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Monthly Archives: February 2014

Flash Fiction Challenge Begins Next Week

Carrot Ranch Flash FictionNext week is the debut for Carrot Ranch Flash Fiction. March 5 and every Wednesday thereafter you’ll find a prompt at this blog to initiate the week’s challenge. You’ll have up until the next challenge to post a link to your blog.

How you craft your 99 words is up to you.  This is meant to be a friendly exercise among wordsmiths. Sometimes you might feel humorous and write something funny; other times you might be frustrated and write something horrific. Some will write into hard truths like warriors and others will gently catalog the wonder of fluttering butterfly wings.

The point is to find your true expression. That’s why the challenge is 99 words. The limitation on the number of words–no more and no fewer–actually is a key that unlocks creativity. Try it and you’ll understand after you’ve completed a few challenges.

Return to the weekly challenge that you are responding to and post a link to your response on your own blog. It’s a way to share our blogs in addition to fostering our craft of creative writing. If you do not have a platform to share your response you may publish it in the comments only if it is “business-friendly.” Why? Because my writing is my profession and  I don’t want to freak out any of my clients or promote writing that doesn’t fit my brand.

My belief as a writer is that writing is a business, even creative writing. My priorities are improving my craft, learning the publishing industry and extending my career as a professional writer. I want to meet other writers on the path to exchange ideas, inspiration and knowledge.

I also want to meet readers who voraciously gobble up stories like M&Ms. As writers we often think about what we want to say, but not who we want to say it to. The reader is as important as the writer in the art of written communication. Creativity is a dynamic relationship between writer and reader. My hope is that both will join in the Flash Fiction.

Here are the Rules of Play:

  1. Flash Fiction at Carrot Ranch begins Wednesday March 5.
  2. New challenge issued each Wednesday at noon (PST).
  3. Response is to be 99 words. Exactly. No more. No less.
  4. Response is to include the challenge prompt of the week.
  5. Post your response on your blog before the following Wednesday and share your link in the comments section of the challenge that you are responding to.
  6. If you don’t have a blog, you may post your entry in the comments as long as it is business-rated, meaning don’t post anything directly on my blog that you wouldn’t want your boss to read. Your blog, your business.
  7. Create community among writers–read and comment as your time permits, keeping it fun-spirited.
  8. When the next challenge is issued, I will post the response links to the previous challenge.

See you next week at Carrot Ranch! Lasso some time to ride on over and herd some words on March 5, 2014.

 

Flash Fiction Becomes a Challenge

Carrot Ranch Flash FictionAfter exploring options for developing the Carrot Ranch Flash Fiction on Wednesdays (beginning March 5), I’ve refined two points. First, I’m clarifying that this is a “challenge,” meaning that any writer can participate. Second, there will not be a link option in the body of the hosting post.

 

These two changes alter the rules of play. Here is what to expect:

  1. Flash Fiction at Carrot Ranch begins Wednesday March 5.
  2. New challenge issued each Wednesday at noon (PST).
  3. Response is to be 99 words. Exactly. No more. No less.
  4. Response is to include the challenge prompt of the week.
  5. Post your response on your blog before the following Wednesday and share your link in the comments section of the challenge that you are responding to.
  6. If you don’t have a blog, you may post your entry in the comments as long as it is business-rated, meaning don’t post anything directly on my blog that you wouldn’t want your boss to read. Your blog, your business.
  7. Create community among writers–read and comment as your time permits, keeping it fun-spirited.
  8. When the next challenge is issued, I will post the response links to the previous challenge.

At this point, I feel like the new buckaroo on the ranch, and I have no idea if the other buckaroos will want to play cards with me. That’s okay. We can start slow. The point is for the challenge to be engaging to writers, including me. I’m inspired by other creatives and want to meet people who are tackling the same writing issues as me.

If this grows into something bigger, I’m considering making the challenge a contest. Top three responses would be highlighted and one monthly winner selected from the top responses to receive food. That’s right, I said food. Fun, foodie, organic stuff that I have access to on the ranch. No, not carrots from my garden, but prizes from vendors in the natural food industry.

But for now, mark your calendar for March 5 and stop back next week for a final reminder. This buckaroo looks forward to meeting you and reading your responses!

Tips For Writers: Justifying Changes

Tips for WritersYes, I’ve been talking out loud and no one but the dogs are in the house with me. You might think I’m suffering from cabin fever here at Carrot Ranch–after all, it has snowed, rained and spit ice-balls over the duration of a week. According to my smartphone, I’m in for another seven days of breezy with snow, sun and snow, chilly with snow, followed by a chance of snow.

It’s dull, gray and squishy-wet.

Which leads me to the thought that I don’t want my website to be dull and gray like the late winter weather in the northern Rockies. So, I’m talking to myself as if you were all here with me because when we write, we never write alone. We write for an audience.

Who do I think you are? Well, mostly I think you are writers, dedicated to your dreams and determined to see your writing come to fruition. Some of you might be bloggers or content writers looking to connect. A few of you might be reading because you need a business writer (my hand is raised for the job, if that’s you).

Here’s the situation–a year ago, I thought you were all potential clients for my contract work. What has changed is my game plan. I thought it would be another year or so before I reached the point that I’d be more interested in building my writer’s platform than my freelancing business.

Don’t get me wrong, I still need my client gigs to butter my bread (and at the ranch, this buckaroo likes real butter). But my writing has significantly shifted toward my creative goals. Thus it was time to make changes to CarrotRanch.com.

Whenever you make changes to your platform, you need to talk out loud and justify those changes. If the audience talking back to you is different, then, yes you do need to change. Yet, keep this in mind. What you change in one place must align with all your social media.

Here are some tips for when you have justified the need to make any updates or changes:

  1. Have a game plan. When buckaroos round up the herd they don’t just ride off into the hills. They map out where the springs and meadows are located, knowing these to be likely spots for range cattle. Likewise, as a writer you need to plan for the best places to write, when to write and how to progress your writing. For some of you, this might be a vision and for others, it will be a written strategy.
  2. Establish goals. If you have a game plan, the goal is to win, which means something different to each of us. The buckaroo wants to gather all the herd and you want to herd words into a publication. Set goals that are specific and have a deadline. What do you want to win? Answering that will help you forge your goals. I want to build a rock-solid, fully-engaged writer’s platform by the end of 2014.
  3. Know the impact of changes. You see, without a game plan and goals, changes don’t impact much because you are just roaming around the hills expecting cattle to come to you. Reality is that you need to be strategic with your writing if you want to win something. This means that changes you make will have an impact. Know what they are before you commit to the changes.
  4. Maintain consistency. You as a writer are your own brand. Be aware of making changes that impact your brand. If I get tired of horses and buckaroo analogies and suddenly change my header to pink pandas, there’s going to be a huge disconnect. It would be like changing the genre of your book mid-way through the writing. That would be weird and would disrupt reader continuity. So think about your brand, always.
  5. Proofread. Anytime we alter our static pages, we run the risk of making a mistake, including typos or word omissions. Always take time to read over your changes. Sometimes errors get through and the next day our eyesight improves. I always come back and re-read my changes after a day or two. The beauty of online is that corrections are easily made.

So, what changes did I make? Since my game plan has changed, so has my target audience. I thought about what would be useful to change, delete or keep. My home page, “The Ranch” is revised. It offers a brief background so that you know I have a credible history and I’m not just writing about writing. It also includes my two key blog elements (“Tip for Writers” and “Carrot Ranch Flash Fiction”). It also keeps a call to action for any potential clients, but shifts to my creative writing emphasis.

Speaking of creative writing, I renamed the vague page “Inspired.” Now it’s clear that the page and its corresponding tab read, “Creative Writing.” The last changes were to update my “Credentials,” including my photo to match the one I’m using on other social media sites. That’s tightening my brand consistency. Nothing changed about my services or client preferences so those remain. Neither did I change the “Legend of Carrot Ranch,” which is just a fun way to brand my own story about me as a buckaroo writer.

Are you thinking about making changes? You can leave a question or comment. Discussions are welcome.

Chocolate From the Ranch

Recipes From the RanchHe always gets me at chocolate.

How can we not embrace a day that professes love and chocolate? Dear Ones, I’m speaking of Valentine’s Day. And that’s today, which calls for a chocolate recipe that’s so easy you can love it all the rest of the 394 days in a year!

Originally, this ranch recipe hails from the genuine rodeo wife of legendary saddle bronc rider, Butch Small. It’s called oatmeal fudge (I know, not very romantic-sounding). But add dark cocoa and it’ll be love at first bite. Add a few extra goodies like white chocolate chips and dried cherries and Cupid will sing in your kitchen. Here’s the Carrot Ranch version:

Chocolate Live Bites

  • 2 cups sugar
  • 1/2 cup canned milk
  • 1/4 pound butter
  • 2 Tbsp. dark cocoa powder
  • 1 and 1/2 cups quick-cooking oatmeal
  • 1 package white chocolate chips
  • 1/2 cup dried cherries
  • 1 tsp. vanilla

Boil the first three ingredients for 2 minutes. Add cocoa and and oatmeal, mixing well. Add the chips, fruit and vanilla last. Let it sit for about 20 minutes, then drop by the spoonful onto waxed paper. Once solid, store in a bowl and share with the ones you love.

Or hide away near your desk.

NoBake Cookies (2)

Power of Word Prompts

Carrot Ranch Flash FictionThe first word prompts I ever used were issued weekly by my 7th-grade teacher, Mr. Price. It was called a spelling list and the assignment was to use 10 of the 20 words in a story. That’s when I discovered my calling as a storyteller.

Word prompts continue to make for enjoyable practice. Practice makes for better craft, of course, but it also can be freeing. If it’s just “practice” then the writer can leave behind her critic or his editor, and just do the one thing we all want to do–write.

Take a break to have fun, and you just might return to your work renewed with playful creativity. I’m looking for some writers to play with once a week. The game is flash-fiction and each week will have it’s own prompt. Only 99 words, so not a big commitment. You can even develop a blog post around your submission and meet other writers–poets, bloggers, authors, j-students, teachers. If you write you are invited to play. Nothing serious; it’s just practice.

In the spirit of writing tight, I’m condensing the rules of play:

  1. Flash Fiction at Carrot Ranch begins Wednesday, March 5.
  2. New prompt issued each Wednesday thereafter for submission the following Wednesday.
  3. Entry is to be 99 words. Exactly. No more. No less.
  4. Entry is to include the prompt.
  5. Entry is to include the Week# in the title.
  6. Post your entry on your blog and link it to the host blog.
  7. If you don’t have a blog, you may post your entry in the comments as long as it is business-rated, meaning don’t post anything directly on my blog that you wouldn’t want your boss to read. Your blog, your business.
  8. Create community among writers–read and comment as your time permits, keeping it fun-spirited.

Here’s an example based on a flash-story I wrote back in 2008. The prompt was: “Write a short scene in which one character reduces another to uncontrollable sobs without touching him or speaking.”

Week #8: Incident in a Raspberry Patch

Raspberries spilled from Grandfather’s hand. He lay on his back, a gunshot wound to his groin, another spreading blood across his chest. I longed to go to him, and place new moccasins on his feet.

From my hiding place, I watched the white invader kick Grandfather with his boot, then tie a rope under his arms. He rode off with Grandfather dragging behind his horse.

Later I found Grandfather’s body in a refuse pit outside their town. Hair hacked off, body decaying, nostrils blown away by firecrackers celebrating the 4th of July.

Tears spatter like raspberries left in the dust.

©Charli Mills 2008

Questions? Leave me a comment!

Business Review: 6 Strategic Steps Online

Were did everybody go? Here we are…we’re online! Are you?

As a business owner, you might feel overwhelmed by social media. You can easily get started on WordPress and Facebook with 6 strategic steps. Read my article at azcentral.com for full details. It’s a quick 3 minute read: Need Help With WordPress & Facebook Marketing Strategy.

Need help strategizing your social media plan? I can offer you a review and a plan based on your time and resources. Contact Charli Mills at Carrot Ranch: wordsforpeople@gmail.com.

Tips for Writers: By What Authority

During NaNoWriMo* 2013, a fellow Wrimo** wrote a tweet along the lines that by 2015 every person on Twitter will have published a novel. That’s probably because writers were tweeting #NaNoWriMo  and #mybook like starlings garbling in a copse of cottonwood trees. It seemed that only novelists or aspiring novelists existed in November.

As one of the starlings, I think that’s swell; I’m not alone. How terrific it is that so many people are writing. If people are writing, people are reading, and I’m of the opinion that books cement important pillars of humanity, including imagination, critical thinking and life-long learning.

However, to those standing beneath the cottonwoods, it sounds like chaos–too many starlings.

Go beyond November’s gathering of novelists and we still have busy writing tweets, many linking back to blog posts such as this touting, “Tips for Writers.” What to read? What to write? By what authority? Tweet, tweet, tweet, all the birds sing.

The answer to the latter question is that there is no governing body that certifies a post as worthy or not. It all comes back to you. You, as writer, are the one to declare authority over what you read and what you post. Let’s break it down into a few guidelines that can help.

What to Read:

  • Recognize Quality. You’ll know it. It’s that post that captivates you with practical information, entertains you with humor or beauty, startles you into realization. As a writer, you want to be filling your head with good writing like a balanced meal.
  • Prioritize.  Avoid anything that doesn’t serve your purpose–sure kittens are cute, but unless you’re writing about a kitten-toting hero, posts on “My Cute Cat” might be a waste of your time. Instead, read that post on character development. Know what is important, and start with the important stuff first. Fluff can wait for a rainy day.
  • Seek Authorities. If you’re writing YA, read the blog posts of established YA authors. If you are looking for inspiration or encouragement, read posts from those you find inspiring or encouraging. Interested in traditional publishing? Follow what lit agents or publishing houses have to say to writers.

What to Write:

  • Think Process. Unless you are writing a book on sales, don’t start writing to sell. Share your process. What have you learned so far? What milestones have you achieved and how did you get there? You are the authority of your own journey.
  • Your Voice. In a tree full of starlings, your voice needs to be uniquely different. By writing everyday, you practice your voice, like a piano player warming up with scales. Give your voice an outlet. Write about the things you know and love. Maybe you do write about kittens because you have a barn full of them. Exercise that voice daily. It’s the one you are authorized to use.
  • Be an authority. Maybe you decided to write a book because you’ve read thousands. That’s makes you a book authority. What has your experience reading taught you about books? Maybe you’ve spent the last 10 years as a dental hygienist. You must certainly have something to say about teeth and people’s fears. How can you relate that experience to your writing?

By what authority am I even tapping at my keyboard tonight? As a student, my only saving grace was that I could write lengthy responses. My first attempt at a novel was writing about a girl named Silver who lived in an old mansion beneath a Comstock mine. Stories got set aside for newspaper writing. Small-town stuff like council meetings and obituaries. I had to try college twice before I nailed it the second time. Most of my successes have been because of the failures that proceeded.

Because I wasn’t afraid to fail or get rejected–oh, but I hate how it makes me feel like being kicked by a horse–I started querying editors before  graduated with my BA in English–Writing. What I learned is that regional editors were more likely to take on a new writer. 22 years later and I’ve had my by-line in regional and national publications hundreds of times. Nothing huge like “National Geographic,” but a solid sub-career as a freelancer.

Marketing became my actual career. It taught me to apply skills and experiences to a new application. It also taught me the value of seeking a mentor. I learned that my perseverance equated to leadership and not only did I get to build brand strategies I also got to build teams that worked together strategically.

Now, I’m semi-retired in that I still freelance some and I still take on a few marketing communications clients. But I’ve returned to that old binder that harbored my dreams of writing fiction. So, I’m pooling all this swath of experience into reflections to help cultivate me and other emerging novelists into successful starlings.

And that’s what you can expect from me: tips that cultivate, ideas on how to be professional as a writer, and stories that relate to my experiences and processes.

Explanations:

  • *NaNoWriMo = National Novel Writing Month
  • **Wrimo = One who attempts to finish a 50,000 word manuscript project

9-1-1 Meatloaf

Recipes From the RanchAs I sit at my desk and write, I smell of A-1 Steak Sauce. That’s because I forgot my protective cooking gear, namely an apron.  The belly of my t-shirt is wet from a hasty scrub of dishes, and you get the picture–I was rushed fixing dinner at the ranch tonight.

You see, my husband is coming home after a week of working across state borders in Moses Lake, WA. He’s an A&P mechanic, turning wrenches on planes. Work is up and down; right now it’s up thus he deserves a nice home-cooked meal after working 10 hours and driving home three.

Only thing is, I have no sense of time. My intentions ran high earlier today as I baked a yellow cake while hauling wood and building a fire to heat the house. He called on his break and I promised dinner in the oven by 7 p.m. Well, shoot-fire, it’s 7:15 and the dogs are near collapse because I forgot their 6 p.m. kibble. Who can keep track of all this AND write?

Rushing downstairs, tossing kibble into bowls I open the fridge. Hamburger. Oh, now I remember–I was going to make hamburger-lentil soup with cheddar dumplings. That’s out of the question at this late hour. Ah, meatloaf. That’s quick and the house will greet my hubby with a savory aroma. Oh, yeah, and I need to use up those mushrooms so I’ll saute them in garlic butter and toss them in the loaf. Scrumptious.

But alas, I’m out of Muir Glen Organic Ketchup (best ketchup in the universe, f.y.i.). Then I see the A-1 Sauce. That will pair nicely with the mushrooms. When our kids were little (they’re grown, so don’t think I left them in a chicken coop or something while hubby was away) they used to call A-1 Sauce, “9-1-1 Sauce.” Not sure why but we let the nickname stick. Tonight it fits; A-1 Sauce to the rescue!

Recipe From the Ranch: 9-1-1 Meatloaf

  • 1.5 pounds hamburger
  • 1/4 cup Panko crumbs
  • 2 Tbsp. Worcestershire Sauce
  • 1 egg, slightly beaten
  • 4 Tbsp. half and half
  • 1/2 tsp. Smoked Paprika
  • 1/2 tsp. sea salt
  • 1/4 tsp cracked black pepper
  • 1/2 package of sliced mushrooms (4 oz.)
  • 3 cloves hard-neck garlic, chopped
  • 1 Tbsp. butter
  • 1 tsp. tarragon
  • 1/4 cup A-1 Sauce

Pre-heat your oven to 350 degrees. Get the mushrooms sauteing in the butter with the garlic and tarragon. While that’s going, mix the rest of the ingredients (except A-1 Sauce) into the hamburger; don’t be prissy about using your hands. Do wash your hands after mixing. Once the mushrooms are smelling divine and are soft, add to the meatloaf mixture. I dump the mixture diagonally into a square glass baking pan and mound it into a loaf with a nice flat top. The measurement for the A-1 Sauce is an approximation. The idea is to cover the top of the loaf. Sprinkle with extra tarragon for garnish. Cover with foil and bake for one hour.

While making the meatloaf, I scrub a couple of Idaho potatoes, prick each side with a fork and toss into the oven. After 30 minutes, I flip the potatoes and start steaming fresh broccoli on the stove.

A note about the half and half–we don’t drink milk, and I bake with buttermilk. The only other dairy I have on hand is the hubby’s coffee creamer (and if your creamer is something like Irish Cream Coffee Mate, use your horse-sense and don’t put it in meatloaf).

911 Meatloaf

Revision Review: Genre Shopping

Revision ReviewI’m shopping for a genre. It’s kind of like shopping for jeans; tugging at zippers, wiggling into tight denim, frowning at the low waist-band. What’s the best fit, I wonder.

Some writers know exactly what genre they’re writing–mystery, YA, lit. It’s like knowing that Levis 501s will always fit. You don’t even have to go to that cold dressing room in the back of the feed store to see if Wranglers might be it.

When you write, just write. Don’t let these niggling thoughts of fit and function distract you. Write. But when you revise, you need to pause and consider the big picture.

Let me explain how I got to this point of looking at different genres on the shelf and why it matters at this point in revision.

When I began drafting “Miracle of Ducks,” the story seemed like one of faith. When I mentioned the word faith to a publisher at Rain-Taxi in Minneapolis, MN he smiled and kindly directed me to the Christian publishing house two booths down the row. With the reference to the Christian publishers–who were very welcoming and interested–I wasn’t sold that my story was Christian, but it easily could be with intentional revising.

In 2012 I completed the first draft. Revision has been slow for me. Much slower than writing, and I understand that I have tons to learn about mastering a project as long as a novel. It ain’t no 2,000 word profile on a cranberry bog or regional beer. And I’m in it for the long-haul, not the publish-quick-as-horse-spit fix.

Since this is not a quick process, I decided to crank out a NaNoWriMo project each year so that I’ll always have material to work. With my 2013 project, LuLu offered a free manuscript review to Wrimo winners. The DNA of my second project came back as a “sci-fi thriller.” That’s not what I expected!

However, when I read the reasoning behind the review results, it made sense. It described my writing style: expressive in dialog, rich descriptive passages, breezy language and kinetic motion. Accordingly, my manuscript placed a premium on plot and character, engaging the reader early and keeping the characters active. It is a common profile for mystery, thrillers and romance. The “sci-fi” tag recognized that my protagonist is a climatologist in the arctic.

More genres to try on: mystery or thrillers? No, I don’t enjoy reading them often so I wouldn’t want to write any. Romance? Yes, this cowgirl likes Julie Garwood and Jude Devereaux. And, according to the Romance Writers of America, it’s a mighty popular genre, generating over $1.438 billion in sales in 2012. I might have to kill off a character, though…tempting.

In order to progress, I’d have to make major structural revisions to craft “Miracle of Ducks” into a sci-fi thriller, romance or Christian novel. And what debuts as the genre, becomes the genre. Even Ann Rice writes about how difficult it is for even well-established writers to cross genres in their career. Not to mention, as I research agents and publishing houses, they are genre-specific. No use wasting my time or theirs with a genre-less orphan or a family of mismatched genre manuscripts.

But before I give up on the jeans, I have one more pair to try on: commercial fiction. According to AgentQuery.com, this genre “…uses high-concept hooks and compelling plots to give it a wide, mainstream appeal.” It also places a premium on plot and the characters are active. Sound familiar? But the best part is, “…commercial fiction maintains a strong narrative storyline as its central goal…” That’s what a storyteller likes to hear.

The zipper is closed on this shopping spree. I’ve found my genre.

Why Flash Fiction?

Carrot Ranch Flash FictionLet me tell you why I’m excited to share flash fiction with other writers.

Back in “ye olden days” of the initial Gather.com, it was the first social network site that I joined. It was created to give voice to those who typically followed and responded to National Public Radio. The idea was that Gather was a collection of people who were poets, artists, photographers and writers. You could share and read the stories of others who were intelligent, engaging and creative.

While active on Gather, I met many people who are now good friends. I learned how to write tankas, cinquains and other short-forms of poetry because I was inspired to try. What I learned from practicing poetry, is that the creative exercise unlocked my mind. In fact, cinquains became the opening to all my department meetings–I actually required my staff to show up to weekly meetings with project updates and a poem. By that simple act of creation, my team became more open to creativity.

As a storyteller, my favorite short form is “flash fiction.” It is similar to cinquains only in brevity. Beyond that, it is a story. By challenging yourself to craft a story in 99 words, you unlock potential in your brain. When the brain shifts into problem solving, it shifts into creativity. The constraint of 99 words adds to the problem solving activity and you will be amazed at the results.

Not only is flash fiction fun, it can be powerful. The short stories can resonate in unexpected ways with readers. A benefit of regular practice is that you also learn to “write tight.” You will find that after practicing flash fiction, your sentence structures will become more dynamic. You know, the experts always say, if you’re going to write then you need to write regularly. I’d like to tack onto that statement–have fun!

Are you with me? Do you want to infuse your writing with more creativity? Do you want to practice weekly flash fiction with other writers? Then get ready for this coming blog hop. Here are the details:

  1. Carrot Ranch Flash Fiction begins March 5 and continues every Wednesday.
  2. Look for the weekly prompt (such as, “Facts About WWII”) on Wednesday and submit your Flash Fiction link to that blog post by noon (Pacific Time) the following Wednesday to be promoted in the blog hop.
  3. Yes, this is a blog hop. You will write your Flash Fiction on your own blog (any day before the Wednesday deadline) and submit it, using the link-up widget supplied at Carrot Ranch.
  4. Carrot Ranch will promote all the submissions and make comments on each one. You are encouraged to read and comment on the other submissions, too. It’s a great way to get to know other writers and connect with authenticity.
  5. With enough active participation, this blog hop will grow into a contest. Random House is giving away a box of Kind Bars and a Valentine’s Day dinner for a writing contest they are hosting, so I figure, writers must like to eat. I do. And I’m connected when it comes to food. So I’ll be networking for food prizes so that winners can declare, “I’m not a starving artist!”

Questions? Comments? Leave me a note! Share this coming Carrot Ranch Flash Fiction post with other writers and let’s get to know each other, practice our craft and have some fun!

Here’s an example of a flash fiction I wrote on Gather to the prompt, “Facts of WWII.”

“Now what I want is, facts.” My mother’s cousin made this demand with her pencil poised to record the facts of WWII. I glanced to the hospital bed where my once giant grandfather now lay withered and wasted.

“Fact,” he said, wheezing, “I enlisted in 1942…Marines…”

“And?”

“I earned top rifle scores…one of eight men…selected to guard…Admiral Nimitz.”

“Why were you selected?”

Although weak, I saw him grin slightly, replying “Looks…build…smarts.”

She grilled him for 20 more minutes then left. Once the door shut my Papa’s eyes filled with tears. “Facts are easy to recall…what I faced…I will never tell.”

©Charli Mills 2008