Secrets of the Desert Nymph WINS Best Feature

This past weekend, I attended the Temecula Independent Film Festival in the Temecula Valley wine country, and I am honored to have received the Best Grape Dance Feature award for my feature film, Secrets of the Desert Nymph. The grape dance award was given to the best films from filmmakers who live in the Inland Empire (which includes Temecula, Murrita and Riverside areas).

Me (alongside festival director Gary Vinant-Tang) showing off the award for Best Grape Dance Feature at the Temecula Independent Film Festival

Me (alongside festival director Gary Vinant-Tang) showing off the award for Best Grape Dance Feature at the Temecula Independent Film Festival

There was very stiff competition, especially from the film, Found on South Street, a very well-made film about a deaf man who believes the only way for him to truly live is to find a way to hear again. I was fortunate enough to meet the writer and director of South Street, Jonathan Blair, and from what I saw in his film, he is definitely one to watch out for in the future.

Unfortunately, I wasn’t able to attend the majority of screenings on Thursday and Friday due to other obligations, but I was able to see almost all of the films on Saturday and Sunday, the majority of which were good to great (of course, as you would expect, there were a couple of duds — at least from my perspective). From drama to comedy, action and horror there was plenty to see (and you can check out a few reviews of these films on my Twitter). But like attending any good festival, there was plenty of opportunity to network, and it was also great getting to meet several of the filmmakers, none more so than Jillian Armenante, who had her film, Kittens In a Cage (in which she wrote, directed and starred), screen on Saturday.

Me and Jillian Armenante at the 2015 Temecula Independent Film Festival

Me and Jillian Armenante at the 2015 Temecula Independent Film Festival

When I first saw her at the festival, I was curious in that I could swear I’d seen her somewhere before, and then it clicked — Judging Amy (among plenty of other things)! At first, I didn’t think it could be her, after all, this was a small first time festival; what’s a pretty major talent like her doing here? But there was no denying it, and I thought it was absolutely awesome that she came down to attend and get to see Temecula. Suffice it to say, I couldn’t pass up the opportunity to introduce myself, and we ended up sitting at the same table at the awards dinner, where she was gifted with two awards (Best Comedy Feature and 3rd Place Best of the Festival). Other than winning my award, that was certainly the highlight of the festival for me!

I do want to take a moment to thank festival director Gary Vinant-Tang (as well as all of the program coordinators and volunteers) for putting on a terrific festival, which I am very much looking forward to returning to next year and for as long as they keep it running.

But now that the festival is over, it’s onto spreading the word for my new novel, Memoirs of Keladrayia: Jaxxa Rakala, which as you probably know is being released on June 23, 2015. What you may not know is that you can now pre-order the Kindle version now! (pre-orders for the Nook and iBooks will be available sometime this week — unfortunately, no pre-orders for the print edition are available).

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