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.

Grownups go gaga in #AtoZChallenge

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“Yesterday is not ours to recover, but tomorrow is ours to win or lose.”~Lyndon B. Johnson, American president
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Today’s Alphabet Haiku is brought to you by the Letter G.

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The F-Word, in haiku

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“Desire if the key to motivation”~Mario Andretti, American sportscar driver
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Today’s Alphabet Haiku is brought to you by the letter F.

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Today’s Thursday Throwback link is also brought to you by the letter F.  Hop back in time to revisit the A to Z Challenge from 2015, which is all about writing, procrastination and fish.

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.

Marshmallow Peeps, ghosts and friendship: a #ThrowbackThursday post

I’m happy I stumbled upon the Throwback Thursday Link Party.

There’s a lot of #tbt flopping out there on social media, but a lot of it is selfish. Look at me! Me me me!! It’s all about me!! People post their photo or whatever and then go away until next week.

If you don’t connect with the person directly, a lot of that stuff is “so what?” Blog hops are places that encourage people to visit and perhaps connect with other bloggers–you know, people…the interacting part of “social” media. Bloggers travel through their treasure trove of historic posts and share something written 30+ days ago. In doing this, I’m rediscovering myself in the process.

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Trying to keep with the Easter holiday theme, I discovered that I’ve written NO posts specifically about Marshmallow Peeps. If you know my history with them, my gosh, you will find this unbelievable.

My Throwback Thursday contribution is my Halloween story about marshmallow ghosts and friendship.

This holiday tale was originally told during A Fanciful Twist’s 2011 Halloween Party. Vanessa’s site was my first experience with a blog hop, and my Halloween Party post is awaited by all my friends. How cool is that?! One of my scrapbooking friends bought me a tripod for my digital camera/smartphone so that I could take steady pictures in low-light settings.

Stop on over and take your own trip through history on this site.

My final #ROW80 Round 1 reflections and suggestions

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

A Round of Words in 80 Days. The challenge is detailed here on the #ROW80 blog for all writers, bloggers, artists and whomever has large goals to achieve. This is done four times a year, with Round 1 ending today. This is a summary of my accomplishments–or nots–so you can read my original post HERE.

Which brings me back to A Round of Words in 80 Days. By the end of the first quarter–or ROW80 Round 1 dates of January 4-March 24, 2016–these are my ROW80 Round 1 goals:

HERE ARE MY RESULTS for the first Quarter of 2016:

1–Polish and publish Jimmy the Burglar: Thief of Socks.
NO
There’s no excuse: I got distracted, I put other things first; I was intimidated with a fuller-length fiction story…you name it. I could’ve made the time–I had the time–but I didn’t. This is something to roll over to Round 2, for sure.

2–Find and do a blog self-hosting site. 
YES–or at least almost; it’s in progress. I’m just waiting on the final domain name transfer. Have you ever done this? It’s simple yet surprisingly complex. I’ll share my thoughts in future posts, an education I wish someone had walked me thru.

3–Blog planning.
MAYBE
It’s something I’m working on.  I blocked off days to post my Haiku Horizon posts, for example, and some days I met them; some days, the post moved; some weeks I never wrote or published the post.  “Publishing” a post is the key.  Here’s the scary thing: I looked back at my “drafts” folder here on WordPress to see what I could reuse or update.

I had drafts there of 2011 posts.
What the *bleep* happened?!?

The list of 207 drafts includes ideas I was tweaking and blog posts I didn’t finish. This was most likely due to interrupted writing time. Now that I have set aside dedicated writing times, I can take these good, mostly-finished posts and complete them. Or not. Several things I’ve learned from this part of the #ROW80 challenge:

–I’m a good writer.
–I need to Keep Up.

Seeing this shocking revelation can help me blog-plan–I feel it!–but I’m not sure how to translate the feeling, this newfound confidence or whatever it is, into something practical.

3A-The Blog Planning goal included scheduling social media.
NO
This goes back to blog planning: what do I want my Twitter; Instagram accounts to achieve? What do I expect from my Facebook and Amazon Author Pages? A great idea came from a blog and Instagram accountabout defining yourself and your audience. Hers captured what I think I want: “people like me who read any books and all subjects, like to read YA and other subjects.” She has a bookstagram acct–I’ll detail that later–but it made me think about my mission statement, and maybe that will be a #ROW80 goal next round.

Back to social media, I need to see how that fits into my life. I’ve got the writing planning down with carved out spaces in my days week to do it, so work in these other tasks.

4–Update my blog: About Me, Resources and other tabs.
NO
Sounds like a copout excuse, but without defining “me” I can’t update my site to reflect that. Self-host and getting rid of the “wordpress” in website address was Step 1, so this is manageable. It still feels like playing, not actual working, and not sure how to let that go in myself

5–Fractured finger, heal thyself.
YES
Or so I think. Weds, April 20 is perhaps final-final appt. It’s haealed or healing it feels like it has movement most days, but doc sayas it may take a year or more to fully heal. Will it ever fully heal?

6–Make progress on memoir My Father, My Friend.
NO
And I feel like a total failure for that (also see #1 above)
I have writing time carved out. But I’ve let other things take over my time, ironically blog planning (see #3 above) has been a factor in this. Balance–need to achieve that.

7–Make time to play.
YES
I scrapbook old photos, doing that dreaded word scrapbookers quiver at: “catch up” That’s okay; I’m overwhelmed with past projects and layouts, but any progress is a step forward. I’ve scrapbooked with a friend of mine, and I rediscovered joy in playing with paper. I’ve stepped back a bit from ATCs and altered art; I’m not feeling that vibe now, but that may be a break I need. Writing and all that goes along with it (see #1, 3, 4, 6 above)

8–Do some fun writing.
YES
A bit. I wrote a fiction short story I began for Storytime Friday over on A Life Among the Pages and never finished. I’m still not done, but I had fun traversing along the world my mad, mad, mad, mad mind created.

In closing, my thoughts in review:
–I need to manage my time, but I know I can.
–I need to re-read my notes from Rochester Writers Fall Conference and review how the romance author publishes four books a year. She has a schedule, and that’s what I based Jimmy the Burglar: Thief of Socks goal on.
–This has been a gentle, and not so gentle, slap in the face of how I’m using my time.

Let’s see how I revise all this for Round 2. If you’ve participated, let me know how your goals went and your thoughts on the challenge.

Rediscovering Zentangle in a coffeeshop

“Life isn’t about finding yourself; Life is about creating yourself.”~George Bernard Shaw, Irish writer

Today, I am doing just that.

One month ago, Colleen contacted me about Zentangle classes. I’m not actively teaching, but the big-box craft store I had been teaching at never updated their website. Truth is, mine was cobwebby as well. I felt so gosh darn sad, guilty and responsible for no reason that I told her we could meet and tangle together. We found a midpoint between us in a local coffeeshop, and we met for the first time last week.

I forgot the newfound passion one has for discovering Zentangle. You see, for me it’s been so much a “job” or “profession” that I haven’t enjoyed it. I haven’t tangled in–what, months? years? I’m embarrassed to think about that.

My mind still goes back to that strong memory I have as a newly-minted CZT. I sat on the couch next to my husband, enthralled with it all. He watched TV and I tangled on a black tile. Content.

Somewhen after that, Zentangle contentment became commitment. I had to post weekly entries in the delightful Diva Zentangle Challenge to remain in people’s minds. I had to look for teaching gigs because I knew anyone could benefit from this art. I had to blog about Zentangle so that others knew my passion. In all that busyness, I lost the innocence and the joy. It was there, but buried under so much duty that I forgot to be excited.

Until today.

Colleen is that younger me: unsure but boundless, timid yet bold, amazed by the creations and creativity, exploding with possibilities. The first time we met, her enthusiasm oozed onto the table and into my coffee cup. Why wasn’t I excited like she was? It all overwhelmed me, partly because she wanted me to teach classes. She had to share this with her world, with the world, and she had all sorts of marketing and promotion and location ideas. She was my strongest advocate for me since me.

Where was she a year ago?

No, that’s an excuse because it would not have mattered. I was struggling to balance my job with two time-consuming passions: writing and Zentangle. I couldn’t commit to both, so they both suffered. No one I met recently was excited about Zentangle, which was discouraging. I wasn’t excited. My writing, however…I’m a da#n good writer–always have been, always will be–and here I was wasting precious writing time on unfulfilling Zentangle.

That’s why and when I chose to step back. It took me about 3 months to convince myself that I was okay to do this and that I had the courage to let go. Yet seven months later, I found myself in a coffee shop discussing teaching. I felt trapped.

I calendared time to meet with her again–remember, the guilt–and today is our second day together. I told her I didn’t want to teach formally, standing at the front of a room with a large pad of paper on an easel, but a casual meeting like this would be okay.

Once I released my expectations, or perhaps it was my commitments, I relaxed.

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Preparing to tangle with what I’ll call an “abstract celtic knot”

I suggested we do this week’s Diva Zentangle Challenge #259: Touch of Irish, interpreting St. Patrick’s Day however we chose. I wanted green.

The green marker I had with me was scraggly and dry. I thought a wash with paint or my Inktense pencils would rejuvenate my love of those art supplies, but they were at home. If I didn’t finish the tile here and now, it wouldn’t get done otherwise. Using what I had, I pulled two green ink pens out of my writing bag. Colleen had a great idea to do a Celtic Knot string. I found the traditional triangle image, but didn’t want to spend a lot of time getting it oh-so-perfection. I sketched it quickly in pencil–I was excited to actually tangle, not drawing–and came up with this weird Knot reflection. I like to think if you turned my image inside-out and around, you’d see a crude knot there, and that’s what I’m going with.

Ink pens don’t flow well on Zentangle tiles; at least these pens didn’t. I knew in my mind’s eye what I wanted to create, but I didn’t know how. I figured I’d just feel it along the way.

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Notice how it disappears off the edges into beautiful nothingness

I wanted the emphasis to be the circle and the center space that didn’t feel complete as just white space. I over-overdid the center area, and now it is the dusty focus, or that’s how my eyes see it.

Like Zentangle philosophy–I haven’t forgotten that–I accepted it. Slowly; I did forget how to be Zen with the process and be forgiving with myself. It was not what I imagined, but what it became.

Colleen, of course, loved it, sparkled by the touch of color everywhere. She asked for my casual guidance and input along her way, and we shared inspiration alongside un-oozy coffee. She felt hers was choppy in comparison, but I adored the fun and fresh lines of someone at the beginning of her journey.

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Together: the tools of inspiration and creation

Remember, it’s all in our eyes and our mind.

I’m relearning, too. Stay tuned.

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!

A #WeekendCoffeeShare about coffee and tea

If we were having coffee…

Wasn’t that fun? I haven’t been to a Starbucks coffee tasting in almost 10 years. The company stopped doing all that fun stuff, but I enjoyed pairing pastries with coffee. The last tasting I remember, we sampled chocolate brownies that were enhanced by the coffee, and it was the first time I’d considered drinking coffee black.

It’s like that now. Pike’s Place is like a sour house wine in restaurants, but when brewed on the Clover machine, it’s almost drinkable. What did you think of the other two? I felt silly covering the coffee with my hand to smell it first before “slurping” it, but wine drinkers do something similar swooshing the glass around to observe the legs of the liquid. I appreciate the experience here and I learned one thing: I do not like Latin American coffees. Too sharp and acidic. I like a rounder coffee. Of course, I like a Frappuccino more.

Have you been writing much? My writing has not been productive lately. It’s like I’m in a slump and I don’t know why. Maybe it was this week’s snowstorm? It’s a good thing I took my car into the repair shop on Tuesday, the day before that messy madness.

Oh, did I tell you? I discovered an adorable tea shop in downtown Ann Arbor called Tea Haus. You purchase loose leaf tea on one side of the store, and on the other side of the wall, you can purchase soups, scones and snappy macaroons. I can’t wait to go back and try it out. Almost makes me wish for a car repair now.

Speaking of tea, tomorrow is TranquiliTea’s 10th anniversary. The shop in Plymouth doesn’t have a tea room, but their selection of tea is outstanding. The silver needle was my go-to tea, but I’ll try something new tomorrow. Want to come? They always serve hot tea samples and cookies, and they have the greatest selection of teapots and cups.

I may not be writing these days, but I am playing with paper. In addition to decorating the weekly spreads in my Happy Planner–which I’m beginning to think is one writing distraction–I met my friend to scrapbook at her house yesterday. She made cupcakes. I saw her whip the cream cheese icing with an entire stick of butter. Oh, were those cupcakes good.

She and I are meeting next Friday for a weekend crop. It’s been forever since we went to one of those. Maybe you and I can meet up in downtown Farmington somewhere? There’s a Starbucks not far from the shop. We can chat over coffee and catch up again.

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