Christmas Cards Already?!

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Every year, I look forward to the mad practice of making Christmas cards by hand.  While Halloween has barely passed, I am already knee-deep in crafting this year’s crop of cards.  The process actually began back in September, when I sat down to decide on a design and color scheme!  This year I decided it would be fun to make stockings that could hang on the tree or be used as a decoration in each recipient’s home.  So far, this is what I’ve made:

Click for full-size

Aren’t they cute?  The best part is they are incredibly easy to make!

  

Supplies:

  • Stocking and tag templates
  • Christmas print card stock
  • Stickers or clip art
  • ribbon
  • rubber stamps
  • black ink pad
  • corner rounder
  • hole punch
  • scissors
  • double-stick tape

I knew I was going to make at least twenty cards, so I made a template for the stocking, top “fold,” toe, and heel.  All it took was a few drafts of drawing a stocking shape on a piece of card stock.  To make the “fold,” toe and heel, I traced the stocking onto a piece of copier paper and cut it out.  I cut off the toe, heel, and “fold” and use them to make separate card stock templates.

Use the templates to trace each part of the stocking on various Christmas prints.  Once the pieces are cut, it’s all about mixing the patterns and putting them together with a little double stick tape!  Trim the edges where necessary.  Not even a template can solve the problem of slight irregularities!

For the wording, I pulled out my old Christmas stamps, but its just as easy to write your own sentiments.  Once the words are printed or stamped, trim the card stock.  Find a contrasting color and cut it to a size slightly larger than the text block.  Nip the corners of both layers with a corner rounder.  Attach the text block to the frame, and then attach the entire piece to the stocking.

For a little flare, add a couple stickers or clip art to accent the text block.

Optional: Punch a hole in the upper corner of the stocking. Thread ribbon through the hole along with a to/from tag.  I made the tags using left-over Christmas paper and a tag template.

Stay tuned for a post on Christmas gift tags.  I had a ton of Christmas paper left over so I decided to put it to good use by making my own to/from tags.

Season’s Greetings!

c.b. 2011

Query Letter Lessons

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I haven’t looked at my query letter in over a week.  For the most part it’s done and all I have to do is send it out.  Or so I thought.  The more I research agents and agencies the more I realize there is a lot more to this process than I ever imagined!  Most of the agents I’ve pegged as possibilities want more than just a query letter.  They want a one-page or extended synopsis, the first 10 pages, or the first five chapters.  All things I thought would come after I was rejected a few dozen times and then finally accepted by one (wonderful) agent.  It’s funny how my writer’s imagination often tries to paint my future!

My goal was to send out three queries before the end of the year, but the added tasks at hand are a bit concerning. I now find myself scrambling to polish my novel’s minor punctuation errors and fixing a few issues regarding missing “of’s” “the’s” and the bane of my writers existence: homophone mix-ups. It looks like I’ll be spending a few more evenings in my writing spot to get all of this done!

It’s all so maddening, but I can’t help but step back and do a little self-reflection.  I’ve learned a lot since I made the decision to try and get published.  The process is far from over and I have a lot more to learn, but here’s where I stand now:

1) Query letters truly test your ability to not only write, but sell your story.  I truly believe this is the ultimate test of whether I’ve got the gumption to follow through.

2) Writing a synopsis is difficult, but I’m making it much harder than it needs to be. My fears and doubts are holding me back and I need to start fighting.

3)  My novel is done, but I’ll always want to change it no matter what.  My inner perfectionist will never be satisfied and I have to learn to be okay with that.

4) I can’t make everyone happy.  Everyone sees my novel differently and perceives my query letter through an individual lens.  I can’t beat myself up when someone doesn’t get it.

5) Allowing doubt to fuel my procrastination has to stop.  Today.

c.b. 2011

Mind the Gap (Part 2)

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This is the second installment in a series of vignettes inspired by travelers of the London Underground.

Faded

Clad in little shorts and chunky running shoes, two blondes bounce onto the train at Holborn. Between giggles they gossip about friends, family, and co-workers.  The biggest worry they have is deciding whether it’s a better deal to rent a flat on a month-to-month basis or with an annual lease. With their stretchy bedazzled tank tops and manicured nails, the money isn’t really a concern.  It just sounds like the right thing to say.

Beside them she sits with downcast eyes.  Her ankles are swollen and her shoes feel too small.  In her lap, she holds onto an oversize bag with a pair of hands that know the pain of a hard day’s work. She remembers being mini-skirt thin with cute sandal-worthy feet.  It’s all so fleeting, so easily taken for granted.  She’s long past due and out of chances, which makes her wonder if tomorrow will have meaning. Such lofty goals for someone caught in a hollow moment.

The doors slide open and youth slips away.

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Sikh

With his dark skin and long black beard, he looks different from the rest.  Twenty pairs of eyes scan him up and down, but quickly look away.  As he takes a seat, shoulders stiffen and brows knot above noses.  Alert and nervous, they all hope the next stop is his. To them, the turban he wears can only mean one thing.

He says nothing and sits tall.

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Distracted

At Notting Hill Gate, every seat is filled with tourists loaded with shopping bags and locals trying to get home.  A French couple squeezes through the crowd, she with bright red lips and he with a small dog in his arms.  It’s been a long day of judgment and obedience, but the blue ribbon attached to the dog’s collar makes all the effort worthwhile.

The little terrier doesn’t cry, whimper, or fidget.  He  won today for being the best and all eyes remain on him.  Two American tourists resist the urge to reach out and pet him.  Suburbanites look up briefly from their newspapers and books, while children point and smile.

The dog is oblivious, but the owner beams with pride.  The girl with red lips holds onto the rail, desperate for a seat.  She is hungry, exhausted, and has had enough.

No one sees her.

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Note: Project Art Journal will return next Friday.

c.b. 2011

Wreck This Journal: Smile

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The last few Wreck This Journal posts highlighted some critical epiphanies, so I thought it was time to be a little more lighthearted.  There are several blank pages in the journal, which I’ve decided are there for me to experiment with my own ideas.  On one of those blank pages I created a little shrine for a few things in life that make me happy.  Aside from family, friends, and a slew of other little joys, these are some of my favorite things that keep me smiling:

The curve of the book makes it hard to read so I’ll fill in a few blanks!

Books . . . make me think.  I’ve had a book in my hand every since I was little girl.  To this day, a lot of my free time is spent reading everything from literature, mainstream, YA, and historical non-fiction.  It’s a passion!  Every evening, I look forward to time with a good book.

Chocolate . . . is a food group (I swear it is).  This will probably be my undoing, but I can’t resist that sweet, smooth, and delectable treat.  It’s almost like I have a relationship with this stuff, (especially Reese’s Peanut Butter cups!).

Movies . . . remind me to dream.  I go to the movies almost every weekend ($5 on Sunday mornings!) and I have a massive DVD collection in my home.  And never mind, what I keep on my iPod!  I love just about every genre as long as its well-made, original, fun, or thought provoking.  Movies take me to another place and let my imagination go crazy.

TV . . . is both good and bad.  I only watch a handful of shows, but once or twice a week I’m glued to the TV.  After a long day of work or a hard day of writing, my brain needs a break!  Currently, I’m watching Big Bang Theory, Person of Interest, The Office (sometimes), Once Upon a Time, and Psych.

Crosswords . . . keep me searching for the right words.  Every day after work, I sit down with a bowl of cereal and complete a crossword puzzle.  It’s relaxing and it keeps my mind sharp.  As a writer, I’m fascinated by words and I think its incredibly important to always keep my inner dictionary fresh and updated.

Music . . . is my emotional soundtrack.  My iPod is never more than a couple feet away from me.  It’s filled with playlists for every mood, writing project, or event in my life.  Some of my playlists include: At the Movies, Bluesy Rock, BritFolk, Cheese Factory (essentially this is guilty pleasure music that is cheesy beyond belief), Christmas, Classical, Rainy Day, Running Music, If I Could Dance, Easy Listening, Feel Good Mix, and Feelin’ Fierce.  There’s many more, but this is already sounding a bit crazy!

Barnes & Noble Cafe . . . makes me smile and gives me a place to relax.  Yes, I actually cut apart my coffee cup and pasted it to the page! I spend anywhere from 3 to 4 evenings a week at my local Barnes & Noble.  I love the people, the coffee, and the atmosphere.  This is where I write, relax, and socialize.  It’s like a second home to me and I always look forward to walking through the doors.

What are your favorite things?

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For previous Wreck This Journal posts, please see my sidebar and tag cloud.

c.b. 2011