.
requires tweaking the question a bit, to “what inspired you to KEEP writing
this book?” Because this
book took a very, very long time to
finish. That dream came to me in 1994, when I was living in Boston, newly
married, working in teaching and public relations and trying to keep alive my
dream of being a professional writer. I first wrote Inspired as a movie for a screenwriting contest, which I didn’t
win. I stuck it in a drawer, but the
idea kept dancing at the back of my imagination. I revised the screenplay a million times. Gave
up on it. Decided it would be better as a novel, and wrote a new first draft. I
wrote many, many more drafts.
children. I worked. I wived. I volunteered. I wrote a lot of other things:
school newsletters, more screenplays, short stories, journals, grant proposals,
lesson plans, marketing copy, rhyming invitations for my kids ‘s birthday
grieving, and I became very, very stuck in a dark, sad place.
into my life, when I needed them most, and reminded me how much I love to
dance. To sculpt. To paint. To walk along the beach, crying, and write a poem
about it. I started breathing more
deeply and seeing the world as wonder-full once again. And EVERYTHING began to
inspire me and find its way into my book (even the hard, sad, lonely stuff like
losing someone I loved and feeling lost and unwanted began to inspire my art
kept healing. Soon after that, an artist-mom-friend and I created and indie
published a children’s picture book about love called Sun Kisses, Moon Hugs to
give to children who were grieving (like mine). A famous actor saw that book
and invited us to collaborate on another picture book to help kids coping with
trauma. That second book, The Rhino Who Swallowed a Storm, was
sent ON AN ACTUAL ROCKET to the International Space Station and read
aloud by Astronaut Kate Rubins … And the main character of my novel is NAMED
ROCKET! (it doesn’t get much more magical than that, right? Crazy
synchronicity!). Courtenay and I published a third picture book called The
Big Adventures of Tiny House, and soon we were jetting around the
country speaking at tiny house festivals and schools and libraries.
that I was surrounded by people who loved and cared about me, and I began to
trust my voice, and I realized I was ready to launch my Rocket! I have an amazing dancing friend Kara, who also happens
to be a book editor, so I hired her to be my book “doula” and help me
finally, finally edited and proofread and birthed into the world….where,
hopefully, it will inspire other girls to trust their voices and create more magic in the world.
there is always something to
your favorite people…write a love song or a tragic opera…paint or sculpt or
invent a gizmo or learn an instrument or travel somewhere cool or explore a
museum or hug a redwood tree or cook up an exotic dish….The possibilities are
infinite! Shoot for the moon – you might land on the Space Station!
About the Author:
Hello! My name is Susan Schaefer Bernardo,
and I’ve been writing poetry and stories since I could hold a
crayon! I am a big believer in the power of creativity. The
process of writing poetry or making art allows me to express and understand my
emotions. Through our imagination, we find ways to move through painful
experiences and transform them into something very beautiful and healing.
I wrote my first book Sun Kisses, Moon
Hugs because I wanted to reassure my kids (and myself!) that we are
always connected to the people we love. Writing my poem “Tonic Waters”
helped me cope with grief over my mother-in-law’s death. I was so
honored when “Tonic Waters” was published in an anthology and read aloud at the
2014 World Cancer Day Concert – because it meant my words might console others
experiencing similar pain. I’m currently finishing my first YA novel for
girls, and I’ve just finished collaborating on a wonderful new book to support
children who have suffered a traumatic event.
I love to learn just as much as I love to teach,
and I hold a B.A. in English (UCLA), M.A. in English Literature (Yale) and
elementary/secondary teaching credentials (Pepperdine). I keep my inner
flower child happy and inspired by sculpting, dancing, exploring tide pools,
raising chickens in the city, traveling to cool new places (and attempting to
speak the language, even if it’s just please and thank you), and taking long
nature walks with my sons and our rescue terrier Poppy. I’m happiest when
I’m barefoot and surrounded by beauty.