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.

Let’s try this #ROW80 thing again

“Write it on your heart that every day is the best day in the year.”~Ralph Waldo Emerson, American poet

It’s that time of year for resolution and Round of Words.

I didn’t keep up with ROW80 much last round. It seemed like a good idea, all that accountability, but I’ve set goals on so many sites that it was hard to remember to follow up and post there. Now it’s a new year and I’m still anti-Resolution, so you wont see any of that nonsense here. Goals, however, are a different matter….

My Detroit writers group, Motown Writers Network, starts each monthly meeting with a recap and projection of everyone’s 30-Day Challenge. Smaller bites, easier chunks, and three 30-Days equals one ROW80.

My next MWN meeting is this Saturday, January 9th. Pulling out my journal, my December goals were:

1–Publish Jimmy the Burglar: Thief of Socks.
2–New business cards
3A–Blog planning
3B–Blog self-hosting
4–Memoir/Scrivener
5–Heal fractured finger
6–Read blogs

These are my results:
1–Jimmy is not published. It’s just as well; I had enough activity in December with Christmas, holiday plans, and visiting family. As family members get older, spending time with them is not sacrificing writing. But it’s a NaNoWriMo story that I’m actually working towards completion, and I have a solid rough 2nd draft at the moment. I consider that success.

2–I still have old biz cards, and I have no idea what I want new ones to look like. It’s a rebranding of me, and something I will get to later in the year. I have other things to set in place first…like…

3A–YES! I am developing a system of blog planning, writing down a schedule and ideas and all that. Yes, I am all that, and more. It’s a work in progress, but I’ve started it. I expect by the end first quarter, I’ll have a good schedule to work from.

3B–I lumped this in with 3A initially, but it really is a separate step. It’s probably really simple, but it’s unknown; therefore, I have postponed it.

4–Laziness = No. The holidays are over, no travel or big projects loom ahead, so now it’s time to read the email and fix what I may or may not have screwed up back in September.

5–YES, mostly. I’m exercising the muscles, I have a lot more motion, but the swelling is still there. I’ll keep this on my list because it is ongoing.

6–No. This is now part of #3A. My “blog planning” includes social media activity, and I’m fitting that into my schedule slowly. I’ve caught up; now the goal is to maintain.

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How could I NOT buy this eternal shirt?

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:

1–Polish and publish Jimmy the Burglar: Thief of Socks. Possibly I’ll find an editor along the way.
2–Find and do a blog self-hosting site. Two folks from my critique group, Deadwood Writers, have offered assistance. Just sit down with them or read their emails and as the shoe company says, just do it.
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3–Blog planning. Besides planning and drafting posts, this includes developing a regular schedule for:
…..3A–Twitter
…..3B–Instagram
…..3C–Facebook Author Page (shudder; I dislike FB)
…..3D–Amazon Author Page
…..3E–Reading more blogs
4–Update my blog: About Me; Resources; all that and any new tabs. This may be ongoing, but start somewhere, woman!
5–Fractured finger, heal thyself.
6–Make progress on memoir My Father, My Friend using Scrivener. What do I define as “progress?” I’m breaking the rules here, but I’m leaving that vague for now. Anything I do is more than I’ve done at this moment of typing.
7–Make time to play. Be it scrapbooking, playing in my blog-planning planner, mixed-media art, massages, whatever…make time for me.
8–Do some fun writing. Whatever that is!

Let’s start there and see where the first quarter takes me. What about you? Where is your first 3 months taking you…or where are you taking your first 3 months?

Writing tools that are practical and fun to use

“You can’t blame gravity for falling in love.”~Albert Einstein, German physicist

The only reason I completed NaNoWriMo this year was with the incentive of buying myself The Big Reward.

Material goods are great motivators, and if self-bribery helps you write, go for it!  It was mid-November, and I was watching Instagram-inspired YouTube videos rather than writing my NaNoWriMo novel.  You see, I’d stumbled upon photos of this sub-culture in the crafting community who were scrapbooking in monthly day planners.  Yes, that old school paper date planner that 10 years ago you could only buy in office supply stores.

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I used paper planners ever since college when I needed a paper datebook to keep track of my exams and projects and parties.  Flash forward to 2010, the time when I was using my smartphone’s calendar to record my dentist braces appointments as well as in my datebook paper.  The duplication was annoying and time consuming.  My husband wondered why I was doing this  because, outside of his work, he’d made the seamless switch to smartphone calendar.  It took me months of me guiltily leaving my paper datebook in my bag before I was comfortable scheduling appointments on my phone.  Soon the paper was obsolete, a perfect analogy to print books and paper in general.

Back to the Big Reward.  I saw some planners in person when I bought my annual 8″x 8″ scrapbook calendar Christmas gift for my husband.  A woman browsing the same aisle was looking at planner tools and inserts.  We talked about the madness and the desire, just as any scrapbooker has with paper and stickers.  I left the store with the thought, I have to get one.

While I continued procrastinating Nano anyway I could, I stumbled across a YouTube channel of someone using her planner to plan her social media life:  blog posts, YouTube videos, Twitter schedule and more. Here was justification: I could make a practical use of a planner.

There were other synergistic activities occurring in my life–thoughts I’ll share in future posts–that made a planner play-full and now practical.

But this obsession meant more procrastination which I could not word-ly afford.  So I bartered with myself: I can buy myself one only if I successfully complete NaNoWriMo.  I learned that I can write 5000+ words a day, and that was how I succeeded writing 50,721 words in 16 days.

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It was eye-opening and inspiring to see that I could do that.  I had the time if I made the time.  It encouraged me, especially since I fished a 25,000-ish word story out of my misplelled NaNoNonsense: Jimmy the Burglar: Thief of Socks.  The subject and storyline was inspired by my original Story Cubes set as well as conversations I’ve had on Instagram.  I am working towards publishing this by the end of the year.  Now, thanks to my Happy Planner, I have a plan.  I’ve blocked off specific days and times to write or complete specific tasks.  Having them written down helps me see what I need to do and what I have completed.  I also put some social activities in there; it’s never too late to have a party.  It’s satisfying and more encouraging to see check marks in my to-do boxes.

If you’re planning a writing goal for 2016, be sure to plan your own Big Reward for success.  I’m excited to see how this helps move me forward.

Feeling okay with a less-than-perfect NaNoWriMo word count

“I can’t change the direction of the wind, but I can adjust my sails to always reach my destination.”~Jimmy Dean, American actor

It’s third way thru NaNoWriMo and I am not ashamed at my word count, or lack of word count.

Those 8 words represent my name and title.

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I’m not worried about word count because I am incredible.

Early November is always challenging for me. There’s usually a Penn State football game my husband and I travel to around that time. This year, in fact, it was Halloween weekend, and I signed up for NaNoWriMo around 11:30pm on October 31. Our wedding anniversary falls mid-October–which should not be an excuse–but when travel or events are planned for that, there’s little time for me to settle back into a routine before any football games arrive. This year, my work schedule changed the last week of October–just before the football game, which we won big! over Illinois–and I’m still rearranging my life around that change.

And, I’ll admit it, I had no idea what I wanted to write about, but I did have a format. This year, I’m breaking away for the norms. NaNoWriMo is intended to be the inspirational event for you to write the first 50,000 words of your fiction novel, but in my past NaNo years, I wrote those words and then left them to rot in some folder-in-a-folder on my computer. I was never inspired by the stories after that.

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I’m important and incredible!

My previous 8-Hour short stories, however, have proved successful, so I’m choosing to do more of them. The idea is one 12,500-ish story per week, something easy enough to edit and ePublish by the end of the year. I’m more invested that way, and I’ll have something to show for my toils and tribulations this month.

Always be kind to yourself, words written or not, other goals met or not. You wouldn’t say to “you failed” to your best friend because he or she wrote only 43,177 words, so don’t say that to yourself. Ever! About anything.

I’m not ashamed of that word count because that work schedule change opened up more potential writing windows of opportunity that I can–and am–taking advantage of. Also, by releasing the Zentangle aspect of my life earlier this year, I have freed my mind from that distraction. I have the time and the will to focus on my true passion and talent: writing.

Word count is calling to me. I now have a great idea–well, ideas–for what to write about. Let’s see how that goes before I share them here.

Writing and living and #ROW80 updating

“The only way to make sense out of change is to plunge into it, move with it, and join the dance.”~Alan Watts, English philosopher

A sleepy, sluggish week and sluggish weekend makes for a sluggish checkin. But I did make some progress on my ROW80 writing list:

2–DAD’S MEMOIR:
I did finally finish the long Scrivener tutorial. The whole task gave me a headache, and I think I deleted something (vital?) from the program and/or tutorial. While I’m waiting to hear from the developers what I did (wrong?) and how to fix it (if needed), I’ll spend time this week typing up the edits. I have extra writing time in my schedule now, so I can do that.

3–CATCH UP OLD BLOG POSTS
Not so much, but I am keeping more current with my regular blogging schedule. That makes me feel good, making it easier to let go of anything that is hanging on too long. Gotta get rid of the bad karma however possible.

6–UPDATE MY AUTHOR SITES
I updated some of my blog pages. It’s fun, and it still feels selfish playtime. I’m struggling to decide on self-hosting options, so future updates may wait until that happens. I’m flexible, and I’m still translating that strategy which looks so good in my mind’s eye into print.

7–WRITE BOOKS
This is now tied into my NaNoWriMo adventure. I’m planning several shorter stories rather than a messy draft of text I may never touch again. I haven’t started yet because I cannot decide what to write. November is 1/3 done, so I need to step it up and just write.

A change in my work schedule added some writing chunks of time. I added those times to my calendar. A new addition is pre-planning what to work on each day. I don’t know how well it will work, but the days I have followed those plans, my writing was focused and productive. Who knew planning could be so easy and helpful?

A #WeekendCoffeeShare of writing…failures?

“Always remember that you are absolutely unique. Just like everyone else.”~Margaret Mead, American scientist

If we were having coffee, I might be dozing off. It’s been a long week. I guess I haven’t caught up on sleep from last weekend’s trip to State College for the Penn State-Illinois football game. We ate too much, stayed up too late, shopped way too much, cheered until we couldn’t speak, and just other general alumni rowdiness.

My writing has fallen off this week, and I guess that’s just part of life, the universe and everything. I signed up for NaNoWriMo at 11:30pm on October 31, and my current word count is six, I think, and that’s because I typed in a proposed title. My idea with NaNo this year is bucking against the “rules” to write 50,000 words of one novel. I plan to write 3-4 short stories, easy enough to edit and ePublish by the end of the year. That’s a good use of my November, rather than draft another novel-I’ve-always-wanted-to-write just to have it sit in a file on my computer.

Other writing goals are sluggish. I did finish my Scrivener tutorial. What a mentally exhausting task that was. In the process, I seem to have muffed up the program itself, so I’m awaiting response from the developers to see what I did. MailChimp is proving to be not as easy as others said it would be, or else I’m making more of it than I should.

I haven’t submitted anything to my writers’ group in a few months, but I did discuss with them the options of self-hosting this blogsite and finally using the domain name I’ve been hanging onto for about 5 years. At least I planned ahead for that.

My husband’s off sulking because Penn State didn’t win this week’s football game. I’m a bit bummed myself. It came down to one play–a poor play call, even I could tell–but a lot of games this season have been won by one final play.

Grab an Oreo cookie to-go; we have plenty left from my Halloween blog party. Have a safe drive home, and I’ll see you next week.

One word describes my #ROW80 midweek checkin

“Happiness depends on ourselves.”~Aristotle, Greek philosopher

I’ll admit, I’ve been feeling guilty about not #ROW-ing down the river. Figuratively, of course; I neither own a boat nor would I take it out in this cold weather if I did.

So let’s do something about that, I scolded myself. Gently scolding, as I am fragile some days.

1–EMAIL CLIENT:
I found my old gmail email address. That’s not a bad step. I even wrote that down so I remember it. Now I hope I remember not to throw away that piece of paper.

2–DAD’S MEMOIR:
I want to finish the tutorial, but haven’t yet. That’s exhausting, but I want to know the skeleton bones of it all before using it on a real WIP. If that’s accomplished by end of November, I’m cool with that.

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That’s right; it’s all about ME!

3–CATCH UP OLD BLOG POSTS
Not yet, but I have been doing something exciting: writing current blog posts. That is energizing, to write without expectation or as part of a To-Do list. I will have to address that To-Do stuff, but for now, I’m keeping up. Wow! That is freeing! Maybe the motivation to do what I insist on myself I gotta do.

4–SCHEDULE SOCIAL MEDIA TIME
Nah. My work schedule has shifted, so I’m now rearranging my time. That schedule change, however, has provided me with another afternoon I “Reserve for writing time!” I added emoji here to make it more approachable and friendly.
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5–NEW BLOGSITES AND FOLLOWERS AND WHATNOT
I have no idea how I want to proceed with this.

6–UPDATE MY AUTHOR SITES
Today I played on my blog. I deleted some stuff on my Zentangle page; that needs a serious editing. I began revising my About Me page, but since it’s not complete, my page look half-naked. Any ideas for what you like? Do? Would want to see?

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First step to success: make your work atmosphere fun

7–WRITE BOOKS
I’ve been thinking…maybe use NaNoWriMo time for this…?? That’s not the “official” approach of event, but 50K words is 50K words.

8–SEEK OUT NEW IN-PRINT WRITING VENUES
Nope. Not a thought in the wind.

9–PRINT OUT THIS LIST
YES!! Finally! And I’m marking up that list like a book’s rough draft. Today’s color: pink ink.

So it goes: success, no success. All progress.

Writing thoughts on how to be successful

“Life is a mirror and will reflect back to the thinker what he thinks into it.”~Ernest Holmes, American Theologist

“I want to be a writer.”

I hear this from strangers. I hear this from my writers group. I hear this from NaNoWriMo participants and winners. I also hear it from published authors.

I am a writer.

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NFPW 2014 National Award for my Star Trek book

I’ve often imagined being interviewed on TV or for a magazine–who hasn’t?–and I would say “I’m a good writer. No, I’m a great writer. I also know I can learn more and my craft can be refined.”

I don’t need validation to prove I’m a great writer, but it sure doesn’t hurt!

Maybe you’re someone who just picks up a pen and scribbles words and images. What do you want to be? Are you a writer? Are you an artist? You have to believe in yourself and, if necessary, prove to yourself that you are what you want to be.

Even though I am a great writer, I need to remind myself. How do I do that?

Well, I write.

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The first Michigan Scrapbooker article with my new headshot

I am fortunate to have publishing opportunities, like writing two columns for Michigan Scrapbooker Magazine. My latest article combines my love of writing with scrapbooking funky little mini albums. Check out my current article creating map mini albums, pages 18-19. Don’t stop there. Explore all the digital issues. Support this free, magazine, especially if you live in Michigan.

I belong to an awesome writing critique group, Deadwood Writers. It’s tough to find a strong support network, but these people are that. They cut apart my submitted manuscripts into teeny tiny word scraps, and I love them for that. I took writing classes in college, and those classes taught me to have a thick skin when it comes to suggested revisions. I get nothing from people who comment, “Oh, that’s a nice piece.” The most useful thing is for someone to tell me, “This sentence doesn’t work. This whole paragraph is redundant. You’re telling us, not showing us. Consider rewriting this whole page.” To those people, I say, Thank You! The story is mine to write, the direction is mine to write, but it’s good to know what is confusing or awkward to others.

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Instagram images by writer me!

So we practice writing. One year ago, the group began a website, Deadwood Writers Voices. I have a monthly column. My blog posts appear on the 18th of the month, and they tend to focus on my adventures in self publishing. My latest post discusses how I use Instagram to promote my writing and discover a community.

Twitter is another place I find a community of people and writers who share wisdom and knowledge, and they have fun playing in 140 characters or less. One user, @WriterlyTweets, does a weekly six-word story challenge. My Tweet this week was popular and shared, or retweeted, almost a dozen times. It may not seem like a lot, but I’m feeling the Twitter Love. How can you not put six simple words out there? Success and belief starts with small steps. Six words is a good starting point.

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Twitter Love from other writers

I also find outlets to give me a fresh perspective on writing. Coffee shops are my favorite. Yes, I am that trendy hipster sitting in the corner, typing on my laptop or scribbling revisions on copy paper and notepads. You can also find the unexpected in places like that. An independent bookstore in Ann Arbor, Literati, just opened a coffee shop on the second floor. That’s it: a coffee shop. The Espresso Bar serves coffee and espresso drinks. No pastries, no sandwiches, nothing to distract you from the fresh locally-roasted coffee. The basement, however, houses nonfiction books and…hold your breath…a typewriter. No, a real typewriter. Completely manual. The carriage return level must be pushed by hand to move down to the next line.

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Remember when you had to hold your breath lest you made a mistake? Or maybe you don’t recall any machine that didn’t have spellcheck. Whether it’s a throwback or discovery for you, the store encourages you to type thoughts of wisdom or craziness or just words. I can’t resist myself, and I make it a point to carefully compose words before I leave. The deliberateness of it all, the tentative way my fingers hover over the keys, the purposeful punch each finger makes…it all scares me and frees me. This is my latest contribution, a haiku about writing.

Do you have a place to inspire you to create you? If not, find one!

I published my third book!

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

Ninjas, puppies, budding romance, trashy sitcoms and family values. Just in time for the holidays: my first fiction book!

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This is a big deal in many ways, but first the “fiction” part. When is that last time I spun a web of imagination? Other than last year’s NaNoWriMo–which is a bit of cheating because I’ve had that story written in my head since I was a teenager–I can’t recall. that’s sad. I haven’t played with words in months or years, then where’s the fun of writing?

I don’t discount my nonfiction work one letter, but those stories have already been told. It’s my job to make them entertaining to people outside my circle of friends and family. Trust me, that is plenty challenging.

This is my third book. Third! I created this. I will never get tired of that heady, punch-drunk happiness of seeing my name in print. It’s an ego thing, and all writers have that. Deal with it.

This was a challenge I posted on the Deadwood Writers Voices blog: write and publish a book in 10 hours. Yes, much akin to JA Konrath’s 8-hour eBook challenge, but I factored in formatting time.

The point of this challenge is to set a deadline, meet that deadline and then release it into the world to say, “I did this!” Now that it’s out there, would I change anything? You bet! I’d add in this little tale I forgot, or I’d enhance this sentence with three more descriptive words, or if move those two paragraphs around, or I’d add one more line of conversation…. But like a school final exam, when the bell rings, you hand in your assignment and that’s it.

Rather than stress, however, there’s also the aspect of writing for fun, like most authors, I’d presume, did as kids. I know I could fill a spiral-bound notebook with stories about dragons and unicorns and horses and sword-wielding princesses on a rainy afternoon. I wrote for nobody. I wrote because I had to. I wrote because that’s what I did.

I found that fun again with Jimmy the Burglar. He’s smart and skilled, but he’s bumbling and clumsy. Jimmy is honest, yet he steals things. His parents and older brother have set the bar so high that Jimmy could walk under it standing straight and wearing a top hat. From the rough draft to my finished 5300 words, I cut and condensed so much cool stuff that I have a whole series to explore. I’m looking forward to writing again.

That’s how it should be. I succeeded with all aspects of this challenge.

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