I am trying to figure out this week’s Spotlight Post. And instead of having no idea what to write about, I can’t narrow it down.
This weekend is Dallas Comic Con. They’re bringing in so many good guests. I talked about William Shatner last week. He’s just one… Richard Dean Anderson is another who’s coming in… I learned so very much from MCGYVER and The A-Team on being prepared. I may not be able to disarm a nuclear bomb with a paper clip and duct tape, but I did repair a lavaliere microphone with a binder clip.
Several members of the Star Trek: The Next Generation crew are on hand. And that show, that crew influenced my writing in ways I can’t even begin to fathom. I carry Brent Spiner’s Old Yellow Eyes is Back cd on my iPod.
Then there’s Nathan Fillion. Captain Mal and Richard Castle – all kinds of wow there. He’s just… Yeah. Joss Whedon brought us a great talent. Along with Adam Baldwin and a bunch of other folks.
And then, there’s me… Sharing the same recycled con-funky air. It’s going to be interesting. Come see us.
I know I’m kinda late today with the writer blog, but that whole crazy week thing continues. But Jimmy is safely in Kansas City for Spectrum Fantasy Art Live with Allen Williams and soon a whole slew of other amazing artists. Starting a bit tomorrow night and then for the run of the weekend, I’ll be at Dallas Comic Con - where I’ll be in the same room (at least on Saturday) as William Shatner and Richard Dean Anderson…
Now… for this week’s writer thing. There is a Bru about to completely go HAHAHAHA…brewing. I saw this article by David Gaughran come up a couple of days ago – and then picked up again today – which worked as a reminder. It’s this article about Penguin and Author Solutions.
It’s fallen off the radar some, but in July of 2012, Penguin bought Author Solutions. Author Solutions is one of the biggest vanity presses in the entire world. They have been high on the list of scams to avoid when warning new writers. Writer Beware has had Author Solutions on their lists for years because they have bilked writers out of money for a very long time under a lot of different names.
The hope/assumption was that when Penguin bought Author Solutions, Penguin would make it a legitimate business entity. That hasn’t happened. And in fact, according to the article – that links to a whole bunch of other articles – they are taking Author Solutions global and put one of their head guys on Penguin’s board.
And it’s not just Penguin – though they’re the biggest and most overt about owning a service that bilks writers from money instead of having the money flow to them. Always check your fine print. Make sure if you’re working with a publisher that YOU are not paying THEM.
This is the second time THIS YEAR we’re talking about a Big Six House not wanting to pay authors – the digital imprint contracts were the last one. We got those changed by talking about it. As the article states, no one seems to want to talk about this big ole plaid elephant in the room. We need to talk about it and run from it.
I apologize. Monday completely got away from me. There was no blog post. But I have a spiffy new order in from JetPens, and stuff coming in from Pentel.
I am also going to do an inventory what still needs to be reviewed from previous holidays, and I’m going to get organized and get a calendar (for my purposes) together so I can get back on track. My insane schedule ends on Memorial Day – I’ll simply go back to crazy.
Again, I apologize.
William Shatner has always been a fixture in my life. I grew up watching everything Star Trek: TOS with my dad. That’s just something we always did. I knew I had a “date night” with my dad (and Mom would probably come to) for the opening of every movie. We watched the reruns all the time – and though I was a McCoy fangirl – a lot of appeal of the show was Shatner’s Kirk.
Fast forward a few…cough…decades to more “modern times” and the world of social media. William Shatner helped launch a new social media outlet for Science Fiction folks – called MyOuterSpace. Now, honestly, I don’t spend nearly enough time there since I got the Day Job…heck I can’t keep up with Facebook and Twitter… but part of the mission of MyOuterSpace is to encourage creativity.
It was through MyOuterSpace that I did a contest – free, fun, etc – to write a script for a web-based animated series that would be voiced by Shatner (HIS OWN SELF) and Amanda Tapping. I lost track of the contest – until I thought to check back in. And good thing I did – I won one of the two categories. Now, I *think* that means eventually it’s going to be produced. Which would be awesome… it’s just as awesome to have something with my name affiliated with William Shatner.
It was even more awesome when my name was affliated with Shatner’s in an online (I never saw if it was in print) article about Shatner in VARIETY – as background talking about the site and the show, but still… it’s a brush with greatness. Just as it will be to be in the same room with him at Comic Con and probably nowhere near him – since he’ll be completely inundated with fans, photos, and handlers. And you know what? That’s okay. Because, let’s face it… It’s. WILLIAM. FREAKING. SHATNER. He is iconic. His presence will be felt whether two feet away for two hundred.
For those interested in the recipes I mentioned – I’d post pictures but there weren’t any left…
Gluten-Free Maple Shortbread Cookies
1 cup (2 sticks) butter – very softened but not melted
½ cup maple syrup
2 cups gluten-free flour – Brown Rice Flour worked well
¼ tsp salt
½ tsp xanthum gum (may be optional?)
Cream the butter and the maple syrup until close to smooth.
In a separate bowl combine flour, salt, and xanthum gum (1/4 tsp per cup of flour)
Mix flour mix with butter-syrup until well combined.
Drop balls of dough onto cookie sheets or baking stones and chill for AT LEAST 30 min.
Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
Bake for 10-12 minutes.
If you WANT – you can top the cookie with pecans or walnuts before chilling, but I think they’re fine without.
These have gotten some AMAZING reactions…
Gluten Free Peanut Butter Maple Cookies
1 c. peanut butter
1 tsp. vanilla
¾ c brown sugar
¼ cup maple syrup
Blend all ingredients well.
Form into balls or drop with spoon onto ungreased cookie sheet or baking stone.
Press to flatten (optional).
Bake at 350 degrees for 10-12 minutes.
So, it’s Wednesday… Blog day. And … yeah. What should I be writing? Anything. What am I writing… day job stuff. I have gotten lucky, some of the extra work that was creating the amazing amount of stress has been shifted off me. Now I’m just way frickin’ behind – instead of in the Pit of Despair of Seeing Daylight. So that’s a mental shift that will help in this last three weeks of astounding busy-ness and should get me back on track.
One of the things owed? RECIPES, yes recipes. But not just any recipes… MY recipes. Ones I’ve concocted after talking with people and thinking to myself…”Hmmm… that could work.” It’s how I’ve dealt with fiction. Fiction always starts with a “What if…” that’s the approach I took to my baking and apparently – if my Scarborough folk are any indication – successfully.
Seriously…let me have my moment of “Huh, this just turned into a writing topic” moment… So, I do like to bake. It’s more an art form than cooking – they’re so very different. Tweaking a cookie or brownie recipe may result in some random flavors, but you’re probably NOT going to make anything explode. That’s the way I think I try to approach writing. “Hey what if I tried adding THIS element to THAT theme? Would it be fun and novel or fall flat like a bad soufflé?” I’ve had both happen (not the soufflé – I’m not that adventurous. I’m Donna Noble not Clara Oswin).
But it’s the experimental process that counts. Taking bits of this and adding dashes of that to see where your story and characters take you…that’s the fun part. And you get to make mistakes along the way – that’s where some of the fun comes. At least with writing – or any kind of artistic endeavor – if you “mess up” your story recipe, it’s just some time and either paper or pixels. Those are easy to fix, but sometimes, the outcome might surprise you. You won’t necessarily get cookies out of it, but the results can be just as satisfying.
Okay, I think I’ve beaten this analogy into the ground, and I really do need to write up a couple of recipes before one of my friends hunts me down and hurts me.
It’s not COMPLETELY a rerun… but my opinion hasn’t changed, and I wrote this one before I did
the number system. And I apparently have raised my opinion by half a pencil from the last time.
This is an inexpensive “everyday” pen that can be used and abused but also refilled. The R.S.V.P. are 6 inches long capped, and 6.75 inches long with the cap posted, which make it the longest pen in its class. That’s a feature I like in a pen – I’m not a “stubby” pen person. The length actually helps it balance in my hand, and gives me enough length to fidget with when I’m …well, fidgeting.
The R.S.V.P.s come in a two point sizes – the fine point (0.7mm) and medium (1.0mm). I’m a fine point girl, which I’ve mentioned. These pens come in basic colors in fine – red, blue, black, green. The website SAYS the other colors – pink, light blue, violet – come in fine point, but I haven’t ever seen them. The ink is visible through the clear plastic barrel and is one of the largest reservoirs of ballpoint ink I’ve seen in a pen. These pens are completely refillable – for those who choose to do so.
What I like about the Pentel R.S.V.P. ball point pens is that even with the fine point, the ink doesn’t glob up as much as other ball point inks. The lines are dark and firm – except green. Green ball point ink has issues across the board. The rubberized grip is comfortable. I’ve used this pen for long periods of time without tiring. And the fact these are dirt cheap, available at all major retail outlets? If someone borrows a pen, I don’t have to worry about it never being returned.
I use the blue and black ALL. THE. TIME. at my day job.
1. How does it work? – 1 For an inexpensive, plastic, no frills pen, I do find myself coming back to it for the smooth line and fine point.
2. Grip and feel – 1 – It’s an inexpensive, plastic, no frills pen. It has some padding on the “ergonomic “ grip.
3. Material – 1 It’s okay for what it is. But it is what it is. A “knockabout” pen. One that you don’t mind disappearing or breaking. The green ink tends to be light, but the others rock.
4. Overall Design – 0.5 – Because the perfect pen doesn’t exist. There is some clumping and smearing with the ink – but not as much as other comparable pens. It’s really long for a stick pen – which if you fidget is a good thing, or if you have big hands. For dainty folk it could be too big.
5. Price Point – 1 – These are very affordably priced – and you can often find them on serious sale. AND you can get them in ones and twos as well as in multi-packs and bulk.
4.5 out of 5 Bronze Pencils
My friend, Meredith, is a bad, bad influence – but in a good, good way. She’s introduced me to music I wouldn’t have known to look for… The Piano Guys being one… Great Big Sea being another one. Tartanic I found on my own…
But… Great Big Sea… dude, check them out. Especially if you like loud, fast Celtic music. I can have Road Rage – their live album – on endless loop and be happy. And some of their songs totally ear wig. And though they do some very traditional Celtic music (I totally add in some Queen Anne’s Lace bits here and there), they do other stuff too.
And yes, I currently only have the ONE album – which will change next week because I’m being horribly hypocritical and buying their 20th anniversary compilation album from Amazon instead of them directly because 1) Jimmy has a Prime account, and it’ll be here about the same time as the new Piano Guys, and 2) I need the discount at the moment. But seriously – if you can at all, don’t be all instant gratification-y like I am, buy directly from the artist/publisher. And if I COULD, would’ve totally bought the $90 combo kick butt cd/dvd/swag combo pack.
This band is entertaining, talented, and… I’ll probably never get to see them live (I am so jealous of Tanya Huff for the opportunity she’s had – 5th row) because these guys are seriously Canadian. Not actor-type Canadian which means living in the US most of the time. NO… these guys only venture to the Northern States of the US – occasionally making it as far “south” as Colorado. Not sure if they think they’ll melt if they come any further south.
So, that Road Rage cd? Yeah, that’s my “Go-To” album. It’s the one I plug in lately – especially during Ren Faire season – for fast walking/exercise pace, for plowing through typing, and for stress relief when things are weighing down. It’s good. It’s catchy. It’s fun. And, if the pictures are any indication, not only are they easy on the ear – these guys are PHENOMENONALLY talented – both vocally and instrumentally – they’re easy on the eyes too. Not that I’ll have the opportunity to find out for myself any time soon.
Seriously, Tanya Huff? SO VERY JEALOUS. Great Big Sea. Check ‘em out. You won’t regret it. They make an accordion sound cool. Think about that.
Unfortunately, I have nothing to say today. That could be a good thing – that means nothing exploded in the writing/publishing world since last week. It’s a bad thing in that I’ve been so slammed with the Day Job I haven’t had a moment to THINK for over a week.
The good news is that some of that has been lifted off my shoulders. Maybe that means I can get back to having a moment to think and create again. And I need to be. I still have two different murder mysteries that I really need to be working on – or heck even developing. Time is ticking. And let’s face it, none of us are getting any younger.
It doesn’t help that I spent the last few days doing the half-joking thing of comparing myself to other people in other fields and calling myself a slacker. Don’t do that to yourself. *I* shouldn’t be doing that to myself. We all work at our own paces and at our own things. I just need to be doing what *I* do and let other people do what they do. I am smacking myself. I am NOT a slacker – though I could use a good deadline to make the time management thing happen more efficiently. But I am NOT. A. SLACKER. (It’s like Beetle Juice…say the name three times…)
Oh, an for those who write to music? If you don’t know The Piano Guys yet, you’re missing out. And Tartanic. These groups are instrumental for those who can’t have vocals. For those who CAN write to music with words? Great Big Sea. I love this groups so much – and don’t have NEARLY ENOUGH of their music. Just beware of typos, because I can’t type as fast as these guys sometimes play. But AWESOME music. Truly rocking, quality classical and celtic music.
Okay, and now back to work. Yeah…
This weekend, while visiting family in Kansas City, Jimmy and I took a quick break to head over to The Crown Center to visit a store we read about in Pen World Magazine – Pen Place. this store is tucked away across from a soap store and around be corner from a restaurant called Streetcar Named Desire.
But for the size, the store was remarkably well stocked and drool worthy. They had everything from Parker to Pilot – Monteverde to Mont Blanc.
After spending way too along sighing over the ACME novelties and the Visconti and Conklins I have little hope of affording anytime soon, Jimmy gave me a price range and I finally picked something out…of the Clearance case. A brand I have never heard go, but it’s a beautiful piece. It is a Libelle fountain pen. The box – which will rival any jeweler box – says Libelle New York.
This fountain pen has a German-made, iridium nib. It’s a medium, but writes on the fine side. The quick test was a smooth glide across test paper. It has good writ and length. The grip is chromed stainless steel with an attempt at ergonomics. But it fit comfortably and the cap twists to secure both posted and capped, do that puppy isn’t going anywhere.
The body is what finally got me – because even though it was on my upper price range ON CLEARANCE – I kept coming back to it. The cap is chrome accented black enamel probably a resin – the barrel is a finely textured rubber. Yes, rubber! It gives the barrel just a nice bit of give and fun feel while making it look sleek and unique and pretty darned awesome.
It comes with both a converter and a standard short ink cartridge, but I also picked up a pack of Private Reserve Avacado Green cartridges. and don’t worry, Jimmy got something too, I’ll need to get him to write that up.
1. How does it work? – 1 It’s a remarkably smooth and comfortable pen. The ink
2. Grip and feel – 1 – There’s something cool and weird and fun about the textured rubber on the barrel. It’s both comfortable and tickly. And the metal grip is tooled in such a way to make all the edges gentle – either shallow and fine or rounded. Nothing really digs in.
3. Material – 1 It’s well made. Iridium nib. Chrome over stainless steel hardware. The cap is a solid resin or good enamel over metal. That’s not chipping anytime soon. And there’s a solid – and shiny clip.
4. Overall Design – 1 -See all the things above. I fell in love. It’s the one that jumped into my hand and wouldn’t let go. It does come with a converter as well as taking the typical cartridge.
5. Price Point – 0.5 – It’s a luxury pen. On clearance it was $60. I think it was originally closer to $100. And you can get them from some of the nicer pen outlets, but I’m not having luck finding their website any more… bummer.
4.5 out of 5 Bronze Pencils