Find fish and friends in #AtoZChallenge haiku

One fine way for a writer to procrastinate is with Fish.

Fish are Zen in motion. They go where they want, flip around in a different path at a whim. Writers identify with this path as they look for the directions to lead their characters. Writers must be deliberate in their choices while fish swim and sway in a random dance. Writers think and think and overthink events that move their characters forward. Fish stare at writers, maybe blink, and move on forward. It’s an indifference to make cats jealous.

Take your writerself to a pond, an aquarium or a Chinese restaurant where schools of fish scurry from reed to reef.  The writer follows their favorite fish in a playful hide-and-seek peek inside whimsical treasure chests.  Slide and glide through rock tunnels, mesmerizing color of coral buried in gravel.

That water, its own relaxing self, swirls in the trail of a fish’s tail. Writers close their eyes to savor the sounds of tank filter bubbles and burps. Their heart beats to the rhythmic gurgle-plop-gurgle of pulsing water. The writer returns home relaxed and soul soothed. The thought of sitting at a laptop or picking up a pen disturbs all thinking. The writer curls up in a chair or on the couch, the mind a pool of ripples that swirls in hypnotic memory.

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Encourage entertainment on the radio with #AtoZChallenge

Every Monday at 10:00am is the best start to my week.

NJ 101.5 is the New Jersey talk radio station whose hosts talk about everything entertaining.  Weekday morning commuting hours feature mostly news, politics and serious stuff.  The fun part of each radio day begins with the 10 am morning hosts.

Every Monday, Dennis and Judi ask the question, “Where are you now?”  They joke about how this question sets the tone to New Jerseyans in how the answers balance the mindset and creates the pulse of the upcoming week.

For me, this is true.

No matter how mundane something is, the hosts say, we want to know what that is because we all learn something about this great Garden State.  I schedule tasks and meetings around that hour as much as possible because it’s surprisingly true.

A person calls in saying he or she is on the parkway driving to the dentist.  Sounds pretty commonplace, right?  Why would a caller–heck, anyone in general–think that trip is talk show radio worthy?  The hosts ask  how the caller found that dentist. That answer leads to the caller’s biannual treat eating lunch at the diner down the treat, a restaurant favored by locals for the banana cream pie.

Listeners have just learned about a recommended doctor (dentist) and where to look for him/her (that small town).  If I want to try a new restaurant, I know one (diner). It’s a good diner because trusted people (locals) flock there for restaurant’s specialty (banana cream pie). One caller’s commonplace dentist appointment provided so much information about the state.

Because of that 10-11am hour, I know fishing techniques, cheese delivery, pizza in the town next to me, specialty shore towns, Meals on Wheels, au pare services, highway history, tree care, dancing, airport travel, yoga, car maintenance, libraries and dentists.

Where are you now?

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Dare: Are bloggers real writers? #AtoZChallenge

My name is Diana, and I am a writer.

I state that up front because despite my published articles, books and national writing awards, some people still raise eyebrows at the thought of writing being a profession.  You know, those people who speak in that quotation tone of voice. Now that anyone and everyone with an internet connection can expose themselves on a free website, what does that say about us as bloggers?  

Bloggers are writers, and don’t let anybody tell you otherwise.

I’ve been writing since I was four years old, long before computers, so I guess that means I’m a writer who blogs. That gives more justification, I guess, but it’s a crappy deal that “bloggers” need to be distinguished from even “writers.” Like there’s a difference. Someone once compared writing to a coffeeshop. You’d never expect anyone to say, “Oh, you’re not a real coffeeshop because you’re just a local coffeeshop owner.”

That annoys me.  Worse, it offends me. 

Writers participating in April’s AtoZ Challenge attest to the fact that blogging takes work regardless if they write for personal escape or as a professional venture. Deadwood Writers Group–the creative people in Michigan who critique my work and make me a better writer for that–launched Deadwood Writers Voices more than six years ago as an place for members to have an online presence, regardless of any other writing they do or aspirations they have.

Some writers use blogging as an exercise towards publishing, be that traditionally or self-publishing. Sue Remisiewicz boldly states, “No matter what happens, I’m creative. I write. I’m a writer.”

So what if you “just” blog? Be proud of your effort. You are allowed to challenge yourself, if you dare.

Kelly Bixby writes essay-style blog posts, and says, “I try to make relationship issues, travel stories, grammar rules, and topics of faith each entertaining and/or inspiring,” she says. “The heart of every writer is curiosity, creativity and passion.”

Creativity is the key. “Quotation people” are afraid of creativity.  Perhaps they were told once that they weren’t creative. I am fortunate that others encouraged me to play with words. It’s never “just” blogging.

Karen Kittrell sums it up perfectly. “For myself, I write to connect. If I succeed, I define that as writing.”

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Childhood memoir in haiku for #AtoZChallenge

Here’s a slice of childhood life from my short memoir Lessons from Dad: A Letter to You:

Thank you for playing games with me.  Not many kids can say this.  I still have that picture from when I was two of me riding on your back and playing horsey.  You and Mom taught me card games.  It’s ironic to your personalities that she taught me Solitaire while you taught me Hearts.  When we played board games, Mom liked Mouse Trap and Connect Four. You preferred Candyland and Checkers. 
Back then, every night was “family game night.”

Today, the only deck of cards I have is probably some sports or movie themed collectible set, but I do have Solitaire on my laptop.  My old board games are in the closet, but my husband and I go out to coffee shops and play Yahtzee.

In the winter, you were a patient statue on the street as I rode my plastic sled down the hill across the street.  You stood there as I trudged back up, saying, “Daddy, watch me!” before I slid down again.  And again.  And again.

“C’mon, let’s go,” you’d finally say.

“Ohhh, just one more time?” I’d ask.  “Please?”

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“B”eing planted in the #AtoZChallenge moment

A gardener by any means I am not, but I cultivate a deep green houseplant forest.
The lawn art my neighbors accomplish humbles me, but endless cycle of pulling weeds is not worth it. Houseplants are as green as my thumb gets, and I’m quite adept at keeping my plants thriving.

Plants hold a sentimental and practical meaning for me: they don’t die like flowers do.  In college, my friend brought me a plant when I was admitted into the hospital.  I still have that plant.  Over the years, he has been trimmed, cut and shared as gifts to my friends, including the dear who originally presented it to me.  She calls him Thor.

Tree was a gift from a friend who tried to brighten my awful work environment 22 years ago.  Being a quirky, smarmy guy, he sent me an Umbrella Tree.  He chose it because “tree” was in the name of the plant.  No windowsill plant here.  This imposing green stem with thick flapping leaves was large enough to be forceful and obnoxious in my open office.  I adore him for that. 

I named her Tree because she was one, despite being a houseplant.  Tree has been a part of my life since then, moving from state to state and house to house since then, long after that awful work situation passed.

Tree was once on life support–two or three times, actually, but we’re not counting–healed by heartbreaking action.  She grew a second trunk and stopped being a tall tree but a fluffy, failing bush.  I consulted with a garden store before I took action, and even with the knowledge of experts, the serious grooming needed scared me. My heart broke as I chopped off the side trunk, but the twin had to be severed so the one could grow strong. Skinny and scraggly afterward, I feared I had truly killed her this time.

Tree is resilient and grows strong today, as shown in Haiku B.  She is still more fluffy that tall, but one of her cutlings blossomed into a skyscraper I call Sprout.

Curious about their ongoing growth and transformations?  Follow my Instagram hashtag #TheWritersTree to travel along their journey of life and death and life.

“B” sure to visit other blogs travelling along the AtoZChallenge to read their journeys, “B”ginnings and all.

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April 1: Art, Artists and #AtoZChallenge

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 already?

I’m distracted with inconveniences today, not emergencies.  Will the grocery store have toilet paper?  Do I need to buy a temporary hair color kit again?  What time does my drive-thru coffee store close?

I roamed my cable TV’s expanded On Demand lineup, and found The Oscar Nominated Short Films 2019: Live Action free to watch; the 2020 one is available to rent.  My husband and I used to attend this event when we lived in Michigan.  The Detroit Institute of Arts presents 3 or 4 showings of  this compilation of all the nominated short documentary, animated and live action films, the part in the TV broadcast that serves as another bathroom break because most people never heard or seen these 15-minute creations, so winners mean nothing.

I felt that way watching The Oscars long ago, wondering how these flimsy filmy things made it into this real competition.  Where could you see them?  Why would you want to see them?

I suppose independent film theaters show them, but I never thought much about it until my friend told me about this limited engagement.  Tickets were sold out the first year we tried, but we purchased them the next.

Two hours worth of quirky, dark, sad, funny, colorful and disturbing entertainment.  Films from Spain and France and the United States. Biography, science fiction, fantasy, action and family.  Alluring.  These 15-minute creations made us cry in laughter and sadness.  One animated short made us keep the bedroom light on that night.

We had to go next year.

We watched the Academy Awards that year just to see which of our films won.  The live action we liked won, the documentary was our first or second choice, but the animated winner was at the bottom of our ranking.

Moving back to New Jersey, we found a theater in Montclair that shows these shorts, but in separate segments: one for live action/documentary and one for animation.  I prefer to see them in one package, but seeing them separate is better than not seeing them at all.

We missed the nomination shows this year. Maybe we will rent 2020.  

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My fun #AtoZChallenge 2020 Theme Reveal

I wrote a haiku based on the letter X that does not include the word “xylophone”.

I hope you love the alphabet because we couldn’t write without it.

April is the month bloggers around the world unite to write daily posts for the phenomenon Blogging from A to Z Challenge. Posts correspond to the alphabet. April 1 is the first letter A. April 2 is the second letter B.  April 3…well, you get the idea. It’s November’s NaNoWriMo for bloggers.

This year, I’m keeping my theme simple yet challenging:
Alphabet Haiku

Last year, my grand experiment was a humorous look at the ways we writers procrastinate, as well as how we allow others to enable us. My “26 Ways to Procrastinate a Writer” theme soured into an unsavory mess of words and, ironically, procrastination.  I introduced Jayne as my flash fictional character, to show by example what distractions can do to a writer I didn’t know where to take her character, and she didn’t tell me where to go.  Her life developed in a soap opera and I couldn’t rebound.  A beastly crud demonstrating exploding frustrations grew.  I gave up.

My haiku theme did not spring forth because April is National Poetry Month, although that’s a nice happenstance. It bloomed from a haiku challenge my college friend and I do: mail postcards to each other with haikus written on them.  Also ties rather well into National Letter Writing Month, don’t you think?

My challenge creates a haiku with each word beginning with the same letter. My X-haiku is quite inspiring.

As of this post, 350 bloggers are committing to the frivolity, themes including:  memoir; book reviews; MST3K; quilting; recipes; faerie; herbs; Disney; tea; Switzerland; cemeteries; Doctor Who; vampires; nursery rhymes; sunrises; and coloring pages.

Come join the fun?  Sign up ends Thursday, March 26.

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Lessons from a Lapras

Sometimes you have to believe, and sometimes you need to be believed in.

This is the story of a Lapras, the fighter in all of us.

In June 2017, my husband and I were adjusting to life in our New Jersey house. One distraction was finding area Starbucks and other local coffee shops. Another distraction was learning our neighborhood by playing Pokémon GO driving between Pokestops and Gyms. During the Fire and Ice event in mid-June, I caught my holy grail Pokémon: a Lapras.

I saw them defending Gyms in Michigan, these intimidating water creatures that everyone seemed to have but me. I never found one in Michigan, but here in New Jersey, I caught a tiny one. Size didn’t matter; I always knew I’d find one, and here he was. The next day, Saturday, my husband went up the street to the Dunkin Donuts and caught me a second, higher-CP Lapras. No disrespect to my little Lapras, I powered up this larger Lapras to be bold and intimidating.

Imitating Michigan, I placed my beloved Lapras in New Jersey Gyms. He was kicked out of Gyms almost immediately. Over and over, Lapras returned home without bringing coins, and he developed a complex. He wasn’t tough enough, brave enough, strong enough to be useful. I looked up “Lapras” online and discovered that his breed is rather weak. I didn’t care. I had searched long and hard for one of him, and I loved him no matter what. I believed in him. We were going to figure this out.

Little Lapras became my walking buddy so we would earn candies to power up my big Lapras. We were all in this together. I told my Lapras that we could do this. My walking buddy earned candies, we powered up the big guy and my Lapras still got kicked out of Gyms.

One day, he fought hard and returned without coins from a Gym that was gold. Gold is a Gym badge earned when a trainer has enough overall Pokémon activity in that particular Gym thus earning bragging rights and receiving more items when spinning there. The Gym was not gold when Lapras went in. Now it was.

I continued placing Lapras in Gyms. He came back occasionally with a few coins, but never the daily maximum amount. One time he returned from another Gym that became gold while he was there. I noticed that. We discovered his talent: he earns gold Gym badges.

Throughout the summer, I became gold at other Gyms with other Pokémon. There were two locations I was close to: Old Kean and Ship on the Highway. Since school started at Kean University, competition at Old Kean on campus has been tough. Ship on the Highway has always been hit or miss for any Pokémon based on shopping traffic at the P.C. Richards store that looks like a battleship. That Gym has remained the highest in overall points of my non-gold Gyms, and I don’t know why. Now it’s #5 in my list. I told Lapras he was my Golden Boy, and he was going to get me that gold badge.

When the ship Gym was full, I placed Lapras in other Gyms. The first day he fought hard and returned with 50 coins, he strutted around and flapped his fins and puffed his chest out. He was so proud of himself, the jinx broken, the bad karma gone. I gave him a Max Revive that day and powered him up twice. He deserved it. I knew he could do it. Now he did, too.

On Monday, there was space in the Ship on the Highway Gym. Of course I placed my Lapras there, and drove off for the night. This morning, not 48 hours after that, I received the notification, “Lapras needs a treat.”

I decided to feed him remotely, and when I clicked on the Gym, it was no longer silver but gold. He did it again! I texted his accomplishment to my husband, who texted back, “Hap-Lapras!”

Just now, as I share our story, Lapras was the first of the Pokémon in Gyms who fought hard and returned today. He brought back the daily max coins. I powered him up in preparation for our next goal: gold at Old Kean.

Sometimes you have to believe, and sometimes you need to be believed in.

Sometimes that is the same thing, and it needs to be you.

“You were born to win, but to be a winner, you must plan to win, prepare to win, and expect to win.”~Zig Ziglar, American author

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Create your signature writing word

I found my writing self in one word.

Continuing from this blog post last week, I needed to find myself after losing my domain name. I needed to redefine myself.

I found myself in one word: funky.

Since you’re visiting this site, you’re smart enough to realize that through the name.

Now, I don’t mean “funky” in that dank, musty way. I’m talkin’ funky in that cool, hip and trendy “play that funky music” way.

I don’t know when I first used that word to describe me, but it’s been a part of my identity for years and years. Dare I say decades? Yes, I dare: the word funky has been a part of me for years. It became obvious to me when I wrote for the now-defunct Michigan Scrapbooker Magazine. In 2014, I used it freely to describe the art techniques and projects I wrote about:

“Don’t worry about minutiae; the date, time and location are saved in the funky ePostmark with customizable postage stamps.”

I found it again in the next issue:

“[Scrapbookers] are already journaling in your daily life. It’s this funky little thing called social media.”

At that point, I boldly challenged myself to insert the word “funky” into every 750-word article I wrote. My topics included Zentangle, scrapbook journaling, art supplies and creating mini albums from paper bags and empty toilet paper rolls. Given that variety, I found ways.

“After adding photos and journaling, you can keep these multi-day events as individual albums or bind them together as one funky, vacation-themed album.”

“Use [paint swatches] to create fun and funky mini-albums.” This 2015 example appeared as the article’s subtitle.

Did anyone else notice my Hitchcock-esque signature word? It was my signature word, to me anyway.

Which brings me back to conclude my domain dilemma. What do I call my new self? Reinvent. Refocus. Refresh. Renew. It must be relevant yet quirky. Professional yet whimsical. Identifying yet mysterious. Enticing yet polished. Obvious but unknown.

That word is funky. Not that word itself is funky, but the word itself is “funky.”

Can you relate? Do you have a word like that? I hope so, because it’s fun and funky to have one.

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Playing Games with Haiku Horizons #245

I have missed writing haiku.

Every Tuesday at my Montclair Writers Support Group, each person introduces themselves and talks about writing struggles and goals. I tweak my intro every week, but it always contains “award-winning writer,” “author,” “memoir,” blah blah blah. I always forget to say, “I write haiku.” Why?

Haiku Horizons #245: “Games”

I’m a writer, not a poet. Sure, I wrote in school when we had an assignment to write a sonnet, limerick, things like that. I’m sure haiku was a part of that. I took poetry classes in college to obtain my English Writing Minor. Those fun classes were just that, classes. I was not a poet. My friend and my sorority Big Sister, she was a self-proclaimed poet. She wrote poems; therefore, she was a poet.

Years after college, we met for an independent book forum. She found a book of haiku as told through friends sending postcards to each other. Totally intrigued me. She was into snail mail, too, so we bought the book for inspiration.  To this day, we send occasional emails or mail random postcards with a haiku. Blog challenges like the weekly Haiku Horizons prompt keep me writing poems. It still feels like a hobby, not serious writing. Still, they are so much darn fun to play with.

I write poetry; therefore, I am a poet.  Note to self: remember that.

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The Pledge of Allegiance written in emoji

In honor of July 4th, I wrote the Pledge of Allegiance in emoji.

Emoji has taken over our world. My number one text image is the smiley kissey face. If you ever wondered how the Pledge of Allegiance would read as written in emoji, your question has been answered.

In case you’re not fluent in emoji, or if  you need a refresher of the pledge, here’s the translation:

I pledge allegiance to the flag of the United States of America, and to the republic for which it stands, one Nation under God, indivisible with liberty and justice for all.

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How I almost lost my blog

Welcome. I almost lost this blog.

For a number of reasons, I lost my domain name “” If you click there now, you can buy shoes online. Don’t! Boycott shoes! What’s even more insulting is that the site has nothing to do with “d” nor “w” nor “Hirsch” nor any combination of. *indignant snort*

With the loss of the domain, all of the links would disappear

There is something exhilarating, yet intimidating, about starting over.

That’s just what I did here on this blog. What I’m doing, because I have to. In addition to my name, I thought I lost all my data. That scared the heebie-jeebies out of me. After going through the seven stages of blogloss, plus another seven to torture myself, I took this as an opportunity to recreate myself, my identity. Refocus. Reestablish. Reconnect. Refresh. Recycle. Rejuvenate. Renew. Fill in your own reword here.

Fortunately, my site is hosted through namecheap, and I will never, ever, never, ever go to another webhosting service. They had my old data and restored it.


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Happy anti-New Year! Words, focus and remembering January

How are your New Year Resolutions coming along?

If you still remember even one of them, that’s not a bad way to start Monday, July 1, 2019.

January 1st was a day filled with promise and goals and plans for new journeys. Unless you were hung over from the previous night’s celebration, because then your January 1st looked differently.

Like it or not, it’s July 1. We’re halfway through the year, and it’s time to evaluate your progress or your challenges. Maybe the first challenge is remembering those goals.

Many people choose a focus word for the year, something that represents a promise to ourselves, the direction we want to take our life in. I like that idea, because it’s a way to have resolve without making resolutions. However, I can’t boil down all my changes to one word, not even a hyphenated word to get that extra boost. I choose not to stress over something that because by July, Real Life will intrude and push my best efforts aside.

For several years, I consider a phrase that if I accomplished it, then everything else would be set right. That phrase is wisdom gained from a Yogi Tea bag tag:

“Keep Up.”

I like that. It resonates with me. What if we all did that?

Despite that noble thought, my [too-many-to-count-because-it’s-embarrassing] unanswered emails in my inbox shows I’ve struggled in that area. The 30,000+ photos I want to print off my phone is evidence of that challenge in my life. The 50+ boxes I still have to unpack from our February 2017 move prove that I struggle to accomplish a focus phrase.

Focus on other words. Want. Need. Must. Should. These are weak works, maybe words. They don’t help us succeed towards New Year Resolutions or any goals. They’re hopeful and dreamy. One word can replace them all: Will.

It’s time for me to take the price tag off the shirt I bought in 2016.  I will wear that shirt, both physically on my body and figuratively in my mind:

This is MY Year

It’s never to late for that sentence to apply to you. Focus on that.

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Reading Challenges: good or bad?

“Honesty is the first chapter in the book of wisdom.”~Thomas Jefferson, American president

How sad it is that we as a society make even the joy of reading a massive social media event?

There are gazumerous reading challenges out there. Which one to choose? How many books can I read in 20 days, 20 hours or 20 minutes? Is it motivation or pressure? Inspiration or discouragement? When I want to read, I want to snuggle up with a book and not worry about posting reviews online and making sure I’ve updated my statuses.

My 2018 reading assignment

Maybe that’s the reason my reading has slacked off to practically nothing. Part of it, anyway.

That said, as an author, I feel that it is my civic duty to join one. Apparently I’m not a Real Writer unless I’m a Real Reader, and Real Readers participate in at least one reading challenge.

My Goodreads site is the best place for me to do this. Reading 18 books in 2018 equals 1.5 books/month. Some people can read 1.5 books in a week. Looking at some of my Goodreads friends profile, I see someone who wants to read 400 books in 2018. I devoured books as a kid, but, sadly, I’m not that person anymore.
Rather than winging it, I chose my books for this 2018 reading challenge. There are only 16 books pictured here, giving me flexibility to choose new books, and I reserve the right to change this lineup any time without notice. Of these books, some I can’t wait to read. Some I am desperate to re-read again. Some I chose just because I own them.

If I get through some of these, any of these, that’s a success whether I share my results or not. I don’t need some website to tell me I’m a Reader. Reading should not be a goal. Reading should be a pleasure to its own end.

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November 1: An anti-NaNoWriMo post

“I own and operate a ferocious ego.”~Bill Moyers, American journalist

I forgot.

It didn’t matter that a friend asked to buddy me. It didn’t matter that I filled out my form and updated my info. Nope, none of that. I forgot it was NaNoWriMo time.

I have and have not been editing my two short memoirs. I wish I could say I was so consumed by that progress that I didn’t have time to remember.

I’m not into it this year, and I feel like I should be. I’m a writer; therefore, I should NaNo

I live in a new state, and NaNo options are limited in my area. Is any location worth the drive? My NaNoWriMotown group in Detroit was deliciously active across a wide range of neighborhoods. Around me, there seems to be an active group that meets in several shady neighborhoods, or so I’ve the heard. There is another group 30 minutes away, but their activities appear to be completely unstructured as to be worthless.

I may have to do this on my own, unstructured and unsupported. As such, I’ve come up with an unconventional project. That project is not writing “a novel” in the expected sense, but if 50,000 words comes from it, that will be my success.

Over the 5 years I’ve done and won, I realize that NaNo is whatever you make of it.

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Thoughts on October 31

“Sometimes it’s the crazy people who turn out to be not so crazy.”~Kevin Spacey, American actor

My thoughts: Happy Halloween!

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Choose your own words in haiku and adventure

“Only I can change my life; no one can do it for me.”~Carol Burnett, American actress

Words and video games don’t mix.

The video game Zork? is a simple game: type your actions. The puzzle in this text-only game is to figure out what commands will get you to the end of your journey and win. I was frustrated by Zork after day one. This is no video game; it’s a guessing game.

“Pick up sword,” I type.
“You cannot carry any more items.”

“Turn left,” I type.
“You cannot turn left.”

Beyond those statements, there are no other instructions. Like many players, I drew a map of the labyrinth forest I wandered around. I still got lost, and without knowing how or where I made the mistake, I was at a dead end just as my invisible character.

I wanted to love the game. I truly did. By the time I picked up this game, sometime around 1986, I was a video game junkie and an avid reader. This interactive fiction game combined both loves. The focus was on narrative, like creating your own story, but the context was so broad that without some baseline, I couldn’t get interested. Instructions were nonexistent. Was I asking the right question? Can I guess the proper question to ask? It was too much work for little reward.

Haiku Horizons prompt #189: Mist

This week’s Haiku Horizons prompt reminds me of that storytelling. The Myst text adventure game from 1993 added graphics. By that time, I was over text-only adventures. I may have liked this better had it been the first game I played because I could see my choices. You have a visual grasp on your reality. There is a baseline, yet it’s a puzzle.

Choose Your Own Adventure books combines the fun of a maze and words with a puzzle and surprise. Each book guides you along pre-destined story paths, but at points in the narrative, the reader chooses what comes next. Sometimes you die. Sometimes you win. My first book was exhilarating, being in control of my story and yet not. Once I read through my chosen path, I went back and read every ending along the flowchart story.

At BEA 2016, I discovered the original books have been re-released along with new titles. Author Sylvia Hubbard created an online romance version of this form of storytelling. It’s making a comeback.

Combining words in wondrous and mysterious ways. I wonder if these books are part of the reason I became a writer.

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Success in writing: Breakdown of #ROW80 Round 4 goals, Part 1 of 3

“All great achievements require time.”~Maya Angelou, American poet 

Round 4 goals.  Writing, reading, playing and etc,

Today I’m focusing on my writing.  This is how I plan to break down and work on these goals, in no particular order:


1–Get back to writing haiku, at least one weekly.

This is how my Instagram account started: haiku.  My writerly friend and sorority Big Sister wrote haiku with me after one trip into New York City for an independent book fair.  Poetry may not be my formal writing genre, but I enjoy it and feel obligated to get back into it because of Instagram.

I found these notes jotted down on the back of my Round 3 Goals sheet.

I’m tweaking a Monday – Thursday writing schedule based on ROW80 Round 3.  Each day focuses on one genre or project, a schedule that provides structure and flexibility.  This revised schedule is something I’m testing out.

Since Mondays are one day I set aside to do email, I’ll see the weekly Haiku Horizons prompt posted each Sunday night.

Mondays, I will make time to write a haiku.  That poem will be published that day, Tuesday or Wednesday.  That gives me time and structure to work the haiku into a post.  Then I have the second half of the week to share it on social media.
UPDATE: That worked this week!  Look for my haiku post on Wednesday.

2–Finish MomMemoir and DadLetters by December.

MomMemoir was so on track through August that it was scary productive. My first time-sensitive deadline passed, and my motivation slowed. My second self-imposed deadline passed, and I got sloppy. Tuesday afternoons are writing focused, and I’m allotting memoir writing to those days. It’s a good day to do that because my biweekly Memoir1 critique group meets on Wednesdays.

Pushing through procrastination, my schedule gives me structure to finish MomMemoir by October, DadLetters in November and I have December as overflow to allow for those unforeseen Life intrusions. If this works, it’s a strong format to follow with my full-length memoir in January.

3–Blog posts: finish or let go. For real this time!

**I will finish or let go of my 2017 posts.**

Yes, you read it here. With years of half-written blog ideas unedited, I am comfortable focusing on the year 2017 for the remainder of 2017. This honors my writing and cleans out my inbox, so to speak. It’s not overwhelming as it would be to think about every draft post for years back probably no longer relevant but needs to be reviewed. One calendar year, currently about 8 months to review, and I’m not going to stress myself out by going back into my past any further. Whatever I have completed by December is it. Deep breath. My weekly writing schedule has blogging scheduled Wednesdays or Thursday, thus giving me focus rather than flip-flop between this and book writing. Will I be strong enough by December 31st?

4–Freelance assignments/Full-time writing work

If I spend one day per week contacting 1-2 editors, then I’ll see what that gets me. It’s manageable, allowing time to research who to contact. The current writing schedule allows me to fit freelance assignments into my blogging and book writing, giving up nothing and moving forward with everything. Thursdays are another day I set aside to focus on housey things, email and general catching up, thus a good day for this.

The rest of my 2017 Round 4 goals are:

–Magazines: trade publications and PennStater
–Social Media
–Scrapbook/Mixed media crafting
–Housey things
–Friends and Family

As I test out this first week, I’ll share my challenges and successes regarding my reading goals next week.

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What motivates your? Goalsetting for #ROW80 Round 4

“The foot feels the foot when it feels the ground.”~Buddha, Indian leader

When do you deserve to treat yourself?

Coffee or tea and me

I use bribery to motivate myself. If I go through emails, then I can spend time on Instagram. If I write or edit for 37 minutes, then I’ve earned the right to play with planning stickers. Much of this year, I haven’t deserved the playtime that I’ve taken. Play is more fun than work, and without any steady work schedule, it’s easy to be lackadaisical. Whatever I call the reasons for not working, they’re all excuses. In acknowledging that, I’m kind to myself. Scolding me doesn’t change the past.

An online challenge that I continually succeed and fail at but keep coming back to breaks down the year into three-month chunks. It begins on the first Monday in every quarter–January, April, July and October–and ends the last Wednesday of every quarter–March, June, September and December. Easy to remember, right? Yeah, that took me two years to get into sync.

Every quarter since I began A Round of Words in 80 Days, I learn more about myself. Entering this Round 4, I realize that I need to add playtime or relax time to my schedule. After all, play…what else motivates me?

With that introduction, welcome to October 2 through December 20.

My goals for this last part of 2017 are: Reading, Writing and Playing. However, some writing and reading is too fun to be considered work. How do I justify that?

I have a great post written, but it’s so detailed that it’s overwhelming. I’m breaking it down over the next few weeks for me and for you. I want you to learn something from of my successes and struggles, something you can adapt into your life. We’re all working together at this, and I want to learn from you, too.

These are my Round 4 ROW80 Goals:

Lapras and Mr. Mime, both courtesy of my husband


–Get back to haiku, at least one weekly.
–Finish MomMemoir and DadLetters by December.
–Blog posts–finish or let go. For real this time!
–Freelance assignments/Full-time writing work


–Magazines: trade publications and PennStater
–Social Media


–Scrapbook/Mixed media crafting


–Housey things
–Friends and Family

Off we go into the Round 4 yonder.

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Land on my feet or my writing *bleep* as #ROW80 Round 3 ends

“There is a fountain of youth: it is your mind, your talents, the creativity you bring to your life and the lives of people you love.”~Sophia Loren, Italian actress

It seems I’ve been stuck in a lot of things lately.

The haiku is just one of them, like having a song stuck in your head. Take a look into my head and learn how I think as I composed this poem.

Haiku Horizons Prompt #186: Land

Land. I tried to focus on something beyond earth and flying. Grass in the backyard is ground, but it’s not land. I couldn’t get inspired by thoughts of landing on your feet or landing a spaceship. I returned to “Land” as expanse of untouched fields far into the horizon, which brought to mind reaching the expanse of an ocean, which brought to mind the song praising all this expanse of us. I couldn’t focus on the grass in my backyard–which I desperately wanted to for some reason–nor could I concentrate on trees, jumping down steps or other minutiae.
My thoughts were of higher things, and wrote a haiku about my frustration.

It’s easy to be frustrated with writing. Writing is such a personal endeavor, and when things don’t fall into place as planned, it’s easy to take it personally. In fact, I forgot that ROW80 Round 3 ends Thursday. I have my list of goals printed and attached into my planner, but how much have I accomplished?

1–Craft a succinct 30-second book elevator speech. = NO
This could be fun. I haven’t viewed it that way, just another to-do that I to-didn’t-do.

2– Continue my 17 Writing Outlets in 2017 and follow through. = NO
Why am I stuck on this? Fear of failure, or of success? Freedom or commitments?

6–Schedule weekly Myself-Time to review all these goals. = KINDA
I have days and times planned that are “mine,” but I haven’t used those moments as efficiently as I could have. Why am I choosing to be distracted by fun rather than business? Because fun is funner.

3–Fine tune a regular social media schedule. = KINDA MAYBE SORTA
This IS fun. Most of it, anyway. I am posting more on Facebook, but I don’t allow myself time to play with the social media I do enjoy. I think of it every time I don’t do it.

4–Catch up, let go of and/or publish old blog posts. = NO
5–Catch up on email. = WAY NO WAY
Again, I chose play over work. Besides, both overwhelm me.

7–Work on memoir and other stories. = YES (?)
I haven’t worked on my full-length memoir, but I made three rewrite-edits of my short Star Trek MomMemoir. I’m stuck under the weight of the pressure of the last edit. It’s a “final” edit that may be rewritten again based on ideas I learned from Lorraine Ash workshop last week.

See, frustration is easy. That’s when Round 4 kicks in, whatever your “round 4” may be. For me, it’s another opportunity to gather my thoughts from October 2 – December 21, 2017.

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