Sunday, May 29, 2016

A Week in Writing #92

I decided to update the blog each day to show what I'm trying to do, sort of breakdown the week as it goes, rather than trying to remember everything in a rush on Sunday night.

Monday morning worked against me as I spent about as much time in a futile attempt to screw a handle back on a kitchen cabinet door as I did sitting behind the computer.

Did notice that our colorist sent us something, but will have to look at that tonight. Did tweet out about The Asphalt Jungle being released today in 1950, with a link to the review. And did look up some information on one of the agents I'd like to query. But I ran out of time to do that.

Well, the day didn't get much better. The water heater decided it was time to break down. While the boys were home and oversaw the plumbers' installation of a new one, there were still things to take care of when we got home. Debris to sweep up, water to clean up and, of course, stuff to put away. This delayed dinner, which delayed getting to the computer, so the day ended up being a little less productive than I would have hoped for.

Paul and I did go over what the colorist had sent us, which was more of a snapshot of page 7 in progress. Not sure he was expecting comments, but we gave them nevertheless. Managed to work a little on the review I need to finish, very little, and I managed to get in a little editing on Simple Sins, very little.

Overslept a little bit so the morning became compressed time-wise. Just enough time, about ten minutes worth, to work on the synopsis for the review I'm working on. A couple of paragraphs towards the cause, but not much else.

No overnight emails from the colorist or the artist. I should follow up on this.

With no new pages to look at, I had the time, but not the energy. By the time dinner was over, I had the stamina to work on the review. Did write about a thousand words on it, but that was about all I could accomplish.

Continued to work on the review on Wednesday morning, getting another 300 words done before I had to get ready for work. Tonight, I'm anticipating prepping another review for publishing on Saturday. That's how I've been spending most of my Wednesday nights. Not sure which review and how much work I'll need to do, but that's what I think will happen on Wednesday night.

Well, there were pages to review from our Artist. He sent them to us at about 9:30 in the morning our time, which meant we couldn't look at them for nearly 9 hours after I was back home. There were five pages all in various stages: Inked, penciled and layouts. We made comments on a couple of panels and replied back to him.

Also heard from our colorist, though I didn't see the email for several hours. He's been having computer troubles, which explains why we haven't been receiving pages.

I worked a little on my editing of Simple Sins (18 pages) and manged to pick and prepare a review for publishing on Saturday, Buster Keaton's The Cameraman (1928). Working on the review made me want to watch the movie again, but that will have to wait.

Woke up on Thursday and there was an email with attachments from our artist received after midnight. As much as I hate to do it, I have to wait for this evening to get into it. No time in the morning to really get into that kind of work.

Did manage to finish off the review for My Neighbor Totoro. Still need to pull down some images that would go with the review when it gets published. Perhaps that'll be a good Friday morning task.

Our artist sent us a new layout for page 20, which we reviewed and think will work better. Emailed him back.

Did spend some time gathering photos from the net for My Neighbor Totoro, which finally finishes that review off. I like to look for photos while the movie is somewhat fresh in my mind. I've had the issue before of going to look for them later and sometimes it's hard to remember when an action happened in the film. Best to do it now.

Managed to get up through page 140 with my edits. Simple Sins is not quite in as good a shape as I remember it being. It needs a lot of work.

Friday morning did a little research on a potential agent to query. Not a lot of time. Decided to wait until after the holiday to query since no one is going to look at it until next Tuesday anyway.

Fridays have traditionally been a slow day for me writing wise. End of the week, a couple glasses of wine and a movie pretty much eat up the time. Got off early today, pre-holiday Friday, but ran some errands: recycling and took a car in for repair and smog check, spent time with the family and relaxed. Feeling guilty, I decided to do some future research on a movie I want to review this summer, D.W. Griffith's Intolerance (1916). Not that I'm really looking forward to watching it, but I think it's a landmark film that I feel like I need to see.

Every Saturday morning, I try to publish a new review. This Saturday was no exception. I published one for Buster Keaton's The Cameraman (1928), the first film he made for MGM and perhaps the best.

Most of Saturday was spent doing things around the house, so I didn't get a lot of writing done, though did do some editing on Simple Sins. Feeling guilty about how long its taking.

Sunday I tweeted out about the release of Yankee Doodle Dandy on this date in 1942. I had two reviews I was attaching and since one included the Blu-ray from the Warner Archive, that increased the traffic on Trophy Unlocked.

The only writing I did was late this afternoon, about 3500 words on The Lady Vanishes (1938), which we watched on Saturday night after it languished on our DVR for about two years.

No new pages for a few days from the artist or the colorist, so we reached out on Sunday. The artist did not write back, but the colorist did and sent us his schedule. We're on for three days a week so we should be getting pages fairly regularly from him going forward.

Well, that was my week in writing, day-by-day. Somewhat typical, but at the same time each week is unique.

My goal for next week is to concentrate on the editing the comic book and to send out more queries.

Sunday, May 22, 2016

A Week in Writing #91

Well, promise kept. I did manage to send off one query letter early in the week. Sort of painless, but still time-consuming to try and get right. As an example, I wrote out a query letter in Word that I liked, but when I copied it into Outlook and sent it to myself as a test, there were spaces between all the lines and paragraphs, the same with the sample and the synopsis.

If you're looking at this blog for the occasional drop of advice, then here it is, send the query letter to yourself before you send it to the agent. That way you'll know what it looks like and can take steps to fix it. For me, I had to re-type the query letter into Outlook in order to get it the way I wanted it to look. I was able to play around with the spacing in Word to get the sample and the synopsis looking better. If it looks really bad you can add, and I have, a sentence explaining that the formatting might be off. I have to imagine that agents who want the first five or ten pages embedded in the email must be used to seeing odd formatting as a result. No harm in trying to make it look as nice as possible, but there are sometimes limits on what you can do.

As an example, I had a query letter for A Killer Blog that had lines in the email that turned blue. And unfortunately, one of the lines had to do with my hero, J.D. Barrister, noticing the shapeliness of a waitress in an underground bar. I forgot which line, but it had something to do with him noticing her cleavage and no matter what I did, the line was always blue in color, as if to emphasize the salaciousness of the comment. And I even tried re-copying the passage from Word, re-typing the passage directly in the email, but nothing worked, it was always blue. But knowing that I could at least make mention of the formatting and coloring as an unfortunate side effect of embedding. Now, since I haven't found representation for that book, I can't say if that hurt me or not.

Did make some progress on the comic book, but it's measured. It's still cool to see the pages taking shape, I only wish we were further along. Having an incomplete work is really holding me back from trying to talk to publishers about it. "Yeah, if you like these pages give me a couple of more months to get it done." I don't think that will fly. I'd like to see if we could possibly blow out the second part over the summer, but I'm not sure if that's possible.

Still no word back about my pitch to Comic-Con HQ. I gave them a week or so after the Beta launch to respond and then followed up mid-week. But no word by the end of the day Friday. Honestly, I think it's a good idea and it should at least get some thought before they dismiss it in favor of another show about former stars who make a living visiting conventions to sell their autographs. Does that sound bitter?

Feeling like I was on a roll, I contacted my editor to see if he was ready for another book. He surprised me by saying "yes" and now I have to scramble to get something ready to send. I thought I had a book ready to go, "Simple Sins", but when I sat down to look at it, it needs some work. I'm reading it/editing it now, hoping I can turn around a draft in a couple of weeks. I feel a little foolish since I thought I was really ready to go with something. Simple Sins is actually the first book I wrote with the character, but I've reworked it entirely once already. Still, I thought it was closer than it is.

Still writing for Trophy Unlocked. Working on a review of My Neighbor Totoro for the blog and am about 500+ words into it. Did publish a review of Girl Crazy (1943). I really like George and Ira Gershwin and am somewhat familiar with the Broadway musical the film is based on. But it is loosely based and well, you can read my review here, if you'd like.

So the week ahead holds the promise of progress on the comic book and Simple Sins and I will make a few more queries for Public and Private. And oh yeah, finish my review. It already sounds like I'm not going to have enough time for it all, but we'll see.

Sunday, May 15, 2016

A Week in Writing #90

Another week that seemed to be largely spent on the comic book, but with nothing really new to report as far as truly finished pages. Given the time difference between us and our artists, we will oftentimes receive pages after hours or during the workday, which means that we have to really wait until the evening to look at them. While it doesn't sound that hard, the review process is more complicated than it might seem.

Even if it's a layout, we have to compare it with the script and against other pages before. It's made a little more difficult when some of the pages have been out of order. We try to be thorough and then write back our comments in as clear a manner as we can. We're not always successful, but we're trying to get it right the first time.

The same is true with the colorist. We go through the preceding pages and try to make sure there is consistency between related panels and pages. And there are sometimes things we don't catch the first time. It helps that we have fairly easy to work with and understanding artists, but it still seems like a slow process.

One other note on the comic book, the copyright we applied for near the end of October for the script finally came back this past week. Seven months is actually a quick turnaround, even though it seemed like forever waiting for it to come through.

Did finally complete the short synopsis for Pubic and Private. One of the reasons I wanted to complete it is I'm trying to use a website called, but for some reason I think I'm missing a step somewhere along the way. It's not as user-friendly or as intuitive as I would have hoped. It took multiple tries before it finally accepted my first and last name. And then when I was ready to submit, it said it had already submitted to the agents and publishers I was connected with. When did that happen? My guess is that I'm going to be better off with the old-fashioned query method.

Got close to sending one out, but I'll admit that I got cold feet. I truly dread the process after two failed book efforts prior.

Did continue to update Trophy Unlocked, publishing two reviews this weekend. The Saturday review was for Laurel and Hardy's The Music Box (1932). On Sunday, published a short review for Keanu, an action comedy that is currently out in theaters. Honestly, neither has really been well viewed with only 8 pageviews a piece as I'm writing this. But blogging is a marathon, not a sprint, I guess.

Next week, hopefully, more progress on the comic book and I promise to actually send a query or two, but please remember, promises are made to be broken.

Sunday, May 8, 2016

A Week in Writing #89

Busy week in writing, though mostly revolving around the comic book. Great progress was made this week on pages from our artist. We're now up to page 16 with inks, with four pages to go to complete that first step. The colorist is also making progress, but this has been a banner week for pages, after a drought of about three weeks with nothing new completed.

Got some good feedback from Paul on edits part 2. Had to make some minor story changes to match what has changed in part 1. Nothing too major, but it was a good chance to revisit some of the dialogue and action. I think we've made it better.

Met on Friday afternoon late with an artist, who is a friend of a friend. He recently published a graphic novel and was willing to look at what we had and give us some advice. He seemed to like the art we had so far, which is a good sign. And he gave us some advice as well on how we could proceed. Overall, a good time.

I hate to say it, but the comic book does take a lot of time and sort of dominates the evenings when there are pages to review and for several days this week we had pages. It sort of takes a certain amount of creative energy to review and make comments.

Did resend my pitch about From Fan To Creator. No meeting yet, as the site, Comic-Con HQ, was going to Beta on Free Comic Book Day. They said we'd talk afterwards, so hopefully in the next week or two.

That said, I did make a breakthrough on a short two page synopsis for Public and Private. Still need to go back and edit it, but there was progress made; I can say that with an honest expression.

Got an email from Writer's Digest hailing a service called, which is supposed to link writers with agents and publishers. I signed up, but I'm not sure if this is really better than going about it the old-fashioned way. Something new to explore. Hopefully better results.

Did write and publish a review on Saturday for Charlie Is My Darling, a documentary from 2012 that details the Rolling Stones 1965 tour of Ireland. Back then, the film never made it off the festival circuit, but it finally got  a release a few years ago. Also wrote and published a review of Captain America: Civil War, which just opened this past weekend.

As always, I hope to get more done next week.

Sunday, May 1, 2016

A Week in Writing #88

Well, plans are made to be broken. While I had big ones for this past week not all of them came true.

First, there was the comic book. Big flurry of pages over the weekend. We realized that it had been three weeks since we had gotten finished pages from our artist and suddenly, it was like opening a dam and letting the water out. That doesn't necessarily equate into finished pages, but it at least shows our artist is still active with the book. Even though we're paying him to do the work, we've been burned too many times before not to be nervous when we don't hear anything for awhile.

The book seems to be coming together in jumps and starts. We've got pages outlined up to page 15, but we're still waiting for page seven. I'll admit that sometimes it's hard to keep everything in mind and I had proof of that last night, when I forgot that we'd received a certain layout three weeks ago that we now received inked pages for. Seeing it finished and against the layout for the next page, left us thinking it was a mistake, but it turns out that it was our fault.

We did receive a couple of colored pages, so there is some progress on that end as well. We're learning a lot about what we don't knew about comics, but we're pleasantly surprised at the reception some of our questions receive.

Tried to work on the short synopsis for Pubic and Private, but having trouble trying to put it all into 2 to 3 pages. Still trying different methods of getting into the story, but not getting it done. So, no queries either this past week. I've got to make this a priority. There I go making plans.

Did finish two reviews this week, but not necessarily the two I thought I'd work on. Did complete the other film noir we saw in the theater, Take One False Step (1949), but still not done with Kind Hearts and Coronets. Somehow, I'm finding that one hard to write, not sure why. But I did finish one for The Music Box (1932), the famous Laurel and Hardy short. I did publish a review of Purple Rain on Saturday.

I did follow up on Friday about my TV series pitch. I know they're busy, but they seemed receptive to at least seeing it. I'll email it to them on Monday. I haven't really changed much, if anything about it since I first submitted it in November. I did register it with the WGA in the meantime.

So, things continue per normal; I make plans, but they don't always come to fruition, or at least not in the manner I intended. But Monday is the start of another week and hopefully I'll get to some of what I plan to do in the way I intend.