Change is Coming

There are many types of bloggers out here on the interwebs, and I’m still finding my footing. Even after all these years of blogging, writing, and blogging about writing. I used to think I wanted to, one day, become a published writer, but I’ve come to understand something about myself: I’m really not all that disciplined to do so.

As I’ve got multiple failed attempts under my belt – from Project Firedamp in 2016 to Project Star and Sea most recently in 2020 – publication is no longer a viable path for me. I’ve failed at so many short story attempts it’s not even funny. I’ve failed at consistently posting web story series. I’ve failed at completing any manuscript on my hard drive.

Because of this decision, my website will undergo a transformation. Let me go ahead and answer a few questions you may already have: yes, I’ll still be reading. Yes, I’ll still blog about life, books, history, and writing stuff. No, I’m not disappearing for good. Things are just…changing. And never before would I have personally accepted or attempted this change if I didn’t feel it was a good direction to go in.

Now, mind you, I’m no expert in reviewing books. I’ve tried doing them on my site in the past, but I realized, very quickly, that I was only reviewing books that disappointed me. How biased is that? So I’ll be taking another look at how I’ll do so moving forward. I’m also going to try expanding my reading habits, though I know I’ll always revert back to my favorite genres.

Look for changes in the coming days, weeks, months, years. Because change is coming to anotherhartmanauthor.com. Including this site’s link. Authorship may no longer be my goal in life, but if I can help others achieve their dreams, then why not use this visibility to do so?


It’s Time To Bare My Soul

Let’s begin this post with this: I haven’t written a single thing in weeks. Literal weeks. Can I even still call myself a writer at this point if that’s the case?

I don’t want to call it procrastination. I can’t call it burnout either.

I suppose the full purpose of this particular blog post is to ask: am I alone in this?

It’s not yet June and I’ve already read 83/100 books this year. Yay?
It’s not yet June and I haven’t even scratched the surface of my WIP.
It’s not yet June and I don’t know if any of my efforts from the last five years will ever amount to something.

Am I alone in this?

I see Twitter acquaintances come and go as they further, or give up on, their publication journeys. I don’t branch out – I’ve found Twitter to be an exceedingly toxic place as of late. And all that “noise” has turned me into someone I don’t know anymore.

So many arguments over “the best way to be published.”
So many disagreements and “calling outs” for seemingly mundane things.

I’m not sure if I can continue on this journey.

I normally wouldn’t make a post about this, preferring to be uplifting for other folks. But every time I open my WIP, it doesn’t happen. Every time I go to blog something I thought would be a great new addition to this site, I sit on it for days, or weeks, at a time.

Again I ask, am I alone in this?

Last year was the most productive I’ve ever been. I don’t know why I feel moreso under pressure than when I’m calm.

I know I’m probably reaching, asking for any input you may have, but if you’ve the time, I’d love to have a discussion on this in the comments below. There’s something keeping me from continuing on with whatever direction this writing thing will take me and I just don’t know what it is…


Why I Don’t Write (All That Much) On Sundays

“Sunday is the golden clasp that binds together the volume of the week.”

Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, source

“Sometimes I have loved the peacefulness of an ordinary Sunday. It is like standing in a newly planted garden after a warm rain. You can feel the silent and invisible life.”

Marilynne Robinson, source

“Happiness is a hot bath on a Sunday afternoon.”

A.D. Posey, source

“Sunday is a time when you sit back and reflect on all the blessings that you have received. Smile at all the good things that you are enjoying.”

Sera Train, source

An aesthetic I created for my WIP, Project Star and Sea

Sundays. Love ’em or hate ’em, we get them once a week. Like clockwork. Sundays have never been days off for me. Throughout childhood and into adulthood, my family and I have attended church and many a family event on Sundays. I tried having half day availability for work to include Sundays, but it became just too much to handle. So I know, for sure, that I’ll always always have Sundays off work.

Even though I mentioned family events and church, Sundays truly are the one day I have to myself for whatever I want to do. Yard work? Housework? Laundry? Yes, please, to all that and more! The one thing I’ve decided, however, is that I don’t really want to write on Sundays.

Does that sound weird to you? It kind of does to me. Let me explain my logic.

While I have been known to whip out a notebook or even my laptop in the sound booth at church (I run the sound board, and there’s not much to do while the minister’s speaking), I’ve found that I really can’t form a coherent thought when it comes to my manuscript. So Sundays are now reserved for everything BUT writing.

Honestly? I’m really happy with this decision. In many more ways than one, writing is work. Don’t deny it. You know that’s true. When I’m at work, I’m pulled in twenty different directions, and my brain is constantly thinking about my WIP. The mind itself needs a day of rest, not just one’s body. What do I do on Sundays, now that I don’t work on my WIPs?

1. Clean (trash day in my neighborhood is on Tuesday)
2. Laundry (I often wash my fabric masks this day)
3. Cook/Dishes (mass prep for meals for work)
4. Research (gotta continue learning stuffs for science fantasy)
5. Spend time with family
6. Organize (declutter declutter declutter!)

And so much more!

You know how there are all these popular blogs on how to schedule your writing time, or how to prioritize your work space to prevent procrastination, etc.? Well, this is one of my ways to keep my mind productive on a “writing day off.” If I can do it, so can you.

TL;DR – It’s perfectly okay to take a “writing day off.” Trust me – your brain will thank you for it!


Prioritizing My, Well, My Priorities

If you’ve read my blog for a long time, you’ll know this site has gone through several shifts in terms of content output, content type, and so on. It’s always, always had something to do with writing, and the lessons I’m continuously learning on my journey to publication.

Earlier this week I updated you all on Why I Will No Longer Blog About Star Trek, and my thoughts have, surprisingly, been very well received. I didn’t know there were others who felt the same way. I know – I can FEEL – that all these new changes are directly related to the post before that, Burnout // It’s Real, Y’all. All these thoughts on change began long before that with a post from a few months ago, The Social Media Conundrum.

Much to my parents’ chagrin, I’m slow to make decisions on anything in my life, and becoming a writer and doing writer things decisions did not escape that trend. I outlined my reasons for no longer blogging about Star Trek in Tuesday’s post, and that change dramatically freed my mind almost overnight. It’s strange – no longer having something constantly on my mind like that.

So I wondered – what other changes can I make to assist my writing habits? (or lack thereof) I took a moment this morning to browse old blog posts, and The Social Media Conundrum popped up. Huh – social media. That’s a whole other beast to deal with, if you even want to deal with it. Over a year ago I liberated myself from Facebook. I do, however, still have Twitter and Instagram. And, not ten minutes ago, I deleted my tiny Reddit and Pinterest accounts.

Can you imagine having an account for every social platform available? There are literally not enough hours in the day to browse/interact/post, then work your “real life” job. Then try to sit down and concentrate on your writing. It’s not gonna happen. Just thinking about having more than two social media accounts really stresses me out.

I’m a simple girl.

Now, don’t get me wrong – I know social media’s dramatically changed the publishing world. Apparently publishers like seeing numbers on SM accounts. In my humble opinion, if that’s the end-all-be-all deciding factor for a publisher agreeing to sign on a new author, then that publisher isn’t worth it.

Don’t let your desire to be publish be clouded by what they think you should or shouldn’t be doing. You’re not signing your life over to them. It should be an equal partnership. Of course, this is me: not published. I hope, however, that I can always hold true to this statement. Someone please point me back to this post if I get a big ego, okay?

What was I talking about? Oh yes. Priorities.

This week alone I finally, FINALLY wrote over 6,000 words for Project Star and Sea. I haven’t seen that many words since my very first novella attempt and lost steam after that. Resetting my priorities with finally dismissing Star Trek and two forms of social media have helped immensely. Y’all – if I can do that, anyone absolutely can.

I’m looking forward to a summer of productivity and, who knows? Maybe I’ll actually complete a first draft for once!


Burnout // It’s Real, Y’all

Online content moves at a pace akin to Star Trek’s “warp speed,” and probably even faster than that. That’s what content posting was like on this website for several months. Until it stopped cold. Today’s post is all about why that happened.

Just as with any creative outlet, blogging is its own beast. Any content creator can experience burnout (or insert-here-whatever-adjective-you’d-like-to-use to describe such a thing here), and that’s precisely what hit me a few weeks ago.

I was utterly, completely, equivalently burnt out. I saw the return – you guys really liked my voice! – and that encouraged me to compose several posts a week. Not only that, but I could barely keep up with all the random topic ideas which would crop up in the middle of the night.

My heart, however, just wasn’t in it this month. Every time I sat down to write something, anything, for this site, I’d move it to the trash bin a day later. Was I done blogging for good? Don’t get me wrong – I still love creating content!

We humans love to see things happen in real time. And it’s super satisfying watching stats, seeing the clicks and knowing I’ve somehow contributed something of value to our writing and reading communities.

However, at what point does that become selfish motivation? That, my friends, is the biggest reason I took some time for reflection. There’s no way I’ll ever win accolades with the writing presented on this forum.

Sure, it would be exciting to be featured in a NYT post, or a magazine, or on someone else’s blog. Let’s face the facts: I’m not even published yet. And that’s the second reason I took time off. I’m never going to finish any novel if all I’m doing is pumping out three blog posts a week every week.

And finally, here’s the third reason I haven’t blogged this month: I’ve found myself changing on the inside. I’m not the same person I was six months ago. I no longer love Star Trek (so, while I’m proud of the ones I’ve written, I’ll not be adding any more to that topic), I’m no longer enamored with k-pop, and I’m exploring who I am as an adult.

What do I want? Is this really how I want to live the rest of my life? How do I live more like Jesus taught us? (and I’ve never, ever said something like that in a blog post before). How do I show that love to others? How can I live it both online and at my full time job?

I suppose it wasn’t exactly burn out with JUST the blog. I burned out with life. And how I’ve been living up to this point. What does this mean for the future of this site?

It means things will slow down.
It means things will be done in a (hopefully) more thoughtful manner.
It means I’m reassessing my own writing and what I want to accomplish.

As in actually accomplish.

Not just wishfully accomplishing in my mind.

YES – blogging will still happen! YES – writing will still happen! YES – author interviews will still happen! However different it may be, I hope you’ll stick around.

Have a fantastic upcoming weekend, everyone. Please don’t be afraid to leave a comment. I could really use the encouragement.


Stuck On Your Story? Here Are Fifty Things to do That Have Nothing To Do With Writing

If you’ve spent any time in the blog-o-sphere, or even in any of the online writing communities of Twitter and Reddit, then you’ll know you’re not alone in being in a “writing rut.” The majority of us can’t travel for inspiration. Or do that once planned visit to research in the largest library in the country (my derailed plans from last year – thanks ‘rona).

Here’s the cold hard truth: you have ambitions, yes. But perhaps it’s time to step away from that computer/writing space/etc. and get out of your head. Do something mindless. Do something you used to love and try doing it again. Don’t know what to do? Here’s a list of Fifty Things To Do That Have absolutely Nothing To Do With Writing:

  1. Ride a bike
  2. Go ice skating
  3. Walk the dog (or cat?)
  4. Redo that troublesome closet
  5. Buy yourself flowers
  6. Plan this year’s garden
  7. Learn a new skill
  8. Cook a favorite meal
  9. Take a hot shower/bath (seriously)
  10. Declutter your workspace
  11. Visit a local home improvement store for project inspo
  12. Fix that thing that’s needed fixing for a long time
  13. Zoom with family or friends
  14. Start a blog
  15. Go through your old stories
  16. Watch soap-making videos on YouTube
  17. Get lost in social media (but not too lost. Save your sanity!)
  18. Reread a favorite novel series
  19. Try outlining your own work-in-progress for the first time
  20. Conduct interviews for your characters
  21. Offer to edit a paper or two for students you know
  22. Support small businesses in your area
  23. Find a local charity and see what they’re volunteer needs are
  24. Try your hand at freelance writing
  25. Learn how to use a graphics design program
  26. Build “mood boards” for your characters, or theme boards for inspo
  27. Have a “binge” day – eat the food you want, watch the shows you want
  28. Snuggle with your snuggle buddy
  29. Splurge on all those teas you’ve had your eyes on
  30. Find a new genre of music to listen to
  31. Learn calligraphy
  32. Consider caring for fish. Or plants?
  33. Make a #WIPAesthetic to visualize a character’s emotions
  34. Have a movie night where the film’s themes match your own WIP
  35. Pick a random topic and research research research
  36. Learn needlepoint or knitting
  37. Join a local writer’s group
  38. Plan your spring farmers’ market trips
  39. Clean out the basement or attic (or both)
  40. If you can, offer to shop for a neighbor
  41. Redesign a space in your home
  42. Power wash your drive/walk/siding
  43. Clean out the gutters (you know it’s probably time)
  44. Make a purchase from that shop you’ve been eyeing for a long time
  45. Donate to a food pantry
  46. Pick back up an old family tradition
  47. Create a playlist for your work-in-progress
  48. Go for a run/walk
  49. Find all those things you know relax you and just RELAX
  50. Write letters (yes, old school snail mail)

Looks like SOME of the suggestions have something to do with writing. Writing doesn’t always have to be a chore: constantly drafting, especially when stuck. I used to do needlepoint but often got frustrated and never completed them. Thus, wasting money. A few weeks ago, however, I decided to try again. This time, I bought a pattern where I don’t have to count my stitches. Why do I still enjoy it? It’s really freed up my mind, doing something mindless. You don’t always have to write at warp speed. Slow down. Give yourself a break. And perhaps, perhaps, you’ll find some story inspiration along the way!


My Writing Goals for 2021

In 2019 I gave myself seven writing goals to accomplish by this time, this year. I completed every single one of them! Ha, no. That would be a lie *insert clip of Maury reading lie detector results in front of a live audience.*

The shutdowns in early 2020 really put a damper on my earliest planned goals. Let’s revisit My Seven Writing Goals for 2020 real quick before moving on to what I’ve got planned for 2021.

1. Finish Project Firedamp

Considering the fact that Project Firedamp is now shelved and saved onto my external hard drive, it’s safe to assume I didn’t accomplish this particular goal. While I’m sad that my original project – this idea began my writing journey and encouraged me to launch this site – is a bit beyond my reach right now, it’s always an ever-present thought in the back of my mind. So, who knows? Perhaps I’ll revisit Firedamp in the future.

2. Tour More Historical Sights

I finally managed to tour the industrial, historical city of Johnstown, Pennsylvania back in September. Before everything shut down, I had local coal mines, area farms, a blast furnace, and a local observatory on my “to tour” list in late Spring. Every Forth of July, my family and I also take a steam train trip either within Pennsylvania or somewhere close in the tri-state area. I count myself lucky that we were still able to visit Johnstown. I hope more historical sights are able to reopen in 2021.

3. Bring More Story-Themed Decor Into My Home

Shortly after writing the original post I realized something about myself. I prefer practical, vintage elegance over Victorian-esque objects that may not even work. What changes have I made this year? I no longer watch television, so my living room’s now a library. Yay!

4. Visit the Library of Congress for a Day

Okay. This one hurt more than all the others. It was to be the first trip I’d ever take by myself. I was going to get an AirBNB close to the Mall and work on a manuscript in the Library of Congress. And, perhaps, reenact that one scene from the first National Treasure film. Maybe I still can this time next year?

5. Build a Paper Organizer

I nixed this idea around June or July as I had the opposite problem with all the shut downs – I was working way too much due to my company’s status as an essential business. As a result, my DIY and crafting projects got pushed to the wayside. Instead, I now have plans to build a baking area. We’ll see how that goes…

6. Write in Tennessee (aka go on vacation)

This turned into the aforementioned Johnstown trip. I still need to go back to Tennessee

7. Hand Copy a Novel

Yeah – I didn’t complete this either. 2020 wasn’t a good year for me and I really lost momentum with my writing…

My Writing Goals for 2021

If I learned anything in 2020 it’s that life can throw us unrelenting curve balls. I spent much of these past twelve months disappointed in my sudden inability to write.

1. Work on my Self Doubt

For some reason I found myself in a state of denial for much of 2020. I thought, “Naw. I’m fiiiiiiiine. This covid thing isn’t affecting me. I’m just going about life all normal.” When August hit, and I still hadn’t written a thing, I became incredibly discouraged and almost deleted absolutely everything. While I did accidentally delete EVERY BACKUP FILE FOR THIS SITE from my hard drive with no hope of getting it back, I did safely store everything I had concerning Project Firedamp on Google Docs for future use.

In the meantime, two new ideas came to me in recent weeks. And each of them are polar opposites of them. I know many authors dabble in multiple genres; but I’ve yet to complete one project. So my first writing goal for 2021 is to tackle my self doubt head on.

2. Set Aside Actual Writing Time

This goal will be a tricky one to work out. Why? My work schedule follows the trends and rules of the retail business. It’s never consistent. I can close one night only to go back in eight hours later and do it all over again the next morning. How the heck is someone like me supposed to find a logical time to write?

Even though I pride myself on being a chameleon of sorts when it comes to varying schedules, I often wish I could become a creature of predictable habits. The other thing I need to learn to balance is how much time I spend blogging. Blog posts ≠ a completed manuscript. (Except, according to the Insights page, I’ve so far written 59,949 words for anotherhartmanauthor.com). That’s practically a novel right there!

So this goal is two fold: set aside time for novel writing, and time for blog writing.

3. Go On Those Historical Adventures

Of course this goal will all depend on what reopens in 2021, but I still want to write for a day in the Library of Congress, stare at the heavens from a local observatory’s telescope, and take that steam train trip again on the Forth of July. I still want to return to Tennessee, go spelunking in a Pennsylvanian coal mine, and tour a sight that plays an integral role in my very first novel concept.

4. Finish. That. Manuscript.


Everybody I’ve talked with recently has said they look forward to 2021. And the feeling is quite mutual. I think four writing goals is a manageable, attainable list, don’t you? Seven was definitely far too many, especially for a year like 2020.

This website’s first series will begin Wednesday, February 3rd. I love doing these writing community interviews because, not only do they give me something to look forward to during the slow crawl to Spring, but I get to meet many new faces. So while the Five Question Interview series isn’t exactly a goal, it definitely will help my ever-present self doubt. Will you try something new for yourself in 2021?

What is it?

You don’t have to tell anyone.

Just do it!


The Top TenS of 2020 // Stats Edition

It’s Monday, December 28th. Four days from the start of a New Year. Four days until I can start writing “2021” in the date line of my checkbook. I just aged myself with that checkbook line, didn’t I? And four days to wrap things up on this blog for 2020.

It’s the time of year I start looking at the analytics for my website far more closely than any other time. What pages and posts were the most popular? Where do my readers come from? Did the content intrigue anybody enough to leave a comment or two?

This year, instead of looking at just what my most popular posts were (like I did for last year’s version of this post) we’ll take a look at the Top Ten Countries, Top Ten Referrers and then the Top Ten Blog Posts and Pages.

Top Ten Countries

This list is always exciting to look at because it changes every year. Because of my geography, and the fact that my only language is English, visitors from the top four countries make the most sense. I am, however, always positively thrilled when someone visits my site from South Korea or Japan. Here are the country lists from 2020 and 2019:

2020
United States 🇺🇸
Canada 🇨🇦
United Kingdom 🇬🇧
Ireland 🇮🇪
Philippines 🇵🇭
China 🇨🇳
India 🇮🇳
Australia 🇦🇺
France 🇫🇷
Croatia 🇭🇷

2019
🇺🇸 United States
🇬🇧 United Kingdom
🇨🇦 Canada
🇮🇪 Ireland
🇦🇺 Australia
🇵🇭 Philippines
🇮🇳 India
🇫🇷 France
🇩🇪 Germany
🇿🇦 South Africa

As expected, the United States, Canada, the UK and Ireland take the top four spots – thank you all so much! And thank you to everyone kind enough to stop by my little corner of the internet. You’ve made this the best year yet for anotherhartmanauthor.com.

Top Ten Referrers

Now that we know what countries you all come from the most, let’s take a look at how you found me. These also varied greatly from 2019 to 2020, and it’s really making me think twice about completely abandoning Twitter; a decision I’d made in this recent blog post. Here are the top ten referrers for 2020 and 2019:

2020
Twitter
Google Search
Baidu
Bing
Facebook
WordPress Reader
Instagram
raedvdr.wordpress.com
ecosia
YouTube

2019
Twitter
Facebook
Google Search
Baidu
Yahoo
WordPress Reader
Instagram
en.gravatar.com
Juno webmail
linktree

Top Ten Posts & Pages

Here’s the fun part of today’s post – looking at what drew you guys here in the first place! I know this isn’t the most exciting blog post ever, but it just shows what of hard work and a little bit of patience can accomplish. If you’re just starting out in the blog-o-sphere, don’t fret! Give yourself time. Build an audience. Make friends. Learn what works best for your site, and run with it. Here’s what attracted you to anotherhartmanauthor.com in 2020 and 2019:

I think the data speaks for itself: looks like I’m doing the Five Question Interview series once again in 2021!

Do you want to blog but
you’re not sure how to get started?

Throughout 2019, along with a couple posts thereafter, I share my experiences with blogging and figuring out what worked and what didn’t. Here are five blog posts to help you get started in 2021!

  1. Why Now is A Great Time To Start A Blog
  2. Three Blog Ideas That Worked
  3. Three Blog Ideas That Failed
  4. A Beginner’s Guide to Creating Graphics in Seven Easy Steps
  5. How to Maintain a Writer’s Website
  6. Useful Tools and Tags

Think of blogging this way: if I can do it, anybody can do it. Even you! I was incredibly nervous the first few times I put up blog posts, but eventually it became second nature. Now, I can’t stop blogging! Find what works for you and, as mentioned earlier, run with it. Find your niche and what you love to write about it. And one day you’ll have your own top ten lists as well.


What I Bought From the Kawaii Pen Shop.

A couple of months ago I put up a post titled Seven Online Stationary Shops I Need to Buy From ASAP.

The lessons learned during this particular experience were many, though it should’ve been a simpler process.

Before we get into all that, let’s take a look at what I purchased. I had a difficult time sifting through the site’s offerings, so I made a mental note: only buy a little, at first. $46 + some change later, here’s what I chose.

Kawaii Pendant Gel Ink Pen. The charm’s what drew me to this piece. It reminded me of the Japanese manga Sailor Moon. A loose reminder, but a reminder nonetheless. After owning this pen for two weeks it stopped writing. Not only that, it stopped writing and leaked a big puddle onto my desk. Price: $2.59 + one desk.

Kawaii Pendant Gel Ink Pen
Gel Ink Stain on my desk…

Sweet Pocky Pens

Sweet Pocky Pens. If you’re unfamiliar with this sweet, Pocky is a stick shaped biscuit treat first developed in 1971 Japan. Since its inception many versions of the chocolate covered treat have hit the market and can now be found in many popular North American retailers. So I really liked the look of these pens, and have to remind myself to not take a bite out of them! While they’re aesthetically pleasing, I’ve yet to find a good way to hold them. However, I do appreciate the fact the pens’ manufacturer flattened one side of it so the design would always face up. Price for two: $4.98.

My Neighbor Totoro Gel Ink Pen. As much as I adore Studio Ghibli, I did not like this pen. The Totoro top is a thin, rubbery piece of felt, and it stopped writing just like the pendant pen. I’m just grateful it didn’t also leak all over my desk. Price: $2.39.

Japanese Pattern Washi Tapes

KOKUYO Dot Liner Applicator + Bear Hug Correction Tape. When I’ve the time for it, I love crafting. Making cards, stationary pages and more. I really like how the dot liner is re-loadable. Most American versions of double-sided tape dispensers are one time use tools. This brings me to the correction tape applicator. Its adorable design made me buy it. I didn’t need it, but I wanted it. Dot Liner: $3.99. Bear Hug: $2.99.

Macaron Galaxy, Japanese Patterns, and Slim Washi Tapes. So far, these items are the only things to perform as they should. The Japanese Patterns tapes were a bit tricky to use as the sticky side is adhered to paper rather than just the other side of the roll. The stars tapes, both the gold and aqua silver rolls, are gorgeous. Price for all washi tapes: $17.47

Totoro Plastic “Stickers” and Thin Washi Tapes

Kawaii Totoro Plastic Stickers and Kanahei Bunny Stickers. As a kid I was a sucker for stickers. Even now, if I see cute stickers, I have to at least drool over them before convincing myself I really don’t need a sticker collection. I’m glad I picked up the bunny stickers – my seven year old niece will love them. But the Totoros? They’re not stickers at all. Plastic, yes. But there’s nothing sticky about them. They’re merely plastic cut outs of the characters, and I can still use the Dot Liner to apply them to my next letter. Price of Totoro “stickers:” $3.99. Price of bunny stickers: $3.59.


I placed my order on July 31st, they acknowledged it June 1st, and shipped it June 2nd. When did the package actually arrive? August 4th. It took two months to receive it. I’m most mad at myself because I knew, before deciding to place an order, that they’re based out of Hong Kong. The day it appeared in my mailbox I was going to file a dispute for the transaction to get my money back. Moral of the story: Never shop online during a pandemic unless what you’re shopping for is absolutely necessary.

Was this purchase worth the money? I’m sorry to say, but no. Some of it wasn’t worth the money nor the time it took to arrive. Just because something’s labeled “kawaii,” that doesn’t mean it’s reliable or practical. The experience only confirmed what I needed it to: online shopping isn’t everything. Do I trust the Kawaii Pen Shop? Nothing’s happened to my bank account since then, so I trust them for that. What I do not trust the quality of their products. Still, if you’d like to check them out for yourself, here are their links:


Writing Goals 2020 | Progress Report

Earlier this year I decided to follow that new goals tag and make a list of seven things I’d like to accomplish with my writing in 2020. Now that we’re nearly halfway through (crazy), I thought I’d take a look back and give a progress report on how things are going. Let’s take a look at the seven things I want to complete(ish) in 2020.

GOAL 1 – Finish Project Firedamp ⇝ Status: ??????

I can’t stress enough my embarrassment on how far behind I am on this particular goal. Being the slow writer that I am, I thought to write at least one chapter per month. Perhaps two if I finally get into the swing of things.

That hasn’t happened.

Just a few weeks ago I decided to finally set up a writing schedule. All my well-practiced procrastination instincts are having trouble conforming to a schedule I made myself. I can confirm that I’ve finally solidified how this series is going to work in the future. It took a while, but I’m thoroughly excited for everything that’s going to happen in The Firedamp Chronicles realm!

UPDATE: The writing schedule failed. I’m currently seeking editing/critique help for Project Firedamp, because I now recognize certain issues which need addressed sooner rather than later.

GOAL 2 – Tour more historical sites ⇝ Status: on hold.

For this particular goal, I purposefully put it off till the weather got warmer. This is also due to the fact that many of the sites I want to tour have very specific tour hours and time frames. I have a small list of sites around Pittsburgh I want to visit come Spring and Summer. Will I share that list? Perhaps. But those locations may give away too much of my story’s plot so, we’ll see!

UPDATE: Due to everything being closed until at least July, I cannot yet plan those visits.

GOAL 3 – Bring more story themed decor into the house ⇝ Status: changed.

Shabby chic decor is to Victorian as a grandchild is to their grandparents. True shabby chic equates to “cluttered,” “floral,” and “eclectic.” However, my biggest goal, when it comes to my home, is to maintain an organized, comfortable environment.

So I’m out to find more practical pieces – things I can use every day because I won’t dust fake flowers. Here’s my Pinterest board of DIY crafts I want to eventually put together. There’s still plenty of time left in 2020!

UPDATE: I’ve reorganized my office and decluttered a lot more things. The pile of donations for my church’s annual flea market has finally gone to church, and I’ve decided to just go practical in my decor.

GOAL 4 – Visit the Library of Congress ⇝ Status: on hold.

This visit is so very much in the works! No mind you, I began looking into this about a month before everything with COVID19 went down, so now I’ve got coworkers telling me to cancel cancel cancel. While I understand everything going on right now, the trip is for three months from now – in late June. I’m hoping that, not only will things have calmed down by then, but the library will be open to visitors again.

Because ever since that one scene in the first National Treasure film, I’ve wanted to go to the second level and look for secret books with codes to a treasure map’s key. The bus tickets have been purchased (a whole $6 – thank you Megabus!), arrangements to stay with my aunt’s family have been made. June trip to DC here I come!

UPDATE: Sadly my coworkers were correct. I held out hope for a long time, but the Library’s own closure until at least July has put this goal on hold. At least I only lost $6 in bus fare.

GOAL 5 – Build a Paper Organizer ⇝ Status: scratched.

This one’s tricky, because good wood costs a pretty penny. Budgeting is the name of today’s game, and I want whatever project I build to last. “But Leigh, why don’t you just go to Joann’s or Michael’s and buy an organizer?”

Fair point.

There are two benefits of building my own: 1- I can customize it to fit wherever it’s going to go and 2- I want it to have spaces for both paper and smaller cubicles for pens/colored pencils. It’s a tall order, and only something customized can fulfill both those requirements. This project’s planned for early Spring, when it’s a bit warmer.

UPDATE: As I’m now working a lot of overtime, I decided to table this goal. Instead, I’ve purchased a modern and sleek organizer to match the rest of my office’s decor. I can get overzealous at times. I also realized I didn’t want something big and chunky taking up space.

GOAL 6 – Write in Tennessee (aka go on vacation) ⇝ Status: On Hold.

The more I look at this particular goal, the more I don’t think it’s in the cards. Especially with the D.C. trip. It’ll most likely be combined with Goal 4 – Visit the Library of Congress. In fact – let’s change the title right now:

GOAL 6 – Write in Washington D.C. (aka go on vacation)

GOAL 7 – Hand copy a novel ⇝ Status: null and void.

And last but not least, let’s discuss hand copying a novel. This goal started off strong. I picked one of my favorite stories – INKHEART by Cornelia Funke. Hand copied a chapter a day – got up to chapter five. And then my hand had had enough. Kudos to all you who choose to hand write your stories before digitizing it.

Needless to say, I’ve given up on this goal.

For the time being.


So what have I actually accomplished? Blogging ahead, 2020s Five Question Interviews series, and buying more books than I can read right now. Three things not even on the list! At least I can say I’ve booked some critiquing help, so that’s progress.

How are you with your writing goals?