“Sweet Cherry Pie,” 99-Word Story

The Carrot Ranch, July 25, 2022, prompt: In 99 words (no more, no less), write a story sweet as cherries. It can be about the fruit or something cherries represent. Why is it sweet? Can you use contrast to draw out the beauty? Go where the prompt leads! Submit by July 30, 2022.

Photo by Maksim Goncharenok on Pexels.com

It was time. Hazel opened the oven door. The sweet scent of cherries filled the room. She knew this pie would be a winner at the Pie Bake Off at the park this afternoon. After all, she’d added her secret ingredient.

Later, she watched in fascination as the judge took his first bite. His eyes lit up with pleasure at the taste of her sweet confection.

“This is the one,” he said. “First place!”

Then he crumpled in a heap to the ground.

Hazel smiled. She had finally found a way to deal with her ex-husband once and for all.

Check out the 99-Word Stories from last week’s challenge: https://carrotranch.com/2022/07/27/floating-collection/

“The Fairy Stone,” 99-word Story

June 6, 2022, Carrot Ranch prompt: In 99 words (no more, no less), write a story that features stone-stacking. How does the activity fit into a story? Who is involved? What is the tone? Do the stones have special meaning? Go where the prompt leads! Submit by June 11, 2022.

Image by mario-k from Pixabay

“Grandmother, what’s the stone with the hole in it?”

“That’s a fairy stone, Granddaughter. If you peer through the hole in the stone, you’ll see into the Kingdom of the Fae.”

“How did it get a hole in it?”

“Moving water erodes a hole in the stone.”

“Okay, so why are we stacking these stones in a pile?”

“Granddaughter, we leave this cairn of stones to warn others of this magical place. Take the fairy stone with you and use it as a talisman against the evil eye.”

“Yes, grandmother.”

The tree dryads rustled their verdant leaves in approval.

“Sunny” 99-word Stories

The Carrot Ranch May 16, 2022, prompt: In 99 words (no more, no less), write a story about when a newly released prisoner meets the disabled veteran who adopted the puppy the prisoner trained behind bars. The prompt is based on the short story Charli Mills wrote for Marsha Ingrao’s Story Chat. She asks us to rewrite her story in our words, 99, no more, no less. Go where the prompt leads!

Charli Mills says, “If you have an interest in learning in-depth analysis and how to use it for revision, I invite you to read the comments (including my teaching points for the process of revision). For the purpose of this week’s challenge, you can read the short story “As Far as a Prisoner Can Go.” Your task is to tell the same story but differently. That may sound ambiguous, but it’s what we writers do. All the stories have already been told. Not all the storytellers have yet told them in their own style, voice, genre, tone, or perspective. Take all the liberties you want! Improve it. Wreck it. SciFi it. Romance it. Darken it. Tickle it. Make the story your own.”


“Sergeant Jan Mathers? It’s good to meet you.”

“Same here.”

I reached out with my one good arm and shook his hand. For a newly released inmate, John Tyler held himself confidently. Sunny, my support dog, whined at my side.

“It’s okay girl, you remember him, don’t you?”

Tyler locked eyes with the golden lab.

“After Iraq, I never thought I needed help, but I’d lost more than just an arm. I’m thankful you trained her. She saved my life.”

Tyler grinned. “She saved my life, too.”

“You start at the pound Monday, Tyler. Don’t be late.”

“Yes ma’am.”


If you’re interested in the getting feedback on your writing, I’d like to suggest following Marsha Ingrao’s blog: Story Chat HERE.

Write On!

My Image of Mom, #99Word Stories

The Carrot Ranch.com May 9, 2022, prompt: In 99 words (no more, no less), write a mom selfie — a story that creates an image of a mom. No one mom looks alike or fits a maternal mold. Who is she? Go where the prompt leads!

  1. Submit by May 15, 2022. If you want to be published in the weekly collection, please use the form provided on the challenge post. The Collection publishes on the Wednesday following the next Challenge. Rules & Guidelines.
  2. Carrot Ranch only accepts stories through the form below. Accepted stories will be published in a weekly collection. Writers retain all copyrights.
  3. Your blog or social media link will be included in your title when the Collection publishes.
  4. Please include your byline which is the name or persona you attribute to your writing.
  5. Please include the hashtag #99Word Stories when sharing either the Challenge or Collection posts in social media.

At night, in between dreams, I think of you often. What did you look like compared to the few black and white photos of a Russian dark-haired beauty I have tucked in my photo album?

My older sister once told me you had eyes the color of cornflowers. My older brother said you were always kind. I wish I had known you or had memories of you as my mother.

Yet, when I close my eyes, I imagine you holding me in your arms. I sense your love. You are the mother I’d always dreamed of. You’re inside me.

1942, my mother, Esther Irene Schwemmer Steinle, holding my sister Kathryn.

My mother passed away in 1962, when I was three years old. She was only 38 years old. 💜💚💛

The Never-Ending Winter, #99-Word Stories

What is Carrot Ranch?

I’ve had the privilege of writing with a great bunch of poets, writers, and authors over at carrotranch.com every week where we write 99-word stories. This is no simple task, but like syllabic poetry, it’s a study in brevity. Every week, our lead buckaroo, Charli Mills, gives us a prompt to create our 99-word story.

99-Word Challenge Rules, click HERE. Meet our lead buckaroo, Charli Mills HERE!

The Carrot Ranch 99-Word Story, April 18, 2022, prompt: In 99 words (no more, no less), write a story about never-ending. You can hyphenate never-ending or write an example of a story that never ends. What is endless and why? Go where the prompt leads! Submit by April 23, 2022.

This is a Double Ennead, a form I created for Carrot Ranch. It consists of three stanzas of syllables: 6-5-11-6-5, which comes to 99 syllables.

Photo by Alena Koval on Pexels.com

The Never-Ending Winter

winter's eternal chill 
remains mantled in
unyielding leaden skies filled with sleety rain
while the goddess slumbers
readying for spring

it's just one of those years
the farmers bellow
surveying wet fields glazed with inches of snow
soon our plows will furrow
and seedlets will grow

yet, winter's unhurried—
infinite, it seems...
for beneath the Michigan soil, magic waits
the transition of time
until spring has sprung!

© Colleen M. Chesebro

Announcing: Unicorn Cats Publishing Services & a Collaboration with Giddy Up Press

This January, I took on a project for an author where I prepared his eBook and print book for publication on Amazon. I even created a cover for the book. I wrote a review HERE.

What I discovered is that I liked… er, enjoyed preparing the manuscripts. Who would have thought? I’m a firm believer that things happen for a reason and today, I’m proud to announce the opening of Unicorn Cats Publishing Services.

Unicorn Cats Publishing Services

Unicorn Cats Publishing Services offers eBook & print book publishing services to authors and poets. I want to help authors create beautiful books that you can be proud of. From your edited manuscript, I can create a digital eBook and print book ready for you to upload to Amazon. Unicorn Cats Publishing Services will help you turn your dreams into reality.

Using your edited Word Manuscripts, I can create ebook and print files for fiction, non-fiction, and poetry books. I will format your manuscript to upload to Amazon and other platforms. I will also provide you with digital files: ePub, PDF, and a Word Docx file.

READ MORE HERE

Which led to a collaboration…

This all came about because a close friend listened to my ideas. Charli Mills, lead buckaroo at Carrot Ranch.com, has been my mentor for a few years now. We’re both former Montanans and current Michiganders. Charli’s in the upper mitten and I’m in the lower, so together we make a pair. Between us, we’re a great team. Charli edits and I paginate. We both believe in high quality and professional standards in our literary craft.

After many conversations, we decided we should collaborate. I remember I brought up the subject of unicorns—somehow unicorns and magic always find a way into our conversations. We realized how our communities intersected. Charli and I also worked on client projects together. We’ve both been interested for several years in a formatting program that would make the work easier and more beautiful.

Charli and I discussed Vellum, a Mac program to produce eBooks and print books. From there, we started talking more about self-publishing books. When we worked with our client, we discovered a great work flow, complimentary skills, and shared enthusiasm for our literary communities and writing lives.

So we researched and then researched some more…

We talked and asked each other good questions. Charli consulted with her Small Business Development rep. I consulted my accountant. Then, I researched every program out there to produce quality eBooks and print books. We settled on Atticus. We shared models, ideas, and finally found the magic that blooms between partnerships. While basking in all this magic, we asked more questions. Then, we decided. We are doing this!!

Unicorn Cats Publishing Services collaborates with Giddy Up Press!

Please visit HERE if you are interested in my eBook and print book services. Get scheduled today!

Be sure to jump over to Charli’s announcement today. She will explain her exciting new business venture, Giddy Up Press, and what that means for the Carrot Ranch writing community.

Unicorn Cats Publishing Services shares a commitment to quality publishing. I’ve joined the Midwest Independent Publishers Association and will uphold Industry Standards and adhere to these codes of ethics:

Code of Ethics (from http://www.ibpa-online.org/page/MissionVision)

A commitment to professionalism, confirming IBPA’s collective belief that the production of content of lasting financial and/or cultural value is just as important as securing open markets for this content.

As part of the independent publishing community, IBPA members pledge to the following CODE OF ETHICS:

  • To uphold the highest standards of our industry, to create works of lasting financial and/or cultural value, and to pursue editorial, design, and production excellence.
  • To respect the rights of authors and other creators and stakeholders, to observe all copyright laws and conventions, and to never knowingly publish plagiarized work.
  • To reward authors and contributors for their work, to be honest in our financial dealings, to write contracts in understandable language, to resolve all disputes promptly and fairly, and to foster equal opportunity in our workplaces.
  • To not mislead readers or buyers with false promises, inflated sales data, or manipulated reviews.
  • To not publish works of hate speech1, or works that encourage discrimination, oppression, or violence.
  • To recycle and reuse and to follow green practices whenever possible.

Colleen M. Chesebro is a Michigan Poet who loves crafting syllabic poetry, flash fiction, and creative fiction and nonfiction. Colleen sponsors a weekly syllabic poetry challenge, called #TankaTuesday, on wordcraftpoetry.com where participants learn how to write traditional and current forms of syllabic poetry. Colleen’s mission is to bring the craft of writing syllabic poetry to anyone who thinks they can’t be a poet.

Reaching for Stars, tanka prose

I’m going to attempt a trifecta… three prompts combined to make one poem.

First, I have Carrot Ranch at the 99-word story prompt (write a story using the phrase, water falls. Where is the water coming from? How does it shape a story? Who does it involve? Go where the prompt leads! Submit by April 16, 2022).

Second, is #TankaTuesday, writing tanka prose.

Third, is the dVerse prompt (Your poetry challenge: From any of the sources mentioned, choose an image that speaks to you. Let it guide you on your poetic journey wherever that may lead. Any theme, any style of poem) using an image from Vika Muse.

So, this will be tanka prose comprising 99 words featuring the artwork of Vika Muse and using the words, “water falls.”

© Vika Muse: Instagram @get.muse She is also featured on this website http://www.inprnt.com

Reaching for Stars

Alone in the cocoon of my dreams, I listen for the murmurs of the marsh fairies. For now, is not the time to be all in my head. I must also listen to my heart. Here, I fish for stars—those promises shimmer in starry pearlescence beneath the water. I stretch, grab, and fail, but I never stop trying.

hot tears—water falls 
in the autumn of our years
farewell songs explain
dreams together fade away
a slow ripple on the pond

Reconciliation feels elusive. I’ll follow you anywhere or leave you behind. The choice is up to you.

© Colleen M. Chesebro

Vika Muse In her own words…..”I was a web designer for about 13 years. But I wanted to be an artist in my childhood and didn’t have support from my parents. So now I’m trying the new direction and improving my skills every day. The main subject matters are usually nature, landscapes, fantasy art, and fairies. I’m a self-taught artist.” Vika Muse: Instagram @get.muse She is also featured on this website http://www.inprnt.com.

Bon Appetit, 99-word story

The Carrot Ranch April 4, 2022, prompt: In 99 words (no more, no less), write a story to explain “baby ducks ate my lunch.” How did that happen? Who is the protagonist? Where did the baby ducks come from? Go where the prompt leads! Submit by April 9, 2022.


“Mom, Hancock ate my lunch again.”

Stacy placed her hands on her hips, and I noted the teenage angst and attitude in her stance.

“Hancock gets hungry. He has a tough job guarding the henhouse, you know.”

“What about me? I’m hungry too!” She stomped off.

Stacy could wait. I didn’t need another sick dog.

I stepped outside into a cold Michigan rain. Napkins littered the grass near the henhouse. Hancock was nowhere in sight. Darn dog.

That’s when I spotted a waddle of fluffy baby ducks devouring the remains of Stacy’s lunch.

Bon Appetite, I laughed.

The Ghost in the Machine – #99-word stories

The March 28, 2022, Carrot Ranch prompt: In 99 words (no more, no less), write a story about disappearance. It can be an event, act, or subtle theme. Who or what disappears? Does it fade or explode? Can it be explained or experienced? Go where the prompt leads! Click here for more details.

“I’m not kidding, Charlene. My blog was there one minute and gone the next.”

“No way. Now what?”

“I’ve had so many problems with my blog. Yesterday, I contacted ProsePress, and they had an engineer look at the coding. Apparently, there was a ghost in the machine.”

“What’s that?”

“It’s complicated, but a ghost in the machine refers to the virtual consciousness of a dead person who exists inside a computer and interacts with the outside world.”

“So, the ghost made your blog disappear?”

“Yup. So, I bought a new computer, and I’ve not had any blog problems since!”

Seriously, I’ve had my share of blog woes lately. I think WP did another upgrade because most of the blocks don’t work (like the Kindle book block), which works on the Chrome browser, but not on FireFox. Safari is so slow, I can’t use it for blogging at all.

I’m sticking with this theme for now. Every theme has something wrong with it in one way or another. It’s the most frustrating thing I’ve ever seen. The new themes don’t have headers or widgets, so they aren’t meant for blogging. I’m not sure what they are good for.

Eventually, I’ll move over to the WP business plan with better themes. But that is down the road. ❤️

“Free Pie,” #99-Word Story

March 14, 2022, prompt: In 99 words (no more, no less), write a story about free pie. What kind of pie and freedom? Who is involved with pies? How is it free? Go where the prompt leads! Due by March 19, 2022.


“Mom, where are you?” Helena burst into the kitchen, searching for her mother.

“I’m in the laundry room.”

“Miss Pickering baked us a pie.”

“What? Miss Pickering from across the street?”

“That’s her,” Helena said. “She met me at the bus stop. She said it was an Irish pie.”

“She hasn’t made an Irish pie in years.”

Helena pulled back the foil on the pie plate. “It looks like a pie to me, and she said it’s free, and told me Happy St. Patrick’s Day. Besides, I remember that Miss Pickering makes the best Irish Shepard’s Pie in Michigan.”