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WRiTE CLUB 2013 - Bout 11

The 9th play-off slot for WRiTE CLUB...captured by a mere single vote...has been filled by Jamie Stuart.  Congratulations to you!  Let's take a moment to look around and realize something...there's just three more weeks until each of those precious spots are taken.  The momentum is starting to build. If you've been sitting silently of the sidelines up til now, its not too late to make a difference as demonstrated by the outcome of our ninth bout!  Make a choice today!

Speaking of that...who do we have on the slate today?

Making their way into the ring now is a WRiTER representing the Urban Fantasy genre and weighing in at 500 words...please help me welcome Hollyhock.   

He is a stranger. He is a stranger in my mother's house. He's dead.

In the last room before the kitchen, and he is dead.

I look at Roman as the pounding of my heart and the hitch in my lungs all spiral away until there is complete silence in my head. And then I turn and sprint toward the breezeway door.

"Don't!" he shouts from behind me, but I'm already in the screened pass-through. The kitchen door is open wide at the opposite end. Gardenia scent wraps around me on the wind.

I tumble into the kitchen and jerk myself to a stop, hand on the door frame. The world drops away as my vision tunnels down. A cake sits on the island. Pink, lacy frosting rings between pastel flowers, each petal as realistic as the bouquet beside it. White ganache forms a perfectly smooth layer over the twin layers. It is perfect.

Except there is red on the ganache. Red doesn't belong there. Ruby red, crimson red. Strawberry red.

My knees jar against the tile, and then my hands hit cool travertine.

She is wearing her favorite pajamas: light, icy blue the same shade as her eyes, a chocolate strip of lace around the neckline. Blue and white slippers. The matching robe is folded neatly on one of the barstools. Sleeves of the silky top rolled up on her forearms.

Hands touch my shoulders. I jerk away and scrabble forward, grab her legs and shake her.

No. No.

Pressure chokes my throat, and an intense shaking builds in my stomach.


Blue eyes stare at the ceiling. The mascara is smudged onto her cheek. Pearl earrings that I gave her for Mother's Day ten years ago hang in silver teardrops.

An empty mug rests in her hand. Manicured fingers hang limp around it.


I drag my gaze back up.


The lower half of her face is gone. Ragged edges show shards of white enamel, bone peeking through flaps of pink flesh. Behind her, the wooden base of the island bears a splatter of blood and thick strings of meat that slide toward the floor even as I watch.

"Mom." My stomach trembles on the word. I tighten my hands around her ankles. She is still warm.

"Ellery, it's not safe."

My body has emptied. I'm just a hollow form.

"She was gone when I found her." Roman pulls me standing. A pulse of white light strobes across my vision. Electricity burns my skin, prickles my scalp and tugs at my muscles. 

"Yvonne?" I manage to say. He shakes his head.  

I step around him and break for the breezeway. He swears, then his footsteps clatter across the threshold after me.

I run like someone is pulling my strings, moving my legs and arms, pumping my heart. Silence rattles around inside me as my skin lights on fire.

I should be screaming. Crying. My mother is dead.

My mother is dead. The words don't even make sense.


And in the other corner, showing off 496 words of compositional fury in the Fantasy genre, I present to you Emma T. Nestor.

“‘Esmerelda … wait!’ His voice carried over the breeze which rustled the leaves of the ancient oaks.

Angry tears rushed to her eyes. She hated herself for loving him. How had Lady Hixton-Brayson found out? His mother must have known something to have been so eager to humiliate her publicly.

Cornered, Esmerelda turned, her color high, her bosom heaving. Leslie crashed into the clearing, his eyes dark with … what? Anger? Enraged, she rushed toward him and began pounding him with her fists. ‘How dare you! Hasn’t your family done enough to ruin me and mine? Go back to Middlegate and …’

Their eyes met, his full of tenderness and ardor, hers full of the desire she could no longer control. A moment … an eternity … flashed between them. Capitulating, their lips met in a frenzy of passion as he ”

Camille Blackwood-Frost stopped typing.

“Damn,” she thought. “The bodice came off from the front in my last book.“ She took a sip of wine and mused, “Well, I can always use the old ‘no, no … we mustn’t!’ convention and have her turn around.”

As soon as she placed her fingers back on the keys, an unpleasant buzzing sensation raced up her arms. “POOF!” The screen went blue and a jagged, silvery light flared into her peripheral vision.

She whipped around, upsetting her wine. While chablis dripped down the side of the faux-Regency desk and the glass rolled from side to side, she stared in disbelief at the tousled couple who had been deposited on the velvet couch in her home office.

The man, rugged, blonde and heart-wrenchingly handsome, stared down at the floor. The woman, a buxom beauty with impossibly perfect alabaster skin, threw a long raven-colored braid over her shoulder and began tucking in the loose ends of her hair, all the while glaring at Camille.


The woman pointed at Camille with one hand, while tugging at the meager fabric of her bodice with the other. “You must stop! You are a heartless, shallow menace!” The woman trembled with anger. “He was my dear friend until you plied your damnable formula about ten chapters ago!” The man nodded in agreement.

Formula? These people are from my head! I typed them out! Camille looked down at her expensively manicured fingers, and then back at the couch where the furious Esmerelda Della Pagana and the pensive Leslie Hixton-Brayson sat.

Camille’s mind raced. Well, they were a bit more developed than the characters in her previous books, and maybe the story had tried to go in a different direction. But there was that huge advance and a deadline, a deadline that was fast approaching.

“Oh, and Bernice ... it's really Bernice Krankowsky, right?” Esmerelda's voice was icy.

Dumbfounded, Camille looked up and nodded.

“Well, Bernice … I cannot abide the name ‘Esmerelda.’"

Leslie nervously cracked his knuckles and said, "And Madam—I don’t care for mine, either. Also, I’d like to go to Australia.”


For anyone new to WRiTE CLUB, here are the basics.  Anyone can vote by simply making your choice known in the comments below, but in order for that vote to COUNT you must also register as a WRiTE CLUB member on the Linky List located HERE.  Easy peasy!  Oh yeah...and tell all your friends about it as well.  You may not be allowed to talk about WRiTE CLUB...but that doesn't mean you cant get the word out! :)

And remember, 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 Emma t. Nestor. I really enjoyed the idea of characters coming to life. The first one is written well except I got confused. It could because I'm sick, but I thought a man was dead at first. Great detail though.
    great job to both writers.

  2. I vote Emma T Nestor, I love that the characters came to life. Like Christine, I was a little confused about the first story, though I did enjoy it.

  3. Maybe it's just me, but I always enjoy seeing the comparison and contrast between the two entries that the random draw thrusts into the ring. Here we have one entry where a character that should be alive is found dead up against a second entry where a character that should be inert is brought to life.

    Hollyhock's piece has gripping emotion and a visceral impact as the dead mother is found. The pacing is smooth and I don't have too much to quibble about in terms of basic mechanics. The major thing that caused me to falter was a lack of clarity. For example, who is the "stranger" who is dead? Is there another dead body that the MC finds before going into the kitchen to see the mother? And then the mention of "Roman" makes the reader want to associate that character with the "he" that is dead. All in all, those two opening sentences just add a little too much confusion -- the lines could be strong, but then the questions that are aroused ("who's dead?" "where is he?" "how'd he die?") are too quickly cast aside as the MC goes into the kitchen. And then the mention of the breeze-way and the pass-through and the "wind" makes it hard to picture the scene -- are we inside and going out? Outside and coming in? Then where was the dead stranger? Inside or outside the house? And who's "Yvonne?" Is that mom??? I just think this piece could use some smoothing to clarify things and help the reader get a little more grounded.

    Emma T. Nestor's piece is light and amusing, although the concept of an author's characters coming to life is a familiar one. But it's done very well here with a smooth insertion of humor. There are also some very nice little touches like the "faux-Regency desk" and the author's changed name against the characters wanting their own names changed. The piece reads effortlessly and pulls the reader in and this snippet clearly promises a fun read ahead.

    So while my general genre preference might be for the material Hollyhock gives us, I have to vote for Emma T. Nestor since I feel it was much clearer and smoother reading.

  4. I enjoyed both of these, but my vote goes to Hollyhock.

  5. I think this is a case of missing context. That being said, I almost stopped reading Emma T. Nestor's piece in the beginning, because the story-within-a-story is so overwrought. I did keep going, however, and the result was light and funny, if a familiar scene.

    I like the use of white space in the first scene.

    Going purely on gut preference, my vote's for Hollyhock.

  6. I was a little confused with the characters in the first one. Thought the second was clever. Every writer's nightmare. My vote is for Emma.

  7. The first left me too confused for too long. It was powerful and dark and sad, but I didn't know who anyone was nor really care. I think I was just missing too much is all. Well written, definitely striking. But my votes goes to Emma in the end.

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  9. (had to repost my comment because of typos. Horrible, horrible typos)

    My vote is for Hollyhock this week.

    I felt a bit betrayed by the story opening of Emma's piece. I mean, by the end it's clear why that has to happen, and it's clever and funny, but it took me a bit too long to stop feeling irritated by being tricked.

    Any gaps that i saw in Hollyhock's piece were clear to me as just because there's a limited word count and this piece wasn't the opening of the novel. It's sometimes a risk to do so (one that i usually take, too) and in this case i felt it paid off. The pacing is great, as are the details and tension. I don't really know the MC, but i really feel her emotions upon finding her mom

  10. The first piece was intriguing, but confusing. I read it several times and still can't figure out who everyone is. I also don't know why Ellery even bothered throwing another character into the melee (Yvonne) if there was to be no explanation of who this person was and the overriding emotion at the end of the scene, despite the fact that this Yvonne is either gone or also dead, is still the death of mother - and mother only. So, why ask about someone you don't really care about? And who is Roman in relation to Ellery? And who is the dead guy at the beginning of the scene - and how did he get that way??? Too many questions.

    The second piece was a lot of fun and well written. I have to vote for Emma T. Nestor this time around.

  11. Oooh, tough choice today. I'm going to go with Hollyhock. It was visceral and I was present in every moment. Emma T Nestor's was fun in the end, but the beginning tuned me out.
    But a really tough choice! Great job, writers!!

  12. I think both of them have their pros and cons. With Hollyhock, I agree that things are confusing. I'd maybe take some time to clarify your pronouns. With Emma T Nestor, I felt like the beginning where she's writing the characters is too long. Get to the part where the real characters are. WIth that said, my vote goes to Emma T. Nestor.

  13. Hollyhock started weird for me. It took 2 readings to really place the scenery from what the first lines said because I'm imagining them already IN the house. Lots of over details that could have been better used for quick back stories. Otherwise nicely done.

    Emma's I wished would have been a bit more comical because it seemed to head in that direction but ended on a bland line. would have been nice to hear Leslie ask to get his name changed to a more masculine name. Overall it was the easier flowing read.

    Vote: Emma

  14. Hollyhock started out strange for me, too, but in the end it was the more interesting piece.

  15. My vote goes to Emma T. Nestor. It was a fun read and had me laughing. The first piece just made me confused.

  16. I gotta go with Emma T. Nestor.

    How many times have characters come to life and detoured my planned outline? Too many times to count!

  17. I absolutely LOVED Hollyhock's opening. It was a littel confusing throughout with the amount of characters but enjoyable nonetheless.

    Emma's piece was light and fun, but the opening was a bit of a turn-off as i was just reading through it to see what the deal was with the italics.

    Both very strong pieces this week but i choose HOLLYHOCK

  18. I'm going with Emma this time. Her piece was just plain fun to read, even if the idea of characters coming to life from the pages of a book isn't anything new. I liked Hollyhock's piece too, but in the end I was too confused about who everyone was and where they were to enjoy it anything like as much.

  19. I vote for Emma.

    Hollyhock: Some of your imagery is so vivid and wonderful. Really nice. But I was too confused about what's going on.

    Emma: I loved the little twist. I want to know what happens next. I will mention that I think the passage at the beginning is a bit too long or I need to know right off the bat that the MC's a writer and this is her fiction.

  20. I preferred Emma's piece this round. I really loved the characters coming to life and taking her to task.

    On personal preference Hollyhock's piece just wasn't for me, although it was written well to grab the reader. I'm not a huge fan of present tense, but in this case I can see why it would work better.

  21. Both have intense characters and vivid story lines.

    I'll vote for Emma though.


  22. Again this was an occasion to read, return and read again. First time round I really struggled to follow the first piece but on a second, slower read, I felt the intensity in the middle and the description was good. Mention of several characters took me out of the piece though as I didn't know who they were or where they fitted in with the story. In the second, I thought the intro was maybe too long for the word count, in a full length story it would probably have been fine. Overall it was easier to follow and there were some nice touches of humour. Good luck to both of you.

    My vote will be for Emma in this round.

  23. Hollyhock seems to want to make her MC's voice as realistic as possible, but realism is overrated. Realistic thoughts (or dialog) is filled with umm's, fragments, and repetitions. These are sometimes confusing and boring for the reader. Edit down to only what's necessary but still shows emotion and don't repeat lines/ideas.

    I was taken aback with Emma's beginning - until I realized it was a false beginning. Funny! The rest is better. However, I want to be shown not told that Esmeralda is furious, Leslie is pensive, and then is nervous enough to "nervously" crack his knuckles. Also, almost every line has multiple adjectives. Longer, more vivid, original descriptions would make the writing more professional.

    I vote for Emma.

  24. I'm going to vote for Emma T. Nestor. I loved this piece! What writer doesn't feel like that could happen to them sometimes?!

  25. I like the tone of the first piece.

    Voting for Emma! That was fun!

  26. This was the first easy one for me: Emma T. Nestor. I love the humor, and we don't see enough in this competition! (For the good reason that it's really hard to do well.)
    Hollyhock, you have some good images, but be careful of cliche and melodrama. (What'll make it easier is that you tend to be melodramatic in the more cliche moments--so I think if you can focus on making it a little more original, the feeling of melodrama will be less of an issue.)

  27. I'm a fan of realistic, but I have to be able to follow the characters and what they're doing. I had a hard time doing that with #1

    With #2 I was happy that I wasn't reading a bodice ripper and that there was humor involved. My vote goes to #2

  28. You lost me at "Poof!"
    My vote is for Hollyhock

  29. I had a hard time with this one... thus the late vote. One writer has cleaner writing. The other goes out on a ledge with her content. Although the read is confusing at first, I vote Hollyhock.

  30. Both of these were great! Emma's was a lot of fun, but I thought Hollyhock's packed a much more compelling emotional punch. I vote for Hollyhock.

  31. Mvote goes to EMMA T. NESTOR.

    I apologize because I don't have much time to comment and I'm already running behind, but although both pieces were pretty good. Emma's just hooked me.

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  33. Emma T. Nestor gets my enthusiastic vote! What a totally fun, hilarious piece. "I cannot abide the name 'Esmerelda.'" Haha! I, of course, had to roll by eyes at "heaving" so to find out that that was the point was a fantastic moment. A couple teensy nitpicks - I think the "which" in the first line should be "that" - or a comma before "which." Also, "blonde" should be "blond" - blonde is only used as a noun when referring to a woman who is blond (who knew, right?).

    Hollyhock's piece is well executed, just a little too demanding on the emotions for my personal tastes.




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