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Announcing the WINNERS of the Sue Vincent Rodeo Classic

When the Rodeo came to town, Rough Writers from around the world answered the call. You came, you sat in the saddle, you rode the bull, and you joined the parade.

Most important, you were inspired by our wonderful friend, Sue Vincent. Sue has been battling terminal cancer, and we’re thrilled that she is around to see the winners (though I admit I cheated and let her know the top winner a little early). Participants were allowed and encouraged to donate to help Sue and her family, but we believe the photo she provided as the prompt was worthy of any prize. Her photo prompted 63 wonderful 99 word stories and 99 syllable poems; if the average picture is worth 1,000 words, then we can be certain her prompt is way above average!

The Sue Vincent Rodeo Challenge Prompt

When speaking with Sue following the contest, we learned that everything YOU have done has been an immense help. You’ve helped Sue get essential equipment – such as a wheelchair – that has helped her in these days. As she continues to blog, like an absolute hero, the donations and help you’ve given through the Rodeo has given her the comfort and items she needs to keep going. Her family has also seen how important she is in the online community, which is something that can often seem mysterious and vague to people not directly involved. Ultimately, everyone who participated gets the big prize: you did something amazing, and you stepped up to the plate. The quality of your love, kindness, and creativity has made way for great things.

Even at the very first step, all the judges recognized the quality of the entries. We wish everyone could win the prizes ($100 grand prize, books for the runners up), but TUFF calls were made and we at last have our decision. Common themes judges picked out was “home” and “family”, which I think is fitting of the image.

These entries were checked by H.R.R. Gorman for word or syllable count, anonymized, and sent out to the first set of judges: D. Avery, Sue Spitulnik, and Sherri Matthews. The top fifteen entries were then passed to our second set of judges, and they had the job of choosing the top entries. From there, we determined…


Judges Anne Goodwin, Geoff Le Pard, and Charli Mills met to discuss the peer-reviewed finalists on Zoom. Each winning story had a beginning, middle, and end. Each poem had a theme, movement, and rhythm. The judges discussed how 99-word stories and 99-syllable poems have the capacity to go beyond setting and imagery about a photo prompt. What stood out were stories and poems that not only felt complete or thematic but also held elements of surprise, whether irony, humor, or use of language. Ultimately, judges agreed on the ranking for the top three placing stories and each selected a personal favorite.

THIRD PLACE: Mornful Song
by Chel Owens

Warm, the scent of yesteryears;
A smile escapes her scowl
As hushing rushing heatherings
Dance ‘gainst the moorish howl.

Warming scent
Hush rush
Dance moor howl

A curlew calls his neighbors near
They answer, happily
A song of sunshined solitude
Surrounds her, willingly

Curlew’s call
Sun shine
Will ing ly

Aloft, then, flies the feathered throng,
No longer bound by fears.
Aloft, she soars; leaves life behind -
Behind, with yesteryears.

Judges’ Comments: Of all the finalist poems, judges appreciated this one best for going beyond descriptive imagery of the photo. The language is lush and rhythmic, and the poet used the syllables, “sun shine” and “will ing ly” as a bird’s call. Judges hesitated over the title – either it was a play on words for morning or a typo. Given the play with words and sounds within judges decided the title was clever.

SECOND PLACE: A Home, Someday
by Chel Owens

My grandma told of wondrous things: tall poles with whispering green papers; rock mounds a person could never climb; and cold, white flakes that sparkled in moonlight. I used to sit, mouth and eyes full wide, trying to see what her silent eyes remembered.

I saved her words; soaked them up.

Now, while my own grandchildren lean against the thick portholes of our transport ship and gaze at distant nothing, I tell Grandma’s memories. I tell of evergreens and mountains. Of snow.

I tell them of the home we left in search of another.

For their own grandchildren.


Judges’ Comments: Judges noticed the unusual descriptions of evergreens, mountains, and snow as if the narrator and audience do not know these objects. This concept thrust the piece into the realm of story beyond a setting. The story structure narrows until the reader is left with a single word, “Someday.” It blends hope with despair for the plight of this uprooted family. The last sentence in the first paragraph caused some confusion regarding the narrative view. The judges agreed it could be a stronger story without that sentence. Overall, it remained memorable.

FIRST PLACE: Seeking Peace
by Norah Colvin

They stopped on a verge overlooking the valley.

“It’s beautiful, Dad. And so big. You said it was small.”

“Not small in size, son. Small in mind.”

“What’s that mean?”

“Folks round here didn’t want your mum and me getting married. They threatened to keep us apart. Cruel words were spoken. We left and never returned.”

“Why’re we coming back?”

“Your mother asked us — to make peace. Before it’s too late.”

“Like it is for her?” His voice trembled.

“Yeah.” He rubbed the boy’s head.

“Will we?”

“We’ll know soon enough.”

He inched the car towards the village.

Judges’ Comments: This author nailed a response to a photo challenge with the opening line, taking the reader from photo to story with an economy of words. This is a smart strategy when you only have 99 words or 99 syllables. We step out of the image into the lives of a father and son. The dialog is clear, sharp, and tells the story of loss and hopeful redemption. The judges appreciated a place not small in size but small in mind. That single concept conveys much. A well-crafted story with emotion and purpose takes ownership of the photo.


ANNE’S PICK: A New Day Dawns
by Colleen Chesebro

snowy crags pay homage
to the land spirits,
Landvættir—guardians of the terra firma
earth, air, fire, and water
jointly bound as one

where the ley lines converge
strength and energy
exist in a parallel space, winter-worn
bronzed leaves on barren trees
watchers of the truth

birth, life, death, and rebirth,
earth magic abounds
reflected in the adumbrate clouds of spring
for keepers of the land
another day dawns

The elemental imagery pulled Anne into this peaceful poem about the circle of life. Although not normally drawn to the spiritual, she liked the prioritisation of landscape over people. She hadn’t heard of Landvættir, although guessed it was Icelandic, but that didn’t spoil her pleasure. She liked the simple language and thus queried the use of ‘adumbrate’ in this context.

GEOFF’S PICK: No Place Like Home
by Willow Willers

They had spent the last five years searching for the perfect place to settle. Travelling to several planets and even one other galaxy but nothing suited.

So their hearts lifted at the sight of the valley. The elders raised their hands pronoucing "This is the perfect place, protected by mountains with it’s own water supply. Even a few remaining buildings."

A voice from the back chirped up.. "That’s where we started from, I can see my house" There was hush, a sharp intake of breath. "As we have always said" their elders smiled. "There is no place like home"

Geoff appreciated the author’s humour, a challenge in a 99 piece where a story has to be crafted, too. The sweep of the story, travelling galaxies before finding their new resting place was nicely done as was the punchline. Geoff felt the ending could perhaps have been tighter had the piece finished at ‘I can see my house’. And the unfortunate typo of ‘it’s’ rather than ‘its’ in the second paragraph lost the piece points in the eyes of the others, leading to it missing being placed. It emphasised the importance of checking your work, especially in small pieces. But overall, well done.

CHARLI’S PICK: Wind and the Wilderness
by Chengir

“I’m hungry and hate this kind of weather,” Radess complained bitterly.

“Are you kidding?” Boydann protested, “This is the best. The leaves have begun to fall and now there is less to hide behind. You just have to be patient.”

Radess wasn’t convinced. “Like that hunter who shot at us last year?”

“Okay, there was that.”

Sighing, Radess twisted his head. “Still, the only way to eat is to hunt.”

“True enough,” Boydann answered. The two vultures spread their enormous wings and slowly lifted themselves into the wind. They floated on the buoyant currents of air. . . and they waited.

The vultures got to Charli. Despite the technicality that vultures are scavengers, Charli delighted in the element of surprise. She also appreciated that this story stepped into the photo rather than describe it. She could see them spreading their wings within the image. She forgave the author the use of an adverb in the opening sentence. Humor, pacing of dialog, and story made this one worth noting.

Sue Vincent

Sue has been an inspiration in this little corner of the internet and in the Silent Eye school of myth and mysticism. She’s a kind, wonderful person who has opened many people’s hearts and minds to mystery, fun, and beauty. For years she has contributed a haiku almost every day at midnight, and many people love and enjoy them.

Sue is a poet, photographer, and wordsmith who you can find on her blogs The Daily Echo and/or France & Vincent. Take a look at her blog, if you will – you’ll be sure to find something to entertain you. She (and her compatriot, Stuart France) has published several books, which you can examine here.

If you want to know more about Sue’s battle with cancer, the team here at the rodeo encourages you to see a couple of her posts, especially this one and this one.

We hope you had a good time with the Rodeo, Sue, and we wish you luck on your adventure. We’ll miss you for sure, and we thank you for your work, your legacy, and your heart.

The Judges

ANNE GOODWIN is the author of two novels and a short story collection. Her next novel, Matilda Windsor Is Coming Home, is scheduled for publication in May 2021. A former clinical psychologist, Anne is also a book blogger with a particular interest in fictional therapists. 

GEOFF LE PARD started writing to entertain in 2006. He hasn’t left his keyboard since. When he’s not churning out novels, he writes some maudlin self-indulgent poetry, short fiction and blogs at He walks the dog for mutual inspiration and most of his best ideas come out of these strolls. He also cooks with passion if not precision.

CHARLI MILLS, lead buckaroo at Carrot Ranch Literary Community, completes her MFA in May 2021. She writes 99-word stories weekly and uses the format to teach storytelling to combat veterans, researchers, and rural entrepreneurs.

D. AVERY plays with words, sculpting stories and poems, at Shiftnshake.

SHERRI MATTHEWS is a non-fiction writer with published articles in magazines and anthologies. She blogs at A View From My Summerhouse and at her memoir column at Carrot Ranch, an international online literary community. A keen walker and photographer from the UK, Sherri raised her family in California for twenty years. Her work in the legal and medical fields came in handy for her caring and advocacy role as Mum to an adult child with Asperger’s Syndrome. Today, Sherri lives not too far from the sea in England’s West Country, hard at work on edits of her debut memoir. Writing stories from yesterday, making sense of today, giving hope for tomorrow.
Facebook Author Page:

SUE SPITULNIK writes about veterans’ and spouses’ issues on her blog.

H.R.R. GORMAN is a PhD chemical engineer with expertise in biotechnology and making drugs. If you want to know more about this white-trash-turned-excessively-bourgeois maniac, you can go to

Read the entire Collection here.


  1. Liz H says:

    Congratulations to all. And to all participants! Good reading and a little financial support for Sue, as intended. ❤❤🐎❤

  2. denmaniacs4 says:

    Great selections…well done one and all…

  3. Jen Goldie says:

    Congratulations to all! 😊🦋💜🌼

  4. Jen Goldie says:

    Congratulations Everyone!

  5. Norah says:

    OMG! I can’t believe I won. Am I dreaming? So many wonderful writers and so many wonderful stories and poems. Thank you to the judges and congratulations to all the contestants. Like responses to any of Charli’s prompts, responses to this photo prompt of Sue’s are all unique and special in their own way. I had thought this was my first response to a photo prompt until Anne Goodwin reminded me that I had responded to one of Geoff’s Le Pard’s some years ago. It was nothing like this one of Sue’s though.
    I’m so pleased that this contest has assisted Sue in so many ways, perhaps a small return on the ways in which she is a constant support for others.

    • Chel Owens says:

      I am so stoked for you, Norah! Great story!!

      • Norah says:

        Thank you, Chelsea. Congratulations on your places – two places! How excellent is that! I was especially moved by your poem. It’s filled with so much emotion and the senses are stirred as she moves onto the next part of her journey.

      • Chel Owens says:

        ❤ Thank you. It was very difficult to write.

      • Norah says:

        It shows a depth of thought and creativity. I really like it.

    • Well done, Norah – you are a champion!!! I love your work! 🙂

    • Yes, I remembered that conversation when Charli revealed (to the judges) who the winners were. So pleased for you. We loved your story.

      • Norah says:

        Thank you, Anne. I can’t say I was very confident when I submitted it. I am totally surprised and over the moon to have mine selected from so many excellent stories and poems.

    • Your story was fantastic, Norah! The fact it was your second photo prompt is impressive, too!

    • Many congratulations, Norah. Your piece of flash fiction has depth, emotion and is very entertaining. I especially love the last line about inching towards the village. The dialogue between father and son is sharp, distinct and powerful.

    • Congratulations, Norah… your story brought tears to my eyes. Those are the best kind. <3

    • nightlake says:

      Congrats, Norah. A well-deserved win.

    • Charli Mills says:

      I couldn’t wait to see your reaction when you found out, Norah! Congratulations on a well-deserved win.

      • Norah says:

        You wouldn’t have believed what you saw, Charli. My jaw dropped and I just sat in my chair repeating, ‘OMG, I can’t believe it!’ I still can’t. It has really given me a much needed boost at the moment. I received three rejections for picture book manuscripts in the previous two weeks. The rejections are better than never hearing and wondering though. 🙂 But winning this contest, which I never thought possible, was like a shot out of the blue.

      • Ugh, publishing requires so much networking.

        But this? This was definitely real. No one but me (and a couple stories got pegged during the first round, but they were given to alternative judges) knew who wrote what. It was blind, and thus fair. *that’s how you find quality*. You earned it!

      • Norah says:

        Thank you so much. I’m still over the moon. 🙂

      • Huge congratulations, Norah, I was over the moon to see your entry was chosen as the winner. What a fantastic boost for you at the perfect time. I am so sorry about your rejections in the same two weeks. I felt like that last year when smack-bang in the middle of our first lockdown (and here we all are, a year later…) when I got a handful of agent rejections for my memoir after a long wait to hear. No matter which way we look at it, it is tough and demoralising. But we get back up and keep pressing in, and when something like this happens, it’s massive. I recently got placed in a contest, not a winner, but just to have a special mention has given me such a lift. I loved your story. You are a wonderful writer, Norah. The sharp and defined story told through dialogue is powerful and succinct. It captured Sue’s glorious photo perfectly. Wish I could give you a congratulatory hug!! SMAG!! <3

    • Haha, has it sunk in yet? 😉 Just stopping by and replying to stuff, so I thought I’d make sure you’d remembered to breathe, lol.

  6. Norah says:

    Reblogged this on Norah Colvin and commented:

    The results of the Sue Vincent Rodeo Classic are out. You’ll never guess who won. You’ll have to pop over to see.

  7. Chel Owens says:

    I’m so excited! I never win anything! Yay, Norah! Thanks to all the amazing people who helped with this contest and who entered it. I hope we were able to spread the word for Sue. ❤

  8. Susan Scott says:

    Wonderful entries thank you for sharing them and congratulations to the winners, Norah, great on first prize! Well deserved!

  9. Ritu says:

    Congratulations to all the winners!

  10. Such an honour to judge this competition and so pleased for the winners. I hope everyone enjoys their stories / poems as much as we do.

  11. ellenbest24 says:

    Very well done everyone. X

  12. A wonderful tribute for a wonderful lady!

  13. Darlene says:

    Congratulations to all the winners! Some excellent writing here. I´m so glad we were all able to help Sue and her family, and that she is still here to see the results. So proud to be part of this community. Sending love to all. xo

  14. D.L. Finn, Author says:

    Congrats to all the winners. Such amazing stories and poetry. So glad this made a difference.

  15. restlessjo says:

    There’s some great storytelling here, and beautiful use of the words we all love. It’s a wonderful thing you’ve done between you and I’m indebted for the privilege of taking part and the journey it’s taken me on with lovely Sue. 🙂 🙂

  16. Congrats to everyone 🙂

  17. Cathy Cade says:

    Worthy winners

    • I agree! I was just the judge who anonymized it. As I read them all, I thought to myself, “Whoo boy, I’m glad I don’t have to actually choose!”

  18. Bliss bombs, especially to Chel and Norah, and well done to all for doing your best for Sue.

  19. Gwen M. Plano says:

    Congratulations to all the winners, each with extraordinary submissions. Bravo!

  20. A big thank you to everyone who organised, helped and participated in this wonderful competition in honour of a wonderful lady who captured my heart with her writing and all the support she has given to so many writers, authors and bloggers over the years I have known her.
    Congratulations to all the winners and the authors of the entries picked by the judges’.

  21. Congratulations to everyone! Fantastic response.

  22. […] can find all the entrants and winners here Congratulations and well done […]

  23. I love each winning story/poem, and in the end, feel that we are ALL winners. We all “know” Sue thanks to the power of the blogosphere, and we all participated out of a love of writing, and of Sue. Excellent job to Carrot Ranch for carrying this forth.

    • This is one of those times that I *genuinely* felt like everyone was a winner. Not only were the entries of excellent quality, each one was a special addition to the joy of the Rodeo. The rodeo wouldn’t have been the same without “Destiny”!

    • Charli Mills says:

      Everyone who participated was a winner with love as the grand prize.

  24. Jules says:

    Amazing entries and winners too! So glad that CR and all who entered have been able to lift more than just Sue’s spirits!!

    Thanks to the Judges, the winners and the participants!!

    Kudos to Chel and Norah! I hope that all of the entries can be made available to Sue and her family 🙂

  25. trentpmcd says:

    Congratulations to all, and particular Norah and Chel!

    • They’re all… MAGICAL!

      • trentpmcd says:

        Agreed! There is something about Sue and her photos that brings out that magic in everyone’s writing. Just happy she could “attend” the “awards ceremony”.

      • trentpmcd says:

        lol, I had totally forgotten that is what I named my entry until I started reading through them all. “Oh, so that’s what H.R.R. meant!” thanks!

      • Lololol – I was wondering if you or others I’d done that to would catch it.

      • trentpmcd says:

        If they are like me, most likely not. But, if they are like me and go to read all of the entries and not just the winners, they’ll most likely break into the same silly grin I have at your bit of cleverness 🙂

  26. socialbridge says:

    Well done everyone and a special word of thanks to the organisers and judges.
    What shines through most of all is the inspiration of our precious Sue. 💚

  27. suespitulnik says:

    Thank you H. and Charli for letting me play behind the curtain as a peer reader. It was an education and fun besides. The entries were indeed wonderful.

    Congratulations to Norah, Chel, Colleen, Willow, and Chengir.

    Blessings to Sue Vincent. I’m glad this event showed your family what an impact you have made world-wide.

  28. suespitulnik says:

    Reblogged this on Sue Spitulnik.

  29. Congratulations to the winners! (A great help to Sue. So, really, there are four winners in this rodeo.) ❤

  30. Oh my goodness. Fabulous poetry and prose. How beautiful. Many congrats to the writers and poets, especially to placers Nora and Chelsea. And a giant thank you to Carrot Ranch, the organizers of this event, and the judges. I’m so glad that Sue received some financial help and, of course, tons of love. <3

  31. Reblogged this on Pattys World and commented:



  32. Chel Owens says:

    Reblogged this on Chel Owens and commented:

    Well! The fundraising writing contest in honor of Sue Vincent has wrapped up. I hope you all entered. Two of the winners quite surprised me!

    And, there’s still time to pop over and kick a few funds her way to help defray her and her son’s costs if you haven’t already. ❤

  33. Congratulations all! Norah Colvin, your story was amazing and brought tears to my eyes. Chel Owens, you wrote some heartfelt poetry! You have such a natural sense of rhythm and rhyme. Willow Willers, your story gave me goosebumps. What an awakening to realize that the grass is not always greener on the other side. Chengir, I loved how you wrote from the perspective of the vultures. A wonderful surprise. The best part of this entire rodeo was being part of a wonderful group of giving writers and poets. I’m humbled. Sue Vincent and her talent, love, and support, is a gift to us all. <3

  34. Reblogged this on Colleen M. Chesebro and commented:

    Carrot Ranch has announced the WINNERS of the Sue Vincent Rodeo Classic! Congratulations to all! <3

  35. Congratulations to all the winners and an amazing contest… A wonderful tribute to Sue and all that she brings to this community.. She is an inspiration..♥

  36. […] The Winners are announced at […]

  37. calmkate says:

    congrats to the entire team, great work, well done!

  38. Congratulations to all. All wonderful entries. 🙂

  39. olganm says:

    Congratulations to all the participants. I love all the ones feature, and it’s great to know how much it means to Sue. Thanks for sharing this great initiative. ♥

  40. Congrats to all the winners, but more than that, to Sue for being the winner of so much love and affection!

  41. Congratulations to the winners. Well done! Have a beautiful week! Michael

  42. Jan Sikes says:

    Congratulations to all the winners! Fantastic writing!

  43. Congratulations to all the winners and I love all the love and support for Sue!

  44. acflory says:

    Fabulous stories and well deserved winners! Congratulations all. 🙂

  45. This was an amazing Rodeo. Thank you to H. and to Charli for making it happen for Sue Vincent. Thank you to all who took part in this event in what ever way you did. Congratulations to all who stepped up and entered the arena and hats off to the winners in what I know to have been a tough competition, with so many great entries.

  46. Eliza Waters says:

    Great work and congratulations to the winners… a wonderful cause, well done!

  47. nightlake says:

    Congrats to all the winners. It was such a pleasant treat reading these stories and poems.

  48. All such wonderful pieces!

  49. It is an exceptionally rare event in which I completely read a page online that has this much content. Add to that, a page with different writers, styles, and story plots. Surely there would have been one creative piece that I bunny hoped over; but I didn’t. In fact, I enjoyed reading each and every judge bio as much as I did the stories and poems.

    Thank you everyone for giving me something to engage in that felt like a great experience and positive use of my time.

  50. These are all marvelous pieces. Congratulations to Norah and Chel. The Judges pieces are also extraordinary.

  51. willowdot21 says:

    Congratulations to Norah Colvin with her winning entry, and to Chelsea Owens who got second and third place, to those mentioned by the judges plus Everyone who entered.
    Well done to everyone at the Carrot Ranch who organised the wonderful event. 💜

  52. […] You can find all the entries, winners and judges picks hereCongratulations and well done everybody. […]

  53. Jim Borden says:

    all of these are so well done; congrats to Norah!

  54. […] the folk over at the Carrot Ranch Literary Community announced the winners of the Carrot Ranch Sue Vincent Rodeo Classic! Please click on the link to go see the announcement and read the top three entries plus the three […]

  55. Marsha says:

    Such great stories, all of you. I think Norah’s is my favorite of the ones I read, but all are so clever. I love that you all are so capable in using the element of surprise. Closure is everything. Charli, thanks for doing this. It brings together a virtual community to life to help and support a real person. If any of you have written a review of Sue’s books, could you send me the link? Especially if you have read one of her books since the Sue Vincent Rodeo Classic. My blog address is

  56. […] Charli Mills Wanda-Lust wasn’t corny at all with a piglet involved. Fun writing, D. Your mind is full of characters and cleverness. […]

  57. dgkaye says:

    Congrats to all the wonderful winners. A wonderful Rodeo it has been. 🙂 xx

  58. Erica/Erika says:

    Congratulations, Norah, to all of the writers, the winners and to you. I have briefly met Sue through all of you, the bloggers/writers and I can see how Sue is well-loved and she has made a positive impact on everyone.❤️ Norah, your gift with words and stories is evident again and I was immediately drawn in.❤️

  59. What a fantastic win by Norah, and massive congratulations also to Chel for 2nd and 3rd, wow, and special mentions for Colleen, Willow and Chengir. I was truly honoured to help with the judging, struck deeply by the theme of home and family. And of course, such a moving and powerful testimony to Sue and how far and wide shines her light <3

    • Thank you for judging, Sherri! It was wonderful to have you around. I was hoping that it was going to be a blast for the judges to see who wrote what!

      • My pleasure, and thank YOU, H, for all you did to pull off this fantastic feat! I loved being a part of it, thank you so much for reaching out to me…and absolutely, it truly was a blast to find out!!

  60. So great These are wonderful

    Laugh Until It annoys someone. They’ll thank you

  61. […] and delighted for my entry to be awarded first prize. You can read about other place getters here and all entries […]

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