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  The ink flows freely and evenly, without any big splotches to make it look like some historical document.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!

Advertisements

7 Comments

Filed under On Writing

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.

2 Comments

Filed under On Writing, Unboxing

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!

 

5 Comments

Filed under On Writing, Uncategorized

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

 

7 Comments

Filed under Uncategorized

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)

1 Comment

Filed under Animals, Uncategorized

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

Leave a comment

Filed under Uncategorized

Microsoft Surface Pro 4 – A Review

I’ve only had my new computer for a few days.  And I feel like I can’t quite use the term “computer.”  After all, the Microsoft Surface Pro 4 is basically just a tablet with a keyboard.  So that can’t really be a machine that replaces your laptop, can it?

I’ve been searching for a new laptop for awhile, but I’m a very thrifty person.  I have to ensure that I have the absolute best bang for my buck, as well as something that is truly going to make a difference for me.  Buying a new version of the exact same laptop didn’t really make sense.

What first turned me on to the Surface was the keyboard.  I was at Best Buy in the laptop section, just testing out every single keyboard before I even looked at the processor speed or the RAM.  As a freelance writer, I’m sometimes doing up to 10,000 words per day, so I need something that really feels great under my fingertips.  The suedey feel of the Surface’s keyboard case, plus the fact that it’s small but not cramped, really did it for me.

Next, I was concerned about the memory.  The Surface just doesn’t have it when you compare it to a regular laptop.  But a quick look at my current hard drive, which was mostly full of documents, revealed that I don’t use that much space anyway.  Plus, I always work out of Dropbox so that I’m backed up no matter what.  There’s also a microSD slot on the side that allows you to nearly double the memory if you need to (or swap out different cards for different projects, as I think I will be doing).

For a tablet to replace your laptop, it has to be really….lapable.  I have a beautiful desk that I very much enjoy, but I also really like curling up on the couch or in the recliner while I work.  I was concerned that the kickstand on the back of the Surface in conjunction with a keyboard held on by magnets just wasn’t going to cut it.  I read another review that promised it would, and it turns out that guy was correct.  This computer fits wonderfully on my lap, is not floppy, and of course doesn’t get hot.  Big bonus!

I’ve read in other reviews that some folks don’t like the Surface Connect charging cable because it comes out too easily.  Personally, I love it!  I would much rather the cord pop out than dig in and cause damage when my dog gets tangled up in the charging cable.  (Yes, I’ve had something along these lines happen before, although I might have been the one tangled in the cable.)

There’s a lot that I have yet to learn about the Surface.  I’ve been too busy using it for work to do a lot of tinkering.  But from what I’ve experienced so far, it’s great.  The surface pen is handy.  The device switches easily from tablet mode to keyboard mode.  It’s very light compared to the boat anchor I was using before.  Setup was fast and simple.  The battery life is amazing compared to the two-to-three hours my laptop was capable of.  Also, I’ve been a Windows fan since I was a kid, so having a tablet with a system I’m familiar with is huge for me.

Overall, I’m really crazy about this computer and I would highly recommend it to anyone in a similar computing situation.  If you are a graphic designer or a gamer, then I don’t know what to tell you.  I write, surf the web, and stream Pandora.  For me, the Microsoft Surface Pro 4 was worth the investment!

20160903_131600

Leave a comment

Filed under Reviews