Just one of the guys at the shop, Marge was a hell of a woman. Marge did as much or more work and heavy lifting than the guys she worked with; she also ate as much, or more, and drank as much, or more. Confident and capable, Marge liked to claim that she “put her big-girl panties on one leg at a time, just like the rest and the best of them.”

It was a good thing, this matter of wearing big girl panties, for it was they that showed prominently after a bend-over for a dropped wrench rent wide her oil stained Dickies. The guys cracked smiles at ‘the rip heard round the shop’. They nodded and noted that Marge had indeed gotten too big for her britches.


unnamed-11-e1462409384457.jpg A six sentence story in response to the prompt word “ripped”. Click on over to Unchartered: Recording Life Under the Radar to read more or to enter your own.


The night quiet was ripped apart, jagged edged echoes scarring the dark. She, epicenter of awful knowing, lay quiet and still, struggling to keep from drowning in the echoes. Red and blue lights clawed at the windows, shredding the darkness, sending shadows reeling like banshees about the house. She remained frozen, unwilling, unable, to face what they would find; this time they would not come in and see her, always ready to forgive, holding her son, pleading with him. It was over; he had ended his addiction. Their Narcan wouldn’t bring him back from this shot.


unnamed-11-e1462409384457.jpg A six sentence story in response to the prompt word “ripped”. Click on over to Unchartered: Recording Life Under the Radar to read more or to enter your own.

Riding the Range

Rollin’, rollin’, rollin’… got my two wheels rollin’…

Carrot Ranch Literary Community

Raw Literature by D. AveryRaw Literature
by D. Avery

Charli Mills has welcomed me to the ranch but does she know that it’s a steel horse I ride? It’s likely she doesn’t care what any of us ride, is simply happy to have us ride for the ranch, but when I was in the saddle today it came to me that riding a motorcycle and writing are not so different.

‘Cars are cages’ say the patches on the leather jackets; motorcycles symbolize freedom. On a motorcycle you are out there, riding raw, having to be more observant and reactive and aware of your surroundings. Writers too step outside of the confines and illusions of safety, to take the world in and interact with it on a more intimate and immediate level. Both activities are often perceived as risky and challenging; writing is both. But with riding, there are ways to minimize risk, which may…

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Confessions of a Bibliophile

The Write Stuff

I like books. I have a few. Okay, quite a lot of books have found a home with me over the years.

I like books for what’s on the inside, yet I admit to judging books by their covers. A bad cover or title can be hard to get past.

I like real books, the ones that don’t have a lowercase /e/ or /i/ associated with them, ones with pages and ink, books that hold some memories of trees.

I buy books. I buy professional books that inform my teaching. I buy books that are recommended to me by others, or books whose author I know I like, or books that just seem interesting, that maybe leap off the shelf at me. I like to buy in local bookstores, and do. I also buy from online second hand book dealers who probably get some of their inventory from the brick…

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Wage War

“Jesus, Woman, those are my hard earned wages you’re spendin’ there, leave me some beer money, why don’t you.”

“I’m ‘spending’ on solid food and electricity, unless you’d begrudge such luxuries.”

“It just doesn’t seem fair. Just because I make more than you do doesn’t mean you should use all my money on the bills.”

“I already went through my wages this week trying to keep up with expenses. And if you want to talk ‘fair’, tell me why it is that you make more even though I’m the one that works two jobs.”


Wasn’t sure I’d make Six Sentence Stories this week, but this just in.


Story Hunting

On the trail of another flash fiction piece for Carrot Ranch. January 11, 2018, prompt: In 99 words (no more, no less) write a story about wet ink. It can be artistic, writerly or something completely off-the-wall. Go where the prompt leads. Respond by January 9, 2018, to be included in the compilation (published January 10). Rules are here. All writers are welcome!

Story Hunting

Recognize the spoor, that tuft of hair on the twig, blood like ink on the ground; this one’s been hunted before. It’s okay if someone else spooked it, if it crosses your path it’s fair game. Don’t follow too close, don’t give chase too soon. A direct approach will send it running. Same with your searching eyes; relax, over-focus and you’ll never see it. Trust; your quarry will reveal itself to you. The shot has to be well aimed and certain. Make sure it’s in the clear, ready for its own end, final and swift. There; there’s a story.


B’Ranching Out

Taking Stock

“Here we are, Kid. 2018. Hard ta believe we didn’t even exist this time last year.”

“Yep. Never thought I’d be thought up on a writin’ ranch. But ain’tcha worried we might a become stock characters, Pal?”

“Ain’t that a good thing? On a ranch an’ all?”

“Prob’ly. Pal, do you have a W.I.P.?”

“Ya mean like a bullwhip? I s’pose I do, or I could, what with bein’ a stock character an’ all.”

“No, a W.I.P., a work in progress.”

“Seems like that’s somethin’ could whup ya, Kid.”

“Yep. We got it purty good. Written’s easier ‘an writin’.”


Those two; Pal and Kid. A year ago they didn’t exist, at least I didn’t imagination they did. Now they are pretty vocal, but are at least restricted to 99 words, no more no less. They’re fictional ranch hands that work for their fictional trail boss, Shorty, at a mythical ranch, a blog called Carrot Ranch. I cannot reflect on my own blog without reflecting and maybe even genuflecting to Carrot Ranch and the fine folks that play there.

A year ago I only had a vague notion of what a blog was and how they worked. I actually wasn’t that interested. The internet was for online shopping and map-quest, period. But a year ago was also the winter of some discontent, and I started poking around, shopping for… I can’t even remember; perhaps a way to market my two books. I don’t know what my search words were or where I thought I might end up. But I happened upon Carrot Ranch, wandering aimlessly around the acreage of the ranch, where I discovered a flash fiction challenge prompt. It was February, that time of year when I prefer to stay in my burrow with my shadows, but I saw a prompt with a due date of March 22. Hmm… Sounds intriguing…Plenty of time. I would do it.

In 99 words (no more, no less) write about the idea of “just one.” If all it takes is just one, what is the story? Explore what comes to mind and go where the prompt takes you. Bonus challenge: eat cake while you write, or include cake in your flash. Respond by March 22, 2016 to be included in the weekly compilation. Rules are here. All writers are welcome!

All writers welcome… I wasn’t a writer, but what the hey. I had no idea what I would write, but had three weeks to think about it. How much is 99 words anyway? Was that a lot, a little? I wasn’t sure. I would try to get a head start, because in addition to the discomforting challenge of writing something, something that would be public, I also anticipated technical difficulties in actually getting my words into the machine and among the others’. So I was mulling over this interesting prompt, with no ideas in mind when I accidentally dropped a dish that broke on the kitchen floor. Flash! Here’s what I wrote, my first ever 99 word response for Carrot Ranch:


It wasn’t an antique, but I liked the look, Americana, sturdy, bean pot browns. When the bowl broke, its memories of clay were released. Picking up the largest piece, I smelled damp earth, that rich smell of spring that awakens hope. I read the bottom, still intact; Made in China. The glaze shone in contrast to the chalky white fissured inside layers of the bowl. I looked into these fissures, smelled deeply again, a smell of Chinese soil. Gathering up the shards of earthenware, fragmented continents, I thought of the connectedness of our one earth and wished it whole.


I had written, but now my nerve came into question. Who did I think I was? Were these 99 words good enough to put among the others’ writing? I mean there was some powerful good writing there at that prompt place. And the writers seemed to know one another. I knew no one, nothing. But didn’t it say, ‘welcome’? I found my way back to that blog with the horse and the carrots to peek in again, and that’s when I noticed what you might have already noticed. That wasn’t a typo up there; the prompt I wrote for was from an archive. I was a year too late; this is the first time this flash has been shown. But that one trial with 99 words, though a year late with nowhere to go, I have to say, hooked me. So I learned to navigate the ranch better. I saw, upon a closer read, that there was a prompt for March 2, 2017, and that’s when I saw that this thing happens every week! I let the One go and went on to the next one:

 March 2, 2017 prompt: In 99 words (no more, no less) include slag in a story. Slag is a glass-like by-product of smelting or refining ore. Slag is also used in making glass or can result from melting glass. It can be industrial or artistic. Go where the prompt leads.

The box itself was a treasure, with its iconic graphics and rich scents, the hinged lid bestowing sanctity. Inside were her rare and special collections, including molten glass, twisted and smooth from a long ago fire; and the purple hued, cratered rocks that were surely meteorites, come to earth from the far off spaces between the stars. Later, when she was older, she would also keep a small notebook in that box, a foundry where she tried to forge something of lasting value. Later still, though she realized it was all slag, she continued to treasure these precious artifacts.


 This would be my debut flash at Carrot Ranch, my first step into the blogosphere. I pasted my 99 words into the comment area, hit the post button, and panicked at my audacity, at this move I could not undo. And nothing bad happened. In fact I was made to feel most welcome. The regulars and the lead buckaroo, Charli, were all positive and supportive. I came back for more the next week, again marveling, as I continue to, at the depth and beauty and honesty displayed in Charli’s posts. I responded again. And again. I became more familiar with the names that kept popping up, I timidly began commenting and replying. I learned about blogs. I got schooled. A month in to flashing at Carrot Ranch I set up my own blog, a place for my flashes to live but also knowing that it wouldn’t be long until my two little volumes of poetry were flying off the shelves because of this public exposure.

That hasn’t happened. What has happened is that my ideas have changed. Instead of jumping into a http://www.pool of shameless self-promotion, I found a place of cooperation and collaboration. I don’t think so much about what I have written, because now I am writing. Maybe only 99 words a week, or maybe six sentences too, but it is done in the best of company, among real people that I now know as friends. Friends, sight unseen, but who take weekly risks with and for each other, introducing and revealing themselves through their writing, encouraging others with their comments and prompts.

In a guest post for Sue Vincent’s Daily Echo I said that

Maybe it’s time

In 2018

To get out to see

Get out and be seen.

So if there’s a new year’s resolution in this reflection, it’s to get out and about more and perhaps mix it up some at ShiftnShake. I am making progress already, as evidenced by having been invited to guest post at The Write Stuff, and by this very post here, a change from the usual smattering of flash fiction appearances. And I will continue to be inspired by Charli’s weekly challenges and to be involved in special events at Carrot Ranch, where I am now a Rough Writer. At the very least I’ll be over there trying to corral some characters that have started free ranging.

Stock In Trade

“Seriously, Pal, don’tcha think that D. Avery’s usin’ us?”

“S’pose, but what d’ya want? I mean we’re ranch hands and rodeo bums. We got a steady gig here.”

“Yeah, but still. Puttin’ words in our mouths…”

“Kid, she’s more afraid a you than you are a her.”

“Ya think?”

“Sure. I mean she has us do the talkin’, but that jest means she’s chicken.”

“Heard she used to use chickens in the same way. It ain’t right.”

“Lighten up Kid. Like I say, what else would ya be doin’?”

“This is a good gig, Pal.”

“Happy New Year, Kid.”


Happy New Year to all of you. Thank you for coming by and helping me grow.

January 2018: Times Past

This 9 months series is sure to bear some very interesting discussion and story telling. Another reason to read and write at the Ranch.

Carrot Ranch Literary Community

Times Past with Irene WatersBy Irene Waters

Unlike Charli scooping snow from her porch as the Lady of the Lake weaves her winter charm and C. Jai, holed up escaping the cold, I hail from the Sunshine Coast of Queensland  and our weather is glorious. Warm to hot days with inviting surf and river activities. Pools to fall into or exercise with noodle.  Sultry breezes blow at night and palm trees sway. It is a delight wearing light, possibly skimpy clothing. In other words, I’m having fun in the sun.

Reading this you may wonder what has this to do with Times Past. This is the present. Charli and C. Jai prompt me to think of the few very cold experiences I have had and they have given me an amount of understanding as to what it is like to live in a cold climate. As a memoirist I believe that from our past…

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Guest author: D. Avery – Why I should not be a Guest Blogger for Sue Vincent

Guess where I’m guesting? Who’s hosting my posting?

Sue Vincent's Daily Echo

Sue Vincent is big
I am not
A few follow me
She’s followed a lot.

She has a great site
And a great many posts
Entertaining and helpful
She’s a kind, generous host

My site is a shoebox
Hers a dazzling stage
I want for readers
Here readers and writers engage

I share little
a mere smattering of flash
Sue shares her adventures
And more, with panache

Someday I’ll have time
Someday I’ll do more and better
I can learn from Sue Vincent
Though I’ve not really met her

So why should I write here
If I’ve nothing to say?
Unless it’s time
To get out and play

Maybe it’s time
In 2018
To get out to see
Get out and be seen.

If you come by my shoebox
Lift the lid, have a look
There’s some responses to prompts
Some links to some books

I’m learning and growing

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