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.