This is it...the last week of preliminary bouts and a chance for some of you to finally find out if your writing sample was picked out of the one-hundred seventy one submitted this year. Needless to say, even those who are unable to claim victory in their match have nothing to hang their head about -- just getting into the ring was a feat in and of itself.
And kudo's to everyone who have helped drive interest in WRiTE CLUB these first two weeks. Week 1 bouts averaged 67 votes/comments (a new record) and a total of 3400+ views. WAY TO GO!! All of the winners have been posted on the WRiTE CLUB Scorecard and I'll continue to update it as we move through the contest. Unfortunately, voting has dropped off significantly during the second week, but there is still time to do something about that. Here's where I remind everyone that voting for every bout remains live for one week, so lets do everything we can to see that our 2nd week writers get the same amount of attention as the first.
For you newbies - here's a reminder of how this works. This is the 3rd and final week of daily bouts (M-F) between writing samples that are identified only by the craftily selected pen names of the respective submitters. The writing can be from any genre, any age group, taken either from a larger piece of work or simply a stand alone flash fiction. The focus is on the writing...not the writer...or its categorization. The two writing samples for each bout will be randomly matched and step into the ring for a chance to find out what they're made of.
The winner of each contest is chosen by you...the reader. Simply read each entry and leave your vote in the comment section below. Anyone can vote, as long as you have a Google ID or belong to Google Friend Connect. Anonymous voting is not allowed. It is also customary to leave a brief critique of both pieces. You see, the comments are where the true value of this contest makes itself known. Not only do the contestants gain valuable insight about their work from those remarks, but everybody can benefit from how each piece is received and what works...and what doesn't. Please remember to remain respectful with your comments. If you see an opportunity for improvement, make it known in the most positive way possible.
How do you choose a winner? What criteria should be used? The method by which you determine who to vote for is entirely up to you. Which one resonates with you the most? Which one makes you want to read more? Which one demonstrates a total command of the English language and how it can be used to elicit emotion or paint a mental picture you can't stop staring at. There is no hard and fast way rules for determining a winner -- and that's exactly what the publishing world is like. But today you get to decide. At stake is a chance to win free admission to the 2017 DFW Writers Conference and some bragging rights.
The voting for this bout - Bout #12 - remains open until noon on Monday - March 28th.
That's the bell...and its trying to tell us something.
Let me introduce to you the contestants for this bout. In the near corner, representing the xAdult Science Fiction genre with 490 words, welcome to the ring Jean Rabender.
Queen Cleopatra’s eyes widened. She lifted herself from the delicate dais and reached out to touch the ‘Golden Honor’ Benedict held in his hand. “Fit for a queen,” he told her, relishing that he held it just beyond her grasp, “but meant only for a leader.”
Her eyes flashed in momentary anger. She lunged the remaining inches to snatch it from his hands. The time-traveler doubted she’d ever seen anything resembling clear plastic packaging before. And he damn well knew she’d never tasted anything like the spongy, cream-filled contents within.
“You have to unwrap it,” he said, leaning forward to help, marveling that his modern common fingers might brush those of a legend. “Go on. Take a bite. It’s filled with trans fats.” Benedict stretched out the words ‘trans’ and ‘fats’ so that they lingered on the tongue, a syllabic smorgasbord of decadence for the inexperienced, yet pecunious, palate.
Queen Cleopatra lifted the cake hesitantly to her lips. He watched her weigh the benefits of having a handmaiden try the suspicious treat first before deciding the risk of devaluing something rare was too great. She bit off the end of the Twinkie ® with a rapidity that would make any male consort shudder, and as she chewed her heavily painted lids widened even further. Two more bites and the black makeup above her eyes danced enough to draw their own second set of lines.
Cleopatra licked her painted nails cleans. She regarded the time-traveler evenly for a moment. Then she reached out like lightning and grabbed his collar to yank him close. “You will bring me more just like this,” she threatened.
And now he had the upper hand, just as he had with his Ding Dongs ® and Napoleon, his Double Stuf Oreos ® and Charlemagne, his McDonald's Apple Dippers ® and the morbidly overweight King Louis XIV, who had ironically begged for the fast food chain’s healthy alternative to french fries until he’d come to tears, punching fists into pillows in his bed chamber, driving lovers off the silken bed he, in his final days, was too fat to leave. The king had thrown every jewel and gold coin he’d had at Benedict until he’d run his nobles dry. Then he melted things down. And when that proved too time-consuming (for Benedict insisted he was on a schedule) the king offered larger rewards: land and horses and concubines by the dozen. But Benedict wouldn’t accept anything he couldn’t carry in his pockets. This fact nearly drove the king mad in his final hours. There was nothing like a monarch out of wealthy yet portable options.
And now he had another one. Cleopatra’s angry breath smelled of cinnamon and coriander. But there was an undercurrent her peons would never scent: need, vulnerability, and the abyss of being actually denied!
And in the far corner, representing the Romance genre with 489 words, also welcome to the ring Zola Mars.
“Why didn’t my parents ever adopt you?” Jocelyn said.
She’d always meant to ask, but the question flew out before she could stop it.
Heath false-started a few times, his mouth opening and closing. “Let’s not get into that now.”
She turned fully in the passenger seat, folding one leg under her. The question was already out; she might as well double-down. Plus it wasn’t like there could be more tension in the car. Not when Steve was in the trunk.
“Because I don’t want to discuss it.” His tone left no doubt: case-closed, stop asking.
Her brother had told her more than once to leave Heath alone about his past—particularly about his parents. Joc, we don’t know why it’s painful for him, but accept that it is. Don’t go sticking your fingers into open wounds. It’s not kind.
But she couldn’t resist. Not to purposely hurt Heath—she’d tried to move past old vengeful thoughts—but because she was too curious. She was a cat to his laser pointer.
“I thought Steve wanted us to talk,” she said.
Heath continued staring through the windshield.
“Okay.” She put her hand to her throat. “I guess I could fill the time with singing—”
His eyes shot over to her. “Jesus, no! Anything but that.”
She laughed and then glowered. “I’m not that bad.”
“Anyone who told you that was trying to sell you something.”
She broke into an Adele song, her raspy voice cracking and straining.
Heath raised his hand in surrender. “Uncle! Anything. Just stop.”
She pursed her lips.
His shoulders quivered with a long shudder, then he shook his head like he was clearing water from his ears. “For a beautiful woman you’re as tone deaf as a troll. Do you just not hear the notes?”
“I’m a beautiful woman?” She scrunched her nose and shifted her mouth, pulling the ridge of her lip.
“Well… not at the moment.”
She removed her sunglasses and rolled her eyes as slowly as possible. Green and flecks of gold flashed at him from lids that slanted up.
“Come on,” he sighed. “You’ve noticed the reaction you get from guys. I’m not telling you anything you don’t know.”
“I didn’t know trolls were tone deaf.”
He sighed and stared at her.
“Besides it means more coming from you.” Her voice was suddenly naked, stripped of the defense of sarcasm. Tourette’s, definitely fucking Tourette’s.
She rearranged her long violet-streaked hair over her shoulders and shielded her eyes with her lashes.
The ensuing quiet was equal parts awful and maddening. If she opened the door and rolled out would she definitely die? She wouldn’t want to survive it. Eh, either way it would get her out of the conversation. Might be worth trying it.
“Does it?” he asked softly.
She took her hand off of the door handle and shrugged. “Any connoisseur of women.”
He raised an eyebrow. She knew he wasn’t going to let her get away with that explanation.__________________________________________________________________________________
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. Read both pieces, choose the one you feel is superior, then say so in the comments below and provide a mini-critique for each.
Enjoy the rest of your week, but not before you tell all of your friends to stop by and make a selection as well. Tweet about it, and if you do please use the hashtag #WRiTECLUB2016. Tell everyone about WRiTE CLUB, where it’s not about the last man/woman standing, but who knocks the audience out!