WOW! Women On Writing Flash Fiction Contest Winners!

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WOW! Summer 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 Fiona Smith

Literary Agent Fiona Smith with Beyond Words Literary Agency

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

Fiona’s bio:

Fiona lives in NSW, Australia, with her two teenagers, two dogs (editing assistants) and two horses.

On top of running Beyond Words Literary Agency and representing a string of successful authors, Fiona is also a writing coach, manuscript editor, keynote speaker and published author. Her autobiography, My Wild Ride, was published by Allen & Unwin in 2013. She also has a Ba Arts/ Ba Education with an English Literature major.

Prior to creating BWLA, Fiona had a successful career in Sales and Marketing at a national level. This experience, coupled with her love for and knowledge of the publishing journey, enables her to place your novel with the right publisher.

Her editing skills are also based on transforming your manuscript into a page turning sensation, that publishers and readers will love.

Contact Fiona at and subscribe to the newsletter to receive bi-monthly updates on publishing deals and news.



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

Kelli’s Bio:

Kelli Short Borges writes essays, short stories, and flash fiction from her home in Phoenix, Arizona. Her work appears or is forthcoming in Flash Boulevard, Gone Lawn, The Tahoma Literary Review, The Citron Review, Cleaver, The Sunlight Press, MoonPark Review, The Penn Review, multiple anthologies, and elsewhere. Kelli is a 2024 Best of the Net and 2023 Best Microfiction nominee. Recently, she placed 2nd in WOW! Women on Writing’s Winter 2023 Flash Fiction Contest. Often, you can find her at her favorite local bookstore, where she gobbles up lemon cake and books in equal measure. She is currently working on her first novel. You can connect with Kelli on her website:


Printable View




They are lost. Bea has suspected it for hours. Her heavy boots crunch through the thin layer of ice that has settled over the once powdery snow. Overnight, an unexpected freeze has coated the vast wilderness south of Missoula, its beauty in juxtaposition to the uneasy twist Bea now feels in her gut.

“We’re going in circles.” She glances at Jacob, a sour taste at the back of her throat. Despite the cold, a thin sheen of sweat coats her forehead. Pushing her dark bangs back, she blanches, then takes a small sip of water.

“Relax. We’re fine.” Jacob replies, his tone glacial. A warning. “The lodge isn’t far from here.” Bea, lips pressed together, trails him, her small tracks mirroring his larger ones. She’s too cold to argue.

The ice beneath them cracks and crunches as they move, the blood orange reflection of sunset now splintered beneath their boots. A bitter wind shrieks through the ghost-like branches of surrounding pines, bites at slivers of exposed skin. Bea wraps her arms around her chest, rubs her hands together to stave off the chill. She can barely feel her fingers now, and wonders how long it will take frostbite to set in. She feels the composure she has struggled to maintain begin to break like the icy shards beneath their feet.

“Jacob. We’re lost. We...”

“We’re fine, Bea. Why do you always doubt me?” He stops, leans toward her, chest thrust forward, brow furrowed, face so close she feels the cold burn of his exhale on her skin. Instinctively, she shrinks, draws into herself. Tears prick the corners of her eyes, but she quickly wipes them away. Keeps moving. Follows Jacob, as she always has.

But now, as they round the next bend, there’s finally proof. They’ve only gone in circles. The hare lies dying in the snow, its small body curled under a pine tree. Even in the twilight, with the ink of night washing over them, Bea sees its eyes have dimmed. It hasn’t moved from where they saw it hours ago. When it looked like it might have a chance.

“Is there something we can do?” she whispers.

“Only put it out of its misery.” Jacob reaches into his backpack, pulls out the gun that’s never far from reach.

“Jacob, no...”

“Bea. We have to. It’s suffering.” She covers her ears, turns away. The gunshot echoes off the mountains, finally replaced by the high-pitched scream of the wind.

Bea’s hands tremble as she reaches down, feels the once flat hollow of her abdomen. She cups it, then drops her hand and turns back to Jacob. Blood has sprayed across the snow, crimson replacing white. The hare’s eyes are now dull, lifeless.

“It didn’t hurt. It never knew.” Jacob looks away. Won’t meet Bea’s eyes.

The metallic smell of blood is overwhelming. Bea retches, the acid in her throat burning as she heaves. She pictures Jacob, hunched over their kitchen table after a hunt, the slice of the knife through sinew and flesh. Pictures sterile waiting rooms, the doctor’s cold hand on her thigh, the sickly-sweet ginger ale she will be given afterward. Feels the phantom weight of regret, the unbearable ache of loss.

It starts to snow, a white flurry quickly covering their jackets, their hats, their boots. The hare. Finally, all is coated in a milky haze. Everything but the blood, still warm and wet. It leeches out from beneath. Stains each new layer of white.

“Jacob, I think I know the way from here. I can lead us back.” Bea reaches for Jacob’s hand. He pulls away, laughs.

“Please, Jacob.”

“You think you know the way, huh? When have you ever known the way, Bea? We’d only get more lost.”

Bea considers him, standing there. What she will leave behind.

“And if I go?”

“You won’t.” But there’s a question in his eyes, the smallest hesitation. Just as quickly it vanishes, is replaced by the sharp glint of certainty. It’s all she needs.

She turns, looks up into the black. Finds the northern star. Her footsteps quickly vanish as she heads into the night.



“North” first appeared in The Tahoma Literary Review.

What Kelli 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:  Tess P.
London, United Kingdom
Congratulations, Tess!
Tess P.

Tess’s Bio:

Tess P. has worked throughout London, crossing careers from law to television with creativity, curiosity and playfulness at her core. ‘Secret Whispers’, an unplanned collection of contemporary poetry was published in 2021. ‘Secret Portraits’ is her second work, a dark treasury of shorts and poems that will be in print early 2024 with all paperback profits going to a UK cancer charity. She is hoping to send her debut novel out into the world very soon.

Tess writes intuitively, driven by her heart. Her penchant for photography, eye for aesthetics and appreciation of life, imbue her every piece.

You can find her most days engaging in light chat on Twitter/X @Tess_2020

Printable View


An Unexpected Muse


Leonardo was having a bothersome day. His oils were a little on the light side and he wondered if that new boy, Michelangelo, had sneaked in, stolen a few favourites, and fast-footed it over to the other side of Firenze. He raked his hand through dishevelled hair. He would deal with him later. Right now, he had more pressing issues; specifically, the young lady sitting in his studio. She was not right. She was not what he had ordered. She would simply not suffice.

His thoughts travelled back to his most perfect portrait so far. Leo (close acquaintances only) had been pleased with his ‘Lady with Ermine’. Naturally, he’d heard the insidious gossip circling the piazzas. ‘The piece is too small’, ‘That weasel’s not real’, ‘He used the Duke’s mistress? Shame on him.’ But what should he care of ignorant comments? He’d like to see those critics paint anything even remotely as exquisite. Capturing that femme fatale on a panel of walnut wood was no easy task, but Cecilia Gallerani had been the most sublime subject. His frazzled mind returned to the present. This female before him was causing a Vesuvius of monumental proportions and explosion was imminent. The reason? Most obviously, she was too young. He had requested a woman, but given instead this ragazza, no more than sixteen. She would not do. No! No! No!

The artist paced the flagstones, tutting whenever he paused to brazenly frown at the pale creature. Her hair was wrapped up high in blue fabric with golden ribbons hanging down the back of her neck. A collared garment hid her delicate shoulders. Leo did not approve. Furthermore, the girl persisted in looking towards her left, revealing a pearl-like earing from her lobe.

‘I simply cannot work with this.’ He open-palmed his distaste. His moustache quivered in disgust.

Leonardo strode towards her, jabbed his brush along the outline of her petite frame and openly sneered from top to toe. The girl held his stare, etched defiance upon her porcelain skin.

‘You do not have eyebrows,’ he taunted. ‘What can I possibly do with that face, that earing and no brows? TELL ME!’

She said nothing, seemingly unshaken by his temperamental outburst.

‘You are not even Italian!’ he screamed.

Leonardo hung his head in shaking hands and wept uncontrollably. He was prone to an excess of drama, but art was art. It was his life, his passion, his beating heart’s discourse.

‘He is a Da Vinci! A genius. He has no need to apologise.’

(Leo had a penchant for third person, especially when feeling somewhat sensitive).

He continued striding, muttering savage syllables, staccato pauses punctuating violent and most tragic sobs. All the while, the girl watched and waited.

Silently, she shifted in her seat, turned to face him and laid her right hand over her left.

Leonardo caught his breath. Pupils dilated and veins widened as blood coursed, pumping fierce allegro beats. His spine vibrated, as if tripping the tango after swigging a bottle of fine Veneto grapes. What sorcery is this?

‘Do not move a muscle,’ he whispered.

He tip-toed to his table and switched woods. The sudden inspirational image in his mind necessitated his vision to be painted on poplar. Trembling, he picked up his palette and began feverously mixing the sparse oils, shooting furtive glances at the girl as he did so.

‘There is a dress behind that screen. Put it on, remove that head covering and take that thing off your ear.’ His words tumbled like chords played out of tempo.

‘Return to the chair and clasp your hands once again. Understood?’

She nodded and stepped away. Her compliance soothing against his fractured agitation.

‘Leonardo cannot paint a girl with a pearl earing! He is so much more,’ he mouthed to the tiny aperture of a window. The sky spilled forth a vermillion sun touched with tinges of sienna and sadness. Sunset brought out the melancholy in him.

He slammed the shutters as the girl slipped back to her seat, hands arranged as instructed.

She did not move, so still was her repose. Her eyes met his, and in that instance, Leonardo saw the woman she had become, and finally he understood. The quiet beauty of wisdom and experience emanated from her being, diffusing the sombre room with luminosity and motes of magic.

The smallest of smiles broke from her mouth. An enigmatic wisp of something so innocent, and yet so knowing.

Leonardo gasped.

‘La Gioconda,’ he breathed.



What Tess 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: Anaïs Godard
Los Angeles, California
Congratulations, Anaïs!
Anaïs Godard

Anaïs’s Bio:

Anaïs is a Franco-American writer who loves weaving difficult stories with wonder. Holding a Master’s degree in Linguistics and Semiotics from La Sorbonne, she is currently finishing her debut novel. During her time in the TV industry, she co-founded @nastywomenLA to champion women in the arts and underrepresented voices. When she’s not writing, you can find her chasing her twin toddlers through LA’s libraries and other fantastical realms. For more of her work visit her instagram @anaismoods and website:

Printable View



On that frigid winter’s eve, I birthed forth a pumpkin, an inexplicable marvel that defied the boundaries of its season. October had long receded, assuring me of a conventional child, yet there it lay—a bumpy, orange orb—upon the delivery table, wriggling like an infant just emerged.

This was meant to be the most beautiful day of my life, and yet, my heart swelled with conflicting emotions. I had seen children with similar characteristics before, and had always felt a tinge of discomfort and perhaps a touch of sadness for what they must endure. How could I, who had pitied them, take care of a pumpkin? How would I feed, clothe, and love it? I wasn’t prepared for this.

“It’s beautiful,” my husband whispered, eyes brimming with tears.

Days passed and I began to feel a peculiar attachment for the pumpkin. Strangely endearing, it possessed a tender disposition, eliciting enchanting murmurs and gleeful rustles when caressed. I found myself dressing it up in tiny outfits crafted from scraps of fabric, cherishing the intimate bond we forged.

As the pumpkin burgeoned, however, it grew apparent that it possessed peculiarities, setting it apart from the realm of typical children. Mobility posed challenges, rolling askew and struggling to find its footing. Its countenance held a bewitching enigma, and when it sprouted extra tendrils and a misshapen grin, I sought the expertise of a doctor who bestowed upon us a diagnosis: my pumpkin was a Jack-o’-lantern.

“But it was born in January.”

“Mishaps happen to the best of us.”

Mishaps. The word reverberated through my mind, stirring a disquieting echo within my soul as I accepted the pamphlet for a pumpkin patch he handed me. A place to belong, he said; kinship might blossom amidst other pumpkin parents.

My husband and I set out to make our house more accessible for the pumpkin, tilling organic soil into a cozy bed. We honed our ability to communicate through touch, sound and facial expressions. As I watched the pumpkin struggle—its attempts to move, to communicate, to exist in a world that wasn’t built for it—I realized that it wasn’t that different from anybody else. We all faced our own challenges. Like all of us, my pumpkin was doing the best it could. I also found that the pumpkin found contentment in its pumpkinness, that it wasn’t a mishap, but rather the society that sought to cast it as such.

We experienced moments of distress; there were tears and wrenching cries of injustice. But together, we sipped pumpkin tears, brewing them into invigorating nectar. In moments of pumpkin laughter, a pure and resplendent sound, I felt an ache of joy unfurl within my heart. And when we went out in public, drawing stares, whispers, and pointed fingers, the pumpkin remained serene. It responded with an unspoken, crooked smile, as if proclaiming: “I am as I am, and that is enough.” And indeed, it was.



What Anaïs 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:

How to Store Your Little Sister’s Wig by Dawn Miller, Picton, Ontario, Canada

Dear One by Abigail Russo, Boston, Massachusetts

The Bereavement of Wild Birds by Alison Morretta, Pound Ridge, New York

Stripes by Brooke Carnwath, Bozeman, Montana

Feed the Beast by Naomi Stevens, Berkhamsted, Hertfordshire, England

Periodically by Piyumi Kapugeekiyana, London, United Kingdom

Safe Keeping by Courtenay Heilman, Northwest Arkansas, United States

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

Piece of Meat by Anne Freeman, Melbourne, Australia

Did You Say Something? by Elizabeth Maggio, Portland, Oregon

My Beau by Kris Wooten, Winston-Salem, North Carolina

The Heir by Carol Dellinges, Carson City, Nevada

The Cashier by Tess Koerner, Leesburg, Virginia

Birth Song by Yahney-Marie Sangaré, Alexandria, Virginia

The Eyes of Easter Island by Annamaria Formichella, Storm Lake, Iowa

Hunter Green by Rachel Singh, Atlanta, Georgia

Bon Appetite! by Sofia Moon, Lunenburg, Canada

The Mother-in-Law Cabin by Marion Surles, Dublin, Texas


What the Honorable Mentions Won:

  • $20 Amazon Gift Card


This brings the Summer 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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