January 14: Flash Fiction Challenge

Written by Charli Mills

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

January 15, 2015

January 14Back in the early 70s the National Anthem made me sit tall in the saddle despite how small I was. My white-gloved hand pressed over my heart and  my other kept a firm hold on rawhide reins. The horse I rode was a sorrel named Gayfox and he was 17 hands tall. I was five years old. Unlike the cowboys I rode with, I kept my brown felt Stetson on my head because I was a girl and girls didn’t remove their hats for the flag.

The flag snapped as the Bolado Park Rodeo Queen cantered her horse in sweeping circles in the arena where my father rode bulls and his father competed in the unique buckaroo figure-eight roping. Some uncles would milk wild cows for comic relief and at last I’d get my chance to tie a goat. I only have the fuzzy snapshots of memory, but clearly I remember the gloves, the smell of horses and the Anthem. It might have looked like this:

Fast forward and I’m 21 years old and have accepted my first newspaper job as a beat reporter. Because I needed a non-buckaroo wardrobe, I sold my last horse, Scarlett the Harlot. I didn’t name her. I bought her from a preacher-man who didn’t have the ability to train her, and she was a pedigreed American Quarter Horse with cutting futurity potential. I chose to follow my dream to be a writer and I left behind my buckaroo life.

A new life ensued: babies and ballet, college and cross country, work and gymnastics. Freelance writing. Business communications. Marketing. Editing. Copy writing. Busy times. And the season has passed. I’ve returned west to revive dreams of novels that came to me when my arms were full of babies or my mind cluttered with work.

Somehow the buckaroo roots, the professional pen and the lingering novels in my head united as Carrot Ranch. It came to me as a sleeping dream. I woke up and wrote down that I was going to have my own business marketing, writing and educating. I set up Carrot Ranch based on a vision as fuzzy as those rodeo memories, but each time I came to it I worked on goals.

You probably don’t know my original website–it was a consulting-based business card. Last year, when I did a similar round of reflection and recalculating, I went literary. It was a thrill. I kept some pages so that I’d have landing spots for consulting business, but the truth is I land clients over the phone. Thus my strategies for that work has shifted and my niche has narrowed.

So last year I set a goal to find writers who would want to participate in weekly literary activities–writing, reading and discussing. I had no one in mind, but I wanted to rekindle that community feeling I experienced in college, workshops and in writing groups. I wanted to see if constraints still sparked my creative battery. I worked out my idea and developed a plan and process.

It worked. The flash fiction challenges have created authentic engagement. The quality of writing and the input has been rewarding full circle. My creativity has deepened and I’ve learned from so many other talented writers. Each weekly compilation is joy to read. We have created something real here.

Carrot Ranch is literary. My next goals have to do with building a readership base. Carrot Ranch will be a place to bring readers with exciting new content weekly and introductions to the writers behind the stories. I’ve even crafted a page listing books by the writers who gather here (under construction).

I hope the Rough Writers find this beneficial as much as the readers. I hope we can collaborate and expand some of the gems that reside in our archives. I hope this really feels like a literary community where writers can explore and create and readers can discover and relate.

A note about the new design, both Carrot Ranch and the Congress of the Rough Writers logos. A huge and heartfelt expression of gratitude goes to honorary Rough Writer, Ann Rauvola. Ann is a talented professional and I originally her met online through viewing her work. We both lived in Minneapolis and I brought her my employer’s publication for a redesign. She’s graciously worked with me ever since on This is Living Naturally, earning the publication three top national awards.

My Carrot Ranch dream, originally jotted down in a notebook was something I shared with Ann. She’s patiently waited for me to realize what it was to be–a literary community–and has tirelessly sought fonts and colors and feedback to develop the logos. She even held my hand today as I frittered with Twitter to get the banner to fit. I feel like that Rodeo Queen, snapping the banner of Carrot Ranch as we all cheer, ready for the next show to start.

First, note that this redesign and new pages is a “soft launch.” That means no promotion yet. First, I have glitches to work out including the bio page and its structure. I also discovered that I compressed the bio photos incorrectly and they uploaded all squishy. At least I figured out how to redo them.

The Bunkhouse Bookstore will link to books that the Rough Writers & Friends have authored. If you are in an anthology, cookbook or some other compilation, send me your Amazon book links. If there are readers among our literary community with books worthy of listing, shoot me a recommendation. It’s intended for emerging or fresh (less than 5 books) authors with whom we know through the circles of this group.

A collaboration poll is listed on its own page (if I’ve figured it out; if not it will say under construction). This project has greatly tested my WP abilities. I feel as though the past two weeks has been one rodeo ride after another. Still tweaks to make.

So let’s get this wild west show on the road Rough Writers! I can thank newly inducted Rough Writer, Sarah Unsicker, for pointing out that writing flash is writing a moment. Thus the new challenge.

January 14, 2015 prompt: In 99 words (no more, no less) write a life span. It can a life of a person  as if flashing by or the life of a honey bee. What key elements would show a lifetime in brevity? Does it add to a character’s development or create tension? What is the emotion or is it void?

Respond by January 13, 2015 to be included in the weekly compilation. Rules are here.


Named by Charli Mills

The seed endured frozen ground. When the thaw brought moisture, the seed swelled, pregnant with life. A bud born in the dark sought the light. Pushing against obstacles like million-year old stones and pasture sod and moss, gasping it emerged. Rain wet the bud, sun coaxed it to grow tall. Beneath a circling red-tailed hawk in a blue sky, the bud unfolded white petals. The horse snorted at it, then press a velvet nose to the grass and munched. The day the children plucked the seed grown up, they shouted its name in delight, “Mama! A daisy for you!”

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  1. Annecdotist

    Most impressed with your blog and website makeover, Charli. The colours are lovely and the logos (but one day in I’ve already forgotten what it was like before) and very excited about how you’re pulling the ranchers together, even if it remains unclear what exactly we are pulling towards!
    I enjoyed imagining you as a tiny tot sitting on your huge horse listening very solemnly to the national anthem, and such an interesting journey you have made from there into writing, but easy to see how this new venture is bringing all your skills together.
    I loved your flash of the life cycle of the daisy – I feel an urge to do a potato (since I’ve got in mind to buy my seeds this week)! Well I just might, if nothing more sparkly strikes me.
    In the meantime, hope you’re having a good rest – I think you were up pretty late to putting this together!

    • Charli Mills

      Thanks, Ann! I like that–gathering the ranchers. In this variable book market, I think it’s important to have space where we can show our individual tricks with words. It’s a good foundation for building bleachers that we can fill with readers. I hope this dynamic serves each writer and reader that passes through the Ranch.

      I like the potato idea! Already? Sigh…it’s snowing here. When do you plant your potatoes? I’m looking at seeds. Have you ever planted ground cherries? Something new I’m going to try this year.

      • Annecdotist

        Traditionally, the potatoes go in the ground at Easter (Good Friday to be exact) but you are advised to chit them first. We’ve definitely got potential for more snow before then but I think from last year’s conversations your growing season starts later than ours.
        No experience of cherries, I’m afraid. We do have a tree but the birds get the thing before they’re ripe and it’s too tall to net it.

      • Annecdotist

        Actually – ground cherries – I don’t even know what they are?

      • Charli Mills

        Ground cherries are like a tomatillo, a small fruity tomato. I have a cherry tree, too and the birds got all mine last year. What is it to chit a potato?

      • Annecdotist

        So you grow them like tomatoes, presumably. And ‘chitting’ is when you leave them in the light to get tiny sprouts – that’s the traditional way but I think it’s been shown to be unnecessary!

      • Charli Mills

        Like tomatoes, but they are shorter, bushier. A friend in Minnesota sent me seeds she harvested. Okay! Thanks for explaining chitting!

  2. TanGental

    Charli, what an amazing job you’ve done/are doing. As Anne notes it looks as if sleep might be the victim here. And the picture of tiny Charli and enormous horse makes me shudder (as you know I subscribe to the view that the horse is dangerous at both ends and bloody uncomfortable in the middle). Throw me off a bridge any day! But equally wherever you roam, I’ll be along for the ride, hanging on grimly perhaps but hanging on.
    And off to the rockery for me…. Poor Mary it must seem like a lifetime since her world fell apart.

    • Charli Mills

      Thanks, Geoff! I had been collecting, writing out ideas in notebooks, then writing up pages in Word, and Ann gave me all the variations of the logos and headers so I thought yesterday would be easy: just implement! Ugh. Not the case. Your Rough Writer photos compressed into squishy pics that made you all look like you were carnies. Then Twitter won’t load the banner correctly. I couldn’t find the polls nor can I set up the links…okay, you get the idea. It wasn’t the cake-walk I expected. But Norah should appreciate all the learning I’m doing! As you contemplate more anguish for Mary, here’s my idea of bungee jumping:


  3. Sherri

    Love the new look Charli, wow, you’ve really been working so hard! The new banner looks amazing, I love it 🙂 So exciting reading all about your journey and how it has all come together, your vision for Carrot Ranch. I know of your computer frustrations, and how darn difficult it is when you just want to get everything up and running and always, always, the problems and glitches… but you got there! I am humbled and honoured to be part of your literary community…thanks so much for having me 🙂
    I also wanted to say that your video and early rodeo memories remind me of the time I took my eldest son as a little boy to our first rodeo and mid state fair in California. Wonderful memories 🙂 I love your flash too “Mama, a daisy for you!” So sweet. And now for a lifetime of memories… 🙄

    • Charli Mills

      Thanks, Sherri! My computer has become my zen master and I’m not sure I’m an apt pupil! But I’m deep breathing. A lot. 🙂 I’m so glad you rode this way and got roped into writing fiction. Small town rodeos are the best. Did your kids enjoy the rodeo clowns? They have a tough job, protecting the cowboys riding bulls. I’m looking forward to your lifetime in a flash! Maybe Maurice’s life as it flashed before his eyes? Hee, hee…

      • Sherri

        Well, you came through with A Stars my friend 🙂 So proud of you <3 I was always so scared for those rodeo clowns, what an amazing job they do, and yes, the kids did enjoy them very much. Oh such great memories of those days…
        And actually, thanks Charli, that's a fantastic idea for Maurice…you've really roped me into that one, thanks!!!

      • Charli Mills

        Aw, thanks! <3 And those rodeo clowns are something else. Some are good comedians, too. Oh, no, poor Maurice! Ha, ha!

      • Sherri

        Oh yes…poor, poor Maurice, haha 😀

    • Charli Mills

      I could remove it but I actually like it! 😀

  4. Sarah Brentyn

    Wait, what? How did I post that up there? ^^^ *looks around to see if anyone saw me trip* Nope. Good.

    I LOVE your site. It’s gorgeous. The banner is amazing. Love the whole makeover — the pages, the setup, the colors…everything. Didn’t even read the post, just wanted to say “Ack! Love this!” or something before I tripped and nobody saw me. I’ll be back. (Don’t mean to sound threatening with that.) 😉

    • Charli Mills

      Ha, ha! Thanks, Sarah…and nobody saw you trip here!

  5. Irene Waters 19 Writer Memoirist

    Enticed with a carrot – I can’t think of a nicer way of negotiating the world of the writer. Loved hearing your journey to this point and am excited by your plans. The web site is looking great and the collaboration sounds fun. Larry’s 100 word dash THE 100 WORD DASH in the Amazon Kindle Store could be added.
    Well done Charli. That has all been hard work. Off to ponder all of life. For a memoir writer 99 words on this subject is a hard ask but then this is fiction so who knows. I will return.

    • Charli Mills

      Thanks, Irene! Some people dream of the finished product; living the dream for me is the whole process. It used to be that writers were stereotyped as loners tapping on a typewriter with a cigar and bottle of whiskey. Socializing happened after the book. I love the modern writer’s life that feels more people and process oriented. Oh, definitely I’ll be including Larry’s DASH! I feel so bad…by the time I got to the bunkhouse I was frustrated by all the unexpected hurdles so it looks like I opened a door and tossed a few books into an empty room. Not the look I’m aiming for! An extra challenge for the memorist, but you’ve turned into quite the fictionist!

      • Irene Waters 19 Writer Memoirist

        Don’t feel bad Charli. Putting all that together was quite a feat and I know you would have realised it yourself. You must be plum tuckered.
        I think that perhaps we are loners. I know that I don’t do well in crowds but put me with people I feel comfortable with that are on the same wavelength you might have to ask me to shut up. Without the carrot ranch and social media, a lot of authors would not have had access to like minded people and they were probably lonely and drank and wrote. Now we can converse, throw ideas around and not feel that we are alone in the writing huddle. It’s great.
        Yes I’m enjoying fiction but I really am starting to think that historical (fiction/creative non-fiction) may be my niche. Time will tell.

      • Charli Mills

        I can imagine that we’d all be so chatty around the campfire! I’ve always felt more talkative around like-minds and kindred spirits. I think this is a nice alternative. You could write such awesome historical fiction! Given your wry twists and sense of humor with your knowledge and research abilities you’d have a stand-out voice in the genre. Hope time tells a good tale!

      • Irene Waters 19 Writer Memoirist

        I used to love the campfire sessions as a girl guide. With like minded people it would be so much fun roasting those marshmallows and telling spooky stories.
        The future will tell – for all of us and I agree – I hope it is a good tale.

      • Charli Mills

        Wow! That’s a great piece of writing, Irene. That last sentence reflects the anguish and anger of a downward spiraling life.

  6. Sarah Brentyn

    I can see you, as a little girl, on that horse. I’m so happy you’re “home” again. I can just picture you in your beautiful space with the pond and horses and dogs and crows…

    This place is wonderful. You’ve done something so special with this blog. (I love the makeover, as you know, too. Ann did an amazing job.) When did you start the Flash challenges? I thought I came in after most of the other writers… ? Love your flash this week!

    • Charli Mills

      You’ve been a terrific cheering section today…you must be wearing your bonnet! It is home online and in Elmira. I’ll be posting retreat information soon, too. 🙂 Thank, you. I’m glad you feel the welcome of home here. And yeah, Ann is amazing. I started the flash fiction challenges March 5 last year. I wanted to create space where writers felt free to explore and share and talk about what we read and what we write. And I like the idea that the space can evolve as we do. It really is an exciting time to be a writer. I forgot to write mine so that was a rushed flash!

  7. Rebecca Patajac

    Such a wonderful journey you’ve had. Full of trials and rough patches no doubt, but after it all, this community has been created, alongside a (no-doubt) loving family. You should feel proud 🙂
    I’m enjoying the changes to the website and can’t wait to see what else you come up with. As I said, the banner has a great literary feel with a touch of magic (perhaps a bias view), I love it. You are doing so well, and yes, I agree with the others, sleep is probably a victim, as it is for a lot of writers. Try not to stress too much and relax through the process!
    Your flash piece was beautiful, I adore how much of a seed/plant’s struggle you have portrayed; I have a soft spot for nature. It was a joy to read.

    Once again, I have completed a piece of my own for this prompt! I myself am quite proud. I think I’m finally getting into a routine since moving house.

    Anyway, here is the link, and I hope you enjoy it 🙂

    Take it easy Charli! You are doing great.

    • Charli Mills

      Thanks, Rebecca! You are so right–Ann has that element of magic in her work. She often alters photographs in such fine strokes that you can’t “see” the enhancement but they look like something real yet other-worldly. And she gets color. Her colors are always rich. The copper she forged here is magical! My loving husband has sat through many idea sessions with me no matter how much it bores him. 🙂 Or how wrong his feedback is! My eldest has been supportive too, my middlest is always cheerfully encouraging and my youngest is in a similar field and we can have great conversations. You’ve also given me a great idea–I’m soft on nature, too. Maybe I can write more nature flashes from the perspectives of the migrators that fly through…see…it takes interacting for creativity to come to life! I’m happy to hear you are settling into a routine after moving. And I’m excited to go read your piece!

  8. Norah

    I don’t know what I can add to all the above comments. Your new look is amazing and you are doing an awesome job. I am honoured and proud to be numbered among the Rough Riders. I very much enjoyed reading your story and “dream” of the Carrot Ranch. You are well on your way to achieving it. So many writers’ lives in a moment have that central hiatus when other needs intrude. I’m so pleased you have found the space to lasso your dream and rope the writers and readers in. It’s a mighty project, some could say a little wild, but I know if anyone can do it, you’re the buckaroo who can!
    Oh, and your flash is pretty good too! 🙂

    • Charli Mills

      Thank you, Norah! It is a wild dream but it’s coming along nicely. I’m not satisfied to just write books. I want to engage with people. And I’m still a marketing nerd so I like giving myself challenges beyond fiction. Pretty much, I’m just a writing buckaroo having fun. So happy to have you along for the ride! 🙂

      • Norah

        What is life if it’s not fun! I’m in there for the fun, and the challenge, too! 🙂

      • Charli Mills

        We need both! 🙂

  9. Pete

    Hooray for literay! Love the new look site, and wow, what a beautiful flash Charlie!

    • Charli Mills

      Hooray, indeed! The world needs more literary! Thanks, Pete!

  10. Pete


    Albert dug in at the makeshift home plate, where many summers later his own headstone would rest. Ed delivered the pitch, a steaming fastball that later earned him that scholarship to State. Albert fell behind the pitch, just as he stayed back after the family farm dwindled from many acres to only a few.

    The fastball thunked the Chestnut tree, the one his grandfather planted after the war. With a chuckle, Ed wiped his brow. Supper was called.

    At dusk, Albert would hobble out to the sprawling tree, where he’d sit with a smile and listen to the memories.

    • Pat Cummings

      Love the sense of foreshadowing here, and the -ZIP!- as a life passes in the shade of an enduring tree.

    • Charli Mills

      Such beauty in watching the old man listen to the memories. You accomplished an interesting technique, bending multiple moments and characters into one. A great expression of a life span!

    • Irene Waters 19 Writer Memoirist

      Good portrayl of life using the memories and also shrinking the size of the farm from many acres to only a few. That really made me visualise the passing of time.

      • Pete

        Thanks Pat, Charli, and Irene, I appreciate the kind words!

  11. Pat Cummings

    Charli, I love how your prompts mesh with what’s going on in my head each week! (Except when they don’t, but even that is good.)

    My flash this week ( http://goo.gl/rVRkni ) is a dash, Renee’s Dash through a full life.

    • Charli Mills

      I have a 50/50 chance each week! Dashing off to catch your dash!

  12. rllafg

    Charli – The site looks awesome! Here is my miniscule contribution to this week’s challenge.


    Ant Life by Larry LaForge

    “On average, you’ve got 60 days. Make them count.”

    With that cheerful news, I was given my birth certificate and directed to my assigned ant farm. The Queen was a real b****, so I decided to head out on my own. After all, I only had about 60 days.

    I found a nice home with lots of crumbs on the floor. I kept a low profile, had plenty to eat and a warm place to sleep. I watched videos every night with my unsuspecting host family.

    On day 67 it happened, by accident I think.

    The kid stomped me.

    The 100-word version of this story is posted at larrylaforge100words on Flash Fiction Magazine. http://flashfictionmagazine.com/larrylaforge100words/2015/01/17/ant-life/

    • Charli Mills

      Aren’t the queens always that way? 🙂 Glad the ant had a wonderful life…until the end. Thanks, Larry! And for your Round-ups, too. I’ve linked tho them under the Congress page and then I stole your title to offer a subscription to monthly Round-ups. 🙂

    • Charli Mills

      That is a great way to distill the process! And congratulations on finishing your draft! I still think of it as a first draft…after all, it is a draft and it did emerge fits, regardless of speed or deliberation. It’s so interesting to dissect the process and attempt to name it.

  13. Jeanne Lombardo

    Adding my equally vociferous praise to that of other Rough Writers from last week’s post. Love the new design. Love the banner (kudos to Anne) and the coppery text. And so appreciated the short history of Carrot ranch and your journey and your vision for the future. Now I must try not to give up on my own plans before I begin, in light of the tremendous amount of work this website has obviously been.
    This week’s post brought memories of my days as a VFW Junior Girl, of annual Memorial Day Parades and bearing flags in the Arizona heat (keeling over from it once) and solemn ceremonies: high patriotic fervor beating in my bony, little chest.
    Loved the prompt, too! And your life cycle of a daisy, with its triumphant ending, the bestowing of a name on a small sliver of life in the vast universe of nameless things.

    Here is mine, revised from a poem…

    This Hand

    This hand was first a plum, a silk-shot pillow that hung, soft and cool, round my mother’s neck, plucking pearls from the air with snapdragon fingers.

    It grew to be a swan, long in neck, studied in its movements. It preened; posed; glided. It graced the shoulders of young men, and lay peaceful in repose.

    Then it hardened. Knuckles became nuts. Work traced a map on its back. Rivers bulged purple beneath skin thin as an onion’s.

    Now, it is a tool, plucking truth along with beauty, fashioning thoughts into time-prints on a page.

    A fallen fruit, unadorned, beautiful.

    • Charli Mills

      Thanks, Jeanne! The coppery color is a full of life, just like the writing we share here. 🙂 Keep working your own plan. I don’t believe it’s ever “done” as the nature of digital platforms are ever-evolving. Keep maximizing upon what you have. I love your own shared image as a VFW Junior Girl and how those moments can suddenly cast so much meaning and memory upon the red, white and blue. And, that you re-purposed a poem reminds me that we can indeed pack much in few words. An extrordinarily beautiful epic flash.

    • Annecdotist

      Love this, Jeanne

    • georgiabellbooks

      This is beautiful. “Knuckles became nuts” is my favourite line.

  14. rogershipp

    If Only Ms. Summers Knew…


    Leaving the kickball field I sprinted to the front of the second grade line.

    “You boys are fast,” smiled Ms. Summers waiting for the rest of the class to line up. “Nice job, Mathias. You almost caught him.”

    “Thanks, Ma’am.” Mathias smiled his innocent smile. “I tried.”

    “Yes, you did. Why don’t you and Andrew hold the doors for the rest of the recess classes today. Just meet us in the lunch room.”

    “That would be great.” his smile even more compelling.

    Drats….My pocketed hands looking for my change… Matthias’s tuna sandwich again. And we were having tacos!

    (This one was hard. I could only think of topics I did not want to write?)

    • Charli Mills

      Sometimes the prompts lead to odd connections or even disconnections. Either way, go with what comes up. It’s good to push through when something feels hard. So good for you in doing that!

      • rogershipp


  15. Sarah

    I could only scan all the comments, but I love the site redesign. It is beautiful. And you must have put a ton of work into it–thank you for all you do for this community! It is obvious that it is a labor of love.

    I’m trying to imagine my just-turned-six-year-old on the back of a horse. I’m surprised, but the picture comes easily. I’m sure you were as confident, if not more, than I picture my six-year-old would be. Seventeen hands is a tall horse! You are lucky to have that experience of family and tradition, all wrapped up with horses.

    I’m glad you took my comment, I think–you certainly did challenge me with this one! I really had to think outside the box to come up with something to write about. Then I didn’t name it, I’ll make you guess what I wrote about. Enjoy the challenge. 🙂


    • Charli Mills

      Thanks, Sarah! And while 17 hands is a tall horse, his gait was soooo smooth! I had to get into the back of the ranch truck and stand on the edge just to get into the saddle. 🙂 My family had a terrific cowboy history, but a dark side, too. I spent most of my adult life unwrapping myself from horses because of it. Moving back west, living on a small rented ranch and having access to horses again has been exceptionally healing. I’ve come to know peace with my past and can fully enjoy horses again. Perhaps that’s part of the joyous expression of Carrot Ranch. The other participating in the greater community of writers and feeling like I can create a space that gives as well as receives. Although I don’t want to receive what you wrote about! Ha, ha! I’ll battle that lifespan! Good take on the challenge and way to make it fun with a game! Thanks for the inspiration for the prompt!

      • Sarah

        It is tragic how families are never all good. They are (almost) never all bad, either, which makes them hard to let go of. I’m glad you have been able to make peace with your past and move on, and that you have come back to horses. And I can just imagine you climbing onto the truck to get on your horse!

  16. Norah

    Hi Charli,
    I see above that my post has already been linked, but here is the “straight” version if that makes it easier for you to compile:

    Magnum opus
    Incarnation 1
    “The end” he chiselled, exhausted but satisfied. Reaching the final tablet atop the precarious stack he stumbled, taking them into the quarried chasm whence they had come.

    Incarnation 2
    With a flourish as feeble as his sight and worn-out quill he scratched “The end”. Placing the final parchment he bumped the oil-fuelled lamp, and succumbed to the flames with his lifelong work.

    Incarnation 3
    Draft. Save. Edit. Save. Rewrite. Save. Not yet. Stash . . .
    Reread. Hmm. Rewrite. Save. Edit. Save. Done! Crash. Gone!

    Incarnation 4
    They wafted somewhere in the cloud . . .


    • Charli Mills

      Ah! I was waiting for a comment, Norah! When I saw the pingback I thought you were “working on it.” Thanks for nudging me. 🙂

      This is beautiful–the evolution of writing a story. Incarnation 3 is…familiar…And I hope the future is in the clouds, the vapor in the sky. That seems so connected beyond the digital straining. 🙂

      • Norah

        Hi Charli, I wasn’t intending to nudge. I hadn’t noticed a pingback before although WordPress tells me it happens automatically for WordPress blogs. Thanks for your positive comment. 🙂

    • tallypendragon.com

      Very witty, loved it, Norah!! 🙂

      • Norah

        Thank you! 🙂

  17. georgiabellbooks

    The updated site looks great, Charli. And yes, I think I can say confidently that the Rough Writers find it very beneficial. I’m happy to be one of them. Here is this week’s contribution (http://georgiabellbooks.blogspot.ca/2015/01/climbing-my-own-mountain.html)
    She started and ended the same way. Fragile, dependent, full of curiosity and wonder. In between her first and last breath, she learned to love, to hate, to be brave, to forgive. She learned that grief made her life more meaningful and taking risks is what kept her alive. She became stronger than she thought she’d ever be, and softer too. Able to soothe the glorious, savage beast her body brought into the world. She watched the tiny boy grow into a man she loved as much as the one she had lost. She had lived. She was proud.

    • Charli Mills

      Thanks, Georgia! I’m glad you are liking the ride! 🙂 The pacing in your flash adds to its impact. Beautiful writing!

    • Charli Mills

      I have to keep the prompts tricky because you are all too clever. Ah…off to see if Mary has been relieved of some suffering…

      • TanGental

        It’s abuse through wordsmithery.

    • Charli Mills

      Remember–I dwell in the 12th hour in Pacific Standard Time with a natural inclination to be frequently befuddled by what time it really is. 🙂

  18. C. Jai Ferry

    This is my first time participating in your flash fiction challenge, but I am so glad I found your site. (I didn’t really get to see the pre-makeover site, but I love the current design and information.)


    • Charli Mills

      Welcome C. Jai! I’m so glad you found your way to the Ranch! The horse got a pedicure. 😉 Off to read your writing!

    • Sarah Brentyn

      Just beautiful. <3 Welcome to the Ranch.

  19. guidaman

    Lucia by Phil Guida
    A wallet size black and white photo of Lucia as a younger woman was hauntingly familiar. While doing a thorough document search the image of her dark beauty followed me from room to room. Lucia died 3 months ago. Her husband Henry preceded her 6 weeks later. The house was vacant of life except for the furniture. There were diaries and books, jewelry and music all pertaining to the world of séances and rituals. My pace began to quicken when I discovered another photo in my pocket. I quickly said a proper goodbye, but never forgetting that she lived.

    • Charli Mills

      This flash has a haunting quality to it, Phil. So mysterious, too! The name goes well with the lifespan. You are getting into your groove. Are you setting up a blog? You will have so much fun! 🙂 Keep writing and sharing with us!

  20. paulamoyer

    Life Span of a Project

    By Paula Moyer

    First, a glance in a needlepoint store. The picture on the front of the kit – a violin. It spoke to Jean. She had started college as a music major but switched to history. Now in graduate school, not even a page of sheet music in her apartment. Still, the idea of music.

    She bought the kit and juggled yarn, diagram, pattern on canvas. Every night, after work and classes. Violin emerged, then black notes of music. It accompanied to her summer job.

    Every stich finished, but canvas torqued. A friend blocked it. Six months later, framed and hung. Finally.

    • ruchira

      Loved it, Paula.
      Your hard work being framedup to be admired…why not!!

    • Charli Mills

      What a great way to thread the important ideas of a person and keep a project around for its meaning as much as its appeal.

  21. paulamoyer

    Gorgeous website, Charli! I decided my “life span” would be that o the needlepoint kit I worked 40 years ago.

    • Charli Mills

      Thanks, Paula! I love that idea–the lifespan of a project, and one that reflects a life connection.

  22. tallypendragon.com

    Oh, what a beautiful new site! Such a pleasure to behold, and an even greater one to pin a fresh flash on to! I’m in awe of your creation, Charli, and soooooo happy to be able to use it! In a bit of a hurry right now, so no post until later on, but here’s the flash:

    Merlin’s Life-Span Reflection

    Is it so hard spending the afterlife in a tree? It certainly gives me perspective. I look at those tender young years in Avalon, the beauty of ritual, the unconditional love of the women–how the magic grew there! I look at the life of Merlin the Kingmaker–solemn work, with little respite, little thanks! But it’s to the early years that I look most, all that bright adventuring with my beautiful archaeologist and her mild-mannered man: we built the impossible monastery, showed the world that there was another way–such a shame it didn’t want to listen.

    I’ll be back later to post the, umm, post 🙂

    Sending veeeerrrryy Bright Blessings to ALL from the UK today,
    Tally 🙂

    • ruchira

      loved your take tally. You covered so many dimensions in a span that it makes me appreciate this mild mannered man 🙂

      • tallypendragon.com

        Thanks, Ruchira :-). So sorry about your friend, he sounds like one of the good guys. He would be honoured by your lovely tribute, for sure 🙂

    • Charli Mills

      Thanks, Tally! It’s good to have a place where we can share in creation! A great way for Merlin to reflect, in his eternal tree, looking back at the highlights. And through the ages, does the world ever learn to listen? Thank you for the bright blessings from the UK…I think I see the rays poking through the cloud cover! Sending more back at you! 🙂

    • tallypendragon.com

      And here’s the link to the post on my website now that I’ve finished it. There are lots of lovely pictures too:


      More Blessings,
      Tally 🙂

      • Charli Mills

        Fab photos! The painting of Merlin’s tree is stunning.

  23. Sherri

    Here’s mine Charli, took your prompt idea and went with Maurice! A lifetime of something for nothing? Here goes:

    Nothing For A Life – Sherri Matthews.

    Maurice staggered backwards, crashing into the hard, granite edge of the kitchen counter before sliding down onto the marble floor.

    “What the fuck..Sonya! What have you done!” He wailed as the cold steel of the knife sliced deeper into his chest.

    He heard the click of Sonya’s lighter as she lit up a cigarette.

    “I…gave you…everything.”

    “Not enough, bully-boy, not enough…” said Sonya, flicking ash on his chest.

    Maurice’s eyes closed as his life ebbed away. He could only imagine his wife’s shock when she discovered that he had left his entire estate to their housekeeper. And her cat.

    • ruchira

      ouch!! that is sad 🙁

      However, loved your take 🙂

      • Sherri

        Thank you Ruchira 🙂

    • Charli Mills

      Sonya made a bad investment. 🙂 You word her so wickedly. That line, “He heard the click of Sonya’s lighter as she lit up a cigarette,” really brings the scene and characters to life. And too funny! Bully-boy still wins!

      • Sherri

        She certainly did…and yes he does! Thanks Charli, it was you who inspired me to run with it. Again! About to hand over my laptop now to transfer everything over to the new one, hope to get it all back later today. I’ll be linking back to the Ranch again in my posts, but wanted to get my WPC post out yesterday (realising it was Tuesday, and so would have missed your deadline). I’ll get a better routine going once this laptop business is all sorted. Never a dull minute and all that…! Catch up with you as soon as and will email too…have a lovely day 🙂

      • Charli Mills

        Crossing my fingers for you and the new lap top! That topic just might fit the new prompt…:-D

      • Sherri

        Thanks Charli…watch out for my email 🙂

    • Charli Mills

      Thanks, Ruchira! May it be a remarkable year for you, as well. I’m sorry for the loss of your friend, but that smile will be a legacy. A wonderful tribute. And your story is added to the collection. I was actually early today! Quite unusual. 🙂


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