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We had an open prompt this season. Our only guidelines were that the entries be fiction with a minimum of 250 words, and a maximum of 750 words. So, enjoy the creativity and diversity!

   

Thanks to our Guest Judge:

Literary Agent, Marisa A. Corvisiero

WOW! was honored to have guest judge Marisa Corvisiero choose the summer season’s top winners. Thank you, Marisa, for sharing your time and efforts to make these contestants’ dreams come true!

Marisa A. Corvisiero is founder of the Corvisiero Literary Agency and Senior Literary Agent. During the few years prior to starting her own agency, Marisa worked with the L. Perkins Agency, where she learned invaluable lessons and made a name for herself in the industry. She is also a Literary Consultant at Literary Powerhouse Consulting and Attorney. Marisa has over ten years of legal experience in New York City.

Marisa seeks creative stories with well-developed plots and rich characters with unique voices. She will consider romance, thrillers, adventure, paranormal, fantasy, science fiction, and any combination thereof. Currently, she is accepting Christmas stories. She will also consider the same genres for young adult and middle grade readers.

In nonfiction, she enjoys out of the box and high concept spiritual, self-improvement, parenting, science, business, and cookbooks.

To learn more about Marisa and the Corvisiero Literary Agency, please visit the agency’s website, http://www.corvisieroagency.com, or Marisa’s blog, Thoughts from a Literary Agent http://www.thoughtsfromaliteraryagent.blogspot.com/.

Connect with Marisa on her social networks:

Twitter: http://twitter.com/mcorvisiero

Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/literarygagent

LinkedIn: www.linkedin.com/in/mcorvisiero/

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Special Note to Contestants:

We want to thank each and every one of you for sharing your wonderful stories with our guest judges this season. We know it takes a lot to hit the send button! 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 that 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: Subject, Content, Technical, and Overall Impression (Style). 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 20 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 so 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:  Jenny Wang
Ann Arbor, Michigan
Congratulations Jenny !

Jenny’s Bio:

Jenny is an Ann Arbor native who’s studying English at the University of Michigan. But don’t ask her how she came to choose English and writing over all the other subjects, because she doesn’t have a clue. Whatsoever. It’s all kind of a blur. Ask her friends and they would tell you that they had never expected her to be interested in writing. It was always supposed to be something in math or science, which she’d been more comfortable with. She had always struggled with reading and writing when she was younger, and it wasn’t late in high school that she’d finally felt more confident in her skills. So no, she’s not really sure how she’s gotten to this point. All she does know is that she’s enjoying every minute of it right now.

She’s grateful to all who have supported her: her teachers, her professors, her classmates, her friends, her family. She’s amazed that they have been patient enough to read some of her really embarrassing, really rough drafts. And of course, she’s thankful to WOW! for all they’ve done for aspiring writers. If it weren’t for everyone’s support, she’d never have realized that the random and private stories in her head were worth jotting down.

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Stage

 

For several weeks, I stayed at my neighbor’s house. I ate their food, accepted their rides to school, played in their backyard, pretended there was nothing wrong. They told me my mother was coming back soon from the hospital, but they didn’t specify what was wrong, only that I should be ready for her return. When Mrs. Palmer called me one day to the visitor at the front door, I failed to recognize the woman in the bandana that covered her bare head. It was only after I heard her call my name, with the same deep, gentle voice that soothed my occasional nightmares, that I realized it was my mother. Her injury was worse than I imagined. I remember crying. No, bawling as I ran into her open arms and nuzzled my dripping nose into her soft dress. The state of her hair was what devastated me. In my seven-year-old mentality, I concluded that the boys who always threatened to cut off my braids if I didn’t give them my lunch had shaved my mother’s silky, chestnut-brown hair. And that was the worst injury you could inflict on a girl.

Though she tried her best to hide her fatigue, I knew that the school bullies, so tall and brooding, had shaken her spirit. I let her rest. I set the dinner table. I poured her water at the first sign of a coughing fit. I ran for the pail when she couldn’t hold down her stomach. When she was well enough to start making her famous jam again, I decided that my PB&J sandwich was to be kept from the very boys who victimized her in the first place. The next day, as the three hulking figures approached my empty table, supervisors and teachers averting their attention as usual, I waited prepared. With my lunch box strapped securely across my body, I charged at them, screaming and clawing at the vacant air. When I felt my fingers break their rough skin, I opened my eyes and saw one boy covering his face, moaning, a trickle of blood running down his cheek.

The principal called my mother. As she entered the office, she threw me a look. I can’t say what kind of look exactly, only that I knew that gaze, the way her furrowed brow brought our attention to her green eyes, making her both more intimidating and more stunning. It was the look that made you want to turn away in shame and yet drew you in even closer. It was the look of my mother as I had always known. After her talk with the principal, Mother took my hand and dragged me outside to the car, where I kept quiet, waiting for her to rebuke me. Instead, as she let me into the backseat, she crawled in after me, drew me close, and rocked back and forth. I clung to her blouse and leaned into the sound of her sobs. I thought I had already memorized her, all of her—her scent, her touch, her sounds. Yet when I imagine the sweaty-sweet smell of her neck and the stifling, calming feel of her embrace, I think of this moment, when she felt the most real.

I decided to only quietly demonstrate my support for her from then on, by doing my homework on my own, by cleaning my room without asking, by going to bed when she requested, by writing the three apology letters to the boys on my own. Though it took some time, Mother’s hair grew back, and by then, she no longer seemed so tall.

***

What Jenny Won:

  • $350.00 Cash Prize
  • $25 Amazon Gift Card
  • Publication of winning story on WOW-WomenOnWriting.com website
  • Interview on WOW!’s blog The Muffin
2nd Place:  Gemma Leigh Rapp
Vancouver, Washington
Congratulations Gemma!

Gemma’s Bio:

Gemma is a 20-something-year-old writer (yeah, she’s going to own that) from Washington. She has been writing since she could spell. When she was eight years old, she would rip off Gertrude Chandler Warner’s Boxcar Children series and fill notebooks with stories about Henry, Jessie, Violet, and Benny. In her fifth-grade “Someday” book, the final page is dedicated to her dream of “one day I’ll write a book and get it published.” Someday.

Lately, Gemma has taken a break from her snippets of novels and is focusing on shorter stories. She has realized that flash fiction can be finished now, is much cheaper to have line-edited and, surprisingly, provides more of a challenge for someone so long-winded and detail-orientated.

Her previous publications include “Down Memory Lane” in the M Review for Marylhurst University and a piece in an anthology called Papers, in 2012.

For the future, Gemma plans on writing more short stories while at the same time working on her very raw drafts of two different novels.

If you feel like saying “Hi,” feel free to seek her out on Facebook and send a message.

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The Blanket

 

The blanket was the leftover, ratted, faded grey guts of an old quilt. It wore dirt and the faint outlines of the Crayola washable markers she had used to draw the squares back on when she’d had the chicken pox and her parents had banished her to her room for a week.

Her bruises were hidden on her thighs and back. Just one ever on her face, and then she had swung her feet from where she had sat on the counter top, as her mother treated her to her makeup and also attention. A mother who refused to hold her and failed to protect her, save for occasionally calling out: Don’t you dare break that child’s arm; I’m not paying the medical bill.

She read on her bedroom floor, her thumb clasped between her lips and forefinger resting across the bridge of her nose. The blanket cocooned around her outstretched legs. She jumped when his form blocked the light coming through the doorway. Her eyes darted across the room scanning for violation. The last time she hadn’t dusted well enough he had taken a hammer to the shelves. Chaos ensued and there was a tiny shard of glass that her mom had removed from her eye. The fear caused vomit to swim up her throat. She made her body rigid so the trembling on the inside couldn’t be seen on the outside.

“This piece of shit is going in the trash.” He snatched the blanket in his massive hand and scrunched it into a wadded lump.

“Why?” She whimpered as she followed him to the kitchen and watched him grind it down amongst the soggy coffee filter and wet, discarded dog food.

She collapsed into heaves at the loss of a scarce love.

“Where’s your blanket?” he asked, hours later. She paused, startled and panicked and hopeful. Then she remembered it was gone, what he had done.

The moment she let herself feel an inkling of her emptiness, her eyes filled with tears, turning the irises from a smoky, dark blue-green into a blazing aquamarine. She hadn’t learned all the rules of the game yet, but she knew she was supposed to cry. The tears were his sought after reward, filling him with pleasure.

He wouldn’t let her forget. Every day he would pick at her fresh scabs with relentless teasing.

Thursday after school, the winter sun was gobbled up before she arrived home from the bus stop. Dinner was spaghetti and sauce made from tomato paste and a can of bean-less chili. She forced herself to eat it before too much time passed and he forced her instead. He pushed his chair back before she had finished her plate. She shoved a forkful into her mouth, gagging, desperately trying to prove that she wasn’t being picky or obstinate.

“Come on, then,” he grunted and nodded to the door that led off the kitchen.

She followed him out to the freezing carport. Security lights burned through the fog to the furthest end. He took her hand and tugged her toward the garbage cans that stood at the end of the driveway, shadowed by the black, misty sky.

“Garbage was picked up this morning,” he said curtly, a smile twitched his lips. He pulled off the metal lid of the trash bin and tipped it so she could see its hollow belly. “Go on, tell it goodbye,” he said, goading her.

The pain was too consuming to make a sound, as though the ice in the air had frozen the tears in her ducts and her voice behind the swelling lump in her throat.

“I loved you,” she whispered before his laughter swallowed up her chattering sobs. She stood in the December night, body quivering from cold and sorrow. He picked her up with one arm and she crumpled into him, tears wetting his neck and blending into hers.

He carried her to the couch and plopped her down. She curled her body into a ball. She rattled from the chill that wouldn’t go away and the grief that seeped from every ounce of feeling she had.

Moments later she felt him drape a familiar weight over her—the blanket. She sat up, shocked, rubbing the frayed edges between her fingers. Splotched red face, cheeks tight with dried tears, her smile gaped open in wonderment before she hurled herself into his lap and encased his body with hers.

“You’re the best daddy in world.”

***

What Gemma Won:

  • $250.00 Cash Prize
  • $25 Amazon Gift Card
  • Publication of winning story on WOW-WomenOnWriting.com website
  • Interview on WOW!’s blog The Muffin
3rd Place: LeeAnne Joseph
Ferndale, Washington
Congratulations LeeAnne!

LeeAnne’s Bio:

LeeAnne Joseph grew up a stone’s throw from Seaside Heights and was deeply influenced by the brash and nihilistic fairyland of her childhood haunt. She is heartbroken by the destruction caused by Hurricane Sandy, and recent fire, and wishes the Jersey Shore a full recovery so that it may continue to capture the public imagination and serve as a home, livelihood, and playground for all those in the Garden State, and beyond.

LeeAnne wants her readers to know that she is thrilled that “Geepus” has made the WOW! Top Ten and that this flash fiction is a preview of her dystopian dark comedy to be completed by Summer 2014. If any agents out there would like to learn more about Beck Carter and her evil GPS, LeeAnne would be glad to oblige.

When the author isn’t secretly writing stories and poetry, she serves as an Energy Policy wonk who writes respectable things like conference presentations, public relations copy, and super-cheesy environmental ads with baby ducks and terrible puns.

Again, she thanks the wonderful WOW! Readers and Judges whose lit-love keeps her motivated even on the dreariest autumn days in the Pacific Northwest!

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Geepus

 

I hate long goodbyes . . .

A desperate, frustrated chuckle escapes my lips as I struggle to throw my powder-blue ’01 Cadillac Deville into reverse. My back wheels spin pathetically as my metal coffin of American ingenuity dangles unceremoniously from the edge of the drawbridge. It’s opening for a boat that isn’t there. No warning, no flashing lights. Just me, and the rain, and the God damned overpass that decided to spontaneously open and propel my car into a sideways skid.

I vainly clutch the steering wheel in my left hand as my right hand struggles to pull the emergency brake. The gate on the bridge seems determined to rid itself of the small powder blue obstruction cramping its style.

“When possible make a legal U-turn,” my piece-of-shit GPS offers in a cheery tone. Our Governor says the Integrated Navigation Companion is the savior of democracy and Western Civilization. Deus Ex Machina. Too bad it’s trying to kill me . . .

I curse at the machine and clumsily swat at it, but this only seems to make my car slide faster. Nice, just perfect. I imagine the impact of the twenty-foot drop onto the jagged rocks—and the deep, icy water. A sickening creak inspires me to set aside my paranoia and push the big red button. Maybe it will save me. But I can’t shake the feeling that this moment of desperation is exactly what it wanted all along.

“Help . . . please . . . my name is Beck—I’m in Seaside. The bridge just went up with me on it. Send someone . . . anyone.” I hear myself speaking as though from a distance. God, I sound like a Disney Princess. So much for dying with dignity.

“Your emergency is important to us. Stay where you are, and help will arrive shortly . . .” The astoundingly brilliant advice does nothing to improve my morale.

I gaze at myself one last time in my cracked rear-view mirror. I take inventory of all my parts. My eyes, mouth, head, chest, arms, feet. I place my hand to my heart and close my icy blue eyes.

Icy blue—that’s what my mother called them . . . calls them. It’s hard to think of myself in the present tense. I feel a twinge of hunger in my stomach and I pity the cluelessness of my body. I can smell the rain through the crack in my window. I feel so whole, so alive. Like a cow on the slaughter line. I’m a tragic casualty caught up in a dumbass pseudo-hipster film noir bullshit mess . . .

My life flashes before my eyes. I count the remaining seconds of my existence and sigh, knowing that my brain will soon be waterlogged and oxygen deprived . . .

God, that’s freakin’ poetic, isn’t it? If I survive, I’ll write that down into a memoir or something. My odds of survival are slim to none, but I might as well get the most from my near-death experience. Hell, what else do I have to do right now? I mean . . . other than dissect each moment of my epic life-fail?

I need some smart last words . . . or at least some good last thoughts.

It’s a far, far better thing . . . Ah, crap. Not much time left to think of anything better . . .

God, why do I have to die in Seaside? Why, why, why?

If I hit the water and the rocks at just the right angle, this might be quick and painless.

They’re going to think I did this on purpose . . . the black hair, the pale skin—total goth vibe.

This sucks . . . this really, really sucks.

And just when I was found a decent boyfriend I—

My .05 seconds are interrupted by the impact of my car hitting the water. I feel tired, confused . . . my mind is grey. I think I hear a siren, but it could just be my imagination. Yeah, just my imagination . . .

The final words I hear as I unceremoniously sink into the Barnegat Bay are “you have arrived.”

Smart ass machine . . .

***

What LeeAnne Won:

  • $150.00 Cash Prize
  • $25 Amazon Gift Card
  • Publication of winning story on WOW-WomenOnWriting.com website
  • Interview on WOW!’s blog The Muffin

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:

What Matters by Alana Agerbo, Surrey, British Columbia, CANADA

Mi Amore by Lynn Nicholas, Tucson, Arizona

Pine Box by Stephanie Train, Fort Collins, Colorado

Planning, Peppers, and Push-Up Bras or Daddy’s Three Essential Rules of Success by Janet L. Cannon, Cape Girardeau, Missouri

Sunday Dinner by Eileen Dew, Austin, Texas

Sunrise by Virginia Winters, Lindsay, Ontario, CANADA

Bank Job by Kay Butzin, Rockport, Texas

What the Runners Up Won:

  • $25 Amazon Gift Card
  • Publication of winning story on WOW-WomenOnWriting.com website
  • Interview on WOW!’s blog The Muffin

HONORABLE MENTIONS (In no particular order):

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

Things To Do Today by Annamaria Formichella Elsden, Storm Lake, Iowa

Disturbance in the Soil by Elizabeth Maggio, Clifton, Virginia

Cardinals by Peggy Bennett, Perkiomenville, Pennsylvania

Dissolution by Gemma Leigh Rapp, Vancouver, Washington

Heart Marsh by Krystal Skwar, Boston, Massachusetts

Her by Kimberly A. Bella, Winchester, Massachusetts

The Marshmallow Tree by Elizabeth Maria Naranjo, Tempe, Arizona

The Last Dance by Melissa Herpel, The Woodlands, Texas

The Last One by Donna L. Landi, Sleepy Hollow, New York

The View by Julie Angeli, Bloomfield Hills, Michigan

What the Honorable Mentions Won:

  • $20 Amazon Gift Card

IN CLOSING:

This brings our Summer 2013 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 the latest Contest:

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


 

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