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."