Sunday Book Review Topically Challenged Volume 1 Flash Fiction Anthology – New Book, Proceeds to Charity

Today I’m sharing a book that I totally forgot I’d submitted to be part of in this wonderful anthology – Topically Challenged. In this book 100 writers submitted entries of short stories and flash fiction containing 100 stories on news-themed stories. Authors who submitted their work to – “Alice’s ‘Trump This’ News Writing Challenge”. After reading the intro to how this book came about, in both, A.H. Creed’s and Chris Fielden’s introduction to the book, he states that the topic came about as a play on words by Creed, so to speak, as the former president seemed to be hogging the news headlines for a few years, hence, the title of the challenge. Now this isn’t to say that all the stories reflected around Trump, but of course, quite a few stories were based on some of the headlines he was making. My story included.

Visit Chris Fielden’s announcement post for this book. Chris invites writers to many writing challenges, and many are made into anthologies. All profits from this book go to the UK’s largest reading charity – BookTrust.

The book was officially launched on Saturday 3rd April 2021.


Profits from this book go to BookTrust, the UK’s largest children’s reading charity.



Topically Challenged Volume 1 contains 100 news-themed stories from 100 authors who submitted their work to Alice’s ‘Trump This’ News Writing Challenge on Chris Fielden’s website.

They are:

A.H. Creed, A S Winter, Alan Barker, Alan Pattison, Allan Tweddle, Allen Ashley, Amanda Garzia, Andrea Goyan, Andrew Ball, Andrew Carter, Andrew Stiggers, Antonio Salituro, Ashutosh Pant, Barbara Hull, Benjamin Noel, Betty Hattersley, Brian Mackinney, Bridget Scrannage, Cathy Cade, Chris Espenshade, Chris Green, Chris Lee, Christopher Fielden, Clare Tivey, D.G. Kaye, David McTigue, David Rosenblum, David Silver, Debbie Singh, Dee La Vardera, Derek McMillan, Dora Bona, Dr Betty, Duane L. Herrmann, E. F. S. Byrne, Edmund Piper, Francesca Pappadogiannis, Frank Havemann, Gail Everett, Gary McGrath, Gavin Biddlecombe, Geja Hadderingh, Glen Donaldson, Guy Monson, Hajra Saeed, Hullabaloo22, Jack Caldwell-Nichols, Jacob Weller, James Goodman, James Louis Peel, John Gisby, John Holmes, John Notley, Jon Drake, Jon Spencer, Josie Gowler, K. J. Watson, Kelly Van Nelson, Ken Frape, Kenneth Muir, Klaus Gehling, Kwame M.A. McPherson, Len Saculla, Lesley Anne Truchet, Leslie Roberts, Louise Burgess, Lucy Morrice, Lynne Chitty, Madeleine Fox, Maggie Elliott, Majella Pinto, Malcolm Richardson, Mark J Towers, Matilda Pinto, Meghan O’Brien, Mehak Vijay Chawla, Michael Rumsey, Mike Scott Thomson, Nam Raj Khatri, Paul Mastaglio, Peggy Gerber, Pete Armstrong, Peter J. Corbally, Raymond E. Strawn III, Sam Nichols, Sandra Orellana, Sarah Charmley, Sarah Mosedale, Simon Williams, Stacey George, Stephen P. Thompson, Steven Barrett, Teresia Nicolas, Tiffany H White, Tony Thatcher, Vaki Kokkinaki, Valerie Fish, W R Daniel, Yvonne Mallett and Yvonne Mastaglio.

The news writing challenge was created to raise awareness of the importance of a story’s theme, support authors and raise money for charity.

Every story submitted to the challenge is published, so writers can gain the experience of having their work edited and then see their stories distributed in print and eBook formats all over the planet.

Profits generated by sales of this book are donated to BookTrust, the UK’s largest children’s reading charity. They transform lives by getting children and families reading.

Please help us raise money for this worthy cause and spread the joy of topical stories around the world – buy this book 🙂

You will find many writing challenges, all run in support of charities, on Chris’s website in the ‘challenges’ section.


My 5 Star Review:

I am one of the authors who contributed to this writing challenge that ultimately, became a book, an anthology of stories told in flash fiction or micro short story fashion. The writers were asked to compose a fictional story based on a headline that grabbed us. The topic of the anthology writing challenge was titled: Alice’s ‘Trump This’ News Writing Challenge. The idea was to choose a headline from the news that ‘spoke to us’ and write a short fictional story that would coincide with the title of the news article.

In this book there are 100 creative and entertaining stories on a multitude of topics that touched writers in various ways. Many stories stemmed from politics – mainly US and UK related. Topics talked about cover a myriad of social issues from politics, medical system, animal rights, environmental issues, bullying, transgender issues, to racism and more. Every story is told in each author’s choice of style whether in sarcasm, satire, cynism, even humor. And like Felden mentions in his intro this book, “If a theme resonates with a reader, it can help them remember a story long after they’ve finished it”.


Just to share a few of the many stories that resonated with me:

Why Do My Nipples Hurt? Written by Chris Espenshade, cracked me right up. The headline he chose was inspired by Trump’s comment after the hate crime spree in a Pittsburgh synagogue – comedic sarcasm.

End by Allen Ashley. – Inspired by ‘the end of austerity’ on the BBC 2018 budget – government cynicism.

For Whose God and Which Country by Kwame MA McPherson – Inspired by the headline of Trump abandoning his umbrella, (MSNBC), while stepping on to Airforce 1 – fictional nonfiction.

You’re Fired by Dr. Betty. Inspired by the false alarm, missile threat alert in Hawaii, headlined on CNN – chilling ending!

Thoughts and Prayers by David Rosenblum – they do nothing.

Red Card by Jon Spencer – another chilling ending as Russia takes over the world.

Droning On by Len Sucalla – Inspired by the story of a drone hitting Gatwick airport.

Roald Dahl Whose Verses Were Censored by Gail Everett – Inspired by Aldi stores in Australia removing ‘revolting rhymes’.

Truth Uncovered by James Louis Peel – Inspired by Trump attacking his own CDC on how to reopen schools – hilarious satire written in sci-fi style, taking place in the year 2892.

The Fruit-Full Argument by A.S. Winter – Inspired by Apple’s fight with someone’s choice to use a pear as their logo.

Disney Self Identity vs. Labels by Raymond E. Strawn – Inspired by controversy over Disney choosing a new ‘black’ Ariel.

And last, but far from least, my own spin at a flash fiction that raises a question – What Do We Tell The Children? – Inspired by ‘The Children at Trump Rallies’ headline by Damon Winter, New York Times – #ChildAwareness and A parent’s dilemma.

For those of you who enjoy short stories and flashfiction that leaves a mark, I invite you to grab yourselves a copy of this entertaining book, and if you enjoy it, please don’t forget to leave a review. Also, all proceeds go to children’s reading charity,




“#Fiction in A Flash Challenge!” – NonFiction #Photoprompt with Suzanne Burke

Suzanne (Soooz) Burke is running a fun weekly writing challenge at her blog. This week it’s a PhotoPrompt #FictionInAFlash. We’re invited to write in any genre, 750 word count max. When I came across Soooz’s challenge in my blog roamings, once I saw the prompt, hundreds of memories flashed by me. So 750 word cap is going to be a challenge!


flash fiction


Hello everyone and welcome to week #4 of my  “Fiction in A Flash Challenge!” Each week I’ll be featuring an image and inviting you to write a Flash Fiction piece inspired by that image in any form and genre of your choosing.  Maximum word count: 750 words.


“Fiction in A Flash Challenge!” Week #4. Image Prompt: Join in, have fun, and let loose your creative muse.#FictionInAFlash @pursoot @IARTG #ASMSG #WritingCommunity.


Route 66


From the first time I ever visited Las Vegas, I felt an inexplicable energy through me, an unfamiliar state of feeling that I should be living on the west coast. This feeling had nothing to do with the fact that Vegas is like a Disneyland Mecca playground for adults but more about the atmosphere – desert, climate and just being in the southwest.

It must have been my colorful childhood education from some of the shady characters I’d met in my mother’s circles that began my fascination of mobster stories. After my first Vegas experiences there were plenty more visits there, sometimes 2 and 3 times per year. After so many years of going to Vegas, and one helicopter ride over the Grand Canyon, I had an instant feeling that I needed to relocate our vacations to Arizona, more evidence to myself that it was the southwest calling me, more than the casino attractions in Las Vegas.

The first time I landed in Phoenix Sky Harbor airport, I remember strolling the carry-on through the airport with hub, on our way to grab a taxi, when I stopped myself in my tracks and took a pause when this incredible feeling of something inexplicable came over me and told me this was where I needed to be. A familiarity ran through me as though I were home, like I was familiar with a place I’d never before been other than in a helicopter landing in a canyon.

My long fascination with everything southwest, from the climate to the beauty to the rich history of the various Native tribes and cultures, felt familiar and I’d always had this longing to drive Route 66, pretty much inspired by Thelma and Louise. I’d flown over the spot where the movie ends and their car goes off the cliff, while in the helicopter, the tour guide made it a point to announce.

Our first trip to Phoenix was fantabulous. My husband loved all the cowboy stores, venues and paraphernalia, and me, well, I couldn’t get enough of the views, and of course, shopping anything southwest. Don’t even get me started on beautiful Sedona, but those are other stories for another time. Suffice it to say, I wasn’t going home without something ‘Route 66’ and it seemed only fitting when I spotted a set of luggage on discount while I was in the market for a new bag to return home with since what I’d come with was already overflowing. The luggage was colorful with Route 66 plastered all over. And along with some other goodies I found at a flea market when our new friends had taken us to in Mesa, I picked up this sign.


route 66


Here I am living living in the east living still in the dream of being a southwest coast girl someday. Who knows what will come when the new world opens up. Never stop dreaming!




If you’d like to hop on Soooz’s challenge, click on the link below.

Source: “Fiction in A Flash Challenge!” Week #4. Image Prompt: Join in, have fun, and let loose your creative muse.#FictionInAFlash @pursoot @IARTG #ASMSG #WritingCommunity. – Welcome to the World of Suzanne Burke.



Saddle Up Saloon; Blog Blusterin’ « Carrot Ranch Literary Community


Charli Mills has an interesting invitation to join in her TUFF FlashFiction Challenge at the CarrotRanch. D. Avery has challenged us to introduce ourselves and our blogs, the catch – Write it in 99 words exactly – pare it down to 59 words – then pare it down to 9 words only. Good exercise for blurb writing!


Saddle Up Saloon


“Yep. Folks, try defining yer blog’s purpose in 99 words; focus that statement even more in 59 words; then hook us with 9 words. Ya might even post these versions at yer own site. Tell us who ya are or what yer about here in the comments, 9 words, no more no less.”


99 words

Empathetic fashionista and shopper extraordinaire who loves to laugh. My passions are: obsessed with shoes, colorful sunsets, sandy beaches and margaritas on the rocks (in no particular order). My blog, is an eclectic mix of randomness, where you’ll find anything from writing tips to tales from the past, an occasional rant about injustice, relationship talk, travel tips, book reviews, author interviews, and sometimes dabbles in political poetry. It’s almost impossible for me to dwindle it down to just one niche, because it never is. I’m an eclectic memoirist and conversationalist who writes to empower by sharing slices of life.


59 Words

An empathetic fashionista obsessed with shopping, shoes, sandy beaches, margaritas and always ready for a new travel adventure. My blog is an eclectic mix of randomness where you’ll find anything from writing and blogging tips, memoirs slices of life, injustice rants, book reviews, interviews, travel tips, relationship talk and occasional poetry. Impossible to drill it down to one niche.


9 Words

Eclectic memoirist who loves shopping, the beach and books.


Visit the CarrotRanch to view some fun entries and perhaps join in too!

Source: Saddle Up Saloon; Blog Blusterin’ « Carrot Ranch Literary Community



May 9: Flash Fiction Challenge « Carrot Ranch Literary Community

I’ve hopped on to Charli Mills’ Flash Fiction Challenge for this week: May 9, 2019, prompt:

“In 99 words (no more, no less) write a story about growing older. It can be humorous, dark or poignant. It can be true or total fiction. It can be fine wine or an old fossil. Go where the prompt leads!”

Simple Things


I dropped a fork, bent down, took a minute to get back up, but I did.

I went to the fridge, forgot what I went for, so I closed the door and saved on calories.

The days of putting on socks while hopping on one foot are long gone or I’d fall flat on my face. A chair now works fine.

Naps used to be looked at as punishment when young, now a treasured opportunity.

Days pass too quick as years progress.

More wrinkle cream, vitamins and brisk walks. Whatever it takes, I’m in.

Getting older aint for sissies.


Source: May 9: Flash Fiction Challenge « Carrot Ranch Literary Community





Rodeo #3: Travel with a Twist « Carrot Ranch Literary Community

Flash Fiction Rodeo Contest


First, I want to thank my dear friend and Fey Sister, Colleen Chesebro for all the work she did to help me with changing my blog’s theme – something I’ve neglected to do for some time. I do hope you people like it!


I took part in Charli Mills’ Carrot Ranch Rodeo Challenge – Travel with a Twist, Flash Fiction in 99 words. Here was my entry.



Nailed It!


My seat vibrates with the familiar sound of wheels locking, in preparation for landing. Good to be home despite missing the sizzling sunshine of St. Martin.

Glancing my souvenir, my stomach tightens at the familiar fear of having to pass customs with zero intentions of mentioning my sparkler. Sliding the ring off, I stashed it in my bra. Please don’t send me to inspection, a familiar prayer I chant in silence awaiting my turn to declare, or not.

Customs form in hand, I immerse myself in the cattle-like crowd, hoping to go unnoticed by the inspection deciders.

Home free!


I didn’t win, but it was a fun challenge. And thrilled to mention here that my Sister of the Fey, Colleen Chesebro won!!!


Visit the announced winners list and view some of the entries HERE


Source: Rodeo #3: Travel with a Twist « Carrot Ranch Literary Community

Rodeo #2: Memoir Flash Nonfiction Contest at the Carrot Ranch Literary Community

Carrot Ranch contest



Last month Charlie Mills of the CarrotRanch ran a month long Flash Fiction Rodeo Contest. Each weekly contest consisted of a subject to compose our 99 word entries for. Today I’m sharing my entry for the Memoir Flash Fiction Challenge. The subject for the story was “She Did It”. Although I didn’t win, it was a fun challenge and I wish a hardy congratulations to those who won.



The Narcissist


Mother broke hearts with her beauty. Her heart was impenetrable. Her razor-sharp tongue peppered with acidic words, seared holes through my self-esteem, perplexing my childhood and self-worth. I envied her beauty, despite not desiring to emulate.

Cutting words, her specialty. Brainwashed by lies, I thought I needed help. It was my mother requiring analysis. Desperation loomed, anticipating escaping her twisted manipulation and projecting unto others of what festered in her soul.

I escaped. The wounds didn’t. Words embedded, stifled with guilt, my spirit shattered from her black, troubled soul.

Fifty years later, the shackles released. “I banish you Mother.”


If you’d like to see some of the entries and the list of winners please visit the CarrotRanch.

Scars – My Entry for Charli Mills’ Carrot Ranch Flash Fiction (Nonfiction)

Flash Fiction Rodeo Contest


This was my second entry for Charli Mills’ Carrot Ranch Flash Fiction (Nonfiction) Rodeo Contest. It was a double-header 99 words no more or less times 2.


The topic – Scars – was inspired by a quote by Stephen King – whose book on writing should be read, I believe, by all aspiring writers. He wrote “Writers remember everything … especially the hurts. Strip a writer to the buff, point to the scars, and he’ll tell you the story of each small one. From the big ones you get novels. A little talent is a nice thing to have if you want to be a writer, but the only real requirement is the ability to remember the story of every scar.” Entries were to show a remembered scar using any genre the writer chose in 198 words. 

You can read more about the contest and see some entries over at Charli’s Carrot Ranch


Forbidden Passion


Our eyes met and locked with desire. A whirlwind of wining, dining, and dancing kept our hearts riding on the crest of passion. When his fingertips held my face, it left imprints of electric shocks into the depths of never-ending want while I’d gaze into his big, soulful eyes.


The way he said my name increased the rhythm of my heart. When we danced we became one, and our hearts joined in an unstoppable, pulsating desire. No words of love were ever spoken to complicate our romance, yet we both knew, we understood within.


Harsh reality set in after that magical year we shared, much longer than we’d both anticipated. One night, one look in his once smiling eyes showed the happiness was stripped from his soul. We remained in a desperate embrace dancing our last dance before the sacrifice.


His lips parted with pain, spilling the words “I love you, but I can’t be completely yours.” Our lips so close we shared the same oxygen as our tears melded, tasting each other’s brine. His hand squeezing mine so tight, his wedding ring embedded my palm. The music stopped, we parted, each leaving with half the other’s heart.


Flash Fiction Rodeo Contest at Charli Mills’ Carrot Ranch – My Entry

Flash Fiction Rodeo Contest



Charli Mills at the Carrot Ranch ran the first Flash Fiction Rodeo Contest in October. There were 8 challenges to enter throughout the month and the first of the contest winners were just announced. 


The rules for this first challenge in the series:


When I grow up. Cast yourself back to six years of age, knowing what you do of life in the present; what would you want to be when you grow up and how would you go about achieving that goal? Tell us in 100 words, no more no less. It can be real or imaginary, serious or light-hearted. Extra points for comparing it to your childhood choice, if you remember it.


I thought I’d try my hand at this challenge because it’s not really in my wheelhouse, but because of the subject matter of the contest, I thought I’d give it a whirl. You can read my entry below.


Congratulations to Hugh Roberts who took the first award in this 8 part contest.


I Am Six Years Old


Who is this woman I call mother? Who are these men she’s referring to? Where is New York? Where is Las Vegas? Stories about gallivanting with men, men who weren’t my father?

My knees ached, tired from squatting at the foot of the steps, listening to Mother sharing her secrets with her best friend. It’s way beyond my bedtime.

Nobody ever knew about my secret eavesdropping on Mother’s tales. I kept it that way. I never asked but took notes, mental notes, until I’d learn to write later in life – later when I could better understand who she really was.