The Joy of a Beautiful Pen

This year I’ve developed a strange fascination with fountain pens. At the beginning of the year I taught a class with the Salt Lake Genre Writers, a chapter of the League of Utah Writers, and my friend there had this gorgeous pen. They told me all about how much they loved using it and all the different people in the League who were also pen aficionados. That idea of having a gorgeous pocket-sized piece of functional art stuck in my brain.

Photo by John Jennings on Unsplash

Years before, when I had been enamored with illuminated manuscripts and calligraphy, I received a very basic fountain pen set as a gift. I didn’t do much with it then as I was much more interested in the pens specifically used in calligraphy. Fast forward to a few months ago when I finally dug that old set out, cleaned out the old crusty ink, found a few cartridges that hadn’t dried out, and gave it a try.

There’s a reason fountain pens have stood the test of time. Compared to any other pen I’ve used, a fountain pen flows smoother and faster. Dare I say it it even beats out my beloved Uniball Jetstream 1.0. My initial foray into fountain pen use had me experimenting with different pen nibs in different widths. Initially, my favorite was an extra fine chiseled tip that gave just a hint of the calligraphy feel, without looking pretentious.

For my birthday I received a gift card to go shopping for a new beautiful fountain pen. While my newly minted fountain pen friends recommended a few different brands all ranging in style and price, I was drawn to the look of the Moonman pen. With its smooth curves and clear body, not to mention an impressively huge ink reservoir, I thought this would be the perfect pen to test drive. And did I mention purple? It came in purple.

Behold! My purple Moonman taking a space walk

Because I’d liked the extra fine points in my old set, I chose an extra fine point for my Moonman. Little did I know that extra fine points can vary between manufacturers. My Moonman screams along the page like the worlds best gel pen, both fast and incredibly smooth, but doesn’t have the sharp edges of a chisel tip. All hobbies have a learning curve, and this is mine. I still love using it, but perhaps if I get Christmas money I’ll invest in a different style and compare the two.

All in all, writing with this beautiful pen brings me joy and elevates my morning journaling practice. I love having it out on my desk where I can look at it. It feels great in my hand. Pens can be such simple things. We forget that the experience of putting ink to paper can be more than just jotting down words, it can be an experience.


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Journaling and Long Walks

I know it’s a author stereotype, but yes, I am an introvert with a huge capital “I”. If you’ve seen me out in the wild, like at a conference or convention, the outgoing person you met is me acting in the role of what I’ve interpreted as my public persona. I’ll start conversations, talk to strangers, and even invite people to discuss their favorite things. None of these are things I’m naturally comfortable with.

Like at all.

The cutest, fluffiest ball of suppressed anxiety you’ll ever have the pleasure to meet.

This kind of acting requires both mental and physical energy. When the event is over, I go home exhausted. What’s more, being out in the wild like this, even around people I really enjoy, causes a huge amount of anxiety as well. You can sleep off exhaustion. You need special tools to handle anxiety.

If I’m to be really honest with you, there are plenty of other things that cause anxiety as well that shouldn’t. That’s what anxiety is, unusual fear, worry, or dread about things we don’t have control over. For me, the morning rush to get the kids to school is always a big one. Innocent requests to help with kid’s projects are another. Preparing for family outings, meal planning, shopping for clothes … yeah, those things too.

Throw on top of all that the writing and authoring business stuff and I’ve built myself a lovely anxiety sandwich.

Photo by Youjeen Cho on Unsplash

There are two things I’ve come to use regularly to manage my anxiety, journaling, and walking.

This isn’t run of the mill journaling used to reflect on the events of the day or capture angsty rants and long winded stories. This is a practice called morning pages. Before sitting down to work, I spend 15-20 minutes filling two composition book pages of the words and thoughts that need to spill out of my brain. It’s like Drano for the mental pipes. Sometimes I ask questions that I’ve been meaning to spend time thinking about and sometimes I use it to get a rant out of my system. Regardless of what ends up on the pages, I always feel better after I’ve done it. What’s better, I often get really good ideas while I write.

While journaling takes care of a lot of the built up mental garbage that needs to be taken out, walking works wonders as an emotional reset button. If the morning’s been stressful, taking a walk before diving into the rest of my days often eliminates the accumulated stress of the morning and makes it possible to not bring that stress into the creative space. It also helps me maintain better energy levels during the day, gets my heart pumping, calms my cravings, and I get a change to play Wizards Unite. For me, that’s super motivating.

Yesterday I didn’t get in my walk because I knew it was going to be a busy day. Come afternoon, my anxiety was unmanageably high and I was raiding every shelf of the pantry for something sweet. By early evening I so tired, I ended up watching TV on the couch. By missing a 40 minute walk, I lost several hours of working time – not to mention ate way too much junk food.

Speaking of which … I haven’t done my walk today because of the rain. If it lets up, I better get out there!

What do you do to manage anxiety? Let’s talk about it!


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Positive Influences of Writing, with Rachel Huffmire

Having a creative outlet in today’s busy modern life is a wonderful way to relieve stress, find greater fulfillment, and meet new people. Today we are talking to author Rachel Huffmire about how writing has influenced her life for the better.

Rachel and I met because of our mutually shared passion for the written word. We both are Immortal Works authors and we both have books coming out soon. In addition, we both are moms who work hard to find an ideal balance between filling our creative wells and spending time with our families.

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Photo by Koushik Chowdavarapu on Unsplash

My big question for Rachel is:

How has writing influenced you to be a better person?

Her response:

Learning to write is a great form of self-discovery! One of the first books I read about the craft was called “If you want to write” by Brenda Ueland. Ueland taught me I didn’t need to go to extraordinary lengths to be a good writer—I don’t have to spend a summer abroad, I don’t have to try Thai food (though that was a happy discovery)… I merely had to be honest about the way I saw my immediate world. So, I started to look deeper into the things I found commonplace. I realized how cool my life actually was! I grew up as a homeschooler in Utah, surrounded by wheat fields, raising a pet duck named Penelope… To me that was normal. To others, apparently, it was super interesting!

Writing also taught me to appreciate living in a whole new way. When you decide to become a creator of any kind, you absolutely must be deliberate about the way you observe, interact, and sense the world around you. In “The Artists Way” by Julia Cameron, she talks about filling up a creative well to draw from by engaging your senses while seeking out a spectrum of emotions and details around you – not just the pleasant or comfortable ones. I learned to write three daily pages of subconscious jabber to get all the inhibitions, fears, and tasks out of my way so I can produce stories without being blocked by inner negativity. In an online interview, Liz Lemon Swindle recounted how her mentor told her she could become a professional artist in ten years. Liz said she would push herself and get there in a year, but her mentor replied with “It’s not a matter of time, it’s a matter of life.”  I’ve been writing consistently for seven years now, and am so grateful for the struggles, joys, and experiences that have stretched me over that time. All of it. The good, the bad, and the new.

Writing also teaches me to live life deliberately. I’m a homeschool mom to two little boys and I make sure that writing always comes second to them. If I want to be as prolific as I hope I can be, I have to be very careful not to spend too much time engaged in things that don’t matter. And finally, writing has led me to some wonderful friendships that have shaped and changed my life for the better. Writers are some of the most friendly and encouraging bunch of people you’ll ever meet. Basically, writing taught me to embrace the life around me and savor every little piece of it, then figure out how to write it down in a way that others can enjoy it too.

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Rachel Huffmire works as a novelist and acquisitions editor for Immortal Works Press. You can find her in Southern California where she enjoys sand at its finest: the beach and the desert. She homeschools her two little boys, writes science fiction and fantasy novels, and reads bedtime stories to her husband every night. Her first novel, Shattered Snow, will be released on January 8, 2019.

Connect with Rachel! 
Facebook: Rachel Huffmire, Author
Twitter: @RachelHuffmire
Instagram: rachelhuffmire

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More about Rachel’s upcoming debut novel, Shattered Snow

The story

In 2069, time-travel is restricted to observation and research. But Keltson Grammar doesn’t mind breaking a few laws. Known only as “The Mirror”, Keltson runs an underground empire that rescues unfortunate souls throughout history. However, a single misstep could send an entire agency to reinstate his clients to their original dismal fates.

Lilia Vaschenko is a Russian mechanic surrounded by cinderblock towers, ladders she cannot climb, and a glass ceiling that holds her down like a casket. She’ll do anything to escape— even work for the world’s most wanted renegade.

Margaretha is a young countess, destined to be poisoned at twenty-one. But when she discovers a mysterious mirror in the woods that transforms the world into shadows and ice, her future shatters. Chased from her familiar home, will she ever find where she truly belongs?

Shattered Snow is a YA science-fiction retelling of Snow White. It is based on the real-life history of Margaretha von Waldeck, a sixteenth-century countess that may have inspired the Grimm brothers’ fairy tale.

Sounds awesome, right? You can preorder Shattered Snow on Amazon and other online book retailers.

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Hi everyone! Jodi here.

Release Day for Stonebearer’s Betrayal is coming up next week! I can’t tell you how exciting it is for this day to finally come. For those of you (wonderful people!) who preordered, your copies will be shipped to you or delivered to your e-readers on Nov 13th.

Want your own copy? Head on over to Amazon or your favorite online book retailer today!

Want a signed copy? Head over to my online store!

Utah locals! Come celebrate with me at the Stonebearer’s Betrayal Launch Party next Friday, November 16th, from 7-9pm at The Printed Garden in Sandy (9445 S Union Sq, Ste A, Sandy, Utah 84070). There will be fun, food, and prizes!

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