WRiTE CLUB 2012 – Round 27

Baxter Talltree becomes our 24th entry into the play-off rounds.  Just a reminder that now might be a good time to refresh yourself with the all of the winners by checking out my WRiTE CLUB 2012 results page.

I wanted to take a moment to recognize a couple of milestones that occurred over the weekend.  First one was that my blog received its 100,000 page view sometime on Sunday.  I'm kind of proud of that fact.  When I started out in 2009 all I wanted to accomplish was to become relevant. I consider having a hundred thousand visitors stop by to at least take a look one indicator that I've achieved some measure of success in that regard. Thanks everyone.

The second milestone was that I typed THE END on my third book this weekend. It has been a MAJOR reason I've been off my regular routines lately (that and WRiTE CLUB) and I'm extremely proud of it.  Of course there is a round of revisions and edits in the near future for me, but for now I'm basking in its afterglow.    

How's that for a lead-in to literary brawl? :)




Here are this rounds randomly selected WRiTER's.

Standing in the far corner, weighing in at 496 words, please welcome to the ring……..Raven Claw.


A dog barked next door and Cole flattened himself into the shadows along the back of the old lady's house. His breath was ragged from climbing over the rickety fence at the rear of the weed-filled yard.  His lungs had been bothering him for weeks, and the stress only made things worse. He tightened a sweaty grip on his crowbar, silently cursing the dog's insistent yapping.

A door clattered open beyond the fence and a gruff voice yelled at the dog to shut the hell up and get its stupid ass inside.  The dog stopped barking, the door slammed shut, and silence returned to the shabby neighborhood. Cole exhaled, gasping.  He moved to the back entrance of the old broad's home, slid the crowbar into the jamb, and pried.  The weathered wood gave easily and the door popped open with only a muffled crack.

He stepped inside to a tiny kitchen with appliances that might have been new when his grandfather was a boy. The room was tidy but dusty, showing little sign of use.  There was a dim, flickering light coming from the next room and Cole crept towards it.  There the woman lay sleeping on a sofa, curled up under a crocheted blanket.  An ancient console TV flashed with the sound off.

Cole smiled. This was too easy.

He raised the crowbar and moved closer.

             
#  #  #


Kali heard the back door crack open and swore to herself.  She should have moved on several days ago, after the neighbor kid said hello to her while she was on her porch.  That had told her the warding spell was weakening.

But she'd been reluctant to leave.  This was such a good spot.  Here in the heart of the city's seediest neighborhood she could hunt at will; just an unnoticed old lady in a neglected house.

But no longer.

Now someone was stalking her.

She shifted under the blanket and pulled her sword close, feeling the heat radiating from it.  The soft steps and ragged breath from the kitchen were clearly human, but her glowing blade signaled the presence of the Shu'leth. The man's heaving gasps likely meant he had the tendrils spreading within him, and might already be fully possessed.

He came next to the sofa and Kali sprang up, slashing out with the sword.  A sharp sizzle of flesh was followed by a thud as the crowbar hit the floor, still clutched in the man's twitching hand.  He shrieked and jumped back, grabbing the smoldering stump of his arm with his other hand.

She revoked the remnants of the warding spell and stood before the man in her natural form.  She might be long removed from the childhood she'd spent in decayed neighborhoods much like this one, but it would still be many decades before she became the feeble crone she'd appeared to be.  The man gaped at her.

Kali smiled.  This would be a mercy.

She raised the sword and moved closer.

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


And in the other corner, weighing in at 492 words, let me introduce to you ……..M.D. Lorde.


A streak of moonlight illuminated Aidan’s split, swollen lip as he stuffed a pair of jeans and a few t-shirts into a beat-up old backpack.
 
A massive shadow inched it’s way through the open door, consuming the wood-planked floor, the worn berber rug, and a rickety metal twin bed pushed against the wall.
 
Sharp angles created a isosceles triangle in the center of the room as heavy breathing hummed within its darkness.
 
Aidan held his breath and turned. A drop of blood splashed onto his white trainer.
 
A glint of light lit the half-hidden face of his father. He sucked in a raspy breath through gritted teeth as the musculature of his arm twisted a trembling hand that swirled a tumbler. Ice clinked and the amber liquid danced inside its glass prison.
 
“And where do you think you’re going, sonny boy?”
 
The words rend through Aidan like a jagged knife. An invisible drummer beat the inside walls of his chest.
 
Aidan planted his feet, stood tall, and stared into his father’s fathomless eyes.
 
“No more, Dad. It ends tonight.”
 
A car’s headlights blazed through the open window shining on a set of perfect, white teeth outlined by the thinest of lips. “It ends when I say it ends,” the husky voice slurred. “Remember, I own you.”
 
The Captain pulled up to a substantial height as muscles tensed and rippled under his  Marine uniform.
 
He lunged. Glass shattered from the tumbler. Thick, mitt-like fingers strangled Aidan’s throat.
 
Sinking to the floor, his mind clouded from the smell of scotch and sweat mixed with Old Spice.
 
Aidan gasped and attempted to free himself from the viselike hold.
 
“Good night, sonny boy,” his father said, as he tightened his grip.
 
Aidan’s convulsing hands dropped and slammed against the floor.
 
As the final seconds of his life slipped away, Aidan focused his remaining energy to move his arm under the bed. Stretching his fingers, shaky nails dug into the smooth ridges of a rounded object. He slid it closer, gripped the handle, and flung his arm upward, cracking the back of his father’s head with a baseball bat.
 
Blood splattered against wall. The Captain howled, releasing his grip.
 
Aidan’s rusty 1985 Chevy pick up wheezed its way through the foothills of the Roundeli mountains. Images of his father’s bashed in head flashed through his mind. The truck jerked to the left barely missing a boulder.
 
“Get a grip, Aidan — but I’m — I’m a murderer,” escaped from his quivering lips. “It was self defense! That psycho tried to kill me,” he burst out.
 
Aidan heard his words echo back to him, but he still couldn’t erase the grisly scene from his mind.
 
Onward and upward the truck snaked along the silent, pitch-black mountain road. On one or two rare occasions the crescent moon peeked though the dense trees, providing a glimmer of light, a glimmer of hope.

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


As always, anyone can vote, you just have to make sure you’ve first signed up on the Linky List found at the link provided by clicking on the badge below.  Please tell your friends about WRiTE CLUB also.  The voting will remain open until noon next Tuesday.

Remember, here in WRiTE CLUB, it’s not about the last man/woman standing, it’s about who knocks the audience out!
 

39 comments

  1. Congrats, DL!! That's fab you finished your 3rd story! What a great feeling, eh?? Be sure to celebrate!
    I'm voting for Raven Claw. Both were good, but I connected more to the characters in Raven's. :)

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  2. This was a really tough decision as both entries kept my attention and I wanted to read more.

    I'm voting for Raven Claw. It was a very interesting premise.

    Congrats on your milestones DL! Very impressive.

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  3. And congratulations on both milestones but especially THE END! So exciting!

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  4. I think they were pretty close on a level, but for writing I'm going to go with M. D. Lorde

    Congrats on your milestones!

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  5. Congratulations, DL!
    These two are very close. Going with Raven Claw though.

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  6. DL, great news! Congrats on finishing the third book--yes, you must be soaring, and well-earned, too :) Many, many more.

    These entries were both good, but my vote goes to Raven Claw (even though I'm not much for fantasy). The writing's clean, the descriptions realistic, the characters engaging. M.D. Lorde's had a typo ("it's" instead of "its") that, as the grammar nerd I am, turned me off pretty early on. I also found some of the descriptions a bit convoluted--like "glass exploding from the tumbler", which makes it sound as if the tumbler contained glass instead of scotch or whatever. The internal thoughts at the end, presented as dialogue, seemed stiff and a bit contrived. The concept is good, but the writing needs work.

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  7. Congratulations, DL! So happy for you.

    My vote goes to Raven Claw. I thought it was the better written piece.

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  8. First and foremost,CONGRATULATIONS DL for all the hits to your blog and for getting your 3rd book done! Awesome. Hope there'll be many many more to come. Now, I need to go back up and read the entries. (:

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    1. Ok, I'm back. Both were great but I'm going with Raven Claw today, I like the twist and change of POV.

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  9. They were all fun and exciting to read. I'll have to vote for Raven Claw, though.

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  10. Congratulations, DL, on completing your third book. That is a big deal.

    I have to be honest and say I'm reading the entries a bit dispassionately, this morning. I'm so sorry. I couldn't quite make it through either and they both felt similar to me. I've read every story in every round and voted and/or commented on all but a couple of the very first rounds and the one in which my own entry lost. I'll try to be back on Wednesday and I offer my sincere apologies on the mild burnout I seem to be experiencing. Best of luck to both writers. It's tough having your number come up this late in the game.

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  11. Congratulations on finishing the draft of your book, DL!!!! That is freaking awesome! Well done!

    So on to the voting...

    This is one of those rounds where I like both entries.

    Raven Claw squeezes in a LOT in those 500 words -- two scenes, two PoV characters, a home-invasion, an old-lady who's not an old lady, a weakening "warding spell", the "Shu'leth" and their tendrils "possessing" the man, and the action of a surprise defensive attack by Kali with her glowing sword. I think this could probably be spread out a little more, but yet I never felt overwhelmed by the reading. The writing is smooth and flows very well, and I like the way the scenes echo each other -- both characters start in hiding and silently cursing, and then the two final lines of each scene mirror each other nicely. I might quibble about a few things (like how did Cole "exhaled, gasping"? They don't work together, I think), but overall this is a very solid entry.

    M. D Lorde gives an emotion-filled scene, and I connected with the plight of Aidan. There is a lot of nice imagery, and action flows pretty well. Some of the phrasing gets a little overblown and clunky ("sucked in raspy breath through gritted teeth as the musculature of his arm twisted a trembling hand that swirled a tumbler"), and the transition from Aidan swinging the bat to driving away in the truck is a bit too sudden. But still, this is also a pretty solid piece.

    Honestly, I would have voted for either of these over some of the winners of earlier rounds, but since I can only choose one, I have to go with Raven Claw -- the writing's a little more streamlined and effective, I think.

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    1. "exhaled, gasping" jumped out at me too.

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  12. The first had the stronger writing but was far too predictable for me. I wasn't sure from the name if this was Kali Durga or if the name was just a coincidence.

    The second--the author needs to read it aloud, or listen to it read. The sentence structure could use some help and there are pieces that just stand out. "Sharp angles created a isosceles triangle" was the one that stood out the most to me, although there are others. Trying to create a scene, M.D. is using words that just don't fit in the story. Now if the triangle was softened by a sagging doorframe, it might be a different matter. Every word needs to support the mood you're trying to create.

    Predictable or not, Ravenclaw had the stronger writing so my vote goes there.

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  13. I have to go with Raven Claw.
    Aidan's story should have been engaging but was confusing and riddled with spelling and grammar errors.

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  14. Congrats DL on finishing your draft and the huge pageviews.

    Today I'm going Raven Claw just because the writing felt tighter. I enjoyed the second piece but I found it a bit wordy in places so parts were difficult to picture. Good luck writers.

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  15. My vote is for Raven Claw. The common wisdom warns against changing POV so quickly, but I have to say, I kind of liked it in this case. I'm wondering if the rest of the piece is sole POV or whether head-hopping persists. I suspect agents and editors are going to wonder that too. Otherwise, Chris & Lauren above already covered my other thoughts.

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  16. Don! You are a superstar!!! Major congrats on the 100K visits, and even MAJORer congrats on finishing your book! Here's to the afterglow.

    OK, now for the voting. Hmm... wow. I thought both of these were very descriptive and strong and well written. Since it's WRiTE CLUB, I can only pick one, and the one I wanted to keep reading was the first. My vote's for Raven Claw! I really liked the bait and switch in there. Who to root for? I have to know! :o) <3

    Best to both writers! You're both very talented.

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  17. Congratulations, DL, on your pageviews and the completion of your book! I'm in the wild throes of edits as we speak. I definitely prefer writes to rewrites.

    My votes today goes to Raven Claw.

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  18. Raven Claw gets my vote. The writing was solid, smooth, and had a good voice to it. And Kali? As in Kali the Destroyer? I would definitely want to read more of this!

    M.D. Lorde had some vivid images, but overall the short paragraphs and too-similar sentence structures made for a choppy feel to the narrative. Some revising and smoothing would go a long way to improve this piece!

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  19. I'm going with Raven Claw. Both were interesting but I felt the writing simply flowed better in the first piece.

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  20. Way to go DL! :)

    My vote goes to #1. I thought it wouldn't for a start because I worried we'd be in the villain's pov for the whole story - but the switch worked for me. (Not sure how an agent/publisher would feel about giving a pov to someone for such a short section though) The story line pulled me in though!

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  21. I think this round, I'm going with #1. And, a big congrats for finishing your book. I think I already congratulate you on facebook but you can never have too many.

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  22. My vote goes to Raven. I liked the pov shift and I loved the twist at the end.

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  23. oh, and a big congrats to you DL for 100,000 visitors! Very cool!

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  24. My vote goes to Raven Claw, as well. I found it to be more compelling piece. (I also have a special affection for Kali the Destroyer.)

    And congrats, DL, on the many milestones.

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  25. Raven Claw. It was much better written and the story had me hooked.

    With MD I was interested in what was going on, but the way the sentences were broken up, the grammar and some of the imagery was very distracting.

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  26. Congrats on the milestones DL! I liked the writing style of MD better

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  27. Congrats on the milestones. :)

    My vote is for Raven Claw.

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  28. My vote goes to Raven Claw today. The stronger sense of story is what pulled me in. An observation: In the first scene, we get a hint that something is not quite right when Cole notes his lungs have been bothering him, but it's only a passing reference that he doesn't wonder about any further as he goes after his quarry. Then the Kali scene hints that the man's gasping breath indicates he may already be possessed by the Shu'leth. But it isn't clear if Cole is aware of why his lungs had been bothering him. if he isn't aware of his impending (or complete) possession, the first scene might be stronger if there was some confusion on Cole's part - just a tiny bit, to hint that his mind and actions may not be entirely his own. And if he is aware, perhaps a tiny hint of his being pleased that the transformation is progressing. Just a small tweak, I think, would clear that up for me as the reader.

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  29. I love both of these stories, but I'm voting Raven Claw as the writing was better in my opinion; there were a few errors in M. D. Lorde's piece, and it didn't flow as well for me.

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  30. DL, congrats on the 100,000 page views! AND on completing your third novel. That's an accomplishment.

    For this round, I have to go with Raven Claw (and not because it's another Harry Potter reference). Both of these pieces were shockingly violent and intriguing with some strong writing. But Raven Claw's flowed more smoothly for me. The pacing is excellent. Loved the plot twist and the change in POV (normally I wouldn't, but here it works beautifully).

    In M.D. Lorde's piece, mistakes like this bother me: inched it’s way, which others have mentioned, and The words rend through Aidan like a jagged knife. This sounds present tense to me in a piece that's all past tense. Did you mean to say the words "rent" through Aidan? I must add that I do love some of the sensory details and metaphors, like the amber liquid dancing inside its glass prison (gorgeous writing, that), but not the overwritten ones like the musculature of the arm. Basically, this piece is inconsistent compared to Raven Claw's.

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  31. Whoa, these are both a great way to usher in pre-Halloween creepies. Raven Claw has me in its clutches this time.

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  32. DL, Congrats on "The End" and on your blog traffic! I'm a lazy bookmarker, so I always google Write Club 2012 and it's now at the top of the search results! YOU ARE RELEVANT! And this contest is so much fun.

    I have to go today with Raven Claw. As has been mentioned in previous comments, it was a bit better written than the second offering, but just a bit. Both writers are talented wordsmiths and it didn't make for an easy Round.

    My only complaint is the "violence hook" or "promise of violence" hook for not just these writers, but for about 70% of everything we've seen so far. I also notice the same thing in my writer's group. We actually had a discussion last workshop about how many times a human being can hit his or her head while falling off a cliff and not wind up dead. Must be the times.

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  33. Raven Claw. Though I'm so tired of the supernatural.
    And tired of the violence in general.

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  34. Congratulations on THE END D.L.! Bask in the glory. :)

    I'm afraid I have to recuse myself form the vote this week as I know who one of the writers is and won't be able to be objective. Both great pieces though.

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