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[Spotlight Post] Glen A. Larson – In Memoriam

Posted by reudaly on November 21, 2014 in Spotlight |

Not long after I wrote the last Spotlight(ish) post, I found out about a passing. I am a product of 1970’s and 1980s television. Though I read a lot, I learned a lot of my story telling skills and pacing from television – and Action Television at that. Gene Roddenberry taught me a lot through Star Trek, but I learned as much from what I consider – at the time – the Big Three: Stephen Cannell, Glen A. Larson, and Donald Bellisario. We lost Cannell a few years ago. On November 14th, we lost Glen A. Larson.

I never got to meet Larson, but he created and developed some iconic television. Though he was known more for “action” and police procedural shows like The Fall Guy, Magnum, P.I., and Knight Rider (among so many others) – he was also responsible for Battlestar Galactica (all of them – or was at lease part a writer or credited for them) and The Six Million Dollar Man. But he created, produced, or wrote for a lot of the television that molded me – as a viewer and as a writer.

Glen Larson was a power. He was one of the pillars of my professional career – even though we never met. He made careers, formed pop culture, and helped define the word “Prolific”. I can only hope to have a sliver of his talent, imagination, and breadth of work, but it’s a worthy goal to strive for.

So, to Larson’s family, friends, and colleagues – you don’t mourn alone. We share your loss. His legacy lives on through those of us who have been inspired by his breadth of work across genres, across mediums, and across the galaxy. Glen Larson will be sorely missed.

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[Writer Post] Amazon, Uploads, and Industry News

Posted by reudaly on November 19, 2014 in Books, Life, Writing |

Oh, hey! It’s Wednesday. It’s blog post day. I almost forgot, but I didn’t. So, in the last week…

I think I’m going to love my new Day Job (which is a first in a long time) – so many things to learn and do and… but I misunderstood the number of hours. So I need to get off my behind and get the chapbooks up on Amazon. I don’t need to make up a lot of money, but I do need some alternate income streams.

The thing is… I know how to convert to .epub through Scrivener and can double check the formatting in Calibre or other programs to make sure the glitches are left to a minimum. I don’t know how to do that (at least the double checking) for Amazon formats. And though I know there are websites out there, when I’m dealing with figuring out tech – I do better with demonstrations.

I know there are many gurus out there who do this on a nearly daily basis. If someone local to DFW wants to help me out by SHOWING ME (thank you, Missouri heritage) how to make this happen, I can make you cookies or dinner or something… And, yes, this is going to spur me to write more and more frequently. Some will go to traditional publishers, some will go this digital route.

In fact, I need to be working on a short story even now…it’s pitched, it’s promised, it’s at least half done, but in the job transition, I’ve stumbled on it. I need to start the typing of the hard copy so I can get it back in my head and where I was going to go with it in order to GET ON WITH IT.

Industry News:

Amazon and Hachette resolved their differences. I don’t know the terms of the deal or if this is good thing or bad – but it’s over. We’ll see what the fall out is over time. Hopefully the authors who were caught in the middle will be able to go back to work writing now. In an ideal world, the authors won’t be held responsible for the drop in sales from corporate pissing contests, but we don’t live in an ideal world. I wish those authors all the best.

And now it’s time to get back to work.

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[Pen/Pencil Review] Rerun – The Leuchtturm 1917 Notebook

Posted by reudaly on November 17, 2014 in Books, writing instruments |

I apologize for the rerun – but this is a transition week into a new job and had some Real Life stuff raise its inevitable head. So, I’m going to rerun this review because after a year (mostly because I used it for a lot of writing samples), the notebook is nearly full – I need to work a short story into the last few pages – and about to be retired into my archive.
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Normally Monday is reserved for pens and pencils – but occasionally I stray into other forms of office supplies. The week of Thanksgiving I not only had the lovely surprise of the set from Pentel, but discovered I’d won a Leuchtturm 1917 from Steve Duncan at www.RecordingThoughts.com. So this week, a German made notebook I probably never have discovered on my own. The Leuchtturm 1917 is made and designed in Germany and distributed in the US and Canada by Kikkerland Design. As the name implies, the Leuchtturm company has been making stationary since 1917.

The Leuchtturm 1917 has table of contents pages, stickers, and numbers on the pages to keep all your thoughts and projects. There’s a bookmark ribbon and an elastic band to hold the notebook closed. This notebook is 5.75″ x 8.25″. It’s thread bound in a yellow tan synthetic leather. The pages are printed with blue dots so the pages can be used as either lined or graph paper. The paper is 80 grams, acid free, and claims to be no bleed/ink proof.

So…not sure what “no bleed” means. Ink doesn’t go all the way through to the next page, but you can see through the paper, so it would be harder to write on both sides of the page. The paper is nice. It feels rich and isn’t slick feeling. It has some perforated pages and an expandable pocket. I’m looking forward to using it.

The Numbers.

1. How does it work?0.5 – It does have a thread binding and purports to lie flat. And it does…if you open it to the middle. I’m still afraid of breaking the binding. You can see ink through the paper.
2. Look and feel1 – It’s solid. The notebook feels nice. It looks great. It’s all color coordinated between the cover and the elastic and the ribbon. It’s a nice looking/feeling notebook.
3. Material0.5 It’s got GOOD paper but not great paper. The Rhodia notebooks have thicker, higher quality paper. But it’s better than a lot of other notebooks. For a book that purports to have “details make all the difference” – that’s one of them. I’m okay with thread bound bindings, but I’m always afraid of breaking them at the front and back – because I have.
4. Overall Design0.5 – It’s a really good notebook overall. It’s a bit nicer than the Moleskine, but not quite as nice as Rhodia. But the ability to find them make them a bit scarcer.
5. Price Point1 – This is not a cheap notebook. These will run about $20 for this size. That’s in line with Rhodia and Moleskine. For someone looking for this kind of higher end notebook, the price point is in line. I’m glad I won this one, because it’s not something I splurge on.

3.5 out of 5 bronze pencils.

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[Spotlight Post] Questions and Comments

Posted by reudaly on November 14, 2014 in Spotlight |

It’s Spotlight post day – and again, I’ve got nothing…

Granted, I’m adjusting to new schedules and responsibilities. But… I’ve also been struggling to come up with topics/people to feature here.

So, I know I’ll still spotlight people/organizations as things occur – like (sadly) memorials. But, on a week to week basis…I’m not sure what to do here long-term.

Please, give me some ideas of what you might want to see here. I want to keep going with this piece of the blog… so let me know. Tell me what you want me to talk about, and I’ll do my best to accommodate.

This is a time of change, let’s make it a good one.

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[Writer Post] Writing Beyond What You Know

Posted by reudaly on November 11, 2014 in Writing |

Welcome to the Wednesday post… I should be writing a short story. I have a deadline, and time is going to be running a bit short.

I actually pitched a short story for an anthology. The pitch was accepted (the story still has to be finished, turned in, and then the finish product accepted), but this is the first time I’ve actually done a story pitch instead of just writing the story and sending it in.

This is one of those situations where I’m actually going to put my lack of first-hand knowledge to use in the story. The anthology is based around a location – one I’ve never visited and can’t just up and go to for a variety of reasons – but what I can do (besides online research and picking the brains of friends who have been to the location) is make my character a first-time visitor to the place in question. The mistakes I might make are ones she would make as a tourist. It’s not something I would necessarily recommend – and not a piece of advice you’d see in normal writing books – but it does give me the opportunity to try to put together a story for an anthology I wouldn’t have otherwise thought of.

Yes, it’s okay to write beyond what you know (after all where does most of science fiction and fantasy come from but the imagination) even if it’s based in “reality” (or something close to reality). It’s a great way to learn new things and stretch your skills. This is good thing – a difficult thing, since those who do know your location/time frame/etc. will call you out on your mistakes. Don’t let that deter you, though. Do your research. Fact check if you can. Run your story by someone who knows – or at least knows better than you – to keep from making the big, glaring mistakes. But foremost – be ready to take a chance. It’s more fun that way.

I need to get back to the story. I’m going to be a bit distracted for the next few days (maybe a week or so) which is why I’m happy to have the deadline. I start the new job tomorrow. I’m looking forward to the new challenges. I do have a couple more short stories to look into as well. And the holidays are rapidly approaching… yay, let’s be busy!

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[Pen/Pencil Review] The Parafernalia Revolution Mechanical Pencil

Posted by reudaly on November 10, 2014 in Life |

The Parafernalia Revolution mechanical pencil was a strange and interesting thing I found at the Dallas Pen Show that I bought for Jimmy – he’s the pencil dude in the family. This was the “big” purchase, but it was totally worth it.
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The Perafernalia Revolution mechanical pencil is made in Italy developed by Sergio Carpani in 1978. The architectural design of the pencil commemorated the Beaubourg in Paris. This pencil has thirty-one pieces from aluminum. This pencil is made of out of cylinders creating the triangular, weirdly ergonomic design. It has no eraser, but that’s not a huge deal. The plunger also caps the tube for lead refill – it’s a sturdy cap. Takes a hefty pull to get it out.
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I found it weird to write with, but I’m not a huge fan of triangular. But it’s super cool looking, and not for me. It’s for Jimmy. He loves stuff like this. It also came with a nifty wooden stand. It’s measured in millimeters – 113Lx12Wx12H – which converts to about 4.45″ length by about 0.5″ diameter. So it’s a bit narrow but light and fun.
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This pencil uses standard 0.5mm pencil lead. It’s a lot of fun, and functional. It’s also on the expensive side, these run $30. So you’re paying for basically a piece of functional art. It’s a great gift.
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The numbers:

1. How does it work?1 – It works like it’s supposed to. It’s a mechanical pencil. It can be refilled with standard pencil lead.
2. Grip and feel0.5 – It’s a little narrow and light. It’s a bit on the short side and triangular, so it’s weird but kinda cool.
3. Material1 – It’s aluminum – light but durable because the tubes are hollow and architectural.
4. Overall Design1 – I like it. It writes. It’s functional. It’s really cool looking and comes with a nifty stand.
5. Price Point0.5 – It’s not cheap – it’s $30 – but it’s meant more for a cool gift and display piece than every day, but it can be used. So if you need something fun, or impressive. This is it.

That’s 4 of 5 bronze pencils.
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[Spotlight Post] Day Job – So Long & Thanks for All The Fish

Posted by reudaly on November 7, 2014 in Life, Spotlight |

Today’s supposed to be a Spotlight Post day. A day where I pick someone at random and say nice things about someone else, but today it’s a bit different. Today is my last day of work at my current job. I started this job two years ago because I had to – and needed one. I met some good people along the way – and now we’re all going our separate ways. There’s a wee bit of anxiety – though I’ve accepted another job that starts on Wednesday… they’re still finalizing paperwork, so the “Report here at this Time” email hasn’t been sent yet. But it will come. Then the new adventure starts after two days of between jobs vacation.

I wish I could say I’ll miss my old job, but in all honesty, I won’t. This place is a shadow of what it once was run by a person who does not value the human component. People, in his mind, are tools to be used, discarded, and (maybe – eventually) replaced with someone/something cheaper. And though I got paid to write – in a casual dress environment – that’s no longer enough. I will gladly brush off (or buy some new) my more professional attire for a job that values my skills and my humanity. I am NOT a stapler. Oh, and the DRAMA, I will not miss the drama.
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Frankly, today is kinda sad, too. But not for the normal reasons. I will miss my lunch buddy, Leo – the Catahula/Chow mix puppy I’ve been walking at lunch. Today will be our last romp. I will miss seeing the crazy pup grow up into a Wild and Crazy Dog – but that’s about it. A couple of folks have said they’ll miss me – but for the most part my two-weeks-notice has gone, by-and-large, ignored. The days of taking a person leaving out for one last lunch are LONG gone. People here now keep their heads down and hope they still have jobs next week.

I’m glad to be leaving on my own terms (instead of waiting for the axe to fall) – even if something weirdly bizarre happens and the new job completely blows up in my face (yes, I have job-related trust issues) – I’m done with this place. It’s served its purpose. I’ve learned new skills. I’ve made at least one good friend – who got out before me (though not her choice). It’s time to move on, to celebrate the new adventures (we closed on our house last Friday – we’re not moving, we bought the house we’ve been renting – and now new job).
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I’ve written up all my procedures. I’ve shown some co-workers what it is I do (when I can – work flow has been kinda spotty). I’ve done provided so many more resources for figuring stuff out than I had when I started here. I’ve done what I can, it’s up to them now to move forward. Hopefully these newer, cheaper models have a problem-solving skill or two. But soon, it won’t be my problem anymore. I’m taking my ball (literally) and going home at 5 pm – and maybe even symbolically shaking some dust off my shoes when I go.

In the immortal words of Douglas Adams… “So Long, and Thanks for all the Fish.”

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[Writing Post] Adaptations are NOT as Easy as You Think

Posted by reudaly on November 5, 2014 in Books, Writing |

Last week was a major milestone for an author I know and admire – her Young Adult novel series became a web series on Geek and Sundry. Yes, I’m referring to Rachel Caine and the Morganville series. Jimmy and I were backers of her Kickstarter campaign to get this done, and I’m so thrilled for her to see it finally come to fruition with the backing and support of Felicia Day’s Geek and Sundry channel. And though I know she doesn’t need defending… I read the comments and wanted to kinda smack some folk. (NEVER, EVER read the comments, I know.)

There are challenges to adapting books to visual media. Heck, there are challenges in adapting books/stories to ANY other media. Unless you have infinite time (which no one does) no book can be word-for-word/scene-for-scene adapted. Things that you can do in your head and on the page just CAN’T be done on screen. For one, if you have a character that wears white? Yeah, you can’t shoot that easily. The lighting necessary for the cameras will cause that costuming to be a pain to shoot, keep clean, etc.

Screen time is expensive – pixels/paper is cheap. Long discussions and explanations are great (sometimes – debatable) in a book, but need to be boiled down to ESSENTIAL bits for screen. I adapted a story once to a script – there was a three sentence paragraph to answer a question that, when you looked at it, boiled down to “Yes”. Guess what goes in the script? Because again… time. You do what you can with what you have available. Compression has to happen to make sure the story stays on track – both in dialogue, scenes, and even characters. Caine addresses some of this in her backers’ updates.

Just this one note – to those who complained the webisodes were “too short” (and should’ve been longer) and/or they should’ve “waited until they had more money” – don’t. Just don’t. Unless you’re ready to throw the hundreds of THOUSANDS (to millions) of dollars it would take to make 30 min – 1 hour episodes you want at them right now? You don’t get a say. The fact this crew made what probably amounted to a total of an hour of show for $80K? Astonishing. Yes, it was chopped up into little bits – the first episode did feel rushed and a little awkward (what first episode of ANYTHING doesn’t?) but it settled and got better, and I hope they get more opportunities to continue to tell the story.

So if you like the books, or vampires, or just some fun watching – go check out the Morganville Webseries on the Geek and Sundry Channel. I love the books. I am entertained by the web series. I’m super happy to have made a little bit of it possible. And now… I have to get back to work, I have a short story deadline approaching…

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[Pen/Pencil Review] UZI Tactical Glassbreaker Pen #7 – Gun Metal

Posted by reudaly on November 3, 2014 in Review, writing instruments |

I have some of the best people in my life… I really do. I couldn’t do most of what I do without their encouragement, support (and occasional enabling). This is one of those times. My Most Awesome Friends, John and Susan Husisian are just the best. At Fencon, they gave me this week’s pen (sorry it’s taken so long to get to it). This is a pen I’ve seen on various websites for years and have been intrigued by but never bought… The Tactical Glassbreaker Pen #7 by UZI. If you ever, ever doubt that a pen cannot also be a weapon – this one will not only take you on with Words, it’s ACTUALLY a weapon as well.
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The UZI tactical pen looks like a textured, classic pen just on its own. This one is the Glassbreaker. The barrel is made from gun metal aircraft aluminum. It has a really sturdy pocket clip attached to the threaded glass breaker in the cap. The pen-like end is an aluminum point that will put a hole in just about anything. The cap posts securely on the tactical end revealing the writing tip. You can probably also use it as a sap or to weight a fist. It really is a weapon as well as a pen. Though I have to admit, I’ve not used the weapons aspect of this pen. I’ve not needed glass or a person broken.
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The ball point ink comes in a standard (probably 1.00mm) Parker-style refill – but is also compatible with Fisher Space Pens (which I should do that conversion since I still have at least one Fisher refill). But the pen writes well. The ink is smooth. It’s long and heavy (aircraft aluminum, hello) and feels bit top heavy when the cap is posted. The pen when capped is about 6″ long and with the cap posted, it’s nearly 6.5″ long. The cap does snug up tightly and there are some ridges that can dig in.
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But it’s a well-made, multi-functional instrument. It’s not cheap, but it’s not expensive for the quality (from what I’ve seen on line – mine was a gift and I’m not asking), the composition, and the fact it’s refillable. It’s also a great safety measure if you’re looking for personal safety device that’s easy to carry and not a blade or firearm.
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The numbers:

1. How does it work?1 – It works like it’s supposed to. It’s a ballpoint pen that writes well, with dark, even ink. The defense element seems sturdy and ready to do its business
2. Grip and feel0.5 – It’s a very long barrel compared to many pens – especially with the cap posted. There are ridges that can dig in. And it does get top heavy.
3. Material1 – It is airplane quality aluminum – which makes it solid, not to heavy to write with – but like it can go distances.
4. Overall Design1 – I like it. It writes. It’s functional – in many ways. I feel pretty tough using it. It’s kinda just awesome
5. Price Point0.5 – It’s not cheap – but not expensive for a multi-function and the materials. It runs between $21 and $24 online. It is refillable. It is a weapon. That’s not a huge price, but it will be an investment.
That’s 4 of 5 bronze pencils.

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[Spotlight Post] Happy Halloween

Posted by reudaly on October 31, 2014 in Spotlight |

HAPPY HALLOWEEN!!!! I’m starting my day with this…I’m sending my name to Mars via NASA. You only have through tonight.

I should have something awesome to share with you today – but there are (and have been) serious distractions this week. So… Let me give you some links to great ways to stay distracted (without me getting on a soap box about stuff – that’ll wait until next week).

And if you’re looking for some awesome (no calorie) treats – let me recommend…

If you’re into Haunted Houses: Check out Dark Hour Haunted House in Garland

The Morganville Vampire Webseries on Geek and Sundry - This link is to Episode 1 – but there are six episodes. This is great fun based on Rachel Caine’s series.

Javier Grillo-Marxuach’s The Middleman: The Pan-Universal Parental Reconciliation Graphic Novel Table Read. So much awesome in one video.

Also in Graphic Novel –

The Middleman – Volume 5 – The Pan-universal Parental Reconciliation

Price: $21.99

5.0 out of 5 stars (3 customer reviews)

16 used & new available from $21.99

Stay safe tonight and all nights

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