Tuesday 2 July 2019


Hello all!

Denise here! 

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!

Well this has been an interesting month. So much so I've used headings - The GOOD, The BAD and The UGLY. 

Now if you can't wait to pop down and see who won, please remember to pop back up to read this section. There's important things for us. going forward.

And I hope you've read the new text at the top of the blog ^^^ which outlines some changes. to posting.


Some of the changes that were brought into the WEP June challenge were BAD according to most, but some GOOD came from it.


Long-term supporters of RFW/WEP who have been on this adventure with me since 2010 rallied. I learned it's not easy to let go of something you created when you're unhappy with the direction it's taking, so the team graciously allowed me to come back.

So I can continue as Host, several dear WEP friends have offered to help carry the not insignificant load so all of the team can more easily achieve their writing goals. How good is that? 

Some of the tedious jobs we set ourselves, like counting comments, are being outsourced to WEPers. It's important to continue this prize as when it began, commenting was at an all time low. Commenting has improved and we know who's into the spirit of WEP and who isn't. And who is eligible for a prize and who isn't.

Each challenge from now on will be handled by one WEP admin. There will be minimal input from other team members, except in reading/commenting/shortlist. Once again, this will ease our load. Currently, I'm handling August, Nilanjana, October and Laura, December. If there's any way you feel you can help, put your hand up please!!



The overwhelming number of comments/emails, suggested dropping the Amazon Gift Card. Those same people said participating was reward enough and receiving the acknowledgement through one of Olga's badges was a lovely bonus.  One supporter suggested we offer a critique prize and we've listened. 

Starting this August, the RED WHEELBARROW winner will receive a critique from editor, Chrys Fey - see details in the sidebar. And in every challenge till at least the end of 2020, different editors will offer varied prizes.

No 3 GOOD thing:

The WEP team have learned to be more open in their communication. Change can be a GOOD thing.

The BAD:

I hate talking about the BAD. But I must. Changing just about everything we'd set up at WEP was not a good idea. Some changes were made to save the admin from future burnout, but we've taken care of this in other ways. The team is still intact, so we handled the inner controversy well. So feel relaxed, dear WEPers, that the standard you see outlined in the August 1 post will be the standard WEP operates under while I'm host.

No 1 BAD thing:


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! 


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.

Okay. Enough. Let's get to why you landed here today. Who won June???

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. 
Thank you all for taking the time to post over the 3-week posting period and thank you to those who read most/all entries and encouraged fellow participants! 
We're thrilled to announce the winners for the WEP/IWSG collaboration for the CAGED BIRD Challenge. 

Thanks to our gifted admin, Nilanjana Bose, here is a quick blurb for each entry.

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?

SHORTLIST - we had a ridiculously long shortlist due to the stellar quality of the entries, but after some discussion, this is the list we sent Nick.

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)))



Congratulations Pat!

Nick said: 

"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!"

Pat, please link the badge to your story and post it on your blog!




Congratulations Elephant's Child!

Nick said: 

"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."

Elephant's Child, please link the badge to your story and post it on your blog!




goes to:

Congratulations Toi!

Nick said: 

"A chilling tale of abuse. I loved the diary format - it allowed you to feel the buildup of events, kind of a 'dripping tap' effect. Glad there was a hopeful ending to this one."

Please link the badge to your story and post it on your blog!



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!
Here are our top commenter contenders! 

Six people (not counting the admin or Elephant's Child who counted this time) commented on every or virtually every post.

Pat Garcia.
Jemi Fraser
Roland Clark
Christopher Scott
Hilary Melton-Butcher

All of these individuals are deserving, but alas, only one can receive the award!

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!


Check out ideas from the WEP 2019 Challenges Page for the next prompt.

I'm intrigued. Are you?

Thank you all!

We'd love if you'd Tweet this post or share to Facebook or your favorite social media site.

#WEPFF Caged Bird winners announced. @DeniseCCovey @theIWSG #amwriting #flashfiction

Come congratulate our first place winner. #WEPFF Caged Bird Challenge @DeniseCCovey @theIWSG #amwriting #flashfiction

The #WEPFF writers are all winners! @DeniseCCovey @theIWSG #amwriting #flashfiction

When you give the #WEPFF challenge a spin you could be the next to win! @DeniseCCovey @theIWSG #amwriting #flashfiction


  1. Thank you. On so many levels. I love that the proposed changes have been wound back, and am endlessly grateful to the administrators for the hard work they put in to making this a supportive and welcoming challenge. I am also very, very happy to learn that some of that burden is being eased for you guys.
    And huge thanks to all the participants. Writers enrich my world.

    1. Thank you EC...and you enrich ours with your dedication.

    2. Thank you for being such an important part of WEP!

  2. This challenge has tested, and proved, what this community is all about. It's a reboot and that's always good in the long run. So glad that you decided to get back, Denise.

    Congratulations to all the winners, the entries were exceptionally superb this round. Kudos to all shortlisted.

    1. Thank you Nila. Your support has been stupendous. Can't imagine why I though I could leave. I like the expression of 'reboot'.

  3. Congratulations to all the winners! There were so many great stories, I don't envy those who had to pick (apropos of which... thank you so much to our leaders who are putting in the time and effort to make this a great hop and a great group!).

    1. Thank you Rebecca. We all believe strongly in WEP and would hate to see it anything but a strong online writing community. Thanks for your support even while traveling the globe. This is why we love it so much.

    2. It was definitely a difficult task!

  4. Thanks Denise and all admin WEPers, Nick and EC ... for all the work you put in - setting the WEP up, counting, reading, re-reading, re-reading (in my day there were only 3 Rs?!) ... and all the admin. I'm pleased things have been rolled back and you and we continue on. I'm quite enjoying the challenges ... I don't fully comply - but I 'writes mi storees' ... take care and thanks so much - I'll be over (later on) to congratulate the winners. Cheers and thanks so much to one and all - Hilary

    1. Thank you for your support Hilary...never mind about compliance :) but seriously, there is only the wordcount... I always enjoy reading your unique and informative take on the prompts.

    2. We're always happy to read your entries! Thanks for joining in and helping make WEP a success!

  5. Good Morning out of Europe!
    Congrats to all the winners and a special congrats to Pat H for his first place entry. I enjoyed reading his story because it left an open-end question that intrigued me.
    All of the stories were great entries though. This is what I love about the WEP. It is always a stepping stone to learning, improving, and putting our best foot forward.
    And thanks for the comment badge. I'm going to sport it on my blogs.
    Shalom aleichem,
    Pat G

    1. That's the main attraction of WEP...always something new to learn..thank you for all your support for this community. And congrats on the badge!

  6. Thanks for the win! Congrats to Toi and Elephants Child too. Always a bit of growing pains as things get older, but good that it will continue on and that there will be a lighter load for all. Makes things better and more enjoyable that way.

    1. Congratulations on your win and a super compelling flash!

    2. You deserved it! Thanks for sharing your piece with us!

  7. Congrats to Pat, Sue, & Toi!!! Well deserved!!
    Eek on the comments though - that makes me sad. I rarely read comments others post so I didn't notice this. I hope Cie continues with WEP as it has always been a postivie experience for me.
    If you need a comment counter any month, please let me know. I'd be more than happy to do that!

    1. You're on, Jemi. Thank you!

    2. Thank you for the offer of counting. This was the first time that comments got so unhelpful, and hopefully the last!

    3. Thanks for the offer! We appreciate your support!

  8. Congratulations to all the winners! There were so many excellent entries!

  9. Congratulations to all the winners.

  10. Congratulations to all the winners, including Pat with her truths. With so many excellent contributions from talented writers, I don't envy those who had to select winners but congratulate them too. As for August, I'm developing a taste for blood - and rabbit holes.

    1. It's always tough arriving at the winners - too many great stories. I'm super intrigued by your developing Aug flash, can't wait to read!

    2. OOOO OOOO Roland. (((licks lips)))

  11. Congratulations to Pat! Well deserved!
    I wrote a post thanking the WEP team for the prompt which helped me create the (contentious) first chapter of my newly published book. Mindlovemisery's Menagerie's Bloody Carnival prompt helped me create the final chapter.
    The book is currently in the Kindle Queue but should be unleashed on the world soon.
    I honestly thought that my piece was a simple character study that wouldn't garner more than the odd "interesting story" type of comment. I quite hope that folks take your words to heart and don't do to anyone else what they did to me. In fairness, there were a lot of people who were supportive, and to those of you in that group, I say thank you.
    Here is my Thank You post for the prompt which helped me create my latest book. It wouldn't have been the same without you!

    1. Thanks Cie. I’m glad some good came of the controversy.

    2. That's great the challenge is contributing to a book. All the very best.

  12. A huge congratulations to the winners! You're awesome.

    As for "commented on every or virtually every post" -- I was sure I had done that. When I click a link here, the link changes colors. All the links had changed colors. Also, I went in order, so I'm sure I hit all of them. And the Operation Awesome Team split up commenting duties. But we chatted with each other to make certain that everyone on the list was visited. I'm not sure how we're not on the list of people who commented everywhere. I'm willing to share screenshots of my Internet history to get to the bottom of what I missed. (Though, based on the above summaries, I didn't miss any, because I remember all of those.) I'm not aiming for a badge or anything, I'm just curious what's causing some comments to not show up. The first step being figuring out which blogs didn't get my comments, and which didn't get comments from the Operation Awesome Team. (And see if the blogs I hit from team OA are also the ones where my own comments didn't appear. See if there's a correlation there.) My tone here is "detective" mode, not anger or something.

    1. Hello Detective J lenni Dorner. Unless it's a matter of finishing reading well after the comments had been counted (last Friday) there were problems with comments on some sites.Notably Kalpanaa's and someone commented they couldn't leave a comment on yours. There was more of this this time than in the past. Nevertheless, thank you for reading all entries. Perhaps next challenge we'll extend the reading time before counting comments.

    2. The internet elves certainly vanished more comments on this challenge than any other in recent memory.

    3. Thank you for your diligence! There were certainly more comment related issues than normal this time.

    4. Yeah, I swear I commented on some and then I went back to a few and looked and nadda. Weird.

    5. There's nothing in my spam or trash folder. I kept a close eye on it. Very odd.

      I do know that there have been outages on major sites lately. (Facebook, Twitter, Gmail, etc). Maybe whatever is going on there is related?

      If I'm gonna play detective, I'm gonna go full on Sherlock. ;)
      Rounding times of comments left. Eastern time zone. EST/ EDT.

      L.G. Keltner - Fri, June 21 1 am
      Dixie - Fri, June 21 1:15 am
      Susan B - Sat, June 22 3:50 am
      Team Netherworld - Fri, June 21 3 am
      Christopher Scott - Fri, June 21 1:30 am
      Nancy Williams - Sat, June 22 3:55 am
      Roland Clark - Fri, June 21 2:20 am
      Elephant's Child - Fri, June 21 2:55 am
      Denise Covey - Fri, June 21 2:40 am
      Lissa - Fri, June 21 3:15 am
      Roland Yeomans - Fri, June 21 3:07 am
      Jemi Fraser - Fri, June 21 3:20 am
      Jamie - Fri, June 21 3:25 am
      Olga Godim - Fri, June 21 3:30 am
      Pat Garcia - Fri, June 21 3:40 am
      Rebecca M Douglass - Fri, June 21 3:50 am
      Sally - Fri, June 21 3:55 am
      Hilary - Fri, June 21 3:40 pm
      Toi Thomas - Fri, June 21 4:10 pm
      Beth Camp - Fri, June 21 4:15 pm
      Kalpana - Fri, June 21 4:20 pm
      Nilanjana Bose - Fri, June 21 4:25 pm
      Pat Hatt - Fri, June 21 4:45 pm
      Jemima Pett - Sat, June 22 2:10 am
      J Lenni Dorner (my own blog)
      Operation Awesome - Sat, June 16 9:30 pm
      Tyrean Martinson - Sat, June 22 4:05 am
      Carrie Ann G - Sat, June 22 4:15 am
      Carrie-Anne - Sat, June 22 4:20 am
      Bernadette Braganza - Sat, June 22 4:25 am

      This is why I'm so very curious as to what happened, and how to prevent it in the future. (If that's possible?)
      Plus, it sounds like a post for the A to Z Challenge site, if I can get to the bottom of it.
      “The game is afoot.” ― Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, Adventure of the Abbey Grange

    6. I am sorry. You did get there - but not before the cut-off time for counting comments - which was Friday in Australia. I closed the count so that Olga could make the badges.

    7. Ah, so it was just a different date? Okay. I thought perhaps there was a bigger blog problem that needed solving. A mystery to unravel. Well, glad that's solved.

  13. Congratulations to Pat Hatt!! And Elephants Child, Toi, and Pat Garcia. No surprise that Pat was a great commenter. She is always uplifting.

    1. We love her positivity too, always cheers me up.

  14. Congrats to all the winners :)

    PS: Am looking forward to next month and wouldn't mind helping out.

    1. Thank you for the offer, we appreciate it truly. We will let you know how/where you can help in August.

    2. Thanks offering Bernadette. We’ll find something for you to do for sure.

  15. Okay, so I think I'm back online now. Sorry not to have made many comments, but actually glad I didn't, given the furore noted above.
    I'm not going to comment on stories I don't feel I'm able to read, so I'll never give comments on all of them. My choice reflects the variety of styles and themes our WEP writers go for, and that it's many and varied is a good thing.

    1. Not sure I understand the inability to read any story...variety is great, both reading and writing.

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