Lovely lokta notecards

I like to write letters. Theselokta notecards are my favorite.

I usually keep a few styles of lokta paper notecards around. The butterflies are particularly lovely and encourage me to find green ink.

Usually, I write with Noodler's Heart of Darkness, and ink that is designed to stand the test of time. Lokta paper is known for its durability and is resistant to mold, rot and bugs. The paper has a wonderful texture and simply looks beautiful, showing the pulped fibers it is made of.

There are claims in the packaging of how eco-friendly, local economy-friendly and indigenous peoples-friendly the makers of this paper are. These are all great things.

Writing on this paper takes a Medium nib or a very, very careful hand with a Fine and you must use ink that will flow. The paper accepts the ink, does not feather very much but even quick-drying ink will take a moment or two.

Beware the smudge!

The messages you send to loved ones will last forever on notecards that look lovely enough to keep!

Now you have to write things that are worth standing the test of time. It is fun tho, I treat writing letters on these a lot like I do taking photos with 120 roll film, every shot costs a few dollars, make it worthwhile!

I am sure folks toss my works of art into the trash.

Nepal Greeting Card and Envelope Set: Butterfly Notecards, Handmade Lokta Paper via Amazon Read the rest

The Microwriter, a tiny chording word processor from 1984

Photo by Bill Buxton of the Microwriter

Back in the 80s, the inventor Cy Enfield created this fascinating device -- a six-button "Microwriter" where you'd chord combos of buttons to produce the entire alphabet, letting you jot down notes on the go.

Microsoft's Bill Buxton calls it "the world’s first portable digital word processor" (the front-page photo for this post is from Buxton's hardware collection) and Open Culture wrote a terrific piece about the Microwriter a few years ago, citing from a 1984 interview Enfield did with NPR, discussing his "aha" moment:

“It occurred to me that ... it would be possible to combine a set of signals from separate keys, and therefore you could reduce the total number of keys. But, of course, this involved the learning of chords… difficult to memorize… But how do you make these chords memorable? And, one day, staring at a sheet of paper on which I was drawing a set of five keys in sort of the arch formed by the finger ends, it occurred to me, ah! if I press the thumb key, and the index finger key, anybody can do this just listening now, press your thumb key and your index finger down and you’ll see that a vertical line joins those two finger ends, a short vertical line. There is an equivalence between that short vertical line and one letter of the alphabet. It’s the letter “I.”

Buxton's site has some scans of the gorgeous user's manual, including this one:

There are chording keyboards these days, most notably the Twiddler, and stenography tech. Read the rest

The Moonman clear acrylic demonstrator looks good and writes well

This Moonman clear demonstrator is my showy fountain pen with a lot of crazy colored ink of choice.

A few years back I bought a TWBSI Eco. I enjoyed using it and it became my black/red ink pen of choice. A color I used to use a lot of. I wanted another pen to fill up with some of the neat colors I've acquired over the last few years. The Moonman C1 is a great choice.

The tank is huge and it looks really cool when filled with a teal or something crazy like Noodler's Rome Burning. I also enjoy that I can fill the huge tank and write all day without fear of running out.

I enjoy living with out wonder as to ink level. My checking my beloved DuoFold involved inky fingertips.

The fine nib writes like a fine nib and flows ink pretty well. The Rome Burning is pretty soupy and can gum things up. I ran about 1/3rd a tank of it thru the pen and I didn not have a problem. You can unscrew the nib so I am going to assume there are lots of medium, bent and other nibs available. It looks an awful lot like the nib on my TWBSI, but I do not have the pen handy to check.

Moonman C1 Fountain Pen, Transparent Clear Acrylic Demonstrator, Fine Nib Gift Writing Pen Case Set via Amazon Read the rest

This affordable Kaweco fountain pen is a pleasure to use

I picked up one of these Kaweco Sport fountain pens the other day...

I am unclear what is 'sport' about this pen, but it is a classic. The barrel is a bulbous octagonal design, something like a Rotring pencil that needs a diet. This shape feels wonderful in my hands. The plastic is lightweight and the nib puts down ink.

I bought a converter because I hate using cartridges, however the blue cart that came with the pen is just fine. I will prefer using this with Noodler's Ink however, I am an ink snob.

I tested a medium nib but was sent out the door of the shop with a fine. I will be swapping it, as the paper I am most enjoying these days really needs the broader nib. I do believe their fine is a fine and their medium a medium.

I still enjoying writing letters to folks I like and dropping them in the mail. I think it freaks people the fuck out.

Kaweco Sport Classic Fountain Pen Black M (Medium Nib) via Amazon Read the rest

Taika Waititi's got some great advice for writers and film directors

If you're a Taika Waititi fan, like I am, it's been one hell of a year. The What We Do in the Shadows TV series was absolutely brilliant. Last week, it was announced that he'd be directing the fourth Thor movie and, earlier today, the first trailer for Jojo Rabbit dropped. He's a writing and directing machine! If you've ever wondered what Waititi's creative process is like, then you'll want to dig into the insight offered up in this interview with the good folks at BAFTA.

My biggest takeaway: Keep writing no matter what. Force yourself to write and don't be afraid of blank pages. It's a grind, but no matter what you're scribbling about, you'll get there in the end.

Image via Flickr, courtesy of Activités culturelles UdeM Read the rest

J Michael Straczynski's "Becoming Superman": a memoir of horrific abuse, war crimes, perseverance, trauma, triumph and doing what's right

J Michael Straczynski (previously) is known for many things: creating Babylon 5, spectacular runs on flagship comics from Spiderman to Superman, incredibly innovative and weird kids' TV shows like The Real Ghostbusters, and megahits like Sense8; in the industry he's known as a writing machine, the kind of guy who can write and produce 22 hours of TV in a single season, and he's also known as a mensch, whose online outreach to fans during the Babylon 5 years set the bar for how creators and audiences can work together to convince studios to take real chances. But in JMS's new memoir, Becoming Superman: My Journey From Poverty to Hollywood, we get a look at a real-life history that is by turns horrific and terrifying, and a first-person account of superhuman perseverance and commitment to the right thing that, incredibly, leads to triumph Read the rest

The nine rules of "Freddish": the positive, inclusive empathic language of Mr Rogers

From an excerpt from last year's The Good Neighbor: The Life and Work of Fred Rogers, the rules of "Freddish" -- as Mr Rogers' crewmembers jokingly referred to the rigorous rules that Rogers used to revise his scripts to make them appropriate and useful for the preschoolers in his audience. Read the rest

Richard Kadrey discusses his new dieselpunk noir novel "The Grand Dark"

Earlier this month, I reviewed Richard Kadrey's new novel "The Grand Dark" for the LA Times; as I wrote, "His latest is “The Grand Dark,” a noir, diesel punk book set in a Weimar world of war trauma, debauchery, cabaret and looming disaster — and it's superb." Read the rest

It's time for the Clarion/Clarion West Write-a-Thon!

The Clarion workshops (Clarion at UCSD, Clarion West in Seattle) are key elements of the pipeline for producing excellent new science fiction and fantasy writers; I am a graduate of Clarion 92, and have taught both workshops, and volunteer on the board for The Clarion Foundation, which oversees the Clarion workshop at UCSD. Read the rest

How to spot a writer

The New Yorker's Mia Mercado asks: What Is Writing and Does This Count as It?

• Writing is when you sit—fingertips hovering over your keyboard, cursor blinking on a fresh blank document—and open Twitter for the twenty-eighth time.

• You can tell that someone is a writer because she’ll have a pencil behind her ear, a Moleskine notebook in her hand, a pen behind her other ear, coffee on her breath and shirt, eyes that beg for your approval, and a Sharpie she’s somehow hidden in her hair.

I have only one laptop sticker, and am therefore not truly a writer. Read the rest

Joel Gion, the psychedelic tambourine man from the Brian Jonestown Massacre, is writing a memoir

If you saw the critically-acclaimed 2004 documentary Dig! about the frenemy neo-psych bands The Brian Jonestown Massacre and The Dandy Warhols, you'll remember that the real star wasn't either of the bands' frontmen but rather the BJM's inimitable, lovable tambourine player Joel Gion.

Rocking his impressive mutton chops and 60s shades, Joel has spent the last 25 years performing with the BJM and releasing his own excellent music while slinging vinyl to make ends meet in the impossible city of San Francisco. Combine that unconventional life with Joel's skewed sense of adventure, razor wit, and relentless pursuit of laughs, and you end up with some killer yarns. Joel's got stories for ages. And now he's writing a memoir to share the weirdness with the world. I've read bits of what he's been writing and it is far fucking out, a modern Beat's notes from the underground.

Support Joel Gion's Patreon so he can get it all down on paper.

View this post on Instagram

I’ve just launched a Patreon page for my book focusing on the few run-up years before the documentary-era. Click on the link on my profile page and become a patron to read over 3K words posted right now. I’ll be posting new writing or project related stuff every week. #joelgion #bjm

A post shared by Joel Gion (@joelgion) on May 3, 2019 at 8:11pm PDT

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I'm teaching on this year's Writing Excuses Cruise!

I'm one of the guest instructors on this year's Writing Excuses Cruise, a nine-day intensive writing program on land and at sea, departing from Galveston and putting into port at Cozumel, Georgetown, and Falmouth, with a roster of instructors including Brandon Sanderson, Piper Drake, Kathy Chung, K Tempest Bradford, DongWon Song, Mary Robinette Kowal, Dan Wells, and Howard Tayler. The program starts with a two-day workshop at a Houston hotel and then sets sail, running Sept 22-30 altogether. I've taught many other workshops, but this is my first Writing Excuses Cruise and I'm really looking forward to it. I hope to see you there! Read the rest

Watch a Hollywood screenwriter write a scene from scratch in 7 minutes

Our Boing Boing pal Joe Sabia made a video for Vanity Fair in which he gave screenwriter Emily Carmichael seven minutes to write a scene from a sci-fi thriller from scratch. Read the rest

Ottawa! I'll be at the Writers Festival this Saturday night (then Berlin for Re:publica and Houston for Comicpalooza!)

This Saturday, May 4, at 7:30PM, I'll be presenting at the Ottawa Writers Festival, talking about my novel Radicalized and how it ties into surveillance, monopoly, refugees, climate change, racism and oligarchy -- all the good stuff! Read the rest

Talking Radicalized with the LA Public Library: Trump derangement syndrome, engagement algorithms, and novellas as checked luggage

The LA Public Library's Daryl M interviewed me about my new book, Radicalized, specifically, about how my Trump anxiety (created, in part, by the platforms' relentless use of "engagement" tools to nonconsensually eyeball-fuck me with Trump headlines) led to the book's germination, as well as the specific inspirations for each of the four novellas, and the delights of working in novella form. Read the rest

A madlibs science fiction plot generator

Grether Labs's Science Fiction Plot Generator can sure pick 'em: "You are friends with a talking fireplace, and you are working to solve this ancient puzzle before the creatures consume you"; "You are a cyan-eyed cartographer who is finding the awful truth beneath this false utopia, and who is struggling with the terribly thick underbrush and terrible isolation"; "You are friends with a penniless government agent, and you are working to gather the spice before the computer system becomes self-aware"; "You are a science fiction writer and activist who has been made obsolete by a small perl script." Read the rest

Here are cognitive scientist Steven Pinker's 13 tips for better writing

In January on Twitter, cognitive scientist Steven Pinker, author of Enlightenment Now, shared 13 tips for writing:

Reverse-engineer what you read. If it feels like good writing, what makes it good? If it’s awful, why? Prose is a window onto the world. Let your readers see what you are seeing by using visual, concrete language. Don’t go meta. Minimize concepts about concepts, like “approach, assumption, concept, condition, context, framework, issue, level, model, perspective, process, range, role, strategy, tendency,” and “variable.” Let verbs be verbs. “Appear,” not “make an appearance.” Beware of the Curse of Knowledge: when you know something, it’s hard to imagine what it’s like not to know it. Minimize acronyms & technical terms. Use “for example” liberally. Show a draft around, & prepare to learn that what’s obvious to you may not be obvious to anyone else. Omit needless words (Will Strunk was right about this). Avoid clichés like the plague (thanks, William Safire). Old information at the beginning of the sentence, new information at the end. Save the heaviest for last: a complex phrase should go at the end of the sentence. Prose must cohere: readers must know how each sentence is related to the preceding one. If it’s not obvious, use “that is, for example, in general, on the other hand, nevertheless, as a result, because, nonetheless,” or “despite.” Revise several times with the single goal of improving the prose. Read it aloud. Find the best word, which is not always the fanciest word. Consult a dictionary with usage notes, and a thesaurus. Read the rest

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