Today’s pen review starts out with an apology to Pilot Pens. I reviewed the Pilot Petit 1 Green in December. I have it a less than stellar review, but in fairness, I ordered a second one – this one in classic Black -to see if I’d made a mistake, or maybe ended up with a faulty pen… and the fault is mine.
So the recap on the Petit 1 fountain pens. It is small – only 4″ capped and ~ 5.25″ with the cap posted. It is long enough to be useful and comfortable. It’s even a decent diameter. It’s a good size to stick in a purse or pocket without taking up a lot of space. It’s pretty solid for the size. And they do come in fine and medium point nibs – I (as always) opt for the fine point
The system is designed to be pretty easy, I guess. But first, there’s the proprietary ink cartridge. There’s nothing wrong with it, except for the fact you have to buy THEIR ink for this. That’s the same. Where the apology comes in is the little yellow cap I mentioned last time. It’s just that. A CAP. You don’t fit the nib around the yellow bit. The yellow bit comes out, then the nib and filler tube fits securely on the cartridge. This is where the user error occurred. I’m going to claim part of it is the fact that the instruction sticker is in Japanese, and I don’t always get pictograms on the first try. Apparently.
Once I figured out my “User Error”, I’ve found this pen does have excellent ink flow. The ink is richly pigmented – even the initial green was darker and richer than I expected for the color. The black ink flows well from the stainless steel nib and dries quickly for a liquid fountain pen ink and doesn’t skip much. It is quite affordable through JetPens.
1. How does it work? – 1 – Once I figured out where I went wrong, it works really well. The pen fills quickly with ink and stays pretty smooth
2. Grip and feel – 0.5 – For what it is, it has a surprisingly nice grip and feel. It’s short, but well-balanced and has a comfortable diameter. There are a couple of edges leading to the nib, but avoidable. Now that I can use it, it gets tiring after long periods of time, but it’s still good.
3. Material – 1 – It’s plastic and stainless steel. It is what it is. Refillable, but inexpensive.
4. Overall Design – 0.5 – It’s a good design with issues. Once you know how it works, it’s cool. The fact that it’s not as intuitively “plug and play” like basic ink cartridges make this a knock. And that I obviously don’t do as well with pictograms as words, too.
5. Price Point – 0.5 – It’s just under $4 on JetPens. It is refillable, but takes proprietary cartridges. It’s a fun pen that comes in lots of colors. So it’s not horrible. It’s a fun little thing.
I give it 3.5 out of 5 Bronze Pencils
This is going to be short and sweet. I’m thinking about doing something different on Fridays but I’m not sure what. Back in 1985, a high school friend dragged me to see Silverado, she had a giant Fan Girl Crush on Scott Glenn (and really, who didn’t).
Silverado should’ve been a much bigger movie than it was. It, unfortunately, came out against one of the Back to the Future movies, which hurt it. And it’s a Western… but it’s one of the most ICONIC and awesome “modern” Westerns ever.
There’s the right amount of humor and action… John Cleese having his hat shot off by Danny Glover and announcing: “Today my jurisdiction ends here! Pick up my hat.” What’s not to love?
The cast was PHENOMENAL. It’s the only time I fan girled over Kevin Costner. Jake was a brilliant character. I’ve lost count how many times I’ve seen this movie, but I never realized Earl Hindmann from Home Improvement was in it until they covered his face.
Anyway, yesterday I saw Dallas Comic Con announced
Amanda Wyss as a guest. I don’t care what else she’s done, and she’s done a lot! She’s fantastically talented, but she’s always Phoebe to me.
So, I geeked out a bit yesterday on Facebook and Twitter… which started a mini-quote off on my Facebook feed. I was able to tell her on Twitter, and she added this to our quote-off. This makes me silly happy.
— Amanda Wyss (@_AmandaWyss) March 7, 2014
Now, the likelihood of me meeting her at Dallas Comic Con is remote – we’ll be in the same building. But with the new layout, and with the insanity that is Dallas Comic Con, who knows what’s going to happen (I kinda hope I’m too busy selling tons of books to move from my table in the Artist Alley).
But it’s going to be cool to be in the building with someone from Silverado. It remains one of my all time favorite movies. And thank you, ” target=”_blank”>Amanda, for playing in our quote off.
Wow. Okay, hi. It’s Wednesday. I’m deep into Time Management and Multi-Tasking Land. Why? Because I wrote a blog post about wanting/needing deadlines. I guess it’s kinda like praying for patience – you pray to be more patient, you get put into situations that require it.
I committed to finishing a novel and sending it off by the end of the moth. I was mostly done, and it may be on the short side, but it will be a completed novel, so not a completely insane deadline – except for the other things that decided they wanted to crop up. But yeah, that means focusing “Squirrel Brain” into productive things – hence the multi-tasking.
What helps with that is the fact that Dad’s birthday is two days before ORAC descends on our house. So, instead of one marathon cleaning session, it’s happening in stages. That lets me write and putter at the same time. Tonight I’ll be writing while baking a cake – my break will be to sweep floors and wipe down the kitchen.
Some things are having to give, and will have to give. The procrastinator in me has let a few things through the cracks, but I no longer have time for that. Because, by golly, deadlines are meant to be beaten!
And before I go – because I am keeping track of some things on social media during this crazy time… WorldCon and Jonathan Ross. Dudes, check out your hosts completely before asking them to host. Also, I get brouhahas, but dang, it’s hard to be witness to all the tantrums in public forums. I’m all for inclusivity and merit based promotion – but we need to some of it out of the social media forums. There’s a lot of people breaking “Wheaton’s Law” in the name of equality. And when you break “Wheaton’s Law”, you’re no longer an activist – you’re a bully, which is one of the causes of the hue and cry. And yes, that’s an oversimplification, but it’s one that’s being perceived by people now being turned off by our genre. No one wants that.
So, come on guys, let’s try to get along, be professional, and don’t be a … jerk.
Earlier this month we had to hit up Office Max for promotional material bases for the shows I’m doing this month – and of course, hit the clearance aisle. Some of the “Bic for Her” pens were there, and after several people sent me the links to the Oh, so snarky commentary on the pens, I had to buy some. I’ve already covered one of them. This is the other set I bought on that trip.
“This” being the 2-pack of 0.7mm blue roller ball pens. These are actually pretty good. The ink is a good blue. The roller isn’t gloppy or messy. There is some smearing until the gel ink dries, but again, that does seem to be the nature of the gel ink beast. It does dry quickly, but it does need drying time.
These pens are nearly 6″ long with tip retracted and extended. The mechanism is solid and smooth. The barrels are either purple or fuchsia with froofy filigree designs on the barrel. The cap and grip are iridescent gray. The gray grip is concave and slightly cushioned with most of the edges smoothed out, making it relatively comfortable to write with.
I will never understand the desire to create a writing instrument “for her” but you know, if it gets more people to write… then I’m okay with it.
1. How does it work? – 1 It’s okay. The ink does smear, but dries quickly. It’s a pretty solid metal tip that rolls smoothly.
2. Grip and feel – 1 – There’s an attempt at ergonomics, but just an attempt. There are still some edges that can dig. Good length, decent balance
3. Material – 0.5 – It’s a retractable gel ink pen. There are parts that are nice. There are parts I don’t understand. Like the appliqué that feels like it could peel.
4. Overall Design – 1 -It’s a decent cheap pen with dark ink that, though liquid dries quickly. The “For Her” design is a bit fru-fru and unnecessary, but it’s kinda pretty and the pen is functional.
5. Price Point – 0 I don’t remember what I spent on these at Office Max on clearance, but I’m finding them on Amazon for $8.79 – that’s WAY too expensive for what these are. Only buy them if you can get them cheap.
That’s 3.5 of 5 bronze pencils.
I was struggling with what today’s spotlight post was going to be about, and if maybe it was time to find something new to do with Friday’s. I started scrolling through Facebook and saw random pictures with Aaron Allston in them, but didn’t make the connection until I got an IM from Jimmy: Did you see the news agout [sic] Aaron Allston? with the link to The Force.Net. We lost Aaron on February 27th while he was attending VisionCon. Though not confirmed, it appears to be the result of massive heart failure. And now I’m trying to keep it together at work – I can do it, I’ve done it before.
I’ve known Aaron for years. He was one of the first pros I remember hanging out with at ConDFW back in the day when I was starting out. We’d talk in the atrium. For years I would put him on the list of “People You Want to Be On Panelists With” – which generally meant we’d be scheduled opposite each other at every turn. The first time I remember we were scheduled together was an ArmadilloCon autographing. We were able to be on a couple of panels over the years, and I’ve always enjoyed his company.
We had one of those autographings where it was just us for a chunk of time. But it allowed us to catch up, talking about our current projects. He was putting out some stuff on his own. I was putting out stuff on my own. And I think it was that show that Rachel Caine came up and bought something from the both of us – which was a bit surreal (even though she’s been a friend for years as well). He was just fun to talk with.
Aaron was also good at encouragement. At one ConDFW, I’d just found out my story (then called “Hell’s Housekeepers”) hadn’t made Julia Mandala’s Hell of Anthology – it had made it all the way to the final cut, then Mike Resnick sent in a story. Yeah… darn it, and also it was gay minor Greek gods, not your normal hell. I didn’t like the title (I suck at titles), and I was talking to Aaron about it, he suggested “Queer Eye for the Dead Guy”. I ran with that. It took a very long time to sell that story, but 4 Star Stories bought and published it just last month. I always give Aaron credit for that title – and still owed him a drink for it, I’m just glad he stuck around long enough to have (maybe) seen the story.
A few years ago Aaron’s health issues caught up with him. He had a heart attack, also while traveling. I was proud to be part of the fandom that rallied to help him pay for his medical expenses that year. I talked with the other Redheads and we agreed to put up a pre-publication draft of one of the Redheads books – we’ve only done that twice. I don’t recall how much money it raised, but it was pre-Indigogo/GoFundMe, so it was a big deal to come together to help that. There are so many writers struggling with health issues and lack of insurance, we try to help our own. I’m sorry we couldn’t help him on a more permanent level – which made seeing him at conventions since a treat.
Last month, I asked Aaron to write a bio for one of FenCon‘s 2014 Guests of Honor. I hadn’t heard from him in a while, and was about to move one when…on my birthday last week…I got an email from him apologizing for the delay. He’d been struggling with health issues in January. But if I hadn’t found someone else, he’d be happy to write the bio for me. It was his… and now… now, I’m writing this.
I read some of his media tie-in stuff. Star Wars isn’t my fandom. I like it a lot (at least the original movies), but I grew up a Star Trek girl. Aaron was an excellent writer – on of the media tie-in guys who got it right. The writing world – and media tie-in particularly – will never be the same without Aaron in it. Conventions and fandom won’t be the same without Aaron in it. And I, personally, won’t be the same in a world without Aaron Allston in it. So this ArmadilloCon we will raise a glass to Aaron and Neal Barrett, Jr. – faces and personalities we will mourn for their absence and rejoice that they were in our lives at all.
Okay, so this week is moving right along, and look, here it is, Wednesday. And since last weekend was ConDFW, it’s pretty much a given that I’m going to talk about that.
ConDFW is one of my home conventions. It’s the one that gave me my start in conventions as a writer. I’ve gone through a lot of their ups and down, but we stick by each other. It’s a little weird having it in the same hotel as FenCon, kinda like an alternate universe – because the site’s the same but everything is in a different place. And the people are really, really cool.
This year turned out to be a “business” convention. I only had three panels – which, though I could and would normally try to do more, I was too tired to ask for more. We didn’t have any Redhead panels or a Road Show…which was weird but, it was my third show in five weeks. The panels I did do were well attended, which is awesome, but the show was small this year. We did our best to sell books, and I hope we did all right.
By business, I mean I have a lot on my plate for the foreseeable future. I talked to a couple of publishers and editors and have some new avenues and projects. Nothing is ever “for sure”, but if even one of the projects bears fruit, it could be a very, very exciting year. And very, very busy. Which is good – you know those deadlines I was talking about wanting a week or so ago? Yeah, be careful what you wish for.
Now I have to make good on my word. At least one thing is a quick and easy thing off the to-do list, then a bunch of waiting. The rest is going to be a ton of very fun and exciting work and a lot of time management. But I can do it, because…this is what I do. And this is why we writers do conventions, we love seeing the fans and talking to people, but we also go to make those professional connections.
If you’re looking to write – write, and start going to conventions. You never know what could happen.
Today is Monday, and is supposed to be a pen review blog. I say supposed to be, because I’m struggling today coming off my last book show for a couple of months. ConDFW was this past weekend, it’s a three-day, fan run Science Fiction literary & art convention. It’s tons of fun, but also completely exhausting. One of these days I’m going to learn to “pre-load” my blog posts for the days after a convention… today is not that day. Instead I’m going to tell you what’s coming up in the next little while.
I’m in a very slow process of going through the massive hoard I have at home to see what still needs to be reviewed of what I already have. I did my Birthday Pilgrimage to Paradise Pen Company and have a couple of new things to share with you, as well as an interesting multi-function pen that was a gift.
Also in the queue are:
• Neon Sharpies in a multi-pack
• Another offering from BIC for HER
• Probably some BIC Marks-It markers – because I got a bunch for my birthday
• Motiva from Staples
• The Sonic Screwdriver Pen from a Dr. WHO gift set
This blog will have a plan coming down the road, because I’m about to be super busy and have to actually plan stuff out (yay!) and in order to get everything done there’s going to have to be a plan. And there will be some kind of JetPens.com order in the near future as well. And I might throw some notebooks in – because what good are pens/pencils without paper.
But there was one fun thing from the Paradise Pen Company trip – I was able to introduce on the employees there to Uni-ball’s BLX collection. The Vision Elite inks fit in the Sherpa barrels (which is a line from Paradise Pen Company). I have the BLX Red/Black in the flame pattern Sherpa. The employee had never seen the BLX colors before and was in awe of the richness of the color – and it’s way cool in a flame barrel.
So this may not be a pen REVIEW – but at least you’ll kinda know what’s coming. Thanks for understanding. And as always, if there’s something you want to see reviewed – just let me know in an email or comments – and I’ll see what I can do. If you’re a pen company that wants something reviewed, I can do that, too – but it’s going to be honest.
Today is spotlight day. Not sure what to do today… I head over to ConDFW in just a few hours. Then it’s the last of the February show marathon! Woo Hoo! I hope to see many of you there. And of course it doesn’t help that I’ve had … SQUIRREL… focus issues this week. But hey, I started a new story yesterday…and not the point of this Spotlight.
Did you know that “Futurist” and “futurism” is NOT just a style of art? And not something applied to Science Fiction (though it can be – and I didn’t want to use “just” again). There’s a whole society out there of professionals in all kinds of fields – science, marketing, engineering, and even defense – that are part of a futurist society. I met some of them back in January through my friend, Tim Morgan – who learned of it through previous FenCon GOH Karl Schroeder.
I love these people. They’re “mainstream” (aka “mundane”) people who do what I do as a writer. They take a whole bunch of scenarios and play a global version of “What If”. There’s more to it, of course. But you see a little of it here and there in TV, movies, and in most of science fiction. They play the “linch pin”/butterfly effect thing. If “X” event happens here, what’s the result in location “Y” and how does that effect “Z” and “Q”.
In fact the story I started yesterday was inspired by one of the guys who uses this kind of futurist thinking (also called “Strategic Forecasting”) in marketing and design in an exercise he calls “time collider” (it’s my plot bunny… I’m doing something with it, but hey, I’ll share – because we all know YOUR story won’t be anything like mine). And dude, BEST. PLOT. BUNNY EVER.
And you want to talk about an inclusive group? I’ve never come from a “mainstream” even feeling more encouraged and accepted than I did from that party – and those were (in a lot of ways, ie, “society”) NOT my people. Yet, they were. These lawyers, marketing, and oil & gas guys were amazing to talk with and get to know. They’re excited about potential and what could happen.
So if you get a chance, get to know some of these folks. They’re the ones actively trying to envision and plan the future in a real life sense – while I play in the fictional realms.
Welcome to Writer Post Wednesday. This has been a Super-Squirrel Week. My focus has been…lacking. Part of it is coming down to the last show of my Winter Marathon (ConDFW starts in about 48 hours). Part of it is Texas Weather Roulette – last week ice and snow; this week, Spring. Go figure. Part of it is simply distraction.
Saturday, February 22, 2014
12 PM – AUTOGRAPHS – Dealers Room
1 PM – Size Matters! Monsters in Fiction – PROGRAMMING 3 (Trinity VII)
3 PM – READING – Trinity VIII
6 PM – World-Building, and When to STOP – MAIN PROGRAMMING (Addison Lecture Hall)
Sunday, February 23, 2014
11 AM – Mining for Ideas – PROGRAMMING 2 (Chinaberry)
The SFWA debacle continues. Does a professional organization have the right to have an editorial board decide what goes into their communications (magazine, bulletin, newsletter, website)? Yes, they do. No, it’s not censorship. Does said organization have a duty to address issues that concern their entire membership body? Yes… though I am SO VERY MUCH not a fan of “Political Correctness” when it’s been taken to the extremes it is in our current culture. Does everyone in ANY organization have to agree? NO. Because, as Mythbusters “proved” the other night – you can’t herd cats. SHOULD we try to get along, at least in public? Remember Wheaton’s Law… Don’t be a Jerk – in any forum. Because you know what? Having the debate in public, in social media? Not helping attract new members or keep the ones you got. Cudos to the people who want to “fix from within”, because God help you. The some of the rest of us? We don’t see the attraction of joining something just to try to fix it.
On the publication side, I realized I have no “backstock” of stories. Actually I have very little. I’d been concentrating (when that’s been possible) on longer works, I don’t have that personal slush that can be sent out and sold to keep the name in the game while I work the novels. I need to fix that, while also working the longer pieces. It’s all part of the WHOLE, not just pieces. And in the mean time, I have to make some decisions about pieces that have gone un-responded to for long periods of time. This is above and beyond what I would consider “normal” for the glacial pace of publication. I always hate pulling things – smacks of ultimatums which don’t sit well with me personally – but…sometimes, it’s necessary. And now, it’s time to dust off some plot bunnies and see what I can generate.
And today, Cat Rambo wrote a great piece on whether or not writers need to blog. And she makes a good point when she says, “NO.” And it’s true. No one needs to blog. Heaven knows my rambles on Wednesday are a blip in the churning sea of writers writing about writing. But I do other things, too, the pen review and the Spotlights. But for me, it’s not so much the “building the platform” or “branding” (Darn it, Jim, I’m a DOCTOR, not a can of SOUP!), it’s about getting stuff done. Having deadlines and sticking to them, because theoretically I have people counting on me to deliver…something. And that’s what gets it done.
See you at ConDFW!
Earlier this month we had to hit up Office Max for promotional material bases for the shows I’m doing this month – and of course, hit the clearance aisle. Some of the “Bic for Her” pens were there, and after several people sent me the links to the Oh, so snarky commentary on the pens, I had to buy some. And since I don’t get to do my Birthday Pilgrimage to Paradise Pen Company, until Friday… we’re going to start with these.
“These” being the 3-pack “fashion marker” pens - which is a fancy way of saying fiber tip. These pens are just over 5.5″ long capped and nearly 6.5″ long with the cap posted, which makes them the longest pens I’ve reviewed in a while. The barrels are white with floral-inspired art work which also indicates color. The cap fits securely and has a metal clip that seems secure. The length is a little unwieldy, but they’re fairly well-balanced.
The tip is a 0.5mm porous point (fiber point) with a pretty rich ink. The ink is touted as smear resistant and won’t bleed through. And it’s true. The writing sample dried really quickly on good quality, pretty slick paper. I did get it to smear, but has to brush through it fast. It definitely dried faster than some liquid gels I’ve used lately. Not getting it wet to see if it’s really water resistant. This package comes in black, purple, and pink. Not a fan of pink, but it’s a dark pink, so easy to read.
I have concerns about porous points – I always do. I’m not sure how long this will last (especially being 0.5mm) before the tip bends and frays. I’ve used the black one on a journal entry and it’s starting to bend into a chisel point, so longevity may not be the best thing, but they’re not that expensive (if you find them on sale, especially), so you can use them until you break them and not cry over much.
I understand where the snark on the packaging and design comes from, and it’s funny. But all in all, it’s a decent porous point pen if you like the colors. Heck, I might try to see if they have these in “boy” colors to see how they stack up.
1. How does it work? – 0.5 It’s okay. The ink does smear, but dries quickly. It’s a porous point that will warp, wear, and either fray or break – and can dry out if you leave it uncapped.
2. Grip and feel – 0.5 – There are no ergonomics to this pen. It’s all plastic with edges that can dig in and be uncomfortable if you use it for a long period of time. It’s a good diameter, but a bit on the long side.
3. Material – 1 It is what is is – an expensive stick pen with a porous point. It’s mostly plastic with some metal components. It’s not meant to be fancy.
4. Overall Design – 1 -It’s a decent cheap pen with dark ink that, though liquid dries quickly. The “For Her” design is a bit fru-fru and unnecessary, but it’s kinda pretty and the pen is functional.
5. Price Point – .5 – I’m knocking this down because I’m only finding them on clearance sale, so they might be going out. The original price point looks to be about $1.67. Sale price is just over a $1… if you get ‘em in store. On Amazon, there’s shipping, which makes them closer to $2.70 each. That’s more than I would spend.
That’s 3.5 of 5 bronze pencils.