WRiTE CLUB 2014 – Bout #5





A hearty congratulations to our third winner, Dreamer.  He/she will now have to wait  patiently for the play-offs to begin in six weeks. The voting for Bout #4 still remains open until noon on Wednesday, July 2nd.

I plotted a graph showing WRiTE CLUB's participation from last year compared to what we've seen so far this year, and yes, the level is higher, but the trend is the same -- downward.  The only way we can reverse that slide is with your help.  The writers from the first bout deserve just as much attention as those in the later rounds, and it's up to you to see that happens.  Spread the word...every time you vote...and keep spreading it as often as you can.  There are a few who have already been doing an amazing job, but they need help.  Please take the #1 rule of this contest to heart...YOU MUST TALK ABOUT WRiTE CLUB!

For anyone who's dropping by for the first time, here's a summary of what's taking place. 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.

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 fifth 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.

Here we go!



Here are this bout #5's two randomly selected WRiTER's.

Standing in this corner, representing the Adventure/Pick Your Plot genre and weighing in at 497 words, please welcome to the ring……..Bartholomew Boulstridge Bell.

Hastily exiting the engine room, you spot someone walking away from you, just down the hall. Swaying hips and a stray curl hanging down one shoulder stand in contrast to the masculine cut of the figure’s pants and coat, and you wonder just who that could be. But there’s no time to think about it further as you turn a corner and push in through a door marked “Telegraph Operator -- Seamus MacMillan.”

“Hello?” you say as you step through the door. It’s a small office; not much more than a closet, really. With just enough space for several hand-drawn maps posted to the walls and a small bookcase overflowing with books and scrolls, the room practically bursts with information. A small desk on the opposite wall is also crowded -- with a note pad, telegraph machine, and the bloodied head of a man that you can only assume to be Seamus MacMillan.

“My God… what happened to you?” MacMillan’s left index finger still rests on the strap key, giving the illusion of having just finished sending a message. You peer over his shoulder and see that the last note on his pad reads:

            NEED HELP. ENGINES BROKEN. SUSPECT SABOTA

The engineer’s message! So it did make it through! Unfortunately it looks as though MacMillan was interrupted in his transcription. You wonder at the audacity of a person who could harm such a beautiful ship and then come up here and kill a crewman right under the Admiral’s nose.

It does not appear as though MacMillan went down without a fight, though. Marks on his neck and face indicate a struggle, and you see bruising on his left wrist where it sits next to the machine. She must have forced him to message someone!, you think. Your mind catches on the word “she,” How could someone so lovely..?? but as you imagine the fight, you realize that your intuition is likely correct. You shake your head in an effort to clear it, and head out to tell the Admiral of your discovery.

You don’t make it far before running into what you can only assume to be the pirates’ advance crew. Three wind-blown men strut down the hallway toward you, the bridge, and presumably the Admiral. The front man brandishes a giant sword, cutting slits in the wallpaper with each rhythmic swing. His cohorts each hold a pistol, with swords sheathed at their waists. They laugh menacingly as they approach, and you realize that you’ve only got a split second to decide upon an action.

The hallway extends only one direction -- from the door of the bridge back out to the rest of the ship. You cannot bear to stay in the room with poor Seamus, but you have to go somewhere.

How to proceed?
Make a break for it! Go to page X.
You are an adaptable fellow. Do your best to convince the pirates that you are not a threat. Go to page Y.
*****************************************************************************************

And in the other corner, representing the Adult Romance/Time Travel genre with 500 words, let me introduce to you……….Fitzwilliam



When purchasing a regency-era wardrobe, one should always open its doors first—lest, quite by accident, one also purchases the regency-era gentleman hiding inside. Tess Dutton, unaware of this wisdom, preceded her movers up the narrow staircase to her third-story brownstone apartment and asked them to please place her newly acquired monstrosity in the kitchen.

One of the movers, the one who kept calling her Tess instead of Theresa as if he’d known her all his life, looked at her and winked. “A wardrobe in your kitchen?

“It’s a pantry,” Tess said, pulling out her wallet as she tried to calculate five percent of seventy-five dollars divided by two movers.

The mover-with-a-wink hefted the wardrobe one more time, clearly to better display his muscles. “Whatever you say, Tess.”

Maybe she wouldn’t divide the tip by two movers.

She’d found the wardrobe at an estate sale. Her sister told Tess if she was going to start fresh, she needed a new apartment, new job, new boyfriend, and eclectic furniture. Although she had taken the apartment, job, and furniture advice, she had laughed about the boyfriend part. “Sara, I have to have an old boyfriend to have a new boyfriend.”

Sara had, of course, looked confused. “Stuart was your boyfriend.”

“No, that’s the problem. He was never my boyfriend. That’s why I’m starting fresh—to get away from my never-boyfriend, Stuart.

And it was of Stuart and the last time they went sailing together she was thinking when she opened the doors of the wardrobe for the first time—nearly dropping the box of spices from her arms—because she found herself looking into the rather bewildered eyes of a gentleman in cravats.

She considered screaming, but then remembered Mrs. Jenny one floor down who took a nap after her two o’clock soap opera and slept with a rifle next to her bed. So instead, she grabbed the nearest weapon—a plaid umbrella.

“Who are you? Get out!" She looked over at the open door. "Oye! Mover people!" Maybe they hadn't left yet.

After she ascertained that her plaid umbrella was useless in case of an attack from a gentleman in cravats, she saw the man was acting unlike an attacker at all. In fact, he seemed surprised to see her.

“I must find Georgiana. She came this way. What have you done with my sister, Sir… or is it…Madam?” With this last bit he looked at her yoga pants with something like repulsion, as if she hadn’t showered in days when in fact, she had not.

Tess no longer felt threatened, but she raised her umbrella nevertheless. “Why were you hiding? Is this the movers’ joke? Because I tipped them…both of them!”

The gentleman stepped from the wardrobe, and Tess, realizing his full height, backed into her loveseat. Then, as he cast his eyes around the room with confusion clouding his brow, Tess also realized his full handsomeness—which is why she, in the end, did drop the box of spices.
**************************************************************************************

 
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 #5.  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!

WRiTE CLUB 2014 – Bout #4









A hearty congratulations to our second winner, Swick, for winning Bout #2 and securing a spot in the play-offs. Voting for Bout #3 remains open until 11:59 PM on Sunday, June 25th. 

For anyone who's dropping by for the first time, here's a summary of what's taking place. 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.

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 fourth 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.

Understand what’s going on now?  Good…then here we go!



Here are this bouts two randomly selected WRiTER's.

Standing in this corner, representing the Literary Fiction genre and weighing in at 500 words, please welcome to the ring……..Anna MacKenzie.





It’s 4th of July.

Mr. Harrelson brought over live lobsters for the cookout. “You put ‘em in cold water,” he said, holding one in front of my face. Smelled like seaweed. Its pinching claws clacked against my sunburned shoulder.
           
Mr. Harrelson set the lobster in the pot with the others. “Cold water eases them into getting cooked, keeps the meat tender.”  I watched them sit there until the water bubbled. They never moved, never knew what hit them. Mr. Harrelson said the screaming was actually their shells contracting.

Me and my little brother, Jake, ate hot dogs.

After fireworks, Mom scooted us off to bed, even though I’m eleven and deserve to stay up later. Vowing to keep awake, I fell asleep.

A mosquito wakes me. Or maybe it’s the ocean. It takes some getting used to, sleeping in an unfamiliar place. Not entirely unfamiliar. We come to Capistrano Beach every summer, the same beach house every year, so I know a little about it.

To muffle the sound of the ocean, I pull the blanket over my head and hold it away from my face, in case there really is a mosquito. They bite you when you can’t hear them.

I got sucked in a wave today, my whole body tossing and churning and scraping sand. Then the ocean spit me out like water from a blow hole. Air. Sky. A seagull.

Downstairs, music plays: Brenda Lee singing I’m Sorry. A party. The adults are loud. Some voices I know already, some I don’t, like the cougher.

Wide awake now, I get out of bed and crack the door. The air is thick with cigarette smoke, loud with talk and music. They’ve moved the tables and chairs to one side. Mr. and Mrs. Harrelson are dancing. Daddy, who usually complains at having to dance with Mom, is dancing with Mrs. Rilke. Both of her arms are locked around his neck, mashing down his collar—the one he wanted ironed so bad. Now, he doesn’t even care.

Mrs. Rilke wears a beauty mark near the tip of her eyebrow tonight. I’ve seen her when it wasn’t there—in the daylight when she drinks coffee with Mom. Tomorrow, she’ll act like she never wrapped her arms tight around Daddy’s neck when she really did. She has a stupid laugh.

I shut the door and lay down on my bed, hope I don’t have to wait forever for sleep to take me. I look at Jake snoring with his mouth open; probably where the mosquito is.

In the morning, I hear them. Mom’s voice is... I don’t know the word.

My insides hurt.

“Don’t start again, Marjorie.” It’s Daddy. “You always do this.” (She does.)

“I saw you. I saw you.”

Breathing hurts.

I cover my ears.

In the afternoon, I scour the beach for shells. For ones that don’t scream. I only find a hermit crab carrying its house on her back.

If it was me, I’d leave it behind.
************************************************************************************************** 



And in the other corner, representing the Memoir genre with 500 words, let me introduce to you……….Nanato4.




My father, in the tradition of his Irish ancestors, was a great storyteller, slipping into a brogue as effortlessly as the wind blows across the fair green isle. His stories had a moral and a bit of humor, but as children we were transfixed by the waggle of his bushy eyebrows, the rising rosiness of his cheeks and the characters he brought to life,each with their own accent and gestures.
One of his favorite stories concerned an incident when he was about ten years old. It was the height of the depression, and his parents, like so many others, struggled to feed their family. My dad, the eldest of four children, did his part by working in the vegetable garden, feeding his baby sister and running errands.
“Bubsy, go next door to the Steinberg’s and get some eggs,” his mother said, handing him a precious dime.
“How many should I get?” he asked, knowing a dozen cost fifteen cents.
“We need a dozen for supper and breakfast tomorrow.”
“Yes, Mommy.” Confused, he hesitated, squeezing the dime in the palm of his hand.
“Ask for the cracked ones.”Handing him an empty wicker basket, she nudged him out the door.
The Steinbergs were an elderly couple, who made ends meet by keeping chickens in their basement. Dad both feared and admired his stern neighbors, having watched Mr. Steinberg whack the head off a chicken with a single swipe of a hatchet.
In a pitch perfect Yiddish accent dad quoted Mrs. Steinberg answering the door that day. “Robert Enerson, you are a sight. Have you brought back my cookie tin?”
“No ma’am.” He stared at his scuffed brown shoes.
“Then what is it boy, I haven’t all day.”
He opened his palm and held out the dime. “I’d like some eggs, please.”
“Come in, young man.” She took the basket and the dime. “You want eight eggs, then?”
“A dozen please.” He looked up at her raised eyebrows, quickly adding, “but only the cracked ones.”
“Sit yourself down,” she waved him toward a sofa as she headed to a door that led to the basement.
“Saul!” she shouted down the stairs. “Robert needs a dozen cracked eggs.”
“I haven’t any cracked ones.” Came the distant reply.
“I said I need a dozen cracked eggs,” she said, a bit more sternly.
Dad got off the sofa and crept closer to hear.
“I haven’t got any cracked eggs, I tell you.”
Sotto voce, she replied, “Then crack some.”

The story was about charity and dignity, for there isn’t one without the other. I wonder if, in our government efforts to ameliorate poverty, we haven’t lost two important things. One, a sense of satisfaction by personally giving to others in need, and two, the dignity of taking only the assistance necessary to live, for the shortest time possible, and graciously accepting cast-offs to that end.
Dad has passed away, but his stories are with me always. Stories meant for enlightenment as well as entertainment.
*********************************************************************************************



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 #4.  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!
 

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