Sunday, December 29, 2019

A Week in Writing #279 - 2019: The Year in Review

The end of the year is a good time to look back at everything you've done and all that you haven't. It seems for everything I have done there must be four or five things that I haven't.

Let's begin with writing novels. I always feel like I'm working on something at all times, though I always don't feel like I'm getting anywhere. As an example, I finished my own rewrite of Broken People and while I did send out a few queries but after being rejected, or in this case, ignored, I stopped. I had other things I needed to do so I stopped sending out queries on that book.

I did start a new rewrite, The Runaway, and have been working on that pretty much ever since finishing Broken People. I keep going back to the beginning as new ideas come to me. It's not advice that I would give out to others; the idea is to get through a draft first but in this case, it works for me. I had pretty much the same experience with every book I've written.

And I have officially given up on ever hearing from the guy who was supposed to edit Familiar Stranger. He very much flaked out on me and I'm closing the door permanently on him ever helping me again. Sometimes, you've got to cut bait and move on.

Looking forward, I need to query Broken People more and finish The Runaway. Those seem like pretty straight forward goals, so I'll stick with them.

As far as Powers Squared is concerned, I believe we did a lot: we had our first signing, attended our first convention, set up a mailing list, started a newsletter, started a weekly Podcast and ran a successful Kickstarter campaign. The only thing we overlooked was putting out new issues, though if you count the ones we sent out per the Kickstarter, issues #8 and #9 did get some distribution.

While I enjoy working on the newsletter and believe it is a necessary thing to do, I am happy that we've decided to cut it back from weekly to monthly. We'll still send out emails on a weekly basis, they just won't be a full-fledged newsletter, which takes time every weekend to write. I'm hoping that with a less frequent schedule we'll be able to make what we do send stand out more.

Our goal for 2020 is to distribute more consistently, so rather than releasing whole story arcs at a time, we're planning on releasing one issue at a time on a more regular basis. We want to do more signings and conventions. And most of all, we want to keep making Powers Squared, which means we need to find a new colorist since ours is leaving us.

As far as Trophy Unlocked goes, I ended up publishing 30 reviews this year. I really enjoy working on the blog and I'm already working on ones that may not show up for a year or so. (You got to do Christmas movies when you see them.)

Early in 2020, the blog will reach 1000 reviews, which is pretty exciting.

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

Sunday, December 22, 2019

A Week in Writing #278

Since this is my last blog post before Christmas, I want to wish everyone a Happy Holidays.

The holidays are a hectic time, especially when you're trying to wrap up a Kickstarter before the holidays take total hold and people go out on vacation. One of the things I hadn't counted on was backers being slow with their surveys. I finally had to call the last person with a physical reward to get them to fill out the survey. People don't seem to realize they had to fill them out and that it holds up other people when they don't return them.

The other thing I hadn't counted on was one of our suppliers being somewhat difficult to reach and that while they handle Kickstarters and tell you what they want, they don't tell you how to deliver that file to them. There is no place on their website to attach the .csv file they want. It took a lot of effort on my part but I was able to finally reach them and I think we're squared away. The emphasis on think.

Whew! Then there's the actual comic book itself and all the things that go with one. Our artist sent us the final four pages for the month but didn't send the .tiff files right away. Really not an issue since we still don't have a colorist for them, nor do we have the final pages of the issue our colorist was working on. Something to follow up on this week, I guess.

Besides that, I did manage to work in some rewrites on The Runaway. Since I changed out a sequence and a character's part in that, I'm going back from that point forward and seeing what, if anything, I need to change. Reading it for the umpteenth time, I 'm still finding things to change but nothing too major, at least not so far. I'm trying to go through a chapter a day at least, that is when I can get to it.

On the review front, I published Holiday Affair as Trophy Unlocked's Saturday Morning Review and wrote another one for Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker, which was published on Sunday morning. We saw the movie on Saturday morning so it seemed timely for us to publish one as soon as possible.

We even talked about it on our A Week in Powers Squared video, bringing Trevor into the "show" to discuss it as well. It makes for a longer video than we usually put up but it's always fun when the three of us work on the video.

Well, that's about all for this week. Keep writing and I'll see you next week.

Sunday, December 15, 2019

A Week in Writing #277 - Kickstarter Wrap Up and The Holidays are Upon Us

Well, a new week but the Kickstarter is a little like gum on my shoe. We're still not quite done with it. The fun part now are the Backer Surveys and getting backers to actually fill them out. We tried to stress the importance of those with physical rewards sending theirs in but after about a week, about 14 backers have yet to reply. Oh, the joys of bugging people.

Monday night this week was spent on the Backer Survey questions, which are pretty much the same for physical rewards and the same for the digital ones. However, you have to do a separate survey for every rewards tier, so there were 12 that had to go out. It doesn't seem like much but it took about an hour and a half to complete.

We tried to do a video update on Tuesday night but that got to be trouble. Streaming it on YouTube didn't look good and when we recorded it to be edited, we accidentally saved it in the wrong format, which appears to be an unrecoverable sin with the editing software we have. We ended up posting an update on Wednesday, which prompted a few more to turn theirs in.

In last week's rant, I erroneously underestimated how much my siblings had donated. One of our guest backers was a sister-in-law and one of their grown children. It was my blood relatives that I should have been more upset with. Besides my mother, who gave generously, my brother and half-brother gave all of $10 which is very disappointing. I mean come to play or don't come at all, they chose the latter.

I hate to say it but I'm small, so I blocked one of them from messaging me on Facebook. I didn't need to see photos of snow on his farm if he was going to ignore my repeated messages about the Kickstarter. I know, I know but I didn't drop him totally, did I? And he gave nothing to the cause.

Other work on the comic book continues. Our artist sent us four inked pages to review. However, our colorist has gone radio silent though she did say she would finish her pages (and her work with us) by the end of the month. We're still in the market for a new colorist though we haven't had the time to really spend looking for one. There are only so many hours in the day.

Did more work on The Runaway, inserting a character for previous books into this story. My main character, J.D. Barrister, has a former colleague who shows up from time to time and he seemed like a better fit for a certain part of the story than what I previously had. Now, of course, I have to update all the references to the other characters for that action in the subsequent pages. A good idea always has a cost attached.

I did manage to write and complete a review of Little Women (1933) for Trophy Unlocked but it probably will stay in the files until next Christmas, as we have the three we need for this month. First it was The Man Who Invented Christmas, which went up last week, and yesterday's Saturday Morning Review was Cover Up (1949), a murder mystery set at Christmas-time. Next week, we'll get back into the spirit of the season with Holiday Affair.

So while The Waltz of the Flowers plays in the background, I will sign off for now. Keep writing and I'll see you next week.

Sunday, December 8, 2019

A Week in Writing #276 - Reflections on the Kickstarter and Other Writing

Okay, the big news this week is that the Powers Squared Mathemagical Kickstarter funded. Not sure if anyone reading this actually contributed but thank you if you did. We're very pleased to have been able to fund but while there is no shame in not funding, I, personally, didn't want to go through that. It's better to say we funded than we didn't.

Even though we funded, I have to say I am disappointed in some people. I don't know if you've been in a similar situation but when people say they will do something and then they don't, sort of leaves a bad taste in my mouth. I don't think the fact that we funded mitigates it either. A promise, especially about supporting something near and dear to you, isn't something that should be made in jest and more importantly shouldn't be welched on. I've had more than one person say they were going to back the Kickstarter after they got paid on a Friday and then have not come through. Frankly, I'm not sure what a paycheck has to do with something that has to be charged but there have been four Fridays come and go and most of these people have not backed us. I'm sorry, but I guess I'm petty. Those things will alter our relationship going forward.

Worse is the lack of support from my own family. It's not that I don't have some well-to-do, if not rich siblings and I received a combined $60 from them. Maybe there are some bridges to rebuild but in keeping with the road analogy, it is a two-way street. Maybe they're not into comic books but that's not an excuse. They should be wanting to support me and my sons and they did not really come through. (I'm pretty sure they don't read this blog either, so I'm not too worried they'll ever really know how hurtful it is.)

I unceremoniously dropped a friend since high school since he didn't support this and I'm planning on dropping a few people from Facebook and other social media when the dust settles on this. And I didn't just mention this once in 30 days but several times over the course of the Kickstarter. You had to make an effort to ignore it. So going forward, I may decide to ignore you.

I know it sounds petty but it is something like this when you learn who your friends are and who you can rely on it a pinch.

The week wasn't all about Powers Squared. I did do some other writing, including more work on The Runaway. I had a thought about editing a passage in the book and re-introduce a character from a different story. I thought it might go down better coming from that character and I could use him better than I was using the character I was using. I'm not sure if I'm putting this in a way that makes sense but it does to me. Hopefully, it will make sense when the rewrite is done.

I also managed to do a new review for Trophy Unlocked. With Christmas coming, we usually do Christmas movies during December and this year is no exception. My review of The Man Who Invented Christmas was the Saturday Morning Review. The one I finished, Holiday Affair, may or may not see the light of day this year or not. I'm planning on writing one this week for Little Women (1933).

Well, that about wraps up this week. Keep writing and I'll be back next week.

Sunday, December 1, 2019

A Week in Writing #275 - Writing, the Holidays and Kickstarter

The truth about writing, holidays, and travel is that something has to give. You really can't do all three at the same time. This Thanksgiving not only did we have to travel, like we do every year but we also left a day early because of snow in the Grapevine, the main way north out of Los Angeles.
So the week essentially gets cut back to only a couple of days.

It's hard to write with a group of people around as well. With nothing to do for the moment, I sat down to work on this and was quickly interrupted twice in about five minutes. Make that three times. There's no solitude in a crowd.

We did some work on Powers Squared this week, besides hyping the Kickstarter whenever we could. New pages from Nina came in on Sunday, which was a bad day for Paul and I to look at them. He had been gone the previous day to DesignerCon with Trevor, they had a friend over in the afternoon and there was a football game on that I wanted to watch. (I only follow one team in one sport, so give this to me.) We still had a newsletter to get out and I had this blog to write, so time was tight.

The pages looked good when we had a chance to look at them on Monday. We're also actively looking for a replacement colorist. So far, only two people have approached us and both are very good. We're still sort of distracted to really concentrate on that right now.

Paul and I spent some time over the holiday to talk with my wife's siblings and their adult children into supporting our Kickstarter. They were very receptive and we raised a lot of funding. Some even offered to talk with others they work with to support it as well. We're getting closer to our goal but we still have a ways to go.

On Friday, even though we were traveling Paul and I figured out how to do a mail merge and sent out emails to 70 people from the mailing list who have not, so far, supported the Kickstarter. Paul sent out blast emails to classmates in two of his recent classes. And I even sent personal emails to two of my oldest friends and two of my siblings who have not backed us.

So far, the only response I've received was from one of the friends. I've known this guy since high school and he declined to help, stating amongst other excuses that he wasn't the target audience and pleading poverty since he's retired. I'm sorry but I didn't take that well. I'm not the target audience for the comic book, and neither are most of the backers, so that doesn't hold water and he's a retired city employee so I don't think he's really hurting. Hey, I've had total strangers pledge a dollar. Someone I've known my entire adult life can't do that much?

I thought about writing him back but there is no nice way to say what I'm thinking, so I dropped him from our mailing list instead. You have to separate the wheat from the chaff. I guess I'm looking at this Kickstarter as a testing ground of sorts. If you won't support us then maybe it's time for us both to move on.

Managed to squeeze in some work on The Runaway on Monday night and some more rewrites on Thanksgiving day as well. Hard to write too much on the road but I feel like I have to at least try. I think it's in my DNA.

No new reviews from me this week but Trevor published one for Trophy Unlocked's Saturday Morning Review, Transformers: Prime - The Game. Trevor is our resident expert on all things Transformers so he brings a lot of knowledge to his review. Next week, we start the Christmas season on the blog and will feature Christmas-themed films every Saturday until Christmas.

Speaking of next week, I'll leave it here for now and we'll pick it up then. Keep writing.