Flash Fiction Rodeo Contest #8

This is it, the last ride of the Rodeo! TUFF: The Ultimate Flash Fiction by Charli Mills, Lead Buckroo, is live at Carrot Ranch!

A brief intro: ‘TUFF delivers your elixir. Yes, it’s called TUFF, a play on the acronym and the idea that it’s a tough challenge. It’s five steps, five flash fictions! Yet, it is a tool, a gift to you that you will understand because it will resonate with what writing flash fiction has already taught you.’

If you’re ready to write five flash fictions in one, then this is the contest for you. Deadline 11:59 EST November 6, winner announced December 26. As always, full details below, no entry fee and a cash prize!

This is the last of my reblogs for the Rodeo, which also lists all the dates for the winning announcements for all 8 contests. My ‘Murderous Musings’ winner will be announced on December 19, here and at Carrot Ranch.

I’ll be back here as soon as I come up for some air from the packing boxes and look forward to those long promised visits. And good luck to everyone ink deep in NaNoWriMo. It’s time to ride and write like the wind!

Carrot Ranch Literary Community

TUFF: The Ultimate Flash Fiction

by Charli Mills

What if I told you that writing flash fiction will get you to where you want to be? Would you scoff, or consider the possibility? Would you think I’m handing you a magic elixir? Ah, an elixir. Let’s pause a moment and talk about the hero’s journey.

If you answered the call to participate in the Flash Fiction Rodeo this past month, you answered the same call every hero hears: the one the hero reluctantly answers. We think of heroes as Thor or Wonder Woman. Yet, the hero’s journey calls to us all. Winnie the Pooh and Frodo and Mary Tyler Moore are all heroes. It’s about the path:

  1. The call: the opening scene in which the hero is called out of the ordinary world.
  2. The test: the story develops conflict through tests, challenges, temptations, allies and enemies.
  3. The cave

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Halloween Music And A Homecoming

In February, we put our house up for sale.  Nine months later and four weeks at the Goose Farm, we moved into our new home last week.

For five of those weeks, my cat Eddie had to stay in a cattery.  The owner there could not have been kinder and more lovely.  She made sure my boy, who is eleven years old and has never been away from home before, was well looked after.   I visited regularly which helped, although it broke my heart as time went on having to say goodbye to the sound of his plaintive meows.

I collected him yesterday, and as you can see, he’s already settling in on his familiar spot…and a quiet Halloween for him this year…

Thank you again to all of you who have shown such amazing support for the Flash Fiction Rodeo running at Carrot Ranch.  I was thrilled to host my Murderous Musings contest last week. For those of you sitting on the fence, you still have until EST 11:59pm tonight to enter! Judges Hugh Mike and I can’t wait to read all your deliciously devious entries.

I’ll reblog Charli’s Ultimate Flash Fiction Challenge after this.  Her final Contest #8 at the Rodeo is a corker.

Sharing emails about the contest (and again, thanks so much to Hugh and Charli for stepping in at the Ranch while I was otherwise assailed by packing boxes), I let Hugh know we had moved. I told him about a photo I had taken on the last day as I stood at the top of the stairs for a moment, wrapped in the silence a house holds in that strange space between hello and goodbye.

Sunshine blazed into the hallway below through the partly open front door.  Minutes after I took this photo, we walked outside, handed over the keys to the new owners and drove away, not looking back. I promised Hugh I would post the photo to mark the beginning of a new chapter…

And that was that.  Now to new things and hopefully some kind of blogging and writing through the unpacking madness, ha.

Meanwhile, here’s a special treat for you: A fantastic collaboration on the Halloween Theme song between two of my favourite and talented musicians, Liam John Norton and Nick Estrada.  I’ve shared Nick’s music here from time to time.  That’s him (yep, my boy…!) on guitars.  Enjoy…

Happy Halloween!

 

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Flash Fiction Rodeo Contest #7

Wouldn’t you know it. The same week I host Flash Fiction Rodeo Contest #7 over at Carrot Ranch, I move house. It was supposed to happen in July, but how else to keep up with my broken record/cliché fashion Summerhouse phrase, Better Late Than Never?

But more on that later, because today, I’m thrilled to reblog Murderous Musings: When Good Folk Turn Bad at the Rodeo.

Wicked wranglings of the heart?  Great. You’ve got until 11.59 EST 31 October to write a 109 word flash fiction weaving a murderous vibe through an everyday setting.  A shock twist wins bonus points. As always it’s free entry with a cash prize. Read on for all devious and dastardly contest details.

Huge thanks to Hugh Roberts and Charli Mills for holding down the fort in my absence (this in haste).  And huge apologies to D Avery for dropping the ball and not re–blogging her Bucking Bull Go-Round Flash Fiction Rodeo Contest #6, but there’s still time to enter if you gallop over today: https://carrotranch.com/2017/10/24/flash-fiction-rodeo-6/

Judges Hugh, Mike and I can’t wait to read your murderous musings and really hope you’ll join us. And look out for the final Flash Fiction Rodeo Contest #8 live next Tuesday with Charli Mills’ ‘The Ultimate Flash Fiction’.

Have fun everyone, see you soon and remember, watch your back for this one: you never know who might be lurking in the shadows at the Rodeo…

Carrot Ranch Literary Community

Murderous Musings:

When Good Folk Turn Bad At The Rodeo

By Sherri Matthews

Saddle up, tighten your reins and pull on your riding boots. And while you’re about it, watch your back, because wicked wranglings are afoot at the Rodeo. Western or English? Doesn’t matter. Thrown off a few times? Never mind. Devious, deadly or just plain dangerous, it’s time for some murderous musings.

Long fascinated with the dark side of the human heart, I read a lot of True Crime. Not for the gory details, neither for the whodunit: I want to understand the why.

As a memoir writer, I need to explore the true motives driving the story. I wonder how many of us ask ourselves, if truly honest, what might we be capable of if pushed too far? What would be our not so perfect storm?

But it never occurred to me that I could explore this…

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Flash Fiction Rodeo Contest #5

Time to Twitterflash at the Rodeo!  C. Jai Ferry’s 9×11 Twitterflash kicks off Flash Fiction Rodeo Contest #5 at Carrot Ranch. She wants us to complete a 99-word story using Twitter on any subject or in any genre as long as it is exactly 99 words and made up of 11 sentences of exactly 9 words each. Each individual sentence should be tweeted, one at a time, for a total of 11 tweets (plus one tweet with the title, if you choose to use one). C. Jai gives us 10 days for this challenge, deadline is Sunday, October 29 at 11:59 pm EST. If Twitter isn’t for you, why not enter your story as a challenge in the post comments at Carrot Ranch? And remember, there’s no entry fee, a cash prize of $25 for the winner who is then entered into the Best of Show with a further $50 prize. Read on for full details…happy Twittering everyone!

Carrot Ranch Literary Community

9X11 Twitterflash

By C. Jai Ferry

We’ve Passed the Halfway Mark!

We’ve made it to Challenge #5, and we’re still alive and writing, so for this challenge, let’s see how you do with some rather unnatural constraints.

Carrot Ranch writers are used to the challenges inherent in writing a 99-word story. Flash fiction requires a delicate balance between brevity of words and richness of story. Becky Tuch at The Review Review offers the following perspective on flash fiction:

Part poetry, part narrative, flash fiction—also known as sudden fiction, micro fiction, short short stories, and quick fiction—is a genre that is deceptively complex. […] Distilling experience into a few pages or, in some cases a few paragraphs, forces writers to pay close attention to every loaded conversation, every cruel action, every tender gesture, and every last syllable in every single word.

[The link above also offers some great insights from experts…

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Flash Fiction Rodeo Contest #4

Flash Fiction Rodeo Contest #4 ‘Scars’ is live now! Memoir writer Irene Waters asks us to write a double length Carrot Ranch flash, or 2 chapters of 99-words each (198 words total), tell a story that shows a scar. It can be memoir, other forms of creative non-fiction, any genre of fiction or a BOTS (based on a true story). Deadline 11:59 pm EST October 26. Read on for all details and submission guidelines, and as always, good luck one and all!

Carrot Ranch Literary Community

Scars

By Irene Waters

Welcome to Contest #4 of the Carrot Ranch Flash Fiction Rodeo. This competition is free to enter and carries a cash prize of $25 for first place. Winning submissions will automatically be forwarded to the All-Around Rodeo Winner which carries an additional cash prize of $50. Naturally you can’t have a competition without rules and as each competition leader has devised their own rules I suggest that you read those for this competition prior to submitting your piece. The rules follow the competition topic.

The Topic

As a memoir writer and reader I am very aware that it is the situations in life that have a massive impact on the memoirist, those events which leave scars, whether physical or emotional, that are the chosen part of the life to be relayed. As a flash fiction writer delving into fiction, a genre with which I have…

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Flash Fiction Rodeo Contest #3

Flash Fiction Contest #3 from Jules Paige live at Carrot Ranch! This is flash fiction with a difference: Jules asks us to use a form of poetry called a ‘Septolet’. Never heard of it? Me neither, but it looks to be a fun challenge. Read on for all the details and good luck one and all!

Carrot Ranch Literary Community

Septolet in Motion

By JulesPaige

Words are cast like magic spells. Some may debate the text in which such lessons exist. Religious works could be a type of Grimoire since often as children we are taught rote prayers that will lead us away from temptation. Other schools of thought may define Grimoire as a book devoted to just the teaching and instruction of magic and those amulets and talisman that would be endowed with gifting the owners with better fortunes. I quote this next line from the Wikipedia entry on the subject, “In many cases, the books themselves are believed to be imbued with magical powers, though in many cultures, other sacred texts that are not Grimoires (such as the Bible) have been believed to have supernatural properties intrinsically.

I would beg to argue that any book that transfers us to another world or jolts our imagination could be a Grimoire…

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Flash Fiction Rodeo Contest #2

Flash Fiction Rodeo Contest #2, Geoff Le Pard’s challenge Little and Laugh, is up and running live at Carrot Ranch! Geoff wants us to make him laugh. That’s it! Deadline Midnight EST October 13. Read on for full details and keep flashing!

Carrot Ranch Literary Community

Little and Laugh

By Geoff Le Pard

My father was a man of many aphorisms, epithets, old saws and clichés. A know-all, really.

But one quote he shared with us that not only stuck but resonated was from an American poet, Ella Wheeler Wilcox

Laugh and the world laughs with you

Weep and you weep alone.

Laughter, in all its forms has taken centre stage in nearly every phase of my life, from irony to farce, pratfalls to priceless, life-enhancing fits of giggles. Whether it was as a defensive mechanism or merely because I enjoyed it, I don’t now remember but I’ve always wanted to make people laugh. Over the years I’ve tailored my delivery, become sensitive to my audience and played everything and anything for a laugh. I’m one of those people who you can always trust with a secret…unless it’s genuinely too funny not to be shared. In…

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Flash Fiction Rodeo Contest #1

The Flash Fiction Rodeo Contest at Carrot Ranch is off! Contest #1 Leader, Norah Colvin, kicks off with ‘When I Grow Up’. Next up: The Little and Laugh Flash Contest by Geoff Le Pard on Tuesday, October 10. Enter the contest for judging as instruced in Norah’s post, or you can write a flash in the comments for the challenge only. And remember, entry for the contest is free with a cash prize for the winner! The deadline for Norah’s contest is AEST midnight 10 October. All the best to all the candidates!

Carrot Ranch Literary Community

When I Grow Up

BY NORAH COLVIN

Do you remember being asked this question as a child? Or contemplating it, even if you weren’t asked? Do you recall your childhood thoughts?

I remember having no aspiration prior to the age of ten when I decided I wanted to be a teacher. Although I loved writing, creating stories, songs, poetry and plays; writing was a part of who I was, an integral part of me, I didn’t consider a writer as something I might be.

It is often mooted that we are educating today’s children for a future of which we have no knowledge, a future we can’t begin to imagine. But hasn’t that always been so? Has any generation known exactly what life will be like for those following? While the rate of change may be increasing, change has always been.

Though it may sometimes appear otherwise, change creates more…

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Meanwhile Back On The Farm

Hello World.

Remember those first two words WordPress put on our About Page?  When, all shiny and brand new we ventured nervously, hands shaking as we hit the publish button, into blogland for the very first time?

Clueless as to what to write about in my first post well over four years ago,  I  blogged about my garden, my Summerhouse and, of course, my Robin.  Sweet Robin.

And so today since that very first post I say not, ‘Hello World’ but, ‘Hello Dear Friends’.  But I am also saying goodbye. Not to you, but to the way things were.

In early June, I signed off here to prepare and pack madly for our upcoming house move. ‘See you on the other side of the packing boxes,’ I said, or something like that.  Things were always going to be somewhat complicated with selling two houses (ours and Mum’s) and buying a place with an annex, but it seemed reasonable at that point to expect to be done and dusted and moved in by mid-July.

But…always that Big But…without going into all the logistics (okay…real reason: this is a public domain and I’d get carried away and end up with an expletive-ridden post essay book…), on the day of exchange of contracts, the entire chain of seven parties collapsed. Stress?  What stress…

What followed over the next couple of months was a pretty nightmarish time. The good news is that I wrote like the wind on my memoir.  The focus kept me grounded and sane.

Due to the utterly frustrating vagaries of our English conveyancing system, it is possible to go all the way to exchange of contracts (which usually happens two weeks or even less before completion (close of escrow)), without anything being legally binding.  Meaning, anyone can drop out, for any reason or no good reason at all, right at the last moment.  But the way it affects people’s lives is quite awful.  Enough said.

But then…on the Friday of our last Bank Holiday weekend of the year at the end of August, a miracle!  It was all back on and long story short, we moved out of our house last Friday.  One week ago today.   I still can’t believe it really happened.

Here’s where we are now, with the geese…

 

Oh I wish they were ours, but the truth is, we’re not out of the woods yet, not completely, with Mum’s sale and our purchase still working to completion to late October.

Meanwhile, we are living in our van not down by the river, but on a working goose farm.  And we love it.

Of course, we have our own Animal Farm to house temporarilly.  My beautiful black cat boy Eddie is at a cattery only minutes away so I can visit regularly.  Oh I miss my boy…but he’s settling down well despite in all his eleven years never having been away from us or his home. Hopefully he and family life will soon be back to normal…

The Chinese Button Quails are down to one.  Poor Mooncake has outlived all his wives, daughters and sons, his last wife (daughter?) having departed a couple of days before we moved.  We have Moonie with us, happy in his cage and awaiting a new wife as soon as possible.  Most people take their dogs camping. We take a Button Quail.

The farm cats have already made themselves known, fascinated both by Moonie and the inside of our van…

As for Grumpy Bunny, well, he’s at Aspie’s.  And not very grateful for his new circumstances, I might add, but he’ll get over it.

One challenge has been the internet, but that’s solved because I now have a dongle.  Yep. A handy-dandy dongle, ha! Now I can do stuff! A dongle is the cure on a farm with no wi-fi; hooray for mobile broadband!

My usage is limited, but I’m greatly relieved to get this post out.  It also means I can announce Charli Mills’ hugely exciting Flash Fiction Rodeo launching at Carrot Ranch next Thursday, October 5th…

There’s no entry fee but plenty of cash prizes, and it runs through October every Tuesday and Thursday, open to all! I’m truly thrilled and honoured as one of eight leaders to run my competition – Murderous Musings: When Good Folk Turn Bad at the Rodeo –  on 26th October both here at the Summerhouse and the Ranch:

All competition details will be announced in my next October 26th post. And huge thanks to my partners in crime co-judges Mike and Hugh Roberts who so kindly agreed to co-judge the entries! I’m getting pretty good at using that lasoo…

Check out the Event’s Page at Carrot Ranch for more details of all the competitions and the other wonderful leaders running them.   And the Rodeo Fest Kick Off Party goes live on Facebook October 3rd announcing the cover reveal of our very first Flash Fiction Anthology!

I’ll try to visit as my internet allows before my next post on October 26th (miss you friends!). And then let’s get our Murderous Musings on and have some fun!

Meanwhile, I’ll settle into our new life in our van on the goose farm. My summerhouse has gone, but its essence remains; I hope you’ll still share the view with me wherever this blog goes. And always, in rain or shine.

Today, the view looks like this…

The garden I tended and nurtured for almost ten years now belongs to another, but it’s not the first time I’ve left one behind.  And a new garden awaits.

We discovered a resident hedgehog living by the Summerhouse in the weeks before we moved.  Made sense when I wondered why the lack of slugs and snails this year.  I hope Mrs Tiggywinkle (or Mr…) will continue to enjoy life there…

And so it is…

Goodbye Sweet Robin in the Snow…

Goodbye pretty garden…

And, last but never least, goodbye Summerhouse…

But hello to new adventures. And perhaps it is time to once again say, Hello World.

Love Sherri x

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Friends Fun And Photos: #BloggersBash2017

Last year I called it Big, Bright And Beautiful.  And it was.  The Blogger’s Bash 2016 was all of those things.

So what do I call it this year?  I could call it the  ‘International Blogger’s Conference’ as displayed in the lobby of the  The Grange Wellington Hotel in London where this year’s Bash was held.  After all, with bloggers from Ireland, Canada and the USA attending, it truly was an international affair.

But I am going to call it this: Simply Wonderful.

So it was on June 10th, arriving in London on a beautiful, not-quite-officially summer morning,  I met up with Julie en route for a quick coffee. It was fantastic to see her again; we’ve both attended all three Bashes, real old timers, ha!

First of my mad spate of selfies with Julie Lawford

Just before meeting Julie, Sacha and Geoff happened to be walking towards me on their way to run an errand before the Bash began…what a great surprise! From then on, it was hugs and photos all round, all day long…

Sacha and Geoffle, sporting his lovely reddish/pinkish beard as has become Bash tradition…

Arriving at the hotel,  Ali greeted me with the most wonderful welcome which naturally meant a huge hug and it was as if it had been only yesterday when we last saw each other.  The same with Helen who I met for the first time last year…

Ali Issac & Helen Jones…no escape this time!

Last year, Graeme organised an impromptu pre-bash meet at a nearby pub, but this year he held one for, well, himself.  Can’t blame him, since the bash started earlier this year.  But next year…perhaps a Pre-Bash Breakfast might be in order?  Always great hanging out with Graeme…

And then there was Hugh.  Hugs galore! For anyone not sure about attending the Blogger’s Bash, I would say go just for the welcome alone.

Three years ago when I walked – late, as usual – into the very first Bash held around a table at a Pizza Express, not recognising anyone amongst the sea of faces, I froze.    Thinking, yikes, I can’t do this, I’m in the wrong place, I was about to head for the door.  But I heard someone call out my name. And there was Hugh.    Need I say more?  Blogging friendships are real.

And a lot of fun. Lord knows laughter really is the best medicine.  A joke about my purple shoes and who wanted to wear them and an incredible compliment from Queen-of-Killer-Heels Sacha who said she loved them – wow! – and taking away great fun with great friends is what the Bash is really all about for me…

Hanging out with Hugh Roberts and Graeme Cumming – my purple shoes unseen…

Then the Bash began!  Thrilled to find a seat next to Marje, we chatted nonstop.  I heard ‘Sherri!’ again and there was Sally arms open wide ready for the most promised of hugs.  I’ve known Sally since my very early blogging days four years ago.  I can’t believe I finally got to meet her and later, to share in her joy at receiving the Runner-Up award for the Most Informative Blog. Richly deserved, as Sally’s excellent blog is all that and much more…

Marjorie Mallon and Sally Cronin…big smiles and big hearts, both…

Sally…for real!

The day flew by with presentations given, awards handed out and announcements made, with several tea/coffee/water/G&T breaks (socialising being thirsty work) and lunch.  And let’s not forget an amazing selection of delicious homemade cakes on display at the back for the room from Ritu and Geoff…thank you both!

Geoff had a little too much fun playing holding the microphone as Hugh, Sacha and Ali gave their presentations…

Here with Lucy Mitchell is anybody’s guess…

Throughout the day, Sacha posted live on the Blogger’s Bash public Facebook page for those who couldn’t attend. Debby Gies, friend to me and many attending bloggers, posted a short but very sweet live video message all the way from Canada. Shout out to Debby and Tina – next year, right lovely ladies?

Suzie and Elena both gave informative and helpful presentations about ways to bring more traffic to our blogs. Suzie gave great tips for those wanting to monetise their blogs and Elena about the value of using Pinterest…

Suzie Presenting…

Together with Christoph , Suzie and Elena then formed a panel, inviting us to ask questions about blogging in general.  What came across strongly for us all is that the most important thing about blogging is not the numbers: it’s the connection with our communities and the friendships we form.

Last year I met Ritu for the first time and I was thrilled not only to see her again and have time for a quick chat, but also to congratulate her when she won Best Overall Blog

Ritu gets her well deserved Best Overall Blog Award from Sacha and Geoff…and of course a great big hug…

Many congratulations to all the Award winners!  You can find the full list of winners here at Sacha’s blog.  Also to Ellen, winner of the ‘Connections’ writing competition with her beautiful story.  Noelle  and Steve were runners-up and you can read all three great stories here.

Joy and laughter and celebration filled the room, and of course, I carried on clicking away…

Ellen Best and Julie… great to meet Ellen for the first time…

Ritu Winner!

As always with these events, I was sorry not to be able to chat with everyone.  But I did get a hug with Shelley and it was nice to see Lance there again.  Great to catch up with ‘old’ friends  Mary and  Sue, and meet new friends  Willow, Eloise, Jessica, Adam, Jo, and Alexina.

Great to meet Jo…and still chatting to Marje…

It was great to meet Alli who came all the way from North Carolina.  Always keen to talk to a ‘fellow’ American about my other ‘home’, I hope I didn’t ramble on too long…

Allie Potts…welcome to England!

By coincidence, Allie had a FaceTime session going with Sarah as I walked by, so I got to say hello to her too in the States.

And there it is, BB 2017.  Too soon, it was all over and we said our goodbyes.  But do not fear, because it’s all happening again.  On June 9th 2018 to be exact.  Sacha’s blog will have all the updates starting soon I’m sure.

If you want to read more about the Bash, check out the BB public Facebook page and the hashtag #BloggersBash2017 on Twitter for lots more great photos, videos and write-ups.

Also, and very importantly, Hugh, as he does every year, has made a wonderful video of the day, now live on his blog.  Waving to Charli and Norah, Irene, Anne, Sarah and all the gang at Carrot Ranch, and thanking those of you who still read my blog even though I’m barely here these days,  it was great to share the day with friends near and far…

And finally, a huge thank you to the Blogger’s Bash Committee: Sacha, Ali, Geoff and Hugh, for once again making this event so successful, enjoyable and fun. Thank you so much for all your hard work and excellent organisation making such a terrific event possible.

Great Day, Great People.  Simply Wonderful.

Goodbye BB…see you next year!

Hi and Goodbye until next year from Sally and Ritu and me!

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