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Industrious for 2016

IndustriousIt’s the year of rolling up shirt sleeves, more or less. Effort doesn’t always mean doing more. Industrious can mean steady and determined, as much as it can mean busy and energetic. It comes down to the industry, the person and the goals.

Writers explored different industries and industrious characters this week, kicking off a new year with flash fiction stories.

The following stories are based on the December 30, 2015 prompt: In 99 words (no more, no less) write an industrious story.


Dreams Don’t Die by Ann Edall-Robson

The smell of fresh baked sweets welcomed the customers when they came through the door. Small tables dressed in crisp linens were adorned with a tiny nosegay of flowers, fresh from the garden. Each table placed intimately around the room.

This had been their dream until the accident had left him a paraplegic. They heard about funds available to start new businesses for people displaced from their jobs by accidents.

Their dream traveled a different route. Rehabilitation and hard work had paid off. Now his wheel chair moved easily around the custom kitchen.

He baked. She served their guests.


Normal is Overrated by Roger Shipp

No one calls at 2:14 AM.

Let me correct that. No one used to call.

Now, it’s home base … another emergency. With them…there are only emergencies!

Having left extreme sports for a more nine-to-five job (my wife’s idea), we were a happy, somewhat- normal couple (two kids, a gerbil, and three dogs).

I left my passion as a top-five free-climber with seven first assents to my legacy.

Now I was on call to climb communication towers.

Leaning over to kiss her on the cheek, I grab my coat and softly descend the back stairs.

Normal is so overrated!


Industrious Revolution by Anthony Amore

Andrew Jackson congratulated Samuel Slater on his ability to spin thread. Waters from the Blackstone flowed and the wheel moved. Hundreds of wheels up and down its banks. The mighty center of work and industry crafting cables, jewelry, locks, locomotive engines, knives and chains. Until industry evaporated and work moved to points farther south and east. Water wheels stilled, bricks and mortar crumbled. Wooden factory floors turned to dust and mold inhabited by vermin and pigeons. Until some visionary saw future loft space lit by wide windows, filled with exposed brick, stainless appliances, wrought iron, marble counters, parking spots included.


Progress? by Larry LaForge

“If we’re not moving forward, we’re moving backwards,” the self-assured mayor pontificated while snapping his purple suspenders with his thumbs.

Mayor Watkins showed renderings of the proposed high-rise hotel to be built smack in the middle of the quaint college town. Council Chair Bowers reviewed property tax projections from the development. “That’ll support other city improvements,” Bowers boasted.

Edna was startled when Ed blurted out loud exactly what she was thinking.

“The city improvement we need most is to embrace basic values.”

Facing the projection screen, Watkins and Bowers froze, knowing that Ed and Edna were in the audience.


Pizza Delivery by Sherri Matthews

“I’m starving, when’s our food coming?”

“I’ve ordered it alright? Have another fag and stop moaning.”

Joe licked a cigarette paper and lit up just as the doorbell chimed.

“About time,” he grumbled as Dee plonked down the pizza box. “What took so long?”

“I dunno, he was foreign, didn’t even speak English…”

“Bloody immigrants, taking our jobs,” grunted Joe from a mouth stuffed full.

Dee nodded as she reached for another slice.

“By the way, you’ve got an appointment tomorrow at the Job Centre. Maybe you’ll find something?”

“Ha, nothing but crap jobs out there, what’s the point?”


Matters by Carol Campbell

The feeling of fear that came over me was overwhelming every thought; my every action as I contemplated the implications. “They are trying to kill us”, I said to no one in particular.

Later we three friends talked industriously about the situation that has continued for centuries without any lasting change. The empowerment to act came slowly but life and world changing events often come that way. Like the thief the Bible talks about. We began to realize that we were willing to give our lives for the lives of not only our children but for all children everywhere.


Industrious by Irene Waters


Ants and bees

But like the queen

I’d like to be

with drones and workers

at my whim

Industrious , for I’ll accept no shirkers.



The revolution

they’d have you believe

was a precursor to that other

that saw all in factories

working like those ants and bees.



they tried to stamp out

with Unions pulling children out

then claiming wages should be fair,

A shorter week they then dared.



again in parts

sees children studying for long hours

Knowing when work they must

Schooling will be their only hope

As we all know,

knowledge does empower.


Heroes Come in Many Forms by Oliana

Isin had too many relatives perish in Auschwitz. He had to flee Romania. Upon reaching Germany, he phoned his relatives to take over his home before the communists did. He’d also invested all his savings in a machine builder in Dusseldorf; he sailed with his wife and son for Canada. They settled in Montreal and rented a garage just outside the city, where he’d ordered a few machines from Germany that manufactured steel nails. That was the beginning of his empire in 1952 that eventually grew into a multi-million dollar corporation competing with majour steel companies all over North America.


The Resolute by Ruchira Khanna

Zack narrowed his eyes as he focussed on somebody at a distance. Dressed in soot from the recent blast, he had no regrets and his twinkling eyes said it all inspite of a bandaged arm and scrapes on his forehead.
“I did it” he shouted in enthusiasm as he approached that body, and hugged her tight while tears trickled down uncontrollably from her’s.
“I knew, you could do it!” she whispered and allowed the propitious public to haul him away, after all, he built a bridge for all to access. The proud mom admired his what-it-takes.


Pooh and the Honey Tree by Kate Spencer

“Winnie, tell us what your cousin Pooh Bear did after he fell down the honey tree.”

“Me?” she cries nodding her head vigorously.

“Yes you.” I reply.

“He did another boo-boo.”

“How so?”

“He flew up in a blue balloon?” she asks blinking her eyes.

“That’s right. And why did he do that?”

“’Cause he … He wanted the bees to think he was the sky!”

“And did he fool them?”


“What did they do?”

“They got suspicious and stung him.”

“Did Pooh fall down from the sky?

“Ummm no… He floated ‘cause Christopher Robin shot his balloon.”


“Could Do Better” by Norah Colvin

The words blared from the page.

“Needs to try harder.”

Down through the years the judgement repeated.

“More effort required.”

No one tried to understand his unique way of seeing, his particular point of view.

“Doesn’t apply himself.”

He struggled to repeat their pointless words and perform their meaningless tasks.

“Needs to concentrate in class.”

Inside his head the images danced in brilliant choreography.

“He’ll never amount to anything.”

Outside their white noise words crackled a cacophony of dissonance.

Finally, school days done, they clamoured for the inspired works of the overnight success.

“Brilliant!” “Talented” “Exceptional!”


Industrious by Pete Fanning

I blame the entertainment industry.

And my parents.

Sure, I was a cute kid, but was that my fault? Why I was groomed by producers and agents, abused by talent scouts? Called my parents by their first names, supporting Linda and Clark until the old trust fund went dry by the time I was axed from a hit show because puberty hit and the pimples and voice weren’t so cute.

Where did that leave me?

In rehab, that’s where.

But now, finishing my tell-all memoir with a bomb, I know that I’ve finally found my revenge.

The book industry.


A Busy Person by Jane Dougherty

Everyone round here knows her, the kindly lady with the cane. Doesn’t work after her accidents—she’s pursuing a motorist and the transport company for negligence and dangerous driving. People sympathised, especially because of the cats. We never knew how many she looked after until she was evicted. She’d hung on in the old apartment because she’s suing the owner for something or other. The cats slipped through the net of her concerns. She took three with her. Some were caught and destroyed. The rest roamed the rooftops for a while, lost and famished. All gone now. Nice lady.


Flash Fiction by Luccia Gray

‘I’ve sold the shop.’

We both turned to stare at our mother.

‘It was turning out losses.’

Cutlery fell noisily onto the plates, alongside the calamari.

‘We’re starting another business.’

Jaws dropped.

‘It’s 1st January, and we need to move on before it’s too late.’

Eyes bulged.

‘I’ve bought this tapas bar.’

I glanced around and coughed.

‘There’ll be jobs for the two of you.’

My sister frowned, ‘What jobs?’

‘We’ll make it work this time.’

‘I’m not waitressing!’ protested my sister.

I looked around at the bottles of Pinot Grigio and raised my glass, ‘I’ll drink to that!’


Supporting Local Industry by Geoff Le Pard

‘Mrs North. Jasmine and Penny have been plotting I understand.’

Mary looked at her next door neighbour, a petite, strong jawed woman with deep unreadable eyes. ‘Please it’s Mary.’


‘Jasmine said you needed help in your café and I mentioned…’

‘I’d love it, if you can spare the time. Pay’s not great…’

‘Don’t you need references? I’ve not done this before and…’

Hansa took Mary’s hand. ‘Honestly a familiar face would be so welcome while we get up to speed. But are you sure?’

Mary smiled. ‘I always make a point of supporting local industry. I’d love to.’


Flash Fiction by Anne Goodwin

Skills passed from father to son, father to son, it was good work. Steady, if not lucrative; we might not thrive but neither would we starve. So long as there were millers there’d be millstones; so long as there were bakers there’d be men chiselling stones from the cliff. Ladies might grouse that their bread was grey and gritty, but so what? Gritstone was gold to us.

Three complete and one nearing; there’d be shoes for the littl’un when the gaffer came to collect. Suddenly a crack; how had I missed the faultline? No choice but to start afresh.


Prairie Industrialist by Charli Mills

Sarah knelt on the bank above, handing Cobb tools he needed. He waded the icy creek and directed the digging. The timbers he squared himself.

A small and curious crowd gathered. A few of the buffalo hunters pulled whiskey and crouched alongside several Ottowas. Many traded at the store. Her store. Well, Cobb’s store really, but she was running it.

“What’s he doing?”

Sarah looked up at the ranch wheelwright Cobb hired. “He’s building a toll-bridge to make a safer crossing at Rock Creek.”

“First spring flood’ll wipe it off the face of the earth.”

“Cobb’s a solid builder.”


Europa by Bill Bennett

“Ay lad.”

“This your first time on Old Hilga, I see.”

I nodded and covered my mouth to hold the gag caused by the motion sickness.

“Don’t worry lad, gets bit bumpy on landing but she generally holds up.”
“’Tis near hundred years since she had a problem landing on this damned rock. That’s when she burned up.”

“’Twon’t take but a bit for us to suck the water up and head back to earth for the delivery.”

“Only take 26 months to get back. Don’t you worry, we’ll put ourselves into deep sleep and you won’t even notice.”


Industry by Marigold Deidre Dicer

One year on, an unexpected correspondence landed in my inbox.

FW: Additional Information – Workpac & Centrelink

At first I thought it was spam, but I recognised the sender. My old boss. Or, to be more accurate, my old boss’s boss’s boss. The big boss.

The big boss was sending out links on how to find work.

Despite having left the industry for my own reasons (and pleased to see the back of it) I couldn’t help but feel a foreboding sorrow.

Operations temporarily suspended. 242 jobs lost.

Owned by a blue-chip company, but ended up another Blue Sky Mine.


Cottage Industry by Lisa Reiter

She’d worked hard all day. On her own as usual. Samuel had engineered it nicely, him rearing the beef and her processing it into fresh farm products sold at the butchers. A great cottage industry except she was lonely and he liked it that way – her pretty face out of sight. Her time all accounted for.

She shuddered as she closed the refrigerator for the last time on the sausages and pies awaiting collection. She mopped the floor and carefully rechecked the gleaming stainless steel but there was no need to worry. There wasn’t a trace of Samuel anywhere.


December 30: Flash Fiction Challenge

December 30Mile marker 490 on Idaho State Highway 95 marks the spot where industry once built a town called Elmira. Throughout my two blogs, I’ve explored what remains of the town, mostly an iconic 1910 schoolhouse. I’ve guessed that the industry was logging or railroads based on what brought people to settle this area.

Last month, I got a writing gig with a new online magazine called, Go Idaho. It’s not yet live, but it will live up to its promise to be a magazine about amazing people and places in my state. You can sign up for the VIP List and I hope you subscribe. It’s an innovative magazine that forgoes advertising and generates revenue through subscription. And, it pays writers. I’ve freelanced for 22 years and watched the industry shift from robust regional publications to watered down global internet.

Yet, I still believe in the value of quality writing. Companies still need copy-writers who understand consumer engagement; readers still want good stories to read; and we all recognize top-shelf writing with appreciation. Making a living as a writer is not exactly the career path any school counselor would promote, but any industrious writer can make it work. You have to find a niche (business background, regional access, past experience, interests), an outlet and fair payment. If you are all about the literary writing, seek artist grants in your town or region, set up a plan to submit to contests with prizes or polish your work to submit to paying literary outlets.

Do the groundwork and keep writing.

Living way up north in the Panhandle gives me a regional writing niche. Funny thing is, my book editor got me in touch with the magazine editor, so be open to who others might know. It’s a perfect fit to my Elmira Pond voice, journalism profile background and content writing for internet. Your perfect fit is out there, too. Same goes for publishing a book. First you need to know what you want to achieve, then you have to find the right publishing partner. I believe that many rejections writers experience are due to poor fit. Get to know that agent or publisher or editor and study what interests them.

It’s why I know Elmira was a railroad and logging industry town — it fits the terrain.

One of my assignments for Go Idaho is a series about places and the traces of cultural diversity in its history. Naturally I began with Elmira. For fun I called up people (random neighbors) and asked each to complete the sentence, “They say Elmira was a ________ town.” I was trying to find the myths and compare it to historical record. For example, I’ve heard that Elmira was founded by Italian immigrant railroad workers. My neighbors gave me even juicer myths and history gave me a surprise. I will continue to write this series and have already explored Swede Island and have a spring trip planned to discover a Chinese burial ground known to some locals.

The magazine gig and a new client project has made me a naughty novel writer. I set my revision aside for a rest at Thanksgiving and, yes, it’s still resting. My goal this year is to discover something in between revision obsession and revision avoidance. Right now, I’m coming out of a holiday break that I can’t claim was adventurous, productive or reflective, but it was restful. I’m ready to roll up my sleeves and get industrious again.

Where to begin? Assessment. The turning of a new year is always a good time to reflect. Not all writers set goals, but I tend to be goal-oriented. I also have a vision for what “success” looks like for me as a writer. In fact, I shared that vision last year and mentioned my interest in hosting writing retreats in northern Idaho. Whether you have set goals, an idea of what success means to you, or you simply reflect on what has come to pass and what next, now is a good time to take stock.

2015 was not the year I expected. However, I didn’t let the setbacks derail me. In taking time to assess at various points throughout the year, I found it wise to shift priorities. Next week, after Longboarder returns to a more boisterous home and friends and I have in all my client submissions, I plan to plan. We have our first Anthology to craft and publish; Carrot Ranch is expanding to a live monthly writer’s support program at the local library; my Rock Creek revision deadline is the end of January; and I need to continue to source writing income.

Vision. Goals. Plan. Assess. Rinse. Lather. Repeat.

And above all, write. Writing is a combination of drafting, researching, arranging, revising, reading, inspiration and perhaps other activities such as plotting, people-watching, imagining, exploring. Writing is a hearty stew, not a single ingredient. And these days, if you publish — magazines, blogs, books — you need to add promoting to the mix. I’d like to get back to my platform building posts. Target audience is the biggest gap I see in our book publishing industry, and it’s a tricky one to deal with whether you publish independent, small press or with the big pillars.

Humans are industrious. Sometimes our industry is driven by greed — the desire to make money and be powerful through wealth — and sometimes it is driven by compassion — the desire to help others. I’m sure industrious people have a plethora of reasons for their efforts. Cobb McCanles came to Nebraska in March of 1859 and built a toll-bridge, dug a new well for pioneers, settled four ranches, operated a Pony Express relay station, traded with indigenous tribes, ran a stage coach stop, kept a wife and family and kept a former mistress. He was definitely industrious. The west often afforded such opportunity. In part, it’s what frustrated him about the southern economy based on plantation expansion and support of a slave trade. Only a few made wealth. Out west, a hard working man could make a living.

So could immigrants who came to America, believing in better opportunities for those clever and hard-working enough.

You see that picture up above for the flash fiction challenge? That’s a train of railroad cars all carrying steel rails for maintenance. I’ll give you the hint that Elmira was, and still is, a railroad maintenance hub. I see those rails parked outside and I think of the gandy dancers of men that once worked in teams to realign the rails before modern machinery. Were they Italian? Did they settle Elmira? Ah, you’ll have to read my story at Go Idaho!

December 30, 2015 prompt: In 99 words (no more, no less) write an industrious story. It can be about an industry or the efforts of a person or group of people. What does their industry reflect? Does hard work pay off? Are there risks or accidents?

Respond by January 5, 2015 to be included in the weekly compilation. Rules are here. All writers are welcome!


Prairie Industrialist by Charli Mills

Sarah knelt on the bank above, handing Cobb tools he needed. He waded the icy creek and directed the digging. The timbers he squared himself.

A small and curious crowd gathered. A few of the buffalo hunters pulled whiskey and crouched alongside several Ottowas. Many traded at the store. Her store. Well, Cobb’s store really, but she was running it.

“What’s he doing?”

Sarah looked up at the ranch wheelwright Cobb hired. “He’s building a toll-bridge to make a safer crossing at Rock Creek.”

“First spring flood’ll wipe it off the face of the earth.”

“Cobb’s a solid builder.”


Re-creation of the bridge Cobb built over Rock Creek at Rock Creek Nebraska State Park: