The Book of Blood and Shadow – Read-n-Feed

First of all, thank you to everyone who left a comment with an embarrassing boy-related story as part of The Boy Project giveaway – they all made me cringe vicariously. And the winner is . . . Janelle! Congratulations! I hope you enjoy Kami’s book as much as I did!

And now for today’s Read-n-Feed, I’m talking about another book written by an author who impressed me at YALLFest:
 
Category: Young Adult
Genre(s): Mystery/historical
Publisher: Knopf Books for Young Readers (2012)
Pages: 432
Amazon Description: 
It was like a nightmare, but there was no waking up. When the night began, Nora had two best friends and an embarrassingly storybook one true love. When it ended, she had nothing but blood on her hands and an echoing scream that stopped only when the tranquilizers pierced her veins and left her in the merciful dark. 
 
But the next morning, it was all still true: Chris was dead. His girlfriend Adriane, Nora's best friend, was catatonic. And Max, Nora's sweet, smart, soft-spoken Prince Charming, was gone. He was also—according to the police, according to her parents, according to everyone—a murderer.
 
Desperate to prove his innocence, Nora follows the trail of blood, no matter where it leads. It ultimately brings her to the ancient streets of Prague, where she is drawn into a dark web of secret societies and shadowy conspirators, all driven by a mad desire to possess something that might not even exist. For buried in a centuries-old manuscript is the secret to ultimate knowledge and communion with the divine; it is said that he who controls the Lumen Dei controls the world. Unbeknownst to her, Nora now holds the crucial key to unlocking its secrets. Her night of blood is just one piece in a puzzle that spans continents and centuries. Solving it may be the only way she can save her own life.
 
I saw Robin Wasserman speak on both the YA Coffee Shop Collective and History & Mystery panels. She was so quick-witted and funny that I couldn’t wait to read The Book of Blood and Shadow. It would be easy to say that what I learned as a writer was how to seamlessly mesh history and imagination because Robin is a master at that. It’s especially inspiring when you read on her website about the actual historical figures – the way Robin tied events from their lives into her story took considerable skill. But as impressive as it is, it’s not a tool I’m likely to add to my toolbox. I’m painfully aware of my shortcomings, and I’m just not patient and diligent enough for the massive amount of research needed to successfully write something so influenced by history.
 
For me, the thing from her book that really struck me as a writer were two paragraphs:
 
“That was the strange thing about translation, speaking someone else’s words in a voice that somehow was and wasn’t your own. You could fool yourself into believing you understood the meaning behind the words, but—as my father had explained long before I was old enough to get it—words and meaning were inseparable. Language shapes thought; I speak, therefore I think, therefore I am. In this case, Elizabeth’s letters, written in a language that died centuries before she was born, were already at some remove from her life. Transforming them, word by dictionary-approved word, into modern English meant there would inevitably be a little of me in Elizabeth. It didn’t mean there was any of her in me.” (page 25)
 
“Latin had always made sense when nothing else did. That was the point of it, for me. Language as mathematical equation, slotting one word in for another, shifting positions, adding, subtracting, substituting, applying one rigorous rule after another, until eventually, from the jumble of letters, a single, true meaning emerged. One meaning, hidden beneath all the mistakes and wrong turns. One puzzle, one solution. Latin was a question that supplied its own answer.” (page 366)
 
The protagonist Nora is extremely skilled at translating Latin, which not only drives the plot, but also helps define her character. Although I took two years of Latin in high school and a year in college*, it wasn’t Nora’s feelings about translating that grabbed me, but that her thoughts about translating perfectly capture how I feel about writing.
 
Writing is not just telling your story - it’s finding the right words to tell your story the right way. It’s speaking for your characters in a voice that both is and is not your own. Creating a story is beautiful and freeing, but it’s also messy. The rules of language and writing help control the chaos. Moving and substituting the words like logical pieces in a mathematical equation can turn any ol' story into something special.
 
I returned to these two paragraphs multiple times, thinking about how they applied to me, and I just hope someday I write passages that speak so directly to a reader that it stops her in her tracks and makes her think.
 
*Why did I do something so impractical like "waste" my time learning a dead language? Back then, I thought I was going to be a doctor, not because I wanted to be one, but because I thought that’s what students who excelled in school were supposed to do. How could I have ever guessed that learning those Latin words, which are the root of much of our language, would contribute to my journey to becoming a writer by fleshing out my vocabulary and my love of words? 
 
If you’ve read The Book of Blood and Shadow, what did you think? What language did you study in school and did you enjoy translating? Do these passages about translating speak to your experience as a writer?

Tweet Tales Tuesday Week 47 + A Busy Week

Whew, this week has been crazy! This Boob Tube Junkie was so busy I didn’t watch TV for seven whole days. I know! Surely that means there are now some demons downstairs doing triple axels in sparkly costumes. So what kept me from my beloved boob tube?

For one, my short film Saying Goodbye screened in the Unofficial Google+ Film Festival this past weekend. It’s a very cool way for people to enjoy some of the film festival experience from home and for us to share our film with an international audience. Frustratingly, I had technical difficulties and couldn’t join in on the live Q&A (you should have seen me shrieking at my computer), but luckily my brother was able to represent us. Hopefully we can be part of the lineup next year with High Heels & Hoodoo!
 
The other big event was the Twitter Fiction Festival, and I participated in two different ways. The company Page 27 makes a storytelling game app, and for the festival they invited fifteen writers to participate in a collaborative storytelling event called Once Upon a Line. We’d get a text when it was our turn and have an hour to write the next part in 1-2 tweets. It was an interesting experiment as we tried to find the balance between improvisation and creating a well-plotted story, as well as the balance between a cohesive storytelling style versus each writer showing off their best flowery prose. As a genre reader/writer, the result wasn’t really my kind of story (not enough murder and mayhem!), but it was great fun to play along and see what our collective creative brains produced, plus I met some new talented writers. You can read the whole story here, and if you want to see what my contributions were, you can click the tweets by day tab and look for my smiling face. Huge thanks to Page 27 for asking me to participate!
 
The other way I participated was by animating one of the #15tt tweet tales from each day of the festival (except for one day because of more technical difficulties – I think I need a new computer!). The little movies are silly (especially with the horrible voice “acting”), but I had a TON of fun making them. However, each one took waaaay longer than I was anticipating (hence no TV and really no sleep either), so I was pretty drained by the end. But it was so enjoyable that I plan to keep doing them occasionally, especially if I can spread the time out rather than trying to get it all done in one night.  
 
Here’s the first one – I was very nervous about animating someone else’s story for the first time, but thankfully I got a thumbs up from the author.
 
I think this second one turned out to be my favorite. Growing up with a brother, I have felt like this on more than one occasion.

When I read this one, I got excited since I knew the animation software had Santa and elves. Turns out it only has female elves and only in these skimpy outfits. The feminist side of me was a tad offended, but *shrug* it’s all in good fun.
 
One of the long-time #15tt regulars really wanted one of his tweet tales animated, and since I’d told him the software was very limited as to what I could animate, he craftily wrote this tweet as a sequel (prequel?) to the tweet from the day before to ensure he’d meet all the prop/setting/costume/action limitations of the software.

 
Stay tuned for future #15tt animations, and play along some days – your tweet tale just might be the next to get the animation experience!
 
On top of all that, I had company in town, and there were lots of events happening on the blog. I ended up posting every weekday for the first time since the A to Z challenge. Don’t forget – I’m giving away a signed copy of Kami Kinard’s The Boy Project. It’s super easy to enter in several ways, so get your entry in before 11:59 Wednesday night!!
 
And if you’ve stuck with me through all that, here are my 15 Minute Tweet Tales for the past week:
 
11/28 – Tom beams at his neophyte’s success. She might be small, but her passion gives her strength. He buries the pieces of the missing man.
 
11/29 - Her tempestuous wails send him scurrying. The shoes were too tasty to resist. He peeks at her with extra sad eyes. She sighs, then smiles.
 
11/30 - With one hopeful breath, I send dandelion fluff floating across the sky. My wish? That my womb will soon pullulate like that wildflower.
 
15 Minute Tweet Tales12/1 - A blizzard of words overwhelms her as he tries to convince her tp stay. It just reminds her why she's leaving: he talks too damned much.
 
12/2 – My dog wouldn't acquiesce to my commands, so I took him to the vet. She told me he was a cat. I think I might need glasses.
 
12/3 - "Do you want to go up to the roof to see my dovecote?" I hate birds but say "yes" hoping the city view will inspire our first kiss.
 
12/4 - I know our marriage is over when he starts wearing flamboyant ties to work - a flourish of fun from a man who no longer smiles at me.
 
And now I’m off for some much needed rest that will include catching up on some of my favorite TV shows!
 
Did you participate in the Twitter Fiction Festival in any way? Have you ever done any collaborative storytelling? Should I win an Academy Award for my awesome voiceover work? (I think my Santa was particularly inspired.) Any thoughts about this week's tweet tales or #15tt words?

Cover Reveal for World of Shell and Bone

How lucky am I that two days in a row I get to pimp one of my kick-butt writer friends? Today I’m honored to be a part of the cover reveal for Adriana Ryan’s World of Shell and Bone.

I met Adriana last year when she came to a few meetings of my local kid-lit critique group. Sadly for us, she decided to stop attending in order to focus on her adult writing instead (check out that racy cover – ooh la la!); but she’s still an honorary member, so we hang out sometimes to drink coffee/wine and write. Not only is she a super-sweet, enthusiastic cheerleader, she is a crackerjack critique partner. So even though I’m currently on a YA kick, I can’t wait to read World of Shell and Bone, coming December 7th, 2012.

Behold the beautiful cover!

World of Shell and Bone

Kudos to James Helps for creating such a striking cover!

So what’s this book all about? Here’s the blurb:

In a world ravaged by a nuclear holocaust, Vika Cannon knows there are no guarantees: no guarantees of safety, no guarantees that your neighbor is not actually a spy for the government, and no guarantees you’ll be allowed to emigrate to a new life in Asia.

New Amana is dying. Food and water are scarce, and people suffering from radiation-caused mutations—the Nukeheads—are the new class of homeless.

Vika has just one purpose: to produce healthy progeny using a Husband assigned by the Match Clinic. Unhealthy children are carted away to Asylums to be experimented on, just as Vika’s little sister Ceres was, eight years ago. Parents incapable of producing healthy progeny are put to death in gas chambers.

When she’s assigned a Husband shortly after her twentieth birthday, Vika expects him to be complacent and obedient. But Shale Underwood has a secret. He is a member of the Radicals, the terrorist group intent on overthrowing the government. And Shale has information about Ceres.

As she learns more about the Rads’s plan, Vika finds herself drawn to Shale in ways she’d never imagined. When freedom calls in the way of a healthy pregnancy, will she betray her government and risk death for Shale and Ceres?

And here’s Adriana’s bio for good measure: Adriana Ryan lives and writes in Charleston, SC. She is currently at work on a dystopian and an urban fantasy series. A huge fan of spooky stuff and shoes, she enjoys alternately hitting up the outlet malls and historic graveyards. Adriana Ryan is a member of the Romance Writer’s Association (RWA). Contact her via email, facebook, or twitter.

Congrats, Adriana, on the debut of a gorgeous and intriguing cover!

What do you think about the cover?  Are you intrigued by the synopsis?

The Boy Project – Read-n-Feed

For the resurrection of my Read-n-Feed posts, I’m actually cheating just a bit. I am kicking it off with an author from YALLFest, but since Kami’s a friend, I actually read The Boy Project when it came out early this year. But I think spreading the word about a friend’s awesome book is the best way to restart Read-n-Feed.

I met Kami a few years ago at a SCBWI conference in Charlotte, NC. Since we’re both from the Lowcountry region of SC, we quickly became conference buddies. Kami was further along in her journey to publication, and via her entertaining dry sense of humor, she generously shared advice and even a few war stories. She’s continued to demonstrate this generous spirit by sending me ideas to spread the word about Saying Goodbye, and even interviewing me on her blog (possibly the coolest idea ever for a blog: Nerdy Chicks Rule). I'm thrilled to have a chance to return the favor.
 
Author: Kami Kinard
Category: Middle Grade
Genre(s): Contemporary
Publisher: Scholastic Press (2012)
Pages: 253
Amazon Description: 
For anyone who's ever felt that boys were a different species....
 
Wildly creative seventh grader Kara McAllister just had her best idea yet. She's going to take notes on all of the boys in her grade (and a few elsewhere) in order to answer a seemingly simple question: How can she get a boyfriend?
 
But Kara's project turns out to be a lot more complicated than she imagined. Soon there are secrets, lies, and an embarrassing incident in the boy's bathroom. Plus, Kara has to deal with mean girls, her slightly spacey BFF, and some surprising uses for duct tape. Still, if Kara's research leads her to the right boy, everything may just be worth it. . . .
 
Full of charts and graphs, heart and humor, this hilarious debut will resonate with tweens everywhere.
 
The writing lesson I learned from The Boy Project can be summed up in one word: FUN! Kara is a witty character that makes it fun to spend time in her head. The premise of melding her science fair project with her search for a boyfriend is fun. The situations that result are extremely funny. Even the way the story is presented is fun – a journal with extras like charts and graphs and doodles and index cards. Reading this book was fun, and it seemed like writing it was . . . an absolute blast! (You thought I was going to say fun, didn’t you?)
 
Now we all know writing is hard work. I think the quote goes something like, “Writing is easy. You just open a vein and bleed.” And sometimes it definitely feels that way. But it should never feel that way to the reader. Kami does an excellent job of making it look effortless, like she was just sitting at her computer cracking herself up all day long. But I know Kami takes her craft very seriously, she even teaches writing, so a lot of technique went into making everything so entertaining. 
 
Kara’s lively voice and the predicaments she finds herself in could have stood on their own for a very amusing tale, but Kami takes things even further by adding extras in the journal. From the emails from BeBeTrueLove about finding a soul mate to a faux death certificate to bar graphs made of smiley faces, each extra item was another opportunity for a chuckle.
 
And we can look forward to more misadventures while studying boys because Kami just announced that Scholastic will be publishing The Boy Project Too in 2014 - hooray!
 
While writing, it’s important to think outside the box and really push the bounds of your creativity. If it looks like you’re having fun, then your readers will have fun, too.
 
Giveaway
To celebrate the resurrection of Read-n-Feed and Kami’s awesome book, I’m giving away a The Boy Project prize pack, which includes a signed copy of the book and a TBP swag bag with things like a bookmark, a bracelet, and tattoos. 
 
Since Kara experiences many embarrassing moments in her quest to understand the male species, you can enter the giveaway by leaving a comment sharing an embarrassing boy-related moment. 
 
Kami was kind enough to share one of her embasrrassing moments to get everyone started: "One time a boy from my church asked me to go to a dance at his school. I didn't like him enough to go, so I turned him down. Then I immediately fell down the front steps of the church, wearing a dress, of course. The poor guy rushed down the stairs and helped me up. I was dying of embarrassment, but after witnessing that graceful move he was probably pretty thankful not to have me for a dance partner!"
 
And to be fair, I’ll share one of mine, too: I had a crush on my lab partner in Chemistry (oh my God, how cliché!), and I was so busy trying to work up the nerve to flirt with him that I wasn’t paying attention and knocked a beaker of boiling water towards him. Luckily he jumped out of the way, but since I lunged for it, I ended up burning my face on the side of the Bunsen burner. It wasn’t serious, just humiliating. 
 
So if you’re willing, leave a comment sharing a moment that made you blush in front of a boy. There are also other social media related ways to enter – just add your entries to the Rafflecopter form, and I'll use it to pick a random winner.
 
The giveaway is now over - congratulations to Janelle for winning!
 
I’m willing to ship internationally, so this is open to everyone. The giveaway will be open for a week, and I’ll announce the winner next Thursday, December 6th. Good luck!

Why Do I Love YA?

Beth Revis giveawayI love the movie Grease. I remember watching it as a wee lass and being utterly captivated by the singing and dancing and romance and friendships and excitement (even if I didn’t understand some of the more risqué elements). I was bitterly disappointed to find out high school wasn’t really like that. For some reason, I could never convince my friends to spontaneously burst into a carefully coordinated song-n-dance routine. 

So what does my love of Grease have to do with my love of YA? For me, reading YA novels evokes that same sense of hope/nostalgia for the possibility of a fun adventure that at the same time could never actually happen. When I was a teen reading YA, all the romances, mysteries, adventures the characters my age were having seemed like something that might…possibly…hopefully…doubtfully...happen to me. And now that I’m an adult reading YA, it brings back those same feelings – those adventures could have happened to me, even though they didn’t. 
 
It’s a weird mix of hope and nostalgia (hopestalgia?) – wishing to experience those heightened emotions and escapades while knowing it will never be. I might use the term wistful to describe the feeling reading YA evokes, but without the undertones of melancholy; since it’s always an enjoyable experience, even for those stories that make me cry like a baby. 
 
I don’t know if any of that actually makes sense, but it’s a feeling that’s hard to describe. Anyway, that’s why I love YA. Of course the hot boys and tummy-fluttering romances don’t hurt either. :-)
 
So what prompted this post? While it dovetails nicely with my resolve to read more YA, it’s actually because of Beth Revis (who was actually a panelest YALLFest for the second time). She’s having a bonkers giveaway: she’s giving one lucky winner almost fifty YA novels signed by their authors, and sharing why I love YA earns me a bunch of entries. Whoo hoo! Go check it out - meanwhile, I’ll be sitting here with all my fingers and toes crossed!
 
Why do you love YA? Have you entered Beth’s contest? If so, include the link to you YA love post so I can read it.

Twitter Fiction Festival + Tweet Tales Tuesday Week 46

15 Minute Tweet TalesHave you heard about the Twitter Fiction Festival? From Wednesday, November 28th through Sunday, December 2nd, Twitter is hosting a celebration of storytelling at the hashtag #twitterfiction. They asked writers from around the world to submit proposals to be included in the festival, so I screwed up my courage and sent in an idea.

They were supposed to announce the selected authors last Monday, but I still haven’t heard anything. For a while I maintained hope because (as I learned from obsessively googling and checking Twitter) no one else had heard anything either – not a single peep of celebration from anyone. But since the festival starts tomorrow and you’d think people would have to know if they were officially participating, I sadly have to assume I’m not one of the chosen ones.
 
Edit: They posted the official selection list around 2:00pm, and as I suspected, my name is nowhere to be found. *sad face*
 
But never fear! I’ve decided since I’ve already prepped for it (and it’s really just a souped up version of my regular 15 Minute Tweet Tales), I’m going to participate anyway in an unofficial capacity. And to explain what I’ll be doing, I’m copying a chunk from my festival application:
 
What's your proposal? Describe the story you'd like to tell... how would you tell it... what are the Twitter accounts you'd use?
 
For the past year, I’ve been running a daily Twitter fiction challenge called 15 Minute Tweet Tales using the hashtag #15tt. I have a word-a-day calendar, and each day as I uncover the new erudite word, I give myself fifteen minutes to come up with a story using that word. It’s great exercise for my writing muscles and has the added bonus of boosting my vocabulary. The full explanation can be found here.
 
The best part is that other people in the Twitter-verse also play along, so each day there are many diverse stories inspired by the same word. Touching, funny, horrific, sad, lyrical – the variety of tales told each day guarantees there will be something for everyone to enjoy. 
 
My proposal for the Twitter Fiction Festival is to continue what I have been doing: provide a word each day for all participants to create their own masterpieces of Twitter fiction. I would use my Twitter account (@JocelynRish) to post the word and my own tweet tale, and then anyone else who wants to participate would tweet tales from their Twitter accounts with the hashtag #15tt.
 
I know there are others out there running similar fiction challenges, so I propose to take mine a step further. In the world of novels, many bestsellers end up being made into movies, so each day of the festival, I will turn one of the 15 Minute Tweet Tales into a short animated film. 
 
I will usually select the tweet tale with the most retweets as the one to animate, but since the animation software I use is relatively limited, I’ll have to use my own discretion as to what I can accomplish on screen. 
 
Just like Twitter condenses a story into 140 characters, Twitter will also be used to condense the lifecycle of a novel-to-screen adaption into 24 hours. The stories will be published, become bestsellers by the number of retweets, and be turned into movies to then be shared via Twitter the next day.
 
I hope the #15tt regulars will join in on the fun, and if you haven’t played along yet, now’s a great time to jump in since your tweet tale has a chance to be animated. Although I have to stress again how limited the animation software is (not to mention my skills using it), so each day I’ll be picking the one with the most retweets that I’m also able to animate.  Things to keep in mind to increase the chances of your #15tt getting animated: 
  1. The software cannot animate animals or children.
  2. The choices for props, settings, and costumes are very limited so keep it simple.
  3. Actions are easier to animate that thoughts or feelings.
  4. But it's not like intricate stuntman actions are available.
And here’s an example of what it will look like:
 
 
As you can see, it has amazing production values. And the voice-over actors are particularly Oscar worthy. :-)  It’s just a silly bit of fun, so I hope y’all will dust off your storytelling skills and play along!
 
Also make sure you check out the #twitterfiction hashtag during the five days of the Twitter Fiction Festival to see all the creative storytelling experiments taking place.
 
And at looong last, here are my 15 Minute Tweet Tales for the past week:
 
11/21 - I should never have come to this hermitage by myself to write. Especially not a horror novel. I jump at every sound. Wait, what's tha—
 
11/22 - The newest senior class scapegrace is extremely good looking. Principal Jones licks her lips as she imagines ways to rehabilitate him.
 
11/23 - She dozed as the lawyer went over the jabberwocky in the prenup. Big mistake since her husband ran off with the maid 6 months later.
 
11/24 - Kim's in a preprandial frenzy finalizing the meal she made for her vile mother-in-law: the arsenic sauce only goes on one of the plates.
 
11/25 - After he proposes on the jumbotron, he mafficks around the stadium, not knowing she only said YES to not embarrass him on national TV.
 
11/26 - The professor's lectures are abstruse, but she's getting an A. She'd gone to his office to "beg" on her knees and saw Tom got there 1st.
 
11/27 - The scarecrow likes gossiping with the crows, but the farmer threatens to literally fire him if he doesn't fulfill his corvine duties.
 
Are you planning to check out the Twitter Fiction Festival? Do you think you’ll write any #15tt tweet tales during the festival? Any thoughts about this week's tweet tales or #15tt words?

Resurrecting Read-n-Feed

Last year I decided I needed to add reading back into my life, not only because I love to read, but also because it’s an important way to grow as a writer. And since I wanted to be serious about it and keep myself accountable, I resolved to share the lessons I learned about writing while reading in blog posts called Read-n-Feed. Since there has only been one Read-n-Feed post in the ensuing fifteen months, you can see that plan worked out splendidly. 

Chloe ate a book!

But at the YALLFest a few weeks ago, I was both shamed and inspired anew to put my reading muscles (atrophied from disuse like my weakling regular muscles) back to work. It was embarrassing to be watching such charming and intelligent authors on stage and not have read their books. It made me squirm when I had to admit over and over to fellow attendees raving about any of the bestsellers that I hadn’t read them yet. I felt like an imposter, both as a fan of YA fiction and as a YA writer. And of course, all the panelists affirmed again and again that their best advice to aspiring authors is to read, read, READ!
 
So I’ve been reading.
 
Probably more in the past few weeks than in the past few years combined (pathetic, I know!). 
 
And I’ve been using the list of authors at YALLFest as my guide for picking books.
 
Freya ate a book!
 
And starting this Thursday, I’m going to have my first Read-n-Feed post in over a year. *cue confetti and celebratory honking* And since it’s such a momentous occasion, I’m starting with my friend Kami Kinard, author of The Boy Project: Notes and Observations of Kara McAllister. And as part of celebrating the resurrection of Read-n-Feed, I’m giving away a signed copy of The Boy Project along with special TBP swag. So mark your calendars, set a reminder on your phone, tie a piece of string around your finger – just remember to stop by on Thursday for your chance to win!
 
* So was it Chloe or Freya who was guilty of snacking on books? Or could it be that they were . . . *gasp* . . . framed?!?
 
How do you balance your reading and writing and other obligations? What are you reading right now? Any suggestions for YA books that MUST be added to my towering To Be Read pile?

Happy Thanksgiving + Tweet Tales Tuesday Week 45

15 Minute Tweet Tales

I doubt many people are reading blog posts this week – too busy cooking, gathering family and friends together, and preparing for insane shopping adventures – but I wanted to take this opportunity to wish everyone a spectacular Thanksgiving. The Rish family will be gathering at my parents’ house where my brother is going to cook his infamous (and super delicious) spiced turkey. I’m in charge of the dressing, which to everyone’s surprise I managed to pull off last year without burning down the kitchen. Fingers crossed for success two years in a row.  

The one thing we will definitely not be doing? Shopping! None of us are really shoppers at the best of times, and with crowds willing to trample each other over a few dollars off, we’re going to give any place with a cash register a wide berth. Instead we’ll probably sit around in the same room not talking while we play Words with Friends with each other on our phones. Maybe I should see if I can track down a Scrabble board so there is some actual interaction? But it’s so much easier when the game automatically tells you if the random string of letters you put together really forms a word. :-)
 
In the meantime, here are my 15 Minute Tweet Tales for the week for you to enjoy as you stuff your turkey:
 
11/14 - The tomcat hectored the kitten, batting him around. But with one swipe, the kitten drew blood. He hadn't been declawed. Or deballed.
 
11/15 - The star-chamber rules for scaling the friend hierarchy to be Tia's BFF are so frustrating Pam decides it's more fun to be her enemy.
 
11/16 - He swore he was being facetious when he said rivals would pay a lot for their code. His boss swore she wasn't joking when she fired him.
 
11/17 - All the ladies were atwitter when a pukka royal visited their brothel. But the "lucky" girl he selected never came downstairs again.
 
11/18 - The king hurls foolish orders after the guards spot the enemy's anabasis. Fed up with his idiocy, they push him across the drawbridge.
 
11/19 - After her showdown with the principal, 11 girls dye their hair pink. She'd only wanted to express herself, not gain a bunch of epigones.
 
11/20 - Her mom's constant warnings to be chary of strangers made Pam freeze around men. She thought it'd be better to meet one online. Poor Pam.
 
 
I’m thankful for so much this year, including having this silly little blog that has helped me meet some truly incredible people. Thank you for reading. Happy Thanksgiving!!  
 
What are your Thanksgiving plans? Any special traditions? Play along and write tweet tales for the above words. If you’re willing to share, post them on twitter with the hashtag #15tt or add them below in the comments because I’d love to read them. Any thoughts about this week's tweet tales?

Tweet Tales Tuesday Week 44

15 Minute Tweet TalesI think my first tweet tale for this week was triggered by my frustration at already seeing Christmas stuff everywhere. I love Christmas, I really, really do, but I don’t need it in my face for over two months. I went clothes shopping (which I hate to do under the best of circumstances), and one store was blasting carols the entire time. I seriously felt like shrinking into a corner, hands clenched over my ears, rocking back and forth, and wailing, “Make it stop! Make it stop!” *ahem* Sooooo anyway, here are my 15 Minute Tweet Tales for the past week: 

11/7 - Her decorous holiday decorations made her the envy of the town, but this year her son snuck a mooning-Santa figurine into the manger.
 
11/8 - Years of bleaching left her with frazzled locks, triggering an animus of natural blondes. Sneaking up behind them, she'd cut off chunks.
 
11/9 - He confers with his consigliere, "Once for yes, twice for no." The poodle barks once; now he's the proud owner of swampland in Florida.
 
11/10 - He peruses the menu, then orders: early 20s, female, redhead. As she screams, he realizes although this is easier, the thrill is gone.
 
11/11 - The bees overthrew the queen, but the new system ended up a kakistocracy because all the competent workers were too busy to govern.
 
11/12 - The prom queen regrets her ignoble treatment of her classmates: pig's blood would've been preferable to the cow shit they dump on her.
 
11/13 - His trenchant wit made him a trendy guest till he flayed too many hosts with his sharp tongue; now his pithy barbs are wasted on the dog.
 
Are you already filled with Holiday spirit? Or are you sick of the Season before we’ve even reached December? Play along and write tweet tales for the above words. If you’re willing to share, post them on twitter with the hashtag #15tt or add them below in the comments because I’d love to read them. Any thoughts about this week's tweet tales?

YALLFest Returns

YALLFestY’all, the second annual YALLFest was a blast! I could probably just cut and paste my post about last year’s YALLFest here because it was the same type of awesomeness: funny and inspiring YA authors on stage and bonding with old and new writing friends. But instead of being lazy, I’ll try to come up with new superlatives to describe this year’s event.  

First of all, you have to check out the incredible lineup – it’s kind of mind blowing! There were 47 YA authors there and 25 of them are New York Times bestsellers – that’s a lot of writing talent in one location. I was excited to see all of them, but as a long-time fan of the show Bones, I was especially jazzed to see Kathy Reichs.  
 
The one drawback of having so many talented people in one place was that there were three panels happening at each time period, so without Hermione’s time turner, it was impossible to see everyone. So on Friday night, I printed out the YALLFest schedule and utilized several colors of highlighters to map out my plan of attack to get the most bang for my buck (Except not really, because the absolute best part about YALLFest? All that awesomeness was FREE!!). By Saturday morning, I was prepped and ready for my mission: absorb as much inspiration as possible from these YA writing luminaries. 
 
Fortunately I also had a number of partners in crime to share the day with: Kathleen Fox, Lisa Downey, Jillian Gregory Utley, Rebecca Petruck, Rebecca Enzor, Leah Rhyne, Kami Kinard, and new writing friend Laura Moss. It was so much fun to meet up throughout the day to chat about the panels we had just attended and compare notes. The keynote session was with Cassandra Clare and Holly Black discussing literary friendships, and I have to admit listening to them talk about the love and support of writer friends as I sat in the audience with my fantastic writer friends made me a tad teary.
 
Late in the afternoon there was finally a break, so some of us headed to Rue de Jean for a drink, where we started a new tradition of “serious” writerly discussions over wine and French fries. Thanks to Kathleen for the picture of Lisa, Laura, Rebecca E, me, and Rebecca P. Just like Kami (who made the leap from audience member last year to panelist this year – so cool!), I know others in this group will be on the YALLFest stage in future years – I just hope one of them is me!
YALLFest Gals
YALLFest really is a fantabulous event – both for readers and writers. The authors were very generous in sharing information about their ups and downs before they were published, their writing processes, and other fun stories. Plus Charleston is a fabulous place to visit in the fall. Thank you so much to Jonathan Sanchez of Blue Bicycle Books and Margaret Stohl for organizing such a fantastic event! They have already decided on November 9th for next year’s festival, so mark your calendars – I hope to see y'all there!
 
Were you able to attend this year’s YALLFest? What was the best piece of advice/inspiration you heard? Are you planning to attend next year?