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[Write the Story] Friends on the Town

Posted by reudaly on March 24, 2017 in Writing |

This one was written over two day – interruptions happen – but you can tell sometimes when thoughts are interrupted. I found an incomplete sentence in typing…and left it, because that’s the point of some of these exercises. If I do something more with these, I’ll fix the errors, but for now, you get the raw.


Prompt: Friends on the Town
Words: pizza, booth, college, restore, collection, rip, Buffalo wings, chiffon, butcher, display

Story
“Anyone else weirded out by the fact our booth has a view of the butcher shop across the street?” Jenny asked, picking pepperoni off her pizza.

“Any weirder than all of us wearing chiffon prom dresses while eating Buffalo wings?” Kathy giggled into her soda. “Hopefully all that means is that the food’s fresh.”

The four college friends celebrating a Bad Prom Party. They’d decided to stop at the pizza and wings place just for the irony. Jenny watched the room. Something seemed…off.

“I don’t know. I kind of feel on display…”

Kathy rolled her eyes, channeling her inner teenager. “Puh…leeze, since when do you give a rip about what people think?”

“Since the guy behind the counter started looking at us like a collection of cutlets from the store across the street.”

The collection of fancy-dress women turned to check out the scruffy man absently wiping down the bar and leering their direction. Another chill raced down Jenny’s back as she realized the four were alone in the restaurant with a creepy dude on a full moon night. Suddenly, three scruffy men appeared with cleavers.

“Okay, girls. I refuse to become a horror movie cliché. Let’s restore faith in womenkind. It’s time to go Buffy on these guys.”

Things were about to get messy.

Word Count: 215
Date Written: 2/21 – 2/22/17

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[Writer Post] Snarky Humor and Personal Voice

Posted by reudaly on March 22, 2017 in Writing |

So this is Wednesday. Whew… downhill slide of what’s turned out to be a (so far) busy week. I discovered one way to get a ton of movement on Twitter is to mention Neil deGrasse Tyson, Star Talk, and provide a visual pun – then have Star Talk retweet it. It’s not “celebrity” level, but it’s pretty awesome in my very, very low standards!


I’ve written stuff this past week – not a lot, but some over the weekend, so getting better (I hope). Day Job has been hopping because we’re getting SUPER close to an event I’m planning and stuff is happening and stuff has to be paid and STUFF, so of course people are out of town, changes are happening, and probably people calling me a pain in the butt or other choice words. But it is what it is and it’s getting bigger and badder and more AAARRRGGGHHH! (And not in a fun, Ludo-like Trollhunters way. So I may be turning into this person (like all my awesome data-driven friends).

I have this thing in which I like a type of writing that certain authors do but not others. For instance – and honest confession – I LOVE Lois McMaster Bujold’s Vorkosigan books, but never got into the Chalion series. LOVE Jim Butcher’s Harry Dresden, but not the CODEX books. Personal taste on my part. HOWEVER, it’s not universal, I’ve found – because I can’t get enough of Jim C. Hines (except the Fairy Tale books – but that’s because I have some similar stuff and it influences my voice too much). I will recommend the Libriomancer books all day long (it was a career goal to be mentioned in one – then I found out the series was done). So I hesitated to dive into the Goblin books – partly because I have the Legend of Jig Dragonslayer omnibus and it’s HUGE. But now I’m only a tiny way into Goblin Quest and I totally ready to beat up on anyone who messes with Jig.

The Legend of Jig Dragonslayer

Price: $6.00

4.9 out of 5 stars (12 customer reviews)

27 used & new available from $2.00

What’s the difference between these authors and my tastes? The only thing I can think of is Hines’s personal voice in these pieces. Even though there’s different styles, tropes, feels between urban fantasy and “high” fantasy – Hines doesn’t try to change HIS voice to meet them. There’s a high level of snarky humor to both styles. And yes, I’ve been listening to the Writing Excuses podcast where they talk about Voice (in the story and of the author). I respond well to snarky humor (SHOCK FACE!) when I read and in life (SHOCK FACE SQUARED!). That’s not to say that’s all HE writes or I read, but it’s why I think I can cross “genres” with some authors and not with others.

So there you have it. Some thinky thoughts about “literary” things like Voice. And now I should probably get back to the growing list of things to do.

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[Pen/Pencil Review] Pentel EnerGel Multi-Function Pen

Posted by reudaly on March 20, 2017 in Review, writing instruments |

Today’s pen blog is a multi-function pen. I don’t do these often, but this one caught my eye. It’s the Pentel EnerGel Multi-Function Pen from Tokyo Pen Shop. This is one of the Japanese offerings, not necessarily found in the US, except through online portals like Tokyo Pen Shop.

This Pentel EnerGel multi-function pen surprised me a little. I’m used to multi-function/color pens being bulky and sometimes hard to handle. This one isn’t. For what it is, it’s quite sleek. It’s 5.5″ long with everything retracted, and about 5.75″ with a point extended. The barrel diameter is obviously wider than a “typical” standard single use pen or pencil, but not more so than some of the ergonomic grip pens. It’s not uncomfortably wide and does have have a ridged, rubber grip, but that helps with traction and doesn’t get in the way.

The 0.5mm needle-point pens are a rich red and black gel ink that flows well. The tips retract and extend by twisting the clip cap, and have clear marks just under the cap so you know if you’re getting the red, black or pencil – which is handy . The fine points to the ball points give a dark line and help keep the bulk down on the pen. The 0.5mm pencil is a good lead that doesn’t break easily. The lead advances by clicking the cap, which also houses the refillable eraser.

The eraser is under a forest green cap that molds into the clip, and the cap is tight. It takes some tugging to get the cap off to get to the white rubber eraser. The lead extends and retracts easily. It comes with two rather long leads – which is good because I’m still not altogether sure how to refill the lead. There’s no clear way to either put lead in through the cap or to have the metal lead barrel come out. Except I figured it out by looking at another similar multi-function pen. Pencil lead is refilled by removing the writing tip and inserting lead into the barrel. Weird by effective?

This pens are refillable. Tokyo Pen Shop has the ink refills. The refills are changed through the barrel and snapping the ink into place.

The numbers:

1. How does it work?1 – It works well. The rotary function of the points feels secure. You can leave lead advanced while having the point retracted. The lead and ink flow smoothly. The clip is secure.
2. Grip and feel1 – For a multi-function, it’s actually comfortable. There’s no taper, but the diameter is comfortable. There’s very little ridge between grip and barrel to be uncomfortable. It’s long enough to fit comfortably in the hand. I’m actually surprised by this.
3. Material1 – It is plastic and base metal…however with the nice inserts, and sturdy feel, it’s decent. The transparent plastic of the barrel lets you see ink levels. Some might think it’s expensive for plastic and base metal, but it’s environmentally conscious and three good quality writing instruments in one.
4. Overall Design0.5 – I am going to knock a half point off here just for the pencil refill. It’s not intuitive. I kept looking for the pencil refill to be through the cap, but it’s not. I had to find out how to do it by looking at another review and trying that and figuring it out.
5. Price Point0.5 – It’s not cheap, but it is useful. I used it a ton last week when I needed a pencil, and this is what I had. Tokyo Pen Shop has it on sale right now. It’s normally $7.00 which is okay, but right now it’s $5.25 on Tokyo Pen Shop. And though the price isn’t exorbitant, it’s an investment. However, if you travel or often need the multi-function, this is well worth it. I do find myself going to it when I might need pen/pencil back and forth options.

That’s 4 of 5 bronze pencils.
Pencil 4.0

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[Write the Story] The Year is 2563…

Posted by reudaly on March 17, 2017 in Writing |

This week’s Write the Story story

Prompt: The Year is 2563…
Words: space station, knuckle, interview, horse, twenty-seven, lipstick, transformation, studio, distribution, assert

Story
“In a space station everyone can hear you scream.”

The interview seemed to come to a complete stand still. Did she have lipstick on her teeth? Cara resisted the urge to rub a knuckle across her incisors, but the recorder was still running. She had to do something.

“Did I say something wrong?” she asked to the empty studio. I answered the question.”

The unblinking red light on the reorder stared back at her. She hated these remote interviews where she couldn’t’ see faces. She could be talking to a horse for all she knew. Goodness knows she’d had stranger job interview in her twenty-seven years, but this one was unnerving. Should she assert herself more?

“I mean, you asked what my favorite misquote is. That’s it. And it’s true all around. Space stations are living microcosms with little real privacy and complete interdependence. Equitable distribution of resources is vital for the transformation of lifeless metal and circuits to a habitable environment – life is messy, painful, and something I want to be part of very much. So please, If I’m awarded this position, I will give everything.”

After another uncomfortable pause. “We shall see.”

Word: 194

Written: 2/6/17

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[Writer Post] Gloomy with Patchy, Intermittent Doom

Posted by reudaly on March 15, 2017 in Life, Writing |

Today’s a weird day… it’s actually been an unsettled week. I’ve been questioning a few things and now a bunch of random…stuff…

I’m questioning whether or not I should continue posting the writing exercise stories. I’m afraid they’re not doing anything productive publicly. They’re still a good exercise. I’m going to still do them (I am stubborn that way) but if no one’s really reading them, or they’re getting lost in the blog and social media noise. If that’s the case, then maybe they just need to be in the notebook and left alone. Or maybe I can try selling some of them or something. See? Unsettled.

At the end of 2016 I walked with two co-workers. One left at the beginning of February for greener pastures. The other was let go yesterday for cause. Details are not important, but it leaves a hole. This co-worker was a younger professional who made some really stupid decisions. Decisions (are basically actions) have consequences. But now there’s kind of loss that’s being dealt with – along with certain logistics – and another co-worker complained that we were talking too much about it – when it’s been less than 24 hours and logistics are fresh. Um… even though it’s not like a death, it’s still a loss that needs grieving and emotionally dealing with. Thank you very much. There are going to be some other changes in the next couple of weeks which is also…distracting.

There’s some other stuff, too. Like feeling for friends who are feeling for friends dealing with the loss of a couple of shops at Scarborough Renaissance Festival due to a fire this week. We had people in and out of our house – and met new neighbors – over the weekend. And it’s the year anniversary of a couple of major losses from last year. The Kickstarter anthology I had a short story in the slush pile for isn’t ‘going to fund unless a miracle happens in the next few hours, so the only silver lining there is that I wrote a brand new story that’s going to be hard to sell.

So, basically, my writing this week is for crap and I’m behind on the ONE thing I have to do on staff for FenCon because I’m now dealing with swirling Brain Weasels – which amazingly enough – is a THING. Who knew? BUT… on the cool side. The weekend of the 24th we get all “culturefied” by seeing the 2nd installment of Intergalactic Nemesis THEN Brain Candy Live! And in August, we’re going to see ANIMANIACS LIVE! AND, AND, AND I signed contracts for a short story to be in SKELOS 3. So it’s not all gloom and doom. Just gloom with patchy, intermittent doom.

It’s going to be fine…eventually.

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[Pen/Pencil Review] Pentel EnerGel Euro Rollergel – 0.35mm

Posted by reudaly on March 13, 2017 in Review, writing instruments |

This week’s pen review goes back to Pentel. It’s the EnerGel Euro Roller Gel Pen in 0.35mm black ink. I’ve been gravitating to Pentel a lot – and Jimmy now has a blog for his Pentel P200 mechanical pencil series. We’re turning into a Pentel “family”. I don’t know what the EURO means in the title – I got mine on JetPens.com.

This has ended up as a “go to” pen now that I’ve lost my aversion to needle-point pens. They’ve made them a lot more durably in the last years. I no longer feel like I’m going to bend/break needle-points. The pen has a great line and ink saturation for a 0.35mm. It’s dark like a 0.5mm but I’m able to get into smaller spaces like on my planner or for editing better. And the point is smooth, not scratchy like some conical points at this size can be. At least in black. I haven’t picked up blue or red – which are the only other two colors available in this size.

The EnerGel Euro is part of Pentel’s Recycology line – that means the barrel and mechanism is made of 84% recycled plastic. Yay. The pen runs about 5.4” capped and 5.9″ with the cap posted. The barrel is blue but with black accents for color identification. There’s enough of a grip to be fairly comfortable over long writing time. There are a few “pretty” accents on the cap, and the cap does post securely

This is a good “workhorse” pen. There are a few drawbacks: 1) it’s not refillable. This is a one and done pen. It’s still going to last a while, but you can’t make it last longer. 2) It only comes in 3 primary colors – red, blue, black. Meh. 3) For not being refillable, they’re not the least expensive thing out there.

The numbers:
1. How does it work?1 It’s decent, especially for the tip size. No frills. The ink is dark and the roller smooth. There can be some smearing, but it’s liquid ink. It happens.
2. Grip and feel1 – It’s an inexpensive, plastic, pen. It has a grip that’s pretty comfortable with a nod to ergonomics. The length and balance are good.
3. Material1 It’s recycled plastic, but it has a good mechanism and good ink. If you’re ecology conscious or just want to help keep plastic out of landfills, this is a good thing.
4. Overall Design1 -It’s a good, solid everyday stick pen with a very fine point (my favorite) with comfortable dimensions.
5. Price Point0.5 – It’s not the most economical Pentel Ener-Gel out there. It’s $2.50 – $2.75 for a single pen. No refills. Only three colors, no multipacks, and only available online.

4.5 out of 5 Bronze Pencils

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[Write the Story] Business as UNusual

Posted by reudaly on March 10, 2017 in Writing |

Prompt: Business as UNusual
Words: housewife, moonwalk, dog, basement, conclude, alien, ignore, lightning, embrace, time

Story
Kevin was never sure how he ended up appointed to the UN, but here he was about to conclude his first speech. He couldn’t quite ignore the feeling his time was coming when they all found out he was a fraud.

Thunderous applause met Kevin’s final words. Before he could make his escape to his basement office, he was caught in a fierce embrace by the French representative. He mumbled thanks or some other platitudes and exited the chamber as quickly as possible, absently shaking hands as he went.

Nothing made sense anymore. Kevin slammed the door behind him panting like a dog for having run all the way. He had no idea what he said that made everyone so excited. He didn’t know anything anymore.

“You did very well, Kevin.”

The voice seemed to come from everywhere and nowhere at once. Kevin shrank against the door as his high-backed office chair swung around. Memory hit like lightning. The abduction. The programming, but mostly the nightmarish appearance of the worst clichés. The alien stood barely four feet tall, dressed as a 50’s sitcom housewife complete with heels and pearls. It moonwalked across to him and touched his forehead with a glowing finger.

“Phone. Home.”

Written 1/31/17

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[Writer Post] Plans, Man! Plans!

Posted by reudaly on March 9, 2017 in Writing |

I didn’t do a blog post yesterday (obviously). It wasn’t necessarily political (though I did wear red) I didn’t abstain from work – actually just the opposite. I was away from my desk for more than half my day for meetings. Yay? And then due to things happening from tonight through Saturday, there was major housecleaning to do – though I’m getting to the point in my life that (where cleaning is concerned) “Good Enough” is an acceptable goal. I have too many other things going on that “Grandma Clean” is no longer a realistic goal.

So let me be clear – the “good enough” is mainly a goal for housekeeping. It’s not NECESSARILY my goal for fiction writing. Though there is some of that. No piece of fiction is perfect. Sometimes we have to say, “it’s good enough, time to submit” or we never do. Of course, when it comes to fiction 9 times out of 10 I do strive for “Grandma Clean” – because clean copy in proper format (yes, I’ll talk about that again someday) and submitted professionally (which we’ll also talk about again soon) will get you READ so your talent shines through.

Now it’s time to make FORWARD PROGRESS. I’m moving forward on two outstanding projects (novel and short story) – and by outstanding I mean “not completed” not OUTSTANDING (though we all should STRIVE for that). I’m back in that groove – which is good, because I should have something to talk about at DFWCON which is a conference (which is different from a convention) in May (and another topic – maybe I should write these down on a calendar).

Though I’m working on those, there are other things that are going to take some priority as well. One is unearthing my desk at home (which I don’t use for reasons that aren’t important to this or any other story) so I can make better use of the printer and the like to move forward on ANOTHER project that needs doing.

Because I have PLANS, MAN! PLANS! We’ll see how things go. Stay tuned.

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[Pen/Pencil Review] The Platinum OLEeNU Green Mechanical Pencil – 0.5mm

Posted by reudaly on March 6, 2017 in Review, writing instruments |

Today’s blog is another version of mechanical pencil from Platinum. This is the Platinum OLEeNU Lead Breakage Prevention Mechanical Pencil Green Body.

At first blush, this is a typical mechanical pencil like the transparent one I reviewed before. It has a clear barrel with a frosted rubber grip and accents. Its diameter is a comfortable size for long-term writing and a touch wider than previous versions. The frosted rubber grip gives it a slight squish for added comfort. It’s about 5.6″ long, which makes it just long enough to be comfortable. The conical metal tip retracts into the barrel completely to protect the lead in a pocket or purse. The eraser is the typical white rubber eraser under a green plastic cap. The clip is molded plastic but with a clothespin-like spring clip. The clip is sturdy and seems to be strong enough to last a good long time.

It comes with a good 0.5mm lead. It’s a standard lead point, but where this differs is the in the clutch mechanism. With most mechanical pencils, when the lead gets down to a certain length, the clutch stops working and you end up wasting part of the lead. This version of the OLEeNU claims a “Zero Shin” clutch – with extra mechanisms that lets the pencil use down to the last HALF MILLIMETER – instead of stopping at 10-12mm.

The literature also says the metal tip has a dual structure that protects the lead from breakage. This I can attest. I thought the pencil felt more secure, that it was harder to break the lead. It’s also got a spring to absorb shock – for those like me who tend to put a lot of pressure on a tip. The lead advances through the typical pusher through the eraser, as well as with an automatic advance mechanism. The tip features a sliding metal sleeve for added support to the lead.

This is a “go to” mechanical pencil. I like it a lot. I picked it up from JetPens. It’s not overly expensive, but it’s not dirt cheap either, but if the mechanisms work the way advertised, then this will pay for itself in longevity.

The Numbers.

1. How does it work?1 – This is a solid mechanical pencil. It has two ways to advance lead. It does protect from breakage as much as possible. It seems to let you use much more lead than typical mechanical pencils.
2. Look and feel1 – I like that it’s an emerald green plastic. Makes it pretty as well as functional. But it’s also long enough and wide enough to be comfortable without being blocky.
3. Material1 – It’s plastic. The innovative stuff is in the mechanics where you can’t see.
4. Overall Design0.5 – The only knock? When I was erasing some samples, I ended up advancing the lead quite a bit and had to put that back before I snapped off a significant length of lead. But other than that, it’s awesome.
5. Price Point1This pencil runs $3.30 on JetPens.com. That’s more than some everyday mechanical pencils, but with the mechanics totally makes it worth it.

4.5 out of 5 bronze pencils.
Pencil 4.0

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[Write the Story] A Lunch Date Gone Wrong

Posted by reudaly on March 3, 2017 in Writing |

Prompt: A Lunch Date Gone Wrong

Words: eruption, salad, fire, career, assume, roller skate, draw, promise, full moon, sweet

Story

“Tell us everything that happened.”

I took a second to draw in a deep breath. The whole situation was so stupid, and now the Special Investigations Units of Police and Fire were involved.

“Ma’am? Are you okay? Did he…?”

I blinked and focused on the EMT next to the cop. “No. Nothing like that, promise.” Then the story poured out.

So I’m not proud of it, but I tried online dating. After roller skating around the basics, I agreed to meet him for lunch. I’m not completely stupid. I didn’t assume everything was completely safe, after all this was basically a blind date.

We met at a sweet little sidewalk café near my job, because seriously? I don’t make a career of misjudging people. He was everything his profile said he was. The photo even matched. I didn’t even taste my salad.

That’s why I didn’t see the signs of the eruption. I mean, who knew the full moon would change a guy in the middle of the day?

Now there was a werewolf loose in town, and I was stuck with the check. I will never online date again.

Written 1/28/17

Word Count: 211

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