Category Archives: Creativity

glitter, glisten, smiles and sparkles

Add a sprinkle of glitter to make your day sparkle

Children love to create artworks using pencils, crayons, paints and anything they can stick to a surface using glue. With access to a variety of materials, they can be absorbed for hours creating their masterpieces.

While they might select from the materials offered, I found the one thing that few children could resist was glitter—and the more of it, the better.

There is nothing like glitter to add a bit of sparkle to the day. The only trouble is, glitter is so light and so small, that it goes everywhere—on the artwork, on the table, on the chair and on the floor. It sticks to the hands and is smeared on the face and takes forever to remove from the hair. But everyone loves it nonetheless, and it adds a little brightness to the day.

Smiles are like glitter in that they also spread easily and brighten the day. However, they are not nearly so messy, cost nothing, and require no cleaning up at all.

I think smiles are the glitter we should add to the artwork that is everyday life. And if there’s one thing about smiles, the more you give, the more you receive. Smiles come from a bottomless well, from a source that never dries up. A sprinkle of smiles will make anyone’s day sparkle, and who knows what difference a smile can make to another’s life.

The Ripple Effect by Tony Ryan

I often think of The Ripple Effect, written by Tony Ryan, and its inspirational stories. I especially enjoy this quote by Bette Reese included in the book: “If you think you are too small to be effective, you have never been in bed with a mosquito.”

quote about effectiveness and size by Bette Reese

One of Tony’s stories describes the following scenario:

“As you enter the freeway, you discover that the traffic is heavier than usual, and is moving quite slowly. You then notice that the young driver in the car beside you is trying to enter your lane, because her exit is coming up. No-one is letting her in, and she is becoming tense and upset.”

Tony then describes the turning point in her day:

“You stop, and wave her in front of you with a flourish and a smile.”

and the ripple effect:

  • “she returns your smile, acknowledges your thoughtful action, and drives on
  • her tension dissipates, and she arrives at her company office feeling buoyed by your little effort
  • as the main receptionist, she is the first to greet the hundreds of people who enter the office each day
  • with her positive greeting, she decides to brighten up the life of every person she meets throughout that day
  • because of her efforts, many others in the business district are inspired to focus on their own positive efforts.”

Like glitter, we can never know how far the effects of our smiles might travel. There can never be too many smiles in any one day, especially in a classroom filled with children.

man glisten a flash fiction challenge by Charli Mills at the Carrot Ranch

This week at the Carrot Ranch, Charli Mills challenged writers to In 99 words (no more, no less) write a story about man glisten. It was a fun term coined by two men with glitter in their beards. What more could it embrace? Look to the unexpected and embrace a playful approach. Go where the prompt leads.

I’d only come across the word “glisten” before in the Christmas carol, Walking in a Winter Wonderland.

But Charli’s prompt reminded me of an incident in my childhood that had absolutely nothing to do with glitter or glisten (I don’t even remember glitter in my childhood) but loads to do with smiles. I’ve rewritten the incident to include glitter and other alternative facts. I hope it gives you a smile.

Glitter smiles glisten

Relentless rain meant no beach for the country cousins. They spent eternity on the verandah, making artworks, playing games, and bickering.

On the last day, when Mum said to clear space for their mattresses, they fought over who’d do what. Toys and games ended up in a haphazard tower with the glitter bucket balanced on top.

When Dad bent for goodnight kisses, he stumbled and demolished the tower. Glitter went everywhere—including all over Dad. The children gasped.

“Your hair glistens, Dad,” smiled the littlest.

Dad smiled too, then everybody laughed.

Dad wore a hat to work that week.

Writing Skills workbook with Strike Me Pink

I previously wrote about this incident for inclusion in a Writing Skills Homework Book published by Pascal Press. Workbooks such as this are very different from the teaching resources I now share on readilearn, but: it was paid work.

This version is closer to the truth.

Strike Me Pink!

Because we lived near the beach, our cousins visited one Easter. Unfortunately, it rained all weekend. Just imagine eight children under ten years old and four adults cooped up in one tiny cottage. Everyone’s patience was wearing thin. We children were starting to whinge and niggle each other. The adults were trying to keep cool and prevent us from hurting each other.

One night when it was all too much, the children were sent to bed early. Four of us were on mattresses on the floor. The line for drying washing, strung across the room overhead, held only one item: my pink dressing gown. I had carelessly tossed it there out of the way.

When Dad came in for a goodnight kiss he thought we looked like a row of toy soldiers in a box. Bending down he exclaimed, “Strike me pink!” And he was! The dressing gown fell from the line and draped over his shoulders like a cloak. What mirth erupted at the sight of my father looking like a pink general. The tensions eased and smiles returned to everyone’s faces.

The next morning was fine as our cousins left for home. We hadn’t been to the beach, but we did have a story to share that would bring a smile to our faces for many years to come.

Note: I don’t know how many others used the term, but my Dad often said, “Strike me pink” to express surprise.

Thank you blog post

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

 

 

readilearn: Meet the author-illustrator team for Turtle Love – Renee Hills and Anna Jacobson

Do you love turtles? I find these magnificent creatures of the sea fascinating. Although I already owned a collection of picture books about turtles, I couldn’t resist supporting local author Renee Hills publish her first picture book Turtle Love, illustrated by Anna Jacobson, through Pozible at the end of last year. I was delighted when I received my very own copy of this beautiful picture book with its warm and empowering story that engages young children and invites them to be proactive about the welfare of other creatures.”

Synopsis

Turtle Love is about Jacob Gordon Lachlan Brown who lives on perhaps the most interesting and beautiful beach in the world. The flatback turtles agree. They come every summer to lay their eggs. But life is becoming more difficult for the turtles because the big ships that load coal are stirring up sediment and this affects the seagrass that the turtles eat.  And this beautiful beach is where they MUST come to nest. Why don’t the flatback turtles go somewhere else? What can Jacob do to help them?

The text explores themes including the impact of man-made coastal developments on the habitat of other species; how to advocate for threatened creatures and the right of all living beings to have a safe place to nest and live. As a bonus, the book contains a story within a story, a mythical explanation for the beautiful coloured rock landform on the beach where the turtles nest.

About the author

Renee Hills has been writing ever since she won a prize for an essay about the future when she was a country North Queensland kid. After graduating and working briefly as a teacher, Renee honed her writing skills as a print journalist, editor, and self- publisher.

Continue reading: readilearn: Meet the author-illustrator team for Turtle Love – Renee Hills and Anna Jacobson

Introducing Andrew King author of the Engibear series – Readilearn

Today, I have great pleasure in introducing you to Dr Andrew King from Brisbane Australia. Andrew is an engineer, teacher, and writer of the popular Engibears series of picture books, designed to introduce children to engineering through friendly characters and story. Each book focusses on a particular aspect of engineering and, through examples and accompanying activities, is designed to encourage children to try engineering — to “Dream, Design and Develop”.

Dream, Design and Develop

Engibears have been part of Andrew’s family for many years. They were created while Andrew played and shared stories with his children.

Andrew thinks he is very lucky to be working with Benjamin Johnston, a Sydney-based architect and illustrator. Ben’s fantastic illustrations have brought Engibears and Munnagong, the city in which they live, to life.

Andrew is passionate about the role that Science, Technology, Engineering and Maths (the STEM subjects) will play in our sustainable future and equally passionate about the importance of STEM education. He regularly talks to students about engineering, and facilitates student-centred engineering activities and programs.

His kids think he enjoys building shelves in his spare time. However, Andrew really enjoys spending time with his family, playing bass guitar, walking his dogs and trying to play golf.

The Engibear series includes three books; Engibear’s Dream, Engibear’s Bridge and Engilina’s Trains. In the most recent, Engilina’s Trains, Engilina, Engibear and Bearbot are back to build transport for the future – a new maglev train that will run from Munnagong to Billaburra as fast as a plane. During the project, they discover an old steam engine which leads them on an interesting journey and creates an unexpected link to the past. It’s an interesting story of trains, teamwork, technology and time.

Now let’s meet Andrew. Welcome to readilearn, Andrew. We are looking forward to getting to know a little more about you and your books.

Thanks for inviting me.

Andrew, when did you know you wanted to be a writer?

Continue reading: readilearn: Introducing Andrew King author of the Engibear series – Readilearn

Carrot Ranch Round the World Tour, Pennsylvania, USA | Jules in Flashy Fiction

And now for the next stop on the Congress of Rough Writers Tour Around the World. We are with Jules Paige from Pennsylvania, USA.

Jules has a unique ability to respond to a number of prompts and challenges in one. She even did six in one blow! What a feat. Read on to learn more about Jules and her writing process.

Meanwhile Back at the Ranch….brought to you from JulesPaige – because “words are like Jewels on a Page” Jules from Pennsylvania, USA Writes for “The Congress of Rough Writers Flash Fiction Anthology Vol 1 World Tour.

I was going to write about my first piece for Carrot Ranch until one of my unnamed characters did some forest bathing. I was struck by a comment from our Lead Buckaroo on my piece entitled ‘The Rescue’ that I wrote in February 2018. Charli says: “A lovely escape and a fine mashup, Jules. I’m impressed at the depths you go to mine language, prompts and even comments. That’s literary art!”.

I’m drawn to what I call ‘mashing prompts’. One, two, five… sometimes I get carried away. But I managed to stuff The Rescue? a whole whopping 99 words with two prompts from one writing site, a photo prompt from another, the Unicorn prompt from Carrot Ranch as well as a quote from another piece I wrote that someone else liked as well as a comment I posted on another friends site.

That’s six inspirations woven into one very short piece of fiction.

Continue reader: Carrot Ranch Round the World Tour, Pennsylvania, USA | Jules in Flashy Fiction

Pop over to the Carrot Ranch, too, to see what the Lead Buckaroo has to say about one of the “bright jewels of the Buckaroo Nation.”

Stop 7: Noosaville Australia: Congress of Rough Writers Round the World Tour: A Book Review with a Difference

The next stop on the Rough Writers Tour around the World is with fellow Aussie Irene Waters. Pop over to see how writing flash fiction contributes to Irene’s memoir writing.

Reflections and Nightmares- Irene A Waters (writer and memoirist)

tour-around-the-world

May 21st 2014 I wrote my first flash in Charli’s 99 word flash fiction prompt. Little did I know that Charli’s vision of a site that would make literary arts available to all would see me join the ranks of the Congress of Rough Writers, participating in a writing rodeo both as contestant and leader of one of the competitions and writing a monthly post on memoir. The biggest achievement has been the publishing of  Anthology 1, but more about that in a minute.

I had found Charli’s site via a Bite Size Memoir prompt  and found that as a memoir writer, writing fiction didn’t come easily, at first. Indeed, this very first flash was a BOTS, that is it was based on a true story that occurred when my father had gone to Sydney to teach for 3 months and my mother, brother and I were left in our…

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Can you have your carrot cake and eat it too - flash fiction

Can you have your carrot cake and eat it too?

Charli Mills flash fiction prompt "Carrot cake"

This week at the Carrot Ranch, Charli Mills challenged writers to In 99 words (no more, no less) write a story about carrot cake. It can be classic or unusual. Why is there cake? How does it feature in the story. Go where the prompt leads.

Carrot cake is great for a celebration, and with Easter just around the corner, I decided to combine the two. I hope you like it.

A carrot cake for Easter

“What will we cook today?” asked Mum.

“Carrot cake!” chimed the twins.

“But you don’t like carrot cake.”

“Carrot cake. Carrot cake.”

“Why?”

“Well, it’s going to be–“

“Easter soon, and we want–“

“to give the Easter Bunny–“

“a surprise–”

“present.”

The twins smiled at each other.

“Okay,” smiled Mum. “Carrot cake it is.”

“Yay!”

“First, we need the carrots.”

The children raced ahead to the veggie patch.

“What–“

“happened?”

Their eyes opened wide. The carrot patch was devastated; not one carrot left.

“Carrot cake’s off,” said Mum. “That old rabbit can’t have carrot cake and eat them too.”

bunny eating carrot public domain picture

Thank you blog post

Thank you for reading. I appreciate your feedback, please share your thoughts; and if you can help me with the following two questions, that would be wonderful.

  1. How should I punctuate the twins’ dialogue to show that they are finishing each other sentences? Have I done it correctly? If not, how should I have shown it? I checked my style guide and online and couldn’t find an explanation.
  2. Word counted the em dashes I have used to punctuate the interruptions, but I haven’t. Should I have? Most punctuation is not counted as words.

Thanks for your advice.

Rough writers tour around the world

Jump on board the Congress of Rough Writers Round the World Tour

Do you remember the moment you fell in love–the moment the passion ignited, and you knew life would never be the same again?

I remember the moment my love affair with flash fiction began. Like many love affairs, it took me by surprise, lifting me up with its power to seduce, challenge and excite in a whirlpool of emotions.

That moment occurred exactly four years and one week ago when, on 12 March 2014, I published my response to the first flash fiction prompt posted by Charli Mills at the Carrot Ranch. Charli challenged writers to In 99 words (no more, no less) write the aftermath of an avalanche of any kind from any perspective.

Flash fiction was new to me. I’d written short stories, children stories, poetry, songs, and educational books and resources, but never flash fiction. However, I do love a challenge and had been anticipating having a go at flash fiction after Charli’s announcement a few months prior.

This is my response, my first ever attempt at flash fiction:

Avalanche

The trickle began; imperceptible, unheeded and ignored.

Needing more attention, the volume swelled and quickened pace.

Still no attention was forthcoming so the surge became more urgent and incessant in its plea.

“Slow down! Stop me!”

To no avail.

The avalanche engulfed her.

Heat flashed through her body, from feet straight to her head.

Heart pounding loudly, “Let me out of here!” it pled.

With reverberations magnified in each and every cell,

the heady swirl became too much –

she trembling choked. “I’m dying?”

But no:

B-r-e-a-t-h-e   s-l-o-w.

B-r-e-a-t-h-e   d-e-e-p.

R-e-l-a-x.

S-o-o-t-h-e.

B-r-e-a-t-h-e . . .

The panic abates.

I was just one of five to respond to that first prompt. Four of those writers, including me of course, are still regular visitors to the Carrot Ranch, are members of the Congress of Rough Writers, and are contributors to the Congress of Rough Writers Flash Fiction Anthology Vol 1. That’s pretty awesome, I think.

Carrot Ranch Anthology with 5 star review

Watch the trailer here:

Over the years, the number of Congress members has grown to thirty-two and the number of participants in the Flash Fiction challenges swells to more than fifty some weeks.

from little things big things grow

What an amazing achievement: from small things, big things grow. Charli’s vision has not wavered from the outset. She held to her path through all manner of life’s storms. Battered but not beaten, she persisted when lesser mortals would have caved. She continues to welcome, encourage and support all writers with her vision to make literary arts accessible to all. With the publication of this anthology, a digital compilation of entries in the inaugural Flash Fiction Rodeo now in production, and Anthology Vol 2 in the pipeline, she shows what is possible through vision, determination and growth mindset.

During the four years I have been participating in Charli’s challenges, I have learned a lot, not only about writing, but about life. The warmth and encouragement of the community of writers that have gathered around Charli is uplifting. The synergy and combined effect of all our stories, written and shared in a safe environment, raises us up together to walk on each other’s shoulders.

In 2015, I wrote this about what I had learned from writing flash fiction. The learning continues with my own “yet’ mindset.

Carrot Ranch anthology a brilliant idea

About the Anthology

Thirty writers began with 99 words and forged literary feats. Vol. 1 explores the literary art of flash fiction, beginning with the earliest compilations at Carrot Ranch and later pieces based on a new flash fiction prompt. This is not your typical anthology. It continues with longer stories extended from the original 99-word format and essays on how flash fiction supports memoir writing. Based on the experiences at Carrot Ranch, the concluding section of Vol. 1 offers tips to other groups interested in using the flash fiction format to build a literary community.

Charli Mills, Series Editor, Publisher & Lead Buckaroo
Sarah Brentyn, Editor & Contributor

The Congress of the Rough Writers (contributors):

Anthony Amore, Rhode Island, USA; Georgia Bell, Toronto, Ontario, Canada; Sacha Black, England, UK; Sarah Brentyn, USA; Norah Colvin, Brisbane, Qld, AU; Pete Fanning, Virginia, USA; C. Jai Ferry, Midwest, USA; Rebecca Glaessner, Melbourne, Vic, AU; Anne Goodwin, England, UK; Luccia Gray, Spain; Urszula Humienik, Poland; Ruchira Khanna, California, USA; Larry LaForge, Clemson, South Carolina, USA; Geoff Le Pard, Dulwich South London, UK; Jeanne Belisle Lombardo, Phoenix, Arizona, USA; Sherri Matthews, Somerset, UK; Allison Mills, Houghton, Michigan, USA; Charli Mills, Hancock, Michigan, USA; Paula Moyer, Lauderdale, Minnesota, USA; JulesPaige, Pennsylvania, USA; Amber Prince, North Texas, USA; Lisa Reiter, UK; Ann Edall-Robson, Airdrie, Alberta, Canada; Christina Rose, Oregon, USA; Roger Shipp, Virginia, USA; Kate Spencer, British Columbia, Canada; Sarah Unsicker, St. Louis, Missouri, USA; Irene Waters, Noosaville, Qld, AU; Sarrah J. Woods, Charleston, West Virginia, USA; Susan Zutautas, Orillia, Ontario, Canada.

From the back cover:

Witness great feats of literary art from daring writers around the world: stories crafted in 99 words.

Flash fiction is a literary prompt, form, and tool that unites writers in wordplay. This creative craft hones a writer’s skills to write tight stories and explore longer works. It’s literary art in thoughtful bites, and the collective stories in this anthology provide an entertaining read for busy modern readers.

Writers approach the prompts for their 99-word flash with creative diversity. Each of the twelve chapters in Part One features quick, thought-provoking flash fiction. Later sections include responses to a new flash fiction prompt, extended stories from the original 99-word format, and essays from memoir writers working in flash fiction. A final section includes tips on how to use flash fiction in classrooms, book clubs, and writers groups.

CarrotRanch.com is an online literary community where writers can practice craft the way musicians jam. Vol. 1 includes the earliest writings by these global literary artists at Carrot Ranch. Just as Buffalo Bill Cody once showcased the world’s most daring riding, this anthology highlights the best literary feats from The Congress of Rough Writers.

The Congress of Rough Writers Anthology Vol 1

In case you haven’t got yours yet, here’s where to purchase

The Congress of the Rough Writers Flash Fiction Anthology Vol. 1 is available through distribution in 17 countries worldwide. Buy direct from our Print on Demand distributor at Book Baby.

Preferred Seller:

The-Congress-of-Rough-Writers

Also available from:

Amazon Global Digital
Amazon Global Print

Be sure to check out other stops on the Congress of Rough Writers Tour Around the World.

We have already visited

Sherri Matthews UK

Luccia Gray in Spain

Sacha Black in the UK

Ann Edall-Robson in Canada

Anne Goodwin in the UK

Geoff Le Pard in the UK

Next week we will visit Irene Waters, another Australian. (You’ve travelled so far, we want you to make the most of your journey!)

The tour continues through April and into May. Be sure to not miss a stop along the way.

 

Thank you blog post

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