Retro Dip Pen Writing

Dip pen and ink for blog

I recently read that writing by hand has all sorts of benefits for your brain, which is really no surprise. It seems to be in the news more lately since schools have begun dropping cursive from the curriculum. I have begun an experiment on this theory. I am writing book 2 of my Domina Lumen series using the dip pen and ink well you see in the photo. I’m on chapter 5 and so far, I like using the pen very much!

Abysmal Canyon, book 1, was written on my laptop and that was okay, but I was concerned about how many hours I was staring at a computer screen and the blessed distractions of the internet were a problem now and then. I also felt a disconnect – sort of like the difference between drawing with a pencil where you feel the vibrations of the lines being dragged across the paper compared to drawing in a computer graphics program where there’s no feeling except for clutching a mouse or electronic pen that “draws” on an electronic pad that “draws” on the screen.

I started this experiment with a regular ball point pen, but that didn’t feel special enough or worthy of the manual effort. I tried fancier, more expensive pens, but still no magic. So I went back to the Dark Ages (well, not quite -this isn’t a quill pen) and immediately felt a connection. I use the dip pen for drawing sometimes, so the artist in me was pleased and since book 2 is in a medieval world, I felt a sudden kinship with Ysolde, my protagonist, as if she were doing the writing by candle light in a thatch roofed cottage deep in the forest.

Handwriting, regardless of instrument, has it’s advantages. There’s a feeling of satisfaction when I get to the bottom of each page and add it manually to the slow growing pile. If I need to look back at something, I just pick up the page without having to scroll to look for it. I can lean on the table with one hand under my chin while I write. I can doodle when I’m thinking. I can immediately underline or circle words I know need more attention or make notes in the margins. I’m free to be messy and creative and maybe even a better writer.

Initially, I thought the ink would be a pain to manage, especially since I’m left-handed and major smearage (new word) was possible as my hand dragged along in the wet ink, BUT that hasn’t been the case. The ink dries so quickly I haven’t had any problems. I thought I would have to continually keep dipping the pen in the well, but no, amazingly, one good dip will last the entire page length!  I get a peculiar calming effect from dipping the pen. It’s a very Zen – “Be Here Now” kind of feeling. The only negative I’ve found is the obvious – that I can’t just delete/backspace/retype over a section. But that hasn’t slowed me down. The pen flows quickly and will write as fast as I can scribble. I am more thoughtful about what I scratch out with the pen and just knowing that that sentence will still be there if I decide it wasn’t so bad after all is a comfort.

Despite my new attachment to the dip pen, I’m not a total convert. My laptop will have its day again and be very welcome. It is a phenomenal machine and  a blessing compared to the clunky manual typewriter I  had to use in college that always typed the “e” a little higher than the rest of the letters. When I finish this first draft, I may type it into the laptop to edit or I may edit by hand again then type it. I know I have many revisions ahead, regardless of whether the words are on paper or a memory stick. But it’s been a fun ride so far.

If you’re looking for a fresh new way to write, you might give the old way a try – just for kicks. You might actually like it!

Goodreads Book Giveaway

I’m having a Goodreads Giveaway for a signed paperback of my book, Abysmal Canyon. It ends June 20th. For more information, please see the link below. Thanks!

Goodreads Book Giveaway

Abysmal Canyon by M.E. Neidhardt

Abysmal Canyon

by M.E. Neidhardt

Released August 22 2015

Giveaway ends in 9 days (June 20, 2016)

1 copy available, 272 people requesting

giveaway details »

Enter Giveaway

Free Ebook Promotion!

Amazon link to my book ~

I am offering the ebook version of my sci-fi fantasy novel, Abysmal Canyon, for FREE starting this Friday, May 27 through May 31!  I have signed up on many websites for this promo, so we’ll see how it goes! I am also planning to giveaway several copies of the print version through the Goodreads Giveaway program soon after the free ebook promo is over. I will post here when I set the dates for the print book giveaway. Cheers!

Here is a summary of Abysmal Canyon ~

Fast-paced, action-packed new adult and college tale with crystals, divination, ancient lore, new worlds, supernatural humanoids, intrigue, romance and a plot that will keep you guessing!

When Ysolde Hartmaan starts to head off to her new life at college, tragedy strikes. She is suddenly plunged into a dark world full of mystery and terror where her unreliable divination skills will mean the difference between life and death. Ysolde learns she is the heir to an ancient legacy – a legacy which could be the deciding factor in a centuries old war between two races of energy entities, the Lumen and the Vapors. Teamed with a handsome Lumen as her guardian, Ysolde’s attraction to him grows strong, but romance must wait. Her duty to banish the Vapors and prevent a mass extraterrestrial invasion is pitted against her love and loyalty to her family as she learns to accept the threats and obligations of her new title- Domina Lumen.

New Book Cover for Abysmal Canyon

Well, after MANY different designs and gathering opinions, I have finally created the cover I think works best for my book. Thank you to those who gave opinions about the other designs I had up on this blog for a while. The new cover is now on the book on Amazon and hopefully, it will be more attractive to my target audience (18-24 year olds).

Introducing “Von” from my novel, Abysmal Canyon.

Von cropped contrast 10 brightness -10 smaller

Von is a Lumen, which is a positive energy entity. He can take on a human form, which you see here. He is the guardian for the Domina Lumen (Lady of the Lumen or Light), who happens to be Ysolde. There is a definite attraction that grows between the two. I am fairly happy with this depiction of him. His eyes are a very light, silver blue. His hair is long and white. He wears it either pulled back or loose as above (my preference). He has a bit of the High Elf look with the long white hair and he is tall, strong and proud. But he’s not as refined in dress, nor does he have the High Elf eyes or ears. And no, he’s not related to Fabio. haha

Introducing “Ysolde” from my novel, Abysmal Canyon

Ysolde cropped brightness -15 and contrast 24 smaller

I’ve been working on a sketch of “Ysolde,” the 18-year-old protagonist from my novel. I think I have her face pretty much how I envisioned it. I’m going to try to do sketches of some of the main characters and post them here as well as some scenes from the book. Also started doing serious plotting for book 2 in the series, which will be a fantasy medieval setting. Lots of fun! 🙂

Ysolde Nightingale Hartmaan is a dowser who becomes the Domina Lumen (Lady of the Lumen or Light). She has long dark blonde hair and a fair complexion. She’s a little shorter than average height and slender in build. She dowses either with the crystal pendant she wears or body dowses. She’s kind of a solitary, free spirit until she becomes burdened with her new title.

*I updated the drawing just a tad and added my name and date, which I’d forgotten to do before.


Book is in print, finally!

My book, Abysmal Canyon, is now in print and for sale on Amazon. It took longer than I had anticipated to review, edit (once again for the umpteenth time!) and polish 2 separate proof copies and make the necessary adjustments. To make sure my older Kindle version matched the print book, I made the changes to it as well.  The story is the same as when the Kindle version first came out in August, but I did add/change/delete some minor content. After a few months of working on my labor of love, I finally came to a point when I had to stop being such a helicopter mom and let my “child” fly on its own. So there it is and now it’s time to start working on book 2. 🙂

First Print Proof Reviewed, Now Waiting for Second Proof

My first proof of my book, Abysmal Canyon, arrived last week. I cannot tell you what a mind-blowing feeling it was to hold it in my hands. The end result of three years of work. And while  I know I am new to writing novels and have a long way to go, the feeling of accomplishment was overwhelming. The down side was that it had a few errors.  I reviewed the text along with another reader and we found a margin that was off and a few typos that had slipped past multiple reads and edits.  The cover needed work, as well. It came out way darker than the image I sent in. You could not tell there was a canyon image on the front at all.  So, I researched the best way to lighten the cover and did that (at least it looks lighter…we’ll see how it prints), then fixed the text errors and re-uploaded the book this past Friday. Now CreateSpace is reviewing it again for formatting, which it should pass, then they will send me a link to the book online which I will review. THEN, if all goes well, I will order another proof. The proofs are not very expensive, but the process is time consuming. My new goal date for the printed book to be up and for sale on Amazon will be no later than mid-November. And at that time, I will update the Kindle version so they both match. I’ll keep you posted!

Black Canyon of the Gunnison – The inspiration for my book, Abysmal Canyon


another view of v black canyon

This is the canyon that inspired my book, Abysmal Canyon. I took these photos while hiking there. The canyon is a national park near Gunnison, CO. It is one of the steepest canyons in North America. When you stand on one of the overlooks (if you dare!), your stomach goes to your throat as you look straight down at the sheer canyon walls to the Gunnison River below. Strong wind drafts from below could pull you into the abyss if you leave the protection of the railing. Black gypsum and tall, jagged rock formations like sharp fangs rise up from the bottom and give the canyon a sinister feel. Peregrine falcons swoop through the canyon leaving their trailing screeches echoing in the wind. It is a magical, mysterious place with a strong negative energy vibe. I highly recommend it if you are ever in that area.


Abysmal Canyon, Book 1 of the Domina Lumen series is on Amazon now!

My first novel, which was conceived over 3 years ago, has finally been born! Abysmal Canyon – Book 1 of the Domina Lumen series. It’s a young adult/new adult sci-fi/fantasy/paranormal story. The Kindle ebook was published in August, 2015 and now the print book is available, as of Dec. 5, 2015. Both are for sale on Amazon.

Note –*** This cover is an updated version of the old one. I published this new cover on 4/15/16 on Amazon.

Here is a link to my Amazon author page for the book –

If you read my book (thank you!) and you like it, please consider leaving a little feedback on Amazon and/or Goodreads. I would greatly appreciate the support! Thanks!
Abysmal Canyon (Domina Lumen #1)