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WRiTE CLUB 2021 - Preliminary Bout #1

The votes from our slush pile readers have been tallied and they have selected thirty to step into the ring against one another over the course of the next eight weeks. Even though the number of submissions was down this year, the quality of those who did enter wasn't. It was a tight race! Thank you once again to our awesome Slushpile Readers

I present to you the inaugural WRiTE CLUB 2021 bout.

Here's a reminder of what is happening. WRiTE CLUB (sponsored by Wild Lark Books) is a tournament-style contest that will run for nine weeks (which includes a week break for the holidays). It provides writers the opportunity to compete against one another for a chance to win a free publication package (along with other prizes). Here’s the kicker—it’s all done anonymously. Writers have submitted 500-word writing samples under pen names. The chosen (decided by a group of twelve slush pile readers) are paired off to go head-to-head in daily “bouts”, with the winner of each match determined by you the reader—by voting for your favorites. Bout winners keep advancing until there are only two remaining and that’s when a panel of celebrity judges, who include well know authors, agents, editors, and other publishing folks, choose the ultimate champion.

Anyone can vote (as long as you have a Google sign-in or verifiable email address), and when you do, we encourage you to leave a mini-critique for both writers. Oh, the voters can win a $50 Wild Lark Books gift card. Each time you vote in a bout your name will be placed into a hat and at the end of the contest, one name will be selected to receive the prize.

How this works—two anonymous (pen name only) writing samples are waiting in the ring below. Visitors to this blog (that’s you) should read both entries and then vote by leaving a comment for the one that resonates with you the most. We also ask that you leave a brief critique for both writers with your vote because that is one of the real values of this contest—FEEDBACK. Please be respectful with your remarks!

Even though there will be a different bout every day (M-F), the voting for each bout will remain open for seven days from the date I post it to give as many people as possible to have a say. Voting for today’s bout will close on Sunday, Dec. 12th (noon central time). To help keep up with which bouts are open, you can follow along on the WRiTE CLUB Scoreboard updated right HERE.

It’s that simple. The writing piece that garnishes the most votes will move on to the next round where they’ll face a different opponent. In case of a tie, I’m the deciding vote. I can do that because, like all of you, I do not know the real names of our contestants either (my wife processes all the submissions).

A few more rules –

1) One vote per visitor per bout.

2) Although our contestants are anonymous, voters cannot be. Anonymous votes will not count, so if you do not have a Google account and are voting as a guest, be sure to include your name and email address.

3) Using any method (email, social media, text, etc) to solicit votes for a specific contestant will cause that contestant's immediate disqualification. What is okay, in fact, encouraged, is to spread the word about the contest to get more people to vote, just not for a specific writer!

That’s enough of the fine print…here we go!

On one side of the ring stands Lil Manning representing the Humor genre.

 I’m Getting Kicked Out of My Pride 

I’ve said that I’ve had my fill of something a few times in my life.
I had enough in a ten-year marriage that was going south, and I had enough of alcohol. Maybe the latter was the reason for the divorce, possibly.

About eight years ago, I was in a Denny’s in Southwestern Virginia eating a hamburger. Okay, probably this wasn’t the best hamburger in the world but not the worst. I decided right then and there never to eat beef again. It was followed by eliminating pork, lamb, deer, and any other four-legged animal. 

Two years ago, as I was driving, I saw a truck full of chickens going to the Perdue plant. With feathers blinding my windshield and tears in my eyes, I was done with poultry too. I am a full-fledged vegetarian now.

My husband and my entire family are big carnivores.  They do not understand my new way of life at all.

“What are you going to eat for Thanksgiving?” my daughter asked soon after the poultry breakup.

After I said I would just eat side dishes, the whole family asked, “Why?”

They don’t get that I love animals that much. I looked beyond the packaged meat in supermarkets and realized that these were animals killed for my consumption.  

Not everyone shares my viewpoint; I am not meat-shaming them, but I take a lot of flack because of my beliefs. 

They argue with me that cattle are vegetarians, so in a way, they who eat cattle are too.

 It’s almost like that lame argument that guns don’t kill people; people kill people (with guns, asshole).

When I have a veggie burger, they tell me my plant is done, and then they watch me eat it as if I am eating shit.

They don’t understand that I don’t want to eat “Impossible Burgers.” My
“burger” doesn’t taste like meat; that’s the whole idea of being a vegetarian.  

When they eat vegetables, my grandchildren make noises; “Oh no, don’t kill me.” they say. I put up with a lot from this group.

They are about to kick me out of their pride, but I’m sticking to my beliefs.

 Lions get kicked out of their prides when they are old and no longer able to hunt. Maybe I’ll whip up some tofu stir-fry for them and show them there are other ways to get nourishment.

We can start our own pride--as long as they aren’t Republicans.
That’s another story.

On the far side of the ring, we have Fern Calloway who represents the Speculative Soft Horror genre.

Tasty Little Morsel

Though the cabin is gone, I can still smell her blood deep under the tangle of swings, see-saws and giggling children.

Most of them coatless. Their parents aren’t bothered; their noses buried in their phones.  How easy it would be to snatch up a pup. A detail the hunters won’t overlook either.

I crunch across the play-yard bark, gripping my basket tighter. The bench by the slide is vacant. I sit, adjusting my gloves and tugging down my sleeves. Best not to frighten the children.

“I like your glasses.” A small boy plops beside me.

“Better to see you with,” I say and wink, smiling to bare my teeth.

The boy kicks his feet. “Your hat is cool.”

They always like my hat.  It’s the long red plume tucked in the band. I keep it there for her; to remember.

My mind drifts to Little Red.

The boy is still talking and I turn to face him. “What was that, dear?”

“Your hat,” he says. “Can I hold it?” He’s already reaching for it.  

“Wait a minute,” I bark. “Let me unclip it, or you’ll take my hair too.”

“Your hair?” He laughs as I slip bobby pins from the wig covering my long, pointy ears.

I hand him the hat and he runs his paws over the feather. “Pretty.”

“She was,” I say. I’ve stopped listening. My gaze drifts over the playground. A hunter lurks here; I can smell him.


A man sits on a bench, watching the children with a hunger far more sinister than my own. He runs a finger down the outside of his thigh, licking his lips.

I yank my hat from the child, ignoring him as I stand and set it on my head. I weave between knee-highs and soiled twerps, my focus intent on him.

The man stops fidgeting when I sit, but doesn’t glance my way. I clear my throat and secure my hat.  His dark desires don’t sway enough to pay me any mind. He’s zeroed in on a blonde with pig-tails, four, maybe five years old flipping end over end on the tall bars, her little dress exposing cotton panties with every twirl.

“Excuse me,” I say, not bothering to hide my disgust.

“Yeah,” he says. I can tell I’ve disturbed him. Good.

I adjust my glasses on my long nose. “Which one is yours?” I know none of them belong to this huntsman.

He points to the twirling girl. She hangs upside down, her dress flopping over her sweet face. His gaze locks onto her bare midriff.

I cross my leg at the knee, turning toward him. “No. She doesn’t.”

He faces me. “Which one of them is yours, Granny?” He spits the words through tight lips.

“All of them,” I say and pull a hard candy from my pocket and pop it into my mouth, letting it clink against my pointy teeth.

All the better to eat you with.


Leave your votes and critiques in the comments below. Again, be respectful of your remarks and try to point out positives as well as detractions.

Before we sign off, I wanted to address the issue a few readers are having with not being able to post comments, or having those comments show up as UNKNOWN even though they have a Google Account.  There are several things at play here. First, if you are using the Safari or Chrome browsers they have a known problem with Blogger and you have two choices. Switch to Firefox as a browser (I've never had a problem using it), or change the setting on Safari as illustrated below.

The other problem is Blogger not recognizing you when adding a comment and therefore designating you as UNKNOWN. This could happen if the reader is a Blogger user themselves and they have not changed their settings since Google + went away.  To do this, follow these steps:

Go to Blogger dashboard.
Set User Profile = Blogger (instead of Google +)

Hopefully, that will resolve everyone's issues and let the votes/comments reach our contestants.

Finally, in order to keep this contest going AND GROWING, I'm asking folks to donate to the cause on my Ko-fi account. Let me assure you, 100% of the donations will go towards the contest prizes for this year and next!

We’ll be back tomorrow with bout #2. Please help all our writers out by telling everyone you know what is happening here and encouraging them to come vote.

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

WRiTE CLUB 2021 - 10th Anniversary Edition


Take a peek at our video then head on over to the contest page...located HERE.

So...It Turns out I Didn't Lie

In January, I posted something that contained the following statement - 


I will be losing something soon, and I can't be more excited. I'm not allowed to reveal the details just yet (don't you hate it when people do that), but one way or another, the modifier attached to "aspiring author" will be disappearing from my description in 2021!

Then in May, I posted this - I LIED.

I won't go into detail about what was said in that post, but essentially my plans fell apart. I was devastated, naturally. But after thirteen years of chasing this dream, quitting wasn't an option. It's a good thing too because this just happened yesterday.

That's right, it's finally happening! The whole thing is surreal. And the irony of it all is the book being published (KNIGHT RISE) is the first novel I ever wrote back in 2008. 

I have a Facebook author page now (HERE) and a Goodreads page is coming soon, but if you are interested in my book and/or my publisher, go here => WILD LARK BOOKS.

Obviously, there'll be more information to come, but for now, I wanted to close this post by saying THANK YOU. Thanks to those of you who have followed me on this journey and propped me up when all I wanted to do was throw in the towel. 

I am in your debt! 

WRiTE CLUB 2021 – Slush Pile Readers


It’s year #10 for WRiTE CLUB and special things are ahead. But first things first, we need to once again ask for help in setting up what truly is the backbone of this contest. Slushpile Readers.


One of the most challenging aspects of WRiTE CLUB is narrowing down all the entries (171 last year) to just the top 30. To make that fair and unbiased – I create a central repository (via Dropbox) where all of the submissions are stored, then a selection committee of at least a dozen judges read all of those entries and vote for their favorites, which is then used to select the top 30.


Before you raise your hand to volunteer, let me fully explain what you would be getting into.  This is a big commitment!  First, you must be open to installing and using Dropbox (a free file sharing program that I will provide complete instructions on how to use). Then once the entries start pouring in (Nov. 1) you will have approximately a month to read what could be 200+ entries, each one approximately 500 words long -- which equates to the length of a small book – select 30 of what you believe are the best ones and rank them.


Most importantly – you cannot be a WRiTE CLUB contestant if you do this. 


Additionally, there will be a pair of twitter-parties where all the judges will be making observations about some of the entries they’ve read so far. This is done to raise interest in the contest and build excitement.


So, what do you say?  Interested in helping shape how the competition plays out – without officially participating?  If so, email me at and I will be in touch shortly.


Thank you in advance.



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