Targeting Austin 2015 – July 30th, 2015

You know how life can get you down, then it tries to kick your teeth in? That’s what I’m experiencing. How am I coping? This is me right now.


But let’s not fully give in to the urge to watch everything burn. I still have to concentrate on writing. Therefore, I’ve concocted a writing plan. One that should get me to the Austin Film Festival with something to show for myself besides a 100% completion of Borderlands 2 with all six characters.


Over the next 13 weeks I need to make significant progress 1) rewriting my pilot, 2) starting my feature, 3) scripting some comic book shorts, 4) plotting a new spec and 5) starting a new pilot. Here’s that plan.

Week One (July 27 – August 2)

New Pilot: Brainstorm Concepts – Although I still haven’t finished my previous pilot, it’s time to start thinking about a new pilot. As per my M.O., I’ll come up with three ideas and test them on friends.

Spec: Watch Turn Season 1 – And despite any results for my script of The 100, I have to start thinking about a new show to spec. That’s why I’ll watch at least 3 episodes of a show each week this summer. This week I’ll check out AMC’s show about revolutionary war spies.

Week Two (August 3-9)

Feature: Revisit Premise – I took a UCLA feature writing class last quarter and wrote a 3-page outline and scripted the first act. I’ll revisit my idea. Why go so far back? It’s missing a fresh component. I don’t love it and this is too much work to produce something I don’t love.

Short Comic: Script Issue #1 – I have to finish a short script for a 4-8 page comic. And I need to contact that illustrator I met at San Diego Comic-Con.

Spec: Watch Halt & Catch Fire Season 1- I know next to nothing about this show (which is very exciting).

Week Three (August 10-16)

Pilot: Story/Structure Pass – At the start of the year I wrote a pilot in a UCLA Extension class. I loved the class (and I adore my classmates) but my pilot was very rough. I need to go back and methodically rebuild and reinforce the script. This week I concentrate on the story/structure. Without a sound structure I cannot build a masterpiece.

New Pilot: Characters – Who are my principal players?

Spec: Watch Jane The Virgin Season 1 – This might be my “out of left field” spec idea.

Week Four (August 17-23)

Feature: Act One Outline – If the beginning isn’t rock solid it’s all a waste of time.

Short Comic: Script Issue #2 – I hope to send off my second script to that second illustrator I met at SDCC.

Spec: Watch Banshee Season 1 – I know nothing about this show… except that they just cancelled it. I should pick a different show for this week.

Week Five (August 24-30)

Pilot: Activity Pass – No idea what Pilar is referring to here but maybe it’s to remove “sit n’ talk” scenes.

New Pilot: Conflicts – Time to pit everyone against each other.

Spec: Watch iZombie Season 1 – Feeling confident I’ll spec this. It just checks off so many of the right boxes.

Week Six (August 31-September 6)

Feature: Act Two-A Outline – Gotta keep digging holes for my protagonist, put them up a tree, throw stones and all that.

Short Comic: Script Issue #3 – Wrap up my third story (and find more illustrators).

Spec: Watch Agent Carter Season 1 – An odds on favorite to spec after last week’s pick.

Week Seven (September 7-13)

Pilot: Character Pass – Every character has to stand out or get out.

New Pilot: Break Stories – Time to brainstorm potential plots.

Spec: Watch Gotham Season 1 – Can I find a story I’d like to tell before throwing in a new baddie? Maybe I can do something about baby Bane.

Week Eight (September 14-20)

Feature: Act Two-B Outline – If “all hope is lost” then this outline will be cooking!

Short Comic: Script Issue #4 – Put that fourth script to bed.

Spec: Watch The Flash Season 1 – I am VERY confident WB will have this on their approved spec list next year.

Week Nine (September 21-27)

Pilot:  Tone/Format Pass – Consistency is the word of the week.

New Pilot: A-B-C Storylines – Before I can weave the stories I need to select the proper threads.

Spec: Watch Orphan Black Season 3 – Was it as bad as I remember?

Week Ten (September 28-October 4)

Feature: Act Three Outline – With this newly completed outline I should be ready to jump back into scripting this beast.

Short Comic: Script Issue #5 – Rockin’ n’ rollin’ on my fifth script.

Spec: Wildcard – A last chance to consider any shows for a future spec.

Week Eleven (October 5-11)

Pilot: Dialog Pass – Freshen up the patter.

New Pilot: Note Cards – Scenes and sequences on notes cards, note cards on the wall.

Spec: Sift Through Ideas – Ruminate on my next spec. Will review note cards with episode ideas.

Week Twelve (October 12-18)

Short Comic: Script Issue #6 – My sixth script done! Would also love, love, LOVE to have at least one of these posted online by this week.

Spec: Narrow Down Possibilities – No more than three potentials by this week.

Week Thirteen (October 19-25)

Pilot: Clean Up Script – When I’m at Austin and someone asks, “hey, can I read your pilot?” I want to whip out my phone and reply, “what email should I send it to?” F**k yeah!

New Pilot: Elevator Pitch – I need one sentence that gets them hooked.

Week Fourteen (October 26-November 1)

Austin – I should be ready. I better be ready. Am I ready?


And that’s my plan. Fool proof? No. Overly ambitious? Yes. Now all I gotta do is…


Posted in Writing

Con Virgin No More – July 23rd, 2015

As San Diego Comic-Con fades from memory (along with this damn nerd cold), I contemplate the year of cons that was. See, a little over eighteen months ago I decided to become a comics creator. One of my first orders of business was to immerse myself in the world and that meant going to cons.


Rose City Comic Con was the perfect first con. It was friendly, easily navigated and the mecca of comics. Seriously, I got to meet Brian Michael Bendis, Kelly Sue DeConnick, Matt Fraction, Skottie Young, Jim Zub, G. Willow Wilson, Greg Rucka… that’s a murder’s row of comic creators.

Long Beach Comic Con is my local(ish) con and meeting Babs Tarr was the best. I was so smitten that I bought this print from her.


Also, LBCC might be the best place for me to meet potential artists, or at least meeting artists local to me.

Long Beach Comic Expo is LBCC’s baby brother, except that this year they moved it to a larger space so it’s more like LBCC’s twin. Not really sure why we have both but I’m not complaining. It just gives me another excuse to get some great grub from Beechwood Brewing BBQ.

Emerald City Comicon was huge and friendly and I lost my mind hunting exclusives but I got every comic I targeted including this much sought after Lady Killer comic.


And the Artist Alley was HUGE! If you were gonna skip SDCC but still wanted a robust con experience, head to Seattle young (wo)man.

WonderCon is another local(ish) con with AMAZING television panels. Seriously, if you want to get into TV you need to attend WonderCon. One thing: next year this convention is moving from Anahiem to Downtown Los Angeles. Already I’ve heard A LOT of grumbling from folk on the con circuit. “I hate Downtown LA,” “it won’t be as special,” and “I REALLY hate Downtown LA.” Let me be your ambassador. I will help you find a cool bar, a great spot to eat, someplace to buy your crack (that’s a joke… but it’s really easy to buy crack in Downtown LA). I just want you to have an open mind and be ready to discover what’s awesome about LA.

Phoenix Comicon was a total crap shoot. Holy, it’s a pretty great con. It is definitely more for locals but it’s also an omnidirectional nerd explosion. I mean, they had a whole wing of the convention center devoted to horror, including a haunted house. Also, thanks to a truly awesome girl I met there, I discovered tons of cool places to eat, drink, and beat the heat. Would I go back? Maybe not next year but when I have something worth tabling, yeah, you bet.

San Diego Comic-Con was a beast. Honestly, it’s all a blur. I didn’t get into Hall H, I barely picked up any exclusives, I’m not sure what I did there other than attend some panels and network a ton. The best thing I did was the Creator Connection. Here’s hoping some of those meeting bear comic fruit.


So what about next season? I’ll be at Long Beach Comic Con for at least a day. I’m already locked in for Rose City, where my ex-roomie will be tabling solo for the first time. I will also hit Long Beach Comic Expo for a day. I will absolutely be at WonderCon. Emerald City is a strong maybe. Will I got to Phoenix? Maybe not (I’ll get into that in a minute). And then there is SDCC. Do I go again?


So what will be different for 2016? I want to hit up a Canadian con. Crazy, right, but I’m going to do it. The only real questions is which Canadian con should I hit up? Toronto Comic Arts Festival? Calgary Expo? Montreal Comiccon? You tell me… BY VOTING!

Which Canadian comic book convention should I attend in 2016?

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Also, let me apologize for that blog post title. I couldn’t resist. I’m feeling particularly juvenile this week and it’s not just because I’m playing tons of Borderlands 2 on my PS4… or maybe it is.

Posted in Industry

SDCC 2015 Best Cosplay – July 16th, 2015

Hands down the best cosplay of San Diego Comic-Com 2015.


Yeah, I know, you were expecting a longer post but 1) I’m sick and 2) the day job is about to start sucking extra hard so the next month or two of posts will be very succinct. Hey, go out and enjoy the summer.

Posted in Off-Topic

SDCC 2015 T-Minus 1 – July 8th, 2015

Took the train (relaxing). Got to the hotel (far from downtown but nice). Set up the feeding station.


Don’t have Preview Night ticket, so we might hit up Bali Hai.

Tomorrow, I’m unstoppable.


Posted in Industry

SDCC 2015 T-Minus 2 – July 7th, 2015

I just figured out my SDCC meal plan.


Tony + Tiger’s Milk = The Unstoppable Tony


Look out San Diego, I’m coming for ya!

Tiger Out of Cage

Posted in Industry

Patriotic Animals & A Bunch of Genres – July 3rd, 2015

Happy 4th of July!


Are you ready to exercise your rights? I need you to express your opinion.

Next week I’m pitching at San Diego Comic Con.


Mostly I’ll be meeting with artists about collaborating on a series of 4-page stories. It’s an anthology I’ll write consisting of 30 shorts loosely about betrayal, revenge and redemption. Each story will be in a different genre.  So far I’ve chosen…

  • Werewolf
  • Teen Romance
  • Inside the Body
  • Duel / Shoot-Out
  • Cops & Robbers
  • Biblical
  • Animals

All over the map? Yes. That’s the point. I want to stretch my storytelling muscles.

Now here’s where I need your help. I need to shorten my list of potential genres ASAP. Use any or all of the following to help you cut this list: 1) What’s a good fit for me? 2) What do you love? 3) What do you hate?

I don’t care which criteria you use. Don’t take more than 5-10 minutes. Don’t think too hard. Just let instinct and reflex take over and then hit me up in the comments, via Twitter, whatever.


Ready? Here’s that list.

  • Alcoholism / Addiction
  • Alien Encounter / Invasion
  • Arial Combat
  • Atomic Age
  • B-Movie Horror
  • Bad Girls
  • Ballet / Dance
  • Beach Party
  • Bikers
  • Disease / Outbreak / Biological Attack
  • Broadway / Backstage
  • Cannibalism
  • Cattle Drive
  • Kaiju
  • Chase / Hunt
  • Christmas
  • Civil War
  • Colonial / Empire
  • Coming of Age
  • Conspiracy Thriller
  • Cyber Punk
  • Demonic Possession
  • Detective / Private Eye
  • Disaster / End of the World
  • Erotic Thriller
  • Espionage / Spy
  • Extraordinary Romance
  • Fairy Tale
  • Family
  • Mad Doctor / Frankenstein
  • Frontier
  • Gangster / Mafia
  • Ghost
  • Girls with Guns
  • Greek Myth
  • Gunfighters
  • Haunted House
  • Historical Adventure
  • Horror
  • Indian War
  • Investigative Reporting
  • Jungle Epic
  • Legal / Courtroom
  • Lost World
  • Martial Arts
  • Medical
  • Modern Warfare
  • Mountain Climbing
  • Mystery
  • Noir
  • Other Dimensions
  • Outlaws
  • Period Drama
  • Pirate / Swashbuckling
  • Political Thriller
  • Post-Apocalyptic
  • Super Powers
  • Pre-Historic
  • Prison Escape
  • Prisoners of War
  • Psychic Powers
  • Reincarnation
  • Revolutionary War
  • Robots / Cyborgs / Androids
  • Roman Empire
  • Romantic Comedy
  • Samurai
  • Satanic
  • School Days
  • Seafaring
  • Serial Killer
  • Sex Comedy
  • Slasher
  • Soap Opera
  • Space Adventure
  • Spaghetti Western
  • Sports
  • Submarine
  • Supernatural
  • Surf
  • Sword & Sorcery
  • Techno-Thriller
  • Time Travel
  • Toys
  • Treasure Hunt
  • Undercover
  • Utopian Disaster
  • Vampires
  • Vice
  • Virtual Reality
  • Western
  • Witchcraft
  • Women in Prison
  • Women’s Friendship
  • World War One
  • World War Two

Oh, and if you’re an artist come find me at SDCC. I’ll be at the Comic Creator Connection Thursday night, then roaming the halls until Sunday. Here’s what I look like (if I were in a comic).


I love my new business cards. Illustration by Michele Melcher.

Posted in Writing

Slamming The Brakes – July 2nd, 2015

Fun forgotten fact: the movie Pi submitted to Sundance twice.


The film was shot over the fall of 1996. Aronofsky submitted the film for the 1997 Sundance Film Festival. He got in but pulled out at the last-minute. Why? Because he didn’t want to ruin the film by rushing to meet a deadline. He knew he had something special. He wanted to take his time to get it right. He submitted again for the 1998 fest, he got in again, and this time he won the Directing Prize.


Had he forced the film to meet the shorter deadline, he might have ended up a lesser Shane Carruth.

*for the record, I’m remembering this from a documentary or a PBS special on indie film that I saw over a decade ago. As such, it’s nowhere to be found on today’s internet. Weird, huh?

I mention this because I missed the first Oni Press open submission window.


Why? Because I was working harder on my market analysis than the script and that’s just wrong. The story always comes first. Period. Full stop. I could have pressed myself to make the deadline but I’d just be falling victim to the sunken cost fallacy. I love my story. It’s special. I should take the time to get it right. Then my submission will be undeniable.

When (if) Oni reopens the submission window in September, I’ll have a polished pitch packet. Until then I’m working on a comic anthology pitch for San Diego Comic Con, but that’s for another post.

Posted in Writing

Consumed June 2015 – June 30th, 2015

I declare June the cruelest month (screw you, Eliot). I cleared half a dozen deadlines by the 5th, I still have three more projects to complete and damnit, the little things been sweating me. Oy! Even my spirit animal be quittin’ on me!


Here’s what I consumed…

iZombie – I’ve been unfairly comparing this show to my beloved Veronica Mars but each episode has improved upon the previous. How often can you say that? And I’ve gone a whole season without posting sexy pics of Aly Michalka, who plays the role of Peyton. Pics like the one below.


Friends – I’m up to the part where Rachel had her baby. Still enjoying it but I can sense that the end is near.

Agents of SHIELD
The Blacklist – Two seasons and we’re radically changing the show. Hmm. Looks like it’s about to take a turn for the darker. If so, I’m along for the ride.

Brooklyn Nine-Nine
Attack on Titan
The Last Man on Earth – I don’t write half-hour but if I did I’d be crushing this show.

Modern Family
The Americans – I didn’t enjoy season three as much as the previous two but there were episodes that I still can’t shake.

Better Call Saul – It’s okay to say I was let down, right?


Brace yourself. I have a confession to make. I’m having a country music moment.


Easy. Relax. Breathe. It’s not all about hot girls in cowboy boots (although that is a particular weakness of mine).


…where was I? Oh, right, my new found fascination with country music. Allow me to explain. It all started with a cover by Sturgill Simpson. That lead to picking up the album and loving it.

Then this really cute girl in my book club suggested Robert Ellis. At first I resisted but again I was won over.

Then I started wandering around the country music aisle on my own and I kept hearing about Nikki Lane and her excellent album.

Yes, I’m officially on a country kick but can you blame me? Nikki is crazy talented but also…


I mean…





Yeah, let’s get back on topic.

Mislaid by Nell Zink – I enjoyed this book with a devilish glee.


My Education by Susan Choi – Still reading it. Have to finish soon so I can discuss it with the cute girl from group.

Doctor Spektor
Lazarus – A very slow burn but I’m sticking it out.

Real West
Queen & Country – Goddamn if this isn’t one of my favorites. Just reread the first three collections and I totally dig the different art styles by Steve Rolston, Brian Hurtt and Leandro Fernandez respectively.



The Secret History of D.B. Cooper
Manifest Destiny – I freaking love this book (please keep getting better).

Injustice: Gods Among Us Year Four
Meteor Men
Hellbreak – I wish I had come up with this idea.

Princess Ugg
The Sixth Gun – Not what I was expecting. Liking it, and totally surprised. Awesome!


Avengers: Age of Ultron
Jurassic World – This was a bad movie.


It’s okay that we all liked it but let’s not delude ourselves. I mean this is a thousand times better, right?


Far Cry 4 – I need to finish this just so I can move on to Arkham Knight.


Posted in General

APB: Hannibal Lecter Missing – June 25th, 2015

I missed my chance. I wanted to write a spec of Hannibal this year but backed away because I found a better suited show and now they’ve cancelled the best television on NBC. Honestly, I’m not sure I could have done Dr. Lecter justice, and heaven help me if Hannibal found me to be rude.

What ya cooking, Dr. Lecter?

What ya cooking, Dr. Lecter?

Did you watch Hannibal? Of course you didn’t. No one did. You should. It is the most singular show on broadcast television, maybe all of television. It is a show that puts dialog and character in the back seat so it can highlight hypnotic imagery, fever dream sound design and a twisted psychology.


As I told everyone, it’s like your favorite foreign film morphed into an awesome television show. It got deep under your skin, burrowed past your eyes and took root in your soul. Yeah, it was a show that would f**k you up.


Is all hope lost? No. There’s a vocal push for another outlet to pick up the show, and as Amazon has exclusive streaming rights, it’s a no brainer. Also, I’m further heartened that the show hasn’t canceled their San Diego Comic-Con panel. You bet your bloody grin I’ll be there.


So don’t be rude or the good doctor might be seeing you next.


Posted in Industry, Writing

To Write Better, Listen More – June 18th, 2015


We live in the Golden Age of the podcast and we should thank this man.


Meaning Ira Glass, not Fred Armisen.

Because of podcasts, it’s possible to learn SO. MUCH. MORE about any topic. If you’re an aspiring screenwriter, you absolutely should be listing to these awesome podcasts.

The Nerdist Writers Panel focuses on the television writers room but every so often they’ll have a feature writer. Here’s an interview with Buried screenwriter Chris Sparling.


Scriptnotes is the best screenwriting podcast in the land. They tackle everything from formatting trends to industry news. This is a “must listen” for any writer.


Want a TV writing podcast that’s both in-depth and off the wall? You can’t go wrong with the Children of Tendu.


If you prefer a pushy interviewer trying to dig secrets out of filmmakers (that’s why my buddy Ted *LOVES* this podcast), then you must check out The Q & A.


Looking for a friendlier interviewer of screenwriters? If so, On The Page is your jam.


Do you want to be so appalled that you’re crying from laughter? Subscribe to The Black List Table Reads and start with Balls Out (and thank me later).


I love the Writers Guild Foundation. They’re awesome, they have an amazing library and they have a podcast too.


Lastly, there’s the Austin Film Festival On Story podcast. They’re the best fest for writers and they present many of their panels in podcast form. If you like what you hear, sign up to attend.


Subscribe. Listen. Learn.

Posted in Writing