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WRiTE CLUB 2021 - Preliminary Bout #10


Here is the final bout of the week.  We will take a break next week as I'm certain everyone will be distracted preparing for the holidays. We will return on Dec 27th with the last five preliminary bouts. Here is what the upcoming schedule will look like.

Remember, the voting for each bout remains open for an entire week, so if you missed one or two you can always go back and catch up.

Here's a reminder of what is happening. WRiTE CLUB (sponsored by Wild Lark Books) is a tournament-style contest that will run for nine weeks (which includes a week break for the holidays). It provides writers the opportunity to compete against one another for a chance to win a free publication package (along with other prizes). Here’s the kicker—it’s all done anonymously. Writers have submitted 500-word writing samples under pen names. The chosen (decided by a group of twelve slush pile readers) are paired off to go head-to-head in daily “bouts”, with the winner of each match determined by you the reader—by voting for your favorites. Bout winners keep advancing until there are only two remaining and that’s when a panel of celebrity judges, who include well know authors, agents, editors, and other publishing folks, choose the ultimate champion.

Anyone can vote (as long as you have a Google sign-in or verifiable email address), and when you do, we encourage you to leave a mini-critique for both writers. Oh, the voters can win a $50 Wild Lark Books gift card. Each time you vote in a bout your name will be placed into a hat and at the end of the contest, one name will be selected to receive the prize.

How this works—two anonymous (pen name only) writing samples are waiting in the ring below. Visitors to this blog (that’s you) should read both entries and then vote by leaving a comment for the one that resonates with you the most. We also 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 I post it to give as many people as possible to have a say. Voting for today’s bout will close on Thur, Dec 23rd (noon central time). To help keep up with which bouts are open, you can follow along on the WRiTE CLUB Scoreboard updated right HERE.

It’s that simple. The writing piece that garnishes the most votes will move on to the next round where they’ll face a different opponent. 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).

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

That’s enough of the fine print…here we go!

On one side of the ring stands Vaxxxy representing the Political Fiction genre.

I drop the basket on my brother's bed and happy dance as I wait. There's a flush and the sink running before he saunters in.

"You're in my room?"

I hold up his card. "You're vaccinated! We can hug!"

I throw my arms wide, bouncing on the balls of my feet, my skin flushed from the joy radiating through me. "Hug me! You have no idea how much this means to me."

He storms to his window.

"Get out and never touch my stuff again." He opens it so fast the panes shake.

"What?" I wrap my arms around myself. The windows aren't alone in shaking.

He leans on the sill, hanging his upper body outside. "I'm not vaccinated. Put it down and get out."

"But," I look at the card, "it says you are. Why would you hide this from me?"

"I'm not vaccinated! That thing was expensive. Put it down and get out. I can't even take a crap around here. You needed the dryer that bad? You couldn't just wait five minutes for me to finish using the toilet?"

He beats his fist against the sill. "What possessed you to go through my wallet? Hard up for cash? Take the money, leave the card, and get out."

Tears burn my cheeks. "I don't understand."

"It's a fake. I needed it to get into places, like that concert, okay? This is the real world."

My legs give out. I collapse on the floor at the foot of his bed. The card escapes my hand, drifting away to the unfolded laundry. "But that's not right."

"Didn't ask your opinion." He thumbs his phone.

"People there believed you're vaccinated. That it was safe to breathe around you."

He shrugs. "I don't have a fever. That vaccine is a lie. I'm not putting that stuff in my body. They think they can take my choice away, force my obedience, by carding me? Screw that. I'll drink if I want. I'll smoke if I want, and I'll attend a concert if I want."

My heart breaks more with each beat. "It isn't like a fake ID. You're endangering others. People believe they're safe. What if it were me? What if I were there?"

"Yeah, right," he rolls his eyes and laughs sarcastically. "You don't go anywhere. You don't live life. Don't get me wrong, I'm glad you're a survivor. But for what? This house isn't the world. I can't be like you. I want experiences. And some dumb rule isn't going to stop me."

I bite the edge of his blanket as I scream. I press my legs together as tight as they'll go, but a little urine escapes anyway. Everything goes dark.

Cool hands are on my arms.

"Get away," I plead. "You aren't vaccinated"

"It's me. Your brother texted. Come on, let's go to your room."

I collapse against my best friend. 


On the far side of the ring, we have DoNotAwoo who represents the Paranormal/Urban Fantasy genre.

She kept her nose low to the ground, heart racing as the sharp, acrid odor of blood grew stronger despite the rancid stink of the alleyway garbage. Music pulsed and thumped from one of the buildings that surrounded her like ignorant sentinels, the sound bounding off of garbage cans and scattered refuse before leaping up and worming its way into her ears, disorienting her as panic gripped her throat.

Carly let out a low huff, closing her eyes as she let her nose guide her, shutting everything else out as she placed one foot in front of the other—only to pause when the scent of death pressed the faintest kiss upon her muzzle, like a whisper of forgotten memory. She opened her eyes and immediately flattened her ears, letting out a low whine.

A woman lay face-down in the alleyway, limbs splayed at awkward angles across a pile of seeping garbage, its foul puddles mingling with the drip-drop of slowly congealing blood. Carly backed away, her hackles rising; this was bad. If anyone saw a werewolf alone in a dark alley with a dead body... But what if she was still alive? What if she needed help? Or, worse: what if her killer was still nearby, just waiting to pounce? She grit her teeth, lips pulling to one side in an oddly human grimace.

“Oh, man,” she muttered, slowly stepping closer and reaching one forepaw out to delicately touch the body. “Miss?”

It was cold. Oh, God, it was cold! She shuddered all over, shaking herself like some common dog as she stifled a gag.

“Aw, shit.”

Carly blinked, freezing in place. That was not her voice.

“They actually killed me. Un-freaking-believable.”

She turned, looking over her shoulder and stifling a very undignified squeal of terror. A pale, half-translucent figure stood over the corpse, hands on her hips and annoyed expression written across her freckled face despite the blood that spattered her torso. Red hair cascaded down her shoulders, as frizzy and out-of-control as the body that lay sprawled in the garbage.

The woman lifted her head to look at Carly and quirked an eyebrow, then let out a low groan as her shoulders slumped.

“A werewolf? Oh, just perfect. That is absolutely not what I needed today,” the ghost grumbled, shaking her fist at Carly. “Go on! Get! Don’t you nibble at my innards, you rotten scavenger!”

Carly blinked, shaking herself off again and forcibly un-tucking her tail as she straightened up.

“I wasn’t going to, uh... You’re...”

“Dead? A ghost? Yeah, thanks, genius. Wait—you’re the first one that found me, right? And you touched me?”

“Um. Yes?”

The ghost let out a stream of curses, half of which Carly was sure she had invented on the spot. She then kicked at her own body, only to let out a half-strangled scream of frustration when her foot simply phased through the corpse.

“All right, wolfy, ears up. We’ve got a lot to do.”


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

Before we sign off, I wanted to address the issue a few readers are having with not being able to post comments, or having those comments show up as UNKNOWN even though they have a Google Account.  There are several things at play here. First, if you are using the Safari or Chrome browsers they have a known problem with Blogger and you have two choices. Switch to Firefox as a browser (I've never had a problem using it), or change the setting on Safari as illustrated below.

The other problem is Blogger not recognizing you when adding a comment and therefore designating you as UNKNOWN. This could happen if the reader is a Blogger user themselves and they have not changed their settings since Google + went away.  To do this, follow these steps:

Go to Blogger dashboard.
Set User Profile = Blogger (instead of Google +)

Hopefully, that will resolve everyone's issues and let the votes/comments reach our contestants.

I want to take an opportunity to thank all those folks who have contributed towards WRiTE CLUB.
This has become necessary to keep this contest going AND GROWING. So, if you can, please consider donating to the cause on my Ko-fi account. Let me assure you, 100% of the donations will go towards the contest prizes for this year and next!

We’ll be back on Jan 2nd. Please take the time during this break to help all our writers out by telling everyone you know what is happening here and encouraging them to come vote.


  1. My vote is for DoNotAwoo.

    Vaxxy: This didn't work for me. First, I don't want to read about an argument/discussion that is so common today, unless there is some new or fresh perspective or if the argument is used to establish characters and story line. In this piece, I couldn't discern the point of re-visiting this conflict, so it just annoyed me more than anything (annoying a reader is not the best approach). Maybe a bit more focus on why you as a writer are engaging your characters in this way and what you want me as a reader to understand from this could give more purpose to this piece. Also, the interaction between the characters didn't ring true to me. The main character seems overblown with emotional reactions (too excited about the hug, the screaming, the involuntary urination, the passing out). The brother is also pounding his fists and violently opening the window--clearly he's angry but then he's not actually looking at his sibling if he's leaning out the window, so is he disengaged from this conversation? Maybe there's a point to that, but I missed it; the interaction felt false and forced to me. I was confused by the ending of the piece; it made no sense to me--why is the best friend there and what's the texting about and why the cold hands? The writing is solid, with no obvious errors--you clearly have the ability to use words and create scenes. In dialogue, it's okay to use the word "said." Tagging each piece of dialogue with a description of the speaker's actions can create an awkward and clunky reading experience.

    DoNotAwoo: The part I liked best about this piece is the ghost's voice. She's great. I did pause a bit because the physical description of a semi-translucent being was more vivid and detailed than I would have expected (freckles, red hair, etc). The rest of the piece could use some work, I think. The first three paragraphs would benefit from more variety in sentence structure to improve flow. Also, it's not clear that the main character is a werewolf until later in the piece, so some of the parts of the first paragraphs are initially confusing. Perhaps establishing the nature of the main character sooner would add clarity. While it can be tempting to add some mystery to entice readers further into the story, excluding essential details that interfere with the reader's ability to comprehend the story can be detrimental. The third paragraph shifts to Carly's internal thoughts in an awkward manner with the question marks and ellipsis. Overall, the writing could use more polishing to improve flow and consistency. The premise of this piece is intriguing as the start to a story, although it's not a complete story on its own.

  2. Vaxxxy: Over the top. She passes out because her brother lied to her? Then at the end she collapses? Too much drama in a situation that calls for a confrontation but not total devastation.

    DoNotAwoo: I like the premise and the writing, but I did not like the last line, mostly because I don't know which character said it.

    DoNotAwoo gets my vote.

  3. Personal preferences are playing a huge role in my vote and in my critiques of today's entries, so take all of this with a grain of salt and please forgive me if I sound harsh.

    Vaxxy: I don't enjoy listening to people argue about vaccines in real life. There's no way on earth I want to read about it in my spare time. There's also the issue of coming across as preachy, which this does. Your writing was technically sound, but your protagonist was melodramatic, and the ending, from the point the protagonist bit the blanket to the end, utterly confused me. The urination and blackout seemed excessive, but then, with the introduction of the best friend, I wondered if maybe the scene with the brother was all in the protagonist's head, and we were in the middle of a mental crisis. Again, the writing was solid. The issues for me are content matter I actively do not want to read about and the ambiguity of the closing paragraphs. Given a different 500 words on something more distant from real life, you might have had my vote.

    DoNotAwoo: On the topic of things I actively do not want to read, I have a pretty strong aversion to animal point-of-view, to the point where my kids play songs from CATS to get me to leave the room. I recognize this is my issue, not yours, but that aversion made this a hard piece to read. On a technical level, the writing could use some polishing, primarily for flow. You're working hard to put beautiful words on the page and vivid images in the reader's head. Sometimes, it works ("the scent of death pressed the faintest kiss upon her muzzle"), but sometimes, it veers into wordiness. Watch your "ing"s: "disorienting her..." "closing her eyes..." "letting out a low whine..." and consider breaking up some some of those longer sentences. I think if you do that, the piece will have a smoother flow and readers will be better able to keep track of what's going on and appreciate the vivid descriptions you're infusing into the scene.

    For comparison (and with a few werewolfy details added):

    "Carly let out a low huff, closing her eyes as she let her nose guide her, shutting everything else out as she placed one foot in front of the other—only to pause when the scent of death pressed the faintest kiss upon her muzzle, like a whisper of forgotten memory. She opened her eyes and immediately flattened her ears, letting out a low whine."


    "Carly let out a low huff. Closing her eyes, she shut out everything but the scent and let her nose guide her. She placed one paw in front of the other in front of the other--only to pause when the scent of death pressed the faintest kiss upon her muzzle, like a whisper of a forgotten memory. She opened her eyes and immediately flattened her ears. A low whine escaped from between her bared teeth."

    My vote goes to DoNotAwoo, with apologies to Vaxxy for being so blunt. You can write. This piece just hit me all the wrong ways. Unfortunately, that's how it goes with writing. The fact that you're in this contest at all says there are people who loved this story.

  4. Vaxxy- There is no description of the characters. I don't know how old the MC is, or even gender. Hard to identify with.
    DoNOtAwoo- Much of your flowery language didn't work for me... the ignorant sentinels, for example, what's that about? or the faintest kiss of death like a whisper of a forgotten memory. Its beautiful language for a literary fiction piece, but you just got through telling us the garbage and the blood stinks so it doesn't fit here. I did like the ghost and want to know who it was that killed her.
    My vote goes to DoNOtAwoo

  5. My vote today goes to Vaxxxy.

    DoNotAwoo - you've crafted a very vivid scene with a lot of description and if the word count were higher, I'd definitely be interested in reading on to find out who this woman is and what work they have to do. However, I felt the scene needed to be tightened a bit. I did wonder at what shape Carly took. Werewolves take a variety of shapes in different literature, but based on the descriptions at the beginning, I'd assumed she was full wolf, but then she starts speaking. So it would have been nice to get a little more clarification around that.

    Vaxxxy - the emotion in this piece came through very strongly; I really FELT what the protagonist was feeling. That said, I did feel the ending could be tightened up a bit. It felt like it ended too abruptly, and I wasn't sure how I felt about her brother just leaving her in his room in her emotions when he'd repeatedly told her to get out before that. I think there's some character work that can be done with both the protagonist and the brother to improve this scene.

  6. Vaxxy - I disagree with some of the commenters here that just because it's an ongoing argument means we shouldn't write/discuss it further. Had it been resolved, then it wouldn't be ongoing, and I think any piece that hits home for any single reader and perhaps makes a difference has a purpose. But I have to agree that in this format, I don't understand the character's reactions... it's almost so severe I wonder if you're trying to imply they *have* caught Covid or something...

    DoNotAwoo - I liked the descriptions, and am glad you included them but in a piece of only 500 words they almost felt like padding. Definitely agree with some earlier comments that the ghost's voice is strong and that caught my attention, so go back and give the werewolf some loving and development - I do like that the trope of "mindless killer" isn't followed and she has some intellect (worried about being blamed for the death).

    By a hair I'm going to give this vote to DoNotAwoo

  7. Vaxxy, I'm sorry, but I have to agree with others who have commented about not wanting to read vaccination arguments. I'd have to go a bit further and say that I don't even want to read political content right now. It's just too much. I need an escape, and if I can't escape completely, I'd like to read something very nuanced that sees shades of grey rather than black and white. Your writing is strong, and I would like to see it on another topic.

    DoNotAwoo, you get my vote today. It fits that escape I'm looking for with an unexpected/comic twist. I'd return to the beginning, though: the first few lines could flow a bit better, and the figurative language might need a little fine-tuning to work with a werewolf/woman.

    Thanks to both!

  8. I vote for Vaxxxy because I can relate to the main character and it's nice to feel less alone because a fictional character is enduring it too.

    DoNotAwoo was interesting, but I've seen a lot of UF with wolves and Death.

  9. DoNotAwoo gets my vote. Take an easy-reading narrative and throw in a confused werewolf and a snippy ghost -- who couldn't identify? Vaxxy's was interesting, but a story we've heard way too much of. Also, the end confused me. Was the brother lying about -- what? Being vaxxed, not being vaxxed? Was the "best friend" another person? And where was the MC?

  10. My vote goes to DoNotAwoo today. I’m not usually a fan of werewolves or animal POV, but this was lovely writing (if a little overblown at times) and the ghost intrigued me.

    Vaxxy, as others have said, I’m so sick of hearing this vax/anti vax stuff that the last thing I want to do is read about it for fun too. Maybe in few years it will make for interesting historical fiction, but right now, nope.

  11. My vote is for Vaxxxy. The ending was confusing and the subject matter was not to my liking, but I think it was well written.

    DoNotAwoo-this piece has great potential, but I got lost in the overdone descriptions that made the story difficult to follow.

  12. The bulk of the comments reflect my opinions on the pieces.

    My vote: donotawoo

  13. I vote for Vaxxxy. The emotion was excellent. I really felt it.

    Donotawoo - There was a little too much description for me, but I really like the premise.

  14. Congrats on wrapping up week two, Authors!

    My vote goes to DoNotAwoo

  15. Vaxxy -- It's all been said, so let me just add that when you want to write a piece that's about something so current and hot-button, it needs to add to the conversation. For a brilliant example of an author writing about a topic but doing it in such a fresh way she sideswiped her audience, read Kindred by Octavia Butler. It was considered a sci-fi masterpiece before anyone realized it was about slavery.

    DoNotAwoo -- This was fun and had a decent voice. It felt a little tropey, but not in an awful way. Maybe calm it down on those exclamation marks.

    Vote goes to DoNotAwoo.

  16. Vaxxxy -- That's a lot of strong emotion. Not only can I relate, but I know other people who can relate too. Vaccination shouldn't be political, but it certainly is. It's also topical. Hopefully in a few years, this will be historical fiction (fingers crossed). Not wanting to read about the topic isn't the same as it being unworthy. You have my vote because this certainly seems like it will cause a stir.

    DoNotAwoo -- Dead Like Me meets any number of werewolf stories? This is a good urban fantasy. Maybe one of those where two unlikely characters are forced to work together for whatever ultimate goal. This could go well. It could also be lost in a sea of similarities. I wish you lots of luck.

    Congrats to all 20 who made it in this year. As a former contestant, I know how exciting and difficult it can be.

  17. My vote is for Vaxxxy. But I have to ask, was it all in her head? The ending made me think she dreamed of the scene with her brother and when her best friend came to get her, she was being taken to some room in a hospital/nursing home.

  18. My vote is for DoNotAwoo. I'm not big on werewolves, but I'm crazy for ghosts and I loved your ghost's voice. Vaxxxy, unfortunately, I've seen this argument play out on Facebook for the past year. I needed an escape or, if not that, something new. Sometimes it's better to write the story and then let the readers draw their own conclusions.

  19. Vaxxxy - timely, and straightforward. I think perhaps adding more about the best friend prior to the end would make it more cohesive.
    DoNotAwoo - colorful, and I'm interested in where this is going.

    voting for DoNotAwoo.

  20. Vaxxxy -- good, but the arguments are not new. No new perspective. Fresher to have the roles/responses be surprising.

    DoNotAwoo: good throughout, but not really my genre, so I don't know if any of it is overused, etc.

    My vote: DoNotAwoo

  21. Congrats, writers!

    My vote goes to DoNotAwoo.




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