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WRiTE CLUB 2016 - Playoff Round 3

We started with 95, narrowed it down to 30, cut it in half to 15, and now there is only 6 writers left.  It's play-off time in WRiTE CLUB!

Our six writers will again enter the ring, this time against a different (randomly selected) opponent, and brandishing a new 500 word writing sample. The bouts will be posted once a day...ending Wednesday...with the voting remaining open until noon central time on Sunday, April 10th.

Here's a reminder of how everything works. Writing samples from two different writers, identified only by the craftily selected pen names of the respective submitters, are competing against one another today. The writing can be from any genre, any age group, taken either from a larger piece of work or simply a stand alone flash fiction. The focus is on the writing...not the writer...or its categorization.

The winner of each contest is chosen by you...the reader.  Simply read each entry and leave your vote in the comment section below.  Anyone can vote, as long as you have a Google ID or belong to Google Friend Connect. Anonymous voting is not allowed. It is customary to leave a brief critique for all the pieces. You see, the comments are where the true value of this contest makes itself known. Not only do the contestants gain valuable insight about their work from those remarks, but everybody can benefit from how each piece is received and what works...and what doesn't. Please remember to remain respectful with your comments. If you see an opportunity for improvement, make it known in the most positive way possible.

How do you choose a winner? What criteria should be used? The method by which you determine who to vote for is entirely up to you.  Which one resonates with you the most? Which one makes you want to read more? Which one demonstrates a total command of the English language and how it can be used to elicit emotion or paint a mental picture you can't stop staring at. There is no hard and fast way rules for determining a winner -- and that's exactly what the publishing world is like. But today you get to decide.

What's at stake here? Other than bragging rights, there's also a chance to win free admission to the 2017 DFW Writers Conference.

Your voting has an added significance because not only will the three winners move onto to the next round, the submission that does not win their bout but tally's the most votes among the losers will move forward as a wildcard selection as well.

Ready to help an aspiring writer make their mark?  It's time to introduce our contestants and get this party started.

Writer #1 is representing the Adult Fiction genre with 498 words. Please give a warm welcome to JavaInMe.

"What I want for my fortieth birthday is to become your apprentice. I haven't aged in twenty years. We share the immortality gene."

Father huffs. "I had an apprentice. He didn't survive." He rubs his forehead. "You think I want my daughter for one?"

I grin. "Quincey wasn't immortal. Whatever killed him won't be able to kill me."

Shaking his head, he retrieves an old journal with Authur Helsing, his real name, engraved on the leather cover. "Some know that the first Thanksgiving had shellfish, venison, and rabbit as main dishes. Turkey is popular now because of the wereturkey. That's what killed Quincey."

Father flips to the middle. "Gobble-gobble was uttered by tribal elders in northern New Jersey in 1705. Colonists noticed the tribe's elderly vanish the first night of November, under a full moon. Not wanting to be caught with their pants down by invaders, the colonists went hunting. One survived."

"The colonists burned him for witchcraft, murder, and food hoarding." Father hands me a clipping in old Dutch. "Claiming to encounter a rafter of turkeys but bring none back wasn't smart."

"Regular turkeys?" I ask.

"Wereturkeys, though no one knew it. The next blue moon November was in 1724. The tribe's elderly weren't being watched. People were caught with their pants down, most of them literally. Wereturkeys attacked outhouses."

Father points to a journal page. "This was the testimony of Mrs. Jones when I questioned her about her husband's whereabouts."

~ "Nothing were left of me husband, 'cept his weddin' ring and boots. Our crapper, it were filled with feathers, it was!" ~

"Elaine, if you're going to laugh, I'll not consider taking you on as an apprentice."

"Sorry." I bite my lip to contain myself.

"I discovered the truth in 1857. A decade later, after the Civil War, I convinced President Johnson to act against the wereturkey. He wanted to keep it quiet. We had forty-nine years to prepare. That was the good news. The bad news was the tribe relocated all over the country during the war."

I shake my head. "A much bigger hunting ground."

Father flips the page. "President Johnson and I ran a propaganda campaign tied to Thanksgiving celebrations. It was easy to convince people that their American pride is measured by the size of the turkey they serve."

"Are they extinct now?" A clipping of Norman Rockwell's Thanksgiving painting is in the journal.

"By 1963, I was convinced they were, so Quincey got complacent. One ate him while we slept in the forest. I killed the bird, but not in time." He shows me a scar. "The only creature I've encountered that could hurt me."

I cringe.

"In 2001, tofurky began a fad, and hunting declined." Father flips through pages of unsolved murders and missing persons cases. "November 1, 2191, will be the next appearance. Plenty of time to for them to breed an army to gobble up the world. Are you certain you want to be my apprentice, Elaine?"


Writer #2 represents the Adult Science Fiction genre with 484 words. Please welcome back into the arena Helveticaw.

"A dog." Lucy looked Fritz in the face, her heart pounding, and her breath constricted.

Fritz's lower left eyelid bulged, then contracted back into place.

Good. The scent of the deodorant was keeping him off kilter, just like the seller at the market had told her it would.

"Why do you think they took all this away, all these chemical smells?" he'd said. "For them, it's like sticking a fork in a toaster. Let's say that toaster is part of a network of toasters. This--" he'd gestured with the tube of deodorant-- "blows out the one that's got the scent up its nose. The network spits him out. Makes it possible to feed a little information into the system. When they reconnect, it's already integrated as fact." He'd waggled his eyebrows. "Like, for example, that this market is okay. Or any special requests."

Fritz's forehead bulged. She watched for the faraway gaze he got when he connected with his people. His left eye rolled, but so far, he was stuck here, with her.

Three years of living under the invasion. She couldn't end it, and she couldn't bear it. Nothing to do, but to try to make it better, in any way possible.

"You cannot have a dog. These do not exist," he said.

"That's a lie."

The rumour had spread through the community of humans for the last month. A dog, like a German Shepherd with curly fur, spotted at night, on the edges of the university campus, in the small patch of woods to the west of town.

Lucy hadn't been able to let the idea go. She had more an impulse than a plan, an aching need to feel warm fur under her fingers.

Fritz's neck ruffled, some valve or gill fluttering. She imagined a mantis-like insect under the human flesh wrapper, its antennae folded back against its skull, its multifaceted eyes turning heavenward, in supplication to the gods of decision making. Those gods were silent today. Fritz was on his own.

"You had a dog before."

Lucy nodded. Honey's face flashed through her mind, her short buff coloured fur, her broad grin. "You took her from me."

"I did not." Technically true. She still blamed him, just like she blamed all of them.

"They were not necessary," he said.

"What happened to them?"

She didn't remember Honey being taken. When Fritz and his people came, the world had slept. When it woke up, everything had changed, and Honey was gone.

"There was no pain," Fritz said.

A chill came over her. She stumbled for the bed and sat down hard as saliva boiled into her mouth. She swallowed tentatively, sure that she would vomit if she wasn't careful.

She wondered about that lost animal. How had he survived, all this time?

"You need to fix this," she said. "You need to bring me the dog."


Enjoying a pair of talented writers at work is only part of the price of admission, now it’s up to you to decide who moves forward.  Read both pieces, choose the one you feel is superior, then say so in the comments below and provide a mini-critique for each if you haven't already done so.

Please tell all of your friends to stop by and make a selection as well.  Tweet about it, and if you do please use the hashtag #WRiTECLUB2016.

Remember, this is WRiTE CLUB, where it’s not about the last man/woman standing, but who knocks the audience out!


  1. Both great. Both filled with animal stories of sorts. But I vote JavaInMe because it made me laugh.

  2. I remember part # of Helveticaw's story and found it intriguing, and this is a good continuation.

    However, JavaInMe gets my vote with this very clever, amusing story.

  3. Helveticaw gets my vote today. I'm intrigued by the character and alien invasion story. I guess I kept waiting for the punch line in Java's piece and it didn't really show up for me, and I had to double check to see what genre it was supposed to be. Java also read more like a big information dump and Helveticaw had more of a story hook for me.
    Congrats again to both writers and best of luck to both of you.

  4. Ooh, difficult. Voting for Helveticaw.

  5. This is an easy one for me. JavaInMe's story is entirely exposition with no description whatsoever. It's a funny idea, but it doesn't demonstrate writing skill to me, just the ability to invent stories.

    Helveticaw's story is solid and full of imagery. I understand a whole lot about the world it's in from just these short words. Both excerpts are almost entirely expository, but while JavaInMe delivers it via a pure dialogue info-dump, Helveticaw does it with lots of descriptive phrases, a flashback, dialogue, and tone.

    Vote: Helveticaw.

  6. I can't say it any better than Hamumu.

    My vote is for Helveticaw!

    This line was my favorite: "...its multifaceted eyes turning heavenward, in supplication to the gods of decision making."

  7. JavaInMe has a hilarious concept, but Helveticaw has better writing (more showing instead of telling). I kind of wish Java continued the story from their first submission though, but I like how this writer demonstrated the genre ranges he/she can write in.

    I'm going with JAVAINME... because it made me laugh and I want read more to see where this is going. Helveticaw has great writing, but the story just isn't gripping me as much anymore. Not sure if it's because I've read and seen one too many alien stories/TV shows/movies and they're all starting to sound the same...

    Okay, I might come back here and change my vote before Sunday if Helveticaw sticks with me more. I really, really want to vote based strictly on writing quality, but in the end, the story always wins for me.

    1. I am probably taking this competition way too seriously, but it's been so fun reading all of these different stories... I thought back to both submissions as I had said before and I change my mind. I am voting for Helveticaw because I can remember more of the story. The writing for JavaInMe was funny, but the only thing I can remember was "wereturkey". It says something about Helveticaw's writing that I can remember details from that person's story even though it's no longer a genre I'm engaged in.

  8. JavaInMe: I love the comedy of this piece. The idea that eating turkey at Thanksgiving was started to rid the country of wereturkeys is pure genius and I think there's a hilarious short story to be written here. You just haven't quite found it yet. I hope you play with the perspective and technique a bit and polish it up because the world needs the ridiculous of this piece in it.

    Helveticaw: I want to buy this book RIGHT NOW. I enjoy the voice and flow of your story and you have created a world I want to explore. I am desperately hoping that your MC gets her dog and that I get to read more of this story.

    My vote goes to Helveticaw.

  9. Vote: JavaInMe

    Love the piece, the idea and just the outrageous of it. I find it quite disturbing. If we are eating Wereturkey's that means we eat people. I'd like to think the MC would be a little more serious about it, or would know about...I might say the seriousness of Wereturkey's would become less funny with time...but man, i dunno. Love it.

    Heveticaw: I think this piece is very well written, and a great premise behind it. I like the uniqueness you've brought to the aliens-takes-over-the-world trope, I definitely would read this book. Right now these pieces string together and the dog is a big thing; but I don't know why the dog is important to the story. I'm kinda left with the same questions as I was in the last piece...why a dog? why had the aliens done what they'd done? This piece doesn't answer any of that and I can see why, because they are not isolated 500 word stories. I do want more, but I'm kinda left feeling frustrated with something I know is a part of a bigger piece. Also, both piece end the exact same way, her asking for a dog...I don't quite understand why she thinks she can boss an alien into getting her a dog? Also, why wouldn't she try to find it herself? Wouldn't the alien just kill it?

  10. Helveticaw gets my vote today. I'm still intrigued. "She had more an impulse than a plan, an aching need to feel warm fur under her fingers." That line sold it for me, as I imagine it would for anyone who's ever had the love of a good dog. Still voicy, still carrying the twist on the alien-invasion / hive mind trope. Nicely done. I hope if you make it through, we'll get even deeper into these characters.

    Java: I think humor is one of- if not the hardest genre to write as it's so terribly subjective. Kudos for taking the risk, but the idea of wereturkeys just didn't strike me as funny. I'll echo Hamumu's comment about the info-dump also. More story and less story-telling would have been welcome.

  11. Neither of these really grabbed me, but I'll vote Helveticaw because it was less info-dumpy than Java's piece.

  12. I am really struggling with both of these.
    Immortals instituting Thanksgiving to eliminate the wereturkey population?
    Going to sleep and waking up in an alien-controlled, dog-free world?

    While both require me to give up my grasp on reality and live in a bit of the ridiculous for a while, I must admit the wereturkeys were much more fun. I can empathize with the dog-lover who has lost her dog to the alien invasion and needing that furry connection to the world and life she has lost.

    I give my vote to Helveticaw for painting a picture that gives me hope for the dog, and hope for your MC.

  13. Helvitcaw continues to intrigue.

  14. I vote for Java. The idea is hilarious and I like the perspective of the story.

  15. My vote is JavaInMe. It might be funnier closer to November, but it got me to laugh here in April. Correct me if I'm wrong, but this is the only story of the 6 that wasn't just a continuation of a previous entry.

    Helveticaw - A dog leads to talk about deodorant. Fritz says dogs don't exist, but then that she had one before, which felt a bit jarring. And then it goes from a dog to the dog. Can Fritz read her mind?
    It's a good piece when matched with the other. By itself, there are spots I'm confused. But I bet it's a good overall story.

    Best of luck.

  16. i really enjoyed javainme's so that is my vote

  17. Hmmm. Helveticaw for me. Both pieces were a bit confusing... the flow and pacing needs to be smoothed out in Java's piece, and as for Helviticaw, there just wasn't enough back story to understand exactly what was happening. I know it's hard in such a short piece.

  18. My vote is for JavaInMe. Kudos to both authors, and best of luck!

  19. I vote for JavaInMe.

    Java: Creative, funny, and nice weaving in of various aspects (loved the eyewitness). I would like to see more character development here, less information-dumping, though.

    Helveticaw: I wasn't sold on the dog part...maybe there's some missing information here that would make this more convincing, but it's hard for me to imagine given the bit we have here.

  20. Helveticaw as it enthralled mor

  21. Helveticaw gets my vote. Cleaner writing and interesting. Java - funny concept but awkward pacing.

  22. I vote Helveticaw for its richness and power to draw me in to that world. The Java piece had some neat ideas but I didn't sense any texture.

  23. Both selections drifted somewhat into exposition, which is a necessary component of many Sci Fi and paranormal stories, but which is less engaging when read out of context.

    But I vote for Helveticaw, who handled the exposition more gracefully, I think--making some of it deductions on the part of the POV character. I also think the whole story concept has more substance and can sustain a longer story.

    JavaInMe amused me, but the exposition was largely a history lecture.

    Also, I couldn't get a feel for whether this is a short story--ending soon? Or whether it's a novel--in which case the concept is a little slight for me to think of it as Adult Fiction. I would personally suggest grouping it with some more specific genre.

  24. Both selections drifted somewhat into exposition, which is a necessary component of many Sci Fi and paranormal stories, but which is less engaging when read out of context.

    But I vote for Helveticaw, who handled the exposition more gracefully, I think--making some of it deductions on the part of the POV character. I also think the whole story concept has more substance and can sustain a longer story.

    JavaInMe amused me, but the exposition was largely a history lecture.

    Also, I couldn't get a feel for whether this is a short story--ending soon? Or whether it's a novel--in which case the concept is a little slight for me to think of it as Adult Fiction. I would personally suggest grouping it with some more specific genre.

  25. This comment has been removed by the author.

  26. Helveticaw has my vote, although you really shouldn't use "bulged" twice within the same 500 words! I'm afraid Java needs to work on putting indicators outside his dialogue. It felt like it was ONLY dialogue, and it seemed to progress in topic between apprenticeship and turkeys without any clear transition. Both pieces didn't really catch me, but the second gave me some idea of the world while the first didn't quite get there.

  27. Helveticaw has my vote, because I felt connected with the main character's emotions and thoughts. I understood her dilemma, her helplessness, and her determination to at least have one choice.
    I just didn't connect with the other piece, although I did think it was clever.

  28. Helveticaw got my vote in this one.

    I've read both previous installments of these pieces and think these flow well. However, during JavaInMe I was pulled out of the story. The anachronism of the use of the word 'crapper' lost the vote for me.

    Near as I can tell, the word 'crap' comes from the Middle English, but fell out of favor by the mid-1600's. It came back during WWII when toilets bore the brand of "Crapper and Co." So in JavaInMe, the woman might have said 'crap' but would never have said 'crapper.'
    (Funny quote, but doesn't work in this story, especially with the commentary on which Thanksgiving celebrations had turkey.)

  29. Helveticaw for me.
    JavaInMe's had way too much exposition and the humor felt forced.

  30. Helveticaw for me.
    JavaInMe's had way too much exposition and the humor felt forced.

  31. Helveticaw Gets my vote. I enjoyed the humor in JavaInMe's piece, but Helveticaw's flowed better for me and was easier to follow.

  32. Thankfully... somebody's finally addressing this nation's wereturkey problem! One vote for JavaInMe. You can't put a price on raising awareness. Or on making me laugh that hard.




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