Fountain Pen Friday: JetPens Chibi Mini Pen


When I found out JetPens was now offering their own low-price mini fountain pen I knew I had to try it.


I was so excited to try this pen because it seemed to be designed with someone like me in mind.

L to R: Otho, Petit1, Kawacco Sport, JetPens Chibi, standard ballpoint

smallest to biggest closed: Ohto, Petit1, Kawaco Sport, JetPens Chibi, standard ballpoint

Here’s a comparison of how big it is in comparison to a standard ballpoint and a bunch of other mini fountain pens.

Largest pen body top to smallest at the bottom

Largest pen body top to smallest at the bottom

As you can see, it isn’t quite as small as the Petit1 without the cap posted, but it is smaller than the Kaweco. It’s about the same weight as the Petit1, maybe a bit lighter if they both had full cartridges in them (my Petit1 does not have a full cartridge right now).  I’m guessing that it will probably do a fine eyedropper conversion but I haven’t tested it.

Pen with cap posted compared to ballpoint

Pen with cap posted compared to ballpoint

With the cap posted on the back it’s pretty much the same size as a standard pen.

Cap posted, pen in hand

Cap posted, pen in hand

This pen feels really nice in my hand. It’s nicely balanced with or without the cap and comfortable to write with.


I want to love this pen. I want to live with with the fierce passion of a bag full of badgers. The design is wonderful. I’m not a fan of the color (it only comes in transparent neon yellow) but I could overlook that. The problem is the nib.



It’s just scratchy and on all the papers I tried it on it was scraping up bits of paper fiber which eventually collected on the nib soaked in ink. It’s not… unusable, but it’s an unpleasant writing experience. I’m hopeful that fiddling with the nib and some sandpaper or maybe even canibalizing a different nib from a different pen and gooping it into place might be possible, because I really like how the pen fits in my hand… I just don’t enjoy using it as it came.



The Good

  • Cheap
  • nice smooth grip
  • standard cartridges
  • wonderful pen design, feels nice in the hand
  • light-weight
  • I think this pen will work for small and large handed people

The Bad

  • only comes in one color and its neon yellow
  • The nib as it arrived is a scratchy writing experience

Overall Grade: C+

The nib problem is a pretty big problem but I’m hopeful I can find some way to doctor it to write smoother cause I really like this pen design.

NaNoWriMo Is Not For Me – And That’s OK

(Due to bad planning on my part there’s no Conversations Between Writers this week.)Power of Words

It’s almost Halloween which means the online murmuring about National Novel Writing Month or NaNoWriMo have begun. Starting November 1 people from all over will try to write 50,000 words in a single 30 day period. There’s a lot of camaraderie and social support in the online sphere during these 30 days and I want to support that sense of community even though I’m not a participant.

See, there’s also a lot of negative posts around this time of year too. I think we’ve all got enough negativity inside our own heads without adding to it. Writing is hard. Pushing yourself is hard. Anything that gets you doing either is a good thing.

50,000 words in 30 days is not my bag, but I know that only because I did participate for multiple years and fumbled my way through. What I suggest is to not see NaNoWriMo as a win or lose sort of journey. It’s a journey of discovery. You can learn something from doing it, even if that’s that you don’t want to do it again. And that’s OK. I hope that this NaNoWriMo brings a new understanding of yourself and your writing.

Fountain Pen Friday: Q&A

I’ve ordered a couple new pens to review, but didn’t have any to do a review this week. Instead I’ve asked for questions (both serious and silly) to answer this week.

Q: What color inks are staining your fingers right now? -Brian

A: None. I’ve actually been composing on the computer this week rather than by hand. I’ve got a nice avocado colored cartridge in the Poquito that I’ve been using to journal with but have somehow avoided smearing it on my fingers.  (Update: by the end of doing the pictures for this blog entry my fingers ended up stained green, red, and brown)

Q: What do you carry when you are traveling?

A: This is always changing. I have Petit1 pens and the Penmanship in my purse right now, but when I go on longer trips I have various pen cases I take with a wide variety of pens and inks. I don’t think I’ve taken the same pens on two different trips.

Q: What does your signature look like?


Q: When did you start using fountain pens and why?

A: I bought some Pilot Varsity disposables back when they were first offered (early 90s?)… and I hated them. It wasn’t until I got discouraged at the available ink colors when I started drafting in non-blue or black colors that I looked at fountain pens again and bought myself a Lamy All-Star… and it’s been an addiction ever since.

Q: If you were a tree, what kind of tree would you be?

A: Birch. Duh.

Q: How the hell do I pick ink? Where do I get it? -Lily

A: I pick ink based almost entirely on color, I don’t mind ending up a little smudged with ink and I don’t have good reasons to use waterproof ink so I don’t worry about ink formulas. However, that is entirely a personal preference. I’d strongly recommend if you’re just starting out to get a bunch of samples of the type of inks you’re contemplating from Yes! Samples! They will send you a little vial of ink that will fill your average pen 2-3 times (check out their available samples here) I’ve found that the cheapest place to get standard cartridges is ebay. Proprietary cartridges and full-size bottles of ink can be bought from the same places you buy fountain pens. Amazon, Jetpens, Gouletpens and your well-stocked art departments (such as at a University Bookstore).

Q: How do I refill the pen without enacting what looked like an ink cartridge beat down in my kitchen? -Lily

A: Lots and lots of paper towels. Ok, I’m being a bit facetious, though having paper towels on hand does help. I asked for a picture of the pen mechanism in question.


Ok, now cartridges are filled before they go on to a pen, but cartridges are filled while attached to the pen. I know, it didn’t make sense to me at first either. It wasn’t until I figured out you actually end up wearing a lot less ink this way that I decided to fill all my pens with the converter attached. So, with the converter attached like you see in the picture above you dip the full nib of the pen (the metal tip part) into the ink and then twist the converter to draw up the plunger inside thus creating a vacuum and filling both the pen and the converter.  Tap the pen against the inside edge of the ink bottle to get rid of extra ink, and then wipe it on rag or paper towel, screw the body of the pen back on and Bob’s your Uncle.

Q: How many octopuses are milked for ink for a single pen? Or do multiple pens make up a single inking? -@starlightgeek 

A: Well, first you have to give the octopus a cookie…

Actually, while you can write with octopus ink, I’d be pretty hesitant to put it into a fountain pen because I’d be afraid it would either cause corrosion or if it dried out in the pen it would be impossible to clean out due to mucus. However, it turns out that the original sepia ink was made from cuttlefish ink mixed with shellac.  All hail the power of Google:

Q: Does licking the nib actually help? -@starlightgeek

A: I… have no idea. I have honestly never tried. I work in a museum and the number one rule about museums is “THOU SHALT NOT LICK ANYTHING”. So it’s never occurred to me to try and I can’t imagine the ink would taste very good and might have stuff you’d rather not ingest in it.

Q: which is your favorite color ink to use in spells to summon the dead? -@starlightgeek

A: That’s a tie between Noodler’s Red-Black which is a very dark reddish color and Noodler’s Antietam which looks like dried blood.

Q: Evolution from quill to fountain pen. Pen accessories, such as blotting paper. When did they stop sanding? -@ULTRAGOTHA
A: Wow. I’m afraid that the evolution question is a little above my paygrade. I’m just an amateur fountain pen user. I imagine someone got sick and tired of constantly dipping their dip pen (which had been the metal improvement on the quill) and decided there had to be a better way. (Let’s check the internet: & seem like some pretty good quick look at the topic). I haven’t used blotting paper myself as I have plenty of paper towels and don’t own anything I’m afraid to touch with said paper towels. As for the last question there, I’m assuming you mean when did they stop sanding nibs? I understand that people still grind nibs to come up with customized writing instruments, but I think some of the sanding had to do with getting built-up india ink off of dip pens, but that’s outside my experience.
Q: Has there been any alternatives for lefties other than that wild-looking nib?
A: I am right-handed, but I do write in very small notebooks and have my own problems with smearing my own writing. So, to simulate lefty-hand-dragging directly on what you’ve just written I drew a line and followed it with a knuckle pressed to the paper.
So there are three things that effect how much the ink smears are: paper, ink, and nib width. As you can see the post-it smears way worse than the notebook (Woot unlined). Also the wider parallel nib smears more than the others. I don’t keep fast-drying ink around, but that can also help. What really trips up lefties are flexible nibs because the design of how it is meant to work with the motion of right hand writing and so it ends up splattering ink.  However, most of your lower-priced fine-nib pens are going to work fine for lefties as long as you don’t write on super smooth paper that holds the ink on the surface longer. There are left-handed student pens (such as: but I can’t speak for their usefulness.
Q:What’s a good starter fountain pen? Why do you love them so much? What are their advantages over more plebeian pens? -@SaraEileen
A: Y’know… I think I’m going to give you a good range of stuff. I think you would really like the Petit1 not only in the fountain pen version but also in the brush pen version. I think for writing the Poquito or the Metropolitan are pretty good starter pens. A lot of people start with the Lamy Al-star but I’m not sure it’s the best starter since it does have the ergonomic grip. The reason I love fountain pens is the same reason I love nail polish, you can use so many colors! You also re-use almost everything so there’s less waste over other pens and using a converter it’s cheaper to use bottled ink over disposable pens (but really I’m in this for the colors).
Q: Also, will they bite me? I’m very concerned about this. -@SaraEileen
A: No. They will occasionally get a little ink on you but its no worse than any other kind of art medium.
Q: ‏Tell me about changing nibs. What’s up with that? I’ve only done it with Lamy. -@christieyant
A: I haven’t done it at all. I understand how to do it on the Lamy but that’s the only pen I own that has changeable nibs (that I know of).  However, I will take this opportunity to point people at the information section of Goulet Pens which actually has videos and answers most question you can ever have about how to do things.
Q: If I spill the ink from a fountain pen and it forms a puddle, should I toss a penny in it for a wish? -@nisamcp
A: It depends on if the puddle is on your floor or someone else’s and how fast you can run.
Q: Do you draw with the pens, or just write stuff?-@JeffreyPetersen
A: I doodle a bit, but I’m not much of an artist.
Q:Have you ever bested a swordsman using a pen?-@JeffreyPetersen
A: No, it ended in a draw.

Ghosts in the IM: Conversations Between Writers (and Editors)

Jaym Gates

Jaym Gates is a writer, editor, and communication specialist. You can find out more about her at and follow her on Twitter.


Minerva Zimmerman: Well… so you’ve discovered you’re an editor.

Jaym Gates: I am?

MZ:  It appears so. You keep doing anthologies and show no signs of stopping

I”m afraid you have a terminal case of Editor.

JG: And every time I consider it, Charles Tan and Ken Liu start getting Ideas.

MZ: not just them, they’re just more public about harassing you.

JG: I think it’s a sport at this point. But yeah, I’ve got a bunch of stuff hanging over my head like the Sword of Damocles. Also, if I start usin’ an Old West sort of lingo, I apologize. I’m editing to dev notes.

MZ: I was thinking more like wondering if you were wearing the gold lame shorts from Rocky Horror

JG: I don’t do shorts. Or lame. Class is a lost art. *sniffs haughtily*

MZ: Lame is such a bad idea in general.

JG: It really is. *shudder*

MZ:  How many projects that are YOUR projects are you working on right now? Or is that a bad question?

JG: Erm. So, War Stories is out in the wild now. Got some launch events and big reviews ahead of us.I have 111k words to edit on Genius Loci, which is hitting Kickstarter on November 4, and we have a Reddit AMA on November 18. The Exalted RPG anthology is waiting for one more story and my copy-edits, but it’s almost ready to go, and pretty awesome. And I juuuuuuuuust got the greenlight on something I’m *super* excited about–another tie-in RPG anthology–on Saturday, but until the contracts are signed, can’t say anything. So those are my four current projects, and Rich Dansky and I are noodling something.

MZ:  uh oh

JG: And then I’ve got something kind of sort of planned with Ken and Charles for next year, but we’ll see if that moves beyond a Twitter joke.

MZ: Pretty sure something will, if it’s what you’ve talked about now or not remains to be seen. What else is burning up your brain these days?

JG: Doing a TON of writing, all of the sudden. Sold a bunch of short stories last year, and then, this year, got a bunch of stuff all at once.

MZ: That’s awesome

JG: So I’m doing RPG writing for a project that I don’t think can be named at the moment, and a tie-in story for another shared world, and Dave Gross pinged me about a possible project, and Ken Scholes and I are working on a bunch of stuff together. And I’m doing some serious raging at GamerGate, so that’s about 15k words there, probably.

MZ: Yeah. I just bonded with a female coworker over games today, didn’t know she was a gamer and it came up randomly in conversation and then we geeked out for like 45 min. I want to go back to games being only awesome. y’know

JG: Oh, cool. And yeah, can we just get back to making stuff, please?

MZ: and enjoying stuff Privilege is not having to think about stuff. I miss that about games.

JG: Ugh, yeah, going to be a while til we get that back. But I kind of disagree with the common theme: it’s actually good that this happened. The industry needed a painful evolution.

MZ: Yeah, just… I’d rather the learning curve didn’t have to go THROUGH us.

JG: Look at it this way: we’re getting to help build a great industry.

MZ: And I’m not even catching crap directly. It’s thousands of times worse for those that are… just for speaking.

So, I want to talk about horses. Not that I know anything you can’t learn in 15 min before a trail ride on the oldest slowest mares in the world. You’re passionate about horses and seem to window shop for horses on the internet the way I look for a third dog.

JG: Haha, pretty much, except my habit is WAY more expensive…

MZ: I have not been tempted and I even have a barn suitable for horses.

JG: They’re basically gigantic, long-lived dogs, when it comes right down to it.

MZ: I do think about maybe getting some goats… and then I think better of it.


MZ: Yeah there was a horse in the field next door for awhile and it seemed to have the temperament of a curious Labrador …and I totally got it in trouble one day and I wasn’t thinking about it. See, I’d had all these apples I’d been storing in a tote on my porch, and they got a little old so I dumped them in my back pasture for the deer to eat.

JG: Ooops

MZ: And the next thing I knew my back fence had been mended and there were horse shoe prints all over my field.

JG: Hahaha

MZ: So, pretending that I WAS going to get a horse… what are things to look for in a giant goggie?

JG: Depends on what you’re using it for. If you just want a giant dog, there are TONS of rescues out there who have horses that’ve had a rough break in life and need a loving human and steady supply of feed. (Horses are more susceptible than any other creature to abuse, neglect, and economic woes, due to their size and expense.) If you want a riding animal, again, a lot of rescues have older horses who’re well-trained, but had a rough break. And yeah, they may be 20, but they often live to their early 30s, with good care and gentle use. At that point, you want a horse that moves freely, engages with a human well, and doesn’t have a bad back or knees. Kind of like humans. :P

MZ: I would be a terrible horse.

JG: Awwwww, we’d put you down humanely though.

MZ: They kill writers don’t they? Wait, no… writers kill characters.

JG: Oh, is that the way it’s supposed to work? Oops, brb…ahem.

MZ: That’s not what I gave you a shovel for. Though, to be fair I did know it was a possibility.

speaking of horses and writing–  Horses are something that writers get terribly and completely wrong a lot of the time.

JG: Oh god, yes. About the horses, not the shovel, er, never mind.

MZ: :P What are some simple tips for writers to not do stupid horse things?

JG: Learn what a ‘hand’ is. One of my favorite authors has ‘gigantic draft horses’ that are 15 hands high, which is the average height for a horse. Like a guy being 5’10. At least LOOK at a diagram of equine anatomy so that you’re not having your character pet the fetlock on the nose of the poor pretzeled horse. And read up on some history, if you want to use horses. They’re *amazing* creatures, and honestly, a lot of writers underserve them. Screw Lassie, there are horses that have done amazing feats.

MZ: Ok, I actually know that a fetlock is a foot bit.

JG: *claps* Yay!

MZ: You’d think that US Cavalry movies with horses doing amazing things would have caught on during the Western years

JG: There were some, just nothing that really hit mainstream. I mean, Mr. Ed, Silver, Flash, there were a TON of celebrity horses, but that was a long time ago.

MZ: You know, they don’t taxidermy cowboys.

JG: Oddly…

MZ: A lot of celebrity horses got taxidermied. I find this unsettling and weird. Maybe because I work with a lot of taxidermy. I mean they plasticize some scientists if they ask for it… but that’s about it

JG: Ha, hmmm… I don’t like wax or taxidermied things, really.

MZ: I just don’t think you should uh… preserve beings with known personalities. Cause you can’t preserve the personality part and so it just becomes a weird creepy shell thing.

JG: Exactly!

MZ: Well, this conversation went weird at some point. It’s probably my fault. This is probably a good point to ask if there’s anything else you’d like to talk about that we haven’t covered?

JG: Between the two of us, it’s not ‘if’, it’s ‘when’.

The only thing I can think of is that people should keep their eyes open for some pretty cool SFWA projects, and that there’s a great company called Make Believe Games that I’m doing PR for, and we’ll have some fun multimedia stuff coming out soon there, too.

Monteverde Poquito





Today’s pen is the Monteverde Poquito (Available at Goulet Pens)


Monteverde Poquito

Christie sent me this pen thinking that I’d love it… and she was right!

Monteverde Poquito cap off

Monteverde Poquito cap off

It’s entirely metal so it feels super sturdy. There’s a stylistic point at the top of the cap that looks a little weird to my eye, but I figure it might just be in case you need to use this pen in hand to hand combat to take out an enemy with a temple shot.

Club Card shown for scale.

Club Card shown for scale.

The pen isn’t heavy but it has a really pleasing weight to it. The cap snaps on with the absolutely most satisfying click noise. It is hard not to fiddle with this pen when you carry it.

Pen in hand with cap

Pen in hand with cap

It is an adorable little pen with a metallic, almost holographic nail polish sort of color.


Pen in hand no cap

Pen in hand no cap

I really enjoy how Monteverde nibs write, so I find it lovely to write with.

Pen Test

Pen Test

Pen Test 2

Pen Test 2


The Good

  • cute!
  • nice smooth grip
  • standard cartridges
  • lovely to write with
  • sturdy with a nice weight to it
  • satisfying click noise putting cap on

The Bad

  • can’t stop fiddling with it – very tactile
  • pretty sure this is going to feel small to a lot of people who are not me
  • some converters may not fit (haven’t tried the one Christie sent with it yet, but I assume it will work eyeballing it)

Overall Grade: A

This pen hasn’t left my notebook since I put ink in it about five days ago. There’s just something about this pen that makes me want to pick it up and use it. If you like small pens I highly recommend picking this one up. (And if you don’t believe me you can go watch the video over at Goulet Pens about it


Ghosts in the IM: Conversations Between Writers

Andrea Phillips


Andrea is a multi-faceted storyteller. You can learn more about her at You can read her work at http://lucysmokeheart.comhere and she can be found on Twitter.


Andrea Phillips: :D

Minerva Zimmerman: Pirates. I wanna talk about pirates.


MZ: You have a series of short novels about a pirate captain and I’m curious what it is about pirates that drew you? I mean obviously pirates are awesome, but what it is it in particular for you?

AP: Actually “pirates are awesome” is exactly it. I wanted to do a longer-term project for reasons of discipline and possibly revenue stream, funded on Kickstarter. So when you go to Kickstarter, you have to consider what it is that you’re good at, and what it is that The Internet likes and might potentially be into backing even if they don’t know you *personally* So I literally made a list titled “things that are awesome”

MZ: :D

AP: It was like: Ninjas, pirates, zombies, games…

MZ: I’m with you on everything but zombies

AP: I’m not sure why “pirates” is the one that stuck. This name Lucy Smokeheart kinda popped into my head, and I thought it was super hokey and planned to change it later. But it turns out it was hokey in the I-secretly-love-it way and not the this-is-seriously-just-a-placeholder way

MZ: I do love it when that happens. I have a pirate character named Lawless McCord.

AP: That is ALSO AWESOME. How piratey are your pirates?

MZ: and there’s actually an in-world reason for it and everything.

AP: Because the funny thing about pirates is mostly they’re not… actually… particularly piratey at all?

MZ: Pretty piratey. He’s a privateer for the Emperor

AP: Wow, exciting!

MZ: so, I guess he’d never consider himself a pirate.

AP: My pirates are a sort of Disney super sanitized version of piracy. No actual pirating ever occurs. It’s all socialist lizard-people and enormous chocolate sculptures all up in here :)

MZ: That’s pretty awesome

AP: I mostly aim to amuse myself and have a good time with it, though that can be hard sometimes

MZ: I hear you’re knee-deep in revising your novel Revision these days. Does that ever get inception-y?

AP: Ahhhhhahah I make so many jokes about that. So many.

MZ: that’s good!

AP: The sequel will be Advanced Review Copy. Followed up by All Edits, Complete Draft, and Working Title.

MZ: I love this so much.

AP: :) It’s a weird feeling, actually, revising Revision. In my line of work, I don’t often get a chance to redraft as I see fit after the manuscript has had time to cool. I do a lot of just-in-time writing, and 85% of the time my first draft is what goes.

MZ: I don’t think I’m actually aware what your line of work is?

AP: So I’m drowning in this luxury of being able to see what isn’t so great and *fix it now*

Oh! I’m a game designer? Or more precisely I make immersive and interactive experiences for games and for marketing campaigns. I am a *transmedia pundit*!

MZ: I was thinking by your description it was either games or comics :)

AP: It can be a tough business *cough cough gamergate* But I think there are things you can do in interactive media you can’t do any other way. I’m planning to do a project called Attachment Study hopefully next year, that is among other things the story of a character *falling in love with you* over email

MZ: oh how cool

AP: Man romance novels are awesome but *falling in love with you* is better ^_^

Dragon Age, you know? Are you a Bioware player? Do you have a crush on Alistair?

MZ: I have not, I was super hard-core Warcraft at the time I should have played it.

AP: It was FREE for PC yesterday. Maybe it still is! It’s still worth the play, I would highly recommend it :)

MZ: How long is a play-through?

AP: Hmmmm I think 40 hours-ish?

MZ: oh that’s not bad. I’m a pretty obsessive player so I don’t do much else when I play games.

AP: It’s not SUPER long. I mean it’s not like Skyrim. Yeah me neither, it’s sort of an issue for me, the binge-playing So I don’t buy and start a game unless I know I can lose a week of productivity

I binge-work, too, which I guess makes up for it?

MZ: I’m actually using my obsessive gamer tendencies to un-screw all my habits with HabitRPG right now

AP: Oh! I’ve started using HabitRPG! I’m very bad at it.

MZ: it seems to be almost written for how I obsess

AP: Which is embarrassing because my habits are things like “take a shower” and “take your vitamins”

MZ:…uh, why is that embarrassing? I thought that is what it is for :D

AP: it’s embarrassing that those are my habits I’m trying to do and I *still cannot do them*

MZ: both of those are literally ON MY LIST RIGHT NOW

AP: Oh man that makes me feel better, actually. You know the thing about comparing yourself to how you THINK other people are? I have a bad case of that

MZ: apparently I motivate through gold and loots

AP: See, I’m more a cheevies kinda person. Cookie Clicker, man. The dumbest game in the world BUT SO MANY ACHIEVEMENTS TO EARN

MZ: the pet collecting is what gets me. It’s why I stayed with Warcraft waaaaaay past the rest of the game being any fun

AP: I haven’t gone that far in yet! I only just recently started, so I don’t quite know how to play yet

MZ: Oh! You have to get to uhm level 4 I think? and then you start getting random loots

AP: I had hit level 2 and then I died

MZ: but it doesn’t hurt to die at low levels very much

AP: I had dumb cancer last week so I used that as my excuse to spend several days as a hedonistic slob

MZ: sounds legit. You can check yourself into the INN when you’re not up to doing stuff

AP: Oh man that’s a thing?

MZ: totes. It’s very well designed, and only unlocks stuff at a gradual pace so you don’t get overwhelmed

AP: I used to do very well with Health Month. The community angle was pretty helpful to me

But there’s a weird sort of struggle I have around structure and habits

MZ: with this you can form parties and do quests, fight monsters, by succeeding at your tasks

AP: …I’m sitting here thinking “maybe I should fold a basket of laundry tonight to get some more points”

MZ: yeah, this is the first thing that’s really seemed to work in any sustainable way for me

AP: You are a good influence on me!

MZ: I also decided to only make my own laundry my task and have made everyone else in the household fold their own laundry. It’s just too overwhelming otherwise

AP: That’s awesome. I long for the day when my children are old enough for that

MZ: I also have an entire shelving unit dedicated to putting clean laundry until it gets folded

cause folding is stupid pants

AP: We sort of have a swamp of clean laundry on the floor of our closet *hangs head in shame*

MZ: Yeah, the shelving unit was my upgrade from clean laundry swamp

AP: Hahah

MZ: cause, changing our actual habits was totally not going to happen :)

AP: It’s good to be able to acknowledge these deep truths about yourself. I mean, sometimes you just have to admit that you’re not that person. ^_^

MZ: I am not a lot of people, especially organized people

AP: Aaaaahhhahahah I’m not a gardener, no matter how much I wish I was.

MZ: oh, me either… and I so very much wish I was

AP: It’s a nice dream, isn’t it? The pottering and the fresh flowers and your own tomatoes

But then you actually go outside and it’s buggy and there’s the stupid sun

MZ: My house looks like a white trash version of Sleeping Beauty with blackberry vines taking over everything

AP: And everything is totally horrible in every possible way. We have raspberries in our back yard! I planted them long ago before I knew I was not a gardener

MZ: We have 2 acres and a barn!

AP: They do well here, but not so well that it’s a problem like they might in other parts of the country. Oh man that’s amazing

MZ: it is until the blackberries start to take over

AP: But!

MZ: and then you’re out there like Ash in Evil Dead with a trimmer.

AP: You get to eat blackberries! Warm from the sun!

MZ: it’s true, that’s pretty awesome. What else has been warming up your brain meats recently?

AP: Hmmmmmmmmmmmmmmm I’ve been thinking a lot about feminist stuff

And talking a lot about feminist stuff I am a Strident Feminist, you know!

MZ: …you chew a lot of gum? :D

AP: Hahaha No but seriously, issues of fairness and representation are really important to me, so I try to *talk* about it

MZ: Yeah, my loved ones are apparently sick of me talking about feminist stuff of late to the point where they have arguments with feminist me in their head without me saying a word. It’s pretty awesome. All the outcome, none of the work.

AP: I don’t always have the energy for it, but I seem to have the fight in me right now.

Oh dude that’s fantastic

MZ: I suspect I’m contagious and everyone ends up with a little me inside their head causing problems eventually

AP: The interesting thing is I don’t get as much pushback as I always expect

MZ: It is getting better.

AP: You know, I think the internet as a whole is getting better. I was just saying today, I think comments sections are getting better

MZ: People are more aware, and there’s less ignorance or disbelief now.

AP: I look at YouTube comments on a random video and they’re… you know, FINE. I hit a random blog and skim the comments and they’re not always Just and Progressive, but they’re usually better than not. Maybe this says something about me and my browsing and viewing habits, but I really do think the etiquette for how we expect people to behave online is maturing

MZ: I think the past 6 months or so have shined a very bright light and scattered some of the cockroaches.

AP: Yeah.

MZ: I mean clearly we haven’t managed to exterminate them, but it’s a start.

AP: Now if only we could get harassment and incitement to harass made into actual crimes

…Not that I trust our current batch of lawmakers to do that in a sensible way, but jeez, some of the behaviors we see shouldn’t be legal if you ask me ^_^ It’s a complicated thing, isn’t it?

MZ: I think we just need precedence to show that they fall under current laws of stalking and the like.

AP: And a legal system that recognizes that “just don’t go online” is not a viable solution

MZ: I’m not sure if new legislation would help as much as enforcing current ones in digital spaces. Right. I don’t know about you, but I live in a very rural area, so the internet is the vast majority of my social connections.

AP: I live in the suburbs of New York, but the internet is still the vast majority of my social connections. Working at home, you know, and never going much of anywhere. There’s a problem writers have of living too much in the mind and not enough in the body. That’s part of it, I should probably just get out more in a super basic sense ;)

MZ: I have also put all of my stretching exercises on my habit list :) because of this

AP: For a while I was swimming about a kilometer a day, and it was fantastic! Very meditative and definitely helped my stress levels

MZ: I like walking. I need to take more walks. So much beautiful stuff around here and I never get out in it.

AP: Especially after I found goggles that did not leak

MZ: That is terribly important.

AP: Exercise, man. Outdoor exercise is Not For Me because skin cancer, but I always liked hiking

MZ: The museum I work for has an interpretive trails site near my house I should spend more time at.

AP: Oh neat!

MZ: Especially since I can take the dogs.

AP: Museums are awesome in general

MZ: I just need to get them little orange vests for right now because of hunting season.

AP: I have a crush on weird quirky museums that have like fifteen things in them. It’s interesting to think about how those objects are all there because at some point they were very important to somebody

MZ: I wish my museum only had 15 things! I’m in charge of the things. And I don’t have an exact number but it’s more like 50,000

AP: That is a *lot of things* OK so It’s like the warehouse at the end of Indiana Jones, right?

MZ: …yes

AP: Promise me it’s just like that :D

MZ: actually I have a building that looks a lot like that, with the crates and everything

AP: …and you have the stencil, right?

MZ: I keep meaning to make one

AP: I mean basically in my mind you just transformed into that dude at the end of the movie

MZ: Hey, I managed to hide a Ghostbusters quote in my exhibit. I’m pretty happy about that.

AP: Though it’s possible my vision is wavering a little bit with The Librarian. Ahaha! Which quote?!


AP: Oh man That’s amazing

MZ: I warn you, I am about to make you feel really old with a museum thing I’ve been dealing with.

AP: This is OK

MZ: But current K-8 students, were born between 1996 and 2009

AP: Oh yeah I have two of them ~_^

MZ: the things they have no reference for is amazing

AP: When they were toddlers they would take pictures with their play phones

MZ: I was trying to explain this to a roomful of 80 year olds the other day

AP: The idea of a phone you can’t take pictures with is weird to them. It took each of them until they were 6 or 7 to understand “that TV show is not on right now”

MZ: I get hit with the hard explanations on both ends of the age spectrum :)

AP: Oh man yeah that could be a neat trick!

MZ: I was trying to explain that to get kids to understand a record player, I also have to explain…y’know.. CDs and tape players

AP: Yep! My kids don’t remember cars that didn’t lock with a key fob, or roll-up window handles

MZ: and that items they have laying around in their closets are exactly the sort of things I’d like to have for hands-on learning even though it isn’t “old” to an 80 year old.

AP: Ahahaha. I can just imagine. To bring this back a little — my older one recently found the iron in the closet and was super baffled…She does not remember ever seeing it used…

MZ: and that these kids don’t remember a time the US wasn’t at war.

AP: Yeah, that one is sobering. I was raised in the USAF so I have a slightly different relationship with war

MZ: it’s just weird on a museum end, because I have WWII stuff coming out of my damned ears but… I don’t have much for military stuff past Korean War

AP: For most kids today it’s very abstract. But when I was 9 or so I was reading military nuclear war survival manuals for some reason. This is the thing I super loved when I read Watchmen — only a few years ago

MZ: Cold War stuff, I remember having bomb drills in school.

AP: It *so perfectly* captures that zeitgeist of the 80s, that feeling that we were all going to die at any moment in a nuclear holocaust

MZ: exactly!

AP: It really did feel like the edge of the end of the world

MZ: and then the early 90s was when we all started feeling like the country was going to rip apart from the inside and be a civil war… and then it all turned into TV pundits instead of fighting.

AP: I dunno, I remember feeling in the early 90s like maybe it was all going to be OK

MZ: I lived in Seattle :)

AP: The Berlin Wall coming down

MZ: Grunge was a very Dark Time.

AP: For a while it looked like there would be peace in Israel, before Rabin got shot. Jesus Jones and Right Here, Right Now, you know? ~_^

MZ: yeah ok, like 89-92 was pretty good

AP: But yeah it didn’t last

MZ: nope. sigh.

AP: For a little while when Obama first came in it felt like that again — hopeful. But it’s been a very long time at this point.

MZ: and now it feels like I should get to scream “Dystopian Novels were not HOW TO BOOKS!!!”

AP: Yeah. Oh gosh there’s this whole thing I feel like one of the roles of science fiction is to show what the future can be like, right?

MZ: Absolutely.

AP: But that puts us at the mercy of horrible futures. Because it’s a lot harder to drum up drama in a utopia I mean utopian fiction where the utopia doesn’t have a Dark Flaw is fundamentally more challenging to write, which is why you see less of it. I keep trying to figure out how to write a story for which the message is, “providing a basic minimum income for all people would be a good idea”. But how do you take something like that and make it into a story that’s… you know… not a super boring economic treatise?!

MZ: Yesterday Kate Elliot and Daniel José Older, and Rosefox were talking about the subversive power of happy endings.

AP: Oh yeah?

MZ: Yeah, that showing happiness for people society says don’t get happy endings is a subversive act. That really appeals to me right now and I think SF/F doesn’t get enough happy endings in general

AP: Actually this is one of the things about Lucy Smokeheart So OK it’s a super goofy and not at all serious project, right? I have an Artisitic Statement about it floating around somewhere, and basically it says it’s my rejection of the Game of Thrones aesthetic where everything is horrible forever and there is no narrative justice. I *miss* narrative justice and I wish it would make a roaring comeback, I’m so tired of gritty and realistic.

MZ: I think you can be realistic without being gritty

AP: Do you remember the humor SF in the 80s? There was a ton of it back then

MZ: I mean, my going and getting a coffee is rarely a gritty experience unless the grinder is broken. YES!!! I LOVE IT

AP: The Myth Adventures series, Stainless Steel Rat

MZ: I’m trying to bring some of that back too.

AP: We used to know how to have fun, man. What happened to fun?!

MZ: I think humor is under utilized and a lot of SF authors who write “humor” write it like… Heavy Metal style “humor” so there’s all sorts of gross stuff, and that’s not what I want at all

AP: Mmmmm yeah. I really dig what Mur Lafferty’s done with her Shambling Guide and so on

MZ: I want characters who have fun and get in absurd situations and know its absurd but make the best of it.

AP: And of course there’s still Terry Pratchett But I feel like funny-SF just isn’t out there in the market very much these days

MZ: Yes. I’m slowly rationing myself through the Discworld books, because they make me so happy.

AP: Hahah

MZ: generally we do them audiobook in the car on long trips

AP: I love them but I can’t read too many or I stop enjoying them! Like eating too much candy

MZ: Audiobooks are good for that

AP: Alas I don’t spend enough time in a car for audiobooks

MZ: They are also awesome for house-cleaning

AP: I put like… three thousand miles a year on my car

MZ: then I feel like I am multi-tasking

AP: I used to listen to podcasts at the gym. Man I used to have such good habits, what happened to me?! Tsk

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

AP: Wait wait

Let’s talk about


Man now I’m trying to think of something amazing and hilarious

And of course I can’t

MZ: tap-dancing newts?


MZ: I mean they’d have to get tap shoes otherwise they’d just go “slush”

AP: I don’t think they’d do so well in shoes. It would be like putting a toddler on roller skates

They wouldn’t know what to do without toe suction!

MZ: /is totally checking YouTube for toddlers in roller-skate videos now

AP: I think we need to make this happen

MZ: Ok, who do we know that can make tiny webbed tap shoes?

AP: I bet there are thousands of those. Because parents are horrible. The videos, I mean, not the newt shoes

MZ: …I dunno maybe I should check etsy, someone might make newt tap shoes

AP: Gotta be I mean surely this falls under some subcategory of Rule 34

MZ: a crafting subcategory? If a weird craft item doesn’t already exist…

AP: Yeahhhh. You know about Regretsy? It is the best thing.

MZ: it’s gooooone


MZ: /cry


MZ: it was the best thing…

AP: This is the very saddest thing in the world.

MZ: I’m sorry, I thought you knewand now I want to write humor sf in which someone mourns Regretsy in a regrettable way

AP: Wow it’s been down since January of LAST YEAR. That shows you how up on my latest breaking internet news I am. You should write that story.

MZ: I only found out recently. Well, unfortunately my family apparently would like to eat some time today… so I should get going. Gah, humans… it’s like they think they should eat more than once a day.

AP: All right. It’s been lovely talking to you!

Bourbon Pen

My friend Brian sent me this pen because it combines fountain pens and bourbon, two of my favorite things. You can get your own at and you should totally click on that link and go drool over all of their pretty pretty pens.



Doods, it is a wood pen with chrome accents that is made out of the wood of a bourbon barrel. In fact it comes with a certificate of authenticity and chunk of barrel wood cut into a pen rest that smells deliciously of bourbon. What, no I don’t just sit here and sniff it sometimes. That’d be crazy…



This pen is impressive looking. I was worried that it was going to be too big for my small hands, but then I took the cap off and the actual part you hold is a very nice width.

pen posted on the back

pen posted on the back

The back of the pen has threading so you can screw the cap securely on the back, which is handy for those of you who like to do that. I’m personally not a fan, but this pen is very nicely balanced with or without the cap on the back.


This is probably the fanciest pen I own and I feel kind of badass when I use it.

pen in the hand without cap

pen in the hand without cap

It really isn’t as big as you think it might be and the grip is really nice, plus the wood feels amazing against your hand between the thumb and forefinger.

pen in hand with cap on back.

pen in hand with cap on back.

It’s a little long with the cap posted, but not bad. Remember my hands are TINY. I should become a hand model for value meal burgers or something.

Pen Test. I totally had to use the whiskey-scented ink to christen it.

Pen Test. I totally had to use the whisky-scented ink to christen it.

The Good

  • Gorgeous
  • nice smooth grip
  • comes with converter
  • standard cartridges
  • writes nice
  • well-made
  • wood
  • comes with a bourbon barrel pen rest wood chunk

The Bad

  • it’s too nice for traveling
  • a little heavy

Overall Grade: A

This is one of my nicest pens and absolutely the fanciest pen I own. I really like touching it and using it. Plus the pen rest smells amazing. I generally store this pen on its rest in a place of honor on my desk. It looks cool even when it’s not being used.

Writers Wanted



No Ghosts in the IM: Conversations with Writers today due to installing my very first exhibit at the museum. I’ve helped with a lot (and at previous museums) but this is the first exhibit I designed and planned and lost sleep over. However… I do need volunteers and for people to suggest others for future Conversations. Check out past Conversations and the submission form here:

You can also email me directly or message me on Twitter if you’re interested.

I’m going to go collapse now and try to recover from this very exciting week.

Pen and Ink Sketch Fountain Pen

Spoiler Alert – I hate this pen.


I genuinely thought I’d thrown this pen away. It’s by Pen and Ink, who happen to make my favorite small notebooks. Good Notebooks. Do not recommend the pens.


pen without cap

pen without cap

I haven’t used this pen very much and you can see the damage. This is by far the cheapest feeling pen I own.


it comes with a “suede wrap” that… I guess you’re supposed to wrap around the pen at all times so it doesn’t come in contact with life lest it get all scratched and dinged up?

the chrome is peeling off

the chrome is peeling off

another shot of the peeling metal accent

another shot of the peeling metal accent

Detail of ridge right by nib

Detail of ridge right by nib

This is also the WORST designed pen I own. There is a raised ridge right at the end of the pen where you grip… or at least I do… IT HURTS TO WRITE WITH. The ridge digs into your fingers and makes the act of using it a horrible experience.


It’s a fine size, but it comes apart easily, feels cheap and extremely light for its size. I know I know, I normally really LIKE light pens, but this one is just… I mean even the disposable Pilot pens feel sturdier than this thing.  It feels flimsy.


The nib is nothing to write home about either. It feels scratchy and uneven against the paper. It has the textural feel of the sound of fingernails on a blackboard.

The Good

  • It comes with a piece of leather?
  • standard cartridge
  • comes with converter

The Bad

  • flimsy and cheap feeling
  • terrible writing experience
  • easily damaged
  • stupid ridge in gripping section of pen

Overall Grade: F – There are a ton of cheaper pens that are better made and nicer to use than this one.


Ghosts in the IM: Conversations Between Writers

Christie Yant


Christie is one of the writers I’m happy to be able to consider a personal mentor. When there’s something I need to noodle out about life and career she’s someone I turn to. You probably know her most recently as the editor of Women Destroy Science Fiction.  If you’re not familiar with her fiction peruse the list at her website. As always I recommend you follow her on Twitter.

Minerva Zimmerman: How are you doing this morning? It’s nice but windy here today.

Christie Yant: I’m a little sleepy! I stupidly stayed up way too late last night, doing nothing at all useful. How are YOU? Do you have enough coffee?

MZ: I think that’s our inner children not wanting to go to bed.

CY: Very much so. I honestly feel like a three-year-old at times, mentally kicking and screaming and refusing to go to sleep no matter how tired I am.

MZ: I have caffeinated sparkling water. I always drink coffee with silly amounts of sugar and cream in it.

CY: My tastes changed all of a sudden last year and I started taking my coffee black after a life time of cream and sugar. It was strange. Have you been able to give the Poquito a try yet?

MZ: I haven’t yet because I broke my phone so I can’t take pictures. I’m hoping my replacement comes today or tomorrow

CY: Oh ha! Do you always document it the first time you use a new pen?

MZ: Not always, but I need to figure out if I lost any pictures of the last 4 I took pictures of and I didn’t want to put ink into it yet cause I have ink in so many right now.

CY: /nods

MZ: I’m terrible at not cleaning out my pens so I’m trying to be better about it.

CY: I’m paring my collection down to a few favorites now. Which means that I get to be the Pen Fairy to a bunch of friends. :D

MZ: Yeah I need to figure out some kind of blog giveaway or something.

CY: Good idea!

MZ: I have a few that are just not suited to me or how I write.

CY: The Lamy Safari and Al-Star were like that for me. I just can’t write with them.

MZ: the grip?

CY: They’re a favorite for a lot of people, but they’re just not compatible with the way I hold my pens. Yeah. I got a different Lamy, though, with a straight barrel and grip, and I love it. (The Lamy Logo.)

MZ: Oooo. Yeah I think that’s one I’ve been looking at. it’s a lot smaller isn’t it?

CY: That and the CP1 I think is the other one that looks similar. Yeah, very slender. The Logo is pretty heavy still, despite the small size.

MZ: I have one I need to get a review up that is the smallest pen I’ve ever used. Even smaller than the Petite1!

CY: Ooo! Which one? Or is it a secret?

MZ: Ohto Rook

CY: Oh I have one of those! It was my second…no, third fountain pen.

MZ: I’m kind of excited about trying it as my purse pen

CY: It’s good for that! The cap got dented when I was carrying it regularly, but it is a good little pen.

MZ: I… I kind of like it when pens get little dents and scratches. Makes them have mileage

CY: It says more about the way I treat things in my purse than it says about the pen, of course. And yeah, pens should be loved!

MZ: Hey, I’m the one who managed to dump enough coke into the bottom of a purse to send my phone swimming recently

CY: hahaha erm I mean sorry to hear that

MZ: I was like “That’ll learn me to be girly!” or at least to carry a purse that’s waterproof on the inside

CY: Are there such things? I might need one myself.

MZ: well, apparently this cheapo purse was reasonably water tight it was not the reason I bought it :P I bought it because it was like a super small messenger bag and less than $30

CY: An excellent purchase

MZ: We were talking a bit about short stories last week. I didn’t get a chance to ask you, did editing (and slushing) Women Destroy Science Fiction change how you look at stories you read?

CY: Yes and no–I’d been slushing at Lightspeed for a few years already, so there wasn’t a real shift in that regard. But once I knew what my vision for the issue was, I knew what kind of stories I was looking for. I had to pass on a lot of great stories. Fortunately John bought several of them for other issues, so I didn’t have to feel too badly about letting them go!

MZ: :) awesome

CY: But it also meant that I had to read everything and I couldn’t rely on slush readers to weed things out for me. I always took their comments into consideration (they worked SO HARD) but I still ended up reading every submission myself. That was a crazy couple of months–I was traveling non-stop for my day job, working crazy long days and trying to get through 1000+ submissions, get a TOC finalized, handle a bunch of administrivia

MZ: Oof I hope you’ve been taking some time afterward

CY: Oh yes. The past couple of months I’ve taken time off and haven’t committed myself to any new writing or editing projects. I’m back to just working on short stories on spec.

I owe a revision to an editor for a story coming out next year…hm, I’d better get that done.

For Lightspeed right now I’m just working on a guide for the next Guest Editor (Seanan McGuire), a new website that’ll act as a clearing house for all of our DESTROY projects, and a Zazzle store that is like a month and a half overdue to launch.

MZ: Oooo Women Destroy T-shirts

CY: I really need to get that up before Women Destroy Fantasy and Women Destroy Horror come out on October 1. Yes! And mugs, and stickers, etc. John has been referring to me as Director of Special Projects, which I guess is kind of what I am now. :)

MZ: heh! Baptism by fire

CY: Totally. There were a lot of lessons learned that I can pass on to the next victims–I mean, editors. But short stories! That’s what we were talking about. I love them. If it changed anything about how I read, I’d say it just made me fall more deeply in love with the short form.

MZ: I just had my first slushing experience, which was simultaneously amazing and disheartening.

CY: Oh neat!

MZ: I think the biggest self-realization was that I can tell a story that isn’t ready to be published almost immediately.

CY: I don’t know what your slush pile looked like, but ours tends to be a whole lot of perfectly competent but not particularly engaging, with a few HOLY WOW and a smattering of UGH.


MZ: Yeah the smattering of Ugh was SO UGH.

CY: It doesn’t require reading to the end. When I first started slushing I did read everything to the end, but once I gained a little confidence (and had seen enough of the same thing over and over) it started to become clear in the first couple of pages. Because if the first couple of pages don’t make you want to read on, then it’s not ready.

MZ: (I should mention that UGH = didn’t follow submission guidelines, was torture porn, involved child abuse etc for non-story reasons etc.)

CY: Right

MZ: The other thing slushing showed me is that I can see the difference between good stories and great stories… I’m just less certain entirely what that difference is.

Emotional impact is a lot of it, but totally not the only thing.

CY: What I came up with when I was trying to do that analysis for myself was: voice, structure, and something to say The stories that strike me as great as about something important. That doesn’t mean they’re preachy, or political, or heavy-handed, just that they’re about something that matters deeply to people. The emotional resonance, like you said. And voice–did you notice how much of your slush pile sounds exactly the same? Like the same perfectly competent but not-quite-there author wrote 2/3 of what was submitted That was a major revelation for me

MZ: Yeah, it feels more like “lack of voice” to me

CY: Fair enough

MZ: it’s like a news anchor is reading the story

CY: Yeah! And when one stands out, in my experience it invariably had a strong individual narrative voice

MZ: yeah the story or the characters sound like specific people

CY: You understand the narrative POV from the words they choose. Right. It was a big moment for me when I realized that my stories all sounded like that news anchor and that I was in the perfectly competent but uncompelling category.

MZ: I think I fall short in the structure category.

CY: Have you found any resources that were helpful to you in that area?

MZ: more so for long fiction than short

CY: /nods Yeah it seems like most of what’s out there is directed at screen writers

MZ: Like, I can find the rhythm in a longer fiction piece better

CY: Oh I see, I thought you meant the resources themselves, sorry

MZ: Well, and I come from a screen-writing sort of start, between stage, film, and comics

CY: Neat!

MZ: but that 3 act thing doesn’t neatly translate to short fiction all the time

CY: Right. I’ve had fun with short story structures. You can do a lot with it. I have a blog post about it somewhere, hang on…Here it is:

MZ: I’m mostly not sure how to fix it when its broken. I can see when it works, just not what piece isn’t holding its weight when the thing is lopsided rather than collapsed

CY: I have to pick a shape for the story and then impose it on what’s there. And like you said, three act structure doesn’t do the job. For me, at least.

MZ: That’s hard. I mean it’s totally possible and works great. But it kills the story soul for me a lot of the time. It becomes a chore.

CY: It helps me to actually visualize the shape of it–the length of scenes, the repetition of theme

Ah! For me it does the opposite. So much of the writing life is figuring out what works for us as individuals. Everyone is so different in the way we need to approach a story to get the best out of us

MZ: It really is. I’m struggling with the structure thing. It seems what sort of works is to kind of try on a few different structures on the story to figure out what works. But, that means a lot of re-writing

CY: /nods

MZ: and stories take a long time which isn’t great when you’re trying to hit a deadline for a specific call, or trying to submit more stories

I think I need to let those goals go, and just work on learning structure for me.

CY: I’m getting close to doing this with one work in progress. I’ve been writing scenes–some are strong, some are weak, the weak ones will have to go–but I don’t know how it’s all going to fit together yet. I’m now revising the scenes, cleaning them up, and next I’ll look at what kind of pattern emerges from them and what’s missing to complete the pattern.

I’ve submitted one story all year!

And I’ve given up on the self-loathing over it.

Which I’m prone to. But these are going to take what they’re going to take for them to be as good as they can be and I’m not submitting them until they are. I made that mistake last year–rushed a couple of stories out the door just for the sake of submitting something

MZ: Yeah. The worst is if you rush something out the door and it gets published… so you can’t change it. :)

CY: I had to completely rewrite them later, they were so not ready to go out

That is a legit fear!

MZ: I mean specifically that you’re not happy with how a story turned out and it gets published

CY: Right

MZ: not a story you are at the self-hating point with that is perfectly fine and gets published. That’s similar, but different

CY: One of the things John has always said is that he sees way too many stories that could have been great if the author had just let it cool a little while longer and given it another pass

MZ: Oh yes. There were SO MANY of those in the slush.

Like the concept or characters were REALLY cool but the story just hadn’t been “finished”

CY: Yeah

MZ: I seem to have trouble writing regularly in the summer. Do you have trouble keeping it up while you’re traveling?”

CY: Oh yes, it’s been impossible for me so far.

I have the best intentions to change my schedule so that I go to bed early and get up early to write but I haven’t succeeded yet. Once the day job travel kicks in again it’ll be the only way it gets done, because I’m just wiped out by the end of the day. Right now I’m just making sure that I write or revise in a few short sprints every day. But my schedule is flexible right now, so I can do that.

I’m working on several things at once, which might seem like a bad idea, but for me it keeps me interested in all of them and I can take my time and groom each one carefully

MZ: I find the getting up “early” on my days off helps, but if I do it on the days I work it just means I dink around and am too tired after work

CY: Discipline is…difficult. I have never been good at it.

MZ: I do not have it. Nope. I like being a bit of a scatterbrain in lots of aspects of my life, but trying to discipline myself is hard.

CY: I look at people like Jake Kerr–who is currently a powerhouse of productivity, despite a family and a demanding day job–and am just baffled at how he does it.

MZ: I think some of it really does come down to “They are different people than I am, and that’s OK”

CY: Yeah, I am still working on that “don’t compare yourself to others” thing. :)

MZ: There’s a difference between making excuses and living your own life.

CY: I definitely have a tendency toward procrastination and laziness

MZ: I mean there are people who function totally awesome on 4 hours of sleep a night every night. I am not them either.

CY: NOPE me either

MZ: Me too. But sometimes that procrastination has a purpose

CY: 7-9 or I’m significantly less functional I can get away with 6 ONE night a week.

MZ: so it’s trying to be honest with myself both ways with it

CY: /nod

MZ: sometimes I feel like I’m “procrastinating” when I’m really refilling the aquifer of creativity and emotional bandwidth

CY: True! That is so necessary.

MZ: and sometimes I am quite honestly fucking around

CY: :) I have found that programs like Cold Turkey help me a lot. I have social media blocked during the work day except at lunch. And also most of my other distracting sites (ModCloth, Etsy, Slate, etc.) I can lose hours easily, so I just eliminate the temptation (I still have Twitter on my phone and check it periodically, but it’s such a pain to use on the phone that I don’t say much.)

MZ: Yeah, I am probably due for a good break from online but, I don’t have a social outlet outside of the internet… so that’s also something to keep in mind. Heh, that sounds slightly lamer than it is

CY: No I’m with you–we’re isolated here too

MZ: I live very rurally, so I don’t have a lot of opportunity for in-person socialization and the friends I do have in the area keep moving away.

CY: I only block from 8-5. And yeah, we have no social life here either, despite living in a sizable town. We had a gaming group for years, but our DM changed jobs a few months ago and haven’t seen any of them since

MZ: awww

CY: And two of them were already remote! We would play over Google Hangouts.

MZ: this is very much a retirement community in a lot of ways, so there just aren’t a lot of people our age and the ones who are, are really busy. I mean, only here and in SFF am I considered “a kid”

CY: I am going to the wedding of one of our game friends tomorrow, though! It will be good to see her. They live about an hour away.


MZ: The mayor calls me “kiddo” when she sees me :)

CY: Lots of golf and bridge being played? :) This is why conventions (and social media) are so important to me–that’s where I see my friends.

MZ: golf for sure, not sure about the local bridge clubs. I’m sure there are though

I know the fastest way to spread news around town is to have someone talk about it at Senior Meals

CY: Ha! :D

MZ: There have been a few people who had premature deaths in town because someone got them mixed up with someone else and said they died at Senior Meals, and their family was very concerned when they started getting condolences

CY: Oh no!

MZ: (They were actually alive)

(still are)

CY: hahahah So what are you going to be working on today?

MZ: other than dishes?

CY: Well, yeah. :)

MZ: I am actually taking a novel project and splitting it up into 3 shorter novels and doing their outlines as they currently exist so I can see where the holes are and such to make them into 3 instead of one. I’ve split out the first two and now I need to add a bunch of extra stuff to the 3rd one to see how close in length it is before edits

CY: Excellent! That’s a big project.

MZ: …and dishes, and vacuuming

CY: I’m doing the opposite: working on three short stories related to an existing published one, that I eventually intend to put together into a short novel.

MZ: ooooo

CY: I’m having fun with it. I actually have two projects I’m approaching that way. One fantasy, one SF

MZ: I will say, I do really like how ebooks are opening up these kinds of projects

CY: Exactly!

MZ: And to publish projects that wouldn’t have seen the light of day in the past because of length or not fitting into a normal publishing cycle

CY: The possibility of writing and selling the stories to established markets, and then putting them together after exclusivity is up and selling them as an ebook is a great opportunity. I have one mini-collection out there, but I’ve done nothing at all to promote it

MZ: I’d like to do a mini-collection of stories set in the world I destroyed with tiny unicorns

CY: hahaha awesome

MZ: I have two stories published there, and ideas for 3 more

CY: (Ooo my Metropolitan just ran out of ink. Time to pick a new ink sample to try!)

That sounds like so much fun.

MZ: I am absolutely digging the scented inks. I know it is silly, but I like having that added dimension to the experience of writing

CY: Not silly at all. I started collecting perfume samples for the same reason

MZ: plus the novel project has characters who are associated with particular scents, so it really gets my brain into that world

CY: Totally! I was thinking about trying out a new prompt session at Rainforest based on scents instead of visuals

MZ: Ooooo I can bring stuff

CY: Fun! Let’s do it!

MZ: /highfive

CY: /highfive



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