Sunday, March 31, 2019

A Week in Writing #240 - Report from the Front - WonderCon

Well, let's start with some news from the other writing I do, the sort of stuff that ends up on the bottom of this blog, you know, shake things up. To begin with, no new queries, though I did hear back from one of the agents I wrote about representing Broken People.

On Wednesday morning, at my day job, a response from one of the three agents I have queried popped up in my personal emails. If you're like me, the dream is to someday be able to walk away from your job because you've finally made that as a writer. Like a lot of you, I still think that starts with getting representation, so my day was looking up. Each email from an agent holds within it the potential of that dream. I think you can see where this is going. "Not for us, thanks," didn't kill that dream but did defer it for another time and another agent to help make it come true.

The point of this blog isn't to call people out, at least not by name, but to provide a public record of what I'm doing or, at least, trying to do with my writing every week. So I'm not going to call the agent out by name but rather to state how defeating such a summary rejection can be to me or to anyone. While one query letter may seem a lot like the next one, these terse rejections do hurt a little. Now, I'll admit I had little hope this particular agent would take me, I only queried her because I hadn't anyone in quite a while and I had the necessary information about her (yes, the agent is a woman) and her requirements weren't all that different from previous agents, okay two, that I had already sent out. But there was no salutation at the start, no sincerely at the end, just "Not for us, thanks." I mean, I get more friendly form emails from junk mail. You have every right to reject me or any writer, you just might want to up your game a little. You never know what might happen in the future.

I did reach out to the editor on Familiar Stranger twice this past week, once on the phone and once a PM on Facebook. And, wait for it, neither got a response. The thing with cell phone numbers, and why I don't always give them out (yes I still have a landline for that reason), is that you know the owner of the phone has to have it close by and probably, in fact, saw it ringing, saw my name attached to the number and didn't answer. A home number you can assume the person isn't home but a cell phone means they made a conscious decision not to pick up or listen to the voicemail you left. Ouch!

So, enough about rejection for a while (at least until the next one arrives).

Nothing new from the artists on Powers Squared this week, though that doesn't mean nothing happened with the comic book. In fact, some really big news for us. We're a little over a month away from our first comic book store appearance (and signing). I won't go into many details now but it's our local store on Free Comic Book Day, so it should provide us with some good local exposure.

That also means there is a lot of legwork we're going to have to do in April to prepare. Still, it is an exciting opportunity. And if you read this, and you live in the Los Angeles area, we would love to see you come by. In addition to selling copies of Powers Squared, we'll be signing issues if someone wants us to as well as hopefully adding to our mailing list. If you're reading this and want to be apart of the mailing list, please go to and join the mailing list. It's on the front page, you can't miss it. We would really appreciate the support.

Paul and I ended up spending most of this past Tuesday night watching what turned out to be a two-hour infomercial for about the need for a mailing list before starting something like a Kickstarter project. I'm thinking next month we'll start using some of this text, enhanced of course, as part of a weekly email to people on the list to let them know what's going on with the book. I'll still do this blog and Paul and I will still do the weekly vlog, we'll just be making sure more people know about A Week in Powers Squared and how to buy the comic and, hopefully, join in on the conversation.

Paul and David talk about WonderCon amongst other topics on this week's vlog.
Paul, Trevor and I did attend this past weekend's WonderCon in Anaheim. Usually, I'll do a report from the Front with notes from the various panels and people that we meet, etc. I'm not a really big one on taking photos of cosplayers, there are better people at that than I, so if you're looking for that than this is not the place.

For anyone who has never been, WonderCon is sort of a baby-sized version of San Diego Comic Con. It is in some ways a dry-run for that larger event. A lot of the reason for going is to learn and to network with people you've met at previous cons or have met through other walks of life. So it was more a learning experience than anything else. I did wear a Powers Squared t-shirt, but I also wore a jean jacket which covered up most of it.

We only attended a couple of panels: How to Get Press Coverage and Forging Careers in Fandom. We had attended the first one last year as well. Led by Rik Offenberg from First Comic News, the panel discusses what has worked for them in the past and how they encourage you to write press releases to send to media outlets, including theirs.

When sending a press release you should always have a pitch. Offenberg mentioned that he had received an email that morning asking him to cover his Kickstarter but gave no details beyond that. That's the kind of email that will get deleted along with the spam. It's always a good idea to follow the website and engage them on social media before sending them your press release.

Also, a good idea is to supply links and images that the writer can use to write their story; the idea is to make it as easy on them as possible. The suggestion was also made to have an A story and a B story in the release that both come together in the end.

Sitting there listening to them, I thought about what sort of press release we could write to publicize our book signing and who we could send it to.

They also talked about doing podcasts, which I took to mean other people's podcasts and conventions. The Long Beach Comic Con, which unfortunately has already happened, was mentioned. The idea is to start small and work your way up. The rule on Podcasts is to choose one with 30 or more episodes since a lot of people stop and start them. Thirty shows a certain commitment.

Forging Careers in Fandom wasn't really aimed at me, though it was an interesting panel to attend. They talked about their jobs which for the most part are freelance and don't always pay a living wage. The panelists did stress sticking with it as part of their success. They do a lot of jobs from event planning to Community Manager for Dungeons and Dragons to Disney Bounding, which is not the sort of work that I would see myself doing, though it does show that you can if you persist, you can find work doing something you enjoy.

To round off the week, no new reviews written but I did publish one on Saturday on Trophy Unlocked: Sky Captain and the World of Tomorrow. We had seen the film in the theater and as I recall we really liked it. But does it hold up after 14 years? Find out and read the review.

So next week well be a shortened one. We're taking a family trip out of town for several days which I'm sure will keep me from doing much writing. I would hope that I could do some on the plane rides but last time we flew I couldn't even open the laptop on the tray, the seats were that close together. But I will, of course, report all here next Sunday. Keep writing until then.

Sunday, March 24, 2019

A Week in Writing #239

It seemed like every time I turned around this week there was something going on with Powers Squared. Not that it was always underfoot, but there always seemed to be something that needed to or should be done.

We made two unboxing videos this week, the first one when we received new issues from Artithmeric (Kirby Good and Evil, Issues 7 and 8), and a second one when we received our Merch (T-shirts) the next night. Since we didn't want to turn into an unboxing video channel, despite our first such video being our biggest one yet, we delayed the second one until Sunday morning. Perhaps it would be more accurate to say it got delayed until Sunday morning.

Thursday I posted a preview image for this week's thumbnail on Instagram just because I want us to be active. Friday I post a poll question on our website. For the first time in 26 weeks, I posted a question a second time. While I'd like to say it was on purpose, I have to admit it was a mistake. I posted the same question that I had on week #13. Back then it got a whopping one vote and as it turns out that choice is not on this week's question. Again, another accident but I decided that I would post the same question in 13weeks. Let's see if anyone notices.

On Friday, we received inks from Rachel for pages 17-20 and the cover for Issue #10 as well as pages from Nina, 5-8 of the same issue. And finally, on Saturday night, pages 1-4 lettered by Trevor. He had been having some issues with WeTransfer which is how we send and receive pages to be lettered with him. I think that's a leftover from the first issues and when we used WeTransfer to communicate with the artist and colorists.

With Nina, we use Dropbox, which this week got to be full, so I had to offload the files prior to issue #9. I've already sort of saved them on my own computer as part of the workflow but I saved those files to a flash drive, you know, just in case. I'll admit that  I do a lot of backing up with this as well as all my writing. I like having a copy with me of everything just in case something comes up while I'm away from my computer.

Paul and I shot our weekly vlog on Sunday afternoon and posted it on our YouTube channel. After which we shot a little promo video for Instagram. Now, I just tuned into this, after what 26 weeks, but I've been sort of double posting about our weekly videos. First through YouTube hitting sites like our Facebook page, Twitter and Tumblr, which are the same platforms I can access through Instagram. So I decided to type in the web address into the description of the Instagram video and then I can skip doing the individual shares from YouTube. The goal is always to spend as little time as you have to on social media, isn't it? (I'm probably passing on the obvious.)

For Trophy Unlocked, I finished my review of Sky Captain and The World of Tomorrow, which I should publish next week. This week's Saturday Morning Review was Paul's take on Devil May Cry 5. Planning ahead, Trevor wrote a review of Shazam!, which we saw as part of an early screening through Fandango. We're going to save it back until the week of the film's release, so please look for it then.

As far as Broken People, I did send off two more query letters this past Thursday, mostly so I didn't have to write here that I had not sent any again. So for those playing at home, it's three queries out and no rejections (at least so far). Sadly, didn't really have time for much more this week. Sometimes this gets pushed to the back burner though I never want it to go out.

Hopefully, this next week, I'll get a chance to do more with this part of my writing. I'm going to contact the editor on Familiar Stranger. I know I sound like the little engine that could but I will, I promise you. Will I get a response? Well, that will be up to him.

Sunday, March 17, 2019

A Week in Writing #238

Why is it the first week of Daylight Saving Time always kicks me in the ass? I have enough sleeping as it is but for some reason, it's always worse the first week in whenever the time changes; spring forward or fall back, it's always the same. Just a little precursor to explain why this wasn't my most productive week.

I had in mind to write a bit of a rant about having to wait but I've calmed down a bit since Friday. I don't know about you but I'm not getting any younger and so it bugs me when people always make you wait to get a response, sometimes months. And I'm not talking about agents, that's bad enough but all the well-wishers, advisors and editors who don't make an effort to communicate back, even though they say they will. I'm sometimes sorry that I don't point people out by name on this blog but I know the momentary delight I would have in naming people would also probably mean that we're no longer "working" together so I don't. I will say good things about people but I don't want to be calling people out by name when I'm angry/disappointed. Chances are they don't read this blog or its excerpts which I put out on various social media sites but why take the chance? This might be the week they read it and there would be a bridge burned in my wake. But I'm really getting tired of waiting on people. As I said, Death inspires me like a dog inspires a rabbit to quote Twenty-one Pilots, why doesn't it inspire you, too? I want to get as much done as I can and waiting for feedback is not how I want to spend my time. (Trust me, this is way calmer than what was going through my fevered brow on Friday afternoon.)

Now that I got that off my chest, I can talk about what happened this past week.

Rachel sent us pencils for the last four pages of Issue #10 as well as the cover, all of which look good. I still find it exciting to see the story come alive through her drawings. In some cases, it has been a while since I've seen the script so seeing it drawn out makes me like it all over again. And there is quite a difference between the thumbnails and pencils. Things we liked really come into focus and it is only when we see the pencils does it start to look like a comic book.

No word from our colorist so far this month. Nina just attended her first convention as an artist and it seems to have gone pretty well for her. Did receive an invoice today, which means pages are forthcoming.

Added another shirt to our merch at Sorry, I have to mention such mundane things, but I do want to make money from the venture. It is, after all, the desire to make it self-sustaining.

Still kicking around ideas for the Kickstarter. Trying to come up with a printed option that we can afford. Spent one night this week making the pages smaller to fit in with the publisher's template. Kind of a pain and I still have more to do to get them ready. After #10, I'd like to get back to a more standard page layout to save me from having to keep doing this.

Paul and I uploaded our 25th vlog A Week in Powers Squared, which you can watch here.

Thursday was Pi day = pie day, so we had to go out to get pizza. That, of course, means less got done than usual but sometimes you have to put family first. Am I right? On Saturday, we went to see Wonder Park, which Trevor has reviewed, but we also decided to get new phones, since ours are about 6 generations old and our then-current carrier didn't want to do anything to help us. Well, that turned into three hours to get everything moved over, except I had to spend time at home transferring my own files and I really don't want to get into the frustration all over again, but suffice to say that pretty much killed another day.

Talking with my co-creators about doing a pitch packet for Powers Squared, you know to make it into an animated TV series. We own the property and we've worked about a fair number of stories and I think it would be a good series. Besides, what's the harm in trying? We had attended a session about Pitch Packets at GZAExpo or through them. Not sure what sort of time commitment we're talking about, but it would seem like the next step in some ways.

As far as other writings go, I've thought about The Runaway but haven't had a chance to work on it or anything else related to J.D. Barrister, including sending more query letters, which I know I need to do and harassing the editor on Familiar Stranger (see above rant). This week for sure, and I've probably been saying that for weeks now.

For Trophy Unlocked, I finished a rather lengthy review of Gone With the Wind (1939) which was this past Saturday Morning's review. Hadn't seen the film in years and didn't want to miss out on the opportunity. Trevor also published a review of Wonder Park. Wanted to start working on one for Sky Captain and the World of Tomorrow, which we watched last Friday night, but my computer was out of juice.

That was the kind of week in writing it was for me, out of juice.

Sunday, March 10, 2019

A Week in Writing #237

Quite a week when you consider that two new issues of Power Squared dropped on Wednesday. For the first time since we started producing issues, we published in both digital and print-on-demand. That same night, we made an unboxing video of the first five issues which arrived in printed form from Artithmeric that same day.

Our March 6th unboxing video.

Paul and I have been making weekly videos for the past 6 months and we usually average anywhere from 0 to 2 views, which I've written about before is kind of depressing. Our unboxing video, for us, went viral, as we had nearly 50 views as of Sunday when we posted our 24th A Week in Powers Squared videos on our YouTube channel. Our subscribers have more than doubled to 7 and our Twitter feed is growing as well. I won't say we're on our way but the trend is up. Please keep it up.

I find publication day a little anti-climatic. My expectations are too high, I guess. I think people at work are going to come up and congratulate me on the new issues. In truth, most people don't know and even fewer even care, so while I'm all excited, it's a work day as usual. Receiving the printed versions add some anticipation to the day, which was cool.

Cool to finally find our listing on comixology, too bad it's the wrong issue.

Comixology didn't do us any favors, again. While last time they arranged for some release publicity, which resulted in sales (?), that was more making up for the lack of doing anything the first time around. Even with some publicity, getting noticed on comixology is akin to being some show on Netflix. Someone has to know you're there and then search for you. While you can search for Powers Squared on comixology and find the issues (go ahead, I'll wait while you look...and you'll want to hit the add to cart button...good, now the other one...good, now pay...good. So we're back.), I wanted to see if you could find us through the multitude of new releases that day. There were 45 pages of digital first releases that day and while I did find a Powers Squared issue on page 30, it wasn't one of the new ones for some f-ed up reason. It was Issue #3, which came out last summer, you know one of the ones with some pre-release publicity.

I'm still exploring other formats but they each require their own amount of extra work to get done, as they either have their own templates or they have limitations on how much can be uploaded at any given time. That takes time, so I do them as I can. The latest one I'm trying is Kindle Digital Printing, which, while an Amazon company, like comixology, has it's own software that you have to use to build your book. When I tried it for the first time, it took about ten tries to get it to build the first issue. It kept crapping out when I added the last page of the issue, totally closing out and making me start again. Very frustrating.

In a bit of crossing the streams, in our latest weekly video, Paul and I discussed the recently released Captain Marvel movie, which we had seen on Saturday morning and which was also reviewed by me on Trophy Unlocked. (See how I made a transition there.) Sort of a busy week on the blog as well.  On Saturday morning, we published my review of Bohemian Rhapsody. On Friday, Trevor published a review hub for the Devil May Cry videogame series in honor of the release of the 5th installment. On Thursday, Paul published a review for the videogame Bendy and the Ink Machine.

I'm also working on a review for Gone With the Wind. I'm about 2700 words in and probably have that much to go. Sometimes big movies take longer because there is so much to stay and, frankly, after 80 years, I'm not worried about ruining it for someone.

In what has become a backburner project, I haven't had much time for The Runaway or anything to do with the J.D. Barrister series. No new query letters, I'm sorry to say. And no word of any kind from the editor on Familiar Stranger. Hard not to feel ignored!

So, this upcoming week, I'm hoping that the time change won't take it out of me too bad. I'm hoping to finish my review of Gone With the Wind, work some more on new platforms for Powers Squared, and get back to actually writing. A stretch goal would be a query letter or two. Boy does that make me nervous to even write that.

Sunday, March 3, 2019

A Week in Writing #236

This was another week of writing where it was once again dominated by Powers Squared. A lot of time was spent not on writing but on creating uploadable files for various outlets. Each platform has its own limitations and requirements so I spent a good deal of time making files or renaming existing ones.

While we now have a print-on-demand version, through, we've been trying to branch out to more outlets as well, including other digital platforms and perhaps other print-on-demand websites. I've been renaming files and making multiple .pdfs for one issue as required by another digital platform. I regret that I haven't yet uploaded files to that new site.

Earlier this week, I was surprised when I opened the Powers Squared twitter account @Martyand Eli, and saw images of a printed version of our comic book and the following comments:

Super cool. And I was a little jealous since I'm still waiting for my issues to arrive.

It was really cool to see such a great reaction from anyone.

That same day, I received notification that our new issues were going to drop on on March 6th. It seems like forever since these issues were finished but I always want to have some in reserve. We also decided to make them available day and date on Artithmeric, so we've uploaded the files (more uploading), but it will be really cool to see them. I still have to order them myself.

I'm exploring another print-on-demand site as well, looking for a possible tier gift for our Kickstarter. I said I wanted to do it in February but that's now gone by the wayside. I want this to work so I'm trying to make sure we have good gifts if we fund. Printed versions would make a good alternative to a digital-only release.

I notified First Comic News about the date on Thursday and on Saturday, their reviewer published his reviews. I can't say that I wasn't a little disappointed at his 3 out of 5 ratings for both and no mention of the new look, but there is nothing wrong with getting some advance publicity. Sometimes, you have to move on. I'm more interested in getting the publicity than the exact review I'd like.

With the new reviews, I had to make more updates to the website to accommodate them, which is more time spent on things other than writing. All necessary but all time is precious and fleeting. I do that and I'm not writing.

On Friday, Rachel sent us thumbnails for the last four pages of Issue #10, as well as possible covers. Paul and I didn't sit down until Saturday, but we managed to go through them and give her our feedback. For the most part, we picked one set for each page, though we did have some exchanges and comments on Panel 5 on three of the pages, which is more of a coincidence than anything else.

Nina is busy prepping for her first Artist Alley appearance at The Atlanta Sci-fi and Fantasy Expo next weekend, so the coloring can wait for a week or so. If you're at the Expo, please drop by and support her.

In other writing, I did finish my review of Bohemian Rhapsody but that was not Trophy Unlocked's Saturday Morning Review. That belonged to Paul's review of Kingdom Hearts III, which is a game he's been waiting for 13 years to play. Patience finally paid off so it was fitting he got to review it and that it would the 925th on the blog he started.

I did manage to squeeze in a little more work on The Runaway but that was fleeting and on only one day.

As promised, I did reach out to the "editor" on Familiar Stranger. I'm assuming he's still alive but, as per the usual, no reply to my email. I can't help to feel a little insulted and very disappointed in his lack of response. We are coming up on a year since I sent him the manuscript. I don't know what possibly could be delaying any response from him. How hard is it to return an email? Well, if he's been any indication, very hard indeed.

Well, that's this week. I imagine next week will also be a lot about Powers Squared, so stay tuned. Would really appreciate it if you could take a look at the new issues and even tell your friends. If one of them is my editor, tell him all will be forgiven if he just writes back.