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WRiTE CLUB 2012 – Round 14

Another round in the books and we now have winner number eleven.  A job well done to both WRiTER's, but Avery Normandy will move on to the playoff’s!  His/her opponent, Dragons R Us, will have his/her piece returned to the pool for a chance at re-selection for a future bout, and as always writers who have battled once are welcome to submit a different piece if they so wish. You can check my WRiTE CLUB 2012 results page for a breakdown of all the winners along with links to all of the writing samples.  

I’ve been having problems with my blog feed not updating Google reader and all of the other readers out there, and I’m working on getting that resolved.  Supposedly it is updating now, but for some of you it appears as garbled text.  Sorry. Another symptom of growing pains…thanks to WRiTE CLUB.

Forging ahead...

Here are this week's randomly selected WRiTER's.

Standing in the far corner, weighing in at 494 words, please welcome to the ring……..Mara Jade.

It was dark.  Not the soft, clear blackness that’s ushered on by the night, but the kind that’s cold and suffocating.  The kind that accompanies death.

Raevan knew death well.

He moved silently through the tar-like medium. The air was thick, and humid, clinging to his skin.  Peering through the jungle foliage, Raevan glimpsed a grassy space outside the sturdy, brick building.  It was completely empty.

It was the one thing that worried him.

According to his research, the man he was looking for should be here.  If he wasn’t… damn it.  If he wasn’t, Raevan would have to start all over.  He’d been waiting for over an hour for him to come out of safety.  If worse came to worse, he’d have to go inside and-

The front door swung open.

Raevan’s pulse spiked at the sight of him.  He was dressed completely in black, like Raevan. But his clothes were fancier. More official.  He was turned away from him so Raevan took his chance. Taking a deep breath, he circled around the area and followed a gravel path up to the house.

There was no moon in the sky.

Only darkness.

Raevan touched the familiar object in his jacket as he approached the man, then reminded himself that he wasn’t a bad person. Just a simple man doing his best to earn a living.  A man who loved his children and his girlfriend.  He’d do anything for them, to keep them alive and hidden.  Untouched by the Kingdom.

Even if it meant… well… this.

 “Hello,” said the man, obviously surprised at Raevan’s appearance in the middle of the night.

Raevan was only a meter away when he stopped. “Hello.”  Raevan nodded to him.

“Quite a night to be outside,” said the man, glancing at the sky.

Raevan shrugged.  “I like it this way.”

“Oh? And why is that?”

He sighed.  It wasn’t talking that was so bad. Talking, he could handle.  But it was what came next he didn’t like.  That was the hard part.  And it made his blood cold.  Going from conversation, to confirmation, to… well, he preferred to leave it unnamed.

“Who are you?” Raevan asked, not bothering to answer the man’s last question.

The man raised an eyebrow and looked around, astonished.  “It’s funny you ask me while standing outside my house.”

“My question remains the same,” Raevan continued, disinterested.  “Who are you?”

The man smiled sadly.  “I’m afraid you already know, don’t you, hunter?  Did they send you after me?”

“That doesn’t matter.  Are you Prince Adelryn of Marcina, or not?”

He nodded.  “I am.”

Without hesitation, Raevan snatched the knife from his jacket and swept it across Adelryn’s throat.  Blood trickled down his neck as he stumbled backward and finally fell into the grass.

He glanced at the knife.  He wiped it off in the grass then sheathed it in his jacket.

“Traitor,” Raevan spat at his kill.


Raevan knew death well.

Much too well.


And in the other corner, weighing in at 499 words, let me introduce to you ……..Not Loretta Lynn.

I credit the best lessons in writing to a guy who never wrote anything more than a to-do list.

My grandpa was a coal miner during the days when mules were considered equipment and might have been of greater value to the company than the humans wielding the picks and shovels in their underground graves. By the time he was seventy, his thumbs were permanently black from being crushed again and again and his lungs were filled with coal dust and cancer.

My grandpa was old school. He didn’t complicate things with overly deep thoughts. There was right and wrong. Good and bad. Smart and stupid. And he was more than willing to offer direction to his bloodline.

Lesson 1: Grandpa always kept his meadows free of thistles by digging them up. He could have sprayed the whole field with Weed-B-Gone, but he liked to keep the wildflowers. They were pretty.

Writing Lesson Learned? Take the time to go over a manuscript page by page; word by word. Running spell check and grammar check won’t cut it. Use the easy fix and you might lose what’s pretty.

Lesson 2: Grandpa hated the stories about the company store. You know the words to the song, “I owe my soul to the company store...”? Well, according to grandpa, only a fool shopped at the company store. Unless you’d buy your groceries at 7-11, you wouldn’t shop at the company store either. You’d wait till you got paid, then go to town and shop. But the store offered credit and some people couldn’t wait till payday.

Writing Lesson Learned? The wise man learns to delay gratification.

Lesson 3: Some young men with a little red wagon stopped by my grandparents’ farm and asked my grandma to save aluminum cans for them. My grandpa heard their plea and offered them the same deal he gave my brothers and me. We were their digging thistles for $2.00 an hour plus a good meal. They said “no…that’s work”. Grandpa said fine; then told Grandma not to give them a single can.

Writing Lesson Learned? Hard work and sweat is a good thing. And in writing, working for next to nothing, or even for free, is just what you do to move yourself forward.

Lesson 4: Wash up and get to dinner on time. Grandma worked hard to provide a meal, show appreciation.

Writing Lesson Learned? Say thanks. Even if you don’t consider the help ( for example a beta, a blogger, a reader, etc.) people give you as monumental, they still took the time to help you and you should offer up gratitude.

Lesson 5: Don’t sit in Grandpa’s chair. He earned that spot. His sweat bought the land that holds the house where he sat as the king at the head of the table. Writing Lesson Learned? That editor or agent who passes on your work with a form letter? They earned that right with their hard work. They own that chair…get over it.


For you newcomers out there...if you wish to vote you first must sign up on the Linky List you’ll find at the end of the link provided on the badge below.  Please remind your friends to make a selection as well.  The voting will remain open until noon Thursday.

Remember, here in WRiTE CLUB, it’s not about the last man/woman standing, it’s about who knocks the audience out!


  1. My vote today goes to Mara Jade. I really enjoyed reading that piece.

    DL, it didn't show up in my reader again. Just letting you know.

  2. Good job to both writers, but I'm voting for Not Loretta Lynn. Loved the entry.

  3. Liked some of the humor in the second one, but the intensity and description in the first one wins it for me - Mara Jade.

  4. I vote for Mara Jade, too! Great job on both, though!

  5. Not Loretta Lynn gets my vote. There are a couple bumpy spots and one misspelling (their for there) but overall this essay has voice and rich content and theme.

    The Mara Jade piece was too thin for me. I didn't get a sense of setting or detail or stakes, so the suspense didn't work for me.

  6. My vote's for Mara Jade. Great buildup and nice fleshing out of the assassin, showing how his job is distasteful/unpleasant to him but a duty nonetheless. For me, the second piece was almost more like an informational blog post on writing tips than a narrative or story.

  7. I know I already voted, but I just had to come back and say that I'm still thinking about that part where the boys with the wagon turn up their nose at hard work. They expect people to give them cans to sell just because they showed up with a wagon. "Give me something for nothing."

    I needed that reminder today as I sit down to plan out a Revise & Resubmit. Just because I showed up with a wagon doesn't mean I deserved an offer. I've been asked to do some hard work, and I need to approach it this weekend with the right attitude! Thanks!

  8. I really liked the uniqueness of #2 so that is my choice.

  9. My vote goes to Not Loretta Lynn. I truly love a good essay. Mara Jade's offering was compelling and had my attention, but to be riveted by an essay? Impressive.

  10. My vote goes for Not Loretta Lynn. Those are some precious memories and lessons learned.

  11. I'm going with Mara Jade this time around. :)It just grabbed me right away.

  12. Not Loretta Lynn.

    The first started out strong but got weaker, the second started out strong and stayed that way. While NLL's writing is stronger and more certain. The characterization in Mara Jane's piece was weak in comparison.

  13. Not Loretta gets my vote.

    Mara - I like it that your mc appears to be a true believer rather than the more common jaded (ha) assassin. Some suggestions: Your first few sentences are "setting the mood." They don't tell me anything about the what actually happens. All sorts of possibilities galloped through my mind (a squid in an ocean canyon? a fly caught on tar paper? an alien in deep space?). I didn't get engaged until your mc was in a real place *doing things* Let the mood come in the process of telling the story. I thought the mc thought the building, not the clearing, was empty. It's worse comes to "worst." There's got to be some light for the characters, both in black, to see each other. The prince seemed lackadaisical about his impending assassination. This passage would be stronger if he at least made an attempt to survive, had some emotion. He hands himself over on a platter. The setting could use more fleshing out - is this a house set by itself in the jungle, or a neighborhood?

    Not Loretta - everything so far has been fiction (and one poem), so it kind of threw me to have an essay. It sounded rather like a blog post, so my comments will be aimed towards that, rather than some longer piece of nonfiction. Those are cool little vignettes, but I think you are hampered by the word count. I'd enjoy them much more if they were fleshed out into real mini-scenes. I could see this working better as a series of posts.

  14. Not Loretta Lynn.

    Have a beautiful weekend, everybody!

  15. Ok. I've had my morning caffeine and can now hopefully express a coherent thought or two without looking like a complete dolt.... :fingers-crossed:

    This round is a tough one for me. Partly because the pieces are so radically different -- one's moody fiction, the other one's light non-fiction. But also because in terms of effective writing, both are essentially successful at accomplishing what they set out to do.

    I can see reasons why I'd choose either one.

    Mara Jade's entry is atmospheric and dark and does a nice job of pulling me in, establishing story questions, and making me want to keep reading. The writing flows reasonably well -- I had no major stumbles along the way. Still, there are a few things that struck me. Raeven seems to be a bit of a jumble. On the one hand, he's a shrewd assassin who "knows death well," reacts "without hesitation," and even spits on the body of the traitor. On the other, he's just some schlep Joe Sixpack who's "doing his best to earn a living," and who is unwilling to even think about the "unnamed" "well... this" that he's trying to carry out. I think a MC who is dealing with internal conflict definitely adds greatly to the complexity and appeal of the character, but these two aspects of Raeven are just a little too incongruent for me. If he's a highly-trained assassin, I can certainly see him struggling with the morality of his profession and all the death he's delivered, but I'd expect a little more battle-hardened edge in the way he internalizes that struggle. Or, if he's just an average guy forced into a role that he's greatly uncomfortable with, I wouldn't expect him to be quite so familiar with death, act without hesitation, and spit on the corpse. In terms of writing, there aren't many nits to pick. "The tar-like medium" seemed a little awkward, but overall, everything flowed smoothly.

    Not Loretta Lynn's entry has a charming homespun, just-folks delivery, and the writing advice delivered is solid. And as with Mara's entry, the writing in NLL's piece flowed well and held my interest. I'd keep on reading if there was more. There was a "their" for "there" mistake, and a few tense changes, but that's not uncommon for a piece that flashes back and forth from present-day lessons to relating the past behind the lesson. The frequent insertion of "you" seemed to me to almost cause a bit of a style conflict with the primary first-person style of the article. But overall, I enjoyed the lessons, and found the personal nature -- sharing the perspectives of the author's grandfather -- to be endearing.

    If I have to choose (and that is the whole point, isn't it?), I'll pick Mara Jade, simply because I find myself thinking more about that entry. I guess that means it had just a little more impact for me.

  16. I'm going to vote Mara Jade, I loved the use of darkness in the story.

  17. Wow these are both really great. Tough call. But the first one really flowed for me.

  18. Mara Jade's piece didn't flow at all for me. I found it to be awkwardly written. Several times, "Raeven" could have been replaced with "he/him" to improve the flow.

    Not Loretta Lynn gave us a well-written essay with some really good advice and wove it into stories about her grandfather in such a way that I really enjoyed reading it.

    I will have to vote for Loretta.

  19. Mara Jade.

    You DID show up in my reader today.

  20. Not Loretta Lynn for me today. Good luck to both writers.

  21. You did show up in my Reader today :)

    I liked the character in #1, but I'd prefer less description. Still a good piece though.

    #2 made me smile - great voice. It gets my vote.

  22. Loretta in spite of the mistakes

  23. Mara Jade. This piece could use some editing but it pulled me in.

    Not Loretta Lynn's piece was well written but there was nothing new there or even presented in a new way.

  24. Not Loretta Lynn. Clever, compelling, and insightful! I found Mara Jade's dialogue too clunky, and the unique nature of NLL's warm-hearted essay overshadowed the assassin-in-the-night setup, which we've seen already here on WRiTE CLUB.

  25. Tough pick, but I'm going to go with Not Loretta. I like the way she ties memories and anecdotes about her grandfather to the lessons she learned from them. I find the homespun quality of the piece to be quite endearing. Well-written, too.

  26. Not Loretta Lynn had more essay than heavy-handed story to it (more like anecdotal fragments). I would not vote for that, especially as the conclusions reached are subjective and not particularly supported by the given character of the grandfather. We are simply expected to trust a grizzled old-timer whose wisdom is of course trustworthy.

    I wasn't go to vote for Mara Jade until I decided not to vote for Not Loretta Lynn. Mara Jade is the best Star Wars character not created by George Lucas, but like Timothy Zahn, there's still not quite the it factor that good writing needs. At times I felt like I was reading something I would have and actually have written myself, so that was a little strange, and I know how it happens. You want description to carry the story, but you let it get away from you. You start following rules that writers who write for younger readers follow, but that don't work well outside of popular fiction that has enough distractions that you don't care that you're not reading technically sound writing. I've been talking with some other writers about finding an authentic voice. Mara Jade did not exhibit an authentic voice here.

    But it is still better than nothing.

  27. Not Loretta Lynn's piece threw me. I was looking for something that hinted of story. It was great advice, something to savor, but not story.

    So I have to go with Mara Jade, which was fun in it's way. With more room the piece could easily expand to something fun.

  28. Mara Jade gets my vote, Not Loretta had some good ideas but it just didn't draw me in.

  29. Not Loretta Lynn gets my vote. It was very good, but I suppose I was more drawn to it by the fact that it really stood out as different.

  30. Not Loretta gets my vote - I thought everything about it was fantastic.

    Mara's was good. I think it could use better clarification on a few pronouns - I was sometimes confused by which "he" we were talking about, but that could just be me. My bigger critique is that while it was well written, it lacked originality and it's own personality. I feel like I've read this sort of thing many times before.

  31. Mara Jade's piece was well written and intense. I loved it - up until the dialogue. I felt the exchange was so unrealistic, it pulled me completely out of the action. The conversation sounded like something between two people in a neighborhood, except these people are in the middle of a jungle! Unless I misunderstood the setting, I'd think the other man would be surprised and on alert if a random person just showed up like that.

    We spent last night on our boat, anchored offshore. Other boats anchored nearby, but if I looked up and saw a person climbing onto our boat, I can tell you with certainty, "Hello, quite a night, huh?" would NOT have been my first words. Fix the dialogue and this would be one of my favorite pieces so far. Excellent job.

    Not Loretta Lynn's piece really moved me. I'm not at all bothered by this being an essay and/or sounding like a blog post. I don't recall any limits on what people can submit, so I try to judge each piece for what it brings. The writing was charming and family-centric, which I love. I enjoyed how she took observations of her grandfather and applied them to her writing life.

    For this round, my vote goes to Loretta Lynn.

  32. My vote goes for Mara. Beautiful descriptions.

  33. Mara's story actually has a story arc, so normally I'd probably vote for that over an essay. But it might grab me more if it was in first person. I just felt distanced from it, even though it was excellently written.

    They both are well written. Kudos to you both. Wish I could vote for both of you! But since DL's making me decide... I'll go with Not Loretta Lynn (despite the make-me-cringe use of their when it should be there).

  34. Not Loretta Lynn. Writing's the thing, regardless of it's being essayish. I ignored the their - there mistake.
    I was and am still confused by the first story. Thought Raeven was a vampire for most of it.

  35. I'm voting for Loretta.

  36. I'm going with Not Loretta Lynn.

  37. My vote = Not Loretta Lynn, despite the inclusion of my number one grammatical error pet peeve: using "their" in place of "there". The flow of the piece was effortless, making it an enjoyable and gratifying read. The snippets of inspiration came through loud and clear, which should create a lasting impression with most readers.

    Mara Jade's piece was a close second with a ton of potential. However, there was room for more embellishment, more description, more of something to draw me in... also, in the beginning the use of "he" and "him" wasn't as smooth as it could be. With a little more polish, a few more adjectives to bring out some feeling and add some weight... I think this piece would hit its mark.

  38. I pick Mara Jade because that piece has stayed with me more, but I thought both were great.

  39. The voice for Not Loretta Lynn's piece snagged me the most so that's where my vote will land. Mara Jade's was cool as well, and I like the Star Wars reference in the nom de plume.

  40. Though I enjoyed Not Loretta Lynn's piece, my vote goes to Mara Jade. The scene and mood of his/her piece left me wanting to read more.

  41. Not Loretta Lynn. Love the analogies!




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