Welcome to Writer Wednesday – actually on Wednesday. It’s been an interesting week thus far – both in the cool way and the Chinese Proverb way. The DFW area is within 1.5 inches of breaking a rain record for the Month of May. I’ve been dealing with the Crazy Weather at work and at home. I didn’t get as much writing done last night as I might’ve liked because an unexpectedly severe storm freaked out Loki, our dog, so much that he needed some serious comforting, and he’s a big ole Mama’s Boy, but I got some words in before that happened, because…determined.
I started a discussion on Facebook based on a blog post asking the question if the big, commercial comic book shows are killing fandom. So far, the discussion is civil but esoteric. I’m kinda hoping to get down into the nuts and bolts to see if anyone has any good constructive ideas on how to keep fan run conventions from becoming obsolete – if it’s not too late for that. But at the moment, it’s still has a tone of “Back in MY day…” and it’s a handful of people. I hope more people jump on the discussion.
This is completely a selfish reason. I need the fan-run conventions. I also need the comic book shows (just not the Mega ones) because this is the way I meet and make fans and readers. It’s where I connect with my colleagues. It’s part of my JOB, and I don’t want it going out of business. So I’m open to ideas on how to continue to grow fandom.
It may be that we have to consider going “back” to a “new” paradigm of a Hybrid Convention – like SoonerCon is kinda doing at the moment. Bringing in the writers, the artists, and a small handful of actors for those who are into the media thing to see there’s more to fandom. A lot more. Maybe it means appealing more to younger readers by encouraging Young Adult readers and writers – maybe starting with a day workshop or something that then leads to a “typical” fan-run convention. Whatever those maybes are (and please, please offer your opinions so I can pass them on to convention runners I know) we need to embrace them.
There can’t be any “Get Off My Lawn” moments in fandom – not if fandom is going to survive. I’ve been guilty of it. I was wrong, very, very wrong. Just because I don’t understand what you’re into doesn’t mean it’s not worth being into. I’ve turned my nose up to Twilight, I admit it, until I realized people were reading, now I suggest Rachel Caine to anyone I meet who’s all about the Twilight. And I want fandom to survive. I didn’t discover fandom until I was an adult. My younger years would’ve been … I hope… less difficult if I’d realized there were more people like me out there. Let’s continue the tradition.
Yeah, it’s Tuesday. We took a holiday yesterday. Saw a movie. Took a day off. And that was Monday. So there was, obviously, no review. What did happen was a discovery following a sudden thunderstorm (which have occurred with great regularity in Texas this month) and comforting the dog on the sofa. I lost my phone IN the sofa.
This issue led to the discovery of a completely enclosed upholstery system with this sofa. The only way to recover the phone was to cut slits into the lining of the bottom of the sofa. While we were getting rescuing the phone, we went spelunking for whatever else was in the couch. The result? A gigantic pile of pens and pencils I haven’t even missed.
A Facebook friend suggested I do reviews of the couch pens. And that is an idea I’m going to be put into a partial practice (because I have a ton of pens that may or may not have been reviewed). I’m going to do a version of a “Flashback” kind of thing. Starting with this pile – pick a pen or pencil – see if there’s a review on the site already, of not, do one. If it’s a really, really old review, maybe do a re-review once, maybe twice, a month.
And now…. there’s a plan I can follow during the busy summer months! Yay, plans!
So, Wednesday apparently blew past me 90 to Nothing , and Thursday? Well, I remembered Wednesday blew past on Thursday – and look, it’s Friday. I will get my blog back on track. I will get everything back on track. To that end…
I will be out and about in June with ApolloCon and SoonerCon in the back half of the month. I will have the New Orleans anthology available at both shows. I didn’t realize my name was going to be in big print on the back cover. No pressure… 8-). Please come see me at those shows. I’m not doing Dallas Comic Con any longer. I’m glad fans are excited by it, but the bigger the celebrities they bring in just means there’s less money for fans to spend on the artists in Artist Alley (or they have to charge more money for the tables – or both). I can’t justify the show any more (it’s an old song). But I’m happy to support smaller shows like North Texas Comic Book Show, which I attend along with Richard Hatch.
I found out last weekend that my book with Yard Dog Press will have a Mitch Bentley cover. I had to drop everything for a moment and do a happy dance. Since my book is set on a space station, and Mitch is known for his space art, I’m thrilled to have his work gracing my work – because he and his work are AWESOME. Can’t wait for all of us to see it, especially since Mitch is the Artist Guest of Honor for FenCon!
Finally, part of the reason (at least for this week) is that my Day Job has shifted around my responsibilities at work – during a very busy season. That’s thrown me for a bit of a loop. It’s an awesome new direction with lots to learn and figure out – which is part of the issue. I’m wrapping my head around these new skills and things (all shoved into the existing hours). But it’s starting to really come together – so hopefully so will everything else. Because I do love it when a plan comes together.
Last week I had one of those experiences that all pen blog writers dream of, a pen shop emailed me to ask me if they sent me a pen, would I review it honestly and provide a few links. Um, gee, let me think about that for a second…yes. Therefore, I’d like to formally thank Ron Manwaring from Pen Chalet for this week’s pen, which I would have had to wait a long, long time to review.
Pen Chalet was awesome to work with. They gave me a price range and let me pick my own pen – so they wouldn’t send something I’d already reviewed. It was a rather, in my opinion, generous price range. I have to admit I took a bit of advantage of it, because Pen Chalet has NICE pens. That’s why I chose the Conklin Duragraph fountain pen in Forest Green with a fine point nib. I’ve basically drooled over Conklin’s products by following them on Facebook. Didn’t think I’d be able to buy one for … quite a while. And they got it to me fast with a future purchase coupon. My budget and I need to talk…
The Duragraph is about 5.5″ inches long capped and just over 6.75″ with the cap posted, which makes it longer (with the cap posted) than any pen I’ve used in a while, but I’m getting used to it. It would be nice if the acrylic barrel was a bit heftier for a slightly better balance, but I keep coming back to this pen – and not just because I needed to go ahead and do this review.
This pen is one of the smoothest fountain pens I’ve used in a long, long time. Ink flows smoothly. I don’t have the issue of the nib not pulling ink so that the ink fades in intensity as you write. It is a bit darker when you first start writing with it, but the ink continues to flow. There’s no skipping or globbing of the ink. It doesn’t feel overly scratchy. It came with a converter and two short international cartridges. Conklin’s website says it also takes the Monteverde P1 and P4 refills, which I didn’t research before I popped in the Pelikan Edelstein long cartridge in Garnet.
The acrylic barrel is a gorgeous crackled, iridescent forest green with a black top and post. The cap has the Conklin logo and established date on the top in white. The clip and accents are highly polished chrome. The grip is black threading with the green into the barrel tapered for a nod to ergonomics. The nib has a gold oval with the Conklin name on it.
I’m not gentle with my pens. I’d probably make most collectors weep, and this one keeps up with me. I’ve seen no leaks. No drips. It’s a well-crafted pen from a high-end company (which is going to be the kicker). Conklin isn’t cheap by a long shot. The Duragraph is the more affordable model, and has been around for a while. It’s built to last. I love it. I’m looking forward to writing with it for a good, long time.
So, thank you, Pen Chalet. This has been an awesome experience. I hope we can work together again. They seem to be an awesome online retailer.
To the numbers:
1. How does it work? – 1 It’s one of the smoothest fountain pens I’ve ever used. I’ve not seen a single skip, glop, or leak. I wouldn’t shake the pen, because it’s a fountain pen, it’ll spray, but it works really well.
2. Grip and feel – 0.5 – It’s a bit long with the cap posted. The balance could be a little bit better, but the cap posts securely. The grip is acrylic but comfortable. There are little to no ridging to dig in.
3. Material – 1 It’s a very gorgeous deep green acrylic pattern with bright, solid chrome accents and one of the best nibs I’ve used in a long time.
4. Overall Design – 1 – This is a gorgeous, well-functioning pen with stunning accents and superb functionality. Now that I’m used to the length, it’s comfortable and gorgeous and I like it.
5. Price Point – 1 – This is from Conklin through YAFA. That means fine writing, luxury pens…which equates to EXPENSIVE. However, the Conklin Duragraph is one of the less expensive in the line. These pens run $50-$60 – and with a good ink, like the Pelikan Edlestein, it’s completely worth it. Especially if you’re looking for a gift for a Graduation or other major life event).
4.5 out of 5 Bronze Pencils
So Wednesday happened yesterday and I totally forgot about doing a blog post. Oops.
I’m turning my thought processes around. This past month has thrown me out of my writing routine. I’ve not finished things like I ought – yes, part of this is “coulda/shoulda/woulda/oughta”. And now, it’s time to remedy that. Even though Real Life has been … overwhelming for the past month, it’s no excuse. I’ve been trying, but that’s not enough. Procrastination is something to be fought (though my pantry is now sorted back out – and the wardrobe needs thinning). Because that’s not what makes anyone successful.
But on the good side? My Day Job has transitioned me to a bunch of fun new responsibilities – which are completely overwhelming at the moment, but starting to settle out. And the responsibilities? Totally in my wheelhouse. Totally worthwhile. I just have to figure out the time management parts of it, so the rest of my life isn’t overwhelmed as well – because it does spill over.
I apologize to the other Redheads who are waiting on me to finish stuff (for the first time ever, I think). But I’m hoping this next draft is better than the first one. There’s an anthology I pretty much said I’d submit to, but the story isn’t anywhere near done. I need to remedy that. Then there are other projects that need doing as well.
But this week has been SO AWESOME. Even with the overwhelmedness and the busy-ness. I need more of this in my life. It’s good. I just need to channel it through the next six weeks of insanity that’s coming. We have ONE unscheduled weekend in the next six weeks. ONE. But what’s coming is going to ROCK. Let’s have an adventure.
Today’s blog post… I revisit Paper Mate’s InkJoy. This is the Stylus stick triangular pen in purple ink. I picked this one up at Office Max. I keep coming back every so often to InkJoy because I really WANT to feel the Joy. I really do. I know people who love these pens. Alas…I am not one of them.
The ink is really good. I do give Paper Mate that. The purple ink in this one is dark and rich. The ball point is smooth. The stylus on the end of the pen works pretty well on both my iPhone and iPad. The triangular barrel is remarkably comfortable. The barrel is about 6″ long with the cap posted, and about 6.5″ with the cap posted. Those are the good points.
The challenges I find with these pens is that they default to 1.0mm points. Even though packaging says Paper Mate does make 0.7mm InkJoy pens, they’re nearly impossible to find – unless you special order from who knows where – I haven’t found them yet (they may only be available out of the country – which is bad…). I haven’t quite done that yet. I find 1.0mm more apt to smear – as is seen in the writing sample. I know I write bigger with the bolder points – which means not getting as much out of a piece of paper than I should.
Logistically, it seems like if you’re going to have a stylus on a pen, the pen needs to be retractable in some way. As a writer, I default to posting the cap. I don’t like having it loose on a desk. If you post the cap on this pen, it completely covers the stylus. If you’re going back and forth between touch screen and paper – you have to leave the cap loose, and if the cap gets away? You’re screwed.
Though if none of these things bother you? They’re really decent pens. I think it was $1.99 – which isn’t bad for disposable stylus pen, and they come in a wide variety of colors.
To the numbers:
1. How does it work? – 0.5 The ink is decent, but at 1.0mm, there’s some smearing of the ink. You can’t have the cap posted and use the stylus
2. Grip and feel – 0.5 – It’s a triangular, no frills disposable plastic pen. The grip is translucent, but there are not ergonomics. The three sided barrel is pretty comfortable. It’s long enough to be comfortable with or without the cap.
3. Material – 0.5 It’s an inexpensive plastic pen with a rubber stylus.
4. Overall Design – 0.5 – I don’t like the fact that you can’t post the cap unless you intend to lose the stylus capabilities. I’m not thrilled that the other ball point sizes aren’t actually available.
5. Price Point – 1 – These seem to run about $2. Which considering it has a functional stylus makes it a decent deal – even though it’s a basic classic pen. It’s a decent price point if you can deal with the other parts.
3.0 out of 5 Bronze Pencils
It’s Wednesday, and I’m writing a blog. Heck, I’m writing. That’s something. It’s a step back in the right direction. I lost some time between the dog and the virus that blew through our household. Normalcy is slowly returning.
I’m trying really hard to get the Redheads rewrite done. This one has been a struggle for me and I don’t know why. I know the girls are waiting on me, which is why I’m plugging along on it. But I also need to get into my notebook and find out where I’m behind on other things and just get my act back in gear. I have no excuses. I have some reasons, but no real excuses. And now it’s time to shut up and get the work done.
I’ve been watching social media. I’m glad to see – for the most part – the Hugo kerfuffle has started to die. The constant bickering and posturing seems to have subsided. There are a few people I still want to slap silly because they find ways to continue to bring it up. They need to stop, because what I’m seeing isn’t “raising awareness” for anything. It’s not even discussion (thoughtful, intelligent, or otherwise). It’s being childish and pissy by continuing to poke bears that don’t need poking anymore. So, for the love of God, just STOP Let’s get on to the next issue.
Okay, so it’s a short post. I need to go harness the hamsters running loose in my head. I need to get my butt in gear – put words on paper/pixels. Because that’s the important thing.
It’s time to get back to normal. We had illness in the house on top of everything else. But we’re better now. So, now it’s pen blog time. This week, I’m reviewing a multi-pack of fashion pens from Office Depot.
These fun roller ball pens come in a variety of patterns – from polka dots to plaid, checks, herringbone, etc. The pen patterns help identify the ink color. These come in a variety of colors – blue, black, green, pink, and purple. The caps to post relatively securely to the body of pen. The diameter of the stick is comfortable with a nod to ergonomics with the rubberized grip. The pens are nice – they come in 0.7mm points with dark, solid ink. They’re about 5.75″ long capped and nearly 6″ with the cap posted. The ink is a liquid gel, so there is some smearing if you don’t give it a second or two to dry.
The pens come in a clear plastic tube. The pens secure in the tube with the pen clips – which are sturdy enough to make it difficult to get the pens out of the tube. But the pens are cool, and I think they’re relatively inexpensive – these were a gift from my folks, but I’ve seen them in the bins near the cash register. So, if you’re looking for cute and fun, these are pretty decent pens.
To the numbers:
1. How does it work? – 1 They’re decent. The ink doesn’t skip much with good color and a decent point.
2. Grip and feel – 1 – These are inexpensive plastic with a nod to ergonomics with a rubber grip.
3. Material – 0.5 It’s an inexpensive plastic pen in a plastic tube.
4. Overall Design – 0.5 – It’s a standard stick pen, but it’s not always clear what color the ink is from the pen body or cap. Some are clear, some are more of a guess. The clips are stiff, which is a mixed blessing – you won’t lose them, but they’re also more difficulty to get out of the tube.
5. Price Point – 1 – These were a gift, but I don’t think they’re that expensive. They’re part of the promotional or gift bins.
4.0 out of 5 Bronze Pencils
There’s not going to be a pen review today. I’ll try to get one in tomorrow or Wednesday, but not today. Today we said goodbye to one of our dogs. Diamond has gone over the Rainbow Bridge. We didn’t want to do it, but it was the responsible thing to do. Last week she was diagnosed with liver failure and was not eating much or well and losing energy.
Diamond and I had our “differences” – in fact, she really didn’t like me for the first couple of years. Jimmy was her “Pack”, I was the Big Bad Wolf. It didn’t help that she was severely Alpha and not overly fond of other females. I was a female that would not go away. But after a while, we reached a detente. Apparently she had a “4 year cycle” for accepting new people into her Pack.
I thought she was just mellowing in her advanced aging, but when we brought Loki into the fold, she tried to basically ignore him until four years in. Then, suddenly, last Spring, Diamond started playing with Loki. It was a huge step forward.
I always swore that in the nine months before she adopted Jimmy, Diamond was raised by a Cat. She would only let us pet her for a short amount of time before she was “done” with us. She only wanted Me when there was weather, she didn’t feel good (until the end), or when Jimmy wasn’t around. Mostly when Jimmy wasn’t around was I ‘okay’. She would growl and show teeth when she didn’t want me near her – so when I could pet her this week without being growled at? It was a sign.
I’m going to miss the old coot dog. There were the occasional spats between Loki and Diamond (usually when food was involved). My mom and dad have a dog because Diamond refused to admit that Buddy existed after we found him wandering the neighborhood. And toward the end, she ran away (literally) from all other dogs – including three adorable boxer puppies – she did her “nope” and started home. But she was our old coot dog.
I know it’s not overly linear, coherent, but this is the end of an era. Diamond was Jimmy’s dog from before we were married. Though we say Loki is “my” dog, we got him together. Any other critter that comes into our home will be “ours” not his or hers. And I would give almost anything to have that era not end just yet. But…Diamond’s birthday “observered” was May 5th. She didn’t quite make it to 14 by our estimation, but that’s still a good dog lifespan. And we did give her one heck of a last weekend at the Lake with hamburgers and chicken nuggets and even a little bit of ice cream (whatever she would eat). We will miss her a lot.
It’s Wednesday. I know it’s late, but there have been other things on my mind this week. If you follow me on Facebook, you know what’s going on because you’re being inundated with photos and videos of our Elder Dog. I’m distracted and not going to apologize for it.
At least it’s not the Hugos.
I had one of those shows this past weekend. The North Texas Comic Book Show this weekend was lightly attended. Sales…were…light. It’s one of the only times I didn’t at least make the table cost. Nor was I alone. I hope some of the ideas we bandied around get back to the organizer. There are ways to make this show (theoretically) better and more relevant while keeping it cost effective. I know this could’ve been affected by TABLE 2 (a gaming expo) and any number of other events in the area, but that has to be a factor – as well as the high dollar shows that are coming up in few weeks that many might be saving money for.
Don’t get me started on the high dollar shows. There’s going to be a breaking point coming. Fans and Creators are not ATMs for these commercial organizations who think charging a premium for…just about everything – tables, admission, VIP status, assembly line photo shoots, and (though I understand why actors charge for autographs) I’m sure the shows have provided some “guidance” on what to charge (because I’ve known SEVERAL who’ve ‘waived the fee’ for a wide variety of reasons and/or use the convention funds for charity) … is a viable, long-term business model. When I did have a table at the commercial shows – because I need the outlets – there was a minor gut punch whenever I offered to sign a book someone bought and their immediate reaction was either “is it extra?” or “how much is it?”. NOTHING! I stole a motto: “You bought the book, the least I can do is sign it”. Something will break eventually – and I don’t think that time is that far away.
I have no solutions. Heck, if I did – that would mean I could probably make a fortune, which I haven’t. But much like publishing, this is an evolving industry. No one knows how it’s all going to fall out. Hopefully with writers and artists being able to make a living wage of their creations.