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WRiTE CLUB 2018 - Bout #12

Reminder - You can follow along with all of the bout results right HERE, and remember, the bouts stay open for one week and some of the first weeks are still live.

Today we bring you bout #12 of WRiTE CLUB. Best of luck to both writers.

Here's a refresher of what's going on, in case you forgot how things work here.

Weeks ago the submission window opened for this year's contest where we asked anybody wishing to participate to submit a 500-word writing sample – using a pen name. The sample can be from any genre, flash fiction or something from a larger piece of work, basically, anything goes except that it cannot have been previously published or posted on the internet. All of the rules regarding how to submit can be found here. After the submission period closed, we had fifteen judges (we call them our slush pile readers) read all 181 submissions from 132 writers and once all the ballots were total we narrowed the 181 down to the 30 that will be stepping into the ring over the course of the next three weeks. Today is the first of those bouts.

How this works – two anonymous (pen name only) writing samples step into the ring. Visitors to this blog (that’s you) read both entries and vote for the one that resonates the most with you. We 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 it is posted to give as many people as possible to have a say. The voting for today’s bout will close on Monday, May 7th (noon central time).

It’s that simple. The piece that garnishes the most votes moves on to the next round where they’ll face a different opponent. Using a tournament style format, the 30 contestants will be whittled down to just 2, and the winner of that final bout will be announced at the DFW Writers Conference in Hurst TX June 9-10

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).

Oh yeah – for every bout that you vote in, your name (see rule #2 below) will be placed into a hat for a chance for a $40 Barnes and Noble Gift card that will be drawn after the contest concludes.

A few 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 result in that contestant's immediate disqualification. It’s perfectly okay, in fact, it is encouraged to spread the word about the contest to get more people to vote, just not for a specific writer!

That’s enough jibber-jabber…like the man say’s –

In the far corner, we have Cha-REL representing the Women's Fiction genre.

I’m not even wearing a bra. I’m fifteen minutes late, I haven’t washed my hair since God knows when, these “yoga pants” are my pajamas—yup, I slept in them—I have coffee-flavored morning breath, and I’m not even wearing a bra.
To be expected, there are no spots in the school parking lot, so I have to park across the street and sprint, which means I’ll be sweaty on top of everything else—damned 90-degree August mornings—and of course there’s Kristin Barlow.
“He-ey, Kaa-aate!” she calls in a voice that is like saccharine if it had a sound, waving at me as her long, lithe legs carry her across the parking lot and into her silver Model S. The first time I saw her, I was positive Kristin was a former runway model or something, but I was wrong. No, she’s a graduate of Yale Law who provides pro-bono legal counsel for underprivileged, inner-city families. Her husband owns a large venture capital firm so she’s able give back to the community in addition to being a perfect mom, a trophy wife, and the head of the PTA. She’s also never late to parent-teacher conferences.
“He-ey, Krii-stiin!” I warble, waving and then smacking my knuckles against the glass as I miss the door handle, and if I were more like Kristin my husband would probably still be around.
There’s a dad sitting on the bench in the school lobby and I cross my arms over my chest because my t-shirt-clad nipples don’t understand it’s not polite to point. He’s not Kristin’s husband, but I would bet my morning coffee his wife is a sun-kissed, blonde-balayage counterpart to mocha-haired-cover-girl-look-alike Kristin. I bet his wife teaches Pilates. Or hot yoga. Or a barre class. Or all of the above. He’s overtly handsome and his well-fitting gym clothes showcase the fact that he’s in better shape than the average late-thirty-something male, and I bet he just came from a spin class taught by his perfect wife. I sit as far at the other end of the bench as possible without letting one of my never-even-seen-a-Pilates-studio ass cheeks hang off the edge.
“Kate,” comes the voice of Lindsay, the receptionist-slash-office-manager, who is neither saccharin nor sugar, rather she’s more like cilantro because people either love her or hate her. “Ms. Lawson is still in another conference. It’s okay.”
“Oh, she is?” I ask, trying and failing to suppress my huffing and puffing.
Lindsay gives me a brisk and amused nod as she disappears into the door behind her desk. She reemerges a moment later carrying a styrofoam cup and holds it in front of my face.
“Everything’s fine,” she says, and I love cilantro. Cilantro gets me and knows without me telling her that I only had one cup of coffee this morning because I can’t keep track of time to save my life.

And in the near corner, we have MujerConHistorias representing the Short Story Grief-Inspirational genre.

With her head on the sofa’s armrest, her eyes follow the roach. That movement, a wobbly taka-taka as the roach busily makes its way across the hardwood floor, is what made her eyes focus. She can’t recall the last time she ate but the image of her picking out that floor three years ago when they moved in is as vivid as the roach’s shiny black back. Her husband had loved the floor. She’d hated how every speck of dust showed like a star on dark sky. The roach, usually undetectable on the espresso floor, leaves a trail on the dust with its airy taka-taka.

She sits up inch by inch, her side bursting into shooting pains. A head-shaped depression remains on the cushion, the fabric retains the outline of where her body was laying. She lifts her shirt and traces the sores on the side of her body with her fingertips. She’d found them last week. This she remembers. She lets the shirt fall down.

Her ear is about to touch the armrest again when she hears the cry outside. Soft. Timid. It persists until she drops her legs over the edge and stands. Her living room spins, her nails dig into the armrest.

The cries get closer. She shuffles like an elder from couch to patio door and slides the glass door open. An orange fluff ball meows again. It parades up and down the concrete porch, rubbing against patio furniture and planters with shriveled plants. Probably hungry. Her head turns toward the kitchen, an image of her mother-in-law with grocery bags flashes.

They used to have a cat the first year of their marriage. It was really his mom’s, Sandra’s cat. He returned it, eventually.

Sandra, the only one who rang her number long after she’d stopped picking up. Sandra gave up like the rest, months ago.

The feline, waiting for her to get distracted, speeds past her legs and bounds inside. Like on a mission it runs straight to the roach and licks it lips after swallowing it. She follows the cat down the hallway she’s seen hundreds of times, but not in this dimension. It’s curled up already, of all places, on the bed that hasn’t been slept on for a year, on top of her husband’s pillow.

“Hey.” Every cell of her body must’ve quivered, her own tongue not recognizing the taste of her voice.

In the shower, she gags at the fumes that rise off of her. She hits her heel, feeling for the ledge while stepping in reverse, not once letting her eyes meet the mirror. Afterward, she lathers aloe all along her sides.

She switches the TV on, the last thing they were watching resumes—last year’s Olympic games—right before he left for milk and was rammed by a semi at the corner.

It hurts to exhale. “I’ll tell you all about ‘em the day I see you, hon.”

She hits pause and picks up the phone to dial Sandra.

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

We’ll be back tomorrow with another bout.  See you then.


  1. It’s an all-woman head-to-head in the ring today, Jim, with Cha-REL in the rumpled yoga pants marching up to face MujerConHistorias, who looks like she just wandered in, but is ready to fight.

    *DING* !

    Off the bell, it’s Cha-REL who sets the pace, with quick immersion into the character’s mind (not to mention her non-existant unmentionables). MujerConHistorias tiene historias, claro, y un estilo impresionante, pero empezar con el personaje principal al despertar constituye uno de los clichés más perjudiciales, que mejor vale evitar.

    Throughout the bout, MujerConHistorias pushes back, with a strong sense of the main character’s grief and fugue from reality. But it doesn’t hit home, and passing references to worldbuilding elements like “not in this dimension at least” should either be more fully-developed, if we are talking about literal dimension shifts, which would go well with the MC’s removal from reality, or else removed, if that’s not the case.

    Cha-REL swings again and again with solid internal monologue, if perhaps sometimes a bit too train-of-thought (“I warble, waving and then smacking my knuckles against the glass as I miss the door handle, and if I were more like Kristin my husband would probably still be around.” – where the hell does the husband fit into the continuation of that action?).

    Very different and yet interestingly juxtaposed styles in the ring here, sports fans! At the end of the round, it’s one point for Cha-REL!

  2. Geez... This is hard! I fully enjoyed Cha-REL and MujerConHistorias. They both held my attention and I was engaged throughout the entire storyline.

    Because I was given more of a bigger picture and the writing was incredible, my vote for today is MujerConHistorias.

  3. Both were great - I enjoyed Cha-REL for its very descriptive language. I felt like I was right there with Kate, watching this scene unfold.

  4. MujerConHistorias gets my vote.

  5. These stories spoke to me in different ways. Cha-REL was packed with moments I could relate to as a mom who never feels like she's as put together and polished as other mothers. With MujerConHistorias, we are presented a vivid portrait of grief. It's vivid and well written. There's so much hinted at here in such a brief span of words, and I wanted to learn more. MujerConHistorias gets my vote today.

  6. My vote definitely goes to MujerConHistorias. It was a more thought out progression and a better snippet of a story. It could be expanded upon or just left to stand alone. Cha-REL's had none of that.

  7. Strong contenders today going head to head. Interesting how they set such a different pace and mood, but their underlying themes come down to the same thing: their husbands are gone and they are left to cope. Wow. How to judge between the two?

    Cha-REL's self-deprecating humor pulled me in and right on through. I've not been a single mother, but I can so relate to this harried feeling and being "less than." I admire those who weave humor into the most trying times.

    MujerConHistorias broke my heart--to an extent, because I also felt distanced despite the beautiful writing. I would have liked to see one moment where she really let the reader in. And I didn't see a clear connection/reason between lying on the couch in her grief, and taking the next step to shower, etc. and call Sandra.

    My vote: Cha-REL

  8. Wow! Both of these are very well written. Descriptions are tight, action begins right away, emotions run hot in both. The only way to decide which is better is to be nit-picky. I very much want to read both of these in full.

    So, my vote is going fo Cha-REL. There seems to be more at stake in this story than just the MC. Obviously, there's a child (or children) involved, the receptionist, while only a few lines are devoted to her, is a "real" character. Cha-REL is brining to life a scene that at first seems mundane but then opens up to a world of possibilities.

    MajerConHistories also creates a beautifully dark scene with just a wee touch of hope. It's a complete story on it's own, but while I sympathized with the MC, there was nothing to connect me to her.

  9. Cha-REL:

    Breathless, fast-paced, suited her running into the school, though you’ll need to let up the pace a little soon, or it could get exhausting! The eye is drawn quickly through your extract and you’ve a nice balance of beats, dialogue and internal monologue. Wonder if there’s a better comparison for the saccharin voice, that one didn’t quite hit the mark for me.

    Well-suited to the stated genre though need to be careful not to slip into PTA cliche. Present tense works well as do the touches of humour.

    Very relatable character, though I’d like to get more of internal sensations when she’s see these people. I get her internal monologue, but some physical reactions would be nice to read.


    Reflective piece, well-written but it didn’t attract me. I had to read the first paragraph a few times to get the sense, so it might be worth making it a bit more streamlined. I’d like to see/feel more her reaction to the cat, whatever it is that makes her pick up the phone. At the moment, the two things don’t seem emotionally connected, though I think they are supposed to be. There just isn't enough connection to the character. We're on the outside, looking in, which may be thematic (no one can know what she's suffering) BUT it doesn't give you the emotional pull to read on.

    Cha-REL, as not much has happened yet but I can feel the world and other characters and would quite like to see what happens next.

  10. Vote: Cha-Rel

    Cha-Rel's piece was something I would have definitely kept reading. I get how hurried the character is and the little snippets of her backstory and her insecurities are seamless. They were a couple of run-ons and the writing could have been tighter, but overall I really enjoyed it.

    MujerConHistorias certainly had a moving concept, but I think I got lost in it. From the start, is Grief-Inspirational its own genre? I also have questions about where she has bruises. Are they bed sores? I was a little confused. I think if the cat was cut out of the scene, more room would have been left to make me connect with the character. In the end, it just didn't resonate. Having said all that, I don't think the piece is hopeless. Just because it didn't win today doesn't mean that it wouldn't have won on a different day.

  11. It's hard to pick a favorite between two entries that are so strong and so different! Cha-REL has a delightful inner voice that I can look forward to hearing more of, and a character who faces events and feelings I can completely empathize with. The people, the setting, and the events are all deftly drawn in a few words, and some of the lines are flat-out hilarious. I love Cilantro. There are a few stereotypes here that are a little cardboard (Kristin couldn't be any more flawless, and the handsome hunk on the bench is clearly going to be the romantic interest, but I can forgive these missteps.

    MujerConHistorias, on the other hand, sucks me into a vividly-drawn morass of unfathomable grief. It's painted with poetic language, so that I can feel the sores and smell the funk. There are some things that pull me out of this story, though. It's hard to see how someone who is unable to get up long enough to eat or even avoid bedsores will get up to open a door because of a tiny mewing cry. Then I don't know what tipped her over the edge to showering and calling someone, when it's been so long. I get that it's a story about how far down one can go and how, even so, it's possible to get back up. I just don't see what helped her make that change.

    I have to vote for Cha-REL.

  12. My vote has got to go with Cha-Rel, simply because Mujer's piece was just too dark.

    Both are about equally matched in the writing category, but dark needs a little light and so I'm assuming that in Mujer's piece the inspirational counter to the grief takes place after this entry.

    Cha-Rel, my critique would be to trim some of the inner dialogue so it flows better.

  13. Wow! Wow! Wow! Why do these two entries have to be in the same bout? Waaaa ...

    I know, I know, I must choose. *deep breath* Cha-REL's voice just draws me in, puts me right into this woman's head ... and day-um I love her and her view of the world. MujurCon also is amazingly talented drawing me into the incredible grief of this woman.

    Since I need to split hairs to cast my vote, MujurCon confused me with the bruises on the woman's side. I assumed they were from the same accident that killed her husband, but then find out it's been over a year. Without any explanation, it seemed an unnecessary addition to your story. For that reason alone, I cast my vote for Cha-REL.

  14. While both of the story excerpts have tension, my vote is for MujerConHistorias. Cha-REL has a few cliches that felt like I was forced to notice them, trophy wife and saccharine voice, for example. I really like the idea in MujerConHistorias that there is a point in one's life after which everything is different and it can happen suddenly.

  15. My vote is for Cha-Rel.

    Both were great, but I enjoyed the humor in Cha-rel's.
    -Jennifer Kinzler

  16. My vote goes to MujerConHistorias. Loved the writing in both, but the terrific, closely observed detail in MCH got me -- as did the character's decision at the end. Darned thing is, I almost decided to skip reading when I saw a story labeled Grief Inspirational. How about in future labeling it women's fiction or literary or anything that doesn't make a reader dread it's going to be a downer? I liked the humor of Cha-REL but it just didn't have the resonance of MCH.

  17. I enjoyed both but in the end MujerConHistorias gets my vote.

  18. Cha-REL Is not appealing to me. Just not something I can relate to.

    MujerConHistories is a study and progression on how to put things back together to make sense, While no sense often works, not everyone understands it.

    Vote for MujerConHistories.

  19. Ooh, it's neck and neck. Two very good stories with very different moods. How to compare? Congrats to both of you for these pieces.

    Cha-REL's story was fun, funny, and relatable. Pretty much hit all the right notes for a nice, witty novel opening to make me want to keep reading. i like it a lot.

    The piece by MujerConHistorias -- also very good in a totally different way. It evokes so much grief and emotion for me. I do agree that it could use a touch more to make that connection with the cat cheering her up -- let us linger on the moment of that decision/realization more. But I don't agree with those who found it distant. I was right there in it with the MC. It's the grief and subject matter that makes us, as readers, pull back, not the writing. The piece is bold and takes us into territory that's difficult for us to face.

    Since they are both well-executed, I'm going with the one who took the most risk and, for me, brought the most reward. MujerConHistorias gets my vote today.

    Good jobs to both of you! Onward, lol.

  20. We have to select only one? That's a rule? Because this here match is a tie.

    First off, remember that you're both a winner just getting to this round. I don't say that lightly. Experts in the industry picked you from the pile.

    Cha-REL, I read your entry so quick, it bounced along with a wonderful rhythm from start to finish. The only thing (and this is only because I have to find SOMETHING if I'm gonna try and help) is near the end where Kate says "Oh, she is?" It felt out of character to my ears. Which tells me two things: you developed the character really well if I can hear her speaking in 500 words. And that little passage could be improved. You make up for it with the subsequent cilantro line. Well played.

    Mujer, that was a bold story and you had me wrapped around your finger until the very end. The writing is A+. But the story fell off for me at the end. Here's why (and maybe this is just me, so make sure you get some consensus before revising): your main character has a sudden return to life at the end, but I don't get a good sense of what prompted her catharsis. Is the cat her husband? Has she entered this other dimension? You're bluntly accurate about the semi, but very vague about the protag's transformation. Maybe I missed it, but that's where it fell short for me. Sorry if I missed it. But the writing was superb.

    In the end, the endings were the only thing that swayed me to vote Cha-REL.

  21. Although I enjoyed both stories, Mujer struck me as stronger and more emotional. I loved how the presence of the cat inspires her to change her life and try to overcome her depression.

    VOTE goes to MujerConHistorias!

  22. Mujer gets my vote. I like her prose. Cha-REL...Big Little Lies, not interested.

  23. How completely unfair to make us choose one of these stories!

    Cha-REL's piece put me right in the MC's head and boy could I identify with her. I also love cilantro and tend end up in public in my slept-in yoga pants.

    Mujer's piece was a lovely, painful gut punch. Grief is the hardest thing to survive, and sometimes, just surviving gives us blisters and sores. The setting felt a bit cloudy, but that's what grief does. It clouds everything and sometimes it's a roach, a cat, or a dust covered floor that shines through the haze.

    Even as I type this, I'm having a hard time picking my favorite. They are both so damn good yet so different from each other. Gah!

    Mujer gets my vote today.

  24. I'm voting for MujerConHistorias. The attention to detail really drew me in and made a vacant state of mind engaging.

  25. Mujer gets my vote. The way the character changes is powerful. A great turn toward a new start. Cha-rel’s holds promise with great voice but the end was anticlimactic.

  26. For me this is now officially the hardest choice I have had to make yet with regard to voting. I really love both of these stories!!

    As a mom of s toddler and 10 year old I can totally relate to ChaRel! There are so many little moments that just capture perfectly the sweat pants mom experience!

    Mujer on the other hand made me feel the intense grief of losing a spouse and literally brought a tear to my eye. I felt the loss and desperation of losing someone close and the overwhelming feeling of hopelessness.
    Those who have lost someone close know the strangest and littlest things can bring you back from the brink.

    My vote is for MujerConHistorias for making me cry!

  27. Both of these were very powerful pieces. Kudos to the writers for doing an awesome job. My votes goes to Cha-REL because I've been that mom before. Thanks for sharing.

  28. I like that Cha-REL’s piece included dialogue, it helps to bring the reader in the story. However, I found difficulty in sympathizing with the main character. Honestly, she came off as a little bitter to me. I wish she would’ve done something proactive to help her heal from her situation.

    MujerConHistorias’ piece took me a little while to get into, but I could feel the main character’s anguish. I LOVED how she made the decision to take the first step towards healing and moving forward with life.

    My vote goes to MujerConHistorias.

  29. I enjoyed Cha-REL’s most, as I am able to identify with that character, and it read more like an opening to me than

    I understand grief, but I had questions. What are the sores from? For the depth of grief, it seemed a fast change for the character and hard to connect to because of this.

    My vote is for Cha-Rel.

  30. Cha-REL gets my vote today. The writing could use a bit of tightening up, and there were more than a few cliches, but it was fun enough to read. MujerConHistoras didn't really pull me in. It was well-written, but didn't do enough to establish the reader/protagonist connection for me this time.

  31. Cha-REL opening sentence paragraph was too obvious for my liking ... showing not telling. The scene with the door-grabbing knuckle-banging was a great one and told me a lot about Kate and I liked her. I was confused by the awkward end juxtaposition of Cilantro Lindsay.

    MujerConHistorias smacked me in the heart.

    My vote is for MujerConHistorias.

  32. Wow. I really liked both of these and that's saying something.

    I could feel the hurriedness in Cha-Rel. I like the character a lot until she spent in exorbitant amount of time self-judging. Yes we all have passing thoughts but after a minute we should also realize we have a life and move on. However I still like her humor. Just not sure how much whine I'll have to drink with the meal.

    At first I wasn't getting into MujerConHistorias. The writing is awesome (roaches are loud) but the story was kind of... But while some folks got confused by the bruises I became intrigued. The last part of “I’ll tell you all about ‘em the day I see you, hon.” pulled me in quick. I definitely want to know what she's up to.

    My vote is for MujerConHistorias.

  33. Such a difficult choice! Cha-REL made me laugh, MujerConHistorias brought tears to my eyes. Each story pulled me in from the very beginning and I felt like I could relate to being a harried mom running late, or someone grieving the loss of a loved one. Both writers are strong, and that’s why it’s hard to a tie allowed? No? Fine...guess my vote goes to Cha-REL but MujerConHistorias you were very, very good!

  34. ChaREL: Voicey. One quibble about the opening is that I thought these females rushing to school in the morning were both teens up until "Yale Law." A big oops that pulled this reader out of the scene. Could have been avoided by moving pt conference to the first line. I feel you then got off track and spent a lot of words describing Kristin, her husband, and the other man, when that's not really what's needed at this point. Try not to rely on tropes/stereotypes; find what makes your people real. Once you got back to the MC's interaction with the cilantro, you nailed it. Without knowing anything of MC's stakes or motivation, its hard to judge whether the story has legs, but a worthy effort.

    Mujer: This feels like your're going for a literary tone, and maybe straining a bit too hard; the piece lacks a natural flow. I could see your character's misery clearly, but didn't feel it; probably because I don't understand what's happening. Why sores? Why would she have picked out a floor she hated? Why would he tell her about the Olympics if they were watching them together? What makes this cat so powerful, to pull her out of her year-long lethargy right now? Sorry, but I just couldn't connect.

    Today's vote to Cha-REL.

  35. Cha-REL gets my vote for being vivid, real, and funny. This piece captures so much of the inner life in a fun and powerful way. I enjoyed the cilantro.

    MujerConHistorias: This is well-written, but didn't capture me. I wasn't quite clear on what was going on here at time.

  36. Cha-REL gets my vote. Some of the inner thoughts felt out of place, but was still funny.

  37. My vote goes to Cha-REL today.

    I liked Kristin’s self-deprecating humor, and the emotions evoked from her running-late-day-of-hassles. It all seemed very real and not overdone. If I had any criticism it would be the overuse of italics for emphasis – I would rather there be no italics and let the reader decide where the emphasis should be placed.

    MujerConHistorias described a compelling scene, but a few problems took me out of the moment. Writing in present tense can be tricky if not done perfectly. In this case, “made” in the second sentence is past tense, and should have been “makes”, and “retains” in the second sentence of the second paragraph should be “retaining” (or it should be a compound sentence with an “and” inserted before “the fabric.”) Mujer head-hops into the cat’s brain with “…waiting for her to get distracted…”, and I never did understand the thought, “She hits her heel, feeling for the ledge while stepping in reverse…” I did like the phrase “…her own tongue not recognizing the taste of her voice.”

  38. Enjoyed both, but I choose MujerConHistorias.

  39. I choose mujer because it was more heartfelt and original than the other. It also held my interest more.

  40. I'm not really fond of either of the genres, so I don't have any huge critiques this time. I will say Cha-REL flowed better, but MujerConHistorias felt more original, so I'll have to go with Mujer for points for originality.

  41. re: Cha-rel: OK, that bit about nipples not knowing it's impolite to point, that is BRILLIANT and hysterical and I love it. It's a fresh take on very ordinary but embarrassing moment poised in a way I've never heard before. That said, I like this scenario she's presenting here and wish the rest had the breath of uniqueness that the nipple sentence has. If this writer could go back over the rest of the language and dig for more individualized ways to describe the remaining scenario and were able to come up with similarly original turns of phrase, it would be fabulous. Too much is bordering on a cliche... e.g. can't pay attention "to save my life," and the description of not one but two of the other mothers/wives being perfect and lawyers and imagined Pilate instructors, because the protagonist thinks that they must be perfect. Well nobody is perfect and although we all have these thoughts I think nobody actually buys into that crap, and it's just not a sincere enough a stance to make me sympathetic. Even though I'm wearing yoga pants right now. And I love cilantro. But I don't know anyone who hates cilantro, so again, that falls flat-- although it comes closer to the more quirky descriptions that I feel this author probably is capable of but maybe didn't truly commit to. Dig in your heels a little deeper to find the words and differentiate your voice, my writing friend. From the sound of things, I think you can kick butt with this character if you do! I hope that doesn't sound too condescending.

    MujerConHistorias: This is a very smooth narrative. I agree that I wondered at first why it said "grief inspirational" as if it needed to get that specific, especially when we didn't get to see what the character is grieving over yet, so not really necessary and sets us up for something that doesn't turn out to be relevant to the excerpt. BUT, the writing is terrific, the pain is palpable, and the roach crawling around in the dust is beautifully vivid (if creepy-crawly). I'm not all that sure exactly what's going on in this piece... maybe it's too short a section to really get to the bottom of and that's OK. I assumed maybe she was a victim of abuse at first, or a kidnap victim, but then started leaning more toward victim of some kind of accident that maybe took her husband... I wish I knew. I want to know more. I think this piece is more commanding of our attention than the other. The stakes are higher and I feel more empathy for this injured, suffering person than for the character who is lamenting the fact that everyone but her seems to go to the gym, you know? Even if I personally relate more to gym-envy girl.

    Vote for MujerConHistorias.

  42. Cha-REL: I really connected with Kate. By the end of the first paragraph I feel like I already know her, which makes relating to her journey very easy. I also thought you did a very good job of dropping us right into her universe.

    Mujer: I'm a sucker for a good tragedy. You have great descriptions and the piece moves slowly just like it is supposed to. But I don't really understand why she decides to call Sandra. Is it because the cat reminded her of her and today's just the day? I didn't see an internal change in the MC which left me confused.

    Vote: Cha-REL

  43. This has to be the closest one yet! Cha-rel was hilarious, petty as all hell, and I LOVED IT. It reminded me of Big Little Lies and the tone was perfect.

    MujerConHistorias wrote something that broke my heart and made me almost physically ache with the protagonist. I loved the through line with Sandra and the slow reveal of the husband's death.

    I vote for Cha-rel because I had more fun reading it, but this was a close one.

  44. This is a close one for me. The deciding factor for this round is mostly genre preference.
    My vote goes to Char Rel.
    I really liked the way the MujerconHIstorias wove their story and it was simple and stylized and just tore at your heart and made you want to know what happens next.
    Cha Rel's story had a very good tone and voice, and was very consistent through the story. And the story told a lot without telling it all, and that was very satisfying for me.

  45. These were both great pieces. Good job. My vote is going to go to Cha-Rel because I connected with it a little more.

    Melissa Herman

  46. At first I figured the humor in the first one was going to win me.
    But then I reread the second one and my mind was blown a bit. It's too bad a lot of people seemed to miss the point of this person who has been down(like enough to be mostly laying it seems)and how they finally start to turn around. Kudos for the gut wrenching flip to uplifting!
    Vote- MujerConHistorias

  47. Cha-REL: Good job getting me to empathize with the character. MujerConHistorias: Could sense the depression.

    Vote for Cha-REL.

  48. Going to cast my vote for cha-REL for a very relatable character and situation. One tiny thing that bothered me slightly was the overuse of italics. It’s mostly a stylistic thing that I found a little distracting, though if you’ve ever read the Anne of Green Gables series, you’ll know you are in excellent company!

  49. My vote goes to Cha-REL.
    I like how Cha-REL gives us an idea of her situation, and wraps up with why she was in such a hurry. I also like how she compared people with food, it gave it interesting similes. I did think it suffered a bit from TMI, but found the premise a nice opening look into an everyday story.
    MujerConHistorias: Great job on making me depressed (I mean that in a good way!). The descriptions really pulled me into the scene. I felt a little lost by the end when there was still little backstory to give me an idea of the larger narrative, but with just a few more words (why must we stop at 500??) I think you could have really pulled it off.
    Congratulations to both for making it into the top 30!

  50. Cha-REL ... Really fun read. You have my vote.

    MujerConHistorias ... Your story was also good. I just couldn't get into it.

  51. My vote is for MujerConHistorias. Her story really brought me into her world. The imagery and description were great, and the storyline was one that I wanted to continue reading and see what happens next.




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