Rough Writer Tour: Happy Trails

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.

May 8, 2018

Trails don’t ever end, even those headed into the setting sun of the iconic west. Our Rough Writer Tour has trailed around the world, and this is our last stop, but not the final destination.

When I was younger, I feared I’d run out of ideas to write. Now that I’m older, I know I’ll run out of days before the well of story ideas runs dry. Each week, I continue to marvel at the creative responses to a single prompt framed within 99 words, no more, no less. And each of those stories become beginnings.

Imagine taking all that creativity and harnessing it to one wagon. Now that’s a trail drive, and that’s the power of The Congress of Rough Writers Flash Fiction Anthology Vol. 1. Thirty-three writers banded together and created a compelling work of literary art.

The anthology extends far beyond that of a collection. It’s several side-shows and behind the scenes action. It’s not homogenized, but rather a mixture of different perspectives, experiences, and imagination. It’s the creation of a community.

Every writer contributes to the whole. It’s like a meadow full of wildflowers. It’s not one flower that creates the stunning visage — it’s the combination of all parts. To work with the creative expressions of thirty-three writers has been a thrilling experience.

The Rough Writer Tour Around the World has offered a glimpse at how far ranging the literary trail at Carrot Ranch has become. I hope you’ve enjoyed getting to meet different Rough Writers on their own turf. Here’s a recap in case you’ve missed any trail stops:

Geoff Le Pard (UK)     Anne Goodwin (UK)     Ann Edall-Robson (CA)     Sacha Black (UK)     Luccia Gray (SP)    Sherri Matthews (UK)     Norah Colvin (AU)     Irene Waters (AU)      Susan Zutautas (CA)     JulesPaige (US)      Lisa Reiter (UK)      Urszula Humienik (PO)      Ruchira Khanna (US)

I’d like to thank all the writers of Vol. 1 for contributing to a community effort that provides a platform and growth opportunity for all involved. As a first work, several professional book reviewers have given the book high praise. It’s earned a 5-star review from Readers’ Favorite and a silver award for Literary Titans.

Vol. 2 follows and is currently in the works. It’s going to blast a new trail, going beyond where Vol. 1 left off and includes more writers. And readers can expect more unicorns. I got to speak about both Vol. 1 and 2 in a recent interview with Literary Titans which you can catch here.

Never doubt that literary art matters.

American author, Susan Vreeland wrote,

“Where there is no human connection, there is no compassion. Without compassion, then community, commitment, loving-kindness, human understanding, and peace all shrivel. Individuals become isolated, the isolated turn cruel, and the tragic hovers in the forms of domestic and civil violence. Art and literature are antidotes to that.”

Through writing together on projects of creative expression, we are on the trail to happiness. We ride the trail of peace.

Happy Trails, Writers!

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  1. D. Avery @shiftnshake

    Charli. Wowza. I jokingly left a comment awhile back at your (beautiful, bountiful) Ranch that ‘fictional lives matter’. They do. Your weekly prompts make it so. Your Susan Vreeland quote says why and reinforces the idea that a literate populace strengthens an empathetic people who can step in and out of different shoes, and can step up and make a difference.
    I have certainly had my fun here, using the iconic ranch setting as an easy already branded platform for my recurring stereotypical characters. These fictional characters and their author also deeply appreciate the World Wide participation and appreciation in all that goes on here at your Carrot Ranch.
    I have enjoyed the celebration of this first anthology; it is also a celebration of you, Charli, your accomplishment of well-defined goals despite some formidable obstacles and delays. Your honest posting (reporting) has furthered my understanding of my own country, its protagonists and antagonists. In this difficult time, you have, in so many ways furthered Carrot Ranch – I have seen it! It must be truly amazing for those who have been with you from the beginning; I am immeasurably honored to be named in the ranks of these First Flank Rough Writers. The Volume One Anthology is before my time and yet I treasure it and show it off proudly; I am (now) a part of the community that produced this fine book.

    • Annecdotist

      Beautifully put – and your so-called stereotypical characters are fabulous fun. Here’s to more of their conversations.

    • Charli Mills

      Yes! Those fictional lives matter — they help people navigate real lives through empathetic connections. I think when we have an outfit like this, we all get to witness growth. Sometimes it’s hard to see our own, but we can reflect it back to one another. I still remember when you rode onto the scene, and I began uncoiling my rope to lasso you in, but you came willingly! 😀 Thank you for being such a fine contributor to many aspects of the Ranch, D.!

    • Charli Mills

      Thank you for sharing!

  2. plutorawr

    I am a beginning writer hoping to follow more writing prompts and extend my creativity!

    • Charli Mills

      Saddle up for an adventure! You are welcome to join us at the Ranch along your writing ride!

      • plutorawr

        thank you! I’m not really sure how it works.

      • Charli Mills

        Each week (usually later in the day on Thursday, EST) I post a prompt under a heading such as, “May 17: Flash Fiction Challenge.” At the end of the post is a prompt. Go wherever it leads you but respond in 99 words, no more, no less. After time, you’ll come to learn that the constraint is a powerful writing tool. You can post your response in the comments of the current challenge, or post a link or pingback. Then join in the discussions and reading. You don’t have to read all the responses, but join in to meet some people. If you’d like for your response to publish in the weekly collect, also submit it using the form in the challenge post. We’re a friendly bunch and welcome you to write with us!

  3. Ritu

    I’ve loved all the trail posts Charli and look forward to the involvement in Vol. 2!!!!!
    You’ve created somewhere beautiful here on the Ranch! I’m so glad I found you!

    • Charli Mills

      Thank you for adding your shine to the stars at Carrot Ranch, Ritu! I’m glad found your way here, too!

      • Ritu

        <3 Me too Charli!

  4. TanGental

    And thank you Charli for being the hostess with the latest inspiration. It’s always a pleasure and an education _ not that those two are mutually exclusive. And you’re right about the time left to write. It will soon go.

    • Charli Mills

      Thanks for all your support and leadership at the Ranch, Geoff. You are a fountain pen of writer’s ink!

  5. calmkate

    Charli you have such great energy and ideas and you put them into action … it’s so impressive. I totally enjoy both contributing and reading as you have the full range featured here!
    And I so like the idea that we are helping to create connections and world peace 🙂

    • Charli Mills

      Thanks, Kate! It is good to know we are doing our part! I enjoy your contributions to world peace. 🙂

      • calmkate

        if only I could do more … 🙂

  6. Annecdotist

    It’s been a great tour for great book, Charli. Well done you for leading the way.
    I so agree about the bottomless pot of ideas – the challenge isn’t so much finding something to write about that fitting those words together in the best possible way.

    • Charli Mills

      Thank you for all your thoughtful contributions to the Ranch, Anne! You’ve clarified the greater challenge. May it continue to be an interesting one!

  7. susansleggs

    I reblogged your interview on my page to explain to my readers where the many varied subjects of my Flash comes from. What an honor it is to tell people of my involvement in an international writing group. Thank you for your positive and creative leadership. You have helped me expand my outlook.

    • Charli Mills

      That’s wonderful to hear you are sharing the interview with your readers and letting them know what you are a part of, Susan! Thank you for being a part of our community!

      • susansleggs

        Totally my pleasure

  8. Norah

    Yes, the trail continues and, through your vision, you have gathered a strong posse of talented writers who are inspired to continue writing our way to happiness and peace. The pen is mightier than the sword. Together our voices are stronger than one, but we don’t speak as one, we speak as a collective of individuals, supporting, and receiving the support of, an amazing leader. Doubters may have considered your vision a puff of cloud easily erased. But it is a rainbow of inspiration under which unicorns dance, writers write and readers read. How delighted I am to have shared in the journey. I think we’ll ride on until we disappear into the sunset – and beyond. Best wishes for all you wish to achieve, Charli. You can do it!

    • Charli Mills

      I love that we can be stronger together and yet remain individuals! Norah, thank you for taking a chance on an avalanche four years ago! Who knew it would lead to rainbows where unicorns dance. Thank you for your leadership and demonstrating the growth mindset. Let’s keep heading into that beautiful sunset. We can do our individual rides together!

      • Norah

        Thank you, Charli. Your encouragement is inspirational. 🙂

  9. Ann Edall-Robson

    Riding the trails, gathering the herd, settling the dust. It is what made Vol 1 what it is. I am on my fourth re-read and enjoying it all over again. The World Tour could be bound in a book of its own. A fitting end to this stellar round up. Thank you Charli, and the team, for making it happen.

    • Charli Mills

      We have volumes yet to come, Ann! Thank you for diving into the pages, reading, and riding. The World Tour is a special edition, for certain!

  10. Hugh's Views and News

    You’ve put so much work into giving writer’s like me the confidence and encouragement to go out there, write, and publish their work, Charli. Without you and the ranch, the blogging world wouldn’t be quite the same. Thank you for all you’ve done for us. I, for one, think you deserve a medal.

    • Charli Mills

      Thank you, Hugh! That means a lot to me. I wanted to feel I could do it, too and together we focus on what is fun and inspirational, and in the end help one another along the trail.

  11. Jules


    Over the years you have invited us all into your home (wherever that was) and into your heart (which is just enormous!). You have brought us comfort and allowed us to also comfort you in time when you’ve asked. That sparks lasting friendships.

    May Carrot Ranch continue to grow into the global community that adapts and creates Literary ART! I agree with Hugh – if there is such a thing as an award for the promotion, encouragement and confidence building you have provided for so many – It would get my vote to give it to you!

    Thank you, JulesPaige… (or just plain, Jules)

    • Charli Mills

      SparklyJules! Thank you for your words and friendship. You’ve brought much light to the Ranch and have bravely taken on many behind the scenes leadership. All I want is for literary art to be at our grasp and disposal so we can go forth in the world from our anywhere corners and spread ART.

  12. Shallow Reflections

    I am humbled to be part of this group, and inspired by the support I’ve found from you, Charli, and other participants. What an accomplishment building this community is and pulling together two anthologies is amazing. The quote about art and literature brought tears to my eyes. Sometimes I don’t think I’m doing enough to help make the world a better place. But remembering that quote helps me feel like I’m doing my part. XO -Molly

    • Charli Mills

      Molly, I’m so glad you mention other participants because that is what amazes me most — how all of you have come to an imaginary ranch to play in a literary sandbox and yet have formed the kind of compassion-based community our world needs. I hope you keep that quote in your heart! You are doing your part!

  13. Lisa Reiter

    It’s been an amazing adventure Charli. I so admire your generosity, commitment and tenacity through times good and bad. My physical copy only arrived last week (damn those A-boys..) and it is so wonderful to hold it in my hands and connect physically with this community.
    Sending much love across the ocean
    Lisa xx

    • Charli Mills

      Thank you, Lisa! Wow, those A-boys strangled the distribution for certain. Likely I’ll have to play with the A-boys to overcome that bullying practice. But onward and upward! Thank you for circling the wagon when needed, contributing, as well. All the best to your progress!

  14. Norah

    Reblogged this on Norah Colvin and commented:
    And so, the Rough Writers Tour Around the World is over. We’re back at the ranch with the lead Buckaroo Charli Mills, wrapping up the first adventure. This tour might be over, but the journey has just begun. Charli says, “Through writing together on projects of creative expression, we are on the trail to happiness. We ride the trail of peace.”
    I respond, “The pen is mightier than the sword. Together our voices are stronger than one, but we don’t speak as one, we speak as a collective of individuals, supporting, and receiving the support of, an amazing leader. Doubters may have considered your vision a puff of cloud easily erased. But it is a rainbow of inspiration under which unicorns dance, writers write and readers read. How delighted I am to have shared in the journey.
    If you haven’t yet, come and join us at the Carrot Ranch. There’s always room for more in the posse on the trail to happiness and peace.

    • Charli Mills

      Thank you, Norah!

      • Norah

        My pleasure, Charli. 🙂

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