An Axe to Grind

An Axe to Grind—the Darling Axe Flash Fiction Contest

2021 Contest Results

Judging a writing contest is a privilege I take seriously, having entered so many contests over the years myself. When David sends me the shortlisted stories, I print all of them out and spread them across my kitchen table like a wonderful meal. I read them, walk away, come back, and read them again. I arrange them in a certain order, sleep on it, read them once more, and sometimes change my mind. Throughout the process I ask myself why a particular story is or isn't working for me.

Choosing the top three is never easy, but I've come to trust this process. Over time, the top three make themselves known. This year, they are:

1) Fair Warning by Sarah Collins Honenberger—a haunting story that crept up on me and held me in its grip. The author has a fine eye for detail and creates a protagonist with a convincing sense of desperation that powers her through the story.

Click here to read Fair Warning

2) Lacuna by Chris Barkley—I loved the imaginative energy of this story, the larger-than-life main character, and the premise of that all-important word that informs a life.

Click here to read Lacuna

3) You've Matched by Katie Bowers—the charming narrator of this story won my heart. There's a raw honesty to Piran that I found very authentic.

Click here to read You've Matched

Kudos to everyone who submitted their work. It was a pleasure to read so many great submissions.

—Michelle Barker, Darling Axe senior editor and award-winning author

An Axe to Grind – an annual flash fiction writing contest by Darling Axe Editing

Tell us a story in fewer than 1000 words.

First place: $700 CAD
Second place: $200 CAD
Third place: $100 CAD

All three finalists win publication on the Chopping Blog and receive complimentary access to a Darling Axe self-paced course.

Entry is $5 CAD.

Entries will be screened by David Brown, with final judging by Michelle Barker.

Deadline: March 31, 2021


A note on sincerity: some so-called editing websites host writing contests as a ruse to then up-sell contestants into paying to have their submissions edited. A shifty trick indeed! We attest that this is a legitimate annual writing contest, and if winning entries ever need some editing, we will gladly assist without charge.

Darling Axe Editing – manuscript development, professional beta reader, developmental editing, line editing, copy editing, proofreading, query letter critiquesDarling Axe Academy – online writing courses and workshops