Saturday, February 20, 2010


Writer Advice Flash Prose Contest

DEADLINE: April 15, 2010

Can you create flash fiction, memoir, and creative non-fiction that grabs, surprises, and mesmerizes readers in fewer than 750 words? If you have a story or memoir with a strong theme, sharp images, a solid structure, and an unexpected discovery, then the fifth annual WriterAdvice Flash Prose Contest is one to look into.

You can submit up to three stories, typed and double-spaced. Email submissions will not be accepted. Entry fee is $10 per submission. All entries accompanied by an SASE will be returned with brief comments.

PRIZES: First Place - $150; Second Place - $75; Third Place - $50; Fourth Place - $25; Honorable Mentions will also be published. Names of all winners will be announced in the summer issue of WriterAdvice.

CONTACT: For questions only, please email editor B. Lynn Goodwin at

A complete listing of submission details can be found at Good luck!

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Thursday, February 11, 2010


Milkweed Editions National Fiction Prize

Hey, WOW! readers, take a look at this competition for the fiction writers among us, which appeared in the February 2010 issue of Writer’s Digest Magazine.

Milkweed Editions, an independent, nonprofit literary publisher, will award the National Fiction Prize to the best work of fiction Milkweed accepts for publication during each calendar year by a writer not previously published by them.

They’re accepting manuscripts anywhere from 150 to 400 pages in length and the following categories are eligible: novels, short story collections, and novellas. Works previously published in book form in the U.S. are not eligible, but individual stories or novellas previously published in magazines or anthologies are.

The prize winner will receive publication by Milkweed and a $5,000 cash advance against royalties.

For complete details, surf over to Milkweed Editions site here.

And best of luck to you!

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Monday, September 07, 2009


Spring '09 First Place Contest Winner, Teresa Davis!

Teresa Davis, an accounting graduate from the University of Alaska, spent numerous years as a CPA until she turned her focus back to her first love: writing. Her work has appeared in a trade newsletter and several online magazines. She has also written teaching curricula for She now lives and writes in Germantown, TN. This was her first contest accomplishment, and she was honored to be among the finalists.

You can read Teresa's winning story, "The Girl," here.

Interview by Marcia Peterson

WOW: Congratulations on your first place win! What inspired you to enter the contest?

Teresa: Thank you! I believe entering contests is an invaluable writing tool. I especially love the WOW! Women On Writing contests because your authors tend to write the kind of stories I enjoy reading and writing. The savvy writer can experiment with new voices, story ideas, and even different genres, by entering contests. An important step is to be sure to go back and read the winning entries so you can compare and contrast you own entry to those. This is a fun way to critique your own writing because it allows you a more objective look at your story.

WOW: Can you tell us what encouraged the idea behind your story?

Teresa: When a story idea comes to mind, I usually sit down and write about it immediately, but this time was different. Someone I knew was killed in a car accident eighteen years ago. Another driver reported seeing my friend just moments before the wreck. I have often wondered what that moment must have been like. It took eighteen years, but the basic idea finally found its way into a plot.

WOW: You did a great job with the story. Have you written other flash fiction? What type of writing do you most prefer?

Teresa: Yes, I have written other flash fiction, but this is the first of this type to be published. For as long as I can remember, I have preferred reading short stories over novels; therefore, when I began writing, I naturally gravitated toward smaller pieces such as articles, essays, poems, and short stories. I had never heard of the term flash fiction until a couple of years ago, at which time I promptly fell in love.

WOW: And now you've won first place in a flash fiction contest! According to your bio, you were a CPA for many years before focusing on your writing. How did you orchestrate that change, and how would you compare your life then and now?

Teresa: It sounds strange, doesn’t it, to go from rigid math rules—tax laws, no less—to something as free and creative as writing? I enjoyed both in college, but I already had accounting experience and felt I was better suited for that. Although I enjoyed my accounting years, the long hours left little time for anything else. In the midst of preparing tax return after tax return deep into the night, I found writing a story or two was helpful to clear my head. It didn’t take long to figure out that writing is much more fun! After the first few pieces sold, I was hooked. I eventually dissolved my tax practice and put my license in inactive status, and I’ve never been happier.

WOW: Good for you! We’d love to know more about your writing routines. Could you tell us when and where you usually write? Do you have favorite tools or habits that get you going?

Teresa: I write late at night when the world is dark and quiet. I know a lot of writers say that, but I guess it just works for some of us. There’s something about being surrounded by darkness that entices my ideas. I hide out for hours with my laptop in one of several favorite nooks in our house. Often, I become so engrossed in a project that I won’t make it to bed until three or four in the morning. I’m not sure why, but writing during daylight hours turns my voice flat. I also play the same song over and over on my iPod while I work. Hearing the same song repeatedly helps me stay grounded in the mood of a story.

WOW: It's always interesting to learn how others writers make it work. One final question, Teresa: If there was one bit of advice you could pass on to other aspiring writers, what would it be?

Teresa: There is not a universal formula for becoming an established writer. The only real “trick” is finding the right audience for each story, and that’s just a matter of research and persistence. Regardless of the number of rejections, keep honing your writing skills, rewrite constantly, seek out new markets, and never give up.


We'll continue getting to know the Top 10 contest winners every week on Tuesdays. Be sure to check back for more interviews!

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Tuesday, February 10, 2009


Interview with Emily Rinkema, Runner Up

By Cher'ley Grogg

Emily Rinkema is an English teacher living in the small town of Westford, Vermont with her husband and two dogs. While on partial sabbatical this year, she is working on her first novel and enjoying every minute of it. She has had short stories published in Seven Days and The Sun magazine, and writes whenever she can find the time.

Emily placed in the Top 10 in the WOW! Summer Flash Fiction Contest. Read her winning story, Before, and then come back for a chat with this talented writer.

WOW: Welcome, Emily! It's so cool that you're an English teacher. What grade do you teach and what's your biggest challenge as a teacher for that age group?

Emily: I teach tenth-graders mostly. I love this age group for so many reasons. They are young enough to be able to let go and have fun, and yet they are becoming young adults, so they are able to think critically and analytically. My biggest challenge is probably meeting the needs of all learners; I believe strongly in the importance of heterogeneous classes, yet this makes teaching more difficult. The key to challenging all students is to provide differentiated learning experiences, and I spend most of my non-teaching time trying to become a better teacher in this way.

WOW: I enjoy tenth-graders too, mainly because my 3 grandsons are at that age. Our schools certainly reflect the melting-pot of our society. Your students are so fortunate to have a teacher who reaches out to each of them and at the same time teaches them to work together. Writing a novel is hard work. What is your novel about?

Emily: I'm not sure yet. I'm about 150 pages into it and it keeps changing. I guess it's about the difference between truth and memory...about which is ultimately more powerful or important. And it's about a family. And chickens.

WOW: (Laughing) You got my attention when you said chickens. I love chickens. You're story Before struck home with me. My home state, West Virginia, is a big mining state and my grandfather was a coal miner. Are there a lot of mines in Vermont? Do you have a relative that works in the mines?

Emily: As far as I know, there aren't any mines in Vermont...we're more of a dairy state. I became interested in mining years ago after reading a newspaper story about a mine collapse. It has stuck with me since then.

WOW: You did such a wonderful job on her emotions; I was sure you'd experienced the tragedy first hand. I loved the comparison of Carla and Sue's lives and of the way you described Carla's reaction to the news--the shock that laid under the surface. Did your story start out in Carla's POV?

Emily: The story was originally first person, but third person seemed a more effective way of providing the distance I wanted.

WOW: Often people go into shock and continue doing their routine tasks (like spreading peanut butter), as a way to avoid facing the emergency at hand. You nailed the connection between the center of the mine and Carla's pregnancy. Did that just fall into place or did you strategically plan it that way?

Emily: From the beginning (the first draft), I knew Carla was going to be pregnant. I wanted to play with the connection between the mine and the womb, as well as Carla's feeling of entrapment. The earliest drafts were much longer and were a bit too obvious with connections--I wanted the parallels to be evident, but not hit the reader over the head with symbolism.

WOW: You handled the situation like a pro. How long have you been writing?

Emily: I've been writing stories since I was a kid, but it was only a few years ago that I actually let anyone read anything or tried to publish. In my mind, there was an implied arrogance about sending out writing--I felt that by sending my work to a magazine or journal or contest, I was saying that it was good enough to be in print. That was a tough hurdle for me; I never think anything I write is "finished," but I finally got to the point where I thought what the... Because of my teaching job, I don't find much time to write, but I take what time I can find.

WOW: It seems that as writers we push writing to the back burner way too often. Do you prefer flash fiction or long stories?

Emily: I like writing both. Flash fiction is a different kind of challenge--every
word has to count. I find that writing flash fiction makes me a better, more careful writer. I am much more aware of my use of language when I have to be precise and concise.

WOW: Thank you, Emily, for taking the time to share with our WOW readers. Since I have you sharing--how did you feel when you found out you placed as a runner up? Is this the first contest you've entered? What advice do you have for a writer who's thinking of entering a contest?

Emily: I was excited to place in this contest, and hopefully I will have more confidence moving forward. I have had a few short stories published, but this is the first contest I've entered. My advice for those thinking of entering...go for it. You've got nothing to lose!

If you haven't already done so, please read Emily's story Before.

The Winter Flash Fiction Contest is open. Deadline: February 28, 2009 (or until we reach 300 entries). Don't wait until the last minute! Visit our Contest Page for details. Happy writing!

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Tuesday, January 20, 2009


Interview with WOW! Summer Flash Fiction Second Place Winner, Emily Howson

Emily Howson is a senior at the University of Dayton, the home of humor writer Erma Bombeck. She has been devoted to reading since she was a little girl, but she only recently began to take writing seriously. She finds her storytelling voice in her family--a combination of her grandmother’s approachable charm, her grandfather’s bluster, her mother’s gushing excitement, and her father’s bizarre sense of humor. Her work with professors Stephen Wilhoit and Joseph Pici has nurtured and pruned her abilities. She is interning as an editor with Just Business, Inc. in Dayton, OH, helping to produce performing arts publications. Right now, Emily’s life is full and crazy and wonderful, and she’s spending every moment she can with her roommates and her boyfriend of five years.

Most recently, her stories have appeared in Orpheus, University of Dayton’s literary magazine, and, and the St. Anthony Messenger. She is currently attempting to create a novel for young adults. Emily will graduate in May 2009 with degrees in English and Psychology, and she hopes to pursue a life writing, reading, and editing.

If you haven't done so already, read Emily's award-winning story, Jenny, and then come back and join us for a chat. ;)

WOW: Being the second place winner is a real honor. How did you feel when you found out that you won second place?

Emily: I was actually in a bit of shock, thinking, Me? Really? But then I got very excited and ran downstairs to tell my roommates. This was somewhat early in the morning, so I think my exuberance may have fallen on some sleeping (and therefore annoyed, though not deaf) ears.

WOW: We share a common city. I was born in Lancaster, Ohio. Often we're shaped by the places we're raised. I think of Lancaster as a smaller, less-violent city, but it's been a few years since I've spent any time there. Did Lancaster have any influence on your story? Do you feel that being from there gave you a big town or a small town feeling?

Emily: How cool that we share a city! Most people outside of Ohio (and even plenty inside of it) have never ever heard of Lancaster. Anyway, I don't think Lancaster has probably changed much. It's still pretty small, pretty safe, though it finally has a Wal-Mart which is starting to kill the small-town locally-owned cobble-stone feel to some parts of it--small places just can't compete with 24-hr Walgreens and all that. But I think growing up in Lancaster (we moved there when I was in first grade) has certainly given me a perspective that is small-town and that comes out in my stories, including Jenny. I also think working at a country club for a couple summers had a lot to do with Jenny.

WOW: I remember the cobble-stone streets. I'm amazed that you have any time for writing. I admire your energy. Which do you find most challenging: being a college student, an intern for Just Business, managing your social life or finding time to write?

Emily: Finding time to write ranks second on my list of "Most Challenging Things to Do." It's right below "Dance gracefully" (think puppet in a windstorm) and right above "Eat all my vegetables and fruits." Being a college student and working (along with my internship, I also tutor writing at UD's Write Place) and managing my social life are easier because they involve external motivations (i.e., other people). But writing is all me--I either write or I don't. Unfortunately, actually sitting down and writing usually gets tossed to the wayside. So I do a lot of daydreaming/writing-in-my-head/dreamstorming (whatever you want to call it) and scribble ideas and phrases down all over the place. If and when do find time to write, I try to turn those scribbles into stories. Sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn't.

WOW: Wow, I thought I juggled a busy schedule. I think you've hit onto something about writing--even when we share what we've written, the creation has to be self-motivated. What did you base Jenny on? Did you have a murder that touched your life? Was the color red representative of her death?

Emily: I'm not sure I really based Jenny on anything in particular. I've led a life pretty untouched by tragedy. There's a lot of stuff I thankfully haven't had to learn about life and about myself. So, no murders. I wanted to use the color red for a couple of different reasons, and one of them had to with its association with blood/injury/death. But it's also a popular lingerie color, and one our society associates with sex, and sexy women. So maybe there are a lot of ways for women to die, and getting shot in a gas station robbery is just one very literal way.

WOW: You really got into the narrator's head. How hard was it to write from the male perspective?

Emily: Writing from the male perspective wasn't too hard. Whether I did so accurately or not is up for grabs. I guess men and women think differently and view the world differently, but I think the degree of difference depends on what man and what woman. The line blurs sometimes, and in some situations. For instance, if a train is seconds from plowing you in the face, man or woman, we'd probably all think the same thing. The narrating voice of "Jenny" is rather simple, but I'm not sure about the degree to which that simplicity is a result of his personality, his socio-economic background, his education level, his male sex, or his masculine gender.

WOW: Women are from Venus, (laughs). Who has most inspired you in your writing? Who is your favorite author?

Emily: Tough question. My family has certainly encouraged my writing, but as for inspiration, I have difficulty pinpointing any one person. At different stages in my life and in my writing, different writers have played a huge role. In 2nd grade or so, for instance, the authors (under the name Carolyn Keene) who wrote the Nancy Drew books were my heroes. I wanted to write books just like them for girls just like me. Then I moved on to a fantasy stage in my teens, and in that genre, Philip Pullman became my new hero and inspiration. These days I am inspired by writers with distinct, humorous, and memorable voices. I like Melissa Bank, and James Thurber, and Oscar Wilde. But every time I read something good, I get inspired. I'm a pushover, really.

WOW: I see you're working on a YA novel, why did you choose that age group? Do you feel it's harder to write short stories or novel chapters?

Emily: I chose the YA age group because I have so many good memories of stories when I was that age. I'd like to enchant younger readers in the same way that I was enchanted. In terms of the writing process, I think novel chapters can be easier, because they don't have to be perfectly complete in and of themselves. Short stories are a fascinating medium, but they challenge me to be to-the-point and use the right word instead of many words. I feel a little more freedom with novel chapters, yet at the same time; I really ought to consider novel chapters more like short stories. I'm going to go back and have to edit a lot of the chaff later on because I just let myself go!

WOW: It seems that no matter how tight we write, there's always plenty of revision that needs done. Thank you, Emily for the interview. You've made me realize no matter how busy I am I need to find time to write. I believe you'll be an inspiration to our WOW readers. Do you have a final thought for writers who'd like to enter writing contests?

Emily: Click send, even though it can be terrifying. Share your writing. The first time I allowed anyone (and I mean anyone) to read some of my writing, I was literally shaking all over. I still get nervous, though the shaking has stopped. But if your story is good, and it fits the contest, by all means - send it in! The worst that can happen? You'll lose a couple dollars and know just that much more about yourself (i.e., you were brave enough to click send!)

If you haven't already done so please read Emily's story "Jenny" at

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Sunday, June 10, 2007


WOW! Flash Fiction Contest Testimonials

Our editors, Angela and Beryl, add a personal touch to each of the WOW! Quarterly Flash Fiction Contest prizes. Read on for randomly selected winners’ notes from the Winter 2007 Contest.

Donna Wilkins earned 2nd Place for writing Nearly Rich and Famous. When she received her package she wrote: “I have scanned the check you sent and enlarged it to fit in an 8x10 frame. I'm hanging it on the wall in the room where I write. Whenever I get discouraged, I will look at that check and remember that I can succeed. Thanks again for the prizes, the encouragement, and for simply being really nice people!”

Jennifer Daniels, a Runner Up for June Bugs n’Ice Cream, wrote: “The candles, the wrapped little treats, the Wow hat, the manicure tool kit, the Upton Sinclair book The Jungle! I was especially touched by that personalized gesture as I had mentioned I really liked that book in my interview . . . I really did just want to cry as I touched my hand to my chest (I'm a writer as you know, so bear with my swooning over here). I opened it up and looked for your autographs (wink, wink) but alas, no. I know you put a lot of work into making these gifts very special and I could tell right away. You guys are somethin' else. I'll cherish these gifts always and I thank you from the bottom of my heart.”

Linda R. Cook, Honorable Mention for Mama Rose and her Flower Children, said, “The UPS man just brought the package from ya'll at WOW! I am so thrilled... this is better than Christmas. The tote, hat, manicure set, book (Alice Munro is a favorite author of mine) treats, candles, and more... all awesome. I love your site and receiving these gifts for my honorable mention is over the top. Once again, my thanks for the prize package, and the fine work and services you provide. WOW rocks!”

Charity Tahmaseb’s TP-ing Casa de Clooney earned an Honorable Mention and she wrote, “Thank you so much for such a generous prize. It was such a nice surprise, arriving as it did on a Monday after a long day at work. I'm thrilled. Thanks again, not just for the great prize, but also for such a well-run contest.”

Jeanne Oravec, Honorable Mention for Aloha, Elayna, realized that our editors “obviously put much thought and effort into preparing the goodies. I will certainly use the hat and bag...and all the other little niceties...My poodle, Buddy, stood over me as I opened the box (he is very spoiled and thinks that every package that arrives has something in it for him) and when he smelled the little marshmallow cones, well, they were history. I thank you on his behalf. I am looking forward to the next contest.”

Their words prove the worth of writing contests. Currently our Summer Flash Fiction Contest is in full swing. Read the Contest Terms and Conditions and get going! Ready, set, write!

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Saturday, December 23, 2006


Contest update, Forum News & Freelancer News!

A Special Holiday Greetings to all of you!


If you entered our contest, you should've received an e-mail regarding your status on the Fall 2006 contest. If you entered and didn't receive an e-mail, please let us know. We try to respond to everyone, to keep you updated on what is going on.

Both Beryl and I have entered a number of contests in the past -- some where we got lucky and heard from the judges, and others where we didn't hear anything at all! So taking this into consideration, we strive to keep you up-to-date on what's happening. We know it's rough... you have your story that you worked so hard on, and want feedback. Isn't that what all of us want?


Well, great news! By mid-February we will finally have a comprehensive forum up! We are truly excited about this, since it's been a goal of ours from the start. But not just any forum for rants and raves etc. We are going to have sections just for you. A Virtual Writer's Group where you can post your work, discuss, and receive feedback from other women. A safe place to share your work, chat or post, and gain insight. It will be free (like all of our content), yet moderator approved. Meaning, that you can be assured that there won't be any message board 'flaming' going on... only constructive critiques and encouragement. This will help us all become better writers. In fact, best stories, articles, reviews etc. for the month will be published in WOW! and/or receive prizes. We truly believe that writers should be awarded for their efforts, and we will wrangle up goodies from our sponsors and ourselves to inspire your growth as a writer. This is important to us.

Other rooms in the forum may be: the daily struggles of writing, inspiration, prompts, reviews, freelancer's markets, magazine issue feedback, letters/questions to the Eds, PR & book promotion, post your events/press releases, contests, journaling, book clubs, and general chit-chat.

Every month we hope to have a professional guest to join our forums to answer any questions you may have regarding the business of writing. This is an extremely valuable resource to gain insight and professional advice to help you reach your goals as a published writer. You can do it!


Ladies, we're adding two new columns! Premiering in our January Issue: "Freelancer's Corner" -- a place for freelancers to write, share, and give tips to other writers, as well as event listings. This column is a paying market, as is the rest of our columns. Pay is .05 cents/word, up to 1500 words. Query your idea, we're open!

Another new column we're adding is "Funds for Writers" by Hope C. Clark. Hope will give you insider tips on grant writing, emergency funds for writers, retreats, residencies, finding funds for a conference, etc. This should prove very informative and exciting.

As always, our columns and features are open. Please query the appropriate department. Our pay is .05-.10 cents/word. Up to 2500 for features (that's $250!) and 1500 for columns. We're looking forward to your queries and submissions. We request that it be previously unpublished material for the uniqueness of WOW!

Hope you have a wonderful holiday season, and as always, we're here, day in, day out, so give us a shout!

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Saturday, December 16, 2006


Contestants! Fall 2006 Contest UPDATE

UPDATE: Our guest judge for the Fall 2006 Contest will be a tad late on the judging. So, if you were frantically checking your e-mail today in hopes of notification... don't worry! You are still in the running!

We sincerely apologize for the delay. We will inform contestants no later than next Wednesday, December 20th.

Since fall was our first contest, we are still learning about what works and what doesn't. We learned that selling the contest e-book in our store was very confusing for most entrants, even ourselves. We also learned that downloading the e-book was a little more complicated than we thought it would be. And don't get me started on our auto-responders sending out the wrong links! Yikes!

This time around, we're making things easier. We added a 'buy now' button to the contest, so when you're ready to enter, it's there. We're also going to have the e-book instructions free for download this next time around (we'll be posting that in January). This will let you review the rules & regs leisurely and be able to understand all the terms before you enter... (duh!) All we will require when you submit your entry for confirmation is to include your receipt #. This will verify your entry.

If you have any suggestions, let's hear 'em! Rant and rave. Let us know what we can do to make things easier for all of us and we'll do our best to make it happen.

Cross your fingers, and stay tuned. Believe me, we're just as excited to know as you are!

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