Although I really do like this, I think one of the reasons it may not have done well at camera club level is that the girl is in the left hand third of the image, looking out of the frame. There's not enough space to her left for her to be looking into. The ideal scenario (certainly as far as a lot of camera clubs like it ...) would have been if you'd just asked her to turn the other way so that she was looking out to the right hand side of the image, or alternatively to reposition yourself so that she's orientated the way she is here, but with much more space on the left of the image.
I love the concept behind the image though, and think that it definitely has some possibilities. I've done two mods, and I'll try and retrace the steps I did in order to get to those results. I used Photoshop, although I don't know what software you use - but in principle the theory behind the changes should be sound in other software.
I basically did a cut-and-shut job
Not the best in the world, but it does now give her space on the left of the image to 'reflect' into. I love the symbolism of the posy of flowers in her hand, and her downward gaze and introspective expression. It makes the viewer wonder what she's linking about ... a lost lover? A potential lover? Dinner?? (okay, that one's a joke ... )
Having done all that, and tried to get things lined up with the cloning, I then flattened all the layers and added an Adjustment Layer of Colour Lookup ...
and chose Candlelight.CUBE
3DLUT option (this is a Photoshop CS6 thing, and I don't think it's available on earlier versions; however, it's just another way of giving the overall image a different colour tone - I think other software may have similar options). Yes, by doing that it's taken out some of the blue and yellow tones in your original image, but I quite like the muted colour palette as I think it fits more with her dreamy, slightly 'otherworldly' expression of contemplation. I stayed with the 'Normal' blend mode, but adjusted the Opacity down to 75% on the Colour Lookup layer.
Using the flattened Mod1 version, I then just went into the Filter Gallery, chose Distort / Diffuse Glow
and used the settings of Graininess=0; Glow Amount=5; Clear Amount=15. Quit out of there, and flattened the image again to create Mod2.
I know my two mods are rather different to your original, but you did say in your description that "any creative version would be welcomed" so I've taken you at your word, and got a bit creative
I actually think it's a great image to start with, with bags of potential. Often, what's a creative image in one field is seen as abnormal, or not fitting the 'rules' in another. As you know, the rules are a great starting point, but sometimes you've just got to get a bit creative in order to create something that's on the edge of the box, if not outside it completely
Good luck with the resubmission, and I'd be really interested to see what version you end up with yourself from this