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How to Keep a Reading Journal

A reading or book journal can be a great way to record your thoughts and progress on reading books.  Book clubs and other get togethers can be a fantastic way to interact with people about the same books, as well.  Here are a few tips:

  1.  I have a journal that I use exclusively for book reviews, thoughts, and goals for future readings.  I find that it helps to centralize my thoughts into one location.  (Of course, I love making journals, so I have about five that I write in each week!)
  2. Record the date, the title and the page number at the top.
  3. I like to chat about what is going on as I’m reading the book.  Am I on vacation?  Did I just have another Kickstarter campaign?  What volunteer work am I doing at the time?  I find that my current projects sometimes color the book that I’m reviewing.
  4. Discuss the book themes and main characters.  Did you like them as people?  One of the current themes that I’m not liking is the bad things happen to women and then they go all karate/judo and get revenge.  Is it a trope that bad things happen and then women need to be rescued or get revenge?  Perhaps too much video game plotting is seeping into books, just a thought.
  5. Talk about where the novel is located.  Is it in space, Earth, or in a mine?  Was the world building appropriate?  I remember a romance that I read many, many years ago where it was located in a city where I had spent much time there.  (Port Townsend) The location seemed like a generic small town and not once did they mention the very large tourist/shopping area.  This was before the age of google, but couldn’t they at least pick a tourism brochure and make sure that it mentioned a few landmarks?  Or even that there is a large fishing fleet harbored there?
  6. How did you acquire the book?  Gift, bookstore, book club?
  7. Did you like the resolution?  Would have made different choices?
  8. Is it difficult to believe the character could actually do those things?  This is a problem in multi book series in science fiction and fantasy.  All characters grow during the course of the books, but in those genres, the authors are compelled to give them new abilities and powers that don’t seem reasonable.  For instance, a poor magician suddenly finds out that he has magic beans and that he can stop nuclear blasts.  A space ship is given a over haul and can suddenly travel to new galaxies overnight.  Did the author actually layout a reasonable process for those new powers/abilities?
  9. Was it a predictable read or not?  Was that a good thing or not?
  10. Is this a book that you would recommend to others?

Is there anything else that you would add to this list?  Your reading journal is about you and the books that you read, make sure that is included in your entries.

Feel free to add suggestions in the comments!

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Comment on Bloomberg Business article about Etsy

I’ve gone back and forth on whether or not to list my products are Etsy.  They do have traffic, but am I going to benefit from that traffic?  You can have all the traffic in the world but if a portion isn’t directed at your shop, you might as well be invisible.

Here is a recent article about ‘Artisanal Factories’ and how Etsy wants to work more with them:

This is a quote from Fred Wilson.  Someone who is a really brilliant venture capitialist.  If you don’t know who he is, he’s been running facebook ads touting his expertiveness.  (Seriously, he is well respected.)

Fred Wilson Quote

I guess Etsy needs to do stuff to get noticed by money folks, but do they really need to get in bed with someone who doesn’t see handmade as part of Etsy’s key values?  Who does Fred think built Etsy?  Who does Fred think trucked all their customers over to Etsy?

Now, that some of those same people have transformed themselves into mini factories shipping thousands of units a year, perhaps he has a point.  Maybe the top 20% of seller are not making handmade goods anymore.  They probably, if they are not outsourcing product manufacturing, have manufacturing tools to help them make that much product.

However, as someone who has a smaller Etsy shop, I’ve got to wonder if I should be investing time and effort to pay for more listings.  Am I to be outnumbered by the journal companies that take a chipboard premade notebook, add a funny saying, and then call it home made?  According to craft count, those companies make way more sales than I will with my handmade book journals.

Etsy has long redefined handmade as something that you buy with a bow on it.  A recent example that I saw on Facebook was a tutu maker who pre-bought all her tutus and then added flowers and figures to it.  I really had no idea that the many tutu makers on etsy weren’t making their own tutu’s.  Really, a tutu is one the easiest things to make.  It’s a wide elastic waist and netting.

Now in this quote from the same article, it appears that Etsy doesn’t want people to notice that there is mass produced products on their handmade website.

Etsy Article

Um, gotta say, that is perhaps too late.  When I went shopping for a tshirt for my sweetie earlier this year, it was very apparent that there were generic models with tshirts photoshopped on them.  Maybe someone else would like a minion shirt, but I am more interested in original tshirts that no one else has.

Or perhaps, Etsy is to replace SkyMall, which folded last year, and have small lot manufacturing.

If someone wants to buy blanks or products that you can put a bow on to make it Etsy legal, here are a few resources:


Fire Mountain Gems:

Panda Hall:

Bicycle Playing Cards:

And I could go on and on there are tons of companies that are willing to premanufacture your handmade goods.  I’d list out more, but I think it’s pretty clear that Etsy needs the volume to make their business grow.  After all, how else are they going to prop up their stock price?

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25 Journal Writing Prompts

Sometimes we all need a little help getting started writing a journal entry.  Here are twenty five writing prompts for journals:

  1. Do you remember learning how to read?
  2. If you could have a robot do one task for you, what would it be?
  3. Would you rather be a werewolf or a vampire?
  4. If you had one snapshot that could go viral on social media, which one would it be?
  5. What was the best pun that you’ve heard recently?
  6. What do you like to write with?  A pen?  A pencil?  Glitter pen? Keyboard?
  7. Have you self edited your social media posts?  Have you exaggerated the ‘good’ in your life or the ‘bad’?  Discuss why.
  8. If you had a only an hour to pack to save yourself from zombies, what would you bring? Only weapons?  Clothes?  Perhaps a red pair of high heels that can also be a weapon?
  9. What makes you want to volunteer your time to a cause?
  10. Doodle instead of writing today.
  11. Would you rather visit a chain coffee house, like Starbucks or visit an independent coffeehouse?  Or perhaps you would not be caught dead in one?
  12. What is the first book that you remember reading?
  13. Compare frozen food to home cooked food.  Which do you actually eat more often?
  14. Christmas and holiday traditions that you miss.
  15. How has your family changed over the years?
  16. Write a paragraph about oranges that does not mention the color, name or the word orange.
  17. Describe the smell of fresh spring rain.
  18. If you see someone with a clothing tag hanging out, do you tell them?
  19. Describe the last time that you laughed.
  20. We always hear about 5 year goals and the current year goals.  What are your 2 1/2 year goals?
  21. Do you always finish books or movies?  Why or why not?
  22. Which food do you remember from your childhood that you never eat now?
  23. If you had to start over, what would you change?
  24. What are you grateful for?
  25. Describe the perfect day.


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Found Between the Pages

I find all sorts of interesting thing while reworking books into book journals.

This mysterious stock quote was found in a Hardy Boys Mystery.  Frozen in time, it appears to be from the 1980’s judging by the Holiday Inn stationary it was written on.  I like to think a Eastern Washington business person was watching a stock quote show while reading his/her trusty Hardy Boy’s mystery from the 1960s.  Hopefully they remembered to buy the stock!

Found Note in Hardy Boys Mystery
Found Between the Pages

This extensive note was found in a copy of The House at Pooh Corner.  I love that it talks about philosophy and why studying it can lead to understanding your fellow man.  Safely tucked in a children’s book that is also about philosophy and how to be a better person. 🙂

Found Note found in Pooh Bear Book
Found Between the Pages

What will I find next?  I don’t know!  I’m looking forward to sharing more notes, notes from the past and funny bits on the blog.

Have a great day!

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Write Your Own Story in a Journal

Why should you have a personal writing journal?  The reasons can be complex and simple at the same time.  A journal can help solidify a thought, call others into question, or be the new step in your life.  A journal doesn’t have to be about writing, it could be doodling or drawing your thoughts and perceptions.  Today’s art journals are also a stepping tool into the soul of the creator.  They can be hand drawn, stencils, or collages.  Each one is unique and reflects the heart of the artist or writer that created it.  Starting off with a non-mass produced or altered book is a great way to kick off the creative process.

If you are going to create art on a book page, it might be helpful to add gesso or white background page to a book page to create a good background and to stabilize the page.  Other’s prep by gluing pages together to create a stable surface.

Part of altering a book means letting go of any mistakes.  In real life, I’ve rarely seen an altered book without what the creator would call flaws.  On the internet, everything looks perfect and no mistakes are ever made.  Letting go of the perfection ideals and creating a unique and flawed altered book is part and parcel of the creative process.  Journaling is about acknowledging and giving acceptance to all parts of yourself, just not the perfect ones.

Pinterest and Tumblr are full of perfect journals.  They are perfect for those other people.  Are you creating a journal for Pinterest or yourself?

I enjoy creating blank canvas’s to launch other people’s creativity.  Never mind recreating what I want, explore the process on your own terms and create your own unique journal.



Shop: Paper Butterfly Forge’s Handmade Book Journals

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Blank Books and Journals Reclaimed from Recycled Books


The Secret of the Old Clock Nancy Drew Blank Book

I’ve been busy at working creating blank journals from books lately.  It’s an extremely relaxing and engaging task.  Find a cool book cover or VHS tape.

The Avengers Upcycled VHS Case

Find some cool paper that I would like to see in blank book.



Mr Brown Can Moo Can You Upcycled Journal

Assemble the book and add a sturdy wire binding.

Nancy Drew The Bungalow Mystery Handmade Journal

Paper Butterfly Forge is excited to add recycled books and VHS tape covers to it’s product line up!  Keep an eye out for some of our new products on the website! As always we welcome wholesale and bulk orders.  Custom Orders are just fine!


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Writing Contest – Paper Butterfly Forge LLC

Paper Butterfly Forge is please to announce their first writing contest.  Table top, role playing games, and traditional board games are an important social bonding experiences between family, friends, or that strange person at the con, who told the best jokes.  This contest is about your positive experiences while playing board games with others.  Did you discover something new about your friend?  Impressive strategy?  Perhaps you learned something new about yourself.  In a 1,000 words let the world know about your pivotal moment that happened when you flipped that card, rolled a 1, or learned to lose gracefully.

Writing should be in up to a thousand words, should be about:

  • Tabletop games
  • Board games
  • Role Playing Games

There will be one first place winner, $20.00.

How to enter: This contest ends at 11:50 P.M. PT on October 24, 2015. To enter online, send your entry to (1,000 words maximum), to  If you cannot send in a word doc format, please send a text file. If entries are unreadable, they will not be eligible. To enter via snail mail, mail your entry to Writing Contest, Paper Butterfly Forge LLC, 9792 Edmonds Way PMB 126, Edmonds WA, 98020. Entries must be postmarked no later than October 24, 2015, and received no later than November 10, 2015. Limit three entries per person or e-mail account.  Entries should be sent separately and cannot relate to one another.  Paper Butterfly Forge, LLC is not responsible for lost, late, illegible, or incomplete entries, postage-due mail, or entries not received for any reason.

Void where prohibited.

See other rules.

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Say What? Is that really legal Etsy?

This was a promoted ad, fyi.

train your dragon


So, I was looking for something dragon related on Etsy.  Found this.  A clear reproduction of a Disney property.  A bunch more of them by the same seller.  I didn’t look their entire product listing.

Curious, I scrolled down the description:

Dragon two



I’m done.

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Getting Towards the End of the Kick Starter Campaign

We are getting towards the end of the current Kickstarter campaign.  Thank you to everyone who has pledged.  It’s not quite funded yet.

I’m really looking forward to sending out two color Game Tokens.

Remember that the game tokens will also be slightly larger as well. 🙂

Have a shiny weekend!

Laura Dodson

(I have my fingers crossed that the project will fund!)

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The Middle Zone

Kickstarter thoughtfully sent me an an email that I shouldn’t worry that the project has gone quiet.  It’s the middle part and usually projects get most of their funding at the beginning and the end of the project.

I bought some glow in the dark paint yesterday, that I hope will work out.  While the project has gone dark for now, I’m still busy doing R&D, looking for that perfect color of red, and busy making a holiday campaign for facebook.

For a project that I started in January of this year, I’ve been happy to ship out thousands of Lore Bits.  The road is bumpy from time to time and sometimes you have to hold your breath.  Especially when you have to order thousands of glass domes that will arrive months into the future.

I just got back from mailing some more packages out.  The mail box person, just waved, took the package, and told me that she could see me coming.

I think that these shiny game tokens have legs and I will be shipping them out for a long time.  I can see that coming.


Laura Dodson

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Kickstarter Pt 2 – Resource Tokens

This week Paper Butterfly Forge launched a second kickstarter to support resource tokens.  We learned a lot during the first kickstarter project.

Product size: People like packages of ten.  We will be adding that option to this website.

People were not that fond of the color pink.  Not sure why, it’s a perfectly fine color.  Maybe not for dnd, though.

Shipping payment issues.  More people were willing to pay more for the tokens if I lowered the shipping prices.  Okay…….  I can do that!

We spent some R&D time on how to accurately add images to glass tokens.  It’s not as easy as it sounds.  I have to repeat the same image at least 1,000 times each year.  It took some fiddling, but I have it figured out now.

The token size is also increasing.  It makes it easier to make the image on the glass.

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Is there a Level Playing Field at Etsy?

Update:  (9/8/2015) ThreeBirdNest is no longer on Etsy.

I sell Lore Bits Game tokens on Etsy as well as few other different places.  They sell pretty well for hand crafted game tokens.  However, I’d like to talk about Etsy for a bit.

The plain fact is that I’ve sold seven packages of Lore Bits on Etsy.  Pretty dismal outcome over six months.  I’ve sold like 10 spreadsheets for rental expenses and a few other things.  My day job is doing FP&A work for small companies, so I list generic versions of what I create.

I frequent the forums when I get frustrated with the seller experience on Etsy.  I’ve found that I’m not the only person who is frustrated by Etsy.  Here are some of the issues that I and other people have noticed on their selling platform.


Go through the searching list and I see a lot of resellers and sellers of licensed characters.  There are massive quantities of Disney, Power Rangers and other characters products available for sale.

The vintage resellers have always been part of Etsy, so no problem.  They go to garage sales buy vintage items and resell them like ebay used to.  The licensed characters on the vintage goods are okay, because you have freedom of use if you are reselling an item that you bought.

However, type in “disney” and this is what you get. Hundreds of thousands of Disney products.  Even the main section examples seem to be violating Disney licensing agreements.  Original art that featured Disney Name, Art, and names.  Maybe they have that properly licensed.  Maybe not, I’m not an attorney.

Disney Etsy

This is very frustrating when I’m competing on the same platform with my original game tokens.  With all that noise, how are they going to get found?

Obviously sourcing products from large factories.

First, let me say that factories are great at producing mass produced goods.  I’ve worked in a manufacturing company and well understand that we would not be able to ship with out them.  However, when shops have 10 variations on each of over 500 products listed; it doesn’t take a mental giant to figure out that this is no small workshop that is churning out hundreds of baby leg warmers each year.

Etsy has changed their sourcing policies so that an idea has to be conceived by a designer, but can be produced in an approved factory or some mumble jumble like that.

This allows them to have shops that literally close to a million dollars in sales each year on it.  Target would be happy with a product line that generated that much revenue.

What do you think the average shop owner makes each year?  Less than a $100 a year.

Talk about the haves and the have nots!  I love to knit, but there is absolutely no way that I can knit that many leg warmers.  Factories can always compete on price with crafters, that is the main benefit of mass production.

Public Company

What is going to take for Etsy to change?  It’s probably not going to change.  When a company goes public it makes revenue projections to go public and it is under a lot of pressure to meet those numbers with investors and wall street.

I used to do a fair amount of legwork for publicly traded companies; so I’m perfectly aware of how an investor call can go bad and then the stock is traded poorly after that.

Etsy went public this year, they are being sued by a special interest group about the licensing and so and so forth.  So I’m not the only one who is worked up about some of these issues.

I expect to see a trend of moving to brands and licensed companies selling and creating products on etsy.  After all, didn’t we see mainstream companies selling and promoting products on Ebay after it went public?


  • How can a handmade selling platform feature obvious mass produced objects?
  • Is there so much noise that a small maker can’t get featured on etsy?
  • Why do products that sell at a fairly good clip on other selling platforms do poorly on etsy?
  • What will it take to make a level playing field for everyone?
  • Depend less on SEO and keyword stuffing on products?
  • More curation by etsy staff?

I don’t know the answer those questions.  I do know a sure bang way to increase your etsy views.  Post a few comments in the forum sections.  That is just sad.

Manipulating the SEO on Etsy

There are etsy treasuries now that anyone can create.  Those are subject to manipulations by anyone who wants to take the time to create them.  Why else are there people with thousands of random likes.  You don’t even need to actually go the store to add them to the list.  Merely enter a search term and add things to the treasuries from there.

More blantent are the favs or hearts.  You know what I have to do to favorite my own stuff?  Log on to a different etsy account and favorite it.  Even from the same computer and IP address.  *headdesk*  What did etsy staff not know anything about ghost clicks?  What about the click farms of the 1990s?

After I do a few test clicks or favs the views on my products always increase.  Always.  The search engine is influenced by how many clicks a product gets.  The more clicks it gets, the higher it ranks.

Did I mention the clicks are easy to create?

Promoted Listings

Obviously, I found them to be a waste of money.


Why am I still listed there?  I’m not sure why I am.  Maybe because it’s a traditional place to list products?  Maybe I still hold out hope?  I don’t know.

I sure don’t think that Etsy is a platform for small workshops any more.

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Almost completed with the Kickstarter rewards shipping

Lore Bits Game Tokens Being Sorted


It’s been a long road to get to this step.  I’ve just started working on the final batch for the Lore Bits Kickstarter.  It’s about a month late and  there have been a lot of late nights.  Unfinished Lore Bits even melted in a hot car!  I hadn’t finished putting on the backing, but I wanted to get more finished during a long planned trip.  Put them in a plastic box drove across town and when I checked on the, the paint was melting off the glass.  I guess I should have paid more attention in high school chemestry.  Turns out, if you heat uncured paint, it can reliquify.

But the end is in sight!