Sunday, December 31, 2017

A Week in Writing #175

This was sadly the week that almost wasn't for me. I can't blame this solely on the holidays, either. My wife and I both came down with what I assume was food-poisoning after our family ate out on Christmas Eve. It didn't really come on to me until late on Christmas Day and didn't let up for a couple of days. Things got pushed back, even Movie Day, which is our traditional day after Christmas day to veg and watch movies.

So basically, I lost about half of the week and really haven't gotten much done. Before I fell under the spell of sickness, I did finish the chapter I was working on in Familiar Stranger, but not much more I'm sad to say. The count and amount, if anyone besides me is keeping track, is 61,334 words and 328 pages. I had higher hopes.

No new reviews this week either. On Movie Day, we watched three films that I think will result in reviews from me for Trophy Unlocked: The Man Who Knew Too Much (1934); Time Bandits and Beggars of Life. The latter film is the one I've begun working on. A silent film which stars Wallace Beery, my main interest is the lead actress Louise Brooks. I was given a book about the film for Christmas, Beggars of Life: A Companion to the 1928 Film which I've since read as part of research for the review. The book is surprisingly thin but does provide some depth I couldn't find anywhere else. It also pointed me to an essay Louise Brooks had written, On Location with Billy Wellman, which is also about her experience with the filming. I had read this essay before, but read it again as more research for the review.

In the meantime, worked on my end of the year list, which was published earlier today, along with those by the other two writers on Trophy Unlocked. See Paul's here and Trevor's here. With nothing new to show, published Twins as the blog's last Saturday Morning Review of the year. (Our 825th since the blog was founded.)

At the end of that review, I put a link to our own story about twins, Powers Squared (see what I did there?). To that end, my big accomplishment of the week with the comic book was to register Issues 3 through 5 for copyright and sending the script for the next two issues to the artist and the colorist. Funny how sometimes even small accomplishments can seem huge. But that was the week that almost wasn't.

Well, this is the time of the year when you're supposed to say I want to be sure to write more in the coming year, but that goes without saying; that's my goal every week.

So to everyone out there, Happy New Year and may 2018 be creative and productive for you.

Sunday, December 24, 2017

A Week in Writing # 174

With the holiday coming quickly, I wanted to take a few minutes to play catch up with this week in writing. Things begin to slow down towards the end of the year and while I try not to let that happen to me I know that there are times when I don't take advantage as much as I should.

Finally did deliver the next three issues of Powers Squared to our editor at ComiXology, where issues #1 and #2 are still available for purchase. Hopefully, things will go well and there will be some sort of push prior to it getting published.

I also did make some updates to powerssquaredcomicbook.com adding in the cover, credits, and logline for Issue #3 and some other minor edits. Webdesigner is not a skillset that I brag about and every time I make a change I always have to ask myself, "How did I do this last time?" But I did promise I would make updates, so I felt I had to keep my word.

No new reviews were written this past week, but I did publish our last Christmas review of the season, Miracle on 34th Street, on Trophy Unlocked. There will be opportunities later in the week, as we spend the day after Christmas watching movies, so hopefully, something will shake out. I also still have to write an end of the year in review piece, so there will be more work to be done on Trophy Unlocked.

Trophy Unlocked celebrated its 7th birthday on Monday with a review of The Last Jedi on Monday. We celebrated the 80th Anniversary of Disney's release of Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs with a review hub devoted to Disney's Animated Features and their live-action remakes. On Friday, we posted our fourth of four reviews of the classic video game series Ty the Tasmanian Tiger with a review of Ty the Tasmanian Tiger 4.

As far as the rewrites on Familiar Stranger, I'm happy to say I have made some progress. I'm currently working on page 322, but I'm up just over 60,000 words. I've done some original work on a couple of chapters and as I'm going I'm making changes which, as always, I hope are making it better. I'm just about to the same spot that has given me issues in previous rewrites of the book, but I've done some rethinking on this stretch, so I'm hoping with some time during the week I should be able to get past it but that will be fodder for next week.

I'm not going to try to set any goals for the week, or at least not ones I'm going to cop to this week. But in the meantime, I want to wish everyone who reads this blog a Happy Holidays.

Sunday, December 17, 2017

A Week in Writing # 173

Well, we're getting down to the wire with the Christmas holidays fast approaching. All the cards have been sent and most, but not all, the presents bought. So thoughts turn to writing when I have the opportunity.

To keep with the spirit of the holiday, let's start with Trophy Unlocked's third Christmas review of the season: Scrooge (1935), an English film starring Sir Seymour Hicks, an actor who played the role on stage about 2000 times. Last year, we reviewed four other adaptations of Charles Dickens' A Christmas Carol, so this is one that we hadn't reviewed. We also published a vintage video game review Ty, the Tasmanian Tiger 3: Night of the Quinkan on Friday.

Trophy Unlocked celebrates its 7th Anniversary tomorrow with a review of Star Wars The Last Jedi, a film which we saw on Sunday, in 3-D at the Cinerama Dome in Hollywood. You'll have to wait until tomorrow to find out what Paul thought of the film.

Worked this week to finally finish the three-issue arc of Powers Squared. Lettering issues aside, I found a coloring error on one panel in the the third issue, something minor, but it took two days to correct. I used the colorist who had done the work since I thought it would be easier for her to make the correction.

I had wanted to submit the comic book to a short story contest and the deadline was Saturday at 11:59 pm. I had everything finally put together in a five-issue pdf with only a few minutes left and then I couldn't connect. I was getting an error on the second page of the process. I wrote to the contest with a screenshot showing the issue and, to their credit, they let me submit late but talk about cutting it close. Not sure what to expect, but I wanted to at least try to see how it might do.

Next up, I need to spend some time on the website, so look for those changes in the next week.

With Familiar Stranger, I managed to make some progress and actually got into some real writing on it. I'm working on a new chapter which I decided to add during this rewrite. I'm currently up to 48,000+ words, which is about 6,000 words further than I was last week. I'm hoping that with Powers Squared finally put to bed and now new reviews for Trophy Unlocked, I can concentrate my writing time, when available, to this work.

Sunday, December 10, 2017

A Week in Writing #172

Before my writing turns to Christmas cards, I want to take a little time to catch up with the week that was. Managed to spend some time on all the projects, including Powers Squared, Trophy Unlocked and Familiar Stranger.

For Trophy Unlocked, I decided to get all of this year's Christmas reviews ready to publish over the next two weeks. Saturday's post was Running Scared (1986) a second buddy cop film set in and around Christmas, what we like to call on the blog, drive-by Christmas films.

Finished off two other reviews, which are more traditional fare: Scrooge (1935) and Miracle on 34th Street. Those two reviews, 1400 and 4000 words respectively, will appear over the next couple of weeks and be added to our Holiday film hub. I wrote a couple of additional reviews, one for Justice League, which I will publish sometime next week. I know that the film has been out, but it was not a priority for us to see, as we had other agenda items ahead of it. Even though we're done for this year as far as Christmas movies go, we did watch one Christmas film on Friday that I wrote about for next year's holiday season, Babes in Toyland (1934) with Laurel and Hardy. Talk about planning ahead of time, but it will show up eventually on the blog, most likely in a year or so.

We made some additional progress on our next three issues of Powers Squared. Now that our letterer, Trevor, had finished his work, Paul and I went through issues 4 and 5 and made edits, some about moving the dialogue and telepathic bubbles, but others adding or editing what is already on the page. There is nothing quite like seeing it "finished" to make you want to make changes. I think Paul and I were both a little disappointed with some of the artwork, which despite our best efforts is not always what we wanted, but sometimes you have to close your eyes, grit your teeth and move on, which we have done. I'm still hoping to get everything wrapped up by the end of next week.

Familiar Stranger wasn't left out either, though I never seem to get as far as I would like. I'm a little short of 42,000 words, only about 3000 more than last week, but I'm hoping with less reviews to worry about, I'll be able to make more progress between Christmas cards and shopping. I did come up with an idea for a section I'm coming up on, which might help me get past the hump I find myself coming up against. I know I have an ending in mind, it's setting it up that has been my Achilles heel on this book. I don't think I'll get it done by the end of the year, but I'm hoping to make some really good progress before we sing Auld Lang Syne.

Here's hoping you can find the time to get to your own writing even as the year comes to a close.

Sunday, December 3, 2017

A Week in Writing #171

Well, the holidays seem to be getting into full swing, which of course means less time for writing. I get the feeling that's going to be my running complaint for the rest of the year. Not that I have anything against holidays, I mean who hates Christmas, but it does really cut into writing. That and just being tired, that doesn't help either. In the battle for time, writing is a hard sell when there is family involved and that's a big part of the holidays.

All that said, I did get some rewrites done on Familiar Stranger. I'm now up to 38250 words and 208 pages, which is about 7250 words and 40 pages more than last week. Which if we're going on the 1000 Words a Day goal, then goal accomplished. Thank you, I'm here all the time; mike drop. Still, I haven't worked on the book for several days.

Things got off the track on Thursday when I spent the evening watching my Cowboys play and beat the Redskins. So one night lost. Friday is movie night so once again, writing takes a backseat. Saturday was the aforementioned tree buying and house decorating and Sunday was grocery shopping, a movie (finally saw Justice League) and more Christmas shopping.

Progress was made on Powers Squared as our letterer finished the last page of Issue #5. We're still a couple of covers and inside pages short, but we're getting there. I'm going to begin reviewing them tomorrow. I've been negligent with passing on the color guide to our new colorist, but sometimes there are only so many things you can do in a day or a week. This coming week for sure.

As far as Trophy Unlocked, we published two reviews, one for a video game, TY the Tasmanian Tiger, and the other our regular Saturday Morning Review: Lethal Weapon; part of our annual salute to Christmas. Lethal Weapon may not seem like an obvious choice, but it is a buddy cop film set in and around Christmas. The season is somewhat muted since it is also set in Los Angeles. No one is wishing for a White Christmas here.

I did work on a review for later, Miracle on 34th Street (our Friday movie). I'm about 2000 words in, but not done. The same with Scrooge (1935), worked on but not completed. Next week, I need to finish those reviews, perhaps write a new one for Justice League, edit three issues of Powers Squared and get some more work done on Familiar Stranger. And oh yeah, enjoy the holiday season with all the time left over.

Hoping you manage to be productive with all the demands on your time. It's hard, I know, but you've got to try.

Sunday, November 26, 2017

A Week in Writing #170

Just as I suspected, time was hard to come by this week. Holidays don't provide a lot of alone time that writers need to create. There's the driving, the eating, the game, more eating, talking, more eating, shopping, more eating and then a return drive home. (Do you see a pattern here?)

I did manage to do some rewrites on Friday after spending the day shopping and between meals. I sat down at one of the tables and while people watched basketball in one room and a college football game in the other, as well as carrying on a long distance call in front of me, I did get through two chapters of Familiar Stranger. I don't know if this is usual, but I tend to read aloud the dialogue as I'm rereading/rewriting it, wanting to hear how it sounds. That's sort of awkward to do with so much going on around me, but I sort of whispered the parts as I went through them. I wasn't trying to get attention with what I was doing, rather I wanted to get some work done.

I'm trying to be systematic about this rewrite, only adding back in the chapter I'm working on so I can tell you I'm up to about 31,000 words and 168 pages. I'm guessing that I'm about a third of the way done, judging on the other books being about 100,000 words and 500 pages.

Everything took a backseat to the holiday, which means I didn't get much further with my review of Scrooge for Trophy Unlocked, but I did complete and publish the review for 36 Hours (1965) as part of our Saturday Morning Review. It was a little-hurried posting on Twitter and Facebook about the review that morning, but I did get through it. No matter what is going on, I'm trying to be consistent with my self-imposed deadlines, including reviews for Trophy Unlocked.

To celebrate the original publication of Alice in Wonderland by Lewis Carroll, the blog posted a review hub of the films and video games we've reviewed based on the story. A little embarrassed to say that we don't have a review of the Disney Animated Classic, but that's something we'll have to correct next year.

Not a whole lot new happened with Powers Squared. Everything is done save for the lettering for the next three story arc. While we were around family over the holiday I cajoled two nephews (grown men) into buying the first two issues off of Comixology. Always Be Shilling!

Our last colorist did send us an updated color guide for Powers Squared, including the issues she did and the characters and places that were new to that story-arc.

Well, that about wraps up this abbreviated week in writing. Hope you found some time for your own work in between pieces of pumpkin pie.

Sunday, November 19, 2017

A Week in Writing #169

This may be the last complete week of the year before the Holidays totally take over, and while some good things were accomplished, there is still a lot that didn't get done. This may be a rather short post this week as I just don't think there is, sadly, that much to report.

As I wrote last time, I put Familiar Stranger aside for most of the week. The last time I touched it was Monday night. I'm up to a little over 23,000 words and 125 pages. I'm not happy that I wasn't able to get back to it, but I kind of figured that was what was going to happen. Next week is a short week, with travel and Thanksgiving on Thursday, shopping on Friday and a return trip on Saturday, so I'm not hopeful about getting much done.

Part of the reason is that I need to finish a review for Trophy Unlocked for Saturday on Tuesday rather than later in the week. I'm close to completing one for 36 Hours (1965), a film we watched on Friday night. It's a little bit of a juggling act since we won't have our usual movie night this Friday, thanks to being away from home for Thanksgiving.

I'm also working on one for Scrooge (1935), a film we watched the previous Friday. That one will come to play in December when Trophy Unlocked focuses in on Christmas.

Trophy Unlocked's Saturday morning review this week was Godzilla (2014), a film we watched on the anniversary of the original Gojira's release in Japan.

The other project that got attention this past week was Powers Squared. Our search for a new colorist was finally completed, so we're excited about that. I don't mention names without permission so I won't say who we selected. As we launch into Issue #6, we're going to have a somewhat new creative team. Not sure how all that will play out, but we can go through that together.

Right now, we're pretty close to finishing off this story arc. We have almost all of the artwork and we're still missing a few pages of lettering, but I'm hopeful we'll get it all done in the next couple of weeks.

Well, that about does it for this week. Hope you have a safe and Happy Thanksgiving. And try to write when you can.

Sunday, November 12, 2017

A Week in Writing #168

Time once again for my weekly ramble on the progress I've made on the various writing projects I've given myself.

I can report that the time change didn't mess me up as much as I thought it would, though getting a cold in mid-week didn't help. Even though it wasn't a major one, it does tend to slow you down.

Despite that, I did make more progress on Familiar Stranger this week. I'm up to about 23,000 words since the Writer's Digest Novel Writing Conference. I feel more excited about this rewrite as I feel I am somewhat renewed in my interest and I feel like I have more of a purpose. I even managed to do some work on it at lunch at work, which is something I rarely if ever do, but I was in the zone so why fight it? I've just written past my first major plot point, the sudden disappearance of the protagonist's girlfriend and am working on the second act at the moment.

All that said, I may have to put it aside for a few days while I play catch up on other projects. I only get a couple of hours a day, so I have to divide my time accordingly.

I feel like I'm behind on my reviews for Trophy Unlocked. I started but have not yet finished a review for Godzilla (2014) and I have a review to write for Scrooge (1935), the first of our December-Christmas ones. I did publish one for The Letter (1929) on Saturday morning and one this afternoon for Thor: Ragnarok, which we saw over the weekend. I know we're about a week behind, but that's all about real life taking precedence, as we had other plans for the weekend it opened. The same will be true for Justice League as that film will have to wait for the weekend after Thanksgiving.

As far as Trophy Unlocked goes, our page views are back up from where they were at the end of the summer and up to around 800 a day on average. I think a lot of it has to do with school being back in session, as our review of Romeo and Juliet has received about 410 page views so far this month. At least it feels like someone is reading our review blog.

Powers Squared is wrapping up Issue #5. We have a cover in the works, which also still needs to be colored. And there are still pages for the letterer to finish and then a final review of the three issues before I feel like we're done. My goal is to have everything completed in mid-December so I can enter it in a short fiction contest. I feel five issues would put it in better stead than only two.

There are some changes in the works, but I'm not ready to go into those, but we're hoping to make Powers Squared going for the foreseeable future.

Well, that's about it for this week. I hope your own writing projects are going well.

Sunday, November 5, 2017

A Week in Writing #167

Last week's Writer's Digest Novel Writing Conference really had a very positive effect on me and helped me to focus on my rewrite for Familiar Stranger. I know I've been mentioning this rewrite like forever, but this time I feel like I have a purpose. I've rearranged some chapters, deleted some passages I really liked, but which didn't work to keep the story moving forward and I feel like I'm making smarter edits. I've been trying to do a chapter a day and I'm up to a little under 17,000 words so far.

I don't have a deadline date, but I would really love to be done by the end of the year. As a writer, you always like to think you're getting better and at least with this one, I feel like I am. That's a good feeling.

In the meantime, I think we're closer to wrapping up the next story arc of Powers Squared. This past weekend, we received the final page from our artist for Issue #5. Our colorist has the last four pages and our letterer is more than half-way through the issue. There are still some covers and corrections to go through before they're done, but there is a feeling that we're getting close.

Our search for a new colorist is pretty much complete. We asked four "applicants" to submit their version of a page from Issue #2. We're waiting to hear from everyone we asked to judge, but there is one candidate that I believe we will ultimately go with.

Soon, we'll have to turn our attention to Issues # 6 and 7, the next story arc.

Continued work on Trophy Unlocked. Published Side Street (1949) as our Saturday Morning Review as well as a salute to Noirvember, a month when many review bloggers turn their thoughts to the dark side. Maybe it's the pending holidays that bring it out with reviewers. While we love film noir at Trophy Unlocked, or at least this review does, I'm not sure we're going to be able to participate every week in the endeavor.

With Christmas coming, our thoughts turn to our holiday films and we only have one down so far and limited weeks to see them. In the meantime, there will be new films as well.

Did complete a review of Twins (1988) for future use and watched Godzilla (2014) on the anniversary of the original Gojira's release in Japan, so there is another one to write this week.

The object is to keep things moving forward on all fronts. This coming week, I'm hoping to keep the momentum up on Familiar Stranger as well as continue work on Powers Squared and Trophy Unlocked.

Of course there are always obstacles besides the usual ones: work and commuting. To begin with there is the time change to deal with. In the past that's sort of wierded me out for a few days, so that might effect my usefulness when I get home from work. And on Tuesday night, I'm considering going to a How to Pitch a TV Show seminar which means that will be a night when little will else gets done.

But that's all in A Week in Writing, because if everything went smoothly there wouldn't be much to write about.

Sunday, October 29, 2017

A Week in Writing #166 - Report From The Front - Writer's Digest Novel Writing Conference 2017

This was a week in writing where craft took precedence over practice. My son, Paul, and I attended the Writer's Digest Novel Writing Conference in Pasadena this past Friday, Saturday, and Sunday. The conference, which was mostly programs devoted to Craft, Character, Genre and Beyond (Revisions, Querying and Publishing), was a chance not only to learn from other writers and professionals but also to mingle with other writers. (Being the introverts that we are, the mingling not so much.)

Being in the seemingly endless round of revisions on the oft-discussed Familiar Stranger, I found the conference to be really informative and energizing. I would find myself sitting listening to someone talk about the inciting incident and then couldn't wait to get home to start moving chapters around to get to the first hook in the story.

I attended the following programs: Ten Ways to Create Compelling Characters (Even Unlikable Ones) by April Eberhardt [Character]; Make Your First Chapter Matter by Sophie Littlefield [Craft]; Page-Turning Secrets for Thrillers and Suspense by James Scott Bell [Genre]; Your Submission Questions Answered by Laurie McLean, Holly Root, Patricia Nelson, and Taylor Haggerty [Beyond]; Plotting for Pantsers by Rachel Herron [Craft]; Making Your Setting a Character by Susan Meissner [Character]; Mystery/Thriller Panel with Liz Fenton, James Scott Bell, David Corbett and Nina Sadowsky [Genre]; Writing Conflicted Characters: How to Dramatize Mixed Motive & Other Contradictions by David Corbett [Character]; Fearless Writing by William Kenower [Beyond]; Writing the Perfectly Imperfect Character: The Character Cues Technique [Jordan Rosenfeld]; and The Four Perspectives: A System For Revising Everything From One Chapter to a Whole Manuscript by Jennie Nash [Beyond].

Not all programs are created equal and some are more informative than others. Many seemed to have to rush through their presentation, one presenter said that she normally takes 6 hours to do this hour-long lecture. Several seemed rushed or cut-off. One presenter seemed very disorganized. Most seemed to at least have a book or two or three to sell or promote, several of which were not surprisingly available for sale at the convention. That, however, is par for the course as that is also true at Comic-Con.

Perhaps the most inspirational was William Kenower's Fearless Writing, trying to free the writer from worrying about what someone else will think while you're writing. It's supposed to be easy to write, but many writers hamper themselves by worrying about what someone else will think. Try not to do that. And part of the fun is not necessarily knowing where the story is going, so let yourself be surprised.

Several things were repeated over several programs, including common sense items like the three-act structure, though one pushed it to four by splitting Act 2 in half. It may seem like a formula, but it works. As James Scott Bell noted, you won't make an omelet with a watermelon. Readers have certain expectations that as a writer you should be addressing.

Characters were also discussed in several programs. The more you know about your main and secondary characters the better, though I'm not sure I want to interview them or write extensive biographies about each one. The important thing is not to tell the reader everything about them in a block of exposition, but to let their flaws and strengths come out through dialogue and action.

I'm too much of a pantser to do that much planning, but I've been working with my two main characters long enough and over several unpublished efforts that I really think I know them pretty well. But being reminded to tell and not show never hurts.

I also got a better perspective on agents. Hearing them speak made them seem more human. They don't want to necessarily reject you, at least the ones who attended this conference said they didn't. But a new agency, two of the agents of which were there, said they got 300 queries a day for the first couple of months. That seems like an impossible feat to get through. They did stress that the query guidelines on their websites should be followed since that's how they're pipeline works. As an example, if they ask for no attachments, it's because it slows them down to have to open them. A good lesson is to try to give them what they're looking for as far as genres and submissions.

The Romance Writers of America was touted more than once as an organization worth joining, even if you don't write romantic fiction. There were also several other conventions and websites mentioned, too numerous to mention here, but I guess there is always strength in numbers. Unfortunately, I'm more like Groucho Marx and wouldn't want to belong to any organization that would have someone like me as a member. Heck, I didn't attend any of the mixers that the conference offered. For me, I just don't feel like I'm ready for that sort of immersion, at least not yet.

For the most part, the attendees to these kinds of conferences tend to be on the older side of things. A few like my son bring down the average age, but I would imagine the median age was somewhere in the high 50's or low 60's. A lot of gray hair. And while there were quite a few men, women were in the majority here as attendees as well as presenters.

Having attended the conference I'm more excited about getting back to Familiar Stranger and have a new desire to dig in and make it better. I would recommend attending this conference or a similar one if you have the time and money. It will make you a better writer.

There was other news this week: Our search for a new colorist for Powers Squared continues. We sent out invitations to four candidates and so far one has returned their sample and one other has contacted us about what format to return it in. We gave them two weeks, so there is still time.

Trophy Unlocked's Saturday Morning Review was the final horror film review for October: What Ever Happened to Baby Jane? (1962). We also published a review of the video game Abz├╗ on Sunday. So some things never stop even with a conference.

This next week, I'm hoping to get back on the horse and get on with Familiar Stranger, though I do have a review to write, but I'll save that for next week.

Sunday, October 22, 2017

A Week in Writing #165

The week got off to a not-so-great start when I got an email from ComiXology on Tuesday morning showing our sales figures, or lack thereof. Since Powers Squared was published in July, we have sold exactly 8 copies, 6 of the first issue and only 2 of the second. I must have given away 3 times that many. Now some would take the lack of success as a sign to quit and I can say that is a tempting idea.

Partly, I blame ComiXology since they did nothing to promote the book when they published it, even though they promised to do that. Their make-do is to promise to promote the third issue, which we seem to be forever close to finishing. In the meantime, not even all the members of my own family have bought copies, so that's depressing as well.

I had hoped that nearly weekly mentions in this blog might have generated a sale or two as well, but that doesn't seem to have happened either. I know there's a great temptation to assume that someone else is buying it and I guess I hoped that someone was. So, here comes the pitch, again. Powers Squared Issue #1 and Issue #2 are available for sale at ComiXology. Just follow the links.

I did check in with our contact at ComiXology on updates about the book, even asking for his opinion. So far, radio silence. Talk about rubbing salt into the wound. And I'm sure "he's really busy blah blah blah." Not really an excuse. Do I sound angry?

Our artist is definitely back to his old ways. He started the last four pages about three weeks ago. We did see pencils for page 20 this past week, so I guess there is hope. Everyone else is idle while we wait.

We're going to start in earnest our search for a new colorist this week as we have a list of people interested.

The rest of the week was sort of problematic. I had been diagnosed with a sty in one of my eyelids and the prescription was to put a hot compress on it. Very hard to write when one hand is holding a hot washcloth against one of your eyes. Really slowed me down for a couple of days. I did in that time watch The Letter (1929) and write a review for it.

Published I Walked With a Zombie (1943) on Saturday morning as part of Trophy Unlocked's Halloween horror salute. Later that day, the family went to see Wonderstruck, which was also reviewed and published on Sunday.

As far as Familiar Stranger, I did make some progress before I was told to sit and hold a compress to my eye. Always want to do more.

This coming weekend, Paul and I will be attending the Writer's Digest Novel Writing Conference in Pasadena. We will need to spend some time this week getting ready. So, hopefully, there will also be time to work on my own novel.

Sunday, October 15, 2017

A Week in Writing #164

Well, I've survived, but there was a lot of life going on this week, which means less time for writing. My wife's birthday over the weekend led us to spend Friday at an amusement park, Universal Studios Hollywood, and Saturday doing other birthday activities, including going to the Getty Museum and out to dinner. A good time was had by all, but there were two days where very little actual writing got done.

That's not to say that other activities didn't happen. We posted two reviews on Trophy Unlocked this weekend, the Saturday morning review, Predator (1987) and a game review, Inside + Limbo Double Pack for PS4, on Sunday. Getting that done, at least with Predator meant I spent most of Monday night prepping that review for publication, so one more day down.

Finished a future review I had started for Side Street (1950) and wrote one for I Walked With a Zombie (1943), a film we managed to squeeze in after dinner out on Friday night. Thankfully the film was short. Spent part of the day Saturday and Sunday writing and prepping that review for next Saturday; part of our salute to horror films in October.

I'm pleased to see pageviews are up so far in October after a major dip in September. Some of that I attribute to colleges being back in session. I can tell when that's happening because pageviews of Romeo and Juliet are up.

As far as Powers Squared is concerned, we're still reeling and looking for a new colorist. We went back to our previous one, but she couldn't do it, so we took up our current one on her offer to help us find her replacement. That process started on Saturday night and we already have two possible prospects. We're thinking of having them color a page from the comic as a test.

Our artist is reverting back to his usual timetable, which means after a week, we have seen three pages as layouts and only two of those pages as pencils. We have decided on what we want the cover of Issue #5 to look like.

This week, I need to check in with Comixology and let them know where we are in the process. As always, I thought we'd be done by now, but that's the nature of collaborative art.

A surprise, I was able to do some editing on Familiar Stranger, the oft-written about rewrite I've been engaged with for what seems like forever. Most of the hard work is still ahead of me, but I feel at least I did something on it this week. I'm also hoping, that having put up the review for I Walked With a Zombie tonight it will free time next week so I can work on my novel.

Still, need to do some prep for the Writer's Digest conference later in the month. I haven't had a chance to listen to the webinar I started last week.

So my goal for the next week is more work on Familiar Stranger with some work no doubt on Powers Squared; that project never seems to stop.

Sunday, October 8, 2017

A Week in Writing #163

So the week went from okay on Monday to feeling like I had gotten a kick in the gut by Sunday afternoon. More about that later.

Never really got into the groove this week as much as I wanted to. I did write, but not as much as I had planned on. Did a little writing on Familiar Stranger, but sadly very little. I had wanted to really work on it this week, but other writing took persistence either through bad time management or for other reasons.

I did try to prep for the Writer's Digest Novel Writing Conference that's coming up later in the month. There was a webinar where a writer explained how to prepare for it. While it happened during the day on Tuesday, I tried to listen to it. Usually, I can go whole days without talking to anyone, so I thought I might be able to listen while I worked. But about ten minutes in one of my co-workers wanted to discuss work stuff and a few minutes my boss called me into her office to discuss more work stuff. So needless to say, I never had a chance to listen to it and still haven't but there are still a few weeks to go.

Spent some time working on posting a review for Invasion of the Body Snatchers (1950), including finding photos for the review and, believe it or not, trying to correct grammar. I spent some time later in the week going over the review again before I asked Paul to edit it. He apparently still found things that needed to be changed. That review appeared as Trophy Unlocked's Saturday Morning Review and is the first in this month's Halloween salute. Still, need a fourth film. We watched the Final Cut of Blade Runner on Friday and while it may be boring, it doesn't rise to the level of horribly so.

But put away your wallet, that wasn't the only review we posted. Based on a showing we went to over the weekend, I posted one for Loving Vincent, a new film that uses 65000 oil paintings over a live-action film to present the story in the visual look of Van Gogh's paintings. It's an experimental film that also manages to tell a story with good acting.

Started on for Side Street (1950), but haven't so far gotten further than an introductory paragraph. Watching that movie, on Thursday night, also took away from writing, though I wanted to watch it to remove it from our DVR. We've had it since TCM's Last Summer of Darkness, along with a boatload of other film noirs we recorded but haven't yet watched. Sometimes, your desire to watch films outdistances your actual time to do so.

Tried to work with Final Draft for the first time on a future script for Powers Squared. Maybe it's me, but it seemed rather clunky. I'm used to writing in Word, but I thought I should learn to at least get a feel for the software. There goes a couple of nights work. I also realize that I need to update the website with more information about the upcoming issues, so that's work for another day.

More pages from the artist, layouts for pages 17 through 19 of issue #5. Those came in on Friday, but it was Sunday before we had the time to look at them; that's the way it goes sometimes. Also received four pages from our colorist, but those were accompanied by the kick in the gut. After three issues, she's notified us that she has to quit. Another career opportunity for her will take too much of her time. While we're happy for her, it really hurts to lose her.

Next week, I hope to pick up the pieces and carry on.

Sunday, October 1, 2017

A Week in Writing #162

Okay this week, I didn't feel like I really did much writing, at least not on what I wanted to work on the week before, Familiar Stranger. Instead, I busied myself, when I was writing, on a script for a future story arc for Powers Squared, what would be Issues 8 and 9.

I said when I was writing because this was officially the kickoff for birthdays in my house. Mine was on Monday and my sons were on Thursday. I wanted to do more on my birthday, even taking the day off work, but all I got through was a future review of the original X-Men movie. A good portion of the day was spent "celebrating" and on Monday night there was a Dallas Cowboys football game, cake, ice cream, and gifts. So not a lot of time for writing then.

That scenario was sort of replicated on Wednesday night. Since Trevor had a class on his birthday, we went out to dinner that night and then again there was cake, ice cream, and gifts as well. So two days no real writing. That's what happens when you have a life.

Working on the script seemed an easier alternative than working on Familiar Stranger. When I get around to that, I really want to concentrate on that. I was pleased with the progress I made, getting it down to two issues with 20 pages each, though there are still edits that need to be made and a version to be passed on for Paul to edit.

Still putting the final touches on the script for Issues #6 and 7, so there is always work to do.

We're getting closer to the end of Issue #5. Our artist delivered the penultimate set of pages for Issue #5. Our colorist delivered what we'd sent her and Trevor has started in on lettering the issue. There are still missing pieces of Issues #3 and 4, so we still need to deal with them. I'd like to get all three issues squared away before moving on to Issue #6. Partly, it's a workflow and a cash flow issue. Paul will be taking classes on Mondays and Thursdays, so that will impact how much we can handle during the week; best to get a control of it before jumping into more.

This Saturday, Trophy Unlocked celebrated the publication of its 800th review, one for the video game Persona 5. It seemed fitting that it was written by Paul since he started the blog all those years ago now.

With Halloween approaching, we usually publish reviews of horror films during the month of October. I have three ready to go, so I was looking for a fourth. We chose to watch Tobor The Great (1954) since it promised to be about a Man-Made monster, at least that's what it says on the poster and DVD box. But that was not to be. I did finish a review this weekend for the film, about 2000 words, but it is not going to make it as part of our annual Halloween salute. So, we're back on the hunt for a fourth. Halloween starts on the blog next Saturday.

So this week should be back to normal, so to speak. We'll see what actually gets done.

Sunday, September 24, 2017

A Week in Writing #161

Sometimes I don't know where to start writing these posts. One week seems a lot like another and having some sort of witty opening has as much to do with inspiration as anything else. As with most weeks, the writing can be divided into three areas: Powers Squared, Trophy Unlocked, and Familiar Stranger. Unlike last week, some progress was made on all three.

The work on Powers Squared seems to come in waves. Our artist sent layouts and pencils for four pages this week, which is sort of an unofficial record. Every time we receive pages, it means that Paul and I have to find the time to sit down together and look at them. Typically, the process starts with layouts, which means we compare the pages against the script to see if the action matches what we expected. We then send our comments back to the artist, asking if he has any questions or comments.

When we get pencils, we look at the actual drawings to see if they match what we're looking for in more detail. Again another round of comments back to the artist. This week, we got two bites at the apple, with a second set of pencils based on our comments. The hope is that by the time we get inks, everything is ready to go to the colorist. It may sound easy, but it is time-consuming and time is at a premium.

Over last weekend and early in the week, I completed the review of Logan (2017), for Trophy Unlocked's Saturday Morning Review. That one was our 798th review. Also over the weekend, we published a Review Hub for Sly Cooper to celebrate the anniversary of that video game franchise launch. All six video games in the series are reviewed and not by me. I don't have the time to play video games. Again, time is at a premium for me.

Over the weekend, I started a review for X-Men (2000), a film we watched on Friday night. On Sunday, today, we went to see Kingman: The Golden Circle, so I reviewed it for the blog. That marks our 799th review, one away from our 800th, which will be published next Saturday morning. Again, even though I didn't write that review, I would hope everyone will be sure to check it out. I think it marks quite an accomplishment.

So, finally, on to Familiar Stranger, my oft-mentioned Private Detective mystery novel. I've been working on it for what seems like forever and of all the writing, it seems to get the shortest shrift. I was able to spend most of an evening getting back to it. I even found a long sequence that I had previously written for the end of the story, so I was able to add that knowing that it will need to be included in this extra long rewrite. At its current length, about 85,000 words, it’s still a little short, but I’m still over 100 pages from the ending, so we’ll see.

Hopefully, next week will be like this one and I'll be able to report back on further progress on all three fronts.

Sunday, September 17, 2017

A Week in Writing #160

What is the old saying, when the going gets tough the tough get going? Well, the rewrites on Familiar Stranger got hard and I sort of bailed. And not so much because they got hard but because I had other things I wanted to work on. Chief among them was writing a review for the film Key Largo (1948). I felt compelled after Irma hit the Florida Keys and was reminded that this movie took place against a background of a hurricane hitting the same islands. That review ended up as this Saturday Morning Review on Trophy Unlocked.

That confession made, I did do some work on Familiar Stranger, though it was more in the head than on the paper. There was a part of the story that I keep going back and forth on and until I get it worked out in my head, I don't want to get too carried away with the rewrite. I know that sounds like the coward's way out, but there are enough things to keep me busy.

Top of which has been the Powers Squared. Our artist has sent us four pages, though only three completely finished. Writing this reminded me to send those pages onto the colorist. That's part of the beauty of writing this blog.

We've pretty much written the next story arc, so I decided to tackle the next one as well. That rewrite took on a life of its own, as I found I had to swap characters in the second half of the story. Still working on that and will do so throughout this coming week.

It's been about three months since we published the first two issues of Powers Squared. I feel like I've given away more free issues of the book then we've sold, but we're not ready to walk away. A lot of things start small and we're still hoping our moment will come. If you've read the book, we'd love to hear from you.

I'm also working on a review of Logan (2017) a film we watched the original release of on Friday night and the black and white version on Saturday night. Watching this film was also prompted by recent events, in this case, the death of the Wolverine's co-creator, Len Wein. I'm hoping to have this done for next week's Saturday Morning Review on Trophy Unlocked. Even though our pageviews are way down, we're only a few reviews away from our 800th. So please keep reading.

Sunday, September 10, 2017

A Week in Writing #159

Well Familiar Stranger got harder this week, as I finally caught up to where I was with previous rewrites. Now comes the tricky part, actually writing from scratch as opposed to editing what has previously been written. So production dropped on that front. As of this writing, I'm up to 61,250 words and 333 pages, so only a little more than 2000 words. I'm also considering rewriting the beginning, but that will have to wait until I'm through with this draft.

In my last post, I mentioned I wanted to squeeze in an additional review during the Labor Day holiday, which I managed to do. The original Casino Royale from 1954, an episode of a CBS television series Climax!, will appear sometime in the future, but at least now I have four Bond film reviews I can publish as a block.

This past Saturday I published a review of Blonde Crazy (1931), a romantic comedy crime film starring James Cagney and Joan Blondell. On the same day, we also published a review of the video game Night Trap - 25th Anniversary Edition.

Trophy Unlocked is coming up on our 800th review just when the page views have dramatically dipped. We had been averaging about 1500 to 2000 a day, but with the holiday they dropped to 100 to 200. Sort of a disappointed feeling to see the numbers drop so significantly so quickly. I'd like to think it cyclical and the number will come back up as it's really the older reviews that drive the page views.

As far as reviews for the future, I wrote about 2500 words on the remake of Ghost in the Shell, but that will wait for now. I would like to get to another one this week, sort of brought on by what's happening with Hurricane Irma, Key Largo (1948). We'll see if I can pull that off.

Powers Squared keeps moving forward. Our artist sent us layouts and pencils for four pages of Issue #5, pages 9 -12. I can't remember him working faster since we started with him back at the beginning of January 2016. Our colorist followed that up with pages 5 - 8 on Saturday night. Our letterer is still working on Issue #4, which is fine. And we're still working on a cover for Issue #3, which we hope to have finalized in the next week or so.

Sad news today about the death of Len Wein. We were in our local comic book store when we heard. While I wouldn't say I knew Mr. Wein, I had met him a couple of times at the store and had made a point of saying hi to him at this past Comic-Con. My children had run into him at the same store on several occasions and he seemed to know them on sight. His death is another reminder that there is no time to lose and that success takes a lot of hard work.

Sunday, September 3, 2017

A Week in Writing #158

Well, Happy Anniversary to the Blog. When I started writing this three years ago, on September 1, 2014, I wasn't really sure what to expect. This started out as, and still is, a way for me to make myself responsible for my own writing goals. While I still endeavor to write 1000 words a day, I'm not complaining as long as I'm writing. I hope that my struggles and triumphs (of which there have been a few) might help you in your own writing. You are not alone.

In some cases, not a whole lot has changed since I started. Powers Squared was around, though more in concept than anything else. Now it has been published, which I guess is something. I was working on the rewrites for Familiar Stranger, something I'm still doing, more on that later. And I was working on Trophy Unlocked when I started and I'm still doing that as well. Back then we had just published over 500th review and now we're a handful away from 800. That said, the goals remain the same: to get better and to get published.

So enough with the nostalgia and onto the week that's just concluded. What have I done? Well, I did publish a new review on Saturday morning: The Mad Miss Manton (1938), a Barbara Stanwyck and Henry Fonda starrer, which mixes the screwball comedy with a murder mystery. And I've completed another review for next Saturday, 3000 words on Blonde Crazy (1931), which starred James Cagney and Joan Blondell. I'm hoping to squeeze in another since tomorrow is the Labor Day holiday.

The current rewrite on Familiar Stranger is chugging along. I'm up to a little over 59,000 words, about 15,000 further than last week. I've been trying to stay the course, but I've been playing around with what is being looked for in the book, a murder weapon or money. I think I've come back to money and I'm back to searching underwater rather than under the land. Its getting to be a little more critical, since I'm coming up on that portion in the book. I think I'm pretty much set now, but that's one of the fun things about being a pantser when it comes to writing, you never know where it's going to go until you get there.

Powers Squared has sort of slowed. Our colorist is caught up and our artist has penciled, but not inked pages 5 through 8, so Issue 5 is at a bit of standstill at the moment. Our letterer has done some more work on Issue #4, but I believe there's more to go there. And Issue #3 is still missing a cover.

We have been working on the next story arc, Kirby Good and Evil. We're on Version 7 of the script and with the possibility of some minor tweaks should be pretty good to go on the next two issues.

I also did update the Powers Squared website with a couple of characters from Issue #3, check them out here.

So another week in writing comes to a close. For anyone who has been reading this since the beginning, thank you for taking this ride with me. I hope we've all learned something along the way. And for those who only read it now and again, which is probably most, I hope you find something to take away from these weekly musings.

Sunday, August 27, 2017

A Week in Writing #157

Every week provides its own opportunities and challenges. This past week was no different. I must say that I wasn't always up to it, feeling a little under the weather for the first few days. Not really sick, but just enough that I was tired.

But that said, I was able to write a new review during those days and post it on Trophy Unlocked. A Night at the Movies (1937) would be published as our Saturday Morning Review. Had a harder time than usual with getting screenshots. There are very few images related to this short on the internet and my computer, for some reason, refused to play it again, so I had to watch a pirated copy on YouTube and snip images from that. Very frustrating and time-consuming, when time is always of the essence.

Over the weekend, I would write another one, The Mad Miss Manton (1938), which ended up being about 3500 words. Luckily, many more images available. That one should come out next Saturday, so stay tuned.

Did some work on Familiar Stranger, but it never seems to be enough. I'm up to almost 44,000 words on the rewrite, so I did make some progress, about 6000 words, but there is so much more that could be done. Something has to give and this week it was this rewrite. Hopefully, this week Familiar Stranger will be closer to the top rather than almost an afterthought.

What work I did accomplish was mostly on Powers Squared (still available for purchase if you're so inclined) and even that doesn't feel like that much happened.

We did hear back from the artist we had been wanting to do the cover for Issue #3, but his asking price, though not unrealistic for his talent, was far more than I could afford to pay at this point; about half as much I had spent on the entire issue. We're having to go with plan B, which we're figuring out at present.

As for our third email, we did hear back on that as well. Very positive response from a writer/editor at a major label. He thought the book was fun, which was a compliment. We were very pleased but had secretly hoped he might be so taken he'd offer to help us get it physically published, though probably not where he works. We might be able to ask for that help, but right now we're basking in the praise.

Our artist did send us layouts for four pages, 5 through 8, though we did have comments about all four, which is pretty normal for how we've been working with him. We did discover that for one page we had two panel fives, which as we all know is one five too many. We did a little rewrite to compensate. This just shows no matter how hard you think you've combed through something, there is always a surprise waiting for you.

The colorist also sent four pages, though for perhaps the first time, they need revisions. No worries, but it makes me happy we looked at them more closely than normal.

Made a discovery, almost too late, as it relates to the next story arc. I had, sometime back, marked up the script for Kirby Big and Small, the working title for the next few issues. I was in the midst of shredding old papers when I realized I wasn't sure if I had actually ever updated the script on the computer. Turns out I hadn't, so I had to re-edit the first six pages.

So this coming week there will hopefully be time for updating that script and working on Familiar Stranger. Rewrites and more rewrites are the action verbs for next week.

Sunday, August 20, 2017

A Week in Writing #156

More Sunday night reflections on my writing for the week just past.

Every time I sit down to write this, I always feel like there is so much more I could have done. I have goals in mind, but I feel like I'm really no closer to achieving them than I was the week before. While that might not be true, it is always how I feel.

I usually write this in the afternoon, so sometimes events happen after I've published. As an example, our colorist for Powers Squared sent in her pages Sunday night, so that part of Issue #4 is complete. Still, there is work to be done with the lettering, but things are moving forward.

Of the three emails, I was waiting to hear back on, only one responded, our contact at ComiXology. He thought Issue 3 was fine and ready to go. One of the emails we're waiting on has put us in a bit of a holding pattern, the artist we're hoping to do the cover for #3 hasn't gotten back to me. I'm not a fan of waiting, but I try to give people the benefit of the doubt that they're busy. I've been known to put people off for a few days now and again myself.

So as Powers Squared stands now, Issue #3 is done except for the cover, Issue #4 is drawn and colored and Issue #5 is off the ground with pages 1 through 4 on their way to the colorist and 5 through 8 getting underway.

I deferred for a few days on following up on the third email, but I will next week if I don't hear and will report back here.

As far as Trophy Unlocked is concerned, I seem to have exhausted my ready supply of unpublished reviews. I still have some in my quiver, but at least five are scheduled for holidays, three for Halloween and two for Christmas. This week, in order to catch up, I decided to take a look at short films, starting with How To Sleep (1935), the Academy Award winning comedy short written and starring Robert Benchley.

For the first time in quite awhile, watched a movie, but didn't write a review. Went to see The Hitman's Bodyguard in the theaters on opening day no less, but since it's released by my employer, we decided that it would be considered a conflict of interest to review it.

Did write a review over the weekend for another movie we watched at home on Friday, Running Scared (1986). I remember watching this in theaters when it was first released and before I worked at MGM, its distributor. It's one of those films waiting for Christmas, so you'll have to wait until then for the review.

This leaves Familiar Stranger for the writing trifecta. While I might do more before the day is done, I am a little over 38,000 words and 212 pages into the rewrite at this point. It always feels like I give this the short shrift, but I'm about 10,000 words further along than I was last weekend, so I guess I must be doing something.

So the goals for the coming week, another review for Trophy Unlocked, more pages on Familiar Stranger and hopefully progress on Powers Squared. We'll see how it goes.

Sunday, August 13, 2017

A Week in Writing #155

Another Sunday night and another reflection on the week that was and wasn't as far as my writing goes. I hit the usual marks, Powers Squared, Familiar Stranger and Trophy Unlocked, but there is always the feeling that I could have done more.

Let's begin where we begin most posts with a little visitation to Powers Squared. We're sort of spread out over three different issues at the moment. Issue #3 is just about done. Our trusty letterer delivered the changes that we asked for last night. We still have a credit's page and a cover to go, more about the latter in a moment.

Sent the revision to the same guy at ComiXology whom we met with on the first day of Comic-Con, the meeting right after some guy threatened to knock out my teeth for bumping into him. We gave him the book as it was then, but never heard back. Followed up last weekend, and again no response. Sent him the revised version today so there's always hope. Promises sort of seem hollow when people don't follow through.

As far as the cover, we were able to get a response from the artist we're interested in using. That came this week after we followed up from the first email we sent about ten days before. (Do you see a trend here?). He asked a couple of questions that we answered, so we're back on the wait game with him as well.

I try not to fault people for not responding, as I assume they're really busy, but it still hurts when they don't. I can't help that feeling. It's sort of like one of the guys I showed it to at work. He'd had the book for a couple of months now so I asked him if he'd read it. "Well, no, I haven't had a chance." That sort of hurts, too. This isn't War and Peace I'm asking him to read, but a 20 page comic book that's mostly pictures.

Overall, I've sort of been disappointed in the people I've shared it with so far, as most have not responded or read it. One guy went out of his way to give me his comic book reading credentials, but as far as I know has never actually read it. I think I gave it to him back in October. People don't respond they way you'd hope they would. Even negative criticism would be better than radio silence.

So end's this week's rant.

Issue #4 is about four pages away. In this case, we have a cover, the one originally intended for Issue #3. Now we're waiting for the colorist, which is unusual, and then it's off to the letterer.

And Issue #5 has four pages penciled, which is faster than normal. So progress is being made.

Don't want to waste the opportunity, so in case you've been wanting to buy them, but just didn't have an easy link, Powers Squared Issues #1 and #2 are still for sale on ComiXology. You know ABS: Always Be Shilling.

I'm still loving the rewrite process with Familiar Stranger. I really feel like the book is getting better. At this moment, I'm up to 157 and 28,600 words in. Writing to show not tell and tightening it up as I go. All this from the Drake programs at Comic-Con. Trying to ride that as far and as long as I can. I know there is some real rewriting in my future, but I'll get to that when I get to it. I'm hoping the momentum will continue when I get to those pages.

It's been a busy weekend on Trophy Unlocked. It started with the Saturday Morning Review, this week Shield for Murder (1953). Then later that night, Paul posted a review of the really horrible Sharknado 5: Global Swarming.

Trevor followed that up with a Sharknado Review Hub. Turns out we've reviewed all but one of those movies on the Blog.

Ended the week with a review of Atomic Blonde (2017), a film we saw in the theaters on Friday. I know its a little late to the game, but no one's giving us free tickets, so we see them when we can.

Well that about wraps it up for this week. Not sure what awaits next week. More work on the usual, hopefully. And maybe, just maybe, some people will respond to our emails from this week and last. Wouldn't that be something? I know, don't get my hopes up. Check back next week and see what happens. And in the meantime, keep writing.

Sunday, August 6, 2017

A Week In Writing #154

Sunday nights are the worst time of the week for me. All the promise of the weekend is gone by then, so in addition to all that you did and accomplished, there are still those things you needed to do, but didn't and more importantly the things that you wanted to do, but didn't. Taking this little reckoning at the end of the week is a reminder of all that I didn't get done that I wanted to, to go along with what I did.

Another concert this weekend, Slayer at the Forum, sort of dominated Saturday. Even though it was in a good way, that meant less time for everything else. You can't live life only doing what you have to do, but everything is a balancing act. Even though I was at the concert, I still managed to forward new pages for Powers Squared to the colorist before and between acts, our artist only finishing and sending tiffs to us that evening. We had been working him throughout the week on little tweaks to the final four pages.

Now that that's settled, Issue #5 has officially begun and, of course, the waiting for pages begins anew.

So, we're getting close to the end of Issue #4, at least from an artwork standpoint. There is still lettering to go, but I think that should go pretty quickly. Trevor has not been the speed bump in this process.

Issue #3 sort of languishes. One of the things I haven't gotten to is a final review of everything and the inside page of the cover. Speaking of the cover, we still haven't heard back from the artist we approached about doing the cover for us. Not sure why. Followed up with him on Sunday afternoon, so hopefully, we'll hear either way soon.

His email was one of three that I sent this afternoon, the other two following up with different people about feedback from Comic-Con. As I've written before, waiting is the worst. Going hand in hand with that is his sister anticipation and his cousin anxiety: "Will he say yes?" "Will they like it?"

The rewrites of Familiar Stranger continue. Now I'm a little over 14,000 words and 79 pages into the process. Really liking the new knowledge and putting it to use. I really like making things better, though I hope the 12th time through is the charm. Want to finish and move on.

The third tip in my trident of writing is Trophy Unlocked. Every Saturday morning I publish a new review and this week was no exception with Detour (1945), an early entry into the Film Noir genre. Began working on a review for Lethal Weapon (1987), but this one may wait for the Christmas season before getting published. Anyone familiar with our Christmas reviews knows we include more than just traditional Christmas movies and anyone familiar with Lethal Weapon will know why.

So next week's agenda is to work on finalizing Powers Squared Issue #3, finishing my review of Lethal Weapon and getting further into Familiar Stranger. I'll report back here and let you know how I do.

Sunday, July 30, 2017

A Week in Writing #153

The week after Comic-Con is always a little odd. Let's face it, reality sort of sucks after immersion into such a fantastical (and exhausting) circumstance. But there is also an excitement about getting back to the work of writing armed with some of the teachings I learned from panels run by Maxwell Alexander Drake. I did manage to edit about 40 pages and over 7000 words between other projects. One of the things I learned in his panel about Point of View was showing more rather than telling; something I've tried not to do, but going back and editing with "fresh" eyes made me do a lot of rewriting. I know, I'm already re-editing it, but as Bullwinkle would always say, "This time for sure."

Also excited about getting back to Powers Squared, but things are not quite moving as fast as I would have hoped. The artist we talked to at Comic-Con, who told us to contact him through his website, hasn't returned my email yet. I waited a couple of days to let him recover as well, but I kind of hoped there would be a more immediate response. The cover would be one of the last things we need to get the issue squared away, so I'm a little disappointed that there hasn't been a response, but my anxiety doesn't necessarily translate to him. I'll follow up in a week or so while trying to put the other final touches on the issue, but if it's radio silence we may have to go to a plan B.

Don't know how well things are going sales wise with Powers Squared Issues # 1 and 2, now that they're available for purchase. If anyone has read them, would love to hear your comments, either here or on the website.

Our colorist is now idle, she finished the pages she had and made some corrections for us, but we're now, once again, waiting on our artist. Typically, things started out pretty quickly as he sent us layouts for three pages right away and sent us the fourth page soon after. Then this past week, we got pencils for a couple of the pages, but then the faucet stopped and once again we're coming up on two weeks and no completed pages. Long term, this is not sustainable.

Managed to complete the review for Kingsman: The Secret Service, which was posted as our weekly Saturday Morning Review. Also wrote a review for Dunkirk, the new Christopher Nolan movie and posted that on Sunday morning. While neither has really broken any page view records, Trophy Unlocked's page views are up to over 50,000 for the past month. It's hard not to take a little pride in that. I give a lot of credit to my sons Paul and Trevor; Paul started the blog and he and Trevor did most of the writing in the beginning. Without them, there would be no blog.

So a pretty full week as far as writing goes. Never feel like I get as much done as I want to, but that's part of the balancing act between writing and real life. Had an anniversary this weekend and a Metallica concert on the plus-side, but also had car trouble and a busted pipe to contend with as well. It's as if life works with you sometimes and works against you at others.

But I'll keep writing.

Monday, July 24, 2017

A Week in Writing #152 - Report From the Front - Comic-Con 2017

Back from San Diego and ready to report. I'm taking a recovery day to sort out things from the trip and to get caught up with some other things in my life, like paying bills, reviewing pages sent while we were away and doing this post. I sort of feel like I missed my deadline, but I did write last week that this might happen. Not quite as impressive as Nostradamus, but perhaps less ambiguous with the prediction.

Let's get the rest of the week out of the way since there isn't much to talk about from Monday and Tuesday as everything was about Comic-Con prep. I did manage to get a Saturday movie review ready and schedule it to post without me pulling the trigger so to speak; He Ran All The Way (1951)Very pleased to see it got 20 page views without any prompting.

As mentioned before, pages as in layouts for the last four pages of Issue #4 and colors for pages 13 through 16 came in while we were gone. My apologies to both artists, but we never got out our laptops while we were down there. Reviewing them on our phones didn't seem right either so those are two things that will be addressed today.

Wednesday did mark the release of Powers Squared #2 on comiXology, which is one reason we met with the head of content on Thursday, but more on that later.

Now on to the main point of this post, San Diego Comic-Con, which started on Wednesday. I'm going to break it down to the Good, the Bad and the Meh.

We've been going now for 11 out of the past 12 years and over that time, SDCC has gone for us from being an overwhelming spectacle to an overwhelming spectacle with exclusives to an overwhelming spectacle with exclusives and panels to an overwhelming spectacle with exclusives and panels that help with craft, whether it be writing in the case of Paul and myself or art for Trevor. More about the panels later, but our attitude about attending has changed over the years is really what I want to say.

The Good

Things started out pretty well on Thursday, Day One. Over the last few years at various cons, Bot-, Wonder- and Comic-, we've run into the same editor from one of the major publishers not named Marvel or DC. (Note: I try not to name names in this blog.) He's always been or at least acted happy to see us, and after a few years, we actually introduced ourselves formally. We've never brokered that we were working on a comic-book, but now that it's published, wanted to share. Now I came prepared with a thumb drive with the two issues on it and I was also prepared for him to politely reject our offer. But instead, he seemed very interested and enthusiastic about it. When you get that reception from someone that you respect it sort of makes your day.

Later that morning, we had our meeting with our publisher in the comiXology booth. To say it was short would not be an exaggeration. Our contact wasn't even aware the books had been published, telling us we should have let him know, which seemed a little odd. The point was we had never got the support we had been expecting since our meeting at Wonder-Con in the spring. To make a short meeting even shorter, he promised to make the big push for us with the third issue and told us not to submit it until we had a meeting with him first to discuss the marketing. That sounds promising, as he said, you only get one bite at the apple unless it catches on.

All the panels we attended this year were of the How-To variety. That wasn't necessarily the intent, but that is how it worked out. Our meeting at comiXology meant there were several we couldn't attend, like How-To: Dynamic Story Creation in Plain English; or How To Get News Coverage and there were others that we could have attended, but didn't for whatever reason, but I did attend five in all: Comics PR and Marketing 101; How-To: Point of View, What's the Point?; Taking Comics from Web to Print; How-To: Show Your Story, Don't Tell It; and How-To: Making Magic Believable. Three of those panels/classes were led by Maxwell Alexander Drake, a fantasy writer who really knows his craft. I found those classes very useful and I think that I'll be using what I learned in my own writing. It wasn't my intention to be taking so many classes from Drake, in fact, I hadn't planned on taking the last one or even was aware he was the moderator, but I'm glad I did.

The least informative panel for me was Taking Comics from Web to Print, mostly because I had different expectations for it. I was hoping to see a way to bring Powers Squared to print, but instead it focused on two artists, both of which seemed to be more on the fringes and no pathway was really discussed, though I did see the cold reality that one of the two, even though she was on a panel as an expert, doesn't make a living from her work. This is a situation much more common than you might imagine.

One of my goals for SDCC was to speak to an artist we like to see if they might do a cover for Powers Squared. We have a cover for Issue #3, but not one that seems quite right. If we're getting our big push with Issue #3, I want to be as big as we can get it. We know this artist through his teaching Trevor in one of his post-graduate seminars and have met him at a small showing at a Burbank comic shop and at Wonder-Con. In the meantime, his fame seems to have blossomed. While at WonderCon we could walk up to him; at Comic-Con there was a long line ala Katie Cook of people waiting to meet and buy from him. We put off trying to talk to him until Sunday morning and while there was another long line, he did come back through it and we were able to at least tell him we were interested in doing a commission with him. No details. I will follow up later this week with an email as he suggested.

The Bad

Comic-Con is an overcrowded mess with people scurrying around, some more willy-nilly than others. At about ten minutes before our meeting, Paul and I were about half a floor away and had to hurry to make it. On the way, some woman moving diagonally across the flow of traffic stepped squarely on the ball of my foot as she hurried to whatever exhibit she had to get to. I write that as an example of the sort of things that go on.

With time of the essence, I had to navigate through a crowd mostly going in the opposite direction and had to maneuver through openings that might have been a tad too small. I wasn't running, mind you, as that is not allowed, but sometimes you can't help but run into people, even when you're not in a hurry, it is the nature of the beast.

I've been raised to say "You're welcome" when I hear the words "Thank You." It's an instinct, really. As we were maneuvering through the crowd, I heard someone say "Thank You" and I said the appropriate response. I must admit, I don't know who was saying it or why, but it just came out. I took a few steps before I felt the backpack on my back being forcibly tugged backward.

I first thought it was my son, who was trailing me, trying to catch up, but instead, it was a larger and angry man. "What did you say?" he asked. "You're welcome," I replied. He proceeded to tell me that I should have said "Sorry" and then made some vague threat to knock all of my teeth out before storming away. I honestly don't remember what the guy looked like only that he was bigger and younger than I was. I'm not small mind you and I wasn't really afraid of him, I had other things to worry about, but his reaction seemed a little over the top.

I didn't actually see what if anything I had done, I was focusing on trying to get where I had to get. I do know I didn't squash a baby or knock anyone down, I wasn't really bullying my way through. More than likely my backpack had hit him as we passed, I've been told it was something sticking out the top that hit him in the chest, a rather common occurrence in these crowds. It has happened to me many times and it is one of the "risks" you take. Trust me, he wasn't any worse for wear and never said exactly what I had done to him.

So "You're Welcome" was the wrong word choice, I'm not sure what I could have said that would have been the right choice. Even saying nothing would have been wrong. I'm sure even if I had said "Sorry" that would not have been enough. Since this was less than two hours into Day One of the Con, this didn't bode well for how he would react when the next guy or gal got in his way. You have to let things like this roll off your back. You're not at Comic-Con to teach people manners, especially with your fists.

The Meh

There are many attractions around the Con which are also available to non-ticket holders as well. This year was no exception with a Laika Experience pop-up store, an Interactive Zone and Adult Swim On the Green as examples. We tried to attend all three, but those experiences were disappointing.

The Laika Experience had a line longer than the store could handle. We're not the type to want to spend an hour or more in line and that would have been the case either of the two times we walked there. It bodes well for the popularity of Laika, but it proved to be a disappointment for us.

Also a disappointment was the Interactive Zone, which we went to twice. One of the big draws was supposed to be free food, but Wikia’s Fandom food truck with Pepsi was shut down as a threat to public health and the Blizzard attraction Lich King's Ice Cream Citadel was giving out a scoop of something for those who braved the long wait to get in.

When is a VIP pass not a VIP pass; when everyone takes advantage of the offer, as was the case with Adult Swim's On The Green carnival. We had passes that were supposed to get us in ahead of the crowd, but so did hundreds, if not thousands of other people on the day we went down there. We were killing time before a panel to start and we would have spent most if not all of that time in line to get in.

All were disappointing in their own way for us, though they were all popular attractions.

Summary

I will admit to being sad as we left Comic-Con. After all the planning, like Christmas, it is all over way too soon. I think we all had a lot of fun and are looking forward to next year. But for now, it's back to reality.

Until next week, keep writing.

Sunday, July 16, 2017

A Week in Writing #151

Well as promised, this was a week for getting ready for San Diego Comic-Con. This for better or worse is our annual family vacation. We've been attending for 11 of the past 12 years. It's only been the last six or so that we've been going with any connection to Powers Squared. And for the first time, we're going in with a published work to our credit.

After several years in the making, the first issue of Powers Squared was published on comiXology this past Wednesday. To be honest, it was a little anti-climatic. A published work is something I've been after for most of my adult life and when it finally happened, I wasn't really sure how I felt. Not that I was expecting it, but my life really didn't change. I had no expectations that I was going to be carried about on someone's shoulders in celebration, but there was very little actual feedback from most people if they acknowledged this milestone in my life at all.

That is not to say everyone reacted that way. There were a few who did the sort of things you'd hope they'd do, like post something on their Facebook about it, or at least like my post about the publication. For those people, I am very grateful. Their continued support means a lot.

Now that Issue #1 has been published, the marketing of it can begin in earnest. We have a meeting at Comic-Con with comiXology to discuss. I'm really not sure what I should do and what, if anything, they will be doing. I've got a lot more riding on this than they do, so I'm willing to carry my own water, I just need guidance on where I'm supposed to be carrying it.

I also found out this past week that Issue #2 is being published on Wednesday the 19th, only a week after Issue #1, so expect to see Facebook and Twitter posts from me on that as we get closer.

The work of the comic book continued throughout the week. We finally got three of the four pages from our artist that we've been expecting. The whole process stops when there are no new pages.
Our colorist, who has been otherwise idle, did a cover for us, but it wasn't until Sunday night that we had more pages to send her.

I know this sounds like a broken record, but I wasn't able to work on Familiar Stranger this week, but I really didn't expect to. Still, I'm a little disappointed about letting it sit for so long.

I did publish a new review, One Mysterious Night, on Saturday and prepped another, He Ran All the Way, for the Saturday we'll be gone. I also started work on a new one for Kingsman: The Secret Service, which I'd love to finish before we leave, but don't hold me to that. Trophy Unlocked is actually doing very well as far as page views go. We're up to about 41,000+ for the past month. I get a certain satisfaction to see those numbers. It makes me feel that someone out there appreciates what we've been doing.

Just as a note, my weekly blog may be delayed next week, depending on when we get home.

Sunday, July 9, 2017

A Week in Writing #150

Okay, this is a week in writing that never really happened. As I've written in last week's blog post, the death of my step-father and his burial this past week were the main event. Even though I don't like the idea of taking a break from writing, sometimes events outweigh things. My family and I spent the better part of the past week in Dallas and while I had my computer, it never seemed like the right time to try to write.

I did learn a lot about him at the memorial service, with one of the speakers pointing out that he made a living writing, which is a really cool thing to realize. It's also a fact I'm a little jealous of since this has been my goal all along.

That is not to say that nothing happened. Powers Squared seems to move forward even if I'm not mentally locked into it at the time. Our artist managed to send pencils of the same pages he had done layouts for last week. While that sounds like progress, we should have four inked pages, if not eight, by now. I honestly never know what the hold up is with him. Our colorist, as I predicted, did catch him when she submitted the last pages she had to do.

But the big news for us was that comiXology informed us that Powers Squared Issue #1 will be published on July 12, 2017. There will be posts on Twitter and Facebook on that day. Your patronage will be appreciated.

To wrap up the week, we did still publish a Saturday Morning Review on Trophy Unlocked: Journey Into Fear (1943). I know my step-father, who was a newspaperman all his life, would approve of publishing a review even the week of his funeral.

Next week doesn't frankly hold much promise either. We're T-minus 10 days and counting before Comic-Con, so we're going to be spending some time figuring out that convention and prepping a review for the Saturday review. Not sure what other writing I'll be able to get to. I know that sounds like I'm throwing in the towel, but I'm just trying to be realistic.

Sunday, July 2, 2017

A Week in Writing #149

If last week was derailed, this week the entire train came off the track. My step-father, who had helped raise me since I was five, died this past Tuesday after a rather long illness. Easy to say that dominated most of the week as we had to plan for going back to Dallas for the funeral. That is not to say that nothing else happened, but that it definitely put a pall over most of the week. He was a great man and a great father-figure to me. He is irreplaceable in my heart.

There is a line in the Twenty One Pilots song Heavydirtysoul which I think sums up how I sometimes feel about writing and trying to be creative: Death inspires me like a dog inspires a rabbit.  There is no time to waste in this life and to that end, even though there has been a tragedy in my life, I still feel that I have to keep trying, though in a more limited way.

While I didn't really do much rewriting on Familiar Stranger, there was still some progress on Powers Squared; the artist did send four pages of layouts. No pencils yet, but I guess he thinks we gave him an out when we said we were going out of town for a week. Our colorist sent us pages 5 through 8 on issue number four on Sunday and she's about to catch the artist if he doesn't turn up the volume.

We did have a review session on Issue #3 with the letterer, going over some possible revisions. But since he's on the same trip, I'm not sure how much progress there will be on that this coming week.

Last word on Powers Squared, we tentatively have a meeting with ComiXology on Comic-Con Thursday. I say tentative since he suggested the meeting and the time, but didn't reply affirmative to our acceptance when we tried to confirm where we would meet. I keep telling myself he's a busy guy.

While I didn't send any new queries, something I was actually hoping to do this holiday, I did receive a rejection; from a query I sent over two years ago. I had to admit it was truly out of the blue. Nicely worded, quasi-personalized but a form-rejection nevertheless. Once again, not enough to go on to launch a complete rewrite of Past Present, sort of a vague I'm not connecting with the character enough. I'll have to put that on my back burner to take a look at some day.

In anticipation of being out of town, I posted two reviews and published one of them, The Bride Came C.O.D. (1941). The other, Journey Into Fear, will publish next Saturday, though we should be back in LA by then, but I wanted to be prepared just in case.

So next week will be slow, but hopefully we'll get back on track just in time to get off it again with Comic-Con just around the corner to disrupt things again.

Sunday, June 25, 2017

A Week in Writing #148

This week got derailed from the get-go I'm afraid. A bout of insomnia on Sunday night made Monday night one of those want-to-but-can't nights. I mean I could sit down at the laptop, but couldn't concentrate enough to type much.

Tuesday night was a movie night for the family as we went to a special 3-D Imax screening of Transformers: The Last Knight. Even though the movie started at 7, the evening didn't end until after 11, so not a big night for writing.

Did manage some rewrites on Familiar Stranger on Wednesday night, but I'm at a point where some of the timelines need work. I've got more time and less action to fill that time. As a "pantser," a writer who sits down and writes without everything outlined in advance, this is an occupational hazard. With a little more time I should be able to fix that. Oh, but time...

Thursday night is the time I spend putting together the Saturday Morning Review, San Francisco (1936). My editor on this might not believe me, but this is the time I copy the review into Blogger, check the grammar and add photos to illustrate the review.

My Friday afternoon was spent running errands and Friday night was Family movie night, Transformers (2007). Saturday was yard work, laundry, errands and another viewing of Transformers: The Last Knight, this one also in 3D, but free at Paramount. (I'm a sucker for a free movie.)

All those distractions aside, some work did actually get done. On Powers Squared, we got four more pages finalized with our artist, though we're still missing a couple of Tiffs. We also got four more pages from our colorist. In addition, I took the first pass at Issue #3, making some notes for Paul to also review. On top of that, I reviewed what would be the scripts for Issues #6 and 7; you have to plan ahead. Still some edits to be made, but I'm guessing we have plenty of time to make them.

And to make the week complete, I also finished a review for Journey into Fear (1943) and began one for He Ran All the Way (1951).

So while not my most productive week, things still got done.

Sunday, June 18, 2017

A Week in Writing #147

Surprise surprise, a fairly productive week on all projects: Familiar Stranger, Powers Squared, and Trophy Unlocked.

I tried this week to break up the writing by time. First thing in the morning, I try to post whatever tweets relate to anniversary reviews we have on Trophy Unlocked, this week including Raiders of the Lost Ark; HolidayThe Endless SummerThe Lion KingPsycho; and The Immigrant. Trying to keep page views coming on the blog.

When I got home after work, I worked on a review of Red Dust and Journey into Fear, the former which I also posted as Trophy Unlocked's Saturday Morning Review. I'm still working on the latter, but I should finish it this week.

After dinner, I worked on Powers Squared. We received four pages from the artist, including layouts and pencils, but we're still waiting for the inks. Our colorist is working on her pages and our letterer also did some pages this week as well. While we're firmly working on Issue #4, we still have some wrapping up to do on Issue #3. But progress is progress.

Additionally, started making notes for an idea for a future story. Have the premise, but I'm working on the details.

I tried this week to follow up on the publication dates for Issues #1 and #2, but nothing new to report. I'm not sure what publicity we'll have either, though our contact at ComiXology wants to meet at San Diego Comic Con to discuss. Will report more here as I know it.

Also, sent our submission to Image Comics to see if they might want to physically publish our books. Probably won't know anything for a few weeks, but I'm happy to have finally done it. Every time you put yourself out there, there is always the possibility of rejection, which is never fun. But you've got to put yourself out there. Fingers crossed. There are other publishers out there, but they have different requirements, so I'm working on those as well. Wrote a 1000+ word synopsis this weekend for issues #3 through 5, a story arc we refer to as With Great Powers Come Something, Something, Something.

As for Familiar Stranger, I was able to finally finish a chapter that had been sitting there for over a month and start on a new one. The goal is to keep moving the story and rewrite forward. I feel like I'm getting closer to the point where I have an ending already written. There is then another round of edits to go before it's ready for someone else to read.

That's one thing about writing, it's a process.