Sunday, June 28, 2020

A Week in Writing #305 - Pre-Query research

As promised, this week I began the sometimes arduous task of researching agents so that I might have the privilege of their rejection later. Of course, I hope this time I hit gold and find someone who will take an interest in my work, but I want to prepare myself for what has been the norm.

I began by using the site, which tracks agents and allows you to track your queries there as well, in an effort to make this a more communal process. They list agents by genres they handle, so using my previous spreadsheet, I added and subtracted from that to come out with a list of possible agents based on that criteria,

The next step, and this is where I am at present, is to do a deeper dive into these agents and their websites to see, for starters, if they actually mention handling or looking for books in that genre. While a majority of them are coming back positive, there are some that don't mention it or handle it for say Middle Grade and YA, not my target audience. I'm also noting what their position is at the firm. I'm not sure if it's better to hit the highest person on their food chain, say the owner, who no doubt is very good but also very busy, or to hit the lowest person, someone new and hoping to build their "list".

After that, I'll do a deeper dive on the ones I want to query to, who they handle and how to contact them. More and more of it appears to be going online with a form rather than an email. My guess is that forms are easier to ignore.

We'll see where it goes from there and I will, of course, be complaining informing you here as I go.

I am still working on my rewrites for The Runaway. I'm trying to fix things as I go, though I know I'll have to go back through it again later.

Oh, remember Familiar Stranger? And the editor who dropped off the face of the Earth after 30 pages? Well, my mother asked me out of the blue about that last week, and offered to call the man, since she's the one who originally introduced us and knew him previously. She, of course, left a message, since he didn't pick up her call either. She told me she left a message saying that it was about "David's novel". I would have played it differently, as I doubt she'll ever hear back from him. Personally, I've moved on without him but if she wants to go down that rabbit hole, so be it. I will let you know if anything ever changes on that front, so don't hold your breath waiting.

We did a new On the Air with Powers Squared on Friday talking about life outside the comic book. I made a point of mentioning this blog, so if anyone has followed up on that, welcome! Leave a comment.

We received new pages from our artist this week, inks to be exact. We still have four to review and will do that before the day is over, even if this might go out before that.

As far as future content is concerned, Paul and I had a Google Hangout with the co-founder of Artithmeric this morning (evening his time), Andrew Copeland. He runs a couple of ad agencies, a CBD consulting firm and Artithmeric. Next time I feel like I'm busy I'll try to remember all that he has on his plate. That video should be coming out next Sunday on our YouTube channel.

We also got back the audio for a couple of new Character profiles that will be going up later in July along with other Google Hangouts we did with our artist and colorist. You might want to subscribe and ring the bell to be sure to be notified when they go up.

I'm working on a new review for Trophy Unlocked, The Clay Pigeon, another from our Drain the DVR Saturday nights. I should have it done shortly but couldn't get it done before I did this. I did have a new post on the blog, Heat Lightning (1934), the last of my June Pre-Code Hollywood posts. Before that, on Wednesday, was another Transformers Game review from Trevor, Transformers: Rise of the Dark Spark.

Well, I think that covers the bases for now. Keep writing and I'll see you next week.

Sunday, June 21, 2020

A Week in Writing #304 - New Content

I want to wish all the fathers out there a Happy Fathers Day.

I think I hit all areas this past week, though, of course, there is always more to be done. But let's start with Powers Squared. On Friday, Paul and I shot four videos that we're hoping to put out over the next month or so. Two of them are unboxing videos, one of which went up today and you can watch it here.

We also had two individual Google Hangouts with our artist, Rachel Wells, and our colorist Julia Canon. We had previously done a few with Rachel and our then colorist, Nina Gaillard, but that was almost two years ago now. It was about time that we do a new one and it was pretty cool to talk to them. I, for one, had never actually spoken with Julia before, so it was nice to have that opportunity.

We also arranged this week to have two people narrate Character Profiles for us. I can't go further into the whos just yet, but we're pretty excited about it.

We spent some time this week reviewing pencils from Rachel for issue #15. We had her make a couple of minor changes on a couple of animals. I like how we can ask for reasonable changes and she seems very willing to do them with a very quick turnaround. Now we're on to the inks for those pages.

For Trophy Unlocked, I managed to write two new reviews this weekend, one for Woody Allen's Deconstructing Harry, which we watched from a VHS tape I had, and one for He Was Her Man (1934), which we watched as part of our Clean the DVR Saturday Nights. I had recently read Allen's autobiography, Apropos of Nothing, and was in the mood for one of his films. I don't know if you've tried to buy any of his movies lately on DVD or Blu-Ray but they're getting to be really hard to find unless you import one from Poland or France. I ended up ordering what I could on Saturday morning.

So to answer your questions, yes I still have VHS tapes, though very few and we do have a VCR machine, two actually, that both work. And, no I don't believe the allegations against Woody Allen. Two investigations have shown nothing happened. I would recommend his book, however.

I did publish a new review as Trophy Unlocked's Saturday Morning Review, The Most Dangerous Game (1932). We're doing a Pre-Code June so to speak on Saturdays. So far, Wednesdays have been for videogames. This week it was Paul's review of The Last of Us Remastered + Left Behind. Next week, starting Monday, it will be a week-long look at older Transformer video games, but more on that next time.

For my other writing, I did more work on The Runaway, including finishing that chapter which had sort of stalled for whatever reason. I also continued my rewrites on the other chapters. I'm finding that even with these modest edits, I've got a bigger one coming to pull everything together. As I'm going, I see where a revelation I may have made earlier would play well in another spot. I'm sure you've had the same experience. I still want to see how much more I can add to the word count before delving into what will no doubt be a fairly healthy rewrite. As far as I'm concerned, nothing is golden.

I did not start the query process on Broken People. That was one hill that I didn't climb this week, though I know I should. I will try to have at least a good query letter by this time next week.

So that seems like a good place to end it. Keep writing and I'll see you next week.

Sunday, June 14, 2020

A Week in Writing #303 - A Star is Born?

Pardon the subtitle but I wanted to promote my subtle narration of Who is Uncle Brian? the latest Powers Squared video on our YouTube channel. I'm pretty sure no one will mistake me for James Earl Jones, but it was something that had to be done. We do things like that, hoping people will watch, like and listen, so I'm hoping you, dear reader, will do the same. If you like it, leave a comment, or if you feel like my microphone should be taken away, well, keep that to yourself.

While all the videos are on our channel, I've also added them to the Powers Squared website, so you watch them there as well. They're under the character headings and you'll find five of them have videos: Marty, Eli, Jennifer, Mocha, and now Uncle Brian. We're planning on doing more in the near future.

So, shameless plug over with for this week, let's talk writing. Since we're on the subject of Powers Squared (aren't we every week?) let's start there.

Our artist, Rachel Wells, started work on Issue #15, How They Met. So the week has been filled with thumbnails and pencils. We like working with her because she has good ideas and easy to work with. We did ask for some revisions, but they were mostly cosmetic in nature, not to take away from her art. And while she doesn't do the coloring, she does color the initial character designs and we wanted some revisions on a couple of them, which she turned around rather quickly.

As with any artwork, Paul and I sit down and go over it. Since some of the art had to do with animals, we brought in Trevor, who likes drawing wildlife, to consult, helping us to word what we want to have changed. I barely know writing terms, let alone how to communicate with an artist on something, so it's nice to have a resident familiar with the terms.

I worked this week making revisions to the script for the story arc after How They Met, titled Mocha and Raven. I hadn't touched the idea since 2016 and there was no thought to issue length or panels in that version. It took a couple of days to go through it and then I did a couple of more minor revisions before sending it on to Paul and Trevor for their input.

There are some scripts pending here but I'm waiting for Paul to complete some of his own work including scripts for submissions to writing programs due July 1. I don't want to dilute his creative powers when this and the pilot for Powers Squared The Animated Series can wait.

I also managed to do a little work on the Pitch Packet for the animated series but I know there will be more revisions when we get to that.

Speaking of pitching, Paul's writing class finally got to query letters so I'll be revising mine and starting that process again for Broken People. He sent me the teacher's examples of a good query letter and a bad one. I'll admit relief that one of mine wasn't in the latter category. I also realize that it's going to take some research as well. Not just to find an agent but to find examples of the people they represent to say, see mine is like so-and-sos.

As you can imagine, in my life, there isn't a lot of time for leisure reading. I manage to keep a book going, but they are rarely mysteries, so I don't have an encyclopedic knowledge of authors I write like or who write similar stories. Nothing against mysteries but I rarely read comics either. Between work and writing and family, eating, and exercise, the day is pretty full as it is. I know I should read more but I need the days to be longer to get that done.

I did work on that new chapter for The Runaway. While it seemed logical that I would have that chapter (and I was hoping to add some words to the count along the way) I'm a little lost with it. I haven't yet figured out why it needs to be there for the story. But that's the beauty of writing something, you can always delete it later. I'm not sure how much of this work will be put on hold when I get to the querying. As I believe I've written before that process always seems to take more time than just updating an email to be more suited to the agent.

That leaves just one area of our writing trifecta to go, writing reviews for Trophy Unlocked. I guess June, at least on Saturdays, is turning to a Pre-Code film month. The Saturday Morning Review this week was Employees' Entrance, a drama from 1933.

In the meantime, I completed another one for later on The Front Page (1931), the film that was remade in 1940 as His Girl Friday, which I've seen several times. I had read about when the remake happened and the gender change for Hildy, but I wanted to see the original for myself. This was another Delete the DVR Saturdays and The Front Page was up. So many more to go, I'm afraid.

Well, that about does it for this week. Keep writing, stay safe and I'll see you next week.

Sunday, June 7, 2020

A Week in Writing #302 - And the Work Continues . . .

Sometimes, I feel like I live in a bubble, as my world has gotten smaller in recent months. I rarely get out of the block around my house and I haven't filled a car with gas in over three months. If I do, indeed, work from home permanently, I'm going to have to figure some way to expand outwards or the chair I'm sitting on writing this will become my whole world.

One of the downsides of working from home is that when work is over, I don't really move. I just shut off Citrix and keep working, though on my own stuff. Oh, I do go for a walk after work but there is no change of place really, something I had gotten used to with working. On the plus side, of course, is that I don't have to spend two-plus hours a day in the car, so the payoff is there.

Writing for me is what keeps me going, though I wish it paid better. Right now I'm spending far more than I'm making and I sometimes feel like that equation is not going to reverse itself. I enjoy the process and still hold out the hope that someone will pay to read what that process wrought. Until then, I keep plugging away.

Let's start with Powers Squared, which always seems to be a player when it comes to time. Since we're at the beginning of the month, there is always the process of renewal. Each month our artist sends us thumbnails for the next eight pages and the process of building a comic book begins anew. As does sitting down and making decisions about which thumbnail to use.

This month, we're starting our 15th issue, How They Met, which tells the story of how our heroes, Marty and Eli Powers, meet their benefactor, Mocha. It's a one-shot, meaning one issue story arc. Hopefully, it will provide a jumping-on point for new readers.

To that end, Paul and I did our Friday podcast, On the Air with Powers Squared twice. Once for Twitch, which was more visual and lasted about half an hour, and a shorter less than 10-minute podcast for PodBean and the other platforms it feeds reviewing those thumbnails. We were able to go live a little earlier than normal on Twitch and picked up a new viewer sort of out of the blue, bringing our grand total up to one but it was a different one so something to cheer. We decided that while reviewing artwork is great for a video stream it wasn't so great for listening, so we did a separate podcast about the process, telling rather than showing.

When I hear people say their podcast is available wherever you get your podcasts, I must admit I wonder how they pull that off. Right now, PodBean, which was chosen because a friend had a podcast on the site, feeds Apple Podcasts and Spotify. It's supposed to feed YouTube and Google Podcasts, but for whatever reason, the former is sporadic at best and the latter apparently takes forever to index. It also feeds to Linkedin, Facebook, Tumblr, and Twitter but those aren't really what the big podcasts are probably talking about.

In addition to the Podcast and simul-stream, we also do a video every Sunday on YouTube. Paul had the clever idea of mixing things up, so the last two weeks, we've done Character Profiles, which Paul puts together. Last week, we had our colorist, Julia Canon, read the one for Mocha and this week, our artist, Rachel Wells, narrated one for Jennifer Perry. I'm thinking I could read the one for Uncle Brian but we're hoping to get someone with real talent to read other ones. So part of this week was spent writing profiles for Dr. Atlas, Professor Theorem, and Uncle Brian.

Also, since we talk about Yokai in several of the profiles, I decided that our next story arc should probably include them, so I've been reworking an idea called Mocha and Raven. I hadn't looked at it for several years, the last draft dating from 2016. I was surprised at how freeform it was written and how long it was. I think I got it down to three 20-page issues so that's something. It needs much more work but I was pleased I could corral it in a few days.

In addition to the thumbnails, we also reviewed colored pages from Julia today and put out a newsletter, The Hound Dogs' Howl. That newsletter is once a month and every other week, we call it The Bark and it's slightly down-sized.

So, as you can see Powers Squared keeps us busy.

I managed to do some work on The Runaway this week as well. As I've written previously, I'm treading water until Paul's class get to query writing so I can see what I'm doing wrong before spending the time querying Broken People. A few weeks ago, I wrote about a query taking months to be rejected, well there was a guy on one of the social media that topped that; it took two years for him to receive a rejection based on his first query to an agent. Of course, in the meantime, he had found one, so it had a happy ending for him. When I get around to actually querying Broken People, I hope to hear back sooner than that.

I've been going through The Runaway at about two chapters a day, making basic changes and on Thursday got to a point where I needed to write a new chapter. However, by that time of the week, I was literally too tired to do it. So I haven't worked on The Runaway since Thursday night. I'm hoping with enough sleep I can tackle it this week and get back on track. I've lowered my goal to 90,000 words and I'm hopeful this chapter will help me get there. And no, I'm not writing it for the word count but because the story requires it.

On the Trophy Unlocked front, I returned to the blog this Saturday with Smart Money. I've posted some more for later in the month, which I'll get to as they are released. I'm working on one right now for later, The Sin of Nora Moran, which is part of our DVR deleting Saturdays. Not sure when that will go up but I'll finish that up tonight.

So, that's about it for this week. Keep writing and I'll see you back here next week.