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How I Got My Job With MTV

MTV LogoI’ve been meaning to write this post for weeks, but I keep getting sidetracked. Since my first article for MTV was published almost two months ago, it’s a tad anticlimactic to post this now, but I did want to share how the job came about. Plus, I’m so proud of my application that I want to show it off!
Back in late July, my friend Jillian Utley sent a freelance job listing she'd run across to several of us who write YA. Here’s what the listing said:
MTV News is looking for a freelance writer focusing on Books!
We're looking for someone who knows their John Greens from their Rainbow Rowells, their Hunger Games from their Divergents, and is able to find the next 14-year-old writer who just launched her own novel, as well as freak out about the next installment of the "Maze Runner" series.
You should be knowledgeable about current books and nostalgia; able to do interviews, but also write fun lists and throwback articles that speak directly to the MTV audience of predominantly young, female readers.
Before applying, please take a look at MTV News to get a sense of the type of editorial - not just Books - that we're generating on the site. The MTV voice is fun, personal, and specific - no pitches of "5 YA Books You Should Read," please. We want to get a sense of you through your application, not just a resume, a list of credits, and pitches that could be online anywhere.
Note: this is not a full-time position. It is freelance, and will work remotely, though you'll work directly with our Entertainment Team in NYC.
I got butterflies in my stomach as I read it. How awesome would it be to write about YA books for MTV?!? It sounded like a dream job for me. 
But that tiny voice in my head full of doubt and insecurity immediately chimed in telling me I wasn’t qualified – I’d never done freelance writing before, I didn’t know enough about current YA books, it was a waste of time to try. So being a dummy, I admitted the voice was right and decided not to apply. 
But I couldn’t stop thinking about the job, it kept whirling round and round in my brain, so two days later I decided to go for it anyway. But what should my application look like? They didn’t want the normal resume and pitches, and when I started writing ‘interesting’ cover letters in my head, they were either boring or made me sound like a crazy person. As I looked at the articles on MTV, I realized most of them had gifs. And that’s when I realized an application told through gifs was the way to go and got busy. Scroll to the bottom to see the gif-tastic application I sent to MTV.
On August 1st, I got an email from an editor at MTV saying he liked my creative application and wanted me to do a writing test. He asked me to write an example article (topic of my choosing), plus submit five more pitches for additional articles. Both excitement and terror flowed through me as I read the email again and again. 
After I finished happy-dancing around the house, I got busy again. I didn’t really know what I was doing, and I’m a perfectionist, so it was a lot of work to finally get something ready to turn in. I pressed the send button with trembling fingers. 
Two days later, I was at my brother’s house with my family and doing that rude thing where you check your phone every five minutes for emails. And then, one of the times I checked, there was an email from the editor. HE OFFERED ME THE JOB!!!!
This is the photo of me trying not to cry with excitement as I show my family the email. I was beyond thrilled. 
Jocelyn Gets MTV Job
It’s been a lot of fun so far. Although it has been more work than I anticipated. Even though the articles are mostly fluffy fun, it’s still a lot of research to make sure I get things right. But I’m learning a lot as I go, and I’m finding a rhythm. Plus, finally getting paid for my writing is a pretty awesome feeling, and I can’t even explain how exciting it is to see my byline on the MTV website. 
If you’re interested, here are the articles I’ve written so far:
And now here’s my application for the job:
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. 
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. 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.
As part of the writer cliché, I have a blog where I sometimes talk about YA books and their authors. Examples posts are: 
In addition, I am 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. 
Example posts are: 
Now I’d like to share a few of my pitches for the MTV News site:
Howling for a YA Character – Two Teen Wolf cast members have already played characters from YA novels. Dylan O’Brien is playing Thomas in The Maze Runner movies, and Shelley Hennig played Diana Meade in The Secret Circle TV series. Which characters from YA novels were the other Teen Wolf actors born to play?
Then and Now – Some topics in YA novels are always popular, like vampires and the mean girl stealing your boyfriend. So if your mom liked reading a certain novel when she was a teen, which comparable novel should you be reading now?
Avenging YA – We know adults love to read YA as much as teens do, so which YA novels would the characters from The Avengers have sitting on their nightstand tables?
From Screen to Book – How twenty-year-old Paige McKenzie turned her successful YouTube series into the YA novel The Haunting of Sunshine Girl.
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

Good Times with Old Friends

When I say old friends, I don’t mean we’re elderly because obviously we’re still super hot young women. Yet despite the fact that we’re most definitely still spring chickens, we’ve somehow been friends for over twenty years. And this past weekend we got together for a reunion weekend. 
I’m talking about my three best friends from college: my roommate Nina, my sorority sister Dana, and Dana’s roommate Nikki who also happened to be sorority sisters with Nina. Yeah, it’s bit confusing, but further proof that we were destined to become The Four Duke Girls. 
We became The Four Duke Girls our junior year when we traveled to Australia for a semester abroad at the University of New South Wales. The four of us shared an awesome apartment one street back from Coogee Beach and took super easy classes like “Reading the Romance Novel” and “The History of Modern Olympics.” We traveled all over Australia and New Zealand together, met people from all over the world, and basically had a blast. 
Four Duke Girls at Sydney Opera House
This year was the 20th anniversary of our trip Down Under (holy crap! I can’t believe it’s been that long), so we got together at my family’s lake house to celebrate. Although we’d seen each other in various combinations over the years, it had been ten years since we’d all four been together. But you’d never know it from the weekend. Even though there were a lot of stories to share to get caught up on each other’s lives, it felt like old times. In fact, we said it felt kind of weird because of just how not weird it felt to all be together again.
We had scrapbooks and videos of our time in Oz, which often triggered memories that sent us into hysterical laughter. One day we were so busy talking that we kind of forgot to change out of our pajamas until 2:30. It was a super lazy weekend and so much fun. 
I’d planned to get a picture of the four of us, but we were so busy chatting that we never got around to it. But, honestly, we all pretty much look the same. I’m the only one who seems to have acquired grey hair and extra weight. 
Four Duke Girls with Kangaroo
I love these ladies, and this type of connecting with old friends is good for the soul. It reminds you of who you used to be, how far you’ve come, and what ‘childhood’ dreams are still within reach. I highly recommend it – pick up the phone and give those friends from your past a call!

Zombie Checklist

For the Blogging from A to Z Challenge, I’m having Fun with Fonts. Each day I’ll feature a few I like based on either the look of the font or its name. I’ll also pick a font to inspire one of my tweet tales

It’s here! It’s finally here! The last day of the A to Z challenge! Since I didn’t plan ahead (as usual!), I’ve been scrambling each day to write my posts, and now I’m ready to collapse into a heap and ignore my blog for at least a week.
For the past two years, Freya has displayed the letter Z, but my sister recently got a new dog, and I was finally able to get a picture of her this weekend with the letter whiteboard. So I’m honored to introduce my blog readers to the adorable Kali. She’s a bundle of energy, but a total sweetie who is getting along very well with all the other Rish canines. 
Kali with the letter Z
I’m disappointed to report that like with X and Y, it was pretty slim pickings on the font front for Z. I was hoping to go out with a bang and blow everyone away with an amazing font on the last day, but it looks like I’ll be crossing the finish line with more of a font-whimper.
The first one is Zacken, which I thought looked a bit like embroidery. I poked around the interwebs for a meaning for zacken. Google translate said it’s German for pink or serrate, and Bing translate said it’s German for jag. So I guess pink is like pinking shears rather than the color, which means the name zacken references the jagged edges of the letter blocks. 
Meanwhile, the letter blocks for Zallman are all about curved lines. I like the simple floral pattern – it makes it fancy without being overwhelmingly busy. The weird thing is, when you click on the link to see all the available letters, it says, “Sorry, no ‘X’” and the same for ‘Y’. I can maybe see skipping making an ‘X’ since it is used so rarely, but the letter ‘Y’ gets used relatively often. Seems like lazy font design to me.
Speaking of lazy font design, I had to include this one since it looks like someone just scrawled out some letters, scribbled some sloppy zigzags around it, and voilà – a new font called Zigzag Displays.
Zigzag Displays
Zebraesq is all in the name because it does indeed look zebraesque – not full zebra, just partially resembling a zebra. 
The tweet tale inspiration for today is Zombie Checklist. It’s another one that I picked for the name rather than the font itself, but it does look like letters dashed off with a marker during the chaos of a zombie apocalypse.
Zombie Checklist
Since crawling out of his grave, George has found it tough to remember things, so he consults his To Do list:
1. Brains
2. Brains
3. Brains
And with that, I am DONE with the A to Z challenge – whoo hoo! Thank you so much to those of you who have been stopping by to see the fun fonts. I’ve enjoyed getting to know all of you better over the past month! 
What do you think of these fonts? Do they inspire any stories in your mind? How Zany is Kali with her letter Z?

Year Supply Of Fairy Cakes

Bailey with the letter YFor the Blogging from A to Z Challenge, I’m having Fun with Fonts. Each day I’ll feature a few I like based on either the look of the font or its name. I’ll also pick a font to inspire one of my tweet tales

After there were a surprising number of X fonts, I wasn’t expecting to have trouble with Y, but there actually weren’t that many to choose from – a few more than X, but not many more. And most of them looked very similar to fonts I’d already featured, so it was tough to find unique ones to share. Although I’ve featured several with curlicues already, I really liked the curls and swirls in You Are Precious. I can see it being used in a story about fairies or princesses for young kids. 
You Are Precious
On the opposite end of the swirly spectrum is Y-Grid with its very precise framework. 
You Rook Marbelous made me giggle because of the name. And then the design really does look like marble. If you are too young to get the reference to the Billy Crystal character, here’s a clip to help:

You Rook Marbelous
I’m not really sure what the name You Are The One has to do with the letters being partially formed by up and down arrows, but it looked different from others I’d shared, so it made the list. 
You Are The One
Today’s tweet tale inspiration is Year Supply Of Fairy Cakes. I totally picked this one for the name because the font is extremely generic. When I picked it, I did think fairy cakes were some special baked goods used to lure fairies out of the forest, but a quick chat with my friend Mr. Google informed me fairy cakes are actually smaller versions of cupcakes very popular in the UK. That was kind of a letdown, but I used the disappointment to inspire my tale.
Year Supply of Fairy Cakes
After winning fairy cake contest,Suzy sat in woods with jar ready to catch new friends. Her mom didn’t have the heart to tell her the truth.
What do you think of these fonts? Do they inspire any stories in your mind? How Yippy is Bailey with her letter Y?

Xerox Malfunction

Chloe with the letter XFor the Blogging from A to Z Challenge, I’m having Fun with Fonts. Each day I’ll feature a few I like based on either the look of the font or its name. I’ll also pick a font to inspire one of my tweet tales

It has arrived – the worst day of the A to Z challenge – X day. *cue screaming and pulling of hair* On the good news front, the font website had more X fonts that I was expecting, almost 60 of them. But the bad news is most of them were pretty blah. But I did find a few I thought were fun to share. First up is Xtrusion. There have been many 3D fonts along the way, but most of them have been angular and blocky. I like how this one is all curves and rounded edges.
And then we have the complete opposite with Xacto Blade, all straight lines and odd angles to form letters as if cut with the short blade.
Xacto Blade
It’s probably too warm to be thinking about Christmas, but I still thought Xmas Lights was cool.
Xmas Lights
I can’t imagine actually using X-Cryption for anything, but I just love it because it’s another example of how our brains are able to interpret words made out of almost anything approximating our usual letters. 
Xerox Malfunction reminds me a bit of Cheap Ink Killed My Printer, it's just a different type of word-producing error. It’s also my tweet tale inspiration for today.
Xerox Malfunction
“I want to do it while being xeroxed,” hot boss slurs in his ear at company party. But machine won’t turn on, so she staggers off in a huff.
What do you think of these fonts? Do they inspire any stories in your mind? How eXited is Chloe with her letter X?  (Actually I’m not sure what kind of eXpression that is on her face!)

Wolf In The City

Molly with the letter WFor the Blogging from A to Z Challenge, I’m having Fun with Fonts. Each day I’ll feature a few I like based on either the look of the font or its name. I’ll also pick a font to inspire one of my tweet tales

The first font is Wiggles, which is one of those things that is simultaneously cute and creepy. As I recoil from the screen thinking, “Gross! Worms!” I’m also like, “Aww, look at those cuddly faces.” I’m always impressed by artists who can make me feel such contrasting emotions with one drawing. The really weird thing is that there are actually TWO cute yet creepy worm fonts. I’m not sure what that’s all about. I’m only featuring Wiggles, but you can also check out Worm Beeline
I liked Wedgie because it’s made out of, ya know, wedges. Although it would have been hilarious if it had been made out of tightie whitie underwear. 
Water Park is fun with the letters looking like blobs of water, although it actually looks more like blobs of oil to me.
Water Aprk
I can picture Wildwood on the cover/poster for a fairy tale or a story about the fae set in a magical forest. It's very cool.
Teen Wolf posterThe name Wolf In The City inspired my tweet tale, but the font itself surprised me. I was expecting something rough or primitive, but instead it’s fairly feminine. Then I found the movie poster for the original Teen Wolf, and I see the font very similar. I don’t know if that’s the actual inspiration, but I thought I’d share. 
Wolf In The City
The asphalt bit his feet, the smog choked
his lungs, but after spotting Red in his woods, he’d go anywhere to find her. She was his destiny.
What do you think of these fonts? Do they inspire any stories in your mind? How Wonderful is Molly with her letter W?

Voodoo Dolls

Lily with the letter VFor the Blogging from A to Z Challenge, I’m having Fun with Fonts. Each day I’ll feature a few I like based on either the look of the font or its name. I’ll also pick a font to inspire one of my tweet tales

Although I’ve already featured a blood-dripping-down-the-wall font, I knew as soon as I saw it that I had to include Vampyrish ABC. Not because of the design (although the bat is a nice touch, it’s still a pretty average horror font) but because of the name. Now I know it’s supposed to be pronounced vam-pire-ish, but to my eyes it's totally Vampy Rish. Y'all, it’s a font named after me because I’m a vampy Rish! Okay, I’m actually pretty much the opposite of vampy, but it’s still fun. And Vampy Rish is now the new name of my alter ego who is brave, bold, and doesn’t care what other people think.
Vampyrish ABC
I think it’s nifty that even though the letters are on their side with Vertigo it’s still extremely easy to read. The brain rocks.
Now Vaticanian Initials is harder to read, but I really like the fancy look of the letters. Clink on the name link to see the details in the larger version. 
Vaticanian Initials
While scrolling through the fonts, I’ve seen several in the style of graffiti tags, but most of them were difficult to decipher. VTKS Street Vision has the look of a tag while maintaining readability.
VTKS Street Vision
One of my favorite short films is Sebastian’s Voodoo (I even wrote about it for an A to Z post my first year), so of course the font inspiration for today’s tweet tale is Voodoo Dolls
Voodoo Dolls
Rob collapses on stage as he accepts the award.Sue tucks the doll away w/ a smile.He’d taken credit for her project;he got what he deserved.
What do you think of these fonts? Do they inspire any stories in your mind? How Vivacious is Lily with her letter V?

Under The Bed

Freya with the letter UFor the Blogging from A to Z Challenge, I’m having Fun with Fonts. Each day I’ll feature a few I like based on either the look of the font or its name. I’ll also pick a font to inspire one of my tweet tales

We had slim pickings for the letter U, but I managed to find five I thought were interesting to share. The first up is Unger Fraktur Zierbuchstaben. Yeah, that’s a mouthful. And looking at it, the font itself is even busier than the name. It’s one of those that has fancified itself so much that it’s almost unreadable. I did some quick googling of the name and learned that Fraktur is a calligraphic version of the alphabet where the lines are broken up (and Fraktur derives from the Latin of fractus meaning broken). And then google translate told me Zierbuchstaben means swashes. I’m not really sure how all that applies to the font, but I thought I’d share anyway. And you might want to click the name link to see the details of the larger version. 
Unger Fraktur Zierbuchstaben
I liked how Urban Jungle has the silhouette of a city at the bottom of the letters and kind of a grungy look for the top. 
Urban Jungle
Next up is Unicorn Regular. Not much to comment on except there was no way I was passing up a font called UNICORN!
Unicorn Regular
There have been several different patriotic fonts, with various configurations of stars and stripes, but United gives the best feel of the US flag. 
And for my tweet tale inspiration, I’ve picked Under The Bed. I’ve long been a believer that if you have enough blankets piled on top of you, then no midnight monster can get you. However, that doesn’t stop my imagination from going crazy at every sound. So this font pretty much looks like how my brain feels when I hear a rustle or creak in the night.
Under The Bed
“It’s just my imagination,”Timmy chants again & again,blankets clutched to his chin. But when the dog leaps up whimpering,he knows it’s not.
What do you think of these fonts? Do they inspire any stories in your mind? How Upside-down is Freya with her letter U?

Tango Macabre

Bailey with the letter TFor the Blogging from A to Z Challenge, I’m having Fun with Fonts. Each day I’ll feature a few I like based on either the look of the font or its name. I’ll also pick a font to inspire one of my tweet tales

Oh man, how much did I used to love playing Tetris? I was completely mesmerized by those brightly colored falling pieces, and I loved the music. I’d play for hours and hours and hours. In fact, if I had applied all those hours to something productive, like writing the great American novel or curing cancer, I’d probably be famous by now. But I do justify all those hours playing by claiming it helped keep my spatial abilities and hand-eye coordination sharp. Anyway, obviously I loved the Tetricide font the second I saw it.
As I’ve scrolled through the fonts, there have been many versions of Runic ones. But most of them were so authentic (I guess?) that I couldn’t read them. I like The Roman Runes Alliance because it gives the feel of runes, while still being readable in English. I think it would be great for the appropriate book cover or movie poster.
The Roman Runes Alliance
I suppose Three Dee Two Beta is kind of a mix between Letter Builder and Qbicle in that it’s an optical illusion with a 3D sculpture-ish construction, but I found it fascinating enough to include despite its similarities to the other two I’d featured. Depending on how you focus your eyes, the letter on the left appears to be the closest or the letter on the right appears to be in front. It’s very cool - click the name link to see it bigger for a better effect.
Three Dee Two Beta
Not that I’ve had a reason to do this so far, but if I ever need to create a map or anything pirate related, I am so using the Treasure Map Deadhand font.
Treasure Map Deadhand
While I have already featured a font with Cartoon Bones, I was inspired to write today’s tweet tale from Tango Macabre. Letters formed from entire skeletons was too freaky to pass up.
Tango Macabre
Strange clicking draws me out of bed.Passionate music swells as I creep downstairs.My parents dance just like before they died…20 years ago.
What do you think of these fonts? Do they inspire any stories in your mind? How Tuckered out is Bailey with her letter T? 

Santa's Big Secret

Chloe with the letter SFor the Blogging from A to Z Challenge, I’m having Fun with Fonts. Each day I’ll feature a few I like based on either the look of the font or its name. I’ll also pick a font to inspire one of my tweet tales

It’s not surprising since S is such a common letter, but there were more S fonts to choose from than any letter so far. It was a little overwhelming scrolling through them. Unfortunately, with all those choices, there weren’t very many that caught my eye. Usually, it takes me forever to narrow them down to five, but this time I felt like I was struggling to find five that were fun to share. But I finally got there!
The Stencil Bricks font brings back memories of all kinds of school projects, but especially science fair projects. My science fair years were way back in the dark ages before everyone had fancy printers to spit out snazzy captions in seconds, so I had to use stencils and brightly colored markers to label my project boards. And since I was a procrastinator even way back then, I vividly remember several middle of the night panics as the stencil slipped smearing ink across my poster board and then crying as I tore through the closet hoping there was a blank piece somewhere. My poor, patient mom. 
Stencil Bricks
I think the Space Age font looks very space-y – definitely the name tells you exactly what you’re getting.
Space Age
Whereas the name Scary Monsters makes me laugh – they are anything but scary. They should have been filed under A for Adorable or G for Goofy. But it’s a fun font no matter what you call it.
Scary Monsters
I like how the Sweet Heart font is determined to make every letter formed from a heart, even those straight angle letters where it really doesn’t make any sense.
Sweet Heart
My tweet tale today is inspired by Santas Big Secret. With all those curlicues, I’d definitely believe it was written by elves.
Santas Big Secret
Deciding to tell Tim the truth about Santa, him mom asks,“Do you know Santa’s big secret?” “Yes,he likes kissing Ms. Lexi next door.” Uh oh.
What do you think of these fonts? Do they inspire any stories in your mind? How Sweetly Sleepy is Chloe with her S?