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[Write the Story] Political Machinations

Posted by reudaly on July 21, 2017 in Writing |

Prompt: Political Machinations

Words: appointment, dangerous, cost, empire, kitten, mug, converter, essence, tennis, poke

Story
“The only way you could possibly lose this election is if you play tennis with kittens on camera.”

“Wouldn’t that … oh, you mean as the balls, right.” Buck Ingram wasn’t always the sharpest crayon in the box, but he was the candidate the party put up probably because he was “malleable”. No one asked Fran Johnson’s opinion on that. They only asked her to get the candidate elected, or if already elected, the prime appointment.

Fran knew she helped build an empire in essence. She was good at her job, too. She knew which buttons to push, which nerves to poke to get the job done. Buck was a challenge she fought tooth and nail to overcome. His affable mug and aw-shucks obliviousness hid a steel-trap mind—but getting to the point was…well, she’d house-trained puppies with easier “bombs” to dodge.

“We’ll just head over there to the power converter doohickey and do the photo shoot there.”

Fran cringed. The “doohickey” Buck referred to was the main console feeding the grid from the nuclear power plant. One wrong move…well, dangerous didn’t begin to cover it. If he…well, a mishap would cost untold lives, not to mention economic and environmental devastation. The country and the world would never be the same.

“Oopsie! I guess it’s a whole new world now,” Buck said.

Fran choked.

Word Count: 222

Written: 6/28/17

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[Writer Post] Open Dialog Time – Let’s Talk about Events

Posted by reudaly on July 20, 2017 in Conventions, Writing |

Obviously it’s not Wednesday. I got caught up yesterday in doing Responsible Adult Things and Breathing-In-Spite-of-Crepe-Myrtles day. So, yeah, I thought about a blog post then… not so much.

This was supposed to be – and still is a “Care and Feeding” post from a Writer to Con-Runners – with Pop Culture Con Runners (not all of you, obviously) emphasis:

If you’re going to bring writers and artists to your event and have them do panels here are somethings to consider:
1. Give your panelists tables in which to sell books/art. If you’re asking a writer or artist to GIVE you their time by doing a presentation (read NOT paying them to be there), then at least offer a table so they can make some cash.
2. ADVERTISE THE PANELS. Though there is something to be said about “if you build it, they will come” but someone needs to know you’re there. Your audience might really want to know about whatever topic your writers/artists spent time creating presentations for.
3. Treat your panelists like any other guest. If you’re advertising actors, cosplayers, musicians, etc. ALSO mention your writers and artists (and not just the “Big Names” but everyone participating in your programming). We’re value-adds, I promise.
4. Communicate – amongst yourselves and with your panelists. Make sure everyone knows check in procedures – if/where the badges are, where tables, rooms are, and that any promised technology assistance is available so we come across as the competent professionals we are.
5. When you DO communicate with panelists, make sure you identify yourself and your event. In all likelihood you’re not our only event on the calendar – coming or going. No one likes to have to ask (or answer) the question(s): WHO are you? Or “What is this about?” Goes back to the “competent professional” vibe.

I’m sure there are more, but that whole trying to breathe thing is mucking up thought processes. Did I miss anything? What would you add to the list? Or what do you think I’m wrong about? Con runners – or folks with pop culture event experience – chime in with your side. Love to have a balanced conversation.

Writers (and likely other creators) are trying to do the best job possible to 1) get our name/face out to the populous, 2) do the best job for fans and conventions possible, 3) be pretty decent professionals. We want to learn how to do this better for everyone involved. Let’s talk about it.

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[Pen/Pencil Review] Pilot G2 PenStylus 0.7mm Black Ink

Posted by reudaly on July 17, 2017 in Review, writing instruments |

The Pilot G2 is a classic and has been go to ink. It’s a classic that’s been around for ages, so what else is there to say about it? They’ve changed – or decorated – barrels. They’ve played a bit with point sizes, but overall the Pilot G2 is a Pilot G2. But this time they’ve added “tech” by creating the G2 PenStylus.

The PenStylus G2 has a charcoal gray casing with white dot accents and the classic grip matching the color of the ink. It runs just short of 5.75″. The rubber grip is pretty comfortable for an inexpensive, every day pen. But instead of the traditional push plunger retraction mechanism, the “plunger” is a stylus. The pen retracts by pushing down the molded plastic clip.

The ink is still awesome, the roller is smooth for a 0.7mm. The pen has good ink reservoirs with rich tint to the ink. The conical tip is smooth and lays down a solid line as expected from the line. The feel is good. The ink does seem to dry quickly as is traditional. The stylus works as expected on touch screens.

These are a bit more expensive – probably because of the stylus and they’re new. I almost got these on AmazonPrime Day, but found them cheaper in the Back-to-School aisle at Target. These are 2 pack for between $7 – $9, which makes them the more expensive G2.

To the numbers:
1. How does it work?1 The ink is strong and comes in decent point sizes. The retraction mechanism is solid if different from what you expect. The stylus is functional.
2. Grip and feel1 – It’s fairly basic retractable pen with a decent drip that hasn’t changed much over time, but it still gives a comfortable feel for long-term use.
3. Material1 – It’s rubberized plastic pen. It’s solid for what it is.
4. Overall Design1 – These are a standard. They’ve made basic changes to the design to accommodate the stylus.
5. Price Point0.5 – These run between $3.50 and $4.50 a pop which more than the regular G2s. They should be refillable, but I’m not seeing refills for these yet. If they do end up having the refills, then they will be a solid pen for everyday use.

4.5 out of 5 Bronze Pencils
Pencil 4.5

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[Write the Story] Office Intrigue in the Future

Posted by reudaly on July 14, 2017 in Writing |

Prompt: Office Intrigue in the Future

Words: time travel, trousers, supervise, successfully, law, identity, mustard, kitchen, tooth, fly

Story

Ever have one of those days where you wished time travel was real? Well…DON’T! It’s a trap! I’ve been to the future. You don’t want to know. And the past? Yeah, well, it’s behind for a reason. Who am I? I’m the fly on the wall. I have successfully spied on folks for years. Now I supervise the newest generation of surveillors.

We were designed first in the name of “morale” in private corporations. They wanted to know what employees were really feeling but were afraid to say. They started in the kitchens, finding out who got mustard on their trousers, but it grew quickly after that. Espionage. Secrets. Lies.

Because once the corporations got their fill of employee secrets, they went after rivals. Then sold this “perk” to government. No one had a secret identity anymore. Privacy was gone. The law changed.

Now? We fight other surveillance systems tooth and claw for market share and information. I was the best at it when I was in the field. I had the adaptable AI. I learned how to best camouflage. How to best gather the tiniest nugget of information.

The shiny new chipset thing they’re such hot stuff with their nanotech and shiny holographic cloaking. But this old RAM has a few tricks up its motherboard.

Word Count: 216

Written: 6/27/17

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[Writer Post] Countdown to Introvertedness

Posted by reudaly on July 12, 2017 in Writing |

Oh, Wednesday… hi. How are you. Let’s talk about how my brain is totally in “SQUIRREL!” mode (for a number of reasons but it just is).

Saturday is my last event thing in my three months of constant motion. I have a panel about 1:15 pm at ArlingCon (a one day comic con event) on the UTA campus but sponsored by the Arlington Library. I have built a PowerPoint presentation and everything. Here’s hoping someone comes, considering the ArlingCon Facebook page has only featured costuming/costumers and vendors. We will have another discussion after this over about how writers and writing panels are NOT after thoughts, we are value-adds and maybe you should try advertising us as such. You’d think an even co-sponsored by a LIBRARY SYSTEM would not have to have this conversation. I just hope someone shows up for the panel.

Then I have three weeks (with TWO WHOLE WEEKENDS) with nothing planned before ArmadilloCon. And though I’m totally looking forward to ArmadilloCon, and will give it 110%, will need the time between July 16 and August 3 to have NOTHING ON MY CALENDAR (except church and maybe a haircut). Please don’t be offended if you invite us to something and we respectfully decline. I have no energy left. I need to recharge my Extrovert Batteries by letting the Introvert out for a while. It’s really for the Greater Good.

But the reason this is coming together a bit late today is because I had a monthly lunch meeting that helped tickle Ye Olde Brain Squirrels. There’s a lot about my Day Job that does feed the Plot Bunnies and my creative brain. This was one of those days. I was in a meeting with Law Enforcement that gave me all kinds of insight into a certain type of investigation.

It was also at the Federal Reserve Bank that 1) triggers 12 kinds of spy movie thoughts; 2) has a freakin’ museum and GIFT SHOP. I totally went to a meeting and played serious tourist. I totally bought stuff in the gift shop. And dang, folks, that building is NIIIIICCCCCEEEEEE! It really pays to print money. 😎 (Kidding). Kinda wish now I’d gotten the job I applied for there like two years ago. 😎 Don’t get me wrong, I do love my current job, but I work in a cave – they have GARDENS.

And now to head out for the evening. So many plans. Just have to get through a few more days then blessed … NOTHING SPECIAL. Rest is important. I haven’t been a huge proponent of “self care” but starting to see the need, benefits, etc. Planning some time off later – maybe even a couple of mental health days. The viral article has me thinking about that more and more. And now that I’m in a place with decent leave time, I should really get out of the “but I have to save this for…” and use at least SOME OF IT for something other than conventions. We’ll see how that goes.

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[Pen/Pencil Review] Vintage BIC Gold & Silver Metallic

Posted by reudaly on July 10, 2017 in Review, writing instruments |

A few months ago I mentioned our trip to Killen to meet George Fox of My Supply Room. I came home with this lovely selection of BIC pens – mostly vintage. Several of them had either no ink or ink so old that the pens didn’t work. But that’s okay. I took some notes, and voila, today’s post.

I’ve been starting with the gold and silver classic hex body BICs. Mostly because they remind me of C3PO and R2D2. And also, gold and silver goes with everything. I had some 0.8mm blue and black BIC Round Stick Grip pens that you can buy in bulk at like Staples. I “harvested” a blue and a black refill from those and gave new life to these vintage bodies.

So, the high points… this is a 0.8mm point, they run 5.75″ capped and 6.5″ with the cap posted. The ink is actually dark for the fine line. The tungsten ballpoint does allow ink to flow easily. Both the blue and black are nice and rich. Though, if you don’t rotate the pen in your hand as you write, there is some ink clumping that can smear. But for the most part it’s a quick dry time. I hope it’s the tungsten design now that keeps the ink consistent. In the past I’ve felt that the ink started out dark and rich and then fade (like the ball stopped picking up ink or something) as you went down the page, but I don’t have that impression with this pen.

There’s nothing fancy about these pens except that they’re shiny. It’s simple, plastic, with no bells or whistles. The gold and silver hexagonal barrels have no padding or ergonomic grip – which does lead to fatigue if you’re do a tight grip on pens like I do. But for a simple pen, it’s quite handy and nice. I would like to have a few boxes of each color on hand to have backups. I only have the one of each and I don’t want to use them up before I can find replacements.

The numbers:

1. How does it work?0.5 It’s decent. No frills. No padding. Ink can be a bit clumpy and will smear if you’re not careful (and/or left handed).
2. Grip and feel1 – It’s an inexpensive, plastic, no frills pen. The grip and feel is hard plastic. But you’re not buying this pen for the grip, let’s be honest.
3. Material1 For an inexpensive plastic pen, it’s solidly built. The cap and barrel are secure. The logo doesn’t wear off easily.
4. Overall Design1 -It’s a classic BIC pen that hasn’t changed in decades. It is what it is.
5. Price Point0.5 – These are going to be more expensive than they should be because they’re vintage and you have to find them.

4 out of 5 Bronze Pencils

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[Write the Story] Students Take on a Challenge

Posted by reudaly on July 7, 2017 in Writing |

Prompt: Students Take on a Challenge

Words: masquerade, gang, allege, double, lucky, tea, personality, parasite, class

Story

Kim Carver rubbed her temples because whacking herself in the head until she saw double wasn’t an option. Somehow, she drew the short straw and was “elected” class sponsor of prom. Yay.

“Ms. Carver! Ms. Carver! We’ve decided on a Masquerade Ball! ” The gang of unruly teenagers bounced up and down before her desk, almost inducing a hairspray and blonde blur of vertigo.

Kim took a deep pull off the tea mug that some might allege contained more than the custom blend she purchased from a local business, but she wasn’t that lucky. “Are you sure this time? It’s the fourth theme you’ve presented. Do you really want to take this one to the principal?”

Let them! It will make it so much easier.

Shut up Kim smiled tightly. “If you really want to do a masquerade, we’ll do that.”

So began months of wrangling, meetings, contracts, and introduction after introduction of one insane idea after another. It’ll all be over. It’ll all be fine. It’ll be glorious!

By May, Kim wanted to strangle all the “personality” out of the prom committee, but she kept the urge contained. The masquerade concept went over better than anticipated despite fears of identity and safety issues. The energy of the room even seemed…subdued as Kim wandered the dance with a touch to an arm here and there.

Ah, that’s better. The parasite riding her brain manifested and feasted young energy with none the wiser. Just part of the costume.

Word Count: 247

Written: 6/20/17

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[Writer Post] Is it Wednesday or Monday (Again)?

Posted by reudaly on July 5, 2017 in Writing |

Days are confusing this week with the holiday being on Tuesday. It’s kinda like there are two Mondays – but it’s not a pen review day (though it did get me looking up something to help organize pens, though it’ll never be on the same level ever to Jimmy. He has a blog binder for his pencil collection). But that’s not what Wednesdays are for (and darn it, it’s WEDNESDAY – not Monday, Part 2).

So, what’s going on with me? Well… first I had too much Day Job Brain, and not enough Creative Brain. Then there was a minor resurgence of Creative Brain with not enough Day Job Brain. Now, I’m trying to get to some kind of brain balance. I’m between deadlines EVERYWHERE – so there’s that (not really helping but now I can play with some projects, still be productive, and get that equilibrium back). It’s definitely a mark that the chaos of the last couple of months may be finally, finally coming to an end. Focus is a real thing, darn it!

Celebrated “Gotcha Days” for Loki and Freya. We adopted Loki seven years ago on July 4th and Freya two years ago on July 2nd. Main reasons are 1) long weekend (ish) to integrate into family; 2) it was about three months after the passing of elder pets; and 4) it’s kinda cool to give the freedom of a forever home to a critter on Independence Day (ish).

Saw Despicable Me 3 on Sunday. Those goofy movies make me happier than they probably should, but I do love them. Steve Carrell is one of the few “modern” SNL actors that I actually appreciate his work overall. He’s crazy talented in a variety of ways. I don’t necessarily LIKE Angie Tribeca but I appreciate what they’re doing with it and how they’re doing it. And Gru is an awesome character with growth and depth. It’s more than Minions (though they’re awesome, too). It’s a cute movie, go see it.

So now we continue to move forward. To commit words on paper – even if it’s editing what I already have and trying to make new words. Or, as in what happened yesterday – typing stuff into the computer. It’s all part of the process. This weekend is going to be busy, but it’s all around home. No more travel until the first week in August. YAY!!!! I was never happier than when the suitcases got put away.

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[Pen/Pencil Review] Pentel EnerGel RTX American Flag Pen – Black Ink

Posted by reudaly on July 3, 2017 in Review, writing instruments |

This week’s pen review goes back to Pentel and another version of the Ener-Gel. This one is a 0.7mm retractable a holiday specific Amercian Flag Pattern for the 4th of July that I picked up as an “impulse” buy at the checkout at Office Depot because 4th of July…

I’ve been pleasantly surprised by this pen, I’ve mentioned my tendency for retractables on the work desk. This is one. This one is also part of the Recycology line – so, about 80% recycled materials go into making this pen. It’s a good size – 5.75″ retracted, and 6″ with the point out. The diameter is wide enough to be comfortable, but not overly wide and has some ergonomic cushioned on the barrel.

The barrel is white plastic base with the flag pattern for a fun, patriotic feel. The ink is basic black. The Ener-Gel ink is a does dry quickly, but it is a gel based ink, so there’s a drying factor on slicker paper. The 0.7mm metal tip gives a decent line – it’s not as fine as I typically love, but it’s not broad and gloppy. It’s easily legible and quick drying. The barrel has a blue panel with enough transparency to see ink level. It’s also refillable.

The numbers:
1. How does it work?0.5 It’s decent. No frills. The ink is bold and the roller smooth. There can be some smearing, but it’s liquid ink. It happens, especially on slick paper. It does dry quickly, but needs drying time.
2. Grip and feel1 – It’s an inexpensive, plastic, no frills pen. It has a grip that’s pretty comfortable. 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 basic retractable liquid gel ink pen. It’s refillable or disposable. It is what it is.
5. Price Point0.5 – I got this at the Office Depot checkout. It lists on the Office Deport site for $3. I don’t think I paid that? I think it was $1.99 at the cash register. But it’s one of the more expensive ones

4.0 out of 5 Bronze Pencils

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[Write the Story] A Scientist Makes an Unexpected Discovery

Posted by reudaly on June 30, 2017 in Writing |

Prompt: A Scientist Makes an Unexpected Discovery

Words: parallel, informal, crude, expand, popular, unlikely, analyst, replacement, cell, chest

Story:
“Eureka!”

“Seriously, Dylan? Every time?”

Dylan grinned. “Only when we make a discovery, Rain.”

“And…what exactly have we discovered, Dylan? The perfect amount of cream and sugar in your coffee? Because as popular as that would make us, I don’t think it’s eureka worthy. And it’s unlikely we can use it as a replacement for rent.”

Dylan waved Rain off with a nonchalant salute. “You worry too much. We are on the path to a major breakthrough. Take a look in the microscope. You’ll see.”

Rain gave him a side eye as she sidled past to the scope in the informal lab. She adjusted the dials to study the cell structure and pulled back. “That’s…are you…?”

Dylan’s grin widened, and he puffed out a breath. “It’s crude for now, but with some work and a good analyst…”

“Hey! I’m your analyst and don’t you forget it.” She poked him in the chest. “We have to expand the sample size, run parallel experiments. We have a long way to go.”

“But think about the implications! If Kryptonite is really real? We will go down in history books!”

“Just because we watched the degradation, doesn’t mean it’s Kryptonite.” Rain stared at Dylan.

“Oh, yes. It does.”

“Dylan, where did you get that blood?”

“It’s mine.”

Word Count: 213

Written: 5/30/17

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