A Fountain Pen Odyssey by Wendy Van Camp


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.


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.


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.



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.

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!


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.


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.

Author Interview: Jeffrey Cook & Katherine Perkins

Author Jeffrey Cook and his co-author/Editor Katherine Perkins are research nerds. Having been inspired to find out more by the books and comics they read as kids, they now love writing the kind of books that send people running to Google to look up the history, or mythology, or whatever.  Please welcome them both to No Wasted Ink.

jeffrey-cookkatherine-perkinsJeffrey Cook lives in Maple Valley, WA with his wife and three large dogs. Katherine Perkins lives in Ontario, OH with her husband and one cat. Jeff was born in Boulder, CO, but basically spent the first half of his life all over North America. Katherine was born in Lafayette, LA, the cuisine of which she will defend on any field of honor, and saved most of her moving around for after graduate school. When not reading, researching, or writing, Jeff enjoys role-playing games and watching football, and Kate wonders if she left the stove on. Kate’s been Jeff’s book editor/website manager/etc. for years until she logically had to start being credited as a co-writer.

When and why did you begin writing?

In terms of storytelling, we both got something of an early start, particularly Jeff. When he was very small, he spent long rides in the car doing back-and-forth storytelling with his dad. By the time he was six, his mother says, he was declaring his intention to be an author.

Kate was pegged as a future writer by teachers in school, but had concentrated more on being a historian before she ended up a freelance editor, ad then working with Jeff.

When did you first consider yourself a writer?

Jeff’s been a writer for some time, having gotten poetry and professional journalism published many years ago, but considered himself an author in 2014, when he first sold a copy of Dawn of Steam: First Light to someone he didn’t know personally. The Fair Folk Chronicles are actually the first published books with Katherine’s name on the cover.

Can you share a little about your current book with us?

Foul is Fair is the first book of a Young Adult contemporary Fantasy series, the Fair Folk Chronicles. It draws a lot on mythology and folklore, especially Celtic and Hawaiian, but is set in modern-day Seattle, where a 16-year-old girl finds out her father is the Unseelie King (“What, like, ’80s David Bowie?”) and needs her help. Fortunately, she also has along a menehune BFF, a satyress rock star, and a disabled pixie with a service crow.

What inspired you to write this book?

Jeff woke up from one of his dreams again. They’ve been a jumping off point for a lot of books, by now. “Her name is Megan O’Reilly, and her ADHD is partly caused by her being half faerie.” Then it was time for us both to delve into research.

Do you have a specific writing style?

We tend to adjust style quite a bit to fit the content of what we’re writing, but admittedly, our reading a lot of comic books in younger days often shows through, with action and witty banter.

How did you come up with the title of this book?

Jeff, in focusing in on the Celtic mythology aspects of the book, really wanted to tie the whole series in with the idea of the “Fair Folk.” So each book in the series took a different use of the word ‘Fair’ to tie them all together, starting out with a Shakespeare reference. Appropriate enough, since there’s certainly a number of Shakespeare references throughout the books.

Is there a message in your novel that you want readers to grasp?

Various ideas are explored about assumption and perception and other things, but mostly we want to tell a good story.

Are experiences in this book based on someone you know, or events in your own life?

No, with the exception of the Fremont Solstice Festival in Seattle. Jeff really enjoys including places he’s been in books, but we don’t use real people.

What authors have most influenced your life? What about them do you find inspiring?

  • Mary Shelly, for the depth and richness of her work and for how ahead of her time she was.
  • C.S. Lewis, because you never forget your first.
  • Louis L’Amour, for his use of mythology and background, albeit not how he handles endings.
  • Leslie Feinberg, author of Stone Butch Blues, solely for an incredibly valuable lesson. “What’s the most important thing you can be? Someone you can live with.”
  • Terry Pratchett, for the combination of nonsense and common sense.

Who designed the cover of your book? Why did you select this illustrator?

We knew we wanted pictures of the Four Lost Treasures of Ireland for the series. We had some concept art done by artist Christopher Kovacs that Katherine was very keen on, starting with the sword for Foul is Fair. The covers themselves were done by Clarissa Yeo, a professional artist who came well recommended,

Do you have any advice for other writers?

I, Jeff, got really lucky when Kate agreed to start editing for me. It’s been priceless having that additional voice, and the additional perspective has done a lot to make all of my books better. Where you can, find those other perspectives — in editing, beta reading, and general support — and listen to them. You’ll be better off for it.

Do you have anything specific that you want to say to your readers?

We hope you enjoy the story, and that you’ll leave a review.

foulisfairJeffrey Cook
Maple Valley, WA

Katherine Perkins
Ontario, Ohio


Foul is Fair

Cover Artist: Clarissa Yeo


No Wasted Ink Writer’s Links

writers-linksWelcome back to another Monday of Writer’s Links here on No Wasted Ink.  As you may have noticed, my posts have been a little sparse over the summer.  I’ve been off to several large conventions to promote my book and seek out new authors to interview here on the blog.  I haven’t neglected the link posts, while I do them manually based on articles that I read while I surf, the posts are more a pleasure for me to compile than a hardship. This month I am getting caught up and should get the blog back up to speed once again.  I hope you enjoy this latest batch of articles.

Sketchnotes: A Guide to Visual Note-Taking

Why shop at a brick-and-mortar bookstore?



Ten Social Media Post Ideas For Authors

The Art of Giving and Accepting Critiques

How to Promote Your Latest Work With a Blog

The Value of the Writing Retreat

I’m Marc Guggenheim, Writer and Executive Producer of Arrow, and This Is How I Work

Tech Hasn’t Killed Books Yet

No Wasted Ink Writer’s Links

writers-linksWelcome back to No Wasted Ink.  This Monday I have a nice grab bag of general writing tips including subjects like author platform, building a community, working on a copy edit and what environments are most suitable for writing.  Pour yourself a cup of Joe and relax.  Enjoy!

Building Community As a Writer

10 Tips For Writing an Effective Query Letter…

The Synergy of the First Draft, Whether You Trim or Embellish

5 Steps to Surviving Your Copy Edit

Facebook Ads Work: How to Use Facebook to Reach Niche Readers

How Your Surroundings Ignite Your Creativity (And What To Do About It)

A Definition of Author Platform


When Reading Books on #Writing and #Marketing

Postcards provide link to Edwardian social media

How Authors Can Promote On YouTube & Use Patreon by Adam Mulholland


YouTube offers content creators a way of cross-utilizing mediums to enhance and bridge engagement beyond a book. Authors wanting more presence should leverage this platform to reach a larger audience and potentially earn more revenue. I hear calls for help all the time from bloggers, eBook writers, and even published authors that are trying to get their content out to readers. Today, we are a more fractured society in how we promote and consume everything from an article in the dentist waiting room or the late night YouTube binge on Chromecast.

Content creators are rarely able to switch into promotion or sales when all they know is building engaging content. This is the whole reason marketing companies exist, but the power of the internet has given so many the ability to learn how, and for some, prosper. As an author, you have tremendous power with your brand and if you are a self-publishing author you have even more freedom. YouTube can easily take what you have built and mold it into a sales funnel without striking any deals with a marketing company.

You might think this is a difficult proposition because you write and that’s it. The first steps into building video content and the audience is a camera. You can do everything from a webcam like Blab uses (another serious platform as well), to a GoPro as long as it captures video and hopefully audio. There are endless search results on building your video solution. Once you sort all of the equipment fundamentals out, it’s time for actual production and potentially outsourcing.

Authors can, and do find success by using YouTube. I want to share a few ways on how to do so.

  • Create a YouTube channel and brand it with the same look as other platforms you have pages on so it looks professional.
  • Decide what to share that relates to your stories. Some authors do Q & A’s, give behind the scenes info, or discuss whatever topics that may interest your readers.
  • Fan interaction is great and you could do a Google Hangout, or maybe a weekly video on something you think fans might want to know about. Plan these out ahead of time.
  • Build consistent content that is well edited. You can either learn how to edit, don’t edit, or outsource the editing to a freelancer. Editing is the most difficult part, but is the most important as well.
  • Use YouTube to bring your brand together with the creator of the content your fans enjoy. A quick search brings up results of authors that are already using YouTube to reach fans.
  • Be unique and engage in the comments with people who are interested.

Don’t just cast YouTube to the side because it’s difficult to use. It’s the world’s #2 search engine and your brand will expand by stepping into a new platform. Take the challenge in building video and bridging the conversation with the audience on YouTube.

While I didn’t focus on these areas, it’s important to consider podcasting and blogging as areas to push into if you have the time or desire to do so. Video is not the only path to fans, but it is the most intimate. Let’s transition from using YouTube to combining it with fan-funding. I think these two go very well together and it provides more opportunity.
Patreon for Authors

Crowd-funding is relatively new, but it’s probably one of the hardest things to build into if you have limited time or content to offer. If you can leverage YouTube and build an audience in video and books Patreon is a must for many. It’s a platform that you build a page that introduces who you are and what you do. You ask your fans to support your work by monthly contributions. In return for the support, you offer them special rewards. The concept of Patreon is simple, so I want to leave you with ideas for rewards, and this list is nowhere close to being exhaustive.

  • A private video on YouTube where you discuss behind the scenes info.
  • Merchandise like t-shirts or coffee mugs.
  • A signed copy of your book or a future book.
  • 1-on-1 Skype calls with a fan.
  • Add a fan to your next book as a character.

These five basic things to choose from, and can be unbelievable when it comes to fans wanting special rewards. This is a platform that creators have had massive amounts of success with and it can work for you as well as a side offering in between hidden retreats into a log cabin on the side of a mountain while you pen your next work. Hopefully, this gives you some ideas to chew on as you look for new ways to build your base.


Adam MulhollandI’m Adam Mulholland and I’m a blend of designer, marketer, blogger, and more. My goals are to help others with getting their message out into the wild. I am also a 20-yr veteran of the U.S. Air Force which allowed me to travel the world and learn cultures. I discuss content marketing, design, all the while building online communities, and establishing my new company, Adding Social, LLC. Visit Adam Mulholland.com to read new ideas to expand your reach and deepen connections you already have.

Author Interviews * Book Reviews * Essays * Writer's Links * Scifaiku

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