Sunday, September 26, 2021

A Week in Writing #371 - The Week That Wasn't

Hope everyone is well, staying safe, and, of course, writing.

Every Sunday when I sit down to write this post, I like to look back on what I did during the week. Just so you know, I'm doing this as much for myself as I am for you, dear reader. I like to think this is a way for me to stay true to my goal of writing and trying to make a living out of it.

Well, this is one of those weeks when I look back in horror and the evidence of my writing is hard to find. I know I sat down at this little laptop every night, but what I have to show for it seems less than normal.

Now, let me start with the excuses. Saturday was my birthday, and I know what you're thinking, great, a day to do what you want and, of course, writing would be right there at the top of those things. Well, it didn't quite work out that way this year. Instead, I scheduled someone from AT&T to come and upgrade our wifi to fiber optics and our speed along with it. It wasn't like I was going to go anywhere and it seemed like the best time to do it. But even though he was here for about two and a half hours, it sort of took the guts out of the day. We had to move things to give him access and then there's the fun of putting it back.

After we got around to the celebratory dinner, Chinese food, and watching The Maltese Falcon, I wasn't good for much, though I did manage to work on the review I've been working on since last weekend, The Adventures of Prince Achmed, though I'm still not done with it yet; I mean it was one of those weeks.

The only thing I can remember really working on was Powers Squared and even then, it wasn't much. Oh, there was the usual looking at thumbnails and giving comments, but that really only shot a hole in one evening. The rest of the time, I was working on a one-sheet for our Pitch Deck. It was harder than I would have thought to try to get it down to one page. In fact, it took four nights but I sort of think I managed. Still waiting for feedback, so I'm sure I'm not done, and then it's on to a shortened pitch, like 3 to 5 pages, before a full-length one.

While we're on the subject of Powers Squared, Issue #12 "What's in a Name? Part 3" finally drops on Wednesday on ComiXology. I'm still glad we went ahead and released it, no reason to wait for them, but if you've been waiting for that release of the issue, check out the link on our website:

As it turns out, even though I didn't finish a new review, an older one of mine was Trophy Unlocked's Saturday Morning Review: Batman: The Dark Knight Returns Part 1 and 2. Coincidentally, Part One came out on that day, my birthday, back in 2012. Wednesday's GameDay review was Paul's review of Deltarune Chapter 2.

So, there's nothing new to report on Skylar this week and no new queries, but that should hopefully change next week. I'm going to make more of an effort to get more done.

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

Sunday, September 19, 2021

A Week in Writing #370 - New Issue Release and First Signing in 2 years

Hope everyone is staying safe and, of course, writing.

This was a big week, and a busy one, for Powers Squared. It's one thing to watch presentations on building a brand and quite another to actually build one. Nothing shows you how far you have to go when you release a new issue and do a signing.

Despite our best efforts, which included a notice on the store's Facebook page, a story on a comic news website, a good review of the last issue, and my own social media mentions, including a Facebook ad,  the turnout was somewhat light at Golden Apple yesterday afternoon.

I would call it a disappointment because I think we had a good time but you'd always like to make sales and sign up new people to your mailing list. We did do some of the former but sadly, at least so far, none of the latter. There were people who seemed interested but the only person who signed the mailing list was someone who was already on it.

That person happened to be a former teacher that Paul and Trevor had in middle school. She had an appointment in Hollywood that day and dropped by the say hello and to purchase not only the graphic novel but also issues 6 and 7. She was our biggest customer. That does show that the connections you make can last a lifetime. We were very surprised that she showed up and we do appreciate her support.

We were also very happy to have our current colorist, Julia Canon, join us for this signing. She normally works on Saturdays but arranged to be off. It was my first time to actually meet her mask-to-mask. I really appreciate her support on social media.

Her work, however, wasn't really on display. We had just released Issue #12 and she didn't start until Issue #13. She had completed some work on a new back cover for an upcoming Kickstarter, which she finished on Thursday night. I decided to print some up on better paper at home so she'd have something of her own to sign. We didn't charge for those, but it was something extra we could provide. She also did a really cute drawing of Mocha, one of the comic book's main characters. You can see this image and photographs from the signing on our events page.

It's safe to say that the new issue dropping, prepping for the signing, as well as our Friday night OAPS, which featured Tina Cesa Ward from Delegates, left little time for much else in the way of writing. No new queries, which shouldn't come as a surprise.

Surprisingly, though, I did work on Skylar pretty much every night during the week, but I didn't finish the review I was working on.

Thankfully, Trophy Unlocked is not dependent on me for reviews. Saturday Morning's review was in the spirit of Batman Day, as well as the blog's month-long salute to the Caped Crusader, Paul's Second Look - Batman: Arkham Asylum. On Wednesday, it was another game review, Trevor's The Pathless. Trevor's review of Straight Outta Nowhere: Scooby-Doo! Meets Courage the Cowardly Dog, the film we watched on Friday night, appeared on the blog this morning.

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

Sunday, September 12, 2021

A Week in Writing #369 - Report From the Front - Lightbox Expo 2021

Hope everyone is staying safe, getting vaccinated, and, of course, writing.

Before I get too far, I do want to remind you, dear reader, that I do have a book coming out. Powers Squared Issue 12, What's in a Name? Part 3, drops on Wednesday, September 15th. If you want to buy a copy, and, of course, I hope you do, check out our website for links on Wednesday, September 15th.

Now that the commercial is out of the way, on with the rest of the blog.

From time to time, when I attend a convention or in this case, Expo, I like to let you know what I learned. This Friday, I attended the 2021 Lightbox Expo, a virtual event this year. While my sons have been attending Lightbox since its inception in 2019, this year I attended. My goal was to learn more about pitching, which is something I've talked about from time to time in this blog.

There were three different sessions on Friday dealing with pitching: HOW TO PITCH NELVANA with Athena Georgaklis – Head of Development and Marc Hartlen – Development Coordinator; DEVELOPING WITH DISNEY TVA with creative directors Emily Carson (Manager of Development – Disney Channel and Disney +; and Kitty Walsh (Director of Development) – Disney Kids; and METHODS FOR PITCHING WITH BENTO BOX ENTERTAINMENT with Ben Jones – Creative Director, Brooke Keesling – Head Animation Talent, and Chloe Shipco -Development Coordinator.

It was interesting how similar the Nelvana and the Disney Television Animation presentations were in that they seemed to cover many of the same points. Bento Box was a little less organized, scattered and their advice on pitch packets differed greatly from the other two's.

Some of the advice repeats but this is what I came away from the presentations:

While all would prefer for you to have representation before approaching them, only Bento Box won't talk to you without having representation.

The initial pitch packet does not have to be your Production Bible, but rather something short, 3 to 5 pages per Disney and while Nelvana didn't specify a length, they did say short. Only Bento Box, which showed one that Jones had himself done, seemed to be 10 to 15 pages long.

While Bento didn't discuss the length of the meeting, the other two made it clear that you would have 10 to 15 minutes to pitch your idea. Apparently, the usual pitch meeting is about half an hour. The first five minutes are introductory, followed by the pitch, then five minutes for questions, and then five minutes of goodbyes.

Both made it clear that you should rehearse your pitch before you give it. Nelvana acknowledged that you still might be nervous, but they want you to succeed.

Nelvana's advice:

1)  Decide who to bring to the pitch. People in the pitch are there for a reason.

2) Don’t pitch too many ideas at once. No more than two.

3) Pitch should be 10-15 minutes, you may get 30 minutes total.

4) Send creative materials as soon as possible but realize they might not get to it right away. Okay to nudge in a couple of weeks to a month.

5) Take feedback if they give it. But don’t be surprised if there is no feedback. They are very busy.

Disney's advice was more along the lines of their own story pillars. (My apologies if you're wanting to pitch a pre-school show to them, since I wasn't, I didn't really take notes when Kitty Walsh went over what Disney Kids was looking for.)

1) Know your audience: Children are less shielded than in years past. They want to have access to opportunity and empowerment.

2) Certain stories always resonate: Stories about Families, Fish out of water, With great powers come great responsibilities, etc.

3) Disney +'s audience: Kids + Parents, parents without children, looking for appointment viewing.

4) Comedy with Heart: If it’s not funny it’s not going to work; sophisticated comedy, not mean-spirited.

5) Kids like to see themselves in the stories. Diversity was played up but not just race and gender; can be other aspects including neurodiversity, relatable and inspiring characters and worlds.

6) Fantastical Wish Fulfillment: Not just Disney magic, they want stories that matter.

Disney seemed to emphasize know what your story is really about.

What Disney is looking for:

What is your creative vision: What is your show really about: themes, etc.

Visual Development

Characters and Relationships

Original Stories – Not Disney stories

The Pitch Bible should be 3-5 pages in length and include:


Episode premises: a variety of shows that show emotional range

Character Descriptions: Main Characters and relationships


Since the pitch will be a ZOOM call, they recommend a tech rehearsal and to have a backup plan.

Introduce Yourself

Have a visual aid

Do your homework: Will your show fit? Does it already exist on another channel?

Lead with your personal story: Why are you the one telling the story?


Don't come in with consumer product plans - that will come later.

Leave Behinds – Go Digital

Be Patient – Okay to F/U but they have 70 shows in development at any one time. Keep at it. They are only interested in about 1 out of 100 pitches.

How does one go about pitching? Do Not Send Unsolicited pitches.

Reach out through Representation or set up a general meeting. This is advice all three presentations agreed on, again Bento Box was the only one who won't talk to you without representation.

Disney expects you to drive your pitch through the process of Greenlighting a pilot, which can take 2 to 5 years. And there is no guarantee even if you get to pilot it will become a show. Yes, it sounds like an impossible hill to climb.

They also recommended if the answer is "no" to take it graciously and not "fight" it. There will be other pitches. It's about making connections if nothing else.

Bento Box seemed to have a long view in mind, as in you're just out of school and trying to build a career that will someday lead to your having the opportunity to make a pitch. Not great advice if you're many years out of school and are not willing to wait for 7 to 8 years to make a pitch you have now.

I also attended a presentation that was titled HOW TO GROW AN ONLINE FOLLOWING, hosted by artist Phil Saunders. The actual presentation was really more about how to use your online presence to drive people back to your website and to subscribe to your newsletter. He used a lot of Venn Diagrams to illustrate the desired Flow of Content, which is something I can not recreate here.

He said that creatives have three goals: the need to create, the need for validation, and the need to make money and in his Venn diagrams there are places where the circles overlap.

Saunders is someone with a large social following but even he knows that doesn't mean much when it comes to selling his work. As an example, you might have a 500,000 following. Out of that group, maybe 30,000 would see a particular post but only a few hundred might click on the profile and even fewer will go to the website. A rule of thumb he used was that if 10 people like something, only one will buy it.

He also made the point the goal is to get subscribers to your newsletter. These are people that are more invested in your work. Social media platforms will come and go but people's email addresses rarely change and the fact they've given you an in means they're more interested in your work than someone on say Instagram.

Paul, Trevor, and I did an On the Air with Powers Squared about our experience at the online con, which includes their experience with other presentations, so it might be worth a listen. You can catch it here.

Part of the weekend was spent getting ready for our signing at Golden Apple Comics on the 18th. We have all the issues we need, we think but it's also the peripherals like signage and handouts and on and on. Got a bit of good news: our colorist, Julia Canon, will be going with us. I want her to feel a part of the group even though we're not selling any issues she's worked on just yet.

There are also pages to look at during the week from our artist, Rachel Wells with a few changes along the way. Issue 19, Kamaitachi, is really going to look different than our other issues.

I started a new review this weekend for The Adventures of Prince Achmed (1926), a silent animated film from Germany, but I didn't get that far as of this writing. While we're talking Trophy Unlocked, this week's Saturday morning review continued our month-long salute to the caped crusader with Paul's review of Batman: Gotham Knight. Game Day Wednesday featured Paul's review of No More Heroes III.

No new queries this week. I have my desired amount out, five, and besides, I had to watch my team, the Dallas Cowboys, lose their opener so time was tighter than normal; you've got to have your priorities.

Did a little work on Skylar, and by a little, I mean a little. Some things get the short shrift and my novel seems to be what gets it. But I did work on it and that's the important thing. It may only be a few minutes a day but I do try to get to it whenever I can.

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

Sunday, September 5, 2021

A Week in Writing #368 - Happy Seven Years

Hope everyone is staying safe, getting vaccinated, and, of course, writing.

Happy 7th Anniversary. Traditionally that would be copper or wool; now it would be Desk Sets, or a Pen and Pencil Sets. The latter doesn't seem all that modern anymore, does it?

I've been writing this blog since September 1, 2014, which seems like ages ago. Everything seems longer ago in the COVID age we live in. It's hard sometimes to imagine life before lockdowns, masks, social distancing, and vaccines. Life without masks seems like a million years ago.

I'll be honest, I'm not always up for writing this every Sunday but that's part of having a routine. You may not always feel like doing it but it's the thing you do. And like it or not, this is something I do. I started this to keep myself honest about writing. If I'm going to blog about what I've done, I've got to do something. Believe it or not, sometimes that is the motivation to write during the week. I feel bad if I write I'm going to do something and I don't do it. You may not care or not, but I feel like I'm making a promise to you and if I don't do it, I'm breaking it.

Case in point, this past Thursday, I made a point of sending out my fifth query, partly because I need to and partly because I wrote that I would. I know I don't keep every promise I make but I do try to be honest here so I'm being honest with myself. Hopefully, that makes sense.

I've tried over the past seven years to share what I learn with you as well. I'm not talking about the ups and downs of my writing life as much as when I attend a conference about writing, I try to share. I figure that's the least I can do. If you're willing to read my missives then I should try to provide information that might be useful.

On that subject, I'm going to virtually attend LightBox starting on Friday. I'm looking for information on pitching and growing audiences, so I'll be sure to pass on that to you next week. Obviously, I don't know the secret sauce of either.

With the BD coming up and the usual work on an issue, Powers Squared has been keeping me pretty busy. A lot of that has been reviewing the work of others, this week our colorist, but I think it's paying off. We're doing the BD (which stands for a French word for what we might call a trade paperback or trade hardback) for one of our on-demand publishers, Artithmeric. They're going to do a Kickstarter to raise money to try and have our book translated so it can be sold in Europe.

Paul and I worked on rewriting some of the dialogue in an effort to improve it. Trevor has finished re-lettering all but a handful of pages as a result. It's really the artwork we can't change but we have worked on a new cover and back cover for the book. So far so good.

We also have a new issue dropping on September 15th and then we're doing a signing on the 18th, which I know I've mentioned before but here it goes again. My sons and I, and hopefully our current colorist, Julia Canon, will be at Golden Apple Comics in Los Angeles on Saturday the 18th from 1 to 3. We'll have all the issues plus some extras so I'm hoping if you're in the area you will drop by and say hi. If you tell me you read about it here, I'll try to do something special for you.

On other writing, I did some work on the Skylar manuscript several days this week but I'm still going back through what I've written so far. I am making changes and there are more to come, but I think I've sort of mapped it out in my head, just not on paper yet.

As far as reviews go, I did complete the review for Mystery of the Wax Museum, which I believe will see the light of day in October during our usual horror month. I also wrote a new review of Picture Snatcher (1933), which may not get published for a while but at least it's done. Trevor's review of Batman Forver (1995) was this past Saturday's Morning Review and his review of Ghost of Tsushima Director's Cut for the PS5 went up on Wednesday morning.

I would be remiss not to thank my son Paul, who has been a willing editor on this blog since its inception. This wouldn't be near as good without his help.

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