WRiTE CLUB 2014 – Bout #11




Sapphire Eyes is the winner of Bout #9. The voting for Bout #10 remains open until noon on Wednesday, July 23rd.

A rundown of all the past and current matches, with their respective winners, can be found right HERE.

Here's a recap for anyone just stopping by for the first time. Back 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! Those 500 word samples went under careful consideration by 11 judges and that panel narrowed the list down to 32…which are the ones that are pairing off in the ring over the course of eight weeks. 

These illustrious WRiTER’s are not only from all walks of life, but they also occupy various levels of the publication world. But none of that matters here, because inside this ring everybody stands as equals. You know why?  Because no one uses their real name…the only identification 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 is the eleventh 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.

Have you got your popcorn and favorite drink? Time for the fun to begin!



Here are this bout's two randomly selected WRiTER's.

Standing in this corner, representing the Middle Grade genre and weighing in at 463 words, please welcome to the ring……..Dame Hortense Pemberton




Winicker would rather pee in her pants than use the Plouffes’ bathroom. She opened the front door and stepped into the apartment building’s courtyard, wiggling and crossing her legs. She rushed to the big, iron gate and looked down the street in one direction, and then the other. She spotted exactly what she was hoping to find—an ugly gray pay toilet.

Winicker dug a handful of change out of her pocket and inserted four coins in the slot next to the door until it opened. Inside, the bathroom was dark, and the smell of disinfectant stung Winicker’s nose and eyes. Even with the smell, and even with the scary-looking French graffiti scrawled across the thin wall above the toilet, Winicker was glad not to be using the Plouffes’ bidet.

When she finished using the bathroom, Winicker sighed a very content sigh. “Sweet relief,” she said. But the sweet relief only lasted a moment. The pay toilet suddenly seemed much smaller and darker than it did just a few seconds earlier. She rubbed hand sanitizer on both hands from a little dispenser on the wall, and stood to open the door. The problem was, the door wouldn’t open. Winicker pushed as hard as she could on the handle. Then she pulled as hard as she could on the handle. The door did not budge.
           
“Help me! Can anyone hear me? I’m stuck in here! Hello! I need help!”

Winicker banged on the bathroom door with both fists. She looked around frantically for some kind of emergency button, but all she found were more graffiti, lots of old gum, and a wad of wet toilet paper stuck to the wall. “Help! I’m stuck in here! Can anyone hear me?”

Her stomach felt like it was falling out of her body when she realized that Grandma Balthazar and her mother didn’t know where she was. She never told them that she was going to use a pay toilet. They thought she was next door in Mirabel Plouffe’s apartment!

“SOMEONE PLEASE HELP ME! I’M TRAPPED IN THIS PAY TOILET!”

Winicker imagined Mirabel watching the story unfold on her daily afternoon news show. She would sip some kind of awful French tea and shake her head and say, How perfectly terrible. I wonder why she didn’t just use our bathroom with its fancy French bidet? Winicker wished more than anything that she had used the Plouffes’ bathroom. She wished that she had seen the Eiffel Tower and all of the other things in Paris that Mirabel and Grandma Balthazar told her were so wonderful. Instead, the very last thing Winicker would ever see would be graffiti and a wet wad of toilet paper stuck to the wall of the pay toilet.

“LET ME OUT! LET ME OUT!”


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And in the other corner, representing the YA Contemporary (LGBT) genre with 498 words, let me introduce to you……….Hingle McKringleberry




So when someone in your family has a certifiable sex addiction, people usually think it’s some skeevy uncle or a cousin a bazillion times removed. Of course, my family couldn’t follow what my ninth grade English teacher calls “societal norms.” Oh no, not the McGuire family.

The sex addict in our family is my eighty-year-old grandma.

Yup, you read it right. Grandma. Hillside Manor Nursing Home wants to kick my grandma out for sneaking around at night and causing strange encounters of…erm…the feisty kind.

“You’re kidding, right?” my best friend Kiara asks, her brown eyes opening so wide I’m afraid her eyeballs might pop out of her skull.

“I kid you not.

She laughs as she falls off the bed and on to the plush gray carpet of my bedroom. I nudge her leg with my foot. “That’s right. Yuck it up, Fuzzball.”

“Total point for the ‘Star Wars’ ref. Really, though. Why have you never told me about this before? You’re a bad friend Megan Winston McGuire.”

“Let me see,” I reply, tapping my chin. “Embarrassment? Shame? The fact that I don’t want our entire high school to read about it on the ‘Wildcat Word’?”

Kiara is the editor for our Timmons High School blog. Rah, rah, blah, blah. Go, Tigers! She also writes the gossip shots for the school. I’m the only one who knows about her secret identity. I’m special that way. You fill out a form on the blog with your name and phone number, and any time there’s juicy gossip, Kiara sends it out to all two thousand thirty-eight subscribers. There would be two thousand thirty-nine but my mom refuses to let me have a cell phone. I’m freaking fifteen and have to be the only girl in the entire state of Michigan who doesn’t own a cell phone. For sure, I’m the only one in Detroit.

Kiara wipes a tear from her eye. The sunlight catches the rhinestones on the tips of her French manicure. “So this is the first time she’s been caught?”

“Second.”

“That’s not so bad then.”

“Second at this nursing home. She’s already gone through nine others.”

This sets Kiara off again until she’s pounding on my floor with the palm of her hand. She lies on her back, staring up at the popcorn ceiling. “Stop. You’ve got to stop. I can’t take any more.”

“Glad I could be your entertainment for the day.”

“Okay. Tell me what happened.”

I pull my legs to my chest and raise an eyebrow at her. The way she keeps acting makes me almost regret telling her about the boniest skeleton in my closet. “You said you couldn’t take any more.”

Kiara jumps to her feet, vaulting through the air to land next to me. The springs underneath us creak. “No. You have to.”

“And none of it—not even the word ‘sex’ in the same text as my name—appears on the blog.” She leans forward, pressing her nose against mine. 


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


Enjoying the words of two talented writers 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 #11.  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!

49 comments

  1. Dame Hortense Pemberton takes this for me.

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  2. This one is tough for me, as I would probably enjoy reading more of each.

    My vote goes to Dame Hortense Pemberton this round. I think the time won me over and the situation of being stuck in the toilet. I felt for the poor child.

    Really loved the sex addicted granny, too, though. Very imaginative and exciting skeleton there.

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  3. I love middle grade, and I want to see where this stuck-in-the-toilet situation takes her. My vote goes to Dame Hortense Pemberton.

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  4. Two very hilarious entries this week. I love it! Tough decision. I did notice that Hingle is missing an end quote on I kid you not. (Not that that effected my vote.)

    I have to go with stuck in the pay bathroom. Vote to Dame Hortense Pemberton.

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  5. This is a good bout -- I like both!

    Side note: I continue find it interesting how many of the WRiTE Club entries are in "non-adult" genres. Why are so many writers aiming for the YA, MG, and the other increasingly splintered sub-genres of what all used to be lumped into "kid lit?" Is it because that's where the perceived "better" opportunities for publication are? Or does WRiTE Club just happen to pull heavily from writers who work in those genres?

    But back to today's bout. Like I said – I find both entertaining, with characters that are interesting and easy to connect to, and situations that are compelling.

    Dame Hortense Pemberton's piece is awash with bathroom drama and what kid doesn't love that? But it's handled in a way that is effective but not overly crass nor vulgar. It's a smooth transition from the character's urgency to relief and then panic as she is trapped inside the pay toilet. The situation does seem a little contrived, but it is done well. The humor melds into the tension with excellent pacing – just the right amount of detail and internal dialogue to create the scene. I'm pulled in and curious as to what is going to happen next.

    Hingle McKringleberry goes for sex humor instead of bathroom humor, but I supposed YA's are more interested in that than the potty stories of MG. But again, the subject matter is handled without crassness or vulgarity, and it serves as a humorous backdrop to the interaction of the girls. I give bonus points for setting the scene in Detroit, but do have to say that the dialogue doesn't quite match that of most Detroit kids I've come across. These kids seem like they live well north of Eight Mile Rd. Maybe Farmington Hills or West Bloomfield… Anyway, the scene unfolds well, and while Kiara's reaction to the details of Megan's grandmother does seem a little over the top (falling off the bed, tears in her eyes, pounding the floor), the situation is entertaining and does a good job of pulling me in. By the end, I'm also curious and would keep reading to find out what poor Granny's up to.

    So well done to both writers! I see plenty of reasons why I could vote for both.

    But since I can only pick one, I think I'm going with Dame Pemberton. The drama is a little more immediate, and the transition from humor to tension-filled scene carries a little more weight, I think.

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  6. Dame Hortense's piece is entertaining, but doesn't quite pull it through for me. The reliance on bathroom humor is great, but not enough. Though, I admit, that was a spectacular first line.

    I love that the sex addict is granny in Hingle's piece. Somehow, there was more there. I didn't like the telling transition into conversation, which was a little awkward, but the piece was more engaging to me. (this is all personal preference)

    I vote Hingle McKringleberry.

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  7. Tough choice. They were both written well and entertaining. They both left this reader wanting to know more. But since I have to choose, I'll choose Dame Hortense Pemberton's piece.

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  8. Hingle McKringleberry - that was hilarious. I really liked the exchange.

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  9. Both are well written and kept me reading, but I'm votin' for the Dame.

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  10. Both are good this bout and I enjoyed reading them. But my vote goes to Hingle McKringleberry because the voice is so spot on authentic. In the first piece the voice didn't feel 100% MG to me.

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  11. Very nicely done! I enjoyed both pieces
    My vote goes to the 2nd piece :)

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  12. dame I liked for the genre but with the left over word count I would have liked to see something added to the mix and thought the ending wasn't quite right. for hingle, I wished for it to be a little more smoothed out. having worked in a retirement home, I know just how ... horny...some grannies can be :D there's a visual for ya! vote - Hingle

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  13. Hingle McKringleberry by a whisker.

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  14. I really enjoyed both. Such interesting twists! But my vote goes to the Dame.

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  15. My vote goes to Dame Hortense Pemberton!

    Both were great, though, and i scored them both highly when i was first judging. I just think that Dame kept me more drawn in.

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  16. Hingle McKringleberry - the first one didn't feel like it went anywhere.

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  17. Both of these pieces held my interest and left me wanting to know more. BUT, in just about every 'fight' up to this point I've been going on and on about showing vs telling and I have to say that Hingle does a better job of showing us through dialog and the actions of the girls what is happening here rather than just telling us through inner dialog. Therefore, my vote goes to Hingle McKringleberry. Very nicely done.

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  18. These are both really fun. Nice voices for the age category. Good job, guys!

    I'm going to vote for Dame just because I could sense the start of a story, and if it's the opening of a book, it was nicely done to hook us and get us acquainted with the MC. Plus, Winicker is an adorable name :) Nice sensory details - the smell, the graffiti, the tight space. I was there in the scene.

    I liked Hingle's piece a lot, but I'm not sure why that particular 500 words was chosen. I doubt the entire story or book is about grandma's bedroom habits (at least I hope not), so it left me wondering what the bigger story was. I have zero idea. They were just talking about something funny. On the one hand I suppose the same thing could be said about Dame's piece, but it worked for that piece because it's MG, and they often open with a silly scene that doesn't tie directly to the rest of the story. It just doesn't work the same in a YA piece.

    Tough one! I really liked them both a lot.

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  19. Both are excellent. Kudos to the writers. You both grabbed me from the first line. But since I have to choose, I'll go with Dame Hortense. More sensory images. Great MG humor.

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  20. This round is boiling down to my dislike for repetition. My vote goes to Hingle McKringleberry.

    The Dame started four paragraphs with Winicker and then a few sentences within the paragraphs with Winicker, too. By the time got to the end I felt like I'd read "Winicker did this, Winicker did that, Winicker thought this, Winicker thought that…" I guess it didn't help that I, personally, didn't like or connect to the name. It overshadowed my enjoyment of what was, otherwise, an entertaining MG excerpt.

    I thought the reaction of Kiara was overdone in Hingle's piece and the scene could be parred down to keep it moving, but it held me better than the first piece.

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  21. With Dame's my first thought was "there's nowhere in the world I'd rather pee less than an pay-for-use outhouse" *shudder* LOL so I was a little distracted by why she'd rather use that than this lady's apartment and I was really glad she eventually wove in an explanation (in a really clever way, incidentally). I did think the name Winicker, while adorbs, was used way too much, and I wasn't exactly sure where the story was going beyond the locked toilet. Other than the repetitive use of the MC's first name, the voice is great for MG, and there is some great sensory imagery. And I'd keep reading to find out if the poor girl eventually gets out of the godforsaken toilet!

    The second one was a turn-off for me. (No pun intended, seriously.) Maybe it's because I'm an addictions therapist, but I don't think sex addiction is funny. And I don't think it's okay to mock it, particularly when you're writing for teens. Grandma could get caught being promiscuous at the nursing home (an actual legitimate issue for a while as the US was seeing a huge jump in the number of geriatric HIV and other STI incidences because the residents weren't using condoms since they couldn't get pregnant.) That would be fine and totally legit for a teen to feel mortified about. Beyond that, it feels like the story is about everyone other than the narrator, which doesn't really give us a sense of where we're headed. I wasn't left feeling like I had to turn the page to find out what happened next.

    Short story long, my vote is for Dame.

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  22. Dame Hortense Pemberton - I know what a pay toilet is, but only found out after traveling a great deal. So, just a heads up, if planning to market to Middle Grade in the New England parts of America, prepare for confusion. This certainly shouldn't weigh on the story itself, it is merely a bit of marketing information. (Please take it as nothing more than that.)

    Hingle McKringleberry - A difficult topic for a young person, and you wrote it with humor. Bravo.

    I really enjoyed both, and would love to say it's a tie for me. But I'm not sure a tie is permitted in the votes, so I'm going with Dame, because I'd love to read more of this story.

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  23. I was heading for a tie, too. However, by a short nose, and because of more showing than telling, my vote goes to Hingle McKringleberry

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  24. Both were very well written pieces, but I like the way Hingle McKringleberry infused humor into a very serious topic. Congrats to both entrants for making the top 32. :)

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  25. Both of these were really good, and both could have easily taken my vote if they were paired against other pieces. But, since they were paired with each other, I suppose I'll have to pick one.

    I'm going to give my vote to Dame Hortense Pemberton. I just really enjoyed the voice in that one, and I'm curious about what happens next. I do agree with what another voter said about the name Winicker, though; I found it was used a little too often. But, otherwise, I think it was really well-written.

    Hingle McKringleberry's piece was well-written, too, but it didn't hit me in quite the same way. But I would continue to read it, too, if I had the chance.

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  26. Dear Dame Hortense Pemberton, you had me at "Winnicker would rather pee in her pants..."

    The piece was funny, engaging, and well paced, with great details and a superb voice. The second piece was interesting, but didn't really grab me.

    I vote for Dame Hortense.

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  27. Congrats to both writers for making it through.

    A lot of the issues have already been mentioned and I don't want to waste time. So. My vote goes to Dame Hortense Pemberton.

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  28. Dame Pemberton is my vote.

    Both were , as stated in other posts, well written. I connected more with the pay toilet situation, so my voted swayed in that direction.

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  29. Dame Hortense Pemberton for me. Great MG voice, pulled me right in!

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  30. The Dame had a good first line, but I think the tense is questionable. Shouldn't it be "she would have rather peed in her pants…?" That threw me off from the beginning. I wondered what was so awful about the Pflouffe potty that made the one she resorted to seem so inviting? That one seemed scary to me before she got stuck in it!

    Hingle's story was more amusing to me, though I feel like it was more about the grandmother than the two girls. I have an elderly grandmother who sometimes does things that are a bit "out of character" so I could relate. I got a chuckle out of the tale, feeling like the author did a good job with the "wait, but there's more to it" angle, building up to the climax (no pun intended). However, nine nursing homes seems pretty over the top!

    I'm voting for Hingle on this round.

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  31. The Dame threw me off with the constant repetition of the MC's name. There's only one person in the story.

    Hingle McKringleberry is a great set up, well described, with an entertaining voice. It gets my vote!

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  32. I enjoyed both these humorous entries and was drawn into both. Choosing one over the other is difficult.

    I love names in Dame's entry. The sounds of "Winicker" and "Plouffe" perfectly describe these characters in my mind, already. The voice seems old fashioned and stuffy (in a good way) and though it might not be the norm of today, I think it works well here, especially in MG, and it offsets the comedy nicely.

    Hingle's entry probably should start a few sentences down with: "Hillside Manor Nursing Home wants to kick my grandma out for sneaking around at night and causing strange encounters of…erm…the feisty kind." To make the entry zing, I'd make sure the last line wrapped around to this concept and how it relates to the MC. Because so much importance is placed on grandma's situation, I now suspect the MC has something (or worries that she has something) in common with grandma.

    This one was close, and I'd read more of both. So, hmmm. How to decide? Must go with my gut feeling that something in Hingle's excerpt alludes to the heart of this protagonist's story; whereas, I can't find that same vulnerability in Dame's bathroom scene. I cast my vote this round for Hingle.

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  33. I'll vote for Dame Hortense Pemberton.

    They were both pretty good, but I'm still mildly amused by the girl stuck in the pay toilet because she's afraid of a bidet.

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  34. I liked both. I thought the voice of each story was spot on and I immediately built characters in my head. I couldn't help but remember the old Judy Blume stories I read in grade school.
    Dame
    The story started perfectly for me. Conflict right from the get go. Not wanting to use the bathroom of the Plouffes led me to believe there was an alternate conflict, although I later realized it was with the Bidet and not a wretched, persnickety old Mrs Plouffe, which would have been fun too! Then being locked in the pay toilet left me wondering what world was she about to be whisked away to. A Port-A-Let to Narnia? All sorts of things rolled through my mind. This made the story fun for me. Well done.
    Hingle
    The transition to the first part of the conversation with her friend was a bit chopped. I had to go back and look to see if there were quotes that meant she was talking to her friend or if it was something from inside her head and the conversation started assuming we knew that she had already told her friend. After that though I liked the whole bit. I actually did a little LOL. I didn't feel as though the whole story was going to be about her Grandma, although I was ready to read a few pages of granny's ill-doings, rather a compilation of all the horrible things that could go wrong in a teens life. Which according to my teen are innumerable. Fun story.

    By just a hair and a short one at that, I vote for Dame.
    Well done both of you.

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  35. I got here too late to vote on this round but I still enjoyed reading the entries. I'll try to be on time for the next pair.

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  36. Dame Hortense Pemberton for me. Congrats to both of you for making it through to the bouts.

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  37. My vote goes to Hingle McKringleberry, but this was a close round -- for me it was the hardest to make a choice on so far.

    Both excerpts are fun reads and only have minor errors. But Hingle's entry is a bit more polished overall, in spite of some glitches like missing commas and the fact that there's something wrong with the ending paragraph. If the narrator says the last line of dialogue, then 'She leans forward, etc.' needs to be in a new paragraph. And If Kiara is still speaking, then there shouldn't be closed quotes and a new paragraph after her preceding line. (In short, whichever character is speaking, it was done incorrectly). But the voice in this excerpt is cute and quite appropriate for the genre.

    I like that Dame Hortense's entry is set in Paris, and the names are charming -- though Winicker is an extremely odd name for a little girl, it serves to add to the humor. But as several others pointed out, the character's name is used too many times; replacing it with 'she' just a couple of times would fix that. This surprised me a little because recently I've seen the opposite problem, where the writer doesn't use a character's name enough, since there's one of those 'false rules' out there that says to avoid using the MC's name when writing in the third person POV (which of course is nonsense). But it is too much when nearly every sentence begins with the name, and part of the problem here is that the sentence structure is a bit repetitive as well. Also, I believe the first line should be in the same tense as the rest, even if it's a statement that's still true in the present moment. This has lots of potential to be part of a really great little story though, and as I still love to read MG books, the truth is I'd probably be more likely to read something like this as long as it was well done. But in the context of a writing contest, I feel that showing a bit more skill and finesse still gives Hingle the edge.

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  38. My vote goes to Dame Hortense Pemberton. As others have commented, I felt the MC's name was overused, but the excerpt was fun and it did make me want to know happens next. I enjoyed the voice in Hingle's piece, but the story just didn't draw me in as much.

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  39. McKringleberry has my vote though the story has been overdone usually with a grand pa getting kicked out of the nursing. The writing I felt was better than Pemberton's.
    Pemberton didn't hold me with the repeat of the MC's name and bathroom, plus, I just am not drawn into being stuck in a toilet.

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  40. My vote goes to Dame Hortense Pemberton. This offering has a very "Gaimanesque" feel to it, and I want to read MORE in spite of some discrepancies (why didn't Winicker just go next door to Grandmother Balthazar's apartment? How does one sigh a "content" sigh?) And this writer also has a talent for naming characters. Winicker ... Mirabel Plouffe ... Grandmother Balthazar. Plouffe is the perfect name for a family that would have a bidet. Wonderful Middle Grade stuff.

    Hingle's piece was very well-written and had some terrific lines ... Rah rah, blah blah for school blogging ... boniest skeleton in the MC's closet ... loved those! And everything flowed well. I actually thought Hingle's offering was the winner in terms of technical execution, I just did not feel all that compelled to read on. For me, the story's the thing (and please excuse the bad paraphrasing.)

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  41. I would have to go with Hingle M's piece. Although cute, I couldn't really get into Dame's piece. I must say, though, that both pieces were pretty good.

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  42. I hope I'm not too late for the voting. Is it midnight Eastern or midnight Pacific? But on the off chance I got here on time, here's what I think: Dame Hortense had me at "rather pee in her pants.' Great MG voice. What MG kid doesn't like bathroom humor? Excellent writing. Hingleberry's piece was good as well. Good characterizations and voice for YA and very funny But I'll have give Dame Hortense the nod. She gets my vote.

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  43. Eep! How to decide? Okay, let's see........ Hingleberry it is!

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