Category Archives: Flash fiction

Wife Carrying Contest - Carrot Ranch Flash Fiction

The Strong One #flashfiction

Wife Carrying Contest - Carrot Ranch Flash Fiction

This week at the Carrot Ranch, Charli Mills challenged writers to In 99 words (no more, no less), write a story about a carried wife. Why is she being carried? Who is carrying? Pick a genre if you’d like and craft a memorable character. Go where the prompt leads!

In her post, Charli

  • explained differences in genres
  • introduced us to Sirrka, a remarkable 99-year-old American of Finnish parents
  • told us of the Finnish wife-carrying contest, which prompted the flash fiction prompt
  • assured us that we are ‘always evolving’.

Please pop over to the Ranch to read Charli’s post and other responses to the prompt.

I agree with Charli that we are always evolving.

When I started writing this blog six and a half years ago, my intention was to write about education. Whenever I responded to one of Charli’s prompts, I attempted to embed my story in a post that focused on education or child development. I was mostly successful.

However, not all prompts, such as this wife-carrying challenge, lend themselves easily to education, though I could certainly do it if I tried with a story about children in school learning about Finland and Finnish customs, for example.

Since I also write posts about education for my second blog at readilearn, which I republish here, I have decided to allow myself a little more flexibility with my responses to Charli’s prompts. From now on, with my word for this year being ‘prioritise’, I will focus more on writing a story than embedding it in a post.

This is my story for this week. I hope you like it.

The Strong One

“You’re strong,” she giggled as he piggy-backed her around the playground at lunchtime.

“You’re strong,” she murmured as he lifted her over the puddle outside their graduation dance.

When he carried her over the threshold on their wedding day, her eyes sparkled with words unsaid but understood.

When they heard of Finland’s wife carrying contest, she smirked. “We could do that. You’re strong.”

He indicated the sleeping children. “When they’re grown.”

When cancer ravaged her body, she soothed, “Stay strong.”

When he and their sons carried her from the chapel on her final journey, he’d never felt so weak.

Thank you blog post

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

Just Rigt

Just Right

Carrot Ranch flash fiction challenge - gnome

This week at the Carrot Ranch, Charli Mills challenged writers to in 99 words (no more, no less), write a story about a gnome. It can be a garden gnome, a Christmas Joulutonttu, or a sauna protector. You can write magical realism, or feature contemporary gnome-like product.  Go where the prompt leads!

In my story, I have combined three themes: Christmas wishes, growth mindset and self-acceptance. I hope you like it.

Just Right

Longing for height, Gnomie joined Santa’s queue in the mall. Unfortunately, the queue hardly moved, and people grumbled when the air became hot and still. Elves demanded everyone disperse. Gnomie didn’t want to disperse. He wanted to be tall. Elves spotted him approaching Santa. “Hey! You there!” He froze. Santa glared, then said, “He looks about right.” The elves quickly explained — in the heat, Santa’s ring had slipped off and into the air conditioner, jamming the controls. No one could reach it. “I can!” said Gnomie, and he did. Elves cheered; Santa smiled, and Gnomie contemplated a new request.

Thank you blog post

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

Would you like lime with that flash fiction

Would you like lime with that?

Carrot Ranch flash fiction challenge - key limes

This week at the Carrot Ranch, Charli Mills challenged writers to In 99 words (no more, no less), write a story that includes a key lime pie. How can you use it in a story? Is it about the pie? Or about characters making, eating, or otherwise engaging with one? Go where the prompt leads!

Now, we don’t have key limes in Australia. From what I can tell, they were ‘invented’ in the US, in Florida, and are not available here. However, we do have our own native varieties of finger limes which have been enjoyed by Indigenous Australian peoples for thousands of years and are now becoming popular worldwide for their spherical pearls, tangy flavour and variety of colours. You can find out more about finger limes here.

While I have three finger lime plants in my garden, they are still young and haven’t yet produced fruit. I wasn’t sure if finger limes might be used in pies so I searched for recipes. I was surprised that the only finger lime pie recipe I found originated in California: Citriburst Finger Lime Pie, which just goes to prove the finger lime’s spreading popularity.

However, a recipe discovered while searching that excited me even more was a lemon myrtle pavlova with finger lime pearls as garnish.  Even without tasting, I just know it’s my new favourite dessert.

Lemon myrtle, which I first tasted only a few years ago, is my new favourite flavour, so why shouldn’t a lemon myrtle pavlova become my new favourite dessert? (My first taste was in a lemon myrtle self-saucing pudding served at the Sounds of Silence Dinner at Uluru. It’s a taste sensation I’ll never forget in what was an altogether truly memorable experience.)

It may appear I’m digressing from Charli’s prompt, but she does say to go where the prompt leads. Lime has never been one of my favourite flavours. I always considered lime cordial a little too close to a dead ant flavour for my taste. I’m sure the key lime pie is nothing like that, and finger limes certainly aren’t. In fact, I don’t think any fresh limes are. It must be something done to limes during the cordial-making process.

Anyway, without further deviation, here’s my response to the prompt.

The Pie Contest flash fiction

The Pie Contest

The instructions demanding no sampling until after judging challenged Jack as he proceeded along the tables. With hands clasped behind his back, he read the labels: key lime, desert cherry, lemon myrtle … He paused at his favourite — Christmas pie. A splinter of crust on the cloth spoiled the sumptuous display, he reasoned. Though using the utmost discretion, he was caught and banished to the corner. The harshest possible punishment already dispensed, he grabbed the pie and shoved it into his mouth. Once seated, he thumbed his nose at the other judges who succumbed and followed him into temptation.

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

Winners are grinners #flashfiction

Winners are Grinners #flashfiction

During the month of October, the third annual Flash Fiction Rodeo was hosted by Charli Mills at the Carrot Ranch.

The Rodeo consisted of four contests; one held each week during the month.

The contests were:

Modern Tall Tales

This contest required a 99 word (no more no less) tall tale that exaggerated something that happened to someone somewhere. It had to be exaggerated to the point it couldn’t possibly be true but could be humorous, sensational, or melodramatic from any genre.

Pro-Bull Mashup

In this contest, the 99 word (no more no less) stories were to use all three bull names (Bodacious, Nose Bender and Heartbreak Kid) as names, places or things. The stories were to combine two genres: game show and pirate but could include any tone or mode.

Three-Act Story

A 99 word (no more no less) story told in three acts with a recognisable beginning, middle and end was the requirement of the next contest. The story had to be about someone, set somewhere and in which something happens. It could include any tone or mood and be in any genre. No specific prompt for the story was given.

TUFF Beans

For this contest, the story had to include beans. Writers were instructed to submit four versions of a story: a first 99 word story, a 59 word reduction, a 9 word further reduction and then a final 99 word final.

I was both surprised and delighted to find that I was placed second in the Modern Tall Tales contest and first in the TUFF contest. You can read my stories along with other finalist and winning entries where they are collected on one page for your reading enjoyment in the 2019 Rodeo.

Congratulations

I congratulate all the other winners and finalists, and indeed everyone who entered the contests. By having a go and constantly striving to improve, we are all winners in the end.

Thank you

I am also very grateful for Charli’s ongoing encouragement and support and to the judges who generously gave their time to read all the entries. You can read about the judges and the judging process here.

Challenges

While writers were invited to submit only one entry into each contest, if they wrote but chose to not enter or if they wrote more than one response, they were invited to post their stories as challenges. Some of the stories submitted as challenges make mighty fine reading and you can read them all by following these links:

Modern Tall Tales Challengers

Pro-Bull Mashup Challengers

Three-Act Story Challengers

TUFF Beans Challengers

Carrot Ranch flash fiction challenge - winners

For this week’s prompt, Charli challenged writers to In 99 words (no more, no less), write a story about winners. Who are they, what’s the mood, and what did they win? Express emotion or subdue it. Go where the prompt leads!

This is my response. I hope you enjoy it.

Every Child Wins A Prize

Melissa goggled at the toy-laden shelves.

“Only $2 a ticket,” the vendor encouraged.

Melissa indicated a music box on the top shelf.

“You won’t win that. It’s just a ploy to get your money,” grumbled Mum.

“You won’t know if you don’t try,” he winked.

Melissa turned to Mum. “It’s my money.”

Mum humphed as Melissa parted with her coin.

The man fanned the envelopes, favouring one. “Take it,” he whispered.

Melissa ripped the envelope open and passed him the card.

“What did I win?”

The man handed the music box to Melissa.

“Prizes are for triers,” he smiled.

Thank you blog post

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

The 2019 Carrot Ranch Flash Fiction Rodeo Winners

November 28: Flash Fiction Challenge

The winners of the 2019 Flash Fiction Rodeo contests are announced!
In this post, Charli Mills discusses each contest, introduces the judges and the judging process, and includes a link to the page on which you can read all the finalist and winning stories. Is yours one of them? (One or two of mine get a mention — I’m over the moon!)

Carrot Ranch Literary Community

For those who rode in last month’s 2019 Flash Fiction Rodeo, this is the date you’ve anxiously awaited. I use the adverb with understanding. This past month, I’ve entered my writing in two contests and submitted it to two literary journals. Waiting for notification can induce anxiety, angst, and doubt. Know that every writer experiences the rollercoaster ride of doubt. Artists combat resistance. Maybe you didn’t participate in the Rodeo because the word contest unnerved you. This is Carrot Ranch, a safe place to write, a fun literary community where you can find kindred spirits, a weekly challenge that displays 99-word stories. A contest invites danger; it sparks resistance.

If you haven’t yet read Stephen Pressfield’s War of Art, it’s worth the read. Some of it will make you cringe. Some of it will make you determined. He’s an author who understands the artistic battlefield. He writes:

“Most of…

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young love #flashfiction

Young love #flash fiction

Carrot Ranch flash fiction challenge - romance

This week at the Carrot Ranch, Charli Mills challenged writers to In 99 words (no more, no less), write a romance. Focus on the relationship between two people. Build tension and end on a happy(ish) note. Go where the prompt leads!

I have been otherwise occupied the last couple of weeks, working to publisher deadlines that took precedence over my own, and haven’t been able to join in. I couldn’t let this one pass. I hope you like it.

True love

Although he’d written love notes and brought flowers nearly every day, he’d caught her unawares when, one morning, he whispered, “Will you marry me?”

His eyes glistened with hope, but she hesitated. She’d not encouraged him, not that way. How could she have anticipated this?

Crouching to look him in the eyes, she said, “Thank you for the compliment, Josh. You’re very sweet, but I can’t. I’m sorry.”

His lips quivered as he asked, “Why not, Miss Ruby?”

“Josh, I’m already married,” she said, showing her rings.

He was downcast momentarily, then suddenly brightened. “You could get a divorce?”

Thank you blog post

Thanks for reading. I appreciate your feedback. Please share your thoughts.

Death - It's just a stage we're going to flash fiction

Death — It’s just a stage we’re going to

The Carrot Ranch Flash Fiction Rodeo is over for another year and the weekly flash fiction challenges have resumed.

Carrot Ranch flash fiction challenge Day of the Dead

This week Charli Mills challenged writers to In 99 words (no more, no less) write a story about the Day of the Dead. It can be the Mexican holiday, a modern adaptation of it, a similar remembrance, or something entirely new. Go where the prompt leads!

I would have to say that, here in Australia, we have been rather insulated from the Halloween phenomena until recent years and it was only very recently that I became aware of the Mexican holiday Dia De Los Muertos, which celebrates the dead, remembering them and celebrating with them as if they were alive. What a wonderful way of keeping the memory of loved ones who have passed, alive.

We are not very good about discussing death in our culture, especially with children. Rather than accepted as a normal stage of life, it is kept secret as if to be feared. Yes, none of us want to go before we’re ready, but there isn’t one of us, as far as I know, who has found the secret of living (in this Earthly lifetime) forever.

The Tiny Star

The-Tiny-Star by Mem Fox

Last week I had the absolute joy of attending the launch of a lovely new picture book The Tiny Star, written by Mem Fox and beautifully illustrated by Freya Blackwood. The book is a joyous celebration of life’s journey from the beginning when ‘a tiny star fell to earth and turned into a baby’ until its return to the night sky where it would be ‘loving them from afar and watching over them … forever.’ The book provides a beautiful opportunity for discussing, even with very young children, the passage of time and the passing of loved ones in a way that is sensitive, respectful and meaningful. It is a book, just like each ‘star’, to be treasured. You can hear Mem read the book by following the link in the book’s title above and listen to her discussing the book with illustrator Freya Blackwood in this video.

The Fix-It Man

The Fix-It Man by Dimity Powell

Another lovely picture book that deals well with the topic of death for young children is The Fix-It Man, written by Dimity Powell and illustrated by Nicky Johnston. The book deals, sensitively and honestly, with a child’s grief at the loss of a parent. The child discovers that her father, who is usually able to fix any broken thing, is unable to fix her sick mother. Together the child and father find a way to support and strengthen each other through their grief and come to terms with their loss.

The Forever Kid

The Forever Kid by Elizabeth Cummings

The Forever Kid, written by Elizabeth Cummings and illustrated by Cheri Hughes, is another lovely picture book that sensitively tackles the topic of death, this time with the loss of a sibling. Each day, on the ‘forever’ child’s birthday, the family keeps his memory alive by celebrating with his favourite activity—lying on their backs on the grass telling cloud stories. Families who have experienced the loss of a child may be moved to find their own ways of remembering and celebrating the life that was. (I interviewed Elizabeth about The Forever Kid for readilearn here.)

Flash fiction challenge

So, back to Charli’s challenge to write about the Day of the Dead. While Halloween and the Day of the Dead have similarities (perhaps more to the uninitiated than to those in the know), they are not the same thing. However, my story is probably more like Halloween than the Day of the Dead. Oh well, that’s where the prompt took me, maybe because of the discussion about Halloween not being an Australian tradition that arises at this time every year, and perhaps because, in the 80s (anyone else remember that far back?) we teachers were instructed to not do anything involving Halloween or witches in our classrooms. That has now been revoked and many teachers work a little fun into their program with Halloween-themed activities. (As I suggested on readilearn recently.)

Anyway, here goes.

Full Bags, Dying Heart

From his room, Johnny watched the parade of monsters and ghouls wending from door to door. They laughed and giggled, whooped and cheered, clutching bags bulging with candy.

“Get inside,” she’d admonished.

“Why?”

“It’s the devil’s work. Dressing up like dead people. It’s not our way.”

She’d dragged him inside, shut the door and turned off the lights.

“We don’t want those nasty children knocking on our door.”

“But, Mum. It’s Graham and Gerard and even sweet Sue …”

“Enough! Get to your room!”

He watched, puzzled—How could it be devil’s work? They were his friends having fun.

Thank you blog post

Thank you for reading.

Note: I would have liked to write a sequel to this where Johnny sneaks out and joins his friends, but I ran out of time. Maybe another time.

I appreciate your comments. Please share your thoughts.