Category Archives: Fountain Pens

My Fountain Pens (by request)

I’ve mentioned my fountain pens several times recently in various places and have been asked more about them. I am not a true collector. True collectors know more about them, and generally have pens that cost much more than mine.

dragon penThis would be an easy thing to get addicted to with pens that look like this dragon pen that was rereleased to celebrate what would have been Bruce Lee’s 70th birthday.  “Prices for “The Dragon 2010 Bruce Lee” limited edition series range from $4,675 to $102,200 with the ultra-rare, three-piece set retailing at $290,550.” Montegrappa makes some pretty pens.

chaos penHere is a roller ball pen–Montegrappa Chaos Limited Edition 18K Gold Rollerball Pen–you can buy on Amazon. Seriously, click that link and go buy it. I am not sure, but I might get a tiny percentage of the sale. I think it’s a worthy experience.

At a mere $69,350.00, what the heck. Go ahead and buy two.

I’ll just wait here while you all go buy one and I’ll let you know later if it worked!

Now, for those of us who are stingy-guts (my late mother-in-law’s term for thrifty people, of which she was one), I offer my pen, the Lamy Safari.

Compared to your Office Depot Bic, it’s expensive. Compared to even the more reasonably priced fountain pens, it’s a bargain. Especially so because it writes really well. I use the EF [extra fine] nib because I have a messy scrawl that is hard to read, and the thicker the line, the harder it is. I was actually quite pleased to read that advice when I first started investigating fountain pen nibs, because I’d never made that connection before. The bolder the stroke, the more careful I’d have to be to write legibly.

Whether you want something like this fun yellow:

lamy_safari_fountain_pen_yellowor something more classic like this CHARCOAL:


I recommend the Lamy Safari for a pen from just under $20 to around $30, depending on where you buy it and what color you get. I have linked to Amazon Prime links for those of you who wouldn’t have to pay postage. When I’ve chosen colors where I couldn’t use Amazon Prime I bought from Daly’s Pen Shop. At that time they had the best prices and were great to work with, though it has been a few years.

While we’re at it, you can use these as cartridge pens and just put a new cartridge in every time you need to. This is certainly the easiest way to do it, but also the most expensive. I buy the cartridges so that I can refill with ink myself and choose my own colors. Messier, but fun. I like choosing colors.

noodler's redNote: For blood red marking on my editing work [for myself] I prefer Noodler’s Red. I tried other shades but this one is deep, bright and bloody.

Hey, I have to make it fun or editing would be way too much like work. [Okay, it’s work, bloody work. Which is why I choose red. That, and to get in touch with my inner Snape, who would be ruthless when editing.]

If you’ve never used a fountain pen, here is what you need to know. When you get it, sit down with a piece of paper and write a page or two to break the pen in. Copy something straight out of a book if you want. I’ve done that before just so I don’t have to actually think while I’m doing it. That generally will break the nib in so it writes as smooth as possible, though the more you use it, the smoother it will get. The Lamy Safari was recommended to me because it has a smooth-writing nib for the price, and I’d have to agree. For awhile I did get into collecting some inexpensive but pretty pens that were imported from various places known for inexpensive stuff. And though some were very pretty, I just couldn’t bring myself to use them that often because they were scratchy to write with and that bothered me.

Do you use fountain pens? Do you remember using fountain pens? Or do you look at a fountain pen like I would look at a quill and think, holy cow, somebody still uses those things?

Meet Cecil. Available at Amazon and Book View Cafe!

Meet Cecil. Available at Amazon and Book View Cafe!

Update on Open Letter to Amazon coming Tuesday. A few interesting things to report. And for the record, as I said before, I like Amazon. I use Amazon. I think the fact that they make it so easy for the ‘little guys’ to sell things through their site, and easy for customers like me to find the ‘little guys,’ puts them light-years ahead of WalMart and others who sell cheap and make it a point to put all their competition out of business. I understand if you disagree.




Filed under amazon, Fountain Pens

Doing my retro thang.

It was quite an unexpected discovery for me to understand that despite the way I love my laptop and won’t leave home without it, not to mention my Kindle and my iPod, I am at heart still a very retro girl.

I still love writing with a fountain pen.

kindle moleskine revisions

I plot my books with index cards that I keep on the wall beside me so I can always have my story at my fingertips. [Thank you, Blake Snyder, for the system that finally worked for me.]

And I just ordered two wall calendars so that I can return to my old pattern of having the months spread before me with deadlines, conferences and appearances, teaching schedule, etc. all before me in full technicolor. I guess part of what makes me so happy about this is that I have so many different deadlines, conferences and appearances, classes, etc. lined up already.

Do you remain old school in anything? What?


Filed under Analog, Fountain Pens, Save the Cat, Writing

This is me in a frustrated state.

This is my fifth attempt at a synopsis.

How frustrated am I? I have resorted to writing by hand with my Severus pen and blood.

That is how frustrated I am.

Okay, I have vented. Back into it.

Have a nice weekend.


Filed under Fountain Pens, Writing

This is not the new post I promised.

Not exactly. That will require the finding of the camera.

But as an experiment, I attempted to recreate the photo here using the camera on my MacBook.

Erm, not so successful.

But, anyway, a few notes and a picture to hold this space until I put the real post together.

Blood? Check. Fountain pen? Check. Novel-in-progress on Kindle? Check. Notes in Moleskine? Check.

Picture backwards… Okay, that?  I have no clue.

[Note: And don’t think I’m not going to blog the Dallas Cowboys being the best, and Hollywood proves it, anyway. Ahem.]


Filed under Dallas Cowboys, Fountain Pens, Kindle, Moleskine, Office gear, Writers, Writing

Gearing up to bleed…

I just ordered myself a new Lamy Safari Fountain Pen in shiny black (which makes me think of Snape) and a bottle of Noodler’s Antietam Red Ink (which makes me think of Snape).

What, obsession much?

I’m hoping that bleeding all over my ms (perhaps even with caustic, snide remarks) will inspire me, in a girding my loins sort of way.

And now, to finish the rough draft.

ETA: I ended up with Noodler’s Red, which is a gorgeous red. Eventually I may upload an edited page just so you can see its awesomeness!


Filed under Analog, Fountain Pens, Office, Office gear, Writing

A return to the Moleskine and pens and writing and more…

As I’ve mentioned before, I love moleskines, the pocket sized, with lines.

But where I used to use them only as a capture device, I have finally branched out. I have sort of suddenly started using the large soft-cover moleskines for writing. By hand. Which is tricky, since within minutes my hand starts cramping and within hours I can no longer read or remember some of what I’ve written.

Yeah, sounds like a good plan, huh?

[“Writing content?” you ask. “Is she finally getting around to a bit of the promised writing content? And this? Is it?”]

Oh, hush. I’m getting there.

Sometimes when the muse is playing hard to get, I find that I can go to the local Tex Mex cafe and sit with a bowl of chips and salsa and pull out my favorite fountain pen (except I have the extra fine nib) and–okay, sometimes, the iPod, too, with music that fits my story and mood–and somehow, words come there that weren’t coming at home.

Maybe because they don’t count. They’re unofficial. They aren’t even allowed to show up in the manuscript yet, not even in the rough draft. They are just messy words in ink that might even smear, that might not ever make it to prime time…

And they show up.

It’s odd how that happens.

And more often than not, those words go home with me and get typed into the manuscript and wow, they are good.  Good enough to keep in that rough draft, anyway.  Sometimes several hundred of them.

Do you realize how many years I’ve been writing? And never, ever wrote by hand? And suddenly, I’m doing it with regularity?

I guess you can teach a drinking aged Pooks new tricks, huh?  (Did you really think I was going to use the o-word there?)

And to my delight, you can now get Noodler’s Black Waterproof Fountain Pen Ink from Amazon. Free shipping (since I also have Amazon Prime, that is very cool, because I can order it and not pay shipping, which I used to have to do when I ordered it elsewhere. Plus, I’ve never bought this black before, and was actually kind of wanting Hunter’s Green, but I am pretty sure black is the only waterproof ink, and I’ve found that when I use highlighters (have I mentioned that I love highlighters?) they sometimes smear the ink and, yeah, I decided my next bottle of ink would be waterproof, because if I can’t read my own writing when it’s not smeared? Smearing is not an option.

And while we’re at it, I stumbled across another cool site that pays attention to notebooks and such.


Check it out.

Pssst. By the way, I just ordered a new Lamy fountain pen.

It’s purple.

Excuse me while I squeee.


Filed under Fountain Pens, Moleskine, Writers, Writing

(Don’t!) Read Me

“Journaling” has been a big trendy deal for yonks. I never bought into the program, mind you, but I knew it was happening. I just can’t figure out how to open a vein and spill my blood, my sinew, my guts onto a page (yes, bad metaphor, hush) and leave it all helplessly wallowing there, waiting for just anybody to come along and pick it up and poke through and do a post-mortem.

The closest I ever came was “morning pages” from The Artist’s Way by Julia Cameron. If you follow that link you might notice that I linked to the paperback version. That’s because when it was first published, it only came in paperback. And in an odd way this is tied into the point I’m trying to make but as usual, not making very quickly.

Okay, so since I brought it up — I can’t recommend The Artist’s Way highly enough if you are trying to expand your creativity. The cover says, “A Guide to Discovering and Recovering Your Creative Self.” Not just for “artists,” or writers. It’s about being creative whether that means art, music, dance, writing — creative.

Some of us have never allowed ourselves to be creative. Maybe intentionally (what the hell do I need with art?) or maybe because we’re just too busy with other passions — computers, video games, triathlons, who knows what? Or because we’re too busy simply doing what needs to be done. Excuse me, let me say that again. Doing What Needs To Be Done. (Because somebody has to do it, and if I don’t, who will? And excuse me, I don’t have enough crosses on my back, want to pile on some more?)

Others of us may have been artistic at one time or another. We might have written lyrics to songs, or sketched anime, or taken ballet or saxophone until we got Too Old For Such Nonsense — often because somebody in authority stomped it out of us and told us to grow up and leave that kid stuff behind.

One way or another, many people are now finding themselves yearning to be maybe just a tiny bit creative, or maybe a whole lot creative, but are afraid to risk looking silly. Or they don’t know where to begin. One woman I know of was a university professor (Hook ’em Horns! is a hint as to which university) who taught … probably economics or something. She had a major book due and was blocked — totally blocked. The deadline was approaching and she was tied up in knots. Through the grapevine, a friend of a friend asked me, “Do you have any ideas about what to tell her to do? She has writer’s block!” and I shrugged and said, “Not unless The Artist’s Way helps.” This woman wasn’t doing “creative writing” yet word got back to me within a couple of weeks that the professor was ecstatic and relieved and raving about TAW, and eventually even made her deadline.

TAW is a 12-week workshop. Every week you read a chapter and do some exercises, and they can be fun or silly or emotionally draining…. I found myself drawing and sketching and I’m not an artist (nor would anyone mistake me for one if they saw what I drew and sketched) but it was fun. Do you ever do anything just for fun any more?

Okay, so if I described you in any way up there, go check out the book, you might be glad you did.

Now, to get back to Morning Pages — one thing Julia Cameron says is that you must write Morning Pages, three pages a day, total free-writing without thinking or judging. (Read the book for more info on that.)

I had no difficulty figuring out what to write my morning pages in, because I’d already read Natalie Goldberg’s Writing Down the Bones. And she said, among other things, “First consider the pen you write with. It should be fast-writing pen because your thoughts are always much faster that your hand….. Go to a stationery store and see what feels good to you…. Think, too, about your notebook. It is important. This is your equipment, like a hammer and nails to a carpenter….” (Think about that for a minute, and maybe you’ll understand the obsession some of us have with fountain pens or special pencils or the perfect gel pen.)

“Sometimes,” she says, “people buy expensive hardcover journals. They are bulky and heavy and because they are fancy, you are compelled to write something good. Instead you should feel that you have permission to write the worst junk in the world and it would be okay.” (I admit right now that I am insanely jealous of people who can actually buy such journals and either not feel such a compulsion, or worse, be confident that what they write in them is totally worthy of such grandeur. And a lot of people can and do, because there are more and more of them all the time. I lust and drool over those gorgeous journals even as I have absolutely no reason to buy them.)

Then she adds, thank goodness for people like me, “A cheap spiral notebook lets you feel that you can fill it quickly and afford another…. Garfield, the Muppets, Mickey Mouse, Star Wars. I use notebooks with funny covers…. I can’t take myself too seriously when I open up a Peanuts notebook.” (If you are at all interested in writing, you should get her books, too, by the way.) And she also mentioned perhaps one of the most important things about spiral notebooks in my universe:

People ignore them.

Meaning, if you have a tattered Sponge Bob Square Pants spiral on the kitchen table and somebody sits down and sees it, they’re more likely to shove it aside than open it to see what’s inside. Nothing important could be in a spiral notebook. Right?

So I did my morning pages in one tattered spiral notebook after another. I generally used my kids’ hand-me-downs, spirals that only had a few written pages and otherwise were new. Rip, toss, mine.

Because, you see, I’ve always had this aversion to Journals with a capital J. I’d walk through bookstores and get to the blank books and they’d be so attractive, I just had to pick them up. And they did look important, like only something really really good would be worthy of them. Worse than that, they often had JOURNAL stamped in gold on the spine, or scrolled across the cover. And in addition to desire, the little voice in my head was screeching in dismay, “Who the hell writes a journal, labels it, and sticks it on a bookshelf for people to find and — oh my God — SNOOP in!?!”

Julia Cameron’s TAW was a phenomenal success. It exploded onto the scene in the 90s and suddenly groups were meeting all around the nation, all around the world, people working through the 12 weeks together. It sold and sold and sold. And I guess, belatedly, the publisher thought, “Wow. Look how much money we would have made if this had been a hardcover.”

So, they put it out in hardcover, right? Wrong. Meet: The Artist’s Way Morning Pages Journal. Which is essentially a hardcover book of mostly blank pages which cost as much as the paperback workbook.

I guess maybe it felt good to use the “official” journal, but I notice by glancing at Amazon feedback that it doesn’t seem to perfectly fit the bill.

It appears that now they sell the Workbook and the Journal both in hardcover and paperback. My advice would be to get the Workbook in hardcover and skip the journal and use whatever you like for that. The only reason I say get the workbook in hardcover is because mine got beat up as I used it because I’m rough on books, and since I did end up liking it so much, I wish I had a hardcover now instead of a beat-up paperback. (Don’t weep for me, though. I just ordered the hardcover.)

But even beyond the absurdity (and corporate greed) involved in coming out with a way overpriced hardcover blank book was the idea that here we have another case of a book broadcasting, READ MEI AM A JOURNAL!

I know, I know, I clearly have issues.

So how did I end up with small Moleskines and large Moleskines and even one blank book (scroll to bottom) that shouts “Open me up, baby!” like a cheap hooker on Harry Hines Blvd. (Ubiquitous Dallas reference, y’all.)

What happened? Did I change?

No. Not really. I still haven’t written in the hooker one, and may never, but it makes me grin to see it around. And the Moleskines? I think I finally found the journal that is sensual and romantic but discreet. And once I got past the initial (one whole year’s worth, mind you) reluctance to mar its purity with my ugly scrawl, I didn’t mind turning it into a scribbled up mess, and believe me, it is one.

Plus the fountain pens! They are so fun to use, and maybe I just love feeling like those famous writers of yesteryear who sat in a Parisian bar with a cold rain dripping outside, while I’m smoking and writing and tossing back brandy and waiting for Hemingway to get in a brawl.

Because when both Natalie Goldberg (creative guru) and David Allen (organizational guru) tell you that tools matter, that you should choose tools that fun and easy and even seductive so that you’ll want to use them? I kind of thing there must be a pretty hardcore truth there.

But still, I want my journals to fly under the radar. To say “Don’t mind me, I’m not worth opening….”

That is, if I actually wrote one.

And I don’t.


Filed under Analog, Books, Fountain Pens, Getting Things Done, Moleskine, Writing