Tag Archives: Carrot Ranch

Swimmingly #99WordStories

This week at the Carrot Ranch, Charli Mills challenged writers to In 99 words (no more, no less), write a story using the word, “swimmingly.” which means “smoothly or satisfactorily.” What is the situation? Who is involved? Let the word take you into a story. Go where the prompt leads!

This is my response. I hope you like it.

Fun in the Pool

A perfect summer’s day: azure sky with not a hint of cloud, a whispering breeze to kiss away humidity, children’s laughter sparkling like glitter; it was all going swimmingly, until …

Kevin kicked furiously, and …

the tube crashed. Tina tipped heels over head, chipping Chelsea’s chin, as she smacked into the water.

Chelsea fell against Liam, who yelled, “Get off me!” as they splashed down.

The three resurfaced together, and grabbed the tube, catapulting Kevin overhead, arms and legs flailing, into the water.

“Wow!” “That’s fun!” “Do it to me!” “I’m first!”

It was all going swimmingly …

Thank you blog post

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

Note: The collection of stories made in response to the previous prompt the red convertible, including mine, can be read at the Carrot Ranch.

Up and Away #99WordStories

This week at the Carrot Ranch, Charli Mills challenged writers to In 99 words (no more, no less), write a story using the phrase, “up and away.” You can imagine a story from the photo of hot air balloons, a flying superhero, a natural wonder, or any other direction your inspiration goes. Go where the prompt leads!

This is my response. I hope you enjoy it.

Up and Away

April placed a coin onto his palm.

“What will I make for you?”

“A magic balloon, please.”

He scanned her face, searched deep within her eyes, read her every wish.

“A magic balloon,” he said, selecting a dark blue.

He stretched it this way and that, then blew. As the balloon filled, the blue lightened and brightened. It shed sparkles that glistened in the sunlight. He knotted the end, held it out, then twisted and twirled and pulled it into a star.

He wound the ribbon around April’s wrist. “Up and away!” he whispered, as April was whisked aloft.

Thank you blog post

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

Note: The collection of stories made in response to the previous prompt Never Ending can be read at the Carrot Ranch here. Sadly, I didn’t get to join in with that prompt due to a (brief and mild) tussle with covid.

Baby Ducks Ate My Lunch #99WordStories

This week at the Carrot Ranch, Charli Mills challenged writers to In 99 words (no more, no less), write a story to explain “baby ducks ate my lunch.” How did that happen? Who is the protagonist? Where did the baby ducks come from? Go where the prompt leads!

My first thought was of the oft-quoted excuse for failing to complete homework: the dog ate my homework, but I decided to go with a more plausible situation with excited children feeding ducks at the park. I hope you enjoy it.

Baby Ducks Ate My Lunch

A wail fractured the picture-perfect ‘Freedom Day’, the first outing since lockdown began aeons ago.

Father’s mind wandered like the lonely cloud contrasted against the vivid sky, contemplating nothing—no lessons, no video calls, no demands for something to eat or do. Mother absentmindedly stroked his hair as she inhaled the freshness of the sunshine and the scent of nearby gardenias. The children entertained themselves—what luxury—feeding ducks with days-old bread.

The wail amplified, like an approaching train, finally demanding Father’s and Mother’s attention. “What’s wrong?”

“Baby ducks ate my lunch,” wailed the younger. The older one shrugged.

Thank you blog post

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

Note: The collection of stories made in response to the previous prompt Disappearance, including mine,can be read at the Carrot Ranch here.

I’d rather be … #99WordStories

This week at the Carrot Ranch, Charli Mills challenged writes to In 99 words (no more, no less), write a story using the phrase, “I’d rather be…” You fill in what comes next. What would a character(s) rather be doing and why? How can you use the phrase as a literary device? Go where the prompt leads!

This is my response. I hope you like it.

I’d rather be …

‘I’d rather be dead!’

She ran into the street in a downpour of tears, yanking at the sweater as if it crawled with monsters.

‘Don’t worry. She’ll be back,’ said Dad.

‘I only suggested —’

‘I know. But teenagers like to choose what they wear.’

‘She always did. Even a toddler — so dramatic.’

‘Like someone I know. Would you have worn your mother’s old sweater at her age?’

‘I did and was grateful for it.’

‘You were poor. We can afford to buy her a sweater.’

‘There’s nothing wrong with hand-me-downs.’

‘But The Bay City Rollers? Really?’

‘Well —’

Thank you blog post

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

Note: The collection of stories made in response to the previous prompt Zippers can be read at the Carrot Ranch here.

Anxiety — First Day Jitters #99WordStories

This week at the Carrot Ranch, Charli Mills challenged writers to In 99 words (no more, no less), write a story that includes anxiety. Who has anxiety or what is the source? Is there conflict? How can you use anxiety to further a story? Go where the prompt leads!

Anxiety is probably familiar to most of us at some stage of our lives — starting a new job, public speaking, waiting for a medical diagnosis. We all feel it in lesser or greater degrees. Even children feel it. It’s not uncommon for children to feel some anxiety when starting a new school. But children aren’t the only ones. Parents may feel some anxiety about how their children will fare. It may or may not surprise you, that teachers feel it too. Having spent most of my life in schools as either student or teacher, where else could I go with this prompt?

First Day Jitters

“I feel sick.”

“My tummy feels all jumbly.”

“My head hurts.”

“I don’t want to go.”

“You’ll be okay once you’re there. Everyone feels the same on their first day at a new school.’

“But what if they don’t like me?”

“They will. Come on. You’ll feel better when you’re up.”

“But what if I mess up?”

“You won’t. Close your eyes. Take some deep breaths. Relax. You can do this.”

Everyone was already seated when he entered the room. They smiled. “Good morning, Mr Clarke.”

He smiled back. “Good morning, children.”

She was right. He could do this.

Thank you blog post

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

Note: The collection of stories made in response to the previous prompt The ’49ers can be read at the Carrot Ranch here.

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.”

Thank you blog post

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

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…

View original post 1,774 more words

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.

Thank you blog post

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

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!”

Thank you blog post

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

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.

Thank you blog post

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