The Congress of Rough Writers Flash Fiction Anthology Vol. 1 or Flash Fiction: My (Small) Part In Its The Journey. #Carrotranch #congressofroughwriters #anthology

In my fourth ever post I tried my hand at flash fiction for the first time. This…


Harry dropped his gaze to avoid looking at Sally. No point; she didn’t know he existed. He looked at the dog.
Milton looked back; he scratched his ear before lowering himself into a squat.
“No. Christ. Not here.”
Milton held Harry’s gaze as he shat on the pavement.
“Great” Harry stared at the sticky turd. He patted his pocket. No bags.
Harry glanced up, wondering if he could leave it. To his horror, Sally was a few paces away. She held out her crisp packet. “Here.”
“For that.”
As Harry cleared up, Sally rubbed Milton’s head. “Cute dog.”

99 words, inspired by Charli Mills over at her Carrot Ranch. When I look at it, I’m struck by the following:

  • there’s poo
  • there’s a certain attempt at humour
  • ditto cuteness
  • but it’s silly, a morsel
  • no substance and it’s overblown
  • it could be written in 50 words, if it was stripped back
  • it doesn’t ask the reader to do anything

And it’s that last one that, I now think, is the biggest failure. It’s neat, self-contained, easy on the eye and on the mind. It doesn’t ask the audience to think. You can work out Harry is probably a young teen and Sally the object of his affections/fantasies. It’s unrequited. His dog could be a magnet but immediately lets Harry down. In the depth of his embarrassment he is rescued by Sally, proving he’s failed to recognise she is interested in him.

That’s it. No other questions, no unspoken dilemmas alluded to, no crises behind the simple imagery, nothing surging beneath the humdrum.

I’ve now participated in numerous Carrot Ranch  prompts; probably getting on for 150. I’ve been inspired, saddened, frustrated, blocked and found, the subject of flash-envy and prompt-epiphanies. And still I’m learning. Sportspeople talk about the perfect match, game, innings, but that is always an elusive goal. They achieve a perfect moment, a spasm of serendipity when the galaxies align but it is momentary, ephemeral, just dust, ungraspable. Flash, for me, epitomises that: it is so short, that surely perfection is achievable? But when I stand back, feeling I might be on the cusp of something special, something that will resonate, inspire and stimulate, I realise the target has moved. I’m left, perhaps, with a choice phrase, a piece of sublime imagery, an enviable tension, a dazzling counterpoint, a sumptuous hint – all of which are tucked away inside the mundane prose of the rest of the piece.

That’s what brings me – us – back, that’s what this flash game is about. Reaching and yet falling short, and reaching again.

My dad and I spent a decade, after he retired tramping along the long distance footpaths of Britain. And on many of those we climbed hills: bare, rock-cropped peaks and slowly inclining woods, river-cracked mountains and man-patchworked fields. And often we would peer ahead, at the tempting crest, hopes raised of some fabulous view, some beguiling vista that awaited us. Sweaty and straining we would pull ourselves up that last slope and lever ourselves over that edge…

And there, in front of us was more hill and another crest to be climbed. And dad would look at me and say:

Just another sodding horizon

And off we’d go. Always hunting the next horizon. At times I thought he was moaning but now, looking back, I recognise how much he treasured that enjoyment postponed. After all…

It’s the journey, stupid

The Congress of Rough Writers Flash Fiction Anthology Vol. 1 is one such journey, each page a new horizon in quality, ideas, approaches, hopes raised and realised. As you will see, dear readers…

The Carrot Ranch has a book out. I’ve contributed, albeit my efforts are modest compared to many of the others. Please go and have a look, maybe buy one and review it. The proceeds are all pooled in a good cause, to help writers.

Thirty writers began with 99 words. They went on to tackle a new prompt, extended stories, memoirist essays, and how to build a literary community with flash fiction. This is not your typical anthology.

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.

Where to purchase

The Congress of the Rough Writers Flash Fiction Anthology Vol. 1 is available through distrubution in 17 countries world-wide. Buy direct from our Print on Demand distributor at Book Baby.

Preferred Seller:

Amazon Global Digital:
Amazon Global Print:
For US Libraries (Baker & Taylor):

All profits from digital sales benefit The Congress of Rough Writers through a Travel Scholarship which is available by application to any active Rough Writer who needs help getting to a book or writers event. Profit from print books sustains the publishing and inventory cycle of Carrot Ranch Literary Community. Any excess profit is to be shared among the contributors. Any contributor to Vol. 1 can invest in their own inventory at wholesale cost and keep 100% of their profit.

About TanGental

My name is Geoff Le Pard. Once I was a lawyer; now I am a writer. I've published four books - Dead Flies and Sherry Trifle, My Father and Other Liars, Salisbury Square and Buster & Moo. In addition I have published three anthologies of short stories and a memoir of my mother. More will appear soon. I will try and continue to blog regularly at about whatever takes my fancy. I hope it does yours too. These are my thoughts and no one else is to blame. If you want to nab anything I post, please acknowledge where it came from.
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65 Responses to The Congress of Rough Writers Flash Fiction Anthology Vol. 1 or Flash Fiction: My (Small) Part In Its The Journey. #Carrotranch #congressofroughwriters #anthology

  1. Nice analysis, and wonderful anecdote about your Dad

    Liked by 2 people

  2. Annecdotist says:

    Geoff, I so disagree about your first attempt at flash – this story remains one of my all-round favourites. Yes, it’s as light as that crisp packet but we don’t always want a stodgy three course meal. It’s unpretentious and its meaning perfectly clear – a scenario we can all easily identify with. And that reversal is deeply satisfying (and for me unexpected) – not all great stories have to be profound.
    Other than that, a great start to the tour!

    Liked by 3 people

  3. Ritu says:

    Looking forward to reading this!!

    Liked by 3 people

  4. Norah says:

    I agree with, Anne. I think it’s a great story with a great conclusion. I also remember it from when it was first published, oh so long ago. If you judge this one so harshly, pity help all of mine. Honestly though, the anthology is a great collection of stories by many writers – you and me included – what can be more wonderful than that. (rhetorical – no reply required :))

    Liked by 3 people

  5. Since I am a humor writer, I believe humor is an end to itself. It doesn’t have to make people do anything except laugh, and that is important to mental health. I did squirm at the dilemma Harry was in when trying to impress Sally, foiled by Milton. Funny and relatable – terrific combination. I have just submitted my first flash fiction to the Carrot Ranch and published it on my blog yesterday. It is horrible but I was pleased with the feedback from the people who had nothing better to do than read it. I like the analogy of reaching for another peak and enjoying the trip. The book must be awesome. I’ll check it out.

    Liked by 3 people

  6. How lovely. I’m so proud of the work this literary collaboration achieves. Well done! ❤

    Liked by 2 people

  7. Reblogged this on and commented:
    The Congress of the Rough Writers Flash Fiction Anthology Vol. 1 is available through distribution in 17 countries worldwide. Buy direct from our Print on Demand distributor at Book Baby. Please read the post to get the address. ❤

    Liked by 2 people

  8. I just downloaded a copy 🙂 Well done to everyone – I feel strangely proud 😀

    Liked by 2 people

    • Charli Mills says:

      You should feel proud, Paula! The book is the result of the community — the writers, the readers, even the lurkers. Together we make literary art accessible. It’s not possible to expect art to only happen in ivory towers where we shred it in hopes that deconstructionism will lead to creativity. It never does. We need a village to spark and flame creative ideas, stories and collaborations. And you have been a big part of that village! Thank you!

      Liked by 2 people

    • TanGental says:

      Excellent thank you

      Liked by 2 people

  9. Mary Smith says:

    Well done. As others have said, I think you are being a bit harshly critical of that first story. The book sounds great.

    Liked by 2 people

  10. Pingback: Rough Writer Tour Around The World: Geoff Le Pard « Carrot Ranch Literary Community

  11. Charli Mills says:

    Geoff, I loved that first flash of yours and the very beginnings of a community coming together, having a safe place to explore and write. Often, what makes a collective brilliant is that not all the stories are “equally matched” from an academic standard. It takes on a dialog that is inviting to readers. It compels others to write. I’m glad to have you along for the journey. This is a nice view. Now let’s get walking to the next one! The journey is far from over. Thank you for a fine kick-off to our Tour Around the World!

    Liked by 1 person

  12. Jules says:

    Sometimes a person just likes to be entertained without having to dive deep for meaning.
    And any story we can relate to makes us feel welcome –
    Geoff, you’ve done that here – Thank you. ~Jules

    Liked by 3 people

  13. Dear Mr. Le Pard; with one exception, this was an excellent post. Carrot Ranch, as you know is a safe writers community, so lighten up on yourself and your fourth post and your first flash. Kudos for bringing poo in right away! And your argument as to why this flash stinks is not sound. Yes it is neat and self contained, and that is good. So what if I as a reader say thank you very much, that was a neat and tidy story? Sometimes I as a reader may appreciate that. And I might get all the nuances that you spelled out and yet might wonder what happens next, having been sold on the story and the characters. I might continue to chuckle at that way dogs have of looking you right in the eye as they lay a turd out in the shape of the middle finger. Your 99 words gave me that chuckle.
    Of course the target moves; we’re shooting skeet. Pull! No leaning on a bench, no zeroing in, the prompts fly fast.
    These early flashes in the anthology are from before my time, but I feel like this is our (Carrot Ranchers’) shared history. I look forward to getting and reading this monumental book. I acknowledge and appreciate your contributions.

    Liked by 2 people

    • TanGental says:

      You’re very kind and of course you have a point about the flash. The truth is of course that we always can do better and for me This now feels thin. But then again, being harsh on myself drives standards rather than, for some, acting as a block on progress. So thank you again but it will forever be an opportunity missed. On to the next prompt and perfection !

      Liked by 1 person

  14. Reblogged this on ShiftnShake and commented:
    What a long strange trip it’s been. The book is out!

    Liked by 2 people

  15. A very funny piece, Geoff, and a great description of your thought process. It doesn’t seem as thought the preferred link is available to me. I will have to do Amazon I am afraid.

    Liked by 2 people

  16. ‘Tis the journey indeed. Great post Geoff.

    Liked by 2 people

  17. susanzutautas says:

    I’m a big fan of yours Geoff and I enjoy reading all of your flash fiction stories even though I don’t always comment. I look forward to reading many, many more.

    Liked by 2 people

  18. I agree with your analysis of your first flash. That said, it’s well-written and delightful. Sometimes (perhaps a lot of the time) readers just want to be entertained. They want ‘neat’ and ‘self-contained’ and you’ve delivered. They don’t want to think about a piece or dig for a deeper meaning. Trust me, I’ve learned that the hard way. Not that I’ll stop writing. 😉 It’s a great piece, Geoff. I’ve always admired your flash.

    This is a lovely post and I’m proud to be a part of this anthology. I’m on a break as of now so, really, I’m not here. Just couldn’t resist stopping by for the launch of the, er, launch. Carry on!

    Liked by 2 people

    • TanGental says:

      Will do sergeant major! Thanks Sarah. As you know you’re my flash hero and inspiration, much as you hate that. It’s just a Burden you’ll have to carry

      Liked by 2 people

      • Flash hero! Ha! ‘Tis to laugh. You’ll have to share my burden, I suppose, as you are a flash hero yourself to me and many others, I think. (Thank you for the kind words. They’re nice to take out and look at on a cloudy, self-doubty day.)

        Liked by 2 people

  19. Norah says:

    Reblogged this on Norah Colvin and commented:
    I am so excited to be in the company of many wonderful writers in this first anthology of flash fiction by Rough Writers at the Carrot Ranch. Geoff Le Pard is one of those writers and kicks off the promotional Around the World Blog tour. Hop on board to meet others of the talented writers and find out to purchase your own copy of the book.

    Liked by 2 people

  20. Congratulations on being featured in this book, Geoff. Like others, I’m so glad you never deleted that first piece of flash fiction. Seeing and reading it has told me just how much your writing has developed since I first found you in the world of blogging. I remember the first short story I published on my blog. It’s close to my heart and I still treat it as I would a little baby. Every time I read it, it makes me smile. 😀

    Liked by 2 people

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