It’s Wednesday. It’s a new month – Hello, March, please behave and let’s have some fun. It’s been a hectic couple of months. I spent a good chunk of last week catching up all my typing on outstanding projects – this is material that’s been in my notebook – longhand is an important part of my process but just sitting there while I stumbled along this season.
I’m working on not stumbling along. It’s probably not the brightest idea I’ve ever had to say “I’m going to focus better” at the beginning of Spring (allergies, blooming things, severe weather season), but I’m going to do my darnedest. There are ALL THE THINGS that need writing. There are many ALL THE THINGS that need finishing. There are SOME THINGS that need organizing. ALL of it need some time management and organization. Part of the plan is to take time chunks – this block will be X, this block will be Y, Z is when everything goes to heck in a handbasket and plans fly out the window (because that NEVER happens).
In cryptic mode…a potential opportunity presented itself yesterday on a random whim. If that ends up working out, there could be something fun happening later this year.
Still getting the word out about Chicken Fried Cthulhu Kickstarter. They’re trying to do a really interesting anthology for World Fantasy and are still have quite a way to go to meet their goal for putting it out. There are seriously good people involved in this project – and you should be too. Please support it if you can – just figure it as pre-ordering (because you know you want to!)!
So now it’s time to be “proactive” (today’s business-related buzz word) about all the stuff that needs doing – because sadly, it doesn’t do itself. Not that we’d really want it, too, right?
Today’s pen blog is a bit different. Saturday, Jimmy and I did a road trip to Killeen, TX to meet up with fellow pen/pencil collector and blogger, George Fox of My Supply Room. There’s a typical feeling among writers about being a fraud or poser… yeah, that was me meeting George and walking into his supply room (I have a pile – and a highly disorganized one at that).
The reason we went down is that where I just grab up pens and pencils willy-nilly, Jimmy is an actually collector of ONE specific thing, the Pentel P 205 series. It’s a basic pencil that Pentel’s been making for decades. Jimmy has most of them and has identified generations and international only selections, the whole thing – again, I’m so not that.
George focuses on historical pens and pencils from the 1950s and 1960s – but has stuff from the whole gambit of the last 60 years. The pictures I took don’t do his personal supply room justice. I couldn’t take the collection (and it wasn’t all of it) in completely. It was like my whole office supply childhood was condensed into one room. It was brilliantly overwhelming. I listened to George and Jimmy talk specifically Pentel. I was part of the BIC/Lindy/Scripto conversation. We did some trading for pens and such.
Discovered in the course of the conversation that 1) many of the pen companies don’t seem have a comprehensive history of their own company/product line; 2) I probably should’ve recorded the entire three-hour visit with George because articles upon articles could be done; 3) I could totally be awash in writing projects just from this conversation alone.
George, himself, is a major source of information. He’s supplied TV shows (Madmen) and movies with period accurate writing utensils. He’s consulted with prop masters on projects. They’ve sent him incredible things (mostly because they don’t want to store the vending machine that dispenses ink pens). Seriously? I couldn’t take it all in. The spin racks, the counter displays, the HISTORY of writing in this one room was overwhelming and astonishing. It’s almost a museum in its own right but in a guy’s house.
I loved being there with Jimmy listening to these gentlemen talk Pentel P205 and doing some trading. George sent me home with a BIC starter set and a couple of pieces. Things I may have used as a kid – or my parents did! He and Jimmy know the same guys online – and are still looking for Brazilian and other sources for the lines that aren’t sold in the US as well as catalogs and history.
I know there are histories of companies like Faber-Castell and the higher end companies – Cross, Conklin, probably Montegrappa and the likes of lines that are in the HUNDREDS of dollars if not thousands. But where are the histories of the “everyday carry pens” – BIC, PaperMate, Pentel, Pilot? Especially Pentel. They don’t exist. This is something that needs to change. Even if it means Jimmy and I are the ones to do it. Jimmy has the collection and the data, I have the writing skills to make it all happen and conversational. Jimmy’s actually starting a blog soon about his Pentel P 205 collection that I will promote mightily here.
And it’s not just the pen lines and pen companies that need to be remembered – but guys like George Fox need to be remembered. His collection needs to be remembered and kept alive after he’d done with it – hopefully through his family or through people like me, Jimmy, and others who share this love of pens, pencils, and the part the writing instrument has played in history.
These are stories that need to be kept alive. I’m a person who loves a good story. And now I’m going on record – if you have pens, pencils, stationary from a relative and estate sale, or anything that needs to have a story told? Tell me. If you want to get rid of it, send it to me, I’ll love it and pet it and call it George. Let’s start collecting more of these stories – the people, the instruments, the history.
George will help people start collections. He started some BIC starter sets, like the one I now have as well as selling folks some old pens they remember from their childhoods. He talks about his collections and his adventures in his blog – My Supply Room. Jimmy will have his blog. I will have my blog – which is going to stay reviews and such, but there’s SO MUCH to write and to learn about and do and handle. I suppose I should get started, huh?
This is really just a scene – but sometimes that’s all you get out of an idea. It’s fairy tale based, sort of.
Prompt: An Unexpected Union
Words: brothers, potato, common, hands, boyfriend, alphabet, scribble, hydrangea, sandwich, tug of war
Once upon a time there were two brothers who were in a frantic tug-of-war over a sandwich, for they were very hungry.
“You are never going to be boyfriend material if you act like common idiots over food,” said the young princess sitting by the hydrangeas scribbling the alphabet on her tablet.
The brothers immediately stopped arguing and turned to the younger girl, their sister. “We’re princes, potato-head,” the older one said. “We don’t have to be boyfriend material.”
“Right!” The boys clapped hands in a high five.
The princess merely rolled her eyes and continued working on her lessons. “You keep thinking that. I’ll keep thinking in general. We’ll see who comes out best.”
The only problem with lovely four-day weekends for one’s birthday, is that suddenly you have to do a bunch of blogs in quick succession because schedules get all out of whack. And, we’re taking a day trip on Saturday to Killeen, TX for reasons which will be another blog post so more schedule whacking (somehow that should be more fun than it sounds, right?).
But… I am somewhat better about words counts. I wrote and submitted a brand new 2000 short story (which ended up having technical difficulties) – which, if it goes will be a good story all around. So fingers crossed for good news.
Debris & Detritus seems to be doing well. Though I hear there was some issue with some formatting in the ebook. If you have one of those that wasn’t fixed or updated, let me know, I think I have ways for you to get it fixed if you want. Seriously good people in this project.
Speaking of seriously good people doing projects, I’m tooting the horn about Mark Finn & Rick Klaw’s new endeavor that’s happening over at Kickstarter. They’re trying to put together a Weird Anthology for World Fantasy 2017 called Chicken Fried Cthulu. They’re not quite a third of the way to their goal – and it’s a worthy goal. So go check it out and support it if you can. Not to mention awesome Mark A. Nelson artwork.
Now I need to go work on stuff before the creative high from ConDFW burns away without me taking FULL advantage of it – even with crazy busy Day Jobs in which I get to do crazy random things.
Today’s review is a day late because I took a four-day weekend for my birthday. It was a nice, quiet, restful weekend that was exactly what I wanted. So besides that, let’s talk mechanical pencils. This one is from Tokyo Pen Shop and Zebra – its’ the Zebra Tect 2Way Light 0.5mm in light green.
This is pencil is just fun. I picked the light green because… duh, green. It’s a sturdy plastic body with a bit of ergonomic grip as darker green rubber rings near the metal tip. The pencil is about 5.8″ long and has both a click mechanism to advance lead and the new(ish) shaker mechanism that also extends the lead. However, there’s a twisting “lock” at the top of the lower third of the barrel that switches the pencil from click advance to shaker. Personally, I’m always a bit iffy on the shaker aspect so I like the choice. There was a bit of a learning curve with the locking part, but I have a tendency to overthink and have fumble fingers. But once you realize the lock is a relatively narrow ring, it’s fine.
< This pencil has a translucent barrel that lets you see some of the mechanisms. And it comes with standard HB lead, but with a fairly high density. I don't see it breaking as much as past leads. It’s long enough to be comfortable with enough nod to ergonomics to not be overly tiring – and I used it a lot over my birthday weekend to finish hand-writing the zero draft of the story. I didn’t had any more lead, and I’m still going (though I’ll replenish it with high-density B because I like darker lead) with what came with.
Next week, I hope to have a really interesting story to share on the blog – or it could just be another review. Stay tuned.
1. How does it work? – 1 It’s a decent mechanical pencil. The lead by clicking or shaking and retracts easily. The lead seems sturdy and less prone to breaking.
2. Grip and feel – 0.5 – It’s a plastic mechanical pencil with a nod to ergonomics. It attempts to be comfortable and generally succeeds but it can be tiring.
3. Material – 1 It’s plastic but solid metal accents in the clip and tip. The locking mechanism is decent when you figure it out.
4. Overall Design – 1 -It’s a mechanical pencil. It’s got a good lead mechanism and a retractable eraser. It is what it is.
5. Price Point – 0.5 – This one is more expensive than what I expect from Zebra – and available pretty much through online retailers like Tokyo Pen Shop. I’m not seeing it on the US website. It’s $10.00, which for a plastic mechanical pencil is a bit more than I want to spend, but it’s solid and decent and pretty cool.
4 out of 5 Bronze Pencils
Note: This story is very Sarah Kuhn-esque. I was reading her book, Heroine Complex when I wrote this.
Prompt: Chasing the Enemy
Words: demon, bystander, escaped, parakeet, destiny, hammer, singing, ash, cathedral, heels
Why did I have today of all days to wear heels? The thought echoed through my brain with every painful step.
Of course it happened on the day I was singing at the cathedral for a friend’s wedding. We didn’t know anything was wrong until ash floated down on the bride and groom instead of rice or flower petals.
The death squawk rang out across the sanctuary as the demon parakeet dive bombed a bystander. That’s when I went to work. Destiny totally sucks when I was rocking the high notes. Now I had to rock the running heels trying to catch a molting, flittery BIRD. How it escaped the portal traps I had no idea, but I was NOT about to let it attack and feed.
I wish I knew where these things I was “chosen” to kill had come from then maybe we could figure out why these chirpy demons demanded pounds of flesh, but until then?
The demon lit on a bird feeder in the garden. I removed my shoes. It might not be a hammer, but the metal spikes worked as well as a bludgeon. Now to find a stain remover to get demon guts and feathers out of my dress.
Rant Warning Ahead:
It’s Wednesday. It’s a short week for me – taking off Friday for a 4-Day weekend (Monday is a Federal Holiday and the city has it off, YAY!) – that just means more stuff in less time. Yay?
Let’s talk about ConDFW. It’s a small convention, very literary. I <3 this convention. Always have. Always will. I’m hoping they can keep it together. I like the layout of the new hotel. Plenty of places to hang out and gather and talk. The sleeping/party rooms/consuite was a minor hike but not unpleasant. The hallway outside the panel room could get congested but you knew where ALL the panels were because they were on ONE hall. The restaurant course corrected (I’m told) after being (predictably) understaffed on Friday.
It’s a great convention for meeting up with other writers and recharging creative batteries. In fact, I’m now under a tight deadline because something came up AT THE CONVENTION. We also pre-launched Debris & Detrius to a lovely response. Which leads to the sticking point… Fan Entitlement.
One of the authors was apparently told she failed as a con-goer because she failed to give someone her full attention during a group signing. Um…what? NO. Stop. Halt. Back the Entitlement Truck up. 1) She’s an AUTHOR not a con-goer. She’s there doing a JOB not just hanging out. 2) She’s a HUMAN BEING not a robot. 3) YOU are not the center of the universe, cupcake.
The situation was weird – group signing, no defined system for getting 5-7 people to sign books, so there were crossing paths and people hanging out and like THREE conversations going on at the same time. It was (good) chaos. So if you got your delicate feelings hurt, you have to take some of the responsibility for that. You picked the chaos to approach. And DUDE, by dumping some kind of YOU SUCK on an author struggling to be extroverted when most authors are cave-dwelling introverts? You’ve done a lot more damage than you perceive to have been dumped on you. NOT COOL. ALSO? You may think you’re being all “constructive” but that’s passive-aggressive bull, you don’t know how many POSITIVE comments it takes to undo that kind of damage. ALSO? We are not there for YOU. We’re there for the collective. It’s PHYSICALLY IMPOSSIBLE to give Every. Single. Person. 100% of our attention 100% of the time. Deal.
Also consider other aspects of timing – my Saturday Schedule had me on programming at 10 am, Noon, 2 pm, 4 pm, and 8 pm. But Rhonda, that gives you an hour to be sparkling and shiny to all the fans of the world. NO. No it doesn’t. At some points in there I had to 1) pee, 2) eat lunch and/or dinner, 3) get into formal wear for Redheads, 4) get OUT of formal wear, and 5) SELL BOOKS. I was “on” and performing – with a personal issue in there that we won’t get into – for almost 11 hours straight that day. At one point I thought I’d HALLUCINATED AN EMAIL because it disappeared into another folder, that’s how scattered I was trying to make everyone happy and be the dazzling professional (stop laughing). So before anyone judges anyone else, take a step back, take a breath, and realize 99% of the time, it’s not about you.
Sorry for the rant, but it has to be said. Now… I have a deadline to meet.
Happy post-Convention Monday. I’m actually going to get stuff done (darn it!). This is going to be a mish-mash. One… don’t forget, Tokyo Pen Company in Iowa. Coupon Code RHONDAEUDALY gets you 10% off until the end of the month. I just used it myself for a small collection of stuff (yes, that’s a hedgehog pencil sharpener). Coupon code works AND the order I put in on Friday? It was in my mail box today.
But there’s also a pen from the Black Sampler Collection from JetPens. This is the UNI Signo 0.28mm retractable pen. Yes, you read that correctly… 0.28mm. It’s one of the finest points I’ve used. And this one was a bit surprising to me. Not only is it a modern-looking retractable pen, I was pleasantly surprised by the feel of this point.
The ink is good for so fine a point. You’re going to lose some depth/darkness in an ink tone the finer the point. But this feels thicker and darker than it should. The conical tip means it’s not as scratchy feeling than some needle points.
These pens run just over 5.5″. The mechanism is smooth. The rubber grip is not textured and seems to be only a slight nod to comfort. The barrel is fine but not EXCEPTIONAL, but it’s a cool pen for what it is, which is a good editing or notation pen if you need something easily transportable and super fine.
Let’s see the numbers…
1. How does it work? – 1 – it works well. The ink dries quickly – especially being such a fine point, but it doesn’t feel that fine and has a solid barrel..
2. Grip and feel – 0.5 – The length is typical for a retractable pen. The barrel is slightly rubberized. But there are no real ergonomics.
3. Material – 1 – It’s a plastic retractable pen. It’s all plastic. The retraction plunger is kind of cool.
4. Overall Design – 1 It’s a decent design for a plastic retractable pen. The ink is decent and dark for a 0.28mm, it’s a smooth decent line. The mechanism works well. It does what it’s supposed to do.
5. Price Point – 0.5 – For a retractable gel pen, the price is…MEH… it’s $2.50, but it’s a 0.28, so that’s not all that common. It’s not the cheapest, but it’s not the most expensive.
Or something like that (I wrote a draft of this yesterday). I’m busy trying to nail some stuff down for ConDFW in JUST TWO DAYS! Ack! There’s a new anthology appearing and a Redheads sketch to polish up. Cats to herd. Ducks to row. That sort of thing.
My schedule is light for Friday, just a reading and a panel. Then Saturday… wow, Saturday. I have even hour panels from 10 am to 8 pm (except 6 pm) – including Redheads and a Road Show. So if I appear to be a bit frazzled or seem to blow past you without acknowledging you – it’s probably because I’m rushing to the restroom or to find some food. It’s not you, it’s me. PROMISE. But Sunday I have just one 11 am panel.
But it’s going to be awesome. I look forward to ConDFW every year. I know they’ve struggled a few years. I hope we keep it going. So come out and join us.
Until I see you there – and so I keep up the momentum – here’s this week’s “Write the Story” exercise:
Prompt: Drama In and Out of the Lab
Words: microbiologist, telephone, hidden, bystander, trench, inside, international, shoe, heights, persuade
“Is creating a hidden trench just inside the lab’s entrance really a good idea?” I asked, easing back toward the cluttered lab tables.
“You won’t let me drop anyone from the heights of the building.”
I sighed. “Dr. Boulder, we’ve been through this. I don’t like the idea of a bystander getting hurt by shoe salesmen going splat on the sidewalk.”
“Humph.” Dr. Boulder reset the holographic projector that disguised the trench and set a bridge. Boulder returned to tinkering with another project. And I went to answer the telephone.
This was my life now. I could’ve been a rich, corporate microbiologist doing research to make Twinkies actually survive a nuclear winter, but no. I let my graduate advisor persuade me to be…here. Boulder was an internationally renowned scientist. It was a great honor to work with one of the greatest minds of the world.
Except he was bat crap crazy. My job was to provide the net – avoid the traps, and keep us both alive.
A startled scream and a meaty thunk followed by a plaintive “JOANIE” dragged my attention back to the crumpled form of a paranoid scientist. He forgot the ejector panel. I grabbed the trauma kit. Just another day in the lab.
Here we go. Pen review day. Woo hoo! I’m getting stuff done on schedule again! Let’s hope I can maintain! This is a multi-pack of Sakura Ballsign retractable gel pens in the 0.4mm tip.
These are an interesting line of pen. These are slimline retractable gel pens but with a bow at the grip to make the grip diameter wider and easier to handle. The grip part of the barrel is tinted the ink color, but the rest of the barrel is transparent. The ink is smooth and rich in a long refill that makes the barrel seem to have an inner color match lining, but it’s actually the ink barrel with a lining.
The plunger to the pen does have a color match lining with a slight ridge to the end cap. The retraction mechanism is solid. The clip is small but seems strong. I don’t foresee the clip snapping off unless you fiddle with it for an extensive amount of time. The pen runs just over 5.25” long both retracted and point extended.
The line is thin, obviously, it’s a 0.4mm – which I like – with a conical tip. The colors are rich and dark for such a thin line and these are the “classic” colors – red, orange, green, blue, and black. They do come in specialty inks – like metallic, but I like to start classic. It works well on regular paper as well as the homemade journal paper I’m also currently using. It’s comfortable in the hand even without much in the terms of ergonomics. I foresee it working for quite a while.
1. How does it work? – 1 It’s decent. The retraction mechanism is solid. The tip and line are smooth and solid.
2. Grip and feel – 0.5 – This is no frills plastic retractable pen. The grip is slightly wider than the barrel but that’s all the nod to ergonomics it has. The barrel is slim, which might not appeal to some.
3. Material – 1 It’s a no frills plastic retractable pen, but it’s solidly built and cool looking plastic retractable pen.
4. Overall Design – 1 – It’s a cool looking, well-writing pen. With such a fine point, it’s sometimes difficult to get a solid line. This does very well. The clip, though small, is sturdy, and the mechanism solid.
5. Price Point – 0.5 – It’s a touch on the expensive side. These run $2.70 each – or $13.50 for 5 (no discount for multiples) and only available through an outlet like JetPens. They do come in a variety of colors and multipacks.
4.0 out of 5 Bronze Pencils