Category Archives: Flash fiction

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.

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women warrriors

Warrior Woman

This week at the Carrot Ranch Charli Mills has challenged writers to In 99 words (no more, no less) write a story about warrior women. It can be myth or everyday mothers and wives. Go where the prompt leads.

Warrior Women flash fiction challenge from the Carrot Ranch

A warrior is defined as a brave and experienced fighter, a soldier perhaps. While most of us will never be called upon to face the enemy on a battlefield, many will struggle to overcome obstacles of different kinds in their personal lives.

From a young age, children must be encouraged to find their inner strength, to overcome challenges large and small, to be resilient when faced with setbacks, to be confident to try again and to persist even when the going gets tough.

This is as true for boys as it is for girls, but sometimes it feels easier to encourage boys to be adventurous and girls to be sweet and demure. That this is changing is a good thing.

In response to Charli’s prompt, I looked for a warrior a little closer to home. I hope you like it.

Gertrude the Invincible

With flaming hair streaming and eyes blazing, Gertrude stood at the apex surveying the land, her land.  With one hand on a hip and the other raised high, she hurled her words into the wind.

I did it. I am the conqueror. You,” she pointed expansively with her spear, “are now my subjects. You do my bidding.”

The minions bowed before her.

“I am in-vinc-i-ble!”

“Gertie! Pick up your toys and come inside now. It’s dinner-time,” called Dad from the door.

Gertie complied. Even warriors need to eat. There’d be more conquests and enemies for Gertrude to vanquish tomorrow.

Note: Gertrude is a German name meaning spear and strength. As long as she is encouraged, I think this Gertrude will have little difficulty living up to her name (minus the spear).

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image of house with sold sign to support flash fiction story

Is the value of property more than money?

Charli Mills at the Carrot Ranch flash fiction prompt property values

This week at the Carrot Ranch Charli Mills has challenged writers to In 99 words (no more, no less) write a story about property values. Perhaps its a home, business or pencil museum. What makes them go up or down? Go where the prompt leads.

In my response, I’m adding a little more to Marnie’s story. As soon as she could, Marnie disappeared from her abusive family. It was years after her parents had died that the authorities found her. Though she’d travelled back to view the house in which she’d spent her early years, it held no fond memories and she instructed the solicitors to sell. In doing so she thought she’d closed the door on that chapter of her life.

This event occurs some months later and suggests that perhaps property values, as beauty is, are often in the eyes of the beholder.

Property values

The letter lay unopened for weeks. She had no more interest in its contents than she had in the house. She’d finished with all that when she told them to sell. Why were they contacting her now?

When a second envelope arrived bearing the same logo she thought to bin them both, but hesitated, and opened the first.

A cheque? She squinted at the numbers, then held it to the light. She counted the zeros, again. Really? How could a property that held so little value for her hold so much for someone else?

The second letter explained — developers.

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flash fiction story about cranes

Cranes – That’s stretching it!

This week at the Carrot Ranch, Charli Mills wrote about the different species of crane that inhabit North America and included an image of the stunning crowned grey crane.

crowned crane as part of the Carrot Ranch flash fiction challenge

I was fascinated by the story of an ornithologist and a crane and, when she challenged writers to In 99 words (no more, no less) write a story defining “the charisma of cranes”, I wondered why my mind drew a blank. I struggled to recall ever seeing a crane.

Charli’s additional information that “For centuries, cranes have inspired art and philosophy” and her suggestion that, “You can write a crane story or create something new out of the phrase. Go where the prompt leads”, didn’t make it any easier.

I consulted my favourite book of Birds of Australia. It listed only two cranes. One I knew of as the Brolga. The other, the Sarus Crane, I hadn’t heard of.

An online check confirmed the two species. The Brolga is famous for its dance and features in many Aboriginal legends and dances. At over 1 m tall and with a wingspan of 2.4 m, it is one of Australia’s largest flying birds. The Sarus Crane is rare and lesser known.

To my embarrassment, I also discovered that the Brolga is the bird emblem of my home state Queensland and appears on its Coat of Arms. Information about the Coat of Arms tells me that the Brolga is one of Queensland’s most distinctive birds and “symbolises the native population”.

Follow this link for information about the importance of the Brolga to Indigenous Australians and a video of an Aboriginal story.

More familiar to me are the cranes that dot the ever-changing city skyline as new buildings creep skywards.

For my response to Charli’s prompt, I’ve avoided the birds and employed two other meanings of crane. It might be stretching it a bit, but I hope you like it.

Living the nightmare

The shaft of light reflecting from the mirror jolted her awake.

“What time is it?” She fumbled for her phone. “Hell!” All night she’d craved sleep, then slept through. She pulled on yesterday’s clothes, ruffled her hair and charged out.

People packed the square so tight she couldn’t squeeze through. She craned her neck but, even on tiptoes, couldn’t see. She pushed into the tiniest gap on a ledge, only to be elbowed off. But she’d spotted a cherry picker. She climbed in, pushed a button and up she went; just as the crowd dispersed. She’d missed out again.

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Rough Writers Tour Around the World

Rough Writer Tour: Happy Trails

And so, the Rough Writers Tour Around the World is over. We’re back at the ranch with the lead Buckaroo Charli Mills, wrapping up the first adventure. This tour might be over, but the journey has just begun. Charli says, “Through writing together on projects of creative expression, we are on the trail to happiness. We ride the trail of peace.”
I respond, “The pen is mightier than the sword. Together our voices are stronger than one, but we don’t speak as one, we speak as a collective of individuals, supporting, and receiving the support of, an amazing leader. Doubters may have considered your vision a puff of cloud easily erased. But it is a rainbow of inspiration under which unicorns dance, writers write and readers read. How delighted I am to have shared in the journey.
If you haven’t yet, come and join us at the Carrot Ranch. There’s always room for more in the posse on the trail to happiness and peace.

Carrot Ranch Literary Community

Trails don’t ever end, even those headed into the setting sun of the iconic west. Our Rough Writer Tour has trailed around the world, and this is our last stop, but not the final destination.

When I was younger, I feared I’d run out of ideas to write. Now that I’m older, I know I’ll run out of days before the well of story ideas runs dry. Each week, I continue to marvel at the creative responses to a single prompt framed within 99 words, no more, no less. And each of those stories become beginnings.

Imagine taking all that creativity and harnessing it to one wagon. Now that’s a trail drive, and that’s the power of The Congress of Rough Writers Flash Fiction Anthology Vol. 1. Thirty-three writers banded together and created a compelling work of literary art.

The anthology extends far beyond that of a collection. It’s…

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more than just lines on a page

More than just lines on a page

This week at the Carrot Ranch, Charli Mills has challenged writers to In 99 words (no more, no less) use a line in your story. You can think of the variation of the word meaning, or you can think of visual references. Go where the prompt leads.

As an educator of young children, with a special interest in literacy development, I shouldn’t have needed to think for long. Although, there being so many possible ways of interpreting the prompt, I did. I finally decided on the lines that we as writers and artists make on the page, the meaning we assign to them, and the meaning others extract from them.

Children begin their journey into literacy by assigning meaning to marks they make upon the page and by realising that marks made by others also carry meaning. As their ability to both express and decipher develops, they come to realise that a text or image is more than the sum of the individual lines of which it consists. Communication deepens by interpreting and understanding the meaning conveyed below and between the marks.

The ability to both imply and infer meaning extends to the interpretation of facial expressions, body language and changes in the environment. We can accept what we see at face value or make a judgement about what may be implied or intended. While the messages are often considered obvious, misinterpretation is possible.

In response to Charli’s prompt, I’ve played with interpreting other lines. I hope you like it.

Reading between the lines - signs in the sand www.NorahColvin.com

Reading between the lines

Four lines of footprints stretched along the shore. A line, mostly unbroken, edged one side; the other, a sequence of dots. The smaller prints danced lightly. The larger dragged heavily with one foot sideways. Criss-crosses of triple-pronged seagulls’ prints failed to obscure, unlike the smudge of ocean’s wet kisses. Tiny crabs scuttled their own story tracks through weeds, shells and stones coughed up by the sea. Beyond a collapsed castle, the footprints continued. In the distance—rocks. So far?  He accelerated. Didn’t they know the tide had turned?  Caught in the moment, they’d missed the signs. Lucky he didn’t.

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Rough Writers Tour Around the World Ruchira Khanna

Rough Writer Tour: Ruchira Khanna

The final stop on the Rough Writers Tour Around the World before we head back to the Ranch next week is with Ruchira Khanna from California. Ruchira writes about her experiences of life in India and America in books that are best sellers.
Read on to find out more about Ruchira.

Carrot Ranch Literary Community

One of the benefits of writing flash fiction with a community of writers comes from getting to know each writer and watching his or her literary art flourish.

Ruchira Khanna’s writing bridges two worlds (India and America) just as her latest book tackles what the immigrant experience is like, coming to the US for school, jobs, new friends and love interests, but yearning for parents and home-connections, as well. Her book, Breathing Two Worlds portrays the experience through language and story-telling.

Voyagers into the Unknown, Ruchira’s earlier fiction novel released January 2016 hit # 1 as Hot New Release in Amazon India and #8 as a Best Seller. Again, she melds a multitude of cultural experiences into an enjoyable, world-perspective read.

It’s been a joy to watch her author career unfold. Today, Ruchira hosts at her blog Abracabadra, sharing the anthology she contributes to as a Rough Writer.

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