Category Archives: Writing

Results of Carrot Ranch TUFF contest

TUFF Winner Announced

The results of the four-week Carrot Ranch Flash Fiction TUFF writing contest are in. Pop over to the Carrot Ranch to read the winning entry by Liz Husebye Hartmann – an excellent choice.
Thanks, Charli and all the leaders, judges and contestants for another great rodeo.

Carrot Ranch Literary Community

Everything about the TUFF Rodeo contest was difficult.

TUFF is an acronym for The Ultimate Flash Fiction. The contest challenges writers to revise their original 99-word draft through a series of word reductions. It gives writers the chance to think differently about their original draft.

To make the contest harder, each week of the four-part contest gave writers a new craft twist. When TUFF writers had to reduce their draft to 59 words, they also had to craft two different 59-word points of view. Next, writers had to craft three different 9-word taglines for their story. Finally, writers had to revise their original 99-words and add an eerily out of place prop.

Judges considered each entry’s process as much as the final result. They expected an original final 99-word story that incorporated the western and romance themes with an out of the place prop. They wanted to see raw ideas…

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Newspaper and Sawdust

Newspaper and Sawdust

In the most recent flash fiction prompt posted on the Carrot Ranch on World Toilet Day, Charli Mills challenged writers to In 99 words (no more, no less), write a story that glorifies a toilet. Capture the marvel and status and love for a contraption we’d rather not mention. Go where the prompt leads!

Writers were given an extension, allowing 2 weeks for responses, which should have been enough to overcome inspiration constipation. Sadly, I’ve spent a lot of time thinking about toilets and toilet situations, but writing little about them. Perhaps something will flow now that the block is cleared. Maybe constipation will turn to diarrhoea.

I am surprised to have few memories of toilets from my early childhood.

I lived on a farm until I was six and cannot recall what type of toilet we had or where it was located. I assume it was what we in Australia refer to affectionately as a ‘dunny’ or ‘thunderbox’ — an outhouse or outside toilet with a wooden seat over a metal can.

I also don’t recall the toilets at the first semi-rural school I attended. Considering I must have made a few trips at least each day, at home and at school, one tiny memory shouldn’t be too much to ask.

When we moved from the farm to a young growing beachside suburb, we definitely had an outhouse for the first few years, probably until sometime in the early sixties. It was located half-way down the back yard, about five metres from our high-set house. So, at night, or during storms or cyclones, we had to negotiate the outside uncovered steps (about 15), race across the backyard and into the shelter of the outhouse, our path lit by a torch or lantern, if we were lucky.

I never envied the job of the ‘night soil men’ (or ‘dunny men’ as we kids called them) who would come in once a week to collect the can of waste and carry it out to empty into the truck. What a job. I wonder if any complained about losing their jobs to flushing toilets.

I know that sewerage was connected to our home before I was twelve as I have a very strong memory of receiving an unjustified (in my opinion) belting behind it at that age. That toilet was also outside but at least it was at the foot of the stairs and not halfway down the backyard. Flushing water and soft toilet tissue replaced newspaper and sawdust.

There was no upstairs toilet added to the house until years after I left home. It was only added when negotiating the stairs became difficult for my mum. But even it was still outside, though thankfully, just outside the back door at the top of the stairs.

My only memories of school toilets are of flushing toilets, whether septic or sewered, I don’t know, and of not being allowed to go when I needed to.

Toilets have taken on a whole new significance as I’ve aged, and their cleanliness is of utmost importance. I worked as a consultant for an educational publisher for a few years. The role involved visiting school in my local and surrounding areas. I used to rate the towns by the accessibility and cleanliness of their toilets.

When I read the statistics published by World Toilet Day, my requirements are something many can only dream about. According to the website:

  • 4.2 billion of the world’s population do not have access to adequate sanitation — that’s more than half of the world’s 7.8 billion people
  • 3 billion people don’t have facilities like water and soap for basic handwashing at home
  • about 800 children under five die every day from diseases caused by poor sanitation or lack of clean drinking water

These and other horrifying statistics are available on the website. The humble flushing toilet that so many of us take for granted, is not so humble for many, but rather something for them to glorify.

For a few years now, I’ve been purchasing my toilet paper, tissues and paper towels from Who Gives a Crap. I chose Who Gives a Crap because they donate 50% of their profits to help build toilets for those who need them. So far, they have donated $8.3 million. I am pleased to be able to contribute in a small way, without any extra effort, to such a worthwhile project. Who Gives a Crap products are available in Australia, USA, UK, Sweden and Europe. Check out their website for more information.

I guess it’s time to share my flash fiction in response to Charli’s prompt.

The End (with apologies to Alan Alexander Milne)

When I was one and had just begun

Nappies were where my business was done.

When I was two, not nearly so new

A training potty was home for my poo.

When I was three, I was learning to pee

In a toilet that flushed away to the sea.

When I was four or not much more

I learned to be private behind a closed door.

When I was five, school days had arrived

And toilets were places to play and hide.

When I get old, or so I am told,

A clean handy toilet is precious as gold.

Thank you blog post

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

Carrot Ranch 2020 Flash Fiction Rodeo contest #4

Winner Announced! (Writing Contest) Rodeo #4: Wanted Alive.

And the results for the fourth and last weekly Carrot Ranch 2020 Rodeo Contest are in! Pop over to Goldie’s place to read the clever winning entry. Was it yours? It wasn’t mine.
We are waiting for just one set of results now – the TUFF contest that took place over four weeks.

One day at a time...

If you remember, in October, we tightened our grips on the reins and we Rodeoed. Four weeks, four hosts, four contests, four winners, four prizes! Thanks to Charli and the Carrot Ranch, I was able to not only participate in those writing challenges, but also host one.

When I volunteered, I was not sure what to expect, but since I like trying new things, I just went for it. When the time arrived, I came up with a prompt (quote + masterpiece painting), crossed my finger, and hoped for the best.

If you would like to read more about the contest or maybe even write a story of your own (outside of the contest), take a look here -> (Writing Contest) Rodeo #4: “Wanted Alive”. (You should also check it out if you had missed my art.)

All I could think of was: “What if no one enters?” I wondered…

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double ennead winners

The Results ARe IN For the Winner of the Carrot Ranch Double Ennead Poetry Challenge

And the results for the second Carrot Ranch 2020 Flash Fiction Rodeo – The Double Ennead Poetry Challenge lead by poet Colleen Chesebro – are in!
Did you enter? I did, but I didn’t win. Did you? Pop over to Colleen’s to find out.

Word Craft ~ Prose & Poetry

For this year’s rodeo, I created a special poetry 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. Finally, the ranch has its own syllabic poetry form written in 99 syllables!

The Double Ennead comprised 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 twist in crafting the Double Ennead was that poets had to choose five consecutive words from the poem, “The Springtime Plains,” from Cowboy Poet, Charles Badger Clark, found at the link below:

https://www.poemhunter.com/poem/the-springtime-plains/

The five words had to be reworked into one stanza following this word placement:

Line 1 starts with word 1

Line 2 ends with word 2

Line 3 starts with word 3

Line 4 ends with word 4

Line 5 starts with word 5

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Out of time #flashfiction

Out of Time #flashfiction

This week at the Carrot Ranch, Charli Mills challenged writers to In 99 words (no more, no less), write a story about lost time. You can write a realistic scenario or something speculative. How does lost time impact the character of your story? Bonus points if you include a 1982 brown rubber watch Go where the prompt leads!

Time is something there never seems to be enough of, and it’s like many other things — if you don’t use it, you lose it.

One common saying is that time is wasted on the young. I don’t think it’s wasted, but I think to young people it seems infinite. It did to me anyway. I thought there was time enough for everything I wanted to achieve. I thought that, as this song from my youth said, time was on my side.

As I got older, I realised that time wasn’t infinite and that in fact, it was not only precious, it was also slipping away.

While we may not entirely be able to make up for lost time, we can always make the most of our present time.

One of my favourite quotes about time, sometimes but not correctly attributed to Einstein, is that its only purpose is to stop everything happening at once. I think this is true of events in both the past and the future. If we are unable to associate them with a date or a context, they may as well have happened or happen at the same time.

If the only time we have is now, we must enjoy it and make the best use of it we can until our time is up and there are no more ‘present’ moments.

Yesterday is history. Tomorrow is a mystery. Today is a gift, that’s why it’s called the present.

Every day we open that gift with anticipation and use its joys to create our tomorrows.

I guess I don’t need to state the obvious, that I’ve reached that stage of life where there’s more time in the past than the future. However, for as long as I have the present, I’ll be doing my best to make the most of it.

Here’s my response to Charli’s challenge. I hope you enjoy it.

Out of Time

“Time’s up!”

“Not yet! I’m not finished.”

Mallory stared at the page, blank except for some scribbles and a few false starts. Others smiled as they handed in their papers, earning accolades and rewards for tasks successfully completed.

“Please, just a little more time?”

“You’ve already had more than most.”

“I can do it. Promise.”

The timekeeper tapped the watch. “Five more. That’s all.”

Mallory worked frantically until the timekeeper declared, “You’re out of time.”

Mallory smiled, “It’s never too late to begin.”

The timekeeper agreed. “But you could have achieved much more had you not wasted time earlier.”

Thank you blog post

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

bush ballads billabongs and bullfrogs

Bush Ballads, Billabongs and Bullfrogs – #readilearn

A couple of weeks ago, I announced the publication of a new anthology of Bedtime Ballads and Tall Tales from the Australian Bush, Tell ‘Em They’re Dreaming, in which I am delighted to have a ballad of my own included.

The anthology was launched online on Facebook last Sunday 1 November with many of the authors reading their stories in the Share Your Story Facebook Group, which you are welcome to join. You may scroll through the posts and listen to many of the stories there.

My story Once Upon a Billabong tells of a big bully bullfrog who enjoys being mean and doesn’t allow anyone else to live in his billabong. But things don’t always work out the way we plan, and certainly not for the bully bullfrog who is soon looking for a home himself. To find out what happens, listen to me read the story in this video, or perhaps you’d like to read along with me. I hope you enjoy it.

(In case you’re wondering, I bought a frog onesie especially for the launch and still decided to wear it when we had to go online. It doesn’t work as well in the video as I’d hoped. I’m not really trying to hide. 😊)

Continue reading: Bush Ballads, Billabongs and Bullfrogs – readilearn

Folk Tale or Fable Carrot Ranch Rodeo 2020 Contest #1

AND The 2020 Carrot Ranch Writing Rodeo’s first event Winner is:

And the results of the first Carrot Ranch Rodeo Contest are posted!
Pop over to contest leader Kerry. E. B. Black’s blog for the results, and to the Carrot Ranch to read the winning story and the three honorable mentions (including mine!!!!) https://carrotranch.com/rodeo-contests/2020-rodeo/

Allusionary Assembly

Today, with distinct pleasure, I announce the winners of the Carrot Ranch’s 20202 Writing Rodeo Event #1 which I had the honor of organizing. Eighteen brave souls saddled up, lassoed 99 words, and created brand new folk lore type stories for Carrot Ranch. There were comedic pieces and two works of horror, a romance, myths, legends, and a fairy tale. There were researched pieces, too, for the historians. Each and every one of the contestants should feel proud. They flexed their writing muscles and, woo wee, they did not make it easy for the judges to pick the winner!

Everyone who participated is welcomed to display this badge on their website. You earned it!

Now, for our Writing Rodeo 2020 honorable mentions:

“Sky Rider’s Happily Ever After” written by Liz Husebye Hartmann

“Snow White and the Seven Gunslingers” written by Nora Colvin

“Flem and the Rattlesnake” written by Mike Vreeland

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Carrot Ranch Flash Fiction Contest Wanted Alive

(Writing Contest) Rodeo #4: “Wanted Alive”

He’s the fourth and final contest in the Carrot Ranch 2020 Flash Fiction Rodeo. Get your pencil sharpened or your fingers poised and start writing. Only 99 words to go!

One day at a time...

A few weeks ago, I announced the start of this year’s Rodeo. I hope you were able to participate in one, two, or maybe even all three of these special events I mentioned in that post. Heck, maybe you are being selected as one of the winners as we speak.

This week, it is MY turn to jump on the horse, grab it by the horns…
Oh, wait –

When I first volunteered to host this contest, I was thinking of all the other obligations I would have to attend to in the month of October. Admittedly, I was worried that I might not be able to fulfill all of my duties. If I am struggling, chances are that some of you might be, too. Mindful of your valuable time and your potentially overwhelmed minds, I decided to keep this contest easy. After all, this is meant to…

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Out of time flashfiction spooky campfire

Out of Time #flashfiction

This week at the Carrot Ranch, Charli Mills challenged writers to In 99 words (no more, no less), write a spooky tale told around a campfire. It doesn’t have to include the campfire; it can be the tale. Go where the prompt leads!

I’m not overly familiar with campfires, and spooky tales are not a favourite genre. I remember a few stories about apparitions from my childhood and they gave me nightmares for a long time. I am pleased to be unlike Cole Sear in the Sixth Sense in that I am unable to see dead people. A few times when I thought I might, it totally freaked me out.

Additionally, there aren’t many spooky picture books, so as a teacher of young children I was not exposed to a great many spooky stories. There are the Funnybones stories by Allan and Janet Ahlberg which are delightfully humorous and not at all scary and, of course, Casper is a friendly ghost.

Needless to say, I hadn’t ever tried to write a spooky story, so Charli’s prompt raised the possibility as a now or never event. Here’s my attempt. I hope it works, even just a little bit.

Out of Time

Darkness fell as Martin hastened home. He hated passing the cemetery, especially at Halloween. Sometimes he crossed the road, but this night he was out of time. Hairs on his arms prickled and shudders crept up his spine as he passed the open gate. A light flickered inside. He tried to not look, to not be drawn by the group gathered around a campfire, beckoning, ‘Join us.’ Martin hunched further into his jacket. ‘Next year then?’ Their ghoulish laughter chased him down the street into the path of a speeding car.

‘Back so soon. Couldn’t wait? Mwahaha!’ they chorused.

Thank you blog post

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

Carrot Ranch TUFF flash fiction contest week 4

TUFF Flash Fiction Contest Part Four

Coming ready or not!
Here’s the fourth and final part of the Carrot Ranch 2020 Rodeo TUFF contest. How are you going with your story? There’s still time to complete all stages if you’re not done yet.
Good luck, writers!

Carrot Ranch Literary Community

Did you stay in the saddle for the full ride? Or are you here to slide under the fence, last minute? Either way, Rodeo Writers, you’ve TUFFed it out and we have arrived at our final challenge.

TUFF (The Ultimate Flash Fiction) is a progressive form that takes you from draft to revision through several word reductions — 99, 59, 9, 99. Each step has had a twist along the way as the TUFF contest has unfolded:

The final twist in the contest involves an additional trope. The first draft included the tropes for western and romance. Tropes are elements that define a genre or theme. In this contest, we have used tropes as themes. Now, we will add a final trope as a prop.

PART FOUR TWIST

A prop can be gold in…

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