Come on in everybody, there are still plenty of ring-side seats remaining. After weeks of anticipation and build up, the time has finally arrived!
On May 3rd we began taking submissions from WRiTER’s far and wide, spanning the globe, representing all ages and multiple styles of WRiTING. We received 167 entries in all! A new WRiTE CLUB record! Those 500 word samples have been under careful consideration by 11 judges since May 31st and the panel has narrowed the list down to 32…which are the ones that will pair off in the ring over the course of the next eight weeks. Needless to say, just becoming qualified to compete is an accomplishment in itself. I want to sincerely thank my 11 judges for volunteering their time and eyes to undertake this massive task.
Barbara Jean Byrem (Faraway Eyes)
The illustrious WRiTER’s chosen are not only from all walks of life, but they also occupy various levels of the publication world. But none of that matters today, because inside this ring everybody stands as equals. You know why? Because no one is allowed to use their real name…the only name you’ll ever see is their pen name. This is not a popularity contest. The focus here is on the writing, where it should be.
Today marks the first of sixteen bouts, two bouts per week, with a new one posted every Monday and Thursday. The winners are decided by votes left in the comment section and anyone can vote. The voting for each fight will last for one full week, so you can vote for a Monday battle all the way until midnight on Sunday, and you can vote for a Thursday brawl up until midnight the following Wednesday. And when you do vote, please let the contestants know what you liked and disliked.
So who are these 32 contestants? Well, you’ll have to come back each week to find out. Last year I posted a list of the 32 qualifiers before the contest began and it resulted in a significant drop-off of traffic during the battle rounds. I guess when some readers discovered they didn’t make the cut, they couldn’t be bothered to stop by anymore and vote. Though I understand the disappointment, I’m going to do whatever it takes to put these WRiTER’s words in front of as many people as possible.
That’s enough blabbering…what do you say we get to it!
Here are the first two randomly selected WRiTER's.
Standing in this corner, representing the Fantasy genre and weighing in at 490 words, please welcome to the ring……..Lord Codpiece
I was ten steps from the ballroom door, my pockets stuffed with stolen jewelry, when I stepped on someone’s foot.
"Watch yourself, you oaf!" a man spat.
I tried to ignore it, but he grabbed my shoulder and spun me around. That shook something loose from the stash hidden in my jacket; it fell into my right boot. Felt like one of the sapphire earrings.
"I called you an oaf," he said.
He was a highborn noble of the worst sort, young and fat-cheeked and angry. I wore the plain dyed woolens of a servant. It made me an easy target.
"Apologies, m'lord," I said. I kept my body still, to minimize the clinking of coins in half-a dozen purses tied to my belt. “I was just-“
"Wipe it off,” he said.
Oh, wonderful. This flabby brat was actually looking to start a fight. I took his measure while pretending to think it over. Soft was the word for him. His hands were uncalloused, no surprise there. He hadn’t done a hard day of work in his life. But I noticed the tan lines at the wrists. A gloved swordsman, then. A showoff. Probably got his practice on the household servants, ones who were afraid to draw their master’s blood. The least-capable man in my crew would have gutted him like a deer. There was no time for that, though. And we certainly didn’t want the attention.
"Pardon, m'lord?" I asked.
"You scuffed my boot. Wipe it off." His breath carried the mingled smells of wine and spiced meat.
I couldn’t refuse outright, and I sure as hell wasn’t going to oblige him. Obfuscation seemed like the best option. I made my voice cheerful.
“Can’t say I see it, m’lord,” I said.
A girl in a silk-and-taffeta gown (recently relieved of the gems on her bodice) tittered with laughter. Ah, so that was why he was putting on this display. Sure enough, his cheeks reddened even further.
“It’s right there!” he said.
The pearl-and-silver necklace I’d nicked just five minutes ago was threatening to spill out of my left sleeve, so I thought it best to head him off.
“I’ll be sure to have my eyes checked, m’lord,” I said. “But right now I’m to fetch another bottle for my master.”
“Who’s that?” he demanded.
I needed him to back off. That was the only way this would end quietly. So I spoke the name of the meanest and most dangerous noble that came to mind. “Lord Peyton,” I said.
Recognition bloomed in his eyes. He wasn’t as drunk as he seemed, and even the most wine-addled fool would know to be cautious, here. Peyton had challenged and killed men for smaller offenses than quarreling with his servants.
“You’ve heard of him, I take it,” I said.
“I’ve more than heard of him,” he said. “He’s my father.”
And in the other corner, also representing the Fantasy genre with 499 words, let me introduce to you……….Little Darlin
Alison cursed as she smothered the flames from her blonde hair. No one sensible climbed into this dank hole for any purpose other than to hunt the fire-breathing monster, so it perceived her as a threat. Obsessed victims came to steal the singing gems behind the web. Alison doubted the eight-legged, sixteen-eyed, web-spinning, black fur-covered monster had ever witnessed a rescue mission.
Flames ignited another pocket of gas beside the valiant knight. Her sword shook of its own accord in her steady hand. The magical entity residing inside the blade feared the web, knowing those blackened stands were capable of destroying it. A feeling of being disrobed in public washed over her as she tossed the precious sword outside.
"Prince Gabe, there is a maiden at the nearby tavern longing to meet you. Forget the gems. Come with me." Said Alison.
"No! She will want to take them. Mine, all mine!"
The advice she'd been given, to distract him from the hypnotic effects by offering him something he'd want more, wasn't working. Though, since they normally went to great lengths to avoid each other, Alison wasn't sure what he'd want.
"Sire, the King of Lebnoek is dead. His land is ours for the taking." She hoped he hadn't become bloodthirsty enough to desire this. Relief came when he dismissed her call with a wave of his hand.
Flames shot from the monster. Another unseen pocket of odorless gas exploded, singeing her eyebrows and blocking her view of the prince. She didn't want to hurt the monster. It ate many incompetent creatures that she would have to deal with otherwise. Alison dared not dwell on what it meant that the trap lured her prince.
Visions of the queen danced in her head. The sweet woman she admired, who loved her ten times more than Alison's own mother ever did, would be heartbroken if her only child were to die. It should be the future of her kingdom, duty to her sword, and loyalty to her prince motivating her to face this ordeal. But it was imagining tears streaming from the blue eyes of the queen, eyes that matched Alison's own, which propelled her through the flames.
"Prince Gabe, your mother needs you outside. You don't wish to disappoint her, do you?" Alison grabbed for his arm, snagging it a second before it touched the web.
Not looking away from the objects of his desire just behind the sticky strands, the dazed prince responded, "I order you to obtain those gems for me at once!"
"Yeah, well, I order you to forget the gems and come with me," she said through gritted teeth.
"What did you say?" Prince Gabe turned to her aghast. He yanked his arm from her hold. "How dare you touch me? What horrid place have you brought me to? I will see you locked in the dungeon for this, Alison!"
Enjoying two talented writers at work is only part of the price of admission, now it’s up to you to decide who moves forward to the playoffs. In the comments below leave your vote for the winner of Bout #1. Which one tickled your fancy? After you vote please tell all of your friends to stop by and make a selection as well. The voting for this round will remain open until noon Sunday. Yes, it’s subjective, but so is the entire publishing world. It’s as much about the readers as it is about the writers.
Here in WRiTE CLUB, it’s not about the last man/woman standing -- it’s the audience that gets clobbered!