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February 28: Flash Fiction Challenge

February 28 Flash Fiction ChallengeBut for the kindness of others, my car is unburied, and my accessibility to Carrot Ranch improved. The storms have not entirely passed.

Last year, we received almost 60 more inches of snow before we called it good for flowers to burst forth from receding drifts in yards and woods. And officially, my computer is dead. Her memory broken, unable to function.

Not a way any of us want to go.

Today, I’m gratefully tapping away on a loaner laptop. I’m adjusting to not having the speeds I’ve grown accustomed to, or having all my files arranged just so. I spent the last week feeling lost, following an unfortunate computer crash. Each failed fix left me brooding.

The blizzard that shut down our town (even snowmobiles got stuck) delayed the response from the only tech store we have. By then, a friend who works in IT offered to help, running diagnostics to pinpoint the actual problem. A rep who called me back said they probably couldn’t fix it or retrieve data, and they wouldn’t have new computers in stock until March 15 because of some Intel processing glitch.

Let’s pause a moment and discuss backup strategies.

Early on, I learned to back up my work as a professional. Not only did I write content for businesses, but I was also responsible for archiving it. As technology grew into the Information Age, archives grew into fierce beasts to manage. By 2010, we had servers to back up all our computers nightly. In 2012, I purchased an external hard drive for all my personal and professional work.

Today we have a myriad of choices to backup our writing files from hardware to digital clouds. However, nothing is failproof. In 2016, I carefully boxed up my physical portfolio into three large plastic tubs. In my previous move, I lost all my earlier writing to a nesting mouse, learning the value of plastic. I also lost my college writing because floppy disks became obsolete.

Thus we each need a Backup Strategy that fits our needs and resources.


First, determine what is essential to preserve. Flag these files as needs. For me, it’s a single folder marked as NOVELS. Each individual novel has its own folder within the main one. Each revision has its own folder. And, each novel has its own research file filled with photos, links, articles, and notes. Finally, I backup each novel project from Scrivener (where I write and save every scrap of writing and revision in a “project” as well as arranging my research, character and setting notes on board).

That way, I have a single NEED TO SAVE folder called NOVELS. I have one folder to backup, which I did two days before my laptop crashed.

The rest of my files I want to save, but I won’t die if something catastrophic happens. Most of these are unessential archives. Some also exist in hard copy files (such as my editorial calendar, budget, and workshop materials). Other writing and genealogy research exists on other platforms. Photos are backed up automatically to Google, and now my new iPhone comes with iCloud storage for which I expanded for a nominal monthly fee.


Photos, books, magazines, printouts or tearsheets (as we used to call evidence of publication back in the printing days) comprise most hard copies. These are the documents we often scan or have backed up digitally. I’m old school and keep way too many hard copies. In 2016, when I knew I had to pack up my office, I used the NEED vs. WANT system to prioritize what got scanned, placed in a plastic tub, or filed into a carrying case which I kept throughout my wandering adventures.

Don’t keep everything.

Think about who has to sort your stuff after you die. Seriously. I’m not trying to be morbid, but after helping my best friend sort her parents’ hoard after they died, I can tell you there is no joy in going through stuff they found sentimentally worthy. Then my best friend died, leaving the sorting unfinished along with her own items. Watching her grown children muck through an entire storage unit and cry over the burden of decisions, I decided I’d not do that to my own kids.

Hard as it may be, I use moves to confront the reality — what if I lost this document or item forever? Remember, NEEDS vs. WANTS. Sometimes you have to separate from things you want to keep but if they do not serve a purpose, toss. Question:

  1. Does it keep your portfolio relevant to next big goal?
  2. Does it serve a future purpose?
  3. Is it an heirloom someone else will appreciate?
  4. Is it essential to your writing?
  5. Is it valuable?


Having organized files is the first step toward a good backup plan. Every year, I make it a practice to archive files so I can minimize the number of documents I have to scroll through. At work, I used to sort data by quarters. It makes document sorting and relocation easier. Annual archiving works well. But what happens if your software or hardware fails?

You have many choices for backup:

  1. USB (or USB-c) drives, also known as “memory sticks”
  2. External hard drives for data (especially if you need large storage for high-resolution photos, videos or graphic design of book covers, advertising, etc.)
  3. Multiple computers (home, work, and laptop)
  4. Time Machine (an Apple product)
  5. Server used for networks (something not readily affordable for the home user)

Keep in mind these backups can fail, or technology can advance. Somehow I damaged my external hard drive storing it in a fireproof lockbox (it got damp). It is possible to retrieve the data, however but requires an expert technician. My floppy discs from college are obsolete, but again, an expert with the right equipment can retrieve the data if it felt like a need. My honors thesis was published at Carroll College and may be digitally scanned, something I never dreamed could happen 20 years ago!

Technology changes and technology fails. Keep your backups backed up.


Cloud service might seem practical, especially to younger generations who don’t recall life without the internet. It might feel suspicious to those of us who grew up reading about Big Brother. Certainly, it is convenient, much of it is free, and many reputable services offer extra storage. Here are links to learn more:

  1. Google Drive
  2. DropBox
  3. iCloud
  4. Microsoft One Drive
  5. Amazon (and you’re unlikely to use it, but know it exists because it might make a great plot twist in that thriller you’re writing).

The cloud can fail, too. Security and solvency remain two major issues.

Facing the vulnerability of our backups is like facing our mortality. Our writing, our art, our work won’t live forever. But while we yet breathe, we make art and we back it up best we can. Have a plan that fits your needs and assess it regularly.

My future computer is unknown. It kills me to think my Acer is gone. Her memory sits in a clunky piece of hardware on my desk marked with my name on a strip of blue tape. Her body rests on my printer, paining me each time I look at her. How it became her in death, I’m not sure, but she served me well. Until she up and quit on me. Bah…!

Meanwhile, I have a hardy little Dell to help see me through to what next. I’m considering going over to the dark apple.

Something to think about (me, and others considering a new laptop) — when my component failed, I learned it is soldered onto the mainboard. My tech friend explained this new practice to me, and Acer confirmed it. To replace the faulty piece, I’d have to buy an $875 board which is $25 less than the cost of my laptop.

If you are in the market for a laptop, ask if the model you are considering has a soldered board. If so, you might want to reconsider. Single components are easier and cheaper to replace. However, you would be best guided by a trusted IT person. Chromebooks are inexpensive, and MacBook Airs are dependable. I feel like a widow having to pick a new mate one week after the funeral. I just want my old love back.

Moving onto snow, we are still digging out but have had sunshine. Today, Mrs. H called in the serious snow removal equipment to deal with her blocked garage. Each time the loader backed up, a loud beep echoed throughout the neighborhood. The sound of progress. The sound of moving onward.

Up to a challenge? After you back up your writing, eh.

February 28, 2019, prompt: In 99 words (no more, no less) write a story using the term backup. You can back up or have a backup, just go where the prompt leads!

Respond by March 5, 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.


Backup Work (from Miracle of Ducks) by Charli Mills

Mars sparkled overhead. Could Ike see their favorite constellations from his post in Iraq? Danni lit a lantern at the kitchen table. With the power out from the wind storm, she couldn’t access her computer files. Good thing her work included books and items found in the dirt. She poked at the latest sorting of glass globs. A fire, which locals claimed was the burning of the Rose Bud Inn during Prohibition. If so, Danni might have found its location. Tonight, she couldn’t back up her reports, but she could sift the remains of another era. Stories always surface.


  1. Very informative. 🙂 I hope you find a good computer!

    Liked by 3 people

  2. I dropped my laptop and broke the wires from the keyboard to the screen little more than a year ago when I was in Portland during one visit to my granddaughter. She was a few months old. In was in the middle of the trip, several days before returning to CA. It was my newer laptop so I didn’t think of anything like that would happen. It had about a year’s worth of new files and photos in it. I was panic.
    When I came home, I had to buy a new laptop, take the broken one and the new one to the computer shop, had the tech transfer files from hard drive to hard drive.
    Now I have many backups. 🙂

    Liked by 5 people

    • Charli Mills says:

      Oh no, Miriam! And you probably had photos of that sweet grandbaby of yours which you didn’t want to lose. I’m glad the technicians could transfer your files. All it takes is one big scare like that to make us backup more frequently! To date, the most reliable backup I’ve had has been a USB drive I’ve had for over 10 years.

      Liked by 4 people

      • Yes, Charli, the first large USB I bought 10 year ago is 120 GB that I still have. When I broke my laptop in Portland, my SIL, Will gave me a bigger one to copy the picture folder and document folder before the wires went insane.
        My daughter subscribe a cloud photo site and lost a lot of photos, so I don’t trust the cloud.

        Liked by 2 people

      • Charli Mills says:

        That’s a good point about those photo cloud sites. I had two of them shut down, but I only stored photos that I printed through them. Google+ is shutting down in April, but not Google Drive or photos. It’s sketchy trying to figure out a good back up plan! But knowing what is most important to keep, and reviewing that each year helps keep down the data load so you can use more reliable or a combination of backup. Glad you were able to grab folders before your laptop completely broke.


  3. Shorty’s Back

    “Kid, you awake?”
    “Grumff. A wanna be a-sleep an’ ta be left a-lone.”
    Kid, come on. We gotta hard drive ahead.”
    “Pal, this don’t compute. Shorty’s back in the saddle. She kin ride herd.”
    “Yep, she kin, an’ we’re gonna ride with her. Let’s roll Kid. We’re Shorty’s back up.”
    “Unnhh. Okay. Whut time is it anyway Pal?”

    (Shorty got shorted; this 59)

    Liked by 9 people

  4. […] Carrot Ranch 28 Feb Flash Fiction Challenge […]

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Hey Charli! 🙂
    Here’s my take on the prompt:

    Happy reading! 🙂

    Liked by 8 people

  6. calmkate says:

    I have a Mac Air and no complaints, had it for years and have twice doused it but it still works beautifully! Once with a cuppa that made my keys sticky for a while and recently a huge glass of water = backup is essential!

    Liked by 2 people

  7. Technology failures can really get our backs up, but good to know you’re back up online, albeit without your trusty laptop.
    I really like this line in your piece:
    Facing the vulnerability of our backups is like facing our mortality.
    I wonder if that’s partly why we find it difficult.
    I backup all documents daily, alternating between One Drive and an external hard drive. But as you point out any of these can fail (which is why I use two systems) and I’m still grieving the loss of thousands of photos when our previous external hard drive failed.
    I’d also advise (temporarily) backing up blog comments (CONTROL A followed by CONTROL C) as these can also disappear if the website is overloaded, eg someone else posting at the same time.

    Liked by 4 people

  8. jenanita01 says:

    Glad to see you back in action, Charli…

    Liked by 3 people

  9. Jules says:


    Backing up perhaps isn’t so hard to do. Once Hubby comes in… I’ll have him do so. I have ‘hard copies’ of early stuff. But once I started using a computer I stopped keeping hard copies… And I don’t wanna loose nothing!

    Hey, maybe not as much as you, but we’ve got some snow today and I was out shoveling at six am. Schools are delayed. But the plow hasn’t even made a first pass yet.

    Anyway… I’ve got a double going for you. I had a long version that I chopped down to this 99 word version. The link has both as well as an illustration.

    The Fairy With the Broken Wing 99 word version.

    Riding Hawk was supposed to be easy.
    Quinn had not always been clumsy,
    growth spurts had made everything challenging.

    Quinn was distracted, and fell.
    You’d think that a fairy with wings
    could easily recover just by flying.

    Hawk realizing his passenger had fallen,
    turned sharply to see the plummeting fairy
    whose wings were not cooperating, dove and
    grasped Quinn’s right wing in his strong beak.

    There were no backup wings for fairies.
    The break would be fixed, healed. Quinn would
    fly when the cartilage had securely knitted.
    And a slight scar would have
    to compensated for when in flight.


    Liked by 6 people

    • Charli Mills says:

      Jules, nope — I don’t want you to lose nothing, either! Is there no end to this snow? I understand even the other side of the country is getting buried, too. We had a few flurries today but main roads are clear so that’s a relief. I enjoyed your take on the prompt. Wouldn’t have thought of backup wing for fairies!

      Liked by 3 people

  10. […] was written for the Carrot Ranch February 28 prompt, Backup.  This is one of those rare times that I have nothing else to say about what I’ve […]

    Liked by 1 person

  11. Very glad you’re back! Sad about the computer, but it does seem you’re well informed about how to stave off total defeat!

    Here’s a little bloody thing to get the ol’ heart pumpin’:


    The messenger hopped into the trench just after a shell hit. He face chittered, ghostly pale after the brush with death.

    “How long until we get backup?” a grizzled twenty-one year old asked.

    “It’s not coming,” the fresh young messenger said. “The shelling’s too hard. No one’s moving from the redoubts.”

    The professional soldier rubbed his aching feet. “I’m not sure we can hold them off this time. We don’t have enough men in this line.” Upon seeing the fear on the messenger’s face, he comforted. “Don’t worry, mate. I suppose they feed their prisoners!”

    The young man gulped.

    Liked by 7 people

  12. […] This was written using the prompt “to write a story using the term backup. You can back up or have a backup…” from the Carrot Ranch February 28 Flash Fiction Challenge. […]

    Liked by 1 person

  13. Yeah! So glad to see you and happy to hear you got a loaner. You’ve certainly made lemonade out of lemons 🙂 I’m off to the drawing board (Word). “I’ll be back”

    Liked by 2 people

  14. johnrieber says:

    Thanks for allowing me to participate, and I appreciate all of your insight on saving material….how much is too much, how to avoid depending on a device that can fail and leave you with nothing…great stuff!

    Liked by 3 people

  15. denmaniacs4 says:

    I don’t claim this little effort fully works but what the hey, it tries…

    Back Up Front

    Back up front;
    Rear guard house;
    House home in;
    Out side entry;

    Exit strategy chaos;
    Calm storm weather;
    Climate change coins;
    Coppers police baton;

    Rouge lipstick Hemingway;
    Writer reader library;
    Information highway patrol;
    Car bicycle lane;

    Rocky smooth dude;
    Ranch dressing naked;
    Lunch free expensive;
    Posh tacky ticky;

    Houses hillside strangler;
    Boston Bruins Bears;
    Arms legs diamond;
    Blood guts glory;

    Modesty Blaise blaze;
    Starr Ken aware;
    Blank sheet wind;
    Pass fail safe;

    Vault leap year;
    New old me;
    Lai lie down;
    Up periscope sub;

    Sandwich grilled fried;
    Egg face music;
    Festival joy sorrow;
    Pity party favours;

    Bribes corruption backup.

    Liked by 9 people

  16. […] Susan Zutautas Flash Fiction March 1, 2019 1 Minute Carrot Ranch […]

    Liked by 2 people

  17. Nobbinmaug says:

    Losing data is the worst. I’ve had some horrible experiences. I backup all my writing in two clouds. I love that it acts as a backup, sharing, and I can access stuff from my phone if I want to work on something on the go.

    Liked by 2 people

    • Charli Mills says:

      It’s interesting, the many ways we can find our data. I had a reading today and panicked when I didn’t think I had access to what I was going to read but I shared it with someone else in an email and got to it on my phone. Whew. I’m sorry you’ve had terrible experiences. Fear of losing our data is shared!

      Liked by 2 people

  18. johnrieber says:

    Just checking to see if my submission was received…I just checked the site and it’s not there… >

    Liked by 2 people

    • Jules says:

      Need to put your link in the comments, if you want some of the rest of us ‘Cow poke’ to read your entry – the weekly compilation doesn’t come until later.

      Liked by 2 people

      • johnrieber says:

        Thanks for this…I put my story right on the form on the blog, so I guess it wills how up later!

        Liked by 2 people

      • Jules says:

        As you can see you can also put your 99 word story right in the comments as some, like myself also do. I also put my story in the form so it can be included in the compilation. But I like to put my story and or link in the comment section so others can visit throughout the time that the prompt is up. Individual comments can go in the compilation, but it isn’t as easy for a back and forth conversation.

        I did try going to your site, but I couldn’t find the Carrot Ranch story – I may not have known what to look for or maybe you didn’t post it there? Good luck.

        Liked by 3 people

      • johnrieber says:

        It hasn’t posted there yet but I am going to add it to the comments are as well…thanks for the info I appreciate it!

        Liked by 3 people

    • Charli Mills says:

      Hey John — I got your submission. It arrived into the “bucket.”

      Liked by 2 people

  19. Here’s mine Charli: I’ve titled it “Take Responsibility”
    I am responsible! I am caring and never shirk in my duty.
    It goes with the territory and privilege of ownership.
    People may laugh at my stuffed pockets, but I am always prepared.
    You can buy one or even two hundred for a pound! Some are scented and come in pretty colours or with cute little cartoons on them.
    I will even offer one if you are without, but don’t expect me to do your dirty work.
    If there is one thing that never fails to put my back up, it’s dog owners not clearing up after their pets.

    Liked by 10 people

  20. Ritu says:

    Lots of great advice has come out of your misfortune Charli!
    Here is my take…

    Liked by 7 people

  21. johnrieber says:

    Back Me Up by John Rieber

    “You want me to say what?” Her question was laced with withering condemnation. OK, it wasn’t an easy ask. But I needed her to bail me out of this mess. She’s my wife, and that’s what partners are supposed to do. I asked her one more time and she gave me a look I never want to see again. Still, when we returned to the living room, she did what I asked. “Tony did not stick his finger in the Queso”, she said flatly, “he would never do that.” I smiled as the cheese slowly dripped off my hand.

    Liked by 8 people

  22. calmkate says:

    Decided to lighten the mood with this one, scheduled for Monday …

    Liked by 4 people

  23. Sorry, Charli, yer prompt led me here.

    There’s An Easy Button

    “All right, Pal. I’m up. Whut’s goin’ on?”
    “Shorty’s cut off.”
    “At the pass?”
    “The peninsula. Not only is Ranch HQ gittin’ buried in snow, Shorty’s had ta bury her computer- it up an’ died.”
    “That’s dire.”
    “Yep. So how kin we back her up?”
    “Reckon all the buckaroos have her back. They’ve hung in, kep’ right on writin’.”
    “Yep. I tell ya, Kid, when Shorty gits knocked down she sure gets write back up. I’m thinkin’ mebbe backup means payin’ it forward.”
    “How da ya mean ‘pay’, Pal?”
    “Really? Yer pushin’ my buttons, Kid.”
    “Oh! PayPal. That’s easy.”

    updated Ranch Yarns here:

    Liked by 8 people

  24. susansleggs says:

    Charli, I’m sorry about the loss of your friend/computer. Our gadgets are such an important part of out lives. I have been in awe of your snow pictures on Facebook. I’ve never seen that much snow at one time and am happy I don’t have to deal with it. It seems you might still have this years banks left when it starts again next winter. Hope I’m wrong. On to back-ups…..

    Back – Ups

    Mom says, “Honey, before you go back upstairs, don’t forget to back-up your work. Oh, I think hear a back-up alarm. I hope that’s not an ambulance coming for Mr. Backus next door.”
    Dad asks, “Has he been sick?”
    “His wife told me his innards get backed up and he has trouble going.”
    “That’s a crappy subject. All this talk about back-up reminds me I need to call and have the septic tank emptied.”
    Son groans, “One more mention of back-up, my lunch might come back up.”
    Mom grins. “I’ll back up if you need to get past me.”

    Liked by 6 people

  25. […] a post about the vital practice of backing up your files on your computer, Charli is back with the February 28, 2019, prompt: “In 99 words (no more, no less) write a story using the term backup. You can back up or have […]

    Liked by 1 person

  26. I’m back. Up to my tricks. Here is a link to the flash this prompt led to.

    Liked by 5 people

  27. […] was inspired by the Carrot Ranch’s weekly […]

    Liked by 3 people

  28. […] I get to my response to this week’s flash fiction challenge over at Carrot Ranch, I want to share one of my favorite Twitter accounts/blogs with […]

    Liked by 1 person

  29. Darn computers! Glad to have you back. 🙂
    Here’s my contribution this week.

    Liked by 6 people

  30. Norah says:

    I hope your tech issues get sorted in a timely way and that you don’t have to get your back up about a less-than-perfect back up. I back up constantly in DropBox, but as you say, even clouds might burst. It has been a concern for me. My security system does also offer a back up (also cloud-based) so maybe I’ll try it as well. I guess if I were to lose everything, I’d just have to consider it dead.
    Your snow looks mighty inconvenient. Snow or technology. Which would one rather be inconvenienced by?
    I’m pleased Danni still had work to do even when her computer was down. I like that she pondered Ike’s ability to see their favourite constellations from Iraq. It’s nice that he fits comfortably into her thoughts – no inconvenience there.

    Liked by 2 people

    • Norah says:

      I have a backlog of work backed up at the moment but found a way to join in. It’s a bit different for me in that it’s a true story. 🙂
      You can find it here:

      Posture support
      One birthday, thoughtful Hub gifted me a wearable device for supporting my posture during long hours at my desk. Sadly, it was complicated, and he was the only one to don it, semi-successfully. Those of us less brave to even attempt were in stitches as he manoeuvred himself into it. Having failed to convince me or anyone else to try, it has been relegated to the back of an (unknown) cupboard ever since. Mere mention of the BackUp causes fits of laughter and it remained #1 inappropriate gift for many years – until he presented man perfume on another birthday.

      Liked by 3 people

    • Charli Mills says:

      Snow or technology? Norah, that’s a hard choice! Both continue to inconvenience me, though there is light on both. The sun came out, but the snow piles remain like mini-alps. The loaner is helpful but I feel challenged not having access to my data. The Hub said tomorrow was my “day.” I asked what he meant and he reminded me that my computer is arriving. He knows it’s been challenging. Soon those difficulties will melt away.

      I laughed so hard at your flash! Memories like that are priceless, and you shared a vivid image! You must smell handsome in your man perfume, too. 😉

      Liked by 2 people

      • Norah says:

        I hope it is ‘your’ day, Charli and that your Hub is right. I saw a video on FB of you opening your pretty laptop, so hopefully it will be as effective as it is beautiful and you will be great writing partners.
        I’m so pleased the flash translated into laughter. I really wasn’t sure if I’d given those who weren’t there enough information, but seems most have had a laugh.
        I think he may have exchanged the ‘perfume’. I don’t remember either of us using it. I think he may have been taken in by a pretty salesgirl at the time, or maybe he was just looking, without realising, in the men’s section and she just assumed …

        Liked by 1 person

  31. […] Charli Mills: Carrot Ranch Flash Fiction – Backup Plan […]

    Liked by 1 person

  32. Charli, I won’t write the computer backup stories. Choosing among many, this one is not as lengthy. Here it is,

    Liked by 5 people

  33. It’s our true story with minor changes.

    Backup Plan

    “The storm will hit Maui tomorrow, honey.”
    “We’re flying back to Los Angeles tomorrow and pick up our niece from LAX in the evening.”
    “We need a backup plan. Call a friend to pick her up?”
    “Who? LAX is a mess.”
    “Can she take a taxi?”
    “She has no key to our house.”
    “Can she reschedule her visit?”
    “She’s going to a wedding in San Diego on Saturday. We’re taking her.”
    “Oh, boy.”
    “She got tomorrow off from work… Check the weather report…”
    “Phew! The storm died down before hitting Honolulu.”
    “Oh, mine. The Almighty has a backup plan.”

    Liked by 7 people

  34. […] This was written in response to Charli Mills’ latest prompt, here […]

    Liked by 4 people

  35. […] was written for Carrot Ranch’s Flash Fiction Challenge. Each week’s challenge is to write to a prompt in exactly 99 words. This week’s prompt […]

    Liked by 1 person

  36. Nobbinmaug says:

    Sometimes a prompt just explodes into a story in my mind. I type it up, make a few tweaks, and post. Sometimes the fuse won’t light, and it just fizzles. Then I have to poke and prod at it to find something. This was fizzler.

    Liked by 3 people

  37. […] Prompt from the Carrot Ranch […]

    Liked by 3 people

  38. […] .Ranch Carrot for versed and ,rhymed ,mirrored ,Dreamed […]

    Liked by 3 people

  39. […] Carrot Ranch Challenge, February 28, 2019, prompt: In 99 words (no more, no less) write a story using the term backup. You can back up or have a backup, just go as the prompt leads! […]

    Liked by 2 people

  40. Jules says:

    Charli, I’m back with a second piece. I like your flash about hoping that the stars are the same. I remember though when I went to Maui that the stars while beautiful weren’t what I was used to seeing. What’s normal? What ever we make it to be. That’s where my mash flash went, in perhaps a different direction before computers – Enjoy (title is link to post and other prompts):

    Restoration of a Normal Life?

    Who knew a train could restore one’s faith? There I was waiting. Not knowing what to expect. I had ordered a bride through the mail. This was my back up plan. The eligible women were scarce round these parts. Most men had brought their own. I had… but after the first three births, the fourth took both my child and my wife.

    I needed a kind heart to look after my children, maybe even me, after we got ourselves acquainted. No matter what the promise or the paper said I’d be sleeping in the barn until she wanted me.


    Liked by 6 people

    • Norah says:

      Great story, Jules. Well done.

      Liked by 3 people

    • Charli Mills says:

      Jules, I never really thought of stars being from different perspectives. Having grown up out west I was not acquainted with light pollution until we moved to the Twin Cities. To me, the stars were the same but the sky was lighter. I suppose it would be more startling in the reverse. I love having my mind expanded to see different perspectives!

      Your flash touched my heart — I could see this being a longer story.

      Liked by 2 people

  41. Writing prompts take us on a journey of words. There are times when you think a story can’t be told unless you use more than the required number of words. So, you just write in hopes of being able to manipulate the word count later.
    Do you include all the words? Do you cut and trim? Do you leave them hanging, wanting more?
    I found this challenge needed to capture a whole story and embarked on writing each small chapter to include the prompt, and each has been penned with equality in the word count – 99.

    Whoa, Backup, Stop
    By Ann Edall-Robson

    Chapter One

    “Whoa, backup, stop!”

    How many times had those words interrupted conversations while travelling down the road?

    He smiled to himself, wondering what it was this time his wife had seen that brought her camera to her eye. An animal? A bit of scenery? A glint of light off the dew sitting on a leaf, caught sparkling when the sun lifted its head over the trees.

    A surprise to both of them, sometimes, when they saw the result on a bigger screen. He never tired of her enthusiasm, the sparkle in her eye, that smile, when she said, “Got it.”

    Here’s where you can read the other chapters:

    Liked by 7 people

  42. […] flash fiction was written for Carrot Ranch (Thanks, Charli, so glad to hear you’re up and running) where we were asked to use […]

    Liked by 1 person

  43. Love your flash. And it’s so true, digging through dirt and finding stories. Glad that you’re getting electronic again and thanks for the reminder to back up my own stuff.

    Sorry I’m again late. I had a hard time coming up with anything. Sometimes the stories write themselves and sometimes they don’t. 🙂

    Liked by 6 people

  44. erg…I just had a brain malfunction and don’t know if I hit the submit button or just started in the comment section. I evidently am desperately in need of high octane caffeine.

    Liked by 2 people

  45. traceyr1984 says:

    I went with a MacBook Pro laptop 8 years ago and still have it, no problems (knock on wood), and use it every day. I added some RAM myself and upgraded the OS last year. Nerve wracking but successful. (I am not particularly techie!) I feel like I have gotten my money’s worth and dread the day I need to replace it. I also installed Microsoft Office suite when I first bought it so I could continue with Word, Excel and Powerpoint.

    Good luck and do not be afraid! Focus on all the positives of a new computer.

    Liked by 2 people

    • Charli Mills says:

      That’s encouraging to hear, Tracey. RAM is technically the component that failed on mine and I was dismayed to learn it was not possible to fix. This time I want to make sure it’s something that can last, be upgraded or fixed. I found out that my Microsoft Office 365 transfers to a different OS. Scrivener requires I buy a new version for Mac, but they discount it if you have a PC version (plus it’s relatively inexpensive, about $30). I will focus on all the positive attributes! Thanks!

      Liked by 1 person

  46. […] Rolling the Calendar Source:  Flash Fiction Challenge Prompt: Write a story using the term backup. Word count:  99 […]

    Liked by 3 people

  47. […] cautionary post preceded, as her posts often do, a flash fiction challenge to In 99 words (no more, no less) write a story using the term backup. You can back up or have a backup… However, there is no suggestion of caution in her final phrase ‘go where the prompt […]

    Liked by 3 people

  48. […] via February 28: Flash Fiction Challenge « Carrot Ranch Literary Community […]

    Liked by 1 person

  49. Getting in at the last minute this week, Charli. So good to have you back but I’ve been busy babysitting grandson and grand dog. Such fun but not much time for writing. What a time you’ve had with your computer. I wonder if you will venture over to the dark Apple? I did that a few years ago. I don’t regret it, but there are pros and cons. I thought I needed a new iMac but it turned out my genius husband figured out that my Time Machine was malfunctioning – needed an update and was continually trying to backup without success! Now on track and my computer is no longer running on dial up speed. I use OneDrive now for my document backup, too. So complicated to stay up on the latest technology. All those floppy discs and CDs now relics for the recycle bin. And I’ve also been thinking about cleaning things out so my son doesn’t have to do so much of that later when I’m gone. Anyway, I couldn’t resist bringing Chester and Ruth into this week’s prompt. Here’s my story.

    Go ahead, back up

    Ruth dreaded asking Chester for help, but she was stuck in a snow bank and didn’t want to be late for her hair appointment. Spinning her wheels would only make things worse.

    Chester trudged outside and surveyed the situation. “Go ahead, back up,” he said.

    “Which one do you want me to do, go ahead or back up?”

    “I said go ahead, back up!”

    Ruth sputtered and gunned the engine, rear tires shooting a spectacular plume of snow behind her.

    Chester stood motionless, encased in snow.

    As she drove off, she yelled, “Thanks! That was definitely the right call.”

    Liked by 7 people

    • Charli Mills says:

      Ha, ha! Chester got a snow-dunking! I love the craziness of language and how we construct phrases like “go ahead, back up.”

      I went Apple! Now to set up everything and all my backups. Hope you had fun with your grandson and granddog!

      Liked by 1 person

      • Language and communication are infinitely fascinating, Charli. This phrase, “go ahead, back up” has been a family joke for years and it was made for Chester and Ruth. You’ll love your Apple, but it will take some time to adjust. Grandson and granddog times were grand!


  50. Pete says:

    “Okay, Ed. Hit the gas, then rock it back.”

    Edna slung the Bonneville into Drive, mashed the gas, then slammed it into Reverse. The car revved and rocked, tires zinging in the mud.

    “Whoa, whoa!”

    Enda’s husband wedged another board in the hole. “Okay, try it now.”

    Edna shot her husband a look that could dirty dishwater. She’d told him not to take River Road. But no one had asked Edna.

    Her husband studied the tire, walking behind the car. “Okay back up.”

    Edna gunned it, spraying her husband with mud.

    She’d told him not to take River Road.

    Liked by 6 people

  51. Kate says:

    Wily Larceny

    “Members of the Jury,” Harper said, walking across the courtroom toward the witness stand. “The question before you is not to determine if any trout went missing from Mr. Parker’s fish market on three separate occasions. The real question is: will the prosecutors’ evidence back up their assertion that it was my client George Prowler, a quiet homeless man who perpetrated the robberies.”

    Harper turned and faced the courtroom. “The defense intends to prove otherwise. We will show that the real thief was Mr. Parker’s own large wily cat, Whiskers,” she said pointing her finger directly at the plaintiff.

    Liked by 5 people

  52. […] 28 February 99 word flash fiction prompt from Carrot Ranch was back up or […]

    Liked by 2 people

  53. Stories always surface, indeed! Great tips here, thank you, Charli. At least your beloved laptop didn’t get lost in the Czech Republic – or was it China? I can’t remember. Anyway…to this day, I wonder whatever happened to it. I ended up getting it replaced with a second-hand HP, a ‘workhorse’ ideal for writing, I was advised, and…shhh…dare I say it?…so far, so good. I hate having to take on anything technically new and the learning curve that comes with it. Glad you’ve got a temporary laptop to see you through…and yes, I am backing up on Dropbox like mad! Welcome back, Charli 🙂 ❤

    Liked by 2 people

    • Charli Mills says:

      Oh, Sherri, that was my first thought when I started negotiating with the manufacturer to fix my laptop — I’m not sending it overseas! I remember your horrible fiasco to get your machine repaired. That was such a nightmare. “Fortunately” mine was not able to get fixed. Sigh. I do believe an older model is better because of the change in how they are affixing the components so you can’t fix them. Such a waste. Here I thought I’d have my “new” laptop for years. Well, I did it. I might be crying on your shoulder soon lol! But I went Mac. It’s pretty. Let’s see if I can make her keys sing! Thanks! ❤

      Liked by 1 person

      • I hope you’re making her keys sing, Charli…rather, I know you will once it’s all up and running 🙂 You’ve been through the mill with this computer lark. I feel your pain, my friend! ❤


  54. […] ever taken. Sunday, March 3: “Right Quite Not Something’s,” my poem entry for Carrot Ranch‘s prompt this week. Da Vinci shook hands with Yoda while readers eyes’ crossed. Monday, […]

    Liked by 1 person

  55. floatinggold says:

    Holy crap! Those are mountains of snow.

    Liked by 1 person

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