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WRiTE CLUB 2013 - Bout 9

Our seventh WRiTER has taken a step forward into the playoff rounds and their name is Joy Stique.

Before we move on to the next round I like to recount a conversation (email string) with one of my fellow blogging buddies I had when I first started WRiTE CLUB.  In it my fellow blogger expressed how much they enjoyed WRiTE CLUB, but they just couldn't bring themselves to hurt somebody's feelings (by voting for one over the other).  I replied by telling them that even though WRiTE CLUB was completely anonymous, I understood where they were coming from.  But then I went on to pose a question...does that type of reasoning demonstrate a "glass half empty" point of view.  What about the exhilarating feeling of the WRiTER who earns a vote, doesn't that count just as equally, and if so, wouldn't it be better to look at it from a "glass half full" slant?  There are those that would counter by asking if we should be drinking at all.  My answer is that most of our readers ultimate goal is publication, and that doesn't happen in a vacuum.  There are winners (multi-book contracts) and losers (rejection letters), and WRiTE CLUB is just a small taste of that world.

Enough of my soap-box, let's bring out our contestants.

Standing in the far corner, weighing in at 429 words representing the Paranormal Romance genre, please welcome to the ring Jamie Stuart.

Adam might be in limbo, but Evie was a slice of heaven.

He hovered over the lovely sleeping woman as she hugged the covers to her chin. Oh, how he would love to sleep beside her and have her hug him. Of all the occupants who have lived in this apartment, she was the first he felt that way toward.

But who was he kidding? Hugs were no longer an option. That would require touching. And sleep? Ha! Why break up a perfectly boring day? At least now he had something worth seeing. Inky black hair framed her olive complexion, and if she were awake, he’d be lost in her chocolate brown eyes. He wondered what she smelled like.

“Evie.” Just saying her name woke up one specific part of his body. Who knew he could still get a reaction after being dead for ten years?

She smiled as if she heard him. He’d like to think she had.

She jerked under the covers as if she were having a nightmare. He reached out without thinking; his fingers met the warmth of her cheek. A scent of flowers filled his nose. The gasp barely left his mouth when gravity came into play and dropped him on top of her, solid as if he were alive.

Her eyes flew open. She might have screamed if he hadn’t squished the breath out of her.

Quickly, he rolled off her and became incorporeal once more. Sweet heaven. What the hell just happened?

She sat up and pulled the covers to her chin. Her eyes nearly bugged out of her head. She stared at the spot where his legs disappeared inside her bed. A smile spread across her face and she looked up. Those wonderful sweet eyes appeared to look right at him, except that was crazy. She couldn’t possible see him.

“Well, hello there,” she said.

He looked over his shoulder. No one was behind him, so who was she talking to?

“Yeah, I’m talking to you, Mr. Ghost. What’s your name?”

What? How did she see him? How was he able to touch her? He floated over to the corner, afraid to answer her. Afraid she might hear him. Afraid she might not.

She turned on the bedside lamp, shoved the covers aside and climbed out of bed. Her pink flowery nightgown reached her feet and flowed behind her as she approached him. Fear froze him in place. This wasn’t happening. People weren’t supposed to see him. She wasn’t supposed to see him. 

But damn, he wanted to touch her again.

And stepping into the other corner, weighing in with 500 words of Fantasy, give it up for Wideawakegirl.

He gazed out over his city, the coldness in his heart unmatched by the ice covering his skin. In all his ancient days, he had never felt as empty and as lifeless as he did now.

Memories were doing what time could not. They were destroying him.

That first day, when her small hands had gripped his so tightly and she had crawled over the railing to hide from the Jackers. His great stone body had hidden her.

Please don’t let me fall, she had whispered.

He looked down. Special permission had been given for the service to be held inside the cathedral. So many of her novels had been written here.

I’ll come back soon, she had promised. Dark blue eyes made owlishly large by thick lenses had smiled up at him. Most people, especially children, found him grotesque. Not his Elaina. She had given him her trust, her friendship; a name.

Sleet pelted him and he welcomed the pain. Maybe it would carve out the ache that was crushing him from inside. He tried not to see the procession leaving the cathedral, taking her away from him forever. Were it possible, he would have leapt from his perch and shattered himself, hopefully into pieces too small to feel the ache of her.

He had watched kings rise and fall, bloodbaths, tyranny, revolution. Incredible brutalities and beautiful acts of kindness had gone unnoticed by all but his eyes, and none had ever made him feel. Anything.

Elaina, though, had taken him to the heights and depths of emotion. She became a constant companion, growing from a curious child to a beautiful woman.

Against his better judgment, he had allowed her presence, her words, her touch, to change him. He had allowed himself to dream of her. To need her. He had burned with anger whenever she spoke of men. When they disappointed her, he had been ashamed at his relief.

Chevalier. The memory came unbidden, breaking him. She had laid her head on his shoulder and wrapped her arms around his. I wish you were real.

Selfishly, he had wished it, too.

Lightning had ripped open the heavens and she had dashed for home.

That night, a stranger had come to her door. She had told him later of how they had talked for hours, as if they were old friends. And of how he had loved her. Then vanished. Desiree had been born nine months later.

That was fourteen years ago. Now Elaina was gone. Forever.

The intensity of his grief strengthened his resolve. A fissure formed in the ice encrusted at his clawed feet. Soon, he thought.

“Chevalier.” Was he hallucinating?

Desiree leaned against his frozen body, her strange granite-gray eyes reflecting the pain inside him.

“You were Mom’s only friend.”

Until you, he thought.

Sobs wracked her slender frame. His stone heart nearly burst.

“I am so alone in this world,” she whispered. “I wish I could stay with you.”

He wished it, too.

Lightning flashed.

You know the drill, leave a vote for the winner of round 9 in the comments below, along with any sort of critique you would like to offer.  Please remind your friends to make a selection as well.  The voting will remain open until noon Sunday (Aug. 11). 

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


  1. I'm voting for Jamie Stuart. I got a real sense of Adam in that short bit and was surprised by Evie's ability to see him. I would definitely have read on. "Of all the occupants who have (should be HAD) lived in this apartment..." Plus the names make me wonder where this will go...

  2. Wideawakegirl gets my vote!

    Excellent description, great emotion, wonderful love story!

  3. I'm voting for Jamie Stuart in this round.

  4. My vote goes to Jamie Stuart. Love the "Adam and Evie" reference as well as Adam's surprise when Evie's touch makes him corporal. There's a light-hearted tone hear that is refreshing in a paranormal romance.

    Wideawakegirl's premise is interesting, but she packed too much backstory in this 500 word sample. It serves to keep us at a distance from all the characters.

  5. Aaargh! I want to continue reading both of them! Maddening contest this year. I ended up flipping a coin, best out of three and the winner is: Jamie Stuart.

    (I did best out of three because these entries were so good I still didn't want to vote after the first flip. At the second flip, it was a tie. Even though I voted, in my opinion this round is a dead heat.)

  6. My vote goes to Jamie Stuart. I really enjoyed the ending of that scene, and I felt the character's surprise. Nice job!

  7. I'm voting for Jamie Stuart, I was completely into it, but her verbal response fell flat for me, just took me out of the story. But before and after it was so strong, that it's still getting my vote.

  8. This particular time I actually liked the writing in both.

    Jamie although left me with too many questions. If he was a ghost how did she feel him or see him? Why was she not afraid? You have words left over and they could have been used to sum the answers to those questions up. The writing style is good.

    Wideawake confused me till the last quarter of the piece on who he was. Sometimes throwing out names can do that. Otherwise I enjoyed the story and writing aspect of it. There could have been some marble or statue hints earlier on to make it less confusing.

    Vote: wideawakegirl

  9. Jamie Stuart. That piece had great voice and was funny.

  10. Hi Don .. sounds like the write club is bringing the voters in ... I have to say I'm torn, but on balance I think I prefer Jamie's ...

    Cheers Hilary

  11. Interesting how the random draw ended up matching two paranormal romance stories against each other (while Wideawakegirl's is listed as "fantasy" I think a sentient statue pining over a long-lost love pretty much fits into the category of paranormal romance). But it probably says a lot about what types of stories have been popular sales-wise lately...

    Anyway, although the voice and tone is very different, I find these two entries pretty close, and this is another tough choice for me.

    Jamie Stuart gives a scene with some touches of humor. I personally didn't care for the "Adam" and "Eve" naming -- it gives this light toned snippet a little too much of a weighty reference, I think -- but that's a minor thing. I also don't quite connect with a ghost who has such still-human thoughts and emotions, and evidently, although Adam's a ghost and not a skeleton, he still seems to have at least one bone left... But the story flows well, and I like the girl's reaction, the dialog works, the story has forward motion and action, and overall the entry is effective at what it sets out to do.

    Wideawakegirl's tone is much more introspective and melancholy, and while perhaps a little too wistful, I identified with the MC a little more. However, the story is a little too much inner thought and reflection -- but when your MC's a statue, there's little for it to do but be introspective. I like the hint of the mother and then the daughter bonding with the trapped being, but I hope there's more in line ahead than just her snuggling up to a stone being. Because while there are some nice elements in the writing here, the fact that virtually nothing happens besides a girl talking to a thinking stone makes it hard for me to sustain interest.

    So overall, while both had things to like, I have to give the edge to Jamie Stuart, just on putting together a narrative that pulls me in and has a little stronger forward motion.

  12. The writing was good in both of these. It took me a while to figure out what was going on in Wideawakegirl's story. I had to read it twice to fully understand it. Jamie Stuart's piece immediately grabbed me and I wanted to find out what happened next. I didn't feel that way about the other piece. So, my vote goes to Jamie Stuart.

  13. Both of these were really good, but I've gotta vote for Jamie Stuart. That one blew me away.

  14. Gah. I love both of these, so it's really hard to vote this round (and I'm not just saying that.) Hmmmm ... I liked the voice in the first one, and the premise of the second one. Overall, my vote goes to wideawakegirl since that's the story I'd really like to see the rest of. But I seriously do like them both.

  15. I'm voting for wideawakegirl. There's something about the writing that really grabs me!

  16. My vote goes to WIDEAWKEGIRL.

    I really liked both of thee pieces. This is a particularly interesting competition. I did feel a bit more emotionally attached to the MC in wideawakegirl's 500 words. I liked the strong feelings and insights of an inanimate object.

    Jamie Stuart did a fine job here and I liked this piece 'almost' as much, had it been paired against another, it would probably have gotten my vote.

  17. Difficult this time, but I'll go with #1 because #2 launches into backstory right away--not my favorite start to a story.

  18. I thought they were fairly evenly matched but I'm voting for Jamie Stuart.

  19. Both stories left me asking questions-wanting to know more-so good job there. Both stories also needed a few tweaks with word choice here and there.
    We, as readers, are often asked to suspend belief for the sake of the story, and I'm a believer in this concept--to a point. The first piece left me wondering too much; after 10 years he can suddenly become solid? Her reaction to him? (Has she seen ghosts before?) Most bedrooms are very dark in the middle of the night. Maybe he was glowing from his love for her.
    The second story seems more 'believable' in the fantasy realm. I would have liked a little more description of the statue early in the piece, though
    My vote is for Wideawakegirl

  20. You read the first one, wondering what you will find. Will it be awesome, or just good. Will you want to read more, or will that be enough. If it's good, really good, you smile, feel pleased and stop for a moment. Then you start the next one. As you read, you start to get a sense of it, and that allows you to begin to compare. If it is much better or much worse than the first, you mentally congratulate or commiserate with the writer. But if it's close in quality to the first, you get a sinking feeling. Oh no! I have to choose? If both are wonderful, does that make your glass half full or half empty? Reluctantly, Jamie Stuart.

  21. They're very evenly matched this week, but I'm going with Jamie Stuart this time. I felt like I'd really want to read more of this one, while the other seemed a little to introspective for me.

  22. Another evenly matched round for me, both were great and I would have read more but a decision must be made.... Wideawakegirl. Seriously though both great entries, well done and best of luck.

  23. Wideawakegirl did it for me! There's a certain poignancy in the piece....
    Writer In Transit

  24. This was one of the tougher rounds for me. Both are well-written and I wanted to continue on reading both pieces. Well done to both writers! I actually think the premise to the second one was more original, but in terms of how the writing drew me in, I think the first piece was just a smidge better. If there'd been just a bit more action in the second, perhaps... Overall, though both were really wonderful, my vote goes to Jaime Stuart.

  25. Love the narrator in the second piece. Voting for wideawakegirl. Though I do wonder how he knew the daughter's name...

  26. I'm actually pretty frustrated these pieces were paired. Both are some of the first stories I'd actually keep reading in their current state. And the similarities of the stories make for a superb coincidence.

    Oh, how he'd like just to hug... And then he gets a bony protrusion? Let's keep it real.
    "Mr. Ghost" is kind of cheesy, but I'm struggling to think of a better alternative. (Besides "Ye foul Incubus!" or some such)
    You have a great voice here. Well done. You captured Adam's thoughts well, says I.

    "his ancient days" sounds like his days are old, not numerous.
    First I thought he was a golem. Then I thought he was the cathedral. Then I thought he was a golem again. Then I realized he's a gargoyle... and one that's about to awaken. The journey to discover this was a well spent 500 words.

    I was about to refuse to vote. Then I read DL's post above... Which is very true.

    I loved both pieces (and I've literally never said that) but I'm voting Wideawake. You said more in your 500 words than any other piece so far. You pretty much told two stories.

    David List - Regarding Silexare

  27. Difficult choice, but I vote for Jamie Stuart. For some reason, I connected with that one more.

  28. Jamie: that was awesome; from the first sentence intro to the genre and characters, to the last enticing sentence that transitions the next scene/chapter and reinforces the character and setting from the body. Well polished, concise, and active. Very well done.

    Wideawakegirl: loved your character, and his angst. I get a vivid picture in my mind of him, his function, and the setting. Well done with the characterization. The memories described an interesting story plot. I was a little confused about the "she" that first hid behind him at the wedding - if it is a girl, and if her name Elaina. His introspective narrative clouded the time sense, making me wonder if the "she" had one visit, or several over the years, or if Elaina was someone from his past, before being frozen on the cathedral top. I questioned if she/Elaina had had awaken him from his vigil and they spent many years together before being cursed again to the roof-top. The emotional content was vivid, heartbreaking however. You really made this character come alive.

    My vote is for Jamie.


  29. My vote is for Wideawakegirl.

    It was a really tough round for me this week, which is why i had to sit on it a few days. What it finally came down to for me was uniqueness of premise. I see a lot of ghosts in paranormal. I don't see a lot of gargoyles in fantasy.

  30. I'm voting for Wideawakegirl. I was very intrigued by the story and characters, as well as the setting.
    Unfortunately Jamie's piece didn't strike me as very original despite the good writing.

  31. I was a little underwhelmed by both pieces this week, and it made for a difficult decision. I read them 2x to make sure i really gave it anough thought.

    Jamie's piece didn't resonate with me. The whole time i kept thinking 'this feels a little...rapey. it's not romantic, it's creepy'. Also- i had some trouble with transitions between emotions with Evie. She smiles in bed when he says her name, but the next line she's trhashing in a nightmare. Her eyes are bugging out of her head in fear when she sits up, but the next line she's smiling when she sees the ghost. I know if i wake up in the middle of the night due to terror i am not able to smile a milisecond later. Especially if there's a strange person in my room- ghost or otherwise. Her emotional responses did not seem realistic to me- even if she has previous experience with ghosts and is not afraid of them. Also- the line about the erection bugged me (Chris Fries comment echoes my thoughts here).

    WideAwake left me very confused the first time i read it. I think i may have been a little bored and so therefore wasn't paying super close attention, so i had troubles really grasping what was going on. The second reading helped a lot in regards to getting a clear picture of exactly what was happening. This whole piece is pretty much back story, and if this is the beginning of the novel i would probably not be too excited about reading on.

    Overall after the 2nd read-through i ended up voting for WIDEAWAKEGIRL. I had the same thoughts about Jamie's piece on the 2nd shot, whereas i had more clarity and less issues with Wideawake after the 2nd chance

    Overall the ideas for both of these pieces are intriguing so i hope my comments aren't too harsh and instead motivate the authors to keep at it

  32. Both are wonderful but Wideawakegirl has more of an emotional impact for me. My vote goes to Wideawakegirl. Thank you.
    Feather Stone

  33. My vote goes to Jamie Stuart. I find the voice engaging, and this is the first entry that killed me when it ended - I want more! The critique I have to offer is that in a few spots after he disappeared, past perfect would've made a smoother read, such as "where his legs had disappeared".

    Wideawakegirl's piece was also interesting with a nice ending. Great job with emotion. My critique here is that I found the quick flashbacks in the intro somewhat confusing and it took me a couple re-reads to place everything it the proper timeframe.

  34. I vote for wideawakegirl. The piece tries to present a huge story in 500 words, but it is fairly successful and very heartfelt.

    Jamie Stuart's piece was well done, but ghost romance has been done quite a lot. I have to agree a little with Versinn on the feeling that it was creepy rather than romantic.

  35. Oh, I'm #85. Marina's Horror Short Stories on the Linkylist.

  36. This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.




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