Sunday, December 3, 2023

A Week in Writing #485 - A Surprisingly Hard Week

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

Let me start off with a plug, the next issue of Powers Squared, #19 "Kamaitachi", is coming out on Wednesday, December 6. It will be available in print and digital and can be ordered through The Campus Store on our website. Now back to the usual blog post.

Not one of my more productive weeks and Powers Squared is to blame. I don't mean anyone in particular connected with the project but my own struggles to get something done. As I had written previously, we're going to be working with LibraryPass next year and I wanted to put togther a new trade for them to have.

I thought it would be mostly putting together some pages from previous issues. The trade ended up being over 80 pages and a certain number of the pages ended up having to be re-sized and then edited and then put back together. What I thought would take a night took multiple nights to get done. And there's not a lot I could do while waitng for the trade to process. My goal was to have it done by the beginning of December and I did manage to get to them on Friday, December 1, but it took way longer than I had anticipated.

That cut into other things I wanted to get done, like sending out a press release for out next issue, which drops on December 6. I had already decided to change up my distribution of releases. Rather than trying to hit up a bunch of sites, most of which ignore that I send, I decided to instead just concentrate on the few that have ever published them or anything about Powers Squared. And I decided it was all-right to wait until closer to release. It seemed to have worked, as First Comics News posted, read the story here, and another wants to include the issue in the Christmas gift guide.

As part of the release of the new issue, our On the Air with Powers Squared  podcast was a preview of the issue, which we called Issue #19 Hype. You can listen to it here now and/or watch it here on Wednesday.

With today being the first Sunday of the month, it was time for the next newsletter The Hound Dogs' Howl. These aren't too hard to put together but there are always issues like misplaced links, which I can only discover when I send myself a test email, which is usually the last thing I do before sending it out. Would love it if you would sign up for the newsletter by enrolling at SRCC (it is free).

To add to the fun, I'm still working on the last review I was writing last week for Trophy Unlocked. The blog kicked off Christmas month with a look at Elf, which is celebrating its 20th anniversary this year, on Saturday. Last week also saw reviews of both Good Burger and Good Burger 2, written by Paul and Trevor respectively.

While I did open Skylar, that was about all I did with it.

So, my goals for next week are to hype the new release, finish my review of Abandoned and work more on Skylar.

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

Sunday, November 26, 2023

A Week in Writing #484 - The Thanksgiving Hole

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

If you're like me, you spent a good portion of the Thanksgiving holiday travelling. For me it was two days, Thursday and Friday with about 14 hours behind the wheel. While it's nice to spend time with family, the holiday leaves a hole in the week in writing that really can't be filled. Which is my way to introduce this blog where not much happened.

I'll start with our podcast, On the Air with Powers Squared. We weren't sure we'd be back in time on Friday to do it live and if we were would we feel like doing one. So, to fill the void, we pre-recorded one, just Paul, Trevor and myself, discussing the Japanese drama series Thus Spoke Kishibe Rohan and the feature film Rohan at the Louvre. Our artrist, Julia Canon, was nice enough to post it for us. As always, you can listen to it now here or watch it on Wednesday after 2:30 pm here. The choice is yours.

Next week, a new issue of Powers Squared drops. Issue #19, "Kamaitachi", written primarily by Paul with my assist. Of course, I'd appreciate it if you would check it out. It will be available in print and digital, all of which you can find in The Campus Store, where the Hound Dogs shop. It's the site for links to all our publications and merch, so I would encourage you to check it out.

I still have a lot of work to do between now and then. I need to send out a press release for the book. I usually send it out to several outlets and, of course, am ignored by them. I'm just going to send it this time to the few that have actually published it or have published something about Powers Squared. That way I'm not so disappointed.

Still waiting to hear from San Diego Comic-Con about our professional renewal. We're still within the window for hearing back but I'd rather have it settled. I believe we qualify so I'll give it a few more weeks before I out-and-out panic. I'm also trying to find out about tabling at WonderCon and SDCC, as it appears to be the time. More waiting ahead for me and for us.

For Trophy Unlocked, my review of Three Strangers appeared as the Saturday Morning Review, ending the short celebration of Noirvember on the blog. We're now turning our attention to Christmas. No shortage of reviews for that holiday, so stayed tuned. I'm also working on a new review of Abandoned (1949); don't expect it to appear this year but want to get it done.

As usual, more progress but not as much as I'd like on Skylar.

For the coming week, besides the press release, I have the newsletter to complete, a review to complete and hopefully, the next trade to complete; it's close. Well, more about in the next blog.

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

Sunday, November 19, 2023

A Week in Writing #483 - A Week Behind the Scenes

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

I felt like this was a week for doing other things related to writing, but not the craft itself. Some weeks are just like that.

There was a lot of behind the scenes things to do and mostly with Powers Squared, what else is new?

I've been trying to do three things at once for the book. Our former artist, Rachel Wells, had been working on a project for me which finally came to fruition this week, a seal for San Romero Community College, the location for the comic book. It had started out as a different project, a diploma for the schoool. On that, she had put a seal for the school, which got me to thinking. On the website, we've been using an edited ad for The Campus Store as the logo for the school itself, but it really should have its own.

There was some back and forth as we discussed ideas. Sort of loosely based on several that we found on the internet, including CSUN's, where Paul and Trevor attended, and SCAD, which is Rachel's alma mater, we decided to break the seal down into certain quadrants to represent the school, including the mascot, the English building (the oldest building on campus), academics, represented by a quill and parchment, and wheat fields, representing the old farm the school sits on. Then there were the colors to use, which should be school colors. Anyway, the seal came out pretty good:

You can read the story behind the seal and a short history of San Romero Community College on the website.

With the comic book, we're not only gearing up for a release of the next issue, #19 "Kamaitachi", on December 6, but also with the second trade for the book, which I'm hoping to launch initially on Library Pass next year. With that, it was getting the colors right for the cover and now it's getting the credits page updated. Jen Moreno, our colorist, handled the cover for me and did a really good job, but you'll have to wait to find out.

One of the background duties that I hadn't realized hadn't been done was getting the new issue up on Kindle and GlobalComix. But the issue will be up on both and is currently available for pre-ordering on Kindle

Speaking of Kindle, I've been reading about the demise of ComiXology, to which I have to say good riddance. While I was initially happy to be available on the platform, I'm not sure if it was really worth it as I think our launch was botched by the site. We stopped submitting to them several issues ago and started with Kindle since we figured that was where it was going; not that we've made anything from that site either. But hey, who's bitter?

If it's not one thing it's another. The next issue we're going to work on, #26, has a lot of yokai and I asked our current artist, Julia Canon, to do some character designs for the project, which she did this week as well. Work should start on that pretty soon, though we are coming into the holidays, so I'm sure schedules will get messed with.

Our podcast this week, was an early Monthly Team Meeting with Julia and Jen, along with Trevor, on OAPS. You can listen here and/or watch it here on Wednesday afternoon on.

I also started working this weekend on the next Hound Dog's Howl, our monthly newsletter. I had some free time, so why not get started on it?

For Trophy Unlocked, I completed the review I was doing for Coquette and wrote a new one for The Red Badge of Courage (1951), don't know when either will appear. Wedneday was Trevor's review of TY the Tasmanian Tiger 4: Bush Rescue Returns and on Saturday we took a pause from Noirvember to celebrate the 35th anniversary of The Land Before Time with a review also written by Trevor.

All that didn't leave much time for Skylar, though I did do some minor work on it. The desire is there, it is just time which is always in short supply.

Next week is Thanksgiving, so I want to make sure to wish everyone a Happy and Safe day, especially if you're travelling. And, of course, that will impact my output, so understand when next's weeks post might seem short.

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

Sunday, November 12, 2023

A Week in Writing #482 - Things Are Getting Back to Normal

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

Things seem to be getting back to normal, which means back to what might be a normal routine.

Let's start this week off with Trophy Unlocked. I finished my review of Two O’clock Courage and started a new one for Coquette (1929), an early sound film starring Mary Pickford, part of the drain the DVR Saturdays.

To celebrate the 50th anniversary, Trevor's review of the animated Disney film Robin Hood (1973) went up on the date it was released.

The celebration of Noirvember continued with my review of Tomorrow is Another Day (1951). And today, Trevor's review of Rohan at the Louvre (2023) went up. This is a Japanese film, in Japanese with subtitles. We had watched the series, Thus Spoke Kishibe Rohan, which is, itself, a spin-off series of JoJo's Bizarre Adventure.

Rohan bled over into a podcast that we recorded on Friday after our live podcast, with Trevor joining us. We're trying to plan for the Friday after Thanksgiving, which we're not sure we'll be back in time for the podcast.

Our live podcast, "Writers Roundtable" was just Paul and I and we were discussing our writing process for Powers Squared and the collaborative process that follows as we work with artists and colorists to bring the words to life. It's available to listen to here and will be up on Wednesday afternoon on YouTube here.

We're starting to transition to a new issue, #26 "The Great Escape" while still wrapping up pages from issue #25. I've asked our artist, Julia Canon, to do some character designs before we get going.

In other Powers Squared news, our new logo for San Romero Community College seems to be getting close. Mostly, we're going over the colored version that our previous artist, Rachel Wells prepared for me. It started out as a project to design a diploma for the school and started with the seal on that document. I like making the school seem more "real".

To round out the week, I did work on Skylar this week and am finally to the point where I'm actually writing and not just editing, so that's sort of exciting. I'm not going to get into word counts just yet, but it is progress.

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

Sunday, November 5, 2023

A Week in Writing #481 - It's Back

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

Well, it's that time of the year again, the big experiment with time-shifting known as the end of Daylight Savings Time. Fall back only means you get an extra hour once and for that you get days betting darker sooner and your internal clocks thrown off for a day or so. Not really sure it's a good deal. I write this, as I do every year, because I don't know the impact it's going to have on me next week. I try to write until I get sleepy and that might come earlier for a few days. Forwarning that next week might not be too productive.

The big project for this week was the newsletter, The Hound Dogs' Howl, and the big announcement was something I've already talked about last week, the book becoming available on ComicsPlus powered by LibraryPass. Last week, I wrote about the anxiety, or the sense of finality with submitting it. That surprisingly went well, so we're on course.

In addition to the news, there are links to last month's OAPS, a link to the newest Peek-of-the-week, an article about Booster Gold and Goldstar, and a recommendation for Thus Spoke Kishibe Rohan, not to mention the usual Heard on Campus feature. As always, you can always sign up for the newsletter and get a free copy of the first book by signing up here.

I'm still hoping we can get the second trade ready in the next few days or week and submit that as well. The covers have been drawn and are being colored, so we should be good to go soon. It will be different to release something through another method than we have before, but it's hopefully all about getting eyes on the book.

The drawing on Issue 25 seems to be coming to an end, so we should be start working on Issue 26. I've already sent the artist a list of yokai that will appear in the book and asked her to come up with some character designs before we launch into it.

Finishing up on Powers Squared, our Friday OAPS was dedicated to another franchise, in this case, Five Nights at Freddy's. The movie, currently playing in theaters, is based on a series of video games developed by Scott Cawthon and this what we, Trevor, Paul and I, discussed on our podcast, though they know much more about it than I do. You can listen now here or watch it on Wednesday on our YouTube channel.

Trophy Unlocked kicked off Noirvember with my review of The Killer is Loose on Saturday. I frankly don't remember when I wrote it but it was nice to get one up on the blog. For Halloween, Paul's review of Five Nights at Freddy's the movie went up. Fitting for the day. On Monday, it was the conclusion of Resident Evil Month with Paul's review of Resident Evil 4 - Separate Ways (DLC).

I've started working on a new review of yet another film noir, Two O’clock Courage (1945). Not sure when it will appear. 

I also managed to get some work done on Sklyar this week, though I'm still going through the book and haven't, yet, written anything new.

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

Sunday, October 29, 2023

A Week in Writing #480 - Anxiety

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

I know if may not seem like much, but I just sent off a link to our first trade to LibraryPass. But for me it was a somewhat tense and anxious moment. There was a real sense of finality in doing it, something that I rarely feel when working on Powers Squared or even sending a query letter.

We've been told for a couple of years now that we should try to get our book into libraries, especially school libraries, and to put a fine point on it, college libraries, since the book takes place at a college; San Romero Community College. The trick, which no one bothered to show us, was how to do that. School libraries, like any other government agency, buys from a set list of contractors/companies, and little ol' SRCC Press was not on that list. Library Pass is and so the hope is we'll get a little exposure.

While it should have been pretty much a slam dunk, I wanted to add SRCC Press to the cover and, for some reason, this took more than one "build" to do. First the cover was too big and had to be resized and then when I put together all the pages (104 if you're counting), the revised cover wasn't included. Nothing makes you feel more stupid than messing that up.

Well, anyway, it's sent and now the anxiety of waiting to hear back sets in. Hopefully, everything works and we're good to go. The second trade is pretty much ready, we just need the new covers to be colored, a little lettering and it should be ready to go.

Some of this news, about Library Pass, was shared on our latest OAPS podcast, the October 2023 Team Meeting. Listen here now and watch here later (Wednesday on).

Busy week on Trophy Unlocked. Monday was Paul's Second Look at Devil May Cry; Wednesday was Paul's review of Haunting Ground, Friday was Paul's review of Resident Evil 4 (2023) and Saturday was Trevor's review of Willy's Wonderland. This month was Resident Evil/horror, so these all fit that pattern. Spoiler, we did see Five Nights at Freddy's on opening day, and Paul's review will be up on Halloween; something to look forward to.

Unrelated, I'm working on a review of The Famous Ferguson Case (1932), which in and of itself isn't that famous at all but did star one of my favorites from that time, Joan Blondell. You'll have to wait for that one.

Did some more work on the re-tooled Skylar, by which I mean I got through a chapter and part of the next one. So progess is being made on that front.

This coming week, I need to finish Famous Ferguson and also work on the newsletter, The Hound Dogs' Howl, which comes out next Sunday.

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

Sunday, October 22, 2023

A Week in Writing #479 - Still Slow Going

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

Speaking of staying safe, over the weekend, I, along with the rest of my family, got vaccinated for the flu and for the new strain of Covid. In a couple of weeks, I'll go back and get one for RSV, as, yes, I'm in that age range.

Another not so effective week of writing. The cold was still with me for a good part of the week, so that's my excuse. Now that I've rounded that corner, I have to get back to getting things done.

This week, my big accomplishment was getting a dba set up. I'm doing business as SRCC Press, the publisher of Powers Squared. I don't think it means anything really, but my CPA has been after me to set one up, so I finally did it. Partly because I need to but also because in the new year, Powers Squared will be available on Library Pass, which means our books will be in school libraries across the country. This has been something we were told to do by Gamal Hennessey a couple of years ago, but that was easier said than done.

But it looks like that's coming along. I need to send in the materials still. Being under the weather was my excuse, but now it's getting ISBN numbers. Not that I'm afraid of the process of getting one, it's the cost. Since a number costs more than all the monies we've ever received for the books, I've been a little squeamish about the expense, but I think it would help with the entire process so I'm going to have to bite the bullet and do it.

We're putting together a second trade, issues 6-9 for Library Pass. The covers have been drawn, but not colored and it's a chance for us to fix something that bothered my co-creators when it was printed. A minor bit of dialogue, and no, it's not what was said, nothing bad, more like how it was presented. I think I kind of bullied it through the first go round so this would be a chance to make it right. We'll incorporate it into the Kickstarter I'd like to do next year and then make them available some time after that.

I have done some work, but not much, on a new approach to Skylar, that long suffering novel I keep writing about writing. I moved the introduction of the character up and I'm making some other changes. We'll see if it comes out better this time around.

I am working on a review of The Vampire Bat (1933), look for that next Halloween on Trophy Unlocked, so watch for it. In the meantime, it's been horror and Resident Evil Month. Tuesday was Paul's review of Resident Evil 0 HD Remaster followed on Thursday with his review of Resident Evil 4 (2005). The Saturday morning review was, surprise, also Paul's, this one for Frankenweenie (2012).

I would be remiss if I didn't point out that Trophy Unlocked hit a new milestone over the weekend, 1500 Reviews.

The OAPS this week was our 11th Comic Book Club meeting, this time it was Scott Pilgrim, Vol. 1: Scott Pilgrim's Precious Little Life, written and illustrated by Bryan Lee O'Malley, with Julia Canon, Jen Moreno, Rachel Wells and Trevor. You can listen here or watch it here on Wednesday. Next week, it's a team meeting, which you're welcome to watch on at 6 pm PT next Friday. Be There and Be Squared.

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

Sunday, October 15, 2023

A Week in Writing #478 - Under the Weather and Another Birthday

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

I'm sorry to say that this has not been a banner week for me, mostly because I've been under the weather for the last few days. It's not so much writer's block as thinking block. I'd rather veg out than do anything constructive.

It's nothing really serious, mostly a dry cough but it has seemed to zap a lot of my energy for most of the week. I get really tired and fall to sleep or just sit and stare at the computer screen.

As a result, not much progress has been made on the rewrite of Skylar. I did start the book over again, using mostly what I've already written but moving up the first encounter to page one, etc., after which things got a little foggy. In the original version, she was a stripper, but I'm adding in a new element to her character, she is also on OnlyFans. I've been reading that many people, during Covid, went to that site when they couldn't work in public, so it might make sense for a stripper to have gone to that site in order to financially survive when they couldn't dance. Some women have done quite well by using the site.

That was the only writing I've done so far this week, which isn't much.

No new review for me this week, and not so much because of illness but because it was my wife's birthday on Saturday and we went out rather than drain the DVR. That said, my review of Dr├ícula (1931) was the Saturday Morning Review on Trophy Unlocked. Otherwise, the blog has been mostly Resident Evil with Paul's review of Resident Evil 3 (2020) on Tuesday and his review of Resident Evil Code: Veronica X on Thursday. I would be remiss not to mention that our review hub for Assassin's Creed also dropped on Thursday.

For OAPS this week, it was a look back at EyeShield 21, an American football manga written by Riichiro Inagaki and illustrated by Yusuke Murata that is celebrating its 21th year. Paul and Trevor did most of the talking on this show, which was fine by me. They have and have read all 37 volumes of the story. Listen here now or watch here on Wednesday. Next week's podcast is our Comic Book Club. We're reading Scott Pilgrim Vol 1.

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

Sunday, October 8, 2023

A Week in Writing #477 - Rewrites, Thumbnails and Resident Evil

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

I'm about done with my re-reading project. I've decided that Paperback Detective needs some work. I think the writing's too loose and some details come out too early in the book. I need to rework some of it to bring it up to standards, well, my standards.

I've also been doing some thinking about Skylar and wanting to rework some aspects of her character in the book. Now, it's just down to the hard part, or the easy part depending, writing it.

Another, unrelated idea came to me as well but I'm not going to into it just yet. Too much other things to work on first.

Speaking of which, I started doing something I haven't done since the first issue, making thumbnails for what should be the next issue of Powers Squared. Part of the reason I'm doing it is to hopefully help the artist know what I'm thinking of in the script. I've already come to this decision, but this confirms the fact that I am not the artist. I even have a badge to that effect and these drawings prove that, although I think some of it has to do with trying to get an idea across in something in less space than a postage stamp. I'm about halfway through the issue.

We'll have to wait to see if it helps, because we still have the current to get through. We are thinking ahead, as we have artwork already done for the trade we're going to release next year. This one is going to be for issues 6-9. We brought Rachel Wells, the artist on those issues, to do the covers. You'll have to wait a bit to see them.

In a bit of cross promotion, our OAPS this week was about the videogame series Resident Evil, since it is Resident Evil Month on Trophy Unlocked. It was mostly a Paul show since he is the gamer of the two of us. You can listen to it here or watch it on Wednesday when it drops on our YouTube channel.

With that said, it should come as no surprise that Resident Evil reviews dominated Trophy Unlocked. Things started on Tuesday with Paul's review of Resident Evil HD Remaster. That was followed by Paul's review of Resident Evil 2 (2019), and then Paul's review of the movie Resident Evil: Welcome to Raccoon City as the Saturday Morning Review. Oh, and there will be more to come through the month. 

Meanwhile, I'm working on a review of Shockproof (1949), which I should finish tonight or tomorrow.

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

Sunday, October 1, 2023

A Week in Writing #476 - Eyesight needed

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

Woke up on my birthday and started to put on my glasses when they fell apart in my hands. They were the frameless type and there was already a crack in the lens. My current frames are being reset with new lenses, but they've been delayed two weeks, so this was the prescription before the last one. But that meant I had to go back to a pair of glasses even older. Long story short, I don't remember what glasses I was wearing three years ago, so I'm stumbling to find a pair I can see through. Now, that's a bit of a lowbar; I'm not blind, but it's the small stuff, like everything written on the back of everything or on the internet that I'm having trouble with. Great way to start out the year.

I was able to adjust throughout the week and was able to get my new glasses on Saturday, so it did resolve itself but it does show how important seeing is to writing.

On that subject, I have been reworking Paperback Detective and updating it so that it fits in better with the other stories; lining up events, etc. In this one, J.D. is hired by a client to follow his wife, whom he thinks is having an affair. Before he can determine if she is or not, the woman ends up murdered and J.D.'s client is the prime suspect. Even his defense attorney thinks he's guilty. J.D. is the only one trying to prove him innocent. In that effort, he's working against his ex-, Debbie Estevez, who is the lead on the murder investigation on the case, despite being four months pregnant. It is while discussing the case that J.D. discovers that he might be the father of the baby despite the fact Debbie is married to someone else.

Turning to Powers Squared, we completed The Hound Dogs Howl and sent it out on Sunday morning. The piece on twins ended up being about Tegan and Sara, and the recommnedation was Resident Evil 4 (2023) in case you're interested. You can receive your own copy by signing up here.

This past Friday, we had our September team meeting with Julia Canon, Jen Moreno and Trevor joining Paul and I to discuss what's new with the book. Listen here if you're interested or watch it on Wednesday when it goes up on YouTube.

On the subject of Trophy Unlocked, we completed Batman Month on the blog with Saturday Morning's review of Batman: The Doom That Came to Gotham written by Paul. October is horror month but also Resident Evil Month (Part 1).

Totally unrelated to either, I completed a review of Reckless (1935), the Jean Harlow-William Powell starrer. Rather than draining the DVR, this was one of the films in a 7-film set of Harlow films I receieved for my birthday. As is the usual, I have no idea when it will be up on the blog, but I wouldn't imagine it would be in October. December is pretty packed as well.

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

Sunday, September 24, 2023

A Week in Writing #475 - Never Too Late for a Rejection

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

A few weeks back, due to the lack of reception, I decided to stop querying Broken People. The fact that I stopped doesn't mean the rejections would stop. I received this on Wednesday morning:

Thanks so much for letting me review your query. Unfortunately, your project isn’t the right fit for me. Since it's crucial that you find an agent who will represent you to the best of his or her ability, I'm going to step aside rather than ask to read more.  

Each query I read, I do so with my own list, preferences, and skills in mind. I encourage you to continue writing, editing, and looking for an agent whose tastes and interests align with yours.  

I’m happy to look at any future projects, so please query me again if you have new projects.

When I submitted my query on June 6, the agent's lead time was 6 to 8 weeks. I guess this points out that those timeframes are more guides than rule. And, you never know, I might even hear later from one of the agents I've given up on. Hopefully, if I do, it will be better news than this. So never give up hope.

Turning to more positive things, my rewriting of Getting Even continues and I'll think I'll be done this week with it. It still feels like the weakest of the books, a lot of moving parts but at this point, still necessry for the overall story. Next up will be Paperback Detective, a book I haven't looked at for five years, but I think still needs one more go through.

That will, of course, take second place this week to needing to get the next issue of The Hound Dogs' Howl ready for next Sunday. These weeks fly by and a pretty brisk pace. Time will be a little tighter this week with a couple of birthdays this week, mine on Monday and Paul's and Trevor's on Thursday. As much as I enjoy writing, there are some things that take precedent.

We had our 10th Comic Book Club podcast on Friday with Rachel Wells returning and joining in with Julia Canon, Jen Moreno and the Hankins to discuss Frieren: Beyond Journey's End, written by Kanehito Yamada and illustrated by Tsukasa Abe. As always you can listen to it now or watch it on Wednesday when it drops on our YouTube channel; 2:30 PT.

Making some progress on Issue #25, "Yuki-Onna". The hope is to be through page 16 by the end of the month. When we're done with that issue, I'm thinking of us doing The Great Escape, another one-off, which is sort of a continuation of Mocha and Raven. But that's getting too far ahead.

Trophy Unlocked is celebrating Batman Month, so my review of Batman: Gotham by Gaslight

was the Saturday morning review. On Sunday, Trevor's review of Elemental went up since it's a somewhat current title. Trevor's review of Stay Tuned went up on Thursday, which sort of took me by surprise. Apparently it was to celebrate Chuck Jones' birthday, who did some animation work on the film.

We're also working towards October and our annual salute to horror. Since I had the idea of watching it, I wrote a review of Dr├ícula, aka the Spanish-language Dracula, that was made at the same time as the more famous Tod Browning film, starring Bela Lugosi. I'm pretty sure that will go up next month, I just don't know which date.

I'm also working on a review of I Cover the Waterfront for sometime later. I would say "stay tuned", but that's already been used.

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

Sunday, September 17, 2023

A Week in Writing #474 - Already Feeling the Effects

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

So, we're already two weeks into the football season, and I'm aleady feeling the effects. As much as I love watching my team play, it's three-hours that I really can't write, so therefore lose. I know that writing is about making choices but this one, while fun, does hurt the output. So, there are only so many weeks to go and I'll have to figure out better ways of balancing.

Spending most of my time this past week on a couple of projects: re-reading and editing Getting Even and working on editing the pilot script. Of the two, most of the time has been spend with the former. I usually get about two hours a night so I have to make decisions where to spend that time. I'm enjoying going through the book. Of the three I'm working on, this might be the weakest of the three, but I'm still liking the idea of making the three books line up better so that the last two I've worked on will flow better.

There's another one that I'm going to also work on next, Paperback Detective. This one also includes Leanne as a character and I think, from memory, that it happens between Getting Even and The Runaway. Even though I query the book as stand alone with series potential, there's nothing wrong with getting the series in order and the four books: Public and Private; Getting Even: Paperback Detective; and The Runaway have elements that would build on each other.

As far as the pilot script, I'm still working through that but have been spending less time on it, at least, this past week.

On the subject of Powers Squared, I would say we're having some production bumps. Work is being done but sometimes there are edits which seem to be taking longer than I'd like to get made. I'm still hopeful that we'll get through Issue #25 this year, but this will be the first year when we've only produced two issues.

Issue #25, "Yuki-Onna"was the subject of our latest OAPS podcast, more of like a preview of the issue, which Paul wrote. It's a companion to one that Trevor wrote, "Gashadokuro", which was Issue #24. The stories take place at the same time with Marty ("Yuki-Onna") and Eli ("Gashadokuro") each fighting their own battles. You can listen to it here or watch it on Wednesday on our YouTube channel.

On Trophy Unlocked, my review of Batman: The Movie was the Saturday Morning Review. It was Batman Day, and it's Batman Month on the blog. I started working on a new review of Ruggles of Red Gap, so that will be something else I'll work on this week, too.

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

Sunday, September 10, 2023

A Week in Writing #473 - More Re-reading/Editing

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

Well, I'm still in rewrite mode. I've finished with Public and Private and The Runaway and am working on Getting Even, which actually comes between them. If you read this post last week, you might remember that the stories involve a private investigator J.D. Barrister, who, like yours truly, is from Texas. While he's working cases, he also has to deal with relationships. His longest had been with Debbie Estevez, a LAPD Robbery-Homicide Detective and his most recent has been with Leanne Wilson. It is in this book that he starts a relationship with Leanne. It's his relationship with Debbie that also changes as she gets engaged.

I'll report back next week when I get through it. I still need to get back to Skylar and the new story.

No new queries this week. I think I'm done trying to query Broken People, as that effort seemed to be a no-go. I think I'll regroup and try Public and Private again, avoiding agents I've already queried about it.

We dropped a new issue of Powers Squared this past week, our 18th, "Mocha and Raven, Part 3". I've already started looking toward our 19th, which comes out on December 6. This one, "Kamaitachi", was written mostly by Paul. I just dropped the first related peek-of-the-week with more to follow.

Work has started on Issue #25 this month. This issue, "Yuki-Onna" was written by Paul and is a companion to one written by Trevor, #24 "Gashadokuro". There are some tweaks still to be done, but #24 seems to be ready art-wise.

This past Friday, Paul and I did sort of a wrap on the Summer, discussing what had happened during the past three months, including two issues, San Diego Comic-Con, our podcast and Metallica. You can listen to it here and/or watch it here on Wednesday after 2:30 pm PT when it goes up on YouTube.

It's been a busy week on Trophy Unlocked. The latest post is a review of Gran Turismo written by Trevor. This was a film we finally managed to see on Saturday and the review went up on Sunday. Saturday's review was my review of Batman & Mr. Freeze: SubZero, part of Batman Month. To that end, I reviewed Batman: The Movie from 1966, which is going up next Saturday. I also wrote a review of Isle of Missing Men (1942), which was part of drain the DVR Saturday.

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

Sunday, September 3, 2023

A Week in Writing #472 - Reliving the Past

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

After last week's scare, I've been spending time this past week looking back at some of the books I've written. I started with Public and Private for some reason; I'm not sure why, but I've enjoyed reading and editing it anew. As I had mentioned in last week's post, the stories follow a private detective, J.D. Barrister, and his relationships at the time.

He is hired by an agent to retrieve some incriminating photos of an up-and-coming actress, Cassandra Leonard, whose Oscar chances might be thwarted if the photos are released. Cassandra, who knows the blackmailer, Ritchie Fisher, insists on going with J.D. when he tries to make contact. But when they get to his last known address, they find a murder victim, who is not Fisher. After sending Cassandra away with his gun, J.D. calls his ex-, Debbie Estevez, who is a Robbery-Homicide Detective with the LAPD. When J.D. is considered a possible suspect, Debbie has him go with him on a stakeout of Fisher's last known address before sleeping with him, even though she's engaged to Enrique Sepulveda, a defemse attorney.

J.D. also has a romantic liaison with Cassandra when she invites him to a Christmas Eve party she's throwing. When everyone else leaves, she insists that he stay the night with her. That is also the night that Fisher himself is murdered. And while they supply each other with an alibi, she is still considered a person of interest. Also, when it's discovered that her agent, who is on a sky-holiday with his family in Utah, made a quick trip back to L.A. on Christmas Eve, he becomes a suspect, too.

I'm giving the story in very broadstrokes, but I really enjoyed reading it, and I won't tell you who the actual killer is, that would be giving away too much.

Later in the week, I began a similar read/edit of the book I thought I had lost, The Runaway. This one comes after Public and Private, with another book in between, Getting Even. In that one Leanne, J.D.'s current lover, is introduced. (She ultimately become his wife in the new story I started but that's fodder for a later day). I think I'm going to be spending time over the next week or so doing more of this. Then it's on to finish Skylar and get back to the new story.

The new issue of Powers Squared drops on Wednesday, September 6, so just around the corner. This will be issue #18, "Mocha and Raven, Part 3". I sent out several press releases, but I'm only aware that it appeared on First Comics News, who have been very fair to us. The issue is the culmination of a three issue story arc and we discuss it on out latest On the Air with Powers Squared podcast with everyone involved in the issue on the show, including artist Rachel Wells, colorist Julia Canon and letterer Trevor Hankins on the show. You can listen to it here, or watch it on Wednesday when it drops on YouTube.

Of course, you could also buy the issue when it drops. The links will be added throughout the day on Wednesday when they become available, but they will be on The Campus Store on the website; "Where the Hound Dogs Shop."

As always, would appreciate it if you would sign up for the newsletter.

This is Batman Month on Trophy Unlocked. This got its official kick-off on Saturday with Batman: Mask of the Phantasm written by Trevor. I'm currently working on a review for Gotham by Gaslight, which will appear this month. I'm also working on one for We're in the Money (1935). I hope to get them done tomorrow.

I still need to get back to the Pilot script, you know, with my free time.

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

Monday, August 28, 2023

A Week in Writing #471 - Disaster Averted

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

Sorry I'm a day late with this, but I spent the better part of yesterday at the second of two Metallica concerts at Sofi Stadium. One of those days when you leave about 3 in the afternoon and don't get home until 1 am the next day.

Disaster nearly struck this week, at least for me. I was working on my current story and wanted to refer back to a previous book but then I couldn't find it. And I searched and searched. Spent the better part of two days, read that evenings, looking at every form of back up I made but I could never find it. I did open each book and put in a couple of search words that were relevant to the story, "Barstow", where some of the action takes place, "missing persons", which was why I was looking for it, etc, but I couldn't seem to find it. That is until today. I decided that my happy ending would make a good reason to go into more details.

I know that I have mentioned I'm writing a private deterective series but I don't think I've bored you yet with the details. And, I guess I worry what it will sound like to others if I write it down.

The main character of the story is a private detective, J.D. Barrister, who came out to Los Angeles from the University of Texas with the hopes of becoming a screenwriter. But those dreams faded overtime. In researching a private eye story idea, he interviewed Robert Parkinson, a small timer in the San Fernando Valley. Parkinson needed an assistant and J.D. needed a more steady income and thus he went to work for him.

Soon after arriving in Los Angeles, J.D. was pulled over speeding down Sunset Blvd. by a motorcycle cop, Debbie Estevez. While he couldn't talk his way out of the ticket, he did manage to ask her out for dinner and a romance bloomed. They were desitined for the altar when J.D. pulled back. He and Debbie may love each other but theirs was a combustible relationship and J.D. called it off. Since then, they had been off and on. They are sometimes friends with benefits but she is always his first call when he needs help with the police.

The first book I wrote was one called Simple Sins in which J.D. is hired to follow a cheating husband but uncovers, instead, industrial espionage. Not only is Debbie around but J.D. also makes a contact at the FBI, Special Agent Howard Strait, who also reoccurs in other stories. Prior to my blog, I had shopped this one around and, surprise surprise, found no takers. In the book, it is stealth technology that is being passed on to the Chinese through an Albanian consulate. This, I know, dates the book, and I started to rewrite it once but it got sort of out of hand.

The series follows J.D.'s case load but also his personal life as well and events in one book will have consequences in other installments. As an example, Debbie does eventually marry someone else, an attorney named Enrique Sepulveda. Their relationship is hurried along when it is discovered Debbie is pregnant.

J.D., after various relationships in his books, falls in love with Leanne Wilson, a former model turned opthamologist. A third generation Japanese American, Leanne's grandfather was a white American soldier who fell in love with a Japanese woman after World War II. Leanne had also been married once to an actor. J.D. got involved when she suspected, correctly, that her husband was having affairs on the set. But it was several years later, when J.D. was running an adultery sting operation, that they got back together. A woman would hire J.D. to test their husbands and women like Leanne would be put out as bait to see if the man bit. It was after one such sting that J.D. and Leanne discovered a mutual attraction and they've been together ever since. I'm leaving out several storylines, but you get the gist.

J.D. makes a career following suspected philandering spouses, finding the occassional runaway, and sometimes dealing with blackmailers. His clients have included former girlfriends, show business agents, wives and once, a disgraced former news anchor.

The latter takes place in Broken People, the book I have unsuccessfully been querying for what seems like a long time. Times are hard and J.D. takes to process serving to make ends meet. The last person on his list is a political blogger, whom ends up murdered after J.D. serves him. When the police investigation, of which Debbie is a part, arrests someone for the crime, J.D. is not convinced they have the right person. Neither is Stacy Michaels, a waitress at the club where J.D. found the blogger. A former news anchor from Cincinatti, Stacy has come to LA to start over. But she thinks cracking this case would put her back on television. With the aid of another political blogger, Tom Black, that happens. J.D. is reuniting, briefly, with Debbis as she convolesces at his apartment when she's shot in a shootout with her former partner on the case.

In Past Present, J.D. is hired by his former college sweetheart, Brianna Miller, to follow her husband, Dalton McLean. Dalton is the blacksheep son in a family of Dallas-based real estate developers who was sent to L.A. to start a branch there, but it was really just to get rid of him. Dalton is indeed having an affair with a younger woman, Katy 'Kat' Wiley, whom unbeknownst to most everyone, including Kat, is actually his daughter from a college affair. I won't go into too many details but there is a murder involved that J.D. helps to solve.

In Public and Private, J.D. is hired by agent Irv Stringer to retrieve some intimate photos stolen off the computer of an up and coming actress, Cassandra Leonard, for which she is being blackmailed. In searching for the blackmailer, J.D. develops a short-lived sexual relationship with the star, as well as sleeps with an already engaged Debbie. There is an unrelated murder of a drug dealer that ends up being related and the blackmailer himself ends up killed on Christmas morning. There are a lot of suspects, including Cassandra, and Stringer, who had flown out of L.A. about the time of the blackmailer's murder and had lied to the police about it. The story ends with a shootout on the Paramount lot.

In Getting Even,  Maddie Crosby, a minor character in the previous book, hires J.D. when she thinks she's been involved in a murder but the body is missing. J.D. is then hired by the father of the missing victim to find his son, an investigation that takes J.D. up to Mendocino. This is also the book wherein J.D. hires Leanne to work the sting and they become an item. Meanwhile, Debbie is both engaged to Enrique and hasn't given up totally on J.D., but a pregnancy has her and Enrique setting a date.

The Runaway was the book I thought I'd lost but was under my nose the whole time. In this, J.D. is hired to find a man that has gone missing. Debbie, who is now married and nine months pregnant, helps J.D. until he has to rush her to the hospital to give birth. Back on his case, he finds the man he's looking for dead in Barstow. As it turns out, he was working for a client of Enrique's who was taking in runaway girls and using them for his own sexual desires and those of his friends. As the police noose closes in, Enrique turns on Debbie, effectively ending their marriage.

Skylar, the book I have been working on off and on, is J.D.'s first case post Covid shutdown. He has been living with Leanne at her apartment in Brentwood and is now using his old one as his office. The first client is a next door neighbor who is being blackmailed into having sex with a former lover, a Russian drug dealer. While he's working on that, his future father-in-law, Ken Takahashi, comes to visit and gets J.D. involved in a tontine the grandfather has been involved with. Ken's visit prompts J.D. to ask Leanne to marry him. I haven't quite figured out how to wrap this one up. I sort of wrote myself into a corner that I have to redo. At the end of the book, spoiler alert, J.D. finds out that Debbie's baby is really his.

This takes us to the new story idea I've had and have been working on. This time, Brianna, who is also a lawyer, hires J.D. to look for a woman for a client, who ran away from home fifteen years prior. A big task that comes with a big paycheck if he can find her. In the meantime, J.D. has been married to Leanne and is just getting to know his now three-year-old daughter Cristina Rose. Because this invovled a missing person's report, I wanted to reference a similar situation from The Runaway, the book, which is when I thought I couldn't find it.

There are a couple of other books in the series, Paperback Detective, and Familiar Stranger, but I think you get the idea. Well, now that you're pretty caught up with my private eye stories, I'll fill you in with what else is going on with other projects.

Since we were at the Metallica show on Friday night, Julia Canon hosted and she and our colorist, Jen Moreno, worked on a back-to-school theme using characters from Powers Squared. While you can listen to it here, this might be a better one to wait for on YouTube, when it goes up on Wednesday.

I started but didn't get very far with a review of British Intelligence (1940), something to work on. There were two reviews up with weekend on Trophy Unlocked, Trevor's of Justice League: The Flashpoint Paradox on Saturday morning, and Paul's review of the recently released 

Well, I've got a newsletter to start, so I'll end it here. Keep writing and I'll see you back here next week.

Sunday, August 20, 2023

A Week in Writing #470 - Just Add Water and Stir

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

This post comes during a very weird time in Los Angeles, where I live. Not only are we having a tropical storm roll through here for the first time in over 80 years, but we also felt the earth roll as we had an earthquake as well. As someone said on the news, L.A. is the country's disaster theme park. I know you want to know but except for some minor flooding in our garage, we're doing just fine. We sort of thought we had until winter before we had to worry about rain and the flooding but who knew we'd have rain in August?

Well, I know you're not reading this for the weather.

I'll save you some time, no new queries this week, no overt rejections either and very little writing, except for the idea I had for the comic book. I managed to do four drafts of a two part script, 5295 words. It started with one idea and ended a different way. I gave it to Paul to look at today. Even if it doesn't become a comic book, I still enjoyed writing it. It's been a long time, it seems, since anything I've written has been made into comic book form.

It wasn't my plan to spend the week on it but it started to roll and I just went with it.

Because of the pending storm and the possibility of a power outage, I didn't want to be working on a new review this week. So, instead, we watched the first episode of the MST3K season 13, a Kickstarter we backed in 2021 but for which, after paying for shipment on top of the Kickstarter, just received this week. One of the more botched Kickstarters I've been a part of and probably the last one I'll do for MST3K. The episode wasn't very funny and seemed sort of high budget cheap, if that makes sense. The original was made on a shoe string but it was way better than this version. The short we watched was funny, but that doesn't make up for everything else.

Because of the possible power outages, I also moved some of my normal Sunday morning social media stuff to Saturday night, including uploading our Friday On the Air with Powers Squared up to YouTube and scheduling posts for later in the week. This past Friday's podcast was mostly Paul talking about Metalocalypse and Dethklok, the fictional but still real band featured in the series. That goes up on Wednesday or you can listen to it here.

Even though I didn't write a new review this week, my review of  Nancy Drew. . . Trouble Shooter (1939) was Trophy Unlocked's Saturday morning review. We decided the review was our salute to the waning days of summer. The Wednesday Game Day review was Paul's for Five Nights at Freddy's: Security Breach – Ruin (DLC).

Just to give everyone a head's up, next weekend gets sort of discombobulated with Metallica coming to town for two shows, Friday and Sunday night. OAPS will be hosted by Julia Canon and will be another Artists Takeover, which I encourage everyone to support. It should be Live at 6 pm PT, so please watch. And, because the concert is also on Sunday night, this missive won't come out until Monday.

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

Sunday, August 13, 2023

A Week in Writing #469 - Rethinking the Queries

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

Sometimes it's best to stop doing the same old thing and try something new. I've finally come to that conclusion with my query letters for Broken People. I'm not sure what's not clicking but obviously, after so many query emails and nothing to show for it, I'm going back to the drawing board on it. I'm trying to rewrite how the story begins. Maybe those sample pages will work when the ones I've been sending haven't so far.

I began that quest on Thursday night, my usual night for sending a query letter. In the meantime, I'll consider sending out another story. I was close with Past Present, maybe I'll revive that query letter and send it out. Give me a little time on that one though. I've also got Skylar to finish and a new story to think about. Too much, too much.

A big week for us with our podcast, On the Air with Powers Squared. David Petersen, the creator of Mouse Guard, was our guest for a little over two hours. If that seems long, I think we could have gone another hour but I thought two hours was long enough, not only for any listener/viewers but also for us. He was a great interview, very open and funny. You can still catch it on twitch and the audio is available as well. On Wednesday, the video will premiere on YouTube.

Busy week for me with reviews. My Barbie review was the Saturday Morning review on Trophy Unlocked and my review of Oppenheimer was published today. Sorry, it took us a little time to get to Barbenheimer, but life is complicated. We wanted to see Oppenheimer in 70 mm IMAX, but the theater we went to, the TCL Chinese's 70 mm projector failed. I used to really like the Chinese theater, but the last two times have been disappointing. We got free tickets, rather than a refund, but I'm not sure I can count on them to come through. Not sure what happened to the theater, but it's a shell of what it used to be.

I'm also finishing up another review for the blog, Find the Blackmailer, a definite B-movie from 1943.

I've begun working on the rewrite of the pilot script after receiving notes. And I actually had an idea for the book, a story involving one of the boys' friends, Steve. We've sorted of hinted he has a secret and now it gets revealed and it isn't good.

On the subject of Powers Squared, I've been making some updates to the website following some advice from a fellow and more successful creator, Russell Nohelty, whom I talked with at Comic-Con and followed up with post show. He pointed out that it is not apparent how to get a sample of the book, so I'm adding buttons on pages pointing how to do that, as well as where to buy and our weekly peek-of-the-week feature, which, while on the webpage, is sort of hidden under the More tab on the homepage.

I'm always open to making things better.

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

Sunday, August 6, 2023

A Week in Writing #468 - Starting to Feel Normal Again

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

Well, two weeks out and I'm starting to feel normal again after Comic-Con. I hate the expression "getting back into the swing of things", though I'm pretty sure I've used it before. Let's just say I'm starting to feel normal again, good or bad, for what it's worth.

After writing last week that I hadn't worked on either Skylar or my new idea, I sat down and started working on a chapter for the new story. It's a bit of a fantasy chapter, so I don't think it will make it whole into the finished work but it was an idea I had to write down nonetheless. I worked on it off and on throughout the week and ended up writing about 3200 words. I may do another round of cleaning it up before getting back to Skylar, which I know I need to finish.

I also worked on the latest edition of The Hound Dogs' Howl and writing a piece on the M-Twins from the Marvel universe. Again, it's only available to enrollees at San Romero Community College, which you are free to enroll in.

I'll admit I was getting frustrated with the slow pace of pages for Powers Squared, but our artist turned in 7 and our colorist 8 this week, so I'm feeling a little better about things.

I've been reading Mouse Guard by David Petersen, as he will be our guest this Friday on our podcast, On the Air with Powers Squard on and later on YouTube. If you've never watched or listened to the podcast before, this might be one you don't want to miss.

Rounding out the updates on Powers Squared, I got feedback on the script and there is a lot to be done to make it better. Something else I want to look at this coming week.

For Trophy Unlocked, I'm currently working on a review for Blondie (1938). We haven't decided yet who will be writing it but we have a review to do for Barbie. Next weekend, we're finally going to see Oppenheimer so we want to do our own version of Barbenheimer when we do. Comic-Con sort of got us off as far as seeing movies when they first come out. I wanted to see Oppenheimer in IMAX and it wasn't until next weekend that opportunities and times worked out.

That may explain why my review of Mission: Impossible – Dead Reckoning Part One didn't appear on the blog until Saturday morning. Sunday saw Trevor's review of Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Mutant Mayhem, a film we managed to see close to it's original release on Friday afternoon. The first review last week was also Trevor's Game Day review of Tron: Identity for the PC.

To round things out, I did manage a new query this week. I'm down to four "active" queries, which may lead me to redo the synopsis on the query letter and maybe even rewrite the start of the book to bring the action more to the forefront.

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

Sunday, July 30, 2023

A Week in Writing #467 - Blame Comic-Con

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

I'm coming to you this week with hat in hand. This week didn't go as planned. I'm blaming an SDCC hangover, but I never seemed to get into the groove this week on practically anything. My brain would get pretty much instantly foggy when I got around to writing so rather than wear down the battery on the laptop, I put it back and sat in near inert stupor. Not a pleasant sight, let me tell you.

No surprise, there was no work on Skylar or even the new story idea I had.

By Thursday, I was awake enough to do some work on queries, including more research on possible agents; closing down three that had past expirations and managed to send one out before calling it a night. So far, no outward signs of rejection, so I'll take that as a maybe.

On the Powers Squared front, little has been happening. Our artist and colorist are supposed to turn in their work for the month on Monday, so nothing, thankfully, to review. We're several issues ahead on the writing so there's not much to do there, so there's a lot of waiting around.

We did talk a bit about SDCC during our Friday OAPS podcast (audio, video) in addition to catching up on the book. Paul also posted a video about the exclusives and signings, called SDCC 2023 Haul.

Speaking of podcasts, we've lined up David Petersen, the artist and creator of Mouse Guard for our August 11th show. We go live Fridays at 6 pm at That might be one you'll want to see.

Actually wrote a new review for Trophy Unlocked: Mission: Impossible – Dead Reckoning Part One. Blame SDCC but our movie watching has been thrown off so we're sort of behind on new films. We're playing catch up. We haven't scheduled Barbie yet but the first showing we could make to Oppenheimer in 70mm IMAX isn't until 8/12 and then there's TMNT coming out this week as well.  Not sure when the MI review will come out but probably this week. And the DVR just gets fuller with B-movies.

The Saturday Morning Review was Trevor's for Alice in Wonderland (1951); we were a couple of days off of its New York premiere date which is why it seemed like the right time to post it.

I will have to do better next week.

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

Monday, July 24, 2023

A Week in Writing #466 - Report From the Front - SDCC 2023

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

As promised last week, this week's blog is about San Diego Comic-Con 2023 and the panels I attended.

There are many reasons to go to SDCC and everyone has their own. Part of my reason for going is the Con itself and the atmosphere. This is a world I would deeply love to be more a part of. While Comic-Con is brutal with long days and short nights, it is over far too early for me. When Sunday comes, it is hard not to feel sad.

I enjoy panels like Cartoon Voices, which is pure entertainment and fun. I would recommend it to anyone who goes to the Con. Even if you don't know all the players, you should have a good time. I also attended the Mega64 20th Anniversary panel, which was interrupted by, what turned out to be, a false fire alarm.

And it was cool to meet some other creators as well. I made a point to find Russell Nohelty and ended up buying several of his books, though mostly the non-fiction ones. I also made a point of going to the White Ash Comics booth and meeting the creators, Charlie Stickley and Conor Farrell behind The Game, a comic I supported on Kickstarter. It took me until Sunday to say "Hi" to Don Nguyen in Artist's Alley.

One of my favorite times at this year's Comic-Con was about an hour we spent in the Professional Lounge talking with John Barber of Pan-Universal Galactic Worldwide on Thursday about what he was up to. It's times like that that make me feel like I belong in the community.

The other reason I go to Comic-Con is to attend panels that I hope will help with Powers Squared as well as our podcast.

The first one I attended was How to Get Press Coverage, run by Rik Offenberger from First Comics News. Now, believe it or not, I have gotten news coverage from this panel in the past, I may still again. The panelists included Ed Catto (Pop Culture Squad), Tim Chizmar (Fangoria), Michael Kingston (Headlock Comics), Alexander Raymond (Monstar Public Relations), Rob Salkowitz (Forbes), Francis Sky (First Comics News), J.C. Vaughn (Gemstone Publishing) and Josh Waldrop (Ultima Digital Media).

I'm not here to tell you how to write a good press release, but that's essential for most coverage. Their advice is to make it be about something that's going to happen soon, like in a month, and to include the What's it about; When is it coming out; and Where can it be bought. You should also include artwork if not a link to the book for them to review.

One of the suggestions is to make an event for yourself, like at a local library or comic book store.

There are news sites that are looking for stories about comic books and you should be nimble enough to take advantage when opportunity knocks, as when a news story takes place that either has something to do with your book or is referenced in it.

They also suggested talking to people that you support on Kickstarter.

Have an Electronic Press Kit (EPK) ready to go. Not that they suggested it but I think it might be good to have one that is general about your book and have ones that are about particular issues. You can send out links to a Dropbox to the EPK.

Ask others how they promote their work. They suggested that if you do, you'll find out what others do and don't.

One thing they mentioned is that it's okay to follow up on press releases. One of the panelists used the statistic that sales are usually made after seven attempts but most sales people give up after three.

The next panel I attended was The Pitching Hour, featuring Alison Haislip (Attack of the Show); Megan Bradner (Marvel TV); Kevin Avery (The Great North); Nyambi Nyambe (The Good Fight); Dan Fernandez (DC Comics); Eric Reid (WME); and Mark Bernardin (Picard).

If you've been reading this blog, you know that we're interested in trying to turn Powers Squared into an animated series, so this seemed like one of interest.

The panel apart from Reid from WME wasn't made up of people who buy pitches but rather people who have pitched.

A pitch should include things like: Why do you want to write this story?, a short summary of the story; Where the characters are going to be in a year or two.

They recommended that you: Find people who will believe in you; Don't follow trends; Stick to your vision; Never listen to Execs who turn you down.

They said that executives want to say "Yes" but it is easier for them to say "no" because it's less work for them. Yes, requires work from them.

Think about your story like an independent film.

They said you should have a document to leave behind; a pdf that you send to the person(s) you pitched to. It should include what your story is about. (Star Wars was used as an example here. It's about a boy who wants to leave the farm, doesn't know who he is but finds his destiny.)

The document should be about 15-20 pages and will become the show's Bible. Should include: Why me to tell the story? Why this is when the story should be told?, Where the Story came from; the characters; story including the Pilot and even seasons 1, 2 and 3.

Be seamless. The pitch should sound like you. Have confidence. Not everyone is good at both the pitch and the leave behind document.

You need a rep to get a pitch and need a script to get a rep. One recommendation was that the WGA has fellowships when you have a script. [On Hold during the strike].

I know financing is important to everyone, including myself, so I attended Kickstarting Comics in 2023 and Beyondhosted by Orina Leckert (Kickstarter’s head of publishing). The panel included Tom Akel (Rocketship Entertainment CEO & Publisher); Robert Napton (Legendary SVP of publishing); Dinesh Shamdashani (Bad Idea CEO); and Der-shing Helmer (Vault Comics managing editor).

One of the things they stressed was a Prelaunch Page for your Kickstarter.

One concept they discussed was that more deluxe product/pricing can allow you to make more money from fewer backers.

As far as a Kickstarter video goes, Orina pointed out that you'll lose viewers after a minute, so keep the videos short (less than a minute), but a video is not required.

Promotional tactics for your Kickstarter include Ad Spends (Facebook and social media); public relations, which should be free; and to look at what your contemporaries have done.

Variant covers should mean more promotion.

Stretch goals can cost you more money, but are also compelling to backers to help you raise more money so you need to find a balance.

They also pointed to the creator resources that are available on the Kickstarter website.

Having just finished our 200th episode of On the Air with Powers Squared, I thought perhaps there were things to learn at Podcasting 101which took place at the downtown library, slightly more than a hop and skip from the Convention Center. Hosted by Jonathan Eigen (Sagas and Sass), the panel also featured Tara Lynne (Geek Saga Entertainment), as well as two others not on the original description of the panel, Amin Javadi (House Manwoody) and Varun Gupta (Demon Slayer Podcast).

Promising at first, they had a list of topics, most of which are the basics of podcasting and I'll relate them to our own, since I'm unfamiliar with any of the panel's shows.

1) Choosing a topic: What is your podcast about? In the case of OAPS, our primary topic is comic books, Powers Squared, but also other books and creators.

2) Finding Host/Co-Hosts: That seemed easy for us. My son Paul and I co-host the show, though Trevor does appear from time to time. We've had a few shows where the artists behind the comic book have run the show without us. This happened on this past Friday night, when Julia Canon, Rachel Wells and Jen Moreno did their own show with Paul and I in San Diego. Watch it here when it goes up on YouTube on Wednesday.

3) Planning Episodes: Do you script them or do you wing them? For us it depends on the show and if we have a guest or not.

4) Recording Equipment: Self-explanatory. The one thing they recommended was a good headset. Though you will need a mike (they recommended a snowball if you're just starting out.) We have a mike, two lights and a green screen but we're also doing video at the same time.

5) How Often Do You Record: They seem to recommend once a week. OAPS goes live at 6pm every Friday night.

6) Editing Your Podcast: The rule of thumb for every hour of content it takes three hours to edit. Paul does some editing on the audio but the video goes up as is, with some exception.

7) Distributing: They listed Google Podcasts, iTunes, and Spotify, though as they noted other platforms will pick them up as well. OAPS starts on Podbean and then goes out to 10 other platforms, including the ones they named, as well as on our website:

8) Promoting Your Podcast; and 9) Monetizing You Podcast: They were running out of time and decided to put these two last topics together, basically skipping over 8) in favor of 9). Of course, I was most interested in 8), the reason I sat through this panel in the first place. So, I'm coming away with nada on this. We're always looking for how to get the word out.

The last work-related panel I attended was Small Press Publishing 101. Again, this one took place outside the convention center at the Omni Hotel. I was going in part because Gamal Hennessey was going to be on the panel. I backed his original Kickstarter and we've had Gamal on the show. From Gamal's introduction, he only found out he was doing the panel because he searched his name in the online program. He was hoping to talk to the host at the panel to find out what he was supposed to talk about, but as it turns out Gamal was the only one to show.

He is more than capable of talking about this topic. He broke making a comic book down to three major steps:

1) Pre-production: What is Your Story about? Figuring out who the Ideal Reader of your book is and how to reach them. This involves having an idea and finding an audience to read it. This includes the demographics of your reader (sex, gender, race, etc.); Their psychographics, or how they see the world; the genre of the book; Generations or age category of your reader; and format of the book: print or digital.

[Editor's Note: we did what he doesn't recommend doing, and started making a comic book without knowing who the audience would be for it. Don't do it that way.]

Where is the money going to come from, as in who is going to pay to produce the book? Gamal pointed out a lot of that has to do with your relationship to the IP. If you're the owner, then you must figure out if it comes out of your pocket or some form of crowdfunding. If you're doing something freelance, then someone should be paying you.

Who is going to do the parts you cannot do, as in if you're a writer, who is going to do the art and vice-versa? And art is usually more than one person. Gamal listed out: Artist, Inker, colorist, letterer, and production designer.

You also should have an accountant and an attorney, at least according to Gamal.

The final ingredient in your production team is the editor who can change the grand vision of the book to fit with who is going to read your book.

2) Production: The actual putting together the book from writing to art.

3) Distribution: Digital or print or both. You can self-distribute or you can try to get your book into stores using one of three distributors: Diamond, Lunar or Simon & Schuster. If you get say Diamond to distribute your book, they do it on consignment. After publishing the title in the Preview publication, Diamond will then tell you to send them so many books. Ideally, they would go from your printer to the Diamond warehouse. He warned against using a Chinese printer, which is a fairly popular choice, due to the extra time it takes and the added steps involved, including shipping. You might remember a year or so ago when there were ships waiting to be unloaded.

Digital takes less to get going, as you already should have your finished project formatted.

He recommended that you buy his book The Business of Independent Comic Book Publishing in a digital format so it would be easier to search for topics. He also has an online community of comic book creators called Comics Connection, which he also recommended as there have been changes in the industry not covered in his book.

In response to a question asked in the audience about licensing, Gamal broke down the questions that you should be asked:

What is the property?

Where are they going to sell it?

How long are they going to sell it?

How much are they going to charge for it?

You should ask for a 20% minimum guarantee upfront with a quarterly royalty report and an audit provision. If they are under reporting/paying then they should have to pay a penalty and for the auditor.

You also want to know if the license is exclusive or non-exclusive. An exclusive license should be more expensive than an non-exclusive one.

As far as your business, he recommended an LLC or Limited Liability Company. That way if there are any monetary issues, they are attached to your company not you personally. With a partnership, they are attached to the business and to you personally as well.

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