Sunday, May 30, 2021

A Week in Writing #353 - Double Rejection


Hope everyone is staying safe and writing.

Well, last week I said I would check on the status of my queries. Well, for one of them, I didn't have to wait. Got an actual email rejection, this one from the British agent I had queried, sort of by mistake. Form letter and to the point: "Thank you for the submission of your novel, Broken People, to me. I am afraid that I do not feel that it is right for my list, but I appreciate you sending it to me. I wish you all the best in your search for an agent." At least they cared enough to send an email.

The other one was DNR. I had submitted to the agent on 3/25. Their submission page stated their policy: "If we are interested in reading your work, we will be in touch. If you have not heard from us within 6-8 weeks, it is safe to assume that we have passed on the opportunity." It's been eight weeks, no response, so they're passing, at least that's what I have to assume.

That put me down to three active and I know I had made the promise to query again. I was going to do that but decided I needed to write a shorter synopsis. It would be really nice if agents had a standard submission they wanted. Most agents want a short synopsis but that can be anything from a paragraph to 5 pages. The one I was interested in querying wanted a 1-2 page synopsis, regrettably not something I had on hand. To avoid trying to just edit down a longer one, I decided to handwrite it out, which I did. I just haven't tried to sit down and decipher my bad handwriting.

Having an extra couple of days around the holiday hasn't really been the write-fest I had hoped. I think the problem is there is still so much to write. I did work on the first part of a possible future script for Powers Squared. By that I got through a first draft with 20 pages and panels, so that's a win, I guess.

Started a review of Her Man (1930). The film was recently restored and shown on TCM as part of their film festival. Part of our drain the DVR Saturday night. There is surprisingly very little on the film, including the barest of synopsis, even on AFI's survey. As always, no idea when it will ever appear; I have to finish it first.

Trophy Unlocked goes on without me, with two reviews, both by Paul. On Wednesday, it was Watch Dogs: Legion (PS5) and on Saturday, The SpongeBob Movie: Sponge on the Run.

I did make some progress on Skylar. I've changed up the story, starting with a murder which I will link to the tontine storyline. Trying to get to the action as soon as possible.

On our weekly podcast, On the Air with Powers Squared, we started to talk about a new script, one on which Paul was the primary writer. I think we'll be following this issue on future episodes. Something we've talked about doing but I like the idea that we're starting from the beginning. If you're counting at home, this would be Issue #19.

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

Sunday, May 23, 2021

A Week in Writing #352 - What Does it Mean to Be Published?

Hope everyone is staying safe and writing.

This past Wednesday, we dropped the 11th issue of Powers Squared. The issue is available on five different platforms and in print and digital formats. I remember the day we published the first issue and really not that much has changed about the experience. While I want to be excited about each new issue's release, every time is pretty much like the one before, which means nothing seems to change.

We publish on a Wednesday, which is traditionally new comic book day, at least in the U.S. The date is chosen, not by us but by ComiXology, the first site we published on. Since then, despite moving to additional platforms, we've let them set the date. They are, after all, the largest one we publish on.

But the actual day is no different than any other Wednesday, except that I have additional work to do. I still go to work, even if it's working from home, go to meetings, etc., and clock out at the end of the day no different than when I started the day. I'm not sure what I'm expecting to change but the fact is nothing does. Worse yet, there is usually no more money in the bank because of it.

As a writer, you really want people to read and hopefully enjoy your work. You might not expect to get rich off your endeavors but you really want a reaction of some kind. I know that comic books might not be considered high literature to some but it is storytelling, a collaborative creative effort, and something that I'm very proud of. I just wish others would be aware of it and we would hear some feedback from those who had. Is that too much to ask?

While I wait for that answer, let's move on.

Ever have to buy a printer in a hurry? I did. The printer we had been using for several years now ran out of ink and I had neglected to order any.  After ordering more, my wife and I went to our local Office Depot to get a new cartridge of black ink. We put it in and got a message that the ink cartridge was damaged. Never had gotten that message before, so back to the store, the woman gives us a new one, we take it home and it's damaged, too. We did a little research and it appeared it wasn't something wrong with the cartridge but the printer.

As we're both working from home, printing is really something you can't wait the few days it might take to get the printer fixed. And there was no telling if it could be fixed at all and would it cost as much as a new printer would. Couldn't take the time, so a new printer we bought. Maybe it's nostalgia but we miss the other printer. Isn't that just the way it is?

In other writing, I actually had a really good day working on Skylar. Saturday morning and afternoon I was sort of on a roll and hit that proverbial 1000 words a day and then some. It really felt good. That's a feeling I miss most nights.

No new queries this week, as I'm holding at five out. I'll check the status of those and decide if I need to DNR one and send out a new one. But if I can save myself the stress one week, I'm not above doing that.

This Saturday night, rather than draining the DVR, we watched a blu-ray disc of The Sign of the Cross (1932). I'm working on that review and am about 2000 words into it. In other review news, this past Saturday's review of Resident Evil Village (PS5), by Paul, was the blog's 1200th. In the week prior, in order to get to 1200, we had How to Train Your Dragon week, with reviews of all three films, Monday, Wednesday and Friday, How to Train Your Dragon, How to Train Your Dragon 2, and How to Train Your Dragon: The Hidden World, respectively. The first was written by Trevor and the other two by Paul.

In other news, my sons and I finally got our second vaccine shot this past Tuesday. Hope if you're not fully vaccinated, you're in the process.

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

Sunday, May 16, 2021

A Week in Writing #351 - Blame it on the Pizza

Hope everyone is staying safe and writing.

Usually, on Saturday nights, my family watches a movie that we've recorded on the DVR, okay I've recorded on the DVR. After we watch it, I delete it and write a review. Not this week, and I'm blaming it on the pizza. A national chain was having a 49% sale which I thought would be fun, as a change of pace. However, it went awry from there. I'll take responsibility for it but one of the local stores is partially to blame.

Occasionally, I'll select the wrong location online and, usually, I'll catch it before I leave home. However, last night, we went to the store we usually use and waited, you know with the emergency brake a-blazing. One of the workers came out to deliver to another customer and asked the name my order was under. I gave her my name and waited. She came back a few minutes later and told us that the order was still in the oven. All, I think, is right with the world.

Well, I get the indication on the app that the order is ready and we wait. After about five minutes and a couple of tries to get someone to talk at the door, another worker goes back and a few minutes later tells us that we don't have an order at that store.

We check the app and head to the right store. They were very attentive and they give us our order. However, by then, it had been over an hour and it was too late to watch a movie, so no movie and no review for me this week.

That is not to say that there was a dearth of reviews on Trophy Unlocked. On Wednesday, Trevor's review of Star Wars Racer Revenge went up, and on Saturday, Paul's review of  The Great Mouse Detective was the featured review. On Sunday, Trevor posted our MonsterVerse Review Hub, one place for all of the recent Godzilla-King Kong tetralogy of films.

This week, the blog will hit 1200 reviews on Saturday, so stay tuned.

On Thursday, I managed to send off a new query, again through an online form. If you've read this blog before, you know how little I like this part of the writing process. This one wasn't as bad as others, though I did have to come up with who might want to read Broken People and I was spared trying to think of marketing schemes for it. Of course, it's a wait-and-see process now. But I do have five out that can be considered active.

All of this is the background for what was the biggest item of the week. On Thursday, I was notified that ComiXology was going to publish our book on Wednesday, May 19th, or six days later. That put into process a lot of footwork on our part, including uploading issues to Kindle and GlobalComix, two of the platforms we publish on. I had already made the .mobi file I needed for Kindle but I hadn't uploaded it since I didn't know the date it was going to be released at the time. When we went to add the issue to GlobalComix, it was already there ready to go. I don't think either of us remembered uploading it but that made it go much faster than I expected.

We were lucky to have a review in the pipeline, and one that was particularly positive. You can read it here.

Paul and I also shot a commercial, which Paul edited, which we plan to post on the day it comes out. Additionally, we wrote and published our first Bark in quite a while. What had been a weekly newsletter is now to used for events like this. One will also be sent out on the day of publication.

Around that, we had a roundtable with the creative team on Friday and then a team-building exercise on Sunday afternoon, playing Keep Talking and Nobody Explodes. We had some technical issues both times but Paul figured it out and both Rachel and Julia were very patient with things. I don't want to take up too much of their private time but I think we all had fun.

I would, of course, ask you to consider purchasing the new issue on one of the five platforms we publish on. These are available through our website at The Campus Store. The links will be live as soon as we know them but for now, you can read about the new issue and perhaps catch up on the back issues you haven't read yet. And, while you're there, you can enroll at San Romero Community College and join our mailing list. It's always FREE!

Commercial over, I'll wrap up with my current book, Skylar, which isn't getting all the love it deserves. Maybe when things calm down I'll be able to get back to it. It is not that I haven't been thinking about it, though. My plan is to add a murder in the mix sooner than later in the story. But that doesn't make up for the lack of actually writing on it.

Next week, Paul, Trevor and I will be getting our second COVID shot on Tuesday, which might make Wednesday interesting if I have any sort of bad reaction but we'll see. I would encourage anyone who hasn't gotten vaccinated to do so as soon as possible.

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

Sunday, May 9, 2021

A Week in Writing #350 - Does it Feel Like Summer Yet?

Happy Mother's Day to all the writing mothers out there! Hope everyone is staying safe and, of course, writing.

Doesn't it feel like it should be summer already? I know it does for me. But there is still so much to be done before those days get here. Not sure, really, what difference there is going to be between this summer and last but I'm hopeful it will be better.

It seems like more and more time I spend on the business of writing. Not that I'm making any money at it, at least not yet, but it seems there are still things that have to be done. One of those is querying to get an agent. When last I wrote about this, I had five and no rejections. However, I think the time ran out on two of them, so I CNR'ed them. I saw this abbreviation in the comments on QueryTracker so I'm using them here. It means Closed No Response. Not even a doesn't fit my list email, just the gut feeling that the vague deadline they set on their websites has come and gone.

I did send out a new one on Thursday for Broken People, again using an online form. This form was just a space for me to enter the letter, a synopsis, and the first three chapters, as requested by the agency. Formatting be damned! It seems like the agency wants to get away from emails but hasn't quite made the leap to hire a third-party site like most of them seem to use. I do like the fact that I don't have to go into great details about marketing for the book or comparing mine to other books on the market. So, I guess there was a plus-side to it. I'll go through the same exercise on Thursday; my least favorite thing to do.

On to Powers Squared where it was a jumble of a week. ComiXology sent us a rejection (tentatively accepted) email on Tuesday, not so much for the content of the book but the formatting. They require a .pdf and said it had Aliasing issues. No, I had never heard of it before either. Their solution was for us to recreate the .pdfs and click on the "anti-alias" checkbox we had apparently "overlooked". I don't know about you but my version of Acrobat does not have an "anti-alias" checkbox and searching through the help only proved that my version, which is a standalone version, was no longer supported. Since we had never had the issue before and our process hadn't changed, I decided that perhaps we had submitted a reduced .pdf, so I sent them a full-bore version instead. Waiting to hear back on that one.

Paul and I had a meeting this week with the powers that be at Artithmeric, the British publish-on-demand/publisher for Powers Squared. We wanted to see what they had in mind for us in the future, as they have started doing Artithmeric Editions, and I mean they're still Kickstarting the first one for Dirk Brodey and we wanted to know if we were going to be a part of it.

Turns out we are, maybe sooner than later. Paul and I decided that, while we can't afford to go back through the first five issues and re-do the artwork, we might be able to take a second pass at the dialogue and maybe tone down some of the wordiness and perhaps sneak in some details that might be handy later on, meaning issues we've done since. Turns out that's about 108 pages of script, which I started going through this weekend. More to do. Not sure what copyright issues there will be but at least I know enough to ask about that.

Anyway, the idea would be to do a new Artithmeric Edition of the trade hardback using money raised on Kickstarter. What they really want to do is move into the European market with translated versions in Spanish, Italian, and French. Apparently, BDs, as they're called, are big sellers and who doesn't want to make money off their work? So with the English version they would use a French equivalent of Kickstarter to raise money for a French version, then use that money to crowdfund an Italian version and then Spanish, or some combination of those. Of course, we want in.

Paul and I discussed all of this on our podcast, On the Air with Powers Squared, which you can listen to by clicking the link. It's all of 10 minutes this week.

Speaking of week's it was May the Fourth Be with You all week on Trophy Unlocked, starting with Paul's review of Star Wars: Episode I - The Phantom Menace; Trevor's review of Star Wars Episode I: Racer (PS4) on Tuesday; Trevor's review of Star Wars: Episode II - Attack of the Clones on Wednesday. Thursday it was Trevor's Second Look - Star Wars: Clone Wars (2003); and on Friday, it was Paul's review of Star Wars: Episode III - Revenge of the Sith.

To really change things up, on Saturday, we posted my review of Straight Shooting, a silent Western. Made in 1917, it was John Ford's first film to direct.  I also started, and nearly finished, one for Two Seconds (1932). No date set for that one.

That gets us back to Skylar and, yes, there was some progress made on that and more to come I assure you. I am to a part that I will actually be doing more re-write/writing as opposed to editing so I am excited about that.

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

Sunday, May 2, 2021

A Week in Writing #349 - Trying to Find the Time

I don't know if you ever have weeks like this but there is more to do than time permits. It seems like every week is a study in compromise. And there is a certain unpredictability about working on a comic book that just adds to the stress. Pages show up whenever they're ready and that means they need to be looked at and feedback given and then relooked at when the changes are made. I'm not saying it's a difficult process but just time-demanding and time-consuming.

I'm pretty used to Powers Squared being the main activity many weeks but some weeks it takes up more time than others. That's not to mention prepping for the show on Friday, social media posts, updating the website, posting the video. This week, we had the added step of putting out our now monthly newsletter, The Hound Dogs' Howl. A lot of it is rote by now but there is always a creative twins story that has to be researched and written, a peek-of-the-week to decide on, and test emails to make sure the links all work.

This week, Paul and I are going to have a zoom call with one of our on-demand printers. We want to talk to them about the future and how we're going to get there together or separately. We need everyone's help to make this a going enterprise.

I did write a new review this week. Another Saturday night clean out the DVR film, The Wagons Roll at Night (1941). While the title may sound like a Western, it's about a carnival. The reason for recording and watching the film is Humphrey Bogart. Not sure when it will appear. Probably no time soon. My review of The Secret Bride went up on Trophy Unlocked on Saturday morning and Paul's review of the video game Minit went up on Wednesday. Next week, it's going to be solid Star Wars films and video games, so I'll be reporting back on those reviews next week.

No new queries this week. I've got the five out and I sort of ran out of time on Thursday when I usually send one. See how it relates back to the subject of this review? I'm pretty sure by now one of them has expired even though I've heard nothing back from any of them. But as I've written, nothing means no these days.

Skylar, as always it seems, takes a backseat to everything else. I try to work on it at least a couple of days a week but two is about as many as I get to it. I'm reworking some of the plot and, of course, other things along the way.

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