Searches and spiders and Schoolhouse Rock

“Learn from yesterday, live for today, hope for tomorrow.”~Albert Einstein, German physicist

I would disagree with Al’s statement above: rather than “hope” we should “plan” to be more active in our futures.

What does my Internet searches say about me? That was a question posed in a recent Twitter Chat, I believe. That’s a [insert adjective] thought. In just 3 hours of writing in a Starbucks, web-based analytics would show me searching:

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Haiku Horizons #105: Spider

–“Haiku Horizons” (so I could get the apropos link for this week’s haiku challenge, my contribution seen here)
–“Geico squirrel commercial TV”
–“The More You Know NBC” (and clicking on the Will Smith link!)
–Scary as adverb (“senyence grammer scary”)
By the way, “scarily” is the adverb. I’m jolted back to the Schoolhouse Rock I should know.
–“Schoolhouse rock adverb” (to get the title: Lolly, Lolly, Lolly Get Your Adverbs Here)
In a surprising coinkidink, there’s a squirrel in the video.
I bet the song is stuck in your head now. You’re welcome.
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–“Sound of Music title” (it does have “The” at beginning of title)
–“Rochester writers contest” (to revisit the categories and submission requirements)

I also did a few interesting hashtag/user searches on Twitter. I searched this blog for some keywords. I commented on blog posts, posted to Instagram and checked in on Swarm.

And you? What do your searches say about you?

Things that make you go hmmmmmm….

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.

A chill blogging #WeekendCoffeeShare in Detroit

If we were having coffee…

Oh my gosh. Isn’t this the most chill coffeehouse you’ve ever been in? It is for me, and that’s saying a lot. I can’t even call it a “coffeeshop” because that commonplace word doesn’t do this place justice.

Can you believe we were in Philly just a few days ago? It feels like an eternity, but it’s easy to slip back into life here in Michigan.

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Organic coffee and personal service with for-here mugs and water in old milk bottle pitchers

The Bottom Line Coffee in Detroit. For a hole in the wall with a plain black awning out front and the entrance through the side alley, who knew about the local feel in here. I love it when a place serves drinks in for-here mugs. My Americano is smooth. How’s your drink? Are you steady on your wobbly, black wooden chair? It’s a good thing I do those yoga exercises on my WiiFit. Sure, it’s nothing like a real instructor and I don’t expect it to be, but the postures help my balance, so I’m steady perched on my chair.

I feel awkward talking loud with you. It’s whisper quiet in here, a library with a cool, hip vibe. I just Shazamed the music overhead; it’s Chet Baker and now Gene Ammons. It’s good I have a strong espresso drink at my side. My husband’s sitting next to you, but he’s on his laptop, so we have plenty of space to talk.

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Americano, apple empanada and brownie, all necessary for good writing

I just came from the most amazing Motown Writers Network meeting to date! The attendance was the largest I’ve seen since I started going almost two years ago; I lost count after 21 people showed up. Two years. Wow, I hadn’t realized that. I get as much from it as I give. As a published and award-winning author, I have a lot of experience and advice to share. I gain resources from others, like using Fiverr to source out projects or If This Then That (ITTT) as an avenue for social media blasts. I haven’t used either yet, but they come up at every meeting. I will, soon.

Today the meeting was about blogging. A lot of people here were first timers, and many of them didn’t have blogs. At least, not until today. One writer told me he was going home to set up a blog tonight! A good blog has the mobile-friendly setting enabled. A good blog has a subscription list or email form to follow blog. Gosh, I am so behind in doing that. My MailChimp account is set up, but I think I have a few steps to do before I can install it or whatever. I think when we’re done here, I’ll make a list of what I think I need to do first and work from there. I’ll be sure to set up a “Thank you for subscribing” email with a link to something…special, maybe a subscriber-only story or how-to post. Whatever it is, it’ll be cool, so I hope you’ll come back then. I’ll let you know here when I’m ready to go.

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Life is good

What makes a blog get views? Collaborate with other bloggers–are you interested? I write nonfiction, currently memoirs, haiku and my Jimmy The Burglar quirky crime fiction series. We don’t have to write the exact same material to benefit from each other. It’s all about exposure and sharing. Sharing content, too, is a way to get people to your blog. Make sure Share buttons are visible on your site.

The most memorable advice I got from MWN founder Sylvia Hubbard was about sharing. Post snippets of your best works or posts on social media sites and link back to your blog. In her words: “Use your social media as bread crumbs leading back to your site.” I knew that, I’m working on that, but the phrase “bread crumbs” just blew me away. Perfect!

Interested in sharing a French Press? My husband and I were talking about that earlier; I don’t know if he’s too caffeinated already, but we can all share. Get it? I can only imagine the organic Sumatra here is exciting. Besides, I haven’t heard about your week. What’s new with you?

A festive #WeekendCoffeeShare and time management

If we were having coffee…

Here, let’s sit at the dining room table. I finally cleared it off enough that we can use it. There’s room for our musical snowglobe now, my husband’s favorite decoration. Shall I plug it in? The plastic snow blows around as the music plays.

**Music, music, music, the kind that sticks in your head all day.**

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The “front” of my ornament

We put up our tree earlier this year. I always decorate in multi-color lights, and there always has to be a strand or two that blinks. Mom decorated the tree like that when I was little. It’s so fun. Solid white lights are blinding and unimaginative.

How’s your Christmas shopping going? For me, it’s a busy and I’m-still-behind holiday season. But I’m not stressed, not at all. I just finished this Christmas ornament for my Altered Book Club’s exchange tomorrow. See the bling? That’s all jewelry I’ve picked up at yard sales. It’s double-sided, too. Do you like this orange plastic-bead side with Christmas sheet music or the other side with the earrings as the hook and the pearl-diamond deco?

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The “back” of my double-sided ornament

I haven’t wrapped any gifts, let alone shopped for them. I know what I’m getting my husband, just as soon as he leaves the room…**whisper whisper whisper**

Next week at this time, we’ll be — **breaks out in sing-songy voice** — on the road again…to his folks for the holiday week. He’s looking forward to seeing their puppy, Lucky. Me, I’m looking forward to a cataonic state of shopping in AC Moore. Have you ever been? No? Take the best of Michaels and Hobby Lobby, and then throw in some stuff you’ve never seen before, and you’ve got AC Moore. I’m going to see if they carry any unique stuff for my Happy Planner. Let me show you. I’m using up old scrapbook papers and stickers my husband bout me. Isn’t it fun?

It makes me happy to look at, and the to-dos don’t feel so oppressive. It feels good to see what I’m thinking, and to work within my schedule and plan and make sure I don’t steer off track any more than I am. I’m going to scrapbook more and finish my husband’s annual calendar when I’m cropping with my friend next week.

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My socks match the tree.

We have to cut today short because my husband and I are going out to our annual dinner at Ruth’s Chris Steak House. This kicks off his vacation and officially starts our holiday season.  Have a great weekend.  I’m glad you stopped by.

Telling stories in a Twisted way

“Small opportunities are often the beginning of great enterprises.”~Demosthenes, Greek statesman

Tonight, I attended my first Secret Society of Twisted Storytellers event. The name alone sounds intriguing enough to explore.

What is it? It’s people telling stories.

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Welcome, and be social with the Twisted Storytellers

Inside Detroit’s Charles H. Wright Museum of African American History, the founder and host of Twisted Storytellers, Satori Shakoor, told us we would laugh, maybe cry, but whatever our reactions, we’d take something away from this event. I took something away from that 2-hour event:

Intense.

Pause for a moment. Let that sink in.

Intense.

I’ve attended spoken word events, but those are poetic performances. The artists are the center of attention. These readings often feel fake, in a William Shatner-esque overdrama way.  Twisted Storytellers was the complete opposite of that: the stories are the focus. And they are real.

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I needed this stiff drink after the first 3 power-full performances

This was honest. No playacting here. Each storyteller stands on a small circular stage under a single, bright spotlight, filmed for the Twisted YouTube channel. Tonight’s theme was Family Clan, so the storytellers talked about their personal family history. A blind woman talked of her childhood sexual abuse and the probability that any child she had would be born blind. A man described in serious humor his Korean War experience and the military’s attention to detail regarding venereal disease. A Mexican tap dance troupe telling a story of love through music. A man shared his experience growing up as a Jehovah’s Witness.

You would think that all stories need to be deep and dramatic, but I expect that some nights are lighter than others. For sure, the man describing the VD preventative measures was a rousing comedian in his own right.

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I was this close: the view from front row

The final storyteller was Mary Eatmon, author of 9 Houses, the woman I came to support.  Her story described rape, child-rearing and how that affected choices she made as an adult. I imagine she was nervous. I know I would be; the setting is intimidating as much as it is intimate. Sharing your story is brave. It’s one thing to tell your friends around while sitting on your living room couch; it’s a different level talking to strangers. Solitary as she was on stage, would she fully appreciate the audience’s reactions?

I heard the inward gasps of sympathy as she described her husband. The soft moans as she described her children’s upbringing. The sighs of pity and the laughter at her changing attitude as an adult. I told her all these reactions afterwards. I was right: she had not heard all the audience’s reactions and wondered if she was entertaining enough. She was that, and more.

She was intense. The whole night was.

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Relax for fan photos: me & Mary

I will be back.

Maybe someday I’ll tell my story on that stage.

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.

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.

There’s a haiku on the horizon

“Very few of us are what we seem,”~Agatha Christie, English writer

Check out the poetic entries at Haiku Horizons. This week’s theme: song.

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Haiku Horizons #66: song

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