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[Spotlight Post] Old Friends Rediscovered and Retiring Icons

Posted by reudaly on December 19, 2014 in Life, Spotlight |

This is NOT a memorial post – dadgumit. It’s almost Christmas and I want happier topics. I got them in the last couple of days.

I wish Terry Dorsey all the best in his retirement. Dorsey worked for KPLX when my dad started working in radio in Dallas/Fort Worth. Dad came to DFW to work for KPLX in 1986. The station was in Arlington at the time. Dorsey and KPLX split when KPLX moved its studios to Dallas. Dorsey went to work for the “competition” KSCS, where’s he’s been ever since. Dorsey is an icon in this area. His retirement will leave a hole, but we all wish him well in this new phase of his life.

Last weekend, my folks took in the Christmas show at the Arlington Music Hall, which got me thinking about an old friend. Randy Wills was the last music minister I ran sound for at McKinney Bible Church. I have thought about him off and on for several years, but in all the life changes, we’d lost track of him.

So color me surprised when I turn on the morning news (WFAA – Channel 8) and… there he is. He was (as I would always remember him) standing behind a keyboard (piano). He was playing with The Light Crust Doughboys – a Western Swing band playing Elvis-inspired Christmas music.

I was almost late getting ready for work catching the segments they played before commercials, but it was nice to see him looking well and happy on television. Hopefully we’ll have the chance to reconnect at some point. Randy’s good people.

So, hey, look! Good news this week before Christmas!

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[Writer Posts] A Slew of Concerning Contracts

Posted by reudaly on December 17, 2014 in Writing |

I really have to start writing these things the day before… Then they won’t be late and/or rushed.

In the last week, I’ve been made aware of a clause that’s been showing up in things like a DC comic related competition, an HBO Game of Thrones competition, and something else I saw today that I can’t remember (because…stuff).

It’s this…
(ii) waive all moral rights in the Submission which may be available to you in any part of the world and confirm that no such rights have been asserted;

Until Writer Beware explained it and I saw it mentioned elsewhere, I never knew about this clause, but you can bet your sweet bippy that I’ll be looking for it from now on.

What this clause means whoever is asking you to sign the contract not only doesn’t have to credit you the creator, they can put someone else’s name on it. Why? What’s this point? No.

It’s not bad enough that companies are trying to grab rights – HBO’s contract to all rights in perpetuity (yeah, NEVER AGREE to “in perpetuity” – you will NEVER EVER get that piece back again – it no longer belongs to you. You can’t do ANYTHING with that).

OH… DUDE… the third place was a literary magazine Nick Mamatas mentioned that took rights like this but at least offered something insulting like $50. At least it was payment – and then was snarky about it to Mamatas on Twitter (brilliant move).

The point is, read the contracts. Listen to people who’ve been around this block a few times, and if you don’t understand something – ASK. Because if you don’t understand what you’re signing, it can can come back to bite you. I didn’t know about this “moral” thing until this week (it showed up THREE TIMES!), I know about it now – and I won’t sign off on it.

It’s a GI JOE moment… “And knowing is half the battle… GO JOE!”

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[Pen/Pencil Review] A Replica Blue Fountain Pen – Piston Fill

Posted by reudaly on December 15, 2014 in Review, writing instruments |

Like I said last week, I really need to learn to do these the night before. Monday’s are getting away from me. We had Day Job Departmental Holiday Dinner. Jimmy got to meet the new group of people I work with. But that means I’m woefully behind. This is one of the last pieces from the Dallas Pen Show. It’s (I think) a replica fountain pen.
The pen has a blue plastic body with gold accents. The clip is sturdy with ridges. The gold plated nib is a wide fine point or thin medium nib. The pen is a piston-fill type with a twist fill in the base of the pen. The cap is a threaded cap and posts relatively securely. The pen is about 5.5″ long capped and about 6″ long posted.
I put Private Reserve DC Supershow Blue ink in it. It was fine for a while, but I think I just have issues with piston fill pens. This one leaked all over me. I’ve gotten it cleaned up, but as I was getting the ink to flow again and testing the piston again, it dribbled.
It wasn’t expensive – $10 – so that’s not a bad price, but I’m not a fan of inking my fingers. Again, it could be “user error” or it could be a function of piston fills that have a better opportunity to link.
The numbers:

1. How does it work?0.5 – It works. I think the line should be darker, but it does work.
2. Grip and feel1 – It’s a good length with decent balance. The threads could dig in, but for an inexpensive fountain pen, it’s not bad.
3. Material1 – It’s blue plastic with a clear reservoir to see the ink. It’s inexpensive plastic with metal accents.
4. Overall Design0.5 – Even if it’s user error, the leaking thing is an issue. I don’t know if I stored it wrong or have bad piston fill karma, but the leakage is a deal breaker.
5. Price Point0.5 – It’s an okay price point – $10 isn’t bad for a piston fill fountain pen, but I wouldn’t do it again.

That’s 3.5 of 5 bronze pencils.
Pencil 2.5

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[Spotlight Post] The Rogues – Hellbound Sleigh

Posted by reudaly on December 12, 2014 in Review, Spotlight |

This was originally posted on Celtic Music Magazine.

When The Rogues’ Hellbound Sleigh came up for review I jumped at it – even though I’m generally a stickler for not listening to Christmas music before Thanksgiving. This, I thought would be a fun addition my Christmas music collection. I figured it would be weirdly irreverent with the title. I was surprised.
Apart from the title track, Hellbound Sleigh is mostly a lovely and lively collection of familiar Christmas and Holiday songs – some stand alone, others as part of medleys. Most are instrumental with pipes and bagpipes, violins and drums – along with other instruments that do give these time-honored classics unique elements. For the traditional Celts, and because there aren’t that many New Year’s songs, The Rogues appeal to all with “Ros’ Hogmanay”.
The Rogues 2
I have friends who are bellydancers. I can totally see this album as the base of a holiday-themed dance routine for them. There’s a tribal sense to the instrumentals that make you want to move to the rhythm. That’s not so hard to imagine since there are tracks like “March, Pat-a-Pan and Reel” and “Christmas Eve Reel/The Maple Leaf/Joy to the World” medley.
The Rogues
There are amazing – and different – combinations of songs on this album, too. I wouldn’t ever have considered melding “Jingle Bells” with “Good King Wenceslas”, but this works. It really works. To the point that I’m really looking forward to having this in my Christmas playlist just for the fact that it’s different and very intricate and cool. My church has a symphonic violin player – I’m very tempted to make him listen to “O Holy Night/Ave Maria” because it’s beautifully performed and haunting at the same time. The skill and musicianship is intricate and skilled.

If you’re like me and buy a new Christmas album each year, this is the one to get this year.

Artist: Band Website

Buy Album:
On iTunes
On Amazon

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[Writing Post] Oops.

Posted by reudaly on December 11, 2014 in Life, Writing |

I’m so sorry. I missed the Wednesday Writer Post.

I WISH I could say that I was working on the story I need to turn in this weekend. But alas, we were Christmas Shopping. This is the big/busy week prepping for holidays (and there’s still day job stuff going on).

I am about to input some notes on the story and hope some further feedback comes in before I turn it in. Then we wait and see if the editor likes the end result of the pitch.

For the new writers out there – Just because a PITCH is accepted, doesn’t mean the final STORY will be. I have high hopes, but no guarantees. We’ll just have to see. Then I move on to the next project. What that’s going to be, I’m not sure yet.

This is why I have a bunch of unfinished things… plot bunnies that didn’t play out completely at the time but suddenly decide it’s time to be written.

I also have a couple of novels that need finishing at some point.

So… I should go get some work done.

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[Pen/Pencil Review] Noodler’s Piston-Fill Liquid Ink Rollerball

Posted by reudaly on December 8, 2014 in Review, writing instruments |

I still have a couple of Dallas Pen Show pens to review. This week’s a liquid ink rollerball from Noodler’s that I picked up at the Dallas Pen Show. I want to say they were giving them away, but I may have bought it because I love the one from J. Herbin so much.
This one is different from the J. Herbin. It’s a piston-fill chamber instead of a cartridge. The piston is covered with a clear plastic twist on cap on the base end of the pen. The grip is black rubber sealed into the clear plastic barrel. It’s easy to see the ink levels. The cap is also clear with a threaded seal. The name of the company is etched into the metal clip.
The pen fills by dipping the metal roller ball tip into the ink about halfway up the black grip and twisting the piston on the base end. And that may be where I had a bit of “user error”. I filled the pen with Kraken Black – a Cryptid ink from Scribal Workshop. I either overfilled it or…something… because quite a bit of it leaked into the cap. Again, it might be my fault. Or not… there is a bit on the Noodler’s website that says if there are drops of ink in the cap to remove them with a cotton swab. It seems to come from the rubber grip between it and the point.
I rinsed the whole thing off to get it clean… and now I can’t seem to get ink to come out of the roller ball tip. The point is nice. It’s a relatively fine point, and would make a nice line if I could get some consistency out of it. But maybe I just need to dump the ink and try something else, because this isn’t working. I’m getting ink on my hands, not on a page. I’ve been trying to work with it, but I’m getting frustrated. It shouldn’t have this much of a learning curve.

I got it to work ONCE - for the writing sample. Then it started leaking.

I got it to work ONCE – for the writing sample. Then it started leaking.

The numbers:

1. How does it work?0.0 – I’m trying to get it work. It probably did the first time I used it, but now… I’m frustrated and have ink on my hands. It looks like it should be awesome. IF this was supposed to be used with ONLY Noodler’s Ink – they should’ve said so.
2. Grip and feel1 – It’s a good length and diameter. The rubber grip gives it some cushion and comfort.
3. Material1 – It’s a clear plastic demonstrator. It’s got a milled piston with a cover and a descent cap.
4. Overall Design0.5 – It should be awesome. I love the idea. But this one is failing between the leaking and the need to probably clean out the ink (that’s designed for fountain pens) and find something else to use in it. The fact that you’re locked into the piston fill – so you can’t even attempt a cartridge makes it less flexible than it could be.
5. Price Point0.0 – It’s a bit on the pricey side – the website says $14. Which I know I didn’t pay that at the Dallas Pen Show (and I’m glad I didn’t because right now… I’d be a lot more frustrated than I am). IF what I’m dealing with is user error…okay, but still, it’s a lot to pay for the HOPE that it’s going to work like I know it should.

That’s 2.5 of 5 bronze pencils.
Pencil 2.5

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[Spotlight Post] Farewell to an Old Radio Guy – Mike Doyle

Posted by reudaly on December 5, 2014 in Spotlight |

I’ve never intended this part of the website to be solely about memorials, but sometimes they come in groups. I found out this week someone else I knew passed away. He was a co-worker of my dad’s – and for a time, a co-worker of mine. His name was Mike Doyle. He was an old-school radio dude. When I knew him he was an engineer working with a particular station owner along with my dad. For a summer the three of us worked on a couple of transmitter sites in Gunter and Anna, TX (ask me about the angry Elvis cows one day).

Mike is partially responsible for a story I wrote first for Julia Mandala (submitted to A Hell of An Anthology), renamed by the awesome (and sadly late) Aaron Allston, and finally bought by David and Mary Gray last fall for 4 Star Stories.

“Queer Eye for the Dead Guy” came about during on long day working in a transmitter site. We were working with copper piping, which requires de-burring and cleaning. Mike Doyle – in his big, deep, Radio Guy Voice – declared “Debris and Detritus!” to which I replied, “The lesser known of the Greek gods.” And hilarity ensued – it was one of those times where we were hot and tired and it came out a lot funnier than it really was.

But… it was the Plot Bunny I needed to write the story for Julia, even though it didn’t make the cut for the anthology. It continues to be one of favorite stories. I’m glad it finally found a home with the Grays.

The Anthology From Hell: Humorous Tales from WAY Down Under


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So in honor of a man I used to know – I haven’t really heard from him in years. Mom couldn’t tell me what happened to him, just that he passed away – go read the story Mike Doyle helped inspire in a weird moment of humor.

A taste of the story:

“Hades! There you are!”

He froze — something most thought impossible in the Underworld — as the two annoying, minor gods approached from the Rivers. He turned and forced himself to smile through clenched teeth at the immaculately coiffed and attired twins. “Debris. Detritus. What can I do for you?”

“Do?” Debris cocked his head, puzzled.

“For you?” Detritus echoed. They looked at each other and laughed. “Oh, my Olympus, no.”

“It’s not what you can do for us, dear Hades.” Debris made a grand sweeping gesture. “But what we can do for you.”

“Oh, yes, Hades, Zeus sent us just in time. This place needs a complete makeover.”

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[Writer Post] Professionalism Not Just for Breakfast Anymore

Posted by reudaly on December 3, 2014 in Conventions, Writing |

Once more into the breach of Professionalism, really, folks, it’s not just for breakfast anymore. This was a new thing to me and was just… RUDE. I did a very, very small show this past weekend in East Texas. The upshot was I did meet some new folks and was able to spend a little time with Joe and Kasey Lansdale.
This was a SMALL show. About 15-20 authors set at tables in a rectangle along the perimeter of an open room – used to be one of those classic one-room schoolhouses. When I got there, some of the authors were setting up. I brought everything, but after one look at the room, I decided to not put up the tall banner – no one else had anything tall, and there wasn’t a lot of room behind the table (even though I had a corner). There’s a fine line between “Hey, check out the books” and “LOOK AT ME!!!!”

Apparently a small group of authors there were part of a cooperative or publishing group or something. They were situated in the three or four tables up from me. The woman next to me never introduced herself. The woman in charge of group didn’t like the way my neighbor set up her table – so the Head Woman rebuilt the neighbor’s table with a 2 foot tall wire rack with a 2 foot cardboard something on the top level and a cardboard display on the floor.
The wire rack was covered in cloth and angled toward the door to completely block any line of sight anyone might’ve had to my table from the other end of the room (or door). The floor display blocked access to half my books – so I had to redesign my table. And yes, I then put up the big floor banner (in the corner).

I made a passive-aggressive comment about standing up for most of the day. The woman didn’t even blink when she replied, “Well, you do that at these kinds of things anyway.” SERIOUSLY? Oh, and the neighbor? Had her grandson with her and he apparently spilled part of a beverage on the corner of my table (fortunately not on my iPad or books), but did stain my table cover – and PROBABLY swiped some of my promotional stuff (which if he’d asked I would’ve given).
Now, the overall vibe was welcoming – except for this particular group of women. And I’m not saying there’s anything WRONG with building up a table (Yard Dog does it all the time – comic book shows do it all the time), but you DON’T block line of sight to your neighbors. You don’t make it so the other authors can’t sell books, and you don’t make it so another author wants to find out who you are SO THEY NEVER WORK WITH YOU AGAIN.

It’s Wheaton’s Law. It’s the Church of Don’t Be an A-Hole. We’re all in this together.

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[Pen/Pencil Review] Speech & Thought Bubble Sticky Notes

Posted by reudaly on December 1, 2014 in Review, writing instruments |

I have awesome friends. They find me fun and unusual pens and other lovely things. These sets of sticky notes came from my friend, Meredith, and I wish I had more opportunities to use them – though when I get my novel edits, I think I’ll have ample opportunities.
These sticky notes came in two packages – one was a “thought cloud” pattern, the other a “talking bubble”. They’re really cute. Each package came with three notes pad. The thought clouds have blue line borders – each pad runs between 2.5″ and 3″ long and about 2″ long. The speech bubbles are plain white and run 1.75″ to over 3″ long and about as wide. Each pad contains 50 sheets for long-lasting sticky note fun.

The adhesive is kinda iffy and the paper is a little thin, so there’s some curling of the note, but not enough to deter from using them. But they really could use more adhesive on the back for more solid sticking, but they are novelties.
These are note pads I really want to use more of. This brand – kwik – doesn’t seem to be available any more, but you can get them through Amazon and other retailers from Kikkerland (a decent novelty office supply company). The kwik brand ran $3 a set – the Kikkerland seem more expensive. The ones I have were probably picked up at Half-Price Books (which sells a lot of this kind of thing). If you like novelty pieces, these are fun. If you find them for the kwik brand pricing, they’re even better. The Amazon price for the Kikkerland is more than I would pay, but that’s them, not these.
The numbers:

1. How does it work?0.5 – You can’t (and probably won’t) do EXTENSIVE note-takin on these, and the adhesive is small and not super sticky. But dang they’re cute.
2. Grip and feel1 – There’s no grip, that’s for the pens. The feel is kinda thin, but then it doesn’t bulk up what you’re adding notes on. They’re meant for charm and cute, that’s what they deliver.
3. Material0.5 – They are thin and could use some extra adhesive. Probably some sort of recyclable paper perhaps (without mentioning it).
4. Overall Design1 – They are awesome novelty sticky notes, especially for those who love comic book designs.
5. Price Point1 – These come at an awesome price – if you get this brand. The retail on them is $3, could’ve probably gotten them cheaper. Kikkerland is more expensive (but also probably can be found on sale).

That’s 4 of 5 bronze pencils.
Pencil 4.0

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[Spotlight Post] Judy Crider – In Memoriam

Posted by reudaly on November 28, 2014 in Life, Spotlight |

I’m going to round out this Thanksgiving Week with a sad note. As lovely as Thanksgiving was – we celebrated with family at our house (as has been the case since Jimmy and I were married) – it did end with some bad news – the passing of a friend. I’d like to tell you about her.

I started writing professionally about 2002, and started going to the regional conventions to promote those stories and meet more people. Some of the first people I met and who made me feel really and truly welcome in the Texas/Oklahoma Science Fiction community were the Lansdales (Joe and Karen) and the Criders (Bill and Judy).

Judy passed away on Thursday, November 27th about 11 am, according Bill Crider’s website. I didn’t find out until much later in the evening. It hit me quite hard. Judy came along with Bill to many conventions and was always pleasant, gracious, and kind to me and everyone I saw her come in contact with. She was also strong and funny. I knew she’d been battling cancer. She had her ups and down, but would still try to make some of the conventions – at least the local ones to them. I tried to ask about her if we didn’t see her. I was always glad to see her when she felt well enough to join us.

Joe Lansdale said lovely things about this beautiful woman on his Facebook page and it made me cry. Though, I’m glad she’s no long in pain. No longer has to battle her disease, even if it means the disease won – it was non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma. Cancer sucks. My heart goes out to Bill. I can’t imagine what he’s going through today, but I know our community will rise up to support him along with his friends and family, because that’s what we do.

But for now, we say farewell to Judy Crider. You will be sorely missed.

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