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Author Archives: TonyB

  • Interview: Rosemary Gemmell, Novelist

    If the mind is a well of creativity, the trick is figuring out how to tap it.

    For some writers, like Scottish novelist Rosemary Gemmell, the solution is as simple as a pen.

    It becomes the conduit between thought and reality. As the ink flows, so do the ideas, and characters and story begin to take shape.

    Today, Rosemary takes a little time to share how pen-and-paper work for her.

    Tell us a little about yourself.

    I live in the beautiful west coast of Scotland which is always inspiring. After bringing up a family and working part-time while studying as a mature student for a BA honours degree in literature and history and a post-graduate Masters in Humanities from the Open University, I finally became a full-time writer. This doesn’t mean writing full-time, as I fit in talks and adjudications for writing groups as well as coffee and lunch breaks with friends!

    What do you write?

    I was known as a published short story and article writer first, with occasional poetry and children’s stories. I’ve had stories and articles published in several UK magazines, some in the USA and I used to write for one Canadian and one American online company. Now I also write romantic novels with intrigue, both historical and contemporary. Although my latest novel, The Highland Lass, is under my full name, some of my more romantic novels are written as Romy and two tween books are under Ros.  Continue reading

  • Penthusiasm!

    Stationery Ramblings gets excited that Rhodia is available in South Africa.

    Austin at Art Supply Critic gets down to basics with the Pentel Sharplet-2 mechanical pencil.

    Jess at A Planner by Nature opens up about Bullet Journaling.

    Angela at Paper Lovestory takes a quick scan of Platinum Blue-Black fountain pen ink.

    Barb at Art Journal Cafe gets down to selecting an art journal.

    Fufaraw displays a collection of Pelikan, Parker, and Sheaffer fountain pens.

    Michelle at Seaweed Kisses lays out her favorite pens for journaling. (Click through to video.)

    Elle at The Acculturated Housewife searches for the ultimate gel highlighter.

    And All Other Tasks tries to match a ballpoint pen to the Field Notes Expedition series.

    Nickole at EveryThink Else gets the blues with Pilot Iroshizuku fountain pen ink.

  • The World In Pens

    ● Gizmodo reports that Star Wars fever has reached the pen world with a lightsaber fountain pen from S.T. Dupont that floats on a magnetic platform and retails for more than £16,000. Dupont also offers an X-Wing fountain pen, while Cross has its own line of Star Wars-themed writing instruments.

    ● The accumulation of discarded pens concerns some students in India, so they've collected nearly 10,000 of them to display and hopefully convince fellow students to cut back, according to The Hindu. (They're trying to promote the use of pens made from paper, instead.)

    ● The Trail-Gazette profiles the owner of an unusual – and brilliant – business in a small mountain town in Colorado. It's a combination coffee shop/stationer that sells Moleskine notebooks and Retro 51 pens, among others, along with its cups of coffee. Continue reading

  • Ready For A Month Of Letter Writing?

    If you've been trying to get yourself motivated to write more letters, then February is the perfect month for you.

    Two different events running this month challenge people to spend February reviving the habit of communicating the old-fashioned way, with ink and paper. One is International Correspondence Writing Month, started by fountain pen collector Eric Schneider. The other is author Mary Robinette Kowal's Month of Letters.

    Both make the same simple request: During February, write and send at least one letter, postcard, or note every day. These can be letters and postcards sent to distant pen pals, or just notes written and passed to family, friends, co-workers, or complete strangers.

    There's no right way or wrong way to do it, as long as you write them by hand (no typing at all) and send something every single day.

    On the InCoWriMo site, you can add yourself to the participant map and find people who are looking for pen pals, including George Lucas and Richard Branson. Month of Letters (LetterMo) offers a forum where participants can connect with each other.

    If it's been a while and you're a little fuzzy on the mechanics of writing a letter, Scheider and Stephen Brown have put together a helpful instructional video on how to write a letter.

    Canadian pen store Wonder Pens also has put together a great list of places to find pen pals, in case you need someone to correspond with.

    Of course, you don't have to write letters to faraway people. Consider spending the month leaving notes for people you know...and people you don't.

    Write a note to your spouse and leave it in a favorite coffee cup. Write one to a co-worker you admire and leave it on their desk. Write another to that neighbor you never speak to, but should, and tape it to the front door.

    You can even write notes to people who annoy you.

    This is your chance to say those things that always seem to slip by the wayside. All you have to do is pick up your pen.

  • Penthusiasm!

    Pao at The Serial Doodler searches for feathering in Smells Like Sunday notebooks.

    Matthias at Bleistift stages a dance-off between the Mitsubishi 7700 and the Staedtler Noris colour.

    Joanna at My Precious Krafts gives high marks to the Studio Oh! Deconstructed Notebook.

    Pete at Pete Denison tries to get comfortable with the Pilot Decimo capless fountain pen.

    Brian at OfficeSupplyGeek just can't join up with US Military Memo Books.

    The Gadgeteer wishes for more choices in the First Draft Co. notebook.

    Margana at Inkophile experiments with the Speedball Elegant Writer.

    Amanda at Paper Pens Ink unfolds her new traveller's notebook.

    Azizah at Gourmet Pens deems the Lamy Pico ballpoint pen useful.

    George at My Supply Room scores with the Levenger L-Tech 3.0 rollerball pen.

  • The World In Pens

    ● Lamy's introduced a new high-end pen range – imporium – and the Naples Daily News highlights a Florida stationer that is one of only 12 in the US to carry the pens.

    ● BlogHer joins the adult coloring craze with a few useful tips on getting into the habit, including one common-sense bit of advice that works: Keep your coloring book where you can see it and be reminded to use it.

    ● ITV reports on a London artist who is collecting articles of clothing and stories about the owners for an installation project that mixes handwriting and hand-stitching. When finished, the Stitch Lives of London will feature 215 garments with the owners' handwritten stories stitched into them. Continue reading

  • Learn A Foreign Language By Journaling

    languagePlanning to learn a foreign language this year? Then break out a new journal.

    Writing by hand is a highly recommended way to improve your recall and understanding of foreign vocabulary and syntax.

    It makes sense, given what we know about the link between handwriting and learning. Continue reading

  • Penthusiasm!

    Margana at Inkophile takes on cheap paper with Noodler's Black fountain pen ink.

    Matthias at Bleistift encounters the Deli No. 7083 pencil in Shanghai.

    Amanda at Paper Pens Ink gets skeptical about left-handers and smeared ink.

    Joanna at My Precious Krafts sticks to her Daiso Kraft Scrapbook.

    Cody at The Pen Haul weighs the Kaweco Sport fountain pen and finds it a little light.

    The Unroyal Warrant inks up a vintage Pilot Namiki Vanishing Point fountain pen.

    Brian at OfficeSupplyGeek makes friends with the Field Notes 56 Week Planner.

    David at Too Many Inks shows off the Pelikan M320 Ruby Red.

    Ray at Fountain Pen Quest changes inks in the Visconti Homo Sapien Bronze Age fountain pen.

    Rhonda at the Blog of Rhonda Eudaly accidentally tries out the Uniball Signo Broad gel pen.

  • Interview: Writer Femi Martin

    Femi Martin is a storyteller.

    She's created fiction inspired by Charles Dickens novels, shared her struggles with illness in the Achalasia Diaries on BBC 4, and captivated UK festival audiences with performances of her short stories about love, relationships, and stolen chocolate bars.

    Her stories always start at the point of a pen, and Femi was kind enough recently to share with us how writing by hand guides her creative process.

    Tell us a little about yourself.

    I write fiction but am an avid reader of non-fiction. I am particularly interested in the body, especially the brain. As I am prone to over-thinking I have to carve time out of my day for switching off. I do this by either going to the gym, meditating, or watching reality TV. My favourite reality show is Project Runway but I mostly watch anything to do with love and relationships. Oh, and Judge Judy, of course. Continue reading

  • Interview: Amanda Miller, the Chalkboard Lady

    Art comes in all forms.

    It can be a pen-and-ink drawing. Or a watercolor painting. Or a delicate pencil sketch.

    Or sometimes, it can be a simple chalkboard menu written in a flowing hand.

    Meet Amanda Miller, known as the Chalkboard Lady to her clients.

    Please tell me a little about you.

    I live in the East Yorkshire village of Cottingham with my husband and two Labradors.

    Please tell me a little about your work.

    I produce chalkboard art and wall-art for businesses and homes across Yorkshire and North Lincolnshire. My clients range from major pub chains to small independent shops and cafes. I trained as a ticket writer in the artroom of a supermarket chain producing all point-of-sale by hand. This eventually lead to me writing chalkboards. I've been doing so for 18 years now! Wall-art is very popular at the moment and I do quite a lot of that from family trees to favourite quotes, all written freehand.

    chalkboardlady1 Continue reading

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