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[Spotlight Post] “Bail Money” The Bilge Pumps – Crossover Post

Posted by reudaly on September 19, 2014 in Review, Spotlight |

A rare – very rare – Same Day Cross Over with Celtic Music Magazine.
In honor of International Talk Like a Pirate Day, we bring you The Bilge Pumps, a piratical band from the Dallas/Fort Worth area. This group has been releasing music since 2000 and likely performing for much longer than that. Their newest project is Bail Money.
Bail Money is a live album recorded over two years at various shows. The 37 tracks include intros to give you a feel for what a Bilge Pumps show is really like. There’s a lot of humor added to this album as well as music. Most of it is family friendly, a couple of places might be better suited for … older audiences. There’s definitely a lot of irreverence here, but well-blended voices.
The songs are collection of classic Celtic and Renaissance Festival favorites – such as “The Night Pat Murphy Died” and “The Derelict”- with a nod to some modern music with a piratical twist. I have to admit I have a soft spot for “The Banana Boat” song which The Bilge Pumps have made their own, and I found it amusing. This is the second “ren faire” band I’m run across that’s also adapted the Eagles “Seven Bridges Road” – but for bands like this who do a lot of a cappella work – The Bilge Pumps do have drum and guitar, but are mostly vocal – it’s a good song to adapt. Several tracks are collaborations with Traveller Song, which gives more layers to some of the tracks.
This album also has new songs for them, “Ghosts of Heros” which is hauntingly lovely, and “The Mermaid” is a great tune. The last track is the only studio track, and it’s a fun parody track called, “Once in a Mermaid’s Lifetime”. So if you want to completely partake in Talk Like a Pirate Day, this would be a fun way to do it.

Artist: The Bilge Pumps Band Website
On Twitter
On Facebook

Buy Album: Release Date is scheduled for September 19, 2014. Check the website – or on Amazon
It will be available on iTunes today.

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[Writing Post] Which is More Pro – Small Press or Self-Pub

Posted by reudaly on September 17, 2014 in Books, Writing |

Welcome to Wednesday – and the week (ish) before FenCon, which means an excessive amount of headless chicken running and maniacal laughter. But it’s coming together so that’s something – but not the point of today’s blog. And fair warning – there’s a couple of “adult” words in here. And shameless plugs for my work…
Yesterday (Tuesday the 16th) Cat Rambo put up an article on her blog entitled: Why SFWA Should (IMO) Admit Self-Published Writers, and Some Thoughts about the Process. And it’s an interesting and forward-thinking concept on accepting changes in publication. Steve Miller linked to the article on Facebook, as well, which has started your basic firestorm of discussion.
For the record, I do not have a problem with creating criteria for self-publishing for “professional” status. A lot of people are jumping on the bandwagon, it’s going to have to happen. What I’ve taken exception to – and have gotten a bit of support is the fact that Small Press is still getting short shrift. Though Cat mentions, once I bring up the point in comments, that Small Press criteria is also being considered – why is it still a FREAKIN’ FOOTNOTE?
I love the Small Presses I work with. Yard Dog Press has been around longer than a lot of “professional” imprints (both traditional and digital), but because it pays in more of an e-book business plan (long before e-pub was a glimmer in anyone’s eyes) of no advance but higher royalties, it’s still somehow considered a Bastard Stepchild. Nor is Yard Dog alone – there are several Small Presses (and bigger ones) that fall into this category that have been around a long, long time.
Cover flattened_small
Why, suddenly, is Self-Pub getting the love and respect of “professional” consideration when presses who fall just under the “accepted” threshold” still considered Second Best? I’ve carved out quite a nice career in Small Press. I LOVE, LOVE, LOVE working with Yard Dog – Selina is a KICK ASS editor who only works with people who are willing to WORK. They pay royalties ON TIME. EVERYTIME. It might not be much – or it might be, depending on the hustle of the author (which is true in the Big Houses, too now) – but it’s consistent and transparent.
Why is it becoming more acceptable? Is it because of the rise of e-books and the changing face of publishing? Partly. Even Traditional publishing has to account for e-pub. Or is it because some Older Authors who’ve (in some cases) originally looked askance on anything other than Big House/Big Three Publishing are now finding out that they can make money on back lists and companion pieces by doing it themselves has taken the stigma away from “self publishing” – so therefore it MUST BE okay now?
I don’t know – but I do know that I would rather see the hard work that Small Presses do for their authors get recognized by professional organizations on an equal level. And yes, all the covers represented here are Yard Dog titles – and clickable to take you to the page (and aren’t ALL the titles I’m involved with there). I have a couple of self-pub collections, so I am on both sides of this debate. So debate this if you will but keep it civil.

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[Pen/Pencil Review] Franklin-Christoph Sugar Cane Paper Notebook A6

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

I’m going with something a little different today – a notebook I picked up after seeing it mentioned in Pen World Magazine. Paper made from sugar cane pulp instead of wood. There were a couple of different vendors mentioned, but the one I picked up was from Franklin-Christoph. Their notebooks come in three sizes and in a couple of different styles.
The notebooks come in “A” sizes – A6 (Small), A5 (Medium), and A4 (Large). The bindings are either top or side in stitched leather or slick cardboard. The “higher” end designs come embossed with the logo. The pages range from ruled, graph, dotted, or blank – stitched bindings are color coded to the type of rule. The lines are 5mm apart for a very narrow college rule with solid top and bottom margin lines.
The paper itself is derived from sugar cane. Franklin-Christoph has designed this to be resistant to feathering and bleed through while being smooth and ink absorbent. It’s a 90gm paper weight giving the pages the same substance as most high-quality journals and notebooks – like Rhodia and Leuchtturm1917 – but with an ecological edge. The sugar cane paper is formulated to be acid free and pH neutral. I find them to be a smooth writing experience. Even the pencil I used with a standard HB lead comes off darker and richer. There’s still some smearing if you touch liquid inks like fountain pen in when writing, but you can’t stop that.

The back - to show bleed through (and the basic lack thereof)

The back – to show bleed through (and the basic lack thereof)

These are not inexpensive notebooks – these run $7.00 – $19.50 (depending on binding). The beveled edges and embossing of even the paper backed notebooks shows a dedication to quality. However, for the budget minded (like me) they do have a “Stock Room” option (which is where I got mine). If you don’t mind a previous model, a scratch, dent, or slight imperfection – you can purchase these notebooks at a discount. However you’re limited to availability. The one I’m using now is the A6, and I believe I have an A4 at home – which may be my next notebook when I’m ready to switch out.
The cover is really reflective. Hard to get a really good picture of it.

The cover is really reflective. Hard to get a really good picture of it.

I really do like the idea of paper from other sources. I’ve been seeing some other options besides typical wood pulp and want to investigate these more. But so far, the sugar cane makes nice paper. If you’re looking for other options, check this out.
The numbers:

1. How does it work?1 – It works just fine. The pages are smooth, thick and does actually prevent ink feathering.
2. Grip and feel1 – So, there’ s not really a GRIP, but even with the cardstock covers, the back is sturdy enough to give support. The binding holds the pages well.
3. Material1 – I was hesitant. After all SUGAR CANE? But the sugar cane paper acts, feels, and performs just as well as high-end wood journal paper, but with an easier sustainability.
4. Overall Design1 – Though I might like a bit wider line in the ruled, that’s not enough to knock it. The “European” sizing might through some folk off, but I think that’s just a more a preference thing, and makes it a bit more “sophisticated” and/or universal.
5. Price Point0.5 – The notebooks are expensive if you go full retail, and they’re really only available through the Franklin-Christoph site. But they’re not outrageously expensive – considering the quality of the product – and they do have the Stock Room Option (which I’ll be making more use of). It might be worth the investment for the high quality and sustainable paper.

That’s 4.5 of 5 bronze pencils.
Pencil 4.5

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[Spotlight Post] Remembering Richard Kiel

Posted by reudaly on September 12, 2014 in Life, Spotlight |

This has been a season of memorial posts. I know things come in waves, but still. This week, the Science Fiction/Fantasy world lost Graham Joyce. I don’t recall having met him, but many on my social media networks knew him, respected him, and liked him. According to the posts, Joyce lost his battle with cancer. This news and this loss hit a lot of my friends, fellow professionals, and readers hard. I am so sorry for you – and this loss.
Richard Kiel and Me
Wednesday, I heard about the loss of actor, Richard Kiel, and though I only encountered him one time. His loss saddened me. Tomorrow would’ve been his 75th birthday. I told a little of the story on Facebook Wednesday night. I’m going to do a longer version here. Back in 2008 Ben Daw and his Lazy Dragon Crew put on a convention up in either Plano or McKinney. They brought in Richard Kiel, James Hampton, and some lovely sounding British Guys I can’t remember now. This was one of those weird conventions where everything seemed to be done right but the people just didn’t come.

Anyway, Jimmy and I decided to have a good dinner that first night – Friday or Saturday, it’s been a while – and the only good place within walking distance was a Japanese Hibachi Grill. So we trekked over there. The Kiel/Hampton party had just been seated. We did say hello – since we were part of the same convention, but intended to go our own way, not wanting to intrude on what was obviously a couple of good friends. They invited us to fill out their grill anyway, so we did.
James Hampton and Me
Not only was the dinner a show – Hibachi Grills are AWESOME! – but so was listening to Kiel and Hampton talk about shows they’ve worked on, Hollywood, things they were planning on doing. I did mention that Jaws was my favorite Bond Henchman of all time. You see, I often talk about how Dad and I would watch Star Trek and how that influenced me – the other Dad/Daughter Bonding was…well, Bond. Dad LOVES James Bond. We would see every movie when it was on television or opened in the theater. Moonraker was one of my favorites – because Jaws got the girl, and there was a space station. The fact I was able to tell him that means there’s one less unseized opportunity.
Lazy Dragon 2008
As we were about to leave, I noticed a bunch of the young Japanese waitresses pointing and whispering. They finally asked if Kiel was who he was, and if they could get pictures. He graciously agreed – on the condition you didn’t see the scooter in the shot. That was his rule. And you know, that’s not an unreasonable request because it also makes framing the shots a lot easier. We finally got our pictures in the parking lot as we walked back to the hotel – and I was able to call my dad for the “Guess who I got to have dinner with” neener/neener call.

I loved that evening. It remains a treasured memory. I haven’t had the opportunity to work with either man again – though I look forward to seeing James Hampton again – but Lazy Dragon Con was a lot of fun and Richard Kiel was and always will be one of the sweetest, nicest, biggest man – in heart and height that I’ve ever encountered. I hope his family finds peace and comfort in the days ahead.

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[Writer Post] Internet Slow Down

Posted by reudaly on September 10, 2014 in Life, Writing |

Net Neutrality is important. Just say NO to “Fast Lanes”. If you haven’t signed a petition or emailed your congresscritters – do it now. This affects all of us – small and large blogs alike.

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[Pen/Pencil Review] Monteverde Telescopic Ballpoint Pen With Stylus

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

Jimmy and I were taking advantage of a sale at Fry’s Electronics last week when we saw this week’s pen (in a two-pack) in their Office Supply Section. This week’s pen is part of Monteverde 365 Everyday Collection. It’s the S-102 Telescopic Ballpoint pen with stylus – also part of the One Touch Stylus line. We picked up the red barrel ones in a two pack – Jimmy’s favorite color.
Jimmy’s a fan of the telescopic pens and pencils for the simple fact he can clip it on a small notebook and have it all fit in his pocket. There’s definitely a benefit there. These are 4.25 inches long compacted and just over 5.25″ long fully extended. That makes this pen long enough to be comfortable in use and small enough to lose in a purse.
This pen is well constructed and attractive. The barrel is etched chrome plated metal for a stylish ribbed look leading to the tapered tip. There are a few ridges, but mostly they’re rounded for a pretty comfortable feel in the hand. It has a good diameter. The “cap” comes in four colors, we picked up red, which may ding and scratch – but so far so good. The clip is sturdy metal – it’s not going to snap off. The pen retracts by sliding the ink and barrel into the red cap. The stylus works as it should on tablets and smart phones.
This pen has a medium point black ink, which is fine. It feels like a 1.0mm – which means more potential for smearing and glops. I would LIKE to make it a 0.7mm, but I haven’t found refill information on it yet. So, I’m not sure it’s refillable. I HOPE it is, that would make this pen AMAZING.
The numbers:

1. How does it work?1 – It works just fine. The ink is dark and rich. The mechanism telescopes and retracts. The stylus operates touch screens just fine.
2. Grip and feel1 – This is not designed to be “ergonomic”. So the grip is smooth and metal. But that gives it the right design to retract into the barrel cap – so the trade off works. It’s well balanced and long enough to be comfortable.
3. Material1 – This is well made, especially for the price. It’s all metal and strong. It’s attractive. And the stylus is good quality rubber.
4. Overall Design0.5 – The reason I’m giving this a bit of a knock, is that ON MINE (and it could be just this one), I have to retract it more with a jiggle to make sure the ink retracts all the way. And the point seems a bit big for the design. I would put a finer point in it – IF I know it was refillable, which I can’t verify. And with the stylus, if you’re trying to avoid germs, you’ve got options.
5. Price Point1 – They’re not expensive, especially for being metal and a specialized design. These pens run about $6.99 for a two pack – making them $3.50 a piece. Not a bad price even if they aren’t refillable. The ink should last a good time. And at this price – and in two-packs, if you lose one in a pocket or off a desk, they’re replaceable.

That’s 4.5 of 5 bronze pencils.

Pencil 4.5

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[Spotlight Post] Joan Rivers & Throne and Bones by Lou Anders

Posted by reudaly on September 5, 2014 in Books, Life, Spotlight |

I mentioned on Friday that I would blog about a book and an author. I am going to do that, but I also have to mention a passing first. So a moment of respect for Joan Rivers.

Joan Rivers - photo from That Grape

Joan Rivers – photo from That Grape

Yesterday we all heard the news of Joan Rivers’ passing. She was 81. She has always been part of my entertainment sphere. I remember her hanging with Johnny Carson, on the Red Carpets, on any number of comedy specials. She was bold, brash, and sometimes offensive – but she spoke her mind and made jokes about herself as well as others. Though I may not have always found her brand of comedy funny, I did appreciate her honesty. She never once denied she had plastic surgery – in fact she made it part of her routines. I hope she’s finally found peace with her own beauty and fear of aging. I hope her family now finds some comfort and peace as well. Joan Rivers was an icon, a force of nature, and will be missed.

Frostborn (Thrones and Bones)

Price: $4.12

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84 used & new available from $1.58

And now on to something, hopefully more…pleasant. Lou Anders and his new book, Thrones and Bones: Frostborn. This grand adventure features art work by Justin Gerard and features a Viking background – but with giants, and dwarves, and trolls – oh my. This is a middle grade reader book – which means meant (theoretically) for 8-12 year olds (but the young at heart will appreciate it, too).

Karn is a thirteen year old Viking boy who’s obsessed with a board game called Thrones and Bones. He’d much rather play the game than learn how to take over the family land and farmstead. He’s introduced to a half-human/half-Frost Giant, Thiana, at a trading festival. Thiana’s challenge is trying to figure out who she is and where she belongs. That’s where the adventure begins. It catapults into journeys of self-discovery, survival, and rescue.

The cover - from Lou Anders' website

The cover – from Lou Anders’ website

Anders not only created a vivid world, the game now actually exists. The appendices to this book not only contain a glossary for the Norse-based words, but also rules to the game. The companion website lets you also play the Frost Giant game of Knattleikr – which is harder than it looks. And if you want to know more about the local and features? There are amazing maps in the book and on the website. This is a complete experience for the tech side of the brain and the reading side.

Now, I was predisposed to enjoy the book because I like Lou Anders. Anders is an amazing professional and person. He’s won awards as an art director. He’s also an amazing editor at Pyr – as well as an accomplished writer. I’ve worked with him at FenCon and a couple of other conventions – and can’t wait to work with him on a publishing professional level. If you’ve not encountered Lou – you SHOULD. And read the book. I can’t wait to see where the series goes.

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[Writer Post] It’s September – Run for the Hills!

Posted by reudaly on September 3, 2014 in Conventions, Life, Writing |

Weeks with holidays are both amazing and disconcerting. There wasn’t a pen post (obviously) on Monday because of the Labor Day holiday (and I took a holiday). But that’s thrown my whole brain pattern off… though I logically (and from the calendar) know that today is Wednesday -there’s still part of me – and my routine that’s CERTAIN it’s only Tuesday – which causes some discombobulation. I know I’m not alone in this.

There’s also the part of my brain that’s a gibbering, panicking mess because “ARGH! It’s SEPTEMBER! FenCon! Redheads! Deadlines! ACK!” Who’s BRILLIANT idea was it to have the new Redheads drafts done by FenCon? Oh, yeah, that was ME! I brought this on myself! WOO! And we’re trying something new for the Redheads panel this year at FenCon – bring it on, September. Bring it on. Oh, right, it already is.

So that’s the current update. I’m doing the headless chicken routine for the next three weeks putting together Redheads and FenCon stuff. So don’t expect a whole lot of thought provoking content (not that you do much anyway…it is me, after all). And… things don’t actually slow down much AFTER FenCon… I’ve picked up some other shows in October and November.

I have stocked up on Target-brand Emergen-C/Airborn type stuff to stay healthy whilst among you lot. So let’s have some fun. Well, you all go have some fun, I’ve got to knuckle down and get words on paper to (hopefully) entertain you all.

Oh, and to show you that my brain is JUST THAT annoying… it came up with an idea for a Christmas story (story, play, not sure what it’ll be yet) for next year. Need to flesh that out at some point – but not until later – and yes, it’s written down.


[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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