Check Out & Support “Surfer’s Paradise”: A Mindblowing Indie Sci-fi TV Series

Hey y’all! I’m just dropping in really quick to tell you about this really BOSS ass indie sci-fi pilot, “Surfer’s Paradise”! The premise is SUPER cool, and they’re currently raising money to finish the series!

In the meantime, though: check out the blurb and the trailer!


Humans dropped the ball; the planet is destroyed and at war, and the Saperi—enlightened artificial intelligence—are trying to piece the world back together.

AI have separated themselves from humans by building a wall around their own utopian district. The AI New District is lush and safe, while the Old District (where humans live) is plagued by war, famine, and death.

But the AI allow a limited number of humans to apply to join them in the New District. Ben, a human who lost his family, chooses to apply to live among the AI in the New District. His trial is a process called The Judgement.

CLICK HERE TO WATCH THE TRAILER!

Why Won’t Anybody Publish Your Novel?

When you start out as a new writer, you have this romantic idea that you’ll finish your masterpiece and send it out to agents and publisher and you’ll see the offers rolling in. The reality is very different. After years of struggling through and editing every tiny detail until it’s absolutely perfect, you’re met with rejection after rejection. It isn’t always a reflection of your work, publishers get so many submissions that they will often cut the pile down based on the tiniest details. If you’re not getting anywhere with your writing, it might be for one of these reasons.


The Book Is No Good

One of the biggest hurdles you need to overcome as a writer is being able to bin your own work. When I first started out, I was very attached to everything that I wrote. If something didn’t work I would spend hours on it, trying to make it into something worth reading. The truth is, sometimes you just can’t. There isn’t a writer alive that comes out with something brilliant every time they put pen to paper. Everybody writes things that just don’t work. Knowing when to admit this and move on to something else is a difficult thing to learn, but it will improve your writing when you do. Don’t get rid of anything completely, you might be able to do something with it later, but don’t keep flogging a dead horse if the book isn’t working.


The Book Isn’t Finished

It’s basically impossible to know when a novel is finished, and you can never really say that it’s completely done. But you can get it close enough to be published. However, a common mistake that people make is they send it off for publication before it’s ready. Even though you’ve spent endless amounts of time editing, there’s still work to be done. The best way to know is to have as many people as possible read it. They’ll be able to tell you whether you need to do more work on it. If you’ve gone through the entire novel a few times and you’ve made hardly any changes, you’re probably there.


It’s Been Done

Another misconception that a lot of writers make is that their book will sell because it’s similar to other best sellers. Since the release of books like the Hunger Games series, young adult, dystopian novels are all the rage. But that doesn’t mean you can write a carbon copy of the Hunger Games with a few tweaks and get a publishing deal. It is possible for you to capitalize on the popularity of a genre or style, but you need to have something completely fresh and new to bring to the table. Using the same themes is fine but if your characters are predictable and you haven’t tackled that theme from a different angle, you won’t get anywhere.


Formatting

You wouldn’t think that the formatting really has anything to do with you, but it could stop you from getting published. When you’re submitting samples to publishers, they often have very specific and strict guidelines on how to submit the work. Not following them will probably get you struck off straight away. If you’re a bit of a technophobe, consider taking a few Microsoft Word training classes so you can get the specifications exactly right. If a publisher opens the document and you haven’t followed their advice, they probably won’t even read it most of the time.


Plot Synopsis

Most submissions ask for the first few chapters and a plot synopsis. Writers will focus on going through those first couple of sample chapters with a fine tooth comb until every detail is perfect, but they’ll neglect the synopsis. If the publisher likes the sample chapter, then they’ll read the synopsis but if it’s confusing and disorganized, then they might not move forward from there. It can be difficult to describe the entire plot of a book in a succinct way, but you’ll just have to practice. Decide on what the main themes and plot points that make up the essence of the novel are, and focus on them. If you get bogged down in the backstory of every single character, things will get muddled and publishers will be put off.


Choosing The Wrong Publishers

Writers often think that the more publishers they send their work to, the more likely they are to get somewhere with it. I wish it were that simple, but it isn’t. Publishers all have a specialty and they’re usually pretty specific. If you want to be successful, you need to spend a little time researching publishers and find ones that work with genres and styles that are similar to yours. Most publishing companies will have a page that shows information about exactly what they are and aren’t looking for. Not reading them is only going to waste your time and theirs because you’ll be sending people samples of a novel that they’ll never be interested in.


Your COVER Letter

Before they even get to your sample, publisher’s will read your cover letter. If they aren’t impressed, they’re likely to move on without even reading the sample. The function of a cover letter is to give the publisher more information about you and your work. You need to sell yourself. Start out with your credentials, and don’t leave anything out. Any creative writing qualifications you might have, and any work you’ve had published in the past, whether it’s fiction or nonfiction. From there you need to tell them why your book is going to sell. Who is your target audience and why is your novel going to stand out from all of the others on the market? You also need to include a lot of smaller details which people often forget, like the word count and some contact details for yourself. People often leave these things out and publishers will see it as a bad sign if you do.

You can follow all of these steps and still get rejections. It’s just part of the process. The important thing is that you don’t give up and you’ll get there in the end.

NaNoWriMo Kick Off! Plans & Day 1-2 Progress

So after becoming a mama and going through the typical first month hell with my newborn, things are finally starting to level out. I think of the first few months as the original “take-off”, and now I feel as though I might finally be reaching a cruising altitude (I’m hoping, lol).

Having said that, I am ecstatic to be back on the blog and comin’ atcha with this year’s NaNoWriMo challenge!

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My 2014 NaNoWriMo Challenge

Soo, I’ve got three major (and impossible) writing tasks ahead of me for this month:

1. Get through the rest of “The Final Page: The Second Book of Ezekiel”. I have over 76,000 words at the moment, and I realize that that’s already a full length novel, but believe it or not, I have more to write in! I’d had nearly 150,000 words at one point, but ended up tossing half of it out for a much needed revamp. Phew! In any case, this month is the push to fill in the gaps!

2. Write another 60,000 words for “Ronin / Hegemon: The Third Book of Ezekiel”. Okay, so for this one, I already have over 83,000 words. Still, I need the story to make sense, lol! So I’ll be working on this book too, and I admit: this book is so much less pressure than The Final Page. Not sure why… maybe because nanowrimo2014I’m not ready to publish it quite yet? In any case, I like working on this one because it reminds me how to actually enjoy the writing process. Ah, the preservation of a writer’s innocence… we underestimate how important that really is!

3. Stay on top of my blogging! This month not only am I challenging myself to set a strong habit of writing fiction 2000 words per day, but I’m also trying to keep up on my blogging. In addition to THIS blog, I also have two other websites (with blogs) to build / run (yeah, it’s a lot, so I’m taking my time with it), and I’m trying to make a daily habit of posting SOMEWHERE four times a week, even if it’s a teeny post saying “hi” or whatever. Yeah, I know… but support this foolish endeavor anyway! 😉

4. Make a writing habit of writing AT LEAST one freelance article a week. As I’ve mentioned a million times, my freelance work has picked up significantly, and there are so many cool articles that I’d love to write and share on my blog! So we’ll see how this works out, lol.

So, considering my goals, by next Sunday I should have a righteous update, right? I should have written at least 14,000 more words, have posted at least 4 blog posts, and have written (and submitted) a freelance article… right? Lol, oh Lord… Pray for me! And also, feel free to track my daily progress by checking out my NaNoWriMo widget in the bar on the right!

So how about you, dear readers and writers? What are your goals for NaNoWriMo? Also, are you trying to use NaNoWriMo to set a daily, consistent habit for your writing? Shout out your plans and dreams here! Happy writing, good luck, and as always…

Keep it indie!
<3 Colby

Brave New Souls: Black Sci-Fi and Fantasy Writers of the 21st Century

BRAVENEWSOULS LOGO DVDAs a part of the running theme of #WeNeedDiverseBooks month, I’m delighted to present an eye-opening documentary about the amazing and arduous journeys of successful Black creators through the comic, publishing, tv, and film industries. The documentary is called “Brave New Souls: Black Sci-Fi and Fantasy Writers of the 21st Century”.

The producer and filmmaker, Brandon Easton, thought it was about time to shed light on how creators of colors are actively building a counter-narrative against the presiding stereotypes that African Americans do not read, write, or create works within a sci-fi and fantasy context.

Check out the BRAVE NEW SOULS documentary today, and have your world expanded!

About the “Brave New Souls” Documentary

BraveNewSoulsDVDcoverThis documentary explores the thoughts, goals and inspirations of a new generation of Black creators in graphic novels, television, cinema, literature and digital media. Producer / director Brandon M. Easton wanted to shine much-needed light on new Black writers whose contributions and market awareness have been buried under the onslaught of the myriad of entertainment options in the 21st century.

Brandon also wanted to provide a window into their creative process and expose both aspiring writers and potential fans to incredibly imaginative, witty and sophisticated storytelling that challenges your perception of reality.

Brave New Souls explores the various creative industries and their spearheads through 8 compelling chapters:

Chapter 1: Inspiration — 2:46
Chapter 2: Breaking In — 7:01
Chapter 3: The Politics of Being a Black Creator — 10:14
Chapter 4: Starting a Business — 17:48
Chapter 5: Where Are the Fans? — 24:30
Chapter 6: The Industry — 33:01
Chapter 7: Writing for Rookies — 48:05
Chapter 8: The Future of Black Speculative Fiction — 54:30

Check Out the Awesome Trailer for Brave New Souls!

BUY Brave New Souls TODAY!

Get your copy for just $7.99 at GumRoad by clicking the logo below:

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And it’s also coming soon on Amazon Instant Video!

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About Brandon

BrandonEastonprofileBrandon M. Easton is a professional writer, screenwriter, and educator based in Los Angeles, CA. Born and raised in Baltimore, MD, Easton is a graduate of Ithaca College and Boston University’s prestigious Screenwriting program. With over fifteen years of experience, Brandon has penned articles for the Boston Herald, Crashpad Magazine, and a variety of other publications. After teaching in NYC public schools for six years, he decided to go for his screenwriting dreams in Hollywood and eventually scored a writing gig on Warner Bros. newThunderCats TV series and Hasbro’s new show Transformers: Rescue Bots.

Brandon produces a popular podcast titled Writing for Rookies – the only show dedicated to comic book and Hollywood scriptwriters. His published work includes Arkanium and Transformers: Armada for Dreamwave Productions, a column for Blacksci-fi.com, and Shadowlaw, his newest major project that was released in January 2012 to much acclaim and an immediate sell-out from Arcana/Platinum Studios.

Shadowlaw garnered coverage in publications/outlets like USA Today, Wired, Forbes and Ain’t It Cool News. Easton has been named the new writer of the international franchise Armarauders as well as a guest writer for the new Watson and Holmes comic series. In 2012, Easton signed a multi-graphic novel writing deal with LION FORGE COMICS, a new transmedia company debuting in April, 2013.

Easton recently won the 2013 GLYPH AWARD for BEST WRITER because of his work on the Shadowlaw graphic novel.

In 2014, Easton was nominated for five GLYPH AWARDS for his work on the WATSON AND HOLMES comic book series as well as the MILES AWAY original graphic novel. In May 2014, Easton won three Glyph Awards: STORY OF THE YEAR, BEST WRITER and the FAN AWARD.

He was also nominated for an EISNER AWARD for his work on Watson and Holmes issue #6 for BEST SINGLE ISSUE in 2014.

CONNECT WITH BRANDON AT:

His TWITTER
His BLOG
His IMDB Page

List of Writer’s Resources in Los Angeles & Beyond (for Aspiring Producers too!)

listsI love lists. Lists are amazing. They’re easy to make, shareable, and editable. I’ve only been in Long Beach / Los Angeles County for about 2 weeks, but I’m already starting to sink my fangs into all the resources I can for aspiring screenwriters and producers.

I decided to keep a growing list of everything I find, so as I find more, I’ll add them and share them here on my blog! In the meanwhile, enjoy and explore! I only hope that this will make *your* creative journey a little easier! 😉

Coffee-Tea Shops Where Writers Congregate / Just Plain Ole Great Places to Work

coffee shopWriting can get lonely, so if you want a great environment to both get work done and commune with fellow writers, check out these spots below!

It’s a Grind (Long Beach)

 

Great Writer’s & Filmmaker’s Groups to Join

meetupBuilding a community is important for creatives in general, but especially if you’re trying to break into the industry. I’ve done some footwork locating interesting meet ups around town that you might want to check out.

Okay so granted, I’ve only just joined these groups, so they are still “under review” in terms of being places to build community. As I said, this list is ever-growing and ever-changing, so stay tuned!

Los Angeles Film and TV Meetup Group

The Scriptwriter’s Network

Writer’s Blok LA

Beyond Baroque Screenwriter’s Workshop

Writers with Drinks LA

The Original Los Angeles Writers Group

LA TV Writers

Hollywood Jumpstart

Great Orgs and Conferences (for volunteer work)!

conferenceWhy volunteer? Because there are so many benefits to it, not only for giving back, but also for networking, gaining invaluable knowledge, and getting into expensive conferences for free! Every conference, pitch fest, video game convention, and more needs volunteers, so don’t miss the opportunity to start your career growth!

The Scriptwriter’s Network

The Writer’s Guild Foundation

Writer’s Guild of America, West

The Great American Pitchfest

Trust me, MANY more are coming, no worries, lol!

Awesome Books to Read, E-courses to Take, and Blogs to Follow!

bookstackAnd of course, some self-teaching is always great. When you’ve got some quiet time, or when you’re traveling, or when you’re burnt out on writing and producing 24-7, check out these books and resources. They’ll help you hone your skills, develop important aspects of your creative portfolio, and will give you some great insight from industry pros who’ve already been where you want to go!

Hollywood Game Plan by Carole Kirschner
This book is a creative’s manna. Breaking into Hollywood has suddenly become so much more probable… READ THIS BOOK, YOU FOOL!

Good in a Room by Stephanie Palmer
This book is absolutely essential for you to up your game on pitching, self-presentation, and selling your ideas in Hollywood. Writer’s don’t only need to write well, but they also need to sell well!

Pitching Essentials E-Course by Stephanie Palmer
AMAZING e-course for developing a kick-ass pitch for your projects! Sign up, get the course… and understand what it means to be a pitching god.

Write. Publish. Repeat. by Sean Platt and Johnny B Truant
For indie writers and publishers who want to make a living doing what they love most, take it from the guys who are already doing it! Killer advice at a killer price. (Also great for screenwriters, as the principles carry over!)

How to Market a Book by Joanna Penn
One of the baddest chicks in the indie writing publishing game, Joanna Penn has created a massively successful indie publishing business off of her fiction and her non-fiction. She KNOWS how to market a book and has been in the trenches. Learn from a pro! And while we’re at it check out

The Creative Penn
Joanna wows us with her deep well of resources on indie publishing, marketing, and writing. She has an amazing podcast as well as some meaty articles on how to leverage your creative rights, be a great creative entrepreneur, and grow your personal creative business! DEFINITELY check her out!

Breakfast with Sharks
Michael Lent gives you the business in his candid rendering of Hollywood and screenwriting as an industry. He leads you through how feature film writing, selling, and buying work, what to expect, and how to maximize your chances of success as an aspiring screenwriter! Not to be missed!

The TV Writer’s Workbook
Ellen Sandler is an Emmy award-winning tv sitcom writer who knows how to write a damned good tv episode. She’s worked on Everybody Loves Raymond and Coach, so let her work on your tv writing skills! From tips on breaking down and analyzing tv episodes to tools to building your own pilot, Sandler ensures you won’t be disappointed.

And of course… more coming soon! If you have anything to add, I’d love your input! Please share! In the meantime…

Keep it indie,
<3 Colby

Rebel Ragdoll Review (Book): Hollywood Game Plan by Carole M. Kirschner

5 out of 5 Stars: HIGHLY RECOMMENDED!

hollywood game plan

So, in the spirit of recent events, I figured the next non-fiction book I’d review should be one that helps to orient newcomers to the new landscape. And boy, is this the orientation to attend! For those of you with stars in your eyes, looking to “make it” out in big bad Hollywood, you need a plan. In particular, you need a “game plan”, and this book is definitely the one to read for that.

“Hollywood Game Plan” is really one of the best books I’ve read thus far on how to make it in Hollywood. I’m following the advice of this book to the letter, and not only am I feeling WAY more prepared to take on the industry as a writer and aspiring producer, but I’m also seeing results already! In the way I see myself, in the way I’m preparing, in the way I manage my expectations and interpret my interactions in Hollywood, everything. Kirschner’s advice helps you to prepare yourself for all aspects of life in the industry (professionally, socially, mentally). From scoring an internship to preparing a creative portfolio, Hollywood Game Plan LITERALLY gives you just that: a plan you can use and execute to achieve success.

Kirschner even gives you moving tips and quality-of-life advice for Los Angeles! You really can’t beat this one with a stick. Mrs. Kirschner obviously knows her stuff, and I only hope that Hollywood has more talented, insightful, and helpful people such as herself. This is definitely a book to invest in!

Check out Hollywood Game Plan at the following sellers: Amazon, Barnes and Noble, and Kobo!

So, my game planners! Have you read this book? Did it add some firepower to your industry-breaking arsenal? Or did you find that the advice didn’t help you so much? Your thoughts, your space, so share it all below! And of course, in the meantime…

Keep it indie,
<3 Colby