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Flash Fiction Contest!









Wow! Magazine Fall 2008 Contest





Truly Useful Site Award

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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, Wendy Sherman

WOW! was honored to have Guest Judge, Wendy Sherman, choose our Spring season’s top winners. Thank you, Wendy, for sharing your time and efforts to make these contestants’ dreams come true.

To share your thanks, please visit her website, Wendy Sherman Associates, Inc. www.wsherman.com, and email her personally.

Wendy Sherman launched her Agency in 1999 following a twenty-year career in publishing. Her experience includes being Associate Publisher and Executive Director of Henry Holt as well as positions as VP and Director of Sales, Marketing and Subsidiary Rights at Simon & Schuster and Macmillan. With this experience, the Agency offers a competitive edge to its clients.

Wendy Sherman Associates has an impressive roster of well established, critically acclaimed and award-winning clients that range from literary to more commercial, including Nani Power (Crawling at Night), Howard Bahr (The Black Flower), William Lashner (A Killers Kiss), Liam Callanan (All Saints) and famed actress Rue McClanahan (My First Five Husbands).

Attracting a wide range of fiction and non-fiction authors, the agency is especially well known for discovering new writers, including Therese Fowler, author of Souvenir one of the most talked about first novels of the year (March 2008, Random House/Ballantine), which is a Barnes & Noble New Reads Book Club choice, a Book Sense Notable and has been sold in eighteen countries (so far). With two younger agents, Michelle Brower and Emmanuelle Alspaugh, the Agency also attracts the next generation of writers.

And just in case you missed it, WOW! also interviewed Wendy in our November Issue: Secrets for Your Success: Signing the Perfect Agent: Interview with Wendy Sherman

   

Special Note to Contestants:

Phew! What a season! We bit off more than we could chew by offering critiques. To find out what it entailed, please check out this blog post Spring 2008 Flash Fiction Contest Update. Thanks to each and every one of you for being so patient.

While we’d love to give every contestant a prize, just for your writing efforts, that wouldn’t be much of a competition! One of the hardest things we do after a contest ends is to confirm that someone didn’t place in the winners’ circle. But, believe it when we say every one of you 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 contestants. 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.

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:  Amy Fuster
Grantville, Georgia
Congratulations Amy!

Amy’s Bio:



Amy Fuster lives outside metro Atlanta on nine acres with her husband of 18 years, their two sons, two dogs, and a dozen goldfish that live in her koi pond with a resident bullfrog. Her inner writer just recently emerged with a roaring battle cry for attention. Managing the home front, their numerous rental properties and the tenants who come with the territory, and pursuing her Black Belt in karate, are additional pursuits vying for her attention. She’s working on her first novel, Lottery Lost, in addition to grooming the writing beast with tools from the Long Ridge Writers Group Breaking Into Print course. Most recently, she’s been published as 3rd place winner in Newnan-Coweta Magazine’s writing contest, and a book review published in the LongRidge newsletter. Travel articles are soon to follow, as ten days recently spent in Hawaii provide a myriad of memories to motivate her muse.

 

Contact her at: fuster1up[at]Hughes[dot]net

Printable View


The Road Twisted Twice

The road twisted twice, and in between the curves an old mill house squatted. The last in a row hastily built for cotton mill workers who'd forever owe charges at the company store.

It wasn't the sagging front porch with a telephone pole crutch, nor the worn shingle siding that caught my eye, it was the well-worn woman decorating the porch that intrigued me.

As I slowed my Navigator to a respectable speed negotiating the left curve, my eyes wandered right to hers. I'd raced by before but didn't remember seeing houses, so little I took notice of the poverty I passed. But those soft eyes swelled the curiosity in me.

In a five second glance, long by glance standards, the mocha folds of skin cascading down her cheekbones, and gathered under her chin, were enriched by a set of eyes that shared, for the moment they held mine, a lifetime of forgiveness and mercy, grace and gratitude. Her presence was a proud gem nestled by the dull surroundings.

I held the curve and looked back for another second, not wanting to let the moment pass, but there was a crash looming if I didn't pay attention to where I was going.

I wondered where she had been. What scenes created the peace in her eyes, and contentment to sit on the porch projecting her memories right out into the dirt yard? So clearly that even I thought I could see them.

My imagination took over, but what I really wanted was to rewind, find her sitting just like that, and stop my life long enough to touch hers. To park the car and climb the steps, at a Georgia summer pace, and say "Good morning. Mind if I sit with you a spell?” And pull up a lawn chair, reach into her bucket for a handful of peas to shell and ask how she prepares them and she'd tell me... "You start with some fatback, fry it up good, and then...” She'd nourish my need to connect, not with that whole class, or race, but with this very individual soul of class and grace. Break through the garble of multitudes and listen to the cornhusk voice tell me, as if we were cousins, not strangers, how it is, and reminisce how it was when we picked cotton by hand.

The thing is, I never stopped. The next time I drove by she wasn't there, nor the next. My life proceeded straight ahead and then I had no reason to take the twisty road, and then I got busy, and the opportunity passed me by.

Since then I've learned that life doesn't rewind, but I can pause. Offered a nugget of wisdom, I should brake for it, not just slow down, but come to a full stop and collect those prize moments.

I'll always cherish the conversations she and I never had.

Next time, I will stop...and idle a while between life's curves.

***

What Amy Won:

  • $200.00 Cash Prize
  • Publication of winning story on WOW-WomenOnWriting.com website
  • A WOW! and Seal Press Prize Pack
  • A Year’s Subscription to Premium-Green Markets
  • Interview on WOW!’s blog The Muffin
2nd Place:  Gerry L. Cofield
Wedowee, Alabama
Congratulations Gerry!

Gerry’s Bio:



Gerry L. Cofield’s love of stories and books started on the knee of her Paw-paw, the ultimate story-teller, when she could barely talk. She has won several contests, been published in trade magazines and The Magnolia Quarterly, and writes a weekly column for the local newspaper about the animal shelter where she volunteers (www.randolphshelter.org). She has enjoyed several classes from Gotham Writers’ Workshop, Writing It Real with Sheila Bender, and currently from The Write Helper.

Gerry’s degree is in Child and Family Development and she spent 12 years working with young children and families. Two years ago she moved to Woodland, Alabama to operate the family business of manufacturing church steeples (yes, really). Her experience working in a domestic violence shelter prompted this submission to the WOW flash fiction contest. She finds that the rural South is a constant source of interesting and unusual characters and hopes to work her way into writing a book within the next few years if she can just narrow it down to one topic. She enjoys traveling, baking, gardening, hiking, and volunteering for the animal shelter and a charity dedicated to serving those who have experienced tragedy (www.willsway.org). She lives with Shadow the mostly-Lab, Buddy the St. Bernarder Collie, and Luckie the German Chowbrador (don’t look for these breeds on the AKC list), as well as a fuzzy cat named Samson who snores.

She is grateful to be included amongst such talented and spirited women writers and welcomes correspondence from you at glcofield[at]Hughes[dot]net!

Printable View


Questions to a Friend

How did you end up in this situation? How long was he “charming” before things changed? Did you think it would only happen that once? When did you realize it was going to keep happening? Why did you let it continue?

What was it that was so bad about his childhood? Don’t you think that’s just an excuse?

Did he use the Bible to keep you in line? Remind you of “love, honor, obey”? “Till death do us part”? Does he tell you God says you have to forgive him? Can’t you see his manipulation?

How can you love him? Do you think he loves you? Do you know what real love looks like?

How many times did he say he was sorry that first time? Every time after that? How many gifts has he given you, I mean besides the broken ribs and black eyes? Do you know that no one believes you’re that clumsy?

Are you aware it isn’t a secret what happens at your house? Do you know you cringe when he walks into a room? Can you feel your body, your eyes, your demeanor change? Why do you let him talk to you like that? Do you know it makes us sick? Why do you defend him? Why should you have to help him? Can you see that we all hate him?

Do you miss your friends? Do you remember how much fun we used to have, girl’s night out? Remember how carefree you were? Do you miss your freedom? Do you miss your security? Your peace of mind? Are you afraid? Can you sleep at night?

Don’t you love your daughter? Do you think she doesn’t see this? That she can’t hear it? That it doesn’t hurt her? Do you think he loves her? Does he hit her? Yell at her? Threaten her? Does she feel like she has to defend you? Is this the kind of relationship you want for her? Do you want her to live in fear? Do you tell her not to tell? Do you tell her that he really loves you? Do you tell her he loves her? Is this what you want her to think love is?

Do you like to be hurt? Is this what you secretly want? Do you think you deserve it? Are you afraid to leave? Do you think he’ll kill you? Are you comfortable in your circumstances? Do you think no one else wants you? Are you afraid to be alone?

How long since your life was like mine? How easy was it to cross over? Did it start with angry words? Did he blame you for everything? Accuse you of cheating? Did he change? Did you? How easy was it to let it go the first few times? How long are we with someone before we can’t see ourselves without them? How long before you give up? How long until he kills your body just like he has your soul?

***

What Gerry Won:

  • $150.00 Cash Prize
  • Publication of winning story on WOW-WomenOnWriting.com website
  • A WOW! and Seal Press Prize Pack
  • A Year’s Subscription to Premium-Green Markets
  • Interview on WOW!’s blog The Muffin
3rd Place:  Rachel McClain
San Pedro, California
Congratulations Rachel!

Rachel’s Bio:



Rachel McClain is a freelance writer and stay-at-home mom currently living in Los Angeles but has vowed to find something to love in every new place the Air Force sends her family, even if the next place isn’t so sunny. She was recently selected as an honorable mention in WOW! Women on Writing’s Winter Flash Fiction contest and has short stories published in Fuselit and in the forthcoming Cup of Comfort volumes for Breast Cancer Survivors and for Military Families. She has just finished work on her first young adult novel.

Printable View


Ode to a Grecian Urn

My wife is on the kitchen table. A proud woman, she offers no explanation for this inexplicable event. In the many years we’ve been married, I’ve learned keep mum if she’s not talking; so I don’t question. Still, I don’t like watching her totter in the wind blowing through the open window. I take her arm.

When I’d left for my walk, I’d left her watching birds on the bedroom window seat. She doesn’t get around anymore and I can’t imagine how she’d gotten to the kitchen. But, finding my car at the supermarket lately has become challenging; so, I shrug off this peculiarity as another oddity of aging.

Lifting her, I am no less surprised at her lightness than I was the first day after illness finally engulfed her. I carry her to the living room and while she doesn’t protest, we don’t speak of what has passed and I wonder if she is angry with me for her being on the table.

Sipping bitter coffee the next morning, I brace myself for my doctor’s appointment. Our son, upon his insistence, is accompanying me. She didn’t argue when he persisted and her acquiescence spoke volumes, lending credence to his case against me.

As not to allow any undignified crinkling from the paper beneath my backside, I sit still on the table while the doctor and my son discuss my future. My son sits in the far corner and the doctor has rolled his stool to him, keeping his back to me. Occasionally, my son looks up, but only in assessment, not in inclusion. I examine the spots on my hands, swinging my heels to the Muzak.

On the drive home, I’m given the news. Community living. My son uses the same excited tone I’d used to get him to use the toilet when he was two.

Weeks later, unpacking, I can’t gauge my wife’s reaction. She looks as she did on the kitchen table, strong and proud; but small. I talk as I unpack, assuring her that she’ll warm up to the place; but she’s quiet.

I have to find a spot for her where she’ll be as at home as where we’d lived for sixty years. But, I need a place where she won’t wander off, finding herself on the table or on the floor of the shower, as I’d found her last month. I need a place safe from my own mind. The thing I fear most is allowing my mind to wander off with her and losing her forever.

I gingerly place her atop a shelf that I need a ladder to reach. From the ground, she stands aloft and her slender arms curve toward her body in two beautiful arcs, swirling in tiny, ornate, ceramic finger-leaves before meeting the rounded hips of her urn. The blue ceramic stares down with the color of her eyes and without words, always without words, letting me fill in her conversational gaps, assess our new home.

***

What Rachel Won:

  • $100.00 Cash Prize
  • Publication of winning story on WOW-WomenOnWriting.com website
  • A WOW! and Seal Press Prize Pack
  • 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 Seal Press, 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, 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 www.sealpress.com and sign 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 Brooke Warner and Krista Lyons-Gould for organizing the sponsorship, and for providing us with fabulous interviewees. You have been terrific to work with, and we look forward to working with you for a very long time. We love you, and your wonderful books!

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:

Stolen Moment by Caryl Cain Brown, Augusta, Georgia

Remembrance by Shannon Caster, Portland, Oregon

Horizontal Woman by Pauline H. Gill, China, Maine

Holding On by Jill Pertler, Cloquet, Minnesota

86th & First by Grace Marcus, Doylestown, Pennsylvania

Freedom by Andrea Kahn, River Edge, New Jersey

Ida’s Rocking Chair by Donna Volkenannt, St. Peters, Missouri

What the Runners Up Won:

  • Publication of winning story on WOW-WomenOnWriting.com website
  • A Prize Pack from WOW! and Seal Press
  • 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.

Dispose of the Evidence by Kathryn Schleich, Woodbury, Minnesota

Dreamland by Wendy Lombardi, Marlborough, Massachusetts

Gloriously Blinding White Teeth by Sadie Worth, East Aurora, New York

Lakeside Memories by Catherine Trizzino, Darnestown, Maryland

Leaving You, Leaving Me by Julie Layne, Arlington, Texas

MawMaw’s Secret Family Recipe for Survival by Kelli Wheeler, Sacramento, California

Maybe Tomorrow by Lynn K. Radford, New Brighton, Pennsylvania

Song of the Puce by J. L. Swingle, O’Fallon, Missouri

Stretch and Sew Stardom by Martha Helton, Granbury, Texas

Summer Games by Rita McSweeney, Whitehouse Station, New Jersey

The Dance by Deirdre Woytek, Houston, Texas

The Woman I Hate by Alesha L. Blauer, Avondale, Arizona

Marrying the Wind by Elena Petricone, Chelmsford, Massachusetts

Thicker Than Blood by Mary Kolesnikova, San Francisco, California

The Recipe-Box by Andrea Dennin, Las Vegas, Nevada

Suicide for Two, Please by Laura Miller Edwards, Kettering, Ohio

The Last Road by Verna J. Wilder, Louisville, Colorado

Ohio Skin by Natalie Rhymer, Berkley, Michigan

When Sally Met Ben by Karin Gastreich, Olathe, Kansas

Peaceful Pale by Ellyn Laub, Coconut Creek, Florida

A Tin Hut by Pamela Maddin, Ottawa, Ontario CANADA

The Frailty of Memory by Lisa Kenney, Centennial, Colorado

Break Time by Rebecca Hazleden, Withcott, Queensland, AUSTRALIA

My Fifteen Minutes of Fame by Sandra Gail Abbott, Louisville, Colorado

How Do You Spell Loser? by Sandra Gail Abbott, Louisville, Colorado

What the Honorable Mentions Won:

  • A WOW! and Seal Press Prize Pack

IN CLOSING:

This brings our Spring 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 next contest. Best of luck, and write on!

Check out our new Spring Contest:

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


 

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