fountain pens

Writing Contest Winner Announced!

Okay, it wasn't exactly a writing contest, though you did have to write a comment.  But, somehow that headline sounded better than anything else I could come up with.  So, are you ready to know the winner?

Drum roll, please…..

Every time I hear that phrase I think of the scene in the movie National Lampoon's Christmas Vacation where Chevy Chase has spent the whole day and half the night covering every inch of his house with Christmas lights.  The moment for the big reveal has come.  It is time to plug in the lights.  He gathers his entire family, parents, and in-laws, and kids included, and asks for a drum roll, with which his wife, Beverly D'Angelo (whatever happened to her?  I like her*) obliges him, rolling her tongue against her teeth.

And then nothing happens.  The lights don't work.

But don't worry, I'm not going to do that to you here.  And I've kept you waiting long enough.  So, once again, the winner of the contest for the Pilot fountain pens is…..

Zan Marie!


Just so you know I did this randomly and fairly and squarely, I used the random name generator at a site that, as far as I can tell, teachers use to choose their students.  Whatever it is used for, it is simple and it works great.

Zan Marie, email me with your home address so I can get you those pens.  And, by the way, Nicole Wolverton, you're my winner from last week.  I need  you to contact me so that I can send you the Moleskine journal.

And stay tuned!  Next Monday I'll be announcing another contest with a special gift for writers.  In the meantime, if you feel like chatting, how's your Christmas shopping going?  Are you done or just starting?

*According to YouTube, there's a new short film in the Vacation series coming out in February, with Chevy and Beverly.

**Don't forget to sign up for my free newsletter by filling in the form to the right.  You'll also receive a free ebook about creating a vision board for your book.


Writerly Gifts, Week Two

Last week, I gave away a journal in which to write your brilliant ideas, plots, character arcs and stories.  Now you need something with which to write those wonderful bits.  And so, behold: a set of disposable fountain pens.

51f+OBb5nmL._SL500_AA300_I love these pens.  They have the feel of a fine fountain pen, yet you don't have to keep stopping to refill them.  They don't blot as regular fountain pens sometimes do.  They make a grand subtle scratching noise as you write, reminding you that you are, indeed, writing.  Since they are disposable, you don't have to worry about misplacing them, as I always do when using one of my good fountain pens. And, perhaps best of all, they come in colors.  There's nothing I love better in the world than pens in different colors (except maybe my new grandson.)

What I write with is as important as what I write on.  No garden variety ball point pens for me.  My pens have to feel right when I hold them, with a good heft in the hand (but not be too bulky, which makes them awkward to hold).  And the ink has to flow smoothly and well.  Which is why I tend to favor gel ink or fountain pens.

Eons ago, I read Natalie Goldberg's seminal book, Writing Down the Bones, and, at least in my memory, she mentioned disposable fountain pens.  Back in those days, you could buy them individually at the grocery store.  And I did, by the dozens.  But then my source disappeared and I was  bereft.  Suffering withdrawal symptoms, I was forced to put up with less elegant everyday pens. So I was  thrilled when I found this set of disposable fountain pens a couple of years ago at the University of Oregon bookstore, when visiting friends in Eugene.  (Another reason the memory of finding those pens is so dear to me is that the friend I visited took her own life a year later.  Such is the power of emotion in our lives.)

And so now I offer a set to you.  Well, to one of you.  All you have to do is answer one of these questions in the comments section: is what you write with important to you?  If so, what is your favorite pen? (I'm always in the market for more selections.)

PS:  Last week's winner was Nicole Wolverton.  Nicole, email me so I can get your address.

PPS: I announce good things like this contest as well as classes and so forth on my newsletter.  To sign up for it, just fill out the form on the right.  You'll also get a copy of my super-duper Ebook about creating a vision board for your book or writing project.

Oh, and a final note:  I'm not in any way affiliated with the Pilot Pen company, I just like their products.  Except if they wanted to sponsor me so I could give away tons of their pens, I would not complain at all.

Taking a Break

Last weekend, I left home for a night to head south to Eugene, home of my alma mater, the University of Oregon (Go, Ducks!).Waterslide-watershoot-oregon-2580145-l

This may shock you–it shocked me–but I didn't even turn on my computer the entire time I was gone.   And I had a blast.   We ate at Rennie's and the Glenwood, two old favorites, stayed at the New Oregon motel, shopped at the U of O bookstore and the wonderful local yarn shop, walked along both sides of the Willamette river, and went to a surprise birthday party at fabulous house.  All in 24 hours.

I came home refreshed and with a slightly different outlook on life, which is what getting away will do for you.  Yet I don't do this often enough.  Yes, I travel a lot, mostly to Nashville and LA, but that is always at least partially for work.  Heading out for a night or two nights just for fun is an entirely different animal, and one I like. 

So, this may be as shocking as not turning on my computer for 24 hours, but now I'm going to advocate the benefits of taking a break from your writing.  And by taking a break, I mean taking a break break, like a mini get-away, or an afternoon off to wander by the lake.  Maybe you could think of it as an extended Artist's Date, the activity Julia Cameron urges everyone to partake in. 

Whether you decide to go for a big break or a small break, some time off can have a salutary effect on your brain, and since writing comes from the brain, by extension a break can have a great impact on your work.  So, herewith, my list of Reasons Why You Should Take a Break:

Because it clears your mind.  And, I don't know about you, but mine usually needs clearing, bad.  I get into this one-with-the-computer mentality wherein I sit and work for hours.  As part of my new program to take breaks more often, I'm also going to take mini-breaks, and get up from my desk every half hour.

Because it opens new vistas.  Just seeing different stuff is good for the brain.  And it's great for writing, because the writing muscle strengthens with new input.

Because it reminds you of what is important.  Like spending time with family and friends and gazing at the river.  Having a beer with lunch and finding fountain pens–a whole amazing, lovely set of them–at the bookstore.   Looking for nutrias in the Millrace and hanging out in the motel room just because it is fun to be there.

Because it refills the well.  Come back to writing after taking a break and suddenly the words fly across the page.  Why?  Because you've refilled the well, which easily gets depleted if all you do is pull from it.  Once in a while, you need to put stuff back in.

Because sometimes we just need to be, not always do.  Enough said.

Because it energizes you and makes you eager to get back to your life.  The best thing about leaving is coming home, right?  And even better to come home full of ideas and energy.  And with fountain pens.

What are your favorite ways to take breaks from writing?

***Photo by d70focus, courtesy of Flickr, via Everystockphoto, my go-to place for pix.