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January 24: Story Challenge in 99-words

What I have always wanted is the Writer’s Life.

Growing up, books transported me and expanded my understanding. The old Conestoga wagon at the ranch near my home, where I climbed to the seat and worked the handbrake, featured in many books I read. Laura Ingalls Wilder and other pioneer stories explained the remnants of the Immigrant Trail that spanned Alpine County, my childhood home. Ian Flemming, Louis L’Amore, Kathleen E. Woodwise, and Julie Garwood introduced me to espionage, western literature, and highland romance.

Yet, I recognized that not all stories were in books. The story of Dot So La Lee and the Washo elders I knew as grandparents to school friends, made me want to read their stories, too. The women I met as “old-timers” or ranch hands in my hometown also had stories and worked jobs that didn’t fit into the trope of the western woman. The omission of stories not found in the mainstream made me want to write. And I did — in wide-rule notebooks.

Really, I wanted to be Indiana Jones. He was an archaeologist who found adventure in the field, taught college, and knew stories. My dream for the writer’s life mixes a vibe of outdoor adventure, learning about new places and people, and telling the forgotten stories from the fringes. It expands more than writing and publishing. For me, it’s a way of life. When I met Indiana Jones on the big screen, I saw a hero who also was a storyteller and a teacher.

As I’ve matured, the dream ebbed and waned. Parenthood was a pause but also a later catalyst that propelled me onto the college path. Employment used my writing skills and taught me the value of storytelling in marketing. I never stopped dreaming or going to historical sites or writing. Every new year for 16 years, I wrote “Live a Writer’s Life” in a journal or on a calendar. When I had to defer writing to parenting or employment, I still looked for adventure outside, let my curiosity roam, and collected stories from life, history, and imagination.

Then, I took those steps to pursue that Writer’s Life and began working on the craft of creative writing, not just filling the well from where I write. I began to crave connection, the deeper I wrote. The ability to connect through stories, caught and told, is in my DNA. It’s in yours, too. Our brains are hardwired for stories — just ask Brene Brown.

“the idea that we’re “wired for story” is more than a catchy phrase. Neuroeconomist Paul Zak has found that hearing a story—a narrative with a beginning, middle, and end—causes our brains to release cortisol and oxytocin. These chemicals trigger the uniquely human abilities to connect, empathize, and make meaning. Story is literally in our DNA.”

~ Brené Brown

Now, I have come to know the deep connections that writers can make as a community. This is the icing on the Writer’s Life cake. Further, I recently fulfilled that Indiana Jones dream to teach college. Last semester was my first; this semester I’m also tutoring 13 learning labs in addition to my English writing class. Two weeks into the semester and I still have the jitters. I love this part of my Writing Life — the people.

In December, I took a break from Carrot Ranch. As a (recently acknowledged) caregiver to a wounded warrior, my life has not gone as planned. In fact, I never would have imagined such a twist. I needed the time to settle into my new support program which gives the stability I’ve not had in years because of my husband’s condition. When I slowed down, I wanted to also reflect on what I’m doing at Carrot Ranch. Undeniably, it is an important feature of my Writer’s Life.

But I also felt lost. This is why I believe in vision work for goal-setting, and knowing what my North Star is. Mine is “Living my best life, writing, teaching, and publishing books.” The first part of the sentence captures the Indiana Jones dream but accepts reality, too. I don’t need exotic locations, I have my backyard. Seeing the first spring crocus is a bit like finding treasure. The second part of the North Star is specific. I feel like I have arrived at a place where the possibilities have dwindled to a focus.

Carrot Ranch has a North Star, too. It’s been: “making literary art accessible 99 words at a time.” During my break, I also found a tighter focus for the Ranch. The mission of Carrot Ranch is “to make the craft of creative writing accessible to those who dare.” It’s wordier but also more specific.

The craft of creative writing.” Early on, I wanted to make literary art something that all people could participate in through readership, discussions, and writing. However, the emphasis is on the writing. I wanted an inclusive term for poets, genre-writers, and storytellers. Creative writing fits the description better than literary art.

Accessibility. I wanted better accessibility to the greater writing community. I wanted accessibility for writing stories than anyone could do. I wanted accessibility to improve my craft. I wanted accessibility for readers who feel too busy to read. 99-word stories provide that accessibility for me, you, and anyone seeking their own Writer’s Life.

“To those who dare.” Yes, this is totally a nod to Brene Brown. Over the break, I had an epiphany that I could not teach every student or writer who comes to me, nor could I make anyone feel safe in their own being. What I mean, is that as hard as I try to create safe spaces in my classrooms and community, I will still have students fail and writers who won’t try to overcome their fears. I’m not responsible for those hard circumstances or choices. Thus, it’s important to me to highlight and encourage “those who dare” to write creatively, flawed, ever-improving craft.

“When I see people stand fully in their truth, or when I see someone fall down, get back up, and say, ‘Damn. That really hurt, but this is important to me and I’m going in again’—my gut reaction is, ‘What a badass.’

~ Brené Brown

It feels good to be back among the badass writers who dare to stand in their truth and write their stories. No matter what your path, the hardships you face, your hopes and dreams, you are here. You are willing to join in with other writers to access creative writing. Weekly. 99 words at a time, no more, no less.

Now that I’m back, let me unfurl the changes. It might feel awkward, it might be frustrating, or it might feel like a relief, but I’m only accepting 99-word stories in the form. If you blog, include your link to your story, and please link to the Collection, not to the Challenge.

My reasoning is that I was trying to be too many things to all writers. Multiple posting of stories, which I encouraged so people had different ways to share, became redundant. I want to encourage people to read your stories, of course! But let’s focus on the Collection. Please do not post stories in the comments, or share links on the Challenge Post. Share your links to the collection, this is more favorable to you as a writer.

Then, when I publish the collection, I will encourage readers to follow blogs of authors they discover and like. I will encourage bloggers to visit the sites of other bloggers. I will visit all the blogs where you posted your story. If you want to say why you like a particular story(ies), comment on the Collection.

The form message indicates “if your story is accepted.” It’s to protect Carrot Ranch from the scammers of the world. The occasional Nanjo gets through. Also, I may have students submitting. It’s also a nod to the future. If we grow, there will be a limit to what I can curate within a week. At that point, I might consider a blog hop through a linkup program. But we are not at that point.

I don’t expect us to adjust smoothly. I will give gentle nudges to anyone who misunderstands or doesn’t read the post and changes. It’s okay. It’s a needed shift and I welcome your feedback throughout the transition. In all the years we have been writing 99-word stories, no one has ever published only in the comments. That was supposed to be an option for those without blogs, but I have discovered that if a writer is not a blogger, they are more likely to feel uncomfortable posting anything in the comments.

However, if you write (or respond) to one another in story, poetry, or in character (like Kid and Pal), that’s great! I’m trying to reduce the redundancy of our shared stories and emphasize the Collection.

Another change is the dates. With my schedule at Finlandia University, I realized I needed to develop a better workflow for me at the Ranch. I can work on posts over the weekend. Challenge posts will publish every Monday and the Collection on the following Wednesday. I need the extra days to put together the collaborative works of those who submit their stories.

Also, I’m not posting a story either until the collection!

Other programming at Carrot Ranch will remain on hiatus until we have further plans to share with you. The website will be getting an overhaul and plans are building up from the soil. Our soil is the community and the writing. I will share more in March. For now, let’s write!

January 24, 2022, prompt: In 99 words (no more, no less), write a story about “the wish I made.” Whose wish is it and how does it fit into the story? What kind of wish? Go where the prompt leads!

  1. Submit by January 29, 2022. If you want to be published in the weekly collection, please use the form. The Collection publishes on the Wednesday following the next Challenge. Rules & Guidelines.
  2. Carrot Ranch only accepts stories through the form below. Accepted stories will be published in a weekly collection. Writers retain all copyrights.
  3. Your blog link will be included in your title when the Collection publishes.
  4. Please include your byline which is the name or persona you attribute to your writing.
  5. Please include the hashtag #99Word Stories when sharing either the Challenge or Collection posts in social media.

Submissions are now closed. Find our latest challenge to enter.


  1. Ritu says:

    It’s great you have taken time to rethink your way of doing things to suit you, and make it more accessible, Charli.
    So, not to link on the form, above, but wait for a Weds post to share the link?
    (Just clarifying!)

    • I thought it meant to post a link on the form but on your blogs to link to the collection not the challenge. (Might be a challenge to go back and insert that link.)

      • Ritu says:

        Hmm! I’m not sure, Anne!

      • I’m sure all will be revealed in due course,

      • Charli Mills says:

        Anne and Ritu,

        I now see what Anne is getting at in regards to the delay in linking. Yes, I do mean that I would prefer you link to the Collection rather than the Challenge. I wasn’t thinking about you having to go back to your post and insert a link.

        If you want to link to the challenge, do so when you post your story (but I won’t be posting pingbacks). When I publish the Collection, I will include your link. It will bring you, readers, just not at the time of the Challenge. On social media (not in your previous response to the challenge post) you can promote that you are included in this collection.

        I’d like to have writers interact over the stories when all the stories are published. And I would like to talk more about craft during the challenges. It’s messy right now but I’m open to suggestions.

    • Gloria says:

      I’m thinking that we submit via the form, and adding to the collection when it’s published…which means going back to our post to insert the link. I may be wrong Ritu.

      • Ritu says:

        I’m glad others are more clued up than me!

      • Charli Mills says:

        Gloria, as I mentioned to Ritu and Sue, I wasn’t thinking about writers with blogs having to change links. What I want is the link to your story in a post or a blog (in the form). You can link to the Challenge, but I won’t return the blog favor until I link to your post in the Collection.

    • I think Anne has it. I have always posted my response to the challenge whenever it’s ready (and sometimes when it’s not ready) with a link to the challenge post. Henceforth I will hold off on linking (to the Wednesday collection posts) or maybe I’ll even hold off on posting my response until the collection is out.
      I think this is going to make the collection much more of a community gathering of readers and writers.

      • Ritu says:

        Thank you!

      • Charli Mills says:

        Thanks for getting the bigger picture, D.! Yes, wanting to shift the discussion of stories to the Collection and involve readers, too.

        The details, I’m dealing with. You can go ahead and linkback to the Challenge, but I won’t post the linkback. I’ll do that when I post the collection.

    • Norah says:

      I agree with Anne and Gloria, Ritu.
      This is my (slightly expanded) take. I take responsibility if any of what I suggest is incorrect.
      If you don’t want to post until you get the link to the collection, you can still get a permalink (for many blogs) once a draft is saved.
      That is:
      1. Save a draft of your post before you submit the form.
      2. Add the permalink to the form.
      3. When the collection is published, get the link to add to your post.
      4. Publish your post.
      Of course, you could post before the collection is published if you don’t want to delay publishing your story. You’d just have to go back and get the link when the collection is published, but by then, maybe most of your readers would have read your post and not return for the link.

      • Yeah, I think that’s right, but I don’t think those links work for me (when I’ve tried in the past). Unlike wordpress, I just get a draft link which is different.

      • Norah says:

        I guess we just wait to see what develops. You’ve done well to get yours done so soon. I haven’t started yet. Busy week!

      • Ritu says:

        Thank you, Nirag@

      • Ritu says:


      • Norah says:

        I quite liked the Nirag. When we were ten pin bowling, years ago, someone (might have been me) entered my name as Norag. I became known as Norag, Queen of Bowling. I wonder what Nirag could be queen of. 😅

      • Ritu says:

        Ha ha! Nirag can be your Indian name!

      • Norah says:


      • I think that’s right. My two concerns:
        1. I always like to give my readers the opportunity to go to the prompt source and participate. If the link is not included until the collection, that leaves them out. However, I do acknowledge that participation like that rarely happens.
        2. I find that IF (it’s a big if) other Carrot Ranchers visit my blog, they usually only read the 99 word post for the week. The remaining content of my blog does not seem to be attracting their attention. So, if a generic blog link is added, they might never make it to any of my posts. *shrug* I guess I kind of answered my own question. It helped me see the vision behind this more clearly – discovering blogs, not just the stories.

      • Norah says:

        Hm. That’s interesting, Sam.
        I wonder if many go to the prompt from any of our posts to participate. I guess Charli would know that, or we could look at our outbound links. I know initially some of my followers participated after reading my responses. You’re right about the effect of only linking after the collection is published.
        I think you may also be right about reading the story and nothing else but I’m pretty sure some of my followers followed after reading the stories. I also have followed some of the bloggers whose stories I have enjoyed, but usually only if I feel their blog aligns with my interests. I do ‘try’ to read as many stories from the collection as possible and visit and comment on the writers’ blogs when time permits. I think that’s more personal. Therefore, I like the links in the collection. 🙂

      • Goldie, I wondered about that too, but I bet leading back to the collection will catch as many writers as linking to the challenge. If someone is interested in participating they will figure it out from there. I think the collection post will be a good place to be gathered and hopefully, with all the linked stories there, people will socialize and mingle, ie, visit other blogs as well as commenting there. Either way it is always a fine showcase of writing.

      • Norah says:

        It is always a fine collection and I ‘try’ to read as many as I can. I tend to read the collection of stories rather than comments on the challenge post.

      • Charli Mills says:

        This is a great bit of technology support, Norah. It’s fine to post a response before the collection, but I won’t be linking to those posts until then. Writers have choices with your suggestion, too. Thank you.

      • Norah says:

        As long as it made sense as an option. You’ve certainly put a lot of thought into the changes. I do hope they make it easier for you to manage.

    • Charli Mills says:

      Well, I’ll rethink and tweak it until I have something that works efficiently. Thanks, Ritu.

      When you fill out the form, list the link to your story if you posted it on your blog. When the collection posts, it will be linked. If you are referencing the challenge, you can link your post, but I won’t be posting pingbacks. But I will promote your post with a linkback a week later.

      Do you have suggestions?

      • Ritu says:

        That makes sense, Charli, and we should link back to the collection post, too, if possible?

      • Charli Mills says:

        You don’t need to post to the collection. I just want to make sure that bloggers understand that when you link to the Challenge, you will not receive a return link to that post until the Collection.

  2. An important epiphany, Charli:

    “I could not teach every student or writer who comes to me, nor could I make anyone feel safe in their own being.”

    Lovely to have you back and great that we got this at the beginning of the UK Monday not the end of the US!

    I think I understand the changes, seems a good move to prompt us to discuss the collection more, but can you clarify re the submission form:

    should we link to the specific post with the story or to our blogs in general?

    (also, in the prompt, you’re still writing about tools which might relate to the previous prompt).

  3. ellenbest24 says:

    I am a little confused … or am I? Do we read the challenge on Mondays (prompt) write it on a post to go live before the Wednesday. And put it on,/in this form to be considered for the collection? I am sorry if It seems silly to ask for clarification but the link takes me to the old rules …

  4. beth says:

    i’m glad you have taken the time to reset and create what now works for you, life is fluid and it’s important to flow with it

  5. Norah says:

    It’s lovely to have you back, Charli. You’ve obviously done some deep thinking in the time you’ve been away. I hope the changes work for you. We’ll make them work for us. If they don’t – nothing has to stay the same forever.
    I love your Brene Brown quotes. I think you share equally insightful quotes of your own.
    Enjoy all the aspects of your writerly life. It’s good to know that all the facets count and add to the fullness of that life.

  6. Thank you for putting so much time and effort into revamping this. I absolutely love your dates change because that allows me to publish my response within the time constraints of the challenge (on Thursdays).

    I’m not really sure on how linking to the collection will work. A great idea, but not sure about people going back to their posts retroactively and linking. I will play with it.

    • Charli Mills says:

      Thank you, Goldie. I’ll post a clearer summary next week. I now see where the confusion is. Change and confusion like to hang out. Have patience with me!

      • You’ve been the Queen of Patience when it comes to us. We can only try to repay that.

      • Charli Mills says:

        Today, I had a Learning Lab (I’m also tutoring writing at the university) and I sat next to a wall full of Brene Brown quotes. One stood out to me: “Clarity is kindness.” Ah…I’ll be kinder next week!

  7. Hi, Charli. Gee, the new posting rules have gone well. I’m sure it’s just me but can I see a ‘Posting on Carrot Ranch for Dummies’ version? 🙂

    • Jules says:

      I remember taking one of my children to a class on directions. It was how to make a peanut butter sandwich. There was the instructor at the table and a loaf of bread and a speading knife, a plate and the jar of peanut butter. He asked; What should I do first. And there were giggling shouts of; “Put the peanut butter on the bread!” So the instructor took the jar of peanut butter and slammed it on top of the unopened loaf of bread. …I’m going to need that “Posting on Carrot Ranch for Dummies” as well.

    • Charli Mills says:

      I’m working on the manuscript now!

  8. ellenbest24 says:

    I added my story to the form above, … but forgot the title. > sigh < 🤔 Can you add it Charli?
    Thank Goodness all wishes don't come true. The wish I made #99wordstories

  9. Jules says:

    What I read is that the post challenge site is not for conversation of the stories. It is the linking things that has me very confused.

    I always posted my piece (when I write it) and used the title as the link to my post. I can see not posting the whole story… in this prompt post… but I don’t know how to get a permallink or to do that and not have the post appear on my site unless I mark the post private and then have to remember to unmark it. Or schedual it – but then the permalink won’t be right until it is posted (if schedualed). I am techincally challenged so if anyone wants to direct me with a spacific email in those directions – please do. I don’t do any other social media so # isn’t going to come into play for me.

    WordPress is also rolling out some changes according to Colleen:
    “On January 25, 2022, WordPress is due to update to the 5.9 release of the editor. Read more: What’s New in WordPress 5.9. As usual, here at Word Craft Poetry, we will roll with the punches. Just be aware that things are going to get interesting.”

    I’m still working in the Classic Editor. So I’m going to be totally lost. Not all change is good. But I have always stated that the person running their blog has the option to run it anyway that is best for them.

    I’m thinking that if I submit a story in the form – that my blog link will show up, but not the direct link to the story? Since if I write it and can’t post it on my blog… or can I?

    Any help in directions from anyone here, or in a private email would be appriciated. ~ Jules

    • Jules says:

      Oh I have another question… If you aren’t on WP what do you do??
      With all the changes WP is making… I’m not sure how long I’ll be blogging with it. Seems to me there’s a lot more than just a date change.

      • Ride it out Jules. I wasn’t too happy with the last WP changes, but once I got in there and just used it I got it figured out and even saw that some of those changes were an improvement. And I am not very good with these machines. We just need to be patient and resilient for the first couple rounds. Honestly, WP seems the cleanest blog type out there, imo.

      • Jules says:

        I do like WP. But since I haven’t even rolled out with the last change… I’m not sure how I’m going to rollout with the new one… which according to what I read if you don’t have a new ‘blog’ that will accept ‘The Change’ you aren’t going to be able to use anyway.

        “WordPress 5.9 was initially scheduled for release on December 14, 2021. Due to several open issues, the final release has been delayed and is now scheduled for January 25, 2022.

        If you’re wondering what’s new in WordPress 5.9, the short answer is Full Site Editing (FSE).

        And indeed, many 5.9 features are only available if you’re using a theme supporting Full Site Editing, such as the brand new default theme, Twenty Twenty-Two.”

        It will be an interesting ride. If I can hold on/out I will. If not… life gives us options.

    • Jules, after Charli posts the recap on the Wednesday, you can copy the https:// address (in your browser) of your published post in the comments of her post if you want folks to stop by and say hello. Let’s say you decide not to blog anymore. Then, you would still submit your flash fiction on the submission form of her challenge post. Hang in there though, let’s wait and see what WP does first. <3

      • Jules says:

        It just seems like more work for the writer…
        While I enjoyed the recap, I liked picking and choosing who I visited. I know I can still do that… As you say it is a wait and see issue.

        I may just continue to post poems in the prompt post… From what I read Charli was going to link the recap pieces. But I could be wrong. Though I’m not sure how that would occur accept that the blog would be the link, not the post/piece that was prompted. Too much change all at once.

        One day at a time, that’s all I can do. 🙂

    • Charli Mills says:

      Jules, I want to foster more conversation here about the craft of writing and shift conversations about stories, individually, collectively, or comparatively to the Collection. Those who blog can still have their links to their individual posts, but they won’t be shared until the Collection.

      Anyone can enter. Even those who have no websites. That’s why I’m asking everyone to use the form.

      • Jules says:

        I’ll read through everything again. It was, to me just a tad confusing. But I wasn’t the only one…
        Some change is good. Some change is just different. And other change just jigglies in your pocket.

        I’m still not getting though how to use the form and later add the link to the post. Does that mean that we just add the blog site and not post the piece on the blog until you post the collection?

        I thought WP was going to blow up with another big ‘change’ but I’m still able to post to my site as I have (so far) – so at least I can manage that 🙂

        (((Hugs to you))) I’ve been a caregiver directly and sort of indirectly for years. For my MIL (she should rest) and my neighbor (he should rest). He made it to 98 last year.

        My new chapter is dealing with a retired hubby. There’s always some change. I like the longer days, but the bitter cold this winter … Brrr. Keep warm and keep teaching, writing and learning.

      • Charli Mills says:

        You don’t have to add a link later to the form. You can still post your story on your blog before the Collection publishes and share that link in the form. And you don’t have to link to the collection. But I won’t link to any individual posts until the Collection publishes.

        Enjoy your new chapter. It’s an adjustment but change is good. It’s all a part of a growth mindset that we never outgrow.

  10. Back in the Saddle

    “A hiatus!”
    “Whoa Kid, thet’s a mighty strong word. Asides, how kin ya hate us? Ain’tcha glad we’re back ridin the range tagether?”
    “I don’t hate us, Pal. Hiatus— we’re still on break.”
    “No we ain’t Kid. Jist back ta basics fer a while.”
    “Well, I don’t like change, Pal.”
    “Nuthin much’s changed cept the day a Shorty’s postings. I’m cited bout jist enjoyin the Ranch an the ranch hands, 99words at a time. Kinda like a wish I made come true.”
    “Yer wishin us outta a job!”
    “They’s plenny ta do, Kid.”
    “Wish ya’d quit yer whining.”

    • Jules says:

      I am not a fan of change. I know it’s gonna happen wether or not I accept it. So it’s no use in me whining. I wonder if Charli has looked into the linking system that other blogs on WP use like at Colleen’s place her weekly round up?

      So I’m gonna make a guess here and say that ‘Back in the Saddle’ by Kid and Pal ain’t gonna end up in the ‘Round up’?

      • “Reckon we’re jist a couple a ranch hands hangin out, chattin. So, nope, no story here. Reckon mebbe this first roundup might have some bumps fer folks but if’n we jist ride it out we’ll figure it out. Right Kid?”
        “Reckon so Pal.”

      • Jules says:

        Seems to me the ‘New’ instructions is like wrangling ‘Jello’ with a lariat…

        I like Doug’s idea of – maybe creating an example (CR: Posting Instructions for Dumbies) page of step by step instructions with examples for us folks who are likely to get tangled up like that yarn ball a kitten unravels.

        All I see is something similar to a docs medical perscription. A bit daunting if you don’t know the ‘code’ and forget ‘their’ signature – that’s just a lost cause to figure out unless you know who the doc is.

    • Charli Mills says:

      Can’t hate on any either of you, Kid and Pal. You are home, to stay. Just shifting gears to move forward.

  11. Jules says:

    Yes I am a writer. But I am first and foremost a poet. This is a 99 word poem.
    This is for the comment section only – which if I read correctly is still allowed.


    The more one wishes for things to stay the same
    The more they change, is comfort still possible
    However the clock continues to tick
    Just as the flow of life is pumped through one’s heart.

    Change can be scary; the winter leaving slick ice
    The gray of the morning sky hidding
    That patch on the front step, and then the wrong shoe
    Doesn’t grip and you tumble, hard, old bones cry out

    Everyday age increases, birthdays and anniversaries pass
    Some light candles on cakes, others light candles to remember
    Will someone please illuminate this new technical world for me?

    © JP/dh

    • Charli Mills says:

      Certainly, Jules — if you want to respond and engage with creativity that’s fine. Kid and Pal make all kinds of K&P comments and it’s a fun way to interact. Yes, no one likes change, but you know what I realized? I hadn’t changed things here but kept adding on until it occurred to me I was avoiding change. It will get clearer. I can’t write the perfect set of guidelines for something I haven’t yet experienced so have patience with me.

      • Jules says:

        I look forward to the little light bulb above my head illuminating with clarity. Take your time – As others have stated. Things will work out. I might attempt a story yet. But I’ve been a little distracted as I’m making some blankets for the arrival of some new great nephews.


      • Charli Mills says:

        I got your story, Jules. Big hugs to you and that new arrival to your family. What an exciting time!

  12. denmaniacs4 says:

    Change! It always gets me here (pointing to my chest.) Not much else to say about it. Would you believe that the biggest change for me in 2022 (prior to this adjustment by Charli from Friday to Monday-which actually has gone from late Thursday to late Sunday-time zone shenanigans-) is that our Garbage Pickup is not on Thursdays rather than the traditional Wednesdays?
    So much to cope with…

    A Dollar Short

    He was more than a day late.
    Decades late more like it.
    He’d smile if it didn’t hurt so much.
    He’d run into her once back in the eighties.
    On a ferry to the mainland.
    Said hello, made awkward chatter, where you living? Oh, that’s interesting.
    The ferry was crowded that day.
    She had companions.
    So did he.
    He’d gone back to his seat kicking himself, wishing he could have made it easier for her.
    And for him.
    She’d let him slip away.
    Teenage love!
    It still slashes your wrist, your heart.
    He made a note to send flowers.

  13. So, my understanding is that we DO NOT post our stories in the comments… only in the submission form. [“Please do not post stories in the comments, or share links on the Challenge Post. Share your links to the collection, this is more favorable to you as a writer.”] I’m going to write my post as a draft, copy and paste it inside the submission form. On Saturday, I’ll have my post go live. When the collection post goes live on the Wednesday, I can link my published post to Charli’s post, along with comments on everyone else’s blogs. <3

  14. Sounds like a good plan Charli. Hopefully that will give you the time you need.

  15. If wishes were horses, beggars would ride. We’ll figure it out, Charli, and we’ll all ride again even if some of us ( pointing at myself) may fall off the horse. Then we will get back on the horse, and give it another go. Personally, I think this makes sense. I think I will like reading them as surprises as opposed to the idea I have already read it.

    Good luck everyone. I can’t wait to give this new format a go. ~nan

    PS. I love change; if it weren’t for change, I’d never have money as a kid. 😉

    • Charli Mills says:

      Thanks, Nan! And if you fall off the horse then you know you are in the arena daring greatly. Falls will happen. I think we’ll get this sussed out and everyone will begin to see the magic in the collaboration and find time to visit blogs after it posts. Ha! Change is often found in couches (from my childhood experience).

      • Change scares me less than horses, Charli. They are big!

        Actually I like the extra time between the prompt and the time to get it in. For whatever reason, I always scrambled to get it in before Tuesday at midnight. Now I have until Saturday evening when I have another submission due.

        I am excited for the change. It may be the same time-frame, but it seems better for me. Once I get it in my head what I want to write, I can write. Speaking of which, I need to get moving and start writing.

      • Charli Mills says:

        I’m already liking the rhythm of this change, Nan! Glad it gives you more time, too.

      • By the way, Charli, I meant to mention that Kathleen Woodiwiss is one of my favorite authors. Although I have read and enjoyed her novels (she is the one that got me hooked on romances, particularly historical romance with her The Wolf and the Dove), my favorites are A Rose in Winter and Shanna. ~nan

  16. Charli, I like how you are changing paths as your life unfolds. I pray that you get the courage to continue to saddle up and yee-haw at whatever comes your way. You’re a brave and a kind soul. Hugs!

  17. Liz H says:

    (Stands back, arms crossed across her chest)
    Change is hard to explain. Mebbe I just sit out the first round out, let a few bulls get ridden, a few riders get tossed?
    Let those rodeo clowns run distraction & cleanup, while I eat my beans & watch how it’s done? Then mosey on in, soon as the coast is clear?
    (Starts to pace back & forth, boot heels kicking up dust)
    Mebbe somethin’ tickles my durned brain pan, and I just write 99, post to my blog, and then to the form…heck, put a link to my post right there since there ‘s a place for it right on the form!
    New folks might have to wait a week to jump on the next challenge, but that way Charli don’t haftuh moderate/not-approve links to the challenge. Just to th’ results!
    (Throws her hat down on the ground & dances around the rim. Then stops suddenly!)
    And no, not sharin’ my beans with that Pepe Legume. He can just stay at the Saloon for a spell.
    (Looks up, a little wistful)
    I could use a slug o’ that chilled Chipotle Carrot Juice, though.

    • This is brilliant. As is the idea of chipotle carrot juice.
      Yep, mebbe mistakes’ll git made. But as Pepe LeGume always says, ta air is human. An Pepe, like you, is a fine human bean.

    • Jules says:

      I’m thinking things would be easier for the writers and Charli if she just used a Mr. Linky. Then all Charli would have to do is pick a few favorites and say why when she posts her own piece to the prompt. ‘Cause everyone would in the linky thing and they could visit and blog hop to their hearts content. No forms. Charli said she’s gonna visit everyone at their blogs anyway – then she can just copy/cut/paste her favorites since she may not be posting everyone anyway.

      If we can’t link to the prompt post, I could live with that. I’d just say what the prompt was and where it could be found with a date if she doesn’t want a link to the post prompt. I do like the extra time though to make ’rounds. But I’m still not clear on this submit but don’t post and add a link later stuff. So I think I might sit the first round out. Seein’ as I snuck in a poem already. That poem was my 405 piece for Carrot Ranch.

      (*sigh* At least the WP change 5.9 hasn’t yet afflicted or affected me none…so far. So I’m still in the game-so-to-speak.)

    • Charli Mills says:

      I see a future with you hanging out with Kid and Pal! I enjoyed the western ply, Liz.

  18. I just posted using the form, to be included in the Collection (with the fervent wish that this shall be so). 🙂

  19. Hi Charli. We’ve not met and I’m new to the Carrot Ranch. I still getting my bearings but wanted to join the 99-word fun. You should find my form submitted with my first offering. I hope I’ve executed the new instructions correctly and look forward to learning lots from spending time with y’all. Thanks for hosting this herd of cats.

  20. TanGental says:

    I think I will:
    – write a 99 word piece in response to the challenge (issued on Mondays and my 99 piece needs to be in the form by the Wednesday – two days)
    – include it in the form contained within the challenge post as before
    – wait for the collection post (issued on Saturdays)
    – post my 99 words with a link to the collection post
    – repeat (that may just be Kid’s beans)
    In the past, I’d post the 99 words here (now discouraged) and post on my blog as soon as I’d submitted the 99 words on the form, with a link to this (the challenge) post, now also discouraged (when I write ‘discouraged’, I’m being English and mean, DO NOT LINK).
    This may be write and if so maybe the sort of thing Doug is looking for. All and any errors are entirely my own.

    • Norah says:

      Hi Geoff,
      You begin right.
      Prompt is posted Monday. (all times are US Charli times)
      Submission via the form is required by Saturday.
      The collection is posted on the following Wednesday (approx 10 days from the prompt post – I can’t count to be precise 😅 – and 2 days after the next prompt).
      You may post on your blog at any time but not provide your response or a link in the comments on the challenge post. Charli will link to your story post in the collection post.
      You may or may not link to either of Charli’s posts, as you wish.
      The stories can be read in the collection. If you wish to visit the story’s author to comment or read more material, you will be able to follow the link provided by Charli. Alternatively, you can comment on stories in the comment section of the collection post.
      All errors due to misunderstanding are my own.

    • Charli Mills says:

      Be not discouraged, Geof We don’t need to do all that in triplicate anymore. Thank you for helping me out!

  21. Liz H says:

    Microflash created and posted on my site, and submitted for the collection via the form on this page. The optional link included on the form was a link to my specific post. So pretty much as I’ve always done in the past.
    Will miss leisurely reading & commenting on the original CR prompt post, & am thinking I might lose comments/visits on my own site. Charli might lose some publicity bc of less immediate access to the prompt via my blogsite. But it might free up much-needed admin time for her.
    All things change, and the focus on finished results may breathe new vitality into all of our work. Fingers doubly crossed!

    • Jules says:

      That’s one solution. I submitted a story, but I’m not posting on my blog until after the collection is up. We’ll see what happens. 🙂

      We’ll ease into the new (even if some of us are resistant, we are after all resilient writers!!). 😀

      • I submitted one, JP. I don’t quite understand the link thing either, that is, whether it should be in the submit area or above in the URL section. I guess we will all see when it is posted on Wednesday February 2, which is Groundhog’s Day (like the movie. maybe, we will keeping doing it until we get it right??). Then I will post my story on my blog after the Collection comes out.

        For me, lately, I’ve had my issues with copying the text so I have been re-typing each story. It’s my issue with my new computer and my lack of coordination. I had Rob show me once again, and I hope I can do it the next time. If I can get it copied, the pasting part is easy.

        Take care, my friend. ~nan

      • Jules says:

        Some one told me (at leastt it works for me) Control (Ctrl key) C is Copy (the highlighted text) and Control (Ctrl) V is Vomit… I always have ‘copy’ I don’t just ‘cut and paste’ – I don’t want to hit the wrong key and loose anything.

        Hope you are staying warm. We’ve had small snow mixed with freezing rain most of the day!

    • Charli Mills says:

      Liz, I hope you shift to leisurely reading and commenting in a new way on the Collection. As long as your story is linked and bloggers are engaging one another, you should have similar traffic. Let it breathe new vitality into us all and our work!

  22. Welcome back, Charli.

    Thank you for informing us of the changes. I fully understand not only what you’re doing but why you’re making them. Changes are good: otherwise, things can become stagnant and stale, so I welcome what you’re doing. And if it’s helping you, then that’s something I’m glad of and embrace. There may be teething problems, but together we’ll get through them.

    • Charli Mills says:

      Hi Hugh, and thank you for understanding! I will try less explaining next week and be more succinct. Teething problems! Yes, I can chew that.

  23. Jules says:

    OK this is what I did. I did submit a story. I put my blog link in the form – not the post link. And I’m not going to post the story until after the collection is put up – I will state where the prompt came from, but not the link since the prompt will be closed by then.

    Once I post the story on the blog, then post the link in the collection site. And if it doesn’t make the collection… do I also put my to the post link in the collection comments? Not sure. But it will be posted on the blog then anyway. That’s my solution.

  24. Happy New Year, everyone! And welcome back, Charli – it sounds like you’re doing just fine 🙂

    Word of warning: my story may appear twice (by accident – my link timed out so I’m not sure if I made it the first time!). Apologies if so.

    Are we still allowed to use the Challenge pictures on our blogs? I already have, since we were okay to do so before, but I can take it off if this has changed…?

    • Charli Mills says:

      Hi E.A., and happy New Year to you, too! I select the second story submitted, as the most current or corrected copy. That’s okay. Even if it’s an unintentional entry, I still select the second one.

      Yes! You can use the Challenge photo and link to the Challenge. I wasn’t thinking through the process and have clarified in the next post.

  25. Jennie says:

    Hi Charli! I so enjoyed this post about your pathway and where you are today. What a terrific journey. Strength and knowledge jumps out from your experiences and time to think. Brene Brown would be proud, and Indiana Jones would be, too. My question is, do you read aloud to your college students? Good writers are readers, and good readers have heard many books and stories read aloud. I have had close conversations with department heads and high school senior English teachers. They are frustrated at the lack of reading with their students. Interestingly, they do what I do in my preschool class – read aloud. I can’t help but feel that you the writer, teaching writing, would relish reading aloud to ignite the fire of writing in your students.

    • Charli Mills says:

      Yes! I’m so glad you said this to me, Jennie because I realized last semester that students don’t read willingly. And this is college. So, I purchased Audible and downloaded books in my class and decided I was going to take a cue from Mrs. Couch, my third-grade teacher who opened my mind when she read to us every day. Every Friday, we listen to our authors read. We also read 99-word stories each week and poetry from An American Sunrise. Thank you for validating what I hope will be a way to engage my students with books.

      • Jennie says:

        Mrs. Couch would be thrilled! I certainly am. May I make a suggestion? If YOU do the reading aloud, then there are opportunities for the students to ask questions and comment. You can pause, stop, emphasize, etc. And, a story doesn’t have to be read in one class session. There is something beautiful about stories and chapters unfolding each day. The head of the English department at Lawrence Academy here in Groton turns the lights off when she reads to her seniors. She is frustrated that her students don’t read on their own, same as you. I would love to be a fly on the wall, listening to you read “The Poet’s Dog” to your class. I wish my high school and college teachers had read to me. Please keep me posted on how it goes. Please. I care.

  26. Hmmm… visiting this page as I just submitted my entry and I noticed your (Charli’s) reply to my reply and D.Avery’s, too yet… I never received a notification. This is WEIRD! I wonder if anyone else is having these issues…

  27. M Jay Dixit says:

    Hello Charli, thanks for hosting! It’s my first time here, I’ve submitted my story via form. I’ll link my blog post to the collection post when it’s up. I hope you’ll enjoy the story. 🙂 ~ Jay

    • Charli Mills says:

      Hello Jay, and Welcome to Carrot Ranch! You can post your story on your blog anytime, and link to this Challenge (or the Collection) as works best for you. I didn’t think it through with complicating links. As long as you give me a link in the form, I will link your story. Thanks!

    • suespitulnik says:

      Welcome, Jay, Nice to have you at the Ranch.

  28. Welcome back! I’ve missed you and the Ranch.

    Reading this: “I don’t need exotic locations, I have my backyard.” made me feel good because I wonder from time to time if I’m the only person who thinks like that. When I numb my brain on social media I find a lot of people doing all sorts of things ‘out there’ and I start to wonder and doubt about what’s so wrong with what’s ‘in here’ or right here outside our doors? With the familiar? Anyway, again, welcome back and here’s to trying to dare!

    • Charli Mills says:

      Thanks for the welcome, Michael! We need to start a movement #BackyardExplorers. We have so much in our backyards if only we have eyes to see. Keep daring!

  29. Sadje says:

    Hi Charli,
    I have submitted the form and I think I did as I was supposed to but since it’s my first time participating, let me know if it is not the right way to do it. Thanks

  30. ellenbest24 says:

    I ran a bubble bath and soaked the anxiety I wore in my bones and read the first half. Refreshed and uplifted I continue our evening. Thank you writers I will be back for more later.

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