Coffeeshop Chronicles: Michigan and coffee palaces

I’m looking forward to seeing my old haunts when I travel back to Michigan next week.

I lived in Michigan for 11 years, my formative married years, as I like to say. Between Ann Arbor, Detroit and Windsor, Canada, I have so many treasured memories.

It’s May, time for the annual Great Lakes MegaMeet. It’s a 10-hour drive to play with paper, see friends and go shopping. Coffeeshops are part of those memories. I hope to have an experience now like this one from years ago:
Plymouth Coffee Bean
Plymouth, MI
Weds, March 2, 2016

An older guy is sitting at a large table. A group of four kids enter; students, I presume, because they each have backpack and books. They crowd around a neighboring table, a small circular one that would be a tight squeeze for even two people. I feel their discomfort: my table is no bigger than that except it’s square. There is no other table available.

The guy glances over. “Do you want to sit here?” he asks.

“Oh, no, we don’t want you to move,” they reply. They’d be shuffling their feet if they weren’t perched on the edges of chairs.

He says, “You’re all huddled around that small table and I’m in my palace over here.”

I smile. That’s the part I liked: “palace.” I’m also glad he’s kind enough to offer his space. I try not to take up more room than I need to when working in public. Some folks are not so considerate.

I’m facing the guy, and I see him do this eye-roll-sizing-them-up thing but not in that animal-in-the-wild confrontational way. “Are you going to pull out and read those books?” he asks, nodding at their backpacks.

“Yes,” one of them says in a timid whisper.

“Here then, I’ll move,” and he shuffles his papers and laptop as he passes over to their table. The foursome smile. “Hey, thanks man,” one of them says.

I love the description “palace.”

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Now and Then: What does your laptop say about you?

A recent Montclair Write Group writing prompt got me thinking: Now and Then.

I’ve been thinking about the little things in life these days. Nothing deep or philosophical, no life-altering moments where the world comes into crisp focus. I’ve been thinking about socks, coffee cups and ink pens.  For that prompt, I wrote about my childhood experiences of walking and with trees.  Today, I write about laptop covers.

I haven’t taken my laptop out to a coffeeshop in years.  Partially because I’m more productive in coffee shops when I write longhand.  Second, my laptop is old.  I’ve considered a new one for almost a year, but this old(er) laptop is practical for what I need it to do. It’s secondary to my main desktop computer. It’s good enough for typing in my longhand text, internet searches and getting sucked into YouTube.

When I go out to coffeeshops now, laptops are sleeker, but the covers have not changed.   Some people blast them with activist stickers, adorn them with drawings or custom cover sleeves.  Some people leave them boldly plain.  What does this say about them?

My laptop in Starbucks circa 2016

What does this say about me?

These seven years later, nothing has changed on my laptop. I’m not a plain person, so having a blank laptop bores me.  I’m all about showing people who I am at a glance. That’s the writer in me: Show, don’t tell.

The first thing I expect you’ll notice is the Penn State bumper sticker. Yes, a bumper sticker meant for cars, not laptops. It’s proud marketing by the alumni association. Stickers like this are free at  football away game pep rally, along with buttons, notepads and pom-poms.  I’m proud of my school, my education, and of all the things that happened there that led me to right here. It’s an instant connection with anyone.

However, it was not the first sticker I put on.  That honor belongs to the black NaNoWriMo from 2014. I won it in a 20-minutes Word Sprint, and I really, really wanted that sticker. It would be the first public proof and Validation that I Am A Writer. Besides, I wanted the cute coffee cup awake-o-meter.

The square NaNoWriMo sticker I earned in a Word Sprint in 2015, my second NaNo year. The pale retro colors appealed to the vintage scrapbooker in me. Once again, it’s my public Validation. Yes, World, I am a writer. See?

I no longer participate in NaNoWriMo because I no longer need validation. I have books published now; I didn’t then.

The most important stickers are closest to me: Hello Kitty and shaker style glitter owl. My husband bought me those for a touch of whimsy in my life.

I struggled with the placement of both puffy stickers. Despite the directionally unambiguous placement, I kept trying opening the laptop backwards, as in, with the stickers facing me. They’re important of me so they must face me, right? Wrong. No matter how many times I took me laptop out, my brain hit the backwards Reset button and I opened it backwards. I finally put Hello Kitty facing me so looking at her gives me the direction to open my laptop. Seriously, I still need to do that today.

Hello Kitty is iconic today as in my childhood. The memories swirl around me of sticker shopping with Mom, small diaries with key locks and middle school notebooks. The winter owl, snuggly in a tassle winter cap, inside a snowglobe with glitter shaker snowflakes tossing around him is just darn cute. Owls are still one of the hottest critters in scrapbooking and planners, and I’m all about trendy.

My husband still buys me quirky, cutesy stickers and knickknacks that make me smile with a touch of whimsy. Everyone should have a reminder of fun in their lives.

What about you? What’s your personality? My cover shows love, school pride, whimsy and a kickass writer typing on the keyboard behind it. Now, as then, there is open space to work with.

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Procrastination continues a creative discovery: Twitter, Vine and PokemonGO

Am I procrastinating or am I nostalgic?

I’m a bit of both these days. You’ve experienced this, that one-thing-leads-to-another-thing-leads-to-another-thing-leads action. Today I went looking for Vine videos.

My phone memory is almost full–no big surprise with the 6-digit number of photos I have–and I deleted old apps. They’ll never make up enough space, but in doing so, I found Vine. It’s no longer in the App Store, but an online article hints that Elon Musk might revive that on Twitter someday.

For those who don’t remember, Vine is a six-second version of TikTok. I created a number of them before the app shut down in 2016. If I Tweeted any of them, they’d be in my Twitter Media feed. So I went looking for my first one, circa 2014.

That’s when the delightful madness of nostalgia began.

I was much more active on Twitter, mostly because I shared my Swarm check-ins on Twitter. Fitbit landmarks. Old PokemonGO screenshots from when the game was new, and I was Level 21 a month after I started playing in 2016. Our 15th-Anniversary DisneyWorld trip. Zentangles I created. NFPW Conference in Alaska. In-person writing group meetings. Photo 365 photos. My first forays into independent publishing. A T-shirt I’ve never worn with the words “This Is My Year” on the front.

What I’ve learned from this is that I am a vibrant, creative writer with eclectic interests. We forget our exceptional qualities some days. Be open to that. I forgot.  Something is pulling me to my past, and I better not miss it. I just haven’t found what it is yet.

Nor have I found any Vine videos, but the search continues.

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Procrastinating and a thrilling discovery

Here I am, procrastinating publishing work I need to do, and I discovered that I have written my Dragon Story.

My Dragon Story is a tale I came up with in high school when I played D&D and devoured Anne McCaffrey books. How could I combine the two? I played around with a story and wrote it in my head, repeating it over and over until I knew the characters, the traits, the situations and my increasing infatuation with the main character’s dragon, Sable.

It was a book I thought was only written in my head until today as I’m procrastinating, scrolling through old writing files on my computer.  I wonder, What was my NaNoWriMo story in 2011? There it is: My Dragon Story at 51,820 words. 

Let’s look at recent coincidental colliding forces. Stretch back a week or three where on a TwitterChat about dragons I posted: I have a beloved story about dragons. I never wrote that and probably never will. Yesterday, April 23, I participated in my fourth author reading at the Montclair Library. Two days ago I rediscovered JA Konrath’s blog A Newbie’s Guide to Self Publishing and his blog post where he discuss Grade A writing and Grade B writing. He asked, is it worth it to fuss and fidget and struggle with your inner perfect self to create that Grade A book when a Grade B might do as well in book sales?

Here in physical electronic text is My Dragon Story, the story I’ve mentally written and rewritten for theheckuvit for over 20 years. I still play out scenes for mental background noise as I fall asleep. Now, I discover it’s been written for 13 years.

Mind blown, in so many ways.

My MomMemoir is out: Star Trek, Mom and Las Vegas; A Grand Adventure, and a month ago I considered as an exercise rewriting all or parts of it. The first book in my Haiku In the Life Of You series publishes this week. I’m working on my letters memoir about my father: Lessons From Dad: A Letter To You. Now I discover my eternal story–the story that defines me to myself–already written. It’s most likely in need of an edit or three and some definite formatting, but it’s already written.

Thank you, today’s procrastination.

I can’t believe the depth of my thrill. 

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Puppy and cookies and home, oh my!

“Be grateful for the home you have, knowing that at this moment, all you have is all you need.” ~Sarah Ban Breathnach, American writer

“Home” means many things to me.

Lucky, March 2014

My husband and his family.
That includes the puppy, Lucky.  He’s eight years old now, but he’s always a puppy to me.

My hometown of Pittsburgh.
Riverview Park, the childhood playground where Dad pushed me higher and higher on the swings. I learned to drive on the twisty road that flowed through the park. I fell in love with space looking at stars from the telescope at Alleghany Observatory on Friday nights.

Smiley Cookie!

The house in Michigan.
Our living room had space for my WiiFit, my Lovesac and the table I hosted scrapbook crops at. Nearby was the Starbucks where baristas knew our drinks. Nearby was Plymouth, a neighborhood city alive with a fountain, cash-only ice cream stand and the $2.00 one-screen movie theater that showed It’s a Wonderful Life and White Christmas every December.

Penn State, September 2022

The house in New Jersey.
A living room with a big bay window to decorate for the holidays. Sidewalks with streetlights and neighbors who know our name and wave. Not far is the Starbucks where baristas knew our drinks across from Kean University where we take campus walks.

State College and Penn State, a refuge to college memories.
We Are.

Our friends and family, homes to stay at with a hug to welcome us.
Michigan. Pennsylvania. California. New York. New Jersey. Arizona. Ohio.

Our cars that we drive between all homes.
He drives to/from his parents. I drive to/from Michigan for the annual MegaMeet scrapbook convention. We drive to/from: Penn State; day trips, local coffee shops and Millburn, a neighborhood city with a park, pond and Pokestops.

I always thought “home” could only be just one thing, one place.

Maybe it always has been.


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Writing the F-Word

“Think like a queen; a queen is not afraid to fail.”~Oprah Winfrey, American entertainer

The Letter F challenges writers, and many others, with a curious history of pronunciation, spelling and script.  


The other day, I caught the movie Frozen on TV. I haven’t seen it in years, and I still don’t see the blinding infatuation of it. Disney’s Beauty & the Beast or The Little Mermaid are far more visually engaging with entertaining stories…but that’s not the point right now. The last song in Frozen is “Let It Go,” which won both an Academy Award and a Grammy. It is unexpectedly bouncy and rebellious, and I sang those three words in my head for several maddening days.

I’m a #planneraddict, #plannergirl and many other #planner tags on Instagram.  I like lists.  I like stickers.  Lists make me feel organized and productive. She Who Abides By To-Do Lists experiences an incredible sense of satisfaction when I draw that checkmark in that checkbox, especially when there’s an owl or mermaid sticker next to it, my current obsessions.


There are so many planners and calendars and datebooks in the world, and there’s no way to address them all.  One image on Instagram led me to a site that led me to a site that led me to a site that eventually took me to the GET TO WORK BOOK site.  I’m not promoting this item, because other than the designer price tag of $55, the GTWB looks like any other paper planner.  It does offer an intriguing spin on breaking down your action items.

Most planners offer some wrap-up, check-in, progress-made section in their book.  Their website shows images of the interior pages so you know if this planning system works for your needs. At the end of each month, GTWB has a “Reflect and Goal Set” page divided into six sections. The first three boxes prompt you to review the definitive actions of your past four weeks: “Last Month’s Wins” plus “Still in Progress” and “To Let Go Of.” The second set of boxes encourage you to look ahead with personal less-structured questions: “To Think On” plus “To Work On” and “To Complete.”


“To Let Go Of” struck a chord in me.  I have a lot of To-Dos that I never seem to complete. I keep pushing them aside, for whatever reason, and these tasks hang over my head. I feel compelled to complete them. After all, I set the goal, so I should finish, right?

I live by my phone app, Due, which points out my failure constantly. By my choice, of course, because I use it. I wouldn’t own it if it wasn’t promoted by Starbucks years ago when they offered free App Of The Week cards. It’s a useful scheduling app complementing my online or paper calendar to type in appointments, weekly reminders, yearly events and due dates.  You set a timer for on-screen notifications, anything from 10 to 30 to 57 minutes or 3 to 6 to 24 hours, whatever time frame you need for the item to pop up in your face.


My Due setting is to “Keep alerting you to overdue reminders until they are marked done,” which is accomplished by swiping down on the notification box when it pops up and clicking the “Mark Done” line. My regular events include “Call (person) weekly,” “4:30pm: Do afternoon eye exercises,” and “Tuesday #writestuff Twitter chat, 9pm.”  

It’s an electronic snooze alarm filled with some tasks with no definite deadline, just an I-need-to-do-this-soonish timeframe. Those one-off tasks include “Buy (this item) in September,” “Look for (that) next week,” and “Review (this) mid-month.” The tasks I keep putting off haunt me. I feel responsible for them because I created them, and they hold me back.


Let it go. Three simple words, one difficult concept. We hoard our obligations as a contract to ourselves, and we judge success by them. How good would it feel to just hit a reset button and move forward with blank slate? Is that irresponsible or careless? Moving beyond that in itself is a measure of letting go. Can you do that? Of course you can. Will you give yourself permission to do that?



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Haiku for a Thursday morning: Be Kind

Roaming through iPhone photos, I rediscovered my haiku images from the beloved but now defunct app, Ku.

Poets of the form joined, posted poems, and we formed a community. The purpose was: write poetry. No bright colors or filters, no graphics or images, no emoji or stickers. Posts of pure words. Plain yet powerful.

Let’s rememberc that.

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When your cell phone crashes, do you?

I didn’t realize–I mean, really realized–how much of my life is attached to my cellphone until tonight when it locked up.

Friday, January 28, 2022:

I don’t know about you, but my phone is attached to my hip almost surgically. Texting is in my blood. Phone contacts are my life preserver. My calendar is my life reminder. Thank goodness I use a paper planner for some appointments, decorated with stickers. I use the clock as an alarm and a timer.  Just now, my phone froze and wouldn’t open or shut down.

To pass the frustrating time, I just put a load of laundry in the washer and thought, Let me set a timer for me to…oh, right, my phone isn’t working.

Of course, the fix couldn’t be easy. YouTube instructions went just so far. Online Apple support went just so far as well. “We need to send you a verification code. How do you want to receive: text or phone call?”

Neither, Apple, my phone is stuck!

Amen to us paying an obscene monthly amount for a landline. Lifeline.

Calling Apple Support got me to a human being in a brief moment of time, surprising and satisfying. John walked me though the steps, taking me beyond online support to phone backup. My life could not be that easy. After all the usual techniques, my only option: restore to factory settings.

Let that sink in for a moment. Factory Settings.

Thank goodness we own a family desktop computer–remember those?–in addition to our individual laptops. On a wing and a prayer, I mouse-clicked Restore.

I don’t even have my Spotify to listen to as my phone displays “Restore in Progress” as I flip out to iTunes on my desktop current displaying  “Restoring iPhone from backup…Time remaining: About 7 hours”. Like I’ll be able to sleep night until this completes.

Unfortunately, I do not (yet!) have an iCloud account with enough memory to backup, but I do backup to my desktop. Amen to physical hardware.

I backup my phone every 2-3 weeks, and always before updating the iOS software. My last backup was 1/4/2022 at 2:34am. Today is 1/28/2022 at 11:22pm.

I presume a month of my life will be lost when this is complete, still in “About 7 hours.” Reminds me of my awesome high school 11th grade English teacher. I adored him, partially because he constantly supported my writing.  On this particular day, my class was working on our individual essays in a shared computer room.

“Save after ever sentence. You don’t want to lose your work,” he said as a mantra. “Save after every sentence.”

Yeah, right, I thought, mentally rolling my eyes, as I expect most of my classmates did. That was excess and extreme. I saved after every paragraph. If I saved every sentence, I’d lose my flow of writing.

Suddenly, the room got dark. The computers hummed low. The lights snapped on and the computers hummed alive.

My teacher had turned the room’s power switch off.

“I hope you saved your document,” he said in a satisfying tone.

The room gasped and groaned as my classmates grumbled and growled. I lost a paragraph; some lost their entire document. Lesson learned.

Are you prepared if this disaster struck you?

Time remaining: About 6 hours.

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Easy Instagram Tips for Day 5 of the 12 Days of Christmas

On the fifth Day of Christmas, the blog I share to you is Jenn’s Trends.

Of all the social media outlets, I’m big on the Instagram format as dwhirsch.  I’m a scrapbooker.  I take an embarrassing number of screenshots daily.  I’m a visual person.  Using one square photo to describe an event, a moment, a past moment or a static text image appeals to me. Tell a story in one image with a short, snappy caption is a fun challenge.  For a format I enjoy, there’s a lot I don’t know about it.  That’s where Jenn Herman comes in.

Her blog posts are easy reads, short to digest, and highly focused on all the ways to maximize your exposure on Instagram. One post describes the strategy and her take on hashtags: 3-5 tags; 8-15 tags; or more than 30 tags?

I used Instagram Stories once to showcase my upcoming writing jaunts with Snufflet and Finse, my Office Guys.  The project was time-consuming and clunky.  Is it because I’m a perfectionist, or did I not know the tips and tricks for success? I know that before I use the Stories feature again, I’ll read Jenn’s primer on it.

If you’ve never explored Instagram before, wander over to the site and look around. Then go to Jenn’s blog and learn how to use it. Be sure to check out the hashtag #SnuffletFinse for my coffeeshop writing adventures.

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Travel journeys for Day 3 of the 12 Days of Christmas

On the third Day of Christmas, the blog I share with you is Pam Portland.

Her tagline is “a writer on a journey, without a destination,” but I feel her destination is that wandering. I met Pam through the weekly Twitterchat #writestuff. Her blog focuses and reflects on her moving journeys. I relate to her travel experiences. When I was a single 20-something living on my own a state away from my parents and all things familiar, I took random drives as something to do. They were my adventures: going to Asbury Park one evening to say I was there and walk on the beach while I was there; to drive across a covered bridge; to see where the “What if I turn left here?” took me.

Her recent post, Mousters Degree, speaks to memorabilia and freedom.  I’m a scrapbooker deeply attached to pieces of paper and photos, and I, too, worked at an amusement park one summer. Cedar Point in Ohio may not be the dizzy dream job of Walt DisneyWorld, but the behind-the-scenes experiences affect me even today.

Tip: If you ever want to go somewhere like backstage or the press section, walk with a purpose and act as if you belong there. You’re more likely to get through if people think you’re supposed to be there.

Her blog makes you think about your own life’s directions.

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How I’m celebrating the real 12 Days of Christmas with you

Did you that the Twelve Days of Christmas begin, not end, on December 25?

The Twelve Days begin on December 25–Christmas–and end on January 5–Epiphany, also called Twelfth Night. The 12 days before Christmas, often associated with the holiday song of the same name, are actually called Advent, a celebration dating back to year 567.

That’s enough of the Wikipedia history lesson. If you want to explore further, consider for more information on worldwide traditions.

Each day traditionally celebrates a feast or other event. In the spirit of sharing joy, for the Twelve Days of Christmas, I’ll share in no particular order 12 blogs that I enjoy, one each day.

Travel along with me from Saturday, December 25, 2021 through Wednesday, January 5, 2022, and discover new sites of inspiration and enjoyment.

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You will find inspiration in these 13 writing books

It’s been a month now, and this chat still stirs me.

Tuesday Twitter #writestuff started the weekly chat with Question 1:
What’s your favorite book about writing (fiction or nonfiction?)

Tiffany Arnold mentioned On Writing by Stephen King.

A cult leader but for corgis suggested both The Emotional Thesaurus by Angela Ackerman and Becca Puglisi; and Steal like an Artist by Austin Kleon.

Steven Capobianco recommended Wanderbook by Jeff VanderMeer.

Mark Gelinas mentioned Writing Magic by Gail Carson Levine.

LostMyHook suggested Bird by Bird by Annie Lamott.

Allie McCormack recommended The Complete Guide to Heroes and Heroines: Sixteen Master Archetypes  by Tami Cowden and Caro LeFever.

Wendy Roberts mentioned The Kick-Ass Writer by Chuck Wendig.

Chuck Rothman suggested Techniques of the Selling Writer by Dwight V. Swain.

Priya Sridhar also recommended On Writing and Writing Magic.

the_bearded_banfield mentioned Thrill Me: Essays on Fiction by Benjamin Percy.

Kevin Wayne Williams suggested About Writing by Samuel R. Delany.

Although not mentioned in this chat, Save the Cat! The Last Book on Screenwriting You’ll Ever Need by Blake Snyder is strongly recommended by my writing group.


The first inspiration I thought of was Writing Down the Bones by Natalie Goldberg.

Why? Gosh darn it if I know. Now that I’m an established writer and I know what I know,–and don’t know what I don’t know–how does that book inspire me? Now?

I pulled it off my self-help shelf of motivational writing books I don’t read anymore. My first reaction seeing the book was: How familiar.

I know I spent hours reading it, probably taking notes in a journal, but now I couldn’t remember a word. When I don’t know where to begin a book, I open it to a random page. That’s the page I was meant to read.

I flipped to Page 11 and read: “…your writing that is scary or naked, dive right into it. It probably has lots of energy.)”

That is exactly how my memoirs are, how I write them to be, as everyone in my critique group strives for. If a passage is uncomfortable to read it aloud, then you have accomplished your goal. “Naked.”

Page 40: “The ability to put something down–to tell how you feel about an old husband, an old shoe, or the memory of a cheese sandwich on a gray morning in Miami–that moment…you are free.”

What caught me was the specific cheese sandwich: sight (gray) and smell (I imagine grilled cheese). So slight and delicate. Those little moments–my moments, your moments–are the detail that brings writing to life, make your life authentic.

How does your writing make you feel?

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Who sends greeting cards anymore?

Just in time for MegaMeet tomorrow, I wonder: are Get Well cards extinct?

MegaMeet starts tomorrow, and I am so excited to be playing with papers and glue sticks in public again I can barely write this.

My class schedule includes one card class: “Holiday Sparkle Cards” by Diamond Dotz. Holiday and birthday cards are expected at MegaMeet because “scrapbook” is a flexible word encompassing all paper arts. What about get-well cards?

I took an all-occasion card class a few years ago called This & That. Using a simple, repetitive pattern with a color scheme of yellow, white and two shades of blue, we made 10 cards: Birthday; Thinking of you; Congratulations; Get Well; Wedding; Love; New Baby; Thank You; Friend; and Hello.

Some of my fun writing supplies

I didn’t glue some sentiments on the card designs because I didn’t need them all, especially Get Well. How do I know someone is sick until they’re well? People only communicate their health status on Facebook. Unless you’re on Facebook every hour and happen to see that initial surgery or illness post, by the time you read about the event, it’s over and too late for a card. It’s quicker to click (Heart)emoji your friend’s post? It’s more convenient to comment on a photo. It’s quicker to retweet a tweet. Who sends card anymore?

As dinosaur as it sounds, I mail cards, and not just because it’s National Letter Writing Month or an Instagram challenge. I sit at my table, push my laptop to the side and pull out colorful, blank note cards. I have two 50-count boxes I bought at Michael’s Black Friday 50% sale two years in a row.

Now I put these boxes next to the table. If I had to think about standing up from my chair and walking the seven steps up to my office to rummage through boxes on a shelf or out of a closet, then my friends would never get a paper piece of cheer mixed in with their bills and roof gutters advertisements.

I discovered the This & That cards as I packed my papers and adhesives. My goal is to use them.

First, I will finish these cards, even if that means spending time during the Friday Night Crop to complete. Maybe I can find a flexible interpretation of the words “get well,” or maybe coloring the phrase in blue glitter pen will be enough.

Second, I will mail them. Most card classes are too skimpy to provided the envelopes, leaving me the inconvenience of buying my own. Purchasing standard envelopes should be an easy trip to a craft store, but I’ll buy a larger manila envelope at an office supply or dollar store.

Do you even have stamps in your house? I do, fun ones that include Wonder Woman, Batman, Harry Potter, Pixar and Star Trek. I bet you want a card from me just for the stamp. I decorate my envelopes with stickers and address them in color, glitter gel ink pens.

I hope I never have to send my Get Well card. I prefer Thinking of You cards with glitter unicorn stickers on the envelope.

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Yes, you are finished writing your book

One of the best phrases a writer can say is: Move On.

I don’t mean that in a crazed I-can’t-do-this-I’m-a-terrible-writer discouraged way. Those words are an affirmation of your hard work and progress and completion.

“What do you know about your writing?” was this week’s topic at Montclair Write Group‘s Zoom Support Group.

K.B. needs writing prompts. Every Saturday, the group’s Free Write Zoom meeting gives writers three prompts to write from for 20 minutes each. He said they keep him writing. He knows he is a good writer because people tell him he’s a good writer.

C.S. needs to write that cliché $hi##y first draft. He feels confident afterwards, and he continues.

G.L. knows her writing is strongest at her beginnings and endings.

Me? I am a good writer. Somedays I’m a great writer. Somedays I’m a fantastic awesome-possum writer. No matter, I am always a good writer.

My just-released memoir, Star Trek, Mom and Las Vegas: A Grand Adventure is independently published at this moment, only available on Kindle.

There are parts about this book that I feel fantastic about and some places that are good. Any writer can feel the need to write on and edit and rewrite and tweak and edit forever. Since I’m published on Kindle, I can upload new text at my whim. This gives me endless opportunities to rewrite and fix the parts I’m less thrilled with from good to great parts and then into fantastic parts.

If I gave into temptation, I would upload updates past my generation into Stardate 2377.

Nope. That’s what I know about my writing. It’s good writing, some of it fantastic-great, and I’ll never get anything else completed if I obsess over it. I hit the Publish button. That memoir book is done. Time to move on. My next latest and greatest awaits.

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Reflecting good and bad on #AtoZChallenge 2021

Every year, I tell myself that I will love the annual #AtoZChallenge, and every year, I’m disappointed in something.

Daily blogging is hard, which is why I don’t do it. Too often Life happens and writing does not. Can I do it one month each year? Every April: Sure, no problem. Every May: A lot of stress for a project I didn’t complete.

#AtoZChallenge 2021 banner

I fell behind publishing alphabet posts after Letter D, a disservice to both my readers and myself. My completed, published posts were irregular after that, and too many currently sit in my Drafts. I will finish these half-written works of art–which is easier to do since the posts aren’t blank pages–and publish them this month on the Letter Day they match. That’s the best I can do for April given that today is May 3rd.

Did I choose the right challenge theme? Alphabet Haiku, two years in a row, this year with a twist.  I forget how hard it is to write these. I love writing haiku. That’s the easy part.  The problem is everything else. 

I adore each of my #AtoZChallenge poems, but designing them in phone apps like Retype and InstaQuote takes time.  Each haiku took longer to write than expected.  I became obsessed with perfection and the Word Finder tab on choosing words that begin with [letter]. This is a FABULOUS site for finding anything word-related, and I don’t use all caps lightly.  You’ll find Scrabble words; grammar help; words that contain/end/begin with [letters]; oh, and definitions.

My goal this year was to pre-write my posts. By doing that, I could sit back and peruse other blogs and enjoy a carefree month of reading and commenting. I don’t mind leaving some of the April spontaneity out because any post is spontaneous when it’s written.  Besides, any Scheduled post can be updated to be more modern at whim. Each April, I want to find new readers and make connections. For me to pre-plan a month of posts, I need to start this process at the beginning of March not the beginning of April.

Yay!  Frappuccino time.

I chose three media outlets to publish on: my blog here, Twitter and Instagram. That was fun. 

Twitter’s #sixwordstory hashtag is something I’ve used more recently in 2021.  A tight six words creates a stimulating challenge.  My rule was to tweet any Letter on their specific day.  As such, I couldn’t tweet my Letter A and B stories on May 2nd; only Letter B, and A was lost. I wrote these stories everyday until around Letter R.  It’s a fun hashtag, but like my haikus, it became exhausting looking for words.

Instagram is where I engage the most.  This was the only outlet I completely achieved my daily letter goal.  Many of my outstanding AR photos on my PokemonGO Instagram account will show up on my year-end Top Nine. When it’s easy, you enjoy it; when you enjoy it, it’s easy.  Other #AtoZChallenge posts are clever and delightful; check them out.  There are at least two blogs I found to explore, plus three accounts I now follow.

I missed commenting on daily posts, but I’m making up for that. Without the daily posting pressure, and having almost-ready-to-publish posts, I have the #AtoZChallenge Master List to peruse topics and browse blogs. Now that other bloggers don’t have their daily posting pressure, replies and comments may come easier. The hype has died down; we can all relax and enjoy.  I’ll look for the #AtoZChallenge Roadtrip.

Will I do this again next year?  Probably; I’m stubborn about completing things. I like to think I know what makes #AtoZChallenge satisfying for me. If I start now, I can finish next April by April.

How was your experience?

Reflections 2021 #atozchallenge

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Your recycling is your memoir #AtoZChallenge

Your recycling is a snapshot into your life.

#AtoZChallenge 2021 April Blogging from A to Z Challenge letter Y

Tuesday was recycling night, “Brown Goods (Paper/Cardboard)” per the township calendar.

Tuesday, I took a nighttime neighborhood walk in the easy spring air. Intriguing items put out for pickup:

– Weight Watchers chocolate snack bars. I recognize the box design.

– Pampers diapers for Swaddlers. Several boxes. A new baby.

– Amazon Prime box. It took me a long time to realize that the logo is a smiling arrow.

– Mirror. I’ve never seen the Mirror close up, only in TV commercials. That’s why I know the logo. The box is shorter than I imagined it would be.

– Two Domino’s pizza boxes and 12-pack case of Sprite.

– Nespresso machine and natural daylight face mirror. Cushion chairs. This feels like someone’s new beginning.

– Bug zapper. I can’t read the brand, but the oversize picture of that stereotypical silver tube is all I need. Summer is kinda soon away; backyard gatherings, too, I presume.

– Corelle dishes. I wonder what happened to the old ones? Are these an upgrade? Are they a different pattern or style. Replacement? Addition?

What does my recycling say about me?

Tuesday, our hodgepodge of boxes and papers is stuffed inside an old moving box.

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eXceptionally difficult letter, that X – #AtoZChallenge

Next to the letter Q,  X is an intimidating letter.

X is strong.
X crosses out.
X marks the spot.
X blocks entrances.
X crisscrosses threads that hold items together.
X adds hope through fingers and toes.
X begins Xe: a noble gas, an illuminating element.
X replaces Christ during winter holidays.

Why try to follow that? Y thinks it’s a good idea.

Wax unorthodox
soapbox mix.  Conflux transfix.
Redux?  Perplex?  Yes.

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Querying publications takes a strong soul – #AtoZChallenge

Queries go out; rejections return.
#AtoZChallenge 2021 April Blogging from A to Z Challenge letter Q

My writing is fabulous and should be published everywhere. That’s starry-eyed me. I know my awesome work is not appreciated by everyone nor suited for every publication, but editors don’t have to be so gosh darn rude about it. My latest rejection feels personal.

Dear D.W. Hirsch,
Thank you for submitting your haiku to [Publication] for consideration. Though we are honored that you chose to share these with us, unfortunately we are not going to publish them. We received a high volume of submissions, many of which were outstanding. We are unable to provide individualized feedback on your work, but we want you to know that this is not a reflection of its quality. We wish you the best finding another home for it.
Sincerely, [Editor]

The key line, which could have been left out, is: We received a high volume of submissions, many of which were outstanding.

I’m not outstanding? Ouch. I imagine a woman with a snooty upturned nose saying, “How dare she? This isn’t worthy of our magazine. Reply with our You Suck But We’ll Pretend That You Aren’t email.”

Of course it’s a reflection of its quality. If it wasn’t, I’d have a signed publication contract right now.

I could say, “It’s just some online publication, a specialty one at that. How many people actually read that thing?” Obviously enough people do, otherwise there wouldn’t be a need to seek submissions. I never dismiss a publication of any kind.  It may be small and targeted, but it’s valuable.  This publication accepts fiction, poetry, artwork and creative nonfiction. You’d think I’d fit in there somewhere.

I could say, “If you don’t like [this animal creature], you will never have an interest in reading this…unless you know someone who’s published a story in it.” Even then, I don’t know how many of my friends would humor me and read it without any interest in the subject material. They wouldn’t get my Star Trek as much as I wouldn’t get their Downton Abbey.

I do say, “Receiving a rejection means that you are sending material out into the world. Good job.” My focus is on productivity, because it’s too easy to procrastinate and watch YouTube videos rather than write.

Do your productive self.

Question quitting, quash
quandary, quiet quarreling,
quest quality, reach.

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Maybe you will write a letter today, or tomorrow #AtoZChallenge

My friends, how do I love thee? Let me count the stamps.#AtoZChallenge 2021 April Blogging from A to Z Challenge letter M

April is a month of showers before flowers, as well as other events:

In 2001, United States Postal Service designated April as National Card and Letter Writing Month, which is what I’m focusing on today.

“Compare sending someone a text message and getting a love letter delivered by carrier pigeon: No contest.”~Bryan Callen, American actor.

I discovered Letter Writing Month from write_on website, whom I thought  officially created that in 2014.  Somehow, years ago, I received a free package they mailed to me containing 10 note cards, a pen and a sheet of inspirational ideas.   I used one or two cards to write letters.  Then I stopped.  I always knew April Letter Writing Month was there, but I only thought about it in April, or maybe mid-March.

The website was static a few years, but now has current April 2021 posts along with cards for sale in a similar design ones with similar designs as mine were.a lot of promotion to buy note cards from eggpress and Hello!Lucky.  There’s a little too much promotion and selling for my taste.  The designs are similar to the cards I received, and I’m not a fan of the caveman-styled artwork, but the campaign is spot on.

These days, I don’t need another daily challenge.  The potential problem with anything daily is that skipping one day can make people feel soooooo bad about themselves, inadequate and sloppy.  The point of anything is to do something good that makes you feel good.

I have all the elements to send my friends Happy Mail, which is anything not a bill or store coupon.  I have sets of matching stationary/envelopes including my childhood Hello Kitty and Japanese notepaper; you never outgrow Hello Kitty.  I have a stash containing Hallmark’s Lady & the Tramp plus a half-used sheet of Mrs. Grossman’s stickers, those original ones. I have Forever postage stamps from when the panic was real and postage rates were increasing in 2007.  Not the boring Liberty Bell, mind you, but Batman, Wonder Woman, Harry Potter, Jazz Legends and American Inventions.

I write about my day, as if my friend was next to me, as if this was an everyday conversation.  There is nothing elaborate or planned out, not necessarily interesting.  It’s my slice of life.

“I’m in a coffeeshop drinking Sumatra coffee”
“It’s 10pm, and Law & Order is on the background.”
“Today the birdhouse fell off the  rope”
“Tomorrow I’m going to buy a dishwasher because the heater broke on ours.”

I don’t need a properly-formatted salutation, because I often write too much and have to squeeze five words into the last inch of space, so I only have room for:
                                                   <3 Di
(which is a heart for those of you whose device doesn’t show emojis).

write_on is presenting Writing and Drawing Kindness at 2pm Eastern on this Saturday, April 17. Sign up for tickets. It looks like fun.

Mistress, Majesty,
Musician, Mentor, Model,
Maiden, Mermaid: Names.

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Kudos to words in #AtoZChallenge

“Kerfuffle” is not a word I use often, and I need to find a way to do that.

#AtoZChallenge 2021 April Blogging from A to Z Challenge letter KI adore fun words.  I bet you do, too.  “Percolate” is one I do try to mix in my writing, and not because I’m a coffee junkie. “Whimsy” is something I bring to my blog.  If you’re reading this, I hope you think so, too.

Elle Driver from Kill Bill: Vol 2 said it best: “I’ve always liked that word…’gargantuan’… so rarely have an opportunity to use it in a sentence”

When I grow up, I want to create names for paint colors.

  • .
    These could be writing prompts.

    Those are just the one-word names; the creative explosion is in the more descriptive, emotional two-word names.

    I do want to say that I painted my room “Bootie Time.”

    Of all the words I do like, I don’t like the word “palpable.” I don’t know why, but you’ll never convince me otherwise.

    How can I use underused words?  Thoughts and ideas percolate in my head.

    Knowledge keeps keyboard
    karaoke kerfuffle
    kindhearted.  Listen.

    Kerfuffle.  There you go.  What can you come up with? Color me curious.

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