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June 2011
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It can take me several tries to come up with a perfect first line for a new novel. I will agonize over it. Often times, I'll write the first line and walk away. Let it settle in a bit. When I come back to see how it looks on the page, I will immediately delete it and start all over again.

 

We've all been taught the importance of a book's beginning. It's your readers' first impression of a story. If they like it, they will read on, but if they don't like it, they're likely to put the book down and never give it another thought. Most of us are taught that the beginning is the most important part of the story.

 

Or is it? I find myself sweating the final words of the book as much as I sweat the first words. The ending can either leave the readers satisfied and happy if done correctly or frustrated and angry if done poorly. The way you end your story may determine if they decide to read your next book or not.

 

As writers, we want every word of our books to be perfect and loved, but try looking at it from a publisher's point of view. As an independent author, you are a publisher after all. Where would you, the publisher, put the emphasis? Not sure? Here's a little exercise to help you determine what you value more:

 

Pretend you have 100 total points to spread out between your beginning and your ending. The number of points you assign to each section determines how good that section is. You could give both a score of 50, but that means your beginning and ending are both mediocre. Mediocre doesn't sell. As the publisher, what do you think sells: a stronger beginning or a stronger ending? Many of you would choose a stronger beginning in this situation, and I don't think you would be wrong. It's my opinion that a strong beginning sells more books than a strong ending.

 

However, it's an impossible choice as a writer. We don't want any part of our books to have less of an impact than the other. But with our publisher hats on, we tend to think in more practical terms. We see what the reader values more.

 

What's your opinion? Does the beginning or the ending matter more?

 

-Richard

Richard Ridley is an award-winning author and paid CreateSpace contributor.

 

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Your First Line Can Help You Sell Books

The Importance of Endings

2,906 Views 0 Comments 0 References Permalink Tags: books, authors, book, writers, writing, beginning, ending
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Welcome to Tuesday's blog roundup. This is the day we shine the spotlight on bloggers and artists in the publishing, film and music industries.

 

Books/Publishing

 

Twitter Profile Mistakes Writers Should Avoid - GalleyCat

The folks at GalleyCat offer some sage advice on how to properly construct your Twitter profile.

 

How Blogging Helped a Science Fiction Author Find New Fans - Publishing Talk

A firsthand account of how blogging helped one author build his brand.

 

Film

 

Make Cheap Breakaway Glass...BETTER! - Indie Mogul

A tutorial from Zack at Indie Mogul that gives you tips on how to recycle breakaway glass that you can buy fairly cheaply.                 

 

High School Filmmakers Tear Down Walls - filmmaking.net

An inspiring story of resolve and determination by high school students on a mission to put their musical on video.

 

Music

 

The Jonathan Coulton, Amanda Hocking Success Formula - Bob Baker's Indie Music Promotion Blog

Bob Baker examines the phenomenal success of two of the latest internet sensations in the world of publishing and music.

 

Music Theory for Rock Musicians - Getting There

Composer and producer Robert Maddocks thinks too many rock musicians know very little about music.

 

-Richard

Richard Ridley is an award-winning author and paid CreateSpace contributor.

 

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Tuesday's Blog Roundup - June 21, 2011 Edition

Tuesday's Blog Roundup - June 14, 2011 Edition

1,962 Views 0 Comments 0 References Permalink Tags: authors, authors, music, music, filmmaking, filmmaking, indie, indie, blogging, blogging, twitter, twitter, musicians, musicians, filmmakers, filmmakers
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Malcolm Gladwell wrote a book a few years ago called The Tipping Point. It's an excellent examination of how something becomes a phenomenon. In Web 2.0 parlance, it's all about how something goes viral. I found the whole thing fascinating and educational, but one particular discussion in the book really grabbed my attention: the role of "Connectors" in a viral campaign.

 

Connectors are people who have a talent for making friends and acquaintances. They have a large network of people they reach on a regular basis. Gladwell identifies Paul Revere as one of the most famous Connectors. He illustrates Revere's influence as a Connector by comparing his famed ride with William Dawes' ride that same night. Both men rode into the New England darkness in opposite directions delivering the same message, "The British are coming!" Revere moved the people along his route to action. He galvanized a movement to take up arms against the British army. William Dawes' didn't have the same kind of success. His warning had far less impact.

 

Why? Both men were delivering the same message. The simple answer is that Revere was a Connector. He had made friends and acquaintances throughout his life who listened to him when it counted. He gave the message a special kind of authority.

 

So what is the lesson for us? Look for the Connectors in your life to help you spread the word about your book. The great thing about Connectors is that they usually want to help. They love helping their friends out and being part of the action. The message is important, so be sure to keep it consistent, but from a marketing standpoint, the messenger is the key to getting the word out.

 

-Richard

Richard Ridley is an award-winning author and paid CreateSpace contributor.

 

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It's Never Too Early to Get a Little Help from Your Friends

The Pursuit of the Retweet

2,140 Views 0 Comments 0 References Permalink Tags: books, books, authors, authors, marketing, marketing, book, book, promotion, promotion, message, message, messenger, messenger
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An Author's Work is Never Done

The Philadelphia Inquirer has discovered something that we authors have known for awhile: an author's work isn't done once the book is available for sale. One must toil and trudge in the world of self-promotion. It doesn't matter if you're published independently or traditionally; authors have to engage themselves in the marketing process. The Inquirer learned this while profiling author Jen Miller.

 

Although many might still consider it a glamorous gig - write a book, reap the rewards! - selling those books, especially for first-time authors, has become a lesson in perseverance. Stand-alone newspaper book sections, or even substantive morning TV and radio talk shows that would discuss the books, have dramatically decreased in numbers, as have the publicists who could book such appearances. There are fewer bookstores at which to hold signings and even fewer libraries that have the ability to hold author series. While publishers might still invest resources to promote a high-profile author, more of the selling part of the literary life is falling to the writers.

 

You can read the entire article on Philly.com: Author, author, plug that book!

 

Have Camera, Will Document

The seemingly impossible barriers to filmmaking have all but vanished. The equipment is affordable. The distribution options are numerous and easily accessible. The only real obstacle filmmakers face today is finding chunks of time to shoot their projects. Some may even call this the golden age of filmmaking. In fact, filmmaker Steve James did just that, albeit for a very specific kind of filmmaking.

 

Best known for Hoop Dreams, his 1994 portrait of two young basketball hopefuls (which won prizes including the Sundance audience award), James believes many of the brightest creative talents are now turning to documentaries. "I hope it's not like the real estate bubble, but I sincerely believe we are living in a golden age for documentary film-making," he says, speaking from Salt Lake City; this week he flies to Britain to give a masterclass at the Sheffield Doc/Fest and screen his new documentary The Interrupters. "The quality is incredible," James enthuses. "Before, people used to want to make narrative films, but suddenly people realised what you could do with documentary."

 

You can read the entire article on The Guardian's website: Steve James hails a 'golden age of documentary film-making'

 

Crowd-sourcing the King of Pop

Michael Jackson may have passed, but his music lives on. In fact, his estate has released some new material. When it came time to put a video together for his new song, Behind the Mask, they didn't want a video featuring archived footage of Jackson. They wanted something fresh and new, so they turned to the late pop star's fans for help. They incorporated the concept of crowd-sourcing by having fans contribute video clips and editing them together into a video for the new single.

 

Fans had access to a template video that was posted in March and were asked to shoot video footage of themselves executing a Jackson-like dance step, choreography routine, facial expression or other moves. They were integrated into a 4-minute video that incorporates more than 1,600 quick shots selected from among entries submitted from 103 countries. Most are young men and women in their teens and 20s, but there are also snippets from 2- and 3-year-old mini-MJs. Jackson's reach appears not to be limited to one species, as there's also a section from fans who shot their pets moving to the music.

 

You can read the entire article on The Los Angeles Times' website: Crowd-sourced video for Michael Jackson's 'Behind the Mask' premieres

 

-Richard

Richard Ridley is an award-winning author and paid CreateSpace contributor.

 

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Weekly News Brief - Books, Film, Music - June 17, 2011

Weekly News Brief - Books, Film, Music - June 10, 2011

1,780 Views 0 Comments 0 References Permalink Tags: books, books, authors, authors, marketing, marketing, book, book, music, music, filmmaking, filmmaking, documentary, documentary, films, films, filmmakers, filmmakers, crowdsourcing, crowdsourcing
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On Monday, I asked a question about marketing and talent and skill. Today, however, let's focus on writing. Does writing take more talent or more skill? As stated before, talent is something you are born with that just comes naturally to you. Skill is something developed over time through study and practice.

 

When people find out I'm a novelist, I am always surprised when they give me an unsolicited comment about their lack of writing talent. They insist they could never write a book. "Sure you could," I usually say, "if it's something you really want to do." That's when they usually tell me they just don't have the discipline.

 

And that's the core of the matter. Writing a book takes discipline. Since no one is forcing us to write a book, the discipline authors invoke usually stems from one thing: desire. We have a deep and burning desire to write. It drives us to write, even if there is little to no external reward for our efforts.

 

My desire to write has made me a better writer over time. The first thing I wrote was horrible. If you had the pleasure of reading it hot off the presses, you probably wouldn't have seen any talent for writing whatsoever. You may have even advised me to pursue another line of work. The last book I wrote was far superior to my earlier work. Why? Did I get more talented or did I increase my skill in the craft? 

 

Clearly, there are talented writers out there. Harper Lee wrote the perfect book the first time out of the gate, but she's an exception to the rule. The desire to write drives us to improve our craft by practicing. Writing skill is bound to develop as a result. There are so many ways to develop your skill as a writer -reading the greats, taking writing classes, participating in workshops, etc. - but I believe the best way to develop your skill as a writer is to simply write. Keep your head down and fingers on the keyboard and just write until you find your voice. Feed your desire. So, perhaps the answer is that writing isn't strictly a talent or a skill. It's a desire to produce the best possible work we can.

 

-Richard

Richard Ridley is an award-winning author and paid CreateSpace contributor.

 

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Gaining Perspective When Writing

Why Are You An Author?

2,831 Views 0 Comments 0 References Permalink Tags: books, books, books, authors, authors, authors, book, book, book, writers, writers, writers, writing, writing, writing, craft, craft, craft, talent, talent, talent
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Welcome to Tuesday's blog roundup. This is the day we shine the spotlight on bloggers and artists in the publishing, film and music industries.

 

Books/Publishing

 

4 Steps to Publish an E-Book: Tap into Your Existing Articles - Content Marketing Institute

Having trouble coming up with a new book idea? You may already have it, and you don't even know it.

 

The Facebook Mirror - Inside Higher Ed

Are social networks having a negative impact on our young people's ability to write correctly? 

 

Film

 

Seven Inspiring TED Talks about Filmmaking - No Film School

Top filmmakers in the industry take the stage at TED to talk about film as a form of art and communication.

 

Filmmaking and the Power of Connection - The Art & Business of Filmmaking & Photography

Filmmaker Ron Dawson reveals how he put together his crew by using his social and business connections. 

 

Music

 

Harmonic Elaboration - Getting There

Sometimes the wrong chord change can make a song better.

 

8 Greats: Starter Acoustic Guitars - Tonall

A little advice to make that wall of guitars in the music shop a little less confusing.

 

-Richard

Richard Ridley is an award-winning author and paid CreateSpace contributor.

 

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Tuesday's Blog Roundup - June 14, 2011 Edition

Tuesday's Blog Roundup - June 7, 2011 Edition

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Talent is something you are born with. It just comes naturally to you. Skill implies something that is developed over time. You learn the process, practice it, and may even fail many times before you master it. That brings us to our question: Is marketing more talent than skill, or is it the other way around?

 

Now I realize there are several components to marketing. You must develop a message for your marketing campaign. You have to select the media through which to deliver your message, and in our independent publishing world, you have to be the messenger. Certainly education and experience help you raise your game in these arenas, but will they help if you have no talent for marketing? 

 

Marketing professionals like Gary Vaynerchuk and Seth Godin are considered gurus. Vaynerchuk is a whirlwind of personality who approaches marketing like the Allies storming the beaches of Normandy. He hosts an active blog, records frequent personal videos, and makes numerous appearances. He basically saturates the web with his presence and personality. Godin, on the other hand, takes the low-key approach. He hosts an active blog and makes several high-profile appearances every year. He is all about the information. Two different gurus with two different styles; they may have been born with a certain talent for marketing, but it's more likely something they've developed as a skill over time through practice and study.

 

This is encouraging to those of us who aren't born marketers. Marketing is a skill you can develop and hone. It takes a keen sense of observation and a lot of hard work to master the ins and outs of marketing. Given that there so many things to know about marketing - demographics, media outlets, effective messaging, branding, etc. - it just makes sense that skill has a bigger impact than talent. If you apply yourself, you can succeed. Who knows? You may even become a guru like Vaynerchuk and Godin.

 

-Richard

Richard Ridley is an award-winning author and paid CreateSpace contributor.

 

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Keep a Brand Journal

Branding vs. Marketing for Authors

1,694 Views 0 Comments 0 References Permalink Tags: books, authors, marketing, promotion, promotions, talent
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The Dark Side of Young Adult Fiction

Thanks to an article by Meghan Cox Gurdon in The Wall Street Journal, a debate is percolating on the internet about the dark nature of today's young adult fiction. Gurdon makes the argument that today's offerings for young adults subject their young minds to disorders and pathologies that were too sensitive to mention just a generation ago, and she's not happy about it. She believes things have gone too far.

 

Yet it is also possible - indeed, likely - that books focusing on pathologies help normalize them and, in the case of self-harm, may even spread their plausibility and likelihood to young people who might otherwise never have imagined such extreme measures. Self-destructive adolescent behaviors are observably infectious and have periods of vogue. That is not to discount the real suffering that some young people endure; it is an argument for taking care.

 

You can read the entire article on The Wall Street Journal's website: Darkness Too Visible

 

Can You Keep a Secret?

J.J. Abrams has a reputation for keeping secrets. In fact, his style is to surprise the audiences that watch his TV shows and come to his movies. He doesn't like to reveal the payoff until it's absolutely necessary. That works great for storytelling, but wreaks havoc on your marketing efforts. How do you get people to come to a movie if they don't really know what it's about? The marketing team for Abrams' new movie, Super 8, has had a time generating blockbuster-type interest for the film.       

 

Audience tracking surveys show that though older moviegoers, particularly men, are interested in seeing the picture, younger ticket buyers - historically, the drivers of summer smashes - so far have been slow to warm to the film. In other words, people who remember 1979 are more likely to want to see "Super 8" than those for whom it's ancient history. There's some evidence this week that moviegoers' enthusiasm has ticked up, giving the studio hope that buzz is building in the last few days before release. But still, people who have analyzed the data say "Super 8" likely will take in a little less than $30 million on its first weekend - a solid start given the film's budget but a relative shrimp in the summer tent-pole season.

 

You can read the entire article on the Los Angeles Times' website: Word of Mouth: 'Super 8' seeks an audience among the summer tent poles

 

Taking It to the Street

Getting a record deal depends on the number of Twitter followers and Facebook friends you have, right? It's insane to think you can create a following, sell CDs and catch the attention of a major label and booking agency just by performing on the street, right? I mean, this is 2011, where social media is king. The current line of thought is that you have to conquer the virtual world in order to take over the real world. Not so fast. John West is making it on the streets of Santa Monica. 

 

For the last four years, the 28-year-old Baton Rouge, La., native has been a mainstay on the promenade, where he's fine-tuned his brand of acoustic/urban alternative pop that suggests Justin Timberlake and Jack Johnson. West has sold more than 35,000 copies of three independently released EPs while performing twice each Saturday and Sunday. Those impressive sales recently landed West a booking deal with Creative Artists Agency and a record deal with Mercury/Island Def Jam records, where he is at work on his as-yet-untitled debut.

 

You can read the entire article on the Los Angeles Times' website: For John West, being a street performer doesn't mean a life in the gutter

 

-Richard

Richard Ridley is an award-winning author and paid CreateSpace contributor.

 

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Weekly News Brief - Books, Film, Music - June 10, 2011

Weekly News Brief - Books, Film, Music - June 3, 2011

1,634 Views 0 Comments 0 References Permalink Tags: books, books, authors, authors, marketing, marketing, book, book, music, music, fiction, fiction, ya, ya, musicians, musicians, filmmakers, filmmakers
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When I decided to write a series, I didn't realize the enormity of what I had committed to. In essence, you're writing a book in stages over a period of years that will, in my case, be about 360,000 words. It is sometimes a daunting case that has me wondering if I made the right decision. Each time I complete a manuscript in the series, I breathe a heavy sigh of relief, and every time I start a new manuscript, I have a deep sense of doubt that I will be able to pull it off.

 

I wrote the first book relying on a single plot for that particular title. I then signed with an agent, and she requested that I provide a synopsis for every book in the series. After gasping in horror, I asked her to give me a week to have them in her inbox. A week later, I delivered them to her has promised. How did I do it? This is the basic blueprint I followed to plot the series, which I think most aspiring series writers can follow:

 

  1. I wrote a one sentence description of the whole series. What was the series about? The details of it didn't concern me; I just wanted to explain the essence of the series.

  2. What are the rules of the series? This series has some sci-fi/fantasy elements to it, so I had established some "if this, then that" scenarios for the first book. Those became the rules of the series. No book thereafter in the series could violate those rules.

  3. I came up with the titles of the six books in my series. With the titles established, I had a sense of each story.

  4. I wrote one-sentence descriptions of each of the six books. Again, I wasn't concerned with the details at this point. I just wanted to know what each book was about in the simplest terms.

  5. I wrote a one-page synopsis for each of the six books. Here's where the details came into play, and I started focusing on character arcs. How would I establish the opportunity for each of my characters to change over the course of each book? This was by far the hardest part of the process. Character arcs for a single book are fairly straightforward, but character arcs for the same characters over six books is like juggling knives. You have to make sure you don't become repetitive or radical. The growth should be organic and subtle.

Presently, I'm two books away from finishing my series. I don't know if I'll ever tackle a series again, but I'm glad I did it. I've learned a lot from the process. The lesson that has stuck with me the most that I'll pass on to you is the importance of preparation. Knowing where I'm going and what needs to be done has given me solace on those days when writer's dread taps on my shoulder and tries to convince me that I should be watching television instead.

 

Are there any writers out there who can comment on their experience preparing for a book series?

 

-Richard

Richard Ridley is an award-winning author and paid CreateSpace contributor.

 

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Branding vs. Marketing for Authors

The First 5 Weeks of a Manuscript - Week 1: Idea, Character, Plot, First Pages

5,185 Views 0 Comments 0 References Permalink Tags: books, books, authors, authors, book, book, writers, writers, writing, writing, outline, outline, series, series, craft, craft
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Welcome to Tuesday's blog roundup. This is the day we shine the spotlight on bloggers and artists in the publishing, film and music industries.

 

Books/Publishing

 

Use an eBook To Build Your Brand - Huffington Post

And the rest of the world catches up. Indie publishing is a great vehicle for establishing an audience and building your brand.

 

When Bad People Write Great Books - Salon.com

Do you really want to know if your favorite author is a jerk, or would you rather just live in ignorant bliss?

 

Film

 

Think About Film Making Plus The Internet? - Better Concerts and Music

Oh what a joyous time to be a filmmaker! It is ripe for indies to gain an audience for their film projects.

 

Mystery Marketing is No Substitute for Good Filmmaking - Flickering Myth

Chris Nolan and J.J. Abrams are just two of the filmmakers this summer who are trying to have their cake and eat it, too. How do you market a movie without giving too much away? 

 

Music

 

David Pakman: The Best Part of 'Social' is the Data - Hybebot

It's no secret that your online activity is constantly being monitored. Dave Parkman, former eMusic CEO, thinks that's a good thing for musicians.

 

Do I Need Talent to Sing or Play Music? - Music After 50

It's a question you can apply to almost any artistic endeavor. What does it take to be a good musician?

 

-Richard

Richard Ridley is an award-winning author and paid CreateSpace contributor.

 

You may also be interested in...

 

Tuesday's Blog Roundup - June 7, 2011 Edition

Tuesday's Blog Roundup - May 31, 2011 Edition

1,616 Views 0 Comments 0 References Permalink Tags: self_publishing, self_publishing, authors, authors, music, music, filmmaking, filmmaking, self-publishing, self-publishing, indie, indie, social, social, musicians, musicians, filmmakers, filmmakers
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I admit I am not a social animal. Parties are not my thing. I enjoy intimate dinners with friends in quiet restaurants. But when the occasional invitation to a party comes my way, I feel the need (or, in rare cases, desire) to accept. When the night of the gathering arrives, I start sweating it about an hour before I leave the house. My pre-party consternation centers on the one question I know I will be asked by the strangers I will meet: "What do you do for a living?"

 

I'm a writer. That's the easy answer. It is what I do, after all. I write and receive money for my effort, but the minute you become "the writer in the room," attention shifts to you because most people have preconceived notions of the writer's life. Primarily, they assume you're interesting, that you rub elbows with the rich and fabulous, and that you jet around the globe doing book signings and cashing checks. When they discover that 90% of my time is spent in a small room with my dog and a computer, you can see their perception of what they think a writer is go the way of Santa Claus.

 

I've almost let my dread of the "writer" discussion prevent me from revealing my true occupation on more than one occasion. But luckily, I never go to a party without my wife, who always chimes in about what I do, and, more importantly, about my books. I say "luckily" because one of my best connections came from the "writer" discussion my wife initiated at a party. It turned out the person we were talking to was a teacher. Because of that connection, I made three appearances at her school, and, as a result, I sold a lot of books and gained many new readers.

 

Don't shy away, then, from the "writer" discussion or valuable chances to network in person and spread the word about your books. Even if it's not your primary source of income, you are a writer. Own it. Celebrate it. Spread the word proudly so others can start spreading the word on your behalf.

 

-Richard

Richard Ridley is an award-winning author and paid CreateSpace contributor.

 

You may also be interested in...

 

Four Tips for Real-Life Networking

Why Are You An Author?

1,596 Views 0 Comments 0 References Permalink Tags: authors, marketing, networking, writers, writing
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Does Reading Lead to a New and Improved You?

What can reading a great novel do for you? Can it make you smarter, kinder, or more sensitive to the world around you? A new memoir by William Deresiewicz, A Jane Austen Education: How Six Novels Taught Me About Love, Friendship and the Things That Really Matter, seems to suggest that it can. The author believes that he is the man he is today because of Jane Austen. But Laura Miller with Salon.com takes issue with his assertion. In her words:

 

Does reading great literature make you a better person? I've not seen much evidence for this common belief. Some of the best-read people I know are thoroughgoing jerks, and some of the kindest and noblest verge on the illiterate - which is admittedly an anecdotal argument, but then, when it comes to this topic, what isn't?

 

You can read the entire article on Salon.com: Does reading great books make you a better person?

 

Sometimes Rejection Leads to Great Things

What do you do when you can't get your independent movie into a film festival? If you're Leslee Scallon and Michael Trent, you start your own film festival. They contacted 15 other independent filmmakers, called their festival "Dances With Films" and had a great time. When they had an after-festival party in their apartment and announced it was just a onetime affair, the other filmmakers in their makeshift festival begged them to keep it going.       

 

And so they continued. The 14th annual Dances With Films kicks off Thursday evening at Laemmle's Sunset 5 and continues through June 9. Billing itself as the "Last Independent Independent Film Festival," the event typically attracts 6,000 to 7,000 patrons during the week and includes an awards ceremony. The festival is funded by sponsorships, submissions, tickets and volunteers. "We range from about 1,100 to 1,400 submissions depending on the year," Scallon said. "We have shown films from all over the world. We had a film from India that was a one-minute short, and the filmmaker actually came in from India for the premiere."

 

You can read the entire article on the Los Angeles Times' website: Dances With Films was born of rejection

 

You Haven't Lived Until You've Rocked a Cemetery!

So the good news is you got a gig in Hollywood. The bad news is that gig is a cemetery. You read right. Bands have found a new venue to showcase their musical talents, a cemetery called Hollywood Forever. The grounds are home to some of the silver screen's biggest deceased legends, such as Rudolph Valentino, Douglas Fairbanks and Cecil B. DeMille. There are even a few legendary musical acts that call Hollywood Forever their final resting spot, but clearly the most astonishing thing about the cemetery is that bands are dying to play there (sorry, I had to do it).

 

One of the most popular recent shows at the cemetery was Austin's cinematic, instrumental experimenters Explosions in the Sky. The band's Munaf Rayani says of the experience, "Very rarely does one get a chance to play for the living and the dead. We were lucky to get the opportunity." The week before the performance, the cemetery opened its gates to a handful of visual artists, each of whom created a piece to accompany a song from Explosions' new album. The crowd roamed the park after dark listening to music among the gravestones.

 

You can read the entire article on the Los Angeles Times' website: Hollywood Forever comes alive with music

 

-Richard

Richard Ridley is an award-winning author and paid CreateSpace contributor.

 

You may also be interested in...

 

Weekly News Brief - Books, Film, Music - June 3, 2011

Weekly News Brief - Books, Film, Music - May 27, 2011

1,648 Views 0 Comments 0 References Permalink Tags: authors, authors, music, music, filmmaking, filmmaking, festival, festival, reading, reading, musicians, musicians, filmmakers, filmmakers, independent_film, independent_film
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When I dreamed of being a writer, I never thought I would have the patience and follow-through to ever finish a novel. They're so long! When I first decided I wanted to be a writer, I turned to a shorter format: screenplays. A final screenplay is usually no more than 120 pages and it consists largely of dialogue. Easy, right? I know it's not the most ambitious way to make a career choice, but I was an 18-year-old kid with very little confidence in my writing. I figured the less I wrote, the less chance I had to demonstrate my lack of writing talent.

 

I devoured books on writing screenplays. I read as many screenplays as I could find. I attended film festivals that had writer's workshops. I learned everything I could before I wrote my first word in a screenplay. Six months and 120 pages later, I had my first screenplay. I'm sure it was terrible, and probably completely unoriginal. It's long since disappeared within the virtual world of evolving data storage devices. 

 

It was bad, but I learned so much from the experience. The most important lesson I learned was to create a very well-defined story structure. Screenplays are divided into three acts. Normally, act one occurs on pages 1-30, act two takes place between pages 31-90 and the final act happens from pages 91-120. These page numbers are somewhat fluid, but the basic rule of thumb is that one page equals one minute of screen time. I also learned that act one should end with an event that catapults the story into the second act, where all the major conflict takes place. In addition, act two should end with an event that pushes the story to a conclusion.

 

Eventually, I moved into the world of novels. And I've often thought about the "laws" of structure in screenplays. Do I subconsciously apply them to my novel writing? Can you break a book down into three acts (beyond the basic beginning, middle and end concept)? Obviously, you can't apply the 30-90-120 rule in the strictest sense, but are the catalysts for change in place at the same rhythmic pace? I have to say the answer is most likely yes. I wrote 12 screenplays before I attempted my first novel, so the story structure of the screenplay is deeply ingrained in my writing fiber. I don't think that's a bad thing. In fact, I would recommend writing a screenplay if you've never done it before. It's a story at its simplest. It may help you see novel writing from an entirely different perspective.

 

-Richard

Richard Ridley is an award-winning author and paid CreateSpace contributor.

 

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Six Good Moments of a Screenplay

Screenwriting - Know What's Happening Off Frame

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Welcome to Tuesday's blog roundup. This is the day we shine the spotlight on bloggers and artists in the publishing, film and music industries.

 

Books/Publishing

 

No More Pencils, No More Books: Technology-Driven Education in NJ Schools - NJ Spotlight

Technology has had a major impact on our nation's schools, particularly when it comes to going paperless.

 

Broken, but Still Good: Adding Character Flaws - The Other Side of the Story

Perfect people are boring. Overly flawed people aren't relatable. Your job as a writer is to find the middle ground.  

 

Film

 

Clint Eastwood Wasn't Scared to Make Mistakes - DNA

There's a reason Clint Eastwood named his production company the Italian word for "mistake."                       

 

Wes Anderson on Filmmaking - Actors and Crew

Here's your chance to soak up pearls of wisdom from the filmmaker who brought you Rushmore and The Royal Tenenbaums, among others. 

 

Music

 

Tongue Tips for Singing and Speaking - Judy Rodman

Turns out it's a good thing when something's "on the tip of your tongue."       

 

Would You Be Willing to Pay $600 a Year for an Online Music Service? - pampelmoose

A discussion about subscription music services. Can they work? Would you pay?

 

-Richard

Richard Ridley is an award-winning author and paid CreateSpace contributor.

 

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Tuesday's Blog Roundup - May 31, 2011 Edition

Tuesday's Blog Roundup - May 24, 2011 Edition

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I'm going to throw an idea out there about developing your brand. It's wild, yet basic, and it's something I developed from my years of experience dieting (I told you it was wild, but bear with me because I think it can add value to your brand).

 

I have been overweight many times in my life, and I have dieted every time I got to the point I outgrew my fat pants. I've tried almost every diet plan you can think of, and I've failed at almost all of them. Since March, I've tried something I've never done before, and I've lost 30 pounds and kept them off. I've been keeping a food diary. For the first time in my life, I'm paying attention to what I eat.

 

It occurred to me the same tool could be applied to marketing. Call it a "brand journal." My theory is that we don't actually know we're marketing when we're marketing. Marketing boils down to creating and maintaining relationships. Finding connectors (influential people) and making them aware of your brand.

 

The journal will keep you engaged in marketing. If you commit to writing down how many times you post something or participate on your social networks every day, you can properly gauge your level of activity. Track your blogging, the personal videos you produce, the conferences/fairs you attend, etc. Track every instance where you take the opportunity to build a relationship.

 

If you pay attention to these relationships, you can build on them and accurately evaluate the time and effort you're putting into building your brand awareness. Over time, it can serve as a guide to help you strengthen your relationships and in turn, your brand. The thing about committing to keeping a journal like this is that you'll actually look for ways to add to the journal. Your marketing activity should pick up and your brand can only benefit.

 

-Richard

Richard Ridley is an award-winning author and paid CreateSpace contributor.

 

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Branding vs. Marketing for Authors

Evaluating Your Author Brand

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Curtain Call for Books

Are you ready for novels on Broadway? Okay, so it's not Broadway exactly, but it is the theatre. A troupe of actors has gotten together in New York to do dramatic readings of some classic novels. They recite a chapter or two with the book in hand and read it with the passion and aplomb a classic American novel deserves. They call themselves Elevator Repair, and they've performed to some acclaim.

 

Over the weekend, as part of the centennial celebration of the Stephen A. Schwarzman Building, the Fifth Avenue headquarters of the New York Public Library, the troupe presented a simultaneous mash-up of all three novels in brief performances in the library's periodical room. "The Sound and the Fury," "The Sun Also Rises" and "The Great Gatsby" in just 22 minutes? Why not? We all have short attention spans these days.

 

You can read the entire article on The New York Times' website: 3 Classic Novels. 22 Minutes. Why Not?

 

Does the Palme d'Or Translate into Box Office Success?

Being a filmmaker and getting accepted into Cannes must be an exhilarating feeling. I mean, besides the idyllic Mediterranean coast scenery, there are industry professionals galore and celebrity hobnobbing to be had at every champagne-catered affair. But does winning the grand prize at Cannes do anything for a film at the box office?

 

Over the last 20 years, it's helped set the table for box-office hits such as "Secrets & Lies," "Fahrenheit 911" and "Pulp Fiction" - at minimum facilitating momentum the movie already had, and in some cases actively putting it on the map. The average filmgoer may not know a Palme d'Or from a palm reader, but he or she is certainly acquainted with the media that respond to one. On the other hand, the Cannes prize did almost nothing for "The Wind That Shakes the Barley" and "Elephant," both of which failed to break out of an art-house ghetto.

 

You can read the entire article on the Los Angeles Times' website: How will the Palme d'Or affect 'Tree of Life's' commercial prospects?

 

'How Does It Feel'...to be Seventy?

What do you get the folk rock legend that has everything? Apparently, endless tributes make the perfect birthday gift. Bob Dylan turned 70 recently, and musicians all across the land stepped up to the mic and belted out his songs that shaped American music in 1960s and 70s. They may have not been able to match his rare vocal style, but their hearts were in it. In some cases their hearts were in it for hours.

 

In India, rocker Lou Majaw be doing what he does every year - a 10-hour-long tribute concert, dedicated to Mr. Zimmerman (Dylan's original last name). Majaw started this ritual on Dylan's birthday back in 1972 as a way to honor the legendary folk artist and has continued every May 24 since. Majaw has since pushed to make the artist's birthday a national holiday but, to no avail. Now that's some dedication.

 

You can read the entire article on Paste.com: Celebrating Bob Dylan's 70th Birthday

 

-Richard

Richard Ridley is an award-winning author and paid CreateSpace contributor.

 

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Weekly News Brief - Books, Film, Music - May 27, 2011

Weekly News Brief - Books, Film, Music - May 20, 2011

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People who don't write will probably not understand what I'm about to say, but writing is intense. True, it's not labor intensive in that it doesn't require physical exertion. It's a relatively safe occupation. No one's life is at stake when you write, but it is draining all the same.

 

Writing requires a special kind of focus. Not only do you have to block out your surroundings, but you also have to enter a world that only exists within the confines of your brain. It's ethereal and difficult to hold on to at times. Just a few hours of creating and directing this world can be exhausting.

 

The sheer intensity of the process can lead to rash decisions that may trip up your story. Sometimes you can't just power through, and that's okay. Let go of the anxiety and guilt of not being able to put a coherent thought on paper, because there's a dirty little secret in the world of writing that not many people know: temporarily walking away from a project is still writing.

 

The brain doesn't turn off. You won't be able to shake the images of your story from your mind. They will linger and float in and out of your consciousness. That's the glorious thing about creating a fictional world. It lives in your head, and you get to visit it anytime you want. Creative endeavors like writing usually require clear minds. By walking away, you will gain perspective and open yourself up to those "out of the blue" inspirational moments.

 

Have you ever had a moment of clarity in your writing after you'd walked away from it? Tell us about it!

 

-Richard

Richard Ridley is an award-winning author and paid CreateSpace contributor.

 

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Creative Writing Exercises

Smell That Creativity

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