Holy Grail Achieved! Finally found my replacement for the TUL MARKER PEN!!!

V Razor Point pen next to its box packaging

My new favorite pens

If you miss the now-discontinued TUL Marker Pens, I may have found you a replacement.

I’m an author who writes by hand A LOT. I can fill 100 pages of a Leuchtturm Notebook (Leuchtturm Master Ruled Notebook A4 Plus, Black) in a month. So I need a long-lasting, smooth-writing pen that can keep up with the speed of my story-brain.

In the past, I relied upon my beloved TUL MARKER PENS, but when OfficeMax suddenly Disapparated them off shelves a few years back, I was lost. I couldn’t go back to mere ballpoint pens or even gel pens; the marker tips had a way of making my handwriting look *fantastic*.
So I went on a hunt.
I previously bought and reviewed the following: Pilot Razor Point Marker Stick Pens, Ultra Fine Point, Black Ink, Dozen Box (11001) (nib wore down too fast), BIC Z4+ Roller Pens, Fine Point, 2 Pens (Z4CP21) (no soft marker tip, a little pricey, but nice for art), and Pilot Extra Fine Point Permanent Markers, Black Ink, Dozen Box (44102) (perfect for slick surfaces and baggies, but terrible bleedthrough on paper).
I was a little hesitant when I bought a box of these–“razor point” “extra fine”? My writing’s never looked good in needle-sharp lines. But the reviews were strong and I felt like I was running out of marker-tipped options.

To my utter delight, I found these pens to be the perfect replacement for the TULs. The nibs outlast the ink. They’re smooth on the Leuchtturm paper. There’s no bleedthrough interfering with my using both sides of the paper. And while they’re not waterproof (sometimes I spill my water bottle, what can I say?), after I daubed up the excess water, the writing was still legible which is all I ask for.

But the factor that makes these pens a match in office supply heaven for me is there is a LOT of ink in these things. I received my first box at the beginning of 2017. It’s the end of July, 2017. I *might* have just used up all 12 of them (though I’m not sure not sure because I bought two more boxes and sourced a couple out of there). Again, I’m writing some 200 pages, front and back, every two months, so that’s a LOT OF mileage.

Could a few things be improved? Sure. I think the barrel could feel more comfortable. And I miss the bright yellow tip available in the Pilot Razor Point Marker Stick Pens–not just stylish, but helpful in finding a pen in the dark of one’s purse.

But this price point and durability render those arguments moot. If you, too, are missing the feel of the TUL Marker Pens, grab a box of these. I think you’ll find what you’ve been missing.

(Originally reviewed at Amazon)

Yet another set of stupid Word tricks


First, if you enjoy tabs, you’ll love this free add-on that lets you have tabs in Word, Excel and PowerPoint (works up until Office 2013):


Second, if you’re like me and occasionally have multiple drafts of the same story running around, here’s an easy trick to differentiate them (in Office 2010 anyway):

On the Ribbon, hit Page Layout, then Page Color.

There!  Won’t affect your printing unless you change things around in Options.

Now you can tell at a glance which version you’re working on!  And perhaps prevent eyestrain!

Finally, Control+Click selects a whole sentence at once.

The things you learn before 8AM on a Thursday!

Two Tips for Writers

Muse at 11, Writing

First, the general tip:  If your next scene isn’t starting off right, it might mean your last scene isn’t finished yet.  Take the scene a little further: it might launch you right into your next scene.

Second: When you’re trying to find out different members of royalty are addressed, you’ll have better look looking up “royal stylings” or “royal styles” than “royal forms of address.”  Took me months to discover this!  It also helps if there’s a monarch alive with the title you’re writing for (in my case, I had to go to Denmark.)

Create Inspirational Mood Boards for Your Writing Project with OneNote


Guess what, fellow writers?  I’ve found a use for Microsoft OneNote.

While I don’t like it as a wiki, it’s perfect for making mood boards!

Mood boards are used by some visual artists to help them visualize a project.  You collect images that evoke the mood you want for your piece, then pin the whole collection up where you can see and refer back to it while you work.

In OneNote, collecting pics is as easy as dragging images from the web (or your harddrive) into a file for your novel.  I’ve been using it to collect pictures for different locales, characters, and fashions in my sci-fi world, and it’s much tidier than having the images scattered among my harddrive folders!

* * *

Another fun thing I’ve been doing in Microsoft OneNote is collecting photos of actors who remind me of my characters.

While I’m a have the ability to draw my characters if I want, my mental image of a character is fairly fluid–so why not grab some real life influences?

Here’s a few scientists my protagonist runs around with:

I was thrilled when I saw the trailer to MoneyballJonah Hill‘s character really struck me as a solid reference for my protaganist’s archrival-slash-boss, Vincent Harper.

I’ve always seen my protag’s weasely coworker Timothy Wallman as Steve Buscemi, but I didn’t realize why it was so easy to imagine Steve-o in a labcoat until I found this image of his from Spy Kids!

One of his other coworkers, Vanessa Chak, seemed to arrive as a crankier version of King of the Hill’s Minh Souphanousinphone, though when I drew Chak from imagination, I came up with this:

Have you ever used mood boards before in your writing?  I’d love to hear about your experiences!