Sunday, January 25, 2015

A Week in Writing #21

Changed up my query letter for A Killer Blog. So far tested it out on one new agent I'd read about on Query Tracker. Too soon to tell if it's done any good. For every query, one new DNR to take it's place I'm afraid, so I'm still hovering at 11 queries and for those of us keeping track, which is me: 6 are for A Killer Blog and 5 are for Past Present. Still no word from the agent with the full manuscript (9 months since the original query). It's been a month since we last communicated. I really don't know what's taking so long or how agents read bits and pieces of a manuscript. Not sure how to take the delay. From my experience it usually takes months to get an answer on a full submission, but I still don't like the waiting. To paraphrase Tom Petty, it's the hardest part.

Made some good progress on my rewrite of Familiar Stranger. Decided to look at the beginning again, as sort of a running start for the rest. Added over 5,000 words so it was a good week for that. Trying to add some depth at the beginning with the characters. Sometimes writing seems like connecting the dots, you've got point A and B and C and more defined lines need to be drawn to connect them all.

Heard from my editor on Public and Private. It had been since the end of November. Good stuff, though it looks like we're going to be doing some major rewrites on the ending. But that's all good. I want to improve the book.

Really felt like a writer on Saturday with the rewrites on Familiar Stranger and Public and Private. Those fleeting moments of being in the groove are hard to come by, but I really like it when they come around.

Published a review on Trophy Unlocked for The Plot Thickens (1936), which you can read here:

Received some review copies from the Warner Archive that I requested: Blu-rays of The Picture of Dorian Gray and Out of the Past and a DVD of Sinners' Holiday. All future reviews, though Out of the Past will be a second look. Worked on a future review of Sinners' Holiday (1930), a film that I've seen once before and has come up in several reviews of Cagney and Blondell films. Realized that I had been misspelling the title in past reviews (Sinner's) as well, so I went back and corrected that.

Looking forward to sending some more queries next week and continuing on Familiar Stranger. And, of course, will report on all this in next week's post.

Sunday, January 18, 2015

A Week in Writing #20

Tried to send out one query a day, but only made it to four. Starting to think I need to revise my query letters, since I don't seem to be getting any reaction. I currently have 11 queries out there and they all seem to be counting down to DNR (Did Not Respond). Would really love to hear something back, even a "not for me" would be welcomed. Nothing like feeling you count enough to be rejected.

The rewrites on Familiar Stranger have been going well, but I'm not getting as much time as I would like to work on it. I have some ideas about tightening the opening of the book as well, trying to get to the story a little quicker.

Sometimes real life gets in the way of the 1000 words a day and this was another such week. I won't go into the details as they are of a personal nature, but I wasn't able to write as much as I wanted. The goal is to always do better next week.

Published a review on Trophy Unlocked: Horse Feathers (1932):

Spent some time trying to polish up a review for the 100th anniversary of the release of The Birth of a Nation (1915). A most controversial film, which I want to do justice to, while at the same time noting the bigotry of the film's message. Also, working on a new one for Foreign Correspondent (1940), but again, I'm not as far along as I would like. Usually by the time I write this post, I've finished with the review, but not in this case.

Not the most inspiring week or post. Sometimes it's a slow and frustrating process, but I keep at it nevertheless.

My goal for next week is to not only have finished the review for Foreign Correspondent, but also to have squared away the bulk of the rewrite on Familiar Stranger. What I need is the one thing I can't always control: time.

Sunday, January 11, 2015

A Week in Writing #19

Slow start to the week. Spent most of Monday night renting a dehumidifier and fan to try and dry out the walls after the leak. Only really did some editing on a future review for Trophy Unlocked, nothing major.

DNR'd another query, since it expired at the end of last year. Again, I hope to hear something, a Did Not Respond is sort of a maybe in my book. I don't like the trend with the query/feedback process, where no response means a pass. There are so many factors that can happen in between sending the email and six weeks to three months later, that agents ask you to give them. Maybe for some reason it didn't go through? Maybe they're swamped and haven't gotten back to your query? Maybe a sentient dog came into their office, sat down at their computer and deleted everything in their in-box? I mean, there are so many reasonable explanations. The only thing worse is the form rejection "not right for my list" or "the publishing business is very subjective ..." And don't say good luck unless you really mean it.

But I digress.

Sent out four more queries, two each for A Killer Blog and Past Present. Still waiting to hear back from the agent with the manuscript to A Killer Blog. Not sure what to make about having to wait, but frankly, I don't think it's a good sign that I haven't heard back yet; so I keep querying.

Pulled back from querying the screenplays. Need to write some synopsis first, which again is time consuming. So much creative time is taken up with trying to get representation. I can't really say I enjoy this part of the process, but I look at it as a necessary evil.

Did some more edits on Familiar Stranger, but not as much as I wanted to do, too many distractions from life, but I like where it's going at last.

Published a review of Mr. Blandings Builds His Dream House (1948) on Trophy Unlocked: and wrote a future one for A Submarine Pirate (1915), about 1800 words on a 25 minute short. Have to keep that up, too.

After Paul's comments and input on the comic book script, I made a couple of rewrites this week.

I find that I have to do some writing every day even if it isn't 1000 words, or else I can't sleep at night.

Sunday, January 4, 2015

A Week in Writing #18

The old saying is that "Life is what happens while you're busy making other plans." While the holidays had been a pleasant diversion from writing, I had hoped to get some more work done this week and weekend. I didn't count on a water leak inside one of the walls, which became a real distraction getting fixed. Note: Try not to have an emergency plumbing problem late on a Friday afternoon right after a holiday. It took about five hours of calling and waiting to get someone to stop the leak and then re-arranging the next day to be sure to be home so they can finish the repair. Now it's repairing the wall and moving everything back in. But hey, what are you going to do?

Trying to get set for the new year, so I updated the query list I keep on an excel spreadsheet. I hadn't looked at it during the holidays, so I thought I'd play a little catch up. 7 DNRs; not a great stat to end the year on. It's possible that I might hear something from one of these agents later, as they, too, may be caught up in the end of the year/holiday rush, but for now their stated reply time has run out, so I have to move on. That leaves me with only four active queries, including the agent who has the complete manuscript. I plan to send more queries, but not until the week after the New Year's.

I also took some time to research agents for screenplays. This must be a very mercurial profession as I went down several recent internet lists and found more than half appeared to be out of business. Some have websites that tell you nothing or seem to be perpetually in a state of construction. I was able to whittle it down to a list of 21 that seemed to be legitimate and still in business. I thought I didn't have enough rejections in my writing life that I might as well shop around a couple of screenplays. Check back here to see how that goes.

Did get some real writing done as well, not just research for disappointment:

Made some real progress on the rewrite for Familiar Stranger. Having gotten past the roadblock, now it's updating it from taking place on water to taking place on land, so it's not quite, pardon the pun, smooth sailing just yet.

Wrote another installment for the someday happening comic book, When we pitched our idea at the Comic Creators Connection at last year's Comic-Con, one of the artists seemed disappointed that we didn't have our heroes in costumes. I finally wrote a story based on the premise. It was good to get back to the story and I'm hoping to get some good feedback from my co-writer/editor on the project.

Posted a review on Trophy Unlocked on this past Saturday, which is my usual day to post. Starting the year off with a comedy, His Girl Friday (1940). Find it here:

2014 had been the the 50th Anniversary of The Beatles coming to America, the 75th Anniversary for Hollywood's Golden Year, 1939, and the 100th anniversary of feature film-making in Hollywood, three things we celebrated on Trophy Unlocked. Of course, there are other anniversaries in 2015, including the 100th for The Birth of a Nation, D.W. Griffith's most controversial and successful film. Watched the movie and wrote a 4700-plus word essay about the film. Will be posting that later in the year.

So that's about it for this week. I have high hopes for 2015 and will tell all on this blog, so please keep checking back. And as always, comments are welcomed.