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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, Marie Lamba

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

Marie Lamba is author of the young adult novels What I Meant . . . (Random House), Over My Head and Drawn. Her work appears in the short story anthology Liar Liar (Mendacity Press), the anthology Call Me Okaasan: Adventures in Multicultural Mothering (Wyatt-MacKenzie Publishing), and her articles are in more than 100 publications including national magazines such as Writer’s Digest, Garden Design and RWR. She has worked as an editor, an award-winning public relations writer, and a book publicist, has taught classes on novel writing and on author promotion, and belongs to the Romance Writers of America, and The Liars Club.

As an agent, Marie is currently looking for young adult and middle grade fiction, along with general and women’s fiction and some memoir. Books that are moving and/or hilarious are especially welcome. She is NOT interested in picture books, science fiction or high fantasy (though she is open to paranormal elements), category romance (though romantic elements are welcomed), non-fiction, or in books that feature graphic violence. 

Some recently favorite titles on her reading shelf include Searching for Caleb by Anne Tyler, Just Listen by Sarah Dessen, Paper Towns by John Green, The Time Traveler's Wife by Audrey Niffeneger, Twenties Girl by Sophia Kinsella, The Graveyard Book by Neil Gaiman, Shug by Jenny Han, and Doing It by Melvin Burgess.  She also admits to watching many many chick flicks.

Please email a query to marie.jdlit@gmail.com. Put “Query” in the subject line of your email, and please send the first twenty pages in the body of your email, along with a one-paragraph bio and a one-paragraph synopsis.

Find out more about Marie by visiting her websites:

Jennifer DeChiara Literary Agency: http://www.jdlit.com/

Author Website: http://www.marielamba.com/

Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/pages/Marie-Lamba-Author/474025635397

Twitter: http://twitter.com/marielamba

LinkedIn: http://www.linkedin.com/pub/marie-lamba/11/309/765

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Personal Note from Marie Lamba: “I was impressed by the strong voices in these works. The top three winners in particular brought together strong voice, an interesting point of view and palpable images and emotions. Impressive achievements in so few words.”

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Special Note to Contestants:

We want to thank each and every one of you for sharing your wonderful stories with our guest judges this season. We know it takes a lot to hit the send button! While we’d love to give every contestant a prize, just for your writing efforts, that wouldn’t be much of a competition. One of the hardest things we do after a contest ends is to confirm that someone didn’t place in the winners’ circle. But, believe it when we say that every one of you is a true winner.

Every writer has been a gracious participant through the whole process, from the beginning of one season to the next. We’ve written emails to authors, agents, and publicists who have donated books to our contest, and we’ve shared our delight regarding the true sportsmanship among our contestants. It doesn’t matter if it’s one writer who placed or another who tried but didn’t; all writers are courteous, professional, and wonderful extensions of WOW! Women On Writing’s team. Writers’ stories and e-mails fill us with enthusiasm.

Kudos to all writers who entered, whether you won or not, you’re still a winner for participating.

***

To recap our current process, we have a roundtable of 4-7 judges who blindly score equally formatted submissions based on: Subject, Content, Technical, and Overall Impression (Style). That’s the first step of the process. If a contestant scores well on the first round, she (or he) receives an e-mail notification that she passed the initial judging phase. The second round judging averages out scores and narrows down the top 20 entries. From this point, our guest judge helps to determine the First, Second, and Third Place Winners, followed by the Runners Up.

As with any contest, judging so many talented writers is not a simple process. With blind judging, all contestants start from the same point, no matter the skill level, experience, or writing credentials. It’s the writer’s story and voice that shines through, along with the originality, powerful and clear writing, and the writer’s heart.

***

We’ve enjoyed reading your stories, each and every one of them. The WOW! Women On Writing judges take time to read them all. We recognize names of previous contestants, writers familiar with our style. We enjoy getting to know you through your writing and e-mailing. Remember that each one of you is a champion in our book. We hope that you continue to enter so we can watch you grow as writers and storytellers, because each season is a rebirth of opportunity.

Now on to the winners!

Drum roll please....

1st Place:  G.G. Silverman
Bothell, Washington
Congratulations G.G.!

G.G.’s Bio:

G.G. Silverman lives north of Seattle with her husband and dog, both of whom are ridiculously adorable.

When she isn’t writing, she loves to explore the mossy woods and wind-swept coast of the Pacific Northwest, which provide moody inspiration for all her stories. She also enjoys bouts of inappropriate laughter, and hates wind chimes because they remind her of horror movies.

She holds a BFA from the Massachusetts College of Art and also completed the Writing for Children program at the University of Washington. She also owns a branding and graphic design firm.

Ms. Silverman placed as a finalist in the 2012 PNWA annual literary awards for her short story, “The Black Dog of Porto Negro.” She is currently working on her first YA novel, a hilarious feminist twist on the zombie genre. Chat with her on Twitter @GG_Silverman

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The House of Butterflies

 

The young woman came every Monday at 4:00, when the museum was free before closing, and manicured mothers pushed strollers to the door to be home by dark. She was often the only one in the Butterfly House, always lingering over the glass case where the chrysalises incubated, where butterflies waited to be born. Brody glanced at her from his office on the other side of the case. Her moon-pale skin was translucent, revealing thin blue veins and dark circles under eyes the color of ice. She wore the same clothes again and again—soiled and black, riddled with holes and stretched thin over her gaunt frame. She hunched under the weight of an army-surplus backpack.

Over the last two months, he watched her through the glass, never letting his eyes meet hers, never once speaking. Each night he rushed to make notes on the progress of the chrysalises, which butterflies had hatched, and which ones failed to break free. But as the weeks went by, the girl intrigued him. Most women strolled the entire path through the lush gardens, stopping to admire the butterflies—their impossible colors, the delicate throb of their wings, their fragrant perch of hothouse flowers—but she never did. Instead, she kept watch by the chrysalises, entranced.

Brody left the confines of his office without making a sound, and stepped into the intoxicating warmth of the Butterfly House, where he stood at a respectful distance to the girl. They both watched in silence.

Each chrysalis is unique, he mused. Some curled up like brown, withered leaves, some were pale green and pod-like, and others flashed speckled gold and iridescent blue and black, shimmering like the jeweled wings of a beetle. The chrysalises were beautiful. He held his breath as a butterfly struggled to emerge, precariously unfolding wet, crumpled wings and spindly legs from their prison, a case of translucent skin.

“Some don’t make it,” he said in a low voice, careful not to frighten the girl. “If they can’t unfold their wings, they die.”

The girl nodded slowly, still watching the case.

“They’re beautiful, aren’t they?”

She nodded again.

“I’m Brody, the museum’s lepidopterologist, which is a fancy term for butterfly scientist.” He smiled and extended his hand.

The girl didn't take it. She continued staring into the glass.

“You come here a lot.”

“Yeah,” she said, her voice barely audible.

“What fascinates you about the chrysalises? Is there anything special you’d like to know?”

The girl’s reverie had been broken. She turned and raised her eyes to meet his. “I’m undergoing an intense transformation, but I’m afraid that instead of becoming a beautiful butterfly . . . that I’ll become a dangerous spider.”

Her statement startled him, and he struggled to find an answer. When he did, he spoke quietly, alarmed by his own response. “The world needs dangerous spiders.”

She looked down and her lower lip quivered.

“The world needs balance. The world needs creatures that live in the shadows as well as those that flutter in the light. Sometimes, those that we think of as scary are quite necessary to our eco-system, and are even quite beautiful . . . ”

Their eyes met briefly for a second time.

“ . . . and it takes a special person to appreciate the beauty of a dangerous spider.”

She looked down again and cleared her throat. “Thank you,” she said, her voice a hoarse whisper.

Brody wasn’t sure what to do next. He was afraid he’d overstepped his bounds and said too much, but hoped that he had helped. He half-turned toward his office. “Well, good night.”

The girl’s voice became thick. “Good night.”

He stepped into his office to finish his paperwork, and closed the door gently behind him, all the while stealing glances at the girl through the glass. After a moment, she slipped off her backpack and darted toward the exit.

Brody jumped up and burst back into the Butterfly House, his voice piercing the stillness as he scooped up her pack. “Wait, you forgot something!”

Butterflies flitted from their perches, aroused by his voice. They dotted the air in brilliant multitudes, flutters and flashes of color. One alighted on his head, taking refuge.

He stood still, clutching the girl’s backpack, careful not to disturb the ethereal creatures any more than he already had. The girl was gone. He wondered if he’d ever see her again.

***

What G.G. 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:  Carol Coven Grannick
Evanston, Illinois
Congratulations Carol!

Carol’s Bio:

Carol Coven Grannick is a writer and clinical social worker who treasures her family and friends and believes it is important to be an active part of trying to heal the world.

She writes poetry, picture books, and middle grade/young adult fiction, as well as personal essays. She lives in the Chicagoland area and has been an active member of the Society for Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators for over a decade. Several of her picture book manuscripts have won national awards, and her children’s fiction has appeared in Crickets and Highlights for Children. Her articles and essays have been published in national media as well as on WBEZ, Chicago Public Radio.

While Carol looks forward to book publication, she tries hard to stay focused on the creative process, working at writing each day, continuing to learn and revising to make her manuscripts shine. Her new blog, http://TodayIAmAWriter.blogspot.com helps keep her on track, and her regular column for the Illinois-SCBWI Prairie Wind explores many aspects of the writer’s psychological and emotional journey.

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Secondly

 

Second oldest, second biggest bedroom, second-hand clothes, second-hand bike. You know the routine. She picks first, I get leftovers. Her hair bounces, mine frizzes. Her body curves, mine puffs. Her friends swarm. Mine trickle.

Life with Leah wears me down. Wears me out. I’m something less than loved. A disappointment. She gives me a lot of names. Overeater (I wonder why). Oversensitive (compared to undersensitive). Overreactive (I wasn’t supposed to feel anything, no matter what Leah said). And of course, stubborn. Not feisty, not strong-willed and determined, not interested in just being treated fairly. No. Oversensitive, overreactive, and stubborn. Lilith, the Problem Child. Leah, the Princess.

Today I hear a woodcut of mine is headed for the school fine arts mag. Yep, it’s that good. But at dinner we talk about my sister’s part in the Junior Play, so the warm-tinglies I’d had when my homeroom teacher announced my acceptance in the mag washed away like kiddie watercolors off pudgy little hands.

I’m no loser. My friends love me puff, frizz, fun and all. But that’s not good dinner conversation. In my house, supper is served up with side dishes of Princess’s triumphs—her part in the play, her place on the Math Team, her i.d. bracelet from Jimmy Whoever, who they don’t really want her to date, but she does anyway. My grades are good, but hers are better. I’m sort of cute, but she’s gorgeous. I clear the table, she sits and talks.

I head to my desk after dinner and immerse myself in history exam prep. Then I hear sobs from Leah’s bedroom and the work stops. I listen. What now, Princess? Maybe she’s broken up with her player boyfriend. Maybe she got an A- on her English theme.

The door creaks open. Who else? “You have to help me,” she says.

Leah looks like red ink spilled all over her face and she mopped it up with a small tissue that didn’t get all the liquid. I’ve never seen her so blotchy.

Really, never seen her blotchy at all.

My heart dives me into dizziness and I don’t know why.

The Princess is whimpering. Something I’ve only heard it when she tries to get Mom and Dad to do something they don’t want to.

Let her beg. “Why should I help you, anyway?”

“Because you need to.”

I stand up. There goes the dizziness again and I almost hug her to hold myself up.

The air swims with silence for a long three seconds, ticked off by my desk clock.

“I’m pregnant.”

Dizziness careens into nausea. I cover my mouth in case I barf. Sex isn’t part of my world of hanging out by the art room lockers, art classes, pretty good grades and a cluster of friends who don’t date yet, either.

“Huh?” I say. Pain slides up and down the front of my body as if somebody’s torn off my skin. She’s in big trouble. At last. I love and hate the relief that flows like cleansing water through my body. I love and hate the terror.

She tips her blotched face to me. “You can tell Mom and Dad. They’re going to kill me. You can calm them down.”

“Do it yourself.” What would sisters who were close do now? Hug each other? Cry together? Figure out a plan?

Leah leans in and her eyes beg.

“Say please.”

She curls her messy upper lip. “Lili, you’re such a creep. You’ve always been a creep.”

From the time I was born until just this minute, all I’ve ever wanted was to be like Leah. To have even a bit of the mystery she had, the beauty, power, automatic accomplishment. Then I would glow the way she did in my eyes. The perpetrator of my misery has always been my ideal.

So I stare at her. “Let’s go,” I say, and I lead the way downstairs, through the kitchen and dining room to the living room. My muscles cramp and tighten and my feet pound on the stairs. My heartbeats threaten to bang out of my neck. I’ll do it.

Now we’re at the entryway to the living room, and Mom and Dad look up. I see that oh-Leah-sweetheart-what’s-the-matter look in their eyes. My heart rips. Nobody hears it but me.

Then I push Leah, oh-so-gently, into the room.

***

What Carol 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: Emily McGee
Atlanta, Georgia
Congratulations Emily!

Emily’s Bio:

Emily McGee has lived in Africa, the South Pacific, and three states in four years. She pays the bills by writing for various educational companies, but she’s happiest when writing fiction. Emily and her husband live life on the go, and they are currently living in Nairobi, Kenya. Emily writes about travel, and life as a trailing spouse at One Trailing Spouse. You can also connect with her on Facebook and twitter.

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After Herman Died

 

Genevieve didn’t know why she expected a crowd to be gathered in the hallway. It was 3 a.m. on a Tuesday. 

The children and grandchildren were asleep. The other patients snuffled and snored in their rooms. A nurse lifted her eyes from the chart she was reading and nodded at Genevieve, then went back to her work. 

Genevieve considered sitting, just for a moment, in one of the scratchy, stained chairs lined up like sentinels against the walls of the hallway. But she had been in the hospital for days. She was tired of the septic and antiseptic smells, tired of the low hum of florescent lights that never dimmed. 

She limped slowly to the elevator, her hips and buttocks sore after sitting for hours at Herman’s bedside. The elevator arrived quickly and Genevieve rode down to the lobby, then shuffled out to her car.

It took a few minutes to remember where she had parked. She had been back and forth to the hospital for months. It was hard to tell one day from the next, let alone one parking spot from the next. Genevieve remembered that yesterday she had parked out of doors. She got claustrophobic in the parking garage. 

After a brief search, Genevieve found the PT Cruiser and let herself into the driver’s seat. The grandchildren still teased her about the car, said it looked like a hearse. But for years, Herman had picked out their vehicles, and Genevieve had wanted to take full advantage of her opportunity. After he got sick, she had chosen the Cruiser. It was curvy, yet safe, with a big fat rubber bumper in the front, in case she accidentally hit anything. It was ugly as sin, but it was all hers.

Genevieve drew the car door shut behind her. Tomorrow she would have to call everyone, share the news. Tomorrow she would have to come back to the hospital, sign sheaths of paperwork, and talk to the doctor one last time. And in the tomorrows after that she would have to clean out Herman’s closets, buy groceries, and write thank you notes to the neighbors who had brought over casseroles and pies.

But right now, no one knew Herman was gone. No one needed her to listen, to cry, to order flowers or a casket. No one needed her to sit in the rigid chairs at Pendleton Lake Hospital.

Genevieve started the car. But she wasn’t ready to go home. 

She let the engine run and pulled the lever that made her seat recline. Then she pressed the button to make the sunroof slide open. Genevieve leaned back in her seat and looked up at the sky. Stars, stained orange from the parking lot lamps, roosted in the darkness above. The upholstered roof of the PT Cruiser framed the night with a soft grayness. 

She pulled a packet of cigarettes out of the console in between the seats and unwrapped the cellophane. She had bought these Marlboros when Herman had first gone into the hospital. He had smoked them for years. She hadn’t had one since high school.

Pulling out one slender stick, Genevieve propped it between her lips before realizing that she didn’t have a lighter or matches. She pulled the cigarette out of her mouth and exhaled invisible smoke towards the sky.

***

What Emily 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:

Annie Faye by Robyn Corum, Hartselle, Alabama

A Different Season by Mary E. Michna, Mokena, Illinois

Glare by D.K. McCutchen, Shelburne Falls, Massachusetts

Evaporate by Terri McGrath Bhatt, Monroe, Connecticut

What I Do for Love by Cathy Turney, Concord, California

Nativity by Renee Carter Hall, Paw Paw, West Virginia

The Winter Will Ask by Johnna Stein, Johns Creek, Georgia

What the Runners Up Won:

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

HONORABLE MENTIONS (In no particular order):

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

Savior by Sarah Brooks, Fort Collins, Colorado

Stillborn by Sarah Elizabeth Schantz, Boulder, Colorado

Killing Snakes by Anne Thompson, Cambridge, Massachusetts

The Inhabitants by Donna L. Landi, Sleepy Hollow, New York

Lists by Andrea Fleming, Concrete, Washington

The Hat by Susan DuMond, Ashland, Oregon

It’s Just Perfect by Lauren Eichhorn, Austin, Texas

Kindling by Beth Lindlbauer, Duluth, Minnesota

The Complete Story of a Life by Anne Brandt, Benton Harbor, Michigan

The End of the Road by Judiann Rakes, Ormond Beach, Florida

What the Honorable Mentions Won:

  • $20 Amazon Gift Card

IN CLOSING:

This brings our Summer 2012 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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