Saddle Up Saloon; World Wide Wranglin’

Written by D. Avery @shiftnshake

       Read my writing and see my books at

July 20, 2020

Saddle Up Saloon

“Pal, where’s ever’one at? Kinda quiet ‘roun here.”

“Reckon folks is off visitin’ the Buxton Festival Fringe over there in the U.K. They’s all kindsa events ta check out. An’ guess what?”

“I’m guessin’ Carrot Ranch Literary Community’s represented there.”

“Ya done guessed correct, Kid!”

“Heehee. I knew it. Saw Shorty an’ Aussie an’ Doc Ranger talkin’ it up right here at the Ranch.”

“Kid, this is fer real. Thet was Charli Mills, Norah Colvin and Anne Goodwin ya seen. Let’s jist open up the stage ta them this week, let folks see ‘em and reflect with ‘em on writin’ 99-word flash fiction.”

“Okay, Pal. An’ next week we’ll show the recordin’ of the live readin’ a the folks that responded to the Buxton Fringe challenge.”

“They are real!”

“Yep, Kid, an’ real enthused ’bout this 99-word writin’ they do. Reckon thet Anthology is good readin’ an’ a bit of a teachin’ tool too.”

“Folks, some of ya are reg’lar readers an’ writers a flash fiction. Use the comments ta reflect on 99-words. How do ya use the process? How has it hepped ya as a writer? Or mebbe ya jist wanna tell us ’bout a favorite or mem’rable prompt, or one that nearly whupped ya.”

“Kid, ‘member when Shorty stepped in it usin’ slag as a prompt word?”

“Ha! Yep, the prompt can lead in many directions. There’s a number a diff’rent inflections an’ interpretations when yer as diverse a community as Carrot Ranch!”

“Well long may they reign an’ may they never be reined in.”

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  1. Anne Goodwin (Annecdotist)

    If we’re real to Kid and Pal, does that mean we’re not real real? All very confusing.

    • D. Avery @shiftnshake

      It is very confusing, really, it is. I think they just meant that the real life Ranger did a really good job reading and reflecting on 99 word flash fiction. I’ve come to feel that the form is really potent.

  2. Charli Mills

    Slag was a word giggled about around the world! It’s quite a marvel how language twists and turns from one culture t another, and yet we all meet on the common ground of writing stories. Thanks for sharing!

    • Anne Goodwin (Annecdotist)

      I meant to bring that up with the writers last Thursday, there were some great words / terms there that maybe got distorted in translation. But I guess we had enough to discuss as it was.

      • D. Avery @shiftnshake

        In one of my flashes I mentioned bangs as a nod to that meaning of fringe, but to use the term fringe instead of bangs would have felt too foreign to me. Slag surprised me but there ya go, I learned something new. Though just now my brain can’t retrieve any example, I have noticed that words take on different meanings between generations, not just geographical locations. I suppose that’s always been true. One hardly hears the word cross for angry anymore, nor mean for cheap or overly thrifty. But there ya go, one word can lead or inspire a prompt in so very many different directions.

      • Anne Goodwin (Annecdotist)

        Yes, I noticed your bangs – the words are so different, I can see why you’d feel uncomfortable with fringe. But at least the hair falling down our foreheads fits with other concepts of fringe. I can’t imagine where bangs originates.

        You’re right about word use changing across time. In my next novel, my character Matty, growing up in the 1920s/30s wears a ‘costume’for best, which I’d call a suit. Some readers might think she’s in fancy dress. Actually, elsewhere in the novel, someone is.

      • Charli Mills

        Anne, you got me curious about the etymology of bangs and evidently it comes from the act of cutting one’s hair “bang-off.”

    • D. Avery @shiftnshake

      Thanks for sharing… thank you! Kid and Pal are pleased to have space on the Ranch for this here Saloon. And how cool is this video of Ranchers from the Wayback, looking at where Carrot Ranch has been and where it’s going.

      • D. Avery @shiftnshake

        Pioneer days, they were. But plenty of carrots then as now.

  3. H.R.R. Gorman

    I have learned how to cut unnecessary words from the 99-word challenges. Can’t have drivel wasting your space!

    • D. Avery @shiftnshake

      Yes. Cut right to the marrow of the story. Practicing getting a story to an exact amount of words is a mental-muscle building exercise, practical. No amount of being told to cut adjectives or adverbs, to choose strong verbs, can match just doing it to make the count. Every week.

  4. Norah

    I’m looking forward to catching up with the Buxton Fringe readings next week.

    • D. Avery @shiftnshake

      Right? I enjoyed your readings and reflections here in this video. You have always impressed me with your flashes. You often link them to a post about education and learning, advocating for children in your 99-word stories.

      • Norah

        Thanks so much for your kind words, D. I’m looking forward to being back in the saddle again soon.

  5. D. Avery @shiftnshake

    Kid and Pal suggest we mention a prompt that nearly whupped us. There have been many, most recently Monreal Dorb. There have been many weeks when I curse the venerable Perfesser Mills and scream in my heart “What the heck?” and then walk away, let it tumble, thinking/not thinking until an idea pops to the surface ready to be worked. Unicorns… wasn’t here for the first unicorn prompt, doubled down on the cursing for the second one. Cheated as I recall… went with narwhal whales. There’s always a go-round, as long as it’s 99 words, no more, no less.

    (PS, that just happens to be a 99 word rant! Dang you Perfesser Mills!)

    • Charli Mills

      Ha, ha! If your gonna rant, do so in 99 words. Well, look out ’cause Anne has inspired something next week and it might or might not involve a unicorn.

  6. Jules

    99 words in not that far off from other limited word flash fictions I used to partake in. To me the 99 word limit is close to writing a poem. 99 words in fiction or non, though is more like one or two maybe three short paragraphs.

    So I just adapted the way I told the story. And sometimes I still make a ‘haibun’ out of it… I’m sure though I wasn’t the first to contribute a poem in 99 words. And I’m glad that I encouraged others to try using poetry as well in their 99 word ‘stories’.

    (in 99 words)

    • D. Avery @shiftnshake

      Total flexibility here at the Ranch- prose, poetry, fiction, BOTS, essay- as long as it’s 99 words, no more no less. I too have done some other challenges but no matter the word count I prefer the puzzling of a specific number given, not “no more than” or “about” x amount.
      Yep, ya never know what’s gonna fall outta yer pen. Fun forms with Jules!

  7. Irene Waters 19 Writer Memoirist

    Lovely to listen to Anne, Norah and Charli read from the anthology and discuss writing 99 words. I think there is no doubt about it – writing 99 words hones your writing whatever the genre.

    • D. Avery @shiftnshake

      No doubt! And a useful tool with many applications. Sometimes 99 is a beginning, sometimes a distilled end product. All good.
      Irene I hope you got a pint at the bar while here at the saloon.

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