New and Updated Website at DWHirsch.com

May 17, 2016

Hello everyone!

You may have noticed a lack of posts–or you haven’t because I haven’t written anything here to notify you of. The reason? I have moved my WolfHowlings blog over to a self-hosted site:

DWHirsch.com

At this time, this blog will stay open as a static history of me and all of you. I am posting new content at my other blog, and I will get in touch with all of you, my dedicated subscribers, to let you personally know of this change. This was a decision a long time in the making–and a difficult task in the transition. More on that there. The new site is still under construction, and sporatic updates will be posted here.

Come join the fun: all this site had to offer and MORE!!

I look forward to seeing you there.

One #ROW80 Round2 goal done, but doesn’t change a thing

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I’m excited to say that it’s officially done: this website is now self-hosted. However, I am not promoting that site. Not yet.

I set up a self-hosted site with a brand new shiny name, but doing that wiped out all of the current formatting that you’re looking at. That’s not the end of the story. Heck, it’s not even the prequel. It’s a story to tell as I share my self-hosting blog experience, a simultaneous point of pride and wide-eyed disbelief. Simply put, I have to do this whole thing over again.

This website thing throws my ROW80 goals into a spin dryer. In no particular order, Goal 5 stated: “Update one thing on my blog each week.” Following this plan would keep my site freshened and current with the updated links-badges-formatting, those makeup touches long overdue. I did not expect a facelift.

1–Complete migrating this WordPress blog to the self-hosted one.
1–Redesign new/old website for launch Thurs, April 21; soft launch to my writers group and others Tues, April 19.
With this timeframe, I get my site launched and looking snazzy before the Rochester Writers Spring Conference on April 23. With two pre-launches, I can tweak anything that is glaringly unprofessional. I hope.

2–New business cards.
Now that my new web address is functioning in a skeletal stage, it’s time to order cards. I need something in my hands by April 18-ish, so design and order this week. My gosh, it’s April 10th already! Yipes! The thing is, I’m okay ordering anything professional-looking right now so I have cards to network with. I can always order new ones before my writerly events in May. A waste of money, you think? First, it’s a business expense, so no. Second–and maybe most important–I could spend $100/month on coffee if I set my mind to it, so re-doing cards is no big deal.

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3–Complete AtoZ Challenge posts for 2016 AND 2015.
Ugh. I lost track of my 2015 posts and had to list out what I needed to write. There’s an unlucky 13 of them. What a pile of poo I was about this last year. I’m staying current with this year’s haikus, and my posts are as long or short as I want to make these days. I have lots of open writing time this week.

4–Catch up and keep up with email.
It’s a nice goal–“Deal with 10-25 emails/day”–but I get at least 50 emails/day before deleting the obvious trash ones and those I have no interest in reading or dealing with, leaving still a net-negative emails in my Inbox.

6–Complete all blog/social media planner sheets for Happy Planner.
I keep creating new ones! I’m spending so much time planning my planning that I’m not utilizing these planning tools. Just stop already *smacks hand with wet noodle* Stop, stop stop!

7–Schedule social media.
See above re: planning planner sheets. I’m thinking on that, meditative reflection with coffee and tea nearby.

9–Put away holiday decorations: 1-2 boxes/week.
Haven’t yet.

10–Call family members at least once a week.
I’m going to call my Uncle Harold today. After I nap.

12–Continue writing letters.
I’m doing this, and finding inspiration through Write_On, which I’m writing about (ha!) this week. It’s more than a project, too fun to be called a challenge, and more awesome than just a campaign.

BONUS: Write for fun. Y’know, just play with words.
Haven’t done that yet, but this week, I’m okay with that.

—POSTPONED GOALS for April—

5–Update one thing on my blog each week.
Yeah. Addressed above. I’ll revisit this in May.

8–Schedule time to write/edit/promote my two current WIP: My Father, My Friend and Jimmy the Burglar: Thief of Socks.
Postponing until May, after the April blog nonsense is over, or at least contained. I’m hoping I’ll pick up some tips at the conference in two weeks. (Two weeks?!? Yipes!)

11–Contact 2-5 potential editors.
Yep, pushing this off until May when I’ll start with my Alaska contact and Fiverr.

I printed out these ROW80 Round 2 goals and attached them to a dashboard in my Happy Planner. No excuses for forgetting them now.

Making Big Decisions: my #ROW80 Round 2 goals

“When love and skill work together, expect a masterpiece.”~John Ruskin, English writer

I have a lot of To-Dos in my life, but listing 17 specific goals is leaving me scatterbrained.

I had this awesome blogposts written, expounding the virtues of A Round of Words in 80 Days, and then I overwhelmed myself.  Not that that’s a hard thing to do some days, but I needed to re-examine things.

Let me first say that ROW80 is a good kick in the butt to get organized and be productive.  By breaking down big-idea goals into measurable steps, you can get your Big Picture items done in small steps.

I tried Round 4 in 2015 and let it fade away. I accomplished Round 1 this year, and by accomplish I mean that I followed along with my goals even if I didn’t complete them. I received such encouragement on my Round 1 wrap-up post that I knew this was the direction for me to continue in the second quarter of 2016. “I hope I can scrounge up about 10-12 easy, accomplishable goals,” I said to myself.

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So many to-do ideas scribbled down

I struggled to narrow my originally outrageous 25 ideas into even 17 daunting goals.

I know myself well enough to know that I don’t do well with overwhelming lists.  Being too ambitious means I’ll fall harder for failing to achieve all the tasks.  What do I do?

I revisited the ROW80 site to read the “rules” of this challenge again.  The key idea here is measurable goals, and that’s the part I skimmed over, which is odd because this approach fits in with my exacting, to-do-lists-on-sticky-notes personality.  My Motown Writers Network challenges every member to set 30-day challenges and report the successes and struggles at next month’s meeting.  Regardless of how much I accomplish, I feel empowered.

Keeping items too broad, however, strangles people.  Kait Nolan’s post from 2011 resonated with me: “these aren’t goals they’re end results.”  Since I’m not always a big picture kinda gal– I like of seeing the little pictures–I was overthinking things.  I need a balance of wishful idea with specific action steps.

With all that in mind, here are my many-times-revised Round 2 Goals, beginning Monday, April 4:

During April:
1–Complete migrating this WordPress blog to the self-hosted one. I’m about 75% there, so I plan to aside one evening–hoping that’s all it takes–to make it functional enough to navigate because…

2–New business cards. Might as well make sure the new blog is up and hosted before sending people to that site. Spend 2-3 days between April 4-9th checking prices on MOO and Vistaprint and studying designs. I have writerly events coming up in April and May, so I need cards ordered or in my hand by April 18.

3–Complete AtoZ Challenge posts for 2016 AND 2015. Those 2015posts are hanging over my head and I can’t let them go. I have to finish them. Period.  That means draft write and/or finish 1-3 posts/week, starting today!  Set aside some of my Monday and Wednesday scheduled writing time to deal with 2015, filling with haikus where I can.

After that, my goals are in no particular order

4–Catch up and keep up with email. Deal with 10-25 emails/day, grouped either by date or by theme/sender.

5–Update one thing on my blog each week. I saw this goal from Shan Jeniah Burton in Round 1, and thought it sooooooo enlightening.

6–Complete all blog/social media planner sheets for Happy Planner. I don’t have many more to finish designing, so at least 1-2 per week so that I can…

7–Schedule social media. That’s a big, open-ended goal, and I’m not sure how to break it down right now. I know posting to Facebook (*shudder*) is high up on that list because I’m only on FB because everyone else is, not because I want to. Whatever it is, develop a schedule of posts/posting times of days during the week.

8–Schedule time to write/edit/promote my two current books: My Father, My Friend (memoir) and Jimmy the Burglar: Thief of Socks (humorous crime fiction). That’s also a big goal, and I’m not sure how I want to fit that into my schedule.  This is part of my #7 schedule social media goal.  I’ll break it down as I go along.

9–Put away holiday decorations.  If it’s just me doing this, then 1-2 boxes/week.

10–Call family members. Do this at least once a week.

11–Contact 2-5 potential editors. I’ll start with my Alaska contact and Fiverr.  I may do this in May when other deadlines pass, unless I can fit it in.

12–Continue writing letters. Serendipity arrived in the mail today with the Write On campaign, something I’ll share in a future post.

BONUS: Write for fun. Y’know, just play with words.

I have other goals that I so, so, so want to include in this list, but I wanted to cut that list down to a baker’s dozen. I classified the others as to-dos at this point.

A fishy Easter #WeekendCoffeeShare

If we were having coffee…

Wasn’t that coffee tasting fun?

I know, you may not be such a Starbucks supporter, but these monthly events are now something my husband and I look forward to. So far, I’ve learned that I do not like Latin American coffees, and African ones are hit-or-miss. You heard me ask Barista Dean about the types of coffees I like, and it’s the Asia-Pacific ones that seem to offer the mouth feel that I like. The roundness, was that what he called it? You’d think me a coffee drinker fresh out of the womb, but it was an acquired taste, born from the sleepiness of 5:00am film crew calls. That’s a story for another time. I want to tell you about last night.

My husband and I went to a Lenten fish fry.

This was my first fish fry since my Pittsburgh childhood. Oh, memories.

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Our current Peeps haul is larger than this…

Tomorrow is Easter. We’re already overflowing with Marshmallow Peeps, a childhood tradition and a joke between me and my husband from my 2009 article about the History of Marshmallow Peeps. I’m saving my one Cadbury Creme Egg for tomorrow, another family tradition.

And maybe I’m being extra-reflective because of the blogs I’ve been reading lately. Yes, I actually made time this week to read blogs, a lot of goal-setting between the ROW80 Round 1 wrap ups and A to Z Challenge Theme Reveals (you can currently find me at #493).  It’s the Throwback Thursday historic posts that have focused on family and memories in addition to goals. I’ve commented on these with my own family memories, which brings me back to fish frys.

Catholics typically don’t eat meat on Fridays during Lent, the weeks that lead up to Easter. Regardless of my parents’ health, what state I lived in or current religious activity, my family always observed meatless Fridays during Lent. It’s ingrained in me, so when I found this fish fry back in February, I so wanted to go.

There are so many pleasant memories about that. Riding the PAT bus through the neighborhood to St. Benedict’s, a school and a monastery. As we walked up the hill, what felt like a mountain, I always wondered what made a nun want to be a nun. Neither Mom nor Dad could tell me, but Dad would regale stories of his schooldays that every year involved nuns and wooden rulers on finger knuckles. The brick building with the ramp I had to go up instead of the steps. The stark hall, dull with tan walls yet screamingly bright from industrial overhead lights. The hum of chatter, voices laughing, saying hellos. The fast-food smell of cooking oil. A buffet line, find your seats first. White cardboard plates heavy and soggy from the river of coleslaw juice running under fish pieces. Sitting with Mom, Dad and my aunt. It was a party, and since we didn’t eat dinner out often, this was an event.

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Military rather than religious, it could almost be Pittsburgh

It took us until Good Friday to finally make it. We drove past a fish fry on the way to this fish fry. Who knew? At the VFW in Plymouth, we had the choice to sit in the Hall, which could’ve been my Pittsburgh memory plopped down in Michigan, or in the VFW Bar. 

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Baked and fried fish options at the modern-day fish fry

My husband chose the Bar. For the ambiance, he said.

We sat at a table across the room from the pool tables, next to the jukebox. It was the 4th Friday so live music started at 7pm and the pitchers of beer came out.

This was not my childhood fish fry.  It was still a good one.

Scrapbooking the #WeekendCoffeeShare away

If we were having coffee…

It’s been a strange week, my dear. Too many doctor appointments, too little writing. I did have time to pick up the teapot wall hanging I won at TranquiliTea last weekend. I am now the proud owner of a one-of-a-kind, highly-coveted pottery piece handcrafted by the store owner. How delightful! After the 10th Anniversary extravaganza, I do not need more tea, for sure. Not right now, anyway.

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Handmade pottery is always a treasured item

At least here we are, sharing a cup at a Starbucks I don’t frequent that often. It’s nice that you came here, meeting me as I take a break from the Pajama Scrapbook Crop over at Baker’s Studio across the street. It’s a delightful local scrapbook store that opened about a year ago. I know the owner from years back, and it’s good to see her–and another store–thriving. Downtown Farmington Hills is a cute place, isn’t it? Have you tried Three Amigos? It’s good Mexican food, and there’s another restaurant near my house. perhaps we’ll go there someday. I get Mexican so infrequently. Dagwood’s Deli here is my go-to, right next door. I recommend the turkey or the tuna salad.

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What’s a sleepover crop without a snuggly nap?

It’s revitalizing to spend time with friends, both you and my scrapbook peeps. I almost lost one of them to an out-of-state move that, fortunately for me, didn’t happen. How is it that we seem to focus on friends and delight in their friendship until too late? Remind yourself: friendship is a good thing, not to be squandered. “Squandered.” I like that word. I so rarely have an opportunity to use it in a sentence. It’s not something to use when friends and family are concerned, however. I hope you’re spending quality time this weekend.

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Do you think she’ll like it?


Sorry I can’t stay long today. I took a very comfy nap earlier. I’ve only got a few hours left, and I need to finish the belated birthday card for my mother-in-law. I found the most delightful paper and stamp quote, very fashion forward. I have no doubt she’ll love. If I do say so myself. *wide smile*

Let’s get together next week. I can’t wait to hear what’s new in your life!

Is writing ever wasted?

“Work hard for what you want because it won’t come without a fight.”~Leah LaBelle, Canadian musician

Wrapping up the Month of Little Things is a photo reminder of those precious moments. It’s easy enough to do; there are a lot of phone apps out there for you to create A Picture A Day composite. I use Photo 365, because if your day is too awesome for one memory, this app lets you post more than one photo to the day, even though only one is visible on the calendar. I don’t stress if I miss a day or three, but since I take so many pics and screenshots, I almost always fill a box.

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I spy a happy plant–Sprout is a baby tree, actually–WiiFitness activity, Swarm checkin moments and other celebrations. and coffee shops. Three days in a row writing in coffee shops

Speaking of writing, remember that brief tirade of stress yesterday about my contest and procrastination? I chose to cut one entry from the final submission package, which was, surprisingly, a good thing.

I posted a photo yesterday on Instagram of the holiday memoir I was working on. That’s the one I removed from the contest submission. The writing of it was not a failure, it was not wasted time.

First off, that piece only somewhat fit the category requirements for Holiday Memoir. The event I wrote about did happen at Christmastime, but it didn’t have anything to do specifically with the holiday. I liked that entry, but I found a better one from an earlier piece of writing that came from my journal. In fact, all three pieces were previous half-written material, but they fit the contest requirement because none of them have been published.

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Farewell…for now

So that vignette didn’t make it. Big deal, or no big deal. Does that leave me with another half-finished piece of writing? Absolutely. But now I have a piece that I can tweak into something else in the future. Besides, I would have had to do some serious editing to make that fit the required word count, and I was not prepared to do that. I let it go.

I had to edit the other three entries anyway, and I forgot how tough tight writing is. Every word occupies valuable real estate on the page. The word count for poetry was 100; mine was 85, cut down from 120 words. the Holiday Memoir category was between 200-400 words; I got mine down from 533 to 371 words. The First Page of a Novel had a word count of 250; I made it at 199 words. Since I waited until the 11th hour to submit–literally, about 11:30pm–there was no way I would’ve been able to do justice to make that 789 word moment into a cohesive, intriguing 400 word story. I cut it entirely.

When I wrote it, I expected to have a ruthless editing session to make it work, but by the time I got past the backstory into the actual event, it was a mess. It takes a talented writer to condense 400-ish words, chopping a piece in half. It also takes time. I have the talent but not the time.

Still, what made that exercise so good is that I was writing. I wasn’t spending time planning or blogging or planning blogposts. I wasn’t editing or rewriting or thinking about writing–I was writing. Not journaling; creative writing with a purpose. I felt free. I missed that feeling of initial creation. I’ve been so bogged down in external nonsense that I forgot to write for fun. That’s one of my ROW80 goals achieved.

Celebrating THON on this #WeekendCoffeeShare

If we were having coffee…

Thanks for meeting us here at Miracle Coffee. It’s our annual tradition to watch the Penn State THON Total Reveal in a coffeeshop, and he chose here this time. He’s a fan of the blended Miracle Mocha. I’m trying that as a hot drink. *sip, sip* Mmmmm, if you like sweet, this is good hot or cold.

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Check out the window reflection: perfect for THON

How was your week? We kinda celebrated my husband’s birthday on Monday. He flew out of town for a business meeting the next day–*”in New Jersey and the weather was terrible” he says*–yeah, his Tuesday flight was cancelled and his Friday flight was delayed. This weekend is more of his Birthday Week. Everyone should have one of those, or a Birthday Month. I highly recommend that!

I got some writing done, but my ROW80 goals, geez, those are a struggle. I’m not making an effort, I guess. You know how that is, the laundry takes over the cooking takes over the writing time takes over the TV time takes over the email time takes over…you get it. So here’s my embarrassing goal work:

1 & 6–I still haven’t published Jimmy the Burglar: Thief of Socks. I haven’t touched it in awhile, really, because I got lost in the timeline and names and such. I need to make time to review that Scrivener email and stuff. Why haven’t I? You know, I don’t know. Maybe it’s a great form of procrastination: if I don’t know how to fix it, I can ignore it. The same goes for my memoir; I’m so focused on the messy rewrites that I can’t move forward. I’m stuck.

Do you ever feel that way? Yeah? Can you offer any suggestions?

2–I keep moving my search for a blog hosting site day-to-day, week-to-week, no matter how small I break down the tasks. It’s probably not hard–in fact, I’m probably spending more time shuffling it than the review will actually be–but I don’t know why I’m not making the time.

3 & 4–I am having fun with my planner, and that at least is keeping me on track with blog posts and to-dos. Unless I ignore them and move them to another week. *Smiles and sips coffee drink self-consciously*

Everything else–playing and reading and writing just for the thrill of it–I’m successful to moderate degrees.

Wait! It’s 3:15pm, and we missed Family Hour. Just as well; hearing the cancer stories of survival and watching the slideshow of those who will never see another THON always makes me cry. See? Hand me a napkin, please. *sniffle sniffle, wipes eyes*

Have I told you about THON? Maybe we talked about it when I briefly mentioned my alumni experience or back when I reminisced about my undergrad experience. It’s a group of Penn State students and alumni who raise money for the Four Diamonds Fund, an organization that pays the doctor bills and traveling expenses for families of kids with cancer. It’s part of the Penn State Hershey Children’s Hospital. Yes, Hershey, the chocolate town, and after 43 years, we’ve raised:

$137.6 Million dollars.

Yes, million with a capital M. It’s the largest student-run philanthropy in the world. Yes, World.

THON is in the last hour. Go Go Gadget is playing. Back when I danced, Queen Bee and the Blue Hornet Band was the go-to group, but they broke up and then the lead singer died about 15 years ago.

It’s 3:50. Almost time for the last Line Dance. I still sing some of the verses from dancing in my THON as an alumni 6 years ago. Yes, I danced as an undergrad and as a something-something-year-old woman. My partner and I will do it again in four years from now, every 10 years. Some people run marathons; I stand and stay awake for 46 hours.

10…9…8…7…6

What a magical countdown.

5…4…3…2…1

“Dancers, you may sit down.”

What magical words after 46 hours on your feet.

This year…hold on, the cards are being raised and flipped…I have 9.77 Million more reasons to be a proud Penn State alum.

Wow. *sniffles even more* What a great way to end the weekend: For The Kids.

Birthdays are in the details

“Let us know the happiness time brings, not count the years.”~Ausonius, Roman poet

Another February 15th rolls to an end, another birthday for my husband curls up for a 365-day nap. Birthdays are in the little touches.

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Bright balloon bouquets should greet very birthday boy and girl–no matter their age–when they walk through the door.

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Pooh napkins and cupcakes for either chocolate/vanilla mood, complete with separate forks so flavor-contamination…or for sharing.

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Don’t forget the Happy Birthday flags, a separate color for each cupcake.

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To the last detail: birthday balloon bouquet tied with smiley face ribbon.

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Don’t cover up words with a little red bow; let each one delight the gift. What’s fun without some Penn State-colored beads?

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Hershey’s chocolates in a bedside kiss. Good night!

Crazy little thing called…

Love.

Smallish details seems to be this month’s blog theme because here I go again.

There’s a blog party over at Suzie Speaks with the theme of love.

Who doesn’t love a good party? Given the theme, how could I not participate? I thought of the specific details of “what is love?” to me and I came up with one word:

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Receipts.

Specifically, meal receipts.

Early on when my husband and I were dating, he took the itemized receipt after some dinner out and wrote a note on it, something commemorating the event or location. I probably blushed, smiled for so many reasons and cooed “thank you” to this charming, sentimental man who was not my own (yet). Whatever my reaction was, it was enough for him to do it the next time out. He hasn’t stopped since.

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I adore it.

It’s a tradition now, almost expected and yet not.

What makes a meal receipt-worthy? The event. The location. The food. The memory. There was something significant and not commonplace about eating there at that time, and he captures that. I’m not allowed to write them; he does that.

Except one time when I took him out for his birthday. That was my receipt responsibility; he couldn’t write on his own birthday. That was my treat.

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My first arrow heart I Love You just yesterday

The notations evolve over the years. There are flags for sporting events, birthday hats, holiday hearts, even a diamond ring for one wedding anniversary. The excitement is discovering what new sentiment he’ll scribble down. He never fails to delight me.

Such a little thing. Such a big deal.

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