Sunday, December 25, 2016

A Week in Writing #122

Getting near the end of the year is always the time to be looking back on what you've accomplished and what still needs to be done. Maybe I'm a week early here, but that doesn't mean I won't be doing more soul-searching next week as well.

One thing 2016 has driven home is the frailty of existence. I won't try to name all of the artists who have died this past year, but it does make you want to get on with things. Waiting sucks, there is no other way to put it. And while you're waiting, another day, week or month that you could have been doing something gets ticked off, and like money you spend, you don't get it back.

The fact that it has taken more than a year and we're not even finished with the first two issues of PowerSquared makes me feel more impatient than ever. I don't really blame Paul or myself for the delays in getting the work done. We try to turn around our comments within a day or two of receiving work, which sometimes gets us into trouble as we have overlooked details that we've had to have fixed later when we might have seen if we weren't in so much of a hurry.

I might be satisfied if we were a few days or even weeks away from finishing, but we are not. So much has to be redone before the comic would be publishing worthy, that it's not really funny. We're going to have to shake up the creative team, probably before the new year, because things can not go on as they have been; we will never get it done if we don't. Even though it feels like a vanity project, that is not the intent. This has been a learning experience for me, as I now know better what not to do.

Well, that's enough about what's wrong with the comic book. When we make changes I'll be more forthcoming.

Did write a one-shot this week for it, showing how Marty and Eli meet Mocha. While we touch upon this moment in the second issue, I wanted to show it more from her point of view, which this one-shot would do. When I had the idea it didn't take more than a couple of nights this past week to get a good draft done. I'm sure there'll be more rewrites, especially if we get closer to doing it, but I think it tells what I want it to and with minimal dialogue. I know I'm wordy as a writer, but sometimes I try to write with minimal dialogue and this is one of those cases. Another one to put aside until the time is right.

Well, the time is right, I guess, to end this post. I'll be writing more next week as I look back on my year in writing. Until then, Happy Holidays to the dozen of you that read this. Thanks for your continued support.

Sunday, December 18, 2016

A Week in Writing #121

Another sort of blah week in writing, that is until tonight. Can't say I really got off the snide this week. The project at work is hard to shake, though I think it should be close to done in a day or so and I know I've said that a few times this past month or so. I can see the light at the end of the tunnel, but they keep making the tunnel a little longer. But the end is in sight.

The holidays are pretty involving, though I'm starting to feel behind on that front as well. But that's a story for a different blog.

Things are starting to happen with the comic book. One of my goals was to improve our creative team and that seems to be moving forward. Have a couple of very good prospects. Not sure yet if we've found the right person, the price is a consideration, but I'm thinking we're getting close. But it's a necessary change if we're going to move forward.

Our search for a new logo seemed stalled. My nephew couldn't find anyone to take the job at the end of the year. So he ended up doing four versions for us. All of them are pretty good, but we're a little split on which one to use. I'm hoping I might be able to get the comic industry guy to take a look since it was his idea to get a new one.

The cover for the second issue is also coming along. Our artist has taken a few shots at doing one and I think we're at least moving forward on it, though I don' think we're there yet.

Found myself with a free evening and spent it updating my list of agents to submit to. Checked on the one I have being read by an agent and so far no word. It's only been three months and a full manuscript is supposed to take six months. That's such a long time to wait, though I'm sure it's not all that long if you're the agent with an inbox full of queries and manuscripts to go through.

Published two reviews this weekend. One was the standard Saturday morning review, this time Mr. Magoo's Christmas Carol (1962). We have one more to go in that survey of adaptations of Charles Dickens' classic. Also published a review of Rogue One; that one in an effort to stay current. The blog celebrated its sixth anniversary today with the publishing of  Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain by its founder, Paul.

The upcoming week will be busy, but I'm not sure how much writing I'm going to get done. Still so much to do for the upcoming holiday. All I can do is try my best when the opportunity arises.

Sunday, December 11, 2016

A Week in Writing #120

New week and the same story I'm afraid. Working late again at the office and Christmas to blame this time around. But there are really no excuses for not getting anything really done.

No other writing again, I know this is starting to sound like a broken record and only a little progress on the comic book. The artist finally finished the last two pages and has started preliminary work on the cover. He's actually pushing us to give feedback, which is kind of new. On the other hand, our colorist as sort of gone AWOL. He's one of those you have to push to get pages back. Not sure why that is, but that's been my experience.

Still waiting on getting a new logo drawn. Not sure what the hold up is, but I waited two weeks before pinging about it, but I wasn't pinged back. I'll go ahead and say "he's probably really busy" which is the standard excuse you're supposed to make. Still it's a little frustrating not to hear back, but that's become my mantra, hasn't it?

I had high hopes that we would be done with the second issue by the end of the year. Six months seems like more than ample time to get 20 pages drawn and colored, but that doesn't seem to be in the cards for us. I had put off a meeting with someone who had shown an interest in our story, hoping to be done before we talk, but I had to go ahead and start that process without being done. I'm really disappointed and a little miffed that it seems to be taking extra long to get this completed. Not sure if this is typical for first timers, but things will have to change if this is to be a sustainable project. I feel like I've said that before and it's not a threat, but a promise.

Did manage to complete one review and get pretty far along with another one. Watched the fourth and final version of A Christmas Carol on Friday, this one is the 1984 TV version starring George C. Scott. Published our second review on Saturday, A Christmas Carol (1951) aka Scrooge.

When I started this blog, a thousand words a day seemed easy, but lately getting anything done has become quite a challenge. I'm not throwing in the towel, but I really want to double down in the weeks ahead.

Sunday, December 4, 2016

A Week in Writing #119

Another week and little to show for it I'm afraid. I can give you a lot of excuses, working a little late one or two nights and a Thursday night Dallas Cowboys game and before you know it the week is practically over. So once again I didn't get to much of anything past the comic book. If that sounds like a recurring theme, it is.

And the progress on that is due to some redraws that we had the artist do when we noticed that watches were prominent on some pages and then excluded on others. It may sound like we're being picky, but we really do try to keep the continuity straight. If it bothers us, then it will no doubt bother someone else.

The colorist redid some of the pages, even though we tried to tell him to hold off until the artist was done with his work. So more delays in getting this issue done. It really bothers me that it will take more than a year to get two issues done. We're going to move forward with a third issue, so I'm hopeful we can get things moving a little faster. Otherwise, we're going to have to make changes to the creative team.

Did get some more advice on the comic book; a referral from someone. The advice was more general in nature and not directly related to the book itself. What I got out of it was that it's going to be tough, but I kind of figured that already. We have to have finished goods before anything else can really happen.

While the comic book seems to dominate my creative time, there was some other writing done this week for Trophy Unlocked. Most Christmases we publish reviews of holiday and holiday-related films. Last year, we concentrated on Star Wars, but this year we're back to the basics. Published the first of four reviews on films and TV specials adapted from Charles Dickens' A Christmas Carol. Started with the 1938 MGM film starring Reginald Owen.

In the spirit of the season and the blog, watched and reviewed Mr. Magoo's Christmas Carol, a little under 2700 words written over Saturday and Sunday. Look for it in a couple of weeks. One more film to view and review, but that won't be until the weekend.

Did have a thought about Familiar Stranger, so that oft put off rewrite is still on my mind. I'm hoping I can get to it again soon, but that will have to wait for another week in writing.

Sunday, November 27, 2016

A Week in Writing #118

Thanksgiving. Besides family and food, it also means lots of driving and very little time for writing. It's almost like I took a holiday from writing these past few days. I know the saying writers write, but sometimes that's not possible, especially after getting up at 4 in the morning and driving for 7 to 8 hours and then repeating that drive in reverse a few days later.

Now, there was time to do some writing on Friday, but I know it may sound weird to say, but I didn't want everyone to know what we were working on. Not that I'm keeping the comic book a secret, I do write about it here every week, but I didn't want to go through having to explain it and show it to people who don't read comics or who don't write. Ever feel that way about your work?

Before the holidays, we did finally speak with the man at the internet comic book site who we've been waiting to speak with for about three months. A very good conversation that was scheduled for half an hour, but went on for twice as long. It was the opinion we've been most wanting since he is actively involved in publishing. While he liked the story, he had some constructive criticism about the coloring, the lettering, the credits page and the logo. And while that sounds like we failed big time, I don't take it that way, because all of those things are fixable and things he can help us with. As a writer, I'm always interested in how to make something better, that's one reason I don't mind rewrites; they're a very necessary evil.

Even though we didn't talk about the comic book to everyone, we did speak to one relative, my nephew and Paul's cousin, who might be able to help us find someone to do a new logo. And we did spend part of Black Friday at a comic book store looking for and buying some of the comics that were recommended as examples of lettering: Saga, Thief of Thieves and Matt Fractions' Hawkeye.

While we were gone, the colorist did deliver three of the four pages he was supposed to, which is good for him. The artist did email us back after one more of my emails did not go through. It has something to do with using my AT&T email on Hotmail and it's only started when they "improved" Hotmail. Again, it's a matter of time to get it fixed and I'm always scrounging around looking for more of that commodity.

Did publish a Saturday Morning Review on Trophy Unlocked: All My Sons, officially ending our #Noirvember reviews for this year. Moving on now to Christmas and the first of our A Christmas Carol reviews will be up on Saturday. No film on Friday night, so we're still two short for the holiday extravaganza. Is that over-selling it?

Sunday, November 20, 2016

A Week in Writing #117

Long hours again this week at work. Coming home late every night really plays havoc with being creative. The difference between getting home at 6:30 and getting home at 7:30 or later is huge. I know I'm not the only working would-be author to have this experience. Unfortunately, everything else stays the same so creativity is the first victim of lack of time. I'm writing this to explain why I didn't reach any stretch goals this week. Does survival count?

Progress, in fits and starts, continues to be made on the comic. The artist is down to the last two pages, still in the pencil stage, but getting close. The colorist has made it to page 12, with some corrections. If he can get through eight more pages in a couple of weeks, we'll still be in line to finish by year's end. We still have a cover and lettering, but I try to remain positive.

Heard from the online comic guy this week. Sort of out of the blue. I was having lunch on Monday and mentioning I hadn't heard from him in more than a month, when the next day I get an email from him. I think it's sort of the Beetlejuice effect, say his name enough and he appears. But in this case, he will still not be nailed down, at least so far. He apologized for his delay in getting back to us and asked if we were available to talk next week, which of course is a holiday week. Suggested Tuesday to talk, but he has yet to respond to my emails. Trying hard not to take it personally. But we're sort of on his radar again.

So what writing I did was mostly rewrites on a future comic script. Even with edits, I think it's still too long. Not sure yet how much I will still have to cut out. Not much to show for a week in writing.

Published our penultimate Noirvember review; Take One False Step. Above average pageviews, so I guess it was well-received. It might have helped that I used the right hashtag this time on Twitter. I had been using #Noirember instead of #Noirvember, which is the correct one. That's what I get for posting early in the mornings.

Worked on, but have not yet finished, our second A Christmas Carol review. About 1200 words in and more to go.

With Thanksgiving rushing up, I'm not sure how much writing I'll get done. No doubt at least one late night awaits me at work, so modest goals this week.

Sunday, November 13, 2016

A Week in Writing #116

Well, the change in time played havoc with me this week; I need a week to make the transition either way. Still not used to driving home in the dark. Couple that with the election on Tuesday night and some long hours at work and the writing again has suffered.

I did manage to connect with a literary agent on Linkedin. She was an agent that I had actually talked to on the phone a few years before. She seemed very interested in one of my books, but we couldn't close the deal. She accepted my invitation and then sent me a message asking what I was writing. I wrote her back telling her about the novel Public and Private; the comic book and the two blogs I write on, including this one. Maybe it was too much because I never heard back. Oh, well.

Did manage to work on rewrites for future scripts. We have decided to move forward with the comic book, but I still want to be tentative until we actually sell it. To make that possible, we've worked on the next three issues as well as some work on two after that. I'm finding that I have a lot of editing to do on part-two of the second set. The script is about two plus pages too long.

But before we can get to issue three, we still have to finish issue two. To that end, we got some layouts from our artist on the last two pages and finally got two overdue pages from our colorist. By our count, he's got about 9 pages to go and I've told him we want to be done sooner rather than later. We still have a cover to work out and color as well. I super want to be done with this by the end of the year, so we can try next year to move to the next steps.

As far as Trophy Unlocked is concerned, I did publish the second Noirember review: Destination Murder (1950). I also wrote the first of the Christmas reviews. The plan this year is to review four of the adaptations of Charles Dickens' A Christmas Carol, which was published in 1843. The first version we watched was the 1938 version from MGM starring Reginald Owen; that review is about 2400 words. The plan is to also review the 1951 version with Alastair Sim, the animated TV version featuring Mr. Magoo and the live-action TV version starring George C. Scott in the title role. I'm curious to see how the same story is handled over the years and hope that the synopses will be different enough to warrant the survey. We'll see.

Besides more Christmas movie reviews and rewrites on the comic book, I need to get over the hump with my other rewrites. I still want to get back to Familiar Stranger; remember that?

Sunday, November 6, 2016

A Week in Writing #115

Another week dominated by a project at work, but also one that saw the possibility of a way forward with the comic. One of the guys I had read the book knows someone who might be interested in helping us make something more out of it. He basically took it on himself to pitch the comic book to another creator/producer and got a good reception. Really encouraging, which is nice and exciting to think about.

With work getting a little heavy and the book still in progress, we decided to wait until the beginning of next year to start talking further about it. I feel like we need to have Part 2 completed before we start to try to sell it, both as a book and for any other related projects. To that end, I need to emphasize to our artist and colorist (and letterer) that we need to get the book completed before the end of the year. This is the same group, and I'm not passing judgment here, that did not rise to the stretch goal I proposed during the summer to have it done by Labor Day, but hopefully, we're in a position where this can get done. The artist is on the last four pages and the colorist is actually doing some work after not doing much for a while.

On my side, I'm still working on rewrites for the next set of stories. Paul read through them and had some good comments. I'm going back through the scripts to edit some of the longer dialogue passages, since as he pointed out, space is limited. Trying to move dialogue around where possible and shortening where possible.

Did get a chance over the week to complete a review of 9, an animated film we saw a couple of weeks back. Far from being a perfect film, I did find myself being drawn in. I won't say more till the review is posted.

On that front, I did post the first of four reviews of film noir titles for noirember, Criss Cross (1949). The plan is to post three more before turning to Christmas films during December. I had an idea that I could review different versions of the same story, Charles Dickens' A Christmas Carol. Just an idea, since I am not the only one who would have to watch them all.

Also wrote and posted a review of Doctor Strange, the 14th installment of the MCU (Marvel Cinematic Universe), which we saw on Saturday morning at the Cinerama Dome in Hollywood. We try to include new films with our steady diet of "classic" cinema on Trophy Unlocked.

Well, another week in the can and another week to look forward to. At this point, I'm hoping to finish the rewrites on issues 3, 4 and 5 in addition to hopefully getting back to my other rewrite projects. I will also need to get buy-in from our creative team to get Part 2 done in the next eight weeks. Oh and see if the rest of the family is with me on the Christmas Carol idea, since we'd have to start watching them sooner than later.

Sunday, October 30, 2016

A Week in Writing #114

I feel like a broken record, but another week that didn't quite live up to expectations. Some of that has to do with a project at work that has run over into my "off" hours and even the past couple of weekends. I've been more Excel than Word these past few days. Not complaining, really. I want to write, but in order to do that I need to eat and make mortgage payments, etc., so work is great and my intensive part of the project will end in a couple of weeks.

I used a mouse so much that I developed pain in my right shoulder, which doesn't seem to be permanent, so no excuses there.

What writing I have done has been on the comic book. I tried doing some writing with Final Draft, but, as I wrote last week, I don't want to rewrite/retype what I've already done. We're not working with anyone but ourselves at this point, so I'm doing my rewrites with Word. I'm not against using it and will when I get to something new.

I did have time to begin rewrites on our third set of stories, which will be a two-parter.  Still not a hundred percent sure we're doing a third issue, but I think we're leaning that way, at least we're being encouraged to keep going. But there is only so long we can do this as a vanity project. At some point, we have to introduce the book to the public. That's the issue that's bugging me; the best way to release our work.

But before we get to that point, we still have the second issue to get done. The artist is up to doing pencils for pages 17 and 18, which means we're getting close. The colorist has sort of dropped the ball at least this go round. After promising to have all four pages ready by our "deadline" of two weeks, already late, he had us resend him the pages to color. If I wasn't buried with copy and paste, I might be madder.

Still haven't gotten all the feedback I want on the comic book. One of our "readers" has sent us a link to a website that is supposed to help us with marketing. Sadly, I haven't had the time to really look at it. I also haven't had the time to really ping people, but I will be trying this week, time permitting.

Published our last Halloween movie review, Black Sabbath, on Saturday. No time to write a new one this weekend, though I watched the film I'll do next, 9. I'm thinking of publishing  reviews of film noirs in November, which is good because they're already written.

My goal for the coming week is to get some writing done. Not a big goal, but it feels like a stretch goal this time.

Sunday, October 23, 2016

A Week in Writing #113

I started writing this mid-week, Wednesday morning before I went to work. I wanted to capture how I was feeling at the moment; the word disheartened kept coming to mind. My fishing for feedback the past couple of weeks had been been very unsuccessful up until then. Of the people we had sent PowerSquared to for feedback and advise, only two had given us feedback up until then, despite it having been nearly two months since we sent them the book.

Rather than throw in the towel, I redoubled my efforts to contact them and for the most part it paid off, as two of the three have at least reacted to my queries. One had problems downloading the file we'd sent him, which we worked out during the week. He has apparently read it now and wants to talk, the timing of which I still don't know.

One of the people was the guy who wrote the book that got me doing this blog in the first place. Not sure what took him so long, but he did respond today just before I started to update this post. He was complimentary for the most part, though he did have issues with a couple of panels. One was a Japenese onomatopoeia we used and another was the flow of dialogue between panels on one page.

The third one has been the most elusive so far and probably the most sought after for us. High ranking at an internet comic book site (I don't name names; it isn't that kind of blog), we had sent him a copy during the Labor Day holidays, which seem like an eternity ago now. He seemed to like it and even set up an appointment to talk to us, but cancelled. Since then, he hasn't rescheduled or responded to our emails. That's the sort of thing that makes you feel disheartened; so close and so out of your control.

Writing is a very personal thing, even if it's a comic book. You put a lot of effort into getting everything right (and if you're like me, pay to get it right) and then you want someone to either encourage you or tell you it's not your line of work; something/anything. Now don't get me wrong; a couple of people, who's opinions I respect, have read Part 1 and really liked it, but I'd like to hear his since he's more immersed in the business.

We're quickly coming up to the point when we'll need to commit to a third issue (and two more after that to complete the storyline) so I'd like to hear from him before we have to decide.

I'm not going to give up, it's just that I didn't expect how hard it would be to get three grown men to read a 20-page comic book and provide feedback.

Not a good week in writing for me. Did finish the script for the next three stories and am waiting for my son, the editor, to have a chance to go through them. It's a lot of pages and he is busy with his own writing and school. I think we're about a month away from having to make the decision. But I've also had to work late a couple of nights and lost that time for creative ventures.

Did post a new review on Trophy Unlocked, ParaNorman, keeping with our October Halloween themed reviews. Haven't written a new one this weekend, but I think I'm going through a bit of a dry spell when it comes to writing in general. Right now I'm getting about 30 pageviews the first week that I publish a review, which isn't a lot, but we have a mass of reviews that seem to get looked at, so we average about 80 pageviews a day. Some older ones seem to get a lot of hits, like G.I. Joe: Retaliation seems to be popular now. For reasons I'm not sure of, it has gotten 55 pageviews this week.

Purchased Final Draft 10.0 on Friday. It's a pretty cool program, though I've only just begun to scratch the surface. The industry standard for scripts. There are also templates for graphic novels, but I'm not sure I want to rewrite the ones I just completed in Word, but I might try using it for future scripts. Hopefully, this new tool will spur me on to write more.

Always the goal.

Sunday, October 16, 2016

A Week in Writing #112

This week I went fishing for feedback on PowerSquared. It started out with trying to reschedule our talk that was postponed last week. While I was at it, I thought I'd ping two of the three others who haven't yet responded. So, three emails went out and day one, zero responses. Not encouraging, to say the least. But I know "we're really busy at the moment", so I try to wait patiently.

Is this normal? Sometimes it feels like I'm the only writer who can't get feedback; I'll throw my son Paul in to it as well, since we both wrote PowerSquared, so I guess I'm not alone. I'm sadly used to this sort of treatment from agents, I mean that's part of the drill, but I had hoped this would be a little different. These were after all people I had met and in some cases have known for at least five years, if not longer. I just hope there is some sort of payoff at the end.

Now I may hear from all three before I publish this post, but I'm trying to capture how I'm feeling during the week; part of my week in writing, rather than just a total summation of what transpired. I never want this to turn vindictive, like so-and-so did this to me, so I don't name names, but I do think it's important to be honest about what is going on. (Ed. note: I didn't hear back from any of the three.)

I'm not sure what they did to Hotmail Outlook, but I don't like the changes. It seems like I can't do as much as I used to, like inserting images into the emails or downloading attachments. Our artist will send us jpegs of pages for us to look out, but suddenly earlier this week, they stopped working. While I could download and view the image on my phone, the Outlook on my computer refused, if a machine can be said to do that, the image. I tried sending the image from my phone to myself, but it wouldn't have anything to do with it. I ended up forwarding the email to myself at work and downloading there. I don't like having to do that at work, as I like, as much as humanly possible, to keep the two separate, but that was the only way I could finally view it.

I tried googling the problem, but like all of the issues I seek help with on the internet, the solutions weren't relevant, as in the solutions were for previous versions. I had to end up asking the artist to send them a different way. It's a good thing there are so many transfer sites on the internet.

We did make some progress on PowerSquared. The artist sent us layouts of the next four pages, so we're up to page 16. Our colorist suddenly got busy and sent us everything up through page 8. With both, we had some issues, but nothing too major. It's good to see it coming along, though there is still a lot of work to do. I honestly never thought it would be as time-consuming as it has turned out to be.

At this point, I'm not sure if we're going to do a third installment, but I've been trying to get ready in case we do. The next story is a three-parter, so I've been trying to divide the script into three 20-page sections. So far, with a little work, I've got two of the three marked up. While that doesn't sound like an accomplishment, it sort of is.

This is where the feedback we've been after would be helpful. No reason to keep doing it if no one thinks there's a future in it. I'm not looking for a new way to spend money I don't need to. The whole point is to make something sustainable. While I like seeing it come to life, I'm not looking at this as a vanity project.

Again, other writing has been somewhat slow this week. No new review to write this week, as we had no movie on Friday night. Did publish on Saturday morning; The Angry Red Planet (1959). as part of our salute to horror for October. Received comments for the first time in quite a while that actually related to the post.

Also had a comment on this blog, another rarity. Really happy to know that someone is reading it and feels compelled to leave a comment, especially encouragement. While I sort of write this blog for myself, I hope that there are some universal truths that others might find helpful or can relate to.

Sunday, October 9, 2016

A Week in Writing #111

There was some hurry up and wait this week. As I mentioned last week, we were going to have a phone call on Tuesday with someone to discuss PowerSquared. Sadly, that didn't happen when it was scheduled due to his being under the weather. It was disappointing, to say the least, but that's life. Sometimes things happen. He's promised to reschedule when he's back from New York Comic Con next week.

Still in a holding pattern when it comes to getting other feedback, but hopefully we can follow up again with everyone else next week.

My day job did affect my writing this week, as I brought home some work to go through a couple of the evenings this past week. Again, sometimes you can't help other things from interfering with creative time.

Started the week with some updates on the comic book, but then waited most of the week to get additional pages from the artist and the colorist. The artist has done layouts and pencils for pages 13 to 15, while the colorist is still working on page 6. A lot of hurry up and wait with him this week, as pages are promised, but not delivered. Need to do some edits on the current script before lettering gets underway as changes have been made to the story as visuals have been added and dialogue might get moved and changed.

My other writing also involved the comic book. Anticipating that we'll do a second PowerSquared story, I've been working trying to edit the next script to page and panels and trying to edit down dialogue to fit better.

Published the review of Re-Animator on Trophy Unlocked as our tribute to Horror films continues through the month of October. Started a new review for The Angry Red Planet, but didn't get as far as I wanted. Again, real life getting in the way, as I had some "handyman" work I needed to do at home. Never get to as much around the house as I need to. I like to think I have a writer's lawn, which means a lot of dead grass and dirt.

Not sure what the next week has in store. Want to get more work done on the comic book, of course, but I want to get to more done on other writing as well.

Sunday, October 2, 2016

A Week in Writing #110

Sadly, not my most productive week as a writer. For some reason, I didn't have the energy to get much done. I still haven't finished my synopsis, nor have I sent any new queries. I feel like I'm falling down on the job when it comes to things like that.

The one constant seems to be the comic book and the blog. Every day it seems like we were hearing from the artist or the colorist, so some progress is getting made. The artist should be working on pages 13 to 16 by now and the colorist should be working on pages 5 to 8, but we've only seen page 5 so far. Not sure why he keeps falling behind; he promises more than he delivers.

The status of part 2 though has me thinking ahead to the next storyline. I sat down and made a quick and dirty page/panel breakdown for the first two parts of the second story. The first part seemed to line pretty well to a 20-page story. The second part needs work and I haven't even started on part 3; it was that kind of a week.

I don't want to get too far ahead of ourselves, but I want to be ready. One of the factors in how we proceed will be the reaction we get, which as I wrote last week is harder to get than I'd like. We did hear back from two more people, one said he liked it and even followed up later in the week suggesting avenues to pursue with publishing. The second person and the one we're most interested in hearing from wants to speak with us next week. We're going to talk Tuesday evening when I get home. He's calling from New York, so I take it as a positive sign that he's taking time away from getting ready for New York Comic-Con to speak with us; Paul and me.

With Halloween approaching, Trophy Unlocked has turned to horror. Our Saturday Morning Review was The Invisible Man. Over the weekend, I wrote a 2500 word review of Re-Animator (1985), which will be published this month as part of our salute to the season. We have four of the five reviews we need completed. Not sure what the fifth will be yet. That's part of the fun.

I don't have any real good excuses why I haven't written more this past week, just that real life sometimes gets in the way. All I can do is promise to do better next week.

Sunday, September 25, 2016

A Week in Writing #109

There's a delicate balance to nudging people. You don't want to seem like a nuisance, but at the same time you don't want to be forgotten either. I try to give a long lead time between emails, but as I've written before, I'm not a patient person by nature and it eats me up inside waiting and waiting and...

Waiting turns to frustration after a while. While I understand we're all busy, only one out of the six people we've given PowerSquared to has gotten back to us. Some have had it for over a month. It's not like I gave them War and Peace or Moby Dick to read; it's a 20-page comic book. It can't take that long to read it. But that's the excuse I'm getting from everyone; "I'm really swamped" or some version thereof. Either there's a real worker-shortage in America or a real lack of imagination when it comes to excuses. At least that's what it feels like.

On the other hand, I was given something to read by a co-worker sometime back and never did read it. Of course, he never asked me about again or nudged me for my opinion, so I dropped it. (Hey, we're all busy.)

On a different front, I did hear back from the agent with Public and Private and she said they're reading and considering it. She said she was following up on an email from me, that I think I sent about three weeks ago.

This week, I think I got the most reaction to a tweet that I've ever gotten. Thursday was the anniversary of the release of Buster Keaton's The Cameraman (1928). I like to tweet on the anniversary of releases as a way of getting pageviews on Trophy Unlocked between weekly posts. It helps that the film is currently being released by the Warner Archive. They're usually very good about retweeting to their large following when their films are reviewed or tweeted about. Well, my tweet at 6:30 in the morning, got 23 likes and 6 retweets, which for me is far and away the biggest reaction to any of my 500+ tweets. But that all that reaction only equated to 10 pageviews, which is still pretty good. It is sort of like more people liked of the idea of a review rather than actually reading the review itself.

Lost a little writing time this week due to a concert and a book signing, but managed to complete two more reviews for the Halloween month to come, ParaNorman and Black Sabbath. It's a little like storing nuts for the winter, writing reviews for a special occassion. The downside is it means you have to watch movies a little out of season, but that's okay as long as everyone around you understands. So far, I've got 3 of the 5 I'll need for October.

Published a review on Saturday of Thelma & Lousie, another one I had already written. Starting to run out of those, but there is still a cushion.

Some progress was made on the comic book. I think Paul and I were finally able to get page 12 to look the way we want, though we haven't seen the final version of the layout. Up and until then our artist was very attentive. It was only after we sent our last edit that we haven't heard from him. While he disappears from time to time, I still don't see us getting two pages a week from either the artist or the colorist. I always felt like I get the promise but not the delivery. Of course, hopefully next week all will be caught up.

Hopefully next week will be more productive and I can get back to the other writing, but we'll see. Every week has its own challenges and time is always at a premium.

Sunday, September 18, 2016

A Week in Writing #108

Not sure what to make of it, but when I tried to start writing this post, Norton blocked my own blog as a threat. I had to override their security to get here.

Well, I had goals for the week and, surprise, I didn't actually make them. Did not finish the long synopsis for Past Present, but did make some progress on part two of PowerSquared and did start writing reviews for Halloween.

It seems review writing was what I did the most this past week. Wrote one for Blazing Saddles (1974), which I know isn't really Halloween material, but I wanted to get it over with. Started two more that I need to finish, ParaNorman (2012) and The Invisible Man (1933), so those will be the focus of the rest of the week. Also wrote and published a review for The Beatles: Eight Days a Week - The Touring Years, which is playing briefly in theaters before going to Hulu. The Saturday Morning Review on Trophy Unlocked was Witness to Murder (1954).

Spent the rest of the time on PowerSquared. Actually made some progress on those pages. The artist has sent layouts for up to page 11 and the colorist has gotten through the first four pages, though there are some finishing touches that still need to be done on that page, but it does feel like progress is getting made.

We're almost to the point that we need to revisit the script for the next issue. I don't want to get too far ahead of myself, but I'd like to keep it moving forward. Part of that will be based on the feedback we get.

People are willing to say they'll read it, but actually doing so seems much harder. Like me, they have other things they need to do. Still, I feel like a thirsty man waiting for an ice cube to melt so I can have a drink of water.

This coming week doesn't promise to be too productive, I'm afraid. I'm going to a concert Monday night and to an autograph session for a friend's book on Wednesday. Both should be fun, but those are hours I won't be writing. Less time = less output.

Sunday, September 11, 2016

A Week in Writing #107

Holidays don't necessarily mean more time to write. This past Monday was Labor Day and with three and half-days off from work, I didn't necessarily have more time to sit and write, even though I did write a 6000+ word review of Intolerance (1916) in an effort to post a review on the 100th anniversary of its release. Since I'm starting with Trophy Unlocked, I'll go ahead and reiterate that Wednesday nights are movie review nights for Saturday; posted one for Love on the Run (1936) starring Clark Gable, Joan Crawford and Franchot Tone.

Also used the holiday as an opportunity to reach out to the artist and the colorist of PowerSquared. I had hoped, as a stretch goal, to be done by then. But instead we only have 5 pages inked and only one page colored after more than a month; this doesn't bode well for us to ever make this sustainable. Received promises to do better, but hopefully we'll see an improvement in turn around. The artist did send three pages and a fourth we're still working through. The colorist did send a new page, but his promise to send more did not materialize.

Haven't heard back from anyone new on PowerSquared. I figured I would give them a couple of weeks before I followed up. I'm sure everyone is very busy and I don't want to come off as being a bother. It is a real tightrope that writers have to walk all the time. You want the feedback, but you want the reader to take the time they need. I'd rather have thoughtful criticism than rushed none comments like "Yep, that was 20 pages long. Colored and everything."

On the subject of writing, it looks like the rejections are coming in early this year. A while back I mentioned I was sending a new query to the agent that I'd met at a Writer's Conference who subsequently passed on that manuscript. This past Wednesday, that same agent passed on Public and Private; didn't feel passionate about my query. For those keeping score, I still have one query and a manuscript out.

Sort of slowed down this week by computer problems. The solid state drive in mine went bad when I was trying to install Photoshop last weekend. It took an entire week to get the computer fixed and then most of an afternoon re-installing drivers, programs, etc, so I could get it to work the way I want. Don't have everything back, but enough to work. Can't write without Word. Why can't computer repairs work like car repairs? When I take in my car, I expect them to buy the parts they need, but with computer repair, at least at Geek Squad, I have to be the one to provide parts. And even then, it's not really fixed until all the programs and drivers get re-installed.

My goal for the week is to finally finish that synopsis for Past and Present and send more queties; follow up with the people who've had PowerSquared for a couple of weeks; make more progress on Part 2 of said comic book and to start writing some reviews for Halloween, which is fast approaching. We've usually had four to five horror films reviewed during October. Not sure how many we'll get written and posted. But remember, these are goals.

Sunday, September 4, 2016

A Week in Writing #106

Started the week off with a rejection email. The agent was from the Writer's Digest issue about agents looking for clients, so I guess she wasn't looking for me. My query "didn’t grab" her enough to request a partial. My first rejection using the "new" format of query, so maybe it needs a little work.

If you're keeping score out there, there are still three active queries, one of which has requested the full manuscript. Once I finish the synopsis I'll revamp the query letter and send more. There's always more to do.

Still working a rewrite of the synopsis. Keep finding more to add to it so I'm afraid I didn't finish it this week either.

Sometimes I feel like I'm putting off the mystery novels in favor of the comic book. Reviewed some pages this week on Part Two, but progress seems to be glacially slow. Planning to address with the creative team this week. I had hoped to be done with Part Two by now and while that was a stretch goal, I don't want this to drag on for as long as Part One did. Impossible to think this can be sustainable when issues take months.

Had a setback with the coloring, when the changes we asked for on Page 1 came back but on a previous version, not the last one. It's the part of this that makes me feel frustrated. The artist, on the other hand, after some work on pages 5, 6 and 7 has sort of dropped from sight, at least he hasn't answered my latest emails.

This past week or so, I've sent and gave copies of Part One of PowerSquared to about five people. I emailed it to one person, sent it using We Transfer to another and handed it out on thumb drives to the rest. So far, I've only heard back from one and it was very encouraging. The main person I'm interested in has been on vacation until recently, which I think explains why the We Transfer is about to/already has expired.

Published a review of Lost in Translation. Readers of this blog will know the story behind the choice, even though I had written the review some months back. On Friday night, watched Intolerance and spent a good portion of Saturday and Sunday working on the write-up, which ended up being about 6000 words in length. Plan to publish on Monday the 5th, the 100th anniversary of the film's release.

My turn to have computer problems. On Saturday night, while trying to install Adobe Photoshop 14 from discs I ordered, my computer kept freezing up. Turns out that it is probably the beginning of the end of the Solid State drive, the same malady that plagued Paul's and my letterer's computer the previous week.

Luckily, I still have my old computer, a Sony Vaio, which already has a version of Photoshop installed on it. Another reason I try to keep the thumb drive I carry around synced with the files on my computer. I'm hoping that I can continue on without missing too much of a beat. I'm hoping that it won't take more than a few days to get my computer back, but in the meantime I can still work.

Sunday, August 28, 2016

A Week in Writing #105

Nothing like getting all dressed up and having no place to go. Finished the comic book on Sunday, but it was too big to email and I haven't heard back from the man I want to send it to about an alternative method. Got an email last Friday from an agent about sending her my manuscript, but they neglected to open my online submission so I can do it. Add to that and we haven't heard from the artist or colorist for a couple of days, even after pinging them. As Tom Petty once sang "waiting is the hardest part."

Speaking of waiting for no reason, Wednesday night got my thumbdrive back. Apparently the guy I gave it to never looked at it. I know he blames the FBI raid, see previous post, but in reality he's also said he was going to look at it on Thursday, a couple of days before the raid. Then he claimed he was having laptop issues and even after the raid he said he had access to two different computers, but still a week later, never had a chance to look at it.  Funny thing, when I was going to reuse the thumb drive, I noticed that there was an entire movie on the drive, Lost in Translation. Wasn't there when I gave it to him. He claims someone else did it, he's not saying who or why the thumbdrive was left unattended.

As a writer you want to share what you've written and get feedback, but there's a certain trust involved. As a reader you're supposed to safeguard the writer's work, not walk away and leave it up on someone else's computer.

Better things happened on Friday. To start with, the agent who contacted me through Submittable, got back to me and opened the portal. It was only after I uploaded the manuscript and closed the portal did I realize that they prefer Times New Roman and I had the manuscript formatted to Courier New. I wrote an email write away, but I haven't heard anything since. Not sure if they don't read emails over the weekend or what. Hopefully, it should be okay. Else, as I wrote her, I'd be happy to redo.

Also met on Friday with the development guy at the Comic-Con channel about From Fan to Creator. I don't think anything is imminent with it, but he didn't totally discourage me, even saying that he thought it was a strong pitch, especially for the first one I'd ever done. The channel hasn't gotten to Comic Books, which he hopes it will; nor are they looking at the moment for competition shows. But he did say he has it in a stack to look at if and when the time comes. He also asked me what else I was working on and I mentioned the comic book and gave him a copy of the Powerpoint I'd made the weekend before. Can't hurt. Of course, when I was making more copies this weekend, I found I had grabbed the wrong image for one of the pages. It's always something.

Things have been coming in dribs and drabs on the comic book. We're going back and forth with the artist on a couple of panels on one page. Still in the layout/pencil stage, so changes are relatively easy. Still, days go by sometimes between pages and I'm never sure why that is. I know I'm not the only paying client, but I don't know why there are several day gaps in between.

The colorist hasn't gotten past page 1. There have been consistency errors again. We compared page 20 to page 1 and the coloring on one of the characters seems to have changed. I think he's fixing, but he's even harder to figure out than the artist. I see he's looking for more clients, but I don't want to feel like I'm getting shafted as a result. During the summer, I had written to both with the stretch goal of being done by Labor Day. That looks highly unlikely given the rate we're going. I plan to write to both on Labor Day asking them to pick up the pace. The first part took far too long to complete.

My letterer's computer troubles continue. Geek Squad, where we took it after HP was of no help, even though it's under warranty, kept telling us to buy the wrong replacement parts. I don't understand why I have to buy these parts in the first place. When I take my car in for repair and they say I need a new radiator, they don't expect me to buy one and bring it in. Why does Geek Squad expect me to buy the parts, in this case a solid state harddrive? First they told us to buy any solid state hard drive, wrong. It had to be a particular type, which they told us and we bought. Only, you guessed it wrong. Today Paul's computer was having the same issue (can mine be far behind) and we found out the part we had ordered was also wrong. Turns out Geek Squad had two drives that would work, so the repairs should be done soon. But what a hassle and run around.

I began this week to rewrite the synopsis for Public and Private, but I haven't had time to finish it yet. I think I need a better one for some other agents I want to query. I'll admit to getting a little confused when an agent asks for a synopsis, since I don't know how long of a one they want. So I'm going to write the best one I can and use that. I actually think I was on to something with the rewrite.

Pubished a review on Trophy Unlocked for Titanic (1943), a Nazi propaganda film about the sinking of the famous ocean liner in 1912. Apparently, the English were a bunch of capitalist cowards and the Germans, mostly in steerage, were brave and honorable. Sort of an odd film. No new reviews this week.

Sunday, August 21, 2016

A Week in Writing #104

Took a break from the comic book on Monday and tried to play catch up with the queries for Public and Private. Well, no surprise the three outstanding queries went unresponded to by their "expiration" date. One of them has a follow-up mechanism via, so I did that and on Friday, I did hear back from her. She asked me to send the entire manuscript on, but I think she has to open the submission for me to do that. Spent an hour or so spell-checking before I realized I couldn't submit it by myself. A bit of a disappointment, but happy that someone is asking to see it. Of course, I will update here no matter how it goes.

Made updates to my query list based on the Writer's Digest issue. Going to give a couple of agents a second try, though I'd be pleasantly surprised if the outcome was different. Decided this would be a good time to rewrite my query letter since it appears to have underperformed so far. There is actually a sample "successful" query letter in the issue, so I'm going to try to mimic that in this go around of queries.

On Tuesday night sent out my first query using the new letter. Actually sent it to an agent I had met at a Writer's Digest conference several years back and who ended up rejecting the book I pitched. But I thought it might be an opportunity to try the new format, since I'm going in expecting a rejection, based on our track record.

The Trophy Unlocked blog posted it's 700th review during the week: DmC Devil May Cry: Definitive Edition. I think it's an important milestone for the blog, though without those Russian hackers our pageviews seem to be down. What have we done to upset the Ruskies?

On the subject of the other blog, Wednesday night while as I was preparing to send queries, I remembered I had to put up a post for Saturday. Even though it was already written, editing and adding photos took close to an hour. I did publish How I Won the War (1967) as this week's Saturday Morning Review.

Later in the afternoon, we published a review of Kubo and the Two Strings, which is currently out in theaters now. Interestingly, both films have a tenuous relationship to the Beatles. John Lennon stars in How I Won the War and Kubo uses a very effective version of George Harrison's While My Guitar Gently Weeps over the closing credits.

Managed to do a little more work on my review for Cafe Society, but it's going to have to wait until it's out of theaters. Also, planning on reviewing D.W. Griffith's Intolerance (1916) as Labor Day will mark its 100th Anniversary. Have never seen the movie and frankly I'm a little concerned about watching it, but that's fodder for a future post.

Did more follow up this week on my From Fan to Creator pitch. I know you're thinking it's been 10 months, if there was any interest I'd know by now and that's probably true. On the other hand, I get the sense I'm getting a little of the brushoff; since I'm an employee my idea isn't really being taken all that seriously. Well, it turns out with a little presistence and a lot of patience, you can get what you want. Finally able to nail the development guy down to an actual meeting, but it isn't until next week. I'll be sure to update this blog, so check back.

Thursday brought more pages from the artist on PowerSquared, layouts for pages 5 through 7. Our comments, at least we think so, were pretty minor. I'm never sure if we're actually pissing off (can I write that in a blog?) the artist or the colorist for that matter. I don't know what their expectations are, whether or not they think we should be happy with whatever it is they send us? Or are they expecting comments and feedback? There's a part of me that would like to know, but then we want what we want. I try to be nice about asking, but in the end, I am paying for it and as long as what I'm asking for isn't outrageous, I don't think I'm asking for too much.

Speaking of PowerSquared, we had a sort of a frustrating weekend. My goal is to wrap this up on Sunday and get it out, but:

My letterer's computer is in the shop, which I think we can work around, but it is an unwelcomed complication. Maybe that's the beauty of cloud-based software as hopefully he'll be able to continue making final changes on my computer.

Our colorist doesn't seem to be able to make a change we've been asking for for about 10 days now. Not sure if he's being obstenate or he simply can't make it work. We're going with the best one we have.

And the guy we gave a version to on Wednesday to give us his opinion, not only still hadn't four days later, but nearly lost the thumbdrive it was on to the FBI. Apparently they raided his home looking for pirated movies (his roommate apparently has 2000 illegal films on various harddrives). A really colorful story, but he didn't get it done. I spoke to him on Saturday after the raid and even though he still has access to a computer and knows what we're trying to do, the soonest he says he'll get back to me is Sunday night, which is too late for me. Sometimes the guy with the colorful personal story isn't the one you can rely on for help in a pinch.

All that said, we decided we'd taken this version as far as we could. With a few tweaks to the best cover, we put it to bed. Spent a good part of Sunday afternoon making pdfs out of TIFFs, again. Found a simpler way to do it, which made the pdfs smaller, but combined they are still too big to email to someone I'd like to look at it. Emailed him to see if there is an alternative method I could use that he'd be comfortable with.

So overall, I think I made some progress: got a response back from an agent, set a meeting with development on my months old pitch and finished a version of part one of the comic book. But with writing the only real progress is getting published, something that still eludes me.

Maybe next week...

Sunday, August 14, 2016

A Week in Writing #103

Sometimes I feel like I am my own worst enemy. I suffer from insomnia and have been fairly successful of late in regulating it. But the Sunday night into Monday is always the hardest for me. I'm not sure why, but it seems no matter what I do, I can't get to sleep. Sometimes it just takes a while longer, but there are nights when it is a no-go. You can imagine work the next day is not much fun, especially since I have an hour commute each way. I try coffee to keep me going, which doesn't help when I need to get to sleep the next night. It can really be a real hellish circle.

My mind won't turn off. I'm not sure if it's because I'm supposed to have lunch on Monday with someone I haven't seen in months and haven't really talked to in years. I mean we've sent emails back and forth, but never really anything of substance. We sort of ran into each other and made the "let's have lunch" commitment. That was literally months ago and it is only now that we've been able to meet up. The last time I was going to have lunch with someone like that I couldn't sleep the night before either. Am I such a slave to routine and anything that changes that throws me off?

The worst thing is, that it affects my writing, as I don't have it in me the next night to really do any deep thinking. I'll try, I sort of have to, but that doesn't mean there will be much progress and I feel the need to make progress.

Spent most of Monday evening working on nagging coloring issues. Not sure if the lack of sleep played a role or not, but got very frustrated that we're still seeing the same issues that we've been seeing over and over again. Not sure where the disconnect is, but I started to lose it. Things weren't helped by my computer acting up on me. I kept trying to add a jpeg to an email which apparently some software didn't like. Had to take another approach, but didn't need the added frustration.

Also, did a rough sketch to try to convey to our artist what we want that we're not getting. We'll see if a picture is worth a thousand words, since I couldn't get him to understand through writing it out.

Still having trouble getting to sleep. Not sure if I'm worrying about this comic book too much, but I can't turn my brain off night two. Did manage to get a little more sleep, though.

Tuesday night went a lot easier. Overnight into Tuesday morning, the colorist submitted corrected pages 11 and 13, so was able to pass them on to the letterer. He also included a corrected jpeg of the cover, which I forwarded on to someone else for comment.

The artist submitted a better page 4, though there was still some communication breakdown with panel 3, but I think it's quickly fixable.

Tried to use, but am frustrated by their submission process. Felt like I was always logging in, but not getting to where I was supposed to be able to. Their help is a delayed process, so I'm moving on without them.

With the comic book sort of in the background for the night, I'm able to get back to Simple Sins' revisions.

Wednesday night was slow for me. Nothing new to go over with the comic book, just waiting to get feedback on the cover. I spent what time I did on posting the Saturday Morning Review on Trophy Unlocked. I like to do that on Wednesdays so there's no real rush to edit it before it's published. This one is about the original Jurassic Park film.

Too tired to do much else. It was one of those nights where I woke up next to my laptop. The lack of sleep, even though it's gotten better every night, finally caught up to me.

Thursday morning, I emailed our creative team, the artist about new pages, the colorist about the cover, and the letterer about the tagline we want to use. Paul is always a part of every decision and while I try to involve him in most of the emails, I wanted to get these out before going to work; never sure what anyone's work schedule will be like, especially those on the other side of the dateline.

Thursday night was mostly spent on the comic book. Hopefully, we're getting close to putting Part One to bed. Last minute edit needed to the cover and since the colorist hadn't sent it yet, I didn't feel too bad asking him to make the change, Also prepped and sent him the first four pages with hopefully a detailed description on what we wanted the coloring to look like. Would like to avoid the coloring problems we had with Part One.

Friday is traditionally not a big writing day. As a family we watch a movie and eat pizza. This week's movie was the original Pete's Dragon. Not a real winner as far as we were concerned. Not sure if it's worth writing a review about.

Saturday morning finally saw Woody Allen's Cafe Society. Rather than doing a while it's still in the theater sort of review, thought I would take my time with this one and do a more detailed write up, which I might post after the film is out of the theaters and streaming on Amazon Prime, which is its eventual destination. So far, I've written about 1500 words, not sure how long it will get. Did post a Saturday morning review of Jurassic Park, a movie we watched to prep for last summer's Jurassic World.

Trophy Unlocked is coming up on its 700th review, an honor that goes to the founder of the blog. It's his due. I'm sort of holding things up, because I'm only about half way done with reading it. Will of course, tweet out when it's posted which should be sometime this week.

Did have a chance to go through the new issue of Writer's Digest. Every so often, they have an issue about finding an agent. I went through the list and marked ones that I would add to my query list, though I didn't get around to that on Sunday, which I had hoped to do. And even though we'd planned to stay home all day, there is always something to do. Today it was taking care of some bees that appeared to have been displaced when we had a tree trimmed on Friday. Priorities.

Spent a couple of hours, it seemed, working on making .pdf and jpegs out of the Tiffs for PowerSquared. Had to use my old computer, since it still has a suite of Adobe software on it. Not looking forward to having to rent software by the month, which is where it's going these days. Trying to put together a .pdf to show people. After the first go around, the file was a gig, much too large. Redid it with a low res files, rather than high res and it's less than 600 megs. An improvement, but I'm not sure what file type to send, so I also made jpegs while I was at it. With all that, I still have to do the cover when it is finally finished.

Next week, I want to get back to the queries and spend a little more time with Simple Sins than with PowerSquared. But as always, we'll see.

Sunday, August 7, 2016

A Week in Writing #102

Finally got back to looking at my query list. So far only one has expired. For this agent, in particular, this is three books and no response to any query. Maybe my query letter didn't make him feel good enough about his choice of professions. Of course, not hearing back at all really makes me feel good about mine. There are three more queries that have a week to go before they're ripe. Honestly, I'm not enthusiastic about these; probably would have heard something by now if they were interested. But in the spirit of fair play, I'll let these run their course before I give up completely.

Spent a lot of time, again, this week, on the comic book, though I can actually report we're getting close to the end of Part One. Coloring has been a bigger issue than I would have hoped, but except for one page and the cover, we're just about there. Now, it's back to the letterer, who has to redo much of his work thanks to file transfers, etc. There are a few people who have asked me about the comic book and I feel sort of lame telling them that it is still coming together. Seems like I've been saying that for months, but it has only been a couple of weeks. Still, I'm anxious to get this behind us and get some feedback on our efforts so far.

Part Two, which started out like gangbusters, has sort of stalled temporarily on page 4, panel 2. Trying to get the artist to understand our vision and we're not quite there. It's not really his fault, but these images are really important to the story and were major pieces in our pitch about the project when we were attending the Comic Creator Connection workshops. Really want to nail these for that reason.

Still reading Dynamic Story Creation. My goal is a chapter a night. Haven't really had an epiphany about my writing, but it is still early.

Did manage to make some progress on the rewrites for Simple Sins. At least I got through the first section where I had to actually write new dialogue and action. That had been a hurdle too high for me last week. I finally feel like I'm getting my land legs back under me after Comic-Con. Still have work to do and I still need to get back to my editor to let him know I hit a snag. Now it's me not communicating.

I also want to follow up with the Comic-Con HQ people about From Fan To Creator. My dream has been dampened but not extinguished and I really want to have a meeting about it. Maybe it goes on the backburner, but I'd like to know the strengths and weaknesses of the pitch, seeing how it was my first.

Published a couple of reviews this weekend. The Saturday Morning Review, as I've been calling it, was Hard to Handle (1933), another early James Cagney picture. On Sunday, in an effort to stay current, published one about Suicide Squad.

Trophy Unlocked is coming up on its 700th review, which is a sort of an accomplishment. Still need to figure out a movie for the milestone review. Open for suggestions if anyone wants to leave a comment (hint!).

Pageviews have also been way up recently on Trophy Unlocked, but I suspect it's Russian hackers or some such, that are inflating the numbers. Or maybe, we've just caught on there and Russian readers have gravitated towards our unbiased reviews. Yeah, it's probably that first thing I mentioned.

Sunday, July 31, 2016

A Week in Writing #101

Still recovering from Comic-Con. The experience really takes it out of you, both physically and mentally. On the physical side, we walked, according to the app on my phone, about 57 miles during the five days of the con. I think I got a case of plantar fasciitis in one of my heels as a result. It's getting better, but every so often that first step in the morning is really painful.

Mentally, it was hard to get my head back into work and by that I mean the job I do to make a living. As I wrote last time, I was creatively turned on by the experience and it was all I could do not to think about my writing during the 11 hours plus a day I spend away from home. Wrote some emails to people I'd met, but that wasn't enough.

Trying to pull together the last bits of part one of PowerSquared. Most of it is with the colorist and I know we've been pretty demanding here with his time. At the same time, the artist has started to work on Part 2, so we're having to judge coloring on one part and pencils and layouts on the other. Time-consuming on both sides, though it is always great to see progress.

Between feeling fatigued and the demands of the comic book, not much time has been left for much else this week. Did manage some work on Simple Sins, but I got to a place where I need to start doing some rewriting and I didn't have the energy to do it. And as much as I wanted to do more this weekend, I can't say I've been able to shake the call of PowerSquared to do much else. We spent several hours today going over the colored pages and new layouts from the artist, Only so much time to get too deep into anything else.

I have also begun reading Maxwell Drake's Dynamic Story Creation at night before I go to bed, trying to absorb as much as I can. Hopefully, I can take what I learn and apply it to the Simple Sins rewrites that I have to do.

Did post a Saturday Morning Review on Trophy Unlocked: Big Night, a 1996 film co-directed by Stanley Tucci and Campbell Scott and starring Tucci, Tony Shalhoub, Minnie Driver, Ian Holm and Isabella Rossellini. But haven't written anything new for a couple of weeks. Also wrote a somewhat belated review of Star Trek Beyond, which I posted on Sunday.

Hopefully, this next week, I can get back to other things on my to-do list, including working more on Simple Sins and updating my queries on Public and Private, which I'm woefully behind on.

Monday, July 25, 2016

A Week in Writing #100 - Report From the Front: Comic-Con 2016

Well, comics and Comic-Con have certainly been the focus of the week. This week in writing was extremely curtailed by the prep for and the attendance of Comic-Con. I know a writer is supposed to write a thousand words every day, but there are times when even the most gung-ho amongst us don't have the opportunity. And Comic-Con is one of those times. Days start early and nights end late, so there is little time to be making edits, let alone writing query letters or writing up something new.

With the exception of some typing up on edits for Simple Sins, and I'm about 30% done with that, everything has revolved around Comic-Con. The work week even started with an update on my TV pitch, From Fan To Creator, which was certainly out of the blue. The last email had been one I'd sent two months ago, so I'm not sure what prompted the sudden response. Non-committal, of course, the email did say my idea was "fun" although it did warn "we’re not specifically looking for that kind of series at the moment." There's the vague promise to chat after SDCC, but while I'm not giving up totally on the idea, I'm not quitting my day job either. The idea has been evolving in my own head, so I would welcome the opportunity to talk about it further. As they say, you never know.

Onto Comic-Con itself. If you've read my past posts about WonderCon and Comic-Con on this blog or on Trophy Unlocked, then some of this may sound familiar. 

The first thing you'll need to know about Comic-Con is that everything will take longer than you expect. For us, it started with the trip down to San Diego. Last year the trip took about three hours, this year it took four and a half, We left a half hour later, but there had to be something else going on. There were no accidents, just really slow traffic. 

For only the second time since we've started attending, this year marked our 10th time in 11 years, we were able to go to Preview Night. I won't mention names, but it's nice to have friends in high places. We arrived a few minutes late, since everything was getting pushed back, but the floor was crazy in a fun way. On our only other time, it was crazy in a really bad way. Mostly this was a scope out and exclusives buying spree. I won't go into the exclusives that we purchased, which is a part of every Comic-Con, but there were some that we wanted but could not obtain.

One of the things we like to do at Comic-Con every year is to have dinner at the Old Spaghetti Factory and we decided to do that on Preview Night. It only took about twenty minutes to get a table rather than the hour or more it takes during the Con. 

Even though we went back to the hotel soon afterward, it was a really late night. We didn't get to bed until after 2 am and got up about 4. The idea is to try to get in early once or twice to scoop up the harder-to-get exclusives. This didn't work, as even though we got to the Convention Center about 5:30 or so, the line was already about a mile long, or so it seemed. The other lesson is that no matter how early you get there, there is always someone who is ahead of you, as people regularly camp out way in advance.

At least we were ahead of all of these people.

While there is a lot of running around getting autographs and meeting people, for me one of the highlights was the panel: Comics PR & Marketing 101 led by Chip Mosher from Comixology. Apparently, this is a yearly panel, in which Chip and his guests, David Hyde (founder, Superfan Promotions), Hunter Gorinson (Valiant director of marketing, communications & digital media), and Hope Nicholson (publisher, Bedside Press) answer questions from the audience. While I didn't ask a question, what I learned did get me to thinking about our own comic book, PowerSquared, developments on, I'll get to later. The book itself is only part of the work that needs to be done. Anxious to get it out doesn't mean that's the best approach. I'm thinking we need to wait at least until Part 2 is completed before we start to release anything and even then, there are other steps that need to be taken to ensure it's a success. This panel really got me thinking.

Thursday night we attended some anime, which is a part of our tradition, so by the time we got back to the hotel, the restaurants nearby either had a very long line or they were expensive. We ended up at the Shakespeare Pub, which had to be the darkest place, as in low light, I can remember ever eating. Slow service didn't help either. Maybe it's me, but Comic-Con always brings out this sense that no one cares about your time. This was repeated at the Con several times when we were told to come back at various booths on the floor. As if our time meant nothing or very little to them.

The actress at one booth didn't make her call time at 10 am. "You know how actresses are," we were told, come back in half an hour. Don't professional actresses have call back times that they meet? Why not this one? T-shirts at one booth weren't there. "Come back in an hour or so, we should have them in by then." "Come back tomorrow and we'll sell you a box," the vendor at the Konami booth told my sons. But by the third day, and the third "Come back tomorrow" I told the guy we'll buy it elsewhere. In an environment like Comic-Con, where everything is pretty scheduled, being told to come back to spend your money not only throws off your schedule, but is a little insulting. Who likes hearing, "I won't take your money until later." If you want my money be ready and be nice, is that too much to ask?

The issue with Konami brings up another issue that we found happening several times at the Con. Exhibitors make promises that they can't or don't keep. Now maybe they've underestimated their own popularity, but when a booth promises some little trinket for free and then changes it to only when you make a purchase, or sells out before the morning of the last day of the Con (Fox and their Ryan Reynolds signed Deadpool Blu-Ray and VHS exclusive) then they're not planning things out very well. While that may not turn consumers off, as an example, who's going to hate Peanuts even though the booth couldn't handle their pin a day promotion, it still doesn't leave you with a good feeling about them. 

One of the great things about Comic-Con is that you get to meet new people and reconnect with old ones. Spoke briefly face to face with Chip after his panel, and sort of interrupted the set up of the first Comic Creator Connection to slap a howdy on Doug Neff and Corey Rothermel, I did run into other people I knew from work and from Facebook. Really enjoyed meeting Lee Oaks in Artist Alley, putting a face to the Facebook as it were. Lee had recently finished his own Kickstarter for a comic he's doing, Thunder Monkey, so I wanted to hear more about that. Also ran into Matt Patterson from Warner Archive a few hours before he was to lead a panel on Cartoon music and on the final day ran into Gary Teetzel, an old friend from my MGM days which made the Con complete as we see him every year.

Even though we were at the convention, the duties of our comic book were never too far away, as both the artist and the colorist sent us emails and pages to view; layouts and character designs for Part 2 from the former and revised pages and a first pass on the cover from the latter. Still haven't been able to find the time to look at, let alone comment on the color revisions for Part 1, Did write back about the layout and character designs. Based on what we saw, Part 2 seems to be off to a solid start. 

Still managed to post a review on Trophy Unlocked on Saturday morning: Star Trek III: The Search for Spock (1984). The title seemed appropriate since SDCC was celebrating the 50th Anniversary of the iconic TV show as well as hosting the premiere of the new film in the rebooted franchise, Star Trek Beyond. Nichelle Nichols was one of the featured signees in the Sails Pavillion and in addition to her signing a photo she was selling, also got her to sign the front cover of the Con's program, which features a drawing of Leonard Nimoy as Spock. (Signees are expected to sign the program for free.) Meeting her was definitely a highlight of the Con for me and my wife. As was meeting Genndy Tartakovsky, the man behind such animated series as Dexter's Laboratory, Samurai Jack, Star Wars: Clone Wars (2003) and Sym-Biotic Titan.

Genndy Tartakovsky was one of many creators doing signings at Comic-Con.
Almost as earth-changing as Chip Mosher's panel was, another one comes close to being as meaningful. On Saturday morning, Paul and I attended the The Writing a Story Using a 3-Act Structure panel led by author Maxwell Alexander Drake. While some of what Drake said I had head before, he was a very charismatic speaker and it never hurts to hear something more than once or in a new and entertaining way. Even though we had not attended the first two on Thursday or Friday, we were still able to pick up on his concepts of writing and even purchased his book Dynamic Story Creation, but also his CD presentation for The Anatomy of a Fight Scene. Even though neither Paul nor I had heard of Drake before, the panel was nearly filled. People ahead of us in line commented that people follow him. We were definitely in the minority as most, 90% plus, had seen him the two previous days. I just began to read the book, so I can't comment here too much about it, though I do like his no-nonsense approach. I think it will be helpful for both the mystery writing and for the comic book as well.

It's hard not to feel a little depressed after such an event. Let's face it, for most of us, our daily lives are anything but super and reality, given the state of the world, sucks. But Comic-Con provided more than just a break from the everyday, it reminded me once again of what I want to become. As much as I may love my job, it's not what I feel passionate about. When we left, I had to fight from literally crying as not only did I not want to go back to the humdrum, but I wanted to make a change in my life, both physically and professionally. Now I'm a man with responsibilities, so change doesn't come easily, unless of course we win the lottery, but I do know the direction I want to see my life go in and it's more than just north on the I-5 to Los Angeles.

Sunday, July 17, 2016

A Week in Writing #99

This has been one of those weeks when it seems like all electronics were working against me. It started with my cell phone, which I thought I had repaired on Sunday, but then discovered that my menu and backspace keys no longer worked. Tried to reset the phone, after trying every other solution I could find to try to fix the problem, but that caused a bunch more troubles. Contacts went away for a few days and I had to struggle to figure out how to get email back on the phone. When the contacts did come back, they were hotmail contacts, so numbers were lost for a lot of people.

Then on Tuesday, the worst thing possible, the thumb drive where I keep what I call my IP (meaning all of my writing) died. I always like to have copies of my writng with me in case something were to happen to the laptop and vice versa. Put the drive in the USB port on my laptop at home to do some editing on Simple Sins, but my computer suddenly didn't recognize it. Luckily, I keep a complete copy of everything on my laptop. Previously, I had on occassion lost track of the thumb drive, usually it had fallen out of my pocket in the car, so the panic, while quite real, was short-lived. Having learned from that, I made an effort to keep the thumb drive and the computer in sync. I may have only lost some photos from the internet for reviews, but it still hurt to lose the drive so suddenly. Not sure what happened, but while I recovered, I'm not sure I'll ever really trust again.

A lot of this week was spent prepping for Comic-Con next week. While I'm not the main organizer in the family, I'm still part of the planning and that seems to take precedent for the entire week and days leading up to the event.

Planned out my Saturday morning review post for that day. Don't want to spoil it, but it's going to be Star Trek related, seeing how its the 50th anniversary of the original series and the weekend the new movie opens. Did post a new review on Saturday on Trophy Unlocked: Our Miss Brooks (1956), a film version of the radio and TV series of the same name starring Eve Arden.

While I did some more updating on Simple Sins, most of my writing this week was spent on the comic book. The artist finished with the cover and Paul and I and our letter went through PowerSquared looking for coloring inconsistencies. We tried to be as thorough as possible looking for errors. The cover and the comic book are now in the hands of the colorist, so hopefully soon after we get back from Comic Con it'll be ready to go. In the meantime, started the artist on Part 2, so the process starts all over again.

And that's what writing is sometimes, finishing one thing and starting another. Didn't get everything I wanted to get done, but that's writing as well.

Sunday, July 10, 2016

A Week in Writing #98

Let's get the bad news out of the way, right away. One of my queries for Personal and Professional went unanswered and per the agency's website, the one month I would have heard from them, if interested, expired today. No big tears, I guess, but still a disappointment. But you've got to dust yourself off and get back on that horse.

Most of the week, once again, taken up with the comic book, PowerSquared. Part One is in a landing pattern, but not quite done. It seems like the heavy lifting is over, but there is still a significant amount of work to do. It's almost a little sad, but in a good way. I guess I always get sentimental when things start to wrap up. I was that way with editing Simple Sins.

But the comic book still isn't complete. The lettering is done, at least a first go; the coloring has been completed, though there will need to be corrections; and the artist is working on the cover, we finally came to an agreement on the layout. We're also working on logos: a banner for the cover and what I'm calling a "bug," a simple, hopefully distinctive, visual depiction for the book.

Sat down with the editor and letterer today and went through the book, making a few changes, but nothing too major. We may have a joke that's become dated with time, so we may need to update that and there are a few other minor changes.

Coloring will take more time to go through, as we want to make sure that it's consistent from page to page. Still have to go over it with a fine-toothed comb, so that will be time-consuming. My goal had been to have everything wrapped up by Comic-Con, but I don't think we're going to completely make that. I wasn't planning on showing it to anyone there, but I thought it would make a good deadline.

Finished revising the script for Part Two and once the artist is done with the cover, then we'll start on that.

I also began to work on typing up my edits on Simple Sins. I know there are some rewrites in my future, but I decided to do those as I get to them. Also wanted to have that done by Comic-Con, but I don't think that's likely either.

Published three reviews this week: One for the anniversary of A Hard Day's Night (1964) was what I like to call Stubs Goes Blu(-ray). My normal Saturday morning review was Movie Movie (1978), which just got a home video release in the U.S. Finally, did a review of The Secret Life of Pets, which opened over the weekend. Whew!

The week ahead promises more on the comic book and hopefully on Simple Sins. I should also make another query while I'm at it. Not sure if I need to rethink the letter or not. Writing can be so much work.

Sunday, July 3, 2016

A Week in Writing #97

Holidays are not always the friend of the writer. I know you're thinking all that extra time, but that's not all free and clear. If you're like me, there is family and errands that take up a good deal of the "free" time you supposedly pick up. I'm not travelling or there wouldn't even be time for this. And I'm not one that wants to shirk off responsibilities with family to write; yardwork "yes," family "no."

That said, this has not been a week that has really moved the dial too forward towards my goals. I mean every week is a step, just some are more baby steps than others. Let's start with the things I haven't heard back on: any of the queries or anything more about my show proposal. With no new queries this week, the count and amount remain the same, though one is getting close to going ripe without a response. Next weeks the numbers may change; I can still hope for the better, but experience has taught me otherwise.

While I'm sort of used to the agents not getting back to me, because hey that's how it is, the latter is still new and I'm not sure what to expect; radio silence wasn't one of the options. Not sure what to make of it. With Comic-Con coming soon and the obvious channel involvement in same, I will wait until after before asking again. I'm sort of hoping I'll run into the guy at the Con and can reintroduce myself to him.

Have now finished editing Simple Sins and the script for the second part of PowerSquared, but have felt a little under the weather and haven't actually gotten to making those updates on the computer. Hopefully, I will get some of that time tomorrow, the 4th, but not counting or expecting to get too much done.

The comic book is still in the wrapping up stage. Our artist is working on cover layouts. He sent us two which we passed on and has just sent us a third. We've only started ruminating about it, so it may take a day or so to think about it further. The cover, as you can imagine, is really important. Received page 17 from the colorist, with a promise to get us the last three pages soon. The letterer continues. I hate to say it, but there will be some changes/fine tuning on both fronts when we get to the end.

Finished and published a review of Independence Day (1996) on the anniversary of its release. If the response is any indication, then I can see why the sequel isn't doing better at the box-office. 23 page views are pretty good, I guess for a holiday, though, as a blogger, you always hope for more. Hey, I'm not writing these for my health. My well-being maybe, but health no. Currently working on a review of Movie Movie (1978), which was recently, last week, released on Blu-Ray, after not being out for years for home consumption or any consumption for that matter. About 2400 words into it since watching it on Friday. (Side note: It's hard to find images for the movie. Partly it's because it's been out of the public eye for decades; and partially because any Google search brings back anything that is a movie. Similar problem looking up the title on AFI or IMDb or through a grammar check program like Grammarly; it's not a mistake.)

Looking ahead, and I'm hoping someone will care, in a couple of weeks, I will be attending the oft-mentioned Comic-Con and will write about it upon my return. It may not be a Sunday post, however, depending on a lot of factors. I know, but once you get over the shock, I hope you'll forgive me if it's a day late. And that's still "if."

Sunday, June 26, 2016

A Week in Writing #96

Maybe it's me, but sometimes when I'm editing a book, I start to feel sad when I get towards the end. I'm about ten pages from being done and I'm starting to miss the process already. I'm going to have to do more editing, I know that, but I recognize this feeling in me, a little like getting ready to leave school at the end of the year. Of course, according to that analogy, I have to repeat it the next year. I know there are going to be problems with the book, even after I complete my editing and the rewrite that will follow.

I've been going through trying to tighten the book and fix errors. This version of the book is itself a rewrite as I've changed what had been more of a cold war style story to hopefully a more modern one. I want to say I wrote the first version about 25 years ago and updated it during my "off" work period. The revision doesn't all neatly work, but it's getting there.

Last night, I got to what I think is the best part of the book, the ending. I don't want to give too much away, but I think, even after all these years with the book, that it still works.

The comic book is moving along. The artist delivered the last pages on Tuesday so at least the pencil and inks are done. The artist has also been paid for a cover, though we haven't seen anything yet. My son and editor, Paul, is working on a logo. The colorist delivered page 14 with the promise of more, but that's as much as we've gotten this week from him. Meanwhile, the letterer is up to page 11, so he's about to lap the colorist unless things change quickly. Again, my goal, which is still obtainable, is to have part one of PowerSquared done by Comic-Con. I still think we'll make it.

One of the things that come up from time to time with the letterer is the wordiness of the dialogue. We're constantly having to revise/shorten the dialogue to fit the panels. Another reason I'm happy it's being done close to home. I tend to be wordy and it's my first comic book to write, so I knew this might be an issue. Trying to apply that knowledge, I went through Part Two and tried to see where cuts could be made. Not as painful as you might think, but I hope that it will help things go faster the next time around.

On Saturday, published a review on Trophy Unlocked for International House (1933), a W.C. Fields starrer. The real appeal though was Baby Rose Marie, who was making her feature film debut in the film, singing "My Bluebird's Singing the Blues." Rose Marie would grow up to be Sally Rogers on The Dick Van Dyke Show. I also readied a couple of more reviews for cover. Part of my Comic-Con prep, so to speak. I feel compelled to publish every Saturday morning, so I wanted to be ready.

Working on a review for Independence Day (1996) to coincide with its 20th anniversary on Saturday. I'm about 1400 words into it, so it should be ready.

On the query front, still have five out and within the drop dead date, the agencies say you will hear back from them by if they are interested. (The big if.)

Had some communication this week with a former employee who now writes for Pixel. He was complaining about what he has to write and I was telling him how lucky he was to be making a living doing what he wants to do. I guess it all depends on your perspective.