November 14: 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.

November 14, 2019

Storm windows form an extra layer against the cold like thermal underwear in winter. It’s that time of year when my global positioning triggers EOSO — early-onset-snow-obsession. I recently entered a short story contest dedicated to the theme of snow. I wrote, “I live in a snow globe where a dome of clouds hunkers…” Storm windows buffer my watch over the ever-falling snow glitter.

And they went up this morning with whacks and thunks. When your house has lived through 120 years of storm window seasons, a rubber mallet helps to pound the frames into place. My son-in-law popped by this morning to finish up a few before-winter-hits house projects because winter already hit.

Already, I feel less of a draft with the extra panes. I wonder, when were storm windows invented? We have the original 120-year-old windows with glass imperfections that can warp the view outside. Who were the people who lived here before, and were they window-gazers? As writers, as creatives, as dreamers, we stare out of windows.

“Give me a window and I’ll stare out it.”

~ Alan Rickman

“In the old days, writers used to sit in front of a typewriter and stare out of the window. Nowadays, because of the marvels of convergent technology, the thing you type on and the window you stare out of are now the same thing.”

~ Douglas Adams

“My favorite journey is looking out the window.”

~ Edward Gorey

“Set wide the window. Let me drink the day.”

~ Edith Wharton

“If you want the people to understand you, invite them to your life and let them see the world from your window!”

~ Mehmet Murat ildan

“I was just sitting on the train, just staring out the window at some cows. It was not the most inspiring subject. When all of a sudden the idea of Harry just appeared in my mind’s eye.”

~ J. K. Rowling

My friend, Paula, drove six hours from Minneapolis to stay with me this week while drafts of cold wafted through the windows before the second layers went up. She came to stare out windows, winterized or not. My vision for home and Carrot Ranch converges — this house at World Headquarters is the Roberts Street Writery. A place to stare out of windows.

Paula calculated that we’ve seen each other three times in seven years. Before that, we saw each other daily, working on a management team together. Paula is a leader of leaders. Specifically, she is an independent certified Dare to Lead™ facilitator trained by Brené Brown.

“Owning our story can be hard but not nearly as difficult as spending our lives running from it. Embracing our vulnerabilities is risky but not nearly as dangerous as giving up on love and belonging and joy—the experiences that make us the most vulnerable. Only when we are brave enough to explore the darkness will we discover the infinite power of our light.”

~ Brené Brown

As writers, to own our stories is to cultivate our authentic voices, the one distinction that will define our writing and keep our output original. We know all about vulnerability. To write is to be courageous.

My friend dares to step out to the frontlines of a VUCA world, to train leaders for uncertain times. When I first read the definition for VUCA, I thought perhaps it was a bit harsh, but then, look at the state of American politics this week and how much has shifted and polarized over the past two years. Look at crises around the world and our connectivity to it all. VUCA is a dim prospect to consider.

In a way, my friend installs storm windows, teaching leadership skills for a turbulent world.

Entrepreneurs are like artists. Or artists are like entrepreneurs.

“When I say artist I mean the one who is building things … some with a brush – some with a shovel – some choose a pen.”

~ Jackson Pollock

The Roberts Street Writery is a place where my friend could unplug from her busy uncertain world and slow down to dream about building her leadership consulting business. She arrived at the Keweenaw snow globe on Monday, Veteran’s Day. She joined a group of us from the Vet Center for dinner at the Pilgrim Steakhouse (they generously offered free meals to veterans that day). She joined one of my local writer friends, Donna, at the Continental Fire Company to co-judge a Rodeo contest and met my friend Cynthia at the Ripley Falls Home of Healing. We toured Finlandia’s facilities for workshops, shopped Copper World in Calumet, and had coffee at Cafe Rosetta. She told me it felt like there is more air here.

Carrot Ranch Headquarters is a place where artists and entrepreneurs can collect their thoughts, breathe, and find respite. It’s also a place to find an intact community. Paula writes about her visit in Good Times and Perfect Strangers. The benefits are reciprocal. The Keweenaw experiences new ideas, art, and exchanges. Roberts Street Writery guests experience what they need for rejuvenation. My friend is my fourth guest (our very own D. Avery was my first).

We have much yet to do to get the house the way I envision it for guests, but it is fully functioning and everyone enjoys its character. We have a queen bed in the Rodeo Room and a twin air mattress for the Unicorn Reading Room. After the first of the year, I’ll be hosting Silent Reading Parties and Write-ins. They will be live literary events simultaneously at the Roberts Street Writery and online. More details to come mid-January.

If any Carrot Rancher wants to get away to the Keweenaw, the Rodeo Room is open to you for up to three nights at no cost to stay. In the future, I hope to establish an actual Artist in Residency and seek travel support locally or through grants. But that’s likely a few years out. Like with everything we do, this is a simple first step.

If you are interested in coming to stay at the world headquarters for Carrot Ranch, shoot me a message. It’s an exchange: you get respite and a place to write, my community gets to meet a writer. I can set up readings from private to public, take you on a media tour, and let you experience all the Keweenaw has to offer or space for staring out windows.

This term, I’m studying plot and continuing to master x-ray reading. I’m plowing through I novel I detest, which is good. I’m reading carefully to understand how the author constructed it, what rubs me the wrong way, and why critics highly regard it. I’ll withhold final judgment until completed, but it has ruined my I’m-so-excited-to-read-every-day vibe. It’s work.

The other two novels offer more story, although one has horrible characters. Mind you, they are well-crafted characters, but shallow, racist, sexist, selfish characters. The third book has a great narrative drive and a protagonist (a book conservator). But the point of my opinion is that not all readers are a book’s target market. As an MFA student, I don’t get to read my pleasure. I’m reading as an author, and each book is teaching me something about the craft and industry marketing.

I’ve talked before about plotters and pantsers (writing by the seat of your pants). I firmly believe a book writer must be both, but how and when is a matter of learning to work to one’s strength. I identify as a pantser, but professionally, I’m striving for plantser, an intentional combination. I’m excited to be learning more about how to plot.

This week, I learned a way to craft a chapter like it were carpentry. Author Gabriel Garcia Marquez described in an interview (Writing Craftsmanship, Films on Demand) how the writer is to hook the reader by revealing the what but not the how. He gives an example of an opening that makes a reader wonder if the character gets killed. Our curiosity often breaks the spell to flip to the last page. Instead, Marquez advises, state right away that the character gets killed and then hook the reader line by line with the story of how.

One of my professors also linked to Kurt Vonnegut’s Shapes of Stories! We already know that one. But it is a useful technique to think of every story you are familiar with (from fairy tales to books read) and name their shapes. This exercise teaches you to identify plot. You can also answer these questions in brief when you read:

  1. How is the plot introduced?
  2. How does the plot develop?
  3. How does the plot climax?
  4. What is the plot’s resolution?

Know the difference between premise and plot. Think of a premise as that the what-if setup — what if an orphaned boy was capable of magic and had to go to a secret school to master his skills? How Harry Potter does that and all the things that happen next are elements of plot.

My professor pointed out that often, early in writing, we have a great premise but no plot. Premise is not plot. It gave me an a-ha moment. I love to write for discovery. But that doesn’t mean I discover the plot. Therefore, it’s good to master quick plot-mapping skills (through learning to summarize book plots) so that you can plot while you pants. Plantsing.

And if you are the opposite, carefully plotting, make sure you also take time to write without the framework to see what you might discover. You can pants in between plotting. Plantsing.

I know we have stared out windows before, but let’s have some fun with storm windows as a phrase or device in our stories this week.

November 14, 2019, prompt: In 99 words (no more, no less), write a story using storm windows. It can be literal on a house, but also consider other portals, even spaceships or submarines. Can you make it into something new or build a story around something historical? Go where the prompt leads!

Respond by November 19, 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.

NOTE: Contest winners from all the flash fiction contests during the 2019 Rodeo will be announced on November 28, 2019.

Snow is the Mother of Invention by Charli Mills
Trudging snowy streets in blizzard conditions, Regis arrived home. He flipped a spring-loaded mechanism at the side of each lens of improvised goggles. In place, the outer lenses prevented moisture from coating the inner ones. Tiny nozzles spayed an anti-freezing gel that kept the outer frost-free without harming his eyes. “Eureka,” he shouted, startling the crows in his bare maples. He hopped, skipped and slid, crashing through the basement door, grasping for any handhold. Empty-handed he sprawled across the floor. Regis pushed himself up and whistled cheerily. Storm windows for the nearsighted might be his best invention to date.

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134 Comments

  1. floridaborne

    Fun one!

    • Charli Mills

      Glad you had fun with it, Joelle! I also like the play with the character names.

      • floridaborne

        Thanks. 🙂

  2. joanne the geek

    As someone who is attempting to finish writing their second novel, plotting is something I’m thinking about a lot at the moment. I’m a combination of both myself. I let my intuition guide me through the story but I try to be aware of what is happening and how it comes to a conclusion. I have an ending in my mind that I find myself traveling to, albeit slowly. A sample of my first novel is currently with a publisher, I’m intrigued to see what they make of it.

    • Charli Mills

      Joanne, I think we all have to find our balance as writers, and having intuition is a plus. That’s part of the “go where the prompt leads” — to learn to listen to intuition. Yet we also need to be deliberate at various points in revision. Hey, that’s awesome to have your first novel currently under consideration with a publisher!

      • joanne the geek

        Yes, it feels a bit unreal to be honest.

  3. Inner Wisdom Coaching and Consulting

    Thank you for loving me back into existance Charli. I treasure our time together and I look forward to visit #4 sooner than later.

    • Charli Mills

      Visit #4 will definitely come sooner! I’m excited about your future, knowing your value. Thank you for traveling across the upper Midwest tundra to get here! Always, lots of love for you here!

  4. Chelsea Owens

    Keep teaching us! I love the information! And, hold that room for me, for about five years from now!

    • Charli Mills

      I’m glad you find the information useful. It helps me to retain it, too! Alright, the room is reserved for five years from now in your name. 😉

      • Chelsea Owens

        Yes!!

    • Charli Mills

      Yes! I was hoping someone would write storm windows on a spaceship. Thanks, Joanne!

      • joanne the geek

        I think I thought of a science fiction story as you mentioned a spaceship in the prompt and that instantly gave me a vision of a spaceship flying through a tempestuous nebula.

      • Charli Mills

        I liked the Crimson Nebula that you named it.

  5. nightlake

    Hi Charli, This is indeed an inspiring prompt and amazing quotes by writers. Lucky are those who get to stay in the Carrot Ranch HQ. Have a lovely weekend ahead. Cheers!

  6. robertawrites235681907

    I am so glad everything is coming together so well for you, Charli.

    • Charli Mills

      Thank you, Robbie! Every step counts.

  7. Miriam Hurdle

    I hope the 120 year-old house has enough outlets for electricals, Charli. I’m glad your study is coming along well. Plotting is interesting. I remember those four steps in my very, very early writing, say, elementary school.???? It’s the art of doing it that counts.

    • Charli Mills

      Ha! The house was rewired from its original knob and tube wiring. There’s an original outlet high on the kitchen wall. I was puzzled until I found out that the original kitchen clocks in an electrified house plugged in, thus had their own outlet.

      Miriam, you bring up a good point about basics. Sometimes we advance so far we forget them. It’s always good to refresh the basics and add them to what we’ve learned of writing stories.

      • Miriam Hurdle

        Exactly, Charli. I think I did it mschanically as a kid, but now it’s an art.
        The rewiring has to be a must. I’ve seen some old houses without rewiring. People have to use extension cords.

      • Charli Mills

        It’s good to know the mechanics (and to have enough outlets).

  8. Anne Goodwin (Annecdotist)

    So much good stuff here, Charli. Love the quote from Brené Brown – that’s exactly what therapy ought to do. And I agree with your friend Paula – training for turbulence is the only way forward … I wish some of our politicians had been trained that way.
    I like what you said about reading for authors being different – having just ploughed through a boring book I often don’t have the patience to work out why it might be nevertheless successful. I think this one is more premise than plot. Premise is so much easier but I’m gradually getting to grips with plot in my own writing.
    I’ve never heard of storm windows in the UK, but I like how you’ve used it in your flash. Those windows would be much better than binoculars for watching the birds. My flash will probably have to wait until Tuesday when it’s World Toilet Day – I’ll try not to write about shit storm.

    • Anne Goodwin (Annecdotist)

      Amazing what a walk can do for creativity! I’m back with my 99-word story Whatever happened to Rose and Storm? perhaps more influenced by other aspects of your post than the prompt, along with various musings and my two latest novel reads:
      Women behind and before the camera: Delayed Rays of a Star & The Girl with the Leica https://annegoodwin.weebly.com/1/post/2019/11/women-behind-and-before-the-camera-delayed-rays-of-a-star-the-girl-with-the-leica.html

    • Charli Mills

      Too bad we can’t set prerequisites before allowing politicians loose on their people. The only one that seems to matter (at least in the US) is wealth.

      Evidently storm windows are obsolete (says an article when I tried to find out when and where they came into being). As to the glasses, yes, I hope those get invented. I could use them, including birding activities.

      Ah, World Toilet Day! I’ll remember that for Tuesday. Well, I think we have a high chance of global shit storms continuining.

      • Anne Goodwin (Annecdotist)

        I just assumed storm windows were a standard American thing, like presidents who think they’re above the law. Fortunately wealth isn’t a prerequisite for high office here but arrogance and upper-class buffoonery sadly goes down well. It’s amazing what people are willing to let toffs get away with, although good to see a teeny bit of criticism of a prince (gosh, I’m so embarrassed setting down the words that should only ever arise in fairytales) honourably standing by his paedophile chum rather than the alleged victims.

      • Charli Mills

        May our storm windows save us from lawless presidents, princes and pedophile pals. Or maybe that’s the problem — hiding behind an extra layer of glass so we don’t have to see the storm coming, just draw the curtains, wait for it to pass. We need better accountability and justice.

      • Anne Goodwin (Annecdotist)

        Ha, yes, looking out at the storm, ignoring the climate crisis!

  9. Jim Borden

    Carrot Ranch sounds like a wonderful place, and I with you the best as you work towards your vision of what it can be. Loved the quote from J.K. Rowling.

    • Charli Mills

      Thank you for your wishes toward the vision, Jim! It’s growing. I like her quote, too.

      • Jim Borden

        🙂

  10. H.R.R. Gorman

    Excellent! Sounds like you’re well on your way to an excellent writing adventure! Maybe one day I’ll pay a visit? 😉

    • Charli Mills

      Yes! This is a great place to visit — two national parks (one historical, the other the most remote in the lower 48) and pasties. And writers will be treated like gold (er, copper).

      • H.R.R. Gorman

        The pasties are definitely a draw! Can’t deny that. 😉

      • Charli Mills

        Pasty shop within walking distance…

  11. Sarah Brentyn

    Fantastic quotes. Also, I adore Brené. She’s amazing. (I would have to keep those windows–I know it’s not good for drafts but…wow.) 🙂

    • Charli Mills

      They are lovely window, Sarah and I think they do help with drafts. Probably not as much as modern windows, bit I love the warps! Ah, Brene Brown is brilliant.

      • Sarah Brentyn

        Yeah, I would love the warps and cracks and beautifully imperfect charm of them. If they are okay with drafts, bonus! 🙂

      • Charli Mills

        Hoodies and curtains help!

    • Charli Mills

      Thanks, Reena!

    • Charli Mills

      I’m glad you found the information useful, Ian. It helps me to process by sharing, adding to what we know and experience in the industry and with our craft. A tense storm you took us to!

  12. bwcarey

    blurred vision

    windows, they are so small, the bump on the road, the vehicle is moving, why is the place so small, where are they taking me. In and out of my mind, is it the drugs they gave me, I try to get a view, it’s too high up, to look out the window. I was reading a book, was it a movie, i see back, but not too far, where are they taking me. It’s suddenly brighter, i am shaken from the recollection, we are in a city, we must be near, where is this going to end.

    • Charli Mills

      Good use of stream of consciousness to show confusion and build tention.

      • bwcarey

        thanks, feedback is always welcome, have a great day

    • Susan Zutautas

      For some reason, I couldn’t leave a comment on your blog. I enjoyed your flash!

    • Liz H

      Nice apocalyptic tale…is it ever fair, whenever it comes?

    • Charli Mills

      Every writer’s nightmare — on the verge of success and the sky falls.

  13. denmaniacs4

    My window is electronic, Charli. At least today it is. So in the spirit of Canadian neutrality (I’m kidding) here is a sloppy, messy sonnet (flash sonnet?) of the moment, awkward, as true to me as the moment allows…

    Storm Clouds

    Like a chaotic cyclone, the trickster spins his webs,
    A dervish of deceit, a gong of goose-steps,
    A shallow man of no dimension,
    Of mirror’d pleasure, of foul intention.

    There in his bunker, his mind aflutter
    With tortured tweets and callow clutter,
    He grasps the world through his video shutter,
    A portal seen from his POTUS gutter.

    How are we to understand this mock-man kitsch,
    His toxic assault on Marie Yovanovitch?
    Slathered in his cholesterol tweets,
    His cries descend to bulbous bleats.

    Will there be a reprieve, a cleansing storm,
    A clarity, a return to reason, to decent form?

    http://www.engleson.ca

    • Susan Zutautas

      Fantastic!

    • Liz H

      We keep hoping, as the dominoes begin to topple…

    • Charli Mills

      Clear vision through your window, I see. I’m hoping for the hope in the final stanza. A cleansing storm is needed, Bill.

    • Charli Mills

      I’m loving this deep dive into our craft. But not ready yet for the deep dive into winter! Great flash, Susan!

      • Susan Zutautas

        Thanks, Charli!

  14. Jules

    Charli,

    Are those glasses real? What an asset they could be to anyone in such weather!

    It is truly amazing all that you are accomplishing! I incorporated the prompt into a hybrid fiction haibun with American Sentences (17 syllables long) .

    # 33 Account Holder?
    (hybrid fiction haibun with six American Sentences in 99 words)

    …While reading a love ode I become homesick for simpler childish times.

    The storm windows of my farm house keep out the cold, yet my heart feels chilled.

    Put the kettle on, we’ll all have tea; just me, my Dawg, Byrd and Lucky.

    Was the diamond bracelet was bought or stolen; are they even real?

    Could Sam Marshall look at documents of recording missing items?

    At the very least I could ask; a good excuse to see him again.
    ***
    …snowflakes create crystals on the windows.
    ***
    lost and found, trinkets
    of love; words of longing reach
    what are they saying

    ©JP/dh

    • Jules

      Link should work but the # is 34

    • Charli Mills

      Hi Jules! I need to convince a Michigan Tech researcher to develop those glasses. I’d love to have a pair! I like what you did with the structure of your flash taking it from narrative to image to theme.

  15. Liz H

    Wow! Your blog here has so much content and thought, that I’m going to have to do a multiple dive to get it all. Does Regis have a brain- enhancing wet suit I can borrow? 🙂

    • Charli Mills

      I’ll put an order in with Regis! He seems inventive. Meantime, remember to take your sunshine pills — Vitamin D! Helps the brain. I’m soaking up everything I can.

  16. Pete

    I held the plywood while Dad drilled in the screws. The board shook against my hand and I slammed my shoulder into it. Dad gave me a look.

    I’d begged to stay in New Jersey. Little good it did. Dad was sick of the harsh winters. No shoveling snow for the Harris family. No Sir. We were going to the beach.

    Now look at us.

    A gust of wind at my back. Two windows left, then we could get in the car and get up the road. The drill stopped. Dad looked down and laughed.

    “Sure beats shoveling, huh?”

    • D. Avery @shiftnshake

      Be careful what you ask for and beware the green grass.
      I’ll take snow, thanks.

    • Charli Mills

      Ha! I think snow might be the better option. I like the dynamic between father and son and the fact that the boy is old enough to understand the irony of giving up snow for hurricanes.

  17. D. Avery @shiftnshake

    The Plop Thickens

    “Yer lookin’ grumpy, Kid. What’s the story?”
    “Pal, there ain’t no story. Dang D.Avery jist plopped us inta the ranch where we jist plod along week after week. We’re jist a plotless premise. Thinkin’ we should git us a better writer.”
    “So yer schemin’ ta git a plotter ‘stead of a plodder?”
    “Yep. Nuthin’ ever happins ta us, we’re jist a collection a what’s with no why’s.”
    “Ya wanna have problems? Go inta a cave?”
    “Well…”
    “Kid, ya might not think it’s enough action, but yer fittin’ the prompt.”
    “How’s that?”
    “Yer an extra pane in the glass.”

    • pedometergeek

      Love the humor, D.

      • D. Avery @shiftnshake

        Thanks, but the funny thing is this is seriously close to home. I have schemes but no plots. Scenes but no sense of direction. Plodster.

    • D. Avery @shiftnshake

      Shifty Premise

      “Seems ta me a premise is like a promise. Givin’ lip service ta bein’ somewhere, but not accountin’ fer how ta git there. How ta plot the course, like.”
      “Aw, jeez. Seems ta me Kid, yer too het up ‘bout all this.”
      “Dang it, Pal, I’m disoriented. Confused. I jist git plopped inta these conversations with you ever’ week, but how did I get here? Why am I here? I’m a character with no story.”
      “Kid, mebbe yer bein’ here’s why you don’t need a story. Ya’ve arrived.”
      “But fer what purpose?”
      “Here’s a shovel, Kid. Draw a conclusion.”

    • Charli Mills

      Plots are just plops given shape. I’m sure Kid’s writer will plod through and take to plantsing (plot infused pantsing). The elixir is out there.

  18. D. Avery @shiftnshake

    Between Panes

    “Something out there?”
    Startled, she turned, unaware that he’d been watching her where she stood at the window, sunlit snow sparkling bright behind her. “Where do these flies come from, this time of year?”
    “I don’t know– it’s one of life’s mysteries, and a sure sign of eventual spring.”
    “I can’t tell if they’re trying to come in or trying to get out.” She unlatched and lifted the window. “Gran-pere duct-taped garbage bags for storm windows. The winter flies thudded like whispers behind the dark plastic.” She lifted the storm-pane. Drowsy houseflies roused, wings stuttering in cool fresh air.

    https://shiftnshake.wordpress.com/the-fold/

    • Charli Mills

      The season of slow flies. This flash draws us in, ducking the flies. The fun part of writing is playing with the lenses — wide shots and close-ups. This definitely establishes us in a place and season. This is how we write for discovery. Last week I wrote a 1,000-word story and had no idea where it was going to go. I just followed the character around and listened to her. If I do anything with that story, I have to find it more context, give it a purpose and conflict and climax. Always something to discover first, though. And I love the imagery of the flies.

    • Liz H

      Ah! Who’s foolin’ who, here? 😉

    • Charli Mills

      I’m loving it, to Ruchira! So many a-ha moments and I’m happy to share. Good for going outside the box!

  19. Liz H

    Here’s my take on storm windows, turning points, and portals to the unknown. Extended version follows on the blog page.
    Happy trails, Ranchers!

    Storm Windows

    Jared leaned against the bar, one boot heel hooked on the rail. His spurs lay next to his whiskey, silent as the glass was empty. Time to decide.

    He could ride south to his father’s oil refinery. That way lay fine suits, easy money, easier women. His father’d left his family, but he might want to know his son. The resemblance? Startling , if his mother Lula’s cameo locket was any indication…
    [Continue ]

    • D. Avery @shiftnshake

      Both versions leave me wanting to know more.

      • Liz H

        The elusive Lula stories unfold as they will. Can tap the ‘Lula’ tag to see others…

      • D. Avery @shiftnshake

        Ill do that. Unfold as they will? Hmm. Plodster.

      • Liz H

        The plodster is someone who doesn’t know where she’s going, but just keeps on keepin’ on? 😀

      • D. Avery @shiftnshake

        There’s hope for plodsters, they’ll get there (or somewhere) eventually.
        But we plopsters? Scatterings of smatterings, watch where you step.

      • Liz H

        To grow something as sweet as a rose, you gotta spread around a little fertilizer. Just sayin’…

    • Charli Mills

      Storms compel us to action. Jared is at a crossroads at his mother’s saloon. She’s wise to let him decide. It’ll be a storm her has to cross either direction. Great western!

      • Liz H

        Thanks! Yee-HAW!!

  20. pedometergeek

    Tipping the Beaufort Scale

    Serafina loved wind, from warm southern breezes to biting northern squalls; she loved rain especially thunderstorms; she loved snow, blizzards as well as all the feathery, drifting flakes; but hurricanes, tornadoes, typhoons, and cyclones may have been her favorite meteorological events.

    Serafina controlled them all from her tower room, which had four windows, one to the east, one to the west, one to the north, and one to the south. With the touch of her hand on the panes of the storm windows, she sent out tempests to wreck havoc on the land and the humans, who wanted sunshine.

    Nancy Brady, 2019

    • D. Avery @shiftnshake

      It’s a great perspective, this. From the inside.

      • pedometergeek

        Thanks D. for the compliment. A storm is in the eye of the beholder (or is that the eye of the storm?) ~nan

    • Liz H

      And her alias was Prospera? <3 <3
      (think Helen Mirrin and Shakespeare's Tempest)

    • Charli Mills

      Nan, what a great image for the source of storms and deconstructing storm windoes to be the primary source of the weather. I enjoyed your flash!

  21. TanGental

    One day I will be there to see it for myself and collect some rocks. There must be rocks.

    • Charli Mills

      All the rocks, Geoff! I have all the rocks for you. Family accomodations, too.

    • Charli Mills

      Thanks for sharing Henrietta!

    • Charli Mills

      Welcome back, Nicole!

  22. susansleggs

    Charli, What an information-packed essay. Your links were worth their weight in copper. I learned the difference between plot and premise and copied the QOTD from Paula’s post about her time with you. I do hope to visit the Keweenaw in the next couple of years. I hold tight to my window staring thoughts from Vermont, as well as my writing stones. I would love to meet your group of Vets as mine are priceless for their friendship and understanding. On to the prompt…

    I’ll Take the View

    The couple stood staring at the upper floor southeast corner of their unfinished house.
    Lizzy’s face turned red. “Isn’t that where my sewing studio is going? Why the hell are there such large windows? I asked for small ones.”
    Her husband answered. “We’re building here for the view. I changed the plans as a surprise.”
    The builder hearing the commotion came to intervene. “We will be using Indow Museum grade indoor storm windows that block 98% UV rays. I promise anything inside will not be harmed.”
    “Will you put that in writing?” she challenged.
    “I will, with a guarantee.”

    INDOW is a brand name. My husband is in big construction and we had fun doing the research for the prompt as he didn’t know the answer to my questions about UV proof windows.

    • Charli Mills

      Sue, I’m glad you are finding more to add to your toolkit and taking time for your window-staring (sometimes we have to stare out other windows to process previous window staring). I’m finding the deep plunge into plot and premise beneficial and that expands my knowledge of stories.

      When you come to the Keweenaw, we’ll set up time for all the veteran writing groups. I think that the greater UP community will welcome your style of writing and your experiences writing with veterans. You’ll be a great guest in that capacity. I need visiting writers who understand the veteran experience.

      How fun that you enlisted your husband’s industry knowledge to research your flash! I had no idea such windows existed or that sewing rooms need to keep fabric away from the sunlight. Great addition to the prompt!

      • susansleggs

        Thanks Charli. I would love to meet your Vets. Be advised, I cry when I hear their stories and share my own.

    • Charli Mills

      Thanks, Nobbinmaug!

  23. Ann Edall-Robson

    Often I hear people say, “If they could only tell their story.” Listening to the sounds of the wood settling or a breeze sauntering through an open door. I close my eyes to imagine their life as it once was. When I open them, I am heartbroken to see nothing is left.

    Nothing Left
    By Ann Edall-Robson

    There is nothing left
    The soul is gone
    Standing stoic
    Though aged and tattered
    Drab and lifeless
    Dressed in brown and grey
    A welcome hearth, frozen
    Expecting no one
    Laughter long since vanished
    Life drained from within
    There is no remorse
    With no appetite to return
    Broken, shattered
    Solitary and waiting
    Darkness is everywhere
    Lanterns hang, unlit
    Lifeless forms peer out
    Past craggy glistening shards
    Edging traumatised storm windows
    Wooden shutters hang lifeless
    Snow swirls around collapsed beams
    Mournful, piercing, wailing sounds
    Challenging the lifeless rooms
    The storm, it rages on
    Outraged and unforgiving
    The homestead lives no more

    • Charli Mills

      Ann, my dad was the one who taught me to see remnants of the pioneers. He’d say, “That old cabin was once someone’s dream.” You have a way of seeing both the earlier dream and current abandoned state. Your flash captures that quality.

    • susansleggs

      A beautiful yet eerie description of so many places where people once hung their hats. It’s sad to see the places die. I like your picture.

  24. Norah

    Interesting post, Charli. I’m late arriving. I think the storm kept me away. (Kidding) I enjoyed meeting Paula. I popped over to her place to have a read as well. It’s very interesting.
    I love your flash. Storm windows for the near-sighted — what a great invention.
    I was interested to hear your comments about having to read books you don’t enjoy being work. At your stage and desire to learn, you are able to work your way through the unpleasantness as you know it’s for your greater writerly good. (Hopefully) It saddens me though, that this is what we do to our children who are as yet unable to see that some of these things will be (if indeed they will be) for their greater good. I can’t believe how many schools (including the one my grandchildren attend) level their library books and insist that children choose books only from those levels. As if reading levelled books for instruction isn’t enough, they level the books available to them for reading pleasure also. Sadly, reading pleasure goes out the window. I guess that’s a storm I could have written had I arrived soon enough.
    How absolutely wonderful to be able to stay and write in the Rodeo Room or read in the Unicorn room. If I had a bucket list, it would be on it. Your new plans (or newly revealed plans) sound exciting and I wish you well with them.

    • Charli Mills

      They aren’t new plans, just ones started along Elmira Pond, building community with literary art. They have a new home, finally. I guess they are like cuttings the pioneers brought West with them. Now I’m hoping they will grow! One day it would be magical to host you as a guest, Norah!

      I’m saddened to hear that even libraries are buying into the very practices that suck the lifeforce out of curiosity and learning. When I was a kid, we had the Dewey Decimal system. I remember learning it with such wonder. Of course, there was the children’s section, but not levels as you describe. I was just reading in my homework this week about a library advisory department that established factors that influence reading choices to better understand readers’ preferences. I’ll discuss more of these factors next post because I think it helps writers better understand readers, too.

      Hope you have sunny days ahead! I always think of you stretching toward summer as I dip into winter.

      • Norah

        I have no doubt your plans will take root and grow in their new home, Charli. You will make it happen.
        I look forward to your next post. I strongly believe that choice is crucial to developing readers. Once we have become readers, maybe we can be encouraged to try new things and test them out for fit, but first one must become a reader. Interestingly, my granddaughter can relay all the rules and their reasons. Sadly she accepts them because others who can’t read as well as she can would have difficulty choosing their own books – not quite her words but close to her explanation. Indoctrination goes deep even for a thinking mind.
        Unfortunately we have many sunny days ahead, Charli. Australia is currently being ravaged by drought and bush fires. Record temperatures are being recorded everywhere. It’s not looking good for summer with little rain forecast and water restrictions looming.
        I hope your winter treats you in kinder ways.

  25. Charli Mills

    Thanks, Simon!

  26. Charli Mills

    Thanks, Sally!

  27. Liz H

    It’s storms like these that remind us of the happy, thin line between inside and outside!

  28. Charli Mills

    Thanks, Annette!

  29. Liz H

    Seen through a glass, darkly…

  30. Charli Mills

    Thanks, Donna!

  31. Charli Mills

    Thanks, Sally!

  32. Charli Mills

    Thanks, Jo!

  33. Liz H

    Well done, and a unique take on the prompt, on storm windows that keep one safe, but keep one out, as well. 🙁

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