Sunday, March 25, 2018

A Week in Writing #187 - Report From the Front - WonderCon 2018

Busy week this week. To begin with, spent a good portion of the week working on edits for Familiar Stranger, the oft-written about but never seen novel I've been working on for longer than I care to admit. This is the point in my process where I print out the pages and re-read them and make edits in pencil as I do. It's a chance to really read it, which is something I realize I don't do when it's only on the computer screen.

Sitting down with thirty to forty pages at a time is a real visceral experience that I do enjoy. While no one really loves rewriting, I like the editing process. I'm up to page 208 and feel like I'm making it a stronger book and rethinking certain aspects as I go. As an example, I've vacillated in different rewrites between someone driving a pickup truck or a van and rethinking it, since I have them working as a baker when they're not in this story, a van seems to be truer to the character. I know it may seem simple (and possibly stupid) but it is part of making the overall story better. Details help.

No new reviews written this week; I'm starting to miss writing them actually, but this past Friday night was not movie night, rather Cowboy Bebop night as we finished watching the series for a panel we attended, that we'll get to later when we get to WonderCon. Did publish a new Saturday Morning Review, however, Lady Bird. I know you're saying, hey that was out last year why the delay? Well, to be honest, when the film first came out, it wasn't really on our radar. When it was nominated for several Oscars, including Best Picture, we finally watched it. Then there is slating it in for publication, as we want to have new content every week. Sorry for the delay in getting to it.

There was some work on Powers Squared this week, as the artist finished her work on Issue #6, including a cover. Most of the time, however, was spent on social media as we've finally gotten serious about getting the word out. Last week, we relaunched our Instagram account: and our Facebook page: Like our website: they're easy to spot as they contain some version of this image (accept no substitute):

Coming soon, a twitter account and on the horizon videos about the creation and future of the book. So much to look forward to as we try to spread our social media wings. Issues 3 - 5 have been accepted at comiXology and you'll find out here when a release date is sent.

Part of that included attending the recent WonderCon in Anaheim this past Saturday. We all attended a panel first thing in the day called How To Get Press Coverage, which was very informative. The panel included many in the media who cover comics or who have comics they're promoting or are in promotion. Learned that Press Releases are still a real thing and that there are other places to ply your promotion efforts besides the obvious. Here's a tip, the military press, since servicemen have a lot of time to spend reading and read comic books.

Manged to make contact with the moderator of the panel and will be following up with him this week. I wasn't planning on hitting him up about Powers Squared, but when he asked what I had I fumbled into my elevator talk, which was a bit rusty. Still, he seemed interested and gave me his card.

Also, Paul and I attended another panel later in the day called Writing Great Dialogue. While all of the panelists were informative, Mairghread Scott really stood out. She's written for both comic books and animation. A lot of what you hear in these panels is somewhat common sense, but it's obvious that she's studied the craft and is applying what she knows.

We did spend time on the floor and ran into some very helpful people in Artist Alley, including the artist Sean Galloway, currently our only Instagram follower, and some members of the Koffee and Komics group that we've belonged to but haven't attended any of their monthly get-togethers. Very cool people.

We also managed to slap a howdy on a couple of friends we've met through our con attending, including Doug Neff, who runs the Comic Creator Connection at WonderCon and SDCC amongst other endeavors, and an editor at IDW who we've been running into for years at conventions, Wonder, Comic and Bot. We gave them each our latest issues of Powers Squared and asked for comment.

Attending conventions has turned into a little more work than play sometimes, as we try to maintain our tenuous network of friends in the industry and make a point to attend panels that are informative. However, it is not all work and no play.

One of the nice things about WonderCon, as opposed to its big brother Comic-Con, is that you have a real chance to get into popular panels. The Anaheim Convention Center recently added a couple of really big rooms, so we were able to get seats together in popular panels like Cartoon Voices and a screening of an episode of the Netflix series, A Series of Unfortunate Events, hosted by Nathan Fillion. We attended the latter so that we could get into the panel that followed, Celebrating 20 Years of Cowboy Bebop (see how it circles back to Friday night). The latter was surprisingly sparsely attended but was still a fun way to end our WonderCon.

For the next week, the goals are to keep up the editing on Familiar Stranger, make more progress on the content of Powers Squared and also to work on those press releases and to update our social media presence. Whew, a busy week ahead for sure.

Sunday, March 18, 2018

A Week in Writing #186

Looking back this was a pretty good week all the way around when it comes to writing. Daylight Savings Time only weirded me out a little, as I only had one sleepless night. I was pretty much tired all week but I managed to work through it.

A lot seemed to be happening with Powers Squared this week. Not only did we hear routinely from the artists involved but we also made some headway on putting together some ideas for promotion. First, on Thursday, we had a lunch to discuss ideas with me, the boys and a guy from work who is involved with social media and had some ideas about what we should be doing.

We discussed the usual ideas, videos on YouTube, Twitter, Facebook and Instagram, all things that have been mentioned here before. We're, of course, still in the planning stages but we're starting to put together a plan. The idea at present is to do one long interview and then divide it into shorter videos. That's the plan, at least for now. We've even lined up an interviewer for when we're ready to proceed.

We've also made some updates to Powers Squared Comic, including adding drop-down menus and organizing the issues and characters together. We've added biographies for the current creative team and added some preview pages as well. For some reason, I'm having problems uploading jpegs for a couple of issues. I'm not sure why, but after about twenty to thirty minutes of trying, I put it away for now. So only Issues 1 - 3 have previews at present.

Below are some preview pages we've uploaded. For the few of you who have already purchased the books, two of these will seem familiar. These are the first pages of the first three issues.

Also on Thursday, we finally had the oft-discussed and oft-delayed talk with our connection at Comixology. Now the plan is to have them process our submission and then hold it until we can put together some promotion. Even he's going to publicize the issues on their website and then possibly some other stories about the twins angle, i.e. twins doing a comic book about twins. No promises, but we'll see what, if anything, comes of it.

No new reviews were written, at least by me, this week. I had originally planned to post a review of Lady Bird on Trophy Unlocked, but instead, on Saturday morning, we published a review of Yu-Gi-Oh! The Movie (Remastered) which Paul and Trevor attended this past week. Got to keep things fresh.

On the Familiar Stranger front, I managed to finish the rewrite I've been working on like forever. At present, it's 86,303 words and 467 pages long. Now comes the print it out, read and edit portion of our show. I'm going to start that process this next week. Not sure how fast that will go, but I must admit I'm a little happy to get to this stage.

Well, that about summarizes this past week. In the coming week, we've got WonderCon on Saturday so there will be some prep and ready for that. Look for another Report from the Front next time.

Sunday, March 11, 2018

A Week in Writing #185

Some weeks I know I complain about not getting a lot accomplished, but this isn't one of those weeks. For some unknown reason, I feel like I got a lot done for a change and mostly with Familiar Stranger and Powers Squared.

But for a change of pace, let's start with Trophy Unlocked. No new reviews written, though we did publish two this weekend. First it was Three Billboards Outside of Ebbing Missouri for our Saturday Morning Review. Then on Sunday, one of the other writers published a review of the videogame God of War III Remastered for PS4.

Pageviews have been done most of the year, with our new reviews, like the ones we just published, being overlooked in favor of older reviews, especially Romeo and Juliet  (1968) and Othello (1995). R&J is now our second most read review with nearly 1400 pageviews. I have a strong feeling that they're studying the play at some university and our review is being used to avoid actually reading the play. I've also noticed that Othello is getting a lot of pageviews recently as well, actually more this week than Romeo, so I'm thinking some college is now up to that play in their Shakespeare class. While I'm glad the reviews are being read and information is being shared, I would encourage people to read other reviews as well. End of blatant plug.

Made some real headway this week with Familiar Stranger. I'm up to nearly 80,000 words and on page 435, about 5000 words further along than last week (this is supposed to be a thousand words a day after all). I know there are some issues with this version, so I've got another rewrite to go before I show it to anyone. It's going to come in around 86,000 words, which is sort of short for me, but well within the guidelines for the genre which is 70,000-90,000. If things go well, I might be done this week, though I wouldn't be surprised if it's not the next.

I know there are still things I can tighten up. And since this has taken so long, I sort of need to refresh myself with some of the characters which I know might sound wierd. I'm what they call a seat-of-the- pants writer or pantser. I have a general idea of what is going to happen before I start, I might even have mapped out a scene or two along the way, but otherwise, I write from point A to point B and its not always pretty along the way.

I don't believe in endless rewrites either, but I know this needs at least one more from me. Once I'm done with this version I'll print it out (at home) and then read it with a pencil and edit it that way, rather than on screen, which is how I'm doing it now.

There seemed to be a lot of activity this week with Powers Squared, though we don't have anymore finished pages this week, a lot of things have been settled. I'm really impressed with how fast this issue is going as most of the work should be done this month. I'm very pleased with how everyone seems to be working together. As an example, our colorist asked if the artist could add a few details and she did and very quickly, like an overnight turnaround.

We're having a couple of meetings next week, both on Thursday to discuss marketing for Powers Squared. I believe I wrote about videos, etc., and that's what will be part of the discussion. I've also decided to look for other platforms to publish on, digital and print. So I'm hoping we can grow this brand a little in the next few months. I would still very much like to Kickstart an issue or two to help with the expense of producing but I think people have to have heard of you before they're going to give us money.

One of our meetings is with our contact at comiXology and this time we're going a more direct route of calling cell phones rather than going through the conference call BS we did the last time. It takes two to tango and I'd prefer to know we're not meeting right away rather than spend a half hour for someone to pick up. Hopefully, this time it will be a more productive half-hour.

In the coming week, besides the marketing meetings, I imagine there will be more to do with Powers Squared. We got updates, including questions and pages, practically every day this past week. We try to be as quick to turn things around as we can, but sometimes it takes us more than 24 hours.

I also updated the website this week as well. Some minor changes, but I did add some more images and started a page called Powers Using Powers, on which I hope to discuss the powers the boys have. So more to come on that page.

Here are some of the images I added to the website:

Marty using super speed from Issue # 2

Eli being invisibe in Issue # 3

Discovering time travel in issue # 5

And then there's Familiar Stranger, which is sort of coming in for a landing. Again, I'm hoping for this week but no promises to land this book. I'm anxious to move onto something new with the story and characters.

One thing that has to be factored in this week is Daylights Savings Time, which started this morning. In the past, as I've written, these time changes can get the better of me. Factor into that we're supposed to get rain in Los Angeles this week and my time on the road may increase as well. Time is always the elusive treasure when you're a writer with a day job, so bear with me.

Sunday, March 4, 2018

A Week in Writing #184

Every time I sit down to write this I'm reminded of all that I didn't get done this past week but sometimes I should give myself credit for what I do get done. Even little bits are moving the needle forward, aren't they?

I'll start where I usually do, Powers Squared. Feels like we're making real progress is being made both with the comic book and with putting together a plan to promote the book. We now have inked pages up to page 16 for Issue #6, colored pages up to page 8, and one page of lettering. While Paul and I make decisions throughout the process, it is really the work of others that are getting us here.

We're also getting serious about figuring out how to promote the book. Right now, and its still in the planning stages, we're thinking about setting up a Facebook page, a Twitter account, Instagram and possibly even making videos. Sounds ambitious but probably necessary. I will update here as plans are mapped out.

As I've reported here, we did finally make contact, after three months, with our contact at comiXology. He even scheduled a conference call with Paul and me for last Thursday night to discuss what we're planning and for us to ask him to do something for us to promote Issue #3. Well, two of the three of us made it. We called in a minute before the meeting was to start and thirty minutes later hung up when it was crystal clear that he wasn't going to dial into his own call.

Waiting is the hardest part.

He did email us, about forty-five minutes later, telling us that there was an emergency that prevented him from participating. Now, I know what you're saying, emergencies come up and you have to cut him some slack. Normally I would agree but this is the second time he'd stood us up on a conference call. In 2016, he set up another conference call with us and then forgot about it. I'm not saying that we're taking our ball and going home only that it does hurt to feel disrespected and with your son at your side no less. I didn't start this blog to call people out and this is the closest I've come to wanting to do that but I'll resist.

We'll try again and, of course, I'll report here how it does or doesn't go.

Work on Trophy Unlocked continued with a review of The Big Sick (2017) which was nominated for Best Original Screenplay. We had actually watched it several weeks ago but had saved the review back so we could do a month devoted to shorts.

Also, over the weekend, watched two more films nominated for the Academy Awards: Lady Bird (2017) and Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri (2017) and wrote reviews for both. They should be appearing over the next couple of weeks.

Finally, onto Familiar Stranger. I did make it to that section that I've been writing to reach since I started this current rewrite. However, due to other obligations, I didn't get as far as I would hope, I never do. The current count is 75514 words and 411 pages.

So what's up for this coming week, no doubt more of the same. We'll try to reschedule our meeting and hopefully, there will be more pages of Powers Squared. But I'm really hoping to get more done on Familiar Stranger. My hope is that now that I'm into a section I've already written that it might go a little faster, but we'll see.