Wow. It’s Wednesday. It’s January. And I’m trying to shoe-horn everything (it feels like) before February. Busy-ness consumes all – which in a way is good because… Job Security – but there has to be a balance. We had a friend stay with us for a week, which was awesome but also throws everything off (we are all creatures of habit). But now…getting things back to something resembling “normal”.
Fiction is still slow. Still debating typing up the “Write the Story” exercises – which will make me do them more. But I wrote some last night after eating and getting my brain back from the Day Job. I go home with my brain full of STUFF (not mucus anymore, thank goodness, or at least as much). There’s so many projects with different data sets playing handball in my head. AND we have to be concerned with the Inauguration.
I’m talking with the people who made the planner I was excited about this Christmas. It’s got a manufacturing defect. I also find I’m not using all the features I thought I would and maybe something…simpler would’ve been better. BUT… I hate thinking I wasted money (not the cheapest thing) on something that should’ve been awesome but might not turn out to be… so muddle! But the customer service response has been quick (when I found it) and polite just not “great”. They’re offering a partial refund and coupon for my next order. Which is fine but not great, because do I really want to spend MORE money with them? Ponder. Might talk more about this on Monday.
THANK GOODNESS I have a yoga immersion weekend this weekend – getting there close to “We start RIGHT. NOW.” But I will be there! For now, getting through Day Job. Getting some words down on paper. And looking forward to ConDFW in February.
So, two things have derailed today’s blog post:
1: My dear friend, Nora, is in town and staying with us through tonight, no we have spent the whole day poking through resale shops. So, tired, hungry, and probably playing one last round of Settlers of Catan: Cities and Knights.
2: MLK Day off — which allowed for the above to happen (and the sadness of my yoga instructor being ill and canceling class tonight) which also distracted me from getting stuff done.
So, in my excuse-filled absence, go check out Tokyo Pen Shop, through February if you put in the code RHONDAEUDALY they will give you 10% off your order.
I need to take advantage of it myself. Enjoy the rest of the holiday, I will get back on track.
OMG, what day is it? Oh right, it’s Wednesday and blog day. I tried to write one earlier…and here we are. Confession time, my word counts have been…sporadic…at best. The reason – which I am still working on – is because the Day Job is piling higher and higher with important and transferable skill projects all hitting this month and stretching through April (and probably beyond).
One of the big things is that I’ve been assigned to basically be a “con chair”. I’m planning the 2nd largest event our department does in a year that deals with the public and private sector partners. It was something I kind of wanted to do…so kinda yay, but it’s going to be a lot of work ALONG WITH all the other stuff I have to do. In fact, I get to pick the day of this event. I’m planning it to be just before we go to SPECTRUM in Kansas City so I can be mushy there.
No excuses but there are times when we all have limited brain bandwidth. I’m trying to figure out the magic mixture (because this all hit just after we got back from the holidays) that lets me get everything done while still remembering things like how to tie my loafers (yes, I know you don’t tie loafers, that’s the point of the full brain) and making sure there’s coffee in my system.
This is what writers deal with on a daily basis. I will get my act together – because honestly, I don’t have a choice. Right now, it’s overwhelming, but I’m processing. Several of the bigger deadlines are sort of staged and spread out – but several are right at the end of the month. So if I know this is a specific crunch time (which it totally is) then I can work with that. Tiny word counts, a couple of the exercise stories, maybe even just some notes and writing doodles, but it’ll keep me on track for when the load starts lightening. Then look out! Full steam ahead – I just have to get to the rail switch.
There it is. Yes, if you’re serious about writing you do what you have to to make it work. I am doing that. The words may not be EVERY day, but the commitments are there, the professional development (okay, industry-related podcasts) is there, but what’s important is knowing my limits. There are going to be days where tying loafers or hitting the button on the coffeemaker is just ONE TOO MANY THINGS. Then let it be too many things. I’m also committing to spend less time playing a game I’m totally sucked into because – dude. BUT…but there’s also a time and place for that (usually for me last thing of the day to help kind of clear the brain hamsters – the less obnoxious cousin to the brain weasels. I just can’t let it be a bigger distraction than it can be.
I promise I’m going to get to ACTUAL pen reviews again soon, but I didn’t have a moment to spare today (much). But I’m getting a blog post in.
Jimmy discovered – and enabled me again – a new pen and pencil outlet online – Tokyo Pen Shop. He discovered some Pentel 205s he didn’t have there. And after a quick look through to get a couple of things to bump his order over to free shipping ($25 like JetPens), I found some things I either missed in other places or didn’t know about. I picked up a pen a tiny reporter’s notebook to try out. I look forward to doing a full review of them in the future. The fact they also threw in a piece of candy and a sticker is a bonus.
I did, indeed, add the sticker to the back of the notebook – and it just fit to make it a personalized experience to me. We’ll see how things go. Pricing seems comparable to JetPens. I’ll be doing some comparisons down the road. Or when I’m ready to do more, just spreading the love. But so far, the pricing has been great. We got the order in quickly with the treats. I’m impressed with them so far.
So go check out Tokyo Pen Shop – they’re in Iowa, I think. You can tell them I sent you, but they don’t know me yet, so it might just scare them. 😎
Welcome to the first Wednesday of 2017. Time for new beginnings and new ‘tudes. Hopefully some new habits and productivity. There’s a lot going on in the next few months, but I’m dedicated to making it all work – because honestly, there’s not much choice in the matter. Failure isn’t really an option – but there are degrees of success. So, here we go, once more into the breach.
I will cap out 2016 by addressing the topical elephant in the room – Marvelous Nerd Years Eve. There was good. There was bad. There was ugly. My ugly wasn’t nearly as ugly as others.
The Good – Nichelle Nichols is EVERY BIT as beautiful, gracious, kind… add every glowing adjective you can think of here… as every story you’ve ever heard about her. And she LOVES butterscotch triple chocolate chip cookies. Every Animaniac voice actor (especially Maurice LaMarche and Jess Harnell) are brilliant, lovely, talented people who even chat with fan girl guests.
But most especially, the boots on the ground that came together around Devin Pike to make this show something entertaining for those who came. They pulled major miracles. Devin Pike nearly killed himself to make this work. There were people who tried VALIANTLY to keep Devin Pike from not actually physically DYING while trying to fix this show. Sadly… there were so many things Devin’s Army couldn’t control or fix though they tried to make it all less visible.
The beautiful handful of people who came to my panels, listened to me ramble, asked questions and were all around good eggs.
The Bad – If you want to know the basic issues? See my post about the OKC Geek Expos show. Many of the same issues – lack of signage directing people anywhere, split levels that confused folks, etc. And, frankly, the show was too long, too expensive, and at a poor time of the year for it. It was one of those IDEAS that was brilliant on paper but didn’t quite materialize. Attendees steadfastly made NO EYE CONTACT with artists and vendors for fear they’d buy something.
Lack of consistent communication amongst staff. Not everyone knew what VIP passes, Guest Badges, or other perks meant.
The Ugly – The seemingly lack of regard/respect for the “University” side of the programming track by SOME upper level staff. Starting with having to push to get the tables promised to writer/artist guests – which was the only “payment” most of us received for providing hour long panels/presentations. The panel room assignment was changed the week before the convention with no notification to us (we had to check the website and the wall signs) to a room that doubled as a dance party room. Only ONCE was the room actually set for a traditional panel, and on that day I was told I got a little excited about making it so, it was being taken care of (I cut that guy some slack, he’d just gotten laid off from the convention) AFTER they’d set up the Speed Dating room. I had to shoo dancers and speed daters out of the room for my panel. One author canceled one of her panels because the hotel was taking out tables and chairs to set up for the dance party that night. And I personally helped set up chairs so the third author could hold her panel after we had to shoo out the sound and light crew. But for the most part, we did what we agreed to do – we held panels. We gave presentations. It’s what we signed on to do.
This is IN SPITE OF being a guest of the convention, listed in programming, and advertised on the front page. It’s one thing to know you’re not the draw (or the financial responsibility) as one of the actors. It’s another to basically have your nose rubbed in it like an unhousebroken puppy. It’s one thing for certain staffers to think or believe authors are a waste of space or resources, but this was so very overt. RESPECT AND PROFESSIONALISM go a long way – and yes, both directions. But for the most part, we writers did what we agreed to do – we held panels. We gave presentations. It’s what we signed on to do.
Future con runners! LEARN FROM THIS. I will go to hell and back with Devin Pike. If he ever does a show again, I’ll support him. The crew behind THIS show? Never again. I know who they are. I know where they’re based. I gave them a second chance with this show because of Devin. Twice bitten, baby. Twice bitten. I may not totally give up on pop culture events, but I will have major trust issues.
Today is the holiday day off for New Year’s Day. I’m also recouperating from a long weekend at a convention. I did play with the Faber-Castell Grip Plus Ballpoint pen when one of my Sherpa inserts ran out of ink this weekend.
I’ve also picked up a couple of other things during After Holiday Sales – I broke down and got a whole set of 0.5mm Papermate InkJoy retractable gel pens in the 12 color pack (because it was on sale at Staples).
Then today I got the infamous “inventory reduction sale” from Paradise Pen Company – since ConDFW next month is in Fort Worth instead of near the Dallas Galleria – we went today instead of trying to figure out a Birthday Pilgrimmage. I have a couple of new pieces that are part of “Christmas Money” and some being put away for birthday.
So next up, back to actual pens! And organization. And yoga. And STUFF. Bear with me. The tracks are realigning and we’ll be heading in a forward motion very soon.
Last blog post of 2016 and it’s punctuated with loss and some frustration – which I guess sums up 2016 in a nutshell. Loss and frustration. Good things happened, but it’s been a pretty dark year over all. I’m looking forward to 2017. I have PLANS, man. Lots of PLANS. Going to try to shake this “what’s it all for” feeling that I’ve been getting from the for-profit/commercial conventions.
I know I’m not the only one struggling with writing, promotion, and marketing. We all are as writers try to navigate the new publishing paradigms. Writers have to carve out their own ways of building and maintaining an audience. There’s only so much a person can do through social media. It takes getting out in front of people – and therein lies the challenge.
The fan-run, more literary conventions are great. They treat writers well. Writers get to hang with other writers to recharge and connect with each other. The downside (if you can call it that) is that you often see the same faces. Which is great in the push to create new material, but as others point out, it’s a diminishing return. Then there are the commercial conventions where you can go to sell books to people who’ve never heard of you – however, this is more difficult because you’re either paying A LOT for tables in the artist alley and hawking your wares (which many are good at doing), or hoping more than 6 people come to panels that aren’t well-advertised because no matter the good intentions, the actors are the money draw and get the focus.
Did you see that? Writers (and most artists) – unless you’re at a rarified high level – DO NOT GET PAID to do shows/conventions. At MOST we get tables costs (which comes with the badge) or entrance fee waived. Some comic shows will pay for hotel for writers they invite but rarely travel. Fan runs pay hotel and travel from their named guests of honor. ALL OTHER PROS PAY THEIR OWN WAY. Let that sink in a moment. Every convention I go to, I’m paying 75% – 100% of my own way there to entertain fans, and hopefully build or maintain an audience. LET THAT SINK IN.
Any money writers and artists make are from products sold – like any other toy, shirt, or other vendor. On top of performing (doing panels or demos). We’re not paid to be at the show. We’re taking time out of producing material to come meet new people and sell books or art or do a panel. Maybe sell some books – IF we have that table. It’s a serious struggle. Is it worth it? Is it not?
There’s no quick or easy answer. We need you, the fans. We need the exposure. We also need to be able to feed, clothe, and shelter ourselves. It’s a very complex shell game. Which is why most of us have day jobs. Which is why many don’t have health insurance or walk a very fine financial line – and/or fight a good fight against pirating.
Just in case anyone was concerned… the pen blog is safe for a while. Thanks to wonderful people in my life who totally enable me. I still have to clean out the GIANT BOX OF PENS – which is part of the Grand Organizational Process of 2017. JetPens did an awesome black ink sampler… so prepare for a lot of black ink. But there are a whole lot of other things, too.
So we’ll see where things head in the new year. There are plans and goals. Pens are just part of it. Another part is actually USING them. One of the things I will talk about more about in the Wednesday blog is this “journal” I received. WRITE THE STORY.
This thing has a prompt and certain elements on each page. Ranging all over the place. Not a lot of space, just a page. I’m hoping to use this as a warm up exercise. Allen Williams triggered this by posting a while back by showing what he drew on just for him before working on the commission work. Cool idea because I know some days I am not feeling whatever novel or short story I’m working on. I’m hoping this helps jog my brain. If it ends up creating new flash fiction or longer works, then all the better.
So pens and things to write. But first… Marvelous Nerd Years Eve. I have panels. I’m told I have a table, but I have no where.
Merry Wednesday Before Christmas. All is TRYING to be Merry and Bright, but I admit this year the holidays a bit of a struggle. It’s not just because 2016 has been a year punctuated by a random acts of suckage, but because there’s also been a lot of OFF.
I know I say I don’t do New Year’s Resolutions – and I don’t the whole “doomed to fail” thing, but dude. I have to resolve to get my head back in the game. This being “Off” has got to end. There’s no real room for my lack of focus and meh-ness.
I do know that part of my “Off” this season was scheduling. Once a set timeline is thrown off – this year by the work trip that took me out for a week – getting back on track is an uphill battle. I know everything’s going to get done and be fine, but so far all the holiday stuff has been frantic, last minute headless chicken scurrying. That’s no good. Feeling behind and rushed just makes everything…harder…and when a distraction/escape comes along, much too easy to throw one’s hands up and say, “screw it.” Then the vicious cycle begins.
Trying to be DONE with that. But as with all cycles, that’s difficult to break. It’s too easy to procrastinate. It’s too easy to say, “Oh, Jimmy’s not feeling well, I’ll take care of him.” Which sounds good, until you realize that that’s code for sitting around watching TV instead of being somewhat productive. There’s nothing WRONG with taking care of an ill loved one (it’s kinda the thing to do) or having a night to watch TV, but when it all compounds, then… yeah.
This is on me. No excuses. No quibbles. Nothing. I did this. I allowed it to happen, compound, and mess with my head. I’m not saying it won’t happen again (it will), but now I see it, recognize it, and hope to mitigate the spiral. Because things to be written.
And now for the good things – next week, Marvelous Nerd Years Eve and … THIS…This right here?
Is available for pre-order and will be available at ConDFW in February. This is the most surreal thing that has happened to me in my writing career. Please go check it out, preorder if you’re not coming to ConDFW. If you’re waffling about coming to ConDFW, let this sway you. A bunch of us will be there. A signing will happen. Other stuff will happen.
As 2016 comes to a close, there’s still time for a couple more pen blogs. It’s been a hard year with loss and change and SO MUCH DRAMA causing some stutters along the way. Thanks for hanging with me as I muddled my way through the year and still sometimes stumble to get things done. This particular blog is a kind of “Favorite Things” type post.
Generally, in the month of December – and especially the week or two before Christmas – I generally pull out the Red and Green ink. It helps keep me in the spirit even when things go wonky. Last week was all about the green ink.
My two favorite green gel pens this season are:
The Pentel Ener-Gel Green Ink – 0.7mm – check out the original review for all the reasons why.
The PaperMate Ink Joy Green Gel – 0.7mm – check out the original review for all the reasons why.
But these are the rich and dark colors of the season – I’m still looking for a ballpoint that makes me happy.
My two favorite red gel pens this season are:
The Pilot G2 Red Ink (fashion element – it looks like a candy cane) – 0.7mm – check out the original review for all the reasons why.
The Office Depot Red Stick Gel – 0.5mm – I’ve had these for years and if I reviewed it, I can’t find it. I should’ve been using the TUL but they’re in a box somewhere. For how OLD this pen is – I’ve had a box of them for literally years and years and they STILL WORK. Nothing’s dried out. And you might still be able to get them.
All of these are affordable, findable, and good solid pens that dry quickly and have a rich color that will have you festive in no time.
To the numbers:
1. How does it work? – 1 The inks are AMAZING, and pretty uniform in drying times. The retraction mechanisms are solid. The stick pen is a stick pen.
2. Grip and feel – 1 – They are basic pens with minimal frills. The two with rubberized grips are pretty comfortable.
3. Material – 1 – These are basic plastic pens and solid for what they are
4. Overall Design – 1 – They’re the most go to pens in my holiday arsenal.
5. Price Point – 0.5 – These are solid, every day pens with fairly decent price points. Good for stocking stuffers.