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Fountain Pen Review: Pelikan M200 (My First Pelikan!)

If you follow this blog, then you probably know that I collect fountain pens. Although I’ve mostly just been buying vintage pens lately, I’m thrilled with the brand new Pelikan my husband bought me for Valentine’s Day! (Yes, I’m a lot late on getting this posted!)

The two things that first attracted me to this Pelikan M200 were the beautiful colors and the fact that it’s a piston filler. I get annoyed with converter pens, because they often don’t flow as quickly as I’d like them to. I hadn’t tried a piston yet, but I have several lever-fillers and a vac-fill that I love. (Those, however, are all vintage.) The piston is super easy to operate, and it allows the pen to hold tons of ink! The ink window and the semi-transparent barrel allow you to see that you sucked up all that ink. The flow is excellent, and I tend to be a pretty fast writer. I have a broad nib on this pen.

The steel nib felt a little odd at first, with more feedback than I’d expected, but either I got used to it or it got used to me. It’s a dream to write with on either high or low quality paper, which isn’t something I can say about all pens.

The dimensions of the Pelikan M200–paired with the large ink capacity–make it ideal for long writing sessions. It’s lightweight without feeling cheap, and it balances perfectly when posted. The grip is wide enough to prevent cramping, but it’s not bulky. Of my modern pens, this is the one I reach for the most!

Overall, I think this is a pretty great pen. I’ll be using it a lot to write to my pen pals or plot stories, and I’m happy to have it in my collection.

Do you have the M200 or another Pelikan? I’d love to hear about your experience!


Ashley O’Melia is an independent author and freelancer from Southern Illinois.  She holds her Bachelor’s Degree in Creative Writing and English from Southern New Hampshire University.  Her books include The Wanderer’s Guide to Dragon Keepingand The Graveside DetectiveHer short stories have been published in The Penmen Review, Siren’s Call, and Subcutaneous.  Ashley’s freelance work has spanned numerous genres for clients around the world.  You can find her on Facebook and Amazon.

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Starlog 11: Mission Complete and Promotion to Captain

I can proudly say I’ve earned the rank of Star Fleet Captain. Seriously. I mean, I took a class and everything!

If you haven’t already read about it, I took an online course through edx.org called Star Trek: Inspiring Culture and Technology. I love to learn, and I just couldn’t pass up the chance at something so wonderfully geeky. The course is free, but if you’re a true Trekkie you can pay a little bit extra to get a certificate. (Yes, I did. And it has the Starfleet logo and everything!)

This course is different from other online classes I’ve taken before. Each module has a video, some suggested episodes to watch, and a writing prompt. That, in itself, isn’t all that unusual. But they actually want you to write your answers as public blog instead of just submitting something within the EdX platform.

Personally, this was just a great excuse to learn, to further explore a show I already love, and to make sure I’ve got some content going on my blog. Not a problem for me! But a few other folks I saw in the discussion board didn’t really feel comfortable with the blog aspect of the class.

The one downfall I saw was that the given material wasn’t always enough to really answer the question. What’s your favorite character? is simple enough, but other ones that talk about character development or the specific applications of technology are a little harder to just rattle off.

That being said, there are short but entertaining videos that share a lot of information about Star Trek history, and I loved it. There are actually two more classes in the series. I’m not sure that I’ll pay the extra money for the certificates (well, maybe…) but I’ll at least sign up to look through the course material!

Have you taken any online courses lately? I’d love to know!

* * *

Ashley O’Melia is an independent author and freelancer from Southern Illinois.  She holds her Bachelor’s Degree in Creative Writing and English from Southern New Hampshire University.  Her books include The Wanderer’s Guide to Dragon Keepingand The Graveside Detective.  Her short stories have been published in The Penmen Review, Siren’s Call, and Subcutaneous.  Ashley’s freelance work has spanned numerous genres for clients around the world.  You can find her on Facebook and Amazon.

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Dragon’s Napalm – An Ink Review

What do you do when you buy some ink that happens to come with a free pen, and you discover that you’re absolutely in love with said pen?  You buy more ink, of course!

I fell in love with the Charlie pen by Noodler’s that came with my purchase of Heart of Darkness.  These larger bottles with pens were a special edition limited run, but they can still be found out there on Amazon, eBay, and several other sites.

I couldn’t resist an ink named Dragon’s Napalm, and so I’ve now added it to my collection.  As fun as it was to watch black ink slosh around inside the pen, it’s even more fun with Dragon’s Napalm, which is rather bloodlike.  I can sign all my future contracts in blood now, yay!

The ink comes out in a brilliant cherry red, reminiscent of dragons guarding their hordes of gold deep in the mountains of 1960’s fantasy novels.  Like all Noodler’s inks that I have experienced, it flows well and is such a joy to write with.  It’s perfect for proofreading or plotting the death of antagonists.


Filed under Fountain Pens and Ink, pens, Reviews

Heart of Darkness – An Ink Review

I’m starting to build up a bit of collection of fountain pen ink, and I’ve not been doing my duty in telling you all about it.  Time for that to change!

I admit I’d set my fountain pens aside for a little while.  I hadn’t been keeping them properly clean, and I’d just been so busy that I hadn’t bothered.  But I got a little Christmas money and decided to spend it on something that had been on my wish list for quite some time:  Heart of Darkness by Noodler’s.

Now, I didn’t just go and buy any regular 3 ounce bottle.  No, I sprung for the 4.5 ounce bottle that comes with a free pen!  Yay!

The first thing I noticed when I opened the box is that this is one massive bottle of ink.  I’ll go through an awful lot of character development and plot rearranging before I ever run out.

The second thing I noticed was that the pen had no cartridge converter.  I looked at for a full five minutes, taking it apart and putting it back together again (thinking at first that it was missing some pieces), before I figured it out.  The Charlie pen by Noodler’s does not, in fact, have a cartridge converter nor does it need one.  The ink is allowed to slosh around freely in the pen tube.  A small canal cut into the side of the feed lets the ink flow down to the nib.  This seems very efficient to me, since no ink is wasted inside a converter.  It’s also a lot of fun to tip the pen back and forth and watch the ink when you should be writing.

As for the ink itself, the name does a good job of describing it.  This is a truly black ink, and one that is very satisfying to write with.  There are no delicate color fluctuations to write about this time; it’s simply black.  It’s a great ink for striking out your To Do list.


Filed under Fountain Pens and Ink, pens, Reviews

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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Filed under Fountain Pens and Ink, iPen, pens, Reviews

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!


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A “Review” of An Echo in the Bone

So I had this genius idea to write a book review.  I had just finished Diana Gabaldon’s An Echo in the Bone, and of course I loved it.  A funny thing happened when I started to write the review:  I couldn’t do it.

I guess I felt like a review involved a certain degree of criticism; more than just jumping on Goodreads and deciding how many stars to give it.  And I can’t possibly criticize someone who has written all these gargantuan, historically-accurate, entertaining, addictive tomes.  I just can’t.  I consider myself a decent writer, but I will never have the patience to do what she does.

So, five stars for you, Diana.  That is all.


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