Sorry, I couldn’t help it. I had to brag some more. Above is the logo awarded to the winners. So proud of myself 🙂
Sorry, I couldn’t help it. I had to brag some more. Above is the logo awarded to the winners. So proud of myself 🙂
Sorry, this isn’t a true story! No drama in the family at the moment. Well, there is, but not sisterly love drama. It’s not my drama, so sorry to disappoint you again, can’t tell. Not to worry, though! I wrote a piece for the writers’ club and it was well received, so I’m going to share it with you. I will put it up in the Short Story section for later reference, but to make it easier for you, I’ll just paste it here. As it plays on the Isle of Skye, I’ve written it in UK English. Let me know what you think if it.
(Keywords: Spoon, Make-Up artist, Isle of Skye, Envy)
There they stood, all happy and shining. My sister and her groom. The wedding of the century they called it. Probably true. Who else was going to get married here, in the middle of fucking nowhere? The Isle of Fucking Skye; God’s place to torment innocent souls. Right now the rain lashed the town hall as if it wanted to break up the wedding reception inside. The wind was driving it on, howling along with it. It was probably crying with me on this worst day of my life.
My aunt, sitting next to me, had told me to suck it up, to get over my envy. She stopped my hand tapping the dessert spoon on the edge of the table. What did she know? Suck it up. My soulless sister had ruined it all, ruined my life, my happiness. Yet everybody was smiling at her, applauding her words as she gave her speech. I bet she didn’t mention how she stole my love away like the conniving bitch that she was. She flashed her pearly white teeth as the lies continued to pour from her mouth. She had always been the pretty one. From when we were toddlers, everybody had always been drawn to her. ‘She’s so cute,’ they’d say. ‘What a pretty smile you’ve got there,’ they’d croon. No one ever saw me standing there; Plane Jane with sleek, mousy-coloured hair and a face you would forget as soon as you blinked. Not her. Everybody remembered her. Was it her sky-blue eyes? The dimples in her cheeks as she smiled? She was beautiful, I couldn’t deny it. Still, Mum had organised a make-up artist to make her pretty today. As if she needed a fucking make-up artist for her flawless skin. She could make men drool with her looks after she had been boozing all night and having a mother of a hangover. Whatever it was she had, it stole my love from me and she knew it.
It was two years ago that I met him. He was a cousin of the vicar and had come to Skye to help rebuild the church. How handsome he was and how handy with all the tools. We had flirted and teased for weeks. Then, one night after going to the movies, he had kissed me. Me! I had been in seventh heaven. Mum had noticed my happiness and made me spill the beans. I then had to bring him over for dinner of course. That’s when my sister got her evil claws into him.
From the moment he saw her, he could only pay attention to her. After all we had shared, the fun, the flirting, the kiss, I suddenly was nothing, an empty space. He listened to every word she said, commented on every move she made, came to visit her. They were always giggling and laughing, no doubt at the expense of me. Soon he was taking her to the movies, and kissing her.
My aunt looked annoyed at me as I had begun tapping the spoon on the table again. I ignored her. She should know better. She was an old spinster, older sister of my mother, and should know how it felt when your younger sister was getting married before you did. It just wasn’t done. My sister, like my mother, had ignored the old tradition. She had taken no head to my complaints for getting married so soon. And to him. She fucking ignored me. Period. So much for sisterly love. Love. It was all a bunch of lies. It only caused grief and pain. My sister hurt me, deeply, and yet she didn’t give a shit. She had to marry the only man who had looked my way, the only man who had kissed me. And only because she could. She could get a thousand others to fall in love with her, yet she had to have the one that I wanted. She stole him from me just so she could hurt me.
All of a sudden I heard her say, “…and all because of my dear sister.” The words were dripping with honey, oozing with feigned love. They made my blood curl and sent shivers down my spine. The people ooh-ed and aah-ed at her words and turned towards me. They didn’t know that all she had done was hate me from the moment she was born. Nobody knew she had used every single word, action, and thought to hurt me, to make me feel miserable, worthless, and to be pitied. My rage welled up in me like lava in a volcano. No more!
I turned to her, my eyes blazing a fire from hell. I pulled back my hand and threw the spoon in her direction. It hit the dog that my cousin was playing with in front of the happy couple’s table. It yapped in surprise, which made my cousin jump up and fall backwards. He tried to keep his balance by holding on to the table cloth. The wedding cake began shifting as the cloth moved down the table. My love hastened to keep it in place. In his sudden, forceful dive, he slammed down on the edge of the plate holding the cutting knife. The knife flicked up towards his face. He brushed it away with his arm just in time, making it do a somersault high in the air. Lightning reflected off the sharp edge of the blade before it went on its downward course. As if with a purpose, the knife buried itself deep into my sister’s heartless chest. The room went quiet. My sister looked at her chest, then at me. She dropped to the floor with only a swishing of her silk, white dress. My love let go of the wedding cake. His eyes were on me.
Finally, I had his attention again.
Copyrighted (c) by Jacky Dahlhaus
Header image by Peter Clarkson from Unsplash
Wedding image by Luis Tosta from Unsplash
I had another session at the Meldrum Writers’ Club today and for it I wrote a lovely Christmassy story. I have added it under ‘my short stories’ in the tab at the top of the page. You can’t miss it, it’s called ‘Santa.’
Just in case you didn’t notice, I also added my story ‘The Curse’ there the week before. It’s a free interpretation of what happened to the slave ship ‘Trouvadore.’ I had some help from my good friend Bob Douglas for this as he is a far better sailor than I am (if you could ever call me that 🙂 ).
Get into the Christmas spirit and enjoy! In the mean time I’ll be diving into the books I promised all my author friends to read.
May your house be filled with laughter and your hearts filled with joy <3 .
This week I finished writing my script for the short we are filming in August. It is basically a short slasher movie, although it has more suspense than horror in it. It’s about a number of campers, who get decimated by something/somebody unknown (unknown until the end, where it is revealed what is happening of course). There is no gore in it (unfortunately), just a blood splatter on the camera in the end.
I contacted some actors and send them the script and divvied out the roles. As it is holiday time I haven’t had a reply from everybody yet, but two thirds of the roles are accounted for. One of the replies though had me gutted. It was literally like my heart was being cut out when I read it. Had I really been so uncaring and blunt in my writing?
I studied my script again and could see what this person was seeing. But only after I read my script though special glasses; negative glasses. When I put on my glasses, positive glasses, I saw that what I had written was doing good, not bad.
Nevertheless it was a blow to my confidence. Heaven knows I know how this feels and I certainly don’t wish it upon other people, and certainly not through my doing. But after lying awake for a couple of nights about it, I concluded that you just can’t please everybody all the time. Sometimes you just have to let go.
Life is too short to be serious all the time and we all have to accept who we are and what we can do with our lives. Sure, life seems hard when you are young and you think the world is a magical place and you don’t like people being not-perfect. But, hey, nobody is perfect and life sucks for different people in different ways. As my life is spanning nearly half a century now, I have met some very colourful people along the way. Some have had the luck of a happy life. Most, however, have not been so lucky and they all deal with it in their own way. Some waddle their whole life in their unhappiness, some jump out of bed every morning and turn the other cheek and move on. Who am I to say how they should handle things? I can’t even handle my own life…
So what have I learned from this episode? That life sucks, that life is what you make it, that you can’t please everybody, that life still goes on, and that I need to improve my scriptwriting 🙂
Have a Wonderful Writing Weekend!
Yesterday I was made happy with a dead sparrow again. I was contacted on Twitter by somebody who asked me if I wanted to write for Channillo. I had no idea what Channillo was, so I had to google it. Apparently it is an online company that distributes stories in serial form, i.e. little bits at a time, like Stephen King did with ‘The Green Mile.’ People can take a subscription and download a number of stories per month.
I thought this was an interesting idea, so I asked for more information. Within a few minutes I received an email back, a very kind email, saying how excited they were that I was interested and providing a link to find more information about the set up. And of course I clicked on it and read the info provided. It appeared that it sort of worked like Amazon; the more people download your stories, the more you earn. It wasn’t mentioned how much you would earn though, only that I would get 80% of the amount paid for my stories, an extremely generous amount in this kind of business. Lightbulbs started flashing. The only thing was that you would get paid once per month and that the minimum amount transferred was $50, a very large sum and for a reason I can’t think of. Next to that it said that before you got paid the processing fees would be deducted. I looked and I looked, but I couldn’t find how much these processing fees were.
So, getting a bit more iffy about the whole set up, I emailed them back, asking how much the processing fees were and how I would know how many people had downloaded my stories. Was there a tally on the site? Did they distribute the company’s monthly earnings? Not to my surprise they weren’t as fast with their reply as their initial contact. In fact, I am still waiting for an answer to my questions. Very bad communication skills. I hate that.
So again the (empty) promise of becoming rich and famous was crushed. It’s for the better though. I am too busy writing my short screenplay at the moment (which I hope to finish today) and I have plenty to do after that (like finally starting to re-write my books and write the third one, which I hope to have out before Halloween), after which I go into promotion mode until the end of the year. Busy, busy, busy!
This week I learned more about scriptwriting for the screen. As you may have read on Monday, I woke up at 4am that day and had this funny/horror short on my mind. It’s called ‘You Should Have,’ and can be found under the ‘My Short Stories’ heading at the top of my page. As I thought it would be an easy one to film, with my film group, I wrote it as a writer/director and included camera angles. I put in ‘angled’ and ‘from the side’ and ‘wide view.’
I happen to have chatted with a nice guy I met on FARG this week, named J.W. Wood, who also does some screenwriting. He lives all the way in Las Vegas, USA (not sure if there are any other Las Vegasses), but the world is a small place nowadays. He was so kind to send me one of his older scripts he had written for a competition. I noticed that he put in different kind of camera directions. He used ‘fade in,’ ‘transition to,’ ‘p.o.v’ and ‘o.s.’ I had never heard of o.s. and I am assuming that it stands for ‘overhead/overheard sound.’ I have this book ‘The Complete Book of Scriptwriting’ by J.Michael Straczynski, but it doesn’t tell you what abbreviations are used (mind you, I haven’t finished reading it). J.W. advised me to buy another book, ‘The Screenwriter’s Bible’ by David Trotter, which I did. I haven’t got it yet, but I hope it has more basic stuff in it than in Straczynski’s book.
The biggest thing I learned though, was when J.W. reminded me that screen writing is action and dialogue only. No wishy-washy text about how people are feeling or the likes. That is so different from novel writing. Novel writing is all about emotion and feelings. It’s what attracts people to read it. With screenwriting you have to convey that emotion with only your dialogue and the actions of the actors. It’s like trying to dish up a five-course gourmet meal with only apples and bananas. I have a new respect for screenwriters!
Have a Happy Writing Weekend!
It’s been a while, but I’ve written a short story screenplay! I woke up at 4am and couldn’t get it out of my mind. It’s called ‘You Should Have” and you can find it under the short story section at the top of my page. I have moved all entries to show the last one first, so it should be easy for you to find.
I’m hoping we can film it with AFP this summer. Would be awesome!
I hope you like it…
Yesterday we had another meeting of my film group and have two project shoots planned for July now. I am so ready to go! Still a lot to be done.
I only have the outline of story No.2, so need to write dialogue, preferably before next week’s meeting. It’s a fun story about a camping trip gone bad, with a twist at the end. Can’t tell you much more about it though, got to keep up the suspense!
I also need to get the AFP website up and running, including the short that we filmed in March. We have a website up at the moment, but it doesn’t let us play a movie so I am working on fabricating a website from scratch. Steep learning curve!
Next to this I am still working hard to re-edit my first novel, so the first seventy pages are not just information without action. It’s a tough job, but it has to be done. My stick behind the door for that one is that I really, really like to re-launch my books with the new covers!
And I need to get writing on the last book of the trilogy, but I’m afraid that will have to wait until after July and we have done the filming.
Apart from this I need to organise carpet for my bedroom, put a second paint layer on the walls and paint the skirting boards, preferably before the carpet is put in.
I finally got the review of my short story ‘Choices’ back! Overall I’m quite happy with it. I don’t know the writer they are talking about (my daughter does), but the comments are agreeable. No mentioning of the carpenter though, which surprised me.
Dear Jacky Dahlhaus,
The feedback from the judges on your Short Story Challenge 2016 submission from 1st Round is below. We hope you find the feedback helpful and you enjoyed the competition!
”Choices” by Jacky Dahlhaus – WHAT THE JUDGE(S) LIKED ABOUT YOUR STORY –
…………Odd little story — I like that it’s told from such a strange POV. Very hard to pull off, but you do this well. Consistency throughout, and real tension/ drama. …………………………A compelling and unique way to incorporate all three contest elements. Nice dramatic tension……………………………….…………………………The story commits fully to the wolf perspective, with clear evidence of an attempt to get into a very different, even alien, point of view…….…………………………………………………………… WHAT THE JUDGE(S) FEEL NEEDS WORK – …………I think you handle this well from start to finish. There are places where the transitions to back-story need a little work — not always convincing, and sometimes a little predictable. Even so, this is a fun idea. I wonder if you know Michelle Paver’s Wolf Brother series? …………………………I felt able to predict the ending well before it occurred. I wonder about rejigging it a bit, to catch the reader by surprise. The final line, also, felt overly sentimental……………………………….…………………………While the language being simpler than a human’s makes sense, it feels child-like and innocent in a way that doesn’t fit the wild, rough life of the wolves. …………………………………………………………………
Just letting you know about my new short story called ‘Rick’. It is a story I wrote for Create50 and then forgot about it. I don’t think it’s good enough for a competition entry, but maybe a nice one to use for my film group.
You can find it in my list of short stories at the right-hand top of my page.
There is also one with an alternative ending; more horror (don’t worry, just a little bit).
Let me know what you think about it 🙂
I am sorry to inform you that my story ‘Choices’ has not been successful in the #NYC Midnight competition. To be honest I didn’t think it would and actually am glad I don’t have the pressure of writing these next few days. I have plenty on my plate and will not twiddle my thumbs! It was a good exercise though and can’t wait to have the review back. I guess the main critique will be that the ‘carpenter’ part of the story wasn’t strong enough. Time will tell…
I have entered a short story writing competition called ‘Create 50.’ You write a 2000 words story, enter for £5 and in return you read and review three other stories. It is a fun way of learning what other people think of your writing and learn about other people’s writing style.
This year’s theme is a repeat of last year’s, called ‘Twisted.’ It’s basically a horror theme. I entered a story I started to write after a scary dream I had and got stuck on the story line. The dream ended. But 2K words should do the trick. I got nice feedback already of fellow writers (thanks Scott, Christopher and Dan!). They were spot on that I actually intended to make this into a feature length novel and kind of rushed the end of my short story whilst starting very detailed. I will have to re-write the story to put more emphasis on the ending, where it matters.
I will, when I’m back behind my computer and not sitting in bed still, upload the first version and subsequent reviewed versions of my story, called ‘The Entity,’ in ‘My Other Ramblings’ at the top of my page, so you can follow my progress. I can only upload three drafts, so I have to make them count!