November 5: 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.

November 6, 2014

Carrot Ranch Flash FictionOn Day One of NaNoWriMo I was at a loss as to where to dive into my project. I write by weaving back and forth between time and characters. I just didn’t know where to begin. So I wrote about my own barn cat who materialized as Mr. Boots.

That makes the real-life Bootsy my 2014 NaNoMuse.

Bootsy was a ranch cat who lived by Elmira Pond long before I arrived. When the Hub and I rented this splendid little piece of Idaho, we were obligated to “feed the barn cat.” It’s in our rental contract. We get reimbursed for kibble purchased and are provided a self-feeder in the garage.

We didn’t see much of the elusive Bootsy that first winter. When I planted my garden, she visited me–once. The Hub occasionally saw her and she always makes an appearance when Rock Climber visits, but Rock Climber is already a crazy cat lady who is single with cats.

Prior to NaNoWriMo, Bootsy began hanging out around the house more often. She has an amazing stare that can get me up from my office chair to the nearest window. And there she is, by the fire ring or in front of the kitty door (to the garage) looking at me. Someone evidently recruited her to be my muse.

What is a muse? Mythologically a muse is one of nine sister-Goddesses who cultivate creative impulses. Simply,  a muse is inspiration. Muses can tease, frustrate, beg for kibble and knock over your wine glass. As long as you write, it doesn’t matter what amusements your muse creates. Over at TanGental, we see a muse as providing the Ultimate NaNo Fear.

November 5, 2014 prompt: In 99 words (no more, no less) write a story inspired by your muse. It can be about a muse, about longing for a muse or being thwarted by a muse. It can be serious or a-musing. It can be prose or poetic. Whatever you and your muse agree upon.

Respond by November 11 to be included in the weekly compilation. Rules are here. And below is my muse and flash offering. Ah, no more Sarah Shull here! But do join me for daily Coffee for WriMos to see Sarah’s story evolve.


Quest of Two Winds by Charli Mills

Two Winds hiked to the peak his Grandfathers called Beehive. Gray rock rippled, shaped like an upturned hive, rising above the tallest of the tall pines. His steps required the aid of his hands and he scuttled like a baby bear to reach the top. No man could walk upright to the Beehive. If he were arrogant enough to try, he’d tumble to a dishonorable death below. Two Winds must reach the top to tie his offering on the old wapiti tine and wait until inspiration answered him. It took many turns of the sun to write a wife-poem.


My Muse Stretches Before Inspiring Me to Feed Her

My Muse Stretches Before Inspiring Me to Feed Her


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  1. Annecdotist

    Oh no, swallowed my comment first time round!
    Just to say, fab flash and I’d better get off now and look for my own muse.

    • Charli Mills

      Oh, no–into the WP black hole! Thanks, Anne!

  2. TanGental

    I’ll mull with my muse mylo the mutt mostly meandering in the misty muddle of my mind

    • Charli Mills

      Masterfully manifested Mr. Le Pard.

  3. paulamoyer


    By Paula Moyer

    I was 15.

    In my dream, I walked onto Life’s Path. I received a bag. “These are your burdens,” someone said. “You carry them throughout Life.” Its weight on my back bent me over.

    Then I saw the girl standing beside me. She looked vaguely like me. She was my Guide, she said.

    “This bag is heavy,” I complained.

    “These are your burdens,” she answered. “I can’t take them away. Lift your arms forward. Raise the burden on the person before you. When you share her load, it will lighten your own.”

    I woke up. I knew my calling.

    • Charli Mills

      So good to see your muse has stirred! Welcome back! A beautiful visitation for a beautiful calling.

      • paulamoyer

        Thanks, Charli!

    • ruchira

      This was a beautiful tale about your dream, Paula
      Wishing you the best!

    • Charli Mills

      That’s one way for your muse to give your neck a crick! Your muse has similar eyes to mine. I do love black cats–so elegant. My muse was on the porch again and delighted that I drank my coffee on the steps as she dug her nails into my knee with that cat-claim upon my person. Glad you like this prompt!

  4. Sherri

    Muse…hmmmm…after reading about Simon the cat I do wonder about my two swirling around me like sharks when they want feeding. That and nudging up to my laptop if I’m typing on the sofa. They are right little nuisances but I love ’em 😉 Love the pic of Boots…what a cutie. Will be back but not with Bill this time. Happy Trails :bear:

    • Charli Mills

      Ha, ha! We once had a cat we called the Table Shark. When the kids were little, she’d circle beneath their feet at mealtime hoping to get a dropped morsel. If no one did, she’d start randomly biting little legs! Cats are such incredible nuisances and I had to find a home for my cat when I moved and it broke my heart. I swore–no more cats! Ah, Bootsy, had to convince me otherwise. Amazing what a little nuisance she can be and she lives outside on the ranch. Look forward to a new story. Happy trails!

  5. Pete


    It strikes me at work, rippling through my brain. Heeding the call, I make an excuse to leave. It’s ridiculous, being alone to write about people. But I can’t slow the words, the furious pace. They’ve arrived, like anxious guests. Now I have to get it down.

    Brushing along. Please don’t talk to me. Why yes, the game was incredible. Uh huh, love that show. Now please, move. Let me go.
    The pen is dead. I pound it on the page, gashing, hoping for it to come to life. I try another. It writes…I write.

    But now, no words.

    • Charli Mills

      Wow…that’s it! The muse comes and goes and the going is despairing, the coming always at the wrong time. The pacing is beautiful–it feels like the push and shove to move quickly through a crowd without having to interact.

    • Georgia Bell

      Fickle, fickle muse. I can totally connect to the furious pace as well as the dead pen.

    • Sarah Brentyn

      Ugh. Yes. I wish people wouldn’t talk to me while I’m trying to hold on to a story. So, really, I wish people wouldn’t talk to me. 🙂

  6. Sarah Brentyn

    Go Ask Alice

    When Alice was three, her teddy bear told her how to shape play-doh into intricate fairy houses with working windows and doors.

    When Alice was seven, her Barbie doll showed her blueprints for an underwater city and she won a sand castle competition with her “Mermaid’s Mansion” sculpture.

    When Alice was fifteen, her parents brought her to doctors who tried to stop Alice hearing voices and hallucinating.

    When Alice entered the psychiatric ward, her doctors said it would be temporary. It was. After Alice died, they found her paintings—now in a gallery at the Metropolitan Museum of Art.

    • Annecdotist

      Wonderful, Ms Brentyn, it’s sent a chill right through me.
      Also a nice link with my WIP – but I promise not to steal Alice!

      • Sarah Brentyn

        Ooh! Do tell! How does Alice link up with your WIP? I read your 99 from each character but I must have missed something.

        Steal away! I loved writing about her in my flash this week and maybe she was brought to light so you could incorporate her somehow. She’s all yours, if you wish.

    • Charli Mills

      How moving! That fine line between genius and insanity is often drawn by others. I’m with Anne–gave me chills.

    • paulamoyer

      Oh, my. Totally good, totally gripping.

    • TanGental

      outrageously good in 99 words; flash envy? Grrr!

    • Pete

      Love this. Well done!

    • Georgia Bell

      I wish there were more Alices in the world. Haunting, Sarah.

    • Amber Prince

      That was brilliant Sarah!

    • Sarah Brentyn

      Oh my gosh. Thanks, everyone! I so appreciate the comments / compliments. You all made my day. 🙂

      • Charli Mills


    • Lisa Reiter

      Another spine chilling twist from you Sarah. Love it 🙂

    • Charli Mills

      A peli-muse! That’s great! As to word count, whatever your word processor counts is fine. I think mine counts hyphens. You have a joyous week, too and thanks for sharing the happiness!

  7. rllafg

    Muse Refused by Larry LaForge

    “Damn. It’s stuck on 72 degrees.”

    **Sir, I know you can’t hear me but please wait. I admit to being a desktop weather station of questionable quality. And yes, I’m permanently on the fritz. But there’s a reason I’m stuck on 72 and SUNNY.

    “Say hello to the trash can, you piece of crap.”

    **Please. Just hold on sir. You need me, even in my current state – ESPECIALLY in my current state.

    “What else will go wrong today?”

    **That’s what I’m talking about. It’s your negative attitude, sir. My permanent sunny disposition can help sooth and inspire you.


    The 100-word version of this story is posted at larrylaforge100words on Flash Fiction Magazine.

    • Charli Mills

      Ha, ha! Oh, dear, don’t toss away your muse’s sunny disposition! Sometimes we have to remember to come at the whole inspiration thing with a more open mind! 🙂

  8. Norah

    Love that you are thinking about muses, and I really enjoyed reading the struggle in your flash. It may be only 99 words but it tells a much longer story! There are already some great contributions here. I hope to join in this time, if I can find a muse meant for me! 🙂

    • Charli Mills

      Thanks, Norah! I hope you muse finds you (and if it has a sunny disposition, don’t toss!

      • Norah

        I’m ready to roll on Tuesday – revisiting earlier themes. 🙂

      • Charli Mills

        Fabulous! And I really enjoyed your last post on alternative models of education. It was a much needed reminder for me to refocus on what I’m passionate about and not rely on the black and white definitions of success. Sometimes we fail to do what we wanted, but we are enriched by the experience and use it for progressing something else.

    • Charli Mills

      Walking boots qualify!

    • Charli Mills

      Coffee and cake make fine muses! But I really like the ideas expressed in your post regarding your dad. Mary’s character continues to deepen.

    • Charli Mills

      Sometimes simple is very effective!

    • Charli Mills

      Oh, very good! I’m off to find where you went! 🙂

    • Charli Mills

      Thank you, Georgia and Sarah B.! Hey, we like romance here at the ranch. 😉


    Well, I’m amazed, I’ve actually got the post done in time this week:

    Brightest Blessings and lots of NaNoWriMo angels,
    Tally 🙂

    • Charli Mills

      Yay! Perhaps your muse is working this week (mine doesn’t always work–sort of like a wind-up watch). Thank you! Lots of blessing your way, too!

    • Charli Mills

      Festering thoughts during NaNoWriMo could be a good thing! 😉

  10. Norah

    Hi Charli,
    I hope I’m not too late. I’ve had my post ready for a couple of days but almost forgot to press ‘publish’. Only reading your posts prompted me! Thanks. 🙂

    • Charli Mills

      I’ve been writing and going out with the Hub for free veteran’s meals today so I’m very late! Amazing the stories I heard from him and other vets today. Even got to see the Pack River before it freezes and the mountains snows too deep to access. Thanks for adding to the day! 🙂

      • Norah

        Thanks Charli. 🙂 I read about the meals and stories in your post. Haven’t commented there yet – will soon. Will we get to see photos of the Pack River before and after freezing. I’d love to see it one day. I’ve never seen a frozen river.

      • Charli Mills

        The river won’t freeze solid but most years it freezes over and snow blows across and you can hardly discern that it is a river! Sometimes a warm wind might blow in January (called a Chinook) and the rivers start to melt prematurely, causing ice dams that build up under bridges and in narrow spots. It’s a crazy winter flooding phenomenon, but I’ve only seen it happen once! I’ll post some before and after freezing photos!

      • Norah

        Not being able to tell that it’s a river sounds dangerous, for anyone new to the area and didn’t know anyway. The Chinook is an interesting name for a wind. There’s a helicopter called a Chinook, I think. The ice dams sound dangerous too. Pretty maybe, with danger lurking the prettiness. I look forward to the photos. 🙂

    • Charli Mills

      Not last and none here are least! You’ve given me moments of breakthrough with Bites, I hope a Flash did the same in return! 😀

      • Lisa Reiter

        I’m certainly developing my third person narrative and I’m trying some tricky bits of memoir with that – like vignettes – see what an editor thinks though!
        Now get on with your NaNoWriMo – you could do with ‘like’ buttons on here to press at this stage of the conversation. No need to reply but I love your flash – being the unconscious creator that I am, I only see what I’ve achieved once it’s down on the page – so now you say this, I’m going to read my piece again later and see what I discover!
        Love from the Crazy Chicken Lady xx

      • Charli Mills

        I like that style of story-telling you are setting up? Hmmm…where are my like stars?

  11. Rachel E. Bledsoe


    • Charli Mills

      Thank you, Rachel! I felt like a tigress today (better than feeling like an abandoned kitten at the shelter). 🙂

      • Rachel E. Bledsoe

        Absolutely!! I hope you are tearing through word after word.

      • Charli Mills

        Good thing writing doesn’t generate dust! 🙂 I’m tearing through it!

  12. Rachel E. Bledsoe

    Submissive Submissions
    By: Rachel E. Bledsoe

    Last week her muses were Deborah, Samantha, and Edith. The names forever change in the address lines. Each time they give her hope. Each piece she carefully crafts to their whims. Too many hours are lost worried about the emails she will receive back. Will they bear the news she craves?

    She is losing herself in this vocabulary world. She is panting with warm breaths carefully crafted stories.

    And yet she forgets; they’re not just stories. These words are her life. They are her childhood. They are her teenage youth. They are hers. They are bought for a price.

    • Charli Mills

      Fabulous flash! That the submitting editor is our muse of the week is so relevant. And yes these stories are valuable. May they be valued elsewhere, too!


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