All You Need to Know to Rodeo

The fun has begun at Carrot Ranch. It’s Rodeo time! Cowhand Christmas; Buckaroo Bonanza; Ranchers’ world wide write-off! The roughest, toughest, friendliest competition around. All kinds of fun and always absolutely Free.

Carrot Ranch Literary Community

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.


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…

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Talk Pretty To Me

six sentence story.jpgThe Six Sentence Story prompt word this week from Denise at Girlie At the Edge is “critical”. I had decided not to be too critical of myself for giving it a miss; it’s a busy time just now. But … Marge wanted the scoop on Ilene and Lloyd so…

Two segments follow, both six sentences and both 99 words. The first segment includes the SSS prompt word, the second hearkens back to a recent Carrot Ranch prompt– look for a pasta reference.


Talk Pretty To Me

“You’ve been silent on the matter long enough, Ilene, when are you gonna tell me how things are going with you and Lloyd?”

“It’s going real good, Marge, but I don’t want you to be critical, Lloyd’s real… special.”

“Oh, he’s special all right, you think I don’t know that? I’m the one that hired him out at the dealership, hell he’s worked under me for years.”

“I know you look out for Lloyd; I don’t want you to be critical of me. See, he works real good under me and vice versa, if you know what I mean.”


“Wow, didn’t take you long to put the rigor in his rigatoni! I thought you were going to slow down, be your own special someone.”

“Some things I’d rather not do alone if I don’t have to, Marge, besides, Lloyd is not at all like any guy I’ve ever been with. You wouldn’t believe what he has in his apartment Marge, floor to ceiling, stacks and stacks of books, even poetry, and he’s read them too, quotes from them to me all the time.”

“Lloyd’s literate?!”

“Lloyd is literary, and when he’s near his books he talks real pretty.”



Envision Whirled Peas

2493.jpgCharli Mills at Carrot Ranch can always be counted on to give a well written, thought provoking post and an intriguing prompt, always reminding us to go where the prompt leads. Charli’s world wide writing community continue to surprise her and themselves with where prompts take them. I am predictable in that I often respond first at Carrot Ranch with a “ranch yarn”, a response or summary of Charli’s post and prompt as interpreted by fictional ranch hands Kid and Pal. As I disclaim on the Ranch Yarn page here at ShiftnShake, these characters and their banter might not make sense anywhere but the Ranch, so they are seldom seen in my posts.

Writing Kid and Pal first usually gets my pen loosened up, helps me process the prompt so that I can eventually respond with a 99 word story or stories that are often quite different. This week the prompt led me to continuing with a bad pun that I used in the Ranch Yarn, though in a different setting. I am letting these two characters out here today to introduce my flash and to spread their message of peas, love, and Flash Fiction Rodeo.

***  2018-crffr-icon.png

All We Are Sayin’

“Yee haw!”

“Kid, what the tarnation you so wound up about?”

“All the Carrot Ranch celebrations! I was already gittin’ all excited ‘bout the Rodeo. An’ now there’s ta be a parade! I cain’t wait ta see all the flags from all over the world.”

“Flash, Kid, not flags.”

“And the food, Pal! Multicultural culinary curiosities from countless countries.”

“Uhhuh… Folks’ll likely serve food fer thought and fer the soul, Kid, but it cain’t fill yer belly. Don’t s’pect Shorty ta cook bacon either.”

“I’m hopin’ fer peas.”



“Why in the world?”

“Zactly. Let’s have world peas.”


 94_c1672e99-f187-410b-bb1f-ee7a2289b599_x700.png Good Fences?

Complaining about the bordering gardens, the new neighbor did an un-neighborly thing. He enclosed his property behind a fence, a veritable wall, really.

Thing is, the surrounding peas the others were tending throve. Whorls of tendrils covered the fencing; vibrant blossoms cascaded over the fence, their sweet fragrance carried on the soft breeze. There were many colors and hues, for the neighbors grew all sorts of peas. The new neighbor looked up from watering his monochrome crew cut patch of ground. Awed by the parade of color, he had a change of heart. He would give peas a chance.


September 20, 2018, prompt:

In 99 words (no more, no less) write a story about a parade working-template-for-ff-challenges67.png of nations. It can be literal, or it can be a phrase that you use to describe a situation. Explore what it could be. Go where the prompt leads.


What’s Cookin’?

“Ilene loves pasta.”


“Yes, Lloyd, pasta, and it’s real sweet if you cook at home for her. First meal I had with Ernest, he cooked up his chili lasagna.”


Ernest joined Marge at Lloyd’s truck. “That’s right, Lloyd. It’s how I got her to stay. Made her pasta.”

“Pasta. Epic. Thanks.”

Marge and Ernest returned to the garage. “I bet Nard’s taking bets.”

Lloyd unpacked his groceries, proud of himself for thinking of garlic bread and for getting not just one kind of pasta but two. He wondered which Ilene would prefer, Chef Boyardee ravioli or spaghettiOs.



September 13, 2018, Carrot Ranch prompt: In 99 words (no more, no less) write a story that includes pasta. It can be spagetti, macaroni and cheese, or any variety. It can be a meal or a work of art. Go where the prompt leads.

Yep, it’s a 99 word continuation of the Ernest and Marge series. See them all here, where this one gets an extra 40 words.


It was late when Marge pulled the garage doors down and made her way back to the singlewide. Ernest was still awake.

“Marge. Who won?”

“Who do you think?”

“You, of course.”

“Ah, Ernest, that’s why I love you, you always- ”

Marge, standing at the sink, paused in washing the nacho platter, her sentence unfinished. Ernest pulled the lever on his recliner, came to a sitting position with an abrupt creak and a bang. On the TV Mike Wolff from American Pickers waxed eloquent about a rusty old motorcycle gas tank. From the bedroom the window AC unit could be heard rattling and wheezing as it battled the humidity. Having suddenly developed a tickle in his throat, Ernest coughed lightly.

“Well, goddamn Nard won the pot tonight, and he was being a peckerhead too…”

Ernest stood with Marge at the sink and she again fell silent. He reached around her and turned the faucet off. Marge looked at the faucet, at the cheese ringed nacho platter, at Ernest. A lot had passed between Ernest and Marge over the past few months; a lot hadn’t yet been spoken. Ernest’s throat still tickled.

“I love you, you know Marge.”

“I know. Me too.”

This wasn’t the first time they’d gone to bed with the dishes left undone, but tonight it felt different.


This is the latest in the ongoing story of Ernest and Marge, a not so young couple who are finding their way.

In the Cards

working-template-for-ff-challenges591.pngHere is a second take for the Carrot Ranch September 6, 2018, prompt: In 99 words (no more, no less) write about an epic workplace. It can be real or imagined. Go where the prompt leads. Seems Marge did not want to be left out as she feels pretty strongly about her place of employment. 

In the Cards

The guys had circled their beer coolers for poker night in Ernest’s garage, where it was less humid than the trailer.

“Marge, I can’t believe you quit being shop foreman to work in this two-bit two bay garage. Left the largest dealership around- state of the art equipment, only working on newer vehicles-”

“Yeah”, chimed Lloyd. “Epic.”

“The work here’s actually more interesting, our customers bring us all sorts of mechanical mysteries to be solved. It’s more personal. And I got tired of babysitting.”

“Oooh, personal! Marge and Ernest up in a tree…”

“Like I said…”

“Epic”, Lloyd repeated.

*************                                      six sentence story.jpg

Of course as soon as Lloyd showed up to play it sure seemed like maybe he and Ilene Higginbottom needed to meet… So the second part is six sentences for Denise’s Six Sentence Story blog hop. The prompt word is “supplement”.


The guys looked up from their game, admiring the mint El Camino that came to an abrupt and dusty stop near the open garage, continuing to stare as Ilene Higginbottom sprang out. Lloyd was instantly on his feet and at the El Camino, insisting on lifting Ilene’s Igloo cooler out of the back for her, even though she protested, pointing out that it was just a little Playmate Pal.

“Yes, it sure is a delicate cooler, a true sign of a lady, which you surely are with your beautiful hair of epic proportions and might I just say that having you play poker with us would be a tremendous supplement to our game.”

“Supplement to our game, good lord, Lloyd, what’s going on, I’ve never heard you string together more than two words before, let alone use three syllable words.”

Marge informed Lloyd and the others that Ilene would not be supplementing their game, that poker night was a guy thing, that Ilene was only coming by to keep Ernest company.

And Ilene, swinging her cooler, did walk around the garage to the trailer, but with a long backward glance at Lloyd who seemed to be tongue-tied once again.


I just added another one. See what happens next in Unprompted.

Epic Bragging Rights

  working-template-for-ff-challenges591.pngOnce again I address two prompts with one flash.six sentence story.jpg

At Carrot Ranch the September 6, 2018 99 word challenge is to write about an epic workplace, real or imagined. GirlieOnTheEdge would have us write a Six Sentence Story prompted by the word “difference”. Here’s the mashed flash.


One woman told about her daughter the pilot- she mentioned three children that were pilots and one that worked for NASA.

A man bragged about his son the writer- she enumerated her journalists, published authors, and artists.

She shared her pride for her children that served in the military, fire, rescue, and police forces, beamed about those that had become nurses and doctors, spoke warmly of the children that stayed close to home and were good citizens.

Finally someone cried foul.

“You can’t possibly have so many children!”

“As a teacher I’ve made a difference for hundreds of children.”


Friday Fictioneers; Reflections

This 100 word story is for Rochelle Wisoff-Fields’ Friday Fictioneers photo prompt, photo courtesy of   © Nathan Sowers 


The old mirror was wrong for the newly renovated bathroom. Placed by the curb, it was sure to be picked up and appreciated by someone.

Did she imagine that? She looked at the mirror again; yes it reflected an old shack. She turned around to see only the well-landscaped gardens of her restored mansion.

A car stopped and the mirror reflected only the familiar gardens again. The old man thanked her for the fine mirror, asked her if she was descended from the original plantation owner. Said his ancestors used to live in a shack there where dogwood now bloomed.

Lil’ Ugly

The dust is already visible on the western horizon.  2018-crffr-icon.pngThose aren’t sleigh bells, that’s the
jingling of spurs; it’s Cowboy Christmas, that’s
right, the Carrot Ranch Rodeo is coming back in October. The slack rounds have already begun with Charli’s TUFF challenge, which continues through September. Check out Carrot Ranch for fun and free writing competitions.

The August 30, 2018, prompt is to, “in 99 words (no more, no less) write a story about a bottleneck. You can be literal or use the term to describe congestion. Go where the prompt leads.” I was led to a bull riding event at an arena where the riders are less supportive than those at the Ranch.


Lil’ Ugly

When he drew a bull called Lil’ Ugly the other cowboys laughed.

Bow legged, barrel-chested, with a bottle neck and a jug head, he’d always endured a great deal of ribbing. They angered him but could never get him to throw a punch. He disappointed his tormentors by just walking away. So in addition to picking on his looks they rudely questioned his manhood.

As he approached the chute the others wondered which lil’ ugly was going to be on top.

For a full eight seconds they stopped wondering, marveling at what he did with his bottled up rage.


At the Edge


They said the world was flat. They were wrong. Then they said it was limitless. She suspected they were wrong about that too. She wore the limitations of her world like a chain. Still she managed to steal away, to walk alone and explore her own edges. She instinctively sought higher ground. From here she could look back and see all the village. She preferred to turn her back on that view and instead look out to the fog shrouded sea, searching, waiting, wondering. Would the news be of return or of release? Cool damp fog stroked her cheeks.


It’s been a while since I have played with words in response to Sue Vincent’s Thursday photowritephoto.jpg prompts. I struggle more with photo prompts than word prompts and often the photos are simply too foreign for me. This photo did speak to me and that’s what it said, in 99 words.