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.

Conversations Between Writers

Ryan Macklin



Ryan Macklin is an award-winning game designer, writer, editor, and human of many talents. You can find out more about him at and follow him on Twitter @RyanMacklin



Minerva Zimmerman: ‪Ok then, for those that are not aware of Ryan Fucking Macklin From the Internet, how do you introduce yourself?

Ryan Macklin:  ‪I guess it depends on the context. If I’m talking with game people, “tabletop roleplaying game designer and editor.” If I’m talking with fiction people or other professionals, then it’s just “editor.” If I’m talking with software developers, I might jokingly call myself an “IT survivor.” And if I’m forced into an awkward airplane seat neighbor conversation, I introduce myself as little as possible. Mainly to avoid the dreaded “Oh, have you written anything I’ve read?” question. Though, lately I’ve responded to that question with “So you know, all writers hate that question.” :)

MZ: ‪That’s a good response. I am stealing that.

RM: ‪But mainly, I’m an RPG guy.

MZ: ‪I’m partially asking because I’m still not 100% what all you do.

RM: ‪Hah! To be fair, people outside of RPG-land don’t really know what all goes into making games. I mean, there’s the abstract concepts, but how those skills overlap with “real world” stuff is weird.

MZ: ‪I will admit I mostly stopped worrying about it because you seem to hand me booze every time I start thinking too hard about it

RM: ‪That is how I got many of the jobs I’ve had since I started doing this in 2007.

RM: ‪But in an effort to explain, a game designer is this weird job that’s part psychology, part technical writing, part creative writing, part UX design, and possibly some other parts depending on your role as a designer, developer, editor, and so on.

MZ: ‪What’s your favorite part (speaking of questions you hate)

RM: ‪At least it’s not That Question. :D To pin it down, um, hmm. Mind hacking.

MZ: ‪Cause you’re a pretty creative writer, but you’re also a programmer, and a nuts and bolts kind of guy. So I wouldn’t try to guess.

RM: ‪The essence of game design, to (mis)quote my friend and renown game designer John Wick, is in creating situations of non-optimal choices.

MZ: ‪Same with writing

RM: ‪Right. Well, kinda.

MZ: ‪I mean if you give characters optimal choices you have to explain why they take the wrong one.

RM: ‪Like, in fiction writing, you’re creating the non-optional decision point and choosing the decision. And the lead-up to said decision point. ‪I don’t have the advantage of knowing the lead-up or choosing the decision for the player. Generally speaking. Sometimes I know the lead-uip

MZ: Yeah, I’m not entirely certain I would enjoy RPG writing because of that.

RM: ‪I think you might… if only because “RPG writing” is like saying you “write English.” It encompasses a lot of things.

MZ: ‪I did some computer game writing, but even then I got to write stuff out for all the decision trees.

RM: ‪I generally like writing systems—the rules and mechanics for games where in-the-moment decisions lie. But there’s adventure writing, which involves a lot of prose and broader narrative decisions. Or writing options that the rules use, which are more decisions to choose from.

RM: ‪Or writing up creatures that interface with the rules and create dynamic tension. If you’re making the sort of game that uses creatures.

MZ: ‪I do enjoy Storium

RM: ‪Right! More as a player or narrator?

MZ: ‪Player. When I try to write my own setting for it I get bored super fast.

RM: ‪Heh.

MZ: ‪I work on it every so often, but I figure if I’m boring myself it isn’t good for players.

RM: ‪I was a stretch goal for Storium, with a setting based on my own IP, so I kinda have an advantage there. But also it’s kinda easy to get bored of writing the same thing. And there’s even another thing. Like, my intro for my Storium world needs to be pregnant with choice and story possibilities, not a preamble to a world.

MZ: ‪Hmm. Maybe that’s what I’ve been doing wrong.

RM: ‪Like, it’s easy to fall into a trap about telling a brief of what’s happened in the world up to the play point. Readers love that, but it’s not as useful for play. Useful, but less so, so it needs to be less of a priority.

MZ: ‪Well, it’s only like 1/20th of what you need to create at most

It might be the first thing players read, but it probably shouldn’t be the first thing you write as a creator.

RM: ‪You know that writer trick of writing scaffolding you think you need, like detailed backgrounds, and then not publishing it as part of your work except where needed and with something else going on (like emotional interaction)?

MZ: ‪Yeah, I do a lot of that. maybe 1/100th of what I research ends up in the story.

RM: ‪Right, because fiction writing today focuses on character lenses, yeah?

MZ: ‪Well, mine does for sure.

RM: ‪We’re not living in the Tolkien world-lens time. People write like that, but it’s not in fashion.

MZ: ‪I’d argue Harry Potter is more world-focused. mostly because I think Harry is the worst character.

RM: ‪I haven’t ready Harry Potter. I was a movie-watcher, until the movie with the fucking giant spiders, and then I mic-dropped on all things Harry Potter. Except for Wizard People, Dear Reader. WIZARD PEOPLE, DEAR READER forever. So I’ll have to ask you: is there a lot in those books where you get exposition about the world directly from the author? And not from a character telling Harry something?

MZ: ‪mmm no, it doesn’t do that style.

RM: ‪Right. So in fiction-land, there’s training to at least deliver world content that way. In RPGs, there isn’t a character lens in the prose, but in play. So the words, even when it’s creative setting writing, is author-delivered. Even in games I’ve worked on like The Dresden Files Roleplaying Game or The Leverage Roleplaying Game, where we used in-world voices for the text, it was treating them as the author rather than two characters talking. (Well, we broke the fourth wall with Dresden in marginalia comments. They also did that with The Atomic Robo Roleplaying Game.) So it’s easy to fall back into the “poorly execute Tolkien” trap with stuff like Storium world writing.

MZ: ‪Huh. Now I’m trying to think of all the formats that have a narrator to see if there’s new RPG opportunities there. Like… maybe, Nature Documentary RPG.

RM: ‪That could work, if you know what the point of play is from an emotional standpoint.

MZ: ‪Well if the players are the animals being documented, and the GM is David Attenborough

RM: ‪But that is its own trap. A lot of early game designers try to make games that emulate a genre of storytelling, because we think in analogies, rather than be homages that appreciate a genre of storytelling without trying to be awkward about it.

Okay, let’s run with that. So the players are playing (important difference) animals being documented.

MZ: ‪if you did it sort of like a theater game

RM: ‪The GM could also be Morgan Freeman.

MZ: ‪so the players are throwing out things the narrator has to deal with and vice versa

RM: ‪So, we know what the characters are doing. We have a lot of ideas about what the players could do, but what do we want them to feel? What’s the thing we want to reward players for doing?

MZ: ‪Being… interesting?

RM: ‪And therein lies the problem. That’s not something you can really reward. And it’s its own reward anyway. There’s a game called Fiasco. It’s billed as the Coen Brothers story game. Tabletop has featured it. It’s pretty fun. The player behavior that gets rewarded is putting characters in difficult situations and building up an arc, either a good arc or a tragic, horrific downfall. Those are my modes of trying to be interesting. So if we’re doing a nature documentary thing, what does the “filmmaker” (to give the GM a genre label) want? To film interesting stuff. As a player, then the filmmaker wants to push for interesting stuff, but doesn’t necessarily have control of the environment because they’re an outsider. I dunno what to do about the animals. :)

MZ: ‪well, they should want what animals want right? Food, sex, survival

RM: ‪Then it starts to sound like a board game, because roleplaying a lion that’s DTF isn’t necessarily interesting. Unless you’re LARPing, maybe. But it could be a board game with a resource economy and other weird stuff. A lot of people who make RPGs early on end up really making superficial board games that don’t actually have much connection to the story they’re trying to faciliate.

MZ: ‪See this is why it hard for me to wrap my brain around. So in a RPG the player has to be an element of design?

RM: ‪A primary element! It’s easy to see what characters want. It’s easy to see what we want out of characters, which is of course not the same thing. But mind-hacking players to feel enjoyment, sorrow, contemplation, etc. is the real task of a game designer. Conveniently, it’s a co-op thing. We’re not CIA torture-masters or anything. Even if our games have rules for being a CIA torture-master.

MZ: ‪:D

RM: ‪There’s a system I would play that nature documentary in, but it wouldn’t be about the animals. There’s a game called Primetime Adventures, which is about playing a TV show, using a TV show framework rather than a game about combat. I would use that, where one person is the documentarian, another is the helicopter pilot, another is the producer, etc. There’s also a GM, who plays out the role of everyone else. And that game really becomes about the drama between the crew. That’s a human story that people can hook into. With a system that rewards dramatic struggle and shapes the arcs of characters over play. It’s not what you’re talking about, though.

MZ: ‪Hmm. Yeah I see how what I was thinking doesn’t work well.

RM: ‪I’m gonna super have to think about how the heck to do what you’re thinking. Like, maybe it could, if you know what the players want. Maybe the players want to frustrate the documentarian, and the point of play is that struggle.

MZ: ‪animals trying not to be documented?

RM: ‪It might still be more board game. Or maybe a Daniel Solis-style writing game like Happy Birthday, Robot! or Do: Pilgrims of the Flying Temple. Or doing things that the documentarian already has. Or ruining something, like following a gazelle for three weeks, only for it to be eaten by a lion off-camera.

MZ: ‪yeah it does seem more board game Ok, so let’s drop this idea for now and try to focus on the things you DO need for a good RPG.

RM: ‪I recommend writers who like games check out the Daniel Solis games I mentioned, because they’re pretty cool. They aren’t games where you play roles, but write parts of sentences with specific words while playing a game that constrains you.

MZ: ‪I think I’m straight up going at RPG creation from the wrong end.

RM: ‪So, give me a quick pitch for a setting. Just a sentence.

MZ: ‪Gnomes leave home to make their way in the world.

RM: ‪Awesome. Give me a broad, ongoing trouble that these gnomes have to face in the world. Be as high-concept or specific as you like. But definitely ongoing.

MZ: ‪Prejudice from the humans who don’t believe gnomes should work outside the lawn.

RM: ‪Awesome

RM: ‪Okay, now for an impending trouble. Next week, something’s going to happen. No one knows it’s about to happen, but it could turn the gnomes’ lives upside-down. And it’s not related to the prejudice. What is it?

MZ: ‪Hmm Can it connect in any way?

RM: ‪If that’s the idea you have, let’s start there.

MZ: ‪Well, I have a couple ideas… maybe some kind of illness or a major problem with all the lawns of the world. Or gnome terrorists could attack human targets and its obvious to all gnomekind that the humans will never be able to stop them cause… reasons.

RM: ‪Those are both things. Maybe concurrent, maybe one now and another is in your pocket for later. Alright, you have a setting sketch.

MZ: ‪Oh and my idea was that the players have to create characters who desire an occupation that is completely un-gnomelike. like astronaut, rock star, dancer, hair dresser, etc.

RM: ‪Next up: figure out what the player-characters are doing in this world, then make up some fronts that have either antithetical or sideways objectives, and some places that serve as sets for action or intrigue. Okay, so rebel gnomes.

MZ: ‪yes, who seeks to find a place in wider society

RM: ‪Thus, you have gnomes that want to self-oppress. You have humans that hate “sidewalk gnomes” Maybe you throw something else in there, like a secret griffon cult that sometimes helps gnomes out, but it’s never out of generosity

MZ: ‪Ooo and humans who want to “save” gnomes

RM: ‪Yup! So, we’re talking about setting here, but there’s an organizational piece that comes to mind: are these protagonists assumed to be working together toward some common goal, or are they merely connected by their desire for these individual goals? Those are two very different dynamics: one is a single story with side plots, and the other is a collection of multiple stories that sometimes interweave. Totally different gameplay requirements.

MZ: ‪I like the interweaving idea for this.

RM: ‪You may well have a GM-less, round-robin sort of RPG. Fiasco doesn’t have a GM. All of the roles of a single facilitator, rules arbiter, and source of adversity are distributed ad hoc.

MZ: ‪Well, this is my Storium idea I keep getting bored of

RM: ‪It might not be a great Storium premise. Maybe it is, but I can see a bunch of scenes where it’s just about one character, maybe with a second as an aside, chasing a dream. Then you have scenes where they’re all dealing with threats. Actually, that’s probably fine as a Storium premise, because the asynchronous element means you don’t have bored, inactive players sitting at a table waiting to be engaged. There’s plenty of other Storium games and the Internet in general to keep someone occupied.

MZ: ‪I think it could work… but I probably do need some kind of unifying thread

RM: ‪Characters are chasing a fantastic dream while suffering the slings and arrows that come with rebelling against their own kind and against an oppressive majority.

MZ: ‪there still needs to be something that keeps throwing the players back together toward one goal

RM: ‪That’s where an ongoing and impending threat come in that’s global to the group the PCs belong in. Survival is the default. And it’s a default for a reason.

MZ: ‪I want this to be funnier

RM: ‪Social survival can be made funny. Rather than physical survival. ‪But this isn’t like a courtly farce, where the characters have cause to be in the same place and deal with each other.

MZ: ‪I’m kind of inclined to go back to the TV idea and have the players be on a gnome reality show

RM: Yes!

MZ: ‪So the players have agreed to this as a stepping stone toward their dream but no one has their best interest in mind except themselves

RM: ‪So the ongoing problems are going to be more reality-show based. At some point, my publisher for Backstory Cards is going to finish and release the most awesome reality show-themed RPG ever: Hyperreality. Lillian and I playtested it a couple years ago, and it was hysterical. I kinda love that society has more or less co-opted “hysterical” to be a synonym of “hilarious,” rather than its pseudo-medical definition. It feels very mocking of pseudoscience.

MZ: ‪There are worse things to mock

RM: ‪True. I used to be a government employee.

MZ: ‪Heh.

RM: ‪Oh, if you want the see the framework I’m using for this setting building stuff, check out the Game Creation chapter of Fate Core System. It’s available for free in e-form, including at

I pretty much was just riffing on what we wrote there.

MZ: ‪Awesome. Well, this Conversation ended up more like a hands-on game design brainstorm.

RM: ‪Welcome to 50% of RPG panels. The other 50% become GM advice panels, no matter what they started out to be.

MZ: ‪Hahahahaha. Let me tell you about my character. :P

RM: ‪I’m sorry, I think my cable is starting to go out. Forever.

MZ: ‪ahahaha

RM: ‪There was a cool “Tell me about your character, $5″ booth at Big Bad Con. Money to go to Doctors Without Borders. It was fun.

MZ: ‪That’s pretty brilliant Is there anything else you want to make sure we talk about?

RM: ‪I like telling people that I know more about the legal ramifications of cow STDs than most folks do, but there’s little to talk about other than what I just typed. You’d rather hear about my character, let’s put it that way.

MZ: ‪hahahaa. Careful. You start with the cow STD’s and I’ll start talking about seals sexually molesting penguins in the wild.

RM: ‪I saw that across Twitter today!


RM: ‪The article, not the act.

MZ: ‪I dunno, I’ve seen your part of the internet…

RM: ‪It’s funny. You introduce me as Ryan Fucking Macklin from the Internet. I haven’t really done much of that bombastic RPG designer persona since my now-wife and I moved in together. I hung up that giant flask. My “Night Macklin” Twitter account doesn’t get as much love. My hair hasn’t been dyed pink in over a year.

MZ: ‪Eh, that’s not necessarily a bad thing. Maybe we should make an account for your Liver and its plan for World Domination now that you’re not keeping it in submission.

RM: ‪Hah! I tell people that thanks to the medication I take, I have a mortal’s liver now, so I can’t go on holy crusades in bars.

MZ: ‪Eh, part of the fun of holy crusades in bars is to actually drink much less than everyone around you so you get the best blackmail possible.

RM: ‪The medication also makes it so that Benadryl makes me sleepy now. Use to not. Really ticks me off.

MZ: ‪Ginger Ale. The evil drinker’s secret weapon.

RM: ‪I tell my own blackmail stories, so that no one else can use them as ammo against me. There was one convention where I was sooooooo hungover for my game the next day, I ended up being sick and even nodding off in the bathroom mid-game for almost 30 minutes. I apologized at the end of the session, because we didn’t finish. One player said “Thanks for running! I got the real Ryan Macklin experience!” That was a call to action.

MZ: ‪Yikes.

RM: ‪I want that story once, not again. :D Well, I didn’t want it then, but you know what I mean. I didn’t want that repeated. That was during my self-medicated, self-destructive era. I suppose I sort of associate my bombastic self with that period of time. I still play a bit hyped up. I mean, I wore a damn cape up to an award show last August and handed it to the host like he was my valet. But sober :)

MZ: ‪:)

RM: ‪That said, being a lush totally got me a lot of work, which lead to the context in which I met my wife, so hey. Not that I advise that for others. Being a lush is not a cheap hobby!

MZ: ‪Nor is being a game designer.

RM: ‪Well, being a tabletop game designer is about being a pauper. So if I’m to be a lush, it has to be because friends and fans want to buy drinks for me. Thus, a self-correcting problem. Except for the yearly bottle of Sortilege that I get from a fantastic friend of mine in Canada. I think I’ve had you try that, yeah? The pancake liqueur?

MZ: ‪is that the maple.. yeah, that stuff. Delicious. I only got a tiny taste cause I was driving.

RM: ‪We will have to rectify that. There’s a layered shot that my roommate and I came up with. It’s that, Sortilege Cream (which is like pancake Bailey’s), and Kahula. IT’S AMAZING. Two of those things are only available in Canada. One only it…Quebec and Ottawa, maybe?

MZ: ‪I will have to check the list of places I am banned from returning to.

RM: ‪Have booze mules.

MZ: ‪Can we call Canadian’s mules? Wouldn’t they be booze moose?

RM: ‪Antlers are hard to get onto planes.

MZ: ‪well, in the passenger cabin, sure. I’m a museum professional. I know how to ship a moose.

RM: ‪You know how to ship a moose. I know about cow STDS. This is a game.

MZ: ‪a very terrible game :)

RM: ‪Life is a terribly designed game.

MZ: ‪It’s like they weren’t even trying to balance gameplay.

RM: ‪Or give a crap about player emotional experience. WHERE IS THE NARRATIVE!

MZ: ‪I want to reroll. My stats are all wonky. And I seem to have taken points in Mayan pottery.

RM: ‪But we’re writers. Our job is to make that random stuff someone turn into a paycheck, right?

MZ: ‪Show me the money.

RM: ‪I have, like, $6.

MZ: ‪I could probably scrape together a few $ in change.

RM: ‪It’s yours for the low low price of dealing with the hell of crafting a narrative about Mayan pottery. Not that the Mayan pottery is the problem. The hell is in the “crafting a narrative” part. :D

MZ: ‪Word.

Fountain Pen Friday: Ohto F-Lapa

I really liked the tiny Ohto Rook so I decided to give the larger Ohto F-Lapa (Jet Pens) a try.



The pen is designed to look like a fancy pen as seen in every yuppie lawyer movie ever. It does look very nice and is extremely shiny (as you can see in my crappy pictures). However, as soon as you pick up the pen you can tell it is not the expensive sort of pen it resembles. It FEELS like a cheaper pen. Not necessarily in a super bad way, but if you’re trying to look like a big shot, don’t let anyone hold it.



The pen has a black plastic grip that is eerily comfortable. Seriously, I was not expecting it to feel as nice in my hand as it does. It’s the sort of material that seems to hold a little of your body heat so it feels nicer against the skin than the metal parts of the pen. Now, that might be me since I do have something like arthritis in my fingers, but it’s a nice touch.



The pen is surprisingly light. Even though it is a little bigger than some of the pens I prefer, it is very comfortable for me to use weight wise, and it isn’t uncomfortably big even with the cap posted on the back.



The black plastic does not fit flush against the metal part before the nib, which is good because it keeps your finger on the plastic, but there is a bit of an edge there that, while it doesn’t dig into my finger, I think would get annoying if I was writing at length with this pen.



The Good

  • Looks expensive
  • light
  • very nice plastic grip
  • standard cartridge

The Bad

  • does not feel expensive
  • may hurt fingertip with extensive use
  • gets fingerprints

Overall grade: B

I kinda like it. I’m looking forward to using it more, so clearly I don’t hate it. I may take this to work to use as it looks impressive even if it doesn’t hold up to hands-on scrutiny.


Tone Deaf Fiction

Hey, are you someone who wants to appear on this blog in Conversations Between Writers? Let me know. 


So, I’ve been reading slush. I’ve been reading slush because it is a truth universally acknowledged that a writer in want of improving their skills must at some point in their career, read slush. The most heart-breaking stories are the ones that were ALMOST there… but just not quite. However, I don’t want to talk about the good things… today, I want to talk about tone deaf fiction.

Tone Deaf Fiction is fiction involving characters, situations, and places completely discordant with reality in a way that is grating to a reader. Tone deaf fiction is not so much rewriting reality as overlaying a chartreuse plaid wallpaper over everything making it useless to everyone. It isn’t a few wrong notes, it is ALL the notes wrong. It doesn’t matter if you get the rhythm of the song right if you’re not hitting any of the notes.

So, in thinking about writing about this I decided to try my hand at writing a character to the point of tone deafness. I am only excerpting from a longer piece because I got tired and started relating the character to my own personal experiences (doing yoga) and it stopped being a good example of what I mean. I hope this is still illustrative:

Seth finished shaking off his penis and pulled up his sweat pants. His yoga class was about to begin and he wanted to make sure he got there early enough to get a spot up front. If he got there late and had to look through a forest of pert female asses he tended to get distracted instead of getting the best workout possible. He paused in front of the bathroom mirror to judge if he’d need to shave again before his movie date with Teresa. His fair skin was the color of antique white house paint speckled with the hint of wheaten hair along his jaw.

He adjusted himself in his pants as he picked up his yoga mat and headed out into the hall. His mat was a plain dark gray, the manliest color he’d been able to find at Target. His sleeveless t-shirt clung to his lean physique, and for $40 it also wicked away the moisture he was about to start exuding from his skin

Usually tone deaf fiction comes out of writing things well beyond your own experience. Clearly as a genre writer I don’t believe you can only write things you know well, however… don’t pick ALL the things you don’t know in one story. That’s a good way to write tone deaf fiction. I suggest training wheels. Pick a memory from your own life, and change one major truth about the situation. If you were a very young child in the memory, figure out how to rewrite everything from an adult perspective, possibly from outside yourself, but keep every single other part of the event the same. Make sure you think, “How does this change things?”  and follow each of those ripples out to their end as they change how you tell the event. Repeat this exercise until you feel very comfortable with how to chase down all those ripples and imagine out all of their changing powers. Then, change two things using the same memories, and find where the two sets of ripples overlap and create new ripples.

You can never 100% replace your own perspective and experiences from the story. You can have enough ripples that the parts of you inside the story are unrecognizable, but still, you take a part of your truth and experiences as  reference for how ripples move through a story, through a character, through a setting. There are authors who use very few sets of ripples in their fiction and some that throw handfuls of gravel into a windy pond. It’s not going to be the same for every story, and it’s not going to be the same for you throughout your career. If you don’t relate to your characters and their situations no one else will either… so, write what you know about the truth of life, the universe, and everything.

Pentel Pulaman JM20 Disposable




So, you can probably guess that I bought a bunch of cheap fountain pens I didn’t already own. I am doing this blog feature just about weekly so if I was buying all the expensive pens I’d probably already be broke and destitute. I bought The Pentel Pulaman strictly off the price and a “huh, that’s weird” glance at the nib.

It is a very unique pen. I’m just not sure it’s really a fountain pen.

the pen "nib"

the pen “nib”

I’m looking forward to running this pen dry because I am dying to take it apart without covering my house in red ink. It has a plastic delta-wing shaped tip that appears to have a core running through it that feeds the ink. Honestly, it reminds me most of a Papermate Flair pen. It writes like a Flair pen, and with certain motions it makes a fine splatter of ink on the page as I loop a letter or shift the tip. I kind of like the effect, but it would annoy the crap out of me if I was trying to write very precisely.


without cap


with cap

It’s a very standard pen size. Feels pretty much like using a felt tip pen. I think it would make a killer redlining pen or homework correction pen. Buy it for all the editors and teachers you know.


The Good

  • Cheap
  • really unique design
  • lovely felt-tip style writing experience

The Bad

  • I just can’t consider it a fountain pen.
  • splatters ink slightly
  • disposable, non-refillable

Overall Grade: Well, as a Fountain Pen I’d say on an A-F scale it’s a Potato. On a scale of A-F for felt pens, it’s an A. It’s just not what I think of for fountain pens, even disposable ones.

Conversations Between Writers

Wendy Sparrow



Wendy Sparrow is one of the very first authors I started following on Twitter that I didn’t know and rather quickly came to know and adore. Her romances are cute and guaranteed to be a good way to get in a better mood. I’m looking forward to reading her YA work. She blogs about a variety of things including writing at and can be found on Twitter.


Minerva Zimmerman: Are you a Nanowrimo person?

Wendy Sparrow:  Yes. I’ve been doing it since 2009.

MZ: What is it about Nanowrimo that works for you?

WS: Actually I do some of my best writing on the manic pace when I’m forced to concentrate.  I’ve had many of my NaNoWriMo stuff published.

MZ: That was my next question :)

WS: Frosted, Cursed by Cupid, Past my Defenses and its sequel were all NaNo projects.

MZ: Really? Wow! That’s great. Can you tell me what you’re working on this year?

WS: I’ve cheated and done 50K in novellas a couple times.

MZ: I don’t think there’s really such a thing as cheating in Nanowrimo

WS: I like to FEEL like I’m a rebel.

WS: This year I’m writing the sequel to Stealing Time.

MZ: Yaaaaay, I’m excited. I liked that one

WS: A rulebreaker. I’m off to a tepid start though because of all the stuff I’ve got going on though.

MZ: Yeah it has to be hard with older kids

WS: November is a craaaaazy month to be pulling this. I’ve had a few Thanksgivings where I’m in a corner writing.

MZ: Yeah I’ve always thought January or March would be better.

WS: I think so. But I write better under stress. I’m not sure why. It’s not healthier that’s for sure.

MZ: November just seems like a silly month to pick. I’m trying to learn how to gain balance in my work, home, and writing life. Not sure it’s working :)

WS: Oy. If you can manage that…you should share it with writers everywhere. I swear when you get published that balance really disappears because then the business side of writing kicks in and there are so many demands on your time.

MZ: I’ve gotten a lot more organized, which helps, but yeah. I think writing the first thing after you get published is probably the hardest (or at least so far).

WS: There are a hundred things I “should” be doing right now. Le sigh. It’s funny how the goal is to get published, but after you’re published the goal shifts to finding time for writing.

MZ: and getting published again… and stretching yourself and all of that

WS: I feel like there’s also more pressure to keep up with the Joneses. Because you have this artificial impression that other writers are doing more and better and so on. And some are, but we don’t all have the same lives outside of writing.

MZ: I think it’s pretty important to have a good sense of writer community so you can actually challenge those thoughts when they crop up. And support each other and assure each other that no one is really doing it all.

WS: The envy is much shorter lived when you interact more with other writers…and you do get a sense that everyone has their own struggles. Even on places like Twitter…where you get more of a glimpse of their lives.

MZ: Right. Everyone has a pet that pees on the floor or a kid that’s shoved crayons in the DVD player or whatever. I was going to say VHS… and then I remembered no one has small children AND a working VHS

WS: LOL. My husband was explaining what a pager was to my son earlier.  My son was utterly confused by the concept. It said he’s not allowed to bring a pager to camp…and he didn’t even know what that was.

MZ: Hahahahahaha /cries

WS: Oy. We’re old.

MZ: I am trying to get people to donate technology items from the 70s, 80s, and 90s for our education program at the museum. I should put “pager” on there

WS: It’s like when you try to explain to them what the world was like without the internet and they act like we were out killing our dinners and writing on papyrus.

MZ: I might have one in a drawer somewhere

WS: I think you should carry it around for the day and see if people give you weird looks.

You can clip it to your belt beside a Walkman.

MZ: Duuuude, my collections volunteer brings a Discman to listen to

I just… blinked and didn’t say anything.

WS: Old school.

MZ: the average age around here is about 56 with most people tending older

WS: So, their school WAS a bit old.  ;-)

MZ: I was trying to explain that school children were born between 1996 and 2009

so it’s pretty amazing how much kids aren’t familiar with.

WS: I know. They’ve always had computers in their house. My kids toss around the word “lag” every time anything takes more than two seconds to load up.

MZ: ugh… ground them and give them a 2400 baud modem

WS: Exactly. They’ve never experienced the joy of listening to a modem dialing.

MZ: that’d learn them to appreciate high speed internet :D

WS: It would. Though I’ve become spoiled and I think it’d annoy me too at this point.

MZ: Yeah, I think that would probably kill me. Well, hyperbole-wise

WS: I left my phone at home by accident today and it was like I’d severed a limb.

MZ: It bothers me way more when my husband doesn’t have his phone than when I don’t have mine

WS: My daughter and I watched the Bells of St. John Doctor Who today –where everyone is being uploaded to the wi-fi. That gets a bit creepier every minute as technology invades more.

MZ: Yeah. My brother was telling me about a guy who has an antenna screwed into his head. The line between humanity and machine gets blurrier every day

WS: Which is gold for dystopian writers everywhere. I have an unpubbed YA where machines take over the world. It’s sort of Terminator meets Dark Angel.

MZ: That sounds fun in a dark sort of dystopian way.

WS: They get attacked by heavy machinery taken over by nanobots. I did a lot of research into weird things like tractors.

MZ: Ooo lots of tractors around here not sure I want to think about them coming to life.

WS: I took a lot of pictures of construction and farm equipment and people sent me pictures of machines they thought were scary looking.

MZ: yeah the disc machine is super scary

WS: Logging machinery…some of that stuff is creepy as hell. There’s this thing that looks like a giant spider–no joke.

MZ: So I have an admission. I’ve been describing your romance novels as “cozy romances”

WS: Have you? One of my publishers described them as “sexy sweet.”

MZ: that works too. I save them up and then read them when I feel like making a blanket fort and hiding from everything.

WS: I would call “The Teacher’s Vet” a cozy romance.

LOL. Well, then, you can call them anything you want.

MZ: :D

WS: I didn’t plan on being a romance writer. It just sort of happened.

All of my earlier stuff is urban fantasy or paranormal or YA.  It all has elements of romance, but I was subbing romance while my agent was subbing my YA and my romance just kept getting picked up, so I shifted to that. My agent is still trying to grapple with signing a YA author who became a romance author.

MZ: Heh, there are worse problems to have

WS: There are. And I’ve always read romance so it was a natural fit for me…but I always worried there wasn’t really an audience for more “sweet” romance which is what I write.

I still worry about that.

MZ: I think sweet is a good thing to be these days.

WS: I think there’s a market for it, but primarily in contemporary. Though I am published in paranormal with it.

MZ: I really like the paranormal stuff being more of a genre person

WS: This is all in romance of course. Outside of romance it’s easier to find a market.

MZ: Do you think so?

WS: For less erotic elements I mean. It’s easier outside of romance to keep the physicality of relationships lighter without impacting the marketability. In my opinion.

MZ: Oh, right, yeah that makes sense

WS: Though I suspect it’s harder to find a balance of how much romance is acceptable in things like epic fantasy…even if love is the age-old quest in every story.

WS: I know a few female authors who write in fantasy or sci-fi get flack when they have romance in their books. And there is a weird sort of guilt I feel when I do shorts in sci-fi or fantasy that I’m making them “too girly.”

MZ: eh, guys get crap for it too, but not like female authors, true

WS: Do they?

MZ: Yeah if they put romance instead of just sex I think it’s mostly teenage boys going “ewwwww coooties”

WS: It’s so funny because everyone at some point in their life is searching for love and most stories boil down to a quest for some sort of love, but it’s like a dirty word among some crowds.

Well, it’s good that they can put sex in there still. That’s cool.  ;-)

MZ: /eyeroll

WS: It’s sad, isn’t it? That there are these stereotypical roles that even authors fall into to align with their gender. It’s hard to break from that too…in your mindset. Every time I think to myself, “I’m making this too girly,” I want to shake myself because I’m female…and having a relationship between characters shouldn’t be something in only women’s writing.

MZ: I am a character-driven writer so relationships happen, and I don’t worry about it

WS: I wish I could do that. Because I’m character-driven too. I’m a dialogue fiend. I swear I just write out the dialogue and fill in the rest later in rewrites. Descriptions go in during like the third or fourth revision.

MZ: yep, I’m guilty of that sometimes. I’m trying to get better at setting, but eh

WS: You’re a pantser too, though, aren’t you? I think pantsers tend to be character-driven and dialogue-heavy.

MZ: Yeah, I pants it until about 60% through and do a reverse outline of what I’ve already done

WS: Ohhhh clever.

MZ: and figure out sort of what I’m missing

WS: And try to find that black moment? My plot gets a bit meandering around that time.  In some of my writing, that’s about when I found out who the villain is.

MZ: figure out what my writer brain was trying to tell me cause I generally leave myself lots of little clues I didn’t know were there

WS: LOL. I do that too. It’s almost creepy.

MZ: and it’s a matter of clarifying them and bringing them to fruition at that point

WS: It’s weird that something you just stuck in there becomes a crucial clue later on. Writing is magical in that way.

MZ: yeah it’s always what feels like a total throw away detail. Well, we should probably wrap this up. Is there anything you want to make sure to talk about?

WS: Okay. I still have packing to do. Not that comes to mind.

MZ: I recommend elderberry syrup from the natural section at Freddy’s for avoiding catching whatever the camp kids have. (Wendy is heading off to be a chaperone for her son’s 6th grade outdoor education. When she did it for her older daughter she came back with the flu.)

WS: Oh, dude, if I come home with anything vile again…I’m going to live in a commune on a tropical island.

MZ: oooo I want a commune on a tropical island

WS: A writer commune. You can come live on my island with me.

MZ: Sweet!

WS: We’ll get Mountain Dew air-dropped in. LOL. Or maybe not…those things would explode when you try to open them.

MZ: we’ll fill the pool full of ice to chill them

WS: It’s only three days…it’s only three days…it’s only… sobs quietly

MZ: You’ll be fine.

WS: This a camp run by the YMCA. We get cabins with bathrooms. It’s really close to glamping.

They get to dissect squids and play with reptiles and canoe. T will have a blast and I’ll survive…probably.

MZ: That will be fun. He’ll think it’s great. You just need to hang out and tell kids to stop climbing on things. It’ll be fine.

WS: I just need to keep him caffeinated and then keep myself medicated and covered in hand-sanitizer.

MZ: I’m thinking good thoughts for you. Glad you’re in cabins though.

WS: Oh, I know. I’d be such a wreck if it was “real” camping.

MZ: I don’t think you should ever go real camping with 6th graders.

WS: I’d toss my kid on the bus while shouting, “You’re on your own. Try not to kill the other kids.”

Yes. But I get to chaperone a dozen girls.

MZ: but they aren’t your girls that helps

WS: If they’re like last time, they won’t go to bed until 2 a.m. the first night and they’ll paaaaay the next morning.

MZ: oh yeah, I’d love waking em up extra extra early if they did that

WS: They didn’t expect their chaperone to be an insomniac. They thought they’d stay up later than me. Bwahahaha. I was all “Girls, please…I’ve slept less in my life than you have already.”

MZ: hahahahaha they won’t know what hit them Well, thank you for doing this. I really appreciate it and I”m looking forward to your next publication.

WS: I’m going to reread Stealing Time while I’m there so I can get cruising on the sequel faster when I get home. You’re welcome. It’s been fun.

fistbumps with explosions


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 love it 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 it’s 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.


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