WOW! Women On Writing Flash Fiction Contest Winners!

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WOW! Spring 2019 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 the summer 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 joined the Jennifer De Chiara team in 2018, after interning for a year and a half. She’s a nonfiction MFA candidate at Hamline University and earned her BS in marketing management from Virginia Tech. As well as agenting, she works as an editor at Red Bird Chapbooks, a teaching artist at the Loft Literary Center, and a reader for multiple literary magazines. Her own creative work has been publishing in Barely South Review, Hobart, Lime Hawk, and Every Writer’s Resource, among others. When not immersed in the world of words, she can be found on her motorcycle, at her boxing gym, or lounging at one of Minnesota’s 10,000 lakes. She lives in the most beautiful literary capital: Saint Paul.

What she’s looking for in book manuscripts:

For YA, I’m interested in books that focus on friendship, conflicting identity, and the theme of truth. I’m always drawn in by a protagonist venturing into a realm where society says they don’t belong (think swapping gender norms), and characters with weird obsessions are a weird obsession of mine—teach me strange new things, and I’m yours. I’m all about magical realism, mythology, and modern retellings, but I’m not the best fit for high fantasy or science fiction. Mostly, I’m invested in representing the diverse world in which we live and would like to see that reflected in a cast of characters. Show me variations in race, sexuality, gender, dis/ability, and ethnicity without that difference being a point of contention, and I’ll be thrilled. Call me an idealist, but my goal for each book is to give teenagers an opportunity to point to the page and say, “Finally, there I am.”

For adult fiction, I’m interested in contemporary/literary novels/stories that are relevant to culture and focus on themes and issues that impact our daily lives. I love a meaty cast and am drawn in by the fine line between humor and depth (think Liane Moriarty’s Nine Perfect Strangers). I would love to hear more from marginalized voices, regardless of whether or not marginalization is a central theme.

I’d love to bring more nonfiction into this world, especially topic-driven books/essays such as those written by the likes of Mary Roach, Leslie Jamison, Michelle McNamara, Malcolm Gladwell, and Bill Bryson—anything that keeps my curious mind engaged and wanting more. I’m also interested in memoir that will inspire generations to come—H is for Hawk is a personal favorite—and I’m a sucker for humor, so long as it’s doing more than just making me laugh—see: Priestdaddyby Patricia Lockwood.

For more, follow me on Twitter: @slbrooks91 Visit Savannah’s JD Lit page for contact information:



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.

Every writer has been a gracious participant through the whole process, from the beginning of one season to the next. We’ve written emails to authors, agents, and publicists who have donated books to our contest, and we’ve shared our delight regarding the true sportsmanship among our contestants. It doesn’t matter if it’s one writer who placed or another who tried but didn’t; all writers are courteous, professional, and wonderful extensions of WOW! Women On Writing’s team. Writers’ stories and e-mails fill us with enthusiasm.

Kudos to all writers who entered, whether you won or not, you’re still a winner for participating.


To recap our current process, we have a roundtable of 8+ 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, she (or he) receives an e-mail notification that she passed the initial judging phase. The second round judging averages out scores and narrows down the top 20 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. The WOW! Women On Writing judges take time to read them all. We recognize names of previous contestants, writers familiar with our style. We enjoy getting to know you through your writing and e-mailing. Remember that each one of you is a champion in our book. We hope that you continue to enter 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:  Patricia Perry Donovan
Jersey Shore, USA
Congratulations, Patricia!
Patricia Perry Donovan

Patricia’s Bio:

Patricia Perry Donovan is an American journalist and author of two novels of domestic suspense published by Lake Union: At Wave’s End (2017) and Deliver Her (2016). She has nearly completed a third, Her Own Best Interests, a family drama with a dose of medical intrigue set on Spain’s Costa del Sol. The story follows burnt-out social worker Aida Bischoff, who, while in Marbella for her husband’s medical conference, grapples with the disappearance of a wealthy American surgeon, the five-year-old daughter the surgeon left in Aida’s care, and a loved one’s baffling illness whose origins threaten to infect Aida’s marriage.

Her short story, “Still Life,” was awarded second place in Women on Writing’s Winter 2018 Flash Fiction competition, and her fiction has appeared in several literary journals. She is a member of the Jersey Shore Writers and enjoys mentoring aspiring writers, including several whose work has been recognized in recent WOW! Women on Writing contests.

Patricia and her husband have two grown daughters and live at the Jersey shore with Diesel, their senior-aged Yorkie. Connect with her on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram, or visit

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The Everyday


Backordered. Audrey bites her lower lip. The e-mail confirms what she has already suspected: her family’s new table won’t arrive before Thanksgiving. Sighing, she drags a pair of sawhorses from the garage to the dining room, and positions a sheet of plywood over them. A bright tablecloth tossed atop the makeshift table will mask its ugliness; no one will be the wiser. She has grown skilled at devising such workarounds. Since the nor’easter two years ago, life has become one contingency plan after another, inuring her to disappointment.

The memory of an earlier plywood table surfaces: the one her family of four hastily assembled, then heaped with valuables. As an afterthought, Audrey dashed back inside and grabbed their plastic-encased wedding album from atop top the pile before they evacuated. Before the waist-high floodwaters poured in, buckling the sawhorses’ legs and sweeping away their existence.

At least we have the new dining chairs, Audrey consoles herself. Earlier, her son and daughter spotted the bulky cartons on the porch from the car a block away and squealed their discovery. Audrey indulges them, allowing her children to tear open the boxes right then and there and extract the plastic-wrapped seats. After admiring them, they drag the chairs inside and unwrap them, inhaling the promise of new wood. Each element they replace is a salve to their wounds, one more piece of the complex puzzle that is the painstaking reconstruction of their lives.

At dusk that evening, positioned around their temporary table, the tangerine chairs mirror the late autumn sun setting over the tranquil river. Staring at the serene waters now, it requires effort for Audrey to recall that afternoon when the sky darkened prematurely and the river coursed down their street and into their home, wreaking havoc. It took days for the waters to recede; a week before police would allow homeowners past barriers to assess the damage. A water line on the fireplace marks the before and after.

The power has returned, but many families haven’t. Outside, after months of darkness, neighbors’ homes twinkle with possibility. A few weeks ago, the town razed the last abandoned cottage, exorcising the sole clapboard ghost of the hurricane that capsized their community.

Like the storm surge, the horror has mostly subsided. Their endless hours of sweat equity, nights and weekends spent stripping their home to its bones and reconstructing it, have finally paid off. With luck, the four will move back from Audrey’s parents’ cramped home by Christmas.

Much finishing work remains, and yet, she cannot resist the idea of hosting Thanksgiving here tomorrow. They have earned a reason to celebrate.

Tonight, only the setting of the holiday table remains. Nearly giddy, Audrey drags the plastic bin from the crawlspace. The bin contains her grandmother’s rosebud china salvaged from the antique hutch that ended up at the curb, as did most of their sodden belongings. A tradition of joyful holidays past, their porcelain presence on the table will speed the healing.

Audrey summons her children. The three kneel expectantly as she yanks off the top of the bin, only to recoil in disgust. Her son and daughter also clap hands over noses to blunt the pungent, fishy stench. The beloved china is still intact, but it is filthy, unusable, fossilized with the river’s fetid backwash, teacups and saucers encrusted with mud and mold despite their rinsing by stalwart volunteers in the storm’s grim aftermath.

Audrey sighs and sits back on her heels, her vision of an elegantly set table shattered. How had she dared to hope? “They’re only dishes,” she murmurs, rubbing her son’s shoulder, which trembles under her touch.

Meanwhile, Audrey’s daughter, who has become a teenager during their forced exile from their home, rises and heads to the newly painted kitchen. She opens a cabinet, and from a shelf she could not reach before the storm but is now easily accessible, withdraws a stack of stoneware and cradles them in her arms. Rounding the table, she centers one dish at each place. Watching her teen, Audrey notices for the first time that some plate edges are chipped.

The plates her daughter sets down are the everyday dishes, but they will have to do, Audrey decides. Chips and all. And somehow, this return to ‘everyday,’ with its accumulated scars and imperfections, feels perfect, appropriate, the exact thing her family has hungered for since the storm made landfall. Tomorrow’s meal will nourish them.

And for that, they would be thankful.



What Patricia 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:  Linda Petrucelli
Hawi, Hawaii
Congratulations, Linda!
Linda Petrucelli

Linda’s Bio:

Linda likes to write about people at the end of their rope, people who are in trouble, who mess up, but still find open a doorway to grace. Her story, “Figure Eight on the Waves,” won first place in the WOW! Women on Writing Fall ’18 Flash Fiction Contest. Her poetry and fiction appear in the Spring 2019 issue of KYSO Flash and Flash Fiction Magazine. Linda writes from her home on the Kohala Coast of the Big Island. These days she’s working on a memoir about her search for Shiro Sokabe, the Saint of Honomu. You can find her flash fiction at

Printable View



Poi Dog


I can hear Tutu in the kitchen rattling plates, divvying up slices of papaya and the musubi—one for Tutu and one for Nani, one for Tutu and one for Nani. It’s her way of getting me out of bed and ready for school. But I don’t want to go. All the kids in class give me stink eye. Ask me, what are you?

I’m hiding under the crazy quilt Tutu made with her own two hands when she was the same age as me. She stands in the doorway and folds her arms across the mountain of her chest. I tell her I can’t go to school because I don’t have anything to wear, burrowing deeper. Underneath the cover, I run my hand along the tiny, patient stitches of her quilt. I still haven’t told her the bad things they say about me, so I shut my eyes. Soon, Tutu’s breadfruit body is sitting on the bed next to me. I push my head against the softness of her thigh, smell bacon on her housedress, and almost doze off.

Tutu praises the day I was born. Says I’m made by a great Creator in the sky. She says I’ve got royal blood in my veins. And that I come from a long line of royal women like Queen Liliuokalani, the Queen of Sheba and the Crown Mother in London, England. Tutu says it’s actually a badge of honor to be called a Poi Dog. Poi Dog’s got the best trait of all the dogs combined. So they’re smarter and stronger. I love the way my tutu loves me. Blessing my crazy orange hair, my upturned eyes, my skin the color of tree bark. Her love is like the moon at night.

Tutu shakes my shoulder. I open my eyes and wake up. No dilly dally, she says. Get dressed. And I obey.

It’s one of those cool, wet mornings and the big coconut palm out back bends over in the wind. I roll myself up in tutu’s quilt and walk over to the closet with its sliding mirrored door that makes my bedroom look as big as a cathedral.

Then, just for a moment, because I don’t want to dilly dally, I stand in front of the mirror and let tutu’s crazy quilt drape over my shoulders. The heavy padded fabric falls to the floor, a magnificent train cascading behind me. Something worn by royal women like Queen Liliuokalani, the Queen of Sheba and the Crown Mother in London, England.



What Linda 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: Jerri Jerreat
Ontario, Canada
Congratulations, Jerri!
Jerri Jerreat

Jerri’s Bio:

Jerri is a social justice and environmental activist, and writes fiction, both good and terrible, for joy. She is inspired by her family, her ten-year-old students, and a number of kick-ass non-profit groups.

Her fiction has appeared in The Penmen Review, (pending), Everyday Fiction, The Ottawa Arts Review, The Yale Review Online, The New Quarterly, The Antigonish Review, The Dalhousie Review, Room and is in two anthologies, Glass and Gardens: Solarpunk Summers (World Weaver Press) and Nevertheless: Tesseracts 21 (Edge Publishing). She mentors her students to write and perform a play each year and was honoured that her own play was performed in the Newmarket National Play Festival, July 2019. The actors were magnificent. She can be found at

Printable View




I see mirages in the waves—girls in American jeans, pink tops, safe, relaxed. They lounge on swings sipping Spark. “Spark lights you up!” Smile at me.

Waves lap against the rubber boat endlessly. They echo whimpers, hushed conversations.



“I’m scared.”

“It’ll be all right.”

A child cries; is hugged.

“Trust in Allah.”

Clutching my pack, crushed between strangers, family, I tremble. Don’t look at faces. Everyone is scared. I look out, at waves.

Sometimes, the white foam is snow and I’m sinking, screaming for family to pull me out. I shiver in intense cold—

Sometimes they’re just waves.

Pirates had boarded some refugee boats. We heard they beat them with sticks, cut their clothes, stole all cell phones and money. They ripped the dinghy, threw the motor overboard.

Why the cell phones?

No videos. Many people drowned. So many. A few were rescued—after two days in the water.

Waves make me dizzy. I hug my pack, worry the operator knows the way to Greece.

There are statues thousands of years old, Mother told us. She taught history, had always wished to visit. Waiting for this rubber boat, she’d entertained us with descriptions of farmland and white stone villages hugging cliffs. Columns of ancient temples rising from hilltops.

I picture it as Aleppo before the war. We went once on holiday. Beautiful. Modern apartments, fountains and parks, and ancient arches. Yellow cabs everywhere, slim minarets lit up at night.

None of us knows where we’ll end up, anywhere from Norway where people ski to school—to Germany, trains timed to the second.

I pray for a southern country. Greece, France, Italy, Sweden.

At school I’d worn a hijab and long dresses over pants. I’ve seen paintings of the Christian Mother Mary, and thought she looked like me. A Muslim. Imagine that.

“Styles haven’t changed much in our part of the world,” Mother had said tightly.

There’s been no school for three years, since I was eleven. I have photos of my best friends, Imad and Mariam, crazy for football, (Mariam our captain, like Firas Al Khatib) in my album. We’re dressing up, dancing, hugging. My grandparents and cousins are all in there. All the people I’ve left behind. Aunt Zeinab who made me fruit kebabs. Uncle Rami who taught me how to dribble around an opponent. Only Aunt Doaa came, who’s widowed. She bravely brought her two toddlers and walked north into Turkey with us. We had to hide from the army. Killers. Mercenaries. It makes me want to spit.

In my backpack is my album and just one book of stories, wrapped in a wool sweater and a dress, embroidered by my Sitti. The rest is jammed with food. A year from now—what language will I speak? Will I change too much, will I forget too much?

I close my eyes. The boat ride was supposed to be short. It’s just a few kilometers to a Greek island from the Turkish resort where tourists were sunbathing.

“My feet are wet!” I gasp.

It’s an explosion. Adults shout; they grab cups and scoop water out frantically. I join and get elbowed in the eye. We’re not fast enough. Our dinghy is collapsing from water in the centre; we’re falling inward. We’re going to sink!

“Backpacks overboard!” shouts my mother, a smart thinker.

No! I quickly unzip my pack to grab the album, but a large hand yanks it away. Up, up, up, then over it goes, and dozens more. People shout. It’s a war, like the missiles and bullets firing at our apartment building in Syria. I pull my small cousin onto my lap and bury my face in her yellow knitted hat. Eventually the boat starts to settle. Our feet are in water, but no more is coming in.

“We’ll make it now,” whispers my mother. “God willing.”

“My books,” moans someone.

“Our food,” whispers my aunt.

A soft wailing goes up over the sea.

“Ssh! Do you want pirates?”

Mouths are hastily covered. Pirates! Ssh!

I stare at waves. They took the cell phones so no one could call for help.


A long time later, we see the shore. Everyone cheers. There are rescuers, waiting.

(So why am I crying?)


Written to honour the many thousands of families trying to cross the Mediterranean, seeking a safe haven.



What Jerri 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:

Morning Breaks by Christa Fairfield, Concord, California

The Talk by Chelsey Monroe, San Francisco, California

Cracks by Courtney Essary Messenbaugh, Lafayette, Colorado

Marigold by Martha Goddard, Brisbane Australia

The Talisman by Elizabeth Maggio, Clifton, Virginia

Murmurations by Stephanie Scissom, Altamont, Tennessee

Book by Book by Bonnie West, St. Paul, Minnesota

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

A Lovely Neck by Kelly Sgroi, Melbourne, Australia

Machine Three by Michelle Upton, Brisbane, Australia

Growing Natural by Amber Nolan, Key West, Florida

Saturday Morning by Sharon Gerger, Ontario, Canada

Weeds by Joyce Barton, Langhorne, Pennsylvania

Philip’s Plight by Jillian Greenawalt, Oswego, New York

The Incentive by Anne Craughwell, Cork, Ireland

When I Became the Sun by Jen Knox, Columbus, Ohio

Echoes of Loss by Ms. Vivian Hanich, Australia

Just Like Your Dead Uncle by Heather Baver, Pottstown, Pennsylvania


What the Honorable Mentions Won:

  • $20 Amazon Gift Card


This brings the Spring 2019 Flash Fiction Contest officially to a close. Although we’re not able to send a special 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. Each one of you has found the courage to enter, and that is a remarkable accomplishment in itself. We’re looking forward to receiving your entries for our next contest. Best of luck, and write on!

Check out the latest Contest:


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