Tag Archives: Carrot Ranch

The Big Black Horse

This week at the Carrot Ranch, Charli Mills challenged writers to In 99 words (no more, no less), write a story about a Big Black Horse. It can be a horse, a metaphor or an interpretation of KT Tunstall’s “Big Black Horse and a Cherry Tree.” Go where the prompt leads!

This is my response. It is based on a picture book manuscript I am working on at the moment, hoping to submit to a publisher soon. Fingers crossed. That story is based upon another 214-word story I wrote earlier in the year, which you can read here. All three are the same but different. I hope you like it.

The Big Black Horse

The riders considered the available horses. Fergal chose the big black, Valentina the silver. They mounted their steeds and entered the arena. Fergal cantered to one end and Valentina the other. They steadied their mounts and faced each other.

“Let the contest begin! Charge!”

The contestants galloped towards each other.

Nearing the centre of the arena, Fergal’s black steed balked, tossing him off. Valentina wheeled her horse around, dismounted and raced to Fergal’s side.

“You okay, Fergal?”

“It’s only a scratch.”

“I’ll get a plaster from Miss.”

“It’s okay. Let’s go again. Can I have silver this time?”

“Okay.”

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Saddle Up Saloon; Chattin’ With Norah Colvin

I had a great chat with my fellow Ranch-hand, writer and educator, D. Avery over at the Saddle Up Saloon at the Carrot Ranch. We discussed my favourite topics – children, education and writing. Not your usual saloon fare, eh? A bit dry for Kid and Pal too.

Carrot Ranch Literary Community

“Hey Kid. Kinda quiet ‘round the Saloon. Ain’tcha got anythin’ lined up?”

“Nope. But as ya kin see, Pal, there’s a few folks in jist relaxin’ an’ chattin’ over a bev’rage a choice.”

“Yeah, I see thet. Look there, is that Norah Colvin?”

“Yep. Says she’s waitin’ on a buddy a hers.”

“Reckon thet buddy is here. Why it’s—”

“D. Avery? Them two’s buddies? What a they have in common?”

“Well, they both know their way ‘roun’ the Ranch.”

“Reckon, but Norah Colvin’s respectable an’ all, an’ our writer’s so…”

“Jist serve ‘em both Kid an’ leave ‘em be.”

******************************************************************************

Hello Norah! I’m so glad we have a place where we can finally hang out together. But it seems Kid is wondering that we’re buddies.

Hello D.

Buddies! I like that. Buddies is not a term commonly used in Australia, so I think this is the first time I’ve ever…

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Tiny Flying Insects #flashfiction

This week at the Carrot Ranch, Charli Mills challenged writers to In 99 words (no more, no less), write a story that includes tiny flying insects. Think about how the insects shape the scene or add to the action. Go where the prompt leads!

Like many, I have a love-hate relationship with tiny flying insects. I love some. I hate some. Well, perhaps hate is too strong a word. I dislike their presence but appreciate their contribution to the environment, whether it be as decomposers or valuable food source.

My love list includes:

  • butterflies
  • bees
  • ladybirds
  • dragonflies

My not-so-much list includes:

  • cockroaches
  • flies
  • mosquitos
  • midges

These two groups probably lie at either end of the continuum with thousands more in between.

My fascination with these tiny creatures can be easily evidenced on readilearn, my collection of teaching resources for the first three years of school, where there are numerous resources devoted to minibeasts, especially bees, butterflies, and ladybirds.

Keeping caterpillars in the classroom and watching them progress through their life stages until metamorphosing into adult butterflies was one of the children’s and my favourite things. It is a wonderful way to enable children to see nature close up and develop an appreciation for these tiny creatures and their contribution to the environment. It encourages them to look more closely and with more wonder when exploring the outdoors.

It would be easy to write a story about one of the tiny flying insects that I love and more of a challenge to write about one that I love not-quite-so-much. However, I have previously written a story about a fly for an (imaginary) audience of young children. I share a 99-word synopsis of that story in response to Charli’s challenge. Let’s see what you think of it.

BBQ the Fly

Named for their favourite thing, BBQ’s parents farewelled their son on his first independent foray.

“You can! Avoid the can!” they called. BBQ had trained relentlessly, perfecting every manoeuvre — walking on ceilings, buzzing people and, especially, dodging the dreaded spray.

BBQ’s antennae zeroed in on a backyard barbecue where he chose a juicy sausage for his ritual dance. He had just extended his proboscis when a swarm muscled in. Through the crowd, one of his compound eyes caught the glint of something metallic —a can!

He retracted his proboscis and escaped just as the spray downed the unfortunate swarm.

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The Hens’ Party

At the Carrot Ranch, Charli Mills has been celebrating completion of 21 months of studying and writing for an MFA.  To help us get in the party mood, and to give herself freedom to celebrate, she gave writers an extra week to respond to the challenge In 99 words (no more, no less), write a story about party hens. Who are these chickens and why do they party? Go where the prompt leads!

This is my response. I hope you enjoy it.

The Hens’ Party

The hens cackled with anticipation of their leader’s address, then quietened as the activist took the stage.

“Ladies and ladies,” she began. “We don’t have to take this anymore — all day cooped up, laying on demand, while His Lordship struts about crowing, taking credit for the sun shining. Now it’s our time to shine!”

The assembly fluffed their feathers and stamped their feet. “We won’t take it anymore!”

“Ladies, what do we want?”

“Hen’s rights!”

“When do we want them?”

“Now!”

“First, we slip him a sleeping pill, then tomorrow — we make the sun come up!”

“Hens rule forever!”

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promises broken with substitutes

Does a substitute fulfil a promise?

This week at the Carrot Ranch, D. Avery stepped in (substituted) for Charli Mills by posing the weekly flash fiction prompt. (Charli is working industriously on her thesis for submission this week!)

D. Avery’s challenged writers to In 99 words (no more, no less) write a story that features a substitution. How might a character or situation be impacted by a stand-in? Bonus points for fairy tale elements. Go where the prompt leads.

I recently posed a question about the effectiveness of rewards. Aligned with that are promises of rewards and threats of punishment — strategies used by parents (and others) in an attempt to control another’s behaviour.

I think the conversation around that previous post must have somehow influenced my response to this prompt. See what you think.

I won’t elaborate any further on rewards and punishments for now, but will allow the flash to speak for itself. I don’t get the bonus points for including fairy tale elements. I’m sorry to say that scenes like this are more real than fairy tale.

Special Substitution

“Where’s my Burger Special? You promised!”

“Here, sweetie.”

“Burger Specials have chips, not carrot sticks!”

The carrot sticks plummeted to the floor.

“I substituted them, hon. Carrot sticks are healthier. We want to be healthy, don’t we?”

A mouthful of half-chewed bun adorned the table. “That’s disgusting!”

“Multi-grain’s healthier. Try some more. You will like it.”

“I don’t want substitutes.”

The poorly-disguised plant-based patty frisbeed across the room.

The parent hauled the protester from the restaurant.

“You promised Burger Special!”

“You’ll get something special, as soon as we get home.”

“There’s no substitute for proper parenting,” tut-tutted a diner.

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Sue Vincent Rodeo Classic

The Sue Vincent Rodeo Classic

Are you ready to ride in the Sue Vincent Rodeo Classic? The contest, with a $100 prize, is now live. Pop over to the Carrot Ranch for details.

Carrot Ranch Literary Community

by H.R.R. Gorman

Here at the Carrot Ranch, we take the business of 99-word literary art seriously. Those who participate in the Ranch prompts or yearly Rodeo saddle up to TUFF (The Ultimate Flash Fiction) it out and train new Rough Riders as we go. Now, the Ranch is hosting a new event to sharpen minds, welcome new hands, and celebrate one of our own the best way we know how: our first ever Rodeo Classic.

In this Rodeo Classic, we’re here to celebrate a stalwart center of many blogging corners, Sue Vincent. Sue has variously contributed to the community here at the Carrot Ranch, through communication with many other bloggers, and run her own famous #writephoto weekly blog prompt. You can (and should!) follow her on her blogs, The Daily Echo and the shared blog France & Vincent. She has inspired us to become better writers and shown…

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A nourishing fruit break

A nourishing fruit break #flashfiction

Carrot Ranch Flash Fiction - Nourish

This week at the Carrot Ranch, Charli Mills challenged writers to In 99 words (no more, no less), write a story to nourish. The characters can nourish or be nourished. What else can be nourished? A tree? A setting? Does the sunset nourish the soul? Go where the prompt leads!

In many schools, children have a 10-minute mid-morning break to have a piece of fruit and engage in some movement activities. It’s often called a fruit or a brain break. Its purpose  is to refresh and reenergise for the next part of the session. It is generally welcomed by teachers and students alike. While the fruit may nourish the physical, as my story shows, often other forms of nourishment are also involved. A smile is sometimes all the nourishment a flagging spirit needs, especially on one of those days.

One of those days

The morning hadn’t let up. It began with a “Can I talk to you for a minute?” that stretched into an unresolved 45. Meanwhile, the children swarmed at the door, and the day’s activities hadn’t set themselves out. Her day flipped from organised to ‘fly by the seat’ with one unscheduled meeting. As the minutes ticked away, she hankered for fruit break and recalibration as much as the children. Her apple was a mere millimetre from her mouth when ‘Miss, Ellenie’s crying’ interrupted her. One look told her everything. Ellenie’s grateful smile turned her grey to sunshine. Sanity returned.

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The Interlude flash fiction

The Interlude #flash fiction

Carrot Ranch flash fiction challenge The Interlude

This week at the Carrot Ranch, Charli Mills challenged writers to In 99 words (no more, no less) write a story about an interlude. It can be a pause between two key moments, the pause between acts in a play, an intermission, or a temporary amusement Go where the prompt leads you!

Instead of wrapping up my story in a post this week, I’ve simply written a response.

The Interlude

It was intended as an interlude filling the gap between childhood and marriage. Hired as governess to a grazier friend of a friend, they relished the possibility she’d meet a wealthy future-husband—plenty of single men in the bush— while she made herself useful.  But life doesn’t always comply with one’s plans, especially for another. The grazier’s children were eager students and she taught them well. Soon others came to learn from her tuition. They built a small schoolhouse which filled with willing minds. While suitors were a-plenty, none captured her love for teaching which became her main event.

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Art Class 101 - Portrait Painting

Art Class 101—Portrait Painting

Carrot Ranch flash fiction challenge - painting

This week at the Carrot Ranch, Charli Mills challenged writers to In 99 words (no more, no less) write a story that involves paint. It can be fresh, peeling or in need of a coat. What is being painted and why? Go where the prompt leads!

For my response to the challenge, I have written a story that begins with an innovation on a true-life story but finishes with something much more common. Potential is not always recognised, even when visible, in children and students. I hope you enjoy it.

Art Class 101—Portrait Painting

The task completed, he took a fresh sheet of paper and sketched the teacher with an enormous warty chin and hair sprouting like an unravelling steel wool pad. He added her name and then, with a flourish, his. He nudged his neighbour whose stifled guffaws drew attention. When the teacher investigated, only the task was visible.

Behind the papers, the portrait remained forgotten at class end. Until discovered by the teacher.

Later, having no satisfactory explanation, he was sentenced to weeks of lunchtimes painting bricks.

Years later, when he was a famous cartoonist, they delighted in telling his story.

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Ice on the rocks flash fiction

Ice on the rocks

This week at the Carrot Ranch, Charli Mills discusses her daughter’s existence in the treeless landscape in the northernmost town in the world, Longyearbyen on Svalbard, Norway.

This video provides an introduction to Longyearbyen.

In her post, Charli warns that “The reality of climate change impacted the polar regions of our world first. Think of the Arctic as our canary in the coal mine … To say the Arctic is the canary means that our planet is changing so rapidly that species are dying.”

Evidence of those changes is discussed in this recent National Geographic article

and, while this video shows the changes to the Arctic sea ice from 1979 – 2018,

(Read information accompanying this video here.)

this article shows the situation updated to April 2019.

With the effects so evident, it is hard to fathom that there are still some who deny the climate is changing. To what end?

The phrase ‘on the rocks’ often refers to a beverage, usually alcoholic, served undiluted on ice. It can also refer to something in difficulty or failing. It was a combination of these meanings, minus the alcohol, I used in the title.

Charli Mills' flash fiction challenge Ice

Charli’s discussion introduced her flash fiction challenge to In 99 words (no more, no less) write a story without ice. It can be a world without ice or a summer camp that runs out of cubes for lemonade. What does the lack mean to the story? Go where the prompt leads!

I took it a little differently.

Let’s Hear it for Ice

A world without ice —

That made me think tw—

Two times.

 

A world without ice

Would not be so n—

Pleasant.

 

We couldn’t play games

With a six-sided d—

Numbered cube.

 

We couldn’t have fries

With a side-serve of r—

Food grain.

 

Our food would be bland

Without pinches of sp—

Flavour.

 

A world without ice

Where rule is by v—

Badness.

 

A world without ice

We’d all pay the pr—

Cost.

 

A world without ice

I’d say in a tr—

Moment.

 

A world without ice

I’d even say thr—

Three times

 

Would never

Could never

Be anything nice!

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