writing

All posts tagged writing

Antique Fountain Pens: where to buy and how to use them.

Published September 30, 2016 by AntiqueMystique1

Writing is difficult enough as is nowadays. Can you imagine that somewhere during 1955 through the 60s all public school children were taught how to use a fountain pen and ink well? According to one such tutorial website I gleaned some helpful insight into the often ignored bygone use of a fountain pen.

Oh… are those the fancy quill pens with a beautiful, graceful feather, right?

 

Well, okay, maybe those can be included too…but I was more inclined to add the Calligraphy pen/ fountain pen, and one thing that had always piqued my interest was whenever my great grandmother would write me snail mail letters. She would always write in this extremely fine penmanship that was lost to my generation. How can I describe her penmanship? It was dainty-like. Her cursive always straight even in cards and pages that weren’t notebook paper. Her penmanship was always graceful and it  always garnered my interest. It was always the same ‘sepia-tone’ brown ink, sort of faded that I knew wasn’t possible from a standard ball point pen. And I knew that no writing pen no matter how cheap or crappy could produce such eye-catching legible lines. In fact, it had me so curious and I never did ask in my letters to my great grandmother what type of pen and brand of ink she used. And for the life of me, I don’t know why I never asked. I only recall one time when she wrote to me in pencil and that was something that was very out of character for my great grandmother to do when corresponding in all the years we wrote to each other. I knew then something wasn’t right and my intuition was correct, sadly.

When my great grandmother could no longer write me back, I continued to write to her (wishing, hoping and praying) for a response only to no avail. By this point I had no idea how badly her mental health had declined. I was kept in the dark about a lot of the horrendous details of what went on while she was still alive. She required the assistance of a caregiver who didn’t look after her well at all. Were my letters thrown in the trash unread? I began to think to myself. They were getting delivered to somebody since I never had one returned to me during the entire time, so who knows.

I was intrigued, and me being… well, me wanted to teach myself this lost form of fountain pen penmanship, and as luck would have it, I purchased an old antique Palmer’s fountain pen writing instruction red soft-cover book. The book had been around with black ink stains on the cover, and a partial missing corner from its cover. I was missing two more things: a fountain pen and ink. The ink I use is India ink and a very helpful antique store owner told me to always water down the ink with cold water prior to use or else the nib of the fountain pen will get gummed up and the writing won’t appear as fluent nor clean, and always allow the page to completely dry first before folding it and cramming it into an envelope. I thanked the antique store owner (her name is Carol), but she couldn’t help me track down a bottle of brown ink and didn’t know if any even existed or not. So, the curiosity regarding where my great grandmother’s mysterious ‘sepia-toned’ brown ink came from will forever remain a mystery since my great grandmother is no longer alive to tell me or even show me.

It still didn’t stop me from picking up something a new form of long lost writing. And oh yes, I LOVE to write. I love it so much that I’m known to write incredibly long snail mail letters to family and friends and always have loved doing so. I’ve been told by strangers even that my penmanship is beautiful, graceful and very legible.

“Legible?” I think to myself. “Why wouldn’t my penmanship be otherwise?”

And here again my quest for knowledge was never-ending and I wanted to know why. I don’t ask, silly me. 😛

Instead, the answers I sought was a long time in coming, but eventually I would see why. I see a younger generation’s writing and doesn’t just stun me, it makes me nervous. It makes me crook my eyebrow and scrutinize every word and line. I cool it on my inner need to ‘proofread’ what they wrote. That isn’t part of my job requirements, but making sense of their writing is important, and if I can’t understand it, then miscommunication often occurs. And not to down on anybody that was born during the 1980s and are part of the millennial crowd, but boy howdy, I never knew chicken scratch was a perquisite to learning how to read and write while in elementary school nowadays. Actually, most of it I can’t even say is chicken scratch, it’s likened to pre-school scribbling and its coming from a twenty-something youngster.

So maybe it will sound as though I’m being hard on these millennials, but their writing is atrocious. Any English teacher would cringe if they saw it turned in on a hand-written assignment and their butts would be served to them on a silverplate platter because of it.

In my line of work I have to jot down any information that would be pertinent if ever a situation arises while I’m on the clock. There are days when nothing happens, and then there’s the hectic days where anything can happen and it needs to be logged.

And then there’s the pre-school scribbles that often appears and misspelled words. I try to decipher it the best I can, but the writing is often very illegible. Now I see why I’m told my penmanship is legible and this is thanks in part to my older brother who taught me cursive writing when I was young as four or five years old. Yes, that young believe it or not because he didn’t want me to go through life not knowing how to read or write since public schools would barely cover the bare bone basics of reading, writing, and arithmetic (a bygone name for mathematics). My older brother was already in school at the time and was a few grades a head of me.

In retrospect, I sincerely believe we came from the last generation that was taught cursive writing when it was still being taught in public schools during the 1980s. I later read that anybody that attended public school post 1955-60s lost out on learning how to use a fountain pen and ink well though. And it brings me back to the antique writing instruments of yesteryear. They can range in price from a dollar on up to a few hundred. And it depends on the make of fountain pen and when it was produced.

When I attended college in 2013 (per my course requirement), I had to log into a message board to converse with the instructor and fellow students, and while on there, somebody chimed in how excited they were to receive a fancy pen with a very fluent, sensitive response. Well, they weren’t talking about a pen you write with. They referred to a stylus pen for their Kindle or some other technological touch-screen device.

I barely batted an eyelash when I figured out it was a pen for a touch screen device.

I don’t get all s**** and giggles over technology. In fact, I don’t find myself running out to buy the newest updated computer setup. I don’t have any new generation Kindles on my wish list and all of my stylus touch-screen pens came straight from the Dollar Tree where everything’s a dollar. However, I do collect antique fountain pens and antique ink wells. Some are very basic heavy glass, I’d say likely used in the rural public schools way, way back when. And other ink wells I have are slightly more fancy with a pen holder and two ink wells with silver caps. And another one I turned up recently has a brass design around it. I don’t know the specific dates when these ink wells were produced, but the fancier ones I’d guess were produced in the 1800s or very early 1900s. The basic no bells or whistles ink wells could likely date anywhere in that same time frame. The antique fountain pens I have scattered in an old wooden cigar box are plastic with brass nibs, which tells me they were produced post- 1930’s probably in the 60s or 70s maybe. I have about four or five fountain pens that go way back to the early 1900s and these I didn’t acquire all at once. I would occasionally run across them in the antique stores from time to time, and if they appealed to me, I’d buy them. At least fountain pens are a light-weight antique item to collect unlike my Bavaria porcelain dishes and silverplate.

And so I’ve returned to practicing my fountain pen writing. This is something I enjoy doing in my spare time when I can make the time that is. I do it mostly for fun nowadays and I’ve read that it isn’t so much what you write but how you hold the pen which is balanced on your knuckles and not clutched between the thumb and index finger. It was awkward for me to try at first, but once I quickly got accustomed to it, my writing was less complicated and flowed onto the page a lot easier. And this is all for my blog about antique fountain pens and ink wells. If interested I’m sure places like eBay, Etsy, and Ruby Lane might have fountain pens and ink wells for sale. Thanks as always for reading, liking, blogging, commenting and sharing. I truly appreciate it.  🙂

Character worksheets and creating vampires.

Published October 2, 2015 by AntiqueMystique1

Well, looks like it might be back to the old drawing board as the saying goes. In the last couple of days I’ve had a lot of fun creating vampires and fictional locations for my self-published stories. What does it mean to fill out a character worksheet? It means you get a visual idea of what your character is all about: what they like, dislike, love, their favorite things to do and so on.

But the hardest part was finding a few pictures to ‘visualize’ what my vampire characters might look like. Then I had the fun (and daunting) task of morphing each photo into what I would think my vampires would appear (physically). I don’t have photoshop, so I had to do the next best thing and run all the pictures through an inexpensive photo shop-like program, play with the effects, colors and opacity levels and the end result? I believe I created some awesome vampires with what I had at my disposal. I’m doing this so when I go back into revise my stories I can glance at the worksheets and know exactly who goes where and get an idea of their emotions, what they’re doing, etc.

Right now I am repeat offender of writing in the “God point of view”. Instead of having a character say something I write it in the ‘third person’ which there’s nothing wrong with that, per se, it just shows that I don’t read much.

It would help if I would read—like really sit down and crack open a book. I do plan to find another set of the Vampire Files (by P.N. Elrod, one of my favorite authors), and actually take a step away from writing and begin by reading. How do the scenes flow? How do the characters interact with each other, what’s the basis of the story, what’s the plot about and most importantly, make it flow in chronological order.

When I write… I get inspired or get an idea stuck in my head and feel the overwhelming need to write it down not on scrap paper or even in my notebook, I write it into the story and that’s good if I’m planning to write back material, but I’m not. I’m trying to write a story.

But the character worksheets are a lot of fun! I believe I created no less than ten pages. I still plan to pack my camera with me and take some pictures of a few places, then weave these into my stories. One great thing when you write about fictional towns, residences, and cities, you pretty much write the laws. Yep, if you want your character to ride their bike on the sidewalk and not have to worry about receiving a ticket or a warning, you can write pretty much anything. In real life, (as I’m sure its law everywhere), you can’t ride a bike on a sidewalk, especially not in a downtown district. Recently where I live they put in bike paths and you won’t guess where. The new bike paths are right in front of on-coming traffic, and the city planners brought these paths out so far into the narrow streets that it also hampers motorists who may need to park by the curb.

Thankfully I don’t ride a bicycle anymore. However, I do drive so I’m always extremely cautious when driving around town. I feel the bike paths are a danger not just to the bicyclist, but also to the motorist as well. Oh, yeah, and the city planners also decided to run the bike paths right into the turn lanes, so when you need to make a turn, you may not see the bicyclist until they are right up beside you and since riding on the sidewalks is against the law, I’m waiting to see if these new bike paths will be removed, or what they plan to do about it. So far its received a lot of complaints. I assume this is ‘liberals’ at work.

The good thing about writing is you can make up any law and run with it in a story. And I do apologize if I went off topic there. Main thing is my writing and revising is far from over with. I do plan to leave all my stories up on Smashwords and Kindle Direct in the meantime until I am completely done going through my stories. Then I will upload brand new copies. I’ve also been kicking around some more ideas and really want to change a few scenes in my stories that I would like to expand on. As always thank you so much for liking, re-blogging, sharing, commenting, tweeting, I sincerely appreciate it. 🙂

Sequel to Abide with Me is finished!

Published September 25, 2015 by AntiqueMystique1

99, 403 is some marathon writing! Whew!

But…

It’s not over yet, not by a long shot. There’s A LOT of editing, revising, formatting, book description– thank god, I already designed the cover ahead of time.

This vampire sequel took me approximately five months, many late hours of writing—contemplating in a Cathedral— (not at night, though), working, tweeting on the side, and clacking the keys in my spare time.

What’s the vampire sequel about? Without giving it away, it deals with vampires. There’s some good vs. evil parts, some sex scenes– which, let’s face it, those are difficult to convey in writing sometimes and still capture the passion, romance, and all five senses of sight, touch, taste, hearing, smell– yeah, I forgot to weave those in. I don’t know how erotica and romance authors write steamy sex scenes and manage to really pull the reader in. Visualizing it as though you’re watching a movie, is one thing, trying to put it into words and make it flow is difficult.

This new vampire sequel ties in with Abide With Me, my first vampire story. I heard that some author’s like to put prologues into a sequel, kind of give the reader an idea of where the first story left off. And it boggles my mind. I also never inserted chapters into any of my previous stories which again, makes the story hard to read. I rely heavily on page breaks to start each new scene.

Yes, I broke the 80,000 word count “novella”. And I do believe, this staggering word count exceeds Abide With Me. Then somebody pointed out that they couldn’t find any tags for Abide With Me on Amazon. Therefore, I went to Amazon, fiddled with uploading some tags, and don’t know how authors get away with adding four or five tags. For example,

Fiction: occult, horror, supernatural
Fiction, horror, occult, vampires
Fiction, romance, undead, occult, horror

I tried to find these other categories with the specific “undead” and “vampires” included in the tags and had no luck. I could only select two: Fiction: occult, horror, supernatural and Fiction: occult and horror.

Well, that bites.

For some odd reason in the cosmos that I can’t begin to understand or come to a rational conclusion about, I cannot add these specific tags of Fiction: horror, supernatural, romance, undead, vampires so therefore, Abide With Me can’t be found in a romance section of Amazon.

What I am doing is working on the next step: adding in a book description right under the title. Yep, a book description so readers can view at a glance what the story will be about. I have never, ever seen a book description right before the start of any story. Then again I’m looking at paperback novels, not e-books. Plus it helps to add in a book description when kindle readers snap up a lot of titles at once.

Well, that’s a new one on me. And while on the topic of marathon word counts—(I cringe that I didn’t see this before self-publishing) I am going through Times of the Past and cleaning up all the corrupt file errors that magically (and mysteriously) appeared when I uploaded this story on Kindle Direct and Smashwords.

I began writing Times of the Past back in 2003 on a very outdated Word program using Windows ME edition. Then I received a new computer, so I transferred that rough draft onto Windows Vista. I was somewhat up to speed with Word pad, but again, the file was extremely corrupt. So I had to again revise my original story, and change a few things. I like my font set at 12 New Times Roman, but nope, my new computer decides it will make it very tiny and difficult to read, then it goes into some god awful sentence in another font… backspace, and everything returns to normal Times New Roman font. And then, I get a new computer in 2013 and again, the transfer is more than my labor of love can handle. I’m unaware that files do get corrupted and then stories appear to have been written using two different styles of font using three or more different settings. It’s crazy sometimes.

See the beautiful world of writing that authors and writers deal with on computers? It’s a lot faster than hen-pecking glass typewriter keys and far better than digging for correcting paper, a bottle of white out, and a dictionary. Oh, yes, and writing the old fashioned way didn’t give these billion choices for different fonts and you had to know how to double space in manuscript form on a typewriter (if you wanted to publish something in print) which was probably very frustrating I can imagine. And then there’s trouble when you run out of ribbon for the typewriter and can’t purchase another spool for that particular make and model… I sympathize with writers and authors of yesteryear that hammered the keys on manual and electric typewriters.

So I applied my massive brain power to make a very concerted effort to correct all mistakes and font changes, punctuation as I find them in Times of the Past. On Amazon it is still being updated for the right tags. I did add in undead, vampires, romance to the key words so I hope this helps. And really need to do the same to the Smashwords versions.

This current sequel I hope will have all those mistakes in punctuation and extra letters that don’t belong corrected when I run the story through paragraph return. That’s how I’m able to catch all these mistakes that aren’t visible when writing in Word pad.

Again, thanks for reading, sharing, liking, commenting, tweeting, re-blogging. I sincerely appreciate it. 🙂

Velvet Blue and My Father’s Son short story series of mine.

Published September 16, 2015 by AntiqueMystique1

velvet blue cover - 1600 pixels for smashwords

Velvet Blue on Amazon and Velvet Blue on Smashwords.

Also, the sequel to this is My Father’s Son on Smashwords. This sequel is also available on Amazon: My Father’s Son

my fathers son cover1400 2400As always thanks for liking, sharing, re-blogging, tweeting, commenting, etc. I sincerely appreciate it. 🙂

Abide with Me book.

Published September 16, 2015 by AntiqueMystique1

Writing, updating, more revisions… other website takes forever to update and load new content. So, here it is: a list of my books and short stories along with links where to buy them. I figure wordpress is faster than the other website I was trying to use and update which ran at a snail pace.

Abide with Me took me nine years to write and an additional two more years or so to self-publish. It was my first labor of love. I started out with the concept of a ‘good guy’ vampire romance that was geared around being a little old-fashioned and set in modern times. Then I wasn’t happy with how the original rough draft read and totally overhauled it and gave a twist on the religious aspect that I have yet to see in any vampire book or movie. I just didn’t see or read about any good guy vampires other than watching a few episodes of Forever Knight when it originally aired. I was getting burned out seeing vampires nowadays being portrayed as these demonic-looking creatures with no compassion, passion, good guy personalities, or even sensuality. They’re inherently evil, let’s not forget, but…

“What became of Frank Langella, George Hamilton, or even Barnabas Collins (late, great Jonathan Frid) type of vampires in modern culture?” I thought to myself. Therefore, I was determined to create my own good guy vampires. I didn’t add in the religion until about a year before I self-published Abide with Me and really began to flesh out my characters and where I wanted to see them go as they evolved.

Abide with Me available at Amazon and Abide with Me on Smashwords. Enjoy and as always, thank you for re-tweeting, liking, re-blogging, sharing, commenting, etc. I sincerely appreciate it. 🙂

Abide with Me book cover.

Abide with Me book cover.

A Dangerous Tune is out and available for purchase, but…

Published September 12, 2015 by AntiqueMystique1

Don’t expect A Dangerous Tune on Weebly. I don’t plan to be updating that particular site because its extremely slow and very frustrating to use. I have to add two things in a drag and drop method: the text and then a picture box.  And when I mean slow, I mean you can cook a three course meal, clean house, run some errands and the page you’re working on still hasn’t done much.

I opted for the free version of Weebly so I can’t expect much. My PC is running fine so its not an outdated issue effecting this particular website’s extreme snail pace problem. I just simply give up when trying to add new stories, books and book covers on there and don’t have time to just waste three hours or more waiting for the page to load. Sometimes nothing comes in, then I have to close out the browser and re-open it at least four times. I try to have everything written in advance. This way all I have to do is copy and paste. But the font isn’t right. The title can’t be changed once you think of one to add and that’s another headache I get when trying to update my Weebly site. Sure, I can go back in and re-write everything in the text box until my heart’s content. Therefore, if those of you want to snag a version of fellow indie author Evan Asher’s book, here it is:

The trouble begins when Kristol inherits her grandma’s antique phonographs
A DANGEROUS TUNE
https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/576044
#books #romance #suspense

A dangerous tune smashwords coverEnjoy and as always, thank you for re-tweeting, liking, re-blogging, sharing, commenting, etc. I sincerely appreciate it. A sincere thank you! also goes out to Evan as well. Thanks for allowing me to be your co-author. 🙂

Those pesky extra ” marks and other annoying things your Kindle will display…

Published September 4, 2015 by AntiqueMystique1

I turned on paragraph return. I skimmed through just the first three pages of my Abide with Me cleaning up the extra ” marks that shouldn’t have feasibly found their way into my dialog, but they do and still continue to do so. My mind is numb from all this writing. I’m pulling double duty trying to add the finishing touches to my vampire sequel and being co-author for another story. My eyes are strained and it’s late. I keep working away and take frequent breaks. I skim through my stories on my Kindle to catch mistakes.

What is it with formatting? I feel there should be one universal word pad document that can be uploaded without problems. Trying to nit-pick those extra quotations marks and extra letters and the annoying fused together “ae” leaves me scratching my head as I try to realize why, after I went through the story a billion times, these little oddities in the writing realm keep showing up on the uploaded versions. I don’t want readers to think, “Aw, man… she can’t edit!” Show me one author that has perfect, flawless uploads and I will be impressed. I’m sure this happens to the best of them. I clack the keys. My finger seldom tire, but boy howdy!, the editing process is tiresome.

I don’t disregard the editing process. That’s vital to make a good story (actually any kind of writing) come to life. I just wish there was a faster process to catching and correcting all these annoyances without having to manually scroll through every page, read every line, and double-check the paragraphs.