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WOW! Spring 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 Kaitlyn Katsoupis

Literary Agent Kaitlyn Katsoupis with Belcastro Literary Agency

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

Kaitlyn’s bio:

After receiving a BA in Writing, Literature, and Publishing from Emerson College, Kaitlyn refused to leave the concept of nightly homework behind. A literary agent for Belcastro Literary Agency, she is also a freelance editor at her own company, Strictly Textual. Kaitlyn started her literary journey as a copyeditor for academic publisher codeMantra, a YA editor for Accent Press, a Conference Assistant for GrubStreet, Boston, and has been agenting since 2016. She has written various articles for Writer’s Digest and has had a flash fiction story published in the anthology A Box of Stars Beneath the Bed.

You can follow Kaitlyn on Twitter @RedPenKaitlyn.

Visit Strictly Textual for editing services at or Kaitlyn on Reedsy at

Belcastro Literary Agency:



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:  Casey Liston
Boston, Massachusetts
Congratulations, Casey!
Casey Liston

Casey’s Bio:

Casey Liston is a writer of personal essays and flash fiction. She is inspired by the weird, the campy, and the queer. She is a writer in both her personal and professional lives. Casey recently received an honorable mention in WOW! Women on Writing’s creative nonfiction contest. She is currently embarking on writing her first novel. She lives in Boston, Massachusetts with her wife and two adorable cats. Connect with Casey on Instagram at @_caseywrites.


Printable View




The wheels on my desk chair roll back along with my eyes as another wave of pain crests and crashes over me. I am sitting in my office but my mind is in the kitchen, with the chef’s knife I bought from Amazon after a sushi making class I took in college. My body stopped feeling like a body long ago, warped as it is by the chronic pain in my pelvis, a cramping so deep it feels like the cut of a knife. A knife, I think to myself, doubled over, my forehead resting on the desk. Not so different from the hysterectomy so many choose when plagued by endometriosis like my own.

I stand up abruptly and make my way to the kitchen, pulling the chef’s knife from the drawer under the microwave. I waste neither time nor tears before plunging the blade into my abdomen, dragging it straight down to meet my pelvic bone. The blood that trickles then flows then gushes out is brown, salty-smelling. I peel back the flesh and reach inside, extracting the slab of my uterus, orange with white albumin, a restaurant-quality cut of salmon sashimi. Finally, I am free of it and it of me, the skin of my not-a-body hanging open where the dreaded organ once was.

I don’t stop there. As I set my uterus in its place among little piles of ginger and wasabi, I feel a twinge in my leg, an old injury that never healed right. Before I can reach to clutch at the painful spot, I do myself one better and slice the knife through the sheet of seaweed wrapped taut around the flesh circling my femur, a perfect spicy tuna maki hitting the ground with a thud. I place it gently on the platter on my kitchen table, cutting neat pieces from the roll with the precision of a Michelin-star surgeon. I rid myself of my crabstick arms, the blonde strands of seaweed growing from my scalp, and the soft dumplings of my breasts, all positioned carefully around the pieces of sushi. My fingers chop up as easily as scallions, one hand slicing the other, the fragrant green pieces tossed into the rivers of soy sauce running through my open veins and flooding the kitchen. At last, I bid my brain a cheerful farewell and drag the knife through my neck, the soft crunch of my spine no more resistant to the blade than a leg of soft shell crab. I deep fry my head whole and place it in the center of the platter, more useful as a crab Rangoon than it ever was to me.

I am putting the finishing touches on the meal when the waiter comes to take the platter away. The remains of my not-a-body collapse into a chair, sipping ice water from a plastic quart container where my mouth used to be. The waiter runs the platter out to table 12. A decade’s worth of psychiatrists, endometriosis specialists, and urgent care doctors drop their napkins into their laps and shift their drinks around to make room for the feast in front of them. They remark on how fresh the sushi is tonight, how much care the chef must have put into this meal. They blot the corners of their mouths with pages from my medical records. We’ll have to come back here, they say, dipping pieces of me into my own blood and lifting me to their mouths with chopsticks.



What Casey 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 Strauss
Los Angeles, California
Congratulations, Susan!
Susan Strauss

Susan’s Bio:

Susan Strauss is a Portuguese-American author whose culture influences her identity and her writing. She is a teacher and a coach, and as the world turns upside-down, she writes like crazy.

She writes novels, The Queen of Saudade and its sequel, The Queen of the Frostbite Ball, and picture books, Sincerely Yours, Buster and My Dog Speaks Portuguese, as well as a long list of Letters to the Editor.

“It was Friday, So We Had Air Raid Drills” is her first publication of flash fiction, and it is dedicated to all the children who deserve to grow up in a world without war and other man-made disasters.

She lives in Southern California with her family and a dog named Buster.

Printable View


It Was Friday, So We Had Air-Raid Drills


It’s 1963-4-5-6-7-8-9, and we’re watching CBS, on the Nightly News with Walter Cronkite. Tonight, it’s Cuba. Bay of Pigs. Missile Crisis. Kennedy says he’s sorry. Khrushchev vows to kill all the children. “And that’s the way it is,” Walter Cronkite said then signed off.

“So, minha,” Tia Blina said. A moon lit the room. “What did you learn in school today?”

“I learned,” I said. “That at any minute I could get hit by an a-bomb.”

Though bedtime, I still wore my too-long Brownie uniform, the sash with good-girl badges, and squeezed my St. Christopher medal in my pocket. A Santa Ana breeze cooled Blina’s house just west of the Mojave. Blina wore one of her seven flowered aprons with bold ric-rac trim. Our faces were like mirrors except her hair was tucked in a tight bun, mine was shorter and completely wild. Calm settled as her endlessly brown eyes as they held mine.

“Okay, sbicca,” Blina said. “Start at the beginning.”

“It was Friday,” I said, “so we had air-raid drills. Sirens made my head explode. Were bombs about to drop on my head? My cousins cried. I didn’t cry. Except for when I did.”

“Ai, dios!” Blina said.

“Kids screamed,” I said. “I screamed. The teacher screamed. We squeezed under desks, hugging our ears, hugging our knees, hugging the steel legs of the desk for dear life. Billy, Tommy, everybody about to get hit smack in the head by an a-bomb.”

“Ai, Caded!” Blina said.

“We rolled into balls,” I said. “Fat pencils flew everywhere. We prayed like crazy. Even Jimmy, and he’s Jewish.”

“Jews pray, Lu,” she said. “What did you pray?”

“Mama, Daddy, Tia Blina. Mama, Daddy, Tia Blina. Mama, Daddy.”

“Tia Blina?” she said. “I made the top three!”

“But my teacher, Ms. Tucker, couldn’t fit under her desk, so she strapped a fat book, Lassie Finds a Family, on her head and crawled around checking on us.

“Oi!” Blina said.

“We sang,” I said. “I sang. My cousins sang. “The Itsy-Bitsy Spider,” “Somewhere Over the Rainbow,” and “Here Comes Santa Claus.”

“Oi!” she said. “Singing! Yes!”

“We sang,” I said. “And sang and sang then the nilly-billy squirming stopped. Ms. Tucker held up a picture of the view from our window: a yellow sun, clear blue skies, orange trees, and purple snow-capped mountains. Then the siren screamed. The sun screamed, the skies screamed. The oranges screamed, the mountains screamed. Everything kept screaming.”

“You’re home now.” Blina wrapped me like a mummy with a cotton blanket. “Let’s say prayers, hit the hay, sleep like angels.”

Sleep comes with dreams of splattered red paint, shrieking kids, frozen desks cracked like icebergs. I squeezed my St. Christopher medal and rolled against Blina. Her hand-woven Portuguese quilt covers us. Sirens scream like banshees, and I’m up, listening. I want to pee but leap barefoot through the open windows into darkness, landing in the dirt drive. I run. Past nameless shadows, past smashed oranges, past sidewalk cracks, onto our empty road with no neighbors, only moonlight. My cotton nighty with rose buds that will never open sags. Blina arrives like Wonder Woman, wrapping me in her rose bud cape.

The sirens soar, getting closer.

“I have to see the street,” I told Blina. “An A-bomb or a firetruck? A mushroom cloud or a police car chasing a bad guy?”

“Ai, Caded,” she said. “Lu, it’s an ambulance.” She wraps her robe around me and I feel like Super Girl ready to leap up and fly. Her heart beats loudly against the pulse in my neck.

“Ah, minha,” she said. “God’s in heaven and we’re fine down below. Now, back to bed.”

My breathing slows. “Okay, sure. I’ll try.”

“But, why did you need to see the siren?” Tia Blina said.

“So, I’d know what it was,” I said. “An air raid or a siren that screams day and night?”

“Ai, Jesus,” Blina said as we crawled through the still-open window and into our bed. She wrapped me tight in her arms. “Lu, God sends messengers, angels, to protect us as we sleep, especially children. Especially you.”

“But the sirens?” I said.

“Angels,” she said. “Blowing trumpets.”

I knew that wasn’t true but liked the sound of it and let her voice roll over me.

“Shhh,” she said, tucking me back in bed. “Sleep, Minha. Sleep.”

I didn’t sleep. I’m still not sleeping. Still not sleeping. Not sleeping. Still. Even now.



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: Wendy Cooper
Vancouver, BC
Congratulations, Wendy!
Wendy Cooper

Wendy’s Bio:

Wendy was born and raised in England but now resides in Vancouver, BC. She is autistic and co-founder of the Autistic Writers' Group, a safe space for people on the spectrum to share, learn and receive feedback on their writing. Wendy loves to write in the genres of fantasy, horror, and comedy. When she’s not writing fiction Wendy spends her spare time writing articles for a not-for-profit art foundation.

Printable View

The Joy in My Life


She leapt off the bridge. The rush of wind against her face. The view of the ground became more detailed the closer she got. She remained silent. Heart pounding. Arms outstretched. This is it.

Then she rebounded back up. The bungee did its job. It hit a peak and once again she fell, free. She bounced a few more times, nerves and excitement surged through her body.

Back on solid ground, she sat.

“So, how do you feel?” Joy asked.

“Incredible,” Liv replied.

“See I told you. I knew you would enjoy it.”

“Yeah.” She struggled to speak, “I can't believe I did that.”

The bungee jump came after a week of outings.

Before this week, Liv and Joy had only hung out inside Liv’s apartment. Liv had trouble leaving the house because of anxiety. This meant the two of them spent the majority of their time together inside, most of it in Liv’s bedroom due to the issues with her roommates. They didn’t approve of Joy.

They were opposites. Joy, an extrovert, popular, and carefree. Liv, a thirty-seven-year-old, unemployed introvert, counted Joy as her only friend.

They’d known each other since school and never lost contact. This week circumstances had changed, and Joy took full advantage of Liv’s newfound freedom.

The first outing took them to the grocery store. People rushed and bumped her. The music grated her ears. Shelves stacked so high, the colours, messages and patterns loomed over her tiny frame. The array of choices overwhelmed Liv.

She made it out and back home in one piece. Relief flowed through her. To survive the grocery store felt like an incredible achievement. Next up, a restaurant.

“I hear the tacos here are the best,” Joy said. “You should get them; I know you love tacos.”

“But the price,” Liv said.

“C’mon, you never go out. Treat yourself.”

Liv’s eyes peered at other tables. She felt intimidated by the crowd and the constant chatter of others added to her nerves. She focused on her breaths to keep calm. Sweat drenched her hands and underarms, she worried people would notice.

She ordered tacos and loved every bite. Again, relief upon exiting the restaurant. Liv had faced up to another fear.

These new experiences gave Liv the confidence to check off one of her bucket list goals, to complete a bungee jump. The next day Liv had her usual appointment with her therapist.

She walked in and took her place on the navy-blue couch, the cushions sunk. Stacks of tissue boxes, piled high, in the corner of the room drew focus as the only notable décor.

She perched on the edge of the seat, eyes focused down, picking at her fingers.

The therapist said, “Last week we discussed the idea of taking your imaginary friend with you for support, how did that go?”



What Wendy 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:

Before and After 8:46 by Lynn H. Powers, Brooklyn, New York

Play At Your Own Risk by Renee Rockland, Rehoboth Beach, Delaware

Legless Bill by Caroline Michalicki, Coventry, Connecticut

Of the Sea by Kayla E. Green, Greenville, North Carolina

The Playground by Scarlet Ansley, Los Angeles, California

Jitterbug Gold by Kathleen Furin, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

After the Storm by Sophie Claire, Manchester, UK

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

Fish-worm by Sara Weiss, Nyack, New York

Hush, Puppy by Ellen Notbohm, Portland, Oregon

Second Chance by Alicia Stankay, Ambridge, Pennsylvania

Who We Are When They Leave by Ida Chavira, El Paso, Texas

Morosa by Phylis Campbell Dryden, West Lebanon Township, Pennsylvania

Mugging Revisited by Grace Poore, Silver Spring, Maryland

Elixir by Calla C. Smith, Argentina

Waves of Change by Jill Chapman, Princeton, Indiana

Camaro by Elaina Battista-Parsons, Toms River, New Jersey

Winnings by Shanna Yetman, Niles, Illinois


What the Honorable Mentions Won:

  • $20 Amazon Gift Card


This brings the Spring 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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