WRiTE CLUB 2013 Playoffs - Quarterfinals Bout #1


Today we begin the WRiTE CLUB quarterfinals...where we will narrow this list of contestants down from six to four.  There will be three bouts...on Mon - Tue - Thur...with our fighters randomly re-matched.  We will have three outright winners and one wildcard (the loser with the most votes), like we have in the two previous playoff rounds.  

The fighters who move into the semifinals will have the opportunity to "tweak" or edit their current submission based on the input voters have left for them.  Those "tweaked" submissions will go to battle in the semifinals, where only two will become finalist.  No wildcard in that round.

The two fighters who make it to the finals will be asked to once more submit new 500 word writing samples, and that will be what is forwarded to our celebrity judges. Of course I'll post them here on my blog for you to comment on, but it will be our judges who make the final selection.

Our writers are warmed up and biting at the bit, the crowd is at a frenzy pitch, lets get this bus moving!



Stepping into the near corner, please welcome back to the ring...Vampry14




Shrieking. Whistling. Screeching. Screaming. The cacophony fills my head, my eyes, my ears, my mouth. It’s like discovering the definition of sound as something that engages every sense. Except maybe touch. I can’t feel anything. I should feel something, right? I’m pretty sure I’m wrecking the car. It should hurt. Or maybe it’s over and I’m already dead? Crap. Those born-agains were right. I am going to hell.

But there’s light. So much light. White, and so bright it makes my eyes ache. Yet I can’t look away. So, I’m not dead? Maybe this is one of those near-death experiences people come back from and say they saw the light. I peer through it. Grandma? Poppa? Are you there? Are you going to beckon me toward you or send me back? Please send me back. I don’t want to die. Not at sixteen.

Then the light disappears. It doesn’t fade like the sunset, just snaps off, like a switch was flicked. Red and yellow blotches swim across my vision. I can’t see a thing. I have to get out of here though. The smell of gas fills my mouth and nose. I reach out, feeling through the blackness for the door handle. When I don’t find it, I fumble upward, searching for the window. I was driving, I know I was. Why can’t I find these things? They should be right here, within arm’s reach. Where are they? Where am I? A fine strand of panic threads through my chest. There’s something wrong here.

“Lainey?” My voice is thick, but it’s mine. She was with me, right? Oh, God. Did I kill her? Is that why she’s not answering? Her mom’ll have my balls. But no. I dropped her home. My head is heavy with fog. I can’t think straight. Must be the gas. Gas? Why can I smell gas? Did I nod off at the gas station or something? Or did I go and do something stupid with Caleb and his druggie friends? Huffing or something? No way. I’m in training. Training. I have practice at ten tomorrow. I gotta get home.

I haul my ass out of the seat. Or, I think I do. I don’t move though. This is getting freaky. I can’t see. I can’t move. I realize the noise is gone too; all that’s left is a low grinding sound. And some kind of whooshing that reminds me of the beach. The beach? I wish I was at the beach. It’s so hot in here. Someone, open a window. Sweat dribbles down the side of my face. I taste the salt on my tongue. Why aren’t I at the beach, where I could dive through the waves and cool off?

I want it so much I can feel it. The way the salt stings my eyes and burns any scratch on my skin. Burns. This hurts. It burns. Scalds. Sears. The sea shouldn’t be hot. Not like this. It hurts. It hurts. Oh, fuck it hurts.
**********************************************************************************************


And in the far corner, their willing opponent, making a fourth appearance....Alone



Thanksgiving 1972
Allison



The road led nowhere. Or so it seemed.

Darkness blanketed the trees along the lane as the truck’s headlights dressed the bottoms of them in its glow.

“Um…how much farther, Mister?” I searched his grizzly face, as his black emotionless eyes glared into mine. He smeared on a sly grin then focused back on the road.

It was that very smile that coaxed me into his car, promising me a ride to the nearest payphone to call a tow.

But now…the smile haunted me.

The man’s hand reached to my exposed leg. I flinched against my seat, inhaling. He stopped a moment, and redirected to turn the radio dials. He spun them left and right till Loretta Lynn bellowed through the speakers.

I exhaled, closing my eyes. “Um….”

“Soon, honey…soon.” He cooed through dried lips, turning the radio's volume up.

Out the window, I saw only black. No road signs or signs of life.

My stomach churned with regret.

“My-my parents are expecting me for Thanksgiving dinner anytime now so…at least they know I’m on this road, ya know?” I tried to sound as convincing as possible, while a nervous sweat escaped my pores. “I…um, called them from a payphone right before the car broke down. Maybe twenty miles before.”

The man broke his eyes from the road again, lingering them on me. His smile drew wider, exposing yellow, crooked teeth. “That’s good, honey…that’s good.”

Inching closer to the truck’s door, I found the handle, and rested my palm on it. My heartbeat echoed in my ears. God willing, I’d make the leap and jump out.

I checked the speedometer. Fifty-five. It’d be a hard fall, but it’d save my life.

In the distance, a green rectangular sign reflected back the next gas station to be fifteen miles away. A deep breath escaped me, calming my nerves.

Just a few more miles and I’d be safe again.

“See, honey? Almost there,” he comforted with a projected Cheshire grin. “Thirsty?”

I relaxed in my seat. It’d been hours since I’d had anything to eat or drink. “Yeah…yeah, I am.”

The man pulled a flask from his jacket’s inner pocket, unscrewing the top with one hand, and offered it to me. I paused, unsure of his motives, till a coercing frown emerged.

Just one sip. Enough to satisfy him, and my dry throat.

Just one.

Returning the top to the flask, wincing from the liquor’s strength, I handed it back coughing. “Thanks.”

“You’re welcome, honey,” he chuckled gruffly. “You’re welcome.”

The music continued playing in the background, then stopped.

Cops confirm the roadside snatcher is still on the loose. Repeat, roadside snatcher--”

He turned the radio off quickly.

“Mister.” My eyes grew heavy, head fogged. Glancing from the road to him was a blur of neon lines. “You’re….” Movements slowed, almost melting into each other. “You’re….” I felt myself dozing, unable to focus.

His haunting smile grew as he swerved hard down a dirt road. I saw black.
**********************************************************************************************

Please leave a vote in the comments section for the one who you believe deserves to move on. Voting for all three quarterfinal bouts will remain open until noon on Sunday, October 6th. Help me spread the word about what is happening here.  Anyone can still vote, as long as they register on the Linky List.

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

WRiTE CLUB 2013 Playoffs Round Two - Winners


Here are your WRiTE CLUB Round Two Winners for 2013:

 Alone
 
Jamie Stuart
 Muleshoe
Philangelus
Vampyr14


And the wildcard winner for this round, the one with the most votes amongst the losers, is:

 Imalie Teller

The quarterfinals begin tomorrow...where we will narrow this list down to four, the semifinals the week after that where only two will survive, and then the final match in front of our celebrity judges in week three.  Here is how it will play out.  

In the quarterfinals there will be three bouts...on Mon - Tue - Thur...with our fighters randomly re-matched.  We will have three outright winners and one wildcard.  The fighters who move into the semifinals will have the opportunity to "tweak" their current submission based on the input voters have left for them.  Those "tweaked" submissions will go to battle in the semifinals, where only two will become finalist.  No wildcard in this round.

The two fighters who make it to the finals will be asked to once more submit new 500 word writing samples, and that will be what is forwarded to our celebrity judges. Of course I'll post them here on my blog for you to comment on, but it will be our judges who make the final selection.

Cinch those seat belts!  See you back here tomorrow.

PS.  Please spread the word about what is happening here.  Anyone can still vote, as long as they register on the Linky List.

WRiTE CLUB 2013 Playoffs Round Two - Bout 5

Well, this is awkward.

After numerous failed attempts by my wife to reach MultaPaucis and receive a new 500 writing sample, we have no choice but to declare him/her a no-show for the bout and declare Vampyr14 a winner by default.

Why not use their previous submission?
Because this a writing contest...not a flash fiction contest...and the purpose of a new submission is to see if the contestants talent extends beyond just the one sample.

Why does Vampyr14 get to move on unopposed?
Luck of the draw.

This is the first time this has happened in WRiTE CLUB, and its disappointing, but we'll continue on.  The voting for the other four bouts will remain open until noon Sunday and then all of the winners for Round Two will be announced later that day.

DL

Guest Post - Alex J. Cavanaugh

We interrupt round two of the WRiTE CLUB play-offs for a very special occasion -- a guest post from the Blogfather himself - Alex J. Cavanaugh.  Alex is making the rounds in support of his new release in the Cassa series, and I was able to lasso him here to my site for the day.  His topic is one that is interests me a lot, and one that I believe is a on many a writers minds.  Please make Alex feel welcome, and enjoy the post!

The Pros and Cons of Writing a Book Series

I envy the authors who plan out their series in advance. It’s no secret that I never intended to write a series. I had one idea for a book, based on an old manuscript I’d written as a teen, and I just wanted to see if I could get it published. That two sequels followed is nothing short of a miracle!

Looking back, I can see the advantages and disadvantages of writing a series.

Disadvantages:

Stale storylines – With a series, each new installment needs to be fresh. It can’t be a rehash of a previous story. There’s a chance you’re still writing but not presenting anything new or exciting for the fans.

Fan expectation – Readers can grow attached to characters and have expectations on their development. Fans envision the next step in the storyline, which might not match what you are writing.

Tied to the series – Once committed to that world, you have to stick with it to the end. Even if you get fresh ideas and want to venture into new territory, you have to complete what you started.

Advantages:

Familiarity – Once you’ve embarked on the second book, you are familiar with the characters and the world. You don’t have to reinvent the wheel every time.

Fanbase – Those who enjoyed the first book will be committed to buying the others. You don’t have to find a new audience every time.

Character growth – Television series are popular because we get to see the characters grow over the course of many episodes and seasons. With a series, you can explore the changes in your characters, allowing each new experience to mold and shape them.

I didn’t intend to write a series, but it’s been very satisfying following Byron on his journey. Every book has brought new adventures and challenges, and he’s transformed from a cocky, rebellious young man into a strong, mature leader. CassaStorm brings Byron’s story full circle, and I think fans will enjoy that.

So even if you think you are writing just one lone story, keep the possibility of a series in mind. After all, you just never know where it may lead you!




CassaStorm
By Alex J Cavanaugh

From the Amazon Best Selling Series!

A storm gathers across the galaxy…

Commanding the Cassan base on Tgren, Byron thought he’d put the days of battle behind him. As a galaxy-wide war encroaches upon the desert planet, Byron’s ideal life is threatened and he’s caught between the Tgrens and the Cassans.

After enemy ships attack the desert planet, Byron discovers another battle within his own family. The declaration of war between all ten races triggers nightmares in his son, threatening to destroy the boy’s mind.

Meanwhile the ancient alien ship is transmitting a code that might signal the end of all life in the galaxy. And the mysterious probe that almost destroyed Tgren twenty years ago could return. As his world begins to crumble, Byron suspects a connection. The storm is about to break, and Byron is caught in the middle…

“With a talent for worldbuilding and a compelling cast of characters, Alex J. Cavanaugh combines high powered space battles and the challenges of family dynamics to provide readers a space opera with heart.”  - Elizabeth S. Craig, author of the Southern Quilting and Myrtle Clover mysteries

“I thought the revelation was going to be one thing and I was completely wrong … CassaStorm pushes the limits…” - Tyson Mauermann, Speculative Reviews

“CassaStorM is a touching and mesmerizing space opera full of action and emotion with strong characters and a cosmic mystery.”  – Edi’s Book Lighhouse

$16.95 USA, 6x9 Trade paperback, 268 pages, Dancing Lemur Press, L.L.C.
Science fiction/adventure and science fiction/space opera
Print ISBN 9781939844002 eBook ISBN 9781939844019
$4.99 EBook available in all formats

Find CassaStorm:


Alex J. Cavanaugh has a Bachelor of Fine Arts degree and works in web design and graphics. He is experienced in technical editing and worked with an adult literacy program for several years. A fan of all things science fiction, his interests range from books and movies to music and games. Online he is the Ninja Captain and founder of the Insecure Writer’s Support Group. The author of the Amazon bestsellers, CassaStar and CassaFire, he lives in the Carolinas with his wife.

Goodreads 



WRiTE CLUB 2013 Play-offs Round Two - Bout #4



Continuing on with the second round of the WRiTE CLUB play-offs, our ten contestants will be battling it out with a brand new writing sample.  The bouts will be posted on Mon - Tue - Wed - Thur - Sat, but the voting will remain open for all bouts until Sunday at noon.  Today we have Bout #4.

Once again...every vote counts. The contestant who doesn't win their bout...but garners the most votes amongst all of the other losers...will become a wildcard winner and advance to round 3.  

Whether you've been following along from the beginning or this is your first time here...no matter...it's just a matter of choosing the one you feel deserves to move forward. Please offer some critique if you have time.  Anyone reading this can vote (after signing up on this LinkyList) so blog/tweet/facebook/text/smoke signal everyone you know and get them to take part in the fun. 

 
And now...stepping into the ring with a brand new story to tell...here is Muleshoe.




On the third day, God said: Now you just stay there and think about what you did.

So Elim stood where they'd tied his hands to the posts of the main street promenade, leaning into the dwindling shade as the sun climbed higher.  The rest of the dust-choked street was long since deserted.

Which left just Elim, standing spread-armed between the beams, struggling to keep his aching head shaded and his sluggish thoughts pious as his bare back and shoulders roasted in the sun.

That was a tall order.

It was powerfully difficult to let his eyes rest on the beautiful covered walkway without thinking of the people it had been built for.  The raised wooden walk had kept their genteel boots out of the mud; the open sloping roof had guarded their reverend heads from the rude heat of the day.

They would have been fine, decent folks.  They wouldn't have left even a bastard like Elim strung up like this.  But they had long since passed on to their reward, and left him at the mercy of their brutal heirs.

He was close, though – so close his sweat dripped onto the weathered gray planks.  If he could just get past the pain in his arms and the breathtaking tightness in his chest and lean in far enough to get his head into that heavenly shaded space – just for even a minute – he would surely breathe in some of their deathless grace, and understand how to atone for himself.

That kept him busy enough not to notice the slow, rhythmic thud of hooves behind him.

Still, he couldn't miss the enormous brown face that hung itself over his shoulder.  There beside him was Molly Boone: unbridled, unsaddled, and apparently having liberated herself from the corral.  Elim’s mouth cracked in a smile.

"Miz Boone," he declared in a parched whisper, "you are a brazen hussy.  Is this you flauntin' yourself around town without your bonnet on?"  He closed his eyes as her hairy lips anointed his face with a streak of oaty slobbers.  "And dolin' out your affections to any man in the street, I see.  Ain't you 'shamed?"

No, not hardly.  Shame was for people – for creatures who could sort right things from wrong ones, and hold themselves accountable for the difference.

Elim breathed in her warm-barn smell, and steadied his resolve.  "Don't listen to any of what they said about me, now.  You know I ain't like that."

He had to get himself sure on that too.  Back home, he could have said it for a certifiable fact: he did not and never had hurt anyone.

Here, though...

Elim glanced down the empty street, past the adobe walls shimmering in the heat and the tilting burnt-out church steeple, to the black-iron manor at the end of the road. 

Maybe this place had changed him into a murderer.  Elim couldn't have said whether it had that power.  But it certainly was fixing to change him into a dead man. 

*****************************************************************************************
And with their own brand new piece of writing, welcome back to the ring....Emma T. Nestor.






"So, Drum, you said Dr. Flanagan and Dr. Digby were scared when the car approached. How could you tell that from where you were hiding?"

Drum, head pounding, filtered out the crime scene and focused on Detective Ajax Philemon, who sat next to him on the curb. He stared, really seeing the policeman for the first time. Hey, this guy’s not all bound up … and there’s no goop leaking out of him. He’s not a binder or a leaker—he’s … continent! Maybe I can tell him what I really saw

Drum started to open his mouth, but stopped. He’s not going to believe me. Continent or not, he’s still a cop.

"How did I know they were scared? I—I just knew.”

Drummond Witherspoon had a secret. He could “see” the emotional state of the people around him. He called them leakers and binders. The leakers were annoying, with garishly-colored trails of emotional goo; Drum’s middle school was an overwhelming swamp of the viscous stuff.

The binders were dangerous. They appeared to be wrapped in transparent cables that could snap and swing off; hurting anyone who got too close. Most binders were okay until their cables started groaning, but some of them, like his foster mother, were so tightly wound that it was never safe to be around them.

The detective continued. "Did you see the shooter or anyone else in the car?"

Drum’s mind shrieked, his stomach churned. I “saw” fear as soon as the car came into the parking lot—whoever or whatever was in that car made Dr. Flanagan and Dr. Digby leak like crazy, and it was that awful sick greenish color that comes before screaming—only they never made it to screaming. What was in that car was bad, so bad; worse than bullets... and I could not see it. The memory made him sweat.

He said, "No. The windows were tinted.”

"Okay, tell me about the car. Did you see the license plates?"

"I don’t remember the license number. I think the car was dark blue."

"And you didn't happen to see a logo or a name, like ‘Ford’?"

"No, the sun was going down. It did have a round thing on the front."

Detective Philemon swiped at his phone with his finger. He showed Drum the screen. "Is this it?"

"No. It wasn’t sticking up off the hood like that." My head hurts. I’m going to be sick.

The detective swiped at the phone again. "How about this one?"

"Yeah, that’s it." I have to lie down. I can’t talk anymore.

"So it’s a BMW. What did it sound like?"

"It thrummed … like it could go fast.” But it didn’t go fast. It just rolled out of the parking lot, leaving me alone with two dead people.

Drum’s vision tunneled and his ears rang. He slumped forward on the curb and slid out of consciousness as Detective Philemon caught him and yelled for the paramedics.
******************************************************************************************
Leave your vote and we'll see you back here tomorrow for the next match-up!

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

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