Category Archives: Blogging

Mud on the Tires #99WordStories

This week at the Carrot Ranch, Charli Mills challenged writers to In 99 words (no more, no less), write a story about mud on the tires. The tires can be from any conveyance or serve as an analogy. How did they get muddy and why? What impact does mud on the tires have on the story (plot) or characters (motivation)? Go where the prompt leads!

In her post, Charli says ‘I guess this seems similar to balloons on a bumper. It differs, though. Mud is real. Balloons are temporary hopes and dreams susceptible to popping. Mud can stain. Mud can wash away. Mud says, “You’ve been places, Kiddo.”’

For my response, I have continued with my red convertible story with the girls Amy and Lucy playing imaginatively in their back yard with their toys and whatever else is available. (I have included the previous two stories at the end, in case you’d like to read them together.)

In the last episode, the girls had balloons on their bumper as they travelled to celebrate the wedding of their toys Teddy and Ollie. The balloons, as Charli says, were temporary. In this third episode, they have been replaced by empty cans. But the girls and their toys, including the tyres of their red convertible, have been covered with mud. The mud does say that they have been places. It also says they have had fun, used their imaginations and been creative — three things I consider to be very important in life. I hope this mud sticks, not only for them, but for everyone.

A note about tires. In Australia tires means to grow sleepy and tyres refers to the black rubber things on the wheels of a car. Hence the change in spelling.

I hope you enjoy my story.

Mud on the Tyres

After the wedding, Teddy and Ollie scrunched into the back of the little red convertible.

As Amy and Lucy drove them away from the faraway forest, the guests cheered and threw confetti. The empty cans, now replacing balloons on the bumper, clattered across the wooden bridge and scattered gravel along the mountain trail.

At the honeymoon resort, Teddy and Ollie splashed in the pool first, but they were overexcited, and the grounds were soon a mucky muddy mess.  

When Mother called, ‘Dinnertime!’, the girls were mud-spattered, from the hair on their heads to their convertible’s tyres.

‘Coming!’ they replied.

Thank you blog post

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

Here are the two previous episodes of this story.

The Little Red Convertible (Episode 1)

“Where to today?” asked Amy.

“Over the mountains, across the river, and through the far-away forest,” said Lucy.

“Be home in time for dinner,” said Mother.

“We will!”

The little red convertible chugged to the peak of the highest mountain where the children danced in clouds. It rolled through misty valleys and onto the plain where the children played hide-and-seek in patchwork fields. It trundled across the wooden bridge over the river that led to the forest where they fluttered with fairies and pranced with unicorns.

Rumbling bellies told them to head for home.

“Just in time,” said Mother.

Balloons on the Bumper (Episode 2)

“Where to today?” asked Amy.

“A party,” said Lucy, tying balloons to the bumper of their little red convertible.

“Whose party?”

“Teddy’s. He’s getting married.”

“I didn’t know he had a girlfriend.”

“He doesn’t. He has a unicorn-friend. Mother said I can marry anyone I want. So, Teddy can too.”

“Right. Which way?”

“Over the mountains, across the river, and through the far-away forest.”

“Be home for dinner,” said Mother.

“We will!”

The balloons sailed above the little red car. At the party, the children fluttered with fairies and pranced with unicorns as Teddy and Ollie shared their vows.

Note: The collection of stories made in response to the previous prompt Balloons on a Bumper, including mine, can be read at the Carrot Ranch.

Balloons on the Bumper #99WordStories

Balloons on the Bumper

This week at the Carrot Ranch, Charli Mills challenged writers to In 99 words (no more, no less), write a story about balloons on a bumper. Is it a spectacle, an occasion, an eccentricity? Why are the balloons there? Who is involved? Go where the prompt leads!

The prompt reminded me of an occasion just over twenty years ago, when my sister, niece and I attended a ‘hen’s party’ (terrible term) for my future sister in-law. My niece collected a bunch of helium-filled balloons to take home. She couldn’t squeeze them all into the car, and I drove home with one balloon sailing above us and my sister and niece both in hysterics all the way. Needless to say, they’d both had a few drinks to help the merriment. When we got home, my daughter and nephew, both early teens, decided to inhale the helium, and the hilarity began all over again.

Anyway, I decided to revisit Amy and Lucy and their little red convertible from a few prompts ago. I hope you like it.

Balloons on the Bumper

“Where to today?” asked Amy.

“A party,” said Lucy, tying balloons to the bumper of their little red convertible.

“Whose party?”

“Teddy’s. He’s getting married.”

“I didn’t know he had a girlfriend.”

“He doesn’t. He has a unicorn-friend. Mother said I can marry anyone I want. So, Teddy can too.”

“Right. Which way?”

“Over the mountains, across the river, and through the far-away forest.”

“Be home for dinner,” said Mother.

“We will!”

The balloons sailed above the little red car. At the party, the children fluttered with fairies and pranced with unicorns as Teddy and Ollie shared their vows.

Thank you blog post

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

Note: The collection of stories made in response to the previous prompt Swimmingly, including mine, can be read at the Carrot Ranch.

The Red Convetible #99WordStories

This week at the Carrot Ranch, Charli Mills challenged writers to In 99 words (no more, no less), write a story that features a red convertible. Who is driving or riding? Where is the car going? Maybe it isn’t even a car. Have fun and go where the prompt leads!

Royal’s Red Convertible

When I was a child, my uncle, who was probably in his early thirties and single at the time, had a red convertible. His name was Royal (Royal Albert, no less) and I thought he looked like Elvis Presley. He had a great sense of humour, and when he laughed, he did so with his whole body. Whenever he came to visit, we kids would beg him for a ride. He always complied. We felt like royalty as he whizzed us around the block, the wind in our hair, smiling as wide as the Pacific. It was Royal fun!

Charli did say to go where the prompt leads, and how could I write a post about a red convertible without paying respects to my uncle and the only times I got to ride in a red convertible, or any convertible for that matter. Sadly, we lost Royal twenty years ago to melanoma, a terrible disease that takes too many lives here in Queensland.

From memoir to fiction.

The Little Red Convertible V1

Teddy plumped into the driver’s seat. Ollie squished beside.

“Where’re we going, Teddy?”

“Somewhere far away, where the flowers bloom and the birds sing and the sky’s the prettiest blue.”

“How long will it take to get there?”

“Close your eyes and we’ll be there before you know it,” said Teddy.

The little red convertible zoomed past dancing horses and gilded carriages.

“Do you see it?” asked Teddy.

“It’s beautiful!” whispered Ollie, not wanting to break the magic.

When the little red convertible stopped, Ollie asked, “Can we go again?”

“Anytime,” said Teddy. “Just close your eyes and imagine.”

When I was writing that one, I was thinking of a little red car on a carousel. However, I couldn’t find an image to match. I quite liked the image of the two children and the pedal car, so I thought I’d have another go. For this one, I was thinking of playing imaginatively in the backyard or playground. I don’t think either are really what I could call finished, though each is 99 words, as is Royal’s Red Convertible, but I’ve run out of time. Let me know which you prefer.

The Little Red Convertible V2

“Where to today?” asked Amy.

“Over the mountains, across the river, and through the far-away forest,” said Lucy.

“Be home in time for dinner,” said Mother.

“We will!”

The little red convertible chugged to the peak of the highest mountain where the children danced in clouds. It rolled through misty valleys and onto the plain where the children played hide-and-seek in patchwork fields. It trundled across the wooden bridge over the river that led to the forest where they fluttered with fairies and pranced with unicorns.

Rumbling bellies told them to head for home.

“Just in time,” said Mother.

Thank you blog post

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

The Swarm #99WordStories

This week at the Carrot Ranch, Charli Mills challenged writers to In 99 words (no more, no less), write a story about swarms. What could swarm? How does the swarm impact the people or place in your story? Is there something unusual about the swarm? Go where the prompt leads!

I was pleased to have an extra week to respond to this one as I was unable to get it done during the first week due to family (holiday) commitments.

This is my response. I hope you like it and that it makes sense.

The Swarm

People swarmed like ants to a plate of jelly. Jodie stretched on tiptoes but saw nothing. She peered first left, then right, but heads blocked any view. There was nothing to hear — no singing, no instrument, no announcement. The crowd was silent and still. Jodie might have left but was trapped by others who’d filled the space behind. “What is it, Mummy?” her child whispered. Frowning faces pressed fingers to tight lips. “I can’t see anything,” the child declared. “Shhhhh!” the crowd admonished, breaking the spell. The swarm dispersed. “What was it, Mummy?” Jodie shrugged. “Nothing. It was nothing.”

So, what do you think? Did it make sense to you?

There were two things that influenced my story.

1. I was in the city recently and saw a long trail of people snaking through the mall. I wondered what they were queueing for, and whether they even knew.

Have you ever noticed that people like to crowd or queue when they see others doing so? I think it may be caused by a fear of missing out (FOMO) or perhaps a need to follow blindly. I’ve sometimes wondered how long it might take for a crowd to form if just one or two of us stood and stared at something (nothing) for a while.

I didn’t join the queue, but of course I was curious about what had attracted them. When I got near to the front of the queue, I could see a large wheel, what we call a ‘chocolate wheel’, that is spun for a prize to be won. Everyone was getting a turn to spin the wheel and win a prize. I don’t know what the prizes were but I’m fairly confident that they were probably nothing that anyone really wanted or needed, and quite likely required spending something to be of any benefit. Whether my assumption was correct, I’ll never know, but I find the whole queueing/crowding thing interesting.

2. These thoughts are similar to the theme of one of my favourite Hans Christian Andersen stories, The Emperor’s New Clothes. In this story, two fraudsters trick the emperor into believing they have designed his new clothes with a fabric that is visible only to clever people. Of course, word of this special fabric gets out to all his subjects who line the streets and ooh and aah when the emperor leads the parade in his ‘new clothes’. The only one who isn’t fooled (who didn’t get the memo) is a child who cries out that the emperor is naked and wearing nothing at all.

What do you think? Was I successful in linking these two ideas?

Thank you blog post

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

Note: The collection of stories made in response to the previous prompt Freedom, including mine, can be read at the Carrot Ranch.

Freedom #99WordStories

This week at the Carrot Ranch, Charli Mills challenged writers to In 99 words (no more, no less), write a story about what freedom feels like. Whose point of view do you use? Does the idea of freedom cause tension or bring hope? Let the reader feel the freedom. Go where the prompt leads!

Last week, the prompt was Danger Zone. My story saw a couple of playful children ‘trapped by quicksand’. I thought it appropriate to free them this week. My story begins where the last one finished. I hope you enjoy it.

We’re Free!

Help! Save us!

What’s wrong?

Can’t you see? We’re sinking. It’s quicksand! Help!

I’ll save you! I’ll pull you out!

Quick!

Okay. Stay right there! I’ll get a rope.

Jane, Jane. Quick, Give me your rope. The boys are sinking in quicksand. We have to get them out — before it’s too late.

I’ll come too.

Where are you going?

We have to save the boys! They’re sinking! It’s quicksand!

Quicksand? I’ll help too.

Quick! Grab the rope! Now, everyone, on the count of three, one, two, three, pu-ull! Pu-ull! Pu-ull!

Made it! You saved us! We’re free! Thank you.

Thank you blog post

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

Note: The collection of stories made in response to the previous prompt Danger Zone, including mine, can be read at the Carrot Ranch.

Danger Zone #99WordStories

This week at the Carrot Ranch, Charli Mills challenged writers to In 99 words (no more, no less), write a story about a danger zone. It can be an exciting plot-driven story (think “story spine”) or a situation a character must confront. Play with different genres, and use craft elements like tension, tone, and pacing. Go where the prompt leads!

Charli didn’t say it could be nonsense but that’s all I could come up with after a pretty heavy week of writing books about writing for an educational publisher. The work can be draining at times and nonsense is all that is left. I hope it gives you a smile anyway. Smile and carry on.

Quicksand

Stop!

Why?

That’s quicksand.

I can’t see it.

That’s why it’s so dangerous.

It doesn’t look like quick sand.

It never does. Until you start sinking in it.

I don’t believe you. You’re just trying to scare me. I’m going in anyway.

Suit yourself.

Help! Help! Save me!

You don’t look like you need saving to me.

But I’m sinking.

It’s just your imagination.

You said it was quicksand.

I know, but I was joking.

Then why am I sinking?

You’re not sinking. You’re just  — disappearing into the ground? Yikes! It really is quicksand. Help! We’re sinking! Save us!

Thank you blog post

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

Note: The collection of stories made in response to the previous prompt Stacking Stones, including mine, can be read at the Carrot Ranch.

Memorial #99wordstories

This week at the Carrot Ranch, Charli Mills challenged writers to In 99 words (no more, no less), write a story behind a memorial. Is it a structure, plaque, or something else? What does it seek to remind those who view it? Go where the prompt leads!

Charli’s prompt was in honour of Memorial Day commemorated in the United States on 30th May.

In Australia, we have two main days for remembrance — ANZAC Day on 25th April (which we share with New Zealand), and Remembrance Day on 11th November (which we share with many other countries).

Every evening, The Ode is recited at many RSL (Returned and Services League) Clubs around Australia. The Ode is the fourth stanza of the poem “For The Fallen” by Laurence Binyon (1869-1943). 

At times such as these, I always think of my family members, especially my father, who fought in the Second World War. This is my response. I hope you like it. It is a #99wordstory but it is truth (as I know it), not #flashfiction.

Memorial

As a child, he lived at Yuleba, a tiny town in south-western Queensland. His father was a boundary rider on the fence bordering New South Wales, keeping rabbits out of Queensland. A peaceful if difficult life. Aged 20, he enlisted. His overseas service included the battle at Milne Bay, a turning point of the war. Upon their return, servicemen were told to forget. Memories and nightmares disagreed, but it was years before he could talk, let alone write, about his experiences. After his death, his words were engraved on a memorial in his home town, never to be forgotten.

These are the words on the memorial, a brief extract from a longer poem Ode to the Old Digger by RJ (John) Irwin.

You’ve seen him marching with his mates all in sombre mood;

For they march to pay homage, and remember fallen mates

But, they also remember the horrors of their fates

and they pray to God their sons will never have to face

 a similar situation for there’s never any winners only death.

Aah! But did you see him in his glory, as he stood among the dead

and he wondered why it had to be;

…So look upon him gently for he is not to blame

 For he only fought that all peoples may be free.

So let us honour him, and give him his just due

For he is only man, just like me and you;

But he was called upon to make a stand

against an inhuman ideology, too horrible for minds to grasp

and all he asks for now, is a chance to live in peace.

Thank you blog post

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

Note: The collection of stories made in response to the previous prompt Well’s Gone Dry, including mine, can be read at the Carrot Ranch.

Well’s Gone Dry #99WordStories

This week at the Carrot Ranch, Charli Mills challenged writers to In 99 words (no more, no less), write a story using the phrase “well’s gone dry.” Is it a real well or a metaphorical well? Why is it dry? What is the consequence and to whom? Go where the prompt leads!

This is my response. I hope you like it.

Well’s Gone Dry

Having lived independently for years, when they moved in together, they had two of everything and needed nothing more. At their public celebration, they advised, ‘No gifts, please. Wishing well contributions appreciated.’

With well-paying jobs, they had no immediate need of the well’s contents, which they didn’t inspect but agreed to keep for a ‘rainy day’.

It sat untouched for many years, until it didn’t just rain; it poured.

“Must be all notes,” they said when it didn’t jingle.

There was but one note: “Always carry an umbrella in case of rain.”

The well remained the only thing dry.

Thank you blog post

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

Note: The collection of stories made in response to the previous prompt Soldier, Prisoner and Buttercup, which I unfortunately didn’t find time to respond to, can be read at the Carrot Ranch.

The collection of stories made in response to the most recent prompt I responded to Mum Selfie can also be read at the Carrot Ranch.

Extraction #99WordStories

This week at the Carrot Ranch, Charli Mills challenged writers to In 99 words (no more, no less), write a story about extraction. What is being extracted and from where? Is it an idea? How does genre change the perspective (sci-fi versus romance)? Go where the prompt leads!

This is my response. I hope you enjoy it.

Conversation Extraction

Marcia’s eyes met Henry’s across the room. He looked as unenthralled and uncomfortable as she was. He raised an eyebrow. Her mouth twitched, part smile. She extracted herself from the conversation. He did the same. They met by the kitchen door.

“Haven’t seen you at one of these shindigs before,” he said.

“First time.”

“Enjoying it?”

“Better now. That conversation was more boring than a tooth extraction.”

“What were they discussing?”

“Teeth extractions. They’re all dentists.”

“What about you?”

“Teacher. You?”

“Dentist.”

“Oh.” She reddened, then smiled. “You should join that conversation.”

“You should join mine. They’re all teachers.”

Thank you blog post

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

Note: The collection of stories made in response to the previous prompt Up and Away, including mine, can be read at the Carrot Ranch here.

Up and Away #99WordStories

This week at the Carrot Ranch, Charli Mills challenged writers to In 99 words (no more, no less), write a story using the phrase, “up and away.” You can imagine a story from the photo of hot air balloons, a flying superhero, a natural wonder, or any other direction your inspiration goes. Go where the prompt leads!

This is my response. I hope you enjoy it.

Up and Away

April placed a coin onto his palm.

“What will I make for you?”

“A magic balloon, please.”

He scanned her face, searched deep within her eyes, read her every wish.

“A magic balloon,” he said, selecting a dark blue.

He stretched it this way and that, then blew. As the balloon filled, the blue lightened and brightened. It shed sparkles that glistened in the sunlight. He knotted the end, held it out, then twisted and twirled and pulled it into a star.

He wound the ribbon around April’s wrist. “Up and away!” he whispered, as April was whisked aloft.

Thank you blog post

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

Note: The collection of stories made in response to the previous prompt Never Ending can be read at the Carrot Ranch here. Sadly, I didn’t get to join in with that prompt due to a (brief and mild) tussle with covid.