Category Archives: Commentary

Author #Hashtags for Twitter

Twitter Hashtag

As an author, being on twitter is a great way to attract new readers to your blog and published books.  Developing your twitter feed is an organic process that you should attend to each day.  I personally spend around ten minutes each day going over my list, following back new followers, blocking bots and “follower sales pitches”, and looking over notifications for comments to respond to.  Over the years, my list has grown to thousands of followers and allows me to promote the authors and guest posters that come to my blog as well as drop in the occasional pitch for my books and poetry.

One of the best tools I have as an author using twitter is the use of hashtags.  It is a word preceded by the pound symbol that allows anyone on Twitter to find my post, even if they are not a follower of my twitter feed.  I try and use two or three hashtags in my posts for this reason.  Any more than that would be overkill.

List of General Hashtags for Authors

This list is some of the more common hashtags used by authors to promote their blog posts and work.  I’ve included tags for poetry too, they are fairly obvious!

Connecting with Authors

  • #AmWriting
  • #AmEditing
  • #IndieAuthors
  • #NaNoWriMo
  • #PoetTues
  • #WordCount
  • #WriterWednesday (or #WW)
  • #WritersLife
  • #WritingPrompt
  • #WIP
  • #WritingTips
  • #WriteTip
  • #WritersTellMe

Connecting via Genre

  • #Fantasy
  • #FlashFic
  • #KidLit
  • #History
  • #Horror
  • #FanFic
  • Memoir
  • #NA (New Adult)
  • #PNR (Paranormal Romance)
  • #Poetry
  • #Romance
  • #Scifaiku
  • #SciFi
  • #YA

Connecting With Readers

  • #BookGiveaway
  • #bookpost
  • #books
  • #bookworm
  • #bookslover
  • #free
  • #FridayReads
  • #iBooks
  • #kindle
  • #MustRead
  • #nook
  • #ReadingList
  • #StoryFriday
  • #TeaserTues
  • #WorthReading
  • #WhatToRead

Planetary Grand Tour Inspires Writers

GrandTour-blog

As a science fiction writer, I often derive inspiration from the planets and moons of our solar system. It is here that the next great frontier will be found. One day, tourism will be an economic factor on the planets much as it is here on the Earth. How will future destinations showcase their location to attract those tourism dollars?

One answer to this question is from NASA itself. In 2016, a series of 1950s inspired posters about various tourism locations in our home solar system were created. Photos and posters are great sources to draw on as an author. I hope you will enjoy this batch of fantastical images about various places in our solar system and how they might develop into colonies with tourism benefits.

Below are smaller versions of my favorite posters from this series. There are a few more featuring some of the larger moons in our solar system too. Download one or two for your walls for free. Maybe they will inspire you to write about the planets or even to go there one day. The days when humanity spreads into space is not far into the future.

venus-blog

VENUS is one of Earth’s closest sister worlds.  It is 9/10s the size of our homeworld and has a dense atmosphere that could crush a spacecraft.

NASA writes about this poster:

“The rare science opportunity of planetary transits has long inspired bold voyages to exotic vantage points – journeys such as James Cook’s trek to the South Pacific to watch Venus and Mercury cross the face of the Sun in 1769. Spacecraft now allow us the luxury to study these cosmic crossings at times of our choosing from unique locales across our solar system.”

 

 

 

 

 

Earth-blogEARTH is humanity’s homeworld, but ultimately not our only gravity well.  Expansion into all corners of the globe is a fairly recent endeavor, but not our only stopping point.

NASA writes about this poster:

“There’s no place like home. Warm, wet and with an atmosphere that’s just right, Earth is the only place we know of with life – and lots of it. Perhaps our perfect world is rarer than we thought and only when we travel to other worlds will we realize how precious and lucky we are to have it.”

 

 

 

 

 

Mars-blogMARS will prove to be human’s first planetary colony.  Our first efforts to live on the Red Planet will begin in a scant decade or two.  Due to its smaller size, CO2 atmosphere, and lack of a magnetic iron core, there will be fierce challenges associated with living there, but I’m sure our scientists will be up to the task of making this world habitable.

NASA writes about this poster:

“NASA’s Mars Exploration Program seeks to understand whether Mars was, is, or can be a habitable world. Mission like Mars Pathfinder, Mars Exploration Rovers, Mars Science Laboratory and Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter, among many others, have provided important information in understanding of the habitability of Mars. This poster imagines a future day when we have achieved our vision of human exploration of Mars and takes a nostalgic look back at the great imagined milestones of Mars exploration that will someday be celebrated as historic sites.”

 

 

Jupiter-blogJUPITER is a gas giant that orbits the sun, much as a binary star might.  It has snatched 68 asteroids that now circle the mighty orb as make-shift moons.

NASA writes about this poster:

“The Jovian cloudscape boasts the most spectacular light show in the solar system, with northern and southern lights to dazzle even the most jaded space traveler. Jupiter’s auroras are hundreds of times more powerful than Earth’s, and they form a glowing ring around each pole that’s bigger than our home planet. Revolving outside this auroral oval are the glowing, electric “footprints” of Jupiter’s three largest moons. NASA’s Juno mission will observe Jupiter’s auroras from above the polar regions, studying them in a way never before possible.”

 

 

 

I hope that you have found inspiration for your own stories with these fun images from NASA. If they help ferment a few new science fiction stories for you, as they have for me, all the better.

Expand Your Vocabulary With Android Apps

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As writers, having an extensive vocabulary is a great tool in our toolbox. The right word choice can excite a sentence and shift it into nuances that can create a memorable passage. Learning new words and how to best use them comes from reading the classics and books in your chosen genre, but in our modern age of electronic learning, apps can be of assistance as well. Being an Android user for the most part, I took a look at various apps that help with learning vocabulary. The reviews are my own and none of the app creators compensated me for my opinions.

Cram
FREE

This android app brings your custom flashcards to your phone. They have an apple version too. It allows you to study your chosen subject on the go and works hand in hand with cram.com. At the website, you can find educational resources to load into the app. You can learn a foreign language, practice your math tables, or pop in new vocabulary to memorize. Memorization is a good way to bulk up your word choice or to beef up your knowledge on a subject you might be writing on. One of the fun aspects of their website is the essay topic generator. When you have writer’s block, it is fun to look through this repository for inspiration. As a blogger, I find this to be helpful.

Quizlet 
Free or Pro ($19.99 annual fee)

This is another flashcard app that can help you memorize a variety of subjects such as languages, history, science, and vocabulary. The basic version is free. You create your own flashcards using the Quizlet flashcard maker or choose cards from fellow users. Part of the fun of this app is the Match game where you beat the clock to gain the right answer. There is another function called Test that helps you prep for a pop-quiz in whatever class you are studying for. If you find you like the app, you can go pro for a small fee and upload your own images, get faster customer service from quizlet, and study ad-free. It would be easy to create vocabulary flashcards with this app and then take it on the go with your phone.

Vocabulary.com
$2.99

I really enjoy this android app. Vocabulary is learning designed to be a game. As you answer the questions, the algorithms conform the game to you as you go along to help make the learning process more fun. It can become addictive! You accumulate points, achievements, and badges as you compete with other users around the world. The app has won a few awards such as Time’s 50 Best Websites of the Year, PC Magazine’s Top 100 Websites of the Year, and more. While this is not a free app, the value it offers to expand your vocabulary is worth checking out.
Words, Words, Words
FREE

While this vocabulary builder is not as fancy as some of the others or as extensive, I like that it included audio pronunciation of the new words along with the text. This is a great aid in learning how to use the words for speaking, not just for writing or reading.

Test Your English Vocabulary
FREE

This vocabulary app is more for people learning English as a second language than for native speakers. It is geared toward helping you master language so you can pass tests such as TOEIC, GMAT, SAT, GRE, MCAT and more. It gives you the correct pronunciation and translation of the words into your mother tongue. It has word games to keep things fun. Play games such as Anagrams, Codewords, Millionaire, Puzzle and StopWord.

As a writer, it pays to become a wordsmith and develop your vocabulary. The best way to do this is to read more books, but these apps should be a great way to supplement your practice of finding and using new words as you interact with the world around you. I hope you check out the apps and find them useful.

San Francisco Planner Meetup

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Bullet Journaling has been my method of keeping track of my writing business for the past three years. My journals have evolved from simple lists kept in a composition notebook to my current fountain pen friendly A5 grid journal where I store a full year of task lists, publishing plans, travel details, and habit trackers all illustrated with zentangle doodles on practically every page. Not only does my bullet journal keep me on track, it provides a space to practice my artwork. It is a flexible system that I find much more rewarding than the system I used in my former Filofax. I keep my old Filofax, but it has become the editorial calendar book for my blog, No Wasted Ink.

pen-and-ink-drawing-pen-show-2016In August of 2016, I attended the San Francisco Fountain Pen Show that was held at the Sofitel San Francisco Bay Hotel. One of the featured events of the convention was a Planner Meetup. Normally, my bullet journal never leaves my desk, but for this event, I packed it into my luggage and carted it off with me to the event.

The Meetup was well attended by at least 30 avid paper planner enthusiasts. All of them were stationary hoarders and most used fountain pens in their notebooks. I was greeted to a plethora of Filofaxes of many kinds, leather bound notebooks, moleskines, and other planner systems. There were boxes of scrapbooking supplies that were dumped into the center of the tables for everyone to look through and take a few samples. One of the attendees had put together packets of scrapbooking supplies and gifted them to everyone that came.

notebook-plannersThere were a good number of men who attended, but most did not reveal the inside of their planners. I believe that there were daunted by the decorators in the crowd and did not wish to show off their simple task lists and notes. I had to prod a few of them to see inside their planners. They should not have been embarrassed. What I saw inside was functional and all of their journals were of fine quality leather and paper. Sometimes less is more.

my-bullet-journal-2016My journal was the only bullet journal in the meetup, which surprised me. Everyone else used preprinted calendar style planners. My hand drawn illustrations were thumbed through by many appreciative planner nerds. I found myself answering questions about zentangles and how difficult it must be to illustrate my notebook. I assured everyone that practice is all that is needed to draw zentangles and that tutorials are all over the internet for free. This was the first time that anyone other than myself has seen my illustrated bullet journal and the response to my work was gratifying.

planner-meetup-tableThe Planner Meetup at the San Francisco Fountain Pen Show was a great success. Although we were allotted a scant ninety minutes for the meeting, most of the attendees stayed longer. There was simply too many journals and notebooks to see and conversations about planners to enjoy. I am sure that a planner meetup will be on the agenda for next year’s convention. If you are a planner or fountain pen enthusiast like myself, I hope you’ll consider joining us in San Francisco next year at the convention.

A Fountain Pen Odyssey by Wendy Van Camp

sf-pen-show-ws

Fountain pens have been my hobby for the past few years. I tend to remember details better when they are written via a pen and paper, but my hand would grow tired after long sessions of writing in journals. When you write with a fountain pen, only a tiny amount of pressure is needed to glide the ink onto the paper and it allows you to write for longer periods of time. I started out with inexpensive chinese-made pens to see if I would like writing with one and ended up falling in love with the look and feel of the pens. Now I own a small collection of pens and inks that I use for different purposes. A year after I got started down the fountain pen rabbit hole, my husband did too. Now we enjoy going to fountain pen conventions together and exploring our hobby together.

Location

This is the third year that the San Francisco Fountain Pen Show has been held at the Sofitel San Francisco Bay Hotel and our second visit to the convention. It is nestled in Redwood City, near many big name silicone valley corporations and is a short journey from San Francisco International Airport. Driving there can be tricky due to all the “goose crossing” signs leading up to the hotel. Yes, flocks of Canadian Geese make the immediate area their home and can step out into the road without notice. Behind the hotel is a lovely lagoon with walkways to facilitate moonlight walks with your significant other. The interior is modern with a French twist. The hotel was as lovely as we remembered, with comfortable rooms and a pastry shop that tempted us with goodies.

pastry-shop-in-sofatel-hotel

The pen show is held in the ballroom and uses a few of the conference rooms nearby and on the floor above for workshops and meetings. The majority of the vendors were in the ballroom where their wares could be locked up securely in the evening, but this year there was an overflow of a few more vendors into the hallway.

pen-and-ink-drawing-pen-show-2016

Exhibitors

There were a large number of exhibitors this year, many more than the first time we came to the San Franciso during its opening year. These are a few that I frequented:

Anderson Pens
This was their first year at the San Franciso show, but I hope it will not be their last. They had a lovely assortment of bottled inks, notebooks, pens and pen cleaning supplies. My husband had placed a pen order for pick-up with them before the show, but we found ourselves returning for more goodies. I bought an inexpensive Plaisir Fountain Pen there and several bottles of ink.  Working the booth was blogger extraordinaire, Ann Reinert from The Well Appointed Desk.  It was a pleasure to be able to meet her in person. I’ve enjoyed reading her blog for many years.

Franklin-Christoph
Always a staple at the main fountain pen shows, Franklin-Christoph is a manufacturer of fountain pens, nibs, ink, notebooks and leather pen accessories. Both my husband and I own pen cases from them and my husband is a convert to their nibs. He will often match a pen he purchased elsewhere with one of the Franklin-Christoph nibs. While I did not purchase from them this year, I was glad to see them and will keep them on my A list when it comes to purchasing nibs and leather goods.

Curnow Bookbinding and Leatherwork
This is the first time I have seen Curnow Bookbinding and Leatherwork. I purchased a lovely leather travelers-style notebook cover from them. Their table also had handmade traveler’s notebooks with Tomoe River paper at a decent price. The workmanship from this artisan is superb and I hope to see them at other pen shows in the future.

Peyton Street Pens
It was my first time at the Peyton Street Pens table. My husband had suggested that I look at their Ranga line of pens since I was interested in gaining a pen with a Sheaffer nib. They had plenty of vintage Sheaffer pens, but my eye was caught by a beautiful turquoise resin pen newly made in India, but paired with a vintage 1970’s American made Sheaffer nib. I was able to pick the nib I wanted and match it with the pen body. They even threw in a converter and free fountain pen friendly notebook. Such a deal!

sf-pen-show-inks

Vanness Pens
This was the other large ink vendor at the show. I ended up buying a few bottles of ink from them as well. There was a great assortment of pens and unusual ink lines that I had not seen before. I was pleased to see Matt Armstrong, the host of The Pen Habit, a video series you can catch on YouTube was there working in the booth! It was a pleasure to meet Matt in person and he was quite knowledgeable about all the pens and ink at the table. A real asset to Vanness Pens, to be sure.

MikeItWork – Mike Masuyama
It is always a pleasure to see Nibmaster Mike Masuyama at a show. He will customize your nibs to your specifications, allowing you to gain access to nib types that are hard to find or impossible except by customization. He created a beautiful nib on a Parker 51 for me the last time I was at the SF Pen Show and I still love it.

Inking Station

ink-stations-2016-sf-pen-showOne of the exciting features of the pen show, and something you normally only see at the larger national level pen shows, was an ink sample table. 600 Platinum Preppy Fountain Pens were filled with an assortment of inks to try for the price of admission. Most of the major ink brands were there, such as Diamine, deArtementis, Noodler’s, Iroshuiku, Sailor, J. Herban, Montblanc, Pelikan, and Platinum. However, there were also inks from more unusual brands to try out. Kobe, Akkarman, Robert Oster, KWZI, LeArtisan Pastellier, and others I had not heard of.

I set up a page in my A5 cashier sized notebook and wrote down the name of the ink in the ink color and then created a dot so I could see the saturated hue on the page. I discovered that the colors I see on the monitor when I research possible fountain inks to purchase are very different from seeing them in person. This is a wonderful way to sample inks you are interested in and not only get a better idea of their color, but also see how they handle in the process of nib to paper.

Conclusion

Fountain pens are a great hobby for writers. The pens are a dream to write with, needing only the smallest amount of pressure to glide across a page and make long hours of writing more comfortable. While no one needs to purchase an expensive fountain pen to gain the benefits of their ease of writing, seeing all the fancy new pens coming out from the manufacturers, discovering all the vintage antique pens, and playing with the myriad of inks available makes for a fun time. If you get bit by the fountain pen bug, make a point to visit a local fountain pen show.