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March 26: Flash Fiction Challenge

Carrot Ranch Flash FictionLast week’s challenge rounded up seven new stories of flash fiction. Reader responses are holding steady, too. You can read each week’s posted stories in one convenient place on the Carrot Ranch blog or you can read individual posts as they are submitted on the Carrot Ranch Communications Facebook page. If the responses are posted at the writer’s blog, I link to that blog through Twitter, Facebook and Google+. Lots of sharing!

Last week, I looked into the issue of “duplicate content.” A hearty buckaroo “thank you” to a friend and fellow colleague with whom I’ve built websites with for other companies. She helped me interpret the confusing, sometimes contradictory information about that particular topic in relation to search engine rankings. Carrot Ranch is compiling submissions for the ease of readership and includes link-backs to submitting blogs. We feel that this is acceptable.

However, if you are concerned about duplicate content, simply respond in the comments! In fact, several of our writers do just that. If you have a blog, a link-back can still be included in the compilation or FB page listing. This is meant to be creative fun for both writers and readers. We aren’t selling or buying anything here. It’s an opportunity for writers to practice craft within a supportive, friendly environment and for readers to discover and interact with new talent.

So, that’s house-keeping for the week–appropriate as it’s the season of spring cleaning.

Each week, I also want to include something practical for writers whether its a tip for flash or a place to submit writing. We all know that writers have to write. If you play piano, the more you practice, the better you get. Same with writing. You can think of writing flash fiction as playing scales. Or it can be the beginning riff of a new song you compose. Several readers have responded to flash fiction saying, “I want to read more of the story!” Your flash can develop into a new project for you.

What kind of project? Well, here’s one I’m excited about and according to social media hits, so are a lot of other writers: the Amtrak Residency. Between March 17, 2014 and March 31, 2015, Amtrak will select up to 24 writers for a train-ride residency. How cool is that? Selection is on a rolling basis, so there is no “deadline” per say, but the earlier you apply, horse-sense says the better.

Yet, some writers don’t like one of the terms. Whatever you submit in your application, Amtrak will retain the right to use that content. What this means is that Amtrak wants to use good content to promote the quality of their program. Just be thoughtful about what you submit. For example, if you’d like to use the residency to work on your novel, don’t actually submit pages from your novel. Submit a well-crafted short story or essay. And how do you get an idea for writing such? Practice flash fiction weekly! See, it has it’s benefits.

Okay, onto the prompt. The wind is moaning like a gang of ghosts today, reverberating through my office windows. Wind can be pact with emotion–it can feel haunting or exciting. It can recall memories or stimulate the imagination. Wind is our prompt, today.

March 26, 2014 prompt: In 99 words (no more, no less) write a story that includes the phrase, “It’s just the wind.” Respond by noon (PST) Tuesday, April 1 to be included in the compilation. May your writing lead to happy trails! (Or an Amtrak train ride.)

Waiting for Company by Charli Mills

Each morning, Lilith shuffles across pale pink linoleum to brew coffee. “Be ready for company,” Pa would say. After much gurgling, the pot radiates an aromatic invitation. If it’s strong enough, maybe the new neighbors who bought Johnson’s old Black Bear Ranch will visit. Sitting alone at her Formica table Lilith dabs at a sugar cube in her cup. Her wrinkled eyes close, recalling old sounds. Scuffs of cowboy boots. How black-brew tinkled when poured into enamel cups. The rumblings of male chatter from the wooden porch. A board creaks and Lilith’s heart stirs. Company? It’s just the wind.