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[Writer Blog] Revisions, Collaborations, Mortification

Posted by reudaly on January 28, 2015 in Books, Writing |

Time to get back on some kind of track – and to totally knuckle down and time manage. I will soon have four major projects on my desk. Yes, I said, FOUR. I knew it was going to happen – everything hitting, though honestly I thought it was going to be back in October. Yeah, it’s NOW.

My novel edits are about to hit – along with contracts. I talked with Selina last week for about twenty minutes about what’s coming my way. And honestly, I’m more than embarrassed… I’m mortified by what I’ve apparently been sending out as a novel. I admit it’s an “early” novel. I admit most of my experience is in shorter fiction. I admit I have lots to learn in general – but dude… MORTIFIED.

Now, she’s quick to say the story and characters are strong (my execution, apparently, NOT SO MUCH). But thank goodness I have an editor willing to work with me – in this day and age, that is RARE. And when I do this astonishing amount of work, it’s going to be SO MUCH STRONGER AND BETTER because of this process. I know I’m going to learn SO VERY MUCH and hopefully gain some new skills.

And you see this reaction here? It’s a good one, I think. I’m totally acknowledging I am so very not brilliant. I think the quote goes something like: “Your short fiction is so tight and clean. This was NOT.” She warned me about everything up front so I wouldn’t be mad when I saw the Red Ink of Doom… Honestly? I am a little angry…but not at SELINA, at myself for turning in something I didn’t look at for a long time, had God knows how many blinders on about. That’s not cool – and that’s totally and completely on ME. I have learned stuff since I wrote that novel, but it’s not reflected in what I’ve been sending out. You have no idea how grateful I am that I didn’t throw up my hands and say, “Publishers don’t get me, I’m going to just put this out myself.” Wow, that would’ve been… several magnitudes above BAD.

So what now? Well, first off – to all those other publishers I sent it to first? I AM SO SORRY I sent you such a poor example of my work – that’s not what I do or intended. I’m going to lay in some chocolate – maybe open the bottle of wine Julia Mandala gave me for Christmas – and pull up my Big Girl Pants and DO THE WORK. Because I want Yard Dog – and you – the best possible work I can give you – the readers. It’s what all writers should aspire to do.

Maybe that’s what one of these blog post days will be – my journey through the rest of the novel process (oh, yeah, and I also have to finish two collaborations and a Christmas Play for 2015). I’ll come up for some air at ConDFW. See you there.

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[Pen/Pencil Review] The Lamy Tip Rollerball Medium Point

Posted by reudaly on January 26, 2015 in Review, writing instruments |

This week’s pen review is a “nicer” rollerball (but fun) pen from Lamy. I picked up the Lamy Tipo Rollerball from JetPens in December. It’s referred to as a “medium” point, which I think is a 0.7mm. Part of what makes it “fun” is, in fact, the box the pen comes in.
The Lamy Tipo is a plastic retractable pen with a metal conical tip. However, the design is sleek, modern, and artistic. The Tipo I picked up is the graphite body with black accents, it does come in other body colors for a fashion statement, if you’re into that kind of thing. The body is about 5″ long. The clip is the clicker. It’s black plastic and sticks up above the flat top of the pen for an architectural look. The tip retracts by pressing the clip at the top to release the spring.
The ink is dark and smooth. I believe it’s a 0.7mm. It doesn’t seem to smear as much on nicer paper. It dries quickly and well. The grip is ribbed in black plastic and molded through to a smooth base. It’s a decent writing experience.
The box is a fold open with a nested frame that makes it look like airplane wings. For a Lamy, the price isn’t all that bad. It’s expensive for a generic rollerball – but there’s nothing GENERIC about Lamy. It’s a cool little pen. You might like it.

The Numbers.

1. How does it work?1 – This is a solid working pen. The ink is decent. The point is solid. The retractor mechanism takes a moment to figure out.
2. Look and feel1 – It’s a touch on the short side, but it has a good look and feel – artistic and sleek with a nod to ergonomics and balance.
3. Material0.5 – For the brand I would’ve like to see a better material than plastic, but seems sturdy.
4. Overall Design1 – It’s fun. It’s functional. It’s an average length retractable pen with some artistic details.
5. Price Point0.5 – This pen is on the pricy side. On JetPens, they run $10.50 – which is pricy for a plastic retractable pen. It is refillable. It’s nice, but maybe as a gift pen – because you’re also paying for the cool box.

4.0 out of 5 bronze pencils.

Pencil 4.0

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[Spotlight Post] Return of Procrasti-Brain

Posted by reudaly on January 23, 2015 in Books, Conventions, Spotlight |

Welcome to Friday – I have “Procrasti-Brain”. “Procrast-Brain is a condition that hits when you realize you have a ton of things to do in a relatively short period of time and suddenly the house needs cleaning, the closets need reorganizing, and that one misplaced gizmo that you haven’t needed in six months is now the most important thing on the planet… I haz it.

For quite the while I’ve had Three Major Writing Projects floating around out there. Guess what’s hit my plate in the last week? That’s right, ALL THREE PROJECTS – well, two have been here for more than a week (and one has just moved into a new phase). The third started hitting yesterday, and will land fully in the next week or so – which is motivation to get more work done except for the “YOIKES AND AWAY” Procrasti-Brain onset.

Which means you’ll see me promoting things like this:

I’ve talked about Star Trek Continues before. Vic Mignogna and crew do an astonishing job bringing back the spirit and feel of the original series. I don’t have a ton of money – so I can’t back all the creative (or health-related) projects I might like to, but there are some that speak to me. This is one of them – because I’ve met Vic, and I’ve known Larry Nemecek off and on for years. Also, The Original Series is one of the reasons I am who I am now. So, I’m I minor backer, but I’m a backer. And if you’re at all like me, please take a look and see if it speaks to you, too.

I actually picked the level in my budgetary range that garnered me the PDFs of the first three scripts because I want to see how they put together the episodes – there’s always more to learn. SO MUCH to learn…and do…I can’t wait for Episode 4 to come out and what they do with the next episodes. They’re close to their initial goal with plans for the stretch goals. I’d really like to see them be able to do more the way they are – as fans for fans and not for commercial reasons (though the acclaim they’re receiving is fantastic). Good luck to them.

Speaking of things to do… I will be selling books at NORTH TEXAS COMIC BOOK SHOW tomorrow and Sunday. Come see me and buy some books. And if you can’t come see me there, buy books from Yard Dog Press.

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[Writer Post] Oh Hey, It’s Wednesday

Posted by reudaly on January 21, 2015 in Writing |

Oh hey, right, it’s Wednesday… time to get a blog written. I’ve been getting exercise in by raking and bagging leaves (I’m done with leaves now…what’s left in the back yard will become mulch). So now I’m pretty much looking forward to “behind in chair”, kinda done with the moving for a while.

I’ve got a pile of editing on my plate – two different collaborations. Then comes the writing, the rewrites and redos. And just the…doing. Which wanting to curl up in the chair with a heating pad and Aleve makes much easier. I’m not sure how/when it’s all getting done, but it will. There are deadlines involved, so that’ll help as well.

I know this post is a bit thin, but the TO DO pile won’t get smaller by procrastinating. So I’m off to it. Kinda nice to also see the publishing industry quiet for now, too.

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[Pen/Pencil Review Post] Zebra Sarasa Study Retractable Pen

Posted by reudaly on January 19, 2015 in Review, writing instruments |

This week’s pen review is a basic, workhorse type pen with some fun little details. It’s the Zebra Sarasa Study – in a 0.5mm point and black gel ink – because they’re good like that. I picked this one up on a JetPens after Christmas shopping order.
The Sarasa Study has a nice, dark black gel ink. This one comes in the 0.5mm point with a metal, cone tip. The plunger is black, but the barrel is clear plastic with a frosted clear rubberized grip for a more comfortable grip. The barrel threading is on the inside, making the barrel smooth and ridgeless for extra comfort. The ink is smooth and doesn’t smear much. It writes quite well.
This pen is about 5.5″ long retracted and about 5.75″ long with the tip extended. This is a typical length for a retractable pen, and it’s well balanced and has a decent diameter.
One of the fun details on this pen is the ink tube. The sleeve holding the gel ink has markings to let you know how much ink you’ve used in the refill. Theoretically, it’s to motivate good study habits by giving the writer a sense of achievement by showing how much ink’s been used. I don’t know if that’s an accurate measure of productivity – but it makes me happy to see. I’ve always been checking ink levels, this makes it easier.
The clip is the other fun detail. They call it a “binder clip”. It’s a spring-loaded, hard plastic clip matching the ink color. It is break-resistant and strong. It does secure well to a wide range of materials. This pen is refillable and economical for a good quality workhorse pen.

The Numbers.

1. How does it work?1 – This is a solid, utility pen. It’s inexpensive. It comes in the three primary colors and has a good solid line with smooth ink.
2. Look and feel1 – It’s average length with a good diameter. I like the clear barrel and the markings on the ink for “productivity”.
3. Material1 – It’s an inexpensive utility pen. It is what it is, and it’s solid for what it is. The clip is metal and plastic and strong.
4. Overall Design1 – It’s okay. It’s functional. It’s an average length retractable pen with some fun details.
5. Price Point0.5 – These things are relatively inexpensive – though have to be ordered through JetPens. They’re about $2.50 for the pen. The two-packs of refills run $1.45. So you an pretty much use these for the long term. Not sure if the refills have the productivity markings.

4.5 out of 5 bronze pencils.

Pencil 4.5

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[Writing Post] Hitting the Ground Running

Posted by reudaly on January 14, 2015 in Conventions, Life, Writing, writing instruments |

Oh, hi….I’ve been distracted today and still have stuff to do. It’s shaping up to be an interesting month… if it’s going to be the Chinese version remains to be seen.

The big writing news this week – at least in my world – is Gordon van Gelder stepping down from F & SF and Charles Coleman Finley taking over. This is big news. One – Finley is bringing F & SF into “modern times” by FINALLY, finally, finally accepting electronic submissions. There was no reason NOT TO. And TWO – any time the editors of major magazines change it’s news.

Now that I’m City Government Employee, I have MLK Day off on Monday. I’m “celebrating” by having a Redheads of the Apocalypse meeting for part of it. YAY! We’re getting closer on a draft for a possible future book.

The next bits – APPEARANCES – I have some…

My first appearance for 2015 will be the North Texas Comic Book Show in Dallas January 24-25, 2015. I’ll have a table selling books.

I think I’m working part of Dallas Comic Con Fan Days on Saturday, February 7, 2015 – with Devin Pike’s Saturday Shin Dig crew. But I won’t have a table or anything – so it’s not technically an appearance, but I will be around. (And wow, they don’t make it easy to find the correct website anymore….)

The next big appearance is CONDFW in North Dallas – across from the Galleria – February 13-15, 2015. I’ll be doing panels. I believe the full force of the Four Redheads will be there. I’ll be leading a pilgrimage across the freeway to Paradise Pen Company in the Galleria at one point – I do it every year around ConDFW for my birthday. This year I get to take friends and colleagues with me! So much fun.

Now, I have to get back to work – like I told Reading Rainbow. My other long-standing collaboration has come back to roost. I need to get back to work on that. There’s lots to be done. Need to get to it.

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[Pen/Pencil Review] The E+M Germany Shaper Ashwood Ballpoint Pen

Posted by reudaly on January 12, 2015 in Review, writing instruments |

This is a new pen for me. Picked it up on JetPens because it was cool looking. I give you the E+M Germany Shaper ballpoint pen with blue ink. This is a unique capless stick pen that’s utilitarian while being unique and sustainable – and responsible.
The Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) sets standards for harvesting wood with environmental, economical, and socially responsible manners. These stunning pen bodies meet these standards. This pen is the ashwood body shaped in an hour-glass figure that’s both ergonomically sound but also artistically reminiscent of a tree branch. The pen runs about seven inches long with a slender but comfortable diameter. It’s light yet well-balanced and comfortable.
The blue ballpoint ink is a medium point – about 0.8mm – in a brass-looking metal tip. The ink is refillable for a further eco-friendly and economic benefit. The ink is smooth and relatively rich in color, there wasn’t any skipping and minor smearing.
I have to admit, I’ve enjoyed this pen – but not just as a writing instrument. I’ve directed imaginary orchestras with it. I’ve might’ve cast a few imaginary magic spells with it – “WRITICUS MOREICUS!” (Yeah, Harry Potter – or even Harry Dresden, I’m NOT…). If you fidget with pens, this one also twirls like a tiny little baton, too. So, it’s a toy as well as a well-made pen. It comes in four colors/woods and is remarkably affordable – with decently priced refills.

The numbers:
1. How does it work?1 – It works pretty well. The metal tip is smooth. The ink flows well. I still have to figure out how to get the ink out to be refilled in the future.
2. Grip and feel1 – It’s nice. There’s not a lot of varnish or sealant in the ashwood. It’s smooth and shaped to be both artistic and ergonomic.
3. Material1 – It’s responsibly-sourced ashwood milled smooth. The metal ink is refillable and sturdy.
4. Overall Design0.5 – It’s a bit on the light side. There’s no heft to it, if you need heft. It might be too long for some. And though it’s refillable – I’m not sure if I’m just not applying enough pressure or if there’s a trick to replacing the ink – which only comes in blue. I’d also like to see other colors.
5. Price Point1 – For a honest-to-goodness wooden pen that’s artistically and responsibly made, it’s only $4.40 for the body and initial refills. The refills are only $0.80 each – but the refills only come in one color and point size.

I give it 4.5 out of 5 Bronze Pencils
Pencil 4.5

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[Spotlight Post] Remembering John Manning and Plain Language

Posted by reudaly on January 9, 2015 in Life, Spotlight, Writing |

Hello, Friday, you’re looking nice (if Holy Cow, COLD – for Texas). It’s seriously time to rethink the Friday Blog Posts – I’ve run out of steam for most of the spotlights. I still want to do a blog post on Friday, but I need to think about alternate topics and themes (and hopefully something other than memorials – though those are important, too).

Speaking of memorials, I do have to do one today. John Manning – a gamer, a fan, and a publisher – passed away this week. I knew him peripherally. I have friends who knew him more. He fought cancer, quit smoking, was on a list for a transplant of some sort – and finally succumbed to the illness. I didn’t get around to working with him as a publisher, but we talked about it. He was a genre fan of us all. Conventions will not be the same without him. To those who knew him well, my deepest sympathies.

I’ve been doing a lot of reading lately – not only fiction, but non-fiction for the Day Job. I ran across a resource while doing some training. It’s the Federal Plain Language Guidelines. And it’s actually really useful – yes, it’s dealing mostly with “Government-ese”, but it has some things that apply to any style of writing. It’s gives some really clear explanations (and examples)of how/why Active Voice is a good thing and what it looks like – I was told in college that I was “Wordy” but never really HOW to fix it – until I finally said, “What does that mean?”

This guide actually addresses that. It addresses how to write to your audience (one of the best lines I’ve ever seen – “Only write at an 8th grade level if you’re actually writing for 8th graders.”). I’m not all the way through it – I keep getting dragged away from it – but it’s got some really good tips for writing in general. It’s a free download in PDF or Word.

So, we’ll see how this blog section works itself out over time. It might just change to “TGIF” and be a “Rhonda Rambles About Stuff” type posting cycle.

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[Writing Post] All About the Editing

Posted by reudaly on January 8, 2015 in Books, Writing |

Welcome to Wednesday. I’m actually going to get a blog post done before Noon today – mainly because for the next three business days, I’m working an evening shift (2-8 pm) – which feels very…odd. So in this first State of the Writer (ish) post, I’m editing/feedback stuff. OH – and happy birthday to Amber Benson, an excellent writer, person, and convention friend. She has a new book out this week, Witches of Echo Park, go check it out. My pre-order Christmas present was shipping delayed. It’ll be here tomorrow.

The Witches of Echo Park

Price: $6.00

(0 customer reviews)

66 used & new available from $6.00

The “to do” list gets a bit longer. I’m finishing up first round feedback of the last Redheads section. We’re meeting on the 19th (yay, Federal Holidays) to discuss the sections for fixes. Then it goes to being put together, then read for flow. There are many stages to a Redheads book. I should have the paper notes done this morning. Then I need to put this batch into track changes to have a digital fingerprint for this batch. Yes, we each have our own ways of dealing with stuff.

Another of my collaborations has come back to roost. This is a full on Where We are Now edit and move forward. The plan is to have a full early draft done by ConDFW. Which means I need to get me rear in gear, but Redheads hit the desk first.

I have a friend coming in town this weekend and Saturday plans (if the weather doesn’t turn on us – which would really make the weekend interesting with the day job), so my weekend work time will be limited… but with this temporary shift change, I’ll have mornings to work on these projects. Then we’ll see where we stand on other things. But the house is mostly clean, I’m hanging with the dogs until it’s time to get ready for work, and I got to sleep in some. Yay. So, now it’s time to get back to work.

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[Pen/Pencil Review] The JetPens Chibi Mini-Fountain Pen

Posted by reudaly on January 5, 2015 in Review, writing instruments |

Today’s pen review is another small fountain pen. This one is Chibi Mini-Fountain Pen. Which is a slight redundancy since “chibi” means “small” in Japanese. This cute little guy has embossed on the clip.
This cute little guy is a bit longer than the Pilot Petit fountain pens. The pen is about 4.75″ long capped, and 5.75″ with the cap posted. The barrel is a translucent yellow plastic with no real ergonomics, but that doesn’t really matter for something like this. For its size, it’s remarkably comfortable and balanced.
The fine point nib is Iridium from Germany for a smooth line. The barrel takes the short international cartridges. You do have to do some priming to keep the ink flowing consistently, but I find that in most pens that take fountain pen cartridges. I figure it’s air bubbles. The nib is firm but flexible.
This is a cool little thing. You can see the ink reservoir so you know how much ink you have left. I did get some ink in the cap, but that was me being fiddly with it. It doesn’t leak easily. It is also quite affordable through JetPens.

The numbers:
1. How does it work?1 – It works pretty well. The iridium nib is excellent. The fine point to the nib is smooth.
2. Grip and feel0.5 – For what it is, it okay. The diameter is decent, but no ergonomics and a few ridges to dig into the fingers. It’s also short – so that might not work for a lot of people, but I find it pretty cool.
3. Material1 – It’s plastic and iridium. It is what it is. Refillable, but inexpensive. I like the translucent yellow.
4. Overall Design0.5 – It’s a good design for a small fountain pen. If you’re overly active with it, it might leak a little. I did have to prime the nib a few times to keep a consistent ink flow.
5. Price Point1 – It’s just under $3 on JetPens. It is refillable with easily accessible ink. It’s a fun little thing.

I give it 4 out of 5 Bronze Pencils
Pencil 4.0

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