WOW! Women On Writing Flash Fiction Contest Winners!

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WOW! Summer 2022 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 Amy Elizabeth Bishop

Literary Agent Amy Elizabeth Bishop

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

Amy’s bio:

Amy Elizabeth Bishop joined DG&B in 2015 after interning for them in 2014. At DG&B, she’s cultivating a wide-ranging list in literary and upmarket fiction, expert-driven narrative nonfiction, and select YA, with a special interest in BIPOC voices. Her list includes titles such as The Last Story of Mina Lee by Nancy Jooyoun Kim (a Reese’s Book Club selection and NYT bestseller), The Red Palace by bestselling author June Hur. Before diving into the world of publishing, she graduated from SUNY Geneseo with a degree in Creative Writing. Though she grew up upstate, she currently resides in Woodside, Queens.

Amy’s page at DG&B Literary Agency:

Follow her on Twitter: @amylizbishop



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’s chapbook, The Potential of Radio and Rain, will be published by CutBank Books in 2023. Her writing has been selected for Flash Fiction America (W.W. Norton), Best Small Fictions, and CRAFT, among others. She has won the Lascaux Prize in Creative Nonfiction and the New Millennium Writings Award in Flash Fiction. She hosts the Electric Sheep speculative fiction reading series. Find her at or @MynaChang.


Printable View



Special Recipe: Book Club Dip


Serves: Two

Ingredient List:

  • 1 husband’s car (BMW)
  • 1 thong panty, found wedged in the BMW’s seat cushion
  • 1 cell phone containing texts from “Luv Bunnie”
  • 1 tub of supermarket ranch dip, transferred to a fancy dish so it seems homemade (your mother-in-law’s judgmental wedding gift is a good choice for this recipe)
  • 2 sheets of industrial-strength bubble wrap, secured tightly around the dish
  • 1 crème brûlée torch
  • 1 Cozener Inn coupon for “Free Night After a Week’s Stay!”


  1. Drive the BMW to your best friend Diane’s house for neighborhood book club. Arrive at least 15 minutes late, so all your friends (gossips) will be there.
  2. Take careful aim at Diane’s candy-apple red convertible. (It will be easy to hit since she always parks the tarty thing right up front, forcing you to tiptoe around it, through her just-watered lawn, getting your shoes all spongy.)
  3. Rev the engine and drop it into gear—don’t worry about trashing the transmission. Gather your ache and grief and fury and press it hard into the gas pedal.
  4. If the tart-mobile isn’t sufficiently censured, back up and ram it again.
  5. Wave the airbag dust out of your face, take remaining recipe items, and charge into Diane’s living room because you have every right to track your betrayal-damp sneakers across the traitress’s carpet.
  6. Place the cell phone, with its sophomoric sexts, into the fabric of the thong and twirl it like a scarlet-lettered slingshot. Aim for her perky face, but any superficial surface will do.
    NOTE: Do not make snide comments about the size of the garment—it is important to maintain your grace at this time.
  7. Make one dramatic declaration. Diane probably won’t hear you, especially if you nail her with the phone—but the other ladies will eat it up, so make it good. After all, they’ll be repeating your statement around the neighborhood for weeks to come.
  8. Take the dip out of the bubble wrap and dump it on Diane. Don’t fret if the bowl breaks; in fact, this will provide the most satisfaction you’ve ever received from your mother-in-law’s “bowl of judgment.”
    OPTIONAL: Pause to savor this recipe’s complex terroir.
  9. Go home. Collect all your cheating husband’s deceiving pants and throw them in the street. Use the crème brûlée torch to caramelize the lying fabric.
  10. Once the trouser smoke clears, un-hogtie him and give him the hotel coupon. If he begs convincingly, call him a cab. You can afford to be generous at this point.

Pairs well with: self-respect and an acidic divorce attorney.



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:  Heather Bourbeau
Berkeley, California
Congratulations, Heather!
Heather Bourbeau

Heather’s Bio:

Heather Bourbeau’s work has appeared in 100 Word Story, Alaska Quarterly Review, The Kenyon Review, Meridian, and The Stockholm Review of Literature. She has worked with various UN agencies, including the UN peacekeeping mission in Liberia and UNICEF Somalia. She floats between fiction and poetry, and lives among the sage and fog. Her most recent collection is a poetry conversation with Irish-Australian poet Anne Casey, Some Days The Bird (Beltway Editions, 2022).

Printable View



Among the Sharks


When I awoke that morning, I did not know my childhood would end. I only knew I was cold, the fog was thick, and the rain would bring the sharks closer to shore. “The requins will fish with us today,” I remember my mother whispering in her thick accent that refused as much as she did to assimilate. We stepped outside our camper quietly, holding our breaths as we closed the door behind us, hoping my father would be able to sleep a bit more.

It was dark and my hair, the reliable barometer, kinked and curled in the mist. I carried the poles, both taller than I was, but I was stubborn, wanted to prove my strength, my usefulness. Useful. That was what we prized back then. Before.

Guided by habit, we walked onto the obscured pier, found a spot between the rocks and the eelgrass, and dropped our lines. We stayed mostly silent, waiting, reeling in, tossing into the bucket, retying, repeating. After about an hour, my mind began to wander. I knew I should have been paying more attention to my line, but I was dreaming of the cafés au lait we would return to and the embrace of my freshly woken father whose skin would still have the smell of sleeping bag and body heat. This was the division of labor—in the mornings we fished and he cooked breakfast. During the day, he went to work, I went to school, and Maman was Maman. I did not think about what she did with her days when I was not there. Such is the narcissism of children.

When a big pull came, I was slow to respond, letting whatever was on my line get a head start, the momentum of its escape dragging my barely 60 pounds with it. My mother could not see because of the fog, she only knew something was wrong when she heard my scream before I fell over the wooden railing. In the shock of the Bay’s cold, I swallowed water and gripped the pole tighter, as if it might float me or ground me. Neither instinct would make my mother proud, and somewhere inside my sinking self, I still managed to feel shame. I do not know how long it was before I came out of the shock enough to try to find the water’s surface. I do know that I was tangled in someone’s net, among the eelgrass, quickly descending into hypothermia. A sevengill shark circled nearby, lured by a gash on my leg.

I learned later that two men on a boat, the men who had dropped the net I was tangled in, rushed to help. One dove in, while the other stayed with Maman, whose anger or pain or fear made her incapable of looking either of them in the eye. It was only when I was safe in her arms, feeling the warmth of her chest and breath, that she lifted her head. She saw their faces, and I felt her body stiffen, her breath become shallow. “Stay calm, my love,” she said as her eyes darted between the men, their stacked green bricks, and me. “Reste calme.” I remember not being able to stand properly, my legs still shaking and numb, so she carry-dragged me, insisting to my rescuers that we were fine, that we needed to get home. The men were laughing at her—this I remember clearly, being confused about what was so funny. With me over her left shoulder, she grabbed her pole, leaving behind the bass, our breakfast.

By the time she could see our van, my mother began wailing, guttural and terrifying. She threw our gear down, held me with both arms so she could run faster, but it was no use. We were too late. Our camper was wrecked. My father was on the other side of the parking lot, his body broken and bloodied. Maman did her best to shield me from the horror. One of the men who had rescued me came up, leaned into us, and said, “We warned you, Bette. We run this pier.”

She collapsed, and I fell with her. I remember she refused to call the police, refused to answer my questions, but when I saw her gun, I began to understand—what she did all day, how her lies and greed nearly killed my father, and how quickly love could turn to hate.



What Heather 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: Michelle Hsu
Los Angeles, California
Congratulations, Michelle!
Michelle Hsu

Michelle’s Bio:

Before beginning her career as a TV writer, Michelle spent some time caving and conducting water research in the wilderness of Kentucky. After moving to Los Angeles from her sleepy Midwest hometown, Michelle worked at a plethora of film studios as an assistant, before breaking in as a writer on a soon-to-be-announced Amazon TV show. As a second generation queer Asian American, Michelle is passionate about diversity in media. With a penchant for writing sci-fi stories, Michelle seeks to infuse her genre content with metaphors about the queer, female, and POC experience. In her spare time, she enjoys long walks around her neighborhood, traveling to rural and rugged places, and watching rom-coms.

Connect with Michelle via her website ( or via Twitter (@_michellehsu).

Printable View


Sidesaddle Annie’s Siren Call


The floorboards creak underneath her feet as she steps into Sidesaddle Annie’s. All the furniture has been cleared out, sold in the estate sale last week. Even the old red barstools have been ripped out and shipped off, to be refurbished into expensive vintage pieces.

All that’s left of the bar are the bones of the place—glass skylights, redwood beams, oak floors. Lureen is sure they would’ve tried to pry the floorboards up and sell them too, had the new owner not paid extra to keep them instead.

“You know, Renee loves the history of this place,” Scarlett says, her stilettos clicking as she steps onto what was once the dance floor. “She thinks it’s sick that it used to be an underground gay bar.”

Lureen glances up at the high ceilings. A fine layer of dust has settled onto the lighting rig; the chrome disco ball is still there, refracting tiny squares of sunlight in every direction.

“You know about the siren, then?”

“The siren?” Scarlett says.

Lureen turns and points at the door they entered through. Even at a distance the small peephole is visible, and next to it a well-worn handle, red paint chipping off to reveal the metal underneath.

“We had a lookout there every night. If they saw a cop car rounding that corner, they’d pull the lever. Sound the alarm, so that all the couples would know to find a different partner.”

“It must have been scary every time it went off.”

Lureen considers.

She remembers the way they danced into the night, boots stomping into the ground, sweat slicking their skin. She remembers the rush and clamor of bodies whenever the siren would sound, roughened hands grasping for soft waists. Women wiping their girlfriends’ lipstick stains off their cheeks as they reached for the nearest man, smiling as if they were madly in love.

Lureen remembers pulling her hat down low, hoping her hair was short enough to pass, as Annie pushed them further into the shadows—too late for either of them to try and find a fake partner. Tremors running through them both as they held onto each other like it would be the last time they could.

She could tell Scarlett all that. But instead, Lureen just shrugs. “What’s gonna happen to this place?”

“Renee plans to turn it into a modern workspace,” Scarlett says cheerfully, “A change of pace from an office cubicle, you know?”

Lureen tries to imagine it. Young people coming in for coffee, meeting up for dates, typing away on expensive laptops. Sitting in a place where 50 years ago, beautiful people just like them danced in the arms of forbidden lovers.

“Was Annie a real person?”

The question hits Lureen like a slap. “What?”

“ ‘Sidesaddle Annie’s’ just a cool name?” Scarlett hedges.

Lureen turns to look at Scarlett. Her bright smile, blonde ponytail cinched up tight to the back of her head. Just shy of 35 years old, already making a name for herself flipping old establishments into trendy new hot spots on the outskirts of the city.

“Yeah. Annie was real.”

Lureen’s hand brushes against the warped walls, the chipped edge of the bar counter. She closes her eyes and breathes in deep. The smell of leather, cheap beer, and sweet perfume rise to greet her.

“I’ll give you a moment,” Scarlett murmurs.

“I’m good,” Lureen says. The words come out rough, and she glances away in embarrassment. Annie always did say she was horrible at goodbyes. Even at the end, when Annie’s knuckles had been fragile as flower petals, Lureen still hadn’t been able to say goodbye. All Lureen could do was hold on, kiss the backs of those hands like she could breathe life into them through sheer force of will.

“I’ll wait outside.” Scarlett insists, because she is kinder than she lets on, or perhaps savvy enough to know the price of dignity. Light spills in as Scarlett leaves, letting the door swing shut behind her, leaving Lureen alone in the darkened bar.

The space is cavernous, and chilly. Lingering with the ghosts who used to call this place home.

Lureen taps the beam closest to her affectionately, the way she would a beloved creature being put out to pasture.

She thinks of Annie. She thinks of cigarette smoke, kisses in the dark, sweltering summer nights.

She thinks of siren calls. Haunting wails laden with hope, to those who knew to listen for it.



What Michelle 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:

Restaurant by Melissa Balick, Oakland, California

Cosmos by Rachel Singh, Atlanta, Georgia

Blood and Trifle by Donna L Greenwood, United Kingdom

Mirror Image by Lori Robbins, New Jersey

A Caste of Thousands by Melinda Hagenson, Chippewa Falls, Wisconsin

Echolalia by Elizabeth Ives Field, Hudson, Massachusetts

Rockwell’s Missing Portrait by Maja Zysk, Troutdale, Oregon

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 Summer 2022 Contest Honorable Mentions! Your stories stood out and are excellent in every way.

Lullabies and Birdsongs by Erika Seshadri, Sarasota, Florida

Melancholy Manor by Caroline Beuley, Washington, D.C

After the Wolf by Ewa Bird, Edinburgh, Scotland

I Feel Good by BE Jackson, Prescott, Arizona

The Rest of My Life Might Be Razor Wire by Claudia Wair, Stafford, Virginia

Red by Sophi Strahan, Nashville, Tennessee

A Conspiracy of Ravens by Caroline Beuley, Washington, D.C.

Mosaic by Tina R. Propst, Glen Rock, Pennsylvania

The Epilogue of the Day by Nicole Choi, Portland, Oregon

Afterwards by Saimeta, Kigali, Rwanda


What the Honorable Mentions Won:

  • $20 Amazon Gift Card


This brings the Summer 2022 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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