#PimpMyBio Post for #PitchWars

I’m going to cheat a bit with my #PitchWars #PimpMyBio post. For part of it, I'm recycling my job application for MTV to write about YA books. 1. I’m still in frantic revision mode, but I want to play! 2. I spent a lot of time on it, so it might as well get a second life. 3. It’s GIF-tastic!

Here it is:

Dear Fabulous Folks at MTV News,

I was excited when I saw MTV News is looking for a Freelance Books Writer. Very excited. And obviously the only way to deal with such excitement was to craft my application out of gifs from movies and TV shows based on YA novels.
 
The Lying Game
The Lying Game
 
My earliest memory of MTV is begging my mom to stay up until midnight for the historic premiere of the Michael Jackson Thriller video, and because my mom is awesome, she let me.  
 
Pretty Little Liars
Pretty Little Liars
 
From watching MJ’s thrilling masterpiece, to spending hours dancing and reenacting various videos with my friends, to getting sucked into reality TV with the groundbreaking launch of The Real World, to being ridiculously entertained by current scripted shows like Teen Wolf and Faking It, MTV has long been part of my television life. 
 
Having been around for the early MTV landmarks might make some of the current viewers think of me like this:
 
The Hunger Games
Catching Fire
 
But when it comes to my passion for YA novels, I really look like this:
 
The Hunger Games
Catching Fire
 
My love of YA started when I was an actual young adult reading Christopher Pike, L.J. Smith, Sweet Dreams, and Sweet Valley High. 
 
Inkheart
Inkheart
 
As I got older, I read adult books, but I returned again and again to the heart and emotional truth of YA. When I walk into the YA section of a bookstore and see the incredible variety of books available, I feel like this:
 
The Book Thief
The Book Thief
 
But just because I love YA novels doesn’t make me qualified for this position. So why do I think I’m a strong candidate? 
 
I worked at a software development company for ten years in the quality assurance department, where I tested the software, identified bugs, and wrote reports. I started as an entry-level tester and worked my way up to the manager of the team, and through the years learned many skills, especially how to meet insane deadlines.
 
While a lot of the time it was fun figuring out creative ways to break the software …
 
Gossip Girl
Gossip Girl
  
… after ten years in cubicle land, it began to feel more like this …
 
Warm Bodies
Warm Bodies
 
… so I decided it was time to run toward my real passion …
 
Eye Candy
Eye Candy
 
... writing for young adults!
 
The Vampire Diaries
The Vampire Diaries
 
I’ve taken classes through the Institute of Children’s Literature, participated in the Chautauqua Writers Workshop, and attended conferences through the Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators.
 
I’ve been fortunate to have short stories published in Highlights magazine and the Post and Courier. I also won the 2008 South Carolina Fiction Project, the 2009 Highlights Fiction contest, and the 2013 Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators novel work-in-progress grant. I even won two different grants to turn my short stories into short films: Saying Goodbye and High Heels & Hoodoo. All of these things made me feel like this:
 
The Perks of Being a Wallflower
The Perks of Being a Wallflower
 
It also reassured my parents I hadn’t ruined my life by chucking my ‘real’ job to be a writer.
 
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. Every Saturday and Sunday I post interviews with YA authors who released books that week from the major publishers. 
 
With my passion for YA, awards for writing, and contacts in publishing, I believe I would make an excellent Freelance Books Writer for MTV News. And if you were to hire me, I would definitely feel like this:
 
Harry Potter
Harry Potter
 
Thank you for your time and consideration,
 
Jocelyn Rish
 
 
So there it was.
 
The good news? MTV contacted me to write a sample article, and then a few days later, they hired me! 
 
I'm so excited
 
And then my first article was published called 13 Reasons Nancy Drew is a kick-ass 85-year-old teen.
 
And I was feeling pretty kick-ass myself. 
 
Feeling kickass
 
And every time they published another of my articles, I felt like this:
 
Bouncing
 
If you’re interested in reading any of them, you can check them out here
 
The bad news? This dream job only lasted six months before new management came in, decided YA books didn’t need to be covered by MTV, and let my boss go along with all his freelancers. 
 
I may have cried a single manly tear.
 
Dean crying
 
Just kidding! This is actually what I felt like. 
 
Crying waterfalls
 
You can read the whole sad story here if you want some drama in your life. Just kidding! There was no drama just a reasonable amount of angst. 
 
So if you’ve made it this far, you might be thinking, “You’ve had your fingers in a lot of YA pies, but … didn’t you submit a middle grade novel?”
 
Record scratch
(Since I can’t do sound effects, just imagine a record scratch sound as the turtle goes round and round.
 
Why, yes, yes, I did. And that’s the main reason I’m entering PitchWars again. I was beyond fortunate to be picked as an alternate by the AMAZE-BALLS Fiona McLaren in PW 2013 and as an alternate by the FABULOUS Jessie Humphries in PW 2014 with my YA novel. As a bonus of 2014, I became part of an incredible support group with the other mentees/alternates (love y’all!), who I interact with every day. So I kind of felt like I’d had my turn with PitchWars and didn’t plan to enter again. 
 
Then along came this MG idea. Honestly, I thought it was YA. I started plotting it as YA. Then my critique group said, “Nope, it must be MG!” I pouted. I resisted. I stamped my feet. I’m a YA girl, I know nothing about MG! For an entire year I put off writing it because I didn’t want to write it as MG. But then last April, I decided what the heck, I’ll toss off a quick rough draft of the idea as MG for Camp NaNo. So I did. And of course my critique group was right. And I love it as MG and want to hug it and squeeze it and make it the absolute best book it can be.
 
Hug
 
But the fact remains that I don’t know much about MG. I haven’t read very many MG novels (though I’m currently trying to fix that), and I haven’t immersed myself in the MG community like I have with YA. I need a mentor to guide me through this scary new world of MG, and the best way to do that is to throw my hat into the PitchWars ring one more time. 
 
 
If you’ve made it this far, hat’s off to you. And don’t worry, it’s not my head-chopping hat. As a reward, here’s a picture of my dogs. They’re the best. Well, all dogs are the best. But mine are THE best. 
Freya and Chloe
 
Thank you Brenda Drake for the awesomeness that is PitchWars, and thank you Lana Pattinson for hosting the #PimpMyBio blog hop! Check out the other entries here.
 

Tweet Tales Tuesday Week 236

15 Minute Tweet TalesAhhhhhhh! The Pitch Wars submission window opens tomorrow. It’s both exciting and a bit terrifying. And if you have a novel that’s almost ready to query, you should definitely submit. Since I still need to finish a few more revisions, I’m going to post my 15 Minute Tweet Tales story of the week and get back to work. Good luck if you’re entering!!!
 
clinomania - an excessive desire to remain in bed
 
8/2 - Her husband sprang out of bed each morning ready to attack the day, while she had major clinomania. The marriage didn't last very long.
 
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 235

15 Minute Tweet TalesI've been teaching writing at a camp/babysitting service this summer. There have been some really cool moments and fun days. Today was not one of those days. Which inspired my 15 Minute Tweet Tales story this week. While I'm not quite rocking in a corner (yet), I am counting down the sessions left. Three more. I think I can, I think I can ... Oh, who am I kidding? I'm totally going to be crying on the last day when I have to leave their sweet faces.
 
viridity - naive innocence; the quality or state of being green; the color of grass or foliage
 
7/26 - First day of school - her heart is full of hope for changing students' lives. They sense her viridity. A week later she rocks in a corner.
 
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 234

15 Minute Tweet TalesI’m revising a middle grade novel I wrote for Camp NaNo last year, and I’m on a tight deadline (which is a good thing for me!) because I’m going to enter it in this year’s Pitch Wars, which starts August 3rd. I was an alternate in both 2013 and 2014 with my YA novel, and it’s such an amazing contest. If you haven’t checked it out, here’s the link to everything you need to know
 
And now for today’s 15 Minute Tweet Tales word:
 
ultramarine - a vivid blue to purplish blue; beyond the sea; blue pigment made from powdered lapis lazuli.
 
Her mom freaked out when she walked downstairs with ultramarine hair for the family photo, but grandma told her she looked beautiful. #15tt
 
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 233

Despite my 15 Minute Tweet Tales story below, I did actually have to go outside today. It felt like this:
I'm melting...
 
So I’m just going to post the word and tale and get myself some ice water. Stay cool, y’all!
 
15 Minute Tweet Talesestivate - to spend the summer at a specific place or in a certain activity; to spend a hot, dry season in an inactive, dormant state, as certain reptiles, snails, insects, and small mammals.
 
7/12 - With temps hanging out around 103, I'm just gonna estivate inside. I'm only cracking the door to shoo the pups out to potty. #truestory
 
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 232

I hope everyone had a wonderful Fourth of July weekend! My family did our usual thing at the lake. There were hamburgers, hotdogs, corn on the cob, watermelon, plus tons of other food. The lake’s official fireworks show was on Saturday night, and we puttered out in the boat to watch the display from the water while patriotic music played. It was pretty fantastic. 
Fireworks
 
During the day, there was more playing with the dogs in the water. Since I know you can’t get enough pictures of them in their spiffy life jackets, here are some more adorable doggie pics:
 
Whoo hoo - let's go!
Three dogs jumping
 
I'm not sure what this expression is on Remy's face is, but it's cracking me up. 
Remy swimming
 
Go, Kali, go!!
Go Kali Go!
 
Bear says, "I can do that, too!"
Go Bear Go!
 
Now Bear is saying, "Oh no, what did I just do?!?"
Uh oh!
 
Remy waiting for the fireworks to start.
Remy waiting for fireworks
 
Freya has had more than enough pop pops and is now hiding in the bathtub - a place she HATES!
Scared Freya
 
15 Minute Tweet TalesAnd now for this week’s 15 Minute Tweet Tales word:
 
balter - to dance artlessly, usually without practiced form or skill, but always with great, contented enjoyment.
 
7/5 - The men sent over shots, ready for their evening entertainment. It always took a few before she baltered on the bar in her short skirt.
 
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 231

15 Minute Tweet TalesI wasn’t able to sleep last night. I had every remaining drop of energy sucked out of me by a roomful of unruly 6 -12 year olds. It’s dark, rainy, and thundering outside. I think I’ll just post my 15 Minute Tweet Tales word of the week and crawl into bed for a nap. *grumble, whine, moan, complain*
 
marcid - withered, wasted, decayed, rotten.
 
6/28 - Nurse Sue feels gratified as her patient grows stronger, never noticing herself grow marcid. Magic is foreign to this woman of science.
 
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 230

Not only was Sunday Father’s Day, it was also my mom’s birthday, so the whole family got together at the lake house to celebrate.
 
Rish family at the lake
 
It was also the first time both Remy (my brother’s dog) and Bear (my sister’s newest dog) visited the lake. My dogs Freya and Chloe stayed at my brother’s house because Bear doesn’t like them. He’s a meanie! But since he’s new-ish, we’re giving him space to get comfortable. 
 
Anyway, Joanna’s other dog Kali LOVES the lake and swimming, so she was more than happy to show the other kids how it’s done. There was a lot of dock diving, chasing tennis balls, and jockeying for position to be the first up the ramp. Because it gets a little rough and tumble between them out there, they wear life jackets, which also lets them swim longer because they don’t have to work as hard. Plus it makes them extra adorable!
 
Since I know you love adorable swimming (and boating!) dogs as much as I do, here’s a series of photos of the cutie patooties:

Flying Kali showing 'em how it's done.
Flying Kalie
 
Bear can fly, too!
Bear jumping
 
Remy using a bit more caution. 
Careful Remy
 
It's the dock dogs!
Dock dogs
 
Racing to the ramp!
Ramp racing
 
Trapped on a boat.
Dogs on a boat
 
The wind in our hair.
More dogs on a boat
 
Remy napping on me.
Remy napping on Jocelyn
 
 
15 Minute Tweet TalesAnd now that you’re on cuteness overload, here’s the 15 Minute Tweet Tales word for the week: 
 
gumusservi – moonlight shining on water (Turkish). 
 
6/21 - The path of the gumusservi led from his house to mine, but it was a trail we couldn't walk. Without a boat, we were separated forever.
 
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?
 
And here's a picture of gumusservi from this weekend:
gumusservi

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?