Sunday, July 31, 2022

A Week in Writing #415 - Getting Back into the Swing

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

I don't know about you but my life seems like one long routine. By that, I mean there are days when I'm supposed to do something, like Sundays this blog. Once that routine gets disrupted, it is sometimes hard to get back into it. Holidays, family events, and Comic-Con are all things that throw off your schedule for good and for bad, and finding that groove again is sometimes hard.

I still managed the basics, including my new query on Thursday. This time I actually re-queried someone I had previously queried three years ago with a different version of Broken People. I wonder if they'll remember. While I know what you're thinking, they must have gotten thousands in the past three years, I've been surprised before. Agents might not be good at things like getting back to you on queries but they sometimes keep track of stories they've rejected.

I also fiddled about with fka Skylar this week. I guess I should come up with a better title since Skylar is now called Lillie. I'm going through now trying to do a better job of connecting the two stories together. My main character, J.D. Barrister, is handling a case for a neighbor, Lillie, who is being trafficked by her former drug dealer to pay off a debt, and his presumed future father-in-law wants him to work on a case involving a tontine that his father-in-law signed after World War II. Originally, I had Skylar being that neighbor and, while she had the same issue with her former drug dealer, it was her father who had signed the tontine.

Not much to report about Powers Squared this week. No new pages from either the artist or the colorist, though I've been promised pages are coming. I did take a second look at a future script for the book. I didn't realize that the last time I had looked at it was a year ago but I wanted to make some changes and one change led to several others. Not sure it's the final form but I'm thinking it's getting close.

We tried a new sort of episode for On the Air with Powers Squared, a comic book club. All five of us read Spy x Family by Tatsuya Endo. I know it's a manga but that was the title we settled on. You can listen to it now or watch it on Wednesday when it hits YouTube. We're going to do the next one in September, this time it's going to be Blacksad by Juan Díaz Canales, so read ahead and join us.

I'm currently reading a graphic novel The Fade Out by Ed Brubaker but I don't think we'll all be reading that for the show.

I wrote one review this week, which went up on Saturday Morning on Trophy Unlocked, Thor: Love and Thunder, which while still out in theaters has been there for a couple of weeks. As part of the celebration of my wedding anniversary, the four of us went to a 10:30 am showing. It was almost like a private screening, which was the point. In the anniversary spirit, I started to review Bull Durham which was the film on our first date. Not sure when I'll get that finished and when it will appear.

The Wednesday Game Day review was Trevor's review of Lucky's Tale (PS VR).

I feel like this is a bit short, but I think that's about all from me. Keep writing and I'll see you next week.

Monday, July 25, 2022

A Week in Writing #414 - Report from the Front: SDCC 2022


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

Sorry this is a day late but it takes a day or so to absorb and process everything. San Diego Comic-Con is over-stimulation for everyone. As someone told me it's like multiple conventions going on at once with comic books, film, television, gaming, books, collecting and other things in between all being covered somewhere, and, all at once. There is really no way to do everything as plans are often eschewed or ruined by events.

There is a lot of walking involved, so it's not for tenderfoots. For the four days and preview night we were there, I must have walked 86,429 steps per my Fitbit, an average of 17,285 per day while the previous week I averaged about 9,317. Your mileage may vary of course but combine that with a lack of sleep and it can be a tiring experience. 

People go to the convention for a spectrum of purposes, from geeking-out fandom on one end to trying to learn and share about their craft on the other. We fall in somewhere in between in my family and, sometimes attend very different panels and events. My intentions are to mix the two but the results, sadly are mixed.

I attended what I thought were professional panels about How to Get Press Coverage. Enamel pens, Help I'm Lost in a Sea of Content, and How to be a One-person Comic Book Company. I had intended to also attend one on Kickstarters but, for reasons I'll get into, I did not.

Blame Ozzy Osbourne for my missing the latter panel. Apparently, he is releasing a new album Patient #9 and got Todd McFarlane to do the artwork. The two of them were to do a noon time and 1:10 pm signing of a poster (no size indicated) at Stern Pinball's booth (?). I thought I was safe to attend the first and make the Kickstarter panel. 

Did I mention that you not only had to win a lottery to gain admittance but you also had to arrive at the Convention Center before the doors open (6:30 to 9) and stand in line to claim a wristband (both times had the same color). But, no, that's not enough. As with every event at SDCC, you have to arrive early, which I did, getting in line sometime soon after 11 am. I was already in the third curve of the line which snaked out from the wall into the floor of the convention center, where I stood backpack on my back and holding a poster tube in anticipation. 

And, even then, that wasn't enough, as you had to get a ticket to redeem for the poster. That doesn't even get to the rules involved: No photographs, no video, no interaction. As if you were on a conveyor belt get your poster and keep moving. While I am not a huge fan of Ozzy, I had seen Black Sabbath on their final tour. The rest of my family had signed up for the 1:10 signing which while I'm standing in line seemed like an afterthought to the organizers as they didn't seem to know where people should line up for that. 

As if that weren't bad enough, 12 o'clock comes and goes and we don't move an inch. Sometime around 12:15 Ozzy shows up. I know, big star and I'm only a peon but there is such a thing as respecting other people's time and the effect you have on them, especially at a place like SDCC. Now, the professional might have gotten out of line to attend the Kickstarter panel, the father in me wanted to make sure we got one, as others are bigger fans. 

They take us 10 at a time over to where the Prince of  Darkness is waiting. The closest thing I can compare it to is a freak show (not that I'm calling him a freak) but the experience was somewhat similar There is no interaction or eye contact and by the time you've seen him, they're already hurrying you through the line, with an attendant handing you a pre-autographed poster. And as soon as you have that, they cut the wristband off of you and send you on your way with a stiff 11 X 17 poster into the wilds of SDCC. 

There appear to be four autographs on the poster. Ozzy's, McFarlane's and a couple of randos who I'm sure are crucial to the process but unidentified. I'm sorry to say I don't know what Todd McFarlane looks like so he might have been there; another man sat across the table from us but there was no time to see who he was and there were no introductions made.

I wasn't even sure what time it was but I knew I couldn't keep this in any sort of quality condition as is. I saw one of my sons, Trevor, in line for the next signing and told him I was going to look for a top loader for the poster. Artist Alley was nearby but none of the art supplies there sold them. The only place I knew of was somewhere on the other side of the floor. I'm trying to contact my family using my phone with one hand as I feared putting the poster down. Others were aware and wanted to see it. One guy offering me $10 for it. I countered with $1000 and the negotiations stopped.

Finally, find Hot Flips in the 1200s buy two top loaders and head back to where I had last seen Trevor. However, by then his line had moved and been capped, without him and Paul, who had also arrived for the line and sent him on to another signing. With the 1:10 signing in doubt, we go to eat while things are sorted out. 

Long story short, all three, Paul, Trevor and my wife, Nancy, all managed to get through and get their posters, though none were signed by Todd MacFarlane, adding insult to injury. Given the experience the booth could have given the posters away instead of trooping people by him. 

Rant over, several of the panels that I thought might help me didn't really address anything that would help me in the long run. I had thought about turning some of the artwork for Powers Squared into enamel pins. Well, the panel Enamel Pins: Creating Collectibles, held promise, it was more about those who make them and do it as a side gig. I already have a side gig and there are already people who make custom enamel pins so while I listened I don't think this was right for me.

Neither was the How to Be A One Person Comic Book Company. While it is certainly possible and the guy leading the panel was making a living doing it, his presentation was more about the software you'd need to have in place to pull it off. While 3-D modeling has it place and with three batches of software, you can make them talk, it would be a much different look than what Powers Squared looks like and I don't know about you, I'd rather write than learn how to make iClone 7 work with Poser and Blender.

Also, I enjoy the collaborative nature of putting together the books. Writing with Paul, and watching Rachel Wells put together the visuals and Julia Canon's coloring add to the enjoyment. Oftentimes, Rachel will come up with something we hadn't thought about for the visuals. I would think being the one person who does it all would be the end of all of that.

While the title Help I'm Lost in a Sea of Content seemed to address my world, the panel really didn't. The panelists were involved in other aspects of content, clothing, reporting, and streaming they really didn't offer anything that turned the lightbulb on, "if only I did this" sort of thing. I did learn that reactive videos are a thing, as if people had the time to watch someone else watching something. I know I don't.

The first panel I attended, How to Get News Coverage was probably the most helpful. I had attended it at least once before at WonderCon and while some of the panelists were the same, having sent press releases that failed to get published I was interested in learning from my own experience. So, pro note: reach out to publications beforehand and introduce yourself. Ask how they want to hear about you and your work, don't assume that you know what they're looking for. Try to get to know the journalists at them, by reading their stories and following them on social media. Contact them before you do something, like a Kickstarter, not after it's already going. Be short and get to the point. A lot of groundwork but in many ways common sense.

There were other panels I attended and people I reached out to, though there were several I would have liked to have met there but didn't. Some of the best moments at the con are conversations with people and while those may be hard to have they really do mean the most. 

What's in store for the next one? Well, I'm going to try and get a table next time, maybe even Small Press for SRCC Press.

As I mentioned last week, no real writing got done this week though some things did move forward. New reviews hit Trophy Unlocked with Paul's review of Five Nights at Freddy's: Security Breach coming out on Wednesday Game Day and his review of  Atlantis: Milo's Return being the Saturday Morning Review.

The most pleasant surprise was how well On the Air with Powers Squared did without us. Rachel and Julia did a really great job without us. I think it's one of the best shows. I find it rewarding that something we started and sustain without us. The two of them have really great chemistry and did some art challenges related to Powers Squared. We're a little late with some of the technical aspects: the audio version, but it will go up on Wednesday on our YouTube channel and I would highly recommend the show.

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

Sunday, July 17, 2022

A Week in Writing #413 - Prepping for the Task Ahead

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

Coming up next week is SDCC 2022, or what is also known as Comic-Con. For those who have never been, the convention is a blur of activity with exclusives, panels, autographs, and announcements all seemingly overlapping to the point that you can never see it all, try as you might.

Around my house there is at least two weeks of prep, going through all the posts about what is coming to San Diego and trying to figure out who will go do what (panel, signing) while we're there. I want to mix professional learning with fun and networking, which in our house takes a series of spreadsheets and a planning session or two. Not to mention the nightly bleery-eyed meetings to plan the attack for the next day when we're there.

I wrote last week about my apprehensions with the new COVID variant but we're going anyway. If you want to think happy thoughts about us while we're there, please do. I have to think we'll come out of this clean or clear, after the app of the same name.

If you're going, I'll be the one wearing a Powers Squared t-shirt, so if you are, say hello if you see me.

In the spirit of Comic-Con, we had artist and creator Don Nguyen on our podcast, On the Air with Powers Squared. Unlike us, Don has a table at the con in Artist Alley. We did apply but we were turned down due to the backlog from the previous canceled SDCCs in 2020 and 2021. I imagine it's a very different experience but one that we'll need to do eventually if we want to play in the big leagues. I always feel like we're just a step or two away from something happening.

On the subject of Powers Squared, our latest issue dropped this past Wednesday; Issue #13, The Imposter, Part 1. (The link will take you to where you can buy it.) Releasing printed comic books in this day and age is harder than you'd think, what with paper shortages. One of the platforms we use is backlogged to the point that they couldn't guarantee it would be up on their site, even with two weeks' notice, so we're only up on three out of the four we usually work with. I checked as I'm writing this and it is still not up and they're closing shop and will be at SDCC as well.

Had a learning experience with proofs. One set, from the other print platform, took over two months to get the proofs to us and it was only then that we saw the error in our ways. Apparently, I had included two of the same page in the pdf so there were three blank pages at the end of the issue, including the back cover. Thankfully, it is not an issue that we're releasing in the near future so we can make the change.

While it might seem like we're only doing Comic-Con prep, that would be wrong.

During this past week, I did send out a new query for Broken People, my Thursday night chore. I also messed around a little more with the opening chapter. I'm sure that is not the right thing to do but I decided that I could make it better, so I did. I still need to rewrite the synopsis, which would open up more query options for the book. I did remove one from my list as a DNR, as their prescribed time period had expired.

I also managed to make some headway with fka Skylar, though I think I'm updating some backstory ideas I have for it, all of which I think will make it better and have a better twist at the end. So, the word count will come; trust me.

I also wrote a review for Blast of Silence, which I realized was a leftover from some Christmas holiday recording and part of the Drain the DVR campaign. Not sure when that will come out. As I mentioned last week, we're good with Christmas movies for a couple of seasons and we're not in a rush to put this one out.

My review of Jingle All the Way was the Saturday Morning Review on Trophy Unlocked. We decided to give in to the inevitable pressure from Hallmark and acknowledge Christmas in July. No game review this week but that feature will return next week.

Let's talk next week, while we're on the subject. Writing, including this blog, will go on hiatus from Wednesday until Sunday, so I probably won't get a lot of work done before we leave; no film reviews will be written and no queries will be sent. On Monday, I will, however, publish a Report From the Front, detailing my experiences at Comic-Con and any pertinent information I might have learned while attending.

So, until then, keep writing and I'll see you next week.

Sunday, July 10, 2022

A Week in Writing #412 - New Issue Coming Out

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

Let's start with Powers Squared. We have a new issue coming out officially on Wednesday, July 13. It's #13, The Imposter Part 1. Just when relationships appear to be pulling Marty and Eli apart, someone on campus tries ruining Marty's reputation by impersonating him. Who could it be? Find out on Wednesday. The issue and where to buy it can be found at The Campus Store. As they become available, there will be links to where it can be purchased both physically and digitally. There is also some new merch as well that I'm excited about, some chibi t-shirts, and a new poster, again, links at The Campus Store if you're at all interested. I'd love it if you were.

In addition to that, we're also releasing a short character video - Who is Pedro? He's a character that is introduced in this story arc and plays a big part in the story. You can watch it here on Wednesday morning.

On our Friday podcast, we talked about the new book but Paul also discussed the passing of Kazuki Takahashi, the creator of Yu-Gi-Oh!, and what the manga, anime, and games have meant to him. And, surprisingly, how it influenced an issue of Powers Squared. That also goes up on YouTube on Wednesday afternoon and can be watched here when it does.

Otherwise, it's been rather slow on the comic book front, nothing new, so far, from our artist or colorist, at least not this past week.

On our horizon is San Diego Comic-Con. No table this year, though we did apply, there was no room. We'll try again next year if there is one. I don't mean to sound cryptic but I'm not hundred percent sure this year is going to happen, what with COVID numbers rising. I believe it will but I am sort of nervous about being in a room with 160,000 of my closest friends. Can anyone say "super spreader event"? We're taking precautions but it is always in the back of your mind.

Just as an editor's note: I don't envision doing this blog on the Sunday night we get back. However, I will do it on that Monday, as a Report from the Front. I will be attending some panels about writing and comic books and I will share what I learn here, but you'll have to wait.

Did get some time working on fka Skylar this week. I've been moving around some things and have some, of what I consider, to be really good ideas for how it will end; I just got to get there. But I do want to report, time was spent on the project.

Another query this week for Broken People. I did DNR one of my queries since I never did hear back but otherwise it has been radio silence from the agents so far. This is, of course, the new normal so I feel like I have Schrodinger's query until either the time passes or I hear back.

Finished a new future review for Trophy Unlocked. This one is for a less than cheery Christmas movie, The Cheaters (1945), part of our Drain the DVR campaign. I guess this caught my eye last December. I know, the title alone really makes you think about the holidays. Not sure when this one will appear. We seem to be overwhelmed with Christmas movie reviews and there are only so many weeks in December.

We did manage to cut into our backlog this week with the Saturday morning review being Paul's review of Mickey's Christmas Carol. As I wrote on Facebook, blame Hallmark for making Christmas in July a thing. We're just trying to keep up, that's all. Wednesday's Game Day review was Trevor's review of Kao the Kangaroo (2022).

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

Sunday, July 3, 2022

A Week in Writing #411 - Getting Ready

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

There is so much to get ready for in July. If you're not a subscriber to The Hound Dogs' Howl, the Powers Squared newsletter, then you may not know that our next issue, #13 The Imposter Part 1, is coming out on July 13th. That's a Wednesday for all those Triskaidekaphobians out there, so it shouldn't be unlucky. In the next week or so, I'm going to have to make sure all the preps have been made, including updating our Campus Store website, making sure the providers are ready as well, and getting out a news release and The Bark, our bulletin.

To that end, I was working on updates to our website and to Artithmeric's, our British on-demand publisher. In addition to the new issue, we're also premiering a new line of Chibi t-shirts designed by our colorist, Julia Canon, who will be making her Powers Squared debut with the issue, even though she's been working with us for a couple of years now.

We also have a video to premiere along with the issue about a new character we're introducing, Pedro. So much to do. This goes back to my last blog about the work of writing.

Our OAPS this week was with Kurt Zauer, an indie creator who reached out to us. That's always interesting. Apparently, he was told we have a good show, which is always nice to hear. He was on the floor of the Anime Midwest Con where he had a booth in Artist Alley. He also has a Kickstarter, which he also wanted to talk about. You can check out the audio here and on Wednesday, the video will be on our YouTube channel, if you want to check it out. It's always nice to meet other creators out there.

Alas, no new review from me this week. Our Drain the DVR Saturday hit a snag when the movie, Girl Crazy (1932) was out of synch, for some reason, and unwatchable. Hopefully, we'll see it some other time.

I did have a review published, today, as a matter of fact, Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness (2022); school's back in session. The Saturday Morning Review was Paul's for Lightyear (2022). And the Wednesday Gameday review was Paul's for TimeSplitters: Future Perfect played on an Xbox.

One new query this week for Broken People. I haven't heard back from any of the last several so far, even ones that other writers were reporting were not handling new clients. I don't know if that's a good thing or not. I try to give agents a reasonable amount of time before DNRing them (Did Not Respond). I'm really happy with the rewrite of Chapter One, so I'm hopeful I'll catch someone's attention, at least to send more pages.

The big news is I've been able to work on fka Skylar. I still call it that, even though the character's name has changed. I don't have a good title for it yet. I'm going back through it, I know again, trying to add bits where I can. I had another idea that I'm sure will work better than the last one.

The other thing to get ready for is San Diego Comic-Con, which is rapidly approaching. We're just attendees again this year but there are still people to see and things to discuss. We're a little apprehensive about a large-scale in-person event but we're trying to be cautious in our approach. Whatever I find out, I will divulge in my Report from the Front, though it will be delayed a day, as I will be driving most of Sunday. Thanks in advance for understanding.

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