Indie Novelist | Comic | Actress | Filmmaker

Sunday, April 9, 2017

From Atlanta to New York City




So here's a story from an author...but this is memoir, not fiction. 


In Jan. 2007 I rented a sublet in Brooklyn, NY, and was living bi-coastal between there an Los Angeles, my home since '93. I was a photographer at the time, shooting anything with a face. Actors, musicians, babies, families, dogs, more babies. Shot three NYC Fashion Weeks and sold my images to various magazines. Published editorials, too, like the one you see here.


But the thing was my mother, my best friend, had died just a year before. And six months before that I was going through a divorce. When she got diagnosed with Pancreatic cancer I quit acting and threw myself behind the camera. I was running from grief but I didn't know that. I just thought I was being a jet-setter. Hey look at me, living on both coasts! I'm perfectly fine. Don't look too close.

New York felt like home, just as LA had. But with my feet stretched across the entire country (yes, that gives some of those middle states a great view of my special place. heheh) I couldn't keep standing. Finally one night I broke down and cried my heart out in Brooklyn, on the floor sobbing. Not just ugly but HIDEOUS CRYING. And I chose to go to where I had the most friends, Los Angeles. Because you know... we need those. They make life better.

BACK TO MY ORIGINAL SENSE OF PURPOSE - I'M AN ACTOR, DAMMIT

From The Russian Spy


In 2011 or 2012, I can't remember which (Los Angeles has a way of making years fly by because every day is the same there - always sunny), I tiptoed out from behind the camera to try out acting again. I'd dated a guy who said he was an actor but who wasn't doing anything about it. Anyone who knows me is aware of the fact that I encourage people to follow their dreams. It's what I do. I can't help it, even when it's as annoying as fuck. Anyway, when I encouraged him that rubbed off on me. I started saying, "Hey WTF, I always knew I was an actor, what am I doing???!"

I put together a web series: The Russian Spy, that's a whole other story. And part of it is on YouTube but not all because there was another network at that time and it's gone now and....blah blah blah. Who cares! I'm not talking about that. HOWEVER, writing, directing, acting in, editing, producing, that thing taught me a lot. So it's worth mentioning. And I do love it and will be editing it all as one piece when I get my new production website up.

HOW LENA DUNHAM CHANGED MY LIFE AND WE'VE NEVER MET. 


Then lightning hit. I was watching GIRLS on HBO, which I love even when I don't, and Lena Dunham's character, Hannah, got hired to write an eBook. She spends the whole episode talking about it. I was cocking my head and asking, "What the hell is an eBook?"

So I looked it up. "Wait a minute, I can publish my own books? I don't have to ask permission?!"

Since I'm a rebel (and a control freak) at heart, I HATE ASKING PERMISSION TO LIVE. And to me, creating is living.

I've always been a writer AND an actor. I used to write little books when I was around six years old, tie them with yarn and sell them to my parents for a buck. (which is often what I still charge for New Releases. My readers will be amused by that. Fuck inflation, right?) When I was three my mom put me on the bar counter where she performed in a band, and I sang "I wanna be loved by you," to the whole bar!

But for just the writing, the idea that I could publish my own books was LIFE CHANGING. I googled "successful indie self-pub authors interviews" and read everything I could find.

If you have any dream or skill you need, the information is on the web. Google it. Think about what you're looking for, put those words in the search and start reading. The answers are all there.

I had this book halfway written that's not a Twilight-like vampire story. It's more Anne Rice-y. There's romance in it...sure...but it doesn't end well. Because you know, they're vampires. I put my photography biz on hold, went to my dad's house (Terry Mackey. I have two dads.) and wrote for seven weeks until I finished my first book with the help of him editing it. His friend Suzanne Scotten who is an award winning English teacher, she edited it too. Published Fire Nectar in May 2013. Readers didn't dig it. What are ya gonna do?

Anyhoooooo...


FINDING OUT THAT STEAMY ROMANCE AND I MIX REALLY, REALLY WELL


A few months later I tried my hand at my first erotic romance novel. It was more Sex and The City meets Devil Wears Prada meets Bridget Jones Diary  - than 50 Shades, but I'm a goofy chick who did Stand-Up Comedy for five years (1999-2004) so I can't take BDSM seriously. It's not my thing. I'm not knocking it for you if you're into it, so don't get pissed if you love being spanked. Me? I start laughing.

My first erotic romance book - I Love My Breakup - took off like gang busters, and I wrote two more about her friends - three girls in NYC, heavy with Fashion Week and all the things I'd learned while being in that city. That September, 2013, I surpassed my income from Photography. (If you read this book next to one of my current novels you will see I'm a much better writer now, but it's still a fun read.


PUT THE PEN NAME DOWN. WALK AWAY FROM THE PEN NAME


I wrote under a pen name, Sabrina Lacey. I was obsessed, but still trying to act and get in the business and I felt that they wouldn't like me writing these steamy books. Then one of my successful actress girlfriends convinced me to come out of the erotic-romance-writing-closet: "It explains why you're not acting, and I think it makes you more interesting!"

I was terrified. If you're a steamy romance READER you've probably noticed a lot of cartoons in lieu of author bio photos because few people want to say aloud that they write this stuff. Despite truck loads of anxiety I put my big girl pants on and told the world it was really me writing these books. Got mixed reactions, but weathered the blows.


ATLANTA HERE I COME WITH NOTHING BUT COURAGE FIGHTING BACK THE FEAR.

This photo is the day I left, not the day I arrived, but I'm putting it here anyway. 

So let's skip forward to the day I decide to move to Atlanta. I did it for acting, not books. The industry is booming there. Thanks to the tax incentive shows get a huge write off if they film in Georgia. Marvel has even created a studio there. It's huge, and since I'd taken such a long break from acting I could offer myself up as a "local hire," which is someone they don't have to fly into town, pay for hotel and such.

I sold everything, drove across country with only a car full of boxes, my dog, and my best friend who would fly back once we got there. I also had a screenplay in my pocket that I planned to make once I had the money to do it indie-style, like I did with my books. Did I know anyone in the city? Not. One. Soul.

In Atlanta I was lucky enough to get a roommate who was an insta-friend. Found him on Craigslist of all places. Austin, you helped change my life. And you were/are a great friend to me, thank you. And no, everybody, we didn't sleep together. He is not Jake from Cocky Roomie, but he did give me the idea, because you know...what if...

THE DAY THE COCKER BROTHERS WERE BORN INSIDE MY WEIRD HEAD

Where the Cocker Brothers were born, my apartment building in ATL


I never expected to create Cocker Brothers of Atlanta, it was a pure miracle when that inspiration hit. One day I was devising a way to get back to contemporary steamy romance over paranormal. I'd gone back to the supernatural after the I Love My... series and while I loved my wolves I wanted to write about real people again.

Suddenly I had this idea about six brothers. Each with their own book. Each man different from the other. I searched for images online to inspire me and designed all six covers before I wrote a single word. (Since I was a photographer for a decade, I know Photoshop like the back of my hand and I make my own covers.)

The reason I created those covers first is that I knew that if I was going to write about this family I needed a clear picture of the men's faces before me so they would be more real to me, their eye colors correctly described, their hair just right.

I always liked Joe Cocker's name - the musician - and thought that would fit perfectly for their nicknames, the Cocky Brothers - six guys with confidence to spare because their Daddy taught them to be real men, and their momma taught them to hold out for a different kind of woman.

I started typing Jake's book - Cocky Roomie. I don't outline, I just start writing. The first scene with him and Drew had me laughing and I knew I was doing the right thing.

Then things took off in a way that surprised me. Cocky Roomie was a huge hit, so was Cocky Biker, and Cocky Cowboy also hit big, Cocky Romantic not as much, but Justin's Cocky Senator blew it out of the park, and the last brother melted my heart and everyone else's in Cocky Soldier. As I wrote about their babies they had I fell in love with them, and now I'm writing about their kids, all grown up in the future finding their own HEA's. That's 'happily ever afters' for you non-voracious readers.

OH MY GOD, IS THAT MOMMY PORN?


Here's the thing to know about my books, if you're just now finding me - they're about good people like you and me who are overcoming obstacles in order to find true love. Yes, they have hot sex. Because when you meet your soulmate there is going to be hot sex. But it's not just about that. Anyone who's read one of my books will tell you that. Call it Mommy Porn all you want. I couldn't care less. A guy friend recently called over a table of eight of us, "Hey, Faleena, how do you feel about writing porn?"

I grinned and called back, "I love it!"

He stared at me a second and then broke out laughing. He was trying to fuck with me and it's not possible.

I'm not ashamed of these books. I FUCKING LOVE THEM.


WHY I'VE LEFT ATLANTA EVEN THOUGH IT CHANGED MY LIFE


In Ball Ground, GA, and I think that shadow is my guardian angel's wings
Trouble in paradise: Atlanta itself was starting to be hard on me. I don't understand racism, and the south still has it. I was raised in California where we're very progressive and I just never had that experience until I moved to ATL. I haven't written about it in my books because I'm hoping that one day it won't be there anymore. And my stories aren't about that, except maybe a little in I Love My Fire, but that's not an Atlanta book.

So last month, Mar 5-12, I took a trip to NYC just to get away and check it out again. I knew I was going to be moving there again soon but when I sat down to lunch with a friend, she told me in her oh-so-sexy-and-adorable British accent, "A friend of mine has a fantastic sublet in the best neighborhood for half the price of normal apartments, do you want it?"

I said, YES.

Then for the next few weeks, with many tears involved since it was happening really fucking quickly, I soaked in as much of Atlanta as I could. Like this waterfall Austin and I went to. And that weird little truck with the eyeballs in Ball Ground, Georgia where we ate in the Burger Bus and I bought a kitchen towel from a local store that read: Don't Quit Your Day Dream.

Anything I'd missed in the year and a half I'd been there, I soaked in, so that I could keep writing about this family from a warm place in my heart. Plus, I'll be going back for auditions whenever they come up. So, that's cool.


SUMMARY SUMMARY PLEASE GOD A SUMMARY



This is a decade and three careers that I'm putting into one blog post, give me a break here.

IN SUMMARY...In Jan. 2007 I rented a sublet in Brooklyn.

In April 2017 I rented a sublet in Manhattan.

Wow. Almost ten years later exactly. This is me at Laguardia airport and below is the view I saw the night I arrived.

Only this time everyone's alive. I'm not grieving. I'm not getting over a terrible marriage from a guy who was stealing from me and telling me he loved me at the same time. My books are well received and wonderful readers write to me saying things sometimes that make me cry the good kind of tears.

God gave me another chance.

I've still got my script in my pocket only now I've almost got the money to make it. I'll be shooting it indie style, because I guess that my thing, isn't it? I'll be writing my Cocker Brothers books, loving every minute of getting to know who their kids are (Hannah's book was first and there are 16 to go!)

Meanwhile I'll reach out to cinematographers, sound engineers, and find my production team. Because it turns out that maybe I wasn't meant to be just an actor. Maybe I was meant to be a writer-actor-director, like Woody Allen, Ed Burns, Ben Affleck and the list of dudes goes on. Maybe that's why I spent all those years behind the camera. Maybe that's why I learned how to do allllllll of this, so I could make stuff MY WAY now that the world has stepped into an era where the power is in our hands.

Even if we're women.


I'M WHATEVER THE FUCK I WANT TO BE.


I'm an indie. 
I'm a chick. 
I'm a divorcee.
 I'm not a mother, but I love kids. 
Don't ask me why I don't have any.

I'm me.

Oh, and P.S. I'm not in my twenties anymore. 
Or my thirties. 

There is no time limit on a dream. 

How old will you be once you get 'there'? 
Exactly as old as you'd be if you didn't try. 

xx, 
Faleena Motherfucking Hopkins
If there are typos tell me nicely and I'll fix 'em.

SoHo, NYC, April 6th, 2017





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26 comments

  1. Love your books! I read them all free on KU and slowly buying them so I can have them in my library. Although for me loved Jason Cocker so it surprised me that it wasn't a big hit as the others, it was my favorite book. Haven't started Cocky Soldier yet....
    Loved this memoir
    Good luck in NYC! SO happy for your success and will root for your continued journey. It is beautiful to see/hear/read when a career and a passion come together.

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    1. Thank you, love. What a compliment that you're collecting them all! And I love Jason, too, so they are crazy! (maybe because he seemed sweeter than the rest and bad boys were more the thing? I don't know.) Thank you for the luck and the love! xx, Faleena

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  2. Woo Hoo!! I love it. Get yours girl. I read "I Love My Fire" as a Goodreads winner when you were writing as Sabrina Lacey and have read your books and followed you ever since. Was glad to hear when you moved to Atlanta and was hoping to see or talk to you at a book event. Enjoy NY (my old home) and all the great things to come your way whether writer, actor, director or all three. Will be cheering you on.

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    1. Hi Georgina! You won that contest and have been with me since? That's so wild! You were the ONLY one who won it, so I guess we were a match made in heaven. :)))) I was hoping to go to the conference in ATL and hell, I still might. Thanks for following the journey - I'll continue to keep the stories coming! xx, Faleena

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  3. I love this post it's so you and I'm happy to know you for what feels like forever - exactly since you started off as Sabrina Lacey where our contact started as you were sending out cleaning cloths for Kindle with a hot guy on it. Remember? I'm a fan since the "I love my.." trilogy and loved whatever I've read from you so far and I told you that your books are as easy to read that I don't even feel like reading in English :) Love that you're going after your dreams and I strongly believe in you <3 Sandra from Germany

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    1. Sandra! I almost forgot about those Kindle cleaning cloths with the sexy guy on them. I loooooooooooved those. hahaha Yes, it's been a fun ride and I'm SO HAPPY you're on it with me! Now finish translating Cocky Roomie so we can share it with your native land. ;) Love you girl, xx, Faleena

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    2. Same here ♡ I promise to start translating again when we return from our well needed Easter vacation. Love you too and thanks for believing in me. xxx

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  4. Oh, please! Oh, please! Tell me you do book signings in SoCal??
    I'm not much on the signing, but the introduction. I'd love to say thank you for the adventures in person. I've thoroughly enjoyed the reads.
    Kelly😙

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    1. This comment has been removed by the author.

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    2. I'm in NYC now, love! :) Glad you're having fun and more stories are coming soon! xx, Faleena

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  5. Faleena,..It is so wonderful to see a friend pursue and conquer their dreams. I say this with conviction, I wish I had your ambition!! You live life to the fullest and understand your journey. Your a beautiful soul sweets. Wishing you well! Theresa

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  6. I'm so impressed with everything you've done! I think Karl and I went about life in reverse lol Married: me15/him18 years old, raised two kids: me writer & nurse/him paramedic. Then went wild and bought an RV, sold the house and now we're working on the writing business full time and galavanting across the US. I'm not sure we'll ever catch up to what you've done lol. Thanks for all you share.
    Sorry about your mom. Lost my dad to the same disease. It was brutal.

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    1. Yes, it was brutal. I'm sorry about your dad! And I love that you have a writing team in each other. I would love to find that. <3 Enjoy each other and thank you for the kind words! xx, Faleena

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  7. Faleeeeeeeeeeeeeena!!!!!! Wow, girl! I mean, SuperWoman!!! How proud I am of you. Truly. You're a gem and I visualize all the best for you in the City. One of these days let's catch up! xoxo

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    1. Hi Carrie! Thank you love! Hope you're well! :))) xx

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  8. I have read all the Cocker books I just finished Gabriel's book now I am waiting on Ben's book especially after reading the bonus chapters on Gabriel's

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    1. Hi Shelley! I just now saw your comment, I must have notifications off for this blog. I'm terribly sorry for the delay. Very glad you're enjoying the series... and I'm afraid Ben's book will be out but not for a while. Time has to pass for him. Hope you enjoyed Emma's love story. Eric's is next! xx, Faleena

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  9. i am impressed by your stories, and by your experiences. thank you for sharing them all! i just binged on your cocker series and am looking at your previous books/series now. you are an amazing and talented writer!

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    1. Hi Janalee! My reply didn't go through for some reason, I just realized. Thank you! I'm so glad you're enjoying the series, love! xx, Faleena

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  10. Hi Felina. Just read Cocky Director then you blog at the end of the extra scenes. Realizing now that you lived your dream thru Max and his successful screenplay. Wow.
    Thru your books I have a very romantic view of Atlanta. Never realized the negative aspect that you mentioned in your blog but knew in the very back of my mind that it was always there.
    I know you will be an amazing screenwriter because you are a dynamic person.
    Best of luck(Don't really think you will need it) and kill it in NYC.

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    1. Hi Mary! Just saw this comment waiting in moderation and wanted to say thank you! The bonus scenes are so fun, I'm glad you downloaded those. And yes, planning on making a film soon. Fingers crossed ! Hope you enjoy that, too! xx, Faleena

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  11. Hi, You are so talented. I am addicted to the Cocker brothers series. The romantic series took me by surprise because they have me laughing out loud a lot and NOW I know why... because you're a professional comedian. lol
    I'm sorry to hear about your mom. I lost my mom to breast cancer in 2011.
    God bless you in all that you do. I'm a native New Yorker,but now I'm in NC. I hate racist too. Thanks for pointing out that it's never too late to achieve your dream. Keep pushing and inspiring others, we pessimists need people like you in the world. Thanks for sharing.
    Chawn:)

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    1. Thank you so much, Chawn! Very happy you're having fun. Yep! I do the comedy. ;) I used to be a pessimist and shook that off, so I know the feeling. Take risks. Have a great time. Follow your heart. And know that it's all a grand experiment. xx, Faleena

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