Tuesday, November 03, 2009

Temptation Tuesday - Stationery

Today our columnist Annie West explores a widespread but little discussed temptation - stationery!

It doesn’t sound as sexy as a Male on Monday, does it? And when we talk about temptations most of us think of the usual indulgences: a tropical island retreat, a candlelight dinner, new shoes, a sleep in (!), luscious chocolate truffles, a day in retail therapy, a week alone with our TBR pile… Yet, among the many romance readers and writers I know a surprisingly large number have a weakness for stationery.

Whether it’s funky designs and brightly patterned sticky notes, pads with cute messages, elegant pens or the sort of thick, creamy velvet paper that makes you long to write something wonderful, stationery is a hugely popular item.

Maybe it’s to do with our love of books. Though e-reading is increasing in popularity a lot of readers still say they love the feel and smell of a book in their hands, the physical sensation of curling up with that story. From an early age we fell for words on paper. In a similar way I think many of us who love the written word are drawn to the gorgeous array of stationery items that we can’t do without.

Go on, put your hand up if you’ve succumbed to the lure of the glitter gel pen (just for special messages), the multi-coloured post it notes or kaleidoscope tinted paper clips. Do you drool over embossed stationery and envelopes with decorative rice paper lining? Do you run your hands possessively over soft as butter leather journals, or the ones made to look like a vintage traveller’s diary from Paris and Rome?

Do you have a soft spot for the old Florentine design or Mickey Mouse note paper or even custom designed stationery of your own? Personalised address stickers? Notice boards with fancy pins? Fun diaries? Novelty design erasers? Hand made paper or pens that glide across the page for those days when the words flow so fast you can barely get them down (I wish!).

For the really serious, how about calligraphy sets or sealing wax and a personalised seal? The smell of sealing wax seems to make writing and sending letters somehow more significant.

Have you ever used a (modern) quill pen? Late last year I spent a night in a castle looking across vineyards to the river below (yes, I know how disgustingly luck I was). At the desk in the window nook was some gorgeous linen-finish paper, embossed with a scene of the castle, and a ‘quill’ pen (no ink well required, this was an up market biro). I used all the stationery in the desk! I sat and sipped sherry and wrote letters and felt very special indeed. Why not share my adventures with friends who’d love the holiday update and also get a kick out of the castle stationery? And they did – without fail.
Getting letters and parcels in the mail is such a thrill (except for window envelopes with bills inside). Sending out letters on great stationery is something that makes me feel good too, as I know others like the treat of a hand written message, plus it’s an excuse to indulge a taste for nice paper and cards.

How about you? Does stationery tempt you? Do you linger over the stationery supplies even though you don’t need anything, just in case you see something you just have to have? What’s your favourite piece of office paraphernalia or stationery?

To stimulate discussion, Annie is offering a choice of backlist book to one person who leaves a comment.

This month Annie is celebrating the almost release of her next US release. BLACKMAILED BRIDE, INEXPERIENCED WIFE goes on sale in December.
It was written straight onto computer, but plot points and queries were scrawled in a large purple spiral notebook Annie keeps on her desk and her fluoro post it notes were invaluable to mark passages as she revised that book.
If you want to find out more about this story (with Annie's first sexy Sicilian hero) visit her website for details or better yet, just order the book!


  1. Gasp! Forget hunky heroes--this post is making me drool! I LOVE stationery! I buy a pen a week, even if I don't need one. I have the vintage traveller's diary from Paris, too. And the wax stamp set and rice paper cards... Oh, I should open up a stationery store, but I won't 'cause I want to keep it all for myself!

    Fabulous post, Annie! Pardon me for babbling about my favourite subject.

    P.S I heart Smiggle.

  2. Snap! I adore those vintage traveller's diaries, Vanessa. I was in Paris in December (wow, that sounds so good) and had to be dragged from two shops directly across from each other in this tiny street. They sold the most exquisite (and exquisitely expensive) stationery.

    I know what you mean about wanting a stationery store, but like you I'd try to keep it all to myself.

    Vanessa, try a quill pen, they really do make you feel you're writing fantastic prose!


  3. Oh, yes, YES, YESSSSS! I too am victim to stationery p*rn!!! Honestly, I break out in goosebumps of joy if you take me to an officeworks. And if you're talking about one of those classy shops where they sell Florentine paper or Crane & Co, oh, bliss. In fact, Crane & Co are so good, they should be banned. My only regret is that my writing is such an awful scrawl. You should have beautiful copperplate when you write on something that gorgeous. I love stationery. I give stationery to all my friends. As said friends will attest. I love to get stationery - hint, hint, said friends! OOOOOOH, what a gorgeous post, Annie!

  4. Actually meant to say I always spend ages choosing a travel diary when I go overseas. I don't usually keep a diary but I do when I travel. After various trials and errors, I've decided my favorite is the Moleskine journal. It's just lovely. Beautiful silky paper. Lovely off-white colour. Little pockets for hiding things in it. I've got a hawk's feather from Mull in one of my travel diaries and it always feels like such a special treasure when I touch it. Sigh. I love stationery!

  5. I must confess to being a stationery/pen/notepad/to-do lists addict.

    I love it all. I love the notepads or to do list pads with one's name on them or even the inital of the last name.


  6. I too am a stationery/pen/post it note/notepad addict. I can spend hours just walking through an office supply store looking and picking up a few things.

    Gel pens though are my weakness. Love them :) Esp the beautiful metallic ones.

  7. My name is Serena and I'm a stationery-a-holic :) Who can resist the lure of pretty pens and papers? The multi-coloured paper clips and different shaped clips? I am really blessas I have a couple of girlfriends who are like me and they also like to give stationery as gifts! So when asked for the last conference to have five different colours of high, I opened my top drawer and laughed. If anyone needs a stamp (I went through that craze too) I usually have one. And now I must look and see where I left my wax monogram stamp set...


  8. Waaaahhh, Annie!
    (sigh) okay, I confess, I'm a stationery-aholic.
    Opening my top drawer and peeking in quickly...
    -- 10 different colours of paperclips, including some very zany striped jobs
    -- every available size of fold-back clips - including a gorgeous red one
    --a packet of heart-shaped paper fasteners... what can I say - they're cute. And red... oh, all right, yes, that's a packet of gold ones too!
    -- pencils, highlighters, pens... I'm especially proud of the one shaped like a femur (an absolute MUST for a medical writer, don't you think!)
    -- post-its of all sizes and colours and shapes
    -- concertina files, books, diaries, plastic sleeves, spiral bindings....

    (sigh) I need a nice cup of tea now and perhaps I can start a list for my next visit to Officeworks...

    This has been fun! We must talk stationery again soon!

  9. Laughing at all you stationery addicts! I think Annie thought she was saying something people might disagree with when she started to extol the virtues of paper and pens and paper clips (ooh, colored paper clips, can you have so much fun for so little money anywhere else?).

  10. Anna, I'm so glad to have made your day. Who'd have ever guessed you're a stationery junkie (G)! Crane and co make lovely stuff don't they? But I've seem some to rival it, believe me. Said stationery stores in Paris. And there's a newish shop in the Blue Mountains I discovered recently that is just woooonderful. Paper from all around the world.

    As for copperplate, I have an elderly uncle who writes perfect copperplate - no exaggeration. I keep all the envelopes he sends. Sadly it's my aunt who writes most of the letters and her writing is a scrawl, like mine.

  11. Anna, I know those journals. Aren't they fantastic? The quality of the paper is just right. Sigh.

  12. Hi Robyn, lovely to see you here. I'd forgotten 'to do' lists. Glad you reminded me. Another thing to spend money on, aren't they?

    I've got some notepads I've ordered for promo with a lovely design and my url but I tell you it goes against the grain not to keep one for myself! One day...

  13. Oh Lis, I love the metallic pens too. I started using them for special cards and now that I have books to sign I find I MUST have them to inscribe give aways. And of course I need more than one colour. Glad to find another fan out there.

  14. Serena, your store of stationery sounds fabulous. Can I come and visit? Aren't the wax stamp sets tremendous?

    I'm reading these posts and trying very hard not to go and rifle through my own stationery supplies. I have a book to be finishing. But somehow the lure of the computer isn't as enticing as the feel of fine paper...

  15. Sharon, a femur pen? What self respecting medical author would be without one? Sounds just gorgeous. I'll have to look out for your heart shaped paper fasteners and, I confess, I'm currently looking at a small (beautifully painted) bowl full of ordinary paper clips. When these are used I'm buying some exotic ones - maybe stripes.

    And then there are stickers too. That's a whole other story but so nice.

    Sharon, maybe I could catch a ride with you to Officeworks?

  16. Actually, Anna, I've been fascinated by the number of book lovers I know who are stationery fans. I wonder if the two go hand in hand?

  17. I love stationery in all it's many forms too, except mine all have to be green, or Labradors. I will allow stationery that is another colour if it has Labradors on it, but otherwise it's green pens,paper, paper clips, staplers etc at our house!!! I always sign in green too!!
    Stationery lovers of the world unite!!!!

  18. Yay, 2paw! Is it hard to get labrador stationery? Green wouldn't be so hard, but a specific breed of dog? Hm. Maybe you buy up big when you see it?

    I had some lovely reader mail a while ago from someone who had terrific Mickey Mouse stationery and I've been looking out for some ever since.

  19. Ah, my daughter asked me to mention something special she just received. A rather flash notepad in the shape of a handbag, complete with beading and tassle! Doting grandmother - don't you love them?

  20. I too am a stationery-a-holic. We have Staples and Office Depot in my Canadian city. Both have clearance sections, where I head no matter what the reason for being in the store.

    These days I frequent dollar stores, though, as it is MUCH cheaper to buy some of those items, plus they tend to have a better selection these days.

    My "downfall" is stickers. I have been converting our magnetic photo albums over to acid-free scrapbooks, so I use lots of stickers. I also make cards for birthdays, anniversaries, Christmas, etc., so I tend to use lots of stickers there too. I have clear containers to hold all my supplies, all labeled accordingly. If I find some sort of paper in the clearance section, my first thought is, "How can I use this in my cards or albums?" and usually I can find a way.

    My sister recently turned 65, so I bought her over a dozen "little things" with meaning. I wrapped them all in comics (which she said she'd read with pleasure), and then I placed Post-It notes on each, complete with poems. Each poem was a riddle that aluded to what was inside the package. My sister and her husband had tons of fun trying to guess what I'd wrapped inside, based on those poems. I made one of those homemade cards with probably ten stanzas of verses. I didn't spend a lot of money (except for postage, as she lives 2000+ miles away), but I gave each gift a lot of thought. It was the "stationery" that she'll remember though, as I used various Post-It notes for the poems, and she loved the stickers, etc. in the homemade card. It was the whole package.

  21. Laney, how lovely. Your intricate and thoughtful gift for your sister sounds like a lot of fun - for both of you! Wrapping presents in something special is always great. We used to wrap grandparents' presents in artwork fingerpainted by the children. That was always a hit.

    I've had the same experience as you - finding some terrific stationery in the dollar shops. There's so much variety.

    A friend of mine collects stickers but she never uses them. Personally I like to use what I have, and just keep a few special ones back just in case!

  22. What a delicious post, Annie. I wonder if readers (and writers) are addicted to the tactile sensuality of paper (or if stationery is just darn good fun!)

    Pens are my major weakness -- I feel wrong if I don't have one nearby or at least five in my handbag. Come to think of it, I could say the same about notebooks. Speaking of which... I received a really beautiful silk bound one for my birthday this year. I love to look at it, but I'm yet to use it. It seems too beautiful for my untidy scrawl. I'm saving it for a special occasion.

  23. Michelle, use your silk bound notebook for your next story! That would be a real treat. You'd enjoy the writing so much more.

    I think you're absolutely right when you talk about 'tactile sensuality'. Have you ever noticed women in fabric shops and stationery stores? Touching is what it's all about.

    I hope you get enormous enjoyment from your new notebook!


  24. Oh yes, yes and yes! I'm a pen junkie! I just can't help myself! Even when I'm signing my credit card slips I can't fail to notice then pen they've provided! LOL! Does that make me crazy?

    My husband certainly thinks so because my fetish has now moved into the Montblanc category! There's just nothing that compares to the feel of a Montblanc ink pen! Sigh, I'm in pen heaven!

  25. Amanda, you leave me breathless. Montblanc aspirations! I recall someone I used to work with who had the most gorgeous pen. Just watching him unscrew it and slash his signature across an important document was like a flourish! I always wanted a pen like his.

    No, I don't think you're crazy at all!

  26. Annie, I'll give the quill a go!

    Have I mentioned the beautiful pink notepads you gave me are a hit in my house? They're encased in a hot-pink box with a fluffy feather on top. My cat adores it, too.

  27. Elizabeth Rosa has shops in Leura and Double Bay. http://www.elizabethrosa.com/stationery.htm

    I go into the one in Leura and drool.

    And I love the Circa notebooks from the Levenger shops. I want to one in Chicago and bought up big http://is.gd/4LOoL

  28. Ooohh! I just love this post and all the replies :)

    I too love stationery esp pretty notebooks - I have heaps. I keep a couple next to my bed for note/ reminders, another in the kitchen for shopping lists etc...

    I used 2 gorgeous notebooks to record my sons' development from birth to now and I reckon they're gonna flip when they're older and see the feminine books I used (instead of more masculine ones) - LOL, I couldnt help it, I just loved those pretty pink pages, funky beadings and trendy artwork *blush*

    Thanks Annie for a great post :)

  29. Annie

    I have my hand up as well I love stationary especially pens at work I go to the store room and always take the bright coloured post it notes and am always asking them to order in really nice pens for me and I could spend hours browsing the beautiful writing paper in the shops. When I was a teenager and I wrote a lot of letteres (the days before email) I had some beautiful writing sets and I still have a few around now even though with email I hardly ever use them sad.

    Great post
    Have Fun

  30. Authorness,

    Yes, do give the quill pen a go. I've got a photo on my website (latest news page in January of this year) of me sitting at a desk in a castle after writing reams of letters with a quill pen. You can tell by the smile on my face that I'm having a great time.

    Glad the notepad is a hit with the cats!

  31. ooh, Keziah, 'tools for serious readers' sounds great! Thanks. I didn't know about this site. Yes, the shop in Leura is the one I've been to a couple of times. Definitely drool worthy. There's also a terrific shop called, I think, Il Papiro - one in central Melbourne and one in Potts Point, Sydney, and no doubt others elsewhere with some gorgeous Italian paper. Definitely worth checking out!

  32. Hi Joanne,

    I'm glad you're enjoying this chat. Me too! I love the sound of your books about your boys. That reminds me that I did something similar for my children. One was a lovely hardcover book and the other had a picture of I think Queen Victoria and a pram on the cover. Could that be right? I must check it.

    I bet you enjoy bringing out your girly notebooks for your boys!


  33. Helen,

    Maybe you'll get the urge to write a letter on some of that nice notepaper you've got left? My daughter writes letters to friends. I think they all love getting mail in the letterbox. So much more exciting than email, and such pretty paper.

    I can relate to you snaffling the nicely coloured paper and looking for good pens. It's nice to work with nice things, don't you think?


  34. Oh, I adore stationery! When I was a student, I arranged all my notes in coloured binders to make a rainbow (I couldn'r believe how lucky I was to find orange and pink binders). I keep buying notebooks and colourted pens, even today - I really must come up with some Great Thoughts to write in them!

  35. I love stationery and have probably the biggest collection of multi coloured post it notes in the world - great for plotting and planning. Also love pens - loving the pens you posted in your blog, definitely want some of them! Finally hardback a4 notepads for writing in, but they've got to look PRETTY!

  36. Alison, I love the rainbow idea. Sounds terrific. I saw lime green and hot pink binders the other day - gorgeous. So much nicer than plain black!

  37. Susan, coloured post it notes are terrific. I've just acquired a pad of them in 3 shades of pink (shaped like a heart). But I love having different colours for variety.

    I love the collection of pens I've got from various writers' conferences too. I use them and remember the wonderful time I had.

  38. Hi, my name is Lynz and I'm a stationery-aholic. And I'm so glad to know I'm not alone!

    I started young. I remember going to my grandparents' farm when I was about five and looking forward to getting to use the special paper there. It was higher quality than the stuff we used at home, and the ink just flowed so smoothly across it... *sigh*

    The years between those first experiences and the present day have passed in a blur of pens (especially a kind Zebra no longer makes, but oh how I hoarded mine), pencils (0.5 mm #2 mechanical by Bic for jotting, 0.7 mm patterned #2 mechanical by papermate for nice cursive), paperclips (multicoloured, of course), post-its (especially in odd sizes), binder clips (the best are my zebra-print ones, though the plaid-patterned ones are also lovely), journals (old-fashioned ones with creamy pages), notepads (fun designs and shapes, like my t-shirt ones), and postcards and cards with matching envelopes and dayplanners and letter-writing paper!

    But I really knew I was in trouble when I bought eleven Paperblanks journals at Chapters one day. They were on sale, you see! 75% off! So I bought every one in the clearance section! They were all mine! (And they even fit in my purse!)

    So yes, I have a problem. I am an addict. And I'm obviously not alone. But you know what? I don't want to change. I don't want to get better or get over it or move on. I love stationery, I always will, and I'm proud of it, even if it does mean that I turn into a raging beast if you try to steal my notebook! Okay, I'm not so proud of the raging beast part, but if you tried to steal my notebook, you had it coming.

  39. Hi, Annie :-)! Yes, I'm a fellow stationery addict. I've always loved paper--notecards, wrapping paper, origami squares. I love different weights, textures, designs...mmmmm. And all the accessories--pens, sealing wax, stamps, stickers...

    My latest craving is the Vera Bradley (online) stationery goodies--such fun, bright colors!

  40. i do like pens alot
    congrats on teh book
    hot cover

  41. Hi Lynz,

    It's great to hear a woman proud of her addiction (G)! You sound like a woman who takes her stationery seriously. Isn't it a good feeling when you find just the right item? The one that fits your purse or makes the ink flow better or is perfect in some other way? But if ever I meet you at a stale I'll keep an eye out for that raging beast!

  42. Ooh, Terry, I'd forgotten to mention wrapping paper. Now that is a truly dangerous area. That probably deserves a blog on its own! I don't know the Vera Bradley stationery. Thanks for the tip. I'll be on the look out...!

  43. Hi KH,

    Another woman fond of pens? That makes a few of us so we're all in good company.

    Thanks for the congratulations on the book. It looks even better in the flesh - I can say that because I got my author copies yesterday, at the same time it goes on sale on line at eHarlequin. I got distracted stroking it when I should have been working on my next book.

  44. Actually, it's your neighbourhood stationery pusher here. Shhh! The cops are watching!

    I bought the most magnificent stationery at the National Gallery in Washington. Absolutely glorious notebooks and card sets. Honestly, I spent much more time in the gift shop than looking at the paintings - and I spent a LOT of time looking at the paintings.

    Just in case any of you are plotting a trip to DC in the near future...

  45. Ooh, and the Met sells great stationery too!

  46. Anna, I think a lot of museums have terrific stationery. Actually, my fave is a huge pad of smooth, delicate paper I bought years ago in a dusty looking shop in Alexandria, Egypt. Inside the place was a treasure house of wonderful things. This pad has exquisite line drawings of designs taken from old inscriptions and tomb paintings. I used it and used it till I was down to the last set of pictures and there I stopped!

    Thanks for the tip about the National Gallery. If ever I'm there I'll check it out!

  47. "My name is Caroline and I'm addicted to stationery". I'm late in posting a comment - but from the comments abouve it seems that I'm not the only one who has an addiction. To date in my desk - both here and at work - I must have upward of over 150 pens and pencils; about 20 - 25 A4/A5 pads, and as for post-its don't even go there. I love the stuff. I like to look for anything unusual - I find German writing paper great (see how sad I am!) and stock up on pads of paper whenever they appear in Aldi's and Lidl's. I still have my original Filo-Fax from the 1980's and I think it was all the different bits that you could put the Filo-Faz that started my obsession with stationery! Better than Male on Monday? Umm. Not really - but boy oh boy a close second! Take care, Caroline x

  48. Hi Caroline,

    I see I must look out for German writing paper. That's something I've never investigated. You know, I've never counted the number of pens in my house, possibly because they keep disappearing. I wonder if that means other here have the same addiction!

  49. Hi everyone,

    I have to dash out the door for now so thought I'd better announce a winner. There are so many terrific comments and I've had such a lovely time, sharing my weakness for stationery, that choosing was impossible. I've had to resort to the random draw, and because of the level of enthusiasm here on the blog, I've drawn two winners. They are:


    If you email me at annie@annie-west.com and tell me which of my backlist books you'd like that would be great.


  50. I think Michelle Styles once did a post on moleskin notebooks that sent me straight to the store!

    I have an oragami square addiction...I write notes to the kids on them, fold them up into a bird or what have you, and stick them in their lunch.

    And pens. When I find pens I like I'll buy them by the dozen. And then continue to write with a 'lucky' Jane Porter freebie that only still has ink in it by sheer magic!

  51. Annie you are speaking to me on a deep, primeval level of shared addiction. I love stationery stores, both the upmarket and the basic.
    Heck, I even browse the stationery departments at supermarkets in case I spot a treasure!
    My daughter has inherited the compulsion - it takes us forever to buy her school supplies...
    At the Romance Writers of America convention I make sure I get a pen from everyone who has left one in the goody room and use them all year round.

  52. Jenna, what a great idea about writing on origami squares. Brilliant! Now I'll have to learn to fold them artfully!

  53. Ah, Kandy, I knew we'd be as one on this! I'd love to go shopping with you for stationery. You'll understand when I explain I recently went shopping for my son's new school supplies and was so disappointed when he told me he had virtually everything he needed and I kept saying 'but what about...?' trying to tempt him with new stuff. Boys!

    I love using romance writers' pens too!