Saddle Up Saloon; Chattin’ ‘Bout Story Chat

Written by D. Avery @shiftnshake

       Read my writing and see my books at

January 18, 2021

“Hey Kid, look who jist come in. Isn’t thet?”

“Yep, it sure is.”

“Back fer more?”

“Yep. She’s gonna take the stage ta do some sharin’ ‘roun’ the writin’ community.”

“Thet’s what the Saddle Up is all ‘bout. Howdy, Marsha Ingrao! Welcome back ta the Saddle Up Saloon!”

“Hello Pal. Hello Kid.”

“What is it ya wanna share, Marsha?”

“At my blog, Always Write, I’ve started a new feature called Story Chat.”

“Story chat? Like, ya chat ‘bout stories?”

“Yes! When an author’s story is accepted, they get free editing and then their story appears on Always Write with their byline and bio. Then readers from a wide audience comment and speculate. The author joins in the discussion with the readers.”

“Thet sounds kinda unique.”

“That’s what Hugh of Hugh’s Views and News said!”


“Yes. The birth of Story Chat started with a conversation between Hugh Roberts and me. I had asked him to write a guest post for me. It was near Halloween and he asked if he could share a scary short story he had written but never published. The idea evolved as he, the people commenting and I chatted about his story, “People Under the Stairs“. It was so much fun and the chats built on each other. I promised I would do another post a few weeks later summarizing the comments and drawing the ideas into a conclusion. 

I sent Hugh the post before it published and he responded, ‘This is going to make such a wonderful post. I don’t believe I’ve seen another blogger do something like this, so (as far as I’m concerned) it’s unique. Of course, I’ll also share it on my blog.

The only problem I see in asking other bloggers to send you stories that have previously been published is that those stories will already have comments attached to them, so you could be asking readers to double up their comments. Far better, I think, in asking if anybody would like to share a new story with your readers so that not only will they be putting themselves and their work in front of a new audience, but that you’ll do a follow-up post about the discussion(s) the story generates.’

When Hugh said it was unique, I figured I would try posting Story Chat as a monthly event.”

“That was October. Ya doin’ it?”

“Yes, Kid! Story Chat is happening! Either I contact an author or one contacts me through the response form on the Story Chat page or posts. I read their story and if I think it has potential, I add photos or artwork, edit it if necessary, and publish it. I use social media to extend its life and ask that the author reblog it and do the same if they use social media. After three weeks of promoting the story through social media, I gather up all the comments and weave a story around them connecting their quotes with a pingback to their websites as well. That way hopefully both the commenter and the authors receive some traffic from the post. Finally, I post the links for the contributing author’s story and follow-up chat on my Story Chat page and send them a contribution widget to post on their website.”

“’Soun’s like a good deal all the way ‘roun’, Marsha.”

“Yep, sure does. So how’s it goin’?”

“Interestingly, the first month went by very quickly and I did not have a volunteer author for October. So I polished up a chapter of an unpublished book, Carrot Ranch-style, and published it. While it wasn’t as successful as Hugh’s story because I was the sole generator of interest, it did very well, and like Hugh’s, is still getting noticed. In both stories, readers squeezed out a much more robust story as they dug for underlying motives. What I really loved about Hugh’s story was that he was so vulnerable in the comments and shared how his mother’s dementia had inspired the story. It was so touching. That doesn’t happen with every Story Chat, so that was really special.

Before October ended, Cathy Cade sent me her story, “Out of Character” through the response form. I also contacted Anne Goodwin and she agreed to send me a story, and then Geoff Pard sent his story through the response form as Cathy Cade had done. Three days ago I received another response from an author who saw Hugh’s link and she has a story. So currently, if this last story looks good, I have stories ready to go until April. I am constantly on the prowl for a great author who wants to let me publish his or her story.”

“It says at yer site thet there’s a secon’ post after the story’s been posted an’ discussed.”

“Yes, Pal. The Summary.The summary consists of a 9-word summary, and an analysis of the readers’ and the author’s comments.Then the author has the opportunity to publish it as is or use the discussion to make changes.”

“Take ‘vantage a the feedback, like.”


“Did you use the discussions to revise yer October story?”

“That’s a good question, Kid. The story came out of a full length, unpublished book. It made me think deeply about motive, which I will definitely use if I go back and rewrite the book and publish it.”

“Reckon an author could find the discussion ‘bout their writin’ informative an’ give ‘em added insight fer revisions.” 

“Yes, an author can use the discussion and feedback in many ways. Or just enjoy the company!  Donna from Retirement Reflections says:

I love this post, Marsha — the highlighting of one blogger/writer and the inclusion of so many more. I look forward to other entries like this!

And your friend Charli of Carrot Ranch had this to say:

You give an author exposure, and readers a chance to develop thoughtful responses. Literary art happens between the space created between writing, reading, and discussing.

 There are more testimonials at Story Chat.”

“Sure soun’s like yer off ta a good start with this feature, Marsha.”

“I have been thrilled so far at the response to Story Chat. A lot of it rests with the author themselves and the kind of publicity they give it. Hugh is still promoting not only his story but the call to other authors. The result is that people are still coming to read his story three months after publication!”

“Whoa, thet’s somethin’.”

 “Yes, exactly. If every author took that much interest and promoted as he does, I predict that Story Chat will have a huge following within a year. I don’t expect every author to be as skilled and diligent in promoting as Hugh. However, his great example is teaching me what I can teach others about marketing. He also raises the expectations I have of myself.”

“Yep, Hugh’s always been a bit of a teacher an’ a preacher, in a good way, when it comes ta bloggin’.”

“Marsha, what d’ya hope an’ dream fer Story Chat?

“I hope that Story Chat will become something that new and experienced authors see as another venue to get their work to the public. It is a short story of 500 to 1,000 words, so there is a lot of flexibility. They can do anything with the story after it publishes, so who knows, maybe it would win prizes in a contest or end up in an anthology. With all the feedback, it could be a winning story. That would be exciting, wouldn’t it? Most of all, I want people to have fun with Story Chat and look forward to each month’s publication like they would a cherished magazine or the next episode in a Netflix series. I hope it is a chance for bloggers to meet each other on a deeper level than just pressing LIKE!”

“Amen ta thet. Folks, this here’s the schedule so far fer Marsha Ingrao’s Story Chat at Always Write.

The schedule’s at her site too, a course. Click on over there an’ partici-pate either as an author or as a reader. Thinkin’ yu’ll git somethin’ outta the ‘sperience either way.”

“Thank ya fer comin’ by an’ sharin’ this opportunity Marsha. It was a pleasure ta have ya take the stage agin.”

“Thank you, Pal and Kid.”

Wanted: Authors! #Story Chat

“Look, Pal, ya kin git a badge fer gittin’ published at Story Chat.”

“Awesome Kid. Bet they start showin’ up all aroun’ the Blogosphere.”


If asked, Pal & Kid will deny that they spill from the pen of D. Avery. They claim to be free ranging characters who live and work at Carrot Ranch and now serve up something more or less fresh every Monday at the Saddle Up Saloon. If you or your characters are interested in saddling up to take the stage as a saloon guest, contact them via

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  1. Marsha

    Thanks for the wonderful interview Pal and Kid. Would you like to write a story for Story Chat? I’d love to have you as my guests!!!

    • D. Avery @shiftnshake

      “Dunno ‘bout that, Marsha. Gotta lotta irons in the fire.”
      “An’ ashes a flashes in the pan. Yeah, ‘fraid we’re kinda busy. Kid ain’t much of a writer no how.”
      “Choose kind Pal. But yeah, I’m extra busy trainin’ my puglet, Curly. An’ I read ta her ever day. “Tween potty trainin’ an’ the readin’ she’s gonna be a real litterit pig. Guess she ain’t ready fer Shakespeare yet though. Went ta read some an’ she squealed an’ run off.”
      “Which was it?”
      Thinkin’ this innerview’ll git a bunch a real authors knockin’ at yer door Marsha.”

      • Marsha

        LOL I know that you have more irons than you have minutes to heat them. Some of them are probably sitting by the fire waiting to jump in. Curly sounds like a handful. I bet she peals out squeals of delight over books like Click Clack Moo. Y’all have a fun week, and I’ll be slipping by the saloon from time to time to see if we can snag (I mean chat with) any of those real authors you talk about, Kid and Pal. 🙂 The offer is always open, though. 🙂

      • D. Avery @shiftnshake

        Yeh, too late. Kid disappeared at chore time this mornin’. Check yer in box.-Pal

  2. Norah

    What a great project. I must admit that I’ve seen Marsha’s Story Chat posts but haven’t had the time to read or participate yet. Hopefully things will settle down as the year progresses and I’ll be able to join in the reading and commenting. Sounds like Marsha has set up something that will keep her busy and out of trouble for a good while. It sounds almost like an open online critique group – a great way to get feedback on a piece of writing.

    • D. Avery @shiftnshake

      Yep. An’ so far it’s kep her outta trouble, far’s we kin tell.

      • Norah

        That’s a good thing. 🙂

  3. Anne Goodwin

    Hugh has set a high standard with the first story, and publicising. I’m looking forward to my slot tomorrow and seeing what readers make of it.

    • D. Avery @shiftnshake

      Tomorrow! Is it a pet frien’ly event?

      • Anne Goodwin

        Only open to support dogs I’m afraid.

      • D. Avery @shiftnshake

        Ya hear that Pal? Goodwin’s open ta s’portin’ hogs. Whooee! Lit’s go Curly!.
        Ya better wear yer servus vest, Curly.

  4. Cathy Cade

    Great post and a great idea. Here’s hoping Marsha’s story chat goes from strength to strength. Honoured to have been in on the ground floor.

      • Cathy Cade

        Glad ya liked it! 🙂

  5. D. Avery @shiftnshake

    Reblogged this on ShiftnShake and commented:

    Marsha Ingrao returns to the Saloon with a unique opportunity for authors.

  6. Hugh W. Roberts

    Great to see Marsha here promoting the ‘Story Chat’ feature on her blog. I’d highly recommend any author with an unpublished short story to participate. I got excellent feedback on my story and really appreciated all the hard work Marsha put in to rounding up the comments and publishing a second post. It also got my writing lots of free publicity.
    Thanks so much, Pal and Kid, for having her over to share the details of ‘Story Chat.’

    • D. Avery @shiftnshake

      Thank ya kin’ly, Hugh. It was a pleasure ta do this inerview an’ learn more ’bout Story Chat. ‘Preciate yer feedback here!

  7. H.R.R. Gorman

    Wow, this looks really cool! I’m going to follow and see if I can watch in February. 😉

    • D. Avery @shiftnshake

      Anne Goodwin’s story went up just yesterday, really cool, hot off the press!

      • H.R.R. Gorman

        That’s my next stop right after I get caught up with my commenting, haha!

  8. Charli Mills

    This is literary art in action and makes me happy to see new ways for writers to feature their works to engage with readers. Nice interview Kid and Pal. Thanks for having Marsha at the Saloon.

  9. Chel Owens

    I love the writers you featured, so why not? I’ll look into getting onto your schedule sometime in the next five years, Marsha!

    • Charli Mills

      I love a writer willing to make a five-year plan!

  10. D. Avery @shiftnshake

    “Pal! Guess what?”
    “What Kid?”
    “I writ a story. It’s got mystery an’ intrigue but reads realistic like.”
    “Where’s it set?”
    “The Ranch.”
    “Yep, real realistic. Who’s in it?”
    “Unless I fergot someone, ever’one.”
    “Ever fictional character we ever met up with or made up at the Ranch.”
    “When’s it come out?”
    “March, at Story Chat.”
    “Congrats, Kid.”

  11. Colleen M. Chesebro

    I’m so far behind on reading posts. What an excellent idea, Marsha. D. is a star for sharing this with us all. <3

    • D. Avery @shiftnshake

      D. just pushes the buttons for Kid & Pal, who still can’t believe Shorty built a Saloon for them. (It is a relief to see the space put to good purpose.) They tell me we will be seeing YOU up on the stage soon. That should be fun!

      • Colleen M. Chesebro

        LOL! ???? I’m petrified! This week is my creative room makeover- painting and new furniture. I spend so much time there, it needs to be workable. ??

      • D. Avery @shiftnshake

        Good luck with the make-over. And don’t be scared of the Saloon stage, all the CR safety protocols are followed. All the folks that have come through have survived and some have even come back for more!


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