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[Pen/Pencil Review] The Jinhao Ebony Jewel Fountain Pen in Red

Posted by reudaly on October 20, 2014 in Review, writing instruments |

So, I forgot the pen I intended to do for today’s blog. Discovered another required bottled ink – which is at home… but have no fear. I have a pen to review! I only acquired a few things this year at the Dallas Pen Show because of budgetary restrictions. This is one of them. I picked up a Jinhao Ebony Jewel in a red barrel.
This is a decent fountain pen from China created on the Lamy Safari style. It’s just under 5.5″ long capped and 6.5″ with the cap posted. The barrel is plastic with viewing windows to show ink levels. The grip is smooth plastic but with triangular cuts that make it ergonomic. The grip design does help to hold the pen “correctly” and comfortably. The cap does post firmly, and though it’s light plastic, it’s got a good feel.
The nib is considered a “light medium” or a “heavy fine” – which makes it a nice line. The flow (once I got it going) is strong. The nib is marked as 18k GP (I’m going to assume white gold – and it’ll be a vermeil type plating – meaning just microns of gold… thank you Day Job for that). I put a Monteverde short international cartridge in it – it’s an older ink, so it did take some doing to get the ink flowing. But the pen came with a converter, so that’ll help in the future with getting it to write immediately – because ink will already be in the nib.
This is also an affordable pen. I picked this up for $10 at Dallas Pen Show. I’ve found them on HisNibs for the same price. It’s good price for a well built fountain pen for an adult/teen starter. It’ll feel big for a smaller hand and might be a bit on the long side.
The numbers:

1. How does it work?1 – It works like it’s supposed to. The nib is smooth and solid. The barrel is light but well-balanced with a good feel. The nib feels strong, like it won’t bend if you’re heavy-handed writer.
2. Grip and feel1 – They make an effort for ergonomics. Though there’s not an “grippy” parts, it’s all smooth plastic, the grip is designed to fit comfortably in the hand.
3. Material1 – It is what it is, a replica Lamy in plastic. It’s light but comfortable. The nib is marked 18k GP. The clip is metal with the company name stamped in Chinese. Doesn’t feel like it’s going to break.
4. Overall Design0.5 – I like it. It might be a little long for some people. It’s also more designed for the converter than cartridges – and works better for the long cartridge than the short. But the ink works.
5. Price Point0.5 – It’s $10. That’s not super cheap but it’s not Bad. The issue isn’t just the price – you have to know where to get them. Either at a Pen Show or online. Some pen stores probably have them, but you’d have to look hard. And for a replica of a higher end pen, it’s probably not a bad price, but you have to make the investment.

That’s 4 of 5 bronze pencils.
Pencil 4.0

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[Spotlight Post] Timothy Zahn & Comic Cons

Posted by reudaly on October 17, 2014 in Conventions, Spotlight, Writing |

It’s Friday. That’s Spotlight Blog Post day. It’s also Dallas Comic Con/FanExpo Fan Days – though I don’t have a table in what’s left of Artist Alley, I will be working tonight’s Kick-Off Shin Dig (off site party). You can come see me there. Devin Pike is doing an amazing job with expanding the offerings Dallas Comic Con provides for the fans besides the Comic Con itself. Next week, I will have a table at Tyler Rose City Comic Con featuring Timothy Zahn.

Timothy Zahn signing books for JA Campbell

Timothy Zahn signing books for JA Campbell

If you’ve not met Timothy Zahn, make the effort. Zahn was FenCon’s Toastmaster a few weeks ago, and I had the privilege of working with him in my Guest Relations capacity. I’m looking forward to having the opportunity to just hang out and sell some books with him.

Timothy Zahn is a master media tie-in writer in a number of universes. He’s best known for his work in the Star Wars universe. A person I met this week said he remembered reading Zahn as a kid and having most of this quote stick with him: “Do you know the difference between an error and a mistake, Ensign? Anyone can make an error, Ensign. But that error doesn’t become a mistake until you refuse to correct it.” That’s powerful – to have a piece of writing hang with you for years.

Zahn’s also a lovely individual. I enjoyed getting to know him and his wife during FenCon a little bit. I never have as much time I would like to get to know any of my GOHs during FenCon, and Zahn is one I look forward to seeing again. Yes, I know, this now means I’m going to be situated in the farthest point of the room from him in Tyler. But it’ll still be worth it to come check out the books. He’s also charming and funny, so check out his Q&As and other panels when you get the chance. Zahn’s definitely a gentleman you should encounter.

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[Writer Post] More-er and Better-er

Posted by reudaly on October 15, 2014 in Life, Writing |

Oh, wow, hello Wednesday. I’m glad to see you. Now to come up with something to write about. It’s been an interesting week – with the potential to swing to really good or really bad. I’m in a waiting pattern. The outcome depends on other people and their schedules, so nothing I can do but wait. Wait and edit.

That’s my week. I’m doing a feedback edit on REDHEADS stuff right now. Since I started one part during FenCon week, I’ve gone back and started reading again, making more notes and such along the way. I just need to finish. I also need to get my head back into word generation… to be more like Neil Gaiman’s answer to “Are you a writer?” He said, “Mostly I’m a should be writing more-er.”

I should be writing more-er. I should ALWAYS be writing “more-er”. And “Better-er”.

And really, that’s all I really want to do. So…come on Nikes, let’s do it.

Also, to show that I don’t live in a bubble –
A friend of mine’s wife is one of the three female game developers with GamerGate related death threats from 4Chan. That guy needs to be stopped. I don’t identify with many groups because of the wingnut brush…but I’ll pull out a feminist card on this and say I stand with these women. We have equal talents and skills to produce/develop/and reap rewards for our work – whether it’s at home with kids or in the arts/sciences/Corporate Hijinks. If that offends anyone, bring it on. This Redhead can get Apocalpytic when she needs too. Everyone should feel safe in their homes and chosen industries.

Ebola is in my area but nowhere near me. I am in contact with no one who might’ve been in contact with the first patient. I’m not worried, except for one tiny factor – it that revolves around the first paragraph.

We weathered two rounds of storms with only minor leaf/limb damage – but now have a winter’s supply of firewood (for Texas) from our neighbors with more tree damage. We’re buying a camp stove once they’re restocked, because we don’t have one, and I should be able to make soup and coffee no matter what the power situation. Yes, I’m late to the preparedness game, but that’s changing (and yes, our can openers are manual).

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[Pen/PencilReview] Zebra 301A Metal Barrel Fine Point Ballpoint Pen

Posted by reudaly on October 13, 2014 in Review, writing instruments |

I’ll start working on the Dallas Pen Show acquisitions soon. This one’s been hanging out in the bag for a while, so I thought I’d get it taken care of. This is the Zebra 301-A Ball Point pen in a red metal barrel with a 0.7mm fine point in black ink. I don’t remember where I picked these up, but they were on clearance sale.
I lean more and more towards Zebra when it comes to the less expensive, “everyday” pen. As a general rule, they’re well constructed, affordable, and still make “fine points”. The 301A is no exception. The 301A is a retractable ball point pen. It runs just under 5.25″ long with the point retracted and extended. The 0.7mm point is, indeed “fine” and sharp… I just stabbed myself in the thumb with it – and it HURT. So don’t do THAT at home.
The barrel is metal and coated in a red metallic lacquer for a rich, shining color. The clip is steel with chrome plunger and tip. There is a rubber grip for a nod at comfort. It’s light but fairly well balanced for a decent writing experience. I haven’t used it A LOT just yet – I’m doing a lot of editing, so the red pens are getting work outs, but I can see this being a “go to” pen. The ink is pretty dark for a fine point. It sets quickly for little smearing. I haven’t encountered glops yet. All things I look for in a ball point.
If you’re looking for a good, keep it on the desk, don’t mind too much if it walks away pen. This is a good one. It’s also refillable with the F-Refill, which makes it more affordable over the long haul.
The numbers:

1. How does it work?1 – It works like it’s supposed to. The retraction mechanism is solid. The ink flows well. The barrel is sturdy. The fine point is actually fine point with a good ink.
2. Grip and feel0.5 – They make an effort for ergonomics. There’s a rubberized grip. It might be a touch on the narrow and short side, but it’s pretty good overall.
3. Material1 – It’s actually really good for the price. The metal barrel and clip make this pen solid and long-lasting.
4. Overall Design0.5 – I like it. It could be longer in the barrel and a touch wider in diameter, but that’s a niggle. It seems to be a solid, well-built pen.
5. Price Point1 – Full price for a two-pack, which is was, was $5.99. That’s $3 a piece, considering they’re metal barrels and refillable, not a bad price point. I got this on a $3 clearance which makes them AWESOME. If you can find them on sale, yay. But even at full price, they’re affordable and refillable. Not a bad investment.

That’s 4 of 5 bronze pencils.
Pencil 4.0

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[Spotlight Post] Ookla the Mok – Rand Bellavia & Adam English

Posted by reudaly on October 10, 2014 in Conventions, Spotlight |

For the last several years, I’ve been the Guest of Honor Liaison for FenCon. I’ve worked with some amazing writers, editors, artists, and scientists to make sure they have everything they need to do a good job once they’re on sight. There’s always been one group that I’ve been less familiar with than the others – and that’s our Music Guests (and maybe the scientists…). I don’t follow filk or nerd rock, not like some in our fan group, so I’m always on the learning curve with them. This year, I had the honor of getting to know Rand Bellavia and Adam English – collectively known as Ookla the Mok.

A Redhead with Rand and Adam of Ookla the Mok

A Redhead with Rand and Adam of Ookla the Mok

These were the guests I kept running into. You know how that happens at conventions/event… there’s someone you want to see, but never do; and the folks you meet around every corner. Fortunately, these are Good People guys. If you haven’t had a chance to get to know them, please do.

I admit, I didn’t get a chance to listen to their music until after FenCon. Rand basically gave me their library, and now I’m hooked. I have a Nerd Rock playlist in iTunes. Right now it only has John Anealio and Ookla the Mok on it, but I’m still working on it. And though I’ve met some awesome musicians though FenCon – these are the albums I have. Therefore, playlist with some amazing, nerdgastic music. Nerdvana is my favorite EP. “Welcome to the Con” should be REQUIRED at every convention. “Math” is the best numerical anthem EVER, and “Tantric Yoda” is the best, yet most disturbing thing I’ve heard since some classic Dr. Demento. SMELL NO EVIL is all Monkey Music based. I’m still working through the other albums.

There’s a lot of awesome surrounding Ookla the Mok. I’m proud to have Rand and Adam as part of my fan community “Tribe” – and yes, amazingly enough, Rand and I had a whole conversation about Tribe and Community BEFORE coffee as I was seeing them off at some obscenely early hour Monday morning after FenCon. So go check out YouTube and CDBaby. Buy some music (also available on iTunes and Amazon). I think you’ll enjoy it – and I hope I get to see them again.

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[Writer Post] Back on the Horse

Posted by reudaly on October 8, 2014 in Life, Writing |

It’s Wednesday. That means blog day. I’m trying to get my rhythm back. But we’ve had an eventful couple of weeks, and recovery from FenCon always takes a wee bit longer than other conventions. But I have work to do, darn it. And Day Job has gone through some upheaval – which means more scurrying and less breathing – and as we all know… breathing is a Good Thing.

So it’s Back to the Grindstone time. I have portions of the new Redheads to read and comment on. There are still short stories to write and projects to work on until book edits show up. Then I will drop off the face of the Earth to do edits.

We’re still in the process of buying the house, so there’s that. But it seems we’re getting closer and closer to a done deal. We are getting prepared for Winter as well (not that Texas has much in the way of real Winter). Last week’s storm has provided us some “reclaimed” firewood for those cold and dreary evenings. I’m determined (once they’re restocked) to buy a camp stove (why didn’t I think of that after the last ice storm?) so if we lose power for any length of time I can heat soup and water for coffee. Preparedness, it’s what’s for breakfast, and I’m kinda ashamed that I didn’t think of it sooner.

And, hello, it’s Fall. That means allergies are full bore. Whee! Snot what I wanted to do with my week. So if you see something that looks kinda incoherent – that’s me trying to be productive while on Benadryl. Or maybe it’s my Migrating Geese impersonation… honk, honk…

So, let’s get back to the races, shall we? It’s time to be productive again.

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[Pen/Pencil Review] Spotlight Ryan Krusac & Brandon Lee

Posted by reudaly on October 6, 2014 in Review, Spotlight, writing instruments |

So this pen blog is going to be a wee bit different. It’s going to be more of a spotlight because it’s pen related and I’m gearing back up for the real reviews. 8-) During FenCon I did my annual whirlwind pilgrimage to the Dallas Pen Show. Where I can usually do the “I’m just looking right now and will be back” to most vendors (you’ll see the ones who got my money as we progress). There was one double table that had me stopping and reaching for my wallet.

Brandon Lee in the white Chef Coat. Ryan Krusac and pens.

Brandon Lee in the white Chef Coat. Ryan Krusac and pens.

Ryan Krusac is an astounding artist who’s not only creating his own artesian pens (which I can’t afford yet – even though they’re not outrageously priced), but was also chosen by other companies (no I don’t have the PenWorld in front of me and I can’t remember which company he’s designed for…it starts with an L…maybe Andreas Lambrou). But I loved his own custom work – from ballpoint to fountain pen, Ryan Krusac works in a variety of mediums with an artistic flair to all of them. Yes, I want the Kraken design in dropped antler. If I had $850, I’d totally pick up one of his stunning Labradorite barrel pens.

But what was unique about this table at the Dallas Pen Show was Krusac’s partner. Modern Chocolatier, Chef Brandon Lee. Yes. A CHOCOLATE table. A GOURMET chocolatier. AT. THE. PEN. SHOW. Shut up and take my money. Lee does exotic blends that don’t seem like they should – but they do. Flavors like Curry Coconut and Stout Dark Chocolate (made with Guiness). I bought a $10 4-piece show box – and shared with very good friends because it’s just that rich. I should’ve tried French Roast and Raspberry Basil – but RICH.

Another view of the wares.

Another view of the wares.

They did pairings at the show – $110 got a (lower price point) pen and chocolate. I REALLY, REALLY, REALLY wanted to blow my entire budget (and then some) on these guys. They were fun, personable, and dude… PENS AND CHOCOLATE – have coffee brewing there, and I would’ve never, ever left. All my vices in one place… /sigh.

If you get a chance to see these guys at a Pen Show – save your pennies, spend with them. Artisans need our support in the worst ways – or order from their websites in Georgia.
The numbers:
Let’s get real – there are no numbers… I can give them bronze pencils for being awesome and having kick-butt chocolate. They’ll get knocked one pencil for being in Georgia and out of my immediate price range. 8-)

That’s 4 of 5 bronze pencils.

Pencil 4.0

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[Spotlight Post] Remembering Eugie Foster and Lonnie Mitchell

Posted by reudaly on October 3, 2014 in Life, Spotlight |

What ended up being a fantastic FenCon ended with… not as much greatness. During tear down and the Dead Dog, I started catching up news feeds, then as Rand Bellavia of Ookla theMok put it… “I see sadness.” The sadness has continued into this week. I’m really tired of doing Memorial Spotlight posts.

I’d started seeing that someone had died over the weekend. Someone involved in the SF/F and Convention Communities had died… it wasn’t until later I found out it was Eugie Foster. I only met Eugie once in person, but we’d been acquainted online through first LiveJournal and then through the transition to Facebook. I want to say it was 2005 when I made the trek through the Habit Trails of Dragon*Con to the offices of the Dragon*Con Daily to finally meet her in person. It was a brief encounter – and then again in the Dealer’s Room, but she’d always made an impression.

I was thrilled to see her success. We wrote in the same genre but in very different styles. She was also upbeat and encouraging – even when her “wingstumps” bothered her. And when she was diagnosed with cancer, we all hurt for her. This decline was a shock. Where Jay Lake’s battle was a marathon, this seemed more a sprint. I’ve never bonded with a FenCon GOH through tears, but I was happy to hug Carrie Vaughn and toast Eugie’s Spirit Sunday night.

Then on Wednesday I saw the news of another Sweet Spirit who’s gone too soon. Lonnie Mitchell had a motorcycle accident on 183 on Tuesday and didn’t recover from his injuries. Lonnie was a long-time customer, Friend of Faire, and simply FRIEND from Scarborough. We looked forward to seeing him and his wife, Natalie, every year we were out there. They collected Allen Williams’ Cute Dragons. They bought stuff from Ruth Thompson. They hung out with us in the booth and carried the “animatronic” Dragon puppets on their shoulder. Lonnie was part of the Scottish Guard and marched in parades. Faire will not be the same without him – he was one of those people we all looked forward to seeing every day.

These are two people I will miss seeing in person and in grandeur. These are holes in my sphere of community and tribe that are and will be palpable for a long time to come. I know there are those who know both Eugie and Lonnie better and more closely than I did – and I grieve for the pain and loss they’re dealing with – but please take comfort in knowing those of us in the “Outer Orbits” grieve with you and are mentally hugging you now until we can hug you in person later.

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[Writer Post] Book News and FenCon

Posted by reudaly on October 1, 2014 in Books, Conventions, Writing |

Hello, Blog, I told you I’d be back. Did you miss me? FenCon was a whirlwind, exhausting BLAST. I had really great guests of honor to work with – which is good because I was breaking in a staff (and didn’t break THEM). Now to train one of them over the next year to take over my job so I can take a bit of a step back from RUNNING Guest Relations… WHY?

Steve Jackson and Geri Sullivan with ROCK 'EM SOCK 'EM ROBOT puppets.

Steve Jackson and Geri Sullivan with ROCK ‘EM SOCK ‘EM ROBOT puppets.

WHY? Because I HAVE A BOOK COMING OUT IN 2015!. Yard Dog Press is putting out my Space Opera with Thriller Elements (currently titled Tarbox Station sometime in 2015. The edits are still in process. I was told Friday at FenCon, while Selina was setting up the Yard Dog table that the edits were half-done, and likely what they’ll be. I’m not surprised, this is a book I wrote a while back and haven’t looked at in a while. I’m a bit embarrassed by them, but hopefully I’ll see this as a growth experience. CAN’T WAIT! But, since I never QUITE heard the words, “I’m buying your book.” I took the editing as a “Positive Sign” and was hopeful.
A Redhead with Rand and Adam of Ookla the Mok

A Redhead with Rand and Adam of Ookla the Mok

Hence the shock and surprise a big chunk of my friends got to see (but not my husband – he was at the parties) at the end of the OH, SO hysterical and inappropriate Jerry-Springer-esque Road Show (if you missed it… DUDE, did you miss it) when I introduced myself, Selina added “And she has a novel coming out next year.” And after a wee bit of confirmation with Lynn, I can talk about it… and talk about it… SQUEE joyfully into 2015 with a few tears over working out the edits because “WHY DID I DO THAT????” But I know the book will be SO MUCH BETTER after the edits.
Me with Science GOH J. Storrs Hall

Me with Science GOH J. Storrs Hall

I was also asked if I wanted to write a couple of short stories (no promises on publication, just hey, here’s this anthology… type of things) which sound fun. And lots of hilarity with our new ROTA Variety show – and full houses for both panels (with new faces – YAY!!!!). 2015 is ramping up to be a busy year for me – which hopefully means more topics for this round of blogs.
The Role 2 Play Crew. They are AWESOME and have a great boss.

The Role 2 Play Crew. They are AWESOME and have a great boss.

BUT…but… but BOOK. 2015. Me. Mine. All mine. SQUEE! And thank you FenCon for an awesome time. Loved telling celebrity stories with Mark Finn, Bill Ledbetter, Tiffany Franzoni (she ROCKS!) and Mark Oshida. TOO MUCH FUN, even with sad news at the end. (the pic is not the sad news…)
Timothy Zahn signing books for JA Campbell

Timothy Zahn signing books for JA Campbell

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[Writer Post] FenCon XI Approaches!

Posted by reudaly on September 24, 2014 in Conventions, Life, Writing |

One more major disclaimer – there’s not going to be blog posts on Friday or Monday because of the Crazy Chaos (in a good way) that is FenCon. I will be doing my whirlwind tour of the Dallas Pen Show on Friday morning,

Redheads is coming along. I’m working on making notes on one section right now – because I have serious Squirrel Brain. My focus and concentration is shot this week trying to get everything done. I’m trying multi-tasking just to feel productive, but seriously? Right. No.

Proof in point – I think I was going to say more, but my train of thought has left the station without me. So, chalk it up to convention brain. We’ll see you at FenCon – or after.

So here, have a Schedule of where I’ll be…

Yard Dog Press Road Show
Friday 10:00 PM Pin Oak

FenCon Squares
Saturday 10:00 AM Trinity I – IV

Saturday 11:30 AM Gallery

The Four Redheads of the Apocalypse
Saturday 3:00 PM Live Oak

OMG You Worked With… !
Sunday 2:00 PM Addison Lecture Hall

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