I will have this poll up from today till next Tuesday and it will determine the inks for the next several weeks.
Be sure to vote for your favorite.
I will have this poll up from today till next Tuesday and it will determine the inks for the next several weeks.
Be sure to vote for your favorite.
If you type in traditional vs indie publishing, you’re going to get a whole lot of sites and given how prevalent indie publishing is online a whole lot of those sites will have a curious pro-indie publishing angle.
Once I got the rights to my traditionally-published book back I went ahead and began selling it online, effectively turning me into a hybrid publisher. I’m not going to waste time and go, well this method is better or that method is better, I’m just going to relate my own experience and my own motivations for going traditional. Meandering thoughts.
Defining these three terms in as basic and vague a manner: traditional publishing favors time-consuming but more reputable publishing. Independent publishing dispenses of the need to go through agents and editors and do everything on your own. Hybrid publishing is a little bit of both.
Vague definitions because there’s tons of exceptions in each and again, everyone has their opinion about which is best for them.
And I think those three words are the most ignored when people write thinkpieces about this subject (and so many others in the craft). Their way is the best way. You can’t be a successful writer unless you’re traditional. You can’t be a successful writer unless you’re indie. You can’t be a successful writer unless you write every single waking moment. You can’t be a successful writer unless you write 10,000 words a day. You can’t be a successful writer unless you write with your feet digging into an alpaca-hair rug and there is a mug of green tea at your side.
We all have our methods. And I think that’s the bone I tend to pick with some people who approach writing with a salesman’s mentality and I’ll clarify that in a bit. But first, why I originally went traditional.
When I first signed up for my MFA program, the push was that we would create things that would be able to be traditionally-published and so I kind of fell into that mentality as well because those were the books I grew up with. I’d go to book stores and see all these publishing houses’ product just lining the bookshelves. When ebooks came around I thought, oh neat! Then I tried them and I didn’t think they were Oh neat! anymore and since a lot of indie publishers default to going online-only it’s not something that’s accessible.
So I wanted to write a book that would be accessible in bookstores and a book that could be lugged around, forgotten, dog-eared to hell and back, written on, highlighted, etc.
Then of course, there was the vanity element. Even though I tend to dunk on my writing the majority of the time, there are moments where I’m like, you know what? This is pretty good. And part of my fear was that, say I pulled an Andy Weir and made it big. There would be part of me that would always go: “You went indie. You couldn’t have landed a deal on your own.”
Because that’s the thing about the poems and short stories that I’ve gotten published, each of them managed to get through at least one person that wasn’t me going “this shit’s pretty good!”
And finally…the effort.
Whether you’re traditional/indie/hybrid, you have to make an effort. That goes without saying. But I wanted my effort to be solely concentrated on writing. As it is, I’m employed full-time and active in school extracurricular activities. A lot of the writers I personally know are in the same position. I mention the effort bit because I don’t want to take say, 10 hours of creative time I get a week and spend 2 hours on being a writer, 2 hours on being a marketer, 2 hours on designing my own cover, 2 hours on running street teams, 2 hours on being mad at math.
Going traditional means I’m spending all my time being creative and handing off the responsibilities of the outside details to someone else. When I signed my contract with the small house that published my book, part of the deal was that they would find me an editor and a cover designer and would work with me to do the sales pitches/getting me interviews and all that.
Which leads me to the other myths people like to talk about when it comes to traditional publishing. It seems almost monstruous: “IF YOU GO TRADITIONAL, THEY WILL MAKE YOU CHANGE ALL YOUR CHARACTERS AND ALSO TAKE ONE OF YOUR KIDNEYS!”
Here’s the thing about contracts: you are allowed to say no. You are allowed to tell the people offering you a deal that you need to have someone look over it. You are allowed to tell them you’re not comfortable with something. You are allowed to tell them what kind of rights you want to keep. Don’t treat a contract as if it’s the TOS to just about every other social media you have. Treat it for what it is. If at any point you’re not comfortable with the risk: walk away.
(and it goes without saying, money will never go from the author to the publisher. Any “agent” that says otherwise is trying to get you to buy into a scam and you’re best running.)
The other thing with traditional publishing that is true is that it can take some time to get a deal. I went through 60 rejections over the course of a year. I know people who are three times the writer I am and they had double the rejections. It’s part of the risk. Self-publishing? Once you have the completed product, the entire thing took me about 2-3 hours. It’s that ease that facilitates problematic approaches to the craft.
“Hey, tell you what, Writer X! Just write the most base, trope-laden, typo-ridden, excuse for a novel, click submit, and then start working on the next one.”
I think that cheapens the art as a whole, and then it leads to attitudes of “Well, I’m a best-seller, I move so many units of books! Quality! Best-seller! Ranked #24 in Amazon for the web in the category of Spaceman Vampire Lover Robots!”
I’m being just a teensy bit hyperbolic there but the times I’ve wandered into listening to indie-pub podcasts there seems to be that air of talking about selling books with the air of a business major. Or they’ll spend less time talking about the craft of writing the book than they do about how to game Amazon algorithms.
That’s not what works for me. If it works for them, sure, good, but I personally feel it cheapens it and it even takes the fun out of it. Think about Painting With a Twist or Pinot Palette or Three Sheets Vermeer or Drunk Donatello or any of those painting programs that have you paint on canvas and have a glass or many while you do so. I think those are pretty fun. (Assuming they’re not…let’s say….creatively crowdsourcing their inspiration)
Now I think they’d stop being fun if I started going to several of those locations, taking the paintings I made, and then selling them on Etsy and then bragging about becoming some sort of incredibly-successful artist. Seems ridiculous, right? But this frantic need to just put out whatever cheapens everything as a whole.
I’m not in this business for the money.
I’m here to tell stories.
Now if you’re one of those people that wants to go into writing furiously and putting out the least-common-denominator of a product just to chase a pipe dream on the off-chance you can get a steady amount of bread…cool. But consider what you’re doing, especially if you’re a fan of the genres that you write in. Sci fi, romance, paranormal, fantasy.
All you’re doing is putting product out there that people can take and go “see, this is why I don’t read fantasy! These four books have the same plot and they didn’t even get edited properly!”
And I don’t mean all this to just rag on indie authors, just those that have the above approach. If you don’t, then there are many good reasons to go into indie publishing, indie authors who go into it for the love of the craft itself, love of just wanting to tell a story and not game the system. That, I can stand by. There’s also the idea that publishing as a whole has a history of not being super-friendly to BIPOC writers. There’s been a push to change that with smaller presses leading the way and giving shots to authors that are being ignored by the top publishing houses, but at the same time I totally understand that someone who feels disenfranchised doesn’t want to face rejection after rejection for telling their truth.
Monteverde has been one of the inks that have been sneaking into my regular usage because 1) it’s one of the most affordable ink bottles I have and 2) it flows really well on most of the pens I’ve inked it with (the other one I have is the Monteverde Sapphire)
I was on the market for a red ink because at the moment I only really had my Pilot G-2s and the Pentel Energels with a neat red ink but I wanted a specific-red ink fountain pen ink. I had checked out the momiji but it was a little too pink and I needed something more red-red so I went for the Monteverde Ruby.
And I’ve dug it! It performs well, looks great on shitty and nice paper, and it’s a nice complement to the Pilot Metropolitan I have it inked with.
Here comes the test.
Very light bleed through on the other side when, even on the cheapest paper.
I think you can see the most vivid of the “Red-orange” here in the paper. As always, I’m a stan for the Leuchturm (and even the Wal-mart knockoff-Exceed) in place of the Moleskine. The ink also dried as quickly here as it did with some of the nicer paper.
The Average Notebook Paper had been performing so well up to this point with some of the pricier inks but here it just took an L. Failed the water droplet test, the ink takes longer to dry and there’s more bleedthrough. I think if you’re going to use this ink grading papers I’d wait a little bit for the ink to dry.
The Clairefontaine paper took another L. Again, this paper is a fantastic paper to write on but you’ve just got to be more mindful of the ink you’re using so you don’t end up writing a letter that’s going to end up being a smudged mess. Some people advise getting ink blotters (which look cool) but you can get the same job done with a handy paper towel if you’re paranoid about the smudging.
The now-discontinued Tomoe River paper does well on the dry test, but takes a step back with the water droplet test (the water spreads the ink a lot).
Overall, the Monteverde Ruby, like every other ink so far, performs the best on Rhodia paper. More of the shading is present, the water drop test leaves the ink droplet in place, dries quick.
Back at it with the Iroshizuku’s Kon-Peki, a fascinating blue ink. Bright, vivid, bold. If you’re looking at a light blue ink you’re not going to regret this one.
Again, decent showing all around and it actually did better on the Clairefontaine than the Scribble did. For this test, I used a Lamy Safari M so it being a German-style nib it’s a little bit more broad and I’m thinking I might just go back to my glass dip pen for the writing tests. The random text you will see is phrases I asked my friends Lindsay and Mossy to contribute…much to their confusion.
The Tomoe River performs well, as uusal, but the slight sheen isn’t as obvious, kinda muted almost. One thing I will say about the kon-peki is that it tends to get darker with the bigger nibs. I had this on my TWSBI Eco in a Fine nib and it was significantly lighter than this.
Notice how deeper the color is on this one? It’s obviously not as blue as the (in)famous Baystate Blue but it has a nice gradient of color.
I was kinda surprised at this one! So obviously the front part of the Clairefontaine is very fountain pen friendly, but there wasn’t that much ghosting either. Here you can even see where a little bit of the darker blue pops through when I pressed harder with my q-tip. Great dry time on this paper, too!
Finally, we come to the notebook paper. A little hint of that purple sheen, a decent dry time, not that great on the droplet test.
Overall, a very decent ink, I’ve had it on both medium and fine nibs and there is a little bit of a shade difference.
On Mondays, I’ll do a routine blog update with stuff that I’m working on, things relating to the writing world at large, and just my own meandering thoughts.
I always like to start off my blogs talking about fanfiction because it’s how I got started writing-writing. Before the book deal, before the longlists, before the MFA, before the dozen publication credits, and before even my first forays into original fiction, there was fanfiction. I’d write fanfiction of shows/series I enjoyed. Pokemon, Harry Potter, Animorphs, Final Fantasy, and even Grand Theft Auto.
Around ninth grade, I started playing a game called Tibia. A Germany-based MMORPG with a gameplay that even my pitiful 28.8 (shout out, Prodigy) modem could handle. It was World of Warcrack before World of Warcrack and Lord knows I played it for far longer than I should have. BUT. I found it fun. And since it lacked the lore that game series like The Elder Scrolls and Warcraft had I thought to fill in those gaps with my own ideas. And so I decided to write fanfiction.
Because to hell with narrative structure, this is where I’ll tell you what fanfiction is. Fanfiction is basically playing in someone else’s sandbox. Someone already created the setting and the characters and now all you do is use that. Before your left eyebrow starts going all the way up consider that this is something that’s been done time and time again in literature. What do you think Paradise Lost, the Divine Comedy and the Aeneid are? Current authors like Neil Gaiman, Rainbow Rowell, Naomi Novik and Cory Doctorow have either written fanfiction or still dabble in it.
Why do people write it, though?
And we’re back to Tibia.
I wanted to write Tibia fanfiction because like I said, I found the lore wanting. I thought of constructing a story to fill in those gaps. This is where I deviated from the usual course of fanfiction writers in which I decided to just take my ideas from this particular sandbox and put them to good use in my own fantasy project. But if I had stayed the course I could have come up with some pretty good ideas to benefit the game itself.
Some established authors like George R.R. Martin would argue that it’s not a proper writing exercise. I’d hate to disagree with someone who’s been in the business as long as he has but to write it off like that is a little bit silly. Every rule you need to write a good piece of fiction exists in fanfiction. And imitation exercises are bread and butter for anyone learning to write poetry. I remember at least several assignments I turned in during my poetry workshops were variations of writing imitations of poems from established poets. Hell, so many poetry books have “After XXXXXX” homage poems. I know in my own manuscript I have two different poems, one as a nod to my friend Lupe Mendez’s Aguacero poem and another as a direct reference to a line my friend Bryce Bennett said while talking about Jonesboro, Arkansas.
Are those poems bad? What about covers?
Which version is the superior? Dolly or Whitney? Simon and Garfunkel or Disturbed? Trent Reznor or Johnny Cash? Prince, Sinead or Chris?
But back to literature proper. Fanfiction has a storied (ha, get it because stories ha i am comedy genius) tradition. Paradise Lost and The Divine Comedy are Bible fanfiction. The Aeneid is Homeric fanfiction. And they’re not the only ones. So whatever argument to be made against the literary potential of fanfiction is basically thrown out the window. Now I’m not going to say that if you go to fanfiction,net right now you’re going to be able to immediately find Miltonesque worth but that’s much more because of Sturgeon’s Law than it is about talent.
Okay, so is there money in it?
Yes and no.
Yes in very, very, select circumstances.
No, in most circumstances.
For a brief moment of time there was Amazon’s Kindle Worlds where Amazon paid authors to write fanfictions of things like Veronica Mars, Pretty Little Liars, The Vampire Diaries, and a few others. That’s been shut down. Then there’s the curious case of 50 Shades of Gray and The Mortal Instruments. Both of which started as fanfiction (Twilight and Harry Potter, respectively) before the authors re-skinned and re-packaged the stories as individual works. I don’t know if I’d do the same with my own because as it stands whatever connection I had to the original source of inspiration is molecule-small. (But I’d be remiss not to mention it lest I be accused of hypocrisy)
Anyway, money. Fanfic authors will not receve a single dime for their work. Some might even get flak from the authors (like Anne Rice) for writing it. It’s purely a labor of love. A lot of my friends are Firefly fans and devasted with the whole canceled-after-one-season bit and fanfics help with that. Others want to rewrite Supernatural beginning from Season 5 where it went off the rails. Others just want to wonder what it would be like for Captain America to stop by a Stripes and get a breakfast taco.
And it’s all okay!
One time, I was giving a workshop on flash fiction and I made the argument I made above, that a lot of the things that make fiction good will make fanfiction good. It just takes away the guesswork when it comes to developing characters.
You don’t have to write it, you don’t have to like it. But it’s been there, and it will continue to be there.
Also, even assuming all the bad things about fanfiction were true, that it’s not “Real writing” and whatever…consider the following XKCD strip.
And we’re back!
Still trying to get used to a better writing schedule so I can more frequently update this. Again, what’s the end point? I don’t know. I like inks. INKS!
I’ve picked up a thing for purple inks because it’s one of my favorite colors. Blame it on going to Church during advent, the association with Roman military history, lavender being one of my favorite scents, etc.
And then I thought, it would be cool to have one that can serve as substitute for a black ink and will only look purple on closer inspection.
So I discovered the Diamine Scribble. Diamine Scribble is one of two purple inks (the other being Diamine Monboddo’s Hat) that Fountain Pens UK came up with as a collaboration with Diamine. It’s a rather wet writer but it’s such a bold, black purple.
Once again, the two surprises are the Clairefontaine and the standard notebook paper in how they’ve managed these pen tests. The notebook paper should be the worst with fountain pens and the Clairefontaine better, but the latter has some interesting ghosting issues. I wonder if maybe I’m dolloping too much ink on the initial portion of the test.
That being said, the Clairefontaine is still a fantastic paper to write on, I just have to be more careful about writing on it since it almost feels like you’re writing on silk.
Plus, you can really see the gold undertones and it performs really well on the water drop test, compared to the next one on the list, the standard notebook paper..
You’ll get some of the shading but the ink smears all over with the water droplet test.
The Tomoe River has recently been discontinued and it’s a great paper! Current notebooks run you around $65 since people started hoarding them. I’m going to use them for letter-writing for the most part now and replace it with something more common like the LT1917.
But the breakthrough I’ve come across?
Rhodia. Quick dry time. Boldness and sheen. Does okay on the drop test. Little ghosting. Definitely one of the best papers to write on. My last journal was a Rhodia webnotebook and but for the fact that it was a little bit too wide-ruled for my taste, it was a great notebook.
But really, all of them. And I’ll go more into detail about the Diplomat, Lamy, and the Pilot later but right now I want to deviate just a skosh to talk a little bit about my favorite pens and how I feel they complement my fountain pen habit/daily pen use.
I just love pens, y’all. I’ve always gripped pencils way too hard for comfort and there’s something about mechanical pencils that just don’t sit right with me. Reminds me of this for some reason.
Yes, there are erasable pens but I’ll just cross something out instead of using an erasable pen because WHAT IS THE POINT. Believe it or not there’s dry-erase fountain pen ink and I’m thinking, JUST. BUY. DRY-ERASE. MARKERS. But then again this is a blog about fancy inky sticks so I recognize my moral high ground isn’t as high as I think it is.
Anyway, here they are.
The notebook is an Apica notebook that I bought for $3.15 at Kinokuniya and I really think if you like stationery, weeb stuff, or stationery AND weeb stuff, you should really check it out. In Houston it’s off the Grand Parkway and 1-10 close to Whiskey Cake; in Austin it’s…I don’t know, it’s somewhere in Austin. GOOGLE IT.
I’ll be going left to right providing a brief overview.
And I’m back y’all.
It’s exhausting being a teacher. But I love it. I spent years working corporate and some days where I’d dread work. As tired as I am, as frustrated as I am, as beat-down as I can get sometimes by general ennui and stress, there’s not been a single day as an educator where I don’t want to go into work.
I’m also “the pen guy” at work, taking over that title from a colleague who was the reigning pen guy and then I showed up with my EDCs and suddenly I have that title.
Today we’re going to talk about the J. Herbin Emerald of Chivor, known as the Emerald of Chicken in some circles.
It is a gorgeous, if slightly wet, ink that behaves pretty decently, but I’d put it in a pen with a pen that wrote on the dry side.
Unless of course that’s something you like. Here’s how it performs.
Obviously It’s going to look best on the Clairefontaine and the Rhodia due to the nature of those notebooks/brands. I’ve mentioned I won’t do Moleskine before but I’ll repeat it: Moleskine is tissue paper with incredible marketing. The thing that surprised me, and part of it could be that I just went heavy on the swatch, but the amount of ink that shows on the opposite side of the Leuchturm. That being said, it still performed the best in the dry time test.
The notebook I got for notebook paper has been doing exceedingly well, too. Surprisingly well, too. Now I tend to gravitate towards cream-colored notebooks because I feel they add that “aged” look to what I write, so I’m using this notebook as representative of your standard notebooks you’d use for school. It is the Office Depot Stellar brand and I got it for $2.
You can also notice the sheen of the ink better here, and I think that’s one of the cooler things about this ink. If the light catches it after it dries it has a little bit of a red metallic sheen to it beneath the rich blue .
For the Rhodia, the drying times were longer. I borrowed something from Mountain of Ink so you could see them better.
That being said, writing on Rhodia is still a delight. But if you really want to get fancy, as usual, you go for the Clairefontaine or the Tomoe River, which average around to $0.18 a sheet in a pack of 50, exponentially more expensive than buying a ream of copy paper ($0.014 a sheet) or a standard notebook for $2 and have 100 sheets to show for it.
But hey, if you want decent write time and the type of paper that can take a punch, you’re going to want to use these. Both the Clairefontaine and the Rhodia are made by the same company but the former is ideal for fountain pen use and the Rhodia is designed to be better with multiple writing instruments.
The only thing that ghosted was my Noodler’s Rome is Burning and it was from my broadest fountain pen. Obviously something like Sharpie would ghost, but all in all, this is a solid pad that you can find locally at places like Dromgoole’s and Kinokuniya (Rice Village and Katy, respectively) and occasionally at Barnes and Noble. My last journal was a Rhodia webnotebook I managed to snack from the Copperfield Barnes and Noble.
One of the common terms you hear in the fountain pen, and really a lot of other communities, is the term ‘EDC’ as in everyday carry.
Now, one thing I did mention about my fountain pen vice/habit is that it’s encouraged me not to put pens in my pockets (unless I’m wearing a shirt with pockets in which case my Lamy or Pilots look kinda cool).
But you know, I like to have multiple pens on hand. And so here’s my usual set up for leaving the house.
The pen case is an iDream365 Hard Protective EVA Carrying Case . I got it off of Amazon and it’s pretty comfortable. Pens, I like to carry at least a combination of:
The notebook is an Exceed notebook. Exceed is a Wal-Mart brand that is basically a Leuchturm1917 knockoff with a very limited color selection.
It’s actually a very solid little notebook. I normally have slightly larger versions of it for my school meeting notes.
I keep the first set up ,and then I add a Think Ink notebook from Target where I log my meetings. I also found a pack of small steno pads at Target ($5 for 5) because of COURSE I did that and they are great for quicker tearable notes. At the bottom is my Minimalism Art bullet journal. It’s a great brand when it comes to fountain pen-friendly (and really, all pens) notebooks and for the price it’s great especially when you compare it to equal-size Leuchtturm1917s or Rhodias that are a little pricier.
I don’t buy Moleskine notebooks because their paper is extremely thin, even for regular pens. I tell people they’re like loose-leaf paper notebooks with an impressive marketing arm.
I keep my small notebook and my pen set for arbitrary thoughts during lunch.
Out and About/Hipster Set
Because I can have more things to carry when I post up at a coffeeshop, I throw these in a leather college professor bag my dad gave me as a gift. I keep the pen case but add a pen wallet in case I want to switch out to a different color fountain pen.
I carry a small book with me from my to-read list (in this case, Rudy Francisco’s I’ll fly away) and a couple of notebooks. You’ll notice the notebooks have names and it’s…I don’t know. I name things. I don’t talk OFTEN about the things I name because then I’d be looked at as the kind of guy who names things.
But it started with what I thought was going to be the name of my first poetry collection but I liked the name so much it just stuck around as my all-purpose naming convention for my notebooks. Flash Floods and Revelations. Don’t ask. I just like the way it rolls off the tongue and HIM took the equally-aweseome Deep Shadows and Brilliant Highlights. My current lineup is as follows:
I – 2019 Bullet journal (Letterbox Notebook) – DONE
II – 2019-2020 Commonplace Book (Lemome Notebook) – DONE
III – Writing Project Journal (Leuchturm) – DONE
IV – Writing Project Journal (Minimalism Art)
V – Writing Project Journal (Leuchturm)
VI – Poetry Journal (Exceed)
Outside the Flash Floods series I have another Leuchturm notebook used for my homebrew DND setting notes/other assorted tabletop things; a standard notebook for my blog notes; and my 2021 Commonplace Book that I haven’t quite worked on this year.
Obviously, I don’t take them all out at once, I just pick and choose what I’m going to work on if I’m in my writer mode. In the picture above, it’s my set up for my long-standing fantasy project and the bones of my second poetry collection.
Nathan Tardif is an interesting man. A very outspoken New Englander with strong Libertarian convictions, he runs his entire organization by (mostly) himself. Makes ink. Sells the ink. Packages the ink.
I think that’s pretty neat. I also think it’s pretty neat that he has an incredible ink variety. And that he sometimes does things like challenge researchers to erase his strongest archival ink and once they do, turns around and creates an ink so permanent it’ll outlast Chabelo and Keith Richards.
It was a Noodler’s ink that first showed me all the dimensions that ink could potentially have. I went to Dromgooles, Houston’s only fountain pen-centric store and only store in the state that employs an ink sommelier. I asked for some recommendations and he told me about Noodler’s Rome is Burning.
And then he showed me.
This ink has a decent shading, behaves well, is mostly waterproof, and when it gets wet the gold wash turns the ink purple.
I didn’t pack my test strips correctly so I’m only testing it out on 3 papers, and the pen I used was a TWSBI Eco with an M nib.
The other great thing about Noodler’s is that they’re some of the most affordable inks out there. You can get two Noodler’s for the price of a single Pilot Iroshizukiu or Sailor 50 states.