warning: Creating default object from empty value in /home/savethee/jocelynrish/modules/taxonomy/taxonomy.pages.inc on line 33.

Keeping It Short and Sweet

NYC Midnight is a group that runs all types of contests throughout the year where they challenge participants to be creative in a short amount of time, whether it’s writing screenplays, short stories, micro stories, or even making movies.  Depending on the contest, participants are assigned a genre and other parameters, and then have a time limit for producing their work of art. 

One of my favorite contests for the past several years has been the Tweet Me a Story challenge.  We are assigned a word and have only a few hours to create complete stories in 140 characters that incorporate the exact word.  Apparently NYCM decided that wasn’t enough of a challenge, so this time we have to create stories only 100 characters long.  Yikes!

Today was the first round of the micro-fiction contest, and I was assigned the word ‘words.’  I wasn’t very inspired, because first of all, it sounds weird to say, “My word is ‘words.’”  But also because ‘words’ is not one of those words (see what I mean?) that has more than one meaning, so there’s not much to play with in terms of using one of the more obscure definitions. 

We are allowed to submit three entries, and I had six ideas I played around with and tweaked at all day.  When the midnight deadline rolled around for me to submit, these are the three I turned in:

1.  Sick of being poor, Amy clasped the withered hand of her rich groom & choked out the words, “I do.”

2.  As her husband aimed his gun, Tanya smiled - her daring words had finally freed her from his fists.

3.  Sam told him to sit, but the dog confused his words; now the priceless rug is peppered with turds.

Have you ever participated in any of NYCM’s contests?  Have you written micro-fiction before?  What micro-fiction can you come up with for the word ‘words’? (never stops being weird)

 

Fare Thee Well

I received an email today that made me a little sad – Chris Baty is stepping down as the Executive Director of The Office of Letters and Light (OLL).  Chris started National Novel Writing Month with a few of his friends back in 1999, and since then it has grown into an international phenomenon.  OLL is the non-profit group created to organize NaNo, Script Frenzy, and other writing adventures. 

National Novel Writing MonthAlthough I’ve never met or even corresponded with Chris, he’s been a huge part of my writing journey.  I like to think I’d have eventually gotten my act together to write my first novel, but I can’t be sure about that.  For years I’d been saying I wanted to write a novel, but it wasn’t until I heard about NaNo that I actually did it.  In the month leading up to it, I read his book No Plot? No Problem!: A Low-Stress, High-Velocity Guide to Writing a Novel in 30 Days, which really felt like a pep talk from a friend telling me I could do it and coaching me on how to keep the fear from paralyzing me. 

How amazing it must feel to Chris to have started this movement that helps people achieve their dreams and try new and scary things.  I know NaNo has a lot of detractors saying people are just spewing out crap, and I myself get frustrated by the participants who don’t realize the importance of rewriting and editing these NaNo drafts before sending them out, but I will always be grateful to Chris and this insane event he started.  Not only did it set me firmly on my path of serious writing, it also introduced me to a new format - screenplays

Chris’s email said he is stepping down in order to focus on being a full-time writer.  Having made that same decision about my own job a while back, I totally understand how difficult and yet exciting that was for him.  And although I will miss his pep talk emails and the energy he provided even via cyberspace, I wish him the best of luck, flowing words, and much happiness!

Do you think it will be the same without Chris?  How have the programs he started impacted your writing?

A Dream Come True

If the eight-year-old version of me could see what I’m holding in my hands, she’d be cartwheeling around the house squealing at the top of her lungs.  Heck, the adult version of me is having a tough time keeping those impulses in check. 

Jocelyn holding the July 2011 Highlights with her storyToday seemed like any other day until I walked out to my mailbox and found a big white envelope with a return address from Highlights.  I had a hunch about what was inside, and my heart kicked into high gear.  I ripped open the envelope to find complimentary copies of the July 2011 issue, which just so happens to have a story written by me in its brightly colored pages.  Squeeee!!

I loved, loved, loved Highlights growing up – the fun stories, the cool crafts, the hidden pictures, the hijinks of Goofus and Gallant.  Even when I technically grew too old for it, my mom kept the subscription under the guise that it was for my younger brother and sister, even though they never really read it.  I was a sad, sad panda on the day my mom decided all her kids were too old for Highlights and cancelled the subscription.

Even though I wasn’t consciously thinking about becoming a writer at that point, a part of me must have poured over the pages knowing that’s where my destiny would lead me.  Two years ago I entered the 2009 Highlights Fiction Contest, and my story Seeking a Hidden Hive was picked as one of the winners.  My awesome prize was that I got to attend the fantastic Chautauqua Writers Workshop for free, but even more exciting for me was that my story was going to be published in Highlights

Highlights keeps so many stories on hand that it takes years after acceptance to be published, but since this is my first children’s publication, I’ve been anxiously awaiting this day.  Now it’s finally here, and it feels AMAZING!  The illustrator did a fabulous job on the drawings, bringing my characters to life.  I got a little choked up when I saw my name listed among the pages of the magazine that was such a huge part of my childhood.  I am so grateful to the editors at Highlights for picking my story and making one of my dreams come true. 

So what writing milestones have transformed you into your eight-year-old self squealing with excitement?