WRiTE CLUB 2015 - Final Thoughts




Even though the fifth year of WRiTE CLUB was the wooden anniversary, there was no dead wood here. Our first time partnering with the DFW Writers Conference was a successful one!  One hundred and seventy-one entries were received, exceeding 2014’s record and continuing to stress-out our preliminary judges.  We tweaked the format slightly, increased the number of contestants, shortened the time-span down to ten weeks, added some amazing prizes, and thanks to DFW…pushed WRiTE CLUB out of the shadows and into the spotlight.

However, the year wasn’t without its disappointments. In 2014, over the course of the contest there were 1,695 votes/comments, which averaged out to 45.4 votes per bout. This year, despite all of the changes I mentioned above, we only pulled in 1,470 total votes/comments, averaging just 35.8 per bout. I’m at a loss to explain the drop in participation. I worked harder this year than ever to get the word out, but obviously it didn’t work. I guess it just illustrates what I've always been saying...this contest only works if readers like you help spread me the word. I'm open to any and all idea's about how to do that next year.

The silver lining was that the level of competition continued to amaze, the lower numbers doing nothing to diminish that.

There was something else that disappointed me this year, and that was the problem we had with irregular voting. The fact that we allowed anonymous votes (which was added to satisfy a request for change) exacerbated the situation. WRiTE CLUB rules are clear. #2 - no solicitation of votes.  I have preached since day one that WRiTE CLUB is not a popularity contest, which is one of the reasons for pen names, so taking to the internet airwaves to ask for votes is not allowed. Ask people to vote - YES, ask them to vote a certain way - NO. I had to vary from the scheduled time-table to address the issue, but it should have never happened in the first place. Needless to say, that’s the first change to be installed for 2016 – no anonymous votes.

What other changes am I considering? I’m always striving to make WRiTE CLUB the best that it can be. And what is that exactly? First and foremost, WRiTE CLUB is an avenue for aspiring writers to gain feedback about their work in a fun and exhilarating way. To accomplish that I’m constantly tweaking the format to allow the maximum number of participants and keep it fresh and invigorating. For 2016, first change I’ll make is to add back the SAVE feature. This allowed voters to save a writer from elimination in the preliminary bouts (imagine going up against Commando Grace your first time out). Secondly, I’ll try and do a better job of explaining how to submit an entry, so my wife doesn’t have to work so hard. Third, speaking of entries – the number of entries you’ll be allowed to submit will be reduced to only two. Finally, you’ll probably see more cage matches featuring more than two combatants at a time.   

The DFW Writers Workshop, who hold the DFW Writers conference, has already set the dates for their 2016 conference. It’s going to be April 23-24 at the Fort Worth Convention Center and they have an AMAZING early-bird rate right now that is only good until August 18th. You need to seriously consider this conference for 2016…for no other reason that I will be there and we can hang together. :) That also means WRiTE CLUB will start accepting entries in January for a targeted February 15th start date – so start working on those submissions!

As I close things out this year, as I do every year, I'm asking for feedback.  What did you like? Not like? What would you like to see improved?

Hope to see you again next year! 

WRiTE CLUB 2015 - A Champion Crowned

 
The celebrity judges have spoken.  The winner of the 2015 version of WRiTE CLUB  - announced at the DFW Conference Saturday night - is:
Commando Grace
And now the moment many of who have been waiting for, the unveiling of just who our champion really is.  It is a pleasure to introduce to you Lisa Dunn…aka Commando Grace.  
 
 
Lisa is a homeschooling mother of four and an author for young adults. She took a break from her accustomed Fantasy genre to dabble in Contemporary YA for this years Write Club. She is currently working on edits for the final installment of a YA Fantasy trilogy published through Anaiah Press. Her first book, GRIT OF BERTH AND STONE, debuted in March 2015. Her second book, HEIR OF KORADIN, will be available August 4, 2015. Lisa looks forward to turning COMMANDO GRACE into a full length novel and is thankful for the encouragement and critique of this year’s Write Club participants. You may find her on Amazon (amazon.com/author/lisadunn), Twitter (@ScouterWife), and Facebook (Author Lisa Dunn). 
 
With her victory Lisa has won a $75 Amazon gift certificate, a three chapter critique from some WRiTE CLUB judges, and a free pass to the 2016 DFW Conference.
Our runner up...MissWriteNow...is none other than Amy Snead.   
 
 
 
Amy writes for and about young adults. When she’s not reading or writing, she’s substitute teaching, deciphering teen slang one hallway-drama session at a time. She lives in Oklahoma, surrounded by too much testosterone, compliments of her husband and three boys. This testosterone overload sometimes allows her to transform into a teenage boy, in her writing of course. Amy’s mortal enemy is the undercooked egg, and she’s nearly convinced the zombie apocalypse will become a real thing. Come say hi on Twitter (@Amy_Smead), she says hi right back. 
 
For being a finalist, Amy has also earned herself a $75 Amazon gift certificate.
 
Here is how the final voting broke down.  Unfortunately, I didn't receive votes back from all of the judges (agents not returning email - go figure!), but even without those votes we were able to determine a winner.
 
Allison Devereux - Commando Grace
Cheryl Pientka - Commando Grace
Christopher Rhodes - MissWriteNow
Dan Koboldt - Commando Grace
Dawn Frederick - MissWriteNow
Ella Kennen - na
Katelyn Detweiler - Commando Grace
Laura Maisano - Commando Grace
Lauren Oliver - na
Lydia Moed - Commando Grace
Marisa Corvisiero - na
Mark Hough - MissWriteNow
Michelle Johnson - Commando Grace
Russell Connor - Commando Grace
Sara B. Larson - Commando Grace
Sarah Negovetich - Commando Grace
Saritza Hernandez - na
Shannon Hassan - MissWriteNow
Tex Thompson - Commando Grace
Tiana Smith - Commando Grace
 
The critiques from our celebrity judges have been forwarded to Amy and Lisa, so lets hope they put them all to good use.
 
And there you have it.  Congratulations to both of our finalist, and a virtual high-five to Lisa for becoming the fifth member of an elite club - WRiTE CLUB champ. Looking forward to meeting you in person at next years DFW Conference to help us crown our next champion!
I want to again thank all 171 contestants who submitted their work for scrutiny this year, everyone who blogged, Tweeted, updated their Facebook status, or did whatever they could to spread the word about WRiTE CLUB so we could provide the exposure to these writers they so richly deserve, and finally I want to thank my wife Kim -- without who's support this contest would be impossible.
I'll be back Wednesday with a final few words and a 2015 wrap up.  See you then. 

Cherished Blogfest


The Cherished Blogfest is a creation of  Paul Ruddock, Peter Nena, Sharukh Bamboat, Tom Benson, Damyanti Ghosh and Dan Antion – inviting you to talk about one of your cherished objects. The way its supposed to work is you tell what it is, post a picture of it if you like, and tell everyone why you cherish it.
The idea is to keep your post to 500 words while sharing memories, emotions, information. Click on the link above to reveal the linky list with everyone else participating.
I chose to interrupt our march to the unveiling of a WRiTE CLUB champ (the winner will be unveiled Monday) because I connected with the idea behind this blogfest so much. I hope everyone will  abide me this minor detour.
Here is my cherished object.



Yes...my cherished object is my own bald head.  Let me explain.
When my wife was battling breast cancer 3 years ago and undergoing chemo, she lost all her hair. On the day that happened I marched down to our local barber and had all of my own hair shaved off.  If we were going to fight this disease together, it was only natural that we share in everything together (within reason of course). 
My wife kicked cancers ass and her hair has since grown back, but I remain follicle free. Why is that, you ask? Because every time I look in the mirror I like being reminded about what I have...what I almost lost...how hard we had to fight...and how that experience, as terrible as it was, brought us even closer together.  
I cherish the relationship with my wife, and what that has evolved into having overcome obstacles together. She may appear today as if the two years underneath cancers thumb never happened, but my bald head is still here to remind us both.
Bald is beautiful baby! :)
 


WRiTE CLUB 2015 - The Finals


This is where it all ends...with two writers...one ring...and a solitary crown. Who do you think will make an impression on the judges and be the one left standing? Here's an interesting note - last year all 12 of our preliminary judges included just one writer on all twelve ballots...and that writer ended up winning everything. This year 11 out of 12 judges included a single writer on each of their ballots...and that writer is in the finals. I wonder if our celebrity judges will agree with our preliminary judges...and you?
Let me start off by congratulating Commando Grace and MissWriteNow for surviving weeks of grueling competition and landing here in the final round. But additionally, every single writer who was brave enough to submit an entry to this contest also deserves a tip of the hat as well.  This is the part of WRiTE CLUB where...if you so desire...the masks come off.  I encourage everybody (except our finalist) who took place this year to use the comments below and let us meet the person behind the pen name.  I know there are a lot of fans who really want to find out more about you and your writing story.

I've already emailed our two finalist new 500 word writing sample to our panel of celebrity judges (forgot who they were? check out the list HERE) and their decision will be made known during the DFW Conference in Dallas on Saturday.  I'll also post the final results, along with any critiques the judges provides, next Monday (July 27th).  But that doesn't mean you don't get a say.  I've also posted their pieces below so you can have one final chance to vote.  If by some remarkable chance our judges come up with a split decision, your votes in the comments below will decide the tie-breaker.

I will be back after announcing the winner to post some takeaways from this season's WRiTE CLUB, and I'll also be asking for recommendations for what you'd like to see be different for next year. Make sure you stop by for that.

And now...for one last time this year....

In this corner, welcome to the ring our first finalist.....Commando Grace. Here are links to her original entry, her playoff entry, her quarterfinal entry and semifinal entry. This time she represents the Contemporary YA genre with 500 words.




I hate pooping when someone's in the shower, but sometimes a girl can't wait. It wouldn't be so bad if Pete would turn on the fan, but he always goes for the sauna effect. In a house with one functional bathroom, there has to be a penalty for taking thirty-minute showers. I bear down for the grand finale.

Behind the shower curtain, Pete chokes, gasping as if hes run out of oxygen. My dear brothers melodramatics deserve a flush.

I yank my pants up and press the toilet handle. He screams like a cheerleader. The water stops, and he jerks the curtain aside. 

Are you trying to scald—” Trevor Langston glances at my unbuttoned jeans, then turns his head. Youre not Pete.

I drop the toilet lid, praying it wasnt a two-flusher. Neither are you.

He eyes the curtain like he wants to pull it closed again, but that isnt how we work. Hell stand there, dripping wet and sucking in his gut, until one of us backs down.

It wont be me. Why are you here?

Went for a run with Pete. If Id known I needed your permission to spend the night—”

Youre sleeping here?

Yeah, so maybe warn me before you stink up the bathroom again.He shifts his weight from one foot to the other. Water drips from his hair to his chest and continues down his abs. Its rude to stare, Grace.

I hate to revisit the whole skinny-dipping fiasco, but I wont have Trevor thinking I like the view. Were even now. In case you forgot, you saw me naked first.” 

I only caught a peek.He clenches his fists. It must take all his willpower not to cover himself.

Relax. Six brothers, and Pete still does the nakey-dance after most of his showers. You dont have anything I havent seen.Its true, but its also a lie. Im not sure what the difference is, except that Trevor isnt my brother. Youre an only child, arent you?

Yeah, so?

Hes probably never been naked in front of a girl, sister or otherwise. Its not a fair fight. So, I was looking at your quads.

He looks down. My quads?

Forget it.This is awkward enough without me saying idiotic things. I turn to wash my hands.

Trevors eyes meet mine in the mirror. His voice trembles. Could you at least hand me a towel?

I pull the only one off the rack. Take mine.

Disney princesses?He raises an eyebrow, but wastes no time securing my towel around his hips.

When your childhood consists of boys stealing your towel, you make peace with Cinderella. If Pete catches you, tell him hes still not allowed to touch her.

I open the door just as Pete knocks. I stumble backward into Trevor. His hands grip my waist to steady me.

Dude, thats my sister!As Trevors towel slips to the floor, Pete shakes his head at me. You let him touch Cinderella?

************************************************************************


And in the far corner our other finalist, let me re-introduce.... MissWriteNow. Here are links to her original entry, her playoff entry, her quarterfinal entry and semifinal entry. Again she represents the YA Post-Apocalyptic genre with 495 words.




No mom or dad. No electricity. No cell phone. I ate the last chocolate bar two minutes ago. And this stupid pandemic is to blame. Too bad the virus failed to comprehend the Destroy PMS memo I sent last month.

“There has to be some Midol left,” I say to Pork Chop.

He snorts and knocks a row of toilet cleaner from a shelf with his big ass. He could care less about my female complaints, so long as I keep him stocked with rotten vegetables and a soggy mud hole. Bet he’d change his attitude real quick if he had a uterus.

I walk the medicine isle, reading random bottles in hopes something will dull the pain. “It’s no use,” I say. “We’ll have to search the homes.” Pork Chop flops across the warm linoleum. “No time for a nap, jerk! Get up. Let’s get this done.”

Two ovary-cramping blocks later, we land on Jefferson Avenue. I move toward Jana’s grandparents’ home, in hopes they kept their granddaughter well-stocked with cramping medicine. It’s worth a shot, because my lady organs can’t take much more walking.

I reach for the doorknob. My belly does this weird flip, like I’m breaking the law or something, even though I know the owners are dead and buried and they don’t need anything in here. Besides, there’s no law anymore.

Sun beats through lace curtains in the living room. Even after all these months, the house still smells like a gingerbread man on Christmas Eve. It’s sort of nice. If it wasn’t so far from the creek and the garden, I’d totally bunk here.

Pork Chop makes himself at home, jamming his nose into everything and anything. He budges a cabinet door open, sending a dozen old records across the floor. One slips from its cardboard sleeve, thumping against brown carpet, and landing face up. It reads, Bee Gees: Greatest.

“Ever heard of the Bee Gees?” I ask Pork Chop. He shoves his snout deeper in the pile of records. “Yeah, me neither. Let’s get to know them, shall we?”

Examining the player, my summer with Aunt Linda floods back—antique stores and too much boredom for anyone’s good. But I’m thankful I can use the old thing.

Black vinyl steadied, I use the side handle, cranking like it’ll produce Midol the faster I go. Fat chance of that happening. But hey, a girl can wish.

Cross legged in the floor, I listen. Music sprinkles the air and tickles someplace in me I forgot I had, forgot existed.

By the second chorus, I’m on my feet, singing along. “Feel the city breakin’ and everybody shakin’. And we’re stayin’ alive, stayin’ alive. Ah, ha, ha, ha, stayin’ alive, stayin’ alive.”

My ratty hair bounces as I dance. Pork Chop’s tail wiggles harder the louder I sing and the crazier I move. He looks happy. And I feel happy.

I lean my head back and yell, “Suck a fat one, PMS!” 
************************************************************************


Has anybody forgotten the WRiTE CLUB motto?  It’s not about the last man/woman standing, this is the contest where the audience gets clobbered!
 
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