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.