Saddle Up Saloon; Barroom Free For All

Written by D. Avery @shiftnshake

       Read my writing and see my books at

February 22, 2021

“Kid, whut’s goin’ on? Looks like mebbe some movie stars asettin’ at the bar. They here ta take the stage?”

“They might be some sorta celebrities, Pal, but they jist wannered in. I ain’t got no acts or innerviews lined up this week.”

 “These three ladies soun’ like they might be from thet same place as them two blokes thet come through thet time, ‘member? One of ‘em, Logan it was, tangled with yer goats.”

“Think these ladies is arguin’ a might ‘bout where they come from, Pal. Thinkin’ there’s some drama unfoldin’ right here at the bar.”

“Ya best not be eavesdroppin’ on the customers, Kid. Least ways not so’s they notice ya doin’ it. So who’s who?”

“Well, them two at the end a the bar come in t’gether. Venus – that’s the curvaceous one with the dangly earrings – said Diana needed a drink ta calm her nerves.”

“So they are going on stage?”

“On a plane. Seems she’s scared a flyin’ but Venus says she’s got ta rise above her fear.”

“She’s goin’ fer her pilot’s license?”

“Jist as a passenger. There’s some place she’s gotta visit. Cairo. Think that’s in Illinois.”

“Or Egypt.”

“Gypped? Nobody gypped me, Pal. These women is runnin’ tabs. Anyway, then this other lady come in, name a Ruth Thompson. That’s when it got kinda tense.”

“They’re campin?”

“What? No! The first two, Diana an’ Venus,  are jist on a day trip. They’ll sleep at home t’night. An’ if Diana ever gits ta Cairo, she’s gonna stay with a friend.”

“An’ who’s the older one? Thet Venus don’t look so pleased ta see her.”

“Ms. Thompson. She’s movin’ ta France ta live.”

“An’ here they are, at the Saddle Up Saloon. Strange. Hey! Whoa. Stop. Back up. Them’s characters outta Anne Goodwin’s book!”

“Which a her books, Pal?”

Sugar and Snails. Yeah. I recognize Ms. Thompson from A Postcard From the Past; was recently at Story Chat.”

A Postcard From the Past?”

“Yeah, Kid. A Postcard from the Past is a short story based on a scene from one a many drafts a Anne Goodwin’s day-bew novel, Sugar and Snails. Sugar and Snails was published by Inspired Quill in 2015 and shortlisted fer the Polari First Book Prize. Ya kin read it fer free durin’ February 2021 by registering fer Anne’s newsletter here:”

“Uh, Pal, that’s real awesome an’ all, but mebbe we best git back ta the bar. Somethin’s goin’ on.”

“Put it behind you? Just ‘put it all behind you’?  It’s that easy to start fresh, ignore your own past?”

“Ma’am, please…”

“Venus, please, just sit down. It’s not her fault. No-one knew what to do with me.”

 “Oh, jeez, Ms. Diana, yer arms. Did ya climb the Poet tree out back or somethin’? Yer scratched up purty good.”

Shit! I thought I’d dealt with that last night. Could I borrow a bar towel, Kid?

A bar towel won’t stop it, you goose! You’ve lost a humongous amount of blood. I’m taking you to A&E.”


“Whut is goin’ on? Ms. Thompson, that woman was sure lightin’ inta ya jist then.”

“I’m happy to see that Diana has such a good friend. But that’s all I can say Pal. Confidentiality and such.”

“But… Jeez. What’re ya even doin’ here at the Saddle Up Saloon?”

“I’m sure I don’t know. I’m a minor character in Sugar and Snails. Described as a hippie-haired social worker. The first ‘Ms’ Diana met.”

“Ya musta had a major impact ta keep showin’ up; first at Story Chat, now here.”

“I arranged Diana’s place at an elite boarding school as a teenager. I thought it would help her shake off the past. But it seems it wasn’t enough. If you want to know more, read Sugar and Snails. Remember, Anne Goodwin is offering it for free during February 2021 if you register for her newsletter HERE. And she’ll be discussing it soon in an online event with author Mia Farlane. You’d be welcome to join them.”

“When? Where?”

“Soon! Wednesday the 24th of February, 7 GMT. Just click HERE. Now, I must catch my plane. I have someone waiting for me in the Dordogne, someone special. I am sorry for causing tension in your lovely saloon. Good bye.”

“Bye, Ms. Thompson.”


“Kid thet was weird.”

“Ah, come on Pal, jist some harmless characters that ended up at the saloon. It happens.”

“Since when is the Saddle Up Saloon a layover for flights ta France an’ Cairo?”

“Jist this week, Pal. Jist as long as Anne Goodwin’s free e-book offer lasts.”

“Soun’s good. Reckon them women’ll ever come back by here?”

“Hard ta say, not knowin’, Pal. Why d’ya ask?”

“’Cause all three a them characters left yer bar without payin’ fer their drinks. Sayin’.”

“Yeesh! Gypped!”

“Yep, Egypt. An the uther one is done gone ta Dordogne, doggone it.”

At fifteen, she made a life-changing decision. Thirty years on, it’s time to make another.

When Diana escaped her misfit childhood, she thought she’d chosen the easier path. But the past lingers on, etched beneath her skin, and life won’t be worth living if her secret gets out.

As an adult, she’s kept other people at a distance… until Simon sweeps in on a cloud of promise and possibility. But his work is taking him to Cairo, the city that transformed her life. She’ll lose Simon if she doesn’t join him. She’ll lose herself if she does.

Anne Goodwin is the author of two novels and a short story collection. Her debut novel, Sugar and Snails, about a woman who has kept her past identity a secret for thirty years, was shortlisted for the 2016 Polari First Book Prize. Throughout February, subscribers to her newsletter can read Sugar and Snails for free: 



Twitter @Annecdotist.

Link tree

Amazon author page:

YouTube: Anne Goodwin’s YouTube channel

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. Chel Owens

    Well! I’m glad I caught ’em. 😀

  2. Norah

    Who would have thought we’d see Diana, Venus and Ms Thompson in the Saddle Up Saloon. It’s good they’re doing the rounds letting everyone know about Anne Goodwin’s great free book offer. I think Kid and Pal even toned down their conversation a bit, knowing how important it was. 🙂

    • D. Avery @shiftnshake

      Sure hope we ain’t toned down. Do feel a might rusty what with thet week off on account a Colleen’s Double Ennead Challenge last week.
      Heard tell Chel’s gonna be a guest host ever first Monday too.

      • Norah

        Are you two getting pushed around a bit?

      • D. Avery @shiftnshake

        Pushed around? Heck no! We’re real pleased ta have both Colleen an’ Chel use the space fer their own gigs. Once we settle down mebbe we could even respond ta them writin’ prompts. Or go fishin’. Point is the saloon’s still open 24/7 an’ there’ll be more fer folks there in its secon year.

  3. Jules

    I’m wondering how this is gonna work…
    I was offered a free ebook, but it wouldn’t come through because it was from across the pond.

    Is the book at the site to be read there or do you down load a link to your ebook? I just sorta figured out how to use an ebook I was gifted. But I don’t really know how to use it other than to find an author or make the print bigger for my old eyes.

    Thanks Pal and Kit and Anne for introducing these characters. Continued success to the Saloon and to all who visit!

    • D. Avery @shiftnshake

      Hopin’ Anne kin address yer conundrum, Jules. It were a good read, thet novel. Kid an’ me, we sure wish them characters well, ‘speshly thet poor Diana.

      • Jules

        I ‘m gonna have to make me a list of my friends books – I’ve got some Amazon Bucks I can spend on them.

        Soo many books not enough time.

    • Anne Goodwin's Sugar and Snails is free in February

      The download should work anywhere in the world, Jules, but sometimes the email lands in your junk mail box. I’ll see what I can work out from this end. Thanks for your interest in my characters.

  4. suespitulnik

    What a unique way to meet characters, at a Saloon run by characters. Nice to meet all of you. Good luck Anne with expanding your newsletter list.
    I like that the Saloon is expanding its walls with great ideas and interesting people, real and thought up.
    This rancher is now looking forward to Mondays as much as to the new weekly prompt.

  5. D. Avery @shiftnshake

    Reblogged this on ShiftnShake and commented:

    Come by the Saddle Up and meet three characters from Anne Goodwin’s Sugar and Snails. Get the details for your own free copy.

  6. Marsha

    Speaking of Story Chat, Kid and Pal are you ready for your Tuesday debut? Oh my gosh, I can’t wait!! The story of Wanda Lust airs for the first time EVER! Your very own short story, Kid. And it’s good. I read it already. This line on the Always Write Story Chat Page will go live after the story posts at about 7:00 am on March 2nd. “March Short Story: “Wanda-lust” by Kid and Pal AKA D. Avery of Carrot Ranch” Tell all your friends here at Carrot Ranch!

    • D. Avery @shiftnshake

      Thank you for the reblog. These characters are getting around!

      • Marsha

        Yes, they do make their rounds . I don’t know if you ever knew Manny my teddy bear, but he physically traveled around the world from blogger to blogger and wrote to tell about it.


  1. Story Chat Celebrities Visit the Saddle Up Saloon – Marsha Ingrao – Always Write - […] “Well, them two at the end a the bar come in t’gether. Venus – that’s the curvaceous one with…
  2. March Story Chat: “Wanda-Lust” @daveryshiftn, @Charli_Mills, @HughRoberts05, @cathincade, @Annecdotist, @geofflepard – Marsha Ingrao – Always Write - […] I am super honored to introduce A. Kid and his friends Pal and Curley to my friends in the…
  3. March Story Chat Summary: “Wanda Lust” – Marsha Ingrao – Always Write - […] was super honored this month to introduce A. Kid and his friends Pal and Curley from the Carrot Ranch Saddle-Up…

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