A Call for Beta Readers (pretty please?)

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Hello dear readers!

So, I’m entering a short story contest and I was wondering if anyone would mind being my beta? I haven’t decided which story I’m going to submit, but I’ve narrowed it down to three stories I’ve written recently–two historical fiction based on the Battle of Britain and one more observational, a modern tale set in Boston.

Anyways, the submission is due on February 1st, so it doesn’t give me too much time. Fortunately, my stories are all under 3000 words, so they should take too long to read. XD

If you’re interested in being my beta, leave a comment.

Happy Deathday, Mr Dahl

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Roald Dahl

From Wikipedia. Photograph by Carl Van Vechten

Roald Dahl died 20 years ago today, 23 November 1990.

What can I say about one of my favorite writers that hasn’t been said before?

Roald Dahl, the writer who continues to weave his way through my life. As a child, I loved his books. I wanted powers like Matilda’s. I loved the story of the BFG. My sister had a Book On Tape of it, and we listened to that story on car rides to visit my grandparents or on family vacations. In elementary school, we read James and the Giant Peach during a very long fire drill. As a young child, I read Charlie and the Great Glass Elevator first, and never forgot those Vermicious Knids.

But then I hit that barren wasteland of middle school, where it was no longer cool to love his books. They were kids’ stuff, to be regulated to a far corner, to the back of our minds, to be remembered fondly but never admitted.

High School brought a return to the awesome. My prom theme was Golden Ticket, styled after the Gene Wilder movie Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory, complete with golden tickets, candy everywhere, and a (fake) chocolate waterfall. But still, I ignored the books.

Cue sophomore year of college. My roommate, the fantastic Holmes, got a copy of a collection of his adult short stories. She made me read “Genesis and Catastrophe”. I was hooked on the way my stomach felt after reading that story. I began to read more, to crave more. “Lamb to the Slaughter” introduced me to Alfred Hitchcock Presents, and the story “Beware of the Dog” brought me to 36 Hours (a really good thriller).

Through it, I read a book called The Irregulars, about Dahl’s time as a spy during WWII, which subsequently kicked off my interest in the RAF (or may have just helped to spawn it, I’m really unsure of how that came to be).

I’ve read most of his adult stories by this point. When I travel, I bring Over to You, a collection of his RAF stories, with me. It’s a slim book, perfect for sticking into a computer bag. I want to read My Uncle Oswald, a novel about his delightfully devious character of the same name.

Recently, Holmes and I have started rereading some of his children’s books. We recently finished Charlie and the Chocolate Factory. I never realized how delightful of a morality play it is. The evil children all meet their very fitting ends, all receive their punishments in accordance to their crimes. Its delightful how twisted the tale is. In rewatching the Gene Wilder movie, we realized how much it distorts the story, how it takes away from Charlie being such a deserving character. In the movie, he misbehaves as the other children do. And Grandpa Joe is such a bad influence in the movie.

Dahl’s wicked sense of humor appeals to all ages, from the child looking for a creepy bedtime story, to the adult looking for a good gut-twisting story. There’s a magic to his work, an appeal that transcends ages.

In honor of Mr Dahl, I shall be eating chocolate today (a favorite food of his, in fact, he allegedly was buried with some), and reading a portion of Over to You.

Read one of his short stories today. I promise that you won’t be disappointed.

Here’s to many more years enjoying Roald Dahl’s stories, the fantastic, the strange, the heartbreaking, the wicked.

30 Days of Writing: Day Twenty-Three

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23. How long does it usually take you to complete an entire story—from planning to writing to posting (if you post your work)?

As long as it needs to.

I’ve written some stories and edited them to a good spot within hours–I wrote an entire story in one night, editing it the following morning. Other short stories take far longer–weeks, even spread over months. I don’t post them online, nor do I submit them for publication. I’m not happy-happy with them, so they don’t get anywhere. Yet.

I find that, in some cases, short stories just come to me, completely intact, so I need to write them out before I forget. Some, I need to coax out.

As for novels, well, I’ve only done the first draft of one, and that turned out rather poorly. I’m working on another, still in the planning stages. I’m always in the planning or research stages…

May, the start of the novella (?)…a different one

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Mondays. I hate Mondays. It’s Wednesday, but I still hate Mondays.

This Monday, while slightly more blech than usual, had a bit of a productive start. Waking up at 4.30 does wonders. I turned on my light and plotted out a short story (possibly novella). Now I just need to write it!

The main character, unlike the one in April’s failed temporarily scrapped novella, is one that I’ve been writing about for a few months. The universe, created by a few fellow NaNo-ers, is a fun one to write in. It’s a dystopian world (hence all of the dystopian books I want to read this summer), one that I really enjoy. I adore writing about this character. He’s snarky, over confident–but this story brings him down to a different, inquisitive level. It lets me explore the characters who interact with him in more depth, so not only do I get to make him more three-dimensional, but the secondary characters get their time to shine as well. It’s fun to write.

I have the first part written, but as the entire thing is plotted, it will only take some time for me to actually write out the entire thing. I’m hoping that May becomes a two-story month. I’ll have plenty of time on trains and airplanes, so this should actually happen!


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I haven’t a good reason for why I haven’t updated. Yes, I’ve been writing, but my story “Earthly Paradise” (the one that takes place somewhere in Italy and I so happily wrote about) is faltering. I dislike the main character. John is too…bland. Too sheepish. He just accepts things with a wide, dumb grin. At first, I thought that this would be interesting, a character who doesn’t question the strange things happening around him. It would be a refreshing change from some of my other characters who are too inquisitive for their own sakes.

“Earthly Paradise” is stalling. It feels too big to be a short story (well, it probably will be a short story, should I finish it). I usually write stories that fall below 2,500 words (gee, that’s short). But every time I set pen to paper, I find myself writing repetitive scenes. I don’t know how it’s going to end. In the past, I would laugh and say, “getting there is half the fun!” But in this case, it’s only frustrating.

I haven’t written enough varied material in this story to pick out a theme. There are different threads of a plot, featuring rivalries, experiments and the potential for double-crossing. I have an end that I would like to reach, but John isn’t gutsy enough to get to that ending.

I guess through it all, I must do one of the following:

  • Switch the main character
  • Struggle through with the gutless John (if his name was Jack, I’m sure the story would be different)
  • Ditch “Earthly Paradise” in favor of a story that hasn’t been thought of yet

I’m sure I’ll figure something out.

Nothing like a beautiful day…

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Spent the afternoon outside today, reveling in the glory that is la primavera. Italy has finally decided that it is spring, and the weather is warm, the sun shining, and the sky sans clouds.

Days like today make me glad, happy, content to be alive. That, and it fires up the creative juices. I’d like nothing more than to sit and draw or write. So, I drew some this afternoon, after returning home from a long (painful) walk. New shoes kill the feet.

Having to draw for art is getting my mind thinking about my WIP. My MC, John, is an artist (no doubt because of ALL the art I’ve seen and drawn). He looks at things and wonders how he’ll capture their essence. He’s different from my other characters (and such a sheep…). I think I’ve determined that I like him, but wish that he would be a bit stronger. I guess that may be what this story is about, in the end–John discovering his strength and learning to question things.

I think I like this story. I just hope that it finishes itself up this month. I’m getting too many introduction scenes–I think I’ve had John introduce himself three separate times. Not having an end in sight is a touch disheartening, but I suppose I just need to enjoy the ride.