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WRiTE CLUB - 2022





Hard to believe that something that started on a whim more than a decade ago has not only kept going —but grown into AN ACTUAL EVENT. There are so many writers who look forward to this each year and it warms my soul to think of what we’ve accomplished. It is a testament to this writing community and the multitude of people who inhabit it.




WRiTE CLUB is a tournament-style contest for those who are serious about writing…or just like to dabble…so there’s something here for everyone. So, how does it work? At its core — simplicity. Contestants submit a 500-word writing sample, identified by only a pen name, in any genre or writing style, even poetry. Thirty of those submissions are then chosen to go head-to-head against one another in the cyber ring. Winners of those bouts are chosen by reader votes and continue advancing until only two remain. Those finalists then provide a 1000-word sample that is given to a panel of CELEBRITY judges, who decide on the ultimate winner. Like I said, simplicity.



Here are the rules of WRiTE CLUB

(loosely based on the rules from the movie Fight Club, from which the idea for the contest sprang).

1st RULE: You DON’T talk about WRiTE CLUB – What we mean is no one can solicit votes for a specific contestant or a specific bout. All the writing entries are anonymous, and we want it to stay that way. This is not a popularity contest! Ask others to vote – YES. Ask others to vote for a specific contestant or bout – NO! Violators will be immediately disqualified.

2nd RULE: You MUST talk about WRiTE CLUB – If you watched the movie FIGHT CLUB, did you ever wonder how anyone knew about the fights if no one talked about them? Hmmmmm?? So, obviously, we want everyone to spread the word about the contest far and wide so we can involve as many writers/readers as possible. Display the WRiTE CLUB banner prominently on your own blog or Facebook page. Write a post about it (I’m more than willing to guest post on your blog). Tweet about it. Make videos and post them on Facebook, Instagram, or Tik Tok. And once the contest starts, keep banging that drum even louder to attract voters and give our contestants as much exposure as possible.

3rd RULE: Anyone can WRiTE, but it must be original material. Although the contest is sponsored by the DFW Writers Conference and Wild Lark Books, anyone anywhere in the world can enter. However, submissions cannot have been published anywhere before (that includes blogs) — or shown to anyone (including critique groups)!

4th RULE: Bouts will continue for only eight weeks - No matter how many submissions we receive.

5th RULE: No shirts, no shoes - Come on, tell me you didn’t giggle at that one.

6th RULE: If someone taps out, WRiTING is over - Tapping out means a WRiTER can decide at any time during the competition to withdraw their name from the pool. If that happens, the next writer from the slush pile with the most votes will move into that spot.


This year we have a pair of sponsors, both of which perfectly aligns with WRiTE CLUB’s goals and objectives. First off, we’re happy to announce that we are once again associated with the DFW Writers Conference which has been recognized as one of the best writing conferences in America by The Writer magazine!

In addition, we are pleased to continue our association with Wild Lark Books. Wild Lark Strategies began in 2018 as a sales and marketing consulting company serving small and medium-sized businesses. Then, in 2019, the founder of Wild Lark Books, Brianne van Reenen, traveled to the northern-most corner of Scotland and discovered stories of her ancestral past in a damp, cluttered bookshop manned by a Scotsman comfortably perched behind a towering pile of spines reading his newspaper. It was then that Wild Lark Books began to take form.

After witnessing many authors in the writing community spend years tirelessly attempting to earn representation through an agent and petition publishers for publication through traditional paths, the vision for Wild Lark Books grew. In 2021, Wild Lark Books is now filling the void for a quaint, local bookshop in Lubbock, Texas – and offering affordable and accessible self-publication packages combined with the expertise of brand-building, audience engagement, and digital marketing.




Beginning today (July 1), you can submit a 500-word writing sample using a pen name (information on how to do that below). Once the submission period closes (July 31), all the entries are read by a panel of twelve volunteers (I call them my slushpile readers). The slushpile readers are a diverse group of avid readers, and they each will select their top samples. Their selections narrow down the contestant pool to the thirty writers. Once we have our 30 contestants, then we’ll hold daily bouts (M-F) right here on this blog – randomly pitting those anonymous 500-word writing samples against each other. The winners of these bouts advance into elimination rounds, playoffs, quarter-finals, and ultimately a face-off between two finalists to determine a single champion. As we said before, the writing sample can be any genre, any style (even poetry), from a larger piece of work or flash fiction – with only two restrictions. First, a hard limit of only 500 words (including title if one is included), and nobody can have previously seen the sample.

This is an excellent way to get your writing in front of many readers and receive a ton of feedback, all without having to suffer the agony and/or embarrassment of exposure. How cool is that?

And how are the winners of each bout determined? By WRiTE CLUB readers! Anyone who visits my blog during the contest can vote for the writing sample that resonates with them the most in a bout. In addition, I ask that you leave a brief critique of each piece to help the contestants improve their craft.

Wait a minute, how can samples of different genres and age groups compete against one another? First off, although writers don’t like to admit it, we compete against one another every day…in the query piles, bookstores, the library, and other online marketplaces. Which book am I going to take home with me (or download) today? Secondly, I believe visitors to WRiTE CLUB...regardless of the genre they read... can recognize excellent writing! And it doesn’t matter if that writing is YA, MG, Sci-Fi, Horror, Mystery, Fantasy, etc. I’m confident that the WRiTER’s choosing to submit their work (which I have the utmost admiration for) do so, knowing those 500-word snippets would stand on their own, without the benefit of plot or theme. Though there may be an element that suggests a specific genre (vampires are a dead giveaway), it is the way the writer weaves the scene that will be judged.


Grand Prize – the WRiTE CLUB Champion (announced during this year’s DFW Conference) will receive FREE ADMISSION to the 2023 DFW CONFERENCE in Dallas (a $499 value). In addition, the winner will also receive FREE ROOM AND BOARD for two nights while at the conference courtesy of WILD LARK BOOKS.

Prize #2 - the first runner-up will receive a $100 Amazon gift card!

Prize #3 –Every visitor to a WRiTE CLUB bout during the contest who leaves a vote/critique will have their name thrown in a hat. One slip for every bout voted on. There will be a total of 26 bouts, so it’s possible to have your name in the hat 26 times. Then at the end of the contest, we will draw one name out of that hat, and that person will receive a $50 Amazon gift card! Yes…we value our readers/voters as well. Readers who vote in ALL 26 BOUTS will have their name placed in a separate drawing for a chance to win a $25 Amazon gift card!

And although not technically a prize, the combatants in the final round will be exposed to a panel of publishing industry professionals (list below)! Agents, Editors, Publishers, Marketers, and well-known Authors! I don’t want to brag (but I will anyway); many WRiTE CLUB winners have gone on to become published.



Still not convinced about entering? Then how about some testimonials from previous WRiTE CLUB winners? Remember as you read these that the contest has evolved over the years.

Kimberly St. Lawrence – 2021 winner. Her post.

Daniel Link – 2020 winner. His post.

Wendy Cross – 2019 winner. Her post.

Aden Polydoros – 2018 winner. His post.

Solange Hommel – 2016 winner.  Part 1Part 2.

Lisa Dunn – 2015 winner. Her post.

Dan Koboldt – 2014 winner. His post.

Arianne “Tex” Thompson – 2013 winner. Her post.

Dan Koboldt & Tex ThompsonSlushpile Impressions Post.




How do I enter this fabulous contest? – The most straightforward way (for me) is for you to format your entry like the example below (in a Word document or a format compatible with Word), then click on the link just below the example to fill out the entry form and upload the properly formatted document. Note – the pen name you choose cannot be tied to your real name in any way. That means you can’t use your Twitter handle or anything else somebody could recognize as you.


Make sure after you upload the document, you hit SUBMIT. You must have a Google account to submit this way, but don’t worry if you don’t (but who doesn’t these days?). You can still do it the old-fashioned way by emailing your submission to, but DO NOT paste your entry into the email itself. It must be a separate document. A member of the WRiTE CLUB team watched that email address during the contest, and they will log and assign every entry a number – then remove the writer’s name. You will receive a confirmation email once your entry has been logged. A word of caution – although I do my best to make sure the original formatting remains intact when a submission gets uploaded for a bout, sometimes HTML doesn’t cooperate. So go easy on any specialized formatting. It’s the words that matter, not the presentation.


How long do I have to submit? - Submissions are open until midnight on July 31.


How flexible is the 500-word limit? It’s not flexible. Anything over 500-words will be rejected, and the 500 words include any titles or headings.


What happens after I submit – how will I know if I’ve been selected to fight? To find out if you’re one of the thirty contestants, you must follow the competition and watch for your pen name to appear on the day of the bout.


Is there a limit to the number of times I can enter? You may enter two different writing samples in separate entries using the same pen name, but only one will be eligible to become part of the 30 contestants. The sample that does not get selected can be used for future rounds if you’re lucky enough to advance.


What happens if I make into the playoff rounds? If you progress past the first round, you’ll need to provide additional writing pieces for subsequent rounds (as many as four total – with the final one being 1000 words). The extra pieces don’t have to be related to the original, but they can be if you choose to do that. So be prepared.


I don’t intend to enter a submission, but can I still vote on the bouts? Absolutely! All we ask is that you leave a brief critique for both contestants. Although our contestants are anonymous – voting is not. And every time you vote, your name is placed in a hat from which a prize winner will be pulled after the contest to win a $50 Amazon gift card. If you vote in every bout (26 in all) your name will be placed in a separate hat for a $25 Amazon gift card.


When you say anonymous…just how anonymous? No one (other than the WRiTE CLUB submission coordinator), not even the slushpile readers used to pre-select the 30 contestants, will see the true identity of any sample. Not even me.


If I entered last year, can I use the same pen name again this year? No. We start fresh every year, which means no repeating pen names.


Can I still receive feedback if I don’t make it into a bout? Possibly. Sometimes our slushpile readers will agree to provide feedback if you do two things. 1) You must cast a vote in two-thirds (10) of the first-round bouts. 2) You must request that feedback after the contest is finished.


How can I help spread the word? Write a blog post, mention it on Facebook, Tweet about it (#WRiTECLUBDFW), post a pic on Instagram, talk about it on any writer forums you visit, heck…send up smoke signals if you have to. Please take note – you cannot drive traffic to promote a specific piece of writing. That will get a writer disqualified. Just ask people to read and vote their hearts.


Contest Calendar

One Final Word


Finally – I want to say something about activities that intentionally (or unintentionally) provide an advantage when it comes time to vote. I can’t emphasize this enough…this contest is all about THE WRITING standing on its own – with nothing else influencing how readers choose. I realize how tempting it is to ask your acquaintances to vote for you or send an alert when/if your sample appears in a bout (which is a passive way of cheating), but don’t do it. Instead, let your work speak for itself.


Celebrity Judges


This year our judges for the finalist come exclusively from the DFW Conference (as well as previous winners) – headlined by Delilah Dawson. All of the agents and editors attending this year’s conference will have a vote. Once their names and profiles have been released, I will highlight them here.

Delilah Dawson
She is the New York Times bestselling author of a long list of works including:

Star Wars: PHASMA
The Secrets of Long Snoot
The Perfect Weapon
Servants of the Storm

She’s the author of a variety of short stories featured in anthologies including Death & Honey, Robots vs. Fairies, and Hellboy: an Assortment of Horrors, and she is the co-writer with Kevin Hearne of Kill the Farm Boy and No Country for Old Gnomes, the first two titles in the Tales of Pell series.

Her comics credits include Star Pig, Star Wars Galaxy’s Edge: Black Spire, Star Wars: The Skywalker Saga, Ladycastle #1-4, The X-Files Case Files: Florida Man #1-2, and Rick and Morty Presents: Pickle Rick.

She is the winner of the 2015 Fantasy Book of the Year from RT Book Reviews for Wake of Vultures and the 2013 Steampunk Book of the Year and May Seal of Excellence for Wicked As She Wants.


In addition to these wonderful authors, agents, and editors, our ten previous WRiTE CLUB winners will also have a vote. They are –

Kimberly St. Lawrence

Daniel Link

Wendy Cross

Aden Polydors

Solange Hommel

Lisa Dunn

Dan Koboldt

Tex Thompson

Mark Hough

Tiana Smith


That's it. Are you willing to WRiTE for what you want? Then crack those knuckles and get ready to flex that imagination.

Whatever you do, tell your friends! 

This is WRiTE CLUB, the contest where the spectators get clobbered!


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