WOW! Women On Writing Flash Fiction Contest Winners!

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WOW! Fall 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 Amy Giuffrida

Literary Agent Amy Giuffrida with Belcastro Literary Agency

WOW was honored to have guest judge literary agent Amy Giuffrida 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:

After Amy earned her BA at the University of Kutztown and a M.Ed. from Lock Haven University, she incorporated her love of reading and books with being a middle school teacher. Amy’s biggest joy was to put the perfect book in the hands of a teen and change their minds about reading. Amy turned this love into a career by reading romance slush for a publishing company, then interned for various literary agencies, until she became an associate literary agent in 2020. In her spare time, you can find Amy either listening to, reading, or talking about books. She also loves binge-watching teen and reality TV shows—all while snuggling with one or more of her three rescue dogs.

Follow her on X: @kissedbyink

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:  Myna Chang
Potomac, Maryland
Congratulations, Myna!
Myna Chang

Myna’s Bio:

Myna Chang (she/her) is the author of The Potential of Radio and Rain (CutBank Books). Her writing has been selected for Flash Fiction America (W. W. Norton), Best Small Fictions, and CRAFT. She has won the Lascaux Prize in Creative Nonfiction and the New Millennium Award in Flash Fiction. She hosts the Electric Sheep speculative fiction reading series. Find her at, or on Twitter or Bluesky at @MynaChang.


Printable View


Firefly Boys


I loved the fairy stories my father told me when I was little. The badger who stole checkered shirts from the clothesline, the antelope who fell in love with a rabbit named Jack. My favorite was the boy who swallowed a firefly and never died.

I’d forgotten those bedtime tales until after my junior year of college. Home for summer vacation, I needed the comfort of my childhood bed, a break from my hectic class schedule and final exam headaches. One night, I woke from a fitful sleep to find Dad in the yard, surrounded by swirling motes of brilliance. Lightning bugs, flocking to him, flitting in his hair, brushing against his upturned palms.

“Dad? What’s going on?”

He smiled and patted the ground. The insects didn’t seem to mind as I sat next to him in the dewy grass. Mom’s lilacs scented the air sweet. I wondered if she knew we were out here. A few glowbugs landed on my fingers. Their tiny legs tickled.

“You’re gonna have to explain this, Dad.”

He shifted position, stretching his legs in front of him. “Do you remember the bedtime story I used to tell you?”

“The fairy tale, about the kid and the firefly?”

Dad nodded. “Not a fairy tale. More like family history.”

I studied his profile, hesitant to speak. The idea seemed ridiculous. But those bugs! So many, and more coming all the time. They emitted so much light I could clearly see the petals of a dandelion, the sharp thorns of the rose bushes. The insects began to land on my shoulders, my crisscrossed knees.

“I was sick,” Dad continued. “My parents didn’t know what to do. The doctors couldn’t help. But then I saw these guys, twinkling outside my window.”

“And you...ate one?”

Dad laughed and shook his head. He held his hands up, splaying his fingers. Each digit shimmered, light blooming from within. The bugs shined brighter after they fluttered away from him, like they’d needed a recharge and he was the battery.

“When I told you the story, I said I ate one because it was easier for you to understand,” he said. “I mean, when you were three years old, you put everything in your mouth. Legos. Grocery receipts. A pretty rock from the garden. But not carrots; you wouldn’t eat those.”

“Still hate carrots. But that doesn’t explain why you’re glowing like an LED bulb.”

“They came to me when I needed them,” Dad said after a pause. “Filled me with their energy, their magic. Enough for a lifetime.” He shrugged. “Now I give a little back, every summer.”

More bugs landed on me, seeking contact with my skin. It should have bothered me, all those nuzzling bodies, but it was oddly soothing.

Dad’s forehead wrinkled as he considered their behavior, the way they clustered at the neck of my t-shirt and burrowed through my hair to touch my scalp.

“Looks like I might need to give a little more this year.”

Each firefly that lifted away from me was dull, diminished, unlike the streaks of radiance flying from Dad. “I don’t understand,” I said.

Dad scooted closer and draped his arm behind my back. “I should have realized,” he said. “You’ve been so tired since you got home from school. That’s how it started for me, too.”

“But I’m not...” I halted, stammering, putting the pieces together. The bone-deep exhaustion, the lethargy. Dark circles and migraines. I’d thought it was a semester-long hangover, the result of too many credit hours crammed into too short a time. Not sickness. Not some family disease.

Dad squeezed my shoulder. “Enough magic for a lifetime,” he said. His luminosity dimmed as a fresh surge of light left him, settling into me.

It took a few heartbeats for me to comprehend. Then I jerked away. “You’re fading! You can’t give it to me.”

His smile was not sad as he took my hand. “Of course, I’ll give it to you.”

He lifted his face to the night sky—and his breath caught. A cascade of winged incandescence spiraled toward us, brighter than all the stars. “But maybe I won’t have to,” he whispered.



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:  Gayle Beveridge
Wonthaggi, Australia
Congratulations, Gayle!
Gayle Beveridge

Gayle’s Bio:

Gayle Beveridge writes because she loves it. It is her radiant red-sky sunset, her budding spring flowers. It is bird song and a long walk in the bush. It is whatever she wants it to be. Gayle is a past winner of the Boroondara Literary Awards. Her work has appeared in Award Winning Australian Writing, The Umbrella’s Shade, Vegemite Whiskers and Mosaic. Gayle is passionate about writing, photography, sunsets, dogs, and chocolate and with Victoria’s beautiful Bass Coast, which she now calls home. In a past life Gayle was an accountant, (don’t hold it against her), but now she is free to write.

Printable View


Walk with the Woman


Walk with the woman. The door slams behind her. She parts the toasted air in a whooshed rush, ignores the sun’s needling that will tattoo bare arms and shoulders pink and then red. She stomps anger through thumping heels and pressed toes, but the concrete path rejects it. She balls it into her fists and throws it to a blue and bright, flawless sky. It boomerangs and she thinks, There is no love without trust.

Sit with the man. Alone with a television he does not hear and does not see. He feels the door slam, a rumbling vibration of bewilderment. He rolls back his words, picking at the strands of them; a forensic search for a weapon he cannot recognise. He has injured her. She is injured. He scratches at a thread in the arm of the chair, worries it until it frays and he wonders, Why?

Count back the years. Their first date amidst the swirling lights of the ferris wheel and the jangling music of the carousel. She makes her fingers sticky, picking dabs of spun sugar from a pink ball of fairy floss on a wooden stick, dabs that she sucks and dissolves on her tongue. He throws soft balls at a moving line of metal ducks, and wins her a white teddy bear, with a spotted blue bow around its neck and a cute black-button nose. They hold hands as they walk. She lets the warm blanket of his care settle on her. It is comfortable. He makes himself a barrier against the swelling crowd and he looks with suspicion at the passing men.

Observe the woman, smothering along with her dreams. Her hands tearing, pushing and pulling, against the weight of the wet blanket he has so expertly tossed. The joy of the afternoon, a ticket to a train she wants to board, bright and new and shiny, waiting at the station, its engines warming, ready to go. Partnership. An offer earned across a decade, the zenith in a lawyer’s career. A joy, unable to be contained, an eruption of excitement shared with him. And he, rejecting the hug she sought, he says, “An achievement, of course. But it will be long hours. You’ll not be wanting to spend long hours with other men.”

Imagine the man and the woman at the start. When new love is hot running lava, swallowing everything underneath, and all they see is its beautiful glow. They take the city train, stand pressed together by the commuter crowd and their own insatiable hunger. He walks her to the office, hugs her, kisses her goodbye, and savours the prying looks. She blows kisses from glossed lips across piano-player fingers. He meets her for lunch, when the air smells of car fumes and vinegar-soaked chips and tastes like success.

Hear him crack open the whisky bottle. Watch as he pours that liquid matured to colour, its clarity, and love’s, lost to time. His phone is a clay-fired brick in his pocket; the urge to call her, narcotic. The urge to explain, overwhelming. He wants only to protect her. He swigs the whiskey. It burns in his throat as his love for her burns in his heart. When it reaches his gut, he burns with hatred for the men she works with. Men in their Dolce & Gabbana suits with their luxury cars and golf club memberships.

Picture the woman. Counting grievances as her Fitbit counts steps, the replayed years, a second-rate show on a free streaming service. She squints in the glare of the sun, its arc from morning to night near complete. The path ahead is clear. When first she began to see, she wondered why he had changed, but now she understands that he is as he always was. The loss of love, the illusion of it, is a sorrow; a journey ended.

See the man rise in relief as he hears the door. “Where have you been? You were gone so long.” He waits. For an explanation. For an apology. For understanding.

Watch the woman embrace the sunset. She has a ticket to a train she wants to board, to a journey she hungers to take. “I’m accepting the partnership.” If he forbids it, she does not hear. If he grieves their parting, that will pass.

Watch the woman striding to the new dawn.



What Gayle 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: Marie Davis
Washington, DC
Congratulations, Marie!
Marie Davis

Marie’s Bio:

Marie Davis is an epidemiologist who works in global HIV prevention and began writing fiction for fun a few years ago. She's currently working on her first novel, exploring themes of family, belonging, and girlhood. Overpriced cappuccinos, other people’s dogs, and pithy books about angsty women who don’t really do anything fuel her creativity. Seeking ways to streamline her writing process, Marie is grateful for any tips to improve her current, chaotic approach. Although she resides in DC, her heart yearns to one day live by the ocean where she can best be angsty and not really do anything herself.

Printable View

Not Pictured


She greets the wet patrons as they exit the ride. Her welcome often goes unnoticed—the guests are busy staring past her in an attempt to identify themselves. Puddles form beneath their feet while they search for their photo from the other side of her counter.

A family approaches, laughing. The mother combs her dirty blonde hair with her fingers before she braids it down her back. She reaches into her crossbody fanny pack for a hair tie and secures the tip of the braid. This new style reveals large, pearl earrings. She smiles down at her son.

Look. The father lifts his son to hover over the counter. Can you find us? The son squints, removes his glasses and wipes them on his shirt before replacing them. It’s a sophisticated move for a boy shorter than the height of the counter. After a moment, he points to the photo of his family.

Yes—there we are! The man puts the son down. Shoot, sorry we dripped on your counter.

It’s okay, it happens. It doesn’t, but she doesn’t mind. The father is handsome in a way that suggests he always gets what he wants and people are still happy for him.

Do you want to see your photo? The father’s jaw clenches slightly. He doesn’t want to buy it.

Instead of making the decision he asks the boy. Do you want to see the photo or do you want to get ice cream? The father draws out the r’s in or, building suspense for the option on the other side of the preposition. The boy ponders before he selects sugar over sentiment.

She gets it. The ice cream here is good, especially on a hot summer day.

Enjoy your treat. They smile and she smiles, then they are gone and she is still there.

For some reason, she can’t stop thinking about them. She wants to eat ice cream with them, too.

It’s not that her life is bad. It’s fine. Her parents consistently inquire about the quality of her day and her sister begrudgingly shares clothes with her. They have an old, black dog that spends a majority of its time asleep on an old, brown loveseat. Her bedroom is too pink—a blushing homage to her wrapped-up childhood. She finds it more nostalgic than annoying.

It’s just, it’s her life.

She knows she’ll eat baked chicken tonight, because it’s Monday, and that she’ll receive a stern talking to for forgetting to fold her laundry. She knows her parents will go on a movie date twice this month to spend silent time in front of a large screen, publicly, instead of their small television screen, privately. She knows her best friend will be accepted to a better college, and subsequently, will land a better job and rent a better apartment and this discrepancy will reduce their friendship to annual birthday wishes instead of the daily rehashings of the mundane aspects of their existence.

She knows she’ll lose her virginity on a twin sized bed in a musty dorm room and that every Christmas her aunt will make a spiced nut medley and her mom will bake peanut butter cookies and they’ll exchange them like an aromatic drug deal.

She wants to know something else. What does this family worry about, what are their hopeful maybes? Do the parents still love each other or simply tolerate the finality of their union? Do they pray at night, if so, do they pray for the same things? If one of their prayers is answered would the other’s prayer be crushed, or are their fantasies tied together by hope’s invisible sting?

What night of the week do they eat baked chicken?

Maybe, if she lived with that family, they would repaint her bedroom walls. She’d pick white, a clean start.

She’d probably be sad when the pink is covered with potential.

At the end of the day she throws the unpurchased photos into the industrial sized trash can. She doesn’t know what becomes of these photos. But she cares about the photo of the family with the handsome dad and his son with the funny glasses and his wife who was having a good time despite herself. She wants to remember the father’s kind, unexpecting smile and that the mother paired pearl earrings with practical walking shoes.

She doesn’t want to discard of their memory, so she tucks their photo into her backpack before she clocks out.

Baked chicken awaits.



What Marie 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:

Sam by Carie Juettner, Richardson, Texas

December 1994 by Elizabeth Danek, Portland, Oregon

All the Time in the World by Krahe, Homewood, Illinois

Well-Kept by Jennifer Braunfels, Litchfield, Maine

Conundrum by Yolanda Renée, Myrtle Beach, South Carolina

Chrysalis by BV Lawson, Washington, DC

Blonde by Sara Winslow, San Francisco, 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 2023 Contest Honorable Mentions! Your stories stood out and are excellent in every way.

Keeping the Home Fires by Elizabeth McLean, Fishers, Indiana

The Curve Ball by Jenny Sundstedt, Fort Collins, Colorado

Death of a Heroine by Andriana Taratsas, Richmond, Virginia

Each Changing Place With That Which Goes Before by Emily Roth, Chicago, Illinois

Hummingbird by Jeanine DeHoney, Tobyhanna, Pennsylvania

Neighbor by Shelley Jewell, Monroe, New Hampshire

The Girls by Kelli Short Borges, Phoenix, Arizona

Mom’s Night Out by Cheryl Fitzgerald, Wall, New Jersey

Boiling Over by Holly Brandon, Petal, Mississippi

Recollection of an Atheist, 1973 by Tamm Walters, Gainesville, Florida


What the Honorable Mentions Won:

  • $20 Amazon Gift Card


This brings the Fall 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!

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