Can’t Stop the Movement. Diversity Takes Hollywood by Storm! ;-)

I had to post this as a quick HOLLA to Hollywood and to everyone who’s trying to break in:

DIVERSITY IS KICKING ASS.

There are just SO many shows out here changing the game, especially where diversity– in casts, story lines, and the people who write them– is concerned. And these shows are AMAZING. No shuckin’ and jivvin’ over here, boo. Each one of the shows I’m going to mention below has chair-gripping story lines, all-star casts, amazing cinematography, fantastic writing, and conflict and situations that’ll keep you on the edge of your couch.

And they have the followings to prove it.

So here’s a list of the kick ass shows that lovers of good television should be tuned into.

Empire

empireI just saw the premiere last night, and I was BLOWN. AWAY. Even with my own contentions with “hip hop culture”, I was immediately drawn into “Empire” and was kept in suspense for the entire 45 minutes. And to be honest, the hip hop culture is really just a backdrop for what is a truly compelling family drama about sacrifice, betrayal, and the scramble for power. Definitely give it a watch.

Description: A unique family drama set in the world of a hip hop empire. DRAMA

How to Get Away with Murder

howtogetawaywithmurderViola Davis is the badass of all badasses in this hot new sexy legal thriller that will leave you breathless and confused and always wanting more. Combine legal procedurals, an over arching murder mystery, and a kick ass cast, and you’ve got one of the hottest new dramas on network television. Not to mention the extremely diverse cast of characters in terms of both ethnicity and sexuality. Not to be missed!

Description: A group of ambitious law students and their brilliant criminal defense professor become involved in a twisted murder plot that promises to change the course of their lives. DRAMA

Black-ish

blackishReally the only sitcom that I actually like on network television right now, mostly because it’s super funny and super relatable. But the great thing about this show is that anybody can relate to the various family issues that are brought up here. It’s hilarious, and I highly recommend it!

Description: A family man struggles to gain a sense of cultural identity while raising his kids in a predominantly white, upper-middle-class neighborhood. COMEDY

Scandal

scandalI can’t say enough good things about Scandal. Yet another one of Shonda Rhimes’ megahits, Scandal is a really saucy political thriller with tons of awesome twists and turns. The cast is phenomenal, especially Kerry Washington who blows me away with her performance every week. I really love the characters’ storylines and chemistry. The overall plot is really hot as well. The first two seasons are my favorite, but this show is still strong in many areas in seasons three and four. If you haven’t tuned into Scandal yet, not even to just check it out, then you are really behind the times.

Description: A former White House Communications Director starts her own crisis management firm only to realize her clients are not the only ones with secrets. DRAMA

Power

powerThis is a story of a powerful drug lord trying to go straight, and of all of the people who are trying to pull him in either direction. This new Starz hit is extremely popular, and you need to tune into it ASAP!

Description: James “Ghost” St. Patrick, a wealthy New York night club owner who has it all, catering for the city’s elite and dreaming big, lives a double life as a drug kingpin. DRAMA

 

Jane the Virgin

janethevirginOmg, now this is a cute one. CW time, ya’ll! Young, sweet-faced Jane is devout, uber-religious, and uber SCREWED when a dumb doctor accidentally inseminates her with her hott former-boss’ sperm. Yeah, I know it sounds cray cray, but it’s a super adorable and entertaining show. And it’s so good that it’s been nominated for TWO Golden Globes in its FIRST season! Beat that!

Description: A young, devout woman discovers that she was accidentally artificially inseminated. DRAMA

Being Mary Jane

being mary janeThe indestructible Mara Brock Akil (producer of Moesha, The Jamie Foxx Show, Girlfriends, and The Game) does it again with a hot new drama starring the luscious, fierce Gabrielle Douglas. Gorgeous, flawed, and flossin’, Mary Jane rocks it with her talk show. But her love life? More rocky than rockin’ it, and that’s the beauty of it. Check it out, and get addicted.

Description: The story and life of a black woman, her work, her family as well as her popular talk show which she hosts. DRAMA

Fresh Off the Boat

freshofftheboatI’m super excited for this one. this show will premiere this February, and this is the first time in 20 years that an Asian comedy with an all Asian cast will be on the air. It’s a comedy with some awesome sociological undertones, just like Blackish. Can’t wait to see it!

Description: A Taiwanese family makes their way in America during the 1990s. COMEDY

So there you have it, folks. It’s an awesome lineup for 2015, and hopefully we will see success and high ratings across the board. I am just so happy that people are giving these shows a chance and aren’t assuming that diversity automatically equals something of lesser quality. On the contrary, we are starting to see a manifestation of what most of us already know: that diversity only enhances and deepens the already fantastic stories being told in movies and television right now.

So you know what’s next right? A divers sci-fi and fantasy blockbuster TV show. At least I hope! So what about you? What kinds of diverse shows in which genres do YOU hope to see in the future? Leave your thoughts and comments below, and as always…

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

january

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Rebel Ragdoll’s growing one step at a time!

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

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

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

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

Rebel Ragdoll Review: The Walking Dead, Season 4, Episode 1: 30 Days Without an Accident

walkingdeadseason4Here’s a Rebel Ragdoll Review for the hottest horror series on television, The Walking Dead! There’ll be a post every week, a couple of days after the airing of each episode (so that I don’t spoil it for you).

In any case, the season premiere throws us back into the world of Rick and his cheerful compatriots as they struggle to make a new life in the aftermath of the battle with the Governor. Things look as though they are quite idyllic at the prison… or are they?

If you’ve already seen the episode, then check out my review of it below! 🙂

Season 4, Episode 1: 30 Days Without an Accident REVIEW

So what about you? What did you think of the first episode? 🙂 Share your thoughts below! And in the meantime…

Keep it indie,
<3 Colby

Merging the Writer-Producer (and so it begins!)

merge signSo, we’ve talked about being a writer and being a producer, and yep… now we’re smashing them together like PB & J, yo! No, but seriously, what are the benefits of writing films and producing them? Why not just be one or the other? For me personally, it’s about a few things:

* Expanding, exercising, and honing my skills holistically. I LOVE learning new things, LOVE IT. And from my experience (limited as it is), writing and producing are generally two separate skill sets. For the most part, writing is creative while producing is pretty analytical (and social). Toggling between skill sets keeps me on my toes and keeps me excited about a project. (It can be argued though that using analysis in writing and creativity in producing is often necessary in the most McGuyver of ways!)

* Being a writer-producer (or a writer-anything) just opens more doors. In both the indie and commercial entertainment worlds, having dual skill sets provides opportunities for you in terms of more work, contacts, and experience. You’d not only havedoor the skills to conceptualize an awesome story and write it, but you’d also know how to actually fund, develop, and get that script onto the screen. Or, imagine that you are a writer and also line producer, producer, or even an awesome assistant director. In between tearing your hair out about dialogue or shopping your scripts around town, you have a marketable skill set that will get you on films, paid, and credited. There’s no losing here, in my opinion.

* You have a hand in supply (writing) and demand (producing). Bottom line: writers are the lifeblood of the entertainment industry. They are the dream makers and world builders. They give actors characters to act, carpenters sets to build, and filmmakers stories to produce. Writers fashion the supply for the entertainment market, and fresh writing voices will ALWAYS be in demand. On that note, if writers comprise the lifeblood of Hollywood, then producers are most certainly the hearts that pump it. Films and tv series don’t make themselves, you know. There needs to be a dedicated and passionate producer (or many producers) shepherding a script through the dark labyrinth of supplydemanddevelopment hell so that it makes the journey from the page to the screen. Money needs to be raised, ideas need to be developed and honed, and casts and directors need to be attached. Producers do all of this to get films and tv made. The most successful producers do this over and over with critical acclaim and a loyal audience. They fill the demands of the market. As a writer-producer, you essentially are involved in the film production process literally from the very beginning to the very end.

And finally, what is the BEST benefit of being both a writer and a producer?

* YOU DON’T NEED ANYONE’S PERMISSION TO BE CREATIVE. So you wrote a script or a tv pilot. It kicked ass, and you aren’t the only one who thinks so. Someone might have even paid you money to rent it from you because they believed in it so much. But then, Hollywood happens. Development hell happens. A studio going under happens. Suddenly,

you got the greenlight, baby!

you got the greenlight, baby!

you and your script-baby are thrust back out into the cold with a “sorry, we’re closed” sign hung on the door of every studio you turn to.

So. What? You’re just going to let your dream die? Or are you going to transform from writer to writer-producer to see your dream realized? If you are content with the well-known Hollywood game of winning few and losing many (and I’m certainly not faulting you if you are), then sure, let the script go and move on to the next project. But for those of us who are filmmakers and want to literally make film, we no longer need permission from a big studio or network to do so. If I really loved my project and just couldn’t let it go, I’d produce it myself. As both a writer and producer, you give yourself the freedom to create. You don’t need permission from anyone. 😉

And this is how I’m rolling. As many of you know, I have my foot in the indie world and am gunning for a spot in the commercial world as well. Commercially, I’m looking to be a tv drama writer, feature film writer, and eventually, an Executive Producer of a cable or network television drama series. My foci are sci-fi and fantasy, horror, true crime, and political drama. On the side, I also work as a freelance Line Producer and Unit Production Manager, and this is a role I’ll continue to take on for both indie and commercial projects.

RebelRagdollD04bR01bP02ZL-Jefferson1bAt the same time, though, I have also established Rebel Ragdoll, an independent female-identified media production house. Currently Rebel Ragdoll has over thirty creative projects on its ever-growing development slate, and I’m amped about every single one of them. I’ll be even more excited though when I’m finally able to acquire other female writers’ properties and produce them with all female crews.

Rebel Ragdoll is on a very specific mission: to increase the presence of female creators in the genres of sci-fi, fantasy, horror, true crime & noir, thriller, action, and adventure. We’ll not only produce novels, manga, comics, and graphic novels, but also film, original tv series, web series, and eventually, video games. I truly can’t wait to crew up with my dolls of distinction and get this mission off of the ground in 2014. Because, yeah, dolls set the trend. As writers, producers, directors, and more, we set the trend. And we do it with or without your permission. 😉

Keep it indie,
<3 Colby

Being an Aspiring Writer-Producer, Part I of II: The Writer

So, as you all might have noticed, I’ve made a bunch of little changes to the blog! For one, since I’m expanding my the producersown goals as a writer, I also have decided to expand the scope of this site so that I can share my failures, successes, and lessons with you!

One of the major questions people are asking me nowadays is: why be a writer-producer? 😉 More pressing, what IS a writer-producer? Well, I’ll tackle that one folks, but since both are huge questions, I’m going to take one side of the hyphen at a time!

So let’s start with the Writer. I think we all know what a writer is, so I won’t go into that. But a writer is only the sum of his works (because hey, writers write… right?). So I’d say that the measure of a writer lies in…

The Big Bad Ass Writing Portfolio

So let’s talk about it. You need to have some sort of creative plan for your writing career, i.e. how many works will you write and finish? What kinds of works? In what genres and in what voice? Are you going to be *just* a novelist? Or will you write across different media such as comics, screenplays, graphic novels, or television? These are all important questions to ask yourself as you build up your career. For me, choosing which media I want to write in came down to two things:

WHAT I LOVE TO WRITE and MARKETING

writing hubWhat I love to write: For me personally, prose and novels are my first love. Then, about a year ago, scriptwriting (and blogging, too!) nestled up next to my heart and made itself at home. Permanently. I tried playwriting and comic writing, and it was interesting, but it didn’t capture my heart as much as the other three. So I decided to focus on what I love and hone my craft in those areas. For you, your tastes may be different! A colleague of mine will dabble in different media, but she primarily loves to write comics. Yet another colleague of mine feels drawn to short story format. So you need to do some digging to find what it is you want in your writing portfolio.

Marketing: “Marketing?!” You say. “What in blazes does this have to do with anything?!” Well, writing can be consumed in many ways. People can read it, listen to it, absorb it in a tactile fashion, “play it” (via video games and RPGs) and of course, people can also watch your writing through theatre, feature films, and television. But I want my writing to be consumed primarily through prose, tv, or feature film (web series count too!), so my writing portfolio is going to reflect primarily those media. You may want to write on NCIS, but if you only have short stories to show a tv / film lit agent, you’re going to be ass out. “Bring me a screenplay,” he’ll tell you. “And don’t come back unless it’s good!” And SLAM! goes the door in your face. So you need to diversify your writing portfolio in a way that best markets yourself as a writer of different, er, markets.

Cranking out that Big Bad Portfolio: My advice? Treat your writing portfolio like a stock portfolio! It’s good to have different kinds of “options” or “properties” (intellectual properties, that is) available for readers and agents, depending on what your goals are. If you want a book agent, dust off those manuscripts! You want a feature film and tv literary agent? Get those screenplays off the press. It’s all up to you. Just make sure you write your butt off, writingFINISH your work, have A LOT of material to show, and edit edit edit until your work GLOWS.

From personal experience, it’s really heartbreaking to talk to someone about my work, and then have them ask, “Can I see a sample?”, only for my response to be “Uhhhh….”. Either I haven’t finished it, or I think it’s not ready to be shown! LOL. Even worse is to have a kick ass script or book, have an agent like it, and then when they ask to see more, you say “Huh? But I don’t have more!” D’oh!! You don’t want that to happen! So sit on down, get out your pen, and do four things:

1. Plan your writing career and what media you want to focus on

2. Decide what pieces you want in your big bad ass writing portfolio

3. Sit your butt in a chair and WRITE until you finish each piece (a writing schedule helps with this too!)

4. EDIT EDIT EDIT your work! Send it to other readers, have them tear it apart, and then EDIT EDIT EDIT again until your work shines.

That’s all there is to it, folks. Writers write. Point blank period. But if you’re looking to be a writer-something else, stay tuned! Writing is not the only way to participate in the entertainment industry. There are so many other roles to take on, learn about, and master. For me, it’s being a Producer, but we’ll talk about that next time in Part II of “Being an Aspiring Writer-Producer”!

Until then, keep it indie,
<3 Colby

I Kicked that Room’s Ass, II: Real Lessons Learned (and Successfully Applied) from Stephanie Palmer’s “Good in a Room”

goodinaroomSo here’s a continuation of the “Kicked that Room’s Ass” blog series! This series discusses the many things I learned from Stephanie Palmer’s “Good in a Room”. For those of you who missed the first installment, “Good in a Room” gives you the lay of the Hollywood landscape as Mrs. Palmer takes you into the minds of Hollywood and business execs and helps to you not only put them at ease and form a genuine connection with you, but also to potentially wow them with your self-presentation and your ideas.

One major note: My definition of success at the moment is “having a good meeting”. I was traveling with a group of students when I had these experiences so no one was actually *pitching* their ideas. In truth, we were pitching ourselves. My indication of the meeting being a success was whether or not I was able to draw the exec’s attention (in a good way) and develop a good in-meeting rapport. So take this into account!

Anyways, let’s get it on! Here’s the second MAJOR thing I learned about talking to execs in Hollywood:

2. It’s not really about you. Even when it *is* about you (and your pitch), it’s not about you. And you want it that way. (Good in a Room, Chapter 23: Dumb is the New Smart)

This goes back to the earlier post on “outward focus”. In other words, find out what the exec is interested in, what he needs, what his priorities are. Ask meaningful questions about him and his needs, not how he is going to best serve you. ALSO, don’t try to complete the exec’s sentences, show off your knowledge (even if you are a whiz at acting/writing/post-production stuff, etc), and never say “I KNOW” (because you really don’t know ’til you’ve been there, trust me!).

All this will help you with any meeting you have on your plate because:

  • The exec will believe (and rightfully so) that you are concerned not only with your own success, but with his success and that of the company as well.

    crying-meme

    but, but! ::sniff sniff:: I thought it was about MEEEE!

  • Nothing in Hollywood gets done without a team, and so one of the keys to being regarded highly in Hollywood is to be a team player. Team players are about the team, not only about themselves.
  • Focusing on “making an impression” puts a lot of pressure on only one individual: YOU. Take that pressure off by asking questions, being receptive, and coaxing “collaboration” into the conversation. Make it a learning session where two people are forming a connection, rather than a selling session, where only you are giving and the other is receiving.

So please. Don’t be like the guy in the pic above! ::side eye::

Again, meeting an exec isn’t always about knocking his socks off, it’s about being smart, curious, willing to help, and being an absolute pleasure to spend time with. So be yourself, keep asking questions, and use your meeting as a learning experience. Dumb is the new smart, because “being dumb” helps you to realize that it’s not about YOU.

So what about you? Have you ever been in a situation (professional or personal) where “being curious” rather than being the “hot shot” worked well? Share your experiences below!

Stay tuned for future posts, and as always:

Keep it indie,
<3 Colby