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[Spotlight Post] Easter

Posted by reudaly on April 18, 2014 in Life, Spotlight |

It’s Friday. Good Friday. And I’m sitting here staring at my screen, trying to come up with a post. Meredith is pitching ideas through instant message, but everything’s hitting kinda flat. I thought about doing something for Easter – because Easter’s important to me. Christ is important to me. Faith is important to me. Faith, for me, leads to hope – hope that there is a bigger plan. Hope that there is a brighter future. Faith leads to the assurance that whatever bad happens now is not a permanent situation – but a stepping stone to something greater.

I know there are many on my social media who believe as I do. That fundamentally Christ lived and died to forgive and save us from our sins. Not that we are perfect and don’t commit stupidity, but that we can be forgiven for those things we do that are HUMAN. I try to live by the New Testament commandments of “Love the Lord Your God with all your heart soul and mind and Love your neighbor as yourself.” This is why I am generally pleased with my wide range of friends. I don’t always understand, but I do my best to not condemn or judge because you are important no matter what.

My beliefs are mine. I will share why I believe what I believe if you ask me. And though I do love the differing viewpoints among my friends – you’re the ones who make things fun and exciting – the ones who constantly use less than polite nicknames for large groups of people because of the actions of a few – make me sad and tired. I’m constantly reminded that I have to be tolerant of other people’s views/opinions, while not being offered the same consideration. And that’s … life. We try to change it, but life is messy. I may end up blocking some folks on social media – not because I don’t love them as people, but because I don’t have the energy for the venom. But the ones that offer thought-provoking insights and different ways of seeing thing? My world would be so incredibly boring without you. I love you so much.

I follow a religion of love and forgiveness, and that I will do (on all sides of the spectrum). Forgiveness is an amazing thing… it lets us let go of whatever pain that may have been caused, but it doesn’t mean we have to keep enduring the situation. So, on this Good Friday – this Easter Season – let’s take a moment to forgive the big things and the small things. Let’s lay those bits of pain down and accept the gift of forgiveness.

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[Writer Post] The Next Things

Posted by reudaly on April 16, 2014 in Conventions, Writing |

Hello, Wednesday… Good to see you. Time for a blog post. It’s a “SQUIRREL!” day at work – lots of little, random things to do at work…that’s reflected here…

My calendar has opened up a little. We’re done with working Scarborough Renaissance Festival, but we might go out and play some. The next thing is Dallas Comic Con – which is starting to show its change of ownership. The paperwork and money I paid back in the Fall was apparently an application. I was informed a few days ago that my application for an artist alley spot was accepted, and now I have a contract to fill out…at least they’re honoring the payment I made back then… Oh, and they just shaved off a foot of space. It’s no longer a 6′x6′ space… it’s 30 square feet (or 6′x5′. Glad I pack light. Not a complaint, just the stuff you deal with when things change. It’s weird, and nobody likes change, not really. But I’ll deal with quite a bit to be in the same room as the ENTIRE CAST OF FIREFLY (except Gina Torres) and a big chunk of ST:TNG.

We have set a date for the next Redheads of the Apocalypse meeting. Yes, ROTA fans, there might actually be a FOURTH installment of the series. We have ideas. Time to kick the tires and hope they don’t go flat. So fingers crossed that all goes well. I need to get those notes together before next week. I have them tabbed in a notebook, but having them in a central location would be better.

There are other things I need to be doing… a couple of projects I should be starting while I’m waiting on decisions about things that are out and about. FenCon is approaching the “busy” season. So along with the “writing cap” I also have the “guest relations” cap on. I do, indeed, wear many hats… and now it’s time to go put one on.

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[Pen/Pencil Review] The Pilot FriXion Revisit

Posted by reudaly on April 14, 2014 in Review, writing instruments |

A while back I wrote a review that started:

I’ve seen a lot of chatter on many of the pen blogs and sales sites on the awesomeness of the Pilot FriXon Erasable Gel Pen. A lot of people seem to really like this pen, and why not? It’s a gel pen that comes in a variety of colors – and now highlighters.

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I tried them when they first came out – and wrote the review before my husband mentioned putting in the numbering system to quantify the bronze pencil rating. I had a reward certificate for Office Depot and decided to give this pen another try. I picked up a three-pack of FriXion Retractable Clickers in 0.7mm points.

The barrel is comfortable. It’s about 5.75″ long – which is pretty much standard for retractables these days. There’s some rubber cushioning on the barrel, which is a nod to ergonomics – even if there’s no contouring or real cushioning. The barrels have embossed designs for a cool look. The ink is decently dark – even for the red. The roller ball is smooth. And it does erase pretty cleanly (very cleanly if you put some frustration into it.) I can’t fault the ink.
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The hard “eraser” is where a normal plunger would be, which makes the retraction mechanism less than intuitive. It took me WAY to long to figure out the clicker. It’s not the eraser. It’s not a twist. It’s not even a side click like some pencils. No, it’s the clear plastic clip. Way too long to figure that out. Because I’m not really one to read all the fine print on the back of the packaging just to make the pen work – yes it’s there.

I did read the back of the pack, but it was to check to make sure the temperature warnings were there. They say not to expose the ink to <14 degrees or >140 degrees. The issue I’ve had – and will always have with this pen is that if you leave a pen or notebook in your car during the summer (accidentally or on purpose) the ink be colorless (invisible). The packaging says you can put a pen in a freezer that’s colder than 14 degrees to get the ink color back. I’m told this works with notebooks as well…but I still find that off putting.
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Though they also have a “business” line, I’m hesitant to use an erasable pen in a business setting, because you can’t/shouldn’t used an alterable ink on anything legally binding. But for school or home use, you should be fine. There’s still a stability issue for me. These will never be a “go to” pen for me.

The numbers:

1. How does it work?0.5 – It works. The ink flows well. The pen is an okay length. The ink is dark. The friction based eraser does its job well. The ink is unstable in temperature extremes.
2. Grip and feel0.5 – It’s got traction, not a “grip”. They try. And it’s a straight barrel. The nod to ergonomics is just a nod. The barrel is on the verge of too wide, but still comfortable
3. Material0.5 – It’s a solidly made plastic retractable ball point pen.
4. Overall Design0.5 – The fact they have to put a bullet point on the back of the packaging to tell you how to retract the pen – and hope you’re clever enough to look for it? No. If you like erasable, this is probably a good pen for you. Lots of colors and options. I still want to see a more stable ink. The temperature issues really scare me. And they never say HOW LONG to leave the ink in the freezer below the recommended temperature range to get the color back.
5. Price Point0.5 – You’ll pay for the convenience of erasable. These pens run between $2.25 – $3.00 a piece for the “non-business” style – just the general pen. That’s not horribly over-priced, but it’s not good either.

That’s 2.5 of 5 bronze pencils.
Pencil 2.5

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[Spotlight Post] A Follow Spot of Sorts

Posted by reudaly on April 11, 2014 in Books, Review, Spotlight, What I'm Reading |

I wish I could say this crazy week is over, but it’s not. We have two more days to sell art and hang with the amazing performers and crew of Scarborough Renaissance Festival. I’m trying to get my neurons firing for an actual spotlight, but it’s not happening. Not that there aren’t so many awesome people to spotlight, it’s me and a few focus issues this week.

The Morganville Vampires, Vol. 1 (Glass Houses / The Dead Girls’ Dance)

Price: $8.99

4.7 out of 5 stars (48 customer reviews)

180 used & new available from $0.01

Rachel Caine started production on the Morganville Vampire Web Series. I am so happy for her show getting picked up by Geek and Sundry. This success for Rachel is a long time coming and very much deserved. She is high on the list of people I want to share a Table Of Contents with. I’ve known Rachel for a while, and will work with her ANY CHANCE I GET. I’m so looking forward to the show.

Death’s Daughter (A Calliope Reaper-Jones Novel)

Price: $7.19

3.6 out of 5 stars (134 customer reviews)

211 used & new available from $0.01

Amber Benson looks awesome as Amelie. Vintage designer WORKS on that woman. And Hollywood… figure it out! Amber Benson is underutilized! Stop that! You have a fantastic talent here, don’t squander it, because as someone who’s read her books and is a writer myself? We’ll take her if you don’t and not give her back. I’ve shared a table of contents with Amber Benson, and would do it again in a heartbeat. Yes, I’m being a fan girl…someone’s gotta do it.

Basic Bob: Parodies, Travesties and Anomalies

Price:

(0 customer reviews)

1 used & new available from

Looking forward to Robert Picardo playing Oliver, though I always pictured someone physically bigger and more intimidating, I’m looking forward to this. I’ve never really seen Picardo play a villain and this is going to be good since no one really knows (ever) what’s going on with Oliver. Is he Evil? Yes. No. Kinda. Not as “complex” as Myrnin, but a good juicy character that I think Picardo is going to rock with.

The Seat of Magic: A Novel of the Golden City

Price:

(0 customer reviews)

0 used & new available from

And for something else, J. Kathleen Cheney was so amazingly kind to send me the ARC of her second book, Seat of Magic. If I weren’t in the middle of a book given to me by a friend, I would’ve already delved into this, but I’ve got to finish reading Silverlock first. I’m so excited to get to read the pre-publication version. I’m probably going to buy the final 1) to see if anything changed from the “uncorrected proof”, and 2) because I’ll want the covers to match. But DUDE, I get to read it before you do… neener. If you like Alternate Universe/Historical Fantasy at all, get the first one – The Golden City. You’ll want to know what’s going on when Seat of Magic comes out in July.

The Golden City

Price:

4.4 out of 5 stars (17 customer reviews)

0 used & new available from

So now, I have to stop talking about other people and get back to my stuff. I can’t let stuff distract me any longer. I need to start on new projects – even though they’re not sold yet – to keep me in the game, and maybe, just maybe if I get really rolling on one or the other, I’ll have to stop to work on something contracted…8-)

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[Writer Post] Pulled Focus and Adulthood

Posted by reudaly on April 9, 2014 in Life, Writing |

It’s another one of those weirdly random weeks (and really, when is it not, right?), but this one has had me going in a lot of different directions. But go check out the current Mind Meld on SF Signal. This was a touch question, but a fun one to answer – once I narrowed down choices.

Sunday I had my wallet (and other Ren Faire associated accessories) stolen, so I’ve been dealing with the lovely fun of replacing my driver’s license, credit cards, and talking to police. The thing that hurts the most is the loss of the shawl my mom made me several years ago. I don’t have a good photo of it, but it was warm and pretty, and my mommy made it!

The on-site folks were awesome. The investigator, not so much, but really there’s nothing he can do. He was just borderline snarky about some stuff. I understand that he probably hasn’t had the best experience with “rennies”. I get that if the thief doesn’t try to use the cards there’s nothing he can do – “since you didn’t see anything, I don’t have anything to go on.” Come on, dude, if I’d seen anything the conversation with the investigator would’ve never happened. I would’ve yelled loud enough that at least six people would’ve pounced (and this is after canon when 2/3 of the cast are fleeing to change). There would’ve been an arrest report not an incident report.

So, in dealing with that, it’s pulled focus. I’m trying to get my brain back in the game. Still reading a book for feedback/editing. Started re-reading a WIP while waiting for responses on things I have out – debating starting a couple of things in case of positive response. Hence the pinball effect…I also have SO MANY THINGS I want to read – like the ARC of Jeanette Cheney’s new novel – the second of the series.

I should probably get back to it. Make use of the time I have to attempt to get something accomplished even if it’s a little bit here and a little bit there. We only have one more weekend at Scarborough this year – our artist is only there two weekends this year – so that excuse will no longer be valid – but then we gear up for Dallas Comic Con, baby…

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[Pen/Pencil Review] Motiva Rectractable Ball Point Pens

Posted by reudaly on April 7, 2014 in Review, writing instruments |

Today’s review is of the Motiva retractable ball point pens – a 5 pen multi-color pack. Motiva is a “house” brand from Staples. I picked them up with a rewards bonus.
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These Motiva pens are packaged as an “advanced ink system”. They are ball point pens in a 0.7 mm point – called “Fine”, which I’ll take – in a basic retractable design. This pack came in blue, black, red, green, and purple. The barrels are color coded to the ink with some transparency to the upper barrel so you can see the ink levels. The barrels are about 5.75″ long regardless of retraction. They have chrome plated stainless steel accents. The grip has cross-hatch pattern rubber grip for that tactical grip feel.
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This ink is proposed to be kind of a hybrid between ball point and gel ink. The packaging says these pens have the functionality of ball points with the smoothness of gel. And I can see that. I don’t see a lot of skips and glops to the ink and the smearing is minimal. The flow is smooth. The colors are decently dark and rich for the fine line – except the green. The green isn’t BAD, but ball point green ink just is never dark enough for me.
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For relatively inexpensive ball point pens, they’re pretty cool and affordable.

The numbers:

1. How does it work?1 – It works. The ink flows well. The pen is an okay length. The mechanism works.
2. Grip and feel0.5 – It’s got traction, not a “grip”. I’ve never been a fan of “tactical” pattern for a grip. I want a touch of squish, not traction. And it’s a straight barrel. The nod to ergonomics is just a nod.
3. Material1 – For what it is, it’s fine. It’s a solidly made inexpensive retractable ball point pen.
4. Overall Design0.5 – Though I love it being a fine point -that means the green and red ink are a bit light. I like the ability to see some of the ink levels. Not sure how much is left after the grip, but hey…Not a fan of the grip.
5. Price Point1 – According to the website, this multi-color 5-pack is $4.79 – which makes them under $1 a piece. That’s well in line with that this pen should be. I would totally pay that for this pen. If they walk away for whatever reason or get lost – you’re not out a significant investment. Love that.
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That’s 4 of 5 bronze pencils.
Pencil 4.0

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[Spotlight Post] Tiffany Franzoni & Roll2Play

Posted by reudaly on April 4, 2014 in Conventions, Spotlight |

Hey, look a Friday spotlight post that’s actually a spotlight! Today, I’m going to introduce some of you to Tiffany Franzoni – owner and operator of Roll2Play game store, and all around cool person. She not only runs a great business, she put on a heckuva event called T.A.B.L.E. this past weekend.

I admit, I’ve never been a fan of games. I “explain” that as being an only child. My mom liked them, but Dad didn’t, and a lot of games need more than two people to be fun. Jimmy’s the gamer in our family – but his family played a lot of board games growing up. And though he plays some online, he’s never been one of those who’s so engrossed in a game that anything was neglected. I, on the other hand, would probably be that person, if I let myself.

Anyway, in trying to encourage both my husband and to support Tiffany, we’ve been to the store a few times, and when Tiffany came up with an idea to host an even that would (hopefully) encourage “Gamer Adjacent” people (like me – and I appropriated the term from Wil Wheaton’s description of his wife) to at least TRY some games, Jimmy supported it on Kickstarter. Fortunately, she gained a lot of support throughout the gaming community and fans and it happened. And she had some STELLAR gaming support **Cough**Steve Jackson**Cough**.
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Due to the timing of the event, we weren’t sure if we were going to be able to attend… but as it turned out there were some hours in our weekend where he wasn’t working. So, away we went. And I played three games – which doesn’t sound like a lot, but 1) out of my element, 2) limited time, 3) found out about a death in the family…so I did what I could.

Loved learning to play “Fairy Gloom” (which isn’t out yet) from Keith Baker – who created the game. Seriously, the coolest way to learn how to play a game is from the guy who created it. And I did meet and get to know some people I’ve met before on a different level. It was also pretty cool to just be an attendee for once (I *really* don’t know how to do that anymore…). I loved seeing all the people who came out to support Tiffany – and I hope she can have another one.

So, if you’re looking for a game store and a small business to support – check out Roll2Play in Carrollton. Tell Tiffany we sent you . It won’t matter, but she’ll know where the traffic came from. Why? Because Tiffany is GOOD PEOPLE, and getting people into games helps build and maintain our community – and she does A LOT for our community as well as provide some good fun.

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[Writer Post] Coming up with the Next Thing and T.A.B.L.E.

Posted by reudaly on April 2, 2014 in Writing |

It’s blog post day, and it’s one of “those” weeks. It’s April in Texas – which means wildly unstable weather… so that means sinus issues that make thinking…interesting. There’s been a loss in the family which has thrown some planning out of whack. And our truncated run at Scarborough starts on Saturday. Add to that I’m in the writer waiting pattern, and that makes for “Squirrel” brain. I need to figure out something to work on so I can force myself to focus.

It’s not that I haven’t accomplished stuff since I kicked a bunch of deadline behind. I finished reworking a story and submitted it. I reworked a story for the sole purpose of being able to do dramatic readings of it at Road Shows when the opportunity arises (still debating doing a short script version of it). I’m reading a YA novel a college friend wrote for feedback purposes (and learning how to do notes in .epub versions). And I did come up with an answer for a MIND MELD question for SF Signal. So it’s not like I’ve been COMPLETELY slacking, but it still seems like I need to be doing something… more…while I’m waiting for other people to make decisions on other things.

Oh, I did move outside my comfort zone this past weekend. I’ll talk a bit more about it on Friday in the Spotlight. Jimmy ended up with a small amount of time off this weekend (he’s been working some crazy hours, and he’d backed a gaming convention called T.A.B.L.E. that was supposed to show family members or friends of people who like games (mostly tabletop) what all the fuss is about (so basically, me). And it was very cool – especially since the first person I met was Steve Jackson. There’s something very surreal and awesome about learning to play a game from the person who created it.

This was put on by an acquaintance of ours, Tiffany Franzoni, who owns Roll2Play. She’s awesome, and so is her store. If you like games and live anywhere near Coppell, you should check the store out. And now, it’s time to figure out what I should be writing.

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[Pen/Pencil Review] J. Herbin Lie de The (Tea Brown) Ink

Posted by reudaly on March 31, 2014 in Review, writing instruments |

So last week, I talked about the J. Herbin roller ball hybrid pen that I really like. Because I have some family stuff to deal with this week, I’m just going to add to that by talking about the Lie de Thé (Tea Brown) ink from the same company. You saw it a bit in the last review, and it’s also from JetPens.
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The J. Herbin Lie de Thé (Tea Brown) ink comes in the standard short international cartridges, giving you a wide range of pens in which to use the ink. This ink comes from the “Jewel of Inks” series, which has been around since 1700. The ink is water-based, lightfast, and non-toxic. It’s also called “pH neutral” so I would assume that means “acid free” for archival issues.
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The ink does dry fast. It’s got a good, rich pigment. I struggle with brown inks. Sometimes I like them, other times not so much. I do like this one. It’s a good chocolate-y mocha brown – not too dark. Not too light. There is a disclaimer on the website that cautions about freezing – this is a water-based ink, it will expand when frozen so it might cause leaking, but unless you keep your pens and ink outside in the winter or in your freezer, I don’t see that as an issue.
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The ink comes in a charming metal canister holding six cartridges. The canister, though nice, does affect the pricing of the ink. But if you’re really picky about the ink? It really might be worth it. This ink does seem to last a lot longer than other inks I’ve used in similar cartridges. I’ve used it pretty frequently in the roller ball pen, and I still haven’t come to the end of the first cartridge – so there is that to also consider. You might pay more, but if it does last, then it might be worth it.

The numbers:

1. How does it work?1 – I like it. The color is rich. It’s smooth and lasting – at least in the roller ball. I haven’t used it in a fountain pen.
2. Grip and feel1 – Obviously there is not “Grip” to an ink cartridge… but the feel of the cartridge is good. Unless you freeze it, there’s no indication that any of the plugs or seams are going to give.
3. Material1 – It’s a good quality international cartridge with an extremely good quality ink. The pigments are rich, the water-based design lets the ink flow out of the cartridge easily. The pH balance is nice.
4. Overall Design0.5 – It’s a classic design for an ink cartridge, just has the aluminum container – which though cute, the lid doesn’t stay on as tightly as I would like. I have to keep track that cartridges aren’t spilling out somewhere.
5. Price Point0.5 – These are only really available on JetPens, so you have to order them. The canister only holds 6 cartridges – and the container costs $5.50. That’s more expensive than Pilot or Kaweco by quite a bit, and I don’t know if that’s a direct correlation to the container or the quality of the ink.

That’s 4 of 5 bronze pencils.
Pencil 4.0

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[Spotlight Post] Pre-Scarborough Post And Baking Question

Posted by reudaly on March 28, 2014 in Spotlight |

Welcome to Friday. This is the beginning of a much shorter marathon for Jimmy and I, but the same one for so many of my acquaintances who will be going through final rehearsals this weekend for Scarborough Renaissance Festival this weekend. Yes, friends and neighbors, it’s Scarborough time of year again. And this year, if you’re not of Sporting Event Mind, it might behoove you to come out to Opening Weekend (April 5-6) and get away from the DFW Metrolplex and the insanity around the NCAA Final Four and NASCAAR.

I find it a touch bittersweet that we will not be participating in all eight weeks – we’ll be running Red Roo Art (for Ruth Thompson) the first two weeks ONLY – along with these crazy talented people. I love watching them work. I really do. They do SO much – often times in challenging (putting it mildly) conditions. Heat, cold, rain are bad enough – don’t get me started on wind and DIRT. These people are amazing, and this year is going to be … different.

I don’t think I’m going to be the only one turning around and half-expecting to see Queen Anne (Shannon Hopps) sailing along in her majestic purple and gold with Guard trailing behind – or having an intense discussion with some small child on the joys of rocks. I’m so happy she’s having other adventures, but witnessing the transition is going to be interesting, too. I know this cast and crew are pros – but the dynamics are now just subtly different (as it would be in “real life” when there’s a “loss”). It’s the same…but really, really… different (and different is just that…neither good nor bad, it just IS).

And as much as I would love to be out there watching all unfold, the booth has only been given the two weeks, so we’ll do what we can, see who we can, and see what happens. It’ll be nice to have some of the Spring back, we’ll miss the additional income. Maybe I’ll bake again… at least for the Opening Weekend, but what to bake? Butterscotch Triple Chocolate Chip or Brownies?

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