Feb 15, 2013

WRiTE CLUB -Skirmish #8

Before we get into this weeks skirmish, I wanted to take a moment to update anyone who's curious about my wife's treatment for Breast Cancer.  Her surgery on Monday went very well, but the exciting part is that they didn't find any trace of the cancer in her lymph she has an 80% chance she won't have to undergo Chemo. :) We won't know definitively for another two weeks, but I'm hanging my hat on that 80% right now.  She's back home resting comfortably now, which means I am also.  

Now how about another chance in the ring for those writers who submitted an anonymous sample of their work to WRiTE CLUB 2012, but weren’t lucky enough to be chosen to compete. There are no prizes to be won, or further advancement beyond this one bout, but as all of the other contestants have discovered before them -- there is still plenty to be gained…and learned. I will post one of these skirmishes each week until I run out of contestants.

This week it's Sengteller turn in the ring.  Here is their 459 word submission.

Kailey and her ride devolved into a tangle of arms and legs, fins and spears. When she finally stabilized, she saw that she’d crashed into her dad’s marlin, slicing its side. A small green creature bobbed in front of her, running long fingers through its kelpy hair.

“I’m so sorry!” it squeaked. “Thank Triton you’re not one of those hooligans from Abaddon’s clan. You’re not, are you? Not that I don’t like the Pacific Ring. I do. Really, I do.” It reached into its slimy waist pack and withdrew a ball of herbs. “Here, take these. Really, you must. Staunch that blood, you know. Sharks like these waters.” It cast a worried look over its shoulder. “Lots to eat. Bye now.”

It shot off into the gloom, leaving Kailey holding the herbs.

“What was that?”

“A jengu. They’re not usually so flighty.” Her mom took the herbs and pressed them gently into the marlin’s wound. “But I suppose I understand, given our surroundings.”

Kailey peered through the dusky waters. She cocked her head to the side, trying to focus in the shifting darkness. She couldn’t be certain, but it looked like bulky shadows streamed toward them.

“Dad? I think someone’s coming.” Her dad groaned, turning toward her mom who stuffed the remaining herbs into her satchel.

“Can we ride yet?”

“The cut’s not deep, but still, it’ll slow us down.”

They remounted, but not before a burly man arrived, astride a massive hammerhead shark. A long scar split his face diagonally, giving the impression that he peered at them through fractured glass. “You don’t belong here.”

“We were just leaving.”

The man fingered a jagged knife that hung from his belt. “I’ve seen you before.”

Kailey’s dad stammered. “Oh…I, uh, come through here now and again.” He was obviously going for nonchalance, but failed dramatically.

“Is that so? With the whole family?” The brute’s gaze lingered on Kailey until she glinted green in nervousness. He pulled back his mount, raising mismatched brows. “A shocker?”

“She’s just a child. We got off course and this was the shortest way through.”

“Most people think twice before crossing the Moonless Mountains.” The brute’s face twisted in suspicion, which looked terrifying since it was so twisted already.

But Kailey was tired of being bullied. She concentrated her anger into her hands, hoping it would produce the desired result. Her fingers blazed with light. Now, if she could just keep her voice steady, “Grant us safe passage and you won’t have any trouble.” She ignored her brother’s disbelieving stare. “Fracture Face don’t take no threats from children,” the brute said, looking highly amused. Her glow faded and she imagined how silly she must look, threatening this hulk of a man with her tiny hands.


And in the other corner, checking in with 435 words, is Dr. Jekyll.

When the first one fell from the sky, no one noticed. Of course, it took the MAB three days to make it to Center City from the crash site. By then, two more Airships had fallen and the Elite were in chaos.

At this point they had taken the proper steps and hired me, Private Detective First Class Owen Straff, at your service. However. Even I got a bit worried when Queen Victoria, herself, arrived at my tidy third floor office. You don’t normally see the Queen in these parts over your morning tea and toast.

I had just finished commenting on the latest crash to my MAB, Gertie, when there she was.

“Queen. Queen. Queen.” Stuttered Gertie uselessly.

“Desk, Gertie.” I rose to my full, imposing height of 5’4 before sweeping a proper bow to the Queen. Leg and all. “Your Majesty. To what do I...”

“Oh, cut the crap, Straff. You know why I’m here. You’re the only one who can catch him. And I’m the only one with the information you need to do it. “ She flounced into the leather wingback chair, tucking her feet beneath her shapely bottom. That was when I noticed her battle dress. The leather of her flying duster heavily coated in a sticky ash. It was getting all over my wingback.

“Where have you been, Vicki? You’re getting..something..all over my furniture.” Just as she was about to expound on the details of this mystery, Gertie rolled in on her loose bearings. A tea tray balanced precariously on her dented brass head.

“Tea..tea..tea..” God, she was useless.

The Queen raised a regal eyebrow at me. “You’ve been over-winding her again, haven’t you?”

I shrugged, manhandling the tray away from Gertie. “Always hated these things. Airships, and such, are one thing. But an Automated Butler? I miss Stevens.” The niceties of tea out of the way, we returned to business at hand.

Victoria reached into her duster, pulling out a folded sheaf of yellowed papers and a long brass screw. “We lost him after the third airship fell. But I know that screw came from him. We built him after all....” She was quiet for a time. Staring into her chipped wedgewood cup. With a sigh she set the untouched tea down and stood. Shaking her duster to rights, she grasped my shoulders. “Find him Straff. Find him before they do.” And just like that, she was sweeping from the room. I unfolded the sheaf of papers, easing into the wingback. There wasn’t much among them, but if she had entrusted them to me, she had a reason.

You know the drill. Got a second to help these writers out by telling them which one resonates with you the most? And Why? Leave your vote (and a brief critique if you have time) in the comments below.

See you back here at the ring again next week!



  1. I am so happy to hear that your wife is doing well. I'll keep sending healing vibes out into the universe your way!!! I'll keep you guy in my thoughts DL! 80% are some great odds.

  2. Happy to hear about your wife's op going well. hope her recovery goes well. Will be thinking of her.
    Take care.

  3. DL, that's wonderful news!!! Will keep praying for your wife.

  4. Glad the surgery went well, DL. I've been thinking about you and your wife lately.

    With today's writing samples, I would have chosen the second one; however I'm not sure either pieces are the type of story I'd normally read.

    I was utterly confused with the first selection, I had to read the first paragraph twice and was still scratching my head wondering what was going on. The piece may come from the middle of a chapter, because I couldn't wrap my mind around what was going on.

    The second piece started off with a lot of explanation, including the main character introducing himself.

  5. I'm so glad to hear your wife has an 80% chance of not needing chemo - that must be such a relief.

    I'm going to go with the second selection. Both pieces confused me a little bit, but I liked the voice and especially the first line in the second one.

  6. I was so thrilled when I got your text message. I'm so thankful that the surgery went well and I hope she gets plenty of rest!! I'm sure you will all spoil her! :)

  7. Yay for your wife!!! That is excellent news. I really can't decide between these two samples - I like them both and they're both so unique. I'd read more of both of them.

  8. I am very happy for your wife! Our prayers are with you both. :)

  9. Wonderful news for your wife (and you, of course)!!

    I love the voice in Dr. Jekyll :)

  10. Sending your wife love and care. I hope she has a girlfriend to bring her licorice and magazines and quiet, smiling company.

  11. Praying for Kim...glad it's looking better right now.

    Okay, 1st entry. I think I could love this world, but the passage here was a little confusing. I would have loved to see the beginning (I'm presuming this was further into the story) so that I could have been grounded in the world and witnessed all the interesting details. The flow was good, the voice clear, and the character likable, but the world itself was very foggy.

    Jekyll's piece also had me confused. I get the SciFi/historical fiction blend, but it all sounded very 1930's. When Queen Victoria appeared, I wasn't so concerned with figuring out the lines between the real world and the fantasy world as I was with figuring out whether I was with Sam Spade in the 30's or Sir Robert Peel in the 1800's... and I ended up being forced to conclude that somehow the queen had ended up in the 20th century. The historical voice just never rang true, though the rest of the writing was clean enough, with good language and humor.

    I'd vote for Sengteller, as ultimately she was able to make me care more about her main character.

  12. I think the second one is my fav!

    I'm glad to hear your wife's prognosis is so good. Prayers and luck to you both!

  13. 80% is definitely good news! My mother passed away last year on March 1st from cancer and I wish we caught in time to operate. I'm always glad though, when I hear someone's got a good chance of giving cancer a good, swift, hard kick where it hurts.

    Now, for today's entries...

    Both I felt showed good flow and writing skill off the bat.

    Sengteller's entry, I presume, came from the middle of a passage and unfortunately, this left us a bit lost for a large portion. The writing was good, I just felt the choice of passage is where this entry suffers most.

    One small thing to look out for though: make sure your main character has emotional integrity. The second half of the entry has Kailey turning green with nervousness, then deciding to threaten the twisted guy in a way I doubt she would around her parents, and then afraid again, all in ten seconds of book time. This type of mistake doesn't usually happen if you have a clear idea of a character's emotional arch throughout a scene. Let her true emotions guide the plot--not the other way around.

    Jekyll's piece I found immediately intriguing (partially because I absolutely love any level of Steampunkedness (of course that's not a word...should be, though) and the writing again has a good flow without excessive description, purple prose, or other common flaws. I loved the detail of how she curled up in the chair.

    I do agree with my wife above, (hello sweetie:) in concerns to the dialogue being a little out of sync timewise. I understand that Steampunk worlds are often parallel worlds and therefore may have different styles of speaking, but Victoria saying "cut the crap" definitely threw me a bit.

    I also felt the scene was a little rushed. This could be due to editing down to 500 words but I'd like the scene to have played out a little more realistically. You've got fun characters who interact well, so don't worry about giving them more stage time.

    I'd go with Jekyll.

  14. Very glad to get an update on your wife, DL, (I've been thinking about you guys) and glad she's doing well and hopefully no chemo! I'm going with Jekyll. The first piece was too confusing. I thought at first they were in the ocean but then the mention of the mountains threw me and Kailey's behavior also seemed odd, didn't make sense to me within the context. I liked the humor in the second piece and the steampunkedness :)

  15. Wonderful to hear good news about your wife. I too am praying. I like the first one best...something about overpowering the bullies is so intriguing in that piece.

  16. Great news for you and your wife!! I'll keep sending healing vibes your way!

    I'd like more of a set up in the 1st one - a bit of grounding would help. In the 2nd, it all seems a bit rushed. I do think both have lots of potential :)

  17. Breast cancer--been there and had to do chemo + radiation. So glad your wife had a good surgery result and praying she can skip the joys of chemo.

  18. All the best to your wife, and you, DL.

    As to the stories, Dr.Jekyll's draws me in more, probably because I get a better sense of the characters.

  19. Hi DL, Happy to know that your better half is doing fine, we do remember her in our prayers.
    Take courage, everything will go well. come to the posts, both did their home work. Keep inform
    Best Regards

    DL, I Just posted a note in relation to this year's A to Z blog challenge.
    you can read that here. A to Z April Blog Challenge

  20. Both were amusing, but I am more likely to read more by sengteller

  21. Don, so glad to hear your wife's surgery went well! I'm praying for that 80% too.

    As for the skirmish, I like them both a lot. I'm a bit more intrigued with Sengteller, though. Although I love the steampunk vibe of the second. Great job both of you!

  22. Thinking positive thoughts for you and your wife.

    I clicked with Jekyll's sense of fun and Dr. Who vibe.

  23. Gosh, Don, I'm way behind on blogs and just saw this. So sorry your wife has had to go through all that, but glad there's good news. Hope it continues to get better and better. And hope she's getting lots of rest. Best to you both.

    For the skirmish, I'd have to go with Dr. Jekyll for the steampunky goodness.