October 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.

October 14, 2015

October 14I’m not sure what a photo of serendipity looks like, but I think this is a close match. The point is, serendipity really doesn’t have a look; it’s something that defies expectations, illuminates the darkness. It’s a vast vista of choices. You might set your sights on the Seven Sisters Peaks across the valley. Choose one peak. Set a course. Find the road turns, and adjust. Or you might stay right there on that slope of the Cabinet Mountains, admiring the next range but happy to stay put. Then a log rolls down the hill and knocks you off your feet. You must choose to stand up, go back or elsewhere.

It’s the nature of life that we make choices. Serendipity is the gift we find accidentally when we make a choice or life chooses a course of action for us.

If you set out for the Seven Sisters, it would be serendipitous to find an unexpected guide in a canyon, or the perfect photo opportunity of a bull moose who poses without threat and wins you a coveted photography award. If you stand still and get knocked off your feet, serendipity can still happen. Maybe you meet your future spouse among the rescue team or find a hidden cache of silver bullion at the end of your tumble. Take action; you’ll find the gifts.

But all too often we hold back as writers, afraid to take action.

Maybe because serendipity is no guarantee. And life is often like a journey with a bag of coins. Pull out one coin, and it’s lucky. Pull out another and you find the flip-side.  I’ve had lots of two-sided coins this year. I took my manuscript to a professional conference in LA; no one wanted my manuscript. I got to spend four weeks with my best friend; she died. I planted purple potatoes and nursed an old apple tree; others got the crops.

Yet, serendipity occurs between the flips of the coins. It’s not the good or the bad; it’s the unexpected that can come out of the flipping. I never knew that by going to LA I’d be one step closer to my dream of hosting writer’s retreats in beautiful northern Idaho. I let conference writers know that I have a guest room free for writers to stay and already, I’ve had two writers from NYC visit and even do a poetry reading at my kitchen table. The conference organizers know I live in a rural community and they’ve graciously offered to let me host a panel from the conference. Yesterday I set up my first panel in collaboration with my local library and a seasoned regional publisher. It opened unexpected doors.

Although I don’t recommend spending a portion of summer in a hospital room, I shared time with my best friend that death cannot rob from me. One of my most exciting pinch-me-moments occurred in that room when I received an email from a publisher expressing interest in my Rock Creek project. Sharing that with Kate was a gift. She knows best my long journey and even in her own situation she was truly a best friend and shared in the joy of that moment. No matter what comes of it, it was illumination in a dark place.

My apple tree harbored many gifts, just not the one I had expected. In May, I stood beneath the flowering branches and listened to the hum of life — bees and calliope hummingbirds that glittered gold and ruby. It was a sight to fuel my writing. The potato patch has become a bit of a family joke. What hasn’t violated my purple potatoes? First it was gophers, then turkeys and next deer. I dug up the remnants. Every large potato, every last one, was gopher-gnawed. The smaller ones were not chomped and I’ve enjoyed being the one to put the bite on them. Yet, in a moment of serendipity, when I thought the potato patch finished, a mama moose and her spring calf pounded the dirt with hooves the circumference of teacup saucers. Why, I don’t know, but to see moose in my garden made up for all other wildlife infractions.

But back to writers and serendipity.

Take action without holding tightly to outcome. Yes, have a goal, a plan of sorts, but keep an open eye to the unexpected. The agent who turns you down might buy you the time you needed to find a different path to publication. Or, in my situation with Miracle of Ducks, I knew something was off with the intro. My editor noted it but beta readers said it was fine. Because I’ve sat on it all summer, when I read the first chapter to my mother-in-law and her twin, it jumped out at me what was wrong. Truly a gift of sight! Sometimes we need to slow down and this process of writing invites us to do it, but we feel impatient. Fill the slow stretches with other projects. Learn to dance with your writing as if it were a life-long partner not some quickie date at the nightclub.

Serendipity will show you how those flip sides and lucky tosses come together eventually. By nature it’s accidental. But I also have a strong faith in God and am “confident of this, that he who began a good work in me will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus” (based on Philippians 1:6). Now I know that we all have free will and unfettered minds to make choices. For me serendipity is a God-moment; a reminder that he doesn’t direct the good and bad that occurs in life, but he directs the good in me, thus giving me a purpose in existing. I don’t think God cares one way or the other that I publish books. But I do know he calls me into relationship. I pray hard when times are rough; I rejoice over good days; and I’m humbled by the gifts that only God would know I’d appreciate.

What is serendipity to you? Have you experienced it in your writing? Do you hold back, hold on to expectations or set out for yonder peaks, knowing something good will happen, even if by pure accident? Things to ponder as you write or consider the motives of your characters.

I’ve often wondered about Cobb McCanles and the bitterness he had to have felt at Rock Creek. He set out from North Carolina in February of 1859, when his family all relocated to eastern Tennessee where their views and values were more aligned with others. Like many Unionists, Cobb believed in the economic development of individuals. In a time when political tensions were mounting between the industrial interests of the north and the slave-based agrarian system of the south, individuals were seeking life-improvement out west. Fame and fortune is a stereotype, but one that describes the impulse to leave a known community and move to the frontier.

Historians claim that Cobb set out for the Pike’s Peak Gold Rush of 1859. If he did, he might have had early information from the northern Georgians who were seeking gold in Colorado, unsuccessfully at first. Residents of western North Carolina traveled annually to northern Georgia to buy supplies like coffee and sugar. Otherwise, families like the Greens from which Cobb’s wife Mary came from, were completely sustained by their own means — they grew crops, distilled whiskey, raised hogs, milked cows, spun flax and wool, built barns and furniture and made their own iron tools and nails. Outsiders called them poor, but they had all their needs met, including a fierce independence. It was men like Cobb and his family that also valued literature, music and education. These men didn’t want the gaudy wealth of planters but neither did they want mere subsistence in the woods. I imagine that after the economic crash of 1857, Cobb listened more closely to stories of the Georgia gold seekers. He was sheriff which gave him access to news through journals, county officials and local gossip.

Whether or not Cobb set out for the Pike’s Peak gold fields, he stopped at the Rock Creek Station. Think of it as an 1850s truck stop — a place for travelers to rest, buy food, take a bath, repair wagons, trade horses and hear the latest news of the trails. Serendipity occurred when Cobb and Sarah stopped at Rock Creek Station; Cobb asked if the owner would sell and he said yes. I don’t believe that Rock Creek, Nebraska Territory was Cobb’s expected goal, but he found a wonderful opportunity. The man was a builder, likely having learned carpentry from his father who was known as a cabinetmaker. The first thing he built was a toll bridge across the dangerous and steep crossing at Rock Creek. All in all, Cobb built a second ranch on the other side of the creek, a third a mile a way and he made improvements to the original, thus attracting the attention of the Overland Stage Company, the precursor to the Pony Express.

So why bitter? After his serendipitous gain of Rock Creek Station, every business dealing he made resulted in default. He sold and reclaimed the toll bridge several times because buyers never paid up; he reclaimed a wagon from a farmer who bought his hay and never paid; he became partner to the Pony Express with Rock Creek Station only to be pushed out by the company claim that it had to “own” its stations; the Pony Express never paid Cobb for his station.

Now you are seeing more of what I see in Cobb — a self-appointed adjudicator of the law, an ambitious and industrious man, temperamental and passionate, educated and brilliant orator, unfortunate businessman. He was also a dedicated family man. He was complex, that’s for certain. But truly, so are we all. Rock Creek was his moment of serendipity. It was also the place of his untimely death. Serendipity holds no guarantees, but we can take the gifts it offers.

October 14, 2015 prompt: In 99 words (no more, no less) write a story that reveals or explores a moment of serendipity. How did it come about? What did it lead to? You can express a character’s view of the moment or on serendipity in general. Use the element of surprise or show how it is unexpected or accidentally good.

For those of you who recognize, serendipity has been a prompt before. What can I say, but I like its magic! And it is never the same gift.

Respond by October 20, 2015 to be included in the weekly compilation. Rules are here. All writers are welcome!


The Offer by Charli Mills

Fiddle music faded, and Cobb wiped sweat from his brow despite the cool night. He set his instrument in its lined case and sat down.

“Woo boy! You play a mighty fine fiddle, Mister!” The short-legged man crouched by the crackling fire. Short legs, but he could dance a big jig.

Cobb looked up at the stars. “Mighty fine place you have.” He could imagine Mary’s face at seeing the rich sod. If this was his, he’d build a toll bridge across that confounded crossing, build a bigger barn, sell hay.

The man leaned over. “Wanna buy it, Mister?”


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  1. Sherri

    So much beauty expressed here Charli in the many gifts you share with us from the flipside of the coin: your ‘pinch-me’ moment shared with your best friend in her final moments; the inspiration from the ‘hum of life’ bringing healing to your grieving heart as you stood beneath the comfort of the canopy of your apple tree.
    Purple potatoes ravaged, yet a visit from mama moose and her spring calf gifting you nature’s magnificant close-up (I have always wanted to see two things in the wild: a bear and a moose 🙂 ). I think your moose was like my sweet robin, visiting at just the right time 🙂
    And now the opportunities springing forth from your time in LA at the writer’s conference. Those God-appointments of which you write never fail to amaze me in my own life, so often just when I think I can’t take another step forward, and then I think of how life turned on a dime for me all those years ago. Bad, but then I seriously doubt I would be writing today if not for ‘all that’. And this I love: ‘Learn to dance with your writing as if it were a life-long partner not some quickie date at the nightclub.’ Finding those moments in our writing as you describe with ‘Miracle of Ducks’ is gut-wrenchingly wonderful, as if you knew it all along but it needed time to simmer…
    I continue to read in fascination about Cobb’s background. In your flash, I could picture his face when offered the land, with all his grand plans welling up inside him, yet agonising in my bittersweet knowledge as you reveal to us all that happens afterwards…love it!
    This is a great prompt (as always), no idea what I’ll write, but lots to think about. So happy for the serendipitious moment that brought me to Carrot Ranch, thanks Charli! 🙂

    • Charli Mills

      Thanks for reflecting what you see in Cobb. Bringing him to a character that captures his many aspects has been a wonderful but difficult task. We know much about serendipity. 😉 So much like your sweet robin! One day, I know you’ll visit and we were certainly see a bear and a moose (if I have to go rope one of each). Keep on dancing the long dance. It reminds me a bit of Garth Brooks’ The Dance. Usually we only have these intimate relationships with spouses and children and parents, yet in writing we open to The Dance with fellow writers and readers. And it’s one I don’t want to miss!

      [youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bpwdwbO1uvM&w=560&h=315%5D

      • Sherri

        Okay, now I have goosebumps running up and down my arms. Garth Brook’s ‘The Dance’ is an absolute favourite of mine. I was surprised a long time ago when I mentioned it to Hubby and he didn’t know about it (and he knows a lot of music) as Garth isn’t as well known over here, which staggered me. I used to listen to this song ALL the time when I was out driving living in CA. I haven’t listened to it for so long, I lost the CD when I moved back here 🙁 I NEED to get this on my iPod like now…it’s the most beautiful song I could listen to over and over and never get tired of. Thank you so much for this…goodness, talk about serendipity…
        You are doing an amazing job bringing Cobb to life with so much detail and understanding and research. I seriously can’t wait to read Rock Creek. You are a true Buckaroo Charli…wow, now that’s a sight I never want to miss, you roping a moose and a bear! Oh I can’t wait…but we’ll keep dancing here in the meantime!

      • jeanne229

        I love this song, too, even though I am not at all a country western fan. How I fantasize about that retreat at the Ranch someday. It beckons on the horizon.

      • Charli Mills

        Sherri, why am I not surprised this was one you listened to over and over! I wore out my cassette and never did get a CD!

      • Charli Mills

        Jeanne, the retreat room is open! Any time! I hope to build funding so that Rough Writers can have travel money. The room and now the reading outlet is in place. It’s coming together!

      • Sherri

        Ahh Charli, you got me! Of course, it wasn’t a CD but a cassette tape! And same, now that I think about it, never got the CD either 😮

  2. paulamoyer

    Great prompt, Charli!

    North Star

    By Paula Moyer

    Another day. Another eight hours of typing battle scenario. Jean logged her time at her summer job at the base while her mind drifted into her next-year’s move to Minnesota. The daydreams helped her muddle through the mindless work.

    “What are your plans after the job ends?” an enlisted man, last of the draftees, grinned.

    “I’m getting ready to move next year,” Jean replied with a blush.

    “Me, too. I’ve got four more weeks. Then I’m going back home.”

    “Where’s home?”

    “Minnesota,” he said. His eyes looked faraway.

    Jean stopped breathing. “Me, too.” It was all she could say.

    • Charli Mills

      Thanks, Paula! Your flash expresses that quality of getting caught off guard by serendipity. It’s like a beacon that confirms our path.

    • jeanne229

      Ahh, your flash speaks of a great wide future together Paula, for Jean and the draftee. How lovers come together is one of the great serendipities in life … Not sure if that is what is going to happen but a whole story has unfolded for me, sparked by this little exchange, like a scene in a movie.

      • paulamoyer

        Thanks, Jeanne! That would definitely be the movie version, very different from the real-life version!

    • Norah

      Now I have to ask. If Jeanne has told the movie version, what is the real version? 🙂
      Great flash.

      • paulamoyer

        The real version is that Paula/Jean was in a bad place with men when she met the draftee and ditched him shortly after she moved to Stillwater, OK, for a transitional year of graduate school before moving to Minnesota. The draftee also hated city life and was planning to move back into a town in northern Minnesota, and I/Paula/Jean loved city life (and still do). After the draftee helped me move my stuff to Stillwater, I never saw him again.

      • Norah

        Thanks Paula. It sounds like things have gone well for you since then, though, so it all turned out well. 🙂

      • Charli Mills

        I’ve had the privilege of reading parts of Paula’s memoir and it’s beautifully told.

      • Norah

        I’m sure it is. 🙂
        It was lovely of Paula to respond and explain. I didn’t really intend to pry, but it seemed to beg the question. 🙂

      • paulamoyer

        Also — thank you, Norah. And Charli, thanks for making me blush!

      • Norah

        With pride! 🙂

  3. Sarah Brentyn

    Brilliant flash and post, again. I agree with Sherri. *waves* (Good to have her back.) 🙂 This: “Sometimes we need to slow down and this process of writing invites us to do it, but we feel impatient. Fill the slow stretches with other projects.” So much, yes. Congrats on the panel! Hope it opens more than a few doors. <3

    Ah, I do love serendipity. Here's mine:

    One of Those Days


    • Charli Mills

      Serendipity enough that we are waving in Idaho, the east coast and the Uk! *waves happily in all directions* It’s a wonder when something happens after a period of nothing happening, yet we continue on the same. We write. And the panel is official! BinderCon live in NYC and streaming from Idaho to Madrid! How about that? And next week, a meeting to talk collaboration on…flash fiction…! More doors opening. More serendipity.

      • Norah

        I’m waving too! 🙂

      • TanGental

        South London late night *waves* back…

    • jeanne229

      I am still smiling Sarah. Left a comment on your blog but will say again, brilliant approach here, taking a situation in which another person is mightily in need of some serendipity, and allowing yourself to be the vehicle for it. Memorable scene.

      • Sarah Brentyn

        Thank you. 🙂 <3

    • Sherri

      *waves back* Thanks Sarah 😀

    • TanGental

      This is pretty brilliant.

  4. jeanne229

    Such a fascinating history. I so admire the research you’ve done and how you make what could be dry history come alive with hope and disappointment and love and faith… and serendipity. I very much look forward to reading the book about Cobb when you’ve finished it.
    As for the rest of your beautiful post, aside from luxuriating in your rich descriptions of things rural, it immediately sent me to my own neglected blog, especially this paragraph:
    “Take action without holding tightly to outcome. Yes, have a goal, a plan of sorts, but keep an open eye to the unexpected. The agent who turns you down might buy you the time you needed to find a different path to publication. Or, in my situation with Miracle of Ducks, I knew something was off with the intro. My editor noted it but beta readers said it was fine. Because I’ve sat on it all summer, when I read the first chapter to my mother-in-law and her twin, it jumped out at me what was wrong. Truly a gift of sight! Sometimes we need to slow down and this process of writing invites us to do it, but we feel impatient. Fill the slow stretches with other projects. Learn to dance with your writing as if it were a life-long partner not some quickie date at the nightclub.”
    Your words spoke to me of my own journey writing a book (and one for which I too got entranced by the historical research I was doing). Sadly if predictably, having not written in a month, the post on serendipity morphed into another I’d been meaning to write on process. I had to make a separate post on that (at least I got one in, and caught up a bit on chronicling my project), but I am determined to participate this week. What a wonderful prompt. If you’ve used it before it must have been before I started stopping off at the ranch, so appreciate the theme.
    I will be back….

    • Charli Mills

      So much for us to get caught up in, isn’t there? And then these moments startle us, in a good way, and we feel inspired again, re-focused, connected to something outside ourselves. I’m always taken by what you write; it must simmer deeply before it gets to the page. 🙂

      • jeanne229

        And simmer it has. I spent most of yesterday and the first three hours this morning gloriously engaged in my own writing…thanks to your example. Being part of your stable provides not only the inspiration but also the requisite motivator of guilt when I stay away too long. Will link my contribution below in a separate comment. Happy Day to you my rural writing friend.

      • Charli Mills

        I love hearing that you took your writing out for a long ride! Somewhere in the back of memory is a poet, a female buckaroo who wrote in the 1920s about riding in the vast and beautiful desert. I see you on a ride like that!

  5. A. E. Robson

    Life comes at us in many forms. The chances we take is what makes them interesting.

    Serendipity Do-Dah
    By Ann Edall-Robson

    “Serendipity do-dah, serendipity day, my oh my what a wonderful day.”

    “That is not how the song goes.”

    “Oh yes it does!”

    “Noooooo it doesn’t”

    “Remember when you moved here?”

    “Easter, sixth grade.”

    “Remember how everyone ignored you, the new girl, because we already had enough friends?”


    “Remember the school play where we were paired up to sing Zip A Dee Doo Dah?”

    “Why would you remember something like that all these years later?”

    “It’s what brought us together. It’s our song! So what if I change the words to my liking?”

    “And you’re still a flirt!”


    • Charli Mills

      Well said, Ann. Cheers to an interesting writer’s life! Love your flash!

    • jeanne229

      It may be that serendipity plays its greatest role in bringing friends into our lives. Loved this post Ann. it got me thinking about the chance meetings I have had over the years, and the riches I would have missed had one small detail been different!

      • A. E. Robson

        The happenstance moments that are around every corner. Unplanned. Un-orchestrated. Waiting for the precise moment they are needed to enrich our lives.

    • Annecdotist

      I love this, Ann, such a fun take on the prompt.

    • Norah

      Lovely Ann. That’s a great song – can’t be sung without feeling joyous. A beautiful connection made through it. So many friendship are made through chance encounters. Your lovely flash shows that. 🙂

    • TanGental

      Nothing wrong with a long term flirt. I see it as my next career option…. Lovely flash. Was it Burl Ives who sang the original?

      • jeanne229

        I don’t think it was Burl Ives but god knows I don’t trust my memory. I just remember a small box of a record player with a 45 that I spun over and over again.

      • TanGental

        I miss the fact we have so much on tap we select rather than listen to all we have. I had an Eagles album back when and hated the last track on side one but kept listening and eventually it grew on me. I’d bypass it now. Damned if I can remember what it was called!

    • Charli Mills

      I’m off to see what you brought back from your ride!

    • jeanne229

      I left comments on your site Anne. Great post. Enjoyed your reflections on publishing and using the various forms of serendipity in fiction. I dealt with luck and chance in my comments, but overlooked their cousin coincidence. As for the flash, well I like a happy ending, and the twin trope is a fun one! And who doesn’t feel sympathy for the lovelorn suitor? Congratulations on your 300th post!!!

    • Charli Mills

      Great to use it to discuss the role of chance in fiction and publishing. As tricky as it might be, you didn’t chicken out this time (not that I noticed it the first)!

    • jeanne229

      Gotta love that Edna! And love the scenario. Books over cable. The image from the movie Fahrenheit 451 came to mind–the woman going down in the flames with her library. Edna seems such a warrior for books. Battling the evil cable in her delightfully, subtly subversive way…one opportunity and book at a time.

    • lucciagray

      The moment you become an avid reader is so hard to pin point. It made me think about my own… it was so log ago… I’m not really sure!

    • Charli Mills

      Hi Larry! What a grand moment of serendipity for Ed!

  6. julespaige

    Always fascinating to read Cobb’s history and how you whittle it down 🙂

    The Treasure

    She had to walk the dogs before she left for work in
    the morning. Today was trash day. And there was
    a glint at the curb. A gold ring with a ruby stone and
    four little baguettes. And it fit where a pre-engagement
    ring once did. She didn’t mind letting the old boyfriend
    think that another beau had given it to her. She was
    content to toss that fishy man back into the sea.

    He’d come to collect it when he was on home from
    leave from the Navy. They both must have known
    they weren’t soulmates.


    The post on site is here:
    The Treasure

    • jeanne229

      And as with the ring, so with a new man. The old love must make way for the new. Maybe you didn’t intend it, but nice little detail about it being trash day. Trash that fishy man 🙂

      • julespaige

        Some stuff you can’t plan… it’s just drawn that way.

    • Charli Mills

      The whittling is helping me finish the revisions! Tightening up those scenes. 🙂

      So much life history caught up in this one moment. Great line, “She was content to toss that fishy man back into the sea.”

    • Charli Mills

      No drama this week? Ah, I think serendipity does a good draw for the lighthearted!

  7. Irene Waters 19 Writer Memoirist

    Loved Cobb’s serendipitous moment. I could see the scene you painted so well Charli with the sweat dripping off Cobb’s brow. It is all in the detail you give such as the interior of the fiddle case, his sweat despite the cool.
    I am so glad that you are a step closer to hosting writer’s retreats and have in fact already had writing guests. Oh for the day the wranglers from Carrot Ranch can all meet at your retreat for a roundup.
    I’ve read many of the great writers believe that you should have a couple of projects on the go at once, at different stages and then once one is completed it goes in the drawer for a year before it is relooked at. It is amazing what the distance of time can bring to your work as you have found Charli.
    You have certainly had some moments this year Charli, both sad , annoying, frustrating and happy. You are someone Charli that knows how to market and will proceed forward despite any serendipitous down moments and you’ll make good things happen. A little serendipity just makes some of these easier.

    • Charli Mills

      Thanks for letting me know the details are working! 🙂 I often imagine how awesome it would be to host a Rough Writer Roundup in Sandpoint! I think it’s possible to find host families here, too, making it an affordable reality. Oh, so much to see and show you all! Little by little the steps are nearing the mountain peaks. I really do like that idea of having multiple projects in various stages or maybe I just like that it excuses me for all my projects spread out or stashed like toys.

      • Irene Waters 19 Writer Memoirist

        I’ve started a penny jar for the fare across. I think multiple projects are good – as long as you manage to finish one every so often. I think you do (its me I’m not sure of).

      • Charli Mills

        It can feel like projects are lagging, but the pause really does make for fine wine!

  8. Pete

    Loved the flash Charli, that quick, seamless transport to another time!

    Story Time

    Mia snuggled deeper into her father’s arms. “Tell me again.”

    “Okay, so I walked into Mommy’s classroom, to read Green Eggs and Ham.”

    “The wrong classroom.”

    “Mommy! Let Daddy tell it.”

    “Yep,” Daddy grinned. “But one look at the teacher and I was tongue-tied.”

    Mia beamed at Mommy, who narrowed her eyes. “He was supposed to be in Mrs. Ruth’s room.”

    Mia squealed. Wiggled from Daddy to Mommy, nodding. “But you let him stay?”

    A quick kiss over her head. Mommy sighed. “Well, what was one story going to hurt?”

    “Yeah, but, Mrs. Ruth could have been my mommy?”

    • ruchira

      LOL…not bad at all Pete.
      Loved the angle you put in 😉

    • Pat Cummings

      Love surprises are the best kind!

    • jeanne229

      And another family legend is born. If I stop to think what seemingly random chance brings us to the “One” who will share our lives, it takes my breath away. So many near misses and what ifs…unless you believe in fate. Nice job Pete.

    • Charli Mills

      Ha, ha! The mouths of babes say it might have been so! You weave family interaction well into this flash and the delight of sharing those family stories. I love it when my grown kids still want us to tell them! And thanks, I’m encouraged that Cobb’s story is rooted in his time period for readers.

    • Charli Mills

      Surprises are encouraging! We never know what to expect, but we keep stepping out, taking hints at those surprises.

    • Charli Mills

      Yes, they can! And I understand the draw of Olallieberry Milkshakes, living in the region of Huckleberry Milkshakes. Not a drive at all for me, a walk to the Elmira Store and back!

    • Charli Mills

      Oh, wow! Is that irony meets serendipity? I knew it was a repeated prompt but I didn’t realize it was your first! Well, I’m taking it as gifts all around!

      • TanGental

        I hadn’t realised and oddly the first story had Milton the dog who belonged to Peter who died and everything sped off from there…

    • Charli Mills

      Up with the sunrise, Cowgirl! 😀 I’m still arriving past sunset, but good to find the fires crackling here.

    • Charli Mills

      Oh, and those spy-bots…they’re just a prototype for the moment! 😉

    • A. E. Robson

      The remarkable things we find when we least expect them.

    • jeanne229

      Loved the flash–the way you set up the locale, (a blip on the map), the details that paint a picture of the Southwest so vividly, the questions you dangle for the reader (How did they happen to find their mother’s picture in the shop? Where is she now? Why didn’t they ever know their father?) It packs a punch for such a short piece!

  9. Norah

    Hi Charli,
    It seems I’ve been back and forth to your blog, reading this post, savouring your words and delving into your wisdom for a few days now. Each time I didn’t comment, just enjoyed reading. You have shared so much. Your opening paragraphs remind me of an old picture book by Remy Charlip “What Good Luck What Bad Luck”, where a sequence of events turned up one good result and one bad in turn, ending with a good one (as I recall). Even doing nothing is a choice and one can be hit by that log whether venturing out onto the mountain or staying at home. May as well go for the opportunities. Who knows what awaits?
    Your bag of coins certainly gave you a mixture this year. What excited me was hearing that you have already had writers there on retreat, sharing poetry at your kitchen table! And that an off-conference panel in collaboration with your local library and publisher is already organised. And a publisher is interested in Rock Creek. Way to go! Move over trees, Charli is on her way!
    The stories of your locale, the landscape and the wildlife, never cease to amaze me. And now you have had moose in your garden! The wildlife seems to be abundant where you are. I think we need to get this Rough Writers Retreat organised soon! 🙂 Please? 🙂
    I love your suggestion to “Learn to dance with your writing as if it were a life-long partner not some quickie date at the nightclub.” I guess as long as you don’t take it for granted or get bored with it, it’s good advice! 🙂
    The additional information you have shared about Cob McCanles is, as always, very interesting. He went in search for gold but bought a station and built a bridge, seemingly a serendipitous event. But unlike the “What Good Luck What Bad Luck” story, the ending wasn’t so happy. I like the way, in your flash, the previous owner leaned over, as if reading his thoughts, and asked if he wanted to buy.
    As always, a thought provoking post and a challenging prompt. Here’s my response: http://wp.me/p3O5Jj-Aq
    Thank you Charli. 🙂

    • Charli Mills

      Hi Norah! Thank you as always for churning out the bits of cream you find in reading and comparing to books or education. I like the sounds of “What Good Luck, What Bad Luck.” Had a day of it yesterday! Good luck, got a good start on #MondayBlogs so I took a break to get wood with the Hub just a few hours worth of chores in the forest. Bad luck, our truck battery died on the mountaintop off a remote dirt road. Good luck I had my phone. Bad luck, its battery was dying! Good luck we reached someone we knew in the area. Bad luck, his wife had his truck. Good luck he called around for us. Bad luck, no one came. Good luck we could huddle inside the cab of the truck once night and cold descended. Bad luck, we heard wolves and the dogs (and I) got scared. Good luck, we saw headlights — our contact got his truck and rescued us! It ended with more good luck — he jumped our battery and the truck started and I cranked on the heat and we arrived at home safe and sound by midnight! Whew…

      Yes, I’m excited about getting writers to Sandpoint. The first ones, I respected their privacy so I didn’t talk about their stay. Writers can have that option, or get the full service meet the town and do readings option. It would be fun to get other host houses and have a Rough Writer meet up. I’m conscientious of travel costs, but if I could help by finding guest homes (in addition to mine) it could be possible! Each of you is always welcome here at my home. I have a guest room and a half, and an air mattress so I could have up to 4 or 5 guests at once. I’m so excited for the library collaboration and I meet with the publisher on Thursday to talk about more formalized conferences in the area.

      You always respond in kind with a thought-provoking reflection and education!

      • Norah

        Oh Charli! I so enjoyed your good luck/bad luck story. But I’m pleased it ended with the good. I didn’t like the sound of a night out in the woods with the wolves howling and prowling. Have I seen too many horror movies? No. I don’t tend to watch them. It would just freak me out! I’m so pleased your rescuer arrived, your truck started and you were able to turn on the heat and get home safely about midnight. (coincidence with Cinderella there?)
        Your writers’ retreats and panel discussions sound awesome! You have so much to offer. I look forward to hearing about your discussions with the publisher. I’m staying tuned! 🙂

      • Charli Mills

        It was a culmination of a Red Riding Hood/Cinderella story! Funny thing is that we’ve returned several more times and each time we meet people on the road. Yet no one showed up the night we got stranded!

    • Charli Mills

      Never too late! Oh, the Hub is great practice for patience! 😀

      • Sherri

        Thanks Charli 😀


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