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!

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.

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. 🙂

Book Proof is On the Way!

Day before yesterday I uploaded my book cover files and interior text files for Abysmal Canyon to CreateSpace for review. I did all the designing and formatting myself, which was a real chore, but using the CS templates helped to keep me sane. This was my first time to go through this process.  I know (hope) it will get easier. I took copious notes…

Yesterday my files were approved by CS and I saw what my book will look like, which was exciting! I ordered a couple of proof copies for myself and another reader to review. They should arrive in the mail sometime next week. If the proof looks good, then I will give the okay for the book to be put on Amazon for sale. It will appear on the same page as the Kindle version, which is already up. I’ll update when the book is actually up for sale.

Book is Almost Ready for Printing

I am almost finished formatting and designing my book, Abysmal Canyon, for print. I thought formatting it for the Kindle version was hard – Ha!! The print version is completely different as far as font, spacing, margins, pagination, size of the book, book cover design, etc. I’m using CreateSpace, a print-on-demand company owned by Amazon. They have templates, tutorials, forums and there are lots of videos on the internet to help, but it is still crazy stressful trying to do it all yourself and hope by the grace of the universe that it looks halfway professional. I believe I have it all in place now. I used books of the same genre as guides. I’ll be putting my interior files and book cover both in the required PDF form today, which is a little unnerving because I’m hoping that doesn’t just throw everything out of whack. It’s not supposed to IF done properly… *sigh… Then, if all goes well and it still looks good, I will upload the PDF files to CreateSpace and wait for their approval. When that comes – and I don’t know how long that takes assuming they give me the green light – I will order a proof copy of the book to see it in my own hands, read it and make sure it looks good -THEN if that is a go, I’ll put it up on Amazon with my Kindle version. If not, I’ll make the changes and re-upload it. I’m thinking the book will be a little easier to market when I have actual copies to show, although marketing for me will never be “easy.” So – Whew!! Cross your fingers, toes, arms and legs that it all goes well. I’ll keep you posted.

Thank you, Len!

Len Leatherwood, a dear friend of mine and amazingly insightful blogger, editor, writer and writing coach, to name just a few of the feathers in her cap, featured my book, Abysmal Canyon, on her blog yesterday with a list of interview questions and answers. This is my first blog interview and I am so extremely appreciative of her support. Thank you, Len!

To see my interview PLUS read Len’s wonderful daily comments about life, her writings and find out more about her editorial and writing coach services, check out her blog, Twenty Minutes a Day: A Step Towards a Balanced Life

The Secret Code

There is definitely a secret code to marketing which I am nowhere near cracking. The internet is packed with ebooks about how to sell your book by the millions and be an overnight success. Of course, I know it’s not that easy and I also know writing those type of books is its own form of marketing strategy for those authors. I am currently in the deep fog of trying to decipher which code is the one that will unlock the fate of my new book. Watching my sales is like trying to lose weight – you’ve researched, bought books, asked friends, eaten the magic food, exercised daily, denied yourself yummy pleasures and on and on then you step on the scales with great expectations and instead of losing weight, you’ve gained! And there you stand, naked, staring at those damn scales wondering what the heck is going on. I can only imagine that this is where having a publisher really comes in handy. But mark my word -I will prevail – just as soon as I find my Cracker Jack decoder ring.

Steep Learning Curve

Having just published my first novel, I am now inundated with the steep learning curve of marketing! This is not a strength of mine, but when I decided to publish on Amazon, I made the commitment to do whatever I could to get my book “out there.”

When I first began writing Abysmal Canyon, I had no intention of selling it. I wrote the story to bring the characters in my mind to life and to see where they wanted to go. Somewhere along the many edits and rewrites, that attitude changed and I’m glad it did.

So I bought an ebook about marketing through Amazon and I’m following the guidelines. I have this blog and my Amazon Author Page. I have been working on my Facebook Author Page and today I hope to launch it to the public. It will be skeletal at first compared to other author’s pages, which appear to have been around for centuries! I was advised to keep my personal Facebook page separate, which seems wise. Twitter is on the horizon, as well as other social media adventures. I’m also working in Create Space to make a printed version of my book. A book trailer is on the back burner and many other things! Meanwhile, I’m bundling some of my science fiction/fantasy short stories together to sell on Amazon (and designing the cover) and I’ve started gathering notes for book 2 of the Domina Lumen series. Yeow! It’s a miracle my lap top hasn’t grown roots and attached itself to me permanently!

Putting myself in front of so many people all of a sudden has been unnerving, but I’m adapting and evolving and it is getting easier with your help. Thanks!