WRiTE CLUB 2018




Whether you’re serious about writing…or you like to dabble…it’s time to tighten the laces on your gloves and put up your dukes, because WRiTE CLUB is back! Welcome to the seventh year of the “little contest that could” and I’m happy to announce that we are continuing our association with the DFW Writers Conference.



The winner of this year’s contest will be announced during the fabulous conference in Hurst, Texas taking place on June 9-10, but the contest itself continues to be open to everyone…everywhere!  With the DFW Writers continued support, this year promises to be bigger and better.

I’m getting a little ahead of myself. Let me explain what WRiTE CLUB is for anyone new to the contest.  What started off as a modest competition loosely derived from the movie FIGHT CLUB, the contest has grown into a writing community sensation.  You may have heard of other versions of WRiTE CLUB (mostly LIVE face-to-face events), but they are nothing like we do it here.  This unique approach, combined with your participation, continues to set it apart and is responsible for its phenomenal growth.  The contest embodies simple, good-natured competition, with lots and lots of fun sprinkled on top. 

Here’s the ABC’s of how it works. Anytime during the submission period (Mar 12-Apr 1), you simply send in a 500-word writing sample using a pen name (details on how to do that below). Once the submission period closes, all the entries are read by a panel of fifteen volunteers (I call them my slushpile readers). The slushpile readers each select their top samples and then the contestant pool narrows down to the thirty contestants picked by the most judges. Over the course of the next eight weeks, we’ll hold daily bouts (M-F) right here on this blog – randomly pitting the anonymous 500-word writing samples against each other. The winners of these bouts advance into elimination rounds, and then playoffs, quarter-finals, and then ultimately a face-off between two finalists to determine a single champion. The writing sample can be any genre, any style (even poetry), from a larger piece of work or flash fiction -- the word count being the only restriction.  It’s a way to get your writing in front of a lot of readers, receive a ton of feedback, all without having to suffer the agony and embarrassment of exposure.  How cool is that?

And how are the winners of each bout determined? By you and other WRiTE CLUB readers! Anyone who visits my blog during the contest can vote for the writing sample that resonates with them the most in a bout.  All I ask is that you leave a brief critique of each piece to help the contestants improve their craft.


 Wait a minute, how can samples of different genre's and age groups compete against one another?  First off, although we don’t like to admit it, writers compete against each other every day…in the query piles, bookstores, the library, and other online marketplaces. Which book am I going to take home with me (or download) today? Secondly, I believe visitors to WRiTE CLUB...regardless of the genre they read... can recognize excellent writing!  And it doesn't matter if that writing is YA, MG, Sci-Fi, Horror, Mystery, Fantasy, etc...etc.  I'm confident that the WRiTER's choosing to submit their work (which I have the utmost admiration for) do so knowing those 500-word snippets would stand on their own, without the benefit of plot or theme, and though there may be an element that suggests a specific genre (vampires are a dead giveaway), it is the way the writer weaves the scene that will be judged.

But to step into the WRiTE CLUB ring, you must first make it past our fifteen slush pile judges. It’s their job to read each and every submission and help me decide the top 30 entries. The slush pile readers are comprised of people who come from different backgrounds…published authors…fellow bloggers...and individuals who simply have a passion for reading.  This group has successfully predicted the past five WRiTE CLUB champions. In addition, our slushpile judges will hold a pair of Twitter parties in March. They’ll be tweeting about submissions that caught their attention (all anonymously of course) and doing what they can to stoke the competitive fires. Watch the fun by using the Twitter hashtag #WRiTECLUBDFW.

So what’s at stake…other than exposure? Well, this year we’re upping our game (forgive the pun) thanks to the good folks at the DFW Writers Conference. There are more prizes, and the prizes are bigger than ever before.

Prize #1 - the WRiTE CLUB Champion — announced during the DFW Conference will receive a three-chapter critique of their work by several of the judges – and – FREE ADMISSION TO THE 2019 DFW CONFERENCE IN DALLAS.  That is a $450 value and an experience that cannot be missed! In addition, the winner will also receive a $100 Barnes & Noble gift card.

Prize #2 - the first runner-up will receive a $75 Amazon gift card AND a $60 Barnes & Noble gift card!

Prize #3BRAND NEW THIS YEAR. Every visitor to a WRiTE CLUB bout during this year’s contest who leaves a vote/critique will have his/her name thrown in a hat. One slip for every bout voted on. There will be a total of 26 bouts, so it’s possible to have your name in the hat 26 times. Then at the end of the contest, we will draw one name out of that hat and that person will receive a $40 Barnes & Noble gift card! Yes…we value our readers/voters as well.

Prize #4ALSO NEW THIS YEAR. We will hold prize drawings for anyone who enters the contest, along with our slushpile readers, that are present at the DFW Conference. A few lucky winners will receive a free DFW Conference T-shirt. Make sure you stop by the WRiTE CLUB display table at the conference and let us know you’re there.

And although not technically a prize, the combatants in the final round will be exposed to a panel of publishing industry professionals (list below)!  Agents, Editors, Publishers, Marketers, and well-known Authors!  I don’t want to brag (but I will anyway), every WRiTE CLUB winner (except one) has gone on to become published. That’s a perk both the winner and the finalist will enjoy.

Still not convinced? Then how about some testimonials from previous WRiTE CLUB winners? Remember as you read these that the contest has evolved over the years.

Solange Hommel – 2016 winner.  Part 1Part 2.
Gloria Chao - 2016 contestant. Her interview.
Lisa Dunn – 2015 winner. Her post.
Dan Koboldt – 2014 winner. His post.
Arianne “Tex” Thompson – 2013 winner. Her post.
Dan Koboldt & Tex ThompsonSlushpile Impressions Post.

Are you bouncing up and down with excitement, wondering how to submit your sample? Here are some Q & A that will answer all your questions.

1    1. How do I enter this fabulous contest? – The simplest way (for me) is for you to format your entry like the example below (in a Word attachment, or a format compatible with Word), then click on the link just below the example to fill out the entry form and upload the document.


Make sure after you upload the document you hit SUBMIT. You must have a Google account to submit this way, but don’t worry if you don’t (but who doesn’t these days?). You can still do it the old-fashioned way by emailing your submission to WRiTECLUB2018@gmail.com. My wife is the only person monitoring that email address during the contest and she will log and assign every entry a number – then remove the writer’s name. You will receive a confirmation email from her once your entry has been logged. A word of caution – although I do my best to make sure the original formatting remains intact when a submission gets uploaded for a bout, sometimes HTML doesn’t cooperate. So go easy on any specialized formatting. It’s the words that matter, not the presentation.

2    2. How long do I have to submit? - Submissions are open March 12th until April 1st.  After that date, a panel of fifteen judges will read all the entries and select 30 of the best writing samples to climb into the ring.

3    3. What happens after I submit – how will I know if I’ve been selected to fight? In 2016 we had 171 entries, so just getting selected to take part in the contest is a reason to celebrate. To find out if you’re one of the thirty contestants, you must follow the contest and watch for your pen name to appear on the day of the bout.

4    4. Is there a limit to the number of times I can enter? You may enter two different writing samples – each in separate entries using the same pen name – but only one will be eligible to become part of the 30 contestants. The sample that does not get selected can be used for future rounds if you’re lucky enough to advance.

5    5. What happens if I make into the playoff rounds? If you progress past the first round, you’ll need to provide additional writing pieces for subsequent rounds (as many as four total – with the final one being 1000 words). The additional pieces don’t have to be related to the original, but they can be if you choose to do that. So be prepared.

6    6. I don’t intend to enter a submission, but can I still vote on the bouts? Absolutely! All we ask is that you leave a brief critique for both contestants. Although our contestants are anonymous – voting is not. And every time you vote your name is placed in a hat from which a prize winner will be pulled at the conclusion of the contest to win a $40 Barnes & Noble gift card.

7    7. When you say anonymous…just how anonymous? No one (other than my wife)…not even the judges being used to pre-select the 30 contestants, will see the true identity of any sample.  Not even me.

8    8. What changes can we expect this year?  We’ve reintroduced a concept used in earlier versions of the contest – the Save Week. During that week readers can vote for writers who lost their bout, giving three contestants (one from each of the previous weeks) a second chance.

9    9. How can I help spread the word? Write a blog post, mention it on Facebook, Tweet about it (#WRiTECLUBDFW), post a pic on Instagram, talk about it on any writer forums you visit, heck…send up smoke signals if you have to. Please take note – you cannot drive traffic to promote a specific piece of writing. That could get a writer disqualified. Just ask people to read and vote their hearts.



Here are the rules of WRiTE CLUB
(loosely based on the rules from the movie Fight Club).

1st RULE: You DON’T talk about WRiTE CLUB – What we mean is no one can solicit votes for a specific contestant.  All the writing entries are anonymous, and we want it to stay that way. This is not a popularity contest! Ask others to vote – YES. Ask others to vote for a specific contestant – NO. Violators will be immediately disqualified.

2nd RULE: You MUST talk about WRiTE CLUB – This may seem contradictory, but we want everyone to spread the word far and wide so we can involve as many writers/readers as possible.  Display the WRiTE CLUB banner prominently on your own blog.  Write a post about it (I’m more than willing to guest post on your blog).  Tweet it.  Make videos and post them on Facebook. And once the contest starts, keep banging that drum so we can attract as many voters as possible and give our contestants as much exposure as possible.

3rd RULE: Anyone can WRiTE, but it must be original material. Your submission can not have been published anywhere else before! (That includes your blog) 

4th RULE: Bouts will continue for only eight weeks - No matter how many submissions we receive.

6th RULE: No shirts, no shoes - Come on, tell me you didn't giggle at that one.

7th RULE: If someone taps out, WRiTING is over - Tapping out means a WRiTER can decide at any time during the competition to withdraw their name from the pool. If that happens the next writer from the slush pile with the most votes will move into that spot.

The group of talented people choosing the victor in the final round this year are listed below and as you’ll see we’ve outdone ourselves. Besides these fine authors, numerous agents and editors attending the DFW Conference (bios available soon), and the six previous WRiTE CLUB winners (Solange Hommel, Lisa Dunn, Dan Koboldt, Tex Thompson, Mark Hough, and Tiana Smith), will also have a vote.

Here are the celebrity judges (and their bios) for 2018:

Alex Grecian is an American author of short fiction, novels, comic books, and graphic novels.

His most notable works include long-running and critically acclaimed graphic novel series Proof, which NPR named one of the best books of 2009, and the novels in the Scotland Yard’s Murder Squad: THE YARD, THE BLACK COUNTRY, THE DEVIL’S WORKSHOP, THE HARVEST MAN, and LOST AND GONE FOREVER. His latest, THE SAINT OF WOLVES AND BUTCHERS, a chilling contemporary thriller about an enigmatic hunter on the trail of a Nazi who has secretly continued his devilish work here in America, is due out in April.

Alex has been nominated for the Strand Award for Best Debut Novel for The Yard, the Dilys Award for The Black Country, and the Barry Award for Best First Novel for The Yard. He was also the recipient of the Kansas Notable Book Award from the State Library of Kansas for The Yard, The Black Country, and The Devil’s Workshop.

Kimberly Derting is the author of the award-winning THE BODY FINDER series, THE PLEDGE trilogy, THE TAKING trilogy, and UNDRESSED (her first book in The Men Of West Beach series). Her books have been translated into 15 languages, and both THE BODY FINDER and THE PLEDGE were YALSA Best Fiction for Young Adults selections.


Kimberly lives in the Pacific Northwest where the gloomy weather is ideal for writing anything dark and creepy. Her three beautiful (and often mouthy) children serve as an endless source of inspiration and frequently find the things they say buried in the pages of their mother's books, or on Twitter for the world to see.


Angela Marsons is the author of the Amazon Bestselling DI Kim Stone series – SILENT SCREAM, EVIL GAMES, LOST GIRLS, PLAY DEAD, BLOOD LINES, DEAD SOULS, and BROKEN BONES. Her books have sold more than 2 million in 2 years.

She lives in the Black Country with her partner, their cheeky Golden Retriever and a swearing parrot.

After years of writing relationship-based stories (THE FORGOTTEN WOMAN and DEAR MOTHER) Angela turned to Crime, fictionally speaking of course, and developed a character that refused to go away.

She is signed to Bookouture.com for a total of 16 books in the Kim Stone series and her books have been translated into more than 20 languages.

Her last three books – BLOOD LINES, DEAD SOULS, and BROKEN BONES - reached the #1 spot on Amazon on pre-orders alone.

Julie Dao is a proud Vietnamese-American who was born in upstate New York and then was raised amidst the fields and sloping mountains of New England. Her awesome debut novel FOREST OF A THOUSAND LANTERNS is the Wrath and the Dawn meets Snow White and the Huntsman in this dark and mystical East Asian fantasy re-imagining of The Evil Queen legend about one peasant girl’s quest to become Empress. FOATL has already garnished the following awards: Fall 2017 Junior Library Guild Selection, New York Public Library’s 2017 Best Books For Teens, ALA Booklist’s 2017 Top 10 First Novels For Youth, and starred reviews from Booklist and Publishers Weekly.

Julie went to college to become a doctor, but (go figure) came out ready to pursue her passion for creative writing. She is greatly influenced by the work of Jane Austen, J.K. Rowling, Maggie Stiefvater, Jhumpa Lahiri, Neil Gaiman, and Laini Taylor. Julie lives in New England.

Something else that makes Julie so special…she was a previous contestant in WRiTE CLUB (can you believe she didn’t win).  Follow Julie on Twitter @jules_writes.

Sarah Ahiers has an MFA in Writing for Children and Young Adults from Hamline University and lives in Minnesota with her dogs and a house full of critters. She has a collection of steampunk hats and when she’s not writing she fills her time with good games, good food, good friends and good family.

Sarah’s debut novel, ASSASSIN’S HEART (HarperTeen, February 2nd, 2016) is a Young Adult Fantasy that was a finalist for the 2017 Minnesota Book Award. Her follow up, THIEF'S CUNNING was released last June to critical praise as well.

Sarah is represented by Mollie Glick of Creative Artists Agency.


Are you willing to WRiTE for what you want?  Then crack those knuckles and get ready to flex that imagination.  Here’s a video that might help get you fired up.







Whatever you do, tell your friends!

This is WRiTE CLUB, the contest where the audience gets clobbered!




6 comments

  1. Congrats on 7 years of Write Club!
    Loved the video, DL.

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    1. Gotta give credit for the video to my wife. She's the master at that stuff. :)

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  2. Sounds like a great time. I plan to enter - this will be my first time. Also my first time at the conference in June. So excited!

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    1. Awesome! Hope I get to meet you at the conference. :)

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  3. Is it a maximum of 500 words? Can a submission BE shorter? Thx!

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    Replies
    1. Yes...500 MAX, but less than that is just fine. :)

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