Sunday, December 28, 2014

A Week in Writing #17

Writing and the holidays are not a good mix. There are so many other demands on your time that it makes it very difficult to work on anything but family and fun. Quite a choice to make. Sometimes you can squeeze in some writing during the down times in the holidays, but there are several days that I wasn't able to write this past week. I did have some time to think, but actually sitting down for any length at a keyboard was out of the question until today.

I did manage to think of a new story for the comic book I still want to work on. We have scripts, it's really just a matter of finding an artist to work with. This project has taken a backseat since Comic-Con, but it is not forgotten. About a quarter of the way through a first draft.

I think I'm also finally past the sticking point in my rewrite of Familiar Stranger, the spot I've been circling for about a month or so now. I'm hoping I can continue to work on it to completion. I'm about 60 percent through the rewrite.

Nothing this past week on the agent front. No new queries and no new rejections, requests or DNRs and no new edits on Public and Private to report, but I really didn't expect anything to happen until after the New Year. Planning to send out some new queries after everyone returns to work in January.

As far as other writing, posted on Saturday my last Stubs review of the year on Trophy Unlocked, the aptly named Holiday (1938), Still need to write a wrap-up for the year post for the end of the year. Not sure what to write/post for the start of 2015.  Always like to start the year off with a comedy if at all possible, but which one?

Well, that about sums up this week for me. Not a lot to report, but I'm hoping to get more done this next week. I will, of course, report it all right here. Until then, hope you have a happy and safe New Year's Eve.

Sunday, December 21, 2014

A Week in Writing #16

Ho, ho, ho. The week started with a DNR (Did Not Respond) turning into a full fledged rejection. DNRs are sort of like maybes and give you a little bit of hope that they just haven't seen it yet. Nothing better to put you in the Christmas spirit than a form letter turning you down. Merry Christmas, let me rub a little salt in that wound for you.

Wrote and edited a 3300 word future review for Trophy Unlocked. Not sure when the piece about The Cameraman (1928) will appear. Watched it on Sunday night. Buster Keaton is really funny.

Had a tweet retweeted, though it had nothing to do with my writing, rather a review that appeared on the blog. The writer of the comic book liked the review. Whew! But I doubt he would have re-tweeted a negative response: Check out this review. They hated my work.

Did have one of my own reviews, Bachelor Mother, re-tweeted. The pageviews went up by about 60 percent as a result; thank you Warner Archives.

Worked on another review for the blog, the last for the year, Holiday (1938), about 2800 words. Chcck Trophy Unlocked on Saturday when it should be published. On the topic of the blog and reviews, we decided to do one of Team America: World Police (2004) as a reaction to the cancelled release of The Interview. Team America had been the choice of some smaller theaters as a replacement, only to have Paramount nix that. That review, by another writer on the blog, should be published on Christmas Day.

Speaking of Trophy Unlocked, it just had it's fourth anniversary, which is quite an accomplishment. I've only been writing for it for about three and a half years and I really enjoy having a place to publish reviews of older movies that we watch at home.

Back to my mystery writing, I did get some rewrites done, but with work and Christmas, it's hard to find the time to get too far. I'm still going through the same patch, but this time I'm determined to get past it. I'm hoping that the holidays, with more than a week off, will give me the time to get more done.

I did hear back from the agent who has my manuscript. She says she's behind in her reading, which I take at face value. For now, it's not a rejection, so I'm happy it's still in play. If she likes it, but wants rewrites, I'm open to that as well. My goal is to have a publishable novel, so any and all suggestions, comments and edits that make it better are welcomed.

All in all, between reviews and rewrites, I made my 1000 words a day goal, I just feel like there is more I can and want to do. Well, one more week of the year to go. Hope everyone has a happy holidays and a Merry Christmas.

And above all, keep writing.

Sunday, December 14, 2014

A Week in Writing #15

Keeping to my success with PitMad, I entered something called PitchMas, another twitter-inspired mass pitch-fest, with the top 50 pitches being featured on the blog at
I came across this one quite by accident and unfortunately did not make the cut. Par for the course, I'm afraid.

As promised, I nudged the agent who has the manuscript for A Killer Blog. Unfortunately, the agent isn't accepting new queries and has her email set to send out such a notice the way some people have their work email tell you they're out of the office. The result is I don't have an update for you. I don't know if my follow up made it to her eyes or not. I'm hoping no news is good news. It would be better for the agent to contact me, rather than me contact the agent.

Not sending out any new queries until the new year, but I did find a useful blog I'd like to share: I'm finding agents and details that I haven't found on Query Tracker, which is my go-to site. Still accumulating agents to query.

Published one review on Trophy Unlocked for A Christmas Story:  and wrote two more future posts totaling about 5800 words between the two.

Even with those reviews, I'm not sure I made my 1000 words a day goal this past week. Still working on my rewrites for Familiar Stranger and still seemingly caught in a mobius strip of editing. Having a hard time getting it going.

Anyway, that's all for this week. While I will post next Sunday, I can't guarantee how much holiday creep will effect my output. Cards to write, etc. Do those count? I didn't think so.

Sunday, December 7, 2014

A Week in Writing #14

Sometimes when I'm doing rewrites, I feel like I get caught up in the same few pages of the manuscript, going over and over the same territory, sort of like trench warfare. One change here makes for changes a few pages back, etc. So I can't say I've made much real progress on my rewrite of Familiar Stranger.

No new queries. Doesn't seem to be much point of querying between Thanksgiving and Christmas. I think it makes it too hard to calculate their 4 to 6 to 8 weeks to reply. Are they in the office the week before Christmas? In between the holidays? When do they get back to work? So for the next month or so, I'm going to cool my heels as far as sending out query emails. Still four more queries moved to the Did Not Respond pile, which is always disappointing. It's always nice to know your query has been at least looked at.

I did take a shot at PitMad, a Twitter-only query free-for-all. I'm following someone on Twitter, who is behind PitMad, but still I really stumbled across it this time on the 4th. Takes a lot to summarize a book in 140 characters. Per the guidelines that I read, I sent out three versions of Past Present. I chose that one, since the agent who has A Killer Blog was a visible participant on PitMad. Didn't want to offend. Well, no worries there. I sent three different versions several hours apart. Three up and no response, or in the case of PitMad none of the tweets were starred, which would mean someone was interested in reading more.

So, it's not been a banner week for the mystery writing. This next week, I'll get back at it. This is also the week I should be able to follow up with the agent with A Killer Blog. I'm always wary of having to write to an agent to follow up. I hope it means they're not done looking at it, rather than they thought the reject email had already been sent. This whole process has been going on for over 7 months, which means there's been a lot of waiting.

Published two reviews on Trophy Unlocked: Stubs Goes Blu(-ray) - Yankee Doodle Dandy and
Remember the Night (1940). The former was retweeted by the Warner Archive, which really increased the view count on the blog. They had sent us a review copy so that we could compare it to the DVD we had reviewed in July 2013.

The latter is a kick-off to Christmas movie review season on Trophy Unlocked. I also wrote another review of a Christmas-themed movie for next week. The holidays, as I wrote last week, make it a little harder to have the time to write. There are gifts to buy, trees to purchase, lights to put up; and we're still three weeks out.

Well, back to it next week. If you're writing too, it may be hard to find the time, but you have to stay focused.

Sunday, November 30, 2014

A Week in Writing #13

Started back on my rewrites of Familiar Stranger this week, but I didn't get far. Driving, visiting with family and shopping for Christmas are not conducive to writing a thousand words a day. I did drive about 1,000 miles over the weekend, but that doesn't put words on the page.

Didn't send out any new agent queries, but five expired from no response. While that's not necessarily the end of the query process with those agents, it's usually a sign that nothing is going to happen. Disappointing, but sadly not unexpected.

Received some more edits this afternoon on Public and Private, but I'm going to wait until tomorrow to go through them.

Posted two movie reviews on Trophy Unlocked this week, San Quentin (1937) and Each Dawn I Die (1939), both Warner Bros. prison films. I usually try to post one a week, but I wanted to finish with the reviews I had for films from 1939 this month, as next month will be spent on holiday movies and year-end wrap ups. The last review I had from 1939 was Each Dawn I Die and in it, I make reference to San Quentin, a review I had written, but not published, so it made sense to post that one earlier in the week to set up Each Dawn I Die.

I do know that the reviews are being read, especially when I re-post them on TCM's Classic Film Union blogsite. There I do get the occasional comment. A little disconcerting is that a couple lately have been pointing out mistakes in my reviews. When someone points something out, I try to research the claim and make corrections if appropriate. I'm not happy about making the mistake in the first place, but I want these reviews to be correct when it comes to the synopsis or the factual/historical part of the articles.

I did write a new review, this one for Fatty and Mabel Adrift (1916), a silent comedy short. Not sure when I'll post it, but I like having some in the bank so to speak. Some weeks are harder than others to write a review and sometimes it's nice to ones to fall back on or to build a theme around. I also, have the next two reviews ready to go. This week will be another twofer, but you'll have to wait to find out what they are, but here's a hint, the Stubs reviews in December will be aimed at Christmas.

I'm hoping this next week will allow more time for writing.

Monday, November 24, 2014

A Week in Writing #12

Some weeks seem to be less satisfying than others. I finished a second go at the screenplay, adding in enough to make the story work. The screenplay at this point is 161 pages, which is probably long, but I've seen other screenplays that are about that long for movies that aren't 161 minutes long. But I'll have to keep working on it.

I'd like to get back to the novels though. Haven't gotten any notes from my editor lately, so I'm going to go back to Familiar Stranger. I had reached an impasse on the book that I think I've been able to think through so I'm anxious to get back. I'm not trying to make excuses in advance, but the coming week isn't going to be writing friendly, what with driving and eating related to Thanksgiving.

Submitted two queries this week and two others expired from no response. It's hard to know if they actually looked at your query and passed or are so overloaded they didn't have a chance to look at it. Even though I've put them into the Did Not Respond pile, I've had them come back after the fact and ask to see more or to remind me they had rejected me. Still waiting until after December 7th to follow up with the agent who has my full manuscript.

Wrote three reviews this weekend and posted two on Trophy Unlocked. Wrote and posted a review (1000 words) of Birdman  (or The Unexpected Virtue of Ignorance) after seeing a screening on Friday night. Posted another one for Mr. Smith Goes to Washington (1939), as we continue to look at films from Hollywood's Golden Year. Wrote a future December review of Remember The Night (1940), 3125 words, and a Blu-ray update on Yankee Doodle Dandy (1942), 327 words; so it's been a busy weekend of writing.

Hope you have a safe, happy and creative Thanksgiving.

Sunday, November 16, 2014

A Week in Writing #11

Last week, I wrote that I wanted to finish my screenplay adaptation on this past Monday. Pleased to say I did and started the arduous task of editing it down. I had read somewhere that a screenplay should be about 75 to 90 pages long and mine clocked in at about 170 pages, which is about twice too long. However, when I looked at some screenplays online, I found that most are much longer than the 75 to 90 page limit I'd heard about. I've decided the best route for me is to write the screenplay I want, tighten it as much as I can and go from there. So the editing down makes it hard to keep a thousand word a day pace.

As far as the search for representation goes, I got one form rejection from an agent this week and I found three more I could send out query letters to. I'm still biding time until I can nudge the agent with my full manuscript. I've read on a blog associated with Query Tracker that you're supposed to give them three months with a partial and six with a full, which is like forever in writer years. The first week in December will mark about seven months since I started the query process with her. She asked for a partial (145 pages) after a month and then a full after three more months and after a nudge from me.

One thing I've learned is that writers support one another, to that end, I went to Palm Springs on Saturday for a book signing for a friend of mine that had written a history of one of that town's social institutions. Quite impressive with a city proclamation and everything. I will admit I was a bit jealous. Even though it was not the kind of book I want to write, he had at least made the move from writer to publish and paid writer. That seems to loom so far in the future for me.

In the meantime, posted a review on Trophy Unlocked: Stagecoach (1939). You can read it here:  I also wrote a review for a future post, 2300+ words about the cult film Office Space. One of the things I like about writing for the blog is planning out the reviews. Have the ones I want to post for November ready to go, which means I can start to work on Christmas soon.

Next week, it's back to the screenplay and sending out some new queries. Always have to keep the eyes on the goal and have to keep writing.

Sunday, November 9, 2014

A Week in Writing #10

Last week, I mentioned that I hadn't gotten any response to my queries. Well, that changed this week, but not necessarily for the better. I did receive two responses, both rejections. While this is frustrating, I hate to say it, but I'm no longer shocked by it or even depressed. I don't like it, but I have to think there is an agent out there that will give me a chance, I just haven't found that person yet.

The first draft of my screenplay adaptation of A Killer Blog is almost done. I have a long way to go after that, as I imagine that it is probably twice as long as it should be. I hope to finish it on Monday and then it's rewrites and slashing. I added another 6000 words to the effort, but starting next week I'll be subtracting I guess. Maybe I should change the blog to -1000 Words a Day. 

Got feedback from my editor, notes on about 100 pages of Public and Private. Good stuff. It's interesting to see what he has problems with in the book, outside of grammar. There have been some things that he's let stay in that I assumed would be problems. Now when I say let stay in, I know the final decision is mine, but I also know that the goal is to make it better and I think his suggestions are trying to make it better as well and I take them seriously.

For the blog, I did post one review, Mary Poppins, available here:

I will admit I was quite excited to see someone post a comment about the review on the blog. I think it's been nearly 2 years since someone has actually done that to one of my reviews on Trophy Unlocked, going back to my review on The Artist (2012). I know it's a little thing, but it's always nice to know you're not writing for the void. Comments are always welcomed (HINT!).

I also wrote another future post for Creature From the Black Lagoon (1954). I know we had already watched a lot of horror films recently, so this one may wait for quite awhile before it gets posted. But the opportunity was there to watch it, so I took advantage to write the review, almost 2500 words this time. 

Mapping out the reviews to post for the rest of the year. I wanted to do more on 1939, since this is the 75th anniversary of Hollywood's Golden Year. And after that we're headed into Christmas and we've traditionally written reviews about holiday films, though we've been pretty loose as to what qualifies as a Christmas movie, including a tribute a few years back to Bruce Willis films, since several take place on or around the holiday season. (Think Die Hards 1 and 2 and RED.) We've also done more traditional titles as well. 

Time for a book plug. During the week I finally finished reading Epic Win!, which I picked up at last year's Comic Con. I had already recommended it to a writer friend from work a few weeks back and now that I've finished it, I wanted to plug it here. Douglas Neff, with Corey Rothermel, has put together a common sense guide to help people pursue their dream of creating something, whether it be a comic book or a movie or something else. The principles can be applied to any creative endeavor. The book deals with the process of creation and gives some good tips on what you need such as a support team in your creative life's epic journey. I'm sure if you're attending the SDCC 2015, Doug will have a booth, but it might be quicker and cheaper to buy it on Amazon. But if you're wanting to write and need a push to get you going, this is a good guide. The chapters are short and to the point so there's no excuse not to buy it and read it.

Next week, I hope to report on finishing my screenplay and the process of editing that down to hopefully something sellable. In the meantime, keep writing.

Sunday, November 2, 2014

A Week in Writing #9

For the first time since I started this blog, and for as long as I can remember, I didn't write for one day this past week. Friday was Halloween and circumstances between work and the trick or treaters didn't allow me an opportunity. As we enter the holiday season, there are going to be days where writing is going to take a backseat to travel, eating and shopping.

Writing is sort of like dieting, When you fall off the wagon and eat something high in calories, you don't stop watching what you eat. You forgive yourself and get back to dieting. So Saturday I got back to it.

It's not that I didn't write at all. I added a little over 6,000 words to the screenplay of A Killer Blog, which I already know is too long. I've got about another 100 pages to adapt and then I'm going back through it with a sharp knife and cut it down. I've already eliminated one character entirely and I don't think I can really eliminate any more without changing the story more than I want to.

I did a couple of more reviews for Trophy Unlocked over the weekend: London After Midnight (1927) and Tomorrow Never Dies (1997). 2300 and 3000 words respectively. Writing these posts for the blog is a little like comfort food. I enjoy watching the movies, researching them and writing about them.

I know I'm avoiding fixing Familiar Stranger. I think I know what I need to do, but for some reason I don't have the desire to get into the work. I'm concerned about how much work I'll have to do. I know I have to do it and I will, but right now it seems daunting.

Speaking of rewrites, I'm expecting more feedback from my editor on Public and Private any day now.

I also sent out five more queries and so far no response on them or the other nineteen queries that are out there. No news is not necessarily good news when it comes to submissions. Writing takes a great deal of patience. You wait for an agent to read your query, you wait after you send pages and you wait even longer after you've sent the entire manuscript. I've been down this path several times in the past three years, but it doesn't get any easier.

What I'm taking away from this week in writing is that the work is important, but sometimes there will be times that I'll need to do other things. And that's okay, as long as I get back to it as soon as I can.

Sunday, October 26, 2014

A Week in Writing #8

Last week, I was bemoaning about writing and not finding an audience. This week the posts on the blogs, with the exception of this one, had more hits. Maybe it was the subject matter I was writing about, but it was nice to see more views and actually get a comment on the TCM blog for my review of The Mummy (1932).

The commenter wasn't happy with me and disagreed with my opinion, but it was nice to see I wasn't writing into a vacuum. The whole idea about writing about movies is to hopefully start a conversation with people that have like interests. Hopefully, they do that at Trophy Unlocked, but the important thing is the conversation.

Had a lot of free time, so I was able to send out more queries and do some more writing. Honestly, I wrote around dealing with Familiar Stranger. I've had an issue with what I was revising. What I had written before didn't seem to be working for me, but fixing it was a little harder than I thought. I did think about it, but I didn't write through it.
Instead, I continued working on the screenplay adapted from A Killer Blog. I've pushed the screenplay to 81 pages and about 12,000 words. It's interesting work. In order to cut down on the time without cutting down on the plot, I've eliminated a character all together. While I think it works in the book, the screenplay is a different thing all together. My plan is to write it out and then worry about length and formatting. I'm a little less than halfway through the book. I don't think it's working out to be a page a minute, though. I'm shooting for a screenplay that's between 90 minutes and 2 hours in length.

Doing this work really makes me appreciate the screenplays that had to be churned out back in the 30's and 40's when the studios were pushing a film a week out their front gates. The writers wrote complete stories that ran about 90 minutes or less. They weren't perfect necessarily, but being able to tell a story in about 75 minutes is quite a feat.

Speaking of older films, wrote four reviews this week, including The Story of Temple Drake (2243 words), Goldfinger (3605 words), Casino Royale (3141 words), and Mad Love (2019 words). All are ones I plan to post at some point in the future. I like having some in the bank just in case.

I even did some edits on the Mathmagical script for the comic book. Nothing too major, just some edits and a bit of action Paul recommended. He's better at the grammar than I am, but he also has some good ideas, too. The dream of the comic book hasn't died, but I need to be sure of a few things before I decide I can afford to pay for an artist, or artists, to draw it.

All said, I wrote about 19,200 words this week, sort of equally divided between fiction and non-fiction. Big week.

Read something sober today on an agent's website. After they agree to represent you (which they say is less than 1% chance), it will still be 2 to 3 years before the book is published. That was really scary to read. Maybe that was another reason I sent out so many queries; twelve this week. Torn between wanting to get them all out, which I would hope would increase my chances of finding representation, and the fear that they will all come back rejected. Two of the twelve I sent out have already been rejected. I'm sure one of them actually read my submission, since they seemed to get it, but they claimed they didn't have the time to take anyone new on. Disappointing.

But the point is to keep at it. Keep writing, keep posting, keep submitting and to keep trying to make the dream come true.

Sunday, October 19, 2014

A Week in Writing #7

Sometimes I feel like I'm not reaching an audience. This past Friday, I posted a review of Freaks (1932) on Trophy Unlocked as well as on the TCM Classic Film Union or CFU. After spending several days researching the film, watching the film and writing a review about it, you hope for more than 5 people to read it on Trophy Unlocked and only 44 on the TCM CFU. Not really rewarding, but that doesn't deter me from wanting to write them. I also know that it's hit and miss as far as getting page views.

Usually a big review gets 70 to 80 hits on Trophy Unlocked and a 100 on TCM, but I've had a couple that seem to have taken off. My Robocop review on Trophy Unlocked has, at last count, 846 hits and Peter Pan has 840. On TCM, two reviews, Godfather and Things to Come, have 1.6K views each. Why? I don't know. I write these because I enjoy writing them, but knowing someone is reading them is rewarding and getting a comment is the icing on the cake. And comments are really rare. Godfather and Things to Come only have 3 each, which is like 1 comment for every 533 views. Seems low to me.

On a good week, this blog only gets 5 hits, so I guess I should be used to writing for the void of the internet, with no response or feedback. This leads me back to querying agents. While the hit rate is slightly better, it seems to be the norm nowadays for an agent to only get back to you if they're interested. That really sucks. You don't know if the agent ever really saw it and read your query. Worse is the too quick answer, like within minutes or hours within submission. Even though the query is basically a form letter, you can feel that you've put more effort in the query than the agent did reading it. And finally, there's the feedback which is not helpful in the least. Not being right for an agent's list tells you nothing about the quality of your own writing. And the well wishes at the bottom of the letter, the one wishing you luck finding representation, only reads as a hollow gesture. But still I send them out hoping against hope that mine will get through and find the right agent for me.

As for writing this week, I completed a review of Lost in Translation (2003) which clocked it at about 2500, almost 2600, words. As far as fiction, I'm still retracing my place in Familiar Stranger, the book I've been editing on my own. Over the week, I've moved the story forward by about 2000 words. While I was struggling with moving that forward, I started working on a screenplay, an adaptation of one of my earlier books, A Killer Blog. I've gotten about 24 pages in and 3480 words. All told, I managed to squeeze out my thousand words a day.

Would love to hear about someone else's writing journey, but that would mean someone would have to leave a comment.

Sunday, October 12, 2014

A Week in Writing #6

Sometimes one week can seem a lot like the rest. To a third-party, the act of writing is an awful lot like typing and watching someone type is not the most exciting to thing to do, which probably explains why writing is not a spectator sport.

I had a sort of breakthrough this past week on Familiar Stranger, the book I have been re-writing on my own. There was a certain part of the story that I could never get to work to my own satisfaction. I've played around with it for two full re-writes, so on the third go 'round, I finally came up with a better approach. That's one of the things I like about editing, making things work that hadn't before. Making it better is what it's all about.

Heard back from one agent I queried last Sunday; a rejection, what else. The next day, so you know he gave it a lot of thought. The box score for anyone counting or caring is 6 out for A Killer Blog, including one complete manuscript and 8 for Past Present. While I trolled Query Tracker looking for more potential agents, I didn't send out any new queries. Later next week, I'll have the time to send more out.

Got an invite for a book party for a friend of mine in November. I'll admit to a little jealousy, but if I don't go it's because it's out in Palm Springs. I'd like to go and be supportive. His is not a fiction book, but I would hope he'd do the same for me.

As far as my thousand words a day goes, I think I'm still on course. I finished a future review for Trophy Unlocked: The Mummy (about 3770 words) and I know I did that many on Familiar Stranger, only some of the work has been going over the same part of the novel, making the changes I mentioned above. No firm word count, I'm afraid. I kept track the first couple of days and I was over 3000 combined, but again these are editing word counts. I did publish one review on Trophy Unlocked:  Frankenstein (1931), which you are welcomed to read.

Anyway, that's the week that was.

Sunday, October 5, 2014

A Week in Writing #5

I'm not sure who said it first, but life is what happens while you're busy making other plans. With the heat descending on Los Angeles this weekend, I had hoped to stay in and get some writing done. However, our clothes dryer went out and we needed a new one, so most of Saturday was spent on finding a reasonably priced one and scheduling to get it delivered. I won't bore you with the details, but something like that takes a big chunk of time and energy.

Posted a new review on Trophy Unlocked for Dracula (1931), as part of our Halloween horror film salute. I also simultaneously post a version of the post on TCM's CFU. I usually get more hits there, but I wouldn't be doing them if it weren't for Trophy Unlocked. I like having a deadline and working towards it. I also wrote another review for Friday and did some research on one I still have to write for later in the month. We're looking at five films in October, Dracula being the first, followed by Frankenstein, The Mummy, The Wolf Man and Freaks.

Spent some real quality time on my editing for Familiar Stranger. I had to rethink some of the plot points, which is still part of the process. I'm a little more than half way through this revision. I've gone back over the same section, but this week, I think I did about 4000 words. (Coupled with my review of about 3900 words for later in the week and I'm still keeping with my thousand words a day.)

No new pages from my editor on Public and Private, so I have nothing new to report on that.

As I promised last week, I spent sometime today sending out queries for representation. At present I have 15 out: 10 for Past Present and 5 for A Killer Blog. So far only one agent has asked for more pages, the full manuscript for A Killer Blog. I didn't get any rejections yet, so I would say it's a good week on that front. All four books have the same lead character, so I'm hoping to have a viable series when I'm done.

I started doing this blog to keep myself honest and on task and I think it helps. It at least makes me keep myself accountable for the work I'm doing. Even if I'm not where I want to be at present, I have to keep working on that goal.

Sunday, September 28, 2014

A Week in Writing #4

Working an 8 to 5 or 9 to 6 job and writing is difficult. And throw in a couple of birthdays, actually three family birthdays in three days, and time gets even tighter.

One of my goals for the week was to send off more submissions. I made a point of sending five on my birthday, which was Wednesday. Got a rejection back in a little over 5 hours, so I'm plus four. I did some more research and found a few more agents to query, so I'll try to keep at it this week.

Spent one night working on my book and got through about 1400 words, so I need to do better next week. This isn't the one I'm working with an editor on, but one I'm going through myself before having someone else tell me everything that's wrong with it. Funny as it may sound, I really like hearing everything that needs to be done to make any work I do better; fiction or reviews.

I found myself spending a lot of time working on future reviews for Trophy Unlocked. I don't know why but I couldn't stop working on His Girl Friday most of the week. It ended up being about 2600 words. I finished another one, this time Dracula, that will appear next month in our salute to horror films. The Dracula one ended up being about 3400 words and should appear next Friday on Trophy Unlocked.

So all in all, I guess I did about 7000 words or my thousand a day; just some weeks don't seem as productive as others.

Next week, I need to do some research for another future post and get back into my mystery novel. I'll report on that next week.

In the meantime, keep being creative.

Sunday, September 21, 2014

A Week in Writing #3

HE’S ALIVE! I know for the last couple of weeks I’ve been wondering where my editor was. The last time we communicated was at the end of July. I had seen photos of him on Facebook, I knew he had gone to Burning Man, or at least I had assumed he’d gone to Burning Man, but no word in about six weeks. I’d said I’d get ahold of him this past week and I was successful.

He sent me notes covering about 185 pages, which took me a couple of nights to get through. I really hate seeing how bad my grammar and spelling can get. But his notes were very helpful and I like that he makes me rethink some of what I've written. I always want to make the book better. Plus, it was good to get back into Public and Private after so long.

One rejection this week, “could connect with the voice” was the only comment. Doesn’t sound like any easy fix. The disappointing thing is that even if I changed the voice, the agent probably wouldn’t look at it again. That’s why I take a rejection and move on. Had another query fall by the wayside due to lack of response. The agent’s website says if you don’t hear back within 30 days consider it a pass. Again, you have to move on. Currently, I have an agent with the entire manuscript and I’m waiting to hear yeah, nay or nothing from five others. I need to get back on the submission horse this week.

As part of Silent Saturdays in September, I published a review of one of my favorite films, Steamboat Bill, Jr. I really enjoy writing these, but I just wish I knew more people read them. Speaking of Trophy Unlocked, I did some more preliminary work on reviews for October, when we’ll be concentrating on horror films and switching our postings to Fridays to coincide with Halloween.

Spent most of my writing time this weekend on a future review for Trophy Unlocked; Mr. Smith Goes to Washington (1939) that clocks in at around 5,000 words. It was my first time to really watch the film from start to finish, but you’ll have to wait awhile to read my review.

Finding the time to write is always a bit of a challenge. Working takes up so much valuable waking time and on the weekend there’s always errands to run and, of course, I want to spend time with my family. I really wish I had more time, but that’s the goal, to make a living writing.

Well, that about wraps up the week. My goal for next week is to send out more queries for representation; and of course, that 1000 words a day.

Comments welcomed.

Sunday, September 14, 2014

A Week in Writing #2

While I hate to say it, not much happened this week on the detective novel front. My editor is alive, I’m sure of it. People are posting photos of him on Facebook. Good to know. I know that I wasn’t quite right for a week or so after Comic-Con so I can only imagine Burning Man takes some time to get over. From what I know about the event it sounds quite intense, a sort of mix of art and survival skills. As hard as SDCC is, Burning Man sounds worse.

I put my own rewrites on hold because I had an idea I wanted to work out for the still non-existent- someday-going-to-be comic book. I won’t go into too many details, but it’s called Mathmagical and has to do with the Napoleon Theorem being used as a portal.  The idea took most of the week to write, read and edit. The script ended up being 30 pages and about 6400 words. My editor/co-writer is my son, Paul, so with the demands of his own college coursework, I’m not expecting any feedback anytime soon. But the more important thing for me was to write it out and at least get it down on paper, or at least a Word document.

I did some research work on agents, though I didn’t send any queries this week.  I discovered, by following  an agent on Twitter, that there is something called #Pitmad. It’s sort of like a group pitch session, but instead of the speed-dating type you do at writer’s conferences, you have to summarize your 90,000 word novel to 140 characters. As impossible as that might sound apparently a lot of agents pay attention to it. I was interested in trying it, but, of course, I found out about this on September 10th and #Pitmad was September 9th. I know they had something similar called #PitchWars, so I’m sure what goes around will come around again and something similar will come again.

I spent a good part of Saturday and this morning working on a future review for Trophy Unlocked of Stagecoach (1939). That worked out to be about 4000 words; so much to say about a really good film.  I’m hoping to post it in November. We’re doing a salute to silent films during September (posted Tillie’s Punctured Romance on Saturday) and horror films in October, so I’m hoping to post it before we move onto holiday films in December.

Next week, I’m getting back to my rewrites and I hope to locate my editor. Wish me luck. 

Sunday, September 7, 2014

A Week in Writing

I was going to write about the week sort of lamenting my lack of progress.

My editor is still sort of AWOL. I believe he survived Burning Man, but no word yet. I had been waiting for over a month to get some pages from him.

I got two rejections in the same day, both for Past Present and neither insightful. But you don't expect that from someone that read all of five or ten pages. The same day, I wrote off another query after two months and no response for A Killer Blog. Since I'd sent a SASE, I sort expect there to be some response, but after two months you've got to move on. I trust the agent peeled off the stamp and used it to pay a bill.

On the comic book front, we reached out again to an artist we met at Comic Con, but haven't heard back. Not sure what that means, but if they don't pan out, we'll have to look elsewhere.

My prospects changed somewhat last night when I received a request for a full for A Killer Blog from an agent who had read the first 150 pages. I sent the manuscript off this morning, so I'm hopeful. But it's a waiting game now. The agent took a little over 3 months to read the first pages I sent, so I'm not expecting any response right away.

Posted a review on Trophy Unlocked for Show People, a silent film from 1928 starring Marion Davies. Planning on concentrating on silent films throughout the month of September. Also worked on a review of Shane (1953) for a future post.

Kept writing, actually rewrites. I'm doing a self-edit on a different book than the one the editor is reviewing. Getting through about 1000 words a day, which is my goal.

During the week, roughed out a new story idea for PowerSquared with Paul and began to write it up this weekend.

The lesson of the week is to keep patient and keep writing.

Comments welcomed.

Monday, September 1, 2014

First Post

I’m sure anyone who comes across this will be thinking, “Oh boy, another blog about writing.” And yes it is.

My reason for wanting to write it is really to keep myself honest. I want someplace to discuss the process, not so much my writing process, though that will be mentioned, but also the process of going from writer to published author, which is the goal.

I’m calling this blog 1000 Words A Day, which is a reference to advice Ray Bradbury supposedly gave a fledgling writer. And I’ve heard that number tossed around at Writer’s Conferences by published writers, as in “I write my 1000 words…” It’s a word count that seems both daunting and doable and it is a goal every day. And like the step counter on my phone that has set a goal for 10,000 steps, some days I meet this number, other days I don’t. It is a goal.

A lot of things get in the way of that goal: work, family, other interests, other responsibilities, etc. We all have them, so I’m not unique in that respect. But I still have to figure a way to write my thousand words.

One of the reasons I want to write this blog is that there are other issues. In 90 days, writing a thousand words a day and you have yourself a book. The next step is to get it published. And in this day and age there are a lot of outlets for getting your work out there. However, with novels, I’m not really interested in self-publishing. For me, that is like inviting yourself to a party rather than being asked to attend. And I want to be asked into the party. Nothing against those who do self-publish, the more power to you, but I would really like to make a living at this and outside of 50 Shades of Gray, there haven’t been a lot of breakout self-published novels. And it’s true, getting a publishing deal is in and of itself not a guarantee of success, but for me it is at least the first wrung of the ladder.

The process of getting published the traditional way begins with finding an agent. I currently have 11 queries out to agents for two books I’ve completed: A Killer Blog and Past Present. Two agents have asked for pages, but no one has asked for the whole manuscript. (I’m not new to this process, I must have sent out at least a hundred or more so far in my quest to find an agent.)

I won’t go into too much about the books at this point, but they are part of a mystery series revolving around a Los Angeles-based private investigator who, like myself, came to Hollywood from Texas with the goal of writing for the movies. But life is what happens while you’re busy making other plans.

In addition to the two books listed above, I have six other novels in the series in various stages. One, Public and Private, is being edited and I’m rewriting another one, Familiar Stranger before letting someone else look at it.  

I don’t plan to call out any agents on this blog, but there is only so much you can write about the process in the comment section on Query Tracker. So much goes into getting an agent, the research to find the right one, making sure you have the right materials and a lot of waiting. The best are those that give you some sort of usable feedback, even if they don’t take you on as a client. (Obviously, the best would really be the one who wants to represent you, but I haven’t found that one, yet.)

The bad ones send you a form letter which is, in essence, “not right for my list”; hurtful, but certainly not helpful. Worse are those you never hear from; can’t be bothered to reply unless I’m interested. And the absolute worst are those that even though you send them a SASE they still don’t reply. Do they peel off your stamp to pay their own bills?

In addition to writing mysteries, I’m also trying to get a comic book off the ground. Again, I won’t go into too much detail, but the story is New Adult fiction involving people with super powers with an anime twist. The story germinated with my sons Trevor and Paul, but I’m doing most of the writing with Paul, who, like me, wants to be writer.

So far we have several stories, but are in need of an artist or artists to bring the project to fruition. We have looked, but so far have not found the right person or persons to work with. It’s a little like assembling a crew, a penciler, an inker, a letterer and a colorist. One artist might be able to fill this need or we may have to find up to four.

This is a project born from attending San Diego Comic-Con year in and year out. And like any effort it is a slog and filled with rejection. (You have to have thick skin to be a writer in any field.) Again, the idea is not to call out any artist by name, but to discuss the process of finding one or four and getting the idea from words to pictures. The goal here is have a sustainable storyline.

Last and certainly not least has been writing for Trophy Unlocked, my son Paul’s blog “Attempting Balanced Reviews in Gaming, Movies and Licensed Video Game Comics”. I had been asked to write reviews of the older movies that we, as a family, have been watching every Friday night since the boys were old enough to eat pizza.

I really love films and have enjoyed introducing them to movies they might otherwise not have seen. Getting to write about them has been a great avenue for me and I really enjoy the process. I try to publish at least one a week, on Saturdays, and republish them on the TCM Classic Film Union blog site as well.

In April, Trophy Unlocked became members of the Warner Bros. Affiliate Program and this past summer, I published my 150th review and the blog passed its 500th review. In addition to reviews of older films, I’ve been able to review new movies, the occasional video game and write about our experiences attending Comic-Con and Wonder Con. I hope to continue doing this as long as he’ll have me.

So that pretty much brings us current with my writing. The blog will concentrate on these endeavors moving forward. Welcome aboard and I hope you enjoy the read.