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.