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.

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Advice on writing in this edition of #WeekendCoffeeShare

Food for the body is not enough; there must be food for the soul.~Dorothy Day, American activist

If we were having coffee, we would most certainly be indoors.

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Tuscan Café, downtown Northville

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The cruller is big as Finse. He and Snufflet could eat it themselves, but Guys share

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We’d be drinking coffee in this quiet café, the kind of place that is a blend of hipster hangout and breakfast-diner restaurant where older people meet and discuss the weather. It’s cold and rainy outside, a strange combo for Michigan in June, but I’d exclaim how happy I am that the coat I wore has gloves in the pockets!
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If we were having coffee, I would totally share my sourdough cruller with you, fresh from a local bakery. I love supporting local, and I know that you’d be tempted to take an apple fritter to go. I just did that, and there’s still two left.
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I’d also gush about my exciting writing news. Of the three entries I submitted to the NFPW Communications Contest, two of them placed nationally. I saw the email subject line and I couldn’t click “open” fast enough. My 10-hour fiction book Jimmy the Burglar won third place! Last year, the memoir about my Mom and our love of Star Trek also placed third. That is such a hoot! I wrote it one a whimsy, and was floored when it won first place at the state level. Only first place entries move on to Nationals. The fact that it actually placed tickles me. I’m sharing this with my Deadwood Writers Group on Wednesday, and they are going to be thrilled!

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My book won first place in Michigan and NFPW contests, then third place at National

I don’t know which stuns–and pleases–me more: that or Second Place awarded to me for my arts-n-crafts articles I wrote for Michigan Scrapbooker Magazine. Last year, my articles earned an Honorable Mention. This year…wowzer!

I’m intrigued to read the comments from the judges. I expect to receive similar criticisms for my book as I did last year. I wonder about my articles. I have ideas why they placed so high, but I won’t speculate here. My creative editor allows me to write whatever topics I want, but I can’t just write with abandon; I have an audience to write for, and that inherently has limitations. But I wrote well enough to place.

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My second place award winning articles: apps for scrapbooking and art journaling techniques

“How do you it?” you ask. I just do. Sounds like a cop-out, but I’m a good writer. I know that. I believe in me, and belief in you is how you do it. In fact, I’m a great writer, bold enough to know my skills yet humble enough to know that I can always be better. That’s why the critiques alone are worth the entry fees. You learn by doing, and an outsider’s eye is the best way for a fresh perspective.

My husband has left for a week-long business trip overseas this morning, so I’m glad for the company. I’m writing–catching up on old blog posts and planning future ones–but it’ll be quiet when I get home. That’s one of the reasons I’m about to get my second coffee refill: I’ll be alone at home. I’m planning to get snuggle on the couch with my new DVD, Mockingjay Part 1. Who knows what else the night will hold?

I’d end by saying, “Let’s hop on over to Part Time Monster’s blog to read what everyone else is sharing this weekend over coffee or tea.

Writing tips and a super coffeeshop on this #WeekendCoffeeShare

“If you haven’t learned the meaning of friendship, you really haven’t learned anything.”~Muhammad Ali, American athlete

Today was not only a productive writing day, but I learned valuable information about promotion and marketing.

If we were having coffee, it would be my third cup today, and it would certainly not compare to the smooth afternoon cups I had at Great Lakes Coffee Roasting Company in midtown Detroit. I spent a delight-full afternoon writing with my husband. Yes, he wrote, too. We drank a Brazil cacao-pineapple-cinnamon blend and ate locally-produced Almond and Apricot croissants. We sat together, across the table from each other. He finished a blog post for his music website. I wrote an article draft and listed writing goals for the next 30-days. We wrote, relaxed, and I was not rushed one minute. That’s good because I had a lot to write about.

He drove me to my monthly Motown Writers Network meeting today. As a writer, I’m always looking for outlets to learn, be inspired and, well, network. MWN was founded by author Sylvia Hubbard, and she presented tips for summer promotion.

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The Guys and I wrote two blog posts, drank two cups of coffee and planned out my 30-Day Writing Challenge

Why summer specifically? Summer is full of vacation and travel, and this is the time when readers download stacks of eBooks into their tablets for lazy reading. Sylvia lead us through tips that worked for her and others.

If we were having coffee, I’d share with you the three best tips I got from today’s meeting.

One, offer book excerpts on your website. Give people a reason to want to buy your book. Two, use social media to drive traffic to your website. Post something like: “I did [this] today; read about it on my website [here].” Statements like that whisk readers off to read that excerpt or explore your blog in general. Three, use summertime to promote other books. If you have a book published, comment on books that are similar to yours. If you don’t have a book published yet, then share books you adore reading and recommend.

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This is what writing productivity looks like

There were other cool tips about using stylus pens as promotional swag, offering Amazon gift cards for contests on your site and guest blogging for other bloggers. However, if we were having coffee, I’d tell you that it’s been a long day and time for another nap. Yes, another; my LoveSac already sucked me in once. You’re welcome to stretch out in the LoveSac, but beware: it has the power to lull you into super-beanbag comfort and resistance is futile to not nap. If you have to drive home, I’d suggest we meet for coffee next weekend.

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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Do you remember when…?

“Frustration, although quite painful at times, is a very positive and essential part of success.”~Bo Bennett, American businessman

I didn’t intend that quote to be reflective of this blogpost; it’s just serendipity.

Today is December 1. I’m reading social media posts about personal success (or failure) of NaNoWriMo. I did not participate because I had other writing obligations that were more important to me this year than cranking out 50,000 words, but I know I would have won. I’m stubborn like that. My perspective on NaNo is that if you have more written words on November 30 than you did on November 1, then you succeeded. In that sense, I succeeded because I wrote more words in my memoir and in my Day-Night story.

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Since it is December, a lot of people are looking to the end of the month for the end of the year. I’m jumping in here to be a persnickety trendsetter and reflect on the past now. I hate getting lost in the flux of it all.

The Photo365 app reminds me of the month that has passed. “Should auld acquaintance be forgot, and never brought to mind?” November was exciting: hearing Alice Walker read her poetry in person; reading my current Michigan Scrapbooker Magazine article published as the centerfold; traveling to Illinois for the Penn State football game; wearing funky socks for funny feet; watching the new season of Major Crimes; and recalling family traditions.

I have become so dependent on my smartphone. The Timehop app accessed my past December 1s, and last year’s Photo365 calendar popped up.

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Even the Photo365 app has changed look

Last year, I participated in NanoWriMo and won. There’s a lot of NaNo in that month. Artwork and Zentangle. Games. Starbucks. Coffee. Thanksgiving stuffing once again. New restaurants. Random roses and holiday Peeps from my husband.

How awesome is that?!?

So many things that get lost in the shuffle, especially as we enter the Mega Holiday Month of December. Do you want to capture your memories? Just do this. Write a short journal entry. Scrapbook one 4″x6″ photo on an 8″x8″ page. Post a random conversation on Facebook. It’s as easy as that. Really.

Need some inspiration for a starting point? Check out the Fat Mum Slim blogsite for the Photo a Day challenge. There’s an app for that, and an active community on Instagram posting images.

I’m participating in the #fmsphotoaday challenge most days, having become more active on Instagram. “A natural social media site for you, a scrapbooker,” a friend commented. Come check out my Instagram images. I’ve almost reached 500 posts. Be there to witness the momentous event!

Consider the prompts as beginnings for a journal entry, a piece of art, or a Tweet. The idea is to be creative; how can you choose that creativity? Remember, if you save one more memory or create one more piece of art by December 31 than you did on December 1, you are a success.

A month in review: thank you, Photo 365

“The true sign of intelligence is not knowledge but imagination.”~Albert Einstein, German physicist

I made art.  I was creative.

I played games.  I won and lost, but friendly competition. 

I earned 5000 coins in Word Science and 100,000 coins in Bejeweled Blitz. Doesn’t beat my one million mark, but none too shabby

I started a new job.  I was productive.

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August 2014: coffee, games and being stylish

I visited new places: an apple orchard, a coffee shop.  I was adventurous.

I set new records in Foursquare.  I am happy because it is still working.  I was determined.

I received football tickets and a homemade breakfast tailgate.  I was Penn State proud!

I looked good with stylin’ clothes and a new ‘do.  I was pretty.

I taught Zentangle classes.  I was successful.

I traded text messages with my husband. He agreed that I was pretty. I was loved.

And that’s just what I saved in my Photo 365 app. There’s so much more.

What was your month like? Do share.

Craft shows and Zentangle: are they worth it?

“A loving heart is the truest wisdom.”~Charles Dickens, English writer

Craft shows are tricky little things. Who shows up? What are they looking for? Did I bring enough stuff? Did I just waste my time?

I like to venture out and explore area shows. It’s a great way to meet other artists and crafters, as well as make connections. As long as you feel the table rental cost is worth it, then the time spent is not wasted.

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Display table with some of the CZT6 Guys

This little craft show popped up in Northville, MI. The town itself is a cute, artsy place with boutique shops, an art house and an outdoor cement patio where bands perform. My husband likes to buy bread from the local bread place. I don’t like their breads, but I adore the samples of the sweet and rockin’ cinnamon swirl bread. The Starbucks is the only Clover Reserve coffeehouse in the area. The small bookstore has an eclectic mix of new and local author books, and their café makes a mean cup of tea. There are some really tasty breakfast spots along main street, and one of the few remaining area scrapbook stores which offers an array of mixed media classes.

The show was held at a church outside the town square during a Shop Local weekend fair. Too much activity going on to attract a large attendance of browsers. Sales were abysmal.

That said, I made some contacts and introduced Zentangle to a lot of people who had never heard of the artform before. The really cool part: I gained my first commissioned Zentangle art, a wedding present with the bride and groom names hidden among the tangles. What fun!

Worth it? Oh, yeah.

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Like a CZT can leave a nametag blank

Remember the good times

“Life is really simple, but we insist on making it complicated.”~Confucius, Chinese philosopher

Playing games. Stylin’ a new haircut. Stuffed animals and Slurpees.

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Always send spontaneous happy texts or make surprise phone calls.

A bird on the back deck. Coffee and coffee, then throw in a little more coffee. Toss in a little writing and a smidge of art, and you have a recipe for fun days.

All’s fair in art and car repair

“Anger is never without a reason, but seldom with a good one.”~Benjamin Franklin, American politician

My car needed to be repaired. My auto shop is in downtown Ann Arbor. This week is the annual Art Fair in Ann Arbor. Gee…I scheduled my appointment for today and got free, convenient parking. What a coinkidink.

Technically, it was not free–did I mention car repair?–but since it needed to be done anyway….

Top 10 Things I Did at the 2014 Art Fair
(in no particular order because they were all cool)

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1–Stopped and listened to street bands. This one took my request for a “harmonica song” and did not play Billy Joel.
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2–Cherry Republic. The cherry tortilla chips are amazing.
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3–Mighty good coffee from Mighty Good Coffee.
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4–I purchased a PennState-Scrabble necklace charm from a crafter in Local on Liberty art fair in King’s Court.
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5–Free vendor food and drink, like this “cereal sampler” in a cardboard tray.
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6–Human car Transformer. Check out my Vine video.
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7–Walking = much needed exercise, and the temperature was perfect in upper 60s/low 70s.
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8–Free used key blanks from Vogel’s Lock and Safe on Washington St. A media maven’s paradise. (Thank you!)
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9–Making my husband jealous by sending him pics of my food, especially the three cheese mac-n-cheese with pulled pork from Blue Tractor BBQ & Brewery. Sharing with my Office Guys, of course.

10–Wine slushies.

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