Friday 18 December 2020

#WEP signs off for 2020! See you in the New Year!

 Hello friends!

This is just a quick post to thank those of you who posted for UNMASKED. So glad you did. The quality was exceptional, as always. Even though there were no prizes, we hope you enjoyed writing and reading for the unstructured December challenge.

So, a big thank you all for writing for us in 2020!

A big thank you for your reading of entries!

A big thank you for your ongoing support during the trials and tribulations of 2020!

Even if you've never won a prize for your writing at WEP, press on. Improve. Polish. Format. Proofread. It's good practice for submitting to agents and editors out there who love a flawless piece of writing, that has a hooky story!

If you want to read UNMASKED entries, here are the links:

Toi Thomas – It's Been So Long

Hilary Melton-Butcher's – The Cake

The Ornery Owl – Unmasked Undead

Nilanjana Bose – Masks

Jemima Pett – Unmasked

Bernadette Braganza – Unmaking the Criminal

Rebecca M Douglass – Masked

Donna Hanton – Unmasked

Roland Clarke – Unmasked - Seascapes

Sanhita Mukherjee – Mary Huxley and the Truth

Susan Rouchard - Redemption

Denise Covey – Pierrot, the Fool. (Unmasked in Venice)

Olga Godim – Unmasked

Yolanda Renee – Unmasked on New Year's Eve

Badge by Olga Godim

We're so looking forward to our first of the arty prompts in February 2021! How about you? Can't wait to see what you do with THE KISS!

Tuesday 1 December 2020


Welcome to Challenges 2021

 Year 2020 has been rough, the entire world convulsed with the pandemic, climate disasters, economic meltdowns and toxic politics. As the WEP team came together to brainstorm for the directions we take in 2021, we thought our writing prompts must reflect these real world issues we are all going through. And after the runaway success of the February 2020 prompt based on Vincent van Gogh’s Café Terrace at Night, it was a no-brainer to extend that to this year. So we reached into and drew from world art, at once inspirational, evocative and comforting. Each one worth a thousand words ... neat!

First, a big round of applause for Olga Godim, our in-house badge designer par excellence, who has drawn up another set of sumptuous badges in consultation with the team for display on our sidebars. Post the annual badge on your blog and let's get writing!

And a huge THANK YOU FOR Nila - the words accompanying these badges are all hers!

February - celebrate...with some sumptuous art!

What could be more appropriate for Valentine month than Gustav Klimt’s  The Kiss?

This shimmery, early 20th century painting of a couple embracing in a patch of wildflowers has riveted art aficionados  across the world for decades.

Gustav (1862-1918) was an Austrian painter, a prominent member of the Vienna Secessionist movement. He is well known for his murals, paintings, and other object d’art.  

The Kiss is one of his later, critically acclaimed works from what is known as his ‘Golden Phase,’ characterised by the use of gold leaf and exuberant, geometric patterns. Read more about Klimt here.

Use this amazing painting to kick off  a romantic love story of star crossed lovers. Or maybe a much married pair who’ve been together for years. Of unrequited or lost love. Or any love of the other gazillion types.

For un-Valentinish souls, remember that there are kisses other than romantic ones.  The kiss of life, the kiss of death, the kiss of betrayal, the angel's kiss in spring. The mystical thousand ways of kneeling and kissing the ground.

One golden artwork, a zillion directions to go. Pick yours and run with it. We’re cheering for you. And can't wait to see what you come up with!


Freedom Morning is a watercolour by Claude Clark, the African American artist and art educator, painted in 1941.

As a child in the churches, the schools and the community, I dreamed of a destiny. My search became a single purpose for the dignity of Black Americans.”

Claude Clark was born in Georgia in 1915. His art characterises the African American diaspora experience. He faced prejudice, poverty and racism but did not allow these to deter him. He mixed his own paints from the trashed tubes in art schools. When he could not afford the expensive brushes and cleaning agents, he developed his unique technique with the palette knife. Read more about his remarkable life here.

The interpretation of art (and prompts!) is in the eye of the beholder and this artwork is rich with possibilities.

Will you let Freedom Morning spark a flash of hope for a systematically suppressed character?

Will someone break free - of chains, of the past, of a closed mindset - after years of living with them?

Or maybe someone will watch a brand new sunrise and come to a decision to start life afresh? Rise to a challenge?  :)  Overcome a hardship?

Take the artwork as a whole or in part and seed that into imagination. Your canvas is unlimited.


The Great Wave is an iconic work created in the 1820’s by Hokusai. Katsushika Hokusai (1760-1849)  was a  Japanese artist from the Edo period. He was a master of Ukiyo-e, a genre of woodblock prints and paintings very popular at the time in his country. Ukiyo-e translates loosely as ‘images of the floating world.’ The Great Wave off Kanagawa, also condensed to The Great Wave, is part of a series called Thirty-six views of Mount Fuji, is Hokusai’s most well-known work. Have a peek at the series here. And read more about Hokusai here.  

The immediate response to this prompt could be to relate it to the tsunami of 2004 or the Japanese nuclear disaster. It is a small step from there to jump to the climate issues  we are facing round the world, the unprecedented weather patterns and natural disasters small and large.

But a great wave need not be always of water – it can be a great wave of refugees. And of soldiers. Or protesters and last but not the least, voters.

Equally a great wave of an emotion – pain, love, bitterness, rage, nausea, which one will your characters feel?

It could even be a small wave, we'll leave the size up to you – the wave of a hand, the flutter of a flag. Or cravat/tie.

So many places to float away to, which one will you choose with this prompt?


Norman Rockwell was an American artist and illustrator, widely known for his illustrations for the Saturday Evening Post. This particular artwork – The Freedom of Speech, was created as a part of a series called The Four Freedoms based on a wartime speech given by FDR. The painting depicts a young, working class man standing up and expounding his ideas to a group of older, white-collar men. It was inspired by Rockwell’s visit to a town meeting where a man rose to voice an unpopular view. Read more about the Four Freedoms and explore Norman’s other works here. 

This prompt has rich possibilities. Particularly topical as authorities have veered towards authoritarianism and people across the world have exploded in unrest. 

Books have been banned and burnt, film shows have been mobbed by fundamentalists, newspapers/editors have been gagged, cartoonists have been shot dead,  journalists and activists jailed or killed for voicing ideas, questioning authority and informing the public. Controversies on the role of  social media and internet have further muddied the waters. 

On the other hand, there have been fearless voices rising and speaking out. From celebrities like Meryl Streep and Greta Thunberg to lesser known but equally important local citizens and activists. 

But, just as the young man in Norman’s immortal work, your interpretation need not have the huge sweep or weight of world affairs. 

It can equally be a small town teenager speaking up against a bully, a young woman rising to defend a project idea to her employer, a marginalised community representative finding a spot on the local radio station. 

Even a writer fighting a proposed cut by their editors - yes, you can go meta!  ‘A million ways to be, you know that there are!’ :) 


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.


This one depicts a classic subject by an Italian Master and needs no introduction. Narcissus is a well known character from Greek mythology – his story has been repurposed and retold through the ages. Caravaggio was one of the prime movers of the Italian art scene of the 16th/17th century and a good few of his artworks are based on the classics. He was a controversial figure in his lifetime, but has come to be recognised as an artist with far reaching influence on modern painting. He was a master of chiaroscuro and developed the use of shadows in art.

This particular painting can be interpreted many ways – will you update Narcissus’ story to fit  a modern timeline?

Or retell it from a different angle/POV,  perhaps a Narcissa instead?

Explore the mental disorder that is known after Narcissus and its impact on caregivers/physicians/family?

Or perhaps go in a different direction entirely -  make Narcissus quite incidental to the story – maybe the painting is only a prop in the setting?

Remember there is no right or wrong interpretation, you can make the prompt front and centre of your entry. Or not. Totally your call. Think out of the box, or rather, frame – and delight us with yours.

Happy writing!

There you have it folks! Inspiration for the New Year!

PLEASE share this page with your friends on Facebook, Twitter, on your blog and anywhere else you hang out!  Here is the link to the Challenges Page of the Menu. 


If you posted your story UNMASKED despite the lack of a formal challenge, please let us know in the comments with a link! We'll come by and applaud you! REMEMBER: Post any day in December!

So far this December we've had posts by:

Toi Thomas – It's Been So Long

Hilary Melton-Butcher's – The Cake

The Ornery Owl – Unmasked Undead

Nilanjana Bose – Masks

Jemima Pett – Unmasked

Bernadette Braganza – Unmasking the Criminal

Rebecca M Douglass – Masked

Donna Hanton – Unmasked

Roland Clarke – Unmasked

Sanhita Mukherjee – Mary Huxley and the Truth

Susan Bouchard - Redemption

Denis Covey – Pierrot, the Fool. (Unmasked in Venice)

Olga Godim – Unmasked

Yolanda Renee – Unmasked on New Year's Eve

If I've missed anyone, let me know!


Please Share the Inspiration!

#WEP Announces the Inspiration for the 2021 Challenges


Wishing Everyone a 

safe month of Holidays (keep your distance!)


An Inspirational New Year!


Thanks for your support in 2020!

Photo by Andreas Dress on Unsplash

Monday 23 November 2020

#WEPff #WINNER of the October Challenge GRAVE MISTAKE! Rebecca Douglass' guest post Writing Through My Grief


Hi, Renée here:

 October's winner for the WEP challenge, GRAVE MISTAKE, Rebecca Douglass, guests for us today. Her winning entry was humorous and fun. Just what we needed after such a crazy year.

 Congratulations Rebecca. Thank you for writing such an inspiring guest post.

Photo by Jarl Schmidt on Unsplash

Writing Through My Grief

 It may be a little strange that someone who mostly writes humorous stories, and is being honored for a story that made people laugh, is here to write about grief, but here I am, trying to explain the inexplicable.

 Many of you know that my husband of 26 years was killed in a cycling accident in May. That the accident profoundly changed every aspect of my life is an understatement. It affected my writing in ways large and small, putting a complete halt to it at times, while at others writing has been an anchor to help me through this horrible time.

 Everything from washing the dishes to raking the leaves felt changed by the accident, so why should writing be any different? A hole in one’s chest does make it harder to write. Because what I mostly write is humor, it felt like an extra burden sometimes. Was it right, or even possible, to keep writing goofy stories between grief bursts? And yet I knew I couldn’t stop writing, and writing light feels a great deal safer right now than writing dark.

 For several weeks after the accident, I didn’t write anything but the most personal of journal entries and kept looking at the heap of my current manuscript as though it was a creature from outer space—beyond comprehension and a little scary. I wasn’t even sure if I could, or should laugh. A friend straightened me out about that, reminding me that this loss doesn’t change who I am, and who I am is a person who sees the absurdity of life all around me, even at inopportune moments.

 The call for entries for the IWSG anthology gave me a reason to start to write fiction again. Over the course of the next couple of months, I wrote my story, one sentence at a time. On a good day, I got two sentences. I had no idea if that would lead to a story that was worth submitting (I still don’t, though I submitted the story), but that wasn’t the point. The point was to prove to myself that, broken though I was, I was still a writer. The point was to hear the voices in my head again, the ones that were wholly fiction.

 Eventually, I was able to write whole paragraphs at a time, and the story was completed. The true miracle, though, was that when the story was finished, I picked up my novel and began to edit again. To my amazement, it felt good. And I was able to write the funny bits, find the humor in the situations I dumped the main character into, and make progress, albeit slowly. Again, I made the commitment to work for at least a minute or two every day.

 Yes, you read that right: a minute or two. For me, that has been the key: writing or editing every day, giving myself purpose, but limiting my expectations. Writing under some difficult circumstances (by headlamp in a campsite cold enough to need a down jacket and gloves!) seems to have helped all the more. I’ve lost my anchor in the biggest sense, but writing has managed to endure. I am deeply grateful for the gift that is creativity, and for the community of writers who have helped me hang onto it.

I’m not who I was in April, but I am still a writer.


Thanks so much for your inspiring post, Rebecca. And congratulations again on your win for GRAVE MISTAKE.

The 4th book in Rebbeca's Pismawallops PTA Mystery Series: 

Death by Library

 You can find anything at your local library… even a corpse?

When things turn deadly in the library stacks, JJ needs some answers fast, before she loses her job—or her life. She’s determined to learn everything about the victim, and for once the library doesn’t hold all the answers. JJ and Kitty may have to face the ultimate peril: a visit to Mrs. Halsey, the oldest—and crankiest—person on the island.


Smashwords (all ebook formats)

Barnes & Noble

Apple Books


After a lifetime of reading, and a decade or more of slinging books at the library and herding cats with the PTA, Rebecca began to turn her experiences into books of her own, publishing her first in 2012. That failed to quiet the voices in her head, but seemed to entertain a number of readers, so she wrote some more, which generated still more voices. Despite the unlimited distractions provided by raising sons to the point of leaving home (and preparing to move without forwarding address if necessary to retain that empty nest), not to mention the mountains that keep calling (very hard to resist the urging of something the size of the Sierra Nevada), she has managed to pen a total of 9 books plus a novella (which we suppose makes 10).


There's been a lot of disappointment at the cancellation of the December Challenge so, if you still wish to post for the 

Challenge, UNMASKED – please do.

Then let us know in the Comments of the December 1st post with a link so we can visit. POST ANY TIME IN DECEMBER. This is an unstructured challenge - no sign up, no winners, but the usual lot of fun leading up to the end of 2020 and our anticipation for a much better 2021.

Renée for the team:

Please Share the Love! 

@RebeccaDouglass #WEPGRAVEMISTAKE  #WEPwinner #guestpost @DeniseCCovey, @YolandaRenee, @LGKeltner, @OlgaGodim #amwriting #writingchallenge

@RebeccaDouglas #WEPGRAVEMISTAKE  #WEPwinner  Writing Through My Grief #guestpost @DeniseCCovey, @YolandaRenee, @LGKeltner, @OlgaGodim #amwriting #writingchallenge 

@RebeccaDouglas #WEPGRAVEMISTAKE #WEPwinner  Writing Through My Grief #guestpost @DeniseCCovey, @YolandaRenee, @LGKeltner, @OlgaGodim #amwriting #writingchallenge

Sunday 8 November 2020


Hello everyone! Thank you for participating in the WEP October challenge GRAVE MISTAKE. You didn't disappoint. The entries were wonderful - some scary, some fun, all creative! 

If you remember, Olga reported during the challenge that she was sick and couldn't comment on entries. We are sad to report her illness is unfortunately ongoing. She hasn't yet received a diagnosis, but it all started with a bad case of pneumonia. We are all keeping her in our prayers. 

Stay strong, Olga, you've got this!

Also, after careful consideration over these last few months and because most of the WEP staff is dealing with continuing health issues, grief, and the awful stress of Covid and the toxic political atmosphere here in the U.S. ... we are canceling the December challenge. We apologize to anyone who already has their entry ready. We'll unmask UNMASKED another day, so don't despair. But we felt a longer break was needed for the team's mental health and to give everyone a Christmas break and a fresh start in 2021. 

We promise we will return for February 1's post. If anyone feels they'd like to add their energy to the team in some way, small or large, please email Denise on and we'll consider your application.  

Please keep your eyes on this site where we'll reveal our challenges for 2021. Most probably on December 1. An exciting new 2021 is coming!

Since we're still keeping things lite, there will be no blurbs again this month. But if you still haven't read the entries, just follow this Link to GRAVE MISTAKE!

It's never easy to decide on a shortlist, and this challenge was no exception. After much debate, here is the final shortlist we sent off to our judge, Nick Wilford. We've added a link for you to check them out if you didn't get to read them.

J Lenni Dorner Time Travel

 Naughty Netherworld Press-Friends from the End

 Christopher Scott- The Price of Home and Humanity

 Rebecca Douglass- The Slab

 Toi Thomas- Home Wasn’t Safe For Us 

 Carole Stolz - So Bury It 

Donna Hole Book Lover-Grave Mistake

Donna Hanton Grave Mistake

 Bernadette Braganzo  Grave Mistake

We would like to thank all of you who have made the effort to comment on all/most of the entries. That is such a crucial part of making WEP work. Though we didn't count them this time around again, we still notice and appreciate your thoughtful responses to each entry.

As you all know, the winner of each challenge receives a critique prize along with the opportunity to Guest Post here at WEP This month, Yolanda Renée, yours truly, is offering to give: 

- feedback, or a content edit on your short story, flash fiction, 


-she’ll beta read your latest WIP and give a written critique.



Congratulations, Rebecca Douglass 

Nick wrote: "Great fun. A nice touch of light humor to offset some of the heavier entries.

 Rebecca, please link the badge to your poem, The Slab, and post it on your blog. You've also won this month's fabulous critique prize! If you can't avail yourself of the prize, please email Yolanda so we can offer it to the next on the list.

Congratulations again on your fun and humor filled entry!



Congratulations, Toi Thomas for Home Wasn’t Safe For Us

Nick wrote: "Heartbreaking and a stark reflection of the times. A wake-up call."

Toi, please link the badge to your story, Home Wasn’t Safe For Us, and post it on your blog.


Congratulations Donna Hanton for Grave Mistake

Nick wrote:  "Very exciting and tense. A breath of fresh air!"

Donna, please link the badge to your story,  Grave Mistake, and post it on your blog.

We also have a special award this month. This is an award the WEP team hands out when we feel the need to acknowledge an admin member for outstanding contribution to the WEP and this time for also submitting consistent stories that just amaze.


For your outstanding artwork on all our badges, and for consistent excellence in storytelling, please accept our gratitude and this virtual bouquet.

And here is a badge, Olga, made from your intricate artwork to celebrate your mastery of your fantasy serial.

Readers if you missed Olga's posting, here are links to her imaginative and continuing serialized story of a paper mage.

Stay safe and well everyone, and here's to a super creative October!

If you're wondering how we got our badges this month, Olga sent what was needed to Denise, and her husband Geo put it all together. I think he's done a super job! Thanks Geo!

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

Read excellent entries from our WEP OCTOBER winners @DeniseCCovey @yolandarenee @LGKeltner @OlgaGodim #amwriting #flashfiction #wepwinners

#WEPFF GRAVE MISTAKE winners announced @DeniseCCovey @yolandarenee @LGKeltner @OlgaGodim #flashfiction #wepwinners 

Come congratulate our October winners. #WEPFF GRAVE MISTAKE Challenge @DeniseCCovey @yolandarenee @OlgaGodim @LGKeltner #amwriting #flashfiction #wepwinners

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

#WEPFF GRAVE MISTAKE @DeniseCCovey @yolndarenee @OlgaGodim @LGKeltner #amwriting #flashfiction #wepwinners

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