Carrot Ranch Literary Community

Home » Flash Fiction Challenge » November 21: Flash Fiction Challenge

November 21: Flash Fiction Challenge

It was outrageous — Erienne Fleming’s father had no regard for his daughter and married her off to the highest bidder. She had flirted with the Yank who’d come to her father’s village, but it was the mysterious and disfigured Lord Saxton who won the prize. He wasn’t the monster Erienne feared he’d be, and soon, her heart was torn between the husband she married and the dashing young man who pursued her. The climax to this tale is fraught with danger, unmaskings, and end — of course — with true love conquering all. Why? Because this is the story of a romance novel.

Kathleen Woodiwiss wrote A Rose in Winter the year I entered high school. By then, her career as a novelist neared a decade. Agents and publishers rejected her first novel, The Flame and the Flower, because it was too long. But it was detailed, building a historical world with accuracy and creating strong-willed characters. When her book published in 1972, it paved the way for what we recognize as the modern romance novel, and her book was the first to follow the protagonist and love interest into the bedroom.

My sister-in-law loaned me a copy of A Rose in Winter, promising me it would be the best love story I had ever read. It was. And it remains the number one romance novel in my heart. “Serious” writing cured me of my crush on romance novels. By the time I graduated with an undergrad degree, I was burned out on reading heavy literature — medieval books, Chaucer, literature with social justice themes, and thick historical novels. I slipped back into reading a romance novel, but the genre had changed. The bodice-rippers had grown up, and contemporary romances had taken their place. Two of my favorite authors had quit romance and were penning modern crime thrillers. I found old copies of Janet Dailey and re-read the Calder series about the Montana family of cowboys over five generations.

Then I quit romance for good.

It’s not so much that the genre changed, but that I had. My heart wanted a good read, and so did my brain. I wanted to feel connected to characters, their relationships, and their world. Oddly enough, fantasy filled the void. After I plowed through my kids’ Harry Potter books, I discovered the works of Robert Jordan and read the entire Wheel of Time series. This led me to read the hefty tomes of Brandon Sanderson, and I eagerly await his next 1,000-page Stormlight series installment. But you see, Kathleen Woodiwiss started my interest in long novels.

Tony Hillerman is my brain candy. His Navajo police stories go as fast as a bag of red licorice. I love his books for the authentic Navajo world-building and for a series that returns familiar characters. But they go fast. To slow down, I’ll read a contemporary work of fiction. Anne Goodwin over at Annectdotal has been my book pusher for recent scores of literary fiction. If you don’t follow her reviews, I suggest you do so as a writer. I’m shifting my own reading practices to read more books as a writer. That means reading books I might not connect with or find entertaining.

Why do we read?

What a massive and complex question. If we had an inkling, book marketers would hustle us off to better understand the reading habits of modern readers. Some like to stimulate their intellect, others their emotions. I like a good book that draws me into a sense of place — it’s why I read Brandon Sanderson, Tony Hillerman, and Janet Daley. Book marketers struggle to make sense of that because I read across such divergent genres. And to mess up the matter more, I write women’s and historical fiction with a commercial style. What is going on?

Librarians better understand that most of their patrons are like me — a hot mess when it comes to “what I like to read.” Book marketers are so hung up on genre that they think I’d only read one genre. Tony Hillerman is the only crime books I read. Outside the Navajo reservation, I’m not interested in mysteries. I don’t like thrillers. Oh, but wait, I read all of Ian Fleming, and I like some of Ken Follette and Clive Cussler. I read everything Kathleen Woodiwiss ever wrote, but I can’t stand anything Nora Roberts writes. I dislike fantasy, but I love Brandon Sanderson and Robert Jordan. YA is not my thing except for Harry Potter. I read lots of western writers like Louis L’Amour, Edward Abbey, Jim Harrison, Ivan Doig, Wallace Stegner, and non-fiction by Terry Tempest Williams and important cultural literature by Sherman Alexie and Tony Morrison.

The Reader’s Advisory group that helps librarians understand readers like me look at genre to recognize the factors that influence readers and have published a powerfully informative book, The Reader’s Advisory Guide to Genre Fiction. If you are serious about publishing (independently, small press, or traditionally), this is the book that will help you understand readers better. And why do you want to do that as a writer? Because readers buy books. Libraries and book stores buy books for readers. The better you can understand who is your target reader, the better you will be at marketability. Publishers want a well-crafted book, yes, but they also want one they think they can sell.

According to the Reader’s Advisory, genres can be arranged according to four factors:

  1. Adrenaline Genres (Adventure, Romance Suspense, Suspense, Thrillers)
  2. Emotion Genres (Gentle Reads, Horror, Romance, Women’s Lives & Relationships)
  3. Intellect Genres (Literary Fiction, Mysteries, Psychological Suspense, Science Fiction)
  4. Landscape Genres (Fantasy, Historical Fiction, Westerns)

This blew my mind for a couple of reasons. First, who would have thought that horror and romance had anything in common? Second, what I like to read (fantasy) is compatible with what I want to write (historical fiction). I’ve been saying, I love a book that draws me into a sense of place. Well, that would be landscape! This rearranging of genre by factors helped me better understand my target audience, too. Miracle of Ducks has perplexed me as to where it fits. It’s contemporary, but what is it from there? I had dismissed women’s literature and thought it fit more into literary fiction. But I was wrong! My story is about relationships and women’s voices that go unheard from within the veteran community. It’s emotional, not intellectual. My target audience reads books to feel.

The book breaks down each of these genre groups and delves into deeper factors. It’s intended audience is librarians, but one of my professors introduced me to the guide (buy used because this is a pricey reference book). My other professor has me writing romance this week. They are both teaching me that as a writer, I have something to learn from all the genres.

So, what can we learn from the romance genre? Romance places priority on the relationship between two people — romance, bromance, girl meets girl; the story is all about them. I learned that the genre has niche’s I never knew about (yes, werewolves and women are a thing!). It’s a rich genre, often focusing on details of place like the historical romances Woodiwiss wrote. Just because it has a recognizable framework of they meet they, they come into conflict, more conflict, and near disaster, they reunite and live HEA. HEA meaning, happily ever after. Although modern romance allows for more ambiguity — happy for now. It must end on an upswing.

Romances vary as much as our weekly stories. We are all writing to the same prompt within the same constraint, and yet our stories each week remain creative, original, and unexpected. Romance novels can be just as varied. For me, the take-away is to study relationships and the emotional tension that builds conflict. Whereas romance solves the tension with sex, I’m aiming for an elixir of growth. I’m more interested in personal development and social justice.

Yes, we are going to get our love groove going this week. First, a little mood music. Robert Mirabal is one of my favorite Native American musicians. He introduces why he wrote the song, Medicine Man. It doesn’t have an HEA ending, but it is a story of a man who overcame his unrequited love by marrying his people. What a deep concept — he could not have the romantic love he yearned for, so instead, he loved everyone, serving them as a holy man. That is a relationship story with, personal growth.

November 21, 2019, prompt: In 99 words (no more, no less), write a romance. Focus on the relationship between two people. Build tension and end on a happy(ish) note. Go where the prompt leads!

Respond by November 26, 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.

Challenge submissions closed. Find our latest Flash Fiction Challenge.

Cupid’s Call on the Range by Charli Mills

A cow caused it all. Maria Sanchez lived on the backside of Hope Valley, watching her father’s herd of Angus, selling steaks to silver miners. Garett Meadows owned the mine. He spotted Maria one day, lifting her skirts to chase a cow, exposing curvy brown calves. A range cow charged the encroaching horse, and Garret struck his head in the fall. Worried that her father would be blamed, Maria hid the injured man in a trapper’s cabin to tend to him alone. Garett was only playing injured. A month later, at their wedding, he blamed love on the cow.


  1. Always a bonus when I can read your post on the same date and wow, I get a mention too! Thanks for that. And I might even be the first to comment! (Small things, small minds.)

    I don’t think I’ve ever been keen on romance but I’m very interested in relationships. It’s the HEAs I’m allergic to. It’s interesting that you’ve found some of your preferred genres in the same grouping, but I’d want to argue with their classification – and at that price yes it would have to be second-hand – because don’t we often want something from all categories, although I agree readers will differ in our preferred quantities. But something to mull over and debate.

    I enjoyed your 99-word story and that cow makes for a great opening line! Hope to get back tomorrow with mine.

    • Charli Mills says:

      Small things, big impact! You are starting your day as I’m ending mine. Thursdays are also when my first round of homework is due, so sometimes I get an early start on the challenge so I don’t get swamped.

      HEAs can be offputting to writers and yet readers crave them. It’s good to set aside what is unappealing to give genres a look for what does work. Good romance writers do emotion, relationships, and tension well. I’m just getting into reader advisory, and its take on genre. The discipline is rooted in libraries whereas genres grow out of literary critique and marketing. I prefer the idea of acknowledging input from writers and readers. But yes, new fodder for debate!

      Thanks, I think the cow worked as a hook, but I lazily closed with the cow, too. I would revise that ending to offer a fresh surprise. I look forward to Anne Goodwin dictating romance! <3

      • Regarding the genres, I’m sceptical of anything that splits emotion and intellect because, in real life as in fiction, I firmly believe we need to channel both.

        As to your cow, in a lot of successful stories the ending echoes the beginning. But maybe you could have the cow as a wedding guest or even a bridesmaid!

        As I’m celebrating the first birthday of my short story collection, I had to go back to one of the stories there for my romance. In the original, the character gets her HEA through self-acceptance, a theme I much prefer to romance, but in my 99-word story I allowed her to take that step forward with the right kind of man:

        A blind date with a difference

    • Charli Mills says:

      A-ha! I can think of situations that try to separate intellect from emotions and it reminds me of gender messages. While I’m not far into the book yet, I think each category represents a predominant factor. I’ll pay attention.

      Interesting, but one appeal of romance novels from back in the day was that the “strong-willed” heroines were indeed women who had accepted themselves and somehow that grated society but won the love of the rogue. Good place to go and with one of your short story characters.

      Happy one year anniversary for the softest book cover to ever contain muscular stories with a firm grip on identity.

      • I wasn’t sure about your first point about gender: were you referring to men bearing the brains and women carrying the emotion? Topical point if we think about your president and the fine women testifying at the impeachment hearings.
        I’m looking forward to learning more from you about these genre categories. And thanks for that beautiful endorsement of my stories.

      • Charli Mills says:

        Yes, I was referring to the cultural messages that men are intellectual, women emotional. When Fiona Hill testified in the public impeachment hearings, she said, “Often when women show anger, it’s not fully appreciated. It’s often, you know, pushed on to emotional issues or perhaps deflected onto other people.” Yet it has been the two women (Fiona Hill and Marie Yovanovitch) who have shown mastery of intellect and emotion over the immaturity and bullying and lying of the man in the office of President.

        Of course! Such a fine book and I’m so pleased its serving you well.

      • Yes, I caught that (via Mr A who’s been following it closely). We also loved FH’s NE accent, as she grew up near where we used to live. (Not that I can see the point of testifiers giving their life history, interesting as it might be.)

      • Charli Mills says:

        Maybe we both need more women in politics from your NE!

      • Yup, or women from anywhere. I’m concerned our next parliament might have fewer women because so many have resigned, partly due to hostility / death / rape threats from the public which our PM’s boorish attitude has seemingly enflamed. Scary both sides of the Atlantic.

  2. I still am a big fan of romance (hey, it is escapist literature, but escapism works in these fraught times), but A Rose in Winter, followed by Shanna, is my favorite romance ever (and my sisters and I awaited each Kathleen Woodiwiss romance eagerly once we were hooked on The Flame and the Flower and The Wolf and the Dove).
    As I was reading your opening paragraph, I thought your description sounded like A Rose in Winter and then, ta da! It was. Then to discuss the Calder series, I felt like I was reading about my life of reading in my twenties.
    By the way, I once read A Generic Romance, which was a true romance in about twenty pages. My sister and I hooted over it because it had all the elements seen in the many romances we read.
    Now, to write a romance in 99 words. This should be fun, Charli!

    • Charli Mills says:

      Ah, Nan, I’m wanting to go back and reread some of Kathleen Woodiwiss’s books now. The Wolf and the Dove was one of my favorites, too. Shanna remains the height of a strong, willful heroine not to be messed with at all. I think we shared a similar twenties era! Have fun with this one! I’m thinking you’ll be a natural!

  3. Jim Borden says:

    quite a mooooving story 🙂

  4. […] intense joy … (the prompt is more complex… but today my brain was not in complex mode) Carrot Ranch November 21, 2019, prompt: In 99 words (no more, no less), write a romance. Focus on the […]

  5. […] This week’s Flash Fiction challenge comes from Carrot Ranch. […]

  6. Jules says:

    Charli –

    There are times we just like to read for fun. I don’t think I am into one category that I like, though I stay away from horror. I’ll have to come back for the video portion. While I wasn’t planning it, all the prompts I had for the day fit in three 99 word segments. Please enjoy:

    (40)Emotional Reconciliation
    (Three segments; 99 words each)


    I wondered if Marilyn’s parents ever thought “These kids today!” – One moment they are remembering a time when they could still hear happy children exclaim “Are we there yet?”
    when taken out of town to some special surprise place.

    What kind of relationship did Marisol and Jack Seedsmen have? From my own uncovered evidence I knew he loved his daughter. Could his wife had wished for teenagers to just scram like her half sister Margoth? I couldn’t believe that, especially with the care that Marisol had taken to replicate her family in the carefully preserved scarecrows that awaited me…


    In Marilyn’s Vent Diary I had read that her parents put on a solid front. They supported each other. They displayed affection and seemed to be romantic. Well in the eyes of a teenage girl anyway. Whenever her mother had to travel with her sister Margoth, Jack missed Marisol. He became just a tad sullen and moody as if no one else in the world could understand him.

    When Marisol returned Jack was over the moon. He couldn’t seem to do enough for her. Jack would get her some new art supply and read her poetry while she created.


    I had found the yellow cup in the top back corner of the pantry. Marilyn had described her mother’s attempt at pottery – the class was a gift upon one of her returns from out of town. Yellow was Jack’s favorite color. On the yellow cup was Marisol’s first attempt at painting a sunflower with glaze.

    Mr. and Mrs. Seedsmen would sit on the enclosed porch and watch the sunset. Marisol would brew Chamomile tea. Mother’s cup was one that Marilyn had made in an art class, but Jack always had his yellow cup that Marisol had made for him.


    • Charli Mills says:

      Jules, what’s interesting about horror is that it is in the emotional category, too. I’m not into being scared but if we consider that the hook is emotional, it explains Stephen King’s appeal to even those of us who don’t prefer the genre. He’s good at hooking readers on emotion.

      Good job — you wrote a romance trilogy!

      • Jules says:

        I appreciate your skilled eyes! 🙂

        I suppose there is some romance… but there’s some mystery about a couple or a few deaths… And still in all the segments the narrator hasn’t revealed their own name… But I’m having fun and that’s what counts. 🙂

      • Charli Mills says:

        You are relishing the art of discovery. It’s why I like to write, too and let the characters reveal what’s going on. Sometimes I’m surprised by what I write! Ah, but I’m also learning to add some plot to my pants. Enjoy! 😉

  7. Leanne says:

    What a great post! I learned a lot, seeing that I do not typically read romance and horror.

    • Charli Mills says:

      I’m glad you found the post insightful, Leanne! Of course, the Reader’s Advisory is geared toward librarians, but they do encourage broad reading to gain insights into the appeal of different genres. They have a list of what they call Sure Bets, but they also acknowledge that genre trends are in flux.

      • Leanne says:

        That’s cool. I think being informed about genre trends will lead to more people liking to read. I’m in education, so having read a lot and broadly is important in recommending books to those reluctant readers or those who disagree with reading.

      • Charli Mills says:

        As an educator, I think you’d get a lot from the Reader’s Advisory Guide (look for a used one on Amazon). What you said about being informed of genre to interest others to read is at the heart of their work. I think those who don’t like to read have not found the right book yet!

  8. Romance is not a genre I’ve read much, though I regard myself as a romantic soul. The closest I’ve come to it is reading lesbian fiction that deals with love and relationships. Both novels I’ve written (okay I’m three chapters away from finishing the second one) feature a central romantic love story within them, though one is a horror story and the relationship gets rather twisted by the end, and the second is fantasy and I think has quite a strong love story within it that helps hold it all together. It was the relationship between the characters that started off the idea of the story in both instances.

    I’ve written some reasonably romantic flash fiction stories in the past, so hopefully this weeks prompt should be a good one for me.

    • Charli Mills says:

      You have written some good romance in 99-words, Joanne! The genre itself has broadened with our expressions of romantic love, and at the heart of it is relationships. What are we without them? Ah, and you write horror well, too. So, it’s interesting to note that both genres are classified together under the emotion heading as designated by the Reader’s Advisory. I hadn’t thought about it this way before, but horror is relationship gone wrong. I think you’ll do well this week!

  9. […] I dusted off some old words and reworked them – pared them down for the November 21st Flash Fiction Challenge […]

  10. tnkerr says:

    Not too sure how romantic it is, but I believe it meets the criteria defined in the prompt. What do you guys think? Is this romance?

    • Charli Mills says:

      It meets the criteria, TN! Romance focuses on the relationship between two people. Outside of that relationship, anything goes like it’s a filter . That’s what can make romance so varied. You penned a western romance.

  11. […] November 21: Flash Fiction Challenge […]

  12. […] This was written with the prompt romance provided by Carrot Ranch’s November 21 Flash Fiction Challenge. […]

  13. […] with Carrot Ranch Literary Community and their prompt Romance. The task is to write a story in 99 words using the […]

  14. Iain Kelly says:

    That’s a tough challenge this week – romance is not something I write (or read) much (at all), and if I do it’s more on the tragic side! So I utilised a couple of characters that have been appearing on my blog in short fiction stories for a while to help me out!

  15. nightlake says:

    Thank you for this enlightening post, Charli. What do you think of P.G.Wodehouse’s novels and short stories? Some people can’t get enough of his stories while others find them boring. I would like to read Tony Hillerman’s stories sometime. This was a very insightful post. Thank you!

    • Charli Mills says:

      Oh, yes, I love the Wooster and Jeeves characters! The Hub does too, but it’s been years. I had to go download a short story collection for my Kindle.

  16. […] This week, Charli Mills challenged us to write about a romance; not exactly my cup of tea but hey, I gave it a try. If you want to participate in this week’s 99-word flash fiction challenge, head over here: […]

  17. […] Carrot Ranch Prompt (11/21/2019): In 99 words (no more, no less), write a romance. Focus on the relationship between two people. Build tension and end on a happy(ish) note. Go where the prompt leads! […]

  18. Liz H says:

    A brief note of a future dream?

    An Old Romance

    She rinsed the last dish and set it in the drainer. Days had again grown short, this season and over the years. The leaves, crisp from a day’s rain and evening’s temps, were barely visible out the window. Her silhouette softened in its reflection; the living room light glowed orange behind her.

    They snuggled, one inside the other’s arms, enraptured by Melmed and LaMarche’s “The Rainbabies.” It had been a favorite of theirs and she remembered how they’d read to each other, before children, then after, and now again with this grandchild.

    A wave of love washed over her.

    [To my blog, if you’d like ]

  19. […] stumbled upon a flash fiction contest hosted by Carrot Ranch. Based on the instructions, the submission should be a romantic piece in exactly 99 words. I have […]

  20. Deep Sheep

    “’Ello, Buckaroo. Love ees in da air, no?”
    “Pepe LeGume. Something’s in the air alright. J. Geils sang that love stinks. Might be right. Seen Pal or Kid?”
    “You ask, I tell. Day did not like da prompt. One rode east, da odder west. I teenk day odd ta’ve gone nort an’ south, as day are one an’ da same bipolar.”
    “Didn’t like the prompt?”
    “Genre-ly speaking, no. Day rode off. But not eento da sunset.”
    “So no whining from Kid?”
    “No, but whine cood be romantic, no?”
    “You’re just passing through, right?”
    “Like a sheep in da night.”

  21. Accentuated Absence

    “Deep in thought, Aussie?”
    “Oh, g’day Ranger. I was just thinking it’s too bad Kid and Pal have ridden off. They should be here for this yarn.”
    “What’s so special about this yarn?”
    “This yarn is #198! That’s 99 x 2.”
    “That’s a lot of yarn. We should make jumpers.”
    “Don’t be a knit wit. What if those two are jumping ship?”
    “Pal and Kid? Crazy. Who else would have them? Besides, they don’t always love the prompts, but they love it here. They’ll be back.”
    “I’m not taking any chances.”
    “What are you doing Aussie?”
    “Cooking bacon!”

    • Censorshift

      “Pal! You’re back.”
      “Hey Shorty. Yep, I jist had ta give Kid the runaroun’. Trust me, ya don’t want Kid aroun’ this week. I took an earful a whinin’ ‘bout the prompt. Then I had ta hear Kid’s wild ideas fer the prompt. Sent Kid packin’ till this ‘un’s done with.”
      “Why? It’s all good when it’s all write.”
      “Weren’t all good Shorty. Kid got ideas fer somethin’ called Carrot Raunch. In thet genre ya’d be writin’ Miracle of F—“
      “I steered Kid clear a the bookshelves. Not sure the Ranger’d appreciate Kid’s retitlin’ ideas.”
      “Thanks Pal.”

    • Charli Mills says:

      99×2=flash love!

  22. […] This was written with the prompt romance provided by the Carrot Ranch November 21 Flash fiction Challenge. […]

  23. […] was written for the Carrot Ranch’s November 21st Flash Fiction Challenge: Romance. So, I am terrible at romance, but I remembered this […]

  24. […] The Carrot Ranch November 21, 2019, prompt: In 99 words (no more, no less), write a romance. Focus on the relationship between two people. Build tension and end on a happy(ish) note. Go where the prompt leads! […]

  25. More at:

    For Now

    He strode through Westerns, then paused long at Historical Fiction. Not knowing what adventures might lie ahead, I followed in suspense, wondering what shelves he’d search next. I secretly thrilled when he turned the corner and browsed gentle reads and women’s novels. Was this a man in touch with his emotions? My own emotions ran high. Hiding behind an open book, a Fantasy Romance Suspense Adventure that was surely too good to be true, I followed through Literary Fiction. He brought my book to the counter.

    Bells jangled. I looked down the street but he’d disappeared in this Flash.

    • Charli Mills says:

      That man needed tackling before he dissapated into thin air! For a challenging genre, you’re proving prolific. Good for you — overcoming resistance!

      • D. Avery says:

        Romance Redux

        She looked up when the bells on the door tinkled, kept looking as he wandered Westerns. “Howdy, purty lady,” she imagined him greeting her. Ugh. Westerns were corny. Now in sci-fi, he orbited her table. “Come aboard my spaceship. I’ll take you to the moon.” She winced. She’d never cared for sci-fi.
        Suddenly he was before her, asking her to sign his book. Her book. “I can’t wait to get between the covers.“ He sighed, “I could spend a long time with your short stories.” He took the book. Their fingers touched. “I love a happy ending, don’t you?”

      • denmaniacs4 says:

        Witty…page turning romance…I’d say you covered the essentials…

      • Charli Mills says:

        Romance wasn’t as corny as she imagined! HEA because he read her book. Her book. Swoon.

  26. Charli Mills, I really didn’t think there’d be a yarn or a response from me this week. I was wrong again, but Romance? Jeesh. Mostly your prompt put me in mind of two that are departed. I may yet do something with the memories of my great-grandmother, an otherwise intelligent woman who was married four times, lived to be 99 years old (yep, no more, no less) and who popped Harlequin Romances like candy.
    I find myself wishing I could share the Ranch with Laura Simon, a writer friend who didn’t get to see me write beyond chickens. She wrote Historical Fiction which sold as Romance. Yep, she had an agent and a publisher.
    Very cool MFA stuff Boss. Thanks for sharing.

  27. […] week’s prompt for the Carrot Ranch Flash Fiction Challenge by Charli Mills  is Romance… in all its glory… It is the glue that keeps a relationship strong along with […]

  28. I love those classifications! I get the feeling, too, that there’s a continuum between them. I tend to like the landscape genres best, but then there’s science fiction in the intellect genre – yet I feel like it’s the closest to landscape out of that collection.

    Anyway, here’s my offering for the week. Hope you’re doing well!

  29. […] was written for November 21st’s Flash Fiction Challenge over at Carrot Ranch.  In 99 words (no more, no less), write a […]

  30. […] Written for the Carrot Ranch […]

  31. […] is in response to Charlie Mills flash fiction challenge, November 21, 2019, prompt: In 99 words (no more, no less), write a romance. Focus on the relationship between two people. Build tension and end on a happy(ish) note. Go where […]

  32. Norah says:

    As always, a really interesting post, Charli. Thinking about different genres and where I fit as a reader is always interesting, though I think I tend to be a bit eclectic and definitely don’t do as much of it as I’d like. I think I prefer characters and growth over plot and action and consider myself not into fantasy and definitely not horror but I don’t mind a bit of dysfunction in my characters, so who knows?
    I enjoyed the story behind Medicine Man as much as I enjoyed the song – a good choice. I’m working on my story at the moment which is also about unrequited love but I haven’t yet got to the word count or the HEA. I am looking forward to joining in this week though as I’ve missed the last couple of weeks.
    I enjoyed your story but was confused by Maria and Dolly. Are they the same?
    Have a great week. N x

    • Norah says:

      I’m back with my contribution. Enjoy!

      True love

      Although he’d written love notes and brought flowers nearly every day, he’d caught her unawares when, one morning, he whispered, “Will you marry me?”

      His eyes glistened with hope, but she hesitated. She’d not encouraged him, not that way. How could she have anticipated this?

      Crouching to look him in the eyes, she said, “Thank you for the compliment, Josh. You’re very sweet, but I can’t. I’m sorry.”

      His lips quivered as he asked, “Why not, Miss Ruby?”

      “Josh, I’m already married,” she said, showing her rings.

      He was downcast momentarily, then suddenly brightened. “You could get a divorce?”

      Here is the link:

      • Charli Mills says:

        Norah, I think reader preferences can be difficult to pin down as you explain your own. I do prefer character growth, but it can also be difficult to define what kind of growth. Let’s say, I appreciate characters with a growth mindset! Um, I have no idea where my brain went when I wrote Maria’s story. Dolly? I don’t even recall thinking of that name! I wanted to blame Grammarly but that was all me, and I have no explanation. Thanks for pointing out the discrepancy. Good line editing!

        Your flash shows a young romantic in the making. Teachers are often first loves. I wonder if that’s because a child recognizes love for someone who is not a parent then innocently thinks it must be romantic?

      • Norah says:

        Hi Charli, Perhaps reading is like other things. Our preferences are hard to define but we know what we like when we see (read) it.
        I wasn’t sure if my confusion over Maria and Dolly was my fuzzy head or not. I didn’t read all the comments, but hadn’t seen anyone else comment. Maybe they all kinder than I was. Sorry.
        That’s an interesting theory about teachers being first loves. It could be right. I hope it was close enough to a happy ending. 🙂

  33. […] This is written in response to the Carrot Ranch’s’ latest prompt: […]

  34. […] week’s prompt for the Carrot Ranch Flash Fiction Challenge by Charli Mills  is Romance… in all its glory… It is the glue that keeps a relationship strong along with other […]

  35. Hi Charli,
    A wonderful blog — riches for the writers, and also for readers like me!

    Great wonderful Robert Mirabel flute music and the story — so many ideas within that story of Medicine Man.

    I’m not a reader of Romance novels per se. But relationships, of one sort or another, are often at the core of all the other genres I like to read — including sci fi and historical fiction.

    My FF — based it on one of the characters from a past FF.

    Thanks again for sharing so much of your “journey” in the MFA course.


    • Charli Mills says:

      Hi Saifun,

      So often I think literary criticism ignored the connections literary art makes between writer and reader. To me, that intersection is where art comes to life. I’m enjoying to get to learn more about our craft and passion, rekindling a passion to read. Thanks for coming along on the journey!

  36. […] by this prompt: In 99 words (no more, no less), write a romance. Focus on the relationship between two people. […]

  37. I’m not the biggest on reading a pure romance novel. I really prefer my romance as the B plot so that there’s more to the story and the characters, and the A plot provides the conflict in the B plot, rather than the conflict being a petty squabble, or a love triangle.

    My response this week isn’t quite directly a romantic story, but romance definitely plays a large role in it.

    • Charli Mills says:

      Blended genres can do so much with romance and conflict, including which takes the lead in a book. Your flash is a direct expression of how you explain romance as the B plot, Nicole. It creates an undercurrent beneath a greater danger unfolding.

  38. denmaniacs4 says:

    I’m floundering in the deep end of the pool, Charli, and pretending I’m a shallow guy.

    Here’s one of two efforts: neither ring bells.

    The Pitch
    Dear Kate, you may not remember me, but I was a year ahead of you in High School.
    Scratch that. Different tact.
    Katie, old bud, Howdy. Have you ever received a letter from someone you once knew…?
    Right. I can see her scrunching it up and tossing it into the wastebasket. She played Varsity Basketball…it would be instinctive.
    My Dearest Katherine, Hear me out. I know its been a few years, but we went to school together and I have this need.
    Sounds so pathetic.
    Kate, time is such a tease. Could we meet for coffee?

  39. denmaniacs4 says:

    And the second, just to play along…

    Inferno Love

    “It’s like fire scorching my brain,” she says.

    I look into her eyes, see the furious flames. The heat is irresistible.

    “You can see it, can’t you? The furnace?”

    I have to look away. As I do, she reaches for me, says in a sweet nothings voice, “Keep looking at me. Never stop. Your love is so cool to the touch.”

    I need her warmth. She needs my frosty ways. I touch her brow with my fingers, trace the shape of face.

    “You are a river flowing down from the snow-capped mountains,” she sings. “I have been waiting forever.”

    • Charli Mills says:

      What an interesting pair of stories, Bill! In the first, the character can’t seem to find his words and in the second the characters can see beyond the mundane and into the abyss of their balanced love. You have breadth of writing!

  40. Er… Romance is not my thing. If I even tried, I’d wind up with a HEA murder or something.

  41. […] Flash Fiction Challenge over at Carrot Ranch […]

  42. […] Author’s Notes: Today’s entry is in a category known as flash fiction. There are many other names (micro, mini, nano, etc) and a variety of different lengths (one-word stories, six-word stories, 12-word stories, 100 words, 500 words.)  Carrot Ranch is a dynamic online literary community for those practicing their craft, reading stories and discussing the process. Charlie Mills hosts the weekly Flash Fiction challenge which limits stories to 99 words – no more, no less. This week’s challenge is to write with the prompt of “romance.” […]

  43. […] This was written for Charli’s Carrot Ranch Flash Fiction Challenge. […]

  44. […] have to admit I loved this week’s prompt of romance from Carrot Ranch. I surprised myself with how much fun I had writing this! I am enjoying experimenting with different […]

  45. […] stories than last time, based on the Flash Fiction Challenge prompt of ‘romance’ at Carrot Ranch. Each story had to be just 99 words long (no more, no less!) and had to have a happy(ish) ending. […]

  46. saygracemedia says:

    I’ve entered using the form (I’m totally new to this so I hope I’ve done it right) and I’ve put my two stories on my website:

    Thanks for running this challenge, it was really fun!

    • saygracemedia says:

      Just realised I could put them here too!


      A garden. A girl. A lingering glance. He wakes from the dream, her face still more vivid than the shabby room which greets his eyes. All day she distracts him, so much so that he gets lost going home.

      Across town a girl awakes, starts her day, the fragments of a dream about a handsome stranger still fogging her mind. Later she takes the long route home – often too hot and tired to bother but today the garden is calling her.

      A garden. Two people. The glance. It’s not possible. It can’t be real. And yet somehow it is.


      She had donated the wrong book. The community book table allowed you to leave and take books. Emma was its biggest benefactor but this was a mistake: Persuasion, creased with love, filled with her own annotations and thoughts. She ran back but it had gone.

      Days later, glancing through the new offerings, something caught her eye. Heart pounding, Emma picked up her beloved book. Thumbing through, she noticed a change: brand new annotations. She read every one and fell in love there and then.

      She left the book again, with just one note added. That night the phone rang…

    • Charli Mills says:

      Welcome to Carrot Ranch, Grace! You got it figured out. Tomorrow, your stories will be included in the weekly collection. Thanks for joining us!

  47. […] better or worse I kept amusing myself with Charli’s latest prompt in which she challenged us to write 99 word romance stories. First I responded with For Now, as […]

  48. So…. Here:
    are three 99 word tales of love. One already in comments above, one already in comments at my last posting, and the third a poem not yet seen. But no HEA to it.

  49. […] November 21: Flash Fiction Challenge […]

  50. Hello Charli! Here’s my post. I thought this prompt would inspire an idea in me real quick, but I actually had to think about it.

  51. […] for Carrot Ranch‘s prompt this week: […]

  52. Romance Outline
    By Ann Edall-Robson
    “Write a romance. Focus on a relationship.” She instructed.

    “Not my genre!” I screamed back at the screen.

    “Try writing what you know.” Came the silent words from the picture on the desk.

    “I know the West and crusty old cowboys!” I countered to the voice in my head.

    I could hear him laughing.

    “Oh, what the hell, it won’t hurt to write an outline…”

    Young hearts in love…Separated by fate…Reunited by a chance call…Devoted to each other…Ripped apart by life…

    “Keep going hon. You got this.”

    “I’m not ready yet,” I whispered through tears.

  53. susansleggs says:

    Charli, Thanks again for sharing your knowledge and school work. It’s a gift to look at genres another way. I like that I am split between emotion and intellect and also write with a sense of place. This information will be fun to share with my groups especially since I am accused of always writing about relationships. I have sent the first chapter of my novel off to a professional editor. Some new excitement might be a help. Happy Thanksgiving. On to the prompt…

    Bringing Out The Best

    Newly divorced Tessa, visiting her sister, sat in their childhood church. When the choir started singing from the loft her face registered recognition. She whispered, “I can hear Michael’s voice. I’ve never stopped hearing it.”
    Aggie rolled her eyes.
    “Is he home for good?”
    “Medical discharge. In a wheelchair, he can do without. Very different.”
    “Same beautiful bass.”
    Later in the day, Michael approached Aggie’s door. She watched. “I’ll be dipped, he’s walking. You always could bring out the best in him. You sure about this?”
    “It’s just dinner.”
    “Yeah, right.”
    “It’ll be good to be wanted and needed.”

    • Charli Mills says:

      Susan, I think this different perspective on genres is helpful for deciding where our writing fits in, and I can see how emotion, intellect, and landscape play a part in your writing. It’s an observation to say you write about relationships and anyone who uses that as criticism does not understand the value of critique. What’s the point? Yes, you write about relationships. So do a whole lot of other writers! Another observation is that the number one selling genre focuses solely on relationship. Knowing what we write helps us find target readers, which helps us sell books in target markets. I’m so happy to hear that you are sending off your first chapter!

      Your flash gets to the heart of romance and relationships — our impact on one another.

  54. […] This week at the Carrot Ranch, Charli Mills challenged writers to In 99 words (no more, no less), write a romance. Focus on the relationship between two people. Build… […]

  55. Max and Mouse

    Max and Mouse met the day he moved next door, and they became best friends. Max said, “I am going to marry you, Mouse.”

    Years of school changed his affections; while he was always dating someone, he and Mouse remained close.

    After college graduation, Micha found herself in her new apartment when Max called about the class reunion. “No, I’m not going, Max,” she said.

    “You are,” he replied. “Because I’ll bug until you do.”

    Weeks later, Micha found herself at the reunion. Max was astounded by the changes in his Mouse. Would she still marry him, he wondered.

    Nancy Brady, 2019

Comments are closed.

A 5-Star Readers’ Favorite!

Be a Patron of Literary Art

Donate Button with Credit Cards

S.M.A.G. Kindness Among Bloggers

S.M.A.G., Norah Colvin, @NorahClovin

Proud Member

Stories Published Weekly

Congress of the Rough Writers, Carrot Ranch, @Charli_Mills


Follow Blog via Email

Enter your email address to follow this blog and receive notifications of new posts by email.

Join 4,739 other subscribers
%d bloggers like this: