Noodler’s Ink – A Review of Black Swan in Australian Roses

Thanks to the iPen subscription box, I’ve recently become fascinated by fountain pens. I never thought they were a very practical option as opposed to a good old ballpoint, and they’re not when the pen in question is being carried around in the bottom of your purse for months on end. But as a desk pen, and one that is used to create magnificent plots and deep characters, I’ve found they’re excellent.

But of course a fountain pen requires ink, and I recently went shopping for some online. While there are many factors to consider (including how waterproof they are) I was mostly concerned with color and price.  (Enthusiasts are gasping right now. )

On my starving artist budget, I decided to try Noodler’s Ink. It’s pretty cheap ($12.50 for a 3 ounce bottle) and comes in tons of colors.

Passing up Heart of Darkness, Bad Belted Kingfisher,  and Dragon’s Napalm (yes, those are actual color names and they’re awesome!) I settled for Black Swan in Australian Roses.

First, I was delighted with the artwork on the box and the bottle. This doesn’t have anything to do with the quality of the ink itself, but it was definitely entertaining! Also,  a 3 ounce bottle is pretty sizable. That’s a lot of ink!

I just love the color of this ink! The name is quite appropriate, as it comes out as a blend of almost-black and a deep wine.

This paper is not made specifically for fountain pens, but it’s a nice smooth paper that works well regardless. Writing on paper that is more textured and absorbent doesn’t create an effect quite as pleasant, since the ink really soaks in.

Black Swan in Australian Roses has been such a pleasure to write with that I’ve already had to refill my pen. Fortunately, I know I’ll be able to do that many times over!

The one downside I’ve noticed is that the ink is rather strong smelling. It’s an odor that reminds me of rubbing alcohol mixed with paint. I’m only really aware of it when I’m doing a lengthy bit of writing and I’m right over the page. I don’t mind the smell, but I think it’s worth mentioning since I haven’t noticed this with other inks.

Overall, I highly recommend this ink. Your results may be different depending on your pen, nib, and paper, but for creative writing by hand it’s lovely.

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The Elusive CV – How to Get Credits on Your Writing Resume

When I wanted to get into writing professionally, it was instantly obvious that I had nothing to show to any potential publishers or clients.  Like most people who had found writing to be their passion, I had spent much of my life writing but had very little to show for it.  Nobody was going to care that my poetry had made it into a high school magazine back in the day or that I had filled quite a few notebooks with rhymes and short stories.

I read quite a few books on the subject, but I didn’t find a whole lot that helped.  I plunged in headfirst and did the best I could, and I managed to start building up a pretty decent CV.  There are still many more things I want to add to it, but considering that my freelancing business currently keeps me glued to my desk, I would say it’s doing the job.

Make a Portfolio:  Even if you don’t have any credits, you can still show off your writing skills.  Put together a portfolio that represents your best pieces in all genres you have worked in.  This gives a potential client or publisher an example of your abilities even if nobody else has given you a chance before.

Start Local:  Local businesses often need a little bit of help with brochure copy, web content, or blog material.  Call them up, ask for the office manager, and tell them what you can do.  It’s a great opportunity to get a little bit of experience under your belt, as well as a reference to throw on your resume.

Use Your Connections:  Do you know someone who runs their own business?  Have you noticed that your buddy’s website is consistently filled with typos?  Offer your services!  You can work out payments or maybe barter for their services, or even just do some work for free in exchange for using them on your resume.  (Please, please don’t ask your friend if you can use him as a reference without doing any work.  I know people lie on resumes all the time, but that doesn’t make it right.)

Freelancing Websites:  The first time I tried eLance (now Upwork), I was completely discouraged.  It seemed impossible to land jobs, and most of the listings I saw offered very little money.  I gave up and didn’t think about it for a few years.  When I came back, I had more motivation since I had quit my job and gone back to school.  I started out with several jobs that paid literally next to nothing ($5 or $10).  Don’t overlook these opportunities, because they show up on your job history on your profile.  They prove that someone gave you a shot and that you did well!  Soon enough, I was landing much bigger jobs and finding plenty of work.  Many people put down these websites, claiming that they are a complete ripoff for freelancers.  I have acquired several jobs that paid $1,000 and up, so I tend to disagree.

Start-Up Magazines:  If you’re looking for some publishing credits, start submitting to smaller, start-up literary magazines.  These are usually based online, require no reading fee, and have less competition for publication.  While they might not hold as much weight as some of the larger mags, they’re a great place to start.

Get Outside Your Comfort Zone:  Just because you have never done something before doesn’t mean you can’t.  When I got my first offer for a ghostwriting gig, I was terrified.  I had never done anything like that before, and now I had committed to writing an entire book!  I dove in and did the best I could.  My client was very happy with the work, and ghostwriting is now the vast majority of my freelance work.  If someone offers you a job, go for it!

Take every opportunity you can to build up your resume.  It’s going to take some time and lots of calling and emailing and submitting, but it will happen.

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A Fountain of Inspiration

When I was in middle school, I dreamed of writing an amazing fantasy novel.  It had everything:  teenagers on the verge of discovering something new, dragons, and even a secret society complete with hooded robes. But when I sat down in front of the computer to write it, I never even got through the first chapter.

Twenty years later, I finally know what the problem was.  I was typing it instead of writing it.

Don’t get me wrong.  Typing is the most efficient way of doing things.  As a freelance writer, I type anywhere from 5-10,000 words per day.  I could never do that by hand.

But the inspiration for all those keyboard clicks comes from writing by hand.  When I need a new plot or character details and I sit down with a notebook, I tap into something that is completely inaccessible when I’m on the computer.  I’ve read articles before about how the process of writing by hand works well because your brain has time to keep up with your fingers.  Maybe that’s it, or maybe it’s some sort of magic voodoo that can only be cast by the spilling of ink.  I don’t know, but it works.

Of course, this all means that I am a total sucker for a good pen and a nice notebook.  Since I’m ridiculously cheap and living on an artist’s budget anyway, I settle for decent pens.  The truly nice ones are only the ones that are given to me for birthday or Christmas presents.  I like a pen that feels good in the hand and flows well, so that’s pretty much either ball point or gel.

All of that changed when I got my first iPen subscription box.  Each box includes a fountain pen (and a lot of other cool stuff, too).  While I was crazy excited to get this box, the fountain pen was the part I was seriously doubting.  Who writes with a fountain pen?  It can’t flow as nicely as a gel pen or a smoothly as a ball point, and the results are going to be impossible to read since I’m not a calligrapher.

I’m still not a calligrapher, but I was so wrong about the fountain pen.  The Wing Sung Demonstrator that came in my box doesn’t look like much, but it writes like a dream!  I had other typey-typey work I should have been doing, but instead I messed around with learning how to fill this pen so I could use it for some character creation.

The Demonstrator came with a very fine nib (that’s the pointy part where the ink comes out) and it is so amazing!  The ink flows freely and evenly, without any big splotches to make it look like some historical document.  The case of the pen is just plastic, but it’s molded nicely at the grip.  I had never filled a fountain pen before, so it took a few minutes and I got a little ink on my hands, but I’m in love.

 

*This post was in no way sponsored or endorsed by the iPenStore.

If you enjoyed yourself while you were here, make sure you come find me on Facebook or Twitter, or check out my books on Amazon!

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The iPen Subscription Box – March 2017

I finally decided it was time to jump on the subscription box train.  I love getting things in the mail, and I was jealous of the boxes my husband gets.

After looking around for a bit, I settled on the iPen subscription box.  There were a few unboxing videos on YouTube that made it look promising, so I went for it.

I waited like a little kid looking for a birthday card, and I was so excited when it finally came!  (So was Porkchop.)

Overall, I was pretty pleased.  I love to write by hand, and this box certainly caters to that!  The fountain pen is amazing, and the Rhodia notebook is incredibly soft.  I will use everything in this box, and some of it I already have.  (It came with a little packet of gummy bears, and those mysteriously vanished about five minutes later.)

March iPenStore Box: Wing Sung Fountain Pen by Hero, Rhodia notebook, Rosetta Notes Blotting Card, e+m Copper Pencil, Mobius + Ruppert Little Quattro Swing Pencil Sharpener, Schneider Haptify Viscoglide Pen plus refill, Lamy ink sample (not pictured)

If you are a writer, or if you just enjoy the art of writing by hand, I highly recommend this box!  It ships for $30 including shipping in the U.S. and $40 everywhere else.

 

*This post was in no way endorsed by the iPen Store.  If you enjoyed it, though, feel free to swing on over to my available books on Amazon or find me on Facebook.

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I’m not Just Pale, I’m a Ghostwriter

At one point, I never thought ghostwriting would be part of my freelancing repertoire.  My first ghosting gig was one of those oh-crap-I-need-a-job moments.  We all get there in the freelancing business every now and then.  I had never done this type of assignment before, but the client and I really hit it off.  It was time to fake it until I made it.  It was the biggest job I had ever taken on at that point, and it only led to more after that.

When I tell non-writers that I ghostwrite, they’re usually a little confused.  It’s not the kind of thing you hear every day, and people often want to know more.

If I was an actual ghost, would my desk be this clean?

What do people do with the stories you write for them?

I don’t know most of the time, and I honestly don’t care.  I’m only paid to write, not to worry about how it’s marketed or if it makes any money.  If the story does nothing but sit on their hard drive and rot, then that’s the client’s business.

I will say that I recently stumbled upon some of the stories I had written for someone else.  I was looking for books in the same genre (which I won’t mention in order to protect my client) and just happened to find it.  The stories were being well-marketed with excellent covers, and they had tons of five-star reviews.  There is no greater inspiration than a compliment, even if the reader doesn’t know who they’re complimenting.

But you don’t get any credit for it. 

This is one that my daughter brings up on a pretty consistent basis.  It does seem silly to put a lot of effort into a story just to have someone else slap their name on it.  But I do get credit for it in that I have credit with my client.  Most of them come back to me time and time again because they know I can give them what they want.

I’m obligated to do at least a little bit of haunting, right?

So why do you do it?

  1.  I get paid.  Let’s just be honest about that right up front.  Sure, there are lots of writers out there who want to say that getting paid means you’ve sold out.  I say it means you’re smart.  The money I make from ghostwriting means that I have the time and funds to put together my own stories.  I also get to do things like buy groceries, clothe my children, and feed my new fountain pen addiction.
  2. I enjoy it.  Who wouldn’t want to do a job that they enjoy?  Yes, I sometimes have a job that doesn’t thrill me or that isn’t the most fun, but I still get to sit at home in my pj’s with my dog next to me.  You don’t get that at a 9 to 5 job.
  3. It’s great practice.  Even though I write for others, I do write for myself as well.  The genres I have ghostwritten in include science fiction, mystery, western, and modern fiction.  The stories are anywhere from 10,000 to over 60,000 words.  Even if I’m not writing a piece that is necessarily up my alley, it hones my writing skills and expands my horizons.

Ghostwriting may have come to me as a surprise, but it’s also been a pleasant one.

 

If you enjoyed this post, please come find me on Facebook or check out my (non-ghostwritten) books on Amazon!

 

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How Not to Waste Your Vote This Election

There’s so much political stuff all over social media right now.  It’s hard to relax on the couch with my phone in the evening and flip through Facebook when all of the posts are slamming everyone who supports one candidate or another.  Right now, you’re an asshole no matter what side you take.

I was recently told that my vote for Gary Johnson would be a waste.  This is nothing new.  People have been told that third-party candidates are wastes of ballot space for a long time.  And I’m sure the memes informing us of Abraham Lincoln’s third-party backing don’t really convince anybody.  (He was a Republican, and they were new at that time but not third party.)

But my vote for Gary Johnson will not be a waste.

Why?  Well, first let’s examine why people think it’s a foolish thing to do.  Some say that voting for him is a vote for Hillary, and the others claim it’s a vote for The Donald.  Um, no.  It’s a vote for Gary.  If I make my little punch mark next to his name, then that’s who the vote is for.  It’s pretty simple, really.  The big parties are telling you otherwise because they’re playing to your hatred.  Being scared into changing your vote? Now that’s a waste. 

Or maybe American folks are just too caught up in wanting to be able to say that they voted for the winner.  The basic gist that I get these days is that they don’t want to vote for Johnson because he has “no chance.”  Hmm.  Alright, so the next logical step is to vote for someone you don’t like simply because they might win?  That doesn’t make sense to me, either.  Last I checked, we have the right to vote for the person we want.  It’s not a gamble at a casino.  You don’t have to make the winning bet to be the winner.

My vote for Gary Johnson will not be a waste because I will be voting for the candidate whom I believe will make the best president.  That’s it.  It’s so easy that nobody can quite wrap their brains around it.  I repeat:  You are not wasting your vote if you are choosing the person you like the best.  Whether that is Trump, Hillary, or Johnson, no vote is wasted if it is educated and earnest.

ballot box casting vote election

 

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Please Help the Old Friends Senior Dog Sanctuary

auctionHave you ever come across one of those Facebook pages that just constantly provides you with warm fuzzies?  Maybe one that you know you can pull up on your phone before you go to bed at night and find a post that instantly makes you feel better about the world?  For me, Old Friends Senior Dog Sanctuary is one of them.

bucketofpugs

Is there anything better than a bucket of pugs?  No, I didn’t think so either.  Old Friends routinely shares “goodnight” photos from their residents.  (Photo courtesy of Old Friends Senior Dog Sanctuary.)

 

Located in Mt. Joliet, Tennessee, Old Friends is dedicated to assisting senior dogs through their golden years.  While some stay at the sanctuary, dogs are also fostered out to homes in their local area.  While many animal rescue organizations are out there doing wonderful things for dogs and cats, I think it’s wonderful that Old Friends concentrates on the dogs that are usually skipped over due to their health problems or the fact that they don’t have many years left.

If you are a pet owner or lover of any kind, you know how expensive it can be to provide everything an animal needs.  These costs are only increased when the pets are disabled or sickly and require a more constant veterinary routine than others.  Now, the expenses of Old Friends have been increased exponentially by a change in zoning laws in their community that is requiring them suddenly to move.  This will mean a disruption in the lives of numerous dogs–many of whom are deaf or blind–as well as the cost of setting up new living quarters that are suitable for these aging canines.

oldfriends

Leo (Photo courtesy of Old Friends Senior Dog Sanctuary)

I ask that you consider helping out this worthwhile enterprise.  There is a shop on their website with several items available, as well as a link to donate directly through Paypal.  They also have t-shirts available on a limited time basis.  Their current one, celebrating Gracie’s birthday, can be found here.  There’s even a dog art auction going on through September 14th.  I’m sure that even a few dollars here and there will make a difference in these sweet pooches’ lives.

frankie.jpg

Frankie.  Yes, I just adore the pugs!  (Photo courtesy of Old Friends Senior Dog Sanctuary)

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