March Story Chat: “Wanda-Lust” @daveryshiftn, @Charli_Mills, @HughRoberts05, @cathincade, @Annecdotist, @geofflepard

Welcome to March Story Chat

This month we have a special guest who has done more to publicize Story Chat and attract and support “real authors,” if I may quote him, than I have.

I am super honored to introduce A. Kid and his friends Pal and Curley to my friends in the Always Write Community. His handler, D. Avery, was a little nervous about letting him loose, but here he is. Please welcome, A. Kid from the Carrot Ranch Saddle-Up Saloon.

Story Chat
Friends sit around the table discussing the latest unpublished short-story.

*The followin’ is a fictionalized account of a fictional tale writ by a fictional character on a local worldwide virtual ranch.*

“Wanda-lust”

by A. Kid

Story Chat Wanda Lust

“Kid, come quick. Shorty’s called a meetin’ a some sort over ta the cookhouse.”

“Meat’n what, Pal? Eggs? Better not be eggs an’ bacon. Ya know I ain’t never eatin’ bacon agin now that I have my pet puglet Curly.”

“This here’s a meetin’ a the minds, ain’t ‘bout breakfist er fillin’ yer pie-hole. Now git goin’.”

I got goin’ ‘cause Shorty’s the boss, though truth is she ain’t very bossy at all. Somethin’ was up. With my pink puglet taggin’ at my heels I followed my pal Pal ta the cookhouse.

We went in an’ set down at the plank table where Shorty was, an’ settin’ next ta her was Ernie, formerly Ornery Ernie, but he’s mellowed consider’bly lately. My frien’ Pepe LeGume an’ even his wife Loggatha was there an’ a course Aussie an’ Doc Ranger was there too, along with Tip and Top. T’day the Lemmon brothers’d left the sparkle an’ stilettos in the bunkhouse, was dressed fer ranch work.

An’ jist then Frankie burst through the door. Actchally she walked inta it, then come through it, her head turned so she could see the opening better with her one good eye. I could see her faithful hoss, Burt, drinkin’ from the water trough. But when I noticed that she’d stood up ta talk, I give Shorty my full attenshun.

“It’s good ta see so many a y’all here an’ a good thing this is all fiction,” Shorty began. “’Cause Carrot Ranch is a safe space fer real folks, but the fictional fact a this story is— Wanda’s been kidnapped.”

At that proclamation Ernie howled like a sad ol’ coyote. Ain’t gonna lie ta ya. First thought was Wanda’d done wandered away agin, ‘count a her nut-orious Wanda-lust. But some folks figgered Wanda an’ Ernie was back permanent since he give up drink an’ was workin’ on his inner calm.

“Whut makes ya think it were a kidnappin’?” Pal asked.

“She’s been gone a while, an’ nowhere’s ta go,” says Ernie. “An’ if it were her Wanda-lust she’d a left a note; she always leaves a note.”

“Really? What’s her notes say?”

“Say, ‘I’m wand’rin’ off ta pick up a nuther man.’ She kin do thet too, she’s mighty strong. Kin haul full kegs a corn liquor ‘thout no hep.”

Then ol’ Ernie howled agin, broke down ta blubberin’ what with his fond ‘membrances a his b’loved Wanda.

“All right, git yersef t’gether Ernie. I’m gonna depatize all a you characters so’s ya kin git out there an’ solve this mystery.”

When Shorty said that the cookhouse erupted in questions. Was Shorty a sheriff? Would we git badges? An’ was it okay ta say posse? The Poet Lariat ‘lowed as how if there’s been a crime it’d git solved in time. Aussie an’ Doc Ranger got inta it over the finer points a genre an’ tropes an sech, couldn’t jist leave it at “mystery”.

Finally Shorty got us all reined in. “Ernie,” she said, “Ya gotta give ever’one a description a Wanda.”

“Well, her hair’s like corn silk.”

“Jeez, Ernie. Kin ya be more ‘zact? Green corn or dry corn?”

“Fall corn, when the silk is still a bit soft but’s turned brown, too turned ta eat fresh, but still too green ta smoke.”

All the fictional ranch hands nodded their heads. They could see an’ even feel hair like that.

Ernie continued. “She wears a pale green dress, with hints a yeller. She’s purty husky but with stalky legs.”

“D’ya mean ‘stocky’?”

“Nope, stalky, thin as rails.”

Well, I’ve seen Wanda, so I kin tell ya there wuz more’n a kernel a truth ta Ernie’s discription.

Jist as we wuz all d’putized an’ ready ta head out we heard a c’motion outside, an’ more howlin’ an’ bayin’ but it weren’t Ernie. Slim Chance had arrived with some a his best hounds. I wuz gonna give ‘im what fer, tell Slim he could slither on back ta the Slim Chance Ranch, we didn’t need his hep, but you know Shorty. She said all were welcome at Carrot Ranch an’ thanked ‘im fer his willin’ness ta hep. An’ I r’flected that mebbe I was still feelin’ a fool fer takin’ a pig ‘stead a a puppy from Slim, thinkin’ it were a puglet. Well, I love that little puglet, an’ mebbe Curly could save the day an’ show up Slim’s prize houn’s.

I rousted Curly who was asleep at my feet. I was gittin’ a gut feelin’, not like what Pepe gits, more of a inner promptin’ an’ one thing I picked up on at Carrot Ranch is ta go where the prompt leads.

The others rode out, all over the ranch. Pal went ta the saloon, said he wanted ta make sure Wanda wasn’t holed up there. The Poet Lariat went ta the poets’ tree. Shorty went off ta make sure Nanjo Castille an’ Monreal Dorb weren’t behin’ these strange an’ sketchy events. Slim, in what ta me seemed a bit of a cliché, headed fer the hills behin’ his bayin’ houn’s.

When the dust settled it was jist me an’ Curly, both lookin’ thoughtful, though truth is, she was thinkin’ ‘bout breakfist. I weren’t gonna take the time an’ as I started ta tell my little pig this news, my little pig started off, hoofin’ it back ta the barn. I followed, goin’ where the pig led. Curly, her little curly tail a’waggin’, went this way an’ that, sniffin’ an’ gruntin’. Fin’ly she stopped front a the hay wagon, jist kep waggin’ that curly tail a hers. Waggin’ an’ waggin’ in front a the wagon.

Then she squealed.

Story Chat Wanda Lust

But wait! It weren’t Curly! Yep, it was Wanda. Her head popped up outta the loose hay on the wagon, an’ her eyes popped like corn when she saw us. Then Curly did squeal, ‘cause truth is, Wanda smells like corn, which is why Curly tracked her down.

They say two heads is better then one an’ sure ‘nough a secon’ head come up outta the hay, but I didn’t rec’nize the wispy fella. A stranger! Then I ‘membered a spooky story, a skeery thing happened ta Pal. This was that character Pal’d come across, the one’d never been brought ta life; was unwrit, hauntin’ the ranch. Kin ya ‘magine, a poor un’magined character jist waitin’ fer a story?

Well I musta said that last sen’ence out loud, ‘cause Wanda answered.

“Oh, I ‘magined somethin’ fer ‘im ta do. Don’t know ‘bout a story, but I kin tell ya, I give ‘im somethin’ ta talk about.” But fer the moment the stranger was tongue tied, huddled there ‘neath the hay.

Curly an’ I give ‘em their privacy an’ got ourselves some breakfist. Wanda made her way home ta Ernie’s shack, told him some tale ‘bout gittin’ lost on her way ta her granma’s. I think it were all too much fer that stranger, ‘cause he ain’t been seen since.

I guess it’s a happy endin’. As Curly says, better a tale a debauchery than da butchery.

Bio

A. Kid is a free ranging fictional character who lives and works at Carrot Ranch. Since March 2020 Kid also manages, along with fictional ranch hand Pal N. O’Roun, the Saddle Up Saloon, the virtual watering hole and gathering place found just over the line. Their adventures are archived in the Ranch Yarn pages at ShiftnShake, the blog maintained by their writer, D. Avery.

What in the World Is Story Chat?

Story Chat is to short stories as Book Club is to New York Best Sellers. We come together over a cup of hot chocolate or an adult beverage, sit around the coffee table and discus the story with the author. We ask questions and challenge each other’s thinking, play with the story and enjoy each other’s company.

Two weeks later or so, the edited transcript of the chat comes out with links to some of your latest blog posts. (my favs – as the privileged hostess).

Now it’s your turn.

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to the fun of Story Chat.

#WQWWC #13 Fairness

This week’s topic for Writer’s Quotes Wednesdays is fairness, equal, eqitable, just or the counter point “Unfair!”

Merriam Webster defines fairness three ways: impartial and just treatment or behavior without favoritism or discrimination, having light-colored hair or a pale complexion, and beauty.

To participate in Writer’s Quotes Wednesdays, feel free to use any of the definitions. Don’t forget the quote!

#WQWWC Instructions2
How to Create a #WQWWC Post

My brother and I used to argue that our portions of food were not fair if one of us got an extra French fry or a bigger serving of cake. Fair meant equal at our house.

Only humans can choose to be fair. The wild animal world is ruled by survival of the fittest. And Tina Schell had a quote in her Lens-Artist post this week that illustrated that point well.

“It’s a cruel and random world, but the chaos is all so beautiful.”

Hiromu Arakawa
Mama Kitty, Kalev, fairness

I have taught my dog to wait and not be grabby when she and the cat get treats together. Does she understand the concept of fairness I am teaching her? I’m not sure, but she doesn’t grab the treat, which is much smaller than hers until the cat walks away and/or I say, “Okay.”

Would she do that on her own?

Equity v Equality Which is Fair?

In the teaching setting it took some unlearning for me to learn equity and equality were not the same. Life is not fair. We don’t all start out with the same opportunities. Humans have the ability to learn that some people need more because they have less and that by giving more to those people we act fairly, though not equally.

“Fairness is man’s ability to rise above his prejudices.”

Wes Fessler

When I worked for Migrant Education we had programs for only the migrant students because they moved often and did not have the same educational advantages as students who were stable and had the opportunity to attend the same school every day.

One summer as a Migrant Education supervisor I visited migrant students in their homes with our recruiters. The migrant camp was poorer that most of the poorest I’d seen. One 60 foot by 12 foot trailer was divided into five equal sections and housed 4 families and had one bathroom for all the families. In the first one was one bed for a family of five or six, and no other furniture. We sat on the edge of the bed and the mother and children sat on the floor. The mother wasn’t allowed to eat in the camp because she was disabled and couldn’t work. So they had a two burner cook top stove someone had given them that sat on the floor off to one side. Books were a rarity, and we handed out a book per child that day. The mother was so grateful they gave each of us oranges. It was hard to accept them, but it was important to the mother that we did.

Some district administrators fought with Migrant Education, a federally funded program, for not being fair and not giving the Migrant benefits equally to all the students in the district. It was hard for them to explain to children and parents who were not classified as migrant that migrant students did not have the same advantages even thought they might also be poor. Migrant students did not attend the same school all year and often missed studying the same subjects as they bounced from school to school. They did not have equal opportunities. Migrant Education attempted to level the playing field to make things fair for migrant students.

COVID-19 Restrictions for All

One thing we all share fairly is COVID 19 restrictions. Never in my lifetime has anything been so widespread and pervasive for so long. Is it going to even the playing field? What are your thoughts?

Some of my blogging friends have taken the bull by the horns to keep from feeling defeated and powerless by the pandemic.

“One of the challenges my friends have been having recently is what I call “hitting the wall” but other labels are boredom and COVID Fatigue.  I recently listened to a documentary on the radio about Boredom, and one of my key take-aways was the lack of agency we all have during quarantine.  That is… we lack the ability to make things happen.  Some people have been able to find a niche that gives them some feeling of agency or accomplishment:  blogging, writing, art, weaving,  home repairs, decorating, walking, virtual travelling: the Conqueror Challenge, reading, book clubslanguage learning,  on-line yogae-cycling, grandparenting, online courses, cooking, photography, kayaking, zooming and #Sundaystills.”

Ann of https://theunretired.life/2021/02/21/birdwatching-in-covid-19/

Check Out Last Week’s #WQWWC #12 Responsibility Entries

Question???

Hi friends, As you can see the participant rate for this challenge, Writer’s Quotes Wednesdays Writing Challenge, is low. It seems that this challenge is not working for you. Are the prompts or topics okay? Is using quotes difficult or boring? I was going to give it a year, but if it is not working for you, then it doesn’t work for me either. Talk to me.

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February Story Chat: The Trophy Cabinet

Welcome to Story Chat where the authors come right into your living room to chat with you and your friends about their short story. You can ask them any questions you want. And they can ask you some, too. 

Story Chat

So let’s peek in and see what’s going on. First of all, who’s here? The first two links for each participant takes you to a specific blog post. The remaining links go to the participants’ website.

Participants in Story Chat

  1. Hugh W. Roberts
  2. Marsha
  3. Robbie
  4. Kevin Cooper
  5. Willowdot21
  6. the Eternal Traveller
  7. Anne Goodwin
  8. Dgkaye
  9. Derrickjknight
  10. Joylennick
  11. V.M.Sang
  12. D. Avery @shiftnshake
  13. Cathy Cade

Summary 99 Words No More No Less

Detective Inspector Triblane (Blane) Pettimoron responded to a call about the murder of the doctor who had preformed surgery on him ten weeks prior. Nervous and itchy, he pointed out several clues that Detective Sergeant Dribble missed. 

They found a cabinet containing vials labeled and filed alphabetically by the patients’ last name filled with testicles. The evidence pointed to men who might have a motive for murder, when they discoverd one of their testicles was missing. When did Pettimoron know there would be a jar with his name on it? So many unanswered questions for the detectives and readers.

Story Chat
Trophy Cabinet

Controversy about Open Ending

By the time the Hugh Roberts had read all the way to the end of the story without finding out if Pettimoron was investigating a murder he committed, the controversy erupted.

Hugh: “I love open-ended stories where the reader can come to their own conclusion.”

Geoff responded, “One challenge in this case was Blane’s interior monologue. How can I maintain the essential ambiguity in his position and not appear to be deliberately hiding anything from the reader (were there to be anything to hide)!? Is his nervousness a result of guilt or embarrassment? Glad it left you thinking (which was my aim) but is that as satisfying to you as a neat resolution?”

Hugh: “Where murder is involved, I think most readers like a resolution.”

Geoff: “When I wrote this the main issue was the resolution. Should I point at the culprit? Or leave it to the reader to speculate? What is more satisfying? Are you short changed by this or given something for your imagination to work on after you’ve finished.”

Hugh: “When murder is involved, I believe most readers like an outcome. The TV show ‘Murder In Paradise’ comes to mind where we find out whodunit and how they did it.”

Geoff: “On TV and film, I’m with you utterly because I fear I’ll miss the sequel or they’ll not commission it!! Though in literature a hanger is not that unusual, I suppose because the author decides if they are going to finish it off. I’ll ponder on the follow up!”

Robbie: “I have drawn my own conclusions, Geoff, so it isn’t really open ended for me. I quite like being able to do that. I enjoy this type of story that allows the reader to do this.”

Marsha: “In a book or a Netflix series, I would eventually want to know the end or I would be dissatisfied, maybe mad even. I’d feel like I invested my time reading or watching only to not know what happened and I’d feel cheated. Even a movie makes me mad if there is not a good resolution.”

What do you think?

Should a short-story murder mystery have a cliffhanger or come to a resolution?

Liked Open EndedDidn’t Like Open EndedNot Committed
Robbie
Marsha
 Willowdot21
Derrickjknight
joylennick
Hugh W. RobertsKevin Cooper
the Eternal Traveller
Anne Goodwin
Dgkaye
V.M.Sang
D. Avery @shiftnshake
Cathy Cade

Emotional Responses to “The Trophy Cabinet”

  • Kevin Cooper Made me feel squeamish.
  • TanGental It’s not easy typing with your legs crossed…
  • Dgkaye There’s a helluvalot more to this gross but intriguing story LOL. A true Geoff story! I read it because I enjoy Geoff’s stories, but I gotta tell you guys, sounds eerie and gross, lol, but fabulously written!
  • Joylennick Gross subject but well written
  • D. Avery @shiftnshake Great balls of fire, Geoff. I’m left with a whole lot of whys, and what the hecks, feeling like there’s, if not two of everything, at least two mysteries here. A real head scratcher and a fun story.
  • Anne Goodwin Ha, fun story. I love the names, but they also confused me.
  • Cathy Cade Love the names.

Discussing the Case

The Clues

There were clues that might lead the reader to think that Pettimoron (don’t you love that name?) was definitely guilty.

  • The itchy groin.
  • The basement, but kept that to himself.
  • The blue door he remembered from before.
  • Pointing to the secret door in the corner.
  • The place was as he remembered: all-white walls and tiles and sharp lighting.

Questions and Some Answers

Q Hugh  W. Roberts Well, the clues are all there, aren’t they?

Q Marsha Why would he give the DS all those clues?

Q Marsha Was the Sergeant trying to help or implicate Pettimoron?

 Q TanGental Is his nervousness a result of guilt or embarrassment?

Q TanGental Is the perp Blane, who is using his position to try and manage the investigation?

Cathy Cade. I suppose it was about halfway through it became clear Pettimoron had been there before and Something Was Up. I didn’t get the impression he was necessarily the murderer – just one of a long list of possibles. He knew the sergeant wouldn’t keep the find to himself but I reckoned he would spread the story all around the station to get a laugh. I got the impression his discomfort was from embarrassment rather than guilt – otherwise he would have been more concerned about getting into that basement and hiding the evidence.

Q Marsha Was the end an admission of guilt?

A TanGental No, I don’t think the end was an admission of guilt,  not really, more an admission of anxiety but why… hmmm!

Q TanGental One question around the doctor’s motivation that I worried at is Blane’s knowledge. He knew about the room and it appears to be secret. So why not report what appears to be an egregious medical assault to the authorities?

Q Marsha I hadn’t considered that he should have reported the misdoing. Do they have mandated reporters in England?

A TanGental I know there are a lot of professions required to report these days to report all sorts – lawyers if suspecting money laundering, social workers and police is suspecting human trafficking, child exploitation and so on, so a policeman would be duty bound if he thought there was a crime… though he might have his own reasons not to!! 

Q TanGental Or could he be so embarrassed about what happened to him he tried to pretend it didn’t exist and now he’s both exposed and looks guilty?

A Anne Goodwin I never suspected for a moment that Pettimoron was the murderer – is that because embarrassment is more my thing?

Q Anne Goodwin I’m thinking of the medical issues. I know police are very juvenile but if he’s had to have an orchiectomy, wouldn’t it be for something serious, in which case, would he be so embarrassed? So maybe his discomfort IS about him being a murderer.

Marsha I don’t think he had an orchiectomy on purpose. I think he was having erectile dysfunction issues and he came out of surgery minus one important body part. I didn’t think someone would itch that long after surgery.

Anne Goodwin Gosh, Marsha, I see what you mean and what I missed. Fascinating how we bring our own issues to a reading. I was triggered by the image, but read on because it was Geoff, not realising what must’ve been going on for me underneath! I have to disagree, however, that skin can itch as it scars.

TanGental So much to chew on, Anne! I am certain that, even if it had been a serious issue – testicular cancer say – as a man he’d have been awfully embarrassed especially in a macho profession like the police. I had a triple hernia – no biggy but after I told two colleagues they told me they had too but had hidden it as they were embarrassed, given it related to their view of their robust maleness. Maybe younger men are more able to be open than my generation and above. My father for instance wouldn’t have told anyone if he could possibly avoid it. So embarrassment is a likely cause of his anxiety, especially if he’s been the subject of egregious male banter already.

Marsha Either way, what plans could the creepy doctor possibly have for all his specimens unless they were for a biopsy? 

kevin cooper Not sure I want to know. Lol

TanGental I’m sure there is a sexual perversion in there somewhere, or maybe he has a little side hustle as a purveyor of novelty Christmas decorations…

Anne Goodwin You’re probably right about the machismo. I guess that’s also a foil for other anxieties any of us might have in relation to alterations to our bodies.

I like the idea of the fake testicle. Must be possible, I presume they create them for trans men.

TanGental Yep, I have a friend who I played rugby with. He had one removed – cancer – in his late twenties and was more concerned about how lop-sided he might look than a return of the cancer – or so that’s how he made it sound. But rugby men are good at bravado and crap at honesty emotions. Back then anyway…

Marsha I would be more concerned with what the doctor put in place of Blane’s testicle. how clean it was, what material was used. He could be allergic to latex or some other material used in the prosthetic device. Also what did Doc Pretty fill it with? Maybe the prosthetic leaked. My mind is all over the place trying to solve the mystery of how to fix this poor guy, not how to solve the crime of the doctor’s murder. 

TanGental In my head Marsha is right; he didn’t actually know he’d lost a testicle; in one scenario it is replaced by the good doctor with something akin to a fake one; I wonder if they do that for people who have had one removed?

Story Chat
Trophy Cabinet

Author Talk

Anne Goodwin I think you could do more with the alphabetical listing at the end. It could build up more tension. And as we’re in Pettimoron’s POV, and can see he’s unusually anxious, it might be fun if they got to the other guy first. Not sure.

TanGental You’re right about the reveal; I could have made more of the discovery of his jar. Part of me feels the whole ending is rather rushed and would benefit from a longer exposition – maybe he tried to hide the jar or remove it. 

TanGental It’s very difficult, knowing where the ‘line’ is in writing gross material. A bit like trying to write a convincing sex scene (I can’t, it’s hopeless). But gross out is slightly easier. I was encouraged to try my hand at horror and I’ve had a couple of stories in anthologies. I tried, mostly to push myself into areas that are uncomfortable. You know you’re going to risk upsetting some people. 

When I did a Creative Writing masters, the Professor who was moderating the course took issue with a character in what became my first book. It was the mother of the main character and someone who you were meant to empathize with. But because the book was set in rural Hampshire in 1976, when the character found herself dealing with an Indian immigrant her unconscious racism came out. My prof thought I’d alienate my reading audience whereas I thought this was exactly how that character would have reacted in white rural Hampshire in the 1970s. I stuck to my guns and she marked me down. Tricky!

Anne Goodwin I agree with you but I’ve subsequently cut the term ‘darkie’ from my next novel. It was culturally appropriate, even mild for the times, but it wasn’t essential for the story. But I’ve left ‘loonies’ and ‘nutters’. It’s a tricky balance.

TanGental It’s a balance and in the end it’s what you are comfortable with. My current WIP has a twenty something lesbian protagonist. Some will say I shouldn’t write from that POV as an ancient pale male, because I cannot understand their experience. But why on Earth not? As with all my characters I need to use my imagination and the work will stand or fall by the effort I made to understand that character. There are characters I can’t imagine writing – a paedophile (pedophile) for one, someone addicted to violence – but that’s because I don’t want to use my imagination in their service. Personal choice again.

Dgkaye Your style brings us in the story, but though a bit gross subject does not give off a horror vibe despite, lol. That’s what makes your stories true Geoff LePard! Don’t change your style to accommodate anyone’s requests. 

V.M.Sang That’s not good, Geoff. You were right to stick to your guns and write what would have been true in the period of the book. Bad on her for marking you down.

And with that, everyone wagged their finger at the imaginary writing professor, finished their drinks and headed back home. Thank all y’all for joining us for Story Chat this month. March will feature authors Kid and Pal and their handler D. Avery telling us about Wanda-lust.

Friends, I hope you’ve enjoyed this Story Chat as much as I have. Please feel free to leave comments. You never know when you, too, will be quoted!

Story Chat
Friends sit around the table discussing a book.

Sue Vincent’s World – Beating the Odds

As you may or may not know, the blogging community has a big heart. When Charli Mills of Carrot Ranch learned that Sue Vincent, a beloved friend and writer, had cancer, she and her friends went to work creating a way to help.

One of the first challenges was the River of Consciousness. My mind went numb, and I did not participate in this one, but several, like Colleen Chesebro, did. To read all of them, click here.

River of Life Double Ennead

by Colleen M. Chesebro

dawn reflections shimmer
a blood-red birthing
the new journey meanders in small ripples
searching for a known truth
testing the waters
a small stream traverses
the land, growth is key
consciousness actuates a forward passage
as water rushes fast,
over stones ahead
From the sun’s dying light
the darkness succumbs
to the passage of time, the river still flows
 in the celebration 
of a life well lived

The Everyday Physics of Dreams

by Jeff Gard

Like matter, dreams cannot be destroyed. Unlike matter, they are created by scattered dandelion seeds, extinguished birthday candles, teeth hidden under pillows, and wishes cast upon twinkling stars. They are first kisses, graduations, weddings, anniversaries, and promotions. Desires are our bones and blood. One day we will exhale our aspirations. They will rise on thermals, waver within a red and green Aurora Borealis. They will race into space, outpacing radio waves and light. They will dance in the Milky Way and body surf Saturn’s rings. In spiraling clouds of gas and dust, our dreams will condense into newborn stars.

Sue Vincent had lived dreams -bad and good, and turned them into a beautiful star-studded, Milky Way, Aurora Borealis quilt of life.

No photo description available.

I had the fortune of spending several hours of the week getting to know this writing icon, Sue Vincent. Most recently we chatted about her son because his story, as well as hers of terminal cancer, left me weak with sympathy and sorrow, but hopeless in what little I could do to ease her pain.

Ten, nearly eleven years ago, her son was stabbed through his temple with a screwdriver. That should have killed him, and would have killed most, but somehow Nick survived with the help of his mom and friends. Listen as she describes her thoughts and feelings when they heard the news. Click on her name to read the entire story.

Breaking Barriers

Four words changed the lives of everyone in our little family and that of many of our friends. My son, over a hundred miles away in Bournemouth, was in hospital… and we were advised to come at once. He had not regained consciousness since he had been brought in and, at that point, they did not seem to understand why. They thought he had suffered a brain haemorrhage.

They were almost right. Nick had been stabbed through the brain in a senseless attack. The puncture wound was so small it had, at first, been missed, but shards of bone were lodged in his brain and the ten inch screwdriver that had been rammed through his temple had compromised the brain stem. He was in a coma and not expected to live.

I have written, in great detail, of that time. I have told of the moment when the call came through, of the terror and despair, of the kindness and hope of those dreadful days… days that became weeks and months of fear and struggle as we all learned to adapt to a redefined future that was not only full of unknowns, but which was likely to shape the rest of our lives.

When Nick finally woke, it was to severe disability. Paralysed, unable to speak at all, his vision compromised and utterly dependent. The prognosis was grim… especially as it was clear that the bright young businessman with a razor sharp mind was still there… trapped in a broken and uncooperative body and a brain that would not allow the mind to express itself as it should.

In those early days, as soon as Nick began to awaken, my one determination was that he should believe in himself and have all the support he needed. 

Sue Vincent

In a post she wrote about six years ago, she included pictures of how much he had progressed since the senseless attack. It is nothing short of miraculous.

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Aim for the Moon

This morning, as I was dismantling the heavy, weighted walking frame he has hitherto needed just to cross his living room, I couldn’t help thinking about that. To be folding this thing up after several years and consigning it to the shed had me near tears. It had already been an emotional morning. It had all started with the balancemaster, a machine he had installed to help him regain that function, lost to his injuries. He had showed me the latest, quite amazing progress and I, as often happens, had ended up in tears. A screwdriver through the brain is bad enough, but while his recovery from the damage caused by that initial injury was utterly miraculous. The secondary damage from the prolonged subarachnoid bleeding and excessive pressure within the brain cavity is a different matter and affects many of his motor functions and balance. He had woken from the coma paralysed down his entire right side, and though hemiplegia had fairly soon given way to hemiparesis, with the spasticity and the lack of coordination and control, the outlook wasn’t good. His chances of recovering , we were given to understand, were about zero. I could bore you with the details, but Nick suggested I show you instead.

Sue Vincent
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We, of course, we simply overjoyed to still have him with us and his personality definitely ‘all there’. I had told the surgeon that if Nick came back, he would come back fighting and I was right. There was the first time he was able to move at all.. the first words.. the first time he sat alone and stood… There was also the hidden damage, the emotional rollercoaster and the dark times. It has not been plain sailing. Nor is recovery from such an injury merely a case of waiting for time to heal and perhaps a little physiotherapy to get things underway.

Sue Vincent

There’s More You Can Do

The Rodeo and Prizes

If a picture is worth a thousand words, then the Sue Vincent Rodeo Classic serves as a special challenge. Riders will have to condense the following photo into a story of 99 words (or, if you prefer, a poem of 99 syllables). Writing 99 words has never seemed TUFFer!

Each story needs to have a beginning, middle and end. Poems must have distinctive theme, movement, and rhythm; no rhyme scheme is necessary, but neither will rhyme be punished. Go where the prompt leads you – any genre is acceptable, but keep it family friendly and related to the photo. If you haven’t wrangled here at the Carrot Ranch before, you can find some prize-winning 99-word flash from the 2020 Rodeo or the 2019 Rodeo at these links. Don’t cheat with 98 or 100 words or syllables! We’ll only accept 99 word stories or 99 syllable poems written in English! (We’ll be using https://wordcounter.net/ to count words and https://syllablecounter.net/ to count syllables so everyone has the same standard). Only write 99 word stories. Do not write 99 word poems – we want 99 syllable poems.
For this rodeo, we’re offering a $100 grand prize. Five runners up will each receive one paperback from Sue Vincent’s collection of published books (those who live in a region where the paperback is unavailable may receive an e-book instead). No fee necessary to enter but this is a fundraiser so we kindly ask for a suggested donation of $5 per entry (no more than two entries allowed per writer). The contest will close at midnight on Friday, February 19th, 2021. Winning entries will be announced and read at CarrotRanch.com/blog on March 22, 2021. Top entries published at Carrot Ranch. We will not accept entries previously published (even if published on your own blog), so keep them tucked away for now.
Judges: Geoff Le Pard, Anne Goodwin, and Charli Mills. First-Pass readers: H.R.R. Gorman, Sue Spitulnik, D. Avery, and Sherri Matthews. List of judges and readers will update as needs may change depending on the volume of entries and continued judge availability. Entries will be anonymized prior to judging.
$5 suggested donation to enter. You may enter no more than twice. You are welcome to donate more than the suggested entry feeAll proceeds go directly to Sue Vincent and Family.

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Head over to Carrot Ranch to Donate to Sue Vincent and enter your 99-word story or Double Ennead.

The pictures of Sue Vincent, which I used without Sue’s express permission, came from her Facebook Page, Sue Vincent Writer. Just so you know, I did warn her that I was going to do a post/reblog of some of the links she shared with me. If you click on photos, you can see some of her gorgeous paintings. They will take your breath away.

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Thank you Sue for inspiring me this week. I wish you the best and hope you do as Nick has done and beat the odds.

To learn more about Sue Vincent the author, visit her website, Sue Vincent’s Daily Echo, and order her books. Or check out her other site, France and Vincent.

Thanks for reading. Please go to the links for more information, to compete in the Rodeo, or to donate to Sue and her family.

#WQWWC #12: “Who’s Responsible for This?”

This week’s topic to inspire you in Writer’s Quotes Wednesday Challenge is responsibility or it’s opposite – blame. #WQWWC is a challenge about using quotes around a theme. You find your quote and write about it. Include the link for this post in your post, or copy the link to your post and paste it into my comment box.

These are the last words a child wants to hear when the evidence of wrongdoing shows up in his or her quarter. They know there will be an assessment and consequence of blame like being grounded from their favorite activity. Or possibly parents will assign them a responsibility or duty such as cleaning their room or taking out the trash. Either way, a child often looks for a way to shirk responsibility and parents try creative ways to insure that their children become responsible for their actions.

But what about adults? Responsibilities come with any job, role of legal obligation. Radio and television commentator, Charles Osgood had this to say about responsibility.

“The Responsibility Poem”
 by Charles Osgood
 There was a most important job that needed to be done,
 And no reason not to do it, there was absolutely none.
 But in vital matters such as this, the thing you have to ask
 Is who exactly will it be who’ll carry out the task?
 Anybody could have told you that Everybody knew
 That this was something Somebody would surely have to do.
 Nobody was unwilling; Anybody had the ability.
 But Nobody believed that it was their responsibility.
 It seemed to be a job that Anybody could have done,
 If Anybody thought he was supposed to be the one.
 But since Everybody recognized that Anybody could,
 Everybody took for granted that Somebody would.
 But Nobody told Anybody that we are aware of,
 That he would be in charge of seeing it was taken care of.
 And Nobody took it on himself to follow through,
 And do what Everybody thought that Somebody would do.
 When what Everybody needed so did not get done at all,
 Everybody was complaining that Somebody dropped the ball.
 Anybody then could see it was an awful crying shame,
 And Everybody looked around for Somebody to blame.
 Somebody should have done the job
 And Everybody should have,
 But in the end Nobody did
 What Anybody could have.

Anybody Could Have Taken Responsibility

Strong leaders take responsibility even when they are not at fault. Less worthy leaders fight extensive legal battles to prove their innocence and lay the blame elsewhere sometimes when they don’t want to lose face.

Wouldn’t it be easier if people just accepted the blame and took responsibility for their words and actions? None of us can foresee the future and know how we might inspire or insight others to action, as what happened on January 6th.

Technically guilty or not, President Trump was acquitted in the Senate for the impeachable offense of inciting the riots at the Capitol. What might have happened if he had accepted the blame of his supporters and broken up the mob? Or could he? Each individual participating also had a responsibility to refuse to be violent or even to be in a place that might get violent.

Many more words about will abound about responsibility regarding the January 6th attack on the Capital Building because the consequences are so huge. Responsibility is something that everyone, even terrorists, take seriously.

What Are Your Thoughts About Responsibility?

Do you know this singer? I particularly like the lyrics.

Guidance in Understanding Responsibility

Ultimately where do people look guidance in responsibility? Christians turn to the Bible, sermons and studies to learn what their true responsibilities are and how to fulfill what they should do to live a responsible life. One site offered 100 verses to provide insight. Where do you go to get instruction on responsibility?

Poem About Responsibility

Responsibility
Author Unknow
Responsibility means,
 “I can do things on my own.”
 When I turn it on, I turn it off.
 When I unlock something, I lock it up.
 When I drop something, I pick it up.
 When I open something, I close it.
 When I make a mess, I clean it up.
 When I find something, I return it.
 When I borrow something, I give it back.
 When I take something out, I put it back.
 When I am assigned a task, I complete it.
 When I earn money, I spend it wisely.
 When I give my word, I keep it.
 I choose to be responsible.

How to Participate in #WQWWC

How Do You Teach Responsibility?

How do you teach your children and grandchildren this important character trait? What are your favorite resources? Do you have a favorite authority you quote? Your thoughts are most important in this challenge.

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Did You Miss Last Week’s Challenge?