Sunday, June 26, 2022

A Week in Writing #410 - The Work of Writing

Hope everyone is staying safe and, of course, writing.

Not a bad week, really, but sometimes it feels like I'm doing more of the work of writing, rather than actually writing if that makes sense.

I sometimes feel like I spend more time making updates to the Powers Squared website. I thought I had been keeping up but apparently, there were covers to update, links to change and even credits that needed to be updated. It seems like a never-ending process. Even trying to keep up with it, I realize I miss things, like posting links to videos. I decided to change that by posting them early rather than waiting for them to be released. I upload the videos on Sunday mornings and schedule them for Wednesday afternoons, and I also update the peek-of-the-week every Sunday. For both, I schedule Facebook, Twitter and Instagram posts for later in the week; Tuesday for the peek-of-the-week and Wednesday for the videos.

There are other posts I make, like every morning on Twitter for posts on Trophy Unlocked that have anniversaries, #OTD. I've been doing that for a couple of years now, but finally got wise last year to saving and reusing the posts rather than trying to come up with a new one every time.

Then there are also posts I make to Pinterest, some for Trophy Unlocked and others for Powers Squared. As I started with, sometimes it feels like the work of writing, not the writing itself that takes up my time.

Worked a little bit on fka Skylar. I had an idea I wanted to introduce but I couldn't find the right place to do it. I guess I'll have to save it for later.

After rewriting the first chapter of Broken People, I started to go back through the book. I even found one section that didn't make sense where it was. I guess it's fortunate that no agent has asked to see more than the first three chapters so far.

I did query the book again, though I'm not really hopeful of the agent. I read some comments on Query Tracker about them. Apparently, they received responses that they didn't like. So far, I haven't received anything, so I'm waiting that out.

Powers Squared continues to move forward with our artist sending in eight pages of pencils for issue #22.

We're going to set release dates for Issue #13 this week and hopefully some more things as well, like new merch.

We had our monthly team meeting on Friday and since we're going to be at Comic-Con, Rachel and Julia may host a show without us. That should be fun. We're also talking about setting up a Comic Book Club for the podcast as well.

Our pitch is finally finished and now we're waiting to schedule someone we trust to go through it for us. So much is going on.

With Trophy Unlocked, I wrote a review for Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness, which should be going up soon on the blog. We watched it finally on Friday night on Disney+. I'm also working on a review for Chance of Heaven (1933) from Saturday night but that's still in progress. For those interested, the Saturday Morning Review was Paul's review of Beavis and Butt-Head Do the Universe and the Wednesday Game Day Review was Paul's for Bugsnax: The Isle of Bigsnax (DLC).

So in the week ahead, I have to finish my review of Chance of Heaven, work on our monthly newsletter, The Hound Dogs's Howl, make a new query and work on fka Skylar. Wish me luck.

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

Sunday, June 19, 2022

A Week in Writing #409 - Numbering and Rewrites


Hope everyone is staying safe, and, of course, writing.

Funny thing. As soon as I published last week's post, I realized I had been numbering wrong for the past few weeks. Apparently, in my world #406 repeats, so I was off by one for about three weeks. The numbering has been corrected but it's things like that that make you feel stupid. Great way to end a week.

I know I said I was going to work on fka Skylar this week, and surprise surprise, I didn't really. Instead, I got interested in rewriting the first chapter of the book I'm currently querying around, Broken People. As you probably know, most queries require a writing sample, some part of the beginning of the novel. It can be 1000 words, the first chapter, the first three chapters, or the first 50 pages, depending on the agent/agency. The one thing they all have in common is that they start at the beginning. I started to wonder if the lack of response was due to how the first chapter started, so I thought I should rewrite it.

I don't usually get into specifics of what I'm actually writing but I'll make an exception in this case.

The first chapter takes place in a club, A-X-N, pronounced Action, where my private detective has followed a man that he has to serve with a subpoena. With the help of a waitress, whose name he doesn't yet know, they've found the man getting into a boxing ring with a former flyweight; the guy's large but super drunk. I won't get into all the action but I began to feel that I had started the chapter in the wrong place.

In the old version, I had the private detective enjoying holding the woman's hand; helping to ground him after a day of searching for people in a rain storm in Los Angeles. If you've ever lived here, rain is a scarce commodity so when it rains, things don't work. Traffic, the backbone of the city, bogs down and what might have taken you an hour can take three. I'm serious, I used to commute to Santa Monica and I had spent that much time one-way because of rain. (Don't miss it.) I thought it humanized my main character but I think maybe that doesn't work so well in a thriller.

In the new version, I have the action start when the first punch from the flyweight lands and draws blood. After all this time, I remembered the old adage start as close to the action as you can, which I wasn't doing obviously.

Now, rewriting a chapter is more than just moving paragraphs around. I mean, there is some of that but things still have to flow. It's not a one-time sit-down and it's done thing either. It took a couple of nights and in the end, the first chapter got shorter but I think it reads better.

I used it on my Thursday night query, so we'll have to wait to see if that was the missing ingredient. I still need to write a short synopsis so I can broaden my search. All in due time.

So, I still need to get back into fka Skylar but I think the time was well spent.

I wrote a new future review for Trophy Unlocked. This time it was Steamboat 'Round the Bend (1935), Will Rogers' last film. Interesting, that wasn't the reason I DVRed it a year or so ago. I had heard about him as a film star amongst his other accomplishments but had never seen anything he had been in, so when this film was shown I thought it would be a chance to watch something he was in. I'll save my opinion for the review, whenever that gets posted.

Paul's review of Hercules (1997) was the Saturday Morning Review. The Wednesday Game Day review was Trevor's review of Moss: Book 2.

Finally received the proofs for Issues 13-15 of Powers Squared. Paul and I did an unboxing video on our Friday On the Air with Powers Squared podcast, which you're invited to listen to and/or watch. I had requested sets of proofs from two of our on-demand publishers but only received one set so far, but you can't wait forever. Check it out at https://powerssquaredcomicbook.com/oaps if you're interested.

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

Sunday, June 12, 2022

A Week in Writing #408 - Another Banner Week, Not.

Hope everyone is staying safe and, of course, writing.

I realize I sit down every Sunday night to write this and I really never know if anyone reading this is actually writing. I would really like to hear from someone, anyone, reading this to leave a comment and let me know what you're doing. Are you a writer? Is this blog ever helpful? Feel free to leave comments below. It would be nice to hear from you.

I can't say I really burned it up this week at the laptop. I'm really not sure what the reason is. I'd like to say it's Daylight Savings Time that is throwing me off. I never feel like I get enough sleep. I'm aware that this is an ongoing theme of the blog but it gets light outside at five-something in the morning and I'm apparently a light sleeper. Brain turns on, worrying about things I can't control mind you, but I'm up. At night, I try to soldier through until 11 but I'm getting to be no good after 10:30.

To that end, not much happened on fka Skylar. I mean I opened it up and figured out what I need to do next but beyond that a few lines and nothing more.

As far as reviews go, I've been busy. The Saturday Morning Review on Trophy Unlocked was mine for Nanook of the North (1922), which came out 100 years ago that day. I like it when that works out. Am I the only one?

Wednesday's GameDay review was Trevor's for Resistance: Burning Skies.

I also wrote two reviews for the future. Has anyone else been watching the TV Series, Julia? Well, we have been which got us interested in re-watching Julie & Julia (2009), which I wrote a review for on Friday night/Saturday Morning. Then, as part of our drain the DVR Saturday night, we watched Stage Fright (1950), so that was what I worked on Saturday night and Sunday. In all about 3500 words, for those who are counting.

What if you ordered a proof and it never came? Well, that's what it feels like sometimes. In May, I ordered two sets of proofs for new issues of Powers Squared: Issues 13-15. As of Friday, I had not received either set. What I had hoped to be an unboxing video for them on OAPS turned into a pre-recorded segment of us signing the fine art prints from our less than recent Kickstarter. Actually, the timing was good as the rewards went out on Friday or were supposed to. I'm hopeful that I'll have one by this week. Would really like to know they exist before launching them onto the world.

Final touches on the pitch, which now goes to Trevor to put together. I went through and selected images for us to use. Hopefully, we can get this done soon and see if we can get another look at it from the person that gave us feedback. Things just take time.

We're in the beginning stages of organizing our yearly pilgrimage to San Diego Comic-Con, which should be live this year. Preliminary stuff so far, like signing up for the parking lottery, but steps that have to be taken.

Sent another query for Broken People, and surprise, no response from any of them so far. This week, I should expand to another book. Can't hurt to have more than one out on the query trail, can it?

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

Sunday, June 5, 2022

A Week in Writing #407 - Feeling Disappointed


Hope everyone is feeling well and staying safe. And, of course, writing.

I'm not one to really talk to about branding. I mean, I'm trying with Powers Squared but I wouldn't say I was an expert at any of it. We try our best to keep things moving forward, trying new ways of getting the word out and, of course, selling merch. Currently, all of the latter is done by one on-demand printer, but I'm having second thoughts about them.

When someone receives something with your brand on it that is damaged and the response is "well, it's not that damaged," it makes you rethink their customer service angle. I'm not in a position to make good on other people's mistakes, but I think they should on their own. And push back that it wasn't that bad sort of gives me pause.

Someone received a t-shirt with our school logo on it (more on the school later) and one of the letters was missing part of the coloring. Apparently, it had gotten stuck to something else in the box and part of it had peeled off. I know the person and I wanted them to, of course, wear the shirt but if it's damaged, they would be less likely to. I took it on myself to write to the on-demand printer about it and they didn't seem to appreciate the feedback. They especially took offense to my notion that it was bad customer service not to make good. (No names, that's not what the blog is about.) Are these the sort of people I want to handle my brand?

So, I'm at least beginning the process of looking for another t-shirt printer. Hopefully, someone who will stand by their products and shipping. So far, it's just been a Google search but if you know of someone, please let me know in the comments. If and when a decision is made, you will be one of the first to know.

Well, back to the school in question, San Romero Community College (SRCC), the fictitious one in Powers Squared. I got an email from a website about nursing schools and they had apparently gotten queries about SRCC. From a creator's point of view, I was amused by the notion that someone wanted to actually enroll. I did inform the site that it was not a real school.

While we're talking Powers Squared, we've begun work on issue #22 of the series. It is our artist's 17th book with us so we had a nice chat with Rachel Wells on our podcast, On the Air with Powers Squared, about it. We've also expanded the number of platforms we're on by three: iHeart RadioPlayer FM, and PodChaser, so there's even less reason for not listening.

Also, today was our monthly newsletter, the bulk of which I pull together. While it's intended for our mailing list, I'm going to share it with you, dear reader. Check it out here, if you're curious and, you know, maybe enroll at SRCC.

A new review from me this week on Trophy Unlocked, posted today for Top Gun: Maverick, which we watched on Saturday. Our plan is to be one week after the big openings, hoping for smaller audiences in the theaters. Such was the case on Saturday afternoon. Saturday morning's review on the blog was Trevor's for 101 Dalmations (1961). Wednesday (Game Day) was also one from Trevor for the game Resistance: Retribution. I'm also working on one for Brief Encounter that we watched on Drain the DVR Saturday night.

One new query this week. By the time I get to Thursday nights, I'm looking for the off-ramp from the week, so I'm taking the easiest queries to send. I know I need to spend more time and expand to another book as well but for now, I'm doing the minimum.

I did open the document for fka Skylar so I at least touched it. Not much more than that I'm afraid.

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

Sunday, May 29, 2022

A Week in Writing #406 - Where Did the Week Go?


Hope everyone is well, enjoying the long weekend and, of course, writing.

Have you ever had a week where it doesn't feel like you've got anything done? I mean, despite sitting at the computer and ready to go, nothing seems to get finished. This was the week for me. I kept getting a late start and despite best intentions, I don't feel like much got accomplished.

On the plus side, I did send out a new query for Broken People, the thing I detest most doing. No word yet, so you know, fingers crossed. It only takes one, as they say, to believe in you. I was going to DNR another query because it was coming up on their time period for responding. I didn't when I saw on Query Tracker that the agent got back to someone, a rejection, after that time frame, so I thought I'd wait around to see if I hear back. Of course, not hoping for a rejection.

Other than that, I was spending most of my "wake" time working on a script for a possible issue for Powers Squared. Even if we don't use it, I felt like I had to write it. It's about Jennifer Perry and trying to delve into her backstory a bit more. As I believe I mentioned, she was not a favorite character by the person who reviewed our Pitch Packet and we wanted to give her something more and have it still fit in with our story. I think we did that and this script was sort of introducing that side. Trying to make her a "real" character, which I believe was the knock against her.

I did write a new review for Trophy Unlocked for the film Downton Abbey: A New Era, which went up this morning. We saw it in a theater on Saturday morning, hoping the hour and a week's delay from the opening would mean sparse attendance and it was only about 20% full. We watched it in a theater that used to be part of the Arclight Cinemas, here in Los Angeles. I really miss that chain.

I also had another review up on Saturday morning, Top Gun, the original film, not the higher-flying Maverick sequel. My guess is we're probably going to see that film next weekend. Not sure how early we'd have to go to avoid a crowd for that one. That may be our pattern for the rest of the summer, go a week late to avoid the crowds but not too late to hear spoilers.

The Wednesday Game Day review was Trevor's for Kao the Kangaroo: Mystery of the Volcano.

Speaking of films, we had Lucas Scheffel, a creator we know from Australia, on our podcast on Friday. Not only does he work a remote job, for a company in Austin, Texas, but he and his family are living in a caravan while driving around the country. Lucas, the creator of Angry Fred, is also a big Elvis Presley fan, so we talked about the upcoming Elvis movie. You can listen to the conversation on our website: https://powerssquaredcomicbook.com/oaps or wait until this coming Wednesday to watch it on YouTube on our channel. Your choice.

No work this week on fka Skylar, sorry about that. I think that's the real reason I don't feel like I got anything done.

Well, that's about all from me. Keep writing, and I'll see you next week.

Sunday, May 22, 2022

A Week in Writing #405 - Hitting a Wall

Hope everyone is staying well, and, of course, writing.

Monday started off with a rejection, a query I made back at the end of March, so I was figuring it was about out of code anyway. Decided to take the opportunity to DNR the three previous ones I hadn't heard from that pre-dated that query. One had a day to go before their two-month lead time. Was I too hasty? Somehow I doubt it; just taking care of the inevitable early. So, is the going rate 1 in 4 actually send rejections? Down now to just three "live" ones.

Make that four, as I did squeeze out a new query on Thursday night. I think I'm selling myself short and I might, dare I say it, try to query another book simultaneously. I'm also thinking that maybe I need to rewrite the first chapter since maybe it comes off too soft for a thriller. I don't know, really, I'm floundering here. I don't know what agents are necessarily looking for or I would have one by now. But the rewrite has some merit as I need to get into the story right away; previous advice from an agent who didn't sign me regarding another book.

I've been hitting a wall recently with my writing and I'm not talking about being bereft of ideas, it's time. I've been crashing, physically, at about ten or ten-thirty and I have to force myself to get back to work. Doing that, of course, throws off my sleep and I end up crashing the next night as a result. Vicious circle.

That's been cutting into my writing time quite a bit of late. I don't know about you but sleep for me is a sometimes thing and there are times when everything is running smoothly and then there are times when it's not and it throws everything else off. My problem to deal with.

Spent some time working on a script idea for a one-off about Jennifer Perry. Trying to give her some more background and make her a more interesting character. This is based, in part, on some feedback we received on our Pitch Packet a while back.

Writing that and my review of The Killer is Loose were just about all I got through this week. My review of Our Town was the Saturday Morning Review on Trophy Unlocked. We decided to go one and two with that and Paul's review of Wonder for obvious reasons if you've seen that movie. Trevor's review of Kao the Kangaroo: Round 2 was the Wednesday Game Day Review.

No new review from me this week. We went to Amoeba Records in Hollywood on Saturday and purchased a copy of MST3K Season 11. Ended up watching the first episode of that instead of draining the DVR (good thing we don't review TV). To make up for it, I posted, as a draft, a review I had done for Chaplin. You gotta do something, right?

Sadly, nothing new on fka Skylar. Blame the lack of sleep and the script.

Speaking of, Trevor wrote one for Powers Squared that's pretty good with the Eli character fighting a Gashadokuro. Paul and I need to write a companion piece for Marty. We're thinking of sliding it in after our next story arc.

I'm also reading Paul's fourth draft of his book; so much writing going on. I'm a little more than three chapters in. I reserve critique for him when I'm done. And no, I won't give away any of the plot.

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

Sunday, May 15, 2022

A Week in Writing #404 - Plowing Forward


Hope everyone is well, and, of course, writing.

I'm sure you get tired of hearing this, but a lot of the week was taken up with Powers Squared. To begin with, there was new artwork for Issue #21 from our artist, Rachel Wells, to be reviewed. Maybe that wasn't the first thing but it is the most important thing to review. We had some back and forth on the cover earlier but that seems to have been worked out. We're going for a Metal Gear vibe with the cover.

We had two shows this weekend, one with the entire creative team, our monthly team meeting. If you didn't catch it live (and I'm betting you didn't) it'll go up on YouTube on Wednesday at https://youtu.be/fGZ8_vs0wWg. We sort of had a discussion about what to do if Twitter goes weird (weirder?) after Musk's proposed takeover (Is it back on or still on hold?). I was on it before and still am, but I'm concerned about what could happen to it in the future. Is there an alternative?

We did another show with Rachel on Saturday morning (LA time), wherein we discussed the books we had all picked up on Free Comic Book Day, which was last week. We did that live, as well, on twitch.tv/powerssquared and also posted it that day on YouTube at https://youtu.be/1SEHw-o8adA. That's available now.

Next the fun of submitting proofs. Ordinarily not a hard process. We use two on-demand printers: Artithmeric (our partners in the Kickstarter) and Ka-Blam in Florida to provide a domestic source. Both have different processes for submitting and neither is as easy as you'd want.

We're still waiting for the fine art prints to sign. I've been told they've been sent but I don't know when to expect them or how to send them back once we receive and sign. I did receive my share of the cut from the Kickstarter, which wasn't really all that much. However, I'm prepared to move forward on the translations.

We did a table read of the pilot script, a real family affair with my sons, my wife, and I each taking parts. Read pretty well and with a few minor changes, we should be good to go with it.

Had one of those going to sleep thoughts about the next scripts for the comic book. I had written one with Marty and Eli's parents coming for a visit. In the first few versions, it was coming for a Parent's Day at the school but I didn't really like that. I set it at Christmas and we were going with that version when last night it hit me that the prior issues (20 and 21: "Mission: Istanistan") take place at Spring Break and I didn't like the time skip implied.

Did a rewrite today taking out the Christmas references and I think it still works. The holiday wasn't so important to the plot as a nice backdrop and a chance to get some Christmas stuff for the comic book. I guess that'll have to wait.

I also tried my hand at a script explaining Jennifer Perry's past. For those of you unfamiliar, Jennifer is Eli's girlfriend in the comic book. When we did the first go-round of the Pitch Packet, we got surprisingly negative reviews on Jennifer, which we tried to fix by giving her a backstory that still fits with the book but gives her more depth. That was the script I was working on. I haven't given up but it seems to be harder than I thought to make an issue out of it.

No new reviews from me this week, though I will be working on one for The Killer is Loose, which I saw on Saturday night after watching the Amphibia finale (and no, I won't spoil it).

Only one new review on Trophy Unlocked this week. Paul's Saturday morning review of WonderMy review of Our Town will follow next Saturday. If you've seen Wonder, it makes sense.

More writing on fka Skylar but never enough to take note about.

And I did manage one new query for Broken People on Thursday. So far nothing back on any of the others, which in this day and age means an eventual rejection when the clock runs out.

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