Conversations Between Writers


Jessie Kwak

I first met Jessie at Cascade Writers in 2011 where we spent several days trying to figure out why the other looked familiar until we FINALLY figured out we followed each other on Twitter and had no other direct connections. You can check out more about her writing at and follow her on Twitter. For all of you crafty people and bicyclists I suggest you check out her bikes and craft blog too.


Minerva Zimmerman: How are you doing today? I keep forgetting you’re practically local to me now.

Jessie Kwak: I know! I haven’t gotten out to that part of the coast since we last Twittered about me being in town. I’m doing well – had a dentist visit this morning, which is always … fun.

My dentist is nice, though. How are you?

MZ: I’m doing OK. A little sore, had a busy weekend making cookies.

JK: What kind?

MZ: Ooo, I made ginger snaps, wedding bells, and berliner wreaths

JK: Yum! I made angel cookies for a cookie exchange with neighbors.

MZ: I need to make krumkake tonight

JK: Are you baking for an event? Or just general holiday merriment?

MZ: I’m giving them as gifts and for a trip to the in-laws. It just isn’t the holidays if I don’t get to bake

JK: Right! Maybe I should do cookies as gifts this year. I’m still at a loss for most of the people on my list.

MZ: I’m hoping to do some homemade marshmallows too, but I’m not sure if I’ll run out of energy.

JK: I’ve never tried to make marshmallows. Is it hard?

MZ: I haven’t either :) It’s not supposed to be too bad if you have a stand mixer. You have to get the sugar part to the soft ball stage which I’m a little skeptical about. I suppose if I cook it too much I just end up with caramelized marshmallows?

JK: It’s not too hard to get it to the soft ball stage if you have a candy thermometer.

I think the marshmallows would just be chewier. But if you get it past soft ball you can always add a bit more water and try to hit it again. I’ve done that before making divinity, and it works all right.

MZ: yeah, and I do have a candy thermometer, I’m just weird about doing sugar cooking. I’ve had bad results in the past.

JK: Let me know how it goes – I’m curious!

MZ: I love eating them so I’m hopeful.

JK: And now all I want to eat is cookies, which is terrible after just getting my teeth cleaned.  :-)

MZ: heh, but it is cookie eating time!

JK: Yep. Probably should have waited until after Christmas for the cleaning, but I’d put it off way too long! I’m finally an adult with insurance now, so I figured I should probably use it.

MZ: Yeah, if you need to get in before end of the year you have to take your appointments when you can get them

JK: Right. What are you working on these days? Anything fun? Besides cookies, obviously.

MZ:  I am actually working on Runed Creek right now, which is the story I took to Cascade Writers all those years ago. It’s weird how stuff never seems to go from point A to B in writing.

I set it aside because I ended up selling some other projects and had to work on those and I’m just now really getting back to it. What are you working on?

JK: I think that stories are a lot like good soup stocks, where you need to let them simmer forever, and throw things in from time to time. I’m working on a couple of things right now

First is a project with some friends in Seattle, called Four Windows – I’m editing it along with my friend Christine. There are four writers (myself included), and we’re each working on a novel set in Seattle. We’re publishing them serially in a journal format. We published the first quarter in September, the second quarter last month, and the third quarter will be out in February.

MZ: Oh what a cool thing!

JK: We’re workshopping our stories together as we go. It’s been a really fun process, but the timeline of serially publishing is kind of stressful. Like I added in a big plot twist at the end of section two that really screwed up the timeline I’d already plotted out, but now it’s published so I have to figure out how to work it in. :-)

MZ: Yeah, that’s what the second half of my 2015 is going to entail (no public details yet!)

JK: It’s fun, but really different.

MZ: I think it’s a good way to go

JK: You’ll be serially publishing something in 2015?

MZ: yes :)

JK: I’m so curious! It’s a really fun way to write.

MZ: I think some stories are just a good match for serial

JK: Totally.

MZ: It’s like binge-watching on Netflix

JK: Yes!

MZ: sometimes it makes sense to release stuff in chunks

so that people who devour it can devour it and still want more

JK: I think if we were going to do this again, I’d release things in smaller chunks, on a tighter timeline. Probably I’d want to have more of it written before I started releasing it to take some of the pressure off, but I think people have a short attention span and quicker release dates would have been a good idea for the Four Windows project. Right now each section is almost 3 months apart.

MZ: Yeah, I’m hoping to get stuff done beforehand mostly. So that the release dates aren’t dependent on me finishing things. But I also used to run a web comic that had major update problems, so it might just be me :)

JK: When you combine the logistics of publishing with the writing side of things, it gets tough.

MZ: No publishing plan survives contact with life.

JK: I’ve probably spent more time formatting and editing and promoting Four Windows than I have had time to write my story. Haha, so true! The best laid plans of mice and men…

MZ: Yeah, once you get to this point the actual writing is only a % of time.

JK: Right.

MZ: Which is kind of annoying sometimes .

JK: Yes. My “day job” is as a freelance copywriter, which takes up a lot of my creative writing energy as it is.

MZ: Ooof. Typing for work always saps my ability to write for fiction

JK: I’m learning how to transition, but it’s been a challenge for sure. For a long time it was hard to quit the sales copy brain and get into lyrical writing brain. I kept wanting to describe the features and benefits of my characters interactions.

MZ: Heh.

JK: But there are benefits, too. One of my main clients is an apartment rental place, and I write glowing copy about the homes they rent – which I think has helped me learn to describe setting better.

MZ: Ooo, I tend to have white room syndrome

JK: I’ve learned a lot about the economy of language. Ha – the problem is that now all my story settings are mid-century modern chic. :-)

MZ: Heheheh So, white rooms are a feature!

JK: With Noguchi coffee tables and Eames chairs, and ironic artisan lightbulbs. There you go! White rooms are a feature, and the benefit is that the reader gets to supply her own setting.

MZ: Yeah, I’m trying to grab at those little items that breathe life into a setting.

JK: I heard someone say just choose three things. For setting, or for character.

MZ: Which is hard sometimes when you have characters who are cluttered magpies.

JK: Yes, for sure. Maybe the task then is to choose three things that best represent the cluttered magpie-ness of the character, and pique the reader’s interest. Then you can flesh them out from there.

MZ: Yeah. I think I’m getting better, but it’s something I have to spend a lot of mental energy thinking about.

JK: The other thing I’m working on is a novel for a small press in Portland, Elly Blue Publishing.

MZ: Ooo

JK: She publishes bike non-fiction, mainly, but she’s started a series of short story collections called Bikes in Space.

MZ: Cool! I wanted to ask about your biking and how it is different in Portland vs. Seattle

JK: They’re feminist bicycle science fiction collections. :-)

MZ: ! :D

JK: I’ve had stories in the first two (and one coming out in the third issue next year), and one of the stories turned out to be a much bigger idea, so Elly and I talked about serializing it.

Eventually we decided it should just be a novel. It takes the idea of projects like “Bikes to Rwanda,” and sets it on a colony planet in the future. And then adds in the mafia, and aliens.

I’m really, really excited to write it – It’s going to be super fun.

MZ: I like these things.

JK: Going back to your question about biking in Seattle vs Portland – Portland is definitely more bike friendly. It’s flatter, too, which is nice, and there’s tons of bike infrastructure.

The downside is that with no hills and no traffic to battle, I feel like less of a badass biking here than I did in Seattle.

MZ: Hah. I’d never thought of it that way.

JK: There’s a certain pride that comes with commuting up Capitol Hill every day. Although now that I work from home, my commute is pretty weaksauce anyway. I’ve started running in the mornings to make up for it.  :-) I never thought I’d be a runner. Portland did this to me. Or maybe it’s all the cookies that I like to eat. :-)

MZ: :)

JK: Overall I like Portland, though. I’m meeting other writers, other cyclists, and getting to know neighbors. People seem pretty friendly here, and willing to meet up for coffee or to just hang out.

There are definitely some Portlandia moments, though! I look around some times and think “Where on earth AM I?”

MZ: Heh. Is there anything like that, that sticks out in particular?

JK: There was a guy at the grocery store the other day wearing purple zebra pajamas and a matching chullo hat. People just let their freak flag fly, which is lovely. Also, one of our neighbors has a window built into their chicken coop to the sidewalk, and a chalk board so people walking by can write messages to the chickens. Which is odd, but kind of charming. And at least once a week someone on the neighborhood list serve posts something like: “I just saw a goat at the corner of the street, is it yours?” Or, “I’m making kambucha this weekend, who wants an extra scoby?” People are super into their homemaking. Which I dig, I grew up on a farm, but am not used to seeing in the city.

MZ: Man, neighborhood list servs and chain emails and such are so… not the future we imagined, but yet so perfect.

JK: Haha, yes!

MZ: I mean, I live pretty rurally, but the way you find out about what’s really going on is checking some particular facebooks and being on certain email lists. Well, what doesn’t get disseminated at Senior Meals… that’s still the fastest way to learn anything.

JK: Senior Meals? I bet there’s some juicy gossip happening there.

MZ: So much.Sooo so much. I get it all second hand. They won’t let me in, I can’t pass in that crowd yet. :D

JK: That’s not a bad thing.  :-)

MZ: nope. Is there anything else you want to make sure we talk about?

JK: That’s pretty much all I’ve got going on. Dentist, check. Delicious cookies, check. Writing projects, check.  I really would like to chat in person next time I’m out your way – hoping to get through your neck of the woods in the next few months.

MZ: That would be awesome. It’s kind of nice here in the winter when stuff is quiet.

JK: I bet!

MZ: The beachcombing is the best too :)

JK: Ooh! Well, give me a shout if you make it over here, and I’ll do the same.

MZ: That would be fabulous. Stay dry! I’d say stay warm, but it’s downright balmy out

JK: You, too! And happy holidays, happy new year, all that jazz.  :-)


I declare a Mulligan on this week

Robert Bieber – Faceplant

Some weeks just kick your butt. I’ve decided I won’t even feel guilty for it. This week has completely destroyed me and it’s not even half over yet. I’m going to get some well-needed rest and prepare for the rest of the things lining up to take a whack at me.

I’ve got a few Conversations Between Writers lined up but I’m starting to schedule people for 2015. Please let me know if you’d be interested in doing one. You can email me, message me on Twitter, or use this handy form.

Fountain Pen Friday: Pilot Kaküno



So one of my Uwajimaya purchases was the Pilot Kaküno because it was so cute I couldn’t pass it up. Yes, I know it’s supposed to be for children… but when has that stopped me on anything?




Here’s what the pen comes with, pen, cap, and a black Pilot cartridge. It has directions for a converter but one is not included.


I can’t read Japanese but some of you can, so here’s the directions. Hmm, well I’m not a fan of writing in black ink… let’s see what colors of Pilot cartridges I bought… Ooo Pink!


Oooooooooh yeaaaaaaaah.

IMG_20141204_204939_299 (1)

Guys… guys… this pen is adorable. IT HAS A WINKY FACE NIB.



I gather the reason is so you know you’re holding the pen right if you can see the face when you are writing? I mean I’m talented, but I’m pretty sure I could still hold this pen wrong in a way that shows the face… but I don’t care! IT IS ADORABUBBLE!


Ooops I got so excited about the winky face I forgot to show you an item for scale. Here you go… nailpolish.


You could use this with the cap posted but I never will. I mean it’s fine… just not my thing. The cap is also the same octangular shape as the pen body so it won’t roll away off the table while you’re not using it. HANDY!

IMG_20141204_205031_093The pen body and the grip are both kind of octagonal. The grip however is much smaller around and while it is faceted it isn’t as uncomfortable as the triangle grips can be. Though it encourages proper grip you don’t HAVE to.



Note to self: you have terrible handwriting wearing a wrist brace and are still crap at drawing ponies.

The Good

  • comes in fine and medium nibs in a variety of color styles
  • plastic
  • can use a Pilot converter
  • writes nice

The Bad

  • hard slightly unusual grip
  • proprietary cartridge

Overall grade: B+



Conversations Between Writers

David Anaxagoras

Humans and human analogs, Dave is a Good Human™ and he’s probably the most authentic human I’ve come to know in any form. I know that’s a really weird thing to say about someone, but you know how some people would still be basically themselves if they were in a life-like android? I just can’t see that working out for him. There’s a fundamental part of his self that’s wrapped up in the very act of being human, and that makes him a good writer and a very good person to know. David Anaxagoras is the Creator and Co-Executive Producer of the Amazon Studios kids TV series “Gortimer Gibbon’s Life on Normal Street“. You can learn more about him at and please follow him on Twitter.




Minerva Zimmerman: How’s the weather down in California?

David Anaxaagoras: The weather has been very nice in my neighborhood. Not too hot, which is usually the case. It’s cooling off so much I might even light the pilot on the furnace.

MZ: That always freaked me out.

DA: I had to have the Gas company help with my water heater. I went a week with cold showers.

MZ: Oh man, that’s… I mean that’s practically camping in your own house

DA: Yes, that’s how I would describe most of my existence. I’ve been here 8 months and I’m still unpacking. Or not unpacking is more accurate.

MZ: I honestly have switched from not unpacking to “storing things in totes” and just claim it as storage. I’m finally getting through the totes slowly… 7 years later

DA: The thought had occurred to me… I have to get to my books, then maybe it will be time to surrender.

MZ: I am seeing Gortimer EVERYWHERE the past few days. It makes me grin

DA: I’m glad to hear it’s being seen all over. I mean, *I* see it, but I would expect to. I’ve been grinning for months.

MZ: The show really reminds me of those 1980s Wonderworks movies. I don’t know if you remember seeing them. I think it was maybe ABC that put them on Saturday afternoons?

DA: It’s ringing a bell, I’m trying to think of a specific one.

MZ: It’s how the BBC Narnia movies were shown on US TV for one. There was also one called Konrad about an instant boy (in a can) who was delivered to the wrong house

DA: Gortimer really was born from a desire to see a live-action kid adventure show. Mostly what we have now are sitcoms — so many sitcoms — and they are sort of ghettoized on kid TV channels. In my time, kid shows were family shows — they didn’t sent parents and older sibs running from the room. Everyone could enjoy them. Shows I remember were VOYAGERS and of course BATTLESTAR GALACTICA which to kid-me was just another adventure.

MZ: I love how it has a magic-realism thing going on

DA: I think it comes from my love of The Twilight Zone. In Gortimer, inner turmoil often shows up in the external world through a bit of magic.

MZ: Yeah. There are fantastical things that happen but they do reveal inner turmoil in a way that kids and adults alike can relate to

DA: I hadn’t planned on any fantasy element originally, but the pilot script took a left turn and I just followed. I’m glad I did. The other thing is, as you alluded to, in a kid’s world reality just seems a little more plastic. Try convincing a young kid they will never fit down the drain and they don’t have to worry about getting sucked down the bathtub drain — you can’t.

MZ: Hey, I’m still vaguely worried about that.

DA: Maybe you are just smart that way

MZ: Also my Dad told me that the drain worked because there was a little man under the hole with a bucket and that’s why sometimes the drain got slow

DA: Adults have no idea how terrifying their stories can be sometimes. I used to, when I was a preschool teacher, bake a gingerbread man with the kids and of course I would hide him before we went back to get him out of the oven. Invariable there is always one child scared to death at the thought of a gingerbread man running around the school. I think they’re the smart ones.

MZ: Man a horror story about a Gingerbread Man would be pretty scary. I mean, it could fit anywhere and all you would find was a little bit of crumbs where it had been, maybe a red hot

DA: I think kids live in that world, where it can be scary sometimes and we don’t understand it, forget what it’s like. It’s why I think it’s important to go ahead and acknowledge those emotions in kid stories, go ahead and have a story that scares them a little.

MZ: Being a kid IS scary!

DA: It helps to have friends.

MZ: Yes. And being alone and not knowing what is going on is the worst. That happens a lot as a kid, it feels a bit like being an alien.

DA: Or like you are Jack living in a land of giants. Nothing is your size. Nothing seems made for you. It’s someone else’s world. The scariest thing of all is that you are destined to turn into one of these creatures.

MZ: Yeah, that IS scary. I’m still scared of that too.

DA: Having a show like Gortimer is like having a second childhood. It’s given me so much to appreciate and treasure. It’s a ton of fun.

MZ: I think it is awesome that someone who has spent so much time with so many kids is writing a show like this too. I mean, I remember stories of things you were helping kids with and teaching them when you were still teaching. You know that they’re real people.

DA: When I first started I didn’t have any training, so I had to let the kids lead me into their world, so to speak. I had to meet them wherever they were. I think getting an education in early ed is a really good thing, but I’m glad I started out just being curious and open to their experience. I don’t know if I’ve ever made peace with growing up myself, anyway.

MZ: I am not sure I trust people who are happy about being an adult other than when it means you can have cake for breakfast whenever you want.

DA: Oh, shallots, I could have had cake this morning!

MZ: It’s true!

DA: Being an adult isn’t quite the fun I expected. There’s the freedoms, but you just don’t understand or expect all the stress involved.

MZ: Yeah, I think that’s why people who are comfortable with the level of responsibility that comes with adulthood worry me, like they can’t possibly be actually thinking about it.

Have you adopted Ranger’s food “swears” in your everyday life?

DA: I try to use food swears online because i have kids following me now. And I had to stop swearing all the time because I was on set. I don’t think kids are so fragile, but I think it’s disrespectful and also, it’s important to me that the set be a really positive happy place for the kids who spend so much time and work so hard there.

MZ: I think my favorite food swear is “SOUP!!!”

DA: I tried to use “Kale!” but it just sounded like a non-word when uttered with curse-energy. Like a sneeze.

MZ: and you might get mobbed in a Trader Joes yelling it.

DA: Might be a good diversionary tactic, though.

MZ: Sassafras would work well as a swear, there are just certain sounds that work. Kale sounds like you’re being stabbed with a spork

DA: I feel like that one must have been used. there was something about “pork and beans” that felt good. Explosive words or sounds…

MZ: fricatives

DA: That’s the word.

MZ: Hey, apparently I still remember something from Linguistics

DA: Hardest class I ever had.

MZ: omg yes I almost failed

DA: So much jargon. Really tough.

MZ: It’s more like math in how you think about it but you’re using all these language words and it’s just brain-breaking. It’s like that thing where you say what color the text of a color word is instead of what the word says.

DA: Ironic for a Linguistics class. Or perhaps appropriate. Our Prof promised a multiple choice final and then sprung an essay test on us. Multiple students fled the class in tears before the test was over.

MZ: …yeah I would have. Well, I couldn’t have. But I would have wanted to. Getting a 2.0 or higher was required for my major

DA: For undergrad?

MZ: Yeah, Anthropology

DA: Huh. Of all things.

MZ: It’s one of the 4 fields of Anthropology. You couldn’t show you had a grasp of the topic otherwise.

DA: Linguistics?

MZ: Yup. Studying humanity through how they communicate

DA: What are the other 3? Something biological, something science, something literary?

MZ: cultural anthropology, linguistic anthropology, archaeology and biological.

Biological anthropology was human bone lab. I am a horrible person to try and watch Bones with.

DA: When I was an undergrad I remember feeling like I wanted to have 20 lives so I could study EVERYTHING. Four years later that feeling was GONE.

MZ: Yeah, I wanted to do a double major and I got pretty close… but my husband moved to Oregon while I was one semester off of finishing my degree and I lost all wish to diversify my studies. Just wanted to get it done. Life, never works the way you think it will. That’s not a bad thing though.

DA: Tell me about it. It’s very unlikely I should be sitting here chatting with you right now.

MZ: Have you always been a screenwriter?

DA: I wrote my first screenplay in the third grade. It was a spy spoof. So, yes. There were times when I was focused on short fiction, but eventually came back to scripts.

MZ: I had a TA position for the drama teacher in HS, and there wasn’t really anything for me to do. So I started reading all the script files for every play the school had ever bought. There’s a certain rhythm to a good script. You can learn to see it on a page even. Once you’ve read a lot of examples you can see it in the text breaks

DA: It’s interesting the way writers often educate themselves. They haunt libraries or find themselves in a position where they have access to material. There’s a kind of almost unconscious attraction.

MZ: The words call.

DA: I loved books just as physical objects before I was really even a reader. Even the smell of them.

MZ: Apparently it is vanillin released as the cellulose breaks down, there is a scientific reason for book smell

DA: Well now you’ve taken all the magic out of it 😊

MZ: I dunno, I work with old stuff. I think that just lets you know how to cast the spell.

DA: Are you putting your degree to good use?

MZ: sort of accidentally?

DA: Good enough.

MZ: I didn’t mean to work at a museum, but I kind of fell into it and had more experience than I thought. Plus, all writing is part anthropology. Mostly I started on an Anthropology degree because I saw what the English degree homework was like, and I really REALLY hate diagraming sentences.

DA: There’s something nice about those happy accidents. I don’t believe in any sort of supernaturally guided destiny, but it was a revelation when I sold my pilot that when things work — they really work. All the pushing and strategizing and planning and sweating, and in the end, when it was time it just took off like magic.

MZ: I am really really happy for you. I think it is a wonderful show for real kids with just enough weirdness and magic.

DA: Thank you. I’m excited by all the great reviews, because they are positive yes, but also because people seem to really understand what we’re doing, why we’re doing it. And it makes me really happy to see parents and kids tweeting about it and excited about discovering a new show they enjoy.


Fountain Pen Friday: Manuscript Trio

On my recent trip to Seattle I stopped at the Art Supplies area of the University of Washington Bookstore, which is one of my favorite places to shop for fountain pens, ink, and notebooks. One of the ones I picked up was the Manuscript Trio Italic Pen.



I love this horrible black and white floral print. My mother owns luggage with this kind of pattern and my brother has dubbed it “The Ugglage.” It NEVER gets lost. It is impossible to miss.



If you’re a fan of the Lamy triangle grip, you’re going to love this pen. It has a very nice italic nib that isn’t anything special but it writes a really nice line that’s not too wide for everyday writing but would probably look pretty amazing if you had some sort of calligraphy ability.


I do not hate this pen. I actually really like it, there’s just something about the width of this pen at its widest that makes my hand fatigue really fast so it’s not going to be something I can use for a long time or frequently.



The Good

  • Unique pattern in amazing print
  • standard cartridge/converter
  • nice italic nib that’s not too big for everyday use
  • plastic body

The Bad

  • triangle grip
  • very wide pen at its widest

Overall Grade: B but a C for me. I really like how it writes, but it’s just too fatiguing for my tiny hands to use for long periods of time or too frequently.

Conversations Between Writers

M. Fenn


A fellow genre writer and TOC mate from Crossed Genre’s Winter Well, today’s writer is M. Fenn. You can follow her on Twitter @MFennVT and she blogs at


  1. Fenn: Hey there!

Minerva Zimmerman: Hello! How’s it going?

MF: Not bad. Trying to stay warm. How are you?

MZ: Not too bad. Just got done with work for the week. Now it’s all the household and writing stuff.

MF: Nice to have a long weekend.

MZ: Sorta, I”m starting to get to the point where I’d rather have the extra work days cause it feels like I never get enough done.

MF: Heh. I kinda get that impression from some of your tweets. I take it the museum’s rather under-staffed?

MZ: Well, yes and no. I mean all museums are under staffed

MF: Yeah?

MZ: but mostly I’m the only collections person

MF: Gotcha.

MZ: so that tends to get backed up when we have big projects or a lot of object donations

Plus I have to get all the paperwork out before the end of the year so now I”m trying to get that done while doing projects, processing objects and all that.

MF: That’s hard. The house museum I used to work for ran into that problem a lot.

MZ: Oof, yeah you understand how stuff can get.

MF: Oh yeah. Especially when you throw politics in the mix. One winter I was the only employee.

MZ: that is super common, especially at house museums

MF: I’m not surprised. Kinda why I’m not there anymore.

MZ: I actually have no idea where in the world you are geographically, you aren’t stuck under snow are you?

MF: No, thank goddess. I live in southern Vermont–325 miles or so from all that lake effect craziness. But it’s gotten way too cold too early here.

MZ: Yeah I’m in Oregon and we had a weird cold spell last week. Really odd for us.

MF: I bet. You’re near the coast, right?

MZ: Yeah it got a lot colder in Portland. The ocean keeps us a little more temperate here.

MF: We used to live in Eureka, CA. I remember that temperate climate. And all the fog.

MZ: Yeah pretty similar if a bit rainier and a tad cooler overall. So what have you been up to recently? What thoughts have been cluttering up your brain?

MF: All kinds of stuff. Getting ready for my weekend escape to Boston tomorrow. Trying to get a story in some kind of shape to send to my betas.

MZ: Are you a writer who researches a lot of stuff?

MF: Depends on the story. If I’m writing alt history, there’s tons of it. How about you?

MZ: I like to do a lot of “what if” research. I think that if I throw enough strange information into my head a story is bound to fall out eventually.

MF: Heh. I like that approach. I did some “what if” research for a new story involving potentially sentient plants. Discovering what science has actually been done on that topic was pretty cool.

MZ: Ooo there is some super neato stuff with polygraphs

MF: Oh yeah? I didn’t find that.

MZ: which I mean, who thought to hook a plant up to a polygraph is weird enough…

MF: Definitely. I love that there are folks thinking like that.

MZ: yeah apparently one of the tests they’d do was to have two fichus and hook one up to the machine, and then slowly pull the leaves off the second in a different room and supposedly they’d get readings off the one not being molested.

MF: Whoa, that’s interesting.

MZ: And this is old stuff, 1960s or so

MF: Most of it does seem to be old stuff, that I found.

MZ: and then the kirlian photography stuff, that’s neat.

MF: That is neat. And I was reading about how plants can send out chemical signals to insects–like helpful parasitic wasps–for assistance.

MZ: Yeah and some forests seem to transmit information through underground fungus colonies too

MF: Plants are amazing.

MZ: I wonder if there’s more modern studies on article databases

trying to think what search queries to use to try and get fun stuff to fall out of the internet when you hit it with a stick.

MF: I don’t know. Pretty much what I found were summary articles that referred to older stuff for the most part.

MZ: I’d probably look at JSTOR for “plant communication”

MF: Is it just me or did that seem to be easier to do before Google started to try to read our minds?

MZ: maybe “botanical”

MF: Oh, that’s an excellent place to start. So much stuff in JSTOR.

MZ: and now that they let you “check out” a few articles at a time without an organizational membership it’s super useful for writers.

MF: Indeed. I need to hunt around in there more.

MZ: Me too. Time seems to be the thing I have the least

MF: You’re not alone in that. And this fall is whizzing by.

MZ: Ahhhh deadlines. The thing I’ve been thinking about this week that’s kind of weird is teletypes.

MF: Yeah? How so?

MZ: We updated a bunch of labels in a display that has a teletype in that was used for telegrams, and I can’t help but think about how you could hack some of these historic machines for modern purposes.

MF: Interesting. What did you have in mind?

MZ: I was doing research for the labels and it turns out some steampunk people restore these things… and I got to wondering what other reasons people might have for resurrecting them.

MF: Huh. And that makes me think about how the Germans (I think) have gone back to using typewriters to write secure messages that can’t be hacked.

MZ: Yeah, I played with that concept a little with resurrecting modem BBS systems in the near future in COPPER, but I think there’s more there to play with.

MF: I think you’re right. Hey, did I ever tell you how much I love the computer your MC in COPPER has? I want one.

MZ: ME TOO. Also her chair. Omg… that chair. I want that chair so bad.

MF: Yes!

MZ: I mean, genre fiction isn’t much fun if you don’t get to “create” all the things you want to exist.

MF: Very true. That’s something I need to get better at, expanding my imagination for the details that could be.

MZ: That story is weird because stuff I pulled out of my brain kept getting invented in the prototype phase between when I wrote it and publication.

…like, the toasters. THOSE EXIST NOW

MF: Really?!

MZ: Yes. And the order-interface touchscreen table for coffee. plus my friend briefly dated a detective from that exact Seattle precinct too.. SO WEIRD.

MF: That’s kind of hilarious.

MZ: It was pretty funny.

MF: And now I’m wondering if I borrowed that order-interface table from you. I need to compare yours with the one I came up with now.

MZ: Eh, it’s simple extrapolating from present tech. I wouldn’t worry about it.

MF: Yeah, pretty much. But you know, I ought to polish it a little differently. Or call it the Minerva-XZ25 or something.

MZ: /shrug I find it weird that you basically order your drink off a touch screen on the Coke Freestyle machines. I think I end up in more people’s fiction than I have any right to.

MF: Your comment about how you end up in lots of other people’s fiction made me laugh. One of my characters is named after you.

MZ: :D

MF: Minerva is a great name. It suited this chick pretty well. She’s a psychic pharmacist.

MZ: Ha! people really seem to like the name, especially writers

MF: There’s just something to it. I gave her the nickname Minnie, though. She hates it.

MZ: Yeah, I can’t imagine anyone would be too enamored with Minnie.

MF: Yeah, me either. Especially in the time frame (1932). Minnie Mouse?

MZ: ooof

MF: Heheheh.

MZ: Mouse Ears Bad.

MF: That would be a good band name, though.

MZ: Probably. I once created a fake band called “Stiff Kitten” I still don’t know why that seemed hilarious to me at the time.

MF: That’s a good one, too. Punk or goth?

MZ: Metal I think.

MF: Even better. It is pretty funny.

MZ: It’s always nice to talk to a fellow writer and museum person :) Have a great trip to Boston and stay warm.

MF: Thanks! Stay warm in Oregon.



Fountain Pen Friday: Ohto Tasche

I stopped off at Uwajimaya in Seattle’s International District on my way back to Portland and decided to check out the gift store cause I thought they might have some fountain pens… and holy cow, did they. I got several and I’m sure I’ll be going back again in the future.



Today’s pen is the Ohto Tasche (Jet Pens, Amazon). It’s somewhat similar to the Ohto Rook in size, but I like this one better. I’m not really a pink kind of girl, but I really adore this pinkish silver color and did in fact choose it out of the available colors.


When you post the cap on the back it becomes very pencil-like in size though heavier in weight. (iPod Nano for scale)



On the back of the pen is a little rubber gasket so the cap slides on smoothly and holds firm, not wiggling at all on the back of the pen as you write. I’m wondering if micro movements in the cap while I’m writing is why I prefer to use most pens un-posted. This is probably the first fountain pen I prefer to use with the cap attached on the back. The design is so… smart. It really works.



The pen alone is REALLY small. It’s small even in MY tiny hand.



I think it also helps that the cap isn’t drastically wider or heavier than the pen. It feels like a single unit when it’s put together in this configuration.



I’m quite liking this pen. It’s very sturdy but thin and nicely balanced without being too heavy.

The Good

  • Really nice cap design both closing the pen and posted.
  • Very thin
  • nicely balanced with or without cap
  • very sturdy
  • standard cartridge

The Bad

  • going to be hard to find a converter to fit, this like the Rook is probably a cartridge only and I don’t think it would work for an eyedropper conversion

Overall grade: A

I decided to try this out first out of my new pens and I’m quite liking it. I’ve even managed to drop this pen on my driveway already and it didn’t even get a scratch. This is a really good travel pen and the way the cap is designed plus being cartridge only makes me think this is a pen that is very very unlikely to leak and a good choice for every-day carry.


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