Travel to the Rodeo

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.

September 11, 2018

Sherri Matthews has kept her feet in the stirrups at Carrot Ranch while riding hard to revise her memoir. She’s one of our premier memoir writers who also pens a hapless village werewolf character who first debuted here in flash fiction. Her fiction can turn a dark twist as deftly as a rodeo bronc.

This year, Sherri seeks inspiration from travel. It’s not her first rodeo, so as a leader she’s going to shake up her event. Her husband Mike Matthews and friend and fellow writer, Hugh Roberts, joins her in the judging. Here’s what she has to tell you to prepare for her event.

Rodeo #3: Travel with a Twist
By Sherri Matthews

In July, I had the good fortune to spend a week’s holiday with my husband on the Italian Amalfi Coast. I say good fortune, because hubby won it, thanks to a random prize draw. We couldn’t believe it. Who wins those things anyway? Surely it’s a scam? But I can report back that it’s no scam because I’ve got the pics to prove it.

The holiday was as filled with twists and turns as it was unexpected, not least of all thanks to hurtling along Amalfi’s hairpin coastal road in a taxi driven by an Al Pacino lookalike who, for no good reason, suddenly pulled over to check something in the back of his car. Though the beautiful Tyrrhenian Sea sparkled far below us, I couldn’t get ‘The Godfather’ out of my head and hoped we wouldn’t end up swimming with the fishes.

Which got me thinking: how about a Travel with a Twist prompt for the Rodeo?

Think of the story behind the smiling vacation faces many of us find on Facebook. Chances are they’re no more than that, no drama, just a snapshot of a happy moment caught on camera. But what would change our perception of those perfect, happy pics if we knew something nobody else did?  What if the man in the photo had just taken a call from his neighbour back home warning him that his house was broken into? Or the grand-children, all milk teeth smiles and ice-cream sticky cheeks, missing their Mum, who’s away on honeymoon with her new husband?

If travel stories have you dreaming of your own private island with palm trees and sandy beaches and an ocean as warm as a bath (the only kind you’ll catch me in), then go for it. But maybe in your story, it’s a woman travelling in thought when she finds an old photograph from that holiday taken years ago with their husband, who has since left her for a younger model.

Perhaps your holiday is a bus trip to the next town over, just for the day, a scenario that makes me think of one of my favourite films. A story of unrequited love, the characters played by Emma Thompson and Anthony Hopkins finally meet again on Blackpool Pier after years apart, but it’s too late for their love. It’s early evening, and the lights come on, and everybody claps.  The favourite time of day, Emma Thompson’s character notes, giving the film’s title: ‘The Remains of the Day’.

Wherever you go on your travels, keep the judges guessing to the end. And those judges…? As before, Mike Matthews and Hugh Roberts will be assisting me with what I know will be a hard task if last year’s Murderous Musings entries are anything to go by.

Huge thanks both: Mike, lovely hubby and fellow traveller, my sound-boarder, proof-reader and keen observer of life and writings.  And Hugh, lovely friend, blogger, and author with a delicious flair for writing sizzling short stories, published his first collection, ‘Glimpses’, last year, the second volume of which follows this Christmas.  Hugh also won first place in Norah Colvin’s, ‘When I Grow Up’ competition in last year’s Rodeo.

That’s us packed, then, ready to go. How about you?  Whether near or far, will it be holiday heaven or holiday hell, funny or sad, romantic or dangerous? It might be a BOTS (based on a true story) or wild and wacky from the deepest depths of your imagination. We don’t mind. Go where the plane/train/automobile takes you, but remember, it must have a twist. We can’t wait to find what’s hiding in your suitcase.

Rules and prompt revealed October 17, 2018, at 12:00 a.m. (EST). Set your watches to New York City. You will have until October 24, 2018, at 11:59 p.m. (EST) to complete the Travel with a Twist contest. Sherri, Mike, and Hugh will announce the prize winner plus second and third place on November 30. Carrot Ranch will post a collection of qualifying entries.

Other competitions:

Rodeo 1: Dialogue led by Geoff Le Pard and judges Chelsea Owens and Esther Chilton

Rodeo 2: Memoir led by Irene Waters and judges Angie Oakley and Helen Stromquist

Rodeo 4: Fractured Fairy Tales led by Norah Colvin and judges Robbie Cheadle and Anne Goodwin

Rodeo 5: The Sound and the Fury led by D. Avery and her judge Bonnie Sheila.

The Tuffest ride starting in September will see 5 writers qualify to compete in October and is led by Charli Mills. For Info

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  1. Ritu

    Oooh! Food for thought!

    • Charli Mills

      Time to pack you writing suitcase, Ritu!

      • Ritu

        I’ll definitely get that packed!!

      • Sherri Matthews

        Looking forward to that trip, Ritu!

  2. Annecdotist

    Who could resist such an enticing invitation? Looking forward to it, Sherri.

    • Charli Mills

      I’m looking forward to it, too, Anne!

    • Sherri Matthews

      Me too…thrilled you’ve accepted, Anne!

  3. Charli Mills

    Funny thing happened on the way to the Rodeo — Sherri is traveling right now! I’m looking forward to the stories you all are going to craft for her contest. I love the idea of travel with a twist!

    • Sherri Matthews

      Haha…those funny things keep happening, don’t they? Thanks so much once again, Charli, for the opportunity to run riot at the Rodeo…can’t wait to read all the entries. Better get that laundry done and repack those suitcases! 🙂 <3

      • Charli Mills

        Welcome back, Sherri! All right — run riot! <3 ;-D

      • Sherri Matthews

        Haha…thanks, Charli! You said it!!! 😀 <3

  4. dgkaye

    Oh this sounds exciting! I’m staying tuned and hopping in. Fab idea Sher! 🙂 Hugs girls! xx

    • Charli Mills

      This one is right up your travel alley, Debby! <3

      • dgkaye

        I know right? I await! <3

      • Charli Mills

        Ha, ha! Debby’s got her boots on and suitcases packed!

      • Sherri Matthews

        Haha…love it! Hugs right back! 🙂 <3

    • Sherri Matthews

      Woo hoo…thanks so much, Deb, I knew this would be perfect for you!! Thrilled you’re hopping right in, let’s rumble! 😀 <3 😀

  5. robbiesinspiration

    Amazing topics, Charli. I am looking forward to them all.

    • Charli Mills

      So much is unfolding for the Rodeo!

    • Sherri Matthews

      Thanks, Robbie…looking forward to your travels with one and all! 🙂

  6. Norah

    How exciting to win a holiday and find inspiration for your rodeo contest all in one, Sherri! But a travel story with a twist? I think we’re all going to be a bit twisted after these contests. My contest, following yours, also has a twist. And not the Chubby Checker kind. 🙂 I’ll start thinking of some twisty travel tales in preparation for your contest.

    • Charli Mills

      Ha, ha! And each of the TUFF contests will have twists, too. What a twisted bunch we are!

      • Sherri Matthews

        Haha! We love the Rodeo for all its twists and turns! Can’t wait to give TUFF a go, Charli…will be the last of your rounds, but better late than never, right? 😉 <3

      • Charli Mills

        The last rounds are the ones to savor! 😉

      • Sherri Matthews

        Ooooh….. ! <3

    • Sherri Matthews

      Haha…I think so too, Norah…and we’ll keep Chubby Checker out of it…or maybe not 😉 😀 Can’t wait to read all about your contest and your twisty tales for this one…let’s twist! 🙂 <3

  7. Marje @ Kyrosmagica

    Reblogged this on M J Mallon Author and commented:
    Travel with a twist flash fiction Carrot Ranch rodeo via Sherri Matthews

    • Charli Mills

      Thanks for sharing, Marje!

    • Sherri Matthews

      Thanks so much for reblogging, Marje! Looking forward to your twisted tales! 🙂

  8. calmkate

    ooh sounds great, so relieved I haven’t missed it all … my case is packed and ready 🙂

    • Sherri Matthews

      Looking forward to sharing the adventure, calmkate! 🙂

      • calmkate

        thanks Sherri, so am I 🙂

  9. Sherri Matthews

    Hi again Charli, thank you again so much for your lovely write up and intro. I’m so excited about reading the entries and for all the contests! Let’s write and ride like the wind! 😀 <3 🙂

  10. Sherri Matthews

    Reblogged this on A View From My Summerhouse and commented:
    Howdy all! Yep…it’s time once again to saddle up, polish your boots and grab your pen while you’re about it, because the Rodeo is back. Five, 99 word flash fiction contests, each with a unique prompt, running weekly through October at Carrot Ranch. Open to all, no entry fee and a cash prize. Thrilled to lead my contest, Travel with a Twist, which opens October 17. Details of this, my fellow judges and every exciting contest, including Lead Buckaroo Charli Mill’s TUFF (The Ultimate Flash Fiction), a free-write challenge with one entry date remaining on September 25, posted below. I’ll re-blog each contest’s opening day here at the Summerhouse. So watch this space, pack your bags and get ready to ride and write like the wind…it’s time to Travel to the Rodeo. See you there!


  1. 49 Days In 1988: Week 36 – Choices – Hugh's Views & News - […] theme for this year’s competition is Travel With A Twist. Click here for full details, including when the competition…
  2. Rodeo #3: Travel with a Twist « Carrot Ranch Literary Community - […] In July, I had the good fortune to spend a week’s holiday with my husband on the Italian Amalfi…

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