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Flash Competition + Tweet Tales Tuesday Week 88

NYC MidnightThis weekend I participated in the NYC Madness Flash Fiction Challenge, where you have 48 hours to write a 1000 word short story for an assigned genre/location/object. My group got ghost story/a coffee shop/a light bulb. At first I was super excited because ghost story is right up my alley – the one time I was assigned the ‘open’ genre, I actually wrote a ghost story (which eventually became my short film High Heels & Hoodoo). 
But as soon as I started brainstorming ideas, my enthusiasm waned – everything felt so cliché or like it was going to be the same as everyone else’s story. I mean, that light bulb was going to be flickering in all of them, right? And it was either going to be a barista serving a customer who was actually a ghost or a customer being served by a barista who was actually a ghost. Eventually I came up with something I hoped at least started the story in a slightly original way and was also a fun kind of meta (the protagonist had to submit a short story for a competition’s midnight deadline, but her internet went down, so she was parked outside a coffee shop for wifi).
By the double halfway point (500 words in at 11:30pm Saturday night), I finally admitted I hated my story with the heat of a thousand suns. It was stupid and, worse, boring. I briefly attempted to fix it by rewriting it in the style of Edgar Allan Poe, but soon realized unless the judges got what I was doing, they were just going to think I was a terrible writer (so many adverbs, adjectives, and repeated words!). 
As I was pulling out my hair in writerly despair, a new idea revolving around format popped into my desperate brain. I was intrigued but wasn’t sure I could make it work. I spent the next hour thinking and pondering (it might have looked like I was napping, but I was working, I swear) until I had a plan, and then I was off! By 5:30am, I had a rough draft. I finally grabbed some zzz’s and then spent Sunday afternoon rewriting it several times. I managed to turn it in five minutes before the midnight deadline on Sunday night. Whew!
It’s not one of my finer efforts, but it’s not the shame-inducing mess of words that was my first attempt. The big format risk is that the entire thing is an online chat, with a few tweets thrown in at the end. So if the judges don’t spend time hanging out online, they might not understand what I was doing, and I’ll be completely screwed. Plus, since it all happens online, they might decide I didn’t meet the coffee shop location requirement. We’ll see, but regardless, it was fun to stretch myself with something new.
Here's my title and synopsis: A Spirited Chat - Kerri meets an exciting guy online, but he might be seeking more than she's willing to give.
15 Minute Tweet TalesAnd now for my awkward segue… NYC Midnight is the group that originally introduced me to twitter fiction, so here are my 15 Minute Tweet Tales for the week:
9/18 - She wants to play Dad's favorite song at his funeral. When the palinoia makes her fingers bleed, she's ready - she slips him the cyanide.
9/19 - At fist day roll call, she sighs at a name. Had his four hellion brothers, so it's ineluctable he'd be in her class. He hurls a spitball.
9/20 - Dr. More's wife had a jugal jut that caused people to call her exotic. Accurate, since he created her in a lab by splicing cat and human.
9/21 - Never one for birthdays, he celebrates his 38th with a perfervid energy that baffles his friends. Six months later cancer claims him.
9/22 - While the crepuscular lighting in the room is appropriately symbolic, Jane wants to feel the sun on her face when it's her turn to die.
9/23 - She recites his evil acts seriatim. Tied up, defiant, he says, "If you'd been this focused on housework, U wouldn't have needed discipline."
9/24 - Since his cube-mate has been hurt before, he plans a proreption to win her heart. But she thinks he's gay and starts dating Stan from HR.
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?

#writemotivation Wrap-up


Well, I'm not sure how it happened, but August has now come and gone. My friends have all posted their kids' back-to-school pictures, the light outside has taken on that golden autumn hue, and my TV is bombarding me with commercials for the new fall shows. Since August is over, that means another #writemotivation month is now finished, and it also means my wrap-up is already five days late.
My only goal for the month was to FINALLY finish my WIP. Unfortunately, I didn't quite make it. When the month started, I thought it was mostly small-time stuff left: tweaking awkward phrasing, fixing logic issues, cleaning up sloppiness. Turns out I vastly underestimated the ripple effect of the major changes I made when I completely rewrote the first half. But even though I wasn't expecting it, it's not a bad thing. I've been layering in the deeper characterizations I established in the first half, and it's been pretty awesome watching the back half improve right before my eyes.
And while I didn't finish, with the push from #writemotivation, I rewrote more in August than I typically manage at my usual glacial pace. And if I can maintain the new pace, I should be completely done in two weeks. Whoo hoo! I didn’t officially sign up for #writemotivation for September, but I’ll be with everyone in spirit.
I will confess that I blew off the last three days of August. Instead of pushing toward my goal line, I left my computer at home for a family Labor Day weekend at the lake. The weather was perfect for swimming and we had lots of yummy food. And if nothing else, it was completely worth it for this picture:
Crazy Chloe
You know that in her head, Chloe thinks she looks like this:

It's All in the Timing

But to everyone else, she looks like this: 

great white breach

And for the next two weeks, I'm going to look like ferocious Chloe as I attack my goal and finally finish this rewrite!

Now I don’t want to end with everyone thinking Chloe is scary, so here’s a picture of her being her usual sweet self:

Chloe Kiss
Or maybe she’s just giving me a taste test before chomping off my face.
How did your goals go for August? What are your new goals for September? Chloe: graceful lady or scary beast? 
#writemotivation image courtesy of Hugh Lee and licensed under CC BY-SA 2.0.
Water Chloe image courtesy of Joanna Rish
Hair flip image courtesy of Andy Beal
Shark image courtesy of Mike Davison
Kissing Chloe image courtesy of Joanna Rish

Jumping Back on the #writemotivation Train

#writemotivationI was around for the early days of #writemotivation and met so many wonderful people through it, but I eventually drifted away because of my own failings. Month after month I set the same goal: finish rewriting my WIP. And then month after month I spent more time making excuses about why I wasn’t getting it done than, you know, actually doing it. 
Here were all these kind and generous people cheering me on and instead of employing some self-discipline, I was constantly distracted by new and shiny things. It made me feel guilty that they were wasting their enthusiasm on me, so I slunk away like a coward so I wouldn’t have to ‘look them in the eyes’ and admit that procrastination was getting the better of me. 
But I’m back!!!!
In that time away, I’ve actually made some really solid progress on my WIP. It’s been super slow, but I’m really happy with the changes I’ve made to my novel. This week I passed the halfway point, and even though it’s taken me almost a year to reach it, I’m going to be super bold and make just one goal for this month:
Really and truly, no take backs this time, finally finish the rewrite of The Drama Queen Who Cried Wolf.
Considering my progress up until now, that might seem a bit crazy, but I have two reasons I think I can really push myself this August.
1. The first half was the part that really needed help, as in ‘completely sliced and diced it and wrote a bunch of new chapters from scratch’ help. The second half only needs some tweaking and tightening, so the going should be much faster. 
2. If you didn’t see my announcement last week, I just won the SCBWI WIP grant for contemporary novel (Whoo hoo! And, yes, I will be looking for a way to fit that exciting news into all my posts for the rest of the year!). This is the type of honor that can open doors, but only if I’m ready to walk through them, and unfortunately I’m still standing on the sidewalk. So I have more drive than ever to finish the rewrite ASAP so I don’t miss any potential opportunities. 
It’s going to be a tough month for me as I force my nose to the grindstone even when the TV or video games or twitter or my doggies beckon me. But it feels different this time – I really believe I can do it. And I’m looking forward to cheering everyone on knowing we’re all on this crazy ride together.
Are you participating in #writemotivation this time? Have you participated in the past? What methods do you use to keep your butt in the chair when distractions call your name?
Also, I’m giving away a signed copy of Megan Shepherd’s gothic thriller The Madman’s Daughter, so make sure to enter here.
Image courtesy of Hugh Lee and licensed under CC BY-SA 2.0.

Phone Calls Good, Emails Bad

During the first part of this year, I entered a bunch of contests covering the different types of storytelling I enjoy: film festivals, a script competition, short story contests, and various programs based on the first chapter of my novel. In some strange convergence of cosmic coincidence, all those contests notified their entrants this past week. Email after email landed in my inbox: We’re sorry to inform you, but . . . . It got to the point where I was doing a Pavlovian cringe each time my email dinged with a new message, dreading the next rejection.
But in the middle of all that, I got a phone call. An amazing phone call. The best phone call of my writing life to date. Possibly the best phone call of my life period (although some of those calls from boys in high school were pretty darn exciting).
It was SCBWI calling to tell me I’d won their Work-In-Progress Grant for Contemporary Novel for Young People.
Now that’s a mouthful to say, so let me break it down for you: SQUUUUUUUUEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEE!!!!!!!!!
Ahem, what I actually meant to say is that SCBWI stands for Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators, and every year they award a number of grants to help writers and illustrators complete a specific project in order ‘to encourage continuing excellence in the creation of children’s literature.’ And based on the first chapter and synopsis of my WIP, they picked my novel!! It’s currently called The Drama Queen Who Cried Wolf, although its previous title was The Hunt.
I couldn’t believe it. I think I asked versions of “Are you serious?” and “Are you kidding me?” at least four times before it finally sunk in. And then this happened:
Kristen Bell's reaction to a sloth
I turned into a ridiculously happy, sobbing mess. I’m not even sure what happened during the rest of the phone call. Immediately afterwards I tried to tell my parents, but I was crying so hard they thought someone had died.
Pretty quickly, though, the tears turned into this:
Kermit the Frog flailing
It’s been over a week since I found out, and I still have to restrain myself from running around the house flailing my arms when I think about it. I couldn’t share the news publically until the official announcement from SCBWI, but it’s now officially official: click here to see that I didn’t imagine it.
I’m actually relieved to see it in black and white – a part of me was worried it was a fever dream or a trick of my overactive imagination brought on by too many rejections. Another thing that made it feel amazingly real? The check arriving in the mail:
Jocelyn with check from SCBWI
I can’t thank SCBWI enough for organizing such fantastic grant program – huge cheers to everyone involved. And I’m so grateful to the judges who saw promise in my project and selected me. It’s been a wonderful boost to my writing confidence at a point when I really needed it. Also, I’m sending giant-crushing-thank-you hugs to everyone who has advised and supported me through the endless honing, revising, and tweaking of my first chapter – it made all the difference. Thank you!
And now I’m off to plan my Caribbean vacation. I’m kidding! Maybe. 

Fun with Contronyms

I've recently become obsessed with contronyms, so much so that I've picked it to be my theme for the Blogging from A to Z challenge. Before the challenge starts, I thought I'd share some of what I've learned about them.

The simple definition for contronym is a word with multiple meanings that are the opposite of each other. The intended meaning is usually made clear by the context of the sentence.
To throw some fancier words around, a contronym is a word that has a homograph that is also its antonym. Homographs are words with the same spelling but different meanings, and antonyms are words with opposite meanings; so with a controym, you get two semantic occurrences for the price of one.
Jack Herring coined the phrase contronym in 1962, although two years before, Joseph T. Shipley named the same phenomenon auto-antonym (sometimes spelled autantonym), which means the word is a self-antonym.  
Janus and contronymsAnother common term for these quirky words is Janus words. Janus was the Roman god of beginnings and endings and is usually shown having two faces - one looking to the future and one to the past. Since Janus is always looking in opposite directions at the same time, his name really fits these words that have opposite meanings.
Other terms for these types of words are antagonym, enantiodrome, antilogy, and sometimes contranym is used as an alternate spelling for contronym.  Since contronym is the first term I learned for these fun words, that's the one I'm going to use.
At first I thought English was the only language weird enough to do something so ridiculous as have the same word mean two completely opposite things (and then come up with several different terms to describe the illogical phenomenon!), but wikipedia indicates several other languages participate in this confusing practice. You can read more details here.
A common example of a contronym is bolt which can mean to secure (bolt the shelf to the wall) or to run away (the horse bolted from the barn). And anyone who read Amelia Bedelia as kid knows how confusing a contronym can be from the infamous dusting scene, since dust can mean to remove fine particles (dust the furniture) or add fine particles (dust sugar on the cake). 
Throughout the month of April, I'll present alphabetical examples of contronyms for the A to Z challenge, so I hope you'll stop by to see how weird and wonderful our language can be.
Have you heard of contronyms before? How about any of the other terms used for the phenomenon? Are you ready for the start of the A to Z challenge?

Crossing All My Digits

I tell you, it’s kind of hard to type with all my fingers crossed, but I’ll give it a shot because I need all the luck I can get. My toes, arms, and legs are crossed, too. I’m even thinking about braiding my hair so the strands are crossed. Why do I need all this luck? Because I’ve gone contest crazy!

The big one is that I entered the Amazon Breakthrough Novel Award (ABNA) again in January. I’ve had a rocky road with this contest, and if you want to know the details you can read this post and this post. But the short version goes like this:
1st time – booted in the first round (based on just the pitch).
2nd time – made it to the quarterfinals (based on excerpt) and got a great Publisher’s Weekly review (based on entire novel).
3rd time - booted in the first round (based on just the pitch).
4th time – made it to the quarterfinals (based on excerpt) and got a devastating Publisher’s Weekly review (based on entire novel).
ABNAAfter trying so many times with the same novel, I wasn’t going to enter again; but in December, I decided the January deadline was just what I needed as motivation to finish the rewrite. I was finally able to focus and do some major revising that I’m really happy with. Unfortunately, I wasn’t able to finish rewriting the entire thing by the deadline, but I did transform the first third, which all my beta readers have agreed was the weak part in the original. 
In mid-February, I was excited to find out I’d made it past the pitch stage. Even though I used the exact same pitch that got me through last year, I was nervous because I never seemed to get picked during odd years. I was now one of 2,000 picked from 10,000 pitches anxiously waiting while our excerpts (the first two chapters) were read. I’d made major changes to these two chapters since the previous times I’d make it through, and this was the first time the new version was being read by strangers, so my stomach was in knots. They announced this past Tuesday – 2,000 were whittled down to 500 (100 of those YA ) – and I made it!! I’m a quarterfinalist again, and it seems like the rewrite didn't make the first two chapters worse. Whew!
Customer reviews don’t have any bearing on the contest at this point, but if you’re interested in reading the new first two chapters of THE DRAMA QUEEN WHO CRIED WOLF, you can get it here for free from Amazon. You don’t have to have a Kindle, since they offer lots of other ways to read it. And if you do have feedback for me (either positive or negative), you can either leave a review or send me an email. I’m trying to make these opening chapters the absolute best they can be.
And now it’s waiting time again as Publisher’s Weekly reads the entire novel. Gulp! Although I’d love to make the semifinals, only FIVE of the 100 quarterfinal YA novels are moving on, and as much as I love my silly little novel, I know it’s not the type of book that wins these awards. So I’m basically just hoping for a PW review that is helpful (and doesn’t reduce me to tears). 
writeoncomI’m also playing the waiting game with WriteOnCon’s Pitch Fest. They randomly selected 350 pitches to be assigned to agents for feedback and to be voted on by readers for prizes, and my pitch was lucky enough to be selected. My usual pitch is 300 words, so I had to whittle it down to 200 words for this contest. It’s another contest where reviews don’t help or hurt, but if you want to take a look at mine, you can read my pitch here and let me know if you have any feedback to help me make it stronger. Also, they have smartly set up voting so it’s not a popularity contest, so no one is able to go vote for a particular pitch, but if you’re interested in being one of the official voters, you can sign up here.
To keep from worrying myself into an anxious puddle of goo with all this waiting, I’m working on submissions for two more contests. I’m putting together my packet for the SCBWI Work-in-Progress Grant, and I’m also turning one of my short stories into a short script for the PAGE International Screenplay Awards. Both deadlines are at the end of March, so they should keep me busy enough not to check online every five seconds for new tidbits about ABNA and Pitch Fest. At least in theory . . . *hurries off to check twitter one more time* 
What’s keeping you busy these days? Did you enter ABNA? Do you have a pitch in Pitch Fest? Are you applying for one of the SCBWI grants? Have you ever tried your hand at screenwriting? 

Pitch Slapped – Part 2

Official Pitchfest BloggerHave you heard about the WriteOnCon 2013 Pitch Fest? It’s a great way to get feedback on your pitch, and you might get lucky enough to have agents and editors read it. Click here for all the details.

To help people prepare, I’m sharing lessons about writing a perfect pitch that I learned from watching the movie Pitch Perfect. Go here to read part one about how to get Pitch Slapped.

Shalom. ~Deaf Jewish Student
That’s not a real word but keep trying. You. Will. Get. There. ~Fat Amy
With so few words available in a pitch, the key is making every word count. Choose words that create vivid pictures in the reader’s mind. Use strong action verbs. Cut fluffy words that don’t make a precise point about plot or characters. Adjectives should be few and far between, but if they are pressed into service, they should be vibrant instead of generic like ‘beautiful’ or ‘mysterious.’
Keep in mind it is sometimes worth using additional words of the precious word count to make an impact. Instead of saying your protagonist is smart, mention she hacked her principal’s Facebook account to change his profile picture to Grumpy Cat. It uses more words but creates a memorable image and shows she has computer skills, a sense of humor, and a need to thumb her nose at authority.
Hey. You must be Kimmy Jin. I’m Beca. [Silence] No English? [Silence] Yes English? [Silence] Just tell me where you’re at with English. ~Beca
I admit I’m a terrible speller. Just awful. I don’t make anything public without running it through spell-check first, including tweets. I also have a strange addition to commas. If I type more than five words without a comma, I start itching to add one… just because. So I have several comma experts read my super important writing with their comma goggles firmly in place. Know your weaknesses and pay special attention to them in your pitch.
Taking names, taking numbers, join our righteous frat! If you ain’t pledging Sigma Beta, you ain’t worth no crap! ~Sigma Beta Frat Guys
That’s a double negative! ~Benji
That’s a lot of negatives. ~Jesse
This is basically the same as the one above, but it’s so important it bears repeating. A pitch is a sales tool, so it is absolutely vital that the grammar and spelling be correct. It’s such a small snippet that any mistake sticks out like a sore thumb and leaves a negative impression. An agent or editor might think if such an important writing sample has errors, then the manuscript is likely riddled with errors, too. Even if you are an expert at all things grammar, make sure to have several others read your pitch, since our brains often see what we think is there and not what is actually there. 
Pitch PerfectClosing it strong. Like always, absolutely tight. It’s going to be hard to beat that tonight. ~John
Make sure to leave readers wanting more. Several kind critiquers on the forums helped me identify a weak closing in my pitch. In my desperation to quickly sum things up, my last few sentences were generic clichés, losing all the momentum I’d built in the previous paragraphs. So don’t rush the end – keep it as tight and interesting as the rest of the pitch and readers will have no choice but to beg to read more.  
Best of luck with your pitch! 
Let’s just smash this! ~Fat Amy
Have you seen Pitch Perfect? Are the songs permanently stuck in your head? Do you have any tips to share about writing a pitch? Are you planning to participate in the Pitch Fest?

Pitch Slapped

Pitch PerfectYou guys are gonna get pitch-slapped so hard, your man boobs are gonna concave. ~Fat Amy from Pitch Perfect

Isn’t that how we want people to feel after reading our pitches? Like they’ve encountered something so awesome it actually changes them and now they MUST read our novels.
While we’re unlikely to make someone’s boobs go concave with our words, we can take lessons from the movie Pitch Perfect to help us craft a perfect pitch.
Yeah, this number is like an elephant dart to the public’s face. ~John 
Don’t be boring! A pitch is a sales tool, not a summary of the novel. A solid block of text with the gist of, “This happened, then this happened, and then this happened,” no matter how well written, will have readers asking, Is it just me, or did we take a left turn into snooze-ville? ~Gail
While it’s important to include elements of our plot, we need to focus on the plot points that will grab people’s attention. We should tempt and tantalize them until they are so intrigued they want to gobble up our novels right then to find out what happens.
Even though some of you are pretty thin, you all have fat hearts, and that’s what matters. ~Fat Amy
It’s vital that we connect emotionally with our readers - get them invested in our characters so they want to follow them over the course of an entire novel. Even if our characters are unlikeable, we want readers to root for them.
While space is at a premium in a pitch, we must find a way to quickly form a bond between our characters and the reader. It might be a quick bit of interesting back story or a habit or a fear – something that helps the reader see into the fat heart of the character and want to spend more time with them.
We should be taking risks. It’s not enough to be good, we need to put ourselves out there, be different. ~Beca
Most of us have heard the writing adage that there are only seven basic plots. Making it even tougher to stand out, a pitch has so little real estate it’s easy to fall into generalities and clichés to describe our novels in order to save space. With agents and editors reading so many pitches, we have to highlight what makes our novels special. What makes our vampire romance/teen discovers powers on 16th birthday/surviving in a post-apocalyptic world novel different from all the others out there?
Is it something special about the voice of your character? Then make sure it shines through in the pitch. Is it a quirk that makes your character intriguing? Then draw attention to it in the pitch with a memorable example. Is it a unique setting? Then make the readers feel they are standing there while reading the pitch.
It’s important to identify what makes our novel unique and emphasize that in the pitch, but as with all our writing, we need to make sure we show and don’t tell. Don’t say, “Emma is different from any teen you’ve ever read about before.” Instead try a specific and memorable detail like, “Emma always starts the morning announcements with off-key singing from Madama Butterfly.”
Your weirdness is actually affecting my vocal cords, so I’m gonna need you to scoot! Skedaddle! ~Bumper
Keep in mind there’s a fine line between being different and being off-putting. We want readers to remember our pitches, but not because it makes them wonder if they should call the loony bin. And while we are all obviously insane since we decided to be writers, we should keep a lid on the cray-cray to make sure we stand out in a good way, not a ‘grab the butterfly net’ way.
Pitch Fest Blogger
Since this is turning out longer than I thought, I’m going to stop here for now. Check out Pitch Slapped - Part 2 for more ways Pitch Perfect can teach us about writing perfect pitches.
In the meantime, find out all the details about the WriteOnCon 2013 Pitch Fest, and then go out there and crush it!
Have you seen Pitch Perfect? Are the songs permanently stuck in your head? Do you have any tips to share about writing a pitch? Are you planning to participate in the Pitch Fest?

YALLFest Returns

YALLFestY’all, the second annual YALLFest was a blast! I could probably just cut and paste my post about last year’s YALLFest here because it was the same type of awesomeness: funny and inspiring YA authors on stage and bonding with old and new writing friends. But instead of being lazy, I’ll try to come up with new superlatives to describe this year’s event.  

First of all, you have to check out the incredible lineup – it’s kind of mind blowing! There were 47 YA authors there and 25 of them are New York Times bestsellers – that’s a lot of writing talent in one location. I was excited to see all of them, but as a long-time fan of the show Bones, I was especially jazzed to see Kathy Reichs.  
The one drawback of having so many talented people in one place was that there were three panels happening at each time period, so without Hermione’s time turner, it was impossible to see everyone. So on Friday night, I printed out the YALLFest schedule and utilized several colors of highlighters to map out my plan of attack to get the most bang for my buck (Except not really, because the absolute best part about YALLFest? All that awesomeness was FREE!!). By Saturday morning, I was prepped and ready for my mission: absorb as much inspiration as possible from these YA writing luminaries. 
Fortunately I also had a number of partners in crime to share the day with: Kathleen Fox, Lisa Downey, Jillian Gregory Utley, Rebecca Petruck, Rebecca Enzor, Leah Rhyne, Kami Kinard, and new writing friend Laura Moss. It was so much fun to meet up throughout the day to chat about the panels we had just attended and compare notes. The keynote session was with Cassandra Clare and Holly Black discussing literary friendships, and I have to admit listening to them talk about the love and support of writer friends as I sat in the audience with my fantastic writer friends made me a tad teary.
Late in the afternoon there was finally a break, so some of us headed to Rue de Jean for a drink, where we started a new tradition of “serious” writerly discussions over wine and French fries. Thanks to Kathleen for the picture of Lisa, Laura, Rebecca E, me, and Rebecca P. Just like Kami (who made the leap from audience member last year to panelist this year – so cool!), I know others in this group will be on the YALLFest stage in future years – I just hope one of them is me!
YALLFest Gals
YALLFest really is a fantabulous event – both for readers and writers. The authors were very generous in sharing information about their ups and downs before they were published, their writing processes, and other fun stories. Plus Charleston is a fabulous place to visit in the fall. Thank you so much to Jonathan Sanchez of Blue Bicycle Books and Margaret Stohl for organizing such a fantastic event! They have already decided on November 9th for next year’s festival, so mark your calendars – I hope to see y'all there!
Were you able to attend this year’s YALLFest? What was the best piece of advice/inspiration you heard? Are you planning to attend next year?

Engaging Events

Normally I’m pretty much the homebody type, but during the month of November, the Charleston area is hoppin’ with happenings that are forcing me to break my hermit-like habits. Since these events might be of interest to fellow local storytellers (both writers and filmmakers), I wanted to share them here.

The one I’m most excited about is the second annual YALLFest. Last year was a fantastic event, so I can’t wait to see what they have in store for us this year. It will be Saturday, November 10th from 10am to 6pm in venues around King Street, and the lineup of YA authors is enough to make my head explode with excitement. I can’t believe I’ll be able to see writers like Kathy Reichs, Holly Black, Carrie Ryan, and so many others with just a short thirty-minute trip to downtown Charleston.  
But the absolutely coolest thing about the event is that Kami Kinard will be one of the presenting authors. I met Kami at a conference a few years ago, and we've stayed friends. We actually sat together at YALLFest last year, and now this year she will be on stage with all the other YA authors!! She’s such an inspiration, and I’m so thrilled for her! 
If you like writing and/or reading YA novels, make sure to come out and see some of your favorite authors in action. Most of the events are FREE and you can find the schedule here.
Charleston Jewish Book Fest
Charleston Jewish Book FestThroughout the month of November, the Charleston Jewish Community Center is hosting a number of authors, and you can find the schedule and ticket information here. I was especially looking forward to Delia Ephron (who worked with her sister Nora to create charming romantic comedies like You’ve Got Mail) and Stephen Tobolowsky. Although Stephen is also a writer, he’s probably best known for playing a number of memorable characters, including Sandy Ryerson on Glee. I also had the chance to see a hilarious short film he was in called Say It Ain’t Solo when I was at the DC Shorts Film Fest last month. Unfortunately, with so many exciting things happening in November, some of them were bound to overlap, and I won’t be able to see either Delia or Stephen. But hopefully you’ll be able to make it to one of the many events.
Literary Dogs
Hub City Press is a non-profit independent press in Spartanburg, SC, and they are publishing a book called Literary Dogs & Their South Carolina Writers (edited by John Lane and Betsy Wakefield Teter) in which 25 Palmetto State writers talk about their dogs. As someone who is absolutely ga-ga about her canine cuties, this sounds fan-freakin’-tastic to me. There are events happening all over SC to promote the book, but the one I’ll definitely be at is on Tuesday, November 27th from 5pm to 7pm at the Charleston Library Society (164 King Street).
Literary Dogs


Lowcountry authors like Mary Alice Monroe, Josephine Humphreys, Dorothea Benton Frank, Marjory Wentworth, Nicole Seitz, and Beth Webb Hart will be there with their dogs. I can only imagine how chaotic that is likely to be, but so much fun at the same time. Ticket information can be found here.
Carolina Film Alliance
Charleston Film AllianceThe Carolina Film Alliance (CFA) is an advocacy voice for film and television in SC, which has worked toward job creation for state residents and economic development though SC film rebates. If you are involved with filmmaking in SC or have a business that would benefit from potential revenue brought to our state via filmmaking, then you should attend the statewide rally on Sunday, November 4th from 3pm to 5:30pm at Pure Theatre (477 King Street).
Richard Futch is the CFA President, and he was also the amazing casting director for both of my films, so I’ve seen firsthand the passion he has for filmmaking. This will be a great chance to hear more about how we can help lure Hollywood dollars to SC to bolster our economy.
As you can see, the month of November has a lot of exciting things happening around the Lowcountry – I hope to see you at some of the events!
Are you planning to attend any of these?  Do you know of any other storytelling-related happenings in November that I missed?