Monday, 13 September 2021

#WEP #WINNER's #GUESTPOST - Kalpana Misra's Alphabet Circles

Hello everyone! Laura here!

As you all know, the winner of the WEP challenge gets the opportunity to write a guest post. Kalpana Misra's piece Landai moved readers with its portrayal of women in Afghanistan and the power of their poetry. Our judge Nick Wilford said, "This really brought home the terrible reality of what is happening in Afghanistan and how women's voices, which are already clandestine, might be snuffed out completely once again. This shows poetry as a mighty act of resistance."

Today Kalpana talks a bit about a Kashmiri poet named Zareefa. Take it away, Kalpana!

Alphabet Circles

The JCB Prize longlist came out last week. It brought with it feelings of despair. It’s a prize awarded to an Indian author writing in English as well as translations from Indian languages to English. You can read some extracts here. My daughter’s astonishingly good first novel, The Heart Asks Pleasure First couldn’t be considered because she doesn’t have an Indian passport although she lives in India. I don’t know if books should be judged on your nationality.  I know there are excellent reasons for these rules but it is disappointing. Being published as an Indian writer in English isn’t that simple.

So it was all doom and gloom for me in the past week and I didn’t want to read any of the JCB books apart from the translations from Malayalam.

I thought about the Landai the Afghan women write and recite in the face of so much opposition and danger, and my spirits lifted slightly. Here were women who believed in literature enough to defy the patriarchy that blanketed their country. Patriarchy that isn’t only in our part of the world. I went back to Tara Westover and Educated and thought about what it must have taken out of her to write that memoir that made her family cut her off even more effectively than before. Into this frame of mind,  came an article about a 63-year-old Kashmiri woman poet, Zareefa,   who never learnt to write. Her only language is Kashmiri, that’s all she speaks and the government, trying to make that language obsolete, as well as the men who kept her home from school because she was a girl combined their forces to ensure she never learnt to read and write. She didn’t need to. Poems and ghazals just came to her.  But she kept forgetting her poems and wasn’t happy with her children’s methods of recording them - either writing them down for her or making audio recordings. So she invented her own alphabet of circles, which only she can interpret, and through this sign language she reads out her poems.

I was so moved by this story and Zareefa’s tremendous love for her writing that my bad mood and petulance were completely washed away like a cool mountain breeze washing away the city’s pollution.

It is, of course, nice to be recognised, to win prizes, to have people talk about your books and buy them in huge numbers and I’m not ashamed of saying I want that for my daughter. And for me, when I do get published.  But it is easier to make oneself happy thinking of women like Zareefa.

Kalpana is a poet, writer and journalist who got waylaid by teaching. She has recently broken out of this hostage situation and begun to write seriously again. She is half German, half Indian and lives in New Delhi India with her three indoor cats. She is co-owned by four other feral cats. Her three children are far away now but used to be her entire life. She’s still getting used to cooking for one person. Kalpana is nibbling away at her novel, which is always ‘almost ready’. She might be a perfectionist.

She has been widely published in Indian magazines and newspapers.


Some of her work is visible on



Thank you for your guest post, Kalpana. Isn't the power of Zareefa's love for her craft inspiring?

We'd love for you to tweet this post or share it to Facebook or your favorite social media site.

@Kalpanapster #WEPFREEDOMOFSPEECH #WEPwinner #guestpost Alphabet Circles @DeniseCCovey, @YolandaRenee, @LGKeltner, @OlgaGodim #amwriting #writingchallenge

@Kalpanapster #WEPFREEDOMOFSPEECH #WEPwinner Landai #guestpost Alphabet Circles @DeniseCCovey, @YolandaRenee, @LGKeltner, @OlgaGodim #amwriting #writingchallenge

Learn about an inspiring poet with @Kalpanapster #WEPFREEDOMOFSPEECH #WEPwinner #guestpost Alphabet Circles @DeniseCCovey, @YolandaRenee, @LGKeltner, @OlgaGodim #amwriting #writingchallenge


Our next challenge is just around the corner! We hope you will all consider joining us for our October challenge, The Scream! We'll post about it on October 1st!

See you all there!

Tuesday, 31 August 2021

Winners of the #WEP #FREEDOMOFSPEECH Challenge August 2021

Hello everyone! Laura here! We would like to thank those of you who took part in the August Challenge FREEDOM OF SPEECH. This was certainly an intimidating topic for many, and we appreciate your effort!

We've decided to bring back the blurbs for this month! We know a lot of you have missed them! 

In order to keep blurbs going in the future, we at WEP talked about having individual participants write blurbs/taglines for their own entries and include them in their post. This would give everyone valuable practice for those all-important submissions to agents and editors and save the WEP hosts the work of writing them for each challenge.

An example of a #tagline from my Paris Dreams novel: "Sometimes a new life comes at a cost." Short and sweet. A tagline doesn't have to tell the story. It's mainly about theme.

HERE is a great article by Anne Allen and Ruth Harris Jemi shared on Twitter this morning. All about writing BLURBS.


Yolanda Renée - Words - Words can be weapons. Does freedom of speech mean cruelty is allowed? What is the cost of these words?

Hilary Melton-Butcher - Freedom of Speech. An intriguing look at the history of human speech from how we learned to speak to using that ability freely

Susan B Rouchard - The Fresco. A look at the power of artistic expression, an artist who has external rules to follow and the inner drive to explore his truths and his hopes 

NR Williams - Freedom Of Speech. A reminder from our past that people haven’t always had the freedom to speak their opinions.

Olga Godim - Space Fleet Academy Neville is a busy man but the curious behaviour of a passenger has caught his attention and blocked his drone. Will Neville crack the case?

Nilanjana Bose - A Fine Yarn - the Emperor's New Clothes has a new twist. Can you see it? (pun intended) . ‘The truth never did set him free.’ 

Christopher Scott - ‘Break free, remove yourselves from their digital world before civilization forfeits any chance at freedom.’ A future revolutionary makes a passionate plea for freedom. Truth wears many faces. Literal and metaphorical chains hold the future. Who will survive?

Denise Covey - The Silent Apocalypse - The politicians tell of one reality while the people experience another. Is it another Chernobyl?

Sally - 'Because I want to, he said…I want to wait, she said.’ Sally explores freedom of speech and consent in a powerful piece combining both prose and poetry. in The Beginning - it’s all about perspective in this one. Light and bars and love and sorrow and what happens when words aren’t heeded.

Kalpana Misra - LANDAI #WEP – "To be a woman anywhere is to struggle" In Afghanistan they support one another through poetry. 

Carole Stoltz - Freedom of Speech - "Freedom cannot be bestowed; it must be achieved” Carole pays homage to some of our greatest heroes. 

Roland Clarke – Crime Never Sleeps - "A nation without language is a nation without heart". Sparkle and Kama unmask a dishonest politician. 

Jamie - Bullets or Blood Cells – "TIRED of fighting misinformed people," Jamie shares her angst via an amazing poem. 

Sanhita Mukherjee – Granny’s Philosophy -  ‘Only the media remains free while they enslave thoughts of individuals.’ Granny and grandkids have a wide-ranging talk on everything from Simone de Beauvoir to Donald Trump.

Sonia Dogra - Of Silver and Gold. A contemplative poem inspired by the proverb “Speech is silver, silence is golden.”

Charlotte (MotherOwl) - a chapter of the author's ongoing fantasy story Unicorn Farm. Susan and Heidi offer a home to a family of goblins, and the goblins discuss the move. Everyone has a say in the goblin society.

J. Lenni Dorner - Seven. A conquered nation never really surrenders. They might back down to survive, but the resentment is always smoldering. Be aware, conquerors.

Jemi Fraser - Their Voices. Canadian history has some dark moments. We need to ensure their voices are always heard.

Pat Garcia - Freedom's Calling. An inspiring true story of a woman born a slave who won her way to freedom.

LG Keltner - Unapproved. Graduate. Camina has a speech to give and a powerful choice to make. The approved version or the one filled with truths not everyone wants to hear?


Our wonderful judge Nick Wilford has been a real trooper over the years. We've sent him some long short lists in the past because we had so much trouble narrowing down our choices. And who can blame us? We see so many stellar entries that choosing winners can be a difficult task. Still, this month we did our best to make things easier on Nick by sending him a short list of three. This is not a reflection on the quality of the entries this challenge. There were passionate email exchanges involved as we whittled things down. There were pieces we all loved that did not make the list, so do not despair if you don't see your entry listed here.

Pat Garcia
Carole Stolz


Thank you once again to all of you who continue to comment! Commenting is a major part of WEP's success. The feedback you give your fellow writers helps them improve their craft, and the words of encouragement help to motivate and inspire.


The winner of each challenge gets the opportunity to receive a critique prize. They also get the opportunity to write a guest post for WEP. Our sidebar proudly displays everyone who is offering critique prizes for 2021. You are welcome to contact any of the editors with a request for work. 

This month's critique prize is brought to us by our own Jemi Fraser. She is offering a first chapter critique or a query/synopsis critique. Thank you, Jemi!



Congratulations, Kalpana, for your entry, Landai.

Nick wrote: "This really brought home the terrible reality of what is happening in Afghanistan and how women's voices, which are already clandestine, might be snuffed out completely once again. This shows poetry as a mighty act of resistance."

Kalpana, please post your badge on your blog and link the badge to your winning entry. Enjoy the critique prize or pass it on if you have no body of work ready. We eagerly await your Guest Post on a topic of your choice!



Congratulations, Pat Garcia, for your entry, Freedom's Calling.

Nick wrote: "This was a heartrending and educational post - particularly so as the entries around it highlight that such treatment of women is not consigned to history."

Pat, please link the badge to your entry and post it on your blog. Congratulations!



Congratulations, Carole, for your stunning entry, Freedom of Speech.

Nick wrote: "Very inspiring stuff, and sobering as well - pushing us all to take action however we can."
Carole, please link the badge to your entry and post it on your blog.


Stay safe and keep writing, everyone!

Please join us for the OCTOBER challenge, which is just around the corner. That challenge brings us...THE SCREAM. Hope to see you there! Baffled about what to write? Check the CHALLENGES 2021 page.

This prompt has rich possibilities. Spooky Halloween stories would be perfect, but don't feel pressured to write horror if that doesn't speak to you.


We'd love for you to tweet this post or share it to Facebook or your favorite social media site.

Read amazing entries from our WEP AUGUST 2021 FREEDOM OF SPEECH winners @DeniseCCovey @yolandarenee @LGKeltner @OlgaGodim #BrilliantDebuts #amwriting #flashfiction #wepwinners

#WEPFF FREEDOM OF SPEECH winners announced @DeniseCCovey @yolandarenee @LGKeltner @OlgaGodim #amwriting #flashfiction #wepwinners

Come congratulate our AUGUST winners!. #WEPFF FREEDOM OF SPEECH Challenge @DeniseCCovey @yolandarenee @OlgaGodim @LGKeltner #amwriting #flashfiction #wepwinners

The #WEPFF writers had some fantastic entries for FREEDOM OF SPEECH! WEP winners announced! @DeniseCCovey @yolandarenee @OlgaGodim @LGKeltner #amwriting #flashfiction #wepwinners

Thank you for the writing excellence, WEP Winners FREEDOM OF SPEECH! @LGKeltner @DeniseCCovey @yolandarenee @OlgaGodim #amwriting #flashfiction #wepwinners

Sunday, 1 August 2021

#WEP 2021 Continues the Artistic Inspiration- FREEDOM OF SPEECH! Sign up here


The link above opens for submissions on August 18th!


It's time for the fourth challenge of 2021, FREEDOM OF SPEECH!

We hope you're enjoying the Year of Art

Laura is the host for this month. All of our challenges this year have been blessed with enthusiastic participation and wonderful entries. We hope you will continue that with FREEDOM OF SPEECH. Given the importance of this topic, we have no doubt that you will all give us your best work.

So, this is how it goes. There will be a:
  • Shortlist created by the team and judged by Nick Wilford
  • Winners' post announcement which will once again include blurbs of all entries. Next challenge we will try something new re blurbs. WATCH THIS SPACE!
  • Winner's Guest post on topic of their choice
  • MailChimp to alert you to posts


WEP is continuing with the popular Critique Prize for the winner along with the regular Guest Post. Each challenge, a different editor/author will offer their unique prize. Check out the sidebar for our 2021 offerings. Have some work ready! And feel free to contact any of the authors/editors with an enquiry if you have a ms you'd like edited/proofread/critiqued.

The August Prize is a first chapter critique or a query/synopsis critique from Jemi Fraser. You may recall, Jemi is a much-awarded WEP winner, which gives her the editing chops that may very well help you improve!

Jemi Fraser writes romantic suspense filled with hope, heart, and humour. Her stories combine her love of mystery with the satisfaction of a Happy Ever After. Armed with a mug of tea and freshly baked cookies, Jemi is living out her own HEA in Northern Ontario. Love is always worth the risk!

Website | Facebook | Twitter | Instagram

Jemi’s latest Bloo Moose Romance is Reaching For Family, available at most retailers. Number 8 in the series!

* Before we move on, we'd like to announce Jemi has joined the WEP team as an admin this month. She'll be assisting us in every area of operations. We're thankful that Jemi will take the time to interact with you all in the midst of her crazy writing and publishing schedule. As they say, ask a busy person. Welcome, Jemi!

You've got to be in it to win it!



The Scream by Edvard Munch was a shoo-in for October - this challenge is devoted to the horror genre in honour of the Halloween/Samhain/observances of the other world spirits. Go as creepy as you like. But other genres are welcome too, there’s no genre police here, except that non-negotiable no to erotica.

This is a world renowned artwork symbolising the horror and angst of the human condition. It has since its creation in 1893, become an iconic representation of modern life. Read about The Scream here.

Edvard Munch was a Norwegian born artist who split much of his working life between Berlin and Paris. Mental health issues ran in the family, so Munch had occasion so observe its effects from close proximity. He was much influenced by Impressionists and post-Impressionists such as van Gogh.

The prompt is wide open to interpretations - who will it be that screams? And why – in pain, terror or exultation?

Will it be a human scream that rends the air? Or an animal one?  Or a scream from another world altogether? Or will it be a cosmic scream of the planet?

A silent scream in colours, like the one Munch felt in a sunset sky above a fjord? Or an articulated one in sound and words? Just a gasp or piercingly loud? That’s up to you, we’ve got our ears cocked and ready listening for it.

We'd love if you'd Tweet Tweet Tweet some/all of these:

WEP writing prompt Freedom of Speech @DeniseCCovey @YolandaRenee @LGKeltner Sign up August 18-20! #amwriting #flashfiction #WEPFF #poetry #nonfiction #amwriting #flashfiction #WEPFF #poetry

Get-your-thinking-caps-on for Freedom of Speech @DeniseCCovey @YolandaRenee @LGKeltner Sign up August 18-20! #WEPFF #amwriting #flashfiction #poetry #nonfiction

Join WEP @DeniseCCovey @YolandaRenee @LGKeltner, for the next Challenge of 2021, August's Freedom of Speech. Sign up and Post August 18-20! #WEPFF #amwriting #flashfiction #poetry #nonfiction

Write with @DeniseCCovey @YolandaRenee, @LGKeltner, for the August challenge Freedom of Speech! Sign up and post on August 18-20!

To Post our Link, use this

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We are looking forward to seeing where this month's prompt takes you!
Your host for FREEDOM OF SPEECH--
Laura, for the WEP team.

Wednesday, 7 July 2021

#WEP #WINNER's #GUESTPOST – Steph Wolmarans' Writing with Change in Mind

Hello everyone! Renée here! 

As you all know, the winner of the WEP Challenge gets the opportunity to write a guest post. Steph Wolmarans' story Storm of the Water Dragon moved its readers from hopelessness to hope. As our judge, Nick Wilford said: "Very imaginative and otherworldly. Impressive world-building in this short piece."

Today Steph has addressed Writing with Change in Mind. So take it away, Steph!

 Writing with Change in Mind

When I taught writing to elementary students I used to tell them no one would care about Cinderella if her father never died, or her stepsisters were really nice to her. People want to read about conflict, otherwise what is the point?


I also taught them to look for a change in the character from beginning to end when reading stories. Did the character want to change? What happened to their feelings?

I had plenty of time to think about these lessons while I worked on my manuscript this past year. I focused a lot on the story arc, character arc, and moral arc. Simply put, arcs occur because of change. The conflict causes a change or prevents it. Whichever occurs is generally the opposite of the main character’s original desire or goal.  

I feel like this is more relevant to readers today than ever before. It seems like everyone has “change” on the brain. Some fight for change, others fight to prevent it. Humans have accomplished so much by adapting to change, and preserved truly beautiful cultures by refusing to change. No matter which side of change we find ourselves on, we are generally very passionate about it.


I think because of the recent intensification of change, authors must also step up their game. Perhaps it is my personal preference, but I tend to relate better with characters in extreme situations. For this reason, I prefer speculative fiction. It provides a lens through which I can contemplate reality. The best authors create elaborate, but tidy worlds that allow readers to see the conflict with crystal clarity. The result is an emotional attachment to the characters caught in the arc of change.

I was recently stuck in a car dealer waiting room awaiting repairs. I worked on my manuscript to pass the time, but the other woman was glued to the HGTV episode. In the show, wealthy celebrities were “giving back” by fixing the yard at their friend's house. The writers for the show pulled her in by discussing all the hardships this “poor” woman had suffered with the loss of her mother and husband in the past year and her move to a smaller mansion. Each time they mentioned these hardships, the woman in the waiting room would utter a sound of sympathy. I could not help but think she was crazy for caring about this woman. Is that outdoor kitchen and luxury spa pool really going to make her life better? Obviously, the recent events in her life were tragic. If the same happened to me, I would be devastated. But I had a lot of trouble attaching to the story. They could build an entire subdivision of tiny homes for refugee families for what they spent on this woman’s backyard. Is it just me? My age or personality?  

For me, these writers failed to create a relatable story. Personally, the show would have been more enjoyable without the “story” part. It was reality TV, but it was a very narrow view of reality. That is why I like stories that push readers beyond reality. I think authors have a big challenge to keep up with the drastic changes in our world today. The next generation of readers may have trouble relating to the conflicts of yesterday. What do you think?


Steph Wolmarans is a speculative fiction author. Her short story,
The Utten Mission, was recently published in the Insecure Writer’s Support Group anthology Dark Matter:  Artificial. Steph’s flash fiction, short stories, and novel updates can be found at


Thank you so much for your guest post, Steph. How about you, readers? Is conflict key in your writing?

We'd love for you to tweet this post or share it to Facebook or your favorite social media site.

@StephWolmarans #WEPGREATWAVE #WEPwinner #guestpost Writing with Change in Mind @DeniseCCovey, @YolandaRenee, @LGKeltner, @OlgaGodim #amwriting #writingchalleng

@StephWolmarans #WEPGREATWAVE #WEPwinner Storm of the Water Dragon #guestpost Writing with Change in Mind @DeniseCCovey, @YolandaRenee, @LGKeltner, @OlgaGodim #amwriting #writingchallenge

@StephWolmarans #WEPGREATWAVE #WEPwinner Storm of the Water Dragon #guestpost Writing with Change in Mind @DeniseCCovey, @YolandaRenee, @LGKeltner, @OlgaGodim #amwriting #writingchallenge


Our next challenge will be here before we know it! We hope many of you will consider joining us for our August challenge. Freedom of Speech! We'll post about it on August 1.

See you all there!