Sunday, May 26, 2019

A Week in Writing #248

Welcome to my weekly musings about my writing; what I've done or haven't done this past week towards my writing goals. While it often seems like there is more I haven't done I still try to keep things moving forward.

Every week, it seems, the emphasis is on Powers Squared and this doesn't start out like this will be an exception to the rule. Much to talk about, or write about in this case.

To begin with after what has been a couple of weeks of no new pages, this week we received not only pencils for four pages, but colors for four more, and a cover. Receiving the pages is great but it does mean more work for Paul and me, as we need to sit down and review everything. Not that that is a bad thing but that it does take precedence over everything else.

We are blessed to be working with both artists on our project. They are both good but also are willing to take criticism and even help out when we've made a mistake (I've made a mistake). As an example, I was looking over the last set of pages when I realized an error in one of the previous ones. Again, the mistake was mine, the script called for what Rachel drew but it suddenly occurred to me it wouldn't work well in connection to another story we had written for the future. Based on the timeline, having one character show up on page 8 in this issue wouldn't work with them showing up in a later story on a different timeline. I don't want to get too much into the weeds about it but you'll have to trust me it wouldn't work as well. Rachel remedied that without any fuss and enhanced the panel at that going above and beyond what we were looking for.

Nina sent us four pages and a cover this week as well. The cover is very good and eye-catching and there is even a real challenge that she more than rose up to. Again, without going into too much detail, we wanted to see something colored from a certain point of view and she managed to come up with something that works really well.

We are also prepping for our first real convention next Sunday. Powers Squared will be attending the San Fernando Valley Comic Book Convention, which will hopefully help us in the same way as Free Comic Book Day did. I believe I've said this before, while we want to sell comic books, the main goal is to get more people to sign up for our newsletter/mailing list in prep for our first Kickstarter, which I'm hoping to launch soon. I know I've written that before, but this time for sure, as Rocky would say when Bullwinkle was supposed to pull a rabbit out of his hat. If you haven't signed up yourself, dear reader, you can still do that by clicking here.

In other writing news, I started to work on The Runaway again this past week. As I've done before, I'm trying to get a running start on the rewrite by reading it and making changes as I go. The goal is to end up where I left off with a new sense of direction and purpose.

I also worked more on a short synopsis for Broken People. I'm not happy with it yet. I decided it was time to write one when I came across an agent wanting one as part of the query submission process. No new queries this past week though and no new rejections either, so it's sort of a win-win, right?

I don't know how many weeks we're on since I last heard from the editor on Familiar Stranger. Too many that's for sure. I'm a little embarrassed to say it but my mother got involved. She was the one who had introduced us originally and she took it on herself to reach out to him. Funny thing, when she dialed his number she got the same result I do, which is a chance to leave a message, which apparently goes out into the ether, never to be responded to again. I'm thinking about taking the unusual step of actually calling him where he works, you know to see if he's still alive. I'd really hate it if I've been ragging on someone who has left this mortal coil. That would be the only real excuse for all of the radio silence. But I somehow doubt it is all that cut and dry. Oh, but I have to try, don't I?

No new reviews this week, though I'm contemplating doing one on Sabrina. partly because I've recently seen it on TCM but also because I'm reading a Humphrey Bogart biography. We haven't gotten to that part of his story yet but what the hell.

My lack of writing them doesn't mean the Trophy Unlocked shelves are bare. Trevor wrote a review of Batman Beyond: The Return of The Joker as part of Batman month on the blog. The month-long dedication to the caped-crusader was his idea, so it's fitting he would close it out.

Well, that's about it for now. Hope to have more to write next week. In the meantime, keep writing.

Sunday, May 19, 2019

A Week in Writing #247 | Distractions and Writing a Synopsis

Okay, I'll be the first to say it, I didn't get to everything I wanted to this past week. Sometimes I think I never will but that's part of the fun, I guess, in writing. There's always something else to be working on.

There were a couple of factors this week. I've been trying to spend some time each week with ComixLaunch's ListLaunch seminars. That got off because last week we had an assignment to try to come up with a personal brand. It was only supposed to take a couple of hours but I never had the time, or want for that matter, to spend this much time on something so I never got to the next seminar. I never really liked homework and perhaps wrongly saw this as a major timesuck when time is at such a premium during the week. I played at it a little bit but I never have that much time to spend on it. I'm probably going to skip this and go on to the next seminar without having completed it.

Time is one of the reasons I don't watch much television during the week. Let me restate that by saying the TV may be on but I'm not really watching. I don't consider reruns of Friends as something I'm watching. They're on, in the background, as a sort of wallpaper. I don't need or want complete silence when I write. Even now I'm listening to a Sirius XM Alt Nation Xtra channel. There are very few shows I really watch and they are usually connected to a meal.

Well, this past week, one of the few shows I actually watch, The Big Bang Theory, went off the air and the final episode was an hour long, which delayed things to the point that a lot of the night was over before I could get started. Not to say die, I did work a little on a synopsis for Broken People, the rewrite I'm trying to query; so far with no effect. I came across one agent who wanted a synopsis, which I didn't have in my back pocket to send. I figured I'm fairly close, however, having written one for A Killer Blog, the predecessor to the current story. So I've spent a couple of nights this past week working on that synopsis. And this is the short one at that. It's going to take some work to get into shape, but I know it's a necessary part of the process.

Sadly, I don't think I got back to The Runaway at all. Nor have I heard back from the editor on Familiar Stranger. It's sort of like he doesn't exist or more like I don't exist in his universe. It's been more than a year since I sent it to him. I guess if you're immortal, time doesn't mean anything to you.  That's the only explanation and even that doesn't make much sense.

I did complete a review for Trophy Unlocked, Heat Lightning (1934). Not sure when it will appear since we're still in the midst of Batman month on the blog. This past Saturday's Morning Review was Batman & Robin, which Paul reviewed.

Powers Squared was a bit more active this week. To begin with, we received 4 penciled pages from Rachel. Paul and I had a couple of suggestions, which she turned around pretty quickly.

We paid for our table, so in two week's time, we'll be at the San Fernando Valley Comic Book Convention looking for additions to the mailing list and to hopefully introduce new readers to Powers Squared.

One thing that goes hand in hand with readers is criticism. Now that people are reading Powers Squared they're making their opinions known, always to our face. I'm not going to identify who said what or what they said but only it is part of the process for every creative. People have opinions which sometimes sting a little, but at the same time, you have to learn to live with. There is no need to get into a tit for tat with people, that's a no-win situation. But I do see why many actors and artists don't read the reviews.

Paul and Trevor's photo from the story in The Roundup.

Speaking of media coverage, which I really wasn't but go with it anyway, Powers Squared got a bit of it this past week. "Dynamic Duo on and off the page" was a feature story written about Paul and Trevor by the Features Editor of Pierce College's The Roundup, the student paper at the community college, the boys attended. You can read it here.

One of the things we've toyed around with is the idea of pitching Powers Squared as an animated TV series, it's even in the article linked to above. Well, to that end, I began the very tentative steps towards putting one of those together. Like doing a comic book, we really don't have any idea what one looks like or how much work it takes, but we're willing to learn. More as that develops.

So that looks to be it for this week. Keep writing.

Sunday, May 12, 2019

A Week in Writing #246 | Things Don't Always Go as Planned

I had high hopes about this week. With Powers Squared's first signing out of the way, I thought I would be free to pursue other writing, like The Runaway, query letters and reviews for Trophy Unlocked. Some of that went off the rails by a private disagreement. I won't go into details, but a professional relationship that had lasted about ten years came to an end. I don't name names in this blog and won't do so this time, but it involved Trevor and his work being valued.

It wasn't the disagreement per se that caused the problem, it was all the falderal that went with it. The time spent writing and rewriting how to respond and the sleepless night that ensued. If I get into a disagreement late at night that really ruins my sleep and one sleepless night can ruin a week as the next evening I'm too tired to get much done. I know I sound like the Princess and the Pea, but so much of the time there is a very thin line for me between sleeping and being totally awake.

I did start to work on The Runaway again but didn't get much done. I had an idea that I wanted to introduce early in the story and reference later. Inserting it was more awkward than I had anticipated. I made the edit but I can't say I was all that happy with it. I still need to spend some time on it, so finger's crossed for next week.

No new pages from either artist on Powers Squared, which is not unusual for the work. They both have work to do and I trust they will do it. Trevor, meanwhile, has caught up with the lettering. Two of the last four pages didn't require his work but that, too, is not unusual. Powers Squared is generally pretty talky, but sometimes there are whole pages without any dialogue.

We did decide this week to try our hand at a local convention. We looked briefly at Long Beach Comic Con, which takes place in August. The costs start at $300 and just seem to go up from there. Not only would we have to get resale licenses from the state, but we would also have to pay for things like electricity, and wifi on top of the fee. I don't think at this point it would be worth the cost. We might get more names on the mailing list, but I don't think we would make back the money or come close. At least not yet.

While the LBCC might be a bridge too far, we did decide to try The San Fernando Valley Comic Book Convention, which takes place next month, June 2nd. It's a one-day convention and lasts only six hours, but we thought it would be a good starting point for us. A way to get our feet wet at a reasonable price.

We ordered enough copies of Issue #1 to replace what we sold on Free Comic Book Day, so we're pretty set. We drove by the site this weekend to see where it was. It's a dining hall in a shopping center, but from small things, big things one day come. The goal is not to sell comic books, which we wouldn't mind at all, but to add names to the mailing list.

I did manage to work on reviews for Trophy Unlocked, including one for Blondie Johnson, a Joan Blondell film from 1933 and one for Heat Lightning (1934), which I'm still working on. Both are very short films, 69 and 64 minutes respectively, and will appear sometime in the future. Currently, we're running a month-long salute to Batman. My review of the 1989 feature ran this past Saturday on the blog. Check it out and let me know what you think.

I have high hopes for next week, I mean you have to stay positive, right? I'll be back to report on everything next time. So until then, keep writing.

Sunday, May 5, 2019

A Week in Writing #245: Powers Squared's First Signing

This blog of late has turned into A Week in Powers Squared. Everything for the last few weeks has been aimed toward an event that took place on Saturday morning. As part of the store's Free Comic Book Day, Galaxy of Comics, our local shop, offered to let us have a signing; an opportunity we jumped on.

I wish I could write that the rest of the week was just getting things ready for the event but there were, of course, bumps in the road. In order to have copies to sell at the event, I had ordered hard copies of all seven issues that have been published. We figured if any issue sold, it would be Issue #1, so I ordered 25 copies of that. For Issue #2, in case someone wanted the entire story arc, we ordered 15 copies. For the remaining issues, I order 5 copies each. At least that's what I thought I had done. Instead of receiving five copies of Issue #3, Ka-Blam, which we had been using for these copies, sent me 10 copies of Issue #5.

I found this out on Monday night when I got home from work. Not sure what to expect, we looked for a local backup printer. Our first thought was Kinko's, which we have used for several school projects over the years. (These were the same people we went to about a banner, which we found online for about 1/3 of the cost.) There were issues with the files, and I had to spend most of Monday night fooling around with tiffs and pdfs. I went back the next night and there were more issues. I would have to join pages before they could print them properly. It was a job they said they could do in 24 hours, but the cost was prohibitive; over $24 an issue. I decided to not use them.

I had messaged Ka-Blam on Monday night and they did respond on Tuesday. While I still think they got the order wrong, they did come through. They printed the five copies of Issue #3 and sent them to me with two-day delivery. I got them on Thursday night.

On Wednesday, Paul and I had gone up to the store to check on the details. The store would supply the table and two chairs. We had already rented two additional chairs, as my wife would also be up there for the duration.

We got up on Saturday morning at about 4 am to get ourselves ready. One of the press releases I had sent got a response and the Features Editor of the Pierce College paper, the Roundup was going to be there before the event to interview Paul and Trevor. We put the issues and the other paraphernalia for the signing in a red wagon, which Trevor drove; I carried the chairs and away we went at about 5:30.

When we got to the store, we were told there wouldn't be a table for us to use. I won't go into all the thoughts that went through our heads, but we were not going to be denied. We had a table at home and my wife and I went back to retrieve it. We were up and running before 6. The editor was there and we sold our first copy when a friend of the boys from middle school showed up and bought the first issue.

Celebrating our first issue sold.
Sold and signed.

We were situated outside the store but away from the main flow of customers. Again, one has to hope that wasn't deliberate. We hoped that we would hear them mention to customers who were there for free comic books and the sale that we were outside, but I don't believe it was ever mentioned. We were stuck with trying to wrangle people on the way in or on the way out and I would say we had pretty good luck. We did meet a lot of people and had a good time.

After about 9 1/2 hours, we decided to call it a day. We packed up and rolled our wagon home. On the way, one more friend of the boys from Yu-Gi-Oh! locals chased us down the street to buy an issue. He didn't, however, want to join the mailing list. Go figure.

Paul put together a video of the event, showing us before, during and after the signing. This became our weekly vlog, which can be watched here. There's also a slideshow of photos on the website:

The point of the exercise wasn't so much to sell issues but to try to grow our mailing list. We sold less than 20 copies but did more than double our current mail list. There were a couple of names and email addresses that we couldn't read and only gave up on them after three failed attempts to guess at the right one.

We sent a free copy of the .pdf for the first issue to everyone who signed up that day and sent our weekly email to 63 names, the largest distribution so far. I'm sure there will be some drop-offs as time goes on, but it seemed to be a win for us as we try to grow our list.

I spent most of Wednesday night listening to more from ListLaunch and it seems that we're at least not doing anything wrong yet with our mailing list. As always, if you want to join the mailing list, and I hope you do, you can join here:

We did receive pages from both Rachel and Nina, both on Monday night, which weren't able to look at until Wednesday. And on Wednesday, Rachel sent us two versions of thumbnails for the next 8 pages, which we got to look at on Thursday. She made some really good suggestions and Paul and I went with them. The point is always to make it better.

Paul also had a good suggestion for pages that Nina sent. It was nothing to do with her coloring, which is always good, but with the image itself. We're doing our first two-page spread in an upcoming issue and his idea would make it better. Rachel and Nina both agreed and Nina turned the pages around very quickly. This is the best creative team we've worked with so far.

Not everything this past week was Powers Squared-centric. I did work on a review of Cat People and Trophy Unlocked did launch Batman month on Saturday. For the month of May, in celebration of the 80th year of the Dark Knight, we're going to do reviews all month of various Batman films. We started the celebration with Batman: Return of the Caped Crusaders.

Hopefully, now that things have calmed down, I'll be able to get back to other writing. The Runaway is still in limbo and there are those query letters that need to be sent and rejected for Broken People. Who knows, maybe the editor will get back to me on Familiar Stranger. Hey, stranger things have happened.