May 21st 2014 I wrote my first flash in Charli’s 99 word flash fiction prompt. Little did I know that Charli’s vision of a site that would make literary arts available to all would see me join the ranks of the Congress of Rough Writers, participating in a writing rodeo both as contestant and leader of one of the competitions and writing a monthly post on memoir. The biggest achievement has been the publishing of Anthology 1, but more about that in a minute.
I had found Charli’s site via a Bite Size Memoir prompt and found that as a memoir writer, writing fiction didn’t come easily, at first. Indeed, this very first flash was a BOTS, that is it was based on a true story that occurred when my father had gone to Sydney to teach for 3 months and my mother, brother and I were left in our house in the country, alone. One of the initial problems I faced was naming my characters. They remained she and he until I realised that here was a freedom not afforded by memoir (where the people in the memoir came with their own given name.) Fiction allowed you choose names that added an additional layer to the story.
Working to a prompt, fiction allowed me to write history, humour, fantasy, romance, murder, science fiction and to make a statement. Some were obvious such as What direction? and Our cousins, others were perhaps too obscure. That is okay. I learnt that we read from our own world view and as there were writers participating from all over the world we each had a different perspective. Our language nuances were slightly different. It taught me if you are going to write for a world audience that you have to understand these language subtetlies to ensure that most readers will get or feel what you are trying to impart. In all these weekly 99 word flash fiction prompts have been a great learning tool to enhance my writing, whether it be memoir, BOTS or fiction.
Reading the other responses to the prompt is a joy. It is hard to believe that the same prompt could generate so many different responses . In Section one of the anthology some of these prompts and the very different ways thirty writers have dealt with the subject are showcased. In section two some of these stories are expanded into longer stories and in the third section there are essays from memoirists telling how flash fiction supports memoir writing. The concluding section of Vol. 1 offers tips to other groups that are interested in using the flash fiction format to build a literary community.
Charli Mills, Series Editor, Publisher & Lead Buckaroo
Sarah Brentyn, Editor & Contributor
The Congress of the Rough Writers (contributors):
Anthony Amore, Rhode Island, USA; Georgia Bell, Toronto, Ontario, Canada; Sacha Black, England, UK; Sarah Brentyn, USA; Norah Colvin, Brisbane, Qld, AU; Pete Fanning, Virginia, USA; C. Jai Ferry, Midwest, USA; Rebecca Glaessner, Melbourne, Vic, AU; Anne Goodwin, England, UK; Luccia Gray, Spain; Urszula Humienik, Poland; Ruchira Khanna, California, USA; Larry LaForge, Clemson, South Carolina, USA; Geoff Le Pard, Dulwich South London, UK; Jeanne Belisle Lombardo, Phoenix, Arizona, USA; Sherri Matthews, Somerset, UK; Allison Mills, Houghton, Michigan, USA; Charli Mills, Hancock, Michigan, USA; Paula Moyer, Lauderdale, Minnesota, USA; JulesPaige, Pennsylvania, USA; Amber Prince, North Texas, USA; Lisa Reiter, UK; Ann Edall-Robson, Airdrie, Alberta, Canada; Christina Rose, Oregon, USA; Roger Shipp, Virginia, USA; Kate Spencer, British Columbia, Canada; Sarah Unsicker, St. Louis, Missouri, USA; Irene Waters, Noosaville, Qld, AU; Sarrah J.Woods, Charleston, West Virginia, USA; Susan Zutautas, Orillia, Ontario, Canada.
The Congress of the Rough Writers Flash Fiction Anthology Vol. 1 is available for distribution in 17 countries worldwide. Buy direct from our Print on Demand distributor at Book Baby.
Also available from:
For US Libraries
We’ve already stopped off at these Rough Writers, hearing how they came to flash fiction
Luccia Gray in Spain
Sacha Black in the UK
Ann Edall-Robson in Canada
Anne Goodwin in the UK
Geoff Le Pard in the UK
and there are more to come.
This is only the beginning. Carrot Ranch has expanded, now with over thirty Rough Writers, many more participants each week and regular readers and the compilation of an ebook from the rodeo, Anthology Vol 2 and another Rodeo in the pipeline Carrot Ranch is a vibrant , welcoming place for writers and readers alike. Charli’s vision of an inclusive community has come to reality. You are welcome to come for a visit – but beware – you may end up staying awhile.
So would I recommend this book – Yes I would. I am immensely proud to be included in both Sections 1 and 3. I learnt from my university studies that it is important to publish in places that will not harm your future life as a writer i.e. reputable journals, anthologies and books. I say I am proud to be published in this anthology as I believe it has been professionally crafted. You don’t have to take my word for that however, because you know I have possibly a biased eye. Instead read Charles Remmington’s review and make up your own mind…
Reviewed by Charles Remington for Readers’ Favorite
The Congress of the Rough Writers Flash Fiction Anthology Vol. 1 from the writing community of the Carrot Ranch. Edited by Charli Mills and Sarah Brentyn, it includes a broad sample of the group’s output of short stories, which are limited to 99 words ‘no more no less’. Participating authors are invited each week to write a 99-word story on a given subject, and some of the results have now been published in this volume, arranged in 12 chapters, each containing ten stories.
The subject matter ranges from ‘write a story about water’ to ‘history near or far’ or ‘a story which includes an angel’. The result is a strangely compelling, very enjoyable experience where these little vignettes transport you quickly from scene to scene in a dizzying array of place, colour, texture and emotion. The book also contains further chapters where authors have been invited to expand their Flash Fiction into slightly longer stories, how Flash Fiction can assist with various writing processes including memoirs, and how the Flash Fiction group was created, along with advice on creating one yourself. A fascinating book packed with bright ideas and worthwhile material. I was greatly entertained by the stories and essays and so taken with the idea that I thought I would give it a go with a 99-word review.
Stories of ninety-nine words, no more, no less, little gems from the Rough Writers of the Carrot Ranch. Like wild flowers in an early morning meadow glistening with dew and I, a butterfly or bee, flitting from bloom to bloom, immersing myself in a kaleidoscope of experiences which pass through my mind like an ever-changing dreamscape. Stories of love and loss, victory and defeat, struggle and gain from the pens of talented authors with backgrounds as diverse as their stories. A brilliant idea that has created an astounding anthology, one that you will return to time and again.