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[Writer Post] Topsy Turvey Day

Posted by reudaly on March 25, 2015 in Writing |

It’s Wednesday and I’m feeling a bit under the weather. I was going to just let this lapse (again) today because of the bleck….but, stuff’s come up today and needs to be addressed. It seems like rather too much lately, we’re focusing on the crap stuff in SF.

Writer Beware brought massive rights grab from Omni Reboot to light late last week, early this week. They tried to brush it off as a “work for hire” contract not a regular one, but haven’t been forthcoming on their “regular” contract. I would still avoid submitting here.

Today, news is hitting about an app developed by parents that can scrub profanity and certain other words out of ebooks – any ebook. The hue and cry is justified. Writer CHOOSE how they write – I choose to write “clean”. That was a decision I CONSCIOUSLY MADE years ago. I chose it. Just as other writers choose to write in other ways. ALL WAYS ARE CORRECT. NO ONE WAY is BETTER OR WORSE. If you don’t want to read profanity or violence or anatomical nookie…find other books. It’s not for anyone – or ESPECIALLY an app – to tell the reader what those words are supposed to be. So don’t try to defend this app to me. Deep down, I think I get what the designers were thinking when they developed this app – however, they went about it in all the wrong ways. This will end badly. Because now people are arguing about whether or not it’s a big deal – it’s a big deal. It’s not just leaving blue cheese off a salad or onions off a hamburger. It’s deciding an author’s voice isn’t “good enough” and taking it upon themselves to change an author’s voice, and that’s not okay.

But in the diatribes and the issues… there is GOOD and PRETTY. Apparently the gentlemen of The Flash are doing a Kickstarter for a musical movie. Joss Whedon donated. This is how they say thank you… It’s not about Marvel vs. DC or SF vs. Fantasy. It’s just generosity being met with gorgeous harmonies. It makes me happy.

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[Pen/Pencil Review] Pilot Acroball Pure White 0.7mm Black Ink

Posted by reudaly on March 23, 2015 in Review, writing instruments |

We return to Pilot this week with another fun staple pen – which I could’ve sworn I’d gotten around to writing about, but extensive searching through archives say no… so here we go. Pilot has a line of pens called Acroball. They have a few lines – this is the Pure White (which technically isn’t).
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The Acroball Pure White pens are retractable fine point ball point pens with black ink. These are “fashion pens” so there’s blue, green, and purple – and other colors. I got a three pack at Office Depot on clearance so I could try them out. I was drawn to them for the “fine point” (0.7mm) aspect. The barrel is 5.5″ long with a metal tip. The fashion color is the textured, rubber grip with a brief nod to ergonomics.
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The Acroball line is a “hybrid ink” which is a combination of gel and ball point in what is now identified as “low viscosity”. It dries quickly but is also dark and rich even with a finer line. It’s a smooth ball point with little skipping and smearing. It’s a pen I’ve gone back to quite a bit while I was testing a handful out.
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These are decent pens that run pretty inexpensive – they come in multipacks or even by the dozen. They’re available in most box stores and other retailers. More colors and styles are available through online retailers like Amazon.

To the numbers:
1. How does it work?1 It’s good. I’m really starting to like these low-viscosity ink pens.
2. Grip and feel0.5 – It’s a relatively inexpensive, plastic pen. It has some ergonomics, but it could get tiring.
3. Material1 It’s a basic plastic, retractable pen. It is what it is, but it works like it should.
4. Overall Design1 – I like this design. The white is different. The ink is great. The pen writes smoothly and evenly. It’s really pretty looking too.
5. Price Point0.5 – It’s mid-line price point for retractable pens – but you can find them on sale. They run $1.50 – $2.50 depending on how many you buy at any one point – and if you find them on sale. That’s not bad and theoretically refillable. It’s not bad, and okay for the low-viscosity.

4 out of 5 Bronze Pencils
Pencil 4.0

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[Writing Post] Galley HO!

Posted by reudaly on March 18, 2015 in Writing |

It’s Wednesday and I should get back on track with blog posts.

There’s been a lot of “should” in my brain this past week. Things I “Should” be doing, and with reason. I’ve had to take a few days to deal with “book brain” – that time where you flush the book you just finished out of your mind before starting the next project.

Unfortunately, when I looked at the next project on deck, I let myself get a bit overwhelmed – it’s a rewrite and there are a lot of notes. So looking at it, trying to figure out where to start on it just made my brain run and hide and find any reason to procrastinate on starting the project -including other writing-related work. Such as going over the galleys for an anthology I’m going to be in soon called Dirty Magick: New Orleans.

This is a small press anthology put out by Charlie Brown of Lucky Mojo Press. It’s an alternate universe series of anthologies where the world is the same except there’s now magic – and the problems that going along with mystical power being let loose upon the world. The anthologies each focus on a specific city – this one was New Orleans. I’ll admit I’ve never been there (and now I really want to go). Brown put some points in his guidelines to steer those of us who’ve only seen New Orleans on TV away from some misconceptions. I kinda took that as a challenge. This is what I do… you tell me what the clichés are, or what most people will do with a theme, and I’ll find a way to incorporate those “creatively”.

And thanks to Julia Mandala’s help (she used to live in NOLA) and is a good friend and beta reader/editor. Not only did I sell the story, I’m honored and astonished to have the first story in the anthology. I can’t wait for it to come out, because when I was reading through the story to check for any last minutes typos, I almost forgot to be that specific I was just reading the story. That’s huge for me – and it’s something I also noticed with the novel when I was inputting the last of the edits – there were chunks where there were no notes during the read aloud – which meant I was just reading the story and not being super critical of my own work. HUGE step.

So, I’ll let you know when things start coming out. I’m hoping the anthology will be out before my next show. The novel still has some other factors beyond my control. I hope you find these next stories entertaining, too.

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[Pen/Pencil Review] Light Up Shamrock Ballpoint Pen

Posted by reudaly on March 17, 2015 in Review, writing instruments |

Happy St. Patrick’s Day… and now for a day-late novelty pen review, the light up shamrock blue ballpoint pen.
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So I like the fact that this pen is also a “fine” point ball point – not more than 1.0mm. It’s about 7.5” long, which makes it long enough to be comfortable, and almost too long. It’s fairly comfortable, but top heavy with the large, squishy shamrock topper with LED lights inside.
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The light mechanism is a big finicky – sometimes it’s hard to get it to go off, and yet other times, you simply set it down and it starts flashing. The green plastic barrel has a curved grip to give a wider diameter at the grip, making it somewhat ergonomic. The matching cap is SNUG when on (of course it doesn’t post). The ink is decent and doesn’t skip. It writes well.
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I picked this up as an impulse buy at a Hallmark store when I was picking up a birthday card for my Grandmother. It was $2.99 – which isn’t horrible for a novelty like this, and I think I’ll be able to keep track of it until next year. It’s a fun addition to the novelty collection.

To the numbers:
1. How does it work?1 It’s decent. It doesn’t smear. It doesn’t have much drying time. For the actual pen part…yes. It’s good
2. Grip and feel0.5 – It’s an inexpensive, plastic pen. It tries to have some ergonomics. The barrel is smooth. But it’s top heavy with the shamrock.
3. Material0.5 It’s a novelty pen. It’s plastic with flashy lights that will wow some and annoy others. It is what it is.
4. Overall Design1 -I’m giving it a high mark because it’s a fun little, not overly expensive novelty pen. It’s designed to be silly and St. Patrick’s Day oriented. It does that. It’s also functional. So bonus.
5. Price Point1 – It’s mid-line for what I’ll pay for novelty pens. It’s cheaper than some but more expensive than others. I do want to say it was $2.99. So for grins and giggles… okay. And it didn’t hurt to give away knowing I wasn’t going to use it. And now it has a good home.

4 out of 5 Bronze Pencils
Pencil 4.0

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Pen blog tomorrow

Posted by reudaly on March 16, 2015 in Life |

Sorry y’all “grown up” stuff got in the way today. Taxes and Galley proofs for an anthology I’ll be in. Whee!

I’ll have a pen review for you tomorrow.

One appropriate to the day.

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[Bonus Post] Jasper Coal – Album Review

Posted by reudaly on March 15, 2015 in Review, Spotlight |

This was originally posted on Celtic Music Magazine.
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I have to admit, when I went to high school in Homewood, Alabama, I had NO idea there was a Celtic presence in the Birmingham, AL area. Maybe there wasn’t in 19…mumblety mumble, or maybe I was a clueless and sheltered teenager (nah, couldn’t be that). But apparently Birmingham does, indeed, have a thriving Celtic music community including Jasper Coal. Jasper Coal has been around since 2004 (long after I left the area) and has settled into a six-piece band.
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Jasper Coal’s Just the One has ten tracks of traditional Irish music with a bit of rock to it. They claim Dropkick Murphys as an influence, so that’s to be expected. Six of the tracks are two- and three-song medleys. The first track, “Tell Me Ma” is a medley with polkas book-ending the title song. I don’t think I’ve ever heard an Irish Polka, but it works musically (it would kill me to try to dance to, though). The last medley track is something I’ve come to take as a “standard” for more rockin’ Irish music, it’s called “Copperhead” and it’s a combo of “Copperhead Road” and “Thunderhead”, which gives the Steve Earl classic a bit more zip.
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But it’s not all dance worthy music. “Sniper’s Promise” is a haunting ballad. “Oro Se” is a classic tune in Irish, which is not something I expect to come out of Birmingham. This is a lovely and very skilled album. If you’re a dancer, you’ll find the toes tapping. If you just like listening, you still have your toes tapping. The harmonies are tight and the musicianship is top notch. This is just good, quality music with lively tempos and traditional instruments. I’ve enjoyed just letting it flow over me before settling down and listening to it for this review.
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There is or will be a physical CD for sale. It has a limited edition art sleeve with art by John Pleasant. Check the website for more information, or down load the album from CD Baby.

Artist: http://www.jaspercoal.com/
Twitter
Facebook
You Tube Channel
Buy Album: On CD Baby

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[Spotlight Post] Sir Terry Pratchett – Leaving Early to Avoid the Rush

Posted by reudaly on March 12, 2015 in Spotlight |

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I’m tired of memorial posts. I really am. The losses are piling up even in the midst of seasons turning to Spring and new life. Two weeks ago we bid farewell to Leonard Nimoy with Harve Bennett following close on his heels. Very early this week, the DFW area lost Terry Dorsey, a long-time radio personality with whom my father worked when we first moved here. Now…now we’ve lost Terry Pratchett. We knew it was coming, just not when.

Me with Terry Pratchett - AggieCon 2000.

Me with Terry Pratchett – AggieCon 2000.


We hear a lot about Cancer and the “F… Cancer” campaigns, but what’s also needed are “F… Alzheimer’s”. This is an insidious disease that robs its victims of their minds, their memories, and their personalities. That Sir Pratchett suffered from early-onset made it that much more vile. He is gone much too soon. There will be no more Discworld, no more Omens, just no more stories. Sir Pratchett was a master of humor and storytelling. He was an inspiration to all of us.
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I met him once in 2000 at AggieCon working with my friend, Nicole and our friend, Lori, came along for the ride. I did my ONE AND ONLY foray into costuming by inexpertly sewing together an interpretation of a Rincewind costume that I was afraid to do more than walk around one evening. I chickened out of the costume contest (there were MUCH, MUCH better costumes).
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I did get Sir Pratchett to sign a couple of books at the time. And fortunately, that was a time when I was actually doing some scrapbooking – so the pictures were findable. I remember him being charming and personable. I wish I’d had the opportunity to have gotten to know him better than that one meeting, but at least there was that.
Also met Myhr (aka Jamie Murray).

Also met Myhr (aka Jamie Murray).


That AggieCon was the stepping off point for a lot of my career – it’s where I met (I think) Jamie Murray as Myhr, got sucked into convention running, eventually got my butt kicked to write ORIGINAL fiction and not fan fiction (though I had quite a bit of fan fiction out at that point through Nicole’s Fanzines). The rest is history – a history that Terry Pratchett will always be a part of. And though he may have forgotten much of what made him special through this awful, awful disease – we won’t forget. He will live in our memories and through his stories.
I'm still friends with Nicole and Lori...can't remember the other lady.

I’m still friends with Nicole and Lori…can’t remember the other lady.


In a way, Sir Pratchett will never die – because his ripples will never fade – and for that, I will be eternally grateful.
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[Writer Post] Back to Normal & Author Solutions

Posted by reudaly on March 11, 2015 in Writing |

Hello, Wednesday… I need to do a blog post. And clean my house. And get some other things done that I’ve set aside for sake of the book. But the book is done and back with Yard Dog for copyedits and cover art. I’ll let you all know when I know more. Before that, hopefully, I’ll have a new short story out. I sold a story entitled, “Knowledge is Power” to Charlie Brown for his anthology, Dirty Magick: New Orleans. I think it should be out this Spring.

Author Solutions is in the news again – the class action law suit is gearing up again. This company has its fingers in everything self-publishing in the “old, bad” ways. They over-promise and under-deliver “services” to unsuspecting authors. But what made them truly heinous was how they’ve managed to worm their way into legitimate, “traditional” publishing houses (Harlequin and Penguin) as a “way to get noticed” by these Big House Publishers without actually, you know, doing that. Author Solutions is, in my opinion, even worse than Publish America, because of this “partnering” with companies like Penguin – and Nook, and other companies without divulging their identity except in teeny tiny print. This makes Author Solutions seem a lot more legitimate than they are. Those imprints? Never saw the light of day inside those Big Houses, and yet unsuspecting or naïve writers probably showered thousands to millions of dollars with this company to do…nothing. I wish the lawsuit luck.

Just…if it sounds too good to be true, it is. If the company asks YOU for money, run. And never, ever let anyone convince you there’s a short cut. Because there’s not one. You have to put in the time and the effort. Which reminds me, I need to get back to work.

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[Pen/Pencil Review] Pilot Birdy Switch Pen/Pencil Combo

Posted by reudaly on March 9, 2015 in Review, writing instruments |

Today’s blog is a new thing for me. The phrase, “Good things come in small packages” definitely applies to this mini pen and pencil combo from Pilot. This is the Pilot Birdy Switch Pen and Pencil combo. This is a super thin, mini that you almost need to see to believe.
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This combo pen is double-ended. The black ballpoint end fits into the metal barrel – and is refillable. The refill is tiny but has to be in order to accommodate the .05mm leads for the pencil end. The ball point is a 0.7mm (I was wrong in the writing sample), but feels finer. The cap fits both the pen end and the pencil end to protect your hand when switching. The pen end also serves as the clicker for the lead. The compact size does not leave room for an eraser, though.
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This pen/pencil combo is only 4.7″ long and about 5.5mm in diameter. That’s a delicate pen, but the metal body makes it feel solid. This combo has a long, open metal clip that holds the pen firmly, but it’s the one thing that gets in the way. There’s no way to avoid the clip in the grip, but for a small pen for a tablet or notebook it’s an amazing piece of pen/pencil engineering.

The Pilot Acroball is a standard retractable ball point - for comparison

The Pilot Acroball is a standard retractable ball point – for comparison


It’s a mid-range price point. JetPens sells this combo for $8.25 – but the pen refills are less than $2 which makes it an inexpensive long-term investment pen and pencil that doesn’t take up any space at all.
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The Numbers.

1. How does it work?1 – This is a solid mechanical pencil and ball point pen combo instrument. The ink is dark. The pencil is solid. The lines are good.
2. Look and feel0.5 – The pen is hot – it’s metal and solid for a delicate instrument. There is no eraser and only one cap for one end, make sure you have it on the pen end.
3. Material1 – It’s metal. It’s solid. The pen reservoir is small but easily refillable. The pencil is well-made.
4. Overall Design0.5 – It’s a beautiful and solid pen and pencil combo. Even without an eraser. But the long clip can’t be avoided – so there’s some discomfort even with the narrow barrel.
5. Price Point1This combo piece runs $8.25 from JetPens. It’s not a bad price for a good double-ended pen and pencil. Being refillable makes it a long-term investment and even more economical. It’s a good thing.

4.0 out of 5 bronze pencils.
Pencil 4.0

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[Writing Post] In Which I Totally Forgot Yesterday was Wednesday….

Posted by reudaly on March 5, 2015 in Writing |

Yeah, that’s right. I totally forgot yesterday was Wednesday. I totally forgot to do a post.

I’ve been reading my novel out loud for the last edit round. I’m doing my darnedest to get this done by next week and back to Yard Dog.

However… I did get a Guest Post done for Cat Rambo. You can read that here…

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