It's time to lace up those gloves and put up some dukes!
Today we continue the march towards choosing a new WRiTE CLUB Champion. Over the course of the coming weeks, this blog will host 15 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.
The voting for each bout will remain open for one week, so even though a new bout will be posted every day, you don't miss out on anything if you miss a few days. You can always catch up on several bouts at once if you so desire. Once the voting period ends and the votes have been tabulated, the results will be posted HERE, on the WRiTE CLUB scorecard. After we make it through the 15 preliminary bouts, then the winners will have to continue on through cage matches, then play-offs, until there are only two left with a chance to win free admission to the 2017 DFW Writers Conference.
The voting for this bout - Bout #2 - remains open until noon on Monday - March 14th.
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 Adult Romance genre with 498 words, welcome to the ring Lizzie Bennet.
It’s not superstition. It’s known fact. Shit happens in threes. And tonight for Olivia Aberdeen that meant fighting for the life of a patient fate marked for death. Liv squeezed her eyes shut. She couldn’t stomach the bend and recoil of ribs beneath her fingers.
“No. No. NO! One more. One more round,” she pleaded, pounding away at the toddlers’ chest. Here it was. The third code for the day. Everyone knew the outcome would be when they got ambulance call, but this one had to turn around. It had too.
By all accounts they’d done everything. Lines, drips, meds. And more rounds of CPR than she could keep track of. There were no more ‘Hail Mary’s’ to pass. Liv forced her eyes open and searched the room, trying to connect with one person that still held onto hope this would be the patient they’d save today.
She pinched back angry, resentful tears at her chosen profession. “She’s a baby! C’MON y’all, One more.” Sweat dotted her forehead. A medic, pale and conflicted, helped take over compressions. She backed away, bent at the knees exhausted and hungry for air. It’s the longest two minutes of your existence, standing over a person and beating life into their heart.
Crowded at the head of the stretcher was the ER resident. No more than twenty-seven, it was up to him to call the time of death of a child, to say with finality that a Mother would never speak to her baby girl again.
He took a sobering breath then blew it through his nose. “Alright, Liv. One more. Push a high dose epi and someone grab me the ultrasound machine. Let’s see if we can get something back to shock. How much longer until parents arrive?” People buzzed around, falling into their roles without direction. That’s the mark of a good trauma team. And even though she was new and a transplant, she melted right in.
Liv checked the Braslow’s tape and grabbed the corresponding med to the babies’ size. She’d thank the Lord later for the invention that made medication math fool proof, and use the time to ask God for one of his miracles, “Epi’s in,” she answered.
A little head popped around the curtain closing in the controlled chaos, “Family is here. I had the chaplain escort them to the private waiting room.” There was hushed discussion as to when the parents should be brought back. The answer should always be right away, but sometimes you need to compose yourself for the impending outcome.
“I’ll go,” Liv said. It was her responsibility, but the idea of doing this for the third time in less than twelve hours tore a hole in her gut no amount of Mylanta would fix. She caught the eye of the resident. He dropped a dollop of lube onto the sono machine and pressed it against the little one’s chest. Liv held her breath. Everyone held their breath.
And in the far corner, representing the YA Science Fiction genre with 441 words, also welcome to the ring Parchment Princess.
My brothers strapped me to the chair and swung my bound arm away from my body. I closed my eyes, prepared for more broken fingers or a broken hand, and steeled myself from the pain. What came, though, was much worse.
I felt the blade cut through my skin and smelled my burning flesh. My eyes snapped open to reveal my father carving up my arm with the fiery red tip of his penknife. I squeezed my eyes shut again to block out the vision and bit my lip to keep from screaming. The pain shot through my body, each cut of the knife another excruciating shock to my system. Beads of sweat formed on my brow, and I felt bile rise in my throat.
I lasted two minutes before I released my first scream. It startled me, the sound of my own blood-curdling cry, and it made me laugh. My father, angered by my response, pressed harder. I screamed again, the pain so intense I nearly passed out. My parents were prepared for this. My mother doused me in ice-cold water, and my eyes flew open to see my father still tattooing my bloody arm.
I closed my eyes and pictured Thomas’ sweet face. “Please”, I silently prayed, “help me survive this. Don’t let them break me. There’s still so much I can do.” Peacefulness washed over me, and I knew then what to do. They could burn my book, but they couldn’t make me forget my favorite passages. I started to recite them to myself, concentrating on the words instead of the pain. I transported myself to a better time and place, using the words to guide me.
My father continued carving, whistling now, trying to drive me mad and take away my divine inner peace. I allowed another scream to escape my lips before moving on to the next passage.
My father finally finished, and he set aside the knife. He studied his work and nudged me, insisting I look at it too. “Now,” he said calmly, “the motto you chose so long ago will serve as a reminder of who you really are.”
I read the still bloody, swollen words neatly carved on my inner arm. Veni, Vidi, Vici. They lined up perfectly with the infinity symbol, the mark of the New World Order, now carved on the palm of my hand. It was the perfect punishment. I could never outrun my past with it tattooed on the deadliest part of my body.
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.
Now go tell all of your friends to stop by and make a selection as well. If you're going to Tweet about this, please use the hashtag #WRiTECLUB2016. Tell them about WRiTE CLUB, where it’s not about the last man/woman standing, but who knocks the audience out!