Saturday, February 22, 2014

Writers and Their Pens

I recently posed a question on a writers loop. I wanted to know their recommendations for an easily available pen for book signings.

Imagine my surprise when that simple question became one of the hot topics. I forgot... they're writers!

Here are some of their responses:

  • Sharpie pens... they are acid free, do not bleed through the paper, and this particular set has colors that are dark, so they show up well on light paper.... Also, they dry instantly, or get absorbed, so they don't smudge or smear if your hand drags across them by accident. Nor do they  mark the opposite page if you sign and then close the book, which happens with other pens...

Are you getting a sense of the passion?

  • Fine point black Sharpie. Doesn't smear or fade. That's the type of pen many celebrities use for autographs.
  • Blue sharpie, that makes it stand out from the black type.
  • I once saw Hallie Ephron use a silver Sharpie to sign a black page in the front of one of her books. After that I hoped my book on police procedure would also have a black page so I could steal Hallie's cool trick. Well, it did, and I did (steal the idea). So thanks, Hallie.
  • Thank you for shopping with us. We'd like to let you know that Amazon has received your order, and is preparing it for shipment. (Um... this shows you when I placed my order.)
  • I've been known to use "blood" red!
  • I love fountain pens, but they can be pricy (it's a vanity thing). For cheap and readily available, go with your basic gel pen or rollerball, available at the pharmacies and office outlets... avoid a standard ballpoint (ESPECIALLY a fine point!) because it can leave a groove on the page(s) under the one you sign.
  • Your choice of pen says a lot about you. Personally, I prefer a fine point that isn't going to bleed through the pulp paper of my mass market paperbacks.
  • Roller ball definitely, black ink, medium point (which is actually relatively thick). I collect pens and have a couple that are so pretty pretty to use and feel like a reward.
  • Caribbean blue Sharpie - works great for me.
  • I buy Sharpie Extra Fine Point permanent markers by the box.
  • I'm afraid to think what it might mean when I admit I've never given the pen I use any thought! I usually have two or three pens in my purse and just use whichever one I find first. Quite often these are free pens, picked up in hotel rooms, conventions, banks, etc. As an editor I was known for "stealing" pens and pencils. I would pick one up from wherever, use it and carry it off. Eventually I would have so many that I would have to redistribute them. In my house today are three different pen and pencil stashes so I always have one nearby.
  • There are at least two of us who sign with whatever is handy. In my case it's usually someone else's pen since I'm the opposite of you. Instead of finding pens, I'm always leaving a trail of them behind. I purchased three beautiful pens for my launch part and they all disappeared leaving nary a clue behind. Probably some sticky-fingered author!
  • I collect pens and have some lovely ones—a big chunky bright pink rollerball, a couple of pewter cat themed ballpoints, and my fav—a sterling dragon-motiff rollerball pen.
  • I'm very simple—I buy Foray Gel Medium Points in blue by the box. They're perfect for signings—they write cleanly, don't bleed and if one walks off, aren't expensive. I keep a couple in my purse at all times. For my personal use, I prefer and old-fashioned fountain pen. I've had a beautiful Waterman for several decades now, and don't use anything but blue ink. Writing with a good fountain pen is simple superb—like riding in a Rolls Royce.
  • Twenty years ago or so Montblanc came out with an Agatha Christie fountain pen. I collect pens, but the $250 price was out of my range at the time. Sigh, I often drool over the lost opportunity—especially when I see them selling for close to $5k on e-bay. Still out of my price range, but I can dream.

Do you have a thing for pens? I still get sick when I think of the awesome Parker pen I lost not too long ago...

It's all better with friends.


  1. I'm an extra-fine Sharpie girl.

    Huh. I should put that in my bio or something. It sounds almost... meaningful. O.o

  2. It actually describes you pretty well.

  3. Funny you should mention the Agatha Christie fountain pen. Last year I sold Lawrence Block's for him:

  4. ... and I gave him a Monteverde Artista Perma as a gift for his own book signings: