It’s been one of those weeks. Again. But in getting ready for ArmadilloCon tomorrow – and having a short week at work – I totally lost track of what day of the week it was.
We have done some work on the house. I’ve finished up the edits on a short story.I got three of my beta reader’s notes in. They were pretty much all the same — which is a big flashing sign that there might be issues with those bits. Seriously… if three people have issues with the same bits? It’s not the reader. It’s the story.
And… then my 1650 word short story now comes out to 1550… and that’s how that works.
So come see me and a whole bunch other really cool, awesome authors and artists, head to ArmadilloCon! It’s going to be fun!
I have a problem. Back-to-School displays are my weakness. I went into Walgreens and discovered a new line of BIC Cristal stick pens – Xtra Precision multi-pack with “fun and colorful caps”. Neither cap nor color drew me to these pens. The “Xtra” and the “Fine” point did. I had to give them an “Xtra” look. (But come on, how much does leaving of the “E” actually save you?)
Given that BIC tends to the 1.0mm and higher points (BOLD!) I was pleasantly surprised to find these were a 0.7mm ball point. Haven’t seen anything like that in the US in a very, very long time. So for a $1.99 at Walgreens, I had to try them. Because, um, yeah… Hello, impulse buy!
I have to admit I was even more pleasantly surprised when I dug into the package. These are better than I expected. They are a needle point tip – which I’m coming around to liking. I admit my initial hesitation for needle tips are from early days when they were flimsy and bent easily. These days, whoever designs these things has made them a lot sturdier. The pen is long to me ~5.75” capped and 6.5” with the cap posted. After using a bunch of retractables, that’s LONG. The barrel is the classic hex pattern in translucent plastic matching the ink color. The plastic cap is white with ink-matching accents. So they pretty much are fun and colorful.
The ink impressed me more than it should’ve. The light blue and greens are, indeed, light – but the rest are rich and smooth. With some other Bics I would notice if you used them for a while, the ink would kind of fade out – especially with fashion colors or the finer the point. I see none of that with this batch. The ballpoint is smooth and wrote on the first stroke. I see no signs of skipping or ink blobs.
There’s nothing fancy about this pen. It’s simple, plastic, with no bells or whistles. The hexagonal barrel has no padding or ergonomic grip – which does lead to fatigue if you’re do a tight grip on pens like I do. But for a simple pen, it’s quite handy and nice. And at $1.99 for an 8 pack, I’m going to try to pick up more – especially if I can get the classic colors.
1. How does it work? – 1 It’s decent. No frills. No padding. Ink is smooth and dark. Wrote the first time, every pen.
2. Grip and feel – 1 – It’s an inexpensive, plastic, no frills pen. The grip and feel is hard plastic. But you’re not buying this pen for the grip, let’s be honest.
3. Material – 1 For an inexpensive plastic pen, it’s solidly built. The cap and barrel are secure. The logo doesn’t wear off easily.
4. Overall Design – 0.5 -It’s a classic BIC pen with a needle point tip. That’s always going to be a weak point in my book. The length might be an issue with some.
5. Price Point – 1 – I got these at a local Walgreens. Still having to find them elsewhere easily – though online, you might be able to get them from Target or Amazon. I got the 8 pack at Walgreens for $1.99. Target seems to have a 15 count for $2.96 online. That’s stunningly cheap, really.
4.5 out of 5 Bronze Pencils
As it stands, here is my programming schedule for ArmadilloCon 38 next weekend. Come see me and all the awesome creators there.
Welcome to ArmadilloCon
Fri 4:00 PM-5:00 PM Ballroom D
Bobo, Crider, Eudaly, M.A. Finn, Keller, C. Siros*, Swendson
Our panelists will talk about the essential elements of SFF cons in general and ArmadilloCon in particular. Learn about all the can’t-miss events you should attend to get the most out of our con.
Art of the Short Story
Sat Noon-1:00 PM Southpark A
Afsharirad*, Eudaly, M.A. Finn, Person, Porter, Scarber
What makes a good short story? How do you as a writer unlock this form?
Career Management for Writers
Sat 1:00 PM-2:00 PM Southpark A
Cheney, Chu, Eudaly, Landon*, McKay, Wells
How do you manage your career as a writer? How do you know when it is time to switch agents, publishers, etc.?
Keeping It Weird
Sat 2:00 PM-3:00 PM Ballroom E
Eudaly, M.A. Finn*, Hilbert, Perez, Rose
Discussion of weird /bizarro fiction: definition, history, who you should be reading now.
Sat 4:00 PM-5:00 PM Dealers’ Room
Clevenger, Eudaly, Fletcher, Latner, McKay
Sat 7:00 PM-7:30 PM Conference Center
Flash Fiction Discussion & Reading
Sun 11:00 AM-Noon Ballroom F
Cherry*, Clevenger, Drayden, Eudaly, Goldsmith, Muenzler,
Panelists take a few minutes to talk about what makes for good flash fiction, then have round robin flash reading.
The last little while my Day Job has eaten my life. My niece got married. Went to TWO different memorial services. And I swear doctors get paid by the “you really should do something about your weight” lectures. But I made a promise to myself about this time last week that on Monday, July 18th, everything would RESET.
I gave myself until this Monday to finish dealing with the commitments, to decompress from the stress. To remind myself that regular word counts, exercise, and my “typical” routine make me happy. To decide that I never want FOOD to be the focus of my life — in either an emotional overeating sense, OR in the hyperfocused, must pay attention to every gram/morsel/etc.
And you know what? It’s been a pretty decent week so far. I’ve not written a TON of words this week, and some of them are complete crap — but crap words are still words. I’ve hit my blog posts on time. And I’ve still been able to get some stuff done at home.
We FINALLY got our bedroom furniture delivered – which meant disassembling and reassembling TWO rooms – and discovering a WHOLE other dog’s worth of hair behind the bed. Ick. But clean, new furniture with some clothes purging and stuff.
I even managed to fix a glitch that would’ve made ArmadilloCon…untenable. But ArmadilloCon is a go. We’ll see everyone in Austin next weekend!
It’s a good reset (for everyone but the dogs, they’re a bit freaked by the change). I’m looking forward to seeing where the reset takes me. Hopefully I can make the time up to make the novel deadline. Let’s do it!
Today’s blog post is a revisit that isn’t a revisit. Today we meet the Paper Mate InkJoy GREEN GEL pen. This retractable pen is something that makes me happy -it’s a solid, dark, vibrant green ink (even if I can only get ONE in the 0.7mm).
The ink is really good. I do give Paper Mate that. I bought the fashion colors for the first go round. I picked this one up at JetPens.com – because they will sell the 0.7mm pens in singles. Though I do prefer the 0.5mm, I couldn’t (yet) justify the major mulitpack that comes with THIS PARTICULAR COLOR. I’m hoping either PaperMate will do a Red/Black/Blue/Green pack or JetPens will sell the 0.5mm separately at some point.
The Paper Mate InkJoy gel pens are 5.75″ long retracted and extended. The barrels are slightly thicker than your typical retractable stick pen. The barrel is smooth and is mostly rubberized plastic for a comfort grip. There’s a clear-ish hard plastic front panel that lets you see the level of ink in the refill that also includes the clip – which could snap if you mess with it long enough. The tip is conical and metal, and so is the plunger on the retraction mechanism. The tip screws off to refill the ink and sets smoothly to avoid any ridges.
The deal with the InkJoy gel pens is supposed to be really smooth and quick drying – compared to Pilot G2 (which is a lofty goal – G2 is pretty much THE standard). So do they measure up? Actually yes, they do. These pens have good ink reservoirs with rich tints to the ink. The conical tips are smooth and lay down a solid line. The feel is good. The ink does seem to dry quickly – except in my moleskine calendar which has really slick pages. EVERYTHING smears on that. GREEN is a particularly difficult color for inks – most of the time they are LIGHT. Or fade easily. Or something that lessens their appeal. Not THIS ink. This is a serious green ink.
Finally an InkJoy that DOES bring me joy. If you don’t want to invest in multipacks, JetPens is selling 0.7mm individually for $2. I’ll be getting some more of these.
To the numbers:
1. How does it work? – 1 The ink is AMAZING, and comes in decent point sizes. The retraction mechanism is solid
2. Grip and feel – 1 – It’s fairly basic retractable pen, but long like a stick pen. The rubberized plastic goes all the way around and up the back of the pen to give a comfortable feel for long-term use.
3. Material – 1 – It’s rubberized and translucent plastic pen. It’s solid for what it is.
4. Overall Design – 1 – It’s an InkJoy that I can get behind. The pen is colorful, comfortable, and solid.
5. Price Point – 0.5 – These run close to $2 a pop which is about on par but seems a touch high. They should be refillable, but I’m not seeing refills for these yet. If they do end up having the refills, then they will be a solid pen for everyday use.
The last week has been rough. I’ve been away from the keyboard as much as possible. Some of it has been okay – Jimmy’s best friend was in town from Colorado. Then my Day Job came crashing down around our heads. As all of you know from either my social media or, say, the national/international news… and, I won’t lie to you. I’ve not written a word.
There was also a memorial service for one of Jimmy’s former co-workers. This weekend we have my neice’s wedding and another memorial service. We’ve had 11 people in our house for dinner on Monday.
There’s been a lot of stress. There’s been a lot of emotion. And I’m going to be able to use some of it in stories down the road. Met some really cool people – both at work and around this family dinner. I did manage to get a pedicure and buy an outfit. I have not been able to get fiction written.
We are starting the “new normal” at the Day Job starting today. I still have no idea what the “old” normal was, but I’m looking forward to getting back to “routine” which will include adding words to current projects and typing up what I’ve written. There’s still a lot to be done in the upcoming week.
Totally looking forward to going to Austin in a couple of weeks for ArmadilloCon. I will need it as much (if not more) than I did SoonerCon. Come see me there, would you?
I was going to do my best to do a blog post today… It’s not going to happen.
This is my Day Job Life right now – through early Wednesday, at least. And there’s a bunch of family descending on my house tonight for dinner. Bear with me.
Even though I have the tons and tons of pens to inventory – I’ve actually done a small JetPens order, so even more things to write about once normalcy returns.
Please bear with me. Everything will return to regularly scheduled programming.
Better late than never, I suppose. SoonerCon was two weeks ago, and yes, I’m just now getting around to this. Only because of crazy busy life stuff – that doesn’t end until October. Right, then. So, SoonerCon was something that I both needed and needed to be great. I was not disappointed by either criteria.
My convention schedule is a bit light this year – these things go in cycles – so my opportunities to sell books are more limited than in the years where it seemed like I went to ALL. The. Shows. That’s partially budgetary (conventions are expensive – especially the comic cons) and partially looking at ROI (to be buzz-wordy). If a convention/show is no longer worth the investment for whatever reason, then you have to rethink attending. And then at least one convention I normally had in my schedule didn’t happen this year. All these together make the shows I am doing more important.
SoonerCon was the first convention I’ve done since February. That’s…a while. I was feeling the need to be back among “tribe” more than just yoga or FenCon meetings. This is also being around fans, fellow writers, and artists. We all get a good recharge from being around like minds. This was no exception. Loved being able to catch up with friends and colleagues – and meeting new folks like Ron Cheney – Lon Cheney’s grandson. There’s always networking and business doing – I’ve mentioned my whole conversation with Tex Thompson that’s leading in new and different directions. The panels were fun, thought-provoking, and generally bizarre — and that’s just from the panelist side. Most were well-attended. A couple were small but still generated good conversation.
Was it perfect? No. No convention is. EVER. SoonerCon, like ever other fan-run convention, has turn over and post shuffling every few years. This was one of those years. They kept the problems and chaos to the background. Likely I wouldn’t have noticed at all except for two factors: 1) I’m married to an art show who helps out here – so those things are visible to me; 2) I’m a conrunner myself and good friends with SoonerCon’s people, we help each other out and talk out things. Collaborative efforts, baby, not just for artistic endeavors. But these issues are transient and not deep rooted. No plan survives the first encounter with the enemy. But SoonerCon LEARNS. They evolve. They GET IT.
I’ve said many times before that SoonerCon is the convention to emulate. They combine the best of the “Old School” literary conventions with the relevancy of what “New” fans might want. The hybrid of media con with literary without sacrificing anything – having to spend more time sucking up to potentially high-maintenance media guests at the expense of the writers/artists who built the convention to begin with. They are fans. They’re professionals. They’re some of the most welcoming, open-minded folks I’ve ever met. And they’re doing pretty well at the Reed Convention Center — for now.
I will continue to support SoonerCon as long as they will have me, and I encourage anyone in the region to check them out next year (and the year after, and the year after). We need SoonerCon and they need us. Let’s keep making it happen!
HAPPY JULY 4th — USA!
Last week I mentioned one of the things I need to do to for this blog is take an inventory of what I have so I know what needs reviewing, culling, or keeping.
THIS IS WHY! (And this isn’t nearly all – some of the pics are blurry) You’re seeing the mass of writing instruments. Many have been reviewed. Many have not. And there are new ones coming in all the time (because I have an addiction, I know it.)
So, here we are. I’m starting a “time to get rid of things” mode. I don’t do “SPRING” cleaning (or Fall) because that’s when it’s okay to be outside in Texas. I do Winter and Summer – because that’s when we’re stuck INSIDE.
Anything that doesn’t work will be tossed. Many of the “gently used” but still in decent condition (like the things that come in multi-packs) will be donated to anyone who wants them.
Yeah… this is happening! And if I go back to former patterns, my function tests will be in my fiction word counts – which creates a win/win in the productivity side of life.
So here we go. Crazy ride ahead.
Hello, Wednesday and blog post day. It’s been quite the week. Major Day Job deadlines have been met with time to spare. Survived SoonerCon (which was an amazing bit of fun). Took an interesting step when I got home from SoonerCon – which was to sign up for DFWCon (a writers CONFERENCE – totally different, and a significant financial outlay). Which leads to this post – instead of the basic convention report (which will come).
After having an interesting conversation with Mark Finn and Shawn Scarber at the Koffee Klatch on Saturday, I had another interesting conversation with the amazing Tex Thompson on SUNDAY morning about DFWCon, what’s going on in the DFW area, and how we are all involved. Which then led to a follow up email from Tex asking an interesting and thought provoking question: “What are your goals for this year?” UM…. Um… I had to come up with something more than “write more/better” (because while that’s an answer, it’s neither specific nor accountable enough). So, here I was, still in SoonerCon Recovery mode asking myself, What ARE my goals for this year?
Here’s basically the answer I gave Tex. I want to finish the YA novel I’m working on (which has been given an arbitrary 3rd party deadline of September 1st) and then make PROGRESS on three major projects that I’m asked about:
1) a long-term collaborative effort
2) another book in the Tarbox universe
3) more reality ending fairy tales.
That’s the PLAN, but plans don’t matter if there’s no implementation. And Tex is so very enthusiastic that I have these goals. I mentioned my To Do list – and she shared her Post-It Note goal list on her computer. Because apparently we can have tons of things on our lists, but she finds it amazing that the REAL GOALS can fit on a 2X2” post-it note.
So I’m not sure if she was really thinking I’d do it – but here are our Post-It notes. What on YOUR Post-It note?