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Spring 2013 Flash Fiction Contest Winners!


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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 Stacy Testa

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

Before joining Writers House in 2011, Stacy Testa interned at Farrar, Straus & Giroux and Whimsy Literary and graduated cum laude with a BA in English from Princeton University.

Stacy is actively building her client list and is seeking literary fiction and upmarket commercial women’s fiction, particularly character-driven stories with a historical bent, international setting, or focus on a unique subculture. She also represents realistic young adult, narrative nonfiction, and memoir.

To find out more about Stacy, connect with her online:

Writers House: http://www.writershouse.com

Twitter: http://twitter.com/stacy_testa

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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:  Rosemary Jarrell
Clayton, North Carolina
Congratulations Rosemary!

Rosemary’s Bio:

A native Brooklynite, Rosemary is proud to call North Carolina home. However, at times she’s still overcome by an unbearable desire to hang out at the Central Library at Grand Army Plaza.

A lover of reading, writing and writing contests, Rosemary has placed once in WOW’s top 20 and again in the top 10. Determined to someday place in the top three, she continues to hone her writing skills in general and her flash fiction technique in particular.

Currently, Rosemary is working on an early chapter book geared for boys ages 6-9, she hopes to develop it into a wacky time-traveling series. Although a sucker for anything concerning the space-time continuum, Rosemary loves writing fiction of all sorts and plans to write in as many genres as possible.

Visit her blog at http://startyournextchapter.com/, and follow her on Twitter @rjarrellwrites

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The Williams Women

 

Mandy slides off the sagging mattress and holds her breath as Tim turns over, mumbling nonsense in his sleep. Moonlight enters the room though the faded curtains her Grandma hand-sewed when Mandy was just a girl. A shaft of light illuminates the Kennedy rocker, a prized thrift store find that once symbolized hope and optimism, but now sits forgotten in the corner. Conscious of the loose floor boards, she eases into her clothes, opens the door, and tiptoes out into the hallway. She exhales a long, shaky exhalation. Her breath puffs before her like little white clouds. She looks at the breath-clouds and wonders if she could make them rain. Shaking her crazy thoughts away, she cocks her head and listens for the reassurance of Tim’s beer-induced snores. Good, he’s still asleep. She thinks of every episode of Snapped she’s ever seen and bites down hard on her lip, drawing blood. Tim should thank her—she’s doing this for his sake, really. She grabs her coat and purse and slips on her worn sneakers. Her hand touches the doorknob when Tim calls out, causing her to freeze.

“Babe, hey babe?”

Once upon a time, those words could warm her to her very core. She licks her wind-chapped lips and calls back in what she hopes is a casual tone, “Yeah Tim?”

“Bring back some Funyuns and beer. Not that cheap shit you always get, but the good stuff like Sam Adams, okay?” His words slur, so it sounds more like Shamadams to her.

“Okay, go back to sleep.” She holds one pale, trembling hand over her racing heart and waits for the signal to proceed. As soon as she hears the first snort of his snore, she opens the door that leads onto the front porch. Outside, the air is crisp, almost painfully cold. Mandy lifts her face up to the sky; the moon is full and bathes the yard in a soft, sepia glow. She loves this time of day best of all. It’s a time of stillness, a time of infinite promise. The leaves crunch under her feet as she hurries over to Bessie, her ten-year-old Dodge. Inside the car, she shivers and wills the engine to crank.

Bessie starts like a champ. She throws the car into reverse and rolls down the cracked driveway, pulling parallel alongside the house. Before she shifts into drive she pauses, and stares at the home she’s shared with Tim for the past ten years. She searches in vain for some feeling of nostalgia or loss...something, anything that would cause her to change her mind and stay. But there’s nothing left, nothing but a gaping hole full of broken promises and bitter disappointments. She thinks about something her Grandma once told her when she was a little girl and was wondering where her momma had gone. She didn’t understand it then, but now, it makes perfect sense. Grandma said there were two things the Williams women excelled at, making poor choices in men and leaving. Feeling two-hundred pounds lighter, Mandy shifts into first and drives into freedom.

***

What Rosemary 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:  Jeannie Waldridge
Louisville, Kentucky
Congratulations Jeannie!

Jeannie’s Bio:

Jeannie Waldridge is originally from the small town of Harrodsburg, Kentucky but has lived in Louisville, Kentucky for the last 15 years. She is a Certified Alcohol and Drug Counselor who currently supervises Substance Abuse Treatment Programs for the Department of Corrections. Jeannie has had a lifelong passion for humorous story-telling and is beginning to translate that love into her written work. There is a love for strong Southern characters that originate from small towns and love to stir up controversy. Who doesn’t want the chance to use “ya’ll” or reference “sweet tea” when they write?

Jeannie is greatly supported by her writing group, Women Who Write, which is based in Louisville. The members readily offer their time, expertise and encouragement to all writers from the novice to the professional. Through the writing group, Jeannie has come to accept the fact that she is a writer as long as she continues to put pen to paper.

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The Church Meeting

 

You can always find her on the right side of the church, second row, on the far end of the pew, Mrs. Abbigail Peters, founding member of the Mount Pleasant Baptist Church. She spoke with a strong southern accent and usually ended most of her sentences with dear or darling. On Sunday mornings the church would fill with her gardenia perfume long before she entered and lingered long after she left. Mrs. Abbigail, as she preferred to be called, was from a prominent family in Crawford, Kentucky. Her great-great granddaddy Crawford was the first elected mayor and one of the original settlers in the small town.

The pastor could always tell when it was time to start wrapping it up because Mrs. Abbigail’s pew would moan and creak as she would impatiently shift in the pew while keeping an eye on the clock she insisted should be installed in the front of the church. Mrs. Abbigail Peters had obligations to the community and she was expected at Madeline’s Cotillion and Tea for the Ladies Auxiliary meeting after church each Sunday. Folks in Crawford respected Mrs. Abbigail for all of her charitable contributions and volunteer work. She had been a widow since her husband passed away in the war. She did not have any children, and made it her life’s work to care for the unfortunates of the community. Each week her picture could be found in the Society Pages in the Crawford Gazette.

The day started out as an ordinary Sunday for most of the folks in Crawford. But the pastor knew it was going to be different. This week his girlfriend was finally ready to meet the congregation, and of course, Mrs. Abbigail. The pastor met Katherine while he was doing crusade work a couple of towns over in the rowdy town of Springfield. A group of pastors would go to Springfield on Friday nights and try to convince the young showgirls at the casino to give up their secular ways and come to church. Katherine was the prettiest girl he had ever seen. She had long red curly hair and a lot of spunk. It was not uncommon for the Pastor to run into someone from his own church. Springfield was the only town that sold alcohol for a hundred miles. Most of the towns in the area believed the legalization of alcohol was a sure sign of the second coming of Jesus himself.

Katherine arrived early that Sunday and assured the pastor she would be on her best behavior. He thought she was stunning in her emerald green dress and she felt he was just as handsome in his navy blue suit and pastel tie. Katherine was introduced to so many parishioners she could not distinguish the Smiths from the Smithfields or the Johnsons from the Johnstones. She was sure her nerves were getting to her. The pastor believed that whatever she had done in the past it was better to leave it there, so Kate became Katherine.

As service started, Katherine took her seat on the empty second row. The room filled with the smell of gardenias and there was a familiar face on the other end of the pew. Katherine quickly turned away and avoided making eye contact. Mrs. Abbigail had been running late. As she sat down, Mrs. Abbigail glared at the stranger who dared to sit on her pew. As the church began to sing Amazing Grace, she finally realized she knew the stranger from her weekly trips to the casino. Mrs. Abbigail had been going for years to get her medicine drink since Crawford was dry and someone in her position could not be seen consuming alcohol. Neither of them heard one word the pastor spoke. They both sat there feeling anxious about what the other one would say or do after the service. Katherine hoped Abby would not recognize her in her pretty dress and Mrs. Abbigail hoped that Kate would not believe “Fun Times Abby” would be at church on Sunday morning.

As the pastor finished his sermon, he rushed to the second row of pews excited to introduce his new love to his biggest critic. Slowly, he walked the tall red head closer to Mrs. Abbigail. He cleared his throat and politely said, “Mrs. Abbigail Peters, I would like for you to meet my lovely fiancée, Katherine.” Mrs. Abbigail extended her hand and politely stated, “It is lovely to meet you, Katherine. Are you from here in Crawford, darling?”

***

What Jeannie 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: Barbara Brockway
Atlanta, Georgia
Congratulations Barbara!

Barbara’s Bio:

Barbara Brockway has had short stories and essays published in The Southern Tablet, Torrid Literature Journal, an upcoming issue of The Maine Review and elsewhere. She has received writing awards from the Chattahoochee Valley Writers and Atlanta Writers Club and is currently working on her second novel, while seeking an agent for the first. She lives in midtown Atlanta with her family, two chickens and an orange feral cat named Lt. Musgraves.

For more information on Barbara, visit her website at barbarabrockway.com.

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A Cup Half Full

 

Today was the day Miranda would talk to tall skinny latte guy.

They’d been eyeing each other in the coffee shop for months. He’d wait in line behind three or four sleepy-eyed people until it was his turn to order, everyone else scrolling absentmindedly through their phones or squinting at the board as if the meaning of life was printed there in white letters alongside the flavor of the day.

Tall skinny latte guy would sidle up to the counter, messenger bag slung across his chest, hands stuffed in his pockets, a shy smile on his face.

“How’s it goin’?” he’d ask. Then he’d glance down at the counter, as if it were unbearable to hold Miranda’s gaze.

“Great!” she’d answer back, in her most encouraging voice. “How are you?”

“Um, great,” he’d answer, smiling, his sparkling, blue eyes moving north to meet hers. “Tall, skinny, latte, please.”

Then he’d hand her his card, and with a swipe the fleeting courtship dance would be over. He’d move over to the pick-up counter, Annie’s territory, take his coffee and leave, not even stopping to sugar up.

“Why don’t you comment on, like, what’s in the news?” Annie suggested.

“Should I go with the Ebola Virus or Immigration Reform?” Miranda replied sarcastically. “I’ll come off as a complete jerk. I know absolutely nothing about him.”

“Yeah, he’s a real enigma,” Annie retorted.

“What if he has a girlfriend?” Miranda challenged.

“Look, you’re not proposing that the two of you sweep the biscotti off the counter and do it right there by the register, you’re just trying to strike up a conversation. Just say anything, he’s probably dying to talk to you, too.”

“I know,” Miranda answered lamely, chewing on her cuticle.

“Don’t live life with regrets,” Annie said, flipping on the milk frother, ending the conversation.

Miranda knew Annie was right, but she didn’t have an abundance of courage these days. Moving back in with your parents with a useless marketing degree did that to a person. Taking 500 ridiculous coffee orders every day only compounded the problem.

But this morning the song playing on the radio when her alarm went off was REM’s “Superman”. Her lavender bra, the one that made her boobs look so good, was right at the top of the drawer. She thought she’d have to re-wear yesterday’s apron, but her mom had done laundry and a fresh, clean one hung on the back of a kitchen chair. She even found a heads up penny on the way in from the parking lot.

It was now or never.

“Double venti caramel macchiato with no foam.”

Tall skinny latte guy was two customers back. Miranda’s heart was pounding.

“Grande white chocolate mocha, extra hot.”

Tall skinny latte guy was next. Miranda felt dizzy.

“How’s it goin’?” he said, dropping his eyes.

“Great!” Miranda said. She longed to hold his face in her hands. “How are you?”

“Um, great,” he said in his impossibly cute way. “Tall, skinny, latte, please.”

Miranda prayed her face wasn’t too flushed.

He held out his card.

“Wait,” she said, her voice too loud, even in the din of busy shop. The woman in line behind tall skinny latte guy looked up from her phone.

“No charge today,” she said shakily, willing him to hold her gaze.

His smile spread into a full-fledged grin. “Wow, thanks, that’s really nice, uh...”

Her tongue wouldn’t work.

Tall skinny latte guy seemed reluctant to leave. Her smile was frozen on her face.

The woman in line cleared her throat loudly.

“Well, thanks again,” he said, turning to go.

All Miranda’s good luck drained away.

“I’ll have a grande soy vanilla cappucino,” said the woman. “Miss? Miss?”

Miranda couldn’t take her eyes off tall skinny latte guy.

She grabbed an empty cup and scribbled her name and phone number on it. She drew a quick smiley face for good measure. As Annie sung out “tall, skinny, latte!” Miranda pushed past her, grabbing the drink. She slipped on the extra cup and met his surprised gaze as she handed tall skinny latte guy his coffee, their hands electric as they touched.

***

What Barbara 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:

Grey Road by Ellyn Hurst, Hancock, Michigan

Circus Blood by Cheryl Eichar Jett, Edwardsville, Illinois

Counterfeit Chemistry by Linda McMann, Warren, Oregon

MS Lord Selkirk by Carrie Hatland, Winnipeg, Manitoba, CANADA

The Price of a Dream by Lea Thompson, Hurricane, Utah

The Truth by Anne Brandt, Benton Harbor, Michigan

Signal of the Firefly by Roberta Godar, Eldred, Illinois

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 Winter Contest Honorable Mentions! Your stories stood out and are excellent in every way.

Martha by Talia Rice, Milwaukie, Oregon

For Sale by Margaret McNellis, Westbrook, Connecticut

House of Geckos by Sandra Jackson-Opoku, Chicago, Illinois

Stone Cold by Natalie Motti, Ashburn, Virginia

Choices by Yolanda Renée, Bainbridge, Pennsylvania

Flow by Lisa Finch, Forest, Ontario, CANADA

Precious Memories by Jean M. Cogdell, Sachse, Texas

The Hotel Room by Betty Nearing, Cape Coral, Florida

Two Pairs of X’s in Tattooed Jeans by Jocelyn Kasper, Nashville, Tennessee

Wall Post by Vanessa Kelly, Watonga, Oklahoma

What the Honorable Mentions Won:

  • $20 Amazon Gift Card

IN CLOSING:

This brings our Winter 2015 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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