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March 22: Flash Fiction Challenge

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Congress of the Rough Writers, Carrot Ranch, @Charli_Mills


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An inch of brown foam blooms over double scoops of grounds, and I wait 30 seconds before filling the press pot with more boiling water. After five minutes I press the grounds and pour the dark brew into a stainless steel mug, over a small spoonful of Northwoods maple syrup, stirring, stirring, stirring. I pour half and half while the whirlpool in a mug yet spins, and it lightens to tan. My final step is to strike a whole nutmeg thrice.

I have earned my Morning Coffee Badge.

This is a tale of badges and how they arrived at Carrot Ranch to help writers follow their dreams.

My dream is to write from a cloud of inspirational joy. I know what that levitated state feels like — it’s comparable to the snowboarder when wax catches air on a mountain face; it’s the rock climber midway through a 5.9 climb; it’s the first river raft run when only the guides dare to face the rapids. Writing is my adventure. Literary art is my sport.

I always said I’d have a ranch, one day. This wasn’t what I meant when I contemplated how to grow a herd of 300 black Angus or convince my new husband to buy a ramshackle homestead tucked into the shadows of Great Basin mountains. But I was young and thought writing was a part of the dream.

Now I know it is the dream — to write the stories that clutch my heart and to free the characters kicking around the trails of my mind. I want to know how to master words, to make them leap through fiery hoops. I want a reader to feel what I feel as a dreamer. The writing builds the bridge between us. This ranch might not have cattle, but it wrangles more stories than ever rode the dusty drives of the American West.

No matter where I rest my heels or dip my toes, I am always out West for it resides within me. Its transformational imprint doesn’t go away, and over the years its come to color my art in the duns of the desert and the reds of cedar bark. Mix that paint with the blues and greens of the Keweenaw, and I feel…home.

Of course, my virtual sandbox, the place where I play and run barefoot with the literary tribe, has to be a ranch. It is a ranch. Carrot Ranch. Where bacon is appreciated and the day begins with the perfect cup of coffee. This is where literary art is accessible, to you and to me!

But how do we grow such a tribe? From the bloom, it seemed easy — keep writing, keep playing, keep planning. Have you ever nurtured a zucchini plant from seed? It’s a hearty seed full of promise. Press it into the soil beneath a sunny disposition and water frequently with inspiration, and soon you have a bush that drops squash after squash after squash. What do you do when zucchini is abundant?

Diversify and share. Zucchini patties, breakfast bread, chocolate cake, chutney, oven chips, grilled spears, green smoothies and pale soups.

This is how the Rancher Badges came to be. The zucchini is abundant at the Ranch, so we are going to make good use of it. If this is a place where literary art is accessible — and it’s a fun, vibrant and authentic experience — then we can all find good uses for the abundance. We are going to make good of the increase in writers at Carrot Ranch.

Rancher Badges reward community interaction and empower individual writers. The idea is to invite engagement without expectation. It’s also a way to provide structure for each writer because we all have different reasons to be here. The diversity is what makes the Ranch a special place — you make the Ranch a special place!

The program is optional. You don’t have to play. If you do play along, it starts with you setting your sights on which Badges you want to earn. Think of it this way — if we are each here because it’s a stop along the path to follow our dreams, which of these badges will get you there? Which of these badges matters to you? Which badges make you smile? Which badges inspire you to feel a part of the tribe?

You set and track your own goals. Once a quarter (June 1, September 1, December 1, March 1) you will turn in your request for badges. An email or submission form will be posted. Within two weeks, you will receive a digital Badge Board through email. You may keep it private, print it or publically display it on your own blog. You can show it off on social media, or share it with your kids, partner, dogs or cats.

Same badges, new badges, and an annual board. Each year the program will offer a new board and updated badges. You can collect them from year to year, or retire a board when a new year begins. It’s all about how you want to play and show off what you earned. You get to decide what your goals are. The Ranch will reward you for achieving them.


Participation Badges show your involvement in the challenges at the Ranch.

A quarterly star rewards your accumulative flash fiction over three months. You set the goal: once a quarter, once a month; once a week. The idea is to meet your expectations and not that of others. Be your own star!

An ambassador badge rewards your engagement with other Ranchers. If someone is new, welcome them to the Ranch. If someone has been gone a spell, welcome them back. Leave appreciative comments (say what you liked about a flash). Point out good craft. Visit other blogs. How often? How many handshakes? That’s your goal to set.

Writing Badges support your personal writing goals.

Carrot Ranch attracts a variety of writers and has three badges to support different goals. As an author, you can set word count goals or meet deadlines. As a blogger, you can set post goals or participation in other blog challenges. As a poet, you can set goals to write a certain number of poems or master a new technique or style.

The prolific badge rewards the writing habit you most want to cultivate — a number of pages per day, more fiction than non-fiction, word count, number of flash fictions, number of different blogging challenges. If it feels prolific to you, then it is.

The phrase “runs with scissors” is a tongue in cheek way to denote taking a risk. Maybe it terrifies you to submit a story to a contest. Maybe you want to ask others to beta-read, but you feel shy. Maybe you need to write the scene you try to ignore. This badge pushes you to take a writing risk.

Extracurricular Badges encourage you to accept other challenges at the Ranch beyond flash fiction.

Rough Writer and memoirist, Irene Waters, hosts a monthly writing challenge based on memory and includes comparative demographics. She guest writes at Carrot Ranch to teach memoir craft.

Rough Writer and grit lit author, C. Jai Ferry, pushes writers to the dark side of TwitterFlash where literature is carved into tweetable slices. She guest writes at Carrot Ranch to teach Twitter best practices for literary artists.

Raw Literature is an open guest series for any writer from our extended community. The personal essay explores why or how a writer writes. A new guest essay posts on Tuesdays.

If you hang out at the Ranch long enough, you’ll realize I love rocks as much as I love stories. I dreamed up #CarrotRanchRocks in the darkest days of a Keweenaw winter to combine geology with literary art. I’m looking for writers to join me in crafting 99-word stories about rocks which will go forth with a hashtag and a serial number for linking up to its story.

Community Badges recognize the attributes of writers among writers.

Are you social (friends)? Are you shy (lurker)? Let others know where you stand, or challenge yourself to connect more or explore unseen.

Sharing is caring in the blogosphere, and this badge gives you recognition. Teachers are also caring writers among us who like to teach us new words, techniques or challenge themselves to keep a growth mindset.

Just for Fun Badges recognize the playful spirit of writers at Carrot Ranch.

Love bacon? Love carrots? Show your preference (and both counts).

Flash fiction opens up avenues to creativity and trains the brain to problem-solve in 99 words, no more, no less. If you want to push your creativity, set goals, or simply embrace it, this creative badge says it all.

Unicorns. Carrot Ranch. Eventually, you’ll come to understand. In the meantime, if you dare to write a unicorn story, here’s your badge.

Administrative Badges identify community leaders.

The Congress of Rough Writers is the core group of this literary community. A small advisory team who leads the annual Rodeo form the leadership behind the scenes. Those who participated in Vol. 1 contributed to the book earning 5 stars from Readers’ Favorite.

How to earn Rancher Badges:

  1. Decide which badges best match how you want to participate at the Ranch as a writer.
  2. Set your own goals to further your writer’s journey.
  3. Keep track of your goals.
  4. Once a quarter (June 1, September 1, December 1, March 1) submit your request for badges.
  5. Within two weeks you will receive a board (or two) with your badges to display at will.

In addition to badges, we have another important change in process for the flash fiction challenges. I once said that my limit for collecting flash would be 50. We’ve exceeded that, and I’ve been thinking through my process for collecting and how it could change.

Right now, the way I collect keeps me from my own ranch. If I engage over the course of the week, I lose my place with the way pingbacks, links, and comments popuate. That’s why I ride in on Wednesdays and burn the 3 a.m. oil.

I’ve considered different ways, but I don’t want to diminish the interactive vibe we have going on or the level of diversity.

Before the participation bloomed as robust as zucchini, I collected stories on the Carrot Ranch Facebook page. This allowed me to apply the CR style and clear the formatting. But the back and forth became too much.  I will now ask all writers who want to be included in the weekly collection to post stories at following the CR style:

Title in Title Caps by Pen Name or Author Name

99-word flash fiction


Short link if applicable (use

Notes to editor: such as italics or centering of poetry

This step is in addition to linking, ping-backing or leaving your story in the comments. I’m asking you to take this step to help free up my process so I can be more interactive throughout the week. There is no need for anyone to comment on stories on FB. Keep the comments here and/or directly on shared blog links. It’s okay if you don’t understand the style, but it reduces my workload if you follow it.

The reason Carrot Ranch has a style is for editorial consistency. Each country of origin retains its own spelling and punctuation except for the title and byline. I’ll be reminding each of you in the comments.

If you are allergic to Facebook, a ludite or worried about Russian interference, please use the Contact Form as an alternative.

Now to play!

March 22, 2018, prompt: In 99 words (no more, no less) write a story using the theme “follow your dreams.” Bonus points for throwing a badge into the tale. Go where the prompt leads.

  • Respond by March 27, 2018, by leaving a link, pingback or story in the comments.
  • If you want your story published in the weekly collection, also post it at Carrot Ranch on Facebook in the post newsfeed (this is the second posting of your story).
  • Follow the style of the flash fiction that follows.
  • Leave a short link on FB with your story if you want one included in the title.
  • Rules are here.


Comanche by Charli Mills

Follow your dreams, they said. So, he stomped dry dust up the Kickapoo Trace into Missouri, dodging the likes of Jesse James. He was handsome, strong and nicknamed Comanche. In St. Louis he gathered with the rest, seeking fortunes west, avoiding the plow. He had dreams. The Army picked only the best, and he stood tall and proud, selected for service. Outfitted with Captain Keogh of the 7th, he marched wild and free. That’s how he felt, living the dream. Until he took seven bullets on Custer’s Battlefield. And lived. The only survivor, the handsome brown-eyed mustang from Texas.



  1. Ritu says:

    I need to sit and digest this Lol!
    So we write.. . We post… we share post link to the Ranch FB page with the flash title… am I getting that right? 🤗

    Liked by 5 people

    • Norah says:

      I think, Ritu, that you can post your story and link here in the comments as we have always done. But now, if you wish to have your story included in the compilation, you post the story (not just the link) in the CR FB post newsfeed. It should look just like Charli’s flash does. She did it as an example (though I couldn’t find it on FB) :).
      I hope I’ve got that right. Good luck.

      Liked by 5 people

    • Charli Mills says:

      I hear you, Ritu! I’ve been working on this since mid January, trying to answer the question of how to grow and keep it fun.

      Thanks for asking for clarification as I’m sure others are thinking about it, too.

      I’m asking reach of you to do what you have been doing — share a link, pingback, or flash fiction here in the comments. Same as “usual.”

      Then, if you want to be published in the weekly collection, post your flash fiction with title, byline, story and shortlink on the Carrot Ranch Facebook page.

      It’s an extra step and I realize it will take getting used to, but it’ll help me streamline how to gather all the stories. And people can self-select — maybe not everyone wants to be published.

      That’s the idea, but please ask more questions or point out something I might have missed!

      The badges are a way to say thanks to those of you who help spread the good vibes at the Ranch and also give each of you tools to empower your individual writing goals.

      Liked by 1 person

      • Ritu says:

        I’ve posted on the page as a post. Or would it be better to post the fiction piece with all the requirements in your comments for the prompt? Maybe pin that post to the top each week until Wednesday? Just an idea xxxx

        Liked by 2 people

      • Charli Mills says:

        That’s a good idea, Ritu! I’m discovering some FB issues I hadn’t anticipated and I think next week we’ll go with using a form. At least I feel freed up to comment without the worry of losing my place collecting.

        Liked by 1 person

      • Charli I have just submitted via a form but when it comes to a short link I only know the link that is at the top of the page I post on and although it isn’t long it isn’t short either. Is there another place to go to get a short link?
        I will use the form rather than facebook at the moment.

        Liked by 3 people

      • Charli Mills says:

        No shortlinks after this week.


  2. Facebook doesn’t work for me, so I will be using the Contact Form as an alternative. Kim

    Liked by 3 people

    • Charli Mills says:

      That’s fine, Kim! I don’t want to put a comment form in every post because the are spam magnets, so just go to the contact page. Thanks!

      Liked by 3 people

      • Hello Mr Mills. I am intestrested in this presuit of dreaming and gold setting. i can help you and for only little bite of BiTCHcoin.
        we candei;ver to you grosses of baDjis, vinttag from 2nd worldWar. You think mabe i Putin you on! also yo mite be intrersted in cases of spam from same error. Mistr Mill, Charles, youd be fuel to not take thas deal. You are needing many meny batjhes, you want your peepl looking feeling all good got selfesteamed. Garenteed best badjes on market best price plus for our longstood relations free case of surpluss spam.

        Liked by 4 people

      • Norah says:

        This is actually a response to N.C. Oh no, I’ve just realised that I have matching initials with the spammer. But that’s all I have in common. That’s one clever piece of work. I don’t know how the spell check lets it through – Grammarly surely wouldn’t!

        Liked by 1 person

      • Charli Mills says:

        D., u Putin me on and make me laugh!

        Liked by 1 person

      • I am an imposter. I know nothing of the original Nanjo. Glad to have you all giggling with this imitation.

        Liked by 1 person

  3. Norah says:

    OMG Charli. Your brain has been a-buzzing. All those badges! You are so clever. I hope your new plan does ease your workload. I have been noticing it increasing from week to week and have wondered at your ability to keep on going. It’s great to keep the style consistent in the compilation and, since I have done the compilation once or twice, I know how difficult it is to grab people’s stories from their posts or the comments and present them all as one. When I did it, there weren’t nearly as many stories. I think it’s great too, because it encourages all of us to think a little more deeply about our goals for hanging out at the Ranch and to take a little more responsibility for our participation. What you are asking of us requires little more of us individually, but will, hopefully lighten your workload and allow you more time to work on both your novels which I am getting anxious to read. I hope this new plans helps you achieve your dream much sooner.
    Comanche – lovely story. When the identity was revealed in the last few words, I had to go back and reread for all the clues. A clever piece and a lovely tribute to one who wore the badge of honour with pride. Seven bullets and survived! Wow!

    Liked by 11 people

    • Charli Mills says:

      Brain buzz! I feel good about the badges because it can help individual writers work on their own development as a writer and yet tie it back to their participation at the Ranch. Collecting and commenting has been a challenge, but I also feel better knowing that we can find a way to make the collection more submission-oriented but still maintain the discussions and interactions here and on other blogs. Already FB is proving tricksy — I think I will go with the form next week. I’m writing! I would be in an unfulfilled place if all I did was novel work. I love writing and researching novels, but my true passion is the literary art itself and sharing it with others. I get to have my carrot cake and eat it too this way! And, what a horse, right? Seven bullets and arrows, too. But I understand it’s a myth that Comanche was a lone survivor. Other horses lived, too, but he became an icon afterward. Funny how that story bubbled. I was thinking I wanted to write about a horse with dreams and then Comanche showed up.

      Liked by 3 people

      • Norah says:

        I hope all the new plans work out, Charli. I’m not surprised there are some initial glitches. Isn’t that how things go?
        So pleased to hear you are writing. You must have infinite energy. It’s good to be able to have your carrot cake and eat it too. That sounds like an endless carrot cake – would go well with a bottomless cup of coffee. 🙂
        Comanche is an amazing horse. I’m so pleased he showed up, and even more pleased that he chose you to write about him. I didn’t realise it was based upon a true story.

        Liked by 1 person

      • Charli Mills says:

        Bottomless coffee and endless carrot cake! That’ll get us through anything! I had forgotten about Comanche until I started to write with a horse in mind. We must have endless archives in our minds, too!

        Liked by 1 person

    • Norah says:

      Hi Charli, I’m back with my contribution this week, Of Dreams and Nightmares. I used the Contact form to submit. I hope that’s okay. I’d love my story to be included in the compilation, please.

      Liked by 2 people

  4. ellenbest24 says:

    I love the flash it is somehow poetic and gathered its own speed. Nicely penned. I’ve been away ( unwell) a while and was hoping to dip my toes back in at the ranch, I need simple rules straightforwardness as my head isn’t always able to make sense. So I will try digesting the changes that have confused me at first glance. 😯😕

    Liked by 4 people

    • Charli Mills says:

      Hi Ellen, welcome back! Hope you are feeling better. I agree I think trying to explain the formatting AND FB is too much. Also, FB is not posting visitor posts the way I thought they would be visible. Use the contact form! That’s what I’ll go to next week. And I’ll have a page with all the badges by next week, too. It’s meant to be fun!

      Liked by 2 people

  5. Annecdotist says:

    Wow, Charli, you certainly dream big! The Ranch has blossomed far and wide and I appreciate your need for an easier way of collating the responses to the prompt. But I can’t help wondering if the time you might save will be eaten up by assembling the badge boards.
    I like your analogy with growing cucurbits and squashes, especially in celebrating the glut even as it overwhelms us. I have a short story about growing a courgette (zucchini) in my forthcoming short story anthology.
    I’ll be back tomorrow with my flash.

    Liked by 6 people

  6. jenanita01 says:

    We appreciate the need to simplify things, as we are attempting similar feats at the moment! Hope you get on better than we seem to be doing…

    Liked by 3 people

  7. What a fun way to encourage goal setting, Charli. I like maple syrup in my coffee, too, and drooled as I read about how you earn your morning coffee badge. “Writing is my adventure. Literary art is my sport.” Yes! It is such an adventure to me, too, and CR has helped ignite a new spark for me – fiction writing. Love your flash this week – I had to read it twice, too, to see how I missed the Comanche’s identity clues the first time. I am so lucky to hang out with the likes of you and the other terrific writers on the ranch. I hope the new system makes like easier for you. Now to start thinking about ‘follow your dreams.’

    Liked by 5 people

    • Charli Mills says:

      Oh, maple syrup is the best in coffee! On Fridays, I go to a veteran spouses group and I bring my mug with maple syrup already in it. I’m so glad you are here to share your writing adventure. I think FB is not working out. A dud already! But the contact form is good and I will make it easier to follow next week. I look forward to your flash!

      Liked by 2 people

  8. I love all these badges, Charli. I have been away for a bit but do still want to try and improve my FF writing. I hope it will be ok to dip in and out as and when I get the chance to do so. 🙂

    Liked by 4 people

  9. […] have been away from blogging for a while and have missed taking part in Charli’s Flash Fiction Challenge, over at the Carrot Ranch. Go and check out her website as there are lots of challenges that you […]

    Liked by 1 person

    • Jules says:

      Excellent! I had a friend I had to take to an Chem appointment a few years back – I wrote a poem about it. Thought it might help others… now I have to find it and maybe share it too.


  10. Ann Edall-Robson says:

    Wonderful!! I really mean that word when I say it. A tremendous endeavour to encourage and reward. I have now taken a screen shot of all the badges and nestled them safely in my Carrot Ranch file while I ponder which will be the most challenging for me to go after.

    Simplicity is a blessing in disguise and I am pleased to see you moving in the direction of simplifying the robust involvement at the ranch and elsewhere. The CRFB (Carrot Ranch Facebook) column has been added to my posting spreadsheet to remind me of one more place I need to send my 99-words.

    A spreadsheet? “Damn Straight!” It keeps me on target and online. Lets me see where I am not pulling my weight and where I am being overactive in the social media world.

    And now onto thoughts of this week’s challenge, with memories and lyrics of the spinning vinyl playing Johnny Horton’s song – Commanche the Brave Horse. Definately a classic.

    Liked by 7 people

  11. janmalique says:

    Wow! This looks like a treasure trove. I will need to scrutinise the contents slowly and carefully. I will participate.

    Liked by 5 people

  12. calmkate says:

    very creative and attractive badges Charli, great idea 🙂

    Liked by 4 people

  13. Pete says:

    Josefina ran home after school, her thoughts bouncing with her bookbag against her back. The whole class was abuzz. They were planning a field trip to go see the monuments in Washington.

    Josefina knocked. She admired her new honor roll badge. Her mother opened the door.

    “Mom, we’re going on—”

    “Silencio! Your sisters are napping.”

    Josefina whispered, but the excitement roared back as she broke the news. “I just need my social security number, and—”

    Her mother took a sharp breath. He shoulders slumped. “No. I’m sorry.”

    “Mom, what do you mean?”

    Josefina’s sisters began to cry.

    Liked by 15 people

  14. Frank Hubeny says:

    Follow Your Dreams by Frank Hubeny

    Scorn them with your thoughts. It’s safe. No one knows.

    No one believes thoughts can kill. No one believes empaths exist. No one thinks they can know another’s hate. If their hearts break, it’s their own hearts’ failure. If they can no longer forgive, that’s better.

    Janet’s dream guardians told her to follow them, “Smile. Sit tall. Take deep, slow breaths. Play your dream songs.”

    Janet put on her headphones. She set the player to keep repeating the sacred love songs.

    When the hate came, the empath and her dreams were ready. Until they fell, they mirrored love back.

    Liked by 15 people

  15. Oh I am love with the handsome brown-eyed mustang from Texas! Wonderful flash and what a fantastic selection of badges. They remind me of my Brownie badges and I haven’t earned one of them in a very long time 🙂 You’ve been incredibly hard at work Charli, and I’m so glad you’ve devised a system to alleviate the load. Just to clarify, from now on, we set our goals and which badges we want to earn and make our first submission on June 1st? One more thing, I just took a look at CR FB page as it occurred to me that I haven’t seen anything of it in my FB feed for ages. Double checked I’ve liked it, following it and got it on my ‘see first’ list – yes to all three. But I took a quick scroll down a long line of posts and I haven’t seen any of them, hence my lack of engagement there. So now at least you know it hasn’t been intentional 😦 As an aside, I’ve noticed on my public FB page the number of views is very small now, with a constant suggestion to pay to boost my posts. I’ve been reading this is a problem with FB now. Anybody know why I’m not seeing CR’s FB posts in my feed despite ticking the above three boxes? Will return with my flash…keeping the dream alive 🙂 ❤

    Liked by 3 people

    • Charli Mills says:

      Historic photos of Comanche show his big brown eyes. He was a beautiful horse. And yes, Brownie badges! Very similar. The idea is that you can pick which ones you want to earn according to the goals you have for your own writing, blogging or community engagement. And you are correct — the first call to submit badge requests will be June 1. Some, of course, is a given, such as the administrative badges, but it’s entirely up to you which ones you want.

      FB newsfeeds are an algorithm mystery. I have similar settings and often it doesn’t seem to make a difference. FB is also proving difficult as it is placing visitor posts in a sidebar under the posts tab. But the contact page is proving easier for me to find, and I can set it up each week without trying to train everybody in style guides! 😀 When you come back with a flash, post it here and in the contact form.

      Keep the dream alive! ❤

      Liked by 3 people

      • So when we apply for our badges in July – we know which ones we’ve earnt because we have been keeping our own record of our involvement or are we just going to say I’d like whichever and you decide if we’ve earnt it. Sorry just a little confused although I love the idea of badges. I’m goal oriented so having something to work to is right up my alley.

        Liked by 2 people

      • I am sure I read a story about Comanche once, but for some reason it’s not clear where or when, but I’ve always been fascinated by him and absolutely loved your flash Charli. You are the Wild West and with writing like this, you take me home 🙂 Thank you for confirming the badge info, how proud we’ll all be displaying our wall of badges! And for the FB update, duly noted. Dream and write! I’ll flash tomorrow! ❤

        Liked by 2 people

      • Charli Mills says:

        Irene, the idea is to individually use the badges as incentives to set goals. I included different areas of development and made them flexible so you can each set and track your own. I hope writers will find it an empowering experience.


  16. denmaniacs4 says:

    The Pretend Sheriff of Butternut Island

    Bill Engleson

    That summer, gosh, it must have been ’81 or ’82, we were tossing back some brew on the deck of the Sparkling Water Tavern, looking out on the sea.

    The sun was sizzling, slapping off the ocean like bright stones spinning.

    Darius wandered in, gold Roy Rogers deputy sheriffs badge pinned to his red plaid shirt.

    I suppose there was always a chance that crime would break out on Butternut.

    “Streets quiet, Deputy?” some wise-ass weekender asked.

    Darius held it together. “Long as folks respect the law,” he answered.

    Wise-ass wanted to say more.

    Thing was, he’d been bested.

    Liked by 10 people

  17. Ritu says:

    Well, here’s mine Charli… going to attempt to post in the FB page now too!

    Liked by 6 people

  18. Badgered

    “Kid, I kin hear yer dang harrumphin’ halfway ta the corral.”
    “I ain’t goin’ ta the corral, not via no dang Face Book.”
    “Well, don’t then, use the contact form. Look, Kid, I bunk with ya, so I kin smell ya don’t like change, but this here’s good. The Ranch is growin’, Kid, Shorty’s dreams are growin’. Ain’t that some change ya kin pocket?”
    “Well, if’n it helps Shorty. T’ain’t much of a chore, really.”
    “Many ranch hands make light work. Maybe ya kin even git a badge.”
    “Git deputized? I ain’t inta badges.”
    “Ya sure do badger me.”

    Liked by 10 people

  19. Jennie says:

    This is terrific!

    Liked by 2 people

  20. […] Carrot Ranch Challenge – please share how you’ve followed your dream? […]

    Liked by 3 people

  21. OMG! I love the idea of earning badges, Charli!! I never got to be a girl scout but hey, I want to be a literary star, now. LOL! Love it. The link for our posts is a great idea. ❤

    Liked by 2 people

    • Charli Mills says:

      Yay, Colleen! You get to be a literary star now! And you can earn all three writer badges — set goals for your book writing, your poetry, and blogging. Starting next week, I’m going to add the submission form. That will make it easier for everyone. FB is not posting the way I thought they would.

      Liked by 2 people

  22. […] March 22: Flash Fiction Challenge […]

    Liked by 3 people

  23. Render by D. Avery

    “It’s too tight”, Marlie complained as her mother hurriedly strapped her into her car seat. Today she’d made her mother late because she’d been absorbed watching a moth ensnared in a spider web, hopelessly struggling, its wings rendered useless.
    Craft time was underway when Marlie arrived. She saw what the others were doing and quickly got herself some sticks and yarn too. Her thoughts swam in the colorful weave of her careful work.
    “Nice, Marlie. It looks like a spider web. It’s a Dream Catcher.”
    Marlie paused, then loosened the yarn, undid each wrap and weave, dismantled her creation.

    Liked by 8 people

  24. Nicole says:

    I may have messed this all up again – either not submitted correctly at all or submitted too many places and times. Thanks for patience – I promise I will learn this!

    Liked by 7 people

  25. calmkate says:

    this is mine, not really into FB, sorry 🙂

    Liked by 8 people

  26. […] (conceive), pass (succumb), red (puce); and also, Carrot Ranch, Flash Fiction Challenge – March 22, 2018. Task: In 99 words (no more, no less) write a story using the theme “follow your dreams.” Bonus […]

    Liked by 2 people

  27. […] purposes, obviously).  Before I do though, I wanted to put down my 99 word story for this weeks Carrot Ranch prompt […]

    Liked by 1 person

  28. tintins says:

    Hi Charli,

    My story inspired by this weeks word prompt:

    Off to FB now.

    Liked by 6 people

  29. Juliet says:

    Good day Charli and the Jolly Ranchers,
    I have recently been wondering how you go through all the comments and sort through the stories to get them all into the Wednesday collection. My brain was boggling at how you managed it! So an easier way is definitely needed.
    I am totally allergic to Facebook (more so than ever now) maybe something of a Luddite (although I would never dream of smashing up my pet iPad) and it’s not just Russian interference that worries me 😉, so I’m glad the contact form option is maybe going to save the day.
    I’ll have to reread through all the badge options to see what might be good for me. You are so creative Ms Mills!
    Anyway, here is my offering this week and I’ll drop it into the form later. Not sure what brought this one on….


    Its silver beams had lit up his room in Wapakoneta for as long as he could remember.
    First crossing his small wooden crib, they now wandered over the checkered quilt made especially for his new Big Boy bed.
    He was intrigued by the sphere, struck by its capacity to change shape every single night.
    He wouldn’t close his eyes until he had gazed at it long enough for the shadowy patterns to imprint themselves on his young, bright brain.
    “Come on, honey. It’s time for bed. Stop looking at the moon now. You know you’ll never go there, Neil.”

    Liked by 10 people

  30. Jules says:

    Before I even look into posting a story… I have to say I am more confused at the infusion of everything. I’ve done about everything there is a badge for. I write every week (at least one post so how would making the goal be any different?) I don’t now how to include badges, much less a badge board. So I guess that would be a private thing… unless I create a new blog just for Carrot Ranch posts? I’ve already got three working blogs. Oy!

    And I don’t understand FB at all. So I’m just going to post my stories in the comments… and in the contact form too? Is that what you are saying?

    Off to the ‘dream’…

    Cheers and good luck to everyone old and new. ~Jules (the completely confounded and confused.)

    Liked by 2 people

    • Confounded and confused? There’s a badge for that.
      In just a little while everything is going to be all right.

      Liked by 3 people

      • Jules says:

        ….and the only thing I was looking for a while back was a little embroidered patch for my jacket that said I was a buckaroo for Carrot Ranch… is this all my fault??? Highly unlikely cause the Boss is just so clever… 😉

        Liked by 2 people

    • Charli Mills says:

      This might be your fault, Jules because I started working on a badge and it kind of snowballed. I think you should have badges to show all you do at the Ranch. I already have something in mind for you, so don’t fret it. Keep track of the ones that are meaningful to you. If you want a C&C badge, I’ll make one of those, too!

      Next week, we’ll use the form to submit to the collection. We use the comments to share links and interact. Thanks for muddling through. It will clear up and make more sense…eventually!

      Liked by 1 person

      • Jules says:

        (hmm…. I thought so… a single “Patch” turned into umpteen badges. C & C I have to go back and look that up… Buckaroo Nation at Carrot Ranch = a feather in a Stetson? Oooh with a Carrot in as the pen itself?) I’ll have to send you a drawing….) 😀

        Liked by 1 person

      • Jules says:

        Ah C & C – confounded and confused. I like that. We need to give credit where it is due though as I think it was D. Avery who ‘coined’
        “Buckaroo Nation”… Just saying, I can’t take all the blame 😉

        Liked by 1 person

  31. susanzutautas says:

    Wow, this week there’s a lot to take in. I’ll have to come back and read this a few times 🙂
    Here is my flash for this week. It’s been awhile I know but finally wrote something 🙂

    Liked by 7 people

  32. […] March 22: Flash Fiction Challenge March 22, 2018, prompt: In 99 words (no more, no less) write a story using the theme “follow your dreams.” Bonus points for throwing a badge into the tale – New words: mendacity & . Go where the prompt leads. (also used an additional prompt from another site) […]

    Liked by 1 person

  33. Jules says:

    Oh, to dream… a bit like visualization – we will succeed! Just like that horse did, eh Charli!

    I did submit to the contact form. But I’m not sure about that short link thing…

    Anyway for the rest of you… and the vocabulary words are at my site – title links you there:
    Valuable Vagary

    Do writers lean towards mendacity? Lunging with vocabulary,
    imagining everyone will fill in the gaps, while they blush in the
    shadows at their cleverness?

    Do writers call the unattainable goals they follow dreams? And
    yet some dreams do come true. Words end up in print. Others
    spy through internet glasses and peak at the peacock preening.

    It really isn’t that way is it? Fiction isn’t fact, though there might
    be some threads of truth. And even a peacock needs to eat,
    and showing off does get some attention.

    Writers are people too. Please show em some love, won’t you?


    Liked by 8 people

  34. -Eugenia says:

    What a brilliant idea! This was a mighty task, Charli. I commend you for it.

    Liked by 1 person

  35. Deferment by D. Avery

    All schoolmates, they were drinking, again. Billy was talking again about how he was going to go out west, see the sights, settle down in California and grow grapes, run a vineyard.
    “Jeezus, Billy, you still on that? You and Stevie- ‘We’re gonna have a vineyard, get rich farmin’ wine’-”
    “Whatever happened to Stevie?”
    The bartender, their former coach, laughed, showed them a bottle. “Look at the label.”
    “I’ll be damned.”
    “Shit.” Billy guzzled the rest of his beer, grunting as he stiffly got to his feet. “Gotta get back to the wife and kids.”
    “See ya tomorrow, Billy.”

    Liked by 7 people

  36. ShiftnShake says:

    […]  celebratory vibe continues this week at the ranch, where dreams are coming true. Carrot Ranch March 22, 2018, prompt: In 99 words (no more, no less) write a story using the theme “follow your dreams.” […]

    Liked by 1 person

  37. […] Ranch shared her passion, determination an joy to follow her dream. Please read her exciting story here. With no surprise, the March 22 Flash Fiction Challenge is: Follow Your […]

    Liked by 1 person

  38. Thank you, Charli to share your story of following your dream. I’ve been writing my story of following my dream. It’s too long because I had many mountain tops and deep valleys moments. I may have to write in three parts. I had a good conversation with Irene.
    For the flash fiction this week, I want to say about what I described in this flash fiction. I did have the second level of a dream many times as recent as two weeks ago. I use to fly in my dream in my younger age, but not in many years. I studied counseling as well as education, and I tried not to analyze my dreams. Haha!
    I read through all the descriptions of the badges and read many comments here. You have been working very hard. You are softhearted to accept beyond your limit of 50 entries. Thank you for letting me in.
    I’ll try to post it on CarrotRanchFacebook. Let me read the instruction one more time before doing it. I’ve been very ill, started with fever 103.8 on Monday, and checked in to ER on Friday night and be admitted. Will be discharged on Sunday though. I’m glad. I can never sleep in the hospital.

    Here’s my entry:

    Liked by 5 people

  39. […] This week’s prompt: “Follow Your Dreams” – Why not join the 99-word Carrot Ranch Challenge yourself? […]

    Liked by 1 person

  40. Matt Copping says:

    Here’s my first ever attempt at flash fiction =)

    Liked by 7 people

  41. This one inspired me. In a really scary way! And it was fun to write. Hope it’s enjoyed.


    “Follow your dreamsss……that’s what he doesss” it rasped.

    “…Who?” I queried, a chill running down my spine.

    “The Dreamstalker…..he hunts in dreamsss…”

    “Never heard of him……. anyway… I must be onward” I said, trying to sound determined but instead letting more than a small quiver into my voice.

    “YOU CANNOT HIDE FROM THE DREAMSTALKER!” The thing roared in anger and warning.

    I swallowed dryly. “What happens if he gets in your dreams?”

    A frighteningly cruel smile curled across its repulsive face. “thisss….. is my favorite part”.

    Terrified, I asked “what is?”

    “The part where I wake you”…

    Liked by 7 people

  42. […] March 22: Flash Fiction Challenge […]

    Liked by 3 people

  43. […] via March 22: Flash Fiction Challenge « Carrot Ranch Literary Community […]

    Liked by 3 people

  44. […] March 22: Flash Fiction Challenge […]

    Liked by 1 person

  45. Sorry FB didn’t work out, Charli. Hopefully the form next week will work out. In the meantime I’ll try to post the way you suggested to see if it is easier for you. I took the photo I used for my featured image on my blog post of this, the day before you published the prompt. And then I build my story around it. Such fun!

    Following the dream – Molly Stevens

    Ron’s head pounded and his hands trembled recalling last night’s combative email exchange. He knew the client and manufacturer would need someone to blame and he was a convenient target.

    He crept out of the house without disturbing his wife and boys, leaving two hours before morning chaos erupted.

    He tailgated the gray Kia, distracted by attempts to read the vanity license plate.

    Brake lights. The crunch of metal. And a close-up view.


    The badge was at eye level when he opened his window.

    “Where are you going in such a hurry, mister?”

    “Just following the dream, officer.”


    Liked by 6 people

  46. Ann Edall-Robson says:

    Badge of Courage
    By Ann Edall-Robson

    It takes courage to share your words with the world. Nothing is written in stone saying you have to go any further than letting family and friends read your work. But, let’s say you decide to throw caution to the wind. Climbing that hill to see what’s on the other side. Wouldn’t it be fun knowing there are places waiting for you that don’t judge your words? Places that welcome you, encouraging you in your journey to follow your dreams. Where you can wear your badge of courage with pride. Such a place exists. Welcome to the Carrot Ranch.


    Liked by 6 people

  47. Reblogged this on Annette Rochelle Aben and commented:
    Saddle up, and ride to the Carrot Ranch! Have some, “write good” fun!

    Liked by 3 people

  48. susansleggs says:

    Wow Charli, love the badges. Your creativity gives all of us another way to reach our dreams. Sorry the FB didn’t work but am glad the contact form will lessen your load.

    Gotta’ Follow My Own Dream
    by Susan Sleggs

    Angry white caps filled the Puget Sound waterway I could see. The wind howled and rain was going sideways. The fury matched what I expected from my father when I told him I had decided to follow my own dream of becoming a pilot in the Air Force. Especially since he expected me to become a doctor like family tradition deemed. The storm also matched my own emotions how my decision would affect my mother. In no way did I want to hurt her but I felt she would understand and accept what was best for me. Sorry Mom.

    Liked by 9 people

  49. […] Charli’s prompt this week, in her own words, was: […]

    Liked by 1 person

  50. Phew, that’s a LOT of new information to process Charli, even for you I’m sure 🙂 Here’s my entry for this week, will try to upload it on FB also:

    Liked by 5 people

  51. […] Carrot Ranch Flash Fiction […]

    Liked by 1 person


    I wake after little sleep. Only hours ago, I walked the lonely aisles populated by night dwellers. “You look how I feel,” the cashier had said, voicing my thoughts before I’d worked out how to speak.

    Today’s my child’s birthday. Mentally, I list what needs completion: cleaning, baking, decorating, dinner, church, children.

    Husband stretches and wraps an arm around me. “I’ve gotta go,” he coos. “Choir rehearsal this morning.” Surprised, I check my calendar.

    Someone has posted a quote about making life what you will. Follow your dreams.

    I rise groggily from the bed. A busy day awaits.

    Liked by 7 people

  53. You have been busy Charli but hopefully when the teething problems are done with you’ll find life on the ranch a little easier. I have to admit it has been lovely seeing you back here. You were being missed but the reason was understood.
    The badges I will have to sit and peruse.
    Your flash – wonderful.

    Liked by 5 people

    • Charli Mills says:

      Teething problems — a good way to put it! I got snowed under over at FB and in emails, but I think I have it sorted. It felt good to wander the Ranch and know the stories were getting collected (well, up until I realized FB had glitches). Thanks, Irene!

      Liked by 1 person

    • Jules says:

      I was a Girl Scout briefly. I did all the driving and was even a Den Mother for my boys in their Scouting. One took to it, the other didn’t. Each had different dreams and I think they both succeeded.

      Now I’m just walking miles with my fingers… And some of my dreams are coming true too. 🙂

      A kind heart is always a wonderful present.

      Liked by 1 person

  54. […] Carrot Ranch Flash Fiction Challenge: Follow Your Dreams […]

    Liked by 3 people

  55. Deb Whittam says:

    Sorry, totally lost by all of this – I’ve just done a pingback this week – sorry for any inconvenience

    Liked by 2 people

  56. jenanita01 says:

    Brilliant theme this week, Charli… and here is Anita’s contribution!

    Liked by 4 people

  57. […] Carrot Ranch Prompt (03/22/2018): In 99 words (no more, no less) write a story using the theme “follow your dreams.” Bonus points for throwing a badge into the tale. Go where the prompt leads. […]

    Liked by 1 person

  58. Liz H says:

    Here’s my bit…will try the contact form as I don’t quite get what a short link is all about… 😮

    Lotta at 22

    Lotta Du Charms relished the feel of canvas around her legs, leather and horseflesh between her thighs…

    Liked by 3 people

    • Charli Mills says:

      Contact form works best, as I’ve discovered this week. Ugh. Don’t ask about the short link — it was to solve a known problem on FB, but too many unknowns, as well. LOVE me some Oklahoma Lotta! My kind of western flavor.

      Liked by 1 person

      • Liz H says:

        FB gettin’ pretty trippy…but we knew, underneath it all, data privacy is a myth, rolled in a mystery, wrapped in cabbage leaves and sprinkled with the dust of our most-secret enemies…(sigh).

        Liked by 1 person

      • Charli Mills says:

        Brilliant description of FB mystery cabbage! As a marketer, I know that data mining can be benign when trust and transparency matter to your customers or clients. It’s a relationship based on permission and benefit. You tell me your zip code and I better understand the region my business serves. NOT, you give me your zip code and I sell your soul to the Russians.

        Also, as a marketer, I knew that anything I placed on a social media platform would be public. I never thought of social media as “private.” However, I never thought of data mining going so far as to access social relationships and gain data without permission. Then to consider the psychological abuse of using personality factors to control the thinking of vulnerable (fear-based) people. Wow — stinky cabbage leaves with secret enemy sauce! Unethical to the extreme, even for the sleaziest of marketers.


  59. […] and write some flash fiction at […]

    Liked by 1 person

  60. I worked hard to get my rock badge, Charli. I love all the badges. Here is my flash piece: Thanks for all you do! ❤

    Liked by 5 people

  61. Michael B. Fishman says:

    I think I’d like to write a 99-word story about rocks when the time comes. I’m taking a Facebook break so here’s mine. I think I made the shorter link correctly –

    Liked by 2 people

  62. […] You can join in this challenge here: […]

    Liked by 1 person

  63. Her Dream’s Edge by Kay Kingsley

    She followed this dream to the edge, one she never thought existed and couldn’t comprehend, like the vastness of the cosmos, and yet after such a long journey of total transformation, she stands at its precipice.

    Every end is a beginning and the sadness of perpetual change walks silently beside her, nudging her towards the cliffs edge. Comforted by its inevitability yet frustrated at her lack of choice, she approaches with fatigued enthusiasm.

    Is this the beginning of greatness or the end of the best of her, a moment she will forever chase like a dream fading at dawn?

    Liked by 7 people

  64. […] March 22: Flash Fiction Challenge […]

    Liked by 3 people

  65. […] This week at the Carrot Ranch, Charli Mills challenged writers to In 99 words (no more, no less) write a story using the theme “follow your dreams.” Bonus points … […]

    Liked by 2 people

  66. […] in response to Carrot Ranch’s Flash Fiction Challenge. Check it […]

    Liked by 1 person

  67. wallietheimp says:

    Here’s Wallie and my response. “Tea, Biscuits, and Trolls” —

    Liked by 6 people

  68. […] hope I made the deadline for Carrot Ranch’s 99-word story prompt. Backstory: This was an argument that my mother and father had. I submitted a […]

    Liked by 1 person

  69. PTSD Gal says:

    I hope I’m not too late. I enjoy writing these prompts very much.

    Liked by 4 people

  70. […] in response to the 99-word flash fiction challenge with the theme of ‘Follow Your Dreams‘ over at the Carrot […]

    Liked by 3 people

  71. This week I wanted to show that following your dreams doesn’t always have to be about a career or a relationship. My character dreams of being himself. I wanted the badge to be a badge of honor instead of a real badge.

    Liked by 6 people

  72. Oh boy, I need to process all of this! Lots to think about – but great! I’ll be back, hopefully in the nick of time later tonight. Crazy day. Crazy week.

    Liked by 1 person

  73. If I have this right, I’m posting my flash here and then on the contact form…I just realised though I didn’t throw in a badge (or maybe, using my imagination there might be one on the waitresses uniform, but that’s pushing it!). Thanks for keeping the dream alive Charli 🙂 ❤

    Breakfast in America

    Paula shuffled over to the counter. ‘How d’ya want yer eggs honey, easy over, sunny side up?’

    ‘Scrambled and a side of pancakes, and make it snappy, will ya?’

    Paula sniffed as she poured his coffee. ‘Kinda grumpy today ain’t yer?’

    Detective Johnny Johnson lit a Marlboro and sighed. ‘Sorry Paula, some broad got me on the run, that’s all…’

    ‘Aww…and I there thought I was yer broad…you know, the one of yer dreams.’

    Johnny smiled, the first time in days. ‘Yeah, you’re my broad…’

    I closed my book and dreamed of waking up to pancakes and maple syrup.

    Liked by 7 people

    • Charli Mills says:

      Ha! There would be a name badge on the waitress’s uniform! And you have me listening to Supertramp. I love what you did in your flash — at first, I was hooked on the detective, and then the narrator closed her book, thinking of the same pancakes and maple syrup I’m craving!

      Liked by 1 person

      • Love Supertramp! Haha…so I got the badge in after all!!! Eating in an American Diner was my dream and I got to do it for real!!! I’m craving them with you! Thanks Charli, great prompt as always! 🙂 ❤

        Liked by 1 person

  74. Here’s mine for this week. Deep Thinking.

    Liked by 5 people

  75. […] week at the Ranch, Charli hosts the Rough Writers and Friends flash fiction challenge. This week’s prompt: “In 99 words (no more, no less) write a story using the theme […]

    Liked by 1 person

  76. Deborah Lee says:

    Back to Girl Scouts, with the badges! The good old days. These are going to be fun. Thanks again, Charli, for all you do for us.

    Liked by 5 people

  77. […] actually wrote this for the Carrot Ranch challenge in time, but didn’t edit or submit it in time. Things happen. […]

    Liked by 3 people

  78. This is great! I would love to participate, and I am happy that I found you. I am a little late on the last one, but I can’t wait for the next!


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