The Hermit

“You’re so boring, pops. You only sit there and meditate.” The young man pounded his fist on a simple table, rattling a knife, bread, and cup of butter.

The elder took the knife and buttered a piece. “There are many ways to glory.”

He growled, pulled on his cloak, and left.


The young man returned to the chapel, this time much grayer. His hands were manicured, his wallet full, his clothes fine. He brushed his hand against the rough-hewn table.

He crushed the land’s deed in his hands. He’d sacrificed a quiet glory, but what for he couldn’t tell.

This was written for the Carrot Ranch’s most recent flash fiction challenge, “rethinks the hero.” One of my Sunday school lesson series (back in the before times) was on contemplative life and meditation, and there we talked about the criticism that being entirely contemplative kept one from helping the world or other people. At the same time, contemplation isn’t terribly valued in a pretty cataphatic society. I wanted to play on that here.

Photo by Tobi on Pexels.com

The Rodeo Has Begun!

It’s time to saddle up and get in line, because the Sue Vincent Rodeo Classic is happening NOW at the Carrot Ranch! Writers will have the opportunity to support Sue Vincent, a stalwart center of our blogging community, as well as compete for a $100 prize!

That’s right – we’re trying to make this the biggest writers’ Rodeo yet and celebrate Sue Vincent’s work and writing in the process. On the Rodeo Classic page, you can find a beautiful photo (from none other than Sue herself) to serve as a prompt. Write a story of 99 words or a poem of 99 syllables – no more, no less – based on the prompt photo on the Rodeo page. Also on the Rodeo page is an entry form where you can put up to two entries for the contest. And don’t worry, entries will be anonymized – everyone’s on an equal playing field at the Carrot Ranch, even if you get some TUFF bulls to ride or horses to break! But don’t lollygag – you only have until February 19th to get on your bull and ride out the chute.

There are many ways to participate in the rodeo. Every Rodeo has multiple events, and the Sue Vincent Rodeo Classic is no different. In addition to participating in the contest and donating to the cause, we have multiple events you can participate in!

  • The Sue Vincent Reblog Barrel Race – Check out Sue’s website or the website she shares with Stuart France. Find a poem, essay, or photo that speaks to you, and re-blog it. Feel free to include links to the contest and make sure to include a comment on the re-blog!
  • The Great Book Parade – Buy and read one of Sue’s books. If you’re feeling adventurous, leave a review or publish it on your blog!
  • The Comment Riding Contest – The prize for this one is a fuzzy good feeling and the sharing of community. Like and/or comment on Sue’s posts, whether new or old.
  • Snack Stands – Share the contest on other social media such as Twitter, Instagram, Facebook, or others! You can definitely follow Sue Vincent on Twitter.
  • The Prize Ceremony – Winners will be announced on March 21st, 2021. It could be you, but even if not, come see what Sue’s prompt invoked.

See you on the Carrot Ranch circuit, cowfolk!

Come Ride in the Sue Vincent Rodeo Classic at the Carrot Ranch!

Sue Vincent is one of those special bloggers that inspires people all over the world. Personally, I have been touched by several of her #midnighthaiku posts. Not only does she write beautiful haiku, she includes her own fabulous photos to match. The haiku “Weep” is one of my favorites. Imbibe that and try not to be moved after the words.

Readers have long been galvanized by her posts about mythology, about ancient ruins and medieval churches, and her daily #midnighthaiku. Even more have participated in and grown as a result of her #writephoto prompts. In addition to posting her prompts, Sue has tirelessly supported other bloggers by sharing others’ responses to her 19,000 and counting followers.

Recently, Sue has been faced with a new and difficult challenge: lung cancer. You can follow her blog to find out more directly from her. The Covid pandemic has served not only to pose a specific threat to a person with a severe respiratory illness, but it has caused loss of human connection through self-imposed quarantine.

Now it’s time for Sue to receive something back from the community she’s been a cornerstone of for a decade. Let’s bring the Rodeo into Sue’s house through her computer, and let’s come together with hearts full of joy. Join us for the Sue Vincent Rodeo Classic at the Carrot Ranch – a contest, parade, and celebration all in one!
There are many ways to participate. One is to visit the prompt image, “Hidden”, at the Carrot Ranch. The prompt image and entry form will go live on Monday, February 1st, 2021. Enter a flash or a poem by Friday, February 19th, 2021, and you could win either $100 or a copy of one of Sue’s books. The form will allow you to give a small donation for Sue and her family, and a link can be found on the contest page. The winning entries will be announced at the Carrot Ranch on March 22nd, 2021.

If you’re not ready to rodeo, there’s always the “Parade”. Reblog one of Sue’s posts from any of her sites (Daily Echo or France and Vincent) with a comment about why you found it special. Follow her blogs. Read one of her books, then leave reviews where you can. Several people are already gearing up for the parade – so feel free to check out other people’s blogs for suggestions.

Also, go ahead and reblog, tweet, Facebook, or somehow otherwise share the contest! 99 word literary art is a fantastic way to celebrate a blogging hero and very deserving person.

Saddle up, everyone! It’s time for a Carrot Ranch Rodeo like none ever held before. The Sue Vincent Rodeo Classic begins on Monday, February 1st, and it’ll be a TUFF prompt to fit within 99 words. 
See you at the Ranch, buckaroos!

The Communion Wafer

The priest, exasperated from his loud and charismatic exhortations, bowed and wiped a bead of sweat from his brow. He picked up the cracker. “Lord Yarenth, bless us with your presence!”

As he broke the wafer, it turned black and fell to pieces.

Out of the bowl and over the priest’s hands spewed thousands of black spiders. Far more than there could have been wafers poured from some dark portal in the bowl.

“Save us! Lord Yarenth, we have sinned!” a woman in the front rows screeched, her voice soon drowned by screaming. The parishioners fought for the exit.

This was written for the Carrot Ranch flash fiction challenge, “unexpected.” Well, if communion wafers turning to spiders isn’t unexpected, then I don’t think I want to know what is.

For the first time ever, I think, I took a passage from a longer work I’ve written and made it into a flash. This was based on a scene from Manifest Destiny, the first novella in a trilogy of the same name. I’ve finished the novella and gotten through the first draft of parts 2 and 3, but 2 and 3 need such serious reworking that I’m getting through them very slowly. If you want to know more, hit me up in the comments.

Photo by Julia Volk on Pexels.com

Good News on the Radio

David wrote nervously at his desk. He scribbled numbers and added them to prepare other people’s taxes. The radio played in the background, droning out music and ads from a tinny speaker while David waited.

When the news came on he fiddled with a key on his ring. Bay of Pigs, Gulf of Tonkin, U2 spy planes: one day they’d go too far, and the red trigger would be pushed.

David was prepared. Years of food, fluorescent lighting to grow plants underground, a generator, barrels and barrels of diesel. Just give the word, radio, and he’d leave accounting forever.

This post was inspired by the Carrot Ranch Flash Fiction Challenge for September 10th: radio. I’m fascinated with preppers even though I’m not a very good one myself, and I love Cold War stories. So here you have it – a dastardly combo!

Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

First Flight – #CarrotRanch

It was our land which had the wind, the sand, the beach. It was here they assembled the pieces, here they first revved the engine, here they first left land. Here mankind first leapt to the heavens during 26 seconds that shrank the earth. Only five witnesses saw the first moments of mankind’s destiny, a destiny riding upon muslin, and aluminum engine.

Arise, children of Earth! Fly upon wings of intelligence and daring, upon the backs of bloody lessons learned! From a colony lost to the sky found, the Carolina coast is there.

Oh, and Ohio can suck it.

This was written for the obvious trap of a prompt from the Carrot Ranch, first flight. I’m from North Carolina, so how could I resist? My damn license plates say “First in Flight”, and the flight was conducted here. Screw you, Dayton, it was here we flew first. Not only that, but Sherman was from Ohio. Ohio is North Carolina’s natural enemy. End of rant.

Cadillacs and Crocodiles

car vehicle classic american

The little lady showed up at the pump riding a hot-red Cadillac convertible with ostrich leather seats. She put out the cigarette in her ash tray and told me with pouty, vermilion lips, “Fill ‘er up.” She got out and, with her crocodile-skin purse, went into the store.

While she perused the candy shelf and soda fountain, I pumped in the liquid at 10 cents a gallon lamented my paltry pay. Rich people, getting richer off the backs of us poor. I’d like to kick people like her down a couple pegs.

And she’d left her keys in the ignition.

Divider

This was written for the May 28th Carrot Ranch prompt, opposites. I chose Cadillacs and Crocodiles which, beyond starting with C, can come together as representatives of luxury (though alligator would have been better).

Thought I’d join in a prompt right now – don’t know how many I’ll get off in the near future, but this was good enough for now!

Late May Newsletter

Hello, all! I usually do my monthly updates at the beginning of the month, but this time – June 2020 – I decided I needed to do this update a little early!

Why?

Well… you’ll see. 😉

Dark Divinations is out!

DarkDivBanner Dark Divinations Horror Addicts

The first anthology I’ve participated in – Dark Divinations – is available on Amazon! People have asked if they’re doing anything other than Amazon, but I don’t think that’s available right now. Amazon’s the easiest and biggest market right now, but I know they own their own rights and ISBNs, so they could expand in the future if they wish. I’ll update if it changes.

But, in bigger news for the blogging folk, Dark Divinations gave me a great excuse to create new profiles you may not have seen.

My profile pic is now an actual picture instead of the ye olde Grandfather Mountain landscape you’re used to. Now it’s just sexy as hell.

Amazon Author Page and Facebook Page

The Dark Divinations team wanted a recording of us reading our story – and, if you go to my twoFacebook page (sorry, Chelsea, but I loved that term too much to not use), you can watch the video I made and hear a sample of “Miss Mae’s Prayers”.

But don’t expect much out of the Facebook page – I frikkin’ don’t like Facebook, and I feel like just having something on there makes me a hypocrite. Feel free to follow or share it around if you want (I don’t care), but I only plan on using it for truly official crap like when a publisher makes me or if it would really help the anthology out (like making the vid for their watch party).

And! AND! The same publication meant it was time for me to get an Amazon Author Page! It’s just got that anthology for now, but maybe – just maybe – that will grow one day! I’m pursuing the traditional publishing route, though, so I wouldn’t expect that to be soon.

Carrot Ranch Column

My new profile pic actually made a stealth debut in my latest Carrot Ranch column. Check it out down at the bottom!

into the past carrot ranch square

In this column, I talk about a powerful and underappreciated influencer from American history: Sequoyah, the inventor of the Cherokee syllabary. Ride over to the ranch if you want to know more!

Wattpad Journey: OVER

I didn’t make the longlist with my weirdo Wattpad story Our Lady of Perdition, but honestly I didn’t expect it. It’s clearly an adult tale with a ton of symbolism and metaphor that in no way works with the target audience (and, thus, the judges) of the Open Novella contest. I’m actually honored to have made it as far as I did!

So, if you want to read an approx. 20k story about WWII pilots landing on a really terrible island, you can go here!

Our Lady of Perdition

WORK

Ok, I’ll admit it – the big reason I’m not as available now is I got a job. A job making drugs.

I don’t think it will keep me away forever, but the initial push to get myself up to speed and doing well has taken quite a bit of effort. I can feel that stress of being new letting up, but it’s not quite done yet.

(Also, secret secret… I had a video game I wanted to play this month, so even my free time ended up going to complete waste, haha!)

Divider

What all sorts of things have you done this month? Anything you’d like me to check out? Leave them in the comments!

 

The Wood Miser

He had cut down the tree with a chainsaw, dragged it down the hill, and loaded it into the pile with all the rest. It was an oak of high grade – not quite a cherry, but good enough to slice into long boards and sell at a greater profit than the log alone.

The horses were already hitched in, so my son urged them to walk and turn the wheel. The bandsaw jiggled, and we loaded the log onto the carriage. A mighty heave of both man and horse shoved the log one step closer to a finished product.

Divider

This was written for the Carrot Ranch prompt, long board. I’m descended from a bunch of loggers, and my grandfather had used a horse-driven sawmill long past the time when it was typically profitable in the US. But he sold high-quality wood, and he bred good draft horses (Percherons).

A Wood-Mizer, however, is a modern, portable sawmill for small-business loggers. My dad wanted a Wood-Mizer for so long, and I can’t even tell you how many hours of footage of watching people saw logs I have been forced to withstand. Yes, apparently you could at one time buy multi-hour-tapes of people sawing logs.

Rock Concert

artists audience band blue

We screamed at the stage, the speakers so loud we couldn’t hear ourselves. Through the smoky, cocaine-riddled haze, I spotted the Wilson sisters wailing on their guitars.

“Crazy on you-”

I sang in return, mind spinning, body sweating, blood pulsing, lips grinning. I wasn’t sure where all of my pants had gone, and my wallet was probably surfing through the opposite end of the crowd by now. But it had no money in it anyway, and I lived in such a small town the police didn’t need to see my ID when I got pulled.

“Crazy, crazy on you…”

Divider

Do you like Heart? I like Heart.

Do you like concerts?

I’VE NEVER BEEN TO ONE. I had bought tickets to go to my first ever concert in August, but I like old music and, thus, listen to old artists who can’t be coming across the pond so willy-nilly in these dangerous times. So yes, I’m getting pretty bummed out that my chances of seeing Rod Stewart live before he dies are plummeting. So I’m taking out my anger by writing about concerts in the 70’s, whether or not the depiction is accurate.

Written for the Carrot Ranch prompt for April 16th, Crazy.

Photo by Jacob Morch on Pexels.com