This was a tough round for me to judge. The topic (EAVESDROPPING) lent itself to the reality that occurred, many cliche stories that didn’t even stick with me through the first reading.


My first reading was just that…a reading. I didn’t even write anything down. I just read them and let the stories wash over me or sink in. Let’s just say that the majority washed over. But, I kind of expected that from the moment I saw the prompt.

The next day, I went back and skimmed through to find the ones I “remembered” for some reason…all the once that sort of tickled my fancy or creeped me out (yes…there were a few) or were just memorable writing.

I also kept notes on the ones that just didn’t do it for me: the ones I found to be cliche (1, 4, 6, 7, 10, 20…), the ones that elicited a “meh” reaction from me (9,12,13, 22, 23, 24, 25, 30, 31, 33, 36, 38, 39, 40, 42, 43, 46, 48, 51, 52), the ones that had an interesting premise or started off good but then fell flat somehow (8, 11,16, 17, 18, 20, 27, 49, 50, 55), the ones that “questionably” may not have been on prompt (5, 14, 37, 45).

Several of these stories also did a similar thing that annoyed me as a reader. I know the word limit forces us to do a lot in a small amount of space – set scene, build character, stand out from the crowd, be erotic, and keep to the prompt – but several of these did a “I heard them fucking and I was so instantly horny that I was dripping wet and had to touch myself” thing that just got under my skin and irritated me as a reader (10, 12, 16, 20, 21…). I don’t think stories have to be realistic, but this quality made these stories rub the wrong way. Maybe it’s because so many did it that it became part of the cliche.


By time I was through the second reading, I had several “maybes” (2, 3, 9, 11,15, 19, 26, 28, 32, 34, 35, 41, 44, 47, 53, 54). And I walked away for awhile.


My third reading was difficult. Because now I had to narrow the “maybe” list down to 10 choices for submission. I followed a process where I deleted all the other entries from my word document and then read the one at the top, #2. I moved on to #3, but I still liked #2 better, so I left them in that order. I moved on to #9 and like it better than #3, so I physically cut and pasted it further up in the rotation. I did this for all the stories until I had them in the order I thought ranked them from most liked to least liked. It’s not a process I’ve followed before, but for this round it seemed necessary. None of them leaped out as “I fucking loved this one…it’s first!” And none of them leaped out and said…”Hey, this one isn’t that great; go ahead and kick it to the curb.” I was actually a little surprised by my final results, but I went with them. However, the ones that ended up at the top of my list really did resonate with me, especially after 8 or 9 read-throughs.


My final ranking ended up with “Doing Time” at the top. It was good writing, fairly unique, and kept with the “erotic” theme. “Deliver of the Dead” came in second. The first time I read it, it sort of creeped me out, but it was definitely unique and sort of made me giggle. I so wanted to changed the title to “Deliverer of the Dead,” and I’m not sure if this was a typo or if I just don’t understand something…but it was a good story, well-written, and hard to forget, even from the first read-through. I had a hard time ranking “Chelsea Lays the Odds,” “Arranged Deprivation,” and “Selective Hearing.” Both “Chelsea…” and “Arranged…” were very well-written and had great endings that stayed with me, while “Selective Hearing” was also unique. Though I wasn’t sure I really liked the improbability of it, I bit my tongue and forced myself to accept genres that weren’t really my bag in honor of “good judging.” “Hackers are Perverts, Too” was cute and unique, so it made my list. And even though I felt “Close Call” and “The Interview” were borderline cliche, they were well-written, had good description, detail, and character development, built momentum, and ended strong. I struggled with “Got the Message.” I wanted to add it to my list, but I just couldn’t, given that it wasn’t really eavesdropping. And “Lake Effect,” though it made my list, wasn’t really erotic…it was just very good writing.

I realize that the judges marks are pretty all-over-the-place. We all look for different things and are all struck by different components of the writing. Some of us are drawn to a particular genre, others impacted by a particular style or tone. But, I believe all of us put in a great amount of time trying to select the very best of the stories submitted. Only one of my top 3 ended up being the same as the public vote or the jury vote (“Deliver of the Dead”). So, obviously I’m looking for something different in the writing than anyone else…which I guess is okay.

My top 3:

“Doing Time” Mr Ruby
“Deliver of the Dead” bluesubmission
“Chelsea Lays the Odds” Jayne Renault

If you’d like specific feedback on your story, please contact me. I’d be willing to let you know exactly what I thought of your story and suggest ways to improve. Believe me, I’m not shy about it…I do this for a living. 

And in closing: Congratulations to you all! You’ve made it to the next round. I know that feeling of intense relief…and then the overwhelm that can follow when the new prompt shows up in your mailbox! This next one is going to be great fun, and I can’t wait to see what you all come up with!

One Reply to “My Smut Marathon Thoughts- Round 4 (“Eavesdropping”)”

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