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Flash Fiction Rodeo Contest #4


By Irene Waters

Welcome to Contest #4 of the Carrot Ranch Flash Fiction Rodeo. This competition is free to enter and carries a cash prize of $25 for first place. Winning submissions will automatically be forwarded to the All-Around Rodeo Winner which carries an additional cash prize of $50. Naturally you can’t have a competition without rules and as each competition leader has devised their own rules I suggest that you read those for this competition prior to submitting your piece. The rules follow the competition topic.


The Topic

As a memoir writer and reader I am very aware that it is the situations in life that have a massive impact on the memoirist, those events which leave scars, whether physical or emotional, that are the chosen part of the life to be relayed. As a flash fiction writer delving into fiction, a genre with which I have not previously attempted, I became aware that we draw from real life to write fiction as well as memoir. The more observant we are as writers the greater our ability to convince our readers of the authenticity of our story. The more we remember from our own life informs our writing. In his book, Misery, Stephen King wrote,

“Writers remember everything…especially the hurts. Strip a writer to the buff, point to the scars, and he’ll tell you the story of each small one. From the big ones you get novels. A little talent is a nice thing to have if you want to be a writer, but the only real requirement is the ability to remember the story of every scar.”

In a double length Carrot Ranch flash, or 2 chapters of 99-words each (198 words total), tell a story that shows a scar. It can be memoir, other forms of creative non-fiction,  any genre of fiction or a BOTS (based on a true story).


The Rules

  1. Submit using the form below.
  2. Length of entry to be 198 words measured on Microsoft Word or Title is not counted in word length. Please be sure of your word count. Entries exceeding the word limits will be disqualified
  3. Flash is considered to be a complete story i.e. has a beginning, a middle and an end. This is a judging criteria.
  4. Entries must be received no later than 11:59 pm EST October 26.
  5. Your entry must be original and in English.
  6. The Judges rulings are final.



CHALLENGE OPTION: If you don’t feel up to entering a contest, please feel free to respond to this in the comments as a prompt challenge. Weekly Flash Fiction Challenges resume November 2.


Judging Criteria

  1. Complete story and structure
  2. Story Length
  3. Relevancy to prompt
  4. Grammar (spelling, tense, punctuation). Allowance will be made for differences in the language styles between countries and for the author to show her own voice.
  5. The Story



Irene Waters blogs at Reflections and Nightmares.

Angie Oakley blogs at Spry and Retiring.

Ellen Stomqvist is an avid reader.

More information about the judges can be seen here: for Angie and Irene.

Contest #4 Leader: Irene Water. For a full line-up of contests, see Events. Next up: 9×11 Twitterflash by  C. Jai Ferry on Thursday, October 19.


Announcement of Winner

Winners will be announced on Irene Waters website and Carrot Ranch website on the November 28, 2017.


About Carrot Ranch

Carrot Ranch is a literary community committed to providing all writers access to literary art regardless of backgrounds, genres, goals and locations. Common ground is found through the writing, reading and discussion of flash fiction. The weekly online flash fiction challenges promote community through process, craft and exploration, and regular participants form a literary group called The Congress of Rough Writers. Their first anthology, Vol. 1 publishes in 2017. Carrot Ranch offers an adult-learning program called Wrangling Words, available to all communities where Rough Writers reside.





  1. […] Source: Flash Fiction Rodeo Contest #4 […]

  2. Awesome, I have my two linked scars so know I must just pull the threads out of my head on submit them.

  3. Charli Mills says:

    Thanks for a great Rodeo Contest, Irene! I wrote fiction, but based it my own big toe that yet holds a scar from my horse stomping my foot because he was impatient to get his snout into a bucket of oats. I also know that the bond of trust between a horse and a human can transcend many negatives. From that came this story.


    Deeper Than Scars by Charli Mills

    “Nothin’ but dog meat.” Daniel McFadden spat a stream of tobacco as he leaned on the corral.

    Shelly knew the piebald gelding wasn’t a looker. At fourteen, it was evident she wouldn’t be either. When the ranch foreman said the hands could take what they wanted from the stock, Gooseberry was the only one not selected.
    “Please, Dad. I’ll take care of him. Brush him every day, clean his hooves.”

    Shelly wanted her own horse. She’d already named him after her favorite pastry, hearing the hands call him a homely piebald.

    He grunted his consent. Gooseberry stomped Shelly’s foot.

    Four years later, Shelly carefully dressed. The thick scar on her big toe was not visible to others. She wiggled it before pulling on her boot sock and smiled, remembering the first time she met Gooseberry in the corral. He stomped her good in his fear of humans. Ugly horses and ranch girls were not met with kindness. But they were kind to each other, bringing out the best of what each had to offer. Hidden gifts; latent talents. No scars today. Today, they’d win the National Snaffle Bit Futurity, demonstrating the beauty of trust between horse and rider.

    • What a wonderful response Charli. So often we base stories on life events, maybe joining one, two or three together and creating characters based on those we know from life that may have had nothing to with the original event.
      I had to look up snaffle bit futurity – it sounds like a thrilling event with the trio of challenges for the reigned cow horse. Sometimes you need the scars to push you to the heights you know can be achieved and that bond that forms between animal and human, and human and human as a result can be deeper because of it. Eat your hat Daniel McFadden, Gooseberry Pie is sure better than dog meat.

      • Charli Mills says:

        I used to dream of winning the Snaffle Bit Futurity but was not allowed to compete because my own father told me my horse was a “dink” meaning no good. I did get to ride one of the Futurity champions, a blood red bay named Tobasco. But I loved my dink and we rode well together. Fiction, even when we think we are making it up, is based in the wealth of what we know.

      • It must have been a thrill to ride Tobasco but I like the sound of riding your dink. Yes we do have a wealth inside us for sure.

      • Charli Mills says:

        Riding Tabasco was like getting to drive a sports car. But it was my dink I loved.

    • Ritu says:

      Great response Charli!

    • denmaniacs4 says:

      Loved the story, Charli. And I must say the “snaffle bit” has a flash fiction ring to it, as if every 99 word ride is a snaffle bite of life.

  4. Lovely response, Charli

  5. […] Source: Flash Fiction Rodeo Contest #4 […]

  6. Ritu says:

    Just submitted my own BOTS version!

  7. Juliet Nubel says:

    Good morning Irene and Charli,
    I’ve just sent in my submission which I’ve been thinking about for days. I hope you enjoy it. I am really surprising myself with these entries. I never thought I was a fiction writer let alone a flash fiction writer. Maybe never even a writer! But I am loving these. Thanks for the opportunity to wear another hat.
    Have a lovely day.

  8. Reblogged this on ShiftnShake.

  9. julespaige says:


    I agree with Mr. King. Though not all scars have to cut deeply. Some scars can be as gentle and soft as a slight chilling breeze or a very deep single strange look of pure nasty from someone we don’t even know.

    Much to think about here. So I may just take some time before submitting a challenge as well as a contest piece.

    ~Thanks Jules

    • Couldn’t agree more Jules. Scars can be many things. Some scars can be trophies to be worn proudly for all to see, others we try to hide, all shape and give us stories. Think as long as you like, well almost as long, there is plenty of time.

      • julespaige says:

        OK… My grandson played quietly before going I had to take him to school this morning.

        I’ve got two pieces waiting in the wings. One for the Challenge section and the other as an entry. They just need titles.

        When you get an idea or two it is best to pen them before too much time passes and (with getting older more frequently) you forget 🙂

    • Charli Mills says:

      Yes, we can have many scars.

  10. julespaige says:

    Cicatrix Trio
    (198) Challenge

    One you can’t see it if you don’t look. I’ve a thin scar on my
    chinny chin chin.That’s from trying to roller skate and hang
    onto apartment walls – then falling forward with a big bang!
    Luckily I didn’t break my jaw bone.

    Another scar also a head wound… maybe a tiny bit visible
    when I get some sun on my face, is also from stupidity. By
    diving in the shallow end of a pool while playing ‘Marco Polo’.
    And it kind of looks just a bit like Harry Potter’s. Though truth
    be told Ms. Rowling… I had it first!

    At least one scar that I have isn’t on my face. It’s sort of
    under one of on the inner side of one of my elbows. It was
    when I let a big dog take me for a walk. Hey when you are
    a kid you’d like to believe you are stronger than you look!
    The neighbor’s dog gave chase to something and dragged
    me and my arm about a half a concrete city block. That one
    didn’t need stitches.

    Those are the visible ones… But we’ve all got scars that
    will never see the light of day.


    Cic·a·trix : ˈsikəˌtriks/ noun 1. the scar of a healed wound. A )a
    scar on the bark of a tree. B) BOTANY C) a mark on a stem left
    after a leaf or other part has become detached. OK I’m not a tree,
    but I think cicatrix is a cool new word. And often people can be
    described as having characteristics of trees; weepy like Willows,
    or as strong as an Oak.

  11. Charli, I’ve enjoyed participating in the rodeo but I’m concerned about the upcoming 11 x 9 event. I don’t have a Twitter account. Am I still allowed to participate?

    • julespaige says:

      Personally, if you can follow the directions for the challenge… I suppose it is a possibility to still participate. But I am not on Facebook, Snapchat nor do I tweet. And do not plan on opening said accounts just to do so. The simple fact is not everyone will participate in all events.

      (Though I have no clue as to what the 11×9 event is…) I haven’t looked that far ahead. Charli’s rodeo is about writing a book… Not sure if I’ve got enough in me to do that. 😉

      Good luck to those who can. 🙂

    • I don’t know the answer to this one either. I do have a twitter account but I rarely visit and it feels like a foreign country to me when I do. I’m hoping the challenge might make it a bit clearer to me. As Jules said – if you can follow the directions…. Charli might have better answers for you. I received your entry. Thanks. Look forward to reading it when all are in.

    • Charli Mills says:

      Good question! I’m glad you are participating, and the purpose of the Ranch is to make literary art more accessible. The wide variety of contests is to expose writers to different literary forms, and the 9×11 Twitterflash is meant to highlight the way Twitter has evolved as a literary writing tool.

      Thus, the challenge of Twitterflash is to use the 140 character limit to craft a story one Tweet (or sentence) at a time. 11 sentences of 9 words = a 99-word flash fiction. The additional constraint is the character limit and the use of hashtags. Definitely Twitter inspired and driven.

      However, in keeping with accessibility, I’m building a form to mimic the TwitterFlash so that those who don’t have a handle can still participate. For those who do have a handle, but aren’t on Twitter often, I’d encourage them to use this contest as a way to experience how literary artists are using Twitter. This challenge will judge each line as a stand alone and the cohesiveness of the overall flash.

      Long answer — yes! You can still participate by following the form in the Rodeo #5 post.

      • julespaige says:

        Excellent! I like playing with new short forms.
        I hope we get some extra examples too.

        If I am reading this right does the # and your handle or name count as part of the 140 characters…. just something to clarify.

        Thanks again!

      • Oh, what the heck. I’ve written one for the challenge tomorrow and will post it as an example. Perhaps not a good example, but an example.

    • I’ll let the leaders of the Ranch answer this (while I put my two cents in). 🙂 Twitterature (writing on Twitter) is awesome.

      I’d say, as long as it’s okay with the boss(es), you could simply write 11 complete sentences each consisting of 9 words. That will give you the 99 words but in the format you’d use on Twitter for this contest.

      P.S. The hashtag does count against the 140 characters but, with 9 words in the tweet (or the sentence, if not on Twitter), that won’t be an issue.

      • julespaige says:


        Twitterature – cute. Kind of like three line fiction stories.

        So you don’t have to use all the 140 characters as long as you have 9 words in 11 sentences?

        (I think I’ve got a ‘handle’ on this now…)

        Thanks, Jules

      • I’m not entirely sure.

        Mine came out to be 11 lines with 9 words in each. I have Twitter so I’ll tweet 11 tweets with 9 words in each but you can probably just write 11 lines with 9 words. ? We should ask the boss. 😉

        Twitterature is real. Wild, eh? Check this post out. (Sorry to link-drop, Charli.)

      • Thanks Sarah for the link. I am a bit of a dinosaur when it comes to twitter and twitterature (love that word). Am going to give it a shot and may learn something.

      • Charli Mills says:

        For the contest, the judges decided to make Twitter a requirement because of how they have set up their process to follow and judge it. They also felt that the “social” aspect of Twitter is important.

        You can see examples by going to twitter and searching the dual hashtags of #FFRODEO and #twitterflash. Sarah has given you a good example. 9 words does not take up much of the character count.

        If you want to do a challenge in the comments it’s a 99-word story crafted in 11 sentences f 9 words each. But it really is a different process doing each sentence as a Tweet. It makes you think more about that sentence standing out on its own.

        Thanks for your help, Sarah!

    • Charli Mills says:

      OKay! Katimac, Irene and Jules, we were unable to replicate what the Twitterflash does on Twitter by using a form. I’m completely new to literary forms on Twitter but they are a big deal, and I’m excited to learn.

      If Twitter is not a platform you want to do you can take the challenge and respond in the comments. We want to make is accessible to all writers, but also manageable for the judges.

      You could tweet for ten days and then leave it be!

  12. Pete says:


    Dress Rehearsal

    Dad and I spent the afternoon sorting out Mom’s closet. I climbed into a jungle of dresses and blouses and coats and sweaters. We joked some, to fill the silence, about how women had so much stuff. I hung Mom’s sheer scarves over the open window and Dad watched them dance in the breeze to a song in his head. Every piece had a place in his memory. The turquoise number she wore to a wedding, the yellow one from a banquet dinner at in Ocean City Maryland ten years ago. Her favorite church dress, a satin fundraiser getup. Funeral attire, like the one she’d worn yesterday in her coffin. The one she was wearing now, I guess.

    Like inventory, Dad knew every dress and every moment they’d had. He told me Mom wore the scarves to hide a small scar on her neck. I didn’t remember a scar. Dad nodded, said her father burned her with an iron when she was little. Dad said he used to kiss the scar when she’d let him. I looked to the scarves, Mom’s dresses heavy on my arm. Dad got to his feet, said he had to check on dinner.

  13. […] Source: Flash Fiction Rodeo Contest #4 […]

  14. denmaniacs4 says:

    On a broader note, I have been enjoying each and every Rodeo Contest in this series. Really a brilliant idea and I hope thousands participate…and if they do, my condolences to the judges…

    • I agree. The diversity of the contests is large and the number of entrants show their skills in fields they know well and those that are new to them. Daunting for the judges but what a joy lies in store for us also. I’m looking forward to reading the submissions for this challenge.

    • Charli Mills says:

      Thanks, Bill! I’m enjoying how it’s all unfolding and the diversity of contests. Our judges have some work to do! But as Irene says, it’s also a joy.

  15. I am LOVING this one. I’m a sucker for scars (physical and emotional). I’ll be back… 😉 Good luck, all!

  16. OHHHH… this looks amazing. Today was crazy but tomorrow is another day! 😀

  17. Norah says:

    Reblogged this on Norah Colvin and commented:
    Have you got any scars you wish to share? Maybe others you’d rather hide?
    Irene Waters has thrown down the challenge for the fourth of the contests in the Carrot Ranch Flash Fiction Rodeo. #FFRODEO
    We’re halfway through the challenges. Can you believe that!
    I’m having a difficult time judging all the wonderful entries for my contest. Thank you to all who entered.
    Have you entered any of the contests yet? There’s a $25 prize for the winner of each one!

  18. Norah says:

    Great prompt, Irene. I’ll have a think about scars.
    Charli, what a great diversity in prompts. There’s something for everyone, and lots of new things to try. It’s a great way to expand our comfort zones. Thanks for this wonderful opportunity.

  19. Thanks Norah. You have written some great scar stories in the past with your little girl (memory loss moment for her name). I agree the diversity in competitions allows everyone to enter in and out of their comfort zone.

    At 53 years old my mother was diagnosed with a malignant brain tumour.
    I moved out of the flat I had shared with Dave, the man I loved, and went back home to help my dad look after my now paralysed mom. Dave was also devastated by my mom’s illness and death 5 months later but by this time he had decided that he wanted move on with his life and soon had a new girlfriend.
    I was now 30 and alone. My father had gone to live overseas with his own elderly mother and, unfortunately, a rift between my older sister and I widened and I saw little of her.
    The friends Dave and I had shared had been his friends first and they remained so. I was not invited to socialise with them and they refused all my invitations.
    Depression hit me big time. My self-confidence and self-esteem evaporated and I withdrew into myself, teaching History at high school and returning home to my two cats every afternoon. Two years later the temporary post I held at school ended and I was unemployed as well.
    This period of intense loneliness and depression has scarred me permanently.

    • Kim this was a life story that didn’t warrant the like I gave it, as it was one episode of sadness followed by another and a huge burden to bear. It is so hard watching one you love succumbing to tumours and it must have been heart wrenching seeing your Mum paralysed. How nice though that you were able to look after her and I’m sure you brought her great comfort and lots of love in her final days.
      To then have your Father leave the country, your boyfriend go his own way and rifts appearing with other family members I am not at all surprised you suffered from depression. I can see you would have many scars as a result I hope they are becoming cicatrix (as Jules used earlier for a scar now healed). With the number of scars you have I’d say you must have a novel or two in you. To get this all in the required 198 words and elicit such an emotional response in this reader – you have packed a punch with your writing.

      • Hello Irene. Thank you for your lovely comments. Unfortunately the trauma caused by my mom’s illness and death and all the other upsetting things that happened to me shortly after, has resulted in my suffering from PTSD and a resultant rushed and failed marriage and an inability on my part to hold down a job. I am an English and History teacher but was unable to cope with the awful behaviour of, unfortunately, the majority of children I taught. I became very ill with an overactive thyroid, caused by stress, and eventually gave up teaching in 2008. Writing keeps me sane. Kim

      • I’m glad writing keeps you sane Kim. You’ve had a lot to deal with and all coming on top of each other. I have said for years I am so glad I’m not a teacher – because of the behaviour of the children. There is seemingly little discipline given at home and schools are now hogtied and cannot administer it either. Makes it very hard on teachers. Keep writing. Cheers Irene

    • julespaige says:

      It is amazing how our life tragedies sometimes want to take over. But we can persist as we slowly peel back their clawing grip to heal and move on. Just knowing that we are not alone in how we have at one time felt makes us bond. And that strength helps to heal us. We do not have to forget, but we can be made stronger and move forward with grace and confidence.

      Best to you and all of us as both our visual and invisible scars vanish as we put them on for display.

      Hugs, Jules

    • Liz H says:

      Yeah, “like” does not express it. I’m with you, have been in similar shakes, and promise that with self care and love, those scars will become a thing of beauty.

    • Charli Mills says:

      The burden of such isolation and loneliness can leave so many scars upon scars. What a devastating time in your life. Thank you for sharing your emotional scars and I hope writing about it gives some healing and introspection.

    • Have to agree with the others – “like” is hardly the right response here. Thanks for sharing your story.

  21. Reblogged this on judyedwinamartin.

  22. An emotional one for me this week BOTS 🙂

  23. I am done and entered. I wonder what you will think of it.

  24. I’ve entered and hope you will enjoy the continuing saga of The Heart Stone Chronicles… <3

  25. Great to see your memoir flash contest Irene. I will enter my ‘scars’, can’t miss this one <3

  26. Reblogged this on A View From My Summerhouse and commented:
    Flash Fiction Rodeo Contest #4 ‘Scars’ is live now! Memoir writer Irene Water’s asks us to write a double length Carrot Ranch flash, or 2 chapters of 99-words each (198 words total), tell a story that shows a scar. It can be memoir, other forms of creative non-fiction, any genre of fiction or a BOTS (based on a true story). Deadline 11:59 pm EST October 26. Read on for all details and submission guidelines, and as always, good luck one and all!

  27. Liz H says:

    Question! (Please?):

    MSWord counts symbols to break sections as a word (ex: “**”). But it that symbol doesn’t seem like a word to me, and this issue (may have) occurred in earlier submissions in this Rodeo.

    So, if I use a “**” or a “***” or (a “*” as was used and not counted in the septolet examples), am I adding a word? And is the rule the same across the different challenges?

    I only ask because I’m confused. I can fix what I understand. Thanks!! 🙂

    • Hi Liz, I will not count ** as a word and as you have alerted me to it if your entry comes up over I will total the two sections separately and add together. Each competition has its own leader who has devised their own set of rules so you possibly need to check with them.
      Thanks for alerting me.

    • Charli Mills says:

      That’s a good alert! Jules discovered that too (she requested * be used to show where the septolet parted) and we did not count it even though the counters did!

  28. floridaborne says:

    I’m in the process of finding the right words — for words I was taught were not right. This is the hardest challenge yet.

    • I hope you find the words you are looking for. Surprised you find it the hardest as most of us write scars in nearly every flash we write. Perhaps we don’t think of them as scars. I found the humorous the hardest and perhaps the septolet. They all have their challenge.

  29. Chris Mills says:

    Submitted. I wrote four stories to get this one. This was a thought-provoking challenge that ended up being an emotional experience as well as an exercise in writing. Maybe that’s how it should be every time we write.

  30. Inscription

    “Hey, Shorty. What’s up? Besides the rodeo, I mean.”
    “I been busy, what with rodeoin’, ranchin’, wranglin’ an’ ropin’, an’ ridin’ herd on some other projects.”
    “So what brings ya by?”
    “Kid’s been kinda scarce. Ya know anythin’ Pal?”
    “Kid’s been hangin’ out back East agin. Got some sort a rodeo goin’ on there by the sounds a things. Or did the Kid call it a three-ring circus? Either way they’s been a bunch a jugglin’ goin’ on and balancin’ acts an’ such. Kid claims to be workin’ at tamin’ wild uns, kid-whisperin’ even.”
    “The Kid’s workin’ with kids, yer talkin’ ‘bout?”
    “Yep. Math.
    “Go figger.
    “Kid says they’s some real fine stock, full a potential, but some’s jest plain scared and confused.”
    “ ‘Bout math?”
    “Life. Scary present, uncertain future. An’ some’s already scarred by their pasts, carryin’ buckets full a loss an’ grief. Kids ain’t goin’ over the river an’ through the woods to granma’s anymore. Granma’s raisin’ ‘em.”
    “That’s a tough equation, Pal.”
    “Yep. But scars don’t have ta equal disability. Kid’s hopin’ these school kids’ll someday know their scars as an inscription that tells a story a healin’ an’ resilience.”

  31. Irene, this was a tough prompt for me. I have boring scars, no good stories, just little reminders to be careful with fatigue and saws and hedge trimmers. But it would scar me not to manage something for your challenge, so here’s something:

    First Separation

    “My bellybutton.”
    “That’s the first scar we get, the first scar of first separation.” She trailed her finger around his navel as she spoke.
    “Ok”, he said, rolling onto his side, “Besides your bellybutton, what other scars do you have?”
    “The blankets when you toss them aside and leave my bed are a scar. A scar of separation.”
    “Yes, and when you go, it is wrenching, and the door is a scar.”
    “Another scar of separation? Drama! I return, we heal.”
    “What makes you think I have scars?”
    “Everyone does. They’re our own imprinted stories. I showed you where I slid into the barbed wire fence.” He lifted his calf for her to see the scar again, then kissed her, held her gaze. “Thing is, we’ve been together a few times, but always with the lights off, always you wear a nightshirt.” Her eyes dropped.
    “Look. Pruning saw slipped the branch, ripped my finger.” She kissed his finger then pushed his hand away.
    She sat up, pulling off her shirt. “Scars of separation”, she whispered. “But I got away.”
    “And I will never hurt you”, he said, gently tracing each raised imprint of a plunged knife.

  32. […] is my response to Irene Water’s challenge for the Rodeo event #4 over at Carrot Ranch. In a double length Carrot Ranch flash, or 2 chapters of 99-words each (198 words total), tell a […]

  33. Well. I’ve had all three of us down sick with one thing or another for the last week and a half, so I’ve sadly missed the first few contest deadlines. Stupid germs. I’ve been thinking about this one a lot and I think I have something I’m ready to submit. Going to sleep on it a bit still.

  34. *raises hand*
    Technical question!
    Is a hyphenated word counted as one or two words? At the moment, I’m going by MS Word’s word count, but just want to clarify before I hit submit this evening. THANKS!

  35. […] This post was written for the Flash Fiction Rodeo Contest #4. […]

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