On ArtistFirst Radio Network Tonight!

You read that correctly! Tonight at 7:30 p.m. Eastern Time I’m going to be live on ArtistFirst Radio talking shop with Vicki Drane. I hope you’ll listen in, but if you don’t have time, don’t worry! A recording will be available afterwards.

Remember, Wednesday, April 27 at 7:30 p.m. Eastern Time here: http://www.artistfirst.com/drane.htm.

WINNERS ANNOUNCED: Call for Journal Submissions

At the beginning of April, I made a YouTube video asking notebook and journal makers to submit their gem/jewel/crystal-themed journals. I’ve been looking for one to use for another book in my 10-year publishing plan. See my original video here:

I was thrilled with the wonderful entries submitted! I’d like to show you the beautiful and widely varied notebooks these amazing artists have created, and then I’ll tell you which journals I decided on. Yes, that’s right. Once I saw them all, I couldn’t just buy one. All of these creators are very talented, and they’re going to be the first on my list of where to buy my next notebooks. Here they are in no particular order:

inblue

inblue is on Etsy and they have their own website. They make handmade leather journals as well as many other things. They were nice to talk to and flexible, saying they could create a 5×8 leather journal for me with this image on the front:

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This custom journal would cost $48, but if you’re looking for something they already have in stock, there are currently two that each cost $32. I like the look of them and they leave a lot of room for your imagination to take over. If you ever want to ask if they can create something for you, they’re flexible!

Visit inblue here to see what they’re making:

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/InBlueHandmade/
Twitter: https://twitter.com/inbluehandmade

Luna Blue Creations

Julie Timis creates all kinds of incredible polymer clay art, and one type of art is her journals. She has her own website for all her merchandise, but she’s also on Etsy. The journal she submitted is stunning and original:

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The journal underneath the art is a premium hardbound black notebook at 5.5×8 inches, made by Peter Pauper Press. It has 192 unlined pages of premium quality acid-free paper. Here’s how she describes the artwork on the notebook: “The Polymer Clay Cover is handcrafted with love using polymer clay (black and translucent clay), beads and pearl ex powder. The translucent clay with pearl ex powder created a beautiful pearlescent look, just like jewels. Journal might look delicate but All beads are glued before curing and they are secured well and durable for everyday use.”

WOW! Anything you buy from her is a one-of-a-kind original, you won’t find another like it! This journal is also $48.

Follow Luna Blue Creations here to see Julie’s latest creations:

Facebook: www.facebook.com/lunabluegifts
Pinterest: www.pinterest.com/LunaBlueGifts

Note Jewels

Selling both jewelry and gorgeous journals, Not of This Earth (NOTE) Jewels has an Etsy store that is filled with irresistible beauties. The one they submitted is actually part of their Enchantment Series:

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The creator describes the journal better than I can paraphrase: “‘Enchanted Forest’ is a beautiful 8.25″x6.5″ gold embossed diary. The enchanted theme is the same on the front as the back. Rich hues of brass, moss, sienna and peridot can be found in this OOAK piece. An intricate vintage glass cabochon rests in the heart of this forest surrounded by other stunning brass components. All ranging from filigree, to flowers, dragonflies, and other matching Swarovski rhinestones. The pages inside are lined and blank and have a stunning gold shimmer along the outside.” The journal itself is from Peter Pauper Press and is $64.

Don’t forget, this journal is part of a series of journals, and there’s also jewelry in the same series!

 

Black Dog Bindery

If you want custom-made, Black Dog Bindery is happy to consult! They have a store on Etsy with pre-made notebooks, but they’ll also make one specifically for you. In fact, the owner asked if there were elements of my book I could tell her about so that she could personalize the journal as much as possible. Here’s the lovely notebook she submitted:

submission

Inside is an envelope for stray notepapers as well as more decorations. There’s even a key pattern inside, just for me! The journal is 6×8.5 with 100 pages that have varied decorations down the sides and sometimes in a corner of the page. The binding you see on the side is called Belgian Secret Binding. Doesn’t that look like a wearable brooch on the front? This one is $35, and there is a wide range of both styles and prices in their Etsy store. They even have sheet music!

Follow Black Dog Bindery for their latest creations:

Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/black_dog_bindery/

TeoStudio

Here is another amazing artist that works directly with the author to make your dream journal. TeoStudio is on Etsy and they have their own website, and everything is handmade according to your style. I consider these “forever journals” – the types you put serious thought into and show off everywhere you go. Here are the two journals that were submitted:

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The owner was very clear that she could work directly with me to create exactly what I wanted and that these were just examples along the lines of what I suggested in my video. (Obviously they’re beautiful!) The notebook TeoStudio would create for me would be 6×8 with “leather binding decorated with precious / semiprecious stones (that we would agree upon together), filled with writing / artist quality paper, white or antiqued. Depending on your choice of paper the journal would have between 110 and 320 pages (220 – 640 sides). Other features include handsewn headbands and marbled endpapers. Everything is made by hand” and she can incorporate stones cast into brass or copper rings. Mind blown!

Depending on whether you would like something simple or something super complex, the price ranges from $33 to $985. There’s really something for everyone here.

Keep up with TeoStudio’s new ready-to-order journals as well as their latest custom orders:

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/TeoStudio/
Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/teostudiobookbinding/

Tilsim Handcrafts

On Etsy, TilsimHandcrafts offers a variety of leather notebooks with stitching and metal details. They’re all extremely unique, and some have symbolism behind them. I don’t currently have permission to share images from their Etsy store (if this changes, I’ll post a picture ASAP), and the image I received in our messages was too small to use, so please do visit their Etsy store to see these very original journals that come in a variety of sizes and prices.

See what they’re making now:

Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/tilsimhandcrafts/

Which journals did I buy?

Before I tell you what I bought, let me just say that I truly adored all the submissions! There are loads more journals made by all of these artists, so be sure to take a look at their wonderful wares. It was so much fun going through their submissions and their whole shops!

Now to get down to business.

Let’s face it. I can’t help myself. I love notebooks and I use them all the time. None of them go to waste, but I do need special ones for certain works that require an ambiance for me to write properly. I didn’t just buy one. I bought one for the project I mentioned in my video, and then I bought two more: one for my future Gems of Sisterhood anthology pieces (the first one, Gems of Strength, comes out May 30!), and one for my upcoming medieval book(s) that will be published after the Dark Victoriana Collection is finished.

My jewel-theme journal choice

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As soon as I saw this journal, I knew it was the one for this piece. I had nothing in particular in mind when I posted my YouTube video, but it struck me right away that this was what I was looking for…even though I wasn’t looking for anything in particular. It’s stunning and to me, absolutely perfect. I can’t wait to see it in person!

See what else Not of This Earth Jewels has in stock here, including amazing jewelry: https://www.etsy.com/shop/NoteJewelry

My Gems of Sisterhood choice

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I love the intricate detail of this notebook all throughout. It represents my writing well in a lot of ways, and I could see myself using it as my go-to short story notebook, not just for the Gems of Sisterhood series but for other shorts as well. Even poetry and haikus! It resonates with me. I can’t wait to get my hands on it!

Check out the other great journals Black Dog Bindery has in stock: https://www.etsy.com/shop/BlackDogBindery

My medieval novel(s) choice

This one is off the map – this shop didn’t submit because, well, I didn’t say I was looking for a medieval journal. I just happened across it and gasped out loud at its magnificence.

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I think this journal will make the difference in my note taking; the current one I’m using really doesn’t fit the theme at all. This one is 5.2×7.3 inches with 128 pages for $22. There are actually a few journals I love in FallnAngel Creations, and I was surprised to find equally beautiful and intricate binder designs, something I don’t see too often. I think a few of these will be on my wishlist for some future projects.

Take a look at all the goodies FallnAngel Creations makes: https://www.etsy.com/shop/FallnAngelCreations

Monday Thoughts on Creativity: Simplification

Be gentle, Monday. It’s all a bit sudden.

Creative simplicity

Have you ever read a line in a book or a poem that blew your mind with its simplicity? Sometimes a writer can break a concept down so far that you’re wowed and amazed that it never occurred to you to phrase or express it that way. I find this to be a rare quality in fiction – usually just one or two sentences through a whole book, and only 1 out of 25 books – but when it happens, it stops me in my tracks. If I’m listening to an audiobook, I rewind to hear it again. Sometimes I stop the track just to think about it. If it’s a physical book, you can bet I’ll lose some serious reading time in admiring that brilliance.

I feel similarly impressed when a writer can take a story down to its bare essentials and come out with something distilled to the point of perfection. I like to pause and think about why the piece would normally be longer and what would be fleshed out and detailed. When an author can take all of that out of a piece and end up with something more powerful than the usual elongated version, it took some serious creative thought. It sounds like the opposite – the more creativity something takes, the bigger it should be. Well, that can happen, but think about how creative you have to be to whittle and whittle and whittle until you’re down to only the most hard-hitting words for a complex and expansive piece of – what? 100 words? 20 words? Now that’s my kind of creativity.

Go Indie Now: The Latest Indie Trends

Indie is where you discover brave new adventures in creativity. My friend Joe Compton, author of Amongst the Killing and super fantastic supporter of all things indie, has started a website called Go Indie Now. It’s the place to be for live interviews, events, and more, all revolving around the latest in indie culture. Authors, musicians, movie producers, and loads of other indie artists are and will be featured constantly and consistently to give you your indie fix.

I was lucky enough to be featured on Go Indie Now’s very first podcast and YouTube video series! My chat with Joe was so much fun, you’ll feel like you’re sitting right there with us. Visit his video and comment so we can all discuss: https://youtu.be/taoN8PaU6Qg?t=48m53s. That link takes you right to my chat with Joe, but watch the whole video for more interviews, all so completely different: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=taoN8PaU6Qg&feature=youtu.be. Don’t feel like watching a video? You can listen to the podcast of our chat: http://goindienow.podbean.com/e/goindienow-episode-1-interview-with-christie-stratos/.

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The next HUGE event is the weekend of April 8-10, when Go Indie Now will be having 72 hours of live coverage for the Brain to Books Cyber Convention. That’s 3 full days of interviews, chats, music, first-look book trailers, and all sorts of cutting edge things. Everyone will be talking about it, so be sure to stop by Go Indie Now’s site! I’ll be moderating a discussion between some amazing women in the publishing industry, and I’ll probably participate in more than one live event. Watch my blog for dates and times.

In the meantime, be sure to congratulate Joe on his wonderful support of all things indie!

Connect with Go Indie Now:

YouTube

Podbean

Twitter

Monday Thoughts on Creativity: Clearing Your Mind

Hello Monday. You’re unexpected.

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Sometimes when I’m overly stressed, I can’t concentrate on creativity easily. It’s not a flowing process, so I need to cleanse my brain’s palette. There are two ways that I do this:

  • I make lists of everything I need to do. One of the things I constantly stress about is forgetting what needs to be done, and that can even keep me from sleeping well. Luckily there’s a simple solution: always having to-do lists. That’s easy enough!
  • When I get overwhelmed and have a hard time clearing my mind, I write haikus. I typically look up pictures of nature or the beautiful landscapes in Morrowind and write haikus about them, which is especially gratifying since haikus were originally intended to revolve around nature. Somehow this has a calming effect on me and clears my mind enough that I can let creativity take over.

A couple of weeks ago I asked what others do to relax themselves when they’re overly stressed, and I’m going to do a video about that soon. I got some great suggestions, so hopefully they’ll help you too! In the meantime:

Monday Thoughts on Creativity: Creativity is Subtraction

Mondays are very sneaky, aren’t they? Just as you get used to living in the weekend, BAM, Monday wakes you up at 6 a.m.

YES. One way I personally interpret this – and I feel there are many ways to read it – is that editing is also creativity. In order for me to write and not edit as I go, I’ll include cliches and wrong words in the first draft of a novel or short story or even poem. I’m trying to get my ideas down, and in novels, twists and turns and psychology. Those are the most important things in the first draft. When I edit, I accentuate my writing style. I delete all unnecessary words and cliches. When I add something, it’s necessary, and when I change something, it’s to make it original. I adjust the character’s voice to sound like them in particular. I consider editing part of the art of writing.

Another way I interpret this is the very reason I love flash fiction, and the shorter the better. I recently wrote two 16 word pieces. I started with something 21 words long and whittled it down to 16 words with careful consideration of tense, anything that slowed it down, every word counting for more than it’s worth, and meaning behind the meaning. I came out with something much stronger than the 21 word version.

My opinion is that creativity is many things, and nothing can be left out. Creativity is subtraction (careful wording), addition (fleshing out characters), multiplication (creating series), and division (anthologies). It’s the only kind of math I care to do.

Monday Thoughts on Creativity: Do Share

Monday is only acceptable if you take the day off.

contagious creativity

I love this concept. In this day and age, with all the social sharing we can do, this has never been more true. We can share small works, especially passages from our current WIP and haikus and photography. Whether it’s through something formal(ish) like Wattpad or relaxed like Instagram, we can share our work and our ideas instantly and for free. I’ve never shared a whole book for free, only short works, but I do have a book or two in mind to share permafree.

Think about this too.

Libraries, art galleries, restaurants – these are all ways to share creativity, free or not. Whether it’s a novel, a piece of art, or a fusion dish, it’s something meant to bring beauty and inspiration, thought and emotion to us. Those who enjoy it get inspired to create something else, whether it’s something similar but with their own spin, or something completely unrelated. It’s because we can share our visions, our drafts, our final products that others catch the creativity bug. It’s about sharing and appreciating and interpreting. It’s about opening ourselves up to everything and deciding for ourselves what we’ll be and what we’ll create because others have shown us more than we could ever imagine. So share and share alike. I know I will.