Wednesday, April 02, 2014

Super Cool Announcement!!!!

I'll let you in on a secret.  I keep going to DDBD.org to check to see if my name and picture are really there.  In fact, I just checked again.  Yep, still there.  It's real.  It's really real.

I'm a member of Different Drummer Belly Dancers!!!!!



See?  There on the end, in the green skirt, under the last D?  That's me!!!!!

Margaret, Angela, Liby, and Laura are fabulous dancers, and awesome people!  I keep saying that I am so honored to join them, but I feel like honored isn't a strong enough word.  I'm going to have to work super hard, because I don't feel like I'm anywhere close to the same league as them.  I can't wait to be the Dancer that they are!

But don't worry, I'm still writing.

The Three Zombies and Other Undead Fairytales is still under construction.  It's written, edited, and recorded.  The cover is designed.  Now I'm working on editing the recordings.  Producing an audiobook is new to me, so it's going slow.  I'm learning a lot through trial and error.

April is Camp NaNoWriMo.  Unlike NaNoWriMo, where the goal is to write a 50,000 word novel in 30 days, Camp NaNo is a bit more unstructured.  You can choose what you write and your own goal.  This time, I'm writing 25,000 words of short stories.

Finally, I was also selected as a mentor for The Choir Million Skills Project.  My interview is at the end of this month.  Afterwards, the team will take my interview and make it available for users as a series of instructional videos to learn how I go about writing a book in 30 days.  I hope people like it and can learn something from me.

Life is pretty awesome.

Until next time, let's dance!

Wednesday, March 19, 2014

Upcoming Appearance: Bloomington Belly Dances!

I'll be dancing with the Caravanserai Dancers at Bloomington Belly Dances this Friday!  I've never performed to a group of people who actually paid for tickets before. I'm excited, but the nervousness is starting to take over.  The more familiar faces I can see in the crowd, the better!  Also, tickets sold out last year, so it might be a good idea to get them early.

Bloomington Belly Dances - 2014

Photo of: Line-up for perfomers at Bloomington Belly Dances - 2007 receiving flowers from Roger Meridith and Margaret Lion during their curtain call.
Celebrate Belly Dance in Bloomington, Indiana!
WHEN: Friday, March 21, 2014
WHERE: Ivy Tech John Waldron Auditorium, 122 S. Walnut Street, Bloomington, Indiana, 47404-6107.
TIME: Doors open at 7:00 pm; Performance begins at 7:30 pm.
TICKETS: Early Bird Prices: $12 for Adults; $5 for Children 12 and Under. Door Prices: $15 Adults and $8 for Children 12 and Under. YES! We accept credit cards at the door.
Get your Early Bird Prices tickets the following ways:
  • Order tickets online here BBD-2014 Tickets(Link will open in new window.)
  • Or call the Buskirk-Chumley Box Office at 812-323-3020 (must use a credit card).
  • You can also visit the Buskirk-Chumley Box Office to purchase tickets. Click here for location and hours.

Tuesday, January 21, 2014

How I Use Pinterest

What is the point of this blog?  I seem to jump around everywhere.  Really, I use it kind of like a public notebook.

I carry a notebook around with me.  It has a little bit of everything in it.  Diary entries.  Quotes I like.  Fictional short stories.  Reminders of all types.

So this blog has a little bit of things I want to share.  Sometimes I bare my heart, sometimes I review products.  And now I'm thinking of starting a series to show how I use social media, because I find myself explaining it often.

If it's a social media outlet, I probably use it.  Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, Tumblr, MyFitnessPal, etc. (Just look for MzHartz on your social media of choice...)

Out of all of these, I think I use Pinterest a little differently than a lot of other people.

I use Pinterest as visual bookmarks.  If I see something I want to come back to later, I pin it.  I don't really re-pin a whole lot of stuff unless it's something I'll want to check out later.  In contrast, I think there's a lot of people who use Pinterest as a visual feast, relying mostly on repins, keeping very in the moment.  There's nothing wrong with that, but I know people who would benefit from using it as a tool, but have only been shown the entertainment side of things.

Here's a good example: Last year, I used Pinterest for my Christmas wish list.  If I saw something that would make a good gift for me, I pinned it to my wish list board.  Then, when my mom asked me for my Christmas list, I sent her the link to that board.

Since it's more involved and complicated to use it as a tool, here's a brief tutorial:

1) Find something you like.

Let's add something to my wish list board.  I have The Power Station on tape, but I'd like it on CD.  So I find it on Amazon.

2) Pin it.

Here's the complicated part, since there's two distinct ways to pin things.

Option 1) Copy the link.  Go to Pinterest (and log in if you're not logged in already).  Click the plus button next to your name in the upper right corner of the screen and select Add From Website.

Paste in the URL and click Next.

Option 2) Use a button.  This is quicker, but you'll have to install the button in your browser first.  You should be able to scroll down on this page to get to the button for your browser.  Then, when you find something you want to pin, click the button.

From there, the rest of the steps are the same.

Click on the picture you want.

A screen will come up asking you which board you want to pin it to.  A board is basically a category.  Some people put everything in all together, but I prefer to group mine into categories.  In this case, I'm putting this into my wish list.  You also need to describe it somehow.

Click Pin It, and you're done!  Then you have a chance to keep pinning or view the board that it's on.  If you go to my wish list board, you'll now find The Power Station in the list: http://www.pinterest.com/mzhartz/wish-list/  Clicking on a picture will take you to the site that the picture was taken from, in this case the CD cover will take you to the Amazon page.

You'll also notice buttons on some blog posts that let you pin directly from the post.  It works very similar to the browser button.

Here are some of my boards to give you an idea of things I pin:

Craft Projects I'll Never Get Around To
This is where I post instructions for projects I would like to try someday.  I also have similar ones for bracelets and recipes.

Things I Actually Made
I move things here after I make them, with feedback on how it went.

Share with Braino
Pictures that I want to be sure I show Brian.

Expressing Emotions Through Funny Pictures of Cats
Things that make me laugh.  I also have similar boards for inspirational material, cool artwork, cute animals, and stars that I'm a fan of.

I hope this gives you an idea of how I use Pinterest, and maybe will give you ideas on new ways to use it too.

Monday, January 13, 2014

I'll Miss You, Grandpa Hubbard

I had the chicken pox when I was in 2nd grade.  It was just me and my mom then, my parents were divorced and my dad had moved a couple hours away for a job.  My mom worked in a fast food restaurant, not the type of workplace known for letting moms off to take care of their sick kids.

So instead, I went to my grandparents' for the week.  My grandpa was retired, so he watched me on the rare occasion that I was too sick to go to school.

Every summer, my grandparents would take me on a typical family vacation.  We went to Disney World and the Grand Canyon, Branson and Wisconsin Dells.  My grandpa usually drove, with my grandma taking over when he got tired.  We'd drive for about 8 hours a day, stopping for bathroom breaks and lunch, then check into a hotel and resume the drive the next day, all until we got to our destination.

Because of my grandparents, I got to see much of America, and learned to appreciate different cultures.

But no matter where we went, they always made sure to get a hotel with a swimming pool.  I absolutely loved to swim, and it wasn't a proper vacation unless I got to go swimming.  Then my grandpa started taking me to swimming lessons at the YMCA every summer.

He'd pick me up from daycare and take me to swimming.  He'd watch from the observation windows while I learned how to float, tread water, doggy paddle, breaststroke, backstroke, etc., etc., etc.  Afterwards, we'd play pool at the Y's common room, or we'd go out for ice cream and ham sandwiches.

My grandpa taught me to love games.  Every time I went to their house for the weekend, we'd play board or card games.  He taught me how to play Scrabble and UNO.  My grandpa is the one who taught me how to play poker, to bet and ante, when to call and when to fold.  At least half, if not more, of the card games I know how to play, I learned from my grandpa.

We didn't always stay home.  It was my grandpa who took me out bowling or to play mini golf.  He'd take me to Chinese restaurants (grandma didn't like Chinese food), not take out, but the nice sit-down type.

Back at their house, we'd put on records in the family room.  Sometimes he'd try to teach me how to ballroom dance, and other times I would make up my own dances for him to watch.

A lot of who I am today, I owe to my grandpa.  He always made me feel loved and supported.  He instilled in me a calm zest for life, a desire to try new experiences, and a respect for knowledge and learning.

Around the time I moved out on my own, my grandparents moved down to Florida.  Eventually, I was able to save enough money to visit them every year.  Although we'd go out and do something on our own most days, we'd be back in time for supper.  Afterwards, the four of us would play dominoes.

Last April when we went down, Grandpa was having a hard time concentrating and remembering enough to play more than just one night.  By the end of summer, he was in an assisted living home, because Grandma couldn't care for him on her own anymore.  He was on dialysis, had been diagnosed with dementia, and could only get around in a wheelchair.  He no longer understood where he was.

My Grandpa passed away this morning.  It was his time.  He just had his 91st birthday.  I think he made them a good 91 years.

None of this here is enough to express how much my grandpa meant to me.  I love you and miss you, Grandpa.

Tuesday, January 07, 2014

Married at 22, No Regrets

To me, marriage IS NOT settling down.  There is no "get married, OR..."

I used to think that once.  I didn't want kids, and I didn't want to get married, because I didn't want to compromise who I was for someone else.

And I see blog posts like 23 Things To Do Instead Of Getting Engaged Before You’re 23, and I can relate.  I used to feel that way too.  Especially after seeing articles like 23? Not Too Young to Marry, if anything, that would make me even more convinced that not marrying was the right decision.

There's two huge things that neither of these articles address.

DO WHAT'S RIGHT FOR YOU

I can't say I knew exactly who I was at 22 or 23.  Hell, I can't say I know exactly who I am now.  Never, ever, EVER! feel pressured to get married.  It's not something you "should" do.  It's okay to not be wed, you're not failing at life if you never marry.  You can live life to the fullest, even if you never "have a big passel of kids."

Even if you do want to make a commitment to someone for the rest of your life, what that exactly means is between you and them.  That may mean that you never want to have kids, and that's okay.  That may mean that although you're committed, it's not exclusive.  It may mean buying a house with a white picket fence and planning out the rest of your lives, or it may mean travelling across country in an RV never knowing what the next day may bring.

Vanessa says, "Some day, I want to get married too. I want a floor length dress with a ton of cleavage. I want it to be in Asia, with Ethiopian food, and a filthy scotch selection to calm my nerves when I inevitably start to panic and hyperventilate."  I disagree.  That's not a marriage, that's a wedding.

My point is, there's no magic number.  It shouldn't be, "Okay, I'm ready to get married."  Instead, it should be, "We're ready to get married," because that's a decision that should NOT be made without having a partner that you love.

DO WHO'S RIGHT FOR YOU

If you have to change who you are, if you have to sacrifice the things you want to do, to be with someone, you're with the wrong person.

Like I've said many times before, I never wanted to get married.  And then I met Brian.  We were dating casually, when he asked me if I wanted to go exclusive, see him only.  At first, I said no.  I thought of things that I wanted to do, things I might miss out on if I were tied to just one person.

A few days later, I met a guy through a friend.  He was cute and witty.  When he asked for my number, I gave it to him.  When he called, he was nice and charming.  He asked me out on a date that would be right in my interests.  He did everything right.  Yet, the only person I could think about was Brian.  I had no interest in anyone else.

But what about all those things that I wanted to do?  Not only could I still do all those things, but now I had someone to do them with me!  And when I find things that I want to do but Brian doesn't want to do, I do them on my own.  If I hesitate, afraid of leaving him behind, he pushes me towards it.

Vanessa suggests adopting a pet, starting a band, building something with your hands, writing a blog, all instead of getting married.  If you've got a partner that doesn't let you do those things that you want to do, get out, get out now.  That is NOT marriage, it's not even a healthy relationship.

I've accomplished many things in the last 10 1/2 years of been married.  I've written several books, and even published a few.  I've owned part of a radio station and was a hobbyist newscaster.  I've learned T'ai Chi, and I'm currently learning to belly dance.  And none, NONE! of those accomplishments have been in spite of being married; they're all because I'm married to the most wonderful, supportive, person for me.

Sure, I've changed a lot.  I'm not the same person I was at 22. But Brian's not the same either.  What's more important is that we support and nurture each other, and while we change, we grow together.

Friday, December 06, 2013

Nelson Mandela

At 95 years old, I knew that we would lose Nelson Mandela some day.  Still, it's a loss to all mankind.  I can only hope that all of us will find inspiration in him and work to fill the void he left behind.

I'm a 32 year old white girl in Indiana.  I have no deep story, no point of revelation where I was suddenly inspired by him.  But over the years, every time I heard about Nelson Mandela, he always made me resolve to myself to be a better person.  To always accept people as they are, to look past labels.  To look at myself when I find someone undesirable to interact with and reflect on what part of me I see in them that I'm so scared of.

And now I think that's it.  He's gone.  I do strive to live every day in a way that he would be proud of.  But I want to do something more.  I want to honor him somehow.  And I feel lost trying to think of what that would be.

Rest in peace, Nelson Mandela.  Thank you.

Friday, November 22, 2013

About Me

I believe that zombies are people too.  How do you know that zombie coming towards you doesn't just want a hug?

During the day, I'm a graphic designer at Baugh Enterprises.  I design for offset and digital printing, as well as nontraditional items like promotional products.  Your design should look good not only in full color on the screen, but also on all forms of media, digital or print, flat paper or on a three dimensional item.  I enjoy sharing my technical experience with my clients to not only design for them, but to teach them how to get their files set up to print on their own.

But at night, I change into that creature of darkness: the writer.  My most popular works are my zombie novels: Brains for the Zombie Soul, and The Three Zombies and Other Undead Fairytales.  I've also published Helpless, a horror novel set on a wind farm.  In addition, I'm also working on some non-horror novels.  In Sweet Addiction, chocolate is illegal, and Katelynn, a chocoholic, must decide between cocoa and a normal life.  I'm currently writing Second Century P.M., a novel set in a universe where time has essentially stopped, and a second lasts one hundred years.

Every November, I take the National Novel Writing Month challenge to write a 50,000+ word novel in 30 days.  There's something about combining writing and adrenaline that makes magic happen.  I'm also the Municipal Liaison, a leader and organizer, for the Bloomington region of NaNoWriMo,  I find inspiration in my fellow writers who overcome obstacles in their lives to accomplish great creative feats of writing.

In my free time, I also enjoy reading, playing video and board games, crafting, belly dancing, campaigning for zombie rights, analyzing dreams, drinking, and eating.  In addition to my main blog where I recall some of my dreams and talk about whatever suits my fancy, I'm also a reviewer for Into-The-Dark.com, drink adult beverages and blog about them on Cup of Serendipity, and sometimes eat and blog on Bad Foodie.

I live in Bloomington, Indiana, am married, and have two feline children.  I love turtles, the ocean, and pink sunglasses.