Deathmatch 2014 Finals – Round 7

Deathmatch Moderators:  Richard Rosenbaum, AG Pasquella, and Colin Brush

Richard, AG, and Colin are the Broken Pencil Fiction Editors.






Step One: Read the stories.
Step Two: Vote for your favourite. Repeatedly. You can vote once every hour.
Step Three: Sound off in the comments.
Step Four: Blog, tweet, tell all your friends – help your favourite author win!
Step Five: Repeat until an Ultimate Winner is declared and all others lie bleeding in the dust.

Previous Results: Round 1, Round 2, Round 3, Round 4, Round 5, Round 6

Click here for Deathmatch rules and regulations and for links to all the people and presses that have generously donated awesome prizes for our winner and runners-up.


By Andrea Wrobel

Pause for a second. My name is Samantha Able and I am currently choking on the little pink bit of eraser that used to be attached to my HB number 2 pencil. I liked the way the little pink prince squeaked against the edges of my teeth. Like it was shining my canines up real nice. In the precise moment the little jerk came loose I was fantasizing about scrubbing the two so white that people would think I was a vamp at first glance, just because they’d stand out more than the others. I could hear the squeaking in my head and wondered if it was as loud to anybody else. No one seemed interested. I was almost invisible. But I guess I got a little too into it. Squeak, squeak, squeak. It’s good to have goals. Squeak, squeak, I did, trying to see if anyone would turn around. Is the lecture that boring? Maybe they’re all asleep. Squeak, squeak. Like a symphony of a dollar store quartet. That’s probably where Aunt Nancy got these HBs from. Are they even real? I checked. They’re real. Aunt Nancy only ever shops at Value Plus (damn those discounts) and No Dollar Taller (and damn this little pink prince now wedged in my throat so stubbornly I might actually die).

Read on...

The Idiot Without a Coat On (r)

by Craig Calhoun


As soon as I pulled my fist from the hole that I’d put in the drywall, I knew that there was nothing that I could say to make it disappear. Instead, I pulled the loose tag of skin from off my knuckle to make it start bleeding, thinking that you might feel sorry for me. You were standing by the television with your hands clasped over your mouth. Your eyes were panicked, but I knew that you weren’t frightened. Nothing I did ever scared you. I kept my eyes locked with yours, but you just shook your head. I clenched my jaw, but nothing.

“Why did you do that?” you half-plead, half-whispered.  The only thing that you’d ever been afraid of was that the neighbours might hear us argue. “What are we supposed to tell the landlord?”

There was still nothing I could say so I did the next thing that occurred to me, which was to go put my boots on. As I tied the laces, a trickle of blood moved down my finger and dripped onto the tile. You didn’t even see.

Read on...

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  8. 0
    Jim says:

    Why are we allowed to vote once an hour? This voting system turns a writing contest into a popularity contest and does not appear to favour quality of writing but rather the amount of time spent flooding social media.

    Am I way off here?

    • 0
      Brian Cauley says:

      I think that’s a great question Jim. I wish there was a log-on system and you could only vote once.

      Also, with a week of pleading for people to vote every hour, writers and supporters getting sleep deprived, it’s easy for people to become desperate to win. Not the best scenario for our fragile creative types.

    • 0
      Downhill Slope says:

      There are plenty of contests out there based exclusively on so called “merit.” This on the other hand is a death match. It rewards community.

      • 0
        Gee Golly Gosh says:

        Dear Sir/Madame Slope (communist),
        A contest based solely on “merit” (air quotes needed?) would have the folks at BP deciding on a victor without input – that means no commentary, no maximum of 72 (assuming no one votes from other devices) votes per voter. My new friend (not communist?) Jimbo here did not suggest a contest of that sort, he simply suggested that it would be more representative if each person were only allowed one vote for the story they believe holds the most “merit”.
        Sincerely yours,
        G.G. Gosh.

        • 0
          Downhill Slope says:

          This is a death match, not a readers’ choice award. All the entrants knew what they were getting into when they submitted. If the water’s too hot, get outta the kitchen.

    • 0
      Carolyn Crosby says:

      I totally agree with this remark, Jim. I think the voting system is ridiculous and forces both sides to stay up ridiculously late. I agree with Brian that it should be one vote per person or, perhaps, per day.

      Some of the weaker stories got through different rounds. Andrea and Craig, though, both wrote high quality stories. Craig’s is—in my estimation—the better of the two and I am glad to see him a bit higher on the scoreboard at present. This is the final round. Of course I salute Andrea on a job well done also. But I hope Craig is the victor at the end of the day. Polished writing and carefully developed story.

      • 0
        Chris says:

        More polished, yes.
        Something of a snooze-fest (subjective of course), yes yes.
        In any case they’re definitely the two best that I took the time to read.

        • 0
          Carolyn Crosby says:

          Why did you consider it a “snoozefest” Chris? Instead of just insulting the story, maybe we should explain our thoughts for the authors to take something away.

          I enjoyed Andrea’s story quite a bit. I thought it was witty. My issue with it was the excessive repetition in word choice, which perhaps were meant to show the author’s voice/speech patterns, but it came across somewhat inauthentic somehow. The tenses had some problems. I had questions such as why, if the narrator was so focused on not getting caught, is there no description of the teacher? Some things did not add up for me. I see why it made it to the finals though—a punchy voice and a lot of quirk add up to an interesting read.

  9. 0
    Downhill Slope says:

    i STILL have not read any of the stories. I have probably voted for Craig about 300 times by now, and mobilized at least that many more.

  10. 0
    Momma Bear says:

    Good Morning – i am now in the office with my co-workers and we ALL want to vote once an hour. BUT only one of us can vote. What’s up with that? Let the flood gates open so we ALL can vote once an hour making it 6 votes an hour, not one. Thanks

    • 0
      Eli says:

      I think the issue might be IP-related! One vote per IP Address, meaning that if your co-workers are all on the same internet as yourself, the solution would be to have them vote with their mobile phones, connected to 3G / using external data :)


  11. 0
    Colin Brush ( User Karma: 11 ) says:

    Moderating the last round ain’t easy. You’ve look back over the streams of conversation and make sure you’re not just repeating whatever’s been said. Try to drudge up energy from the burnouts of the comment board that’re fed up that this thing lasts 7 weeks. Pretend you’re not burnt out yourself.

    Andrea’s really holding her own so far. I mean, Craig had that really tough quarter final where he just looped in votes against Martyn. But Andrea didn’t have such stiff competition. This race is tight though. We’ve two writers with social circles, or fan bases, or whatever, that are really ready to click hard.

    Should we have given you two another shot at re-writes? Maybe show us who’s the better writer, and Deathmatch contestants can always use some bonus hard work.

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      I’m not sure what another re-write would have done, other than allow us to polish, but I could see why you’d put it in place.

      That being said, if I got more criticism about my work in the semifinals, and less about how annoying and I am and how my mom supports me “RAH RAH RAH” then maybe I’d have a few more thoughts on a third draft.

    • 0
      Colin Brush ( User Karma: 11 ) says:

      Oh ya. A second round of revisions sounds like a terrible idea. Please consider the above comment a joke. If I recall anything from this competition, you don’t need something extra to stress over. But props to both of you for answering with such tact.

  12. 0
    Gary Foster says:

    Are we going to have a discussion about the stories here or will we just vote?

    The moderators appear not to be diving in. I feel Andrea’s story is driven by stream of consciousness whereas Craig’s is driven by action. Do the authors agree with my remark? What are the pros and cons of this?

    • 0

      Hey Gary, I wouldn’t say that it’s action vs. stream of consciousness. Eraser is, to me, an elongation of a crisis moment while my story has a beginning, middle, and end built from scenes and all that kind of stuff that builds to a crisis moment.

    • 0

      Gary, I think you’re right about Eraser being tonally stream of conscious. I personally adore this form of writing because it allows you to really have fun getting inside a character’s head – especially a twisted, quirky, and/or deranged character. A con, I would say, is that sometimes it takes people longer to get in to or to understand because you’re painting the character from the inside out. If you’ve been following, this is a popular critique of my story.

      Have you read Survivor by Palahniuk? That book comes to mind when I think of a good, quick-paced stream of conscious-driven narrative.

      I also write a lot in a more traditional narrative like Craig. It’s exploratory and always you to create a sense of normalcy even if your character is off their hinges. I don’t tend to write that way unless I’m writing creative non-fiction, dimmerdrama-based pieces, or YA stuff for that reason.

      Thanks for reading our stories!

      • 0
        Gary Foster says:

        Thank you to both authors for responding. Interesting food for thought.

        Andrea, thank you for the book recommendation. I have not done much stream of consciousness reading so I am glad I hit the nail on the head. Your character seems like a very unpleasant person and I felt like I was on a wild, crazy ride in that classroom. It was interesting how it could feel like things were spiraling out of control even though she was just sitting there and nothing major was happening. I guess you wanted to show that what she valued as major was not. I did not understand the emphasis on a fish tail braid. I had to ask my daughter what they were and she showed me a photo. They look quite attractive. Perhaps we have different tastes in what is fashionable. I enjoyed living Samantha’s crazy life as I read and was happy to get out of her head after which is probably what you wanted. The ending did disappoint me as it seemed very anticlimactic (is that the word I am searching for. hmmm) but did you have a goal in mind with that, I wonder? If so I would be interested to hear more, if you’d like.

        Now for Craig. I did not mean to insinuate that your story is only action. I thought you had some excellent descriptive passages. I also thought there were some interesting subtleties. A great example was how there was the hole in the wall, replaced only by a picture of another huge hole in the earth– the Grand Canyon. I didn’t pick up on that immediately but it occurred later. Very clever. I also enjoyed not quite understanding what was happening at points and will politely disagree with your competition that it was a traditional narrative. I am curious how you plan to shape this into a novel length as the ending seemed fitting to me. Perhaps you aren’t ready to elaborate on those plans in this forum though. The one character I didn’t learn as much about was Brian but maybe in a novel length you could flesh him out more, so to speak.

        I will have a second reading of both stories now. Is it polite to ask other questions? I don’t want to overstep my bounds here as I am unaware of the etiquette.

        Thank you again, Andrea and Craig, for thoughtful responses,

        • 0
          Andrea Wrobel says:

          Hey Gary! Your take on both stories is refreshing. Keep it coming!

          You hit the nail on the head. Sometimes I have thoughts and moments in my head, all by myself, where everything moves so quickly inside yet nothing or not much changes on the outside. I wanted to put this on paper.

          What I was trying to do with the fishtail braid was extremely subtle and perhaps not caught by anyone. Fishtail braids are popular now and a lot of young women and girls wear their hair that way. It was meant to signify Claire’s want/need to “fit in.” I thought about taking it out many times but ultimately decided not to.

          For the ending, I really wanted to emphasize that a person can have all these far-fetched, seemingly extremely important thoughts in one moment, then return to their to-do list or a sense of normalcy the next. Samantha is all caught up in the eraser and, when class ends, her thoughts are disrupted and she goes on with her day.

          Any further thoughts or questions are definitely welcome.

        • 0
          Gary Foster says:

          Thank you to both authors for the encouragement to engage further. Very gracious. I have made some notes on both stories and will formulate a proper comment/ reply to post this evening.

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        Японский аппарат «Хаябуса-2? улетел к астероиду, но должен. на борту еще оставалось топливо для маневрирования, было.
        Я откровенно говоря еще неделю тому назад думала, что у. Похоже, что мы зрители шоу ‘тупой, еще тупее’, чье правительство победит :-) Ну а серьезно, ЕС же. Или же на Ев-пу есть сильнейшие рычаги воздействия. Обама уже 2-й дотягивает, надеюсь он не переплюнет историю.
        Так появляется новый герой-Железный человек. (2014) Исход: Цари и боги (2014) Тупой и еще тупее 2 (2014) Джон Уик (2014) Хоббит: Битва пяти.
        А еще считаю не совсем честным, когда за родителей отвечают дети. Остальные просто разделили бы судьбу “безмозглой тупой Махи”. :). нк это же сама Михрим Султан 2 промо 139 серии так и не вышло. что плакать по поводу и без((.и совершал поступки один тупее другого((.
        +?Дом-2?> – Тупой и еще тупее Открыть тему в окнах. Маша Адоевцева (Круглыхина) родила девочку 3310 и 52см в РД 25. Счастья и здоровья.
        1 день тому. Мін’юст ліквідовує дві служби і скорочує 2,5 тисячі працівників · 14:41 · Про зміни. Тупой и еще тупее 2 Купить билет.
        Еще одним подтверждением невозможности войны можно считать слова бывшего министра обороны США Р. Гейтса, сказанные им в ходе. 1 2. 44. Аватар Генерал армии. авангард (1) RU 20 марта 2014 07:51. Русин Дима EU.
        тупой и еще тупее 2 смотреть, циник форум, убираться дома английский. па българия, убейте льва, трудолюбивые разобрать по составу, убивают.
        Эдуард Мартиросян. 2 просмотра • два месяца назад. 0:48. Кристина Си и Мот (Матвей) в Comedy Club (). Показать ещё. Нет ни одной.

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  13. 0

    Andrea, your song was very cute and I’m sorry that I pretended to be Danielle Fishel and called Broken Pencil mean names.

    One thing though, in your song you forgot to mention the name of the contest, the name of the magazine, or the website address that people should go to in order to vote for you. Not sure if that was important.

    But that was very cute. You’ve escalated things. We are going to have to rap battle now… get your freestyles ready. I fucking flow like the Mississippi. Durrrty.

      • 0
        mookie says:

        I didn’t mean “stupid.” I get a lot of the critiques of your story — is it funny for a hipster to imagine a middle-aged failure choking to death, as much from shame as the lodging of an innocuous and seemingly non-lethal object in one’s throat? and so on — but, I don’t know: I guess I still actually prefer your story. My sense is I’m voting for your heart? And your potential. Five per cent also for your glasses.

        Also, I just want to be on the winning side. Just once. In my miserable life.

  14. 0
    R. Daniel Lester says:

    Congrats to both authors for making the final round.

    Two thousand + votes cast in less than 24hrs. Nicely done. Looks like we’re in for a slug fest.

  15. 0
    Lorrie says:

    Both stories deal with death in some way. The irrational fear of or preparation for it in the Eraser, and the death/life after death of both a relationship and a person’s life in the Coat story.

    The story that deals with this theme in more depth was the Coat.

    I would almost like to see Samantha planning her funeral and who would be there etc. But the word limit could be a problem. Also it isn’t my business to write the story. It seemed to be a character sketch to me. I didn’t feel it did too much more than that, but it was an enjoyable character sketch, so maybe that’s enough.

    I have not yet made up my mind about who to vote for regularly. I am leaning toward the Coat as the story was memorable for many reasons.

  16. 0
    Sherry Gordon says:

    With Eraser: what was the point? Not trying to be rude at all Andrea, and I’m hoping you could jump in. I agree with the commenter above who said it was like a character sketch. Beyond introducing us to your character and her neurotic personality, what did you want to achieve? Or is it just a short piece of writing to show us your character, Samantha Able? For me, that doesn’t make a story. Looking forward to your thoughts.

    • 0
      Cody Oschefski says:

      The Eraser story was a very unique story about a very unique character. The “idiot” has been done before. I loved the story up until the moment when I realized it was just another one of those stories. Eraser will win this competition based on the uniqueness and the strength in her Character imo.

    • 0
      Brian Cauley says:

      Craig, I greatly enjoyed reading your story, especially the beginning. As someone who has dealt with anger issues and depression, I felt a close connection with the male protagonist.

      I greatly wanted to know more about the goings on with the “Idiot’s” insecurities, motivations, and fears. Which I hope you deal with in your novel. What issues did you have while trying to focus this into 3,000 words?

      • 0

        Thanks, Brian. Appreciate the kind words. (You like to live dangerously).

        My main difficulty with this story was the word limit. I had to make clear the nature of what was happening to this guy, the nature of his relationship with his girlfriend, what being in this bubble was doing to his mind, what was going on with his girlfriend and how she was reacting to her boyfriends disappearance (and then sudden reappearance over and over and over as time progressed), how she was cheating on this dude, why she was stuck between loving and hating him, and how deep down the guy hated her.

        Not to toot my own horn, but I do think I got a lot done in such a tight space. Motherfucker was hard to get straight.

    • 0
      Andrea Wrobel says:

      Hi Sherry. Not rude at all! Thanks for reading. I have lots of answers and thoughts but I’m curious, first, what you think the point of my story is. We’ve got a neurotic character in a classroom she doesn’t belong in. She has an incessant need to be there but gets completely sidetracked when she swallows a small Eraser. Beyond the facts, she experiences these extreme, grandiose thoughts about death and possibility. So what’s the point?

      • 0
        Sherry Gordon says:

        Sorry, I posted my reply in the wrong spot below. I said: Is she having a panic attack? Or does she have some kind of personality disorder? I was not sure at all, Andrea.

        • 0

          I guess it could be either of those. She’s neurotic and quirky. A friend read it as only that, and I’ve had lengthy discussions about whether or not she had mental health issues. I think that’s why I like her so much, because of the different receptions I’ve gotten. I know many people who have struggled with mental health and not all of them are diagnosed one way or the other. Mental health can be illusive and all those billboards and ads about not being able to see it are true; it still exists.

          I think what I was trying to do (which I wasn’t fully conscious of how to do while writing) is to leave it open enough. I didn’t want to commit her but I wanted to give the reader enough to either run with it or question it.

  17. 0

    It’s been brought to my attention that “Eraser” is written at a 4th grade level while my story is written at a 2nd grade level. I think that “Eraser” is just another disgusting example of elitism is Canlit.

  18. 0
    Colin Brush ( User Karma: 11 ) says:

    This is what happens with three moderators. We all assume we can slack off because the other two are clocked in. Ok – one of us is having a kid tomorrow. So flake out on the week. Take time to make sure the toilet bowl is child locked. As for me and the other guy – our excuses aren’t so tight.

    It’s not as fun moderating when you chose the stories. Picking on a writer is like criticizing your own taste. And who would want to admit they have bad taste?

    To me, these stories drew quite opposite responses during the selection process. Eraser is catchy. This woman is choking on a pencil end, and would rather write her own obituary than ask for help. It’s bizarre and witty and charming in tone. Who wouldn’t want to keep reading? But there are a number of elements in the story that are unanswered and frayed. You didn’t get to find out enough.

    The Idiot didn’t pull me in so quickly. It doesn’t have the wit or the tone. But when it’s finished, what’s left unanswered leaves mystery in the right places. And it gives us more in the realm of details.

    I’d wager these stories are drawing super different fan bases. Kinda cool to see them neck and neck.

  19. 0
    Shazia R says:

    Craig you better win or I’m going to get someone on the East Coast to kick your ass. Yep, it’s totally in your control. Fuuuh. Go Craig. Go Craig.

  20. 0
    Cory says:

    Sorry but Eraser = zero sense. I have no idea why I am supposed to care about the narrator and, frankly, I don’t. Oh, so she’s crazy. And–? Huh. Nothing.

    The Coat story was not the absolute best in this competition, but these are the final two contenders and Coat is the superior story by a mile. The writer crafted a great story with minor issues, rather than being run into the ground by a concept that was half-hatched and sprinkled with pop culture wit (sort of).

    Weird pair of stories for the top two.

    There, fair game, now everyone can dogpile on me. I get off on that shit.

    • 0
      Cody Oschefski says:

      I think it’s something like comparing apples to Oranges. I loved “Coat”. I found that there was a part in the story where I got disconnected from it for some reason. I read it again and even showed it to others to verify that there were some loose ends and we all had a slightly different enterpretation of what had literally gone on and what hadn’t.

      Eraser was very clearly written. You can hear Sam’s voice in your head as she thinks. Her thoughts jump around and you construct this character the more she talks. I thought it was the better story in terms of character development and clatity. It has my hourly vote.

      Good luck to both writers. 2 very different stories.

  21. 0
    Andrea Wrobel says:

    Okay here’s a question that I’m always curious about, Craig. Anyone can answer this, though!

    Where do you usually write? Do you need quiet or loud noises? Can people be around? Do you get totally in your head or do you welcome distraction?

  22. 0
    Man with a question says:

    I’ve been reading the stories and commentary every round. Some of it has been very fun. A lot of it has been pretty juvenile. Some good stories. Some silly drama. But I’m curious about one thing. Who has been objectively following the competition from the beginning and what is your favorite story? Personally I loved Suzanne Crone’s story the most (no offense Andrea {or Craig for that matter}). Just wonder what everyone else thinks? Especially the moderators? Can you name a favorite? Are you allowed?

    And Andrea and Craig, do you have a favorite story (apart from your own)?

    • 0
      mookie says:

      sean johnston’s “make the soup.” probably too subtle for this competition? it got steamrolled by r. daniel lester’s tweets to the broader comic community. rdl characterized these tweets as “hail mary”. but rdl was already ahead by a good margin when he made the contest about staid literature versus comics; fair enough to rdl for the win, even if it felt like piling on. but rdl’s victory was like a third-rate neil gaiman beating vintage john cheever. yay, the internet.

      • 0
        R. Daniel Lester says:

        “Vintage” John Cheever? That draft? Sure, Make the Soup was chosen top 8 and deserved to be there, but come on. Unpucker your lips from SJ’s butt cheek and really look at that statement.

        And let it be noted that I didn’t make round 4 about literature vs. comics. That was foist upon me, raised by those critiquing my story. So I played the cards that were dealt to me, like anybody in such a contest should. And your “ahead by a good margin” was only 80 or 90 votes at that time, which in the DM is not much at all. But this round is about Andrea and Craig so I’m going to leave it there.

    • 0
      Emily says:

      Strouse. His story was perfect. RDL’s was also rather humorous, but someone else thought it was immature so that just goes to show how subjective it all is… really just half a dozen clowns in one car and six in the other.

  23. 0
    Colin Brush ( User Karma: 11 ) says:

    I’d love to see the blooper from these stories. Anything from the first draft get taken out after one night of sleeping on it? Or maybe some part you felt was really good, but decided it didn’t fit in the end.

    • 0

      I actually didn’t cut much out. I wrote it then saw I still had a few hundred words to play around with so I added some more.

      I did like the suggestion that Samantha would plan her funeral and, given a higher word count, I would like to explore her daughter some more and her home life but I’m not sure I want to novella Samantha Able quite yet.

  24. 0
    mookie says:

    I kind of miss the unexpected bursts of 1980s misogyny, and just really disturbing (almost violent?) stream-of-consciousness onslaughts of vicious sexism that freezappa provided in the previous few rounds.

    Craig and Andrea: can’t you provide a range of sock-puppet villains to compensate for freezappa’s departure? I mean, at least in the interest of providing satirical, collective penance for the excesses of the dearly (and thankfully) vanished thug-lifers of earlier rounds?

    I’d suggest “Colin Brush” as an ideal name for a sock puppet. But apparently that shit is real.

    • 0
      freezappa says:

      I’m with you mook. What’s this round, the pillow round?
      Ever notice that when I offered up sincere means to help the poorly treated women in our society, nobody responded. Haters gonna hate. And you bitches need to pick up your game. Or I’ll post Craig Calhoun’s first poem: Vaginas Are Dirty.

        • 0
          Brian Cauley says:

          Hey FZ,

          Just read those comments. Sorry I missed them.

          Some of your suggestions are good and I hope you and others follow through with them. I am a person who believes in doing as much as you can to help others whenever you can. This includes speaking up whenever I hear hateful, shaming, inappropriate, or disrespectful remarks – in person or online. Your suggestion that pouting out the misogynistic and sexist remarks in your and other people’s posts is lazy is a misrepresentation of the issue and seems like an attempt to belittle the harm that those remarks have.

          The Internet is another community, one that is far more reaching and accessible than other communities. By saying things that are degrading or hateful (to women or any other group) you are saying that those groups are not welcome. You are pushing them out. These actions are in the same negative spirit as the people and groups you criticize.

          I think you can say what you want to say without the inappropriate remarks. I think your insightful and intelligent responses would be better heard without the negativity.

      • 0
        freezappa says:

        I’ll respond to the post above with this post. Only because you said: “I think your insightful and intelligent responses would be better heard without the negativity.” And than the post directly below it, you contradict your self. Now that’s funny.

        Truthfully, I don’t know where I fully stand on the issue. I don’t disagree with what you say. But I also agree with free speech. I reject: “By saying things that are degrading or hateful (to women or any other group) you are saying that those groups are not welcome. You are pushing them out.” It all depends in the context that you take it in.

        The point I very successfully made (failed to make) was showing an example of true, disgusting misogynist behaviour. In contrast to the accusations made against RDL’s story. To me, WTS crossed the line when she continually attacked the story for being sexist, because one of the idiots in it was a pig. She tried to stifle creative freedom and she watered down a serious topic that unfairly affects our society; both men and women. And the fact that she didn’t mention anything about the only woman being abused in the other story, also leads me to believe she didn’t necessarily believe her own comments; she used it as a tactic to help “Idiot” win. That’s just my opinion, I could be wrong.

        Lastly, this is an internet contest. Literary merit stands second to web hits. Deathmatch encourages this kind of back and forth, to gain site visits. The final round, which is almost over, has been calm, almost civil and has half the comments. Which leads me to believe it has fewer visits. Comments didn’t start picking up until my comments from the last round were mentioned. People say they want nice, civil, constructive criticism, but their actions prove otherwise.

        • 0
          Aalya says:

          This is the first time anyone has pointed out that WTS fabricated the existence of misogyny in RDL’s story. It probably cost him votes and it didn’t really help feminism. But, Freezappa, it would have been more helpful to point that out last round. Showing everyone what actual misogyny looks like is completely unnecessary — we all know it, see it, feel it on a daily basis. Yes, the number of comments will go up in the presence of a flame war, but a lot of women will feel uncomfortable and just go away.

          There are two stories with narcissistic, unlikable main characters. Surely there’s plenty of commentary to be had at their expense without being otherwise stupid and dickish.

        • 0
          What the Shit says:

          To clarify:

          1) I made one comment at the start of Round 6, stating that the story disappointed me because women continued to be degraded in this draft, and that retarded/racial stereotypes continued. The choice LC made also struck me as not entirely believable, and the story seemed to marginalize a number of groups. This was ONE comment, which was my genuine opinion. At no point did I call the story “misogynistic” once. Go back and read. Feel free to quote me if I did.

          2) So again, one comment. After that, I responded to a huge amount of comments attacking me for offering feedback. I did not continue to push an agenda, I just replied to TONS of comments. You know what? It was one opinion, and everyone else was free to offer up theirs as well. That it spiralled into a singular, one-note conversation was out of my hands, and was really too bad.

          3) When I did offer feedback, I was called all types of derogatory, inappropriate names (bitch, sugar tits, feminazi). All based on my ONE initial expression of feedback. Then someone made a death threat toward me in a comment, which Broken Pencil removed and I didn’t take too seriously, but was pretty disgusted by. So forgive me if I didn’t dive into Craig’s story with zest. I simply decided at some point to back off from commenting, and did so by offering up what I liked about R Daniel’s story as well.

          4) When the comments got into rape-y language, I just lacked interest in participating altogether. That was grossly inappropriate.

          Anyways, make me the villain as you will try, but anyone is free to read the comment boards and draw their own conclusions. At least I can say I participated in the process by attempting to engage the author in discussion about some of the points that I felt were weak. If others disagreed that they were weak points, well then offer up your own opinion and votes where it counts. We’re all granted equally the same amount of power here. How you choose to use/abuse it is up to you.

        • 0
          freezappa says:

          @Aalya – if we only did things that we knew would succeed, we’d still be living in caves. I failed completely and spectacularly with my point. But I disagree that everyone understands what misogyny is. It’s the final round, RDL’s story isn’t even in it and she’s still beating that drum.

          @WTS – all your comments of “addressing these glaring” issues like “sexism” was all done under the umbrella of misogyny. You did it this round, last round and a round before that. I’m not sure if you understand or not, but if one gender is getting the exact same treatment as the other gender, than it’s not misogynist. But hey, feel free to continue trivializing a very important issue for an internet contest.

    • 0
      freezappa says:

      totally – when you angrily pound at the keyboard with your meaty fists, how could you be wrong. So glad I got you the froth guard for your computer. That bitch would be soaked otherwise.

        • 0
          freezappa says:

          I’m not sure if you’re aware or not, but these comments are from Dave Currie, not me. He fancies himself a comedian, don’t you know. I’ve been sitting pretty silently, voting away.

        • 0
          Dave Currie says:

          I haven’t been on this board at all today, Freezappa. I apologize for letting you down. Please forgive me. I feel like in another lifetime we could be friends.

          Oh and if you like free speech and Louis CK – I suggest you check out Bill Burr. His specials are available for free on youtube.

        • 0
          freezappa says:

          I am a fan of Bill Burr – I am going to see him this Month.
          Why can’t we be friends this life? Don’t let a message board ruin what could be a fulfilling, satisfying relationship.

      • 0
        Dave Currie says:

        Oh and addressing something that obviously rubbed you the wrong way, I don’t fancy myself a comedian – I was just sharing something that I happen to do. I am a comedy writer and performer in Ottawa. I hope that my earlier allusion to this fact didn’t make you too uncomfortable.

        Last year I decided to try directing a short as well, I’ve had other work produced but never did it myself. Feel free to watch the short film I directed for the local Digi60 film festival entitled “Man Eats Cereal” on youtube.

        • 0
          freezappa says:

          That’s good stuff Dave. Loved the CICG-style music. Too bad about the wind in the empty lot scene. Unless you felt that was and add. Then how fortuitous! The only thing that bumped me was the overhead shot. It was a great shot, only I would have tilted the access so either the man or the faucet was on the bottom of the screen. But that’s just preference, right? Anyway, congrats and good job.

  25. 0
    Carlito says:

    Let’s see if we can’t get this board discussion back on track. After all, what brings us all together is the stories, right? Let’s get constructive again… That said, I have a question I would like to pose to each contestant:

    Do you smoke durrys? Do you think that smoking durrys gives you a competitive advantage? Why or why not?

  26. 0
    Shannon Wiest says:

    Brian Cauley, the world needs more men like you. Everyone should read your blog post about the recent comments.

    In other news, the 1000 dates you and Andrea go on are pretty adorable.

    Good luck to your camp in this contest. I’m Team Craig all the way, but seriously, so impressed. You are awesome.

  27. 0
    freezappa says:

    Calhoun you need to re-calibrate your lean, mean, cheating machine. When you are always up by a couple of hundred votes in every round, you look like someone trying to keep it close to throw off suspicion. If you can get over 7000 votes one round, why can’t you get close to that every round?

  28. 0

    For the record I’ve been asked by many people if I want them to cheat on my behalf and I’ve said no every time. I think we’re well aware of how easy it is to do something like this. In my opinion, maintaining integrity, especially in a contest like this, is more important than the outcome. I have encouraged my supports to continue on with voting once every hour and it is my hope that all parties involved do as well.

  29. 0
    freezappa says:

    Every time I watch the Hindenberg disaster on YouTube, it’s a challenge for me to not physically assault my computer monitor.

    This is because everyone knows the Hindenberg disaster was an inside job.

    • 0
      freezappa says:

      Clever how you used my name. But anyone who knows me, knows I actually masterbate to the Hindenburg disaster, thus rendering myself too sleepy for any Dave Currie-type violence. With all the pent up rage in these supposed posts of mine, my first suspect was Dave Currie. But then it occurred to me that Cheat Calhoun wouldn’t take too kindly to his masked IP address scheme being brought to light.

      Whoever is doing it, can you please put a little more effort into it and cut it with the faux-cerebral? I don’t want to be associated with that kind of pretension.

  30. 0
    Shannon Wiest says:

    The comments about cheating are interesting. Asking large/specific networks to get involved during the final round doesn’t mean it’s cheating– it’s part of a competition like this. Some of us waited until our favourite made it into the final round before promoting the contest, so as not to risk voter fatigue. And I’ve encouraged folks to read both stories. Exposure is a great thing.

    Really happy for you Craig, you worked hard on this story and you deserve whatever success you’re getting in the votes.

    Andrea, you are a tough competitor and wouldn’t be surprised to see the gap close up quickly. Seems like the closest race yet through this whole competition. You are keeping Team Craig on their toes.

    • 0
      Brody Luke says:

      I find this interesting that someone would resort to accusing people of “cheating” when they’re on a losing side. It just stinks of bad sportsmanship. And for the record, a friend of mine sent me to this page to check out her friends story. I took the time to read BOTH, and I voted for the one I thought was best. I then circulated this amonst a lot of my colleagues which include several film studios, tv networks and talent agencies…not to toot my own horn but I have a very good network of people within my industry who took the time to read AND vote for who they thought was best. Both stories are very good, but at the end of the day this isn’t a popularity contest, it’s a talent contest.

  31. 0
    Skylendor says:

    If you think that people are voting for the better story every time, or for the one they consider better, you’re fooling yourself. Yes, this is a “talent contest”, but that and a popularity contest are not mutually exclusive. Do I consider the story I’m voting for the better one? Of course. Does that mean that it actually is the better story? Absolutely not. I don’t have a degree or doctorate in creative writing, I’m not a publisher, I have absolutely no professional connection to the writing industry. How many of the people voting regularly do have any of these qualifications to judge the caliber of someone’s work?
    I’d be willing to bet that the answer to that question is “few”.
    Mr. Brody Luke, for example. Do you, in your massive celebrity, or any of the legions of worshippers you have in your network, think that you would be qualified to judge a professional writing contest? You’re fooling yourself if you say you would be.
    Anything being voted on hourly by the general public is both a measure of talent and of networking prowess, as well as one’s ability to sell oneself. To try to claim that it’s one without other is ridiculous.
    Also, I would like to make special note of your incredibly ignorant comment regarding bad sportsmanship, Brody. I just went back and read Andrea’s comment again to make sure I didn’t miss anything, and if you do the same, you’ll note that nowhere on this thread did she accuse anyone of cheating. She noted how easy it would be, she stated that she intends to maintain her integrity, and that’s it. If others have made such comments, it does not reflect Andrea’s level of sportsmanship. Nice try, friend, but your bias is showing and it’s making you look quite the fool.

    • 0
      Shannon Wiest says:

      Hi Skylendor, I think you’ve made an incorrect assumption.

      It seems you took aim at Brody’s remark in order to defend Andrea, but comments on cheating were also made by Freezappa and Carlito. Like myself, he is responding to more than one comment.

      Brody is a good friend of mine, who is a talented screenplay writer and producer. Having worked in the TV and movie industry, he happens to know many folks in a creative field. Directing traffic from this field is nice exposure for both writers. He isn’t a fool, he isn’t ignorant (name calling is really unnecessary), nor does he take himself so seriously that he considers himself a massive celebrity– you are insulting an incredibly kind, down to earth person who doesn’t even know Craig… just biased in the sense that I asked him to lend a hand and get the vote out. In asking people to read Andrea’s comment carefully, please do the same and note that Brody did not mention Andrea and I know his remark is not directed at her. He liked her story a lot too.

      Thanks B, for pitching in. Appreciate the favour.

    • 0
      Brody Luke says:

      I’m not going to delve too much into your response skylendor as most of it was irrelevant to my post, and I won’t resort to personal attacks. Thank you for sharing.

      All I was trying to do was bring some industry attention to 2 very talented writers. I’m unapologetic about that. I actually liked both stories, I just thought Craig’s was stronger. My opinion carries the same weight as anyone else that can read and click a button. Some of my colleagues voted for Andrea. But again, who are they to judge an open talent competition.

      Andrea: none of my previous comments were directed at you. I enjoyed your work and I’m glad Shannon pointed me in the direction of this comp. thank you for sharing your work with us

      • 0
        Skylendor says:

        Shannon: You’ll note that I said Brody’s COMMENT was ridiculous. I did not “call him names”. I made an observation about something he said. Next.

        Brody: The first sentence of your first comment is incredibly vague, and is probably meant to be so in an effort to be insulting without leaving yourself open to a response. The only person who has openly remarked upon cheating that I’ve seen is FZ, but then there isn’t a single comment on this page that links them to Andrea. So who was it that you were accusing of being “a bad sport for being on the losing side”??

        Also, in response to both of you: anytime someone has to use the phrase “not to toot my own horn” or any variant thereof, they are indeed tooting their own horn, and have acknowledged their awareness of this fact in their denial of it. I’ve been there, I’ve done it. You could have simply said “I have a wide social network”. Instead you chose to note that your network consists of a bunch of media outlets, which smacks of elitism. Hell, you could have forgone the irrelevant remark altogether.

        Andrea, I applaud your talent and integrity.
        Craig, while I have my suspicions about your method of procuring such a fast lead after such a slow start, they are just that: suspicions. That said, I also applaud you for making it this far, you are both talented individuals who obviously have some very dedicated friends! Haha.

        • 0
          Shannon Wiest says:

          Common denominator = the stories, the reason we’re all here. So I’m going to focus my attention on what actually matters instead.

          At the end of both stories, each narrator doesn’t really seem aware of their actions. Samantha Able is totally in her head, shifting her focus from the fear of dying any minute onto a mundane errand, just like that. Craig’s idiot seems to have disassociated from his actions and is focused on his own primal need to stay warm. I like how the thread of tunnel vision drives both sets of actions, while the world spins on in a very different way than these characters see or realize. Andrea and Craig, was that something deliberate you tried to do? Or, in writing these characters, did it start to develop unconsciously? Both times, it was clever and told me a lot about the narrator’s mind I was looking into. Well done.

        • 0

          Shannon, I had an idea about what kind of people the characters were when I started, but then they changed as the story worked itself out. Initially, the man was way more vindictive/manipulative and the woman was much more overtly obvious in how much she hated her boyfriend. Brian was initially more of a white knight but then became a guy who was just trying to get a piece from a vulnerable person. After so long, I’ve finally figured out that you have to let go of how you think a story should turn out.

        • 0
          Drew says:

          Nice try, friend, but your bias is showing and it’s making you look quite the fool.- Skylendor

          Like seriously in your head you haven’t done any namecalling?

          You know what Craig’s super secret, lead strategy? his network is bigger, his voters are all nighters and he is constantly reaching out.

          Your writing style is way too pretentious, when you read your comments back to yourself, do you also use the He-man villain voice?

          Do me a favour: grab a flashlight as you enter your bathroom, remove your shirt and turn off the lights.
          Shine the flashlight just under your chin- campfire style. Breathe, soak in the splendour of your chin and upper body in the yellowy light the devious shadows on your cheekbones- and read your delightful comments such as, “Andrea, I applaud your talent and integrity. Craig, while I have my suspicions about your method of procuring such a fast lead after such a slow start, they are just that: suspicions.”

          If you catch yourself channeling Skeletor it is time to stop posting.

        • 0
          Skylendor says:

          Drew: My writing comes off as pretentious because it is intelligent, well-written, and I am confident in what I am saying. I am much the same in real life. If you (very very carefully now) read my initial comment, nowhere in it do I call anyone any names, as I have stated once already.

          As for CC’s “super secret strategy”, I in no way indicated that there was any foul play involved. I made the observation that, after three days of being within 50 votes of each other, it’s odd that there was a 700 vote surge in the matter of 24-36 hours. Don’t worry, I’m not on the horn with the FBI yet.

          Since those were the only parts of your comment that in any way addressed writing or this contest, they’re the only part that I myself will address.

          Happy Friday!

  32. 0

    For what it’s worth, Craig’s Facebook voteathon group is about 40% larger than Andrea’s. I imagine that would make mobilizing votes easier. Both competitors have done well to get this far, but of course the final result will be arbitrary.

  33. 0
    Shannon Wiest says:

    Andrea, sometimes the comments seem to get away from the purpose of this contest, but I have been rereading your story a few times and thinking it over.

    Samantha seems like a really superficial woman who is caught up in this drama, and she speaks (thinks?) at the speed of lightning, focusing on a multitude of seemingly really trite details. But then, after all this chaos, she is suddenly alone. You strongly emphasize a couple of times that everyone has left. And then: “And so now I am here with the teacher asking me why I’m still here, if I’m lost, if I belong here. (I inferred that.) And I’m wondering, yes, why am I still here?” Then Samantha goes off on a bunch of other random stuff, then comes back to: “In a now much more obvious moment of my un-belonging to this class I speak up.”

    Yes, she has this super quirky, overpowering way of thinking that we get reeld in with, but there is also a strong undercurrent of sadness, loneliness and isolation. She paints a picture that this mastermind scheme was cooked up alongside her daughter, but the daughter isn’t around to meet her. Only the dog is waiting and it’s because of a basic need.

    If, of all places, Samantha feels like this is where she has to be right then and there, you have to think about all the places where you would expect to find her instead and imagine that maybe she doesn’t feel she belongs there, either. She realizes this is another space where she doesn’t belong. Maybe she is focusing on all the minutiae because it keeps her mind busy so she doesn’t have time to be sad. Maybe this is just who she is as a person, and she’s a grating personality, and people have rejected who she is. The more I thought about it, the more it reminded me of a German foreign film called The Forest for the Trees (Der Wald vor lauter Baumen). That character just didn’t fit in either. It was painful to watch the social rejection she experiences because she doesn’t have the right personality, and you see that happen here too. Or maybe Samantha is a mean girl from high school who never really grew up. But we all know that bullies are often hiding their own insecurities, and focus on other people (and maybe a ton of other things) to deflect from that.

    I think you might consider adding a few details like the social reactions of others to Samantha, as she notices and interprets them, to strengthen your story. I was impressed by how you kept such a vivid portrayal of an annoying character but also managed to work in these other strong themes. Perhaps it is worth finding a way to make Samantha a bit more sympathetic to the reader, because you risk turning them off and having them not care about and see beyond her irritating qualities. Then again, maybe our response to an annoying character like Samantha in only seeing the negative aspect is exactly what you are after: our reading is no different than the social reactions of many people who feel alone and like they don’t belong. I’ve felt that in my life at times, and it is a really painful experience. You do everything you can to distract yourself from feeling like you just don’t fit in.

    Look forward to your thoughts on my interpretation, and also reading other work by you after this contest ends.

    • 0

      Hi Shannon, first I’d like to say how much I appreciate your presence on the board. Your comments are positive, inquisitive, and aware, and that’s refreshing so thank you.

      Your thoughts are really interesting and arguably the closest to what I was aiming at with Samantha. I had a friend a few years ago who suffered from a personality disorder and it was extremely trying on her, her need to fit in to societal pressures and pressures that are put on women and, in turn, me, trying to understand her and where she is coming from. Over the years, I’ve learned a lot more about mental health and how important it is to not discount it. This was what I was trying to get at with Samantha and much of what you inferred is in line with that.

      I said to Shannon above that, given more words, and after thinking on it, I would use Samantha’s daughter as a tool to delve deeper into the traits that define Samantha. I did allude to her being a hoarder, as Suzanne pointed out in round 1, her need to belong, to have someone to take care of and feel connected to (her daughter and Rolf). I wanted Rolf to represent the relationship she wants with her daughter but isn’t able to have because her daughter isn’t there. I know a lot of people turn to their pets when their families get too busy and it’s in these moments that the sadness, loneliness and isolation that you mention is often bridged. With a pet.

      I didn’t want to make Samantha wholly likable because I didn’t want to discount her thoughts and feelings. I wanted her thoughts to be strong and consistent to show that, sometimes, people are like this… all the time. And it’s incessant and unlikable and hard to be around but it’s what some people deal with daily. Again, given more words, I could explore the moments when they’re less like this, but I didn’t feel like I had enough space to do that justice.

      To me, Samantha is the type of person that needs distractions. She needs reasons to wake up and to-do lists to keep going. She needs projects. Regardless of her mental state, this is how she would function. I think there are parts about her that bother people, but I also think these are the parts that people can relate to; and maybe they’re parts that we want to suppress.

      I wanted my story to spiral in the way that Samantha’s thoughts do, and resolve with Rolf, who is the one entity in the story that gives her a sense of normalcy or routine therapy. Rolf is the one thing she knows she has to tend to because she is responsible for him. All the frustrations in wanting to connect with her daughter who is arguably only helping her because “it’s what you do” for your mother, are brought to a tee at the end. God knows Abigail hasn’t taken care of Rolf, so before Samantha does anything else, she resets with routine, with a place she knows she belongs, and then goes on.

      Perhaps a blurb about mental health and wellness to accompany my story would allow more people to understand where Samantha is coming from but I don’t want to be that fraught. While you and I read deeper into what I’ve written, a lot of people also go, “Woah, she’s neurotic. I can relate,” and it ends there. So what can be interred is quite different. I’ve enjoyed everyone’s reactions as there have been many varied ones. I love that you took the time to read and write.

      I will definitely be watching The Forest for the Trees. I love German film to the ends. I would recommend The White Ribbon (on Netflix now, I believe) and The Princess and the Warrior, to anyone else interested in German film.

      • 0
        Shannon Wiest says:

        Hi Andrea, thanks for the kind words and more importantly, for such a generous reply. I always like to hear an author discuss her/his own work.

        Was pretty interested to see what I would learn from your thoughts, and it turns out it was a lot. I didn’t see the earlier comment about hoarding and had to go back and look through your story… totally missed that one. I have a way better idea of what you were trying to do with Rolf also. I bet a lot of others got that right away– I’ve never really been a pet person (don’t crucify me, all you cat owners in the Ottawa writing community) but I can see how they do provide a bond, a meaningful relationship and a sense of comfort. Thanks for pointing that out.

        Personally, I wouldn’t point out explicitly that it’s about mental health, because I think that reading is already in there. You might find ways to pull that out a little more in your rewrites. I think I started to get it, but missed a fair bit, and it’s really interesting stuff. (Which isn’t to say that I am a perfect reader– I’m definitely not, before anyone jumps in and yells at me for thinking I’m an elitist reader, haha.)

        Now going to look for some new German films (thanks!) and to your list, I would suggest The Lives of Others– one of my all-time favourite movies, if you haven’t already seen it.

  34. 0
    GBrydson says:

    Uhm. Hard to say this… But the mods aren’t noting that there are some suspiciously weird vote jumps when it comes to votes on Coat. I’m a web analyst, mods, email me please.

    • 0
      Dave Currie says:

      What are you talking about? I mean in the last minutes of the first round, many of Craig’s voters thought cheating was going on because hundreds of votes were coming in within a ten second period but I, for one, regret implying cheating by Martyn’s supporters.

      If you look at the facebook membership between the two groups, which is not wholly representative of voter patterns or intentions but offers a nice starting place, Andrea’s group is smaller.

      Everyone acknowledges that this voting system is flawed and warrants suspicion but Andrea/Craig had been several dozen votes apart and flipping back and forth until a few days ago. If you want to know inside baseball, several days ago, many of Craig’s supporters on both coasts stayed up all night to vote for Craig to get the advantage.

      I also think the more people imply foul play by the other team, the more that team is strengthened. It becomes a “I’m not cheating, fuck you” scenario. What does a web analyst do?

      • 0
        freezappa says:

        The only reason why I suspect cheating is because Cheat Calhoun himself, PM’d me info on how to mask and alter my IP address to procure more votes.

        • 0
          Dave Currie says:

          Why would anybody do that? I’ve known Craig for several years and didn’t receive any such email – I don’t believe the two of you have ever met. In fact you publicly supported the other story the last round. I don’t understand you think anyone would believe that is true.

        • 0
          MT Wentz says:

          I bet you’re glad you built up all that credibility over the course of this entire Deathmatch, huh? You’re sure to be believed now. Yawn.

        • 0
          freezappa says:

          DC, bff, sometimes people say things that aren’t true to be funny. As a comedian, you should know that. Sometimes they don’t work and people don’t laugh. I know you know that already.
          Still, I got a chuckle out of it – and if you’re not doing it for yourself, you shouldn’t be doing it.

          My favorite part is the spattering of comments that follow. You know the, “why do you bother, you’re such a mean poster, blah blah, I don’t even bother to read your post, yet I always respond to them… I hang off your every word.. yawn” Am I right?

          Still, Cheat Calhoun did pm that to me.

    • 0
      Drew says:

      Uhm. Hard to say this… But the mods aren’t noting that there are some suspiciously weird alien life-forms when it comes to the fake moon landing. I’m a space analyst, NASA, email me please.

      This is how legitimate you sound right now.

  35. 0
    Wayne says:

    Craig: Great story.

    I’ve distributed your story to our brothers at Steelworkers Local 6451, 4112, 6579 and even 6521 in Altoona.

    In solidarity, Wayne

  36. 0
    Effing Obviously says:

    of course there are jumps in votes. there are rush hours. there are standard coffee breaks. there are dinner hours.

    don’t need to be a web analyst to figure it out.

  37. 0
    Terra Elena says:

    Freezappa…you’re such an instigator!! I’m certain you reek from all the shit you love to stir! Get a life! (Ooooh…surely I’m in for it now…I’ll be on the edge of my seat awaiting your ever-so-clever response…YAWN!)

  38. 0
    Dave Currie says:

    Freezappa, I am going to defeat you with doe eyed Jimmy Stewart sincerity. You are playing a character, a bad one, on here and so I am. I am going to make you give up by continuing to respond to everything you say with the naive earnestness of a cartoon sheep.

    You will be defeated.

  39. 0
    Smokin Pencil says:

    Hi Andrea,

    I’m chiming in to enthusiastically add that your idea above to use Samantha’s daughter to flesh out the character is fantastic You don’t have to use what she thinks about her daughter; you could just let her remember interactions — with her daughter or anyone else. I second Shannon’s suggestion of using social reactions of others as an effective tool, or you could do the opposite thing and show us more of *her* reactions to others. Either can work to let a reader arrive at their own conclusion about the narrator. You can really develop empathy and/or distrust and/or hilarity (but always complexity) when you see the narrator doing something that isn’t exactly as they *think* they’re doing. (Read the first few pages of Infinite Jest to see this done really well.)

    I do want to see something more of what makes Samantha Samantha — what enables Samantha Able? Right now, there isn’t enough *crisis* or whatever that word means to Samantha — a sense of doom or impending anxiety, perhaps. Although she is choking on an eraser for part of the story, the threat of death isn’t really crisis for the character & so there isn’t enough meatiness in her thought process to really give the story hooks. The eraser needs to shake something loose; enough to cause insight into how she deals with a situation or (even better) quiver out her life’s distress — there needs to be a haunting of things from her brain. You don’t have to mention mental illness in an outright way; show it. You said above that you were going for stream of consciousness and although it’s a completely different tone, you could read VIrginia Woolf or Joyce or someone who can convey what it is to express the hurt in the head without needing narrative. Or David Foster Wallace — again, the first chapter of Infinite Jest has a first person narrative of a young man in great distress that would give you TONNES of ideas. Or at least amuse you.

    Anyhow, I meant that with respect. I didn’t intend to come onto the boards, but I just wanted to say that your idea for improvement was a good one. I do prefer Craig’s story, although truthfully I’m now just addicted to voting every hour.

    (Sorry that wasn’t funny. Ignore all that and get back to the boards. Help, Freezappa, help!)

      • 0
        Smokin Pencil says:

        Hi Brian,
        That’s a huge question with libraries of faltering characters as answer. I don’t think it’s as important to making Eraser better than the question of how to show more internal conflict. But, in a more direct way, you’d show mental illness the same way you’d show mental health: by showing character. In the case of this story, it’s questions such as what are their motivations/desires/worries — what makes this person tick? It’s not easy to do in a subtle way. Showing how someone reacts to others or thinks about others or reviews their interactions with others might be one way (which is why I leapt at Andrea’s idea to talk more about her child — that would help).

    • 0

      Hi SP, I like that you not only read the stories, but the conversations below. Thanks for taking the time.

      Suzanne in round 1 actually recommended Infinite Jest to me and I went to the book store and saw how massive it was and picked another Foster Wallace book instead but you’ve convinced me to move it up on my reading list (esp. since you only recommended the first few pages… so there’s less pressure lol!!).

      I’m totally into this idea of quivering out Samantha’s distress that you talk about. Woolf and Joyce are not more impending and dramatic than I wanted Samantha to be but I wouldn’t doubt that, if I ditched the word count, she would get to that place. I read an interview from the person who one the Toronto Star contest last year and his advice was to do something light and funny because not many people submit stuff like that so I took what I wanted to do with mental health and tried to make it funny. Albeit, you’re right, it looses a lot of depth when I only allude to darker places in Samantha’s life but yeah… Happy to discuss further if you’re around in the next 6 hours!

      What I wonder is if there’s a way to keep something funny without slipping into the dark, deep despair that gives us a character wholly. I don’t think so…. but this word count had me wondering.

  40. 0
    Smokin Pencil says:

    Hmm, now that I’m here though … there are a few nit-picky things in both stories that kind of bug me and I’ll humbly suggest to both: read your stories aloud. That would fix it. Things like the too many plums in that one paragraph in Eraser and the stumbling first sentence of Coat would be fixed right up.

  41. 0
    Night Owl says:

    It’s just nice of them to all vote in the middle of the night like they did. Seems like all your efforts caused people to support you, all at once, whole everyone was sleeping. Unless you drummed up a massive NZ fanbase I suppose.

    • 0
      Dave Currie says:

      Shut up night owl. Early birds and worms. Accusations and implications of cheating are pointless and aggravating to all the people patiently waiting to vote every hour from their 10 to twelve house hold appliances.

      Personally, I like to space out my votes so I vote from my computer then 5 minutes later my LG Fridge, then my Panasonic Toaster, then my toothbrush recommended by 4 out of 5 computers, then my light up shoes etc eventually my cellphone but by that point it is time to vote on the computer again.

  42. 0
    Dave Currie says:

    “Richard Rosenbaum (Moderator) says:
    February 24, 2013 at 9:47 pm
    Okay everybody, be cool.

    Accusations of cheating are a tradition as old as the Deathmatch itself – so commonplace in the Deathmatch that I’d almost be disappointed if they hadn’t arisen this year too. But our webpeople assure us that there’s no evidence of skullduggery here. So let’s please get back to some more productive discussions for the last few hours of this round and start getting psyched for the next one, yeah?”

    So everybody shut up and keep asking celebrities for help.

    • 0
      Critical Breakfast says:

      Perfectly reasonable explanation: the other team is outsourcing their voting to two different sweatshops, wherein 100 workers each are voting simultaneously. I only hope they’re being paid fairly.

      Alternatively, there could be less inhumane foul-play at work here.

    • 0
      Patrick says:

      Andrea has created an entire social media roll-out campaign for this project and is being loyal and legitimate. Andrea has a huge social media presence and has a lot of devoted friends.

      Don’t play games.

  43. 0
    phantommenace says:

    What Come On said! Is Craig seriously going to cry “cheating” whenever anyone else gets an edge over him? He drove Martin out of the competition and now he’s going to start accusing Andrea, seems like someone has a problem with integrity but it isn’t Andrea or her supporters.

  44. 0
    Gary Foster says:

    Andrea and Craig,

    I had intended to send a response to you both earlier this week but things were very busy. I apologize. The Deathmatch is very close at present and I am interested to see who the final victor will be. I am uncertain whether a critique of the stories would do much at this point given you are likely both focused on rallying your voters.

    Perhaps there are authors from previous rounds watching with interest, and moderators for this matter. I would be curious to hear from them, if they are silently here, as to whom they are lending their support. There were some very talented writers among the other six and it would be fabulous to hear their thoughts.

    My best wishes.

    • 0

      Hey Gary!!

      I was wondering where you went. I’ll be here for the next few hours if you have a few more thoughts or you can get in touch via my blog link (if you click on my name here). Happy to hear anything you have to say.

  45. 0
    Bill Causebee says:

    Ugh, “C’Mon”, are we really doing the “They did it first!” thing? So many children in this competition and on this message board. I wish “Dave Currie” had a story here, he’s been one of the few voices of reason here. Can we not just cancel all the votes thus far and start a competition where people ACTUALLY HAVE TO READ THE STORIES? What a concept!

    Also, how do stories with so many spelling errors and clunky sentences get this far, in any kind of literary competition? It’s crazy how much people are willing to overlook the poor quality of a lot of these stories. Are these things not edited, at any point? Craig’s story specifically (have to pick on the person who’s been guaranteed to win this thing the whole time), my god, that first sentence is a train wreck. Let me help you out. Even though I’m not a writer, I might be the only one who has read all the stories here: “As soon as I pulled my fist from the drywall, I knew there was nothing I could say to make it disappear.” Also, yes, it seems rather obvious to me that saying something, anything, will not repair drywall. I don’t mean to just pick on you Craig, but that first sentence is indicative of this whole mess.

    I guess magazine/little-publisher publishing is going the way of big-publisher publishing: low-quality popularity contests > solid writing.

    Apparently “Integrity” is worth $250 and, according to the official contest rules, “publication in the Spring 2012 issue of Broken Pencil”. Congratulations Craig, on your impending “win”.

    • 0
      Smokin Pencil says:

      Ha! Craig’s strong but mighty power base has simply got a lot of people to not sleep more than 59 minutes at a time. There have never been the suspicious 100 vote jumps. BUT — it anyone is cheating it’s neither Andrea nor Craig. They’re both stellar, exemplary players in the game. You can’t call either’s integrity into question.

      BIll, I also wish the stories were edited. Kids these days. BUT, I tried to engage Andrea with some advice for structure and tone of her story, and she wasn’t interested. I had lots more to offer, if she had been.

      Structurally, her story is the weaker one. WIthin the two genres, his is the stronger example. If you read the two stories, you’ll vote for Craig. But yes, it needs editing. That first sentence. Ugh. But you know what? BESTSELLING AUTHORS HAVE TERRIBLE SENTENCES PRE-EDITING. It’s why editors make the big bucks.

      So: go Craig. I’m voting for you. And I’ll even help you fix that first sentence.

      • 0
        Andrea Wrobel says:

        Sorry SP! I know I need to respond. It’s Momma Bear’s bday (we live in different places!!) but shes heading home soon so I’ll catch up. I liked your thoughts!

  46. 0
    Gloria says:

    I read both short stories and liked them equally, so I decided to vote 1 per author. Thank you for the stories and the courage to allow them to be publicly scrutinized :)

  47. 0
    Bill Causebee says:

    I got involved in this thing early on, supporting my buddy James in Round 2, for good or ill, but have been watching the wheels come off this thing since and just had to vent, maybe because my friend lost, maybe because there’s a lack of interesting or constructive or even legible points about the writing here, or about the reams of problems with the contest in general. I’m no expert in magazine making or any kind of deathmatching, but it’s the kind of comments made by “Smokin Pencil” that piss me off the most, the passive-aggressive BS that one expects from anonymous commenters like me (I’m aware of the irony), talking about “suspicious 100 point jumps” then saying both writers are awesome competitors, then quickly forgetting all that stuff about integrity and immediately calling one of the author’s integrity into question. Grow a pair and tell us something unbiased. And, could you expand on what “genre” you think these stories share? I’m curious to see if you actually know things.

    And thank you for the obscenely obvious statement about pre-editing in caps, I think we all needed to hear something we all already know, but that’s beside the point, the point being WHY WEREN’T HALF THESE STORIES EDITED before THEY WERE SUBMITTED? IT’S A LITERARY CONTEST, NOT A ROUGH DRAFT SHOWCASE. Do you really think the editor-prize people are going to go to bat for an author who couldn’t be bothered to check his submission for spelling mistakes? You’re right, they won’t.

    Whoops, I meant “rah rah rah Craig”, “rah rah rah Andrea”.

  48. 0
    J-Money Millionaire says:


    If you use Dave Currie’s name again in your ramblings, however complimentary the message, I will find you. No one puts Baby (Dave Currie) in the corner (of their message).


    • 0
      Citizen Friend says:

      I’m with this guy (who also happens to be my douchebag roomie). good story and I’m glad the friggin mayor of all people pointed us to it. We’re roundin up the whole rez to vote Calhoun dog.

  49. 0
    Logger says:

    started recording the tally last night, keeping it going. kinda interesting to see huge spikes in very small timeframes for one participant

  50. 0
    Brian Cauley says:

    Hey everyone, before this contest is over I would like to say something about this round and the comments….

    I’ve noticed some really great dialogue about the stories and interactions between the authors and readers. Gary Foster, Lorrie, and Shannon Wiest are three of the commenters who stimulated conversations I really enjoyed reading. To them, anyone else who asked thought provoking questions, the authors, and everyone showing up reading and voting in the name of literature, thank you.

    These past weeks have been stressful (as a supporter – can’t imagine as an author), but thoughtful commentary and discussion have been refreshing rays of lights in this contest.

    I also think many people have raised some credible criticisms of how this contest is run, specifically calling in to question the “one vote per hour” system. I sincerely hope the organizers at Broken Pencil re-visit the intentions of Deathmatch and their magazine and ask themselves some tough questions and look at revising (or at least better explaining) this ridiculous system before next year.

    Good luck to both Andrea and Craig in the last 6 hours, and more importantly as they go forward in their literary careers. Thank you for sharing your craft.

    • 0
      Jenny says:

      Shannon questioned so much on your girlfriends story and didnt say a single word on the other though, #BIASED

      She is only trying to make her team look good and so are you Brian

      Thanks for both sharing your craft of BS

      @Miss Tennessee, Freezappa did appear but he called me Jenny because he calls it like he sees it

      • 0
        Dave Currie says:

        Good job Jenny, people have biases. Preference is hard wired, being a jerk isn’t. Make better choices.

        By the way, I prefer Craig’s story and Andrea’s approach to the contest.

        I also like Huevos Rancheros for fancy morning meal, pho was my go-to Carleton University hangover breakfast (there is this little Ottawa place called Thu Do that beats everyone else in any city into the ground) and am pretty partial to seafood at any time of day. I also really like eating left overs for breakfast. If I have to make a quick breakfast I like a bowl of rice, some pickled vegetables and a little Sriracha and sesame oil.

        Let me know if you are curious as to my lunch preferences.

        • 0
          Dave Currie says:

          God damn, I forgot to mention the egg. Ok, so after you mix that bowl of rice together you place a sunny side up egg on top and then break it apart with chop sticks – it makes a nice sauce.

      • 0
        CBSC says:

        Welcome to the Canadian Burn Survivors Community

        The Canadian Burn Survivors Community (CBSC) is a community comprised of burn survivors, people who got owned, burn unit staff, and advisors who have come together to offer support and education to any person or people that have been affected by burns.

        Our main objectives is to help support the development of the psychological well being of burn survivors in Canada, support the sharing of materials and programs to educate our citizens in the prevention of burns in Canada, and encourage professional development of people who got burned super bad, health care providers and anyone affected by the trauma of burns in Canada.

    • 0
      Shannon Wiest says:

      Thanks, Brian! Look forward to reading more work from you and Andrea in the future.

      Jenny, yes I am an avid Team Craig supporter, and he knows my thoughts on his story, including areas to fix up. To write them here would be a little bit ridiculous and staged, like if a friend of Andrea’s got on the comment board and worked through Eraser as a bit of a demonstration. I didn’t know Andrea prior to the contest so I took this opportunity to have a conversation with her, and learned quite a bit.

  51. 0
    Sara says:

    Really uncool that in the last two hours of a neck and neck competition, votes can’t be cast because of technical difficulties. I have been trying for over an hour. It’s a real shame.

  52. 0
    Zoe Douglas says:

    Incredibly disappointing finish to this contest, Broken Pencil. I am in the same boat as Sara and I think if you crown a winner at midnight, after all this, it’s going to be rightfully deserved sour grapes for whoever loses.

    VERY unfair.

  53. 0
    Adam says:

    Andrea’s story is unrealistic and incomplete.
    Craig’s story is far better as it is much more developed and intellectually stimulating.
    I agree with earlier comparisons of Andrea’s story with a character sketch… a really good character sketch.
    I think Craig cleary has the better story here.

  54. 0
    Christian says:

    I suggest Broken Pencil lets them both win, and revises the contest next year…

    Craig’s story had me anxiously waiting for the conclusion, and trying to guess what it may be all the way through.
    Andrea’s made me laugh out loud twice.

  55. 0
    Nana K. Adjei-Brenyah says:

    I’m really interested in the crescendo these stories are able to build and in how they both accumulate in their own… Never mind. It is the last hour of battle and the analysis has been done. Tired warriors are proud warriors. Be proud.

  56. 0
    Mark says:

    Dear Moderators. I am trying to vote for the stories but it says I have already voted, when this is not the case.

    Is it based off my IP Address, my facebook account or other?

    Thank you.

  57. 0
    matt says:

    THIS SUCKS– trying for over an hour to vote ERASER ……. this is terrible more than the pencil is broke!
    BOTH SHOULD WIN or cancel this whole “contest”

  58. 0
    Anonymous says:

    The fact that your servers are crashing is affecting the votes to a point that it is no longer fair and the contest results are now irrelevant.

    It is blatantly obvious that cheating is happening on both sides of this competition especially when Craig’s votes spike by 250 while the servers are down…?

    The thing that’s sad about this is that it’s no longer about the stories, it’s about who can cheat the best and the most.

    Unfortunately Andrea did this legitimately and didn’t realize people were cheating on her behalf, and Craig did, because he’s doing it himself and has been since round one.

    This entire contest in obsolete now, especially with sever issues this close to the end.

    Either both win, or both lose, it’s the only logical thing to do.

    • 0
      Chet Desmond says:

      “It is blatantly obvious that cheating is happening on both sides of this competition…”

      “Unfortunately Andrea did this legitimately…”

  59. 0
    Chet Desmond says:

    I highly doubt either party was cheating.

    I would prefer votes to be cast only once per person and not every hour, but I don’t think there was any funny business (such as bots or scripts) besides simply rallying any person to vote, and having them do so each hour, per the rules.

    Are any of these authors even that web savvy to alter the votes?

  60. 0
    Colin Brush ( User Karma: 11 ) says:

    Congratulations Craig!

    Needless to say that was a tumultuous finish.

    Andrea, that was well fought. I know what it’s like to come in second in the Deathmatch, during a round I had personal issues with. Buuut, time heals etc. etc. Eraser is a good story. I’m sure you’ve got more Samantha Able’s to make it big with.

    Clearly there were some website issues that came with the insane amount of traffic coming through during those last few hours. But those roadblocks gave neither team an advantage, as the right amount of persistence could get you through to vote. Websites suck. But every year they get a little bit better.

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