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November 5: Flash Fiction Challenge

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



  1. Annecdotist says:

    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.

  2. TanGental says:

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

  3. paulamoyer says:


    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.

  4. Lisa Reiter says:

    My muse is often a pain in the neck !
    Love this prompt.. Be back later 😻

    • Charli Mills says:

      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!

  5. Sherri says:

    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 says:

      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!

  6. Pete says:


    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 says:

      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 says:

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

    • 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. 🙂

  7. 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.

  8. Bootsy is such a cool name for a cat!
    I’be been amused by pelicans this week so my character was bemused by a peli-muse. But the story contains hyphenated words. Do they count as one or two? I’ll leave it up to you. Have a joyous week. 🙂 Thanks for the inspiration.

    • Charli Mills says:

      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!

  9. rllafg says:

    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 says:

      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! 🙂

  10. Norah says:

    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 says:

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

      • Norah says:

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

      • Charli Mills says:

        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.

  11. Annecdotist says:

    Still haven’t found my own muse (unless my walking boots count) but I have found someone’s:

  12. […] week, for Charli’s latest […]

  13. TanGental says:

    And thus it came to him. The inspiration he needed was there all along; it just needed coffee and cake and he was off on a rollicking ride of revelation.

    • Charli Mills says:

      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.

  14. […] along arrives Charli’s prompt. I’ve never thought of having a muse myself. If I had to choose one it would be Msemesone as […]

  15. A very apt subject for me at this time Charli and I have to say it has helped me with the direction I take.

  16. Georgia Bell says:

    Thanks (again) to Sarah Brentyn for the heads up on this week’s prompt. Great entries everyone! As usual, the romance writer is writing about romance.

  17. 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 says:

      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!

  18. […] Fiction prompt hit right on the nail head for me. November 5, 2014 challenge from over at the Carrot Ranch Communications prompt: In 99 words (no more, no less) write a story inspired by your muse. It can be about a muse, […]

  19. […] have returned to both these themes again in response to Charli’s most recent prompt to In 99 words (no more, no less) write a story inspired by your muse. I’m not certain who my muse is, but I am certain that it would be very difficult to call […]

  20. Norah says:

    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 says:

      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 says:

        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 says:

        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 says:

        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. 🙂

  21. […] Mills flash fiction prompt at the Carrot Ranch this week is to pen something involving a muse. I’ve been busy invoking mine, writing other things and Charli has patiently given me leave from […]

  22. Lisa Reiter says:

    Last and probably least! Great fun this one, nevertheless 😄 Thank you

    • Charli Mills says:

      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 says:

        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 says:

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


  24. 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 says:

      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!

  25. […] November 5 Prompt: Muse Flash Fiction Challenge over at Carrot Ranch […]

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