How To Use A Fountain Pen Like A Pro | Guest Post By Emma of Invaluable.com

I’m so excited to share today’s guest post by Emma of Invaluable.com with you all! In this post, she’ll share her knowledge on how to craft a gorgeous signature using a fountain pen. Read on to learn how to use a fountain pen like a pro!

Writing is good for our mind, body, and soul. It’s proven to help us communicate more effectively, it decreases stress, increases productivity, and helps us make more focused, educated decisions. The physical act of writing by hand has even more benefits as it encourages brain development and gives us an outlet to release any anxious, stressful feelings. If you don’t already incorporate writing into your weekly or even daily habits, it’s time to start doing so and reap all the mental and physical benefits.

One of the most crucial steps into developing a long-term, successful writing practice, is by acquiring the right writing instruments. Not only is it fun to gather notebooks, pens, cards, and other accessories for writing, but they’re monumental in changing how easy and enjoyable it is to write. One of the best tools for writing is a fountain pen. They have a unique sense of antiquity attached to them, and write in a way that is smooth and beautiful. If you’ve never written with a fountain pen before, Invaluable created this helpful guide that outlines everything you need to know about them.

First, it’s important to understand the anatomy of your pen. The main parts of it include:

  • Nib: The metal tip of the pen that physically touches the paper. Nibs come in different sizes that determine the line width. 
  • Feed: Made of either plastic or ebonite, the feed acts as a vehicle for ink delivery, connecting the neib to the pen’s reservoir.
  • Barrel: This is the exterior of the pen, and sizes differ based on preference.
  • Converter: These are small filling mechanisms that fit right onto the pen and take the place of an ink cartridge. Converters work with bottled ink.
  • Cartridge: These are disposable capsules attached to the back of the pen that supplies them with ink.

Once you understand all the moving parts of your pen and how to fill them with ink, then you can focus on technique and how to write with one. There’s a lot that goes into it, and everything from how you hold the pen to the amount of pressure applied is an art. While Invaluable’s post goes into detail, here are some quick, summarized tips for writing with your fountain pen:

  • Hold the pen between your thumb and index finger.
  • Make sure the pen creates a 40 to 55 degree angle with the paper.
  • Position the nib so that the metal side is facing away from the paper.
  • Keep fingers and hands rigid.
  • Though ballpoint pens require constant pressure, fountain pens require very little. 
  • Use light strokes.

Once you’ve practiced and mastered the technique, then you can enjoy all the writing benefits fountain pens have to offer. Invaluable also included a helpful infographic on quick writing tips and how to craft the perfect signature using your fountain pen. Check it out below, and start your writing practice today!

About the Author

Emma is a writer at Invaluable.com, the world’s leading online marketplace for fine art, antiques and collectibles. You can see more of her and her colleagues’ work at https://www.invaluable.com/blog/.

Project Canvas Blog Tour

Project Canvas Blog Tour
Project Canvas is almost here! *cue the epic music, confetti, and mounds of cake* This exciting international project is jam-packed with writerly advice, encouragement, and lots more amazingness. And guess what? It’s going to be released to the world on November 15! So many epic people contributed to this book–61 in total (including me)! Altogether, we’re from eleven different countries and six different continents. And we have all come together to make Project Canvas. I am SO EXCITED for this book to go out into the world! ❤ Read on to learn more about Project Canvas, the amazing founders, and other fun stuff. =D 
About the Book

An international writing community. 61 authors. 11 countries. 6 continents.

Are you looking for advice on how to create the perfect villain? Do you need the courage to put your story down on paper? Find this and more in Project Canvas, a writing resource written completely by teen and young adult writers and compiled by Caroline Meek and Olivia Rogers.

Project Canvas includes:

· 71 short chapters, each written by a different author

· bonus interviews with authors such as Tessa Emily Hall and Q. Gibson

· world building and character development worksheets

· and other helpful resources!

“This is a writing teacher’s dream – not a how-to book, but more of a literary testimony and homage to the process of writing. A sweet balance between the practical and the spiritual, Project Canvas is concise enough for daily meditation, yet robust enough to move the writer’s soul beyond the temporary.” –Brian Dolezal, professional development and spoken word coach at Sumner Academy of Arts and Science

About the Founders

Caroline and Olivia have been friends ever since kindergarten, when they met in a homeschooling group. Their writing journey was a slow evolution over the course of many sleepovers, games of pretend, writing stories together, and finally publishing some of them.

Caroline Meek is the editor-in-chief and co-founder of Project Canvas. She’s originally from Kansas City, Kansas, where she co-authored The Drawing in of Breath and attended Sumner Academy of Arts and Sciences. Caroline has a passion for bringing writers together and is currently studying English & Creative Writing on the Publishing track at the University of Iowa. She’s been published in The Kansas City Star, Ink Lit Mag, Wordsmith, and blogs at Of Stars and Ink-Stained Things.

Olivia Rogers is the co-founder of Project Canvas. She’s originally from the great state of Kansas, where she showed sheep, competitively debated, and also became involved in politics. Olivia believes that writing is the gateway to change. She’s currently studying Political Science and Philosophy at Kansas State University, with the goal of becoming a lawyer and continuing to advocate for others.

Other Fun Stuff… 

The fun doesn’t end with the release of this insanely amazing book. There’s also a giveaway!  Go to the giveaway post on the Project Canvas blog for a chance to win free copies of Project Canvas and more exciting goodies. =) Click here to visit the giveaway post.

And y’all, don’t forget to stop by the other amazing blogs on this tour! For a schedule of the blog tour, visit the Project Canvas blog (projectcanvasblog.blogspot.com). Also, there’s a super fun bookstagram challenge going on, and I think that I’m going to be joining in. Click here to see the blog tour schedule and check out the bookstagram challenge that Project Canvas is hosting! =)

Are you excited for this book’s release or what?! 
What is one piece of advice you’d like to give to other writers? 

3 Tips On Writing A Novel With Multiple Points of View

3 Tips On Writing A Novel With Multiple Points of View
I’m very excited to continue talking about multiple points of view in fiction with you all today! In last week’s post, I talked about three important questions to ask yourself before adding another point of view to your novel (you can read that post by clicking this link here). Today, I’m sharing three tips on writing a novel with multiple points of view. Most of the projects that I’ve worked on have had at least two points of view in each, and I’m excited to share what I’ve learned from reading and writing stories with multiple points of view! =) 
#1 Let your readers know when you’re switching between points of view. 
As I mentioned in my last post on multiple points of view, having more than one point of view can be confusing. Key words: Can be. It can be confusing if you don’t warn your readers when you’re switching between points of view. This is especially important to remember in first person narratives, when there is less use of the point of view character’s name. 
For example, there are multiple points of view in the second and third books of Sara Ella’s Unblemished trilogy. To keep everything less confusing, the author dedicates a chapter to each point of view and marks each chapter with the name of the point of view character. Imagine how confusing it would be if she skipped from one character’s journey to another, with just a pretty divider in between! 
The Take-Away: Don’t skip from points of view seamlessly, especially if you’re writing in first person. Make sure that your readers know when you move on to another point of view. 
#2 Don’t use too many points of view. 
Have you ever read a book with more than four points of view? I can’t think of single one, and there’s a reason for that. It can get confusing with lots of different points of view. It would be hard to balance each character’s part in the story equally, not to mention keep the readers interested in all of the characters and their separate journeys. Lots of point of view characters can be okay, but you’d have to be really careful as to not confuse your reader or lose her interest. 
The Take-Away: Try to limit how many point of view characters you use. 
#3 Make each point of view sound unique. 
This is a biggie! It’s not just the confusion aspect that is a problem here. If all of your characters are sarcastic and gloomy or cheery and full of rainbows and unicorns, they will all sound like one person. Having all of your characters sound the same won’t let them shine as the unique and memorable characters that you have created them to be! 
Instead of adding lots of snark to each point of view, think about your characters. What makes them special? What aspects of writing could best bring out their personalities? Lots of monologue, more action? After all, would sweet and innocent Sally really roll her eyes or whine on the pages? 
The Take-Away: Let your characters shine! Allow them to be their unique selves on the pages, and their voices will stand out as unique and memorable ones. 

 Does your novel have more than one point of view? And what is your favorite book that has multiple points of view? I’m all ears! =D 

3 Questions to Ask Yourself Before Adding Another Point of View To Your Novel

3 Questions to Ask Yourself Before Adding Another Point of View To Your Novel
Annnnnddddd I’m back. xD Apologies for the unplanned hiatus! Life has been a bit crazy, what with the start of my first draft of my novel (I AM SO EXCITED GUYS) and a whole lot of other exciting stuff (such as the fact that I finally got INSTAGRAM!!!!!). I am so happy to jump back into blogging. I’ve got lots of exciting things planned for you all, including more book reviews, photography, and details about my current WIP! =D 
But for now, let’s talk about points of view in novels. Specifically adding points of view to your novel. Is it good? Is it bad? The answer to both of those questions can’t be found until you ask yourself these three very important questions. 😉 

Will this work with the narrative voice I’ve chosen?
Other points of view just might not sound very good with the narrative voice you’ve chosen. Maybe it’s just me, but I prefer having multiple POV stories in a third person omniscient narrative voice. For example, here’s a snippet of writing featuring two points of view in the first person narrative voice:
My heart hammered in my chest. I couldn’t believe it. What had he just said? “Say it again,” I breathed.
Timothy ran a hand through his hair and met my gaze. “I like you, Amber.” 
~~~
There. I had said it. I liked her. I looked down at my feet. I wouldn’t expect her to feel the same way, especially since I had lied to her about the letters, but still…. 

Is it just me or is that a tiny bit confusing? We skipped from Amber to Timothy SO quickly. It felt a little choppy, even with the “divider” signaling a change, and the voices didn’t sound very distinct. Let’s look at this same snippet in third person omniscient, shall we?
Amber’s heart hammered in her chest. She couldn’t believe it. What had he just said? “Say it again,” she breathed. 
Timothy ran a hand through his hair and met her gaze. “I like you Amber.” 
There. He had said it. He liked her. Timothy looked down at his feet. He wouldn’t expect her to feel the same way, especially since he had lied to her about the letters, but still… He could hope, right?
In this third person omniscient voice, it’s not only easier to add extra points of view, but it is also less confusing and has smoother transitions. This by no means goes to say that first person narratives with multiple points of view are bad (they can be done well!). I’m only bringing this up as something for y’all to consider. =) 

Will the other points of view weigh the story down and take away from it, or will they move the plot/theme/arcs/etc. along? 
Adding some extra points of view might not make your story better. Those extra points of view could weigh it down instead. For example, if I’m reading a story about a little girl named Lilly who’s buying ice cream from an ice cream truck, I don’t want to know what the ice cream truck driver or the boy riding his bicycle past her are thinking. I’m only concerned about Lilly getting her ice cream. Reading those other points of view would drag the story along and add a bunch of unneeded story. 
However, if the story was about Lilly and the boy riding his bicycle past her, it’s okay to include his point of view. Adding his point of view would help introduce him, move the plot along, and even help reinforce a theme, amongst other things. It would deepen the story and help the reader understand things that one couldn’t understand with just Lilly’s point of view. 
Will these extra points of view confuse my readers? 
Has anyone else ever read a book with what seemed to be only one point of view character, but then later, about halfway through the book…. There’s for some reason another one? And then you only hear from this POV for five pages? It can be confusing, y’all, trust me. Multiple points of view get confusing when there are too many of them or if they’re introduced too late in the novel, amongst other reasons. If you think that your extra points of view might be confusing to your readers, have another person look over your manuscript with this specific question in mind. 
I hope that you’ll join me next week as I share three tips on writing multiple POVs in your novel! =) 

Do you prefer novels with just one POV or multiple POVs? Do you have anything that you’d like to add to my thoughts? =) 

WHAT I LEARNED FROM WRITING DEAR JAMIE, LOVE RORY

I can’t believe that next week this fun little celebration for “Dear Jamie, Love Rory” will come to a close. It’s been so much fun celebrating with you all (and I’d just like to say THANK YOU for all of your sweet comments <3). But before the celebration ends, I’d like to share two things I learned from writing “Dear Jamie, Love Rory” with you all. 
The first thing I learned was that being afraid of failure (and letting that fear control you) can only lead to just that: failure. 
Here’s something I don’t tell anyone: At first, I wasn’t even going to enter One Teen Story. A couple years ago, I had written a story for them and ended up never sending it in. I was too afraid of losing, too embarrassed to think of others reading it. Yet I still wanted to enter someday. My fear of failure (which was fueled by plenty of self-doubt), however, kept me from doing so until One Teen Story‘s latest contest. 
About a week or so before the deadline, I told myself, “I’m just going to do this. If I lose, I lose, but at least I can finally say that I tried.” About three late-nighters, a few scrapped stories, and plenty of agonizing over everything, I sent “Dear Jamie, Love Rory” to One Teen Story

First picture ~ Grapes at a California Vineyard ~ Second Picture ~ Writing in the Redwoods

A couple months later, I received an email saying that my story was placed on a shortlist. I freaked out. A little while later, I got an email saying that “Dear Jamie, Love Rory” had won. I freaked out even more. 
Looking back at it now, if I had let my fear of failure keep me from sending my story in, I couldn’t be writing this now.  
I’m not going to lie: Failure is SCARY. It’s a crippling beast, but if you let your writerly fears rule you, you will never get the chance to reach your dreams and succeed. Being afraid of failure and letting that keeping you from taking risks can only lead to failure. Don’t be afraid. You CAN reach your goals and achieve your dreams. 
The second thing I learned was to write the story of my heart. 
In an interview with Patrick Ryan of One Story, I was asked what the best bit of writing advice was that I had received. My answer? Write the story of your heart. 
I’ve tried writing stories for others so much, that when it came time for me to throw together a story for this contest, I decided to finally let myself write the story of my heart. Once I let myself do that, my writing got better, and I began to fall in love with this beautiful craft even more. 

Let yourself go wild on the pages. Write the story you want to see on bookshelves. Write what you love. Write the story of your heart, because the world needs your story.
The Giveaway…
Before I go, just in case you didn’t know… I’m hosting a giveaway! =D I’m giving away a signed copy of “Dear Jamie, Love Rory” AND a beautiful California sticker from Kulana Stickers. Use the widget below to enter. The giveaway ends on August 9. =)

Click here to buy “Dear Jamie, Love Rory” on Kindle. 
Click here to subscribe to One Teen Story. 

What is one of your greatest writerly fears? 
What’s something you’ve learned about writing? 

I’m Tired of “Strong” Female Characters Part Four – The Wrap-Up

I almost can’t believe that this is the last part of my series on strong women in fiction! I’ve had a blast sharing my thoughts and tips and chatting about this topic with you all in the comments. Before I continue, here are the links to the rest of this series in case any of you would like to catch up. =)

The Rest of the Series…

I’d like to close this series not by offering any more tips or pointing out amazing strong female characters in fiction, but by challenging my fellow writers to craft truly strong women in their stories. 
We writers have the amazing ability to influence people through the words we write. We don’t just write our stories for enjoyment. We get to encourage people with our stories. We get to tell them truth. We get to inspire people. We get to show them what’s right and wrong. We get to tell stories that change people, that change the world.
We get this privilege… Let’s not abuse it. Let’s use it! 
My hope and prayer for all of my fellow writers is that God will guide them to write stories that will glorify him. I hope that those same stories can also help girls realize what it means to be a truly strong women of the Lord who don’t look to their abilities or positions of power for their strength, but to their Lord and Savior. 
Thank you so much for joining me during this series on strong women in fiction! Be sure to visit Notebooks and Novels again next week for a book review of Jenny Han’s novel To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before

Which of these posts was your favorite? Which was most helpful? Will you take on the challenge to write about strong female characters? 
P.S. Be sure to check out my article on PURSUE on friendships with the guys in your life! Click here to read 4 Tips For Having Great Friendships With Guys. 

I’m Tired of “Strong” Female Characters Part Three

Last week, I shared three tips on crafting a strong female character in this blog post. This week, I’ve saved my biggest tip for last. It’s just one tip, but I’ve saved this for one big post so that it’s easier to understand and apply. Are you ready? Here we go! 
Let Her Be Strong in Other Ways.
The only way that strong women seem to be depicted as being strong is in a fierce and violent way. 

The strong woman is the one beating up all of the bad guys. She’s the one leading the rebels into battle. She’s the one going undercover. She’s doing what the guys can’t (my thoughts on this will need to wait for a different post). But fighting isn’t the only way a woman can be strong.

One strong woman in fiction is Arwen of J.R.R. Tolkien’s Lord of the Rings series. 

She doesn’t fight anyone. She doesn’t kill anyone. She doesn’t run around “breaking stereotypes” and “proving that women can do whatever men can do.” Yet she doesn’t sit around making doilies either. Arwen waits loyally for Aragorn to come back to her. She never lets go of the hope that she will be reunited with Aragorn. She encourages others around her. She is full of grace and isn’t afraid to be feminine. 

Arwen makes the hard choice to stay behind with the man she loves instead of leaving Middle Earth with her people for someplace far safer. She refuses to let go of love, even if it is the “easier” way out.

Sometimes, being strong doesn’t mean chasing the bad guys. Sometimes, it means simply being brave, no matter what’s going on around you. Sometimes it means being strong for others, even if we aren’t the ones charging into battle against an army of orcs.

Doesn’t it take more strength to heal than it does to hurt? 

Lucy Pevensie, from C.S. Lewis’s Chronicles of Narnia, was given a special healing cordial from Father Christmas. She uses this cordial to heal others, including her brother Edmund. Yes, Lucy uses a dagger when necessary, but she is primarily a healer, in my opinion.

It takes more strength to heal and mend than it does to hurt others. It takes more strength to help others than to tear them down. Women were designed by God to be nurturing, loving, and caring. These traits shine in healing. Why shouldn’t the strong women of fiction do more healing, not just in the physical sense, but also in the spiritual sense? 

We need to see more women who are strong in character in the books we read.

When I think of a strong female character that is strong in character, I almost immediately think of DC Comic’s Wonder Woman. Wait a minute, you may be saying. Isn’t she one of those cliché strong women? And aren’t you a Marvel Comics fan?* Well, yes, Wonder Woman does a whole lot of fighting, but what I love about Wonder Woman is that she has a strong character. She is full of compassion. She wants to help others. She stands strong in her beliefs, no matter what. She encourages the people around her. She is full of grace, and despite all of her fighting for justice, she is also gentle. Wonder Woman isn’t just strong physically, but she is also strong in character. She’s a great example of a strong female in fiction, in my opinion. Her character is something that girls can truly look up to!

*Yes, I am a HUGE Marvel Comics fan, but I have two exceptions to my I-don’t-like-DC-that-much stance. Those two exceptions are the Flash (Grant Gustin’s Flash, of course) and Wonder Woman. 
These are just a few ways that women in fiction can break free from our culture’s fake version of strength and be truly strong. 
I’ve only scratched the surface of this subject with this post. There are so many different ways women can be strong without having to hurt others or be a ninja-warrior. Are there women that can beat up bad guys? Yes, there absolutely are. Is there anything wrong with having a female character who happens to be skilled in archery or swordplay? No, there isn’t. But girls need to see more than just that in the women they look up to fiction. 
I hope you’ll join me next week as I wrap up this series on strong female characters. 
What do you think? What are some other ways women can be strong?