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March 16: Flash Fiction Challenge

March 16Today is a cake kind of day. Go on, grab a fork and savor a bite. Settle in for a story.

Carrot Ranch is imaginary. It’s a place where literary writers gather. Like rainbow cake, we are many colors and layers. Some write novels; some short stories. Some write memoirs; some science journals. Some write poetry; some write web content. We write from different places around the world: Australia, UK, Canada, Poland, US, Spain and have welcomed others passing through from Germany, Turkey and India. We’re a mash of genders and generations. We have different views regarding writing, books and publishing.

All those differences are what makes us a tasty layer cake!

The frosting that holds us together is literature. This might surprise you if you expected me to name the frosting flash fiction. That’s certainly what we do here, and flash fiction is common ground. But the original intent of Carrot Ranch as of March 5, 2014 was to create a bully-free zone where writers could learn to access creativity through problem solving (the constraint); write from a unique perspective (diversity); read and discuss the process or prompt (engagement). All those attributes add up to a literary experience.

Literature most commonly refers to works of the creative imagination and includes the responses we create as flash fiction. Often we think of literature possessing artistic merit or lasting value, so how is it that we can claim literary status for works created at an imaginary ranch and constrained to 99 words? It goes back to that literary experience — we are not collecting a canon of trendy flash fiction, but rather using them to explore our ideas, characters, longer works, craft and more. We share what we write. We read a collection each week that speaks to our world experience right here, right now, from multiple perspectives.

Literature is what speaks to us and through flash fiction we are speaking how we observe and interact with the world.

Consider these thoughts:

“It’s in literature that true life can be found. It’s under the mask of fiction that you can tell the truth.” ~ Gao Xingjian

“Literature is the art of discovering something extraordinary about ordinary people, and saying with ordinary words something extraordinary.” ~ Boris Pasternak

“Literature adds to reality, it does not simply describe it. It enriches the necessary competencies that daily life requires and provides; and in this respect, it irrigates the deserts that our lives have already become.” ~ C. S. Lewis

But who comes to an imaginary ranch to be constrained and roped into a literary process?

I have a Just One theory. For something to happen, it takes just one to set the spark. On March 5, 2014 just one person bridged people I knew with people I did not. Several writers from social media, Susan Zutautas and Ruchira Khanna, showed up to the first challenge, and I was grateful. My friend and family member, Paula Moyer, also showed up and I felt supported. Yet, from Australia, and only serendipity can say why, Norah Colvin stepped on to Carrot Ranch and took the challenge.

Norah was my Just One. She is the catalyst that got flash rolling. All four writers who showed up that day set the flames of the future in motion. The next week Pete Fanning showed up, followed by Georgia Bell, Sarah Brentyn, Anne Goodwin, Geoff Le Pard, Lisa Reiter, Larry LaForge, Irene Waters, Amber Prince, Jeanne Lombardo, and Sherri Matthews. I don’t know what stars aligned, but it took just one writer to saddle up and here we are. These are the earliest members of the Congress of the Rough Writers, which now consists of 33 writers and more Friends who join us weekly.

Today is our 99th Flash Fiction Challenge. When I compiled all the stories for the anthology manuscript, I narrowed the responses down to the literary group and contained it to our first year. That amounted to 68,706 words or 694 stories. And to think it started with just one!

As a treat to go with cake, I’m going to share with you some “firsts,” including my first McCanles flash fiction. I never thought I’d actually write Rock Creek, yet all it took was just one 99 word story to plant the seed of a novel. It reminds me that I might get 8,000 publishing rejections to wall-paper my office with, but all I need is just one acceptance.


Flash Fiction by Paula Moyer

Jean scrunched her fingers and toes, back and forth. They were all moving, but she was not strong enough to shake off the rubble. There was just too much of it. She was also unable to bat away the sense of shame. It was all her fault. She had known for some time that she needed to clean up her home office – excavate it, to be more precise. But after years of neglect, the once-rectangular stacks had rounded up into piles – and piles. Yet today, right on time with spring, she sneezed while reaching for a pen. Buried herself.


Flash Fiction by Susan Zutautus

As we were racing down the hill I felt a strange and eerie rumbling going on as the earth shook beneath my skis. I looked over at my son who most likely did not hear or feel anything as his music was probably cranked.

Scared to turn my head but feeling I had to; I saw the white cloud approaching behind us. Quickly I motioned to Allan that we were in big trouble. Seeing the look of terror on his face we both knew deep within our souls that this might indeed be the end for both of us.


Repercussions!! by Ruchira Khanna

Sandra is in a cleaning spree cause if mom will find out she is bound to get a time out for goofing around. As she is wiping those stains from the floor, chair, and table she hears footsteps. Her face is red with guilt and is ready to face the music for her actions.

Gets up to face her mom, who surprisingly has a calm expression and is all ears to hear her side of the story before coming to a decision. Startled Sandra explains how the cans came avalanching when she opened the cabinet thus the mess everywhere.


The Avalanche by Norah Colvin

The trickle began; imperceptible, unheeded and ignored.

Needing more attention, the volume swelled and quickened pace.

Still no attention was forthcoming so the surge became more urgent and incessant in its plea.

“Slow down! Stop me!”

To no avail.

The avalanche engulfed her.

Heat flashed through her body, from feet straight to her head.

Heart pounding loudly, “Let me out of here!” it pled.

With reverberations magnified in each and every cell,

the heady swirl became too much –

she trembling choked. “I’m dying?”

But no:

B-r-e-a-t-h-e s-l-o-w.

B-r-e-a-t-h-e d-e-e-p.



B-r-e-a-t-h-e . . .

The panic abates.


Flash Fiction by Pete Fanning

Any other day a ride to the dump would have made my week. The mountains of treasures, stacked far and wide over the rolling hills. Sure, the smell could get thick, nearly visible during those muggy days of summer, but today my nose was too stuffy to smell anything. I wiped my face with the back of my hand, still unable to look back at my old friend, sitting on garbage bags in the bed of the truck. Dad put a gentle hand on my shoulder, his eyes soft.

“Son, I’ll get you another big wheel, this one’s caput.”


It’s Just the Wind by Georgia Bell

I pressed my forehead to the window, the cold glass soothing against my flushed skin. How long had I stared down at the sidewalk, waiting for something – for someone – to be the change I couldn’t initiate? How long had I been sitting here, wanting and needing and not acting?

I felt him standing behind me. His silence as loud as the words he wouldn’t say. I didn’t turn, but flinched as the window rattled in the frame.

“It’s just the wind,” he said, and I nodded, closing my eyes, hope burning as hot as the tears on my face.


Dreams and Debris by Sarah Brentyn

Sitting next to the bonfire, I read the words I wrote when I still believed. Better days were ahead. Success awaited me. Love would find me.

Flipping through pages, I watch my handwriting change. Ugly scribbles fill the diary toward the end where I wrote about the things that were lost and the things that were never found. I want to remember, to feel something. But I can’t hold on. Bits of my life flutter in and out of my head and these memories lose their meaning. I toss the book into the flames and walk into the lake.


Virgil Kane is My Name by Charli Mills

I says to my wife, there goes them no-good McCanlesses. Me, I’m out plowing the field them Yankees trampled after murdering Cap’t Morgan. Stoneman’s cavalry. Bah! Bunch of thieving turncoats, I say. “You leave Tennessee,” I shouts at them. Their wagons creak but they say nothin’ to me. Old man Cobb McCanless slumps in his wagon seat. Hope he feels a fool having to flee Tennessee. He was my school teacher once. Old man Cobb. A poet. Virgil Kane is my name and I rode on the Danville train. Until Cobb’s sons came and tore up them tracks again.


Flash Fiction Character Bio by Anne Goodwin

Winning the TV quiz show, Family Challenge, assured me a rosy future. My encyclopaedic knowledge would fuel my teaching career. I hadn’t bargained for a pregnancy midway through the training. When I surrendered my baby for adoption, I lost my sense of purpose too.

Can’t complain, though. I work in a school, albeit in admin. I’m extremely popular on quiz nights down the pub. But, if people ask if I have children, I don’t know what to say.

Everything’s changing again, as Jason has made contact. Given he’s about to become a father, can I call myself Grandma now?


Seth by Lisa Reiter

Stooped and bowed, by both time and hard living, his florid, round
face and rude countenance throw up barriers he wishes were not there
but like a caged animal, knows little else.

Once a traveller, now he only journeys between pub and house – no
longer much of a home since Helen left, except for the loyal, mangy
Skip who barks at every passerby – claiming Seth as his pack.

But he loves that dog and ruffles his coat roughly in greeting. Might
be the only time you’ll see him smile but you’ll get a glimpse of a
once warm man.


Dogged by Geoff Le Pard

Harry dropped his gaze to avoid looking at Sally. No point; she didn’t know he existed. He looked at the dog. Milton looked back; he scratched his ear before lowering himself into a squat.

“No. Christ. Not here.”

Milton held Harry’s gaze as he shat on the pavement.

“Great” Harry stared at the sticky turd. He patted his pocket. No bags.

Harry glanced up, wondering if he could leave it. To his horror, Sally was a few paces away. She held out her crisp packet. “Here.”


“For that.”

As Harry cleared up, Sally rubbed Milton’s head. “Cute dog.”


Bye Bye Betsy by Larry LaForge

He’s struggling with it, but knows he must dump her immediately after graduation.

They had a great ride for four years. He took her everywhere, and she never let him down.

She didn’t come with a manual, so he had to learn everything on the fly. It was rocky at times. Someone more experienced could have kept things running more smoothly.

Her presence at the big job interview was embarrassing. Now that he must impress his uppity colleagues, she just can’t be in the picture.

But deep inside he knows.

That’s the best pickup truck he will ever own.


Vacation Getaway by Amber Prince

Night had fallen like a thick blanket dropped from the sky.

I gripped the steering wheel, drying blood oozing between my fingers. I pressed further down on the gas.

It was too late. Headlights flickered in the rearview mirror.

I turned off my own lights and let off of the gas, not using the brakes. I veered off of the road, flying into the field.

I maneuvered into the backseat, pushing the still warm body over top of me.

My only hope was the dead taxi driver, and my ability to play dead.

Man, I should’ve vacationed in Alaska.


The Wheel Barrow by Irene A Waters

The sound came again. Closer this time. It sounded like a squeaky wheelbarrow. He ran to his mother’s room. She would know what to do. Hugging, they listened to the sound. She rang the police. Arriving quickly they searched outside, returning pronouncing the culprit was a leaking hot water system. The plumber was called and the leak repaired. The next night he was again woken by the sound of a wheelbarrow. Not waking his mother he went to check the hot water. He saw the wheelbarrow when suddenly, a hand over his mouth turned his scream silent.


The Patrick Cat by Jeanne Belisle Lombardo

The rain stopped. She stepped through to the patio, drank in the scent of quenched earth and creosote, then moved to the Palo Verde tree.

Her hand on the smooth, green bark, she looked east. A rainbow crowned Fire Rock Mountain.

Then she noticed it, the chain, hanging free from a bough. The terracotta winged cat that Patrick had given her was gone.

She toed the earth. “Where are you Patrick?” she whispered. “Don’t die on me again.”

A rustle near the rosemary. A cat the color of clay pawed the air. “Meer,” it said. And took flight.


Last Train Home by Sherri Matthews

Settling in for the train journey, Jamie plugged in, metal guitar riffs screaming. An hour in, he turned and saw her.

Dark eyes met his, frozen in disbelief. Turning to her new man, she giggled as they sat down in the seats in front of Jamie.

“That’s Jamie sitting behind us!” They swapped tongues.

Jamie exploded out of his seat, leaping off at the next stop. He caught a glimpse of her staring blankly out of the train window, chewing her nails, looking ugly. Jamie turned away and kept walking. He smiled then. Poor bastard, it’ll be him next.


March 16, 2016 prompt: In 99 words (no more, no less) write about the idea of “just one.” If all it takes is just one, what is the story? Explore what comes to mind and go where the prompt takes you. Bonus challenge: eat cake while you write, or include cake in your flash.

Respond by March 22, 2016 to be included in the weekly compilation. Rules are here. All writers are welcome!

Thank you to all who come here and add to the literature of our times, joining together to write in fellowship.


Just One to Speak the Truth by Charli Mills

Sarah handed Leroy a cup of cold coffee and the carrot cake his wife had fixed earlier. Five days now since Cobb was gunned down at Rock Creek. She could still smell blood. Hickok, Doc Brink and Nancy Jane’s lover were under arrest for murder in Beatrice.

“Did you find the teamster?”

“Yes.” Leroy downed the coffee and set aside the plate.

“He’ll testify?”

Leroy growled. “No. Not one man will speak well of Cobb.”

“Mary’s got to let Roe testify.”

“She won’t. She’s scared.”

“Cobb wasn’t armed. I’ll testify. You need just one witness…”

“…who isn’t a woman.”



  1. TanGental says:

    Batter me down with a feather. What a treat! My just One is Anne. I followed her, big eyed with wonder. That’s my first ever flash you hold there. Am I pleased it contains a dog crapping at its centre? I’m not surprised. And Milton! The genesis of my whole series, right there in week one. As for the others I recall Irene’s scary wheelbarrow. And Larry. Godammit, I was jealous of Larrys craft back then. It’s ok, Larry I’m having counselling and the meds work most of the time. But what I realise most is the effort you’ve put in here, Charli. So a big HUZZAH to you, multiple hugs and hats in the air, people. Thank you so very very much. I’m off to source cake. I’ll need to mainline icing for this promot.

    • Annecdotist says:

      Geoff, I’m honoured to have been your trigger but I’m sure you’d have found your way here by whatever path – you’re fizzing with ideas so much nothing could get in the way of your keyboard! And your version of when Harry Met Sally is still one of my favourites here.

    • Charli Mills says:

      Oh, wow! The seed of Milton, right there! I didn’t realize that was your first ever flash. Ha, ha! Of course it had to feature a dog doing business. It was very nostalgic to look back, not realizing we already achieved nostalgia! Following Anne or your own fizz, I’m so grateful you made your way here. Go mainline icing and source cake!

    • Holy cow. All this time I’ve just been trying to keep up with Geoff!

      • Charli Mills says:

        Hee, hee…and I’ve spent this time marveling at the abilities you both have and making sure to write Le Pard (not LePard) and LaForge (not La Forge)! You are like counterparts. 🙂

  2. ellenbest24 says:

    Hello *waves* i like your just one, a witness. Now I think I will have a try at this myself. See you later have a good day. 😇

  3. Annecdotist says:

    Amazing post, Charli, and a great reminder of what YOU started. Lovely to have another read of our firsts. I’m indebted to Norah for bringing me to the ranch: she’s not only a fabulous connector but her openness to new challenges is so inspiring. I really didn’t think I could tell a story in only 99 words, but now I’m addicted. Let’s all help ourselves to a generous slice of cake!

    • Charli Mills says:

      I didn’t know where all the creative, deep thinking writing writers were so I built a ranch and so glad you all found the watering hole here! Yes, Norah needs silver spurs of something as recognition for her growth-mindset she applied here. Cheers to a generous slice!

    • Norah says:

      You and Charli are both very kind, Anne. I am honoured to have my stories included in compilations alongside those by such wonderful writers as yourselves and other Rough Writers. I still very much feel I’m just the kid on the block, but then I do admit to being a six-year old at heart.

      • Charli Mills says:

        Somehow I suspect this ranch would be less vibrant if it didn’t have the diversity of experiences, comfort level and mastery of fiction. On top of the other diversities,those elements are important to keeping us all learning and mentoring one another. I’m glad you can be the six-year old at heart catalyst!

      • Norah says:

        Thanks, Charli. As always, you are very kind. 🙂

  4. Rachel says:

    Wow! Happy birthday! That’s a great accomplishment. Congrats. 🙂

  5. Better late than never! You’ve had some great stories since the start 🙂

  6. I just read your story, Charli and instead of “Did you find the teamster?” I read “Did you find the hamster?”
    There must be a story in there somewhere.

  7. wildchild47 says:

    Congrats to you Charli – and to the “ones” who showed up, back in the day …. and from there, as it happens, it all snowballs into something so wonderful. This is really quite the remarkable ranch …. inspired and inspiring, encouraging and hopeful – and in a world where there is far too little hope that is offered … well, this is the beauty that runs like a wild stream through the ranch’s grounds. The diversity, the sharing of experiences, the incredible contributions from people all over the world – the encouragement … a true place of exceptional beauty.

    thank you – Charli – and to everyone who makes stopping by, whether to read or play along, a wonderful experience 🙂

    • jeanne229 says:

      Very well put! “…the beauty that runs like a wild stream through the ranch’s grounds” … so apt for Carrot Ranch!

    • julespaige says:

      Thank you my Wild Friend for introducing me to the Ranch… I found my way here through one of your long ago posts. 🙂

    • Charli Mills says:

      That’s so beautiful and feels like the place we need and it’s the place we create together. Like Jeanne, I love the wild stream analogy. And everyone here contributes to the water quality. 😉 Thank you!

      • wildchild47 says:

        well thank you – for if it wasn’t for your courage …. and willingness to take a chance, and to dive in, with the encouragement of so many wonderful people …. then this little corner of the world would certainly be arid.

        So celebrations to the original rough writers … the new wranglers … and the friends who stop in from time to time, to drink from the stream and sow some wild flowers 😀

      • Charli Mills says:

        Cheers to all that!!!❤

  8. […] Carrot Ranch Communications: March 16 2016 Flash Fiction Challenge […]

  9. denmaniacs4 says:

    Even as a late comer, it’s a pleasure to tag along, Charli. Thanks for the opportunity.


    Once the dust from the passing stagecoach had settled, and our horses were rested, Aggie and I continued on.

    “You have met this man before, this Brace Caldwell?” she asked.

    “That I have,” I answered.

    Yes, I told her, just that one time. The Massacre at Soda Springs five years earlier. Caldwell and his rabid gang of Pistoliers had raided my tiny town, burned it to the ground. A dozen dead. I’d had my shot and failed.

    “He’s riding alone these days, Aggie. But still slaughtering.”

    “Does he know you’re coming, Mr. Dodds?”

    “I expect he’s always known, Aggie.”

    • Charli Mills says:

      Early or late, the fiddle still plays the dance here! Thanks for finding the ranch!

    • Charli Mills says:

      The tension builds in this one, Bill and I love that you used “Pistoliers.” Not a well-known term. Hickok was reputed to be the King of the Pistoliers. Makes me think why we venerate men like that, like Caldwell. Just think where this story might be in 2 years! 🙂

  10. Lisa Reiter says:

    Anne Goodwin was the person who suggested I have a go at the prompt in the April of 2014 to “write a biography for a character, alter-ego or you.” I can’t trace back to the tweet but the lure went something along the lines of “One for you Lisa? A memoir prompt?” And I did quickly imagine a character who was a synthesis of several grumpy old men I know!
    The next few prompts were agony to someone who didn’t know they could ‘do creative’ but persisting has been valuable in so many many ways – not least of all having the company of the rest of you 😀
    As for that Norah.. She is one hell of a connector and I do love her 💜

    Great post Charli. Love you and the Ranch too but it’s a bit disconcerting to read “Carrot Ranch is imaginary” – Whaaaaat?! No! It’s surely some place in Idaho I may well visit before my time is up! Keep up the good work 😘

    • Charli Mills says:

      I had no idea it was “memoir” prompt that lured you in and thanks to Anne and Norah (the Energizer Bunny of connections)! You mentioned several things on your recent blog post, A Whiff of Cheese, that had me nodding my head as to what attracts me to another’s blog. I wanted meaningful connections and that intention has blossomed beyond expectations. Thank you for being part of the ranch garden! And don’t worry! I have a wonderful place in North Idaho with a guest room for writers and I can take you to some real working ranches in my dusty old ranch truck. I hope you do visit one day and maybe, I’ll get a few writing retreats going! 😀

    • Annecdotist says:

      Moi? I must’ve wanted moral support as I think that was my first time too!

  11. […] March 16: Flash Fiction Challenge March 16, 2016 prompt: In 99 words (no more, no less) write about the idea of “just one.” If all it takes is just one, what is the story? Explore what comes to mind and go where the prompt takes you. Bonus challenge: eat cake while you write, or include cake in your flash. […]

  12. jeanne229 says:

    And now I am trying to remember how I found you. I think it was through Lisa Reiter and the Bite Size Memoir. Looks like our paths to Carrot Ranch were varied, but like all the Rough Writers, so glad the trail led me there…here! Wonderful way to pay tribute to the 99th challenge. I’ve stopped this morning to read every one of these firsts and savor the cake. And I’m still smiling over your “Virgil Kane” flash. That damn song will no doubt ring in my head all day now.

    • Charli Mills says:

      I think Lisa was my “just one” for the memoirist faction here, which is a wonderful layer. Paula has good company among you, but she was my “just one” family member who is so supportive I think she’d have shown up no matter what she writes! Ha, ha! That damn song was what got me to thinking about the story in my family tree! 😀 I’m so glad you found your way here!

  13. julespaige says:


    I found a prompt on another post, ‘one’ lure. I wasn’t ‘one’
    much for restrictions though. I’d done other one hundred or
    less word ventures; wasn’t all that fond of word counts. I do
    like short form poetry – that’s a piece of cake. So what’s ‘one’
    more challenge with one less word?

    I traded out a few other prompts for the consistency of the
    Rough Writers – A poet adding flash fiction with a bit of BoTs,
    ‘Based on (a) True Story’ stirred in the batter. Those I’ve met
    are the icing on my cake. Thank you my friends!


    37th consecutive piece for CR

    Bonus Karma? (#38)

    All it would have taken was one word of kindness… But they,
    each in their own individual way had given her nothing. This
    wasn’t like being a child and getting a cake on your birthday.

    The gift that was given had a name, maybe a few; resolve,
    independence, courage. She would make her way without
    any of them. And one by one, through death, or disease or
    just plain ignorance she would let them go.

    There was and could continue to be pain when memories
    reared ugly heads. But as they faded, the nightmares would
    change into pleasant dreams.


    See Post link here:
    Salute! And Bonus Karma?

  14. susanzutautas says:

    Wow over 2 years now. It was a joy to re-read all the firsts and I’m so happy to be part of this group. It’s amazing how fast we’ve grown. Thanks so much Charli for starting this Rough Writers Flash Fiction challenge.

    Here is mine for this week.

    • wildchild47 says:

      I’ve read your piece and commented on your site … and I have to say, what strength, courage, hope and beauty you offer to the world. 🙂

    • Charli Mills says:

      I was so touched when you showed up to give me a nudge of encouragement in my literary pursuits that first prompt, and then so delighted when you stayed. Thank you, Susan!

  15. […] a label before getting down to the substance of who or what I am. This week  Charli has posted her 99th prompt for another 99 words out of us so I thought it apt that I give myself 99 kicks up the backside and […]

  16. Pat Cummings says:

    Cake, books, and 99 words—I believe I made the bonus this week! Stepping Up is at

  17. […] Charli Mills’ writing prompt—a 99 word story about ‘just […]

  18. susanzutautas says:

    I wrote a second piece this week and here’s the link. Enjoyed this prompt.

  19. Elliott says:

    03/17/16 Flash Fiction challenge (Just One)

    I have just started to seek out places where my writing might fit. I enjoy short pieces of work and flash fiction has always seemed more appealing than anything else.

    And one day I will tell all those interested that my journey into sharing started right here on your ranch Charli.

    If anyone has recommendations of other sites and places where I can share and trade and experience a similar exchange of writing would be greatly appreciated. Thanks to everyone who reads my work and offers comments suggestions, etc..

    I have enjoyed reading all the flashes from my first week here and look forward to many more.

    Ok.. Now for the good stuff!


    Debut by Elliott Lyngreen

    SEBASTIAN got sincere guys screaming In Circles, Sunny Day Real Estate’s

    surge. The Cover inspires, generations converge in Subcity living room, on

    cardboard across the floor. So so much always about to emerge; and he’s got

    just the one; Coyote Pups’ debut single. Switches, discerning chords

    anthem-like zoom faces, sneaking embraces so sweet. It’s been baking

    subliminally, soundmasking radio-play, rising like a scent in air waves; the

    distinct familiarity reinforces hearts. Pups yowl, twist in pranging plight. The

    true intricate shape of fiction — quiescent ignited lights – overlaps Sebastian,

    tingles lucid, sensations dribble the opening instrumental embarking to the


    • Charli Mills says:

      Wow, that’s great to know that this begins your journey! Well, there’s fertile ground for short structures beyond the ranch among the Rough Writers & Friends. Sarah Brentyn has a new twitter prompt; Roger Shipp has a weekly Flash Fiction for Purposeful Practitioners (and he participates in others so follow his blog); Irene Waters has a Times Past challenge (and she participates in others); Sacha Black has a weekly Writespiration; Geoff Le Pard participates in other challenges. Get connected by following the blogs of those who write here and you’ll find a great web of writers and flash/short fiction prompts and challenges. Great flash that expresses a vibe of getting lost in the music.

  20. […] For: March 16: Flash Fiction Challenge […]

  21. Oliana says:

    I’m so pleased I discovered you with julespaige. I always admired her shorts and I do enjoy writing short poetry and espcially haiku. I am even revising old flash fictions or haibun (narrative with haiku) to total 99 words. Your followers are so talented and it is the diversity and culture that adds to the richness. I’ve not published yet but am toying with compiling shorts and haiku under a theme…someday when I get my act together.

    Now I even try to limit my flash fictions on other prompts to 99 words…it is a good discipline especially since I tend to be too wordy (smiles) My very first contribution here was fairly recent, just last December.

    The Big Commotion

    The first refugees arrived at Trudeau Airport. A Red Cross official greets a man standing, looking overwhelmed. “Bienvenue au Canada”. His moist eyes look at her, “This is the land of Freedom, non?”

    Citizens offered to help; there was such a huge response that many volunteers had to be turned away. The media could not get enough stories to share. It’s a perfect time to show acts of kindness.

    Nearby, at Tim Horton’s, two older women look out at the commotion.

    “I thought you said you were volunteering?”

    “Tantôt, when all the hype dies down, je vais être prêt.”*

    (c) Oliana Kim 2015/12/15

    *Translation: “Later, when the hype dies down, I’ll be ready.”

    • Charli Mills says:

      I really like that idea of combining shorts and haiku. Evidently shorter works (books) are popular with small presses right now, something I heard over the weekend at the event I was hosting in Missoula, Yes, lots of talent and diversity here! Thank you for sharing yours (love the French additions, too)! I really liked your first one and hope to read more (perhaps in your book one day)!

      • Oliana says:

        Who knows eh? I think I will start with a book of shorts with some of my photos and see how that goes. I just finished reading a book written by a blogger..actually I read a lot of the books here and I am seeing some things in this last one of what I fear…I fear it will be too long and I will be bored as well as the reader. So your prompts are helping me to put as much as possible in a paragraph.

      • Charli Mills says:

        One of the challenges in putting together an anthology is how to make it fresh and exciting, rather than a gathering of “all” posts or shorts. I have another blog where I just right about nature, birds and what it makes me think of. I’ve often wondered what I’d do with that material. I’m exploring how to fictionalize pieces into sometime new and unexpected. If you look at your material as raw, you can cook up much with it!

  22. Norah says:

    Wow, Charli. Not only 2 years but 99 99-word flashes. You know, I had thought of compiling my 99 flashes into an anthology too, but the Carrot Ranch Rough Writers’ anthology is a much better idea. Thank you for your generous words and linking to my blog. I have very much enjoyed the camaraderie here at the ranch. It is such a wonderful opportunity and the friendships made through meeting at the Ranch are very special. I am struggling with time at the moment and thought I’d have to let this one go, but since it’s in honour of the firsts, how could I? I’ll have to make the time. How great to read so many firsts (including my own humble attempt) in this post. And the quotes “thoughts” you have included, are all so apt. You have done an amazing job, Charli: attracting writers and maintaining the connections. I don’t know how you find the time (and the imagination) to post and compile, and now the Roundup every week. You are the one. You are amazing holding it all together. Congratulations and sincere thanks. Have another piece of cake. You deserve it. 🙂

    • Charli Mills says:

      Thank you, Norah! I had a Big Dipper ice cream today as I’m still in Missoula and that will count as a second piece of cake! Hopefully, we are arranging a unique anthology that still allows individual writers to still do their own, if they want to. You have much treasure in your flash that can be used to explain education or show the story of Marnie as one who overcomes with education (and a teacher who cared and her becoming a teacher, too). That would work as a story or a collection. But I understand your time limit with your education project. Please keep in mind the original intention was to create something that could be a “quick” creative break so don’t feel you need to create a blog post around it. I hope you find a place that keeps you connected but honors your work at hand too! You have been glue here. 🙂

      • Norah says:

        Thank you, Charli. Hopefully I will get to those more creative pursuits at some stage. My anthology won’t make the light of day, but I’d like to work on the Marnie story maybe sometime in the future. However writing it would require a lot of research for the backstory too. I know that I could write and post just the flash, but as I want to keep the focus of my blog on education, I try to embed them in a post. Perhaps i should have started (still could) a flash fiction blog. Maybe one day.
        Thanks for your kind words. I enjoy sticking around for a sticky-beak. 🙂

  23. Charli,

    Thanks for creating — and sustaining — such a fun and challenging place for all of us to connect and learn.

    Here’s my “bonus-worthy” contribution for this week:

  24. […] a Wednesday 99 word flash “just one” is the prompt Thank you Charlie. Please press HERE to participate or read […]

  25. Drew Sheldon says:

    I’ve only recently started dabbling in flash fiction to try and help me through some writer’s block. This is my first time taking the Carrot Ranch challenge. Thanks for the opportunity.

    • Charli Mills says:

      Welcome to the ranch, Drew! There’s interesting studies that show how constraints focus the mind on problem-solving and the 99-words is meant to prompt that creative spark I hope this helps! Thanks for joining in!

  26. Annecdotist says:

    Done it! With cake! And while there are plenty of hints at the negative, especially in the review of the novel it comes with, mine’s unusually upbeat in tone:

    • Charli Mills says:

      And with cake! Fabulous! That’s too funny, Anne: “unusually upbeat.” No matter, I always find your fiction deep and thought-provoking. I’ve gained much insight from your writing and reviews. Thank you!

  27. […] Following on from Charli’s prompt. […]

  28. rogershipp says:

    She Was the One

    Across the dance floor, I saw her.

    The sparkle of her smile pulsated with the gyro lights that sent illuminating rainbows streaming across the gym.

    Dancing… That was not me. Being light on my feet, was not my gifting.

    When I did the speed drills with the tires, our football coach made the team turn their backs. Their giggles as I stumbled through… but that was better than running extra laps for inciting pandemonium in practices.

    No Pain…No Gain… Our team motto t-shirt was under my dress shirt. For good luck, I guess.

    I stepped forward.

    Hesitantly, she stood.

  29. […] for The Carrot Ranch where the prompt is “just one” and we are to write a story 99 words, no more, no […]

  30. […] Carrot Ranch Communications March 16 prompt: In 99 words (no more, no less) write about the idea of “just one.” […]

    • Charli Mills says:

      Thank you for sharing Jane’s story at the ranch. I’ve become attached to this character and her unfolding struggle. One day, I hope Jane gets her cake.

  31. A. E. Robson says:

    Deep inside, we all would love to have our cake and eat it too. Often as not, though, we are faced with disappointment that preludes the icing part.

    Just One
    By Ann Edall-Robson

    Delicate squares of cake rest on an old fashioned platter. The ornate, antique carafe holds the perfectly steeped tea. An elegant china cup and saucer set, accompanied by a silver spoon, slices of lemon and a dainty pot of honey, elegantly adorn the silver tray. A starched linen napkin, crisp and folded, placed next to a sprig of fresh lavender. Preparations duplicated down to the last detail from the scene in the book.

    The query letters have gone out. Refusals come back. How could publishers ignore such elegance? Just one acceptance letter would launch the scene to the world.

    • Charli Mills says:

      Yes, we do want both! The writer waiting for acceptance is true of any person hopeful for an outcome that doesn’t unfold. We enjoy the baking, but would love to have the cake celebrated! Your flash expresses the feeling well. Thanks for sharing your stories here, Ann!

  32. Pete says:

    Wow Charli, how inspiring. What a great community this is and I’m proud to be a part of it! Here’s mine, sorry, no big wheels this time!

    Dumb Old Dale

    We needed just one first down to ice the game. Then Dale would be okay. He wouldn’t get to stomping and cursing, calling the coaches idiots until he was red-faced and miserable.

    Mom hated football. Maybe because Dale’s moods hinged on those games. Mine too. A first down and he’d hoist me with gritty fingernails under my arm pits, twirling me until I was spit-up dizzy. He’d whistle through dinner, chewing loudly while tapping the table and nearly bearable to be around.

    The quarterback silenced the crowd. Dale snorted, then sipped his beer.

    We needed just one first down.

    • Charli Mills says:

      With big wheels and more, you help make this community go round! Thanks, Pete! What an intense flash. It leaves me hanging in tension, hoping that first down comes. So awful that this game plays out in real life. You write it well.

  33. Wow. This is so weird. My very first flash. (Which I kind of like…with a little polishing, it could be good.) I didn’t know I was one of the earliest writers.

    And it’s unbelievable that, as I read those names, I see friends. And to think I met them here at the ranch. I don’t even remember how I found this place. Did I stumble upon it? How? And I’m not sure I knew anyone here. I do remember feeling very insecure and not wanting to post. So glad I did. 💗

  34. ruchira says:

    Jeez! Time sure flew by.
    I am thankful to Susan for introducing me to your flash fiction and little did I know that my diversion would not only make me pause and repair my writing skills, but also I will be able to be a part of an awesome community!

    My take:

    • Charli Mills says:

      I’m so glad you followed Susan here, Ruchira! And you’ve found the elixir of flash fiction both in craft and community. Thank you!

  35. A celebration! I’m so glad to participate.

    This is where the prompt took me. I hope you’ll like it.

    First Step
    Written by Kerry E.B. Black

    The journey of a thousand miles begins with the first step, or so my mother told me. I studied my reflection. Skin drooped from once-proud bone structure, creating jowls. Sleep shadowed and puffed eyes squinted. From the scale, a Harshad number blinked, the country code for Mauritius taunted. I pinched my lips into an old woman’s disapproval. “That’s it. I’m done.” The drain gulped the soda I dumped. Into the trash bin I threw cookies, chips, and finally the cake, a delectable chocolate affair. I donned resolution like a mantle and took the first step of my health-seeking journey.

    • Charli Mills says:

      Celebrating all of you who’ve found your way to the ranch! And yes, I like what you wrote. Love the line, “The drain gulped the soda I dumped.” Out with the cake in this one, and that’s a reclamation of sorts!

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

  37. […] is fitting, therefore, that her 99th challenge is to in 99 words (no more, no less) write about the idea of “just one.” If all it takes is just one, … She is the “just one” who, week after week, writes an inspiring post, sets a thought-provoking […]

  38. Norah says:

    Hi Charli,
    Here’s mine contribution: The Power of One Thanks for the challenge.

  39. roweeee says:

    Well done, Charli. I’m dashing off to bed and it’s after midnight. Here’s my contribution:
    xx Rowena

    • Charli Mills says:

      Ah, I recognize that hour! Thank you for joining in and sharing your perspectives on the prompt! This is what enriches the community.

      • roweeee says:

        Thanks, Charli. I was so naughty. Need to know when to stop. I’d finished this a few days ago but needed to do all the admin stuff and the explanation and I was on a roll with the A2Z material. Fortunately, I have drafts written up to I now , which is a relief. Felt quite stressed posting my theme for the reveal when I hadn’t written a word!
        Looking forward to the next prompt!
        xx Rowena

  40. […] years ago Charli Mills started prompting 99 word flash fiction. This week in a homage to the ‘just one’ person […]

  41. […] for Carrot Ranch’s weekly 99-word flash fiction challenge–this week, the topic is “it takes just […]

  42. If it’s not too late, I have an entry. Thanks for the great prompt!

  43. […] Mills opened her March 16th 2016 Flash Fiction Challenge with the following […]

  44. Goodness… I am so late for this party! I brought along some chocolate cake – need I say more?! Charli, congratulations to you for an phenomenal achievement and to the group of writers who make everyone feel so welcomed. Here’s my chocolaty flash:

  45. […] Flash Fiction for Charli at Carrot Ranch. […]


    Here’s my attempt. Warning it is a little gross.

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