November 12: 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 12, 2020

I once interviewed an 89-year-old woman who had skin that glowed translucently. Her vibrancy of body and mind rested in her easy smile and witty responses to my questions. When I was writing foodie articles, I asked her, as I asked everyone I interviewed, to share a personal health food tip. You might be surprised to learn that I never got the same answer twice. Or, maybe, you read the weekly 99-word collections and have come to realize that perspectives are unique to each person and their life experiences.

Her answer? Avocado toast.

The interview didn’t end because I wanted the story of why. What she told me was a life-long grapple with pain and joy. Born in 1916, she grew up in southern California, where her family had avocado trees in their yard. To her, it was magical food, and every morning for breakfast, her mother smeared avocado on toasted homemade bread. When she was six, they moved back to the midwest to be near family, leaving behind avocados.

They left California with its breakfast trees after she accidentally dropped an oil lantern on the stairs. Terrified, her mother grabbed her, both suffering burns. She showed me the scars on her hands. They escaped, but the fire took their home and her younger sister. At 89, the grief still showed on her face when she said, “It was my doing.”

She didn’t blame herself, nor did her family. It was an accident. But she took accountability in an interesting way. She lived every day as though it could be her last. And once an adult who could afford to buy avocados, she bought them weekly and ate avocado toast every morning to remind her of the good life she had as a child before the fire.

Stories are powerful, and we carry many with us. Some we discard. Others we re-frame. A few we hold onto as precious and necessary.

As writers, we recognize stories all around us. It was hearing stories like this woman’s that compelled me to want to write fiction, not to make up things but to express the truths I found in stories I caught. Health might stem from a diet of good fats like avocados, but owning our stories makes us whole even when some stories broke us. We juggle to write and revise those stories until the truth gleams like gems within the lines.

It’s not about getting the best words; it’s about getting the story right.

If you want to know yourself as an artist, keep updating your bio. That’s your story as a writer. If you plan to write outside a locked diary, then likely others will read your work. People will be naturally curious about who you are, and we should continue to have that same curiosity for ourselves and others. We are not static. Even our past stories evolve with our understanding of them.

Do you have a set of author bios? Yes, I said a “set.” You need a brief bio for your byline; a short bio for anthologies or social media; a longer bio for speaking engagements or public readings. Seems how this is Carrot Ranch, I’d say 9-59-99 words. However, my MFA program recommends that writers have three 20-50-100 word bios. Here are mine:

100-word Bio

Charli Mills comes from a vaquero culture, winning rodeo trophies before first-grade. She now wrangles words from Michigan’s U.P., where she lives with her husband, a former Army Ranger, and fellow westerner. Charli reclaims forgotten voices, writing about veteran spouses and historical frontier women. In 2014, she founded Carrot Ranch, an online community for international literary artists. As lead buckaroo, she hosts a weekly 99-word challenge and publishes stories from around the world. She’s developing an education program to teach creative writing with her MFA. Charli’s mission is to make literary art accessible among women, veterans, and underserved groups.

50-word Bio

Charli Mills grew up out west, where she once won a rodeo trophy for goat-tying. Now she wrangles words, writing about veteran spouses and the frontier women forgotten to history. She makes literary art accessible at CarrotRanch.com. She’s finishing her MFA thesis novel in 2021, planning to teach creative writing.

20-word Bio

Charli Mills, lead buckaroo at charlim3.sg-host.com, wrangles words, reclaiming forgotten voices from the fringes and frontiers. She’s an MFA student.

Plan to update your bios annually, and every time you are asked to submit a bio. Annually because you grow as a writer and your focus can shift. I love what Anne Goodwin maintains in her bio that “she writes fiction for the freedom to contradict herself.” I recommend her article about brands and bios for ideas on the subject. As you write, who you are will change — you will discover more and release outmoded views. It’s the nature of writing.

When you are asked to submit a bio, stick to the requested word count (it will likely be one of the three formats). Also, consider your audience. If I submit a bio to a school publication, I emphasize my MFA student status. If I submit one to a regional publication, I tweak it to show I’m a local author. If the writing attracts a specific audience, I use my bio to compel them to read. Your bios are part of your author toolkit.

You will also want to write a story that answers the question, why do you write? It can be an avocado toast moment. What are your joys and sorrows tied to a writing life? Who influenced you? Do you have an origin story or cultural influences connected to who you are today as a writer? You might actually write ten different stories! Pare it down to one, blending details or going with the strongest account. Share only the details you are willing to publicize. This is the story of you, and you are evolving.

For my final (this is finals week; only two more terms left after this one!) I developed an author platform. I focus on my community platform here and treat my author brand more like an archive and work for hire that I no longer do. Talk about evolution. I will be cleaning up Carrot Ranch to emphasize community outreach and use Cahrali-Mills.com for my author platform. I’ll be making changes as my May graduation date approaches, and I start teaching. Compare how my story differs (it has definitely evolved) here and at the site under construction.

You can have both your bio and your story on your website if you have one. Include the basics — who you are, what you write, why you blog, and how you connect with readers and the writing community. Your platform is to demonstrate your brand, credibility, community, and engagement of your target audience. I have been to too many blog sites where the About Me remains a mystery. If you write under a pen name, say so and clearly state the pen name. It’s your right to be private, but you do have to present an identity of some kind. I can’t call everyone, “Hey, you!” If you dream of being a published author (or if you are a published author), you impair your reach by not having basics such as bios.

So, added homework this week — update or write your set of bios and your story about why you write. Feel free to link in the comments, too. Ask for feedback if you want it, otherwise, I will celebrate your feat.

And to all who signed up to serve in any and all branches of the military (anywhere at any time), I want to recognize your willingness to die for others. My husband volunteered three times. That is more than enough to tell you, “Welcome home, and thank you for doing something I did not.” May all you sheepdogs feel welcomed among the sheep you protect, and may all of us spouses who share your burdens be seen. I see you and honor your service, too. (Veterans Day, November 11, 2020.)

November 12 2020, prompt: In 99 words (no more, no less), write a story includes avocado toast. How can this be a story or a prop to a story? Use your senses and imagination. Go where the prompt leads!

Respond by November 17, 2020. 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.

Submissions now closed. Find our latest challenge to enter.

A Separation Tale by Charli Mills

Maria padded across the road to gather dropped avocados where the foreman lived in a huge ivory house. It didn’t smell of beans and tortillas like her tiny home. It felt cold; its size scared her. When vehicles slid to a stop in front of the bunks, Maria hid behind a hedge of pink roses. Her throat pinched shut at the sight of her Abuela in silver bracelets that imprisoned her hands. The men in black uniforms loaded all the neighbors in two vans and left. When her Papa did not return at noon, she ate avocado toast alone.

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122 Comments

  1. Jessica E. Larsen

    I love your short story, but I’m feeling emotional over the avocado story of the 89-year-old woman :'(

    • Charli Mills

      Jessica, that story hit me, too and the publication I wrote for didn’t go that deep, but I never thought of avocado toast the same way. Yet, she lived such a rich life becaue of that tragedy.

      • Jessica E. Larsen

        I wrote one too, but I didn’t want to go there too. It hurts too much. I guess even just reading it change my perspective of avocado too.

      • Charli Mills

        Stories do that, don’t they? I’m glad you wrote one.

  2. Doug Jacquier

    Where do I start, Charli? Great anecdote, chilling story and important reminders of November 11 (what we call Remembrance Day here). And homework too!

    But first things first. In 2016, Australian social demographer Bernard Salt outraged millennials globally (and defined the generation gap) by suggesting that if they spent on less on trendy foods (like smashed avocado and fetta on five-grain toast) in smart cafes, they might just be able to afford to buy their own home. This week’s contribution pays tribute to that historic (and hysteric) moment.

    Smashed Avocado

    ‘Why are you still renting, son?’
    ‘Because I can’t save enough to buy.’
    ‘But you’ve just been overseas.’
    ‘It’s called a rite of passage, Dad.’
    ‘Is that a new phone you’ve got?’
    ‘Yes. This one’s 5G and has an amazing camera.’
    ‘How’s the car running?’
    ‘Don’t start that again. All cars will be electric soon.’
    ‘So do you ever plan to buy a house?’
    ‘Of course … well, maybe …maybe never. Depends on whether Zoe and I get serious.’
    ‘Holidays, latest phone, latest car, different girl every month and every morning for breakfast, smashed avocado. That plan is toast.’

      • Doug Jacquier

        Thanks, Anne.

    • Charli Mills

      Ha, ha! That is a great last line. I’ve often thought about how many more expensive items we have than in previous eras. I think of the Victorians and how they often delayed marriage to ensure a livelihood and means of supporting a household. It might be fun to meld Moderns and Victorians into a story! Nice tribute and I’m glad you found the nod to our shared days of remembrance.

    • D. Avery @shiftnshake

      Love it. Yep, so many don’t know how to prioritize or budget or save. Well told, this.

    • Liz H

      I shrug my shoulders at the difference in priorities, and remember that many of the hippies in the ’60’s became CEOs just a few decades later. We’ll see what our kids do…

      • Doug Jacquier

        Indeed 🙂

    • Chel Owens

      I shake my head so often at this rising generation.

      • Doug Jacquier

        Don’t do it too much; you’ll rick your neck 🙂

    • Gloria

      Excellent Doug. As my mother said to me the first time I brought an avocado into the house (around the mid-eighties), ‘It’s far from avocados you were rared.’

      • Doug Jacquier

        Thanks, Gloria

      • Charli Mills

        Ha! I never really thought of how exotic avocados could be, until I started reading the stories from the UK and beyond.

  3. ellenbest24

    The 89 yr olds tale is Poignant, powerful and thought provoking.
    I had not thought about the different lengths of bio, I feel It is a ridiculously obvious need, one I failed to see, its omission now feels neglectful. I had not noticed what was in front of my own closed eyes. I do however, rewrite my biography every 18months or so. I am a person that writes, learns and constantly, grows/evolves and acknowledges how far I have come, that in its self changes my story. I plan to write the three and rectify this, so thank you Charli, for highlighting this.

    • Charli Mills

      You are already evolving your story every year, Ellen. Next, you can craft your annual bio bites from it. I appreciate your openness to constantly growing. I think writing complements the life-long learner.

      • ellenbest24

        It is when a person loses that thing, humility, and believes she/he is good enough, has no need to learn, then no matter how much fame, money, or books they have sold; that person stagnates. We can learn something new every day.

      • Charli Mills

        Every day! I think learning is a greater gift than fame.

  4. denmaniacs4

    Okay, I had avocado in my salad tonight, so I was primed for this post, eh…
    And then I started to sing, warble-like, a little ballad I suppose, and just kept moaning out the lyric and the tune…can’t say it’s brilliant, but it sure tasted good…

    Avocado Toast

    I don’t mean to boast,
    Don’t mean to crow,
    But I love my toast
    Smothered wide and deep
    with avocado.

    Avocado dreams, they sure fill my cup,
    Breakfast love or my evening sup,
    A midnight snack when sleep won’t flow,
    A slice of toasted bread
    smeared with avocado.

    I‘m a pretty good host
    Like to put on a show,
    Cook up a veggie roast
    And a very slow baked
    sweet potato.

    Avocado dreams, they sure fill my cup,
    Breakfast love or my evening sup,
    A midnight snack when sleep won’t flow,
    A slice of toasted bread
    smeared with avocado.

    http://www.engleson.ca

    • Anne Goodwin (Annecdotist)

      Bill, I’m coming round for dinner! Oh, and what voice part do you sing? I’ll warble the high notes (shakily).

    • D. Avery @shiftnshake

      Kid sings to the tune of the Eagle’s Desperado

      https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=f7dXwwbi3bM

      *Avocado, yer so healthy an’ tasty
      Smeared on toast or mushed in a bean dip
      Oh, yer a fatty one
      But yers is thet good kind
      yer slimy goodness we don’t mind
      good right to yer pit*

      “Kid, what’re ya doin’ ta thet Eagles song? It ain’t karaoke night.”

      *Don’t git me goin’ on guacomole, Pal
      One a the best foods aroun’
      Avocado an’ garlic an’ jalepenos too
      In a salad, on chips or taco
      don’t worry if green turns ta brown
      guac less than prime is still sublime and it will do*

      “Engleson put ya up ta this?”

      • denmaniacs4

        A beauty of a song…one for the ages…love it…

      • Charli Mills

        Freedom of the avocado! Well done, Kid.

      • Liz H

        Don Henley is saddling up his horse and comin’ fer ya, with a thundering group a’ Ghostriders!

      • D. Avery @shiftnshake

        Joke’s on me… cain’t git the dang tune outta my head.

    • Charli Mills

      Brilliant, Bill! You were prepped and wrote the avocado toast anthem. Mmm, yes, a midnight snack on sourdough, oh the avocado.

    • D. Avery @shiftnshake

      A lovely tuneful take on the prompt, Bill. An avocad-ode.

    • Liz H

      I can’t tell you how happy this made me!

    • Gloria

      Love it! I found myself singing this!

  5. Sarah Brentyn

    That is a powerful story. Heartbreaking.

    I love this: “As writers, we recognize stories all around us…” Yes. We do.

    I have quite a set of bios. Like a mish-mash of old china collected from distant relatives. Nothing matches but they’re all beautiful in their own way. I really need to get the word count right and the content…better? More…me? More…appropriate? Not that it’s not…never mind. I have a bad set of bios that I’ll fix one of these days. I’ve always said you have an amazing way with branding/marketing/etc. 🙂

    • Anne Goodwin (Annecdotist)

      I’m sure that old china is magnificent, Sarah. I wonder if I can blame my contradictory bios on a love of mismatched crockery!

    • Charli Mills

      Sarah, I love the imagery of bios as a mish-mash of old china. Just put them all in one hutch, pull out and polish what you need, changing out pieces as your collection evolves. It’s an ongoing process.

  6. D. Avery @shiftnshake

    Ahead a Ther Time

    “Figgered ya’d be whinin’ ‘bout this prompt, Kid.”
    “Ha! We’re all set. Avocado toast’s been on the Saddle Up Saloon menu since the get go.”
    “It has?”
    “Jeez, Pal. Pay attenchen. Thinkin’ we’ll add pasties to the menu too.”
    “Oh, now thet’s a good idea. Kin we do thet afore November 16 when T. Marie Bertineau takes the stage?”
    “Sure kin, Pal. An’ folks kin be thinkin’ now on recipes an’ reminisces fer November 23’s Recipe Rustlin’ at the Saloon. Heck, contact us at shiftnshake@dslayton.com , mebbe ya kin take the stage, tellin’ ‘bout favorite fam’ly an’ their foods.”

    • Doug Jacquier

      I hope Kid’s talkin’ about them food pasties and not them other kind. 😉

      • D. Avery @shiftnshake

        I wondered who would read it that long /a/ way. Take the stage at the saloon, Doug, give ’em a whirl.

      • Doug Jacquier

        Love to. How do I do that?

    • Charli Mills

      Happy to see T. Marie will be visiting the Saloon! Mighty fine book she just released. I’m liking the recipe rustlin’. Good time of year for it. I died laughing when I looked up “pasties” after Doug’s comment (I got curious)! Is there something else happening at the Saloon after hours?

      • D. Avery @shiftnshake

        Doug is thinking of Caret Raunch. The Saddle Up remains a family friendly place, well, mostly. Yes, coming soon to a saloon near you is Keweenaw author of The Mason House, T. Marie Bertineau! And I’m hoping to get some recipes and 59 word anecdotes in ahead of time to feature at the saloon.

      • Charli Mills

        A relief to hear but hope folks don’t go to the Caret Raunch expecting literary art!

    • Jules

      It’s just a fact that most words have two meanings….
      Maybe there’s a Cabaret Ranch too?
      I actually thought of both when I read this… But then I have a mind that looks for such things. But knowing Carrot Ranch is a family friendly place I figured it hadda be the food. 😉

  7. Anne Goodwin (Annecdotist)

    Thanks for the mention, Charli, and your support of evolving bios. I’m actually in transition mode at the moment – this month perhaps, not this week – as I’ve just achieved the elevated status of being “verified by Google” with very little understanding of what that means. But I did write a new bio a couple of weeks ago for a free trial on a book promotion site which is all about the story behind the story, including the person who wrote it

    https://bublish.com/author/annegoodwin

    It’s probably a lot longer than 100 words. Feedback welcome.

    I also shifted the focus slightly in response to some unsolicited feedback that referring to my background as a clinical psychologist was a turnoff for readers – it gets an earlier mention in the previous version of my long bio which is still on my website https://annegoodwin.weebly.com/about-me.html – so I’d be very interested to hear what others think.

    As for avocados, I love them, but it’s not an ethical choice of food in the UK when we have to import them from former Brazilian rainforest. I trust I’ll find ninety-nine words to say about them by your deadline.

    • Doug Jacquier

      Great bio, Anne. As for your former profession being a turn-off for some, I tend to describe myself as a recovering social worker. 😉

      • Anne Goodwin (Annecdotist)

        Thanks, Doug, similarly I had recovering psychologist on my Twitter bio until I decided it took too many characters. But yeah, we do need some decent recovery time! What brand of social work are you recovering from?

    • Charli Mills

      Verified by Google? Well, now we know you are the real deal! Actually, thank you for bringing that up. Google, too, has evolved over the years in how they allow businesses and identities control over their brands. They discontinued several other platforms I was sad to see go away. To get verified, you have to prove who you are and that you have ownership over the identities you are verifying.

      I suggest other authors who publish a lot of content online or who have active author platforms check out the steps here: https://support.google.com/knowledgepanel/answer/7534902?hl=en

      I’d disagree with your unsolicited advisor unless it was a publicist or another industry person you are working with as an author. If they can cite a disadvantage with your target readers, it’s worth revamping, but I’m skeptical. Sounds like a subjective opinion. Brands are best when they are authentic. It doesn’t mean you reveal anything private, but that you can own what you do share. Your background as a clinical psychologist is authentically part of who you are, what you write, and why. You also have built a regarded platform as an expert in fictional therapists. That is a vital part of your author credibility. Rearranging your bio is fine, but I would take the comment with a grain of salt.

      Nice bubbles! I like how Bublish allows you to pair author insights and excerpts in such a visual way. Your bio is longer, but this allows you to elongate your story and you maintain key points between your bios (one of my favorites is your ongoing battle with slugs). I like the story of your journey in the Bublish bio, too. I hope “hides among the proper sopranos” evolves. I greatly admire your bravery to sing. As a non-singer, this gives me hope. Shine and take your place!

      And, yes, eat ethically. One day, perhaps, you will travel to San Antonio Texas, and experience the taste of fresh avocados. Worth holding out for an ethical, authentic flavor.

      • D. Avery @shiftnshake

        You sure about that googlethingy link, Boss?

      • Charli Mills

        Verified by D. Avery.

      • Anne Goodwin (Annecdotist)

        Thanks, Charli, for taking the time and trouble to delve into these issues.

        I was nudged into getting verified by my publisher some months back – it must have been early into lockdown as my hair looks awful in the photos of me holding up my documents for proof of who I am. It does seem rather odd. Now I feel embarrassed about some of the mistakes in the profile – omissions and unearned awards – even though they are not my mistakes and it seems a hell of a complicated to get through the bot to amend them.

        Thanks for checking out the bios. I agree with you about authenticity – which is what I said to this person – I used to miss it out because I was shy and also wanted to keep my writing separate so the labour belonged to me rather than an employer, but it felt inauthentic to omit it. And the roots of my writing and psychologising stem from a similar place. So I wasn’t going to drop it, but very helpful to get other feedback.

        Honestly, I really am an only just good enough singer but when I’m among better singers (which is almost everybody else in the choirs I sing with) I sound much better. So the online singing is more of a challenge, although potentially I’m learning more. I have to remind myself everyone’s voice sounds terrible when separate from the others – although perhaps not as terrible as mine – to gird myself to do the recordings. But I feel very lucky that I landed in a supportive choir about ten years ago and wish everyone else could have what it’s given me!

        Yeah, Bublish is fun. I have to decide what to do when my free trial ends at the end of the year but might keep it going for a little while even if it doesn’t convert into sales. You can also make bubbles from work in progress if you are thinking of adding it to your Christmas list!

        Finally, I have had the pleasure of eating avocados almost directly from the tree in South America, along with mangoes – another import to the UK. I’m afraid my 99-word story has gone down the moral path

      • Charli Mills

        Of all the places to win a regional award, Anne — the Great Lakes region! It can be difficult to get through automation, though for corrections. I suspect this feature is new but I can see its benefit. You give me hope for singing!

    • D. Avery @shiftnshake

      What is your shoe size Anne? My Euro sized ski boots are 39, but that’s only eight and a half American. Even eight and a half published novels would be quite an accomplishment. 39 might end up with some clunkers in the mix, no matter who you are. Either way, best of luck.

      • Anne Goodwin (Annecdotist)

        My Euro size is also 39 but the UK sizes are different to both the US and the rest of Europe. So I’m a 6 which does seem doable but I think I should nevertheless drop it from my bio. I’m not sure I’d want to read an author who published forty books even if they started in their 20s.

    • Charli Mills

      Everything salsa!

    • Charli Mills

      Hmm, maybe in tequila…

  8. Jules

    Charli,

    I’ve had avocado toast and it is yummy. Though I didn’t put eggs on top of it like in the photo. Your story is both sad but full of hope and resilience. And reminded me of my MIL who when she lived in AZ had both and orange and grapefruit tree in her yard. But then she had to take meds that didn’t agree with the grapefruit…

    I did a two parter for my series and I used your prompt in the second one. I only put the second one in the Submit area. But it makes more sense to read both (which are each 99 words) – one could just go to the second if they wanted to.

    (25 & 25) Damned Family

    (24) Damned Family (Jesse Begins Seriously Reading Norman’s Journal)

    Jesse believed she now had the job of finding out more about Norman and this mysterious journal that he kept. She believed she saw his dead body in her hotel room when she had gone to her family reunion. Her own job was flexible, working for herself, which she did even though her own family inheritance had left her more than comfortable. But she had never really had a handle on what Norman did. Something for the government.

    Jesse sat down and flipped the journal pages. She discovered Norman wrote poetry. An outlet for both his frustrations and creativity.

    (25) Damned Family (Norman Makes Noise to Prove He Exists – this poem, not hidden, in his Journal)

    To be heard
    How absurd
    Spreading avocado on toast
    Just to boast
    That I exist
    I know you’ve woke –
    I don’t have to poke
    you awake
    I’ll stake
    My reputation
    If I ever had one
    Just to have some fun
    To breathe, to live
    To love, to give
    Let you gift me a new toaster
    When the this one I’ve used
    Possibly abused
    Happens to break down
    So please don’t frown
    In the morning’s light

    It had been Norman’s job in his brief marriage to make breakfast. He had to keep up appearances of having a normal job.

    ©JP/dh

    • D. Avery @shiftnshake

      Im thinking there’s going to be a whole lot of not normal with Norman. The intrigue continues…

    • Charli Mills

      I think it would be so lovely to have fruit trees, Jules. The Hub’s grandmother had a grapefruit tree in Texas and she’d bring some when she visited. Best I ever had! I did grab (24) as well to introduce the poetic journal entry.

      • Jules

        (Thanks for grabbing 24).
        I think grapefruit is something you have to acquire a taste for. I like it with some honey 🙂

      • Charli Mills

        Honey sounds delicious!

  9. robbiesinspiration

    This elderly woman’s story is so very sad, Charli. A hard thing to live with your whole life. I enjoyed your piece about avocado toast. It is wonderful that you are reaching the end of your studies and are nearly ready to move on to the next phase of your life.

    • Charli Mills

      Yes, Robbie, a hard thing to live with yet it gave her a fuller appreciation of life and health. Such a mystery how sorrow and joy work in us.

    • Jules

      I had forgotten, but I looked up how to add comments to WP pages.
      That’s open now…

    • Charli Mills

      Great job, Jules! So pleased you took the initiative and you have your complete set, including your author tagline.

      • Jules

        I’ve had the ‘tagline’ before I even started ‘blogging’ – it’s old, but it’s good 😀

  10. D. Avery @shiftnshake

    Toast

    In the beginning we both adored avocado toast for breakfast. Together we peeled and pitted. We ate avocado toast out of each other’s hands.
    In the end of the beginning I suggested other breakfast foods, reminisced about eggs. Oatmeal even, with raisins. Surely an avocado aficionado would also appreciate raisins and oats. But you insisted on only, always, avocado on toast.
    In the beginning of the end I slumped at the counter slurping oatmeal while you crunched overdone toast smeared with over-ripe avocado.
    In the end I let you rush to that meeting with avocado stuck in your mustache.

    • Jules

      Now there’s really an ending… beginning.

    • Liz H

      I definitely feel this one.

    • Charli Mills

      A complete story in 99 words, and says so much about the rise and fall of a relationship.

  11. reading journeys

    Hi Charli
    A thought-provoking blog.

    And as has happened many times, my FF flowed from your blog about how writers evolve, finding stories from life around them…

    All the best as you continue to move closer to those goals as a writer yourself, and helping others to evolve as writers. Fantastic!

    Saifun

    • Charli Mills

      Hi Saiffun! I like your stories about the food writer and farmers markets. Your continuation of what inspires you in turn, inspires. Thank you!

  12. TanGental

    While the story is delightful in a terribly sad way, and I enjoyed this post can I perhaps be the first here to say if I never see another avocado it won’t be soon enough. They’re slimy, taste like dishcloths, are difficult to access, cause more damage to the environment than a diesel powered denier and are wrapped round some form of fossilised testicle which if you tread on it can cause an outbreak of effingitis. Up there with marmite, grapefruit and taramasalata as the most unnecessary foodstuffs ever developed…

    • suespitulnik

      You make me laugh. I read this aloud to my husband.

      • TanGental

        Long may the sniggering continue!!

    • Charli Mills

      I see you like avocados as much as you do horses, Geoff. I’m laughing with, Sue. Also laughing because I love how likes, dislikes, humor, and serious life issues have melded magically in this collection of stories about a humble Mexican food you and RV called testicles, Eliza Mimski called the vagina of fruit, and Anne Goodwin called a hand-grenade! I might have to prompt marmite sometime. This is great fun.

      • TanGental

        I see Dede is planning a recipe collection. I think Morgan’s marmite and marshmallow s’mores might work

      • Charli Mills

        Definitely send that to her!

  13. TanGental

    And this week the boys address food choices, amongst others…
    Avocado, A Conundrum

    ‘What is that?’
    ‘Breakfast.’
    ‘You’re going to eat it?’
    ‘It’s a superfood.’
    ‘Is that like saying something is super good when normal people say very…?’
    ‘And when you say ‘normal’ people you mean people like you?’
    ‘Your point?’
    ‘You hate change.’
    ‘I do not. I use hand cream. I’ve even trimmed my ear hairs. My old dad would never have done either.’
    ‘He like avocado.’
    ‘No he didn’t. Is that what that is?’
    ‘On organic sourdough toast with tahini shrooms and…’
    ‘My dad never ate avocado.’
    ‘Yes he did. With his fish supper…’
    ‘Morgan, they were mushy peas…’
    ‘Ah!’

    With apologies to an UK urban legend involving a one time Labour politican, Peter Mandleson…

    • D. Avery @shiftnshake

      Um, how do these lads prepare guacomole?

      • TanGental

        With difficulty… boom boom!@

    • Charli Mills

      Mushy peas — the guac of the UK! Aw, the lads will resist change and survive.

  14. Norah

    Charli, As always, such richness in your post. And a new website too! It’s looking good. I’ve been contemplating how I need to change my blog now as I focus more upon my goal of being a published children’s author. My purpose for and use of the blog has changed over the years.
    Bios are so difficult. I read other people’s bios and they sound so interesting and often amusing. I write my own and it sounds so bland. I guess why should I expect anything else? I do rewrite it each time I submit, trying to work out what I need to say to the current reader, how to make me sound more worthy of their interest. I need to come up with a clever catch phrase, like Anne has.
    I didn’t realise avocado on toast was a ‘thing’ anywhere other than here. What a sad story about accidentally burning down your home. (not you, your interviewee) What a burden to carry for over eighty years. And she never let herself forget but made herself remember at the start of every day.
    Avocado reminds me of a cousin who was also a veteran, an officer in the army. After he ‘retired’ (at about forty, I think, – or even younger), he tried a few different things before buying an avocado farm. He was totally convinced of the health benefits of the fruit and never missed an opportunity of sharing them with whomever would, or wouldn’t, listen. He was also very fit and free with other health advice. We would have expected him to live a healthly life into old age. Sadly, a heart attack took him from us a few years ago in his early sixties. Those of us less fit and less healthy than he fail to make sense of it. There is no sense.
    So sorry for the long tale, but between avocados and veterans’ day, that’s where it led. I should have kept to the 99 words, eh?
    Best wishes not only with your finals, but with all your goals for the future.

    • D. Avery @shiftnshake

      9 words from Kid:
      Norah, super good, tireless avocado for children and literacy.

      • Norah

        Tireless avocado. I like that. I always thought I might be a bit pear shaped, but avocado sounds more exotic. 🙂

    • Charli Mills

      Norah, you have so much to play with to come up with a clever catchphrase. We always think our own bios are bland because it’s every day for us. But look to things that make you feel excited. That’s the pulse of authenticity. Look for what can be ironic (the cornerstone of humor and hooks). Swimming, stuffed animals, dinosaur knowledge — have fun with those topics, surprise people in a way they don’t expect. And yes, we evolve and so do our blogs. You are doing good to examine what has changed and what you can change to prepare for the next evolution. You have always taught us. I’ve appreciated that from the beginning. I think that engages your readers and your writing community.

      She never forgot, but she learned to appreciate life at a deep level that translated to healthy living.

      I didn’t realize that avocados are grown in Australia! Ah, so avocado toast is a thing both here and there. None of us escape this world alive. Your cousin found something worth living for and that purpose fulfilled him.

      Thanks for your good wishes and stories!

      • Norah

        Thanks for your wisdom, Charli. I’ll work on my bio and my blog and see what I can ferret out of the woodwork. You’re always so encouraging – that’s just one of the things I like about you.
        Yes, my cousin enjoyed his avocados, as did many others of us. He had a special place in my heart. And still does.
        Thanks for your kind words. 🙂

  15. Ann Edall-Robson

    Dress It Up
    By Ann Edall-Robson

    A loud snort was heard as the last of the cowboys came into the kitchen. Plates of food sat untouched on the table, ranch hands staring at their breakfast. Rummaging around in the cook’s fridge was forbidden but he’d take one for the team if he had to.

    “Got any onions, garlic, hot sauce?”

    “Stay out of my fridge!”

    “No offence, ma’am, but if you expect us to eat this sh..stuff, maybe dress it up. How ‘bout with tortilla, beans, bacon, and eggs. Never heard of just avocado on toast.”

    Sobs choked her words.

    “That’s all there is.”

    https://www.annedallrobson.com/99-words/dress-it-up

    • Charli Mills

      Some cooks had to pull the stops to stretch the meal.I like this story of making the best of hard times, Ann.

  16. H.R.R. Gorman

    What an incredible set of memories – both in her own recollection and your ability, now, to recall her tales. Through you (and us now, I expect), her memories linger.

    • Charli Mills

      H., memories are alive that way. I remember meeting a Kentucky storyteller once who told about her great-grandfather on his death bed. She was a child. He held her hand and told her about a man he once met who fought in the Civil War when he was a boy. He shook that man’s hand. He told his great-granddaughter that she now held the hand of a man who once held the hand of someone who saw battle in the Civil War. After her performance, I got to meet her and she held my hand and passed that memory to me. That’s when I understood stories are alive and we are the story catchers.

      • H.R.R. Gorman

        I remember a post that included that! It’s indeed a powerful story.

  17. Hugh W. Roberts

    I’ve lost count of the times I’ve mentioned to bloggers to not only ensure they have an ‘about me’ page on their blog but also to ensure it’s updated. A few months ago, I came across an ‘about me’ page that started in 2014 and ended in 2015, yet the blogger was still publishing posts and wondering why they didn’t get a lot of engagement or new followers. I politely pointed out that the majority of new visitors to a blog want to know a little more about the person behind the blog, and will visit the ‘about me’ page for that information. If it’s out of date, how will they know that the person behind the blog is somebody who cares not only about themselves but who cares for visitors to their blog too? Unfortunately, my recommendation fell on death ears, and the ‘about me’ page is still five years out of date.

    Likewise, you’re right about a writer’s bio, Charli. I tend to update the two I have whenever I submit them for guest posts. Now I need to get the nine-word one written. It seems a lot harder to write than the other two. I wonder why?

    • Charli Mills

      Hugh, you do such a service to bloggers letting them know how important their About Me page is. I had a boss who used to tell me you have to tell someone 22 times before they get it! So keep that post in circulation and keep speaking it. As for the 9-words, it is harder to distill the details. But if you do, often it becomes your author tagline. Maybe think of it in those terms.

      • Hugh W. Roberts

        Thanks, Charli. Your words have all been beneficial. I’ll get to work on those 9-words.

  18. Liz H

    I did a two-fer this week, with very different feels to them. Hope you enjoy!
    Here’s the beginning of the first. Please click on [Continue} to see the end, and also the second, to cheer you up…

    Tea and Sympathy

    “What’s the plan for today?” he asked.
    Georgia watched out the window as squirrels chased each other through new-fallen snow, then up and around the trunk of the red oak they’d planted at Jessi’s birth. Snow chunks dropped like overcooked spuds.
    [Continue, and one more ]

    • Charli Mills

      BOGO week! Or maybe we should call it WOGO — write one get one free. But I have to shudder because there’s goat cheese in one of your two-fers, Liz Oh, no!

      • Liz H

        Was my dad’s fav, brunost on a rye crisp. Heaven to him!

      • Charli Mills

        All the best to him! 😉

  19. Gloria

    What a sad story about that old woman losing her little sister and their home. Stories are indeed powerful!

    Oh gosh yes….the bios. I probably should update my about pages and my social media bios. Thank you for all that advice Charli. I struggle with 99 words…how will I manage 9? LOL

    Here’s my little ‘Avocado Toast’ story.
    https://weareholistic.wordpress.com/2020/11/16/george-is-my-friend/

    • suespitulnik

      I think George will make a good friend.

      • Gloria

        I think you’re right Sue!

    • Charli Mills

      It is a sad story, Gloria, and sticks with me, yet she also glowed with such healthy living because she faced her story with grace every day, and lived.

      Ha! 9-words is the toughest and you might have to write many before you get to the “one” that fits. Usually, that becomes your tagline. It’s worth it.

      What a sweet story!

  20. Ruchira Khanna

    I loved how the avocado toast story shaped out for that old lady. I wish her peace. I absolutely loved your idea on the bio’s Charli, and have started working on them as I keep a tab on the word count. Never considered to keep it short or upto the mark. Thanks for the tip.

    My take on today’s prompt:
    https://abracabadra.blogspot.com/2020/11/the-grinch.html

    • Charli Mills

      Thanks, Ruchira. It shaped her life and she made mindful choices because of it. Glad to see you shaping those bios!

  21. suespitulnik

    Wow, Charli,

    You continue to amaze me with your new knowledge, goals, sharing, and now a new website. I am humbled to be among your students. Three bios!! With your permission, I plan to present this information to my local writing groups. I can hear them grumbling, as I did until I read the explanation. Getting them written will be added to my to-do list. All the best for finals week. The end of the MFA is in sight. We are all plugging for you.
    I can say I’ve had the pleasure of eating avocado toast at cafes in CA and would like to repeat the experience. On to the prompt…

    Breakfasting Alone

    Tessa palmed the purplish avocado to slice through the leathery covering. When the sharp blade hit the pit, she turned the fruit in a circle to pair the complete skin. After putting down the knife she used both hands to twist the avocado into two pieces. Then she slid the tines of a fork between the protruding pit and green meat and flicked the pit into the sink. Using a spoon she scooped the green meat out of both halves, mashed it, then slathered it onto pieces of buttery hot toast. This was her secret indulgence when Michael traveled.

    • Gloria

      I know the feeling. At this very moment, I’m indulging in mashed avocado on ryvita topped with smoked salmon for lunch. My husband is at work and I know he’d be so jealous if he knew. ????

    • D. Avery @shiftnshake

      Perfectly described that undoing of the avocado.
      (You ever toothpicked that pit, put it in a jar and started an avocado tree?)

      • suespitulnik

        When my kids were little we started a tree then realized it couldn’t grow in upstate New York!

      • Ruchira Khanna

        I managed to get two sprouts…they are growing in the soil right now…hopefully next year I should have a yield. Fingers crossed!

    • suespitulnik

      And a rewrite after talking to my favorite critiquer.

      Avocado toast – rewrite

      As soon as Michael told Tessa he had to go to Walter Reed she made a grocery list. There were some things he refused to eat so she had them as guilty pleasures when he was away. She had never mastered picking the perfect purplish-green orbs, so would buy three. They were a pain to peel without getting the slimy meat on her hands, and the pit often flew across the room when she removed it, but the avocado mashed on a hot buttery piece of toast was worth the trouble. How soon did he say he was leaving?

    • Charli Mills

      Sue, you are welcome to share anything from Carrot Ranch with your writer’s group. Ha! Yep, three bios. The more you work on them and commit to updates, the better it flows. You actually do best to think of your reader. What do readers want to know? How will it get them interested in reading what you write? You can TUFF a bio into three!

      Yes, an end in sight, yet still so much to do.

      Avocados are best in CA and TX. I’d like a repeat of that flavor, too. And your flash captures the ways veteran families look to fill the gaps with simple rituals worth looking forward to.

  22. Anne Goodwin (Annecdotist)

    This is pared down from a longer short story I’m reading right now on my blog:

    Haunted by her carbon footprint

    Selena thought they resembled hand grenades, but beneath the toady carapace the flesh was melt-in-the-mouth divine. Yes, the price had doubled recently, but avocado on toast would set her up for a successful day.

    Three packets in her trolley, she moved on to the bakery counter. Turning her head, a trail of sooty footprints marked her path from the greengrocery section. Yet the soles of her shoes were pristine.

    With a sigh, she retraced her steps. She knew the drill. She could scrub the floor she’d sullied. Or return the airfreighted produce that depleted the rainforests to the shelf.

    https://annegoodwin.weebly.com/annecdotal/avocado-on-toast-anyone

    • Charli Mills

      The title grabbed me, Anne. I liked what you did to further the haunting.

  23. Charli Mills

    Thanks, Frank!

  24. Charli Mills

    Thanks, Donna!

  25. Charli Mills

    Thanks, Jeff!

  26. Charli Mills

    Thanks, Anita!

  27. Charli Mills

    Thanks, Chel!

Trackbacks/Pingbacks

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  11. Avocado On Toast #flashfiction – Hugh's Views & News   - […] for the 99-word flash fiction challenge hosted by Charli Mills at the Carrot Ranch. Click here to join […]
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