Congratulating to Imladris for winning Bout #6 and joining the others waiting patiently for the play-offs to begin in four weeks. The voting for Bout #7 remains open until noon on Sunday, July 13th.
This post marks the mid-way point for the preliminary rounds, and what a contest it's been so far. Sixteen writers have entered this ring so far, displaying some phenomenal writing, and I dare to say the best could be yet to come.
For anyone who's dropping by for the first time, here's a summary of what's going on. 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. A rundown of past and current matches can be found right HERE.
Note: The submissions can be an excerpt from a larger work...or a standalone piece of flash fiction. The only rules are that they be 500 words or less, and never previously published or posted on a blog. Although I'll never instruct someone how they should choose a winner, I would recommend considering this when doing so. It shouldn't be about how much information is contained in those 500 words, but the way a contestant goes about communicating the information that is.
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 eighth 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.
Now it's time to find your seat and get settled. The fun's about to begin!
Here are this bout's two randomly selected WRiTER's.
Standing in this corner, representing the MG Fantasy genre and weighing in at 494 words, please welcome to the ring……..Cocktail Lion.
The brick house was the tallest house on the street and the brick house knew it. It towered twenty feet over the competition and that was without the rooftop launch pad torn down and smashed to rubble in the 1950s. The brick house was three stories tall and could tell a thousand.
On hot days, its limestone windowsills smelled like burnt barbecue and gunpowder. Dark red stains clung to chalky mortar. Thick concrete floors hid old bones and air shafts that whistled in the dark.
A century-long line of home inspectors had said, “Completely safe and stable,” and each time, the brick house grinned quietly. It was immovable and ingenious and fireproof, but the best word to describe it in English was “dangerous.”
The brick house was looking out, keeping its eyes open, biding its time. It expected a lot and usually got it. It knew what it wanted. It never settled, would never settle for anything. Its jazz-blue front door and curling ivy vines were cocky: The brick house was strong and good-looking and the brick house was kind of a jerk.
But that didn’t change the fact that it knew its stuff. That didn’t change the things it had seen and the lives it had helped begin and end. That didn’t change the dark corners it would show the right tenants and the questionable plans it had for their future.
And the brick house knew that gangly, twelve-year-old Conley Hoss was the perfect candidate.
Chapter One: The Night Visitor
Conley had been staring at the ceiling for about half the night, wondering who he’d hang out with on summer break. He was deciding whether a dent in the plaster resembled an alligator or an amoeba when he noticed the draft. The window had definitely been shut when his dad hugged him at bedtime, the old air conditioner humming and rattling outside. Now a warm summer breeze was flowing over his top bunk, making his forehead sticky.
Weird that the window was open. And why did the warm air smell so strong, like...the zoo?
Conley sat up in bed and leaned toward the window. A faint sound came from outside, something hard scratching against the house’s brick wall. Scritch, scritch, scritch. The sound got closer. So did the smell.
Don’t be a baby, Conley told himself. He climbed down his bunk bed’s ladder and stood motionless. Scritch, scrit-. The sound stopped. Probably one of his mom’s apple trees, blowing in the wind. He glanced at the bottom bunk. Empty. Strange, Wyatt was missing He took two steps and looked at the second bunk. The sheets were rumpled but they were empty too. Weirder and weirder. Where were his brothers?
And in the other corner, representing the Adult Magical Realism genre with 484 words, let me introduce to you……….Petrichor.
We drift to Montpelier on the last of the winter’s wind. It is April. Time for crocuses to be born joyous amid the green grass and forsythias to spread their golden arms wide, laughing at us who cannot bear the cold wind that bites our noses and stings our eyes. But there are no flowers here. The grass is sparse and the shrubs dormant.
Before I can stop her, Analise removes her coat and gives it to a girl with bruised eyes who sits hunched over and shivering at the train depot.
“Anali!” my daughter scolds her. “Gramma stitched that coat for you. Must you be so careless with it? You have no other.”
What Claire says is true. I made that coat myself. Late hours that stretched autumn into moonlight, every stitch of the compass on its back embroidered and blessed, and Analise had only that coat to ward off the chill.
“She needs it so much more than I do,” Analise answers. This girl, my granddaughter, her heart warms her from the inside. “Besides, I think we will settle here,” she says. “I like it already.”
There is not much to like here yet. We only just arrived at this station and have not seen the town. Still, we promised to let Analise choose our destination this time. She wore the compass and was sure of our direction. Now here we are, and she has decided to stay.
Claire and Analise shoulder their bags and share the weight of mine between them. I am old and it is enough that I carry my own weight down the cobbled streets. Analise points to a sign posted on a grimy window. The tailor shop is for rent, and the apartment above it, too. Inside, a thick layer of dust pads the floors and all the surfaces need scrubbing, the walls a fresh coat of paint.
“You can use whatever is here,” the rental agent says. “The apartment is furnished.”
“And the sewing machines in the shop?” Claire asks. “Can we use them?”
“Yes, of course. Whatever is here is yours. The price includes everything. The previous owners have no use for it now,” the rental agent says.
“Dead?” Analise asks. She has never cared for subtlety.
“Yes,” the rental agent says. Her whisper is barely an answer.
“But not gone,” Analise says and I wonder if she can sense ghosts here. My own eyes have grown too dim to see them. Or, maybe I don’t want to see them. Surely, they are a reminder of what is yet to come soon, too soon.
“They were your parents,” Analise says, “and you still think of them.” I do think of them, my own parents, and I wonder if I could have changed anything by stitching health into his nightshirt, long life into her apron. But Analise is speaking to the rental agent, not me.
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 #8. 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!