Retro love

“Love is the only force capable of transforming an enemy into a friend.”~Martin Luther King, Jr., American leader

I’ve been feeling nostalgic lately.

Do you remember any class in school where you had a creative writing assignment? If so, you may have stressed out about writing that first line. That’s when your teacher would say “Just freewrite,” which meant for the next however many minutes, you wrote whatever thoughts came to mind, without stopping.

Your pen. Remember those? Or maybe you wrote with a pencil. Regardless, it was–and still is–a stick that you hold in your hand that produces a visual image when pressed down on a surface. I mention this because I don’t think we do remember these anymore.

I watched a YouTube video the other day, and the host was a teenager or a girl in her early 20s. She created some art with her hands and then had to write some information down. “My cursive is terrible,” she wined. “I haven’t written in cursive since middle school. Looks like I have to practice my handwriting. It looks terrible.”

First, as a writer or blogger or artist, never apologize for anything you do save technical difficulties or natural disasters beyond your control. Even then, explain don’t excuse.

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My husband shares my nostalgia in this gift to me (us)

What made her comment doubly bad was that she made an excuse for not using her talented hands to write. Much of society has lost touch with the tactile, with the real. I haven’t tangled in awhile–something I miss, and a whole separate topic–but I do journal by hand. No online diary for me, except for this blog. I write and edit my stories. I use colorful pens to make it more fun. Heck, what happened to crayons?

Twitter chats this week were retro: what books do you recall fondly from your childhood? Favorite high school trip? When did you see your first concert? What video game(s) rocked your world? For the record, my answers include:
A Wrinkle in Time by Madeleine L’Engle
–Cancun, Mexico (seriously!)
–Hall & Oates Big Bam Boom tour…you do the math
–Joust, Sinistar, Dig Dug, Mappy and Gauntlet

So I have been missing that lately, the delightful memories of youth. The times when I felt young and free and safe. What about you? Is there something you miss from long ago, or just from last year? Times change, but our memories do not.

I want to go home and color.

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My latest time-suck: Twitter Chats

“Get your facts first, then you can distort them as you please.”~Mark Twain, American author

Twitter.  8pm or 9pm EST.  ‘Nuff said.

In my quest to keep up with my social media here, I find the time not to check Twitter is at 8 or 9pm EST. That is when the Twitter Chats come alive.

Twitter chats are themed meetups where people discuss a particular topic and then quickly get off-topic, which is what makes these things so addictive. If you imagine Twitter as one, big hotel, Chats are separate rooms identified by specific hashtags similar to room numbers. Anyone can join in the discussion as long as you know the hashtag. There’s probably a list out there of common Twitter chats I’d enjoy, but I experience enough of a time-suck as it is because I’m constantly stumbling on them.

When I see someone I’m following using a particular hashtag over and over and over, especially in rapid-fire posts, I click on that hashtag to see what what’s going on in that room. This is why I’m not going to seek out a Twitter list; the discovery is half the surprise. There are two that I regularly follow when I can. This week, I calendared three new ones for next week.

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Showcasing one of my bookshelves in the #RockMyTBR Twitter Chat

The topics of Chats stay consistent while changing to keep it fresh. The #RockMyTBR (Saturdays 9pm EST) is a network of readers hosted by @thebooktraveler and @melanielost celebrating each other’s piles of books To Be Read. I just discovered #k8chat (Thursdays, 9pm EST) hosted by @K8Tilton where discussion revolves around topics of building worlds in your book, publishing and other topics of valuing yourself and your writing. #StoryDam is an online writing community who gather with @StoryDam (Thursdays, 8pm EST) to motivate writers to write their stories and offer advice how to move past the struggles that prevent writing. Oh, there was another new one I engaged in: #CraveChat by @CornerBakery. That’s an afternoon one (Wednesdays 1pm EST), and I haven’t figured that topic yet because I keep diving in to the conversation midway. There’s always talk of coffee and pastries. Good enough for me.

Topics are what draw people in to gather and commune. The host plans out questions to ask, and posts them using the intro Q1 or Q2 or whatever the number a particular question is. People respond to that specific question by starting Tweets off with A1 or A2 or whatever corresponds to the question. Then people get off-topic, and that’s where the “social” part of social media kicks in.

Many chats start off with virtual tea or coffee. Some have cookies. Some combine wine with chocolate. Notice how everyone’s become off-topic before the fun even begins?

What do I get from all of this, besides a major time-suck of my evenings? I discover new friends and followers, find new blogs, discuss new books, gain motivation and inspiration, learn techniques and tips, and eat a lot of virtual snacks. All that is good for my mind and my waistline.

Examining the moon in haiku

“Be a yardstick of quality.”~Steve Jobs, American businessman

This week’s Haiku Horizons theme is Under. That poetry prompt reminded me of the full moon I saw last night. It’s the year’s last supermoon which coincides with yet another full moon. This one is called the Hunter’s Moon.

I’ve always been fascinated with the moon. There’s something so dark and sexy about the night’s light. “Diana” is the Roman goddess of “the hunt and the moon,” also known as the Greek goddess, Artemis. I’ve always felt a kinship to that sky lust.

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A quick Google search of Wikipedia and http://www.behindthename.com pulled up some interesting facts. “Diana” as the 297th most popular name in the United States; the highest ranking is currently #15 in Portugal. I’m a princess, a teenage hurricane, and a branch of Wicca I’m a character in: the 1980s sci-fi show V, the animes Sailor Moon and MAR; the children’s novel The Moon Stallion; the animated Acrobat in Dungeons & Dragons; and the Shakespeare play All’s Well That Ends Well. Following goddess and princess, I’m most pleased with the alter ego for DC Comics superhero Wonder Woman.

Back to the moon…Hunter, goddess…regardless, I am enthralled with its mystery. That’s where my haiku comes from.

Books on the Horizon: do you read?

“The more you like yourself, the less you are like anyone else, which makes you unique.”~Walt Disney, American Cartoonist

If you’re a writer, do you read books?

You should. That’s what everyone says. However, if you’re a writer, how do you find–or make–the time?

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If you’re a reader, how much do you read? Do you think it’s “enough?”

I’m both a writer and a reader, but I am guilty of all that. I don’t make the time to read because I’d rather write, but when I write, I want the relaxing downtime of reading. I don’t know about you, but if I am not doing both writing and reading, then the world says I’m not a good person.

This never used to be a problem. I swallowed books in elementary school. Mom had to limit my Scholastic Book order in middle school. In high school, I wrote extra credit stories based on books I read outside the classroom.

What changed? I guess Life happened. That and the Internet.

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Haiku Horizons Week 79: “Brush” reminds me of my choices

Social media in all its forms has distracted us. When was the last time you used your phone to call someone? I did the other day because my uncle doesn’t have a computer. It was cool to hear his voice. The familiar Pittsburgh accent made me miss him and my childhood home even more.

It’s so easy to get sucked in by everything else. That’s when you realize you said “just 10 minutes” over an hour ago. And books are hard to carry. It’s a physical item we don’t need when Life is on our phone which fits in our pocket.

But we do need them. Books are a throwback to a time when we made real connections, not just Likes. Five years ago, as my Timehop app reminds me, I preferred and actually read real books.

Now I’m a published author with currently three books available electronically. I’m procrastinating with the physical printing of them through a service such as Smashwords because I see no immediate rush. Everybody reads eBooks, right?

I thought my Deadwood Writers Voicesblogpost would inspire me to read, but that book I once liked held no interest now. I was reminded of a YA vampire book series I adored, The Chronicles of Vladimir Tod by Heather Brewer, and I bought but never got around to the final book. I also found a tattered paperback my mom read and adored, The Face in the Abyss by A. Merritt. I remember the big scary snake on the front cover, but I still read it because of her. I loved it because of her, and I’m sure it has inspired me in my writing today. That’s the thing about physical books, the touchy-feely inspiration.

I won’t remember how or if it did inspire me until I read it. And yet it sits on the table, unopened but with a bookmark in it. I can see it as I sit here typing….

Writing afternoon in the D: Motown #WeekendCoffeeShare

“You can’t help getting older, but you don’t have to get old.”~George Burns, American comedian

If we were having coffee, we’d be at Great Lakes Coffee Roasting Company in Detroit.  I’m already on my second cup of Brazil.  My husband is here, too, having driven me to my Motown Writers Network meeting this morning.  He’s the friendly type, so he’d discuss the music playing, his own musical interests and the latest internet news.  However, there’s no more of his chocolate brownie from Avalon Bakery.  You’ll have to buy your own here.

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Weekend coffee in downtown Detroit

Today’s speaker was a college instructor who lectured on the aspects of heroes and villains in books and movies, noting how all stories follow a 9-step process from character introduction to resolution and ending.  After that talk, I so want to watch The Matrix again, Kill Bill Vol.1 or 2, Raiders of the Lost Ark, or Harry Potter series, all movies he used as examples.  The most meaningful point I connected with was that villains are a reflection of the hero and are more focused.  Villains know what they want and how to get it, as long as the hero doesn’t interfere.

I knew there was a reason I like villains, besides the fact that they have the awesomest outfits and the best lines.

During the after-meeting networking session, one woman approached me to discuss changing her healthcare stories from clinical to creative text. After we talked for about 10 minutes, she said that I inspired her and she was coming here to check out my website.

I’m somebody’s inspiration.  That is so cool.

Then I met up with the woman who helped her mother write a memoir, 9 Houses. After discussing my NFPW awards and the progress of my memoir, she said I was in a good place to branch out and seek additional interviews and exposure events.  Weird; I think of myself as a writer, but I don’t think of myself as “important enough” to warrant such attention.  Not yet, anyway, because I haven’t finished my full-length memoir yet.  She believed in me; why can’t I do the same for me?

She recommended an editor and a cover designer, services I have been procrastinating about.  She invited me to a reading or discussion event this Friday in Detroit.  I know nothing about it, but I’m exploring the YouTube channel for the Secret Society of Twisted Storytelling.  The group’s name alone sounds amazing.

I’m (kinda) ignoring you this #WeekendCoffeeShare

“If your actions inspire others to dream more, do more, be more, then you are a leader.”~John Quincy Adams, American president

If we were having coffee today, I’d be mostly ignoring you. Don’t take that wrong way. I’m relaxing at the dining room table casually reading blog posts. My husband is on the couch, and he’s playing his newest jazz CD. He and I randomly throw a sentence at each other–“I’m going to have a salad for lunch,” he says–and then we get back to ignoring ourselves. We’re probably doing the same, sharing something we’re enjoying. I like to think that you are enjoying yourself with a book or tablet of your own. I’m sure you’ve had a busy week, so share in the quiet company of having someone nearby without the stress of having to entertain each other to feel close.

While he was gone, I spontaneously saw fireworks in a park about a 15 minute drive away. I registered for my NFPW Alaskan tours, and I’m re-editing–again–the wording for my upcoming GoFundMe campaign to get me there and accept my writing awards. My Deadwood Writers Group congratulated me. The group had a rousing critique session and saw some new members in the crowd.

My husband returned from his overseas business trip Thursday, and it’s been a gentle weekend.  He brought German chocolate home again, and it’s yummy.  Care for a piece?  See, there’s plenty here. 

Friday, we saw local fireworks, good, but not as creative as the ones I saw Monday. Saturday, we went into Northville to share a new old coffeehouse I rediscovered last week. I sat down and WROTE. Yes, we sat across from each other, savoring the fresh-baked peanut butter cookie, and I wrote and edited my memoir. Oh my gosh, that felt so good! I’ve ignored it for far too long, using everything else as an excuse to get that done so I had time to focus on that book.

Yesterday, I made the time.

He didn’t feel like driving 20 minutes to see fireworks again, so we ordered pizza and watched Live Free or Die Hard, taking a break from the yearly Independence Day marathon. At 9pm, the neighborhood exploded! I almost forgot how good the unprofessional fireworks displays were around here. Michigan has relaxed regulations, and the fireworks I saw from my backyard and at the corner down the street could not be outdone by professional displays. My head couldn’t swing around fast enough to catch ever blast occurring simultaneously to my left, down the road, across the street and behind the across-the-street fireworks. Please, stop I thought, something you should never hear from fireworks-loving me. That plea meant that the explosions are too awesome for me to keep up with.

Here’s a smidge of what I saw last night. Disclaimer: These are not professionals, but do not try this at home:

Highlights from your local neighborhood DMZ. #Canton #Michigan #fireworks #dwhvideo

A post shared by Diana Hirsch-Writer-Zentangle (@dwhirsch) on

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That’s why we’re chillin’ here. I began reading a book that is disappointing. It’s not grabbing my interest, but I feel an obligation to read since I blogged about it on my Writer’s Group website. I’ll give it maybe 20-30 more minutes of my time because it’s making me cranky. Ever have a book like that? Making time to read has been such a struggle these days that I refuse to waste it on a non-interesting book. That’s why I’m enjoying this blog time: un-stressful reading that’s fun and interesting. I may have even visited your blog today during this Coffee Share weekend. I’ll leave a comment if I do, and I hope you’ll do the same.

Have a second cup and relax. It’s good to just sit sometimes and be selfishly subdued.

Yes, you should remember little moments

“Success is not final, failure is not fatal; it is the courage to continue that counts.”~Winston Churchill, English statesman

NOTE: apologies to Diva visitors; I initially uploaded last week’s linky code to this week’s challenge.

Do you remember last month? Heck, do you remember yesterday?

I appreciate the little things, yet sometimes I need a visual reminder of those little things so I can remember to appreciate them in the future. What about you? Do you forget little things like making all the green lights on the drive home? While that’s not a good example of capturing the image on film/digital media–always keep both hands on the wheel while driving and make bluetooth, hands-free phone calls–what are some tiny things that made your days?

For me, I looked at my phone at 4:44 on May 4th–Star Wars Day–and was able to capture that moment with a reminder pop-up on my phone’s screen. Cool coincidence!

My tree. I see her death and her rebirth. Follow the full journey over at #TheWritersTree on my Instagram feed.  I am so pleased, nervous, scared, happy and joy-full over her daily growth and change. Little changes every day: a new bud here, a larger leaf furl the next.

Zentangle classes at Great Lakes Mega Meet and Baker’s Studio. Happy students. Stunning images.

Back on the WiiFit, the highest step scores to date, and I’m lookin’ fine doing this.

A navy blue evening sky. Creating my first refrigerator magnet haiku on my new phone app. Taco Tuesday–I had totally forgotten about that! An inspirational cough drop wrapper. Funky manicure color. Calming moment sitting on a wall one evening next to a highway. Yes, I found that relaxing, and I want to do it again.

I note my lack of coffeeshop photos, signaling a lack of writing. I miss that. Reminders don’t always have to be positive, but they shouldn’t make us feel guilty. I’m not, just sad that I didn’t make the time.

In a moment to make more time for things I like comes this week’s Diva Zentangle Challenge 220 is the monthly Use My Tangle (UMT) post.

I have some half-finished tiles that I carry around in my Zentangle leather wallet–thanks to Laura, the Diva herself and the Blog Friendship Cup–and those tiles annoy me. Every time I look at them. It’s an incomplete feeling, a stubborn emptiness, an almost-hatred for their stalled completion. I decided to get them out of my life, and wallet, to make room for new, blank creativity. Incorporating a Diva Challenge into one of those was an increased challenge.

I not going to tell you what was new and what was old, but I was thrilled enough that my hands were not steady. The lines on All Boxed Up are uneven, but it’s a comfortable, flowing tangle full of auras. I like that aspect of tangles, and I like the sense of happiness at reviving an older, unfinished tile.

I have two more tiles like that–at least that I know of. This is exciting.

Another little moment to remember. What about you? Is this one of those moments?

Here there be Haiku

“Bad things do happen; how I respond to them defines my character and the quality of my life.”~Walter Anderson, German writer

I’m in a whimsical poetic mood. Enjoy.

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Dancing in memories: a reflection of April

“The best way to predict the future is to create it.”~Peter Drucker, American businessman

Back to my regular blogging schedule now that the AtoZ Challenge has ended. Did I complete the challenge? No…and yes.

I did not post all of my alphabet posts on the day-of alphabet days. Why the delay? One: Life interfered. I took some vacation, had a minor house issue which required major effort to contain, and bought and installed a new computer and printer, the latter being not as easy a venture as I expected. The trip to State College to see the Penn State Blue-White game was the highlight. That involved daily Creamery ice cream cones, my husband’s first venture into The Phyrst bar, shopping, photos at the Lion and on the Beaver Stadium football field. That trip was followed by a mini-trip to visit his folks: dinner, a trip to quaint Doylestown and lots of puppy play time.

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The wonders of April 2015

I exercised more on my WiiFit–and it shows;
see Day 14–attended my friend’s book signing, bought three bags of used books for my Found Poetry Zentangle class next week and saw my baby turn 200K in our driveway.

Lots of little things make up one big life. Remember that.

But the second reason all of my AtoZ posts are not posted as of this blog post is that I wrote flash fiction in each of them. Flash fiction. It was spontaneous, not planned at all, but it takes time, more time than I expected. However, after Day One, I couldn’t stop; both for myself and for my readers. It was my first attempt at both flash fiction and AtoZ. My first time writing daily blog posts and daily storytelling.

Not the best idea I had.

So I’m extending the challenge posts throughout the month of May, rather than doing an info dump of alphabets on my readers.I hope you’ll come back and learn all the ways to Procrastinate a Writer. Maybe you’ll learn something. Maybe you’ll feel for Jayne and Tom, and who is that Newspaper Guy? Or maybe you’ll just leave hungry for cookies.

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