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WRiTE CLUB 2013 - A Champion Crowned

The judges have made their decision and I honestly can say I'm not surprised by their choice.  Months ago, when I first announced the 32 contestants that were going to battle it out for this crown, I mentioned that there was only one of them that had received a vote from all ten of the admission judges.  I had a notion then, and it has played out before us all during the contest.  The 2013 WRiTE CLUB Champion, by a UNANIMOUS vote, is.......


I want to thank our celebrity judges for a job well done, and here is a sampling of the comments they offered for our two finalist.  First Philangelus:

This entry doesn't really fail anywhere in the writing. I really liked the subtlety of the situation that creates the tension here. (A lot of writers seem to think an overload of drama will make get them the vote.) That said, I feel it perhaps wasn't the strongest scene to put up for the finals.  I think this entry could have used a little more choice original descriptions and unique gestures or habits on the part of the characters to make them feel more real. Unfortunately, these details and gestures and thoughts characters have--the ones that seem too unique to be thought up--these are what impress me most in a book and they just seemed to be missing a bit here, leaving the scene a feeling a bit thin. There is no question that Philangelus has real writing chops...Philangelus is a very confident writer indeed - Mark Hough (WRiTE CLUB winner 2012).

An interesting conundrum, with clever turns of phrase. Barley salad. Excellent writing, perhaps 500 words was just a bit too short to see into this story. - Kendare Blake (Author Anna Dressed in Blood)

Philangelus also took a risk writing in first person present tense. Though it’s ever gaining in popularity among YA and NA writers, it’s a difficult style to pull off. In this case I think it was the wrong choice. First person narratives are driven by the personality of the narrator. With no personality to flavor them, statements like ‘I fight nausea’ and ‘Max stalks over’ become choppy and bland. The narrator’s personality failed to shine through, so the present tense felt more like stage direction than a story. If your first person narrator doesn’t explode off the page like Gayle Forman’s Mia (If I Stay, Where She Went) or Suzanne Collins’s Katniss (Hunger Games trilogy), then you’re better off writing in third person. The story is a good one and the writing is technically solid, but the narrator just wasn’t interesting enough to draw me in. While the author has an excellent grasp of the technical aspect, s/he needs to work on characterization. - Diane Dalton (former editor Rhemalda Publishing)

These first 500 words do give a us a quick window into the type of person the main character is, but it’s not the most evocative opener in terms of physical action or character interaction. The scene ends with presumably the narrator’s firing, but her dismissal doesn’t create a real urgency to keep reading since she doesn’t seem to care about her job – what would raise the stakes? The narrator’s voice also didn’t grab me yet, and I had a harder time placing it in the marketplace as a result – women’s fiction is a vast genre, and you want to give your reader a quick preview of what type of women’s fiction story we’re in for through voice and story questions. Perhaps drawing the details and suspense out further would be more successful. - Katie Grimm - (Agent w/Don Congdon Associates, Inc.)
With Philangelus's piece, I got confused at the repeated "It's not my job" bit, since I wasn't following that train of thought. On the whole though, both of them were great and I'd read more of either of them. - Tiana Smith (WRiTE CLUB 2011 winner) 

Has a solid idea for a story and a moral dilemma. However, there wasn’t a lot of personality in the main character. As part of a larger piece, the straightforward style would work, but on its own, it lacked zing.- Alex J. Cavanaugh - (Author of the Cassa Series)

Philangelus' entry is also funny, but I don't have such a strong sense of who the narrator is. - Alice Speilburg (Speilburg Literary Agency).

And here some of the remarks regarding our winner's - Muleshoe's piece:

Originality in voice is probably the most important quality I look for in writing and humor that's original, surprising, and well-timed is very hard to get right, so this entry definitely felt like Muleshoe was aiming high...and overall I think it worked.  I always love it when an author can describe a situation or scene from an angle that isn't the most obvious and Muleshoe does that very well here. The details Muleshoe chose as well were wonderfully unique and made the scene feel quite real. Definitely a confident writer who has a gift for the Storyteller's voice. The only critique I'd give is that this heavy level of character in the voice might be hard to sustain throughout a novel and sometimes it keeps the narrative plot line from progressing in a timely manner. The fact that Muleshoe can write a voice this thick is terribly impressive... and if it were toned down just a tick or two I'd have a hard time picturing an agent not jumping on it.
Mark Hough (WRiTE CLUB winner 2012).
Fantastic voice. Nailed it. And lovely use of imagery also, particularly the yellow quartz tumors. It was only a short passage, but I want to know more about this beastie and his marmalade girl, and what on earth has become of Pete. Way to establish character in a short amount of time. - Kendare Blake (Author Anna Dressed in Blood) 

Muleshoe took quite a risk in choosing rural fantasy for a piece so short. Fantasy thrives on world-building, and 500 words doesn’t leave a whole lot of room for that. Though details are sparse, the clever use of language gives the story a distinctly Western flavor. The reader is given no description of the narrator or Pete, but it doesn’t matter. As soon as I got into the rhythm of the narrative, which was almost immediately, my imagination supplied a stock image of a weathered cowboy on an equally weathered horse (once I understood that Pete was a mode of transportation and not bipedal) framed by a backdrop straight out of a dozen cowboy movies—even though I had no real reason to assume Pete is, in fact, equine or that the narrator is even human. The narrator positively oozes personality, and I could see him sitting on his bedroll by the fire telling the story. The writing, however, was a little problematic. Phrasing was sometimes awkward, giving the impression the author was trying a little too hard to sound conversational. Flow and clarity suffered as a consequence. While the author has characterization down pat, s/he would benefit from sharpening his/her technical skills.  - Diane Dalton (former editor Rhemalda Publishing)

The first 500 words do a great job of establishing voice, tone, and character – while giving us a hint to what (and what isn’t) normal in this world. These first pages also had a strong opening image and left the reader with a clear story question and reason to keep reading. I did stumble over the first few sentences though (it wasn’t the “brightest thing” it wasn’t “anyplace special”) and had a to re-read the a few times – it could be due to the narrator’s style, but be sure to hold the reader’s hand just a bit more than usual in the few pages. Remember that many readers (from the query pile to the bookstores) often skim the first lines (pages?) of a book to decide if they’re going to pick it up. - Katie Grimm - (Agent w/Don Congdon Associates, Inc.)

The voice was strong and unique, the setting was vivid and I was really looking forward to seeing where it was going. I really think both pieces were written well, and these were both strong. With Philangelus's piece directly contrasted to Muleshoe's, the latter just seemed more attention-grabbing and fun. - Tiana Smith (WRiTE CLUB 2011 winner)

Had a lot of personality. I got a clear sense of the narrator and his sense of humor. His accent/slang was almost too much at times, but he stayed in character. This one was the strongest, with a solid voice, good storyline, and humor. - Alex J. Cavanaugh - (Author of the Cassa Series)

The voice here is so clear, and I love how the protagonist seems somewhat reluctant and forced into doing the right thing -- shooting the giant -- which then turns out to be the wrong thing to do. Very clever - Alice Speilburg (Speilburg Literary Agency).
I want to congratulate both writers for providing us all for hard fought contest.

Now for the real moment of truth.  Who are these talented writers? Well Philangelus is none other than Jane Lebak!  And our champion, Muleshoe, is the talented "Tex" Thompson!  I encourage any of our 32 contestants who feel up to it to announce their true identities in the comments below.  Each and every one of you should hold your heads up high!

Tex now joins Tiana Smith and Mark Hough as former WRiTE CLUB champs, as well as becoming a judge for next years finals (if there is one).

Thank you once again to everyone who made WRiTE CLUB such a success again this year!  I'll be back later in the week for a final wrap up and to announce the winner of the $75 gift certificate.


  1. Congratulations, Tex!
    Proof that we all see something different in writing and that it's really subjective.

  2. Yeah! I'm so glad I get to send the first Congrats. Wonderful Job, Tex and Jane...really. Your two submissions stood out in the original sort and I'm so glad you were able to keep it up throughout to make it here. Again, great job.

    1. Hey, Mark - thanks so much for your congratulations! And more than that, for all your awesome comments. You gave such thorough and thoughtful reviews - to everyone! - and I have spent the last few months just, like, gobsmacked by your insight. It is so good of you and Faith to take that kind of time, especially with everything else you have going on, and I know I'm not the only one for whom that's made a huge difference. Thanks again!

  3. Congrats on the winner. Enjoyed reading the final thoughts of the judges, too.

  4. Congrats to the winner, well deserved.


  5. Congratulations Tex! Well done.

  6. Congrats to both of you! Great writing Tex!

    I was The Scribbler.

  7. Congrats to both Tex and Jane!

    I was/am Camille Atwood.

  8. Congratulations, Tex! Awesome work!

  9. Oops, used the wrong account to post. :#) Congratulations, Tex, and thanks so much DL for hosting WRiTE club. This was so much fun, and I'm glad to have 'met' you all.

  10. Congratulations to both Tex and Jane -- you gave us some fabulous writing and great competition!

    Personally, I thought the final round was pretty evenly matched, but I'm also very pleased that Muleshoe Tex won. That first entry with Holly was simply phenomenal and was my clear #1-rated piece when I voted for the initial submissions. I also loved Tex's second one and was pulled in by the situation that Elim found himself in -- that was again my favorite of the round. So as a whole, Tex absolutely dominated the competition and completely deserves to win. Fabulous job!

    I wish both writers tremendous success!!!

    And also -- thanks again to DL, Kim, the judges, and all the writers for another very fun year of WRiTE Club! I really enjoyed it!

  11. Oh wow! Congratulations! I've missed so much, lately. Glad you've stuck with these rounds, D.

  12. Congratulations to both of the final two writers! It was so much fun reading your pieces, and so informative to learn what the judges had to say about each one. This has been another great contest! Thank you to Don and Kim for organizing once again, and to all of the contenders for sharing your work with the public!

  13. Congrats to you both! I agree with the other first round "sorting" judges who have already mentioned it: Muleshoe was my prediction to win from the very beginning, since you just can't fake that kind of voice and confidence. Interestingly enough, we came across Philangelus's piece earlier in the sorting process (it was submitted earlier), and it was the very first I gave a resounding "Definitely" to.
    Tex and Jane, you both are great writers who deserve this little victory--I hope you have some champagne or chocolate or a new Moleskine notebook and set of pens to celebrate. :)

  14. Congratulations to Tex and Jane! This final bout was well-matched but I, for one, was really glad we weren't voting because I would have had to vote for Muleshoe ... again.

    From the beginning, Muleshoe's entries had me hooked. Some favorite passages:
    "Here was the true art of the traveler: one had only to retain mastery of one’s own person – and hand-luggage, where possible – in order to enjoy all the education and entertainment that Nature reserved for the portable man."
    "Shame was for people – for creatures who could sort right things from wrong ones, and hold themselves accountable for the difference."
    "Maybe this place had changed him into a murderer. Elim couldn't have said whether it had that power. But it certainly was fixing to change him into a dead man."
    "But they had long since passed on to their reward, and left him at the mercy of their brutal heirs."
    "Me and the dirt meditated on that for a bit."
    "Soothing him in the tone you'd use for a child with a strawberry knee."
    And so many more!

    I am pleased to belong to the "Beaten in a Bout by Muleshoe" Club, for I was Emma T. Nestor.

    Once again, my hat is off to both Tex and Jane, a couple of worthy con-ten-duhs!

  15. Oh! And while we are spilling the pen name beans...I was ALONE

  16. Congratulations to both finalists! It was a great competition!

  17. Man, thanks so much, guys. I've already ranted and screamed about it on my blog, but it bears repeating: this contest has been the coolest, sweetest, kick-your-complacency-in-the-ass nail-bitingest kind of fun I've ever had. And the real fun is only beginning - now that the masks are off, I cannot wait to properly e-meet you guys and get to know the fabulous people behind these fabulous entries. GO TEAM 2013!

    Oh, and DL - I can't thank you and your crew enough for putting on this show. Please-please let me know if you would like another pair of hands to help make it happen in 2014: I know you must have cheated yourself out of a sizable chunk of your own writing time to do this for us, and it would be my life's delight to help pay some of that back to you. (Hope your blogging break is relaxing and fruitful in the meantime - God knows you earned it!)

  18. i enjoyed reading all the submissions. And, while reviewing the comments for each submission, I picked up on some tips on how to improve my writing. Congratulations to the finalists. Judy Feather Stone

  19. Congratulations Tex! A well deserved win. And thanks to DL and Kim for putting on this event. It's been so much fun!

    Oh, and I was (an still am) Vampyr14.

  20. It has been quite a contest. Congrats to those who came across the finish line!

  21. Congratulations Tex! And Jane, and EVERYONE who submitted - your pieces were all fabulous and I enjoyed reading them. Truly. I'm in awe of the talent in our blogosphere. Also, thank you DL and Kim for all the hard work in making WRiTE CLUB happen this year!

  22. Congratulations Tex and to everyone who took part. Thanks DL and Kim for all your hard work in making this another awesome Write Club. If we are standing up to be counted now, I was Ruby Red.

  23. Congratulations Tex and Jane! Here's hoping for big writing futures for you both!
    Thanks for putting this on again, DL and Kim. I always enjoy it.

  24. Well done, Tex - a mighty achievement!

  25. I knew when my piece came against Muleshoe's I didn't stand a chance! Congratulations, Muleshoe!

    Oh - and I was Jamie Stuart.

  26. Hi DL .. congratulations on putting the Write-Club2013 contest on .. a huge amount of work to benefit others .. but so well done - and congratulations to Tex, and to Jane for being the runner up ...

    Interesting story line as to the strength of Tex' writing right from the start of the competition ...

    Cheers Hilary

  27. Congratulations to Tex. And to Jane for making it to the final round. So many excellent entries all around.

  28. Congrats to Muleshoe Tex and everyone who took part. I, for one, learned a lot from the experience, particularly the comments, and I think we can honestly say we all gained something -- something that will help make us better writers.

  29. CONGRATS to the winner!!!

  30. Congratulations to the winner! Hey DL, my email address changed and I'm not getting any info about Blog Blitzes. I still want to participate. Could you send updates to my new email address: Thanks!

  31. Another fun and successful year DL! Congratulations to both Jane and Tex for making it through to the end.

    I was Liva Humior.

  32. SUPER late, but congratulations to Muleshoe aka Tex! Stiff competition. And congrats to Jane too!




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