Author Archives: Norah

About Norah

Early childhood educator and resource developer.

Out of time flashfiction spooky campfire

Out of Time #flashfiction

This week at the Carrot Ranch, Charli Mills challenged writers to In 99 words (no more, no less), write a spooky tale told around a campfire. It doesn’t have to include the campfire; it can be the tale. Go where the prompt leads!

I’m not overly familiar with campfires, and spooky tales are not a favourite genre. I remember a few stories about apparitions from my childhood and they gave me nightmares for a long time. I am pleased to be unlike Cole Sear in the Sixth Sense in that I am unable to see dead people. A few times when I thought I might, it totally freaked me out.

Additionally, there aren’t many spooky picture books, so as a teacher of young children I was not exposed to a great many spooky stories. There are the Funnybones stories by Allan and Janet Ahlberg which are delightfully humorous and not at all scary and, of course, Casper is a friendly ghost.

Needless to say, I hadn’t ever tried to write a spooky story, so Charli’s prompt raised the possibility as a now or never event. Here’s my attempt. I hope it works, even just a little bit.

Out of Time

Darkness fell as Martin hastened home. He hated passing the cemetery, especially at Halloween. Sometimes he crossed the road, but this night he was out of time. Hairs on his arms prickled and shudders crept up his spine as he passed the open gate. A light flickered inside. He tried to not look, to not be drawn by the group gathered around a campfire, beckoning, ‘Join us.’ Martin hunched further into his jacket. ‘Next year then?’ Their ghoulish laughter chased him down the street into the path of a speeding car.

‘Back so soon. Couldn’t wait? Mwahaha!’ they chorused.

Thank you blog post

Thank you for reading. I appreciate your comments. Please share your thoughts.

Carrot Ranch TUFF flash fiction contest week 4

TUFF Flash Fiction Contest Part Four

Coming ready or not!
Here’s the fourth and final part of the Carrot Ranch 2020 Rodeo TUFF contest. How are you going with your story? There’s still time to complete all stages if you’re not done yet.
Good luck, writers!

Carrot Ranch Literary Community

Did you stay in the saddle for the full ride? Or are you here to slide under the fence, last minute? Either way, Rodeo Writers, you’ve TUFFed it out and we have arrived at our final challenge.

TUFF (The Ultimate Flash Fiction) is a progressive form that takes you from draft to revision through several word reductions — 99, 59, 9, 99. Each step has had a twist along the way as the TUFF contest has unfolded:

The final twist in the contest involves an additional trope. The first draft included the tropes for western and romance. Tropes are elements that define a genre or theme. In this contest, we have used tropes as themes. Now, we will add a final trope as a prop.

PART FOUR TWIST

A prop can be gold in…

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Elizabeth Cummings discusses the Sweetest Lollipop Lady in the World

Elizabeth Cummings discusses The Sweetest Lollipop Lady in the World – #readilearn

Today we are talking with Elizabeth Cummings about The Sweetest Lollipop Lady in the World from the Verityville series. This interview is part of a Books on Tour promotion.

I previously introduced you to Elizabeth when I interviewed her about her heart-warming picture book The Forever Kid.

About Elizabeth Cummings

Elizabeth Mary Cummings was born in Manchester, educated in Scotland and has lived in Australia and New Zealand for many years. Starting her professional life as a primary school teacher, Elizabeth’s teaching career has taken her into many different roles, including teaching in both the public and independent sectors, working with refuges, special needs and foreign language teaching. When she moved to Australia in 2008 Elizabeth developed and ran a successful language business before releasing her first picture book in 2015 (The Disappearing Sister- a sibling’s account of anorexia nervosa). Her stories often take a child’s perspective to explain the world and reflect on important life experiences including themes of resilience, grief, equality, the natural environment, kindness, empowerment, anti-bullying and mental health. Elizabeth set up her independent publishing company in 2015 and is also published by Big Sky Publishing.

About the Verityville series

Have you wondered about what other people do? The ordinary, everyday people – the people that make our lives the way they are, those who help us, care for us, look after our town and do the little things that make a difference to our lives. Have you ever caught a little glimpse of their little routines or the daily habits? Have you ever wondered what it would be like to be them?

In Verityville there are many amazing folk, all going about their daily business, making the town what it is. Their work and their efforts make Verityville a marvellous place to be, full of wonder, friendship and adventure!

Come take a trip to Verityville and meet some of the wonderful people who live and work there!

Little tales for little folk about real life in a veritably fabulous place…Verityville.

About The Sweetest Lollipop Lady in the World

Continue reading: Elizabeth Cummings discusses The Sweetest Lollipop Lady in the World – readilearn

Git Along an’ Start Writin’

This is the third of the Carrot Ranch 2020 rodeo weekly contest, and what a wonderful contest it is, designed by the lovely Marsha Ingrao. I am honoured to be one of her judges and look forward to reading your stories.
If you’re not sure about how to write a three act story, the video by Kurt Vonnegut that Marsha has included in her post could not make it any more clear.
Good luck, writers!

Marsha Ingrao - Always Write

Carrot Ranch Rodeo Contest 2020

Rodeo #3: Three-ActStory

We live for stories, and as writers, we craft them in the written word. A story is about Something (plot) that happens to Someone (characters), Somewhere (setting). Even if it is only 99 words long.

Crafting the Story

Act I, the beginning, the story rises. If a story is about someone, we have to feel something for that character. When we care what happens next for or to this Someone, we come to the middle.

Act II shifts to fear, according to the Greeks. We can interpret this as the emotion that drives the writer and reader to worry about what happens next. Or be curious about what comes next. The driving emotion doesn’t have to be fear, but the middle holds an important shift or build-up of tension or expectation. The story is in motion.

Act III is when that motion…

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Carrot Ranch Tuff writing contest

TUFF Flash Fiction Contest Part Three

Part three of the Carrot Ranch 2020 Rodeo TUFF contest is now underway. Time to sharpen those pens again. Good luck everyone!

Carrot Ranch Literary Community

How are you doing TUFF rodeo writers?

You should be familiar with your 99-word story by now (Part One), and hopefully, you have spent some time exploring your story from different points of view (Part Two). TUFF is The Ultimate Flash Fiction and those of you daring enough to enter this progressive contest are spending a month on a single story taking it from draft to revision.

Part Three is your final tool in the process. It’s the tightest word reduction of your story: 9 words. That’s not a typo. The word count isn’t missing a double-digit. It’s nine words that you can count on your hands, presuming you didn’t lose any fingers riding bulls at your last rodeo.

Why so few words? This is a tool to arrive at the heart of your story. It’s the hook to interest a reader. Think of taglines from…

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Chores flash fiction

Chores #flashfiction

A discussion about whether children should be expected to complete set chores is always peppered with a variety of viewpoints.

I don’t remember having set chores when I was growing up, but there was always the expectation that we kids (ten of us) would do a bit to help out. Some of the tasks included sweeping, doing the dishes, hanging out or bringing in the washing, going to the shops for items such as bread and milk, selling the produce from Dad’s vegetable garden around the neighbourhood or looking after the younger siblings.

Some of the chores were more enjoyable than others and, I must admit, I was often chore-deaf when I was reading a book, which was most of the time. I must also admit that I didn’t always complete the chores to Mum’s satisfaction, particularly sweeping. I don’t know why but I just couldn’t seem to sweep up all the dirt. She would often say that I had given it a ‘lick and a promise’. I probably thought, but never aloud (hopefully), that maybe if she wanted it done well, then she should perhaps do it herself.

I must also admit that some things never change. I am still not fond of housework and would rather be reading or writing than sweeping (or vacuuming and mopping) anytime, and often as I complete (I use this word lightly) these chores, I am reminded of Mum’s words. Next time, I think. Next time.

This week at the Carrot Ranch, Charli Mills challenged writers to In 99 words (no more, no less), write a story about chores. It doesn’t have to be a western ranch chore; it can be any routine task. Go where the prompt leads!

I, of course, have gone with the lick and a promise of a BOTS (fiction based on a true story). However, before I share my story, I’d like to share with you another post I recently read that has some relevance to the topic.

In his post Extrinsic Rewards Reduce Intrinsic Motivation: Using Psychology to Pick Up More Followers, Jim Borden discussed the suggestion that inferior work is submitted when extrinsic rewards such as stars, grades, payment or other rewards are given.

Jim wondered (not really seriously) if we should ‘pay’ children to not do the things they don’t like doing; for example (if I’ve understood him correctly), I could have been paid to not sweep. Because, if I was being paid to not sweep, my dislike of not sweeping would increase. If the payment was gradually reduced, then removed altogether, perhaps I would so much want to sweep (the opposite of what I was being paid for) I wouldn’t be able to help myself. Since I wasn’t ever paid to sweep (at home – there was no pocket money), I am unable to even consider the difference it may have made. (You might want to read Jim’s post to untangle my faulty thinking from his.)

I’m not sure it would work, but if anyone wanted to pay me to not do housework to test this theory, I’d certainly be willing to give it a try.

Anyway, here’s my story, in memory of my Mum whose words continue to influence my thinking if not my actions.

A Lick and A Promise

Lisa dropped her bag, discarded her shoes, and darted down the hall.

“Where are you off to, miss?” called her mother.

“Read.”

“You’ve got chores first.”

“Did them this morning.”

“Did them? Ha! Was no more than a lick and a promise.”

“But, Mum. I’m up to the last chapter.”

“No buts. You’ll do your chores before anything else.”

Lisa muttered as she stomped to the broom closet.

“And don’t give me any more of that lip or you’ll be reading on the other side of your face for a week.”

When I’m an adult … Lisa promised herself.

Thank you blog post

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Carrot RODEO #2: DOUBLE ENNEAD SYLLABIC POETRY

And here’s the second contest in the 2020 Carrot Ranch Rodeo. If you like a challenge – particulalry of the poetic form – then this one’s for you! Rustle on over to Colleen’s blog for all the details.

Word Craft ~ Prose & Poetry

Welcome to the Carrot Ranch Rodeo! This challenge is sponsored by the Carrot Ranch Literary Community at carrotranch.com and run by lead Buckaroo, Charli Mills.

Almost everyone knows my love for syllabic poetry; especially haiku, tanka, cinquain, and more. Woo HOO! I’ve got something special wrangled up for this challenge!

For this year’s rodeo, I’ve created a special form called the Double Ennead. The word Ennead means nine, and a double nine is ninety-nine! Carrot Ranch is famous for 99-word flash fiction. Now, the ranch has its own syllabic poetry form written in 99 syllables!

The Double Ennead comprises five lines with a syllable count of 6/5/11/6/5, (33 SYLLABLES per stanza) 3 STANZAS EACH = 99 SYLLABLES, NO MORE, NO LESS!

The Carrot Ranch Double Ennead

Carrot Ranch Rodeo is calling all poets round up all the word players, now's the time to ride let's wrangle syllables and build…

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Tell 'Em They're Dreaming anthology of ballads and stories for children

Tell ’em They’re Dreaming — Available for Pre-Order – Readilearn

Frequently on the blog, I bring you interviews with authors or news of new picture books. Today, I am delighted to let you know of a new anthology that is now available for pre-order. It will be available for purchase on 1 November and will make a special Christmas gift, or anytime gift, for children up to twelve years of age. I am extra-delighted about this one because one of my stories is included in it.

About the anthology

Tell ’em They’re Dreaming is an anthology of Bedtime Ballads and Tall Tales from the Australian Bush, published by Share Your Story under the leadership of Australian author Michelle Worthington. I previously introduced Michelle to you in an interview about her picture book Super Nicholas.

The 36 poems, stories and ballads were selected from submissions to a competition conducted earlier this year.

The clever prologue by David Perkins Forgetting How the Banjo Works is a fitting introduction to the stories and poems to follow. A tongue-in-cheek poetic tribute to the poetry of one of Australia’s most famous bush balladeers Banjo Paterson, it is fun, funny and perfectly captures the spirit of Australian ballads and the Australian ability to laugh at ourselves.

In addition to my ballad about a bully bullfrog, the anthology contains works by other authors I have interviewed, including Marg Gibbs and Karen Hendricks as well as Michelle Worthington,

It also has stories by other already-published authors including:

Belinda Meredith

Kayt Duncan

Christine Crawford

Dannielle Viera

Maura Pierlot, and

Sandra Bennett

and many other wonderful writers too.

A Sneak Peek

Here are a few of the titles to whet your appetite:

Continue reading: Tell ’em They’re Dreaming — Available for Pre-Order – Readilearn

Carrot Ranch flash fiction TUFF part 2

TUFF Flash Fiction Contest Part Two

And the TUFF Carrot Ranch contest continues …
Have you already written your first draft 99-word flash fiction? If not, there’s still time. And now Charli presents us with the second part of the TUFF contest – to write two 59-word reductions, each from a different POV. Pop over to the Carrot Ranch to find out more.

Carrot Ranch Literary Community

Welcome back TUFF, rodeo writers!

By now, you’ve figured out you have an entire month to work on your flash fiction entry to TUFF (The Ultimate Flash Fiction). That might lull you into complacency. It might tempt you to disregard the contest until the very end (October 26 when the submission form goes live with the final part). Let me convince you otherwise.

Mastering TUFF in its flash fiction form teaches you the skills every fiction writer needs. We all have to draft and we all have to revise. TUFF can be a tool to work on your story with progressive word constraints.

Last week, in TUFF Part One, you drafted a 99-word story. Do. Not. Touch. It. A raw draft is a raw draft. Let it be. What comes next are the tools of your writing craft. Use the next two constraints to revise your final 99-word story…

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Kid Gloves flash fiction

Kid Gloves #flashfiction

When I was a little kid (of the human kind — I kid you not), one of the stories I most disliked was The Wolf and the Seven Little Kids.

In case you have forgotten, the story told of a wolf who came a-knocking when Mother Goat was out. He used a variety of cunning tricks to entice the kids to open the door and let him in.

The things I didn’t like about the story were many and include:

  • that the mother goat left the kids at home on their own
  • the tricks that the wolf used
  • that the kids were tricked into letting him in
  • that the wolf ate the kids
  • that the mother goat cut the wolf open
  • that when the mother goat cut the wolf open, the kids popped out alive and well (what an awful experience)
  • that the goats filled the wolf’s stomach with stones and he drowned in the well.

Overall, I found the story very distressing and mean. Even then I preferred themes of kindness in my stories as much as in the world.

According to the original Grimm’s story, food was all the wolf was after, but is it possible he had another scheme in mind?

This week at the Carrot Ranch, Charli Mills challenged writers to In 99 words (no more, no less), write a story that includes kid gloves. A prop in the hands of a character should further the story. Why the gloves? Who is that in the photo, and did he steal Kids’ gloves (of the Kid and Pal duo)? Consider different uses of the phrase, too. Go where the prompt leads!

Perhaps you already know where I’m going with this.

Kid Gloves for Sale

Wolf covered his sinister smile with a pleasant facade as he organised a stall between Little Red Hen’s Home-Made Bread and Pig Brothers’ Home Improvements. Dinner could wait. He was hoping for a killing of another kind — monetary — selling his home-made kid gloves.

When an unlikely pair of cowpokes enquired about the origins of his leather, he was evasive. When asked his whereabout the previous week, he attempted to flee; but the recently deputised Pal and Kid were too fast and snapped on the hand cuffs. “We arrest you for the disappearance and suspected murder of seven little kids.”

Thank you blog post

Thank you for reading. I appreciate your feedback. Please share your thoughts.