Book Review: “Catching Fire” by Suzanne Collins

Catching_FireCatching Fire by Suzanne Collins
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

A lot of people criticize this middle book of the Hunger Games series because they believe it “lagged”, “nothing was happening”, or “Katniss was too whiny”. And it’s true, a great portion of the book (at least the first 50%) is not necessarily filled with the action-packed, high-octane, nail-biting suspense that we experienced and loved in the first book.

But taking the series as a whole, Catching Fire is a perfect middle portion to a saga about oppression, revolution, war… and a frightened teenager unwittingly caught in its crosshairs.

Much of the first part of Catching Fire is spent in Katniss’ head as she witnesses and hides from her worst fear: growing rebellion in the Districts. I think Collins’ portrayal of her fear, angst, and indecision is spot on. Having Katniss feel anything else or act in any other way would have probably come off as disingenuous. Remember, Katniss is a mortal girl. Not an X-Man. Not a superhero. She is very much human, someone who can be tortured, killed, wounded, someone with people she loves, who could literally be annihilated at any point. She is a mouse before the giant that is the Capitol. So she walks a fine line; she understands that her actions now have some VERY far-reaching and painful consequences. As would anyone, for a while, Katniss tries her best to remain still and ineffectual. She wants to placate the Capitol, even though she hates it. But as she realizes that she has already set the match to an already combustible situation, she is finally forced to turn and face her fears. Even THEN, though, we see her wavering. And I love it because it’s just so damned HUMAN.

I think this is what I adored most about Catching Fire, and it’s why I gave it a higher rating than the first book, The Hunger Games. I LOVED Katniss’ humanness, flaws, and fallibility. I love that Collins’ DIDN’T buy into the teen immortality mythology, and that she kept Katniss grounded in a firm reality. This grounding always kept us aware of just how palpable Katniss’ situation was! So when the fast-paced action FINALLY popped off in Act III of the book, I felt emotionally fulfilled and was able to enjoy the action and suspense as it unfolded in the arena (which was brilliantly designed). And just like in the first book, Collins delivered.

Big time.

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Write on, rock on, and READ on,
<3 Colby

Book Review: “Her Mad Hatter” by Marie Hall

hermadhattercoverHer Mad Hatter by Marie Hall

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

YO! I haven’t picked up a romance novel since I was 10 years old, and I’m so glad I chose this one to reanimate my romantic adventures! “Her Mad Hatter” wasn’t perfect, not the most polished novel I’ve ever read. Some parts made me laugh because they came off a teeny bit cheesy, BUT. But but BUT!!

I couldn’t put it down. I couldn’t wait to see what happened next. And towards the end, I was dying because I literally couldn’t turn the pages fast enough. It got emotional, ya’ll. And I got desperate for a happy ending. (No spoilers, though. You’ll have to read it yourselves!)

What I really loved about the book is the series’ premise. I LOVE how Marie Hall sets us up in this world where fairy tales are retold in ways we’ve never seen, where characters have hidden secrets, dark sexy desires, and soul-wrenching journeys that pull us in and don’t let go.

And of course, hot naughty sex with the tortured, broken, muscle-bound man-gods.

Like I said, I’m not much of a romance reader, but I think I’ve become officially converted. Am definitely making space in my action-adventure-thriller-sci fi-fantasy-dominated bookworm life for Marie Hall’s Kingdom series. Well, for Marie Hall’s EVERYTHING. She. Is. EVERYTHING.

So thanks so much, Ms. Hall, for helping to reopen my mind to the world of romance and erotica. I hope you come back to the world of writing soon. “Her Mad Hatter” was a lovely, tantalizing ride. And by the excerpt I read from the next book in the series? This is a ride I won’t be getting off of anytime soon.

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Write on, rock on, and READ on,
<3 Colby

“Ghosts of Koa” Featured on The Writership Podcast!!

Great news, all! The lovely Alyssa and Leslie at The Writership Podcast have decided to feature and give an editorial review on GHOSTS OF KOA at The Writership Podcast!

If you’re wondering, The Writership Podcast is an online radio show focused on helping indie authors master self-editing writership_podcastskills. Each week they feature a different author, read through the first 5-10 pages of that author’s manuscript, and provide editorial feedback on the work.

They give some AWESOME insights and professional editing advice, so make sure to subscribe to their podcast when you get a chance!

Check out their review of GHOSTS OF KOA!

GOKwritershipIn any case, check out Leslie and Alyssa’s reactions and editorial review of my novel, GHOSTS OF KOA.

GOK got some super positive feedback, but apparently, they needed to “take refreshment” before diving in. 😉

As an important side note: I really encourage you to not only listen to the episode, but to also read the editorial feedback they provide below the episode itself.

They’ve embedded a Word document copy of the Prologue of “Ghosts of Koa” with their questions, comments, and ideas on how to make the manuscript better than it already is. It’s a great lesson in writing, and I highly recommend you tune into their show to make your own self-editing skills better!

Thanks in advance for checking it out! 🙂

Write on, and rock on (and keep it indie),
<3 Colby

100 Book Reading Challenge: Second Book, Second Review!

goodreads2015readingchallengeSo here it is, folks! My second review! That’s 2 out of 100! And I’ve been waiting a long while (specifically for me to have a firm grip on my own series) to pick this up, The Hunger Games. I’ve had a very interesting and emotional writer’s journey with The Hunger Games Trilogy.

This awesome series almost (I foolishly and wrongly thought) destroyed me, and I hadn’t even read it yet! Check out my posts on it HERE and HERE, and find out– like I did– that dystopian YA and NA aren’t zero sum games.

And without further ado, here’s the review!

The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins

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Tag you’re it! I challenge YOU to join up with the GoodReads 2015 Reading Challenge today! And as always…

Keep it indie!
<3 Colby

100 Book Reading Challenge: First Book, First Review!

goodreads2015readingchallengeSo I’ve joined Goodreads’ 2015 Reading Challenge, and I’m pledging to read 100 books this year! That’s a ton in and of itself, but I’m also going to attempt to REVIEW each book as well!

While you can always tune into my progress by looking at my Goodreads widget in the sidebar, I’ll also be posting my progress and my book reviews here on my blog!

Talk about holding oneself accountable, right? 😉

So to begin is a book on getting your baby to sleep, lol! Because I’ll need all the writing time I can get if I want to make all of my goals for 2015. If you’re a new mom or dad, and fighting for your art via creative guerrilla warfare like I am, then you’ll DEFINITELY want this book!

Good Night, Sleep Tight by Kim West

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Tag you’re it! I challenge YOU to join up with the GoodReads 2015 Reading Challenge today! And as always…

Keep it indie!
<3 Colby

OMG. So Behind and in So Much Creative Debt! But I’m Back!

Hey guys! So, I am so so sorry for the lag in posts! It seems that while I want to build up my blog site as much as humanly tired catpossible, life ALWAYS gets in the way. Moving to another state, getting acclimated, and then falling pregnant (and being sick during first trimester) will do that to a chick.

So I’ve been off the grid for two whole months, and have wracked up some serious creative debt, but no worries! 😉 I’m reconciling that debt all this April. But let me at least lay out what I’ve done AND what I’ll be doing from this point onward…

What’s New!

The Final Page Cover (front)* LIST UPDATE: I’ve updated the “List of Writer’s Resources in Los Angeles” post, so check it out by clicking the link!

* NEW PROJECT REVEAL!: Both my completed and my projects-in-progress are now revealed to the world! Want a more detailed description of each? With excerpts? Check out my new and improved book pages!

UPDATED BOOK LINKS: I finally have all my book buying links in one place (for the books that are actually available), and they’re super easy to access! Whether you use Kobo, Kindle, Nook, or PDF, you’ll be able to get my books in whatever format you please!

* SIGNED E-BOOKS FROM YOURS TRULY!: Want a more personal touch to your reading experience? Thanks to Authorgraph, you can get a personally-signed e-book from me, for whichever book or series you choose! Check out the side bar and choose which ebooks or series you want me to sign for you! OR, navigate to your favorite book’s page and request a signing from there!

What’s Coming Up!

afrofuturism* THE AWESOME BUTLER-BANKS BLOG TOUR: this is the premiere event for April, starting on the 14th and ending on the 30th!!

In honor of Octavia Butler and L.A. Banks, two giants in the world of Science Fiction, Fantasy and Horror and, indeed, the entire world of literature, my blog (and 15 other blogs) will be showcasing 15 days of Speculative Fiction (Science Fiction, Fantasy and Horror / Paranormal) written by and about Black people.

Each day, a different author will take the stage and bring us into their world – or worlds – through exciting book excerpts, reviews of their books, cool book trailers, audio recordings of a afrofuturism2chapter or two, and more! Each author involved will share that day’s featured post on their own blogs as a guest post. Join me and many other pioneers in Afrofuturistic fiction on the 14th! Here’s the line-up if you’re interested!

14 Colby R. Rice (luck of the draw, lol!)
15 Alan Jones
16 Balogun Ojetade
17 Milton Davis
18 Valjeanne Jeffers
19 Jeff Carroll
20 Keith Gaston
21 Carole McDonnell
AfroFuturism322 Kai Leakes
23 Milton Davis
24 K. Ceres Wright
25 Regine Sawyer
26 Valjeanne Jeffers, because her backlist is too big for one post! (Go indie!)
27 DaVaun Sanders
28 Clarence (“Zig Zag”) Young
29 Crystal Connor
30 Balogun Ojetade, because his backlist is too big for one post! (Go indie!)

* POST, PODCAST, AND VLOG CATCH UP: So much to catch up podcast iconon! I’ll be covering topics such as, moving and getting settled in L.A., the DGA Assistant Director program application process, tv show and movie reviews, insight on acclimating to a life as a writer-producer-entrepreneur, writing tips and hacks, and much more! Yes. Bear with me, lol!

booktower* BOOK REVIEW BACK LIST: this will take a while, as I have SO many books on my backlist that I’m backed up almost a year now, but I’ll get them in when I can! From non-fiction “break into the Hollywood business” books to speculative fiction, I’ll be on a review FRENZY!

* GHOSTS OF KOA AUDIOBOOK: All’s looking and sounding good with my actor, Michael T Bradley, who is working hard around my book length, character accents, and my preggo mind fog to bring you guys a kick-ass audiobook that will rock your world! The Ghosts of Koa Audiobook is due out at the end of this coming June!

* ALL MY NOVELS IN THE IBOOKSTORE & GOOGLE PLAY: This is a long process, but one that I’m working on vigorously! Stay tuned!

* PERSONAL STUFF: I’m still volunteering (my volunteer schedule for April is insane). I’ll also be making the scene at WonderCon in Anaheim, CA. And for those of you who care, the baby, the father, and I are baby!doing fantastically! I’ll be finding out the sex of the baby on April 29th! So there’ll be a major announcement coming on that front as well! 😉

So yeah, LOTS going on, but I’ve got my second wind, and I’m back in biz! So write on, rock on, and as always…

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!

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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!

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

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

Rebel Ragdoll Review (Book): Write, Publish, Repeat by Sean Platt and Johnny B. Truant

5 out of 5 Stars: HIGHLY RECOMMENDED!

writepublishrepeatExcuse my massive potbelly and picking of teeth, because I DEVOURED this book and enjoyed every minute of it.

::BURP::

Okay, let’s get back to the review, lol! This book was awesome. Found out about it through Joanna Penn’s The Creative Penn website and snatched it up to absorb Platt and Truant’s wisdoms on making it as an indie publisher. Being a sci-fi, fantasy, and thriller novelist (and indie publisher) myself (and having just published my first novel), I needed to figure out a viable game plan to take my creative journey to the next level. Well, boys and girls, this book has it for sure. “Write, Publish, Repeat” gives us the down and dirty nuts and bolts info any indie would need to be successful: from reviews to building a fan base to writing quality work to “building funnels”, you’ll get a full education. Pick this one up along with Joanna Penn’s “How to Market a Book”, which is also mega kick-ass.

Thanks so much, guys! I feel so much more empowered learning from the pros!

Check out Write, Publish, Repeat at the following sellers: AmazonKoboBarnes and Noble

So, go my faithful repeaters, and get this book to add some firepower to your bad-ass indie movement! And also, if you’ve read this, what do you think of it? Did Sean and Johnny kick ass or did they totally flop with this one? Your thoughts, your space, so share it all below! And of course, 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