Carrot Ranch Flash FictionToday’s challenge was yesterday’s rain.

What I mean, is that the skies clouded over as if the Pacific Ocean showed up for an unexpected visit and poured on my plans. Yesterday me and the Hub were going fishing, 4-wheeling and picnicking.

Before the rain hit, Hub announces that the Blue Goose (our truck) is dead-dead. Not dead as in we need to jump the battery, but dead as in the battery no longer takes a charge.

That announcement came as I was pulling fried chicken out of the oven to cool for our to-go food. No truck means no 4-wheeling; no 4-wheeling means no driving anywhere but paved roads and who picnics on paved roads?

You see, 20 days out of the month I’m alone on this little ranch with nothing but dogs and ducks for company. I had the expectation of an “outing” and I planned it for Tuesday, in between writing goals. Determined to get out, we drove into the crashing waves of a Pacific Northwest thunderstorm. We escaped the downpour just 30 miles south of British Columbia, finding refuge in an antique store.

It was there that the owner made me realize that versatility is a virtue. You have to look for the gift in being adaptable. If not for the dead-dead truck, the rain and my determination that I was going to get off the ranch, I wouldn’t have met Sue today. It took meeting the antique shop owner to meet Sue who knows about Elmira.

Elmira is the town where I live despite my address posting as Sandpoint (16 miles south). Every spring I dig up clues in my horse pasture that the property we rent has a past. But no one knows about Elmira. So learning about Sue and that she works for the Boundary County Museum was a gift.

Of course, it meant leaving the ranch again today, but we left early, ate huckleberry flapjacks at the Elmira Store (the only remaining business here) and caught up with Sue at the museum in Bonners Ferry. At first she claimed not to know much, saying “Nobody knows about Elmira.”

Sometimes I think people mistake stories for being dramatic or exciting or important. They think they don’t have a story, or a place doesn’t have a story. But I’m a story-digger. Maybe versatility, the ability to turn from one thing to another, is why my mind can follow the bread crumbs forgotten stories leave behind. With Sue’s help, I’m onto a big Elmira story that is just now unfolding from all the clues I’ve collected in the dirt and at the museum.

I can’t wait to write that story, but wait I must. It’s time to turn to my Wednesday post and set aside Elmira musings and rain-fouled plans. I started to write another post before dinner, but decided that it didn’t fit. Part of being versatile is being flexible. I’m stretching it here tonight because I’m trying to accomplish a dual-purpose post.

Evidently my writing versatility has been detected within the greater blogosphere. In fact, a couple of other writers who’ve visited Carrot Ranch find it deserving of a VBA–Versatile Blogger Award.

versatileblogger111So what is a versatile writer? In the words of the organizer, “consider the quality of the writing, the uniqueness of the subjects covered, the level of love displayed in the words on the virtual page.” Love could be defined in several ways, I’m thinking–positivity of posts, words that build up others, passionate subject matter. Of course, if you want a hug from me, I’ll give you a {hug}.

My loving thanks goes to both nominators of the Carrot Ranch VBA–Norah Colvin and Teagan Kearney. Both writers are versatile, as well. They openly share what they are learning: Norah focuses on education; Teagan on writing fiction. You will find quality writing, unique subjects and love-on-the-page at their respective blogs, Norah Colvin and Writing My Novel. Thank you, both, for the nomination!

Rules. Even versatile writers have rules: don’t spit into the wind, keep your coffee away from your laptop, and always kiss your Hub/Wifey/Kid/dog/cat/horse goodnight. VBA has rules, too:

  1. Thank the person who gave you this award. That’s common courtesy.
  2. Include a link to their blog. That’s also common courtesy — if you can figure out how to do it.
  3. Next, select 15 blogs/bloggers that you’ve recently discovered or follow regularly. ( I would add, pick blogs or bloggers that are excellent!)
  4. Nominate those 15 bloggers for the Versatile Blogger Award — you might include a link to this site.
  5. Finally, tell the person who nominated you 7 things about yourself.

Number 1: check. Number 2: check. Number 3: check, except I’m going to shake things up. Number 4: check, see warning at Number 3. Number 5:

  1. I live in Elmira, Idaho with my Hub of 26 years and our two German Short-haired Pointers.
  2. I love stories–hearing them and telling them. I’m a story-digger. But I’ve never done story-slam.
  3. When I was 12, the local newspaper published a three-part cliffhanger that I wrote. All 96 residents of my hometown read it.
  4. I started college when my eldest of three children started kindergarten. I finished before she started college.
  5. I sat in a saddle before I could walk and I walked at nine months. My first pony was Barney.
  6. My ancestors were Jacobite Scots, Irish, Welsh, Danish, Basque, German and Portuguese.
  7. I like to fly fish because it guarantees that I will never actually hook a trout.

So, I’m going to pay this award forward a bit differently. After all, I’m versatile and I know the 15 recipients I have in mind are versatile, too. Many on my list have either received previous recognition, declined it or have have no blog. The latter is a bit of a stretch, but I’ll make it work.

And here’s why: Every Wednesday since March 5, 2014 Carrot Ranch has hosted a flash fiction challenge. Honestly, I had no idea if anyone would actually participate. But not just anyone has participated.Willing, creative, thoughtful, intelligent, funny, encouraging, kind, quality and committed writers emerged from all English-speaking corners of the world. The flash fiction they craft is insightful, their comments stimulating and their writing is top-notch.

My 15 recipients add to my own versatility in such positive ways that I want to recognize and thank each one. They make me think, laugh and push deeper into the writing process. My ranch is richer for their work. Yet they are more than flash-writing ranch hands. They are rough writers. Buffalo Bill Cody called the best horse-riders of the west his “Congress of Rough Riders.” I’m calling Carrot Ranch’s best writers in the world, Congress of Carrot Ranch Rough Writers.

Each week I will spotlight one Rough Writer and her or his blog. In preparation, I’m asking each to email me at answers to the following questions:

  1. When did you first realize that you wanted to be a writer?
  2. When did you start your blog? (If you don’t have one, why not?)
  3. What are your blogging goals?
  4. Do you have a writing mentor and if so, how does that person guide you?
  5. What writer do you admire most and why?
  6. What is your primary writing goal and what are you doing to achieve it?
  7. Has writing flash fiction benefited you in any way?

If a Rough Writer has already received a VBA, he or she may add a numerical count (such as 2x) to the award blog button. You’ve already paid it forward, so no need to repeat the recipient rule. If this is your first VBA and you accept the button, do your best to pay it forward when you can. Even if you wish to be an award-free blog (or you don’t have a blog), I’d still like to recognize you as a Rough Writer. Please email me your answers unless you are too terribly shy to be spot-lighted (then let’s talk)!

Honoring the Congress of Carrot Ranch Rough Writers 

Georgia Bell

Sarah Brentyn

Susan Budig

Norah Colvin

Anne Goodwin

Ruchira Khanna

Geoff La Pard

Larry Laforge

Allison Mills

Paula Moyer

Ellen Mulholland


Amber Prince

Lisa Reiter

Irene A Waters

Because I believe that Rough Writers will find their way to Carrot Ranch, looking for that prompt, I’m going to leave notification to this post. And if you are looking for that prompt…I know, I was off being versatile after being thwarted by the rain…I’m late. But technically, in my hemisphere and time zone, it’s still Wednesday!

If you are new to the prompt, know that this post is not typical, but do know that the Rough Writers listed are worth getting to know. If you’ve dabbled your toes once or twice before at Carrot Ranch Flash Fiction, please jump in! The more you practice flash, the more you’ll notice a shift in your writing and creativity. All writers are welcome.

Exhaustion. It can be mental fatigue, emotional, physical, even spiritual. I’m feeling pooped after my two-day adventure and late-night writing. Even good things can wear a person out. So that’s where we are headed this week.

June 11, 2014 prompt: In 99 words (no more, no less) write a story about exhaustion. Who is tired and why. Explore the different types of weariness from the subtle to the overt. Respond by noon (PST) Tuesday, June 17 to be included in the compilation.

No Rest for the Wicked by Charli Mills

Sarah rubbed the small of her back with her knuckled fists. Slowly she hung her neck forward, then side to side. Glaring at the cauldron of dirty water, suds and shirts, she lifted the paddle to stir again.

“Need a back rub?” Bill Hickok swung a long leg up over the top railing of the horse pen and perched like a blonde crow. Even his buckskin pants and fringed shirt shimmered golden.

“No. Just taking a breather.”

“I hear Mary McCandless is working the spunk out of you. Come on, Sarah, take a break. Even idle hands get rest.”


Rules of Play:

  1. New Flash Fiction challenge issued at Carrot Ranch each Wednesday by noon (PST).
  2. Response is to be 99 words. Exactly. No more. No less.
  3. Response is to include the challenge prompt of the week.
  4. Post your response on your blog before the following Tuesday by noon (PST) and share your link in the comments section of the challenge that you are responding to.
  5. If you don’t have a blog or you don’t want to post your flash fiction response on your blog, you may post your response in the comments of the current challenge post.
  6. Keep it is business-rated if you do post it here, meaning don’t post anything directly on my blog that you wouldn’t want your boss to read.
  7. Create community among writers: read and comment as your time permits, keeping it fun-spirited.
  8. Each Tuesday I will post a compilation of the responses for readers.
  9. You can also follow on Carrot Ranch Communications by “liking” the Facebook page.
  10. First-time comments are filtered by Word Press and not posted immediately. I’ll find it (it goes to my email) and make sure it gets posted! After you have commented once, the filter will recognize you for future commenting. Sorry for that inconvenience, but I do get frequent and strange SPAM comments, thus I filter.

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