It’s Wednesday. I know it’s late, but there have been other things on my mind this week. If you follow me on Facebook, you know what’s going on because you’re being inundated with photos and videos of our Elder Dog. I’m distracted and not going to apologize for it.
At least it’s not the Hugos.
I had one of those shows this past weekend. The North Texas Comic Book Show this weekend was lightly attended. Sales…were…light. It’s one of the only times I didn’t at least make the table cost. Nor was I alone. I hope some of the ideas we bandied around get back to the organizer. There are ways to make this show (theoretically) better and more relevant while keeping it cost effective. I know this could’ve been affected by TABLE 2 (a gaming expo) and any number of other events in the area, but that has to be a factor – as well as the high dollar shows that are coming up in few weeks that many might be saving money for.
Don’t get me started on the high dollar shows. There’s going to be a breaking point coming. Fans and Creators are not ATMs for these commercial organizations who think charging a premium for…just about everything – tables, admission, VIP status, assembly line photo shoots, and (though I understand why actors charge for autographs) I’m sure the shows have provided some “guidance” on what to charge (because I’ve known SEVERAL who’ve ‘waived the fee’ for a wide variety of reasons and/or use the convention funds for charity) … is a viable, long-term business model. When I did have a table at the commercial shows – because I need the outlets – there was a minor gut punch whenever I offered to sign a book someone bought and their immediate reaction was either “is it extra?” or “how much is it?”. NOTHING! I stole a motto: “You bought the book, the least I can do is sign it”. Something will break eventually – and I don’t think that time is that far away.
I have no solutions. Heck, if I did – that would mean I could probably make a fortune, which I haven’t. But much like publishing, this is an evolving industry. No one knows how it’s all going to fall out. Hopefully with writers and artists being able to make a living wage of their creations.
This week’s review is more a ‘tool of the trade’ than a pen review. There’ s some real life stuff happening that is…distracting, but I don’t want to totally let this slide. There were a couple pictures of some stick tabs and flags that I got for Christmas from Semikolon via Container Store. They were stocking stuffer purchases one year.
I really use these lot, especially the tabs. They let me mark story points and ideas in random notebooks. They work like file folder tabs -and if there are multiple stories, the rainbow of colors let me code different things with or without writing on the tabs. The flags are thinner than most sticky flags, and with a bit more plastic feel. They make good markers, and they can color code the same as the tabs.
These are actually still available on Container Store.Com for about $8 a piece. They’re worth it. Unless you use the heck out of these, you’re going to be using them for more than a year. I know I have. The tabs and flags are set in a heavy cardboard folders. I’ve only had ONE set of tabs come apart from the notebooks in probably two years? They’re secure and sturdy.
If you need to organize thoughts and such? These are for you. I really don’t think you can get better quality for less money. You can definitely get lower quality while spending a lot more.
To the numbers:
1. How does it work? – 1 They’re good, solid sticky tabs and flag. They stick, they mark spots on paper.
2. Grip and feel – 1 – Good adhesion to the tabs and flags without marking the paper.
3. Material – 0/5 The tabs are paper – they can tear. The flags are plastic-y, so ink can smear if you TRY to write on them.
4. Overall Design – 1 – I LOVE THESE. Love them. Use them all the time. Especially the tabs.
5. Price Point – 1 – Might seem high at $8, but there’s plenty of pieces, the notebook they come in is sturdy. They’re GREAT.
4.5 out of 5 Bronze Pencils
I have a new story out! Knowledge is Power is available in Dirty Magick: New Orleans.
Happy Wednesday… it’s been a trying week. On many levels. We’ve been doing “Homeowner-ish” things – requiring an 8lb sledgehammer (outside). I kinda wish I could take the same sledgehammer to the internet. The trolls have abounded this week.
The Hugo Kerfuffle won’t die (and won’t die until September). I’ve given up reading anything about it because … in almost anything you can find some middle ground. There is no middle ground here. Like general politics – it’s mostly passionate opinions and some name calling. I am so very, very glad that my Campbell eligibility came and went with no fanfare (much less a nomination) because anyone involved with this year’s award is “tainted” (a word I hear bandied about). I understand the positions some are taking – because of the rabid few – and I’m completely afraid of the fall out.
I kind of feel like a child caught between warring parents. I have friends and colleagues on BOTH sides of this issue. I appreciate the work BAEN has done and still does for writers – regardless of political ideology. I love seeing how excited Kevin J. Anderson is by FINALLY having some Hugo appreciation (even “tainted” as it is). And he’s doing AMAZING things with Word Fire Press with Cat Rambo’s first novel and the bundle deal he’s got going on. But yes, the actions and words of just a few are going to cast a pall on what should be a good thing – and the fact they’re…gleeful (I am trying hard not to say “gloat”)…that those who find the slate problematic are going to have to recognize them with nominee pins and loser parties to somehow rub it in … that’s crass and beneath us all.
I wish I could just say… GET OVER IT. Be adults. Be professional. But geez, that ship’s sailed. So I’m going to go back and write for Yard Dog some more – or on my own – because we write awesome stuff without the political bull crap. At least when we act like idiots in public, it’s in the Road Show…on purpose… for entertainment value only, and I’m really, really okay with that.
So if you want something to read that isn’t on any slate, has no bearing on anything going on? Go check out Yard Dog Press. We have quality books on paper and electronically. If you want to buy in person? I’m going to be at the North Texas Comic Book Show this weekend – followed by ApolloCon in Houston and SoonerCon in OKC in June.
This week’s pen is one of my birthday pens from Paradise Pen Company. This is one of their signature brand pens – a Padrino. This is the Padrino Tech Silver Ball Pen in black ink. This is a moderately priced gift/luxury ball point pen. It retails for $45, but right now it’s on sale for $15 online (and probably in store, if you can find it. I think I got the last one at the Dallas store).
The Padrino Tech has a brushed silver barrel with a smooth, modern sweeping clip. The pen has a twist mechanism that extends and retracts the Parker Style refill – which lets you refill with ball point or gel ink in a variety of colors and point styles. The one that came with the pen was a 0.7mm Parker style black ball point ink.
The pen writes smoothly and has a good weight and balance. It’s about 5.5″ long which is long enough to be comfortable with a medium diameter for a decent grip – no ergonomics. The finish can show dirt – I thought I saw dings, but just buffed them out with little effort.
If you need a gift pen, or a pen just to look good on your work desk, you can’t go wrong with this one. With the easily findable refill, it’s easy to use over the long-term. The sale price, makes it quite reasonable for a graduation gift or any other reason. It’s a well-built pen, which is something I’ve come to expect from Paradise Pen Company. Padrino is their “house” brand and stands up to more expensive brands.
To the numbers:
1. How does it work? – 1 It’s good. It’s a smooth ink in a decent point. The twist retraction mechanism is smooth and easy to use.
2. Grip and feel – 0.5 – It has no real ergonomics. There’s no good grip, just the brushed metal finish.
3. Material – 1 It’s a solid metal pen with good mechanisms. It has a strong, artistic clip. The finish seems like it shows marks, but cleans well and easily.
4. Overall Design – 1 – It’s a standard twist mechanism ball point pen. But it works well, looks good, and cleans better than I expected. This is a pen that will live out its investment.
5. Price Point – 1 – If you pay full price, it’s expensive at $45. The fact that even the website has it for $15 makes it a good value for its class – but it may actually be a clearance item, which means you need to get it while you can.
4.5 out of 5 Bronze Pencils
Welcome to Wednesday – all controversy ALL. THE. TIME. Yes, I should be writing. Yes, I should be ignoring the internet. The ignoring thing? Not happening.
The least of the controversies (and it’s not really) is the ever vocal “Standard Manuscript Format” which is anything BUT standard anymore. Every so often, there’s a pointless blow up over whether it’s ONE space or TWO after a period. The two-space rule is a holdover from typewriter days (which, yes, is when I learned to type, so I had to program word processors to take them out when single spacing became prevalent). There’s STILL people who hang on to that. Just like, in the Science Fiction world, Standard Format STILL requires Courier New fonts and underlines to indicate italics. But… Romance genres apparently slap people down for being so archaic as to NOT use italics for italics. Then it turns into a huge deal for anyone who believes (as I do) that following “proper” format is a sign of Professionalism. Then bru hahahas start. I remember one editor who railed on social media about how people didn’t send in stuff in “standard format” that a bunch of people jumped on (with links) about how THAT wasn’t “standard format”… so it’s crazy.
And speaking of crazy, let’s move on to the BIG controversy brewing now. The only statement I’m going to make on the Hugo Debacle… (Basically, I’m booking a space on Tracy Morris’s Nopetopus…)
Whether or not Sad Puppies did what they thought was right was ethical or not is not for me to say – it wasn’t against the rule, but that doesn’t mean it was right. The Hugos are a Fandom Popularity Contest – it’s ALL a game of one sort or another. Should they have distanced themselves from the Rabid Puppies? Absolutely, because as we’re seeing, there’s a lot of guilt by association. Yes, there are some vile people involved with Rabid Puppies who should not be celebrated for any reason, but they are fewer than are being vilified now.
However, the other side is not blameless. Boycott and vote down the vile all you want, but casting that wide net to shout down all who were nominated through the Sad Puppies? That’s not right either. Some of those authors and editors are perfectly qualified, perfectly professional (and former nominees in a couple of cases) who just happened to nominated through a process some people didn’t like. Voting NO AWARD before considering Jim Butcher, Toni Weisskopf, Kevin J. Anderson, or Sheila Gilbert just because of who may of suggested their nomination is just as wrong as any the Sad Puppies may have done.
The petty-ness of both sides. The fury over a nomination process that at times resembles a High School Homecoming or Prom Election is…disheartening. I know our industry and genre is trying to find its way in new, inclusive future – and as a woman, I appreciate that, but the way we’re going about it is not shining a kind light on us. And for a genre that is so focused on the future and space and infinite possibilities, seeing crap storms about “how things are done” and tradition and all the minutia just … there’s not enough energy in a black hole.
So I’m going to go write what I want to write. Hopefully I can find people to read it and enjoy it.
This week’s pen is one of my last pens from the last JetPens order. This is a new brand for me – the Yasutomo Y&C Gel Xtreme 0.5mm stick pen in black ink.
The Y&C has a water-based gel ink that’s non-toxic and acid free. This black ink is dark and rich – and suitable for both writing and archival records (like scrapbooking). The needle point is strong metal and encased in plastic, so it doesn’t feel like it’ll snap or bend with heavy writing (like me).
This stick pen is about 5.75″ long capped and just over 6.25 with the cap posted. The cap posts securely, so there’s no fear of accidently flinging the cap across the room. It has a medium width barrel with a ribbed grip for a bit of grip, but no cushion or ergonomics. The barrel and cap are transparent plastic with smoky (color coordinated) clip and post cap. There are some ridges that can dig in over long periods of time.
This is an inexpensive but handy pen. The 0.7mm come in a wide range of colors, the 0.5mm comes in only a few colors. Hopefully there will be more colors along the line. It’s an import, but a fun one.
To the numbers:
1. How does it work? – 1 It’s good. It’s a smooth ink with a decent needle point for a long-lasting and deep ink – even in a fine point.
2. Grip and feel – 0.5 – It has no real ergonomics. The textured grip is just hard plastic. There are ridges that can dig in.
3. Material – 1 It’s an inexpensive stick pen from Japan. It is what it is.
4. Overall Design – 0.5 – It’s an okay but not inspired design. It’s a clear plastic stick pen. The needle point is secure, but it is what it is.
5. Price Point – 1 – It’s inexpensive. These go for about $1.20 on JetPens. That’s a good price for the amount of use you can get out of them. Worth it for the acid free, archival quality ink. You do have to order from JetPens, this isn’t readily available in the US.
4 out of 5 Bronze Pencils
This past Saturday Jimmy and I managed to get to the Hurst, TX Barnes and Noble for an author event. (I say managed because I wasn’t sure I’d make it – stupid Spring virus thing.) This one was for Tex Thompson – an amazing Weird Western/Hard Fantasy writer who just launched the second book in her trilogy, Medicine for the Dead. By the way… she puts on a great book party. But that’s not all…
I told her on Friday that the bug might keep me from coming to support her. Not only did she understand, she turned it around and started asking about my book. Asking when it was coming out and if there were Big Plans for it. Which is sweet. Then when I was actually well enough to show up to HER party, she just enthused about how my book really needed a party for its Book Birthday. She felt there needed to be some kind of hoopla. I’m a bit overwhelmed by the enthusiasm.
Now, here’s the thing…I’m super excited about my book. I am. It’s going to be awesome. To finally see my name on a book all by itself (but yikes, it’s all on me). But Small Press isn’t quite like New York. The book will be out when it’s done (probably at a convention), but I can’t give anyone a hard date like some other authors. But, you know, there might need to be some kind of hoopla after all – if only for Tex.
So if you have any ideas for what kind of hoopla we can come with (on a budget – this is also on me), I’m in. And if you ever want to get energized about your work, get Tex involved. She’s one of the best cheerleaders anyone could have. So let’s hear ideas for a hoopla…
This week’s pen was part of my Birthday Pilgrimage to Paradise Pen Company during ConDFW. I bring you the Cross ATX Pure Chrome rollerball pen. This is a gorgeous pen, and though it was technically a birthday present, I did pick it out, and it was on sale. This is definitely a more expensive, gift pen.
The Cross ATX is 5.47″ long capped and a bit longer with the cap posted. It’s a solid pen, weighing it at just over an ounce. It’s wider than a normal Cross ballpoint – it’s just under a half-inch in diameter, making it comfortable. The grip is also metal, so there’s no squishy ergonomic bits, but it is well balanced and comfortable in the hand.
The barrel and grip are highly polished chrome plated – which is gorgeous, but does show fingerprints. So if that matters to you, you’re going to need something to wipe it down with, like a microfiber cloth. The design is modern and sleek with a contemporary rounded clip that looks like it caps the top of the pen. The cap clicks on the barrel and posts securely. I never feel like I’m going to lose the cap.
The ink is a medium, gel ink refill in a 0.7mm rolling ball. It’s a solid, dark line. This is completely refillable with a variety of Cross refills – including the Selectip Rolling Ball refills, the Jumbo Ballpoint refill, and even the porous fiber tip refill. This pen can totally be customized for the type of ink you like (except fountain), which makes this an “investment” pen.
I say that, because it’s Cross, it’s not cheap, nor are refills. But it’s a statement type pen, if you need to make an impression, you can do that with this pen. But it is comfortable, so if you need to be an “impressive” writer, this pen lets you do that comfortably.
To the numbers:
1. How does it work? – 1 It’s good. Cross makes a decent ink and solid pen. The gel rolling ball makes a good, solid writing experience.
2. Grip and feel – 0.5 – It’s gorgeous, but because the grip is the same chrome as the barrel, it’s slick and hard. There are no ergonomics, but the diameter is good.
3. Material – 1 It’s gorgeous, high-quality chrome plated silver metal. It’s a solid pen.
4. Overall Design – 1 – I like this design. It’s sleek and modern with classic lines. It’s a style and feel I would expect from Cross. It’s beautiful and feels good in the hand.
5. Price Point – 0.5 – It’s expensive. These retail for $65 on the Cross website. You can get them cheaper if you find a sale, but that’s still going to be a lot for some people – and the refills run between $6 and $7 a piece. So again… pricey. But this isn’t a pen one picks up for grins, you know what you’re doing when you buy this.
4 out of 5 Bronze Pencils
It’s Wednesday and I’m feeling a bit under the weather. I was going to just let this lapse (again) today because of the bleck….but, stuff’s come up today and needs to be addressed. It seems like rather too much lately, we’re focusing on the crap stuff in SF.
Writer Beware brought massive rights grab from Omni Reboot to light late last week, early this week. They tried to brush it off as a “work for hire” contract not a regular one, but haven’t been forthcoming on their “regular” contract. I would still avoid submitting here.
Today, news is hitting about an app developed by parents that can scrub profanity and certain other words out of ebooks – any ebook. The hue and cry is justified. Writer CHOOSE how they write – I choose to write “clean”. That was a decision I CONSCIOUSLY MADE years ago. I chose it. Just as other writers choose to write in other ways. ALL WAYS ARE CORRECT. NO ONE WAY is BETTER OR WORSE. If you don’t want to read profanity or violence or anatomical nookie…find other books. It’s not for anyone – or ESPECIALLY an app – to tell the reader what those words are supposed to be. So don’t try to defend this app to me. Deep down, I think I get what the designers were thinking when they developed this app – however, they went about it in all the wrong ways. This will end badly. Because now people are arguing about whether or not it’s a big deal – it’s a big deal. It’s not just leaving blue cheese off a salad or onions off a hamburger. It’s deciding an author’s voice isn’t “good enough” and taking it upon themselves to change an author’s voice, and that’s not okay.
But in the diatribes and the issues… there is GOOD and PRETTY. Apparently the gentlemen of The Flash are doing a Kickstarter for a musical movie. Joss Whedon donated. This is how they say thank you… It’s not about Marvel vs. DC or SF vs. Fantasy. It’s just generosity being met with gorgeous harmonies. It makes me happy.