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DO GAMES STIMULATE WRITERS
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CONTENTS PAGE FREEDOM OF THE WRITTEN WORD MONTHLY CONTEST WINNERS (APRIL & MAY) BOOK REVIEW: PRACTICALLY INVISIBLE MISUSED, MISPLACED, AND MISSPELLED | PART II
14 WRITER’S BEAT FEATURED WRITERS 10 QUICK TIPS FOR WINNING A WRITING CONTEST JUST FOR FUN! EDITORIAL STAFF
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The Writer’s Beat discussion boards have reached ten thousand threads—a remarkable milestone in the website’s journey whose life period extends to less than two years. In addition, we, gods at the summit of Mount Olympus, are brewing plenty of fresh ideas for our dear members. We are not going to let something slip—like we always did—but expect an announcement some time in August. And you may have also read what our chief shaman announced—he beseeched the spirits for our community’s benefit and crafted a complete new layout. We’re uploading it sooner than you think. As for now, please enjoy the summer issue of Writer’s Club. Don’t think you’re too clever; we made the crossword puzzle easy this time. It’s for your sake.
Writer’s Club Editorial Staff
C O N T E N T S P A G E
2 Writer’s Beat
FREEDOM OF THE WRITTEN WORD
SHOULD CENCORSHIP CEASE?
Should writers be able to write what they feel is right? Should there be some sort of censorship or should discriminative notions roam free? Should someone control what needs to be read or should public respect go with the wind? Members of the Writer’s Beat community expressed their opinion, and here is what some had to say.
“I believe in limiting free expression in cases of clear and present danger and I also think that people should have the right to sue for liable and slander. However, I think that the accusations people make about being slandered by a fictional character are a stretch. I guess prior restraint has its uses, too, but I'm always afraid of someone taking advantage of it. There a number of things I'd personally like to censor, but law shouldn't be based on individual likes and dislikes. Frankly, the more we silence people we dislike and don't agree with, the more power we give them because they become martyrs. And censorship is something easily abused.” ‐ Pen “Censorship is necessary. I don't see much else that would spur people into furious writing motivation.” ‐Dyin Isis “Not much censorship, no. But it is impossible for man to comprehend the honest actions of 6 billion others.” ‐ronoxQ
We must be free not because we claim freedom, but because we practice it. ~William Faulkner
and take part in the lively discussions!
Artwork by www.thameraltassan.com F R E E D O M O F T H E W R I T T E N W O R D
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P R I L
O N T E S T
I N N E R S
F I C T I O N C A T E G O R Y
O P E N I N G L I N E S
ERNIE by GARY WAGNER
look at that naked hairy monkey‐ man. Holy jeez, that’s a nasty sight to ruin an old man’s sleep.” Ernie watched in amazement as Caruthers shut the light off, closed the door, and she heard him engage the dead‐bolt. She turned back toward Frank, who was standing on the sidewalk with his hands held up. She lowered the gun and started laughing, “You do look like a monkey‐man. In fact you remind me of that Orangutan, Clyde, in that Clint Eastwood movie.” room, he quickly threw his hands up again. She shook her head in disgust and said, “Go put some clothes on, your neighbor was right – no one wants to look at that.” When he turned and walked to his bedroom, she nodded in satisfaction that he had bleeding scratches from jumping into the bushes across his buttocks. While she was waiting for him to return she called, “You know, I’ve been on some really bad blind dates in my time but let me tell you, this one takes the cake.” He called back, “I’m sorry about all of this and I’ll make it up to you somehow, I swear it.” He came out of his bedroom wearing a grey tee shirt that looked like he had played a bowling game that involved rolling sauce covered meatballs from his chin to his navel. The shirt was too small for him and left a gap of hairy belly showing above the pair of black sweat pants. He walked slowly toward her and said, “Now, can you put that gun down and we’ll talk about this like reasonable adults? What’s someone like you doing with a gun, anyway? You don’t seem like the type.” She fired a round into the wall beside him. He covered both ears with his hands and that little girl scream came out of his mouth again. “So, what type do I seem like, Frank? Like the type of girl who you can steal her wallet from? The type that won’t mind that you sneak out the back door of the bar and leave me with the check, and no wallet, the only woman in the place, with a bunch of horn‐dog greasy biker perverts? The type of
rnie, wearing an unzipped cocktail dress and gripping an unfamiliar handgun, stood in the street in front of his house. She heard a shaky voice from the bushes on her left, “Ernestine? Come on, you don’t really want to do this, do you?” Ernie fired two .38 slugs in the air. She laughed when Frank squealed in fear like a six‐year old girl. “Didn’t I tell you to not call me Ernestine? Now get out of those bushes, you sniveling coward.” “Are you going to shoot me?” “There is that distinct possibility, however there’s a hundred percent probability that I will fire the rest of these bullets into that bush if you aren’t standing here in ten seconds.” The bare yellow bug‐bulb porch light blinked on next door. Old man Caruthers poked his head out and squinted at Ernie standing on the sidewalk holding the gun on Frank as he came out from behind the bushes. Frank saw him and called, “Hey, Caruthers, help me.” Caruthers croaked back, “Kipler, I wouldn’t piss on you if you were on fire. You park your car so the bumper sits a foot over my property line every night and you want me to do you a favor? Serves you right, you bumper invadin’ bastard.” The light blinked off and Caruthers shut the door. The light came on again, the door reopened, and Caruthers called out to Ernie, “Go for a head shot. You don’t want him lingering.” The light went off again and for a third time blinked on. Caruthers called out, “And for God’s sake cover him up when you’re done. Ain’t no one wants to
“And for God’s sake cover him up when you’re done. Ain’t no one wants to look at that naked hairy monkey‐man. Holy jeez, that’s a nasty sight to ruin an old man’s sleep.”
Frank dropped his hands to his side and, “That’s better. This is just a misunderstanding. I can explain everything.” Ernie raised the gun back up and pointed at Frank, “Don’t be getting all comfortable and think your going to sweet talk your way out of this. Now, turn around and get your hairy butt into your house so we can settle this.” Ernie followed Frank up the three steps, across the hollow sounding wood‐floored porch, and into the house through the door that remained open since she chased him through it earlier. She pushed it closed and bolted it. When she turned and pointed the gun back at him where he stood in the middle of the living
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girl who likes being rescued by the bouncer after those creeps unzip my dress, gives me a gun, and tells me to come find you and blow your junk off? Is that the type of girl you thought I was, Frank?” “You know, Ernie, I can explain all of that. This was all an innocent misunderstanding.” “Oh, shut your lying mouth, you stupid dipwad. Get me my wallet, and believe me, there’d better not be one dollar or one credit card missing or I’ll come back here and take your neighbor’s advice and make it a head shot.” Frank took his hands off the top of his head, where they had remained since his last sissy scream, and tiptoed across the floor to roll top desk in the corner of the dining room. He pulled the middle drawer open, took her wallet out with two fingers – as if it was going to bite him, and tiptoed back over to her. “It’s all there, I swear it is. I’m really, really sorry. Please, just take it and go. You’ll never see me again.” She turned, let herself out, and walked down the sidewalk to the street. She assumed that the beat‐up Oldsmobile, bumper a foot over his neighbor’s property line, was Frank’s. She fired the rest of the bullets into the radiator, hood, and windshield. At least old man Caruthers wouldn’t be completely disappointed in the morning.
N O N ‐ F I C T I O N C A T E G O R Y
E M B A R E S S M E N T
FIRST FRESHMAN GYM CLASS by GARY WAGNER
I had only minutes before I had to be naked among my peers and was feeling physically sick by the thought. We were running a lap on the cinder covered track and I seriously considered falling and ripping my knee open on those sharp shards of power‐plant coal residue just so I wouldn’t have to encounter my first high‐school mandatory public shower. I was raised in an extremely prudish and strict evangelical household. Our church still regarded swimming with the opposite sex as a sin of massive immorality. I blame some of my nudity fear on the church; some of it was simply the natural reaction of a thirteen‐year‐old boy. I know that my aversion to exposing myself to strangers went back as far as when I was three years old in the hospital for a tonsillectomy. I remember lying on a stainless steel table with a firm grip on both sides of my underwear and refusing to allow the nurse to remove them. Nurses still wore the little starched white nurse hats and white uniforms back then. To this day I have a clear image of her trying to convince me that she needed to take my little fruit‐of‐ the‐looms off when I knew that they were working on my throat – not anything to do with items beneath my underwear. It wasn’t until I was an adult that my mother told me that she pulled the nurse aside and made arrangements to leave my underwear on until they put me under the anesthesia and then make sure they put them back on before I woke up. high school” which was seventh and eighth grade. We took showers after gym class in elementary school. I had gotten used to the public nudity and it didn’t seem to be that big of a deal. A room‐full of naked eight‐year‐olds don’t even realize they are naked after a few minutes. We took showers in junior high also, and those boys who experienced puberty first were the oddballs (excuse the pun – I couldn’t help myself). I can’t remember a single word ever said about the obvious difference in some of those boys, but I did see a lot of looks that were quickly averted if the hairy boys caught someone staring at their crotch. By the eighth grade, more and more of my classmates were becoming men and we remaining boys were soon to become the minority. I had to assume that the scales had tipped during the final semester of eighth grade, because I became sick with infectious mononucleosis, missed seven weeks of school, and was excused from gym class for the rest of the year because I was too weak to endure it.
By the eighth grade, more and more of my classmates were becoming men and we remaining boys were soon to become the minority.
Back in those days, high school began with ninth grade – not tenth as most schools today. We also didn’t have anything called middle school then, we had “junior
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I was convinced that since I had last been naked in a room full of my peers that I alone had remained puberty‐deprived and that I would be the laughing‐ stock hairless wonder among a group of fur covered, bearded, deep voiced men. I thought of almost nothing else since arriving at school that morning, carrying my gym bag containing my official maroon shorts with Mishawaka Caveman stenciled in white, and my equally official tee shirt with the picture of our school mascot, a fighting caveman, brandishing a club. My newly acquired jock strap was not in that canvas duffle. My mother actually took it out of the box and held it up to me in the store before declaring, “No, we’d better get the extra small – this one is way too big for you.” If it was physically possible to turn to liquid and secretly flow beneath the door and run away when outside I would have done it at that moment. It doesn’t matter if she was referring to the fact that I was less than five feet tall and weighed about seventy pounds, buying an extra small jock strap is a scarring event. Why do they even make an extra small? Couldn’t they label them something like, regular, big, extra large, and way to go, dude? No, the jock strap wasn’t in there because I already put it on at home under my briefs. I wasn’t completely sure how the thing went on and wasn’t about to be fumbling with in for the first time in the locker room. I wouldn’t even have had one if it wasn’t on the list of required gym class clothing. There seemed to be too many straps and it took me a few minutes to understand it. I was glad that I already had it on, because several of the boys in this, our first gym class of high school, struggled with theirs and they were the butt end of jokes about it (I just can’t help myself with the puns). Class was over and I just clenched my jaw and stripped down like those around me. I didn’t want to look down at anyone, but there is no way to avoid it in a group naked situation. I knew not to stare, because glances might be natural but open stares would get your butt kicked. In trying to keep my eyes up and yet darting around sizing up the competition, I was relieved to find out that I was not the lone boy alongside the fully bloomed men. There were a handful of us who hadn’t caught the puberty train yet. By either a fluke or subconscious compulsion, we all ended up together in a clump. The hairiest boy in the crowd pointed at us, said, “Looky at the little boy weenies”, and the post‐pubescent joined in at laughing at us. That was the end of it though. A quick little chuckle and it was never mentioned again. Sure we were embarrassed but it wasn’t nearly as bad as I, and probably all the other late‐bloomer feared it would be.
P O E T R Y C A T E G O R Y E P I T A H P H
by GARY WAGNER
Here lies the drunk that killed my son I shot him dead with a loaded gun To honor my boy, whom I dearly miss Please stand at this grave and take a piss
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A P R I L C O N T E S T W I N N E R S
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O N T E S T
I N N E R S
F I C T I O N C A T E G O R Y
W I S H E S
SEEING RED by KRAVORKIAN
Jake watched as the flames danced up the walls. What started as a small fire was soon out of control, and he could do nothing to stop it. Exactly three years earlier to the day, on his sixth birthday, he had been riding his bicycle in the yard. Knowing full well that his mother would punish him for venturing into the road, he did so anyway. There was an odd sense of satisfaction in disobeying his mother at times, especially when he has been explicitly told not to do whatever fed the craving. His lack of riding skill at the time ended in a hit‐and‐run that left him paralyzed from the waste down. His inability to walk now prevented him from extinguishing – or escaping from – the flames that filled his bedroom doorway. The crackling and popping that echoed through his head sounded like nothing he’d ever experienced before. The wallpaper seemed to fold into itself and rise in the form of smoke to a black, billowing cloud that now concealed the ceiling. He’d always been taught to stay low to the floor in case of fires so he could breathe, or to stop, drop and roll if he himself were to catch fire. When the fire started, he was already sitting on the floor in the corner of his room. Some days he just wanted to get out of the wheelchair and enjoy freedom from the steel and wheels. Unfortunately the fire spread so quickly that he couldn’t have crawled out of the room, dragging himself along the floor, before the fire consumed the threshold. This eliminated even the slightest chance of him getting back up into the wheelchair and carting himself out. Though he was, in a sense, lucky enough to have been low to the floor and offering himself that much more time before the smoke inhalation rendered him unconscious, he didn’t think it would buy him quite enough time. His shrill screams for his mother beckoned no one. After a while, he propped himself up into the corner and sobbed quietly to himself. This probably wasn’t normal behavior for a nine year old child to display in this situation, but he couldn’t see the advantages to yelling to his drunken, passed out mother would do. did buy him a cake, though. He’d celebrate without her. Portions of the ceiling were now falling to the floor, and the temperature in the room was near excruciating. He couldn’t tell if it was the burn in his eyes, or the hurt in his heart, that caused the uncontrollable stream of tears. Trying to blink them away, he glimpsed down at his half eaten piece of cake. The frosting melted and rolled over the edges, puddling on the plate just beside Spider Man’s left eye. The plastic fork looked soft and limp. “The window,” he thought. Overcoming such an obstacle would be impossible for him, though. He couldn’t open it. It was locked just above the bottom pane, and he couldn’t stand up. He could feel his skin blistering as though he were placed into a sauna with an ever rising temperature. His quiet sobs now turned into a deafening cry. Shock would soon be setting in. He let out a scream ‐ one last attempt to call for his mother. Beside the plate on the floor were pictures, half burned. The faces of his mother and father stared back at him from days since lost. The good days, when life was right. Days when she didn’t treat him like an inconvenience, but like a son. He thought back to the one moment in time he most wished he could reverse. He inhaled with all he had, prepared to blow out the 9 candles he’d so carefully placed inside the cake and lit with matches found in his mother’s nightstand drawer next to the pictures he planned to burn. “I wish the world around me would just disappear.”
This probably wasn’t normal behavior for a nine year old child to display in this situation, but he couldn’t see the advantages to yelling to his drunken, passed out mother.
He tried to wake her up shortly before coming to his room, but to no avail. Her mouth gaped open, drool streaming from the corner and down her cheek, breaths audible enough to hear in the next room over – there was no waking her up. He dealt with this day in and day out, but he really thought she would give him just one day. He hoped and prayed she would spend more time with him today than she would with the bottle she’d found such company with since divorcing his father. She
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N O N F I C T I O N C A T E G O R Y T H E P A R A N O R M A L MY PARANORMAL EXPERIENCE by JOSIE HENLEY
I’d like to say that my astral projection experience was exciting and adventurous. Perhaps it involved sexual exploration with other astral projectors, or travel to distant lands on the wings of an alternate plane. However, as this is a non‐fiction piece, I’ll stick to the truth. My story may be seen as mundane, but in its own way it is groundbreaking. Until this point I’d been a sceptical semi‐believer. I was prepared to consider that paranormal experiences seem real to the person undergoing them, but that there must be a perfectly rational biological explanation for the phenomena. From childhood, I had always wanted to believe that some things exist outside of our everyday world, but my scientific brain demanded proof. In the spring of 1995, at the age of twenty‐four and sleeping erratically while working night shifts, I was to be given the proof I needed. I had been enduring some interesting sleep patterns. The shifts I worked were 9pm to 3am, physical work in a warehouse. I’d get to bed at around 3.30 and sleep till 7, when my lover would rise to begin her day. Then I’d drift off again till about 11 and drag myself out of bed to pursue my daytime work of writing, editing and proofreading. The phone might wake me, or the postman. Sometimes I wouldn’t be able to get back to sleep, the sun on my window. I’d go downstairs and snooze on the sofa. My cats would help out here, arranging themselves into the various pockets in the duvet and purring me to sleep. Overnight I slept like a dead dog, but during these mornings I had several disturbing experiences. Bizarre nightmares of the sort that I’d never had before, where everything was exactly as it was in reality: I was asleep in my bed, it was daylight and the clock displayed the correct time. Yet there was another presence in the house – sometimes walking up the stairs to my room, sometimes sitting on the bed next to me. Although this person never identified themselves, or did anything worrying, I had an overwhelming sense of menace and fear. Occasionally I felt someone pressing down on my chest while I slept. I had other experiences – lucid dreams where I would find myself aware that I was dreaming and able to control events. These were some of the best times in my life, where I flew, breathed underwater, was a rock star and performed magic. I read up on lucid suddenly break through and jolt upright, my limbs jerking involuntarily. But I wasn’t truly awake and would fall asleep again only to repeat the process a few minutes or a few seconds later. To an observer it must have seemed that I was having some sort of seizure. Commonly, I would wake several times in the space of an hour, each time returning to the same point in a nightmare. Now I found that I was waking so much that when I eventually rose, I felt that I’d not slept at all but been involved in a fight or danced all night. The culmination of this episode of my life, and the event that drove me to visit the doctor, was a true out‐of‐body experience that I cannot explain in any other way than that I astral projected. I hadn’t been able to sleep in my bed, and had come downstairs with the duvet as was my habit. I’d switched on the gas fire, got myself a milky drink and curled up on the sofa. Eventually I fell asleep, warm and snug in just my knickers, with the fire on low and the duvet wrapped around me. I don’t remember whether I dreamed, but I began to notice that I was floating above the sofa. The duvet was still over me, but it was dangling, the edge brushing the floor. This was disconcerting, and more so as I drifted towards the fire. I woke and landed on the sofa with a thud, hunched up my shoulders and fell back to sleep. This repeated several times, each time I glided closer to the fire. I got the feeling that I was being drawn to the chimney and would be sucked up and out of the house. I began to panic, thinking that the duvet would catch against the fire and be set alight. I tried to pull it up
These were some of the best times in my life, where I flew, breathed underwater, was a rock star and performed magic.
dreaming and other sleep phenomena as I was fascinated by what was happening to me. I began to enjoy my mystical mornings, but was never able to predict whether they would be ecstatic or terrifying. Gradually, the frightening dreams occurred more often than the pleasant ones. A few months into this job, I experienced sleep paralysis. I would wake abruptly and find myself unable to move. Straining against an unknown force, I would
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and tried to turn away from the fire, but I seemed to have no control over the inevitable drift away from where I should be. It didn’t occur to me to look down, to see if my body was still there. Nor did I wonder at the time how the duvet had come with me. I simply accepted that this was happening. Afterwards I tried to dismiss it as another strange dream, however, the feeling of being sucked out of my body was very real and it has remained with me. The next time I experienced sleep paralysis, I noticed this same feeling – a disassociation between ‘my body’ and ‘myself’ which would return with a jolt to the correct alignment. I was not epileptic, and once my sleeping pattern returned to normal, the frequency of these phenomena waned until I was finally free of them. The experience has left me, though, with the lasting belief that there is something other than pure physicality in the human experience, some sort of soul or spirit, however it is expressed, which can separate itself from the body under certain conditions.
M O T H E R S
P O E T R Y C A T E G O R Y
SOLITARY MEMORIES by GARY WAGNER
Framed by a shock of pure white hair, hazel eyes have begun to stare, as she goes away for a few moments, she still comes back… for now, but no one knows how much longer until she leaves her mind behind and sees the present no more. What will she see in her Alzheimer’s daze when she stares at us but only sees her memories? Perhaps she’ll see her parent’s farmhouse with its big wide porch and the faded white Adirondack chairs her grandfather made, the John Deere tractor plowing tobacco fields, her little brother, Charlie, denim overalls, no shirt, bare feet, chased and terrorized by the mean white goose, yelling, “Help me, sissy, he’s going to bite my butt.” Maybe she’ll see us as children, revisit family vacations, or sit again through our weddings, bounce her grandbabies on her mind’s knee, go hand in hand on walks with Dad, relive every happy moment. The solid steel cell door on reality is creaking closed, the lock will turn and her remaining time on earth in solitary confinement will soon begin. I pray, I beg, I plead with God, with fate, with karma that the memory of me that gets locked inside her cell is a rambunctious little boy who made her laugh, gave her hugs and kisses, fell asleep cradled in her arms and that the troubled youth that caused her pain and heartache is left outside forever.
“You know you've read a good book when you turn the last page and feel a little as if you have lost a friend.”
M A Y C O N T E S T W I N N E R S
involvement, all the equations their survival change by the addition of an old friend and an older and deadlier enemy, the law. Although the story is good, the protagonists themselves fall flat. Christian, the boy who binds the novel together seems too mature for his fourteen years. His nervousness in front of the girls is well‐portrayed, but in other aspects, he fails to deliver. His motivations seem false and at times his blind trust creates a sense of disbelief. Danielle falls short of the benchmark for the same reason. Her unquestioning faith in a new boy she has never met raises more than a few eyebrows. She might have been right about Christian from the start, but it is never satisfactorily explained why she trusted him in the first place. Her tragic background is convincingly written, probably because of McDonald’s prior experience in this field. For all her other shortcomings, she is his most heartrending character. The minor characters like Dylan, Johnny and the other Locals deliver well. Their chilling stories– again a sign of the author’s experience in this field–will not fail to scare you. Their courage in the face of all adversities might be a mask for their real vulnerability, but they are yet strong characters who deserve to be lauded. Kevin McDonald, born in Southern California in 1967, is a multi‐talented man. He is not only a writer, but a master goldsmith
and business strategist. He spent a term as an elected member of the National Center for Missing Children’s California Advisory Board. This tenure was what woke him up to the plight of missing children all over the USA and instilled a desire in him to communicate this to others. He wrote Practically Invisible, the first in the China Doll Trilogy over the course of several years. The novel completely reverses all conceptions anyone might have about runaways and throw‐offs. It is a powerful message to all of us to sit up and start caring. The story transcends borders; people from USA to Japan and every country in between will be able to relate to the themes conveyed by it. Children’s welfare is a universal issue and this powerful novel will move you deeply. The foreword contains an anecdote about McDonald’s inspiration for writing Practically Invisible. He saw a group of teenagers playing music on the street and went up to talk to them. After talking to them in detail about their lives, he asked one of them if she could change one thing about her life, what it would be. Her answer–something that has haunted me over these past few months–was, “I would stop being practically invisible.” This is the most poignant line in the entire novel and for this, if not anything else, I would highly recommend reading it. FOR MORE INFO.
PRACTICALY INVISIBLE By Mridula C
received Practically Invisible, written by Kevin McDonald, last December, but it has taken until June to get this review written. The book itself had nothing to do with this—events simply conspired against it. As I finally write this, I have the benefit of hindsight and an enjoyable re‐read. Practically Invisible is a touching novel set in and around a small town in Virginia, USA. At its core, it is a tale of teenage survival. The novel is essentially the story of Christian and Danielle, two youngsters from opposite worlds. Christian, the pampered ‘city boy’, is caught up with the traumatized and abused Danielle and her motley group of outlawed teenage runaways better known as the Locals. At first treated with hostility, Christian soon earns the respect of the Locals and Danielle’s love. His forays into lawlessness, from truancy to heists tie him closer than ever to them—drawing him away from the safety of his own family. At the height of their
Books were always a constant in my life. I had a very chaotic childhood and my favorite books were predictable—I knew what was going to happen in them because I'd read them so many times. I would pull a book out and the characters would always be there for me, ready to share their adventures. It was comforting.
piperdawn, from Why Do You Want to be a Writer The Inkster Incorporated Forum
B O O K R E V I E W
10 Writer’s Beat
M ISUSED, M ISPLACED,
Jillian C, Mridula C, Hakeem D
ast issue, we presented Misused, Misplaced and Misspelled: a series of articles on writing issues we have noticed over months of critiquing. This time around, we will be continuing with the theme of Writing Techniques with excellent inputs on e‐speech and the use of foreign phrases in English writing. Oh, the Horror! The Detrimental Side of Language: Compaction and Net‐Speak. Net‐Speak. E‐speech. Text Lingo. Call it whatever you want, but these words describe a growing problem. Net‐speak is undermining the literacy of our youth. Under our very noses the English language is gradually being processed, compacted and pressed into a nearly unreadable form of communication. Kids seem to be able to write in it fluently, while their parents stand back and scratch their heads in confusion. While all this head‐scratching is going on, our kids are really learning to forsake articulated thought in favor of efficiency. You're probably thinking, "Yeah, right." Fact: Some schools in America have been in the news as of late, with their teaching staff openly admitting that they’ve allowed students to turn in written assignments that include text‐ messaging and internet shorthand, also known as Net‐Speak.
Most would probably still say this use of text‐message shorthand is no big deal. After all, it’s only a form of shorthand, right? People don’t actually look at each other and say "L‐O‐L" instead of laughing out loud, are they? Besides, who wants to type full‐ length sentences with punctuation into the tiny keyboard of a hand‐ held device like a Blackberry? We don't like to compose long sentences in forums and chat rooms, either. Hence, we have the rapidly spreading phenomena of Net‐speak.
Fact: Some schools in America have been in the news as of late, with their teaching staff openly admitting that they’ve allowed students to turn in written assignments that include text‐ messaging and internet shorthand, also known as Net‐ Speak.
When people are online, they spend a lot of time writing and they want to do so as fast as possible. This is understandable. But while we're chatting away, our young people are doing the same thing and taking to Net‐Speak like tadpoles to water. Unfortunately, this form of communication is turning up in more ‘formal’ school‐ related writing projects where it simply doesn’t belong. There are signs of it everywhere nowadays. This writer can’t help but wonder if Net‐speak will, in the long term, affect the overall literacy of young people. One of the main gripes in the first installment of Misused,
Misspelled and Misplaced, Part I was the recurring problem of what could be called Homonym Confusion Syndrome, or in Net‐ speak, ‘HCS.’ HCS is a curious disorder, preventing people from being able to tell the difference between ‘There’ and ‘Their,’ ‘Its’ and ‘It’s,’ and the long‐standing trifecta of ‘Too,’ ‘Two’ and ‘To.’ One can spot an HCS sufferer when a sentence like the following shows up within a work of writing posted on the internet: ‘Hank wanted too go to the store over their and he wanted Frankie to go with him to.’ When read out loud, the sentence is understandable, if a bit clunky. The HCS individual knows what they wanted to write, but others stumble over the word misuse while reading. Though a little fun is being had here, the syndrome is a real one. Fact: Based on recent numbers from test scores brought about by the 'No Child Left Behind' Act, there is a growing number of young people engaging in Net‐speak (from the age of ten and up) who have problems differentiating between Homonyms and lack the ability to spell as well as the inability to write a proper sentence. Some might say, "Who carez ALA it gets the mssg across?" (Translation in proper English: "Who cares as long as it gets the message across?") A sentence like the one above calls to mind George Orwell’s 1984, where the reader is introduced to "Newspeak" and "Doublethink," tools the Big Brother regime uses to quell radical thought amongst the population. In Chapter Four, the protagonist Winston is busily rewriting books and newspaper articles, changing history by translating Oldspeak into Newspeak while at his job within the Ministry of Truth: Winston was good at this kind of thing. On occasion he had even been entrusted with the
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rectification of The Times leading articles, which were written entirely in Newspeak. He unrolled the message that he had set aside earlier. It ran: times 3.12.83 reporting bb dayorder doubleplusungood refs unpersons rewrite fullwise upsub antefiling In Oldspeak (or standard English) this might be rendered: The reporting of Big Brother's Order for the Day in The Times of December 3rd 1983 is extremely unsatisfactory and makes references to non‐existent persons. Rewrite it in full and submit your draft to higher authority before filing. Notice how the Newspeak message given to Winston very much resembles common text‐message language, or Net‐Speak. The resemblance, in this writer’s view, should be downright scary. The message Orwell is trying to get across here is that when writing is compacted too much in the pursuit of more efficient communication, the thoughts behind the writing are eventually rendered confusing and meaningless. So, do you still think Net‐ Speak simply an innocuous form of shorthand? You’re probably right, but still, let’s take another look at it. Shorthand originally came about due to a need for those working in the secretarial fields to take quick notes during dictation. It was used widely between 1870 and the 1950's‐ 1960's, prior to the advent of the Dictaphone, which was basically a recording device. After that, shorthand began to go by the wayside as tape and digital recording became more available. These days, most people either compose letters themselves or else they simply record what they want written into a digital recorder and have it transcribed by a secretary. Shorthand was necessary before the Dictaphone, as it was the only way for a secretary to keep up with the supervisor’s spoken words. If a university student learned shorthand and used it to take notes during a college lecture, this was both acceptable and advantageous. But would it have been acceptable for this same student to turn in a term paper written completely in shorthand? No, it was not. Apparently, in the interest of trying to ease students through English and other standard classes, some teachers are now allowing Net‐speak within term papers rather than taking the initiative and forcing these same students to learn how to write a proper sentence. These teachers are not teaching, they are letting children down by not instructing them on how to write clearly and effectively. When we begin to allow such a change in school curriculum, we are growing lazy as a society. Our children are not learning how to write. It’s not a crime if you don’t know how to spell when you venture into writing your first short story, essay, article or novel. It’s not a crime if you don’t have a firm grasp on grammar. It’s not even a crime if you use text‐messaging shorthand on occasion. It is a crime if you don’t make the effort to crack the books and learn a little grammar along the way. Who is affected by this "crime?" You—and the reader who's giving up on what you've written because they don't understand it. If you are a good speller and know how to string together a proper sentence, and yet choose not to, you have a bad habit and need to break it. Think about this: In many non‐English‐speaking countries, students are often taught English as a second language as a part of their regular curriculum. In most cases, these same students have mastered English at a relatively early age and by the time they’re adults they can communicate in
The Beat Goes On…
On who is the most memorable fiction character, ronoxQ says: “Count Olaf from A Series of Unfortunate Events. Not the best character, not the mostrealized. But things about that caricature of a villain struck true for me. He also introduced me to This Be The Verse, a poem I now cherish.” … and writing Kim says: “Topaz from I Capture the Castle by Dodie Smith. There's something quite fabulous about a artist's model, who is so beautiful she could marry anyone, yet she's married to a man who barely even knows she's there.” TAKE PART IN THE ACTIVE DISCUSSIONS AND JOIN WRITER’S BEAT NOW!
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our language far better than we can. They tend to avoid Net‐speak and take the time to write clearly. Why? Because it’s important to them that they and their ideas are understood. If your native language is English, this should be both a sobering and humbling thought. Are we gradually forgetting how to properly speak our own language simply because we have too little time to spend on it? Are we shoving aside the ‘big words’ because they’re too inconvenient and hard to type into a Blackberry? Maybe the ability to articulate one’s thoughts in written form is a dying art. As a writer, it’s your job to make your point in written form. Make sure you have the tools to do so. Most computers have spelling and grammar‐check programs. Even though these programs are not perfect and often can suggest several different choices for one word, it’s a way to catch most of these kinds of errors. If you’re new to writing and want to do it for fun and profit, it behooves you to learn more about the form, function and structure of your native language. It also behooves you to avoid the use of Net‐speak. Sure, abbreviations and contractions create a sense of ease in getting a message across, but in doing so, are you in fact eroding your ability to articulate in written communication? Orwell tried to warn us about this very thing back in 1948. Abbreviated communication leads to abbreviated thought. There is far more to the art of writing than getting the nuts and bolts of spelling/grammar right. Communication can be defined as the literal act of taking that which exists in our minds and getting it out into the world in spoken or written form for others to experience. Next time you get online and find yourself slipping into Net‐Speak, stop yourself and ask this question: "Is this really the best way to get my message across?" And, the very next time you catch a young person writing something like, "I lv U v/m & hp 2 C U sn. BB, TTFN," give them a big hug, hand them a fifteen‐pound textbook on English composition and urge them to learn to write about how they really feel. Besides E‐speech, the usage of foreign words in English poses a problem to many up‐and‐ coming writers. Familiarize yourself with foreign roots in this short piece: How Do We Do That? The Usage of Foreign Phrases in English. All family languages are rife with words that have foreign roots. You will be surprised to know that quite a lot of English words are the final form of unfamiliar phrases which have evolved through time. Yes, most of those words have Germanic origin, but many are impacted by Latin suffixes. It’s nothing but likely that actual Latin phrases and words slip into our writing. We’re not telling you to translate the novel you’re writing to Latin; we’re merely protecting you from the misuse of Latin phrases. The case may appear unproblematic, but believe us, it’s quite tricky. “etc.” is probably one of the most used Latin abbreviations in English. It’s derived from the phrase et cetera, which means “and so on” or “to the rest”. A common mistake is to combine et cetera with ellipses points: ‘Books, pens, pencils, … etc.’ However, the ellipsis can replace an et cetera: ‘Books, pens, pencils….’ Some publishing houses do not require a period after et cetera or a comma before it. But it’s better to stick with the conventional use unless told otherwise. Another popular example is exempli gratia, which in fact means “for example”. The abbreviation is “e.g.” There is no rule on how to use it; British English dictates that a comma should be used after the abbreviation while American English does not. It should also be noted that “e.g.” is entirely different than “i.e.”—the latter is an abbreviation for id est, which means “in other words.” It is completely erroneous to use it in place of “e.g.” The acronym “R.I.P” does mean Rest In Peace in English, but the original is requiescat in pace, a Latin phrase which means “may he rest in peace.” There are no common mistakes with this one, but we thought we should let you know. Quod erat demonstrandum (“Q.E.D”), Nota bene (“N.B”), Et alii (“et. al.”), Versus (“vs), etc. are all used extensively in the English language, but the trick is when and how to use them. It may not matter to you as it’s only a simple abbreviation, but knowing the origins of words will expand your knowledge of foreign phrases and will also sharpen your skill as a writer. Always consult a person who is knowledgeable of the language in question before borrowing from it. Adding to that, it would also be wise to warn you that the overuse of Latin and foreign phrases in your writing is a sign of an incompetent writer. So before you jump to other languages, practice English first! That’s all we have for now. Don’t forget to check out the next issue for more about writing issues. What do you think of Writer’s Club? We would love to read your feedback. Send to firstname.lastname@example.org or use the contact us forum located at the bottom of the forum’s main page.
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I C H E L L E
A C I O C C O W R I T E S
DO GAMES STIMULATE WRITERS?
This is the true question. Do games stimulate writers? In a recent
survey at Writers Beat, ten voters selected among four choices as
follows: A: Yes, they do; B: No, they don't; C: Maybe, sometimes; D: I
Six out of ten people chose "Yes, they do" as their answer. Two
picked "No, they don't." Two picked "Maybe, sometimes" as their choice. No one picked that they didn't know. Some things that have been noticed are that, yes, they do
stimulate writers. When members of Writers Beat log on, they the games. Why is that? Some members just like to use the
current work. check their own recently published works then go to check out games to help them get over some writer’s block, or give them a
new idea for another story or even some more details in their How do games help writers? Well, that can be both a simple and in their work. They can also offer a “break time” for some writers
to just let go and have some fun. Most online forums have games a hard question. They can help writers to become more focused
Some games featured on Writers Beat such as “Count to Million” and “What are you listening to” don't really help any writers but they do help the members have fun. Most of the games on Writers Beat, however, are writing‐ related or help writers, such as, “Coupling Words,” “Book Titles,” and “Word Association." Those are just a few of the many games on Writers Beat. Even though only ten people voted, it is apparent that games still have an impact on members of Writers Beat.
to break ice or lighten the moods. It also helps boost vocabulary.
Writing games can also help writers think more, to think outside the box.
AND IF GAMES CANNOT HELP YOU try writing about one of the following prompts:
Is there an afterlife? What if you could travel there and come back? What would you see? Open a book, close your eyes and pick a page at random, then open your eyes. Read one paragraph, close the book. Use that paragraph as the start of three paragraphs of your own. Pick three characters that have nothing in common. Place them together in an unlikely setting and describe what they talk about as well as what happens. Think ahead in time. If you lived to be 100, describe a typical day in your life as a journal entry.
D O G A M E S S T I M U L A T E W R I T E R S ?
14 Writer’s Beat
WHAT DID THEY CHOOSE?
"A chilling and an intense read. I'm left speechless.”
The Worst Thing That Could Happen to a Marriage by piperdawn
I used to think that the worst thing that could happen to a marriage was being left by the person you loved. I don't think that anymore. The worst thing that can happen to a marriage is loving your spouse just enough that you don't want to hurt him by leaving‐‐but not loving him enough to want to stay. So you sacrifice your own happiness because leaving him would be like kicking a puppy‐‐it would be cruel. I'm starting to wonder if that's what marriage actually is‐‐ a slow chipping away at the woman's happiness to fulfill the man's needs. I've seen so many women stay in their marriages from a sense of duty. Not a duty to God or their vows; thankfully, my friends are too progressive to believe puritanistic guilt trips. My own mother stayed married to a man she despised because she couldn't bear the shame of a divorce, not out of fear for her immortal soul. But most of my friends aren't ashamed of divorce, either. I'm thinking of one friend in particular, who stays because her husband is basically an overgrown child. He forgets to pay their bills. He doesn't eat breakfast. He would probably skip lunch, too, or eat a bag of chips or M&Ms from the vending machines if she didn't pack a healthy lunch for him. He has a history of heart disease and yet he never goes to the doctor. He's had an infected tooth for months now. She's the one who makes sure the cars have brakes, and gas, and oil in them. He goes to work as diligently as a school boy and then he comes home to her. This is when her job begins. She protects him, feeds him, and takes care of him. children, staying in this passionless and unfulfilling marriage. The children are actually one of the reasons she wants to leave him. She wants her children to see that marriage isn't something you settle for or cling to, like a pair of shoes that you've outgrown so that every step you take pinches your toes. Marriage should be about passionate kisses and soul‐ nourishing moments. If you've outgrown the passion and the love that brought you together, then you owe it to yourself to move on. She wants to teach her children that life is about fulfillment and joy‐‐not guilt and resentment. Hers is about keeping the lights turned on and making sure her husband shows up for his physical, and finally gets that tooth extracted. And then, when she has tucked her children and her husband into bed, she screams into her pillow. So, the thing that would be the worst to him‐‐her leaving‐‐ has been replaced with the thing that is worst to her, this slow death of her soul, this building of resentment in her heart; the burst blood vessels around her eyes from her nightly pillow‐muffled screaming. That is the worst thing that could ever happen to a marriage, not adultery, not being left because your spouse didn't love you enough. The worst thing is staying because you don't love yourself enough to leave.
She wants her children to see that marriage isn't something you settle for or cling to, like a pair of shoes that you've outgrown so that every step you take pinches your toes. Marriage should be about passionate kisses and soul‐nourishing moments. If you've outgrown the passion and the love that brought you together, then you owe it to yourself to move on.
And she resents the hell out of it. They have children, which complicates things even more. But really, she doesn't stay for them. She thinks that she is setting a bad example for her
“The representation of the husband as a child produced a prominent effect throughout the story, which led to a fantastic ending. Great writing.”
C R I T I C S ’ C H O I C E
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S B E A T
P R I L
Click Clack Clock by Josie Henley
climb the slime encrusted wall. Bricks crumble beneath my feet. I fight for a foothold. The gun is in my hand before I stand: I have been here before. I am on top of the wall. Looking down I pan my gun around the dingy alley below. Packing cases litter the yard, spilling their contents like ratguts. A fire in the corner blazes eternally, intended to distract me from the real danger. One movement and I know they are here. I shoot. Wide arcs over and over. I pause. Don’t jump: some may be left alive. I made this mistake last time. I was killed. Those rats have sharp teeth: poisonous. Must shoot them all to get the ring. Need the ring for level three. One time I skipped this courtyard, jumping packing case to packing case. Got out before they came. Thought I was clever, till I got to level three; didn’t have the rat ring; could have kicked myself. Here they are – time to sniper them off one by one. Clack, clack, clack. Gotcha. One lovely gold ring, spattered in stinking rat blood. Not that I care. Not my fingers, is it? Ok, jump over the cases, case to case, out the other side. Skip, skip, skip. Save game and time for a break. Click. I’m standing on the landing. She’s in there I know: I can hear her breathing. Is she in the land of the living or away with the fairies? Who knows? Who cares? What’s for dinner, skinner? Nuke puke or pot rot. I’ll boil the kettle. If the funky junkie wakes up I’ll offer
her one. Head out the window to get my fresh. Dark already. Look out Brum, here I come! Can see the tower from here. Dad taught me when I was tiny: always look for the tower then you know where you are. Brum Brum Bubblegum. Tower tall silhouette; dark angel wings; lights flashing stop planes crashing. On off on off. Look up, down, roundabout. We in the middle, same above same below, heaven and hell, smell, fell. Bell. Ding‐dang‐dong not church bells. Ice‐cream van, man. No night‐cream man, they make their profit from other treats, sweets. Mother knows best the treats they sell. Shoot it up, chuck, muck; still the same old game. Carbon monoxide, breathe it in. Five deep breaths (five‐a‐day). Then in again for snack, crack. Fork it up; schlap, schlop, schlup. Kchshsssss. Click‐click. Check phone: no messages. Sister blister late, mate. What’s she doing? sister, missed her, kissed her. Online; plug‐in. Cruise cityscape. The only city that never sleeps; keeps on line all night, right. Click cyberbabe. Of all the bars on all the net…Star_Eyes ‐ Yo punk, how u? Black_Punk ‐ Notsobad. Urself? Star_Eyes ‐ Beenbetter. Click90 ‐ Hey newbie, what’s ur asl? Me 16/f/uk how bout u? Newb92 ‐ <private>what is asl? Click90 –
I am a published writer having fiction and non fiction in magazine and on line format. I also have poetry published, and have had scripts made into animations, as well as making my own animations. Seven Days is my first book publication. I have a large portfolio of short stories, four unpublished novels, several feature scripts and am open to offers from agents. Josie Henley
<private>age/sex/location, wow you really new! Newb92 ‐ ok, 15/m/nyc… Click90 ‐ nyc 8‐) coooooool must be great to live there. Star_Eyes ‐ notso cool if u go to school :‐( Click unclick.
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In The Torrid Zone by Starrwriter
n rare occasions in Hawaii the tradewinds stop blowing and an equatorial air mass creeps north to cover the islands for a few days. The tropical belt just north and south of the equator is known as the doldrums or the horse latitudes. Without a breath of wind, the stagnant air is unbearably hot and humid ‐‐ fit only for dolphins and whales, according to sailors who are sometimes trapped in it for weeks. On land it feels even worse, like drowning in honey. The sky often has a sickly yellowish tint reminiscent of jaundice. In my second year in Honolulu I caught a raging fever during one of these awful heat waves. I had fever for an entire month and I was forced to try to sleep sitting upright since it was too painful on my joints to lay down. Dengue is also called breakbone fever because the joint pain makes it feel like your bones are broken. I was so delirious I could barely function. I lost my apartment keys twice, ate practically nothing and I took two or three cold showers each day to bring down my temperature. I sat on the sofa with two fans blowing when the mid‐afternoon heat made me swoon. I felt like I existed outside my body. My apartment seemed unfamiliar and I was sometimes paralyzed by a sense of unreality. After my doctor misdiagnosed the illness as influenza, I discovered I had dengue fever, a mosquito‐born disease which hadn't been seen in Hawaii for half a century. There were lasting effects ‐‐ perhaps even brain damage from the dangerously high fever. I'm not sure and I no longer trust doctors
to make judgments about my health condition. I sweat 24 hours a day now. I have learned to despise the tropical heat more than ever because I feel as though I am living in some sort of hell from which there is no escape. I pray for the cooling rain that seldom comes, yet I shiver with chills whenever the air temperature drops below 80. My body is addicted to the very thing I hate. I sleep fitfully during the worst heat of the day and stay up all night like a bat. I feel more animal than human. I walk the lonely city streets at night, looking for other creatures of darkness: stray cats, prostitutes, muggers who might take pity on me, anyone with whom I can make a connection. I can't relate to day people anymore. They seem like suntanned freaks in a speeded‐up movie. The sun is my enemy. Solar rays sear my skin with heat and ultraviolet radiation and suck the breath out of my lungs. I have nightmares of dying from melanoma, covered with carcinogenic blotches like a rotted prune. Even at night I wear sunglasses to guard my eyes against the reflected sunlight of a full moon. If only this hot ball of gas could disappear from my horizon ‐‐ but I know it's impossible. I dream of blizzards and lakes frozen in ice. After fleeing the arctic Michigan winters as a teenager, I now look back on those days with a nostalgic longing. I ache to feel the bite of sleet on my face and numbing cold in my toes, to leap head‐first into a snow bank. These fantasies comfort me on sweltering nights.
William Starr Moake grew up in Michigan and began his writing career as a 19year old cub reporter for a daily newspaper in West Palm Beach, Florida. After several years in journalism, he became a travel writer. Three of his fiction books have been published, two novels and a short story collection. Moake has lived in Hawaii since 1972 and retired last year. Why I write Fiction I started writing fiction when I was a young man because I thought it was a good way to make a living by staying at home and drinking beer. My wife didn't agree with this plan. After abandoning fiction writing for two decades, I resumed in middle age because I had personal stories to tell which I thought would be interesting to readers. It took me 9 years of struggle to get my first fiction book published. None of my books made much money and I write fiction now mainly for my own enjoyment. Starrwriter
W R I T E R ’ S B E A T F E A T U R E D W R I T E R S
But I can't return to the cold country. Living here so long has thinned my blood and I would die with chattering teeth. I am condemned to live in the torrid zone until this terrible heat finally consumes my body like a smouldering flame. My intellectual dreams are dead. When I was a young man, I wanted to become a famous writer. I foolishly thought I could find adventures to write about in the tropics, not realizing this was the exception among writers rather than the rule. For every Joseph Conrad there are a thousand would‐be authors who venture into jungles and exotic islands but never write a single worthwhile line. The tropical regions of the world represent a vast intellectual void painted in bright colors. Real literature is native to temperate climates and doesn't feel at home under a palm tree. To write about the human condition from a hammock is a sham. Why write about anything when frangipani blossoms fill the air with soporific perfume? The majority of island Kanakas know this truth and have absolutely no interest in books. They are semi‐literate on purpose, even speaking a sort of baby talk called pidgin with stubborn pride. Like bronzed gods, they thrive on emotions, not words. They are violently impulsive, as quick to take offense as to love. They are perfectly adapted to the strange subtleties of life in the tropics. I envy them, but I also fear them because they are suspicious of people like me who live largely inside our minds. Locals give me "stink eye" when they notice me reading a book at the beach or on a bus, as if they had caught me masturbating in public. To them reading is little more than mental masturbation. I never wrote the great novel I imagined, but what is worse, I saw through my dream. The natives are right. Words don't really matter in the tropics. They are superfluous sounds and symbols compared to the immediate realities of island existence. Yet I can't help myself. Out of habit I waste precious time reading and writing when I could be surfing or spear fishing or pig hunting in the mountains. Or making love to a bright‐eyed coconut girl like Kini Hoopai.
When I was a young man, I wanted to become a famous writer. I foolishly thought I could find adventures to write about in the tropics, not realizing this was the exception among writers rather than the rule.
Kini is the Hawaiian equivalent of Cindy, but she hates that haole name, even if it is on her birth certificate. Kini is hapa‐haole, part white on her mother's side of the family and somewhat embarrassed by this lineage. Along with countless other young locals, she has gotten swept up in the sovereignty movement in Hawaii which teaches a return to local language and culture and hopes (unrealistically) for the American government to relinquish ownership of the islands. Kini is an enigma to me, as many island girls are. On the one hand she has a stunningly beautiful physique: perfect face with dark almond‐shaped eyes and a gleaming smile, long black hair down to her waist, a voluptuous figure and small feet. She looks like the quintessential Hawaiian beauty worthy of any magazine cover. But
she is also a rabid tomboy with distinctly unfeminine traits. She speaks too loudly and often curses like a sailor. In spite of her hula lessons she is clumsy and moves without a hint of gracefulness. When she drinks too much, Kini tells filthy jokes that embarrass even me and she sleeps around too much. I think of her as a gorgeous mess and this contradiction has a troubling effect on me. In some respects she scares the hell out of me. She is too intense and direct for me to feel comfortable when we are together because I never know what she might do or say. Kini would rather go barefoot than go to heaven. She is more competitive than an all‐pro linebacker and I mean physically. Although all women have a small amount of testosterone, I think she has more of this male hormone than any three average men. She likes to ridicule me for reading books and she makes fun of my writing if I show it to her. She doesn't respect me at all, thinks I'm a haole wimp. But in her quiet moments, when she is relaxed with a far‐off gaze, she reminds me of an angel. I can't get over her exquisite beauty, even if it only goes skin deep. I could sit for hours and just stare at her as long as she didn't talk. I wish I was a painter like Gaugin or at least a photographer so I could capture her still form for posterity. On my night prowls I sometimes go visit Kini at her apartment in Kalihi. If I have to awaken her, she grouses at me. “Don't you frickin' haoles ever sleep?” “Only in the day time. We're all vampires, you know.” “Shit,” she mumbles, reaching for a cigarette. “Do you have any beer? It's past take‐out time.”
W R I T E R ’ S B E A T F E A T U R E D W R I T E R S
“Look refrigerator.” in the “Next time bring your own beer,” she snaps. “You're in a good mood tonight.” “I got fired today.” “Why?” “You didn't say you wanted one.” “What's the difference? I have to find another job now.”
From the kitchen I ask her if she wants one. No answer, but she shakes her head in disgust when I return to the living room with only one can of beer.
Kini had worked as a waitress in the restaurant of a Waikiki hotel. Since I met her, she had also been an office receptionist in the business district, a sales clerk at a jewelry store and a groom for a dog trainer. She changes jobs once or twice a year and new employers keep hiring her because of her looks. Read more: (http://www.writersbeat.com/t orrid‐zone‐t5519.html?t=5519)
JUST FOR FUN!
FAMOUS WORD SCRAMBLE
Are you good at reading quotes? Then try to decipher this one: ilve eilk oyu liwl eid owrotmo, laenr eilk oyu liwl evil feveror.
W R I T E R ’ S B E A T F E A T U R E D W R I T E R S
Writer’s Beat Advice
Writing contests can be found brimming everywhere — it has never been easier to find one, no matter what type of prose you’re good at. In this issue, it’s 10 Quick needed information about the story, and B., to reveal something about their own personality or that of another character. Keep it snappy and to‐the‐point. be as clear as they should be) and double‐check that the underlying theme of your story is something readers can understand and relate to. Your story may be about a Martian whose only goal in life is to meet an Earth woman, but be sure that the theme is something that the everyday reader can understand and glean from the story once they’ve finished reading.
Tips For Winning a Writing Contest by Jillian C.
Thinking about entering a Writing Contest? Here's a few tips to help you along the way.
4. Make your story as unique as
possible. Take a couple of unusual characters, people who wouldn’t normally associate in everyday life and throw them into a situation where they’re forced to deal with each other. Make their circumstances unique as well. Think of the strangest situation you can and write about it. Be sure to include setting information using all five senses to put your reader deep into the scene. Mood, tone and setting are important to help the reader get into a story. Make yours unique but also make sure it adds to your story. For instance, if you're writing a horror story, maybe choosing a setting that's not normally found in a horror piece would give it a new twist. Rather than having your characters explore a haunted house, have them look for a ghost in a well‐lit shopping mall busy with shoppers. Most stories contain a Key Object that is important to the main character(s) for a reason that adds to the theme of the story. Make sure any object that your character notices, owns, covets or otherwise needs is factored into your theme and not there simply for 'window dressing.' If you give a character a knife or if he just walks around carrying a bottle of air freshener, make sure it adds something to the story—whatever that might be.
7. When selecting a theme for your
story (in other words, what your story is REALLY ABOUT), you can draw ideas from recent headlines or events and put your own twist on it. What lessons do your characters learn by the end of your story? Who changes? Who remains the same? Why? If you say that your story is about Justice, then give us your full take on that subject. Don’t hold back. Anything that makes your story stand up and above the rest will keep the judges reading. Make sure your point is clear.
1. Have an opening line or first
paragraph that reaches out and grabs the reader’s attention. Remember, in a contest, judges will typically only glance at the first few paragraphs. If the story is boring, they’ll set your entry aside and move on to the next. Experiment with opening lines, and keep in mind that the crazier and more fascinating they are, the better your chances are that the judges will keep on reading your story.
2. Make sure your first few pararaphs force the reader to ask questions about your story right away. In other words, make sure they’re asking, "Wow! What happens next?" Inject as much tension, conflict and/or suspense into it as you can. This is called a ‘hook.’ Make sure it’s nice and sharp. 3. Make sure your characters are as close to living and breathing people as you can make them. Give them mannerisms, unique personality quirks, an interesting relative or spouse. Make sure your dialogue reveals much more than just simple conversation. Remember in stories, people only speak to reveal two things: A.,
8. Make sure your submission has
an ending that an everyday person can understand. It need not necessarily be a "happy" ending but it should make a concrete point.
9. Pay heed to the contest’s word
limits. Don’t necessarily trust your word processor’s word counter, as they tend to underestimate true word count. For instance, if you have Word 2000 and your story’s word count comes to 2,000 words, cut it down by at least 250. Most reputable contests demand standard submission format of 25 lines per page, 250 words per page, double‐spaced. Check the contest’s submission guidelines and follow them to the letter.
6. When writing your story, check it multiple times for any story ambiguities (things that might not
W R I T E R ’ S B E A T A D V I C E
10. Last, but certainly not least,
check your work for typos, grammar errors and any loose ends left hanging in your story. Check also for clichés popping up in your narrative. If you find any, try twisting them into something new and fresh. If you’re not sure what’s cliché and what isn’t, have a friend look through it. A fresh set of eyes on your story can sometimes help point out things you might not ordinarily catch for yourself. Let the story ‘cool’ for a few days after
you’ve written it. Sometimes you can catch problems after you take a break from it for a little while. The Eleventh Rule is really only Common Sense. Before you send anything off to a contest, always be sure to check out the company that’s holding the competition and make sure they’re reputable. Most well‐known writers’ magazines hold contests and also have links to other reputable contests on their websites. An Editors and Preditors site will also have a list of ones best
to avoid. Most contests will charge a small fee for entry, but the fee should only be around $5.00 to $25.00 (US Dollars) or that equivalent in your country’s currency. Never pay more than that. Contests are a good way to get your work out there and get publishing credits. If you don’t win the first time, keep trying. Sooner or later you will win. Persistence and creativity always pays off in the end.
WHY DO YOU WANT TO BE A WRITER?
“Put it before them briefly so they will read it, clearly so they will appreciate it, picturesquely so they will remember it, and above all, accurately so they will be guided by its light.”
S ARCAZMO ANSWERS :
“I write because I need to tell a story. I don't do it for fame or fortune and I don't imagine doing book tours, I'm reticent, really. In person, I'm shy, I let others have the floor. On many levels, writing is difficult for me. I have to go in and face the same character's who've hurt me. I cry a lot when I write, I exhaust myself. So, when I write, I feel like I'm working very hard because I'm being so damn truthful and I know down deep, if I lie ‐‐ well, I can't, so I'm truthful when I'm writing and it's so, so painful sometimes. So writing isn't easy for me. Because it calls for reaching down, going deep and sometimes I'm scared.”
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JUST FOR FUN!
P ICTURE P R OMPT
Would you be able to write a story about the picture on the left? Imagine that the person is your friend; what would he be thinking?
C ROSSWORD P UZZLE
All the words you have to guess are novel names. They are all classic novels except for one. Below are the clues you have to follow in order to guess the words and eventually solve the crossword puzzle. Each clue has the number of its corresponding bar in the figure. Go ahead; prove to us that you are well‐read!
Down: Across: 1 Author: May 6 Author: Austen 2 Author: Ernest 10 Novel: 1984 3 Character: Heathcliff 11 Character: Watson 4 Animal: Whale 5 Author: Leo 7 Author: Dickens 8 Characteristic: Half‐Blood 9 Author: Charlotte
J U S T F O R F U N : P I C T U R E P R O M P T & C R O S S W O R D P U Z Z L E
22 Writer’s Beat COLUMNISTS & CONTRIBUTORS
HAKEEM D JILLIAN C MICHELLE B MRIDULA C TINA C
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1‐ Little Women 2‐ Old Man and the Sea 3‐ Wuthering Heights 4‐ Moby Dick 5‐ Anna Karenina 6‐ Northanger Quote answer: "Live like you will die tomorrow, learn like you will live forever." Mahatma Gandhi Crossword answers:
Abbey 7‐ A Tale of Two Cities 8‐ Harry Potter 9‐ Jane Eyre 10‐ Animal Farm 11‐ Sherlock Holmes
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