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Flash fiction Contest!















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This season we had an open prompt. Our only guidelines were that the entries be fiction with a minimum of 250 words, and a maximum of 500 words. So, enjoy the creativity and diversity!

   

Thanks to our Guest Judge:

Literary Agent, Kristin Nelson

WOW! was honored to have Guest Judge, Kristin Nelson, choose our Winter season’s top winners. It’s obvious that Kristin is a professional. Her expedience and focus helped make our contest rise to new heights. Thank you, Kristin, for sharing your time and efforts to make these contestants’ dreams come true.

To share your thanks, please visit www.nelsonliterary.com, or Kristin’s blog, www.pubrants.blogspot.com, and email her personally.

Kristin Nelson established the Nelson Literary Agency in 2002. In such a short time, she has sold more than 65 books to such publishers as Random House, Hyperion, Harlequin, Simon & Schuster, Hachette/Warner and the Penguin Group. She has landed several film deals and has contracted foreign rights on behalf of her clients in all the major territories. Her authors are RITA-award winners and USA Today bestsellers. She specializes in representing commercial fiction (romance, women's fiction, science fiction, fantasy, young adult) and literary fiction with a commercial bent. She also considers a few nonfiction projects that tend to be story-based, such as memoir and narrative nonfiction.

Clients include Ally Carter (I'd Tell You I Love You But Then I'd Have to Kill You), Sherry Thomas (Private Arrangements), Linnea Sinclair (Gabriel's Ghost and Games of Command), Shanna Swendson (Enchanted, Inc. series), Kim Reid (No Place Safe), and Jennifer O'Connell (Everything I Needed To Know About Being A Girl I Learned From Judy Blume). Member: AAR, RWA, SFWA.

And just in case you missed it, WOW! also interviewed Kristin in our November Issue: The Inside Scoop from Nelson Literary.

   

Special Note to Contestants:

We’d love to give every contest entrant a prize just for their writing efforts. Of course, that’s not a possibility, and it could only work in an ideal world. One of the hardest things we do after a contest wraps up is confirm that someone didn’t place in the winners’ circle. But we believe it when we say that every one of our contestants is a true winner.

Every writer has been a gracious participant through the whole process, from the beginning of one season to the next. We’ve written emails to authors, agents, and publicists who have donated books to our contest, and we’ve shared our delight regarding the true sportsmanship among our contests’ writers. It’s true.

It doesn’t matter if it’s one writer who placed or another who tried but didn’t; all writers are courteous, professional, and wonderful extensions of WOW! Women On Writing’s team. Writers’ stories and e-mails fill us with enthusiasm. We’ve received numerous compliments over this past year, comments from, “Thank you, I’ll try again!” to “I’m just glad to have entered,” or “I’m looking forward to the next one.”

Kudos to all writers who entered, whether you won or not, you’re still a winner for participating.

***

To recap our current process, we have a roundtable of 4-7 judges who blindly score equally formatted submissions based on: Style, Subject, Content, and Technical. That’s the first step of the process. If a contestant scores well on the first round, she (or he) receives an e-mail notification that she passed the initial judging phase. The second round judging averages out scores and narrows down the top 35 entries. From this point, our guest judge helps to determine the First, Second, and Third Place Winners, followed by the Runners Up.

As with any contest, judging many talented writers is not a simple process. With blind judging, all contestants start from the same point, no matter the skill level, experience, or writing credentials. It’s the writer’s story and voice that shines through, along with the originality, powerful and clear writing, and the writer’s heart.

***

We’ve enjoyed reading your stories, each and every one of them. The WOW! Women On Writing judges take time to read them all. We recognize names of previous contestants, writers familiar with our style. We enjoy getting to know you through your writing and e-mailing. Remember that each one of you is a champion in our book. We hope that you continue to enter so we can watch you grow as writers and storytellers, because each season is a rebirth of opportunity.

Now on to the winners!

Drum roll please....

1st Place:  Cynthia Boiter
Chapin, South Carolina
Congratulations Cynthia!

Cynthia’s Bio:

Cynthia Boiter is an award-winning freelance writer of fiction, non-fiction and poetry whose work has appeared in such publications as Southern Living, Woman's Day, Family Circle, Parenting, American Baby and Brides, as well as regional and local publications. She is a five-time winner of the South Carolina Fiction Project, a three-time winner of the Piccolo Fiction Open, a former creative non-fiction fellow with the SC Academy of Authors, and the recipient of both the Irene B. Tauber and the Porter Fleming Awards for non-fiction and fiction, respectively. When she is not writing she is a member of the adjunct faculty in the Women's Studies Program at the University of South Carolina. She is currently working on a book with her husband on beer and travel, tentatively titled, Bob, Beer and Me.

Printable View


Dobie

Timbro Wallace was a practical man; a decent man who wanted nothing but peace for his wife, Dobie; nothing but peace and satisfaction with the world in which she lived. That’s why Timbro was frustrated almost to the point of anger when these big thinking women came around filling his wife’s head with nonsense about paints and stitchery and photographs and such. Wanted her to go down to the armory and stick her hands in the mud and make pots and pans and whatnot out of it, and pay good money for the privilege of doing so. He’d never heard of such a thing.

“You can pout all you want,” he told her from his place at the kitchen table where he awaited his dinner. “I’m just trying to save you some heartache is all I’m doing.”

“I ain’t pouting,” Dobie answered, her face pink from the heat as she arranged her carrots and potatoes like flowers in bloom around the limp knot of roasted pork on the platter.

Timbro spread his hardened hands on the tablecloth before him, positioning his fingers just so around the spirals and curly-cues Dobie had embroidered on a piece of fabric she had rescued from his mother’s attic. He had an obligation to protect his wife from frivolities, he reminded himself. Left to her own devices, there’d be no telling how she might spend both her time and his money.

Dobie smoothed the intricate braid at the back of her head then polished a smudge from a jelly jar before pouring Timbro a glass of sweet tea infused with mint from her garden. She carefully folded a cloth, quilted in shades of blue, into a perfect square and placed it in the middle of the kitchen counter to balance the yellow of a bowl full of apples, glossy and red. She pinched a sprig of larkspur from a pot in her kitchen window and placed it in the button hole of a corduroy dress she had cut down and sewn from one of Timbro’s old brown suits, the lavender, stirring her eyes and causing them to dance as she approached the table, supper in hand.

Seating herself to his side, Dobie looked on as her husband served up the meal.

“Besides,” Timbro told her, sniffing and shaking salt on his food before raising a fork. “Let’s face it—you’re a housewife. Creativity ain’t got nothing to do with that.”

Dobie looked out the window at the sun setting like a ripe peach in a puddle of cranberry juice and nodded her head. Reaching for a potato, peeled and trimmed into a perfect sphere, she slowly began to hum.

***

What Cynthia Won:

  • $200.00 Cash Prize
  • Publication of winning story on WOW-WomenOnWriting.com website
  • A WOW! and W. W. Norton Prize Pack
  • $50.00 certificate to spend at the WOW! Boutique
  • A Year’s Subscription to Premium-Green Markets
  • Interview on WOW!’s blog The Muffin
2nd Place:  Linda Courtland
Sierra Madre, California
Congratulations Linda!

Linda’s Bio:

Linda Courtland lives and writes in Los Angeles. Her flash fiction has appeared in Flashes of Speculation, Fictional Musings, FlashShot, and MySpace News. Three of her stories were chosen for inclusion in the print anthology, Six Sentences, Volume 1, available on Amazon in mid-April. Linda was recently invited to San Francisco to read her work at the Soul-Making Literary Prize Awards, and after the reading, she's looking forward to sailing by the Golden Gate Bridge at sunset, enroute to the super-scary night tour of Alcatraz.

Contact her at LCourtland@gmail.com

Printable View


Change Management

He stands in front of the supermarket, shoving a cup at each cart.

“Change?” he says.

A woman drifts toward the entrance.

“Hail the crusaders,” he says to passing shoppers.

The woman pauses mid-step, forgetting why she came.

“You all right, miss?” he asks.

“I'm sick,” she says.

“The angels, they cry.”

She stares at runny eyes, watching her reflection melt. His cough smells like chemicals.

“Do you have a cigarette?” she asks.

He reaches up one sleeve, pulling on a pack of generics.

“How much for one?”

“My gift.”

She slides it out of the crumpled pack. “You have a light?”

“Can't smoke right here,” he says.

They walk through rain: she, in a stylish suit; he, in torn pants secured by orange string.

His fingers shield the tiny flame. They sit at a stone table, staring at the night sky.

“The light from Saturn's too damn bright,” he says.

She stifles a cough.

He moves his lips, talking to the stars.

She had quit smoking ten years ago. Since then, she followed the food pyramid, drank plenty of water, did yoga and Pilates.

“I'm supposed to start chemo tomorrow,” she says.

“Noah fills arks to save Earth,” he says.

“My husband doesn't know.”

He smiles. “They clone them, two by two.”

She crushes ashes with her foot.

He lights a second cigarette from the fiery tip of the first. “Want another?”

“Yeah.”

He passes her the pack.

“Secrets ain't good,” he says.

“The truth isn't good, either.”

He eavesdrops on a conversation inside his head.

“I wanted to tell him.” She crosses her legs. “But it never seemed like the right time.”

He blows smoke rings.

“Noah sails every Sunday,” he says.

“Tell him to take me.”

“He only take animals. Noah don't like people.”

“Why not?” she asks.

“I got to get back to work.” He stubs out the half-smoked cigarette and puts it in his pocket.

She opens her purse. “Here, let me give you something.”

He grabs her wrist. The strength in his gnarled hand scares her.

“Lady, you know how long it's been since someone sat down and talked to me?”

She shakes her head.

“Eons,” he says, releasing his grip.

She exhales a puff of smoke.

He trudges toward the concrete portico.

“Your husband,” he says, facing away. “He still love you if you tell him.”

She throws her lit cigarette into a puddle. “Don't you see?”

He retreats to his post, asking strangers for change.

“I'm different now!” she screams at him.

“We all different,” he says to the store.

***

What Linda Won:

  • $150.00 Cash Prize
  • Publication of winning story on WOW-WomenOnWriting.com website
  • A WOW! and W. W. Norton Prize Pack
  • $50.00 certificate to spend at the WOW! Boutique
  • A Year’s Subscription to Premium-Green Markets
  • Interview on WOW!’s blog The Muffin
3rd Place  :
Danette Haworth
Orlando, Florida
Congratulations Danette!

Danette’s Bio:

Danette Haworth was first published at six-years-old, when she created a comic book series starring Peter Pan. Each comic book featured a green stickboy, a red stickman, and all the hair-raising conflict a six-year-old can conjure up. These marvelous adventures usually ended with a defeated Captain Hook raising his sword, shouting, “I’ll get you, Pan!” Danette’s mother still has the first edition, so carefully colored and stapled all those years ago.

After earning a BA in English, Danette landed a job as a technical writer, which was a fun position because she got to play in tank simulators and explain to scientists that possessive its does not have an apostrophe. She later worked as a travel writer for a well-known automobile club, one of the best jobs she’d ever held; she read history books, interviewed people on the telephone, looked at travel brochures, and got paid for doing this!

Danette cannot remember a time when she did not write. But she has stopped illustrating, at least until the market is ready for some really good stickmen.

Her middle-grade novel, Violet Raines Almost Got Struck By Lightning, is due Fall 2008 with Walker Books For Young Readers.

Visit Danette at her website, Danette Haworth: http://www.danettehaworth.com, or her blog, Summer Friend: http://www.summerfriend.blogspot.com.

 

Printable View


Intersection

I pull up to the red light behind the SUV I’ve been following the past couple miles. White stick figures, the kind that represent family members, are stuck on the back windshield. A boy, two girls, and a mom.

I lean forward and squint. I can see remnants of the dad sticker, slivers of the place he once held in the family.

I snort and sit back. Divorced. Wonder what he did. Probably didn’t pay enough attention to her. A workaholic. Maybe an alcoholic. Late every night, whiskey on his breath. I shake my head. What about the kids? And the support check—late every month, the bastard.

Oh wait, maybe he died. She finally peeled his sticker off, unable to bear any reminders, but still, thank God the boy looks just like him. She faces the world brave and alone, noble in her widowhood.

I wipe my eyes and catch the couple on my left. There’s a high school pregnancy in the making. She’s driving, so it must be her car. He probably doesn’t even help pay for gas. Even so, I blame her—she’s got the car, but he’s the one taking her for a ride. He leans into her and I can’t see what his hand is doing, but his upper arm and shoulder move rhythmically. He’ll have had four new girlfriends before the baby is born. College, business—his future will remain unchanged. She, on the other hand, will weep in her room after using the pregnancy test.

What can she do? She looks like a nice girl and her car is clean. She will keep the baby. But all her plans will be ruined. Her parents will not stick by her. She will end up on welfare while he graduates college and becomes a lawyer.

I blare my horn while staring directly at them. They startle and disentangle. She adjusts her blouse. He shifts into his own seat and glances my way. I purse my lips and glare at him—I’ve got my eye on you.

When I face forward, the widow in the SUV with white stickers looks at me in her side view mirror. I wave, smile and shake my head: I wasn’t honking at you. Lord knows I don’t want to add to her troubles.

The trucker on my right is up so high, only his shoulders, chest, and muscular arm are visible to me. I wonder what parts of me are visible to him. The angle would be right for him to see my legs. Has he been looking at them? Or does he not even pay attention? He thinks I’m just a mom in a van. But I don’t have big hips or thighs. My legs still look good. It wouldn’t kill him to look at my legs.

Just as I glance in the rearview mirror, the light turns green. We press our gas pedals and move forward together.

***

What Danette Won:

  • $100.00 Cash Prize
  • Publication of winning story on WOW-WomenOnWriting.com website
  • A WOW! and W. W. Norton Prize Pack
  • $50.00 certificate to spend at the WOW! Boutique
  • A Year’s Subscription to Premium-Green Markets
  • Interview on WOW!’s blog The Muffin

THANK YOU TO OUR CONTEST SPONSOR:

It is the sincere desire of W. W. Norton, that each writer will keep his or her focus. Be wholesouled, and never give up. Because here’s your proof that there are many, many people who want to see you succeed.

As much as we all value words, the right ones, we acknowledge that actions speak louder than words. So, as each of you receives your gifts, listen carefully to the encouragement and write, write, write.

Please show your support by visiting their website http://www.wwnorton.com and signing up for their newsletter to keep up with the latest. And, when you receive your prize-packs, be sure to email them and send a thank you.

A special heartfelt thank you goes to Steve Colca for organizing the sponsorship, and to publicist, Erin Lovett, and her assistant, Winfreda Mbewe, for providing us with fabulous interviewees. You all have been terrific to work with, and we look forward to working with you for a very long time.

RUNNERS UP (In no particular order):

Congratulations to the runners-up! It was very close, and these stories are excellent in every way. Enjoy each one’s story!

Click on their entries to read:

Staring at Soles by Allie Comeau, Fort Collins, Colorado

Facing Faith by Kim Hytinen, Howell, Michigan

Magic Carpet Ride by Kim Hytinen, Howell, Michigan

Kidnapped by Rebecca Jens, Fort Mill, South Carolina

Have a Nice Day by Stephanie Haefner, Depew, New York

Worthwhile by Sarah Brady, Portsmouth, Virginia

The Tenth Wife by Andrea Dennin, Las Vegas, Nevada

What the Runners Up Won:

  • Publication of winning story on WOW-WomenOnWriting.com website
  • A Prize Pack from WOW! and W. W. Norton
  • A Year’s Subscription to Premium-Green Markets
  • Interview on WOW!’s blog The Muffin

HONORABLE MENTIONS (In no particular order):

Congratulations to the Honorable Mentions!
Your stories stood out and are excellent in every way.

Alone in A Crowd by Rachel McClain, Dayton, Ohio

Taking Lives by Melinda Stanners, Gawler East, South Australia, Australia

Chin Hair by Karen Kirchler, Panama City, Florida

Salvation by Jyoti Roy, Seattle, Washington

A Quarter for Your Thoughts by Madeline Mora-Summonte, Sarasota, Florida

Drive! by Laura Havens, Attleboro Falls, Massachusetts

Jiffy Brain by B. Lynn Goodwin, Danville, California

String Theory by Kat Bretcher, Cottonwood, Arizona

Water to Wine by L. J. Pike

Fifteen Minutes Late by Virginia Hayes, St. Louis, Missouri

Waiting by Gayle Trent, Bristol, Virginia

The Stag by Lisa Tedder, Jonesboro, Arkansas

One Sock, Two Sock, Three Sock, War by Deb Hill, Marengo, Illinois

Weak at the Knees by Virginia Ball, Oroville, California

Bumps by Brandy Foster, Quincy, Ohio

Floating World by Teresita Perez, Agana Heights, Guam

Red or Pink? by Ann Keeling, Grass Valley, California

Nana’s Pinecones by Laurie Capece, Sandy, Utah

Once a Genie by Kate Anderson, Fresno, California

A Few Old Things by Amy Kinzer, Bothwell, Washington

What Comes from Believin’ by Deborah Marshall, Florissant, Missouri

Forgiveness by Catherine Trizzino, Darnestown, Maryland

The Moment by Nina Guilbeau, Ocoee, Florida

The Driving Lesson by Penny-Anne Beaudoin, Amherstburg, Ontario, Canada

Stripping Sylvia by Christine Fraser-Brisebois, Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada

What the Honorable Mentions Won:

  • A WOW! and W. W. Norton Prize Pack

IN CLOSING:

This brings our Winter 2008 Flash Fiction Contest officially to a close. Although we’re not able to send a special prize to every contestant, we will always give our heartfelt thanks for your participation and contribution, and for your part in making WOW! all that it can be. Each one of you has found the courage to enter, and that is a remarkable accomplishment in itself. We’re looking forward to receiving your entries for our/your Spring 2008 Contest, which is another flash fiction contest! Now, with critique, due to popular demand. Best of luck, and write on!

Check out our new Spring Contest, sponsored by Seal Press:

http://www.wow-womenonwriting.com/contest.php

** A big heartfelt thank you goes out to our contest manager, Sue Eberling, for giving our contest organization, voice, and special care.


 

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