The Writer's Voice Contest Entry

I was lucky enough to be randomly selected as one of the entries for The Writer's Voice contest, so I’m interrupting my regular blogging schedule to add my entry. Thank you to Krista Van Dolzer, Brenda Drake, Mónica Bustamante Wagner, Elizabeth Briggs, and their assistants for hosting such a fun contest! Here’s my entry:
 
QUERY
 
Dear Writer's Voice Judges,
 
When sixteen-year-old Brea stumbles upon a body in the woods, she can’t wait to tell the entire school – heck, the entire town – about her gruesome discovery. This time she has proof to back up one of her stories, so they can’t dismiss it as her overactive imagination. One problem: when she leads the police back to the body, it’s gone.
 
Now Brea’s reputation is completely destroyed, and the police refuse to believe there’s a killer on the loose. That’s okay, she’s watched a few CSI episodes, she'll just solve the murder herself. Decked out in yellow kitchen gloves, she searches the woods and finds evidence implicating Ryker, a classmate fresh out of juvie. The bad news? He now seems to be stalking her. Brea needs a way to investigate him with witnesses present, so she schemes to get him on her team for the annual video scavenger hunt.
 
Soon Brea, Ryker, and three other friends are performing cringeworthy tasks like modeling lingerie and juggling hemorrhoid cream. Despite her mission to expose a murderer, Brea starts to enjoy herself. After all, who would have guessed Ryker would look so adorable in a negligee? But when Brea and a teammate are almost killed, she realizes the murderer is using the hunt as a pretext to take out the entire team. With no idea who to trust, Brea must look past her embellished view of reality to uncover the truth that will save them all. 
 
THE DRAMA QUEEN WHO CRIED WOLF is a 77,000-word young adult mystery with series potential. The twists and turns pay homage to early Christopher Pike, while Brea's witty narration would make her fast friends with Veronica Mars.
 
THE DRAMA QUEEN WHO CRIED WOLF won the SCBWI 2013 Work-in-Progress Grant for Contemporary Novel for Young People. I am also one of the winners of the 2009 Highlights Fiction Contest and a 2008 South Carolina Fiction Project winner. Also, two of my screenplays won generous grants to produce them into award-winning short films. I’m also the Interview Coordinator for Adventures in YA Publishing, which has been a Writer's Digest 101 Best Websites for Writers for the past three years.
 
Thank you for your time,
Jocelyn Rish
 
 
FIRST 250
 
A white towel was a terrible outfit for trying to outrun a homicidal maniac. Although I had to admit, the woman racing through the dark forest made it look easy.
 
Until she tripped and crashed to the ground.
 
I leaned forward on the couch. “Get up! Get up!”
 
Instead of scrambling to her feet, she cowered in the leaves.
 
“Come on.” My fingers dug into the worn leather cushion. “At least grab a tree branch to defend yourself.”
 
But she only whimpered, “No, please, no,” while the killer stood over her adjusting his grip on the machete. Like begging was going to change his mind.
 
His blade whistled through the air. Thwack! Blood spurted. I grimaced and flopped back against my favorite seat in the house.
 
Something cold and wet touched my hand.
 
I yelped before my brain remembered the psycho couldn’t crawl through the TV screen to attack me. I glared at Maximus, my seventy-pound Frankenstein mutt taking up more than his fair share of the couch. “Holy crap, Max, are you trying to give me a heart attack?”
 
He chuffed in a way that sounded suspiciously like a yes and nosed my hand again.
 
“Really? You have to go out just when the movie’s getting exciting?”
 
Max blinked like he’d never do something so obnoxious. Then he barked at me.
 
I sighed, but before I could push myself off the couch, Max’s giant German Shepherd ears swiveled toward a sound that sent my heart into Riverdance mode: footsteps on the stairs.
 

Tweet Tales Tuesday Week 173

I had a fun weekend hanging out with my sister. On Saturday we enjoyed Black-Eyed Susans (the official drink of the Preakness), while watching the gorgeous horsies race on TV. I was so nervous something bad would happen with all the rain and slop, but thankfully they all made it safely across the finish line. 
Drinking Black-Eyed Susans
 
Then on Sunday we went to see Pitch Perfect 2. I loved the first one. I loved it so much I wrote two blog posts about writing pitches using quotes from the movie:
 
 
But as much as I loved it, I rolled my eyes when I heard there was going to be a sequel, figuring there was no way lightning would strike twice. But it was actually a lot of fun. It didn't quite have the magic of the first one, but there were plenty of laughs, lots of head-bobbing and toe-tapping, and I grinned like a maniac through the entire final competition. I'm already looking forward to getting the DVD, so I can watch the performances again and again. 
 
Hope y'all had a fun-filled weekend, too! And now here are my 15 Minute Tweet Tales for the week:
 
5/13 - With each bon mot he spouts at the party, his wife rolls her eyes. He'd spent hours researching and revising to appear spontaneously clever.
 
5/14 - They both cry as she pulls the trigger, but with no zombie cure available, a coup de grâce is the only way to save her husband's soul.
 
5/15 - His cries sound painful as they surge de profundis, but Mom's not ordering him pie. Patrons shoot them dirty looks; she gets him a piece.
 
5/16 - "I say this ex animo: you are horrible, and I hope you burn in hell." Sue blinked. She'd only told Ivy she liked her hair better long.
 
15 Minute Tweet Tales5/17 - Mom always nagged him to festina lente. Now he'd gotten three speeding tickets, arrived late anyway, and would have to admit she was right.
 
5/18 - The genius loci of the house caused most owners to move within weeks,but he found it peaceful. He was even smiling when they found his body.
 
5/19 - She prepares a romantic dinner; he shows up with friends. She finds some Cheetos to serve as hors d'oeuvres then dumps him after dessert.
 
What fun things did you get up to this weekend? 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 172

I hope everyone had a lovely Mother’s Day weekend! The Rish clan met up at my brother’s house for a yummy steak lunch. Which is funny, since two of my tweet tales this week mention steak – steak on the brain, I guess. Or actually steak in the stomach. Yum!
 
My mom seemed to like all her presents, but my favorite was a knitted bunny hat. She has always LOVED rabbits (at one point the Rish menagerie contained nine lop rabbits – so adorable!), so when I saw that a twitter friend knits bunny hats, I knew we had to get it for her, even if it never really gets cold enough in Charleston to need one. Here she is in her hat:
Bunny Hat
If you are interested in cute, quirky hats, check out Fun Knitted Hats. The quality is excellent, and the owner is so sweet and will work with you to get the best color combination. 
 
And now for my 15 Minute Tweet Tales:
 
5/6 - She kissed the par avion stamp to speed delivery to her husband at war. Three months later, the letter returned unopened, a brutal reminder.
 
5/7 - "Quo vadis?" he asked. This pompous man's need to control my every second added weight to his question. I didn't know, but away from him.
 
5/8 - He hands me one of his recherché chocolates like he's sharing secret of life. I chew with a grateful smile but actually prefer Hershey's.
 
5/9 - Boys flock to her 'I'm so helpless' shtick. Pretending to be incompetent makes her feel gross, but it's worth it to be popular. Right?


15 Minute Tweet Tales

5/10 - "Waddle your butt over here tout de suite!" The portly poodle's body language screams, "I was framed," but his breath smells like steak. 
 


5/11 - Cat vowed revenge on the one who'd made her life miserable. No, not Dog. The one who'd brought Dog into the house, videlicet the Human.
 
5/12 - Had it rained,she wouldn't have landed in jail. But it was sunny, so she ate alfresco, saw husband kiss another & attacked with steak knife.
 
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 171

15 Minute Tweet TalesIf you read last week’s post, you know my epic talent for procrastination left me with a whole lotta words to write in the last few days of Camp NaNoWriMo (pretty much half the novel). But I have always worked best with crazy deadlines, and I managed to hit my 35K goal with an entire hour and 15 minutes to spare before the midnight deadline. Madness, people, madness! 
 
I still needed a bit more to actually finish the story (a middle grade supernatural adventure), so I wrote for a few more hours until I was DONE done. It felt awesome. It’s been a while (a long while) since I wrote a new novel, so it was good to know I still have it in me.
 
Right now the writing is completely awful. Like squirmily embarrassingly awful. But that’s okay, I needed to get the story down, and I actually like a lot of the plot stuff. So I’ll set it aside for a while to marinate, and then I’ll eventually come back to see what is salvageable.
 
And now here are my 15 Minute Tweet Tales for the week:
 
4/29 - After boss gives his imprimatur on press release, she switches it for his sexy emails with CEO's wife. He shouldn't have stolen her idea.
 
4/30 - "J'accuse! "Sue says. Sister & husband freeze. "You're planning a surprise party for me." They laugh & agree that's what the whispers mean.
 
5/1 - A kulturkampf develops over kids' futures. Dad wants them to enlist; Mom wants them to enter seminary. Both appalled when they form a band.
 
5/2 - "Liebchen, come to Mommy." She keeps arms wide & voice calm tho desperate to dash in & grab her. Sudden movements might trigger an attack.
 
5/3 - She approaches him at the bar in mala fides - she'll make him pay for dumping her friend. But he's so charming, she ends up a dumpee, too.
 
5/4 - Her eyes would glaze when her cubemate talked about poisonous plants, now she wishes she'd listened to the nudnik as hunger grips her.
 
5/5 - Phone conversations with her Mom were exhausting. It was the tidbits delivered obiter dictum that told the real story of Dad's progress.
 
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 170

15 Minute Tweet TalesYikes, I have to write almost 17,000 words in three days to make my Camp NaNoWriMo goal, so I’m posting my 15 Minute Tweet Tales and jumping right back in this mess of a novel: 
 
4/22 - Tom finds Jim's old-fashioned billet-doux to Sue and passes out copies at school to embarrass him, but the girls fall for Jim instead.
 
4/23 - "This painting looks like you, but was painted circa 1820," he says. "Must've been an ancestor," she says, sinking her teeth in his neck.
 
4/24 - Ten years spent ignoring family and friends to write her novel. She types 'The End' then reads it. Deletes entire thing and starts de novo.
 
4/25 - The women Rob is cheating on find each other through Facebook stalking, and the esprit de corps is instant between them. All 23 of them.
 
4/26 - A zombie uprising is a force majeure she didn't plan for, but the walking dead are no match for a bridezilla. Brains served at reception.
 
4/27 - A tiny, yellow flower pushed through a crack in his cell floor. He crushed it with his heel. In this gulag, hope will only get him killed.
 
4/28 - She wanders the hinterland, the solitude easing her pain. One evening she meets a man doing the same. When they embrace, pain disappears.
 
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 169

15 Minute Tweet TalesI’m doing Camp NaNoWriMo this month to jumpstart an idea for a middle grade series I’ve been pondering for a while. I’m struggling with the MG tone, but I think the idea (which I’m super excited about) is a better fit for MG than YA, so I’m attempting to muddle through. But despite the retreat last week, it should come as no surprise to those who know me that I am yet again ridiculously behind on my word count. But nothing gets me working faster than a looming deadline, so I think I’ll make it . . . despite being 16,000 words behind. Oops! Wish me luck!
 
And now here are my 15 Minute Tweet Tales for the week:
 
4/15 - The number of fleas per capita makes her twitch. She can actually see them jumping. But she wades in to save the poor, neglected dogs.
 
4/16 - Which réchauffé is worse: dinner her husband 'made' or his whining men shouldn't have to cook? She flips her plate in his lap to end both.
 
4/17 - Her husband was such a schlemiel, she cringed when the nurse handed him their baby, but he possessed a special grace with his daughter.
 
4/18 - Jan's speech was a tour de force and should've won her the presidency, but Marsha bribed classmates to get it on her college application.
 
4/19 - When spacecraft arrives, vox populi demand immediate action, but world leaders argue about strategy. Meanwhile, aliens conquer Earth.
 
4/20 - She reads the news each day and weltschmerz crushes her. She realizes she's much happier when she spends that time bopping to 80s music.
 
4/21 - Her fiancé's vows go on ad infinitum. She needs him to hurry and make it official before the poison kicks in or she won't get the money.
 
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 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 167

15 Minute Tweet TalesI’m spending the rest of the week at a writing retreat with my critique group. There is no internet where we’re staying. I’ll either get a TON of writing done or I’ll spend the whole time curled up in a ball shaking with withdrawal. At this point I can see it going either way. Wish me luck!!
 
And now here are my 15 Minute Tweet Tales for the week:
 
4/1 - His roommate practiced same song ad nauseam. You'd think he'd improve. Wrong. You'd think that'd make it justifiable homicide. Also wrong.
 
4/2 - Ruth told friend about sweet boychik next door often stopping by to chat. But Fay knew the house was empty; family moved out after son died.
 
4/3 – Saw street vendor selling fancy purse his wife wanted but thought "caveat emptor" & left. Too bad, it was real. Stolen but real. And cheap.
 
4/4 - When ripped jeans became de rigueur at school,she took scissors to her new jeans. Her mom took a belt to her backside. Too poor for fashion.
 
4/5 - He walks in with ersatz girlfriend,and I go over to prove she'll never replace me. But we hit it off,and she dumps our BF so we can be BFFs.
 
4/6 - Mom laughs at her makeover. "You look like a fat clown. Bet you think you're a femme fatale." Using knife, she shows Mom she literally does.
 
4/7 - Schools wrecked, social networks destroyed, teen girls in catatonic states - the götterdämmerung of One Direction disbanding was epic.
 
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 166

15 Minute Tweet TalesI’m a little late getting today’s post up because I had lunch with a friend from high school. We couldn’t remember how long it’s been since we’ve seen each other, but we think it’s been about ten years. Jessica’s in town with her family, so we all had lunch together. It was fun meeting her three daughters – they are all mini Jessicas.
 
Jessica and I had a lot of the same classes, and since her last name was Reed and mine is Rish, I spent much of the four years of high school sitting behind her. And even though *mumble mumble* years have passed, it was like nothing had changed. We chattered away at about a hundred miles a minute, just like we used to do back then to earn dirty looks from our teachers. 
 
Such a fun day! But also one of those weird ones that makes you feel both young and old at the same time. 
 
And now it’s time for some 15 Minute Tweet Tales:
 
3/25 - Mom spills red wine on my new, white tablecloth, then starts digging through herpurse. "Oy vey, Mom, your Tide stain pen won't fix that!"
 
3/26 - When traveling he gorges on complimentary breakfast at hotel & then pockets per diem. Soon he'll be able to buy a new doll for his daughter.
 
3/27 - Her date stands and pulls out her chair. It's such a rara avis that she figures he's either 'the one' or, with her a luck, a serial killer.
 
3/28 - Her mom defected while pregnant to save them both. All she had to remember her dad was a bloodstained samizdat he'd died distributing.
 
3/29 - The silent phone mocks her, and she admits her son has forgotten weekly call again. She hugs his baby picture and whispers, "Tempus fugit."
 
3/30 - Mrs. Jones bans phones in her class. Timmy shows her picture he took of her with the married principal resulting in quick volte-face.
 
3/31 - With each year of working on novel, she gets further from wunderkind she'd planned to be. Now it must be perfect. Years continue to pass.
 
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 165

15 Minute Tweet TalesNow that Spring has officially sprung, it’s time for the onslaught of yellow pollen. Even though I knew it was an exercise in futility, I rinsed off my car over the weekend, and just two hours later, it was covered in a florescent yellow film. It’s actually kind of creepy how fast it blankets things. Makes me think of the movie The Happening. Hopefully the plants aren’t getting any nasty ideas. 
 
And now for my 15 Minute Tweet Tales for the past week:
 
3/18 - The cat struts through the house and swats the puppy on her nose. But puppy knows cat will soon regret his hubris. She's still growing.
 
3/19 - In usual seat at Oscars, she sniffles through in memoriam segment. Then sees her own face. Asks what's going on, but everyone ignores her.
 
3/20 - Her joie de vivre drives him crazy. Even when not around, her optimism scrapes his brain. He knows he'll only be happy when she's not.
 
3/21 - Date's kamikaze driving makes her yelp all the way home. She stomps inside and sinks into chair. Smiles as adrenaline sings though her.
 
3/22 - When she sees hot guy who's locum tenens while her doctor's sick, she says she has a cough, too embarrassed to tell him about hemorrhoids.
 
3/23 - Even as another wave of mal de mer hits her, she knows he's the one, since he keeps holding back her hair while stifling sympathy gags.
 
3/24 - Jema Rose is the nom de plume for his romance novels. One morning he finds a beauty at his computer writing. She smiles."Hi, I'm Jema."
 
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?