Category Archives: Flash fiction

Carrot Ranch Tuff writing contest

TUFF Flash Fiction Contest Part Three

Part three of the Carrot Ranch 2020 Rodeo TUFF contest is now underway. Time to sharpen those pens again. Good luck everyone!

Carrot Ranch Literary Community

How are you doing TUFF rodeo writers?

You should be familiar with your 99-word story by now (Part One), and hopefully, you have spent some time exploring your story from different points of view (Part Two). TUFF is The Ultimate Flash Fiction and those of you daring enough to enter this progressive contest are spending a month on a single story taking it from draft to revision.

Part Three is your final tool in the process. It’s the tightest word reduction of your story: 9 words. That’s not a typo. The word count isn’t missing a double-digit. It’s nine words that you can count on your hands, presuming you didn’t lose any fingers riding bulls at your last rodeo.

Why so few words? This is a tool to arrive at the heart of your story. It’s the hook to interest a reader. Think of taglines from…

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Chores flash fiction

Chores #flashfiction

A discussion about whether children should be expected to complete set chores is always peppered with a variety of viewpoints.

I don’t remember having set chores when I was growing up, but there was always the expectation that we kids (ten of us) would do a bit to help out. Some of the tasks included sweeping, doing the dishes, hanging out or bringing in the washing, going to the shops for items such as bread and milk, selling the produce from Dad’s vegetable garden around the neighbourhood or looking after the younger siblings.

Some of the chores were more enjoyable than others and, I must admit, I was often chore-deaf when I was reading a book, which was most of the time. I must also admit that I didn’t always complete the chores to Mum’s satisfaction, particularly sweeping. I don’t know why but I just couldn’t seem to sweep up all the dirt. She would often say that I had given it a ‘lick and a promise’. I probably thought, but never aloud (hopefully), that maybe if she wanted it done well, then she should perhaps do it herself.

I must also admit that some things never change. I am still not fond of housework and would rather be reading or writing than sweeping (or vacuuming and mopping) anytime, and often as I complete (I use this word lightly) these chores, I am reminded of Mum’s words. Next time, I think. Next time.

This week at the Carrot Ranch, Charli Mills challenged writers to In 99 words (no more, no less), write a story about chores. It doesn’t have to be a western ranch chore; it can be any routine task. Go where the prompt leads!

I, of course, have gone with the lick and a promise of a BOTS (fiction based on a true story). However, before I share my story, I’d like to share with you another post I recently read that has some relevance to the topic.

In his post Extrinsic Rewards Reduce Intrinsic Motivation: Using Psychology to Pick Up More Followers, Jim Borden discussed the suggestion that inferior work is submitted when extrinsic rewards such as stars, grades, payment or other rewards are given.

Jim wondered (not really seriously) if we should ‘pay’ children to not do the things they don’t like doing; for example (if I’ve understood him correctly), I could have been paid to not sweep. Because, if I was being paid to not sweep, my dislike of not sweeping would increase. If the payment was gradually reduced, then removed altogether, perhaps I would so much want to sweep (the opposite of what I was being paid for) I wouldn’t be able to help myself. Since I wasn’t ever paid to sweep (at home – there was no pocket money), I am unable to even consider the difference it may have made. (You might want to read Jim’s post to untangle my faulty thinking from his.)

I’m not sure it would work, but if anyone wanted to pay me to not do housework to test this theory, I’d certainly be willing to give it a try.

Anyway, here’s my story, in memory of my Mum whose words continue to influence my thinking if not my actions.

A Lick and A Promise

Lisa dropped her bag, discarded her shoes, and darted down the hall.

“Where are you off to, miss?” called her mother.

“Read.”

“You’ve got chores first.”

“Did them this morning.”

“Did them? Ha! Was no more than a lick and a promise.”

“But, Mum. I’m up to the last chapter.”

“No buts. You’ll do your chores before anything else.”

Lisa muttered as she stomped to the broom closet.

“And don’t give me any more of that lip or you’ll be reading on the other side of your face for a week.”

When I’m an adult … Lisa promised herself.

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Carrot RODEO #2: DOUBLE ENNEAD SYLLABIC POETRY

And here’s the second contest in the 2020 Carrot Ranch Rodeo. If you like a challenge – particulalry of the poetic form – then this one’s for you! Rustle on over to Colleen’s blog for all the details.

Word Craft ~ Prose & Poetry

Welcome to the Carrot Ranch Rodeo! This challenge is sponsored by the Carrot Ranch Literary Community at carrotranch.com and run by lead Buckaroo, Charli Mills.

Almost everyone knows my love for syllabic poetry; especially haiku, tanka, cinquain, and more. Woo HOO! I’ve got something special wrangled up for this challenge!

For this year’s rodeo, I’ve created a special form called the Double Ennead. The word Ennead means nine, and a double nine is ninety-nine! Carrot Ranch is famous for 99-word flash fiction. Now, the ranch has its own syllabic poetry form written in 99 syllables!

The Double Ennead comprises five lines with a syllable count of 6/5/11/6/5, (33 SYLLABLES per stanza) 3 STANZAS EACH = 99 SYLLABLES, NO MORE, NO LESS!

The Carrot Ranch Double Ennead

Carrot Ranch Rodeo is calling all poets round up all the word players, now's the time to ride let's wrangle syllables and build…

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Carrot Ranch flash fiction TUFF part 2

TUFF Flash Fiction Contest Part Two

And the TUFF Carrot Ranch contest continues …
Have you already written your first draft 99-word flash fiction? If not, there’s still time. And now Charli presents us with the second part of the TUFF contest – to write two 59-word reductions, each from a different POV. Pop over to the Carrot Ranch to find out more.

Carrot Ranch Literary Community

Welcome back TUFF, rodeo writers!

By now, you’ve figured out you have an entire month to work on your flash fiction entry to TUFF (The Ultimate Flash Fiction). That might lull you into complacency. It might tempt you to disregard the contest until the very end (October 26 when the submission form goes live with the final part). Let me convince you otherwise.

Mastering TUFF in its flash fiction form teaches you the skills every fiction writer needs. We all have to draft and we all have to revise. TUFF can be a tool to work on your story with progressive word constraints.

Last week, in TUFF Part One, you drafted a 99-word story. Do. Not. Touch. It. A raw draft is a raw draft. Let it be. What comes next are the tools of your writing craft. Use the next two constraints to revise your final 99-word story…

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Kid Gloves flash fiction

Kid Gloves #flashfiction

When I was a little kid (of the human kind — I kid you not), one of the stories I most disliked was The Wolf and the Seven Little Kids.

In case you have forgotten, the story told of a wolf who came a-knocking when Mother Goat was out. He used a variety of cunning tricks to entice the kids to open the door and let him in.

The things I didn’t like about the story were many and include:

  • that the mother goat left the kids at home on their own
  • the tricks that the wolf used
  • that the kids were tricked into letting him in
  • that the wolf ate the kids
  • that the mother goat cut the wolf open
  • that when the mother goat cut the wolf open, the kids popped out alive and well (what an awful experience)
  • that the goats filled the wolf’s stomach with stones and he drowned in the well.

Overall, I found the story very distressing and mean. Even then I preferred themes of kindness in my stories as much as in the world.

According to the original Grimm’s story, food was all the wolf was after, but is it possible he had another scheme in mind?

This week at the Carrot Ranch, Charli Mills challenged writers to In 99 words (no more, no less), write a story that includes kid gloves. A prop in the hands of a character should further the story. Why the gloves? Who is that in the photo, and did he steal Kids’ gloves (of the Kid and Pal duo)? Consider different uses of the phrase, too. Go where the prompt leads!

Perhaps you already know where I’m going with this.

Kid Gloves for Sale

Wolf covered his sinister smile with a pleasant facade as he organised a stall between Little Red Hen’s Home-Made Bread and Pig Brothers’ Home Improvements. Dinner could wait. He was hoping for a killing of another kind — monetary — selling his home-made kid gloves.

When an unlikely pair of cowpokes enquired about the origins of his leather, he was evasive. When asked his whereabout the previous week, he attempted to flee; but the recently deputised Pal and Kid were too fast and snapped on the hand cuffs. “We arrest you for the disappearance and suspected murder of seven little kids.”

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Folk tale or fable flash fiction writing contest

Writing Rodeo FREE Contest

Here’s the first weekly Carrot Ranch Rodeo Flash Fiction Contest for 2020 – a Western Folk Tale or Fable in just 99 words. What could be easier than that, right? Just write.

Allusionary Assembly

This year, spin a yarn as long as the Rio Grande (in 99 words, that is) to be a contender in a Western-themed Folk Tale or Fable event of the Carrot Ranch Writing Rodeo

Yours truly is the leader for this event, so saddle up, round ‘em up, and write those words for a shot at winning a $25 Amazon Gift Card and your work immortalized at https://CarrotRanch.com/

How do you participate?

SIMPLE! Write ONE original folk tale or fable in 99 words. Exactly 99 words (not including title and byline) *Don’t publish the piece anywhere until after the contest is completed (The end of November, 2020) because we want the blind judging to be fair and uninfluenced.

Is there an entry fee? NO, Cowfolk! No Entry Fee!

Can I enter more than one story? No, one only. Sorry.

Deadline? All entries must be…

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Kid and Pal Down Under Flash Fiction

Kid and Pal Down Under #flashfiction

Dusty Trails 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 that happens on the dusty trail. It can take place anywhere. Who is your character, where are they going, and why? Bonus points if they meet up with Kid and Pal from D. Avery’s Ranch Yarns and Saddle Up Saloon (they hit the trail so TUFF could take over the saloon). Go where the prompt leads!

I thought Kid and Pal might like to spend a little of their downtime in the Australian Outback. It is down-time after all.

On the Trail Down Under

The hooves thundered along the trail kicking up a storm of dust. Mary watched the cloud clear the trees and turn towards her across the home paddock.

How often had the boys been told to not push their horses so hard?

“Might as well talk to a dead cow,” her dad always said.

Before they’d reined in their mounts, Mary was outside, ready to give them a serve.

“Mum! Mum! It’s Kid and Pal. They’re here,” they shouted.

Mary sighed. Hadn’t they outgrown imaginary friends?

Her jaw dropped when, out of the dust, two figures materialised. “G’day,” they said.

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Coffee Crunch Time flash fiction

Crunch Time

Carrot Ranch - Snack flash fiction

This week at the Carrot Ranch, Charli Mills challenged writers to In 99 words (no more, no less), write a story about snacking. It can feature crunchy snacks or creamy one. Who is snacking on what and why? How can you make this a story? Go where the prompt leads!

In my response, I’ve concentrated more on the crunch than the snack. It should have been creamy, but that’s how life goes sometimes.

Have you ever had one of those days where nothing seems to go right and, just when you think it’s turned a corner, something else pops up to surprise you? This is about one of those days. I hope you enjoy it.

Crunch Time

“I really need this today,” she said.

“Bad day?” asked the waiter, placing the coffee on the table.

“Yeah,” she sighed.

“Coffee’ll fix it,” he said. “I made it myself.”

She smiled, thinking of all the I-made-it-myself gifts received over the years.

With eyes closed, she scooped the delicious chocolatey froth into her mouth.

Then her eyes popped. There shouldn’t be anything crunchy in a cappuccino. She pushed the crunchy bit out on her tongue.

A fly! She spurted the remaining contents of her mouth over the table as a student and parent passed.

“Are you okay?” they asked.

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#flash fiction The Mice Ate My Homework

The Mice Ate My Homework #flashfiction

Carrot Ranch Flash Fiction - Mice

This week at the Carrot Ranch, Charli Mills challenged writers to In 99 words (no more, no less), write a story of mice. It can feature any variety of the little critters in any situation. Are the the character or the inciting incident? Use any genre, including BOTS (based on a true story). Go where the prompt leads!

I can’t think about mice without thinking of Rose Fyleman’s poem in which she states, ‘I think mice are rather nice.’

It’s a poem I’m sure nearly everyone must have learned sometime at school.

While I’m more included to agree with the people Rose says ‘don’t seem to like them much’, they figure in many stories for children and are usually portrayed as cute and adorable.

Possum Magic by Mem Fox

Even Hush in Possum Magic, one of my favourite Mem Fox picture books, started her journey as a mouse before being editorially transformed into a very cute and very adorable invisible possum.

The three blind mice with their severed tails may not be quite so cute, but really mice are everywhere, as Pussycat confirmed in his report on visiting the Queen.

A familiar tale is that of the pet dog eating the homework. But what if it wasn’t the dog, it was mice instead? Would that be more believable? That’s where I’ve gone in response to Charli’s prompt. I hope you like it.

The Mice Ate My Homework

“What happened to your homework this time?”

“It was mice, Miss.”

“I thought you got rid of the mice.”

“We did. In the house. But I left my bag in the car last night.”

“Hmm?”

“The car was in the shed.”

“Should’ve been safe there.”

“It would, except —”

“Except?”

“Tommy forgot to let Rusty out.”

“So?”

“Rusty usually chases the mice away.”

“And?”

“Dad accidentally left the window down. The mice got in and —”

“They ate your homework?”

“They thought it was tasty, Miss.”

“That’s not a smear of peanut butter there, is it?”

“Definitely not, Miss!”

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tuning in to the outback radio flash fiction

Tuning In #Flashfiction

This week at the Carrot Ranch, Charli Mills challenged writers to In 99 words (no more, no less), write a story that includes something heard on the radio. It can be from any station or era. What is heard? A song, announcement, ad? Think of how radion (sic) connects people and places. Go where the prompt leads!

Carrot Ranch flash fiction prompt radio

My response is not a story. It is a reflection on a moment in time. As a child, I loved visiting my aunts, uncles and cousins on their Queensland stations. I hadn’t yet developed an interest in the news or felt it had a significance in my life and was fascinated by the importance it was given in these rural households. It’s understandable when I realise how much their lives were affected by things they couldn’t affect such as stock prices and the weather.

My uncle used to talk to the news report saying things like, “Go on, eh?” or “Is that right?” as if he was in conversation with the reporter. It was very endearing, but it also amused me knowing that the reporter was unable to hear him.

Nowadays, I find myself talking to the television news reporters in less endearing ways when I correct their grammar and terminology. I won’t be able to think of them all now — there’d be too many anyway — but here are three that really bug me:

  1. The use of ‘infer’ when the mean ‘imply’.
  2. Reporting that a vehicle lost control rather than the driver lost control. Until self-drive vehicles are readily available, I think the driver should be in control.
  3. Overuse of the word ‘left’, for example, ‘the man was left injured after the accident’. Surely, he was injured in the accident and not left anywhere. I’d understand it better if he was left on the platform after the train departed.

The radio was important to these outback families in another very special way. Since they were so far from schools, the children were schooled over the radio network with School of the Air and the support of parents or governesses. Many of the families, including my cousins, had special school rooms set up in which to take their lessons. While I loved their school rooms, I never got to see them ‘in action’ as I always visited during the school holidays.

Anyway, I digress. Here is my response to Charli’s prompt.

Tuning In

On sheep and cattle stations in outback Queensland in the pre-television and digital era, when mail and groceries were delivered fortnightly, the party line telephone and radio linked families with the outside world.

Mealtimes were scheduled to conclude with news broadcasts. The chatter and clatter ceased the moment chimes announced the start. Graziers inclined towards the radio, concentrating to extract words from the crackle, hopeful of positive stock reports, promising weather forecasts and news of world events.

Unable to affect, but affected by, the situations reported, the graziers returned to the day’s tasks, hopeful of better news next report.

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