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June 3: Flash Fiction Challenge

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As I blindly swing a staff of driftwood beneath my couch, I’m thinking Mause needs a leash for her collection of balls. They scatter to places she can’t reach. She retrieves balls of all shapes and sizes from her walks. We have six tennis balls, eight baseballs, and a soccer ball. Driving to Boston (a Keweenaw ghost town, not the city), I spied something in the road. So did Mause. It was a ball. I drove past and she protested loudly. I’ve tried hiding her balls, limiting playtime, and introducing her to other games. Still, she remains a ball-obsessed seven-month-old pup.

One of Mause’s favorite ball distractions is a puppy play-date. With outdoor activities and vaccinations high among my circle of friends, we get to introduce our pups. Evidently, Covid dogs are a thing. If it feels like many people you know — yourself included — got a dog during the height of the pandemic, it’s true. Shelters in the US have even reported that they are running out of dogs to adopt.

A typical puppy play-date means hooking up with dogs of a similar age and temperament for activities. We don’t have a dog park in our region, yet. On Sundays, my SIL holds “dog church” for friends with dogs to walk the trails he maintains on 19 acres. This is how Mause met Violet. On a leashed walk, dog owners can find out (safely) if their dogs make good friends. Violet is closer to two-years-old but still has a lot of puppy antics in her. She’s a lab mix and not much bigger than Mause. Because they hit it off on date one, we set up date two.

We — the two-leggeds — had to find a place to take the four-leggeds. Hikes or walks are good, but we wanted to see how the girls would do off-leash. I’ve been taking Mause to my favorite beaches, including the dog beach at McLains. Technically, the rules state that dogs must be on-leash, but most owners allow socialized dogs to be under voice command. Violet is a recent rescue dog and Mause is a recent critter so we agreed to test our pooches on recall — the ability to come when called.

Violet and Mause met at the parking lot at McLain State Park near the dog beach. Armed with pockets of dog treats, we walked both pooches on the trail through the shoreline forest. Mause pulled me the entire way, leaping through the sand. I was nervous about letting her free but also realized she was as obsessed with Violet as she is with balls. Unless Violet ran off, Mause would stick around.

Unleashed, both dogs sprinted along the shoreline, waves lapping at their paws. No other dogs (or people) were in sight. We tested our powers of recall, and both ran back to us, ears flopping happily. Together, Violet and Mause discovered games around massive circles of driftwood, how to lap water from waves, and digging in the agate-bearing gravel. Violet’s two-legged mom found a beautiful agate in situ and I found two small ones. Not bad for a doggy play-date.

No longer leashed by school, I feel a bit like a dog that’s roamed the neighborhood and is missing the structure of a leashed life. Not that I want my collar snapped, but I’m aware that it’s up to me to create the structure. I’m still waiting for my diploma and official transcripts to apply for jobs. I’m also still dragging my feet to reengage social media. My desk looms like a doghouse and I know I have to plant my seat in the chair and get back to the platform, future plans, and writing.

I will make dates to run unleashed and return to more disciplined walks. Already, my mind is churning with the balls of a new book to write. I set a hard fast rule that I can’t leap into exploratory practice beyond 99-word stories until a project is complete. Every writer is different and chooses different publishing paths. In my chosen industry, the leash is tighter and the walk must be complete before unleashing to search for the next obsession. I admire the way many indie writers can craft quick works, but I yearn to go deep. Neither way is right or wrong. It’s important to learn the length of your leash or if you agree to work with one. Discovery is my unleashed time and I’m excited for my upcoming play-dates with characters that don’t even have names yet.

In the meantime, I need to clean up the Ranch, fix some barns and back pages. My MFA helped me see that this community is based on mentoring and that’s how it will remain. Carrot Ranch exists to make literary art accessible 99-words at a time. As a place of mentorship, I’d like some feedback from the community. Mentoring at its heart is encouragement. This is a place where you are encouraged to write stories within the 99-word constraint. What encourages you as a writer of literary art? Do you have ideas for Carrot Ranch moving forward? Is there something the Ranch can offer on its pages to help you grow as a writer?

I’m building an education platform that would unfold in phases. It is part of income building for me as an author, something we worked on in our MFA program. I have a good idea of who my target audience is for students and I want to assure you that I see a separation between community and clients. Can someone from the community become a client? Certainly. However, I do not plan to target the community. I bring this up because I don’t want to put up barriers to literary art or make the community feel like there are expectations. There are no obligations to play, share, and connect here.

So, I’m asking you what would be helpful at Carrot Ranch for your growth as a writer that is not part of a cost structure. List of resources? Posts about craft or platform? Pages that would support the community? How? I’m asking you to help me refine our community to live up to its mentoring ideal. Weekly challenges will continue with an annual contest. Are there other events of interest? This is an unleashed time of discovery! Let me know any thoughts, ideas, or feedback by the end of June. You can comment or shoot me an email wordsforpeople(at)gmail(dot)com.

Time to leash up!

June 3, 2021, prompt: In 99 words (no more, no less), write a story being leashed. Is it literal or metaphorical? Who or what is leashed. How does it set the tone? Go where the prompt leads!

Respond by June 8, 2021. 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.

Restraint by Charli Mills

Restraining six leashed sled dogs required brute strength. Max wasn’t the only woman to run the Copper Dog, but she was the only one to hold six dogs and six leads while muscling a single fan-hitch. It’s how the Arctic peoples ran dogs. Not that Max gave a shit. Her natural skepticism heightened by eight years in the Marine Corp didn’t trust her crazy tree-wizard deadbeat dad who claimed Sami blood in their Finnish veins. Why she had come back to the Keweenaw, she couldn’t say. Sometimes you have to poke the bear, her former staff sergeant would say.

🥕🥕🥕


111 Comments

  1. I love that Mause has such an enthusiastic and like-minded playmate. No matter how much they love humans, it’s always a beautiful sight to see our fur babies enjoying the company of their own kind.

    To be unleashed, without external expectations and restraints often results in chaos for our minds, I feel that. The weekly prompts here help keep me grounded in the literary world after each week of chaos, spontaneous adaptations and constant emotional regulation in our household. The outside world sneaks it’s influence in, bit by bit, and helps us stick to a routine, but I always feel like I’m following along behind the kids and their commitments, mindless, trying to keep up. The Ranch brings me back to myself, re-leashes me to my goals and dreams. Grounds me.

    Like every other week, I can’t wait to read the mix of perspectives everyone crafts. As for ideas, I have none to offer the Ranch but I’m looking forward to the coming growth.

    Liked by 5 people

    • Charli Mills says:

      That’s for certain, Rebecca — always fun to watch our fur babies find joy in their own.

      I’m hopeful and happy that you find reconnection with your writing and yourself at the Ranch. Moms have so many responsibilities. I remember those days of clinging to what I could afford of my time to write among all else I had to do. Your writing and your WIP have grown with your commitment to see it through. Like this latest flash. Wow. It feels packed with emotion.

      Liked by 1 person

      • Thanks for your constant support Charli, it has meant so much for me on this writing journey. There is a lot to being a parent to young kids, that’s for sure! But making time for ourselves where we can is crucial to not only ourselves, but the growth of the next generation also. I’m determined to accomplish this, and more. And you’re right, my writing grows stronger each year and with each flash piece here. I look back and see the journey as a wonderful ride so far, I squash down any guilt and remind myself that growth is lifelong and dependent on experiences via failure. The journey ahead will be just as wondrous too.

        Liked by 1 person

      • Charli Mills says:

        As writers, we also know where to put that guilt — into a story! Cheers to our continued growth! May the pain ease with the gains received.

        Like

  2. […] was written for the “unleashed” theme flash fiction challenge, using 99 words only, for the Carrot Ranch Literary Community. I did read that if your dog runs […]

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Doggy matters first. I invite all Ranchers to check out these videos of Australia’s ‘Doggy Day Care Farm Trips’. Warning: These videos can become addictive. Just ask my wife, Sue. 🙂
    https://tinyurl.com/ntrce9kw

    Re the future of this gem that you have created, Charli, here are a couple of suggestions that might help to polish it even further.

    1. Mentoring – Obtaining feedback on your writing efforts from someone (other than Aunt Daisy who thinks everything you write is wonderful) who has writing skills/editing expertise themselves is difficult, unless you are prepared to pay for the privilege. I am currently involved with both Scribophile and Critique Circle, which offer just such an opportunity. Their rules are weirdly arcane until you get the hang of it but essentially you have to give a lot of constructive feedback to others before you get to access some for yourself. One of the downsides is it tends to be mostly budding novelists aiming to be the next Tolkien or Asimov. However I have found it very useful to get honest (and sometimes brutal) feedback and it has improved several of my short stories immensely.
    I think most Carrot Ranchers fit the criteria of good mentors above and, perhaps for a small annual fee, could become members of a give-and-get mentoring group (as long as they don’t go running to Mummy cos that nasty Uncle Doug said he couldn’t make head or tail of what you were on about 🙂 )

    2. Story Length – Obviously the 99-er needs to stay but perhaps the occasional 499-er or 999-er could be introduced to allow fledglings to take wing to the next roost.

    3. Additional info – I think there is a plethora of information and advice out there for writers who want it, most of it (like gardening advice) contradictory of what you last read. I suggest you save your energy for continuing to encourage useful mentoring i.e. beyond the Like button, respectful but honest, suggesting improvement etc.

    My 2c worth. Now what was this week’s topic again? 🙂

    Liked by 11 people

    • Norah says:

      There’s a lot of value in that 2c, Doug.

      Liked by 3 people

    • Wonderful suggestions, Doug. I agree with your suggestions. ❤

      Liked by 3 people

    • I love it here at the Ranch. I love the potential held in each 99 word flash. What we share and present here in 99 words remains our own to grow as we wish, or not, to incorporate into some other piece or project or not. The crafting of that standalone 99 word flash is a skill building exercise, a tool to seed or shape stories. Charli has mentioned TUFF and it has been a big part of the Rodeo. I sometimes play with it just because. I like that the weekly challenges are just that, that one can step in, step up and even step out according to where they are at. “Go where the prompt leads” gives all latitude and a great safe space to play with stories and the ideas that come to them. I do like knowing that something I wrote got read and so comments are always nice to see, and so I also try to read and comment on others’ though I have had some weeks where it just didn’t happen. (life) I don’t see this as the place for offering suggestions to improve a piece that is submitted though. It is all good here and it’s even better when served in the weekly compilation. It’s all good just for joining in and working at going where the prompt leads. I like things the way they are and I wouldn’t want the Ranch to become anything but a fun and relaxed place to hang out for not just us all, but for Charli too. It sounds as if she will offer more in another setting that is along the lines of some of your suggestions.
      But maybe one week we could have a yankee swap of sorts… willing participants get someone else’s 99 word response and rework it as if it were their own, could be done without names on it or with. Or they grow the other’s 99 piece into a 499 word story… Or our own pieces, a TUFF Times week… But all just for fun.

      Liked by 8 people

      • I agree that I love the positive air in this community. I like your suggestion of an opt-in workshopping or expanding the story opportunity.

        Liked by 2 people

      • Charli Mills says:

        Wow, D. you have captured the essence of the mentoring at the Ranch with tools for all, access for all and that growth mindset I hope writers can cultivate here. Doug’s ideas are in line with what I see as coaching in a group setting and I’m encouraged that there would be interest in that. The coaching group would definitely include yankee swaps, lol. It will always be fun and relaxed and 99 words at the Ranch! Mostly because of all of you — the community. Thanks!

        Liked by 3 people

    • denmaniacs4 says:

      Lots of finely hammered-out ideas here…iron for the writer’s soul. D Avery mentions the feedback people give and I know I don’t do that often enough. I do flash for other sites and get to flesh out my thin ideas in longer formats. You can never learn enough but I find, for me, the learning is in the doing, the regular writer, day in and day out, shipping something off, coming close, living the experience of writing and creating and bringing something maybe never quite said into the universe. Back to the French Open…

      Liked by 4 people

    • Charli Mills says:

      Doug, I got weepy, watching the video you shared and this Navy veteran’s evolution to build his dream job. What a doggy daycare! I can understand our wife’s video addiction!

      I appreciate your feedback and feel encouraged because I agree with much of what you say and have developed a concept for a paid membership group. It includes mentoring as you describe and is intended to develop a productive feedback loop among the group and receive one-on-one advice for revision based on individual goals and the submission assignment. The monthly assignment includes a real contest or literary submission which indeed will be expansive beyond the 99-words we do here. I’m motivated by your response to think I’m not far off the mark but wanted to hear from writers. As for the plethora of advice, working within a coaching group, practical advice can be applied in real-time for real results.

      Meanwhile, back at the Ranch, I want to ensure this space remains the feel-good encouraging kind of mentoring that fosters a positive environment to build creative courage. This isn’t the space for critique necessarily, but the space to freely experiment and get honest (positive) responses. Many writers, as Cindy Lauper would say, “just wanna have fun.” Personally, I’m enamored with two things — one, the impact of regularly practicing a constraint like 99 words, and two, the collaborative results of the weekly collection. I want to focus Ranch mentoring on those two aspects. But also keep it engaging and in a growth mindset.

      Thanks for helping me work out in my head the ideas I’ve had with what you’ve shared.

      Prompt? Oh, yes! Pick up the leash!

      Liked by 3 people

  4. […] June 3, 2021, prompt: In 99 words (no more, no less), write a story being leashed. Is it literal or metaphorical? Who or what is leashed. How does it set the tone? Go where the prompt leads! […]

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Hi Charli, this really is a very cute post. I enjoyed reading about your dog’s antics and budding friendship. I enjoy posts about other writers, what they write, how they go about finding time to write, how they market, what there books are about. I would like to meet and learn about more people in the Carrot Ranch community from this perspective.

    Liked by 5 people

  6. I instantly think of a story that would probably be inappropriate…

    Liked by 2 people

  7. Hmm not sure what to do with this one. I’ll probably write one a bit more mainstream later on.

    Being A Good Dog

    “Now sit!” Sara told her. Trixie sat. “Good girl!” Trixie wanted to please her owner. Sara began to put a leash on her. Trixie stood up in protest.

    “You know I don’t like having a leash put on me.” Trixie complained.

    “Bad girl!’ Sara commanded. “Back on all fours like the good dog you are!” Trixie sighed and got back on all fours again, as she was told. This time she sat quietly as Sara put a leash on her. “Remember you’re my bitch.”

    It was a mystery, even to Trixie herself, why she liked being treated this way…

    Liked by 4 people

  8. denmaniacs4 says:

    Delightful post…but I spent the night tossing and turning, ideas flashing like the heavens…and idiocy reigned…

    Breaking the Leash

    “Another one?”

    “Came in last night.”

    “WHAT’S going on? Must be the fourth one this week…”

    “Sixth.”

    “Mother of…what are the presenting symptoms…”

    “He’s…guess you could call it…singing them. Have a listen…”

    “Please Releash me, I won’t go….”

    “Not quite as written. Humperdinck, right? Engelberry?”

    “Englebert…old song, goes back to the 1940’s…”

    “Hmmm…what else?”

    “Pretty obscure…he’s slightly reworked the lyrics to a Ginger Rogers film…he sang “I got a new leash on life, now, lead me by the nose…”

    “Poor devils. Why’re they punishing themselves so?”

    “It’s these damnable flash stories. Everything’s crammed in. Nuts.”

    “At the very leash!”

    http://www.engleson.ca

    Liked by 11 people

  9. […] Carrot Ranch June 3Time to leash up! June 3, 2021, prompt: In 99 words (no more, no less), write a story being leashed. Is it literal or metaphorical? Who or what is leashed. How does it set the tone? Go where the prompt leads! Respond by June 8, 2021. […]

    Liked by 1 person

  10. […] 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 “leash“ […]

    Liked by 2 people

  11. […] If you want to participate,  here’s the link:  CARROT RANCH […]

    Liked by 2 people

  12. Hi Charli,
    Thoughts re: Carrot Ranch & the days ahead.

    I hope you keep the 99-word FF, for a couple of reasons.

    I love to read.
    I think reading your posts, and the Ranch writers’ great diversity of comments and FF stories has given me a better appreciation for the novels I read & for genres that I do not typically read!

    Many of the ebook formats I read have a section “About the author” and Q&A section with the author, and I now know what an author means when they use the words “pantser” and “outliner”!!

    I also have a better appreciation for the writer’s thinking — the ideas behind their story. These are things that changed my reading – one that is more mindful & more enjoyable.

    I love the “safe space” within Carrot Ranch to explore writing — The 99-word FF is a way for me to write for my own enjoyment.

    So, thank you, Charli!

    Saifun

    PS: ? mentoring informally? Maybe more posts like Chel Owens’ posts about “learning to write poetry the fun way” ?

    Liked by 7 people

    • Charli Mills says:

      Saifun, thank you for your feedback! 99-words is the core and as D. Avery pointed out, the tool, we use at Carrot Ranch. I appreciate your experience of using it to understand what you read at a deeper level. Yes, I , too enjoy getting to learn more behind the writing. I think safe space is important to foster creative courage and promote a growth mindset. Thank you!

      Liked by 2 people

  13. […] This was written with the prompt leash provided by the Carrot Ranch June 3 Flash Fiction Challenge. […]

    Liked by 1 person

  14. Attempt #2 (please remove the other one. I had to get that one out of my head so I could write any others): https://jedigirlblog.wordpress.com/2021/06/05/park-life-flash-fiction/

    Liked by 5 people

  15. This week’s contribution, in which a monster unleashes its contempt on a would-be hero dog.

    Most mornings, a yellow monster would consume the small humans and lumber away. As Agent K9 of the Protective Services Division, I was distressingly unable to intervene due to the leash attached to my collar. Later in the day, the monster would return and disgorge the small humans, seemingly unharmed, but clearly tired and hungry. Unleashed, I would leap upon them and implore them to not go near the monster again. One morning, in a supercanine effort, I escaped and pursued this nemesis but it simply winked at me with its red eyes and farted smoke in my face.

    Liked by 8 people

  16. You’ve worked so hard in so many different ways lately, Charli, enjoy being unleashed for as long as you can. I’ll share some thoughts about the future of the ranch at some point down the line, but are probably need to read other people’s ideas before I found mine. As for my 99-word story, is it literal or metaphorical? It’s for the reader to decide:

    Obedience training
    He had her walk to heel initially, on a two-metre leash. As she earned his trust, he gave her leeway, to trot ahead to chase some shiny bauble or pause to sniff a flower …

    https://annegoodwin.weebly.com/annecdotal/womens-historical-oppression-the-pull-of-the-stars-the-spinning-house-affair

    Liked by 6 people

  17. Doing any course requires discipline and you’ve proved it!! Congrats once again, and I’m sure the Universe will manifest your plans…Amen!

    My take on leash: https://abracabadra.blogspot.com/2021/06/life-on-leash.html

    Liked by 4 people

  18. […] this prompt from the Carrot Ranch Literary Community: In 99 words (no more, no less), write a story being […]

    Liked by 1 person

  19. I read the prompt, went and wrote my story, then came back and read your 99 word story “Restraint” and realized that the prompt wasn’t for a “leashed story” but a “leashed” story. As in the story we wrote didn’t have to be a metanarrative. Haha whoops.
    Well, here is my story about a story being leashed by a silly publishing company.

    No Third Wheel Required

    Liked by 5 people

  20. […] From Charli Mills at the Carrot Ranch is this week’s challenge. […]

    Liked by 1 person

  21. […] Carrot Ranch Prompt (06/06/2021):  In 99 words (no more, no less), write a story being leashed. Is it literal or metaphorical? Who or what is leashed. How does it set the tone? Go where the prompt leads! […]

    Liked by 1 person

  22. Liz H says:

    Because “SQUIRREL!”

    Time to Leash the Beast

    April hoisted the printout of her first novel off the counter of the Office Supply Store.
    “Maybe you’d like a box for that?” suggested employee Office Max. “Don’t think I have a bag strong enough!”
    [Continue ]

    Liked by 4 people

  23. mrmacrum says:

    I thought i had my story in on the 5th. I have been MIA for awhile, I must have forgotten the process. Anyway, here’s my effort. I hope to keep coming back.

    “Stay”

    His power over me has its limits. He thinks I can be manipulated by one word from him. I will show him who has the last word. He is not here. I will do as I wish until he comes back. Yeah, I will show him.

    But what do I want to do? So many possibilities, I cannot pick. Every choice looks like trouble. Better just follow his orders; it’s the safe thing to do.

    “Alright Maggie, you stayed. Who’s the good dog? ………. Here’s a treat.”

    I remember now why I listen to him. He is my whole world

    Liked by 5 people

    • Charli Mills says:

      Good to see you! Loosely, submissions are due by the following Tuesdays so I can have time to gather. I’ve been having technical difficulties with the WordPress Editor so I’m late and probably have everyone confused about the timeline! I enjoyed your story.

      Like

  24. Norah Colvin says:

    […] This week at the Carrot Ranch, Charli Mills challenged writers to In 99 words (no more, no less), write a story being leashed. Is it literal or metaphorical? Who or w… […]

    Liked by 1 person

  25. Norah says:

    Here’s mine for this week: https://norahcolvin.com/2021/06/08/6950/

    Unleashed
    It began harmlessly with a mini-slinky party favour in a birthday bag. The sparkles mesmerised Jamie as it tumbled end over end down the driveway or stairs. Soon it became an obsession. Swapping favours at birthday parties, pleading for them in supermarkets, Jamie hoarded them in a can carried everywhere. The obsession progressed from sparkles to numbers as the can filled. Eventually, no more slinkies would fit. As Jamie pressed and squeezed, the recalcitrant can tipped. Slinkies erupted, springing to life. As they danced away, sparkling in the sunlight, Jamie was captivated. Even slinkies need freedom to be themselves.

    Liked by 6 people

  26. suespitulnik says:

    Hi Charli,

    I was wondering how you would adjust to not having such tight time constraints. I think we all know it is a process to fill the same hours in a different manner. How fun to have playdates for Mause that turn into good times for you too.
    I like Carrot Ranch the way it is and am happy to “keep writing” with flash fiction and memoir. I’m sure I will also like whatever new things you decide to present to us. I hesitate to begin writing a longer work because I felt like that process took over my being when I was doing it the first time. I don’t want to be so constrained at the moment but want the option to change my mind. On to the prompt…

    Not an Ordinary Day

    Katie got bad vibes, but she carded and served the group. One female pointed to the picture of Mac’s friend wearing his Medal of Honor and said, “Look, the highest grade dog collar a person can earn in this stupid country.”
    Katie stammered. “Wha…t?”
    “I see military folks as dogs on leashes, totally controlled.”
    Mac appeared from nowhere. “I see you as ignorant, immature, and lacking common sense considering all the dogs in here, except me, served by choice and are off-leash. I suggest you drink up and get out!”
    Experiencing palpable raised hackles, they gulped drinks and skedaddled.

    Note: This is another installment in my ongoing serial. It takes place in the No thanks Needed, a bar owned by Colm McCarthy -a Vietnam veteran. Katie is his granddaughter and chief bartender.

    Liked by 5 people

    • Charli Mills says:

      Hi Sue, yes, we do find ways to fill time, don’t we? It’s chaos right now and I miss the rigor of studies to have something that feels contained and logical. If The No Thanks Needed was closer, I’d be there, hanging out with your serial characters. Or maybe applying for a job. Long works of writing are definitely consuming. I like how you are chunking your story into a series and leaving choice on the table.

      Liked by 1 person

  27. […] for the 99-word flash fiction challenge hosted by Charli Mills at the Carrot Ranch. Click here to join […]

    Liked by 1 person

  28. Norah says:

    Hi Charli,
    Apologies. I read this post on the weekend and thought I’d commented. I didn’t realise until posting my flash today that I hadn’t. I don’t have as much stamina in the evenings any more so I obviously read a few comments, thought I’d done my bit, and collapsed for the night.
    I enjoyed reading your post, which I have just reread to refresh my memory. How cute it is to have puppy play dates and let them find their own friends. I guess there’s no more reason to think any dogs will get along than any children of the same age or adults in the same room. My son and his family adopted a covid puppy. He is very cute – a designer dog – a labradoodle (I think – they tell me, I forget). Today when I called in after a 3-week absence, he barked at me from upstairs until I went up so he could greet me and jump all over me (not as favourite a thing for me as it is for him). Anyway, I complied as I do for any of my grandchildren. 😂 It is so good that Mause has found a friend with a friend of yours. I enjoyed reading about their escapades.
    I hope you are enjoying your time off-leash and establishing your own boundaries and how far you need to extend your leash when you reattach it. I do hope your paperwork arrives soon so that you can start getting things in order. I think previously you may have mentioned some dates later this month. Bring them on – but not before you are ready to start rolling again.
    I enjoyed your flash. Max sounds like a strong woman and not one to pick a fight with. I don’t think she need worry about her dad. Sounds like she can stick up for herself. A bit like another strong woman I know.
    I have no suggestions for improvements to the Ranch. I’m happy to participate in the flash prompts when I can. I seem to have less time for participating as fully in reading and commenting as I’d like but do what I can. I don’t often have sufficient time for additional posts but, once again, read and comment when I can. I feel I have moved from the inner circle of wagons to the circle of tents on the perimeter, but that’s how it needs to be for me at the moment. I’m happy for you to keep doing what you’re doing. Unless you can magic up more time and more energy for me, I can’t think of anything else you could do for my benefit. I get so much out of responding to your prompts and seeing where the 99 words take me.
    Congratulations on a mighty effort. Enjoy the remainder of your off-leash time.

    Liked by 4 people

    • Charli Mills says:

      Hi Norah, and new grand pup! Ha, I agree that puppy jumping is not as enjoyable to two-leggeds as it is to four. Labradoodles are sweet dogs. Mause was an absolute terror today, chewing up two coasters, mail, and a roll of TP. I woke up to a littered hallway, white TP strewed like ticker-tape. Transitions, busy times, life chaos — we all go through seasons. I hope CR can be the kind of place where writers feel comfortable to step up, step back, or just be as needed. Tenting is fine. Unleashed and running free is, too! Thanks for being here! ❤

      Liked by 1 person

      • Norah says:

        Oh my! Mause does like to keep you on your toes. I hope the mail wasn’t an important letter from an agent, editor or publisher. Junk mail and bills – she can have them!
        I know I am welcome whenever and wherever – that’s just one of the things I love about you and the Ranch. You give us as much rope as we need. 💖

        Like

  29. Chel Owens says:

    Charli, you do SO MUCH!

    I love the steps you have taken: the Five at the Mic (let’s do more of that; I LOVE seeing people and hearing them), the guest posts on different subjects, the 99-word prompts, the contests, and your idea to host retreats.

    Granted, I lack the time to participate in many of these and hope to be able to in a few years.

    The one thing I have wanted since first ‘joining’ is to know what the heck I’m doing wrong. I frequently lose contests. Subjective judging aside, perhaps I could get those personal pointers promised from last year? 🙂

    Take that unleashed break as long as you wish. You’re the best!

    Liked by 3 people

    • Charli Mills says:

      Thanks for your feedback, Chel, and *groaning* be assured I’m not allowed to die until I finish those horribly overdue critiques! One positive is that I will be much more effective post-MFA.

      The coaching group I’m putting together will be monthly and fee-based. It includes one craft lesson and three assignments, including a real-live contest or journal entry that we peer critique with a chance for feedback on the revision. The peer critique is to learn and practice productive feedback. Then, there will be a group of writers ready to jump in and help critique Rodeo entries. Critique is one of the most important aspects of an MFA. I chose programs well and learned an excellent model. It’s practice-based, though.

      Thank you for being a part of the varietal of offerings for writers and readers. I even poemed this time! That’s a big step for a not-a-poet.

      I’m unleashed and outside!

      Liked by 1 person

  30. This was a great prompt. I saw it on the last day but it truly inspired me though it was nearly impossible to contain it to 99 words. Here is my result

    When I came into the world I was tied to my mother. The fact she kept me fed chained me to her side. In time, I began to move away and seek my freedom. This was a long road and I was forced to return to her side more often than I care to admit, but the chains were weakening.

    Then in pre-adulthood I gained freedom. Guided by my whims I set out into the world to seek my fortune. Sadly, I am now tied to my job by a Windsor knot around my neck. I want my Mommy

    Liked by 5 people

  31. When Pigs Slide

    “Tellin’ ya Pal, I’m glad ta’ve got a hog ‘stead of a dog. Curly’s been easy ta train. Look’t her perched up here on my hoss with me. Got her on her leash jist in case, leash’s tied ‘roun my waist.”
    “Thing ‘bout Carrot Ranch, Kid, there ain’t never been no lashes nor leashes. Jist free range cre-a-tiv-i-ty. Yep, unleashed characters an’ unfettered writers. Only constraint’s the word count, 99, no more no less.”
    “Aaaagghh!!!!”
    “Dang, Kid, ya shoulda give Curly a longer leash. Pig’s danglin’ like a ham an’ yer lookin’ like the num’ral eight.”
    “Unleash the hog!”

    Liked by 2 people

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