Tag Archives: Flash fiction

Carrot Ranch Rodeo contest #3

Rodeo #3: Three-Act Story

The third Carrot Ranch flash fiction challenge is up. Write a three-act story in 99 words. What fun. And a great prize to boot!

Carrot Ranch Literary Community

What is a story? We all tell them, and as writers, we craft them in the written word. A story is about Something that happens to Someone, Somewhere. It’s plot, character, and setting. A story has a beginning, middle, and end. Because we are hardwired for stories, we retain data better from narrative. Storytelling is in my blood.

When I was a kid, my mother ran a general mercantile in a town of 99 people. One of those 99 was Eloise Fairbanks, a one-eyed shut-in born in 1908. Her father operated the water mill, and when she was a young woman, she rode the backcountry of the Sierra Nevadas as a telegraph lineman. Weezy, as she was called, would call the store and order a six-pack of Coors. My job was to pedal the brown bag over to her house. She’d holler for me to come in when I knocked…

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Pro-Bull Mashup Carrot Ranch flash fiction contest

Rodeo #2: Pro-Bull Mashup

Are you ready to ride another bull in the Carrot Ranch Flash Fiction Rodeo? Now’s the time to write a 99 word story that includes the names of three bulls: Bodacious, Nose Bender, and Heartbreak Kid. And if you think writing about those is tough enough, just wait until you read the rest of the constraints. Just like bull riding, this one’s not for the faint-hearted. Are you game? Come on. Why not join in and have some fun?

Carrot Ranch Literary Community

Where else would you find a bull-riding flash fiction 99-word contest but at Carrot Ranch? Come on, all you pencil crunchers, gather ’round and listen to a  tale.

My dad rode bulls. His dad and his dad’s dad rode bulls. My second great-grandfather wore high-heeled vaquero boots in an 1880s photograph, and while I have no more evidence than those boots, I suspect he rode bulls, too. When you grow up around ranch critters, you ride everything that will hold your weight (you can’t ride a chicken, but you can ride a pig).

Getting bucked off is fun, or so you grow up believing. Your relatives and their friends, congregate in the corrals, hold down a critter, set you on it, hoot like crazy throughout your ride, and dust you off when you faceplant in the dirt and critter-pies.

Following this generational bent, I wanted to ride bulls, too. I…

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Carrot Ranch Flash Fiction Contest #1Tall Tale

Rodeo #1: Modern Tall Tale

It’s October again. That means it’s time for the Carrot Ranch Flash Fiction Rodeo. This year it is being run a little differently but everyone still has a chance to join in. The first contest is now open for your entries and the prompt is ‘Tall Tales’. Pop over to the Ranch for details, and read Charli’s previous post with suggestions to support your writing: Get Ready to Rodeo Like It’s 2019!

During the contest, I won’t be posting my usual mid-week flash fiction post but will reblog Charli’s prompt post on the weekend to keep you up-to-date.
I wish you all success. What a fun rodeo with lots of great prizes!

Carrot Ranch Literary Community

Out west where I grew up, to tell a tall tale was to tell a whopper of a lie so big no one would ever believe it. Someone would start the storytelling, and the next person would try to out-exaggerate the last one. Some told tall tales as a joke, especially if an inexperienced newbie might believe it. Wild Bill Hickok’s biographer, Joseph Rosa, suspected that Bill magnified the truth for fun.

Tall tales are the stuff of dime-store novels and pulp fiction.

What is a tall tale? One that openly exaggerates and magnifies the truth to the point of being unbelievable. The story itself is hyperbole. But we want to believe it because it’s humorous, melodramatic, or sensational.

This contest asks you to give a tall tale a modern bent. Don’t rely on the stories of Pecos Bill or 19th-century dime-store westerns. Go past the early sci-fi and…

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Living for fame, posthumously flash fiction

Living for fame posthumously

Would you sell your soul to the devil to be rich and famous in life, or would you be content with fame after your death?

While most of us might say that it’s not fame or fortune we seek, many spend untold energy and funds on marketing our writing, hopeful of reaching a few extra readers and recouping a few of those hard-earned dollars.

Most of us would say we have no desire to go down in history like some of these whose works were unknown or unrecognised in life, but lauded after death; including:

  • Edgar Allan Poe (Writer)
  • Emily Dickinson (Poet)
  • Franz Kafka (Writer)
  • Galileo Galilei (Scientist)
  • Henry David Thoreau (Philosopher)
  • Herman Melville (writer)
  • John Keats (Poet)
  • Oscar Wilde (writer)
  • Stieg Larsson (writer)
  • Vincent Van Gogh (Artist)

and others you can read about at ScoopWhoop here and here, and also on Toptenz here, where the suggestion is made to never give up because there is no way of knowing what lies ahead.

However, this article by Daniel Grant writing for the Huffington Post and this one on Quora both address the question of an artist’s posthumous fame and agree that, if you weren’t famous in life, you’re unlikely to be famous in death. Perhaps we’d better go for the fame and fortune while we live.

Carrot Ranch flash fiction challenge - unremembered

Why am I thinking about posthumous fame? It’s not that I’m thinking of dying and then being discovered anytime soon. No, it’s as a result of the flash fiction prompt set by Charli Mills at the Carrot Ranch this week.

Charli challenged writers to In 99 words (no more, no less) write a story about someone unremembered. Is it a momentary lapse or a loss in time? Play with the tone — make it funny, moving, or eerie. Go where the prompt leads you!

This is how my story plays out.

Unremembered

A recluse, unremarkable and forgotten in life and unremembered in death, she’d lived in her own world hidden behind overhanging branches and overgrown gardens. Unseen for so long, newcomers didn’t know she existed, thinking it was simply undeveloped land.

One day, developers came and pushed down the trees and cleared the undergrowth. They paused at the sight of the tiny wooden structure their work revealed. Unsure how to proceed, they investigated. Though not art enthusiasts, they knew that what they discovered was something special. When the work was curated and exhibited in galleries worldwide, she was never unremembered again.

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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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Old World - So Last Century

Old World — So Last Century

Carrot Ranch flash fiction challenge old world

This week at the Carrot Ranch Charli Mills challenged writer to In 99 words (no more, no less) write a story about old world charm. It can be nostalgic or irreverent. You can invent an “old world,” return to migrant roots or recall ancient times. Go where the prompt leads you!

Born mid-way last century and unlikely to see the middle of this, from this angle anyway, I have to admit that I’m of the ‘old world’. The young ones think I’m ancient.

When my daughter, now an adult herself and ‘old’ to younger eyes, was but a child, she often asked me to tell her what life was like ‘in the olden days’ when I was a child. She even asked what the dinosaurs were like!

Although she teased, it has become entrenched in family lore. (Most family members have been obsessed by dinosaurs at some time — perhaps in the hope of locating ancestors?) But perhaps the juxtaposition is not that unlikely if one has not yet developed an understanding of the evolutionary timeline.

I’ve always appreciated the quote, often mistakenly attributed to Einstein, that says the only reason we have time is to prevent everything happening at once. There is another that questions whether, if a tree was to fall in the forest and no one was there to hear it, would it make any sound?

Could it be that for children, until they develop a sense of time, anything that has occurred outside of their memory, prior to their birth, seems to have happened all at once in that long ago, old world time.

The first children to have been born this century are already reaching adult status but it is difficult for them to imagine life before mobile phones, text messaging, iPads, social media, the internet, instant information, streaming and video games, let alone television. Even for some of us who experienced those ‘olden days’, it can be difficult to remember just what it was like.

This video of children reacting to rotary phones may help you recall.

How did we meet up with friends when we didn’t have phones, never mind mobile phones? What did we do when we were waiting for an appointment or an event and we didn’t have our phones for entertainment? What did we do when we wanted to know something and we weren’t at the library, beside a set of encyclopedias, or someone knowledgeable? No wonder our parents answered our questions with statements such as; “Because it is” and admonished us for asking too many questions. No child should ever have their questions shut down now with answers just a button away.

This year marks the 50th anniversary of momentous events such as the Moon Landing, Woodstock, and my final year of school. I may not have roamed with the dinosaurs, but how life has changed since then. My story reflects back on time in that ‘old world’. I hope you like it.

So Last Century

“What did you play on the iPad when you were little, Grandma?”

“There weren’t any iPads when I was little.”

“What?”

“We didn’t even have computers.”

“What? How did you watch movies? On your phone?”

Grandma laughed. “No, we couldn’t watch movies on our phones. They didn’t have screens. And we couldn’t carry them in our pockets either. We went to the cinema to watch movies. When I was really little, we didn’t even have television.”

“Wow! What did you do then?”

“Lots — played games, read books, made our own fun.”

“Can we play a game?”

“Of course, love.”

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Sweet Strawberry Jam flash fiction

Sweet Strawberry Jam

Carrot Ranch Flash Fiction challenge Sweet Jam

This week at the Carrot Ranch, Charli Mills challenged writers to In 99 words (no more, no less) write a story that includes a sweet jam. It can take you to the kitchen or the smokey room of a back-alley bar. What makes it sweet? Go where the prompt leads you!

Although my mother was a great one for preserving and making jams from surplus fruits and vegetables, I never followed her example. I recall her pressure cooker filled to the brim with sweet sticky concoctions which were then sealed into Vacola jars for storage and future use.

Mulberry, fig, quince and tomato are just a few of the jams I remember her making. They were always a favourite heaped onto fresh white bread. Sometimes so much jam was applied, someone would sarcastically ask, “Would you like bread with that?” to which the only appropriate answer was, “Only if I have to.”

But we didn’t just spread jam on bread. Mum would use jam in some of her favourite sweet recipes including a coconut tart, raspberry slice and jam drops, all of which we children devoured as quickly as she could make them.

Although I didn’t take up the challenge of making jam, I’ve always enjoyed a word challenge. Even at school, I liked being asked to write a sentence to show the different meanings of the same word; for example, ‘bow’. I much preferred the creative aspect of such activities to simply filling in a missing word which usually had only one right answer and was a no-brainer.

The word jam and its variety of uses appealed to me in this way and I’ve jammed a few into my response to Charli’s challenge. I hope you enjoy it.

Sweet Strawberry Jam

Overhearing a conversation about the jam session at Lorna’s that night, Ailsa assumed the email was buried in spam which had jammed her inbox recently. She collected her Vacola jars and headed for the motorway. Discovering the traffic jam too late, she had no choice but to wait. The jam drops prepared for supper eased the monotony. At Lorna’s, she jammed her car into a tight spot and rushed inside. The living room was jam-packed, and music indicated a different kind of jamming. Setting down her Vacola jars, she leaned against the door jamb. “Sweet strawberry jam!” she breathed.

And how could I not have a post about jam without a reference to that Newbeats’ hit of the ‘60s I Like Bread and Butter.

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