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WRiTE CLUB 2014 Play-offs - Round One / Bout 1

We've narrowed the field down to eighteen (congratulations to NotAnna and Cocktail Lion for being saved) and now it’s time to move into play-off rounds – which as promised will come at a rapid fire pace.  I will be posting one contest a day this week (Mon-Fri) and four next week (Mon-Thur).  The voting for all nine bouts will remain open until noon on Sunday, August 31st.  Your task remains simple…read the submission from each WRiTER carefully and leave your vote for the sample that resonates with you the most.  If you haven’t already done so in the previous rounds, offer some critique if you have time.  Anyone reading this can vote, so blog/tweet/facebook/text/smoke signal everyone you know and get them to take part in the fun.  Vote on as many bouts as you can get around to.  Whether that is one bout, or all nine, how much you participate is up to you. 

Here’s something else to keep in mind for this round...every vote counts. That’s because the contestant who doesn't win their bout but garners the most votes amongst all of the other losers, will become a wildcard winner and still advance to round 2. 

The winners will be posted late in the afternoon on August 31 and then round 2 will kick off the following Monday, September 1st, with all new 500 word submissions from the nine advancing contestants.

Good luck to all of the WRiTER’s!

And now…..

In this corner welcome back to the ring.....Fitzwilliam

When purchasing a regency-era wardrobe, one should always open its doors first—lest, quite by accident, one also purchases the regency-era gentleman hiding inside. Tess Dutton, unaware of this wisdom, preceded her movers up the narrow staircase to her third-story brownstone apartment and asked them to please place her newly acquired monstrosity in the kitchen.

One of the movers, the one who kept calling her Tess instead of Theresa as if he’d known her all his life, looked at her and winked. “A wardrobe in your kitchen?

“It’s a pantry,” Tess said, pulling out her wallet as she tried to calculate five percent of seventy-five dollars divided by two movers.

The mover-with-a-wink hefted the wardrobe one more time, clearly to better display his muscles. “Whatever you say, Tess.”

Maybe she wouldn’t divide the tip by two movers.

She’d found the wardrobe at an estate sale. Her sister told Tess if she was going to start fresh, she needed a new apartment, new job, new boyfriend, and eclectic furniture. Although she had taken the apartment, job, and furniture advice, she had laughed about the boyfriend part. “Sara, I have to have an old boyfriend to have a new boyfriend.”

Sara had, of course, looked confused. “Stuart was your boyfriend.”

“No, that’s the problem. He was never my boyfriend. That’s why I’m starting fresh—to get away from my never-boyfriend, Stuart.

And it was of Stuart and the last time they went sailing together she was thinking when she opened the doors of the wardrobe for the first time—nearly dropping the box of spices from her arms—because she found herself looking into the rather bewildered eyes of a gentleman in cravats.

She considered screaming, but then remembered Mrs. Jenny one floor down who took a nap after her two o’clock soap opera and slept with a rifle next to her bed. So instead, she grabbed the nearest weapon—a plaid umbrella.

“Who are you? Get out!" She looked over at the open door. "Oye! Mover people!" Maybe they hadn't left yet.

After she ascertained that her plaid umbrella was useless in case of an attack from a gentleman in cravats, she saw the man was acting unlike an attacker at all. In fact, he seemed surprised to see her.

“I must find Georgiana. She came this way. What have you done with my sister, Sir… or is it…Madam?” With this last bit he looked at her yoga pants with something like repulsion, as if she hadn’t showered in days when in fact, she had not.

Tess no longer felt threatened, but she raised her umbrella nevertheless. “Why were you hiding? Is this the movers’ joke? Because I tipped them…both of them!”

The gentleman stepped from the wardrobe, and Tess, realizing his full height, backed into her loveseat. Then, as he cast his eyes around the room with confusion clouding his brow, Tess also realized his full handsomeness—which is why she, in the end, did drop the box of spices.

And in the other corner, also anxious to return to the ring, let me re-introduce....The Baron

They’ve been watching us all along, gathering in force. Oh, they may look like cute little lawn decorations, but secretly, they’re preparing for total world domination. I’m all that stands between humanity and the gnomes.

The dark night calls to me. The lights on our street have been out for months, but life is tough everywhere. The city cannot be bothered to replace them despite the beautification tax I hear everyone talking about. I don’t mind: it’s perfect for gnome hunting. Despite my best efforts, the little monsters with their sinister smiles continue to multiply—congregating in broad daylight no less—but tonight I strike back. One has slipped past my defenses. It will die for its transgression.

When the children’s breaths turn to the solid rhythm of sleep, I slip out of my bed. Slowly, I creep down the hallway. I know what it is to be caught killing a gnome. The retribution could last for days, or weeks. Limited rations, diminished yard privileges, but if I can eradicate them from my home, well, I’m doing this for my children.

One step at a time, I avoid the squeaky parts of the wooden floor, and all too quickly, I stare at the vile creature from across the living room. It sits on a place of privilege, above the fire place, the heart of the home. In just months, the children will hang their stockings from that mantle. A growl rumbles through my chest, but now isn’t the time. Soon.

With grace to make the cat envious, I climb the couch and prepare to jump to the mantle. There’s no fire tonight, but a miss would spell doom. The gnome stares ahead, not watching my progress out of arrogance. After all, it doesn’t fear my attacks.

They are impervious to normal attacks, encased in a magical shell.

I gather my legs under me, bunching for the leap and spring into the dark air. I hit the mantle, scrabbling until I make the ledge. Hopefully, the noise won’t wake anyone. Gearing my mind up for the gruesome task at hand, I slink along the mantle, one foot at a time. Even better, it will look like the cat did it. High places have always been her purview.

Light floods the room, blinding me.

“Baron! What are you doing? Bad dog!” my mistress yells.

The gnome is close enough. I push it with my nose. It tumbles from the mantle in slow motion, falling to its death.


The gnome flips away from the hard tile fireplace beneath. I pushed it too hard! The gnome bounces harmlessly into a throw pillow, sparing it from its deserved death.

I’ll eat every pillow in the house.

“Baron Von Barker, you have some explaining to do, mister.” She shakes her finger at me. As I jump down from the mantle, the gnome grins at me, safe for now. My plot foiled again.

I am Baron Von Barker, and I am a gnome hunter. 


See you back here tomorrow!
Remember the WRiTE CLUB motto, it’s not about the last man/woman standing, it’s about who knocks the audience out!


  1. I'll go for Fitzwilliam in this bout.

  2. My vote goes to The Baron. Still love this as much as I did the first time.

  3. Both of the writers I wanted to make it did - awesome!
    Crap, this one is tough. Both are good with great voice. I'm going with The Baron. Still funny.

  4. I'm going with the Baron. I could tell both have been polished since last time (and for what it's worth, I voted for both of you), and I think Baron did a better job of making the reader one with the narrator. I enjoyed Fitzwilliam, but sometimes felt a little taken out of the story by explanations and interjections. If my editor reads this, she'll probably laugh, but try going deeper into your narrator's point of view and let HER tell the story.

  5. Here's a vote for Fitzwilliam. I like the understated humor and the feeling that the story's world has a lot left to offer.

  6. Two great pieces. Congratulations to both! I have to go with The baron. I love both concepts but something about that one grabbed my attention just a bit more.

  7. They're both so good, it's hard to choose. I think I'll have to vote for the Baron this round. Fitzwilliam, do love some of those turns of phrase. Baron just had a slightly tighter scene.

  8. Both are awesome, but I have to go with The Baron this time. It pains me to see either of them go, though.

  9. Fitzwilliam! Both are great, though. Tough choices, just personal preference for me.

  10. DL - For some reason, your posts aren't showing on my blog feed, so I'm not seeing them (thus forgetting about this). So glad I saw you post something on Facebook!

    Anyway, my vote this round goes to The Baron. Guess I just can't resist a story from the dog's POV.

  11. I like both of these but as I can only pick one I'm going with The Baron. Good luck to you both.

  12. I liked both of these and hate that they came up against each other.

    My vote goes to Fitzwilliam.

  13. I love both, but I'm going with The Baron.

  14. This is a tough one! These were two of my favourites... but I'm more so enjoying the premise of Fitzwilliam's piece verses the writing itself. The Baron's piece is well written, it flows, is original -- my vote has to go to The Baron.

  15. Both are too cool. But The Baron gets my vote this time.

  16. Fitzwilliam. In spite of a few awkward spots and the glaring error involving the apparent misuse of the word 'cravat' (the idea of someone wearing multiple cravats conjures up some bewildering images, on top of the fact that it makes no sense that the differences in the rest of the man's attire wouldn't be far more noticeable than his neckwear!), there's a lot in this excerpt that is very charming. And although the concept in Baron's entry is certainly fun, the voice needs work to make it consistent and more appropriate for MG.

  17. Who is "knocking the audience out" for me this round? I will have to go with Fitzwilliam, but it's close, Close, CLOSE. More like a TKO.

  18. The Baron. I'd really love to buy this book for a few people on my Christmas list.

  19. Fitzwilliam. I still want to know more. Well, I want to see the rest of The Baron's as well. Darn hard choice!

  20. I've gotta vote for The Baron's gnomes again. I just adore them :D

  21. Time travel. And the promise of romance. I love it.





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