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.

April 1: Art and #AtoZChallenge

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“A sense of humor is a major defense against minor troubles.”~Mignon McLaughlin, American writer
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Welcome to Day 1 of the AtoZ Blog Challenge. Today I feel more Zzzzzz than Awake. April is just one of those busy months. And, really, how did it become the 4th month of 2016 already?

I chose an easy enough theme this year so I could actually complete AtoZ this year, and I totally forgot what April is. April is National Poetry Month. That I knew, but I wasn’t thinking about that at all when I decided to do Alphabet Haiku as my AtoZ Challenge.

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What I didn’t know is that this year marks the 20th anniversary of National Poetry Month. The social media hashtag #NationalPoetryMonth is exploding throughout the creative writing world.

Creating writing and catching up is just another theme with me this month, as I will complete the remaining letters of last year’s AtoZ Challenge: 26 Ways to Distract a Writer. Did you ever have one of those nagging things that you just can’t let go of, no matter how practical or useful it is to do that? For me, last year’s AtoZ is that. I’ll post those new links here as they get posted, which means you’ll have to come back every day if you want to find out how Jayne and her Writerself tale ends…for now.

If you want an idea of what Jayne is up to, read about her first day on the procrastination journey here.

Art is something I’ve struggled with lately, from Artist Trading Cards to Zentangle. I was an active member on ATCs For All, a delightfully creative online site for people to trade art with other artists. One of the most delightful events there was the monthly Bizarre Holiday Swap. Even my husband enjoyed seeing those cards! This is a mixed-media card I made from one of the those swaps:


Today’s Bizarre Holiday: One Cent Day. One cent and the 1st day of April. No April Fools here.

It’s been awhile since I’ve created art like that. I stepped back from that because I lost the interest and the thrill. I know when I feel the pull of it again, I’ll enjoy it even more.

For now, I’m enjoying my poetry journey. I hope you do, too.

Marshmallow Peeps, ghosts and friendship: a #ThrowbackThursday post

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Rediscovering Zentangle in a coffeeshop

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

Today, I am doing just that.

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

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

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

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

Until today.

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

Where was she a year ago?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Notice how it disappears off the edges into beautiful nothingness

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

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

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

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Together: the tools of inspiration and creation

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

I’m relearning, too. Stay tuned.

Party On! the first weekly #ThrowbackThursday bloghop

Who wants to PARTY…!?!?!

The newest blog party has hit the Internetosphere: #ThrowbackThursday Link Party. You can read all the fine print here on the Official Link Page, but I’ve summarized it below.

The three co-hosts of this adventure are:
Adventures of a Jayhawk Mommy, a woman who writes “about my life. I enjoy reading, cooking, and drinking way too much caffeine; basically anything I need to do to survive motherhood.”
Part-Time Monster, a blogger who is “a reader, writer, and observer, a lover of strange and impossible things, a feminist, and a pop culture nerd.”
The Qwiet Muse, a newish blogger self-described as someone who writes “about about life and love, the good and the bad, the serious and the silly to retain what is left of my sanity.”

What makes this bloghop so different from the rest?
This party is about sharing blog posts from our past…30 days or older. “You can shine it up so it sparkles again or just leave it as it is. You might want to include an update at the end or not. It’s all up to you.”

There is only One Rule:
1–The post you add must be at least 30 days old. The older, the better.

The party starts on…you guessed it!…Thursdays every week. Revisit a favorite post from your past and post your link here, anytime between each Wednesday through Sunday night.

Don’t forget to read and share some love to the other posts in the link up. 
My inaugural post is yet another example of what The Universe tells me is my February theme: revisit the little things.

Today is about the choices you make

“People may hear your words, but they feel your attitude.”~John C. Maxwell, American clergyman

It’s little things that change your day and alter your mood.

It was a crazy day at work in the morning. I mean, weird crazy busy. I was a bit cranky because of that and rescheduling doctor appointments and then having my “regular” table at Starbucks occupied.

I was settling into the less-than-perfect table when the guy next to me waves at me and points. He wears an orange knit cap and bright orange t-shirt, jamming to some music he was listening to. He pulled his headphones off to say that he liked my socks. “Those are cool socks,” he said, grinning and nodding his head in respect for someone who is funky enough to wear multi-colored plaid socks. At least that’s what I like to think. Day brightened!

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Goodbye January. Hello Month 2!

That’s a good thing because I am still torn from last night’s contest entries in the Specialty Craft Articles and Personal Blog categories. Dare I say, I write too well to choose just two entries each? That is a darn good problem to have.

I am a writer. I say that with no shame. Yes, I am a talented writer. Ditto, no shame. I embrace my creative work and know that even if I don’t place in the contest that I have still won.

How different my writing is today compared to a year ago. I didn’t realize the changes until I scrolled through every blog post of mine looking for something award-worthy. I promote my books less and my share my experiences more. I give advice, I discuss my struggles, I open up to my passions and I have fresh funness with everything. Part of that comes from refocusing my life and my blog accordingly. Not to get all transcendental on you, I realized that Zentangle was distracting me from writing. I needed to step back and focus on my forever passion: writing.

What do I like about my writing? My blog, I appreciate the variety of topics I choose, the events I participate in, the knowledge I share. Of my articles, I enjoy the tight writing I do, weaving creative words and phrases into the text as if they were always meant to be there. I’m fortunate to have a community of supportive blog readers–that’s you!–and a thoughtful, trusting editor.

Even here, now, it’s hard to still grasp how important these changes are for me. But last night, as I weaved through the blogposts and flipped through magazines, I was impressed with my work, more than I expected. I’m exploring these thoughts over the next couple of days, and I hope you will grasp some strength and perspective from me to apply to your own self.

Today, just compliment someone’s socks or shoes or purse or watch or coat or hairstyle. You have the power to make them smile.

Retro love

“Love is the only force capable of transforming an enemy into a friend.”~Martin Luther King, Jr., American leader

I’ve been feeling nostalgic lately.

Do you remember any class in school where you had a creative writing assignment? If so, you may have stressed out about writing that first line. That’s when your teacher would say “Just freewrite,” which meant for the next however many minutes, you wrote whatever thoughts came to mind, without stopping.

Your pen. Remember those? Or maybe you wrote with a pencil. Regardless, it was–and still is–a stick that you hold in your hand that produces a visual image when pressed down on a surface. I mention this because I don’t think we do remember these anymore.

I watched a YouTube video the other day, and the host was a teenager or a girl in her early 20s. She created some art with her hands and then had to write some information down. “My cursive is terrible,” she wined. “I haven’t written in cursive since middle school. Looks like I have to practice my handwriting. It looks terrible.”

First, as a writer or blogger or artist, never apologize for anything you do save technical difficulties or natural disasters beyond your control. Even then, explain don’t excuse.

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My husband shares my nostalgia in this gift to me (us)

What made her comment doubly bad was that she made an excuse for not using her talented hands to write. Much of society has lost touch with the tactile, with the real. I haven’t tangled in awhile–something I miss, and a whole separate topic–but I do journal by hand. No online diary for me, except for this blog. I write and edit my stories. I use colorful pens to make it more fun. Heck, what happened to crayons?

Twitter chats this week were retro: what books do you recall fondly from your childhood? Favorite high school trip? When did you see your first concert? What video game(s) rocked your world? For the record, my answers include:
A Wrinkle in Time by Madeleine L’Engle
–Cancun, Mexico (seriously!)
–Hall & Oates Big Bam Boom tour…you do the math
–Joust, Sinistar, Dig Dug, Mappy and Gauntlet

So I have been missing that lately, the delightful memories of youth. The times when I felt young and free and safe. What about you? Is there something you miss from long ago, or just from last year? Times change, but our memories do not.

I want to go home and color.

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.

New #ROW80 Round 4–time lost, time found?

“I think the thing to do is enjoy the ride while you’re on it.”~Johnny Depp, American actor

My ROW80-Round3 2015 was a bust.

I forgot about it. I lost my goals. I didn’t accomplish my goals in the timeframe I set. I failed one or two weeks in and no longer wanted to feel the fail, so I stopped. Now that posts for ROW80-Round4 2015 are now showing up in my blog feed reader, and I realize, what the *bleep* happened?

I write by hand, as you know from previous blog posts. My ROW80 goals were a to-do checklist on the computer, and that just did not work I guess.  I found my original post and noticed that: hey–I actually had accomplished a lot on that list

Big Goals:
Finish DadMemoir and get to editor
Crowdfund for Alaska DONE, but not successful
Pre-write Deadwood blogposts
Pre-write/catchup my blog posts
Finish posting AtoZ Challenge posts
Get email client service – do this in August. DONE, but need to setup
Update my website’s About Me
Update my website’s Writing
Update Amazon Author Pg.
Catchup email. DONE, kinda. It’s an ongoing challenge.
Social media DONE, kinda. I still ignore Facebook as much as I can.
WiiFit. DONE
Read/review books on goodreads and Amazon
Make time to journal. DONE
Glasses by Alaska. DONE–all 3 pairs, too!
Play games. DONE
Time with family. DONE, kinda.
Call relatives. DONE, a little bit.
Call friends
Scrapbook
Haircut and/or perm and/or coloring DONE.

That’s 10 out of 21. On third review, it’s not as much as I’d like, but 48% is okay. I know some of things in the list are currently in motion.

Now, however, my themes have changed as my outlook and approach to this blog is changing. I guess that’s part of the growth, but now it feels frustrating to restructure everything.

Maybe I need a smaller list, something more attainable. In Zentangle, we break the art down one line at a time, repeated over and over again. When that one tangle is complete, you start another one. As a CZT, I always teach the first tile with four tangles. If that’s all the time I have to teach, then my students leave with a little accomplishment that is really a big accomplishment.

Today, now, what is important for me to do? What’s most immediate? I guess the question is: what will move my writing forward?

Now that I’ve typed that last line in, those last two words comfort me and bring me some focus. *breathe*

ROUND 4: October 5 – December 24

I’m typing this list in a coffeeshop in Ann Arbor. I’ll revise it at home tonight when I can compare it to my recent to do list. It may change from this very moment, but here is my list, in no particular order:

[Now Complete as of This Posting, but Still No Particular Order]

1–EMAIL CLIENT:
Figure out how to use my MailChimp account. Do I need a new, different email address? Set up a button for email list on my blog. Explore if I can do this in the free version or if I need to get a paid site. If so, should I finally change to my “official” reserved site name? If so, can I direct all traffic to this blog site–I think there’s a way, but how complicated is it?

2–DAD’S MEMOIR:
Finish the long Scrivener tutorial. It’s very long–over one hour to carefully walk through the first section–and mentally exhausting, so I can only do this in chunks at the moment. Once I learn how to use it, enter my DadMemoir into it. Before doing that, remember to type in the current changes from Edit.7 document. Start fresh from that point.

3–CATCH UP OLD BLOG POSTS
Seriously, this is bad karma to have so much hanging over my head. It’s distracting and stressful, and it’s holding me back from moving forward. Get AtoZ Challenge blog posts done = that’s a first priority because it’s the evil dark cloud hanging over my head. (Note to self: re-think doing this again in the future) In addition, there are old Zentangle-Diva posts = what do I want to do with those? My old regular missed blog posts = I have no problem or guilt publishing them “late” because I want to keep my current schedule constant. I may revisit this when I see how many posts I have to do, but for now, I’m going with it. This will include posting things like ROW80 Roundups, Haiku Horizons and WeekendCoffeeShare moving forward, which gives me topics to write about.

4–SCHEDULE SOCIAL MEDIA TIME
In a time when other people are pulling away from the wasteland that is social media, I need to plan time and learn what works best for me. Instagram is easy, and I love that site. I normally post daily or twice a day, I like and comment on posts, but I need to determine a strategic plan for what I want to use this site for. That’s a low priority at the moment because I am using it and interacting now, but something I do want to think about. Facebook: ewwwwwwww…. I make no secret that I dislike the site and am there simply because everyone else is there. Plan what to post on my Facebook Author Page so it looks current and useful. Schedule time each day or two to catch up on all those notifications and messages and whatever else Facebook throws in my face. I don’t want them to pile up like they did last month; I think I had 89 notifications and 4 DMs. Okay–Facebook rant over, for now. Keeping current with Twitter–another format I love–and maybe that means replying to Tweets as they happen. That means keeping my smartphone at my side all day, but that may be what works best for me. If so, don’t look at those Tweets as a distraction, and accept that interrupting my flow to respond is okay to do.

5–NEW BLOGSITES AND FOLLOWERS AND WHATNOT
This has to be vague right now because I’ve met so many people through the #RQWN Twitterchat, from the NFPW conference, from Instagram and Twitter, and from wherever else. How do I organize all this? How do I show my friendliness to these folks? I have no idea, but something to think about.

6–UPDATE MY AUTHOR SITES
That means telling myself that playing with my blog site to make it current is not a frivolous waste of time. It’s fun, and it can be, and I can’t feel guilty about that. This includes the About Me, Zentangle, Writing sections. It’s all part of my writing strategy. I need to look professional, not sloppy. Update my Amazon Author Page.

7–WRITE BOOKS
I learned a lot from NFPW conference in Alaska from the presenters that a lot can be done in a short amount of time. While working on my memoir, I can write short stories like the ones I’ve already published. I need to, actually, so I have material to enter in writing contests next year. Maybe an anthology. Maybe a haiku chapbook.

8–SEEK OUT NEW IN-PRINT WRITING VENUES
With the closing of the magazine I write for, my columns poof away. When the magazine stops printing, I no longer have articles in print. I want to be published; I like seeing my name in print. I’m a good writer, some days a great writer. There are contacts from ago that I never followed up on. Find those names and business cards and emails and write back to them, again or for the first time.

9–PRINT OUT THIS LIST
‘Nuff said.

There are other things I feel pulling at me, like staying current with email, family, Goodreads and more, but my list above is already longer than I want. These other things may happen naturally as the ROW80 lists items become crossed off. Think: I’ll have time and flexibility to call family when I am not constantly thinking “I should be writing blog posts. Maybe you think it’s a twisted way to approach loved ones, but I can’t be a good friend or family member until I take care of myself. Will I regret any of those choices? No, I don’t believe in regret, but every failure brings a new focus.

I’m starting off with these 8 items–which still may be too ambitious–and see where this goes from here.

Do you think I can do it?

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