Saddle Up Saloon; D. Avery in the Author’s Chair

Written by D. Avery @shiftnshake

       Read my writing and see my books at

September 27, 2021

“Pal, I thought the Author’s Chair feature weren’t till October.”

“Yep, hopin’ ta git someone ta read on October 11th. This here’s like a pilot.”

“Well, I’m sure it’ll take off. Okay, so we won’t have much of a role ‘cept ta innerduce, somethin’ like: 

Howdy, D. Avery. Welcome ta the Author’s Chair.”

“Hello Kid. Pal. Thank you for trying this out with me.”

“What did ya bring ta read t’day?”

“I want to share something you haven’t seen but that was prompted through the weekly challenges. You might recognize Tisquantum, more commonly known as Squanto, from responses to earlier Carrot Ranch prompts. This following one I wrote for the recent “Big Black Horse” prompt:

Reined In

They were the size of moose. Slany called those animals horses. He laughed when I asked if they tasted like deer. 

I remember a black one I saw, bigger and more muscled than other horses I’d seen. Its hide was dark and shiny. The hair on its neck was long, straight and black, like mine. 

Like all English, the man astride this horse’s back was small and dirty. But that great animal, solid and silent, did his bidding.

‘Come,’ Swany clucked, and I followed him along the crowded street to Cornhill while people gawked and stared up at me.

Okay. I’m ready for questions and comments. But first I want to remind you what Charli said in her September 23rd post:

We want to encourage reader interaction and invite the community to ask questions of the featured author. A week after posting, we will randomly draw a name from those who asked questions to offer a free book from the Carrot Ranch Community. 

For this trial run we are offering Chicken Shift to the lucky winner. 

So ask your questions about my “Reined In”— I have lots to say about this! 

And consider signing up to take a seat and read to us from your own writing. I look forward to hearing many voices from the Author’s Chair here at the Saloon.

D. Avery is the author of two books of poetry and one of flash fiction, ??with a growing number of published pieces in print, e-magazines, and anthologies. D.’s writings can be sampled at ShiftnShake. When not writing, D. is in the woods or on the water catching stories. 

View: Amazon author page

Twitter: @daveryshiftn


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  1. Rebecca Glaessner Author

    I can feel the narrator’s admiration for those creatures called horses and I enjoyed how the story flowed from discovery to longing to a dream-fulfilled. How old did you intend the narrator to be? There’s an air of youth to their voice, I can’t tell if it’s deliberate or a result of the character’s innocent fascination.

    • D. Avery @shiftnshake

      Tisquantum, usually shortened to Squanto, would have been mid thirties when he first saw horses. He likely saw them in Spain and then later in the crowded streets of London where he lived with John Swany. I think he would have been awed by horses and I hoped to show in this fictionalized recollection, an affinity for this animal. Tisquantum’s dream was to return home to Pawtuxet (Plymouth, Massachusetts) from where he’d been taken captive some four years prior to this scene, in 1614.

  2. Anne Goodwin is bringing Matilda Windsor home

    I thought you put it across well that Squanto was an adult from a non-horse culture. I had to look up Cornhill and still wasn’t sure why this was set in London’s financial centre, so the context in your reply to Rebecca helped me locate it in time. I’m looking forward to learning more about the history.

    Great start to the feature but I couldn’t get the recording to work. Might be that I have too many tabs open right now.

    PS I already have Chicken Shift which I enjoyed and hope the lucky winner does so too.

    • D. Avery @shiftnshake

      After some good friars in Spain prevented him from being sold into slavery he went to England and ended up living with John Swany who was treasurer of the New Foundland Company. Squanto used this connection to get as far as New Foundland, but the tribes here were against his tribe. But he made another connection there with a ship’s captain, Thomas Dermer, who would eventually get him home. He learned English and used that skill and his knowledge of the English to his own advantage. He was also always under suspicion because of his experiences and was not trusted by the Native group he came to live with. His own people were almost entirely wiped out by disease when he made it back in 1619, and it was his village that the Pilgrims built over.
      Anyway, I challenged myself to write with this character for the last couple of prompts. I have wondered what those years away must have been for him. The setting and situations are facts, the musing on a horse is speculation.

  3. ellenbest24

    ‘Like all English, the man astride this horse’s back was small and dirty.’ I need more if only to get why (my today head) I was offended at that line. What a strange sight the man must have looked in London especially if he was clean and everyone else dirty. I ate horse in France once. It was not a good experience more so because I did not know before I bit in to the slightly sickly sweet taste. What a good beginning to the chair.

    • D. Avery @shiftnshake

      I debated whether or not to give more background to this story but went lean, waiting for the questions. My character was a real person who lived in a complex time.Tisquantum was a Native American who’d been forcibly taken to Europe in 1614. The English at the time struck the Native Americans as being unclean and reading history has indicated that hygiene was not well known or well done in the early sixteen hundreds. The Native Americans were taller and more robust in general, and Tisquantum was recorded as being especially so, and so would have been a sight in London, as strange to the people there as seeing an animal as large as a moose getting ridden or pulling coaches would have seemed to him.
      I probably should have said more in the post about the setting of this story. Not everyone would automatically recall that Tisquantum, Squanto, was most remembered as the man who spoke English with the Pilgrims at Plymouth (in New England) and taught them the skills to survive their first years in a new environment. He spoke English because of his five years away, a time when European diseases decimated his tribe.

      • ellenbest24

        That makes perfect sense to me. Thank you for explaining.

      • D. Avery @shiftnshake

        Phew! I’m just here to make mistakes so that the authors that step up to the chair can avoid those mistakes. But if too much is told there mightn’t be any questions…
        thank you for your questions and comments!

  4. D. Avery @shiftnshake

    Reblogged this on ShiftnShake and commented:

    There’s a new feature at the Saddle Up Saloon. Every second Monday, beginning next month, the Author’s Chair will be pulled out for any writer to read something and then answer questions and comments. This is a trial run as I try to see what could go wrong. I am still unsure how the audio finally managed to get there! Let me know what you think and if you would like to take a seat in the Author’s Chair.

  5. Liz H

    Powerful comparison of Tisquantum to the tall black stallion. And a very strong statement about racist attitudes.
    Does Swany not realize wild horses can never truly be tamed?

    • D. Avery @shiftnshake

      Thanks. I was imagining he’d make that comparison. Who ever heard of taming a moose? At that time this very intelligent and resourceful man was learning the English language and always trying to use them to return home. At that point he didn’t know the Patuxets had been wiped out by disease from previous trading contacts. The trip back was not as simple as catching a ride because of political factors; in addition to learning how to negotiate and manipulate the foreigners from Europe, Tisquantum had to be wary of traditional enemies around New England. And though as a Patuxet he was in the Wampanoag Confederation, led by Massasoit, a Pokanoket, he was mistrusted and quite likely rightly so. He was plotting and scheming to have more power for himself. Had he been successful history would have been changed for Massasoit gave egress to the Plimoth settlers as a political maneuver against the Narragansetts. But Tisquantum was genuinely helpful to the Pilgrims and to Massasoit and seemed to have a friendship and mutual respect for William Bradford. But I digress. The scene I chose isn’t necessarily the most clear but this guy interests me and I can’t imagine the fortitude it must have taken to be in such a strange place so far from home, totally cut off and therefore totally reliant on the same group of people that took you and others away in violence and greed. So one lesson he did learn is not all the English were alike; every person is an individual person with their own aspirations and their own problems.

      • Liz H

        I think what really nailed the racism home for me was that final sentence. Swany clucked a command and Tisquantum followed. Uffda!

      • D. Avery @shiftnshake

        Yep, I wrote that. It may or may not have gone down like that for these two, but it may have. No matter Tisquantum was too smart and proud to not see any slight or discrepancy, any disrespect. I’m sure there was some patronizing and such. Might have read somewhere that Swany enjoyed having Tisquantum around as a curiosity. His mere presence in London would have been good publicity for the companies trying to drum up investment capital and his being able to speak English was an asset for his English “friends” as well as himself. Tisquantum was shrewd enough to talk up the wonders and resources of Patuxet to Dermer therefore generating interest in a trip there. It meant a return to London from New Foundland but it worked. They went on to Patuxet but then a whole lot else happened.

  6. Jules

    From the answered questions – tons of history. I remember visiting somewhere in Kentucky. They had this settlers villi age – that wasn’t open, but it had sort of a family tree of Native Peoples in North America and there were so many branches… But like all kin – some family doesn’t agree or believe what the other likes, thinks or does.

    (I have Chicken Shift… please randomly select someone else. I enjoyed Chicken Shift – Thanks!)

    • D. Avery @shiftnshake

      Yes, when people say, well why didn’t they (Indigenous People) just keep them (European People) away- they out numbered them. But the Northeast coast of America was very political even before the 1600’s and a change in economics introduced by the Europeans made it more so between different bands and tribes. In fact there had been a custom of letting ‘them’ ashore only briefly and only for trading. It was a calculated move on Massasoit’s part to allow the Pilgrims to settle but he needed their seeming strength (loud weapons) to fend off his people’s enemies. It sort of worked as a good alliance for both parties for a while, but ‘they’ just kept coming and there just wasn’t enough resources to go around in this new economy and new agriculture. It was Massasoit’s son, Metacom, aka, King Philip, who said enough is enough and managed to unite many groups of Native Americans against the settlers (in 1672 I think) but even so the Europeans still had some Native allies and with their help were able to maintain control of new England and justify the fear and killing and dislocation of the Native people.
      Regarding the random drawing… should you be so lucky to be drawn you will get a book, but not that delightful one about chickens crossing roads.

      • Jules

        You are very kind… thank you.

        So much history that they don’t teach in schools these days or much back then when I was in school either. 🙁

      • D. Avery @shiftnshake

        Yep. But I learned to read and kept at it. A lot of what was on the shelves of our old school was old books of old heroes from the olden days. I enjoyed them and they got me hooked on history but further reading showed me other perspectives and interpretations.

  7. Charli Mills

    When did you learn about Tisquantum? Has it been an evolution from school days as a student to later as a teacher? Do you find that writing a story like this helps you process what you know about the person by making him a character? Questions, questions! Thank you for taking the first seat!

    • D. Avery @shiftnshake

      Aw, Charli Mills.

      Well, here in New England we all “learned” about Squanto as school kids, Thanksgiving and all that. I now know there’s a lot wrong with some of what we were told and what we read, but I was hooked enough on history to continue reading and to revise the simplistic myths I started with. I have read about some of this since a kid when King Philip was kind of a hero of mine.
      You will recall I used your prompts to explore and distill some of the history of southeastern Massachusetts. That history I learned as a reader (Nat Philbrick!) and researcher before during and after being a teacher and had the settling of Massachusetts in my curriculum. Tisquantum (since rereading some of this I find I don’t have it in me to shorthand his name, though Squanto is perhaps more recognizable) any way he became an intriguing person to me for his incredible story. I knew this would be somewhat complicated and maybe should have shared something else; at first I thought to bring up one of those earlier responses that had the Wampanoags of se Mass featured (signs, wife carrying) but then challenged myself to write something fresh with Tisquantum as the subject. And as I dug into some fact finding I realized he couldn’t have been the narrator of the wife carrying story, which I cheated at anyway and changed it to alewives. See, I do that when you toss out a prompt I don’t find easy. I didn’t like the big black horse prompt either and really wondered how I could do it. The one before that was cooking show, so that of course is that fall harvest meal now mythologized as the first Thanksgiving, but that response hasn’t seen the light of day- yet. But to answer maybe one of your questions, yes, and that’s why I did go ahead with this piece. I want to say that distilling history to 99 words is a fun challenge but there is of course so much behind what 99 words can show. And when your prompts have led me to history I end up re-reading/re-searching way more than I write. Through exploring this era, this person (and his associates), to fit into a 99 word flash, I do get to know him better, or I try to. I had said somewhere else that I wondered about those five years away. The horse prompt prompted me to do more research on that. There are biographies out there but I don’t want to read them until I’ve explored a little more on my own first, and yes writing fiction about a real person and events is an exploration.
      I have always enjoyed history but have never done much about it other than read, until Carrot Ranch. I use historical persons when the prompts get too tough for me. And learned more through the process.

      If I changed one thing about this post, this trial run of Author’s Chair, I might have given a little bit more regarding the setting of the story, the time and circumstances maybe, only to make it clear that it is historical fiction. But it makes me wonder (and not for the first time) how much more is behind the curtain of the Carrot Ranchers’ 99 words that get shared every week. I encourage anyone who has wanted to say more about a character or a story to take the Chair.

      • Charli Mills

        Embarrassing to admit, but Squanto was nothing more than a cartoon character on a Thanksgiving coloring page for me growing up. We didn’t even get the “history” just the propaganda plays of Pilgrims and Indians. I taught my children differently but still didn’t have it right. I’m now deep in thought about Truth and Reconciliation as we approach Indigenous People’s Day on Monday. But I greatly appreciate the more grounded and realistic history you’ve learned, taught, and shared. I’m pleased that you challenge yourself to write history. We can better understand it through exploring different POVs. Another use of the 99s. Thank you for such a robust answer!

  8. Norah

    That’s a great introduction to the Author’s Chair, D. I enjoyed listening to you read as I read your story. Any questions (and more) I may have asked have been answered already. What an interesting piece of history. I don’t remember you writing about this before. I must have missed those stories. I hadn’t realised I had missed so much. Researching history to respond to Charli’s prompts when you find them difficult is interesting. I haven’t thought to do that. I try to dig back into the minds of young children for mine. It will be fascinating to find out what other authors do too.
    Like Anne and Jules, I also have read Chicken Shift and highly recommend it to all readers.

    • D. Avery @shiftnshake

      Yes, I think this will be an interesting and fun feature at the Saloon.
      It’s been a while since those first prompts that got me into Wampanoag history. The first was “sea mist” and my response was titled Thar Blows and that led me to Squanto and his voice.
      Thanks for coming by. I warmed the seat for you.

      • Norah

        Thanks for the link. So I had read that one before, but it’s 2 1/2 years ago so hopefully you’ll forgive me for forgetting.

  9. robbiesinspiration

    HI Ms D, I enjoyed this short extract and read all the comments which gave me a lot of additional information about the character and the setting. I really liked hearing your voice.

    • D. Avery @shiftnshake

      Thank you Robbie. I enjoyed the reading and writing for this but do not like recording myself at all. And I did it.
      Shall we tell them? Robbie Cheadle is first out of the gate to take the official Author’s Chair debut October 11! Super excited for that one!

      • robbiesinspiration

        Thanks for the shout out, Ms D. You did a lovely job with the recording and it is so nice to hear your voice. You don’t have much of [my idea of] an American accent at all.

  10. Doug Jacquier

    Fascinating story, beautifully read, and so many parallels with the treatment of Indigenous people by English white settlers (if you can call convicts ‘settlers’ ;-)) when they arrived in the late 18th century. An Indigenous man called Bennelong was a friend to the first Governor, Arthur Phillip, who took Bennelong to London and presented him to King George 111. It would be fascinating to know what he made of what he saw.

    • D. Avery @shiftnshake

      I did not know that! But yes, the indigenous people were often paraded as curiosities and novelties. That was likely Swany’s attitude and I imagine that would have rankled Tisquantum, which is what I had in mind with this piece. Thanks Doug.

  11. Gloria

    My first impression was that the narrator was a child. Then I read some of the comments. Which got me curious, and I googled Tisquantum. I have never heard of him before. What an interesting piece of history. Is this an excerpt of a bigger story that you’re writing? Fictional based on Tisquantum’s life?
    (I’m afraid I know very little about American history)

    • D. Avery @shiftnshake

      This not an excerpt from a larger work. I have only written very few 99 word scenes as a means to dig deeper and distill some of the history. (It’s because I sometimes have trouble making up stories but so want to take part in the weekly challenges.) I have enjoyed focusing more on that time through the perspective of this man.

  12. suespitulnik

    This character was new to me also, or I forgot from school way back when. Thanks for the history lesson. The back and forth comments added so much. I’ll look forward to getting to know the voices that go along with the familiar faces at Carrot Ranch.

    • D. Avery @shiftnshake

      There may be too much history here, I sure talked a lot here in the comments. I think that piece could have stood alone as a 99 word response to the challenge… it would have been one of those ones that was open to interpretation or might have left people wondering, so it was a nice change to answer questions and give some background to a 99 word story. I encourage others to maybe put a story out there that they want to tell more about.
      Oh, and I do want to drop in on your group but then I keep forgetting. Tuesdays at 8! (

      • suespitulnik

        We would love to have you drop in at Inklings. To do so you need to join us on Meetup first in order to get the ZOOM link. I’ll look forward to it. And yes, we meet every Tuesday at 8.


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