At the Zoo

 

“C’mon, Sarah, let’s go.”

“Be right there. Just reading one more post.”

“Argh. Fine. But at least try to make it quick.”

“No problem. Two minutes.”

“Pfft. Right. I’ll give you five and you still won’t be done.”

“I will. Promise.”

“Not likely. Hey, let’s make this interesting. Care to wager a bet?”

“Sure. You can even time me on your stupid ‘smart’ phone app thing.”

“Already started.”

“Almost done.”

“Tick. Tock. Will you look at the clock. Tsk. Four minutes and she’s still on the laptop.”

“Uh…”

“Oh no. Five minutes! Ha! I win.”

“Uh… So did I.”

 

Dialogue-only, 99-word flash. That’s what that is up there. Also, it’s a post about my recent win at the Carrot Ranch Rodeo.

The challenge, as you can guess, was to write a 99-word flash with only dialogue. Yikes. And, for added torture fun, the judge, Geoff Le Pard, gave us a picture prompt: 🐢

I somehow managed to pull off a win (actually, two wins since the judging was blind and they had no idea who wrote which story). Yeah, I know. It’s kind of shocking. Also, kind of cool.

The 2nd place flash is slightly darker (and a bit sad) as I’m wont to write. 1st place is slightly humorous (and a bit fun) as I’m less wont to write. 🙂 Here they are for your dining pleasure:

AT THE ZOO

 

“Mr. Le Pard?”

“He’s not here.”

“Isn’t that him?”

“Yes. It is.”

“Okay. Well I need to deliver—”

“He’s not here at the moment.”

“But he’s right there. You just said.”

“He’s probably at the park…maybe the zoo.”

“Excuse me?”

“You must be new.”

“Well, yes. Today’s my first day. I’m Susan. I told him that earlier but he called me Shelley.”

“Ah, the zoo it is then. He’s off visiting his friend, Shelley, the tortoise. No telling when he’ll be back. Just leave the lunch tray, Susan. One of the nurses can bring his meds back later.”

 

LET ME SPELL IT OUT FOR YOU

 

“Mommy, that man’s kissing the tortoise.”

“He’s not kiss…oh, dear God. Zookeeper!”

“What seems to be the problem, Ma’am?”

“The turtle—”

“Ah, yes. Sad state of affairs, that is. And it’s a tortoise.”

“What are you going to do about it?”

“Not much I can do, you understand.”

“I do NOT understand.”

“Can’t just magically change the situation, now can I?”

“You must do something. The turtle—”

“Tortoise.”

“Whatever! Stop giggling, Jenny.”

“Don’t worry, Ma’am. We’ve hired a witch to reverse the spell. Should be here next week. He’ll have his wife back then. Enjoy your day.”

 

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The Tent

 

Though officials took us in, their welcome was forced.

The meadow was dotted with makeshift dwellings which looked like heaven compared to what we’d endured to get here. Pa ruffled my hair, whispering that it was over. We were safe.

He was half right.

A woman with long, grey braids approached Pa, pointed to the edge of the meadow, patted his shoulder, and walked away. “What is it, Pa?” I followed his stare to a yellow tent.

“There’s not enough food here,” he pulled me close. “We’re in the lottery.”

”Are we staying in the yellow tent?”

“Let’s hope not.”

 

 

Flash Fiction Challenge over at Carrot Ranch

August 2, 2018 prompt: Yellow tent In 99 words (no more, no less) write a story that includes a yellow tent.

 

 

Fruit Salad & Flash Fiction

 

A few years ago, Charli Mills decided to run a flash fiction challenge. People turned up at Carrot Ranch to pen a few words from a prompt. Practicing their craft, exercising their writing muscles, or just having fun.

The responses each week ranged from silly to deadly but always entertained and always told a tale in 99 words.

She had a vision to turn these 99-word tales into a collection from an international community.

The diversity and creativity of participants brought both beauty and complexity. A lot of tweaking, thinking, changing, and rearranging went into this collection. As editor, I had the privilege of participating behind-the-scenes to help create a unified, organized anthology of vastly different pieces by many different writers, all with their own unique style and voice.

Somehow, somewhere in the process, we turned this lovely bunch of writers into a lovely bowl of fruit. Strawberries, bananas, blackberries, and blueberries. Pineapple, kiwi, grapes, and tangerines. (It was quite a mix.)

These tasty treats needed a cohesive element to hold them together. I thought of how sweetened gelatin could suspend within it all sorts of fruits. And that is how I originally presented the ‘blueprints’ for the book. “Hey, Charli. It’s like…erm…a Jello fruit salad. You know what I mean?”

This fruity analogy has stayed with me.

Have you ever made Jello fruit salad? You have to find the right mix of fruit. Then, examine each piece to find the perfect selection. After that, you wash it and trim it. Finally, you add the colored, sugar gelatin. Voilà. A scrumptious dessert.

We worked hard. And I’m proud to share the fruits (and Jello) of our labor with you.

With over 30 writers whipping up flash, short stories, and essays, The Congress of Rough Writers: Volume 1 is a cornucopia of delights.

 

Huge thank you to all the anthology authors. For being a part of the writing community that Charli created and, ultimately, part of this anthology. By lending your voices, sharing your experiences, and penning great fiction, you have all made this book what it is. Rock on, fellow Rough Writers.

 

 

Where you can buy the book: 🙂

Congress of Rough Writers

Amazon Global Link

 

Where you can write some flash: 🙂

Carrot Ranch

 

Featured On the Reef ~ Rough Writers Anthology

 

 

On the Reef is a series featuring fabulous indie authors from around the blogosphere and beyond. Titles, covers, and blurbs that catch my eye, new releases, great reads… Basically, authors I’d like to highlight and works I’d like to share with my fellow book-loving word nerds. Happy Reading!

 

Featured

 

The Congress of Rough Writers (Flash Fiction Anthology)

Volume 1

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 word play. 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.

 

You can get your copy here: 🙂

Congress of Rough Writers

Amazon Global Link

 

Contributing Authors:

Charli Mills (Series Editor)

Sarah Brentyn (Editor) *

The Congress of the Rough Writers (contributors):

Anthony Amore, Georgia Bell, Sacha Black, Norah Colvin, Pete Fanning, C. Jai Ferry, Rebecca Glaessner, Anne Goodwin, Luccia Gray, Urszula Humienik, Ruchira Khanna, Larry LaForge, Geoff Le Pard, Jeanne Belisle Lombardo, Sherri Matthews, Allison Mills, Paula Moyer, JulesPaige, Amber Prince, Lisa Reiter, Ann Edall-Robson, Christina Rose, Roger Shipp, Kate Spencer, Sarah Unsicker, Irene Waters, Sarrah J.Woods, Susan Zutautas

 

* As editor of this anthology, I had the privilege of working with these amazing writers and helping shape this collection. 🙂


Chaos in Black & White

 

We talk, words spinning around each other like flurries caught in a gust of wind.

Eventually, our thoughts drift down and settle on the ground in a blanket of confusion.

With an incredible vocal range, we sing a song of misunderstanding. High notes, encapsulated in love, float through the air. Low notes, heavy with meaning, cling to our faces and hair. They are a jumble of uncertainty.

His world, in black and white, frustrates me.

My world, in greens, yellows, and blues, frustrates him.

We never tried to understand.

Now we do.

Only to discover we are mutually colorblind.

 

 

 

Flash Fiction Challenge over at Carrot Ranch

February 1, 2018 prompt: Black and White In 99 words (no more, no less) write a story that features something black and white.

 

 

Self Care

 

She looked in the mirror at the woman she swore she would never become.

A soft, almost-youthful face with fine lines.

A handful of grey hairs hiding beneath dark blonde strands.

A pudgy middle pushing the waistband of her favorite pair of jeans.

The image irritated her. Angered her.

How had she become this…thing? This wife of a man who created her with perfectly weaved words of manipulation and cruelty then cheated on her for becoming his creation.

Time for some self-care.

She grabbed the prescription bottle, smiling for the first time in months, and dumped her husband’s heart medication.

 

 

Flash Fiction Challenge over at Carrot Ranch

November 30, 2017 prompt: Self Care In 99 words (no more, no less) write a story that includes self care.

 

 

Flash Fiction Contest: TwitterFlash 9×11

 

This contest asks writers to pen a flash in 99 words composed in tweets: 11 tweets, 9 words each. Here’s my attempt (not an entry, just challenging myself for fun). First are the actual tweets, then, same story in 11 sentences (each with 9 words).

Psst…the tweets are interactive. Like, RT, or reply right from this post. Give it a go…

 

 

~~~

They find me. Crouched behind a rusted filing cabinet.

Gloved hands grip my bare arms, lifting me easily.

Shoving me into bright sun outside the hospital ward.

I run back, stumble, fall hard on the asphalt.

I reach for the door. I reach for him.

Balancing on my left palm, I almost make it.

With their heavy boots, they step on my fingers.

They laugh. I shout. They threaten. I kick. Dammit!

They grab me, make me promise to stay away.

Tell me he is sick and dangerous. They lie.

Then, again, so do I. They will die tonight.

~~~

 

 

Tweet some fiction, fellow tweeps. You could win $25. 🙂 Check it out here.

Flash Fiction Contest: When I Grow Up

 

This contest asked writers to pen a flash in 100 words from the perspective (and voice) of your 6-yr-old self about…you guessed it…”When I Grow Up”. Here’s my attempt (not an entry, just challenging myself for fun).

 

Potentially Right

I hear them.

I’m in the hallway at school, cuddling Oscar, my purple owl stuffie. I’m petting his fur. Owls don’t have fur but I pretend it’s feathers. And that’s okay.

Their voices creep from under the door with number 17 on it. That’s my classroom. Words like “simple” and “incapable” hit me. I pull Oscar closer. They say I do not understand things.

I don’t like coloring circles in red and squares in blue to prove I know the difference. I know.

I know trapezoids, octagons, parallelograms… I want to find a new shape, maybe, when I grow up.

 

Flash Fiction Contests

 

Check out the flash fiction contests this month at Carrot Ranch. They start today and a new one is up every Tuesday and Thursday.

 

 

Click here to see the information for each contest.

There’s something for everyone.

Pick one (or more) and join in.

Free to enter. $25 prizes.

 

Go write some flash! 🙂 #FFRodeo

 

Getting Busy on My First Date

 

His tie was blue. A nice enough color. The geometric design wasn’t all that unpleasant. A bit modern for my taste, but not obnoxious.

I suppose it could have been his shirt, with its burgundy basketweave pattern. But, if I’m honest, the whole thing blew up because of his pink paisley jacket.

I couldn’t tell if he was nice enough for me to look past his fashion faux pas.

When my sister asked how the date with her co-worker went, I shrugged, “I have no idea. His clothes were so loud, I couldn’t hear a word he said.”

 

 

Totally goofing this week with a ridiculous entry for:

Flash Fiction Challenge over at Carrot Ranch

September 7, 2017 prompt: BusyIn 99 words (no more, no less) write a story about a busy character.