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An Art Journal Quickie

One of the unexpected side effects of all the browsing I’ve been doing on bookbinding and art journaling boards is that I keep running into Books of Shadows and other Pagan-related stuff.  Some of it is Pinworthy, some more cringeworthy (honestly, rhyming couplets? Why is anyone still using those? For a while in my 20s the entire Pagan community sounded like Mother Goose.), but one thing it all had was nostalgia.

One chant in particular (which, oddly, doesn’t rhyme at all) was one of my very favorites because of the way our coven used to sing it – in parts, usually, with one person taking one or more elements, sometimes switching it about midway, sometimes staying steady.  As I was working on my recipe binder last night (pics coming soon!) I found myself singing it quietly, and smiling,

To commemorate those days I grabbed my art journal, Daisy Jane, and created the following on the page facing the Bill & Ted quote.  It’s the first regular old art journal page I’ve done in a while and I’m quite pleased with it, for the colors if nothing else.

Element Chant

And there, the two neighboring pages together, held up by a happy little Ganesh:

excellent elements

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Stuff and Things

Taking a moment from the ongoing circus that is my psyche to show off some new things I made.  Technically my writing hiatus ends on the 31, but as much as I love the idea of a drumroll followed immediately by my leaping to the keyboard where I stay, engaged in joyful detente with my muse…well, it ain’t happening.  I didn’t really expect taking a break to jump start my creativity, and lo and behold, something turned out exactly like I expected it to.

In the meantime, I’ve been altering more composition books and also remaking my recipe binder (again, but this time I mean it) which I’ll show you once it’s closer to finished and I can get some pics.  Today, I’d like to share two projects for myself, one practical and one profound.

First is this mini art kit made from, you guessed it, an Altoids tin.  It’s sparsely decorated because I expect it to take a beating in my bag.  I needed something to hold tiny items that would otherwise get lost in my pencil pouch.

The artwork on top was a card that came free in a washi tape order from the lovely Aimee at Artsyville.com.  Go see her bright, happy drawings and tapes – a definite mood lifter.

Mini Art TinInside the tin are a few wee essentials:  a broken Prismacolor wrapped in washi tape, some Post-it page flags, a few stickers held inside the lid with a sort of belly-band, and a mini ink cube from Hero Arts in Cornflower blue. There’s also some red double-sided tape, and several tiny stamps (I use them in my planner) that I wood mounted by gluing them to Scrabble tiles.

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I’m sure there will be more items in it once I reorganize my art bag.

Next up is a journal I made for the month of August, when I intend to do a bit of slightly structured everything-searching.  I’m not 100% sure what all that will encompass, but for now, I’ve got a journal ready to go – each day will have a checklist for things like meditation, glasses of water, fruit and veg, gratitude practice, and then room for me to just write or draw or whatever this turns into.

edsj front cover

The journal, who I am calling Sana (long story), started life as a composition book, and like with the Nefarious Plans book I made I used the Beautiful You paper collection from Creative Imaginations.  The metallic charms and such were all in my stash so I’m not sure where most of them came from, but the sparkly things are Recollections from Michael’s.  It’s overenthusiastically distressed with Black Soot and Vintage Photo Distress Ink.

Inside, there’s an acetate window over a pocket to house affirmation cards I’m making, and a pocket down below to store the extras not on display.

edsj int window open

The back cover has a three-pocket situation for god knows what.  I just had fun making it and thought it looked pretty.

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And last is the back cover, not terribly interesting.

Not pictured, the divider/bookmark I made out of a purloined file folder from my office (it was about 20 years old, and that’s not an exaggeration, so I felt justified offering it new life) sprayed down liberally with Dylusions and Glimmer Mists ink sprays and stencils.  I’ll try to get a pic and post it next time.

As always, if you want to see more about these projects, you can have a look at my Flickr photostream.

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Nefarious Porpoises – Altered Composition Book #2

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I made another thing. I’m afraid I’ve got the making-notebooks-pretty addiction.  When I realized that a long-term plan of mine that I wanted to keep separate from my everyday lists and notes would need its own notebook, I sank my little fangs into another composition book.

Thus, I give you Sylvan’s Book of Nefarious Plans.

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back

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The book is covered (outside) with a sheet of Creative Imaginations’ Beautiful You line by Christine Adolph, this design called “Dream.”  The interior paper and spine are from the Tattered and Worn stack by The Paper Studio.

Underneath is just your typical composition book (college ruled).  The notebook has two identical pockets, one in front and one in back, built out of black cardstock.

The back includes a flower and dragonfly embellishment from a K&Co ephemera pack; I added glitter to all the dragonflies with my Sakura Stardust pen.  Not sure where the name tag came from; the title on the front is just two pieces of the Tattered paper.  Letters were stamped with Hero Arts’ Designer Alphabet using my very favorite Versafine ink.  Then I distressed the whole shebang with Vintage Photo Distress Ink.

This one’s going to function mostly just as a notebook, so it didn’t need all the fancy dividers like in my planner – I might put a divider in there somewhere, but I’m going to be working with this one for a while so there’s no furry hurry.

Hope you like it!  I was bouncing up and down with glee over how adorably it turned out.

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If you know anything about me at all you know I a) have been a vegetarian for over a decade b) believe very strongly in ethical veganism and c) have repeatedly tried to go vegan and failed rather spectacularly for going on five years now.  I am convinced, for reasons I won’t go into, that it’s key to moving forward in my life, especially spiritually.

So what’s the problem?  Issues with food, with nourishing myself, with body image, with societal perception, with being too damn lazy to cook…the excuses are legion.  Then a month ago I decided to do a 30 day challenge; putting a time limit on it would trick my brain into not freaking out over “I CAN’T EVER HAVE ICE CREAM AGAIN!” (When the truth is, I can always have ice cream.  Ice cream is legal, widely available.  I am not allergic to it.  If I don’t eat it, it’s because I choose not to; the power is mine, not some omnipotent Vegan Authority’s.)  At the end of the month I could take stock, analyze the results, and go into the next month better prepared.

While I was at it, seemingly out of nowhere I got the mad urge to make something to help the process.  I had been discussing the idea of Books of Hours with my BFF – small books of prayers, usually the liturgical cycle, that people carried around.  There are a lot of them still in existence.  The idea stuck with me; I liked the thought of having a small book to carry with me and reach for whenever I need inspiration.  So, my Ahimsa Book of Hours was born.  Mine’s not nearly as fancy as the medieval versions, but I think it’ll do.

It’s about 3″x5″, made mostly of cardstock and scrapbook paper on a base of chipboard I cut out of a photo-print mailing envelope.  I had an absolute blast making it, because I got to use up all sorts of scraps and bits I had on my desk; and I got to use a lot of techniques, from drawing to distressing to spray inking.  It’s bound using a rather clumsy pamphlet stitch.

I’m including some of the pages here, but to keep this post fairly trim, if you would like to see the whole thing including explanations of what everything is and lists of materials, please head over to my Flickr.

I’m really proud of my little book.  I think it’s beautiful.  I find myself paging through it now and again throughout the day.  It’s a little messy, kind of wonky, and 100% me.  I hope you’ll go look at it more closely – whether veganism is your thing or not, it’s still neat to look at.

1front cover

I tried to achieve a distressed look on the covers and many of the pages.  The resin in the center of the name plate is “ahimsa,” Sanskrit for non-injury, more metaphorically for “dynamic harmlessness.”  It’s the same as the tattoo on the back of my neck.

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Some of you will recognize the above prayer – I wrote it years ago, and though I go back and forth over whether I really count myself a Pagan these days, I still find the words moving.

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I had a lot of quotes I wanted to include but was running out of pages, so I affixed a cardstock triptych to the last page.  The outside of it, the green panel on the left, is very sparkly as it’s made using Glimmer Mist before stamping with two colors of Distress Ink.  Meanwhile I made the envelope on the right to hold vows, goals, and affirmations; I’m planning some mojo to go with the beginning of my next 30 days.

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Now, the back cover is probably my favorite idea in the whole book; it looks like decorative brads, but in fact, it’s a mala!  (I dunno, what’s a mala with you?)  I can chant the Lokah Samastha from the front cover (or Green Tara’s mantra, or any repetitive prayer) while touching the metal brads, one per repetition, spiraling in, then out the other way, in and out as many times as I need to.  I was super pleased with myself.

Anyway, hope you like it, and remember you can go see it up close (and see ways you can customize and make your own).

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Confessions of a Failed Whatever the Hell I Am

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I’ll level with you:  I am positively dreadful at being an author.

I’m a great writer.  That much is not in doubt, at least not to me.  It’s the one thing I’ve always known I’m good at, no matter how crappy I am at everything else involved in living as a human.  I flunked out of college, I bailed on culinary school, I’ve had one meaningless job after another, but I’ve always had writing, so I always knew there was a point to my being here.

The problem is, being a great writer isn’t enough anymore.  You have to be a savvy self-promoter, a whiz at online marketing and navigating the world of ebooks.  You have to do blog tours and conventions. Even if you’re traditionally published, unless you managed to land an agent who nailed down an awesome contract for you, your individual books will matter far more to you than anyone else, especially to the publishing world.  You’ll be on and off the shelves in no time, and regardless of your sales figures, the question will always be, “Okay, but what have you done for us today?”

That’s business.  And these days traditional publishers don’t seem to know what the hell they’re doing either – their world has been utterly scrambled by Kindle and Nook and their friends.  Where’s it all headed?  I don’t know.

I’m an old-school writer.  I’m not a publicist.  I’m not an agent.  I don’t know dick about advertising or SEO or any of that.  I wanted to write back when you didn’t have to do those things – you were just the writer.  You know, like every writer on TV; their publishers arrange these insanely huge launch parties at chi-chi restaurants and there’s a red carpet and reporters.

Every time I see that on TV I want to laugh until I barf.  Or just barf.  Not sure.

I was born just a little too late to be the kind of writer I can be, and at a time when those who make it are exactly the kind of people I’m not.

To say I’m an introvert would be a laughable understatement.  I go through periods, thanks to my bipolar, where I can interact more easily with people and even be the life of the party, but I have no way to predict when that will happen.  I’m much more comfortable in small groups, and I spend most of my time alone by choice.  I love my friends, but I value my privacy and silence and hoard them like gold.

Since my publisher decided not to buy any further Shadow World novels, a decision based on the way business has to be done these days (I tell myself), I’ve been questioning all the versions of the future I thought I would have back when I was a dreamy-eyed kid.  I’m trying to find the motivation to keep going even though my definition of success is no longer relevant.  And honestly, if it weren’t for you guys, you wonderful readers who threaten me with pitchforks and screaming every time you finish one of my books, I’d have given it up by now.  Despite the hate mail (OMG YOU GOT GAY ALL OVER DAVID!) and the insults (DIE FAT BITCH DIE AND LEARN TO WRITE) and the disillusionment, you make me glad to do what I do.

(Yes, I’ve been told to die.  I’ve also been told to kill myself because I’m fat, and that I’m lucky I’m fat because otherwise I would get raped like I deserve to – welcome to being a woman on the internet.)

That said, the past few months have been very difficult, and while I feel like I’m on a more even keel thanks to a series of adjustments to my meds, I have found in the last month that I can’t write a word.  I make notes and lists and timelines, but when I open the files I can’t even touch the keyboard.  Book 6 is four chapters long right now, and I hate it; I need to gut it and rebuild it, but I just stare at the screen.

Here we come to the actual point of this post:  I’m taking a (very short) sabbatical from writing, through the end of July.  Not long, just a little break – and not a total blackout either.  I’m not going to open either SW6 or Agency 6, but if I feel inclined to do some small thing (read: porn) I may dally a bit.  And I will in all likelihood blog – I’ve been feeling this need to SAY THINGS lately, and there was a time I was much braver on my website.

While said short leave of absence goes on I need to reconsider my priorities and what is still possible for me.  I’ll never truly stop writing, of course, but my heart is tired and my mind is worn, and whatever I had imagined for my life at 36, this ain’t it.  I know I won’t figure it all out in a month.  I just need a tiny breather.   If it ends up going on through August as well (a distinct possibility) I’ll be sure and say so up front – I don’t want to just disappear.  After all, hopefully in a few months I’ll have new stories for you.

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