Issue 30 - Finding Your Genre - Amanda Stevens, Betty Isabel Ferguson, Winter Winners


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WOW! Classes

Flash Fiction Contest!

20 Questions - Amanda Stevens - Southern Gothic Novelist


Freenlancer's Corner - Breaking Out of the Mystery/Thriller Slush Pile - Susanne Shaphren


Rules for Writing Fantasy by Sue Bradford Edwards


5 Historical Fiction Pitfalls and How to Avoid Them by Margo L. Dill


Exploring Magic Realism by Allena Tapia

How2 Find the Perfect Horror Fit 4 You - Cathy C. Hall


Inspiration - Beth Isabel Ferguson 92 Years Young! - Carol Ayer


Fall 2008 Contest Winners!







Truly Useful Site Award

As Featured On Best Ezines



 

Go to wow-womenonwriting.comArticlesContestMarketsBlogClasses

   

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

   

Thanks to our Guest Judge:

Literary Agent, Janet Reid

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

Janet Reid is an agent with FinePrint Literary Management (http://www.fineprintlit.com). Her specialty is relentlessly commercial crime fiction but she also swoons over well written projects in many other categories. Her asssssistant is a 12 foot long stuffed snake (given to her by Lee Child.) She maintains a blog at http://www.jetreidliterary.blogspot.com to rant about everything that makes her snarl from query letters to...well, query letters. She also runs http://www.queryshark.blogspot.com to critique query letters. After hours she stalks Jack Reacher.

Find out more about Janet by reading her interview on WOW! Women On Writing: http://wow-womenonwriting.com/15-20questions.html

Special letter from Janet Reid to contestants:

To all the writers selected as finalists:

It was my great pleasure and honor to read your work. It was darn hard to winnow the list down from ten. I read all the stories first, and wrote the individual comments you received. (Note from WOW!: For contestants/stories that Janet commented on, your feedback will be sent via email. Stay tuned!) Then I had to think about how to choose just three from the ten.

The first thing I did was make a list of the stories that evoked an intense emotion. That narrowed the list—but even then, I had more than three. 

I went back and looked for narrative arc: did the story tell something from beginning to end? That's EXTREMELY difficult in such a short amount of time. 

After that, I was down to four.

I had to think very hard about what to do next. I went back and read the stories again. The story I selected evoked emotion, had a narrative arc, and then it did one more thing: it reversed the emotional tone of the story. I found myself laughing just a few sentences after feeling sad. That's an extraordinary achievement in such a short form.

Truly, though, I hate to say there are winners because that implies losers and none of you are that. Neither are your stories. I hope I'll see more of your work in the future!

~ Janet Reid

http://www.jetreidliterary.blogspot.com
http://www.queryshark.blogspot.com

   

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:  Gay Degani
Pasadena, California
Congratulations Gay!

Gay’s Bio:

Gay Degani, a former community college instructor in English, lives in Southern California with her husband and ancient Labrador retriever. She's been published in two mystery anthologies, in THEMA Literary Journal and on-line at Every Day Fiction, Flash Fiction Online, Tattoo Highway, and Salt River Review. “Spring Melt” was a finalist for The 2nd Annual Micro Fiction Award and has been nominated for a Pushcart Prize. “Monsoon” was a finalist in Glimmer Train’s 2007 Fiction Open and “Wounded Moon” was short-listed for the 2008 Fish Short Story Prize. My blog is Words in Place and I am the editor of Flash Fiction Chronicles for Every Day Fiction.

Read my work online:
Losing Ground at Tattoo Highway, The London Eye at Every Day Fiction, Listing Lisa at Salt River Review, and Spring Melt is a 2008 Micro Fiction Finalist and a Pushcart Nominee.

Printable View


Beyond the Curve

 

Three months after Allen Winter’s bicycle became a tangle of aluminum along Huntington Drive, his widow Carol moved into a small cottage along the Arroyo. The new property was tucked into a curve of the road, the narrow front yard closed off by white oleander and a six-foot iron fence. The path leading to the front door, visible at the gate, soon became invisible because like the street, it too was curved.

An alley ran along her walled-in backyard where an automatic gate spanned the driveway. She never left her car until the garage door slid down behind her.

Six months after Allen’s death, she finally began to breathe. She’d hung no pictures, none of Allen and none of their son. No art, although Carol herself was an artist of sorts. Jewelry. Stones and magnets. Maybe she’d do something about the empty walls today. Maybe it was time.

But later in the shower, hot water streaming down her body, she saw Allen through the beaded glass door, framed beyond her reach like a blurry painting. Bright red latex, yellow striping, helmet in one hand, a leg swung over his bike, standing out there in the bathroom. Carol turned away, twisting a knob. She flinched as cold water splashed onto her breasts, her stomach, the triangle of hair between her legs.

Later in the kitchen, thoughts of hanging pictures gone, Carol dug for decaf in the freezer. Rinsed the coffee pot. Clutched the grinder. A cry came from somewhere out front. Then another.

She tiptoed through the shadowed dining area and into the entry. Pulled aside the linen curtain. Trees, a bit of sky, and no one in view.

The word “Heeelp!” made her unbolt the door. Bright light washed across the polished oak floors, followed by the sweet smell of eucalyptus.

She ventured onto the brick path and saw, hanging on her six-foot fence, a red-haired, red-faced boy, his flannel shirt snagged on an iron finial. He was younger than Carol’s son, maybe 15 or so, hands gripping the fence. He was twisting up his knees to keep his baggy pants from slipping off his hips.

Carol shouted, “You’re trespassing.”

“Dude, I wanna sell you a magazine.”

“That’s why the gate is locked.”

“I thought it was stuck. Dude, nobody locks his front…Hey!” His pants slid toward his naked feet, taking Spiderman boxers—Spiderman!—with them. Both slipped onto the ground. The boy curled his legs upward and groaned.

She pivoted away, hiding an unbidden smile.

“Not funny,” the kid said. “Can’t you do something?”

She cut across the lawn. A worn pamphlet and a receipt pad rested near the fence. Beyond the gate lay Nikes and tube socks. “Why’d you take off your shoes?”

“Didn’t wanna rip ‘em. Just hand me them shorts.”

He grabbed them from her, and pushed the ball of one foot against her arm. She stumbled forward and he said, “Sorry. I need—”

“What if I hold them, so you can at least get your leg in?”

“Okay, but don’t turn around.” He held them out. She grasped one side, he the other. “Didn’t mean to cause trouble, but I was desperate.”

He got one foot through the waist, then lost his grip on the fence. There was a noisy rip, and he landed on the grass with a thump.

Glimpsing his white back under the torn shirt, she turned away, smiling again. She realized what she was feeling was lightness.

“Go ahead,” he said. “Make fun of me. Just buy a magazine, okay?”

“I don’t read magazines.”

“You gotta read People. Everybody reads People. How’re you gonna know what’s going on in the world?”

“I don’t think People—”

“I got others. I got a whole speech. I memorized it. You got something better to do?”

She should send this pushy boy packing. He would go, she thought, if she explained about Allen. Allen. She stared through the gate to the street.

She moved away fast, up the path toward her open front door where broken bits of golden light slow-danced against the gray walls inside.

She stopped. Drew in breath. Eucalyptus. Grass. Something better to do than listen to this boy? She turned.

The kid stood in his bare feet, his baggy pants resting on his hips, the magazine pamphlet unfurled in his hand.

“What’s your name?” she asked.

“Josh.”

“Okay, Josh. Let’s see if your sales pitch is any good.”

 

***

What Gay Won:

  • $200.00 Cash Prize
  • Publication of winning story on WOW-WomenOnWriting.com website
  • A WOW! and Sponsors Prize Pack
  • A Year’s Subscription to Premium-Green Markets
  • Interview on WOW!’s blog The Muffin
2nd Place:  Theresa Mae Leitch
Toronto, Ontario, CANADA
Congratulations Theresa!

Theresa’s Bio:

Since I was a kid, I’ve been writing stories and ripping them up before anyone could see them. Now that I’m in my thirties, I’ve finally got the ovaries to share my work with others. It’s amazing what a fun career, two amazing kids, a loving partner and a prescription for Prozac can do for one’s confidence…besides, I’m finding that it’s a lot harder to rip up my stories now that they’re on a computer.

I have a weird but enjoyable job as a lawyer who runs a library and implements knowledge management initiatives at a large Canadian law firm. In between work and family, I’m polishing my first novel and trying to learn about the crazy world of publishing.

Printable View


Mommy’s Here

The bathroom I'm hidden in is right next to the baby's room, but I can barely hear her shrieking over the buzzing in my ears. Anger reminds me of the ocean. It roars like the sound of seashells pressed against my ears, swelling louder and louder, till I feel like my head will burst if I can't make it shut up.

"She keeps screaming." He shouts so I can hear him over the TV. "Why aren't you calming her down?"

"We're Ferberizing her. Remember? I've got to leave her for fifteen minutes this time."

He mutters something that I can't quite hear. It's hard to keep the stress out of my voice, and I'm sure he can tell I'm staggering near the edge. He'll be really pissed if he has to come up here. God. It's not bad enough that I can't get the baby to sleep, but I can't even stay calm enough to deal with it. We both hate it when he has to swoop in to save the day.

"Sorry," I add as cheerfully as I can. Convincing enough, I guess, because he turns up the TV. Now, the sound of tin-canned laughs mixes with the baby's wails and my angry ocean.

I can't stand it. I grab the Exacto knife I keep hidden on top of the vanity and slither down the door till I hit the ground. I promised I wouldn't do this again, but I am losing my mind here. I won't go deep. I'll wear long sleeves for a few nights.

I click it open softly, slowly, and watch the pitted blade emerge.

"It's okay, baby," I sing to my daughter, forcing myself to smile in a pathetic attempt to sound soothing and in control. You should reassure the baby from afar, all the books say so. It never works, but I do it anyway.

I grab some tissues.

"Don't cry. You're okay, sweetie."

I yank my sleeve up as high as I can. Jerk it hard over my shoulder. Slowly, I turn my arm over and look at the soft, dimpled underside. This is the right thing to do. I just need to release a little tension and I can make everyone happy.

"Just go in and take care of her, for chrissake. I can't hear shit."

“Time's almost up." I'm still sing-songing and cheerful, but now I almost mean it.

I slash my arm.

I don't see blood yet. I slash again. Harder. Again. Finally, I see red seeping out in a satisfying crisscross pattern, feel the rage and bile slip out with it. My shoulders sink and I close my eyes for a moment before looking back at my arm.

The drops of blood strain toward each other for a moment before they finally melt together and dance down my arm. I catch them in the tissue and look with satisfaction at the red and white Pollack I've made. I blot my arm, adding to the pattern, before flushing the evidence away.

"It's been at least 15 minutes."

I don't answer him. I'm already pulling my shirtsleeve back down and slipping into the baby's room. The pain of cotton rubbing against my cuts gives me the first real smile I've had in days.

I cup Sarah's sweaty face and smooth back her hair, laughing at her indignant expression as she demands to come up.

"Everything's okay," I say. "Mommy's here."

 

***

What Theresa Won:

  • $150.00 Cash Prize
  • Publication of winning story on WOW-WomenOnWriting.com website
  • A WOW! and Sponsors Prize Pack
  • A Year’s Subscription to Premium-Green Markets
  • Interview on WOW!’s blog The Muffin
3rd Place:  Kimberly A. Zook
Alexandria, Virginia
Congratulations Kim!

Kimberly’s Bio:

Kimberly's adventures of living alone in a hut in the middle of a Costa Rican rainforest for two years, bike riding throughout Japan, conducting research on tropical reforestation, and moving frequently as a wife of a Navy officer certainly fill her carpetbag full of experiences she draws upon in her writing. But it wasn't until she became a mother that the true adventure began. After winning 1st Place in a Mom Writer's Literary Magazine writing contest, Kimberly realized one of her writing passions is literary essays on motherhood and writing. In addition to maintaining a blog on this topic, Zook Book Nook, Kimberly is a stay-at-home mom who is working on writing her first young adult novel, children's picture books and articles, and more essays on motherhood and writing. She and her husband currently live on the east coast, where they are expecting their second daughter to be born any day!

Printable View


Elements

My years as an organic chemist have taught me only one thing: every human on earth has a single element that permeates their entire being. Unfortunately, I'm still trying to discover mine.

MERCURY (Hg) - My husband's metallic body pools into a heavy liquid over mine as he falls asleep on top of me under the hot Nicaraguan sun. Beads of quicksilver drip into my pores. A restless scorpion stirs under the roof of our hut. My lungs dampen to a level of toxicity when my suave Latin lover rolls off my body.

It is winter in the states. Are my sisters thinking of their ex-pat sibling baking in a hut on a dual-volcanic island shaped like an hour-glass, waiting...

We married only three weeks after magnetically meeting on the shore of Lake Managua. Its waters drip of mercury. Our honeymoon, a ferry ride over waters buzzing of bull sharks, ended at Ometepe Island, Raul's home.

"I used to race those sharks as a boy," Raul told me, "but they're unpredictable and aggressive. You're lucky they didn't catch me."

Volatile mercury, known for speed and mobility among the Roman gods, should be handled with care.

MANGANESE (Mn) - Her hard and brittle calluses crackle in my hand. Raul's mother snorts and returns to flattening tortillas on plantain leaves in the spicy kitchen. My efforts at making tortillas do little to melt this manganese mother. Our relationship is already tainted with rust. My kidneys ache of her element.

"Mi carina, Zobeida," she exclaims at the entrance of a dazzling young woman. My dear, Zobeida.

"Quien es que?" Zobeida asks as a little girl peers around her legs. Who is that?

The disgust in his mother's voice burns my face. "Raul's esposa." Raul's wife.

"Esposa," spats Zobeida. Her eyes reflect a painful shock before she shrugs it away. "Puede cocinar?" Can she cook?

Raul's mother cackles and tosses her head to the black stove where my lumpy thick tortillas burn next to her fluffy light ones. At the table, Zobeida begins to sort through a pile of black beans, casting aside the ones bored into by insects.

The forgotten little girl stares up at me, her coffee-rich almond eyes linger on my necklace of cowrie shells.

Raul's been gone for six days now, off to Managua with a cart full of plantains. My passionate drunken love for him begins to dissipate as the bruises of manganese upon my body color to a shade of amethyst.

Manganese colors glass a shade of amethyst, which was once believed to protect a person from intoxication.

MAGNESIUM (Mg) - The little girl giggles as I wrinkle up my nose at the stench of a stink bug. We've been harvesting coffee all afternoon. I've learned only that her name is Maria and she is six years old. I anticipate Raul's return, so I can understand more about her.

Maria's delicate thin fingers wrap around my wrist, preventing me from accidentally disturbing another pungent bug. Her infectious laughter and brilliant smile have healed my wounds from this morning's interactions in the kitchen, and I relax in the shade of the tall coffee plants.

"Papa!" Maria shouts. She bursts into the air like an exploding vision of fireworks, and races down the row of plants. I glance up from my basket of red coffee berries to find Raul walking toward us. I look past him but see no one. Raul gets down on one knee and Maria steps up and jumps into his arms, a move so smooth it's been long-practiced.

His free hand grabs my waist and pulls me to his body.

"My daughter, you met," he states.

"Mi papa," Maria says proudly.

"They live with us, some days."

"They?" I ask, stepping away from his magnetic pull.

"Maria and her mother, Zobeida."

My body hardens. Raul sees the accusation in my glare.

"She's not my girlfriend. You now are my wife." Raul slowly reaches down for my hand. "My wife, I love."

The instant drain of attraction for Raul leaves my body quaking as his last words sprinkle down on me like rain drops on a cracked desert floor.

I panic, running blind inside the labyrinth of my mind until Maria's hand gently touches my shoulder. She leans out of Raul's arms towards me and lightly touches the seashells around my neck.

"I make.";

Magnesium, a supernova element, is essential to all living organisms.

 

***

What Kim Won:

  • $100.00 Cash Prize
  • Publication of winning story on WOW-WomenOnWriting.com website
  • A WOW! and Sponsors Prize Pack
  • 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:

Windows of Change by Cindy Haynes, Bedford, Massachusetts

Ten the Hard Way by Vera Constantineau, Copper Cliff, Ontario, CANADA

The Sad Affair of Maxwell Weedon by Dianna Graveman, St. Charles, Missouri

Jackpot by Sarah Hina, Athens, Ohio

Book By Its Cover by Katie Noah Gibson, Abilene, Texas

Mama’s Wish Comes True by Julie C. Eger, Wautoma, Wisconsin

When My Grandmother Made Perogies by Tricia Bowering, Vancouver, British Columbia, CANADA

What the Runners Up Won:

  • Publication of winning story on WOW-WomenOnWriting.com website
  • A Prize Pack from WOW! Women On Writing
  • A Year’s Subscription to Premium-Green Markets
  • Interview on WOW!’s blog The Muffin

HONORABLE MENTIONS (In no particular order):

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

Justice  by Madra Sikora, Omaha, Nebraska

Marnie  by Penni Harris Jones, Dexter, Michigan

Kidnapped!  by Kendra Smith, Rockmart, Georgia

Money for Nothing  by Joanna Smith, Jensen Beach, Florida

Kayla’s Spoonerisms  by Leona Charlie Holman-Collins, Piney Flats, Tennessee

Guilty Pleasures  by Elizabeth Ledford, Franklin, Tennessee

Sand Dunes  by Lisa Ammerman, Englewood, Florida

Strange Bedfellows  by Kim Hedden, Annapolis, Maryland

Watcher  by Halie Rosenberg, Los Angeles, California

Love of a Hero  by Cathy Graham, Vernon, Ontario, CANADA

Terrycloth Cape  by Christine Endy, Weatherford, Texas

Dancing in the Dark  by Alan Grayce, Doylestown, Pennsylvania

Time to Board  by M.L. Van Haaren, Maastricht, The NETHERLANDS

A Lack of Darkness  by Kimberly Luchsinger, Woodbury, Minnesota

More Than Stretch Marks  by Christine Francoeur, Calgary, Alberta, CANADA

What the Honorable Mentions Won:

  • A WOW! Prize Pack

IN CLOSING:

This brings our Winter 2009 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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