WOW! Women On Writing Flash Fiction Contest Winners!

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WOW! Winter 2023 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 with BookEnds Literary Agency

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 is, as she likes to say, a professional fangirl. From the early days of crafting fiction prompts on Tumblr to writing miniseries on how to write a successful fantasy battle scene, she fell in love with the minor details of storytelling. After receiving her MFA in Creative Writing, emphasizing in YA fiction, she worked in editorial roles for both digital and print until she realized she wanted to stay with her favorite authors throughout their careers. She was a publishing and editorial fellow for the LA Review of Books, where she trained with her editorial background to shift into agenting and finding new progressive voices.

Growing up, Emily would stay awake until sunrise to finish new YA releases and is currently going through that same phenomenon with middle grade fiction right now. She enjoys the whimsy, the complexities, and the warmth young adult and children’s books offer, and she hopes to work with authors interested in turning their speculative worlds into series. With a BA in History and certificates in Classics and Latin studies, she’s also a big fan of historical fiction and mythological works. She's also a shameless lover of CW shows and teen period pieces.

She writes about identity and youth through her experiences as a young Black woman, particularly focusing on genre fiction as a means to explore tropes otherwise dominated by white voices. Emily would particularly like to read stories by, for, and about marginalized creators who deserve the space to be messy, complicated, stubborn, in love, and celebrating joy.

You can follow Emily on Twitter @EmilyKaitlinnn. Information about queries can be found in her wishlist at BookEnds Literary Agency Page or her website.



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:  Jacqueline Parker
Charlotte, North Carolina
Congratulations, Jacqueline!
Jacqueline Parker

Jacqueline’s Bio:

Jacqueline Parker studied at Queens University in Charlotte, NC where she currently resides with her boyfriend and dog. Her fiction often explores broken family structures and female identity, but occasionally she writes something funny. Her work has been featured in Prime Number Magazine, Flash Fiction Online, MacQueen’s Quinterly, and elsewhere. Connect with her on Instagram/Twitter @onmytangent, and Facebook @ jacqueline.parker.142.


Printable View



I, Priscilla


A month after my husband disappears, I decide to be someone else. It happens on the drive home. There I am, sitting in traffic sobbing at the wheel, watching a child in a neighboring car press his sticky face to the window, when the idea grips me suddenly: I don’t have to be me, even if it’s only for a moment.

At home, I run a bath and pick through back issues of the New Yorker. I am now a Lady of Leisure who has time to read cerebral articles about politics and culture. From now on, I will say smart things on smart topics to impress and fascinate. No longer will I numb myself against life’s woes with cheep beer and Candy Crush.

I toss in a bath bomb and splash a whisper of orange juice into my prosecco. This is a splendiferous change in routine. Already, I’m astonishing with newfound vocabulary.

On a whim, I turn on Chopin’s Nocturnes. This seems like a dignified thing I should do. I dangle my wine glass like a pendulum as steam rises around me. The piano is melancholic, technical. I rename myself Priscilla.

Priscilla, I decide, is intelligent and dazzling, lawless and mysterious, aloof yet aware. Within her lies a helix of contradictions. She’s a bruised peach of a woman, imperfect and desirable, the kind of woman who rolls her eyes playfully and smiles while calling you lovely.

As my—her—toe travels along the faucet mouth, a trembling drop slides down her foot into the tub. She opens the magazine and reads.

Three paragraphs in and from behind the ceramic tile comes a gurgle. The plumbing issue my husband abandoned threatens to encroach on Priscilla’s relaxation, threatens to bring me back to the real world where I’m just a lonely woman in an empty house. I turn up the music before Priscilla has the mind to float out of the tub and slip on a silk kimono to enjoy the rest of her drink in more luxurious accommodations.

Slurp by annoying slurp, the bath is its own built-in hourglass. This is why I don’t take baths and why Priscilla, though glamorous and posh, is a beautiful idiot. Maybe she can call the plumber.

The gurgle continues like a child sucking up the last puddle of milkshake. We lean back into the tub, scowling yet insistent on finishing at least one measly article. There is a fine line between stubborn and determined; we are both.

The water level dips below the tops of our knees. Body parts emerge as pale, fleshy islands. We run more hot water until it covers all but the pink peaks of our nipples. Nipple, like penis or moist would never be uttered from Priscilla’s red lips. She’d choke at the lack of couth—simply vulgar language, isn’t it?—but inside, she’d laugh. At least, I do.

Priscilla can afford fancy razors but I can’t, so the real me is stuck with a disposable three-blade. It’s my body and I should spend more on it—a fact I’m reminded of when I nick my ankle and blood runs into the cloudy bathwater in lazy ribbons.

My skin’s topography is a study in contrasts. Fine lines crisscross my skin creating an epidermal map. Up close, dark hair follicles resemble an alien forest. Stretch marks and veins, lavender and cornflower and rose, spread like rivers. A range of irritation on the back of my thighs gives way to the delicate area behind my knees. Childhood scars have been smoothed to clear and shiny ridges.

As much as I adore Priscilla—who is now imaginarily perched on the toilet murmuring something about the Met Gala—she does not appreciate this body the way I do. She did not shrink herself on salads to fit into a dress. She hasn’t felt the warmth of another curve into her like interlocking pieces of a human puzzle. Her womb did not stir with life, once. At night, her hands do not grope for a lover who left rumpled sheets in his wake.

Priscilla is a polished presentation of who I thought I’d be. She may not be real, but at least she’s mine.

The water recedes. Chopin begins to sound like yule songs. A final loud suck down the drain and it’s just me and a thin tendril of blood following the current.



What Jacqueline 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:  Kelli Short Borges
Phoenix, Arizona
Congratulations, Kelli!
Kelli Short Borges

Kelli’s Bio:

Kelli Short Borges is a writer of essays, short stories and flash fiction. A former reading specialist in the Arizona public school system, Kelli is a life-long reading enthusiast. Her work has been published at The Tahoma Literary Review, The Citron Review, MoonPark Review, The Sunlight Press, and Ghost Parachute, among other publications. Kelli is a 2022 Best of the Net and 2023 Best Microfictions nominee. She is currently working on her first novel. Read more of her work at or connect with her on Twitter @KelliBorges2.

Printable View





Kat sits unobserved, staring at the kids playing near the shore. Their sand-caked feet run quickly, trampling the sun-bleached towels their parents have carefully placed.

“Hey, cool it!” a mother admonishes, cupped hand shading her pale forehead as she watches them. Finally, straightening the towels, she shakes her head.

The children release joyous screams as they propel themselves with abandon toward the wildly churning waves of the ocean, then fling themselves sideways through the roiling surf, like jet-fueled rockets.

Kat’s cheeks flush, their warmth radiating with the mercurial August heat. She glances at the parents, now calmly coating themselves with sunscreen. Ignoring the dangers that lurk. Not realizing that life as they know it can be ripped out from beneath cleanly and swiftly, gone forever to the vast and endless tides.

Kat grips the towel beneath her legs, the small muscles in her hands clench like a vise as she twists the frayed cloth. Sweat trickles above her lip and behind her knees as she squeezes, tries to ground herself in the moment. Breathing in slowly, she inhales, then exhales, again and again. Immersion therapy, Dr. Hendry called it, promising her it would get easier. Easy. A word, a feeling, so foreign Kat feels it must be another language altogether.

The kids. Kat turns, again, to watch them. She knows they’re not her responsibility, but she can’t tear her eyes away. How she yearns to lie back in the warm sand and listen to the hypnotic rhythm of the surf. To breathe in the raw tang of salty air, let the breeze lift her tangled black curls up and away, along with her pain. The way it used to be.

Kat spent summers as a child on this very stretch of beach. Remembers her parents laughing, heads tossed back in release while she played with her little sister Rayna for hours, pebbly sand dripping through their tiny fingers as they built castles for the yellow crabs so common along the Northern California shore.

“Now they’ll be safe,” said Rayna, placing a crab in the watchtower at the top of the castle, her brown eyes wide, sunburnt nose scrunching as she smiled.

At night, in the bedroom they shared in the little beach house, they would hear the beat of the breakers, the ocean’s song a lullaby. Mostly, when she thinks back to those days, she remembers the absence of fear, their innocence as bright as sea glass.

Kat’s mind, lost in memories of better days, is jolted back abruptly by the shriek of a young girl. Adrenaline shoots her up and forward, electrifying in its intensity, and she’s on her feet sprinting now, sand spitting behind her, the thunderous crash of the waves mixing with the girl’s desperate screams in terrifying symphony.

She’s at the water’s edge, sees the girl, her small scarlet mouth open wide, eyes wild as she’s yanked down swiftly, and her face is Rayna’s, and Kat knows what’s next, the monstrous force below, the rip tide that will carry her off, sucking her into the boundless sea. Claiming her forever.

Kat can save her, this time she really can, and she throws herself headfirst into the swell, gasping, choking, seawater stinging her eyes, her throat, as she thrashes and reaches for the girl. Her hands desperately scoop down, and there’s nothing there, she’s lost her.

But then she feels something, a soft net of hair, and she reaches down and grabs an arm, is pulling her up, and she’s alive, Rayna’s alive. Kat’s heart squeezes, and she’s staring into Rayna’s eyes, but something is wrong. The world shifts, snaps back in startling clarity as the girl’s eyes (blue, not brown, Kat thinks dully), widen in surprise, and her brother erupts from underneath, laughing, and now Kat sees. It was him all along. It was all in good fun.

Tears spill down her cheeks, mix with the brine of the sea, and finally her muscles soften and her mind goes blank, off somewhere far away. Surrendering, she drifts, will let the sea take her, take her to be with Rayna, as she should have all those years ago.

Her hands float down, a release. A final letting go.

But there’s a tug, now. A child’s fingers lacing hers, urgently pulling her back. The girl. She’s there with her brother. Their eyes search Kat’s, small foreheads knit in concern. “We’re ok, we were just playing,” says the girl, squeezing Kat’s hand.

Slowly, gently, Kat squeezes back.



“Undertow” first appeared in The Sunlight Press.

What Kelli 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: Terri Mullholland
London, UK
Congratulations, Terri!
Terri Mullholland

Terri’s Bio:

Terri Mullholland (she/her) is a writer and researcher living in London, UK. Her flash fiction has appeared in various journals and anthologies, including Ellipsis Zine, Litro, Mercurious, and Toasted Cheese. Her pamphlet of hybrid pieces, Weather / Patterns was published by intergraphia books in October 2022. When not writing she can be found curled up with one of her many foster cats and a good book.

To learn more about Terri visit her website: or follow her on Instagram: @terri_mullholland.

Printable View


Say It With Roses


The village was known for its red roses and widowed women.

Sally Scholes had been in the village so long nobody living could remember her late husband. A keen gardener, Sally was always out in the garden dead-heading, pruning, planting. And she was always the first to visit any newcomer and initiate them into the local culture of rose cultivation.

When Sally was not in her garden, she was on one of her regular walks, patrolling the village, peering over hedges and fences, checking out her neighbours’ gardens.

On Eileen’s lawn, three sticks were laid out horizontally, a space, and then another two sticks with a single red rose head placed between them.

The message was repeated outside Carla’s house.

Julie didn’t have a lawn, but the same combination of sticks and a single rose head were spaced out along the bricks on her wall.

Sally breathed a sigh of relief; all okay here.

Sally went inspecting lawns daily. It had started as a bit of fun, writing messages on the grass in Morse code when one of the women wanted to borrow something or invite one of the others over for a cup of tea.

It was only a game.

Then they had started signalling danger.

Julie’s husband went first. He had been hurting Julie for years. Nobody had known until Sally saw the dead roses and the broken stems arranged on the lawn. Julie always claimed they had just fallen that way.

Shortly afterward, Julie’s husband was in the middle of replacing the old drain cover in the garden when he slipped and fell. Sally happened to be passing and called an ambulance, but it was too late.

Eileen’s husband electrocuted himself with a faulty lawnmower cable. Sally had only borrowed it a few days before, it had been working fine then.

Sally remembered the day she saw the message on Diane’s lawn, the heads of three dead roses, then three strips of bark, and another three dead rose heads. They only just got Diane to the hospital in time. Of course, her husband said it was an accident; Diane must have eaten something by mistake. They all believed him. Sally took him a nice pie for his dinner while Diane was in the hospital and told him not to worry. When they found the body the next day, it seemed he had also eaten something by mistake.

After she had checked all the gardens on her usual route, Sally popped into the florist on the high street. A young couple had recently moved into the house at the end of the road and everyone agreed it would be good to have some new blood in the village.

Sally bought a small rose bush in a pot to welcome them.

She chose red roses already in bloom and full of life.



What Terri 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:

Too Many Kids by Kathryn Boyd, Olathe, Kansas

Luminous Trees by M.T. Solomon, Kenai, Alaska

Sixteen by Laura Girardeau, Inland Northwest

It’s Time by Lynn Aprill, Seymour, Wisconsin

Reflection by Anna Paddick, Ohio

Red by Sophi Strahan, Nashville, Tennessee

The Melody by Christina Adrian, Cincinnati, Ohio

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 Winter 2023 Contest Honorable Mentions! Your stories stood out and are excellent in every way.

The Closet Artist by Phylis Campbell Dryden, West Lebanon Township, Pennsylvania

The Summer He Left by Alison Ozawa Sanders, Santa Cruz, California

Gloves by T.C. Kemper, Taylorsville, Kentucky

MacAllister Girls by Shannon Fisher Mackey, Brunswick, Maine

She Already Told Me by Mary Rojas, Visalia, California

Same As It Ever Was by Kim Hoey Stevenson, Lewes, Delaware

Excelsior by B.E. Jackson, Prescott, Arizona

Transformations by Petra Haffter, Palm Springs, California

The Bride by Chang Shih Yen, New Zealand

May’s Day by Casey Cline, Elkhorn, Nebraska


What the Honorable Mentions Won:

  • $20 Amazon Gift Card


This brings the Winter 2023 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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