February 4: 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.

February 5, 2015

February 4I know how Buffalo Bill felt watching his Wild West Show from the sidelines, astride his own horse with gloved hands at rest on the saddle horn, casually holding the reins. He knew how to sit a saddle — balls of his feet lightly pressed in equal weight to each stirrup, boot-heels slanted downward, posture straight, unlike movie cowboys who flop like slouching trout against saddle leather and press their feet too far in the stirrups so boot heels catch and toes point down.

Buffalo Bill knew that audiences might not know the difference between an actor or a real cowpoke, but he understood that they’d react enthusiastically to the authentic passion of riders — Native Americans, cowpokes or cavalry  scouts — when they rode a horse. The crowd roared with delight when each group performed a trick or re-enacted scenarios so smoothly no noticed things like how a cowpoke aimed his boots.

You can’t fake riding. Nor can writers fake writing.

Sure we all ride or write differently. Sioux warriors had no stirrups and leaned far over the necks of their horses in a full gallop. Texas cowboys had different saddles than California buckaroos and each wore different hats. Scouts were soldiers who held the reins differently so that they could also maneuver a rifle on the run. Some writers craft believable characters; others set scenes that pop to life like the start of a movie in a theater; and others twist plots that make eager bobble-heads out of readers.

Writing, like riding, improves with practice. Of course, you need to have knowledge, too. Those actors who slipped out of their saddles at a change of gait might have asked how to avoid it next time, just as a writer struggling with dialog might read a post by an author who has mastered it. It becomes a cycle of learning and applying.

But you have to write and be willing to fall once in a while.

Then there are those cowpokes who love the riding so much that they sing with joy to the prairie sun, “I’m lonesome but I’m happy, I’m rich but I’m broke.” These are the riders that Buffalo Bill sought for his Wild West Show. The riders who, like him, knew the joy of living on the back of a horse despite its hardships the same way some writers know the joy of living on the words they express despite it being a tough career or a demanding hobby.

Each week when I compile the stories of the Carrot Ranch Congress of Rough Writers & Friends, I know how Buffalo Bill felt when he watched his Rough Riders perform. It’s good to have others who share the love of the ride/write. Writers who write (blog posts, reviews, essays articles, short stories, poems, letters and journals) are as authentic as riders who ride (appaloosas, cow-ponies, cutting horses, race horses, jumpers, trail-blazers and Percherons). And the results are worth beholding.

Like many of the riders who rode the wild west show circuits, many writers seek the purse (fame and fortune). Cowpokes, Indians and buckaroos created rodeos as a way to win a cash prize and hear an audience cheer. Writers seek a cash prize in publication and receive cheers from readers who review. Neither is easy to achieve and booing is an unwanted possibility. To ride successfully you have to be able to connect with your horse. To write successfully you have to be able to connect with your story. Both have to win over audiences.

Thus, I’m calling my manuscript publication process The Rodeo. At first, I named it the Great Rejection Rodeo to acknowledge that rejection is part of the process. Manuscripts get rejected for many reasons; some are within a writer’s control and some are not. Some days, you draw a bad horse to ride. Yet, it occurred to me that rodeo riders never say, “The Great Broken Bone Rodeo” so why am I fixating on the inevitable negative when it is the ride that gives me joy? When it is the purse I’m doggedly pursuing come broken bones or rejection? The Rodeo it is.

And there’s a big rodeo coming up in March called the Out of Binders Symposium held in Los Angeles at UCLA. It includes a line up of workshops, networking with established authors and a VIP event with literary agents and publishers. My name was called in the draw and I won a scholarship. It makes me feel like these lines from the song, Cowpoke (give it a listen; it’s a beautiful cowboy yodeling song):

“I ain’t got a cent in these old worn out jeans
Stop eating steaks and go back to beans
I’ll pick up a ten spot in Houston I know
For a-riding the broncs in a big rodeo”

So this carefree range-writing drifting buckaroo is going! Despite my inner cringe factor at asking for money, I’m launching an Indie.GoGo fundraiser tomorrow in response to family and friends who offered the encouragement to do so. Now I know how Buffalo Bill felt when he got investor backing to take his Wild West Show to Europe.

Speaking of backing, I’ll be updating the collaboration page (with yet another call for feedback) because I want to roll over any raised funds to support the launch of any Rough Writer collaboration and have a plan for it by the time I go to LA in case I can find an interested publisher. Why not? That’s the spirit of the rodeo — go for it!

If you’ve hung in the saddle this far you’re thinking about this week’s tie to the prompt — Buffalo Bill, riding horses, being rich but broke? All tantalizing possibilities, but it’s going to be about nutty aunts. How so? Well, you see, Geoff, one of the Rough Writers, commented on the universality of nutty aunts. And while I was contemplating this post a flash came to mind about a nutty aunt who used to ride broncs in the rodeos. I really just wanted to write that story! So tell me one about a nutty aunt.

February 4, 2015 prompt: In 99 words (no more, no less) write a story that includes a nutty aunt. What makes her nutty? Is it the situation she’s in or a quirky habit? She can be anybody’s aunt. Maybe she’s really somebody’s uncle but wants to be an aunt. Maybe it’s the name of a cowpoke’s horse, a hockey team or a village pub. Follow where the prompt leads.

Respond by February 10, 2015 to be included in the weekly compilation. Rules are here. All writers are welcome!


 Aunt Bronco Billy by Charli Mills

“No one cared where I’d go,” Aunt Billy said to the children sitting cross-legged at her booted feet. Her rocker creaked with undulating bulk.

“Not your Ma?” asked the youngest. The others shushed him.

“Nope. Too many chits and not enough beans.” She puffed a hand-rolled cigarette and snuffed it on a beer bottle.

“Won this silver belt buckle at the Clay County Rodeo.” She grinned and lifted up her belly from the belt that girdled her faded gauchos. The kids grinned back, some nearly as toothless as the celebrity aunt who once busted broncos for buckles and bucks.


Ranch-keeping for Rough Writers: In case you are wondering, I’m looking into some options for listing books in the Bunkhouse Bookstore. A gallery lets me set up a collection of thumbnails, but doesn’t allow for links to purchase. A list calls for too much scrolling. An idea will come to me! Like with writing, sometimes I just need to let the page simmer.

Watch for a book give-away over at Annecdotal this week, as Rough Writer, Anne Goodwin, will be posting one with a book review.

Thanks for the terrific show last week! Your feats and remarks were inspiring!

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  1. TanGental

    That is one beautiful piece of flash. And I will be more careful what I say in your presence in future, Oh Chief Squirreller of Ideas. Nutty Aunts indeed. As if. As for Charli Does LA now there’s a story. Brilliant. Your whole crew is a hoopin’ an’ a hollerin’ wishing you well.
    As you know I don’t undersand your love of walking dog food but the analogies seem apt. Whether the description of the house as mean at both ends and uncomfortable in the middle also describes the writing process I’m not sure.

    • Charli Mills

      My brain is squirrely and do pick up ideas like nuts! Thanks! These boots are so ready for LA!

      • TanGental

        I am SO excited for you. You and LA are made for some fabulous posts. Your take on Rodeo Drive will be worth the entrance money alone.

      • Charli Mills

        That’s right — Rodeo Drive! I’ll have to think up some mischief for that one!

  2. TanGental

    That should be ‘horse’ not ‘house’. Doh!!

    • Charli Mills

      Ha, ha! Many a cowpoke would describe living in the bunks as a house mean at both ends and uncomfortable in the middle! But see, you get horses — in the middle is right where you have to be. 😀

      • TanGental

        Yes, I love them really…

  3. Annecdotist

    Well, Charli, your posts certainly take us on an amazing ride. I love how you interweave the writing process with riding in a way that works even for we non-riders. (And who knew there was such a variation in methods. What little I know comes from riding with Native Americans into Monument Valley where the technique was to hold the reins one-handed which was hard to get used to – not that I was particularly used to the British two-handed method.)
    I enjoyed listening to the ballad and hoping this link works to the Red River Valley which I assume you know (I didn’t until this term in the choir singing it in four-part harmony and it always makes me think of you – hope I’m not too far off the mark)


    But you do like to surprise us – what a manoeuvre from there to nutty aunts and of course your flash is a fine inspiration.
    I think I know which review I can use as a launchpad for mine but it will probably have to come after the Haiti novel giveaway (and thanks for flagging that up) that will probably be Saturday.

    Oops, and I nearly forgot, congratulations on your scholarship, very well deserved, and look forward to hearing what you learn there. I’m sure all the Riders will be with you in spirit.

    • Charli Mills

      Love this song and George Strait! I bet this sounds amazing as a choir piece. I’m glad you enjoyed the ballad. Wow — you got to horeseback into Monument Valley? With Navajos or Apaches? That is probably the most filmed landscape in western movies. Oh, two reins (and posting) completely baffle me! Look forward to seeing how your review launches your flash and hope you have a good turn out for your book give away! Thanks! I’m excited for LA.

      • Annecdotist

        Yeah, the song sounds great song in four parts, but couldn’t find that version on YouTube unfortunately.
        We were Navajos in Monument Valley and it was pretty amazing all round. A few days before we got married in Las Vegas (oh what cliché) very quietly, but we had a lovely surprise when they did a dance especially for us (of course, totally ignorant of the meaning of all this, it might have a whole different meaning, but, with their blessing, the marriage has endured).
        One-handed just feels so unsafe.
        I think we are all excited for your trip to LA!

      • Charli Mills

        I had some adventures years ago with Navajo friends in Arizona. I even picked up a few words. You’d appreciate the language as a singer because it is tonal. Three tones, in fact. So the same word can have three completely different meanings based on it’s tone. Highest pitched tone of “tii” is horse. That and hello are all I recall. Navajos are among some of the finest people ever and they take their spirituality as seriously as, well, a nutty Irish Catholic aunt. 🙂 So your blessing was conducted with all sincerity, I’m sure. Are Vegas weddings common in the UK? Seems more unusual than cliche! And as to two-handed, it puts me off kilter! Thank you. I’m terribly excited to explore this conference in LA and what it means for next steps.

      • Annecdotist

        I didn’t know the language was tonal, must be very complicated to learn, rather like Chinese.
        No, I don’t think Vegas weddings are common in the UK and we wouldn’t have done it if we hadn’t already planned a trip in that region.

      • Charli Mills

        Similar to Chinese and only common with the Inuit, Washo and South American tribe. I didn’t think Vegas weddings would be common. Fun that you took advantage of being in the region!

  4. susanzutautas

    I was so happy and excited for you when I read about the scholarship you won on Facebook. The process you went through to come up with naming your manuscript The Rodeo was great!

    • Charli Mills

      Thanks, Susan! Yee-haw! Let the rodeo begin! 😀

  5. paulamoyer

    Great story, Charli!

    • Charli Mills

      Thanks, Paula!

  6. paulamoyer

    An Aunt’s Antics

    By Paula Moyer

    Aunt Ann’s past revealed itself bit by bit.

    Jean was a beginning graduate student doing research at the Oklahoma State Historical Society.

    She drove down on Friday night and stayed overnight with her grandmother.

    Over dinner, Aunt Ann gave her directions to the Historical Society building. The slight grin suggested a story.

    “How’d you make out?” Ann asked her that night.

    “All right.”

    Jean waited.

    “Cousin Madge and I used to roller-skate through the halls,” Ann reminisced. “We timed it so we could roll through the aisle into the elevator, then close the door. The librarian never caught us.”

    • susanzutautas

      She sounds like a fun aunt!

    • TanGental

      Curious: my nutty aunt is my Aunt Ann; had great belief in the curative power of snow (she’d throw herself into it – family lore says naked but by the time I, and more particularly my girl cousins, came along she’d put on a swimsuit. Quite a sight at 80 something!) I really go the flash too – great sense of fun comes through.

    • Charli Mills

      Picturing the austere halls of the Minnesota Historical Society, I assume Oklahoma’s is similar in structure. What an escapade and what a fun aunt!

    • Irene Waters 19 Writer Memoirist

      They sound like scamps. In those days any library was a place of total silence. You could hear a pin drop. I can just see them roller skating into the lift. I’m amazed they weren’t caught.

    • rogershipp

      The things one can learn about a older relative causes the mind to spin! Just to see her on skates would be comical.

    • TanGental

      I think the expression is ‘a moue of distaste’. I wasn’t expecting a garlic sandwich. That is truly gross! Thank you Susan for leaving me with tat lovely image! Very evocative.

    • Charli Mills

      Up with the sun today, eh? Funny smells always seem so much more noticeable to a child’s nose. Do we get used to smells as we age or lose smelling along with our hearing? Fun story!

      • Irene Waters 19 Writer Memoirist

        As a young adult my lack of smell sensors made me the perfect nurse. I could do all the smelly jobs and not turn a hair. Now, my sense of smell has become more acute as my eyes and ears fail me.

    • Irene Waters 19 Writer Memoirist

      The more I think of the combination — I’m with your daughter. I wouldn’t want to go.

    • Annecdotist

      In the Alpujarra region of southern Spain I’ve eaten toast brushed with garlic for breakfast – delicious as long as everyone is having it. Now I really want to know how many cloves went into that sandwich.

      • Charli Mills

        One year for Halloween, I made the family anti-vampire pasta! It was a lovely dish with a cream sauce made with asiago cheese and an entire head of garlic! It was actually delicious and no vampires wanted to come near. 🙂

  7. Amber

    How exciting, I can’t wait to hear about the fun time you will have in LA!
    Wonderful flash and post 🙂

    • Charli Mills

      I was born and raised in California (buckaroos are the California name for cowboys and cowgirls), but I’ve never been to LA before! I’m excited! Thanks!

  8. Pat Cummings

    Congratulations on your scholarship! I hope you enjoy LA and the company of other writers and book-folk at UCLA.

    My blog post this week is about writing the flash fiction, for once – a little peek into the twisted paths my brain travel from prompt to post! Most of the Congress of Rough Writers will recognize “Manzana” as “apple” in Spanish, I know, but may not know that a “marañón” is a cashew apple. The picture on my blog show what they look like.

    Anyway, here is “Tia Marañón” with her cashews and Spanish peanuts: http://goo.gl/8GspHH

    • Charli Mills

      Thanks, Pat! It will be a fruitful event (hopefully not nutty). It was great to peek into your brain. I did not know that “marañón” is a cashew apple. I knew the nut was a fruit seed, but didn’t realize how apple-like the fruit is. Delightful flash!

      • Irene Waters 19 Writer Memoirist

        That is the first time I have seen the fruit that a cashew comes from . Very interesting.

    • rogershipp

      Enjoyed your crazy aunt story. I don’t do the google thing to well to comment, so I thought I would leave it here. I really liked the target practice with the shells- or nuts- if she could not eat fast enough… Or maybe some were more deserving of the hit?

  9. Rebecca Patajac

    Yay! I didn’t think I’d get an idea for this one, but I did. The wonderful lady (my aunty) that I wrote about was real and very much a safe haven when we had problems at home as children.


    She may not seem ‘nutty’ but she could be quite boisterous and cheerful for what seemed like all the time to a child and we adored her.

    Best of luck in getting to and learning from LA! Congratulations and I do hope that everything runs smoothly.

    As for your blog post with this prompt, I have nothing more to say that hasn’t already been said by the abundance of readers and writers here. It’s inspiring and wonderful, I love the little verse and how you have portrayed that a passion in writing is just like having a passion for anything else; full of broken bones and rejections but oh so fulfilling.

    Thank you

    • Charli Mills

      Boisterous and cheerful is the perfect “mixed” nuts kind of aunt to have when times are rough. I think nutty aunts do care about the children. Thank you for your encouragement! We have to be passionate to keep at it don’t we? 🙂

      • Rebecca Patajac

        We definitely were! Thank you for reading 🙂

  10. Norah

    I loved your post and all you told about Buffalo Bill. The song was fun too. Thanks for linking.
    Congratulations on the scholarship to the Out of Binders Symposium. It sounds exciting. I’d love to know a bit more about it. It’s lovely that you are thinking of the Rough Writers while you are thinking about opportunities for yourself too. You have a generous heart.
    I really enjoyed your flash fiction and your nutty aunt. I can just picture her showing off her belt, and all the toothless smiles. Gorgeous.
    I’ll have a think about this prompt and see what I can nut out. 🙂

    • Charli Mills

      Glad you liked the song and connections to Buffalo Bill. Thank you — I am excited for the opportunity to go, mostly because it is career focused unlike many writing workshops that are craft focused. That it is specifically for women is good too, given my desire to tell women’s narratives, especially in historical accounts. This just might boost our collaborative project! Who knows? It’s worth the “ride.” I had fun writing that character. She popped into my imagination and I had to put her on the page. Ha, ha! Can’t wait to see what you nut out!

      • Norah

        I look forward to hearing some of what you learn, and am excited for you and how it may help progress your career as a professional writer. I am looking forward to hearing more about our proposed collaborative project.
        I have written my flash, now just have to embed it! Walnut have to wait too long though! (I hope!) Okay. I know. But it’s all in the accent! 🙂

      • Charli Mills

        You are such a terrific teacher! I can now hear how you say “we’ll not” — walnut! 😀

  11. Eddie Two Hawks

    Thank you for following and opening the door to your unique and wonderful website. Eddie

    • Charli Mills

      Thanks for visiting! Your website is beautiful like sunshine on a gurgling brook. I hope you join us in writing, too. There’s great community here!

  12. Pete

    Congrats Charli! Go get em!

    • Charli Mills

      Thank, Pete! I’m ready!

  13. Pete

    This prompt came easy for me, because it’s based on a true story…

    Rough As A Corncob

    “Marlboro Reds and Budweiser, not that light crap,” Aunt Lynette barked at Mom, who hurried into The Smart Mart. “And get me some Super Glue!”

    A twangy country tune played as she fixed her frizzy hair in the rearview. It was Saturday morning. Early. We’d just picked up my aunt from the jailhouse steps. We’d have her until Uncle Pike got over that lump on his head.

    “So what’s with the super glue?”

    Lynette turned around, a slat missing in a crooked row of beige teeth. “Just a little dental work, Sweetie.”

    I squirmed. Uncle Pike had better hurry.

    • Charli Mills

      Oh, no! Usually when aunts are doing arts and crafts it isn’t on their own dental structures! I think Geoff was right in suggesting that we all know nutty aunts — ours or others — and I’m seeing a great variation in the nuttiness. The details in your story reveal so much. Poor Uncle Pike!

    • rogershipp

      This one left me in stitches! Loved it! I have a cousin similar to her!

      • Pete

        Thanks Roger! They definitetly make it interesting!

  14. Irene Waters 19 Writer Memoirist

    I always love seeing your mind at work moving seamlessly from one unrelated subject to another and making us see the sense in the melding of the two. Congratulations Charli. Big hugs and handshakes and jumping up and down on the spot are happening at your news breaking downunder. I am so excited for you and looking forward to the information I know that you will pass on in the wonderful memorable way that you do.
    Your character Aunt was just that – a real character. This time I will probably go memoir but time will tell. I have so many nutty aunts that perhaps I can fictionalise them all in one character but I think that would send them past nutty straight into the lunatic assylum. I will return.

      • Charli Mills

        Even her name is bit nutty! I hope you do a future post on her involvement as a theosophist.

    • Charli Mills

      Years ago, I developed a community outreach program as a part of marketing and after a while the accounting department grew suspicious. They didn’t like that I was “giving” money away. Nor did they understand that the best word-of-mouth marketing we could do was to support all the causes and schools in our customer region. My boss understood but she also wanted to create accountability. Thus I was tasked with creating a community outreach committee and I had to show how requests connected to our mission and values. I think this is where I got practiced in making connections — I had to convince bean counters that it was good to give away money. 🙂

      And yes, I will share ideas as I process them and make them applicable. Yikes! Sounds like you’d create a looney Frankenstein trying to combine your aunts!

      • Irene Waters 19 Writer Memoirist

        I’m impressed if you managed to persuade business to give away money. No wonder you are good.
        Looney Frankenstein – I like that.

  15. rogershipp


    Musty. Hot. The air… more burdensome than moist.

    There were no pets. Wait… Once there was a wounded squirrel on the kitchen table in a small cage.

    Before dawn, winter or summer, the split, red-oil-clothed kitchen chairs were sweating. The matching cloth settees in the living room were no better.

    One small aisle for movement: tables of all sizes…shelves upon shelves… corners enveloping corners: the house was green.

    Ferns. Violets. Ivies. Geraniums. Wild and free.

    A blinding amalgamation of multi-shaped blossoms entangled philodendrons with an asthmatic assault which accosted you upon entry.

    It wasn’t Grandma’s, but I loved it.

    • Charli Mills

      The details can be felt and the room comes to life — moist and green! Glad the nutty Aunt Freda was just as loved as Grandma!

      • rogershipp

        She was her own kinda woman!

  16. rllafg

    Aunt Farm by Larry LaForge

    “Just don’t ask, please.”

    “But why, Mom?” Laurie’s third grade class was studying fruits and vegetables. She had questions.

    “Don’t get Aunt Bertie started,” Mom said.

    They drove down the narrow dirt road several miles before reaching the sign proclaiming AUNT BERTIE’S PEANUT FARM. Laurie loved it that she had a nutty aunt—literally.

    They were touring the fields when Laurie made her innocent remark. “Peanuts are my favorite fruit . . . I mean vegetable.” Mom tried to shush her but it was too late.

    Aunt Bertie stopped dead in her tracks, immediately launching into her usual rambling lecture about legumes.

    The 100-word version of this story is posted at larrylaforge100words on Flash Fiction Magazine: http://flashfictionmagazine.com/larrylaforge100words/2015/02/08/aunt-farm/

    • Charli Mills

      Sometimes, I just read your title and I’m already cracking up! It can be confusing, what’s a fruit, what’s a vegetable. Now we are all messed up on nuts between peanuts and cashews! As a rule of thumb, try not to trigger the nutty aunt responses! 🙂

  17. lucciagray

    Hi Charli! After reading about Irene’s aunt, I decided to take part, at last. Sorry it’s not a very funny piece, well, it’s not funny at all 🙁 It’s more literary than real. I always imagined something like that happening, and perhaps it did, in our minds, so many things remain unsaid. I’m sure many aunts, are much more than an aunt. Enough said. Here it is: http://lucciagray.com/2015/02/09/carrot-ranch-flash-fiction-nutty-aunts/

    • Charli Mills

      Literary is good, Luccia! I’m so delighted to see you have a story for us and that Irene’s real nutty aunt was inspirational! That’s a good point about how many things remain unsaid in our mind, thus creating rich fields for growing literary stories!

      • lucciagray

        Thank you Charli 🙂 Great to be on board. Short fiction helps me be more critical and conscious with my longer, more verbose, fiction, putting into perspective.

      • Charli Mills

        I find that writing flash fiction helps me when writing longer prose. I once took a workshop and the instructor advised writing books like “islands.” Then go back and connect or rearrange the islands. Flash helps me visualize those smaller kernels that are vital to a scene. Thanks for coming on board!

      • lucciagray

        Wonderful metaphor:) Yes, that’s actually how I do it. I ‘see’ parts of the whole and write them as they ‘come’, then I bring them together. And then I struggle and rewrite and edit over and over!

    • Charli Mills

      Thanks, Sarah! It’s going to be a ride! Aw, what a great combination for Chelsea and her great aunt!

    • Pat Cummings

      The flash is great, but you overshadow yourself with P.G. Wodehouse! The only more-awesome writer than Wodehouse, IMHO, is Jerome K. Jerome, whose prose I always flash on after reading about Wodehouse…

      But I love the title of your post, and particularly the phrase: “…bestowers of chocolate treats and hard peppermints that blew your sinuses apart.” Wonderful!

      • TanGental

        JKJ is awesome; we walked along the Thames path this summer gone and paid homage to the genius at the Compleat Angler…

    • Charli Mills

      Like nuts, they can be a handful! Thanks for the prompt, by the way!

      • TanGental

        pleasure Charli; you wrap them up like the pass the parcel, with each of us wondering when the music will stop and what will be on the every inside.

  18. lorilschafer

    Congratulations on the scholarship and upcoming event, Charli – very exciting! 🙂

    • Charli Mills

      Thanks, Lori! I’m super excited! I’m ready to ride (and ready to pick myself up out of the dirt, too)! Buckaroos are crazy that way, riding. 🙂

      • lorilschafer

        Although I’ve never met you in person, I’m willing to bet your personality is very well-suited to this kind of thing. I can just see the enthusiasm for your work oozing out of you as you shmooze 😉

      • Charli Mills

        Hee, hee! I like the schmoozin’! It all authentic; I’m easily-enthused! 😀 Funny thing is, I am an introvert, so I have to retreat to my remote places afterwards.

  19. stephanie710

    Awesome stuff here, my friend. Wishing you much success on your trip to L.A., and congrats on the scholarship. Sadly, I’m allergic to horses but I can spot talent a mile away. You, friend, have talent. 🙂

    • Charli Mills

      Aw, thanks, Stephanie! Let’s see if I can stay in the saddle in LA! 🙂 Thanks for coming over — the horses here are virtual so no sneezes to pass along.

  20. Norah

    Hey, Charli. I’m back with my link but I see it has already pingbacked, which is a good thing because I almost forgot. Here’s my nutty aunt to add to the mix: http://wp.me/p3O5Jj-oP
    Thank you lovely! 🙂

    • Charli Mills

      I think I jumped ahead of you! Thanks for the nutty aunt story and the open discussion on another point of education.

      • Norah

        Thank you for the opportunity! I never know where your prompts will lead! 🙂

      • Charli Mills

        I think this prompt was the first one I did because a story came to me first. Glad you were all on board with nutty aunts!

    • Charli Mills

      Love your nutty aunt’s shoes! Thanks for sharing the book link, too!

  21. Sherri

    I have no idea how I missed this post from last week Charli as I got pretty caught up, so I thought! It wasn’t until this morning, Tuesday, that I realised, ‘I don’t know what Charli’s prompt is for this week’s Flash!’ What on earth? Am I losing it? I hope not o_O Anyway…and I’ll say it again…woo hooooooo!! You go, Buckaroo! Congratulations heaped upon more congratulations, you so deserve this. And love, love, love this post, and you know, I was nodding, yep, yep, all the way, remembering my horse-riding trainer drumming into me – ‘keep those heels down and your back straight!’ I couldn’t get to grips with riding American style (didn’t feel natural to me without the rise and fall of the trot and holding the reins instead of the saddle) but then again, that didn’t stop me falling off more than once! Bit like writing, as you say 😉 Excellent analogy. Your flash is awesome, I can’t get the image out of my mind of the nutty aunt and the toothless kids grinning proudly from ear to ear. Brilliant. Now I’ll go away and think of a flashy nutty aunt, be back later 🙂

    • Charli Mills

      Thanks, Sherrie! I’m sure it’s difficult to un-train from one style to learn another. A bit like writing romance after publishing crime thrillers. I think the former will always has some sort of influence. I’m glad you grasped the reins and got into the analogy! I had that image stuck in my head, too so I had to set her free onto the page!

      • Sherri

        I did Charli…and I’m holding on for dear life 🙂

  22. Sherri

    Hi again Charli! I’m so sorry this is way too late probably, but I thought I would send it over anyway. Iunderstand if it’s too late for the compilation. One of those evenings…anyway, hope you enjoy this (it’s a flash but actually more of a BOTS 🙂 )

    One Last Smoke by Sherri Matthews

    “Come!” beckoned the deep, gravelly voice as Millie knocked on the door.

    She walked in and was greeted by a haze of grey smoke, into which Auntie Carrie appeared like a ghost.

    “Mummy said to tell you dinner’s ready,” said Millie as she stared into the black, dead eyes of the fox stole draped across her aunt’s tweed jacket.

    At dinner, Millie gawped at Auntie Carrie’s huge bosom heaving as her chest crackled with every breath.

    “The doctor told me to give up smoking,” she winked at Millie. “Maybe next year for my 90th birthday.”

    • Charli Mills

      It’s still daylight (cloudy) here! Glad to see you writing a BOTS! What a great description with the smoking haze and huge heaving bosom. I had relatives who lived to be in their 90s smoking all the way to the end, and then I had a great grandmother die at 40 from all the chemicals used in California on crops during the Great Depression. Thanks for your terrific flash!

      • Sherri

        It is amazing isn’t…your family sounds so similar. Both my great aunt and great grandmother lived to their early 90s and late 80s respectively and both were life-long smokers. They also loved betting on the horses and playing cards!! I have so many stories I could write about them…such characters but also had sad lives in many ways. That is so sad about your great grandmother dying so young from those chemicals. Life just isn’t fair sometimes is it? I think of my dad too, a life-long alcoholic and smoker, and yes, at 82, has throat cancer, but is still going strong (I think…) but has seen men half his age drop down dead in front of him. Thanks so much for fitting me in Charli, and so glad you enjoyed the flash. I had a lot of fun with it 🙂

      • Charli Mills

        Brings to mind, the good die young! Characters smoke and bet til the end!

    • TanGental

      Ha! Heaving bosoms remind me of the extraordinary undergarments that were hung on the lien when a great aunt came to stay. Bright red or blue bloomers, a things like a human mangle that I believe was a girdle and the most enormous brassiere that had more buckles than the Ramones at their height. Brilliantly evocative Sheri.

      • Sherri

        Haha! You’ve just described my great aunt and great grandmother to a tee! And not to mention my one-time Girl Guide Brown Owl…but that’s a whole other story! Thanks for the lovely ‘flash’ comment Geoff, glad you enjoyed it 🙂

      • TanGental

        Brown Owl – ours doubled as Akela in cubs and was a terrifying prospect!

  23. Sherri

    PS Just realised, I mispelt a word, should be ‘gawped’ not ‘gauped’. Would be very grateful if you could correct it for me, thanks so much 🙂

    • Charli Mills

      I was wondering if it was a British variant! Easy fix!

      • Sherri

        Haha…thanks for that Charli! I had to second-guess myself on that one, I don’t know what’s British and American so many times…but in this case, I was wrong either way 🙂

      • Charli Mills

        It still made sense!

  24. tallypendragon.com

    Hi Charli, sorry this is so late, hope it hasn’t missed the boat, but here it is:

    Three Mad Aunts

    Long summer evenings in Avalon around the magical solstice, sitting under the stars, constellations rising and setting again. There would be talk of the ancestors and the legendary creatures who came long before: Epona riding her side-saddled horse as her serpent winds by; Eluned, her ring fastened around her neck, not rendering her perpetually invisible to all; and Elaine, the Lady of Shallot, so in love with Lancelot that she dies of a broken heart when her love still remains unrequited. A pretty chain of follies do they make snaking up the twilit hillside, the three mad aunts.

    and here’s the post, where there’s a bit of background too:


    Much love and Brightest Blessings to All,
    Tally 🙂

    • Charli Mills

      Late is relative around here! 🙂 It’s all good — got it updated! Love this flash! I know where to find Epona in the sky (of course, it is a constellation of a horse) but not the other two. Star gazing is perfect in the clear summer nights. Is light pollution an issue in the UK? It’s widespread in parts of the US, but not in northern Idaho. Love & blessing to you!


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