Rodeo #5: Sound and Fury

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.

October 31, 2018

A Flash Fiction contest by D. Avery
Co Judges: Bonnie Sheila and the Amazing Educator


Sometimes fear, respect, and awe are the braids of one rope. Sometimes that one rope is all a buckaroo has to hang onto. Your flash should never let go of that rope.

Think of a dangerous situation that people willingly engage in. It need not be heroic with a heroic outcome for it is ill-advised to sit down on a bull or to run with them charging down the same narrow street. But people do. Why? Explore the motivation for the character; how did they come to be in this situation?

A high scoring bull rider stays on an athletic bucking spinning bull for eight seconds after exploding out of the chute. They are dance partners, with a grace that is gritty and brutal. The rider holds that braided rope for dear life, knowing the only thing worse than being on a bull’s back is to be at its mercy on the ground. The fascination with danger or the tension of being in a dangerous situation should permeate your story.

A high scoring writer will maximize that eternal eight seconds, letting the reader know what that dangerous situation smelled like, tasted like, sounded like, felt like, looked like. Put the reader on that bull’s back. Give the reader the sound and the fury of a dangerous situation.

These tracks from Marty Stuart’s Way Out West album may set the tone for this prompt. Enjoy and have a good ride.

The rules:

  1. Every entry must be 99 words, no more, no less. You can have a title outside that limit.
  2. Write a story that shows the sound and the fury of an intense and dangerous situation that the main character willingly chose.
  3. There are two dance partners; show the fury of the danger, be it a bucking bull or some other dangerous liaison.
  4. The sound; use sensory details to put the reader in the main character’s dance shoes.
  5. Bonus points for revealing the character’s motivation/fascination for dancing with danger.
  6. Use the form provided below to enter (open this post if you are reading it in an email). If you do not receive a confirmation email, notify
  7. Entries must be received by November 7, 2018, at 11:59 p.m. (EST). Contest winner, second and third place entries announced here December 14, 2018
  8. Go where the prompt leads.
  9. Have fun.

For word count, use Microsoft Word or Be aware that punctuation and word-hyphens can change your word count so run it through one of those two counters.

Judges for this event are D. Avery, Bonnie Sheila, and the Amazing Educator.

D. Avery, Rough Writer spinner of Ranch Yarns, shares prose and poetry at ShiftnShake. She has published two books of poetry, Chicken Shift and For the Girls. Her third book, After Ever, little stories for grown children, is evidence of her shift to fiction writing. You might find her funny, except when she’s serious, but you can certainly find her at Twitter and Amazon.

Bonnie Sheila is a crafty woman who lives by the sea and who has taken up quilling to keep herself off the streets. Her art can be viewed at Crescents and Coils. She has many talents, but fishing is not one of them.

The Amazing Educator has fiercely and fearlessly championed children for thirty years. Hundreds of people read, write, and even spell well because of her. She is a voracious reader and fearless leader of book groups who has also worked as an editor. When tooling about in her Jeep, Dog is her copilot.

In judging we will apply the following criteria:

  1. Word count: 99
  2. Use of the prompt.
  3. Dance moves; there is a respect and grace between the danger and the endangered.
  4. Imagery; a compelling use of sensory details makes the reader feel the music behind the dance, illustrates the fascination with the danger.
  5. The story brings understanding as to why a person would engage in a high-risk situation.

Thank you for entering! The contest is now closed. Winners announced December 14, 2018, at Carrot Ranch.

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  1. Charli Mills

    Just in time for Halloween — a dangerous flash fiction! Sound is a great sense to explore in writing. Good luck to everyone who writes to the sound and fury of this final contest in the Rodeo!

  2. Miriam Hurdle

    It surely sounds fun, Charli. I’ll be ready to give you the update my the sponsor ad. Both the paperback and Kindle will be available on Amazon in less than 72 hours!

    • Annecdotist

      Congratulations, Miriam. That’s the kind of courting danger I can understand.

      • Miriam Hurdle

        Thank you so much!

    • D. Avery @shiftnshake

      Yes, congratulations. Pretty exciting stuff, that. More good news is now you can concentrate on this rodeo event or even the radio contest!

    • Charli Mills

      That’s great news, Miriam! Shoot me an email when you have the links and cover. How exciting!

      • Miriam Hurdle

        Sure, Charli. I can do it tonight. I’ll send you my photo, the cover and the Amazon link!

      • Miriam Hurdle

        Maybe just the cover and the link!

      • Charli Mills

        I can add a photo too! I like the way MJ Mallon’s sponsorship ad turned out with cover and photo.

  3. Annecdotist

    On Sunday, I ate my lunch in a tiny pocket of sunshine in the market square watching people on a crazy fairground ride which swung back and forth gathering momentum until it circled around to turn them upside down. No way can I understand that motivation. Then I went to sing Mozart which is scary enough for me!
    So tricky challenge this one! I’ll definitely give it a try and look forward to reading the genuine contenders for the prize.

    • D. Avery @shiftnshake

      Ugh, I do not like carnival rides. Fast cars and motorcycles, yes. But singing, no! Speaking in public is still one of the greatest terrors. I do hope you take the challenge. All we have to fear is fear itself.

      • Annecdotist

        I’ve entered! Can you check you got two from me stories from me? Sorry! When I clicked on “go back” I didn’t know if the bot understood that I wanted to submit a second entry rather than cancel the first. But it’s kind of academic since willingly dancing with danger is not my thing.

      • Charli Mills

        There are two in the bucket, Anne. They went through!

      • Annecdotist

        Thanks. Should’ve been more patient and waited for the confirmation emails to come through, or not!

    • Charli Mills

      Anne, your comment reminds me that danger is relative to perspective. I’d sooner be on that thrill ride than sing in public! Enjoy conquering the vocals of Mozart.

      • Annecdotist

        It was wonderful as ever! I sing alongside a couple of hundred others so not so scary. I might sing a wrong note — or twenty == but the right ones always prevail.

  4. calmkate

    whoah .. what a fascinating diversity of challenges you offer … but can I stay on that jolly bucking bulls back!

      • calmkate

        thanks D, I’m always up for a challenge … with the assurance of no broken bones 🙂

      • D. Avery @shiftnshake

        This Ranch has an excellent safety record. And there’s plenty of clowns around to divert the bull.

    • Charli Mills

      Stay on that jolly bucking bull Kate! 😀

      • calmkate

        lol I’m there till the end now … submitted one sound/fury … may write another 🙂

  5. D. Avery @shiftnshake

    “I ain’t never been one ta choose danger, Kid. Had realizations after the fact, been reminded thet danger and death are possibilities.”

    “I’d say least one of those is a certain outcome, Pal, jist mind yer timin’ is all.”

    “Zactly. But really, I don’t live dangerously. Wundered if D. Avery’d even let us out this round.”

    “Pal, we don’t give her no choice, do we? Reckon she’s ever been reckless?”

    “Yep, an’ she might be thinkin’ on makin’ another dumb dangerous move, switchin’ careers.”

    “How’s thet dangerous?”

    “Worried she might starve.”

    “Ha! Seen her lately? She’ll last a while.”

    • Annecdotist

      She’s contemplating switching careers? Scary stuff indeed!

    • Norah

      She’s switching from teaching to writing? Brave move, but a good one.

    • Charli Mills

      Ha, ha! That’s always my thought on starving — it’ll take a while! Hope the Avery let ’em loose in the bullpen.

  6. D. Avery @shiftnshake

    Reblogged this on ShiftnShake and commented:
    Here it is, the final Carrot Ranch Flash Fiction Rodeo contest. Check it out and ride. Also, the Bonus Rodeo: Old Time Radio continues. Air your talent!

    • Charli Mills

      Brilliant — Air your talent!

  7. Jules

    Here’s my ad for this ride (title is link to post):
    Slam, Bam, Thank You Ma’am!

    Ever just get the nervous sweats having to take an exam?
    The proctor slams that little blue book down on each and
    every desk with a stern warning that you can’t flip it until
    he rings his little bell. And your eyes they better not wander
    from your desk space.

    Well this is the final Rodeo folks. Y’all need to hang tight
    onto your braided rope of fear, respect and awe!
    Awe shucks… it ain’t all that bad.

    Y’all have to scratch out what a dangerous situation smells,
    tastes, sounds, feels and looks like. That’s your bull to ride!


    Good Luck all! Yee Haw!

    • D. Avery @shiftnshake

      Thank you, M’am! I appreciate the advertisement.

    • Charli Mills

      What a great analogy — that’s palpable fear when the test book slams down. Ride well!

  8. Liz H

    Wow! That intro blog is one tough act to follow. 😮
    But follow we will, if only for a few glorious seconds–because it’s the thrill of the ride & the chance in getting upon that bull in the first place!

    • Charli Mills

      You handled TUFF, Liz — you can take on bulls!

      • Liz H

        Well, I did used to work in government. No wait..that’d be bullshi*…never mind. 😉

      • Charli Mills

        Gotta take some big bullsh** when you work for the bulls of government!

  9. Norah

    What a scary contest. Danger lurks in every word. We bare our souls and hope we find acceptance. It’s not always easy. The pen is mightier than the sword.

    • Charli Mills

      Perfectly ghoulish for a Halloween kick-off!

      • Norah


  10. Norah

    Reblogged this on Norah Colvin and commented:
    The last of the Rodeo contests is on and I think it’s the scariest of all. Write about danger, she says; dance it, feel it, hear it, smell it, touch it, taste it. I’d really rather stay where I’m safe and warm, but perhaps I can give it a go. It is just a story after all. Are you ready to unleash a dangerous story?

    • Charli Mills

      Thank you, Norah!

      • Norah

        My pleasure, Charli.

      • Norah

        I’ve been thinking. That can be dangerous enough for me. 🙂

      • D. Avery @shiftnshake

        Then there’s your flash. Thinking dangerously.

  11. robertawrites235681907

    This one sounds like a lot of fun. I will make sure I get my entry in on time.

    • D. Avery @shiftnshake

      I hope you do. Make me and the other judges work hard!

    • Charli Mills

      It sounds furiously fun! 😉

  12. Ritu


    • Charli Mills

      TUFF made you quick, too!

      • Ritu

        Oh it did!!!

  13. reading journeys

    Hi D.
    My entry is in!
    I wrote it for the sheer challenge of how to write a believable “danger” story.
    I had a few ideas for an endangered person and the danger, but somewhere along the way, the danger also became the endangered!

    What helped me to put a “picture” together:

    Your intro, and that incredible second video of Marty Stuart — the band’s “dramatization”!

    And also a very fascinating anthology – “Poetry of the American West” — ed. by Alison Hawthorne Deming.

    And very important: Charli’s blogs on tenacity and writing. Thank you!

    • D. Avery @shiftnshake

      Wow, thanks for all the feedback! Thanks for entering.

    • Charli Mills

      You are gathering all the skills and inspiration, Saifun! You’ve got tenacity to grow your writing talent like fertile soil.

  14. Marje @ Kyrosmagica

    I’ve entered. Boy that one was difficult.

    • D. Avery @shiftnshake

      Nothing difficult is ever easy. I am glad you dared enter!

    • Charli Mills

      The bull ride is always a big challenge but worth the 8 seconds!

  15. Sherri Matthews

    Whoa…what a ride…what a dance, D!!! Listening to the music, fired up as I type this. Fantastic contest…gotta do it, hope I can…like Arnie, ahh’ll be back… 🙂

    • D. Avery @shiftnshake

      Plenty of time! (Well… time enough for those that live dangerously)

      • Sherri Matthews

        Haha…nothing like a last minute adrenaline surge to finish the job!!! Thanks, D 😀

    • Charli Mills

      Music has always been such a great inspiration for you, Sherri! You are writing dangerously close to your finish line! You got this, Terminator!

      • Sherri Matthews

        Haha…that Arnie line never goes away, does it!!!!! And the music…’The Dance’ fills my ears, heart and soul through these final chapters. Has to. Thanks so much, Charli! Let’s write and ride (horse/bull/motorcycle like the wind! 😀

      • Charli Mills

        Tears sting my eyes as I think of you writing to The Dance and how writing is like going back and learning and repeating the steps to know every detail of the dance despite how it all goes, how it all ends. May the writing be worth The Dance, too. <3

  16. Sherri Matthews

    Sliding in by the seat of my pants as usual…but really struggled with this. Sure I’m way off the mark…couldn’t quite get there…but hope you enjoy anyway…thanks again, D, forma great contest, looking forward to reading the entries!

    • Charli Mills

      Kind of hard to aim the arrow when we ride hard, my friend! I’m pleased you took a shot. The finish line is your priority!

      • Sherri Matthews

        Thanks, Charli…too true!

  17. Megan Riddle

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