CoF July 2017 Landscaper + Rainy Day Scores
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  1. #1

    CoF July 2017 Landscaper + Rainy Day Scores

    H.Brown Cran
    Plasticweld 16 20 18
    bdcharles (anonymous) 19 19.5 19.25
    rcallaci 17 20 18.5

    This month was a real nail biter. With only one and quarter points between them. I give you this months results.

    Coming in first place with his anonymous entry Sweet Meats we have bdcharles

    Second place goes to rcallaci with Tea Time in Paradise

    And rounded out our top three is Plasticweld with his entry Making Stuff Grow: Language by Bob Brown

    Congrats to all our winners and entrants! Keep up the good work!

    Now on to the judges reviews.

    Well done to everyone that entered this month's challenge, each entry grabbed me and made me read on to the end. You each showed a unique take on my firestarter.

    Plasticweld-Making stuff grow(640)
    spag 3/5
    Tone/voice 4/5
    Creativity 4/5
    Effect 5/10
    Overall 16/25

    Comments: Plasticweld great work on creating a different scene than the firestarter. I liked how you introduced two very different characters. You also managed to convey the landscaper prompt without acctually mentioning the word. However at times I found a couple of your words threw me as I was reading one of which was fucken, it intterupted thepace and tone that you had begun establishing, tothe point where I had to google the word to make sure it was not a missspelling.

    Anonymous-Sweet Meay.(700)

    spag 4/5
    Tone/voice 4/5
    Creativity 4/5
    Effect 19/25

    Comments: I enjoyed this entry. You took the firestarter a really made it your own I felt. I loved the character of Miss Tizzywick greatly her near silence was genius. The spag let the piece down for me, "The thrill of the contest, the love of soil?" This in my opinion would have read better if you had it seperated into two questions. Itinterupts the fast pace that you had established. I also enjoyed the twist st the end as Idid not see it coming but once it had happened you tied your title in nicely.

    rcallaci-Tea time in paradise.(700)
    Spag 5/5
    Tone/voice 4/5
    Creativity 3/5
    Effect 5/10
    Overall 17/25

    Comments:Rcallaci I thoroughly enjoyed your entry as you kept the basic of the firestarter but made it your own by adding the supernatural element of other worlds and dimensions. However I felt that using the spiders that you used in last months challenge let down the overall creativity of the piece. I could not find any spag isues and felt that you had set an nice pace with your writing drawing me into your world.

    *Firestarter is H. Brown .
    “Competition Time.” (588 words).

    Writing a firestarter is not easy. It is rushed, and it has elements which must be included. So, a landscaper is an entrant in the Chelsea Flower Show, with a fairy tale garden and rain outside. A simple scene, exploring the final minutes before the first day of showing and judging. Not much scope for depth of conflict, so the scene relies on the reader’s understanding of the journey among the plants.
    A lot of SPaG issues were noted.


    Is what they all told me I would be.

    That is exactly what I was.

    But look at me now. I thought[O1] as I looked out over the stadium.

    The camera crews were setting up, lights were being erected, the sound booth was up and waiting. Everyone was getting their gardens [O2] ready and a hush had fallen over the place. It[O3] was the gardening event of the year and every landscaper with enough skill was here in this domed greenhouse. Many had applied and had their gardens evaluated but only fifty of us had succeeded in competing from across the length and breadth of England. My palms were sweating as I waited looking out over my handiwork.

    I’d used all my landscaping know-how to create what looked like a scene straight from a book[O4] , a fairytale[O5] complete with a toadstool ring at the start. I’d called it Where the Fairies Play.

    It had so many layers. Leaving the toadstools behind[O6] I walked to the back of my space and took it all in. There against the back was a row of wild blackberries bushes[O7] , these were lined with a boarder [O8] of Begonia’s [O9] their orange flowers small pin-pricks of light amongst the thorns.

    I could imagine crawling between the branches and coming face to face with a tiny being. The small path lead [O10] you away from the stone bench and you saw the pin-pricks of red, yellow and blue foxglove flowers that peeped from between the grassy Alboaurea[O11] .

    Turning the slight bend in the path[O12] you came upon a small tidy pond. When the fountain was flowing[O13] you would hear the tinkling of falling water but wouldn’t be able to see it. Bordering the pond was an edge of Zebrainus [O14] grass. Its fluffy top made a carpet that dripped into the waters [O15] edge. Then ringing that[O16] from the halo of hanging baskets[O17] fell the fushia[O18] . Its deep pink and purple flowers created an intimate space where I’d placed yet another small bench tucked beneath the leaves of the willow tree that was the garden’s focal point.

    I[O19] continued on down the path until it turned from wood chips to gravel amongst the bluebells and giant daisies. I glanced back over my shoulder and saw that the plants swallowed the path in the way I wished. The path seemed to disappear into the wall of plants. Steps lead [O20] me down under the arch of roses their scent covering me as I paused to admire my handiwork.

    Before me lay the barest patch of my exhibition. The entrance where I’d strewn Lavender [O21] and heather to create a soft carpet of flowers.

    The only colours amongst the shades of purple came from the artistically placed Arum [O22] lilies ha poked up o the height of two foot[O23] .

    Sighing[O24] I realised I couldn’t do anymore.

    Looking up[O25] I stared at the glass roof, [O26] outside the sky was a deep grey and lightening [O27] split the sky in a forked branch. I heard no thunder unless you counted the sound of hammers still ringing somewhere in the dome. Sheets of water streamed over the glass creating its own waterfall. I’d been so focused on the gardening I’d not noticed the rain.

    I was suddenly worried it would make people say [O28] home, that no-one would come and see my display. The royal Chelsea Flower Show [O29] was a week long [O30] event but the opening day was today. So I preyed [O31] for the rain to stop as I stayed bone dry in this glasshouse.

    [O1]Comma after thought

    [O2]Singular – one = garden

    [O3]Should be a new par.

    [O4]Colon, not comma.


    [O6]comma, and behind is superfluous.

    [O7]either wild blackberries, or blackberry bushes, not this. Also, a semi-colon after.

    [O8]Border = edge; boarder = lodger or tenant.

    [O9]Should not be title capped, and no apostrophe, and a comma after

    [O10]Present tense = leads; past tense = led; otherwise you need to add a modifier, a modal verb (eg, should, can) which behaves as a future (will) rather than a present.

    [O11]Again, not title capped.



    [O14]Again, not capped and it’s zebrinus.

    [O15]Apostrophe = water’s



    [O18]it’s fuchsia

    [O19]The guided tour switches from the generic you – second person – to the personal I – first person without cause.

    [O20]If this is not present tense – and it shouldn’t be – then again = led.

    [O21]Again, not capped – lavender.

    [O22]Again, not capped – arum.

    [O23]I’m guessing this = that poked up to a height of two feet.




    [O27]lightning; lightening = making or becoming lighter.

    [O28]Stay, yes?

    [O29]OK – this is a shortened version of a proper title, and therefore should be title capped – The Royal Horticultural Society’s Chelsea Flower Show; applies to any Royal Show.

    [O30]Week-long is still hyphenated, I believe.

    [O31]Prayed, not preyed, unless hunting is your way to stop rain.

    *Bob Brown (Plasticweld)
    “Making Stuff Grow” 640 words
    Spelling/Grammar: 3.9
    Tone/Voice: 4.5
    Effect: 8
    Colour: 3.6

    Overall: 20

    Bob chose personality and slice of life, and it worked as far as it went. Whether it is the writer/narrator or Lenny who is the landscaper is not clear, as is the nature of the show, but we got a mostly readable and enjoyable glance at a working relationship.
    Some SPaG issues noted.

    I had the urge to wake him up…[O1] not for any real reason, it just bothers me that the fucken [O2] guy could fall asleep anywhere in a matter of seconds, today was no different.

    I’m stuck with Lenny, [O3] it’s kind of a favor to his dad, a long-time friend of mine.

    Lenny is a good worker when he’s not hung over, [O4] a malady that seems to affect him at least once a week. He will then complain of some mystery flue [O5] or bad food that somehow got the best of him.

    Lenny is ready to go most mornings even when I know he feels like shit, [O6] that really does take some doing. He is always there ready to help…[O7] loyal like a good hunting dog.

    I couldn’t really tell his dad no… [O8] good friends don’t do that, and I have known Lenny since he was a kid, he is kind of like family.

    I would make it just a few miles from the house when my phone would ring… [O9] I answer it with the most upbeat voice I have, like I just won the lottery.

    He keeps trying, I respect him for that,[O10] but it has never changed my mind.

    He looks at me with one eye open, [O11] and a smile on his face.

    Lenny can do more than grow just [O12] flowers

    [O1]Comma or em-dash

    [O2]Popular misspelling of fucking in some circles; generally frowned upon, even by the Urban Dictionary.

    [O3]Semi-colon or period, new sentence.


    [O5]Flu – short form of influenza; flue = piped vent for hot air, waste gases and smoke


    [O7]Semi-colon or at least a comma

    [O8]Semi-colon or em-dash


    [O10]Either bracketing em-dashes, or semi-colon before and comma after

    [O11]No comma, or delete and

    [O12]Either Lenny can grow more than just flowers, or Lenny can do more than (just) grow flowers.

    *Anonymous entry
    “Sweet Meats” 700 words

    Spelling/Grammar: 4
    Tone/Voice: 4
    Effect: 7.5
    Colour: 4

    Overall: 19.5

    “In a forgotten meadow, hidden by branches of swaying xxxxx, notched within the shadow of the giant xxxx, dwells an ancient she-magic.” Plant labelling issues aside, this is the gold in the piece. Forget the challenge. Take this sentence and go and write the real story.

    I normally don’t have a problem with cliché village characters, or carnivorous hybrids (triffid X Audrey II), or little old ladies turned bully, but this time didn’t ring the bell. The skill exhibited in sentence crafting suggests that so much more is possible from this writer. Extend yourself.

    Minor SPaG issues, and labelling shortfalls, noted.

    In a forgotten meadow, hidden by branches of swaying palmatum[O1] , notched within the shadow of the giant amanita[O2], dwells an ancient she-magic.

    Such Gardeners [O3] as these were wariful [O4] hard to please.

    A brass brand chuntered into strident life, stamping through a sea-shanty[O5] .
    Her crones’ [O6] grasp touched his sausage fingers with the barest caress. Someone was shoving a camera into her nose[O7].

    … he announced into the camera’s snout[O8] with an expansive sweep in her direction. His voice repeated off distant walls like a thunder-god’s. “A complete and unknown [O9] recluse,

    Rain ticked down and something rustled behind the begonias [O10] as she hummed a long-dead threnody,

    His mouth entered a downturn of canonical disgust as a great orange Flower [O11] leapt a drainage ditch and hurried to his side,

    “It’s sweet meats [O12] she wants.”

    [O1]Branches of swaying hand-like? Likely acer palmatum – the Japanese maple – as rheum palmatum would not be described as having swaying branches; although it might apply to lygodium palmatum – a type of fern. Palmatum is a botanical (and zoological) descriptor meaning like an open hand.

    [O2]OK, this time it is a hypertrophic version of a genus of fungi which includes many toxic and some hallucinogenic species; most popular include amanita muscaria – the well-known fairy toadstool - and amanita phalloides – the death cap.

    [O3]Why title-capped?

    [O4]Wareful, I believe.

    [O5]Not hyphenated.

    [O6]Only one crone = crone’s

    [O7]Really? Intra-nasal vision?

    [O8]The same camera that was shoved into Miss T’s nose, right? Not a lot of room, then, for expansive sweeps, don’t you think?

    [O9]Hardly unknown, considering her reputation as described above. And hardly a complete recluse, else she would not be out mixing with horticulturists.

    [O10]With nearly 1800 species, the begonias are a genus with flowers that have sepals but no petals; many are grown for their foliage. Begonia species can range in height from 6 inches (15 cm) to more than 12 feet (4 m).

    [O11]Why title-capped?

    [O12]I don’t suppose it’s worth pointing out that sweetmeats are confectionary, and not meats at all; sweetbreads are meats.

    ”Tea Time in Paradise” (700 words)

    Spelling/Grammar: 3.5
    Tone/Voice: 4.5
    Effect: 7.5
    Colour: 4.5
    Overall: 20

    Guaranteed to pick up on the fairy tale garden aspect of the firestarter, right Bob? As the start of a longer story with plenty of conflict and action, this has real promise. As a stand-alone scene, the second last par is an awkward info-dump.

    As always, I enjoyed the vision you manage to convey.

    SPaG and odd nits noted.

    An infinitesimal sliver of a crack [O1] opened up into the dimensional vortex that swirled through the multi-verse. A hundred thousand pixadillows [O2] (called pixies in the common worlds) wedged their way through that crack and slipped into one of those mundane worlds where humanity festered.

    It was their pixie magic that [O3] opened that rift in a desperate attempt to flee the ravenous spider queen, Yukilamia. Their home world was becoming [O4] a feasting ground for Yukilamia and her itzy bitsy [O5] little babies.

    The pixadillows were a delicacy, a magical morsel that enhanced and reinforced the spider queen and her babies own [O6]magical auras, as well as being finger licking good. The[O7] pixadillows had a somber choice to make, to stay and eventually be eaten, or live in the lands where magic; [O8] beauty and imagination were stunted. They chose to leave and live secretly amongst the human chattel[O9] .

    It was one hell of a rainy day with thunderous explosions and lightning flashes. Inside the greenhouse[O10] one of the competing landscapers, Duncan Dittleford, was deep in thought.

    All the great landscapers throughout the world [O11] were entered into this event. If he took 1st [O12] Prize he would be world renown[O13] , a peer amongst the greats. Duncan’s heart was pounding; the doors would open to the public in less than an hour.

    Alarm spread throughout his body[O14] , it sounded like a malfunctioning part in the sprinkler system.

    “No you’re not, Master Gardner[O15] ”, said a melodious voice in his ear.”

    Duncan felt that he had no choice but to accept, [O16] he only had his sanity to lose.

    He found himself [O17] transported to a land out of fairy tale.

    Standing before him were the most beautiful beings he ever laid eyes behind[O18] .

    When he awoke, Duncan found himself [O19] in a bed of leaves.

    One of the pixies lifted him up and said[O20] ,

    “We are grateful to you for creating this garden. It was with [O21] your loving hands that gave it the magic we needed to make it a home. We invite you to remain with us till the end days. Although this garden only existed less than a week in your time it has lasted over a thousand cycles in ours. Within[O22] the next five minutes Yukilamia’s granddaughter, Mothdread, the Beast Monster, will come to eat the world. Those five minutes is well over a hundred years in ours. The thunder, rain, and lightning are her trumpets announcing Mothdread’s coming. Stay with us, embrace joy, find your bliss, and enjoy the fruits of your efforts[O23] .”

    Laughing joyfully, Duncan accepted their offer...

    [O1]As a phrase, this is both overkill and a contradiction in terms: infinitesimal is suggestive but not empirically definitive, and therefore relative to the environmental scalar dimension. I’d venture it wasn’t that small to the one hundred thousand pixies who managed to wedge themselves through it.

    A sliver is a small narrow piece of a thing; a crack, conversely, is any length of a narrow absence of thing.

    Try: A crack appeared in the hyper-dimensional vortex that was the multiverse.

    [O2]Wouldn’t it have been much more fun to call them peccadilloes?

    [O3]It was = superfluous, and required the repeat of that in the sentence.

    Try: Their pixie magic opened etc. Or: They used pixie magic to open etc.

    [O4]Forget becoming; the story makes it clear it already is a feasting ground.

    [O5]Either both z or both s – one of each doesn’t work.

    [O6]Talking here about ownership of magical auras: the spider queen’s and her babies’ own etc.

    [O7]New par


    [O9]Generally as a noun: chattels; although chattel has recently found use as a generic collective noun in America, likening it to cattle.



    [O12]spell it out = First

    [O13]either: be world renowned; or gain world renown.

    [O14]Clunky phrasing, lacking the speed or urgency of alarm; more like the horror of disease, or the wash of a drug. Also, semi-colon or em-dash after body.


    [O16]Semi-colon, em-dash, or period, new sentence.

    [O17]Finding himself might be a life-changing experience, but a simple was would be clearer.

    [O18]An odd choice of preposition, especially when they were standing before him. Got a thing for beautiful behinds, has he? Most people lay eyes on.

    [O19]There he goes, finding himself again.

    [O20]No par break here

    [O21]No, lose with.

    [O22]New par

    [O23]What sort of bliss can be found in one hundred years of thunder, rain, and lightning? How did Mothdread, two generations removed, know where to find the pixies? What did rain and thunderstorms mean before the flower show? How can Duncan be joyful at the prospect of pixie extinction within a pixie century? If Duncan cared at all, wouldn’t he be using that five minutes to scoop up the pixies and getting the flock outta there?

    This last-minute info-dump spoils the moment somewhat.
    Last edited by Cran; August 11th, 2017 at 09:23 PM.
    "When it feels scary to jump, that is exactly when you jump, otherwise you end up staying in the same place your whole life, and that I can't do." -Abel Morales - A Most Dangerous Year.

  2. #2
    This was quite fun--congrats to BD Charles-well deserved. Lots of writers on WF are missing out on a great challenge. This is a excellent writing tool to open up ones creativity by making someone else's work or ideas your own as well.

    Thanks to sleepwriter for hosting and keeping this challenge alive..

    And my super thanks to our judges, H Brown, and our esteemed patron and owner Cran.

    To H Brown- I'm glad you enjoyed this piece and well understand why you felt I lacked creativity by re-introducing The Spider Queen and her babes in this piece as well. I write from a specific worldview--- All my pieces uses characters and story-lines that exist in my alternate universe. In these challenges, as well as short stories,and poems I write on WF, I try to incorporate my universe that exists in my head --thank you for your critique and scores I enjoyed your firestarter...

    Cran- as usual your critique from an editors eye was outstanding. I incorporated and corrected my spag and nits -I also have changed the pixadillows to peccadilloes--I will expand on this short and work on that paragraph you found wanting - Your crits are invaluable --my thanks.

    Nature weeps, the devil sings
    at mans greed and pride
    and what it brings

    Just lots of useless
    little things

  3. #3
    Congrats to bdcharles - a lot of promise in that writing.

    Bob - I've done much the same with the few challenge entries I've submitted. Can't wait to see the book when it's ready.

    PlasticBob - you've been stepping up your game. Well done, and I hope to see more from you.

    Thanks to Sleeps and Hannah for your continued efforts, and to everyone who supports this challenge.
    "I don't know ... I'm making it up as I go ..." - Dr I Jones

    Nature abhors perfection - cats abhor a vacuum!

    "Faith can move mountains - she's a big girl!" (unknown/graffiti)

    If I act like I own the place, it's because I do.

  4. #4
    Well done, BD. All the entries were really good.

  5. #5
    Wɾ¡ʇ¡∩9 bdcharles's Avatar
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    Jul 2015
    In a far-distant otherworld.
    Blog Entries
    Ah wow. Thanks for this, and for a great fire starter and judging guys. Was a real close one so it's an honour to be so considered alongside my fellow entrants!

    Beauty is nothing but the beginning of terror which we are barely able to endure, and are awed,
    because it serenely disdains to annihilate us.
    - Rainer Maria Rilke, "Elegy I"


    Is this fire, or is this mask?
    It's the Mantasy!
    - Anonymous


    C'mon everybody, don't need this crap.
    - Wham!

  6. #6
    Global Moderator H.Brown's Avatar
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    Thank you all for entering this month you all turned out excellent stories. Well done to bd for winning this month.

    Thank you Cran for not only judging the entries but on your in-depth critique of my firestarter. I shy away from using comma's in my writing and this has been pointed out to me before and I am trying to work on it.

    My thanks to Sleep for keeping this challenge going each month. ��
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  7. #7
    Quote Originally Posted by H.Brown View Post
    Thank you all for entering this month you all turned out excellent stories. Well done to bd for winning this month.

    Thank you Cran for not only judging the entries but on your in-depth critique of my firestarter. I shy away from using comma's in my writing and this has been pointed out to me before and I am trying to work on it.

    My thanks to Sleep for keeping this challenge going each month. ��

    I hear ya on the comma thing, so I sometimes put way to many.
    "When it feels scary to jump, that is exactly when you jump, otherwise you end up staying in the same place your whole life, and that I can't do." -Abel Morales - A Most Dangerous Year.

  8. #8
    Global Moderator H.Brown's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Sleepwriter View Post
    I hear ya on the comma thing, so I sometimes put way to many.
    It was once the case with me, then it kept being pointed out to me so now I over correct and use to little. I'm sure one day I will get it right, but I wouldn't say no Cran critiquing my novel when it's finished as he pointed out loads that I didn't notice myself.
    Fancy joining a photgraphy group? The check out the Thousand Words group.

    Visit My Blog to get to know me better.

    New Writers Bunch
    A fun group of like minded new writers.

    Young WritersA place for young writers to talk and chill.

    Why not check out the Literary Maneuvers Coffee Shop and join in the latest challenge discussions.


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