We started with 95, narrowed it down to 30, cut it in half to 15, and now there is only 6 writers left. It's play-off time in WRiTE CLUB!
Our six writers will again enter the ring, this time against a different (randomly selected) opponent, and brandishing a new 500 word writing sample. The bouts will be posted once a day...ending Wednesday...with the voting remaining open until noon central time on Sunday, April 10th.
Here's a reminder of how everything works. Writing samples from two different writers, identified only by the craftily selected pen names of the respective submitters, are competing against one another today. 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 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 customary to leave a brief critique for 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.
What's at stake here? Other than bragging rights, there's also a chance to win free admission to the 2017 DFW Writers Conference.
Your voting has an added significance because not only will the three 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.
Ready to help an aspiring writer make their mark? It's time to introduce our contestants and get this party started.
Writer #1 is representing the Adult Fiction genre with 498 words. Please give a warm welcome to JavaInMe.
"What I want for my fortieth birthday is to become your apprentice. I haven't aged in twenty years. We share the immortality gene."
Father huffs. "I had an apprentice. He didn't survive." He rubs his forehead. "You think I want my daughter for one?"
I grin. "Quincey wasn't immortal. Whatever killed him won't be able to kill me."
Shaking his head, he retrieves an old journal with Authur Helsing, his real name, engraved on the leather cover. "Some know that the first Thanksgiving had shellfish, venison, and rabbit as main dishes. Turkey is popular now because of the wereturkey. That's what killed Quincey."
Father flips to the middle. "Gobble-gobble was uttered by tribal elders in northern New Jersey in 1705. Colonists noticed the tribe's elderly vanish the first night of November, under a full moon. Not wanting to be caught with their pants down by invaders, the colonists went hunting. One survived."
"The colonists burned him for witchcraft, murder, and food hoarding." Father hands me a clipping in old Dutch. "Claiming to encounter a rafter of turkeys but bring none back wasn't smart."
"Regular turkeys?" I ask.
"Wereturkeys, though no one knew it. The next blue moon November was in 1724. The tribe's elderly weren't being watched. People were caught with their pants down, most of them literally. Wereturkeys attacked outhouses."
Father points to a journal page. "This was the testimony of Mrs. Jones when I questioned her about her husband's whereabouts."
~ "Nothing were left of me husband, 'cept his weddin' ring and boots. Our crapper, it were filled with feathers, it was!" ~
"Elaine, if you're going to laugh, I'll not consider taking you on as an apprentice."
"Sorry." I bite my lip to contain myself.
"I discovered the truth in 1857. A decade later, after the Civil War, I convinced President Johnson to act against the wereturkey. He wanted to keep it quiet. We had forty-nine years to prepare. That was the good news. The bad news was the tribe relocated all over the country during the war."
I shake my head. "A much bigger hunting ground."
Father flips the page. "President Johnson and I ran a propaganda campaign tied to Thanksgiving celebrations. It was easy to convince people that their American pride is measured by the size of the turkey they serve."
"Are they extinct now?" A clipping of Norman Rockwell's Thanksgiving painting is in the journal.
"By 1963, I was convinced they were, so Quincey got complacent. One ate him while we slept in the forest. I killed the bird, but not in time." He shows me a scar. "The only creature I've encountered that could hurt me."
"In 2001, tofurky began a fad, and hunting declined." Father flips through pages of unsolved murders and missing persons cases. "November 1, 2191, will be the next appearance. Plenty of time to for them to breed an army to gobble up the world. Are you certain you want to be my apprentice, Elaine?"
Writer #2 represents the Adult Science Fiction genre with 484 words. Please welcome back into the arena Helveticaw.
"A dog." Lucy looked Fritz in the face, her heart pounding, and her breath constricted.
Fritz's lower left eyelid bulged, then contracted back into place.
Good. The scent of the deodorant was keeping him off kilter, just like the seller at the market had told her it would.
"Why do you think they took all this away, all these chemical smells?" he'd said. "For them, it's like sticking a fork in a toaster. Let's say that toaster is part of a network of toasters. This--" he'd gestured with the tube of deodorant-- "blows out the one that's got the scent up its nose. The network spits him out. Makes it possible to feed a little information into the system. When they reconnect, it's already integrated as fact." He'd waggled his eyebrows. "Like, for example, that this market is okay. Or any special requests."
Fritz's forehead bulged. She watched for the faraway gaze he got when he connected with his people. His left eye rolled, but so far, he was stuck here, with her.
Three years of living under the invasion. She couldn't end it, and she couldn't bear it. Nothing to do, but to try to make it better, in any way possible.
"You cannot have a dog. These do not exist," he said.
"That's a lie."
The rumour had spread through the community of humans for the last month. A dog, like a German Shepherd with curly fur, spotted at night, on the edges of the university campus, in the small patch of woods to the west of town.
Lucy hadn't been able to let the idea go. She had more an impulse than a plan, an aching need to feel warm fur under her fingers.
Fritz's neck ruffled, some valve or gill fluttering. She imagined a mantis-like insect under the human flesh wrapper, its antennae folded back against its skull, its multifaceted eyes turning heavenward, in supplication to the gods of decision making. Those gods were silent today. Fritz was on his own.
"You had a dog before."
Lucy nodded. Honey's face flashed through her mind, her short buff coloured fur, her broad grin. "You took her from me."
"I did not." Technically true. She still blamed him, just like she blamed all of them.
"They were not necessary," he said.
"What happened to them?"
She didn't remember Honey being taken. When Fritz and his people came, the world had slept. When it woke up, everything had changed, and Honey was gone.
"There was no pain," Fritz said.
A chill came over her. She stumbled for the bed and sat down hard as saliva boiled into her mouth. She swallowed tentatively, sure that she would vomit if she wasn't careful.
She wondered about that lost animal. How had he survived, all this time?
"You need to fix this," she said. "You need to bring me the dog."
Enjoying a pair of 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.
Remember, this is WRiTE CLUB, where it’s not about the last man/woman standing, but who knocks the audience out!