Friday, August 29, 2014

[Product Review] Scrivener for Mac, Preppy Fountain Pen, KnitPicks Brava Worsted 100% Premium Acrylic Yarns

Product Reviews

Scrivener For Mac - I have been reading a lot of great reviews on Scrivener whenever I was browsing the web for writer's tools and apps for the past three years. I finally decided to download the 30-day free trial of Scrivener after a free webinar with Joanna Penn of The Creative Penn blog and Joseph Michael of Learn Scrivener Fast and I liked it so much I didn't even wait for the trial period to end to get my copy of Scrivener. Before Scrivener, I was using MS Word. When I got my iPad 2 and signed up for iCloud, I have been using Pages. Now that I have upgraded to the iPad Air, I am still using Pages due to the lack of a MacBook Air at the moment. My poetry collection was formatted using MS Word and it took me a whole week to get it properly formatted for eBook (and the eBook still doesn't look the way I really want it to so I'll probably submit an update for that one as well when I get my MacBook Air). My YA short story collection was formatted using Scrivener. Having worked on both writing software, I will say that Scrivener is definitely a step up when it comes to formatting manuscripts for publication. Formatting was such a breeze. Even if you see a formatting error like font size, paragraph style, etc, it wasn't as stressful as trying to format a piece of a really large document in MS Word. I know I still have a lot to learn with this writing software (yes, there is a little bit of a learning curve but I still think it is worth every penny your pay for it) but so far, I am really loving it and I can't wait to get my own computer so I can write directly using Scrivener instead of writing on my iPad Air using Pages and then exporting it to MS Word then importing it to Scrivener or retyping everything to Scrivener as if I'm using pen and paper. Anyway, if you are a writer who has a tendency to write scenes separately (like in pieces of index cards) and then later figure out which scenes go in which order that makes more sense to the overall storyline, this software is for you because with Scrivener, no more copying and pasting huge amounts of text and manually moving it around an even bigger MS Word document and no more stressing about MS Word misbehaving or having a mind of its own. With Scrivener, when you move scenes either through the cork board view or through the binder, the accompanying text moves with it, making it easy to arrange and rearrange scenes or huge amounts of text and you can also review the manuscript as a whole to see if the rearranged scene transitions beautifully onto the next scene. If not you can easily edit the text right there on the screen to add more words to make it all flow smoothly or you can rearrange some more. Like any word processor, it also keeps track of word and character count but unlike your average MS Word, Scrivener can also keep track of your daily goals and helps you get organized as to which version of your manuscript is which and you can label or color-code your manuscript or scenes, etc. however you like. What I love about Scrivener the best is its ability to export your manuscript into a lot of different file types: PDF, Kindle .Mobi, iBooks ePub, Standard ePub, MS Word, RTF, TXT, and lots more. When exporting your manuscript, you can also set or override font and paragraph styles. There are obviously more features in Scrivener that I have yet to discover and use but so far, I am really loving it and I can't wait to get back to using it. Also, there are tons of resources both free and paid that you can use to help you navigate and learn how to use Scrivener. 

Preppy Fountain Pen - My first foray into fountain pens. It is very cheap about $4.00 from The Goulet Pen Company and it comes with a proprietary cartridge in the same color as the pen's clip (I got the pink, the hubby got blue and black). The Preppy pens I ordered for me and the hubby are the 0.3 fine point ones and I had our pens converted into an eye-dropper pen in case we wanted more ink in the actual body of the pen instead of refilling the small cartridge. Shipping was fast (3 days) and you get a personalized message from the person who lovingly packed your items, which I truly appreciate. The little cartridge lasted eight straight hours of continuous writing (I was transferring my digital journal to my physical journal) and so I ordered a Platinum brand bottled ink in Cyclamen Pink from The Goulet Pen Company and it arrived in 3 days and it was very well packaged. I also ordered the Silicone Grease and the set of 5ml syringe to make the process of refilling my pen less messy and faster. I washed out the empty ink cartridge (in case I want to use the cartridge again - but I doubt it) and filled the pen's body with ink, greased the threads again to make sure it will not leak and so far, it hasn't leaked even when I stored it for a week on its side. The pen itself is made of durable plastic. While using the ink cartridge (the very first night I got the pen), I accidentally dropped the pen on the kitchen floor and thank goodness it did not break or get scratched otherwise I wouldn't be able to use it as an eye-dropper pen. As an eye-dropped pen, I love how it holds a lot more ink than the cartridge or converter (which I didn't get) and the ink flow to the nib is better than when I was using the cartridge. The bottled ink that I ordered is slightly different than the ink on the cartridge but it's not a very big deal for me. I especially like how the nibs have the same color as the pen's clip so mine has a pink color and the hubby's has blue and black. So unless I find a better quality fountain pen that is pink all over, I think I will stick to my Preppy Fountain Pen. I definitely recommend this product and The Goulet Pen Company especially to those new to fountain pens and just want to try a cheap one out to see if they will like it or not and for those who have a habit of losing pens. 

Dove Heather

KnitPicks Brava Worsted 100% Premium Acrylic Yarns - I used this yarn to make the Rico-Taube Wedding Throw and I had to say that the yarn was a little disappointing. I was expecting really soft, squishy Premium Acrylic yarn but this one was a little on the rough side but thankfully not as rough as Red Heart Yarns. It was also splitty. Sad to say, I did not enjoy crocheting with this yarn and will most likely stay far, far away from it. I would rather work with Hobby Lobby's Yarn Bee Soft Secret Yarns or Caron's Simply Soft Yarns (by far the softest Acrylic yarns I've ever come across).