Friday, August 29, 2014

Two Books And More Baby Blankets Than I Ever Imagined

It has been very busy these past few months since I last posted as evidenced by the amount of books I've read since the last blog post. On top of that, I have been busy putting together my two books: Black And Other Poems: A Collection, Vol. 1 and Under The Moon. 


My poetry collection came out on March 22, 2014 and is a collection of all the poems I've written from November 1997 to April 2008. I would say that poetry is very personal to me and so this collection is autobiographical in poetry form and it echoes my personal journey of anger, jealousy, unrequited love, depression, friendship, self-discovery and finally, finding my one true love. Under The Moon is a collection of Young Adult (YA) paranormal short stories and it follows the adventures of Helena, a 13 year old girl, and her friends Grace, Drake and Richard sometimes make an appearance. Under The Moon came out on July 17, 2014 and both books are eBook originals. Not sure yet if I will ever have them out in print editions. I guess it would depend on the cost and if there would be enough request to justify the cost of printing said books.

I would say though that it was so much fun being in control of every aspect of the publishing part even though it was slightly stressful because I want the finished eBook to be perfect like any other writer. But of course, with the conversion from MS Word to ePub, Mobi, and other digital file formats, there are bound to be errors and yes, sadly, Under The Moon had a couple of them but at the moment, I am unable to submit an update for the book because (and it is my fault) I have already traded in my 2008 black MacBook and I am currently without a proper laptop because I am waiting for the Retina MacBook Air to come out and I'm hoping to get it on Black Friday. My husband was nice enough to share his MacBook Pro with me but since he has homeworks and papers due for his MBA program (and he'll be graduating sometime in October! Yay!), the times that he doesn't use his laptop is not enough for me to update my book and submit it and then check it again for errors. That part is quite frustrating for me but I have to be patient and wait and last night didn't help at all when the hubby said, "Well, if you want, we can get your MacBook Air next month." Sigh... So tempting!

Aside from obsessing whether or not to wait for a Retina MacBook Air, I have been obsessing about fountain pens lately. Why? Because I actually miss writing on a paper journal and because I want to improve my handwriting/penmanship. I want that flowing script that my mom and older sister has and I have heard through the Books On The Nightstand podcast how Ann really loves her fountain pen especially the Twisbi pen that she recently acquired. So I did my research and found very helpful YouTube videos from The Goulet Pen Company and learned a lot about fountain pens, how to ink them up and how to care and maintain them. To me, it seems that you don't need to put a lot of pressure holding the pen so your writing hand doesn't get cramped and apparently doesn't tire out as easily compared to when holding ballpoint pens or gel pens. I don't usually use pen and paper at work but the rare times that I do, and because of this fountain pen research, I was made aware that I am gripping my gel pen too much and when I tried to hold it without any pressure, it was hard to write! There was barely any ink on the paper! Because this will be my first fountain pen and I am not sure if I will like it, I decided to get the Preppy Fountain Pen and had it converted to an eye-dropper pen from The Goulet Pen Company. So far, I am loving it. I still need to get used to holding the pen without any degree of effort but other than that, it looks like my handwriting is starting to actually look pretty and flowing. Yay for me!

The sad news is, I still have not gotten back my Knitting mojo and my poor knitting needles have not been taken out of the closet to see the light of day. I tell myself that it's okay because this year, I have dedicated it to crochet and I am even teaching a friend from work and her mom how to crochet! So far, they have both learned how to do the foundation chain, the single crochet and the half double crochet and hopefully they are both practicing at home everyday or as much as possible. I emailed her my crochet YouTube video playlist to help that along and hopefully we can resume our 2-hour weekly crochet class. As for my other friend whom I was teaching how to knit, she hasn't picked up her knitting needles because life is always getting in the way and we have yet to get together again to see how her progress is going (or not). I definitely should be more proactive about this but the thing is, my personality is more on the timid side and I don't like coming across as forceful and I definitely don't like bugging people. But it has to be done....

Books I've Read Since Last Blog Post
• A Storm Of Swords (A Song Of Fire & Ice, #3) by George R.R. Martin - 2/19/2014
• A Feast For Crows (A Song Of Fire & Ice, #4) by George R.R. Martin - 3/20/2014
• The Blossom Sisters by Fern Michaels - 3/22/2014
• Big Girl Panties by Stephanie Evanovich - 3/27/2014
• Blossom Street Brides by Debbie Macomber - 3/31/2014
• Shadow Spell (The Cousins O'Dywer Trilogy, #2) by Nora Roberts - 4/6/2014
• Enchanted (Woodcutter Sisters, #1) by Alethea Kontis - 4/12/2014
• A Dance With Dragons (A Song Of Fire & Ice, #5) by George R.R. Martin - 4/21/2014
• The Guest List by Fern Michaels - 4/25/2014
• Fall For You (The Jane Austen Academy Series, #1) by Cecilia Gray - 4/25/2014
• The Collector by Nora Roberts - 5/9/2014
• The Way To A Man's Heart (Silhouette Romance, #671) by Debbie Macomber - 5/12/2014
• Blogger Girl by Meredith Schorr - 5/16/2014
• True Love (Nantucket Brides Trilogy, #1) by Jude Deveraux - 5/22/2014
• A Boy's Will by Robert Frost - 6/3/2014
• The Power (The Secret, #2) by Rhonda Byrne - 6/4/2014
• North Of Boston by Robert Frost - 6/17/2014
• Mountain Interval by Robert Frost - 6/30/2014
• The Supermodel's Bestfriend by Gretchen Galway - 7/6/2014
• Eat, Pray, Love by Elizabeth Gilbert - 7/8/2014
• Weekend Warriors (Sisterhood, #1) by Fern Michaels - 7/19/2014
• Payback (Sisterhood, #2) by Fern Michaels - 7/21/2014
• Mansfield Park by Jane Austen - 7/21/2014
• Vendetta (Sisterhood, #3) by Fern Michaels - 7/22/2014
• Confessions Of A Jane Austen Addict (Jane Austen Addict, #1) by Laurie Viera Rigly - 7/22/2014
• Cinderella Stays Late (Grimmtastic Girls, #1) by Joan Holub - 7/24/2014
• Northanger Abbey by Jane Austen - 7/24/2014
• Snow Flower And The Secret Fan by Lisa See - 7/28/2014
• Close Knit Killer (A Knitting Mystery, #11) - 7/29/2014
• Life After Life by Kate Atkinson - 8/3/2014
• Rude Awakenings Of A Jane Austen Addict (Jane Austen Addict, #2) by Laurie Viera Rigly - 8/8/2014
• In Search Of A Love Story (Love Story, #1) by Rachel Schurig - 8/12/2014
• For All Time (Nantucket Brides Trilogy, #2) by Jude Deveraux - 8/14/2014
• The Next Best Thing by Jennifer Weiner - 8/27/2014

Currently Reading
• The Wishing Thread by Lisa Van Allen

Currently Writing
• A second collection of YA short stories following the adventures of Helena and her friends.

Finished Objects
• Stress Buster Monster & Friend - class project from Craftsy's Amigurumi: Design Your Own Monster with Stacey Trock 

• Baby Hanson's Baby Blanket

• Rico-Taube Wedding Throw

• Top Down Shawl by Nazanin S. Fard

• Baby Meyer Blanket

Currently Knitting/Crocheting
• Baby Drucker Blanket
• Warm Up America Charity Squares

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. 


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).


Just in case, I would like to share the blogs and/or podcasts I'm really enjoying which are also listed on the side bar...and these are in the order I discovered them...hope you'll enjoy them too!

• 2 Knit Lit Chicks
• Never Not Knitting
• The Writing Show (ended Dec 2012 I think)
• Books On The Nightstand
• Knit Me Happy
• Knitting Blogcast
• Blooming Knitter
• Knit 1 Geek 2
• Just One More Row
• That's Write
• Knitabulls Podcast
• Ladies of the Knit
• Robinz Nest
• The Book Pod
• Worsted For Wear: A webcomic about knitters (ended 4/23/2014)
• Literary Disco
• Gantsilyo Guru Blog
• Me And My Dog And Some Yarn - A YouTube videocast
• Pen, Hook & Needles

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