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Fall 2008 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, Elise Capron

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

To share your thanks, please visit her website, Sandra Dijkstra Literary Agency,, and email her personally.

Elise Capron is an agent with the Sandra Dijkstra Literary Agency, an agency known for establishing and guiding the careers of critically acclaimed fiction and nonfiction authors, including Amy Tan, Lisa See, Maxine Hong Kingston, Chitra Divakaruni, Kate White, Diane Mott Davidson, Luis Urrea, Janell Cannon, and many others. The Los Angeles Times dubbed the Dijkstra Agency “the most powerful literary agency on the West Coast” and, in its 26+ years, the agency has developed a reputation for discovering new talent and representing quality work with commercial potential.

Elise has been with the Dijkstra Agency since 2003. In addition to her own agenting, she assists Sandra Dijkstra and handles first serial sales. She specializes in debut fiction, character-driven literary and offbeat fiction, and short story collections. She is also interested in selected nonfiction if it has a literary edge. She hopes to find fiction with unforgettable writing, terrific narrative voice/tone, and great characters. Elise loves novels with an unusual or eccentric edge, and is drawn to stories she has never heard before. She hopes to work with writers who are professional, have a realistic sense of the market, and who are getting their work published regularly in literary magazines.

Some of Elise’s recent and soon-to-be-published books include Tiphanie Yanique’s How to Escape from a Leper Colony (Graywolf), Rikki Ducornet’s Netsuke (Coffee House Press), Jonathon Keats’ The Book of the Unknown: Tales of the Thirty-Six (Random House) and upcoming Virtual Worlds (Oxford University Press), Ali Liebegott’s The IHOP Papers (Carroll & Graf), Peter Plate’s Soon the Rest Will Fall (Seven Stories Press), and Whitney LylesParty Games (Simon Pulse) and First Comes Love (Berkley).

Find out more about Elise by reading her interview on WOW! Women On Writing:


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 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 25 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:  Corinne Mahoney
Hillsborough, North Carolina
Congratulations Corinne!

Corinne’s Bio:

Corinne, a native of Massachusetts, lives in North Carolina with her husband and three children. She received her BA in English from the University of Notre Dame and a Master’s in Library Science from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. She is a Knowledge Services Manager for a non-profit organization in the field of global health. She believes that writing can be transformative and would like to one day establish a non-profit fiction writing program for at-risk adolescent girls. Corinne was an avid writer throughout childhood and college, but found that life is full of excuses to set aside one’s dream. Her children and their beautiful, whacky imaginations have inspired her to put pen to paper again. Plus she says, “I expect my kids to pursue their dreams, so I better get going on my own.” Flash fiction is the genre of necessity for this full time working mother with three children 3 years old and younger, but a novel will come someday. Other neglected favorites include: traveling, hiking, and exploring local parks and restaurants.

Printable View


Attempted Interview with Randall Clark
Rural Community Oral History Project/Eastern State University
Interview Declined


“We don’t talk about dead babies around here. We just bury ‘em. And, yeah, think about ‘em from time to time.” All day, every day.

Ten small graves, each marked with a small stone, ten etched dates, no names. Ten and counting. Five before her, five after. Madeleine, our miracle, seven years old now. Nobody ever said miracles were perfect. She’s a love that little one, a complete love, even after she couldn’t walk any more, still sweet as rhubarb pie on a summer morning, all syrupy sweet, but tangy too. She’s smart as a whip. At least she used to be when she could still talk. Almost worth the ten dead babies. Almost.

Funny God that Ellie believes in, mind you. Funny God that thinks ten little graves are more righteous than a tiny pill or a surgical snip to my piping. There are options these days. Yeah, of course, I’ve thought about doing it and not telling her, but lying is a sin. I can lie to this God, no problem there, but I can’t lie to her. I've wronged her enough.

I remember when her belly swelled the first time, and so quickly after our vows. We rejoiced. You see, her sister couldn’t have babies, married six years at the time and not a single one. Boy, did we feel sorry for her.

We named that first one when her belly got ripe. She knew it was a boy. William. Died about a week before, Suzanna, the midwife, said. You see, Ellie suffered those pains each time, eleven times. She’s strong, but boy does she carry on when those pains hit. Some men in town say women make that up, just performing. It only hurts a little, a way to guilt us men folk into doing their bidding. I know that’s not true. And after all that pain, only one blue baby turned pink on cue. Only one baby cried its way to her arms. Only Madeleine.

I remember that delivery. I sat out back, let the women handle it you know. I was thinking about the box, the casket box, wondering if I had enough scrap wood to throw one together. You see, you can’t build those things in advance, you can’t even gather the materials, it’s just not right. Then I heard it. Suzanna came to the door smiling. Now that was a rare sight. I heard it more clearly, coming from inside—a cry.

It’s alive?

Yes sir, pretty little baby girl, suckling as we speak.

I felt paralyzed. I wasn’t sure how to handle a live baby. Dead ones, now, dead ones I knew a thing or two about.

Somehow I got unstuck and rushed in. Seeing them, mother with daughter, now that was joy. Yes, that was joy.

Wasn’t but ten months later Ellie started patting her belly again. Now that time was different. That time we had hope. That was before Madeleine’s strange gait, before her fits began. We were so sure, believing Madeleine was entitled to a brother or sister, convinced we had endured enough. That hope did us in. You see, we all have a threshold for dashed hopes. And frankly, dead baby number six was enough for me and Ellie; yeah, we stopped being us after that.

Of course, this is mostly my fault. I can blame that no good God of hers for only so much. Ellie doesn’t come to me in the night, greedy and fumbling. No, that’s all my doing. She’d manage just fine without it. Not me. I swear it off all the time, never sticks. Sometimes I wish she’d fight me off. But she’s a good wife that Ellie, and her God tells her it’s her duty, and who knows, maybe there’s some seed of hope left inside her. I don’t know. You see, we don’t talk much.

We do sing though. Yes, we sing. Hymns mostly. I also like to make up a song or two, kind of have a knack for it I must say. We sing for Madeleine.

Sometimes I wonder how many graves there will be—at least eleven. We’re down to months we hear, precious months with our little miracle girl. I can’t predict what will happen then. I mean we know grief, and hell, I think even Ellie has numbed to grief a bit; but that, well that will be something I’m sure.

“Yeah, anyway, mister, we don’t talk about dead babies around here. Thanks for stopping by.”


What Corinne Won:

  • $250.00 Cash Prize
  • $25 Amazon Gift Card
  • Publication of winning story on website
  • The Hungry Writer’s Guide to Tracking and Capturing a Literary Agent by Annette Fix
  • A Year’s Subscription to Premium-Green Markets
  • Interview on WOW!’s blog The Muffin
2nd Place:  Lauren Leatherman
Jersey City, New Jersey
Congratulations Lauren!

Lauren’s Bio:

Lauren Leatherman is a writer living in Jersey City, NJ. Originally from Syracuse, NY, she received her MFA in Fiction from New York University, and is the author of the chapbook “How To Lose It” (Hamilton College, 2005). Most recently, one of her short stories was shortlisted for the “Best New American Voices” series. In addition to writing, Lauren is an avid runner and yoga enthusiast who regularly publishes articles about running, nutrition, and holistic health and wellness. She currently works in marketing and is at work on a memoir.

Jersey City Running Examiner:

Printable View


Summer Before Junior High


It’s too hot to be outside, so my little sister and I lie belly-down on her bedroom rug, making boondoggle bracelets. We’re wearing bikinis. Mine is solid purple, hers is polka dot. She has the small round belly I lost years ago. 

Will you wear yours? she asks.

Nah, I say. Thirteen’s too old.

I learned boondoggle in summer camp; it keeps you occupied for hours. Inside this room we have all day, but I don’t want all day, even with the fan aimed straight at our faces. Something smells like eggs.

I’m going to tell you a secret, I say.

She stops moving her fingers and looks at me. I shouldn’t tell her anything. When I told I’d stolen five dollars from Mom’s dresser, she ran downstairs when I went to pee and by the time I was done, Mom was upstairs in the hallway waiting to spank me. I didn’t talk to either of them for a week. Every night my dad and I rode our bikes into town for ice cream. Then I got sick of fudge.

I won’t tell anyone, she says. Her eyes are big and begging. We’re bored.
Okay, I say. I set down my bracelet. Promise, or I’ll kill you.

She finger-draws an X over her heart. Still I make her wait. She’s licked off most of her lip gloss, leaving one shiny red dot in the corner of her mouth.

Saul kissed me.

She blinks once. Twice. By the third time I’m annoyed.

Well say something.

No he didn’t.

He did.

For years I’d just been kissing the spare pillow on my bed. I’d put my lips against it and open my mouth, my tongue tracing the cotton. When I was done there’d be a damp circle on the pillow, which I’d flip it over to sleep.

Where’d he kiss you, huh? She gets up off her stomach and sits cross-legged.

In the toolshed.

Saul lives on the block. He’s tall, all angles, with low jeans. His arms are all scraped up from falling off his skateboard. He leaves for college in a month. And he has a toolshed behind his house, filled with things that look like they’d hurt.

That’s where I hid when we played hide-and-seek, a bunch of us from the neighborhood and Saul was the seeker. It was after the neighborhood block party. The younger kids were bored and begged us. We walked away from the party and he leaned against a tree, closing his eyes while he counted high.

By the time he finished I was in the toolshed. A little light showed through the wooden slats and I crouched on the ground, next to a wheelbarrow. I held my breath for as long as I could. I wasn’t afraid of Saul, but always with this game I was afraid of being found. I’d pretend I was a speck of dust, invisible and noiseless. But in the toolshed my heart pounded. Saul heard it like a call, my loud, banging heart.

My sister’s eyes widen. She knows where Saul found me. He opened the rusty door the exact second my lungs started to burn. I tried to keep still, but I let out all my breath in one big fall.

You did a good job hiding.

I guess.

When he crouched down next to me I knew he was going to do it. He’d been eating chicken wings all night; still his tongue was cool as dirt. When it licked against my teeth something bubblebath-warm rushed over my body. It was nothing real. I was dry on my skin, the outside.

He pulled away and that was that. We had to go back to the other kids. So we left the toolshed and found the kids lying under a neighbor’s big tree, mad at me for hiding so good.

My sister didn’t even know. But the earth could quake right now and she wouldn’t notice. Still, she’s forgotten all about her bracelet.

What will you do when he leaves?

I roll my eyes. I’m not his.

And we go outside because we’re sick of being in. The air is thick and wet, trying to flatten us where we stand. Mom would say we shouldn’t be prancing around in bikinis, but Mom is inside napping. Dad might agree, but he’s at work. We dare each other to stand on the hot driveway for as long as we can take it. 


What Lauren Won:

  • $150.00 Cash Prize
  • $25 Amazon Gift Card
  • Publication of winning story on website
  • The Hungry Writer’s Guide to Tracking and Capturing a Literary Agent by Annette Fix
  • A Year’s Subscription to Premium-Green Markets
  • Interview on WOW!’s blog The Muffin
3rd Place:  Laura J. Silver
Port Washington, New York
Congratulations Laura!

Laura’s Bio:

Laura has lived in New Jersey, New York, Massachusetts, and England. She has a degree in English from Tufts University and a Master’s in Victorian Literature from Oxford University where she rowed for Pembroke and Exeter colleges. Current writing projects include a comic mystery set in Ohio and a historical fiction set in the London of Dr. Samuel Johnson.

She currently lives in Brooklyn where, when not writing, she cooks, calligraphies, and volunteers for the Green-Wood Cemetery.

Printable View


Sights of Brooklyn

Marianne emerged from the subway to a face-numbing, eye-stinging wind. It was near midnight and a rime of snow covered the ground while more whipped and whistled and fell. She tucked her shoulders up to her ears and headed south towards her apartment.

In all weathers, Marianne noticed the same things on the walk: the even-numbered street signs, the pickled carcasses in the Chinese Restaurant’s window, and the broken entry sign to the car wash flickering “-TRANCE” in ruddy neon.

Soon enough, the bell tower of the church on her block loomed into view. Someone had decorated one of the fir trees which grew in the gated courtyard. The white lights glinted in the frenzy of snow. Marianne saw this just before she turned the corner and saw the shape slumped outside the gates.

It was a man.

Marianne kept walking. Her New York vision was used to eliding the unsavory. If this were Manhattan, she would have forgotten him, if he made it far enough into her consciousness to be forgotten. But her pace slowed at the thought that this was not Times Square, where the guilt was parceled out between a hundred other passersby. This was her street, and a glance confirmed that there was no one else out at this hour, in this weather. On the other hand, she could see the stairs to her apartment building and she was almost beyond the gates. Once past him, it would no longer be her problem... She imagined glancing out her window in the morning to see him buried in snow, and she stopped.

Now that she had turned west, the wind came off the water. “Hello?” she called, hopelessly. People who respond to “Hello?” do not attempt to sleep under a blanket of snowflakes.

After a moment of silence, her hand unclenched and found the phone in her coat pocket. She dialed and stepped into the street.

“911. What is your emergency?”

“I’m walking by a man lying on the sidewalk. It’s snowing. He looks like he might be dead.” She was speaking loudly, hoping the man might hear her and wake up, or, better yet, a neighbor might hear and come join her.

“Where are you?”

“The corner of 4th Avenue and 42nd Street in Brooklyn. Just outside a church.”

A phone number was requested; an injunction to stay was given; an ambulance was dispatched. During the conversation, Marianne had walked slowly until she stood over him. He was old, and looked homeless. He wore a leather jacket which was brown and cracking in places, and his skin was the same. His eyes were closed, his mouth open.

Ghostly fantasies started pricking at Marianne, alone in the barrage of snow and wind with what was probably a corpse. She shivered and set her mind to distracting itself: was he really dead?

She leaned down and tapped his shoulder. That was easy, it was covered with clothes, and not like touching a person at all. There was no response. She knelt and leaned her cheek over his open mouth to feel for breathing. That was much harder, deliberately positioning herself so that she could not see his face. She thought she felt the slightest stir of warmth and recoiled in horror. She had imagined his eyes bursting open and his arms flailing out to reach her.

He had not moved.

Frozen with shame, she reached out and touched his cheek and felt that his skin was ice cold. He had suffered—her fingers ran down the edge of an old scar. But it was not a hideous face, only a human one. She couldn’t remember ever seeing him before, but this was not a neighborhood of strangers. How had it taken death to make him visible?

The wind became shrill and deafening and the white lights of the fir tree blinked red. Out of this strangeness, the ambulance appeared. Marianne knew that the men who came down from the van asked questions and she answered them, but the body was gone and the ambulance was rounding the corner, silently, before she had made sense of this apparition.

The snow was falling and sticking to the sidewalk where the body had lain. With the clarity of thought that comes only in the bitterest cold, Marianne knew that she could never leave New York. It was a revelation and a penance: there was too much to see.


What Laura Won:

  • $100.00 Cash Prize
  • $25 Amazon Gift Card
  • Publication of winning story on website
  • The Hungry Writer’s Guide to Tracking and Capturing a Literary Agent by Annette Fix
  • A Year’s Subscription to Premium-Green Markets
  • 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:

Decaf  by Pia Padukone, New York, New York

The People We Used to Be  by Madeline Mora-Summonte, Sarasota, Florida

The Remedy  by Marina Sabatini, Kingwood, Texas

Meet Me at Dorsky’s  by Kelly Thompson, Pierre, South Dakota

my father’s day  by Wave Geber, Berkeley, California

Lavender Roses  by Candi Sary, Costa Mesa, California

Nothing Left Unsaid  by Elizabeth Esse Kahrs, Scituate, Massachusetts

What the Runners Up Won:

  • $25 Amazon Gift Card
  • Publication of winning story on website
  • The Hungry Writer’s Guide to Tracking and Capturing a Literary Agent by Annette Fix
  • A Year’s Subscription to Premium-Green Markets
  • 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.

Special of the Day   by Norah Piehl, Wellesley, Massachusetts

Germ Warfare  by Ami C. Bair, Pickett, Wisconsin

Discarded Good Deeds  by Linda Courtland, Sierra Madre, California

Heartless  by Mary Ellen Sanger, Bronx, New York

The Corn Crib Incident  by Mary Jo Caffrey, Gretna, Nebraska

Recollections of Childhood  by Sharon Blacknall, Las Vegas, Nevada

The Screamer  by Shelley Jewell, West Baldwin, Maine

Three Inches Closer  by Michele Roach, St. Louis, Missouri

When You Go  by Jennifer Smith Gray, Toronto, Ontario, CANADA

Makeup God  by Susan M. Nacsa, Round Lake Beach, Illinois

Smiley Face Second Grade  by Steffanie Gamecho, Pleasanton, California

Apartment 115  by Cody McCormack, El Cajon, California

The Calm Within the Storm  by Mikal Cardine, Warrenton, Virginia

Different  by Patricia Ann McKinnes, Stone Mountain, Georgia

Laced with Black Thread  by Gayle Beveridge, Narre Warren North, Victoria, AUSTRALIA

What the Honorable Mentions Won:

  • $20 Amazon Gift Card
  • The Hungry Writer’s Guide to Tracking and Capturing a Literary Agent by Annette Fix


This brings our Winter 2010 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:


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