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.

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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.

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.

Coffee, cold and a contest

If we were having coffee….

I’m glad you stopped by, but I’m sorry I’m not all social today. I’ve been sick this week. My husband was out of town, so the couch became my best friend. I did nothing except for Starbucks tea trips.

It’s not worth focusing on this week’s ROW80 challenges. Really, going through them number by number every week is just darn depressing. I’m not making the progress I’d hoped for. This week, I can use my illness and a cheesy excuse, but still…. The best thing I can say is that I am breaking everything down into itsy-bitsy steps, no matter how embarrassingly simple they are. Anything to move forward with anything.

Besides, I have to compile my NFPW contest entries. I wish I could blame my sore throat on my procrastination, but I’ve had 31 days to get my words together and submit them. The deadline is February 1, but I don’t know if that means 11:59pm the day before the first or if I have until 11:59pm on February first to get everything complete. Best not to take the chance, so I have to get everything together tonight. I’m only entering in two categories this year–Specialty Craft Articles and Personal Blog–but I’m scrolling through all of my blogposts from 2015 to find ones contest-worthy. Surprisingly, I’m torn between 15 posts and three articles. I wrote some good stuff this year; at least I think so. I have to submit two each as the entry and I only have a couple hours to compile all that.

Shall we go out for another cup of tea? I’ll drive–I am feeling good enough to do that–and you can tell me all about your week.

What makes someone successful?

“Success is a state of mind. If you want success, start thinking of yourself as a success.”~Joyce Brothers, American psychologist

Success is a scary word. If we say we are successful, others may perceive us of bragging. I am superior and you, failing human, are worthless. If we say we are unsuccessful, then we start to shovel ourselves into that six-foot-deep pit.

Some days I’m one; some days I’m the other. Some days I’m both.

One thing that has gone well so far is my instant social media response time. I need to come up with a catchy acronym for that so it makes the process more fun. Aside from email and Facebook, all is going well. My Grand Experiment from this post seems to fit into my style of interaction and planning.

How’s my ROW80 going? Let’s take a look at that:

1–Polish and publish Jimmy the Burglar: Thief of Socks. Not as much progress as I’d hoped for–really, this was supposed to be a quick little piece–but I did share part of Chapter 1 with my Writer’s Group. The feedback was just the critique I needed to move forward. I did a smidge of editing on Friday, but there were a lot of distractions that day.

2–Find and do a blog self-hosting site. Nope, not yet. This To-Do action item keeps getting moved from week to week. I think breaking it down into smaller actions will help. This week’s goal is to explore at least two hosting sites for info about their price and services.

3–Blog and social media planning. I’m doing a little with action sheets and making notes, but this is ongoing. I’m not sure where I want to go on with this.

4–Update my blog pages/site. I’ll save this until I finish the blog self-hosting goal.

5–Fractured finger, heal thyself. Doctor visit this week. I think I’m remarkably flexible, but we’ll see how he says I’m doing.

6–Make progress on memoir My Father, My Friend using Scrivener. First step needs to be resolving my supposed Scrivener problem, and I have yet to deal with that email. It’s probably a 5-minute fix, but it shifts on my To-Do as well.

7–Make time to play. This is the reason I was so lazy and unproductive with my writing and blogging and planning this week. I scrapbooked a few pages in my Happy Planner and obsessed over colors and styles while I watched insanely detailed YouTube videos on it. Just for fun.

8–Do some fun writing. See above.

What makes a success a success? What makes a failure a failure? It is all a state of mind.

A #WeekendCoffeeShare where I discuss my #ROW80 goals

If we were having coffee…

I know, right, three coffee shops to get this right? That first place we tried was just blah. The owner is usually friendlier, but not today. We were almost chased out of the Bookstore Café. If we hadn’t been leaving, we might have been, except I did have a blueberry green tea.

This Starbucks is rather nice.  The chatty baristas just now brightened my day.  Now I feel better.

[My husband is with us and he nods]

Northville is a bit out of our way, but I love the second floor balcony here. This is the first time I’ve ever seen the fireplace on. It’s usually an iceberg in here–one of the reasons my husband and I don’t make it here often–so this is a cool change of pace. It’s a Clover location, so this is always a treat for us coming here. The Nicaragua, that’s my current fave. Smooth and earthy, not flowery or acidic like all those bright summery coffees. If this is the best thing to come with last week’s snow storms, then Yay.

Are you on Twitter much? [Husband sitting next to us sighs, sips his coffee and pulls out his phone] Oh, shoo. I discovered new communities of writers through Twitter chats. There’s so many out there, you gotta check them out. [Turns to husband] Hey, you were out of town this week.

“Yeah, but I brought you home socks,” he says.

Yep, that’s true. Thank you. [Leans over with a kiss on his cheek]

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I’ve been using my Happy Planner to plan out some things for my blog, for my writing. Just last night while I was surfing Instagram, I discovered yet another subculture called Bullet Journaling. I spent waaaaay too much time last night watching YouTube videos, but I found one or two tips I can try out in my evolving system. In fact, thanks to that planner, I have a reminder to update my #ROW80 project goals.

1–Polish and publish Jimmy the Burglar: Thief of Socks. I typed in my latest edits, and that’s as far as I’ve gotten. I’m enjoying my blogging way too much to focus on that, at least last week.

2–Find and do a blog self-hosting site. I now have four leads to check out, all recommended for different reasons. Maybe tomorrow or Wednesday during my reserved writing times I’ll take a pop on over to those sites, maybe just two to start with.

3–Blog and social media planning.
Yep! Success! I’m using my Happy Planner–gosh how I love that, playing with paper and feeling productive!–and developing a schedule. I did create a page for stats across all platforms, and the Followers and Likes is both impressive and not so. It’s hard not to compare others’ perceived successes with mine

4–Update my blog pages/site. Uhhhh…not so much. I’ll have to find time and schedule that in.

5–Fractured finger, heal thyself. Look! Look at this! I bend this much now [holds right forefinger up]. It bends so much, I can almost touch my finger together, which is where the doc wants me to be. But it frustrates me; it’s still swollen, and I think that’s why I can’t bend it all the way. I have an appointment at the end of the month, so we’ll see then.

6–Make progress on memoir My Father, My Friend using Scrivener. Nope. I’ve been working on all this other stuff. Prioritizing? Procrastinating? It’s hard to tell which sometimes.

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7–Make time to play. Yeah, I kinda am. I have reached a point where I am exploding to read a book–and I know which one–but I never sit down and make it happen.

8–Do some fun writing. Whatever that is. Hmmmmm…does Twitter count? What about Instagram captions?

I started a new journal yesterday. It’s a Hello Kitty Moleskine, an exclusive collector edition or something. I bought it at a Chapters bookstore in Windsor, Canada last summer. It’s one of those too-nice-to-use things, but I ripped off the plastic, took the cute bookmarks out of the back pocket, and wrote my first entry in a green pen. You should always have colored ink pens in every bag or purse you carry. Never be without a rainbow.

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?

Resolve to Be the holiday

“The best preparation for tomorrow is doing your best today.”~H. Jackson Brown, Jr., American author

‘Tis the season for rushing and reminiscing.

Who made plans last year? Who set goals for 2015? Who followed through on any of them?

I had a 33% success rate on my Non-Resolutions writing commitments with my Deadwood Writers Group.  That’s not bad.  I don’t feel the least bit guilty.  In fact, I’m excited–totally thrilled–that I accomplished #3.  That has helped me relax a lot.   You can read about my thoughts and refocusing here.

I like Mondays these days.  I have a great work schedule with a solid chunk of writing time smooshed between my two shifts.  I plan and write future blog posts; I catch up on some social media; I edit my book(s); plus, I drink coffee and tea, and occasionally I get a warm pastry.  All I hear from people is that their schedule is outta whack, that they can’t do their normal things because they are rushing around doing everything else.  Hey, I’m not caught up on shopping or wrapping, but this time here–from 12noon until 4pm–is a space that I guard tightly.  I look forward to this every Monday.  I refuse to give it up for anything less than a true emergency.

Routine is important, especially during these rush-n-fuss holidays.  I learned that when I first taught Zentangle classes.  The freehand art form is relaxing and distressing, everything we need at this time in December, but we tell ourselves that there’s no time to relax. There are Important Things to do, yet this is the exact time when we need to stop and breathe.

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He baked cookies for me

I come from a small family, so perhaps I don’t get the self-imposed pressure.  Would anyone really miss the homemade pie?  Would people be disappointed with store-bought greeting cards rather than handmade ones?  Yes, these friends and family members might, but they’re also the first people who would support you in your time of stress.

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He supplied snacks for last weekend’s crop at Casa de la Hirsch

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I was up late last night–or early this morning, whatever your point of view–finishing our Christmas newsletter.  I fell behind in social media and blog post planning.  Email is more under control, but still an obnoxious number to wade through.  My husband took it upon himself to do the final newsletter edit and get the double-sided, full-color document printed at Kinko’s.  He jumpstarted the assembly line of addressing and signing Christmas cards.  I’ll be stuck licking the envelopes, but he has supported me with only one nudge to finish the newsletter by today.  He has not interrupted my precious writing time.  He knows I need this.

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The holidays are not about food or presents; they’re about the gifts we give to each other and ourselves. Be understanding. Be helpful. Be relaxed. Be relaxing. Not everybody’s Monday is likeable or anticipated, so be the Friday that people look forward to.

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