“One of the first things we have to say to a beginner who has brought us his [manuscript] is, ‘Avoid all epithets which are merely emotional. It is no use telling us that something was “mysterious” or “loathsome” or “awe-inspiring” or “voluptuous”. Do you think your readers will believe you just because you say so? You must go quite a different way to work.

“‘By direct description, by metaphor and simile, by secretly evoking powerful associations, by offering the right stimuli to our nerves (in the right degree and the right order), and by the very beat and vowel-melody and length and brevity of your sentences, you must bring it about that we, we readers, not you, exclaim “how mysterious!” or “loathsome” or whatever it is.

“‘Let me taste for myself, and you’ll have no need to tell me how I should react to the flavour.'”

-C.S. Lewis, Studies in Words

Carrot Ranch’s Writing Contest I

Do you like writing contests?

Of course you do!

That’s why you’re sure to be hollerin’ when I tell you about Carrot Ranch‘s Rodeo! Every year, Charli hosts contests over a few weeks with varying themes.

Interested? There are prizes…

Here’s the information for the first one:

CRITERIA:

  1. Write a tall tale and exaggerate something that happens to someone somewhere.
  2. It can be fiction or fictionized BOTS (based on a true story) but must be exaggerated to the point it couldn’t possibly be true. It’s okay — tell a whopper of a lie as a story!
  3. It can be humorous, sensational, or melodramatic from any genre.
  4. Use original details to express your tale.
  5. Make the judges laugh or gasp in surprise.

CONTEST RULES:

  1. Every entry must be 99 words, no more, no less. You can have a title outside that limit. Check your word count using the wordcounter.net. Entries that aren’t 99 words will be disqualified.
  2. Enter this contest only once. If you enter more than once, only your first entry will count.
  3. Do your best to submit an error-free entry. Apply English grammar and spelling according to your country of origin style. As long as the judges can understand the language, it is the story that matters most.
  4. Use the form below the rules to enter.
  5. If you do not receive an acknowledgment by email WITHIN 3 DAYS, contact Charli at wordsforpeople@gmail.com.
  6. Entries must be received by 11:59 p.m. EST on October 9, 2019.
  7. You may submit a “challenge” if you don’t want to enter the contest or if you wrote more than one entry.
  8. Refrain from posting your contest entry until after November 28.

2019 JUDGING

Charli Mills, Lead Buckaroo at Carrot Ranch, will collect stories, omitting names in order to select the top ten blind. Please refrain from posting your contest entry on your blog. A live panel of judges from the Keweenaw will select three winners from the top ten stories. The blind judging will be a literary event held at the Roberts Street Writery at Carrot Ranch World Headquarters in Hancock, Michigan. After selections are made, a single Winners Announcement with the top ten in each category will be posted on November 28. All ten stories in each contest will receive a full literary critique, and the top winner in each contest will receive $25 (PayPal, check, Amazon gift card, or donation).

YOU CAN ENTER AS A CHALLENGE.

—–

Go on over to Carrot Ranch and enter today!!

The Weekly Terrible Poetry Contest

Hello, unsuspecting readers. Come! Come in! Welcome to the 46th Weekly Terrible Poetry Contest.

Ancient texts on bad poetry may be found in multiple tomes; including this one, here. Do not mind the bloodstains. Yes, that may be brain matter -but, most likely not human. Simply open the text and prepare your mind against what will arise from within.

  1. Our Theme, lucky mortals, is a poem of haunting. Specifically, write a recipe for a spell or brew.
  2. The Length depends on ingredients necessary and the language of your incantations (or, those of your Master).
  3. Some -say, of the Macbeth camp- choose to Rhyme their works. Although it may lend power to your process, ’tis fully voluntary to do so.
  4. In case you have not heard, Make it terrible! The ghouls, demons, and even imps of The Underworld (AKA Wal-mart) will appear from the depths of their hiding places (AKA the clearance racks) to moan and despair for the future of your poetic writing.
  5. The Rating may be PG-13 or cleaner.

You have till 8:00 a.m. MST next Friday (October 11) to submit a poem.

Use the form below to hide your identity for a week.

For instant fame amongst Earthly inhabitants, include your poem or a link to it in the comments. Do not depend on WordPress’ pingbacks alone, truly a work of those same Wal-mart imps we wish to avoid.

May arcane inspiration bear you to greater depths of atrocity.

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Photo credit: Image by loulou Nash from Pixabay

WINNER of the Weekly Terrible Poetry Contest

The world thought it had experienced the worst in pumpkin spice once cinnamon and cloves crossed over into Cheerios, Twinkies, and SPAM. If only the general population had anticipated this week’s terrible poetry…

Of which, at long last, there is a winner. And that is:

Spicing the Pumpkin

by The Abject Muse

Autumn aroma

fills the air with Halloween

making one nauseous:

too much candy and chasing

it with ten beers then puking.

Congratulations, Susan! You are the most terrible poet of the week!

Everyone who entered brought their worst. I had such trouble choosing from all the wonderful, beautiful, bad poetry. Susan’s poem won after my third reading of the entries, and my deciding it made me cringe the most.

Since the theme was a tanka, hers stood out as one that appeared to be a typical tanka yet was most definitely not. She made me think it a serious sample with her “Autumn aroma” beginning; but, by the end, we were puking. Great work!

Even more pumpkin spice is to be had! Read the rest of the poems below:

A Coffee Snob Tanka

by Heather Dawn

Pumpkin spice coffee
Is the worst kind of coffee…
When from Tim Hortons,
Or other fast food places.
But I like it at Starbucks.

—–

Something spicy in my pumpkin

by Bruce Goodman

Pumpkin spice! Pumpkin
spice! Syllable counting in
Germanic languag-
es is a meaningless pro-
position. It works in the

Romance languages
however, where syllables
matter. Which is pos-
sibly why we eat pumpkin
as a vegetable over

here, and to think of
it as being something in a
dessert is a fair-
ly repugnant thought! This then
is my triptych tanka. Yeah!

—–

Untitled piece

by Deb Whittam

Undernourished, the
Pantry’s bare, no there’s something
right up in the back
Relief … what is it? Let me
Reach … Pumpkin spice, hunger strike

—–

Love Tanka

by Joem18b

oh my dearest love
i want to give you my heart
but how to do it
rip it out hand it over
or sprinkle with pumpkin spice

—–

Pumpkin Spice (A Poem)

by Not Sheep Minded

Vanilla sweet spice

Pumpkin puree and whipped cream

What is that brown stuff?

I can’t be sure but It might

Be nutmeg or cinnamon

—–

And Then There Were Six

by LWBUT

“There’s a new spice in

town”. “I don’t want to hear it.”

“and it’s Pumpkin Spice!”

“So tell me what you want. ” “What??”

“What you really, really want.”

—–

Yuumy

by Ruth Scribbles

October oraange
English muuffins flavored sooo
Puumpkins grow on vines
Lattes and coffee oooh my
Hot Pumpkin spice soups are too

—–

Untitled piece

by Gary

sunset orange with explosive hot red
unsettling and overpowering
angry and sickly sweet arrogance
rule spiced by lies
sick of Pumpkin Heads presidency

—–

Pumpkin Spice, A Terrible Tanka

by Jim Sponseller

Pumpkin spice is great,

I mean it tastes really good

Add some to coffee,

Or that milky thing, latte?

Then drink it down, no regrets!

—–

Untitled piece

by Cheryl

Pumpkin latte eww

Pumpkin soup would be better

Pumpkin candles nice

Everything October likes

Carving a pumpkin is fun.

—–

Terrible Cook. Look. Worse poet.

by Richmond Road

Peel it. Slice it up

A cup. Of sugar or two

You. Boil it to hell.

For smell? Scented candles get.

Yet more spice. Pumpkin slice. Nice.

—–

Tanka about Pumpkin Spice

by Joanne Fisher

Pumpkin Spice is nice
I’m told by people who drink
overpriced coffees
I’ve never tried it and won’t
I’m too judgmental of them

—–

Hopefully, we’ve not put anyone off their favorite fall treat. Thank you to all the fantastic poets who entered; come back around 10 a.m. MST for next week’s prompt.

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Madame Abject Muse: D. Wallace Peach created this graphic that you can use (if you want) for a badge of honor as the winner:

Hilarious Baby Onesies (in the Meantime)

Whilst we all eagerly await the results of this week’s Terrible Poetry Contest, here are a few of my Amazon favorites for funny baby onesies. Admittedly, I specifically searched for ‘geek onesies for baby’…

Cutest Tax

World’s Cutest Tax Deduction

We’re having our baby at the best time of year for tax deduction purposes. We may as well own it, right?

—–

It’s a Crap!

Poor Ackbar. I don’t think he knew his catchphrase would stoop so low.

—–

I Just Boldly Went

For those who don’t know, babies need a lot of diaper changes. The theme may be crude, but it’s a recurring one.

—–

I Still Live With My Parents

Well, I would hope the baby’s a bit young to consider a mortgage already…

—–

Damn Lag Took Me Nine Months to Respawn

The gamer in me laughed and laughed at this one. Perhaps I also hear about respawning all the time in this video game household of ours.

—–

Storm Pooper

Well, I did warn you that babies poop a lot.

Have We a Core Personality?

My German grandmother wouldn’t allow a speck of dust to be out of place, let alone her own bedspread. “She puts a pin in the middle,” my father explained, “So the sheets and blankets are even.”

We sat for our Sunday visits in her tiny, tidy front room. I’d look over at my hunchbacked progenitor and wondered how she managed to keep so neat at her age, and in her condition.

“Don’t touch those!” she warned whenever we neared her knickknack shelf.

“Maybe you could play outside,” my mother sighed.

Outside didn’t promise much. The yard held long, thick grass but no swings or slides. The garden was dead; sprayed that way since Great-Grandmother couldn’t pull weeds. The dilapidated, warped-window garage was padlocked; forbidden. At the rear of the property ran a communal watering canal, also forbidden.

My pioneer stock great-aunt, on the other hand, kept a dog. She kept a candy jar. She kept roses.

“Thank you; thank you,” she told us as we pruned her roses. We tried to visit often enough to keep up on the flowers. She couldn’t bend or stoop anymore on account of bad knees, and I could see how it pained her not to kneel beside us in the lush, fragrant garden of bushes.

“Look, Shadow,” she would address her pet, “Some friends to play with you.” As the black poodle wagged his stump of a tail and slid after the old tennis ball we threw, Great-Aunt said, “He just loves it when you come.”

Both ladies aged and moved into care facilities. Both retained their manners and demeanor. “They always serve the same food,” Great-Grandma criticized the staff’s meals. “What a lovely card,” Great-Aunt praised our handmade creations.

I wondered, in my childlike mind, what made for the difference in my elderly relatives. Did my German one behave as she did because of her osteoporosis hunch? Did my rose-loving aunt feel happier because she took a strong dose of medicine for her joints? Or, was there a core personality in each?

What, then, was my core person like?

From what I could see, not good. I related to Mary Lennox of The Secret Garden, described as an odd little thing who did not get along well with people. I had a temper. No one seemed to like me -and that was fine with me! I cried easily, was stubborn about everything, and felt others ought to be forced to do what was ‘right.’

I saw myself in my great-grandmother’s eyes, yet recognized that hers was a repugnant personality.

Still, I seemed unable to change. I still seem unable to change. A counselor told me I could; that mine was a personality of years of learned behavior. My husband thinks I can; that my gloomy outlook is a matter of controllable perspective. I berate myself; saying I ought to be less sarcastic.

Yet, out it comes. Couldn’t dry wit and depressed sarcasm be my core after all?

I’m curious if this is the case with you, my readers. Do you think we have a core personality? What is yours? Have we the ability to change? Have you done so? How?

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—————-

I’m not sure my relations would approve of what I wrote last week:
Wednesday, September 25: Helped out the rising, driving generation with “11 Adulting Tips About Cars.”

Thursday, September 26: “The Darn Sock Connection, a parody,” a parody on “The Rainbow Connection.”

Friday, September 27: Winner of the Weekly Terribly Poetry Contest. Congratulations to The Abject Muse!

Saturday, September 28: Announced the 45th Weekly Terrible Poetry Contest. The theme is a tanka about pumpkin spice. Sniff some cloves and ENTER today!

Sunday, September 29: “Never Forget the Soap,” in response to Carrot Ranch‘s prompt.

Monday, September 30: An inspirational quote by Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi.

Tuesday, October 1: “Wilhelmina Winters, One Hundred Six.”

Wednesday, October 2: Today.

I also posted all this week at my motherhood site. I wrote “Make Time for Yourself (A Parenting Myth),” “9 Halloween Movies for Kids (Adults, Too!),” and “The Morning Menagerie.”

Photo Credit: Alex Harvey 🤙🏻

©2019 Chelsea Owens

Wilhelmina Winters, One Hundred Six

Question by question and sad, understanding smile by sad, understanding smile; Dr. White moved Wil and her family through the stillness of a world that had stopped as far as they were concerned. An occasional rushing sound of footsteps or the movement of wall clock hands hinted at an elsewhere; yet elsewhere, should it actually exist, was of little consequence to Wil anymore. In fact, had Wil been able to see beyond the mind mist, she would have found elsewhere to be more bland and colorless than the landscape within.

Hours and days and months and lifetimes passed behind the Emergency Room door. Dr. White finished. He pressed his clipboard of papers to an orderly pile. He rose. He spoke. “If you wish, each of you may say, ‘Goodbye.'”

They stared. Rob nodded first, then Jakob. Wil sat. Goodbye? she thought.

The grief counselor walked to the cloth curtain at the door, his white-soled shoes patting against the reflective floor. He paused before opening and looked back. “I will wait for you in the hall, and no one will disturb you.” Then, with a final, sad, understanding smile; he left.

Rob shifted. He stared at the floor and sighed. Turning to Jakob and Wil, he cleared his throat. “I… I spent some time with her this morning….” In a lower tone and glancing down, he added, “This morning.” Lifting his gaze once more to his children, he breathed deeply in and out. Resolved. Sad. “I’ll go first, then wait for you outside.”

Rising, clunking, scuffing, pausing; Rob reached the bed. He took a slender, pale hand in his. With his other, he stroked a few blonde hairs to the side. “I love you,” Wil heard him whisper. She saw the moment; framed it in her memories. Sniffing, sighing, looking heavenward; then clunking, scuffing, pausing; her father pushed the curtain aside. And left.

A rustle of polyester coat told Wil that Jakob moved. Had sighed. He rose, blocking the light as he stood there. Wil raised her head as still he stood there. Her brother sighed again and met her eyes. Both blinked, worlds away.

Jakob’s mouth became a firm line and his focus hardened. In much quieter tread than their father’s, he traversed the distance between chair and bed. Wil saw his dark form pause. He, too, reached out. “Goodbye,” he choked out, barely audible. “Goodbye, Mom.”

Before she knew it, Wil heard the *click* *clink* of metal hooks and the silence of an empty room. She was alone, alone with the woman who was once her mother.

 

Continued from One Hundred Five.
Keep reading to One Hundred Seven.

 

©2019 Chelsea Owens

Never Forget the Soap

“It happened again.”

“What?”

“The door.”

….?

“The door of the laundry room.”

….

*Sigh* “It hit me on the way out again.”

“Oh…” “Well…” “It’s just a door.”

“It doesn’t hit me every time.”

“Huh.”

“I’m serious!”

“I know! -Look, maybe you’re just jumping to conclusions.”

….

“Like, you know, that… say, air currents from a different door or whatever sometimes close that one.”

“On me.”

“…Yeah.”

“Never on you.”

“…Yeah.”

“Never on anyone else.”

“Yeah!”

“And only when I start a load at midnight.”

“Yeah! -wait; why are you starting laundry at -”

“And only when I can also hear whispering…”

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Inspired by my own laundry room experiences for Carrot Ranch‘s prompt: someone unremembered.

September 26, 2019, prompt: In 99 words (no more, no less) write a story about someone unremembered. Is it a momentary lapse or a loss in time? Play with the tone — make it funny, moving, or eerie. Go where the prompt leads you!

Respond by October 1, 2019. Use the comment section below to share, read, and be social. You may leave a link, pingback, or story in the comments. If you want to be published in the weekly collection, please use the form.  Rules & Guidelines.

The Flash Fiction CONTESTS start after this, so check them out beginning October 3!!!

 

Photo Credit: Ryoji Hayasaka

 

©2019 Chelsea Owens

The Weekly Terrible Poetry Contest

Greetings, mortals, and welcome to the Weekly Terrible Poetry Contest #45!

Sometimes as writers we take ourselves too seriously. We take writing too seriously. Poetry is the worst medium for that, attracting snooty nose-raises and accusations of not being in tune with raw Nature. So; take off the shackles of your beret, read my basic outline here, and live a little!

Here are the specifics for this week:

  1. The type of poetry I’m interested in is a tanka. Colleen Chesebro runs this form (and a few others) every week for her popular Tanka Tuesday challenge.
    A tanka is very much like a haiku, but uses the format 5/7/5/7/7.
    On top of that, our Topic is PUMPKIN SPICE.
  2. What’s the length? I already told you: it’s a syllabic pattern of 5/7/5/7/7.
  3. Rhyming is not allowed. Scented candles are.
  4. The most important part is to make it terrible. Madame Chesebro herself must apply to WordPress to have my site banned from the internet, burned, and buried with cloves to ensure we never attempt to write tanka poetry again.
  5. Pumpkins and their harvest seasonings can stay rated at PG or tastier.

You have till 8:00 a.m. MST next Friday (October 4) to submit a poem.

Use the form below if you want to be anonymous for a week.

If not, and for a more social experience, include your poem or a link to it in the comments. I highly recommend commenting and not just depending on linkbacks if you write one.

Have fun!

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Photo credit: Heidi Kaden