Category Archives: Flash fiction

results of the Carrot Ranch Fracture Fairy Tale Flash Fiction contest

Rodeo #4: Fractured Fairy Tales Winners

The results of the Carrot Ranch Flash Fiction Contest #4 Fractured Fairy Tales are now posted at the Carrot Ranch. Pop on over to find out who the winners are and to read all the qualifying entries.
Thanks to all who entered for giving us a fun and entertaining read.

Carrot Ranch Literary Community

By Norah Colvin

Fairy Tales — Fractured in 99 Words

Once upon a time on a virtual ranch,
Was a whole bunch of writers wanting a chance
To fracture a tale in no more and no less
Than 99 words to show who was the best.

The judges were ready, no red pen in sight
And sent out the prompt for writers to write.
In trickled stories one after one
Till time was up and the contest was done.

The judges then read them and read them some more
The stories that numbered ten times four.
They pondered, selected and collaborated
Till agreement was reached on the #1 rated.

Thank you, contestants. We judges, Anne Goodwin, Robbie Cheadle and I, had a wonderful time reading your stories and thank you for submitting them to the Fractured Fairy Tale Contest.

Although many traditional fairy tales begin with ‘Once upon…

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flash fiction kept in the dark

Kept in the dark

Have you ever engaged in an experiment to see how bean seeds grow when kept in the dark compared to how they grow when provided with sunlight? It’s an experiment familiar to many school children. The purpose of the experiment is to show that light is needed for the seeds to grow and children soon find that those kept in the dark do not thrive.

My father used to say that what you don’t know doesn’t hurt you. He wasn’t happy when my brother wrote in my autograph book that what you don’t know doesn’t do you much good either.

what you don't know won't do you much good either

© Norah Colvin

Although my parents were keen for my siblings and me to get a good education, there were some things about which they preferred to keep us in the dark — secret adult things. It seems they thought some knowledge might be dangerous, so they were selective in what we were told.

I am of the opposite view, thinking that a lack of knowledge may be even more dangerous. Just as bean seeds don’t thrive in the dark, minds can’t thrive if kept in the dark either.

Nowadays, in schools, there is an emphasis on the need for being explicit in our teaching, of making sure that children know what they will be learning, what is expected of them and why.

In my childhood days, if a reason was given, it was often ‘Because I said so’ or ‘Because it is’. I much prefer the modern way and, as with many things, believe that knowledge begets knowledge. It is difficult to be interested in something about which you know nothing. But knowing, even just a little, can stimulate curiosity to know more.

I have written about this belief before in posts such as Child’s play —the science of asking questions, Visioning a better school, a better way of educating, and Reflect and refine, to name but a few.

Into the dark flash fiction prompt at the Carrot Ranch

This week at the Carrot Ranch, Charli Mills wrote about the darkness we feel when we’ve lost our guiding star, or when the spark of creativity has dimmed. She challenged writers to In 99 words (no more, no less) write a story using the phrase “into the dark.” What must a character face? Write about an encounter, journey, relationship, or quest. Follow the ship’s lights on gloomy seas. Go where the prompt leads you.

Funnily enough, the prompt took me to neither darkness of the mind nor heart, but to the literal darkness of a stormy night. I hope you enjoy it.

Stepping into the unfamiliar

The car lights dimmed as she reached the door – timed perfectly. But, when the porch light didn’t activate, immersing her in total darkness, she cursed the storm. As she pushed the door of the still unfamiliar house, she rummaged for her phone. Dang! No charge. She inched along the wall, fingers seeking the corner and toes the step she knew was close. Stepping down, she dumped her bag and tossed her saturated scarf. She edged towards the sideboard and a battery-powered candelabra. As she fumbled for the switch, the room was flooded with light and cheers of ‘Happy housewarming!’

Thank you blog post

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

Travel with a Twist Carrot Ranch Flash Fiction Rodeo results

Rodeo #3: Travel with a Twist Winners

The results of the Carrot Ranch Rodeo #3 Travel with a Twist are in. Congratulations to the winners! Well done to all the entrants and the judges!

Carrot Ranch Literary Community

By Sherri Matthews

Well, we asked for travel stories with a twist, and we got ‘em.  Thank you so much to all who entered, 29 in all. You’ve taken us around the world (twice), to Rome and through most of Europe, to Morocco, Lima, on sun-drenched holidays including the Caribbean and Hawaii, up mountains, along the coast, to a Harry Potter conference in San Francisco, a monastery, Lake Michigan, Key West, Rock Springs and the weird and wonderful Garbled Creese. We’ve walked, ran and hiked, and travelled by car, cruise ship, plane, bus, motorhome, and broomstick.

The high quality and enjoyment of every story, however, did not make it easy for the judges.  I don’t like this part of the job! First, I verified every story’s word count and sadly had to eliminate 2, one just under, one just below 99 words. Then we narrowed it down with each of…

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Anne Goodwin author of Becoming Someone, an anthology of short stories

You know who you are: Becoming Someone

I am delighted to jump aboard Anne Goodwin’s blog tour promoting her newest book of short stories Becoming Someone. While I don’t usually participate in blog tours, I couldn’t pass up this opportunity as Anne and I have been friends almost since the beginning of my blogging days.

Anne was not the first person I met when I began blogging, but she is the earliest to still be with me on my journey. Interestingly, we met on Twitter where a discussion about singing (or not) led to a blog post and then countless conversations on her blog and mine over the past (almost) five years. I am extremely grateful for her encouragement and support as I discovered who I might become in the blogging world. Even when I’m not so sure*, Anne is always there to give me something to think about.

Back in those early days, just over four years ago, I had the pleasure of meeting Anne in London when I was visiting family. Although it was quite a lengthy journey for her (not quite as far as from Australia but it wasn’t a day trip for me), Anne didn’t hesitate to meet up. We met at the British Library and, during the course of the day, Anne revealed a secret – she had secured a contract for her first novel Sugar and Snails. She was already an award-winning and published writer of short stories, but now she could add novelist to her achievements. I was so thrilled to be one of the first to be let into the secret and I told her that I was pleased to have known her before she became famous.

Now Anne’s second novel Underneath is also published and a third (and maybe fourth) is in progress. I had been a fan of Anne’s short stories before either of her novels were published, so am now delighted that she has collected some of her stories together into an anthology Becoming Someone to be launched with a huge Launch Party on Facebook tomorrow 23 November 2018. Everyone is welcome so make sure you drop in to say “Hi” and pick up your copy of her book. (I believe she is offering virtually anything you wish to eat or drink.)

But perhaps I shouldn’t ramble on too long with my memories and instead let Anne introduce herself to you through her official bio.

Anne Goodwin author

Anne Goodwin, author of Becoming Someone, a collection of short stories

Anne Goodwin’s debut novel, Sugar and Snails was shortlisted for the 2016 Polari First Book Prize. Her second novel, Underneath, was published in 2017. Her short story collection, Becoming Someone, on the theme of identity launches on Facebook on November 23rd, 2018, where the more people participate the more she’ll donate to Book Aid International. A former clinical psychologist, Anne is also a book blogger with a particular interest in fictional therapists.

Alongside her identity as a writer, she’ll admit to being a sociable introvert; recovering psychologist; voracious reader; slug slayer; struggling soprano; and tramper of moors.

Becoming Someone by Anne Goodwin

Becoming Someone blurb

cover of Becoming Someone by Anne Goodwin

What shapes the way we see ourselves?

An administrator is forced into early retirement; a busy doctor needs a break. A girl discovers her sexuality; an older man explores a new direction for his. An estate agent seeks adventure beyond marriage; a photojournalist retreats from an overwhelming world. A woman reduces her carbon footprint; a woman embarks on a transatlantic affair. A widow refuses to let her past trauma become public property; another marks her husband’s passing in style.

Thought-provoking, playful and poignant, these 42 short stories address identity from different angles, examining the characters’ sense of self at various points in their lives. What does it mean to be a partner, parent, child, sibling, friend? How important is work, culture, race, religion, nationality, class? Does our body, sexuality, gender or age determine who we are?

Is identity a given or can we choose the someone we become?

Becoming Someone published 23rd November, 2018 by Inspired Quill

Paperback ISBN: 978-1-908600-77-6 / 9781908600776

eBook ISBN: 978-1-908600-78-3 / 9781908600783

Amazon author page viewauthor.at/AnneGoodwin

Author page at Inspired Quill publishers http://www.inspired-quill.com/authors/anne-goodwin/

Note: Important Addendum from Anne

If anyone was considering buying a digital version of Becoming Someone, I wanted to alert you to the fact that there’s been a technical hitch with the link to the e-book on Amazon. We hope this will be fixed soon but, in the meantime, it’s available it at the same price through the publishers here:
http://www.inspired-quill.com/product/becoming-someone-kindle-ebook/

Facebook launch in support of Book Aid International https://www.facebook.com/events/285314412085573/

Becoming Someone Facebook launch

Becoming Someone Facebook launch https://www.facebook.com/events/285314412085573/

An online party to celebrate the publication of my first short story anthology, Becoming Someone.

Drop in at your own convenience wherever you are in the world, I’ll be here to entertain you from morning coffee to pre-dinner drinks.

The more actively people participate, the more I’ll donate to Book Aid International.

To find out more about Anne and her books

visit her website: annegoodwin.weebly.com

connect with her on Twitter @Annecdotist

or check out these other posts on her blog tour:

Becoming Someone blog tour

Special Offer

Sugar and Snails special offer

Through November, in celebration of the publication of Becoming Someone, Anne has a special promotion of her debut novel Sugar and Snails.  It is discounted to 99p or equivalent (Kindle version) until the end of the month. viewbook.at/SugarandSnails

Becoming Someone: Teaser

As well as on our own blogs, Anne and I have kept in touch at the Carrot Ranch where we participate in the weekly flash fiction challenges set by Charli Mills. Anne was also kind enough to support me in judging the recent fractured fairy tale contest held as part of the Carrot Ranch Flash  Fiction Rodeo. (Note: The results of that contest will be published at the Carrot Ranch on 7 December.)

Knowing how much I enjoy fractured fairy tales, Anne has kindly allowed me to share an extract from her fractured fairy tale Reflecting Queenie which features in her anthology Becoming Someone. I wonder if you’ll be able to recognise which fairy tale Anne has fractured. If not, then you might just have to read the whole story in her book.😊

Reflecting Queenie teaser for Becoming Someone by Anne Goodwin

Reflecting Queenie

Queenie would not have wanted me there, but she could hardly expect Dad to attend her trial alone. So I sat beside him in the public gallery as he held himself as still as his Parkinson’s would permit, while the prosecution ripped her personality apart. It was a straightforward case of jealousy, they said, and only Queenie seemed surprised when the jury returned a guilty verdict.

Up until that point, she’d kept herself aloof, not quite focused on anyone, or anything. Now she raised her head towards the gallery and found me. Her fear and confusion beat against my skin, fighting to penetrate my mind. I stayed firm and let it all bounce back to her, as if I were a bat, and she the ball.

I was not quite three when my mother decided I had special powers. As she told me later, it was the only explanation for the way I seemed to anticipate her every move. She’d be thinking about making an apple pie and before she’d opened her mouth I’d be wrestling the baking bowl out of the cupboard. She’d be wondering how her Gran was getting on and, before she knew it, I’d be pushing a pad of Basildon Bond into her hand.

“How did you know?” she’d ask again and again and, since I hadn’t the words to tell her, she concluded I was telepathic.

I was four when my baby brother fractured our blissful duet. It didn’t matter then if she was thinking about baking or writing a letter, his slightest whimper drew her to him. “What is it?” she crooned. “Are you hungry? Do you want your nappy changing?”

Her sing-song voice embarrassed me. She sounded wrong in the head. As if she were unable to distinguish between a scream of hunger and a summons to clean him up.

Weeks passed before I realised she genuinely couldn’t tell the difference. That her ears received each cry in my brother’s repertoire in an identical way. I realised that if I didn’t call out “He’s hungry” or “He’s lonely” the moment the baby started to grizzle, we’d never have baked any pies or written any letters again.

My mother would look at me in wonder as the baby latched on to her nipple or gurgled in her arms. “How did you know?”

Without a spell at nursery to acclimatise me to other children, school entered my life with a bang. If I’d thought my baby brother was noisy, it was nothing compared to the playground racket. At first I kept to the edge, intimidated by the terrible uniformity of the other children. I leant against the fence and watched, while I worked out how to survive the confusion, how to remember which blonde-haired blue-eyed little girl was Judith and which was Mandy. Which of my classmates liked Smarties and which preferred Fruit Pastilles. Who walked to school and who travelled by bus.

When the first of the children jabbed me on the chest, I was prepared. “What’s my name?” she demanded.

I told her.

She giggled. “How did you know?”

Another sauntered up. “When’s my birthday?”

Again, I told her.

“How did you know?”

After that, I was never alone in the playground. The other children could always find a use for my attentiveness. I’d skip along with a gaggle of girls hanging onto my arms. In the early years I suppose it made them feel secure that someone could tell them who they were. Later, their requirements became more sophisticated. Will I get to star in the Nativity play? Does Pamela really like me or is she pretending so she can play on my bike? I answered as best I could. I took their questions inside me and reported what I felt. You’re not right for Mary but you’ll make a great shepherd. Yes, Pamela likes you but she likes your new bike even more.

Although in demand, I never took my position for granted. There was always the chance that one day I’d say something inconvenient and be pushed back against the fence. When the teacher wrote on my report, Myra is a popular girl, I knew it was provisional. I knew deep down I was no different from the kids who were left to themselves because, when people looked at them, they didn’t like what they saw. So I made sure that when my classmates looked at me all they could see was themselves.

When my report described me as good at art, I knew I’d convinced even the grownups there was no more to me than their own reflection. True, my sketches of my friends were well observed. But when I drew myself I could only manage a black outline, an empty space within.

Becoming Someone Facebook launch

*I was one of ten. When my mother wanted me to do something for her, she would often rattle off half a dozen names before she could think of mine. In fact, she couldn’t always bring my name to mind and would sometimes say, “Well, you know who you are.” It has been a long-standing family joke. But, I’m not sure if she was right. I’m not sure if I know who I am, or whether I just know who I am becoming; hopefully becoming someone who is better each day than the one before. I just know I am going to love Anne’s stories, won’t you?

Thank you blog post

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

results of the Carrot Ranch flash fiction memoir contest

Rodeo #2: Memoir Winners

Results for the Carrot Ranch Flash Fiction Rodeo Contest #2 Memoir are in. “She did it” was the prompt; and she did it, she won, but do you know who it was and what she did? Check out the results at the Carrot Ranch and join me in congratulating the winners, the runners-up and all contestants. Well done, everyone!

Carrot Ranch Literary Community

By Irene Waters

She Did It was the prompt for the memoir ride in the Rodeo.

The four judges were given a judging sheet: was it a complete story, grammar, and spelling, structure, use of language, adherence to memoir rules (not accusing, showing the bad- not telling, reflection and was it believable) and then a subjective score worth 35% of the marks.

I couldn’t have asked for better judges with Helen, Angie, Gil and myself all being diligent in reading and evaluating the pieces.

Reading memoir is quite different from reading fiction. As a reader of memoir, you have a pact with the writer that you will believe the facts being told and this, makes the focus of your reading change. You read to gain understanding, to see how someone has coped and how it has changed their life. Memoir also touches our emotions and shows us ways of dealing…

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a selection of potato dishes

How do you like those potatoes?

Now that the 2018 Carrot Ranch Flash Fiction Rodeo has ended and winners of each contest are being announced weekly, the regular flash fiction challenges have resumed.

Carrot Ranch flash fiction mashed potato super power prompt

This week, Charli Mills challenged writers to: In 99 words (no more, no less) write a story that pairs mashed potatoes with a superpower. It can be in any circumstance, funny or poignant. Go where the prompt leads.

A month or two ago on readilearn, I wrote a post titled Learning to be friends — unleash your friendship superpower.  In that post, I suggested that we need to

Help children to see that, although they may have some special friends, they can be friendly towards everyone. No one should be excluded. Everyone should be included.

Explain that being friendly towards others encourages others to be friendly towards them. Being a friend is like a superpower. It helps everyone, including yourself, have a good day.”

ideas for teaching friendship skills in early childhood classrooms

I also discussed some new and existing resources to support the teaching of friendship skills in early childhood classrooms.

How could I not choose friendship as my superpower, but how could I mash it with potatoes as Charli suggested?

Of course, there is the Wiggles song Hot Potato that includes mashed banana, why not mashed potato?

And there is the popular party game Hot Potato where everyone sits in a circle and passes an object like a ball, bean bag, or even a potato around the circle while music plays. Whoever is holding the object when the music stops is out, so it is important to pass it quickly, like a hot potato, so as to not be caught with it. Could the game be played with mashed potato? It could get rather messy, I think.

fist game one potato two potato

When I was a child, we used to play an elimination game using the song One potato, Two potatoes. Everyone would stand in a circle and put out both fists. “It” would go around the circle, bumping each fist in turn. Whichever fist was bumped on ‘more’ would be put behind the player’s back. The song and actions would then be repeated until only one fist (one player) remained.

Then, of course, there is the Mr Potato Head toy which made a comeback in the Toy Story movies.

Singing songs and playing games, including these, is always a great way to help develop that friendship superpower.

Although I’ve presented quite a mash of potato ideas, I haven’t even mentioned real potatoes yet.

If I stayed with childhood stories, I would say that mashed potato was a regular feature of evening meals with a humble serving blobbed unceremoniously on the plate. Roast potatoes were traditional for Sunday lunch and always much preferred. I never saw mashed potato as anything to get excited over, but Hub, who hails from Northern Ireland, has high praise for the champ of his younger days.  Though I’ve tried, my attempts haven’t ever matched his expectations. I am surprised to see that mash is now a popular item on many restaurant menus —not quite so humble anymore, and perhaps a healthier choice than chips, which seem to be served with nearly everything.

So where to for a mashed potato superhero? Sometimes you need to look no further than the plate in front of you.

Here’s my response.

If only

Jake pushed the plate away.  “Don’t like mash.”

Mum sighed and turned away.

As Jake stared at the potato, out popped a tiny, lumpy, and obviously grumpy, old man. He shook his fists.

Jake leaned forward. “Pardon?”

“I’m leaving.”

“Why?”

“Ya always push me away. Say ya’d rather chips or roasties. Doncha know we’re all the same—inside—only outside’s different.”

“Didn’t think—”

“Your kind—unkindness—never do. Gotta learn ta look beyond the differences, kid. Learn ta love us all.”

“Wait—”

“What?” said Mum, turning as Jake scooped the last spoonful of mash into his mouth.

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

 

 

 

Winners of #1 Carrot Ranch Flash Fiction Contest: Dialog

Rodeo #1: Dialog Winners

And the results of #1 Carrot Ranch Flash Fiction Contest are in. Congratulations to the winners, honourable mentions and all who entered. Read the winning entries in the Carrot Ranch post and follow the link to read all entries. What a fabulous read!

Carrot Ranch Literary Community

Well, it’s over, and we judges have had a blast. It looks like you people did too. In all, we received 38 entries. Only a couple failed on word count, a couple of others didn’t stick rigidly to dialogue, but most of you were very good and complied with the rules. Even managing to make something from what was a tricky picture prompt.

Yes, that is me, and that is a giant tortoise; my family spent a day behind the scenes at London Zoo, including feeding these magnificent reptiles. My daughter is responsible for capturing me having the brief catch up…

Before we get down to the business end a few general thoughts:

  • In a fair few cases, there was still some ‘telling’. When you only have 99 words you really mustn’t. You have to leave a lot to the reader’s imagination, let them work it out. Sometimes the best…

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