Sunday, January 30, 2022

A Week in Writing #389 - Meeting Other Creatives

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

One of my favorite things about doing our weekly podcast is when we can engage other comic book creators and share stories and ideas. We had that opportunity this past Friday, when we interviewed Don Nguyen, a comic book artist and creator that we had met several years ago. I think it was through Instagram but he was pretty sure that it was as far back as one of the Comic Creator Connections we had attended at San Diego Comic-Con before finding our first artist. You, of course, are invited to give the show a listen at

While we're on the subject of Powers Squared, still in the dark on some things regarding our pending Kickstarter. It's supposed to be at the end of February but I'm not sure what exactly we need to deliver as part of it. As I learn more, I will, of course, relate it here.

We did receive thumbnails for the final pages and the cover of  Issue #20 this week from our artist this week but that's about the extent of the activity of the actual book. These things come in waves, so there's nothing out of the ordinary.

I did do some work on the pilot script for Powers Squared, finally using the correct format in Final Draft. Making progress, but it is sort of slow going for me as this is sort of uncharted territory for my writing. I did take scriptwriting in college and grad school but it isn't something I've done for quite a while. When I did study it, there was nothing like Final Draft out there, just tabs on the typewriter.

Wrote a new review this week for Trophy Unlocked, The Egg and I (1947). As always, not sure when it will appear. This past Saturday Morning Review was Paul's review of Encanto and the short film that accompanied it, Far From the Tree. Our Game Day review was also Paul's Shantae: Half-Genie Hero.

With my new query letter, I was able to more easily send a new one out this past week. So now I have three out there this year with the clock, of course, running on them. I'll keep at it and will let you know if anything ever pops.

Writing on fka Skylar continues, though it seems like it's more like a thousand words a week, as the count is currently up to 25,814 with this draft. I know I need to do better.

Well, that seems to be about all from me. Keep writing and I'll see you again next week.

Sunday, January 23, 2022

A Week in Writing #388 - More on Query Letters

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

I spent a good part of yesterday afternoon working on my least favorite writing activity, the query. It was prompted by an email from someone I had connected with, I believe, through one of the Writer's Digest Novel Writing Conferences (see, those do pay off). The email provided a fairly easy template for what should be in a query letter.

Since I try to educate where I can, and since it was sent free of charge to me, I'll pass on the magic:

  • Query letters are read by interns who are trained to delete most of the hundreds of queries they get a day. Only if nothing stops them do they take the time to think about asking for a closer look at your book.
  • Your query letter must be SHORT, at most 350 words. Your query is only to whet the appetite and get your book’s actual pages into the agent’s hands.
  • Copy this format! Don’t reinvent the wheel.
  • 1st paragraph – if you don’t have a STRONG connection with the agent (we met in New Orleans when we shared a cab to the airport), don’t bother buttering her up with what clients she represents that you like. It’s not necessary, and they don’t care that you like their other clients. Your first sentence should include genre, title and length. Allow the intern to delete it right away if she knows you’re not selling what the agent is looking for.
  • Second paragraph: Short blurb.
  • Third paragraph: Bio – don’t add more than what is strictly relevant to this agent. They don’t care that you have an MBA unless that directly relates to this book, or that you’re on any special committees. They do care about relevant degrees, relevant awards, and any publishing credit (be judicious about self-publishing credit. Unless you’ve sold a hell of a lot of books on your own, best to leave it out and bring it up later, when they’re dying to represent your book).
  • Don’t pitch more than one book, even if this one is in a series. Instead, if it is a series, simply say at the end of the first paragraph, “This is a standalone novel with series potential.”
  • Do use the closing verbiage word for word. Their time is valuable, and “All best,” is a little secret handshake that shows you know the business. (Never “All the best” – no one knows why.)
  • If you’re not getting at least a 5-10% request rate (partial or full), something is probably wrong with your query letter. Get a second opinion.

I rewrote mine based on this but I have not trotted it out so to speak. I will be doing that later this week.

In the email, the suggestion was to visit to look for possible agents. I did this and found 99 agents who say, or who at least the website interprets, to handle the genre. Of those, about 40% were duplicates of ones that I had previously found using Querytracker and MSWL. That left me with 61 new agents to add, which sounds pretty good. But, wait, the number is a little lower as about a third of those (17 to be exact) say they are not open to queries at this time. Still, I'm 44 names up on agents to try, so I would say it was a productive afternoon.

On the subject of queries, I did send one out on Thursday, which makes two for this year. And, no, no response so far.

Since we're on the subject of my nascent Crime fiction writing career, I did do some more work on fka Skylar. I'm up to 24,564 words, and, yes I know that's not 1000 words a day, which is a goal, not a reality.

Changing the subject, our artist on Powers Squared came down with COVID recently and appears to be making a full recovery, so that's good news. She still managed, even though I stressed she didn't need to, sent up inks for pages 13-16 for Issue #20.

My son Trevor was our guest on our podcast On the Air with Powers SquaredIt's a relatively short podcast this week, as there isn't all that much difference between lettering Issue #19 and the other 18. I just wanted to complete the circle and talk to all of the creatives involved with the issue, of which he is an important one.

I worked on a new review this weekend, You Can't Get Away with Murder (1939), a B-film that the lead, Humphrey Bogart, wasn't able to raise above middling fair. You'll have to wait to read my review, again, I don't know when.

On the subject of Trophy Unlocked, this past Wednesday, the review was Paul's for the video game Shantae and the Pirate's Curse for the Switch. Saturday morning, was his review of Lupin III: The Castle of Cagliostro, a sort of companion piece to my review last week of Arsene Lupin.

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

Sunday, January 16, 2022

A Week in Writing #387 - So Much to Do

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

Drum roll. Wait for it. Yes, I did send a new query this week, my first of the year. I've stopped waiting for the others, so I'm 1 for the year and no rejections. I rewrote the query letter to meet the qualifications of what the agent was looking for, and, of course, no way to know if I met that bar or not. But the important thing I did it.

I also tried to widen my net by looking for agents on a different website than just using QueryTracker, though nothing against that one in particular. I used MSWL since some agents didn't have websites. While I did find some, including the agent I queried, I would say a high percentage of agents who were not open to queries. Maybe that's why they weren't on Query Tracker.

Had a meeting on Saturday about the Kickstarter. We hired a consultant to help with things and it was our first opportunity to talk with her and Artithermic. I think it went well but there's still so much more to do, hence the subtitle.

Our colorist finished the chibis I commissioned and I'm thinking they would make either cute t-shirts or posters, we'll see how Artithmeric feels about them. It is their Kickstarter, after all.

I need to come up with bios on the creative team and so far, only the second colorist has been radio silent. I've reached out to her through email and Linkedin and no response, at least not so far.

There are other things we've talked about like page layout, etc. which will be a little outside of my control, but I think the meeting was good.

Worked some more on the Pilot outline, though I believe there is still work to do on it. This is more of an exercise so I can be ready.

Work continues on the current issues as well, with new pages from our artist and new pages from our colorist. We had Julia on our podcast, On the Air with Powers Squared, to discuss her work on Issue #19, Kamaitachi. Always enjoy speaking with our creative team.

Did some work on fka Skylar this week, though it never seems to be enough. Word count is up to 23,416, though it should be higher. I had a really good idea though that I'm looking forward to using. It really has more to do with the subplot but it is something I heard about on the news that I think will work. Looking forward to getting to it.

My review of Arsène Lupin (1932) was Trophy Unlocked's Saturday Morning Review. A live-action film, based on the same story that would be the source of the Lupin III manga and anime shows. Not sure when I wrote it, but it was recently. On Wednesday, GameDay, it was Paul's review of Shantae: Risky's Revenge - Director's Cut for the Switch.  I started a new review for Mata Hari (1931) but I'm still working on it.

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

Sunday, January 9, 2022

A Week in Writing #386 - One Week at a Time

Hope everyone is staying safe, has been boosted, and is, of course, writing.

Welcome to the working week, at least for me. With the holidays over, it was back to the 8 to 5 world, and writing gets put on the back burner, that is in the wee hours after dinner and before going to bed. Oh, how I wish the 8 to 5 was spent on writing.

I get a little mad at myself when I don't use all the hours I can to write. Sometimes, like today, there is a feeling of ennui and you look up and most of the afternoon has gone. Oh, I got some things done in the morning, posting a film's anniversary post on Twitter for Trophy Unlocked; picking and posting a new peek-of-the-week for Powers Squared; uploading the next video to YouTube, and setting up some social media posts to run next week, but then not much. But all of this, I look at as the business side of writing, not actual writing itself.

So, what did I do this week?

I continued working on Skylar (no longer the name) finishing a couple of chapters. I like ending chapters on a page-turner, or at least a question that needs to be answered, and I managed that on both of the chapters I finished during the week. We should probably log my word count, currently, this version is up to 22,646. Please don't apply the 1000 words a day and I think I'll be at near 30,000 next week. That would be great, but the 1000 words covers a lot of sins, so to speak.

As an example, after watching The Cat's Meow, I wrote nearly 3000 words on it for Trophy Unlocked. We watched the movie in honor of the director Peter Bogdanovich's passing. It seems this year has gotten off to a bumpy start with so many Hollywood players dying recently. As always, I'm not sure when this will run but I like having gotten it done within 24 hours of watching the film.

On the subject of Trophy Unlocked, the blog is starting a salute to the Shantae game series, with Paul's review of the first game appearing on Wednesday. The Saturday morning review was Paul's of Puella Magi Madoka Magica the Movie: Rebellion, a rather odd bit of anime (my opinion) that we watched recently.

I also worked this week on an outline for a pilot episode for our proposed Powers Squared animated series. Paul is the family expert in writing animation and I'm trying to learn from him. I finished a version on Thursday night but I'd like to take another look at it before showing it to him.

On the subject of Powers Squared, we made our first podcast of the year with a team meeting, including the creatives we work with; Rachel Wells, Julia Canon, and Trevor joining Paul and me on the show. I really enjoy talking with Rachel and Julia since otherwise the communication is limited to emails, text messages, and DMs on Discord. We also got the skinny on another project Rachel is working on which is currently on Indiegogo, Commander in ChefShe's been rather hush-hush about it up until now. (You are under no obligation to fund it, please wait instead for our Kickstarter coming in a couple of months.) And yes, I will be hyping it here, so no need to worry that you've missed it or anything.

So, for next week it promises to be more of the same. I'll finish my version of the outline, continue to work on fka Skylar and, yes, wait for it, send out the first query of the year. And who knows, maybe one of them will write back this time.

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

Sunday, January 2, 2022

A Week in Writing #385 - Happy New Year

Hope everyone had a happy and safe New Year's celebration and that, of course, you've been writing.

Tell me if this has ever happened to you. A couple of days ago, I was lying in bed in that half-awake state and a bunch of dialogue for the book I'm writing came to me. It sounded so good to me at the time and gave the story a different slant. Too bad, I didn't have a chance to get up right then and there and write it out. I guess I thought it would stay with me. Well, tonight, I finally had the opportunity to put it down and it's not quite as good as I remembered it being. I figured it's better than it was and hopefully, I can make it better when I get to edit. I don't think I'm alone on this.

I've been able to do some writing during the holidays but it's also been a time to hang with family so sometimes other things have taken priority and some nights, I didn't do much.

That doesn't mean I haven't been doing anything. I've been trying to do some work on the upcoming Kickstarter, trying out some ideas for title and credits pages. Still a work in progress. In addition, had a conversation with our colorist on some chibis I've asked her to do. Again, still a work in progress.

It sort of seems that Powers Squared has taken a holiday break as, besides four colored pages and a cover, there hasn't been anything new to look at for a while. I'm sure things will get back on track in the new year.

Trophy Unlocked celebrated a milestone this past Saturday, as Paul's review of  The 25th Ward: The Silver Case was the 1300th one on the blog. Quite an accomplishment when you think about it. On New Year's Eve, we posted our end-of-the-year lists, with each of us, Paul, Trevor, and myself doing our own lists. Theirs also include video games which I don't have time to play. Even though it's the holiday season, Wednesday is still game day on Trophy Unlocked, with Paul's review of Octodad: Dadliest Catch.

I did complete a new review of To Be or Not to Be, the 1942 film starring Jack Benny and Carole Lombard in her final film. As with most of my reviews, I don't know when it will post. I also prepped some Christmas-themed reviews for the blog, which again, I don't know when they'll appear. I already think we have a backlog of Christmas/holiday films as it is. I've also been discovering that our drive-by definition for Christmas films (if it happens at the holiday it's a Christmas film), seems to be more common as TCM showed a lot of "Christmas" films this past month that had only a tangential connection to the holiday.

I'm not sure when but next month I'll be getting back to the joys of querying and I'll update you on that when it happens. I think the first week back to work probably isn't any better for agents than it is for me returning to work.

I guess I should say something about my goals for the new year, as this is the first post of 2022. Of course, I want to find an agent, a process I hate but it seems like the best way to get published. With Powers Squared more issues, a successful Kickstarter, and the chance to pitch the book as a series. I'm also hoping to continue to grow our mailing list and subscribers to our podcast OAPS. And, of course, keep writing this weekly missive with hopefully really cool news to report on all things above.

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