Author Tools, Toolbox Tuesday

Toolbox Tuesday – Markers

As an author I sign books. Since most of my books are sold as ebooks, this happens only a few times a year when I’m at events like Gay Rom Lit or various pride celebrations in my neck of the woods.

GRL SD bookIf you’ve had an author sign a book for you, it’s often with these results on the following page. Bleed through.

A lot of authors use Sharpie markers to sign. These markers write in nearly every surface, so they are a must, especially if signing glossy paper or photos, but when you put a Sharpie to the porous paper on the inner title page of a book, where most authors sign, it is guaranteed to bleed through the page.

Alcohol in the ink is what causes the ink to bleed. So what’s an author to do?

There are several options out there on the market, and now that the coloring craze has taken over the world, more and more companies are making products designed not to ruin paper. I’m going to tell you about two.

For the last few years, my go-to pen for signing books is Staedtler triplus® fineliner. I have the 10 pack that comes in a handy dandy case-turned-stand which makes all the colors easy to use, especially since I draw a little when I sign a book. 🙂 These are also three-sided makers, so the grip is really comfortable.

HUGE bonus with these, they are what Staedtler calls Dry Safe. You can keep the cover off the marker for days and the marker won’t dry out. Huge bonus if you’re the easily distracted type like me.

Yet, I felt limited my colors. There was no purple, for instance. What writer of gay fiction can live without purple, I ask you? So I went a hunting for more colors. Staedtler also makes 36 packs, but I kept reading good things about Stabilo pens.

Stabilo won’t bleed, and we had a few around the house, so I already knew I liked how they wrote. So for Christmas, I put markers on my list. And I got them! These are Stabilo Art Pen 88.

They work just as great. I use them to sign books and for everyday note keeping. I can now write on both side of the pages in my journals. I have a ton of colors too, and I had to include the shot of the open top on the roller pack, because the color you want is easy to get to even without opening.

Both of these are very fine point markers. There are times I wanted a larger point. One of the reasons I think a lot of authors have gone over to the Sharpie, aside from ease of buying them, is that they fill the space on the page. It can be nerve wracking to try to figure out some quippy or personal something on the fly after first meeting a reader. These lovely people have read my books, have dug into parts of my heart and soul, yet I don’t know most of them. So to use a marker to fill up that space with less words…. Ahhhhh!

I’m trying to get better at that personal message thing. It’s a work in progress. Please be patient.

On my Christmas wish list was also the larger tipped Stabilo Art Pen 68. Here is the difference in point size. Staedtler triplus® fineliner is on the left, Stabilo 88 is in the center, and Stabilo 68 is on the right.


So how do they write? That’s the proof. I wrote with the Stabilo 86 and the Staedtler so you can compare, then I flipped over the paper. 🙂

Whether you’re an author signing books or someone who simply loves writing in journals, both types of pens are fantastic. They also work for coloring, if markers are your thing. You’ll still want to have a Sharpie around for photos and such, but these are a great investment.

If you know of any other markers that come in great colors and don’t bleed through paper, I’d love to hear about them. I’m ready to try all the markers in the world!

Book Release, GLBT, Inspiring, LGBT

Spark on Pinterest

I’m slowly but surely revealing many of the inspirational photos I found while doing research and spending time writing Spark. Pinterest is a great resource for that, especially with the ability to have secret boards.  I’m excited to share some of these images now. Come and take a look. I’ll be adding more over the next few days when I have time. I’m sure you’re wondering why SPAM is included. *evil laugh* There is a very good reason.

Writing Resources

New Toys Make Me Happy

I finally bit the bullet and got myself an iPad. I’ve wanted once for ages, but never really thought I needed one. I’m a very practical person. After all, I already have an iPhone, which is like a mini iPad but with a phone! attached. I also have an iMac (but that chains me to a desk). I have a crappy MacBook from 2007 that barely works anymore, but if I dejunked it, it would probably be fine.

I wanted a tool to use while on the go that I’d actually use. I’ve tried to write on my iPhone, but I get frustrated. My laptop is too cumbersome to bring along. I’ve opted for a leather notebook and a pencil lately. The reason I debated so long, even when there was cash burning a hole in my pocket, was that I wan’t sure about the storage. Yet, for the last year or so, nearly all my writing files have been sitting neatly on Dropbox. There was no longer any reason to really wait, I finally realized.

So I bought my new iPad. I could type on it and even used my wireless keyboard from my iMac if I really wanted to get going fast. Then yesterday, I went out and bought the Zagg Profolio+ keyboard. It’s not the prettiest keyboard on the market/portfolio, but it’s functional and the keys feel really close to a standard keyboard, at least compared to the Ultrathin Logitech keyboard, which felt like typing on a toy to me.

Now I’ll have to see if my productivity will go up. I sure hope it does.


One Too Many or Perfection?

I feel like I’m over-specializing my life, or at the very least, over-organizing my online life. For years I had a hotmail account that I shared with my husband. Yes, shared! When I started signing up for free this and free that, I decided to create my first gmail account to catch all that junk, but I really preferred using gmail over anythings else, so that quickly became my go to account. When I started my parenting blog ages ago, I used that as my main email, and it just naturally became my main fiction writing account.

Why would I need more than one email address, right?

Well, I’ll tell you. When you start writing M/M romance and then you email your kid’s teacher using that same email that’s attached to many erotic stories easily found with a quick google search, you quickly see the benefit. So I created my “Mom” email. When I got published, I created my professional email, and I’ve been using that one for quite a few things.

So, now I get updates to that email from all the sites I use for marketing: Pinterest, Tumblr, Twitter, Google+, and Facebook. That junk is now mixed up with all the other important stuff that needs to be easily found from my publisher, so guess what. I just created yet another email address. is where you can find me if you want to email me. Now, I need to figure out how to weed out all the marketing stuff from my super important stuff.

I can’t be alone in the multiple emails accounts thing (Can I?), because the Mail program on my Mac was obviously designed for this job alone. If I had to log into each account separately, I’d never do it, so I’ve very grateful for programs like Mail.

How many email accounts do you have and how do you decide what goes to which account?


Get Words Down

I’m shifting gears in my current manuscript, and I feel like I need a mental break. What a great time to write a blog post, right? I think so.

Over the years, I’ve purchased many journals. Some are leather, some bound in corrugated cardboard, but my favorite journal has been the Moleskine. Moleskine journals are expensive, but I like the cream colored paper, and the paperboard cover feels less intimidating than leather. Leather feels more permanent, and I often feel as if I need something really important to say before I can write in one.

In fact, most of my journals are still blank, aside from the Moleskines. Until now. I went to the Dreamspinner Press Author’s Conference not two weeks ago, and we were given a beautiful leather bound journal with the Dreamspinner logo pressed into the leather. This is the type of journal I would’ve placed on my sacred journal shelf in my bookcase, but I used it that week to take notes in and write sex scenes in during a sex writing seminar.


It was freeing to be able to use the journal. I’ve always felt I needed to write perfect words inside a journal so pretty, but I sat that day and wrote imperfect words in that perfect journal. There are a lot of edits I’d make if I read my words again, but the fact is, I got words down.

And isn’t that really the start of any book. Write the words. Just start.

Last summer I partook in Camp NaNoWriMo in both June and August. I ended up writing in July too, never going back to edit but continuing on writing and writing until my story was done. I ended up with my North Star trilogy. I started, and that’s the only way you will ever finish.

What’s it going to take for you to write today?

Writing Process

How I Keep My Butt in the Seat to Write

Cropped keyboard

I have some tools of the trade most people don’t think of as writer’s tools, but when I sit at a computer for extended periods of time, I find I need some things to keep my butt in the seat. That usually means comfort items. So here’s a list of some unconventional tools of mine:

  1. A footstool – I use a footstool to elevate my feet when I sit at my desk. It’s comfy and it also reduces swelling if it’s hot outside.
  2. A nursing stool – What?!? Yes, for those times I don’t want my feet up or on the ground, I rest them on an angled nursing stool. It helps stretch my muscles and simply gives me another option. Besides, I had it left over from the baby days, so I may as well reuse it if I can. 
  3. A blanket – I even use a blanket in the heat of summer. Maybe because it feels good, but also to cut down on the draft from my heating/cooling system.
  4. Fingerless gloves – I have collected numerous pairs over the years. My wrists and hands get cold so I always have a pair within easy reach. I seem to type faster with warmer hands, and fast typing is a bonus as a writer.
  5. A scarf – This is a fairly new discovery. I found that even with the fingerless gloves and a blanket, I still felt a little cold. A scarf around my neck helps give me that little bit more warmth. It doesn’t even need to be wool. I often use a thin, silk scarf.
  6. A heating pad – I don’t use this all the time, but if I’ve been at the computer for days on end, my lower back can get sore. Also, I love heating pads. They are wonderful.
  7. A coffee warmer – I enjoy writing very early in the morning, just after my coffeemaker finishes dripping. I always pour myself a cup of joe first thing and then sit down to write. The problem is, I often get so wrapped up in my work that it is an hour later before I go back for that second or third sip, and by then, it’s cold. With the coffee warmer, that no longer happens. I just need to make sure it’s turned off before I leave the room. I’ve forgotten a few times.

Not a pencil, pen, notebook, or software program mentioned, but I don’t think writing would be nearly as comfy without all these little tools.

What are some of your tools that help you be more productive and keep your butt in the seat?

Thoughts, Writing Resources

Scrivener, I want this…

I know one thing that would make Scrivener an even better writing tool.  A character tree!  Sort of like a family tree but linked to the character sketches and flexible with relationship statuses like lover, son, father, cousin, best friend, enemy, and the like.

I’m drooling just thinking about how I’d use this because the family tree website I’m using is highly inadequate.  There is no BFF relationship so I can connect Summer and Hugo together forever!