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[Pen/Pencil Review] BIC Star Wars Collection

Posted by reudaly on October 16, 2017 in Review, writing instruments |

Anyone who knows me knows I’m a Star Trek girl. I grew up on it. I learned storytelling from it. My first FanGirl crush was on DeForest Kelly as Dr. McCoy. BUT…BUT…I have a lot more Star Wars STUFF. I like Star Wars, I do. It’s mindblowing what it’s been able to accomplish and invent, and since the beginning, George Lucas (and now Disney) has seen the giant cash register that is merchandising. Star Trek and Paramount NEVER did get that concept. At least not to the level that Star Wars did, or this would be a much different blog post.

Today’s review is on the BIC Star Wars Collection. I saw the press release – like a month ago – that was sent out, then was patient until this weekend when I found a still-open Office Max in Tyler, TX that not only had the upper scale Shaeffer Star Wars merchandise (a future blog post) AND the newly arrived BIC line (so new that Russell, one of the gentlemen working there didn’t know they’d been put out – like within the hour we got there). I did buy one of everything – still debating keeping them in packaging or busting them open. Oh, who are we kidding. I might end up getting a second set to leave in packaging, but we all know I’m busting into these.


BIC has put out a basic line of pens, pencils, and highlighters in the theme. The four-pack of black ballpoint pens are designed with both Alliance and Empire logos in a medium (likely 1.0mm) point. The four-pack of 0.7mm mechanical pencils are two Empire, two Alliance with characters and symbols. The two-pack of highlighters are yellow with Chewbacca on them. The only design with one offs are the four-color multi-pens. One design is Darth Vader; one is Yoda – both are medium point.


So..whether you are Dark Side or Jedi, there’s something in this collection for everyone – and being classic BIC, they’re not overly expensive (more than your typical BIC sticks). The four packs were about $4 each as were the highlighters. The four-color were $5.99? You can keep or share.

The numbers:
1. How does it work?1 – I am going to say these are typical BIC pens and pencils, they will work the way the BIC pens and pencils work.
2. Grip and feel0.5 – There are no ergonomics. There are no grips. They are what they are.
3. Material1 They’re basic plastic with cool designs.
4. Overall Design1 – They’re fun, functional, and if you’re a fan, or a kid or kid-at-heart, it won’t matter.
5. Price Point0.5 – For basic BIC, they’re not the cheapest, but they’re not overpriced for being themed for Star Wars. Between $4-$6 for whichever one you get. I don’t believe the whole set cost more than $25-$30 – which is cheaper than a lot of potentially collectable things.

4.0 out of 5 Bronze Pencils
Pencil 4.0

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[Write the Story] First Love

Posted by reudaly on October 13, 2017 in Writing |

Prompt: First Love

Words: Dog walker, observe, frightful, broken, curvy, wooden, violet, rabbit, stamp, maze

Story

“What’s the first thing that comes to mind when I show you these?” Dr. Bennett held a stack of cards in her lap.

“Maze. Rabbits running. Aww, a broken squeaky toy.”

Dr. Bennett put down the cards with a heavy sigh. “I can’t continue with this. You’re hopeless.”

Violet gazed at Dr. Bennett with large, soulful brown eyes. “But…but I thought we were making progress.”

“We were, but I can’t put a stamp of approval on your evaluation unless we can achieve a breakthrough.”

“What’s the problem?” Violet jumped to her feet, planting fists on hips, pulling her “Dog Walkers Do It With A Leash” shirt tighter across her curvy frame. “Why not?”

“From what I observe you have a frightfully close connection with your dogs.”

“You say that like it’s a bad thing.” Violet paced the wooden-paneled office. She pointed to frames. “You have dogs. You know that connection.”

“I do.” Bennett’s tone was guarded. “But this isn’t about me and my dogs. It’s about you.”

“Spit it out, Doc. What’s the problem?”

“The problem is you want me to clear you for space travel, but you’ll have to choose space or dogs. And deep down we both know your first love.”

“Woof.”

Word Count: 204

Written: 7/26/17

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[Writing Post] Taking Needed Time Off

Posted by reudaly on October 11, 2017 in Life, Writing |

Oh, hey, look. It’s Wednesday. I’m taking some time off this weekend to unplug and recharge (long overdue). Actual time off not just go from one high energy event to another – again LONG overdue. I was one of those people who thought “self-care” was one of those “selfish” new agey concepts that wasn’t a “proper” use of time.

Um… yeah. I’m rethinking that. 😎 I’m also to a (new-to-me) point that I don’t have to hoard paid time off (or work extra hours in advance) in order to make sure I can get to conventions/events without getting dinged financially – and in a secure-enough feeling job that that stupid fear of “Oh, they’re going to figure out they don’t need me if I’m not there” is behind me after WAY, WAY too many years and experiences. I am going to take time off and ENJOY IT. Maybe one day take an ACTUAL VACATION (I’ve heard other people talk about this strange concept…time to experience it). We will start with time off – limited phones, no internet – pen and paper and a pile of reading material (hard copy and digital).

I have some writing projects that are niggling at my returning brainspace, so I’m taking some materials with me in case of Colossal Plot Bunny Rampage (next band name, you know it). But there’s no guilt. No pressure. When I get back to “normal life” I should be recharged, energized, and ready to tackle all the stuff waiting for me — Like WORLD FANTASY!

I have one panel at World Fantasy – plus the mass signing and Guest Liaison duties. Then there’s a comic con in Waxahachie, Texas that I have a table at – facing one of their media guests. Won’t know which one till I get there, I’m sure.

ONWARD!

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[Pen/Pencil Review] Parker Urban Rollerball

Posted by reudaly on October 9, 2017 in Review, writing instruments |

This one’s been a long time coming. I bought the Parker Urban in navy blue at Pen Place in Kansas City when we went in April for Spectrum. I did get this one on clearance, but it’s still really nice.

The Urban rollerball is an elegant design with an ergonomic, bullet-shaped barrel – which means wider at the grip and narrow where it hits the thumb webbing. This is a navy enameled barrel with bright chrome metal accents and the trademark arrow-fletched metal clip.

The barrel runs about 5.5″ long capped and nearly 6.5″ with the cap posted. The cap posts securely and is has a decent weight. There is a ridge where the smooth black grip meets the enameled barrel that can dig into the fingers if you grip it just right. The smooth grip could also become a bit tiresome.

The pen comes with a 0.7mm black gel ink refill – which is marked “M” for medium (which in my brain is the correct designation). The ink is dark, rich and dries quickly. The roller moves smoothly and is refillable. The pen is a professional and investment pen. It’s not cheap. But if you need a gift pen or a pen that looks really good for professional reasons, this one isn’t bad.

The numbers:
1. How does it work?1 – This is a decent pen. The ink works for me. Nice, rich, black.
2. Grip and feel0.5 – The grip is shiny black plastic that can be tiresome. It’s hard but well-balanced in the taper even with the ridge. The length and weight are good.
3. Material1 It’s a solid pen with a lot of metal. The refill lasts a goodly while.
4. Overall Design1 – It’s solid. It’s very good looking with an elegant feel.
5. Price Point0.5 – It’s not cheap. These run easily $50 – $80 depending on where you get it or if it’s on sale. I wish I could remember how much I paid for it. It’s an investment that you want to refill and use for years.

4.0 out of 5 Bronze Pencils
Pencil 4.0

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[Write the Story] A Much Needed Vacation

Posted by reudaly on October 6, 2017 in Writing |

Prompt: A Much Needed Vacation

Words: hair salon, burn, escape, waste, yesterday, quack, quaint, jittery, bob, expensive

Story

“All I have to do is get through today, and then it’s two weeks of escape.” Jeannie watched the det cord burn through the metal around the lock. She kicked the door open. “Where did you say the safe was again, Dina?”

“Behind the duck painting on the west wall.” Dina was a British-accented voice in her ear. “Focus on now. Not tomorrow.”

“Or yesterday…thanks, Mom.” She crossed quickly to the realistic painting. She almost expected it to quack. But it fit in with the quaint, hunter’s décor. She set the digital device that ran the safe’s combination and tried not to give in to jittery nerves as it processed. The door popped open. She scooped out expensive jewelry and currency, as well as the documents she came for.

“Got it.” Jeannie paused only to lay waste to the papers and memorabilia on the desk and overturn books and furniture to make it look more like a garden variety robbery. She checked her watch. “I can still make my appointment at the hair salon. I’m thinking of going with the bob this time. Thoughts?”

“If this information saves the world? You deserve a bob – or a Frank, or a Kyle. Whatever you want. It’s your vacation after all.”

Jeannie fought laughter all the way back to the van. Sometimes saving humankind needed a good chuckle.

Word Count: 225

Written: 7/24/17

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[Writer Post] Advice Recap

Posted by reudaly on October 4, 2017 in Writing |

Since I’m still recovering from Day Job Stuff (which the marathon finally ended on Sept. 30), and just now getting the brain back I haven’t had a good opportunity to process all that was FenCon – so there’s still a convention report coming…probably. I am easing back into all the post-activity normalcy, which means blog posts. AND I just had someone ask for first time writer advice. So this is going to be a quick recap of THAT…

1. Don’t listen to the MUSTs… You MUST write X number of words/time of day/etc. or you’re not a “REAL” writer. No. If you write you’re a real writer.

2. Do THIS ONE THING and you’ll be rich and famous. Yeah, no. Or we’d all be rich and famous.

3. Rosemary Clement said it best… “You do You.” What works for me, works for me. What works for you, works for you. You are not wrong. I am not wrong. There is NO WRONG WAY.

4. In this realm… I tend to be a linear writer: Beginning to Middle to End. I also tend to be a “Discovery” writer (or organic or seat of the pants-er). That’s me. Others write scenes as they come, put it on a corkboard (or digital equivalent) and move things around, or have serious outlines, or whatever. THAT’S OKAY. Does it work for you? Then you’re doing it right!

5. Any day with a word count is a good day. Do they have to be good words? Heck no. Many times they will be unusable words (for that project) or it will be something non-project related. There will be small word counts and big word counts. Does it matter? No. Can it be a blog or tweet or grocery list? Yes it can.

6. Will there be days without word counts? Yes, there will. Is that a bad day? Not necessarily. Stuff happens. Life happens. Health stuff happens. Things happen. If you don’t write one day (or 37 depending on the circumstances) don’t beat yourself up and think you completely suck as a writer. You don’t. It’s not dieting – Yo Yo Writing won’t mess up your health but it may not be the most productive thing. Some people are everyday writers. Others are binge writers. You be you.

Catching the theme yet?

7. It’s okay to write on multiple projects simultaneously. It’s okay to focus on one project until it’s done.

8. Pick a writer’s group that encourages you to grow and be better – or don’t pick a writer’s group at all. It’s good to get feedback from objective individuals that way you find the things that could be better and either make them better or stop doing them. but again if a group is not your thing, find what is and make it work for you – like a group of beta readers. Or hiring a professional editor.

9. Don’t take anything too seriously or personally (this is super tough because it’s all subjective). You won’t always agree on the feedback but it’s not generally designed to be a personal attack – unless it is, then run away from that feedback.

10. AND SUPER IMPORTANT — don’t be a jerk. Be professional and kinda courteous when you ask for advice, make professional connections, or send out your work. Don’t argue or pick fights if someone doesn’t like what you wrote (because not everything is to everyone’s liking). It’s Golden Rule time. You don’t want to deal with jerks – don’t be one in return. Ask questions.

Boom…my top 10 list of advice for up-and-coming writers.

Resource: If you do the podcast thing? Listen to Writing Excuses.

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[Pen/Pencil Review] The Pilot B2P Retractable – Shades of Green

Posted by reudaly on October 2, 2017 in Review, writing instruments |

My moderately convenient Staples is closing. This situation is a whole different rant/post for a later date. We visited to see if we could pick up anything good – I did two more of the Pilot B2P (Bottle to Pen) pens from a 2 for $2 display at the register in shades of green. I know I’ve already review a version of this pen, but what the heck…

According to the website, The B2P comes in both 0.5mm and 0.7mm point – I’ve only seen the 0.7, which is what I bought (or I would’ve TOTALLY gone for the 0.5mm still). This time we’re dealing with the 0.7mm primary green and apple green.

At first glance, it’s kinda cool. The plastic barrel is color-matching tinted and has wavy ridges in it to mimic a water bottle. The barrel isn’t too thick or too thin to feel comfortable in the hand. The Ink cartridge runs the full length of the barrel, promising a long-lived writing instrument. And it’s 5.5 inches long, making it long enough to balance in a hand. Which is all good – especially with the recycle factor.

The upside to these are the fact they’re gel ink. The primary green is solid, dark, and rich. The apple green is one of the darker tints for the lighter colors. The apple green is actually easy to read. Both write very smoothly through the metal conical tip. There is still ink smearing to deal with, but not as much as with the first pens of this line I dealt with.

Why does this matter? I don’t like having to pay that much attention to my gel ink. Fountain pen ink is different, it’s liquid. You expect some drying time. It’s been a while since I’ve had smudging and smearing issues with gel ink – especially from a PILOT product. I will continue to use the pens – I don’ t give up pens that easily, but I’m wary of them. The pricing was also right on these – $1 each. I’m just sorry that I will have to hunt harder for them.

The numbers:

1. How does it work?0.5 – This is a fairly solid working pen. The ink is well-pigmented. The point is solid. The ink smears a bit much for my taste

2. Look and feel1 – It’s a basic retractable pen. There’s a nod to ergonomics. The clip is metal, so that’s solid.

3. Material1 – It’s recycled plastic with a plastic clip. It is what it is.

4. Overall Design0.5 – It’s functional and recycled. It’s refillable and eco-friendly

5. Price Point1 – This pen is refillable and were available for $1 each.

I give it 4 out of 5 Bronze Pencils
Pencil 4.0

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[Write the Story] The Love of Each Other’s Lives

Posted by reudaly on September 29, 2017 in Writing |

Prompt: The Love of Each Other’s Lives

Words: piano, fish, store, ceiling fan, behave, breathe, describe, irritating, enthusiastically, righteous

Story

“You bought me a fish! I knew you loved me!” Cassie enthusiastically hugged the container close.

“I noticed you drooling over it in the store. I had to get it for you.” Kent beamed at her then scanned the bar. “So why are we here?”

“Just breathe and behave. It’s still a surprise.”

Kent zipped his lip as she giggled out of temp with the squeaking ceiling fan above their high-top table. Cassie had an irritating but adorable desire to create “surprises” he had to endure much less try to compete with. It was a challenge he’d risen to on more than one occasion.

“Don’t you think?” Cassie asked.

“Um…sure, yes!”

“Really? That’s amazing!” Cassie squealed in a way Kent couldn’t begin to describe. What had he just agreed to? He’d been wrapped up in his own thoughts and hadn’t been listening. In a flash, Cassie lept into his arms and it didn’t matter anymore.

Before he could unravel what had amped up Cassie’s excitement levels to eleven, spotlights hit the stage as the opening strains of “Piano Man” to a cry of approval from the moderate crowd in the bar.

“Righteous, dude!” a surfer on the front row cried.

“Truly righteous,” Cassie said. “So, when do you want to get married?”

Kent blinked. “Wait, what? Married?”

The event just turned a bigger corner.

Word Count: 224

Written: 7/23/2017

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[Writing Post] Back to the Land of Something

Posted by reudaly on September 27, 2017 in Conventions, Writing |

I’d say living, but I’ve been living just not online. There’s a good shift back to at least a semblance of normalcy at least in schedule if not in tasking. This has been a giant learning experience, and overall a very valuable one.

FenCon was amazing and I need to spend some time to do a write up. I need to get back to writing.

October is the Month of No. There are no major events planned until just before Halloween. There will be rest, writing, and relaxing. I have someone on standby to poke me on the writing thing. Jimmy will remind me of the other things.

November is another story. I start with World Fantasy where I have guest liaison duties AS WELL AS qualifying for one panel on Thursday. Which also then qualifies me for the mass signing on Friday. Yard Dog will be represented at World Fantasy. Bwa hahahahahaha. Then we have a fan group here. Followed by Waxacon – a first year comic con in Waxahachie. Then Thanksgiving.

Hence October being the Month of No. Yee haw.

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[UPDATE] NO BLOG POSTS THIS WEEK

Posted by reudaly on August 28, 2017 in Life with Comments closed |

Due to ongoing Hurricane Harvey Diaster Relief Operations associated with my Day Job, there will be no blog posts this week and maybe next week.

Jimmy’s party is still a go, but nothing else is going to happen.

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