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

Colby’s Creative Achievements in January 2014!

smart goal setting conceptSo, usually, I save my self-assessment for the end of the year. But this time, I decided to take a monthly inventory, not only because it makes the end of the year assessment easier to write (copy and paste, anyone?), but also because taking inventory on a short-term basis keeps me accountable. In public!

I can also check these updates against my 2014 goal list and start in on those goals I haven’t quite picked up on yet! So check out my creative achievements and steps forward I made for January and share yours too!

January 2014

january

Theme of the Month: Massive Change, Massive Launches, MASSIVE Endurance (in the face of uncertainty and chaos)

1. Moved to California! It was a really exciting, treacherous, challenging, and exhilarating two weeks, but my boyfriend and I finally made it. Originally, we planned to move to Los Angeles, but we adored Long Beach and decided on that instead! No worries, though, it’s still only 30 minutes from L.A., there’s a train that goes from Long Beach right INTO L.A., and we’re still living in L.A. County. Plus, we’re three blocks from the beach and oceanfront, so no complaints from me!

2. Released the PRINT version of Ghosts of Koa! Which was a huge challenge due to spotty internet access, being Ghosts of Koa Cover WEB-MEDIUMon a super tight budget, and being technically homeless for two weeks (was totally living at a campsite ::CRICKET::). Feel free to pick up your copy today though at Amazon! Also, it’s “matched” with the Kindle version, and you’ll get the Kindle version for FREE if you pick up the paperback!

3. Officially launched the production of the Ghosts of Koa AUDIOBOOK! With the amazing talents of Michael T Bradley on my side, we have entered into a Royalty Share agreement for this version of my novel, and he’s also looking forward to narrating the other novels as well! I sent him the manuscript at the end of January and am super excited about the forthcoming product!

4. Began to explore Los Angeles and Long Beach. There are so many resources for writers and creators here, and I unearthed quite a few! Check out my comprehensive, ever-growing list of writer and creator resources in Cali!

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KX Cotch, resident sociopath and assassin for the Alchemic Order… and he’s getting his own novella series!

5. Began working on the novella spin-off series to The Books of Ezekiel saga! So clearly, while there are many main characters in The Books of Ezekiel saga, Ezekiel is the star (hence the title). I wanted readers to spend more time with the other main characters, time that was unrelated to Zeika and her journey. And so, here it is! All of the main characters that I LOVE– Caleb, Cotch, Manja, and many others– will have their own novella series that chronicle their paths through the world of alchemy. Caleb’s and Cotch’s full seasons will be released in early 2015. Stay tuned for the others, which will be released as the main Books of Ezekiel saga progresses!

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Rebel Ragdoll’s growing one step at a time!

6. Relaunched my work on my tv and feature script portfolio and… I GOT A WRITING PARTNER! Once again, the lovely Claire Zhuang and I thought it best to combine our talents and come up with some script hotness. We’re pretty excited about what we’ve got going on, too! It’s nice to have a partner to keep you in check!

7. Started penning many other creative projects, including, 1. the next installation of The Books of Ezekiel Saga, “The Final Page: The Second Book of Ezekiel”, 2. the inaugural novel in my sci-fi thriller series “Ryden’s Lot”, 3. and SIX other seasonal installment novella series! All of these novellas will be turned into pilot scripts as well, so writing these series does double work for my novel-novella backlist and for my tv script portfolio. 😉

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I’d love to not only write a character like Aveline, pen an awesome story like Assassin’s Creed, but also DESIGN a game for both! Making this dream come true one step at a time!

8. Re-launched my work as a Freelance Writer and Casting Producer with Demand Media Studios. Being new to L.A., I needed a job, and then I remembered that I actually still have one, lol! Since taking up the part-time job at the Westchester wine shop, I had let the Casting Producer gig fall to the wayside, but now it’s time to write and produce full-time!

9. Began studying video game design and SFX for films and video games. Super excited. 😉 Hopefully by the end of 2014, I’ll be pretty well-versed in lots of aspects of video game design, SFX, and film post-production… we’ll see! Excited, nonetheless!

10. Stepped more firmly into my career as a creative entrepreneur! In addition to starting a ton of projects, I kept up with my blogging (as promised), am catching up with my vlog tv/movie review series again, got more involved with writing book reviews (terribly overdue, and I apologize to my reviewees!), and I actually started a monthly newsletter!

wgf11. Started volunteering for the Scriptwriter’s Network and the Writer’s Guild Foundation! Also trying to wedge my way into the Writer’s Guild of America! You gotta start somewhere, and the best way to start is by giving back. I’m really excited to get to know people at the events I’ll be volunteering at and to finally start getting to know my industry.

12. Joined some screenwriting meet-ups, and I’m intimidated as hell, lol. Community is important. Especially one that will hold your ass accountable for the pages you were supposed to turn in a week ago, lol. It’s also a little nerve-wracking meeting new folks for the first time, but I also really look forward to it. Can’t wait to join the community of folks who are trying to go the same direction I am! 🙂

baby!13. And last, but certainly not least… I found out I was PREGNANT! Holy. Cow. Five weeks and I didn’t have a clue. Talk about a creative achievement, lol! There really is nothing like *literally* CREATING a life inside of you, and I’m thrilled to be having a babe on the way!

And for those of you who are wondering, YES, you CAN have a career in Hollywood as both a mother and a writer-screenwriter-producer or what have you, and I mean to show you how. Men do it all the time, so why can’t we? 😉 So please stay tuned for another month of moving forward, life lessons, and creative ass-kicking, and I hope to hear some of your stories too!

So what are your personal and/or creative accomplishments for January? Are you making progress towards your ultimate goals? Share them below! 

Keep it indie,
<3 Colby

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

Colby’s Creative Achievements of 2013!

2013WOW. So it’s been such an eventful year, and I’m actually pretty surprised that it went so quickly! I’m about to celebrate the 3-year anniversary of Rebel Ragdoll (omg!), have just released my first novel, “Ghosts of Koa”, banged out some horrible rough drafts of scripts (lol), am about to move to Los Angeles, and I’ve even started a Rebel Ragdoll fashion line! CRAZY, right?

As usual, though, it’s time to take stock of what I accomplished and what I missed the mark on in 2013. I look back and can barely believe all the wonderful experiences and blessings that have come my way! Feeling extremely grateful. Here’s what went down in 2013:

January 2013

january1. Set a release date for “Ghosts of Koa”. May 2013! (Which I missed by a long-shot by the way!)
2. Started the final round of editing for Ghosts of Koa.
3. Started learning French again, and it’s a challenge!
4. Joined the TV Writer Pilot Writing Program at TV Writer Chat!
5. Celebrated the TWO-YEAR ANNIVERSARY of Rebel Ragdoll!
6. Tried out S-Factor pole fitness and self-love and got addicted! Can’t afford a full-time class, but I’m working on it!
7. Took an AWESOME trip to L.A. where I was able to meet over 15 different executives who gave some fantastic perspective on the entertainment industry and what they do.
8. Submitted to a few bunch of contests and fellowships… and later got rejected by all of them, lol! You live and you learn!

February 2013

february1. Trained with another creative writing mentor. Learned how to use the indirect third person and emotion more impactfully in my fiction!
2. Launched the TV Writer’s Workshop, a 14-week t.v. writing and professionalization seminar for aspiring television writers
3. Launched the Executive Producers’ Series, a 12-week seminar designed to teach aspiring producers how to produce cinema from script to finished film

March 2013

march1. Booked my trip to Eastern Europe! First stop, Lisbon Portugal!
2. Finished the beat sheet for my pilot script, “Ezekiel” and am ready to write it out!
3. Finished the beat sheet for my Scandal spec script, “Prometheus”, and am ready to write it out!
4. Produced and opened the Marcia Légère Play Festival! And it was a smash success! 😉
5. Lightning Source approved Ghosts of Koa for hardcover production and distribution!

April 2013

1. OFFICIALLY DEFENDED for my Masters of Science in Sociology and PASSED! Go M.S., go M.S.!
april2. Received a PHENOMENAL cover design from JD Smith at JD Smith Design for Ghosts of Koa and The Final Page, the first two books in my novel series
3. Went into a writer and rester’s coma… listen, I needed a rest, lol! Ok, sike. I went into a coma, but also…
4. I actually took Stephanie Palmer’s Pitching Essentials Course and was blown away. Highly recommended!

May 2013

may1. Finished my last semester as a Lecturer at UW Madison, which was sad and yet freeing and thrilling all at the same time!
2. Started as a PA at Owen Road Productions on this cool web series “The Ethical Slut”. (Teehee!)
3. Left for my backpacking trip to Eastern and Western Europe! (Which rocked, by the by.)

June 2013

june1. Traveled the world this month and wrote, wrote, wrote!! I hit Portugal, Southern Spain, France, Germany, Austria, Czech Republic, Hungary, Croatia, and Rome. Saw some alchemical labs, and it was great!
2. Laid the outline down for the remainder of Ghosts of Koa and a few scripts I’ve been working on.
3. Realized that traveling is a writer’s VERY BEST FRIEND, as it truly disconnects you from your circle and allows you to write, lol.
4. Became a script analyst for Eclectic Pictures. Read a crap load of scripts… a CRAP LOAD. And learned a ton!
5. Took my first trip to a gun range (in Budapest) and shot over 22 guns, including a Dragunov SVD, the James Bond gun, and a .44 Magnum. Talk about a research expedition! Now I feel as though I can definitely write on gun use and anatomy way more intelligently. For those of you wanting a real fantastic excursion in Budapest, Hungary, check out Celeritas Shooting Club!

July 2013

july1. Expanded Rebel Ragdoll Press’ name to “Rebel Ragdoll”, to include the multitude of intellectual properties and merchandise that will be sold under the company label.
2. GOT PROMOTED TO LINE PRODUCER at Owen Roads Productions. Took on the identity of the Line Producer / UPM more fully.

August 2013

1. Moved back to New York on $300, which was hell in a cradle. Not. Fun. At. All. But I made it! 😉
2. Went on the most intense of job hunts, applying to over 100 jobs and opportunities.
3. Started attending some great networking events, which taught me tons about the entertainment industry and augustallowed me to create this podcast series. I also made a contact here which helped to launch the project I’m producing called “The Life, The Grind, and The Music”.
4. Moved more firmly into the idea of producing films and tv as well as writing them. So I decided to evolve into a writer-producer!
5. Started querying literary agents (for books). Got many rejections, some no responses, and some still pending. BUT on the bright side, I actually GOT an agent at a TOP AGENCY to read my manuscript! Now comes the wait, and I should be getting some response back as of January 2014. Wish me luck!

September 2013

september1. Held six entertainment freelance jobs and internships simultaneously… LOL. Yeesh! My jobs: Casting Producer at Demand Media Studios, Freelance Writer & Contributor to eHow.com, Script Analyst at Eclectic Pictures, Temp at Supporting Cast, Line Producer at Owen Road Productions, and Co-Executive Producer and Line Producer at Living MuZic.
2. Started writing two new screenplay concepts in the genres of drama and sci-fi thriller
3. Created the Rebel Ragdoll Development Slate! This has all the creative projects that Rebel Ragdoll is undertaking (and will hold all the future ones as well).
4. Started preparing to produce Rebel Ragdoll’s first film project in 2014. We’ll see how far this goes!
5. Started penning yet another screenplay concept in the survival horror genre

October 2013

1. Recruited the COO for Rebel Ragdoll, Claire Zhuang! Super amped to take Rebel Ragdoll to the next level in 2014!
2. Started planning the Rebel Ragdoll Fashion and Natural Skin Care Line!! (Was NOT expecting that, by the way, lol!) Dolls are setting the trend and looking hot while doing it!! You can check out our progress at the Rebel Ragdoll website when it’s octoberback online.
3. Produced an eHow web series, “Family Travel Tips”, with many more to come!
4. Rebooted Rebel Ragdoll Radio! And it’s hotter than ever!
5. Rebooted Rebel Ragdoll Reel and started vlog video review series on sci-fi, fantasy, and thriller series!
5. Attended New York Comic Con and had a BLAST! Made some great connections as well, and saw some great friends!
6. Got hired part-time at a wine shop to fill in my quickly thinning wallet (yes, this was job seven). Then I decided to wrap some projects up for good. I finished up my time at a couple of creative freelance jobs, freeing up my schedule.

November 2013

november1. Commissioned the paperback version of Ghosts of Koa, The First Book of Ezekiel.
2. Created an official personal and Rebel Ragdoll task list for this year and the next year, which includes financial endeavors and creative endeavors.
3. Began development on “Ground Zero”, a sci-fi horror thriller that will become Rebel Ragdoll’s FIRST film production!
4. Recruited a standing Film Director for Rebel Ragdoll’s “Ground Zero”. Thanks for becoming a part of our brand, Lex Curtis! 😉 Let’s make awesome stuff!
5. Released the eHow series I produced “Travel Gear”, which was formerly titled, “Family Travel Tips”!!
6. GOT MY FIRST IMDB CREDIT for the web comedy I produced! Check it out here: Colby’s IMDB page.
7. Began the production process for the “Gourmet Diva Delights” eHow series, and I also began production on another eHow foodie series!
8. Applied to several producer programs, assistant director programs, and other fellowships (wish me luck!). I should be getting feedback by mid to late spring!
9. Attended the Urban Action Showcase workshops, and they were awesome!

December 2013

1. Released Ghosts of Koa, The First Book of Ezekiel in ebook format!!
2. Began the production of the PAPERBACK version of Ghosts of Koa!! Oooh, It should be out before the end decemberof January 2014!
3. In fact, I decided to re-package my entire novel series in an interesting way. My first novel was a WHOPPING 600 or so pages, so I divided it into two separate volumes: Volume I and Volume II. This turned out to be a grand idea, as it now allows me to create multiple products from one property! I’ll be following this model for the rest of the series too. Exciting!
4. Began some SERIOUS rights exploitation of my intellectual property. For one, I’m getting Ghosts of Koa, The First Book of Ezekiel, transformed into an audiobook!! A few actors have expressed some serious interest in the series, so I hope that I’ll get the project kicked off in January of 2014.
5. Began rebooting The Books of Ezekiel website. I think you all will love the changes!
december2
6. Got three more IMDB credits for my media production work, and I added four more too! Hopefully, all the changes will appear on my IMDB account before the new year rolls in! 😉
7. I began the revamp of the Rebel Ragdoll website, with a planned relaunch in January 2014.
8. Got some amazing feedback from a program that I applied to: I just moved into the SECOND ROUND OF FOUR in the DGA Assistant Director Trainee program!! I’m so surprised and amped and also humbled by the fact that my application even had a snowball’s chance. Next is the testing phase, then the interview with a consulting company. Finally, there is a one-on-one interview with the trustees of the program, and from there, if I’ve made it that far, I’ll be a trainee with the DGA… which is super exciting. Wish me luck!
9. Started planning my move to Los Angeles! New sights, new sounds, new places, new opportunities! It feels good we’ll see what 2014 holds.

So what are your personal and/or creative accomplishments for 2013? Anything cooking for the next year? 😉 Share your thoughts below! And of course, in the meantime…

Keep it indie,
<3 Colby

The “Stealing” of Ideas, and How “The Hunger Games” Was the Best “Worst” Thing for My Creativity! Part II of II

HUNGER-GAMESAfter a few posts later, I’m back! So let’s get into the Hunger Games story.

July 23rd, 2011.

::Lightning strikes::

I wish I could say that it was a dark and stormy night, but hell no. It was a typical summer night in Madison, WI, and I was right at the end of the first draft of my novel, “Ghosts of Koa”. It was an exciting time! In the spirit of taking the rare break from my workaholism, a friend and I decided to go see the new Captain America movie. That was when I saw the poster: an advertisement for The “Hunger Games” movie. It was my first time ever having heard of the series, but my friend was a fan and gave me the run down.

Some of the key elements sounded so similar to the one in my book that I did some web searching and found out…

::Insert me fainting onto the ground::

It had a few of the same core premises as my work! (Dun, dun, DUNNN!)

“Worse”, Hunger Games was a smash hit. And I mean SMASH. Thousands of reviews on Amazon, millions of copies sold, and movie deals out the wazoo (and later, I’d hear of The Hunger Games destroying box office records too!).

I was devastated. While there was no gladiator-esque storyline to my work at all, all my other “original the-hunger-games-catching-fire-international-trailer-headerideas” (lol, by the way), kids vs kids, a female protagonist protecting a younger sister and trying to keep her family afloat, oppressive regimes trying to kill people… it all had been “wrenched away” from me, and “worse still” were successful!!! MASSIVELY SUCCESSFUL!! I thought to myself: how dare someone steal MY brilliance?!

Oh, brother. Lol. Today I laugh thinking about this, but let’s continue on.

While I was a little encouraged that my creative instincts were so spot on, I was also super discouraged. I thought that because some of my core ideas had already been expressed, my work was completely useless and redundant. I considered giving up The Books of Ezekiel series altogether.

katnissI was also just angry! Angry at myself for taking so long to finish and publish my work, angry at the Hunger Games for existing, and just plain ole hateration angry. Smdh. I hated feeling this way because I strive to define myself by the love and support I put out into the world, into creative media, and especially, into creators themselves. But alas, the discovery of Suzanne Collins’ brilliant work put me to an emotional challenge that I didn’t want to meet at the time. It wasn’t until I realized that all of this was meant to be that I began to accept the challenge of growth.

The Hunger Games, by virtue of its existence, was an important moment for me in terms of learning the hunger-games-character-postersdifference between who I was and the person I could become, both as a creative professional and as a person. I had what we call a “come to Jesus” moment, wherein I sat down and took a true account of the situation.

What was the Books of Ezekiel really about? Why did I feel compelled to write it? What did my characters truly want, and how are their desires unique? How did my characters come to be who they are, and who will they ultimately become? And most importantly, what elements of my novel series were underplayed or under-developed, and how could I flush them out to create a richer narrative experience? What makes my novel DIFFERENT?

Zeika & Iemanja

Zeika & Iemanja

You see, a novel, novel series, or any creative work, really, is not merely the sum of individual parts. It is the infusion of elements such as character flaws, motivations, desires, conflict, context, dialogue, emotional resonance, and more. This infusion, the execution, is what counts in the end.

You could have two female protagonists providing for their families, but one of them is a huntress who goes to compete in gladiator-esque games. The other is a would-be ballerina who runs guns, smiths metal, and is a pawn-broker.

You could have two younger sisters, innocent and doting, but one of them supports the family with her cute little goat and goat cheese (which I’ve always loved about Prim). The other, is a self-proclaimed Queen and brilliant mechanic who is obsessed with trucks, cars, and anything metallic.

You could have a poignant perspective of a girl struggling to survive, and you definitely get that from cropped-xakiahgas3smlBW.jpgKatniss as she fights for her own life and for that of her family. Katniss’ POV is rendered beautifully, almost like siren’s song from her inner voice. Then, you have Ezekiel, wry, strong, sensitive, and conflicted in how she views the world… but her voice is not the only one that we follow. We also get the inner perspective of a ruthless mercenary, hungry for blood and yet redeemingly loyal to his principles. We feel the inner conflicts of a police officer, torn between his duty as a man of the law and his status as a high-ranking Azure. And more.

None of these ideas is better than the other. They just are what they are: different. They use similar concepts and execute them differently, and we haven’t even gotten to the character motivations or external conflicts yet.

And this is what I had to learn about my own work and about myself. I loved my idea so much that I was willing to fight for it. Though I had no clue about the existence of the Hunger Games before I started writing BOE, I had tapped into the creative consciousness and settled on issues of poverty, war, terrorism, drug addiction, sexual exploitation, and family dysfunction. I tapped into these ideas because they are not only important to me as a sociological writer, but a few of these issues are pulled directly from my personal experience. As a line in the Animatrix said, “There is a lot truth in my fiction, and a lot of fiction in my truth.”

So you see, The Books of Ezekiel NEEDED to happen. I owed it to my work, to myself, and to my life gok vols I & II boxset_4experience. And once I realized that, my story and I grew exponentially. I realized that I was strong, emotionally and creatively. I realized that I could get back on the horse, move forward, and use what the Hunger Games had already exhausted to make my work better and richer. And ultimately, the Hunger Games turned out to be the BEST “worst” thing that I ever stumbled upon in my creative career.

And this is NOT an insult to Suzanne Collins. The Hunger Games is a great series, nicely-executed, and I think she is a fabulous writer. I completely laud and respect the business franchise that she has built for herself as well!

I realized though, that The Books of Ezekiel was already more different and more interesting than I had given it credit for. I wasn’t being fair to it, its world, or its characters, all of whom were already working so hard on my behalf. Zeika, Caleb, Xakiah, Burke… they all have their voices and convictions, and because I didn’t know my characters as well as I do now, I (like a fool) kept shushing them. So, after I’d made the discovery of the Hunger Games on July 23rd and had my “come to Jesus” moment, I got back on the horse four days later, finished the first draft of my novel, and then got ready to do a serious revamp.

As I spent more time with my series over the next two years, it turned out that in its original form, the Books of Ezekiel series was very little like the Hunger Games anyway. And now, it was becoming even more different! It had an entire life, an incredibly rich world of its own that I hadn’t appreciated until I was really forced to look at it. And from here, it was only going to get better. It did only get better. And so did I. 🙂

So, wanna find out how The Books of Ezekiel is so unique? Check it out for free at Kobo and for .99 cents at Amazon & Barnes and Noble! I’d love to hear your thoughts!

GHOSTS OF KOA, VOLUME I of II

Ghosts of Koa Cover EBOOKGhosts of Koa, VOLUME I of II – AMAZON

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Ghosts of Koa, VOLUME I of II – PRINT COMING SOON!

GHOSTS OF KOA, VOLUME II of II

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Ghosts of Koa, VOLUME II of II – KOBO

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Ghosts of Koa, VOLUME II of II – PRINT COMING SOON!

GHOSTS OF KOA, ALL VOLUMES

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Ghosts of Koa, ALL VOLUMES – PRINT COMING SOON!

In the meantime…

Keep it indie,
<3 Colby

Rebel Ragdoll Review: Race, Sex, Class, Power (and Pussy Patrol) on ABC’s Scandal

scandalArguably one of the hottest, twistiest, turniest, and steamiest political thrillers on air, Scandal is making waves on so many different levels. Shonda Rhimes, her super talented writing crew, and her phenomenal cast are revolutionizing how networks are doing television and keeping us viewers on the edges of our seats at the same time.

Issues of race, sex, class, and power are all addressed in metaphorical and allegorical ways in this show, and yet it never loses its heart-pounding, chair clutching tension. Melodramatic or no, it’s entertainment to the max! So then why is there such a heated debate going on between men and women on the existence of Scandal? Welp, I’m here to address this question as best I can!

obamam-lol-y-u-mad-thoThis intro video will discuss a hotly debated issue: women’s (particularly Black women’s) love of “Scandal”. This is the first and last time that I’m going to make a video on the sociological implications of these debates. The reason I made this intro video first is because I know there will be haters on my YouTube channel who’ll want to sling mud on the show due to the their own understandings of race, class, and sex. I’m here to throw down the gauntlet and set the record straight on Scandal, its larger implications, and how I feel about them before I start reviewing the show itself!

The rest of my videos will deal solely with my episode-by-episode review of Scandal from Season 3 and on. As a forewarning, I’m a die-hard Scandal fan, and I also love to critique (constructively) its writing, production values, acting, and scene direction. It helps me learn more about the entertainment industry, and hopefully, it’ll help you learn too! 🙂 In any case, enjoy, and don’t forget to post your thoughts and reactions to the video!

Race, Sex, Class, Power (and Pussy Patrol) on ABC’s Scandal

Keep it indie,
<3 Colby