Sunday, November 22, 2020

A Week in Writing #326 - Let's Talk Thursday


I hope everyone is staying safe and, of course, writing.

Let me start with a plug: Powers Squared Issue #10, What's in a Name? Part 1, releases on Wednesday, November 25th. If you're reading this, I would really appreciate the support. Issues are available in print and digital and links will be live on the day of release at the website's new Campus Store. There is also going to be a Black Friday Sale at artithmeric.com for a week. You can get 25% off by using the code BLACKFRIDAY. If you've ever thought about buying an issue of the comic book I write about each week, then this would be a golden time to do it.

I don't know about you, but some days are more successful than others when it comes to writing. This week, Thursday sticks out as a particularly busy day. As with most weeks it seems, it starts with Powers Squared.

It began in the morning, when I received an email from the US Copyright Office, in effect, denying our request to update the copyright. It wasn't so much that we couldn't but the mechanism the Copyright Office had told us to do it turned out to be wrong. I don't mind re-doing the claim, with the right instructions, but I was resisted to losing the $200 fee they charged me to make the revised claim, since I was working off their instructions. To their credit, the agent I was working with has offered to see if the fee can be refunded, so that's still up in the air.

During the day, we received pages from Rachel; pencils for the last four pages of Issue #16 as well as the cover. Paul and I did sit down and review after dinner. These sessions don't usually last very long but there are usually comments which are sent back to her and that night was no exception. Nothing really major mind you; all minor. I was reminded with getting Issue #10 ready for ComiXology that they didn't like the cover having a border. I've had to make adjustments and since I'm making changes months after the issue has been drawn, colored, and lettered, I have to be careful not to go outside the margins so to speak. Don't know if you've ever published a comic book, but print versions have margin and trim spaces. I don't think making that change or any of the changes we asked for were necessarily difficult since the next morning, she had the changes ready to go.

That night, I had some things to take care of with posting the new issue of Powers Squared on IndyPlanet. It consisted of adding preview pages. Earlier I had a question about the page count and I still have a question about whether or not one of the covers (we have two this time) can be print only; IndyPlanet offers both print and digital. That question is still outstanding. We're good either way but it would be good to know.

I then made the edits on the next script for Powers Squared, a sort of Metal Gear homage, tentatively called Mission: Istanistan. I was making updates Paul had suggested and I also moved one panel to the previous page. Again, nothing too hard.

I then worked out some talking points for our OAPS podcast. We had Kathryn Calamia on. She currently has a Kickstarter going for her comic book Like Father, Like Daughter. I had met her through a Facebook post in which she was looking for indie comics to use as tier rewards. I thought letting her use Issue #1 of Powers Squared might find us some new readers. I asked her to be on our show but I wanted us to prep for her. The actual interview took place the next evening and you can watch or listen to the show through links you can find here. I think the show went pretty well.

Next, I sent a query letter out for Broken People, trying to keep to my one-a-week goal. I had found this particular agent on QueryTracker as someone "new" that week. It was a bit of a gamble. QueryTracker shows she represents Crime Fiction, which is what I'm hawking, but the agency's website stated True Crime, but I thought it was worth a chance and a new assistant agent might be wanting to build a list.

Well, I was wrong. I sent the query at about 9:40 pm on Thursday and by 1:30 in the afternoon, I was rejected. "Thank you for your query, but unfortunately, I don't think this is a fit for me. I appreciate your getting in touch, though, and wish you the best with this project." Not the most informative of rejections but they rarely are. I don't think it has anything to do with the actual writing, since I didn't send any samples. The instructions on the agency's websites only asked for a query letter.

I'll give the agent credit for being quick. The rejection was sort of like ripping off a bandage. Painful, as always, but quick and over with. So if you're keeping track at home, that's four sent and one rejection. And now I need to send out two more.

I finished that night off with some writing and updates on Skylar, the most recent manuscript I'm working on. I'm reimagining some of what I had written to get to the action quicker and to introduce characters more judiciously.

Not a typical day but you sort of get a sense of what I'm up to; divided in all sorts of ways.

I would be remiss not to mention my Saturday Morning Review on Trophy Unlocked, Scene of the Crime; part of our Noirvember celebration. This was also My Little Pony week on Trophy Unlocked with five reviews featuring My Little Pony: Equestria GirlsMy Little Pony: Equestria Girls - Rainbow RocksMy Little Pony: Equestria Girls - Friendship GamesMy Little Pony: Equestria Girls - Legend of Everfree; and My Little Pony: The Movie (2017). Those reviews were written by Paul and Trevor, so check them out, too.

Well, that about does it for me. Keep writing and I'll see you next week.

Sunday, November 15, 2020

A Week in Writing #325 - Where Did the Time Go?

I hope everyone is staying safe and writing.

I can't say this was a red-letter week for me, writing-wise. I had such high goals coming into the week and here I sit on Sunday wondering what happened? I think we've all had weeks like this. So many things can derail your plans.

On the positive side, I did send out a third query letter on Thursday. If I did nothing else last week to forward my writing, then that would be the best thing I could have done for myself. So, that's three out and, so far, knock on wood, no rejections yet. I did find a couple of agents I wanted to submit to were closed for the rest of the year. Not sure if I'll come across more like that as the days of 2020 grow wee. My goal is 5 queries and if you're like me, each one is a nervous endeavor. So, I'm 60 percent of the way there.

I wanted to write three reviews this week for Trophy Unlocked, but I only finished two: Batman Returns and The Big Steal. Still have Son of Frankenstein and now, Man in the Dark, our latest Saturday night drain the DVR feature. I did publish a new one on Saturday morning, The Third Man, a new entry in Noirvember. Also on the blog were three reviews from Trevor: Big Bumpin'; PocketBike Racer and Sneak King, three Burger King Xbox games from 2006.

The work on Powers Squared this week was more behind the scenes than usual. I have been making updates to the website, as well as the landing page experience for the newsletter. I needed Paul's help with some of the latter and we're sending it out to the rest of the creative team to get their feedback.

There were also thumbnails for the last four pages of issue #16, as well as the cover, that Paul and I reviewed and gave feedback on. Then there were some revisions that we also looked at. Not sure when we'll actually be getting those pages; our artist is dealing with a family emergency at the moment, which justifiably takes precedent over the comic book.

On Saturday, Paul and I attended a Zoom class at UCLA, Showrunners and Show Writers (Fall 2020). It was interesting as we were both interested in that part of the animation industry. Me from a Powers Squared perspective but Paul from a longer-term career perspective. It was informative but more from the personal point of view of the showrunners on the program. The takeaway is that there are a lot of different ways to break into the industry and to keep trying and writing.

So, what got left out of the equation this week was Skylar. I really don't have any excuse other than time and perhaps bad time management. I will have to right that this week and I will make an effort to work on it every time I can.

Well, that about does it for me. Keep writing and I'll see you next week.

Sunday, November 8, 2020

A Week in Writing #324 - Sleep? What's that?


Hope everyone is staying well.

I don't know about you, and I think I write about this every year, but Daylight Saving's Time kicks my ass twice a year. And it's not the Sunday after but the Monday that throws me. My sleep clock has not aligned itself with the "alarm" clock, though I haven't set one of those for nearly 8 months. Even working from home the getting dark at 5 pm is still hard. You feel like you're working late at night.

I was still getting used to the time change when the election happened and the fact that it didn't get resolved right away kept me up that night. I was even awake at 2:30 AM and came out to check my computer if there was any "good" news. I think I recovered and the news got better as the week went on, so I'm over that now.

But this isn't supposed to be a blog about my sleep schedule but rather what little writing I got done during the week.

Let's start with Broken People. Happy to say I sent out a second query this past week and so far, no rejection email yet. I think any response will be several weeks away. This one was again an online form and didn't ask me how I planned to market the book, so that was a bit of a relief. So, two down more to come.

I did some more writing on Skylar this week but nothing since Wednesday I'm afraid to say. I do like the direction it is going so I'm hoping to keep it moving forward as best as I can.

Worked a little more on reviews for Trophy Unlocked. I feel like I'm behind in that regard. I feel like there are three movies I need to review, including Son of Frankenstein, Batman Returns and The Big Steal. It sounds diverse, but those are the films we've been watching and I'm behind on them. They each have a different purpose for the blog.

We ended Spooktober and started in with Noirvember on the blog with No Questions Asked (1951). I have three more to go but I have to get them ready for publication. Blogger, which we use, has changed how you can upload photos so it takes longer now than it used to. Not sure the reason behind the changes but I have to live with them. During the week, Trophy Unlocked also published a review of AVICII Invector Encore Edition, written by Trevor.

This week, as we continue to work on a Pitch Packet for Powers Squared, I watched a 10-year-old presentation from CTNX about this very process. The presentation by Heather Kenyon, the then Vice President of Project Development and Sales for Starz Animation, was pretty informational and got me to rethink much of what I had already written. If you're interested, you can watch it yourself at https://vimeo.com/20355714,

Work continues on Powers Squared. Not only are we working on issue #16 now, as well as #15, we're also prepping to release Issue #10. One of the platforms we're available on is Kindle and I spent some time this weekend putting that issue together for that platform. I don't know if you've ever used their Comic Creator app, but it's quite buggy. It took several tries and repeated saving to get all the way through the issue. There are times when it will simply stop working and that can get to be pretty frustrating.

There is a lot of other work to be done before the issue is released, including trying to line up reviews and putting out a press release. The creative fun never stops.

Well, that about does it for me this week. I've got a lot lined up to do and I'll tell you how I did next time.

So, keep writing and I'll see you next week.

Sunday, November 1, 2020

A Week in Writing #323 - First Query

 

Hope is everyone is staying safe, wearing a mask, and writing.

I want to start with a bit of good news. After writing about it for weeks now, I actually did send a query this week for Broken People. I decided that I was only holding myself back and that if I wanted to reach my goals, I had to do something positive towards that. So, on Thursday night, I finally sat down and sent out a query, through a form, to an agent. They claim they'll take four to six weeks to get back to me.

I don't know about you but I've had queries rejected within hours of submitting them, so I'd like to think four to six weeks will mean some sort of contemplation on their end. Of course, I am on alert to hear back before that and prepared for never hearing back from them at all, you know how it is. I don't mean to sound down on the process but I have been down this road before.

Even though they asked if the query was out to other agents, and I answered no, I do plan to send out more in the next few days. I don't want to run through all the agents on my list but I do want to get and have at least five out there at a time. There is always the hope that you'll figure out where you went wrong with one query or the other but my experience has been that agents never give you that kind of detail if they reject you. It's usually just a terse prefab email. I hope I'm wrong and I will, of course, report back here as things go.

I worked more on my Skylar manuscript, deciding to restart the story closer to the action, or in this case, the start of the assignment. I think it makes it better and I don't think I'll have to lose too much of what I've already written. But this is the way it works when you're a pantser like myself.

The issue I highlighted last week, our submission to Comixology, got straightened out and we were told which of the two series to use. The bad one is still there but we should be able to avoid that pitfall in future submissions.

Still, a lot to do to get ready for the release. We need to try to line up reviews and any publicity we can. We need to make a video for our social media. We need to create a Kindle version. We need to finalize the website changes and the new landing page. But the main thing is we're one step closer to being ready. And on top of that, we still need to work on our Pitch Packet. So much to do.

Today we published our monthly newsletter, The Hound Dogs' Howl. I'm giving you a link to it, here, in case you're curious about it. I would also encourage you to subscribe to it as well. I would really appreciate the support.

We had a really good conversation on our On the Air with Powers Squared podcast/Twitch Stream. We interviewed another creator, Lucas Scheffel, the man behind Angry Fred Comics. We had never actually met until Friday night, even though we had supported each other's Kickstarters and social media accounts. Lucas is down in Australia so it was the next day down there when we spoke. Really cool. I hope you'll watch or listen and, of course, support him as well.

My review of Revenge of the Creature rounded out Spooktober on Trophy Unlocked. As always, there was a new video game review on Wednesday, Silent Hill 2: Restless Dreams written by Paul.

Since Saturday was Halloween, the movie we watched to delete off the DVR was The Return of Dr. X (1939). That review may wait until next year, but Halloween is only 365 days away.

Well, that about does it for me. Keep writing and I'll see you again next week!

Sunday, October 25, 2020

A Week in Writing #322 - Missteps

 

Hope everyone reading this is staying safe and wearing your mask.

So, this week, let's start with Powers Squared. We finally took the last step in publishing Issue #10, submitting to comiXology but we didn't get past the first step. I'm not blaming comiXology but somewhere along the way, two series were set up for Powers Squared. We found this out the hard way when we published one issue and it ended up being listed separately from the other issues. Not sure how that happened and the digital publisher did fix it right away. They also told us that they had removed the second series so we wouldn't have the same issue the next time.

Well, when Paul and I sat down to submit, guess what we saw:


They're not the same number, so we're not seeing double but we didn't know which one to choose. We tried to search for something on the website that would point us to the right one but that's not available or at least we couldn't find it. This Series number is a background thing but we didn't want to go down the slippery slope and pick the wrong one, so we stopped the process and emailed support to sort it out.

Did some work on the Pitch Packet. Trying to get more current images into the deck, as the current visuals are closer to what we want to present. There are only a couple that we can't seem to replace. I'd really like to get this behind us. As with everything doing with Powers Squared, we're sort of learning as we go.

In other writing, I completed another review for Trophy Unlocked. As per the usual, we watched a film on our DVR so we could delete it. This week, it was Our Betters (1933), a film I believe I came across by accident but was interested in based on the pre-film discussion on TCM. They were discussing an actor who didn't appear until the last five minutes and his importance to LGBT depiction in films in pre-code Hollywood. Curious, I recorded it and really forgot about the why until we watched it. What did I think will have to wait.

In the meantime, my review of Abbott and Costello Meets Frankenstein was the Saturday Morning Review. But earlier in the week, Trophy Unlocked celebrated its 1100th review with one Paul wrote for P.T., a playable teaser for a video game that was never made. The game, Silent Hills, was to be a horror game designed by Hideo Kojima and Gullermo del Toro, and also fit in with our Spooktober theme for the month.

To further mix the streams, Paul played the teaser on our Powers Squared Twitch channel. Streaming a video game was something Paul has been wanting to do but this was the first time. He asked me to sit with him for support, so if you watch it, you'll see me reacting and asking the occasional question.

As far as my other writing goes, I did some more work on Skylar, though never enough. I believe I got through another couple of chapters and moved the story forward, so that's good.

On the subject of querying, I did some more prep work on that this weekend. I researched if there were any new agents and deleted one from my list as their definition of mystery is cozy. I also realized that I have a little more to do based on the first online query I started. Not only do I need to decide who would want to read my book, but also provide a one-line Pitch. I know, excuses, but they're all I have.

Well, that's about it for now. Keep writing and I'll see you next week.

Sunday, October 18, 2020

A Week in Writing #321 - One More Birthday!


Another week, another birthday at my house. This final one of the year belonging to my wife. No age or birth year, but if you've been paying attention, we're all Libras, which means decisions here are few and far between. Just thought I'd point that out because of the hole in the week.

Has this ever happened to you? I had sort of an interesting night of it on Thursday, the day after the B-day mentioned above. I basically live with insomnia always being a possibility. I may lay down my head on the pillow but if something is off in my routine, I stop reading too soon or turn off the TV too early, or whatever, I can lie awake for hours. What kept going through my head this night was that I hadn't really written anything that day. So to get over that, I got up at about 2 a.m., came out to my office, the end of the dining room table, and made myself write 1000 words on the Skylar story I believe I've mentioned here a few times. Now, what I wrote, I think I'm going to scrap, not because it's bad but because it doesn't fit in with the story I'm writing now. It does work for an idea I've been tossing around during those sleepless nights so I'll put it aside for now and get it back out when I start on that story.

Per my Fitbit, I got a 76 rated sleep, which is both surprising, given the shortness of time (3 hours and 22 minutes), and good for me in general. A great night of sleep for me is an 80 and that is sadly very rare; I'm usually in the mid to low 70s. I'm not writing to get sympathy, but sometimes the lack of sleep does play into the output of the next day. While I made it through work and OAPS with no real issues, I did fall asleep off and on during our Friday night movie. I hate it when that happens.

Speaking of movies, we played drain the DVR again on Saturday night and I wrote a review for Trophy Unlocked as a result; No Questions Asked (1951). Not sure when that will come out, though another one of mine went up on Saturday, The Curse of the Cat People (1944), as part of our October Spooktober series of horror films. This past Wednesday, videogame review day, Trevor's review of Crash Bandicoot 4: It's About Time.

Big News: This coming Wednesday, Trophy Unlocked will be celebrating a milestone 1100 reviews. I won't ruin the surprise, but there is a special review planned for that day, so please check back then for that review.

In Powers Squared news, Julia Canon, our colorist, joined us for our On the Air with Powers Squared twitch stream/podcast this Friday. She's always fun to listen to, so I hope you'll tune in somewhere it is available. See https://powerssquaredcomicbook.com/media for where you can watch and/or listen to it.

This week, I submitted the Covid Cover for Issue #10 to both Ka-Blam and Artithmeric for proofs. We've never had an alternative cover before, so it's a big deal for us. Not sure we'll wait for them to come back before we submit to Comixology, which we still need to do. There's always something on the horizon that you've got to do.

I wanted to give you an update on our copyright issue. So you don't have to scroll back and look for it in a previous post, we had a slight issue with copyright for a couple of issues, i.e. the script got copyrighted but the artwork didn't. The copyright office told us to rectify this through a Supplementary registration, which didn't seem like it worked. I called the copyright office at the end of September and they couldn't tell me what we had submitted, which sort of scared me, since who else would know what the copyright office had besides the copyright office?

Well, it turns out that what we were trying to do might actually work after all. I got an email from the U.S. Copyright office during the week, asking me, in fact, what we were trying to do. Paul and I sat down today to read through their question and I sent a response to them. They gave me 45 days to respond, which might tell you how fast things move in that bureaucracy. Fingers crossed things will work out for us. I'm at least hopeful now.

On that upbeat note, I'll sign off for today. Keep writing, stay safe, and I'll see you back here next week.

Sunday, October 11, 2020

A Week in Writing #320 - Getting On Track and Off

 

Hope everyone is healthy and staying safe.

Sometimes I wish I kept track of things as the week went on. From a writing point of view, the week seemed to get off to a good start. But now as I sit here on Sunday evening, I'm having trouble remembering everything I did.

Monday, I worked on a couple of different things, including a script Paul had worked on for a future issue of Powers Squared. I had read it and made some comments that I put into the script. I think it's coming together.

I also worked on my Skylar manuscript. Completing 1000 words on Monday, hitting the goal for the first time in a while. During the week, I managed to get through a complete chapter when I finished working on it on Thursday. I think it's going well but some much more to go.

No queries this week. I know, I know, I'll never find an agent this way. I guess I'm avoiding it, though I know better. There always seems to be something else to work on. I know I need to and I will do it soon. Check back here for those updates.

A lot of work on Powers Squared. New thumbnails from Rachel for the next 8 pages for Issue 16 (Mocha and Raven) and colors from Julia for Issue 15 (How They Met). Trevor has also lettered the first 8 pages, as it were, for Issue 15. So things are moving forward there.

We received copyright registrations this week for Issues 10-12, which is good since we're getting ready to publish the first one of those soon. That only took 8 months. We've had them go much longer than that.

We posted a new Unboxing Video on Wednesday, related to Issue #10, print versions, and t-shirts. We've decided to change up our posting schedule from Sunday morning to Wednesday afternoons. There's supposed to be more people watching YouTube videos then.

We're still doing our Podcast on Friday nights and we had Rachel on as a guest. You can watch it on Twitch.tv. If you want to listen to it, go to https://powerssquaredcomicbook.com/join for where you can listen to it.

Two of my reviews up on Trophy Unlocked this week. On Friday, my review of Woody Allen's A Rainy Day in New York went up, the same day the title was finally being released on Vudu. On Saturday, to celebrate Spooktober, White Zombie was published.

But wait, that's not all for that blog this week. Paul's three reviews for Resident Evil 7 went up throughout the week: Resident Evil 7 Teaser Demo: Beginning Hour (+ Kitchen Demo); on Wednesday Resident Evil 7: Biohazard; and wrapping it up on Thursday Resident Evil 7: Biohazard DLC (Banned Footage Vol. 1 and 2 + Not A Hero + End of Zoe).

Well, that about does it for me. Keep writing and I'll be back next week.