WRiTE CLUB - Skirmish #10

Before I get to the skirmish, first I'd like to toot my own horn and solicit some support...if you don't mind.  Misha Gericke over at My First Book  is hosting something called the Pay It Forward Awards, and yours truly has been nominated in the category of Unpublished Blogger With Awesome Writing Style. Although I'd love to have an agent call to offer representation and a book deal before tomorrow (deadline for voting) and therefore disqualifying me from the competition, but since I don't think that's going to happen this would be a close second. If you have a moment drop by Misha's blog and vote.  There are seven categories in all, and some dynamite bloggers who need your support.

Now back to the matter at hand.  This week I'm doing a skirmish today instead of Friday because I'm taking part in the BACK TO THE FUTURE blogfest on March 1.  :)

Continuing with the anonymous writing samples of contestants not lucky enough to be chosen for WRiTE CLUB 2012, despite the absence of prizes, or further advancement beyond this one bout, there is still plenty to be gained…and learned from all of you.

This week it's Ima Lil Ryder turn in the ring.  Here is their 497 word submission.




“All right, then, Jake … the girls and I are getting out of here. Slim says he wants to stay. Why that is, I sure don’t know. YOU should be lying down, taking it easy, after what happened last night. I just can’t watch this. You are driving my blood pressure through the roof!” Roz Billings heaved herself up into the old Ford Falcon bus, slammed the door and gunned the engine. Jake watched as she and the girls bounced down the lane in a cloud of red dirt, heading to the main road.

Jake Billings was digging a hole in the back yard of his cottage on the north shore of the Island. He was keeping time to the throbbing behind his eyes, trying to ignore his horribly queasy stomach and the stench of his sweat. He could not believe the magnitude of this hangover. His head felt as though any bit of healthy brain tissue had been replaced by grimy cotton wadding and what should have been a pulse delivering blood to all the structures housed in his cranium had become an internal kettle drum. It didn’t help that he was also diabetic. The previous night’s revelries had almost killed him, he knew Roz had stayed awake after the guests left to make sure he did not lapse into a coma. Roz was not a drinker and Jake still wondered how on earth she ended up marrying into his big, loud, alcoholic family—but he was grateful for her life-saving ministrations over the years. It was a pity she was so anxious all the time. She wasn’t wearing it too well, either. It was pretty damn alarming how that kind of thing could ruin a woman’s looks. Then he felt his upper lip flap against his gums where his dentures should have been, and his black mood darkened considerably.

The evening before had been filled with the promise of the best party of the summer. Jake had just bottled his last batch of malt beer and the brown frosty bottles were sitting in washtubs, packed in ice sent up from the docks. Roz spent the day working her magic with the blueberries the kids had picked. Two beautiful pies and a huge blueberry buckle sat on the oilskin tablecloth. Roz was cheerful, and Jake looked at her relaxed face and remembered the dark beauty she had been. Extending hospitality made her happy. In addition to the blueberry concoctions, Jake and the kids had gone clamming across the Island earlier in the day when the tide on the south side was at dead low. The steamers they brought back were now in the big, black speckled steaming pot on the stove, waiting for the heat. The furniture was out on the lawn, with the exception of a couple of benches and straight back chairs, so tired dancers could set a bit. They were ready for the guests to arrive.

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And in the other corner, checking in with 495 words, is Captain Chicken Liver.



Lara clenched her hands in the thin blanket beneath her as the Potentate appeared behind the slave. She fought to suppress her emotions as he scanned each child with a smile on his handsome face. The tension, thick enough to suffocate, increased as the evil one’s steps echoed among the stones of the room. The Potentate searched each child as if looking for something specific, passing by the girls, but stopping to inspect each boy with interest. His gaze fell on her brother’s dark head and Lara’s gut clenched.

“How old are you, my son?”

Her brother swallowed. “Twelve.”

The Potentate’s eyes darkened in satisfaction. “Perfect.”

A keening sound filled the room as the mute moved to place the chains around her brother’s ankles and wrists. Lara realized it came from her as the Potentate’s gaze landed on her.

In a voice as warm as maple syrup on freshly made sweet cakes. “Your resemblance to my chosen one says that you must be siblings. Do not let my choice sadden you.” His eyes abandoned her to feast on the handsome face of her brother. “If he satisfies me, I’ll skip this room for the next, allowing those here a reprieve.” The dark one lifted an eyebrow at her brother. “You will satisfy me, will you not?”

She shook her head as her brother glanced at her. Her voice burst out in a ragged whisper. “No!”

Her brother, unblinking, nodded. “Remember who you are, sister.” He returned his gaze to the smiling Potentate. “If you’ll leave this room for last, I will do my best to satisfy you.”

The dark one’s smile stretched wider across his face as he turned and disappeared through the door. Lara longed to reach out and wrap herself around her brother, but he pinned her to her bed with a hard look. “Remember who you are. Let my sacrifice count for something. Never lose hope. Never.”

Lara nodded as silent tears dripped off her chin into her lap. The mute pulled her brother out of the room. Before the mute pulled the door closed, she locked her eyes with her brother’s, pulled her shoulders back, and lifted her chin. She formed the symbol of her house with her right hand, kissed it, and placed it over her heart. Her brother nodded as the mute closed the door, taking him forever from her sight.

Lara stared at the door without blinking until her eyes began to burn. Her brother’s words circled around in her head until she stood and moved to the door. The others glanced at each other as she used her fingernail to make a notch in the wood across the day’s mark. She turned to face the room, meeting each set of eyes that watched her, then once again walked from one end of the room to the other. Her brother’s sacrifice would not be a waste. She was Lady Lara Wann and a Wannn ever gave up. Never.
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You know the drill. Got a second to help these writers out by telling them which one resonates with you the most? And Why? Leave your vote (and a brief critique if you have time) in the comments below.

See you back here at the ring again next week!

 

18 comments

  1. Captain Chicken Liver got my literary taste buds salivating. Potentate? Gotta love a story with a potentate. LOve an edgy story.

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  2. I'm headed to vote now. (Though I'd love to see you disqualified too!)

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  3. Voted for you Don :) As for these entries ... I'm not really in *love* with either of them, but between the two, I'd go for the second one. The first one had too much telling rather than showing for my tastes.

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  4. Ooh I loved the second one! Great emotion and intrigued me. I'd like to read more!

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  5. I thought both these entries showed a lot of skill, though in different areas...
    Ima-- The details in this piece are incredible. Every image is clear and original, and I can see and smell and taste that world. I'm sensing some good humor to come, and I love how it's balanced against the pathos, especially with the way the mc sees Roz. It can be hard to follow, or really get into, a piece that begins with this amount of backstory (well, especially when you only have 500 words to judge, and we can't see how quickly we'll get into the action). And (this may be a matter of personal taste) I think varying your paragraph length--so we have some shorter blocks and some longer--also helps the reader get into the flow.
    Captain--your piece excelled at flow and pacing, but I felt it lacked the originality of description that we saw in the first piece. Some of the sentences and dialogue felt cliche... With a world that is so clearly well-imagined, a few really unique descriptions would pull us in and make us feel part of it. Unfortunately, the one really good description ("In a voice as warm as maple syrup on freshly made sweet cakes") is an incomplete sentence, so I'm afraid it pulled me even more out of things.
    My vote is for Ima Lil Ryder.

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  6. Captain Chicken Liver's scene showed skill at weaving inner thoughts, actions, and dialogue all together into a fine scene. However, I was thrown a little bit at first few lines - did the Potentate walk behind the "slaves" plural or the "slave" singular as it's written here? Plus, I wanted to know how her brother thought she could actually use the time he's bought her with his sacrifice.

    Ima's scene started in one point, when through a thought process and then headed into backstory. For some reason that pacing just didn't sit well with me. I would rather see backstory woven into his thoughts and actions. Plus, his mood darkened and then he thought of something pleasant and that transition was tough for me. Maybe in a novel or longer story this wouldn't bother me, but in the short space, I had a harder time with the pacing. The characters here are really intriguing and I would like to know more.

    My vote is for the Captain today.

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  7. The second story caught my interest but I found the writing stiff. My vote goes to Ima Lil Ryder.

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  8. Oh, and I already voted for you, DL.

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  9. Loved Ima's description of a hangover, but CCL really gave me the creeps in a good way. I wanted to read on.

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  10. The writing is good in the 1st one, but I was a little turned off by the characters (sorry!). In the 2nd, the creepy mood is well done.

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  11. Neither of these were well written, but Ryder's was better.

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  12. These are both good pieces, imo. I love the imagery in the first, esp. the description of how his head feels hungover - that was perfect and funny. And I would've liked a piece of that blueberry buckle, yum! However, the pace was very slow; it didn't feel like anything was happening. I like the pace and the emotional pull of the second; the author immediately gives a character to care about. I feel vengeance coming in this piece (hopefully the satisfying kind), but I've also seen this sort of scenario done before. Hard to choose between them.

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  13. This is a tough one. Great imagery in the first one (ouch, my aching head), but it may be be just a tad too much!! The second one is heart-wrenching to imagine. Would have liked to have known genres here, would have helped me understand why maybe the dialogue in the second seemed a bit stilted.

    If I had to choose, I'd say the second one.

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  14. Congrats for being nominated!

    And I vote for the second one (CCL). It moved quicker than the descriptive one.

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  15. I've read them both twice now, and still can't decide. The first one is so rich in detail, while the second one has a very engaging dialog. I enjoyed them both.

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  16. I prefer the second one. It had a better flow.

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  17. I'm going with the second one. Tough choice, though!

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