Sunday, December 27, 2015

A Week in Writing #70

For the first time in quite awhile, I've had a couple of days where I didn't write very much or at all. I know the old saying, "writers write" but sometimes it's more important to enjoy the moment than sit down behind a laptop and pound out a thousand words.

Christmas Eve and Christmas Day are too busy to really spend much time writing. And the day after Christmas, what the British celebrate as Boxing Day, we call at my house, Movie Day. We sit and watch five or six films in a row, or our version of binge watching. This year we watched: Inside Out and Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs 2 both in 3-D,  Dragon Ball Z Battle of Gods, Dragon Ball Z Resurrection 'F', Kung Fu Panda, Shaun The Sheep Movie and Up The River. Some of these are films we've already watched and reviewed and some will become fodder for future posts, but for the most part these were new films to our collection that the family wanted to see.

While I liked Shaun the Sheep Movie, I won't be reviewing it on the blog since I work for Lionsgate and it might seem like a conflict of interest if I were to. I did write a future post for Up The River (1930) of about 2400 words. The film is notable because it stars Spencer Tracy and Humphrey Bogart in their first credited roles and is directed by John Ford.

During the week, did finish and post a review of Star Wars The Force Awakens and another one for Return of the Jedi. I thought I'd write a little more next week about posts and pageviews throughout the year, but I'm very surprised after 162 pageviews for Empire Strikes Back that Return of the Jedi has only mustered 24 and The Force Awakens only 32. I really thought I was onto something, but there are a lot of factors, I guess, not to mention holidays that might affect readership.

Had the thought for a good beginning of J.D. Barrister story and did do some revision work on a novel I started about him called The Runaway. But those aren't the stories I should be working on and I know it.

Hoping to find some time this coming week to do more writing and moved forward on the comic book, but I also want to take advantage of my staycation by making some calls and seeing some sights. Life's a balancing act, isn't it?

Sunday, December 20, 2015

A Week in Writing #69

As I predicted, this week in writing was spent on reviews for the blog. Finished and published the 3600+ word review of The Empire Strikes Back (1980) I started last week. Also started a review of Return of the Jedi (1983) which I'm almost done with at about 2800 words. Hope to publish that next Saturday. Still have to write a review for The Force Awakens, which I've just seen today.  That should come out mid-week. (Spoiler alert: I liked it).

This has been a big week for the blog as it celebrated its fifth anniversary with a re-review of Back to the Future III by our founder and editor, Paul. Besides that milestone, the last two reviews I've posted have been some of the best read since October. Star Wars has sort of plateaued at 100 and Empire has already has 133 page views. When you average about 30 a review, 133 is a banner day. Hopefully, the people that read that review will come back and read other ones as well.

Heard that TCM's CFU, the other blog I post reviews on, is going away next month. Really too bad, as it seemed to be a good site for me. Not sure why, but that's what I've heard. It's too bad if it's really true, but from what I've heard there have been long standing issues between members and TCM. Not sure what they are, but I've had "friends" who have been banned from time to time.

Made some progress on the comic book. We had narrowed our search down to several artists and asked for each to send us a sample page, based on a page in the script. A couple declined, one sent us a very detailed sketch and one sent us a complete page, pencil and ink. Another artist has said they're going to send us something, but it's been a week and nothing. Not very promising for him. We're getting closer to making a decision, but I want to do a little more research on how all this is going to work. A little nervous to say the least.

Also, I followed up on the pitch I made to the still un-named Comic-Con SVOD channel. Apparently, they haven't reviewed any submissions yet and probably won't start until early next year. So it's still a maybe, which beats an outright no by a mile.

Next week I need to finish a couple of reviews and I'm thinking that might be about all I'll be able to do. In the meantime, I hope everyone has a safe and happy holidays.

Sunday, December 13, 2015

A Week in Writing #68

It's official, the holdays are winning out. My writing this week has been restricted to writing one review for Star Wars (1977), which I published on Saturday. The review has had just under 90 page views as of this writing. Sadly, that's my biggest count since The Picture of Dorian Gray in October. I put that down to the subject matter, which is not surprisingly popular at the moment.

Still,  I'm disappointed that it was all I could squeeze out over the week. Still working on one for The Empire Strikes Back, currently I'm about 2000 words in, but I'm pretty sure that will be all I get to. Since I've given myself a deadline to publish, I have to write it. But there is so much to do and so little time it seems.

Did make some progress on the comic book, but that's been mostly reviewing a few submissions and sending some emails to potential artists.

I don't want to be too hard on myself. Sadly, I'm not a professional writer and I have to make time to write. I have a half-hour window in the morning, if I don't oversleep, and maybe an hour at night. In between I'm either in traffic or at work for about 12 hours a day, so I can do a lot of thinking about stories, but not write on them.

I'm hoping to get more time between the holidays, but until then I'll do what I can and what I have to; which includes this blog.

Sunday, December 6, 2015

A Week in Writing #67

The holidays are starting to click into high gear, post Thanksgiving, which means less time for writing (everything means less time for writing). But you have to stay true to your work, which I've tried to do, tried being the key word.

Did some more rewrites on Public and Private based on feedback from my editor. So far, for the most part, these have been grammatical, but I'm pretty sure that may change as we get further into the book. This is the aspect of rewrites I don't mind, which is trying to make the book and its story better.

Also made some progress on the comic book, as we have begun to receive a sample page, at least from one artist. So far, his effort has been really good. Want to hold off going too far with him until we see if any other artists send one in.

And there is the blog, Trophy Unlocked, which is sort of its own writing challenge this month. I have to review five movies in four weeks. Not sure how the posts are going to work, but I'll either be posting two one week or posting during the week. We've decided (and it's a group decision) to devote December not to Christmas films, as we've done in years prior, but to visions of light sabers as, like everyone else, we get caught up in the hype that is Star Wars. I'm going to be reviewing the "middle" original trilogy and the new film, but we started with Star Wars: Clone Wars, a 2003 animated TV series directed by Genndy Tartakovsky and edited into two "films".

I feel like the rest of week will be filled with Star Wars, as I'm currently working on a review of that film, having recently watched a VHS tape of the original un-enhanced version. So much to write about. I'm only about 1600 words in and have just started to deal with the actual story. Hopefully, the force will be with me and let me complete it sooner than later.

Sunday, November 29, 2015

A Week in Writing #66

Holidays on the road and writing are not a good combination. Spent Thanksgiving with family out of town, so didn't write on Thursday or Friday or Saturday. Can't really write too much while driving, which explains Thanksgiving. Came back Friday, but didn't get back until nearly midnight, so there goes another day. Saturday was recovery. Sometimes writing has to give way to real life family and friends.

When I started writing this blog, I was going with the theme of not getting much done, but I checked my work and I did get a few things done. Finished a 2900+ word review for 3 Men in White (1944), one in the series of Dr. Kildare/Dr. Gillespie films that MGM made. Not a truly great film, but with the likes of Lionel Barrymore, Van Johnson and Ava Gardner, there was definitely some things worth writing about. The length of the review has nothing to do with the quality of the film.

Usually in December, Trophy Unlocked features Christmas movies. I'm thinking this year, we'll be doing something quite different. Like the rest of the world, we're overwhelmed by the prospect of a new Star Wars film and are planning our reviews for the month to fall in line with that event. Starting next week, we'll take a look at Star Wars: Clone Wars, the television series directed by Genny Tartakovsky, Star Wars, The Empire Strikes Back, Return of the Jedi and finally The Force Awakens. That's a lot of writing in my future. Look for them in the coming weeks. If you wear a Santa hat while reading them, then they'll qualify as Christmas movies. Either way, they'll be our gift to you. The middle/original trilogy will be reviewed from original VHS tapes, so they will be un-enhanced. Again, our gift to you.

Also worked on some edits from my editor on Public and Private. Good to get back to it. Made some changes with the promise of more to come. Also did some more writing on my Hollywoodland inspired book. While I don't wish insomnia on anyone, having an idea to work on can be a blessing at times.

Did some more work on the comic book. We got 20 responses to the Facebook post we made a couple of weeks ago. The artists are from all over the world and while we'd prefer to work with someone local, we're open. Of the 20 responses, about 15 were pencilers and/or inkers. We narrorwed down the submissions to a few and have asked for a sample page.

Sunday, November 22, 2015

A Week in Writing #65

It took some pushing, but I finally posted about our search for a comic book artist on a Facebook page dedicated to connecting writers and artists. We asked about pencilers, inkers and colorists and so far I've received about 15 responses, most of them pencilers, which is what we really need to start with. Paul and I still need to sit down and go over the responses. He received some emails, so I don' t know if they're the same or different ones. The prices per page seem to vary between $20 to $100 a page. Since I'm paying for this, I'm going to have to be very cost-conscious. With the holiday next week, I don't think we'll be contacting anyone before next weekend.

Still waiting to hear back from my editor. Not sure what the issue is, but I did follow up to try to find out. In lieu of working on that book or Familiar Stranger, I started working on a new story, inspired by my recent hike up to the Hollywood sign. It really felt good to get back to these characters.

Posted one review on the blog this Saturday, The Immigrant (1917). The choice seems sort of political considering the on-going immigration discussions due to campaigning for the 2016 Presidential election and the post-Paris concerns over Syrian refugees. But the decision was made several weeks ago and any resemblance to issues real or imagined is a coincidence. I had also decided to do silent films in November before I learned that this was also #Noirember per some film bloggers. While I love film noir, it was too late to change directions and besides, it's good to be a little different, isn't it?

Began working on a new future review of 3 Men in White (1944), starring Lionel Barrymore, Van Johnson and with Ava Gardner in one of her first credited roles. About 2400 words into this one. With the holidays a-coming, time is precious and sometimes writing suffers, so I hope to finish this one later this week before Thanksgiving.

Sunday, November 15, 2015

A Week in Writing #64

Still finding it hard to find time to write. I think I'm finally starting to adjust to the time change, but it seems like my commute has gotten longer, so I'm spending more time in the car and getting home later. Things seem to spiral away from there. And there are some nights when I find that I can't get to writing for whatever reason. Hopefully that will change, but life is not always conducive to spending an hour or two at a laptop.

My writing this week has consisted mostly of reviews for the blog. Over the week, I finished  and published about 1000 words on Spectre as well as two future reviews: 1700 words on Hard to Handle (1933) and 2600 words on Our Miss Brooks (1956), the film, not the radio or TV show. The length of the reviews has nothing to do with the quality of the films, just how long it takes to tell the story and any sort of write up about the production or the actors.

In addition to the Spectre review on Thursday, published one for Fatty and Mabel Adrift (1916) on Saturday on Trophy Unlocked. Not my most productive week.

Did hear back on a query. It was one that I had sent out on July 4th, so it was only four months ago. No surprise that it was a rejection form letter.

Still waiting on word from my editor. Trying to be patient.

And no word about my TV show pitch, but I'm pretty sure things don't work that fast. Trying to be patient there as well.

Sunday, November 8, 2015

A Week in Writing #63

I was right that it was hard to write with the time change. Ten at night feels like eleven and when I want to be really cranking, I was having trouble staying awake.

Did update my query list, mostly marking the two remaining queries with No Response. Always disappointing to do that, but I was pretty sure I was never going to hear back from them. Spent some time looking through the new agents on Query Tracker. Thought I'd found a promising one for about five minutes. He represents mysteries, but he doesn't want anything that might offend Christian values in any way (language, sexuality, violence). Sort of goes against everything I write when it comes to mysteries.

Spent my part of my writing time prepping Trophy Unlocked for the coming months, editing and adding photos to the four reviews I plan to post. Decided to stay with silent films and review some comedy shorts. Posted the first on Saturday, A Submarine Pilot (1915). What made this short interesting to me in the first place was that it starred and was directed by Syd Chaplin, Charlie's half-brother.

Pitched a TV show this past week, which was something new for me. Lionsgate, where I work, is launching an as yet unnamed Comic-Con channel and I was in the room with the new head of  original programming development. He asked if anyone knew anyone with any ideas and I had one. After the meeting, I told him my idea and followed that up the next morning with a more formal pitch and treatment. The idea is a reality show with the goal of creating one or more unique comic books and hopefully making some writers' and artists' dreams come true.  He said it was a good idea, but it's too soon to know if it will go anywhere.

Did hear back from my editor, though still no pages to work on yet. Have a couple of reviews I want to write, one for the new Bond film, which I saw this weekend, and another for an old Cagney film we watched on Friday, until there are edits.

Am very anxious to get back to the J.D. Barrister character. Not only the book my editor has and the oft put off Familiar Stranger, but something new. Spent most of Saturday on a long hike up the Canyon Trail up to the Hollywood Sign and exploring the Bronson Caves. Would love to work them into a story.

Sunday, November 1, 2015

A Week in Writing #62

Again this week, it seems like it was hard to find the time to write. It's all a balancing act between work, family and writing. Some weeks are weighed heavier towards one than another.

I've been waiting to hear back from my editor on Past Present. Last weekend, we reconnected via email after several months of silence. Not sure what to make of the radio silence this week, but I try to be patient. We all have our own balancing acts to maintain so hopefully he'll get back to me in due time.

On the copyright front, I found out that the first document we submitted, 19 months ago, has been granted a copyright and we should received the certificate in the next few weeks. Sort of exciting to have a copyright. Not nearly as good as having something published, but definitely makes me feel like we've created something.

Speaking of creating, finally finished the page panel process with the script, though I think there are a few changes I still want to make. I want to put this to bed so I can move on to other writing. I know what I've been writing about for several weeks seems rather simple, but it's that 'ol bugaboo of time. Even relatively simple tasks take time to complete.

Speaking of completing things, the salute to horror films on Trophy Unlocked ended on Halloween with the publication of a review for The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari (1920).

As far as the blog goes, finished my review of Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf? this week. Also wrote a review for the Buster Keaton short, One Week (1920), which was 2700+ words in length.

After publishing reviews for two silent horror films in a row, I thought about continuing with silent cinema into November. I have a few silent film reviews in reserve, but it got me to thinking about the ones I've never reviewed and One Week came to mind. It's the first solo short Keaton released after this partnership with Roscoe "Fatty" Arbuckle ended. I really like it and the memories it bring back of my family discovery of Keaton's work and watching shorts and features for several weeks in a row. I squeezed in the review in between doing some yard work, shopping, Halloween and a football game on TV. It came out to be about 2750+ words in length.

With the time change this weekend, I know it's going to be hard to write as much as I want as my body will still be adjusting for a few weeks. I will report back next week on how things went. That is, of course, if I can find the time.

Sunday, October 25, 2015

A Week in Writing #61

Another week that I feel like I'm floating in place, more than really getting anywhere with my writing.

Finished with the storyboard and now I'm revising the script for Part Two of the comic book's first adventure. I find this part interesting as I'm now forced to make changes that will still tell the story we're trying to tell, but at the same time fit in better with the spacial limitations of a page and panel. Sort of the rubber finally hitting the road, but I'm sure there will more changes when pencil hits paper. This whole process is really dominating my time for writing.

Finally submitted the copyright registration for Part One. Took a couple of tries, actually, but I got it done. My goal this week is to take the next step and begin the process to find an artist.

And finally made contact with my editor. I'm hoping we can get back to the rewrite, but I'm still not sure how things will play out. He's really made me a better writer and I'm anxious to continue that process.

Didn't have a review from last week to finish, but still the blog posted two reviews. One from Paul about Back to the Future Part II published to celebrate the day and time the movie was supposed to take place in. Also published a review for a real, though non-existent movie, London After Midnight (1927). The last known negative of the film burned in a fire years ago at MGM, but the film was sort of put together from production stills and a continuity script. Horror October will conclude next weekend, on Halloween, with a review of The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari, but that link will have to wait until next time.

Sunday, October 18, 2015

A Week in Writing #60

This has been a particularly hard week for writing. There has been a bit of a time crunch, but I'm also sort of in a bit of limbo. I'd like to be further along with so many things and I really only have myself to blame for most, but not all of it.

No new queries and I'm guessing I'm not going to hear anything more back from the previous ones I've sent out. But I don't want to really spend the few hours I have a week on that, at least right now. I don't get the feeling I'm getting anywhere with those.

I would really like to get back to the mystery writing. As I've written before I have some ideas on the rewrite for Familiar Stranger. But I really want to square away the comic book, at least get it to a ready state, before I get back into those rewrites. I'm now drawing the storyboard for Part 2 of the first story. This is really what my writing had gotten down to, finding a few minutes here and there to scrawl out a few crude notions of what is visually going on. When that's done, I still need to sync it up with the script and then I'm going to call it ready for now.

Reached out, over the weekend, to my editor on Public and Private (remember me writing about him?). It's been about five months since we've communicated or rather since I've heard from him. I had planned to wait until the middle of September to try him again and that sort of drifted into the middle of October, but I finally did. Hoping to hear back and get some work done on that manuscript as well.

Still fooling around with copyrights. Again, my fault for dragging my feet. I keep thinking the process will take a long time. It really doesn't or shouldn't. My problem has been when I go to the step of paying, there seems to be a network error and when I go back to my case, as they call it, what I've entered is gone and I have to start over. Frustrating to say the least. Will try that again this week. Want to get that process started before we try to find a new artist.

Did do a bit of writing, for the blog; another future review for How I Won the War (1967). We watched it on Lennon's birthday (10/9), which was last week, but I didn't get a chance to finish the review until this past week.

Posted a new review for Mad Love (1935), as part of Trophy Unlocked's Horror October. Please read it here. Also check out our ever-growing horror review post here. As always, comments are always welcomed.

Sunday, October 11, 2015

A Week in Writing #59

Sometimes when I sit down to write these entries I feel like I didn't have a really productive week.

Spent most of my writing time this past week pulling together the rest of blog entries for Horror October on Trophy Unlocked, including finishing my review for The Cabinet of Dr. Calagari and adding photos for the other posts. Posted the second horror review of the month this one for Creature From the Black Lagoon on Saturday.

I try to post at least one review a week, usually on Saturday mornings. This is after it has been edited by Paul, who has been my editor since I started posting on the site. After posting on Trophy Unlocked, I post something on Facebook and Twitter. After that I post the same review on the TCM Classic Film Union site. Sometimes at seven in the morning on Saturday I seriously wonder what I'm doing and why. But I still enjoy writing them and as long as I do, I plan to keep publishing them.

Spent a good part of the time on what I consider the business-side of writing. While I did do some additional research on potential agents for my book, I didn't get around to actually querying anyone. But I did do some work on the business-side of the comic book. I found a group on Facebook that is designed to link writers and artists together, in a similar way to what is supposed to be accomplished at the Comic Creator Connection at Comic-Con. The idea of the group is that writers looking for artists, which is me, would make a post with a link to at least a sample of the work they need an artist for. The idea is that a conversation would start and hopefully a comic book would result.

I hate to admit this, but I'm a little concerned about presenting my story without some sort of copyright protection. After consulting an expert, I don't name names on the blog without permission, I remembered to check the status of the copyright Paul and I filed for back in March 2014. I had never received any sort of communication and it had been 19 months, so I wrote an email to the copyright office and while they told me it would potentially take 10 business days to get a reply, I did get one in a couple of days.

Turns out they couldn't complete the process because they coudn't open the attachment, which while in an acceptable format, doc.x, couldn't be opened for some reason. Why no one had gotten back to us about this issue in 19 months is beyond me. I sent them the same submission in a .pdf format via email, but still not sure the issue has been resolved.

The copyright office claims it takes up to 8 months to register an IP when submitting electronically, I don't want to sit on the process for that long. More to come on this in the days ahead.

Sunday, October 4, 2015

A Week in Writing #58

Spent the majority of my writing this past week on the storyboard and script for the comic book. Actually did some editing on both as part of the process of syncing them. Now that I have a storyboard and script for Part One, I feel a little like the dog that finally catches the car he's been chasing; I'm not sure what to do next. I know I need to find an artist, but I'm not sure how to go about it. This will be something I'll be working on for the next week or so. I have some avenues to reach out to people, but I'm finding myself to be a little gun shy. I have the comic where Paul and  I want it and now bringing in someone else we lead to change. I'd like to bathe in the enjoyment of accomplishment for a few minutes before being thrown back into the world I know all too well: rejection.

I started the same process on Part Two, but I think I'm going to be moving back to other writing endeavors while we search for an artist. I'd like to get back to the Familiar Stranger rewrite, but I've got a few chores with the blog first. I'd like to ready the posts for October, which means I still have three to post, including one to finish, The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari.

Turned the page on Shakespeare September on Trophy Unlocked and started into the annual look at horror films for Halloween. Started with The Picture of Dorian Gray (1945), which I posted on Saturday. I also made a bit of a blunder and instead of editing the Horror Film Review Hub, I actually reposted it. It felt like a rookie blogger mistake, but I'm going to have to live with it.

Sunday, September 27, 2015

A Week in Writing #57

After a couple of weeks of drawing and redrawing, I finally finished my thumbnail storyboard for the comic book. Still have some work to do on it, but at least that part is over with for the time being. I need to go back and mark them up to show what the crude renderings are supposed to be relating and update the script to show the divide between page and panels. The whole experience has reinforced my respect for artists and how much they do.

As far as actual writing, that is words on paper, I did complete one of the reviews I set out to complete for the blog; The Picture of Dorian Gray. After a month of Shakespeare film reviews, what I called Shakespeare September, I'm moving on to horror films in October. There are five Saturdays, so I'm putting the final touches on the five reviews I plan to post. Still need to complete the one for The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari, which will be the goal for the coming week, while I'm finishing the work on the comic book script/storyboard.

Besides posting the review for Hamlet, I did write 1000 words on A Hard Day's Night for the occasional series, Stubs Goes Blu(-ray), in which I re-examine a favorite film with an enhanced release. A Hard Day's Night had been the first film I wrote about for Trophy Unlocked and I finally watched the Blu-ray release this past Friday, which was also my birthday.

Birthdays are a great time to double down on your priorities and I'm hoping to get back to actual writing pretty soon; you know the whole writing, rewriting, querying and rejection process that has been my writing world for the past few years.

Sunday, September 20, 2015

A Week in Writing #56

Some weeks seem more productive than others. This past one I would place in the less than category. While I worked on the thumbnails for the comic book and did finish a draft, I'm not done. After finishing, I looked at my work and decided I needed to redo most of them.  Not because the art was good or bad (it's bad), but because the spacing doesn't work as well as it should. It's all part of the process and I don't have a problem with that, as much as I just want to be further along.

Spending my time drawing means I'm not actually writing. I did have a sort of breakthrough on Familiar Stranger, the book I had been rewriting last summer. One of the plot points has bothered me for a while and I had a thought that will change that for the better. Once I'm done with my drawing experiment, I will hopefully get back to that.

I haven't sent any new queries and have received no new rejections, so I guess that's a push. I also haven't followed up with my wayward editor. I'd like to say it's about finding the time, but there's a part of me that's just a little afraid to. I don't know why there's been radio silence for so long and I'm a little anxious about finding out that answer.

Published one more review for Shakespeare September on Trophy Unlocked for Othello. Worked on another one for the near future, The Picture of Dorian Gray. Got about 1500 words into it, but I'm not finished. Nor am I finished with The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari, so I need to find the time in the next week to wrap these up, as I'd like to publish both next month for Halloween. There are five Saturdays in October, so I'm planning on five horror films.

So not the most productive week, but I think I'm still working on things. My goals for the week are to complete the redraw for the comic and to hopefully complete one of my October reviews.

Sunday, September 13, 2015

A Week in Writing #55

Set out first thing on Labor Day to query agents I had read about in Writer's Digest that were looking for new writers in my genre. I had identified four potentials, based on the article, but when I got serious about it and started looking them up on their websites I found one of them takes mysteries, but only for Middle Grade. Somehow that wasn't clear to me from the article. The agent is only looking for Historical Romances for adults, so there's one down before we even get started.

Sent three for A Killer Blog. As I'm sending them, I'm anticipating the rejection email or worse the never to be received response. There are a million things working against me or any other writer. I find the query process very stressful. If I ever had self-doubt about my talent, sending off a query letter always reinforces that. I read what the agent is looking for and hope that they'll see this in my writing. So far, they haven't.

Didn't have to wait long to get my first rejection; it came the following afternoon. The good thing is that I have an answer; it's not the answer I want, but it's an answer. No advice, just a couple of websites that he sends to everyone he rejects. Generic advice is probably worse than no advice at all. It doesn't help to know there's something possibly wrong with your story, but I won't tell you what. Here's a haystack, now find that unknown needle.

Spent most of my morning writing time putting together blog posts for the month. Since I decided on a Shakespeare September, I thought I'd go ahead and finish them up. It seemed like the best use of my time, since it's really only about 20 minutes; not enough time to start anything really big. Published the review on Saturday for The Merchant of Venice (2004), starring Al Pacino, Jeremy Irons and Lynn Collins.

My comment about readership may have been a little premature. The page views for the week ended up at about 30, which I'm afraid to say is about average. But remember you don't do a blog to have people read it, at least that's been my experience; you do it because you want to. Over at TCM's CFU, Romeo and Juliet have gotten almost 100 page views, which is also normal and pretty good for that blog site I might add.

I did start working on a review for The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari for October. It's a film I had seen back in film school, so when I had a chance to see it again, I thought it would be a good choice for what has become for me horror film month on the blog. This is one of the most written about films, so I'm trying to do some research as I go. Only about 1000 words into it.

This weekend, I did write about 2000 words on The Mouse That Roared (1959); a British comedy starring Peter Sellers in three roles. It will be another future post. I was in an English film frame of mind, so I made the suggestion for our Friday night film.

As far as the comic book goes, I did make some progress on the thumbnail storyboards. I was getting to what would be page 12 of the book and realized I was trying so hard to squeeze and cut so much that I had more pages to draw than I would end up with script. I've gone back to the drawing board, so to speak, trying to space things out better. I figured it would be a trial and error experience for me, so I'm going to keep working on that this coming week.

Sunday, September 6, 2015

A Week in Writing #54

Finished what I consider the rewrite for story #3 for the comic book and am awaiting edits from my co-writer.

After that, I launched into story-boarding the first issue. Two things I've discovered: 1) My drawing skills for something like this are meager at best. I have ideas in my head, but getting them down on paper is difficult. Characters sort of look alike and I'm hoping copious notes will help decipher the mess I'm putting down. 2) What I've written is wordy. This is a really good exercise in what really needs to be in the story. Some of the subtleties may have to go to the wayside, or else this will be longer than a normal issue.

My plan is to draw it out, as best I can, discuss with Paul and then edit the script and storyboard to match each other. Probably take a week or so to make my crude drawings and will probably take that much time again to redo them. Hard to get to 1000 words, even if a picture is supposed to be worth that many. Somehow I think thumbnails and especially mine, don't count for as much. My goal is to be ready for the next Koffee and Komics social, but it's all about the process of making it better.

Did publish one review from the archives:, Romeo and Juliet (1968). Decided to make this Shakespeare September and publish the reviews I wrote in the spring. So far, I must say, they have not been real winners when it comes to pageviews; 18 on Trophy Unlocked and 33 on TCM's Classic Film Union as of this writing. Usually, the numbers are a little higher. Maybe Shakespeare is too much like school. We'll see as I've got three more to go: Hamlet (1948), Othello (1995), and The Merchant of Venice (2004).

Also wrote another review this weekend, 2000 words about Monkey Business (1931). Last week it was Monkey Business (1952), if you'll recall. Not sure when either will appear. October is usually taken up with horror films and December is Christmas/holiday films.

Haven't yet sent any queries, but I have an extra day this weekend, so I'm hoping to get some out on Monday. Will, of course, report on that process and the rejections that always seem to follow. It's the part of writing I like the least, but maybe if I didn't get rejections or no responses, I'd like it more.

Sunday, August 30, 2015

A Week in Writing #53

I haven't spent a lot of time lately on queries for my unpublished/unrepresented novels, but the last three queries I had out have sort of expired with no response from any of the agents. So my total from the 4th of July queryfest is 4 outright rejections and 4 no responses. I could hold out hope that the four no response agents might be behind on their queries, but chances are they only respond if they're interested. Anyways, best to move on. Planning to send out more over Labor Day.

I've been spending most of my time working on the comic book. Am disappointed in myself for what happened last Thursday. We were supposed to attend a coffee session with comic creators, but the person who told me about the session and was going to be our envoy in flaked out. I'm mad at myself for letting myself get sucked in by someone who says they're going to help me, because usually they don't. I actually had enough experience with him to know this was a real possibility. I even told my wife after I had printed out a couple of copies of the script and about ten one-sheets about the project that he would cancel on me. Not only that, he didn't even remember making the plans in the first place.

And I'm a little mad at myself for not going without him, but I wasn't psyched up for going in unknown into the situation. Next time I'm (we're) just going to go without him and see what happens.

Attended a retrospective of the work of Jack Kirby at CSUN on Saturday. This guy was prolific as an artist, writer and editor. It gave me some ideas about our own comic book, but more how to proceed before we seek an artist. We need to storyboard the story out before we go looking. I've done some of this before, so I'm not too concerned, but it will be a test for how well the comic book lays out at least story-wise to length. I'm really determined to be as ready as we can be before we put our necks out there again. I'm tired of them being cut off.

Working on the third story, making edits to see how it fits with the first story, since we did such a big rewrite on that one. I'm liking how some of the things work out, even if sometimes it's by accident or circumstance that they do. I hope to be done with this rewrite this week and want to complete it before going into storyboard mode on the first one.

Published a review of The Whole Town's Talking (1935) on Saturday and wrote a future review, a little under 3000 words, on Monkey Business (1952) over the weekend.

So, this officially wraps up my first year of writing this blog. I feel like I've done a lot, but haven't gotten any results yet. But I keep telling myself I've got to keep on. And so I shall.

Comments are always welcome and you can follow me on twitter @lionsroar91406.

Sunday, August 23, 2015

A Week In Writing #52

I guess this is a milestone of sorts. This coming week marks the one year anniversary of when I started this blog. Over the past year, I've kept track of my progress from unpublished writer to, well, still unpublished writer. Not that I expected to have changed, but I guess I was hoping to be a little further along. But maybe that's why they call it a dream.

This past week has been spent mostly on the comic book; doing rewrites on the first and second stories. I think it's coming together. We had a reading of parts one and two trying to make smart edits to make the dialogue to sound more realistic and to trim where we could. Finished a rewrite of the second story, which had grown to three parts.

Published one review this past weekend, Alfred Hitchcock's The 39 Steps (1935) and wrote another one for future use, Destination Murder (1950).

I'll be spending my anniversary week working on the comic book. Going to a comic creator's coffee later this week, hoping to meet some artists and kick this can a little further down the road. I also have made edits of my own on my second story rewrite, so I'll be making those updates before having anyone else read it. It's all part of the process.

Am I disappointed I'm not further along? I'll admit to a little, but I knew this was going to be a long slog when I started. So far, it hasn't disappointed me on that front.

Sunday, August 16, 2015

A Week in Writing #51

Most of my writing time this week was spent on rewrites for the comic book. Had a sit down to discuss the rewrite on Thursday and most of the feedback was positive. Feeling better about things after losing our artist. We're planning to do a read through on Tuesday with my entire family participating and then hopefully we'll be ready to look for an artist again real soon.

I'm trying to write in the mornings, about 6 am until 6:30, but it seems that I just get started and it's time to get ready for work. Still, I do make some progress. The downside is that I have to leave things for 12 hours or more before I can get back to them. Gotten so I leave myself notes about what my 6:30 am self was thinking so my 9:00 pm self will be prompted.

Got the new issue of Writer's Digest this week, the one with "38 Agents Seeking New Writers NOW! on the cover. In going through the listing, I've come across several that I had previously queried; 3 who did not reply to me (one from the 4th of July batch) and four others that rejected my submissions outright, some going back a couple of years. Still found five that I've added to my list (yes I have a list, too) of possible agents to query.

I need to get back to the business of querying. My last foray was a bit of a bust, though there are a couple still pending, but experience tells me I won't hear anything back from them. I wonder if agents know how disheartening that is for a writer.

And speaking of disheartening; still no word from my editor. I'm going to write him off as lost at sea until the middle of September. It's too aggravating to write, text and call him and be ignored. I'm not sure what the problem is, but I'm still willing and wanting to work with him, but it's up to him. Sadly, it puts off getting a third and quite possibly better book out there to query until later this year or early next, depending if I ever hear from him again and what comments he might have for me.

Published two reviews this weekend on Trophy Unlocked: one for Max Reinhardt's Midsummer Night's Dream (1935), one of the Shakespeare films finally seeing the light of day on the blog. The other was the new Fantastic Four, which sucked by comparison to even the 2005 film, which was pretty bad on its own.

This coming week, I hope to finish rewrites on the first and second adventures of the comic book. Not lofty goals, but I've learned it's better to keep things moving rather than overextend and get nothing done.

Sunday, August 9, 2015

A Week in Writing #50

This has not been the best week I've had since I started this blog, one full of rejections of one form or another. Of course, there was another email from one of the July 4th queries. I didn't really have to read it to know it was a rejection."Doesn’t sound quite right for my list"; there's that magic word again. Didn't make the list again.

But the biggest rejection was still to come. If you've been reading this blog for the last couple of weeks (and there are a handful that have been), you know that my son, Paul, and I attended our fourth Comic Creator Connection at this year's San Diego Comic-Con and had thought we'd found an artist to bring our comic book to life. We had begun to do rewrites on the script and while it wasn't finished, we were feeling pretty good about the direction things were going in. The artist's suggestions had gotten our creative juices flowing and we think the story was improving. And there in lies the mistake: We were feeling pretty good.

Last week, we had sent our latest rewrite to our artist, but we had not heard back. While he had usually been responsive, we didn't hear anything from him for a week. Our follow up email was responded to at about 11 on Wednesday night. Due to "new professional obligations", he was out. Gone from the project. Honestly, it felt like a punch to the stomach, and led to a sleepless night. Nothing like being dumped back at square one to give you doubts.

But we have vowed to finish the rewrite, turning to a friend/teacher with experience in the comic book industry, to give the script a look and make suggestions. When we have it the way we want it to be, then we'll go out and find an artist.

Nothing like a dose of rejection reality to throw you off your game. I don't really feel like I ever got into a rhythm this week. I was working on a rewrite of the second story for the comic, but after losing the artist, it felt like I was doing it for no reason. The wind was taken from my sails, at least temporarily.

Still managed to post a review on Trophy Unlocked for the movie Office Space (1999) and wrote and published a review for Mission: Impossible - Rogue Nation, so it was not a total loss.

On the still missing editor, I decided not to follow up, since I feared the same rejection I had gotten from the artist. I'm hoping that since he made a commitment over a year ago that he will come back around. I really do value his insight and suggestions and I think together we've made the book stronger. I just want to get it finished and throw it out there into the query world. Who knows, maybe this will be the one that lands me on some agent's line.

Sunday, August 2, 2015

A Week in Writing #49

I've been working so much on the comic book and trying to locate my wayward editor, that I hadn't done much thinking about queries. But I did finally hear back from one more agent from the 4th of July emails. Even before reading it, I knew it would be a rejection. This one was solely based on the query letter, not a writing sample. For some reason those don't sting quite as much as ones where I've sent a sample. The more you send, the harder the rejection is to take.

This one had that word "list" in it, as in "the project you describe does not suit our list at this time." Oh, someday to make the all powerful magic "list". Such are my goals in life.

I also love that all agents don't want you to ever contact them except through the query process, unless of course, they want to talk to you. But at the end of most of their emails is all their contact information. Does that make any sense? Would you turn someone down, reject their life's work, and then give them every means of contacting you about that rejection when you don't want them to contact you? And he included his Twitter handle to boot. Would I really want to follow this guy on Twitter after he rejected me?

Five queries to go. Will I  hear back from any of them? Will anyone want more of a writing sample? Will I make their "list"? I will, of course, let everyone know when and if I do.

Back to the comic book, we sent off a rewrite on Wednesday, but haven't heard back. In the meantime, I've been going back through the second story to see if the changes we made to the first story will effect it.

For some reason, I haven't been into rewriting Familiar Stranger. Maybe it's the sense that something might be happening with the comic book that has made me more interested in working on that than something that doesn't seem to be going anywhere. I want to get back to it, but at the moment, I don't know where that is going.

I reached out, calling and PM-ing my editor when I saw that he was on Facebook, but no response. Not sure what to make of that. I've tried to be patient, but it seems like I'm being blown off and I don't understand why. Maybe he's just really busy, but a text takes only a few seconds and I think he's probably had that time in the past month or so. So I don't know what gives.

Last week, I wrote that I was going to end the Summer of Darkness with Roadblock, but I changed my mind in the meantime, deciding to save Roadblock for Christmas, for reasons I hope will be obvious then. I did publish a review for The Window on Trophy Unlocked. I started but didn't quite complete one for Criss Cross (1949). I'll finish that this week and save it back for some future time.

Didn't feel like I got in as much writing this week as I would have liked. One night was my wedding anniversary and the next night, my brother came into town, so I had dinner with him and met him for drinks the following night as well. And over the weekend, we ran errands most of the day Saturday and had other plans on Sunday. Sometimes you have to make choices, so while I wrote every day, I didn't have the time to get as much done as I would have liked.

I keep thinking the important thing is to keep the ball moving forward. Hopefully, someday it will pay off.

Sunday, July 26, 2015

A Week in Writing #48

Spent most of this week in comic book rewrite mode. The artist we're working with has a lot of really good ideas and we're trying to use them, but still retain the story we want to tell. He's been very responsive so far and his feedback has been very beneficial.

Which is the opposite of what's been going on with my editor on Personal and Professional. I'm officially putting out an APB on him. I've tried every means of communication with him short of a telegram and he's not responded. If being on Facebook is any indication, he's still alive, but a writer worries when their editor goes silent.

I really think it's important to have an open line of communication. I try very hard not to be too pushy, but a text in response doesn't take all that long. I really hate waiting, but I really don't like being ignored. But I try to understand that he's got his own life and issues and try not to take it too personally, but it's still worrisome. I already have enough self-doubt going as it is.

Besides writing the comic book, I've been writing reviews for the blog. I published two on Saturday, one for The Hitch-Hiker (1953) and another one later in the day for Sharknado 3. I wrote two future reviews for use later, both film noirs: Roadblock (1951), which I think will be my last Summer of Darkness entry this year, and another for The Window (1949) for a later date. We've been Tivo-ing a lot of the film noirs and I'd hate to miss out on the chance to write about many of them. It's just about my favorite genre.

Tried a little experiment with the Sharknado 3 review. Rather than post about it on Facebook and Twitter, I only wrote about it on Twitter @lionsroar91406. The pageviews were lower, but not bad: 23 v. the 31 for The Hitch-Hiker as of this post.

No new queries or rejections this week. I've only heard back from two of the agents I queried over the 4th. I like to think of it as no response is still a maybe which is half as good as yes, but still twice as good as no. (My apologies to the writers of Just Shoot Me.)

Sunday, July 19, 2015

A Week in Writing #47

Well the glow of Comic-Con didn't last long. Got my first rejection late on Monday night from an artist we'd met at the Comic Creator Connection. While they weren't our first choice, I thought we had developed some rapport with them, since Paul and I were seated in front of them prior to the start of the event and spent much longer than the allotted five minutes getting to know them. Apparently, they got a job offer from someone else, so it's not so much that they rejected us or our project, but it still felt a little personal. Never did speed dating, but it's sort of like waiting until you get home to call someone you met only to find they've gotten married in the meantime.

But the rejection made us more determined not to let too much grass grow beneath us. We reached out to our first choice again, as a follow up to Thursday's event and I'm happy to say we're working with them on character studies and a what we're calling a "proof of concept" comic book. Not sure where this will end, but it feels good to be moving forward.

Our artist, and I won't name names at this point, read our script and offered some very constructive ideas on how we could make it better. As a writer, I'm all about trying to make things better so spent most of the week rewriting the first script, tightening things up. The suggestions started Paul and I thinking more about an over-arching story, a backstory that we can reveal bits and pieces of over time. I felt really invigorated by our artist's suggestions and by Paul and me brainstorming about how to improve the story. I think the rewrite is much better than the original and I'm anxious to get our artist's comments about the new version.

Still waiting to hear from my editor on Public and Private. Three more weeks have passed without any edits or comments. We've been working on this since last September and despite appearances to the contrary, I'm not really a patient person. I hate waiting, whether it's a couple of hours in line at Comic-Con (these references will subside I promise), or a couple of weeks to hear back from an agent or in this case my editor. Time's a-wasting and I want to get on with things. Tried messaging, but got no response. I'll email him next week, but not sure what the hold up is and not happy about it either.

Published a review on Trophy Unlocked: Hollow Triumph (1948). Last week's review of The Threat got tweeted about by the Warner Archive, so pageviews nearly doubled as a result. Wrote one for next week, The Hitch-Hiker, and one for Ant-Man.

I'm anxious to get to what I hope is the next stage in my life. I want to write, but I'd like to break my amateur status at the craft. I want to try to do something everyday to make that happen. I think this week will be full of using writing time for mostly business-side things, like follow ups. It may seem simple, but a well-thought out email can take longer than you'd think to write and rewrite before you send it. This isn't a "meet you for lunch" type of email, but one in which you're putting yourself out there and hoping the receiver isn't going to reject or, even worse, ignore you.

Sunday, July 12, 2015

A Week in Writing #46 - Report From the Front - Comic-Con 2015

I knew going into this week that it would be a short one because of Comic-Con. But not short enough to stop the rejections. Got one back from the eight I sent out on the 4th. Must have been the first thing the agent did that morning. Better to hear something than nothing, but a rejection is not a fun way to start the week. Seven still to go.

No time to fret, there are other more pressing things to worry about, like Comic-Con. If you've never been, Comic-Con is sort of like Christmas, but only for about 180,000 people. If you're an adult, you know that Christmas is not so much that magical time when Santa brings gifts made by elves, but requires a lot of planning and prep. Comic-Con is like that. There are hurdles every step of the way. And everything for the regular con attendee is a lottery, a game of chance.

The most important thing you have to remember about Comic-Con is that everything about it says "no", but you have to keep saying "yes". It's like the organizers try to make it nearly impossible to attend by setting up obstacles all along the way. But you have to be more determined to go than they are to keeping you from attending.

It starts with getting the tickets. The best way to get tickets is to have attended the previous year's convention and even then it's a crap shoot. The fact that tickets go on sale all at once means that buying tickets is like everyone trying to go through the same doorway shoulder to shoulder. Some of us get through, but some don't. And some get the days they're looking for and others don't.

For some reason, Comic-Con has never heard of a family of four, so you have to be lucky twice to get everyone tickets.

So you're lucky enough to have tickets, now you'll need a place to stay. Now there are some people who seem to camp out every night, but those are hardcore crazies (my apologies if you're one of them). This is my vacation and if I want to camp out it won't be on the cement in front of the San Diego Convention Center. Hotels are another lottery.

And then there is parking; and you guessed it, another lottery. While there are alternatives to parking the car, San Diego has a train that stops in front of the convention center, there are reasons against this. We took the tram the first few times we came and maybe it's just us, but we found the train ride to be an excitement killer. Something about not being in control and all those stops. Better to park and walk. Last year, we managed to get parking for three days at the Convention Center. With the lottery system Ace Parking used, we ended up parking three of four days at the MTS garage across the tracks and much further away.

Now, my writing reason for coming to Comic-Con is to look for an artist for our comic book, PowerSquared. This is our third time to attend what is called the Comic Creator Connection at Comic-Con. The first time, we actually found an artist,  but that relationship fizzled after several false starts and we finally had to let her go. Last year, the selection of artists was really slim. There were only one or two who seemed serious and even though we thought we found someone, she never responded to our emails. What is she, an agent?

As a writer going in you are at a disadvantage; there are a lot of writers. Everyone with a laptop thinks they can write, but there are relatively fewer artists. This, one assumes, takes more talent and patience. I know that what we can write in a week or two and be satisfied with can take much longer to draw, ink and color. If I could do these things myself, it would make things a lot easier. I would, but that is not where my talents lie. There are X number of artists in the room, and twice the number of writers. The two hour session is sort of like speed dating; you get three minutes to make your pitch, see their work and exchange information. The writer has three minutes on and three minutes off.

Paul and I are a bit unusual, as there are two of us. If you've ever heard that writing is a lonely profession, then this is your proof. We have usually been the only pair of writers at the CCC. I like having a partner in this and it really helps to have someone else with you for the moral support. A pitch is sort of like a query, in that you're laying your writing talent out in front of someone else so they can judge you.

I hate being behind someone that runs over their time, since they're eating into mine. I try to be quick and to the point about it and move on as quickly as possible. Last year, the writer in front of us didn't seem to understand what the word "Time" meant and would continue to blather on, even as we were sliding into their chair. This year it was much the same thing, the other writer pair in the room consistently ran late; fifteen seconds is a lot of time when you only have five minutes.

The trick is to pitch enough of the story to pique their interest, but not enough that they could go home and write it themselves.

The CCC session went pretty well, considering that Thursday is usually one of the hardest days at the Con. We get up about 4:30 am to get there early and the Comic Creator Connection doesn't start until 7 at night. By that time we've walked about 10 miles and have been on our feet most of the day. After a short night and a lot of exertion, it's time to turn on the charm and try to sell ourselves and our story to about 10 artists. We had five minutes to get to know each other, swap bios and pitch. And then because there were twice as many artists as writers, we had five minutes off between most artists. Time ran out before we could speak to one artist.

Mostly, the reaction was positive. People seemed to like the general story idea and the twist. We usually get a good response, though that doesn't always end up with a collaborator.

From the point of view of a writer looking for an artist, this was a really good crop of would-be collaborators. I won't name names on the blog without permission, but there were some really good artists there that we, Paul and I, would love to work with.

The thing I like best about the CCC experience is that for those two hours I get to be the writer I want to be; the occupation on the business card I was handing out. The person on the other side of the table takes us seriously, which is not always true. The other people in the room have the same dream, but whether or not we'll have a shared-dream remains to be seen.

The CCC is moderated by Doug Neff, author of Epic Win!, and his last instruction was to email three possible collaborators before we went to bed that night, which we did. Again, hard to write at the end of a long day, but I did. Not surprisingly, have not heard back from anyone, but my guess, most people don't send the emails and are probably too busy with Comic-Con, etc. to send the email. Let's hope anyway. I'll follow up next week with everyone and we'll see what shakes out. Hopefully, I can write about us finding an artist.

Managed, albeit late, to post a new review on Trophy Unlocked while at Comic-Con for The Threat (1949). I honestly forgot it was Saturday until we were in line at the Con. By then, it was too late, but I did post when we got back to that hotel room after dinner. Better late than never. I like to treat the blog like a real deadline and I post a review every Saturday.

The week ended with, what else, another rejection from my fourth of July queries. What a way to finish the week and a reminder about how fleeting the good feeling can be.

Sunday, July 5, 2015

A Week in Writing #45

I finally got a hold of my editor. No car trouble on his part, but computer issues. Nice to know that he's still alive after a month. No edits yet, but hopefully soon. I had hoped I'd get something over the holiday weekend, but so far no word.

In the meantime, I continued work on rewriting Familiar Stranger. Got a couple of thousand words in, but got derailed a little bit. Last worked on it at about 6:30 in the morning on Thursday, but I must admit I let being off work on Friday slow me down after that as the weekend started one day sooner than normal.

I spent some of that time prepping reviews for the blog, including getting one ready to post while away at Comic-Con. I also managed to write a couple of reviews, including a future one for The Threat (1949), another film noir from the Summer of Darkness. Published two, including They Won't Believe Me (1947) and the other for Terminator: Genisys (2015).

Started work on another late night comic script. I like the concept, but at about a handwritten page a night, it'll take some time to get it all done. Not trying to complete it before Comic-Con and probably won't. Speaking of which, Comic-Con will put a temporary end to any writing. I know from experience that there is no time and after twelve hours on my feet, I won't have the stamina to get anything done.

I did send out some queries over the weekend. I had thought I'd send ten, but I stopped after eight. I find that I really hate the process. I always feel that I'm putting myself on the line, that I'm being judged on every word and that any mistake will be the excuse for an agent to say no. Sent out four for A Killer Blog and four for Past Present. I really want to get Public and Private done so I can start querying something new. You know I don't get enough rejections with only two books.

Sunday, June 28, 2015

A Week in Writing #44

I believe it was John Lennon who wrote that life is what happens when you're busy making other plans. I was all prepared and had even written this blog because I was expecting an abbreviated week. The plan was to be on the road Friday, Saturday and Sunday. But we had car troubles and had to limp home on Friday afternoon; that's life as they say.

Disappointed about having our plans fall through, I took advantage of the gift of time and wrote two reviews, one for They Won't Believe Me (1947), about 2300 words, and another for Hollow Triumph (1947), also about 2300 words. These will hopefully appear in the next few weeks.

Did post two reviews, Inside Out (2015) and Danger Signal (1945), the latter from the TCM Summer of Darkness. I'm going to have to hustle next week to get another Film Noir review in. Travelling is also knocking a hole in watching movies.

In prep for what I hope is query weekend over the 4th, I checked to see if there were any new agents on QueryTracker and found a lot of Australian activity, which is good for the site, but does me no good. Even Canadian agents are reticent about taking on non-Canadians. In the month or so since I've looked, there hasn't been much activity.

I also checked Chuck Sambuchino’s Guide to Literary Agents Blog, where the editor at Writer's Digest regularly interviews new Agents. What does it say that I've already been rejected out right by two of the agents he's showing as new? One of them from earlier in June rejected me last year.

Did finish another draft of the next comic book adventure for PowerSquared, which I think is the 11th story arc. Only missing an artist to bring it to life. Paul had some pretty good ideas on what was lacking in the first go-round. Really improved it, I believe.

Also worked on the next hand out for the Comic Creator Connection. We're attending Thursday night's meet up. Hoping the fourth time's the charm as far as meeting someone. You're supposed to have something to hand out and exchange with the artists. Sadly, many of the artists don't come as prepared as they should. I think last time they were pulling them off the floor, since several didn't have art samples or handouts. You never know what you'll get from year to year. But I will write about that adventure after Comic Con. My annual Report from the Front will be here, though I don't think they will be as elaborate as in the past.

Next week, I'm planning to get back to Familiar Stranger unless I hear from my editor on Public and Private. It's been a little over a month since I sent him the manuscript a second time. I'm sure he's busy with his own life, maybe he had car trouble. I mean, it does happen.

Sunday, June 21, 2015

A Week in Writing #43

This week was harder than most to find the time to write. I've gotten so I try to write for about a half hour in the morning before getting ready for work and about an hour or so in the evening. Sometimes, if inspired, I'll make notes about a story or write on one before going to bed, as was the case with the comic book, but that's really an exception.

It's the evening session that I would prefer to do as early as possible, since it can easily slip to ten at night and then it's sort of sleeping at the laptop most nights. This past week, an outside project had delayed me getting home and the evening session had slipped to late night, which is sadly never all that productive.

Did manage though to write the two reviews I had said I would work on, though Danger Signal had slipped to Saturday morning. I did type up most of the comic book script during the week, but I didn't finish that until Sunday morning. There'll be a few rounds of rewrites, but it's nice to get the first draft done.

Published one review for Nora Prentiss on Saturday, which is the day I try to publish. I realize many blogs post something daily, but I don't write fast enough to pull that off, nor do I want to just make a post for the sake of making a post.

Was able to sign up for the Comic Creator Connection at this year's Comic Con. I get nervous about such things, so it's good to have it squared away. This will be my fourth CCC, so I'm a little apprehensive as well as excited at the opportunity.

Next week will be a short one for me, writing wise. Have an out of town event to attend to, so I'm basically losing Friday, Saturday and a good chunk of Sunday. In two weeks, with Comic Con, I'll lose five. I still plan to post, but it'll be harder those weeks.

Sunday, June 14, 2015

A Week in Writing #42

Shocked to actually get a reply from the agent who turned me down after a year. She didn't change her mind and what she wrote wasn't really all that helpful, but I do appreciate her writing back. It seemed like the decent thing to do on her part. Sad that we have to appreciate people doing the decent thing, but I've come to expect far less.

Only one query still pending and I'm not expecting much. A reply of some sort would be nice, but again that would be the decent thing for her to do.

Someone I haven't heard from in quite awhile is my editor. We're coming up on two months since I first sent me the last draft of Public and Private. I know he's busy with his own things and I think he's good, but I really hate waiting. As Tom Petty once wrote, "The waiting is the hardest part."

If I had to pick one thing I hate most about writing that would be it; the waiting to get someone to read your stuff. Be it an editor or an agent or a friend or relative waiting sucks. It's a real time commitment to read someone's work. I know I don't have a lot of time to read someone else's work. It takes away from my own writing time or my downtime with family. Someone, unsolicited, sent me three chapters they want me to read. I told her it would take time to get to it, but I'm sure she'll be asking me about every time we talk.

Spent most of my writing time this week working on Familiar Stranger and the comic book script for PowerSquared. Finally finished my handwritten journal for the latter and now I'm typing it up, making changes as I go. It's hard to read my own writing from when I'm fully awake, but it's quite another thing to read my handwriting on the verge of going to sleep. The scrawl only gets worse. Today I stared long and hard at a set of characters before I could decipher what I was writing.

Published two reviews this weekend, one for Over-Exposed (1956) and the other for Jurassic World (2015). Started working on two others, which I'll probably spend a good chunk of time on next week. One is Jurassic Park (1993) and the other is Danger Signal (1945). The latter is because I want to up my film noir reviews as part of the salute to TCM's Summer of Darkness. I'm not watching everything, but so far, I have to say I'm a bit disappointed in what I have. Good film noir is the best, but that's not what I've been seeing, not at least so far.

I think between those two reviews and the comic book script, my time will be quite full. I'll let everyone know how it went in next week's blog.

Sunday, June 7, 2015

A Week in Writing #41

Finally heard back from the agent who I queried 408 days ago and who has had my manuscript for 9 months. Not surprisingly, it was a rejection. Disappointingly, really no helpful insight into what would make it better. I guess I was hoping for more, considering how long she'd had it, but agents have taught me to aim low with expectations of help.

Got a second rejection on the same day. This agent only had the first three chapters for about a month and a half. No joy in quick rejections over long drawn out ones. I'm starting to think of queries like Schrodinger's cat. You don't know if they're accepted or rejected until you finally hear back, but like a cat in a box, they're probably dead on arrival.

Since I'm not hearing back from my editor, I've been working on Familiar Stranger, trying to edit a chapter a day. Starting in the morning, I try to get in some before work and then it's later at night before I get to it again. Getting closer to the part where I'll actually be rewriting more and simply editing less.

Once I go to bed, I've been writing out by hand the next script for PowerSquared. It seems like a good time to squeeze in the work and not take away from my main writing focus.  I think it's coming along nicely, but I have no idea how long it'll be.

Speaking of writing in bed, I was coming down to the end of two blank journals I've been working on; one by the bedside and one in my work briefcase. Trying to find the same to replace them was way harder than I thought. I've been using ones from Cedco Publishing ones, that lie flat. Well, those aren't made anymore and the prices for the remaining stock are ridiculously high. Had to go with another brand.

In anticipation of the Comic Creator Connection, I actually had business cards printed showing me as a writer. In his book Epic Win!, Douglas Neff recommends doing this as part of making yourself feel like you're a writer. I've been meaning to it for some time, but with Comic Con coming, I felt a need. Still waiting for notification of the CCC at the SDCC BTW.

Published a Film Noir Review Hub on Trophy Unlocked to celebrate TCM bringing back the Summer of Darkness. Also published a review of Pitfall, which I believe TCM will be showing later. Wrote about 2500 words for future publication of a review of  Nora Prentiss, the film they chose to launch the prime time part of the schedule. As a lover of film noir, I'm really looking forward to widening my exposure through this festival.

Well, as you can see, no time set aside again for queries. I'm hoping to get to those over the 4th of July holiday when I'll have some time off work. In the meantime, I'm going to keep writing.

Sunday, May 31, 2015

A Week in Writing #40

Finally heard from my editor on Public and Private after about a month. He's also a musician who is on tour and had my manuscript on his phone, which got destroyed. Resent the book. Glad I wasn't waiting on him to have something to do.

Did something I've never done before; sent a tweet to the agent who has had my A Killer Blog manuscript since last September. Either she is the slowest reader or the rudest person not to have gotten back to me since December. I hope it's the former. But she's really active on twitter, so I'd thought I'd try nudging in 124 characters. Not sure how well that will be received, but I will, of course, let you know. (Update: Sent on Tuesday morning, but no response by Sunday p.m. Not sure what will get through. Oh to have a carrier pigeon.)

Spent my writing time working on Familiar Stranger rewrites. Almost to the half way point 46,686 of 95,343 words. I'm trying to work on it whenever I have a chance. Trying to work on it in the morning before I go to work and for about an hour at night. Making good progress, at least I think I am. Hoping in another month I'll be done. But of course, life is what happens while you're making other plans.

Getting closer to Comic-Con. Looking forward to it with wonder and dread. Still waiting for the announcement about the Comic Creator Connection. Really want to find someone to draw PowerSquared this time.

Posted a review of Laura  on Trophy Unlocked in honor of  the upcoming Summer of Darkness on TCM. Spent Saturday and Sunday working on a future post for The Magnificent Seven (1960); 3000+ words. Not sure when I'm going to post it, but I didn't want to waste such a good Western.

Other than tweeting the agent this week, no new queries or rejections. That's part of the business I can never seem to find the time to do. I sometimes think it's making the choice to write or to query. There always seems to be something I regret every week in writing.

Sunday, May 24, 2015

A Week in Writing #39

I keep having nights where I can't sleep. I hate to say it one of the recurring thoughts is that writing is never going to happen for me. I try to put those thoughts out of my head and if I really can't sleep, get up and write. There is always hell to pay the next day, though.

This week when I couldn't sleep, I also updated my query log. Two more moved from the lush green of query and potential to the pale yellow of no response. Red is reserved for out and out rejections. Green is hope and red is despair. Yellow is sort of middle ground. I don't remember a yellow turning green again, but there is always hope, I guess. Decided to give an agent's request for a partial 3 months to respond instead of the 4 to 6 weeks his assistant indicated in her email. It's only three chapters, but that way I can keep hope alive. I like that.

Most of my writing time this week was spent on Familiar Stranger, trying to plug away at a final rewrite before moving on. There are other ideas I want to work on, but I feel like I have to get this finished before I can.

Still marveling at the response to my blog post two weeks back about Blackboard Jungle. It's had the most pageviews of anything on Trophy Unlocked this year and when I add in the TCM CFU views, it's over 1000, which is more than I'm used to. I still don't know if it's the movie, or something I've done to promote it. There are no comments at either place to give me any sort of hint.

Published three posts this week, a Celebration of the 600th post on Trophy Unlocked, which was Avengers: Age of Ultron; a review of Cause for Alarm! to celebrate TCM's upcoming Summer of Darkness; and a review of Tomorrowland, which opened this past weekend.

I always wish I could write more, but there are so many sleepless hours in a day.

Sunday, May 17, 2015

A Week in Writing #38

The problem about being a writer is that all too often you make progress, but no one else knows you've done it. For me, I think I had a pretty good week, if you don't count two more queries going unanswered. I spent most of my time working on the rewrites of Familiar Stranger, one of the many projects I do that, at least so far, have gone virtually unnoticed by the outside world. I did about as many pages I had the previous week and I'm a little over a fifth of the way through the book.

No new queries sent and once again no word from the agent with the manuscript. At this point, I'm taking it as a "maybe" rather than an out and out "no", but still I'd really like closure one way or the other. It has been over a year and I hate to think I've been stringing myself along or that after requesting the complete manuscript and several nudges she wouldn't have the decency to respond. I guess I still expect the best out of people.

As far as blogging goes, this was one of my best weeks yet. Last Saturday I published a review of Blackboard Jungle and have gotten 126 pageviews so far, which for one week for me is a record of sorts. (It's also gotten 276 views on the TCM CFU site, which is also pretty high for a week.) Not sure if Blackboard Jungle hit a nerve, or I had a really good tweet, or what? Published a new one: Avengers: Age of Ultron, which was timed to be the 600th review on the blog.

Since Age of Ultron wasn't really appropriate for TCM, I posted a review there that I hadn't before, Out of the Past, which I reviewed back in 2012 before I started publishing on the CFU. In about a day I've gotten 41 views and a complimentary comment. Not bad if you ask me.

Even this past week's post on this blog got 8 pageviews, which is just enough to make me think someone is actually reading these posts. When I've counted pageviews on one hand most of the time, 8 is a very satisfying number. Thank you.

Wrote one new review, for the Blu-Ray version of Out of the Past, which I'm planning to run soon. TCM is finally getting back to the Summer of Darkness and I'm planning on publishing some film noir reviews I've saved back in honor of the occasion.

So that's really about all I've done with writing this past week. I always feel that I could have somehow done more, but that's always the goal for the next week starting now.

Sunday, May 10, 2015

A Week in Writing #37

Not a great start to the week. One of the agents I queried last week rejected me with a nicely worded form letter. Disappointed? Sure. Rejection is never fun. This was an electronic-first agent to boot. I had read her interview with Chuck Sambuchino wherein she said she was looking for mysteries. It wasn't something I really wanted, but I'm getting tired of the waiting game and hoped maybe an ebook would be better than no book. Back to the drawing board, I guess. Add one more query to the list of things to do this week. I guess the one positive takeaway is that my email does work as this agent did receive my query. So I guess that rules out an easy excuse for all of the others who never reply.

Another rejection on Thursday. This is the one I sent out after the one I got on Monday. Quick turnaround, too bad the news isn't any better. What doesn't help is that the form letter came from her assistant. Again, the takeaway is that the email does work.

Spent my writing time getting back to Familiar Stranger. I know I've been through this manuscript before, but I started over again and really think I'm making it better this time through. I edited out the first introductory chapter and I've been working my way from there. I only wish I had gotten further than the 62 pages I've done.

The problem hasn't been the writing, but having the time. I find if I don't write every day (even edting) I have trouble sleeping, not that I don't have problems sleeping anyway. Twice this week I've been up at 1 or 2 working on the rewrite. Afterwards, I'm able to sleep. I think writing has become something I have to do everyday, like brushing my teeth or going to work. If I don't, something feels wrong and it throws me off worse than I already am.

Getting only a few hours sleep has thrown off other things as well. No review again this week, though I did publish a new one for Blackboard Jungle (1955).

Ending the week under the weather, which doesn't bode well for the next one.

Sunday, May 3, 2015

A Week in Writing #35

Well, I finally did it. I sent a follow up or nudge on Wednesday morning to the agent with the full manuscript. As I've detailed here, it's been over a year since I first queried her and now it's been seven months plus since she's had the full manuscript. I may not like the answer I receive (if I receive one), but I'd like to know for sure what's what. I say if I receive one, since my last nudge, in February went unanswered. It's not like this agent isn't out there socially, as she tweets about most of her queries. I have never seen mine, which only means I didn't get rejected out of hand. But no matter how you slice it, seven months is a long time to wait.

The thing I like least about the writing process is the business-side of the equation, which right now is the query and wait game. You wouldn't think it would take that long to send a standard letter to a new agent, but I think each one takes about half an hour. Now true, some of that is spent double and triple checking to make sure you've got the right information in the letter/email and have attached the right amount of the manuscript, which is anywhere from nothing to 50 pages. (One agent wanted the entire manuscript, but thankfully as an attachment not embedded.)

And there seem to be so many little things in the process that seem to work against you. You might work out the perfect query letter in Word, but when you paste it into Outlook, there are several lines between the paragraphs, that even editing in Outlook never seems to fix. This is not meant to be an advice blog, but it never hurts to send your query letter email to yourself to see what the agents will be receiving.

So I have to painstakingly rewrite the letter into an email. One trick I've learned is to blind copy myself on the query and then move it back to the draft folder once I receive it. Again, I'm not writing to give advice, but that helps keep me from constantly rewriting the same query.

Another thing that makes me mad, is that for some reason there are passages in A Killer Blog that when I paste them into Outlook change font colors to blue. I've tried taking the sample from different versions of the book and retyping that passage in the email, but every time when the email gets sent those passages are blue. It doesn't help that the first time is the paragraph where J.D. meets Abigail Dietrich, who is working in an underground club as a waitress and J.D. notices how much cleavage she's showing. Sort of over emphasizes the blueness of the passage.

But I digress.

As far as actually writing, I didn't really work on the rewrites like I had hoped. Instead, I did some work on the comic book, in this case, doing some summaries of the stories already written. That exercise and working on the queries took up most of the time for writing this past week.

I did actually write a review this week, not for the Shakespeare film we watched this Friday, but for the new Avengers film we saw on Saturday. I'll be posting it in a week or two. It's not as if my reviews carry any weight, so there's no real hurry. I did publish one review this week for Stand-In (1937) from my backlog of reviews.

In the next week, I am hoping to get back to the rewrites. It's usually a case of time rather than desire, but I'm always hopeful.

Sunday, April 26, 2015

A Week in Writing #34

At 9:30 on a Saturday night I received an apology and a rejection from an agent I had given up on about a month ago. Seeing how that was 12:30 in the morning on Sunday, New York time, I wonder if they purposefully stayed up late to try and ruin my Sunday morning look at emails. As it was, the missive have ended up in my junk mail folder, which I guess is where it belonged in the first place.
I don't mean to sound blase about it, but I had already written them off as a no-go. Hearing from them a month later doesn't really effect how I feel.

A more productive week than most. I was able to complete the comic book script, at least a first draft. The story became four parts, 52 pages and over 10,000 words. I have to admit, I like the story, but so far the audience has been one, so I'm waiting for feedback. While I have the germ for the next story, I don't want to keep writing in a void. Hoping that this time at Comic-Con we can connect with an artist that can bring these words to life.

True to my word, I also completed a review for Shakespeare in Love, which was Friday a week ago's family movie. Didn't write a new one again, for the past Friday's film. Macbeth was up and we tried to watch not one, but two film versions based on the play. The first one starred Sean Connery and appeared to be a kinescope that had been remastered. The run time was a little over an hour, which made it appealing, but the play started several scenes in and seemed to be shot in mostly close-ups, the way many TV productions were at the time of small black and white sets.

Opted out of that one and tried to rent another version, this one with Nicol Williamson as the lead. But by then the hour was growing late and interest had waned. So no Macbeth review forthcoming.

Did publish one for Female (1933), ending a run of Pre-Code films. Not sure what to post next. A little mystery is good.

My writing goals for the next week are a little more simple. I want to get back to Barrister, either Public and Private because my editors given me feedback or Familiar Stranger, because it's time to put this one to bed.

I also want to send a few queries, which are always more of a time suck then you'd think. I really want to follow up this week with the agent who has my manuscript. We're coming up on a year since my original query. I'm anxious because I sort of fear the worst, but its time to rip that bandage off.

Sunday, April 19, 2015

A Week in Writing #33

Some days it just seems like I can never get as much traction going as I'd like. When I get home, if I haven't started writing before dinner, then I might not get another chance until it is almost time to go to bed. By that time, the mind is willing, but the body fails me. This has been one of those weeks for me. Never quite got into the groove. I'm not having writer's block or anything like that, there just don't seem to be enough hours in the day.

Family commitments basically took away a whole day, Saturday, though I did have time to post a review on Trophy Unlocked: Three on a Match (1932), another Pre-code film. The response has been better than I had expected. When you're counting pageviews in the tens, 25 in a day and a half is a lot. I don't really expect to get much more, at least not right away.

One of the things I didn't get a chance to do was write a review of our Friday night film, Shakespeare in Love, but I hope to work on that during the week. That may be my writing project, along with trying to finish the comic book script I started last week. I'm into a Part 3 on this draft and about 6300 words.

Spent some time this past week trying to rewrite the ending to Public and Private, but my editor did not like my efforts. We decided to table this bit and start in again from the top. I really appreciate the bad reviews as well as the good advice. As I always say, my goal is to make the book better and salable.

Nothing new on the query front, none sent and none returned. Haven't looked at my spreadsheet all week. As I said, I never quite got things going this week.

Sunday, April 12, 2015

A Week in Writing #32

It hasn't been a bad week, but I wouldn't say this has been my most productive. It started out pretty well. I made the edits to the final chapters of Public and Private, except I still need a new last line/ending. Hoped it would come to me, but it really hasn't yet. Need to finish this week.

The week also started out on a positive note as a recently queried agent wanted to see more of A Killer Blog. I have to admit, that felt encouraging after so many non-responses. I keep saying I'm going to do more querying, but that is really very time consuming. When I only have a little time to write, I'd rather do than query. At least writing seems comforting and of the two is something I have some control over.

For the second time in a couple of weeks, didn't write a movie review, though I did post one on Trophy Unlocked for Other Men's Women (1931) Doing a whole pre-code theme in April, starting with Sinners' Holiday last week.

This Friday's movie was actually a British TV production of King Lear (2009), starring Ian McKellen in the title role. The movie was a long and rather incomprehensible 156 minutes. While it does tell the story of the play, it might have been better to have done it in mime, as the dialogue was very fast and hard to understand. We took two nights to finish it, so I decided against spending any more time with the film.

Did some work on another script for our non-existent comic book, PowerSquared. Wrote Part 1 and am into Part 2 of the new story (about 3700 words so far). Going to Comic Con again this year hoping again to find an artist/collaborator there. If nothing works out this time, I'm going to have to change tactics. Isn't there a saying that doing the same thing over and over again and expecting a different result is a sign of insanity? I don't think I'm insane. Does writing a blog that no one reads like talking to yourself? Isn't that a sign of insanity? So maybe I am.

This coming week, the plan is to finish Public and Private, finish the comic book script and then hopefully get back to Familiar Stranger (remember that one?). That's the plan, I'll write about the realities next week, even if no one else cares.

Sunday, April 5, 2015

A Week in Writing #31

Spent most of the week working on the rewrites for Public and Private.  There were about 500 pages that I had made notes on, but had not typed up. Made those edits, including some to the chapters I rewrote last week. Still waiting to hear back from my editor. Hopefully soon. We'll see where things go from here. Would really like to have another book to query. I'd like to think they're getting better.

No new queries this week and no new rejections, either. Coming up on a year since I first contacted the agent that has my complete manuscript. Not sure why I'm not hearing back from her.

Wrote a future review for Other Men's Women (1931), a pre-code film starring Grant Withers (yes that Grant Withers) with an appearance by some actor named James Cagney. Actually wanted to watch it for Withers, so look for that later. Posted a review for another pre-code film, Sinners' Holiday (1930). This one also stars Grant Withers and is Cagney's first film. Watched this one for Cagney. You can read that one here:

Also started working on another script for the comic book I still want to get started this year. Did not attend WonderCon this year. Attended last year, but the Comic Creator Connection was a bust, I'm afraid to say. Scheduling didn't work out to attend this year.

This coming week, planning on getting back to Familiar Stranger, doing more work on the comic book script and hopefully finding the time to query more agents. Things never seem to stop.