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.