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[Spotlight Post] Aodan Coyne’s “If We Only Knew” Crosspost

Posted by reudaly on August 29, 2014 in Review, Spotlight |

This is a crosspost from Celtic Music Magazine. This one is an lovely Irishman, Aodan Coyne. Coyne plays with Socks in the Frying Pan but is debuting his first solo album.


Aodan Coyne is about to release his first solo album called If We Only Knew which feels like a very traditional, acoustic Irish music project. Coyne spends much of his time performing with Socks in the Frying Pan, but has also taken the time to put together this collection of songs.
Aodan Coyne Cover

According to the liner notes on the CD jacket, he says he chose these particular songs because he believed they were “written with conviction and honesty by the composers”. They were also son “themes which [he] connected with on some level”. Considering Coyne composed two of the tracks himself and arranged all ten tracks – you can feel the personal stake in this album.

Aodan Coyne 3
These tracks are simple, folk-feeling. There’s no over-processing. No “rock and roll” elements. This is skilled and lovely playing of traditional instruments – guitar, bass, bouzouki and bodhran with added uileann pipes and whistles giving this project that haunting yet lilting sound so associated with Irish music. It does help that one track is actually in either Irish or Gaelic – “Ta Me Mo Shui”. The rest – though no less lovely – are in English.
Aodan Coyne 2

Coyne’s voice is rich and melodic – and trained. You can tell on “The Wounded Hussar” which is the closest track to a cappella. But I think the track I like most is “If You Only Knew”, which is the last track – composed and arrange by Coyne – with him doing all the vocals. You can hear the Irish lilt in his voice and how skilled he is on the guitar as well.
Aodan Coyne 1
This may be Coyne’s first solo album, I doubt seriously it’ll be his last – let’s just say, it better not be his last. I’m anticipating a lot more music out this young man.

Artist: Aodan Coyne on Facebook and on YouTube

Buy Album: Release Date is scheduled for Mid-September 2014. Now available during live shows in the US.

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[Writer Post] Deadlines Approach

Posted by reudaly on August 27, 2014 in Life, Writing |

I’ve started this blog three times now and deleted it twice. I’ve been trying to figure out what I want to say – if anything this week. I’m writing. I’m revising. I may actually be on track for my Redheads deadline. But mostly I’m tired – truly looking forward to the (in the US) three-day Labor Day Weekend coming up.

FenCon is in high gear – which means panic and scurrying over details missed and making sure a bunch of other people have a grand old time. Many times meaning dropping everything and fixing something or arranging something or getting questions answered. But in about a month it will all be over – and fun will be had, but until then I’m in my “high stress” portion of my year.

So if I seem a wee bit frazzled you now know why. Deadlines. Lots and lots of deadlines. I have no energy for any other drama in fandom or social media (and there is). I’m just trying to keep my ducks from running off in all directions – there is no row. So fair warning… probably until October… short fuse.

Now I must focus and get back to work. Words to write. Things to do. And in a few hours, lunch with a friend. That’s something to look forward to.

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[Pen/Pencil Review] BIC Intensity Permanent Porous Point 0.5mm

Posted by reudaly on August 25, 2014 in Review, writing instruments |

This is one of the last finds on the last Office Depot run. These are the BIC Intensity permanent pens – fiber tipped in a 0.5mm fine point. These came in a five-pen multi-pack – two black, blue, green, and red.
The BIC Intensity permanent pens are kind of cool. They’re long – 5.5″ capped and 6.5″ cap posted. They’re on the narrow side when it comes to diameter – more like your basic stick pen than any kind of marker – but they are designed to be a pen, so that’s to be expected. They did make an attempt to round off the edges, but there are still edges to cut into fingers.
The porous point (or fiber tip) is a 0.5mm tip, which I love (thanks for making a “for real” fine point). However, being a porous point, there’s going to be the possibility of destroying said point over time. I can see that happening, especially if you’re heavy handed – like me.

The ink is dark and vibrant – including the green. Green is always the tough color. Too many times it’s not nearly as rich as I would like. This is pretty decent, especially for the fine line. The black, blue, and red are great, but they’re harder to mess up. The ink doesn’t smear on porous paper – it still takes a second to dry on glossier paper. True to its hype, it doesn’t bleed through paper, and is water-resistant.
Where you have to check the fine print? These are “permanent on paper”. Not PERMANENT. I thought I might be able to use them at work where I write on plastic bags. Nope. Smears right off. Doesn’t wanna. Have to keep using my Sharpies for that. And that’s when I noticed the “on paper” part of the packaging, but they’re still useful.
The numbers:

1. How does it work?0.5 – It works like it says it should, not like I thought it would. I shouldn’t knock it for the fact I didn’t read the packaging as well as I should’ve – but I am. The “permanent on paper” in on the back. Not on the front. When I see “permanent” I have certain expectations, and it’s more than “on paper”
2. Grip and feel0.5 – It’s a bit on the narrow side. There’s no ergonomics, and there are ridges to get in the way of long-term comfort. And though fairly well-balanced, these pens are long enough to be a touch unwieldy.
3. Material1 – They are what they are. Long, stick pens with no frills. They’re designed to be disposable, so they’re made that way.
4. Overall Design0.5 – I’m not a huge fan. I think they’re too long and a touch too narrow with no grip. I think “permanent” is an over-reach for a description. But they’re good porous point pens, if that’s what you’re looking for.
5. Price Point1 – They’re not expensive. The five-packs run between $5 and $6 which is just over a $1 apiece, which isn’t bad for the pen. They’re worth that – and you can get them in a variety of places.

That’s 3.5 of 5 bronze pencils.
Pencil 3.5

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[Spotlight Post] Before the Devil Knows You’re Dead

Posted by reudaly on August 22, 2014 in Review, Spotlight |

This is a crosspost from Celtic Music Magazine. This one is an Austin based Before the Devil Knows You’re Dead.

When this album and band came up, I had to check it out – and not just because they’re from Austin, TX. A band called Before the Devil Knows You’re Dead describing themselves as: Irish Punk Rock with bagpipes and balls? I have to know what this is, so I jumped on it.

Before the Devil Knows You’re Dead is a five piece whirlwind of Celtic Music. They’re about to release their debut album, Irish Goodbye, in September. They sent me some pre-release tracks to listen to – to get a feel for what this band is all about.
They’re loud. They’re fast. And they’re tight. This is NOT your traditional Irish music. This is raucous, irreverent and exhausting (in a good way). This is high energy, fast paced, well-played music that will get you moving. The vocals are raw and primal but skilled and

In the true tradition of Punk Rock, these songs are aggressive and rebellious with titles like “Bad Decision”, and” Rebel Songs” – it’s a clue we’re heading off the “traditional” Celtic music tracks. There are overtones of other styles, as well. “Kind of Wake” has a SKA feel (without the brass section) to me which I like. But they’re not just loud, tight, and raucous. Their song, “Samhain” is a haunting ballad with dark overtones. “Rebel Songs” is the other ballad-esque track with haunting lyrics. They also like to lure you in with a hint of tradition before taking off on a wild romp – like with “Russian Roulette” which starts out with classic bagpipes then kicks it up to eleven.

I can’t wait to hear the full album when they have it done.

Artist: On Facebook and Sonicbids
Buy Album: Release Date is scheduled for Mid-September, 2014.

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[Writer Post] Redheads, Hugos, and Resumes

Posted by reudaly on August 20, 2014 in Writing |

Wow. Wednesday. Hi, how are ya? Part of my brain really wanted to today to be THURSDAY – but I think it was because Tuesday was such a struggle that it felt like two days jammed into one. And it was “Real Life” stuff not writing stuff. Writing yesterday was…fine. Some days are like that – even when crap feels like it’s raining down on your head, you can still get words on paper.

The new Redheads is coming along. I’m past the halfway point, so it seems to pick up steam – that and I’m looking down the short barrel of the deadline. That always helps. Most of the way through the mid-point scene, which makes me happy – now to keep up the momentum. Though I do admit I’ve been dickering with a paranormal romance when I’m just not feeling the Redheads mojo. It happens.

Did find out over the weekend that I was mentioned in HUGO Award acceptance speech, which was way cool. The humbling part? My name was mangled in said speech. Hello, life, you’re cute. Congratulations to all the winners – and to all the nominees. It really is an honor to be nominated, so go you!

It's hard to get a good picture of Puppy Therapy. He keeps moving - I'm his favorite chew toy.

It’s hard to get a good picture of Puppy Therapy. He keeps moving – I’m his favorite chew toy.

And for the record, I did have a mini-meltdown yesterday. They happen from time to time. You won’t (I hope) ever hear me rant on about feed back or rejection of fiction in public. That’s something for my ice cream container’s ears alone – because I know whatever notes I get are for the good of the story. OTHER aspects of my life however – like resume feedback, yeah that’s kinda open season. I have a modicum of skill in my fiction and – yes – non-fiction. I can help other people put together resumes, since I spent time as a resume screener for a recruiter. Coming up with a kick-butt one of my own? Apparently not so much – that will be addressed probably over the weekend.
My very inspiring writing partner - doesn't he just scream motivation? Love that face.

My very inspiring writing partner – doesn’t he just scream motivation? Love that face.

Now, to do my lunch time walkies and puppy therapy, if Leo hasn’t gone to lunch with his human. If he has… I’ll settle for this photo of my writing and snuggle bunny.

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[Pen/Pencil Review] PaperMate ClearPoint Customizable 0.7mm Mechanical Pencil

Posted by reudaly on August 18, 2014 in Review, writing instruments |

I picked this interesting mechanical pencil at Office Depot on that binge shopping trip. It intrigued me – and I totally got it wrong, but it’s still kinda cool. It’s the PaperMate Clear Point Customizable Mechanical pencil in 0.7mm lead.
There won’t be a writing sample – because well, mechanical pencil. 0.7mm #2 HB Lead all looks the same. It’s the rest of the piece that’s important. I, of course chose the barrel which has the green grip and side clicker. I have to admit, side clickers frustrate me – but it’s not them, it’s me. I’m so used to top clickers that I have to overcome muscle memory. Also, I tend to rotate my writing instruments while I’m using them, which, occasionally means advancing lead when I don’t mean to.
The Clear Points have contoured grips with rubber inlay for traction and some semblance of comfort. It does have a good diameter. And I’m a HUGE, huge fan of the long(ish) twist eraser. Love having oversized erasers that you can adjust the height on and replace. That makes the whole thing totally worthwhile. The pencil doesn’t become obsolete when the eraser is gone – nor do you have to have an “extra” external eraser for MORE THINGS. The twist erasers are the best/
What makes this fun (and a bit of a challenge) is the “customizable”. The pencil comes with five top caps and five erasers. The standard matching green cap and white eraser come on the pencil. Erasers in green, pink, orange, and blue are added to the package along with yellow, orange, pink, and purple caps. The caps include the clip, which is pretty sturdy plastic – and shouldn’t break easily and cover the lead reservoir. The erasers fit snuggly in the cap. Mix and match to your heart’s content – but the basic barrel is clear with green accents. You can’t change out anything but the cap – but that can (and will) make your pencil … YOURS if anyone tries to steal it.

The numbers:

1. How does it work?1 – It works like it’s supposed to. The lead advances and retracts. The grip is grippy. And the lead is sturdy. The only mechanical issue is me dealing with side clicks.
2. Grip and feel1 – They make a concerted effort for ergonomics. I find the diameter comfortable and with enough texture to give good purchase without tiring quickly.
3. Material1 – It’s actually fairly solid. The rubberized grip is part of the whole barrel. The lead is sturdy. The whole piece is plastic but it still feels like a solid pencil for long term use.
4. Overall Design0.5 – There are fiddly bits that can get lost. When I pulled the cap off to change it out, it was secure enough that I scattered lead across my desk. That’s an issue. I’ve used it some, but not extensively and already feel that I should put more lead in the reservoir.
5. Price Point0.5 – These are completely inexpensive. Single Clear Point pencils fun about $3.50. This – with the more stuff ran closer to a 2 pack price of $6.75. I may have gotten it on sale for about $4.50. It’s not dirt cheap, but it’s not prohibitive for a solid pencil with some novelty stuff.

That’s 4 of 5 bronze pencils.
Pencil 4.0

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[Spotlight Post] We Remember

Posted by reudaly on August 15, 2014 in Spotlight |

This week’s spotlight post is, by necessity, a memorial post. It’s been a rough week for Hollywood – and by extension, those of us who’ve been influenced by their work. The internet has been a-buzz about the shocking death of Robin Williams and the loss of Hollywood icon, Lauren Bacall, but there were also a couple of important character actors we lost as well – Ed Nelson and Arlene Martel.

From Hollywood and the Everrett Collection

From Hollywood and the Everrett Collection

Arlene Martel played ONE role in Star Trek (the Original Series). She played T’Pring, Spock’s “wife”. This was a pivotal character in a truly important episode that resonated with fans since airing. Though this is the role most SF fans remember, Martel had a long and varied career – showing up in Hogan’s Heroes, The Rockford Files, and every other 1970s mystery show on the air. She was an extremely talented lady and will be missed.


Ed Nelson is one of those actors “you know when you see him”. He was a guest star/character actor who also played bad buys. He was a staple in 1960s westerns. He was a “sliver fox” character in the 1980s mysteries like Murder, She Wrote. He’s been in everything I ever grew up watching and/or influenced me growing up – because the man has been a working actor since 1952.
From Past Deadline - Hollywood Reporter  and the Academy Awards

From Past Deadline – Hollywood Reporter and the Academy Awards

Lauren Bacall. Wow, Lauren Bacall was a Hollywood icon. That there’s a generation who probably would say, “WHO?” when you say her name or don’t know “Bogie and Bacall” makes me even more sad. Bacall was one of those “Classy Dame” actresses with Katherine Hepburn and Bette Davis. She was brazen and bold and talented – and she married Humphrey Bogart. DUDE. I watched a lot of the “old movies” both growing up and in college. She was simply a class act all the way – both in movies and television.
From The Giant Bomb and License to WEd

From The Giant Bomb and License to WEd

Robin Williams. There’s not much I can add to all the brilliant tributes that have been said in his memory. His was the most shocking because he was by far the youngest and most “recent” of the losses. He fought a lot of shadows in his life – and overcame a lot. The fact he was facing further debilitating illness makes his loss even sadder. His comedic brilliance and range of skills to entertain create a hole that can’t be matched. There simply is no other entertainer like Robin Williams, and probably won’t ever be. He taught generations of creative professionals to be bold and fearless. I will go on tears about how Good Will Hunting didn’t deserve the SCREENWRITING Academy Award, but Williams DESERVED every accolade and award his talent brought him. I hope he’s found rest, and I hope his family can find peace.

Though I don’t have any personal stories to tell of these actors, their work and their lives are part of my background. They helped influence and shape the kind of writer I am today by giving me talent to strive to create work for. And now the lights in the entertainment world shine a little less brightly – and we all have to step up our game to reach the bar these professionals set for us.

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[Writer Post] More on Amazon v. Publishing

Posted by reudaly on August 13, 2014 in Writing |

I really don’t know where to begin with this week’s blog post. It’s been one of those sputtering weeks. Days of great productivity (at least in my mind) and days of “not so much”. I have a looming deadline that I’m, at least, picking away at and will meet (darn it!), but other issues raise their heads. And I know much more “invested” people than I have weighed in on this topic, but apparently I needed to rant. Feel free to debate me, but keep it civil.

The Amazon vs. Publishing War took on a new element (and if you think it’s JUST about Hachette, you are sorely mistaken) over the weekend with an open letter to all KDP writers and the world in general from Amazon. And though this isn’t a bloody battle like in the Middle East, it’s very much an economic war where the “civilian” casualties are the writers and – by extension – the readers. Both Amazon and Traditional Publishing have vehement supporters and detractors (much like religion and politics). It makes me sad and angry and frustrated to watch professionals and non-professionals alike “Armchair Quarterbacking” this dispute and telling those of us with a stake in the outcome – which I have (this is my Career) that we’re wrong/stupid/greedy/insert favorite derogatory comment.

No one is in a good place here. Yes, I side more with traditional publishing. Amazon is a fantastic TOOL – like fire – and should be used as such. Amazon started out (and in the most part still is) as a supply chain moving goods. Which is AWESOME. More ways to get books into the hands of reader is a good thing. That it’s now trying to dictate terms to ENTIRE INDUSTRIES and creators? That’s when this fire that should be used for warmth and substance now becomes the ALL CONSUMING RAMPAGING WILDFIRE OF DOOM. And I seriously think that’s what’s happened here, Amazon has gotten completely out of control and now believes it should be able to gobble up everything in its path.

Traditional publishing is not blameless in this war. They’re trying hard to hold on to a “But we’ve always done it this way” mentality that needs to change. But as people have mentioned, these are multi-billion dollar corporations. Corporations that big do not move quickly. These are icebergs and glaciers that are seeing paradigms shift at a pace that is overwhelming to ALL of us. We all have to figure out our ground here. But for me, I want traditional publishing (large and small press) around for the simple reason I don’t want the COMPLETE responsibility for being brilliant – I want all the help I can get from professionals. I want the support structure. I want someone to believe in me enough to help shoulder the risk and the reward. I’ll go it alone if I need to, but I want that to be MY choice.

And don’t let ANY company – Amazon or otherwise – call us “content providers”. As Jane Yolen mentioned on Facebook, “When a company calls writers “content providers” they are the enemy. No matter what else they say, they see the writer as a widget or possibly a widget maker, infinitely interchangeable and negligible.” I am not a widget. I’m a creative, feeling, thinking PERSON who creates unique things that no one else can (or possibly will) and should be compensated and valued, unlike Bob Stein’s comment at the 2011 Frankfurt Book Fair: “As the value of content approaches zero,” Stein said, “people will pay for context and community.” Content has VALUE. The writer HAS VALUE beyond the production costs. Don’t let anyone tell you differently.

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[Pen/Pencil Review] Zebra Spiral Ball Point 0.7mm

Posted by reudaly on August 11, 2014 in Review, writing instruments |

This is another pen from my last Office Depot spree, and I found this in the Clearance section – so I hope they’re not discontinuing them completely, just changing packaging or will be available in other retailers. This is the Zebra Spiral Ball Point pen in a Fine point 0.7mm black ink.
This is an interesting pen because it take ergonomics and frivolity and puts them into one pen. The need for ergonomic comfort comes at all ages, but only now are the pens designed to relieve writing fatigue getting some style to them. The Zebra Spiral takes the style to a whole new level. Where the Dr. Grip Full Black is sleek and classic, the Spiral is fun, flirty and colorful.
I bought (shocker) the lime green version of the Spiral. The barrel has a soft rubber grip area with a comfortable amount of squish and rounded contours going to the point. The diameter is that nice middle ground where you don’t feel like you’re strangling your fingers, but no so wide as to feel like you’re using a kindergarten crayon. Where it gets interesting is in the resting part of the barrel. That is translucent color to match the grip with enough clear to see the white mechanism housing. This is where the pen gets its name. The barrel is twisted into a spiral pattern that gives a smooth groove where it rests in the thumb web – for both righties and lefties. It’s well balanced and feels sturdy for plastic.
This pen comes with a 0.7mm black ink insert that is smooth and dark (and fine line to make me so very happy). The pen is refillable with the Zebra F-Refill (which does come in a 0.7mm blue ink). The clip is plastic, but sturdy feeling – you’ll have to work hard to snap it. The grip is nice, but not QUITE as squishy as the Dr. Grip – but with a much nicer price point, in my opinion.
I really like this pen – so much so, I went and bought the blue one just to have a spare in case they are going away (which I really, really hope not). If you write a LOT and want a spiffy yet comfortable pen – please check this one out.
The numbers:

1. How does it work?1 – It works well. The ink flows well with minimal smearing. The retraction mechanism is solid. It’s well balanced and solid feeling
2. Grip and feel1 – This is surprisingly comfortable. You’d think with the twist to the barrel something would dig in to fingers, but it doesn’t. It’s a good diameter with a really good feel.
3. Material0.5 – For a plastic barrel pen, it’s pretty well-made. The barrel is really solid yet smooth. The mechanisms work well. The ink is great. For a pen that is designed to reduce writing fatigue and promotes ergonomics, there might not be ENOUGH squish in the grip. It could be a bit softer – like the Dr. Grip…
4. Overall Design1 – It’s an amazingly good design. It does what it says – it’s comfortable, it has good ink, and it is suitable for long-term writing. What makes it super cool is the attention to making it DIFFERENT. The spiral part not only makes it comfortable, it makes it CUTE.
5. Price Point1 – This one isn’t as expensive as the Dr. Grip. It sells on the Zebra website for $6.44 – which for an ergonomic pen that’s refillable isn’t bad at all. It’s fun, it’s useful, and is actually probably appropriately priced for the amount of material in it. It’s a SOLID pen. Not HEAVY, but it doesn’t feel cheap. This should last a while.

That’s 4.5 of 5 bronze pencils.
Pencil 4.5

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[Spotlight Post] Lunch with A Puppy

Posted by reudaly on August 8, 2014 in Spotlight |

Today is supposed to be a spotlight post day, and if you hear a weird sputtering sound is me running out of steam. It’s been a busy week, and only getting busier – there’s so much Left. To. Do…. And I totally have changed part of my lunchtime routine.

Yesterday morning. Leo wonders what a watch tastes like.

Yesterday morning. Leo wonders what a watch tastes like.

Our company’s warehouse manager has started bringing his puppy, Leo, to hang out with the warehouse crew at work. Leo is about 3 months old and is a brown mutt, but an adorable mutt, with a black stripe down his back ending at the tip of his tail. He has a spot on his chest and ribs that make the back paw go – and the requisite needle-like puppy teeth.
Leo introduces himself (these were yesterday).

Leo introduces himself (these were yesterday).

Sometimes it hard to see the “good” in the Day Job, and then something like Leo happens that makes it a bit better. And as long as Leo keeps coming to work, I’ll continue to spend part of my lunch time in the warehouse…because…puppy.

Though going home to the Canine Inquisition will be interesting. I keep getting looks from Loki and Diamond that say, “Again? Every time you go out you come back smelling like someone else! What’s the deal?” What can I say? I’m a critter person.

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