Welcome to Texas, we’re in frantic preparations for the possible “Icemeggedon” that could occur on Friday. The Dallas/Fort Worth area of Texas isn’t quite as bad as Birmingham was when I lived there. Here there’s just a run on water, milk, bread, firewood – you know the essentials. In Birmingham, that threat induced grocery frenzy as well as people getting out and crashing cars into each other. Texans at least wait for stuff to hit before doing major property damage.
What has that got to do with writing? Beats me. There could be an “Icemeggedon” plot bunny in there somewhere. Something suitable for SYFY, perhaps, though nothing beats Sharknado, everything else just pales in comparison. It’s kinda obvious I’m well into “Squirrel” brain. I have been working on the novel rewrites for the book I wrote in college. It’s a challenge.
I’m getting my calendar set up for next year. I have three confirmed conventions – ConDFW, SoonerCon, and FenCon. I have paid money for tables at SciFi Expo and Dallas Comic Con (I think those are set, but there’s still some ambiguity, so technically tentative, but I think those are good.)
And now I’m also contemplating ways to make more money at this writing thing. Monetizing the blog is tough, not sure how/if I can do that. I know I need to get the chapbooks finalized and up on Amazon and anywhere else. I’m still struggling with how to make the e-book transition – the conversion itself. That’s something I probably need someone to sit down with me and do the step-by-step. You take this file, use this program to do “X”, and then upload to sites Y and Z. I can get the technology – it’s finding it and USING it that’s kicking my behind.
And of course, there’s just the whole “Write MORE, dagnabit” thing. Working on that. There’s stuff out. I’m still waiting on several publishers/editors to get back to me on stuff. I’ve been procrastinating the publisher pokage. I am giving them all the benefit of the doubt that stuff is still under consideration. But I’m ready for good news and hard work.
So, suggestions on monetizing or epub? I’m all pixels and thought processes.
Today’s pen review starts the pseudo-traditional red and green ink posts. This is also another Pilot Fountain pen – The Petit1 in Apple Green in a fine nib.
I want to say I loved this little guy, but I can’t. I’m sorry, Pilot, it could be this one pen, but that’s all I have to go on. And it’s not the size. It is small – only 4″ capped and ~ 5.25″ with the cap posted. It is long enough to be useful and comfortable. It’s even a decent diameter. That’s not the problem.
The problem is with the ink system. Part of it is my fault, I took on the Apple Green. I love green, but I should’ve known the ink would be too light for my tastes color-wise. And that would’ve been an issue – if I could actually get the ink going, which I kinda did once, but never again. I have managed to get some ink on my desk just not on paper.
The system is designed to be pretty easy, I guess. But first, there’s the proprietary ink cartridge. There’s nothing wrong with it, except for the fact you have to buy THEIR ink for this. Then there’s a little weird yellow cap that supposedly fits with this scoop thing coming out of the nib. Except, I see nothing secure, no ink flow, and what has come out of the cartridge, hasn’t made it much to the stainless steel nib.
It could be that something was cut wrong on this particular pen, but I’m not using this one. I can’t get it to work, and though I’m not the most experienced fountain pen user in the known universe, I’m not completely inept. I didn’t even get it to work long enough for the writing sample. I followed as many directions as I could – since the label is in Japanese, but the pictograms were fairly straight forward. Sorry Pilot, I wanted to like this one, but maybe next time. At least with a $3.80 price point on JetPens, I’m not out a major investment. There is that.
1. How does it work? – 0.0 – It doesn’t – at least not for me. I can’t write with it at the moment, so yikes…
2. Grip and feel – 1 – For what it is, it has a surprisingly nice grip and feel. It’s short, but well-balanced and has a comfortable diameter. There are a couple of edges leading to the nib, but avoidable.
3. Material – 1 – It’s plastic and stainless steel. It is what it is. Refillable, but inexpensive.
4. Overall Design – 0.0 – It’s a good design with bad function. I can’t tell you how it will last since I haven’t gotten it to work.
5. Price Point – 0.5 – It’s just under $4 on JetPens. It is refillable, which would make it more affordable if I were willing to throw more money at this thing to investigate why it doesn’t work. I’m not. I’m really sorry I spent the $3.80 on as it was, but such is the life.
I give it 2.5 out of 5 Bronze Pencils
Happy Day After Thanksgiving. I hope everyone is enjoying their Good Food Hangovers. I don’t have a spotlight planned for today. I apologize. So today’s spotlight is all of YOU. I am so thankful to all of you.
I don’t know who all reads my blog – whether it’s the pen review segment, the writing segment, this one, or some combination – but y’all are the best. I can’t do any of this without you because then I’m just talking to myself online. So thank you for not letting me talk to myself in “public” as it were.
I wish you all a joyous holiday season with as little stress and strain as possible. I’m going to go forward for the remainder of this year and into the next trying to give you some good content, hopefully introduce you to some people you may not have encountered before, and totally continue to indulge in my love of all thing writing instrument. Because I giggle so hard when someone comes up to me and says, “I found this crazy pen and the first person I thought of you.” (Yes, it’s happened, and I LOVE it, keep it up.)
I know this seems like a cheesy cop out, but I really do appreciate you, the reader. No writer would be anywhere if no one read what we wrote. I wouldn’t be anywhere without every single one of you – readers, colleagues, friends, family, complete stranger who’s only not been met yet. And if you have any suggestions for spotlights, let me know. I’ll check ‘em out.
In the US, it’s Thanksgiving week, but no matter where you are, know that I’m thankful for all of you.
Saw a link on Facebook today that SFWA has raised its pro-rate pay requirement, starting July 1, 2014, to 6 cents/word for short fiction (up from 5 cents/word). Woo. This after it’s been 9 years since that raise.
It makes me sad. Mostly because there are those who believe markets will step up to meet the new criteria, but I hold no such belief. I can hope that publishers will step up to pay their writers a living wage for a century ago, but I have a feeling there’s just going to be a bunch of downgraded markets – what few are left anyway. But there’s a reality to face.
There are reasons I am not (in some minds) considered a “professional” science fiction writer. I’ve had 1 (so far) qualifying sale in my more than 10 years of publication (and that was this year). It’s not because I’m not good. It’s not because I don’t sell. It’s because that “Just sell something to
Doesn’t mean I don’t try. I still send a lot of my stuff to those markets first before heading down the market list. And don’t think this is a complaint or that I’m giving up, I’m not. I’m going to be the best darned “semi-pro” (in many frames of mind) author I can be until I can crack that barrier to be considered “professional” by SFWA standards (both long and short form).
Why? Not because I have a burning desire to be a SFWA member – because honestly, I don’t. I’ve talked about that before. But because there are a lot of the larger regional conventions that are being inundated by writers wanting to promote books, and in order to keep their rosters manageable have to impose some qualifications – many times that means SFWA qualifications. I have no problems with small press, independent press, or traditional publishing – I’ll work with anyone, and I will keep writing.
But if you’ve ever wondered why so many of your favorite authors take so long to write books or stories, look at what’s considered a “pro” rate – and what a lot of readers thinks is “too much” for an ebook (I’m sorry, 99 cents for a FULL BOOK is a joke argue with me if you will) – and realize your favorite author has to survive, so probably has at least one other job besides writing just to make ends meet.
So give thanks that your favorite author cares enough about his/her craft to make these sacrifices to produce the stories and books you love when you’re giving thanks for everything else, and consider buying a couple more books, stories, or collections this holiday season. It’ll make everyone’s season a little brighter all around.
One more from the Big Box O’ Pentel from so many moons ago. This is the Pentel Sign Pen in red ink.
According to the Pentel Website, this pen has been around for 50 years (wow, 1963 was a pretty powerful year). These pens are also touted as the “original fiber tipped pen”. But that also tells you something about it – it’s a “felt tip” pen which is one of my least favorite types of pens. I’m not dissing fiber/felt tip pens. They have their places in the grand scheme of things. And I do get “in a mood” for them every so often, but they’re not high on my list.
This pen runs about 5.25″ 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 0.25mm – which is a bold line – good for what the name implies – making signs or when you need your writing to be truly noticed. The red 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.
The sign pens are part of the Recycology lines – in the primary colors. The “fashion” colors are not. These pens come in a wide range of colors, but I have red. I’ve used this at work for things that needed to be bold. I’m careful with it, as I would be with all fiber tips, I don’t want to mush the point, and the point is big enough that that could be an issue.
Yet, overall, if you’re an artist, or someone who likes a bold fiber tip? This is something you should definitely check out. Or if you’re a teacher looking for a bright grading pen, check this out, it might work for you. They’re reasonably priced and been around a goodly while. I don’t think you’ll be disappointed – they come in a wide assortment of options.
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 – – 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 – 1 – They run $1.50-2 apiece on the Pentel website – and they are available (at least in primary colors) at most Big Box office supply places (by the dozen), and at art supply stores like Asel Art Supply. You can find these anywhere.
4 out of 5 Bronze Pencils
This Friday is a historical day in US history – and a pivotal day in the lives of many, like my parents. Today is the 50th Anniversary of President John F. Kennedy’s assassination. There are lots of memorials and news coverage and events happening to commemorate this day in history. I’m tempted to have the rebroadcasting of the original footage running this afternoon while I work, but I don’t know if it’s a good idea.
I’ve heard a couple of stories by people who were there on TV and the radio this morning. And the emotion that is still there after all the decades chokes me up. The possibility of crying at work…that’s never really a GOOD idea. And yet, there’s a part of me that wants to experience what my parents did. They were teenagers at the time. My uncle’s birthday is tomorrow (Happy Birthday, Uncle Alec), and this profoundly affected them. Though, a bit of trivia I noted (thanks to Facebook), on that day when a lot of things changed in the US for the worse – a very good thing happened, my friend, Frank Zepp was born – now there’s some cosmic Circle of Life stuff there.
This is a Big Deal. A lot of commentators are calling the Kennedy Assassination the event that killed US Innocence. I’m not a historian. I don’t even play one on TV, so I have no idea if that’s the case or not – but it doesn’t ring false – it’s still a major event in US history. And for the folks who are dissing Dallas for it? We don’t condemn other cities for one single event that occurred in your town – so stop it. No one person or city is defined by a single event – but a lifetime of experience.
Now, for more fun 50th Anniversary. This weekend is also the DR WHO 50th Anniversary. It’s not many franchises in entertainment that can boast the same kind of longevity – but I’m gratified to find out that Science Fiction tends to have legs like that. Shows and Universes like DR WHO are vital to our creative minds and souls. I’m proud to be part of this genre in my own way.
So no matter which (or both) anniversaries you’re observing this day/weekend, I wish you peace and some joy.
This weekend I had a “reading” weekend. I went offline and read books. It was GLORIOUS. My husband and I do this a couple of times a year – usually in East Texas in a place that has intermittent cell signal – this time simply at home. In about a 48-hour period, I can get through about 2 books (or the equivalent). Did I mention it’s GLORIOUS. All writers should have some days like this, in fact, all writers should be readers – and don’t let anyone tell you otherwise.
I started out finishing the back half of Witchery: A Ghosts of Albion Novel by Amber Benson and Christopher Golden. This has historical horror/fantasy. Dude, if you haven’t figured out I’m a total Amber Benson fan girl by now? Buckle up. She’s seriously the type of writer I want to be (and am working on). Benson’s got range. The Albion books are dark and creepy (and a smidgeon on the adult side), they’re magical horror. She’s done darkish children’s books (Totally recommend Among the Ghosts), and the humorous overtone tones to the Calliope Reaper-Jones books, yeah. There’s something awesome about not being pigeonholed into one style…and that’s what I want to do/be is someone who has the ability and opportunity to WRITE. ALL. THE. THINGS.
Then I read the last book of the Morganville Vampire Series, Daylighters by Rachel Caine. Contemporary Paranormal Young Adult. . I’m not saying a lot about this because I know a lot of you may not have finished it yet. I’ve been a fan of this series for its entire run. I’ve made various Barnes and Nobles dig the books from the back on release day. I know Rachel. I knew she’d end the series well, but not how she would do it. And OMG… I devoured this book, almost in a single sitting, but not quite. And it was a darned good wrap up – with enough openings for “reunions” down road, or revisits. But still with a solid, “It is Finished” feel. Thank you, Rachel, for an amazing adventure. We can’t wait for the Web Series
And finally, I’m about 1/3 the way through J. Kathleen Cheney’s Debut Novel, The Golden City. And yes, I do realize I read these in alphabetical order by author. It wasn’t completely intentional… this is another historical fantasy piece (not sure how much “horror” it might turn out to be). But so far, I’m really enjoying this book (and not simply because Cheney is a friend of mine), I’ve tried to read other books about merfolk and selkies and such and didn’t finish. This one I’ll finish, even with it being alternate universe Portugal and only being able to “guess” at some of the pronunciations. But I really am looking forward to seeing where this story goes – and am already planning on buy the second book when it comes out.
So, in a haphazard way, I did all the parts of a series this weekend. Cheney’s is the beginning of a series, which has good roots – and I witnessed her journey, she did her research on the world. Check it out. Though the Albion Novels are more a sequence than a series, it felt like it was still in the middle of stuff. If Benson and Golden ever do more (which I doubt since it’s been years) in this universe, I’ll check out their further adventures. And the last Morganville hurrah. It was a good weekend.
Today’s pen review is the Pilot V-Pen disposable fountain pen in a Medium Point nib, which is similar to the Varsity, but different. I’m pretty sure I got these from JetPens, since the Varsities are ones more likely to be found in US stores.
The Pilot V-Pen fountain pen is a great little “starter” fountain pen for those who might want to test the waters on fountain pen – either coming back to or for the first time. These type of disposable fountain pens let you get a feel for how the nibs and inks work without a major investment or fear of losing the pen – and without much risk of mess.
The V-Pen fountain pens come in an array of colors but I stuck with red, blue, and black – the classics. I’m not sure what the differences are between the V-Pen Disposable and the Varsity. The V-Pen disposables run about 5.25″ capped and nearly 6″ with the cap posted. The stainless steel nibs run to the finer side, so they’re a comfortable size for either straight writing or calligraphy, if you’re in to that kind of thing. The ink does flow pretty smoothly through the nib.
These pens have liquid fountain pen ink encased in a plastic barrel with clear sections to see the ink levels. In the truest sense of disposable, they’re not refillable. Being a liquid ink, there is drying time involved to the ink and some smearing, if you’re not careful. The no frills design of the pen is still fairly well balanced and comfortable.
1. How does it work? – 1 – It is what it is – a disposable fountain pen. It’s the “Bic Stick” of fountain pens. But the nib is narrow enough for every day writing, yet wide enough for some “fancy” work, and the ink flows smoothly.
2. Grip and feel – 0.5 – The grip is plain with no attempts at ergonomics. There’s a ledge between nib and barrel that can dig into your finger in long-term use.
3. Material – 1 – It’s plastic and stainless steel. It’s what it proclaims to be. A disposable fountain pen.
4. Overall Design – 0.5 – There could be some nods to comfort, but it’s not bad for what it is. The clip seems a bit weak, but it’s plastic, like the rest of it.
5. Price Point – 1 – The VPen is only available online, and runs a bit more than the Varisty, but at less than $4 a piece, it’s a great way to try out fountain pens before investing in a much more expensive piece.
I give it 4 out of 5 Bronze Pencils
Friday spotlight day… huzzah, mostly because it’s, well, Friday. And today I feel like extolling the virtues of my long and abiding love of Minions – in all their forms.
Minions are unsung heroes in the world. Whether you’re talking sidekicks to Superheroes, helpers to Super Villains, without minions nothing would get done. Minions are also the poster children for ability vs. looks. Most of the “important” minions in literature are very capable but seem to have some “flaw” that makes them unsuitable for “Hero” or “Villain” status.
Minions have their own “superpower”, so to speak, and that’s the ability to steal scenes (and sometimes whole franchises) from the main character. The most obvious being Despicable Me Minions. Though Gru is an amazing Evil Villain Turned Hero, his Minions have taken the world by storm enough that the sequel teaser trailers were simply the Minions being silly. It didn’t matter what the plot turned out to be, and in December of 2014, Illumination Entertainment is giving them their own movie. Gru and the Girls will play pivotal roles, but there’s no masking the focus of the movie.
What, in my mind, makes minions from the classic Igor to Despicable Me awesome stems from my love of sidekicks. These are often character actors giving power (and often the comic relief) to the main plot and actors. They give the story depth and humanity – and many times have to be highly skilled actors to give what could be incidental characters life.
I didn’t say minion characters are disposable. On the contrary, without minion characters nothing happens. The hero is bogged down in detail that makes for long, boring sections of story. As with any organization or organism, there are everyday minions without whom nothing gets done, and we all relate to them because at some point in time, we (most of us anyway) are or were a minion to someone else – we know what it’s like to not get the credit for effort, and can completely relate to the overworked, underappreciated characters.
Though it does help when they’re funny, loveable, and makes you want to love them and pet them and call them George. So, I’m calling today “Hug a Minion Day” – Minions rock. The world would be a much darker – and truly less productive (if functional at all) – without them.