March 19 Flash Fiction Challenge from Carrot Ranch

Hey guys, how you holding up? Are you in a place that’s under some kind of stay at home order? Today I feel a little more anxious about things but still hopeful. When I first started this post the states of California and New York were announcing statewide lock-downs. Since then Connecticut, Massachusetts, Michigan, and New Jersey plus five others and many cities are under similar executive orders. India, as a whole apparently, is also on lockdown. Still I pray and pray for relief, a slow in the spread of the virus. I pray for everyone the world over.

That said, I read a beautiful post by Charli Mills at the Carrot Ranch Dynamic Literary Community. She opens with evidence of a rabbit on her roof. I encourage you to read her post. Charli talks about our new reality and looking back on March 2020. How will you look back on March 2020? For some of you the change in reality came in February, maybe even January. We will all look back on this with 2020 hindsight. Oh my, how we did not know when this year started the irony of 2020.

In her post Charli shares their last day before the change as well as she and her husband coming down with symptoms. She shares with us their experience trying to get tested. Trying. Luckily it sounds like they’re getting better.

What I want to reflect on about her post is the topic of writing fiction. Many years ago I stopped reading fiction for about five years. I got it in my head that doing so was not important, not productive and well, kind of useless. It wasn’t a huge deal, it’s not like I was reading a lot of fiction anyways. No I just didn’t bother to read any novels. Done. I also thought that if I was going to be doing anything with fiction, it should be writing my own novel. Wrong. Writing is like any other profession, practice, craft, exercise, you have to study it. However, you don’t have to go to school to study writing, you can read books, novels and more. (By the way, I wound up screwing my head back on straight and have long been back to reading novels. 😉 )

Charli raised the point that fiction writers are practicing the truth, and I most certainly agree. We take concepts, ideas, ideals, subjects and explore them. We are like scientists of art exploring our subject under different conditions and constraints. We’re experimenting and testing our characters with magic or new worlds. We put pressure on our characters like life puts pressure on us. Have you seen the movie Contagion? That is fiction and yet, here we are. (WAIT I am NOT suggesting what happened in that story is going to happen to us, but in some ways and some places it has.) Think about the Jetsons and how crazy their technology seemed to us back in the 90s. And yet, I’m listening to the news right now on my Echo Show, having told Alexa to play CNN, having told Alexa to turn the volume to nine so I can hear it over the noise of the shower my birds are undergoing. I check my touch screen phone for 2pm news updates, a 14-day weather forecast, instant messages between family and friends, and I think about video chats. When today will I listen to my current audio book, the Name of the Wind by Patrick Rothfuss, on whatever device I choose? Art imitates life and sometimes I think life manifests from art.

via GIPHY

During this time of isolation and orders to stay at home we artists have a lot we can do. If you don’t have a current WIP, maybe now is the time to start one. If you do, push yourself to make progress, I know I’m going to. And as much as all of this is inconvenient at best, scary to say the least, and life-threatening at its worst, we can pull stories from it. We can safely take bits of terror or large chunks of hope and build stories. We can stamp this history into our archives, portfolios and futures. Use your feelings, the things your reading, the world outside and create something. Express yourself. (Quick example: my father sent me audio of him scatting (from the context of jazz) with some music in the background, including some drumming I believe to be his own. Time well used pops!) Of course we will never forget these times, but thankfully we still have some power to shape the future both as we stay home and stay safe and as we put our art to work.

Without further ado, here is Charli’s 99-word flash fiction challenge from March 19:

In 99 words (no more, no less), write a story about a rabbit on the roof. Or many rabbits. Why are they there? Explain the unexpected, go into any genre. Go where the prompt leads!

https://carrotranch.com/2020/03/19/march-19-flash-fiction-challenge-3/

via GIPHY

Alice and Janice Save the World

Alice sat atop the roof waiting for Janice. This wasn’t like her. Alice squeezed tight against the gable.

There came a high shriek. She twisted her ear listening. She heard the call and hopped out.

Janice landed next to her.

“I’m sorry Alice. You alright?”

“I am. You?”

“Yes.”

“Should I worry?”

“No. It seems we’ve started a movement. Others want to know how we, prey and predator, have forged an alliance. They want to help. This is how we will prosper in these times now that humans have turned their backs on the world.”

“Well done my friend.”

via GIPHY

Thanks for coming by and reading my post. If you want to read more of my flash fiction please visit my page Flash Fiction and Short Fiction. I’m trying to make more of a habit of doing the Carrot Ranch challenge as well as posting a flash fiction challenge of my own. You’ll find stories I’ve done for both at the above link. And once again, I really encourage you to visit the Carrot Ranch Dynamic Literary Community.

If you like what you read don’t forget to hit the like button and maybe even subscribe to keep up to date with what I’m posting. In addition to flash fiction I like to post about books I’m reading, read, plan to read (TBR additions, lots of wishful thinking there), writing stuff, and some rants from time to time. Hopefully I’ll have some updates or at least things to tell you about my debut novel soon. 🙂

Carrot Ranch Flash Fiction Challenge – Tapping

Please visit Carrot Ranch Literary Community and read Charli Mills’ beautiful post about the tap-tapping of spring coming forth in the Keweenaw Bay. It’s a beautiful lesson in gratitude even in precarious times. It’s true, that even as this pandemic crashes against us in waves of fear, spring is coming and it’s still beautiful.

My sister shared a post on social media in which the author of the post instructs us to go outside and breathe, plant your feet on the Earth. Ironically before I plunged into the rabbit hole that social media often is, I pet my dog and welcomed my birds to the new day. In doing so I thought about the fact that they – for the most part because no doubt they sense a shift in energy – aren’t aware of this pandemic. They don’t know and aren’t worried about its spread or how best they can practice social-distancing. This made me think about the world outside, nature. Nature always keeps going. It just keeps doing its thing.

Spring will not be cancelled. The birds will not stop singing. The flowers will not remain underground. The trees continue their energetic push to grow buds, flowers, seeds, and leaves. The wildness around us keeps on being wild. As I think about this, what my sister shared, and Charli Mills’ post and her friend in hospice making plans to see fireworks on the 4th of July, I think about keeping on. I think about how Charli’s right, there’s hope in plans. I will still make plans. I will breathe and take in the sun. I will plant my feet and salute the sun.

And I will try my hand at Carrot Ranch’s 99-word flash fiction challenge this week.

March 12, 2020, prompt: In 99 words (no more, no less), write a story that includes tapping. You can play with the sound, make it an action, or create something unexpected. Tap a story and go where the prompt leads!

https://carrotranch.com/2020/03/13/march-12-flash-fiction-challenge-2/

via GIPHY

Get Out of My Head

There was tapping around my house. I could not find it. Upstairs, downstairs, I looked in every room.

“What the hell!” One more sign I did not have control of my life. I collapsed in bed. There was movement behind the blinds. Tap-tap-tap.

I jumped up and twirled the wand, opening the blinds. Away went the red bird. It was vibrant, not the drab of winter. The sun glowed on my face. Green points poked up through the dirt. Birds whistled around my yard.

“Oh Little Cardinal, thank you for enlightening me with your tap-tap-tap.”

via GIPHY

Thanks for reading! If you’d like to participate in the Carrot Ranch Literary Community’s flash fiction challenge please click on the link at the top of this post. Inspired by Carrot Ranch to do more flash fiction work myself I’ve also started doing a weekly flash fiction challenge. Please click HERE to read what I’ve been working on. My challenges can be done at any time.

As always Thank You Carrot Ranch for sharing your great post and really cool challenge!

Carrot Ranch: Feb 20 Flash Fiction Challenge

I just have to say I really enjoy Charli’s posts. As she works up to the flash fiction challenge details in her post this week, she first shares how her thesis is coming along, the plot and plot outline she’s working on. This comes at a great time for me as I am a pantser at heart but have learned over the last few years that I really need to be a plantser, a mix of both plotter and person who writes by the seat of their pants. I can not survive on pantsing alone. Her words are like an arrow with a message to the center of my story board: plot & plot outline you do need.

Thanks Charli!

More on this later, but for now let’s take on this challenge!

via GIPHY

February 20, 2020, prompt: In 99 words (no more, no less), write a story about a library cat named Rainbow who escapes. Use this situation to write what happens next. Where does this e=situation take place, and who else might be involved? Go where the prompt leads!

https://carrotranch.com/2020/02/21/february-20-flash-fiction-challenge/

The Meeting

Rainbow waited behind the statue of the library’s patron by the door. She hoped Ms. Margaret would not see her tail and know.

When it opened she slipped out the door. The patron spun around alarmed but Rainbow was out and running down the sidewalk.

Two blocks away Rainbow stopped. She looked up and down the street. Then up the building next to her. A small red sweater in a window flapped in the wind. The door read “Phyllis’ Place”.

She waited for that door to open then bolted inside. The woman looked up from the desk and smiled.

via GIPHY

There you have it!

Writing prompts and flash fiction are amazing tools for a writer. I have undoubtedly overlooked these practices in my own writing. Brevity is not my strong point. Therefore it is in my best interest to write more with less. It’s so interesting to learn just how much you can cut without taking away from the story. At first I didn’t know what to write. But when the idea came to me there was a lot behind it. I just started writing. I had 163 words when I stopped. This was the most I’d over-wrote for one of the Carrot Ranch challenges so far (I’ll post links to my previous efforts as well as my new flash fiction challenges).

Having counted 64 words over I thought oh dear how am I going to cut this? In truth, I really enjoyed that part of the exercise because it taught me. If I were to write the story in more detail I would expand on what I have above however it’s not necessary. More so than not, my situational storytelling about Rainbow above conveys just what I need and want it to. It was cool cutting four or five words here, accepting that they really weren’t important. Or turning three words into one.

I keep coming back to the same conclusion: writing flash fiction is really good for me.

I posted the link to Carrot Ranch’s flash fiction challenge above but I’ll go ahead and post her main URL here as well. I encourage all writers especially to visit her page/blog.

The following links are to my entries for a few of Charli’s flash fiction challenges:

The links below are my own flash fiction prompts and works. I started doing this several weeks ago and will continue. You are welcome to join.

Thank you Charli for your inspiration, teaching, and motivation, and thank you readers for visiting and hopefully joining both challenges!

via GIPHY