March 26: Flash Fiction Challenge

Written by Charli Mills

Charli Mills, a born buckaroo, makes literary art accessible at She writes about the veteran spouse experience and women forgotten to history.

March 26, 2014

Carrot Ranch Flash FictionLast week’s challenge rounded up seven new stories of flash fiction. Reader responses are holding steady, too. You can read each week’s posted stories in one convenient place on the Carrot Ranch blog or you can read individual posts as they are submitted on the Carrot Ranch Communications Facebook page. If the responses are posted at the writer’s blog, I link to that blog through Twitter, Facebook and Google+. Lots of sharing!

Last week, I looked into the issue of “duplicate content.” A hearty buckaroo “thank you” to a friend and fellow colleague with whom I’ve built websites with for other companies. She helped me interpret the confusing, sometimes contradictory information about that particular topic in relation to search engine rankings. Carrot Ranch is compiling submissions for the ease of readership and includes link-backs to submitting blogs. We feel that this is acceptable.

However, if you are concerned about duplicate content, simply respond in the comments! In fact, several of our writers do just that. If you have a blog, a link-back can still be included in the compilation or FB page listing. This is meant to be creative fun for both writers and readers. We aren’t selling or buying anything here. It’s an opportunity for writers to practice craft within a supportive, friendly environment and for readers to discover and interact with new talent.

So, that’s house-keeping for the week–appropriate as it’s the season of spring cleaning.

Each week, I also want to include something practical for writers whether its a tip for flash or a place to submit writing. We all know that writers have to write. If you play piano, the more you practice, the better you get. Same with writing. You can think of writing flash fiction as playing scales. Or it can be the beginning riff of a new song you compose. Several readers have responded to flash fiction saying, “I want to read more of the story!” Your flash can develop into a new project for you.

What kind of project? Well, here’s one I’m excited about and according to social media hits, so are a lot of other writers: the Amtrak Residency. Between March 17, 2014 and March 31, 2015, Amtrak will select up to 24 writers for a train-ride residency. How cool is that? Selection is on a rolling basis, so there is no “deadline” per say, but the earlier you apply, horse-sense says the better.

Yet, some writers don’t like one of the terms. Whatever you submit in your application, Amtrak will retain the right to use that content. What this means is that Amtrak wants to use good content to promote the quality of their program. Just be thoughtful about what you submit. For example, if you’d like to use the residency to work on your novel, don’t actually submit pages from your novel. Submit a well-crafted short story or essay. And how do you get an idea for writing such? Practice flash fiction weekly! See, it has it’s benefits.

Okay, onto the prompt. The wind is moaning like a gang of ghosts today, reverberating through my office windows. Wind can be pact with emotion–it can feel haunting or exciting. It can recall memories or stimulate the imagination. Wind is our prompt, today.

March 26, 2014 prompt: In 99 words (no more, no less) write a story that includes the phrase, “It’s just the wind.” Respond by noon (PST) Tuesday, April 1 to be included in the compilation. May your writing lead to happy trails! (Or an Amtrak train ride.)

Waiting for Company by Charli Mills

Each morning, Lilith shuffles across pale pink linoleum to brew coffee. “Be ready for company,” Pa would say. After much gurgling, the pot radiates an aromatic invitation. If it’s strong enough, maybe the new neighbors who bought Johnson’s old Black Bear Ranch will visit. Sitting alone at her Formica table Lilith dabs at a sugar cube in her cup. Her wrinkled eyes close, recalling old sounds. Scuffs of cowboy boots. How black-brew tinkled when poured into enamel cups. The rumblings of male chatter from the wooden porch. A board creaks and Lilith’s heart stirs. Company? It’s just the wind.


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  1. RealHousewifeSL

    Awesome! I heard a little about the Amtrak Residency…I wasn’t quite sure how it worked but it sounds like a pretty cool opportunity!!

    Loved you fiction…really great writing!

    • Charli Mills

      When I first heard of the residency it was just an idea circulating through social media. Then Amtrak put it out there for writers and I think it would be so much fun! Thank you, I appreciate that you enjoyed my own bit of flash. Give it a try! The prompt helps give you something to free associate to–write what comes to mind. Then go back and add or cull your words until you have 99. It is fun!

  2. Paula Moyer

    Red-faced relief
    By Paula Moyer
    Jean was alarmed. As she opened the registers at work, she could not escape it. Pain in her lower abdomen – not the hallmark, lower right, could-this-be-appendicitis pain, but instead in her lower left. It was so sharp, she could hardly walk. Her faithful husband arrived when called, and tenderly escorted her to the car. At the ER, the attending physician suspected a kidney stone that had gotten stuck in her ureter. Urine sample, test upon test. The last imaging study was inconclusive. Then Jean went to the restroom. She emerged relieved but sheepish. “It’s just the wind,” she said.

    • ruchira

      good one, Paula 🙂

      Loved it!

    • Charli Mills

      Paula, that piece of flash is a blast! Thanks for the humorous interpretation!

    • susanzutautas

      LOL, I wasn’t expecting that at all 🙂

    • Charli Mills

      Glad the flash is tickling your brain! Great writing, Ruchira! Wouldn’t Amtrak be a terrific residency?

    • Charli Mills

      What a great flash! I’m so happy to welcome you to Carrot Ranch!

    • Charli Mills

      Flash poetry! Thanks for thinking of that creation, Susan. Great interpretation of the wind!

  3. Norah

    Hi Charli, Look what just blew in – my flash piece for this week: Thanks for the challenge.

    • Charli Mills

      Ha, ha! I love that it “blew” in, Norah! And I’m very happy to have you in the challenge. I hope you are realizing its benefits!

      • Norah

        Thanks Charli. I always like a bit of a play on words. I am enjoying the challenge of a new genre and of making every word count. (There goes that play on words again!) It is a bit of a change from my more serious writing.

      • Charli Mills

        Word play, indeed! It’s like recess for the studious writer.

      • Norah

        Can’t seem to reply to your next comment, but I love that: “It’s like recess for the studious writer.” A great analogy!

      • Charli Mills

        I’ve noticed that the replies end after just a few…it may be something I can adjust, but I’ll need to look for where and how! Yes, recess is necessary to learning. 😉

  4. Charli Mills

    Thank you Writers for meeting the challenge this week! You made it a “blast.”


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