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[Spotlight] SoonerCon 2015 Recap

Posted by reudaly on July 3, 2015 in Conventions, Podcast/Media, Writing |

So many things going on, and I totally missed my Wednesday blog post day – and now it’s Friday – but that makes this both a “spotlight” and a “writing” post, because this is my SoonerCon wrap up post. (So it’s way long) I know it’s been a week since SoonerCon began, but it’s been that week. Today is a day off from the Day Job so I can finally relax after about three weeks of heavy movement, I need some down time. I do have a deadline of late tomorrow (I said end of this week), but it’s pretty much reading, so yay.
Tarbox Station
I don’t know what I can add to what other people have said about SoonerCon. Aislinn Burrows, who does programming and promotional stuff, actually asked why I bust my behind for SoonerCon when they work me like a dog. (Seriously, they’re trying to find the “Just don’t kill me” line in how much programming they can put me on. This year came close but didn’t succeed.) And it’s because of what so many other people have commented on through Social Media.
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SoonerCon 1) doesn’t take itself too seriously (unlike some literary fan-run cons can); 2) actually is able to blend some of the best elements of Media Conventions and Literary Conventions to appeal to a wide age group; and 3) treats all elements of programming with equal amounts of respect and programming elements. This is why I say SoonerCon rocks, and if conventions want to grow and expand, check out what they’re doing and figure out how best to integrate some of their practices. Also, they’re all around good people who know how to throw a good party.
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My programming was… extensive. Even the programming on Friday had at least as many audience members as panelist… well, the Screenwriting 101 was a bit light, and it was one of the few panel where I ended up saying, “I’m on this panel to be pretty.” Only because I was THE LEAST QUALIFIED on the panel, and was enjoying listening to the other panelists tell stories about their experiences. It was awesome, I just didn’t have as much to contribute as the other panelists, so I shut the heck up and LISTENED or asked my own questions – which is what a pro does in this position.
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The Yard Dog Press Road Show melded with the Art Show Reception at 8 pm – which was awesome. The reception had alcohol. We’re all a lot funnier when our audience is imbibing. And we had an unwitting audience, even if some of them were trying not to be entertained by grown adults acting completely insane. But a good time was had by all.

Saturday was a marathon. The “Club” level of the Sheraton has a small breakfast buffet. Ever since we started rooming with Lys and Shado Wiley (Aislinn, you’ve met them. We need to get them on programming… they do all kinds of things aside from writing. They’ve been on cast of a ren fair and haunted house park – so acting/dialect/costuming.) we’ve gotten rooms there. This time we couldn’t, but worked out having access – go Lys. We pay a bit more, but it’s totally worth it for BACON in the morning. I took off running with the Koffeeklatch, then panels and readings followed by the Art Auction.
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I had way too much fun on the “Build a SYFY Saturday Night” though our team was, I’ll admit it, thoroughly trounced by Team Bland Lemon. We came up with a kick butt trailer. They did the whole dang movie. But we raised some money for charity, and I’m told there will be video.
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There were some early miscommunications with the auction, resulting in me ticking off a couple of people, but it all worked out. All feathers are now unruffled. Art was sold. Money was raised for charity. But when that many people run tired for that long a period it happens. The fact that it all blew over relatively quickly with no long-term recriminations… that’s a sign of pros, even if they’re all volunteers and fans.
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Sunday was two great panels and hanging out with actors. The two writing panels I was on had twice the number of panelists (and one was at 11 am). The last one was great until the very end when we hit a hot button topic and the last few minutes was a debate on that (but it was civil just…passionate). And then in my “Whirlwind Goodbye Tour” took an hour fifteen minutes.
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Among the lovely people I met along the way: Haileigh Todd – a discovery of Rachel Caine. She plays “Eve” in the Morganville Vampire Webseries. She’s adorable. I gave her some books (because she wanted to know what I wrote – and technically she’s a “college kid”). She’s awesome support whatever she’s in.
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Got to spend time with Larry Nemecek – and a very last minute Double Star Trek Continues Doctor photo with him and Chuck Huber (who’s also a voice actor/actor) in his penguin onesie. SO MUCH FUN. Chuck is an interesting guy. Ian Sinclair is a voice actor I made a point of meeting because he was a plot point in our “Build a Better SYFY Saturday Night”, and I introduced him to Haileigh for networking – met his and Jamie Marchi’s dogs (being walked by Marchi…so met her by accident). And then there was the lovely and talented Robert Picardo – who let us mob him for a photo op (unintentional) on Saturday night during our traditional “LobbyCon” – ask me about that some time – and again on Sunday morning at breakfast when he inadvertently locked himself out of his room and had nowhere else to wait for a new key than with us.
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THIS is why I love SoonerCon. Not only do I get worked a lot. I get to hang with amazing people from different aspects of creative endeavors. I’m treated like a friend and a professional. AND we get to meet new and crazy people. It has everything. And now I’ve rambled on for a lot longer than I intended, too. Time to work on the galley read for the book some more.

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[Pen/Pencil Review] BIC Atlantis Exact Fine Point Ballpoint

Posted by reudaly on June 29, 2015 in Review, writing instruments |

I found the Bic Atlantis Exact fine point multi-pack in blue, black, and red on a sale rack in Office Max. Since it was a rare BIC fine point pen in the US, I decided I needed to try them. You know… for the blog, of course.
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These pens are much more to my liking than the last Bic Atlantis I tried. The 0.7mm needle point gives me the line I’m looking for. The ink is smooth without being either globby or scratchy. The colors are rich for the size of the line. And the size of the ball point does give a precise feel – which is probably why they call it “Exact”.
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The pen is about 5.75” long both retracted and with the point out, which isn’t a bad length. The barrel isn’t as curvy as other more hourglass shaped pens in the Atlantis lines. Most of the barrel is wrapped in soft rubber matching the ink over smooth white plastic, creating accents. The cap and clip are carved white plastic with a fairly sturdy clip. The plunger has an insert that also matches the ink.
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It’s a more “traditional” feel to the barrel, which I do like. I’m not sure if these are being phased out or what, but I hope not. I could get used to them.

The numbers:
1. How does it work?01 It’s decent. No frills. But it’s a good fine point retractable with good ink and lines.
2. Grip and feel0.5 – It’s an inexpensive, plastic, no frills pen. The rubberized plastic on the barrel adds a bit of comfort, but it’s not a cushy pen.
3. Material0.5 It’s okay for what it is. It retracts fairly solidly. But it’s an inexpensive retractable pen with a decent point. Not the most solidly built pen on the planet.
4. Overall Design0.5 -It’s a basic retractable ballpoint pen with a nod to ergonomics.
5. Price Point1 – If you can get them, they run $4-$6 for the three pack. You can order them online from Amazon and other retailers, so you might be able to get them cheaper. They do come in 12 packs, which drops the price point, but those are mostly just the black inks.

3.5 out of 5 Bronze Pencils

Pencil 3.5

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[Conventions] My (OMG!) SoonerCon Schedule

Posted by reudaly on June 25, 2015 in Conventions |

Friday
Time Room
3:00 pm Ballroom A – Media/Science The Art of Parody

4:00 pm Cain – Demos Screenwriting 101

8:00 pm J Stage Yard Dog Roadshow

Saturday
Time Room
10:00 am Ballroom D – Main Programming Koffee Klatch

11:00 am Mann – Film/TV Country Creatures vs Metropolitan Monsters

1:00 pm Mann – Film/TV Build a SyFy Saturday Night

2:00 pm Rice – Readings Reading – Rhonda Eudaly

4:00 pm Autographs (Upstairs) – 10 Forward Autographs – Lou Antonelli, Rhonda Eudaly, & Julia S. Mandala

6:00 pm Art/Charity Auction

Sunday
Time Room
11:00 am Maynard – Writing Law and Order…IN SPACE!

1:00 p.m. Maynard – Writing Defeating Writer’s Block

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[Writer Post] ApolloCon 2015 Report

Posted by reudaly on June 24, 2015 in Conventions, Writing |

Okay, so it’s all getting done. I think. Finger’s crossed. One convention down. One convention to go – with a deadline. I can do it. I can. But while it’s still fairly fresh, let’s talk about ApolloCon. This is a convention that I’ve come back to this year after taking a couple of years off. It’s still small, but there are some changes happening.

They’ve moved to a new hotel – the Memorial City Westin. The hotel had some interesting…quirks. The guest rooms had one of those glass shower stalls with the rain like shower head. It was nice, but only had ONE tiny ledge to put anything on and one towel rack – for up to four people. The meeting floor had rooms tucked into weird corners which made it easy to miss seeing people because they were going around the corner. The elevators were the sticking point – anything above the meeting room floors required a room key to access – and the key would pretty much only access that floor. The consuite was not on one of those open floors. An amazing team of volunteers from the USS ZAVALA stood watch at the elevators to send up attendees to the consuite floor (which was actually a kick butt 2-bedroom apartment with a full kitchen. Best Consuite Facility EVER!).

It was hard to gauge how many people attended ApolloCon because of the ability to lose people quickly. But the panels all had more attendees than panelists. The panels seemed pretty well thought out and received. I finally got to meet Jim C. Hines after “knowing” him online for years. He’s a lovely individual. We had a blast with Jayme Lynn Blaschke and Martha Wells on a panel called “The Struggle” which was originally titled, “I Suck”.

Jim C. Hines and Me - taken by John Husisian for Jim C. Hines

Jim C. Hines and Me – taken by John Husisian for Jim C. Hines


This was after I let Tex Thompson talk me into being part of the Writers’ Workshop. DL Young and I had a group of three writers (the “science fiction” group), two of whom are friends of mine. I did sweat this – but I made copious notes and was able to tell Deborah Kent that yes, her writers’ group harpy is full of crap. And fortunately she and Marion Carpenter are still friends. The third… well, it’s his piece and his choices. There’s always a risk in doing these things, but for those who are really serious about getting better as writers, it’s worth the momentary pain of the grilling.
My photo of the writers' workshop with DL Young.

My photo of the writers’ workshop with DL Young.


Got to have dinner with two great groups of people. Bill Crider, Scott and Sandy Cupp on Friday at one of their favorite Mexican places. Tex, Shawn Scarber, Mickey Finn and a crew of other people on Saturday night. These dinners are not about the food (necessarily) but the company and conversation. I may be under deadline, but I’m definitely feeling the recharge from being around like-minded creative people and some of my favorite fans. And, I got to meet some new writers and fans who are pretty darn nifty.
Taken by Jim C. Hines. Me, John DeNardo (SF SIGNAL), and Marshall Maresca

Taken by Jim C. Hines. Me, John DeNardo (SF SIGNAL), and Marshall Maresca


I hope this convention finds a way to continue to make strides. There’s been a lot of improvement this year, but they still need to find a way to continue to grow. I did do some good networking as well. I tried to pace myself, because woo hoo… Friday marks the beginning of SoonerCon and it all begins again.

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[Pen/Pencil Review] The Adler Multi-Function Pen From Zumaya Publications

Posted by reudaly on June 22, 2015 in Review, writing instruments |

This week’s review was a gift from Liz Burton of Zumaya Publications. It’s a higher end promotional, multi-function pen – that’s pretty spiffy looking. Liz called it a “writer’s” pen… and I can see why. It could be the Adler Crowne Triple Function Stylus Pen.
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This pen is a stunning blue metal with bright chrome accents and an amazingly sturdy clip. It has a really responsive stylus on one end of the bullet-style barrel. It works easily on the iPad and iPhone. The pen is about 5.25″ long with the large cap in place, which allows use of the stylus. The cap can be posted at increments – which activates (or deactivates) the flashlight function. In writing mode, the pen is between 5.25″ and 5.5″ long. The flashlight needs the adjustment because full brightness is stunningly bright.
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The flashlight shines along the base of the barrel around the ballpoint tip to illuminate the surface you’re writing on – which is a nifty feature and why Liz calls it the “writer’s” pen – so we can work under any circumstances.
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The ink in the pen is a decent black ball point ink. It’s smooth and dark without smearing much. It does appear to be refillable with a short metal refill that also fits into the flashlight battery/mechanism in the top of the barrel with a spring. It feels like a 0.8mm point – so not fine, but not big and bulky. I like it.
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These are NOT inexpensive promotional pens, but they’re definitely ones that will be kept for quite a while. This one is engraved, but I think they can also be screen printed with logos. And I can tell you, I’m going to be using this one quite a bit – if I don’t accidentally blind myself with the flashlight.

Thank you, Liz!

Grading:
1. How does it write?1 – It works well. I like the ink. The stylus is responsive. The flashlight has some adjustability for brightness (which is fantastic – the full thing is BRIGHT).
2. Grip and feel0.5 – It’s a touch on the short side with a slightly wide diameter. It’s also smooth metal, so there’s no cushion at the grip. But it’s still nice.
3. Material1 – This is a good quality metal pen. Solidly built with a strong clip. This thing will last. It’s well-built.
4. Overall Design1 – Given the complexity of the design, it’s a decent design. Could it be better? Maybe. There’s a reason this one isn’t retractable like some of the other designs, but for what this is? It’s a GOOD design, with decent functions with flexibility and strength.
5. Price Point0.5 – This was a gift. It’s not a one-off. If you’re looking for promotional pen, you’re going to pay for this one. You might get a decent deal – or you might have to buy quite a lot for a deal. But let me tell you, if you’re going to go for a really good promotional pen? This is one to look at.

Overall – 4 Bronze Pencils out of 5.
Pencil 4.0

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[Writer Post] ApolloCon Revised Schedule and Prep Work

Posted by reudaly on June 17, 2015 in Conventions, Writing |

It’s a crazy week. One of many. I’m doing my best to not fall behind on deadlines (again), but it’s been a challenge. Not only is the week short because of ApolloCon, which means longer days at the Day Job to make up the time, but we had an Activation for Tropical Storm/Depression Bill. And if you follow my social media feeds, you know about the other, completely adorable, distraction. Still working very hard to find Bubbles a good home.
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However, that doesn’t matter. I’m getting all my ducks in a row before heading out to ApolloCon. Like this blog. The submissions for the ApolloCon’s Writer’s Workshop have been read, notes have been written. Just need to pack and finish cleaning the house. But it’s hard not to get all excited when you finally get see the final cover to your novel – and still have galleys to go through and Redheads to finish. It will all get done.
Tarbox Station
There’s been a couple of changes to the ApolloCon Schedule:
Friday – June 19
Free-Range Rhonda. Nothing specifically scheduled.

Saturday – June 20
9 am – 12 pm – Writer’s Workshop
2 pm – The Struggle – Azalea 5
3 pm – Autographing – Dealer’s Room
5 pm – Small Press – Pros and Cons – Azalea 6

Sunday – June 21
10 am – Internet Presence – Cypress
11 am – FanFic: Creative Writing or Self-Indulgence – Pecan
12 pm – Reading – Azalea

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[Pen/Pencil Review] Pelikan Edelstein Garnet Ink Cartridges

Posted by reudaly on June 15, 2015 in Review, writing instruments |

A few weeks ago, I wrote about my awesome Conklin Duragraph Fountain Pen from Pen Chalet – which is still awesome. However, what’s not as praiseworthy was the Pelikan Edelstein Ink Cartridges.
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Don’t get me wrong. I LOVE the Garnet color. It’s a super deep red – kind of like a blood red that works for a certain element. Since I write a “Death” character, I was enjoying the color – especially when I started critiquing some short stories/novel excerpts for a science fiction convention.

These are, theoretically, an international standard “long” cartridge. I have bought Pelikan long (or giant) cartridges before and love them because of the length of time to enjoy the ink. The first cartridge was fine, maybe a little tight in the Duragraph barrel, but fine… until it was close to time to change the ink. The next cartridge seemed to seat in the nib, but was tighter going in. When I tried to check it, the nib came free and the pierced cartridge stayed stuck in the barrel.

This is a problem. Because I tried to work with this, hoping with the nib back in place, everything would be fine. It was not. The cartridge would never reseat, stayed stuck in the barrel, then leaked around the nib – making it look like I cut the crap out of my finger (I did mention BLOOD RED, right?). I tried my best to seal the cartridge with wax and save it, these are not cheap.
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I was away from home, so when I got back, I attempted another pen barrel with the half cartridge of ink that was left. This time I picked my Padrino demonstrator (so I could see the ink levels without removing the ink). The cartridge didn’t fit. There are stops near the bottom of both barrels, this cartridge was a few millimeters too long and a few millimeters to wide to fit comfortably in the barrel.

I looked online for another long/giant manufacturer. Colorado Pens makes a long refill that’s smaller than this one by a hair. A visual inspection (I know it’s not scientific) made the Edelstein look just a touch bigger than even the other Pelikan giant cartridges I have.
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Fortunately, I do have a Pelikan barrel that I can use this gorgeous ink in, because I’m not risking it in another pen brand – even though Pelikan hasn’t said their ink is proprietary. This ink is too lovely and too expensive to waste, even if the barrel I have really isn’t worthy of it. It’s a “junior”/Beginner barrel, and this ink deserves the Duragraph, too bad it doesn’t work with the cartridges. Maybe I’ll break down and get a bottle and use the converter, but that’s expensive, too.

Grading:
1. How does it write?1 – This is a rich and amazing ink. It looks fantastic on the page and flowed really well through the nib.
2. Grip and feel1 – TECHNICALLY this should be “Not Applicable” but there is sometimes a feel to ink – if not a grip – This ink FEELS good you write with it. Even, rich, smooth.
3. Material0.5 – Yeah, bleck. The plastic cartridge is a shade too long and wide to fit in traditional barrels, even though it had a standard neck to meet the nib. It should be better.
4. Overall Design0.5 – Yeah, bleck. The plastic cartridge is a shade too long and wide to fit in traditional barrels, even though it had a standard neck to meet the nib. It should be better.
5. Price Point0 – Pelikan is proud of Edelstein. In some ways, it’s worth it (gorgeous, but pricy). The cartridges are $7.95 on JetPens.com – for SIX cartridges. That’s what? $1.25 – $1.50 a cartridge. The bottles? $26.50. These are not for the faint of heart, no matter how gorgeous.

Overall – 3 Bronze Pencils out of 5.
Pencil 3.0

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[Conventions] My ApolloCon 2015 Schedule

Posted by reudaly on June 11, 2015 in Conventions |

Here’s my ApolloCon Schedule for next weekend.

**Note: I have an autographing in here somewhere – but not sure where yet. It will be posted online and in the Dealer’s Room. I’ll add it when I get it.

Friday – June 19
Free-Range Rhonda. Nothing specifically scheduled.

Saturday – June 20
9 am – 12 pm – Writer’s Workshop
2 pm – The Struggle – Azalea 5
4 pm – Small Press – Pros and Cons – Azalea 6

Sunday – June 21
10 am – Internet Presence – Cypress
11 am – FanFic: Creative Writing or Self-Indulgence – Pecan
12 pm – Reading – Azalea 4

Come see me – though I might be running like a crazy person.

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[Writer Post] No, Drama! Bad, Drama! No Biscuit!

Posted by reudaly on June 10, 2015 in Books, Conventions, Writing |

So, in the last week there’s been OMG! DRAMA! Online (shocker I know). I’m done with it. Totally over it to the point of actually hiding people that are basically “mongering” the Drama. That’s just one issue that Just. Won’t. Die. There was a second issue – but that had a tiny blow up and has gone away (until 2016 when scheduling conflict becomes a more “real” thing than it is now). Then, hopefully, if that comes back around, there will be civil discourse.

Anyway, I’d rather focus on the Cool, NON-DRAMA things that have happened in the past week.

Mitch Bentley finished (and revealed) the awesome cover of my book, Tarbox Station. It’s very cool. Very shiny. I am thrilled. It also kinda goes along with my theory that if authors make an effort to get to know artists (who are really, really cool people), that even when/if you don’t get to pick your artist, you might still get a more amazing cover than if you don’t know your artist. So go meet some artists when you’re at conventions.
Tarbox Cover

• Actually made my short story deadline. Whether it sells, who knows, but one of the editors is a friend. I told her I’d write something (before life got in the way), and I wasn’t sure it was going to happen, but it did. I’m pleased that I didn’t bail because it’s a personal honor thing. I said I’d do something, I needed to do it (regardless of how it turns out). Now, I can focus on the next two deadlines in the next two weeks.

ApolloCon and SoonerCon are rapidly approaching – which encompasses those last two deadlines. I can’t wait. If the preliminary schedules I’ve seen continue to be accurate – I’ll be busy. Both schedules are…energetic. But I’m already starting my Emergen-C with B vitamins to have the energy to hang out with all of you.

• One last addition to the schedule… I’m returning to Tyler Rose City Comic Con in October, but this time as a Panelist/Guest (as well as having a table to sell books from). I’ll be doing a couple of panels (including moderating a Q&A “VIP” panel) and being judge for the short story contest. So, new adventures. I’m not on the website yet, but they haven’t updated it in a week or so.

Big things happening. I’m so excited. But I can’t stop now. Too many things to do. Hope to see you at either ApolloCon or SoonerCon!

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[Pen/Pencil Review] Pilot Dr Grip Mechanical Pencil 0.5mm

Posted by reudaly on June 9, 2015 in Review, writing instruments |

I know I didn’t get a pen blog done yesterday. I was finalizing some fiction submissions for a short story submission deadline and some last bits of novel process. The novel has me very, very excited. In the interim I knew I was going to have to do let something go… well, this ended up delayed. I thought about doing a “favorite things” post, until I realized I’ve never reviewed one of the ones that would be on it.
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One of my “go to” mechanical pencils when I’m in a “pencil mood” and have a lot of long-hand writing to do (as I have this week with the Day Job) is the Dr. Grip 0.5mm. The Dr. Grip line runs on the expensive side, but in some ways totally worth it. This one may look chewed up, but that’s because it’s been used quite a bit over years. This one is the silver with a white gel rubber ergonomic grip. And I come back to it time and again.
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The barrel is 5.5″ long retracted and 5.75″ with the point extended. The barrel is plastic but well-balanced. The curves to the ergonomic design fit the hand well with little to no ridges to dig in and cause discomfort. One of the selling-point to this pencil is the cushion grip to reduce writing fatigue. And I think they’re on to something. The grip is wider than most mechanical pencils, but not uncomfortably so. There’s enough squish to the grip that even heavy handed writers will take quite a while to cramp up. Which is probably why the Dr. Grip line has some endorsement by the Arthritis Foundation.

This pencil has two kinds of lead advancement – the traditional click top through the cap, and a knock (shaker) mechanism. The traditional clicker moves through the replaceable eraser that covers the lead reservoir and is covered with a silver tone cap. It’s a smooth mechanism. The knock mechanism was one of the first on the market, I think, and requires a fairly sharp shake, but does work. You don’t have to click to advance, unless you want to (which I do, because it’s habit). And I load mine with 2B for a dark lead line.

The numbers:

1. How does it work?1 – It works well. It has two kinds of lead advancement that both work.
2. Grip and feel1 – This is a pen designed for ergonomics. The grip is cushioned and tapered to reduce wear on the hand. The barrel is long enough for comfort and balanced well.
3. Material0.5 – For a plastic barrel pen, it’s pretty well-made. It doesn’t feel cheap. The ink is dark, fluid and has minimal smearing. But it is a plastic pen, and for the price point, I kinda want better material.
4. Overall Design1 – It’s a good design. But it does what it says – it’s comfortable, it has good advancement, and it is suitable for long-term writing
5. Price Point0.5 – This is the other knock. These aren’t cheap. They run $8 – $11 depending on where you get them. They are refillable, obviously, but you’re still going to pay for the ergonomic portions, which isn’t HORRIBLE, but still an investment. But I’ve used mine for years. I can’t even remember when I bought it.

That’s 4 of 5 bronze pencils.
Pencil 4.0

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