Author Archives: Norah

About Norah

Early childhood educator and resource developer.

Out of time #flashfiction

Out of Time #flashfiction

This week at the Carrot Ranch, Charli Mills challenged writers to In 99 words (no more, no less), write a story about lost time. You can write a realistic scenario or something speculative. How does lost time impact the character of your story? Bonus points if you include a 1982 brown rubber watch Go where the prompt leads!

Time is something there never seems to be enough of, and it’s like many other things — if you don’t use it, you lose it.

One common saying is that time is wasted on the young. I don’t think it’s wasted, but I think to young people it seems infinite. It did to me anyway. I thought there was time enough for everything I wanted to achieve. I thought that, as this song from my youth said, time was on my side.

As I got older, I realised that time wasn’t infinite and that in fact, it was not only precious, it was also slipping away.

While we may not entirely be able to make up for lost time, we can always make the most of our present time.

One of my favourite quotes about time, sometimes but not correctly attributed to Einstein, is that its only purpose is to stop everything happening at once. I think this is true of events in both the past and the future. If we are unable to associate them with a date or a context, they may as well have happened or happen at the same time.

If the only time we have is now, we must enjoy it and make the best use of it we can until our time is up and there are no more ‘present’ moments.

Yesterday is history. Tomorrow is a mystery. Today is a gift, that’s why it’s called the present.

Every day we open that gift with anticipation and use its joys to create our tomorrows.

I guess I don’t need to state the obvious, that I’ve reached that stage of life where there’s more time in the past than the future. However, for as long as I have the present, I’ll be doing my best to make the most of it.

Here’s my response to Charli’s challenge. I hope you enjoy it.

Out of Time

“Time’s up!”

“Not yet! I’m not finished.”

Mallory stared at the page, blank except for some scribbles and a few false starts. Others smiled as they handed in their papers, earning accolades and rewards for tasks successfully completed.

“Please, just a little more time?”

“You’ve already had more than most.”

“I can do it. Promise.”

The timekeeper tapped the watch. “Five more. That’s all.”

Mallory worked frantically until the timekeeper declared, “You’re out of time.”

Mallory smiled, “It’s never too late to begin.”

The timekeeper agreed. “But you could have achieved much more had you not wasted time earlier.”

Thank you blog post

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

bush ballads billabongs and bullfrogs

Bush Ballads, Billabongs and Bullfrogs – #readilearn

A couple of weeks ago, I announced the publication of a new anthology of Bedtime Ballads and Tall Tales from the Australian Bush, Tell ‘Em They’re Dreaming, in which I am delighted to have a ballad of my own included.

The anthology was launched online on Facebook last Sunday 1 November with many of the authors reading their stories in the Share Your Story Facebook Group, which you are welcome to join. You may scroll through the posts and listen to many of the stories there.

My story Once Upon a Billabong tells of a big bully bullfrog who enjoys being mean and doesn’t allow anyone else to live in his billabong. But things don’t always work out the way we plan, and certainly not for the bully bullfrog who is soon looking for a home himself. To find out what happens, listen to me read the story in this video, or perhaps you’d like to read along with me. I hope you enjoy it.

(In case you’re wondering, I bought a frog onesie especially for the launch and still decided to wear it when we had to go online. It doesn’t work as well in the video as I’d hoped. I’m not really trying to hide. 😊)

Continue reading: Bush Ballads, Billabongs and Bullfrogs – readilearn

Folk Tale or Fable Carrot Ranch Rodeo 2020 Contest #1

AND The 2020 Carrot Ranch Writing Rodeo’s first event Winner is:

And the results of the first Carrot Ranch Rodeo Contest are posted!
Pop over to contest leader Kerry. E. B. Black’s blog for the results, and to the Carrot Ranch to read the winning story and the three honorable mentions (including mine!!!!) https://carrotranch.com/rodeo-contests/2020-rodeo/

Allusionary Assembly

Today, with distinct pleasure, I announce the winners of the Carrot Ranch’s 20202 Writing Rodeo Event #1 which I had the honor of organizing. Eighteen brave souls saddled up, lassoed 99 words, and created brand new folk lore type stories for Carrot Ranch. There were comedic pieces and two works of horror, a romance, myths, legends, and a fairy tale. There were researched pieces, too, for the historians. Each and every one of the contestants should feel proud. They flexed their writing muscles and, woo wee, they did not make it easy for the judges to pick the winner!

Everyone who participated is welcomed to display this badge on their website. You earned it!

Now, for our Writing Rodeo 2020 honorable mentions:

“Sky Rider’s Happily Ever After” written by Liz Husebye Hartmann

“Snow White and the Seven Gunslingers” written by Nora Colvin

“Flem and the Rattlesnake” written by Mike Vreeland

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November days to celebrate in the classroom

Special Days and Events for Classroom Celebrations — November – #readilearn

It’s November already and we’re starting the countdown to the end of the year, but there are many more things to celebrate before we welcome in the new year.

The month starts off in a wonderful way by celebrating reading with Australia Reads from 1 – 12 November. I don’t think there can ever be too many days to celebrate reading, literacy and literature.

The Australia Reads Kids digital event on Monday 9 November at 10.30 am is free for all Australian schools. For other events, including interviews with authors and digital story readings, check out this list. Events most days. The site also has some suggestions of great books for children at different year levels.

The week culminates on 12 November with the Reading Hour, when everyone is asked to drop everything and read! What a great excuse to spend more time reading and sharing the love of literature. You can read to yourself or read to the children.

You can join up at the Australia Reads website to take the pledge too (and even make your own logo, as I did):

“I will read for an hour on Thursday 12 November.
I will read books in any shape, form or size.
I will read, whether with bumps, letters, pictures, sound.
I will read to myself or someone else.”

Outdoor Classroom Day on 5 November is a perfect time for taking children outdoors to learn and explore. The day is “a global campaign to celebrate and inspire outdoor learning and play.” This year’s theme is Love the Outdoors.

Continue reading: Special Days and Events for Classroom Celebrations — November – readilearn

Carrot Ranch Flash Fiction Contest Wanted Alive

(Writing Contest) Rodeo #4: “Wanted Alive”

He’s the fourth and final contest in the Carrot Ranch 2020 Flash Fiction Rodeo. Get your pencil sharpened or your fingers poised and start writing. Only 99 words to go!

One day at a time...

A few weeks ago, I announced the start of this year’s Rodeo. I hope you were able to participate in one, two, or maybe even all three of these special events I mentioned in that post. Heck, maybe you are being selected as one of the winners as we speak.

This week, it is MY turn to jump on the horse, grab it by the horns…
Oh, wait –

When I first volunteered to host this contest, I was thinking of all the other obligations I would have to attend to in the month of October. Admittedly, I was worried that I might not be able to fulfill all of my duties. If I am struggling, chances are that some of you might be, too. Mindful of your valuable time and your potentially overwhelmed minds, I decided to keep this contest easy. After all, this is meant to…

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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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