Sunday, August 30, 2020

A Week in Writing #314 - Still Working It

Hope everyone is staying safe!

Well, another Sunday night and another chance to look back on what I have and haven't done this past week.

Let's start at the beginning, no queries yet. I'm still researching agents, trying to do this round the right way. I'm using QueryTracker to do some of the initial research, having decided that my genre is actually crime (sometimes lumped in with "genre" fiction), which helps narrow the search. But it is still time-consuming to go to every website and read each agent's bio. What I'm looking for is if they mention Crime as something they actually handle.

I'm trying to collect a list and color code the agents from Green as ones I want to query, Yellow as ones I would query and red as ones that I won't at all. The colors are based on a couple of factors: Do they handle Crime or genre fiction? Are they located in the U.S.? What is their position within the agency (if there is more than one agent)? And, of course, are they open to queries?

Red is pretty much reserved for people who don't handle crime or genre fiction at all. An example of a red agent is one that QueryTracker pegged as handing Crime but their agency bio says they are, in fact, "interested in narratives in the areas of business, history, memoir, popular culture and science, books that help us live our best lives, literary, book club, and historical fiction." This agent, who will remain nameless, is marked as red.

Green is pretty easy. The agent handles Crime, they are located in the U.S., they are the only agent at the agency who I would query and they are currently open to new queries.

Yellow is a bit trickier. In this category are agents not located in the U.S., but rather the UK. The reason for this is one that a UK agency listed on their webpage "we require an excellent reason as to why you’re querying a UK agent rather than one in your home country (and ask you to include this reason in your email)." It seems like a hill I don't want to have to climb if I don't have to.

The agent is closed to queries - sort of a no-brainer. Most, though not all, eventually get caught up and are back in the hunt for new writers, so those are yellow for the time being. I say most because there are always those agents who only accept queries from people they've met at writing conferences or are recommended to them by someone they already work with. There is no getting to these agents, so they would be red in my book, rather, my query spreadsheet.

And there is the quandary whenever there are two or more agents at an agency that I could possibly query. It depends on the agency, but I usually shy away from the head/owner of the agency in cases like this. Maybe I'm wrong but I figure they're probably harder to attract seeing as they've got employees and business to attend to, in addition to looking for new talent. Someone on staff is probably more accessible.

It differs by the agency but some want you to only query one agent only. The idea is that if internally they think another agent at the firm would be a better fit, they'll send your query to them. My gut feeling, based on no insights, is that if one agent passes, even if another agent might be a better fit,  the query probably ends up in the round file rather than in the other agent's inbox. I would make one agent green and the others yellow. You never know, there will be other books and I might be trying the same agency but a different agent next time.

There are a few that welcome you to send it to another agent if one declines, so in that case, both agents would be coded as green.

Am I making it sound too complicated?

As they say, it only takes one to believe in you, they just never guarantee there is one out there who does.

So much for queries. The research has taken up a good portion of my "writing time" this week and probably the week or two ahead as well, as there are only so many bios and websites I can get through at once. And believe it or not, while doing my day job I'm not dreaming of researching agents. That's not what I live for.

I did work sporadically on the next J.D. Barrister book, currently titled Skylar. I'm about 9000 words into the first draft but I think I only did about 500 words this week. (I know, the blog is called 1000 Words a Day but that's a goal, not a hard and fast rule.) I'm still feeling my way through this one.

This past week, I did complete a new review for Trophy Unlocked, The Great O'Malley (1937), part of our drain the DVR Saturdays. As always, not sure when this one will appear on the blog. This past week had been Phineas and Ferb Week, with six reviews about various IPs related to the series: Phineas and Ferb (Game)Phineas and Ferb Ride AgainPhineas and Ferb the Movie: Across the 2nd DimensionPhineas and Ferb: Across the 2nd Dimension (PS3)Phineas and Ferb: Quest for Cool Stuff (360), and culminating on Saturday Morning with Phineas and Ferb the Movie: Candace Against the Universe. (And, yes, we signed up for Disney+ to see this on Friday, twice as a matter-of-fact.

The next two weeks will be devoted to Tony Hawk games, so get out your skateboards and game controllers and join the fun.

That takes us to Powers Squared. The end of the month means everyone turns in their pages and, of course, their invoices if they hadn't already. Our artist has wrapped up Issue 15, our colorist is about 12 pages behind her and our letterer is on the final pages for Issue #14. Everything needs to be reviewed and approved. The next storyline is a three-part arc, Mocha and Raven. The story idea is from about 2014 but rewrites were done this year to knock it into form.

As I wrote earlier I was working on it, my second episode script was "finished" enough that I felt free to show it to Paul. I seem to have a blindspot for formatting. I'm not going about these the right way, I'll be the first to admit. Since these are based on already written stories, I'm not doing the springboards, premises and outlines the way you're supposed to. I just wanted to get some more experience writing one and finishing up the storyline from the pilot seemed the right way to go.

If and when I attempt another script, I will try to write something that is not based on a published story and go through the proper process, letting Paul be the showrunner in that case. But I really think we need to work on our Pitch Packet now before any other scripts for the proposed series.

Well, I think that's a good place to stop for this post. Keep writing and I'll see you next week.

Sunday, August 23, 2020

A Week in Writing #313 - Lost Time

Hope everyone is staying safe!

I don't know about you, but I lost some writing time this past week due to watching the DNC's virtual convention. I wasn't planning on it, but I got caught up in the event. That won't be an issue this week, which is about as political as I get on this blog.

So that explains why I didn't do some of the things I was planning to do. I'll start with the bad, no queries again this week. I know I'm putting that off and I will promise to do better this week. I think I've found some good prospects. If and when I do I will report back here.

I did work this week on a script for a second episode of Powers Squared: The Animated Series. I know it's still a pipedream, but I wanted to work on writing this kind of project. I finished a first draft this week and did a round of edits. I still want to go through it again before showing it to anyone. I'll let you know when I do and what is said.

There was some review work we did this week on the book itself; pencils from our artist, the last four pages as well as the cover of issue #15. Nothing too time consuming, though we do take it seriously and try to give it the time necessary.

More writing on my "next" novel, though I made a change that required some rewrites and I didn't get as much done as I would have liked (see excuse above). I'm about 8000 words in and while I have a general idea where I want it to go, I'm a pantser so that's as much as I'm working with.

I did finish a new review this week for Trophy Unlocked, Bird of Paradise (1932) a pre-code film starring Delores del Rio and Joel McCrea. I also put up on the blog four reviews for October (never too soon to get ready for Halloween); horror films: White Zombie, The Curse of the Cat People, Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde (1931), and Revenge of the Creature.

This week, the reviews were Carrion for the Switch on Wednesday and The Emoji Movie on Saturday, both written by Paul.

Well, not a big week but I hope you'll keep writing and I'll see you next week.

Sunday, August 16, 2020

A Week in Writing #312 - Six Years On

Well, I don't want to break my arm patting myself on the back, but this is a bit of a milestone; six years ago today, I started writing this little weekly musing on my week in writing. I'm not sure if I should be happy that I've gone this far or a little sad that I don't have more to show for the years in between.

Before I go on any further, I would be remiss not to mention that my son Paul has been edting this blog for the past six years. I really appreciate his help and endurance in this endeavor. I'm sure it wouldn't be nearly as readable if it wasn't for him.

I think I've learned a few things along the way, but I really think I have some much more to learn and to, obviously, do to get where I want to get to, which is making a living at what I really want to do. I know the deck is stacked against me and that it is rare anyone nowadays makes a living just writing, but that's the sort of thing dreams are made of.

Well, no Literary Agent, at least not so far. I am working on this project at the moment; researching potential agents to query. It's a rather slow and boring process if you haven't undertaken it yourself. A couple of things I'm seeing: First, more and more agents are moving towards Online Query Forms. Yes, something even more impersonal than an email and no doubt easier to ignore. Response times are also getting pushed out, rather than four weeks, it seems more common to find six and even longer, that is if they respond at all. Many are now saying they'll get back to you in 12 weeks only if they are interested. So no more of those impersonal form letters/emails. Just if you don't hear from us that means "no".

That doesn't mean I haven't been writing. I think I've written one, rewritten two and started a fourth novel since I began this blog. So, when the day comes, and I get an agent, hopefully, I'll be ready. I will, of course, give you a blow by blow of the process once it gets going. I'm still trying to find 10 agents to query as a first wave. I'm still building my list, to borrow a phrase.

In the past six years, I'm going to guess I've written about 300 reviews of movies for Trophy Unlocked, not all of which (45) have yet to be published. As an example, this week, I wrote two, one for Morning Glory (1933), as part of our drain the DVR Saturday program; and one for Night Club Scandal (1937), a film I just happened to catch on TCM while working on something else.

One of mine did get published this past week, Kindergarten Cop (1990). I was outraged by the "controversy" surrounding the film when it was canceled from a drive-in program in Oregon and we decided to watch it. While I can see how some films, like Gone With The Wind or The Birth of a Nation, might be considered controversial, Kindergarten Cop didn't deserve to be thrown in with those titles. Well, as you can imagine, it rubbed me the wrong way and I had to say something about it.

In other Trophy Unlocked news, Trevor's review of Ghost of Tsushima went up on Wednesday, which seems to be the day for video game reviews.

Six years ago, we were still looking for an artist for Powers Squared, now we've published nine issues and are getting ready to publish our tenth, while number 15 is getting worked on. I think we've come a long way but, like most things, have a long way yet to go.

Even though this hasn't been the best seller I think we thought it would, it still has been fun. I like working with my sons on it. Paul and I work a lot together on podcasts and videos, which I do enjoy. I've also really enjoyed working with our artists, especially Rachel Wells and our colorists, shout outs to Julia Canon. Comic books are a collaborative art and I really like the idea of making it better.

And I've enjoyed most of the ancillary work, like the website, the podcast, the videos, the social media and the newsletters. I hope you've taken a moment to take a look at them at least once in the past six years. (Shameless plug:

There is a big difference, I think, between Issue #1 and Issue #10, not only in the art style but also in the storytelling. I'm anxious to see if we can take this further but I feel like COVID has kept us in neutral. We're still working on the engine and I think we'll be better placed when race day comes around again.

We'll enough with the metaphors. Keep writing and I'll see you back here again next week.

Sunday, August 9, 2020

A Week in Writing #311

Let me start off this blog with a couple of updates. A couple of weeks ago, I mentioned that I had reached out to someone I had seen on a Comic-Con@home video who claimed to be a marketer for comic books. Well, two weeks and counting and no response. Not sure if that speaks to their lack of interest or their lack of business acumen. I will do what they don't want you to do when looking for an agent and nudge. If after that there's no response, I will count this as a minor misadventure.

Speaking of looking for agents, I did do some more research, but no queries. Researching possible agents is very time-consuming and a little soul-crushing. You read everything they're looking for and you start to doubt yourself. I'm not talking so much about the work but the little things agents seem to be looking for, things I'm sure they think will make the work stand out to a publisher, which is, of course, their goal as well as mine. However, it sometimes feels like I'm trying to fit my square peg in their round hole. I'm guessing that theirs is a moving target as well, as in what they're looking for now is not what they'll be looking for next week or next month. You can't write for the agent, you have to write for yourself and hope they'll somehow match.

I did do some more work on my latest idea. I think I have the setup, but I'm trying to figure out what case I would use. I originally thought about blackmail but I've used that before. Now I'm leaning to using a tontine as the plot device. I've had the idea for a while and it just occurred to me this week to try it.

In other writing, I did complete two reviews this week, one for Kindergarten Cop (1990) and one for Dance, Girl, Dance (1940). The former was spurred by the fact a showing of the film in Oregon was canceled because it was deemed controversial and compared to Birth of a Nation and Gone with the Wind. It should appear next Saturday on Trophy Unlocked. Dance, Girl, Dance was a result of our weekly drain the DVR. Not sure when that will be published.

What was published was a week-long survey of the Final Fantasy VII franchise, including games and a feature based on the game, written by Paul. On Saturday, it was the 20th anniversary of Buzz Lightyear of Star Command: The Adventure Begins written by Trevor. The two of them have been very busy during the pandemic with writing reviews.

For Powers Squared it was the usual week of a Podcast on Friday, a YouTube video on Sunday, and a newsletter to our subscribers. This week's podcast, On the Air with Powers Squared, featured a guest for the first time, our artist Rachel Wells. Our colorist, Julia Canon, had us set up a Discord account for the comic book and it allows us to do videos, which, using OBS, we were able to broadcast on Twitch and then, using Audacity, pulled the audio from the video.

Keeping with the creative team, this week's YouTube video was a Google Hangout with both Rachel and Julia, the first time we had ever spoken to both of them at the same time. We also posted an unboxing video, featuring an anthology Artithmeric is trying to get distributed, which would serialize 10 of their books, including Powers Squared.

We also did what I hope is the final run-through of the Pilot script for our proposed animated series. I've got a few notes but I think we're pretty much there. Next, we can hopefully finish up the Pitch Packet for it.

There always feels like there is something else to do with the book. We're always trying to figure out how to grow our audience. If you have any ideas, please feel free to share in the comments. I mean that.

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

Sunday, August 2, 2020

A Week in Writing #310 - Tough Getting Back to Reality

It's always tough coming back to reality after attending Comic-Con, even a virtual one, like last week's Comic-Con@Home. This year it was a little easier, obviously, but it always makes me want to be doing something more than I'm doing. Something, you know, more visible. I still have that desire to be on a panel someday.

I approached my print-on-demand provider about the idea of working on a table/booth with them. They had mentioned the desire to do more Cons and there is nothing like the present to think about next year. I'm hopeful they'll want to do something and we can tag on that. Plan B, which we may have to start before they do, is to try and get a table in Artist Alley. Writer and letterer are categories,  so I'm hopeful if we all go for one, we'll maybe get one.

Every weekend, I write the newsletter for Powers Squared. The first of the month is sort of our Illustrated Supplement, with more photos and more features. We have been on the outlook for Creative Twins and when we don't get volunteers we have to find them on the internet, which is more work. And, every first of the month, I have to come up with a new poll question for the website. I'd love it if it weren't for naught, so I encourage you, dear reader, to check it out at and vote.

One of our weekly features is a peek-of-the-week, an image from an upcoming issue. When looking for one in Issue #10, I found a coloring error that Paul and I had missed. Luckily, Julia, our new colorist, was willing to take on fixing it for us.

If you're ever curious about the newsletter, please sign up at

In other writing, work continues on the rewrite of The Runaway. I'm in the final stretch with I think less than 50 pages to go. I am a little disappointed that the word count hasn't really gone up, that was part of the reason for the write. I'm still just below 90,000 words. I think after that, I'm going to put it away for a while and get back in earnest with trying to query Broken People.

I did have an idea that I played around with this weekend and did what would amount to the first 1800 words or so. I'm trying to think about setting the next J.D. Barrister book post-pandemic since I don't see a private investigator getting much work during a pandemic, or how he could do the job without taking a great risk of illness and/or death. So, this bit would be his going back to his office for the first time in months and finding that his next-door neighbor wants to hire him. I haven't gotten into the particulars of what the case would be, just introducing the new character and the situation.

Worked a little with Paul brainstorming some ideas about a script he was writing. It's always nice to give back and I hope I helped him.

Spent some time this week trying to prep for a slew of reviews that are scheduled over the next few weeks on Trophy Unlocked. I usually post about new reviews on Facebook and Twitter but also post them on Pinterest as well. This is something I try to squeeze in between walking in the morning and getting ready for work. The less I have to do in the mornings, especially looking up metadata and photos, the better, so I think I'm squared away for now.

I wrote two reviews this weekend, one for the Woody Allen film we watched on Friday, Vicky Cristina Barcelona, but also one for The Girl From Missouri (1934), a Jean Harlow film that we watched during our drain the DVR Saturday night. However, no new reviews for me on the blog. On Wednesday, it was Star Fox Adventures, a video game reviewed by Trevor and Saturday was Hey Arnold! The Jungle Movie, a TV movie also reviewed by Trevor. I'm not sure when I'll be back on the blog, but I've got all five Saturdays in October leading up to and including Halloween, the event not the movie.

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