10.30.2009

NaNoWriMo - A Perfect Excuse to Write

Ever say to yourself, "one day, I would love to write a novel?" Sunday is your day to start.

November 1st begins National Novel Writing Month. For the entire duration of November, your objective is to crank out at least 50,000 words (about 175 pages total) of fiction. The "upcoming month of literary abandon," to put it in the words of the folks over at NaNoWriMo.org, will be your chance to join the motivated masses that share the same goal. They have been organizing the event since 1999, which started as a noveling binge between 21 friends in the San Francisco Bay area. In 2008, the number of participants blew up to over 119,000, with more than 21,000 crossing the 50k word mark.

So, you have what it takes to commit to writing 1,667 words per day for an entire month? Sign up for a FREE account at NaNoWriMo.org where you will be able to update and track your progress as the month goes by. I won't go into the details of how the tracking works, but you may find the nitty-gritty details here.

I realize that since this is a blog about fine-writing, there will be a few Luddites out there who would opt to do this on pen and paper. There is a less-technologically advanced way of verifying your word count. According to NaNoWriMo's frequently asked questions page :

What you do is write your 50,000 words, then have someone you trust verify that it is, indeed, 50,000 words. Then using something like the Lorem Ipsum generator, submit a file of the exact number of words of your handwritten manuscript to our word count validator.
For people who prefer doing a little bit of both, load up a trusty fountain pen and write several pages and then transpose them into your word processor of choice. Not only will you get the satisfaction of putting pen to paper to write your novel, but you will also sharpen those typing skills. If you don't have the portability of a laptop at your disposal, this would be a good solution when you are away from the desk.

Besides the online social aspect of writing with others around the globe, there also local "regions" that you can join which can hold local "write-ins" where you can meet and write with other WriMo's.

If you would like to join and have a bit of friendly camaraderie, Tom @goldspotpens will be participating in the NaNoWriMo. Note: he will not be writing about fountain pens, although they may make a cameo appearance. If you would like to be his writing buddy, visit his profile here.

Happy Halloween!

10.27.2009

Review : Online Vision Blue Fountain Pen

Released in Summer of 2009, the ONLINE Vision series is a sturdy, aluminum-based writing instrument that strikes a harmony between ergonomic utility and modern, elegant style. The lightweight characteristic of the aluminum body affords the writer hours of pain-free writing comfort while the molded plastic front section ensures a secure grip.

A neat feature on this series of fountain pens is the interchangeable nib option. When you order most ONLINE pens on our website, you can make a special request to have the nib be swapped for a fine, medium, broad, 0.8mm calligraphy, 1.4mm calligraphy or 1.8mm calligraphy nib size. The nibs are also sold separately for a modest $11.20 per nib. Just search "online nibs" on our website store and you will find all available sizes. All of the ONLINE fountain pens are sold with medium as the default. So, that is why I decided to write with a medium for this review.

As you will see in the first photo, the packaging is no-frills, much alike Lamy, who value utility over unnecessary elaboration. The black carboard box has a clear, plastic window and a magnetic closure. The pen arrives only with international-size ink cartridges aboard. For those who fuel with ink bottles, remember to buy a standard "Schmidt" converter with your order.

I loaded the pen with a Private Reserve DC Supershow Blue ink cartridge and wrote the review. My initial impressions on the nib were this : really wet and toothy. The toothiness does vary on how you angle the nib and your writing style. The ink flows very generously, even more than I would expect for a medium point. No skipping or starting issues. Overall, I would not rate it among the better of the stainless steel nibs, this one is just O.K.


The cap has a very solid snap to the front end of the pen. It posts well to the chrome-plated back end of the pen, but the metal sheath inside of the cap will end up leaving scratches on the chrome after extended use. The clip is solid and feels like it is spring-loaded when you press the very top of the cap.

As far as aesthetics are concerned, the Vision series uses a series of geometric patterns that are matched up with each color finish. The effect is very modern and sleek. The contrast of the matte color finish against the polished chrome appointments is a nice touch.

Summary:
  • Writing Quality : German-made, Stainless Steel nib (available in fine, medium, broad, 0.8mm, 1.4mm, 1.8mm calligraphy) writes very wet and is a bit toothy, but not unbearable. (grade B)
  • Aesthetic Quality : Modern, sleek appeal that is understated, but not underrated. (grade B+)
  • Utility : Clip has a nice, spring-loaded feel. The lightweight aluminum is very easy to write with and the plastic grip adds to that comfort. The only problem is the inside of the cap easily scratching the back part of the pen while posting. (grade B)
  • Price : At $50 retail (at Goldspot.com), this is a great value for a versatile, stylish writing instrument. (grade A)

Final Grade : B+
At this price, the Vision is a "recession buster" in the fine-writing market right now. With brands like Waterman and Parker still cranking out pens north of $300 retail, it is good to see that some manufacturers understand the modern pen consumer. Great value for writers looking for a solid, dependable pen to use as a daily writer.

10.14.2009

We Now Sell Montegrappa, Italia Writing Instruments


Goldspot is proud to announce that we have added Montegrappa Pens to our ever-expanding selection of fine-writing instruments. Italian-made since 1912, Montegrappa is the oldest Italian pen manufacturer. Their style is articulated in the finest resin, celluloid, sterling silver and gold used in pen production.

As some pen aficionados may know, Montegrappa has been under the umbrella of Mont Blanc distribution for the last several years. Prices became bloated and customers stopped buying. This year, it has been sold back to the original family in Italy that brought the brand to its prominence. With the change in hands, retail prices have dropped up to 40%. This is unheard of in the fine-writing industry.

Some special offers I think you should know:


The Eternal Bird Limited Edition. Our mouths nearly dropped to the floor when we saw this pen for the first time. The wrap-around sterling silver engraving is finely detailed and absolutely breath-taking. With the purchase of any Eternal Bird fountain pen, the matching inkpot, which is valued at over $3,000, is included for free in the order. Here is a pic of this finely-crafted inkpot:

If investing over $3,000 in a fountain pen and inkpot is not in the budget, there is a more enticing offer with another limited edition Modigliani fountain pen.

Tributo Modigliani. This limited edition was created in tribute to one of the most well-known portrait painters in the early 20th century. The Montegrappa pen abstractly recreates some of the features you would find in the artist's portraits. For a limited time, purchase any of the fountain pens in this series and you will also receive a complimentary ballpoint pen in the same series, shown below:
For $1,080 retail, the fountain pen and ballpoint pen combination is a great value for a limited edition of such high quality.

Of course, we will also be selling the regular lines of Montegrappa pens, such as the Emblema, Picoola, Espressione, Miya, Micra and the NeroUno. For those who have looked at Montegrappa before from other pen retailers will be pleased to see the drop in price on our store.

10.09.2009

Nominations for Pen of the Year 2009


Since we had so much fun voting in last November's Goldspot Pen of the Year, we decided to do it again. As opposed to last year's format, where we picked the nominees, we are asking YOU, the pen public, to weigh in on your favorite pen of 2009. I realize that this may chaff some vintage pen fans, but we are looking at pens released in 2009 ONLY. However, new color releases may be considered for a pen model that has been in production for years (e.g. Pink Lamy Safari, Vivid Red Namiki Vanishing Point, etc).

For those of you who may not remember, last year's winner by vote was the ONLINE Newood Calligraphy fountain pen set. As part of the victory celebration, we ran a promotion on this item the week following the election. We will do the same this year, provided that the elected winner is a product that we sell on our website.

Comment on this post with your nominations. You may also nominate by tweeting or posting on our Facebook wall. If your favorite pen of 2009 is already nominated, 2nd the nomination! Most importantly, have fun!

10.02.2009

Winner of the Traveling Pen Giveaway

Congratulations to Sara of Miscellaneous Ramblings of a Thirty-Something DIYer for winning the Traveling Pen Giveaway with her fine feline photo:


Her caption read : "My feline muses support my fountain pen addiction and encourage my journaling habit. "

She will be receiving her prize of a $25 gift card to our store at www.goldspot.com. Although the entry field was small, her photo was definitely deserving of merit. Congrats again!