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Hurricane Work Before the Rodeo

I just wrote a flash fiction in less than three minutes. And no, that’s not a brag. It could be better. The word choices are unpolished. The idea may not fully translate. I could let it sit, rewrite it a few more times, but I want to make a point.

Flash fiction can be a literary form that’s quick and powerful. Literary art itself can do good in the world. Case in point: Sarah Brentyn of Lemon Shark is using a flash fiction challenge to raise awareness of how to find reputable charities for natural disasters when we feel we want to help. She’s also donating a dollar (up to $50) for every flash fiction others write and link back to her challenge. Check out the rules of the challenge, links to charities, and join her in helping.

So why three minutes? Because I have much to do! Like all writers, I’m busy. I have three live readings tomorrow, negotiations with a book publisher for designing the interior of The Congress of Rough Writers Flash Fiction Anthology, I had to go buy chocolate and update the list of Books by Rough Writers, and prepare for the Rodeo that begins Thursday. I’m also meeting with KEDA again about Carrot Ranch, and a local dance troupe has asked to use my reading voice to MC their show Friday and Saturday.

Not every writer’s week looks like that, but it’s some jumble of book platform, marketing, revision, planning, relationship building, family and work. Oh, yeah, and we all write, too!

Flash fiction helps us break free of the busyness. When I’m frustrated with video equipment, trying to remember I actually need to look fresh and not like a reclusive writer tomorrow, and worried about the insanity of the world in ways only a writer can observe, I need a creative outlet. Flash fiction to the rescue. A three minute free write to a pattern my mind knows (59 words in this flash form) and acceptance that it’s raw and will do is all I need.

One of the recipes I have for Busy Writers is this:Ā  Write the flash fiction in five minutes. Serve quickly.

Take time to support Sarah’s worthy cause. She’s fully demonstrating how literary artists can use their craft to do good.

For All Who Suffer by Charli Mills

Harvey, Irma, Maria.

Names of friends who killed themselves on the rez. They had alcoholic parents, missing teeth. His friends took their pain and left. He took his pain and volunteered to clean up after the hurricanes. It gave his mind healing, his body strength.

He returned sober to Pine Ridge after Puerto Rico and rolled up his sleeves.


My inspiration comes from anther Rough Writer, C. Jai Ferry, who shared this powerful video story with me about an issue of fighting injustice and predatory capitalism on Pine Ridge.

Join us tomorrow (Oct. 3) at at 10 AM, 2 PM, 6 PM (EST) for live readings or on the Rodeo Fest post for updated recordings. Comment on either platform to be included in prize drawings.


  1. That was a well spent three minutes, Charli Mills. You put some hope into two grim situations; the Pine Ridge rez and the Puerto Rico rez. You still know how to braid rawhide. I hope that exercise did indeed help you through this very busy time. Stay in the saddle, Boss. There’s a rodeo coming soon, Hell or High-water.

  2. I’m speechless. Or…wordless? I didn’t even think to ask you to participate since the Rodeo was beginning and I knew you were up to your ears in work for it. I can’t thank you enough for taking time (even if it was only 3 minutes) to write a flash and then the time/energy to put together this post. <3 <3 <3 Thank you.

    • I just needed to to this. I’m so appreciative, Charli. The hurricanes are gone, yes, but there are so many who lost everything and need to rebuild/recover. And, as far as Puerto Rico/Caribbean, there is still dire, immediate need. Thank you for helping spread the word.

      Good luck and have fun tomorrow. šŸ™‚ <3

      • Charli Mills says:

        It’s going to take years to rebuild, maybe generations to recover. I guess that’s why I thought of the Pine Ridge plight. There’s an empowerment to rolling up our sleeves or committing 59 to craft. Such a brilliant idea, Sarah! Thanks!

    • Charli Mills says:

      That’s what I love about communities. We might be busy mowing our own lawns, but never too busy to help our neighbors. <3

  3. Powerful. Thank you for sharing!

  4. Norah says:

    Great post, Charli. Your flash is a brilliant response to Sarah’s prompt, incorporating both devastating situations. It’s easy for a white man to say it’s got nothing to do with racism. It’s difficult to walk in another’s shoes sometimes.
    Wow! Would you like some more task to do this week. I’m sure you’re just not busy enough!!! I’m exhausted without even thinking about it, let alone doing it. What a mammoth task. It’s amazing how everything happens at once, but each seems to bring its own little pocket of energy so I’m sure you’ll be running on high until the end of the month. Well done, Charli. I once said they couldn’t keep a strong girl down. I think we need to tie a rope to your ankle just in case you get carried away. (But not by raccoons!)

    • Charli Mills says:

      I think it’s one of those weeks where the damn breaks loose on all the things prepared but held back, and I’m going with the rush. Yes it does bring it’s own energy, but I’ll be ready to get out and hike and recharge sometime next week. Ha, no ropes or raccoons needed!

      • Norah says:

        It’s good to get carried away in the energy of the flow when it happens. I’ll be keeping on eye on you to see how you recharge. šŸ™‚

  5. julespaige says:

    There are so many good things one body can do… and while I’ve shifted some of my own gears on what I do…
    There is a place on like that people can go to every day and click once and sponsors donate to every cause you click for:
    Start by reading this article:

    Then you can go to:
    Where you can click on each of the categories listed on the top.
    (or I also entered by going to:

    Sometimes just a smile is needed and other times more. Like food and water.
    Our local area radio station sponsored some trucks to Florida filled with water and diapers. I like giving anonymously.

    Be strong as we do in fact help our neighbors!

  6. This is a very tempting treat for me. Dare I try flash fiction ?

    • If not for this, then for one of Charli’s challenges or one of the upcoming Rodeo contests. šŸ™‚ Trust me…it’s fun. (And addictive. Shh…)

    • Charli Mills says:

      Flash, Shareen! The reason it’s addictive is because the constrain (word count) makes our minds go into problem solving and if you do this week after week, your mind picks up the pattern. I use the 99-wrd flash and Sarah and Sacha Black work with the 59-word format. I also think the heart of anything we write or have to say can be said in 9 words. Go for it! Take your own themes from OTV, or the articles tyou want to finish and just write them in 99 or 59 words. You’ll see magic chickens appear on the page!

  7. jeanne229 says:

    Enjoying the rodeo and wonderful flash Charli. I love the way you threaded in the natural disasters with the ongoing man made travesty on Pine Ridge. And powerful to personify Irma, Harvey, and Maria. Heading off to England tonight but hope to get a flash in sometime. ARgghhhh, it would have to fall at exactly the same time as my trip šŸ™‚ But so happy to see it launched!

  8. Your piece of flash fiction is very powerful, Charli. I also participated in this challenge even if I did do it my own way [smile]. I followed in the footsteps of Diana Peach.

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