Tag Archives: Flash fiction

flash fiction kept in the dark

Kept in the dark

Have you ever engaged in an experiment to see how bean seeds grow when kept in the dark compared to how they grow when provided with sunlight? It’s an experiment familiar to many school children. The purpose of the experiment is to show that light is needed for the seeds to grow and children soon find that those kept in the dark do not thrive.

My father used to say that what you don’t know doesn’t hurt you. He wasn’t happy when my brother wrote in my autograph book that what you don’t know doesn’t do you much good either.

what you don't know won't do you much good either

© Norah Colvin

Although my parents were keen for my siblings and me to get a good education, there were some things about which they preferred to keep us in the dark — secret adult things. It seems they thought some knowledge might be dangerous, so they were selective in what we were told.

I am of the opposite view, thinking that a lack of knowledge may be even more dangerous. Just as bean seeds don’t thrive in the dark, minds can’t thrive if kept in the dark either.

Nowadays, in schools, there is an emphasis on the need for being explicit in our teaching, of making sure that children know what they will be learning, what is expected of them and why.

In my childhood days, if a reason was given, it was often ‘Because I said so’ or ‘Because it is’. I much prefer the modern way and, as with many things, believe that knowledge begets knowledge. It is difficult to be interested in something about which you know nothing. But knowing, even just a little, can stimulate curiosity to know more.

I have written about this belief before in posts such as Child’s play —the science of asking questions, Visioning a better school, a better way of educating, and Reflect and refine, to name but a few.

Into the dark flash fiction prompt at the Carrot Ranch

This week at the Carrot Ranch, Charli Mills wrote about the darkness we feel when we’ve lost our guiding star, or when the spark of creativity has dimmed. She challenged writers to In 99 words (no more, no less) write a story using the phrase “into the dark.” What must a character face? Write about an encounter, journey, relationship, or quest. Follow the ship’s lights on gloomy seas. Go where the prompt leads you.

Funnily enough, the prompt took me to neither darkness of the mind nor heart, but to the literal darkness of a stormy night. I hope you enjoy it.

Stepping into the unfamiliar

The car lights dimmed as she reached the door – timed perfectly. But, when the porch light didn’t activate, immersing her in total darkness, she cursed the storm. As she pushed the door of the still unfamiliar house, she rummaged for her phone. Dang! No charge. She inched along the wall, fingers seeking the corner and toes the step she knew was close. Stepping down, she dumped her bag and tossed her saturated scarf. She edged towards the sideboard and a battery-powered candelabra. As she fumbled for the switch, the room was flooded with light and cheers of ‘Happy housewarming!’

Thank you blog post

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Travel with a Twist Carrot Ranch Flash Fiction Rodeo results

Rodeo #3: Travel with a Twist Winners

The results of the Carrot Ranch Rodeo #3 Travel with a Twist are in. Congratulations to the winners! Well done to all the entrants and the judges!

Carrot Ranch Literary Community

By Sherri Matthews

Well, we asked for travel stories with a twist, and we got ‘em.  Thank you so much to all who entered, 29 in all. You’ve taken us around the world (twice), to Rome and through most of Europe, to Morocco, Lima, on sun-drenched holidays including the Caribbean and Hawaii, up mountains, along the coast, to a Harry Potter conference in San Francisco, a monastery, Lake Michigan, Key West, Rock Springs and the weird and wonderful Garbled Creese. We’ve walked, ran and hiked, and travelled by car, cruise ship, plane, bus, motorhome, and broomstick.

The high quality and enjoyment of every story, however, did not make it easy for the judges.  I don’t like this part of the job! First, I verified every story’s word count and sadly had to eliminate 2, one just under, one just below 99 words. Then we narrowed it down with each of…

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a selection of potato dishes

How do you like those potatoes?

Now that the 2018 Carrot Ranch Flash Fiction Rodeo has ended and winners of each contest are being announced weekly, the regular flash fiction challenges have resumed.

Carrot Ranch flash fiction mashed potato super power prompt

This week, Charli Mills challenged writers to: In 99 words (no more, no less) write a story that pairs mashed potatoes with a superpower. It can be in any circumstance, funny or poignant. Go where the prompt leads.

A month or two ago on readilearn, I wrote a post titled Learning to be friends — unleash your friendship superpower.  In that post, I suggested that we need to

Help children to see that, although they may have some special friends, they can be friendly towards everyone. No one should be excluded. Everyone should be included.

Explain that being friendly towards others encourages others to be friendly towards them. Being a friend is like a superpower. It helps everyone, including yourself, have a good day.”

ideas for teaching friendship skills in early childhood classrooms

I also discussed some new and existing resources to support the teaching of friendship skills in early childhood classrooms.

How could I not choose friendship as my superpower, but how could I mash it with potatoes as Charli suggested?

Of course, there is the Wiggles song Hot Potato that includes mashed banana, why not mashed potato?

And there is the popular party game Hot Potato where everyone sits in a circle and passes an object like a ball, bean bag, or even a potato around the circle while music plays. Whoever is holding the object when the music stops is out, so it is important to pass it quickly, like a hot potato, so as to not be caught with it. Could the game be played with mashed potato? It could get rather messy, I think.

fist game one potato two potato

When I was a child, we used to play an elimination game using the song One potato, Two potatoes. Everyone would stand in a circle and put out both fists. “It” would go around the circle, bumping each fist in turn. Whichever fist was bumped on ‘more’ would be put behind the player’s back. The song and actions would then be repeated until only one fist (one player) remained.

Then, of course, there is the Mr Potato Head toy which made a comeback in the Toy Story movies.

Singing songs and playing games, including these, is always a great way to help develop that friendship superpower.

Although I’ve presented quite a mash of potato ideas, I haven’t even mentioned real potatoes yet.

If I stayed with childhood stories, I would say that mashed potato was a regular feature of evening meals with a humble serving blobbed unceremoniously on the plate. Roast potatoes were traditional for Sunday lunch and always much preferred. I never saw mashed potato as anything to get excited over, but Hub, who hails from Northern Ireland, has high praise for the champ of his younger days.  Though I’ve tried, my attempts haven’t ever matched his expectations. I am surprised to see that mash is now a popular item on many restaurant menus —not quite so humble anymore, and perhaps a healthier choice than chips, which seem to be served with nearly everything.

So where to for a mashed potato superhero? Sometimes you need to look no further than the plate in front of you.

Here’s my response.

If only

Jake pushed the plate away.  “Don’t like mash.”

Mum sighed and turned away.

As Jake stared at the potato, out popped a tiny, lumpy, and obviously grumpy, old man. He shook his fists.

Jake leaned forward. “Pardon?”

“I’m leaving.”

“Why?”

“Ya always push me away. Say ya’d rather chips or roasties. Doncha know we’re all the same—inside—only outside’s different.”

“Didn’t think—”

“Your kind—unkindness—never do. Gotta learn ta look beyond the differences, kid. Learn ta love us all.”

“Wait—”

“What?” said Mum, turning as Jake scooped the last spoonful of mash into his mouth.

Thank you blog post

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

 

 

 

Winners of #1 Carrot Ranch Flash Fiction Contest: Dialog

Rodeo #1: Dialog Winners

And the results of #1 Carrot Ranch Flash Fiction Contest are in. Congratulations to the winners, honourable mentions and all who entered. Read the winning entries in the Carrot Ranch post and follow the link to read all entries. What a fabulous read!

Carrot Ranch Literary Community

Well, it’s over, and we judges have had a blast. It looks like you people did too. In all, we received 38 entries. Only a couple failed on word count, a couple of others didn’t stick rigidly to dialogue, but most of you were very good and complied with the rules. Even managing to make something from what was a tricky picture prompt.

Yes, that is me, and that is a giant tortoise; my family spent a day behind the scenes at London Zoo, including feeding these magnificent reptiles. My daughter is responsible for capturing me having the brief catch up…

Before we get down to the business end a few general thoughts:

  • In a fair few cases, there was still some ‘telling’. When you only have 99 words you really mustn’t. You have to leave a lot to the reader’s imagination, let them work it out. Sometimes the best…

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final flash fiction contest - danger

Rodeo #5: Sound and Fury

The last of the Rodeo contests is on and I think it’s the scariest of all. Write about danger, she says; dance it, feel it, hear it, smell it, touch it, taste it. I’d really rather stay where I’m safe and warm, but perhaps I can give it a go. It is just a story after all. Are you ready to unleash a dangerous story?

Carrot Ranch Literary Community

A Flash Fiction contest by D. Avery
Co Judges: Bonnie Sheila and the Amazing Educator

THE CONTEST

Sometimes fear, respect, and awe are the braids of one rope. Sometimes that one rope is all a buckaroo has to hang onto. Your flash should never let go of that rope.

Think of a dangerous situation that people willingly engage in. It need not be heroic with a heroic outcome for it is ill-advised to sit down on a bull or to run with them charging down the same narrow street. But people do. Why? Explore the motivation for the character; how did they come to be in this situation?

A high scoring bull rider stays on an athletic bucking spinning bull for eight seconds after exploding out of the chute. They are dance partners, with a grace that is gritty and brutal. The rider holds that braided rope for dear life…

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The TUFFest write

The TUFFest Ride Finals

And the TUFFest Write is nearing the finish line. The Fab Five are now the Thrilling Three as they dash to the end. Results will be announced on Friday. Check out their latest entries here.

Carrot Ranch Literary Community

From 118 entries, five writers were selected to take the TUFFest Ride. A few brave challengers have also followed the paces, taking the ride each week. The point of TUFF is to experience the shifts that occur in our writing when we revise. The process forces us to change our first drafts to meet the diminishing word constraints. In making those changes, we further explore our story and make discoveries and decisions. Lastly, we infuse the heart of our stories with emotion.

Here’s a quick look at the shortest stories from last week — each one is nine words and expresses a different emotion [set in brackets].

9-WORD SUMMATIONS WITH EMOTION by Kay Kingsley

Sapling nurtured, love grows an Oak death can’t fell [strength]

Unanswered dreams denied by fate suspended our love eternally [sadness]

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9-WORD SUMMATIONS WITH EMOTION by Ritu Bhathal

Mudslide. This could not be happening again –…

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Carrot Ranch Flash Fiction Rodeo #4 fracture a fairy tale

Rodeo #4: Fractured Fairy Tales

I’m excited. It’s now time for the fourth Carrot Ranch Flash Fiction Rodeo Contest, and it’s mine! Are you up for writing a fractured fairy tale? Head on over to the Ranch for contest details. I can’t wait to read your stories.

Carrot Ranch Literary Community

A Flash Fiction contest by Norah Colvin
Co Judges: Anne Goodwin and Robbie Cheadle

Do you love fairy tales? Chances are, unless you are a parent or grandparent of young children or an early childhood educator as I am, you may not have encountered a fairy tale for a while. Well, I am about to change that by asking you to fracture a fairy tale for the fourth Carrot Ranch rodeo contest. [READ MORE…]

For insights and tips from the contest creator, read Norah’s Post, “Once Upon a Rodeo Time.” For word count, use Microsoft Word or wordcount.net. Be aware that punctuation and word-hyphens can change your word count so run it through one of those two counters.

Norah Colvin is an Australian educator, passionate about learning and early childhood education especially. She has many years’ experience in a variety of educational roles. She currently blogs about education…

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