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March 2: Flash Fiction Challenge

March 2Mr. P would ask, “Have you read the Iliad?” I’d shake my head no. If I had my way, I’d have stayed lost in the Little Woods or the Prairie. Eventually I found my way from  Laura Ingalls to the diary of a girl who died among the Donner Party. I’d seen wagon ruts, knew about the granite walls where you could still see scrapes from the wagons hoisted up impenetrable box canyons, and I often read my library books in the back of an old Conestoga abandoned along Pleasant Valley Creek.

But Mr. P wasn’t having any of it. He sent me through Greek mythology, introduced me to classics and quizzed me on each book. I couldn’t escape this Apache. Yes, he was Apache–a scholar, a poker player, the husband of one of my school teachers and he worked for the county in a little modular office set up next to the stout library built of rock. He knew how to lure me. “Want to know where you can find arrowheads?” My eyes lit up. Yes! The catch was, read another classic.

And so I did.

For some reason, these books failed to capture my imagination until I read Bram Stoker’s Dracula. Yet what intrigued me about Dracula was what kept me going back to the library for Laura Ingalls. It wasn’t just the stories, but the authors. I wondered at who Laura was behind the page as much as on it. For some reason I can’t explain, I was curious as to why Bram Stoker would write such a story. So I wrote a story about Bram and how he liked history and mountains and found himself researching Vlad Tepes in Romania.

I was 12 or 13. It was after I discovered writing stories. My first constraints were given to my by my 7th/8th-grade teacher who also made me run long distance for physical education. Where I lagged in running, I excelled in spinning stories. I wrote three pages. He said write five. I wrote five and he said write ten. I suspected he was training me like in PE–run half a mile this week, one mile the next.

In 8th-grade I was running five miles and turning in 15 pages a week. I dropped the running but never the writing.

Fast forward through my life and other mentors flash in and out of memory. I can tell you what each library was like wherever I lived. In St. Paul I discovered the History Center, where a humble library sat upon three levels of historical archives. Here I learned to walk in the shadow of classics that mattered most to me–historical fiction. I secretly dreamed that one day I’d finish a historical novel.

Now it’s the path I walk (not run) out loud. I’m writing historical fiction, revising my first draft, poking at the idea for my second. With my contributions to Go Idaho, I’m firmly set to join Women Write the West. This is my dream and I would not have it if it weren’t for the libraries in my life, and the people who pointed me to them. When was the last time you visited your library?

Libraries are more than a container of books. As writers we should be attached to our libraries like a baby to mama. They comfort and nurture us; they help us grow and learn. The Library in Sandpoint is as amazing as a star. It twinkles among a swath of other diamonds that make up the night sky. I have one, you have one, every community has one. And like stars, each one is worthy of wonder. May we never lose our wonderment for libraries!

Yet, what do you do for your library?

I know what East Bonner County Library District does for me. Books. They have old favorites, new fictions. It was upon The Library shelf I discovered, I Was a Revolutionary by Andrew Malan Milward, a collection of short stories rooted in history and place, weaving in and out of time, genders and ethnic identities. It opened my eyes to threading shorts in a long way. I can check out seeds from my library! Seeds! I can also deposit seeds from my garden.

When I do something for The Library, I get something in return. I became a volunteer and I get supportive and informational monthly meetings with chocolate. I host Wrangling Words and get support for building a local writing community. I put up posters and I meet people and get coffee. I make posters and I get invited to a design workshop. And did I mention, this is all free? I get to grow and learn as I did in school. Learning is life-long at the library.

In 1909, Fairbury Public Library become one of 69 Carnegie libraries in Nebraska 48 years after Cobb’s death, two years after Mary died (in Fairbury) and one year after their son Monroe met Wild Bill Cody. Monroe would tell the western entertainer his version of events at Rock Creek that eventful day when Hickok (Cody’s good friend) shot Monroe’s father. Today, Fairbury Public Library is the repository for genealogy in Jefferson County where Rock Creek was located. And yes, I’ve been to that library. It’s the photo for this week’s challenge.

Appalachians are often thought of as uneducated. Yet, Cobb was highly educated and so were his sisters and brother. His father was a school teacher. Cobb introduced one of Jefferson County’s first schools, paying a teacher out of his own pocket to teach his children and others in the area. I wonder if he would have had a personal library. Sarah was also literate, but Mary and Nancy Jane were not. Literacy didn’t seem to get a woman further in life during these times. And many northerners (Yankees) made poor assumptions upon hearing a southern accent, thinking a slow drawl meant an uneducated mind. How wrong, yet these biases still stick to the annuals of history.

Literacy is a great equalizer, and as Mr. P tried to impress upon me, a foundation of books builds an open mind.

March 2, 2016 prompt: In 99 words (no more, no less) write a story that includes a library. You can honor the libraries in your own experience, dream about libraries of the future or explore a community without one. Bonus points for discovering something you didn’t know your library offered. For example, my library offers organic and heirloom seeds.

Respond by March 8, 2016 to be included in the weekly compilation. Rules are here. All writers are welcome!


Northern Assumptions by Charli Mills

The stranger scuffed his boots when he entered Rock Creek Trading Post.

“Howdy, Ma’am.”

A lanky freighter, Sarah thought. He favored one leg and his left arm hung limp. “Good day. Supplies are low until spring mud recedes.”

“Well, I don’t think you’d have what I need, anyways.” He touched the brim of his hat.

“What’s that, Sir?”

He grinned. “A proper northern library.”

“I see. Follow me.” Sarah opened the backdoor to reveal shelves of books. She grabbed one, handing it to the stranger. “I hope this isn’t beyond your grand intellect.”

It read, Tom Thumb’s Picture Alphabet.



  1. Annecdotist says:

    I never tire of posts in praise of public libraries – or even the quirky private ones – but rather short of time right now as I’m off to talk about my book this afternoon at a nearby library! Let’s not forget how supportive libraries are of writers also. And I loved the last line of your Flash – so much in that book title.

    • Charli Mills says:

      Libraries are supportive of writers which is why we should support them! I’m enriched by my volunteerism at my library. Yay! Happy to hear you giving a talk at your library today. Wishing you a good crowd!

      • Annecdotist says:

        There were about 10 people, which I thought was good, and some had already read my book. And there was CAKE – that was definitely unexpected!

      • Charli Mills says:

        Cake! That’s a Library Bonus! Every time I host an event, the Adult Education Director brings oranges, cookies and tea. Wow, so some people showed up having already read your book. That’s great!

  2. TanGental says:

    How fascinating. I will write of the link I feel with you in this post. We share a sepulchral love of libraries. Such a cheesy grin on my face at the thought if my life in libraries! I’ll be back

  3. Lisa Reiter says:

    And didn’t we first meet Geoff, Anne and Norah at The British Library?! Wish I had a picture of us there for a little memoir!

    Meanwhile the most bizarre side thing to this is that I can see this post if Charli’s in my WordPress Reader but not yet via her site via my internet browser. I didn’t know there was a delay across the airwaves like that!?

    • Charli Mills says:

      Simply reading, “The British Library,” I get chills of excitement! I get a different set of chills reading the post anomaly. My website crashed last Friday. I am hoping it is well and just a fluke of delay or maybe a need to refresh the browser.

      A little trick my library taught me (from the design workshop): search for the British Library images in Google. Click on Search Tools and select from the Usage Rights drop down box, “labeled for noncommercial reuse with modification.” That will bring up all the images you can use in your blog post!

      • Lisa Reiter says:

        Thanks Charli – I will investigate that. A twist on the truth been brewing all day!
        Meanwhile all looking as it should now at the ranch. Earlier if I chose the galloping flash, today’s prompt came up in the right hand list of posts but it wasn’t showing on the home screen. Just bizarre – but I guess it must be to do with how often content gets refreshed across the pond. No idea why it wouldn’t be instant! Those days of mainframes updating overnight have surely long gone?!

      • Lisa Reiter says:

        Just tried that. We don’t get those options unfortunately 🙁
        I’ll see what else I can come up with. Shame I’m not in London before the deadline!
        (Feel free to edit /delete these comments should you wish!)

      • Charli Mills says:

        We often say it’s the “Idaho Effect” as we seem to lag behind!

    • TanGental says:

      We did. Norah has a picture of us by that floating bookshop I think! Not sure if we took one in the library

    • Norah says:

      Yes we did, Lisa. It was a fabulous venue in which to meet wonderful people. No photo but many fond memories. We do have that photo taken near the floating bookshop, though. 🙂

    • Norah says:

      Sorry, Lisa. My response meant Yes, we did meet at the library. No, we didn’t take a photo.
      I have snipped an image of the search I think Charli is talking about. Try this: Choose labelled for reuse.
      I hope it helps.

  4. […] Charli Mills asked us to write about libraries this week for her 99 word flash fiction challenge. […]

  5. denmaniacs4 says:

    By a very small coincidence, Charli, yesterday was my last day volunteering at our Island’s small Community Library. It was fun for me for over ten years but it was time to do other things, of which there is always plenty waiting in the wings. Here is a somewhat out of date link for the curious.

    In any case, here is my flash contribution to this weeks call.

    Speaking Volumes

    Two hours into our morning promenade, Aggie Runacre and I reached the road to Union City.

    “I’m enjoying the company, Aggie. It’s a comfort to leave the lonelys behind for a spell.”

    “I’m never lonesome, Mr. Dobbs. Always have my Harriet.”

    “Your horse?” I guessed, though her old Morgan looked part mule.

    “Hah,” she chuckled, “Old General Grant here keeps me company, but I meant this…”

    She hauled out a book from her saddle bag.

    “Uncle Tom’s Cabin. A mite tattered, I confess. It and my Bible are my…travelling library. You got a book, you’ve always got a friend.”

    • Pat Cummings says:

      There is ALWAYS work for a willing volunteer!

    • Charli Mills says:

      What a terrific library you have and congratulations on 10 years of volunteer service. Funny that it was your last day yesterday! I love the “Wall of Shame” and how it backfired due to islanders who found status in being listed. 🙂 What a great traveling library! I think it’s no coincidence that books fit in saddlebags so well. I’m really liking these characters.

  6. Pat Cummings says:

    My library discovery happened in middle school, though not in the school library. The Call of Telstar is at

  7. Fifty Shades of Embarrassment

    “I have that book – Fifty Shades of Grey? I’ll give it to you when I’ve read it!”

    My mother is talking about her latest find from her condo’s book exchange table.

    We’re surrounded by family – including my squeamish sons – so how do I tell her that:
    a) This series has an “eyebrow-raising erotic storyline” – and;
    b) I’ve already read them.

    Yes, not to be ignorant of a cultural juggernaut, I borrowed Fifty Shades from our community library. You can, too – or from my mother. You can be the one to tell her I’ve already read it!

    • Charli Mills says:

      Welcome to Carrot Ranch, Stephanie! Your flash made me laugh! clever take on the prompt, and as our library often says, they don’t judge what other read either. 🙂

  8. Oliana says:

    What a great post!! I love libraries and lately I have been looking to where I should move to retire. One of the key issues are to be near a public library where I can have a selection of books in English as well as in French.Living in a French province I grew up in towns with little to no books in English so but as a child I had no choice where I lived…I do now. I love libraries…used to spend hours with my grandson as well. And we would take out over 10 books between the two of us every two weeks. I miss those days. Maybe I could volunteer to read to youths when I retire too.

    • Charli Mills says:

      I think when we live in smaller communities we have a greater appreciation for the big world libraries open up to us. My library has a free language learning program and I was thinking how I’d love to work on my Spanish or French. Amazing that I have the opportunity! I hope you find a place with a wonderful library!

      • Oliana says:

        I think you are right…coming from a small town where books were mostly in French…I felt in heaven visiting the city. My kids when they were little would literally sit on the floor at book stores too enjoying so many books they good understand. Yes, I will make it a point to have library close by.

      • Charli Mills says:

        What an image, your children on the floor in bookstores reading! That’s why we need books!

  9. Love the story of your mentor. 📚❤️

    I cherished my little library card when I was a kid. Now I’m all grown up and…still cherish my card. My kids have their own cards and it’s so cool to watch them searching shelves for favorites or something brand new to try. Your flash had me laughing out loud. 😄

  10. By coincidence I have just signed a petition to save our National Library and Trove (a fantastic collection of collections such as newspapers) from proposed funding cuts. For any Australian only 26 more signatures are needed and we definitely need our library. I love libraries whether it be our state of the art university library where there is hardly a book to be seen (a real change from the libraries of Fisher at Sydney University of the past) to council run libraries to the Mitchell library in Sydney. For me growing up they were the internet of my childhood and I loved the hush amongst the volumes. I was also lucky in that my family had a library as did my father’s side of the family. I can’t imagine a world without books but unlike many I am happy not to have to hold a volume in my hands as long as I can read it I am happy with an electronic version which our library also provides. I’ll come back when I have thought of my 99 words for the week and comment on your flash then.

    • Charli Mills says:

      I’m surprised to hear of funding cuts and closures of libraries! I’d sign but I’m in the wrong hemisphere. I hope all goes well. Private libraries fascinate me, too. Do you still have books from your father’s family? For my love of books, I don’t hold them as well as I once did. Having a Kindle has (no pun intended) rekindled my reading. Our library also offers many electronic downloads, including books, audiobooks, music and movies. I appreciate my library. Great comment about libraries being the internet of your childhood!

      • Both my great uncle and my Father collected first editions so there were some quite rare books in amongst them. We could choose what we wanted to keep. I got the dictionary which is the larger of the two books shown on the table. My brother took the family bible which is next to it. I kept the Joseph Conrad collection. We were away in Vanuatu at the time so it was difficult to make a choice. One book which I would have chosen (it used to haunt me as a child as it sat on the floor to ceiling bookcase in my room and the picture on the spine gave me the creeps) Mum kept so I will get it at some point. My brother would have taken some but I don’t know what. Most went to auction.
        Your flash this week was surprising both in what the man wanted and then in Sarah’s response and probably also in the fact that they had a library in what I probably think of as the wild west.
        Mine this week

      • Charli Mills says:

        That family library must have been something to experience as a child! Difficult to break up and see it go to auction but unless one has the space it would be hard to take all those books. Cobb McCanles and his family were well-educated. I imagine (because I have no evidence) they had a personal library because of the remote area where they lived. They were not people to be without books. One thing historians gloss over with barely a mention is that Cobb started a school once his children arrived. He even paid for a teacher to come out. He had to have some books. Perhaps I’ve exaggerated it in my WIP but it is plausible. That flash is actually a condensed version of Sarah Shull meeting Hickok for the first time and his biased northern surprise that the “southerners” running Rock Creek Station are literate.

  11. […] This is an on-going serial inspired by Charli Mills’ 99 word story prompt. […]

  12. I’ve decided to continue this story. Here’s the next installment

  13. […] prompt this week has, necessarily, engendered much […]

  14. A. E. Robson says:

    Our library offers so much more than the cherished books on its shelf. It hosts workshops, and is a place for the Writing Group and Book Club to meet. The Author Series introduces writers from across the country through free informal wine and cheese evenings. Children’s groups meet here. There are big chairs near the fireplace to relax and read your favourite book or magazine. The online book requests are the modern technology version of books being available by mail order. My how times have changed.

    Between Scholastic book orders available through the teachers of the two room schoolhouse and books that could be ordered by mail, a library-less town became a breeding ground for a reading addiction.

    Mail Order Library
    By Ann Edall-Robson

    Was today the day the parcel would arrive? The one from the library in a city far away. The one that would have six books chosen from the list provided. The one that nourished a young girls’ appetite for written words.

    She would have three weeks to read them and choose the next six books. At the end of their stay, they would be lovingly wrapped in brown paper, tied with string and taken back to the post office.

    In about ten days the young girl’s anticipation would start to build. Was today the day the parcel would arrive?

    • Charli Mills says:

      Your library sounds like a hale and hearty center of your community. I especially like the idea of a fireplace reading nook. Good that they are supportive of writers, too. Oh, you reminded me of the Scholastic book orders! That was amazing, too. I really like your angle on the prompt and how life-changing books can be to a child.

  15. Here’s my response to this excellent challenge. 🙂

    Good Friends
    Written by Kerry E.B. Black

    Sarah shifted in the chair, making herself as comfortable as tight muscles allowed, and reached for the first stack of books. She struggled against rebelling arm and hand muscles to place colored price stickers on books donated to the library. She smiled remembering loved stories and favorite authors. When Sarah’s volunteering time ended, the librarian retrieved the stickered books. “Thank you, Sarah. These books will bring in some needed cash to keep this place running. Sorry no one else showed up to keep you company.” Sarah took in the surrounding titles. “Actually, I wasn’t alone. Good friends were here.”

    • Charli Mills says:

      Such a caring attitude the volunteer has toward her friends. I could easily picture Sarah working away despite the effort it was for her.

  16. I love your challenges, Charli!! The background and the inspiration is all right here. Then we get to read your work which is always a treat! Thanks and I will get going on my response!

  17. TanGental says: I had to curtail my reminiscing about libraries because I could have gone on forever. Such a splendid way to reminisce.

  18. […] March 2: Flash Fiction Challenge March 2, 2016 prompt: In 99 words (no more, no less) write a story that includes a library. You can honor the libraries in your own experience, dream about libraries of the future or explore a community without one. Bonus points for discovering something you didn’t know your library offered. For example, my library offers organic and heirloom seeds. […]

  19. julespaige says:

    a good yesterday
    (haiku series / reverse haibun)

    so much more in store
    recordings, programs, art, books
    at the library

    ‘Sing and Sign’ we hear
    familiar songs and two
    different farm books

    a lost chick helps us
    counting; another, a goose
    finds a place to nest

    Grama gets a new
    library card, barrows books;
    and then buys some too

    full morn uses up
    the Little girl’s energy;
    quiet afternoon

    Our local library is fairly new. On a good day –
    I could walk to it. I am now in their system.
    I didn’t know they’d be taking my photo. Most
    Fridays I take Little Miss for free programs.


    Our local township library is more or less brand spanking
    new. I helped build it. With monetary contributions as well
    as books. I also buy books from the Cafe (book store) every
    time I visit. When the library was still an annex in a trailer
    behind the police station, when my children were younger –
    I was a volunteer. Our library has programs for infants to
    elders. Rooms to rent, and places for research. Quiet nooks
    and the silo room that has a door that can close where most
    of the children’s programs are held.

    See the post here:
    a good yesterday

    • Charli Mills says:

      Wow, what a commitment to your community to have been involved in the building and maintaining of your library. It must feel good to visit! I like the line that all the book activities lead to “quiet afternoon.” And the surprise at getting your photo taken for your card!

      • julespaige says:

        I didn’t hammer any nails… But I did that – hammer nails when helping to build some of those three day children’s parks.

        I had a library card, but hadn’t used it in a while. So I had to get a new one. Almost like going to the Doc’s, I had to sign a privacy form. And state who else besides me could pick up books that I might ‘order’. I’m surprised they just didn’t photo copy my photo ID.

      • Charli Mills says:

        I once photocopied my Montana Drivers License and discovered that the holograms set into photo IDs don’t copy well. I had a grizzly bear’s rump shadow my face! So good that you support your community in many ways. It’s what makes community.

  20. Pete says:

    On my lunch break I shuffle past girls with baby carriages, teenagers against a brick wall. I keep my head down. Classical music tumbles from speakers above, at odds with the cigarette butts and litter.

    The usual noise inside. People on computers or browsing the DVD’s. An argument near the bathrooms. I plunge into the aisles of LEH —NAE.

    There’s a boy crouching. The man behind him, Dad I assume, hovers. Points.

    Something about his effort—concern—lifts my head. Makes me smile. I check out into the sun. Hopeful.

    If I hurry I can get a chapter in.

    • Charli Mills says:

      Hopeful. That’s essence of a place that still has a library! Your flash makes me feel like it stands in defiance to the decay of social ignorance, putting forth its classical music and upholding its Dewey Decimal system. Only in a library would one recognize aisles thus marked! Great flash!

  21. Pete says:

    Oh man, forgot about this story I wrote about a library. Charli, so sorry to muddy the waters of this site, but…

    • Charli Mills says:

      It doesn’t muddy the waters at all, Pete! I hope the Ranch can be a place where we can expand upon what we write and share other works we each have. Thanks for sharing!

    • Pat Cummings says:

      I just had to share this link on Google+ today… We are in the process of customizing our own LFL, so this tale rang ALL the bells!

  22. […] Carrot Ranch Communications: March 2 2016 Flash Fiction Challenge […]

  23. wildchild47 says:

    Great prompt Charli 😀

    Libraries – sadly far too many are of the dying breed on the cusp of extinction – but for me, they are miracles spaces of magic.

    • Charli Mills says:

      Libraries are so vital and I hope we can share the magic with those who don’t realize it!

      • wildchild47 says:

        very true …. regular and frequent visits to libraries should be “mandatory” for all children …and adults …. and I’m not one for too many “imposed rules and regulations” …. 😉

        Libraries are not mere book repositories … they are the spaces of dreams, hopes, wishes, information, social interaction and gateways to the infinite possibilities and potential that can awaken us all …. in so many inspired and inspiring ways …. 🙂

      • Charli Mills says:

        We need such space to dream, don’t we?

      • wildchild47 says:

        yes! 😀

  24. Norah says:

    Great post, Charli. Two points strike me most:
    1. May we never lose our wonderment for libraries!
    2. a foundation of books builds an open mind.
    It is a sad thing that many libraries are closing and that many schools are losing their teacher librarians. Here in Queensland many schools can decide what staff they will employ, and many are deciding that a teacher librarian doesn’t offer as much as an administrator or data collector. It is very sad. There is more to being a teacher librarian that buying and arranging books on the shelves. A teacher librarian inspires children to try new genres and authors, targets books to children’s interests and enthuses children through read-aloud and storytelling sessions. Nobody in a school knows books, readers and children the way a teacher librarian does. I think a teacher librarian should be the first staff member employed in any school. Construct a welcoming library (and I’m not referring to a building) and education will flow from there. Your Mr P. is a great example of what this means.
    How wonderful your 7th-8th grade teacher for stretching your running legs. I wonder is that teacher still around, aware of the benefits you, we, have reaped. It would be wonderful if teachers could be told of the value they add to the lives of others. The ripple spreads outwards – it has traveled the world many times over.
    I was interested to hear that Sarah was literate but that neither Mary nor Nancy were. How lucky we women are to live in a time and place where women are encouraged to become literate and make a contribution to society.
    Hahaha! Love your flash. Sarah knew just how to put the boot in and give him his comeuppance. Well done!

    • Charli Mills says:

      Ah, I took heart at your suggestion that I reach out to my inspirational teacher, especially after reading how skewed schools are at valuing bean-counters over those who enrich children’s minds. I’ve not been back to where I grew up in over 20 years. It took me quite a search to find Mr. Price. Evidently he and his wife moved across the border into Nevada, where he went back to teaching. Sadly, I found out he died in 2011. The best I can do now is share his obituary to say yes, he was the best teacher I ever had, too:

      • Norah says:

        What a lovely tribute, Charli. You weren’t the only one of his students to think him the best. What an inspiring educator and what a legacy he has left behind. We reap the benefit of his contribution to and through you. Thank you for following up on his story and sharing it here. I’m very touched.

      • Annecdotist says:

        Hurrah for you trying to find that teacher, Charli, and sorry you missed him.

  25. Collegiate libraries have changed with the times:

    • Charli Mills says:

      I spent many hours in mine and even had a favorite desk for research. It was quiet and full of books.

    • Annecdotist says:

      Ugh, so true. I wanted to have a book launch at the university I attended and at which my novel is set. (Including a scene in the library, forgot about that for this prompt.) of course, I knew I’d had to pay, but it had gone so upmarket it was unaffordable.

      • Charli Mills says:

        Makes me curious to go back to my college and see what changes have taken place. We always had a commons area and the bookstore had the coffee shop. Hopefully not the library!

  26. Libraries are soulful heady places and I love this prompt! Here’s mine and thank you, Charli!

    • Charli Mills says:

      Yes they are and I think they’ll evolve with us and our technology as centers of community and life-long learning. Thanks for sharing your flash!

  27. rogershipp says:

    Unseen Wealth
    “$26.29, sir.”
    “Excuse me?”
    “$26.29, sir.”
    Are my books overdue? Why do I owe this money?
    The usual, sir.
    The usual? Usually, I walk into my friendly neighborhood library, politely return my books, and browse the New Books selections in hopes of discovering a new author. Then, I peruse the mystery shelves for books to check-out on this visit. Nowhere in that scenario does there occur a “$26.29, sir.”
    Under-appreciated facilities, sir. A new audit revealed, people usually think that they get with they pay for. Since extending our financial accoutrements, we have seen a 37% uptick in patronage.

    • Charli Mills says:

      That’s one way to express the value! Maybe librarians should say something like, “You saved $75 checking out these items today.” 🙂

    • Annecdotist says:

      Sad truth, Roger, people value things they pay for. Strange though that it’s often hard for people to translate that into the privilege of paying taxes.

  28. imagenn793 says:

    Hello 🙂 This is my first time seeing this flash fiction challenge and it looks really fun and enjoyable. Definitely going to be participating in these more often. If you want to check out my story:

  29. […] Another dark response to Charli’s flash fiction prompt at the Carrot Ranch! […]

  30. Lisa Reiter says:

    Such a joyful post. #Libraries would make make a nice meme for sharing how they look and what they do and share!

    However, I’ve failed to resist the dark side calling 😀

  31. […] Carrot Ranch Communications March 2 Flash Fiction Challenge: In 99 words, no more and no less, write about a library: […]

  32. Deborah Lee says:

    Love, love, love my library! I’m fortunate to have Seattle’s library now, one of the most beautiful I’ve seen, but I’ve loved every library I’ve been privileged to call “mine.”

    • Charli Mills says:

      One day I’d like to hop on the train in Sandpoint and visit Seattle! I’ve seen so many beautiful little libraries, I’m due for a big one. 🙂 Hope Jane likes libraries, too…

  33. […] Written in response to the Charli Mills Flash Fiction Challenge, who asks us to write a piece of fl…  […]

  34. My first time here, Charli. Hope you enjoy the story. It’s a bit of a mean one for a first attempt.

  35. Annecdotist says:

    Back with mine, and a chance on my blog for all to vote on fictional heroines for international women’s day tomorrow

    • Charli Mills says:

      Really liked the message in your flash and I think it says much about the importance of community hubs and safe places open to the public. Great photo from your recent presentation at your library! I love the way readers showed up to meet you! Great validation for an author!

  36. […] post was written in response to the March 2: Flash Fiction Challenge, hosted by Carrot Ranch. The idea is to write a story with exactly 99 words, no more, no less, […]

  37. […] Flash Fiction Challenge over at Carrot Ranch […]

  38. […] Mills’ March 2, 2016 Carrot Ranch Flash Fiction challenge was to write a story in 99 words (no more, no less) that includes a library.   Here is my […]

  39. My first experience with a library was through a bookmobile. I happily discovered that they have not all become relics of a bygone era! My flash, however, takes place in another kind of library – the one people used to have in their homes. The study. The flash is titled Books of Value.

    • Charli Mills says:

      Where I grew up, my county had the smallest population so we had a bookmobile, too. But I lived in the town with the one county library! We have one here in north Idaho and it comes within four miles of my house. I can order a book from my library and only have a short drive to pick it up rather than the longer 20 mile drive.

  40. […] week at the Carrot Ranch Charli Mills is talking about the classics and libraries. I was a bit intrigued by the coincidence, for my current audiobook is A Classical Education The […]

  41. Norah says:

    Thank you for reminding me that I have access to a wonderful library in my neighbourhood, as well as in my home. Perhaps I should start borrowing, rather than buying, again. But then, what good would that do to we authors? 🙂 Here’s my response to this week’s challenge.

    • Charli Mills says:

      It’s the distributors that have a choke-hold on books (ownership, availability and income). Distributors even control indie authors. I won’t go into a soapbox tirade on the subject (yet) but distributors charge libraries exorbitantly to carry print and digital publications. What libraries need to maintain their budgets are people to use their services and facilities. I wouldn’t swap borrowing for buying, but I do borrow more books now just to skim for research (to see what new authors are doing or how popular books construct openings and endings). I also use the inter-library loan program for historical research or to get out of print books. So I say do both! Buy and borrow!

      • Norah says:

        Great advice, Charli. You have certainly made me think again about borrowing books. It would help keep me up to date. Everything seems to come down to the bottom line – money – doesn’t it? We need a new way of prioritizing things.

  42. […] Thank you Charli I hope this is of interest for anyone wanting to check Carli’s prompt click Here The photo is from free stock photos […]

  43. ellenbest24 says: here is my crack at the flash, This will be the second one I’ve completed but the first time I have entered. Thank you for the opportunity. 😇

  44. roweeee says:

    Thanks Charli for another great prompt which sent me running through all sorts of corridors, twists and turns during the last week. I was sorely tempted to set some sort of action in Sydney University’s Fisher Library. The reference side was known as Fisher Stack and all sorts…good and bad were rumoured to happen up there. I don’t know how I got onto the subject of my Old English Sheepdog, a troubled rescue dog. It is a struggle to know how to respond to a troubled pet long term but what about people? Something to think about. I don’t pretend to have the answers but if we kept asking questions, perhaps we’ll get there oneday.
    xx Rowena

    • Charli Mills says:

      Isn’t it wonderful how the mind works? The constraint shuts us down, gives us a barrier, a problem. And then the mind rebels and goes into problem-solving mode, running down corridors and leading us to unexpected places. That’s one of many reasons I like flash fiction! So of course, it lead to a troubled sheepdog. 😉

  45. paulamoyer says:

    I love libraries, too, but for some reason, my mind went to the metaphorical:

    Abnormal phone call

    By Paula Moyer

    Every time her sister hung on her, Jean fought the urge to diagnose.

    What was her illness? Bipolar disorder? If so, which mood phase? Or was it paranoid schizophrenia? Early dementia? Borderline personality? Whatever it was, wasn’t right.

    There. The phone rang. Yep –Meg’s number. With a rock in her stomach, Jean answered, as always.

    As always, the conversation started out normal – Meg’s voice was calm, even, actually pleasant.

    Then it started. The yelling. The swearing. The inevitable hang-up.

    Jean wanted a whole library of psychiatry textbooks to identify what had happened on the other end of the phone.

  46. Sherri says:

    Hi Charli! Well, this is the first chance I’ve had to read your post, and I love it, of course! Libraries are the best, but I hang my head in shame. I’ve joined mine (make a point of it wherever I’ve lived), but yet to go. What’s with that? I really need to, and have been wanting to…got my library card and everything…so no bonus points for me with the ‘extras’… 🙁 Duly chastised…
    I thought of libraries here and in the States, from the one in Los Angeles, the British Library (reading comments above, some, will have to return for the rest…), to the mobile library that I used to love as a girl when it came to our village, and to the tiny one in the 500 population rural community I lived in California. Oh, and the school library of course! So many stories I could think of, and you know, every one a happy one. Some funny too. I loved making sure my kids all had their library cards, we made it a regular outing. How great to have seeds at yours 🙂
    But what spoke to me was how, when I first moved to California and didn’t know a single sole, it was through taking the kids to storytime and mother and me at the library, as well as just to check out books for them and me, that I made really good friends. Other mums, like me, with children the same age. Strangely, one in particular I lost touch with. Seasonal friends for that time in my life…as it sometimes goes…
    Love your pic, what a grand library indeed! And of course your flash…love the book, haha! I can see his face now! But what an amazing story about your mentor Charli, wow. You were meant to write weren’t you?
    So sorry I haven’t had time to join in here, I see I’m always straggling 🙁 I’ll try to do better. Here’s my flash, hope you like <3

    Friends of the Library

    Standing across from the school room, Jessie waited alone for the rush of children. The other moms huddled nearby in two’s and three’s, chatting, nodding, laughing. Jessie wondered how long they had all been friends…

    “The teacher told me to give you this…” Her son flapped a piece of paper at her as soon as he escaped through the open door.

    ‘Weekly Storytime at the Library’ read the flyer. ‘Volunteers needed.’

    The following week, Jessie read to the pre-schoolers and smiled at the woman who thanked her afterwards asking, “New here?”

    Twenty years later, they were still best friends.

    • Charli Mills says:

      Your reflection and flash both show one of the greatest super powers the library can bestow upon us — that of friendship! Like you, I love libraries, have so many experiences and stories but really had fallen away from going. With kids grown and books easily retrieved on my Kindle, I’d pop in for free movies. Then, like your character, I volunteered! The magical doors opened again. Thanks for galloping in on a busy day! Hope you get everything done!

  47. jeanne229 says:

    Libraries! What a wonderful prompt. Like you, I hear the word and a reel of images begins to play. Just loved hearing your early experiences…having a Consestoga wagon as a secret reading place would have compelled me to earn your friendship anyway I could, just to sit there with a book by your side. As a girl I loved our small library in Sunnyslope. It was in an old two story house, which in itself was a thrill….the smell of old wood and books….magic. I carted my kids to the library when they were young, once spoke at a city hall meeting against the closing of the public library located at he high school (we won), and still go from time to time. We can get rid of some of the bean counters and not notice any difference. But a librarian….that loss can’t be measured… Will be back to browse more stories.

    • Charli Mills says:

      We could have had fun, reading together in the back of that wagon! It was so tall (or maybe I remember it tat way because I was young, and short). I think it is still there, but who knows in what condition. I liked Laura Ingalls Wilder’s books so much because she spoke of the decaying items I saw, growing up in what was once an old mining camp. I really do agree about the bean counters, they might tell us how many beans we can add or subtract, but they never have the recipes for bean soup that feeds our minds, hearts and communities.


    Really enjoyed this one.

    When we bought our first house in Providence, RI we had a fantastic neighborhood branch of the public library that was closed for a while due to budget cuts. This sent a pitiful message to the already marginalized in the urban neighborhood… Why is it the first things politicians take from the poor is their books and their arts… maddening…

    • Charli Mills says:

      Books are the first thing we need to share on the margins of society. I like the many creative ways we can do that. But this reminds me more than ever to support our libraries!

  49. […] post was inspired by Charli Mills’s flash fiction challenge over at Carrot Ranch: March 2, 2016 prompt: In 99 words (no more, no less) write a story that […]

  50. jeanne229 says:

    So lamentably late again, but bearing the rewards of having met the challenge.

    A Free Man

    The Protective Custody yard wasn’t quite solitary confinement. He could hear inmates in the other cells. Could call out to them. One hour a day he stretched in the barren exercise yard. The rest of the time, it was the eight-by-ten cell. Time seemed to stop.

    Except when the book cart rattled by. Beats me, he thought, how a prison can have such a fine library. The Brothers Karamazov, One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest. Vonnegut. Joseph Conrad. It was the only thing keeping him sane. The only thing reminding him he was, where it counted, a free man.

    More at:

  51. […] (or privately) acknowledged for the positive influence they have had upon a life. Charli did this recently when she acknowledged a high school teacher who had encouraged her to achieve more than she […]

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