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Tweet Tales Tuesday Week 250

For most of the past three weeks I have been out of town, with intermittent internet access for a chunk of that time, so I’ve skipped a few posts. That means today’s post is going to be a whopper since of course I have to chat about all the cool things that happened since the last post.
 
During the first five days of the hiatus, I attended the Beaufort International Film Festival with my brother. Our short film Saying Goodbye was part of the festival five years ago, and our short High Heels & Hoodoo was a selection four years ago, and we just adore this festival. The entire town of Beaufort embraces the festival and makes the filmmakers feel like treasured guests.
 
It felt like the entire population of Beaufort attended the opening ceremony. Local restaurants had food samples, and I embarrassed myself by getting three cups of the she-crab soup (so yummy!). In fact, that was a theme for my entire Beaufort trip – eating waaaaay too much super delicious food. We chatted with people we’d met at previous festivals, met new folks, and got our picture taken against the fancy BIFF backdrop.
Brian and Jocelyn at BIFF opening ceremony
 
The films started screening on Thursday, and the first one we watched was an excellent student film called Rocket. I’m expecting big things from the director, who just happens to be a women. In fact, women kicked butt at this festival. I was thrilled to discover many of my favorites were written and/or directed by women when the credits rolled.
 
Thursday evening was the screenplay readings, which was exciting for me because I was a screenplay judge this year. Yep, I judged screenplays!! It required a lot of reading, but it was a huge honor to help select the screenplays that shined. A group of actors read five pages from the top seven finalists, and it was fun to see them in action.
Screenplay readings at BIFF
 
There were a lot more films (and food!) on Friday, and then on Saturday I attended a bunch of workshops while Brian watched more movies. I learned tons of cool stuff and met several folks working on projects I can’t wait to learn more about.
 
Sunday evening was the award ceremony, which was another memorable moment for the Rish sibs because Brian and I got to present the award for best short film. I’ve always thought it would fun to do the “and the winner is…” thing, and I GOT TO DO IT!! Brian and I came up with what we hoped was an entertaining schtick to do during our presentation. Here’s the video of our big moment if you’re interested.

2017 Beaufort International Film Festival - Best Short from Beaufort Film Society on Vimeo.

It was yet another amazing BIFF, and huge thanks to Ron, Rebecca, and all the volunteers who made this such a fantastic event. Here are pics of some of the fun folks we hang out with every year at BIFF: the amazing festival directors Ron and Rebecca Tucker; fab fimmakes Uyen Le and VW Scheich; talented actor Gary Weeks and his lovely mother Sara; Brad Jayne, who not only helped us with both our films, but was given the Behind the Scenes Award at BIFF because he rocks.
 
After BIFF was over, Brian left me in Beaufort for my critique group’s (the Sisukas) writing retreat. One of the women has a family house on the water in Beaufort, and it’s an amazing place to get together to write, critique, rest, laugh, and eat.
Beaufort house
Sisukas
 
We brainstormed a bunch of projects, wrote a lot of words, and, oh yeah, ate a lot of food. If you haven’t figured it out yet, I think I gained at least five pounds the past few weeks.
 
After five more days in Beaufort, it was finally time to return home. But I had barely unpacked before it was time to take off again. Turns out I made the final round for a grant I applied for. And so did my brother! Dun dun duhn! We’ll be competing against each other! But in the meantime, there was a workshop in Columbia about how to apply for the final round of the grant. There is a huge, massively scary budget spreadsheet involved and lots of questions that require tons of research, so this workshop was to help the finalists get started on the right foot. Things seem less scary now, but there’s still a lot of work to be done. Wish me luck!
 
Continuing the good news trend, I found out on Sunday that I got picked for a #PitchMadness team – Team Gumdrop Mountain. The odds were pretty insane, so I’m thrilled to be part of it. Now I’ll be working with the fabulous team hosts Heather Cashman and Nikki Roberti to polish my pitch and first chapter so it can be presented to agents next week. Eeeek!! Wish me more luck!
 
Whew, okay, I think that about covers the last three whirlwind weeks, so now it’s time to catch up on some 15 Minute Tweet Tales:
 
contrail - visible trail of streaks of condensed water vapor or ice crystals forming in the wake of an aircraft.
 
2/21 - She leans back on her elbows, watching the contrails drift in the wind, but jumps up when she realizes they're reforming into her name.
 
diastema - a gap or space between two teeth.
 
2/28 - He thought her diastema made her adorkable. Until they had dinner. He lost all desire to kiss he with spinach nesting between her teeth.
 
drupelet - one of the small drupe-like subdivisions which compose the outer layer of certain fruits such as raspberries or blackberries AKA the bumps on rasperies. 
 
3/7 - She picks a raspberry, then notices the drupelets are iridescent colors: pinks, reds, blues, purples. The taste of magic awaits her lips.
 
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 or #15tt words?

Tweet Tales Tuesday Week 229

If you read last week’s post, you know I ate a cricket. Several crickets, in fact. And if you haven’t read it yet, you should check it out because there is actually video of me eating a cricket. Yep, pretty sure that’s going to come back to haunt me at some point.
 
Anyway, the eating of questionable protein continued during our writing retreat: I ate worms. Two different kinds of worms! Even though I'm making a disgusted frowny face as I type those words, just like with the crickets, it wasn’t all that bad. Okay, I’m lying. One of them was horrible, but I’ll get to that in a bit.
 
First up was the wax worms. One of the big scenes in Rebecca Petruck’s upcoming middle-grade novel WILL NOLAN EATS WORMS involves wax worm cookies, so Rebecca wanted to make some for accurate research. 
 
Rebecca got the worms a few days before we arrived and froze them, so I never had to see them wriggling – except on video. So the first thing we had to do was pick frozen worms out of their sawdust beds. It was fine at first because they were frozen, so they just felt like skinny crackers or something. But then they started to thaw out. Very quickly. Which meant they were squishy when you picked them up. I started to worry I was going to wimp out and not be able to eat them.
Separating Wax Worms
Waxworms
 
Next Rebecca made the cookie dough and added the worms to it. Oh dear, ruining perfectly delicious cookie dough with WORMS!
Worms in Dough
 
After some time in the oven, they were ready. And I was ready … to run!
 
But I finally screwed up my courage. You know how when you’re picking out a chocolate chip cookie you look for the one with the most visible chips? Yeah, this was the complete opposite. I was looking for one with the least amount of visible worms. But Rebecca had been quite generous with her worm to dough ratio. *shudder*
 
So I bit into it, and it was okay. The cookie itself was super tasty. I didn’t actually notice a taste with the worms, but the texture was … unsettling. Like I don’t eat mushrooms or oysters because I hate the texture, so the worms pretty much fall into the same category. But I do feel pretty badass for having eaten a worm cookie!
Jocelyn eats worm cookies
 
Next up was the earthworm jerky. Yep, you read that right. Rebecca ordered it already prepared, so we just had to open the package and “enjoy.” The ingredients listed all kinds of spices, which sounded like it would be tasty enough to cover any potential earthworm flavor. It was not. That stuff was FOUL! It was really tough, so it was hard to chew, and it had this super strong, terrible fishy taste. NEVER AGAIN!
 
Here's Rebecca trying to tear off a piece of her jerky:
Rebecca eats earthworm jerky
 
Here's me before eating my earthworm jerky:
Jocelyn eating earthworm jerky
 
Here's me after eating my earthworm jerky:
After eating earthworm jerky
 
Besides all the fun with bug eating, we also got a lot accomplished on the writing front. We did tarot card readings for our characters and plots (which were eerily accurate), brainstormed story ideas, and I got feedback on my latest rough draft. I’m dipping my toes in the middle-grade waters, and their feedback on my WIP was very inspiring and has me ready to dive into revisions. So it was a very productive week!
Tarot for my novel
 
15 Minute Tweet TalesNow it’s finally time for this week’s 15 Minute Tweet Tales word:
 
feuillemort - having the color of a faded leaf. 
 
6/14 - Her hair was feuillemort, the texture just as brittle, but even when the sickness stole the rest away, he remained dazzled by her beauty.
 
Play along and write a tweet tale for the above word. If you’re willing to share, post it on twitter with the hashtag #15tt or add it below in the comments because I’d love to read your tales. Any thoughts about this week's tweet tale or #15tt word?
 

Tweet Tales Tuesday Week 228

Today’s post is super late because I’m at a writing retreat in the NC mountains with my critique group, the Sisukas. This evening we had an exciting adventure. Rebecca Petruck is working on a middle grade book to be published by Abrams next year. It’s called WILL NOLAN EATS BUGS. It’s not even a spoiler to tell you that, yes, the main character does in fact eat bugs. 
 
Rebecca decided that this week was the appropriate time to finally eat her first bug as research. She also decided that the rest of us should eat some, too. Yay??? So tonight we had cricket tacos for dinner. And you know what? They actually weren’t that bad. 
 
The anticipation was definitely the worst part. Since the crickets were frozen, they had to be thawed out first, so they sat on the counter in a bowl all day. I kept staring at them and thinking about those legs and antennae getting caught in my teeth. 
 
Bowl of crickets
 
As the dinner hour approached, Rebecca started cookin' us up some crickets. I think seeing them sizzle in the pan made the freak-out factor even worse. 
 
Sizzling crickets
 
And then it was time.  
 
Time to eat crickets. 
 
Rebecca went first, gamely popping the first one in her mouth. She liked it enough that she quickly followed it up with a second one.
 
Rebecca eats cricket
 
So Kathleen was excited to try hers next. She said it tasted like bacon. She lied. 
 
And then it was my turn. See it for yourself.
 
 
Despite the expression on my regrettably makeup-free face, it really wasn’t that bad. It didn’t taste like bacon, but it was a mostly neutral taste. Rebecca had put salt and pepper on them and cooked them in butter, and that was pretty much all I tasted. I wasn’t a huge fan of the dry-ish crunch texture, but it was nowhere near as awful as I had imagined, since I had conjured sensations of prickly legs scratching my mouth.
 
Kami went next, and I didn’t get a video of her, but she added salt and lime like she was doing a tequila shot. Ha!
 
Kami eats cricket
 
After eating a cricket all by itself, it was no big deal to add them to our tacos, so we proceeded with dinner. Mixed up with all the other stuff, you couldn’t even tell they were there.
 
cricket taco
 
While I won’t be adding crickets to my regular meal rotation, it was definitely fun to step WAAAAAAAY outside my comfort zone to try them.
 
If you want to learn more about the benefits of eating bugs, click here for an interesting article.
 
15 Minute Tweet TalesAnd in honor of today’s adventures, this week’s 15 Minute Tweet Tales word is:
 
entomophagy - the practice of eating insects.
 
6/7 - She's thrilled when he cooks dinner for their first date. Then he reveals his fascination with entomophagy. She stares at plate in horror.
 
Play along and write a tweet tale for the above word. If you’re willing to share, post it on twitter with the hashtag #15tt or add it below in the comments because I’d love to read your tales. Any thoughts about this week's tweet tale or #15tt word?
 

Tweet Tales Tuesday Week 215

I spent five days this past week in the NC mountains on a writing retreat with my critique group the Sisukas: Kathleen Fox, Rebecca Petruck, and Kami Kinard. We had a great time, and got a lot accomplished. We critiqued two picture books and a YA novel, wrote a query, and brainstormed several new ideas. In addition to that, we ate a ton of yummy food, drank a lot of wine, and laughed up a storm. 
 
Sisukas at Mountain house
 
We took a break on Saturday to head into Blowing Rock to stretch our legs. We explored the area around the actual Blowing Rock, browsed in some cute shops, and had an incredible lunch of local food. We had an appetizer of eggplant frites that I’m still drooling over days later. 
 
Sisukas at Blowing Rock
 
It also snowed some of the time we were there. Enough to go out and make some smallish snowballs. If you’re a regular reader, you know how excited that made me
 
SNOW!
 
And now it’s time for this week’s 15 Minute Tweet Tales word:
 
15 Minute Tweet Taleswaldeinsamkeit - the feeling of being alone in the woods (peaceful, relaxed, at one with the universe), (German).
 
3/8 - She envies people who find peace walking in the woods. After last week she needs waldeinsamkeit, but every leaf rustle sets her on edge.
 
Play along and write a tweet tale for the above word. If you’re willing to share, post it on twitter with the hashtag #15tt or add it below in the comments because I’d love to read your tales. Any thoughts about this week's tweet tale or #15tt word?
 

Tweet Tales Tuesday Week 168

This was a weird week for my 15 Minute Tweet Tales. After I posted last week, I left for a writing retreat where there was no internet. So before I took off, I selected the #15tt words for the rest of the week and scheduled them to tweet each day; however, I didn’t actually write any advance tales because I ran out of time. So I ended up writing them all today, which was interesting. I got into a groove and definitely wrote them faster than usual, but I feel like they were pretty blah. Or maybe I just used up all my creative juices during the retreat.
 
Our Sisukas critique group met at my family’s lake house, and we had a delightful time. Here we are - Kami Kinard, Rebecca Petruck, me, and Kathleen Fox doing our best at snapping a selfie:
Sisukas at Lake
 
We spent time offering feedback on rough drafts, brainstorming new ideas, talking writing and publishing in general, eating, chatting, and occasionally actually writing. We also adopted one of the neighbor dogs for the day. Buster Brown was a big, goofy ball of love that kept us smiling.
Buster Brown
 
There was even a rainbow one afternoon, so that has to be good sign for our current projects, right?
Rainbow at Lake Retreat
 
And now here are my quickly cobbled-together tales:
 
4/8 – Everyone raves about his haute cuisine, but, suspicious, she digs through the trash and finds packaging for a microwave meal. Blackmail!
 
4/9 - Wanting to make sure everyone knows he's a busy man, the boss begins all pep talks in medias res. They just think he's a crappy boss.
 
4/10 - I smirk when she trips on stage. After the hell she inflicted on us during practices, it's karma that she's the one who ruins the show.
 
4/11 - The pain her ex caused is overwhelming, and she knows the only way to achieve lex talionis is to rip his heart out. With hedge clippers.
 
15 Minute Tweet Tales4/12 – With feathers in her hair and birds perched on her shoulders, people call her the raven maven - the crows speak their truth through her.
 
4/13 - The salesman grins when one of the nouveau riche walk in the dealership: just drop some names of old-money buyers and the sale is done.
 
4/14 - Her purse is an omnium-gatherum of items she thinks are essential. She never uses most, so their only function is weighing down shoulder.
 
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 or #15tt words?

Tweet Tales Tuesday Week 156

I’m super late with my 15 Minute Tweet Tales post today because I just got home from a lovely trip to Wilmington. My critique group, the Sisukas, got together for six days and five nights of wonderful conversations about books and writing (and TV shows and movies and dogs and hot guys and whatever else crossed our minds), delicious food, advice and feedback about our WIPs, and lots of quiet time for working. It was great to get away and recharge my creative batteries. I didn’t take many pictures, but here’s a silly selfie with Kathleen Fox and Rebecca Petruck and a partial shot of the cool place where we stayed. 
Wilmington Retreat with the Sisukas
Wilmington Condo
And here are my tweet tales:
 
1/14 - She invites him over to dinner. He turns on the charm. He's so getting lucky! Then she serves his nemesis: spaghetti. Damn slippery noodles!
 
1/15 - Her skill with a piping bag makes her cupcakes objets d'art. It brings in tons of business, but part of her soul dies with every bite.
 
1/16 - She's a gardener par excellence. People semi-joke her missing husband's body fertilizes the flowers. Not true. She'd fed it to the dogs.
 
1/17 - Whenever she asks when he'll be home, he says,"Que sera sera." Fed up, she packs bags, empties safe & leaves note: "This is what will be."
 

15 Minute Tweet Tales

1/18 - Jen and Vi battle to be school's Queen B, but when Ivy returns from Xmas break with a boob job, they reach a rapprochement to take her down.
 
1/19 - After Jen and Vi painted WHORE on her locker, schadenfreude flooded Ivy when the quarterback posted sex tapes he'd made with each of them.
 
1/20 - Wanting to be an easygoing wife, she agrees to a hot air balloon ride on their honeymoon. Then she cries until they reach terra firma.
 
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 or #15tt words?

YALLFest and Writing Friends

I can’t believe it’s already been a week since the start of my long Weekend of Writerly Wonderfulness – time really does fly when you’re having fun!
 
YALLFest was this past Saturday, and my critique group the Sisukas (Kathleen Fox, Rebecca Petruck, and Debra Rook) decided to turn the weekend into a writing retreat. We rented a house from Friday to Tuesday so we could cocoon in and concentrate on writing and giving feedback on our current projects.
Sisukas YALLFest Retreat 2013
The weekend kicked off on Friday night with a pre-YALLFest dinner with the Sisukas and other writer friends who were in town for YALLFest. It was an evening of great food and even better company, giving me the chance to catch up with old writer friends (Jillian Utley and Laura Moss) and to meet new ones (Jamie Hoffman and Jasmine Warga). It was so fun I hope to make it an annual pre-YALLFest tradition!
 
Bright and early Saturday morning was the actual big event. And when I say big, I mean BIG. First of all, check out the list of 50 kidlit authors on the panels, many of them New York Times Bestsellers – impressive. Then the turnout was huge this year – so big I wasn’t able to find writer friends in the crowd like I have done in the past. This is an awesome thing to see for Blue Bicycle Books, Charleston, and the YA writing/reading community. 
 
It’s both intimidating and inspiring to attend YALLFest. On the one hand, when I see the authors up on stage, they are so poised, clever, and funny that I don’t think I could ever be like them. But then they share stories of how they struggle with characters or setting or getting their butts in the chair, and I see that it’s hard work for them, too, which makes it all seem more attainable. I really appreciate all of them sharing their insight and wisdom.
 
A huge thanks to Jonathan Sanchez, Margaret Stohl, and all the others who worked so hard to put together this incredible festival that brings together so many readers and writers. Also, I did a guest post on Kami Kinard’s blog with some of the comments that resonated with me, so click here for more scoop from this year’s YALLFest
 
With my head and heart stuffed full of awesome YALLFest inspiration, it was time to get down to the working part of the weekend. We interspersed writing and critiquing, and I was super nervous waiting for my feedback. This was the first time that the rewrite I recently finished was getting comments from other writers, plus I really respect not only the writing talent of these ladies but also their knowledge of the business side of publishing and the YA audience, so my stomach was in knots when it was my turn.
 
Fortunately it went great! Not only great in that they really liked it and think it’s pretty close to query ready, but also in that they had great suggestions for some tweaks to strengthen it. I’m still waiting for feedback from a few other beta readers, plus I’m focusing on NaNo for the rest of November, but my plan is make changes in December to be ready to query in January. New Year’s Resolution indeed!
 
There was also a lot of writing accomplished during the retreat – all of us were hard at work on projects at various stages. Mine was my NaNo novel, which is off to a rocky start, but at least it’s now finally started!
 
Then to cap off everything, I had lunch with Martina Boone on Tuesday. I met Martina through her blog, and she was also in town for YALLFest and for some other book-related projects. Although slightly concerned about being murdered by a stranger I met on the internet (hooray for overactive imaginations!), I was delighted to discover that Martina is just as lovely in person as she is online. YALLFest is an awesome event in and of itself, but I think I love it most for giving me the chance to socialize in person with writing friends.
 
It really was a wonderful weekend of writing activities. Writing is hard work. Really hard work. But as we sat around at meals brainstorming, I watched people’s good ideas turn into great ones, and when I closed my eyes and listened to clicking keyboards as friends created worlds and characters as we wrote in front of the fireplace, well, in those moments it felt a little less like work and a lot more like magic.
 
Were you able to make it to YALLFest? What were your favorite parts? Do you find that writing retreats inspire you? Aren’t writing friends the best?!?
 
You can read about the first two YALLFests here and here.
 
Also check out the interviews I hosted with YALLFest authors:
Cinda Williams Chima                       Lauren Oliver
CJ Lyons                                          Sean Williams
Rainbow Rowell                                Ransom Riggs
Veronica Rossi                                  Kami Garcia
Melissa de la Cruz                             Shannon Hale
Lisi Harrison                                     Michelle Hodkin
Lisa McMann                                    Jocelyn Davies

Winner + Creativity Recharge

Thank you to everyone who entered the giveaway to win Kathleen Fox’s A Book Is Just Like You! It was interesting to see what books people choose to be – plus I learned about some new books I need to read now. And the lucky winner of the signed copy is . . . drumroll . . . Carol! Congratulations! I’ll send you an email to get your address.
 
In other news, I had a creatively energizing last two days at a mini writers’ confab. A few weeks ago I was invited to join the Sisukas, an amazing writing group made up of Kathleen Fox, Rebecca Petruck, and Debra Rook. They’ve been together a while now accomplishing wonderful things together, and when a spot opened up, I was honored and thrilled when they asked me to fill it.
 
Kathleen and I road-tripped it up to Wilmington, NC, where the four of us met for an intensive 24 hours of plotting and talking writing in general. And of course eating. Lots and lot of eating. Can’t have a gathering of writers without lots of yummy food (and wine!).

Sisukas

Not only was it a ton of fun, it was very productive, since we hashed out plotlines for several different novels. At the start of the trip, I only had the basics of a shiny new idea (not much more than a title), and with their help in brainstorming, I now have characters and plot points and a better handle on what this thing could look like. Now I just need to finish revising my current WIP so I can move on to the new and shiny!
 
The picture is Rebecca, Debra, Kathleen, and me on the steps of the courthouse where the opening of Matlock was filmed. 
 
Do you brainstorm your ideas with others or keep them close until you’re done writing? Do you get away with other writers to recharge your creative batteries? What would be the ideal place for a writers’ retreat?