Faleena's Love Stories

Sunday, June 3, 2018

To Create is to Heal is to Create

Filming starts soon. Very soon.

If storytellers, of any medium, stop doing what we are driven in our hearts to do, we're not happy or healthy. 

Steven Pressfield writes about this in his wonderful book The War of Art. 
"If tomorrow morning by some stroke of magic every dazed and benighted soul woke up with the power to take the first step toward pursuing his or her dreams, every shrink in the directory would be out of business. Prisons would stand empty. The alcohol and tobacco industries would collapse, along with the junk food, cosmetic surgery, and infotainment businesses, not to mention pharmaceutical companies, hospitals, and the medical profession from top to bottom. Domestic abuse would become extinct, as would addiction, obesity, migraine headaches, road rage, and dandruff." - Steven Pressfield, The War of Art 


For indie filmmakers, here's some tech-fun to chew on after our first all-crew-on-deck production meeting: 

We're shooting with a Canon C300 Mark II
4K Format 16:9

We've got six Leica lenses. 

I'm so excited about these. Back when I was a fashion photog, I always wanted Leica's. We're renting...but still. It's very cool. I shot/shoot with a Canon 5D Mark II, and while we could have used that, we opted for the better quality of the C300.

Our sound guru has 8 lav mics and 2 booms. We'll be deciding daily on set which to use before every set up, per her recommendation. She informed us her equipment has timecode and we'll jam it with the camera. Both the cinematographer and editor were stoked about that. It helps immensely with editing.

Our film's actors are working under the SAG Ultra Low Budget contract. 

We have film insurance through Athos.

I saw David O'Russell do two Q&A's after his film screenings through SAG back when I lived in LA. He shared that he loves to light the room so that there will be no film crew in it, as often as he can. It's just him, the DP, and the actors who get to run the scenes pretty much start to finish like they do in a play. It gives actors the ability to settle into the life of those moments rather than the normal stop/start that is very common in moviemaking.

We'll be doing that style. 

Only sometimes our boom operator will be dancing along next to the DP. 

We're getting two 8 terabyte hard drives. One to edit, one backup. Always back up. 

The editor and DP agreed that editing the film on one hard drive is better for working in the software rather than bouncing around between drives. 

After a quick search they found these on Amazon for less than if we bought one 8, and two 4s. We try to cut costs anywhere we can, so we initially thought slicing the backup drives would be better. Nope. 

The rental car for the location shoot will be paid for with my credit card's points. That's one way we're creatively trimming costs but not quality. 

During filming we'll dump the media cards onto a hard drive then hand it off to the editor. We'll get dailies with a day's lag time, give him space to work. This is all for rough. After filming is wrapped, he and I will be working closely together to do the final storytelling. 

I got the edit-as-we-go method from Kevin Smith, as I mentioned in the video, from his audiobook: "Tough Shit". I love listening to his realness, amusing delivery, and amazing advice. He edits his own films. Amazing. Thank you, Kevin for not staying Silent like Bob, for telling us how you did it all. You are the man. 

I also mentioned Ed Burn's book, "Independent Ed," which is truly inspiring to indie filmmakers. Thank you, Ed, for sharing all that you have with the community. Keep getting those 12 Best Days. You are a beacon of awesomeness. I'm buying more of your books to pass out.

We started the meeting discussing why we got into film. Most of us had been struck by the power and magic of movies as children and knew we wanted to make them, but didn't know how. One was raised in China and had never seen a film until he was past childhood because they didn't play them at the local movie houses. Some of us thought we could make films, then changed our minds, and changed our minds once more when we realized you can do anything you want to in life. You just have to learn how.

All of us now love our jobs. We are filmmakers. 

Like I said in the video -- bunch of scrappy mo'fo's.


This movie is not from The Cocky Series.

This movie is an entirely new story.

I'll share what I can as we go along, as those before me have done, those who've inspired this film to be made in the first place. 

We live in a new world where anything is possible. 

Have the will and you'll find the way. 

 xx, Faleena Hopkins

"...the campaign has been, and always will be, a reminder to the people of the importance self-love and self-appreciation." -  Protect Yo He(art) 
Snapped this today from the sidewalk on my way to our crew meeting. 

Bio: I've been putting pen to page since age six (actually started with crayon, but you get the idea) and in 2013 I self-published my first novel as me, then a bunch more under a pen name until coming out of the steamy-romance-writing-closet in 2015 for good. In 2016 my series Cocker Brothers, The Cocky Series launched it, selling half-a-million over the next two years. My thing is family loyalty, loads of humor, real life situations and steamy love.

Sunday, May 27, 2018

Author Faleena Hopkins: Why I Filed To Trademark My Series and Unwittingly Created #Cockygate

I'm about to tell the real story. Stay tuned.

Amended 10/14/22  - I posted this story - my story as promised and had over 50k views in two days. I didn't want that many - it showed how many were either 1) bloodthirsty or 2) just curious.

I told people in that post of my story that I would take it down soon after because I named names and hated gossip. 

But the impact of that article stopped - kinda - the smear campaign against me when people heard the truth and said, oh... these people are doing this for like, comments, views, and sales. Most importantly sales. 

Many people these days will crush a person even when they don't know them, especially when they don't, in order to further themselves. 

And to be clear, the author who tweeted my cease-and-desist letter that lit the match to dynamite saying "I have to admit, I felt intimidated," had over 120 books published. At the time I had 30. You can't bully up. But people, until the blog-post of my story went live on this blog, hadn't looked at her Amazon profile. Or at the fact that when they all came to her 'aide' she then pushed this book and that book and this book and that book until they got quiet. 

But the mob had erupted. 

Over 40 authors had created the book "Cock Tales" a compilation that can still be found on Amazon today. Or at least on Goodreads. They made a video, each smiling after the last, claiming to come together after one author - me, a self-pub without the backing of a big publishing house - to bring me down in the name of 'sisterhood'. 

The mob that was incited flagged my instgram and I lost 10k fans. 

I unpublished my FB Page and they rejoiced, thinking they'd done it. I only know that because they tagged me in the post. 

I apologized, but it was too late. The mob had all pointed their lives anger at something and that kind of fury, regardless of where it is based from, cannot be stopped. They didn't care if I was just me. They couldn't listen to reason. 

They said I was a member of.... but stopped saying it when I publicly countered that I'm the descendent of a slave and a plantation owner. 

They said I was after 'the newbie author' but stopped saying it when I publicly reminded the world that I'd been a speaker at - and had not been paid to be so, had even paid for my flight and hotel rooms - at two self-pub writer's conferences just month's prior in order to help new authors achieve their dreams of getting their stories out to readers who will be entertained and hopefully uplifted by them.

They hit my feature film, Just One More Kiss with one-stars on IMDb before anyone had seen it, while I was still editing it, and there's nothing I can do about it today. Except know in my heart that it's a great fucking film and I will die proud of it. The real reviews balanced that average - even tho it now rests at only a sad 4.9 - they're all I care about. 

I tried to avoid court but the Romance Writers of America, who was gathering other romance authors together and funding the case against me, a union I'd never heard of (because a self-pub doesn't need protection from anyone except a union who wouldn't even accept them for a long time) wouldn't return my call and steamrolled forward in the name of sisterhood. RWA imploded a year later on accusations of racism with 23 board members resigning within days of being blasted on social media. 

When we were in Federal court I was in the throes of filming Just One More Kiss because it was scheduled before the bizarreness of 'Cockygate' began and I had no choice. I had to not only make a film I'd spent years dreaming of but field lie after lie and take reporters calls in between takes. And that was fucking hard but I was dealing with it. But then one of the "Cock Tales" authors who was spearheading the lawsuit had vanished, essentially. She was not answering calls/emails from her attorney. It was revealed her mother had just died. I heard this and the world spun out on me. My mom left this world on Dec. 20, 2005, and I was holding her hand and talking her through it when she left. For the next three years I was a basketcase. I know how losing a mom feels. I'll never forget the day the lawyers told me. There I was in the middle of a shitstorm and the world got very still. I told them, What are we doing? Her mother just died. This doesn't mean anything. I want to settle. 

The lawyers spoke. We settled. 

And that original article I'd posted here that had over 50k views finally calmed most people down. Readers/Viewers began commenting on the videos attacking me with accusations that they were just going after sales and view, likes, comments, and why? 

But it didn't really end. Not for me. It's been 4.5 years now and I still get attacked every time I do anything. I was strong at first, kept writing in the series I loved, until a few things I couldn't control happened. 

The harassment continued, as I mentioned. If you've ever had anyone who doesn't like you, you know how that feels, and multiply it. In July 2019, a year into the Cockygate harassment, I felt a pain in my abdomen and had to have open surgery, not laparoscopic, to remove a large growth that was strangling my right fallopian tube. I was pretty sure that was an uncanny affliction since I was being attacked by women en masse and couldn't fix it so it manifested into a physical growth that was... you know. Two months in, when my dog was boarded because I couldn't walk her and I was dictating into my phone Book 24 of Cocker Brothers, May's story, because I needed to write even though I couldn't sit up, one of my readers wrote to with an attachment of the "Cocky Heroes Club" that was about to launch. An author, female, far more successful than I had gathered one-hundred authors to publish in the Cocky Heroes series to take my series down. One. Hundred Authors. I cried my fucking brains out. I changed the titled of my books, removing Cocky from them, just having their characters' names. 

Because I just couldn't fight anymore. My whole system broke down. 

Then the pandemic happened. I wrote Book 25, Lexi's story, uploading a chapter a day to my App only to give my readers, and me, a respite from the world's bullshit. 

But by this time it had sunk in, the PTSD. I was finished. I tried to write Book 26 four times but my fingers shook when I typed and I hated all of the drafts. 

Honestly the shit hit the fan in so many ways. My dad died right in front of me with no warning. I battled my step-siblings to help our youngest sister keep her house. I bought them out of the trust to keep my parents' dream house. And this whole fucking time, all I wanted to do was write and make movies and I couldn't do anything but punch back to the hits that were coming at me. 

Finally - FINALLY - I stopped.

Looked around.

And realized what's important. 

None of what I was worrying about... is. 

Like a phoenix I began to heal and say fuck them all. 

I could be on the streets and as long as I know I'm a good human, I'm good. 

I could make someone smile and that is a fucking nuff. 

I could never write a book again and that's okay. 

My worlds exist.

I've written good books. 

They uplift people.

That's what matters. 

I could stop breathing and the world would go on. 

But what do I want? 

I want to lighten people's loads. 

I want to open not just my heart, but everyone's. 

I want to be the light when it's dark. 

So I will do that. I am that. For months now I've focused on healing because that is worth everyone's time, not just mine but everyone I touch. 

So today, when I saw some angry human leaving a fresh one-star on Jake's story, the one I've just renamed and rebranded with my new fuck it, I'm in it to win it romcom philosophy, I don't have to tell them that they're wrong about me. 

Because I don't give a FLYING FUCK what anyone thinks about me. 

They aren't in my shoes, my bed, my car, my plane, my life, when I die. I am. 

And I know without question that I am fucking awesome just the way I am, flaws and all. In fact, it's the 'flaws' that make me special. 

Oh, and I did change my name like the Cockygate mob wanted me to when they hoped (campaigned for) my writing under a psuedonym (can't even spell it because I don't believe in it) to hide me from the world. 

NO, babies... I lost my last name.

I'm the only Faleena writing on Amazon. At least today. So I don't hide it.

I claim it. 

I am Faleena. 

Yes, that Faleena. 

The one they all came after. 

But haters gotta hate.

Light has gotta dispel Shadow.

Fuck the shadow and the hate. 

You Be You. 

Thank you for listening. 

I hope you know it's all a game. 

Love is the answer. 

Especially loving all the little things. 



Sunday, May 13, 2018

Writing Romance Amidst A Storm: Keep Nose To Grindstone. Check.

Despite the current chaos I shut off social media and put fingers to keyboard to do what I do: write about true love and overcoming hardships to have the life you deserve. 

I was so grateful when I quietly launched this today that, despite the lies and gossip swirling around me, I found my fans still with this family. Tonk Jr's Book launched at 47 in the Kindle Store, all genres.

I'll continue to write under my real name and ignore those who whisper, advise, warn, and shout that I should go back to a pen name and hide.

Nobody should hide what they love.


And yes, I'll not drink whiskey before recording a live video again. Oops.


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