Tuesday, September 12th, 2017

Cloth and Paper Subscription Review

A round dish full of push pins.  Image Courtesy of DreamsTime.com.As part of my “obsession” with planning, I’ve tried a few planner subscriptions this year, using money I received for Christmas. I love getting things in the mail, so a subscription that delivered planning supplies right to my mailbox was doubly exciting.

A Cloth and Paper subscription appealed to me because they bill themselves as providing “luxury” planning supplies. The subscription was pricy: $100 for three months. But if I received quality, engraved, luxury items – as the advertisement seemed to imply – I figured the cost was worth it.

Short Review:

  • The items were mostly luxury, but often not planner related.
  • Some things appeared luxury, but were of poor quality.
  • Many items were not even useful.
  • Customer service is lacking.

All in all: Not recommended — especially if your objective is to outfit your planner.

I should caveat that my recommendation to stay away from Cloth and Paper has more to do with expectations than the quality of (most of the) actual items received. Also: I was very disappointed with my one customer service experience.

Now for a more detailed review:

When you sign up for a Cloth and Paper subscription, you’re asked what size planner you own (so they can send things to you in your planner size) and also for your name or initials (or whatever) you’d like engraved on the items that are mailed to you.

How exciting!

However, not once in my three-month subscription (January – March) did I receive an item that would fit in my planner. Nor, did I receive anything engraved with my name. All planner items received were “odd” sizes. Many of these items remain in their shipping box, as I have no idea where—or how—to put them to use.

The Boxes

In January I received:

January 2017 Cloth and Paper Subscription Photo: Scissors, Notebook, Purse, Small notebook

  • a pair of brass handled scissors – with a nut and bolt so large connecting the two halves it’s comical. The scissors do cut well, but are quite heavy and are not something I’ll carry with my planner.
  • a “hand crafted” change purse – made of a material I can’t identify. Because it’s constructed by folding, rather than sewing, there are gaps in the bottom two corners. The top folds over like an envelope, also creating gaps in the top corners. It’s “sealed” with a button.
  • a brass pen – which didn’t write. The pen is heavy, which I personally prefer, but others may find writing for long periods with it to be difficult.
  • a 5 x 8 notebook with unlined paper. I have a personal preference for lined paper, so this notebook didn’t appeal to me. It’s also “perfect bound” which means that it won’t lie open flat.
  • a smaller notebook- also unlined, meant to be kept in your purse or bag. In all these months, I haven’t had an occasion to use it, even though I carry it with me.

Note that none of these items are true “planner supplies.” All items are stamped or engraved “Cloth and Paper” or C&P — not my initials.

I was too lazy to send a note about the pen that didn’t write, but I remedied that when the February box came in.

In February I received:

Cloth and Paper February Subscription: Brass Ruler, Brass Pen, Brass Tray, Brass Clip

  • a 6-inch brass ruler
  • a brass desk tray
  • a brass binder clip
  • a gold-toned pen that looks suspiciously like a “Cross” knock-off.

Again, nothing for my planner, and all the engravings are “Cloth and Paper” or “C&P.”

I was quite disappointed with this shipment. I’m not likely to use any of these items, except perhaps the clip just to try it out. I suspect that it will fall off in my purse and relegate itself to the “useless” pile. Brass is not my thing, so I won’t be using these items on my desk.

Because I didn’t like the shipment, I contacted Cloth and Paper via email to ask if I could exchange the box for something else. While I was at it, I asked if they could send me a refill cartridge for the January pen which didn’t write.

A C&P representative wrote back promptly. There were a few back and forth messages to verify which pen cartridge I needed and the rep said that I could exchange the box.

Happily, I wrote back and asked how we could make the swap.

In the next email exchange, the rep changed her tune: she said that she had made a typo. She’d meant to type “can’t” not “can” about being able to exchange the shipment, and that no exchange of the February box was possible. And that was that. She did send two refill cartridges for the pen (about a week later) however.

In March I received:


  • sticky notes, all of which have the company name “J’adore” printed—large and bold in black ink—across the top. These are neither luxurious nor plentiful (containing about 20 pages on the pad). They’re small—and the logo takes up a lot of space. I wonder if these were a “freebie” that the C&P people received from elsewhere and charged their subscribers for? They’re neither luxury nor quality. Frankly, I’ll have to use these as “throw aways” because they really can’t be used with correspondence with the large logo on top.
  • Phone Message Pad – which is printed on VERY high quality card stock. But the cards are white and the printing is gold and that makes the form very difficult to read. These are so wasteful, when you consider their use.
  • Expense Pad – This is one of the places where C&P could have gotten things right by sending me something in 5 x 8. Instead, the pad is 4 3/4 x 7 which doesn’t fit well in my planner.
  • Weekly Agenda Cards – Again, printed on heavy card stock. These might be useful on special occasions, such as when you’re at a conference and want a quick schedule you could use at a glance. I don’t think I’ll find these useful on a weekly basis (although some other folks might).

All in all, I was highly disappointed with the subscription. My expectations were that I would receive planner supplies to match the size of my planner and that some of the things would be personalized.

Overall: not recommended. While the luxury of most of the items is not in question, the functionality is. Spend your money elsewhere, where you can choose the exact items you want or need and which will fit in your planner.

Monday, April 22nd, 2013

Review: A.R. Hill – A Light Against the Darkness

Cover: A Light Against the DarknessI like my champagne with sparkles, and my vampires without. So, I was thrilled to find A. R. Hill’s A Light Against the Darkness. In a sea of sparkling wannabes, her vampires are dark and brutal and every bit as exciting as vampires should be.

Oni is a Japanese vampire. He’s barbarous and savage and equal parts evil and insecure. He kidnaps a young girl, Samara Takeshi – who he renames Oreno – and turns her into his bride. He forces her love and keeps her locked away in his home. He takes her freedom, her childhood, and her life…

Slowly, Samara realizes that Oni has turned her into a vampire. When the horror of it finally dawns, she feels compelled to get away from him and forge her own destiny. But it’s not until Oni kills her parents that she gains the strength to flee.

After some adventure, Oreno stows on board a ship bound for the United States, makes her way to Hawii and eventually the mainland, where she finds others like herself. They take her in, teach her the ways, and embroil her in politics that only vampire societies can create. She is judged and sentenced by the council yet takes it in stride, earning her place, learning their ways, and makes a “life” for herself.

And then Oni comes calling again.

Samara is just a school girl when she’s faced with the tremendous loss of her humanity and the realization of the horror she’s become. It’s watching and learning how she handles the crisis – choosing to be more than just a monster – despite the knowledge of the long road before her which makes A Light Against the Darkness such a good read. We see the path from her point of view and feel her struggles. We’re with her every step of the way.

But don’t let Oreno’s school-girl history fool you into thinking the book is light on action. Hill keeps the pages turning with: escalating politics, sword fights, gun battles, explosions! There’s just enough blood and gore to satisfy.

Never a dull moment, A Light Against the Darkness is chock-full of intrigue and action. If you like your vampires dark and gritty, this is a must read for you.

Meet the Author – Buy the Book

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/pages/A-Light-Against-the-Darkness/220233924726709?fref=ts

Goodreads: http://www.goodreads.com/book/show/8563444-a-light-against-the-darkness

Amazon: Paperback: A Light Against the Darkness

Create Space: A Light Against the Darkness

Saturday, June 11th, 2011

Great Review for Hellebore and Rue – and – a Contest About the Book

I just read another great review for Hellebore and Rue over at FanGirlTastic.

I’m tickled.

Reviewer Gayle Grazen had many nice things to say, but of course I’m partial to her words about my story, Sky Lit Bargains:


Kelly A. Harmon’s “Sky Lit Bargains” is an enjoyable adventure fantasy tale in which a young woman becomes the warrior in a male-dominated world to avoid a highly unpleasant marital prospect. This could have quite easily been part of a longer work.

Cover of the anthology Hellebore and Rue

This is the second reviewer who’s mentioned that the story could be a longer work. Now I’m wondering if I shouldn’t write it into a novel…?

If you’re read the short story, I’d love your opinion. Drop me a line (or mention in the comments below):

  1. Let it stand!
  2. Write a novel!

(Inquiring minds want to know!)

About the Contest

JoSelle Vanderhooft, one of the editors of Hellebore and Rue is a talented jewelery maker. She is designing necklaces based on the stories in the book and offering them as prizes in a little contest.

To win, all you have to do is make a post about Hellebore and Rue on any social media outlet, and then post back to her blog by June 15, 2011 to let her know. It’s that easy.

Details — and a picture of the lovely necklace– are on Joselle’s Blog, the Memory Palace.

Monday, December 20th, 2010

A (Brief) Review of “How I Write” by Janet Evanovich

Cover: How I Write by Janet EvanovichI read a lot of “How to Write” books. I love to. I find it fascinating, as I think many other writers do, to witness the writing process of another writer.

Some books are good. Others are duds.

This one, for me, is a dud, mainly because the information is very basic.

The book is divided into sections (Creating Great Characters, Nuts and Bolts, Structure, Revising and Editing, Getting Published, and more) each with an introduction by Ina Yalog.

These introductions are, in my opinion, the best part of the book. They contain most of the valuable nuggets of information.

The rest of each section is set up in Q&A format. From the length of many questions, I assume that these are real questions that Evanovich has fielded from aspiring writers, taken verbatim from email or letter. In fact, a few of the same questions are still on the FAQ of her Web site.

Evanovich’s answers are short and to the point. Quite clearly she stays on topic of “How I   Write.” It’s not often Evanovich does more than answer the literal question as asked.

It wouldn’t have taken much, I think, to put in a bit more effort — to answer questions more completely — and create a more comprehensive, more useful, book.

Some points are illustrated by snippets of prose from Evanovich’s many Stephanie Plum series books. Although useful, these sometimes felt like an advertisement for the books. Coupled with the brevity of Evanovich’s response to many of the questions, the entire package feels like she is simply cashing in on the questions of her readers.

Sadly, much of the information provided can be found elsewhere on the internet, albeit without her dry wit and a bit of background about the Stephanie Plum series characters.

All that being said, new or inexperienced writers may find much of the information useful. For them, Evanovich’s book could be a good starting point.

My rating:
Chewed Pencil
One Chewed Pencil
Saturday, September 25th, 2010

A Review: The Red Badge of Courage by Stephen Crane

I read Crane’s The Red Badge of Courage for my Fill in the Blanks project. (The project: in a nutshell, a bunch of us reader/writer types have committed to reading 100 classics (in 5 years) that we feel we should have read either in high school or college.

I copied someone else’s list to start myself off with and have been slipping books on and off the list as I’ve re-discovered them. My list has been fairly set in stone for the last year or so (until now: this book wasn’t on my original list.)

Visit the Fill in the Blanks blog to see lots of reviews by everyone on the project. Join if you’re so inclined. )

My review:

The story is about Henry Fleming, a recent recruit to the Union army during the Civil War. As his regiment waits to see warfare, he becomes increasingly obsessed with whether or not he has the courage to stand his ground. He doesn’t know if he’ll run.

As it turns out, when he first encounters a battle, he’s so surrounded by fellow solders and confronted by the enemy that he can do nothing but fight. The second time her faces battle, however, he flees. He convinces himself that he was right to save himself.

He later makes it back to his regiment and fights bravely. He’s deeply ashamed of his earlier behavior, but by the end of the book manages to make peace with himself.

For a classic, the book was pleasantly shorter than I thought it was going to be. Still, I was sometimes annoyed by all of Henry’s self pity and castigation. But if not for all that, I wouldn’t have gotten such a deep understanding of Henry’s feelings.

And, I’m glad to finally know that a “red badge” of courage is a wound received in battle, according to Henry.

Overall, it was a good read, with good characterization and excellent descriptions of battle, the poverty of war, and death.

Friday, July 30th, 2010

Review Posted, Review Received

I’m back from vacation and already back into the swing of things. (sigh)

I love being at the beach, and I’m already missing it. To me, there’s nothing grander than sitting on the porch overlooking the ocean and hearing the waves roar and crash. It’s a nice background to writing.

While I was gone, my review of Stays Crunchy in Milk by Adam P. Knave was posted over at SF Reader Reviews. I loved the idea of this cereal box story, chock-full of 1980’s pop-culture references, and looked forward to reading it. But the execution fell flat for me. A child of the 80s who spent the majority of his existence in front of the TV or playing popular video games may enjoy it.

— and —

I posted a short time ago that Anna Marie Catoir mentioned on her blog (Anna Marie’s Corner) that Blood Soup was on her wish list. Since reading and reviewing is what Anna Marie does, I had no problem sending her a review copy.

And guess what? She loved it.

Anna Marie’s review begins with a quote from Blood Soup:

“…he found the literature could sometimes take his mind off the pain.”

She writes:

“Now there is a true statement. You can always find them in good fiction.

This was a short novella of my favorite sort. I couldn’t see the conclusion from the opening, there was recompense paid at that end, and just enough open-endedness to let the imagination fly.

This novella covers a lot a time, but never feels fractured or too compressed. It also feels like it belongs to a different time. I don’t mean it’s the historical setting. Harmon’s story feels like it belongs to the myth and legend class of stories or maybe just a scary tale told in the dark. I loved its dramatic feel (in the theatrical sense).”
What a great feeling! Not only did she rate Blood Soup 4 out of 5 but she called it “good fiction.”

Read the complete review here.

What a way to make my day. Thanks, Anna Marie!

Friday, July 9th, 2010

I’m Wanted! And Other Bits of Newsy News

Uncle Sam - I Want You PosterOh, boy!

I was tickled to wander over to Anna Marie Catoir’s blog and find myself “wanted!”

After reading the review for Blood Soup over at Kay’s Dead Book Darling blog, Anna Marie wanted to read it, too.

Wow! That kind of stuff just makes my day.

(Kay gave Blood Soup a “Great!” rating, by the way. You should check it out.)

But before you wander off to Kay’s blog to read the review, check out the masks Anna Marie makes and showcases on her blog. They’re fabulous. My favorites are the The Brown Man and Blue Lips.

In other newsy news, I sold my story Sky Lit Bargains, to the Drollerie Press anthology, Hellbore and Rue.

Saturday, June 26th, 2010

Mentioned by Night Owl Reviews – 4.25 Stars!

Bad Ass Fairies 3: In All Their Glory Book CoverThe Bad Ass Fairies Volume 3: In All Their Glory received a 4.25 star review from Night Owl Reviews!

Of the 21 stories in the anthology, two were singled out for attention: John L. French’s and mine! Here’s that nugget, along with a mention for editor Danielle Ackley-McPhail:

Particularly enjoyable were the John L. French tale that alternates between worlds yet explores the horrors of the drug trade upon two disparate cultures, the Kelly Harmon tale that explores another use for the selkie fur and the editor’s exploration of the Wild Hunt.

Read the entire review here.

Thursday, April 1st, 2010

A 5-Star Review for The Dragon’s Clause!

I’m not joking.

Once again, I’m walking on air!

(This follows very closely on the heels of the 5-star review I received on Amazon for my novella, Blood Soup. I’m very  excited.)

Cover of The Dragon's Clause by Kelly A. Harmon This is the story of a man who violates the terms of a contract, and the “party of the second part” decides to execute the enforcement clause. Only this time, the contract has been in place for hundreds of years, and is between a town and a dragon.

The terms—pay the dragon annual tribute, and he doesn’t destroy the town—are quite simple. Not the sort of agreement you’d want to break, even for a good cause.

A lesser author would have given readers a simple revenge tale, with the moral being, “keep your word.” But Kelly A. Harmon gives her readers much more. Her characters—both human and dragon—are complex and subtle, with nobilities and strengths that might just outweigh their instincts and weaknesses.

Perhaps The Dragon’s Clause should be required reading for all lawyers…and for you!

You can check out the review on Amazon, if you want. While you’re there, check out my Amazon author page.


Note: The Dragon’s Clause was originally published in the Ricasso Press anthology, Black Dragon, White Dragon.

Saturday, March 27th, 2010

Some Folks Love a Hot Steaming Bowl of Blood Soup…

All I can say is, “Wow!” I received this fantastic review of Blood Soup, posted by S.R. Southard at Amazon:

In “Blood Soup,” Kelly Harmon ladles out a story of a fantasy kingdom beginning at the moment of a fateful decision. That decision, warned about in a prophesy, carries consequences that ripple across decades in an inevitable and destructive chain of cause and effect. The characters are complex, vivid, and compelling, with motives both understandable and entangling. The aroma of “Blood Soup” carries the tang of universal themes such as wise and unwise leadership, the long-term effects of bad decisions, birth, death, and the wisdom that comes with reflection in old age. Kelly Harmon writes with a flowing style that draws you right in to her swirling mix. Read it at a bus stop and you’ll miss three buses before you even look up. It’s hot. It’s tasty. Take one spoonful of “Blood Soup” and you’ll finish the bowl!