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

NaNoWriMo Kick Off! Plans & Day 1-2 Progress

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

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

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My 2014 NaNoWriMo Challenge

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Keep it indie!
<3 Colby

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

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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

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 

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    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!

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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

 

Plotting Your Novel and Screenplay #2.5: The BFG Beat Sheet

nanowrimoSo before we get into a part-by-part break down of your beat sheet and story structure, let me show you what the entire beast looks like from beginning to end!

I call this the BFG Beat Sheet, really because it is the “Big Fucking Gun” of the screenwriting industry. Tons of people use this sort of template as a light roadmap to figure out the major turning points in their stories. Now, I know what some of you are thinking: isn’t that a bit formulaic?

Well, if you feel as though you’re limited to just this outline and in this order and you keep replicating it in your work, then heck yeah it’s formulaic! But there’s a difference between a formula and a foundation. The major beats listed below are beats that you generally find in any story, whether it’s about Hansel and Gretel or about grandpa’s trip to the mall. And if you personally don’t find grandpa’s struggle to find the new doo-hickey suspenseful, then just wait until you get to that age. Trust me, it will be anxiety inducing to the max.

bfg

Scriptwriting, meet the BFG. And no, I’m not talking about Roald Dahl, stylez.

Anyways, consider the BFG Beat sheet as a nice launch pad for those of us who have NO CLUE how to start a story or a screenplay. Each part of the beat sheet deals with the Beginning, Middle, and End, but in it’s own way. The greatest part about this is that it’s not of my invention (though I wish it were). The BFG Beat Sheet is a combination of tips, tricks, and templates from the some of the greatest minds in screenwriting today: Blake Snyder, Syd Field, and Pilar Alessandra, among others.

So check it out below! Don’t worry about the sections. Trust me, we’ll break this whole baby down in our next posts! 😉

The “Not-of-Colby’s-Design-but-Still-Freakin’-Great” BFG Beat Sheet Template

BEGINNING

ACT ONsunriseE (Trauma): Title

Opening Image (1):

Theme Stated (5):

Set Up (1-10):

Catalyst (12):

Debate (12-25):

Plot Point #1:

MIDDLE

ACT TWO (A) (Training): Title midday

Break Into Two (25):

B Story (30):

Fun and Games (30-55):

Midpoint (55):

 

ACT TWO (B) (Trials): Title

Bad Guys Close In (55-75):

All is Lost (75):

Dark Night of the Soul (75-85):

Plot Point #2:

END

ACT THREE (Triumph): Title sunset

Break Into Three (85):

Finale (85-110):
* Gather the Team:
* Storm the Castle:
* The High Tower Surprise:
* Dig Deep Down:
* Execute the New Plan:

Final Image (110):

And there you have it! I’ve laid out the beast for you in its true form, and now, we’re going to break it down bit by bit. Stay tuned, and post your comments below on tactics that you use for structuring your story or screenplay! 

And now, an inspirational word and song from our sponsors…

NaNoWri/ScriMo Inspirational Quote & Song of the Day

“You miss 100% of the shots you don’t take.” Wayne Gretzky

Keep it indie, and write on, rock on!
<3 Colby

Plotting Your Novel and Screenplay #2: Beginnings, Middles, and Ends

nanowrimoSorry folks! I’ve been taken away from my blog and my writing once again by a slew of crazy things (some not so great, some friggin AWESOME), but that’s for another post. Let’s get back into plotting out novels and screenplays!

We’ve already talked about beats, what they are, and how we start organizing them into a beat sheet. So let’s go into a bit more detail on the beat sheet and how it can help us. The first way a beat sheet is a god-send is that it help us to:

Organize Our Story

typewriterkeyboardNow some of ya’ll who like to write by the seats of your pants might kill me on this post, so bear with me! I’m a believer in writing with reckless chaotic abandon and letting the story develop itself, for sure! BUT I’m more of a “chaos within the order”, kind of girl. I like to have certain milestones in my story laid down first.

Using a beat sheet, I develop a map of my beginning point, midpoint, and end point. Once those are down, then I get crazy, driving over hills, mountains, through ravines, off cliffs… you get the picture! Wanna try it? Let’s start simple!

ACTIVITY #1: ORGANIZING YOUR STORY IN THREE PARTS

rose from seed1. Divide your story up into three major parts: Beginning, Middle, and End, as follows:

A. Beginning:
B. Middle:
C. End:

See? Simple, right? Now onto #2.

2. Write 1-3 sentences describing (very broadly) what happens in each of these three sections. Important note: there are three simple but major things to remember when dealing with each of these parts of your story, and those are:

rose2A. In the Beginning, everything is fine & status quo, then crazy shit happens, forcing the hero to do something about it

B. In the Middle, crazy shit escalates into even crazier shit, forcing the hero to push his limits to do something about it

C. In the End, crazy shit escalates to the highest level, and the hero’s (and usually, the world’s) very reality and existence are threatened, which forces the hero to be the best or worst of himself and resolve the crazy shit

So let’s do it. I’ll use “Colby Assassin” as an example:

A. Beginning: Colby is a loving housewife and mother who, since birth, has been trained as a ninja assassin. Her husband and son are unaware of her other profession. One day, Colby receives a mission from her shogun that conflicts with her motherly-wifely duties but will bring peace to the world. For the greater good, she chooses to abandon her family to complete the mission.

B. Middle: Colby continues to abandon her family to complete her “greater good” missions,rose3 all while believing she is trying to do her best by them. The shogun is pleased with her performance, but sees that her family is her weakness and a problem. He sends more missions for her to complete, which separate her more from her family and causes lots of strife at home.

C. End: Colby’s family is kidnapped by the evil shogun as a demonstration of his power and her servitude to his will. He wants to rid her of her weakness once and for all. But Colby realizes that her family is actually her strength, they are the greater good, and so she balances her ninja skills with love to both defeat the shogun and save her family.

Give it a whirl, and see how it begins to organize your story!

ACTIVITY #2: BRINGING BACK “CAUSE-AND-EFFECT”

concept mapRemember that “Cause-and-Effect” Beat exercise we did in the last post? Well, it’s time to dig that back out and dust it off! Here’s how it can help you:

1. Organize your beats (roughly) into the beginning category, middle category, or end category! Seeing as you have a rough idea of what happens in your beginning, middle, and end, you can look at ALL your beats you created for your world and your characters and evaluate them.

For each beat, ask yourself: is this a “status quo” / beginning beat? Is it a resolution beat? beginningmiddlendOr is this a “crazy shit gets crazier beat”? Classify your beats and watch your story take shape right in front of you!

In our next posts we’ll take each section of our story (Beginning, then Middle, then End), and flush out each section into smaller, more manageable pieces. Then we’ll use those pieces to build on and strengthen our story structure! Stay tuned, but in the meantime, here’s an inspirational word and song from our sponsors…

NaNoWri/ScriMo Inspirational Quote & Song of the Day

“When you march to the beat of your own drum, you will always be in sync.” – Me

And now, a word from one of the world’s most inspirational artists of all time, Michael Jackson. Unbreakable, baby. It’s what we are as writers! 😉

And that’s all, everyone! Hope this beat sheet helps you to start thinking about your novel from a more cinematic perspective and your screenplay from a more structured one. Do you have any “BFG”s that you use in your writing that help you with plotting? Drop your suggestions here! 🙂

Keep it indie (and write on, rock on),
<3 Colby

P.S. I’m sure you’ve noticed that I’m super behind in my NaNoWriMo word count. I’ve got about 10% of my novel done at 5,704 words. Can I make up the difference in the next two weeks? 😉 Guess we’ll be finding out! Stay tuned.

Plotting Your Novel and Screenplay #1: Story Beats and the Beat Sheet

nanowrimoAll righty, folks, as a part of a NaNoWriMo special series, we’ll be talking both novel-writing and screenwriting all month long! From plotting to dialogue to character development to “vomit drafts”, we’ll talk it all. 😉 Every post will also end with a bit of writing and musical inspiration, courtesy of Yours Truly. Ain’t I nice? So let’s get into it!

Obviously, plot is a huge component of any story. It provides us the direction, the speed, and the logical conclusion to most stories, and in this way, a plot is very much like a map! But instead of your end destination being Aruba, our destination is a coherent and hopefully, kick-ass, novel or screenplay! But how do we go about drawing out this narrative “map” that will lead us to glory? For me, I start with BEAT SHEETS.

The Beat and the Beat Sheet

Before we can talk about the “beat sheet”, we gotta talk about what a beat is.

A beat is a point in the scene where the character’s objectives or emotions change. It’s a point of conflict, a moment of action and reaction.

For example: Let’s say I’m writing a story called “Colby Assassin”. Colby is a loving housewife-by-day and a ninja-assassin-by-night, kurenai_oukabut finds that these two identities don’t complement each other quite as smoothly as she’d like.

Let’s say that Colby can’t come to her son’s baseball game or put the pot roast in the over because she needs to assassinate a Yakuza boss. Colby has to make an important decision, or take an action, which will then determine a set of reactions from herself, her son, and her husband.

Choice #1:
* Colby’s action: she goes to the baseball game and keeps the Yakuza boss alive
* Reaction #1: her son and husband stay happy
* Reaction #2: tthe pot roast gets cooked
* Reaction #3: the Yakuza boss, having expected a doomsday, is so happy he’s alive that he goes on a killing spree, upping his evil points
* Reaction #4: Colby’s master, the city shogun, condemns her for refusing to follow orders and sends a team of assassins after her

hinata

Hinata (from the series, “Naruto”), my favorite female ninja of all time!

Choice #2:
* Colby’s action: she doesn’t go to the baseball game, and instead kills the Yakuza boss
* Reaction #1: her son and husband are sad and angry with her; son disowns her and husband begins to drift into the arms of another woman
* Reaction #2: pot roast gets eaten by maggots on the counter. This brings other insects into the house, creating a real and metaphorical infestation of house and home
* Reaction #3: the Yakuza boss is forcibly retired, and his evil reign is stopped, which spreads new peace over the territories
* Reaction #4: the shogun promotes Colby for a job well done and she has a shot at becoming the first female samurai of 2013

Do you see all the reactions that occurred because of Colby’s one action? ALL of these are considered BEATS in a story.

But how do we string a list of beats together to give us a juicy plot that makes sense from beginning to end? Well, of course, we employ the…

The Beat Sheet

beat sheet example

Example of a beat sheet! Click for bigger image.

Ultimately, any plot is a string of “cause-and-effect” outcomes of characters’ decisions. In other words, it’s bunch of beats strung together. When beats are listed out in relation to one another (much like the example above), it’s called a beat sheet.

beat sheet is a literal listing out of all the points of conflict, the emotional changes, and the moments of action and reaction from the beginning of your story to the end. It includes ALL the important turning points in a story, giving us story powered by “cause-and-effect”.

In the beginning, beat sheets won’t always be neat and pretty. Sometimes, you’ll have multiple ideas as to how your story should turn out. Maybe you think Colby doesn’t only have two main choices to make. Maybe she has five! And maybe each of these five choices comes with its own set of actions and reactions.

Deeper still, our story characters will have their own motivations and goals, and those goals may change the actions and reactions we might normally expect from our characters. For example, maybe even if Colby misses the baseball game and dinner, her son will still see her as the best mom in the world. Maybe in turn, her husband will see Colby’s devotion to her family as weakness and will go out to cheat on her anyway. Who knows? The possibilities are endless, and BECAUSE they’re endless, I’m going to give you a fun NaNoWriMo assignment that will help you flush out ideas for your novel without making you feel too limited.

“Cause-and-Effect” Beat Sheet Activity

concept map

A blank concept map for your character drama!

1. Draw a concept map like the one on the right. Place your character smack in the middle.

2. Give your character a set of choices. Have these choices branch off of your character like branches from a tree. Start with two choices, but you can even grow those choices to three or more.

3. Branching off from these choices, list / draw out ALL the possible reactions and emotional shifts that can occur because of those choices, no matter how silly, over-the-top, or crazy! List out internal / emotional / mental changes as well as physical, interpersonal, and societal-level changes. Go as quickly as you can without stopping too long to think about it. Let the choices, actions, and reactions develop naturally. Your character’s choices should affect himself, other people, other cities, other families, other countries, other worlds. Your concept map will grow like crazy!

lucidchart-14wgnq94. Don’t be afraid to explore other characters in this concept map as well! Maybe one character’s choice forces another character to make a certain choice. Explore and expand that in the concept map. If the map gets too big, then give the character his own map. It’s better though if you can have all the cause-and-effect relationships on one page, so that you can see your web of entanglement.

5. Don’t worry about being neat, coherent, or sensible. We’ll organize all of our thoughts later when we talk about dramatic structure. In the meantime, keep building up your flowchart, and let your imagination run wild!

FREE FLOW CHART SOFTWARE: Need some help finding the right tools to do this? You can either do this on hardcopy paper or, check out Lucidchart, which is a free service for creating online concept maps or flow charts!

And now, an inspirational word and song from our sponsors…

NaNoWri/ScriMo Inspirational Quote & Song of the Day

 “When you life knocks you down, try to land on your back, because if you can look up, you can get up.” – Les Brown

Feeling pumped?! Now, go and “get more shine than a little bit” like Willow Smith as you Whip Your Hair and write your butt off. 😉

And that’s all I got fer ya, folks! If you have a minute in between words, I’d love to hear your tips and feedback on how to generate plot ideas, if you have any that work for you! Stay tuned for the next “Plotting” post, keep writing, and as always…

Keep it indie (and write on, rock on),
<3 Colby

P.S. NaNoWriMo / ScriMo Update: I’m reporting in with a whopping 3,220 words finished for my second leg of “The Final Page” (already at 62,254 words). This brings me up to a total of 65,474 words! Still got 46, 780 words to go to win NaNoWriMo, though!