Sunday, August 25, 2019

A Week in Writing #261

This week, I'm going to build this post as the week goes, rather than try to recollect the week on Sunday, since I'm going to be in transit for most of the day. Since this usually covers Sunday through Saturday, we should be good.

The week got underway with new pages from Nina. There turned out to be an issue that we had to address, which is pretty rare when it comes to the coloring. Even though Paul and I look at everything during every step in the process, there are still things that we occasionally miss and this is what jumped out at us with one of the pages. A character was drawn similar to another character, which meant that they were also colored to match that character as well. We also had a special coloring built into the script, but there didn't seem to be a place for it in the panels on the page. To make a long story short, with some back and forth amongst all of us, including Rachel, we came up with a solution.

I did some more writing on Sunday on The Runaway. Still reworking the story, trying to save as much as I can from a previous version while still making changes. I want to make it better, but I don't want to write when I don't have to. I wrote just shy of 1200 words on Sunday.

Also, on Sunday, Paul and I did our video, A Week in Powers Squared, and sent our newsletter, The Hound Dogs' Howl. Something we still need to work on is building up our audience for both. We're a few weeks short of our 52nd weekly video and would like to get to 25 subscribers. For the newsletter, we're at about 80 and need to get it to 100 as soon as we can. If you're interested, the YouTube channel is here and the sign up for the newsletter is here. Every subscription counts.

Monday was a pretty light day writing-wise. Worked some more on The Runaway. I'm in one of those situations where I've sort of written myself into a corner with the new prose bumping up against the old. I hate to waste what I've written and despite the idea of keeping it for another time, that rarely works out the way it's supposed to. I'm sure as time goes on, the two storylines will diverge again and I'll have several thousand words of useless plot.

I've made the decision to stop posting this blog on Medium since I haven't got any hits in months. It doesn't take all that long to post it there, but with one follower and no reads it's time to cut my losses so to speak. I don't think anyone will really notice it's gone, so this will serve as my announcement. Medium will be just one more social media platform that never took off for me or Powers Squared.

Tuesday was spent on trying to get the word out about Powers Squared's landing page. Made posts on the usual social media (Facebook and Twitter) and even created, using MailChimp, an Email Signup tab on the Powers Squared Facebook page. Using MailChimp has some advantages, but it is not very self-explanatory. I was trying to follow their instructions to link our campaign to Facebook but came across what appeared to be a dead-end. I wasn't getting the dropdown the instructions told me to use. I had to do a separate Google search to find a solution. Got it to work but it took longer than it should have; it always does for me when I'm trying to do something.

Sent out a couple of query letters on Tuesday as well. I don't mind the process, though I have a  certain apprehension when doing them. I'm never sure, based on the instructions on the various agent's websites, if I'm sending the right thing to the right person in the right way. If you're like me and use Query Tracker, you need to be sure to check the websites. While I find the site very helpful, there are sometimes subtleties that get lost. If an agent is shown, as an example, to handle Young Adult and Mysteries, oftentimes, they handle Young Adult Mysteries. Always check the websites and even then it can be a crap-shoot.

I don't like to have too many queries out there at one time. On the oft chance I get feedback from an agent, it might help me to change up the query letter, which is already something I do anyway. Right now I have six out there. I try to give agents time to reply but when it's "only if interested" I'm not sure what that means time-wise. If they're really behind that could be three months, I don't know. But six seems like enough for the moment.

The final page from Issue #11 came in with a slight redesign from Rachel and within about 2 hours and 15 minutes, the coloring was updated and the pages are now on their way to Trevor for lettering. I've said it before but I still mean it, I really like working with everyone on this project. They really seem to rally when it counts and I appreciate that.

On Wednesday, spent some time working on Powers Squared's website. I've been trying to regularly put up a poll question on the site, with varying degrees of success. I thought that it might be related to the fact that the website is the link for them and when you go to the site you actually have to scroll down to find the question. Decided to try to set up a page dedicated to the poll question, which would then provide more of a direct link.

I'm not sure if GoDaddy supports polls, but someone there set it up for me on my home page some time back. I've been using PollDaddy, now CrowdSignal, to create the polls and from there I've been copying the code onto my home page. I discovered that you could duplicate and move a section, which I managed to do successfully today. So now all polls will point to There is probably one there now if you want to vote.

Paul did some work with OBS, YouTube and our new Stream Deck to make it work, so we're set for new videos. There is a fairly significant latency period using this method and the videos take longer to process on YouTube but I'm hoping we can not only make the videos more entertaining but also more closely link the information in the newsletter to the info in the videos. They'll still be different but now they can be more closely related.

Late on Wednesday night, finished a review on There's Always a Woman (1938) for Trophy Unlocked. The film was one that I saw recently on TCM and wanted to see since it paired Joan Blondell and Melvyn Douglas. You'll have to wait a while to read it, but I'm glad I got it done.

On Thursday, I made an effort to reach out to people I knew on Linkedin to ask them to join the Powers Squared mailing list. Six or seven people. Only heard back from one and even then I'm not sure he'll actually sign up, even though he wanted to get together with me. I don't know why it's so hard to get people to sign up.

More writing on The Runaway, finishing off the chapter I was working on. Being a pantser, I'm sometimes curious where the story will go from here. I know how I want the story to end and it's the getting there that's the fun.

Friday will be my last writing day of the week. It got off with a bang, too, a rejection from one of my queries. It appears to me to be one of those form letters that's meant to look personal: "Thanks for sending me Broken People.  I wish I could represent every book I enjoy.  Because my resources are limited, I can only devote my energy to projects that I feel passionate about, and I'm sorry to say that your book isn't right for me."

Notice how she doesn't say she enjoyed my book, only that she wished she could represent all the books she enjoyed. Sort of encouraging but very unspecific at the same time. And I guess it goes without saying that we don't share the passion for Broken People. So I'm down to five.

After thinking about it for a few minutes, I found another agent on my list to query. This one doesn't provide any guidelines about what he's looking for in a query letter. In fact, the agent's website is almost non-existent. But he's listed many other places, so it's always worth a shot. Sent him a similar query to one I had already sent: the first two chapters and a synopsis. It's a little like shooting in the dark since I don't know any preferences he might have. And, of course, there is no timeframe for when to expect or not expect a response from him.

Received the news on Friday that our long-time colorist, Nina Gaillard, has decided to leave Powers Squared after issue #12, which will be her seventh one to color. She's decided to seek other opportunities and projects and while we are very sorry to see her go, we wish her great success in the future.

Sort of a sad way to end this week in writing.

Saturday, before leaving for a weekend trip, posted Trevor's review of Atlantis: The Lost Empire for our Saturday morning review on Trophy Unlocked.

So, that about wraps things up for this week. More next. In the meantime, keep writing.

Sunday, August 18, 2019

A Week in Writing #260

This was not a good week for me, due to things I don't want to get into here and now, but let's say things took the wind out of me. I even had to re-edit last week's post. When I can I will write about it but for now, we need to let it go.

On the flip-side, I've been trying to participate more on social media. Never know how effective that is, but I do want to point out the efforts of @PFDonato who on twitter has been trying to help those with smaller followings get exposure to others in the #writerscommunity with larger ones. I really do appreciate her efforts. I've also tried to be more active on Instagram for the sake of Powers Squared. I've heard, more than once, that you have to be careful not to spend too much time on social media so it's always a balancing act but since I wasn't writing for a couple of days, I thought it was something I could do.

Nothing much happened this week on Powers Squared. No new pages from Rachel or Nina until Sunday (which is fodder for next week). Trevor did send four new pages earlier in the week. We have a couple of voting opportunities out there this week, so if you want, you are more than welcomed to participate in them as well. First, we're working with Rachel on developing a mascot for San Romero Community College, the fictitious school Marty and Eli Powers attend. We have the basics of the mascot down but it's the school colors that we need to nail down. We'd like to have it be a community thing and if you're reading this, then you qualify, if you want to. Here are the choices:

Please vote in the comments below or by emailing us at

The other is voting on social media. It's been our poll question for the past couple of weeks on our website. We're trying to figure out the best sites to concentrate our efforts on. If you follow Powers Squared, which we hope you do, please vote on the website, You'll have to scroll down the page but every vote counts.

Spent a fair amount of time this week on, of all things, the spine of our graphic novel. You never think about it but there is some work that goes into something that seems pretty simple. Mostly, it had to do with the orientation of the lettering and what should have to be on the spine as in the names of those involved. We settled on Hankins Hankins Hankins Murti, which sort of sounds like a family law firm with a branch in Indonesia, which is where Sika Murti lives. Sika was the artist on the first five issues and I will say Paul was insistent that his name appear; not that I was objecting or anything, but I want to give credit where credit is due.

Wrote a review this week for The African Queen, but published one for Once Upon a Time in Hollywood, the new and recently released film by Quentin Tarantino. We saw the movie on Friday afternoon and the review appeared as Trophy Unlocked's Saturday Morning Review the next day. This is a good example of the difference in writing reviews for films. When a movie is in the theater, like Once Upon a Time..., I try to write ones that don't give the plot away, while with older films, like The African Queen, the reviews are much more detailed.

Did a bit of writing this week, as mentioned above, but I did send out a query earlier in the week.
I have noticed a trend in querying that I know is more efficient for the agent. Two of the last four queries have been online through the same application, called Query Status Portal. At the end of the process, after filling out the form and uploading my pages, I've been given a URL to check to see the status of my query. If rejections could get any colder, having to look for yourself is about as impersonal as it can get. Which I guess is only slightly better than not hearing back at all. Now, that said, I did receive an email from the first person with this system, so maybe it won't be as cold and impersonal as I suspect.

Well, I'm hoping to get back into the swing of things, though I will have to be writing next week's post during the week, as I will be traveling back and forth next weekend to a family function in Northern California. Losing a weekend is tantamount to losing some of my most creative time, but there are things you do for love and loved ones.

So, until next week, keep writing.

Sunday, August 11, 2019

A Week in Writing #259 - Windows 10

We're coming up on 5 years of me doing this little-read blog about my writing, and if you have been with me throughout that time, I hope you've found it interesting. We're still a couple of weeks out, even though the numbering would suggest it's next week (Let's do the math 260/5=52), which would suggest the 8/18 even though the date of the first post was 9/1. Either the calendar Gods are playing tricks on me or I've misnumbered one or two of these, which I really doubt, so it is the calendar Gods. A-ha!

Speaking of writing, I have tried to spend some time every day working on The Runaway. I'm sure you've had the occasion to realize that you needed to plant something earlier in a story, which I spent sometime this week doing. So while I may not have made all the progress I wanted, I am working on it.

My querying this week was nil and that's not due to anything more than the graphic novel. I've been finding time on Saturday nights to send them out but this week, I was spending Saturday night in a vain attempt to upload a 110 page .pdf file, more on that below.

I've been working this past week on the Graphic Novel version of Powers Squared that Artithmeric has been after us to create. And then I spent a lot of Saturday turning tiffs into jpegs and then 110 jpegs into a final .pdf file. None of that is really hard to do, but it is time-consuming. And then there are the last-minute changes, such as the name for the graphic novel, which wasn't decided upon until Saturday and then there are the occasional typos I found, which are, of course, momentary show stoppers. And then, there is the fun of uploading the .pdf, which took more than one attempt. After three attempts, and the upload reaching 100% and staying there for over an hour and 15 minutes, I gave up. I'm not a patient person to begin with, but I can't hack something staying in that status for that long. So, despite the effort, no completion this week. (Editor's Note: I was able to finish the upload on Sunday morning using a different website but that's a tale for next week.)

Since I was doing a lot of the uploading while watching a preseason football game, it reminded me that I'm not really looking forward to football season this year. Sundays have become a very busy day for me. I've had this blog post to do, but now we're also doing a YouTube video and a newsletter. Spending three-plus hours on a football game just seems to be a little over-the-top time-wise. I only follow one team in one sport, the Dallas Cowboys (I'm from Dallas), and even though I hope they do well, I'm not looking forward to the time-suck these games will be. And, if they lose, they're a colossal waste of time.

This week, for the sake of the YouTube channel and in order to use a new Stream Deck we purchased, I had to upgrade to Windows 10. Interesting way to find out I had over 41 GB of downloads on my C drive, mostly related to Powers Squared but you never know. I decided to save them to a thumb drive, you know just in case I realize I need one of them. That took several hours and delayed the actual upgrade from Friday to Saturday night.

The upgrade seemed to go well and I'm now a Windows 10 user. Paul and I (mostly Paul) are still figuring out the Stream Deck and all, but I do think it will be a benefit to the YouTube channel. Now if we can only get more people to watch.

Rachel was very busy this week, sending us two sets of thumbnails for Issue #12 pages 9 through 16. As usual, she had some very good ideas about improving the flow and as is usual, Paul and I agreed with what she was going for. As is common, we liked some from one version and some from the other. Some pages are all A or all B, but many are combos.

On Saturday night (her Sunday morning), she sent us thumbnails for the mascot which will be used on the newsletter and t-shirt (mentioned above). We're hoping that a college shirt would be a cool merchandising opportunity for people to buy and wear. We're opening up the school colors to the readers of the newsletter, which you can subscribe to here.

I had a couple of ideas for new reviews but didn't get to any this week. I did finally publish my review of The Stratton Story as Trophy Unlocked's Saturday Morning Review. Nice to get something out after so long. I like that the blog isn't dependent on me for the weekly review.

I do plan to work on a couple this week. We've been watching some older films of late, neither of which have proven to be all that good, which is always a disappointment.

For the rest of the week, I'd like to spend it on rewrites and queries. I don't want to let my muse down.

Sunday, August 4, 2019

A Week in Writing #258

This was actually a fairly busy week, so let's get going.

Got some big news on Friday that I really can't get into, but it was very promising when it comes to Powers Squared. We may be on the verge of our biggest single distribution. This is being arranged by our print-on-demand partner, Artithmeric, but can't go into details now.

Artithmeric has been encouraging us to make the first five issues of Powers Squared into what they're calling a graphic novel, but what might be considered a trade paperback here in the states. We've made some progress on some of the preliminary stuff, like a title page, credits page, etc. Don't think it will take much to make it a reality, so hopefully, we can pull it together sooner rather than later.

Also asked them if they've considered doing any conventions and it turns out they have. They'd like to have a presence and promote some of their creators, which would hopefully include us should that come to pass. It was actually something I had been thinking of since we were at Comic-Con. I'll admit a chance to do some promotion work at a Con of any size appeals to me.

No new pages from our artist or our colorist this week, which counts from Sunday to Saturday. We did receive pages from Nina on Sunday afternoon, so a little late but better late than never.

Had lunch on Wednesday with a guy from work who has a YouTube channel on which he and his brother discuss comic books. He's read all of our issues and wants to have us on when they resume shooting it. Long story about why they haven't shot it in a while, but that's not mine to tell.

Something else that didn't come to fruition was reaching 100 subscribers on our mailing list. I think I've tweaked the landing page enough, adding a logline on Wednesday thanks to a suggestion from the ListLaunch Facebook page. Now, I just have to keep hitting people up to join. Somehow, that seems harder than it should be.

In other writing, I completed my first review in quite a while for Trophy Unlocked. I think I'll hold it back until November when I tend to do film noir reviews as part of Noirvember as it's called on the internet. The film is Thieves' Highway, which is barely a film noir but was the last Noir Alley film on TCM before they started their Summer Under the Stars month. I'm not a fan of August on TCM.

I have been trying to be more dedicated to my other writing as well. Pretty much every day this week I've been working on The Runaway. I'm liking the progress I'm making on that, but there is still more to go.

I've also been trying to query Broken People. Last week, I sent out my first query in months. As per the usual, I received the oft anticipated rejection on Saturday night. I'll give them credit that the form letter they sent almost sounds personal, though I believe the term is personalized. Nice touch mentioning the book title in the letter: "Thank you for querying me with the first three chapters of BROKEN PEOPLE. I'm sorry to say that, while the manuscript sounds interesting, it is not a good fit for me at this time." Odd to have received it at 6:41 pm on a Saturday evening, which would have meant the agent was in their office at nearly 10 at night. Color me skeptical that it was anything other than a scheduled email.

That's the soul-sucking part of the process. Oh, it's okay when your query is Schroedinger's Cat but once you learn that it is indeed dead, it's hard not to take it personally. But you've got to be thick-skinned to be a creative and rejection is par for the course.

All that said, I had already sent out three more that afternoon. I mean if I want to be a serious writer, I have to do the serious stuff like querying for representation. I will, of course, fill you in on how that works out. (Hint: Don't expect much!)

Until next week, keep writing. I'll do the same and I'll meet you back here with all the details.