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 #13 - remains open until noon on Tuesday - March 29th.
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 Middle Grade Science Fiction genre with 496 words, welcome to the ring Bluebonnet.
Brenna figured she was crazy.
Not crazy like Ms. Morgenstein who collected anything ‘cat’ but had an eye-watering super sneezing fit around real ones. Also not crazy like Hairy Harry who slept on the park bench and drooled into his scraggly beard. More like a seeing things kind of crazy.
Because for half a second, that stray dog had looked like something else. Brenna sat on her porch, hugged her knees to her chest, and looked again.
The dog stared back at her, small with brown fur and big brown eyes. It wagged its tail and grinned a dog-slobbery grin almost like it was reassuring her that it was just a simple ordinary little dog. Or maybe it was laughing at her.
If she told her parents about the dog, they’d probably laugh, too. Not at Brenna, but with her, in a secret family-joke kind of way, because Brenna had what Dad called an over-active imagination.
As a really little kid Brenna used to make up all kinds of stories. Like she broke the vase to scare away burglars. Or she hadn’t washed behind her ears because the extra dirt helped her hear. Or she couldn’t clean her room because the mess confused the nightmares.
Mom said Brenna had to learn the difference between telling a story and telling a lie.
Brenna was almost twelve now and she’d grown out of all that make-believe nonsense. Well, mostly. Until today.
She glanced at the dog, and then away, because she didn’t want to see what she thought she saw. “I just imagined it,” she said out loud to convince herself it was true.
Baxter plopped down on the porch steps beside her. “Imagined what?”
Brenna twisted a strand of hair around her finger. Baxter’s make-believe talents were a close second to hers. It’s what made them friends. And what got them into heaps of trouble. But if anyone would understand, he would. “It’s that stray dog.”
Baxter nodded toward the grinning mongrel. “What about it?”
“Stare at it.”
“You’ll see.” Or maybe he won’t. Then what?
“You want me to have a starring contest with a dog?” He laughed.
Brenna didn’t. “I’m serious.”
“Fine,” he said with a humoring-her grin. Elbows on knees and chin cupped in his hands, he fixed his eyes on the dog. “Say ‘go.’”
But she didn’t have to.
Baxter quickly flinched and pulled back. “Whoa!” He rubbed his eyes. “What was that?”
Brenna leaned forward. “What’d you see?”
“You say first?”
The dog cocked its ears toward them.
Brenna twisted her hair tighter and tighter around her finger. “I saw a thing with narrow green eyes, blue spiked fur, and hands and feet instead of paws.”
The dog’s eyes narrowed.
Baxter nodded. “So are we seeing things?” he asked.
“Both of us? The same thing?” Brenna shook her head. “I don’t think so.”
The dog growled and crept toward them.Baxter grabbed Brenna’s arm. “Maybe we better go inside,” he whispered.
And in the far corner, representing the YA Fantasy genre with 495 words, also welcome to the ring Carlyle Conner.
I can’t afford record albums, not on my meager lawn mowing and paper route wages. Eight hard earned bucks is excessive when I have to stretch and skimp to make sure my hicksville hometown doesn’t get sucked into a black vortex or suffer a biblical-level smiting. Singles on the other hand are cheap and deliver some wicked cool spell casting material. A good 45 gets you two songs and maybe a jacket sleeve with dope artwork. That means any old single won’t do. I have to find just the right mix of songs and imagery to support my spells. This has required some experimentation, so far with mixed results.
Take the Rolling Stones’ ‘Start Me Up’ 45. The title and song drips with potency. Couple that with an animal leg stuffed in a high-heeled shoe on the sleeve and you get some potent mana. So I concocted a spell to stop the curse in old man Pruitt’s apple orchard. It completely backfired. A record should have the opposite effect spun backwards. ‘Start Me Up’ becomes ‘Shut Me Down’. Well it did just that and quite a bit more. The blight instantly ended. But the apples rotted and overnight the trees withered and died. Then these chitinous creepies arrived; looking like something straight out of Lovecraft with 10 appendages and dozens of eyes. Feeding on the roots, they mutated into more sinister creatures. Using the B Side I recast the spell causing the soil to rejuvenate and the creepies to hibernate. I am still working on a spell to exterminate them.
Now back to my experimentation. The sleeve to ELO’s ‘Shine A Little Love’ shows a boy, maybe my age, from Arabia or the like. He is clutching this neon glowing talisman, Simon game, whatever; call it a source of mana. And the song is cool beans too I grant you that. But the B Side, that’s some far out stuff. ‘The Jungle’ is steeped in mysticism, and contains rhythmic chants in a secret language. Which is too dangerous to carelessly use in magic. You know, like in that book, “The Lord of the Rings”, when Gandalf refuses to read Frodo the glowing elvish words on the ring…Anyway, what is opposite of jungle? Something man-made I reckon. A truck is man-made. And when mom’s car got repossessed, I whipped up a spell to get grandpa’s old abandoned truck running. For over a decade it had been rusting away beyond hope. I plugged in the extension cord, sat the turntable needle down on the record, spun it backwards and cast my spell. Lighting the jacket on fire completed it. There was a blinding shimmer of light, lots of smoke and what I can only describe as both the loudest belch and smelliest fart I ever experienced. When the smoke cleared, there sat grandpa’s truck, shiny like new in a neon glow. But you have to sing the secret language chant to operate it. “Chooka chooka hoo lalie.”__________________________________________________________________________________
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!