March Madness

Yo, Josiah here! So two of the busiest months for me are (in ascending order) May due to all of the graduations and the graduation BBQs that follow. And then March due to the at least one dozen birthdays shared amongst my friends and family. But this past March was by far the most hectic and I’ve got the novel to thank for that. Enjoy this brief recap of what Noteworthy Tribute was doing in March 2016!

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  1. March 13 – Beechtree Author Q&A
    Back in February Dad and I held a book signing in our local community. A close friend of my Dad’s is a part of a book club and invited us to their space to hold a signing. Readers had a month to get through the book so we could all talk spoilers back at Beechtree. The highlight of the Q&A session was meeting Teressa, a fellow author. She passed on a lot of wisdom and experience on and admonished us not to give up on the author dream and to do all we could to get our book out to the masses; and she jumped at the chance to help in any way she could. Since then, we have been in contact with her and registered for new local vendor opportunities. Writers gotta stick together!

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  2. March 14 – Belcroft Bible Church
    The entire Bradley Clan shared the various endeavors we’ve launched ranging from the novel to videography and travel experience all thanks to a business expo the church held. We were allotted a couple minutes to talk about ourselves and how the novel came to be. Afterward, a few people walked away with their copy of the book! Some highlights from that night came in the form of meeting a social media guru and another videographer looking to work together. Oh and top of that, I turned 27!

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  3. March 18 – Seaton Memorial A.M.E. Church
    Packed into a room were six authors from the DMV area! Most of the books were instructional or of the memoir variety, so Noteworthy Tribute stood in the gap for creative fiction. It was amazing to be sitting amongst other writers who made it their mission to get their story published for the world to see. It was incredible and the night was capped off by a video conference with all of us and another author who published a story book for children, a loose retelling of his life. He aims to connect an app to the book to inspire kids to pursue their interests in technology, and higher education. entrepreneurs

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  4. March 26 – Ukazoo Books & The Inconvenient Truth
    We ventured to a rather spacious used/new bookstore in Towson, MD, a really chill place I remember visiting once during my time at Towson University. It was a real treat to catch up with two film maker friends from school who came to support the book, one of which was the camera woman on my senior film! But the high lights of the day came in the form of two interviews one of which wasn’t even planned. We met a young Mass Comm major from TU who got stood up by another author she was there to write about but when she saw our table she plopped down and got to know us; we even discussed traveling and her other interests and she walked away with our story, both professional and personal. Lastly, we caught up with my friend TD Stroman III whom I worked with on a fun indie/fantasy film years ago. He is the host of The Inconvenient Truth filmed out in Fairfax. He squeezed us into our own segment since he was mostly covering local comedians that day, but when he spoke with us he totally understood our message of father and son bonding, passing of the torch and how it inspires creativity.

So that was the month of March and it was a packed one. As we continue on our journey we continue to meet fresh new voices in the arts and they further inspire me to be as authentic as possible, keep learning and never quit. We’re only four months in and so much has happened to Noteworthy Tribute and I can’t wait to see what April brings!

Write you again soon!

BeechTree Book Club Presents

 

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HAPPY 2016!!!

We have been invited to the BeechTree Book Club on Sunday, February 21st, 2016 @ 3:00pm (EST) and concluding @ 5:00pm to sell and share Noteworthy Tribute!

Come with your friends and family and get your signed copy at $10  each, cash/credit, meet us and hangout with other readers and even learn how you can join this local book club that has been so kind to invite us out.

This is part 1 of our spring book event, the signing and introductory portion. We will return to BeechTree for part 2, the discussion and Q&A section with you all the following month March 13th @ 3:00pm and concluding @5:00pm.

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For more updates LIKE us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter via links in the widgets below. There you can join the event page and invite your Facebook friends, even bring some from your own book club because BeechTree is turning no one away!

We can’t wait to meet you!

Best,

Mark & Josiah

Noteworthy Female Characters

“Women and men alike, regularly fail the Bechdel Test in real life… just sit and listen to them in any common setting: the supper market, college hallways, the park, Church, while walking the dog, jury duty, etc.”

That was just a snippet of a humorous and facetious conversation I had with one of my coworkers recently. I know creators are all about representation in stories more than ever these days, especially women, but listening to some college-aged women walk by us innocently talking about how cute some guy was or how dreamy his blue eyes were, made me feel I could laugh a little, provided some perspective, and then my thoughts were directed toward something else in the writing world…

Hey, Josiah here, the JO in JoMarkCreative and before I begin, I’d like to give a shout out to my mom, JoMarkCreative’s BIGGEST FAN, who had a birthday this past weekend. I credit her with my love of reading and writing and showing me what real strength looks like. Mom I thank you!

I love you, Mom!

I love you, Mom!

And now onto today’s topic. It is writing related and geared toward women. It’s something my dad and I and other writing friends have talked about and I thought it would be cool to share here. Please note that I am speaking for myself in this article and not for my dad or JoMarkCreative.

The title of today’s article plays on the popular phrase “strong female characters” and stems from a piece written by Sophia McDougall entitled, I Hate Strong Female Characters I’m not going to post any excerpts here but I do want to share the effect her piece had on me and how it helped strengthen my feelings on the topic.

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In short, Ms. McDougall helped me realize that nowadays (though its steadily shifting for the better) the word “strong” as it precedes “female characters” is a literal term solely focusing on feats of strength and physical prowess, and might include a little bit of no-nonsense attitude or something along those lines in terms of her personality. In her article, McDougall does an excellent job of explaining at length how strength is not just physicality nor is it determined by lack of any kind of submission. I think her article was saying that “strong” is a literary term having more to do with how sound a female hero’s character is by actually having that: character.

A character can be physically weak but very compelling and interesting on the page or onscreen. What motivates her to act the way she does can invite us into a world we might not have ever known before if not for how she sees it and moves within in. By that same notion, she can be a goddess but flat, one dimensional and lack any semblance of an inner life. I don’t see it as her being a composite of deep, dark deviant high concept ideas in one that keeps the reader up all hours of the night trying to figure her out; no, there’s no need for that much pressure. But she – any character really – needs to be strong from an objective point of view on how they move throughout any given story. We should be able to imagine what it would be like to know them in real life for their attitudes as well as their physical abilities and they should stand the test of intrigue and investment from the reader’s standpoint.

I thought McDougall’s comparisons to great thinkers in fiction was a great way to convey the point and more accurately define a character’s strength when writing a story. Sherlock Holmes is spot on, he’s not a fighter, he’s a genius, yet we love to read about him. It wasn’t until Guy Ritchie made the new films that we even imagined an action-packed Sherlock Holmes adventure, at least of that magnitude to be fair.

I think another one like Dr. Who is appropriate and I’m not even a Whovian. For the most part in my limited exposure to the character, Dr. Who isn’t a very physical hero (depending on the version I suppose) in general. Yet people, especially girls, can’t get enough of him. Why is that?

I think it’s because he’s a smart, sensitive and moral figure to watch fly through the galaxy. He’s a hero because of his desire to help people and that makes him strong first and foremost. If he sports cool gadgets or gets special powers every now and again, that’s fine too, but his powers and physicality don’t define him, his principles do, dare I say his soul defines him and his compelling connection to people.

Dr Who

Don’t get me wrong I love special abilities and physicality (despite my thin frame), but I think if female characters continue on this excessive bombastic path a lot of people are gonna lose out creatively and even money. Sure we tell stories to inspire and connect with people, but we do it for money too, and what better way to turn a profit than by creative rich characters whose choices are understandable?

Three female characters I’ve recently learned about are Kate Macer from the new movie Sicario, and Gemma and Agent Stahl of Sons of Anarchy fame.

I can’t say too much about Kate Macer (Emily Blunt) since the movie just came out, but what I will say is I saw a character who is very much in touch with her feelings, but has trained enough mentally and physically to become a fine FBI agent. And its that mental fortitude that comes under fire when she is recruited by Benicio del Toro and Josh Brolin to hit the drug cartels in a way that may not be by the book; yet it gets results. She conflicted because she shows she wants to get the bad guys but she isn’t sure if the cost is worth it. There’s much to her than a gun and stunner sunglasses. She’s a woman that wants to be the “good guy” but isn’t sure what that means anymore.

And then there’s Gemma Teller Morrow and Agent June Stahl, two women on opposite sides of the law in the FX show Sons of Anarchy, yet I think they are two side of the same coin ruthless coin; the difference is in what motivates they respective ruthless tendencies (at the time of writing this I’m only up to season 4 on Netflix). Both are aren’t afraid to get bloody either!

Agent June Stahl

Agent June Stahl

I think Gemma, the biker gang matriarch, is motivated by genuine, albeit, twisted love for family, whereas Agent Stahl is motivated by power and greed. Yet both women, as tough as they are, show emotional depths I wasn’t ready for. Stahl is cunning and two-faced but can be clearly effected by the carnage she creates, no matter momentary the effects may be. There’s even something a little sad about Stahl, behind the eyes. I hate her character, but love her at the same time because she conveys so well what she wants and her decisions make perfect sense, adding layer upon layer to her life on the show and impacting the series in a positive way.

And as for Gemma, only time will tell how far she will go to keep certain secrets hidden. Right now I do believe she loves her family and Jax, but I think she is still dead set on her way or the highway, which is what makes her so interesting to watch because her secrets are horrible and I sometimes wonder if Jax’s continued ignorance is for the better. Again, both SOA women show strength of character from a written standpoint as they strive to more fully define what their character on a moral stage, really means for both of them.

Gemma Teller Morrow

Gemma Teller Morrow

Here’s a final example. I’m a huge fan of the cinematic online movement known as Black&SexyTV. In fact they recently struck a deal with BET to air episodes from 3 of their online webseries’ weekly and I couldn’t be happier for them. One of my favorite shows from them (and included in the BET lineup) is a show called Hello Cupid, about  two best friends, Whitney and Robin who switch dating profile pictures, and shenanigans ensue from there. The swap is in response to the stigma of colorism among people of color where skin (light versus dark) tone determines how valuable a person is or feels in society, especially where money and romance are involved. In the show, Whitney is dark skinned, mildly preppy, with a conservative personality and believes there is a certain order to things. This sometimes drives the light skinned, spunky, loud and more outgoing Robin up the wall, but they’re friends so its not a big problem… until the swap.

Without spoiling the show, Whitney (played by the amazing Ashley Blaine Featherson) reveals more and more of domineering and manipulative side, especially after she meets ProudDad on the dating site. The problem is that since they’ve yet to meet, he sees Robin’s profile picture but gets to know the real Whitney, who is too afraid at this point to switch back to her own authentic picture. I think over the course of the show I came to realize that Whitney’s bossiness, her manipulative tendencies and explosive anger are signs of serious insecurity.

And I love that about the character! Whitney makes consistent choices all in the name of hiding the truth from ProudDad. Even though these qualities aren’t appealing in any way, it brings fans back for more to see how long Whitney can keep up the ruse and if her friendships will last. The irony is that the desire to be loved for who she is started this whole mess and I think she looses sight of that. But I think Whitney is one of the strongest characters, male or female, that I have ever had the chance to read/watch in a long, long time and she has become one of my favorites (along with Ripley, Trinity and Imperator Furiosa) female characters. She is compelling (Robin too, as her opposite), and we can all relate to bouts with insecurity, wanting to be desired, and questions of our worth. Even negative traits can make a character interesting and strong on a literary scale. And after this past season, dare I say it, as a well fleshed out and consistently compelling character, Whitney is on Heisenberg levels – real talk.

Like I said, I’ve had a lot of conversations with people about this topic and until recently I didn’t realize I was so passionate about the topic. Maybe its because I’m an introvert and not very physical myself that I care so much about the internal representations of characters. People have complained that a lot of male characters, for all of their strength and super powers, are flat and boring, but in this world, men are at the top so it doesn’t matter; with enough CGI and explosions, these poorly written characters will continue to populate our stories.

I’m blessed to have had the chance to write screenplays and publish a novel flexing my muscles to create compelling female characters. I look forward to hearing feedback about Jasmine, Diane Spencer and Camille and Dorothy LaShea, the leading ladies of Noteworthy Tribute. And I hope to get better at showing the various strengths native to female characters, both physical and mental.

Lastly, check out Sophia McDougall’s article and the Black&SexyTV shows, you might like what you see.

Keep creating, the story must be told!

– JOSIAH

(All photos taken from Google Images.)

TipsyWriter: Noteworthy Review

How far would you go for your closest friends? What if it meant putting your own life and future on the line? A fascinating, fast-paced, and truly heartwarming read, Noteworthy Tribute’ is truly a magnificent tribute to the hard work that goes into chasing after your dreams. I assure you, you’ll be recommending this book for years to come. ~ Megan Johnson (TipsyWriter.com) ~


We feel very blessed to have worked with Megan Johnson on the interview and review process of Noteworthy Tribute. We hoped people would at the very least just… enjoy reading it. But Ms. Johnson took things from the book we hadn’t even anticipated.

Naturally, we hope to receive more reviews like the one linked and embedded at the bottom, but we know our story isn’t for everyone, and part of the excitement was wondering if Ms. Johnson liked it and if not, what didn’t she dislike and by how much. But it is obvious now that the process of writing, the late nights talking about the goals, the music and the characters is the most important thing; just to get our voice out there to share is a higher priority than who does and doesn’t like it.

Lastly, we’re glad to all of those who have enjoyed reading the book, we don’t want that to go unnoticed. We do want people to like it and getting the book out and hearing rave reviews is an unforgettable accomplishment. As we continue to share and sell we will look for more creative ways to garner reader feedback. We’re loving the selfies of the book also! We have more in store for book signings, tours, reviews and interviews so stay updated on all of our social media.

Enjoy the spoiler free review by Megan Johnson over at TipsyWriter.com.

Keep creating!

Mark & Josiah


PS: If you want more insight from Dad and I, check out our hour long interview with our friend K. Lowery Moore from Conversations and Confessions!

Miss Ash Productions

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The Motto and the Movement.

What’s up readers, its Josiah again! This weekend I participated in the 60 Hour Film Challenge with my friends led by the amazing Ashleigh Coffelt where:

We [Colchester Film Festival] challenge filmmakers from around the world to write, shoot and edit a film no longer than 5 minutes in just 60 hours. Each team is given a film title, line of dialogue and a prop/action that they must include in their final film. The rest is up to you. It can be any genre or style so get your creative juices flowing and produce a masterpiece.

I met Ashleigh through my best friend Marcus earlier this year and to date we’ve collaborated three times on short film challenges. She and her best friend, longtime collaborator and go-to actress Courtney Birk have produced over 60 films including short films, commercials,PSAs, vlogs and feature films together and to this day they continue to contribute to the art form by creating intimate stories and regularly challenging themselves technically. Ash and Court both give women in media a very good name and I think they are excellent role models for the new generation of female creatives today! One of the ways they continue to push their creative boundaries is through their non-profit Why Be Ordinary:

Spreading the Word of God means more than just sharing a status on social media. Why Be Ordinary is a non profit organization aimed at engaging twenty and thirty something Christians in discussing social topics through film.

For the 60 Hour we braved the Towson cold to make Teaser; can you figure out the story based on the poster? Thanks to our stellar team and great actors we got the film shot quickly and had a lot of fun, and I always consider it a win when Marcus and I can work on a movie together.

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Below is a list of my top five favorite films Ashleigh has made under her Miss Ash Productions brand; I’ve actually watched every video on their Vimeo account and I love them all but I singled these five out. If you like these, check out much more on her Vimeo and YouTube channels and be on the lookout for the release of Teaser!

Enjoy!


5. This Used To Be Our Dream
“A very important decision leads a young man to ponder the possibilities of a future that could have been.”
This was the very first of their films that I worked on and is a big conversation starter, viewing pro-life in a different light.

4. Cerebral
This is the second film I joined Miss Ash Productions on for the Baltimore 48 Hour Film Challenge form which Courtney Birk took home the award for Best Actress! We had to include the name Q Treller and make reference to a secret society. This was also my first time doing a lighting set up of any kind by myself outside of college – I think it turned out just fine 🙂

3. Just Fine 
“Sometimes, you have to fake it until you make it.”
This story is so relatable and Court’s performance is terrific, she essentially carries the movie with a faceless and voiceless character on the other end of the phone. The location is wonderful and the underdog yet rebellious theme is executed very well.

2. Intangible
“An experimental short, shot with natural light.”
I really enjoy their use of the storm (kids don’t try this at home) and nature itself to tell a story about a character seeking peace and safety and I especially appreciate what I think is a very fresh and non-preachy religious examination. This movie is a great example of seeing an artistic opportunity and going for it pedal to the metal.

1. Parallels
” The large city never felt so lonely.”
This is by far my favorite film by Ash and Court. The simplicity, the lights, their use again of what was available to them such as their matching tattoos – New York City… it just comes together very well in my opinion 🙂

Ashleigh and Courtney know better than anyone that “the story must be told”.

Keep creating!

  • The JO in JoMarkCreative

MuteMath LIVE!

Hello again, Josiah here!

So those in my family’s inner circle know that we Bradleys love music, and as a bonus some of us are even musically inclined. My dad is a singer/songwriter and plays the guitar, two of my brothers are drummers and one of which is also a talented guitarist himself and bassist. We have a family band known as The Mustangz the same name our protagonist Evan Spencer shares with his band mates in our book Noteworthy Tribute which includes songs written by my dad that we’ve performed in real life!

So when I heard that my all time favorite band MuteMath was making the return trip to D.C. this past Tuesday on their tour to promote the new album Vitals, I knew I had to make seeing them a second time bigger and better than three years ago (my birthday in fact)! So my three brothers and I packed into the car and drove and stood in rain on U Street to catch these guys (later meeting our friend LaTanya a fellow MathMutician). And all I gotta say is “WOW” what a show, and what better way to celebrate the new album live than with a close friend and my brothers for a night out!

Much like in our novel (but no spoilers), I felt a stronger bond with my brothers that night rockin’ out to some of our favorites music together. These days we are split up often in our own lives, working and hanging out with our own social circles. Now and again we get to share a movie or special event just us together and this concert was no exception and it warmed my heart to see them throughout the night having fun with live renditions of songs they already liked, and hearing both new and old songs they had never heard before. It is so powerful how music can bring people together.

And the deeper you go into Noteworthy Tribute, I think you will see that theme of music’s magical ability to unite come alive within the pages; keep an eye out for Tracks (chapters) 7 and 8 and that’s all I’ll say on that tip especially as it relates to today’s article.

If you like acts who can fuse multiple genres of music into their own unique sound then check out MuteMath for yourself where you’ll find clever stories and lyrics, electronic/digital inflections balanced by a bombastic Rock & Roll feel with roots found in Blues. I know, it sounds all over the place, but trust me, give these Nawlins quartet a listen and decide for yourself! And while you’re at it check out their opener the QuietEntertainer. I won’t lie but I got strong Evena Spencer vibes watching him perform before MuteMath took the stage. But you’ve got to read to find out what I mean!

  • The JO in JoMarkCreative