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WRiTE CLUB 2021 - Semi-Final #2

Today is the 2nd and final WRiTE CLUB bout where the readers have a say in the outcome.  After these two bouts, it will be in the hands of the celebrity judges. But first, we need to decide who gets that opportunity.

The voting for both of this week's bouts will close on Wednesday, Feb 2nd (noon central time).

Here once again are the voting guidelines –

1) One vote per visitor per bout.

2) Anyone can vote (even the contestants themselves), but 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. 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!

4) Although more of a suggestion than a rule - cast your vote before you read other comments. Do not let yourself be swayed by the opinions of others.

Like the man say's

Welcome back to the ring our first contestant...Lady Warbleon



Everything in the world is broken except for us. We are kings, reigning over a landfill empire. We make thrones of pocked appliances, build castles in the hollow hulls of old Teslas. We spend our days hunting for treasures in caves carved of trash. Once, this would have been called make-believe, but now that’s all there is.

Boys are the scarcest treasure of all. Some were killed over food, and some to feed the war machine. And then there are my boys. Princes of the apocalypse. Guardians of the junkheap. My boys: Andy, Logan, T-Dog, Blub—the last so named because he cries at night. If the others do, they know better than to give it noise. Crying is not allowed here. Lying is not allowed here. Cussing is encouraged, except for one word:


We don’t care to remember them, and we will never become them.

Tonight, Logan snares a rabbit, and we dance in celebration. Though it scarcely softens the hunger, we go to bed with greasy smiles. T-Dog tells us a story of a Cyborg who falls in love with a mermaid and is thus electrocuted. He says it like that too: is thus electrocuted, as though he’s some kind of scholar. Our laughter echoes through the metal turrets long into the night.

As I drift off, Andy whispers, “Crow.” I’m so named because I’m a scavenger with a sharp memory. “I think we’re gonna be alright.”

I smile but don’t agree; lying is not allowed here.

In the morning, we wake to the smell of burning rubber. This is the smell of men.

“Raiders,” my boys hiss. I’ve known they would come. We are too happy and they won’t abide that. The Raiders were never boys; they were men who went to war and brought it back with them. They talk out of steel mouths with gunpowder words. They want our treasures and our youth.

They will get neither.

Instead, we launch fireballs at their fleet from catapults made of shovels and bungees. A few land true and we howl in triumph, louder even than the gunshots.

“Never!” we yell, to the Raiders, to fate. We defend our kingdom like it is our heart.

Burned and bested, the Raiders eventually retreat—a glorious, if temporary, victory. We are drunk off the adrenaline of it, all of us bubbling with laughter. All but one. T-Dog leans against the makeshift battlement with a hand to his belly, blood spilling between his fingers as oil through an engine gasket.

We carry him to his castle and try to remember what comforting looks like. He tells me he’s afraid. He says it like that too: I’m afraid, as though he’s just a boy. So I tell him a story of a knight who falls in love with a fairy and flies away. It’s a love story, or maybe an adventure.

Everyone is crying now, and I allow it tonight. But tomorrow, my boys, we must be kings again.

Also welcome our second contestant...Trelawney

Cat Show

Emily Parker had a lovely garden.

“Ooh, isn’t that lovely?” she’d hear passers-by exclaim on a summer’s day – especially when the blush pink roses were in bloom and tumbling round the cottage door.  Sometimes they’d stop, inhale its beauty, and take some photos to post on Instagram. The pictures would capture the exuberant jumble of hollyhocks, foxgloves and columbine that filled the borders, as well as the honeyed shades of the old stone walls – but, somehow, they never seemed to catch so much as the outline of the woman forever sitting sewing by the open window.

Emily Parker had lovely cats too.  Cats who would fastidiously wash their paws on the front step, or sit in a sunbeam on the grass, or settle down to sleep amongst the forget-me-nots.  Young cats, old cats, neat cats, fat cats, fluffy cats – all rescued, well fed, and thoroughly contented.  The villagers – those few who noticed her – nicknamed her ‘batty cat lady’, an archetype of eccentricity in shapeless clothes, which were surely fur-smothered.

“Well, she’s got inherited money, I reckon. Spends all her time gardening and looking after those animals.” 

“No, she’s only early ‘50s,” said the even fewer who knew her name. “Seems to take in a bit of sewing.”

“Bit sad, really.”

And that was as far as it went.

Seated at her window, Emily Parker would hear these scraps of conversation as she stitched and snipped and mended; would breathe in the scent of the blush roses as she created dreams from soft lengths of velvet, satin, and lace; tied exquisite bows from silken ribbons; and fixed sparkles onto bustles, and delicate pearly buttons onto bodices and gloves.  Every so often, she would slip a finished item into a protective cover and place it in a bag or cardboard box, cocooning her creation in a nest of tissue paper. Any cats tempted to turn one into a bed were gently shooed.

That was daytime.

The evening was rather different.

For, a couple of times a week, when Emily Parker had finished her sewing, she would leave her seat by the window, water her lovely garden and bring her cats indoors to be fed. Then she would go upstairs to her bedroom, pack a suitcase, and slip out. Nobody ever seemed to notice as she stowed the boxes and bags into her little car – or seemed to see her as she drove out of the village.  Once she reached the city she’d park, gather her belongings, and disappear into the side door of an unassuming building where she’d swiftly distribute her creations.  

“Oh, it’s gorgeous.”

“Just what I asked for!”

“Darling, you’ve mended it perfectly.”

She’d smile, then follow the recipients to the nightclub’s changing room. There, she would put on her make-up, open her suitcase, and take out her favourite velvets, and satins, and sparkles, and heels. And then, Emily Parker would transform herself into Catty La Fou - the finest, most luscious, burlesque dancer in the country.

Please 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.

We’ll be back next Thursday with the final 1,000-word battle. 

Please help all our writers out by telling everyone you know what is happening here and encourage them to come vote.

This is WRiTE CLUB—the contest where the audience gets clobbered!


  1. Lady Warbleon *by a hair* - I had to read them both twice, well done to both of you

  2. Wow these are both great - potentially the hardest round for me yet! Agreeing with Brandon - Lady Warbledon gets my vote, but by a very small margin. It was nice to see both these writers do something different from in previous rounds.

    Trelawney - your description is vivid. In a very short period of time, you've given us both the insider's and outsider's view of Emily Parker, and the contrasting images of day and night for her are really cool. I think you've managed to really capture her character all without really immersing us in her thoughts, which is really impressive!

    Lady Warbledon - this gave me creepy lost boys vibes (I assume that was the intention based on the title), and I LOVED it. I actually would have recommended against including a title at all and letting the work speak for itself, because it definitely gave off those vibes without the title to support it. All I have for you today is praise - this was very well written and I loved seeing this variation in your writing!

  3. After reading these both early this morning, I decided to hold off on making a choice. I liked them both for different reasons, the main one being VOICE. I loved both voices, and even stories. I sat down and read them again, still uncertain. It is such a close vote for me, choosing feels impossible. Both authors have finely tuned writing chops, and can definitely pen words into worlds...

    By a super fine margin, I'm voting for Lady Warbleon.

  4. Two of my favorite writers in the whole competition. My vote goes to Lady Warbleon, although this story read like an essay. Perhaps it was the lack of emotion by the narrator. But I appreciated the dystopian world imagery and the last line was an excellent end to the piece.

    Trelawney's story had great imagery, but the ending was a disappointment. All the beauty and mystery leading up to a burlesque dancer was an enormous let down. Like green jello after a fantastic meal.

  5. My vote goes to Lady Warbledon.

    Both of you write beautifully and are two of my favourite writers this year; I wish you were not up against each other for this round. I applaud both of you for submitting a piece for this round that is entirely different from your submissions for previous rounds, demonstrating your range and skill with writing.

    Trelawney: This is a new voice for you. There is something magical about your way of writing that shines in all of your pieces. You have a way of allowing the reader to be an outside observer of private moments. I appreciate the way you describe and create mood, then bring details full circle and connect them to other parts of the piece.

    Lady Warbledon: This piece is creates a totally different world from your previous pieces: good job. It has all the emotion, world-building, development of character, description, and action one could pack into so few words. As always, the writing is impressive. You have the gift of using your writing style to add to the mood of the work.

  6. Lady Warbleon -- Again, one of my favorite writers in this competition. The writing is still solid, but the piece felt disjointed. I think it's the change of tone and POV from the beginning to the paragraph where the author starts naming characters. It starts off feeling like the Virgin Suicides with a first-person plural POV, but that magic is broken as soon as we learn the Crow is telling the story. Too many names, too little character, too much for the reader to try and hang onto in the end, but still a good read.

    Trelawney -- This author has a brilliant voice for middle-grade or storybook tales, but I find myself asking a question I don't know that the author did - Who is this piece for? The repetition, the cadence, all reads for children, then it ends on a burlesque dancer. Who is that supposed to surprise or delight? Also, the amount of lists was offputting, and the garden turned out to be meaningless to the story, so it felt like 80 words that could have been used elsewhere. This author's first piece nailed tone and audience, but it hasn't connected since.

    Vote goes to Lady Warbleon.

  7. Congrats both of you for making it to the Semi Finals! My vote this round is going to Lady Warbleon.

    Lady Warbleon, you did a great job in taking a short piece and making the reader connect with a large cast of characters. I kind of want to hear the story about the cyborg who was thus electrocuted. The care you took with your characterization made the end of the piece more impactful.

    Trlawney, I voted for you in all your other rounds, but this piece seemed like maybe the reveal could have come earlier, and maybe more time could have been spent on that then on the cats and the garden. I did like your twist at the end but just think maybe it could have been explored more, even in this short piece.

  8. Lady, that's a good retelling with a twist. A vivid glimpse.

    Trelawney 🐈💃 Excellent story. Everyone has "Lois Lane syndrome." A good peice of a character portrait.

    I really enjoyed both. But I'm voting for Lady.

  9. Filter words, would, had, and forms of BE are not a writer's friends and should only be used sparingly, as they are a telltale sign of telling. Both of these stories have entirely too much of those words; 11 in the first two paragraphs for Lady Warbleon, 10 for Trelawney.

    I'm going to vote for Trelawney. Your story is every bit as good as Lady Warbleon's entry for this round.

  10. Lady Warbledon, previous entries left me with no doubt that you're a writer who knows what you're doing, and this piece just confirms that. Well done, every step of the way.

    Trelawney, you also have a gift with words. Throughout the contest, you've introduced us to some wonderfully vivid characters. Without doubt, description is one of your strengths. There's a certain distance to all your entries, though, and I wish you'd ventured beyond the omniscient narrator and brought us up close and personal with a first person or close third person point of view. I also wish you'd shortened the character sketches to allow more room for plot development.

    You're both very talented writers. I wish you the best as you continue writing!

    Lady Warbledon has my vote.

  11. Congratulations, writers! Your writing is beautiful. Both of you definitely deserved to be here. It’s not fair that you’re going against each other. How is a person supposed to choose?

    Lady Warbleton
    Great voice. Love the descriptions and the characterization. This story is definitely different from your last two pieces. Very male. I felt a little disconnected from the Crow and wanted to know a bit more about him, but I suppose that would probably happen in a longer story.

    Children living on their own in a dystopian world reminds me of the Undersea in the TV version of “Station Eleven” or the “Apex” in the animated series “Infinity Train.”

    This is also very different from your last stories. Love the beautiful descriptions of the garden – blush pink roses – and of Emily’s seemingly-predictable life. I think the twist at the end is funny and unexpected. Oh, it’s THAT kind of cat show.

    My only beef is with using the infinitive for so much of the story: “she would leave her seat by the window.” It makes the story sound dreamy, but also takes away a lot of the immediacy. You’re telling us what she used to do and that makes me want to know, what does she do now?

    For this story, and for the other stories I loved so much, and by a hair from a skinny dog, my vote this round goes to Lady Warbleton.

  12. Way to make it hard, writers!

    Loved the description in Trelawney's piece. It's almost dreamlike.

    But my vote goes to Lady Warbleton this time. Such a different piece and with so much energy. It felt almost malevolent at times.

  13. Congratulations to both writers!

    Lady Warbleon- a very realistic Peter Pan type story. I feel like 500 words was just a little too short to tell us about their world, each other, and still have a gut-wrenching twist at the end. But you got ally of that in there.

    Trelawny- I like the theme of not really knowing what goes on behind our neighbors closed doors. Everyone is often so much more than we ever realize. The ending was a bit rushed but a side effect of the word count limit.

    My vote is for Trelawny

  14. Trelawney had a great twist and gets my vote.

  15. Yes, indeed, a very close round with 2 excellent pieces. I'm a cat lover, and a word lover, so I'm voting for Trelawney because I liked the play on words in the title and the burlesque dancer's stage name. I would read more of this story to find out about a middle-aged woman's secret life.

    But Lady Warbleon, what a nice take on a Lost Boys theme. I'd also gladly read the entirety of this story.




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