November 2: Flash Fiction Challenge

Written by Charli Mills

Charli Mills, a born buckaroo, makes literary art accessible at She writes about the veteran spouse experience and women forgotten to history.

November 2, 2017

Coffee spiced with fresh shavings of nutmeg warms my hands while I settle into the cool fabric of the porch reading chair. It’s not porch weather, but tolerable with a sweatshirt. After tossing tantrums of snow squalls for nearly a week, the cool lake air cracks open the cloud cover and presses in like icy tendrils.

Regardless, there’s something irresistible about a porch.

On sweltering days we clink ice cubes in a glass of lemonade. When it’s cold, we still seek the porch with a hot beverage. We aren’t here to resolve any particular issues. Typically meetings are held in windowless rooms, not on open-air porches. Some porches are screened and others paned in glass.

Despite the chill, the south-facing windows capture enough sunlight to set the seasonal room aglow. Bright and warped from old-time glass techniques, the windows overlook the lower neighborhood of six houses and a hockey-field visible through the leafless maples. All the houses have south-facing porches.

It reminds me of the ancient stonework my father discovered at a timber sale located near Lake Tahoe. He showed it to me before logging destroyed the structures that were old enough to contain towering pines nearly a thousand years in age. It was a high elevation job a mill in Sacramento got for top bid. Virgin lumber in the Sierras was rare on the market.

And ancient structures on a mountaintop were so unheard of that the Forest Service didn’t even bother to send out an archeologist. They thought my father mistaken. But my father showed me. He explained how the slope faced south, catching the lowered winter sun, melting the snow naturally.

How long have we humans known the wisdom of south-facing slopes? When did we desire to retire to south-facing porches? You know the longing — growing old together in our rocking chairs on the porch.

In my daughter’s home, the back porch is the reading nook. I find the windows alluring, they call to me to contemplate. We’ve discussed writers and windows before. But this time its more than writers and windows. I’m curious as to why older homes have porches for sitting, yet modern homes eschew the thoughtful space.

If a modern home has a porch, typically it’s an entry space, a catch-all for discarded shoes and jackets. A place for the mail delivery to set a package. In Paco Underhill’s merchandising book, Why We Buy, he talks about how an entry space allows customers to convert hurried thoughts into a slower shopping space.

Thus even as an entry to home or business, the idea of a porch slows down our minds.

My mind is a whirligig today. I’ve gone from a year of wandering to growing Carrot Ranch as a literary community to hosting a collaborative and wild Flash Fiction Rodeo to diving feet first into the mess I made of my WIP, Miracle of Ducks. I’m a NaNo Rebel in search of the clues I need to publish this muddy novel as a gleaming book worth reading. I’m in need of a porch.

Just 10 minutes of cold porch time serves me well. My breathing slows, my coffee cools and disappears sip by sip, and I clear my mind enough to see what needs doing. I’ve already taken my opening chapter to TUFF (which any writer can also enter as the final Rodeo contest by 11:59 pm EST November 6). TUFF acts like a porch, giving me windows to contemplate.

Let me show you what I’m doing:

First, I have revised my W-storyboard with a Dollar Store posterboard and placed it where I write. I can’t miss it. I’ve tweaked it from how I had it set up earlier. Originally, I had my five key scenes (the circles on the W) correlated to five points of the hero’s journey: The Call, The Test, The Cave, The Transformation, and The Return.

After trying to sell my manuscript, the weak point of my novel was its opening. It didn’t punch any agents or publishers in the gut. My editor had advised on an earlier draft that I didn’t give enough page time to Ike. Then I became homeless and decided to shred my manuscript to give my protagonist a western location and more hardship. I went to archeology field school in June and found my opening. All this processing taught me that we need to focus on the hero before we can focus on the call. This moves the test and the cave, which is more towards the end. The transformation is part of what happens between the cave and the return, which I like thinking of as the elixir — what gives the journey meaning.

For my NaNoWriMo Rebellion, I’ve also include a few more Dollar Store purchases: notebooks. What I’m doing in this notebook is applying the TUFF steps to work out revision issues I’m having. On the first day, I did a free write “about” my opening. I chose to brainstorm about it because the last thing I need is yet another opening: I have three!

I brainstormed the action I wanted to set up in the opening, drawing upon the three choices I have. Next, I wrote a 99-word flash fiction. It was flat, but revealed where I was getting hung up (it’s easier to see what is NOT working in 99 words than in 1,099 words). Next I wrote a 59 word flash and I actually liked what emerged. So when I wrote 9 words, I felt I nailed what the opening needed to be about. Of course the next part was to rip into those three scenes and make them the opening to MOD. That was my word count for today as a NaNo Rebel.

Not one to pass up on $1 notebooks, I bought several. This one is just for free writes. I’ve kept fiction journals the way others might keep diaries. Here’s what I learned about free writing many years ago: it’s your best tool against resistance. in his book The War of Art, Steve Pressfield writes about resistance as the enemy of creativity. He compares it to Freud’s Death Wish, our inclination to block our creativity or sabotage our own efforts. For years I wrote three pages very morning, “I hate mornings, I can’t think, I have nothing to write…” Not exactly Pulitzer winning stuff. But the discipline taught me to meet the page no matter what.


So here we are, back at the Ranch, sitting on the porch and sharing a cuppa. I’ve given you a window from my porch before and now I’m giving you a window into my process. I want you to write. You aren’t here because you want to take up parasailing or crochet. You’re here because you want to write a spy thriller about a crochet-loving, parasailing agent. Well, maybe not exactly that story, but one like it. You want to craft with words. Me, too.

November 2, 2017 prompt: In 99 words (no more, no less) write a story a chair on a porch. Why is it there, and what might it mean? Think about using it as a prop or the main thrust of your story.

Respond by November 7, 2017 to be included in the compilation (published November 8). Rules are here. All writers are welcome!


Where Stories Begin by Charli Mills

Between Danni and the front door sagged a small front porch. Inside the cabin lived a former log-skidder. Rumor had it Old Man Moe was blind, but his stories of the Great Fires of 1910 remained vivid.

“Take a chair,” spoke a voice behind her.

Danni startled, not hearing the man with foggy eyes ride up on a mule. “Moe, I’m the Forest Service archeologist.”

Moe slid from the saddle as if sighted, and walked confidently up the decrepit stairs to one of two rickety wooden chairs. He patted the one next to him. “Stories begin here Doc Gordon.”



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  1. D. Avery @shiftnshake

    Get It Write

    “Kid, what are you doin’?”
    “Settin’ up croquet wickets.”
    “Croquet? Why?”
    “Well, we got lots a folks comin’ by the ranch these days, an I reckon they’ll be lookin’ fer somethin’ ta do, what with the rodeo packin’ up.”
    “Yeah, croquet. A good, relaxin’ activity. Fer the folks comin’ by the ranch.
    “Did ya git bucked, Kid, bump yer head?
    “Shorty mentioned somethin’ ‘bout croquet on the ranch.”
    “She mentioned crochet, but-”
    “Oh yeah, yer right Pal. Crochet and crafting. Well, that’s fine. We can all set on the porch and stitch.”
    “Think you dropped a stitch, Kid.”

    • julespaige

      When do y’all sleep? Funny that’s something else I do…
      Crochet… 😉

    • Charli Mills

      Keep dropping stitches, D. — these yarns make fine crocheted doilies! 🙂 Kind of nostalgic, thinking of the rodeo packing up. It’s been a good ride. Just set a spell and soak it up.

    • Norah

      Love it! I’ve never played croquet and probably never will – didn’t like the way it was played in Alice in Wonderland. Come to think of it, didn’t much like anything about AiW. Oh dear, I’ve said it out loud. I’d rather read your stories anytime, or listen to them when we’re rocking on the porch crocheting.

      • Charli Mills

        I haven’t played in so long, but I remember it was fun!

      • Norah

        I’m pleased you enjoyed it. 🙂

      • D. Avery @shiftnshake

        Croquet can be a vicious game and that when played by the rules. One can also modify the rules, i.e. one-handed rule where you have to have a glass in one hand at all times. One can set up figures instead of wickets. Extreme croquet is when the wickets are set up in an all terrain cross country loop, played in all seasons and weather; sometimes played to a theme, i.e., if it is Presidents’ Day weekend, dressing as a president or associated person can gain you a free wicket, as can speech recitation, or the singing of a relevant song. Point being, Norah, you might be more open to the game, even if you make it your own. It can even be played while moon bathing.

      • Norah

        Wow! I didn’t realise croquet could be so much fun. Perhaps I should check out a croquet club. Then again, maybe I’d rather keep writing. 🙂

    • Charli Mills

      Hi Ruchira! Close to it! I think you and D. must have cut under the fence at the same time. Watch out — she’s setting up crochet in the pasture. 😀 Good to see you at the Ranch!

    • Charli Mills

      Hi Michael! Good to see you again!

  2. julespaige

    The moon is setting over my back porch at 4:30 am…

    I have an hour before I am supposed to be up and driving to hitch to a four hour ride on a train… I might be writing on this prompt on a train!

    See ya later…

    • Charli Mills

      I hope you do get to write on the train! That’s one of my dreams!

      • Charli Mills

        Would should have a writer’s retreat by train!

      • julespaige

        Once we traveled in a sleeper car… not quite big enough for a family of four with just two Pullman beds. I ended up on the floor! If you travel by train you need to be able to go first class. Just for the elbow room – that is if you are going a long distance. 🙂

  3. ksbeth

    how interesting to see your process )

    • Charli Mills

      It’s sort of like showing a messy kitchen! Thanks!

    • Charli Mills

      Hi Di! Good to see you again!

      • pensitivity101

        Hi Charli! I didn’t take part in the October rodeo challenge as I missed the beginning so I’m glad to be back!

      • Charli Mills

        We have returned to regular programming! 🙂

  4. Kerry E.B. Black

    Just Her Size
    Written by Kerry E.B. Black

    The sight nearly made Kai cry. A child-sized wooden rocking chair for which she’d searched.

    “Just what the doctor ordered.”


    Kai didn’t haggle, simply handed over the asked for amount and hugged the chair with possessive eagerness. It fit between the pediatric wheelchair and the unused walker in her van’s trunk.

    She set it beside their fireplace, certain the view included access to the television and allowed for easy conversation. When her daughter arrived home from school, Kai ushered her inside.

    The child squealed with delight. A chair just her size which could help improve her muscle control.

    • Charli Mills

      What a touching story, with great tension built up in the details. I love the child’s reaction. 🙂

    • Norah

      Love it! These words tell so much:
      “Just what the doctor ordered.
      Funny how we’ll part with whatever it takes for our loved ones, children especially.

  5. Sherri Matthews

    ‘Stories begin here Doc Gordon.’ That, my friend, is what your porch is all about…and the chair. The story. Your story Charli! I’m chomping at the bit to get to TUFF for my opener – the dreaded opener, how many times….???? It works for memoir too and I’m intrigued by your ‘W’ and the heart of the ‘hero’ as the driver. Will be back with a flash and a cuppa! And as an aside, your composition books remind me of all those school years with the kids in the States…ahhh, the memories 🙂 <3

    • Charli Mills

      Seriously! The dreaded opener, indeed. It sets the tone, it sets in motion the action, it sets up the woven threads, it hooks…so much pressure on the opening. Good news is that TUFF didn’t take long to work its magic. Of course, the fifth step took longer, is still ongoing!

      I love those composition notebooks, and I recall those days, too. Yes, my ideal porch is a place for stories! <3

  6. Joe Owens

    HI Charli. I find myself looking at a huge stone wall instead of the good sight of day 2 of NaNoWriMo2017! I had a great idea in mind and the characters sketched out, but I just can’t get started. I have basically tossed the towel, although it still remains within reach to snatch back!

    • Charli Mills

      Pick up that towel, Joe! Try taking your idea to flash. Then another, another and leap over that wall. And here’s the truth about that wall: it will be there every time. A wonderful and useful book to read is Steve Pressfield’s The War of Art. He explains how resistance is the enemy of creativity. You can do this. The wonder of NaNoWriMo is learning the ups and downs of intensely writing every day for 30 days.

  7. Stephanie Ascough

    Montressor House
    Stephanie Ascough

    Penelope found the chair on the old house’s back porch. Strange, for an armchair to sit outside a historical museum. She looked over her shoulder. The tour guide’s muffled voice faded behind the porch door. 

    “I feel like Goldilocks,” Penelope said. The armchair enveloped her in the deep, cushioned seat. Over the railing, sunlight sparkled on the lake and the skyscrapers of downtown. A splash caught her attention. Was it the famed lake monster of Montressor House? Penelope squinted, scanning the water eagerly when the voice spoke. Downtown disappeared in sudden mist.

    “Well, you know what happened to Goldilocks.” 

    • Charli Mills

      Welcome to Carrot Ranch, Stephanie! What a fantastic flash — great build up of curiosity, the view and then the realization. Yikes!

      • Stephanie Ascough

        Thanks, Charli! I’m glad I found Carrot Ranch.

    • Norah

      Perfect conclusion! 🙂

    • Charli Mills

      Great to see you back, Ritu! And with a fabulous flash.

      • Ritu

        Thank you so much Charli!

    • Charli Mills

      Hi Judy! Good to see you after the Rodeo. You were one TUFF contestant!

    • Charli Mills

      Thanks for sharing, Henrietta!

  8. floridaborne

    Here are my 99 words:

    Growing up in the south, porches extended around the house and windows were so large that breezes flew freely through each room. Shotgun doors meant you could run from the front yard to the back in a straight line and race through trees surrounding the house with shade.

    Grandma sat in her rocker watching a golden sun pour across the earth from the front door. We awoke to her rocker creaking near our back porch window.
    Nowadays, people cut all the trees down, have a few small windows, use air-conditioning, and complain about the heat. I miss common sense.

    • D. Avery @shiftnshake

      Yep. Where have all the street trees gone?

      • floridaborne

        They’ve been replaced by street lights. 🙂

        Seriously, people down south know that the secret to keeping cooler in the summer is to have a lot of tall trees around your house, and big windows.

    • Charli Mills

      “Shotgun doors…” I can see the kids blasting through, what a great descriptor! Seriously though, older homes were built with wisdom. Not only common sense for heating and cooling, but also peace of mind. That’s the porch way!

      • floridaborne

        People in this country spend most of their lives inside a climate-controlled home with closed windows. It’s unhealthy, but it’s also an unnecessary strain on the environment. Can you imagine the reduction in electricity use if people simply turned of the A/C and opened the windows??

      • D. Avery @shiftnshake

        And planting street trees and yard trees. In the cities roof gardens are more common now for natural cooling.

      • Charli Mills

        It would have a big impact to learn how we used to live without controlled air. In Minnesota, I got used to climate controlled interiors, but once out west again it was so lovely to relearn how to stay cool and warm without central heating.

        And yes, rooftop gardens are having a great positive impact in urban centers.

  9. Fibi

    Morning All! My 99 words are here:

    They put it out in the spring with the white-wash still drying on its arms and legs. Shoots of grass sneaking through the gaps in the porch.

    She spent long summer nights watching stars fall from a sapphire sky. Propped up with floral cushions that sank between thin spindles.

    Gold leaves gathered at the feet. A pumpkin perched on the seat and scowled at passers-by. Until it started to rot, and the nose caved in and the lid fell down.

    Frost coated the peeling flecks of paint; silent and still.

    The chair was brushed, painted and set out again.

    • Charli Mills

      Welcome to Carrot Ranch, Fibi! What a terrific life cycle to a chair on the porch.

    • Charli Mills

      Good to see you on the porch with a story, Frank!

    • Charli Mills

      That pleases me to hear, Colleen! Flash fiction is many things from a fun challenge to an expressive form, but I really appreciate its power as a writing tool. #NaNoWriMo on! You are blazing! <3

      • Colleen Chesebro

        LOL! To infinity and beyond! 😀

  10. julespaige

    Here’s my second piece fist….
    Who could resist writing in the dining car on a train?
    (title should be the link)
    Reclining Line by Line

    On the train heading south, at least when there’s daylight,
    one can see a variety of porches. Front and back. As we
    rock to the rhythm of the rails we wonder about how they
    manage with hearing all the lonesome whistles and rickety
    rack noise – however briefly passing at seventy or close to
    eighty miles an hour.

    How about that old Victorian. White with green trim? Who
    sits back and stargazes, or sips their morning brew
    wrapped in dew’s shawl?

    Part of traveling by train is imagining whose setting a spell,
    where. And what they’re thinking as we pass…

    • Charli Mills

      Are you making me count backwards? 🙂 And no, I would not be able to resist. I’d be buzzing in my head with sensory overload in need of expression! I like that idea of looking at America’s porches by train.

  11. denmaniacs4

    More flash fact than flash fiction, Charli.

    Three Clinics

    The first clinic didn’t have a porch. Nestled in the woods, you stepped right in from the trail to a parlour with a small electric heater.

    It was very inviting.

    The second clinic had a fine porch with three cushioned chairs and looked southwest over the highway. The porch was draped with sweet grapes in the summer and by the sagging limbs of a giant monkey tree year-round.

    The third clinic was the second clinic, moved years later to a permanent acre of land a kilometre away. The front porch became the rear porch and sat in permanent shade.

    • Charli Mills

      I’ve often thought of another term to embrace fact & fiction, but nothing catchy sticks. And in the end, our facts become our story, a fiction of sorts. I enjoyed the way you arranged the evolution of the clinics. In some ways it’s a metaphor for who we are and who we become. Or it’s just a clever porch arrangement!

  12. julespaige

    Here’s the first porch chair piece:
    Title should be the link)
    Jaded Shade
    This was suppose to be the summer that the porch got
    cleaned out. Two or was it three years now that the
    space had become a storage unit for her things. Stuff
    that had to be removed from her studio apartment. Add
    that to leftover toys from children and even boxes from
    when the living room was repainted.

    In the porch still; birdseed, tools, bikes, and wood stacked
    for fireplace use. Along with her chair, now only holding her
    memories. Embroidered threads fading, scared from use,
    not worth reupholstering. Was it going to be a winter home
    for mice?

    • D. Avery @shiftnshake

      Even mice need a cozy home. I can picture this porch.

    • Lisa @ The Meaning of Me

      Every summer is the summer our garage is supposed to be cleaned out… had to laugh there.
      Nice flash – realistic picture of many porches, I think. I’m sure the mice will love it.

      • julespaige

        That part with the mice might be the only fiction in the piece. I do not do well with rodents or bugs in the house. Though I don’t mind little spiders.

    • Charli Mills

      Spring cleaning often becomes spring gathering to that space willing to take in the accumulations of random items that don’t fit elsewhere.

  13. Norah

    Thanks for giving us a window from your porch into your writing process, Charli. You have come a long way since June 16. You’re like the phoenix! Risen in splendour. What a wonderful month November will be, you rebel, you; and what great success it will bring. I am so looking forward to reading the full story of Ike and Danni, and Michael. I think it’s going to have a richness not found in other books. I appreciate the way you used your TUFF approach to gain insights. It certainly gives me a new way of thinking about writing.
    I like this prompt, the porch. It has a calm about it, just right for stirring in the creativity to sweeten any piece. Thanks for the challenge and the ideas.

    • Charli Mills

      You’ve been with me on this journey and that makes you mentor and ally. Hardly a villain! I remember that May before and how pretty I found this area, but looking forward to home, not realizing it would lead me back here and nowhere. I’m listening to Brene Brown’s book on Audible (hmm, wonder who got me started on that…) and she speaks about finally understanding Maya Angelou’s statement: ““You are only free when you realize you belong no place—you belong every place—no place at all. The price is high. The reward is great.” The price has been high. As I write among you all at Carrot Ranch, I feel the reward has been great. The Ranch is nowhere and yet here, in our hearts and minds where we yearn to create and express. We do a bit at a time. I hope Miracle of Ducks is all the richer to read. It’s richer to revise. I still have much to master on this journey!

      • Norah

        Brene Brown, Maya Angelou, Charli Mills – a trio of inspiring women. All with much wisdom to share, each from learnings of their own. Isn’t it empowering – thinking we are tied to no one place but belong everywhere. The world is our oyster. It’s ours to enjoy. If only we didn’t make so many rules and do so much to harm it, and each other. That’s what’s wonderful about the Carrot Ranch – it’s a safe place for us to enjoy, to inspire and rest our hearts and minds, whatever the need, wherever we are. If we didn’t still have much to master on the journey, would the journey be worth continuing? I think not. Take care. 🙂

  14. robbiesinspiration

    What a fabulous post, Charli. I loved your story. I will have to apply my mind to this.

    • Charli Mills

      Thank you, Robbie!

  15. D. Avery @shiftnshake

    Wow, old times here on the porch, a comfy cozy 99 word prompt. Who could want any more or less? I realized porches have long featured in my writing, implicitly or explicitly. This prompt led back to characters who were born here on the ranch, but hail from the great Green Mountain state.

    The Untold

    The open porch was curtained by the rain that sheeted off the roof, drilling a trough underneath the eaves. Behind this curtain Hope rocked slightly, pushing against the floorboards with her toes, her father beside her in his chair. A third cane rocker sat empty.
    “It’s a good porch”, he said, “Best part of this two-story house.”
    “Yup”, agreed Hope. Recognizing the prelude, she looked forward to hearing his stories. Rain drummed the porch roof overhead.
    A sudden gust of wind rent the curtain, whipped them with cold rain, rocked the empty chair.
    “Daddy, tell a story about Mommy.”

    • julespaige

      Need to add this to your series.

      Made me think of the stories that weren’t shared when my Mom…passed. Back then no one wanted to stir the memory pot.

      • D. Avery @shiftnshake

        Yep. Haven’t figured out where it fits exactly. If this is when Hope is a girl then Mom is just gone off. Or it may fit in later; there’s more episodes to that story that I haven’t taken the time to work onto paper. Thanks for reading, Jules.

    • D. Avery @shiftnshake

      Second Story

      “I don’t really know that story Hope. That’s for her to tell. When she comes back.”
      “She doesn’t tell stories like you do. She’s quiet.”
      “How’d you meet her, Daddy?”
      “You know that story Hope. Comin’ back from my fishing trip up in Quebec I picked up a hitchhiker. At the border she had me pretend we were together so she wouldn’t get questioned too much.”
      “And after, she said she wanted to keep pretending.”
      “And she came back with you to the farm and you thought she was never gonna leave.”
      “Yup. That’s what I thought.”

      • Charli Mills

        How they met explains so much! Did you know this, D. or did the characters inform you? The story deepens.

      • D. Avery @shiftnshake

        Ha! I knew nothing setting out with any of this. The very first one says she has dual citizenship. I’ve been realizing her story but I haven’t taken the time to write it. This porch scene is from earlier when Hope is young. If it makes you feel better, remember that mom is teaching Hope to make blackberry jam. For now…

    • Charli Mills

      Ah, maybe that’s what I was feeling — like old times, nostalgic for the stories (99 words, no more, no less). And here we have visitors, and I see one has gone wandering from them. The porch suits these Green Mountain characters.

  16. A. E. Robson

    It was the old bench that caught my eye. Its character and stories overshadowing the chair in the corner of the porch.

    Life Changes
    by Ann Edall-Robson

    You came to me for quiet moments to write your thoughts. We had interludes in our time together when you introduced me to your family as it grew. Boisterous and fun-loving, they clambered over my seat and jumped from my back. Even as the seasons changed, you made time for me. Dusting the leaves away in the fall and clearing the snow in winter. Life changes for all of us. I see you watching me from within your confines, no longer able to make your way down the path to be with me. I miss our time together.

    • Charli Mills

      Clever to take the perspective of the bench, thus answering the question: Does the chair on the porch yearn for us, as well? Beautiful, Ann!

      • A. E. Robson

        We gravitate to that which makes us feel better. They beckon us, give us strength and inspiration. Do they yearn for us as well? They must or we would not be drawn to them.

    • Charli Mills

      Thank you, Robbie! And I’m happy to see you got your judges badge!

  17. Pete

    Amy’s friends laughed when she bought the splintered wicker chair at a yard sale. Hideous, they said, much too bulky for her tiny outdoor space. They reminded her how she couldn’t sit still.

    But Amy bought the chair, and a flowery cushion to go with it.

    And sitting still? Sure, her foot bounced along whenever she read a thriller in the chair. She squirmed and shimmied when a decent song hit Pandora. But her heart did most of the heavy lifting, in that chair, as Amy thought back to those many lazy afternoons on the porch with her grandfather.

    • robbiesinspiration

      Very nice. Great use of the prompt.

    • Charli Mills

      Hi Pete! I enjoyed the details that show her restlessness, and yet behind the bouncy exterior resides the memories she held in that chair.

  18. Annecdotist

    I don’t think the south-facing porch is much of a thing in the UK, which is a pity as I often think I ought to take my morning coffee outside in the winter but rarely do because I haven’t set up a sunny place to sit in advance. It makes me think of that wholesome family The Waltons rocking on the porch. But that’s not where I’ve gone in my flash – building on a novel I’ve reviewed about a woman with supernatural hair it’s gone quite weird and might not really work out of context. But hey, we’re all getting back in the saddle after a break from the regular 99-words.

    Two translated novels with a supernatural element, and a hairy flash

    I was interested in your decision to start your novel a little earlier in the story arc. Sometimes that’s necessary even though we might generally try to kick off with a punch. I’ve done something similar in my WIP. Although it does still start at a point of change it’s an earlier point chronologically than in previous drafts.

    I smiled at you sharing your notebooks. I don’t really indulge my stationery fetish so much now that I avoid writing by hand as much as possible. I hope you enjoy yours and look forward to following more of your NaNoWriMo rebellion.

    • Charli Mills

      Just a while ago I took a break on that south facing porch, which really doesn’t matter because it’s nightfall and snow. But I love the wall of windows, chilly as it was, and watched the beautiful flakes fall beneath the light odd a single lamp outside. Yes, coffee, is nice outdoors if you can point to a sunny side.

      I considered, broke, repaired and broke several rules about opening a novel. The one I finally had, at the exact moment of “the call” was flat. The second focused too much on Danni, but she is the protagonist. I realized we needed to see Ike in his “normal world” and though he is not the protagonist neither is his normal “normal.” I’m concerned it’s all not sharp enough yet, but then again if I keep sharpening I may lose my steel altogether. When I think of sharp openings (and I really mean no pun), I think of Sugar and Snails. I’ve read many book since yours, but your opening scene stays with me. That’s sharp.

      My handwriting is atrocious these days! I may have to give it up. I spent an hour trying to decipher my own writing. But I do love the notebooks. Mostly I make lists or jot ideas and observations.

      Glad to have you all back in the 99-word saddle. And you know, it’s always where the prompt leads that you need to go. I’m looking forward to this supernatural hair.

  19. Irene Waters 19 Writer Memoirist

    In Australia the porch is usually at the front door, a place where visitors are vetted. Not too many use them as a place to sit. Instead we aim to face north those areas that we would utilise in the same manner as you use your porch. I will have to head out to our portico to let the prompt wash over me.

    I enjoy reading your process and enjoyed my own dip into TUFF. You are so organised I am impressed. I’m an untidy writer I am starting to think as I don’t know where I’d find the time it must take to plot it out as you do. Perhaps I do and I just keep it in my head rather than on paper.

    Love the notebooks. What a wealth of information they would reveal. When your novels are published and successful people will be clamouring for access to these volumes to learn your technique for themselves. Hopefully I will return with a flash.

    • Charli Mills

      How interesting! I think porches vary in use and position across the US, but I never thought of the space used to vet visitors. It sparks an idea because these old mining homes once owned by the “captains” or supervisors, typically have a small porch at the entrance.

      Organization is an ongoing development. And often the creative side meanders off the path. 🙂

      Ah, Bundy, bless his heart. It’s hard to watch our pets age. Bobo yet has clear eyes, but her gait drags more and more. That’s true about familiarity in many things. Maybe we are blind in more areas than site.

      Thanks for your comments on my flash, too!

  20. Norah

    Just to be different this time, I’m posting my story here and not in a post. Couldn’t work an educational post around this one, and didn’t have time to try. Anyway, I’m excited to be sharing the results of Contest #1 this week – can’t wait.

    Here’s my story:

    Porch Sittin’
    “There you are. What’re you doing out here?”
    “Just sitting. Enjoying’ the cool.”
    “Everyone’s been looking for you. Will you be coming back inside?”
    “Mind if I sit too?”
    “You thinking about Jim?”
    “He was a good man.”
    “It’s near three years now.”
    “Today’s his birthday. Would’ve been thirty-six.”
    “I know.”
    “I still don’t understand –”
    “There’s no reason. Wrong place at the wrong time is all.”
    “But it’s not fair.”
    “Life’s never fair. Will you ever love me like you loved Jim?”
    “Oh honey, I do. It’s just hard on his birthday.”
    “I know.”

    • elliotttlyngreen

      Took my title Norah.. porch sittin is the best.! !

      • Norah

        Great minds, eh? Snap! 🙂

      • elliotttlyngreen

        Great indeed…perhaps acquired from all that porch sittin.? And how intriguing the similatlrities of vernacular we share from these far corners.

      • Norah

        Maybe. 🙂 It is intriguing how some things are the same the world over, and some are different. 🙂

      • elliotttlyngreen

        This very conversing could happen identically on a porch aroind here.

    • D. Avery @shiftnshake

      There’s forgiveness and understanding catching air out on that porch. Cool. And hear that dialogue making the whole thing flow smooth and easy.

      • Norah

        Thank you, D. I appreciate your comment. 🙂

    • Lisa @ The Meaning of Me

      Love the normalcy of the scene as it unfolds in the dialogue. So much more said between the lines of their conversation. Beautiful.

      • Norah

        Thank you, Lisa. I really appreciate your kind words of support.

    • Charli Mills

      You are always welcome to air your words out here on the porch at the Ranch. Post not necessary, though I do enjoy how well you tie the prompt to an educational focus. The education here it to sit and be aware of our feelings, to communicate them. Good use of dialog!

      • Norah

        Thank you for your welcoming kindness, Charli. I like sitting with you on your porch. I love it when the CR “family” gathers round to share stories.

    • Charli Mills

      Let’s get back to it! Glad to see the gang all gathering the 99 again!

  21. Liz H

    Here’s my offering. here in the Midwest, it’s chilly and hard out. So I brought back summer…
    Senses of Summer

    Her fingers paused and flattened on the ridged wood of the screen door. A warm breeze flowed over her fingers, soft promise of the summer day. Springs screeched as she pushed through, concrete floor chill under her bare feet.

    Four steps right, toward the slap of wave on shoreline. She dropped onto the rough canvas of the chair’s cushions, pulling her feet up to warm them.

    The door screeched. A hot coffee cup is placed in her hand. Click of multiple toenails is followed by a rank, wet tongue near her other hand.

    Husband and pup were here, too.

    • julespaige

      I’ve got my hubby… but I do miss my dog…
      Stay warm!

    • Lisa @ The Meaning of Me

      Love this, Liz. I get rubs from cats, though, rather than the dog tongue. 😀

      • Liz H

        Pet lovin’…it’s all good.

    • Charli Mills

      I’m going to close my eyes now, repeat this scene and pretend. Now I’m warm inside.

      • Liz H

        Mission accomplished!

  22. Juliet Nubel

    Hi Charli,

    I wasn’t away for long in fact. I desperately needed my dose of flash. I couldn’t get onto the rules page so I hope I’m doing what I should be doing.

    Here’s my 99 word story:

    No Goodbye

    It was the most beautiful armchair in the whole house. Carefully crafted from a thick coppery leather, it had softened and smoothed since it had left the shop all those years ago. A faded, red, feather-filled cushion sat far back into its spine, rubbed shiny where her back had pressed hard against it every day, for as long as they could all remember.
    They would have loved to drop wearily into its comforting warmth, but it had sat empty for months, ever since she had slipped slowly from its embrace onto the cool porch floor, without even saying goodbye.

    Voilà. Hope you enjoy it. Wowee, am I in a sad phase…

    • elliotttlyngreen

      I feel like ‘she’ is a shadow… i think i have sat in a chair like that. Great detail. You got it! !

      • Juliet Nubel

        Thanks! I’m glad you like it.

    • Liz H

      Your final line…heart-piercing! 😮

      • Juliet Nubel

        Thank you Liz. I’m glad your heart was pierced…in a good way, of course!

      • Juliet Nubel

        Thanks Lisa. Glad you enjoyed it.

    • Charli Mills

      Hi Juliet! Welcome back! 99 words, no more, no less and go wherever the prompt leads. Those are the basic rules. I’ll check my links. When I updated the rules I think I created a second page. This is the correct link:

      Ah, a sad passing with no fare thee well. No wonder they can’t help but gaze upon the chair that once held her, and let her go. Beautiful flash!

      • Juliet Nubel

        Thanks Charli!

  23. Juliet Nubel

    Of course the story stops at ‘goodbye’ and not ‘sad phase’. That was just a wee extra note to you…

    • Charli Mills

      Ha! Actually it seemed clear to me that it was a note from you. However, I went back and read it and thought it could be a satirical message from beyond the chair. I prefer that lamentation version of the story.

      • Juliet Nubel


    • dnagai

      I swear, I read, and re-read a million times as I edit… and then I post… and then I realize the writing might be misconstrued… that the cat and the daughter might be confused. Sigh. Hope it comes through somewhat clearer than mud.

      • Charli Mills

        I’m so glad you entered the contest! And yes, I’ve missed reading everyone’s work, too!

        Mud is our medium, and your story comes through. No cat confusion. Only confusion regarding the reality your story is based upon. How can we suffer this in our nation?

  24. elliotttlyngreen

    Porch Settin by Elliott Lyngreen

    The porch swing was made of logs. There, Elsie passed fyre to the aromatic Heather Glastonbury like a powerful message.

    Patrick Hamilton and Bowen traded cards for beer sips on a capstone.

    Garrison Grantley discussed various lyrics stemmed from radio speakers perfectly screened through, surrounding Chuck Koehler’s deep reflections.

    “Wanna hit, Lynk?” Laurian softened me as the flame recourse around the ledges and wide opening at the stairs from one to the next within arms reaches.

    The metronome swinging, sneaked the crumbling indifference exchanging Elsie’s dreams for Heather’s observation of the traffic and streetlights forming a smiley face.

    • elliotttlyngreen

      In the words of Marty Mcfly.. “are we back?”.. That was like some serious time traveling adventure! ! Good to be back. Cant wait for the next Rodeo =]

      • D. Avery @shiftnshake

        We’re back. Feels like we’re all gathering’ on Charli’s porch. Elliot, are we having a beer? Or something like?

      • elliotttlyngreen

        We are being ‘recreational’ as Charli said D… From that time in our lives where we spent more time figuring what we would do than actually doing anything. And it did not matter so much. We would usually just hang out on porches. It was everything.

      • Charli Mills

        We are back! It was a fun ride, was’t it? There will be Back to the Rodeo II next year!

        I’m digging this recreational porch swing and all it has witnessed and heard.

      • elliotttlyngreen

        Sounds like we have a title! ! For next years go round… A period of our lives there we miss incredibly. One of those.. when things were unimportant, simpler, and meant everything.

    • Charli Mills

      Ruthie!!! You made it! It only took 3 and a half years, lol! You, Susan Budig and Anne Rauvola were all on Gather creating art and poetry when all this social media was in its infancy. Gather renewed my literary soul when I was in the thick of marketing. Remember the oranges poem you wrote for my co-op so long ago? I had that up on our first digital screen with a beautiful shot of citrus. Was that 2008, 2009? It absolutely makes my day (night) to see you writing a flash fiction at Carrot Ranch. The idea to forge a literary community started with what we all experienced at Gather. Proof that art and love never die! <3

      • Ruth Cox

        Not only do I remember, I still have my orange sunshine creation that you used! I think of you often as I look at it and smile. 2008, I think… I sure miss Gather writing! I really did my best poetry and prose within that inspirational atmosphere.

      • Liz H

        I miss Gather, too!

      • Charli Mills

        Liz! You were on Gather, too? It seems like eons ago. It was so satisfying and many interesting groups and platforms. Intelligent, creative and ultimately bought out.

    • Liz H

      A crashing success!

    • Charli Mills

      It was a fast blast, a wild ride! Now it feels comfortable back in the saddle, roaming the familiar hills of the Ranch, taking in the sites from the writers. 🙂

    • Charli Mills

      We showed ’em our skills, now we rope and ride for the daily grind of word wrangling!

  25. Sherri Matthews

    Here’s mine Charli, determined to stay afloat on the crest of the Rodeo! Nothing murderous this time, strangely… 😉 <3

    Rock On

    Rain pelted the window like small stones.

    “Will Jax find his way home in this?” Andy ran his face across his sleeve in a failed attempt to stem his tears.

    “Oh Honey, he’s a cat, no amount of rain will keep him away.”

    “But mama…” Andy wailed.

    A tap came at the door. Then another; and again. Rhythmic. It took a few more before mother realised it was the tap of the rocking chair on the porch.
    She edged open the door and found a soggy ball of Jax fur curled up on the rocker like he’d never left.

    • Charli Mills

      Good to see you riding in, Sherri! Ha! Indeed, on the crest of the Rodeo, too. Ah, but this is a tender-hearted story, no murderous musings. You express well that feeling of panic when a pet s missing and the weather turns.

      • Sherri Matthews

        I wonder where the idea of a missing cat coming home in all weathers came from?! Freudian joy at having my boy back home, no doubt 😉 Aww, thanks Charli. It’s great to be back! <3

  26. jackschuyler

    • Charli Mills

      Hi Jack! Great use of prompts as props for story.

    • Charli Mills

      Thanks for joining us!

  27. ellenbest24

    Great job Charlie everyone needs a nook or a porch. Your desk area i envy all organised and pristine. Nice job.

  28. Charli Mills

    Great to see you flashing, Annette!

  29. Charli Mills

    Thanks for getting prompted, Geoff!


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