Sunday, May 31, 2020

A Week in Writing #301 - What's Next?

What a difference a week can make and it ain't good. I try not to get political and I won't here, but I don't want to act like I'm living in a vacuum. As if the stay at home order was one thing, now, as I'm writing this, Los Angeles, where I live, is having a curfew, the second night in a row. All I want to say is that while I am saddened by the death of George Floyd (there's no excuse for what happened to him) and upset that some things never seem to change or at least change fast enough when it comes to race, and appreciate the protests in the streets, I can't get behind the vandalism. One thing I remember from the 1992 L.A. Riots was the destruction they caused and how long it took some of these neighborhoods to recover. My six-month pregnant wife and I helped deliver food after the riots and seeing the aftermath up close has stayed with me. Protest, make your voices heard, vote for people who have your best interest in mind but don't burn down and loot the stores. It's a no-win situation for everyone and it detracts from the cause.

On that cheery note, I want to turn to myself and my writing for the week, which is the point of this blog.

I'm still working on my rewrites for The Runaway, which, as I mentioned last week, is sort of my treading water until I can cheat off my son's writing class when it comes to querying. I'm trying to go through a couple of chapters a day and so far I've done just that. I'm up to Chapter Twenty-Seven. The story isn't getting too much longer but I am able to find some story errors which I'm more than happy to fix.

I've been thinking a little about the next book, the one that will be post-COVID and take place in that world. What will the new normal be like for my private detective character? What will happen during the pandemic that will change his world and what sort of cases will he be handling as a result? As I said, I'm just starting to think about that. I figure I'll have some time, too, as this thing doesn't look like it's just going to go away.

I've written a new review, The Merry Widow (1934), which we watched as part of clean off the DVR Saturday. It was a musical that I had sort of avoided watching for years but had recorded it. In my review, I recall hearing another movie, Irreconcilable Differences, of all things, discuss the Lubitsch Touch and use The Merry Widow as an example. I know, but I had to see it in a class at USC led by Arthur Knight, the late great film critic. He would bring guests in and I believe this was one of the films he showed. Well, the quote stuck with me and when I saw the film on TCM, some years back, I recorded it with that film in the back of my head.

I'm hoping I get back on Trophy Unlocked in June but in the meantime, Scooby-Doo Month has wrapped with the live-action Scooby-Doo 2: Monsters Unleashed on Saturday. Wednesday was another video game review, Helltaker.

Powers Squared still chugs along. Our artist has finished work on Issue #14 and we've sent her the script for Issue #15, which is a one-shot, currently called How They Met.

At Paul's instigation, we've changed up our content on our YouTube channel to include some Character Profiles. This week and next, we've brought in our artist and colorist to read the text. They both did a good job with it and we're planning on making more in the weeks ahead. The nice thing is that it relieves us of doing A Week in Powers Squared and we keep having new content every Sunday as planned.

On the subject of comic books, I backed one on Kickstarter this week. The goal was $500 and they have made way more than this, based, in part, on the writer being a major player in the world of digital comics. They said they needed the money for some of the print costs. The writer had backed our Kickstarter, though for a far lesser amount, and we've been working with him almost since we've been doing Powers Squared. After I backed it, I saw that he was posting photos of a billboard about the book and the Kickstarter. Is it me or does the need for the $500 seem disingenuous? I mean, if you have money for a billboard, don't you have the money to print the book? Or rather, if you need money to print the book why are you spending money on a billboard? It doesn't add up for me.

So, it's been a busy week. Hope you stay safe and I'll see you next week back here.

Sunday, May 24, 2020

A Week in Writing #300 - A Milestone?

Does 300 weekly blog posts feel like a milestone? Sort of. That means I'm on the downside of six years of sitting down once a week to consider what I'm doing in an effort to keep myself honest. I'll probably go through this again in three months, when I hit six years, but in case you don't read that one, this blog started because I don't have a "crew", that is an editor, alpha and beta readers, etc. that you're supposed to have to keep you on task, i.e., writing.

I figured blogging about it would be my way of keeping myself motivated. I'd like to imagine there is someone who reads this that would wonder why I didn't blog one week. Wonder if something had happened? Why did he stop? So I continue this little exercise in self-examination. What did I do this week towards my goal of writing?

Well, let's start with The Runaway. I finished the draft I was working on but rather than go immediately onto the joys of querying (more on that later), I decided to go through the book and look for story incongruities and places where I could flesh it out. The book is a little over 80,000 words and I'd like to see if I can make it a little longer. I'm not trying to flesh it out for the sake of fleshing it out, but rather trying to make sure I'm capturing what I should be. Something my main character sees or smells or thinks that would help the story.

I know I write a lot about this book and never get into what the story is about. My main character is named J.D. Barrister. A Texas transplant, he works as a Private Detective in Los Angeles. He lives and works out of his apartment in Palms. The story opens with J.D. finding a Midwest girl who has run away from home and is not stripping, though she's underage. After returning her home, J.D. is hired to find a different runaway, this time an adult man, John Douglas, who has supposedly disappeared and is hiding out in Barstow. The woman who hires him claims to be the man's wife and pays J.D. $800 to bring him home. J.D. gets delayed when his ex-fiancee, Debbie Estevez, an LAPD homicide detective, goes into labor and he has to take her to the hospital. But that delay saves J.D.'s life and he spends the rest of the book trying to figure out why John Douglas ran and who wanted J.D. killed. I'll work on the synopsis before I start querying the book.

Speaking of querying, my son Paul is taking his last UCLA Extension course on writing the novel and one of the things they'll cover before the session is over is query letters. Rather than flail around on mine, I thought I'd wait to see what I can learn from what he learns before I start sending out my pre-rejection emails for Broken People. (That doesn't sound very hopeful, does it?)

I managed to complete a new future review for Trophy Unlocked, Smart Money (1931). The blog is still in the midst of Scooby-Doo month with Paul's review of the live-action Scooby-Doo published as the Saturday Morning Review and Trevor's review of Donut County coming out on Wednesday, which for the past few weeks as been all videogame reviews. I'm hoping to get off the bench in June.

We received a review of Powers Squared Issue #9 this week from First Comics News. It could have been better, a 3 out of 5, though he did compliment the writing and the art. It's a little frustrating that it came out after the book was published, even though we had told them the date prior, and that the reviewer constantly misspells the main characters' last name. It's Powers not Power. You can read it here and find all the reviews of Powers Squared here.

I also designed a new banner for our PodBean podcast, On The Air With Powers Squared as well as a t-shirt for the show. The banner looks like this:

You can listen to it on various sites, which you can find at

Well, that will about do it for now. Keep writing and I'll see you next week.

Sunday, May 17, 2020

A Week in Writing #299 - New Issue Released

Big week for us at Powers Squared in that a new issue was released on Wednesday, which is traditionally New Comic Book Day. It was our 9th issue and the conclusion of the Mathemagical story arc. I mention this, since as a writer, this is something I've worked on which could (the keyword here is could) earn me money. Everything else is either free (Trophy Unlocked) or more theoretical in nature, the books I'm writing such as The Runaway.

I would appreciate it if, as a reader of this blog, you would buy the book and/or recommend the series to someone. Should you decide to, I don't know, buy the book, you could look here if you're so inclined.

On the subject of Powers Squared, Paul and I attended a Zoom call with the staff and some of the creatives from the Artithmeric platform. They are our primary print-on-demand and Merch providers. It was kind of cool to be part of a community. We were there to discuss how we and Artithemeric can grow. I'm hopeful that Powers Squared will be prominent in that growth.

On the theoretical side, I got an update this week on a query I submitted back in August for Broken People. That's right, August, as in nine months ago. And was it worth the wait? Unfortunately, no, a form rejection letter:

"Dear David,
Thank you for sharing your query with me, which I’ve now had the chance to review. After careful consideration, I’m afraid I didn’t respond with the intense enthusiasm which I feel is necessary for me to take on a new project. But this is just one person’s subjective opinion, so please accept my best wishes in your search for representation!"

I'm not surprised. If it took them nine months to read my query, then I'd be shocked if they were enthusiastic about it.

Quite frankly, it had been so long that I had forgotten I had queried them but I made sure to note it on the big agent spreadsheet I keep, so as not to bother them again. I will give them credit, they actually wrote back, which is more than I can say for most of the agents I've queried recently. I can't remember if there was some note on their website, which other agencies have, which states something to the effect that if you don't hear back from us consider it a pass. I mean it took nine months to get a "no", how long are you supposed to wait to hear back if it's a yes?

It's possible that this could have been a "yes". It could have read:

"Dear David,
Thank you for sharing your query with me, which I’ve now had the chance to review. My sincere apologies for taking so long to get back to you. I was about to write you back when I caught COVID-19 which put me out of commission for the last couple of months. I'm just getting my life back in order and am very enthusiastic about your book. If you haven't already found representation, I would really like to read more. Please send me the next 100 pages of Broken People and I will do my best to get back to you as soon as possible."

I'm not wishing COVID-19 on anyone, but that would have been an acceptable excuse for taking nine months.

The kicker is, I've got more of that to look forward to. I'd say in the near future but if they're all the same as this one, it may be next year before I hear back from everyone.

Speaking of writing, I am getting closer to the end of this draft of The Runaway. I've written the conclusion of the story and I'm writing a final follow up chapter. I've been thinking about what I've written and may need to do some editing on the ending before I put the book down and get on with query hell.

Wrote another future review for Trophy Unlocked this weekend. In our Saturday night clear off the DVR night, we watched THX 1138, the first George Lucas film. I don't recall really loving it, but I thought my sons should see it. You'll have to wait for the review to be published to see what I thought of it.

You can find out what I thought of Scoob!, which came out on Friday. Paul, Trevor and I discuss the film on our A Week in Powers Squared video on our YouTube channel. You can also read Paul's review of it on Trophy Unlocked. There's been a lot of Scooby-Doo lately, as the Saturday Morning Review on the blog was Paul's Scooby-Doo! Legend of the Phantosaur.

Well, that about wraps it up for this week. Keep writing and I'll see you back here next week.

Sunday, May 10, 2020

A Week in Writing #298 - The New Reality

I don't know how you're doing with the COVID stay at home orders and the partial-lifting thereof. I hope that everyone reading this is listening to the medical advice coming from the CDC or your own personal physician.

Public Service Announcement over with, let's get into the writing this week.

It probably won't come as a surprise to anyone that reads this that this past week has been spent primarily on Power Squared. Work sort of intensified as we're getting ready to launch Issue #9 on Wednesday the 13th. (You can order it here, BTW.)

I'm finding the more platforms you're on, the harder it is to coordinate not only the same product but release dates as well. We've been letting comiXology dictate the release date, more out of loyalty than anything else. They, in turn, give you a week's heads up on the date, which means you then need to scramble to get other platforms ready. For me, this included a new pdf for Artithmeric, our first Print-on-Demand platform to use, which they put up a week too soon.

Then there is the usual work, looking at thumbnails and cover art for the issue we're working on. Our artist, Rachel Wells, made a couple of suggestions which Paul and I agreed were beneficial to the story. I really like that part of working with her. I never felt the script was written in cement and the goal is always to make it better.

Did a little more work on the Pitch Packet, but that's still not ready for primetime, as they used to say.

I did manage to work some more on The Runaway. I don't know if this ever happens to you, but one night I was planning on working on it when the whole Issue #9 thing happened and I had to make and send a new .pdf. That somehow delayed me enough that I didn't really work on The Runaway that night.

Well, it turns out to have been one of those nights of sleep, when you don't. That used to happen to me all the time but it hasn't happened recently, or at least more infrequently than it used to. Well, that morning around 2 I got up and came out to my computer and wrote about 500 words, that I have been able to use to complete the chapter I was working on. I think I'm about one to two chapters now from wrapping the whole draft up.

I want to use the "free time" after that to send out more pre-rejection queries to see if I can manage to land an agent using a previous book.

One new review this week, The Third Man, a film that I actually own but happened to catch on Saturday morning on TCM. It is one of those films I've been meaning to watch and it was too easy to watch it then, so I did.

This is still part of Scooby-Doo month on Trophy Unlocked, so the Saturday Morning Review was Scooby-Doo and the Alien Invaders. Another review appeared on Wednesday, MediEvil (PS4), which is becoming an unofficially new game review Wednesday on the blog. It's all good.

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

Sunday, May 3, 2020

A Week in Writing #297 - Stay at Home Week 7

I'm going to have to rethink the slug for these as I may be staying home permanently. Now don't worry, dear reader, I have not been fired nor am I losing my job but they're letting us decide if we want to work in the office, post-stay-at-home orders, every day, some days or no days a week. If you go in every day, you get a place to sit, which I guess would be six feet of bench, rather than the current three feet. If you go in less than that, you get "hoteled", meaning you sit where there is available space that day. If you work from home, it's the end of the dining room table, which is what it is now. We have to make the decision during a pandemic that will affect us going forward, even after there is a vaccine.

Since I have to make that decision now, I'm opting to stay home. I'm not anxious to be there every day since that would be a bit of a crapshoot with my health and well-being. And going in even one day a week would still be a bit of crapshoot as well as there are no guaranteed COVID-free days.

There would definitely be advantages like no commute and no ironing. I'm thinking that would save me the equivalent of one and a half workdays a week or about 75 workdays a year. Hopefully, I will put that added time to better use than sitting in a car on the 101, 405 and 10 freeways every day.

Now, what I am doing with the time I have been saving? The short answer is never enough, especially when it comes to The Runaway. I worked a couple of nights on the book but never got traction on the chapter I need to write. It's one of those, I know what I want to happen, it's how to get into it. That said, I did finish one new chapter this week but I need to get on it more than I have been.

One new review this week, The Sea Hawk (1940). We watched the film on Friday night and in-between other writing this weekend I finished it. It goes into the backlog for me and I'm not sure when it will appear on the blog. This month, we're celebrating Scooby-Doo month on Trophy Unlocked. The Saturday Morning Review was Trevor's review of Scooby-Doo and the Witch's Ghost.

So that brings us back to the third leg of my writing trifecta, Powers Squared. This week, it's been more about the business side of things as we wait for a date Issue #9 will go up on comiXology and then scramble to get the other platforms synched up.

This week, we've been having some issues with our Podcast. The week before last, Paul and I watched a Zoom presentation about expanding your podcast's audience and some of the ways we were given haven't panned out as well as I'd hoped. I don't want to get into everything but I've been documenting my issues the same way I would at work, which you know is not fun. I'm hoping the support people at Podbean can straighten us out.

Got to try my hand at writing a feature story for our newsletter, The Hound Dogs' Howl. We've been trying for the last couple of months to feature other Creative Twins and another creative pointed us to some brothers who are out to be models and actors and I wrote up their story based on an email they sent us. We want to have more subscribers to the newsletter, which I hope some of you would do. In the meantime, I'm going to link to a preview if you want to take a look at what we put out every Sunday. You can read it here and if that looks interesting, sign up here. Go ahead and sign up even if it doesn't look interesting because you'll get a free digital copy of the first issue if you do and then you'll know what I'm writing about, though I have to warn you it only gets better.

I've also been working on revising our Pitch packet for that someday pitch we hope to do for an animated series based on Powers Squared. You gotta have dreams.

In the it's-not-all-about-me department, we did a table read this week after dinner of a script Paul wrote as part of a writing program submission, an episode of Rick and Morty. I won't go into specifics, but I have to give him credit for writing in the voice of the show. I mean it does read like an episode. He's done this before during an animation writing class he did. He wrote a script for a show called Tutenstein and someone who had worked on the show told him the same thing, that it read like an episode. That's quite a talent, if you ask me. I'd like to think I could do that if given the chance but he actually can do it now.

Well, that just about does it for me. Keep writing and I'll see you next week.