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WOW! Fall 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 Savannah Brooks

Literary Agent Savannah Brooks

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

Savannah’s bio:

Savannah Brooks started in agenting as an intern with the Jennifer De Chiara team in 2017, moving to associate agent in 2018. In 2022, she joined the incredible team at KT Literary as an agent, where she represents all of kid lit and adult contemporary fiction, romcoms, thrillers/mystery/suspense, and horror. She’s especially interested in stories that teach her something new, add to a larger sociopolitical conversation, and highlight underrepresented identities and cultures. She earned her MFA, focused in creative nonfiction, from Hamline University and her BS in marketing management from Virginia Tech and worked on the editorial side of publishing for two years prior to joining JDLA. As well as agenting, she works as a publishing and literature lecturer at the University of Minnesota and a teaching artist at the Loft Literary Center. She lives in Minneapolis and can regularly be found at one of Minnesota’s 11,842 lakes—yes, even in winter.

Savannah’s website:

Follow her on Twitter: @sblitagent

KT Literary:



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 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 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. Thank you for sharing your work with us. We hope that you continue writing and submitting 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:  Genalea Barker
Jerome, Idaho
Congratulations, Genalea!
Genalea Barker

Genalea’s Bio:

Genalea is an author, freelance editor, and full-time mom. Her work has appeared in Bookends Review, Gemini Magazine, Grande Dame Literary, Watershed Review, Broad River Review, and others. She is the author of three novels, Life After, A Song I Used to Know, and Lovehurts, all forthcoming in 2023 and 2024. Genalea resides in Southern Idaho with her husband, four children, and two dogs, where she enjoys small town living, playing music with her family, and occasionally getting caught behind farm equipment on the highway. To learn more about Genalea or find purchase links for Life After, visit, or follow her on Twitter and Instagram @genalea_barker.


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How to Deliver a Baby on the Floor of a Hotel Lobby


Step One: Don’t prepare.

You’ve learned the hard way preparation only hastens the inevitable disaster.

Every other time, you read the books. Made the lists. Bought the onesies. Planned the nursery. Then cried in shame and agony, helpless as your babies came away, bloodied and lifeless.

Step Two: Don’t talk about it with anyone.

Under any circumstances.

When the morning sickness starts, keep asking your husband for ginger ale and saltines as though they might help. They won’t, but it keeps him busy, feeling needed, and less likely to strike up a conversation about things you’ve no desire to discuss.

If anyone notices your belly in public, pretend they don’t exist. Walk away.

Step Three: Begrudgingly go to the doctor. Again.

Sit stone-faced as he welcomes you back, letting his optimism hang stagnant in the air like a fog of lies.

Discover the baby is healthy. A boy, measuring twenty-weeks. Carry the ultrasound everywhere, like a prayer in your pocket.

Step Four: Ignore all signs of labor.

Tell your husband it’s only gas. Nothing to be concerned about. Refuse to skip the Company Christmas Party. You took the time to squeeze into this dress, you look forward to the steak dinner and lava cakes every year, and he will not deny you these indulgences over indigestion.

Step Five: Become paralyzed in your fear.

Bite down on your lip to keep from bellowing when the pains grow stronger and closer together. This is how they felt when you lost those babies before, and what if you’re losing this baby now? You can’t handle that. It isn’t happening. It can’t be.

Step Six: Panic.

Try to leave, unsure where you’d go. Just...away from the five-star catering and office gossips. When your husband tries to calm you, keep racing for the exit. When you’re almost out the door, realize you’ve peed your pants. Except you haven’t peed your pants; your water has broken. Everyone is staring. Begin hyperventilating.

Step Seven: Panic, part two.

Refuse to go to the car, leaving your husband no option but to call for an ambulance. Cry, because it hurts. Cry, because you don’t know what else to do. This baby is coming, but it might not even be alive, and you don’t know how you’ll keep breathing if this person who’s grown inside you for nine months leaves you behind.

Your husband is shrieking at you, at the 9-1-1 operator on the phone, at God and the world in general. You are exposed, people are staring, and this baby is coming. Alive or not, ready or not, this baby is coming.

Step Eight: Watch in wonder as the Hotel Manager approaches.

At least she looks like a manager, armed with a stack of clean linens and an air of professionalism. She shoves your flailing husband out of the way, then orders staff and guests to create a privacy wall around you. Listen as she explains the EMT’s won’t be here in time—the roads are too icy, the hospital is too far, and this baby wants to come now. You’ll do this together, she tells you, then brushes your matted hair from your sweaty forehead.

Scream, because you’re not ready. Scream, because it hurts worse now. Scream, because you can’t bear losing another one. Tell her that. Tell her you didn’t prepare, or talk about it, because you couldn’t face it. Sober yourself as she squeezes your hand, like she understands, and tells you how brave and strong you are.

Step Nine: Let the miracle happen.

Allow your husband—calmer now—to kneel behind you, propping your shoulders up as you push, though you’re not sure how it even got to this point. You’ve still not bothered to buy a carseat or assemble a crib, but you are pushing. You are doing this.

Listen when the baby comes, praying for signs of life to echo through the building. Begin freefalling at the shattering silence, your heart an icy anchor in your chest. Ready yourself to unleash all your suppressed pain on an unsuspecting public.


A newborn cry pierces the silence.

Feel yourself piecing back together, settling on solid ground as they place him on your chest.

He is here, and alive.

He is yours.

He is everything.

Step Ten: Breathe.



What Genalea 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:  Susan Moffson
Boulder, Colorado
Congratulations, Susan!
Susan Moffson

Susan’s Bio:

Susan Moffson has been working in the field of international development for nearly 25 years, some of that time spent living and working in Africa. For the past 12 years, she has worked for the non-governmental organization, Jhpiego, the leading partner in a consortium implementing the global health project, Momentum Country and Global Leadership. She has written several work-related blogs about the positive impact Jhpiego-led programs have had on many women and children and has realized she is a journalist at heart. Susan loves to write fiction, pulling from her time abroad, to capture the incredibly rich and varied cultures she has been fortunate to experience.

Printable View



The Healing Power of Crystals


Papa lowers sixteen-year-old Fanja down the deep mining tunnel on the makeshift pulley. Fanja grimaces as her elbow knocks against the damp earth wall, rubbing it as she steps off the pulley. Scraping with a stick for gemstones until her arms burn, she fills a bucket with the loose red earth. Papa, a poor miner and rice farmer in Madagascar, drags it up top. When the air in the deep pit becomes too thin, she shouts, panting, for Papa to pull her out. Papa worked less and less in the pit because he couldn’t breathe. Fanja misses when Papa could afford to send her to school. Before the cyclone when the rice patties flooded.

Once outside, she sifts through the dirt for the dark red and green tourmaline crystal. She finds a giant stone the size of a persimmon so Mama splurges and makes Ravitoto with rice. Fanja gulps the greasy dish of crushed cassava leaves, ginger, and pork belly. After the meal, Papa smokes a Gitane, a rare treat.

Coughing, he tells Fanja, “Tomorrow we cut the tourmaline.”

Mama starts banging dishes. “But Monsieur Didier shapes and sells the stones,” she says.

“And he takes all the profit. This time we’ll cut and sell the stones directly to rich foreign women.”

“How will you sell the stones? A poor miner who doesn’t speak French!” She slams shut the casserole of Ravitoto. “It’s bad enough you make Fanja dig for stones,” she says. “What if the tunnel collapses and buries her like Hery?”

Papa hangs his head. The death of Fanja’s twelve-year-old cousin, Hery, shook Papa so much he hadn’t slept in days. Hery was digging stones for the French ambassador’s wife when he died. Papa explains that to smooth things over with the family, the ambassador’s wife agreed to let him sell his tourmaline at her jewelry party. With the extra profits, Fanja could stop mining and go back to school. Papa paces, smoking another Gitane.


After Papa cuts and polishes the stone, he takes Fanja on the 2-hour bus ride to the ambassador’s home.

“How much can we sell this for?” Fanja asks, cradling the slick stone.

“200,000 Malagasy Ariary. Better than the 10,000 Ariary for the uncut gem—only enough to buy a chicken!” Papa’s chuckles turn into wheezing. They’ll buy a goat. Papa says the foreign women will pay a fair price if the money goes to the miners.


When they arrive, about ten foreign women mill around a jewelry table. Papa places the prized stone and some smaller tourmaline next to the gleaming rings of a French jeweler with a high chignon bun.

The French jeweler sells three rose quartz pendants, persuading the buyers about their incredible “healing powers.” By sundown, Fanja’s only sold a small tourmaline. Papa steps away to smoke a Gitane.

An elegant blonde lady leans close to admire the large tourmaline, her breath smelling like rice wine.

“How much?” Madame asks. Fanja interprets for Papa from French into Malagasy.

“200,000 Ariary,” responds Fanja.

“I’ll give you 100,000.”

Papa turns pale. 100,000 will only cover school fees.

Madame flips her blond hair and asks, “What about the environmental impact of mining? Squeezing lemurs into shrinking rainforests?”

Fanja’s silent. She’s not sure why Madame’s talking about lemurs.

Then an aquamarine catches Madame’s eye. “How much?” she asks, forgetting about the lemurs.

“150,000 Ariary,” responds the jeweler, “It’s a crystal of empowerment,” she adds, bewitching Madame with her clever words.

Fanja must do the same if she wants to go back to school. She asks, “Madame pays fair wage for miners?”

“Of course!” responds Madame, swaying unsteadily.

Fanja proudly holds up the tourmaline, “My Papa and I dug this in our village.”

“Oh, how charming! That makes this stone even more special.”

Fanja beams, jubilant.

“How much again?” asks Madame.

“200,000 Ariary.”

“I’ll give you 100,000,” says Madame.

Fanja can’t breathe like she’s in the deep pit. She grips the stone, her confidence unleashed, and cries, “But Madame, the work is very hard!”

Madame’s pale skin flushes red like the tourmaline.

“And tourmaline has healing powers,” Fanja adds. The jeweler swears under her breath.

“Sold,” says Madame.


At her high school graduation party, Madame’s daughter selects the small package from atop a pile of colorfully wrapped gifts. Inside’s a shiny stone. Madame tells her, “It’s a crystal of empowerment.”

Fanja’s still working in the pit, supporting herself and Mama after the mines destroyed Papa’s lungs with their fine red dust.



What Susan 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: L.J. Slauson
British Columbia, Canada
Congratulations, L.J.!
L.J. Slauson

L.J.’s Bio:

I work as a copywriter in the tech sector and live in beautiful British Columbia. I’ve taken a number of WOW’s online classes, and they’ve inspired a long-neglected interest in writing fiction.

Printable View


Tangled Webs


I didn’t know black widows were so beautiful—the red slash cutting through the glossy blackness like lipstick on charcoal—until I tried to save one from dying. I did it without thinking, reaching out to grab Ken’s wrist as he prepared to end the spider’s life with his daughter’s ballet slipper. It was the first time I’d touched him since he and Bella moved into my house a month before. He turned to me and said, “Molly, you’re insane if you think we can have those things in the house with Bella.” Again, the wicked stepmother.

The tiny pink slipper hit the black spider dead on, killing her instantly. I knew why she had to die, but I flinched as he kept hitting, striking again and again, black and red spider bits mixing with the sink’s rust stains until I had to stop him by blurting out the words I should have said when he decided to move in: “There are more of them under the porch.” I felt ashamed as soon as I spoke. Ken always reassured me there were no secrets between us, that he was the clichéd open book, and with his blond curls and cheeks that were almost too pink for a man, he didn’t look like someone who would ever keep secrets—that, apparently, was my role.

“More spiders?” Finally, he stopped hitting.

“Under the front porch. And maybe some mold in the attic.”

I followed him out the front door and down the shaky porch steps that he was planning to fix next, then stayed silent as he bent over, took off his left shoe, and started striking through the hole under the porch, muttering about exterminators, sweeping, and pesticides.

“I think they’re all gone,” he finally said, standing up straight and smiling for what felt like the first time since he started his home repair projects. I smiled back, wanting to tell him that I liked the rickety house I’d inherited from my parents just the way it is, with its subtle threats of danger, the musty smell, the way the floors squeaked in the middle of the night like a creeping cat burglar, but I saw him rotating his wrist to recover from the pain of delivering the blows and decided to stay silent.

In fact, I had told Bella about the spiders under the porch a week before. “They’re very shy,” I’d assured her, “They’ll leave you alone if you leave them alone.” My dad had told me the same thing, ending with a conspiratorial whisper, “Just don’t tell your mother.” I knew better than to tell Bella to keep a secret from her father, but she introduced a new angle. “My mom won’t like this,” she’d said to me with a giggle. Her mother never called, never showed up on her scheduled visits, never watched ballet class, so I just laughed along with Bella and said, “Then let’s not tell her.” I should have told Ken about that conversation, I should have called an exterminator, I should have been thinking like a parent, I should have known I had a new family when they moved in, but at that moment the secret between us was something to hold in my hands with care.



What L.J. 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:

The Borrowers by Kristina T. Saccone, Washington, DC

Her Mark by Renee Rockland, Rehoboth Beach, Delaware

Surrender Ridge by Jennifer Braunfels, Litchfield, Maine

Swerve by Drew Boone, Oregon

The Dare by gracepoore, Silver Spring, Maryland

The Usual Solace by Amadea Tanner, Baltimore, Maryland

Morning Coffee by Tara May Flanagan, Truckee, California

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

Margaret Does Laundry by Charlene Cason, Bradenton, Florida

The Sabbatical by Alicia Luna, Sacramento, California

Denying Hamelin by Ekta R. Garg, Savoy, Illinois

The Christmas Letter by Jo Skinner, Brisbane, Australia

Muteaters by Hellie Hadfield, New Zealand

The Birthmark by Loretta Martin, Lombard, Illinois

Displaced Place by Caroline Michalicki, Coventry, Connecticut

The Memory Thief by Cristina Osmena, Sanibel, Florida

My Favorite Show When I Was a Kid by Kelly Q. Anderson, Glencoe, Illinois

What You Can Do With Your Book by Deidra Whitt Lovegren, Charlottesville, Virginia


What the Honorable Mentions Won:

  • $20 Amazon Gift Card


This brings the Fall 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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