Three writers enter...but only one can move on!
You thought the voting was difficult before? It's time to take it up a notch. Winners from the previous three weeks of preliminary bouts have again been randomly matched, this time in groups of three, to do battle against different opponents using the same writing sample from their first round. We will host five of these cage bouts this week (M-F).
Here's how it works. Writing samples from three different writers, identified only by the craftily selected pen names of the respective submitters, are competing against one another. 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. If you haven't already done so in a previous round, it is customary to leave a brief critique of all the 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 bragging rights.
Your voting takes on an added significance this week as not only will the five winners move onto to the next round, the submission that does not win their bout but tally's the most votes among the losers will move forward as a wildcard selection as well.
It's time to introduce our contestants and get this party started.
Writer #1 is representing the Adult Science Fiction genre with 490 words. Please give a warm welcome to 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!
Writer #2 represents the Adult Psychological Thriller genre with 496 words. Please welcome back into the arena Crash Override.
The sound a van makes when it hits a pedestrian is quieter than one would assume.
The last thing I ever thought would be going through my mind as said van slams into me is the toilet paper I’d forgotten to buy off my grocery list.
Everyone else gets their life flashing before their eyes, and I’m stuck with—Oh no, you forgot the damn TP, again!
Twisting metal against twisting flesh makes for one macabre dance. My luck being what it was, I don’t even get the visual relief of unconsciousness. No, I see every little infinitesimal moment go by in slow motion. The impact reverberates through my body, up into my soul, until the whole world is consumed by my anguished cries.
Or if not the whole world then at least, maybe, the two Asian girls holding umbrellas in the pouring LA rain who come to my rescue—once the accident is over. And possibly, the fabulously-fabulous man in his cutoff jean shorts who happens to have a pen and paper handy to write the whole incident down.
The screams of my sister, Rae, as she watched the whole thing take place just a few steps behind me in the crosswalk—well, they probably filled in where mine left off. Our voices intertwined as we wove a song of fear and terror—five short seconds and one unendingly long note.
Perhaps they feel the anguish.
Either way, they did help my sister get me off the middle of Melrose Ave. and onto the crowded sidewalk—somewhere between the Tokidoki store and Kid Robot.
With LA drivers being what they are, everyone agreed it was safer to move my broken body than leave it on the soaking asphalt. Unknown, blood-soaked, hands grasped my cold, wet limbs. Gingerly, they carried me to the sidewalk and I became the next installation of modern street art.
Gawking tourists hungry for a free show stand salivating at my demise, Instagram and Twitter documenting in real time. The kind girls with their umbrellas stand over me. They make sure I’m not getting soaked, while the fella in the booty shorts goes around asking everyone what they saw.
I lie there, thoughts fluttering through my mind like the flash of a camera: What’s the water doing to my brown leather boots? And, Did anyone look up my dress when I went flying through the air? Circling my head over and over like a vulture.
The man who hit me stands against a wall with a dumb look on his face.
No hint he even knows what just took place.
No remorse. Just a blank stare.
“Bri. Oh fuck, Bri, are you okay? I mean, you just got hit. By a van!” There goes Rae stating the obvious. My sis always knows the right things to say. Or, in this case, scream, but I won’t hold it against her. This time.A weak laugh manages to escape. “Calm down. I’m still alive, right?”
Our third and final writer represents the Adult Urban Fantasy genre with 454 words. Please also welcome back into the arena JavaInMe.
Silence strangled those gathered in the lecture hall when Agent Keystone entered. She looked over the twelve people gathered. There were four scientists in white lab coats. Five agents spread out in the first row. Two computer techs huddled together in the back. The artist sat alone. He was the only one who looked bored, the only one not on the edge of the seat.
"I don't like unsolved cases. My biggest pet peeve, however, is weird cases that lack plausible explanations." She pulled out her gun and set it on the table in front of her. It was for dramatic effect. "No one leaves this room until I hear a logical answer. Logical," she said the word again as she looked at the artist.
He yawned without covering his mouth. A piece of gum hung off his tongue piercing.
One of the agents helped pass out folders. CLASSIFIED was stamped in red, bold letters on each. Eleven sets of eyes shot wide open. All but the artist's. He flipped through the pages as if an old magazine were before him. Agent Keystone flexed her fingers as she resisted the urge to throttle him.
"Fingerprints, hair, saliva, and photographs— all solid evidence. This is proof that three people have been at crime scenes around the world. The same three people. For hundreds of years. And, though it isn't a crime, they left evidence of their existence in Egypt." She looked to the artist. "Ancient Egypt. A fingerprint in five-thousand-year-old facial cream."
"Beg your pardon?" Agent Keystone clenched her teeth.
The artist waved his hand nonchalantly. "Six-thousand-two-hundred-thirty-year-old cream, according to carbon dating."
"Regardless," Agent Keystone looked at the others, "no one lives that long. Heaven help me if any of you suggest vampires." She tapped her gun. The artist snickered.
A hand raised. "Is that why the new head of the Smithsonian is here? Because of the Egyptian find?" Barret, the only scientist she liked out of the bunch, asked.
"Yes." Agent Keystone looked at the artist. The reminder of his illustrious position sickened her. Having him here made her arms itch. Art freaks did not solve cases. The string of letters behind his name and title of doctor up front didn't impress her. "Someone care to postulate?"
"Reincarnation. A new body, but the same person in it." The artist smirked.
"I said logical ideas!"
He laughed as he closed the folder. "So ask them your real question. Ask how one of the three is a match for you. How could you have been at crimes scenes before you were born? Better yet," the artist stood, "ask them how I have a mummy that matches you right down to the cavities in your teeth."
Enjoying three 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 if you haven't already done so.
Please 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. Next week we'll be back with the PLAY-OFF ROUNDS and new writing samples from each of our contestants.
Remember, this is WRiTE CLUB, where it’s not about the last man/woman standing, but who knocks the audience out!