Today is supposed to be a writing post, but honestly – that’s not really going to happen. It’s been an… eventful…week, and it’s actually ramping up. I continued my word count progress – it may be small but it’s growing – around the North Texas Comic Book Show (managed to do a bit of editing there). I met a few people and sold a few books. It was good.
My dad was taken to the hospital on Monday evening. We still don’t know what’s wrong with him. He’s finally having some diagnostic work done (hopefully as I type) that will tell us what may be happening. But that’s a distraction no one could foresee. Forgive me if that takes a certain amount of precedence. And with it all, we had structural work done on the house this week, and my husband is fighting off something. And ArmadilloCon is coming.
So, I know it all comes off as excuses and such. But it is what it is. In all things, family comes first.
I did have a very heart-warming moment at NTCBS. There was an adorable little girl (who’s apparently a staple there) in a green tutu Riddler costume carrying a Batman Doll with a green tutu. I gave her a notebook and pen (also green…because Riddler, hello). And she zipped around getting quotes and stuff. It was the most adorable thing EVAR.
The next day I got emails from her mom and (apparently) aunt thanking me so much for that little act. And how much the child loved it. Almost made me cry. Will they be customers down the road? Maybe. Maybe not – the aunt did buy a coloring book to read to her new grandchild – but that kind of thing is better than a sale.
I bring it up – not because “aww, look at me”, but because I saw a post on Facebook a week or so ago about how swag was pointless. The only promotional thing an author needs to do is write the next book. And yes, that’s really, super important…but…swag (or promotional items) some opportunities can be lost. Especially at tables like the comic shows where someone might like YOU but is short of funds. A promotional item given freely is an impression on the potential customer. Something they can look at later – if they still have it, granted – and remember, “Hey, that person was cool, let me go ahead and check out that website now.”
It’s all important.
I’m in a place where I need to find out what I’ve reviewed in the past and what I might still have left. My current “new” stuff has been done, for the most part. I do have one more Nock Co. pen holder to introduce you to, and that’s The Hightower.
The Hightower is more functional. There’s a three-pen side with a flap for protection and a single pocket on the other side that can either fit a notebook or more pens if you don’t mind some rattling around. I currently have six lower end pens and pencils on the single pocket side. It’s has a “heavy, DWR coated nylon exterior and durable pack cloth liner”. It comes in three colors – gray and teal, navy and silver, red and orange. I picked the navy and silver.
This pen case feels good. The slots are wide to accept big barreled pens. The fabric feels like it’d described. I don’t get the impression I’m going to rip this thing if it goes rattling around in a purse, computer bag, or book signing box. Which is a good thing, because that’s EXACTLY what I’m using this pen case for – my everyday work bag pens. This holder is 8″ wide by 6.75″ tall and it folds in the middle to make it a bi-fold. This is the pen holder I throw into my work bag. It’s tough. It’s durable, and it’s easy to deal with.
The Nock Co. store is now up and running with free shipping over $50. Oh, and if you’re a bigger pen geek than me, one of the founders of Nock Co. is Brian Dowdy of The Pen Addict. He knows his pen stuff.
1. How does it work? – 1 – It works really well. It holds three thick barrel pens (which it’s advertised for) on the flap side (you can probably get six). And at least six on the single pocket side or a 3×5″ (ish) notebook.
2. Grip and feel – 1 – Okay, so there’s no grip, but it does feel durable and solid while being flexible. The pens work out well in them.
3. Material – 1 – The material for the outside reminds me of canvas or heavy denim. I’m not sure what DWR coating is – but it feels water-resistant to me (and as someone who spills, that’s cool). The pack cloth liner is soft enough I don’t feel like it’ll scratch while being tear-resistant.
4. Overall Design – 1 – It’s well-designed for what it is. They don’t overhype the case. It’s a good, versatile pen case.
5. Price Point – 0.5 – None of these are going to be cheap. But they’re made here in the USA (in Georgia) by guys who know their stuff. This one retails for $20 on the Nock Co. Which isn’t horrible but it is an investment.
That’s 4.5 of 5 bronze pencils.
This is a repost of the review I wrote a couple of weeks ago at Celtic Music Magazine. If you like this review, check out the website for more.
When I wrote a review of Celtica Pipes Rock Oceans of Fire, they asked if I might do one of their new album, Legends and Visions which was only being sold at shows when I wrote the last review, now it’s available for sale in other venues.
To recap. The band is back together, Celtica: Pipes Rock is once more a six-piece band. Their piper, Jane Espie is back. That’s one of the things that makes this band great, not only is it real rock and roll, it’s real Scottish pipes with a female piper, to boot to complement Duncan Knight’s awesome work. I’m sorry I missed seeing them perform live at the North Texas Irish Festival, but I will see them in concert one day. Just not when they’re in Tulsa in a couple of months, darn it.
Legends and Visions has a similar format to their other albums. It’s set up as a “show” or story. There’s an intro before going into their tracks. One of the main things I like about this album is that it has a fun sci-fi/fantasy theme to it along with rock and roll and Celtic standards done in their signature style. What’s different is the naming conventions. In the past they’ve told you what songs they’re mashing up in their medleys. Now you get to guess – except for “Love U2!”, that one’s pretty self-explanatory – and an excellent medley of songs skillfully woven together.
Their versions of “Albas Shore” and “Whiskey in The Jar” probably aren’t what you’re used to, but I rock out to them – as with all the tracks. The vocals are minimal – mostly instrumental. I keep this band on my Writing AND Road Trip playlists for those times I need LOUD but good because this band has more skill than I could ever imagine. It’s also good fun – especially if you’re having a bad day and want to hide. You can’t listen to this album and sit or stand still. “Rolling with the Goblins” has a SWING DANCE beat to half the song, how does anyone stay still for that?
They did put a track on this project that I’ve been waiting for. When I was introduced to Celtica, I looked them up on YouTube and fell in love with their video for their cover of “Don’t Stop Believin’” – which they encourage the audience to sing. They did a compilation video from their tour of the song. I believe it was their encore song, and now it’s the encore of Legends and Visions and for a live track, it’s fantastic.
EDIT: Gajus Stappen commented on the original post that all the songs – including Alba Shore is written and/or arranged by Celtica: Pipes Rock. This is a truly unique sound.
A writer’s life is sometimes very surreal… okay, well, at least mine is. I probably shouldn’t speak to other writers’ lives, but yeah, mine can be very surreal. It’s a very weird mix of “Mundane” with spurts of “Holy Cow”. I’m kinda going through one of those spurts at the moment and part of it is convention season when we get away from the laundry and have people treat us like we’re special (and sometimes “Special”).
But sometimes… it’s just weird.
Like when you write a bizarre little story that has an editor saying, “you better send that to me”. Yeah, that doesn’t normally happen (but when it does, it’s usually when you’re throwing up your hands saying, “I’m never going to sell anything ever again!”). I’m not saying I was there, but I haven’t been as prolific on the short stories lately, so this is gratifying.
I’ve been approached by SciFi4Me.Com to be part of their radio show in August for Book Month. Their show is live on BlogTalkRadio Monday-Thursday from 10:30-11 pm CST – and yes, that’s late for me. I hope to be coherent on August 5th. They do archive, and I’ll mention it again before time, but dude, I’m going on the radio(ish).
Then the really weird but cool thing…last week, I got a private message through Facebook. A musician I used to hang with at a coffee house was looking for lyrical inspiration for his band. I flippantly threw out some of my more bizarre story topic. He jumped at them. So there might be some very bizarre music coming out of the DFW area in the not too distant future. It’s hugely flattering, but so far beyond what I would consider the norm that…hey, surreal.
So yeah, that’s my highly non-standard week as a writer. These are very, very few and far between unless you’re much, much bigger than me. But it’s still cool when it happens. Now… on to the North Texas Comic Book Show on Saturday and ArmadilloCon next weekend.
This is pretty much a “rerun” post because I left anything I might need to review at home. Hello, Monday, good to see you. However, there’s a “new” twist to this rerun. I had a nice little social media/blog shout out from the good folk at Palamino Blackwing because I’m rapidly becoming “That Pen/Pencil Geek”. Jimmy and I are enjoying Murder in the First on TNT. In the episode “Who’s Your Daddy”, there’s a scene with James Cromwell and Tom Felton. Cromwell is fidgeting with a Palamino Blackwing. It’s a distinctive wooden pencil. I mentioned it on Twitter and Facebook, it got back to Blackwing. They blogged about it, giving me credit making me a happy, happy pen blogger. So, to that end, here’s my previous review of Palamino Blackwing pencils.
I was not alone in receiving a pretty black box for Christmas – though mine did not contain jewelry, but a dozen Palomino Blackwing pencils. I’ve held off reviewing them because 1) there was a glut of reviews on them right after Christmas; and 2) I have a habit of randomly plucking thing out of my “to be reviewed” cup. So, today… the Palomino Blackwing wooden pencil.
I tell people I go in cycles with my writing instruments. There are days/weeks all I want to write with are fountain pens, others pencils – and anything in between. And even with the pencils I go in cycles between wooden and mechanical. I have some weird “productive” feeling about working through an entire wooden pencil. The drawbacks I have with wooden pencils is that I like (really, really like) sharp points on my pencils, so I sharpen a lot. I also really like dark, soft leads. I’m a 2B kind of girl. Herein lies my dilemma – soft, dark leads require more sharpening. Another issue I can have with wooden pencils are using up erasers long before the pencil, requiring the need for extra erasers.
The Palomino Blackwing somewhat addresses all of these problems. They are a dark, soft lead like I like. There’s nothing on the black lacquer body to tell you what the lead actually is, but it feels like a good B to me. Which means it’s NOT A #2 PENCIL for standardized tests/scantron sheets, but really, why would you? These are too pretty for that. The black body and the gold trim just makes it a pretty, pretty thing to look at. It’s also a sturdy pencil of solid wood, not that plastic pseudo-wood that bends and doesn’t sharpen well.
The Blackwing also caters to those of us who like to erase. Instead of the standard eraser on the end of the pencil, the Blackwing was a flattened, rectangular eraser that resembles a paintbrush in shape. The white eraser rubs the graphite out cleanly without crumbling. Over time it remains flexible instead of going hard like cheaper erasers. It’s also held into the end of the pencil with a spring clip so it can be adjusted to length – and makes it an oversized eraser so you don’t run out of eraser before you run out of pencil. And if you’re using a LOT of eraser, JetPens sells replacement erasers in black, white, and pink, so you can choose your look.
Now to the numbers.
1. How does it work? – 1 – I really like these pencils. They’re a good, solid wood. When I fidget with them, I have no worries that I’m going to snap them in half or bend them out of shape, like with really cheap pencils. It is a soft lead, so if you like a hard, sharp point, you might be a little disappointed, but I like a solid, dark line, so this is my happy place pencil.
2. Grip and feel – 1 – It’s a standard, hexagonal pencil. But like with the above comment, it’s a good sturdy pencil that feels good in the hand.
3. Material – 1 – One of the best built pencils I’ve had in a while. Solid wood, nice accents. The eraser mechanism is well-built and solidly attached.
4. Overall Design – 1 – I don’t know what else to say about this pencil’s design. It just rocks – for me.
5. Price Point – 0 – It’s an expensive wooden pencil. A box of 12 will run about $20. They may be worth it if you really like wooden pencils and/or replaceable erasers, but this is not going to be your “back to school” pencil. You are paying for the fact it’s a darned good wooden pencil – and if you go for the pretty gift box? You’re paying more. That’s the only real drawback to this pencil. If you’re used to getting a dozen for a $1…this will be sticker shock.
I give it 4 of 5 bronze pencils.
Just had the “OH CRAP IT’S WEDNESDAY” brain jolt. Did I know this all day, yep. I knew I had a blog post to write – but I had Day Job pop up with stuff and FenCon Stuff… and well, things cluttered up. But here we are. It’s Wednesday.
Saturday, January 19th. I’ll have a table at the North Texas Comic Shows. They’re bringing in Mike Grell and Jeff Shultz – and other awesome artists. It’s one 8 hour (ish) day with an $8 admission. So come by the DoubleTree Market Center in Dallas and say hi. Maybe buy a book. These are smaller shows that let you take your time and have space to talk to people. Come check us out.
July 25th-27th – AramadilloCon in Austin. This is an awesome fan-run literary convention. This year they’re back at the Omni Southpark Hotel on the South side of Austin. If you haven’t gotten your room yet, do it quick (or if I KNOW you, ping me…) Love this convention and am looking forward to being on panels there – especially Fannish Feud.
Here is my schedule:
ArmadilloCon 36 Schedule for Rhonda Eudaly
Stupid Movies We Love
Fri 5:00 PM-6:00 PM Room D
Rountree*, Eudaly, Hailey, Person, Whittaker
Hollywood makes many stupid genre moves, but sometimes they are so bad, we love them.
Fri 6:00 PM-7:00 PM Dealers’ Room
Acevedo, Eudaly, Weisman
I Need to Floss My Brain
Sat 10:00 AM-11:00 AM Conference Center
Eudaly*, Antonelli, Trimm, Weisman
Weird fiction isn’t for everyone, but if you like it, here are some great stories.
Sat 4:00 PM-5:00 PM Conference Center
Finn*, Babcock, Eudaly, Chiang, Close, Law, McDonald, Orth, Walsh, Weisman, Wilson
Sat 10:00 PM-11:00 PM Southpark A
Sub-genres of Fantasy
Sun Noon-1:00 PM Room E
Kimbriel*, Benjamin, Eudaly, Marmell, Swendson, Thompson
They are literally hundreds of sub-genres in fantasy. Here are some of the lesser known and why they are so good.
And now it’s time to kick my brain into gear and get writing and work done before ArmadilloCon – and not waste any of the creative juices from SoonerCon and let ArmadilloCon build on it. I’m doing okay, but there are deadlines out there circling like impatient sharks. Though I could really use a closer one to really make me time manage better – but I also need to simply make use of the time I have in a more efficient manner. So I think I’ll go do that.
This weekend was an adventure for Jimmy and me… A house full of people, the Fourth of July, adventures with air conditioning. But we did manage to do one of those “We really should go to…” things on our list. We went to the Fort Worth Museum of Science and History to see the Indiana Jones and the Adventure of Archeology Exhibit. It was so much fun that I had to hit the gift shop. And, obviously, I bought a pen… and if you know me at all, you know I probably bought more than one.
This one is part of the “official” exhibit merchandise. It’s a decent “Parker Style” ball point pen. It’s a classic bullet design with a black lacquer barrel with chrome hardware and accents with the logo printed on the barrel. The retractation mechanism was difficult at first, now that I’ve messed with it for a while, it’s loosening up. The ink retracts through a barrel twist near the point.
The pen is about 5.25″ long with the ink retracted and 5.5″ with the ink extended. It’s a good diameter for comfort and has some weight to the barrel. This pen has decent balance with a springy clip that should be sturdy since it’s metal. The pen came with a generic Parker style ballpoint black ink refill which was probably a 1.0 mm. It’s okay… some skips and stuttering getting going, but functional. But “functional” isn’t necessarily what I want in an Indiana Jones pen, so the moment I finished an initial writing sample, I replaced the ink with one of the Fisher Space Pen fine point refills sent to me a couple of months back. Why? Because an Archeological Adventure pen should write anywhere, right? And now it does.
1. How does it work? – 0.5 – I’m knocking this down because right out of the package we had some stutters. The twist mechanism was so stiff it took a while to figure out how to get to the ink. The ink it came with took “priming” so it wasn’t a smooth, out of package experience. It is now though with my modifications.
2. Grip and feel – 1 – I do like it for a “desk” type pen. It’s long enough to be fairly comfortable. The weight and diameter are good with a decent balance. The ridges between barrel and grip are rounded and inset enough not to get in the way.
3. Material – 1 – It’s a solid metal pen. The logo design is in no danger of wearing off. I think this pen could last a very long time.
4. Overall Design – 0.5 – I like this pen. It’s functional. It’s more functional with the mechanism used some to not be super stiff and a better refill. I’m knocking it for the “learning curve” and the fact it’s a lot of chrome for fingerprints. If you don’t like smudgy pens, this will drive you crazy.
5. Price Point – 0.5 – It’s not cheap, but not stupidly expensive. It was $7.50 – which isn’t bad for a museum gift shop. This is a refillable and reusable pen, so it’s not that bad. But for the price, I would’ve liked a better grade of ink in it. I have that now, but only because I had it.
That’s 3.5 of 5 bronze pencils.
Last post about SoonerCon and then we’ll look forward to the next North Texas Comic Book Show and ArmadilloCon. This convention was just a hoot, I had to break it up before it was its own novel. Since Friday is a Spotlight Day… I’m going to tell you about some people I encountered because that’s what happens at SoonerCon with the Reed Convention Center and the attached Sheraton.
Do to the kindness of roommates (thank you Lys and Shado), last year we were upgraded to the “Club Floor” of the Sheraton. It was such a nice experience we did it again this year. It is an upgrade, but that’s what provides some of the interesting. The club floor has a nice place to sit and talk, when you’re not in the lobby in the comfy couches. In a calm(ish) moment between Opening Ceremonies and Artist Reception, we were there with Lys and Shado and a few other people. Another guy entered the conversation…as you do… happened to be Matt Frank – the Comic Book Special Guest. If you don’t know who Matt Frank is – he’s the lead artist for IDW Publishing’s Godzilla series and is working on Transformers. Which means he’s crazy talented as well as a super fun guy. He’s also from Austin – so Texas conventions – check him out, he’s good. You should bring him in.
And in true Fan Girl Style – I have to spotlight the “What Star Trek Means To Me” panel. I alluded to it in my post about Star Trek Continues. It ended up being just Vic Mignogna, Larry Nemecek, and me. Deborah Chester was unable to attend the panel. And I knew people were there mostly to hear from Vic and Larry – they’re the “named” guests. They’re the “professional” fans of Star Trek. But it was so much fun just telling stories about our lives and backgrounds and how Star Trek influenced it.
If I can ever get video I’ll share it, because Vic Mignogna makes a living with his voice – so he tells a really good and dramatic story, and now that he’s playing Kirk? It comes out even more when we’re talking about Trek. And yes, I know my stories were probably a lot more lame than Larry and Vic’s – but they’re my stories, and I hope they were entertaining on some part. It would’ve been pretty easy to get lost in that shuffle, but they were really good about including me in the discussions – especially since we all seem to come from the same yet different paths to our love of Star Trek . I tried really hard not to be “That Fan Girl”.
If you haven’t seen Star Trek Continues and you love Star Trek – please go watch, and like and follow. Larry and Vic are part of an amazing and professional crew of people who are every bit the fan that the rest of us are – they just figured out a way to make a living with and around it. I’m working on it.
So. Go check out the links and sites – see how you can support and encourage these amazing artists and fans. Buy comic books. Watch the videos. Buy our books and support these creative endeavors. We can’t do anything without you, our audience. And now I’m going to stop before I cross the line to “Creepy”.
Welcome to the second installment of “SoonerCon In Review Week”. This is where I talk to you about in the writer realm… and why you should not only go to this convention, but if you’re a writer/artist/creative professional you should get to know this con com and GO. If you’re a fan, get your behind up to OKC. These Oklahomans know how to do it up right. This is going to be kinda long… feel free to take a bathroom/coffee break in the middle.
I’ll get the one “negative” out of the way up front – and it was totally ME and not THEM. Now that I’ve slept, I feel the need to apologize for anyone I was “OVERLY ENTHUSIASTIC” on (and get your mind out of that gutter). I was just so happy to be among “my kind” after dealing with Soul-Sucking Day Job that if I talked OVER you, or was too chatty or too loud… I sincerely apologize. I’m in that look back that does the insecure second-guessing thing…And to Lotus Comics Press, I do apologize for being a bit nuts when I thought I lost my badge right before the interview…I’d had a wallet stolen earlier this Spring and…flashback panic. And now, on with the show.
The one thing I absolutely LOVE about this convention is that they are always (ALWAYS) trying to improve the convention – for both the panelists and the fans. They struggled with figuring out how to throw an affordable con while providing a good experience… and after a bit of struggle with dates and facilities…they found the Reed Convention Center. It’s weird but cool. They made some layout changes from last year that worked really well – except for the one time it didn’t – but hey it’s a fact of life that when you fix one problem, four more leap up to take its place. It was a traffic flow issue on Saturday night that had a workaround, so no major issue there.
I’m now glad I had Friday “free” to talk to people because I was booked solid on Saturday and Sunday (which I like, I like feeling useful). The panels were nicely designed and well-attended. There were tons of options for fans – and they made good use of them. I know how hard it is to come up with programming that fits everyone and to get people to be on them without having a Gordian Knot, but they did well. There are some conventions that when they start to include “media” guests, it becomes all about Hollywood – and the core writers/artists/etc are shunted. Not so here – and hopefully some of the fresh new faces who may have come for the media folk will return for years to come.
I had fun on my panels on Sorcery, Fairy Tales, and Networking – which were all fantastic and very professionally done. I think we managed to entertain as well as inform… Thanks to Selina, I had people at my reading – because they didn’t leave after HERS. The Road Show could’ve had more people, but it was SO MUCH FUN. If you were watching “Fairest of Them All”, okay, but you missed improve at it’s goofiest. I did kind of embarrass J. Kathleen Cheney in the Sorcery panel by pimping her books while she was in the audience – but they’re GOOD BOOKS, you should read them.
And seriously, if you have a chance to be interviewed by Chad Elijah and the Lotus Comics Press Crew – DO IT. His Joker is creepy fun, but they’re pros. They know how to do a good interview and put the interviewees at ease. They ask good questions and genuinely care about the genre. Please check them out and support them. They rock.
Being on the “What Star Trek Means to Me” panel was amazingly insane. Thanks to the SoonerCon crew, Larry Nemecek, and Vic Mignogna for letting me be part of that. One of our panelists had to bow out – so I was the only “non-professional” Star Trek fan (meaning I’ve not made money off the franchise or created a fan film) on the panel. And I still hope to see photos and videos of it, because I THINK I was coherent and held my own but would like to see for myself. I might actually make that the Spotlight post for Friday.
Part of me is glad (now) I had paneling until 4pm, because it was really, really hard to leave. I haven’t done a fan run convention since February, and as cool as doing the comic book shows is – I do love meeting fans and potential fans wherever I go – there’s a special (and rejuvenating) energy to the conventions like SoonerCon. Writing is a very solitary gig – getting to hang out with like minds (and over-the-top personalities) is awesome. The spectacle of the costumes and fans is inspiring. So, go to SoonerCon next year… join us for LobbyCon: The Gateway Party… that’s the random group of folks sitting in the comfy chairs by the hotel elevator. We’re fun and only bite when asked nicely.