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:

WRITING:

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.
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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:

READING
–Blogs
–Magazines: trade publications and PennStater
–Books
–Social Media
PLAYING
–PokemonGO
–Planning
–Scrapbook/Mixed media crafting
ETC.
–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

WRITING

–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

READING

–Blogs
–Magazines: trade publications and PennStater
–Books
–Social Media

PLAYING

–PokemonGO
–Planning
–Scrapbook/Mixed media crafting

ETC.

–Housey things
–Friends and Family

Off we go into the Round 4 yonder.

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Lessons from a Lapras

“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

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, 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.

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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.
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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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A Penn State birthday #WeekendCoffeeShare writing & eating ice cream

If we were having coffee…

…we would NOT be having coffee.

Oh my gosh! Didn’t I tell you Penn State atmosphere is electric?!? Shoulder to shoulder crowds, the bars, the random football cheers, the street music. This town is too fab to have coffee, unless we squeak over to Webster’s Bookstore or Saints Café, but I’d much rather have Creamery ice cream. There’s nothing like State College on a football weekend…except when it falls on MY BIRTHDAY!

Where were you sitting for the game? We had West Side seats thanks to the Michigan Alumni chapter. That side is best for being out of the afternoon sun–you know, to minimize sunburn–but who would expect I’d be wearing winter-ish coat on the second week of September. And gloves! I should be wearing sunscreen for the second game of the season, not a sweatshirt. You can’t see my manicure under these gloves, and it’s the first manicure I’ve had since we moved into our house. Doesn’t make much sense when you’re soaked in cleaners and sudsy water all day. This week, I don’t care. I didn’t have much time for anything else, especially with a Labor Day filled with Pokémon GO Legendary Dog raids with my husband, our version of a “playdate.”

“We Are…!”
(“Penn State!”) I yell back to whomever started the cheer.
“Thank you!”
(“You’re welcome!”) I and others around me reply.

I’ve been told we have the politest college cheer around. Who else thanks themselves? You may be ear-sore from it, but I never get tired of it. Okay, maybe late, late in the night, when the chant echoes in my sleep, but while I’m awake, I could cheer all day.  As long as I have a voice that is.  And how can I still have a voice since…

WE WON!! This is payback from last year. Back on our schedule after 20-some years, it was a deep rivalry now because everyone remembers how those games usually turned out. Pitt from Pittsburgh–my hometown–and Penn State–my alma mater–it was a state-within-state game, always early in the season. Last year, I was there in Pittsburgh, in the broiling sun, the kind where sunscreen dries out, next to some horrible Pitt fans–not even alumni–and I was miserable, almost sunsick. This year, a sold out Pseudo-White Out crowd. Isn’t that a breathless sight to see?  Over 109,000 people rolling and shaking Beaver Stadium in a blinding, haunting wall.

Speaking of Pokémon GO, playing on campus is a dreamstate. PokeStops, critter and Gyms everywhere. My husband ordered this charging phone case for me just for this day. It’s my first time using it, but this Anker slim sleeve seems to be working. Better than the portable chargers I also have with me. This case is vital, an awesome gift. Between PokemonGO and Swarm, I’d have no battery life for Instagram or Facebook.

You’ve heard me rant about the evils of Facebook. I still use it for my Author Page, but that’s about it…until my birthday. I feel the love with birthday wishes on my wall or in my news feed. People don’t send cards anymore, so I take what I can get.

Like I have time for social media today. That’s the irony of it all.

I’ve become one of those alumni who pays $6 for a car magnet. **I turn to my husband** You go ahead to Lions’ Pride. I’ll meet you after we go into Family Clothesline. **I turn back to you** He’s surprising me with dinner somewhere tonight. It’s a birthday thing; the birthday person does not choose the restaurant. I don’t know where we’ll get in given this larger crowd, but I like surprises. As for birthday gifts, this weekend, I’m treating myself to selfish gifts. It’s not always my birthday falls on such a signature game.

I actually did sneak some writing in this week. Tuesday after Labor Day, I went to my local haunt, Rock ‘n’ Joe’s, in the Union train station. Again I worked on blog posts. Not the worst things to do. It’s not my memoir, but I am writing. After my manicure on Wednesday **I take off gloves, show off blue glittery and shimmery white nails** I wrote at SmartWorld in Denville. I organized some projects for next week, kind of making a schedule. Imagine that! I can’t complain.

Come join us tomorrow for our mandatory photo at the Lion. We’ll walk over to the Creamery from there. The line is probably and hour or an hour and a half. Trust me, the ice cream is worth the wait. The cone can be as tall as your face. You’ll see. There’s a reason that line is always this long. It’s full of people sharing stories and events and memories and favorite flavors. Plenty of time for us to talk and for you to share:

How was your week?

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An almost-birthday writing reflection of #ROW80 this #WeekendCoffeeShare

If we were having coffee….

I’m glad you could stop in. This little Starbucks, as you know, is the place we normally say faretheewell to my in-laws before our 12-hour drive back to Michigan. Now that we’re 2 hours away in Jersey, we don’t need those dramatic goodbyes. Now we hold our goodbyes in the driveway. But my husband and I still stop by sometimes on our way home, or just when we’re out and about, like today. I’m having a tea today because dinner is in about an hour.

This is a break before we drive around Lansdale to fill our Pokémon items bags. We found a group of people who go out and play Pokémon. Since we now have friends to play with–several hundred on this What’s App message board of sorts–we finished a bunch of Legendary Bird raids in legendary style. We raided with the same people and compared our catches, our frustrations thus cementing the bonds of Pokeship. Now the Legendary Dog raids have begun, and we need to be prepared for Raikou, the Dog in North America this month.

This is an overnight trip for us. We just came from the Penn State TV Tailgate at Vanderbilt’s in Florham Park. The Northern New Jersey hosts these weekly Saturday get-togethers, and the bar has drink specials. There was a crowd of about 35 people, which is not bad for the first game of the season. Penn State beat the Akron Zips in a shutout. We got home–here, home, at my in-laws–in time for dinner. They took us out for Italian at Pasta Mista in nearby Chalfont, and his mom was insistent that we not order dessert there. Several times, in fact. Why? They had a chocolate birthday cake for me!

My writing really, really fell by the wayside, and my birthday’s next weekend, so I can’t use that as an excuse. No matter how many to-do lists or ways I structured and restructured my goals, I did not make writing a priority. My ROW80 Round 3 goals loom in front of me, slipping away.

1–Craft a succinct 30-second book elevator speech.
Haven’t done that because there’s no rush to do that. I need deadlines.

2– Continue my 17 Writing Outlets in 2017 and follow through.
I can’t follow through unless I start.

3–Fine tune a regular social media schedule.
Once I catch up on things in my life, I can try different outlets. Committing time actually scares me for some reason, and I’ve put off thinking about it.

6–Schedule weekly Myself-Time to review all these goals.
4–Catch up, let go of and/or publish old blog posts.
5–Catch up on email.
Catch up. Keep up. Need to get to some place I’m comfortable at, and I’m not there yet.

7–Work on memoir and other stories.
My Montclair memoir critique group makes me look at the document every 2 weeks when I print out some 5-page segment for review.

Round 3 ends in about 20 days. I gotta get rockin’ on them. I did get to Boonton Coffee on Friday. I worked on my blogging because I left my memoir edit at home. *rolls eyes* There was some productivity there, so I look at that as a success.

My husband and I have to get back home in a few, just enough time for us to make that Pokémon items run. We’re having ribs for dinner, and they like us to be prompt. Before I go, tell me how your week went.

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Sharing the most interesting writing idea this #WeekendCoffeeShare

If we were having coffee….

I’m glad you could meet us here in Cranford. Today is my day for a Celebratory Frappuccino. I caught another Moltres and my first Tyranitar. I had poor luck yesterday while my husband rocked the Pokémon world.

I read the phrase “Raid Burnout” last week and was like, what the heck is that? After two days of finally doing Legendary raids, I totally get that.

We’re video game storm chasers, my husband said. We never had anyone to play with until a week ago. We drove by Hall Stadium in Union and saw a cluster of people staring down at their phones.

We pulled over to ask what they were doing. They were raiding a Gym, I forget which Legendary Bird, but that’s when we discovered this group of people who bike and drive around to catch ’em all. Now we have friends to play with!

This is our rest break before something else pops up nearby. Apparently, this is a great area for Pokémon and raids and stuff.

Good thing, too, because I got the final okay that my fractured ankle has healed. The bone may not be 100% fused yet, but I don’t need to worry about physical therapy anymore.

My husband’s eclipse view outside his office

Did you see the eclipse this week? I swear, no one must have been at work Monday. I watched from my backyard through this perfect opening in our treeline forest. I invited my next-door neighbors over.

At 2:47pm, that was the totality in Jersey. We looked at it backwards through the reflection on our cell phone screens and more directly at it when mild cloud cover provided just enough of a window shade. My husband, however, had a fabulous view with perfect cloud coverage. Breathtaking. Look, I’ll show you the photo he texted me.

Thursday was Montclair Write Group’s weekly evening workshop. We watched two video lectures of Tillar Mazzeo’s Writing Creative Nonfiction series from The Great Courses series. She demonstrated her ideas for character sketches by looking at newspaper personal ads. You got a sense of his or her personality and values.

That was the most interesting, eye-opening idea: write my own personal ad in 25 words or fewer. I wonder what I’d say?

On that note, how’s your week?

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