Winner of Flash Fiction Rodeo Contest #1

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 7, 2017

When I Grow Up

by Norah Colvin

Congratulations and a special thank you goes to all writers who participated in the first of the Carrot Ranch Flash Fiction Contests: When I grow up. The judging is now complete, and we are about to announce the winner. Could it be you?

In this contest, writers were asked to write a 99-word story in response to the following prompt:

When I grow up. Cast yourself back to six years of age, knowing what you do of life in the present; what would you want to be when you grow up and how would you go about achieving that goal? Tell us in 100 words, no more no less. It can be real or imaginary, serious or light-hearted. Extra points for comparing it to your childhood choice, if you remember it.

Stories were judged on ten criteria including relevance, capturing a child’s voice and originality. Extra points were awarded if the story included a comparison with the “real” childhood choice. (For a full list of criteria, please refer to the original post here.)

First of all I give a huge vote of thanks to my fellow judges Anne Goodwin, Rough Writer and author of novels Sugar and Snails and Underneath, and Robbie Cheadle, Rough Writer and author and illustrator of the Sir Chocolate Books series of picture books.

With thirty-eight entries to read, it was no mean feat for we judges to select a winner. Most entries met the requirements of surface features; such as, word count, story structure, grammar, spelling and punctuation. Most stories were relevant to the prompt, and many captured the voice of a child in an interesting and original way. It was difficult to differentiate, so congratulations must go to everyone who joined in by writing in response to this prompt.

Although we didn’t expect it to be so, it was the extra points awarded for a comparison to the childhood choice that enabled us to choose the winner.

And the winner is (drum roll)!

#34 Father Christmas by Hugh Roberts

“Father Christmas.”

“Father Christmas?”



“Because I want to give toys to all the good boys and girls he can’t get to because there’s no snow.”

“But Father Christmas’s sleigh can travel anywhere. Harry.”


“Yes. It doesn’t have to be snowing. Can you remember last Christmas when it rained? He still got here.”

“Yes, you’re right. Maybe I’ll be a doctor then?”


27 years later, dressed as Father Christmas, Doctor Harry Gibson gave out the presents at the Desert Trail Orphanage Christmas party, before saving the life of three-year-old Afua Zambo, who was suffering from malnutrition and measles.

We felt that what set this entry apart from others is its combination of the past and present to tell a complete story: the child grows up to fulfil the childhood ambition. If he couldn’t be Father Christmas, he wanted to be a doctor. He managed to combine both in a rather surprising way. While perhaps seeming to lack some sophistication of language, the first part of the story, told completely in dialogue, captures the voice of the child in a way that is both credible and cheerful.

Congratulations, Hugh, on being selected as the winner in the inaugural Flash Fiction Rodeo Contest #1. Charli will be in touch about your prize.

Highly commended

Since our task was so difficult, Charli suggested that each judge be allowed to pick one other entry that appealed for whatever reason. We jumped at the chance, though were again hard-pressed to choose just one.

Anne’s Pick:

#36 Morning Ritual by C. Jai Ferry

My mama was a princess. In the pictures, she wore a long white gown and flowers in her hair. Now she uses her leftover princess magic when she puts makeup on, her fingers gliding over her skin, barely touching her face at all. But they do. Her breath jerks and her eyes water, but her fingers still spread the paint over her cheek until the dark rainbow marks disappear. Daddy calls them his special love bites. Mama adds a rosy pink color to her cheeks. I shake my head. I don’t ever want to wear makeup when I grow up.

Anne says, “Here is a child trying to make sense of her family, not able to name what’s happening (domestic abuse), nor criticise either parent, she knows what she doesn’t want and has an authentically magical sense of how to avoid it. It’s very subtly handled and has left a deep impression on me.”

Robbie’s Pick:

#37 When I grow up by Jack Schuyler

“Being a doctor is a privilege,” Dad’s been talking for a while now. Sitting in the back seat, I watch him drive and listen. “Helping people: that’s something you can be proud of.”

In the passenger seat, Mom’s listening too, and smiling.

“What do you want to be when you grow up?” Dad’s eyes find mine in the rearview mirror.

I hesitate, “What do you do Mom?”

“I used to be a writer,” she smiles at me. “I even wrote a book once.”

“That’s what I want to do,” I say looking through the window. Outside, the world flies past.

Robbie says, “Very clever. A piece that speaks volumes through the few well-chosen words. The child identifies with his mother, who is obviously the carer and the one that the child regards. This is despite the father’s position as a doctor and his pride in his work.”

Norah’s Pick:

#16 Time Traveler (Too Many Questions, Child!) by Liz Husebye Hartmann

Unseen, I observe.

Red shorts, shirtless, she digs tiny toes into the sand. A mutt stretches nearby, ears pricking as the girl narrates the world under her dirty hands.

“There’s a hole there…gonna dig it up. How far does it go?”

“I’ll flatten this mountain, make a road. Why so many ants?”

“Buster, don’t sit on the highway!”

Buster shakes his ears and rolls, belly up.

“Why didn’t Buster growl at you?” she looks fiercely up at me.

“We’ve met before,” I smile, plop down in the sand.

I forget what I came to tell myself.

“Can I play, too?”

Norah says, I like the way this started from the point of view of the adult-self observing the child-self. We then went into the child’s voice as the child narrates her play, with disconnected thoughts, as occurs. The narrator then indicates that she came back to give advice to the child but realises that play and being in the moment is more important. As an appreciation of childhood, it appealed to me.”  

We hope you enjoyed reading our picks and see in them the positives that we saw. Remember though, reading is a very personal experience.


Congratulations to all the writers who entered! You dared to stretch your writing and braved the first Rodeo at Carrot Ranch. Each participant has earned the following badge, which you may copy and post on you blog, social media or print out and frame. It’s a badge of honor. And now you can say, you have had your first rodeo! You wrote well.

We want to share all the contest entries in a collection. We’ll be contacting each of our contestants and challengers to seek interest and permission to publish a digital collection in January. Writers retain all copyrights to their work.

We’d appreciate your feedback! We want to make this an annual event that is fun, engaging and supportive of literary art. Please take a a few minutes for a brief 5 question survey. Thank you!


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  1. Charli Mills

    Congratulation Hugh, Liz, Jack and C Jai! Thank you to all the writers who entered! We had such great entries that we’ll be putting together a digital collection in January. Thank you Norah for leading such a fun and thoughtful contest. Thank you Anne and Robbie for joining Norah in the difficult task of judging. You all made this a fun and engaging event!

    • Norah

      The task, though difficult, was a pleasure, Charli. I was delighted to be a part of it. It was wonderful to read all the great submissions from writers. I couldn’t have done it with the support of Anne Goodwin and Robbie Cheadle. Three heads really are better than one! 🙂

  2. Ritu

    Congratulations all of the winners! And thanks to all the judges for their hard work – it must be tough!

    • Charli Mills

      I agree, Ritu! I’m grateful to all who entered, led and judged!

      • Ritu


  3. Norah

    Reblogged this on Norah Colvin and commented:
    I am delighted to announce the winner of my flash fiction contest “When I grow up”. Judging was a tough job, but we got there in the end.
    Charli has made a lovely badge for contestants to put on their blogs. Check it out when you check out the winners.
    Thanks for a fabulously fun rodeo, Charli.

    • Hugh's Views and News

      Norah, thank you so much. You’ve helped make a dream come true. I’m over the moon with hearing the news that my story won. Thank you for coming up with the idea for this, the first of The Carrot Ranch flash fiction competitions. I think a little celebration is on the cards. ????

      • robbiesinspiration

        Congratulations, Hugh. You have no idea how delighted I was when I was told that this was your piece.

      • Charli Mills

        Go out and celebrate, Hugh! I’m so thrilled you won!

      • Norah

        Your story is a deserving winner, Hugh. I thought you’d be excited. I was so pleased that I had no idea who wrote any of the stories until after the winning entry had been decided. I was surprised and delighted to see it was you. By the time the judging was done, I’d even forgotten who had entered. It is a delightful little story, and not BOTS, as I had thought it might be. 🙂

      • ellenbest24

        Well done Hugh, I simply loved your story, and my, you were up against the stiffest of competition. *virtually patting your back* excellent. What better timing for such a tale.

      • Hugh's Views and News

        Thanks so much, Ellen. Yes, I had a lot of brilliant competition to contend with. They are all winners as far as I’m concerned because they saddled up and had a go. I seem to be able to write stories with a Christmas theme at any time of the year. Probably because I’ve always loved that time of the year.

      • ellenbest24

        The man did good

    • Hugh's Views and News

      Thanks so much, Robbie. I was thrilled when I heard the news from Charli. It’s as if it’s taken my writing to another plane.
      Thanks for your work in judging the contest with Anne and Norah.

  4. Annecdotist

    Congratulations to the winners and thanks to all for sharing your stories.

    • Hugh's Views and News

      Thanks for helping on the judging side, Anne. ????

    • Charli Mills

      Thank you for judging and working with Norah on this contest, Anne!

  5. Norah

    Charli, this was an amazing rodeo. Thank you for trusting me to the lead the contests into the ring. I thoroughly enjoyed the experience. It was a lot of fun. I was very impressed by the contest entries and it was tough choosing a winner. How wonderful that you intend compiling all the entries into a digital publication in January. I do hope the writers give their permission. What a wonderful read it will be, and how helpful as a tool for studying technique and getting ideas.
    The badge for writers to put on their blogs is awesome! I can’t wait to add it to mine!
    I’ve completed the survey. I don’t think it took even five minutes!
    I’m now waiting to hear who has won the other contests. I’ve been busting to tell the winners of this one! 🙂

    • Charli Mills

      Norah, thank you for bravely going first for our first of what I hope will be many more years of Rodeos! You helped solidify processes and communication. You led the way. Like you, I’m excited to find out who the next winners will be. Judging is still going on, and each Tuesday will be like opening presents. 🙂

      • Norah

        Those stories are gifts, aren’t they. Imagine having a gift to open every week in November. We can’t complain about that!
        I’m thrilled to have participated in the inaugural CRFFRodeo!

  6. Judy E Martin

    Congratulations to Hugh, for a heart-warming winning story. With the high standard of entries, it must be tough choosing a winner, and it is lovely idea to chose your favourite picks as well. 🙂

      • Judy E Martin

        You are welcome, Hugh. It was a lovely story 🙂

    • Charli Mills

      The entries were all fabulous and deserving. I look forward to compiling them. Together I think they are going to be an amazing read.

      • Judy E Martin

        I have no doubt about that! 🙂

    • Norah

      It was tough choosing a winner, Judy, but how wonderful that Charli is going to compile them all into a digital publication in January. It will be an amazing read. 🙂

      • Judy E Martin

        Yes, I am looking forward to reading them all. 🙂

      • Norah

        I am too! 🙂

  7. Hugh's Views and News

    Wow! I can’t tell you how delighted I am to hear the news that I won this contest. I’m over the moon. Thank you to Norah, Robbie and Anne for judging, and to Charli for hosting the Flash Fiction Rodeo. Congratulations to all the other participants as well. You’ve done something brilliant by entering the contest.

    Being dyslexic, I’m so glad that I discovered the world of blogging and did not allow the condition to stop me doing what I always wanted to do – to write. Many of you have made my dreams come true – thank you. Now, I’m off to celebrate.

    • Liz H

      You and author, the late Vince Flynn, have something in common: dyslexia as well as being a successful writer! Congratulations!

    • Sherri Matthews

      I’ll be raising a glass of bubbly to you Hugh, thrilled for you! What a delightful story, it actually made me tear up, such a sweet yet powerful story. You are a talented storyteller who writes from the heart, dyslexia was never going to hold you down. Time to celebrate…but make sure you’re over your hangover before your judging duties comments lol 😉 Hugh contgratulations Hugh, and huge hugs with them, richly deserved! <3 xxx

      • Hugh's Views and News

        Thanks so much, Sherri. Such lovely comments from you. I’m so glad I published that first post in February 2014.
        As you’re head judge, I’ve duly taken your advice about the celebrations. I’m looking forward to my chance to do some flash fiction judging. We’ll celebrate when we meet up. ????

      • Sherri Matthews

        You are so very welcome Hugh, I was so excited to read that you won! I’m so glad too, and so are many others, you made that first post decision back then. Haha…well, I do need to keep my judges in line you know, we don’t want a disaster darling 😀 Can’t wait to celebrate with you…happy day! xxx

    • Charli Mills

      Hugh, that warms my heart to know you won! I’ve long admired your writing and find your humor infectious. This story is tender and intelligent. All your wonderful attributes as a writer outshine any challenges of dyslexia. I hope others who hold back might read your words and feel encouraged to try. Congratulations. Have a wonderful celebration!

      • Hugh's Views and News

        Thank you very much, Charli. I hope other writers with dyslexia who read this will act on your words. I allowed the condition to stop me from writing for far too long. Now, I feel like a horse who has been let out for the first time after a long hard winter. This win has certainly taken my writing to a new level. You’ll be seeing a lot more of my writing in the future.

      • Charli Mills

        Oh, Hugh, I went through a season of doubt struggling to type and to write error-free. It kept me from applying to college to exact my dream to be a writer. As you know, dyslexia can cause “silly mistakes” and also frozen panic. Some people, like former teachers or fellow students, could be overly critical. I learned to tune them out. The encouragement I express at Carrot Ranch is rooted in my philosophy of overcoming — focus on strengths and weaknesses won’t matter. Another challenge for me has been typing, or keyboarding. No matter how many classes I take, I can’t do it. Okay. I’m a writer, not a secretary. So I can’t type. So what? When I finally said eff off to the typing, I developed my own quirky one-handed system. It drives other people nuts (who see me) and who try to tell me how to do it “right.” But there is no “right” way. And that’s the gift of dyslexia. Dyslexics are so creative because we have to find different neuron paths to do what others can without thinking. So of course a dyslexic man with a grand sense of humor, an eye for a good story and a huge heart would be a magnificent writer. Remember your strengths and write on!

    • Norah

      A celebration is definitely in order, Hugh. There were some wonderful stories entered in the contest, and it was difficult to choose a winner, but yours stood out in that it met the criteria beautifully. Well done!

      • Hugh's Views and News

        Thanks again, Norah. Having read Jack’s, Liz’s and C.J’s stories, I can see that I was up against strong competition. This win has certainly made me look at my writing in a new way. Thanks for all your work on the judging panel. I’ll be commencing my judging duties with Sherrie very soon. ????

      • Norah

        You were up against some strong competition, Hugh. I wish you success with judging Sherrie’s contest, though I’m sure you’ll have just as much difficulty in picking a winner as we did! Good luck!

      • Hugh's Views and News

        I’m sure we will, Norah. I’m looking forward to getting stuck in and reading about some murder. ????

      • Norah

        It sounds like something you have experience in, Hugh – reading and writing murder, that is. 🙂

    • Annecdotist

      Well deserved, Hugh.

      I think there are a fair few dyslexic writers now thanks to word processing etc. Do you know Rod Duncan, a steampunk writer and also a creative writing teacher?

      • Hugh's Views and News

        Thanks for the information on Rod Duncan, Anne. I see he was born in the same year as me and I see he uses dictation software to write his stories. It’s something I’ve thought about before and need to look into.
        Thanks again for being on Norah’s judging panel.

      • Annecdotist

        I hadn’t realised he uses voice-activated software. I use it because of repetitive strain injury, but it does have its frustrations and can cause me embarrassment with the mistakes it lets through. You have to check the output quite carefully in my experience. If you try it, I’d be interested to know how you get on.

  8. Reena Saxena

    Congratulations to all the winners! We would like to see other entries too.

    • Charli Mills

      Indeed! I’m gathering permission and we will compile a digital compilation. Thanks, Reena!

  9. D. Wallace Peach

    Congrats to Hugh! I couldn’t wait to get over here to read, and I’m so glad that a few more stories were shared as well as the winner. What a treat. Yay!

    • Hugh's Views and News

      Thanks so much, Diana. Can’t quite believe the news that my story won.

      • D. Wallace Peach

        So excited for you, Hugh. I’m going to post a link tomorrow to this post and to your blog. 🙂 I had a blast with this competition. Congrats once again!

    • Hugh's Views and News

      That’s so kind of you, thank you, Diana. I’ll be announcing the news on my blog as well, but once I’ve had time to calm down from all the excitement of winning. ????

    • Charli Mills

      Thanks, D.!

  10. Annette Rochelle Aben

    WTG Hugh! I felt the magic of your entry and celebrate all the love it speaks of as well as celebrate your 1st place prize! <3

    • Hugh's Views and News

      Thanks so much, Annette. It came as a complete surprise to me. Celebrating? You bet ????

    • Charli Mills

      Thanks, Annette!

  11. Lisa @ The Meaning of Me

    Congratulations one and all! These are wonderful pieces, Hugh, Liz, Jack and C Jai. So glad we get to see not only the winner, but several other entries with judges’ thoughts. Awesome.

    • Liz H

      So happy that Norah got what I was trying to do with non-standard punctuation. It was a fun prompt!

    • Charli Mills

      The entries were fantastic! We’ll be bringing them all together! What a great read that will be!

  12. Sarah Brentyn

    Congrats, Hugh! And congrats, also, to the highly commended stories, as well. I loved these! ????

      • Sarah Brentyn

        😀 Exciting!

    • Charli Mills

      Thanks, Sarah!

  13. Sherri Matthews

    What a wonderful contest you hosted Norah, and I’m so thrilled to see Hugh’s entry as the winner, more so as he is not only a dear friend, but also one of my esteemed judges! I can see you had a hugely difficult task Norah, goodness, what a bar you’ve set! Many congratulations of course to Hugh and to the honourable mentions. Wonderful reads, one and all 🙂

    • Hugh's Views and News

      Thanks so much, Sherri. Looking forward to my judging duties with you. ????

      • Sherri Matthews

        You’re very welcome Hugh and me too, can’t wait! 🙂 xxx

    • Charli Mills

      You chose an award-winning judge to be at your side, Sherri! Thank you!

      • Sherri Matthews

        I did…feels good! 😀 <3

  14. robbiesinspiration

    Congratulations to all the entrants and to the four pieces that are featured in this post. There were so many amazing entries that judging was a difficult task indeed.

    • Charli Mills

      Thank you for judging, Robbie! That is not an easy task!

  15. Colleen Chesebro

    Congratulations, Hugh! I am so impressed with the other writer’s pieces too. Marvelous entries. WOW! <3 <3 <3

    • Charli Mills

      They were all so good! We will be bringing all the entries together!

      • Colleen Chesebro

        I am so impressed with the writing! Glad to be part of the learning. <3

    • Hugh's Views and News

      Thanks so much, Colleen. I can’t believe the news that my story won. It was a complete surprise to me. ????

      • Colleen Chesebro

        Hugh, it was sheer brilliance! You have such a knack for flash fiction. Well deserved. ??????

  16. Marje @ Kyrosmagica

    Fantastic entries, and well done to Hugh. Wonderful. 🙂

  17. Patricia Tilton

    Wonderful entries. Congratulations Hugh! I enjoyed your story — actually all of the stories.

    • Charli Mills

      The greater collection of entries is fantastic! We’ll be compiling them all. Thanks, Patricia!

    • Hugh's Views and News

      Thanks so much, Patricia. It’s a story I’ll always be very proud of.

  18. macjam47

    Congrats to Hugh! I loved your story. The other writers had wonderful stories, as well.

    • Charli Mills

      Thank you! They were all great!

    • Hugh's Views and News

      Thank you, Michelle. I’m so pleased you enjoyed my story. I agree about the other stories. They were all fantastic. The judges had a tough choice to make.

  19. dgkaye

    Congratulations Hugh! And congrats to all. 🙂

    • Hugh's Views and News

      Thanks so much, Debby. This is the first, I hope, of many wins for my writing. ????

      • dgkaye

        I’m sure it is! Fantastic Hugh! 🙂 <3

  20. floridaborne

    I can see why it was so hard to choose. 🙂

    • Charli Mills

      Rodeo #1 was a good bumper crop of stories! They’ll make a fine compilation.

  21. Carol

    All marvellous reads well done to you all and Congratulations Hugh a worthy winner 🙂

    • Hugh's Views and News

      Thanks so much, Carol. I’m over the moon that my story won the contest, although the other entries were wonderful reads as well.

      • Carol

        And so you should be Hugh it is a nice feeling, isn’t it? and yes the others were good 🙂

    • Charli Mills

      Thank you, Carol!

      • Carol

        You are welcome my friend…I hope today is a good one for you. Big hugs x

  22. Adele Marie

    Reblogged this on firefly465 and commented:
    The winner and special commendations from The Carrotranch

    • Charli Mills

      Thanks for sharing, Adele!

      • Adele Marie

        My pleasure. 🙂

  23. susanzutautas

    Congrats to all especially Hugh! Love all three of the stories picked by the judges. Great work!

  24. wordsfromanneli

    Well done, Hugh.

  25. Robert Matthew Goldstein

    Congratulations to Hugh and to those mentioned! Excellent choice.

    • Charli Mills

      Thank you for sharing, Irene!

  26. Irene Waters 19 Writer Memoirist

    Congratulations Hugh. Lovely story. Great to read you feel it has taken your writing to the next level. Congrats also to Liz, C.Jain and Jack and to everyone who took the plunge and entered a story. Thanks Norah and your judges and Charli who made the Rodeo possible.

    • Hugh's Views and News

      Thanks so much Irene, and thanks for sharing the news of all the winners.
      I look forward to hearing the results from the competition you hosted and reading the winning story.

      • Irene Waters 19 Writer Memoirist

        I hadn’t realised how difficult the task was going to be. All stories worthy in their own ways.

  27. Marsha

    Congratulations to all of you, and to all the wonderful people who shared their time in hosting the event. I’m reposting it on Always Write on Friday.

    Beautiful story, Hugh!

    • Hugh's Views and News

      Thank you, Marsha. And thank you for the upcoming share.

      • Marsha

        You’re welcome. Great story, Hugh! 🙂

    • Charli Mills

      Thank you, Marsha!

      • Marsha

        You are welcome, Charli. Looks like lots of fun at Carrot Ranch! 🙂

  28. Kerry E.B. Black

    Congratulations to the winners and to the organizers/judges! Well done!

    • Charli Mills

      Thank you, Kerry!

    • Charli Mills

      Thanks for sharing, Michael!

      • OIKOS™-Redaktion

        With a great pleasure. Thx for the information,

  29. Sharon Bonin-Pratt

    A great prompt and terrific entries. Congratulations to the winners, your stories were wonderfully engaging. I felt for each of your characters.

    • Charli Mills

      Thanks, Sharon!

  30. roughwighting

    What excellent choices. So many great writers out here – I love being able to read them all….

    • Charli Mills

      Lots of great writing corralled at the Ranch! Thanks!

  31. Jane Sturgeon

    What fabulous talent and stories. Congratulations Hugh, Liz, Jack and C Jai. <3 Thanks to the judges too. Wonderful. x

  32. Liesbet

    Congratulations to all the authors mentioned and selected in this post, and to all the others who joined. So hard to create an appealing story with so few words! I thoroughly enjoyed Hugh’s story as well. He has so much talent and something about the way he chooses his words and weaves them into this (and other) narrative(s) is just incredible. Good choice as the winner!

    • Hugh's Views and News

      Thank you so much, Liesbet. I was up against some very tough competition. The judges certainly had a hard task deciding the winners.

    • Charli Mills

      Well said, Liesbet. Thank you!

  33. Teagan R. Geneviene

    Marvelous! Congrats to everyone. Hugs on the wing!

    • Charli Mills

      Thanks, Teagan!

  34. reocochran

    I liked all three of the runners up and liked the winner’s (Hugh’s) entry, too. Each really did concise and evocative entries. This was such an interesting challenge! Smiles, Robin

  35. Charli Mills

    Thanks for sharing!


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