February 28: 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.

March 1, 2019

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.

You May Also Like…


  1. Chelsea Owens

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

    • Charli Mills

      I hope so! I thought I found a good one, but I’ll have to aim better this time.

      • Chelsea Owens

        Companies don’t make expensive things to last the way they used to. :/

      • Charli Mills

        Which is why I’m leaning toward Apple which is a company that still seems to care about quality and service. Someone gifted us a microwave when we got married and that thing lasted 28 years. We had one in our RV that didn’t last 2. The waste of it all disturbs me greatly, not to mention the cost and how prohibitive it can be for those of us on tight budgets.

  2. Miriam Hurdle

    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. 🙂

    • Charli Mills

      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.

      • Miriam Hurdle

        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.

      • Charli Mills

        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.

    • Charli Mills

      Great last line, Reena!

      • Reena Saxena

        Thanks a lot!

  3. D. Avery @shiftnshake

    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)

    • Charli Mills

      Pal knows to have Shorty’s six! A tuff flash, short an all. Might have to sum it up in 9 words next, then expand back out to 99. Fancy word ropin’.

      • D. Avery @shiftnshake

        Ha! That’s what I was thinkin’. Then I fell asleep.

    • Charli Mills

      That one is filled with tension ready to erupt into action adventure, Net.

      • the dark netizen

        Yes! 😀
        A lot of action will follow for the duo! 😉

      • Charli Mills

        It’s fun to watch the action unfold bit by bit. 🙂

    • reading journeys

      Great FF and graphics – takes the tension up several notches!

    • Norah

      I think I’d be backing up and away from that situation. 🙂
      Well done.

      • the dark netizen

        Thanks so much, Norah! 🙂

        Hahaha..I don’t think they can do that sort of back up! 😉

  4. calmkate

    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!

    • Charli Mills

      Good to know, although if I go Mac Air I won’t test its drinking ability. The Hub once replaced two keyboards in less than a week, dousing each with a cup of coffee!

      • calmkate

        I wouldn’t try it either, incredible karma that it works perfectly and it was a huge full glass of water not just a few drops! So the durability and reliability do impress!

      • Charli Mills

        That is impressive! I’m still suspicious that the cat did something to my laptop, so I hope a Mac is cat-proof, too!

  5. Anne Goodwin (Annecdotist)

    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.

    • Charli Mills

      Good one, Anne — tech difficulties can get our backs up! I forgot about that expression when setting the prompt. I further discovered today that Mac has a command feature to back up all files to an external hard drive. That and iCloud and DropBox and several USBs and printouts and I might think I can live forever! It can feel devastating to lose photos. I can understand your grief. It’s amazing that we can have so many photos, considering how relatively new photography is to our history. Thanks for adding the tip to back up blog comments! I’ve suffered that agony of writing out a detailed response only to lose it.

    • susansleggs

      Never thought of backing up blog comments. If you use Control A and then C, where does it go, or should I say, where would it get stored. I just heard an author advise, send your daily writing to yourself in an e-mail, then you can retrieve it anywhere/anytime you can log in to your e-mail.

      • Charli Mills

        That’s a good backup tip, Susan! In the old days, authors would mail a hard copy of their manuscripts to themselves and not open it to prove the date of copyright. But can you imagine nailing yourself copies of your daily writing through postal service?

      • Norah

        But if your computer crashes and you lose your email …

      • susansleggs

        Your email isn’t lost. You can go to any other computer and sign in to your browser to read it.

      • Norah

        Let’s hope! 🙂

      • Anne Goodwin (Annecdotist)

        I think it goes to the ‘clipboard’, Susan, which saves only one item at a time and disappears when you log off. So it’s rather like short term memory, which is okay for comments, I think.
        I used to email that day’s work to myself, but I’d forget to delete and end up with several versions, although maybe that’s better than none.

      • Anne Goodwin (Annecdotist)

        But, Norah, wouldn’t they automatically transfer to another computer? That’s what happens with Outlook, I think.

      • Charli Mills

        Some email is backed up on the cloud, like Gmail. And as Susan points out, you don’t lose it unless something catastrophic happens to Google. I’m so grateful to have my email intact because it’s made this past week easier to navigate because of what is preserved. But you have to save the files. I have 10 years of archives on my Gmail!

      • Charli Mills

        A BOTS? That sounds memoiric, Anne. I hope muscle memory comes back to you soon!

      • Anne Goodwin (Annecdotist)

        Yes, I realised that afterwards, but it’s not sufficiently in the past for memoir, more of a diary entry!

  6. jenanita01

    Glad to see you back in action, Charli…

    • Charli Mills

      Back in the saddle, cautiously backing up my horse. 😉

      • jenanita01

        That makes a lovely picture!

  7. Jules


    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.


    • Charli Mills

      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!

      • Jules

        That’s what you get when you mash prompts 😉

        I wonder if Angels have back up wings. Oh that’s right they do! Especially the living ones that ‘Fly by the seat of their pants’ when things get a bit dicey. And you are a Living Angel to host the ranch and keep us feeding on Literary Manna. Hugs!!!

        And Thank you – The book arrived yesterday. Whoo hoo. Looks like an interesting read!

      • Charli Mills

        Ha, ha! I hadn’t thought about angels having backup butt wings but I’m sure some of our guardians have too!

      • Charli Mills

        Literary Manna for all (tastes like carrots)!

      • Jules

        I think Manna can taste like what ever you want it too… that’s my theory and I’m sticking to it! 😀 Carrots for sure!

      • Charli Mills

        For some reason, ever since I was a child, I thought mana was dried apricots! 😀

  8. H.R.R. Gorman

    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.

    • Charli Mills

      It’s good to be back, even on borrowed technology. Thanks, H.R.R. Never total defeat — kind of like your flash. There’s always room for a bit of joshing even in a bloody event. Soldier humor the young messenger will perhaps get in time. But your line, “a grizzled twenty-one year old” got to me. Few things grizzle young men. War is one.

      • H.R.R. Gorman

        Thanks for the confidence – and very glad to be back at the Ranch!

    • Norah

      War is a bloody mess. I think you’ve captured its essence well.

      • H.R.R. Gorman

        Thank you!

    • Charli Mills

      You drop us right into the middle of a heated scene and carry us through to the feeling of defeat in the end. Good use of emotion. Romance is romance, and the pain is the same.

    • Norah

      Seems a sorry might be too weak and too late. One needs to think before acting.
      Well told and believable.

  9. Susan Zutautas

    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”

  10. johnrieber

    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!

    • Charli Mills

      Good to have you participate, John! I feel like talking about what we save, and how we save is a bit like a writer’s version of a death cafe. Thanks!

  11. denmaniacs4

    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.

    • Charli Mills

      It does more than try, Bill. Love the word associations and the format of three-word lines. I think you invented a new 99-word form of literary art! My favorite line is “Ranch dressing naked;” but the last end lands a good punch.

    • D. Avery @shiftnshake

      Reeling! Lines cast
      polls people adrift
      helmsman steering aground.

      (You do some cool shift, man)

    • Norah

      I agree with Charli – a new 99-word form of literary art.
      There are some strong messages in the mix.
      Well done.

    • Charli Mills

      Hi Michael! Thanks for your thoughts!

    • Norah

      How perilous could it be???

      • Michael

        Well computer might crash and all your data is lost.

  12. Nobbinmaug

    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.

    • Charli Mills

      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!

      • Nobbinmaug

        Nice save. I learned my lesson. I backup often.

      • Charli Mills

        My new computer is ordered and at the advice of my tech support I’ve also ordered a Seagate Backup portable hard drive. I will use the Time Machine function and back up daily.

  13. johnrieber

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

    • Jules

      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.

      • johnrieber

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

      • Jules

        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.

      • johnrieber

        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!

    • Charli Mills

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

      • johnrieber

        Thanks for putting up with me!

      • Charli Mills

        Well, you are putting up with a crashed barn at an imaginary ranch. No worries, John. This is supposed to be a place for us to play and have fun with literary art.

  14. pensitivity101

    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.

    • Susan Zutautas

      Good one! I wasn’t expecting it to be about doggie do’s 🙂

      • pensitivity101

        ha!Glad to have kept you guessing to the end. Thanks for commenting Susan.

    • Charli Mills

      Ha, ha! Good one, Di! That’s an important responsibility, even in our snowy realm. I’m forever pulling out poop bags from my pockets. They are in my purse, glove box, and front porch. I’ll do my dirty work, but not that of others. 🙂

    • Norah

      This was great. Like Susan, I didn’t expect doggie poo. I wish all dog owners would take their responsibility seriously. Seriously.

    • Charli Mills

      It seemed like a good time to offer a public service announcement on backing up our work! Thanks, Ritu.

      • Ritu


    • Norah

      I like your multiple uses of the term, Ritu. It’s a great story.

      • Ritu

        Thanks Norah!

  15. johnrieber

    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.

    • Charli Mills

      Ha, ha! Sometimes partners have to back each other up, no matter the social faux pas.

      • johnrieber

        Thanks for the comment, I enjoy taking part in this!

    • Jules

      Glad to see you found a spot, but then there’s always a spot for literary art here at the ranch. Some of us cow poke always try to ‘Back Up’ Charli when ever there’s a broken fence or a crashed commuter.

      Double dippin’ ain’t nice. Tony oughta known better. 😉

      • johnrieber

        Indeed! I was inspired of course by “Seinfeld” – could have named him GEORGE!

    • susansleggs

      Welcome John. You’ll find the ranch a friendly place to hang out and be creative. You won’t be the only bacon lover either.

      • johnrieber

        Great to know! Thanks for being so welcoming!

      • D. Avery @shiftnshake

        Finger lickin’ fine fun flash, John.

      • Charli Mills

        We’ll be eating bacon on retreat, too!

    • Charli Mills

      It’s a fun one, Kate! I got a special bucket preview. ;–)

      • calmkate

        I just couldn’t resist with all the drama you’ve had I felt you deserved a giggle 🙂

      • Charli Mills

        It definitely made me giggle!

      • calmkate

        good for you, naked and giggling … now that presents a picture!

      • Charli Mills

        Ha, ha! Sounds like technology woes pushed me over the edge! At least I’m having fun!

      • calmkate

        I do think insanity helps … 🙂

    • Norah

      What a fun poem with lots of fun images.

      • calmkate

        felt Charli needed a laugh and your post gives her another one 😉

      • Norah

        You can never have too many laughs. 🙂

      • calmkate

        ain’t that the truth 🙂

      • Charli Mills

        I’m liking the laughs! 😀

      • Norah

        We can never have too many of those! 🙂

  16. D. Avery @shiftnshake

    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: https://shiftnshake.wordpress.com/ranch-yarns/

    • susansleggs

      Your puns make me laugh. Can’t wait to meet you in person at the July retreat.

      • D. Avery @shiftnshake

        I’m hoping this flash is taken somewhat seriously. It’s barn raisin’ time.
        Here’s hoping Ms. Mills will be able to ski off of her peninsula come July.

      • susansleggs

        I was wondering how long it will take for 8 feet of snow to melt, We’ll send in a sled team if necessary.

      • Charli Mills

        D. will have me snort-laughing, I’m sure!

    • Charli Mills

      Shorty appreciates the crew watching over that six position.

    • Norah

      I back you up in your Pay Pal suggestion, D. It’s an easy button – back up at the top. A bit more use would provide some good backup at the Ranch.

  17. susansleggs

    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.”

    • Charli Mills

      Ha, ha! I think you covered every kind of back up in your flash, Sue! Crappy for some of the characters, but funny and clever!

      • susansleggs

        I even made my husband laugh and that takes some doing.

      • Charli Mills

        That’s the gold standard, Sue, making a tough audience laugh!

    • Norah

      Love it, Susan. That’s so clever. I love all the ways in which you used ‘back up”. I was hoping to do similar but my brain backed up and nothing would come out. 🙂

      • susansleggs

        I love how so many of you use puns. My brain doesn’t think that way. HeHe

      • Norah

        Hehehe indeed. 🙂

    • Norah

      I like it when you get up to tricks. Don’t ever stop. 🙂

    • Charli Mills

      Here she is, back to her old tricks, standing in the saddle.

    • Jules

      A wonderful trio.

    • susansleggs

      Thanks for sharing your blog and response. Decay is indeed hard to take when it refers to a place or thing we have held dear.

    • Charli Mills

      I mistakenly believed I had a solid one! 😀 Powerful flash, Allison.

  18. Norah

    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.

    • Norah

      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: https://wp.me/p3O5Jj-1jL

      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.

    • Charli Mills

      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. 😉

      • Norah

        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 …

    • Charli Mills

      A non-computer back up story with intervention. 😉 Fun take on the prompt!

      • Miriam Hurdle

        Yes, Charli. I had another one but didn’t have time to write it. Someone backed up the car and hit my Hummer. All was safe! 🙂

      • Charli Mills

        Oh, no! When we were broke down in Gallup, New Mexico, a truck backed into our car. The police officer who arrived on the scene was Hopi and had a sly sense of humor. He said we were just fitting into the community and had our first “rez kiss” or ding on our car. We still have it!

  19. Miriam Hurdle

    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.”

    • Charli Mills

      It’s always a relief when the backup plan isn’t needed!

      • Miriam Hurdle

        I was so relieved. The locals said the storm never hit Maui directly!

    • Norah

      You’ve linked to Charli’s post rather than your own. I’d like to read your story, please.

    • Charli Mills

      Ah, but there’s a reward for fizzling — when you write despite the lack of creative spark, you make more space in the synapses for future explosions. Good for you to push through and write!

      • Nobbinmaug

        That’s a good way to look at it. It is rewarding to push through.

  20. Jules

    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.


    • Norah

      Great story, Jules. Well done.

    • Charli Mills

      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.

  21. Ann Edall-Robson

    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:

    • D. Avery @shiftnshake

      All three stand alone and work together. A beautiful story, all told.

      • Ann Edall-Robson

        It was hard to decide which one to use in the beginning until the realization hit – use them all.

    • Charli Mills

      The constraint of the prompt forces decisions and sometimes delights us with unexpected results. I can see how each chapter in your trilogy needed to stand on its own to show a progression. This one as the starter makes me smile!

      • Ann Edall-Robson

        I love how your prompts provide the opportunity to say a lot in a few words (99).

        The flip side is being encouraged to expand the story into something more robust from that one word.

    • Norah

      Such a sad story.

      • Sascha Darlington

        Thank you for reading, Norah! 🙂

    • Charli Mills

      It’s pleasant when backup isn’t needed and the stories write themselves, isn’t it? But I believe in the rewards we gain from pushing into writing when the stories feel like mud. And the relief we feel when we do need our backup! Thanks, Sascha!

  22. Sascha Darlington

    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.

    • Charli Mills

      Your submission is in the bucket, Sascha! High octane caffeine sounds good!

      • Sascha Darlington

        Thanks. I need to slow down and catch up (kf that’s possible)..or do a check list. lol

      • Charli Mills

        D. All the above!

  23. traceyr1984

    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.

    • Charli Mills

      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!

  24. Molly Stevens - Shallow Reflections

    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.”


    • Charli Mills

      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!

      • Molly Stevens - Shallow Reflections

        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!

  25. Pete

    “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.

    • D. Avery @shiftnshake

      Hee hee. Guess her back’s up over the predicament.

    • Charli Mills

      This must be the revenge of every wife who has had to be the driver in a stuck situation! I remember the days of traveling with shovel and boards behind the seat for just this purpose. You and Molly were channeling the same vibe, different seasons!

      • Pete

        Too funny, I hadn’t read Molly’s post until after I wrote mine! Great minds and all, huh?

  26. Kate

    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.

    • Charli Mills

      Ha! The cat did it! Those wily critters have a thing for trout. Fun take on the prompt, Kate. Good to see you at the Ranch!

  27. Sherri Matthews

    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 🙂 <3

    • Charli Mills

      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! <3

      • Sherri Matthews

        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! <3

  28. floatinggold

    Holy crap! Those are mountains of snow.

    • Charli Mills

      Ha, ha! We fondly call them the Swiss Alps of Roberts Street!

  29. Charli Mills

    Sometimes a bride needs a backup!

  30. Charli Mills

    Thanks, Teresa!

  31. Charli Mills

    Thanks, Geoff!

  32. Charli Mills

    Thanks, Paula!

  33. Charli Mills

    Thanks, Chelsea!

  34. Charli Mills

    Thanks, Kate!

  35. Susan Zutautas

    🙂 loved it!

  36. Charli Mills

    You kicked up some gravel and 80s grooves with this one, Jo.

  37. Charli Mills

    Thanks, Tracey!


  1. Flash Fiction: Backup | The Dark Netizen - […] Carrot Ranch 28 Feb Flash Fiction Challenge […]
  2. s 3.1 The Fairy With the Broken Wing / CR 99 word version/ & MLMM Tale Weaver | Jules Longer Strands of Gems - […] Carrot Ranch March 1 […]
  3. Immobile – Let Me Tell You the Story of… - […] was written for the Carrot Ranch February 28 prompt, Backup.  This is one of those rare times that I…
  4. Breaking Point (flash fiction) – joanne the geek - […] This was written using the prompt “to write a story using the term backup. You can back up or…
  5. February 28: Flash Fiction Challenge – Backup. | Morpethroad - […] Written for: https://carrotranch.com/2019/03/01/february-28-flash-fiction-challenge/ […]
  6. The Backup Plan – Flash Fiction – Susan's Place - […] Susan Zutautas Flash Fiction March 1, 2019 1 Minute Carrot Ranch […]
  7. February 28: Flash Fiction Challenge – Backup | But I Smile Anyway... - […] prompt this […]
  8. Back Up Up Up | ShiftnShake - […] a post about the vital practice of backing up your files on your computer, Charli is back with the February…
  9. What To Do With Grandma – The Haunted Wordsmith - […] was inspired by the Carrot Ranch’s weekly […]
  10. Flash Fiction: Decay | Allison Maruska - […] I get to my response to this week’s flash fiction challenge over at Carrot Ranch, I want to share…
  11. February 28: Flash Fiction Challenge – Backup Plan | The Showers of Blessings - […] Charli Mills: Carrot Ranch Flash Fiction – Backup Plan […]
  12. When A Planter Isn’t A Planter #morganandlogan #carrotranch | TanGental - […] This was written in response to Charli Mills’ latest prompt, here […]
  13. Flash Fiction: Backup – NobbinBlog - […] was written for Carrot Ranch’s Flash Fiction Challenge. Each week’s challenge is to write to a prompt in exactly…
  14. The Backup | Light Motifs II - […] Prompt from the Carrot Ranch […]
  15. Right Quite Not Something’s | Chelsea Ann Owens - […] .Ranch Carrot for versed and ,rhymed ,mirrored ,Dreamed […]
  16. Coastal Cruising – aroused - […] Carrot Ranch Challenge, February 28, 2019, prompt: In 99 words (no more, no less) write a story using the…
  17. (f) 3.4 Restoration of a Normal Life? / 3 prompts in 99 words | Jules in Flashy Fiction - […] Carrot Ranch March 1: back up […]
  18. All the Time #amwriting #flashfiction – Sascha Darlington's Microcosm Explored - […] flash fiction was written for Carrot Ranch (Thanks, Charli, so glad to hear you’re up and running) where we…
  19. Rolling the Calendar – Flash Fiction Challenge | Jo Hawk - […] Rolling the Calendar Source:  Flash Fiction Challenge Prompt: Write a story using the term backup. Word count:  99 […]
  20. What’s got your back up? | Norah Colvin - […] cautionary post preceded, as her posts often do, a flash fiction challenge to In 99 words (no more, no…
  21. Go ahead, back up #Chester #flash fiction - Shallow Reflections - […] via February 28: Flash Fiction Challenge « Carrot Ranch Literary Community […]
  22. Flash Fiction (Back Up) – Tracey at Home - […] 28 February 99 word flash fiction prompt from Carrot Ranch was back up or […]
  23. It Takes Pains to Be Beautiful but I’m No Masochist | Chelsea Ann Owens - […] ever taken. Sunday, March 3: “Right Quite Not Something’s,” my poem entry for Carrot Ranch‘s prompt this week. Da…

Discover more from Carrot Ranch Literary Community

Subscribe now to keep reading and get access to the full archive.

Continue reading