Rodeo #2: Pro-Bull Mashup

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.

October 10, 2019

Where else would you find a bull-riding flash fiction 99-word contest but at Carrot Ranch? Come on, all you pencil crunchers, gather ’round and listen to a  tale.

My dad rode bulls. His dad and his dad’s dad rode bulls. My second great-grandfather wore high-heeled vaquero boots in an 1880s photograph, and while I have no more evidence than those boots, I suspect he rode bulls, too. When you grow up around ranch critters, you ride everything that will hold your weight (you can’t ride a chicken, but you can ride a pig).

Getting bucked off is fun, or so you grow up believing. Your relatives and their friends, congregate in the corrals, hold down a critter, set you on it, hoot like crazy throughout your ride, and dust you off when you faceplant in the dirt and critter-pies.

Following this generational bent, I wanted to ride bulls, too. I never got to, but I did ride goats, calves, mustangs, and even a few mild-mannered steers. Somewhere along the way, I got the taste of goat-hide in my mouth, and it’s kind of like getting the smell of a skunk caught in your sinuses. To this day, the barest hint of goat cheese makes me shudder. Eating it is like licking a goat. That and my boots are all I have left of a bull-riding heritage. The boots, by the way, are for when the BS gets deep.

Bull-riding in the US has evolved into a huge sport outside its original heritage. It’s dangerous, fast-paced, and still draws crowds. Raising stock for rodeos is also a big business, and bulls have names as extravagant as carnies or prize-fighters. It’s from the list of Pro-Bull names that this contest takes inspiration. Take a moment to feel the vibe of this year’s ride:

At Carrot Ranch, our weekly literary art and wordplay are expressed in 99 words. Several regular Ranchers often include the prompts or constraints of other writing challenges, and that is known as a “mashup.” This contest has several mashups based on multiple prompts derived from three Pro-Bull names, and the amalgam of two genres. Read the criteria carefully because this contest requires you to combine multiple writing elements and prompts.

Rosin up your writing gear!


  1. Write a story using all three bull names as names, places, or things: Bodacious, Nose Bender, and Heartbreak Kid.
  2. Combine two genres: game show and pirate. (Use the provided links for genre tropes and plots.)
  3. It can be fiction or fictionized BOTS (based on a true story), but if true, wow, what a life you lead!
  4. It can include any tone or mood.
  5. Use original details to express your tale.
  6. Make the judges laugh, gasp in surprise, or remember your story long after reading it.


  1. Every entry must be 99 words, no more, no less. You can have a title outside that limit. Check your word count using the Entries that aren’t 99 words will be disqualified.
  2. Enter this contest only once. If you enter more than once, only your first entry will count.
  3. Do your best to submit an error-free entry. Apply English grammar and spelling according to your country of origin style. As long as the judges can understand the language, it is the originality of the story that matters most.
  4. If you do not receive an acknowledgment by email WITHIN 3 DAYS, contact Charli at
  5. Entries must be received by 11:59 p.m. EST on October 16, 2019.
  6. You may submit a “challenge” if you don’t want to enter the contest or if you wrote more than one entry.
  7. Refrain from posting your contest entry until after November 28.
  8. Use the form below the rules to enter.



Charli Mills, Lead Buckaroo at Carrot Ranch, will collect stories, omitting names to select the top ten blind. Please refrain from posting your contest entry on your blog. A live panel of judges from the Keweenaw will select three winners from the top ten stories. The blind judging will be a literary event held at the Roberts Street Writery at Carrot Ranch World Headquarters in Hancock, Michigan. After selections are made, a single Winners Announcement with the top ten in each category will be posted on November 28. All ten stories in each contest will receive a full literary critique, and the top winner in each contest will receive $25 (PayPal, check, Amazon gift card, or donation).

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  1. D. Avery @shiftnshake

    “Pal, I won us tickets ta see the bull ridin’. Nose bender seats.”
    “D’ya mean nose-bleed?”
    “Nose bender. From pressin up against the fence an’ peerin’ through the knothole. Guy said ringside seats is sold out, this is such a bodacious event.”
    “Sold out? This rodeo don’t charge.”
    “The guy said we had to pay, Pal, but said I could git these seats if the price was right. I answered some ranch trivia questions an’ I won!”
    “Nanjo Castille! This ain’t trivial, he’s a pirate! This could lead ta heartbreak, Kid. Where is he?”
    “Sleepin’ off Ernie’s ‘lixer.”

    • Anne Goodwin (Annecdotist)

      Wow! You got this out before I’ve even understood the instructions! Well done!

      • D. Avery @shiftnshake

        But it doesn’t conclude. I fear there’ll have to be another epidode. At least Nanjo is temporarily out of commission.

      • Liz H

        You THINK he’s out of commission…heh heh heh…!

      • D. Avery @shiftnshake

        I had to read them more than once. This is a tricky one. Good luck to all brave contestants.

    • D. Avery @shiftnshake

      Reality Show

      “Kid, stop poutin’ up in thet poet tree. What’s wrong?”
      “Reckon yawl should jist vote me off the Ranch. I feel awful fer indangerin’ ever’one. Agin. I’m heartbroke.”
      “Kid, don’t git yer nose bent outta joint. Nanjo’s gone. Some bodacious city slicker name of Rudy come by an took ‘im east.”
      “Ta the Big House?”
      “I heard White House. They’ve got friends there.”
      “Hmm. I’m russian ta conclusions now.”
      “Right? But where else kin a corrupt pirate like Nanjo be tried by a jury of his peers? The $64,000,000 question is, kin we vote thet gang off the Island?”

      • Norah

        Hehehe. You just can’t stop. And I’m glad of it. So clever.

    • Charli Mills

      Kid didn’t break my heart — he jumped right into the bodacious mess and worked all the angles he could bend his nose around. Ha! I didn’t think about our pirate Nanjo Castille! Bitcoins didn’t work out for him, I think.

    • Norah

      Oh my! There is nothing else to say. Well done!

    • nightlake

      Thank you for this piece, Avery. It fits in both genres and the names seem natural; they are not forced into the story.

      • D. Avery @shiftnshake

        I accidentally put my reply to you down below in Johannes spot. Dang wee device.

      • nightlake

        lol. that is ok

  2. D. Avery @shiftnshake

    Reblogged this on ShiftnShake and commented:
    Hang on to your hats! The second Carrot Ranch rodeo event has begun. Give free rein to your creativity. This free writing contest will have you spinning and bucking.

    • Charli Mills

      I figured this would get all the writers dizzy! 😉

  3. joanne the geek

    This is going to be tricky.

    • Charli Mills

      Yes! Good ideas if you follow the links. Endless possibilities with the bull names. 😉

      • joanne the geek

        Had an idea about in bed this morning 🙂

      • Charli Mills

        Inspiration strikes!

    • D. Avery @shiftnshake

      This is a challenging event.. Check your ropes and enjoy the ride. These yahoos have a home field advantage and will not be contestants.

      • Charli Mills

        Ha, ha! These yahoos do have the home-field advantage but they also jump into the wrong corral! 😉 Good thing we’re a friendly bunch.

  4. Chelsea Owens

    Wowzer indeed! What a fun idea, Charli!

    • Charli Mills

      Oops! I toned down my wowser to a wow after learning what it means in Australia! But all in good fun!

      • Chelsea Owens

        😀 The more you learn.

  5. Chris Hewitt

    If someone manages to deliver a true story for this one, I think they should win outright. Good luck everyone 😉

    • Charli Mills

      That’s what I’m thinking, Chris! But we do live in strange times.

  6. Jules

    This was tricky… I submitted a contest piece.
    Have fun everyone!

    • Charli Mills

      La-la-la! I’m trying to sing my way to blindly collecting entries! 😀

      • Jules

        I do not envy the Judges this year! 😀

      • Charli Mills

        Ha, ha!

  7. Jules

    OK I think I got a challenge piece here….

    Sink or Swim!

    The very bodacious hostess was looking for a ‘Romeo’, not a heartbreak kid for her contestant. Michael Nosebender needed a new name if he was going to compete on national television. So he pirated the first name he thought of; Mickey Rooney. Since this was a match up for the silver hair set Carol let the guy slid in the third seat. Not that anyone with any brains would want to date that old curmudgeon.

    The widow Della Street wanted someone young to offer her a very romantic cruise far away from raunchy buccaneers. Florida’s Gulf coast would do.


    • Liz H

      Uh oh! Della gave up on Perry, after all? Why I oughtta…somebody’s gonna walk the plank!

      • Jules

        I read (while looking up the cast) that maybe… Della and Perry (but that could have been someones imagination) finally did tie the knot. I was thinking the widowed ‘older’ Della wanted someone to look after her for a bit 🙂

        Didn’t Perry walk with a cane in the older shows… wasn’t that because he got shot? Anyway that’s what I ‘game’ up with 😉

      • Liz H

        I’d forgotten that Raymond Burr (Perry) also played ‘Longstreet’, a snipered detective who worked in a wheelchair. Burr did end up in a wheelchair in real life, due to failing health and kidney cancer.

      • Jules

        I remember Burr in a wheel chair… but I hadn’t realized it was a different show. I’ll never win on trivia night. 😉

      • Liz H

        (I googled all this–just whispy traces of memory in my brain)

    • Charli Mills

      Fun challenge piece, Jules!

  8. Miriam Hurdle

    My brain is on vacation here in Maui, any thinking makes me dizzy any way, let alone this tricky one. I got all the criteria down except the #2, the only one makes me dizzy. Hope to be home in time to get my brain working, haha!! Good one, Charli!

    • Jules

      Enjoy Maui… I did quite a few years ago. Safe travels.

      • Miriam Hurdle

        Thank you so much, Jules! Now I’m home and let me do some homework!!

    • Charli Mills

      I hope you don’t meet up with any pirates to give you inspiration, Miriam!

      • Miriam Hurdle

        I went to a pirate’s cave in a small island years ago. It was interesting.

      • Charli Mills

        Oh, that would be interesting!

  9. Norah

    Reblogged this on Norah Colvin and commented:
    Are you ready to ride another bull in the Carrot Ranch Flash Fiction Rodeo? Now’s the time to write a 99 word story that includes the names of three bulls: Bodacious, Nose Bender, and Heartbreak Kid. And if you think writing about those is tough enough, just wait until you read the rest of the constraints. Just like bull riding, this one’s not for the faint-hearted. Are you game? Come on. Why not join in and have some fun?

    • Charli Mills

      Thanks, Norah!

  10. Norah

    Now you’ve really got these old cogs working, Charli. I hope they tick over in time. 🙂

    • Charli Mills

      I hope they churn out an inspired story!

      • Norah

        Sadly, not this time, Charli. But I still might have a go at it when I’ve got time. 🙂

  11. Susan Zutautas

    Here’s one that I’m not submitting as I’m not sure if it meets the criteria or not.
    I’ll try and get one done though before the cutoff date.

    And They’re Off

    Standing at the ticket window Ian placed his bet. Twenty dollars on Nose Bender to win. Meg the practical one put twenty dollars on Heartbreak Kid to show.
    At the starting gate, the bell rang, and the horses were off.
    Heartbreak Kid took the lead with Nose Bender three horses back. Meg and Ian, both excited stood cheering their horses on.
    Out of nowhere the favorite to win, Bodacious took the lead leaving the couple’s horses behind. The favorite won, Heartbreak came second, Nose Bender way behind, came in sixth.
    Both disappointed but they had a fun day out.

    • nightlake

      This was well-thought-out and interesting. I was not sure if mine met the criteria either, but have submitted one anyway.

    • Charli Mills

      I’m delighted to see that you brought your novel characters to the challenge, Susan. I like your use of the pro-bull names as racehorses.

    • Jules

      Just give it a try. Write a story, cut it to 99 works and hope it still makes sense 😉

      I mash prompts all the time – the biggest challenge is to get a story in 99 words! Good Luck.

    • Charli Mills

      Bull-rides are! 😀

  12. Ritu

    And…. entered! Phew!

    • Charli Mills

      You are among the anonymous right now, Ritu!

      • Ritu

        Thanks Charli!

  13. Miriam Hurdle

    Hi Charli, I entered the contest #2. Did I forget to indicate it was a contest for the Rodeo #1?

    • Charli Mills

      The form collects that data without you needing to add it, Miriam. Thanks for asking.

      • Miriam Hurdle

        You’re welcome. Thank you, Charli.

  14. nightlake

    Hi Charli, Hope you received my submission for the pro-bull mashup contest…If not, I will send it again

    • Charli Mills

      Did you get a “Receipt of Entry”? I fell behind with my crunch to finish my finals over the weekend.

  15. Sarah Brentyn

    Wow. That’s a real challenge. Nemas and the chosen genres. Good luck and have fun, all!

    • Charli Mills

      The contests are meant to challenge so I’m glad it is living up to a “bull-ride” at a rodeo! Thanks, Sarah.

  16. Jim Borden

    there’s a lot going on here; two tropes and three bull names! I don’t think my vocabulary is big enough to fit all of that into 99 words 🙂

    • Charli Mills

      It’s all in the compression, Jim! 😉

      • Jim Borden

        indeed it is!

  17. Prior...

    Hi – I submitted my entry and just wanted to make sure it arrived – this was a lot of fun

    • Charli Mills

      Did you get a “Receipt of Entry”? I did fall behind! I had finals due on Sunday, and I think I melted mentally on Monday.

      • Prior...

        well I just uploaded it late last night – (before deadline tho )
        – and have not checked my email yet – I was only double checking (right after I submitted) because last time I think my entry went to spam

      • Charli Mills

        I did find two in spam, but I don’t know whose they were. Rescued them, though!

  18. joanne the geek

    I sent my entry several days ago, but I never received any acknowledgement. Do I resend it?

    • Jules

      Contact Charli by email…
      #4 in the rules: “If you do not receive an acknowledgment by email WITHIN 3 DAYS, contact Charli at”

      • Charli Mills

        Thanks, Jules.

      • joanne the geek

        I had already done that and not received a response.

      • Jules

        Looks like Charli might answer soon as she has been reading comments this evening… Good luck!

    • Charli Mills

      Did you get a “Receipt of Entry”? I fell behind in the bull dust!

      • joanne the geek

        Yes got it last night thanks.

      • Charli Mills

        Oh, good!

  19. nightlake

    Thank you, Charli. I received the acknowledgment.

    • Charli Mills

      Oh, good! Thanks for letting me know!

  20. Sherri Matthews

    Good luck, all!

    • Charli Mills

      Thanks, Sherri Jane!

  21. antvadtica

    I saw this to late… nice themeanyway #BeCowboy

    • Charli Mills

      This is bull riding, literary style! 😉 If you have ideas for a prompt to inspire and dare writers, we host a flash fiction rodeo each year in October.

    • antvadtica

      I am reading this now, sorry for the mistake(s) here is the correction… ????
      “I saw this too late… nice theme anyway #BeCowboy”

  22. Charli Mills

    Thanks, Traci!

  23. Charli Mills

    Thanks, Chelsea!


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