August 1: Flash Fiction Challenge

Written by Charli Mills

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

August 1, 2019

The merlins chatter in the rain, impatient to hunt. As far as I can tell, they only have one beak to feed, and it attached to noisy vocals. Further down Quincy Hill at the lift bridge, the peregrine falcons fledged four hungry beaks. Birds of prey must be this year’s winged rock stars.

How easily rhythms of home return to me. It’s the first of the month, and I’m cheerfully paying bills. Electricity, natural gas, sewer, water, and garbage indicate that I have a fully functioning human nest. I’ve washed my dishes, swept the floors, and watered my veg. Last night I cut my own red-leaf lettuce with my own kitchen scissors.

But it gets even better.

The past two days, I’ve reviewed my upcoming creative writing courses with my academic advisor. I have an attentive academic advisor, not some loon too busy for a chick. Twenty years ago, I waited by the closed door of another academic advisor who never showed up the first two days of college, leaving me in a lurch. As an “older than average” freshman, I needed her signature for a class change.

Another student also waited, one who would have been old enough to babysit me as a kid, but age differences didn’t matter. We became fast friends. She advised me on what course to take, questioned my logic to pursue teaching English, and convinced me I’d be happier with a creative writing degree. By the time our absentee advisor showed up, my future was set.

It also led to an embarrassing moment. My advisor signed off on the course my friend recommended and just in time — the class was already in session, and I had missed the first day due to my advisor’s absence. I nervously walked into the class, interrupting the lecture. All heads turned to me, and I flushed. Stammering, I didn’t know how to address the instructor.

You see, I got my undergrad degree at a Catholic liberal arts college. I knew enough back then about Catholicism to address men like Father, and women as Mother — or, wait — was that men as Brother, and women as Sister, or Father and Sister, Brother and Mother. Lord, help me. I was confused! Professor would be a proper term, too, but I felt the flames of hell burnishing my cheeks, and I blurted out, “Father Downs, forgive me, I’m late.”

The class erupted into laughter. John Downs, as I would come to know him on first-name basis as one of my honors thesis advisors, laughed the hardest. He said, “I am indeed a father to my children.”

We feel vulnerable when we do something new and far beyond our comfort zone. We don’t want to become the butt of a joke or held up as an example of what not to do. It’s hard to breathe sometimes when you don’t know which foot to step forward first and everyone else seems to know the hokey-pokey. But we step out anyways.

I’m grateful to have the support of my current academic advisor. She has walked me through the entire online process of my first three courses. One doesn’t count, or as she said, “You can’t screw it up.” It’s an introduction to the technology for taking graduate-level courses online. Amazing, really. I get to study without leaving the Keweenaw, and in winter, I’ll sip hot tea while Tech and Finlandia students bundle up for an Arctic walk to class.

My first two classes at Southern New Hampshire University are 505: Introduction to the Online MFA and 507: Advanced Studies in Literature. The first one explores the culture and approach to writing fiction at SNHU. We each have to pick a book to discover the habits and behaviors of the creative process and begin to forge ties with our peer and faculty community. My book is On Teaching and Writing Fiction by Wallace Stegner. The course is all about the importance of the writing community for literary citizenship.

Be still my fluttering heart! I’m like a rock star on stage, acknowledging that this is where I want to be!

And the second course immerses me in the contemporary fiction genre by reading and comparing two books. The pairs are interesting — one classic (like Willa Cather), and one modern (like Sue Monk Kidd). The purpose of this advanced study of literature is to analyze storytelling craft elements in the genre we will be writing (my manuscript will be contemporary fiction). From our analysis, we are to develop a writer’s toolkit to advance our own careers as creative writers.

It’s school, but it is the Big Times for me. I’ve longed for an MFA even after I had decided I would not pursue one. I recognize the sparking joy as excitement fills me for this two-year journey. And how tidy everything has cleaned up in my life — the Hub has good care, we now have a groovy nest, I’m blessed with a strong and inspiring writing community at Carrot Ranch, and all the pursuits that failed have merely cleared the way for this. And I am ready.

Birds yet fly in the Keweenaw. No snow, yet. We will, therefore, attempt a run to Idaho to get what we can salvage of belongings. It’s a daunting task, but we have a plan. First, we fix our truck (the death wobble and bumper), then we head west for three days. Our budget is small, but we’ve priced all the expenses, found the best routes and stops, and we will rent a Uhaul trailer. It’s not much room, but I will rescue research and family photos, maybe some books. The only furniture we will bring back is my oak glider, a small desk, and our bed frame.

I’m far more anxious about this last leg of our journey, but I know it will be okay. It will be the final closure, the last chapter. This — merlins chirping outside, walls ready to paint, new desk for new writing, sourdough starter, a new king-sized mattress, rooms ready to fill, veggies growing on the vine, raspberries ripe for jam — this is home. My nest, my stage. Cue the guitars.

August 1, 2019, prompt: In 99 words (no more, no less) write a story about a rock star. You can feature a central character or write about the feeling like a rock star. Go where the prompt leads!

Respond by August 6, 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.

Rock Star in a Barn (from Miracle of Ducks) by Charli Mills

“Jukebox Hero” blasted from Danni’s speakers. She structured her barn to be her lab – a place to clean, catalog, and store artifacts. It was no University sanctum. Even the small budget she once had as a grad student in Pullman, Washington dwarfed her western set-up. But she used the space efficiently. She trained Ike’s family to save meat trays for her, and she scoured yard sales and free piles for anything useful. Like the bathroom cupboards some homeowner was throwing away. It formed a washing station. The freedom her own space produced made Danni feel like a rock star.

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  1. Lisa L.

    Ooh, I like this one!

    • Charli Mills

      Rock it, Lisa!

    • Miriam Hurdle

      Oh, no strep throat. I had it once but that was enough. I’m glad the antibiotics helps. Speedy recovery.

      • floridaborne

        I used to get it every year in elementary school, and have had it no less than once every two years thereafter. But for some reason I didn’t recognize the symptoms this time. Possibly because it has never been preceded by laryngitis before.

      • Miriam Hurdle

        How nasty, with different symptoms. Laryngitis may not end up in strep throat. Do you have fever?
        And you stayed home once a year in elementary school!! I know the school wanted you to stay home.

      • floridaborne

        My normal temperature is 96.8. I was running 98.6. Don’t know if you’d call that a fever. 🙂 The symptoms started with feeling like I had a marble in my throat. Then the laryngitis hit.

      • Miriam Hurdle

        After the cancer, my immune system was very low, I watched any infection or fever closely. I understand that adult temperature should be lower than little kids. When I had 103 for several days and went to ER, I was admitted.
        Hope you’re better by now. 🙂

      • floridaborne

        Thanks. It has been a rough year for both mild sickness (aka, those that don’t threaten to kill you) and stress. I know that my storms are like a light summer rain compared to the hurricanes that many people go through in life — and hope that all of us soon begin to see the rainbow at the end of our storms.

      • Miriam Hurdle

        I know, sometimes it’s the mild sickness that drags us. Do you have the same things going on all the time?

        Today marked 10 years remission for me. One lady in my social group has had 6 surgeries within 2 years, cancer related, right after her retirement. That’s not a pleasant way to start the retirement.

      • floridaborne

        I never know what my stomach is going to do when I put something into it. One day, I can eat steak. The next day, I can barely hold down ensure. There is always a feeling of discomfort in the stomach area, so I can’t wear anything that will be tight in that area. I’m light sensitive and wear dark glasses, but even so there is always a headache — from mild enough to ignore to full-fledged migraine. After years of worrying when the pain was going to hit, I learned some preventive measures to take each day. I appreciate the good days and worry about relieving the consequences instead of preventing them. 🙂

      • Miriam Hurdle

        The stomach discomfort sounds puzzling. I’m sure you’ve done many things and tried different ways to find comfort. My husband is per-diabetic, but sometimes the blood sugar goes above 100. He monitors his blood sugar every day for two years. He also keeps a log of what he ate the previous day.
        I had different health issue in the past, just went to the doctors to illuminate possible concerns, then monitor and keep a habit. Right now I can’t have processed sugar after noon time, or else I would be awake all night. I have two cups of coffee in the morning and no caffeine the rest of the day. I indulge myself when going to parties knowing I’d be up all night.
        Yes, my husband and I take one day at a time as far as our food and activities. 🙂

        I have a couple friends with severe migraine. I know that it’s hard to deal with. Sorry about yours. 🙁

      • Charli Mills

        Miriam, that’s good news to celebrate — 10 years of remission!

        Yes, it’s the puzzling and continuous health issues that can drag us down. Joelle, I hope you bounce back!

      • Miriam Hurdle

        Yes, the puzzling health issues… I had serious side effect from medication, went to ER, admitted, was hospitalized for 3 days.

        It’s hard to trust medication!

        Get well soon, Joelle!

    • Norah

      I enjoyed your story. Hope you feel better soon.

      • floridaborne

        Thanks. Ah, the wonders of antibiotics. I’m starting to find the “me” again under all that “sick.” 🙂

      • Norah

        That’s good news.

    • Charli Mills

      Strep throat is definitely something to treat with antibiotics. What a bummer to have, especially in summer! I hope you kick that infection and feel like a rock star, soon, Joelle. Thanks for your story!

    • Miriam Hurdle

      Hi Joelle,

      I subscribe some health websites, this one came today about migraine and I thought of you. I only read the outline. You might be aware of what they talk about already. Just pass this on to you!

      • floridaborne

        They covered it well.

        I can’t remember a day where I had no headache at all, even if it’s only a pressure around the temples and a tightness in the forehead. Dark glasses and a cap, staying out of lighting, having an office that is lit only by sunlight where I can change the amount of light using the window shade — those have all helped to minimize the number of migraines I get.

      • Miriam Hurdle

        It seems like a constant issue you deal with on your waking moments. Sorry to hear that. You’re doing all you can to cope with that. It’s a big effort.

      • floridaborne

        I feel fortunate to have an intact body (other than a few surgeries) and fortunate to find ways around the problem. I’m fortunate to work with an employer who has accommodated my need for very low light. Writing helps a lot, too. 🙂

      • Miriam Hurdle

        Indeed, you are. So many things to be thankful for. I’m thankful for no more major illnesses also.

    • Jules

      Heal quickly. Left a comment at your site.

      • floridaborne

        Thanks for the kind comment and good wishes. 🙂

    • Kerry E.B. Black

      Sorry about the strep throat

  2. denmaniacs4


    ‘Course, no one believed Swampdeck.

    “Ton ‘a bullcrap,” bellowed Calgary Pete. “Don’t even measure up to bullcrap, I’m thinkin’.”

    “Most things don’t,’ I chimed in, lookin’ to contribute.

    Swampdeck was insistent. “Saw ‘em. Saw ‘em fly in this mornin’. Stayin’ up at the Lodge. Big as life.”

    Fact was, the odd moderately famous person did show up at Cuddles Cove to get away from the agony of glory.

    But not him. Too big.

    “Knew ya doubting tommyknockers wouldn’t believe me. So, I took a selfie.”

    And sure enough, it was faint, but it sure looked like THE BOSS.

    • Charli Mills

      Bill, I enjoyed how you wrapped fishing around the point that rock stars have no anonymity. Great dialog!

    • D. Avery @shiftnshake

      I too saw the Boss, at Turtle Cove. Or do you mean TheBOSS?

      • Charli Mills

        The Loon Boss, the loony Boss or THE BOSS SPRINGSTEEN? 😀

    • anuragbakhshi

      Yup, moderately famous indeed 🙂

  3. Miriam Hurdle

    Yes, you’re the rock star, Charli. Can you hear the cheering of your fan?

    So happy you have an advisor who works well with you. I know the feeling. My dissertation chair walked with me from the minutes he accepted to be my chair to the minute he signed the signature page. And all the stories between the points.

    I like your text book on Writing Fiction. And developing your toolkit, how fun is that.

    • Charli Mills

      I like that we can all cheer each other on! I’m glad to hear you had a supportive dissertation chair. I stay hopeful for my chair as well, noting this school has a good culture. The texts, courses, and work will all tie into to Carrot Ranch which excites me, too!

      • Miriam Hurdle

        It’s good to have a field or community to practice what we learn as we learn it. Can’t wait to hear more from your study.

      • Charli Mills

        Yes! My thinking is that the whole community can benefit.

  4. robertawrites235681907

    I am so happy to hear that your life is coming together so well, Charli. Enthusiasm is, in my view, the key to happiness and fulfillment. I am deeply into writing my new dystopian novel and am finding it hard to pull myself away from it or prompts and even blog posts, but I try hard. I have managed to recreate some happiness and enthusiasm at work to [day job] after 18 months of sorrow and pain. I feel I have found my path back to happiness.

    • Norah

      Keep moving in the right direction, Robbie.

    • Miriam Hurdle

      I was reading some injustice and horrible deeds and the horror of people suffered from them, they made me sick to my stomach. I can imagine what it was like for you, Robbie.

    • Charli Mills

      Sometimes we have to walk through the sorrow and pain, and when the time feels right, recreate happiness once again. I like your thinking about the role of enthusiasm. I’m glad you are finding your path, too. Your dystopian novel will likely reflect how you have processed both the dark and light of life. And thank goodness for writing!

    • Charli Mills

      Thanks, Joanne!

    • Jules

      To be famous and retain anonymity – guess that doesn’t work does it 😉

    • Charli Mills

      Thanks, Reena!

  5. Norah

    I’m so pleased that things are finally working in your favour, Charli. Your writing course sounds exciting. I can just imagine how much you will enjoy it. It will make your soul sing like the birds.
    Retrieving some belongings from Idaho may mean you can collect the last pieces of your heart and have them all fit snugly together again. Your writing desk and your bed. Those are good things to have.
    I enjoyed hearing about Danni’s lab. It’s great to have a special place for doing things one loves, a place where one fits. As Mr Plumbean says in ‘The Big Orange Splot’: “My house is me and I am it. My house is where I like to be and it looks like all my dreams.” Who could ask for anything more?

    • Charli Mills

      Norah, I love the Mr Plumbean quote! Yes, it’s all fitting together and Idaho will supply the last pieces. The timing for everything is falling into place. My soul will sing through the coursework! Maybe warble a time or two.

      A funny story — a few days ago, I was out having coffee with the Hub and overheard the conversation of two archeologists (MI Tech has an industrial archeology department). One was telling the other about a colleague who had set up her own private lab at home. Immediately, I thought of Danni and what her lab would be like.

      • Norah

        How wonderful to have unsolicited affirmation that your story is authentic. I reckon that colleague will enjoy reading your book. She’ll probably even see herself in it. As long as she doesn’t think you’ve written her into it.

      • Charli Mills

        I should wear a disclaimer in public: anything you say can and will be used in my writing… 😀

  6. janeishly

    Ooh, your course sounds really exciting!

    • Charli Mills

      I feel like a kid excited for school again! Maya Angelou says, “You can only become truly accomplished at something you love.”

  7. H.R.R. Gorman

    I’m excited for your MFA to get started! Very cool that you’re finally getting to pursue this dream. I’m also interested to see a post soon about going to Idaho – that sounds like it’ll be stuffed full of emotional moments.

    Rock stars – this is a challenge I could get behind! Oh yeah! And what perfect timing this prompt has in terms of the charts and historical context.

    ***Sister Rosetta***

    Rosetta’s fingers blazed over the fingerboard, twanged the strings with a fire never before seen. She infused a plain instrument with dripping sexual tension and lightning power. Fans clamored at her feet, and her soprano voice carried through the speakers.

    The lights went down at the end of the show, and Rosetta made her way backstage. On her way there, a young boy attempted to accost her in the hall. “How do you play like that?”

    “Why sugar,” she said, “I practiced and did it ’cause I loved it.” She pinched his cheek. “What’s your name, honey-child?”

    “Elvis Presley.”

    • Miriam Hurdle

      Haha, he was inspired.

    • Liz H

      Love those archived films of Sister Rosetta!

    • Charli Mills

      I’m so excited for my MFA, it’s like Elvis meeting Sister Rosetta, lol! I want to do it like that! Sister Rosetta Tharpe could PLAY. She had passion and mastery and made it look fun. Great job, showing her direct influence on the King.

      After the truck gets repairs, Idaho is next.

    • susansleggs

      I had to look up Sister Rosetta. Thanks for the musical eduacation. I listen to live jazz quite often but didn’t know the name. I can hear the piano singing.

      • H.R.R. Gorman

        No problem! I think she’s an underappreciated rock star, so I had to share!

  8. Jules


    It is so nice to feel settled and in a routine that we enjoy. Rock Stars have their moments, but I’d like to think that scientific folk like Danni will have their day in the spot light too.

    Well… my flash could have happened, but with my children now being in their mid 30’s – I just don’t remember! 😉

    A Flash of Fiction

    “Is not!”

    “Is so!”

    “Out, the bus is coming…Love, you,” I say.

    I hear the children arguing. “It’s mine!” They bicker. Then, they get on the school bus. For a few hours I’m free. I can turn the radio on and while vacuuming I can feel like a rock star. I can sing at the top of my lungs while dancing. Take that Mrs. Nosey McGillicutty.

    I’ll drink my carbonated soda pretending I’m drinking champagne at some local gala that is honoring my accomplishments. Too soon the end of the school day will come to burst my bubble.


      • Jules

        Like singing in the shower when no one else is home…

    • Liz H

      When the kids are away, the Household Goddess will play! <3

    • Charli Mills

      Jules, your flash is an anthem to all the moms who rock out while keeping house! I used to blast the music when I cleaned. Now I use ear buds! 😀

    • anuragbakhshi

      You’re still a rock star Jules, that’s no bubble 🙂

    • Charli Mills

      It’s fun when our kids can give us inspiration, Ritu!

      • Ritu

        He has good ideas!

  9. Miriam Hurdle

    Hi Charli, here’s my flash. We studied the poetic lyrics in the poetry class. I love the song lyrics.

    Rock Star by Miriam Hurdle

    John Livingston stood in the center stage. This is their first concert on the road.
    Ringo started the percussion. John, Paul and George plucked the guitar for three beats. They sang on the fourth beat.
    “Hey Jude…, don’t make it bad…”
    The fan screamed. The girls reached out their hands.
    “Take a sad song and make it bet…ter…”
    The screaming got louder.
    “…Na-na-na na… hey Jude.”
    The four bowed to reach to their fan. One girl pulled John so hard, he fell off the stage and hit his head.

    “John, wake up. You’re late to your camping trip.”

    • Charli Mills

      Miriam, what a fun flash! I like how you used the lyrics and the action of the fans to make the moment feel so real, even as we wake up with John and realize it is but a dream.

      • Miriam Hurdle

        It was fun for me to do that one. I listened to the song so many times when my husband learned to play that song with his guitar. I could see him having that dream also.

      • Charli Mills

        What a cool song to learn how to play!

  10. D. Avery @shiftnshake

    Back to the Garden

    Without their devices, his children complained they had nothing to look at. “Look up,” he said.
    They did. On a cloudless night his children looked up and saw a summer sky.
    “Look at all the stars! What’s that big one there?”
    “That’s a planet, one of the wanderers. Mars, fourth rock from the sun.”
    “That one’s moving right across.”
    Lying on their sleeping bags they identified what constellations they could. They had more fun inventing their own.
    “Dad, look! A shooting star! Make a wish.”
    “I already have,” he said. “You are stardust,” he whispered. “You are golden.”

    • Anne Goodwin (Annecdotist)

      Yeah, some people don’t just not look up, they don’t look straight ahead.
      Your flash reminds me of a sitcom we used to watch about a family of “aliens”, Third Rock from the Sun.

    • Liz H

      (And we’ve got to get ourselves
      Back to the garden…)

    • Charli Mills

      Dad has them on the right track. I’m trying to write outside and keep looking up — passing clouds, maple leaves, fledged tree sparrows and robins.

    • Jules

      Son and Son of Son just did a weekend last month at a Scout camp…
      I haven’t had a chance to talk to either one about it. But I sure hope they had some fun. 🙂

  11. D. Avery @shiftnshake

    Straight Shootin’ Stars; or Fortune and Fame is Fer the Byrds

    “Pal, ya ever wanna be a rock’n’roll star? Git yerself an electric guitar, take some time an’ learn how to play?”
    “No, Kid I ain’t. Always bin content right here, jist doin’ my ranch chores.”
    “I know it’s last week’s prompt, but really, not even for one day?”
    “Nope. Never wanted ta be a jukebox hero. The only stars in my eyes is these ones sparklin’ at night.”
    “I s’pose yer right. I mean, what ya’d pay for yer riches and fame; sech a strange game, a little insane.”
    “Yep. Them’s shootin’ stars. Here there’s rising stars, burnin’ bright.”

    • Charli Mills

      Keep burning bright!

    • Jules

      Stars at night, rainbows during the day – who could ask for anything more?

    • Charli Mills

      Glad the prompt inspired you, Neel!

  12. Anne Goodwin (Annecdotist)

    You rock, Charli! Seems like a happy ending a promising beginning all at once. And well deserved. I’m hoping you don’t have any more adventures on the journey to pick up your belongings – you should be well nested in before summer ends.
    So excited for you! I’ll be back with my contribution when I’ve finished reading this novel about the woman who shot Andy Warhol.

      • Jules

        “Warhol had this to say about the attack: “Before I was shot, I always thought that I was more half-there than all-there—I always suspected that I was watching TV instead of living life. People sometimes say that the way things happen in movies is unreal, but actually it’s the way things happen in life that’s unreal. The movies make emotions look so strong and real, whereas when things really do happen to you, it’s like watching television—you don’t feel anything. Right when I was being shot and ever since, I knew that I was watching television. The channels switch, but it’s all television”

        I knew of Worhol, but not of him being shot – so I looked it up and learned more. Very interesting.

      • Anne Goodwin (Annecdotist)

        That’s really interesting, Jules. I didn’t research any further than the novel ;-0

    • Charli Mills

      We are considering some other options, which is good that the Hub is open to different ideas. It might be the same cost to hire movers since everything is already packed and in storage. Nonetheless, I’m excited to be home. With or without things. A friend recently quoted from the movie, Quiet Man (John Wayne and Maureen O’Hara) about how a woman needs her things about her. And I could honestly say, I don’t feel that way. Having a home, yes, but I let go of things, even if I never retrieve books or research, photos or chairs, I’m okay. But having a place to root feels good. A place to cook, a place to tend.

      Oh, now that sounds like an interesting read! Off to find what tragedy you encountered.

    • Charli Mills

      Thanks, Dave!

    • Jules

      I enjoyed your contribution of a geological rock star very much 🙂
      Thank you for the added history.

    • Charli Mills

      Geology holds my favorite rock stars, Gordon!

  13. petespringerauthor

    My maiden voyage at Carrot Ranch:

    What Am I Doing Here?
    by Pete Springer

    Billy Harris staggered to the back of the tour bus and questioned his career choice for the fiftieth time. He sipped on his third Jack Daniels of the night in some dinky town he had never heard of in New Mexico. It was such a glamorous thought when he formed his band, Agents of Doom. Sure, the adulation and the women were nice at the start, but he had grown weary of that lifestyle long ago. Maybe it was time to put his six-string up for good, go back to the family farm in Iowa, and settle down.

    • D. Avery @shiftnshake

      Welcome aboard!
      I agree, go back to Iowa to the agents of bloom.

    • Jules

      Indeedy, what D. said. 🙂

    • Charli Mills

      Welcome to Carrot Ranch, Peter! After a while, even rock stardom becomes fatiguing.

    • susansleggs

      Welcome Pete, to this safe, fun place to write.

    • Charli Mills

      A fun conclusion. Yet I think these characters could bubble up again.

  14. D. Avery @shiftnshake


    “Why not, Marge? You guys always pick, always either the same old pub or Nathan’s. Kristof wants to go to that karaoke place. Besides, it could be fun, we can pick on the wannabe singers.”
    “Ok, Nard. I’ll let Ilene and Lloyd know.”
    “No way, you two. You’re not going if you intend to pick on the participants.”
    “Come on, Kristof, they’re always funny. Up there butchering good songs, strutting their rock and roll fantasies for all to see. Fair game. Price of rock’n’roll. Besides, what do you care?”
    “I care because I’ll be taking the stage. *Rocket Man*.”

    • Charli Mills

      Everybody has rock’n’roll fantasies, but not everybody lives them out on stage! That’s what makes karaoke both fun and funny.

      • pedometergeek

        And that is why there are showers for those who sing in the key of Off. 😉

      • Charli Mills

        Ha, ha!

  15. Faith A. Colburn

    Boy Charli, I remember those days, going back to school in my late forties. I would walk out of class so overstimulated that my teeth would chatter. I was in and out of classes for the next 20 years, earning two master’s degrees. (No MFA offered in the local college where I could take nine hours a semester for free because I was on staff.) I didn’t want to teach anyway and I got wonderful creative writing instruction.

    • Charli Mills

      Faith, I’m chuckling at your description of overstimulation! Yep, I see teeth-chattering ion my future! It’s wonderful to learn. I’ll add to it — wonderful to teach, too. I’m glad you had such fulfilling instruction.

  16. Chelsea Owens

    😀 “Father” instead of “Professor;” what an awesome blunder! And I’m so, so excited about your house news!!

    I wish I lived a bit closer to Idaho and owned a truck. I’d help you haul your memories.

    • Charli Mills

      To err with “Professor” would have been better, but it was funny and memorable with “Father.”

      It would be great to get a convoy of truck-driving writers to haul memories!

  17. Liz H

    Sounds like your ducks are lining up in their desired rows–a happy Miracle of Ducks, if you don’t mind my quipping!
    Here’s what comes to me on this weekend morning:

    Caffeinated Rock Star

    Click, click, and click. She scrolled down, drumming her non-mousing hand, as pictures froze and popped at slower than a snail’s pace. Definitely not rocket science, but she had places to go, things to do, people to be…
    [Continue ]

    • Jules

      As long as our family appreciates us.. we are rocks um…rock stars to them. 😉

    • Charli Mills

      Ha! Liz, there will be multiple miracles by the time the ducks line up with the stars. But it’s all working out! Fun 99-word story. I always enjoy your quipping!

      • Liz H


    • Charli Mills

      Thanks, Ruchira! It’s been like turning around a large ship, but now I’m heading in the direction beneath my North Star. Thanks for your story!

    • Charli Mills

      Thanks, Anurag!

  18. susansleggs

    So many hurdles jumped and one trip west to go. Your writing has a lighthearted sound mixed with excitement for your FMA. I’m happy for you and hubs. We will all continue to benefit from your endeavers as we have done in the past. Let’s RIDE….

    Living Like a Rock Star

    OMG being involved with someone famous is hell. I’ve been followed by paparazzi, and can’t go shopping or out to eat with my own mother without security. I can’t buy anything, at any price, without people saying she paid. She wouldn’t date me if I didn’t have my own money. Why didn’t I listen when my friends told me living like a rock star wasn’t going to be all that easy? I’m just realizing, if I can get out of this relationship, I will always be HER ex and it will be years before I’m known as anything else.

    • Jules

      I can see this in so many of the headlines that line the Gossip papers at the grocery store check outs. Glad I’m only recognized by some of the check out clerks as a regular shopper. 😉

      • susansleggs

        Me too. I was thinking of Taylor Swift when I wrote this.

    • Charli Mills

      It might be fun for a day, eh? I like that you considered the difficulty of being a boyfriend, making HER the rock star. It’s more fun to hang out with the regional musicians not hounded by paparazzi. The rockers, but not rock stars.

      Thanks, Sue! I feel more lighthearted, certainly more grounded, and definitely ready!

  19. Pete

    Dave exited the meeting room to high fives and back slaps.

    “Well done, my man. Can you fly out tomorrow?”

    Dave smiled at his manager. Of course. His spreadsheets were impeccable, his PowerPoints sharp. He’d been killing it at work.

    A glance to the windows, the Rockfish mountains in the distance. Shoot, the camping trip with Seth. Maybe Phil could step in. Seth’s loser stepdad worked at a bookstore, made ten bucks and hour. And Seth talked like he was a rock star.

    “Dave, you in?”

    Dave turned from the mountains. “Yeah, I just need to make a call.”

    • Charli Mills

      Killing it at work, bombing at parenthood. I can guess why Seth thinks his step-dad is the rock star! Nice twist on the theme, Pete.

    • Charli Mills

      Robert, I was hoping this prompt would inspire some fun, and deep thoughts, too. Thanks for adding yours!

  20. Ann Edall-Robson

    Cookie Rock Star
    By Ann Edall-Robson

    The aroma of a busy kitchen lingered. Cookies in all shapes and flavours waited for the taste testers. Each cookie made to fit into a grandchild’s hand. There would be chatter and updates before sampling every morsel on display. Eventually, she would settle into the old rocker. They’d stand beside her, touching the worn wooden arms, rocking her and singing made-up lyrics to favourite tunes. Ending in giggles, and dancing with arms in the air. Today, they added one last line they had somehow practised together.
    “Our G…R…A…M…M…Aaaaa is a cooookie roooock starrrrr!”?

    • Jules

      Perfect shape! Those memories of cookies!

    • Charli Mills

      Ha! That is a perfect way to honor a rockin’ grandma, Ann.

  21. pedometergeek

    Rock Star Famous

    My son Mark and his friends formed a band called Spike Strip. They rehearsed daily after school their two songs in the run up to the concert planned for Halloween.

    During trick-or-treat, they sang and played those songs over and over again as kids came to the door for candy.

    The concert was over before I returned from work, but that night Mark and his buddies were rock stars.

    So much so that when there wasn’t a concert the following year, many kids asked where the band was, disappointed that they weren’t playing. Apparently, it was a memorable event.

    Nancy Brady, 2019

    • Charli Mills

      How fun, Nan! They didn’t realize how famous they would be.

    • susansleggs

      Welcome to Carrot Ranch Jim. You’ll find this a safe, fun place to write and improve your craft. Good job for your first time out of the shoot.

      • Jim Borden

        thanks, Susan, for the nice welcome. I’m looking forward to becoming part of the Carrot Ranch community!

    • D. Avery @shiftnshake

      That’s a fine first! Welcome to the Ranch.

      • Jim Borden

        thanks; it was a fun challenge

    • Jules

      Yes, those little people are watching!


      • Jim Borden

        thanks, Jules!

      • Jim Borden

        I can’t seem to access your web site…

      • Jules

        Best way to access is via the post at CR Like:
        Shining Bright
        (The icon… doesn’t work.)

    • Charli Mills

      Welcome to Carrot Ranch, Jim! I hope you enjoy playing with 99-word stories. We have a great community of writers here!

      • Jim Borden

        Thanks, Charli! I am looking forward to reading other people’s work, and hopefully becoming a better writer in the process

  22. pedometergeek

    Geology 101

    Dr. Wright taught geology. It was his passion; it was his life. He loved his subject, teaching college students the rudimentary elements of igneous, sedimentary, and metamorphic rocks. He taught them how mountains formed, about the shifting of fault lines, and about volcanic lava forming scoria and obsidian as it spewed forth from inside the earth.

    At the end of the quarter, he took his students on a field trip to one of the local quarries. He handed them all tiny bottles of hydrochloric acid which reacted with the sedimentary rock, limestone.

    This geologist was a true rock star.

    Nancy Brady, 2019

    • D. Avery @shiftnshake

      And all the world his stage. I lava this one.

      • pedometergeek

        Thanks D. Coming from you, I feel honored (and I absolutely love puns…or should I say, lava puns). ~nan

    • Charli Mills

      Oh, yes — my favorite rock star would know how to get a reaction from limestone! Thanks, Nan!

    • Charli Mills

      Thanks! Welcome to Carrot Ranch!

  23. Jules

    A second belated entry… but important. Some of the stars I made are at my post. Please go to the post via the title and visit the link ‘Thanks for the Stars’

    Shining Bright

    The rock stars are the volunteers who help those who are recovering. Children and women are the most abused. And there is a project bringing awareness to this plight. “One Million Stars to End Violence” a project of PERAK WOMEN FOR WOMEN SOCIETY”

    I watched the video and made some ribbon stars of various colors and sizes. And I mailed them off to Malaysia. It took about two weeks in a flat rate envelope for them to arrive. My friend posted photos of them on her blog site. …I hope for more than one day the cause remains highlighted.


    • pedometergeek

      Yes, the volunteers are rock stars…you got that right, JP.

    • Charli Mills

      Such volunteers are rock stars! Thanks for your second entry, Jules and the story.

  24. Liz H


  25. Charli Mills

    Thanks, Jo!

  26. Charli Mills

    Thanks, Chelsea!

  27. Charli Mills

    Thanks, Anita!

  28. Liz H

    I loved this one!

  29. Charli Mills

    Thanks, Kerry!

  30. Charli Mills

    Thanks, Kelly!

  31. Charli Mills

    Thanks, Norah!

  32. Charli Mills

    Thanks, Tracey!

  33. Charli Mills

    Thanks, Jomz! Welcome to Carrot Ranch!


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