WRiTE CLUB - The Final Match


Welcome to the first meeting of WRiTE CLUB. Those simple words began my little blogging experiment back on October 23, 2011 and here we are almost five months later about to crown us a champion.  It's been a typical ride, complete with ups and downs, wrong-turns and detours, and some truly amazing scenery along the way.  But whatever path this trip has taken has been shaped by the talent of great writers and your unending participation.  Thank you for recognizing the potential in what I was trying to do here and keeping the gas tank filled.  I'd like to see every generation of WRiTE CLUB be bigger and better than the previous, but that can only happen if we extend our presence to the farthest reaches of the blogosphere, every nook and cranny, and get people talking about...what they're not supposed to be talking about. :)

And one of the things they're NOT going to be talking about is the battle about to be waged here today.  Standing before you now are two remarkable WRiTER's, both with something to prove...that they deserve to be the first ever WRiTE CLUB Champion!  Remember, the WRiTE CLUB Champion will be awarded (apart from the nifty badge) a signed copy of UNTRACEBALE by Shelli Johannes-Wells, along with a query critique and/or one hour consultation with her about marketing or anything else. Shelli is a marketing whiz and picking her brain for an hour is certainly a prize to cherish. The contestants will pit their new 500 word sample against each other and leave it to you to decide their fate.  You will have all week to decide, so take your time, voting will close on noon, Sunday, March 18th.  Visit the WRiTE CLUB page and read back over their previous submissions to get a feel for their whole body of work if you like, but ultimately it comes down to today's piece.  There is only one voting restriction for this final round, you must be a follower of my blog.

Okay, enough of this stalling and dramatic build up.  Good luck to both WRiTER's!



Casey Brooks

You can’t hurry love, or so people say. But those people don’t have Cupid on speed dial.
Don’t get me wrong – being BFFs with Cupid isn’t all red and rosy. I mean, there are times I really wish my best friend could be there for me rather than the poor girl going through an emotional crisis and four boxes of Kleenex. All in all though, it does have its perks. Like how I get all the juicy gossip on Hollywood couples before the tabloids even get a whiff, or the fact that I’m the only girl in the world who doesn’t have to worry about going stag to junior prom. But there are three things you need to know about Cupid:

1.     She’s a girl. Yep, that’s right. In all honesty, can you picture a fat guy in a diaper getting all mushy gushy about true love and soul mates? I thought not.
2.     It’s a temporary position. Abby (the current Cupid) has only had the job for a year and the gal before her only lasted four months. I guess you can only watch so many first kisses before you want to gag yourself with a heart-shaped spoon.
3.     The bow and arrow might not be real, but the magic sure is. Every month she can put fifty people on the road to true bliss, complete with glitter, red hearts and one of those fruity drinks with an umbrella in it—if she’s feeling particularly generous that day.

But I’ve been waiting sorta-patiently and now it’s my turn. I figured it wouldn’t be too hard to convince my best friend to hurry things up for me and Mr. Too-Gorgeous-For-Words who just moved in last week and is already the star quarterback and runner up for prom king. Talk about dreamboat.

But apparently Abby wasn’t on the same boat.

“You’re not supposed to hook up with Devin,” she said during study hall. “Besides, you’re going to fall hard for Sean in a couple weeks.”

Oh. No. She. Didn’t.

“Sean?” I put as much scorn into the name as I could without drawing the attention of Mr. Phipps. But he was too engrossed in Better Homes and Gardens to notice the scene I was putting on. “You can’t possibly mean the same Sean who once put bubblegum in my hair and used to wear the same Batman t-shirt every day for an entire year.”

“That was in second grade Jess, you’ll get over it.” Then she had the audacity to wink.

I can tell you now though, that was soooo not happening.


Anne Shirley


At 47, Ed Bowen thought love had surely passed him by.

He watched his friends marry and have children, shipping gifts to them overseas from wherever in the world he happened to be writing at the time. Each occasion reverberated in his mind like some alarm clock to which he was forever running late.

Years passed, and still no woman with cinnamon hair and eyes like the summer sky ever materialized.

But Gully did.

Ed hadn’t planned on getting a dog, having wandered into the animal shelter on a whim, but that had changed the moment he laid eyes on the shivering mutt.

“We’re grateful Gully will have a home,” the man had said. “Looks like his previous owners beat him pretty badly.”

“His name’s Gully?”

“He was found in a dumpster, on a copy of Gulliver’s Travels someone threw out.”

Ed didn’t consider himself superstitious, but this had been too clear a sign to ignore.

Gully came home that night. He refused to sleep on the blanket by the nightstand, where Ed’s own copy of Gulliver’s Travels permanently resided, choosing instead to crouch in the corner in muted misery.

It became a challenge, winning the dog’s trust. Perhaps, Ed thought, heart lifting whenever Gully approached without flinching, there are different kinds of love for each of us.

They began tentatively, progressing from small pats and sniffs to Gully waiting by the door, tail twitching when Ed came home. He still trembled at the sight of long, thin objects – from garden rakes to wooden spoons – but grew bolder, until the night Ed found the dog’s head resting on his knee. It felt like nothing had ever belonged to him more.

People smiled to see them playing in the park, inseparable as father and son. Ed began taking Gully with him on business trips. Together, they explored Canada, Greenland, Morocco – wherever his writing assignments took them.

It seemed that Ed learned something new about his pet’s personality every day, but it wasn’t until Gully began displaying a certain talent for sniffing out money that he became alarmed.

At first, it was spare change: pennies on the sidewalk, quarters under sofa cushions. Then it became dollar bills beneath a café table, twenties strewn in a parking lot, a hundred bucks in a battered wallet the cops said Ed could keep because no one ever came to claim it.

Each time, Gully wagged his tail with a self-satisfied expression. Aren’t you proud of me? he seemed to say.

And so it was that one day, on the shores of the Bahamas, Gully’s barking interrupted Ed in the middle of writing.

“What is it, boy? Can’t this wait?”

But Gully would not rest until Ed followed him to a tamarind grove, where – carved into a thick trunk – was an unmistakable X, with an arrow pointing down into the soil.

Ed looked down at his dog.

The dog looked back, wagging his tail.

34 comments

  1. They were both so good. I enjoyed the YA voice and snark in the first one, but my vote has to go to the second. Anne Shirley's piece pulled at my heartstrings and made me want to read more.

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  2. Anne Shirley ... in a heartbeat.
    Just like with her piece on the zombie wars, I was engaged from the beginning, surprised along the way, and utterly unhappy when the excerpt stopped *right there.* Didn't see that coming!

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  3. They are both good. But any story with a dog wins it for me. Second one.

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  4. Both are great reads, but I'm going to buck the trend here and go with number one. Great voice and pacing. I felt a little cheated with number two in how the author quickly skipped over the process of the terrified dog acclimating to his new surroundings. Maybe it's because I'm the owner of a previously abused dog myself. He took so much work, I guess I just wanted a bit more detail on their unfolding relationship and to know that it wasn't all roses after that first night.

    Having said that, I would like to read more of both.

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  5. For me it's no contest. The first one is by far my favorite. I let out an anguished groan when it was over. I wanted to keep reading. :(

    Awesome prizes. I'm currently reading Untraceable.

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  6. Oh yikes, these are two tough ones. I love them both, but I'm going to have to go for Anne.

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  7. I knew this would be hard. My vote is for Anne Shirley. :-)

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  8. Geez, I love Casey's premise and voice. Anne totally sucked me in.

    Pausing....

    Okay. I'm a sap. Going with Anne.

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  9. Both well done! (No surprise there... :))

    My vote will go to #2 because the twist at the end really pulled me in!

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  10. #2 Anne Shirley. Zombies, dogs, whatever this writer got me from the beginning.

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  11. Casey Brooks! And yes, that IS my final answer. LOVE the voice and the quirkiness and the idea of a girl cupid as a best friend. GREAT snippet. :)

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  12. I love reading new pieces from both writers. They're both so good!

    I was trying to put my finger on why I feel a little ... let down about Anne Shirley's writing, and I'll try to put it into words. With both the zombie piece and this one, I feel as if the writer is pulling gimmicks to suck the reader in. With the other piece, it was "Surprise! There's zombies!" With this one, we're supposed to immediately like the MC because the story involves a dog that he rescued from a shelter, which is supposed to pull at our heartstrings. So in both pieces, the reader gets that initial bond with the writing, but I think that upon a second reading, the pieces wouldn't be as interesting because the novelty wears off. I hope that makes sense.

    With Casey Brook's writing, I don't feel like this piece is as strong as the princess piece, though it still has some of that humor and voice. Though, there's less of that snark, which can be either a good thing or a bad thing.

    So, both pieces are really well written. In the end, I have to go with the one that I would read more of. I tend to read more YA and love stories, so my vote goes to Casey Brooks.

    Whew! Sorry for the long comment, just wanted to give my two cents.

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  13. My vote goes to Casey! The voice pulled me right in and made me want to read more. That, and I'm a sucker for love stories.

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  14. Ahh, you guys are both such great writers. I love both of these very much! I have to say, I do like the dog and the idea of the first one. What a great twist with the dog sniffing out money! It went from sappy "Marley & Me" to instantly interesting treasure quest! If it's more the latter, I'd be more interested.

    As it is, I'm a sucker for funny romance. Casey Brooks was crackin' me up.

    My vote's for #1--but BIG congrats to both! :o) <3

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  15. Although both were good, the first one pulled me in with the YA voice. Loved it!

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  16. I really liked them both, but I'm going to have to go with Anne. I loved her first piece and this one made me want to know what the dog found now. Congratulations to both the writers for getting this far.

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  17. This is tough because I enjoyed both pieces! Congrats to the writers for making it to the final round.

    Since I have to choose....

    My vote goes to Casey Brooks!

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  18. Tough, tough, tough. I read them this morning and had to think about it before I could vote. They are both good.

    But I must choose, so Casey Brooks gets my vote.

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  19. LOL; excellent entry's. I liked the voice of Casey's, and I'm a fan of sarcasm. Not so much of YA angst though and the story line here is beautifully written but predictable. The writing is excellent however, clean of technical error, with a steady flow. I'm sure this story will have some exciting twists. I already like that Cupid is not only a girl, but also a type of employment. Great concept.

    Ann Shirley has my vote. The story grabbed me right away, and each sentence added something more and unexpected to the character and overall story plots. I anticipate a unique adventure. boy am I ready for it.

    Well done to both contestants.

    .......dhole

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  20. Anne Shirley! But, congrats to both writers. The entries were both wonderful!

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  21. First of, a well-deserved "Congratulations!" to both writers.

    I've been thinking over both pieces, and it's interesting to me. Based on their original submissions, I'd have chosen Casey Brooks as the winner. But based on their new pieces, I'm going to go with Anne Shirley.

    I guess that means I like BOTH writers. ;^)

    Both are very good, but I have to lean towards Anne Shirley. I really like her new piece.

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  22. Both awesome entries! But I'm a YA girl at heart, so Number One really drew me in. My vote goes to Casey Brooks.

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  23. Hem and haw...hem and haw...

    I'm going to go with Casey. Loved the voice (but I like dogs too *sigh*)

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  24. Excellent move having the writers submit a new piece - getting more from these talented writers is a very nice treat for us loyal voters.

    So, I'm voting for Casey Brooks. Clever premise w/ Cupid as a BFF and the voice is wonderfully engaging. At the very beginning I was a little leery of so many cliche's piled on top of each other, but that seemed to melt away as the fun piece went on.

    Anne Shirley's read more like an outline of a great story than a story. Not enough showing, and although it all sounds interesting, I didn't connect with either the MC or the dog.

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  25. So glad I'm not too late! I loved both, but since I've been way into YA lately, I'm going to have to go with the first. Adorable. And I love the idea of cupid being real - and a teen at that. I never thought about writing a story like that!

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  26. This was really hard. I mean seriously. I love the Casey Brooks Snark, but Anne Shirley's new piece was fantastic as well.

    I think I'm going to go with Casey Brooks this time. Anne almost had me. Casey edged her out by the smallest of margins, that's purely subjective in nature.

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  27. This was tough! I read them both a couple days ago and couldn't decide so I came back today to read them again. I still love them both but I'm going to go with Casey Brooks

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  28. I went back and read all of the WRITE CLUB submissions. Some great stuff here.

    The first one was very YA, light and humorous, but didn't cover any ground that hadn't been covered already. The writing was solid and the voice was perfect for a teen. I also enjoyed Casey Brooks's first submissions too, which were very much along the same lines. More snark, humor, solid teen voice.

    However, my vote's going to #2 Anne, and I'll tell you why: she was the one who hooked me. I've been reading some of the comments from previous rounds and a lot of commenters use the word "gimmick," especially when talking about this particular writer. I have to say, what they call gimmicks is what I call a hook, and you gotta hook a reader to win their vote. All of Anne's pieces are strong and most importantly, diverse. She's got versatility and tries new and different things instead of sticking to the same thing.

    (Sorry for the essay!)

    Congrats to both writers!!! You guys have inspired me to try the next WRITE CLUB if it takes place again.

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  29. I loved Anne Shirley's piece, which was richer in description and smoother in fluency than the first offering. Both were strong, but my vote goes with the second.

    Hey, how ya doing? Thinking of you!

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  30. Ooh, this gets harder and harder each round. I'll vote for Anne Shirley!

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  31. Hats off to both contestants! But I'm voting for Casey... the voice was very hooking---just grabbed you & pulled you right into the story ;)

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  32. These were so good!! Congrats to both writers! Bravo!
    But I have to cast a vote and it goes to #1. The voice just pulled me in. :)

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  33. Both of these pieces are great. I'll vote for Casey Brooks because I love the concept of Cupid as a friend and how she wants her to fall for Sean - a boy she doesn't like. I would have bought this for my daughters.

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