Sunday, September 29, 2019

A Week in Writing #266

Somehow this wasn't the week to get back on track. It's sort of birthday week around here. First, it was my birthday on Wednesday and then my sons' birthdays on Saturday. Ports have fleet week and cities have fashion weeks, we have cake week in my house. My mother likes to call it the House of Libra, as my wife's birthday is in a couple of weeks, we are all born under the same zodiac sign. A lot of indecision around the house.

Sundays are always busy, football game notwithstanding. Paul and I have a weekly video we do for our YouTube channel. This past Sunday was our 52nd, our one year anniversary of our doing them. With the exception of Comic-Con, which delayed it until Monday, we've done them each and every Sunday. We talk about what is going on that week with the comic book, even some weeks when there is very little happening.

We also send out a weekly newsletter, The Hound Dogs' Howl, and again, even on lean weeks. We've been fortunate that there is usually something worth writing about, including our new Mascot.

Late on Sunday, we did receive some pages from our artist, Rachel. Our first pages since Hurricane Dorian forced her to temporarily relocate and after we had her finish up the mascot. We received four pages of pencils from Issue #12. Paul and I didn't have a chance to look at them until Monday night but we did give our notes.

Did some other writing on Monday on The Runaway but not much I'm afraid. I'm working on a part of the novel that I'm rethinking. I'm sort of using a recent story in the news but I don't want to be too on the nose, if you know what I mean. I'm going through a thought process and making some changes. That's what I get for being a pantser with no outline to guide me, the freedom to make changes on the fly.

Don't think I did much of anything on Tuesday but on my birthday, I actually wrote a review of the movie we went to see, Downton Abbey, which was posted on Trophy Unlocked the next morning. About 700 words, so not too bad between eating out, cake and presents.

Thursday night was mostly spent out again. Both sons were taking classes, so my wife and I decided to have a bit of a date night, but we also had to run an errand for the boys' birthday. Did manage some more work on The Runaway that night but again, not very much.

Friday night, Paul and I did another episode of On the Air with Powers Squared, our podcast on PodBean and iTunes.

Saturday was Paul and Trevor's birthday, so the day was mostly spent with them, which was fun. There are some things more important than writing and family is one of them. Some things, though, still go on. Trophy Unlocked published our usual Saturday Morning Review, The First Tree, a video game reviewed by Trevor.

Next week, I need to get back to things full swing. There is still so much to do, including sending out more queries for Broken People, more work on The Runaway and, of course, Powers Squared.

Keep writing and I'll see you next week.

Sunday, September 22, 2019

A Week In Writing #265

This week has been more what I would call the business side of writing rather than the art of writing. Like every week, this one starts on Sunday, which is a busy day for Powers Squared. Paul and I do a weekly video for our YouTube channel. While the video doesn't take all that long to shoot, there is still some editing, which Paul does, then posting the video and hitting social media to promote it. I'm trying to be more efficient when posting but I sometimes forget.

Then we have a newsletter to get out. Usually, some work has been done on this already but there is always something to do on it, a test email to make sure the links all work and then finally sending it out. I usually take the newsletter and post it on Facebook and Tumblr, though I really doubt many people are really reading it that way.

Finally, there is this post which I also put up on Sunday, and then there is more posting on social media, Facebook and Twitter but different accounts than the comic book.

Did a little work on The Runaway but not much.

On Monday, more business. We were working with our artist on final design for the mascot and t-shirt design. Looking good.

Spent more time on the powerpoint for pitching Powers Squared as an animated series, which is one of our creative stretch goals. Making some edits and thinking about what else to do with it. Not much to show for the evening but sometimes it's just that way.

Tuesday night I worked on two reviews for Trophy Unlocked. They were already written but I wanted to put them up on the blog site and add photographs. These are reviews for The Fly and Cat People, reviews for October and Trophy Unlocked's annual salute to the horror genre.

Since it had been about six weeks since I had sent in a couple of queries for Broken People, and, of course, heard nothing back, I had to take them off my list. I did some more research on agents and even did some looking for a possible agent for Powers Squared. We're going to need representation to do a pitch anyway.

On the way home on Wednesday, I called the work number for the editor on Familiar Stranger. He had actually communicated during the summer and said he would be working on it during August. I think it was the occasion of his birthday and I told him I wouldn't bug him until September. I figured the middle of the month was a good time to try.

Not surprisingly, I got his voicemail at work and left a message. Almost right away I got a text saying to text him. I think this is something attached to the voicemail since I got the same message the last time I tried calling him during the summer.

So, I texted him that I was in the car and then texted him later when I wasn't. I also PM-ed him on Facebook, which was the last way we had communicated. Well, as I'm writing this no response, no real surprise. I'm disappointed but some people are unreliable. I don't like radio silence and I don't like being lied to. I'm going to have to move on since it's been almost a year and a half since I sent the manuscript to him. I knew he'd be slow but this is utterly ridiculous.

We also received pages that night from our colorist. Actually, we had received them the night before but it was late before we noticed so Paul and I sat down to go over them after we got back from dinner. Had a couple of minor issues that we asked her to fix. One of them was not her fault but she agreed to fix it anyway.

I also worked some more on the Pitch powerpoint, changing up the logline and some of the other details, like episode synopsis and images. I sent it on to Paul to look at for more changes. I never mind rewriting, since the point is always to get better.

Also, edited in the mascot in with the new banner that our artist sent us. We wanted to try to match the banner on the school newspaper. Our artist prepared us one that matched what she was doing in the comic book. I took that edited version and added to the template for the newsletter.

Sort of felt uninspired on Thursday, so I worked on this blog, so pretty much everything written to this point was done on Thursday night. I'm trying to figure out a way to squeeze in as much time as I can on Sunday.

I also toyed around with a t-shirt design though I didn't save it. Just wanted to see what it might look like. Maybe I'll try to recreate it later this week.

On Friday, Paul and I recorded our fourth podcast, which is available on PodBean and iTunes. This week, we talked about the origins of the two main characters not named Marty or Eli.

Also received a couple of revised pages from Nina. We had her fix a continuity error that we didn't catch when this was in pencils or inks. She was kind enough to correct it and then we asked her for one more favor, which she did.

Saturday was spent mostly out of the house. We went as a family to see Genndy Tarakovsky's Primal, which was playing at the Downtown Independent theater, we think trying to qualify for an Academy Award nomination. You can read Trevor's review on Trophy Unlocked.

Well, that about does it for the week. Promise to actually write more this coming week. You, keep writing and I'll see you next week.

Sunday, September 15, 2019

A Week in Writing #264

This past Sunday was the first of the football season. While the three-plus hours I spent watching the game were worth it, as my team won, the loss of the time meant we had to squeeze more into less time. As a result, we had to shoot our weekly video early and we left something out of the newsletter. I take a bit of responsibility for that, as I did most of the writing on Saturday but the fact I was trying to get it out quickly meant mistakes were made.

After the game, I did a little work on the Powerpoint I had started last week before all things Office went bluey. Trying to put together a Pitch Packet for Powers Squared. We think it would make for a good animated series but no one will know unless we put together a Pitch. Made some progress but I don't think it's quite as good as the version I lost but isn't that always the way it goes? The second time from scratch never seems to be as good as you remember it.

Did some work on The Runaway but not very much as it turns out.

Monday night, after dinner, I worked on the Powerpoint again and came up with what I'm sure will be the first version. I'm going to take a look at it again before showing it to Paul and Trevor. Not sure if its going to be Tuesday or not but I know it needs more work.

On Tuesday, I worked before dinner on a review for Susan Lenox (Her Rise and Fall) a 1931 film starring Greta Garbo and Clark Gable, which I happened by happenstance to see from the beginning while flipping channels. Wrote about 1200 words and I'm still not done.

After dinner, worked some more on The Runaway. I'm trying to incorporate an idea that came to me last week. I see a big rewrite in my future after I get done with this draft but I have to get through this draft.

Received a message on Linkedin asking if I wanted to be on a Podcast, presumably to talk about Powers Squared. I'm going to try to listen to one of their Podcasts to see if it's a good fit. Don't want to walk away from an opportunity to market the comic book but don't want to make a fool of myself either.

Wednesday night got back to the powerpoint and made enough updates to warrant sending it to Paul. A WIP the point it to make it better.

Rachel sent us updates for our mascot and T-shirt project. Paul and I sat down after dinner to go through them, picking a couple that we liked but also asking for some modifications. Who would have thought collar colors would be so important?

She gave us three options for the t-shirt design, including the one we thought we wanted. However, we opted for a more open/cleaner design that she came up with, which seems to be modeled after an example t-shirt we sent her at the beginning of the project.

After that, I finished my review of Susan Lenox (Her Rise and Fall), adding another approximately 1000 words. Still, need to look for images for the review.

On Thursday, we received artwork for our Mascot and t-shirt from Rachel. There is still some back and forth going on but I think we're really getting close. She sent us two sets of drawings but there are still a couple of tweaks we'd like her to make before we decide on finished images.

Worked some more on the powerpoint pitch packet, taking into account Paul's suggestions after having looked at the first version. Nothing too radical but anything to make it better. I'll take another pass before I send it to him again to review. Both he and Trevor have been in enough classes and seminars to know what to include, though none of us have ever presented. Still a little bit of work to do to get it ready for that.

Even though I said I was finished with the Susan Lenox review, I went back and added a new paragraph to the review. While commuting I was thinking there was something I needed to mention about the film and had to wait about 14 hours to actually write it down. I don't know if you're like me but sometimes what I think of in the car is so much better than what actually gets written. I don't think I'm alone in that.

The same is true with fiction writing. Some of my best dialogue is "written" in transit. I'll run through an exchange between characters and not quite capture that "magic" when I get to sit down behind the computer. Sometimes it gets better sometimes it doesn't.

Worked briefly at the end of the night on The Runaway, starting the next chapter but not getting a page or more into it before calling it a night.

On Friday, Paul and I, with Trevor, recorded our third On the Air with Powers Squared for Podbean. This time, we discussed the main characters of Powers Squared, Marty and Eli, which like the boys are identical twins. You can listen to this at We're also in the process of having them available on iTunes and will let you know when they're available there as well.

Saturday, we had some work done at the house, so had to spend a lot of time at home. Spent some of the time working on the Powers Squared newsletter The Hound Dog's Howl. Hate to sound like an advertisement but you can subscribe to that at

Also wrote a review of the film we watched on Friday night, The Fly (1958). Ended up writing over 2000 words and will most likely publish this one during October when Trophy Unlocked celebrates the horror genre for Halloween. This week's Saturday Movie review was Paul's review of Megamind, a film we also watched a few Fridays ago.

Well, that's about it for the week. Keep writing and we'll see you next week.

Sunday, September 8, 2019

A Week in Writing #263

This week started with the Labor Day holiday. We weren't going anywhere and it was too hot to worry about doing much outside. We live in The Valley and it was pushing three digits when two will do.

Staying inside meant I could work on a review of a movie I happened to see the night before on TCM, The Mating Call. A silent film from 1928, I found myself intrigued and I wasn't able to find much really good information about it. I like it when I can find a film I can really write about, which in most cases, is to actually tell the story rather than the very brief and sometimes incorrect ones available on the internet. The review, which I wrote in the morning, ended up being almost 2800 words. Not sure when the review will post, but I like having more in the quiver than just the next one I'll need.

Wrote another 988 words on The Runaway, as I'm trying to make up for a less than stellar week in writing the one before.

We heard from our artist on Powers Squared the night before. She's in a mandatory evacuation area due to hurricane Dorian, so we may not be getting anything new from her for quite some time. The most important thing is for her and her husband to stay safe and live to draw another day.

I know we wrote that we're closing down the poll on Mascot colors for the t-shirt but decided to do what the car dealers do and extend the weekend until the 3rd. I'll post something in the morning in a last effort to get votes. But after that, we'll have to shut it down and make a decision.

Wasn't expecting to hear anything about my queries, though I did check the status on the one through the Query Status Portal and there is nothing new to report. Still no decision has been made. While I don't like the uncertainty, not knowing is better than rejection.

Late on Monday afternoon, I had what seemed like a major catastrophe when all my Microsoft Office products went bad. Not sure what the cause was but when I opened Word, Excel or PowerPoint I got a giant white screen rather than the program or the file I was trying to open. I have protection through Geek Squad but they're going to have to dial in and there is a five to five and a half hour wait due to the holiday, so I'm going to ask Paul to call for me tomorrow. Ackk! It really took the wind out of my sails.

I have a backup computer, my old laptop, but it took 20 minutes to boot up and I had to update a bunch of the passwords, etc. A real pain but I'm hoping this is very temporary.

Tuesday was hard, going back to work and all. Didn't really have the energy to do much writing though I did make some posts on Facebook and Twitter, update the website and come up with a new poll question for Powers Squared.

I also posted about a new review that went up on Trophy Unlocked. In honor of the release of Catherine: Full Body, which was on Tuesday, Trevor wrote a second review of the original Catherine which he posted that morning.

Geek Squad came through and now Word and Excel seem to work fine. I'm still having an issue with PowerPoint. I found what seems like a really good template for putting together Pitch Packets, though this one is for live-action, I would think there are updates that can be made to make it animation friendly.

The problem is that it's a Google doc and I don't like having to do my personal projects on the internet. You can download it into Powerpoint but when I do, almost nothing displays. The same is true of other Powerpoint presentations I have made in the past. This is the problem I tried to fix on my own that lead to my problems with Excel and Word, so I'm going to seek professional help with this. Can't ask Paul to babysit this again for me, so I'll probably hit them up this weekend.

Besides some social media posts, including posting our Peek-of-the-Week on Instagram and some posts on Twitter, didn't really get that much done.

Things are kind of slow with Powers Squared at the moment. Hurricane Dorian forced our artist and her husband to evacuate and seek refuge in Raliegh. Not sure how long she'll be displaced but it has sort of put some things on hold for a while.

Thursday morning, I made several posts on Twitter about reviews tied to release anniversaries. This is something I do every morning when there is one to post about. I've also been posting the same image on Pinterest with a link to the review in Trophy Unlocked. I've been trying to abide by decades with some exceptions like Star Wars, Christmas and Westerns. I'm planning to go back through next year and divide them up into genres as well. But that's fodder for another day.

Thursday night I made more progress on The Runaway, writing about 800 words before dinner. We've been eating kind of late for the past few days so it's kind of hard to get motivated after that. I did have an idea for the story. I'm sure I'm not alone but sometimes real-life events can influence my stories. While I had been sort of banging around trying to think of where to take the story, I decided that I could use a story that has been in the news as background for some of the action in the book.

Friday, Paul and I did our second On the Air with Powers Squared Podcast on Podbean. Last week, we talked about why we decided to do a comic book, this week, we talked about the various influences on the comic book, including our writing and the visual look of the comic book. Would really appreciate it if you would give it a listen here.

This Saturday's Morning Review on Trophy Unlocked was one written by Paul for Metal Wolf Chaos XD, the remaster released earlier this summer of a videogame originally released on Xbox in 2004.

Got some good news early Saturday afternoon, our Powers Squared artist Rachel Wells and her husband have returned home after evacuating based on the threat of Hurricane Dorian. Happy to hear that she's okay and happier still that we can get moving again on the comic book and on some merchandise we're excited about.

Saturday, I finally had a chance to get Geek Squad on my issue with Powerpoint. I started with them about 5:30 and it was after 7:30 before the problem was resolved. Geek Squad dialed in and then had Microsoft dial in and work on it. Eventually, they had to re-install Microsoft Office. It took a while but at least everything seems to be working, though everything is running slow and every website I open, I have to reload before everything shows, like the banner image on this post. I'm hoping that soon things will pick up again but the first time something doesn't load it gets a little scary.

I worked on Powers Squared's newsletter The Hound Dogs' Howl, something I had worked on earlier in the day and then after all the dial-in help. We had heard from our artist, Rachel, and she was back home after fleeing Hurrican Dorian. I wanted to update that part of the newsletter but the first time I went in it wouldn't edit. I was able to refresh and then I could edit.

When I worked on this blog on Saturday night, I couldn't even get into the blog at first. Again, refreshing helped but I hope this isn't a long-term trend.

Sort of a bumpy way to end this week in writing. Hope next week goes smoother. Keep writing and we'll see you next week.

Sunday, September 1, 2019

A Week in Writing #262 - Fifth Anniversary Post

Not really sure if this is worth a celebration but this is the Fifth Anniversary of this blog. Five years ago to the day, I published my First Post on this blog site and I've been doing one every week since. While this has never had a huge following, I'm doing it as much for myself as anyone else. I certainly hope there are life lessons and writing lessons included here, I started doing this to keep myself honest. 

A lot of people call themselves writers but don't always actually practice the craft. I wanted to show myself, and the world, that I was actually writing. I've sat down here every Sunday since to re-examine myself and to think about what I have or have not accomplished in the past seven days.

I'm still pretty much working on the same three projects that I was five years ago: writing mystery novels, writing film reviews and trying to get a comic book off the ground. Let's begin with writing mystery novels, which I had hoped would be, at some point, my main focus. I've worked on several in the past five years and I've gone through spats of querying as well as writing and editing. 

At present, I have six queries out for Broken People, a novel I've rewritten while doing this blog. As I've written before, I don't want to have already hit up every agent I could find as I like to prolong the torture, I guess. Querying is perhaps my least favorite part of the writing process. I'm not someone who likes to wait and that's pretty much all you do after sending your query letter is wait, oftentimes in vain. Most of the time, you're supposed to realize on your own that a particular agent isn't interested as they provide no guidelines on getting back to you. I'm using six weeks unless otherwise noted, as the cut-off. The drag is you oftentimes never know why the agent rejected you. Is it the story? The query letter? Did they even get to it? I mean you want to improve but without feedback, it's hard to know your deficiencies. 

Working on my rewrite for The Runaway, though I didn't get much done this past week. Other projects and a bit of ennui. I have been thinking about it and I will work on the next chapter this week.

Still waiting to hear back from the editor on Familiar Stranger. We made a connection and I was led to believe he would be actually editing it or parts of it in August. I promised to refrain from bugging him until September, which is now! Hopefully, my patience will be rewarded.

Trophy Unlocked, Paul's review blog that I write for, is coming up on nine years and 1000 reviews, though it will be sometime next year before the latter milestone will be achieved. Most weeks, I work on a review with this week being no exception. In addition to publishing one this week, The African Queen, I wrote another one for another Humphrey Bogart film, All Through the Night (1942). Not sure when that one will see the light of day but its always better to have ones in reserve rather than trying to pump one out every week.

And, of course, there is still Powers Squared, which has so far released seven issues. Issues 8 and 9, as well as 10 and 11, are done but we're wanting to do a Kickstarter to hopefully alleviate costs and grow interest. We keep pushing it off trying to get all the pieces together and set but we should get it going next month. 

While there is not that much actual writing week to week with Powers Squared, it certainly has kept me busy. Over the past year, in addition to looking at every page that comes from artist, colorist, and letterer, I've also developed a website, started a weekly newsletter, doing a weekly video on YouTube and this past Friday did the first On the Air with Powers Squared Podcast with Paul for You can't say we're not trying.

Five years have been fun and I hope the next five are both fun and profitable. Keep writing.

Each week in the past five years has been different and I hope others who read this either appreciate the struggle and are learning from reading these posts.