Heart, Soul, and Rough Edges — A Gypsy Journey of Words and Wonder

Archive for the month “December, 2012”

Make Visible: End of the Year Self-Evaluation for Writers 2012

I’m taking time off the internet this week.  While this is making me a little anxious, it’s also giving me plenty of time to think.  I’m checking in to submit this today.  Here is a blog post from this time last year.


The end of the year is a fantastic time to evaluate one’s writing life with an eye to the future.  It’s a time to look at the big picture and see if you have met, exceeded, or fallen short of your self-created writing goals for the year.  This self-evaluation was inspired by the Graduate School post, Check in With Yourself: End of Semester Self-Evaluation.  I’ve found that doing a regular self-evaluation is a great tool for reflection on my graduate school experiences.  This evaluation is not an excuse for you to beat yourself up; instead it will allow you to get a clearer picture of your writing life.


Consider your responses to these questions.  It might help to actually write them down.


Consider the last year:


  • How did my year begin?
  • What were my submission plans, writing goals, and marketing plans (if applicable)?
  • Did I allocate enough time for writing, typing and editing my work?
  • Were my expectations met?
  • What surprised me this year?
  • If I could do anything over, what would I choose?  What would I do differently?
  • What are my writing strengths and witnesses?
  • How might I address these weaknesses?
  • How can I augment these strengths?
  • What have I learned this year?  About writing?  About subjects of interest to me?  Personally?


After thoughtful consideration, what can you conclude about your year?  What will you do differently next year?


Some ideas to think about for 2013:


Set aside regular times to write.  Be flexible.  If you are a morning person write in the mornings, if not, write in the afternoons or evenings.  Consider investing in writing prompt books or get writing prompts off the internet, so you are not stuck for ideas.  Remember, writers write!


Consider collaborating on a writing project with a writing friend or online critique group.  Collaborating is a great way to support one another while holding each other accountable.


Take time at the end of 2012 or the beginning of 2013 to revisit your writing goals.  Are they too ambitious or not ambitious enough?  Can you break your goals down into smaller, more manageable steps?  If you haven’t made any writing goals, is it time to do so?  Think about sharing your writing goals with supportive family members and friends.  Do you have any deadlines looming?  Make a note of those and give yourself time to meet them.


Reflect on any Works in Progress (WIPs) you have?  Is it time to let your WIPs go or is it time to breathe new life into a WIP?


Every year is a new beginning.  A new year is a great time to establish good writing habits and to reflect on the past year.  It’s also a good time to congratulate yourself on what you accomplished in 2012 and realize what you did right. See you in 2013!


“Make visible what, without you, might perhaps never have been seen.”~Robert Bresson, French Film Director

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Apollo's Lyre is on indefinite hiatus

Dear Poets,

to create is to live
to breathe the essence
of what must be shared
to survive our feelings

For two years, I’ve used these lines to introduce “Poetry’s Heartbeat”, my column at Apollo’s Lyre e-zine. I still believe in these lines, a portion of a poem I first published in the Desert Woman Magazine in 2007.

Now I’m using this venue to get the word out that Apollo’s Lyre is on indefinite publishing hiatus. I know some of our readers are waiting for word about poems they’ve submitted. and others are waiting for overdue publication dates. We’ve been scurrying behind-the-scenes, but have been unsuccessful resolving our problem. Below are details.

I’m emailing folks, but with over 400 on the list, it’ll take some time to reach everyone individually. While this door is closing temporarily — Lea shouted that out today — I want to encourage you to continue writing and submitting your work. Please let us know when and where you get published, so we can raise a glass of bubbly with you.

For those who are eagerly waiting your spot on the Poetic Muselings site, we will begin sharing those poems here in January.

Next month I’ll share more about my new project — TaCaMeFi (Take Care of Me First), which I believe will help unclutter our lives and our minds, so we can move forward to do what is most important to us.

The following is the heart of what I want to say to our poets and readers of “Poetry’s Heartbeat” at Apollo’s Lyre. I set this up as an auto-response to all new incoming messages while I work to contact individuals:

We are sad to announce that Apollo’s Lyre is going to continue its publication hiatus indefinitely. Unresolvable problems with the host, Tripod, have made it impossible to access or post to our site. Our publisher, Lea Schizas, has repeatedly contacted them; no one at Tripod has responded to her pleas to at least open the site so we can let our readers know what’s going on.

Efforts to create a new site and format for Apollo’s Lyre are underway, but we cannot in good conscience ask you to wait indefinitely. If you submitted poems and are awaiting word about them, consider this message as our way to wish you success with placing your work elsewhere. If we accepted your poems, and gave you an intended publication date, please accept our deep apologies that we will not be able to showcase them as intended.

We are releasing back to you all poems that have not been published; we would still appreciate you adding a note if you republish a poem that appeared in Apollo’s Lyre, identifying the issue and year you were part of our family. No new poems will be accepted nor will any already sent to us be held as backlog for the future. We hope they all find good homes in the poetry universe.

I would like to send each of you a personal message, thanking you for your support, respect for our ezine, and sharing your beauty with us. The logistics of contacting well over four hundred creative souls makes this too daunting, and I chose to start this way, with a general note, so you could begin sending out your work immediately to other publications.

It’s been my honor to serve as Poetry Editor for the past two-plus years. I’m awed by your talent, courage, and willingness to open up and say what must be said. I wish you all the best in your writing and other creative endeavors. I’d love to hear from you so I can read your poems as they appear elsewhere online or in print.

Thank you for your patience, too. I know this has been very stressful waiting to hear from us. It’s been quite stressful from this end also, as we’ve tried our best to figure out how to move forward. On behalf of Lea and the rest of the Apollo’s Lyre staff, we wish you a terrific holiday season, and a productive new year, full of health, love, and happiness.


(note: this was edited to remove some strange “links” that worked their way into the post; I have no idea why/how they got here, but hopefully, they are GONE for good now.)

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The Game of Books: Where Books Meet Gaming

Are you a reader? A writer? A librarian? Or a teacher? Then this project will be of interest to you.

What happens when reading meets gaming? The Game of Books. In life, every book you read teaches you something. You are gaining knowledge, experience, from each book. Soon there will be a way to track that. Imagine leveling up in your interests. Tracking your progress, comparing it to your friends.

The Kickstarter fundraising for The Game of Books succeeded yesterday. It may be too late to back it, but it’s worth following. And there may be a way to support it, to receive kits, even though the Kickstarter is closed. It’s something they are looking into. In the meantime, read more about The Game of Books, and watch the video. And even use the demo to create your own Character Card, as I’ve done below.

My husband and I are very excited for this to come out, and are getting a Family Starter Kit. It’s great to see innovative ideas like this get the attention they deserve.

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Make Visible: When There's Nothing to Say

I’ve fallen into a funk these last few weeks.  I  haven’t been writing or embroidering or doing other creative stuff.  I haven’t been doing any of my classwork.  I still haven’t finished the November PAD (poem-a-day) or much else for that matter.


A couple days ago there was a shooting in Newtown, Connecticut where many small children and some adults perished.  I don’t know whether to be angry at such violence or hopeful at the acts of heroism and compassion that I’ve heard about.  I just feel numb.


This mini mid-life crisis I’m going through isn’t the same as being blocked.  It has very little to do with the shooting and is my own experience.  It’s like driving in a fog where you can only see a couple of feet in front of you.


So what have I been doing?  I’ve been doing a little reading, “Finding Your Own North Star,” by Martha Beck and watching a few movies.  I’ve been doing a lot of thinking and ruminating.  None of this is productive and as an efficient Virgo I find this very distressing.


I recognize that these fallow or down periods can lead to better things. Sometimes what’s needed is a period of composting, of processing events and feelings.  Like the pauses in music or the space between words.  I went to choral concert last night (to get more in the holiday spirit) with my boyfriend.  We were going to visit afterwards, but then I realized, I have nothing to say. So I dropped him off at his house and went on my “merry” way.

Happy Holidays to all!





“Make visible what, without you, might perhaps never have been seen.”~Robert Bresson, French Film Director

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I’m sharing a poem/holiday gift I came up with for a couple who are very dear to me.

During the past two years, my friends worked hard to dig themselves out of long-standing debt. Diligently, one decision at a time, they paid off credit cards and loans, and now own their cars outright — and paid off their mortgage. I’m incredibly proud of their courage and actions.

One of them is facing layoff after five years of increasingly complex job duties, and several “near-miss” shutdowns. No new angel seems ready to land to postpone closure of the company, and my dear friend is stressed to the max with the situation. Her husband knows they can get through this, and I do, too.

We talked about what they’ve done to fix their finances, and how their lives are now vs. three years ago. Health insurance continuation through COBRA* is possible — and must be done. Unemployment insurance should be a given, under the circumstances, while she’s looking for another position.

“But COBRA will take up almost all my unemployment!”

“Maybe, but you don’t have the outstanding bills to deal with now. You can make choices — good choices — don’t forget that.” I told her.

This got me thinking about our usual gift exchange — we both spend time and money looking for something unusual for the other; in fact, we have more fun with this particular giving than with anyone else.

So I decided I’d give them a POMEGRANATE this year. I explained what it was, and why I was doing it, and asked them to please follow these instructions, as a favor to all of us:


(POM for short: Peace Of Mind.)  




Take the money you were going to spend on your gifts to us, write a check to yourselves (don’t cash it), subtract it from the check register, and put it into a band aid box.

Label the box “COBRA VENOM” , and find some good symbols to put on the box.

Each week, add another check written to yourselves, and feed it to the COBRA box. Consider it as “spent money you no longer have”. Even $25 per week adds up.

If you get a cash-out of comp time or vacation, put at least half of it into the COBRA box, off the top.

Hubby and I will send you a check to feed to the COBRA. You can cash that one and either put the money in directly, or do it via another physical check.

This is the most precious gift you can give yourselves — and one we never had growing up. The stress of being on the edge of financial chaos played a huge part of our lives, and absolutely created the situation that led my father to run away from home and rejoin the Army when I was ten.

Our lives would have been quite different if our parents had a clue and could see the way out of it.  Not complaining about how we ended up, since both of us found the loves of our lives, but it’s still a spectre that haunts.

You’ve made such progress in the past two years. Embrace that and look at this as a time to stand back and creatively appreciate that you can handle this.  You have choices about the food you buy, what else you need now, and what could go on a wish list for next year.

You aren’t obligated to buy anything. You are responsible for taking care of yourselves emotionally, physically, and financially.

I’m very proud of what you’ve done — you are an inspiration to me to clean up parts of my life that drag me down. This includes projects that grab my attention, but not my full passion. Clutter I’m holding on to because I haven’t stepped back quietly enough to hear what’s in my heart.

Engaging in Retail Therapy or Hand-to-Mouth Eating Therapy hasn’t ever solved it for me, though heaven knows I’ve given it every opportunity!

“What the world needs now is love, sweet love / It’s the only thing we have just too little of . . .”

Please give yourselves this gift of love this year, and keep it in mind for future gift-giving.

I wish you peace, health, creativity, and much love.


PS: And to you, dear readers:

We’d be delighted to have you buy our books. However, this may be the time to swim upstream until you are more stable financially. Then go buy one for yourself, and one for a friend. Enjoy it without guilt. Pass the idea along.


The Consolidated Omnibus Budget Reconciliation Act (COBRA) gives workers and their families who lose their health benefits the right to choose to continue group health benefits provided by their group health plan for limited periods of time under certain circumstances. For more info, see, among other sites, this one:

My Fairy Muse

Fairies, dancing through the light that breaks through the forest. Calling others to join them. How can I resist? I love fantasy, magic, flight, and butterflies. Fairies combine all these elements into delicate, enchanting beings. I may not believe in real fairies, but of all the paranormal creatures they are the ones I wish most for. It’s no wonder they inspire me. From my bliss book to home decor to my writing. Here’s some excerpts.

from my poem “Concrete Forest”

Stench of pigeons
rouses me;
I uncurl from the nook
at the statue’s collar,
flap my wings
to rid night’s dust.

The birds share their crumbs–
pigeons and a fairy,
what a quaint family.

From the novel “Fly With Me”

The main character, Alexa, collects dollhouses for a fairy refuge in her front yard. Here’s an outsiders glimpse inside her home.

Sunshine poured through the bay window, creating a cloud of fairy dust over the round dining table. Placed evenly around the table were five mismatched place settings, all in vivid pictures. A plate of fairies here, sitting atop a larger one depicting lovebirds. One had a wine glass with a pewter dragon wrapped around the base, while another had a yellow plastic cup with red airplanes. The only thing connecting them all was the image of flight. Folded over the back of each simple wooden chair was a homemade name card. Unusual names, such as Casternon and Lalla-Lu, written in purple ink.

One long shelf of marble extended above the fireplace. The contents had as little sense as the place settings. Bottled flies, a dollhouse, dried hot peppers. The hardwood floor beneath had long scratches half-covered by what looked like dragon scales. Almost hidden behind the door was a pair of feathered wings hanging from a hook. No two of the sewn feathers were alike.

From the novel “Fey Moon”

Lamaric’s stocky form stood out against the slender grace of most Fey. Jex assumed that’s why the djinn’s best friend was Lue Nae–a runt pixie, four inches to her siblings’ five.

After Shenorill left for another meeting, Jex interrupted the friends’ game of hide and seek. “Why do the Voices meet so oft?”

Lue Nae popped out of the vase she hid in, her dual set of filmy wings trembling as she hovered. “The prophecy of course. The time is getting so close! Everyone is talking about it.”

“What prophecy?”

Lamaric raised his bushy red eyebrows. “The return of the Goddess, Mother of the Elements. Satu knows the tale.”

Jex frowned. “She never told me that one. I only know of Eleuteria from your creation myths. Why would she leave in the first place?”

“Those stupid enchanters.” Lue Nae did a flip kick at an imaginary foe. “They couldn’t stand to see one of their kind in love with a goddess. She was banished to save her life. I wasn’t born yet so never even got to meet Her.” The pixie flittered over to sulk on Lamaric’s shoulder, her cottony white hair drooping around her face.


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