WRiTE CLUB 2015 – Bout #1



What is WRiTE CLUB?  It started off as a modest writing competition, inspiration loosely derived from the movie FIGHT CLUB, and it has since grown into a writing community sensation that is now sponsored by the DFWWriters Conference.  There are numerous versions of this concept floating around the internet, but nothing like we do it here.  Its essence embodies simple, good-natured competition, with lots and lots of fun sprinkled on top. 




Over the course of ten weeks I’ll be holding daily bouts (M-F) between Anonymous 500 word writing samples, submitted under a pen name.   The writing can be any genre, any style (even poetry) with the word count being the only restriction. Today is Bout #.  Read each sample carefully and then leave a vote in the comment section for the one that resonates with you the most.  Anyone can vote... but only once per bout. Don’t forget to leave with a brief critique of both submissions as well.

Voting for each bout will remain open for one week. The winner of each will be posted HERE, at the WRiTE CLUB scoreboard.  Are you ready?


Here are the first two randomly selected WRiTER's.

Standing in this corner, representing the general fiction genre and weighing in at 496 words, please welcome to the ring……..Calliope's Doormat




“Heads, we get married; tails we break up,” blasted the neon-gilded jukebox from the corner. I rolled my eyes, this was the new girl under thirty mantra-song. The girl who’d picked it turned to the table full of her friends and danced her way back, singing along.

Zeke downed the rest of his beer, and slammed a meaty hand on the dull bar. Pretzels clattered to the floor. He glared accusingly at the wayward snacks then at me. “Another beer, Billy.” He looked across the bar at the group of women as if they were in cahoots with the pretzels. “That’s bull, ya’ know.” Zeke drew out the word, “bull” until he sounded like one of the animals himself.

“I’m Mike, man,” I slid another MGD in front of him. “What’s bull?”

Zeke gestured pointed at the jukebox so hard he almost toppled to the floor. “That song, Billy, she made millions on it, and it’s just about her leaving her boyfriend. He wanted to marry her.”

“Well, yeah, chicks love that song, it makes them feel empowered.”

“Em-what?”

I reminded myself for the five hundredth time that I had to get out of this town. “It makes them feel like they’re in charge.” Zeke glared at me and I faltered. He was a good ole boy who would pound me easily. “They say she grew up here in Waxahachie.”

Zeke shrugged and rubbed his hands through his unruly dark hair. “Yeah, she did, I guess.”

One of the girls at the table in the back, the friend of the girl who’d picked the song, came up to the bar. “We’ll have another round, please.” Between the dancing, the rum, and her spiked heels, she tottered like a newborn foal. She started to tumble and Zeke reached out with a large arm and caught her at the small of her back to keep her from falling over. She turned to Zeke, and gave him a feral smile while he removed his hand. “Well, hi there. Thanks for your help.”

Zeke looked at her like something that was stuck to the bottom of his boot. He sneered and turned away.

“Fine, be that way.” She stormed back to her table.

Zeke gestured to his empty bottle and I shook my head. “Zeke, you gotta give me your keys if you want another one.”

Zeke took the keys out and threw them at me. I opened another MGD for him. “She’s hot, why didn’t you go for it.”

Zeke squinted at me and cocked his head to the side. I’ve been doing this a while and I know he was deciding which one of me was real. “Billy...”

“I’m still Mike,” I said.

“Billy, I’m not goin’ there.”

“Why not? She looked okay to me.” “I’m not gonna tap the fangirl when I had the real thing. I came up with that whole stupid idea about the coin and had to flip fuckin’ tails.”

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And in the other corner, representing the fantasy genre with 337 words, let me introduce to you……….Savannah




He was cold. He knew nothing but cold, though, it was the same to him as warm is to us.

He gleamed in the moonlight, reflecting it. like a child being smiled on by a parent smiles back.

He was small enough that someone watching from far away would not have recognized him as a snowman, or even a snow child. He was small enough that the woods surrounding him looked even larger than they were, and they were large. He raised chubby arms to the trees as if asking to be picked up, but trees know nothing of stooping. One tossed him a bit of branch tip to play with, and the snow child tucked it behind where an ear might have been, if he had had ears.

He sat in the snow after a bit, playing the way small children play in snow – digging holes, and filling them. If someone had been listening, they might have heard a tiny hum. Or they might not. They might have heard snow being shifted by the wind.

A small rabbit, hunted, saw the holes being dug and ran for shelter. The snow child did not know rabbits, but he knew smallness. He was a tree to the rabbit. He curled around it, making it vanish. Keeping it safe.

But snow children have no smell. Rabbits do. To the hungry fox, the snow child was transparent. The fox ran to the heap of snow that held the rabbit and began to dig.

If someone had been there, they would have heard snow flying from the paws of the fox. Seen it sparkling in the air as it took flight, returning to the sky.

Someone was there.

Someone who could stoop to touch the earth, to lift a snow child and an astonished rabbit. Someone who could put them where no fox could follow. If you had been there, you would have seen her gleaming smile.

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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.  Which one tickled your fancy?  After you vote please tell all of your friends to stop by and make a selection as well (but no coaching about who to vote for).  Yes, it’s subjective, but so is the entire publishing world.  It’s as much about the readers as it is about the writers. 

This is WRiTE CLUB – the contest where the audience gets clobbered!

64 comments

  1. Going with Calliope's Doormat as I felt it had more context. Savannah felt more like poetry in that it seemed vague to me. I kind of got lost... (Maybe I just didn't get it :( Shame on me.)

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  2. Even though I felt Calliope's Doormat was a over-written and could stand editing, there was a through line of a story. For me Savannah felt to much like a sketch for a story, instead of a story (or part thereof), and the effect was a very distanced read - as if we were seeing what the writer intended to write about, instead of the story itself.
    For me, Victory to Calliope's Doormat on a unanimous points decision.

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  3. I'm going with Savannah's. I liked the ethereal, almost Gaimanesque quality of it.

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  4. Calliope's Doormat. It had a few issues that need working on, but overall I found it more interesting.

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  5. They were both great, in different ways. My vote is for Savannah.

    Calliope's Doormat was glimpse inside a much longer story, or perhaps a novel. I liked the well set scene and realness of the characters. I felt sorry for Zeke. My favorite line from the story was, " Between the dancing, the rum, and her spiked heels, she tottered like a newborn foal."

    Savannah's story was magical, and she created a real sense of what being a snow child could be like. I voted for her story because of the overall mood the story created. I reread it and it's hard to explain but the way she weaves real actions with what isn't happening and could happen, and doing at the right pace.

    I'd be happy to read more from both authors.

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  6. Great first day of WRiTE Club! My vote goes to Calliope's Doormat. I liked the gritty reality of it and the way it the end twisted around to the beginning.

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  8. (Ok, gosh darnit, where's the edit function on these posts when you spot a typo?! Anyway....)

    Calliope's Doormat needed reading twice before I got it (a side effect of squeezing a story into a low word count?) but I vote for it. Zeke was suitably annoying, the twist was clever. Savannah's piece was beautifully painted, but the emotional distance is too great for me to engage. After all, getting clawed apart by a fox has got to hurt. Perhaps if we were to explore the snow child's pain and terror a bit more, I might feel happier when she was saved.

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  9. My vote is for Calliope's Doormat. The voice hooked me instantly and I sympathized with bitter Zeke, who clearly had a chip on his shoulder for some reason. I wanted to know what it was! I also chuckled when he kept calling Mike "Billy," and enjoyed the twist at the end - that he was the one who inspired the song. I would definitely keep reading!

    Savannah - I enjoyed the imagery in your piece. However, there was a detachment there that kept me out of the scene. I felt that this was something I saw playing out before my eyes, because it's description, rather than something I was part of and pulled into. As in query letters, there is such a short space of time for you to grab a reader, and unfortunately this didn't catch me.

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  10. My vote is for Calliope's Doormat - though there were a few things I'd change, over all it felt more engaging to me. I had a clear sense of time and place. Also, I'm planning on voting until the semi-finals, when I'll then bow out until the finals. Is that okay? Let me know if you want me to not vote :)

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  11. They were both wonderful entries, but Savannah gets my vote today. Reading it took me to a magical, faraway place and I loved that. Certain parts could be a little less vague, but overall, great.

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  12. Calliope all the way for me. Savannah just didn't pull me in.

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  13. I enjoyed both pieces.
    Calliope's Doormat had a gritty, in-your-face quality. Savannah's piece was ethereal and quite endearing.
    Today my vote is for Savannah.

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  14. Boy that is a tough matchup! The pieces are so different.
    I have to go with Savannah though. It had a magic to it that left me wanting to spend more time in that world.
    Calliope's doormat was well constructed but didn't really leave me curious.

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  15. Hmm, the Internet seems to have eaten my original comment, so please forgive me if this is a repeat vote!

    Calliope's Doormat needs some tightening, but it has voice, plot, and well-developed characters, as well as some funny descriptions.

    Savannah felt too distant. Perhaps not opening with a statement of how different from us the snow child is would help connect readers to the snow child. As it is, I felt like I was looking in on an author constructing a story rather than empathizing with the main character. Normally, I'm a sucker for fantasy, but I feel like Savannah needs to bring the reader deeper into the story - or maybe just write with a little more authority. I can't pinpoint it, but it felt like the author was tiptoeing around the story rather than telling it straight out.

    Ugh. Savannah has a more intriguing concept, but if I base my vote on how well developed and clearly written the piece is, I have to vote Calliope.

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  16. Savannah, for me, although I'm normally not drawn to that ethereal style. I enjoyed Calliope's Doormat too, especially the "newborn foal" line, but there were too many editing and punctuation errors that detracted from the piece.

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  17. Hooray for the return of WriteClub! I'm going to be crazy busy this summer, but I'm looking forward to stopping by and getting a dose of new writing and competitive spirit whenever I can. :)
    Calliope's Doormat presented a piece with general clarity, strong emotions, and an interesting story arc. I found it somewhat predictable and a little cliché, unfortunately, but I think if the author had more room to draw out that story line, it could really work.
    Savannah's felt like it was trying to be poetic, but for me an insanely strong command of the English language is absolutely essential for lyrical, poetic writing, and this lacked that. The first two sentences were very stumbling and lacking in clear grammar and punctuation. From then on, there was a nice lilting rhythm to the paragraphs, but the story never got interesting. I'm curious to see if other readers felt differently, but I couldn't summon up any emotional connection with the snow child.
    SO my vote is for #1.

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  18. Calliope's Doormat, it's fun and funny even if it could be tightened some.

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  19. Oops. I forgot my brief critique. Calliope's Doormat made me want to know the rest of the story. Unfortunately, Savannah being fantasy-like is not my favorite genre.

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  20. I cast my vote for Savannah, because I prefer stories that are not real-world based. Though the snow-child story is a little too abstract for my taste, I did enjoy the poetic and evocative language used in the piece. It had that dramatic "feeling" about it that real world stories often lack for me.

    In contrast to other comments, I didn't find Calliope's story all that well structured. I had a hard time getting a bead on the narrator. At first the MC makes the comment that the song is the latest thing for women under 30, so I was expecting a female in that role. It took me a few paragraphs to realize this was two guys talking rather than a girl and a guy. Then when Zeke repeatedly calls the MC Billy in defiance of the MC saying his name is Mike because Zeke is trying to figure out which one of him is real? I think I would have enjoyed this piece a more if the identity of the MC was a little less cryptic.

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  21. Calliope's Doormat by a knockout! Sue me, but I'm partial to gritty reality. ;-)

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  22. Calliope's doormat I also had to read twice. A few errors here and there. Savannah I read twice as well and by the second read appreciated it more. Good writing and congrats to both. Vote is for savannah

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  23. Don: every day for 10 weeks, Aeiiay, don't know that I can show up every day.

    Both of these excerpts need editing. Callope's less so, but the writing style - rolled eyes, exaggerated and extreme movements and emotions to show tension - is typical and expected in NA romance. Savanah's excerpt is abstract and vague, but does use a good mix of action in all that telling description. While I'm not connected to the child, I feel a potential for a beautifully magical moment for a flash.

    Give my vote to Savanah.

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  24. Both pieces were interesting in their own way. I liked how Calliope's tricked me into thinking she was going with the stereotypical redneck at a bar. The ending surprised me and endeared me to a character I was previously rolling my eyes at. But there were too many edits needed and several other areas that felt a bit cliche.

    In the end, I have to vote for Savannah. Her writing style is original and beautiful. It was distant, and purposely so. I felt like I was part of a poem, weaving in and out to the rhythm of her words. By the end, I found myself desperate to keep reading.

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  25. Vote goes to Calliope's Doormat.

    I like the way a much larger story is told very suddenly with the twist at the end. Though I do feel the descriptions were a little much and made the main character feel like he had an insulting personality ("He's acting like a bull", "She looks like a foal") which I didn't like, but it -did- give him personality, which is very important.

    By comparison, Savannah was much more vague. An interesting concept but that seemed to be the whole story. It didn't get me attached to the character (I figure it wasn't supposed to, but becoming attached to the characters is what I like in a story - a series of events is boring if you have no attachment to the beings they are happening to)

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  26. Have to go with Savannah. Something is happening on the page there that I like very much.

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  27. While both pieces were given to a bit of cliche, I appreciated the realism of the first piece. The second was interesting, but the many similes and analogies distracted me more than drew me in.

    My vote goes to Calliope's Doormat.

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  28. My vote: Calliope's Doormat

    I voted for this one even though I do think it's a little over-written and it leans a little too far into the Texas stereotype. Some gives us setting, too much makes it seem campy. With regards to the overwriting, I especially noticed the last line. It should be a mic drop, but it dragged. Your average reader will have guessed that this guy is the guy from the song once you mention the singer is from Waxahatchie. That last line is to make the reader go "Aha! I was right. I so smart." In my humble opinion, I'd slice down the last line to something along the lines of: "“My dumb idea and had to flip fuckin’ tails.”

    As to Savannah. I actually think this was the better written piece on writing alone. But I failed to connect with it. I need to know who I'm caring about and why. I get that you want some mystery in the beginning to make the reader turn the page, but I need enough connection to want to solve the mystery. I need to know stakes and main character. But you're definitely a gifted writer.

    All in all, this was a great way to start a Monday!

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  29. In Calliope's Doormat, for me, the set up was a bit cliche, and I wasn't surprised at all by the ending. The sentence structure was complicated and the punctuation seemed pretty random.

    Savannah was more focused on the character. The style evoked the emotions of a child, and I loved the ending. My vote goes to Savannah.

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  30. I'm torn because I like things about both these excerpts. But at the end of the day, I have to go with the energy and verve of Calliope's Doormat over the quiet, but reserved beauty of Savannah's piece. So Calliope's Doormat for me.

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  31. I don't think my comment got published. I like Calliope's Doormat. I did want it to end.

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  32. Calliope's Doormat - Could use a little polish in the grammar department. I felt I knew where it was going by the middle, and I was right. A complete story in the 500-word confinement though, so great job with that.

    Savannah- ". like a child being smiled on by a parent smiles back. " It feels like something went missing there. The story still needs some polish. However, there's some great imagery there. I see a spark.

    It's a close call between the two. But Savannah gets my vote in this round.

    Congratulations to you both.

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  33. Both entries have strong points, but if savannah had taken advantage of the full 500 words it might have pushed me in the story's favor. I vote for calliope.

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  34. I vote for Calliope's Doormat. With just the brief glimpse we were given, I felt the bartender and Zeke really came through as characters. I loved the line, "I'd been doing this a while and I know he was deciding which one of me was real." I'd definitely read more of this writer.

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  35. The first one is good. But it feels like it's been done before.
    The second seems to really be going to a new place, and made me want more.
    So I vote savannah.

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  36. I vote for Savannah. I enjoyed both pieces quite a bit, but I found Savannah's piece to be more artfully written and generally more engaging. I thought the second person voice at the end was intriguing as well.

    For Calliope's Doormat, I thought it had nice character development in such a short span. I especially liked Zeke mistaking the bartender's name a couple times. I wonder if it's an early draft, though? I think it could use a bit of revising to smooth out word choices and sentence structure. I love contemporary, though, and really enjoyed reading it.

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  37. Congratulations to both authors for making the cut! This was not an easy decision. Savannah's piece has lovely prose and rhythm to it, but I felt like we were robbed of the conflict when the nameless lady shows up to save the day with all her mystical powers. Worse, the author had 160 more words at his or her disposal to do more.

    Calliope's Doormat was a bit rougher around the edges in both content and polish level, but the twist at the end really cast the MGD-drinking country boy in a new light. Bottom line, I wanted to be entertained and this fit the bill.

    Calliope's Doormat therefore wins my vote.

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  38. CALLIOPE'S DOORMAT gets my vote.

    Both pieces are good in very different ways, but Savannah's piece was a little too much narrative for my taste.

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  39. I vote for Savannah.

    Doormat is a better writer but his subject matter is not engaging.

    Savannah's imagination has potential though her technique needs a lot of work.

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  40. Well, it seems we're off and running again. I really was enchanted by #2. There were so many enticing possibilities in this piece. I wanted to continue reading it. My vote is #2

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  41. I vote for Calliope's Doormat, mainly because I could picture the scene in my head. The second one was too vague for me.

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  42. Comes down to personal preference. Savannah's was well written and mysterious, but it's not what I read.

    I read and write much more like C Doormat. Agree it needs editing, but it kept my interest.

    Vote Calliope's Doormat

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  43. Both were great entries, so it is hard to decide. My vote is with Calliope's Doormat- the setting and characters seem credible to me. Savannah offered some vivid imagery, but I found myself more connected to the first excerpt nonetheless.

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  44. I had to read each of the stories twice. I liked both of them better after the second read. I liked the poetic imagery of Savannah and the plot twist in Calliope’s Doormat.
    I am going to go with Calliope’s Doormat simply because of the story.

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  45. Calliope's Doormat - I liked the excerpt. It was well written and except for a few places that it could be tightened, it seemed pretty clean to me. It was an intriguing scene and I would have kept reading.

    Savannah - While there was some nice imagery, the piece was too vague. It read like poetry except it isn't a poem. I didn't connect to the piece because it lacked a character to attach to.

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  46. Calliope's Doormat- it had a clearer story line. I agree with Laura about Savannah, good imagery but lacks a character, Calliope's Doormat had atmosphere, a clear character and a good storyline.

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  47. I vote for Savannah. It was charming and poetic. I felt an innocence that was welcoming. C D just didn't do it for me for some reason....

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  48. I vote for Savannah. I am a huge fan of lyrical prose and unconventional stories and was hooked by the piece's innocent simplicity. I wanted to keep reading because the concept was so unique! I didn't mind that there was little character development because it was almost like a child recalling a beautiful dream, which I think is quite endearing.

    On the other hand, while Calliope's Doormat established a strong sense of setting and great characterization, I thought it didn't particularly stand out from other scenes of its kind. While Zeke did come off as a realistic character, I unfortunately wasn't hooked by the voice or by the concept itself.

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  49. I vote for Calliope's Doormat. It was a bit stilted to begin with, the barman and drinker were difficult to separate, but it had more of a story to follow.

    Savannah's was too abstract for me, I couldn't engage or get involved with the characters.

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  50. Both entries were good in their own way. While I preferred the setting and mood of Savannah, I thought it needed more incremental development.

    Calliope's Doormat had some cliches, but also some original and fun metaphors, plus more careful development.
    I vote for Calliope's Doormat.

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  51. I'm going with Savannah. I really don't like how women are depicted in the first one.

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  52. Calliope's Doormat. I felt like I was there. It was engaging and kept me interested. I just couldn't dedicate myself to Savannah. It felt too dreamy, which I suppose is why I'm not a fantasy reader.

    A bit of advice to both writers...vary the way you start your paragraphs. Calliope's Doormat started too many with Zeke, while Savannah started with too many He or Someone.

    Great job, writers!

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  53. My vote goes to Savannah, an intriguing beginning.

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  54. First round and I'm already having trouble choosing. I loved the writing of Calliope's Doormat ("I'm still Mike..." but Savannah's snow child had the magic. My vote goes to Savannah.

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  55. I vote for Calliope's Doormat. I couldn't really figure out what was happening in Savannah; in fact, it didn't seem like anything was happening. Also, the problems with punctuation and capitalization bothered me.

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  56. I also vote for Calliope's Doormat. I agree with the previous voter (Cheryl Clark). I had a hard time with Savannah's story, due to punctuation and style issues. After rereading the story, I'm still puzzled by the second sentence in the story's opening. Still, had Savannah's story been edited properly (without losing the author's voice), it could be fantastic.

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