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WOW! Spring 2021 Flash Fiction Contest Winners


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 Emily Forney

Literary Agent Emily Forney

WOW was honored to have guest judge literary agent Emily Forney choose this season’s top winners. Thank you, Emily, for sharing your time and efforts to make these contestants’ dreams come true!

Emily’s bio:

Emily Forney is an associate agent for BookEnds Literary, a digital media and rhetoric teacher, cultural critic, and a writer for what feels like an eternity. She currently lives in Phoenix, Arizona at the mercy of two cats and a dream of owning a goat farm one day. After earning her MFA in Creative Writing from Northern Arizona University, Emily worked in editorial roles for literary magazines, journals, and digital prints before finding her home at BookEnds. She was a 2020 Publishing Fellow with the LA Review of Books and actively writes about identity, Blackness, and pop culture.

To find out what Emily’s looking for, check out her BookEnds Literary Agency Page. Follow her on Twitter @EmilyKaitlinnn.



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 12+ 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, they receive 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 Winner
1st Place:  Myna Chang
Potomac, Maryland
Congratulations, Myna!
Myna Chang

Myna’s Bio:

Myna Chang writes flash and micro. Her work has been selected for Best Small Fictions, Fractured Lit, X-R-A-Y Lit Mag, and The Citron Review, among others. She has been nominated for Best Microfiction, longlisted for the Wigleaf Top 50, and named a finalist for the New Millennium Writing Award. She is the winner of the 2020 Lascaux Prize in Creative Nonfiction. Myna lives in Potomac, Maryland with her family. Read more at or @MynaChang.


Printable View



An Alternate Theory Regarding Natural Disasters, as Posited by the Teenage Girls of Clove County, Kansas


It was the summer the tornado ripped through town, peeling the roof off the Crossroads Diner and powdering the big front windows, hurling the deep fat-fryer through the windshield of a Ford Ranger in the parking lot, and spinning the silverware bin so fast it embedded seven coffee spoons into the wooden door of the Lucky Dog Tavern across the road.

It was the summer of jagged hailstones and flattened wheat crops, of immature seedheads pulped into the flash-mud that baked dry again before lunchtime the next day. There were no jobs for farmhands that year, but plenty of work at the Windfall Roofing Company, so the high school boys labored in town, hammering shingles and sweeping boiled tar across the flat roofs of the laundromat and the Two Dudes Enchilada Hut. They cursed and shimmered shirtless in the heat for us girls to assess as we sat in Delfa Cargill’s car on the vacant lot that used to be the Crossroads Diner, sipping cool vodka lemonade and passing judgment.

It was the summer Crystal Toynbee tied her drunk husband up in a bedsheet and beat him with the cast-iron skillet until he pleaded for mercy, but she knew how his bar-knuckle mercy worked, so she kept swinging until her muscles burned with fatigue and hope, leaving everyone in town marveling at how a tornado could render a man unable to speak or eat or piss without a straw.

It was the summer Worthington Cargill left his wife and daughter, taking the insurance money from his hail-damaged farmhouse and his dented Ford Ranger, and drove all the way to Telluride to bet his life’s cash on a pair of jacks with a group of players who knew how to handle a yahoo who insisted they call him “Worthy.”

It was the summer Jim McCross fell bare-assed on the floor of the men’s room at the Lucky Dog after a surprise weasel launched out of the toilet, the animal misplaced and traumatized by the storm, the man misplaced and traumatized by the loss of the diner his father had built, leaving Jim staggering more from the sudden absence of patrimonial obligation than from intoxication or rodent-fueled adrenaline.

It was the first summer in ten years we saw Delfa Cargill’s mother smile. Mrs. Cargill used her husband’s life insurance payout to go into business for herself, finding that a decade of marital disappointment had honed her knack for sizing up unemployed farmhands and stray local boys. She put them to work slopping hot tar, while teaching Delfa how to keep the books and structure an insurance policy and size up a man.

It was the summer we watched Crystal Toynbee and Jim McCross fall in love over a platter of cheesy poblanos at the Two Dudes Enchilada Hut. Filled with spice and newfound freedom, they ran off to Telluride to open a t-shirt shop with a two-for-the-price-of-one sales policy and a wildcat poker game in the back that more than offset their loss on bargain-priced Van Halen tees. The loft above the shop came with a half-size refrigerator and a king-size bed where they slept until noon, whenever they wanted, and no one could give them any shit about it.

It was the last summer of acquiescence, when convention spun free in a ferocious whirl of wind and consequence, and though our fathers argued we didn’t yet understand, we decided, sometimes, a tornado is just what a town needs.



“An Alternate Theory Regarding Natural Disasters” first appeared in Bending Genres.

What Myna Won:

  • $400.00 Cash Prize
  • $25 Amazon Gift Card
  • Publication of winning story on website
  • Interview on WOW!’s blog The Muffin
2nd Place Winner
2nd Place:  Louise Mangos
Aegeri Valley, Switzerland
Congratulations, Louise!
Louise Mangos

Louise’s Bio:

Louise writes novels, short stories and flash fiction, which have won prizes, placed on shortlists, and have been read out on BBC radio. She has published two suspense novels with another on the way in spring 2022 and her short fiction appears in more than twenty print anthologies. You can connect with Louise on Facebook, Twitter @LouiseMangos, and Instagram @louisemangos, or visit her website, where there are links to some more of her work. Louise holds an MA in crime writing from UEA and lives in Switzerland with her Kiwi husband and two sons.

Printable View



Halfway to Guayaquil I Fall in Love


We’re told we’ll get the best view from the roof of the steam train, but shouldn’t leave our packs in the carriage. Everyone is so friendly; it’s hard to believe someone would take our luggage. But most of these passengers have nothing, and although our backpacks are scuffed and threadbare, we have everything. Our vacant seats are not the only things that will disappear.

A group of us strings out from the platform to the top of the ladder. One strong lad hooks his elbow round a rung halfway up as we push and pull our bags from one set of hands to the other; a chain of colourfully-clad bohemian travellers. We climb up and settle ourselves onto the roof with rows of rivets and steel seams digging into our thighs. We imagine those with nothing sighing with pleasure as they sit on our varnished wooden seats in the carriage below.

Young men throw boxes of tamarillos, rhambutans and pineapples into the cargo wagons to the rear of the train. Barefoot children run up and down the dusty track selling empanadas wrapped in banana leaves, but we shake our heads regretfully and cry ‘Lo siento!’ as we cannot reach their outstretched hands. Our excitement is akin to a group of toddlers taking their first trip to a fun park.

There is no timetable here; the train will simply leave when it is ready, like a princess turning up to her royal wedding. After an interminable wait the engine fires. A series of grumbling coughs sends a puff of black smoke billowing into the air. A sharp white feather of whistling steam warns the last passengers to clamber aboard.

The locomotive slowly creaks and strains out of the station. The train rumbles down the street along tracks built into the road, passing houses and shops facing us like spectators in a parade, windows open like dropped jaws. As we leave the buildings of the town behind, the train gathers speed towards the mountains. It ploughs through plantations and farmland on the narrow-gauge tracks before curving up through the tropical rainforest.

After several miles, our eyes are smarting with smoke and our clothes stink of coal. We can barely see where we were going, and we cling together like a conspiracy of lemurs to stop ourselves sliding off the roof. I reach into a pocket on my pack and pull out a llama wool hat, cramming it onto my head. It makes my scalp itch in the heat, but I am naively smug for the contribution I made to the local economy back in Quito. I put it on to protect my hair from the sparks flying from the engine’s funnel. But as we climb higher in altitude and leave the jungle behind, I am also glad for its warmth.

I don’t know what makes you pick me from the group, especially since all our faces are covered in soot. The whites of your eyes shine like the fresh snow on Mount Chimborazo, with irises as blue as the Ecuadorian sky. You show me how to loop my feet through the straps of our packs each side of the sloping roof to keep us secure. We lie down, facing backwards, our bodies occupying a pocket of clean air as the steam and smoke passes over us. Puffs of black and white mingle and evaporate like the breath of a dragon, converging with the tracks disappearing to a distant point in the valley.

Under the beast’s grey breath we spy the wonder of the gaping chasm at our side. If we dare to raise our eyes we can count the peaks along the Avenida de los Volcanes through the smoke. We hold on to each other tightly and hold our breaths as the train clings to the rocky edge of the Nariz del Diablo—the Devil’s Nose—defying gravity on the steepness of the slope. The height is both exhilarating and terrifying.

I turn my head towards you, and we laugh maniacally with an excitement that borders on fear. My world calms as I gaze into your eyes and smile.

Now there is only you.

I don’t notice the glowing cinder blowing from the engine’s funnel onto my chest. It burns a hole through the Tupac Inca symbol on my tee shirt. As we stare at each other in wonder, I only feel the scorch when it burrows its way right into my heart.



“Halfway to Guayaquil I Fall in Love” first appeared in issue #9 of Firewords Magazine.

What Louise Won:

  • $300.00 Cash Prize
  • $25 Amazon Gift Card
  • Publication of winning story on website
  • Interview on WOW!’s blog The Muffin
3rd Place Winner
3rd Place: Adele Evershed
Wilton, Connecticut
Congratulations, Adele!
Adele Evershed

Adele’s Bio:

Adele Evershed is a teacher. She was born in Wales and has lived in Hong Kong and Singapore before settling in Connecticut. She started her writing journey by producing scripts for a British ex-pat theatre group’s annual Panto. She was encouraged to continue when she was a semi-finalist in the London Independent Story Prize competition. Previous publishing credits include Every Day Fiction, Ab Terra Flash Fiction Magazine, Grey Sparrow Journal, Prose Online, High Shelf, bee house Journal, Shot Glass Journal, Tofu Ink Arts Press, The Fib Review, Sad Girls Club, and Green Ink Poetry. Visit her website at

Printable View


The Wisdom of Bird Song


At the edge of the world, they banned high voices. It came as no surprise; they always preferred to start arguments in empty rooms knowing this was the only way they could win. When the women grumbled, and their grumbles grew legs to take them beyond our rocky borders, they started collecting tongues. They buried them in meadows, promising now only the grass would remember the songs. They had forgotten, the grass is made of green blades, and it might cover all the spoilt places, but it can whisper songs of rebellion when the wind moves it.

I sit in the pasture using a blade to tattoo my face with my dragon mother’s wisdom. I chant an elegy to the breeze about how she puffed silk cut smoke from her nose. When I was little, she wrapped me in ancient silk threads the color of spring grass, and I traced the filigree raised on her chin, it trailed away beneath her Kamis shirt, and I wonder where it ended. She told me they were her magic scales, and they held the secret language of women, songs of survival, and hard-won knowledge. She touched each mark, a strange braille, and sang me to sleep, so I drifted away on tales of women book smugglers and recipes to summon jinns. Her cigarette glowed, a monster’s eye pulsing in the dark tent, and it syncopated with the humming in my bones.

We lived in the high chinks of the Kush alongside the tarnished Stone Loaches, their spotty silver backs mirrored in the jewelry dangling from my mother’s neck and doughy lobes. It took slow seasons for us to hear the screaking of the elders, yet when it woke my father and brothers, they listened as if this clanging was a holy script.

They stopped my mother and me from singing to the bread to make it soft, so soon our food was flat and hard like them. Of course, they complained, so my mother hummed quietly before sliding the loaves into the clay oven, but we both knew it would only help a little. Then my father chipped a tooth on his breakfast naan, and his red words left brands on my mother’s skin. I implored him to let us sing again, but he threatened to cut out my tongue if I dared even speak, banishing me to a silent breaking.

That night my mother wrapped herself in a sooty cape and crept to the banks of the river. She trilled to bring the fish and begged them to save my voice. She asked them to hide me with the purple sunbirds, so I could feast on nectar and learn how to build a nest from cobwebs and bark. I would call ‘chwing’ in ringing notes to drive away predators and live unafraid to show my yellow throat. But the fish were always mean and bony specimens that liked to drive a hard bargain. My mother had to barter her scales to cover their spindly bodies before they would hold me in their mouths and swim away. They left her naked and unprotected. Her last kindness was to smother my father and brothers so they could not hunt me down; she shaped them into lapis lazuli and left them on the mountain.

I stayed with the birds learning to gather cobwebs, pollinate plants and look in at windows. But I could still hear the humming of my mother and her mother before her; it buoyed a boat hidden in my bones. I regrew my legs and floated off to sit in the long grass.

I have gathered all the songs, and it is time for me to raise my voice and smash things. Around my neck, I have hung a locket of bright blue stone so it will be close to my throat as I sing. Listen in the bright dawn; you will hear tender violence, the noise of women. And you will know that a song can make you a revolutionary or a coward. The choice was always yours.



What Adele Won:

  • $200.00 Cash Prize
  • $25 Amazon Gift Card
  • Publication of winning story on 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.

Click on their entries to read:

In Bloom by Dawn McCaig, Nipissing District, Ontario, CANADA

IED by Karen Sarita Ingram, Topeka, Kansas

Suburban Warfare by Emily Hampson, Chicago, Illinois

Going by D. Slayton Avery, Vermont

Another Damn Cottage by Tara Campbell, Washington, DC

Magpie’s Warble by Dr Jo Skinner, Brisbane, Australia

The Perfect Spot by Veronique Aglat, Montreal, Quebec, CANADA

What the Runners Up Won:

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

HONORABLE MENTIONS (In no particular order):

Congratulations to our Spring 2021 Contest Honorable Mentions! Your stories stood out and are excellent in every way.

After Hours by Emma Foster, Florida

Singles’ Handicap Rulebook by Mary Sophie Filicetti

Essence of Genius, Genius of Essence by L. A. Starks, Dallas, Texas

How was the Shoot? by Gina Headden, Scotland

Follow All Directions Carefully by LJ Slauson, Kelowna, B.C., CANADA

Strawberry Nocturne by Courtney Harler, Las Vegas, Nevada

Morosa by Phylis Campbell Dryden, West Lebanon Township, Pennsylvania

Everyone’s Moon by Jan Alexander, New York, New York

What They Carried to the Hospital for the Insane by Christine Lynn Marcotte, Deer River, Minnesota

The Birthmark by Loretta Martin, Lombard, Illinois


What the Honorable Mentions Won:

  • $20 Amazon Gift Card


This brings the Spring 2021 Flash Fiction Contest officially to a close. Although we’re not able to provide a 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. We hope to read more of your work. Write on!

Check out the latest Contest:


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