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Susan Sleggs

Reflective observations to inspire conversation

Property Values – flash fiction

The elderly nosey sisters returned home to see a sold sign on the house next door. “Damn, we missed seeing who bought it,” Ethel said.

To their dismay two noisy Harley’s arrived a few weeks later just before a moving van. “Bikers! There goes the neighborhood. I wonder if they know their back yard connects to a cops. This could get interesting,” Maude said peeking out.

The next day the sisters watched the cop and his family walk in next door with a six-pack and a heavy picnic basket.

“Well there goes our fun. They already know each other.”

 

In response to Charli Mills prompt from Carrot Ranch Literary; In 99 words (no more, no less) write a story about property values. Perhaps its a home, business or pencil museum. What makes them go up or down? Go where the prompt leads.

Make It Happen

In this busy world, unless your relatives live in the same town you do, time to visit is often not a priority. It should be. I know, some families don’t get along all that well, but they are still family. My husband’s family has a reunion every summer and groups come from all over the U.S. for dinner on Friday and a picnic and dinner on Saturday. Yes, it’s expensive for those that have to fly and rent hotel rooms, but they share a bond very unlike my own family because they make it happen and stay close.

It’s custom in my house to have my adult children and their families come for Sunday dinner once a month. If we didn’t schedule it in advance it wouldn’t happen. My son works crazy hours so he looks at “Sunday at Mom’s” as his total relaxation day. I love to do all the cooking. We are lucky and only have one month in the year that there are two birthdays, so the person of the month gets to pick the menu. One month I  made chicken enchiladas to the response of my grandson, “Who picked that?” I’m sure you can hear the sneer in his voice. Other favorites are steak, marinated chicken, prime rib and lasagna.

Today my husband and I are actually on the road, traveling to Hoboken, NJ, for a family gathering. On our way back we will stop in Binghamton, NY, to visit two of my sisters, one of which is digging me up some ground sedum to bring home. That’s a plant. The other one is buying us lunch. It will be a quick non-stop talking weekend but at the end of it we will be caught up on the family news with lots of stories thrown in that never make it to Facebook or e-mail. When we get home our chairs will feel good, but we’ll have added to the memory banks and hug meters. The cats can feed themselves for a couple of days and I’ll get to see the New York City skyline up close and personal.

I hope you have a nice weekend too. Try to make some time to visit family.

Rocky Mountain Beauty

Idaho is dominated by the Rocky Mountains range and the Snake River winds its way through the rugged western border of the state carving the deepest river gorge in North America. Hells Canyon National Recreation Area provides spectacular views of the dramatic landscapes the Snake River took thousands of years to sculpt.

Fossils are prevalent and entire cityscapes of stone appear. The City of Rocks was encountered by native peoples, pioneers and modern-day adventurers. It became a kind of way-station or landmark for those who were westward bound. Today it is well-known as a  destination for rock climbers.

Inventors seem to like Idaho too. Beyond the list of patents for improvements to printing presses and railroad technology, Idaho is the home of the television. Philo Farnsworth invented the necessary technology that brought the small screen to mass market.

One of the famous people born in Idaho is Sacajawea – Explorer and Guide – (May 1788 – December 20, 1812) In 1805, Sacajawea joined the Corps of Discovery expedition with her husband Touissant Charbonneau and her son Jean Baptiste Charbonneau. As a guide and translator, the Shoshone woman’s presence signaled to others that the expedition’s mission was a peaceful one. I had no idea she died so young.

My favorite memory of traveling through Idaho was a stop in Coeur D’Alene for lunch. The restaurant had a wonderful salad bar with refrigerated plates. I thought it was a grand marketing tool that the plate receptacle cover was a toilet seat lid. Others in my group didn’t see the humor in it. That was about 35 years ago and I’m still talking about it. While eating we got to watch a logger running on logs in the lake outside our window. He was moving them around with a long pronged gaff. Of course we were waiting for him to go in the water, but he didn’t. It was quite the entertainment.

Getting to Know Famous People

Where would we be without biographies of famous people, and more so without the people who write them? I think biographies are so popular because we like to know what makes other people tick, or what adversities they overcame to achieve their status in life. We like to have the back story of how a famous person started as just another little kid in a poor town in the Midwest, or any other location or learn how famous sports stars learn to deal with throngs of admirers and spend their money, or what foundations they start to help others. The list could go on to include famous scientists, politicians, historical figures, movie stars, artists, musicians and teachers. I’m sure I missed someone. Continue reading “Getting to Know Famous People”

Pantyhose — Hurray

I am old enough that when I started wearing stockings they were held up with a garter belt. Nothing worse, except maybe a corset, which thankfully I never had to wear. A garter belt was on my dislike list because it often twisted, rode up my back, or showed beneath my skirts. Ugh! When panty hose came out they were a God-send though I can’t say they didn’t run as easily as the pair of stockings. I’m sure with today’s modern technology they could make a pair of stockings that don’t run, but then they wouldn’t sell as many so I doubt that will happen.  Continue reading “Pantyhose — Hurray”

Imagery of Cranes

The business man’s suit was very expensive. When you work in a fabric shop you can tell things like that. He was in search of cotton fabric that had cranes on it, not the machine, but the majestic white bird with a red crown. He explained the crane signified good luck and longevity in Japan where the new owner of his company would be visiting from. The fabric would be tied in a specific manner around a gift. The style of folding and knots more important than the present and the cranes a bonus. We enjoyed the cultural lesson.

In response to Charli Mills May 10, 2018 at Carrot Ranch Literary, prompt: In 99 words (no more, no less) write a story defining “the charisma of cranes.” For centuries, cranes have inspired art and philosophy. You can write a crane story or create something new out of the phrase. Go where the prompt leads.

May 10: Flash Fiction Challenge

Beauty and Diversity

I had the privilege of living in the Tacoma, Washington area from 1977 to 1991. It was a treat to be able to leave work in the early afternoon and in an hour be in the bustling center of Seattle, or on the coast in Westport, or up on a mountain logging road communing with nature at the base of Mt. Rainier. Add a little more time and you could be driving the Columbia gorge through high dessert in the eastern side of the state smelling apple blossoms (if it was spring). I miss the diversity of its beauty.

People say it rains too much in Washington, but if you look up weather information for western New York State, where I now live, it actually has more grey days than Washington. New York state also has diverse areas that are breathtaking to look at and visit but there is no sight better, to me, than the sun or moon appearing from behind Mt. Rainier. I used to drive to work at dawn and want to pull over just to enjoy the sight.

A few years ago my husband and I traveled to Washington to attend a live recording session of a jazz singer friend of ours, Nancy Kelly. It was November and the “mountain was out,” as the locals say, all three days we were there. Unheard of! I took him for a circular drive over Snoqualmie, Blewett and White Pass and back into Seattle. We experienced sunshine, rain, and blinding snow on that trip in just a few hours. Now he understands how you can have any temperature you want in Washington if you are willing to drive to it.

Seattle’s Public Market is world renowned. You have probably seen a video of the guys throwing big fish back and forth. Seattle is also the original home of Starbuck’s coffee. The first shop was on a side street between the market and the waterfront. You had to know where it was or you would miss it. Now there is a Starbuck’s on most every corner of the U. S.. When I have a cup it brings back memories of going to that first store.

The Army, Air Force and Navy are well represented in Washington. That’s how I ended up there, as an Air Force wife. The wife part didn’t last long, but my memories of living in Washington are vivid and happy. I hope you get to visit there one day and the mountain shows itself for you to gaze at. And, if my novel ever gets published, you’ll find the Washington setting is almost as important as any of the characters.

 

 

 

The Mentor Behind My Flash

Congress of the Rough Writers Flash Fiction Anthology

Charli Mills Interview

Charli Mills Interview

The Congress of Rough Writers is an anthology that showcases flash fiction from a diverse set of writers. What was your inspiration for putting this collection together?

Carrot Ranch started as a sandbox — an online place to invite other writers to play for the sheer joy of creating literary art. The weekly flash fiction challenges created a safe space for writers to explore and push into their craft 99 words at a time. Maybe it was Julia Cameron’s teaching that we can be creatively healthy as we gain experience. We created a literary community with diversity that blows my mind every week. It’s uncoached and has no expectations beyond meeting the constraint and boldly going where the prompt leads. The writers inspire me to work with their material in an artistic way, to show how individuals of different backgrounds, genres, and levels can collectively create a powerful vision.

I’m a little jealous because you got to work with so many talented writers on this project. What was the development process like in putting this work together?

Right? The Congress holds some amazing talent. That’s what made me think of calling them the Congress of Rough Writers in the first place because I felt like Wild Bill Cody gathering talented riders from around the world and getting to play with their feats. The development process included coordinating with Sarah Brentyn who developed the structure from my crazy ideas to pull together memorists and fictioneers and build from their original material. I’ve become enthralled by the challenge of putting together collections of 99-word stories, and it’s like a secondary artwork to me. Norah Colvin developed my ideas for building community and wrote a clear and compelling educational component. We had a great challenge throughout the process to uphold different styles of English from global writers. C. Jai Ferry line-edited the entire book and several other Rough Writers served as editorial advisors. It’s not easy melding world styles but we succeeded. It’s breath-taking to work with a large group of writers beyond submissions.

I enjoyed how this collection showcased stories that were only hundreds of words long but managed to inspire some thought-provoking ideas. What was your favorite story from the collection?

Just as any reader acknowledges, we often pick a favorite based on how it personally resonates. For me, that one story is Pete Fanning’s original 99-word “Normandy.” He manages to express what the combat veteran’s experience is like as he ages. The story gives me shivers every time I read that final line, “I was alone on that beach.” I’m a spouse of a combat veteran and we’ve had hard times. We are finally getting him VA care although it’s a fight every step of the way. As my spouse’s advocate, this is my battle. So, to read Pete’s story to a group of combat veterans and their spouses, there was not a dry eye in the room. This is the power of literary art in 99-words. Pete nailed it.

Do you plan to put another anthology together?

You bet! Right now, I’m working with 33 Rough Writers on seven new parts that will focus on what writers can do with serial material. We had several writers create returning characters or write follow-ups to interesting story developments in previous 99-word stories. I’ve invited these writers to craft complete three-act short stories up to three thousand words long. I’ve invited writers to write narrative essays to tell the real story behind a 99-word BOTS (based on a true story). Memoir expert, Irene Waters, will help me develop that section. Educator, Norah Colvin, returns to help craft a new educational component that encourages writers to use their material in clever ways beyond a single use. We are also playing with three acts by piecing together three 99-word serials. Instead of creating chapters from prompt-linked flash fiction, I’m arranging hundreds of 99-word stories into 10-minute reading collections and connecting the stories in surprising and compelling ways. And, because Carrot Ranch is about making literary art accessible, I’ve invited 26 more writers as Friends to respond to new prompts. Each writer will include a 99-word artist’s statement in the new collection. It will publish in November after a rigorous editing process. I’m so excited to be working with such talent and passion for literary art.

Links: GoodReads | Twitter | Facebook | Website

The Congress of Rough Writers: Flash Fiction Anthology Vol. 1 (Congress of the Rough Writers Flash Fiction Anthology) by [Mills, Charli, Amore, Anthony, Bell, Georgia, Black, Sacha, Colvin, Norah, Fanning, Pete, Ferry, C. Jai, Glaessner, Rebecca, Goodwin, Anne]

Witness great feats of literary art from daring writers around the world: stories crafted in 99 words.

Flash fiction is a literary prompt, form, and tool that unites writers in word play. This creative craft hones a writer’s skills to write tight stories and explore longer works. It’s literary art in thoughtful bites, and the collective stories in this anthology provide an entertaining read for busy modern readers.

Writers approach the prompts for their 99-word flash with creative diversity. Each of the twelve chapters in Part One features quick, thought-provoking flash fiction. Later sections include responses to a new flash fiction prompt, extended stories from the original 99-word format, and essays from memoir writers working in flash fiction. A final section includes tips on how to use flash fiction in classrooms, book clubs, and writers groups.

CarrotRanch.com is an online literary community where writers can practice craft the way musicians jam. Vol. 1 includes the earliest writings by these global literary artists at Carrot Ranch. Just as Buffalo Bill Cody once showcased the world’s most daring riding, this anthology highlights the best literary feats from The Congress of Rough Writers.

Buy Now From Amazon.com

 

Thank a Teacher

Do you have a teacher that made a big impact on your life? Is there one teacher you remember over all the others because he/she could help you understand anything?  In my experience most teachers do their job because they love it, not because they are getting paid well to do it, except maybe private tutors. Continue reading “Thank a Teacher”

Police Escort – Flash Fiction

When my parents arrived for my son’s birthday party, my father was red-faced and sputtering. “We couldn’t turn off the side road because a cop blocked it for almost five minutes while a line of motorcycles flew by.”

“Did a lot of the bikes have American flags attached and were the riders wearing vests with lots of patches?”

“So what. They made us late.”

“I think you missed seeing the front of the line. That was the Patriot Guard escorting our neighbor’s cousin to her funeral. She was killed in Afghanistan.”

“Oh. I guess she deserved a cop escort.”

 

In response to Charli Mills May 3, 2018, prompt from Carrot Ranch Literary: In 99 words (no more, no less) use a line in your story. You can think of the variation of the word meaning, or you can think of visual references. Go where the prompt leads.

May 3: Flash Fiction Challenge

 

 

 

 

 

Birds At My Feeder

It’s national Bird Day. I love my backyard birds. Feeding them isn’t very expensive for the amount of entertainment they provide. I’m always surprised when we have workmen at the house, or sometimes company, and they don’t know the names of our common back yard birds especially the brightly colored ones. I grew up in a family that liked nature so we learned the proper names as soon as we could talk. Continue reading “Birds At My Feeder”

Chocolate Lovers Delight

I was introduced to truffles at the original Dilettante’s Chocolates on Broadway in the Capitol Hill area of Seattle, Washington, in the early ’80’s. The delicacies were the size of a baby’s fist and expensive even then, but worth it. They were so rich and flavorful I would take a tiny bite and let it melt in my mouth before taking the next morsel. The Hungarian recipes were made with only the finest ingredients and you only needed one because it was nice to let the flavor stay in your mouth for a time.  Continue reading “Chocolate Lovers Delight”

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