January 10: Flash Fiction Challenge

Written by Charli Mills

Charli Mills, a born buckaroo, makes literary art accessible at CarrotRanch.com. She writes about the veteran spouse experience and women forgotten to history.

January 10, 2019

Technically speaking, enriched foods are those that manufacturers have fortified like adding calcium to orange juice. In the US, government programs support healthier foods for school children through programs that started during our Great Depression. Food enrichment progressed during WWII, finding ways to get nutritious C-rations and K-rations to soldiers. If you grew up fascinated by the developing space programs, you might recall “ice cream for astronauts” or used “dehydrated eggs” on a backpacking trip. All food enrichment.

But I like to think of enriching my lunch a different way. Instead of buying food from a laboratory, I prefer it as close to the farm as possible, or from artisan producers who source locally.

Artisan food producers might sound like a made-up word so grocery stores can charge more. A fad, a novelty, not real value. However, after sixteen years of writing profiles about farmers and producers, I understand the value of calling someone an artisan. At the invitation of the Wisconson Cheese Makers, I once toured the state for three days, meeting artisan cheese makers and masters.

So, yes, cheese features regularly on my lunch plate. Today, it was an aged cheddar (serve at room temperature, and you can crunch the tiny crystals that form). To further enrich my plate, I added artisan rosemary crackers made from whole ingredients (in other words, crackers from a bakery, not a factory). For health and taste, I included a crisp local apple, a sprinkling of raw pumpkin seeds, and a Greek gift to food artistry — dolmades.

It comes as no surprise that many of us seek to add value to what we do beyond eating — we go to school to learn more about a topic or trade, we gain experience to enrich our careers, and we blog to enhance our writing goals. Many authors resist blogging because they think it detracts from what they write (books), and other bloggers treat their blog like a business. Which writers are right? The ones who know why they do what they do.

Last month, I offered you the opportunity to work out a vision for your writing journey by ultimately setting your North Star. This gives you a clear picture of success and becomes the reason for why you do what you do.  Vision work can make you a more productive writer, and save you angst when you are trying to figure out what tasks to take on to further your writing goals.

So let’s compare some right/wrong ways to blog.

Authors who don’t blog because it detracts from their writing could be right or wrong. Authors who are resistant without a compelling reason beyond finding blogging a distraction, are likely to be behind on platform building once they publish their books. Blogging is not the platform, but it can build audience, community, brand awareness and credibility. So can many other tactics. If the authors know why they write, what success looks like and have set goals these authors can better decide if blogging is the right tactic. They can set goals for platform building and blog if it meets their needs, or not. Many successful authors do not blog, but they likely have a website, are active contributors to mainstream media, and have a brand presence.

Many bloggers treat their blogs like a business, which is smart. First of all, a blog is “owned” territory. That means it is a digitally accessible area that individuals own as opposed to corporate ownership (like Facebook, Instagram, or Twitter). However, a good marketing plan includes a mix of these outlets. But some bloggers think a blog is going to make them rich and they use AdSense or spam techniques to boost traffic for pay.

Are any of these bloggers clearly right or wrong? Only the ones who don’t know why they do what they do. In other words, even the slinky scammer with a spam campaign is right if that person has a plan. Morally, and sometimes legally, they are wrong (these blog spammers), but they have a plan of enrichment.

Many of us probably have opinions about those who enrich themselves on the backs of others — in 1914, copper miners on the Keweenaw went on strike because they saw the mine owners getting richer, while miners struggled on their wages, faced deadly work situations, and had little respite from hard labor. Wal-Mart has a reputation for being a low-price retailer not because its stockholders suffer the cut in price but because their workers and manufacturers do. Recently, my stomach turned when I read an article about a certain wealthy leader who has enriched himself while in office.

Enrichment, in and of itself, is not bad. To find value, or add value to something is worthy. Dragons who burn villages to hoard gold are the villains of legend, while the heroes are myths like Robin Hood, the prince of thieves, who sought to take from the rich to enrich the poor. Like all things, perspective is a fractured lens.

Why do I blog? That’s a legitimate question to answer for those of you who regularly visit Carrot Ranch. My reason is summed up in my North Star — to make literary art accessible. Here, it’s to make it accessible 99-words at a time, meaning it is meant to be playful and inspirational.

You might find it puzzling, but I do not consider myself a blogger. It’s probably just semantics, and, of course, perspective. Obviously, I’m writing a blog post right now…but I consider myself a writer in every sense possible. I have aspirations, career, successes, and failures as a writer. More to the point, I’ve used my writing skills to make a living for more than 20 years. My portfolio of tear sheets fill two large plastic tubs, I’ve been published in seven books and more than 300 hundred magazines. I have no problem saying I’m a writer.

Blogging is part of my platform building and directly connects all my writing to my greatest aspiration of all — to write and publish successful historical novels. I’m in it for the long haul, the big journey. My North Star that guides me is a vision I have for why writing matters to me — because I want to be immersed in creative writing. I have craved this since I first realized I got as much joy from writing as I did reading.

The first book I ever wanted to write was about a girl named Silver Chalmers whose father was a mining investor who left California for his native England and never returned. It was based on a true incident. Local legend held that Mrs. Chalmers returned to the stage every day for word of her husband’s return. When he didn’t, she was sent away to the insane asylum in Carson City. Her mansion in Silver City (a ghost town where my father once logged when I was a kid) sat full of all her furnishings until someone broke in during the 1970s. My pinprick as a kid was, “what if they had a daughter.”

Ever since I was 12 years old, I’ve wanted to write historical novels. I’ve devoured them as a reader, studied them as a student, and crafted my first real attempted as an independent project in college under the tutelage of a professor I still hold in high esteem. I learned to research, find stories in cemeteries, and where to look for the women who tend to be invisible in the American wild west.

I’ve also encountered barriers to success — things like, not everyone who dreams of writing a novel gets to make a living as a novelist. The closest I got to overcome that hurdle was achieving an undergraduate degree in creative writing. My bitter pill in 1998 was a choice — pursue an MFA to continue my novel and publish, or take my writing skills to the workplace. I had three kids and a husband, so I became a writer instead of a novelist.

What I missed during my career writing years was that connectivity to literary art. I felt shut out from it. Over the years, I enjoyed pockets of connectivity and began to realize that literary art was not just an academic experience. But other than going on retreats or back to school, how did I access it? In small ways, I included literary art in my workplace. I used to make my staff write cinquains before weekly meetings, and I taught nature writing classes locally.

Carrot Ranch was selfish — I wanted to feel connected to that spark I defined internally as my inner literary artists. I wanted kindred spirits who felt it too. And I no longer believed I had to get an MFA to publish (than you, pioneering independent authors). Carrot Ranch makes literary art accessible 99 words at a time. That is my North Star for achieving my dream of writing historical novels.

So, I don’t consider myself a blogger. And that’s okay if we differ on perspective. What’s important to me is that we have this safe space to create as we all go about our long-haul goals. My first novel isn’t even going to be in the genre I dream of writing. Why? Because I don’t know how to write a successful novel — yet. Oh, I know what goes into one, and I know tons about craft, process and even editing. I know more than I did six years ago about the book industry. I’m an expert in story-telling and branding.

But that first novel, ah, the agony of writing it right. And I’m not saying that as a perfectionist. I’m saying that as an artisan — from the maker we become the master. Many authors publish their first or second drafts, some take time to edit. You can do it many ways and anyway you want! (Remember, your dream and your goals belong to you, just be aware of them and what it takes). And other authors don’t publish their first three books. No way is wrong or right — as long as you know why you choose one way over the others — but in the end, most authors will tell you that it’s by the ninth manuscript they feel they have it right.

I’ve learned so much working on Miracle of Ducks. I had really believed it would be easier because I wasn’t adding that extra burden of historical research. But I’m pleased with what the experience is teaching me. And I’m pleased knowing that working it is working my dream.

Thank you all for joining me on this journey! We are like Chaucer’s pilgrims. Each of us has wild stories and varied reasons for taking the writing path, but what compels us inside is a shared joy in the creative endeavor we call literary art. No matter where you are, keep your North Star sharp, set goals that fit you like good hiking boots and keep on the trail.

January 10, 2019, prompt: In 99 words (no more, no less) write a story that includes the idea of enrichment. Use many of its different manifestations or explore reasons why it matters to the character. Go where the prompt leads.

Respond by January 15, 2019. Use the comment section below to share, read and be social. You may leave a link, pingback or story in the comments. If you want to be published in the weekly collection, please use the form.  Rules & Guidelines.


Life Experience (from Miracle of Ducks) by Charli Mills

Sitting with Ramona, Danni sniffled. The older woman said, “We all look to enrich our lives, Dear. You might say each experience is like putting dimes in a slot machine. We hope one gives us the jackpot, but before you know it, we’re out of dimes.”

“That’s not hopeful,” Danni said, wiping her nose with a paper towel. She hated crying. Saline didn’t solve anything.

Ramona continued to smile. “Enjoy the gamble, Danni! In the end, we all lose our dimes. You’ll be disappointed if you wait for one jackpot experience and miss the fun in all the others.”

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  1. Ritu

    You are both… And so much more Charli ????

    • Charli Mills

      Thanks, Ritu! <3

  2. Liz H

    Wonderful reflections, Charli! Have to say, I think saline purifies, and prepares for future bounty-harvests.
    And Ramona is on to something, that the process and experiences along the way are the true gifts to enrich life, regardless of whether we meet the Big Goal we dreamed to get us rollin’, before we hada proper seat…
    Maybe that wasn’t exactly what Ramona said, but that’s where the tumbleweed rolled for me… 😉

    • Charli Mills

      Ramona is a bit like a rambling tumbleweed, but as you caught, Liz, she does have some wisdom in her words. Yes, I think saline purifies, too. Maybe Danni will catch on that it’s better to allow it to flow than dam it up inside.

      • Jules

        The journey is often more enriching than getting to that final destination. Too often folks cry alone. Nice to have company with a sympathetic ear.

        Though crying alone, I think can also be helpful. I think I like Ramona – very much so.

      • Charli Mills

        I’m really liking Ramona, too!

  3. floridaborne

    A rather old time theme this week, but fun to write.

    • Charli Mills

      A bit old time, Joelle, but I wonder if you can take it to deep space?

      • floridaborne

        Unfortunately, my brain seems to be in deep space most of the time lately.

      • Charli Mills

        For a sci-fi writer that’s good, right?

  4. The Haunted Wordsmith

    The only one who can really say if someone is a writer, is the person doing the writing. I’ve had many conversations over on my blog about many of the things you reflected on. I even ended up in an argument on FB because I made the comment that I feel bad when I only post five or six times in a day. Someone took offense to that and said, “Writers use their blogs for book promotions and a landing page. Not for dribble.” Needless to say, even if I had money, I would not purchase their work. How someone chooses to share their writing is as unique and personal as the individual. Blogger, writer, author, they all mean the same thing — it means someone is following a dream.

    • Charli Mills

      Yes! This is what I hope writers can come to terms with: “The only one who can really say if someone is a writer, is the person doing the writing.” And if your definition aligns with posting more than five times a day, then it fits. I think it’s unfair for us to say writing (and platform building) is one way. It’s not. But important to know what your way is. Perhaps the person who takes offense hasn’t figured out why they do what they do yet. We should give each other room and encouragement to find out because yes, we are all chasing down the paths of dreams rather than calling it good on the couch.

  5. Ruchira Khanna

    Lovely take Charli. May the North Star be your guide and take you to an enriched place 🙂

    The new year seems to be making me reflect upon my by-gone years courtesy your flash fiction 🙂

    Attached is my offering.

    • Charli Mills

      Thank you for that lovely sentiment, Ruchira! I can see from your flash how your by-gone years influenced the mantras by which you live (and write) by. <3

  6. The Haunted Wordsmith

    Thanks for the great prompt! I really had to think about this one.

    The Recipe Box

    Lacy ran her fingers over the small, well-worn wooden box with a hand-carved rooster on it and sighed. Finally owning it was a bittersweet moment. She opened the box and wiped a tear from her eye as her Grandmother’s handwriting greeted her. Apple pie and peach cobbler, pot roast and her famous Thanksgiving turkey; generations of living, learning, experimenting, and sharing filled the small box. Now she understood why her grandmother said that lives could be enriched through food. Memories of one passed to another; the past and the future captured on a single notecard filled in with love.

    • Ruchira Khanna

      Great take!
      Recipes from generations are such an enriched collection.

    • Charli Mills

      If you had to think hard, Teresa, your flash doesn’t show. It flows effortlessly! I can feel the love and respect your character has for this box of riches.

    • robbiesinspiration

      This is great, I love the idea of recipes being passed down through generations.

  7. denmaniacs4

    An Active Man

    For several weeks, he was sitting all day.
    And half the night.
    Bereft of energy.
    “You’ve gotta get moving,” she said more than once. “If you don’t, you’ll calcify.”
    She was right.
    Occasionally he put some effort into moving.
    He didn’t have a dog, so he made one up.
    And took Happy for a walk.
    That didn’t last long.
    Happy, the imaginary dog, hit the road.
    He’d forgotten to imagine a leash.
    He came home.
    “You weren’t gone long,” she observed.
    “I got bored,” he answered.
    “You should get a dog, darling.”
    “Maybe I will,” he said.


    • Anne Goodwin (Annecdotist)

      Ha, love this, Bill! I often walk alone and people say I should get a dog but too much hassle for me! But an imaginary dog – yeah, that would work. Just waiting for the sun to come on and off to walk it now.
      Oh, and I just remembered, there’s a story in my collection about an older woman with an imaginary dog – maybe that’s my future.

      • Charli Mills

        Anne, this is the perfect solution to walking alone for a writer. And you can baffle others when they suggest you get a dog by responding that you are walking yours right now, in fact. Perhaps a future collection — Walking the Imaginary Dogs.

    • Charli Mills

      Bill, your flash made me laugh, but also, I detect the sadness your story masks about a man who can’t even keep an imaginary dog entertained to stay with him. Clever pacing, too.

    • robbiesinspiration

      These leaves a lot of scope for the reader’s imagination.

    • Charli Mills

      Ah-ha! So this prompt does work with a futuristic story! Well done, Joanne.

  8. D. Avery @shiftnshake

    “Ya know, Kid, Shorty never did strike me as no blogger; this here’s a actual place, virtual or not.”
    “Yep. An’ they’s real folks at the ranch.”
    “Kid, you writin’ agin?”
    “Kinda like the prompt. Got some strong ideas ‘bout enrichment.”
    “They’s a strong smell of it it off ya. Don’t think Shorty’s meanin’ manure though Kid.”
    “It’s a Ranch, Pal. An’ who else’s gonna muck the stalls?”

    They once was a Kid with good luck, it
    Helped that the Kid’uz happy to muck shit
    Every week got a prompt
    All a Kid could want
    Gathered elixir in buckets

    • Charli Mills

      Hey, Kid, that’s some perty fine limiricking. Just remember to shovel as you write. 😉

  9. Damyanti Biswas

    Lovely piece of writing!

    • Charli Mills

      Thanks, Damyanti!

    • Charli Mills

      An insightful flash, Reena!

  10. Anne Goodwin (Annecdotist)

    Well, Charli, I often read your prompt post on a Friday morning as I eat breakfast and today you’ve put me to shame! Instead of Artisan food, which I do appreciate and support in principle, I had yoghurt and granola, both of which I am capable of making, both of which came from the supermarket – at least the stewed apples came from my garden.
    I enjoyed your non-blog musings – I do think it’s interesting that in the US a creative writing masters is considered a foundation of a writing career, as I don’t think that’s the case in the UK (unless that’s what’s stopping me fulfilling my pigs-might-fly dream).
    I loved your flash – Ramona’s wisdom and Danni’s doubts make a good combination. No ideas about mine as yet – depends whether I pair it with a post I have in draft about writers’ blogs or one in my head about my focus this year, or something else altogether! The Ranch is certainly a place of enrichment and looking forward to seeing what others make of the prompt.

    • Charli Mills

      Anne, you are an artisan writer, gardener, and moor-walker entitled to break your fast upon supermarket yogurt and granola. I was only one step above having fixed a bowl of co-op jersey yogurt over hand-crafted (not by me) granola. Frozen blueberries (I really should thaw them overnight) topped it all, and they were not mine (we only had three blueberries last summer). 😉

      MFAs are not as guaranteed a publishing ticket as they used to be when they were more difficult to get. Now one can get them online. But what advantage they offer is that of connectivity. The big house publishers want a marketing guarantee. Books as commodity make the “breaking in” more difficult and an MFA program (in the US) feeds two important publishing markets — traditional and academic publishing. But I feel you are on the cusp — with so many shorts published, two successful novels with a solid small press, and now a brilliant anthology that has so many avenues of marketing all your work, you just need to find the right place for the next manuscript. I always say it’s like online dating — you got to play matchmaker for your book and agent/publisher. And really, you have a great insider’s view with all the review work you do. Crunch on those thoughts as you eat your next bowl on non-artisan granola and yogurt.

      In many ways, I don’t regret not getting the MFA because I feel I’ve gained greater insights as a writer. What I haven’t mastered (yet) are the techniques, but I’m willing to keep putting in the time to refine those skills.

      • Anne Goodwin (Annecdotist)

        Thanks for your encouraging words, Charli. I’m noticing that some courses – although not necessarily the Master’s degrees – are adapting to the new marketplace in terms of acknowledging self-publishing as a viable outcome, but I think that’s partly clever marketing to bring in more students.

      • Charli Mills

        I think you are right on that account, Anne. I often worry that indie writers are prey to marketers that want their money, and not their books. Education programs included. However, if a writer is discerning, there’s much to glean from education, books, and products.

    • robbiesinspiration

      I seem to recall that Stephen King failed that particular course at college, Anne. Unfortunately, people who lecture can sometimes be narrow in their interpretations of what is good and what isn’t. My degrees are also not in creative writing or even English although I passed Business English with distinction. Having said that, I can see from some of the techniques I have learned from Charli that there is benefit to creative writing courses but I am happy to learn from research and developmental editing at this point in my life.

      • Charli Mills

        I love that we live in an age where we can be life-long learners in the areas that inspire us. And yes, Robbie, I think we can use our educations and backgrounds toward the experiences we now seek.

      • Anne Goodwin (Annecdotist)

        I agree, Robbie, and it’s not only a feature of degree courses. A lot of people who teach creative writing can tell students what worked for them but aren’t necessarily so good at helping students to find their own way. That takes a lot of skill.

    • Liz H

      Uh…how do y’all feel about Poptarts?

      • Charli Mills

        Poptarts? I’m a child of the ’70s and eat weird things but try not too. It’s also weird coming from old academic and publishing conventions and experiencing the biggest shift in writing and publishing because of technology. Guess I feel like I’ll secretly eat Poptarts but strive to eat healthier foods! 🙂

      • Liz H

        (When you do, try the cinnamon-sugar, with less frosting—best thing to backslide into!)

      • Charli Mills

        I’ll give those a go! Although I have tried the organic version in the co-ops — pricy but tasty, and much less sugar.

      • Charli Mills

        Good topic, Anne!

      • Charli Mills

        I got all caught up in the topic, I forgot t comment on your flash! Perfect, for driving home the point about identity online.

    • Charli Mills

      Look at you — on a roll! Let it flow when it comes to you.

    • Liz H

      That last line!! 😀 😀

  11. janmalique

    Enrichment, beautiful words and prompt Charli. I’ll post my offering later.

    • Charli Mills

      It’s a rich word, isn’t it, Jan? I look forward to your enriched offering!

      • janmalique

        One of those words that hides a sea of meanings Charli.

    • Charli Mills

      Ah, yes — you went into the dragon’s lair, dark and glittering. I enjoyed reading, Net!

      • the dark netizen

        Thanks so much! 😀
        It was a bright place to be! 😉

    • Liz H

      For a minute there, I thought you were talking US politics…Ha! 😉

    • Charli Mills

      And you’re back! What a beautiful and thoughtful offering, Jan.

      • janmalique

        Your challenge opened the creative dam. Thank you for your kind words Charli.

      • janmalique

        Thank you very much Robbie.

    • Liz H

      Lovely secret to the Universe!

  12. Lisa L.

    So disappointed that I missed the prompt last week, so I’m digging into this one right away.

    • Charli Mills

      I hope you find gold, Lisa!

  13. Molly Stevens - Shallow Reflections

    I hit the jackpot when I found you, Charli. Interesting that I have not thought of you as a blogger (not that there is anything wrong with that!) But I have thought of you as a professional writer, encourager of others, and door opener to the imagination. You could say you’ve enriched my life – along with many others.

    • Ruchira Khanna

      I second to what Molly said!

    • Charli Mills

      Dimes for us all, Molly! Oh, absolutely — there’s nothing wrong with being a blogger or a wordsmith or a buckaroo wrangling words. We have to find what fulfills us and set that North Star so when others try to define us or tell us what we “should” be doing, we can respond from a place of inner (writerly) wisdom. I often think I’m the one who hit the jackpot with all the words stars who show up at the Ranch.

  14. reading journeys

    Hi Charli,

    My thoughts on enrichment:

    Getting out of my comfort zone.

    Live & Learn: taking on the unexpected twists & turns in life. “I don’t wanna do this but….”

    Your phrase “perspective is a fractured lens”: inspiring!
    — got me thinking of the difficulties of going from sorrow, or bitterness or anger, and so on, to a more positive perspective.

    Joining Carrot Ranch : definitely enriched my visits to WordPress! Reading is my North Star . And yet, how did I get into writing FF??

    Thanks, Charli! Keep blogging!


    • Charli Mills

      Saifun, I agree — the treasure is out there beyond the edge of our comfort zone. Same with altering the perceptions we have. Along with my injury, the therapist who does the myofascial massage suggested that I wash my sense of loss (grief and anger) with gratitude. A perception shift to the positive that still recognizes the experience. Not comfortable, but enriching.

      Ah — you ask an excellent question and I’m eager to answer though really it is for you to answer! I see three pillars upholding literary art — writing, reading, discoursing. Your North Star is reading, but to fully experience literary art, we need a full sense of the three pillars. 99 words invites readers to explore as much as it invites writers to craft. We discuss the writing, too which is the third pillar. I think as long as you contemplate your own answer to that question you can find a compelling reason for flashing as part of your North Star. But also you can use your North Star to make sure you aren’t deviating from it. I’d be interested to know what you think about that idea.

      Keep following your North Star, Reader!

  15. robbiesinspiration

    I consider myself to be both a blogger and a writer, Charli. I just love blogging. I love connecting with people who are like me and who share my interests. I don’t know many in my real life as I am an accountant. Most accountant’s are not very creative.

      • Jules

        Children are a gift – Some parents see that more clearly than others. And some adults who do not have children can also be enriched by them.

        I don’t think I ever really considered myself a blogger, since the term to me is less than appealing. I consider myself a poet, a writer and one who shares fact and fictitious experiences. Hopefully some of what I share is enriching 😉

    • Charli Mills

      You are the most creative accountant I’ve ever met, Robbie! And I love the way you fully embrace blogging as the hub to all your creative work and keeping connected to like minds. When I had my staff writing cinquains, I expanded the practice to anyone who came to talk at our meetings (like vendors, ad reps, our general manager, HR, etc.). Only one person ever flatly refused — our accountant! 😀

      • robbiesinspiration

        Haha, Charli that is so funny. Accountant’s don’t like to try new things and don’t want to risk looking foolish.

      • Charli Mills

        I can see how that fits the ones I’ve known! You must be their Joan of Arc! 🙂

  16. Jules

    I worked to make the counts fit for this mixed short form verse. I even enriched myself with some research and new words – please enjoy:

    Amelioration for All

    in spring you can smell
    the natural enrichment
    of the local farms
    mixed with petrichor
    there is no denying the
    return of spring in your face

    until then though; smoke
    rising from the chimney stacks
    in attempts to ward off chills
    animal compost happens
    so stalls get cleaned daily
    farmer’s own gold
    enriching the corn
    or other
    crops packaged for sale
    salvaged biosolids
    are used
    somewhere, everywhere, here and there
    ancient kings used the
    very same method for their
    own private gardens

    insecure to dine from the
    public crops; were they enriched?


    Poetry forms used in order; haiku, Sedoka, Collom lune, Kelly lune, pi ku, tau ku, tanka

    amelioration: noun; (formal)the act of making something better; improvement

    petrichor; noun: pleasant smell that frequently accompanies the first rain after a long period of warm, dry weather.

    Biosolids is a term often used in conjunction with reuse of sewage solids after sewage sludge treatment. Biosolids can be defined as organic wastewater solids that can be reused after stabilization processes such as anaerobic digestion and composting. Biosolids recycling is the process of beneficially using treated the treated residuals from wastewater treatment to promote the growth of agricultural crops, fertilize gardens and parks and reclaim mining sites. Land application of biosolids takes place in all 50 states

    • Ruchira Khanna

      Loved it Jules!

    • Charli Mills

      You always enrich me with your pursuit of words and exploration of poetic forms. Thank you for that gift, Jules! Even if I accepted “biosolids” as a gift. 😉 Fascinating treatment that I didn’t know about. And I love the word petrichor. Especially out west, I know exactly that scent but had no idea it had a word!

    • robbiesinspiration

      This is a lovely poem, Jules.

    • Charli Mills

      Thanks for sharing, Traci!

  17. H.R.R. Gorman

    I love this prompt – and I love even more the mention of enriched foods in the leadup! It’s a bit of a weird obsession of mine to watch the MRE Youtube videos, so your mention triggered a bunch of happy thoughts for me. It’s times like these, when I read a post and have fun, that I feel like I’m following part of my blog-interaction goals.

    That said, I tried to come up with a different idea (one which I think Jules already spotted!).


    **A Farmer’s Wife**

    Della’s nails always had earth under them. Despite the bonnets and sleeves she wore, her skin would never be as milky-white as fashions required, as the folks in town would desire.

    She surveyed the plains, ready for tilling and fertilizer. Her horses swished their tails, her husband stood behind the plow. In one hand she held the reins to another horse that pulled a wagon laden with manure, and with the other she held a pitchfork ready to toss the fertilizer onto the ground.

    This smelly job would enrich the earth and keep the farm running, her family fed.

    • Charli Mills

      Who knew there were MRE YouTube videos, H.R.R.! And I did have to go and look. You’d have a great conversation with the Hub who could tell you every MRE he ever ate (including C-rats and k-rats, as in rations, not vermin, though perhaps the taste is similar). I’m glad this fit your blog-interaction goals, and I’m delighted that you have blog-interaction goals.

      Yes, you and Jules smelled an enriching possibility from the land. I like how you peopled your flash, and focused on the farmer’s wife and her tasks that fed the family.

    • robbiesinspiration

      It is so interesting to read all the different ideas people have for the same prompt. It never ceases to amaze and thrill me.

    • Jules

      HRR 😉 you know what they say about great mind being on the same wave length! I do try and think of different angles. I’m reading some of the Little House books (in between murder mysteries) – and about the farm Laura, Almonzo and their daughter Rose had in Missouri. It was a tough road to hoe back then so I have clear picture in my mind about your words.

      As the story goes, Laura, Almanzo and Rose moved to Mansfield, Missouri in 1894. They had saved $100 to buy land just outside of town. The two worked side-by-side for nearly twenty years in seeing the rocky land transform into a sprawling 200 acres of farmland, which included an apple orchard and space for Almanzo’s Morgan horses.
      Ingalls Wilder Home

      Laura was truly a farmer’s wife and I can see her in your words even if she isn’t who you pictured. Cheers, Jules

      • Charli Mills

        Jules, I loved reading Laura’s stories and Manly’s Morgans were the reason I hoped she’d marry him! I never did read the story of their Missouri farm — Rocky Acres? — and I’m so pleased to hear they made space for raising the Morgans.

      • Jules

        The book I read was by Roger Lea MacBride (actually I think a good friend of Rose)….The title is ‘On the Other Side of the Hill’ and it is about The Rocky Ridge farm in Missouri.

    • Charli Mills

      What a great list to make, TN! And a clever response to the prompt. I’m glad you let it stand.

      • tnkerr

        Gracias, Ms Charli. Muchas gracias.

  18. pensitivity101

    Hi Charli.
    Here’s my response this week

    It was hard to believe it was a year ago that she came into his life.
    He remembered how he’d been preparing and looking forward to that day.
    It was the first time for both of them, had been a long time coming, but the rewards were endless. She had opened up a whole new world.
    Practice made perfect as they took their time to get to know each other.
    It didn’t take long to bond, to anticipate each other’s needs and moods.
    Now they were inseparable.
    He reached for her harness and she was at his side immediately.

    • Charli Mills

      Oh, Di, what a sweet love story, though I didn’t expect the subtle twist. While your harness implies a horse, I thought of a moose that an Idaho logger bonded with and trained to harness and pull logs. I kind of like to read your flash with that moose and logger in mind!

      • pensitivity101

        I didn’t know about the moose! I forgot to put in the title Blind Faith apart from on your special form.

      • Charli Mills

        Lovely title to go with your flash, Di. And I added it!

  19. pedometergeek

    Oak Ridge Girls

    Newspaper advertisements across the country said that a new firm was looking for young women to work in a factory in Tennessee. The job description was vague, but housing was supplied.

    Girls from the Midwest flocked to apply. Many high school graduates were hired for this job. It was good money for the times.

    These women went into the job blind, not knowing what to expect. They were trained to keep the dial steady between two points, and they did. Only later did they find out their contribution to the war effort: enriching uranium for the first atomic bomb.

    Nancy Brady

    • Charli Mills

      Enriching uranium! That’s something I didn’t expect, Nancy. It makes me shudder to think how they had no idea what they were working with at the time.

      • pedometergeek

        Our book group read the book, Atomic City by Denise Kiernan, two years ago. It was fascinating as well as a bit scary, but not as scary as The Radium Girls…about the young women who painted radium on the dials of clocks and watched. They were really destroyed by that, dying of various cancers. ~nan

      • Liz H

        Makes me sad, Nan.

      • Charli Mills

        That’s heartbreaking. They should receive full honors just as any man of that era for service and sacrifice to country.

  20. Frank Hubeny

    Three crows landed near Pablo. Two of them pretended to peck around for treasure while the leader laid into Pablo with an obnoxious, “Caw! Caw! Caw!. Fortunately, Pablo was fluent in this particular dialect of crow. Crows don’t stop by without a message they feel they must deliver:

    “You will experience enrichment beyond your puny imagination. All those plans you’ve been making will fail. They are nothing compared to the reality that awaits you. Any questions?”

    Pablo and this crow had previous encounters. “Do I have a choice?”

    “Unfortunately, all you can do is mess things up a bit.”

    • Charli Mills

      Somehow (not sure to blame the eyes or the brain), I read the first sentence as “cows.” Someday, Frank, you need to write a flash about flying cows because I really was into the image I got from that! Loved the crows, though and their wisdom.

  21. D. Avery @shiftnshake


    Lowering her book, Ilene answered Ernest. “You just might like some of these stories. But here, try this one first.”
    Ernest took the anthology that Ilene handed him. “Congress of Rough Writers? Is it a western?”
    “No, it’s not a western. It gives background on flash fiction with excellent examples. These books are for my literary arts course at the community college.”
    Ilene and Ernest were still reading when Marge and Lloyd returned from the garage, the poker game over. “If you’re wondering, bookworms, we both won, but didn’t get rich.”
    “No? We both got enriched.”
    Lloyd beamed. “Epic.”
    “How’re your classes going, Ilene?”
    “Good. I’m getting myself ready for an office job. It’s all about the spreadsheet.”
    “So why a literary arts course? What’s this flash fiction stuff got to do with anything?”
    Lloyd spoke from his perch at the counter. “Ernest, literary art is cultural literacy. It’s…”
    “Epically enriching.”
    “Lloyd’s right. Honestly, the secretarial skills courses would be such a bore without the Literary Arts class. And it’s going to help me get the job I want, help me to sell myself.”
    “Ha! I thought you were giving that up.”
    “Marge, don’t be a Nard.”


    • Charli Mills

      I think Ilene paid a visit to my dreams — “These books are for my literary arts course at the community college.” I dream of such a thing! Great characters. Smart characters. I like that she and Ernest enriched their minds.

    • Charli Mills

      I find it an empowering idea, and a way to embrace the diversity of creativity we all want to express. Thanks, for stopping by with a moving flash.

  22. Kerry E.B. Black

    Fortified Cocoa
    Written by Kerry E.B. Black

    Fragrant steam wafted from the pottery mugs Oma filled. “Have a seat, little dear. Help yourself to a biscuit in that tin.” Mugs made little thumps on the knotty-wooden table while Oma hefted herself into a groaning seat beside Melanie. “Now, what inspired you to shovel my walkway?”

    In the cloud of cream within the hot cocoa, Melanie saw her mother’s smiling face.

    “Ah,” said Oma, “you’re Heather’s child. Give your momma my best.”

    Oma poured a bit of something pungent into her own cocoa.

    “What’s that, Oma?”

    “A bit of something to help old Oma through the night.”

    • Charli Mills

      Good to see Oma, again, Kerry. She’s a character I’d want to share cocoa with and listen to the stories that could follow fortification.

  23. Liz H

    People accuse me of writing food porn, but I really just like to cook freeform, gobble, and share.

    Snack O’ a Sunday

    Basics first:
    Butter, on countertop, softened with time
    Sugar, stored frozen ‘gainst careless craving
    Egg twins, room temperature, golden eyes wide
    Dash of vanilla, razor-sharp sweet

    Whip to shiny, slick peaks.
    Mash bananas, fold, spatula stiff.
    Elastic Spirit prepared.

    [Continue ]

    • Charli Mills

      Ha! I like your food-writing style, Liz. And I do find it delicious, drooling at my screen.

    • Charli Mills

      If Alibaba can’t get rid of them…! Great flash, Anurag.

      • anuragbakhshi

        Thanks 🙂

  24. Pete

    Occasionally while sitting down to dinner or passing through the kitchen, I’ll catch a glimpse of a family photo on the shelf. An adoring son in my lap, an arm around my wife. Happiness abounds.

    Most of the time that’s it. Other times, however…


    Perhaps this blip in sanity is a chance to cherish my good fortune or to count my blessings. A chance to better myself.


    …be thankful for what I have.


    Or maybe I just need to write it down.

    • susansleggs

      Interesting take. I perceive the enrichment a family can provide fighting against the sad reality of some.

    • Charli Mills

      Writers get to be enriched by everything we observe and experience. But when we write in that space between comparisons (the loving family versus the horror of headline news), the observations take on context. Great take, Pete!

    • susansleggs

      I hope her dream comes true. Life is too short to stay in an unhappy relationship.

      • Kay Kingsley, The Memory Cellar

        Isn’t that the truth. Something tells me things are starting to look up for her 😉

    • Charli Mills

      Your flash has me hoping for more than a latte for this character. We all need a bump to enrich us, sometimes.

  25. susansleggs

    Charli, I’ve never been very good at planning for my future, it will happen anyway. I appreciate the look at your North Star. You make things more understandable and easier for me to envision for myself.

    A Positive Outlook

    “Grandma, when I bring in each box it sounds like you are saying ‘mint.’ Do you need a throat lozenge?”
    “No. I’m saying enrichment over and over to convince myself this move is a good thing.”
    “Mom said it was your idea to give up your house. I don’t understand.”
    “I have found an unexpected enrichment whenever I have done something new. I know some pleasure or fulfillment will come from living here, but right now the newness is frightening so I am repeating a positive mantra. It keeps me looking ahead.”
    “Sounds like it would help me too.”

    • Charli Mills

      Yes, it will happen, Susan. I like to try an aim! Your characters share a tender moment, showing we all need positive mantras to get through transitions.

    • Jules

      …another reason to love ‘mint’ –
      especially those little mints with chocolate.
      A simple yet enriching enrichment.

  26. Norah

    Hi Charli, It looks like I haven’t commented on this post. Apologies. I must have got caught up in reading comments and forgot to post one of my own. Your post is filled with wisdom, as always, and ways to enrich our lives through our writing and our goals. I like the advice that Ramona gives Danni. I guess, to me anyway, she is saying to ‘give it a shot’. There’s no point in waiting until everything is perfect. We have to make our own opportunities, take the bull by the horns, so to speak.

    This is my response to the prompt this week. I hope you like it:

    What Kind of Enrichment?

    The meeting dragged. After analysing data, discussing duty rosters and responsibilities, lockdown and evacuation procedures, enthusiasm flagged. Jocelyn itched. Last on the agenda; her topic was enrichment.
    As she took the floor, groans and tapping pencils defied her resolve. A phone ban meant some eyes were on her, at least. Her suggestions of enrichment were met with derision.
    “They don’t learn what we teach ‘em. ‘ow are we gonna’ enrich ‘em?’ Everyone laughed.
    Jocelyn’s mouth opened to respond but gaped as Taya burst in bearing an enormous cake with candles ablaze.
    “Now that’s my kind of enrichment.” Everyone cheered.


    • Charli Mills

      Hi Norah! I think you’re right that Ramona is saving give it a shot. She’s full of wisdom but can’t always get it out when needed (I can relate so I appreciate any wisdom you think you find here!). I feel for your character, struggling to hold the attention of colleagues on a vital matter when really all they want is the novel distraction.

      • Norah

        I’ll take wisdom wherever I can find it, Charli. I have little enough of my own. 🙂
        Yeah, my character found her role very difficult. No one else in the staffroom was interested in improving the children’s lives. When you see what they were subjected to, it’s probably no wonder. 🙂

      • Charli Mills

        Makes me think we need to get better at enriching the lives of those who enrich education.

    • Jules

      Education should be enrichment – we as teachers – each and everyone of us – even those who think that they teach nothing; we can observe and learn. Cake is fun to eat, but life lessons both good and challenging can last a lifetime.

      • Norah

        Thank you for adding your wisdom, Jules. There’s much truth in your words. It’s that lifetime value we’re after, isn’t it?

  27. Kay Kingsley, The Memory Cellar

    Loved your post, Charli. Funny, I never considered the distinction before. I guess from the WordPress perspective, I think we are all either writers that blog or bloggers that write and while we can debate which category we fall into, I think it is safe to say that Carrot Ranch is a gem and without it and you, all of our writing worlds would be a little less creative and exciting. Have you created a North Star badge? ;-D

    • Charli Mills

      Oh, great idea, Kay! I will come up with such a badge. Thanks for pointing it out to me. I think this place is a treasure chest of many gems from the blogosphere.

    • Charli Mills

      Thought-provoking flash, Kate, and in time!

      • calmkate

        thanks Charli, appreciate that

  28. Charli Mills

    Thanks, Chelsea!


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