YAY! COMBO POST! Pens, writing, and conventions because it’s just that week. Heck, it’s just that month. September is my most busy and stressful month of the year – and this week is the biggest week in the month. Day Job has a big event. FenCon starts (for staff) technically Wednesday. Parents 50th Anniversary is this weekend. And to top it off, I had jury duty yesterday. WHEEEEE!!!!!!!!!! So you get a combo post.
This weekend is also the Dallas Pen Show. I will, once again, bail out of FenCon Friday morning at 9:30 (sharpish) to get to THAT show when it opens at 10 am (but no one gets to the show the minute it’s open! WRONG) so I can spend about 30-45 minutes there drooling over things I cannot afford and talking to pen makers and chocolate makers and then fly back to do FenCon duties. It’s my small window of opportunity. I WILL TAKE IT. You will see the effects next week.
The parental anniversary (and it was a big anniversary) has been celebrated. There’s some bleed over that will happen in my absence before they take off for a short trip. So that’s handled. Jury Duty lasted about half a day which allowed me to make headway on some convention prep that I was struggling to make sure got done. So a bit of a relief.
We’re doing the last run through of prep for the Day Job Event that I will not be participating in but have done tons of prep for this afternoon. I have one more day in the office, then it’s all about FenCon for realz (yeah, I can’t pull that off).
Evenings are booked with all things FenCon. Thursday through Monday is all things FenCon. And Redheads of the Apocalypse. And weird redheaded blurs that could be Rhonda, but who knows for sure. So you see this craziness? Do you know what that means for writing or developing panels for Nerd Years Eve? Yeah, I’m going to be lucky to eek out a few words here and there. I’m muddling through that.
The convention crazy? That’s part of the job. The job gets done. If there are new words, YAY. If there are not? Well, occasionally that happens. It’s not a permanent thing. Back on the horse next week (I have short story edits/rewrites to work on – need to find out when that’s due…) Now… allons-y.
It’s Wednesday. Yay. This month is astonishingly busy. It’s a really big month at the Day Job with National Preparedness Month. It’s FenCon month. LISTS! To Dos! Errands! Allons-y!
The preliminary schedule for FenCon has gone out – but not the final one. I’ll post the link when it’s available. There’s a very big chunk of time in which I’m booked…in formal wear. So yay? We have the Redheads of the Apocalypse 10th Anniversary and the new Redheads of the Apocalypse: Scarlet Women Tea (from Tea Punk Teas) debuting there. It’s going to be very Redhead-erific.
Writing is moving right along. I’ve got to finish developing out a series of panels I’m doing at Marvelous Nerd Year’s Eve (a media con over New Years Weekend) because it’s been announced on a Facebook Live video. Hopefully I’ll be on the website in the not too distant future. That’s still a bit of a sting, but I have hope when they add the next set of guests I might be one of them. There’s been progress – the author page actually has more than one person on it.
Now, I need to go and continue to be a Responsible Adult. Yes, I know it’s a scary thought, but I know it needs to be done.
Starting my inventory and looking through to see what pens I might’ve missed over time. This is one of them. The EF Felt Tip pen in black – EF stands for Eberhard Faber. This pen is old – so old, I can’t find it online much. Even Amazon says it’s Out of Stock with no date on restocking. The site is geared toward kids’ art supplies.
This pen runs about 5.6″ long with the cap on. It’s a snap on cap that’s pretty darn secure, which is good because fiber tips will dry out if you’re not careful. It’s 6.25″ long with the cap posted. It’s light but well-balanced. It has a good diameter with no frills. The tip is a 0.85mm – which is a bold line – good making signs or when you need your writing to be truly noticed. The black ink really is bold and rich – just be careful, it’s a water-based ink – so it will wash out of clothes, hands and smear if you drip on it.
Yet, overall, if you’re an artist, or someone who likes a bold fiber tip? This is something you should definitely check out. If you can find them. I have a couple, but I don’t know if you can find them anymore. There’s a similar one on Overstock.com but it’s got a different point. They look like they run about $8 a dozen if you can find them.
1. How does it work? – 0.5 It’s decent. No frills. The bold line to the fiber tip makes me think I’m going to hurt the tip, because I’m heavy handed, but some people might like that.
2. Grip and feel – 1 – For being a no-frills pen, it’s pretty comfortable. It doesn’t have a cushioned grip, but it has decent diameter and balance.
3. Material – 1 It is what it is. A disposable, non-refillable “marker” type pen, but made with 80% recycled plastic, so there’s not as much guilt for throwing it away when it’s empty.
4. Overall Design – 0.5 -It’s a basic fiber point pen. It’s not a full on marker, but it’s not an everyday writing pen – unless you like really bold lines, then GO FOR IT. It’s all plastic, so if you’re a fidgeter, it’s likely you’ll snap off the pocket clip.
5. Price Point – 0 – They run less than a dollar to just over IF YOU CAN FIND THEM. Apparently they’ve been discontinued… so…oops.
There is a part 2 to Geekinomicon. This is the more “human interest” side (aka the Greg Grunberg story) – and a few other celebrity mentions. There were a lot of fun/exciting things that happened in OKC – not the least of which falls under “exciting” = “interesting” (Chinese version) when we were ALL awakened on Saturday morning at 7 am (which is when most of us needed to be up anyway) by a 5.6M (maybe upgraded to 5.8M) earthquake. Rock and roll took on a WHOLE new meaning.
So, many saw the cookie adventures. I plied most of them with cookies. It’s an ice breaker beside, “LOVE your work!” Like with Katrina Law – gave her a cookie AND talked to her about Hallmark movies (where she doesn’t die AND gets the guy – but still want her to kick butt… hmmm plot bunny? Maybe…) Eric Roberts (a fine gentleman) took a BUNCH of them, and his wife, Eliza? BOTH of them are AWESOME. Daphne Ashbrook and I had a great conversation at the bar about calling folks “darling” or “sweetie” because we have NO IDEA what your name is. Glenn Morshower is is always a treat. And Jimmy and I ended up talking to Felix Silla in the lobby of the hotel Friday night for about an hour.
But this year’s celebrity awesome story is Greg Grunberg (which I keep trying to call him Greg GUNDERSON – don’t know why). First, he loved the butterscotch triple chocolate chip cookies – which means he’s a man of great taste. We chatted about him crossing all the great franchises and the graphic novel he has through Scholastic. That was it – on Saturday.
On Sunday, we ran into him on the hotel elevator – along with a family. We were all cool, small talk and cookie mention (no big deal about an actor in the elevator!). Jimmy took our keys to the desk while I directed him into the hotel store/coffee bar. We kinda followed him in because it was the best way to the convention center to find out he was looking for a phone charger brick since his died. I gave him one of mine – the good one. The one that also charges iPods. Because, once a guest relations person, ALWAYS a guest relations person.
Went through to chat with folks after my panel on Sunday, bought Greg’s book because the dream world scenarios are something I like. He signed the book. All good. Went back later in the day with cookies – to find out Greg’s assistant gave my charger to some other female who said it was hers. Apparently associated with some other celebrity who was already gone. OOPS. Greg, being awesome, asked immediately for my address so he could send me a new one. Then he did the cute selfie pic with me (I SUCK at selfies). I gave him the address, he made a note. Even if the charger brick doesn’t show back up in my mailbox, I DON’T CARE…the STORY is enough. 😎 The fact he was all “I’m sending you a new one! I promise. I’m making a note!” was adorable and pretty much guarantees that I will support anything he does professionally from now on.
It’s Wednesday. Blog day…and Geekinomicon report day (or maybe report day 1 depending on how long this goes). Geekinomicon is/was a First Year Media Con. The group that owns the show has two more dates this year – one in St. Louis and one here in Dallas. And being a first year show, there were strengths and weaknesses – or as we call them at a portion on my job “OFIs” (Opportunities For Improvement).
I talked with a volunteer who asked the question: “How can people who’ve run shows before have issues with a show?” Um… lots of reasons two key ones: 1) those people ran a different KIND of show (Media shows are a TOTALLY different kind of show than fan run, toy shows, etc.); 2) some of the crew may have done PIECES of shows but never the whole thing so there could be knowledge gaps (just because I can run guest relations doesn’t mean I can negotiate a contract or put together programming).
Let’s do the strengths first – even if they seem small in number – they’re good, they’re the backbone of the convention.
The Crew – the owners, investors, staff, and volunteers worked their absolute behinds off to bring this show to fruition, to make it a good show, and to pull off so many minor miracles. They were helpful, courteous, professional, and made a point to listen to concerns. With a great crew, a show can do so much.
Programming – there was a wider variety of panels than I’ve seen at many media conventions. They really are trying hard to be a more inclusive to appeal to more fans. None of the panels (except the VIP stuff that was quite clear) were any extra cost.
Fan Good Will – the celebrities and panelists were there to do a job, and I think we did it if not with a full on smile (but we tried) then professionalism and relative decorum.
Facilities – the convention center was an awesome space that gave vendors and artists plenty of room. We were not crushed or crowded – which sounds like it means they were undersold, but that’s not the case. I LOVE not being claustrophobic or worried about bumping into the people next to me or behind me. The panel rooms were well-equipped and ready for everything.
Small but heartfelt – I didn’t have many people at my panels. But the people who did come, came with good questions and ideas. One even said she’d stopped writing for a while, but now wanted to write again. BEST COMPLIMENT EVER!
Now the OFIs…
Communication/Information – this was the big thing. Reports were that there were people with information that did not share the information. This is big deal – but it’s now a known deal. I believe wholeheartedly that this is one of the issues that they are working on. Learning Curves.
- Social Media/Website – could use some beefing up with retweets/shares – even likes. Especially about upcoming programming. The website search function was limited to titles only and programming details were lacking. I’m sure this is also being addressed by both the convention and potential panelists.
Facilities/Signage – though good, the convention center was too big, too dark, and the escalators didn’t work. Not sure what all that means, but I’m sure they’re evaluating. Signage showed up on Saturday, for all but one room. Simple enough to fix.
Attendance – I don’t know how to fix this. They had a great projection. Not sure how outside advertising was done or where, but sometimes even when all that goes well – the people just aren’t there. Which makes it difficult for everyone to make the show financially successful.
The last thing, and I’ll be done. This is what I call the “All Things Being Equal” thing – which isn’t a thing. I know celebrities are the draw. They’re the money guests. I get it. Not arguing that point. BUT… BUT, but… if you’re doing an “all inclusive” show with authors and artists (which does come from the information sharing bit) – having them on the website as attending and providing paneling isn’t a DETRIMENT. We can help if you let us. I struggled with this a lot the two weeks before the show.
Now that I know the show staff is willing to listen – and they are – I feel better about the show. They were visible, they were engaged, they were THERE. I know they were dealing with a lot, but they came and talked with artists who had issues. They put out a lot of fires. The show has a ton of potential and I can’t wait to see what happens with Marvelous Nerd Year’s Eve.
Happy Labor Day! Love having a Federal Holiday right after a convention – it’s awesome. We got back from Geekinomicon last night. It was awesome and exhausting, and we’ll talk about that on Wednesday.
It’s also the day we celebrate my Mom’s birthday — tonight we GRILL! (Actually in about 45 min!) There’s an amazing meal in our future! Pedicures were on the list — but have rescheduled that for later this week.
Yes, friends, this is Dallas Pen Show time. Hope to find out more about pens I can’t either don’t have or can’t afford. But it’s one of the best times of my crazy, insane month. So, nothing new today – mostly because I have no brain on me.
We return you to your regularly scheduled Holiday Monday.
I’m running back and forth between “Yay! It’s Wednesday!” and “Holy Cow, it’s Wednesday! ACK!” I’m participating in a media con this weekend for the first time (since I was a wee writer) as a panelist as well as being in the Artist Alley selling books. This has created a lot of excitement and even more anxiety on my end.
What doesn’t help relieve any of the (admittedly self-imposed) stress, is that being the first time since I did Project AKon many, many moons ago ONCE, I don’t know the process of how a convention/show is run. How are schedules communicated? How is the show set up? When does information go out? What if … what if… what if… Being the Pre-Planner that I am (which works pretty well in my Day Job), it stresses me out to think I might miss something I’m contracted for because somehow I missed the information.
So I asked questions. What felt like a TON of really STUPID questions, creating a spiral of “OMG, can I be any more NEEDY?” Because frankly, none of us want to be “That” panelist or person. The one who has to have every move told and have her hand held every step of the way. I’m not high-maintenance. I’m NOT (darn it!). I really hated asking the questions of the organizer because I KNOW how busy he is. I KNOW how thankless the programming portion of any convention is, so the last thing I want to do is “be a bother”.
Then the Coulda/Shoulda/Woulda/Oughtas started – which created a vicious, self-inflicted cycle that does NO ONE any good. BTW, if you didn’t know, writers are a bundle of weird insecurities – this one is mine. However, it’s going to be an AWESOME show. I know it. I claim it. I will make it the best possible thing I can – and hopefully people will come listen to me talk about size of publishers and moving plots and buy books.
I don’t write this to point fingers at anyone but me. These are my neuroses, which, if anyone else out there shares them – know you’re not alone. We’re a weirdly skittish bunch authors. What freaks out one is status quo for another (though my Status is NOT Quo). And after this weekend, I’ll know the process and – should I continue down this path – won’t freak out quite a much.
If I DID come off as needy and high-maintenance, I apologize. Brain weasels made me do it. That’s what we should call our weird neuroses – Brain Weasels (also the name of my next band) – which are the sad, unwanted rodent cousins of Plot Bunnies. I prefer the plot bunnies. OMG – Just Googled it. Brain Weasels are a THING. And they’re THIS thing.
A few weeks ago I wrote that I have a problem. Back-to-School displays are my weakness. On the trip to Walgreens that gained me the fine point BICs (still don’t have “traditional” colors) X-tra Precise. I also found the Pentel Color Shades Writing Pack – in Green. And even though I’ve pretty much reviewed all things Pentel, I still had to buy this. I have a problem. I’d like to say I could quit any time, but then there wouldn’t be a blog.
Honestly, I just saw the green and went for it. I didn’t read the packaging AT ALL. So I rather expected this to be all black ink with green barrels. And… no. There’s a PENTEL RSVP RT medium point (so 1.0 mm) retractable ball point pen, An ENER-GEL X 0.7mm gel pen, a WOW! 0.7mm mechanical pencil, a Hi Polymer eraser and a Clic Eraser in this pack (other colors available if you don’t like green – but who doesn’t like green????)
The pencil is a pencil. Pentel has relatively dense lead – this is a classic HB – and it doesn’t break easily The eraser is under a translucent cap, which I’ve not used (though decent erasers) because I have better erasers to use. Speaking of… I LOVE the Clic Erasers. Feels like a pen with a super long eraser that ratchets out. I annoy people with the eraser clicking. But there’s ALWAYS eraser available.
The Ener-Gels are a perennial favorite. The ink pigment is dark and relatively fast-drying. The conical point flows freely with little skipping or glopping. The ballpoint is always iffy. Not a fan of 1.0 mm – but the ink is a regular green, not a light green (no matter what the barrels say). RSVPs do well with the smooth flow and limited glopping. Retractables make everything clean.
The Clic Eraser is 5” long, the pens and pencil run between 5.75” and 6” long for a “standard” size in mechanical pencils and retractable pens. There are ergonomic grips on all but the click eraser for comfort. They’re all balanced well.
The issue is availability and cost. Right now they’re only showing up online at Amazon and Ebay. You’ll have to catch them at box stores before Back-to-School is over. They’re more expensive online. I think I paid $4.99 at Walgreens?
1. How does it work? – 1 These are decent tools in a decent (and kind of fun-looking) pack to handle all the elements of school or work.
2. Grip and feel – 1 – They have good grips and feel for being basic plastic writing tools..
3. Material – 1 For an inexpensive plastic pens and pencil, they’re solidly built. The retracting mechanism are solid. The barrels are cool
4. Overall Design – 1 -It’s a pretty cool package. Everything is classic Pentel. Kind of doing a matched set is pretty awesome.
5. Price Point – 0.5 – I got these at a local Walgreens. $5 is a good price if you can find it – $1 an element is good. Unfortunately, if you find them on line they seem to be running more – Amazon is showing between $7 – $9 – which is a bit much, I’m afraid. And they seem to be “seasonal”.
4.5 out of 5 Bronze Pencils
Happy Blog Day Wednesday. Getting ready for Geekinomicon next weekend. Running a panel at 6 pm on Friday – don’t know if anyone else is going to be on it or if it’s just me. If you’re one of my OKC folks or can be one of the OKC folks, come out and support the show – and me. And if you want to buy some books? That would be cool, too.
Writing is going pretty well – or at least it’s going. Sometimes slow and steady wins the race, right? It’s okay to be the tortoise instead of the hare.
There will be a new Redheads book – Wrath of Satan – is in galley proof stages (and thank goodness for Julia and her grand attention to detail). We’re doing our meeting this weekend about the 10th Anniversary Bash for Redheads of the Apocalypse. If you are/were/or ever thinking of being a ROTA supporter, come celebrate with us at FenCon!
Speaking of FenCon, now is the massive gear up. Holy Cow, that’s in a month! It’s down to details now – which is when I get busy. So crazy time ahead in 3…2…1… BE WARNED! Be AFRAID!!!!
I love Back-to-School time. It’s one of my Most Wonderful Times of the Year. All the lovely office/school supplies ON SALE. It makes my poor heart flutter. Especially when I can hit a Walgreens or CVS or other store and find some awesome novelty pens. This year was no exception. Walgreens had these amazing Owl Stress Pens for $1.99. I had to buy one for my friend, Meredith (she loves owls) and if she gets one, I get one.
This is a novelty pen, so the expectations are not high with pens like this. This one is top heavy, obviously, there is an owl on top. The pen barrel is a bit short – the whole pen is short, it’s only 6.5” long. There’s a flare to the base of the barrel, so there’s a slight nod to ergonomics. It’s not a pen for long-term writing unless you have a small hand.
The surprising part is the smoothness of the black ballpoint ink. The conical tip is smooth. There’s very little skipping or glopping. The point is on the fine side – like a 0.7mm. Which is AWESOME. Always like when something doesn’t default to 1.0mm or larger.
The selling point is the owl though. It’s a stress “ball” of sorts. Have a co-worker, family member, or random school mate that makes you want to pop someone’s eyes out or pinch their heads like a zit? (Eww, I know, imagery!) This pen lets you DO THAT. Squeeze the owl and the eyes pop out. SO MUCH FUN! And keeps you out of HR or the principal’s office. Win/Win.
The fact you get this in a pen that actually writes decently for $1.99? PRICELESS!
1. How does it work? – 1 It’s works fine, solid ink flow and a decent tip. The therapeutic aspects are just a bonus.
2. Grip and feel – 0.5 – There’s a nod to ergonomics, but it’s short and not well-balanced
3. Material – 1 It’s a cheesy plastic novelty pen. You get what you pay for.
4. Overall Design – 0.5 – The cap doesn’t post – in fact the cap is probably superfluous. It’s short, oddly balanced, but so much fun you can’t quite NOT use it. Though I’m using it for less a pen and more for the stress aspects.
5. Price Point – 1 – It’s not outrageous. It’s $1.99 on at Walgreens. For Back-to-school on a budget, it’s not necessary. For stress-relief that has a functional purpose? $2 is a good price.