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WRiTE CLUB 2012 – Round 12

Today we christen our ninth winner and ready the ring for yet another preliminary battle. Congratulations go out to Penelope Clearwater for her victory in round nine!    Her opponent, Doug Claremont, will have his piece returned to the pool for a chance at re-selection in a future bout. Unsuccessful combatants need to remember that you are free to submit a different writing sample, if you desire to do so. Everyone can check my WRiTE CLUB 2012 results page for a breakdown of all the winners along with links to all of the writing samples.

As successful as WRiTE CLUB has been so far, we still witnessed a dip in participation last week.  A third of the way through the preliminary rounds a drop off in interest is to be expected.  I was a little worried about this when I expanded to three bouts per week...over-saturation.  The novelty has worn off, and quite frankly, this is tough duty.  Having to make hard decisions, bout after bout, wears on a person and there are those who stop voting or coming back entirely because they can't take it.  This is where I need your help. We need to replenish the ranks of visitors who are willing to select a piece of writing and elevate it above the other, and it shouldn't matter who the ultimate victor is. If you're enjoying WRiTE CLUB, tell your friends. Do it in whatever way best suits you. I'm sure our future contestants would appreciate it as well. 

Let's get to it!

Here are this week's randomly selected WRiTER's.

Standing in the far corner, weighing in at 500 words (we’ll let that extra word slip), please welcome to the ring……..Aidlinn

They passed fish, litter, and what might have been a mermaid.

It was very dark at the bottom; even with the short man’s light it was hard to see. They looked around, seeing nothing of what they searched for. So they started walking, following a logical pattern. Before too long they came across signs of their quarry: footsteps in the sand, scuff marks on the rocks, the sense of a lost melody in the water and a hint of joy in the bubbles blown by the fishes.

The tall woman spied movement ahead, not of the fish-kind. She pointed it out to the short man, who nodded and led the way. The darkness parted before them, scared off by the light they wielded. Ahead stood the remains of a building, some kind of old shelter that had either been flooded by the lake, or else thrown into the depths. It rested there like a barnacle, clogged with weeds and littered with old cans. A fish darted in and out of the gaping doorway and on top of the shelter they saw their quarry.

The brass legs were dancing to a silent song. They pirouetted and tapped, sprang and leapt, danced a jig and then stopped.

The tall woman and short man stepped forward, their light catching the legs in its circle and making them glow brilliantly. The legs seemed to sense their presence. They remained still as the two approached. Then the legs leapt away, dancing through the water, missing a step as they hurried away.

The tall woman looked at her colleague, who nodded a silent order and stood back to watch and wait and illuminate.

The tall woman danced after the legs, her thin body agile and graceful. She matched the dance step-for-step, but kept her cool, and as such she soon began to gain on the legs. Behind them both the short man began to follow, keeping them in his sight and in the light.

Together the tall woman and the legs danced, chasing through the underwater world that few would ever see. They tapped and pranced, spun and kicked, the legs hurrying and making the odd mistake allowing the tall woman to draw ever nearer.

Through a shoal of fish they danced, scattering them like prey avoiding a predator.

Down a slope to a wreck, an old boat upturned and covered in barnacles and weeds; along a sandy floor where crabs hid and eggs lay; across jutting rocks with old carvings engraved and forever hidden from mankind; all the while the tall woman gained on the legs, until she was but a shuffle and a step away from them.

Finally, she danced as close to the legs as it was possible to get without joining with them. She reached out a hand, pushing the legs ever so slightly but enough to unbalance them.

The legs missed a step, stumbled and fell to the ground.

Immediately the tall woman threw a net over them, hauling them in.


And in the other corner, weighing in at 471 words, let me introduce to you ……..Mrs Mojo Rising

I wrap my arms around my knees, rocking slowly back and forth, allowing the movement to circulate within my body. The cold, hard floor sends a sharp pain through my lower back that I try to ignore.

Stay focused. Don’t lose it.

My body shivers from a combination of chill and fatigue. How can I be tired when I’ve done nothing? It’s weakness. My strength is dwindling, fiber by fiber, and eventually, I won’t be able to ignore it. I’ll have to give in and let a coma wash over me to save me from this madness. Maybe I should give into it now … maybe it’s better than what awaits me next. I don’t  think I can take much more …

I allow my body to fall backwards onto the cold mud floor, taking deep breaths to slow my heartbeat and control the panic. Rolling to my side, I raise my legs into the fetal position and place my hands together beneath my face. Tears won’t come. My body is too dehydrated. My stomach is eating itself from the inside, growling in contempt with each bite. The cell is the same size Aunt Sandra’s walk-in closet used to be, where I’d play for hours at a time during those summers I wanted to escape the teasing. My heart sinks. That was all so trivial compared to this.

A chill shimmies down my body. These bare walls and dingy bricks keep the draft swimming around inside, not just cold air, but damp air that puts a wheeze in my breath. I twirl the ring still encircling my index finger, slowly, numbly.

Dad died this way, beneath the rubble and ash from the World Trade Center. He suffocated, most of his bones being crushed into his internal organs. What was left of him was buried away in the earth forever, marked only by a marble gravestone, the word hero inscribed into it, as if making his death worthwhile. Bull shit.

They buried a part of my soul that day, right alongside Dad. What good is being a hero if you don’t get to see your family again? If your little girl who prayed every night to send her dad back home, is left with a hole in her heart?
I didn’t want him to be a hero. I just wanted him to be home.  

Anger squeezes a single tear from my left eye. It rolls across the bridge of my nose and onto the floor with the tiniest of splashes.

Out of nowhere, a burst of energy plows through my limbs, coming from some unknown reserve inside my body. I scramble to my feet, and cling to the impression in the wall that becomes a doorway upon their mercy.

“Get me out of here!” I scream, though I do it in vain.


By now you should know the drill, bit if your new here let me enlighten you. Anyone can vote (after registering your name on the Linky List tool the below badge points you to), so leave yours in the comments below for the WRiTER that swayed you the most, along with any sort of critique you would like to offer.  The voting will remain open for this round until noon next Sunday.  

Here in WRiTE CLUB, it’s not about the last man/woman standing, it’s about who knocks the audience out!


  1. I vote for Mrs Mojo Rising - very powerful piece!

  2. Not sure if this helps, DL, but both Friday and today, your post didn't show up in reader. I wonder if this is why the numbers dwindled.

    My vote today goes to Mrs. Mojo Rising. It was a very powerful segment. I was a wee bit confused with the first story.

  3. For me, this is a tough bout to call.

    Aidlinn's entry has some clear action -- there is a chase and a capture. But I must admit I felt unconnected through it. At first I wasn't sure the scene was underwater or not. The "they started walking" and "(they) stepped forward" makes me think of motion on dry land, but then with the fish swimming and the chase up and down it finally becomes clear that this scene is underwater. I think it would have been better to make that clear at the beginning, and give some reason why they man and woman are 'walking' instead of 'swimming'. Also, the unnamed 'short man' and 'tall woman' are hard to identify with. Maybe the intent is to create mystery but I would better like the characters to have names. And while there were some nicely written elements during the chase, I have no clear image of what they're chasing other than disembodied 'brass legs'. All in all it makes it a little hard for me to connect with this piece.

    Mrs Mojo Rising gives some immediate impact with a first-person immersion into a character who is evidently trapped or held captive somewhere. But again, while this piece is much more visceral, I also find it hard to connect with the character in this piece. I'm not sure where she is -- yes, this can help create story questions and interest, but I think it would help to at least anchor the scene a little. Is she being held captive or has she been trapped in a collapsed building like her dad? Knowing this would help me identify a little more with her. Maybe it's captive, since she mentions 'the cell' (and actually, I stumbled a bit when I first read it -- After "My stomach is eating itself from the inside," I read 'The cell is the same size..." and first thought, "oh, you mean like stomach cancer -- cancer cells?" But I managed to shift gears when I reached the end of the sentence... Probably just the weird way my mind works, LOL).


    I think I'm going to go with Mrs Mojo since there was more compelling emotional content in her piece.

  4. Hard to choose but I'll go with Mrs Mojo

  5. DL, the last feed that updated on my Google Reader was round #10. I now have to come to your site to see any new posts. I've noticed this happened over time to three different blogs I follow - all of them blogspot. The first person it happened to knew she had changed a setting on her end and fixed it, so I do get her updates again. Sorry I do not know exactly what she tweaked, but if you made any changes between rounds 10 and 11, that should point you in the right direction. Good luck.

    Onto the voting. I have to go with Mrs. Mojo Rising on this one. High tension and emotional pulls on the reader.

    Aidlinn's piece was well written and very visual - I pictured myself right there. But it was so visual it became like a fantasy - I couldn't get a grasp on the characters. They appear human, but the whole dancing after the brass legs part threw me and pulled me out of the enjoyment of the story.

  6. Mrs Mojo had the edge for me as it had more of an emotional pull. I thought the lack of names in the first piece added to my feeling of being disconnected to it.

    Will link to Write Club today in my blog as a reminder!

  7. DL, your posts are also not showing on my blog list (the last entry is for Round 10). So, something is going on (I usually attribute it to me, but maybe that's not always the case??).

    Anyway, on to voting.

    This round was tough. I couldn't connect with either piece. The first one was just plain confusing and the second one almost over-written. I have no idea where this person is and why I should care. But even with all that, I'll vote for Mrs. Mojo Rising because at least I kind of knew what was going on.

  8. Vote for: Mrs. M. Rising. Went back and read Chris Fries comments and I had exactly the same reactions to both stories...questions about the character being trapped and the "cell" word's short confusion. And on the first story the brass legs, short man, tall woman, underwater or on land...all issues that could be resolved perhaps in reading "the rest of the story". But the pieces have to stand on their own somewhat. so I had to go with Mrs. Rising.

  9. I'm voting for #1 Aidlinn because I am so intrigued by this story. What are these legs? Why are they dancing underwater? Is this a metaphor? I want to know what happens when the woman finally captures them with her net. There's an element of fantasy and mystery that is really appealing to me. I would have liked to know the names of the man and woman searching for the legs, and maybe a clue as to what they're thinking when they chase them. It might also explain more about the search and a little background, but otherwise, I'd keep reading out of curiosity.

    Unfortunately I couldn't connect to the second piece at all. The writing is tight and I know that we are meant to sympathize with the captive, but I don't understand where she is and why she's there. There's a lot of description explaining her physical reaction to her situation, but I want to know what the situation is. The WTC reference is a bit jarring b/c I don't think being in a cell and being crushed beneath rubble can be quite comparable, but just IMO.

    So again, voting for #1, but as always - great job to both contenders!

  10. Like Miranda, I too had trouble seeing the post come up for Round 11 and 12 on the dashboard, but I just clicked on your blog anyway and saw that the posts were indeed up.

  11. My vote goes to Aidlinn. Both pieces were very compelling, it came down to subject matter this time for me. Fish, water,mermaids consider me hooked.

  12. I didn't get the posts in my reader either. Huh, I thought it was a problem on my part, but it seems there's a few who didn't get it.

    I'm going to vote for Mrs Mojo. While the story left a lot open the writing was better. while the idea was interesting in the first one the writing wasn't quite flowing smoothly and it kept jarring me out of any connection with the story.

  13. Hey DL. Not sure whether or not your updates are popping up on my feed because I know to come over here Mon, Wed, Fri, come rain or shine. But I'll help retweet to get new folks out here. (:

    As for the entries, it was difficult for me to connect to either one but both have great potential. In the first entry, I had a hard time picturing the "legs" and due to the lack of description, I kept imagining brass colored mannequin legs with red stilettos, underwater, dancing....? And in the second, it was unclear to me if she was literally buried under rubble like her dad or in some kind of holding cell. But maybe the ambiguity was done on purpose....

    Bottom line, I want to know more about both but I can only vote for one, so my vote goes to Aidlinn and the dancing legs.

  14. I'm voting for Mrs. Mojo on this one. I felt more connected with the character. More invested.

    In Aidinn's I had a hard time following the flow of who was doing what. Names may help ground me more in the story. And this may be cleared up further along.

    Good job to both!

    DL: My blog roll isn't showing the updates either fyi.
    Also. And this may be FAR over reaching. But for us 'visual' types...Would a chart, like they do with elimination sport rounds, be out of order? Or do you even know how many rounds there ARE yet!? Fill in the names as you post them here? I have no clue how hard that would it's merely a suggestion (Plus this is YOUR thing, you know better what will work!) I'm fully enjoying this whole process! But maybe it's the unknown number of rounds that's kinda overwhelming people too?

  15. Wow, two very different entries. I have to go with #2 this time because it held me best. I wanted to know why the girl was locked away and more about her father.

  16. Think my vote goes to Mojo Rising today.

  17. The first one tugged me along in a bit of vagueness with the tall woman and short man, but the dancing chase prompted a smile to my face. But my vote goes to Mojo Rising for the detailed internalization that didn't run into a ramble. It moved forward, even in it's stillness. Then in the end, the MC didn't give up. Very powerful.

  18. Aidlinn seems to have been talking about crabs or somesuch without actually naming them. That wasn't really a problem for me. The problem was that the writing started to get a little carried away with its descriptions, and specifically how they were written. Some of them just didn't seem natural. Some editing could fix that, but for now it was distracting.

    Mrs. Mojo Rising gets my vote, not just because of the Jim Morrison reference, but because it's a rare WRiTE CLUB effort that drew me in.

    Also, I should note that Friday's Round 11 didn't show up on my dashboard feed until today, with the same "posted ten minutes ago" as this one. I thought I checked the blog itself several times, but maybe I kept forgetting to forgo the Round 10 feed, because I seriously thought DL had forgotten to post it.

    Anyway, glitches aside good work so far, DL. I can be a little grumpy in my comments, but I'm starting to see that maybe being a little nicer is better.

  19. Mrs. Mojo has my vote. I'm in agreement with most of the helpful criticisms already posted for both pieces.

  20. Voting for Mrs Mojo Rising, very well written, it made me want to know more :)

  21. While it was well written, I had a harder time connecting to the first one without a pov to hang on to.
    My vote goes to #2 - liked this line -- I didn’t want him to be a hero. I just wanted him to be home.

    I wonder if google reader is having issues, both this post and your previous one popped up together at 1:25 today in my reader...

  22. I feel Mrs. Mojo Rising. BTW, can't comment though Chrome. Have to use IE

  23. First one confused me a little. I pick Mojo.

  24. My vote is for Mojo. It was gripping from beginning to end.

  25. I think the piece by Mrs. Mojo Rising needs a little tightening and some clarification. Did her father suffocate, or was he crushed? How can she say her father died like this, when it appears she has been locked in someplace to starve to death? However, I am still voting for this piece.

    There is an intriguing idea in the first selection, but the verbs and description which suggest walking on land when they are underwater and the lack of names for the characters made it hard for me to connect to the story.

  26. My vote is for Mrs Mojo Rising. (I hummed the Doors song the whole time I read it)

    In the first piece something happens but I honestly have no idea what...

    In the second piece nothing happens...

    As much as I hate to vote for a piece that has a tear that splashes and a chill that shimmies, such is life.

    1. Oh, and DL, before I read all the numerous comments on what was actually to blame for a potential decline in participation, I wrote a quick blog update (blupdate) for the contest!

  27. I loved the concept of Aidlinn but the story wasn't as clear
    My vote goes to Mrs. Mojo Rising

  28. Wow. So those are both very nicely written with the descriptions and the sensory details. I knew right away that #1 was describing crabs. I could see their legs clitter clacking along the bottome. Nice. Yet, I couldn't quite tell where we were going with that one.

    In the second, I started off thinking the MC was hiding, then I wasn't sure if she was buried alive... The part about 9/11 made me think the latter, but I couldn't be sure. They're both great excerpts, but a little murky for me.

    I guess I'll vote with #1 Aidlinn by a hair, and just b/c I like the descriptions, and I hope it's about crabbers and not mermaids. :D <3

  29. You're right about having to make hard decisions time after time, DL. This IS tough duty. But I'm sorry your comments have dropped off. I'll mention it on fb, if it helps.

    This time, as always, I thought both had some great descriptions and intriguing situations. Talent abounds here in WRiTE CLUB!

    But I was confused by what was going on in Aidlinn's piece and wished for character names. So despite a few things that bothered me about the second story (cliches like burst of energy, in vain), I'm voting for Mrs. Mojo Rising. I want to know why the narrator is trapped in that cell!

  30. Mrs. Mojo gets my vote this time around.

    #1 was interesting, but I found it a little confusing.

  31. Mrs. Mojo for this round. Good luck to both writers.

  32. Although the writing in both pieces is good, I had trouble connecting to either. I didn't know where I was and I didn't know who the characters were. Instead of creating mystery, this lack of information prevented me from getting involved in stories.

    Aidlinn's piece was interesting and somewhat surreal. I thought maybe the tall woman was a mermaid chasing after the brass legs. But again, the lack of information failed to pull me in.

    Mrs. Mojo's piece also lacked detail, but at least it gave me something I could understand. I related to the paragraph about the World Trade Center and it gave me a small clue and allowed me to be grounded in what was going on.

    I vote for Mrs. Mojo.

  33. it was close. i agree with mary, no wow factor for me from either.
    wasnt going to vote, but i will say mrs. mojo

  34. Both very intriguing set ups! I'm going with Aidlinn.

  35. I agree with some of the comments above. I'm voting for Mrs. Mojo. Great job to both authors.

  36. Aidlinn had the more interesting piece, but Mrs Mojo's writing is better. My vote goes to Mrs. Mojo.

    I have a difficult time connecting with first person present tense. I'm NOT this person, have no desire to be this person, and my brain refuses to cooperate and immerse me in the POV. So I spend the whole story on the outside looking in.

    The first (Aidlinn) was interesting and raised some questions, but not enough to really get me involved. And the first mention of dancing legs pulled me right out. "Poor empty pants, with nobody inside them" ran through my head.

    DL, I think part of the problem is people coming back week after week hoping to find their own work without knowing if it will ever be picked. When you said that several pieces had been eliminated because of excess word count I wondered if mine was one of them, although LO said I was under the limit (and still does).

    Another is that many people eventually stop voting unless something really calls to them, which leads to coming back once or twice a week to see if there's something interesting, then once a week, then...

    You may have already, but check your site stats and see if the number of visitors has fallen off significantly, or if it's just comments and votes.

  37. My vote goes to Mrs. Mojo. I love first person and this was compelling.

  38. Another pair of WOW. Aidlinn gets my vote for tackling the undersea world.

  39. Mrs. Mojo for me! These are both great, but I connected with her piece a little bit more. :)

  40. ACK! I am several rounds behind!

    Mrs. Mojo Rising's piece was intriguing, but the last few paragraphs seemed to be from a different piece. I liked it, but not enough to vote for it.

    Aidlinn's piece was nicely done. I could have withstood a little more atmosphere, but I liked it better.

    Aidlinn gets my vote.

  41. Aidlinn gets my vote today. Man, it is so hard to choose between these two, but I voted the way I did because I had more of the "I want more" feeling after finishing the first entry of this round. Two wonderful writers!

  42. The first one was really good, but I have to go with Mojo Rising today. :)

  43. Whimsy gets my vote today - Aidlinn. I think it could use a bit of polish for a smoother flow and the "tall woman/short man" could be varied, perhaps give them names, but I enjoyed the dance.

    Mrs. Mojo Rising's piece was beautifully written and I don't have any substantial critiques, just wasn't as pulled in to this one.




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