Pitch for Sci-fi Thriller Trilogy & Screenplay Concept, “ASYLUM”

Mental-Asylum-in-Dallas-Texas-300x199SO, I recently had the opportunity to pitch a sci-fi thriller novel trilogy concept to a film producer, and I just wanted to share the feedback with you guys!
In all, while my idea wasn’t purchased by the producer and his team, his feedback was really inspirational and super constructive. It’ll really help me hone my ideas for this trilogy as I write and plan for its release in 2016.
As a lesson in humility and for your edification, here are both the concept and the producer’s feedback on my up and coming sci-fi thriller trilogy “ASYLUM”.

CONCEPT PITCH FOR “ASYLUM”

In a neo-utopian world where crime is contracted out in an attempt to restore “natural order”, one criminal-type in particular is in high demand: serial killers. And the instances of serial murders are now increasing not by the dozens, but by the hundreds. Enter 23-year-old Anaïs Crowe: brilliant, sweet, insecure. Infamous. Exiled and blacklisted after her colbyrriceAVATARbannerfather himself was convicted of murdering nearly thirty of their community’s own inhabitants, Anaïs knows serial killers— and survival— better than anyone. When she’s finally offered a new identity and a chance to start over, she leaps at it only to discover it’s her worst nightmare: she must live with and help profile serial murderers, the very people she’s most desperate to avoid. She agrees, and despite the strangeness of the psych ward itself, her assignment goes well. But when the ward is overthrown by its own inmates and most of her support team is killed, Anaïs finds herself trapped in the midst of bloodthirsty madmen who now roam free. Moreover, someone is pulling the strings. Someone who’d been planning for her arrival all along, and who has prepared a house of riddle-ridden horrors, with only a few spaces for respite: spaces called “asylums”. The clock is ticking. If Anaïs doesn’t solve the right riddles and make it to an asylum before the killers are released from their cells each night, she’s as good as dead. Still, survival is just the beginning; with each asylum she finds, with each mystery she solves, Anaïs begins to unravel a conspiracy that could threaten every life in the nation… and in the world.


PRODUCER FEEDBACK

Colby,

Thank you for your submission.  Unfortunately, at this time, it’s not something we’d like to consider further.
ProducerI will say that this was a difficult decision and we went back and forth a bit.  While I think the asylum setting and in particular, the riddles that must be solved could be quite interesting, the futuristic setting and the larger conspiracy that threatens the whole world are major detractors.  The former because it likely presents a budgetary issue and the latter because it turns what could be a cool, potentially terrifying scenario into something far less plausible and potentially campy.  Frankly, I would have been very intrigued by a contained house (asylum) of horrors type situation distinguished by a series of riddles and mysteries that need to be solved in order to advance and ultimately survive.
I know hearing stuff like this is never easy so I appreciate your willingness to put yourself out there and hope you will continue to pursue your screenwriting goals.
Best of luck and thanks again!

More about the ASYLUM trilogy

asylum2So, there you have it folks! The silver lining. The point though is to use professional feedback to grow and improve, and I hope to do exactly that. Speaking of, the novel trilogy ASYLUM will be debuting at the end of 2016, after I’ve gotten the next volume pack of The Books of Ezekiel out into the world.
If you’re curious about ASYLUM, though, check out the forthcoming ASYLUM book page (and my blog) on occasion to get updates on both it and its prequels and sequels! Here’s the title list, though, if you’re curious:

The ASYLUM Trilogy!

Peplum, Book #o (novella)

Asylum, Book #1

Bedlam, Book #2

Hoodlum, Book #3

** book covers forthcoming! **

In any case, I hope you found this helpful! I’d love to know what you think, so feel free to leave your thoughts below! And, of course, in the meantime…

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:

gumroadlogobig

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

Amazon_Instant_Video_logo

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

10 Things I Learned (as a Sci-fi & Fantasy Writer) from Producing an Audiobook, Part II of II

audiobookOkay, so I’m back with part TWO of “10 Things I Learned (as a Sci-fi & Fantasy Writer) from Producing an Audiobook“!

Let’s get it! 😉

 

6. Don’t be afraid to give your characters uniqueness, extreme personality, voice, and dialogue patterns!

calebposterfinal copy 2This is a given when writing pretty much anything in fiction, but sometimes we’ll hold back on it in the interest of trying to be PC or non-stereotypical. True, there can be a thin line between writing a stereotyped character and writing a real, colorful one. But go with your gut! I suggest that you be as colorful with your characters as possible, especially if your sci-fi or fantasy world has a large cast. Every person of import needs to be distinct from the others.

To take that point further, colorful characters are integral to producing a great audiobook. Trust me, it’s so much fun to hear an actor latch onto a character’s speech pattern and mannerisms and just go to town with it!

For example, one of the very minor characters in my novel had a Bostonian accent (a fact that was merely stated in the character cast list), while another more major character was literally just written as a Bostonian– dialogue, intonation, and all. Well guess what? My actor totally nailed the major character because the guy was literally a Bostonian personality and spoke like one, whereas the minor character’s accent wavered occasionally because I didn’t write him as a Bostonian. You need to remember that voice actors literally embody the character they’re playing, and to do that effectively, voice actors need, well, VOICE. So don’t skimp on it!

7. This is your actor’s medium. Unless you feel as though he or she is totally going to tank your audiobook, it’s best just to follow his lead!

Listen to your actor, ladies!

Listen to your actor, ladies!

This doesn’t mean keeping quiet if the actor is messing up a character’s voice or mispronouncing words throughout the book. Obviously, you have a right to guide your audiobook to successful completion. However, there are some of us who take a tyrannical role when producing an audiobook, and this can produce some unfortunate results (especially if you aren’t actually PAYING the actor upfront).

Letting go of the work you shed so much blood and tears over is hard, I know. But while prose is your speciality, you must remember that voice acting is your actor’s speciality. Embodying character and voice in real time is just what actors do, all day every day, point blank, period. So if your actor has an interpretation on a character, a story theme, tone, mood, or whatever, just go with it and see where it’ll take your audiobook. You might (and most likely will be) pleasantly surprised.

audible2buyAs a special note to writers doing a Royalty Share agreement (wherein you don’t pay the actor upfront, but you guys split royalties per sale of each audiobook): When you and your actor decide to take a no-money-down risk on your audiobook, you move from solo writer status to a partner status. You are not paying the actor upfront, so essentially your actor is a partner, not an employee. He is risking just as much time and money on this audiobook as you are, so keep that in mind when you’re giving him direction. Giving narrators their 50% ownership over the audiobook property means just that, so please, trust them with the process. They know more about audiobooks than you do, after all.

8. Be prompt in responding to your actor’s questions and concerns.

I was HORRIBLE at this at times, and I know my actor wanted to kill me. Taking into account audio recording, listening, and editing, each chapter of your book is costing the actor about 4-6 hours of work time. Honestly, if you want your audiobook finished on time, PLEASE communicate with your actor in a timely fashion. Don’t be like me!

9. When you’re listening to a first draft of the actor’s audiobook, make sure you have your original written file open on your computer!

showcase-scrivener_headerThis isn’t so that you can follow along. Actually I recommend that you DON’T follow along. So then, why do I say to keep your original file open? TYPOS & CORRECTIONS. And I cringe even as I write this because technically in a final draft you shouldn’t want or need to change anything.

But alas, nothing in this world is perfect.

I found at very rare moments in my novel that there was either a minor preposition that was missing from the text (my fault) OR that I wasn’t really a fan of how I’d written a certain character’s dialogue line. Again, these instances were extremely rare, but being that, as indies, we now have the ability to change and re-upload our digital and print book files, I say take advantage of it. If you hear a typo or want to tweak some dialogue, crack that ebook file open and do it.

Your actor’s audiobook will reveal all the gems in your work as well as the rare flaws, and you have every right to rectify those in the other versions of your book. So take advantage! (And make sure you ask your narrator to please re-record if absolutely necessary.)

10. Enjoy the show. No, really. Enjoy it.

As an aspiring tv writer, I can tell you that a tv writer’s greatest dream– beyond actually getting hired to do what he loves on a daily basis or becoming a showrunner of his own show– is to see something he’s written actually acted out and then aired for millions of people to see. You can think to yourself: “Wow, I wrote those movietheatrewords, created that tense scenario, I authored that car chase, and it looks AWESOME.”

Well, guess what? Short of seeing your novel on the silver screen in Hollywood, the audiobook is the novel writers’ version of “seeing” an episode or film he’s written aired LIVE, with all the characters and situations brought to life. And wow, is that an amazing fuck-all feeling.

In all, an audiobook isn’t just an audial translation of your work. It’s a performance! And performances need to be enjoyed and savored with all your rapt attention. Your actor has worked really hard to bring your world to life, so get immersed in it and love (or hate) the characters you’ve created together. It’s SO much fun!

So that’s it for my tips! Feel free to learn from my hard-headedness and avoid the same mistakes I made! Any more tips you have on audiobook production? Add them in the comments below! 😉

I’ll be back soon with a few more things for ya as we bring July to a close, but of course, in the meantime…

Keep it indie!
<3 Colby R Rice

Colby_R_Ricesignaturelogo(smaller)

10 Things I Learned (as a Sci-fi & Fantasy Writer) from Producing an Audiobook, Part I of II

audiobookSo writing a book is challenging, but producing an audiobook is a different kind of crazy altogether, trust and believe! Now that I’ve gone through the process, I’m going to give some perspective and tips on audiobook production from the author’s point-of-view. Some do’s and don’ts if you will. I’ve got ten tips in total, so this post will have a second part to it.

ALSO, I was pleasantly surprised to discover that the rules of storytelling tend to transcend mediums! You’ll find that many of the tips I give in this post and in the next apply not only to audiobook production but to prose writing as well. (And they’re rules we’ve been hearing for a long time as writers.) Rules that we try to stick to, but may not understand in real time, are all in your face (or in your ear, rather), when you produce an audiobook. TRUST ME.

So what are the first five tips out of ten? Well…

1. Do NOT use adverbs in your writing. Just. Don’t.

All_About_Adverbs_photo_FINALIZEDThis is an already hard and fast rule in writing period, but let me tell you: adverbs stick out like big fat sore sausage toes when you’re listening to an audiobook. Only a very few found their ways into my final draft (thank GOD) but those that made it sounded “meh” at best.

When these Benedict Arnolds are hidden amongst really stark and lush description, it makes your writing sound lazy as all hell. Ugh. Just don’t do it. Eliminate ALL adverbs from your writing, no matter how harmless they seem on paper (or on your Kindle screen).

2. Try to limit dialogue tags as much as possible!

nodialoguetagsDialogue tags are not necessary for your ebook, and they are just downright superfluous in audiobook narration. Maybe my actor just kicks ass all around, but he made it pretty clear in his intonation when my characters said something “with annoyance” or “angrily”.

He also invoked different voices, speech patterns, and accents that pegged each character as unique. So when he was reading the audiobook, pretty much every single dialogue tag that I used sounded utterly useless. The tags took away from the strength of the character’s words, and also just plain sounded redundant once my actor’s talent was applied.

3. Minimize your lists. Or, if a list of items or rules is necessary to your story, either keep it short, make it super compelling, OR tell your audiobook narrator to annotate it.

tasklist3Oh my God, totally learned this the hard way. There are sections in  the printed and digital versions of Ghosts of Koa wherein I use flyers, lists, and headlines, and for the most part, they translate pretty well into the audiobook. HOWEVER, there is one section of my story wherein the main character is reading (to herself) a list of rules regarding immigration and citizenship policies.

While this was presented in a simple (and skip-over-able) document in the printed version of my book, it sounded super pedantic and boring when read in the audiobook version. This is not at all the fault of my actor, but more so due to my lack of foresight when writing the damned thing.

SO, if there is ever a section like that in your novel, I’d suggest you make a note to your audiobook narrator letting him know which parts of the list to read, OR, just do a brief re-write of that scene or section and send it to him.

4. Have some sort of cast list available, divided by major and minor characters.

comedy-tragedy-theatreThis is more of an organizational tip that will help your actor to become acclimated to the scope of your story. What you’ll find is that as your narrator gets more comfortable and spends more time with your characters, he will set a pace, tone, and personality for each that will remain consistent throughout the story.

You can actually help him do this (while also putting your interpretation on how you envision your characters) by giving him a cast list. Here’s a mini (and improved) example from the casting document that I sent Michael:

EZEKIEL D’JIHARA ANON – MAJOR PROTAGONIST – Also known as “Zeika” or “Zeeky”. 16-yr-old from the Bronx. Spunky, witty, spirited.

And so on. How you do this is up to you, but giving your actor some direction is definitely helpful for getting the kind of performance you’re looking for!

5. If there are characters speaking other languages in your book, BE VERY CLEAR as to how those words are pronounced! Same thing with names, people, and places you make up for your story.

multiculturalnightOkay, this is especially for sci-fi & fantasy folk because we spend a lot of time creating and destroying worlds.

Whether you’re using a language that already exists or you’ve made up your own, PLEASE… let your actor know how to pronounce anything that might be foreign to him (or to anyone else). In fact, as you’re editing your final draft (before you even consider hiring an audiobook producer), I suggest you make a little guidebook with the pronunciations of all languages, new places, characters’ names, monster names, and more.

Even better? Record the pronunciation of these things so that your actor can listen to them and integrate them into his psyche.

Trust me: following these tips will really help improve the overall quality of your audiobook, so I really hope you consider them!

So what about you? Have you produced an audiobook and learned a lesson from it that you’d like to share? What tips am I missing? Post your comments below! 

Also, stay tuned for the next installment of tips from me on audiobook production from the writer’s POV. But of course, in the meantime…

Keep it indie!
<3 Colby

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!

cropped-xakiahgas3smlBW.jpg

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!

RebelRagdollD04bR01bP02ZL-Jefferson1b

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. 😉

Assassin's_Creed_III_Liberation_Cover_Art

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

Achieve Your 2014 Goals! Action Plans and Systems for Type-A Creatives

action planI hope you’ve partied it up for the New Year and have ended your glorious celebrations with a laundry list of things you want to do for 2014! Goal lists?! Bring them on! And yet for us Type-A folks, having a goal list is exciting but isn’t quite enough to keep us motivated. We need a way to achieve our goals as well, or as James Clear says, we need a system, a step-by-step daily habit that will allow us to look up in the end and say, “Oh snap! Guess what? I actually achieved my goal!”

In addition to daily regimens and systems, however, we also need action plans. How will we achieve our massive goals, exactly? What are the smaller steps to doing so? For example, writing and publishing a novel isn’t just about developing a daily writing habit and system. There are different stages: writing, editing, finding reviewers, product positioning, distribution, marketing, and more! For me, I need an action plan to get all of this done, and you may want one too! I have a couple of ideas that I list out below, and I’d love to hear your thoughts!

How to Create an Action Plan to Achieve Your Goals

1. Create your goal list

goal3We need to know what we’re aiming for first and foremost, so get your goal list ready! Here’s a sample list of my goals, with a full list here:

  • Write, polish, and publish the 160,000-word second book of my dystopian-urban fantasy series, “The Books of Ezekiel”
  • Write two feature film screenplays (110 pages each)
  • Write four teleplays (tv scripts) (65 pages each)
  • Write, polish, and publish the first book of my sci-fi / fantasy middle grade detective series, “P.I. Sleuths”
  • Get more experience as a Line Producer, Unit Production Manager, or Assistant Director

2. Rank-order your goals and then set deadlines for each one

prioritizeOkay, based on the goals you just listed, we need to define some sort of order of priority! The three main questions you should ask yourself are: 1. Which goal is the most important to me vs the least, 2. Which goal is the most time consuming, and 3. Which goals have enforced deadlines attached to them?

For example, if you want to write a screenplay and also enter it into a contest this April, the contest deadline will influence you immensely in how you rank the screenplay on your priority list. The contest would rank pretty high, as an April deadline is early in the year, quickly approaching, and you must get out a polished screenplay before then (which is a challenge in itself).

On the other hand, your list might be rank-ordered with regard to how important or time consuming your goal is. For me, deadlinegetting the second novel in the Books of Ezekiel series is THE number one priority, one because it’s super important to me and my career and secondly, because it takes the most time. The novel is followed by the teleplays because they have March, April, and May deadlines attached to them. So this is what my task list now looks like, WITH deadlines attached:

  • Write, polish, and publish the 160,000 word second book of my dystopian-urban fantasy series, “The Books of Ezekiel” (December 15th, 2014)
  • Write four teleplays (tv scripts), 65 pages each (Rough drafts deadline: March 15th; Final version: April 15th)
  • Write, polish, and publish the first book of my sci-fi / fantasy middle grade detective series, “P.I. Sleuths” (December 1st, 2014)
  • Get more experience as a Producer, Line Producer, Unit Production Manager, or Assistant Director (Flexible, work on at least three projects this year)
  • Write two rough draft feature film screenplays, 110 pages each (December 31st, 2014)

3. For each goal, create a sub-task list with sub-deadlines!

tasklistFor some of us, it’s not enough to have a prioritized list with deadlines. For some of us, it’s helpful to have a sub-list of things we need to do for each goal, supplies we need to have, or a schedule we need to keep.

These mini-milestones help us to gauge where we are in achieving our ultimate goals, and help to keep us on schedule. Take my first priority, for example, “writing the next book in the Books of Ezekiel series”, and check out how I’ve created a task list for it.

GOAL #1: Write, polish, and publish The Final Page, The Second Book of Ezekiel. 160,000 words, four volumes. DEADLINE: December 15th, 2013

  • Research, worldbuild, plot story, and develop character arc and POV. DUE: February 15th, 2014 

    tasklist2

    task list… in FRENCH!

  • Finish plot beat sheets for each volume, and character beat sheets for each volume. DUE: March 15th, 2014
  • Finish first draft of volume I. DUE: March 31st, 2014, 40,000 words (2,500 words per day)
  • Finish first draft of volume II. DUE: April 15th, 2014, 40,000 words (2,500 words per day)
  • Finish first draft of volume III. DUE: April 30th, 2014, 40,000 words (2,500 words per day)
  • Finish first draft of volume IV. DUE: May 15th, 2014, 40,000 words (2,500 words per day)
  • Let draft sit on shelf for two months. DUE: July 15th, 2014
  • Re-work into a second draft, getting it to the best place possible. DUE: August 15th, 2014
  • Send to my developmental editor. DUE: September 15, 2014
  • Get it back from my editor. DUE: October 15, 2014
  • Make significant changes according to his feedback. DUE: November 15, 2014
  • tasklist3Do a final line edit of the novel, two chapters a day. DUE: November 30th, 2014
  • RELEASE NOVEL, DO PRE-SALES, and BREATHE, lol! DUE: December 15th, 2014

So yeah, it’s a lot. I made this plan with the hope that my two months of beat sheet making and plot work will make my writing go a LOT faster than before. I know myself and my process now, so I need to repeat it with greater efficiency. Who knows if I’ll be able to bang out my deadlines, but I have a plan that I’m willing to follow and execute!

If you choose, you can do this for each of your major goals and break your task list down as far as you want. Don’t spend too much time on this, though. If you become obsessed with planning what you need to do, you might neglect actually doing what you need to do! This leads me into my next point, which is to…

4. Actually DO what you set out to do.

justdoitIf you’re super type-A like me, you probably love task lists. I practically had to keep myself from making a task list about the task list. But at some point, we need to stop making lists, stop trying to anticipate every minute of every day, stop trying to itemize our task lists to the letter, and actually apply ourselves to our tasks. An action plan isn’t an action plan without actual action! So take action today!

You’ll never finish that novel or script by making endless lists about what you have to do to finish it. (That’s called procrastination, by the way.) You’ve gotta dive in and actually write the darn thing, tackle that creative task, make mistakes, re-prioritize, meet blockades, and strategize around them, which leads me to my last step in creating a system…

5. Be flexible and relax!

relax

reward your hard work!

Life happens. As much as we as creatives and artists sometimes love to shut out the larger world for the sake of finishing or perfecting our art, if you are anything other than a zombie, you have a larger world to contend with. You’ve got family, or a lover, or a wedding, or networking events, or a job, or bills, or all of the above and more.

Working out the details of these tasks and “life stuff” can be time-consuming, but necessary, and you can’t be continually frustrated that your perfect bubble of quiet time has been disrupted for the umpteenth time. Be flexible. Realize that there are goals you may have to change, delay, or expand. Understand that there may be unforeseen obstacles, tragedies, changes, or successes that might lead you in other directions.

Stop and smell your success!

Stop and smell your success!

Don’t fight it, flow it.

Embrace life, and most importantly, stop to smell the roses occasionally. We Type-As constantly sow the seeds and toil the land, but rarely stop to see our work blossom. Breathe. Love. Create. Be. And at the end of 2014, not only will you have achieved wondrous things, but you would have made the time to enjoy those wonders as well!

That’s all I got for you, but I hope you find the talk of systems and action plans helpful! I’d love to hear the systems you plan to use to achieve your goals for 2014! Godspeed, and 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

Recent Producing, Writing, and Publishing Success: Major Announcements & Updates!

Ghosts of Koa Cover 3D Kindle (skinny)

Sorry I’ve been away, but SO MANY COOL THINGS HAVE HAPPENED IN THE PAST WEEK!! So I’m going to hit them all in this one post. Bottom line, I have some kick ass news on all creative fronts!

NOVELS: Ghosts of Koa. The First Book of Ezekiel. Officially. Coming. Out. November 30th! YAAAHH!!! The ebook is being released first. Then the print version will be out a few weeks later. Also, The Final Page: The Second Book of Ezekiel is very much underway thanks to years of penning and thanks to NaNoWriMo! Amped!

RebelRagdollD04bR01bP02ZL-Jefferson1bPRODUCING, Part I: First off, the beautiful awesome Claire Zhuang has agreed to be the COO at Rebel Ragdoll. Claire’s a wonderful friend and colleague, and we’ve worked on quite a few creative projects together. In addition, I’ve also recruited Lex Curtis, an aspiring and very knowledgeable Director to be the creative lead on Rebel Ragdoll’s first project. Together, we’re gonna rock ass!

Both Claire and Lex share my vision of improving the diversity in film, media, and fiction genres in which women and people of color are underrepresented. I’m so happy to have them on board, and guess what?! We’ve started development on Rebel Ragdoll’s first feature called, “Ground Zero”! It’s gonna be an awesome sci-fi horror and thriller, and we’ll definitely be keeping you posted here and on The Rebel Ragdoll Website.

imdb

Click to get to my IMDB page!

PRODUCING, Part II: I finally have an IMDB page! For those of you who aren’t familiar, IMDB is the International Movie Database, which lists anyone who’s anyone in the entertainment industry as well as their creative projects. This is the place where Shonda Rhimes (Scandal, Grey’s Anatomy), Quentin Tarantino (Django Unchained, Pulp Fiction), and many other influential folks, even J.K. Rowling (Harry Potter) have all their works listed. I’m finally on there, as well as my first film project as a Line Producer. It’s just a small step in the journey towards legitimacy in the industry, and I sure busted my rump for it.

I’m currently waiting for IMDB to update my profile with my picture, pen name, my other Producer credits, my bio, and more, so stay tuned. To see the page in its infancy, though, just click away! Check out my producer credits there, or click on the social media IMDB icon in the right column. It’s just the beginning, and I hope to kick more producing ass in the very near future! 😉

eHowPRODUCING, Part III: The most exciting piece of news, I’ve produced an informational web series for eHow.com, and it’s finally live!!! Aaah!! It’s called “Travel Gear”, and it’s a great online series that’ll help you to prepare for traveling abroad. It’s short, sweet, and I love it! I’ve posted all five videos below, but I’ll also be re-posting these vids when I pick up my Fashionable Writer-Backpacker series in the spring of 2014.

SO WHAT’S NEXT?: Welp, I’m developing a foodie eHow series at the moment (super excited about that), working on my second sci-fi & fantasy novel, and trying to push Rebel Ragdoll’s “Ground Zero” script through the Rebel Ragdoll pipeline. In addition, I’m applying to an entire slew of different programs and fellowships in film producing, assistant directing, screenwriting, and tv writing. Also, Claire, Lex, and I are looking into finding funding for Rebel Ragdoll as a company and for “Ground Zero” as a project. In only a year, I’ve been able to make lots of moves towards my ultimate goals, and I really look forward to what the rest of this year, and 2014, holds! Thanks so much for sharing the journey with me. 🙂

Stay creative, keep it indie, and remember, dolls set the trend!
<3 Colby

My eHow Web Series: Travel Gear

Produced by Vanisha Renée Pierce (Colby R Rice), Presented by Kimberly Fisher, Filmed by Brandon Somerton


Tips on Shoes for Disney World — powered by ehow