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WRiTE CLUB 2018 - Bout #13

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.

We're nearing the end of the first-round bouts of WRiTE CLUB and you can feel the anxiety climbing. Who will make it into the ring? Who will make it to the next round? Too many questions...let's get some answers. Here's bout #13.

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 Tuesday, May 8th (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 PokeyDoo representing the Short Story genre.

With his empty hand, he stroked the book in his lap.  “The binding is distinctive.  I’ve never seen anything like it.  What is it?”
She lifted her cup and stared at him over the rim. 
“That one?  It’s made of Father de Silva’s skin.”
He blinked.
His cup slipped out of his hand, bounced off the book in his lap, and thudded to the floor.
Bile rose to his throat.  He shoved the tome out of his lap, jumped to his feet, and whirled around to stare at the rows and rows of books.
Thick and thin, tall and short, all with a myriad of bindings.  Rich mahogany, buttery yellow, and every color in between.
A rushing sound filled his ears.  He bolted toward the exit.
At the doorway his knees buckled and he fell.
He tried to get back to his feet but his legs were strangely too heavy and would not work right.
“What is this?  What have you done?” he cried.  On his elbows, he pulled himself partway into the hallway.
Madame Livreaux calmly put a foot on his back and pushed him down.  Its simple weight pinned him like he was a feeble, old man.
“I know why you’re in New Orleans,” she said.
“What are you doing?  What is happening?”  He tried to roll away but now he could barely move his body.
“I won’t let you and your Inquisition destroy my library,” she said.  “All my life’s work is in this room.”
A low growl started deep in his throat.  “May God damn you to eternal hell!” he snarled.  But now his tongue was thick and the words came out like garbled grunts.
She knelt down and cocked her head.  “Why Father, it sounds like you’re trying to condemn me.”  A faint smile played across her lips.  “Father de Silva said the same thing.”
She caressed the side of his face.  “You have such lovely skin.  It’s so white.  I knew I wanted it the day we met in the Plaza.”
She dragged his helpless body back into the room.
His eye caught sight of Poisonous Plants lying on the floor next to the teacup.  His bowels loosened.
“We each have our work, Father,” she said retrieving the knife from the table and holding it up.  Firelight gleamed on the blade.  “You say you’re in the business of saving souls.  I’m in the business of saving knowledge.” 
She cut through his clothes to bare his back.  With a feather-light touch, she stroked the length and width of it the same way she earlier caressed her books. 
Mon Dieu,” she sighed.  “More beautiful than I imagined.  Unblemished.  Pure.  Perfect.”
With all his strength, Father Argi again tried to put his hands underneath him to get away.  No part of his body would move.
The blade flashed in the corner of his eye.
A long scream echoed through his mind as the knife sliced deep.

And in the near corner, we have ApoCalypso representing the Science Fiction genre.

There’s blood everywhere. Who knew a human skull could hold so much of the stuff, when it has to share space with a brain and bones and Mama’s beautiful, dark hair, so thick Kaia used to try to climb it as a child? Who knew.
“What have you done?” she asks her father, who sits, frozen, in his favorite lounger.
His lips tremble, but he doesn’t speak.
“Answer me.”
Something shifts in her timbre, a click she can sense but not hear, and her father’s eyes get the distant look that the Headmaster had told her to watch for.
“We had an argument. I pushed her and she fell and hit her head on the mantle.”
“Tell me the truth,” Kaia says, emphasizing each word.
“That is the truth,” her father replies. He doesn’t sound scared.
He should be scared.
“Why didn’t you call for help? Tell the truth.”
“Because I was worried that they would think I did it on purpose. I don’t want to go to prison.” His response is immediate, without emotion, without defense.
“So it was better to let your wife die?”
“Look at me.”
He does. His gaze somehow sees her but doesn’t. He’s not responding to her; rather, he’s responding to her words, and the power they carry.
A power, so hard-won, that she will use only for good.
“Are you afraid of me?” she asks.
“Why not?”
“Because you’re afraid of me.”
No menace in his words. Only belief.
“Do I look afraid?”
Good answer. But not good enough.
“Stand up,” she says.
He does.
“Do you know how to swim?”
“Good. I want you to walk out this door and go to the lake. I want you to walk into the lake.”
He blinks and his face loses some of its color. “But... I’ll drown.”
“Yes, you will.”
For one long, silent moment, it seems like he will refuse, and then Kaia will have to kill him the old-fashioned way and risk expulsion from the Academy. But then he nods and goes to the back door and starts walking towards the shore, shimmering beneath the rain clouds.
Kaia watches him grow smaller and smaller and when the water reaches his knees, she turns away and collapses into his chair, still warm. Her mother’s blood is growing tacky on the floor.
“Perdóname, Mama. I should have been here to protect you.”
Mama doesn’t respond, which, all things considered, is for the best. They can sit together in silence for as long as they need.
When the sun goes down some time later, Kaia leaves her Mama’s house for the last time and returns to the Academy.

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. ApoCalypso gets my vote for its clarity.

  2. Wow. That's tough. I'm going with PokeyDoo.

  3. To quote the Bards : If you want blood, you got it here in the ring tonight, sports fans !

    PokeyDoo’s enters the ring in a literally skin-tight jacket and leggings, and advances to meet ApoCalypso, in the blood-spattered Academy uniform. They’ve both got that wild look in their eyes, Jim — the one that tells you someone isn’t making it out of this bout with all their bits intact.

    *DING* !

    It’s ApoCalypso who takes the early lead in aggression, drawing blood from PokeyDoo with a straight jab to the nose before the bell has even finished ringing. PokeyDoo growls and flies into a rage, landing swing after swing against ApoCalypso’s guard, until their arms are raw and gashed.

    ApoCalypso’s next swings fall short of the initial aggression (“Mama’s beautiful hair” was inside her skull?), leaving PokeyDoo plenty of room to set up her own tense, terrifying pace. Sure, I could point out the name “Madame ‘Livre’-aux” is a bit too on-the-nose for a book-obsessed skin flayer, but all in all it’s an excellently-executed routine.

    Faced with the onslaught, PokeyDoo’s offense seems to falter — I would have loved to feel more tension, more conflict between the MC’s conviction to use her unspecified powers only for good, and her decision to use them to kill her father. Instead, she kills him with a dispassionate ease which seems directly contradictory with what little we learn of the character’s personality in the story.

    When the referee pulls these two apart and the dust settles over a blood-stained ring, it’s one point for PokeyDoo!

  4. PokeyDoo and ApoCalypso were both gory stories but I loved it! I feel as if there are many unanswered questions with ApoCalypso but just interesting mystery with PokeyDoo.

    For today, my vote is PokeyDoo.

  5. My vote is for PokeyDoo. Poor unsuspecting Fathers. Makes me queasy just thinking about that library.

  6. Again today--because both pieces are so well written--I am splitting hairs to cast my vote. Though I'm sure the "science fiction" aspect of ApoCalypso's writing would be evident, I didn't get a true sense of it in this short piece. PokeyDoo, on the other hand, unravelled the story one glorious hint at a time ... my vote goes to PokeyDoo.

  7. This time I feel like the two contestants are playing on the same field, more than in previous bouts where they are so mismatched it's hard to compare them. That said, it's still a tough decision. They both have strengths and both have flaws.

    PokeyDoo: A story with an implacable foe, building step-by-step to a gruesome conclusion. My only issue with this one was that it seemed to have only one note. I realized early on what was happening, and then the rest was just plying out the inevitable. The tension was strong and well-developed, but I would have liked more about Madame Livreaux's motivations. She says she is saving knowledge, but billions of us save knowledge every day without skinning our enemies. Why does she need to save it this way?

    ApoCalypso: I love that the supernatural nature of Kaia's ability is shown in the events without ever being described. I'm intrigued, and want to know more about what she can do, how these abilities came about, and how they shape her personality and her actions. What I have trouble with are some unanswered questions that pull me out of the story, not in. What was happening before these events? We seem to see the moment when Kaia's powers are activated, but her father was already sitting motionless. Did he murder her mother, or just sit and let her bleed to death? Why? Then after he's walked off to drown, why did Kaia not call the authorities herself? The story also stumbled right from the first lines, because the blood comes, of course, from the whole body, not just the skull, and it wouldn't be sharing space with the mother's hair in any case. And, just to be picky, the skull doesn't have to share space with bones; it IS the bone that contains everything else.

    This is a really tough choice, and I'm sitting here re-reading my comments to try and make up my mind. Okay, I'll vote for -- ApoCalypso.

  8. Ohhhhh this was a tough one!! Both so good...

    I’m giving the vote to PokeyDoo...I loved the tension in this piece, and I could see it as the beginning to a wonderful suspense/psychological thriller. My only critique is to watch for a potential head-hopping feeling when it says she calmly puts her foot on his back—if we are in the priest’s POV tell us how the foot feels on his back instead of her emotion. Very picky, because everything else was stellar.

    But ApoCalypso, I also loved your piece. The only critiques I can give are very picky: shimmering under rain clouds to describe the shore pulled me out a bit, and the filtering in “Kaia watches him grow smaller and smaller” instead of “He grows smaller and smaller.” Well done!

  9. PokeyDoo gets my vote for today and maybe all 13 bouts thus far. Pure perfection for this horror fan.
    ApoCalypso should be proud as the writing is strong. Just a tough match.

  10. Two amazing pieces of writing today. I really enjoyed both of them. Although, ApoCalypso's dialogue seemed a little forced, so my vote goes to PokeyDoo.

  11. Both were equally matched, but something about the PookeyDoo's story seemed cliche. Also, how can a knife flash in the corner of his eyes if the killer is on his back? And if she is so focused on the beauty of his skin, why would she risk skinning him before the poison takes him?

    I was unclear how old Kaia was in ApoCAlypso's piece, but she seems to be either an older teen or a young adult. She just seems too confident and strong in the face of her mother's murder to be much younger than an older teen. That made it difficult to paint a good picture of Kaia, but it didn't stop me from enjoying the story. I do wonder what will happen to Kaia's mother's body, though. Is Kaia really just going to leave it there?

    This was a tough one to call, but I'm going with ApoCalypso today. Good job, writers!

  12. ApoCalypso builds good tension. Using her "power" without description works well here, since too much would have distracted. Wish I had a better sense of the MC's moral compass. She appears to know what she's doing is wrong, but feels nothing about doing it. That could be a good thing in building the MC, but there's just not enough here to tell.

    PokeyDoo builds tension right from the start, and right from the start, I know he's going to be the next book cover. That's ok. Mme Livreaux is someone I want to know more about. I would prefer it if the description of the library were better described (and grammatically correct), but the overall sample worked for me.

    PokeyDoo gets my vote.

    P.S. It was good to finally see to stories with such similar genres together. Made voting tougher. Like having to thing hard about it.

  13. Pokey doo: this is well written and held my interest. I can see the full stories potential. :) I’m curious to know who the protagonist is. I initially clicked with the father since I was seeing through his eyes. But then he dies. (I assume.) If this is the opening few words of your novel, I’d like to be bonded to the person I’ll be following through the rest of the story. I’m assuming I’ll be following Madam Livreoux from this point forward. If somehow he doesn’t die, then ignore this critique. :)

    ApoCalypso: I understood what was happing, but I didn’t know how to feel about it because Kaia didn’t seem to feel anything. Even if this is a world where she is desensitized to death, she’d feel something for her mother. And if she’s even passed feeling that, the lack-of-feeling should be noted.

    My vote goes to Pokey Doo

  14. Both are very intriguing stories!

    In PokeyDoo's story, the revelation of the true intentions of Madam Livreoux was a great twist that definitely pulled me in. I would love to see more of Madam and figure out what drives her. The one issue I had when reading this story was the descriptions read pretty staccato. Some sentence variety would easily help that, especially when describing the main character's feelings.

    ApoCalypso's story left so many questions! What is this character's power? What kind of Academy? How can she be so emotionless when it comes to finding her mother dead and then basically killing her father? I didn't mind the lack of feeling as much as others did. It just made me more curious as to what was going on and who she is as a person.

    ApoCalypso has my vote today, but it was definitely a hard decision!

  15. Tough choice! So equally matched! I’d love to read both of these books.

    Since I have to pick one my vote goes to Alpocalypso simply because I have not seen this story plot before.

    That said I found both pieces to be perfect 👌!

  16. Two studies of the macabre. I love it, and congrats to both of you.

    I agree with everything that Celia Reaves had to say, and she's so articulate about it that I won't go back over that territory. Though I think that ApoCalypso (great pen name, BTW) needs a bit more fleshing out of character, I kind of love it that her emotions were enigmatic. Her love for her mother shows clearly to me. Sometimes when faced with horror, we can't take it all in and go numb. Though Pokey Doo was very well executed, it's a little cliche and not so much my cup of tea. ApoCalypso, on the other hand, promises a unique premise that interests me more. Great job to both of you though.

    Today, my vote goes to ApoCalypso.

  17. Both of these stories were very entertaining and fin to read. My vote goes to PokeyDoo because I loved the tone of the story. Great job to both writers.

  18. Wow! Great stories from both - this is a difficult choice! My vote goes to ApoCalypso.

  19. Tough choice. Both are very well written, with intriguing characters.

    PokeyDoo: I loved how you matched The Father's out of control fear with Madam's cold dispassion. The scene is a little cliche, but I loved it. There was a lot of character building, and a great intro to the overall story plot. The situation seems like Madam is quite the villain, but who knows how this plot will go. I love misunderstood bad girls. Well done.

    ApoCalypso: I like how robotic her truth spell(?) made her father. In a very short space, you captured the relationship between all three, set your world in the paranormal, and gave some intriguing bits of character development. Well done on getting the reader hooked.

    My vote is going to PokeyDoo. I love me some good villain :)

  20. Oh, gosh! Tough, tough choices. I had to read them both twice to decide.

    PokeyDoo: Though a bit cliched, I still loved the tone and tension throughout. The only thing I didn't like (that no one has mentioned) is the Father's dialogue. Not wanting to sound harsh with my critique, I have to point out how stilted and predictable it came across for me. Almost cartoonish. Otherwise, the descriptions were great and I kept hoping against hope ... but, alas. One more for the books. (So sorry. Couldn't resist.)

    ApoCalypso: A worthy opponent overall, but that beginning description as someone else pointed out ... the skull IS the bone that contains everything else with the hair outside. Yet I charged on. After reading the entry a second time, I appreciated it much more for the nuance and the SciFi aspect. But I shouldn't need to read it a second time to get that. Perhaps less nuance and more solidity would help? But you packed a lot into 500 words.

    Change the Father's dialogue, PokeyDoo, and you've got a solid winner. Right now, you've got my vote.

  21. UGH. Why do you do this to me? They are both SO GOOD. Vote goes to ApoCalypso.

  22. POKEYDOO felt a bit stronger and more complete. With APOCALYPSO, too many questions were raised and the ending felt a bit unsatisfactory. With a few more hints to the daughter's powers, I might have gone with that one instead.


  23. Both great entries. My vote goes for PokeyDoo.

  24. PokeyDoo for me. The story is chilling without extra fluff. The story reads more immediate.

    I wasn’t nuts about the summary at the end of Apocalypso. It was’t enough for me.

    Vote for PokeyDoo.

  25. Both rather dark pieces today.

    PokeyDoo is a familiar scene, unfolding in a manner that feels right for the genre and effectively creates a creepy atmosphere.

    Apocalypso reads like a novel excerpt that hasn't been adapted to the 500 word format, leaving this reader with too many unanswered questions. The Headmaster? The Academy? Kaia's power? I don't have a clue what's at stake or why - or even IF I should cheer for Kaia.

    PokeyDoo gets my vote.

  26. PokeyDoo - utterly horrific premise, good story. Killing for skin...too creepy.

    ApoCalypso - I liked the moral theme and I'm curious about Kaia's power and the Academy.

    ApoCalypso for the win today.

  27. PokeyDoo vs. ApoCalypso both interesting twists and turns. Not a science fiction fan, it was surprising that I went back to ApoCalypso to read, multiple times.

    ApoCalypso gets my vote.

  28. I'll cast my vote for Pokeydoo.

    I enjoyed the story of the Madame killing the priests, but I had two major flaws (which could be addressed in the rest of the story if there's more). First, we're given the key to the story almost at the beginning when she reveals the book cover is made of another priest's skin. At the same time, the new priest is poisoned. I'd rather not be told so explicitly that it was the skin. Second, I don't understand why this is her preferred method to "save knowledge." That said, the writing was crisp and well done.

    ApoCalypso, I had some trouble with the premise of your story. Again, maybe it will be explained in a different part, but it seems implausible that you come upon your father after killing your mother and this scene occurs. Maybe it's out of context for us in these 500 words, but when there are characters who do the opposite of what you'd expect, I'm fine with it as long as it's explained. My bigger issue, however, is we as the reader don't get any sense why this alleged murder has occurred. I'm assuming Dad did Mom in. If not, then I'm more confused why she uses her super powers to drown Dad in the lake. You have some solid writing, and perhaps the constraints of the contest were too limiting for this piece, but you have plenty of good stuff to create a great story. Thanks for sharing it.

  29. Vote: Pokeydoo

    Pokeydoo's piece is not at all my taste and I have several unanswered questions. But the writing itself was tight and the fact that it creeped me out meant something about it resonated.

    ApoCalypso's main character seems like an anti-hero, perhaps? Because someone who would kill her own father so casually isn't the easiest character to connect to. Maybe this is a villain. I don't know. And that's part of the problem. There is good structure to the scene, but I can't connect with it.

  30. For this round, my vote goes to Pokeydoo. I'm curious to know what's written in these macabre tomes, and I suspect that's where the story could fall apart, but I like the concept even though it's pretty gruesome. I'd like to know who the hero or heroine is who stops this evil doer in her tracks. The piece is a bit clunky, but that can be worked out with some editing.

    I just can't connect with ApoCalypso's piece. There are some dialogue issues and word choices that I find distracting. Though there are aspects I'm curious about, there are just too many unanswered questions and the MC's lack of emotion makes it hard to feel anything for either character or the dead mother.

  31. I love the idea of ApoCalypso but couldn't get into it. PokeyDoo was good. I liked the take on telling history from a different POV: the people being hunted down/converted/killed for not being good little Christians. Watching one be just as much a huntress as they were. I'd check it out assuming of course someone gets the jump on the main character by the end. (LOL. yes I'm one of those people who read the last chapter before deciding to read the book) :D

    My vote is for PokeyDoo.

  32. ApoCalypso: A strong piece. (I voted your other entry a bit higher, FWIW - a matter of taste.) Good job giving us some details in dialogue; perhaps one or two more tags would be helpful with the quick back-and-forth. Needs a polish and a bit of tightening (I first thought Kaia was a younger sibling) and it would have been stronger without the last paragraph. Be careful not to make your MC too cold. We don't know anything of motivation or stakes here, so her detachment could be off-putting.

    PokeyDoo: Very creepy, very gruesome. You've nailed the mood and the tension here, but to make this horror piece stand out you need to tighten up, cut the cliches, and watch for re-used phrases (In first 7 lines you have ...on his lap, ...on his lap, of his lap) Make your words do double- or triple-duty, especially when word count is limited. And try to vary sentence structure (She knelt... She dragged... She caressed... She cut....)In this instance the repetition lacks the rhythmic effect I think you were hoping for.

    Today's vote to ApoCalypso.

  33. I loved both of these! That said, PokeyDoo's was a little easier for me to digest. And I felt the suspense until the end as I thought maybe the Father would find a way to get away at the end. I imagined this takes place in the 14-16th centuries, so I got an immediate sense of the world.

    ApoCalypso's was very somber, very straightforward. You get an immediate sense of Kaia and what she is up against. And while I really enjoyed it, it just didn't pull me in as much as I would have liked.

    My vote goes to PokeyDoo.

  34. PokeyDoo gets my vote. The story is tight, complete, well-written, and intriguing.

    ApoCalyspo: This was less tightly written and left several unanswered questions.

  35. Vote goes to PokeyDoo

    PokeyDoo: Some of you descriptions felt clunky in places--specifically, I felt you could have showed more. Also make sure you don't separate your ideas by making so many paragraph breaks. That being said, I loved the hook you had there. Wow. And the way I was sucked into the story without any context says something. Good job.

    ApoCalypso: Never really got a sense for where I was at. You told me how the characters were feeling in a stream of consciousness fashion, but I think your work would improve a lot if you utilized character actions to show their feelings while showing us the surrounding.

  36. My vote goes to PokeyDoo.

    Creepy, but extremely well written. My only critique would be that "hell" should be capitalized, as in this instance it is used as the name of a place.

    ApoCalypso's piece was also extremely well-written, but a couple of things threw my off. The phrase, "...better to let your wife die?" seemed wrong in context. I would think the daughter when talking to her father would refer to her mother as "Mama" as she did later on. Also, the MC referring to using her power "only for good" seemed off, when she was using it to force her father to commit suicide in some sort of vigilante action.

  37. Oh be still my heart! I loved the first few lines of both of these. PokeyDoo reminds me of something by Clive Barker, and felt more finished, so I'm going to go with Pokey.

    ApoCalypso did a great job, however. It was a really close call, I just connected with the first one more.

  38. PokeyDoo -
    Like the concept, the villain here is nicely cold, and I felt we knew more about her in a way, than the Priest. I did feel that we should have had more internal/emotional feeling from the Priest, I couldn't feel his fear. I also felt that the action descriptions had too many movements in them, which actually slowed down the action. It takes so long to read through the different actions stages, that the whole sequence feels less immediate.

    I liked the pacing and the feel of the writing, it drew me in. There's not much about this apparently very cool and collected child, but I want very much to find out more about her, her power, the right ways to die etc.

    Overall: ApoCalypso gets my vote.

  39. Pokey Doo has some great gothic set up but ApoCalypso leaves me wanting more.

    My vote is for ApoCalypso.

    -SP Hofrichter

  40. Both stories have plenty of entertaining gore. However, Pokey Doo reminds me too much of the Jame Gumb character in Silence of the Lambs. I couldn't believe Kaia's power in Apo Calypso. I didn't feel real urgency. My vote goes for Apo Calypso.

  41. Ewwww. Also great work!

    Pokey Doo's story had me shocked with its twists and turns. I immediately understood the stakes and could picture the characters and the scenario.

    ApoCalypso's took a second read for me to fully understand what was going on (which is on me rather than the writing). I am left wondering about the character's motivations and the nature Kaia's abilities. I'd be more likely to want to read the novel length version of ApoCalyso's story but I think PokeyDoo's worked better in this short format.

    My vote goes to Pokey Doo.

  42. Pokeydoo gets my vote today. I got a much better sense of character in his/her entry than I did ApoCalyso's.

  43. My vote goes to Apocalypso.
    I enjoyed both of these.
    Apocalypso felt stylized and removed, and I want to know more about the world.
    For Pokey Doo, the story is woven and well told, but I'm not left with intrigue or questions about what happens next.

  44. These entries were great! Pokey Doo, um, you kind of made me throw up a little in my mouth (which is a good thing given the genre...LOL). With a story set in New Orleans, I would like a little more New Orleans flavor to the setting.

    Apocalypso...I thought your writing was possibly stronger...but I don't get a sense of Science Fiction.

    My vote is going to go to Pokey Doo. But this one is tough for me.

  45. These were evenly matched for me. I vote PokeyDoo because books made out of people really scare and intrigue me.

  46. Wow, both stories gave me chills...going to go with PokeyDoo for an interesting historical setting. Thanks to both authors for sharing their work!

  47. PokeyDoo: Interesting scene. ApoCalypso: Interesting world.

    Vote for PokeyDoo

  48. My vote goes to PokeyDoo.
    Both stories gave me chills - in a good way. I think the deciding factor was feeling a disconnect with Kaia because I haven’t quite connected with her enough to understand why she would kill her father instead of calling for/involving the police. (I think this is entirely an issue of too short a selection!). I was extremely intrigued by the description of her power, and would love to see more. And if we were voting on pen names alone, that one would rocket you to first place in my book!
    PokeyDoo had a lot going on, revelations in small pieces. It does leave you with some interesting questions-what does skin have to do with knowledge? Interesting concept.
    Congratulations to both writers for making the top 30!

  49. PokeyDoo ... Very dark. Nice job. You have my vote.

    ApoCalypso... It's an interesting story. I like the main character, the power. It's the story tense that threw me, personally.

  50. PokeyDoo... such a silly sounding username for such a serious and horrifying passage! Scary, bizarre, artfully written, hardly a moment's distraction. Maybe the use of "tome," in an effort to avoid having to say "book" too many times. Sounds forced. But that's it--can't find much else to advise! A big EEWWWW and the sound of my skin crawling. Bravo!

    ApoCalypso. Oy-- you're killing me with all this revulsion and visceral gore. This is another well written piece, with good shock value. It's a little less tight than the competing piece, though, and isn't as nicely self-contained. I'm wondering how Kaia was able to convince her father to go drown himself. Is there some mystical power involved here? If so, it was applied in far too ordinary a manner. I'd at least expect to see some greater resistance on the part of the father. He should know he's being manipulated into killing himself--it would heighten the drama and give the reader a better sense of the dynamic force that this character exerts over others.

    Vote is for PokeyDoo. But please find a nickname that better reflects your skill level and content in the future-- LOL!




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