A Fond Farewell to Michael Ajakwe, Jr.

Michael Ajakwe was an Emmy-winning writer, producer, and director as well as a produced and published playwright.  His credits are too numerous to list, so I invite you to explore his IMDB page.

I met Michael at a film industry meet called Coffee Chatter and we quickly became friends.  I greatly admired his always-positive, can-do attitude, and truly appreciated his encouragement.

I invited him to contribute to Now Write! Screenwriting, which, of course, he did.  He was also kind enough to participate in the first Now Write! Screenwriting panel shortly after the book was published.

When we met, Michael was making his hilarious web series “Who…”  (now adapted as Beauty and the Baller on BET.)

Michael Ajakwe was the visionary who created the world’s first live web series festival.

I watched in amazement as his next move was to create L.A. Webfest.  He generously offered me a pass and I attended all day every day of the first fest.  He put together quite a program, including a wide range of web series and panel discussions.  I learned a lot and enjoyed discussing some of the web series with him.  I was so happy to see the festival grow, enjoyed attending many seasons, and saw friends win awards.  I also appeared on one of the panels as a moderator.

If you’re a web series creator you may want to check out the Web Series Network on YouTube where you can find lots of informative interviews and roundtables with Michael and others.

I hung out with Mike several times when he was working on his Unsung episodes and organizing the webfest, so I got to witness first-hand his incredible work ethic. He was truly a man with a mission and I will never forget how inspired I always felt around him.

I attended the screening party of his first Unsung episode about Deniece Williams.  It was fantastic.  He was such a compassionate filmmaker and storyteller, and had an enviable network of supportive friends and colleagues in attendance.

Over the years, Michael became more and more in demand, and I deeply regret not having the chance to see him one last time in the past few years.

Being unaware of his illness, I was truly heartbroken to learn of his death on May 31.  What a painful reminder how important it is to stay in touch with people we care about.  I take some comfort in knowing he had his wife Tammy by his side.  My prayers and condolences go out to her, and all Michael’s friends and family.

As he was preparing for the third Webfest in 2012, Michael took a break so I could interview him for my Soul Connect podcast (see below.)  Listening to this interview again, I was deeply moved to be reminded of his greatness, his vision, his warmth and generosity.  What a beautiful spirit.

Michael, I’m so grateful to have known you.  You are missed.

 

Hot Off The Presses: Contributors’ Newest Work

Here is a round-up of some Now Write! contributors brand new books this year – some not even out till a little later this month.  The first two authors listed below, Kim Dower and Derek Taylor Kent, are guest speakers on a free Now Write! panel this Saturday, Sept. 17 in West Los Angeles: “Capturing Your Dreams: How To Craft A Bestselling Fantasy Novel.”

Last Train To The Missing Planetlast-train-cover by Kim Dower (Now Write! Science Fiction, Fantasy, and Horror contributor)
Red Hen Press (March 29, 2016)

Kim Dower is known for combining the accessible and profound in her poetry. This third collection is about love, longing, and passion tipped sideway. Sounds pretty sexy and intriguing!

Kubrick’s Gamekubricks-game-cover by Derek Taylor Kent Now Write! Science Fiction, Fantasy, and Horror contributor)
Evolved Publishing (August 7, 2016)

What if Stanley Kubrick left behind more than just his classic films? What if he also left behind an elaborate puzzle cleverly buried within his films, which would lead the player toward a treasure that could change the course of human history.

A puzzle/action/adventure theme adds to the suspense as each clue is discovered.  Shawn Hagan, a college film student obsessed with legendary filmmaker Stanley Kubrick, discovers hidden clues in his movies, which lead him on a harrowing quest toward a mysterious treasure. Endangered by sinister groups on the same quest.

Revolution’s Endrevolutions-end-cover by Brad Schreiber (Now Write! Screenwriting and Now Write! Science Fiction, Fantasy, and Horror contributor)
Skyhorse Publishing (August 2, 2016)

The most famous kidnapping in U.S. history is fully explained, detailing Patty Hearst’s relationship with Donald DeFreeze (known as Cinque) head of the Symbionese Liberation Army.  Not only did the heiress have a sexual relationship with DeFreeze while he was imprisoned, she didn’t know he was an informant and a victim of prison behavior modification. Neither she nor the white radicals who followed DeFreeze realized that he was molded by a CIA officer and allowed to escape, thanks to collusion with the California Department of Corrections. DeFreeze’s secret mission: infiltrate and discredit Bay Area anti-war radicals and the Black Panther Party, the nexus of 70s activism.

The Listenerthe-listener-cover by Rachel Basch (Now Write! Fiction contributor)
Pegasus Books (May 3, 2016)

The challenges to identity that arise in both adolescence and middle age―and the student and therapist who just may have the power to save each other.

Told from two points of view, The Listener explores the ways in which we conceal and reveal our identities. As truth after truth is exposed, characters are forced to reconsider themselves and reorder their lives, with few easy answers to be found for anyone.

Mercurymercury-cover by Margot Livesey (Now Write! Fiction contributor)
Harper (September 27, 2016)

A psychological drama and emotional thriller exploring love, obsession, and the deceits that pull a family apart.

As an optometrist Donald believes he knows all there is to know about seeing and is sure he and his wife, Viv are both devoted to their two children and to each other. But when she begins to dream of competing again, embracing the ambitions she had relinquished, as a young woman. Her daydreams soon morph into consuming desire, and her infatuation with the thoroughbred escalates to obsession.

Dating Your Character: A Sexy Guide to TV and Screenwriting dating-your-char-coverby Marilyn R. Atlas (Now Write! Screenwriting contributor)
Deborah Cutler-Rubenstein (Now Write! Screenwriting and Now Write! Science Fiction, Fantasy, and Horror contributor), and Elizabeth Lopez
Stairway Press (August 30, 2016)

Based on the principle that interesting characters actually are co-creators in the writing process, this book is organized into some of the standard stages in an evolving romantic relationship.

Unlike writing books that approach character development using a winnowing process involving general categorization and list-making, without an in-depth synthesis of the collage of facts in the character’s biography, this approach focuses on the importance of characters’ individuality: their eccentricity, drive, and relative “basis in fact” inspired in part by people you know or you yourself.

The Quest For Peace quest-for-peace-cov-copyby Laurie Lamson (Now Write! Screenwriting co-editor, Now Write! Mysteries co-editor, Now Write! Science Fiction, Fantasy, and Horror editor)
JaZzyMaE Media (August 6, 2016)

A thought-provoking short story Kindle book about a young man’s quest for peace in the Middle East.

Happy International Peace Day!

Empowering Creative Writing Workshop

with Now Write! editor Laurie Lamson 

Want to write, but not sure how to get started?
Having trouble completing a novel, story, memoir or screenplay?Overwhelmed with ideas?
Just feeling stuck?

Now Write! editor Laurie Lamson is offering a 4-week creative writing summer workshop designed to get you writing with clarity and enjoyment.

Each class begins with Laurie’s Writer’s Yoga including a guided meditation/imagination exercise to get grounded, present and open to your own creative flow.

We’ll discuss the cultural purpose of storytelling and hone in on your own values and perspectives – a big part of developing a unique voice and staying motivated as a writer.

We’ll practice some of Laurie’s favorite writing exercises designed to to quiet the inner critic and get your creative juices flowing while exploring key elements of dramatic writing.

A safe creative environment will be established through a non-judgmental approach to feedback. This way we avoid premature criticism that tends to stifle good writing.

Join The Workshop and Get Empowered as a Writer

Schedule: Monday evenings, July 25 – August 15, 7-9pm

Location: Summer Studios, 2161 Lomita Blvd, Lomita, CA 90717

Reserve your spot (limited to 8 participants): (310) 325-8801

Cost: $120 for series

Instructor: Laurie Lamson

Laurie April 2016Laurie is a professional writer, filmmaker and editor. She has completed several screenwriting assignments and currently has three of her own scripts in development with producers. Her short film Family Values in the Goddess Years played in festivals from Berlin to San Francisco.

Laurie has a passion for encouraging fellow and sister writers. For three years she was telecon host for the International Screenwriters’ Association. She designed and taught two creative writing series for teen girls. She was also editor of three writing exercise anthologies published by Tarcher/Penguin: Now Write! Science Fiction, Fantasy, and Horror, Now Write! Mysteries and Now Write! Screenwriting.

Learn more about Laurie’s philosophy on writers and writing.

Now Write! Chinese and Korean Editions

iuHappy Chinese New Year!

It’s the Chinese Year of the Monkey – the Yang Red Fire Monkey. Education, building businesses and following creative dreams are highlighted.  

So the Year of the Monkey is truly a perfect time to start working with a Now Write! book to practice and improve your writing in general or find inspiration for a specific project.

A hardback Chinese edition of  Now Write! Science Fiction, Fantasy, and Horror is available now.  A Korean edition will be available this spring.

The Chinese edition of Now Write! Science Fiction, Fantasy, and Horror has a yellow cover.  The bird perhaps refers to Edgar Allan Poe’s crow-?  While the Korean cover art remind me of Polish versions of American movie posters.  Pretty cool, huh?

Now Write Scifi China & Korea
Chinese and Korean editions of Now Write! Science Fiction, Fantasy, and Horror

A Korean edition is also being released for Now Write! Mysteries.

Now Write Mysteries Korea
Korean edition of Now Write! Mysteries

There’s already a Chinese edition of Now Write! Screenwriting a Korean edition is on the way in June, 2016.

NWScreenChineseCUcrop

NWScreenchinese
Chinese edition of Now Write! Screenwriting

Chinese editions of Now Write! Screenwriting and Now Write! Science Fiction, Fantasy, and Horror are published by China Remnin University Press, available at crup.com.

The Korean editions of Now Write! Science Fiction, Fantasy, and Horror, Now Write! Mysteries and Now Write! Screenwriting are being published by Darun Book Publisher.

Christine Conradt: A Screenwriter’s Directorial Debut

Two-Time Now Write! Contributor: Christine Conradt

ChristineConradtChristine Conradt is a Nebraska native living and working in the greater Los Angeles area.  She’s a seasoned screenwriter and producer, the “Queen of Lifetime,” best known for BETRAYED AT 17 (2011), A NANNY’S REVENGE (2012), SUMMER MOON (2009) and THE PERFECT TEACHER (2010).

With nearly 50 produced writing credits, Christine received her Bachelor’s degree in Screenwriting from USC’s School of Cinematic Arts.

Intent on elevating the crime thrillers she was becoming known for, Christine went back to grad school to receive a Masters degree in Criminal Justice from Boston University, where she focused on cybercrime and juvenile delinquency.

“One of the things I really found interesting in my criminology studies was this notion that the anonymity of the Internet has created both crimes and criminals that never previously existed. Because people can hide behind a screenname, they say and do things online that they never would do in person. For some, the advent of the Internet meant the freedom to do things without the consequences you’d expect to face if you did them in the real world.”

THE BRIDE HE BOUGHT ONLINE Tackles Cyberbullying in a Unique Way

The Bride He Bought OnlineBased on her own spec script, THE BRIDE HE BOUGHT ONLINE is Christine’s directorial debut, set to premiere on Lifetime Network on July 18, 2015 (click Lifetime link for more info and full airing dates).  The film was produced by Reel One Entertainment in association with Shadowland.

Not all TV movies have a message and the ones that do all too often come off as poorly-veiled preach-fests intent on instructing us on how to live our lives. But THE BRIDE HE BOUGHT ONLINE tackles a very topical issue in a refreshingly unique way. The film makes a serious comment on cyberbullying in a high-intensity, surprisingly dark thriller.

Starring Anne Winters, Lauren Gaw, and Annalisa Cochrane, the story follows three teens who create a fake profile on an international dating site to gather fodder for their increasingly popular joke blog. They soon engage in conversation with a lonely, unstable computer programmer named John Bennett (played by Travis Hammer) and the prank evolves from a phishing scheme into all-out cyberbullying. Although the theme of online anonymity cleverly crops up in multiple storylines, it never comes off as exhortative.

Writer/Director Christine Conradt with Cinematographer Roberto Schein. Photo by Charles Christopher.

“The empowerment the girls feel from gaining online followers who encourage them to continuously top their last prank, their inability to empathize with a nameless victim, and even John’s belief that he’s in love with a girl he’s never met in person, but trusts he knows intimately from their online chats, all illustrate different dangers of abdicating personal accountability online,” Conradt explains. “Some people see the Internet as a scary place trolled by predators, but sometimes the creepy ones aren’t who we think they are and we all have the ability to become predators if we want.”

Christine spoke in depth with Now Write! editor Laurie Lamson about her transition to directing – LISTEN TO THE PODCAST.

Christine Shares Her Wealth of Knowledge and Experience

Christine contributed two highly usable exercises to the Now Write! series: “The Scene That Doesn’t Exist” can be found in Now Write! Screenwriting and “The Eleven Tenets of Fear” is in Now Write! Science Fiction, Fantasy, and Horror.

Live webinar July 28, 2015.

She has also created three educational products for the Writer’s Store: Creating Strong Female Characters, Writing and Selling a TV Movie, and her upcoming live webinar on July 28Adding Suspense to Your Screenplays.

 

LISTEN TO CHRISTINE’S FREE INTL. SCREENWRITERS’ ASSOC. PODCAST: LIFE AS A HORROR/THRILLER WRITING PROFESSIONAL.