Sunday, July 14, 2019

A Week in Writing #255


Did more writing this week than normal and less on Powers Squared, though it still came up quite often. It is nearly a daily project in some form or another.

A couple of things I want to mention off the top. I did call the editor of Familiar Stranger at his place of work. Normally, I wouldn't have done that, but it has been about 15 months since he's had the book, which is ample time to have done something with it, even return it without comment. No surprise that I ended up leaving a voicemail. I did call rather late on a Friday, but I now have his number in my directory, so he should expect more calls if I don't hear from him soon.

I made the call on my way home and I was later than usual leaving work on a summer Friday afternoon. I attended a Lunch and Learn called Art of the Pitch Workshop, which I was lucky enough to get one of the seats. I can't go into anything that was really discussed and no I don't think because of the workshop I really nailed how to do one.

It was kind of brainstorming about an idea to pitch rather than how to present one. Everyone was supposed to submit an idea for a story, at least a starting point, from which Production Executives would choose four. We then broke into groups and brainstormed a story to go along with the idea. The session we had was rather interesting, though it was, again, more about coming up with a story than how to do the pitch. Our Production Executive, no names here, was very adept at telling a story and sort of lead us away from one that was more in the vein of Logan to one that was more about the power of imagination.

The woman who had submitted the idea was in our group, so we made her the presenter. All the other groups, though, had the entire group present the pitch. It was interesting to hear him tell her what to say and actually hearing her give the pitch. If you remember the old game of telephone, you can imagine how it changed from his polished idea to her more nervous presentation. Interestingly enough, she did a pretty good job of it, as we each won a bag of company merch.

The idea I submitted, which is the story I had hoped to pitch, and which should sound very familiar to anyone who has heard us or read the website: College-aged twins discover that they were granted superpowers when they were young. Of the 10 or 11 that were submitted anonymously, I took some pride in that it was one of the four that were selected to be expanded on for a pitch. The story that group came up with was far from the idea of Powers Squared and turned into a story of triplets, where one of them was evil. Ironically, if that's the right word, two of the powers they came up with were somewhat similar to the ones Marty and Eli do share. I still like our idea better.

The graphic novel Artithmeric had sent us arrived on Monday night. Paul and I made a little-watched unboxing video of the event. Artithmeric simply put the first five issues into a hardbound book, but I believe we all really liked the concept. We've discussed how we could edit it to make it into one continuous story. I showed the book off to some people at work, whose opinions I respect, and it was pretty well received. It's always good to get positive feedback. We think the graphic novel would make a great Kickstarter tier reward.

On Tuesday, I spent some time listening to another seminar on creating a good landing page for your comic book. It did get me to thinking and I made some revisions to the page, adding in testimonials from the internet, of which we have a few. If you have read any or all of the issues, any comments on our Facebook page or other social media would be appreciated and they just might find themselves on the page.

I made some edits and posted the link on the private group site for the seminars. No comments, which I don't think it means I nailed it, but rather no one has bothered, even the moderator, to give advice. On Saturday morning, I made some more changes, even creating a single .jpg for the page rather than trying to manage several separate ones. Me and photoshop.

Friday, Rachel sent us the first four pages pencils of Issue #12, which Paul and I reviewed that night. The work is her usual very good and we were both happy with how things are looking. The story gets better and her art holds up very well. This was not always the case, as our first artist got inconsistent over time.



Also on Friday received a new t-shirt from our shop, which will go live today. Since we redid our banner image on social media, I thought it was time for a t-shirt to go along with it. Purchased one as a sort of test for myself. I was wearing it in this week's A Week in Powers Squared video. Since the latest unboxing video went pretty much unwatched, decided not to do one for this unboxing.

On Wednesday night, received our first sticker from Stickermule, another test run for a possible Kickstarter tier reward. Sent one to our only known Super Fan, which we hope she'll appreciate. She actually suggested stickers, so we wanted her to have one first, or close to first.

Wednesday, Thursday and Friday, I did make progress on my new edits of The Runaway. Earlier in the week, I thought I was trapped in a sort of endless loop conversation in the book. I don't know if you've had the same experience, but I sometimes find the book to get away from me and take on a life of its own. I want to say this and this, but the characters want to say this and that. I managed, I think, to write through it, but it does happen from time to time.

No new reviews from me for Trophy Unlocked, though I did start one for What We Do in the Shadows since we watched the film on Friday night. This week's Saturday Morning Review was Paul's review of A Bug's Life. We realized that there are many Pixar films we had not reviewed, so this is a little bit of catch up. Fun fact, this was the first film the boys ever saw in a movie theater.

Sunday, July 7, 2019

A Week in Writing #254


Some weeks, I feel like all I really do is work on Powers Squared. It's not that I have anything against it, it's that I also have other interests and writing projects but it seems when I take a long look at the end of the week, all or most of what I have accomplished relates to the comic book.

The week started with new thumbnails from Rachel regarding the first eight pages of Issue #12, which are actually two separate versions of each page and each panel. Paul and I went through them and made choices between A and B versions. Issue #12 is the concluding chapter of What's in a Name? which started with Issue #10.

Trevor, who still has a fractured arm, managed to letter the first four pages of Issue #11 after Nina sent us those pages last week. He has four more to go.

We're still moving ahead, though slowly, with the Kickstarter. We're looking at other things to offer besides digital and printed versions of the issues. One of the items we're considering are stickers and we took advantage of an offer from Sticker Mule to test drive a set of 10 for only $1. They'll look like this:


Theoretically, we could also do a magnet of the same design. Thoughts?

Something that we might also consider would be graphic novels made from previous issues. Our print-on-demand provider would like us to make them and is sending us a sample in the post. Depending on what it looks like, we may offer them as well.

We're prepping to attend San Diego Comic-Con the week after next. Planning both fun and educational programs to attend. Interested in ones that will help grow our lists and sales. It can be a very slow process. As an example, this past week, we ran a Facebook ad to try to boost a post related to signing up for our newsletter and we're offering, in return, a free copy of our first issue. It's a little frustrating with the results. As of this writing, the post has been seen by over 1400 people and over 229 likes on Instagram, but the result has been only one new signup.

Speaking of Comic-Con, wanted to let you know that everything will be delayed a day as a result, both the weekly email about Powers Squared and this blog post. No time to do it on Sunday after returning, so Monday will be packed with trying to get everything out. As per usual, this post will be a Report from the Front and will detail my experiences at the Con.

There was also some writing progress made on The Runaway, though not as much as I would have liked. I didn't really work on it past Tuesday night.

I'm sort of feeling like I need to divide up my writing time so that not everything I do is Powers Squared related. I know with Comic-Con coming up and a Kickstarter to plan that might be wishful thinking, but I'd like to maybe only spend one or two nights a week solely on the comic book and the other two or so on other writing, like The Runaway and reviews for Trophy Unlocked. I also need to send more queries or this will forever be just an avocation.

I also need to call the editor on Familiar Stranger. I'd like to say I'll do it this week, but I know I've said it before.

Did manage a new review for Trophy Unlocked, Spider-Man Far From Home, which came out this past week. Hope you'll check it out.

So, until next week. Keep writing.

Sunday, June 30, 2019

A Week in Writing #253


It seems that no matter what the intentions might be, every week turns into a Powers Squared week.

Sunday night, after I had published my last blog, we received pages from Rachel. These were jpegs before the tiffs. Our last chance to make any comments. We had none on the artwork, but we did exchange emails about the depiction of one of the characters. I won't go into who since she has yet to appear in the book, but it was good to come to an agreement. We got tiffs later on Monday.

Monday got off to a start with information from the U.S. Copyright office. It seems like every time we file for copyright, there is something that we've done wrong. Now it takes something like half a year from the time we applied to when we hear if we've made a mistake. And when I asked for direction on how to avoid making the same mistake in the future, surprise, they didn't respond. However, we should get the paperwork shortly. This delay is something that people never tell you when they tell you to get something copyrighted. Now, I guess you could pay a lot extra to have it expedited, but that doesn't work for me. Just remember it takes about six months to get a copyright.

On Tuesday, I got an email from another creator asking me questions about our print on demand service. He had good questions and I tried to give him my positive, but realistic assessment. Of course, I invited him to learn more about Powers Squared and, of course, he made no commitment to check us out.

We also received four new pages from Nina, which we passed on to Trevor, however, I'm not expecting him to get right on them, since he had a fall on Monday and fractured his radius in his left arm near the elbow. He has his arm in a splint and a sling so he's slowed down, to say the least. The work can wait, of course.

I also spent part of the Tuesday night listening to another installment of the List Launch, the podcast series that's supposed to help us build up our list prior to launching a Kickstarter. This was the reason behind our wanting to name our "fan base." We asked readers last week and, well, the response was underwhelming, to say the least. Despite that, we did decide to call the group "The Hound Dogs" and rename our newsletter, the Hound Dogs' Howl, after the fictitious newspaper of the community college the Twins attend in the book.

The new image we're using on social media.

Listening to it this time made me decide to update our banner image on social media, which we did on Wednesday, changing out the old image for one that's more dynamic and more reflective of our current books.

Posting last week's Peek-of-the-Week on Instagram got more discussion than we normally get, which was nice. Hopefully, we can get that sort of interaction across other social media.

We did receive more pages from Nina later in the week, on Friday. Everything was good but we did ask for a couple of changes in some of the colors. It's funny how important some things seem, like the color of a character's eyes. As usual, she made the changes very quickly, so no complaints here.

I did manage to work on The Runaway, doing at least a chapter a day for the first four nights of the week. Any progress is good, though there is still plenty more to do.

As with every week recently, nothing new to report with queries or contacting the editor on Familiar Stranger. I'm going to have to call him and work out the best time to do that.

I did write a review this week for Yesterday, a film we watched on Friday afternoon and published as our Saturday Morning Review on Trophy Unlocked.

Well, that's about all for this week. So until next time, keep writing.

Sunday, June 23, 2019

A Week in Writing #252


Unlike last week, I feel that this week was pretty successful from a writing perspective. Not that I did everything I wanted to do, but I did get some good work done.

To begin with, from Monday through Thursday, I worked on The Runaway. Being a pantser, as they call it, I write until I run out of ideas. In the case of The Runaway, I had sort of written to a point that I needed to regroup from. For me, the best way to get back into the swing was to start from the beginning and do rewrites. I've been able to go through a chapter a day so I'm feeling better about it. Hopefully, the work will continue next week as well.

I'm afraid nothing to report on queries, none sent again this week or Familiar Stranger. I haven't yet gathered the courage to call him at where I think he works, but that appears to be my only option if I ever want to hear what happened to his edits.

On Monday, I did finish two reviews for Trophy Unlocked, the long-gestating Sabrina (1954) and Their Own Desires. On Saturday, after seeing parts of Sabrina again on Friday, I decided to make some updates to that review, but those are hopefully done. This week's Saturday Morning Review was Paul's review of Toy Story 4, which we saw on Friday afternoon. I think that might be more of the norm this summer, as there are a lot of films that we will be seeing and publishing them on Saturday will be more timely.

For Powers Squared, this was a very productive week, as we received pencils from Rachel for the last four pages of Issue #11 and the cover. Really cool stuff. And, if that wasn't enough, we received the first four pages of the same issued colored by Nina. Again, really good. Those pages have been sent on to Trevor for lettering.

Paul and I continue our weekly video on our YouTube channel, Powers Squared Comic. If you're new to the blog, we had to change the name a few months back when we realized we had the same name as a quasi-religious channel. Would really appreciate it if you would subscribe to the channel and ring the bell to get notifications of new videos. This week we use new lights for the first time while we discuss A Week in Powers Squared.

I know sometimes this blog becomes promotional in nature, but that's sort of related to writing. You do the work hoping someone will read it. So, there will be times when you're suggested to watch, read or buy something. I try to keep it to a minimum, but I can't help it.

We're still working on ideas for our Kickstarter and would appreciate any recommendations you might have. We reached out last week in our newsletter (you can sign up here) and asked if anyone had any ideas on what they'd like to see as a tier reward. So far, stickers were the only thing mentioned. Can you think of something that would be a good reward for backers?

And while we're on the subject of backers, we're looking for a name to call our fans. I came up with The Twins, as in "Join us and be one of the Twins." Paul came up with Hound Dogs, which is a reference to the school's newspaper, which is itself an Elvis Presley reference.

Well, that appears to do it for this week. Keep writing and see you next week.

Sunday, June 16, 2019

A Week in Writing #251


Sometimes a week in writing is a week of taking care of the business side of things and not the creative. Such was my past week. I seem to remember I was busy but I don't have all that much to show for it.

Let's start with what I did do, which isn't much and won't take long to write about. I did some work on my review for Sabrina, completing the synopsis and working some on a new review for Their Own Desires (1929), an early talkie starring Norma Shearer and Robert Montgomery. I had recently seen the film was playing on TCM and since we don't have a lot of early talkies and no Norma Shearer films on Trophy Unlocked, I thought it would be a good idea to see it. We watched it on Friday night and I started to work on the review on Saturday afternoon.

This past Saturday, Trophy Unlocked celebrated with its 950th, a re-review of  Tangled by Paul, who started the blog about eight and a half years ago. The day before, we published Trevor's review of the recent release Batman vs Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. On Sunday, we published my review of Men In Black: International, a new release we saw on Friday afternoon. So that's about it for this week's creativity.

No new rewrites on The Runaway and no new queries on Broken People.

No new pages for Powers Squared, which isn't really all that unusual for the middle of the month. Most of the activity seems to be at the beginning and ending every month.

That doesn't mean nothing happened on Powers Squared, just nothing exciting. This has been more a week of behind the scenes things. Spent some time on Monday registering a couple of issues for copyright. This is probably something I needlessly sat on but it had to be done.

Paul and I then spent some time talking about tiers and rewards for the Kickstarter we're planning for next month. Nothing finalized but at least we're thinking about what we should be doing. We're trying to make plans for what we can offer but we're open, so if you have any ideas on what you'd like from a Kickstarter for a comic book, please leave a comment.

I also spent some time listening to podcasts from ComixLaunch. Still wanting to build up our mailing list. You are, of course, welcomed to join our mailing list at  https://mailchi.mp/9ac7714b0aaa/powerssquaredcomicbook.

Did some very basic research on representation for the comic book, The advise we were given at the Ground Zero Animation Expo wasn't quite true. No one will talk to you without an agent, especially a network. Don't think I'm going to have the time to concentrate on this really until after the Kickstarter.  Too much to do and so little time.






Sunday, June 9, 2019

A Week in Writing #250 | Report from the Front Ground Zero Animation Expo


This past week was a bit of everything with a little work done on most of the projects. The one thing I didn't make any progress on was my review of Sabrina, but that was not mission critical as Trophy Unlocked currently has a plethora of reviews ready to go. This week's Saturday Morning Review was Trevor's review of Trover Saves the Universe, a VR game for the PS4 developed by Justin Roiland, the man and voice behind Rick and Morty. We'll get to Sabrina in due time. I hope to wrap it up this week, time permitting.

More work was done on the rewrite of The Runaway, though never as much as I'd like. Sort of taking things a little slow this week, trying to get back into the swing. No new queries, and no progress on the synopsis of Broken People. And to complete the triumvirate of disappointment, no word from the editor on Familiar Stranger. Just like last week.

Though it wasn't my intention, the bulk of the week was spent on Powers Squared. Rachel delivered not only more tiffs, but the thumbnails for the last four pages of Issue #11, as well as ideas for the cover. She is usually very prompt at the beginning of the month with the thumbnails and I should have been expecting them from her.

I also spent some time, in prep for the Ground Zero Animation Expo, working on a Pitch Packet for Powers Squared. We think it would make a good animated series and one of the reasons for attending the Expo was to attend the panel Developing and Pitching. Having attended, I had to rethink much of what I had already done, which is a good thing.

The panel was moderated by Daniela Rodriguez and Marc Monroy, neither of whom I had heard of prior. Actually, until the panel started, I had no idea who would be running it. As it turns out, in keeping with the looseness of the Expo, there was no prepared presentation with both wanting to rely on Q&A. For those who know me, you'll be surprised, but I was particularly verbal at this panel, something I'm not usually at these sorts of things.

While Daniela and Marc were free with advice, it should be noted that neither had successfully pitched a show. Marc is an illustrator for hire and has worked on other people's pitches and Daniela had pitched a show at Nickelodeon where she works, though it didn't sound like it was picked up. Not that their advice was not good, it was not the sort of expertise one would expect, at say, Comic-Con.

I was able to ask about what should be in a Pitch Packet, or Pitch Deck as they called it. According to them, a packet should be no more than 6 to 7 pages front and back. There should be a synopsis of the story, some description of the main characters, focus on the physical world of the series, referred to as the physics. And there should, of course, be the artwork. Listening to this, I realized I needed to completely revamp what I had done, which I began to do later that night when we got back from the Expo.

They were also quick to point out that there are a series of green lights. Having a pitch greenlit does not mean it will ever get on the air. Usually, a studio will have to sell it to a network or streaming service so they, too, have to greenlight the series. And there is, of course, development, which can take months or even years and still end with no series. No guarantees in life or in pitching. Try not to feel discouraged.

One of the things Marc mentioned, and he did do most of the talking during the panel, was that some animation studios are making comics out of their stories to get attention for their IP. He even said if you have a comic book, you're about 90 percent there for a pitch. Having a comic book, that was something I took great interest in and pursued with him afterward on the floor of the Expo at his table.

Of course, with any Pitch panel I've been to, they are long on advice on what to have in your deck, but short on how to get it in front of someone at a studio or network. The advice is usually to look at the website of where you want to pitch, which led to a little misinformation. In our one-on-one talk, Marc suggested we contact Netflix, who is trying to ramp up their animation and is looking for new IPs to exploit. He suggested we follow the steps on their website and submit the comic book through that. However, in looking at the Netflix website, they are not open to unsolicited submissions and only work with literary agents. So, there is an extra-extra step involved.

They also recommended copyrighting your pitch, which is not a bad idea, however, they can take 6 to 8 months. In my experience with actually pitching a series, I registered it with the Writers Guild of America, which seemed to be sufficient, cheaper and quicker.

Overall, I had a good time at the GZAE and would recommend it to anyone interested in getting into animation. The floor is very manageable and everyone seems interested in engaging you. There were a few vendors in the mix as well, though surprisingly there was only one directly selling something that could be used to actually animate.

As I wrote, I started to rework our pitch deck, but I think I need to put that aside to concentrate on our Kickstarter and adding more names to our mailing list. Oh, the fun never stops.

Sunday, June 2, 2019

A Week in Writing #249


Okay, this seems to be sounding like a broken record but didn't get to everything I wanted to this past week. Now, in this case, I was sort of under the weather with a cough and a bad back (I know, poor pitiful me). I know, neither was really that bad, just enough to slow me down.

I did manage to do some writing on The Runaway. Like I did with Familiar Stranger, I'm sort of going back through the manuscript, rewriting what I had already rewritten in an effort to get a running start back into the book. I know where I want it to go, it's just getting it back on track is all. As I know you know, it's a very interesting process to go back through what you've written. It's actually my favorite part of the writing process, making it better. There are little things that I'm changing so far that I think are improving the writing.

No new queries for Broken People this week and no new contact with the editor on the above mentioned Familiar Stranger. I guess he's still alive, at least he's still listed on the company where I think he works. As I mentioned in last week's post, my mother actually called the guy but never heard back from him. While that's sort of embarrassing on a certain level, my mommy fighting my battles and all, she is the one who introduced us. She thought he would at least call her back. I'm wondering if he's changed his cell number, which is all we have. Now the big question, do I call him at his place of employment? I'm reticent to do that but it has been over a year since I've heard from him. That might be my only recourse. I'll have to weigh that for a bit.

Published my first non-Batman review in a month with Blondie Johnson (1933) on Trophy Unlocked. I'm still working on my review of Sabrina, but I did finish and publish one for Rocketman, the new Elton John bio/fantasy film that just came out.

I'm writing this all down a day earlier than I usually do since on June 2nd, Powers Squared will be attending our first Con, San Fernando Vally Comic Book Convention. I'm a little apprehensive as I'm not sure how much the Free Comic Book Day signing prepared us for this. I'm hopeful that this will be a good intro into Comic Book Cons. We are not ready for anything major like WonderCon or Comic-Con; we're not even ready for the Long Beach Comic-Con, which is pretty costly.

The goal is to get signups for our mailing list, though we will have books to sell. I feel like we're such newbs going in. But that means we have a lot to learn, which is actually a good thing. I'll be sure to write more about this experience in next week's blog post, so there will be something to look forward to.

We did get some inked pages from Rachel this past week, jpegs, not tiffs. We asked for one small change to one panel. We did pass along to her some positive comments we received when we posted her thumbnails on Instagram, as part of our Peek-of-the-Week we started with our newsletter. While we first publicize it in our newsletter, we do post it on Instagram later in the week to be sure. The comments were pretty positive and we thought she should know.

Trevor finished his pages for Issue #10, so that's in its last steps. Paul and I need to review those as well. But that will have to wait until next week as well.

Because I wasn't 100 percent, I didn't listen to any of the ComixLaunch ListLaunch podcasts, so I've got to get back to that this next week. I hate to say it, but I really seem to wrangle with the homework, as in I don't want to do it. Some things never change, I guess.

So much to do and so little time.