What’s Making Me Happy: February and March 2019 (Plus, I’m on a Semi-Hiatus Until May)

OMG! By the time you read this post, I’ll be back at the Iceland Writers Retreat!! 😀

I have to admit, though: The past two months have been a whirlwind. A big part of that was launching my business Heart of the Story Editorial & Coaching Services in February. Since then, life has been a juggling act between that, the day job, preparing for the Iceland trip, preparing for the ACES Conference (more on that shortly), and some unexpected things in my offline life, including a relative’s health emergency. And I’m aware that while I’m keeping up with my blogging schedule, I’ve fallen behind in just about every other area of this part of my life. 😦

In a way, I knew this was coming… and once I’m back from Iceland, it might be time to slow things down here and finally get the Heart of the Story blog up and running. But for now, let’s focus on the good that’s happened since the previous edition of What’s Making Me Happy. And as always, feel free to share the things that have made you smile recently in your comments on this post!

Let’s begin with…

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Thank You, Mary Oliver (1935 – 2019)

These lines from Mary Oliver’s “When Death Comes” took on new meaning when I read them on the afternoon of January 17, 2019. I’d read the poem before, but time has a way of changing your perception of what you read. In this case, I was re-reading one of Oliver’s most well-known poems about mortality just hours after learning that she, my favorite poet, had died from lymphoma at the age of 83.

The timing was eerie, too. Around the same time last week, I started working on a similar tribute to my favorite author of all time, Ursula K. Le Guin, who had recently passed away. (Oliver died 5 days before the first anniversary of Le Guin’s passing.) So, naturally, I’ve been drawing comparisons between the relationships I have with their work. And I remembered one difference that might surprise some people: While Le Guin’s stories resonated with me right away, it took a few years for me – a fantasy fan and a poet in equal measure – to fall in love with Oliver’s poems.

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Let’s Talk Numbers: Poetry Acceptances and Rejections (Plus, Four Ways to Stay Motivated After Your Writing Is Rejected)

When I was preparing my final poetry submission of 2018 during the last week of December, a surprising question popped into my head: “How many submissions did I send out this year?”

You see, I don’t set goals for a certain number of submissions each month or year, especially since poetry is still a part-time endeavor for me. Instead, I continually write and revise my poems, read various journals, and submit to places that I think would be a good fit for my work. And while I track my submissions, it’s mainly to remind myself of the facts, like which publications I’m waiting to hear from and which poems are currently out on submission.

So, for those reasons, I really had NO idea how many submissions I’d sent out in 2018. (*lol*) And not knowing that number made me curious. So I reviewed my tracking sheet, did some math, and decided to blog about what I found, with some relevant tips to boot.

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Poetry & Song: “Breath of a Humpback Whale” and Michael Brant DeMaria’s “Ocean”

It’s been a while since the last Poetry & Song post, hasn’t it? I’ve been meaning to write ones for some of my older, previously published poems and the songs that “helped” me write them. But now that a few “newbies” have debuted over the past few months, it’s time to start highlighting those instead. 🙂

So the spotlight turns back to “Breath of a Humpback Whale” today. What’s interesting about this edition of Poetry & Song isn’t what inspired this piece (though the inspiration itself is incredible), but rather the transformation this poem went through from initial spark to publication. In fact, Michael Brant DeMaria’s “Ocean” didn’t become part of the process until the poem’s last round of revisions. But that proved to be the perfect time for music and poetry to come together.

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My Ten Reading Goals for 2019

Are you one of those readers who challenges yourself to read a certain number of books every year? I’m… well, not one of those people. (*lol*) But I do have a consistent reading habit, and the reading goals I set for myself are more or less to guide my book choices throughout the year. For example, I try to prioritize brand new releases I’m interested in so I can stay on top of my favorite genre’s current market. And, as I shared in this post last year, I read at least one poem per day to help me comb through my extensive collection of poetry books.

But what about other goals, like finishing series I’ve already started? Or borrowing books from the library periodically? Yeeeeaaahhhh…. I haven’t been nearly as good with those. So I decided to organize my next year of reading with LOTS of goals. Ten, to be exact. I was a little afraid that creating so much structure could sap the fun out of reading. But now that I see what’s in my queue, these goals might help put a dent in my TBR pile and keep things interesting. Yay!

Without further ado, here are my reading goals for 2019:

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Reflections on 2018 and My Keyword for 2019

The end of December and beginning of January is a thoughtful time of year for me. I think back on the previous year, the highlights and achievements, the setbacks and lessons learned. Then I turn to the year that’s beginning to unfold. I ask myself, “What can I accomplish by the end of the year? What do I want to do? How can I continue to embrace the projects and ideals that matter most to me?”

This year, I’m taking that goal-setting to a new level by trying a New Year’s ritual that my friend Leanne Sowul practices. Every January, she chooses a word to guide her decisions, intentions, and actions for the next 12 months. In that way, it becomes a sort of theme for her year. And knowing what I’ll be up to in the near future, I’ve chosen my own word to be my touchstone for 2019.

Before I share that word, let’s put 2018 into perspective.

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New Poems Published in Canary and Amethyst Review

Happy New Year, everyone! Hope you had a warm, safe, and joyful beginning to your 2019.

Today I’m thrilled to share two new poems that have been published over the past couple weeks. First, “Osprey at Bass River” is featured the Winter 2018 / 2019 issue of Canary, an online literary journal focusing on nature and the environment. This poem was accepted back in March, and the joy of finally seeing it in print (and with a fitting photo to boot) has been worth the wait. 🙂

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The Seven-Day Book Challenge

Recently, a Facebook friend tagged me on the Seven-Day Book Challenge. I finally got around to it a few weeks ago and “double-teamed” it through FB and Instagram. And then I thought, “Why not share it on the blog, too?”

The rules of the Seven-Day Book Challenge are simple: For seven days, you share a photo or image on Facebook of a different favorite book and nominate another friend to carry on the challenge. There’s no set theme to follow, and you don’t need to write a caption or explanation for why you choose each book. You simply share the photo, tag a friend, and reply to any comments. But for this blog post, I think I’ll “break” one of those rules. 😉

Here are the books I chose for the Seven-Day Book Challenge, and why I picked each one.

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What’s Making Me Happy: October and November 2018

“It’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas….”

Seriously, though. Can you believe Christmas is a month away?? Thanksgiving was last Thursday here in the States, and now it feels like full steam ahead to the end of the year. Thank goodness I’m almost done with my Christmas shopping already… Because if the past two months are any indication, this December is going to be my busiest one in a long time.

I’m not joking. October and November were kind of crazy on my end. In a good way, though. (Wait – is there such a thing as a good kind of crazy-busy?) But I’ve made time to have some fun and take care of myself. So here are some of the things that have made me happy over the past two months, starting with…

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