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Bonus Rodeo: Old Time Radio

Waves surged relentlessly against the craggy rocks of Eagle Harbor where I went to write for a few days as a guest of Keweenaw historian, Barb Koski. It was mid-October, and the gales of November had come even earlier than when the Edmond’s Fitzgerald went down. Barb’s expertise in maritime history focuses on the heroics of the surfmen — those who went out into the wind-driven swells in small boats to rescue the crews of large ships.

Like Barb, many who live, work or attend secondary education on the Keweenaw Peninsula fall in love with the area’s natural beauty and endless outdoor activities. Barb showed me many natural wonders and historic structures during our getaway. If you spend any time outdoors on the Keweenaw, you can’t escape the area’s bold history of industrial copper mining.

In 1885, Michigan Tech University founded Michigan Mining School. From 1886 to 1889 the Houghton Firehall shared space with the new school and its four instructors tasked with training future mining engineers. The firehall, formally known as the Continental Fire Company, operated from 1883 to 1974 in a stately brick building of three floors plus bell tower. The company kept its horses in the basement, its engines on the main floor, and offices (and hayloft) on the third floor, which it shared with Michigan Mining School for a time.

The current owners of the Continental Fire Company embrace the civic history of the building while operating a bar, lounge, and event venue. The interior design includes original brick and beam structure with nods to mining and firefighting. Larger-than-life historic photographs include hard-rock miners and snippets from documents that once governed the firehall (such as the admonishment that there shall be no spirituous liquors in the hall). Funnily enough, the modern CFCo serves plenty of fine spirituous liquors and caters to the entertainment of university students.

What would a 1880s fireman think of the food and excellent local brew served where he once parked fire engines?

What if one of the earliest professors met for lunch with a modern professor, what would they discuss?

From firehoses hung to dry in the bell-tower to horses kept in the basement, how does a past perspective color a present one?

In the Keweenaw, Houghton, Michigan is our center of livelihood, home, and culture. We are never too distant from our history and geology. We can always go hear the waves of Superior surge, then go clubbing later at the Continental. We are made up of many threads that weave the tapestry of our region built on copper, colleges, and curiosity.

Let’s go back to sound and talk old time radio for a moment. When I stayed in the lightkeeper’s cottage with Barb, we fiddled with the old radio and tried to get the phonograph to work (alas, its needle went missing). We listened to the radio which never covered the sound of surf. I imagined the lightkeeper’s family or that of a surfman on blustery fall nights. Did they listen to the radio? Did they listen to music, talk shows, and old-time advertising?

That’s what this Bonus Rodeo event is all about — imagining the confluence of history and today through the sounds of a radio spot. It all focuses on the current Continental Fire Company with playful connections to its past.

An important note before we continue: this contest is sponsored by the Continental Fire Company to develop three radio ad spots. The stories (and their reductions) will belong to the Continental Fire Company. If you do not like the idea of giving copyright to your creative work to a business for them to use in development of advertising, then please do not enter this contest.

All three winners will be awarded a $25 cash prize. Winners can post their stories on their blog, in a book of their own writing, and here in the published compilation with copyright acknowledgment (include the statement, “Winning entry belongs to the Continental Fire Company for development of advertising”). Local producers will further develop winning entries into radio spots, and winning authors will be included in the creative acknowledgments.

DETAILS

  1. Each entry will include three scripts: 99 words, 59 words, and 9 words (all untitled).
  2. Each script includes dialog. Use [brackets] to denote any character speaking (such as narrator, professor, miner, fireman, man, woman, dog, horse, boy, girl, etc.).
  3. Also place in [brackets] any additional sounds (such as clanging of firebell, fiddle music, crackling fire, professor’s cough, etc.).
  4. Combine the history of the Continental with what it offers today. (Remember, it’s a radio spot to advertise the modern Continental Fire Company).
  5. Use WordCounter.net for accurate word count but remember to SUBTRACT any words in [brackets].
  6. Be creative, but also be clear. See examples of radio ads and scripts here and here.
  7. Entries are due by 11:59 p.m. (EST) on November 7, 2018. Winners & radio spots announced Dec. 21, 2018.

Do you recognize elements of TUFF (The Ultimate Flash Fiction)? That’s because TUFF works in many ways. For radio, a 99-word script plus intro and ending that relates to the advertiser is a one-minute spot. A 59-word script is a 30-second spot, and a 9-word script is a 15-second spot. In advertising, these are typical lengths that the advertiser purchases. They should all be about one story, not three separate stories. TUFF reduces a single story. Radio spots do the same thing from a story to a snippet to a memorable tagline.

The Continental Fire Company and their radio representative will judge the contest. They are looking for fun spots to playfully capture the historical spirit of their gastropub. Winning entries become their creative property to develop into a professional ad campaign over the local radio waves. Winning authors receive $25 cash and creative acknowledgment.

Be sure to check out the Continental Fire Company and get a feel for their business and include what they offer. For historical facts and story ideas, here are some resources:

Thank you for entering! The contest is now closed. Winners announced November 23, 2018, at Carrot Ranch.

Rodeo #1: Dialog

By Geoff Le Pard, Rodeo Leader

Writers are notorious people watchers. It’s a small miracle we don’t get done for stalking more often. Part of that idea — thieving we do involves listening to what people say — phrases, the modes of speech, dialect, etc. People convey ideas and feelings with words. [READ MORE…]

So, those pesky rules:

  1. Every entry must be 99 words, no more, no less. You can have a title outside that limit.
  2. It’s dialogue only. Everything inside speech marks, please. (American and British styles both accepted.)
  3. Any genre, time, place, just let us know via words. If you can world build a fantasy, hats off! (Oh, by the way, I bloody loathe the overuse of the exclamation mark. Be very sparing or my prejudices may show through.
  4. It’s a conversation so you need two characters at least. But can you have a conversation with yourself? With an inanimate object? Go for it. There’s a prompt at the end for you to use, but use your imagination. It doesn’t have to be anyone in the picture who’s speaking, does it?
  5. I don’t mind what English spelling or slang you use, just make it recognisably English.
  6. I want emotion, but I want fiction. Not memoir, not a personal narrative and no non-fiction, though dialogue non-fiction sounds a challenge in its own right.
  7. You must enter your name and email with your entry using the provided form below. If you do not receive an acknowledgement by email, contact us at wordsforpeople@gmail.com
  8. Entries must be received by 11:59 p.m. EST on October 10, 2018. Entries are judged blind and winners announced November 9, 2018 at Carrot Ranch. Please do not compromise the blind judging by posting your entry before the winners are announced.
  9. Go where the prompt leads, people.
  10. Have fun.

JUDGES (read full bios at SPONSORS)

Geoff Le Pard

Find Geoff’s books at Amazon US or Amazon UK. Follow his blog at TanGental and on Twitter @geofflepard.


Esther Chilton

Whether it’s an edit you’re after, some advice about a market, writing in general – in fact, anything and everything, you can get in touch, and she’ll try and help you. To find out more, visit her blog: https://esthernewtonblog.wordpress.com. Or contact her: estherchilton@gmail.com.


Chelsea Owens

When not cleaning (an infuriatingly large amount of the time), eating, sleeping, parenting, driving, reading her blog feed, budgeting, and cooking; Chelsea breathes in and sometimes out again. She also writes daily on her blog: chelseaannowens.com.


In judging we will apply the following criteria:

  1. Word count: 99
  2. Pure dialogue.
  3. Use of the prompt.
  4. Emotion: does the piece convey feeling? Do you generate a reaction in the reader?
  5. Ideally we want a story, something that makes us think. Where’s this going? What’s happened? Engage us in your tale.
  6. We love any clever tricks, to make us go ‘ah ha’. Include something to make us wonder and up the slippery pole you go.
  7. Just remember, in real life, we don’t say everything, we finish each other’s sentences, we talk over each other. Use that. Make it feel real. Make us hear it, and you’ll be a winner.

And the picture prompt?

Oh come on, it’s me. Wadyaexpect? The inside of Starbucks?

Thank you for entering! The contest is now closed. Winners announced November 9, 2018, at Carrot Ranch.

All You Need to Know to Rodeo

Weekly Flash Fiction Challenges are on hiatus until November 1. Just like hands on a ranch, we’re going to take a break from our regular chores to challenge and show off our skills. We’re going to have us a rodeo! A flash fiction rodeo.

THE TUFFEST RIDE

Judging for TUFF began after the final September Free-Write. These writers were in it to win it. A free-write is a scary contest to enter because it makes a writer feel vulnerable, but vulnerability is exactly what a writer has to push past to write deep, to meet the muse, to follow gut instinct. Drafting is all about trusting the spark of creativity.

We will post a video on October 1 (right here in the blog feed) to announce the five writers who will advance to compete every Monday. They will write a new story to a fresh prompt, then each week revise according to word count and a technical challenge. After the final constraint, three writers will go on to compete for first, second and third place.

All five are winners and each will receive at least $25 by the end of the contest.

All writers are welcome to take up each Monday TUFF challenge. You can play along from the safety of home. Learn more about the TUFF process under Flash Fiction. It’s a powerful tool that can help you revise a story, scene chapter, novel, synopsis, and more.

NEW CONTEST EVERY WEDNESDAY

Beginning October 3, a new Flash Fiction Contest will debut in the Rodeo. Each one will remain open until 11:59 p.m. (EST) the following Wednesday. That gives writers plenty of time to enter. Be sure to read the rules. Follow the word count exactly (use Microsoft Word or wordcounter.net). Punctuation is often “counted” so check your work using one of those two official word counters.

BONUS CONTEST

One of our local sponsors, Continental Fire Company, is an evening venue for events. The building is a historic firehouse from the 1800s. Later it became the first location for Michigan Tech University. The owners embrace their location’s rich history. And that will factor into the bonus contest. They are looking for three old-time radio spots.

CFC will select three entries to develop into radio ads that they will produce and use. Three winners will each receive $25 and a clip of their ad when produced. This exciting opportunity is how we can incubate our literary art and find creative uses for it. Details and rules post Sunday, October 21 when the contest opens. History details and online sources will also be shared. The contest will close along with the final scheduled Rodeo #5 on November 7 at 11:59 p.m. (EST).

CHALLENGES

If you don’t want to enter a contest, you can submit a challenge in the comments or on your own blog post. We will only publish qualified contest entries in collections because it becomes too daunting of a task to track down all the challenges. So, to be clear, if you want to be included in the collection, you must enter the contest. It’s free, so why not?

IT’S FREE!

You can enter all six contests for free! No fees and first place wins $25. Our sponsors make this possible.

TIMES

Set your clocks to New York City (that’s EST).

Our live readings and TUFF prompts will be posted by 7 p.m. EST. Submission deadlines will take into account when each video posts. TUFF challenges have 5 days to respond (until the final 24-hour challenge).

Rodeo contests start at 12:00 a.m. EST on Wednesday and close the following Wednesday at 11:59 p.m. EST.

WINNERS ANNOUNCED

Judging and compiling entries into collections take time. Winners will be announced each Friday by order of contest after the events close. Each contest will post its winner announcement date. We will also post the collection of qualified entries that same day.

QUALIFIED ENTRIES

Qualified entries are those that meet the contest rules. Pay attention to word count. If a contest calls for 99 words, and you submit 96, your entry will be disqualified and not included in the collection. This might seem harsh, but it is a contest, so take it seriously. But have fun, too!

LEADERS & JUDGES

This simply couldn’t happen without the leadership of Geoff Le Pard, Irene Waters, Sherri Matthews, Norah Colvin, and D. Avery. Each of them works hard to make you sweat, stretching your skills. They, along with their judges, have a difficult task to pick a winner. Be sure to read their rules carefully. And show them some gratitude for what they do to make this Rodeo fun and challenging.

Next year, they will each mentor new leaders. The following year, those mentees will go on to develop their own contests, and the third year they will, in turn, mentor new leaders. This allows writers from our literary community to take on leadership roles. If you are interested to know more, contact the Lead Buckaroo.

THANK YOU!

Thank you for participating in a vibrant literary community where we get to play with words, meet other writers in meaningful ways, and progress our own writing goals. You are Carrot Ranch!

Now go saddle up and get ready to show off your skills. Best to you all!

Weekly Flash Fiction Challenges return November 1.

 

Sound Off to the Rodeo

Some cowboys grow up knowing one day they will ride bulls. Others deny their destiny until the call of the rodeo arena grows too insistent to deny. The same could be said of writers. And no matter how hard she tries to shrug off the inevitable, D. Avery is a mighty fine writer.

D. introduced us to Kid, Pal, Aussie, and Boss through weekly Ranch Yarns that give character to the flash fiction prompts and the Ranch community. Through her writing explorations, she discovered the stories of characters who pushed her to the page, handling difficult issues with empathy, curiosity, and humor. Soon, she’ll release her first collection of fiction.

But first, D. is gonna get us riding bulls for the final rodeo contest in October.

Rodeo #5 The Sound and the Fury: Bull Riding
By D. Avery

Sometimes fear, respect, and awe are the braids of one rope. Sometimes that one rope is all a buckaroo has to hang onto. Sometimes that rope is wrapped around a muscular two thousand pound bull.

That bull will do everything it can to buck the rider off its back and should it succeed in that, will then try to trample or gore the dislodged rider. The bull’s reactions are natural and logical; some would even say athletic and beautiful. That’s why the bull in the bull riding event at rodeos gets scored by judges just like the rider; the bull can earn up to 50 points, the bull rider can earn up to 50 points.

Bull rider Carrson Hiatt says, “The bull, that’s your dance partner for the night.”

It is a very dangerous dance for the human partner. Injuries are frequent and frequently severe. Deaths are not unexpected and not uncommon. Bull riding would seem then to be an illogical thing to do. Unlike roping events or bronc busting it is the only rodeo event that isn’t derived from a traditional cowboy chore. Nobody has ever needed to get on the back of a bull; for that matter, no one needs to run with bulls or taunt them with red capes. But people do.

It is a complicated story, millennia old, of people dancing with bulls, of courting danger. The mystique surrounding el toro is documented in prehistoric as well as modern art; in cultural traditions around the world, the complex relationship with risk-taking and bravado is perpetuated, personally and vicariously, through ritualized confrontations with a bull.

In the U.S. bull riding is bigger than ever and is no longer just a Western event; many riders nowadays do not hail from a ranching background, and for the past twelve years the Professional Bull Riders league has opened their season in NYC, a seemingly incongruous place for rodeo.

What does any of this have to do with writing?

Well as you know Carrot Ranch is holding its second Flash Fiction Rodeo; at the end of October writers from around the world will take part in the second Carrot Ranch bull riding competition.

What is it about danger that fascinates people? What motivates a person to willingly subject themselves to pain and peril? Bring your pen, hang onto your hat, and get ready for a wild write that illustrates the sound and the fury of a dance with danger.

Rules and prompt revealed October 31, 2018, at 12:00 a.m. (EST). Set your watches to New York City. You will have until November 7, 2018, at 11:59 p.m. (EST) to complete the Sound and the Fury contest. Winners will be announced on December 07. Carrot Ranch will post a collection of qualifying entries.

Other competitions:

Rodeo 1: Dialogue led by Geoff Le Pard and judges Chelsea Owens and Esther Chilton
Rodeo 2: Memoir led by Irene Waters and judges Angie Oakley and Helen Stromquist
Rodeo 3: Travel with a Twist led by Sherri Matthews and her judges: Mike Matthews and Hugh Roberts.
Rodeo 4: Fractured Fairy Tales led by Norah Colvin and judges Robbie Cheadle and Anne Goodwin.
The Tuffest Ride starting in September will see 5 writers qualify to compete in October and is led by Charli Mills. For Info

September 19 Free-Write

CONTEST CLOSED

(Thank you to all the brave writers who gave this round a go! There are still four more chances to enter so get familiar with the process below. A new 24-hour prompt will be revealed September 25, 2018, at 12:00 a.m. EST. It will close at 11:59 p.m. EST September 25.)

The clock started ticking at 12:00 a.m. (EST). That’s midnight in New York City when September 19, 2018, begins. The contest ends by the close of day September 19, 2018, at 11:59 (EST).

This is a free-write flash fiction contest to qualify five writers to compete in the October TUFFest Ride event during the 2018 Flash Fiction Rodeo at Carrot Ranch. A free-write requires you to draft quickly.

You can revise, edit or polish. But you only have 24 hours which is not enough time to let a first draft set. We know that. We are looking at your free-write skills, your bravery to write freely according to a prompt.

Judges will examine how creative a writer can be within both time and word constraint. Charli Mills, Cynthia Drake and Laura Smyth all of Hancock, Michigan will judge all TUFF contests. Your free-write must follow all five rules to qualify.

RULES

  1. You must use the revealed prompt: “long drive home”
  2. You must enter using the provided form below
  3. You must write your story in 297 words (exactly, not including title)
  4. You must enter by 11:59 p.m. (EST) on September 19, 2018 (use the form provided below or email your full name and entry to wordsforpeople@gmail.com)
  5. You must be willing to compete in the 2018 October TUFFest Ride if selected

If you qualify, you will be among five winning writers to further compete for first, second and third place in the TUFFest flash fiction contest you will ever enter. The event equates to bull-riding in a cowboy rodeo. It’s a chance to show your versatility of flash fiction writing skills. Five writers will compete:

  1. October 1: Writers tune into a live video posted at Carrot Ranch Facebook Page for the announcement of who will be selected the Fab Five from the September entries. These five writers will have five days to do a new free-write.
  2. October 8: The Fab Five tune into a live video for a twist to a 99-word challenge to rewrite their free-write. They will have five days to write.
  3. October 15: The Fab Five tune into a live video for a twist to a 59-word challenge to rewrite their 99-word story. They will have five days to write.
  4. October 22: The Fab Five tune into a live video for a twist to a 9-word challenge to rewrite their 59-word story. They will have five days to write.
  5. October 29: The Fab Five tune into a live video to find out which three advances. The remaining three contestants will have 24 hours to write a final 495-word story from their TUFF exhibition.
  6. November 2: First, second and third place announced. All five contestants will win a prize (yet to be determined, based on sponsors).

WINNING TIPS

Go with your gut. At Carrot Ranch Literary Community, we play with 99 words, no more, no less every week. We’ve learned that our first instinct to a prompt might be strange or uncomfortable. The natural tendency of a writer is to water down that reaction — to write safely. Don’t. Be brave and go where the prompt leads you.

Be creative. Along with going with your gut, take a creative approach. If you are literal, you might write too stiffly. But do poke a literal response if that comes to you. Ask yourself how you can turn it upside down and create a surprising twist. Also, you don’t need to use the exact phrase (or the quotation marks unless you are using dialog or showing irony).

Be professional. We are all adults here, and adult content is a part of literary art. However, think like a professional literary artist whose job is to write. If you think shocking readers gives you an edge, think again. We live in a world desensitized by global crassness, violence, and inhumanity. Shock value is cheap. Instead, craft a clever twist, show intelligence and the ability to interpret the global theater. Make your readers think.

Write with emotion. You also want to make your readers feel. Characters give us all the opportunity to experience life beneath the skin of another. Literary art can share imagined experiences from what it is like to attend school at Hogwarts or be a polar bear. Invite your readers to feel these unique perspectives. Avoid stereotypes.

Breathe! When you control your breath, you control your mind. Yes, it’s a competition. Yes, it’s only 24-hours. Yes, you have a lot on your plate. But you have the right to be here. You are a creative writer — so breathe, read the rules, write, count your words, and enter. No matter the outcome, you were brave enough to write!

You can use Microsoft Word or use WordCounter.net to determine 297 words.

There are no entry fees, and five winning writers will each win a cash prize.

Thank you to our sponsors:

Openings Life Coaching
SmythType Design
Solar Up
Bill Engleson
Thread Tales Studio
The Continental

And our Leaders & Judges:

Geoff Le Pard
Irene Waters
Sherri Matthews
Norah Colvin
D. Avery
Chelsea Owens
Esther Chilton
Angie Oakley
Helen Stromquist
Hugh Roberts
Mike Matthews
Robbie Cheadle
Anne Goodwin
Bonnie Sheila

**There’s still time to sponsor the Rodeo**

ENTRY FORM (email wordsforpeople@gmail.com for support or to submit special formatting)

CONTEST CLOSED

You will have one more chance to enter! You can enter more than once. Next qualifying free-writes will reveal secret prompts:

  • September 25, 2018 (12:00 am – 11:59 pm)

Five winners will procede to the TUFFest Ride and announced October 1 at Carrot Ranch.

September 13 Free-Write

CONTEST CLOSED

(Thank you to all the brave writers who gave this round a go! There are still four more chances to enter so get familiar with the process below. A new 24-hour prompt will be revealed September 19, 2018, at 12:00 a.m. EST. It will close at 11:59 p.m. EST September 19.)

The clock started ticking at 12:00 a.m. (EST). That’s midnight in New York City when September 13, 2018, begins. The contest ends by the close of day September 13, 2018, at 11:59 (EST).

This is a free-write flash fiction contest to qualify five writers to compete in the October TUFFest Ride event during the 2018 Flash Fiction Rodeo at Carrot Ranch. A free-write requires you to draft quickly.

You can revise, edit or polish. But you only have 24 hours which is not enough time to let a first draft set. We know that. We are looking at your free-write skills, your bravery to write freely according to a prompt.

Judges will examine how creative a writer can be within both time and word constraint. Charli Mills, Cynthia Drake and Laura Smyth all of Hancock, Michigan will judge all TUFF contests. Your free-write must follow all five rules to qualify.

RULES

  1. You must use the revealed prompt: “cool water”
  2. You must enter using the provided form below
  3. You must write your story in 297 words (exactly, not including title)
  4. You must enter by 11:59 p.m. (EST) on September 13, 2018 (use the form provided below or email your full name and entry to wordsforpeople@gmail.com)
  5. You must be willing to compete in the 2018 October TUFFest Ride if selected

If you qualify, you will be among five winning writers to further compete for first, second and third place in the TUFFest flash fiction contest you will ever enter. The event equates to bull-riding in a cowboy rodeo. It’s a chance to show your versatility of flash fiction writing skills. Five writers will compete:

  1. October 1: Writers tune into a live video posted at Carrot Ranch Facebook Page for the announcement of who will be selected the Fab Five from the September entries. These five writers will have five days to do a new free-write.
  2. October 8: The Fab Five tune into a live video for a twist to a 99-word challenge to rewrite their free-write. They will have five days to write.
  3. October 15: The Fab Five tune into a live video for a twist to a 59-word challenge to rewrite their 99-word story. They will have five days to write.
  4. October 22: The Fab Five tune into a live video for a twist to a 9-word challenge to rewrite their 59-word story. They will have five days to write.
  5. October 29: The Fab Five tune into a live video to find out which three advances. The remaining three contestants will have 24 hours to write a final 495-word story from their TUFF exhibition.
  6. November 2: First, second and third place announced. All five contestants will win a prize (yet to be determined, based on sponsors).

WINNING TIPS

Go with your gut. At Carrot Ranch Literary Community, we play with 99 words, no more, no less every week. We’ve learned that our first instinct to a prompt might be strange or uncomfortable. The natural tendency of a writer is to water down that reaction — to write safely. Don’t. Be brave and go where the prompt leads you.

Be creative. Along with going with your gut, take a creative approach. If you are literal, you might write too stiffly. But do poke a literal response if that comes to you. Ask yourself how you can turn it upside down and create a surprising twist. Also, you don’t need to use the exact phrase (or the quotation marks unless you are using dialog or showing irony).

Be professional. We are all adults here, and adult content is a part of literary art. However, think like a professional literary artist whose job is to write. If you think shocking readers gives you an edge, think again. We live in a world desensitized by global crassness, violence, and inhumanity. Shock value is cheap. Instead, craft a clever twist, show intelligence and the ability to interpret the global theater. Make your readers think.

Write with emotion. You also want to make your readers feel. Characters give us all the opportunity to experience life beneath the skin of another. Literary art can share imagined experiences from what it is like to attend school at Hogwarts or be a polar bear. Invite your readers to feel these unique perspectives. Avoid stereotypes.

Breathe! When you control your breath, you control your mind. Yes, it’s a competition. Yes, it’s only 24-hours. Yes, you have a lot on your plate. But you have the right to be here. You are a creative writer — so breathe, read the rules, write, count your words, and enter. No matter the outcome, you were brave enough to write!

You can use Microsoft Word or use WordCounter.net to determine 297 words.

There are no entry fees, and five winning writers will each win a cash prize.

Thank you to our sponsors:

Openings Life Coaching
SmythType Design
Solar Up
Bill Engleson
Thread Tales Studio

And our Leaders & Judges:

Geoff Le Pard
Irene Waters
Sherri Matthews
Norah Colvin
D. Avery
Chelsea Owens
Esther Chilton
Angie Oakley
Helen Stromquist
Hugh Roberts
Mike Matthews
Robbie Cheadle
Anne Goodwin
Bonnie Sheila

**There’s still time to sponsor the Rodeo**

ENTRY FORM (email wordsforpeople@gmail.com for support)

NOW CLOSED

If you missed this free-write, you have more chances to enter. You can enter more than once. Next qualifying free-writes will reveal secret prompts:

  • September 19, 2018 (12:00 am – 11:59 pm)
  • September 25, 2018 (12:00 am – 11:59 pm)

Travel to the Rodeo

Sherri Matthews has kept her feet in the stirrups at Carrot Ranch while riding hard to revise her memoir. She’s one of our premier memoir writers who also pens a hapless village werewolf character who first debuted here in flash fiction. Her fiction can turn a dark twist as deftly as a rodeo bronc.

This year, Sherri seeks inspiration from travel. It’s not her first rodeo, so as a leader she’s going to shake up her event. Her husband Mike Matthews and friend and fellow writer, Hugh Roberts, joins her in the judging. Here’s what she has to tell you to prepare for her event.

Rodeo #3: Travel with a Twist
By Sherri Matthews

In July, I had the good fortune to spend a week’s holiday with my husband on the Italian Amalfi Coast. I say good fortune, because hubby won it, thanks to a random prize draw. We couldn’t believe it. Who wins those things anyway? Surely it’s a scam? But I can report back that it’s no scam because I’ve got the pics to prove it.

The holiday was as filled with twists and turns as it was unexpected, not least of all thanks to hurtling along Amalfi’s hairpin coastal road in a taxi driven by an Al Pacino lookalike who, for no good reason, suddenly pulled over to check something in the back of his car. Though the beautiful Tyrrhenian Sea sparkled far below us, I couldn’t get ‘The Godfather’ out of my head and hoped we wouldn’t end up swimming with the fishes.

Which got me thinking: how about a Travel with a Twist prompt for the Rodeo?

Think of the story behind the smiling vacation faces many of us find on Facebook. Chances are they’re no more than that, no drama, just a snapshot of a happy moment caught on camera. But what would change our perception of those perfect, happy pics if we knew something nobody else did?  What if the man in the photo had just taken a call from his neighbour back home warning him that his house was broken into? Or the grand-children, all milk teeth smiles and ice-cream sticky cheeks, missing their Mum, who’s away on honeymoon with her new husband?

If travel stories have you dreaming of your own private island with palm trees and sandy beaches and an ocean as warm as a bath (the only kind you’ll catch me in), then go for it. But maybe in your story, it’s a woman travelling in thought when she finds an old photograph from that holiday taken years ago with their husband, who has since left her for a younger model.

Perhaps your holiday is a bus trip to the next town over, just for the day, a scenario that makes me think of one of my favourite films. A story of unrequited love, the characters played by Emma Thompson and Anthony Hopkins finally meet again on Blackpool Pier after years apart, but it’s too late for their love. It’s early evening, and the lights come on, and everybody claps.  The favourite time of day, Emma Thompson’s character notes, giving the film’s title: ‘The Remains of the Day’.

Wherever you go on your travels, keep the judges guessing to the end. And those judges…? As before, Mike Matthews and Hugh Roberts will be assisting me with what I know will be a hard task if last year’s Murderous Musings entries are anything to go by.

Huge thanks both: Mike, lovely hubby and fellow traveller, my sound-boarder, proof-reader and keen observer of life and writings.  And Hugh, lovely friend, blogger, and author with a delicious flair for writing sizzling short stories, published his first collection, ‘Glimpses’, last year, the second volume of which follows this Christmas.  Hugh also won first place in Norah Colvin’s, ‘When I Grow Up’ competition in last year’s Rodeo.

That’s us packed, then, ready to go. How about you?  Whether near or far, will it be holiday heaven or holiday hell, funny or sad, romantic or dangerous? It might be a BOTS (based on a true story) or wild and wacky from the deepest depths of your imagination. We don’t mind. Go where the plane/train/automobile takes you, but remember, it must have a twist. We can’t wait to find what’s hiding in your suitcase.


Rules and prompt revealed October 17, 2018, at 12:00 a.m. (EST). Set your watches to New York City. You will have until October 24, 2018, at 11:59 p.m. (EST) to complete the Travel with a Twist contest. Sherri, Mike, and Hugh will announce the prize winner plus second and third place on November 30. Carrot Ranch will post a collection of qualifying entries.

Other competitions:

Rodeo 1: Dialogue led by Geoff Le Pard and judges Chelsea Owens and Esther Chilton

Rodeo 2: Memoir led by Irene Waters and judges Angie Oakley and Helen Stromquist

Rodeo 4: Fractured Fairy Tales led by Norah Colvin and judges Robbie Cheadle and Anne Goodwin

Rodeo 5: The Sound and the Fury led by D. Avery and her judge Bonnie Sheila.

The Tuffest ride starting in September will see 5 writers qualify to compete in October and is led by Charli Mills. For Info

September 7 Free-Write

CONTEST CLOSED

(Thank you to all the brave writers who gave this round a go! There are still four more chances to enter so get familiar with the process below. A new 24-hour prompt will be revealed September 13, 2018, at 12:00 a.m. EST. It will close at 11:59 p.m. EST September 13.)

The clock started ticking at 12:00 a.m. (EST). That’s midnight in New York City when September 7, 2018, begins.

No fee to enter!

This is a free-write flash fiction contest to qualify five writers to compete in the October TUFFest Ride event during the 2018 Flash Fiction Rodeo at Carrot Ranch. A free-write requires you to draft quickly.

You can revise, edit or polish. But you only have 24 hours which is not enough time to let a first draft set. We know that. We are looking at your free-write skills, your bravery to write freely according to a prompt.

**If you have a correction to make to a submission, you can submit a second one with a note to disregard the first. However, you may only do this is the contest is still live within the 24-hour period.**

Judges will examine how creative a writer can be within both time and word constraint. Charli Mills, Cynthia Drake and Laura Smyth all of Hancock, Michigan will judge all TUFF contests. Your free-write must follow all five rules to qualify.

RULES

  1. You must use the revealed prompt: “Papa’s bar”
  2. You must enter using the provided form below or email wordsforpeople@gmail.com with your full name and entry
  3. You must write your story in 297 words (exactly, not including an optional title)
  4. You must enter by 11:59 p.m. (EST) on September 7, 2018 (use the form provided below or email your full name and entry to wordsforpeople@gmail.com)
  5. You must be willing to compete in the 2018 October TUFFest Ride if selected

If you qualify, you will be among five winning writers to further compete for first, second and third place in the TUFFest flash fiction contest you will ever enter. The event equates to bull-riding in a cowboy rodeo. It’s a chance to show your versatility of flash fiction writing skills. Five writers will compete:

  1. October 1: Writers tune into a live video posted at Carrot Ranch Facebook Page for the announcement of who will be selected the Fab Five from the September entries. These five writers will have five days to do a new free-write.
  2. October 8: The Fab Five tune into a live video for a twist to a 99-word challenge to rewrite their free-write. They will have five days to write.
  3. October 15: The Fab Five tune into a live video for a twist to a 59-word challenge to rewrite their 99-word story. They will have five days to write.
  4. October 22: The Fab Five tune into a live video for a twist to a 9-word challenge to rewrite their 59-word story. They will have five days to write.
  5. October 29: The Fab Five tune into a live video to find out which three advances. The remaining three contestants will have 24 hours to write a final 495-word story from their TUFF exhibition.
  6. November 2: First, second and third place announced. All five contestants will win a prize (yet to be determined, based on sponsors).

WINNING TIPS

Go with your gut. At Carrot Ranch Literary Community, we play with 99 words, no more, no less every week. We’ve learned that our first instinct to a prompt might be strange or uncomfortable. The natural tendency of a writer is to water down that reaction — to write safely. Don’t. Be brave and go where the prompt leads you.

Be creative. Along with going with your gut, take a creative approach. If you are literal, you might write too stiffly. But do poke a literal response if that comes to you. Ask yourself how you can turn it upside down and create a surprising twist. Also, you don’t need to use the exact phrase (or the quotation marks unless you are using dialog or showing irony).

Be professional. We are all adults here, and adult content is a part of literary art. However, think like a professional literary artist whose job is to write. If you think shocking readers gives you an edge, think again. We live in a world desensitized by global crassness, violence, and inhumanity. Shock value is cheap. Instead, craft a clever twist, show intelligence and the ability to interpret the global theater. Make your readers think.

Write with emotion. You also want to make your readers feel. Characters give us all the opportunity to experience life beneath the skin of another. Literary art can share imagined experiences from what it is like to attend school at Hogwarts or be a polar bear. Invite your readers to feel these unique perspectives. Avoid stereotypes.

Breathe! When you control your breath, you control your mind. Yes, it’s a competition. Yes, it’s only 24-hours. Yes, you have a lot on your plate. But you have the right to be here. You are a creative writer — so breathe, read the rules, write, count your words, and enter. No matter the outcome, you were brave enough to write!

You can use Microsoft Word or use WordCounter.net to determine 297 words.

There are no entry fees, and five winning writers will each win a cash prize. Please thank our sponsors:

Openings Life Coaching
SmythType Design
Solar Up

ENTRY FORM (or email wordsforpeople@gmail.com)

(NOW CLOSED)

If you missed this free-write, you have more chances to enter. You can enter more than once. Next qualifying free-writes will reveal secret prompts:

  • September 13, 2018 (12:00 am – 11:59 pm)
  • September 19, 2018 (12:00 am – 11:59 pm)
  • September 25, 2018 (12:00 am – 11:59 pm)

Tips for the Memoir Rodeo Contest

This past year, Irene Waters has led us in thoughtful discussions of what memoir is as a genre. You can search her essays at Carrot Ranch under “Times Past.” Irene is one of several talented memoirists who also write flash fiction, and has published an essay in The Congress of Rough Writers Flash Fiction Anthology Vol. 1 about writing across both genres.

With the Rodeo coming up in October, it’s a good time to mention what we consider “flash fiction” at Carrot Ranch. Weekly, we write 99 words, no more, no less. TUFF includes the ability to free-write, master the constraints of 99-words, 59-words, and 9-words, and to revise those constrained pieces into a polished story less than 1,000 words. Therefore, “flash” represents a shortened word count.

“Fiction” stands broadly for any kind of creative writing. Flash fiction can be any genre intended for any audience. It can be based on a true story (BOTS), an observation, a memory, an experience. Fiction is a general term that covers a variety of techniques, including dialogue, exaggeration, story-telling structures. While fiction covers imaginary people or events, writers are welcome to base their stories on true events, too from history to memoir. What matters is the art a writer creates with words.

To further discuss differences between genres is for another post. Suffice to say that Irene Waters often leads us in those discussions. And she’s going to lead us once again in a flash memoir contest for the 2018 Flash Fiction Rodeo. I’ll turn it over to her to give you all some tips and a what to expect from her and her judges.

RODEO #2: MEMOIR
Contest runs October 10-17
By Irene Waters, Rodeo Leader

Memoir is a passion, so I’m thrilled to once again host the memoir section of the Carrot Ranch Rodeo Contest. Hoping you’ll tighten your saddles and put on your spurs and join in. Last year we had Scars – this year? –make sure that you check in at the Ranch on October 10th  when the topic will be revealed. I’m looking forward to reading your 99-word entries that tell a full story on the prompt topic. This can be a happy memory, a sad memory or a wherever the prompt takes your memory. It should be a true story given that this is a memoir contest.

Tips for the contest can be found in the memoir articles I have been writing for Charli over the last few months. Particularly pay attention to “dealing with others,” and consider using dialogue and high definition description.

I will be joined by fellow judges Angie Oakley who returns to again take the reigns and Helen Stromquist.

Angie Oakley.  Originally from London, Angie moved around a great deal and worked as an English teacher in schools as far apart as Nassau in the Bahamas and Daylesford in country Victoria. She now lives in Noosa, which she finds a lovely place in which to do the things she loves: writing, reading, thinking, talking, and walking and skyping her far-flung family. She’s written a couple of novels, lots of articles and is always interested in the work of other writers. As well she has been known to offer her thoughts in a blog at http://spryandretiring.wordpress.com 

Helen Stromquist. After finishing her nursing training in Brisbane, Helen worked in London where she met her husband which saw her living in Sweden for many years before eventually returning to Australia. Helen loves the arts and although she does not write herself, often finds herself editing articles for her family – one writer and one artist. She is an avid reader and is the convenor of a book group in Mosman, Sydney.

For those that do not know me – I’m Irene Waters, a memoirist whose first memoir Nightmare in Paradise is soon to be published. In the long road to publishing, I completed a MA, researching the sequel memoir. Until recently, when a creative hiatus hit, I have been a regular at Carrot Ranch since its inception and found writing flash a good way of honing writing skills. I enjoyed trying my hand at fiction and learning the creative writing skills that are part of that. I am also a keen amateur photographer and this along with my writing can be found at my website Reflections and Nightmares.

So saddle up October 10th will soon be here with the deadline for entries October 17th. The winner  (and second and third place) will be announced November 16th.

Rules and prompt revealed October 10, 2018, at 12:00 a.m. (EST). Set your watches to New York City. You will have until October 17, 2018, at 11:59 p.m. (EST) to complete the Memoir contest. Irene, Angie, and Helen will announce the prize winner plus second and third place on November 16. Carrot Ranch will post a collection of qualifying entries.

Other competitions:

Rodeo 1: Dialogue led by Geoff Le Pard and judges Chelsea Owens and Esther Chilton/Newton

Rodeo 3: Travel with a Twist led by Sherri Matthews and judges Mike Matthews and Hugh Roberts

Rodeo 4: Fractured Fairy Tales led by Norah Colvin and judges Robbie Cheadle and Anne Goodwin

Rodeo 5: The Sound and the Fury led by D. Avery and her judge Bonnie Sheila.

The Tuffest ride starting September will see 5 writers qualify to compete in October and is led by Charli Mills. For Info

January 13: Flash Fiction Challenge

January 13I’m looking for my fairy tale ending, holding on for my Fairy Godmother or even hoping fairies show up and wash the dirty dishes in the sink. I don’t believe in fairy tales, although a part of me wants to. My inner child perhaps?

Yesterday, thanks to a gussied up Google home page, I learned it was the 388th birthday of Charles Perrault, the Fairy Godfather of the literary genre, the fairy tale. Not being much of a fairy tale aficionado (princesses hold little appeal to me), I had thought the genre began with the brothers Grimm. Evidently, Perrault made simple folk tales fashionable at court and the fairy dust honors go to him.

If it is a simple matter of a courtly bard sophisticating folk tales, I might want to argue that the fairy tale genre is older than Perrault. Certainly the Lais of Marie de France, who was possibly the illegitimate sister of Henry II and abbess of Reading, could qualify as making stories of love and fables of animals popular at court in the 12th century. What of the stories of King Arthur or the folk tales of the Celts? Where do we define “fairy tale”?

Folk tales, or stories of cultural tradition, have been with us since the first telling of the rising sun or acknowledgement of a spirit world. What if the only thing that separates us from other species is our desire to tell and hear stories? Do ravens have tales? Do wolves howl bedtime lullabies? Do whales use sonar to explain the creatures in boats above the demarcation of water? According to scientific studies, human brains are hard-wired for stories. And a story is defined by people in a predicament and how they do or do not escape. Stories are how we learn what is accepted and acceptable in society. Stories are also where we push those limits and explore why we accept or reject what we do. Stories allow us to perceive the predicaments of others, sparking empathy and compassion.

What is a fairy tale but the simple formula for a story that has always been with us — it begins with the familiar “once upon a time” and ends happily ever after. The Disney franchise makes gazillions off of fairy tale princesses, and has even evolved fairy tales over successive tellings through the medium of movies. Ballet is another medium for fairy tales with epic dance interpretations of Cinderella, Sleeping Beauty, Coppelia and the Nutcracker. Fairy tale motifs are even used in literature to create either realistic fantasies or to give realistic stories fantastical elements. Today, the villain might win over the princess as the genre evolves to consider new predicaments and outcomes.

As a child, my favorite fairy tale from among the Walt Disney versions was Robin Hood. I had the book and the record which I played over and over, listening to the songs and voices to imagined pictures in my head. It didn’t seem odd at all that Disney’s Robin Hood was a red fox, or Little John a big brown bear. For fairy tales, we suspend reality.

Only now does it occur to me I might have developed a bias against the profession of sheriffs because clearly the Sheriff of Nottingham was a big bad wolf. Subconsciously, did I think Cobb McCanles might have been the bully history describes him to be because he was a sheriff? Yet, my research into the profession expands my understanding. As a sheriff in antebellum North Carolina, Cobb had to be tough, but also smart. He had to hold himself to high standards and be accountable to the highest government in the state as a tax collector. He was accountable for those who didn’t pay their taxes, and he had to provide exact amounts when he collected. Often, he had take people’s property if they refused or couldn’t pay taxes, which could have put him in dangerous situations.

It’s interesting Cobb would have held a position that required enough popularity to be elected four times, yet be unpopular for what he was tasked to do. He was a big man, a sporting man who wrestled in the skull and knife duels of his time (think 1850s MMA), and he was self-righteous, believing himself to be an authority by his position. He lived large in life and probably created many silent enemies. None spoke out against him until he left the politics of North Carolina which had taken a direction he couldn’t uphold. He left for Nebraska, but must have carried with him that sheriff’s demeanor. Was he the big bad wolf?

The fairy tale that evolves from the 1861 incident at Rock Creek finds a hero in another — Wild Bill Hickok. In fairy tales, typically you can only have one hero. History answers, yes, Cobb McCanles was the big bad wolf and Hickok the dashing hero who saved the day. Consider this passage by historian, William E. Connely:

Wild Bill and McCanles were both men of destiny — strong, fitted to stand in the forefront of the advance of the frontier, to hold the lead of civilization into new lands. By his courage, his intrepidity, his iron will, his marvelous achievement Wild Bill won fame. By his strength of character and his tragic death McCanles won fame. One was the knight of the Middle Ages strangely out of time. The other was the freebooter with the daring to take what he wanted regardless of consequences.

Both will live on history’s eternal page.

Think a moment about the idea that we are hardwired for stories. Not logic. Stories. The stories that emerged to explain the incident at Rock Creek read like fairy tales with the knight overcoming the freebooter. The community needed a story to make the incident acceptable. And obviously, the American culture at large wanted heroes, and the Wild West was ripe with fairy tale potential.

Problem is, we’ve accepted the tales as history. It’s near impossible to sift all the stories for facts and come up with the “real” story, but like those who tell alternative fairy tales, Rock Creek  is a novel to offer alternative considerations, busting the myths of western  villains, heroes and happy endings. The women involved were more than princesses on the sidelines.

While I wait for my own elusive fairy tale life, I continue to move forward, making headway against what feels like strong winds. Finally, the VA has submitted a formal document for my husband’s PTSD. I have to take time out of my packed schedule to sit in meetings with his advocate. Monday went well, and I felt some measure of validation, if not exhaustion. This will take time. Everything I’m doing at the moment will take time. I should be a monk by the end of it all. On top of everything, my head cold of a month ago decided to return like some medieval plague and dormant health issues decided to flare. I feel like Prince Charming, fighting the dragon, thorns and vines that hoard the prize.

Never do I feel like Sleeping Beauty. The disappointment of fairy tales is not that they aren’t real, but that the men are the ones who get to fight for what is right, for what they want. The women are sequestered and always waiting on songbirds to clean up their clutter. No wonder they are beautiful — they have time to coif hair, apply powder and dress with consideration. I look a hot mess these days, but I am the fighting prince, no sulking princess. I’ll author my own damn fairy tale in this life and one day up hold the elixir I get from writing, researching, reading, discussing and ultimately expressing what that all means. In a story, of course.

January 13, 2016 prompt: In 99 words (no more, no less) begin a story with, “Once upon a time…” Where you take the fairy tale is entirely up to you. Your character can break the traditional mold, or your ending can be less than happy. Elements of fairy tales include magic, predicaments, villains, heroes, fairy-folk and kingdoms. How can you turn these elements upside down or use them in a realistic setting? Write your own fairy tale.

Respond by January 19, 2016 to be included in the weekly compilation. Rules are here. All writers are welcome!

***

No Happy Endings by Charli Mills

“Once upon a time there lived a king and queen who were grieved…”

Sarah listened to Jesse read from her favorite book of fairy tales, their shared birthday tradition. Jesse now 18, and Sarah 89. Satisfied, Sarah dozed. Wasn’t she young once?

The young prince, fired for a gay adventure, set off for the woods. He rocked Sleeping Beauty in her cradle. Black hair like his, blue eyes like hers. The prince smiled. Don’t grieve…don’t grieve…

Sarah woke in her chair. Jesse finished the tale, smiling over the happy ending. Sarah knew better. Sleeping Beauty died in the woods.

###

Ranch News: Story selections and assignments for the Congress of Rough Writers Anthology Vol. 1 are underway. Notifications began yesterday and will continue as Editor, Sarah Brentyn, and I finalize the needs for each book section and analyze reader feedback on first-year material. Teams are assisting with editorial, education or publishing considerations to make this a collaborative effort we all can take pride in it’s quality and value.

I’ve launched a new weekly e-mail. This is not directed at writers here, necessarily, but you are welcome to follow. It’s a new tool for securing readers at Carrot Ranch and for our collective books. I will feature one Rough Writer and his or her book each week in the newsletter, giving each a turn at publicity. I will also feature three flash fiction. Don’t let the word “popular” put you off or turn on your competitive radar. Basically, it’s an editor’s pick as to three flash that go well together and can attract new readers. Once I train the monkeys (Mail Chimps) it will include a few other fun features. Again, the intent is to build up readership now that we have a solid base of writers and participants at Carrot Ranch.

There’s still time to enter the contest:

Carrot Ranch Flash Fiction Contest

Our team of accomplished judges are patiently standing by and awaiting your submissions! Other than the judges, this contest is open to all Rough Writers and beyond. Please spread this contest if you can help out. It’s a great cause, only $15 to enter and a $250 first place prize with prizes for second, third and an overall grand prize randomly drawn from all who submitted to any of the 4 Paws for Norah Contests. You can use the icon to share and link back to the Contest Page.

In personal news, my first article is featured at the new and gorgeous Go Idaho magazine. It is subscription based but you can read up to two articles free each week and there are social media buttons below each article to share. Please tell me what you think of A Stone Castle in the Rockies.

In two weeks, Carrot Ranch goes live at the Library with Wrangling Words. The attempt is to build a similar supportive program for rural literary writers in northern Idaho.

Thank you for all your support and participation at Carrot Ranch. I hope we continue to grow, connecting to readers, engaging more writers, discussing process and stories, collaborating to the benefit of us all. I feel like I’m echoing Margaret Meade when I say, never underestimate what a small group of passionate writers can do with words.