Thirty writers began with 99 words. They went on to tackle a new prompt, extended stories, memoirist essays, and how to build a literary community with flash fiction. This is not your typical anthology.
Charli Mills, Series Editor, Publisher & Lead Buckaroo
Sarah Brentyn, Editor & Contributor
The Congress of the Rough Writers (contributors):
Anthony Amore, Rhode Island, USA; Georgia Bell, Toronto, Ontario, Canada; Sacha Black, England, UK; Sarah Brentyn, USA; Norah Colvin, Brisbane, Qld, AU; Pete Fanning, Virginia, USA; C. Jai Ferry, Midwest, USA; Rebecca Glaessner, Melbourne, Vic, AU; Anne Goodwin, England, UK; Luccia Gray, Spain; Urszula Humienik, Poland; Ruchira Khanna, California, USA; Larry LaForge, Clemson, South Carolina, USA; Geoff Le Pard, Dulwich South London, UK; Jeanne Belisle Lombardo, Phoenix, Arizona, USA; Sherri Matthews, Somerset, UK; Allison Mills, Houghton, Michigan, USA; Charli Mills, Hancock, Michigan, USA; Paula Moyer, Lauderdale, Minnesota, USA; JulesPaige, Pennsylvania, USA; Amber Prince, North Texas, USA; Lisa Reiter, UK; Ann Edall-Robson, Airdrie, Alberta, Canada; Christina Rose, Oregon, USA; Roger Shipp, Virginia, USA; Kate Spencer, British Columbia, Canada; Sarah Unsicker, St. Louis, Missouri, USA; Irene Waters, Noosaville, Qld, AU; Sarrah J. Woods, Charleston, West Virginia, USA; Susan Zutautas, Orillia, Ontario, Canada.
Published by Carrot Ranch Literary Community
Distributed & printed by Book Baby
Cover art by Ann Rauvola
Subgenre: Anthologies (multiple authors); Literature Collections; Short Stories
Series title: Congress of the Rough Writers Flash Fiction Anthology
Series Number: Vol 1
ASIN: B078BWZ9MD (Digital)
ASIN: 154391795X (Print)
ISBN-13: 978-1543917956 (Print)
Thirty writers began with 99 words and forged literary feats. Vol. 1 explores the literary art of flash fiction, beginning with the earliest compilations at Carrot Ranch and later pieces based on a new flash fiction prompt. This is not your typical anthology. It continues with longer stories extended from the original 99-word format and essays on how flash fiction supports memoir writing. Based on the experiences at Carrot Ranch, the concluding section of Vol. 1 offers tips to other groups interested in using the flash fiction format to build a literary community.
Witness great feats of literary art from daring writers around the world: stories crafted in 99 words.
Flash fiction is a literary prompt, form, and tool that unites writers in wordplay. This creative craft hones a writer’s skills to write tight stories and explore longer works. It’s literary art in thoughtful bites, and the collective stories in this anthology provide an entertaining read for busy modern readers.
Writers approach the prompts for their 99-word flash with creative diversity. Each of the twelve chapters in Part One features quick, thought-provoking flash fiction. Later sections include responses to a new flash fiction prompt, extended stories from the original 99-word format, and essays from memoir writers working in flash fiction. A final section includes tips on how to use flash fiction in classrooms, book clubs, and writers groups.
CarrotRanch.com is an online literary community where writers can practice craft the way musicians jam. Vol. 1 includes the earliest writings by these global literary artists at Carrot Ranch. Just as Buffalo Bill Cody once showcased the world’s most daring riding, this anthology highlights the best literary feats from The Congress of Rough Writers.
Book Covers and 5-Star Readers’ Favorite Seal
YouTube: https://youtu.be/RT4dB33WqgY (Not available until February 4, 2018)
Short code to embed (Word Press): wpvideo 5XV6eXNq
Script by Charli Mills
Cover art by Ann Rauvola
Video production by Alyssa Dupuis
“The Forgotten Kingdom” by Antti Martikainen (license provided to Carrot Ranch for use)
Amazon Version of the video (without the bookstore link and with a slower progression of slides).
Access video at Author Central for Charli Mills (amazon.com/author/charlimills ).
Short code to embed in Word Press: wpvideo dddB9l7Q
5-Star Review from Readers’ Favorite
Link to full review: https://readersfavorite.com/book-review/the-congress-of-the-rough-writers
“A fascinating book packed with bright ideas and worthwhile material. I was greatly entertained by the stories and essays and so taken with the idea that I thought I would give it a go with a 99-word review.
Stories of ninety-nine words, no more, no less, little gems from the Rough Writers of the Carrot Ranch. Like wild flowers in an early morning meadow glistening with dew and I, a butterfly or bee, flitting from bloom to bloom, immersing myself in a kaleidoscope of experiences which pass through my mind like an ever-changing dreamscape. Stories of love and loss, victory and defeat, struggle and gain from the pens of talented authors with backgrounds as diverse as their stories. A brilliant idea that has created an astounding anthology, one that you will return to time and again.”
4-Star Review from Literary Titans
Link to the full-review: https://wp.me/p3cyvH-220
“This anthology is meant to both encourage and inspire the next generation of writers and authors, so that the craft of storytelling is preserved and propagated. I felt like this book was geared more towards writers, or aspiring writers, but the average reader should not shy away. There is plenty to enjoy in this series. As with any piece of flash fiction, they are better consumed piecemeal and at your leisure. Don’t look for some overarching theme and take pleasure in the quick creation of thought-provoking ideas and compelling characters. If you like shows like The Twilight Zone, then you’ll like this collection…”
Where to purchase
The Congress of the Rough Writers Flash Fiction Anthology Vol. 1 is available through distribution in 17 countries worldwide. Buy direct from our Print on Demand distributor at Book Baby.
Preferred Seller: https://store.bookbaby.com/book/The-Congress-of-Rough-Writers
All profits from digital sales benefit The Congress of Rough Writers through a Travel Scholarship which is available by application to any active Rough Writer who needs help getting to a book or writers event. Profit from print books sustains the publishing and inventory cycle of Carrot Ranch Literary Community. Any excess profit is to be shared among the contributors. Any contributor to Vol. 1 can invest in their own inventory at wholesale cost and keep 100% of their profit.
Carrot Ranch Brand Ads (Created by Charli Mills on Canva ©2017)
Vol. 1 Brand Ads (created by Charli Mills on Canva ©2018)
Logos (created by Ann Rauvola ©2014)
Charli Mills, a born buckaroo, is the award-winning goat-tying champion of a forgotten 1970s rodeo. Now she wrangles words with the Rough Writers & Friends at CarrotRanch.com.
Married to a former US Army Ranger, Charli Mills is “true grit” but no John Wayne. She writes about the veteran spouse experience and gives voice to women and others marginalized in history, especially on frontiers. Her novel, Miracle of Ducks, explores the courage of military spouses and their interdependency upon community when their soldiers deploy. It publishes in 2018.
In 2014 Charli founded an imaginary place called Carrot Ranch where real literary artists could gather. As lead buckaroo, she’s crafted and compiled enough flash fiction to understand its value. She developed the Congress of the Rough Writers to collaborate with flash fiction writers from around the world.
Charli hosts a literary community at Carrot Ranch with weekly Flash Fiction Challenges open to all writers. 99 words, no more, no less. The community hosts an annual Flash Fiction Rodeo in October and awards eight cash prizes in different categories. Her mission as a literary artist is to make literary art more accessible, one flash fiction at a time.
Q: Is Charli your real name?
A: Yes, it’s short for Annette. Ever since I was born, my parents called me Charli, something to do with a comedian skit from the 1960s about a baby called “Cryin’ Charli.” I didn’t know. When I was ten, someone asked me why my Dad called me Charli, and I said, “Because he wanted a boy.” Again, I didn’t know. My great-grandfather who was an Irish-Portuguese buckaroo bull-riding champion called me “Shorty,” but he called everyone Shorty, even his cow-dog. No one called me Annette until I gave myself a different, more sensible nickname of Nan. That’s how my husband’s family came to know me. Then my husband heard my family call me Charli and, well, when it’s your name and makes no sense you go with it.
Q: Is there a real Carrot Ranch?
A: If you are reading this response, then, yes — you are at the Ranch. Welcome! It’s a real place where real writers from around the world gather online. If you mean is it a brick and mortar place (or hayfields and barns), then no. It exists in my imagination as an amalgamation of the different ranches I experienced growing up and the Idaho bog pond where the idea for it came to fruition. The horse in the Carrot Ranch banner is real, but to protect her identity, we call her Scarlet. I once saved her after she got tangled in fencing. And she used to lick my dog as if he were her colt.
Q: What is a “buckaroo”?
A: Good question! A buckaroo comes from the Californios culture of Mexican land grant and mission ranchos. Before Sutter found gold in California, the Californios raised cattle and horses across vast swaths of coastal mountains and valleys where they also grew vineyards and orchards. My family came to California in the great gold rush of 1849 and pushed a herd of cattle all the way from Missouri. They were displaced Highland Scots with feisty dispositions and a refusal to give up their Catholic faith. Because the Californios were also Catholic, they fit right in with the existing ranching community and adopted its buckaroo culture. The difference between Texas cowboys and western buckaroos resides in the tack they use and how they train and ride their horses. To a cowboy, a horse is a tool; to a buckaroo, a horse is a partner.
Q: Why are you lead buckaroo?
A: We romanticize the American West worldwide, and yet many of its idealized attributes are values firmly rooted in buckaroo culture. We idealize our own relationship with horses, and Carrot Ranch was a way for me to give a nod to that buckaroo heart that still beats in my chest when I see a horse. It’s also a persona that I adopted in my career, especially as a marketing manager — I taught branding to other organizations and often used the buckaroo brand for myself. “Creator” or “owner” sound like pretentious titles to me, so I wanted a moniker that was authentic to who I am and yet fun and approachable, too. Lead buckaroo gets more notice than CEO. Besides, buckaroos are willing to get boots mucky when they lead, unlike many CEOs who prefer to stay clean. Literary art is dirty work. You can’t lead unless you get in the muck, too.
Q: Who is The Congress of Rough Writers?
A: The Congress of Rough Writers are the writers who support, participate or write at Carrot Ranch. In our early development as a literary community, these were the writers who gathered to write flash fiction each week. In our book’s dedication I wrote, “First we were strangers, and then we wrote together.” To actively become a community takes trust and engagement. I’m certain it was like that for Buffalo Bill Cody when he’d travel with his Wild West Show. He called the entertainers The Congress of Rough Riders. And while you might assume all the wild west rough riders were from the American frontier, that’s not true. Cody amassed riders with spectacular horsemanship from around the world. His Wild West Show was international. It seemed to be an appropriate name for our group at Carrot Ranch given that we come from the US, Canada, the UK, Australia, Poland and Spain. We have more countries and more new writers to add. Diversity is what makes us strong and compelling in our flash fiction art.
Q: Why flash fiction?
A: Because of its brevity, flash fiction doesn’t demand much time away from our individual writing projects and goals. It’s like writers sharing a quick cuppa. During a tough week, it can be refreshing to have a quick write with friends. Also because of the constraint (99 words, no more, no less), flash fiction imprints its form as a problem-solving tool. When I’m stuck in a scene from my WIP (work in progress), I write a 99-word flash fiction to better understand the heart of that scene. If I have a gap, I write a flash fiction and see if it sticks. If not, I write another. If I’m working with a business client, I take their material and write a flash to get a fresh angle. Flash fiction is both a powerful storytelling form and a remarkable writing tool.
Q: Who is the intended audience for flash fiction?
A: Anyone who likes to read stories but doesn’t have the time. In a collection, flash fiction is like a bowl of potato chips — you can’t read just one. It’s snack-sized literature. Each chapter in Vol. 1 is about 10 minutes of reading time, perfect for a lunch break or hanging out on a commute. The book has greater depth and is also intended to engage book clubs and writers groups. Each flash fiction chapter invites anyone to respond to the prompt on their own. It can be a great exercise for readers who want to better understand the writing process. And as I already said, flash fiction is a practical writing tool. We dedicate a section to encouraging others to create communities using our flash fiction model.
Q: Who is the publisher?
A: We have our own imprint, Carrot Ranch Literary Community, and we publish independently. We print and distribute globally through Book Baby. They also designed the interior of our book, formatted all the pages, and set up global distribution channels, which is known as wide marketing in the book industry. Because our community is global, we wanted the book to be available in international markets. We also published independently to learn the ropes. It doesn’t matter how many authors you talk to until you publish on your own, you don’t really understand the magnitude of work involved. It’s worth it, though, to bring worthy literary art to a wider audience.
FOR INTERVIEWS, PRESS RELEASES, OR WORKSHOP INQUIRES CONTACT CHARLI MILLS: