Review: Doodling for Papercrafters

Part of the fun of owning a blank journal is the flexibility to use the blank page as a canvas for your ideas. You can choose to write or draw on the pages, sometimes at the same time. Most of the time, however, blank books go marked only with the printed word across the pages. Sometimes, rarely, do we ever think to decorate the pages with quick sketches of images our eyes have seen throughout the day. Even more rarely do we ever just practice the fine art of doodling around the entries with a basic pen.

Enter Doodling for Papercrafters, by Maelynn Cheung. Cheung has written a fun, creative, how-to guide to creating original, hand drawn embellishments to your paper arts. This fast paced and quirky book takes you on a crash course through the joys of doodling on paper. The book teaches you simple and complex ways to add some personalized art to your creative works. Learn simple techniques like making lines and squigglies to advanced flower and paisleys. Doodling for Papercrafters is heavily illustrated which helps to show the diversity of doodles artists have implemented in their own works.

The Bookmark Book

The winter holidays are upon us. Last minute shoppers are out hunting for bargains at the stores and you need a few more items to make your holiday gift list complete. Instead of braving the stores this year, why not give them something different. Something handmade. Like a hand-bound journal, crafted lovingly by your own hand? No, I'm not suggesting that you create some large, artistic, leather tome. That would take quite a bit of time.

Let's think smaller and simpler. Something useful and easy to make. Something that combines the love of reading and writing into one. It's called the Bookmark Book and it squishes the idea of a book holder in with a slim and thin journal. The best part of this project is that you can assemble one of them in just under 5 minutes. Did I mention they make great stocking stuffers for readers and writers alike?

Using Cornell Notes to Write Stories

Editor's note: Sorry I've been gone for two weeks. Thanksgiving was a fun-filled all day event with my close friends. Lots of food, cheer and laughter. Last week I got really sick and it put me down for five days (still am fighting off some horrid cough). But the show must go on and here I am, hopefully back to fill your Thursday void.

I noticed something during NaNoWriMo this year. Many of my friends were planning, plotting and writing their novels long-hand. Many used Circa systems and index cards while a few used a system similar to Cornell notes. Looking at their notebooks fascinated me, as I'm often fascinated with how writer's come up with their ideas and plots for stories. I spent long bits of time looking through their notebooks and listening to them talk about how they'd use them to write out plot points (some of them in-depth), character sketches or locations, and then jot notes and images and suggestions down next to the various scribbles.

I thought it was a great way to plan a novel and started coming up with ideas on how one could modify Cornell Notes to plan stories or draft novels. This article quickly reviews the Cornell Note-taking system and then discusses ways you can modify and apply it for your creative writing endeavors.

The Care and Use of Plot Ninjas

Last week, I went to the local coffee haus for the first of many NaNoWriMo write ins. Imagine a crew of caffeine induced writers sitting around tables with their laptops and brightly colored and mismatched coffee mugs, chatting about their stories and generally having a good time while writing. That is what the typical write in looks like. But my favorite part of write ins are the times when we toss out plot ninjas to one another in a desperate attempt to help push novels forward and pad the word count.

What's that you say? A plot ninja? What the heck. Well, a plot ninja is an idea intentionally vague enough to fit in any genre and setting and provides you a random moment in time that forces you and your characters to wake up and explore the realm of the weird and unusual. Best used when you are stuck, they come to your aid when you need advice from the muse or the writing gods but they have hung the out to lunch sign on you. Plot ninjas come in (sometimes quite literally) and give you a reason to continue writing. And anyone can learn to use and invoke the power of the plot ninjas for any of your writing (or creative needs).

Listening to Writing Wisdom

Happy second week into NaNoWriMo everyone! Just like everyone else participating in this seat of the pants writing competition, I've (that should have been written as "I have") been busily working through a steady word count of 2,000 (that is two thousand) words a day.

November leaves me with hardly any time for reading. I do more writing this month then I do in a normal month and sometimes I get a little "writing stir crazy". It gets hard to keep doing something over and over again without being lost to the shiny. Sure, I listen to music while I write to help break up the monotony of hearing my fingers quickly dart across the keyboard; but sometimes, I need more. That's when podcasts become my personal savior. I love podcasts. Especially writing ones. They inspire me to tackle on my word count with vigorous joy and remind me to go crazy and try new things with my story lines and characters. And the best thing about them is they're free and I can listen to them whenever I want.

Here's a small list of the current podcasts that have been inspiring me this November:

Create Your Own News

When I was in high school, I learned to watch the nightly news. Every night, I'd turn on the news and watch what was going on. I quickly learned that all the news really focused on was negative thinking and fear tactics. Disasters, deaths, sickness, financial sadness was all they showed. Wednesdays always bore the special interest pieces on children or animals. But these were shown only after all the "headline" news.

I stopped reading and watching the news because of how it affected me. It's depressing. And I find this statement to be true even now, with war going on around the world. When I need to know what's going on, I use newsfeeds like or where I can pick and choose what stories I read. Instead, I allow my life and the events in it to become my own news.

Giveaway Saturday: Florentine Travel Journal from Eastgate

Eastgate Florentine Travel JournalOur very first giveaway is one of the best. From our long-time sponsor Eastgate (makers of Tinderbox) comes a gorgeous leather travel journal crafted in a workshop in Florence, Italy, by Epica.

The journal measures 5"x8" and consists of 300 pages of rich, cream-coloured, hand-cut paper bound in dark brown high-quality Italian leather. The paper is thick and just toothy enough to provide an excellent writing surface for fountain pens or light watercolours, and the binding has an elegant antiqued ribbing that looks beautiful on a shelf. It even arrives in a tasteful drawstring bag. (For more details, see our review.)

The retail price of this journal is $85 USD, and worth every penny. In fact, you might treasure this keepsake so much you'll be afraid to write in it; if so, you'll be missing out on a truly decadent experience. (I have one myself, and it's one of my most beautiful possessions.)

Stay tuned for the opportunity to win this sumptuous prize within the next few hours. (Be sure to read the rules, if you haven't already.)

Personal Timeline Templates

When my son was born in October 2005 I began to think about how little I knew about my parents past. What were they like when they were younger, how did they feel when I was born, where did they live, who were their friends, etc... So I started to think about my own life in a timeline. I started piecing together information in different categories - where I went to school, where we lived growing up, events in my life, travel, occupation, etc... After gathering all the information I began to put it into a timeline so I developed these blank templates for making my timeline and I thought I would share them with others interested in timelining so they could benefit from them.

Usage advice: 

These are PDF files

Paper size: 
Creative Commons
Applications required: 
Adobe Acrobat or MAC OS X Preview

Review: Wreck This Journal

Greetings everyone! Welcome to summer. Yay for summer. Summer means getting out and playing in the sun, hiking and lots of reading. You heard me, it's time to break out the books and get busy with your summer reading. My reading table already seems to be overflowing with books on creativity, writing, fiction by Neil Gaiman and others. However, I wanted to mention a book that will change how you feel about journaling and treating your books.

A few months ago, a friend from my account alerted me that Keri Smith of Living Out Loud fame was working on her latest follow up. Entitled Wreck This Journal, it promised to help artists and journalers break through blocks and inhibitions to get into truly personalized and FUN journaling. Of course, I immediately added it to my wish list as this is a hot topic for me. Then, something magical happened... last month, I was given an advanced copy of this book and it blew away all of the expectations I had.