September 5: 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.

September 6, 2019

All across the Keweenaw, there are abandoned apple trees. Crisp fruit pulls heavily laden branches downward. Decades of harsh winters have dwarfed many of the trees, creating gnarly branches. Despite the burden and neglect, the apples remain sweet and crisp. They have true grit.

The first time I saw John Wayne’s classic, True Grit, I swooned from the very start of the movie with Glen Campbell’s song of the same title. The film adapted Charles Portis’s novel about a 14-year-old girl named Hattie who seeks justice for her murdered pa. She hires Rooster Cogburn (played by John Wayne) to get the job done.

The movie is not a love story as you might think by the lyrics (a “girl” finding a “man”). It’s truly a story that examines what it is to be brave in the face of fear. Mattie searches for the toughest man of the law she can find but comes to recognize that she has what traits she sought all along. What Mattie must learn is that we cannot stand on our own — we need others, both fierce and kind.

What is true grit? It’s defined as “True resolve, determination, or strength of character.”

This week, my coursework continues to push into genre and themes. Genre, I’m learning, is not something writers can control, unless, of course, you are specifically writing with genre tropes in mind. As far as literary criticism goes, genre is ever-changing. Romance, for example, once had nothing to do with love and happy endings. Today, genre rules the marketplace because it is the easiest indicator of book success. Want to make a living by writing novels? Romance remains the number one selling genre.

Of course, unless that is the love of your pen to paper, most authors don’t know what genre they want to write. It’s easy enough to differentiate between contemporary (realism) and speculative (fantasy). But start drilling down into subgenres and Amazon categories, and it’s easy to get confused. Theme, on the other hand, is something writers can control. It is the why of your story and less concrete than the who (character), what (plot), and where (setting).

Last NaNoWriMo, I spent the entire month writing over 55,000 words of why. I wrote out of sequence scenes to try and understand the motives of my protagonist and supporting characters. I wrote to better understand the context of theme for my book. I came to realize that as long as a nation believes war is a necessity, there will be soldiers who serve, even if it forever alters them. Veterans need loyal spouses, and veteran families need supportive and caring communities. It’s a price a nation at war exacts from all its citizens. Like it or not, we are all called to serve.

A theme, according to Harvey Chapman at Novel Writing Help, “…doesn’t have to be profound, but must always be true to the  storyteller.” We don’t write books because of genre; more likely we write them according to themes of love, revenge, hope, memories, or any experience that moves us to understand it better. Chapman writes, “We’re all on a quest for ‘meaning’ from a very early age, whether we are aware of it or not.”

Writing books is not easy, and the act of writing often requires us to be vulnerable. This week, I’m finding that deep vulnerability in putting my ideas and writing out to professors and peers for critique. I’m challenged to reflect deeply on much reading and challenged to turn in writing with high expectations. At times, it can feel unnerving. The excitement of exploration slowly erodes as the trail climbs higher and demands a brisker pace. This is when I need to summon my true grit.

A graduate of SNHU, Angela Duckworth, studied grit because she learned that it is a decisive factor in success. You can start by taking her Grit Scale Test. She advises students and writers to organize goals with a top-level one. At Carrot Ranch and in my overall writing life, my goal is to make literary art accessible. This gives meaning to my creative writing. It’s like having a theme in a novel. Both themes and top-level goals are like North Stars. It’s your vision, for you as a writer, and for what each book you write is all about.

Learn more about grit:

September 5, 2019, prompt: In 99 words (no more, no less) write a story that shows true grit. You can use the phrase or embody the theme. Who or what has true grit? Go where the prompt leads you!

Respond by September 10, 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.


True Grit by Charli Mills

Jose tended cattle while Angelina refried pinto beans, mashing them in the cast-iron with lard and flour. At night he tooled leather to sell at the market, making coin purses and wallets. Nightly she carpooled with three other amigas from the ranch into Paicines where they cleaned the elementary school, using grit to shine the grout on the bathroom floors. When the winter rains returned, the foreman would drive them all south to the border so they could spend three blessed months with family before returning to work the rest of the year. Only now, there was a wall.

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  1. D. Avery @shiftnshake

    Who or what has true grit? Ooh ooh, call on me, I know.
    Look in the mirror, Ms. Mills. It’s you.

    • Charli Mills

      Sometimes I gotta muster it. And sometimes I just got grit in my eyes!

      • Norah

        I think that’s how it is for most of us.

      • Charli Mills

        Livin’ the grit. 😉

    • Anne Goodwin (Annecdotist)

      I was thinking that, and her motivational book can’t be too far away!

      • Charli Mills

        I can see the title now –“Motivation for Exceptional Ranchers.”

    • Norah

      That’s true, D. But, Charli, maybe it’s the unexceptional ranchers who need the motivation. I know who I mean. ????

      • Charli Mills

        Ha, ha! I can see that title would be better targeted to the “unexceptional” except when it comes to Ranchers, alas, ya’ll exceptional!

      • Norah

        I knew you would say that!!!

  2. Norah

    I seem to think we may have discussed grit previously, Charli, but what a fitting topic for someone pursuing a Masters and a writing career, while maintaining an active writing community. That’s grit. We wouldn’t achieve much in life with a helping or two of grit. Is that why you call your breakfasts ‘grit’? Analogous for the way to start your day?
    I enjoyed the Angela Duckworth videos. It’s always good to have a reminder to check out goals and the paths we’ve chosen. I was surprised how highly I scored on the grit-ometer. I thought I had answered conservatively.
    The topic (theme) of your flash is very current. There are those who require extra grit to survive.

    • Charli Mills

      It’s very likely we have visited grit previously. I got excited by the Duckworth videos and thought it worth sharing. I’m not surprised at all that your grit showed up on the test!

      • Norah

        I’m pleased you shared them, Charli. They are certainly worth a view or two. Thank you.

    • Anne Goodwin (Annecdotist)

      Me too (scoring higher than I expected). But I found I fluctuated around the level of the goal, ie. I WILL give up on a lot of individual writing projects that aren’t working (although I might return to them years later) but not on the overall goal to write more and better.

      • Norah

        I agree. I’m never sure how to answer some questions. This way in one situation or about some things, and that way in others.

      • Charli Mills

        I think both of you have the ability to discern what matters most and prioritize.

    • Norah

      Back again with my bucketful of grit to add to the mix.

      A Bucketful of Grit
      “Miss, Jimmie’s crying.”
      “Thanks for letting me know, Susan,” she smiled through gritted teeth.
      What now? Couldn’t she just finish her tea for once? Something trivial, no doubt. Better go see, just in case.
      She met a small posse escorting Jimmie across the playground. Their imploring eyes begged her sympathy.
      “What’s wrong, Jimmie?”
      “I, I —”
      “He got grit in his eye, Miss.”
      “Let’s see. Ah, yes. Better take him to First Aid.”
      The children moved off as one, except George. He turned and held out a bucket.
      “What’s that?”
      “You told Jimmie to find some grit. Here ‘tis!”

      • Charli Mills

        Ha, ha! At least he’s trying! A fun take on the grit and I enjoyed the message from your post. Teachers play a vital developmental role, but it takes grit to accomplish.

      • Norah

        Thanks, Charli. I’m pleased you enjoyed the story and the message. Funny your use of the word ‘trying’. Mum used to tell us we were ‘very trying’ when we were testing her grit. I think Jimmie had been trying in that sense up until then too. Hopefully the bucketful of grit has released the tension, for the day at least.

  3. D. Avery @shiftnshake

    “Up an’ at ‘em Kid. Time ta ride.”
    “Yep, agin. Let’s go.”
    “I need sustenance. Shorty servin’ breakfast?”
    “Ugh. You’ve groat ta be kidding. I need food that’ll give me the strength ta do what’s gotta git done. By the way Pal, what needs ta git done?”
    “Dang, Kid, why’m I always havin’ ta wrangle you? Ya need goals fer yersef.”
    “My goal is ta have breakfast.”
    “Ya need a big goal.”
    “A big breakfast then. With bacon.”
    “What’s yer long term goal?”
    “Ta eat fer a long time. Ya might wanna git started without me, Pal.”

    • Joshua G. J. Insole

      Haha! Very good! One needs ambitions, in this life. 😉

    • nightlake

      A kid’s mind works in interesting ways. Their lives revolve around new toys, tasty (mostly unhealthy) food, and new games. Enjoyed the read:)

      • Charli Mills

        Grits are unhealthy! 😀

    • Charli Mills

      Git ‘er dun on grits is a tall order. Bacon and beans is better.

    • Liz H

      “groat” Clever one! 😀

    • Norah

      I have never liked the idea of grits for breakfast. We call’em differently here. 🙂

      • Charli Mills

        Yes! You do call them differently and now I’ve gone and forgotten! I once hosted a group of Australian sheep co-op members who came to the US to tour our retail cooperative with farm to food programs. My co-op prepared breakfast for the group and one elderly man asked for what you call grits and we had no idea what he was asking for! He and I went on a hunt through the store until he found grits. We laughed! But I still can’t remember…

      • Norah

        I don’t think we have grits here at all, but I think of it as being a type of breakfast cereal. It’s probably closest to porridge, but we usually make it from oats rather than corn. It is funny, the different ways we have of doing things.

  4. Anne Goodwin (Annecdotist)

    Your post — and especially the first video — reminds me of what’s often said of successful writers: “it took 20 years to become an overnight success”.

    There’s a lot of wisdom here, and I like the point about projecting ‘talent’ onto others to let ourselves off the hook. Nevertheless, I have reservations about how much we should push ourselves. I think we can be equally at risk of projecting ‘grit’ onto others who have to work hard simply to survive.

    And people often have strong conflicting goals, especially regarding plaudits versus relationships / living well. Too much hectoring makes me want to embrace failure.

    For me, consistency would have to mean an average output, rather than the same target every day. Some days it’s more productive to take a break, and I don’t believe what works for sport translates directly into creativity. Also, it’s a very American / capitalist attitude to insist you can achieve anything if you work hard enough. Luck also plays a part.

    Phew, didn’t expect that when I began typing my comment still half asleep!

    Anyway, I can see why that song would’ve appealed to you, great reading more about your course and loved your flash. Very deep! And ties well with a review I hope to write today on a novel about migration from Africa to Europe, which will no doubt influence my flash. Or I might write about gritstone! Back later.

      • Norah

        I’ve just been over to read your flash, will be over to read the rest of the post in a day or two. Yes, indeed. Expressed very well. I think we’d all rather do without that grit.

      • Charli Mills

        Who knew you Brits would envy the Americans on their car crash to the point of staging your own! Love this flash, Anne!

      • Anne Goodwin (Annecdotist)

        Yes, a sad day when Trumpism is relatively sane. Today we have the Scottish high court declaring the closure of parliament illegal while the British ruled it wasn’t for the courts to decide. And the publication of the government’s own document warning of chaos if / when we leave without a deal.

      • Charli Mills

        Oh, yes, the cream on top of success or the sugar in the bowl when others have none. I’m more impressed with the kind of success born of grit, of perseverance to navigate the lack and still create or contribute meaning to the world. Thanks for sharing, Norah!

      • Norah

        That impresses me more too, Charli, but some do have an easier road than others. Perhaps they don’t develop the same amount of character though as they haven’t had to digest as much grit.

      • Anne Goodwin (Annecdotist)

        Ha, so I’m not alone in thinking that way! I love this line in the article: Hunger, indeed, might be the only differentiation in reaching success, but not in the way he’s describing.

        It fits with the stuff about women’s contribution to boardroom debates often being unheard, then applauded when repeated later by a man.

        What saddens me now is that the working class has been tricked into failing to see that privilege in the toffs who rule them, so don’t fight back in the way they used to.

      • Norah

        I agree with you about that line, Anne. Sadly, it is difficult for those who have achieved success relatively easily as a result of privileges (of which they are not aware) to understand the struggles of others. It will be a battle to get an equal playing field if the unevenness can’t be seen or recognised.

    • Charli Mills

      Ann, you have me wondering — do we project grit onto those who have to work hard to survive as a way of letting ourselves off the hook for helping or alleviating guilt for having better circumstances?

      Sometimes, I do embrace failure and it can feel good, sometimes even better than success. But it’s not about doing or not, it’s perhaps more an act of discovery and going toward the goals the continue to feed a sense of purpose for the drive.

      My greatest productivity comes in binges of inspiration, but I still work at it every day. I think processing is never linear like the capitalist workday. But creativity needs feeding and there are plenty of tasks to do in between. That 20-year writing plan for publishing success is about the kind of grit that is enduring. Letting go but redirecting.

      Thank you for adding your thoughts to the discussion!

      • Anne Goodwin (Annecdotist)

        I think we do that A LOT. The very worst case is when child carers are applauded / awarded rather than the burden being removed from their tiny shoulders.

  5. robertawrites235681907

    Well done on getting to the Beta REader stage with your book, Charli. I am desperately trying to finish off my Novella too.

    • Charli Mills

      Oh, I’m still at the workshopping stage, Robbie! It’ll be two years of workshopping. My novel is my thesis now. You are doing awesome putting your writing out there!

      • robertawrites235681907

        Thank you, Charli. I am trying to write as much as possible.

  6. Joshua G. J. Insole

    Hi there! I’m new here (this prompt

    • Charli Mills

      Hit enter, eh! Welcome to Carrot Ranch, Joshua!

      • Joshua G. J. Insole

        Yes, just a slip of the keyboard… Thanks, Charli! 🙂

  7. Joshua G. J. Insole

    Oops! Sorry for the other comment — the dangers of accidentally hitting enter before completing your message… Apologies! As I was saying, this prompt was recommended to me by another blogger! Here’s my attempt (titled ‘Good Boy’):

    During the days they walked, the man and his dog, searching for food, clean water, and shelter for the evening. They also searched for other survivors in the rubble, but were yet to find anything alive.

    At night, they hid, and took refuge from the things that stalked the twilight for prey. They slept sporadically, huddled together for warmth.

    They shared each other’s food and each other’s company, refusing to surrender that last ounce of hope. They held on to their reminiscences, remembering the good times.

    But they could not erase the awful memory of that blooming mushroom cloud.

    • D. Avery @shiftnshake

      Welcome to the Ranch.
      Dog damn, that story’s too…
      I’m glad they have each other.

      • Joshua G. J. Insole

        Thanks for the welcome! I had fun trying to fit it in exactly 99 words. It’s a great challenge! 🙂

      • D. Avery @shiftnshake

        I’ll tell you what others won’t about the challenge. It’s addictive. Saying.

    • Norah

      Welcome to the Ranch, Joshua. It may be your first story here, but not your first ever. It’s very stark in its frightening truth.

      • Joshua G. J. Insole

        Thanks, Norah! I’ve written a fair few stories, but never within the constraints of 99 words… I look forward to participating in future prompts!

      • Norah

        Paring back to those 99 words is a challenge, I always find, but I’m getting ‘better’ at it — maybe just better at counting. I look forward to future stories, Joshua.

    • Charli Mills

      No worries! Shows you are as human as the rest of us here. Glad to have you at Carrot Ranch. Wow, what a stark setting and wonderfully set up to give great impact to the last line.

  8. pensitivity101

    On her Terms

    She refused to give in to it, to feel sorry for herself and let it take over her life.
    Determined to smile, she’d make jokes about losing her hair and chosing a variety a wigs in colours and styles she’d only ever dreamed to try.
    She sought out others, raising their spirits, encouraging positivity rather than misery and defeat.
    She exuded unbounded energy, forever upbeat, offering a listening ear, hand to hold, or shoulder to cry on.
    When her time came, she met it full on, surrounded by friends and family, and died with a smile on her lips.

    • Charli Mills

      What a life well-lived. She did it her way! Thanks, Di!

      • pensitivity101

        You’re welcome Charli

    • Norah

      That is true grit. It’s not an easy road.

      • pensitivity101

        My friend was remarkable.

      • Norah

        So, a true story then. She was remarkable. I’m sorry for your loss. So sad.

      • pensitivity101

        Based on one Nora. I wasn’t with her at the end but she was an inspiration to many.

  9. Jules


    I’m going to have to make some time for those videos… I’m running behind. Seems like I can never quite catch up on all the reading I want to do. Walls make it hard for true grit and determination to work.

    I went with what came to mind… I did a three parts for: The New Becchino

    Part 1

    Seemed like Ole Ricciardo had a high forehead. He was teaching young Marcell about gravedigging. “You’re early,” he said as Marcell’s long legs seemed to lope towards the open door of his caretaker’s cottage at the far back edge of the large old cemetery. “Takes true grit to do this job. Especially when you’ve got to put someone in an unmarked grave.”

    “Get many of them kind,” asked the younger man?

    “More than the locals think. Mostly ‘cas they don’t wanna know. Them lives, they lived true. All they got left is me and you now. Soon just you.”

    Part 2

    Marcell wondered if Ole Ricciardo had always been bald. Or if the job made him lose his hair? With times being tough one took on the apprenticeship of whatever was available. If grave digging was going to be his lot, might as well be the best at it.

    Even with the shifting of burial practices, most folks seemed to think that six feet under was earned. The paupers field in his old home town held too many who couldn’t afford fancy boxes. Marcell had gotten used to quiet of such sacred spaces. Especially after having to bury his kin.

    Part 3

    Ole Ricciardo sized up Marcell. There was a quiet about Marcell that said he had what it took. The young man had true grit. Had to have had it to come from a war torn town that probably wasn’t going to be on future maps. Ricciardo couldn’t imagine how much could be built over unmarked graves.

    Ricciardo thought he’d end up an unknown himself. After a lifetime of caring for the dead, especially the unknown… It was time to live in a different light. Maybe some sandy oceanside place where nature’s grit would blend with his own salty tears.

    Becchino = Italian for gravedigger.


    • D. Avery @shiftnshake

      I suppose that is some dirt digging that requires a bit of grit.

    • Charli Mills

      Fantastic trio of a becchino, Jules! Gritty writing.

  10. denmaniacs4

    In the latter half of 1969, I ambled through two of Canada’s eastern metropolis’, looking for meaning, getting nowhere fast. Two films , out of many I saw, enthralled me. Easy Rider and True Grit. Peter Fonda and John Wayne couldn’t have been further apart politically, culturally. But great films both. I offer this by way of explanation for my slightly facetious offering this week. But really, there is no excuse.

    Grit Storm

    Ainsley Bilge tossed and turned throughout the night. Grit! Grit! What the hell was grit? The question not only bedeviled his sleeping hours; it haunted him through the day.

    He vaguely remembered Gramp’s telling him about Clara Bow, the IT girl back in the twenties. What the hell was IT? He never knew. She was just a girl. A little too flashy for the times, he supposed.

    By the time Gramp’s related the story, she’d become a crazy recluse.

    Her IT Storm drove her bananas.

    Was that his future?

    He had no idea and remained grit to be tied.

    • D. Avery @shiftnshake

      Grit outta town, head west, young man.

    • Charli Mills

      Bill, your experience and two contrasting films as influence make me think how we do need to catch the vibe in opposing cultural and political thought. Media and politicians exploit differences, but really, there is meaning and understanding to be gained in the grit storms of life.

  11. Ruchira Khanna

    I hear ya, sista!!

    With regards to grit, I also agree with Angela since all my books have a theme. I actually start off with a theme and then build my characters accordingly. Actually sometimes even name them accdly 😛

    I recently published a non-fiction book:

    Will come back with my flash fiction for this week’s prompt.

    • Charli Mills

      Yes, that is one reason I’ve enjoyed reading your book, Ruchira — your themes that build your characters and drive the plot. Congrats on your latest book (now in my Kindle library).

  12. Pete

    George glanced at his fellow soldiers. Most were sleeping, recovering, hocking into spittoons, sprawled and spent against a fallen oak. The 8th New York Cavalry was plum exhausted.

    It the quiet after battle where George found it hardest to hold his secret. Here, in the sweltering humidity of Virginia, it was almost easy to melt away.




    She’d enlisted searching for freedom. Having escaped, she found a way to disguise herself. It was a plan so crazy it worked. Now, with a sword and rifle, an equal among white men, she’d found she was an excellent soldier.

    • D. Avery @shiftnshake

      It happened, I’ll bet. Hope she comes out okay.
      Wonder if any men dressed as women an endured the gritty hardships of all that that entailed.

      • Pete

        I’ve worn a dress, Halloween, early 2000’s, good times

      • Pete

        No, got mascara in my eyes though

    • Charli Mills

      Great gritty historical story, Pete! I’d love to hear more of this story.

    • Charli Mills

      Because she cooked everything in lard… 😉

      Thanks for a great flash! Good to see you Nobbinmaug!

      • Nobbinmaug

        Thank you, Charli. Having my work called great is exhilarating and inspirational, especially coming from one as esteemed as yourself.

        It’s good to be seen. I’m hoping to participate more.

      • Charli Mills

        Good to hear! I keep thinking about your flash.

    • Norah

      Wow! That’s a powerful story.

      • Nobbinmaug

        Thank you. I’ve been kicking it around in my head and notes for a couple of years.

        This is one of my favorite comments. Thank you again.

      • Norah

        It’s a good one and worthy of your work.

  13. traceyr1984

    Thanks for the inspiration. I am always telling my son that it is not enough to be smart, the way to success is hard work. I had him watch the videos so he knows it is not just something his mother says or made up!

    • Charli Mills

      Great that you could share those videos with him, Tracey!

    • Charli Mills

      That’s a difficult period, Joelle. I’m coming out of a three-year hold and its scary-magnificent. Yes, perception helps maintain grit. Gritty dark tale you wrote!

      • floridaborne

        Thanks. 🙂

    • Norah

      I think it’s true about perception.
      The things mothers have to do to protect their children. Good story. (though sad)

    • Charli Mills

      Teachers got it! And, as Norah pointed out, you gritty teachers teach it, too.

      • Ritu

        We sure try!!!

  14. D. Avery @shiftnshake

    Carrot Tanka

    “It ain’t fair, Pal. I know they’ve gotta git harvested an’ all, but why me?”
    “Shorty needs ya ta pull yer weight by pullin’carrots, thet’s why.”
    “I pull my weight aroun’ here.”
    “Well yer weight done broke a branch on the Poet-Tree, so I’m thinkin’ you bendin’ over in the carrot patch’ll be a good thing. Jist make the most of it, Kid.”

    harvest of wisdom
    raw carrots crunchy gritty
    sun hued skin earth rimed
    grounded orange airy greens
    dark and light are known to you”

    “Kid, how’s it goin’? Pal was concerned.”
    “Pickin’ away Shorty, no complaints.”

    • Charli Mills

      Keep picking away. Kid pulls more than enough around here!

    • Norah

      Kid may have broken the branch on the Poet-Tree, but ‘he?’ still wrote some mighty fine poetry.

  15. reading journeys

    Hi Charli
    You get a “gold star” !!
    Thank you very very much for sharing so much from every thing you are discovering and exploring in the MFA course.

    Grit: food for thought; it’s certainly made me reflect on my life, past challenges ; how did I approach things?
    I like Angela Duckworth’s perspective on grit as a well-organized “pyramid of goals” — the top goal is the one you are tenacious & stubborn to reach.
    Past FF — The Finnish word Sisu (I think) came to mind.

    FF: Thinking about a past FF, about Janice who had a brain tumor; and her husband Tom who decided to stay on, be with her, whatever it took. Grit.


    • Charli Mills

      Saifun, I’m so glad grit resonated with you. It helps me to process what I’m learning by sharing! The pyramid of goals is a good way to get focus and could be done for a book, too. Grit is a strong theme among writers and often what we write.

    • Charli Mills

      No kidding! Writing is not a short-haul, is it? Thanks, Allison.

    • Norah

      Your story is like writing – it doesn’t matter who publishes first as long as it’s your story done your way.

      • Allison Maruska

        Well said. ????

    • Charli Mills

      Your roots are soaked in the grit of your ancestors. I think you know a thing or two. You write people well, and yes, I think this fits.

    • Norah

      It fits. They’ve needed grit to get this far after losing Jimmy, and will need even more moving ahead.

      • Norah

        I think people with grit have trouble seeing it in themselves. It’s just who they are. It is more obvious in others.

  16. Prior...

    re: the fiction

    ouch – that “now there was a wall” line came like a punch – and was good.

    and your piece reminded me of a little of Steinbeck’s breakfast scene = with hard times and coffee and camp food

    re: the post share
    thanks for sharing about grit and your own writing and class learning and letting us share your vulnerability –
    and loved this part so much:

    We don’t write books because of genre; more likely we write them according to themes of love, revenge, hope, memories, or any experience that moves us to understand it better. Chapman writes, “We’re all on a quest for ‘meaning’ from a very early age, whether we are aware of it or not.”

    • Charli Mills

      Thanks for the Steinbeck reference! Paicines was the town from where my buckaroo heritage comes from and I wonder how all the immigrants who work on the ranches there at the tip of Steinbeck country are faring under the era of a border wall.

      Themes are the subtle language we speak through our writing.

      • Prior...


    • Charli Mills

      Thanks, nightlake!

    • Charli Mills

      Thank, Net!

  17. Prior...

    Hi – I added my entry in the form and noticed that some folks add it in comments to – am I right? so here are my 99 words for this awesome theme —
    and wishing everyone a good week:

    Another Hit (99words)
    Sat down
    Stirred his tea
    Pulled off his hat
    Looked around
    Waited for his food
    Meager meal
    ‘Twould suffice
    Rather nice
    Midst of humdrum
    settling down
    hoping for new normal
    Getting closer
    each goal
    Still far
    Yet in view
    Quietly digging
    For GRIT
    making it through
    Sitting tall – rather than slouching
    He forced a smile – avoiding grouching
    Food set down
    Sniffed the crust
    “Thank you,” he said,
    then chomped his bread
    Each bite
    Restored might
    Helped insight
    One day at a time…
    adding to
    Hard Knock’s Degree
    Last sip of tea
    assuaged misery
    slightly free

    • D. Avery @shiftnshake

      You are right, many of us do put our 99 in the comments, but it is not mandatory. This is the front porch of the Ranch bunkhouse, or even the cowhands’ campfire in the evening; here we can say how cool it is to read rhyme about a Hard Knock’s degree.
      (Here some of us butt in and answer questions when Charli is busy with her myriad duties and deadlines).

      • Prior...

        Well thank you very much for that fun comment!!
        And the front porch can be quite a warm place – ????

    • Charli Mills

      Love how this piece reads and the way the emphasized words jump out. It’s a creative take!

      Ah, yes, I’ve been thinking I should do a clarification in my next post. Actually, it’s all about choices, trying to meet different goals for different writers. You can share here, and also add your flash to the submission bucket.

      Thanks! You have a good week, too!

      • Prior...

        thanks and as a newcomer here – the fresh air if flexibility is a huge perk
        I felt that in two ways early on –
        first – when you let people join in with no deadline – so if someone is looking back and has inspiration – they are encouraged to write even if not the current prompt (now that is encouraging writing all the way )
        and then also with the way we do not have to make a blog post to share – also inviting to make it more win win for someone who might need that option)

        and so now I get that there are a few ways of sharing an entry

        oh and one little thing – the suggested read of ten minutes?
        I would say “between 10 and 25” because some of us go slow – these dense little pieces always take me around 20 minutes to go through – 🙂

    • Norah

      Hi Yvette,
      Like D., I’m also going to butt in. I enter my story on the form. That way it is included in the collection published in a separate post without accompanying comments (and people butting in). I also put it in the comments in case people like to read and comment on it in the post. The number of comments probably depends, to a certain extent, on how early you get your story in. You can also link to your post in the comments so that people can pop over to your blog to read. It’s a winner whichever way you do it. 🙂

      • Prior...

        thanks SO much
        and must say that so many of the carrot ranchers are very welcoming and appreciate that

      • Norah

        It’s a nice place to be. 🙂

      • Prior...


  18. Liz H

    For those women who endure working with the road crew, and the men who see it like it is…

    Road Crew

    The road ahead was long, no end in sight. Maybe relief…just over that hill? She couldn’t be sure.

    She sighed, squinting into the midday sear, then looked down at the road under her naked feet. The gravel, poured heavy and sharp from the back of the Transportation Department truck glinted maliciously.

    Those assholes’d stolen her shoes again, their jeers floating behind as they drove out of sight. Practical jokes were one thing, but with sexism in the mix, was it worth the higher pay?

    Bullshit! This was about more than money. Her feet bled as she started to walk.
    [Link to blog post ]

    • Charli Mills

      You caught this flash accurately, Liz! It’s about more than personal pain and suffering; it’s taking a stand.

  19. tnkerr

    It’s late and I need to get to sleep but I wanted to get this posted before the deadline. I’ll be back to read later.
    Any of you know guys like this? I like to think we all do, whether we know it or not. At least I hope that’s the case.

    • Charli Mills

      This is true grit, TN. Guys like this are legendary.

    • Norah

      Thanks for relying on your grit to get your story in. It was worth it. A few good men …

    • Liz H

      Sweet tribute to our Best Buckaroo!

      • Susan Zutautas

        Thanks, Liz.

    • Charli Mills

      Susan, you touch me with your flash! Thank you. I see your grit, too! <3

    • Norah

      Beautiful, Susan!

    • Charli Mills

      Thar it be! Thanks, Joanne!

    • Norah

      That’s a very gritty story, Joanne. True!

  20. Charli Mills

    Thanks, Jane!

  21. Charli Mills

    Thanks, Chris!

  22. Charli Mills

    Thanks, Sally!

  23. Charli Mills

    I appreciate your roundup, Sally!

  24. Charli Mills

    Thanks, Colleen!

  25. Charli Mills

    Thanks, Chelsea!

  26. Charli Mills

    Thanks, Tracey!

  27. Charli Mills

    Thanks, Jo!


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