Welcome to the report of the June 2019 WEP/IWSG combined challenge. Just a quick reminder-for each WEP Challenge, The Insecure Writer's Support Group Facebook page will have a post available where you can add the link for your entry. This is a great way to get more eyes on your work and to interact with more people!
No 1 BAD thing:
PEOPLE'S CHOICE VOTING.
Okay, maybe a couple of you liked this idea judging from an early frenzy of commenting at the beginning, but WEP tried it way back in the day and it was a disaster, so I wrote the STOP PRESS announcement pulling back. No matter what rules are in place, it descends into a popularity contest. The feedback we received on this was an overwhelming 'No!' Most people would rather be chosen by a team who reads, re-reads then often re-re-reads entries before passing a shortlist onto a professional editor/judge. Luckily, Nick Wilford returned to judge this challenge and future challenges. BAD becomes GOOD again!
No 2 BAD THING:
Linky tools was the only option the team thought they had this time. Those who didn't read/understand that you weren't supposed to post until your story was up created some havoc and jumping around of positions as Linky tools is nowhere near as good as InLinkz for this.
As stated at the top of the blog, in future we're opening a 3-day window for posting your DLs, another time-saver for the admin. The GOOD thing here is that we're going back to InLinkz who've been good friends to us since we started in 2010 and will let us keep using their linkup forever free. Thank you Maria!
I don't know what was in the water this challenge, but critiquing reached an unacceptable level. We've had the odd disappointing comment in the past, but never soooooooo many. Most concentrated on one unfortunate participant's post. Cie was disturbed to such an extent she wrote a post in response. People, this is not how WEP participants critique. Please go now to our Critique Page and read what is acceptable. If you've never read this page, you shouldn't be critiquing.
To help those who may not bother reading the page, Nilanjana summed up the main points in the comments on the most recent post:
1) Frame the critique from the POV of the writer, not your own.
2) Be helpful, not judgmental.
3) Be specific, make the critique actionable.
4) Be courteous and address the writing, not the writer.
And I would add, please leave your original post with typos etc so readers can see what the critiquer referred to.
The post that received so many disturbing comments was a vampire story. People said they didn't read vampire stories (and that was a red flag). At WEP we have a phrase at the bottom of every sign up - "All genres welcome except erotica."
There was no erotica in Cie's story.
No one likes every genre. But we're not critiquing the genre, we're critiquing the writing, the plot etc. if the writer asks us to. One person made the "don't like vampire stories" comment and that led to a follow-the-leader mentality and Cie thinking WEP wasn't the right audience for vampire stories. That's pretty ironic, since I love to write/read about vamps and have published plenty in the past. Nevertheless, I hope there's no more genre bashing here.
Vampire stories comment on humanity like most interesting stories do, whether sci-fi, high fantasy, urban fantasy, horror, spec fic, whatever. Vampire stories have been popular since late 17th century Eastern Europe. They didn't begin and end with Twilight. Vampires will never die, LOL.
CAGED BIRD inspired an avalanche of Domestic Violence stories, plus some other very imaginative entries. Which made it difficult to come up with a SHORTLIST and even more difficult for our judge, Nick Wilford, to narrow the list down to 3 winners.
L.G. Keltner - non - fiction, 'Spread Your Wings.' Poignant recount of a new mother's struggle with her newborn's health. Resonant. Emotional. Gorgeous.
Dixie - flash fiction. A hot-button issue for many women in our society. The revenge-by-crow who gave as good, or better, than he got, resulted in a powerful climax.
Susan B - flash fiction. A couple go out to the Gay Pride parade in Sitges and come to a life changing decision. Photographs of the location enhance the story.
Team Netherworld - flash fiction - Vampires (one of them vegetarian). Treachery. The protagonist is a lover, not a fighter in the brutal world of vampire.
Christopher Scott - flash fiction - A quest for lands to colonize. A powerful tale which leads to the inevitable tragic fate. Yet there is a glimmer of hope. Cleverly done was the parallel between tears in the spacesuit and the fate of humanity.
Nancy Williams - flash fiction - The much-loved faerie, Primrose embarks on an unfortunate adventure which results in a torn wing. Trapped by a thoughtless child, Primrose encapsulates the theme of the caged bird.
Roland Clark - a flash of Nordic and Slavic folklore. Mythology. Imagery of Winter. Powerful women banding to protect nature. The descriptions were swoon-worthy.
Elephant's Child - flash fiction delivered in a fresh format, with thoughts interspersed with actions as the tragic story unfolds. Her words 'bludgeon and bash'. But the final arrow to the heart was the protagonist's desperate final question: 'Can I learn to fly again?' Oh. So. Tragic.
Denise Covey - flash fiction. Memories of an abused childhood forms a difficult cage, but love can help break it and set the victim free. Powerful and evocative while tackling a hot button issue.
Lissa - flash fiction. A magical fable of blackbirds and two neighbours, one of whom leaves her 'cage' by an unexpected transformation.
Roland Yeomans - flash fiction. A shepherd boy collides with a falling passenger from the Ghost Train and gets trapped in a cage within a cage, in both space and time. He can break free of one if he physically boards it...but will he be able to do so? Complex, spooky and beautiful.
Jemi Fraser - flash fiction. Cyla disobeys Darra and gets trapped in a cabin where she discovers that pushing buttons can have rather disturbing consequences.
Jamie - flash fiction. The last of the Female Assassins has time travelled back and is being arrested for a mass shooting spree at the Congress. Another hot button issue - women's reproductive rights, highlighted through this thought provoking and dystopian flash.
Olga Godim - flash fiction. Another installment of events at Dinara's pet shop at Rendezvous Space Station, this time highlighting an animal rights issue.
Pat Garcia - flash fiction. Two women, both 'caged' - one by spousal expectations and the other by her economic circumstances. An evocative exploration of societal, class and gender stereotypes.
Rebecca M Douglass - flash fiction. Four women, each one in a gilded cage called marriage and each one finding a way to break out or live in it.
Sally - flash fiction/poetry. Three characters and three different ways of building the cages, carrying on from one generation to the next. Is everyone caged in some way or another?
Hilary - flash fiction. A thought provoking flash on how technology can cage women and enable abusers.
Toi Thomas - flash fiction. A woman journals her cage of abuse, how it begins insidiously and builds up and the process of release.
Beth Camp - flash fiction. A couple take a celebratory trip to see parrots in the rainforest. The woman wonders if they should get a pair as pets to keep in a cage. The answer comes from the man but it is not what she expected.
Kalpana - flash fiction. A house on a cliffside that looks like a cage when the monsoons come. An iron cage within the cage that fills and empties depending on who looks at it. An old man who asks a question and rows out to the sea and does not return...
Nilanjana Bose - non-fiction. A memoir in which politics and suddenly created borders fashion a cage.
Pat Hatt - flash fiction. A profoundly philosophical commentary on the human condition today - greed, consumerism, corporatisation and aggression creating a cage in which most are willingly trapped.
Jemima Pett - flash fiction. Raises another hot button issue - that of poaching and trophy hunting, set in Indonesia. The way humans impact their environment negatively.
J Lenni Dorner - flash fiction. Continued from a previous story. The burdens of a telepath and her conflicted existence in a hostile environment where the government is rounding up people like her.
Operation Awesome - flash fiction. A comic flash on the pitfalls and perils faced by Oliver Awesome, the writer who was sent to prison for the misuse of Oxford comma and several other writerly transgressions. Hilarious.
Tyrean Martinson - flash fiction. A trafficked, abused character gets her strength back through the interventions of her captor cyborg before finding herself free in a barter deal...
Carrie Ann G - poetry. The despair of a victim of domestic abuse captured in verse.
Carrie-Anne - The Imperial Highnesses are out shopping with their mother the Russian Empress for flamboyant birds. Going home, they get a lesson on the different types of cages and the one bird that is impossible to trap without its consent.
Bernadette Braganza - As humans leave the dying planet, Dora considers the birds of 'the Ark' - and grapples with a dilemma. Freedom in an increasingly shrinking, uncertain habitat or captivity in a safe space which may no longer be safe?
If you didn't make our shortlist, it doesn't mean your entry went unnoticed. Every entry is given consideration and more than one read-through, but in the end, there are entries that make the cut, often because they have something innovative about them.
So (((drum roll)))
"This was unexpected - deep and thought-provoking, and I loved the twist of having the viewpoint from the caged bird. Bleak, but not without that Pat Hatt humour!"
"Powerful stuff. Not an easy read but so vivid - I felt like I was in the narrator's head, hearing the confusion of words and voices, hectoring, overwhelming. Again this was really innovative."
Once again we thank all of those who took the time to read through all of the entries and comment. This is vital to the success of the WEP community. It's our chance to offer support and, when requested, critique that can help us all grow as writers.
Perhaps the shifting around of entries due to the Linky tool's shortcomings led to very poor commenting this round, but there were some who commented on less than a handful of entries which is so disappointing. We know some of you take a long time to get around to read, and a peek today (Saturday) shows there are some only about 4 off reading all entries, even Toi who has been sick. And Rebecca M Douglas let us know she made it!
But we have to cut off somewhere so we can get the badge made and do this write up.
On Friday Australian time, these were the wonderful ones who qualified for this award as they swiftly read and commented. We thank you for your dedicated efforts. It means the world to us to see you supporting your fellow writers!
The random pick winner using the Random Name Generator is Pat Garcia! Pat, please accept the badge on behalf of all the great commenters and display it on your blog!
Come congratulate our first place winner. #WEPFF Caged Bird Challenge @DeniseCCovey @theIWSG
The #WEPFF writers are all winners! @DeniseCCovey @theIWSG
When you give the #WEPFF challenge a spin you could be the next to win! @DeniseCCovey @theIWSG https://writeeditpublishnow.blogspot.com/2019/07/winners-post-june-challenge-caged-bird.html #amwriting #flashfiction