HAPPY HALLOWEEN!!!! I’m starting my day with this…I’m sending my name to Mars via NASA. You only have through tonight.
I should have something awesome to share with you today – but there are (and have been) serious distractions this week. So… Let me give you some links to great ways to stay distracted (without me getting on a soap box about stuff – that’ll wait until next week).
And if you’re looking for some awesome (no calorie) treats – let me recommend…
If you’re into Haunted Houses: Check out Dark Hour Haunted House in Garland
Javier Grillo-Marxuach’s The Middleman: The Pan-Universal Parental Reconciliation Graphic Novel Table Read. So much awesome in one video.
Also in Graphic Novel –
Stay safe tonight and all nights
Last weekend was Tyler Rose City Comic Con (called thus because apparently Portland, OR has a Rose City Comic Con about a week before). This is a second year Comic Con – so there were some hiccups and growing pains, and the organizer looked kinda shell-shocked when we left. But in good ways. You see, for only in its Second Year? It’s completely outgrown its venue. Next year they’re “Gonna Need A Bigger Boat”.
I wasn’t sure what to think about this show going in, because 1) I still kinda think of Tyler as “small town” when it’s NOT. They have 100K+ population. 2) It’s new. But it allowed me to hit my Coffee Roaster Away From Home, and we don’t need a hotel to do stuff in Tyler. And the table fee was really reasonable, so the risk was minimal, and some of the named guests who were supposed were acquaintances.
There were some logistical hiccups, but George and Jennifer did their utmost best to fix what they could. I get the feeling this second year was a magnitude bigger than last year – which is a fantastic problem to have . The issue is keeping track and making that work. Which, after some jiggering with charts and tables and smoothing some feathers, we settled in for a decent show that possibly broke some fire codes. “Bigger Boat” syndrome.
We did miss seeing Mike Grell – and hope his health continues to improve. But thoroughly enjoyed seeing Timothy Zahn when it wasn’t my responsibility to make sure he had everything he needed for a good show. I did ply Timothy Zahn and, artist, Jeremy Clark with cookies. I traded Zahn cookies for cheese. Clark, well, we gave each other hard times at North Texas Comic Book Show and I promised him cookies to make up for it. I pay my cookie debts.
I almost felt sorry for the actors who were there, though. They lined the back wall of an exhibit room – most were RIGHT across the aisle from Tugg the Bull Terrier – Tugg is an amazing rescue story and now comic book hero. And…well, dog. Tugg brought his brother Ajax. There were longer lines for Tugg and Ajax than Colin Baker at some points – because… DOG. Even I took Puppy Breaks when I could. Tugg’s people are the Ovards and they’re super-awesome folks with a non-profit called Tugg’s Pink House of Wuff.
Saturday was packed. I probably could’ve made more money if people could move better in the aisles, but I did okay. I’m not disappointed at all. It just seemed slow to me, but movement was difficult. The costumes were awesome. I got to know my neighbors and made a friend in Brian Raif – he’s putting his books out on his own – he’s good folk. I have his book in my bag and am looking forward to reading it. Sunday, sales were about equal to Saturday – but in different configurations.
And though the attendees started dwindling Sunday afternoon, there were still a good number of them doing panels and such until close to the end. I still don’t get why some vendors start packing up and out about 3-4 pm when the show doesn’t end until 6 pm (with Dire Warnings about not packing out early – though some probably had permission). I’m just one of those people, I guess, that believes if I’m contracted to do something I need to do it, AND if I’m one of the Last Vendors Standing, I can get those last minute “hey, I still have money” customers.
I really do look forward to seeing what they do next year. The hiccups aside – those are growing pains – this was worthwhile enough to give it another shot. Hopefully next year I can talk them into letting me be on panels now that they’ve met me.
I love doing novelty pens near holidays. So much fun. This one is a novelty I picked up at Party City. It’s a long, plastic ballpoint pen wrapped into the shape of a bat. They came in black and purple with black ink. I kept the black one. I gave a purple one to my buddy, Meredith. Because (theme music NANANA) BAT PEN!!!!
This pen is long – it’s about 8.5″ long. It’s narrow – very narrow – but this isn’t meant for long-term writing use. It’s meant for a silly thing at Halloween. The point may be a 1.0mm but it feels finer than that. It COULD be a 0.7mm. The ink is smooth for a novelty. I’ve actually found myself using more than I thought. It does have a clear plastic cap that keeps trying to skitter away, so there is that.
For a weird, seasonal novelty, it does write surprisingly well – if you don’t mind the lack of balance and the thinness of the barrel. The bat is fun to try make “fly” (just be careful, the plastic tubing can crack at the pinch points. But it’s somewhere between $1-$2. It’s something that can be used, abused, and rebought for the next haunt season. The selling point is that it’s CUTE. Really cute.
1. How does it work? – 1 – It works like it’s supposed to. It’s a ballpoint pen that writes well, with dark, even ink.
2. Grip and feel – 0.5 – It’s a very narrow barrel, that’s also really long. It’s not comfortable for tight grips and the balance is non-existent.
3. Material – 1 – It is what it is, an inexpensive novelty pen in inexpensive plastic
4. Overall Design – 0.5 – I like it. It writes. It’s fun. The inexpensive plastic might break if you play with the bat too much, and the cap is easily lost.
5. Price Point – 1 – It’s not more than $2 at a party store. It’s economical for the fun factor.
That’s 4 of 5 bronze pencils.
This isnt’ going to be a “traditional” Spotlight post – but hey, it’s also Thursday. I will be on the road a bit tomorrow heading to Tyler Rose City Comic Con to sell some books and hang with Timothy Zahn, Jeremy Clark, and a bunch of other awesome folks. If that’s your neck of the woods, come see me.
I mentioned some stuff happening on Facebook that I had to be kind of vague about until all the ducks were in a row. That’s 99% done now – there’s still one duck (I’m looking at YOU, Clarence) who isn’t quite there yet – but I’m past the point of no return.
This morning I turned in my notice to my Day Job. November 7th will be my last day here in this place I’ve complained about for a while now. I’ve accepted a new job with the City of Dallas using my writing and data organizational skills (yes, I have some, shut up) to have a small part in making Dallas a safer and more prepared place in the world.
It’s a good change. It’s a scary change. I have one more form to fill out (Clarence…), but until that comes in, I have my hiring paperwork done, my orientation class is scheduled. I’ve known since Monday afternoon. It’s a much better situation – better hours, better commute, scheduling flexibility. It’s just… BETTER.
That being said, I was a bit flattered today that my current job asked if there was anything they could do to get me to stay. No. No there’s not. They will make use of me while they can, I’m sure because we’re that short-handed. I feel good about leaving this position on my terms and not waiting for the doors to close. I do appreciate the experience of being here – and am going forward with great excitement.
It’s Wednesday blog day. I’ve been relatively productive in the last week. I’ve gone through two sections of Redheads twice for editing passes. There should always be at least two passes – one for story and things that jump out (words spelled into other words – for instance), and the second for more detailed looks. I have a break for a little bit. We’ve all had some death and destruction in our lives this month. Oh, and Real Life Changes those are happening- I’ll get into that when I have more information.
So whilst waiting for the last section, I can move on. But on to what? Not quite sure. I need to do some reconnaissance on what I have in files that’s partially done. Look at some of the plot bunnies I have in my notebook. See which “speaks to me”. Because I need to be adding to word counts while I’m waiting for the editing stuff to head my direction – which means as soon as something starts rolling along, I’ll get that batch of editing and have to stop (or time manage and multi-task). Besides, I have some new pens and very AWESOME “thought cloud” and “dialog block” sticky notes to use. It’s time to start rockin’ the office supplies. (Thank you, Meredith, for the sticky notes).
Celebrated Dusty Rainbolt’s birthday this weekend. There was some Redhead business done, but mostly it was a good time for all. We need that every so often. Just a time to hang out and be silly. If you’ve seen the Facebook photos, we were silly. But that’s what having fun is all about. This is the most awesome crew of co-workers/creators I’ve ever worked with.
I’m heading to Tyler on Friday for The Tyler Rose City Comic Con this weekend. I get to hang out with Timothy Zahn and Colin Baker. I’ve promised artist, Jeremy Clark, butterscotch triple chocolate chip cookies. So there will be cleaning and packing and baking tonight and tomorrow around other mundane things like grocery shopping. Because it’s all part of the process and the business.
Tyler is a new show for me. I hope it goes well. So… EAST TEXAS! Come by and say hi!
So, I forgot the pen I intended to do for today’s blog. Discovered another required bottled ink – which is at home… but have no fear. I have a pen to review! I only acquired a few things this year at the Dallas Pen Show because of budgetary restrictions. This is one of them. I picked up a Jinhao Ebony Jewel in a red barrel.
This is a decent fountain pen from China created on the Lamy Safari style. It’s just under 5.5″ long capped and 6.5″ with the cap posted. The barrel is plastic with viewing windows to show ink levels. The grip is smooth plastic but with triangular cuts that make it ergonomic. The grip design does help to hold the pen “correctly” and comfortably. The cap does post firmly, and though it’s light plastic, it’s got a good feel.
The nib is considered a “light medium” or a “heavy fine” – which makes it a nice line. The flow (once I got it going) is strong. The nib is marked as 18k GP (I’m going to assume white gold – and it’ll be a vermeil type plating – meaning just microns of gold… thank you Day Job for that). I put a Monteverde short international cartridge in it – it’s an older ink, so it did take some doing to get the ink flowing. But the pen came with a converter, so that’ll help in the future with getting it to write immediately – because ink will already be in the nib.
This is also an affordable pen. I picked this up for $10 at Dallas Pen Show. I’ve found them on HisNibs for the same price. It’s good price for a well built fountain pen for an adult/teen starter. It’ll feel big for a smaller hand and might be a bit on the long side.
1. How does it work? – 1 – It works like it’s supposed to. The nib is smooth and solid. The barrel is light but well-balanced with a good feel. The nib feels strong, like it won’t bend if you’re heavy-handed writer.
2. Grip and feel – 1 – They make an effort for ergonomics. Though there’s not an “grippy” parts, it’s all smooth plastic, the grip is designed to fit comfortably in the hand.
3. Material – 1 – It is what it is, a replica Lamy in plastic. It’s light but comfortable. The nib is marked 18k GP. The clip is metal with the company name stamped in Chinese. Doesn’t feel like it’s going to break.
4. Overall Design – 0.5 – I like it. It might be a little long for some people. It’s also more designed for the converter than cartridges – and works better for the long cartridge than the short. But the ink works.
5. Price Point – 0.5 – It’s $10. That’s not super cheap but it’s not Bad. The issue isn’t just the price – you have to know where to get them. Either at a Pen Show or online. Some pen stores probably have them, but you’d have to look hard. And for a replica of a higher end pen, it’s probably not a bad price, but you have to make the investment.
That’s 4 of 5 bronze pencils.
It’s Friday. That’s Spotlight Blog Post day. It’s also Dallas Comic Con/FanExpo Fan Days – though I don’t have a table in what’s left of Artist Alley, I will be working tonight’s Kick-Off Shin Dig (off site party). You can come see me there. Devin Pike is doing an amazing job with expanding the offerings Dallas Comic Con provides for the fans besides the Comic Con itself. Next week, I will have a table at Tyler Rose City Comic Con featuring Timothy Zahn.
If you’ve not met Timothy Zahn, make the effort. Zahn was FenCon’s Toastmaster a few weeks ago, and I had the privilege of working with him in my Guest Relations capacity. I’m looking forward to having the opportunity to just hang out and sell some books with him.
Timothy Zahn is a master media tie-in writer in a number of universes. He’s best known for his work in the Star Wars universe. A person I met this week said he remembered reading Zahn as a kid and having most of this quote stick with him: “Do you know the difference between an error and a mistake, Ensign? Anyone can make an error, Ensign. But that error doesn’t become a mistake until you refuse to correct it.” That’s powerful – to have a piece of writing hang with you for years.
Zahn’s also a lovely individual. I enjoyed getting to know him and his wife during FenCon a little bit. I never have as much time I would like to get to know any of my GOHs during FenCon, and Zahn is one I look forward to seeing again. Yes, I know, this now means I’m going to be situated in the farthest point of the room from him in Tyler. But it’ll still be worth it to come check out the books. He’s also charming and funny, so check out his Q&As and other panels when you get the chance. Zahn’s definitely a gentleman you should encounter.
Oh, wow, hello Wednesday. I’m glad to see you. Now to come up with something to write about. It’s been an interesting week – with the potential to swing to really good or really bad. I’m in a waiting pattern. The outcome depends on other people and their schedules, so nothing I can do but wait. Wait and edit.
That’s my week. I’m doing a feedback edit on REDHEADS stuff right now. Since I started one part during FenCon week, I’ve gone back and started reading again, making more notes and such along the way. I just need to finish. I also need to get my head back into word generation… to be more like Neil Gaiman’s answer to “Are you a writer?” He said, “Mostly I’m a should be writing more-er.”
I should be writing more-er. I should ALWAYS be writing “more-er”. And “Better-er”.
And really, that’s all I really want to do. So…come on Nikes, let’s do it.
Also, to show that I don’t live in a bubble –
A friend of mine’s wife is one of the three female game developers with GamerGate related death threats from 4Chan. That guy needs to be stopped. I don’t identify with many groups because of the wingnut brush…but I’ll pull out a feminist card on this and say I stand with these women. We have equal talents and skills to produce/develop/and reap rewards for our work – whether it’s at home with kids or in the arts/sciences/Corporate Hijinks. If that offends anyone, bring it on. This Redhead can get Apocalpytic when she needs too. Everyone should feel safe in their homes and chosen industries.
Ebola is in my area but nowhere near me. I am in contact with no one who might’ve been in contact with the first patient. I’m not worried, except for one tiny factor – it that revolves around the first paragraph.
We weathered two rounds of storms with only minor leaf/limb damage – but now have a winter’s supply of firewood (for Texas) from our neighbors with more tree damage. We’re buying a camp stove once they’re restocked, because we don’t have one, and I should be able to make soup and coffee no matter what the power situation. Yes, I’m late to the preparedness game, but that’s changing (and yes, our can openers are manual).
I’ll start working on the Dallas Pen Show acquisitions soon. This one’s been hanging out in the bag for a while, so I thought I’d get it taken care of. This is the Zebra 301-A Ball Point pen in a red metal barrel with a 0.7mm fine point in black ink. I don’t remember where I picked these up, but they were on clearance sale.
I lean more and more towards Zebra when it comes to the less expensive, “everyday” pen. As a general rule, they’re well constructed, affordable, and still make “fine points”. The 301A is no exception. The 301A is a retractable ball point pen. It runs just under 5.25″ long with the point retracted and extended. The 0.7mm point is, indeed “fine” and sharp… I just stabbed myself in the thumb with it – and it HURT. So don’t do THAT at home.
The barrel is metal and coated in a red metallic lacquer for a rich, shining color. The clip is steel with chrome plunger and tip. There is a rubber grip for a nod at comfort. It’s light but fairly well balanced for a decent writing experience. I haven’t used it A LOT just yet – I’m doing a lot of editing, so the red pens are getting work outs, but I can see this being a “go to” pen. The ink is pretty dark for a fine point. It sets quickly for little smearing. I haven’t encountered glops yet. All things I look for in a ball point.
If you’re looking for a good, keep it on the desk, don’t mind too much if it walks away pen. This is a good one. It’s also refillable with the F-Refill, which makes it more affordable over the long haul.
1. How does it work? – 1 – It works like it’s supposed to. The retraction mechanism is solid. The ink flows well. The barrel is sturdy. The fine point is actually fine point with a good ink.
2. Grip and feel – 0.5 – They make an effort for ergonomics. There’s a rubberized grip. It might be a touch on the narrow and short side, but it’s pretty good overall.
3. Material – 1 – It’s actually really good for the price. The metal barrel and clip make this pen solid and long-lasting.
4. Overall Design – 0.5 – I like it. It could be longer in the barrel and a touch wider in diameter, but that’s a niggle. It seems to be a solid, well-built pen.
5. Price Point – 1 – Full price for a two-pack, which is was, was $5.99. That’s $3 a piece, considering they’re metal barrels and refillable, not a bad price point. I got this on a $3 clearance which makes them AWESOME. If you can find them on sale, yay. But even at full price, they’re affordable and refillable. Not a bad investment.
That’s 4 of 5 bronze pencils.
For the last several years, I’ve been the Guest of Honor Liaison for FenCon. I’ve worked with some amazing writers, editors, artists, and scientists to make sure they have everything they need to do a good job once they’re on sight. There’s always been one group that I’ve been less familiar with than the others – and that’s our Music Guests (and maybe the scientists…). I don’t follow filk or nerd rock, not like some in our fan group, so I’m always on the learning curve with them. This year, I had the honor of getting to know Rand Bellavia and Adam English – collectively known as Ookla the Mok.
These were the guests I kept running into. You know how that happens at conventions/event… there’s someone you want to see, but never do; and the folks you meet around every corner. Fortunately, these are Good People guys. If you haven’t had a chance to get to know them, please do.
I admit, I didn’t get a chance to listen to their music until after FenCon. Rand basically gave me their library, and now I’m hooked. I have a Nerd Rock playlist in iTunes. Right now it only has John Anealio and Ookla the Mok on it, but I’m still working on it. And though I’ve met some awesome musicians though FenCon – these are the albums I have. Therefore, playlist with some amazing, nerdgastic music. Nerdvana is my favorite EP. “Welcome to the Con” should be REQUIRED at every convention. “Math” is the best numerical anthem EVER, and “Tantric Yoda” is the best, yet most disturbing thing I’ve heard since some classic Dr. Demento. SMELL NO EVIL is all Monkey Music based. I’m still working through the other albums.
There’s a lot of awesome surrounding Ookla the Mok. I’m proud to have Rand and Adam as part of my fan community “Tribe” – and yes, amazingly enough, Rand and I had a whole conversation about Tribe and Community BEFORE coffee as I was seeing them off at some obscenely early hour Monday morning after FenCon. So go check out YouTube and CDBaby. Buy some music (also available on iTunes and Amazon). I think you’ll enjoy it – and I hope I get to see them again.