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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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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.

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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.

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

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Star Trek: 50 Years of Aliens Teaching Us What It Means to Be Human

For 50 years now, we’ve been boldly going where no one has gone before, and we’ve also been learning what it truly means to be human. Many of these lessons have been taught not by humans but by aliens.

I grew up watching Star Trek: The Next Generation. Several years later, I caught all the reruns from the original series. I’ve seen at least most of the movies, a few of them in the theater. Though I’ve never been the kind of fan that memorizes every episode or could win a trivia competition, the answer for me to the age old question of Star Wars or Star Trek has always been Star Trek.

A couple months ago, I began rewatching The Next Generation on Netflix. This was inspired by some science fiction ghostwriting I’ve been working on. My television choices are often dictated by my writing projects, but it was also a great excuse to re-explore something I had loved so much as a child.

While I didn’t remember the specific plots of any of the episodes, I most certainly remembered the characters. I had a huge crush on the aptly named Wesley Crusher, but my other favorite character was always Data.

Now, while I’m very much over Wil Wheaton, I am still incredibly intrigued and impressed by Data. What makes him so interesting is that he is an android and yet he wants so badly to understand what it means to be human. He strives to discover—with the help of Joe Piscopo, no less—what makes something funny, and what it truly means to laugh. He constantly struggles with and overanalyzes common expressions that we humans use without thinking. Just as people must deal with bias and racism, Data also finds that not everyone is willing to accept him for who he is. It is through these various experiences that Data shows us what it means to be human through the eyes of an android.

There are other aliens ready to teach us these lessons as well. Deanna Troi shows us the emotional side of ourselves, while the Vulcans are experts in the logical. Klingons such as Worf help us understand our anger and our feelings about war. If you want to know a little more about human interactions when it comes to greed or business transactions, just ask the Ferengi.

Personally, I’m ready to keep learning from the aliens for another 50 years to come. Who is your favorite character and what did they teach you?

Live Long and Prosper

Live Long and Prosper

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Why is that Indie Book so Expensive?

Upon the release of my most recent book, I was once again forced to face the issue of price point.  If I charge too little, I won’t make anything.  If I charge too much, nobody will be interested in buying it.  With the numerous ebooks available for free, some folks don’t even want to pay $.99.

I get it.  I don’t have a lot of extra money to throw around.  And most people don’t see the same kind of value in an ebook that they see in a paperback.  After all, you can’t feel the weight of it in your hands, smell the ink on the paper, hear the flip of the pages, or have it signed by the author (at least, not in the same way).

What they don’t think about it that they are paying for so much more than the paper a book is printed on.  There are numerous hours put into creating the plot, writing, rewriting (usually more than once), several rounds of editing, formatting, and cover design.  Not all authors are capable of completing this entire process alone and must hire other professionals to help them.  This means that on top of all their blood, sweat, tears, and late nights beating their heads against the desks, they’ve also put a few hundred dollars into it.

Okay, so after all that is done and the book is available for$2.99 on Amazon, the author starts making almost $3 back for each copy, right?  Nope.  The author can choose from either a 35% or 70% royalty rate, so Amazon immediately gets some off the top.  Which royalty rate you choose depends on the price point of your book, where it’s available, and how big it is.  But the money drain doesn’t stop there.  There are also delivery fees and taxes, not to mention any advertisements, promotions, and giveaways that the author may have done to generate sales.

Let’s apply this to real life.  If I sell a book for $.99, I get $.35 minus a few cents in delivery costs depending on the size of the book.  I would make better money with a guitar case on the street, and I don’t know how to play.

Of course, there are some who say that if you write for the money then you will never be successful.  I those people are just ticked off that their books aren’t selling.  And I will readily admit that my freelance work is what pays the bills, not my books.  But that doesn’t mean that I don’t believe authors should get some sort of acknowledgement for what they have done.  Writing isn’t an easy job, and it can be disheartening to have a quarter thrown at you for your months of hard labor.  Support the authors you love by buying their books, sharing their posts on Facebook or Twitter, and leaving honest reviews.

book

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Come Join My Book Release Party!

t’s been almost two years since I released The Wanderer’s Guide to Dragon Keeping, and it’s finally time for the sequel!  Come join my release party for giveaways, the cover reveal,  and other fun!  The best part is that you can do it all in the comfort of your home.

Fun dragon

 

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