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Travel to the Rodeo

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


  1. Ritu says:

    Oooh! Food for thought!

  2. Annecdotist says:

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

  3. Charli Mills says:

    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!

  4. dgkaye says:

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

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

  6. Norah says:

    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.

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

  8. calmkate says:

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

  9. […] theme for this year’s competition is Travel With A Twist. Click here for full details, including when the competition […]

  10. 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 🙂

  11. 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!

  12. […] 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. [READ MORE…] […]

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