Sunday, February 26, 2017

A Week in Writing #131

Well, time caught up with me last week. The Monday holiday was sadly not a time for a lot of writing as there were other things that took precedence. That's one thing about writing on the side, there is never enough time.

Case in point, the Blogging 101 course I was taking online. I had other things to do last weekend and apparently lost my chance to complete the course, as it now seems to have all but shut down. I can look at the "lecture" and the assignments, but there is no place to submit the assignment so I guess I'm done. It's very hard to slice up limited time too finely and maybe online writing courses are that one bridge too far.

Writer's Digest seems to think all of their subscribers are either making a living writing or have endless amounts of time during the day. I don't know how many courses I've passed on because they have the on-line lecture at 1 pm on a Thursday afternoon. Not really a good time for me nor would I imagine other writers as well. It's too bad, too, because there are definitely areas I could use help on, like query letters and setting up a writer's website. Oh, time and money why have you forsaken me so?

I did some rewrites on Familiar Stranger, but never enough. I'll try to work more on that this coming week as I think I finally know how to get into the story. Still, have other hurdles to cross, but I'm hoping at some point that I can blop in most of what I've already written, so hopefully the page numbers will increase. Right now I'm still in the first 17 pages and only about 2800 words.

Worked on some ideas for a pre-story for Powers Squared, though at this point it is just an idea. Did some research on magical creatures so, at this point, I still think it's a go.

More progress on the comic book. Our colorist "finished" issue # 1. I'm putting quotes around finished because there are still a few panels we need to work on involving flashbacks. Not quite right yet, but I'm confident we'll get there. We're also talking about the cover and Issue #2.

The artist is making progress on Issue #3. Right now we're laying out pages 9 through 12, which means we're coming to the middle of that issue.

Part of my concern this week has been what to do when we have a finished Issue #2 and what we should be doing before then as well. Sadly, I'm not a marketing genius and don't think I have the time to take an online Writers' Digest course on the subject if one did indeed exist. My hope is not to mess things up before we "launch" this on the world; the when and how TBD.

The pre-story is one idea as well as Twitter and Facebook sites. That means content and I'm not 100% sure how much or what to put out there that will both spark interest but not give away too much. We do want people to pay for it at some point.

Published a Saturday morning review of Hayao Miyazaki's My Neighbor Totoro based on the 2005 Disney version of the film, thus ending animation month on Trophy Unlocked. Also working on a future review of his next film, Kiki's Delivery Service. Also published a Review Hub for films we've reviewed that have been nominated and/or won an Academy Award updated to reflect tonight's awards. A much bigger project than I anticipated, but glad to be on this side of it.

Award shows always make me a little anxious. Not that I necessarily think I'll win one some day, but it's the fact that most of the people in the room seem to be a part of something I want to be a part of. Old dreams don't die easily.

Sunday, February 19, 2017

A Week in Writing #130

This week I heard from one of the readers of this blog and that they actually get something from reading it. Very pleased to hear that. When I sit down to write these posts, I really don't know if anyone really reads them or not and more importantly gets anything out of them. I see the 16 to 20 page views and that's really enough, though I would like it to reach a larger group, but I am writing this mostly and perhaps selfishly for myself; I'll admit to that. I'm hoping my weeks of trying to write will help someone else realize they are not alone and if that helps someone then that's really great to know.

A lot seems to be happening with the comic book. We got pages from everyone this week, artist, colorist and letterer. That doesn't mean that everything is always running like a well-oiled machine, I don't know if any collaborative project ever runs without a hitch; even though I'm paying them, we've gone back in forth this week on what might appear to minor things in the long run, but which we think really matter. What photos would be on someone's credenza? What angles would video be shot from? Small, but important to establishing a sense of reality within the story.  If you're keeping track, we're up to page 16 with the recolor of issue #1, page 8 with the re-lettering of the same issue and up to page 8 with the artwork in issue #3.

Had a very informative discussion with another story creator on Friday morning. A friend of a friend that we had actually met at last year's San Diego Comic-Con talked with Paul and I about both the issues with issue #1, most of which we were already aware of, but more about trying to build an audience for the story as well as other issues. Really appreciate him spending the time with us and his ideas were really getting us going on next steps. Stay tuned.

Did some writing on my own Familiar Stranger. Trying to get into the action as quickly as possible and decided what to do over the weekend. Had other reasons to go, but decided to use the La Brea Tar Pits as an entrance point into the story, with my main character, a private detective, observing a couple rendezvousing there. Was able to scope it out and I think I know how to get going.

Besides the Tar Pits, went to a book reading in Chinatown. One of Paul's professors from college was launching a book and we went along to check it out and to have dinner. I must admit I had never been to a reading before and was really curious how one works.

There were two other writers, whose credits I was unfamiliar with, who did a couple of readings from their own works. A little esoteric for me, one read two different writings, both of which ended up revolving around the death of her father, though I believe one selection was really about a book dealing with a 14-year-old Mexican girl being forced into prostitution by her Grandmother. The other writer read a story from his phone about relationships and lemon reamers, the latter being something I never really gave any thought to but which seemed to be a very important thing to him. The other was a reading from his own work that didn't really work for me.

These writers were sort of the opening act to the main writer whose book was what we were there to celebrate. His was a very personal sort of stream of consciousness work about his life. Again, being a college professor some of his concerns were not mine, but he still made an emotional connection with me, especially when he wrote about his life as a father with a newborn son. The whole reading took less than an hour. Not sure all readings were like this, but it turned out to be an interesting experience nonetheless. Makes you wonder what your own reading would be like if ever provides the opportunity and occasion.

Given the travels, this weekend has not been very productive writing-wise. First, I didn't have time for my Writer's Digest class about blogging and no time to write a new review, though I do have the next one in mind. Did publish my usual Saturday morning review, this time for 9 (2009), an animated film about a very dystopian world. Still working on my Academy Awards Review Hub. I think I got myself in deep with a much bigger project than I originally anticipated. We've reviewed more Academy nominated films than I had imagined.

Tomorrow is a holiday so hoping to get some writing done. Hopefully, I can get further with Familiar Stranger and report back here about it.

Sunday, February 12, 2017

A Week in Writing #129

Much better week for writing. Even though there was rain, the commute wasn't as bad as it was the week before, which gave me a little more time to write. Of course, it's what you make of that time that counts.

I'm taking a Writer's Digest course in blogging, which is about trying to grow this blog's audience. While I'm thankful for the 20 or so who read this every week, I would like to perhaps expand it a little.

The course has gotten me to think about what kind of blog I'm writing. It's not really a how-to or advice kind of blog. I really did begin this as a way of keeping myself honest about what I'm doing. Not that there's not some advice sprinkled in, here and there, that hasn't really been the focus 129 posts in. I'm not really looking for sympathy either, but perhaps understanding.

I would like this to be a blog where I can talk freely about what I'm working on. For the most part, it has been about three things: Powers Squared, Trophy Unlocked and whatever book I'm working or trying to work on in addition. Perhaps, if you're like me and writing is your avocation, you might find by reading this blog that you're not alone and you might see what I'm doing and learn from my example; I don't pretend to have the answers.

Powers Squared, our comic book, is still coming along. The colorist is working at about four pages a week on Issue #1 and the artist is more or less doing the same on Issue #3. I know what you're thinking about Issue #2. It's not getting any love at the moment, but that'll change in a few weeks. I'm never sure how much to talk about it here, as far as getting into details. Our work on it comes in spurts depending on the deliverables. Then we have to find the time to sit and review and send our comments back.

I was hoping to have a meeting in the upcoming week with a creator of a comic book who has "made it." He was offering to give me some advice, but for whatever reason, we haven't been able to finalize a time. For the most part, I'm a slave to his schedule, though I want us to meet close where I work. Who thought logistics would play such a part in writing?

A milestone of sorts for Trophy Unlocked as this past week we passed the 200,000 pageview mark. While many blogs pass that much quicker, it is still something I'm proud of. It shows that we've stuck with it over the years. Adding to that total, by a whopping 17 pageviews so far, is my review of Beauty and the Beast (1991) which I published on Saturday morning. February is Animation month on Trophy Unlocked and there will be more in the coming weeks.

One of the things I do to help drive pageviews is to tweet on anniversary dates for titles we've reviewed or ones that fall on special occasions. Today I made the embarrassing discovery that I had tweeted about three titles a day early. Not a big deal, but I was about to post tweets for the same titles this morning. As I was writing the first one I had a strong sense of deja vu and looked to see I had already tweeted about them.

Began in earnest my rewrite of Familiar Stranger. I was trying to channel my editor and decided I needed to start the story further along. Still not sure if I've found that right spot yet, but feeling a little better to actually be writing again. However, I failed to make my thousand words a day goal by about 6,000 words give or take, but I'm getting there.

Sunday, February 5, 2017

A Week in Writing #128

This week I spent about as much time commuting as I did actually writing, but still, progress was made on at least one front, the comic book, but even that seemed as slow as the rush hour traffic. It wasn't until Wednesday, and only after my nudging, that we got any pages from our artist. I'm trying to be patient, but I don't want to fall behind on this. My schedule is four pages in two weeks from him and I'm trying to stay on top of him to meet that. So far this week, we have layouts for three pages, but they need minor tweaks.

I think I've written this before, but seeing the script drawn out is a very interesting experience and it makes you rethink things as you go sometimes. I know I can be a bit wordy, so I saw a chance to combine some dialogue if the artist tweaked a panel to show more characters.

Sometimes we go round and round over an image that I want him to draw. I try to describe what I'm looking for and when that doesn't work, I'll try to find an image on the internet to send. Have you tried to Google "Man looking over his left shoulder"? A lot of images come back, few of which is a man looking over his left shoulder. Got a few women not looking over their shoulders and even a picture of a man doing pulls ups and missing his left arm. But I managed to find one that I used and sent to him, "like this, but with a different expression" or something to that effect. Usually, he'll come around even if it is sometimes the third or fourth try.

Having a similar back and forth with our colorist over how to handle flashback sequences. I'm trying very hard not to fall back on what the previous colorist did. I still have that work, I paid for it, but I want what we do now to be different. I sort of liked how we had handled flashbacks in the past and had thought we had used sepia tones, but we hadn't as it turns out. She gave it a real try, but it's not working for me. Not her fault, it just isn't right. We decided to put a pin in it and come back to it at a later date. Otherwise, she's really making good progress and is easy to work with.

There's a lot of compromise with anything collaborative, even though I'm footing the bill. I'm not an expert at any of this. Speaking of that, I'm supposed to have a lunch this coming week with someone who has created their own comic book and is now producing it into a TV show. I sent him the current version of the comic book, but don't know what he thinks of it. He did touch base during the week, but nothing was scheduled yet.

Did complete and publish my review of Toy Story, which was my Saturday Morning Review on Trophy Unlocked. I thought I would kick off a week of animated film reviews while I work on a review of Charlie Chaplin's The Adventurer. Watched that and a few other of Chaplin's Mutual shorts out of respect for David Shepard, who died this past week. A true film lover and archivist, I was lucky enough to have taken his course at USC, back when I was working on my Ph.D.; not that I got that degree, but that's a story for a different post.

Had a big idea for Trophy Unlocked. Thought I'd create an Academy Award Review Hub of all the films we've reviewed that have been at least nominated for an Oscar. Who knew so many films we'd reviewed had nominations? It's quite a list as it turns out and I'm still doing research. Not sure if I'll get it posted before the Awards or not. Me and stretch goals.

Worked on my editing for Familiar Stranger, but I'm thinking I'm going to really need to just rewrite the thing. My subplot is sort of lame and I think I could punch it up easier by sitting at the computer than with pencil on paper. The story has a lot of problems, but I'm finding most of the unfinished work I have is in the same boat. I got to a certain point and never carried them to completion. I'm hoping to start on that this coming week.

Did my first assignment for my Writer's Digest online class. I waited until this morning to sit down and do it, but it never seemed like the right time before today. Either I was too rushed in the morning or too tired at night; maybe unmotivated is the right word; maybe lethargic. When you fall asleep after dinner it's all I can do to get up and do some writing. The assignment seemed like a hill too high to climb. One down four to go. Yikers!