Welcome to the Saddle Up Saloon where we feature interactive characters, real-life authors & poets, the occasional Carrot Ranch announcement, and a Cowsino story game every first Friday of the month. You can learn about the craft of creative writing, introduce your own characters to the Kid & Pal crew, discuss the writer’s journey, and be part of making literary art accessible to anyone.
“Well, yer a week late Kid. Jist hope ya ain’t a dollar short.”
“Don’t need a dollar. The Cowsino’s part a the Saddle Up Saloon, an the Saddle Up Saloon’s a part a Carrot Ranch. No need ta pay, Pal.”
“Thet’s right Kid. Folks kin play thet slot machine fer free an as many times as they like.”
“It’s a guaranteed winner!”
“Still, ya must a lost track a time or somethin Kid. Why’d ya miss pullin the arm a thet slot machine last Friday?”
“Jist did, is all.”
“Did ya go somewhere’s?”
“I dunno, it’s hard sayin.”
“Once upon a time…”
“Yeah, last week. Every day led ta anuther. Until our writer ended up stayin over ta housesit an take care a the puppies an chickens. Because a that she was all discombobulated, knew it was the weekend an all but missed that it were a new month. Because a bein outta place an outta sorts, she ended up readin a fair amount, got lost in books. Because of that, she weren’t jist outta place, she was outta time an that long weekend went by quickly.”
“Then what happened?”
“Finally ever’one ended up in their own homes an that’s when our writer finally recollected that we don’t exactly write ourselves. She needs ta least push the buttons.”
“Sometimes you push my buttons Kid, but I reckon it’s okay. Better late then never.
“Alright folks, have a look at what’s rolled aroun fer this month’s Cowsino story spine prompt. Share yer stories in the comments below an be sure ta read an comment on others’ stories.”
Rules of Play
- Use the three pictures that spin to a stop as inspiration or subjects (use in any order).
- Write seven sentences following the Story Spine (you don’t have to use the phrases of each step):
- Once upon a time…
- Every day…
- Because of that…
- Because of that…
- Because of that…
- Share your story here at the Saloon (post on the story/comment board below).
- No links to other places. Play the slots as much as you like (you can write more then one story).
- Say howdy to those playing with you! Be friendly and have fun!
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 built 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 email@example.com.
Not entirely sure what possessed me here but I hope Jimmy Webb’s not already briefing his lawyers in Elk City, Oklahoma. I’m relying on others to post eminently more sensible pieces while my medication kicks in.
A sea-green magic carpet ride
Once upon a time there was a woman who, as a teenager, had dreamed of wearing an itsy-bitsy teeny-weeny polka-dot bikini and playing Desdemona in Othello.
Every day she regretted she hadn’t had the courage to live out her fantasies.
Until she decided that at least she could wear a polka-dot blouse as an adult and imagine she was that teenager.
Because of that she started wearing the blouse when she performed Shakespeare in Macarthur Park on summer evenings and wore blue pants instead of the yellow cotton dress foaming like a wave on the ground around her knees.
Because of that she was joined by a lady wearing a hot fever ironed strip-ed pair of pants, bearing cake she’d left out in the rain, who followed in the dance.
Because of that Macarthur Park began melting in the dark, with sea-green icing flowing down and their passion flowed like rivers in the sky.
Finally, after all the loves in their lives, they built a flying bookshop together and travelled with birds like tender babies in their hands and looked down on old men playing checkers by the trees.
Maybe your self-medications did kick in? Trippy, and planted with a few earworms. Well done Sir, you were quick on the draw. Can’t wait to read your next one. (That’s right, unlimited play!)
Have to get over my attack of the vapours first. 🙂
A lovely read. I smiled (laughed to myself) all the way through. Memories …
Glad you liked it, Norah.
Flows like a song I heard once, long-ago and far away. Forget the meds, you’re just doin’ what comes natcherly!
I always wondered about that cake, Doug, and why it made me feel so sad it got left out in the rain. Good to know the rest of the story. Such passion in sea-green icing flowing down.
“Macarthur Park began melting in the dark, with sea-green icing flowing down and their passion flowed like rivers in the sky.”
The great poet Wayne Kerr approves!
Well, he would, wouldn’t he? 🙂
Once upon a time, there was a green-haired poet named Verde. Every day she wrote poems that most concluded were wordy. Until one day, a friend suggested she write syllabic poetry, because everyone knew writing with brevity was more challenging than being wordy. Finally, Verde found a book about senryu and wrote: small words, big meaning, who knew?
I know who knew. Good one, you.
LOL! I’ve been playing with end rhymes, still not my favorite but I’m having fun. 😀
That was fun to read, Colleen. Thanks.
LOL! Thanks, Norah.
Colleen, my students need to capture your senryu in spirit, lol!
Ha, ha! The senryu is humorous featuring human foibles. Young students often have a cynical nature. They would love this form! I have a harder time being funny. This was my big attempt. LOL!
OK, D. Challenge accepted, although I think this might be even more unhinged than my first effort. 😉
Hey, Big Spender
Once upon a time Cindy thought she could make it big as a singer.
Every day she would learn new songs and practice in front of the mirror, imagining the audience applauding as she became a star on the club circuit, because with lots of bookings she could go places.
Until she decided she looked too drab to really make it, so she changed to a more daring (and baring) wardrobe and became a blonde.
Because of that club owners took her less seriously.
Because of that they asked her if she’d be interested in stripping (and the tipping that went with it).
Because of that she decided that performing wasn’t really her scene.
Finally she qualified as a travelling freelance accountant because with books you can go places and you can make more money stripping assets for income-tax-avoiding customers than she ever could singing her heart out in a G-string.
Had Cindy not questioned her looks
she might now be singing, not keeping books
she’s not baring her ass, yet
she might be sad as a basset
for the creative life she forsook
Well done – again!
Once again, commerce wins out over the Arts. Can’t say I blame her, though!
Oh, the places you’ll go Dr. Seuss promised her early on. And she readied herself by reading, immersed in stories about people and places far away. She lost herself in books until it was time to make her way in the world but the world was scary and uncertain. She found that she had no sense of direction beyond her bookshelves. She missed the cozy comfort of her books. But go she must, for that is how stories go, so she picked up a blank notebook and wrote a brand-new old story of her stepping out into the world, boldly, as so many had done before. At long last she found herself and returned to restock her bookshelves.
I like to travel in books. 🙂
Thank you for traveling by the Saloon! Can’t wait to read your story.
You might have to! Wait, that is. 😉
Yes… I love how she found herself through the world of books!
Love that she returned to restock her bookshelves, D. Books, puppies, and chickens are a great place to get lost.
To boldy go… so we must. Each writing in our own way 😀
The comforting/scary contrast between knowing how a story ends and the great unknown consequences of a first paragraph beautifully put.
I can only hope you don’t see this twice. Perhaps I did not have my tongue just right when I hit the ‘post comment’ button.
I wrote one…
“Did you see them?”
“The man with the green hair and the woman with the blue boots. They’re waving at us.”
‘Keep walking, don’t look their way. Oh my gosh! I think they’re following us!”
“We’ll be okay if we just keep moving towards that boat in the grain field.”
“Don’t you mean the boat in the lake?”
“No, the one in the sea of gold waving us to go in that direction.”
“They are still behind us, now they’re hollering.”
“Maybe we should see what they want.”
“No, let’s go this way and see what happens.”
“But won’t the boat be safer?”
“The wind’s come up, it’s floated away. We need to think about this. What does the next page in the book say?”
“There’s a train station at the end of this street”
“We’ll never get there in time. Keep walking, it’ll be fine. See, there’s the bistro. The one on page 23 from the book.”
“If we stop, they’ll catch up with us. Don’t look back, keep walking until we get there.”
“There they are, sitting in the bistro. How did they get here before us?”
“Do you think we should introduce ourselves?”
Then I wrote another…
“Miss Ann, Miss Ann.”
“Mmmhmm…What is it, Buttons?”
“You were mumbling, flailing your arms, and thrashing your feet.”
“I must have fallen asleep while I was reading.”
“Well, you almost hit me with that book when it dropped off your lap.”
“Sorry Buttons, it’s a great book filled with 99-word stories that take me to the most interesting places, with the oddest of people.”
“How can someone write a story that’s only 99 words?”
“Sometimes you’re lucky and it just comes to you. Sometimes you dream it and when you wake up you play with the scenes in the dream to make a story.”
“You make that up too? I hear you’re pretty good at that.”
“I gotta go. It’s time for me to wander the ranch. Remember to latch the barn door when you leave. I don’t want those green-haired, blue-boot-wearing people coming back to the barn.”
“Were you reading my book?”
“Now, Miss Ann, you’re the one who created me and, as far as I know, I don’t read.”
“But how did you know…? ”
“It’s best I don’t say.”
“Buttons, don’t you walk away without telling me. Did you really see them?”
“You tell me. It’s your story, not mine.”
Oh, Miss Ann, I like them both, but that Buttons is some brassy!
Every so often, he forgets his manners and the barn cat with attitude sneaks out. I must remember to have a word with him. AGAIN! hehehe
Good to see Buttons at Carrot Ranch, Ann. I love how the Buttons stories flow through you.
Adam and Evelyn danced every day under the great Apple tree in the ancient garden. The snakes on the branches would look down upon the whirling loonies as they performed their dance of the imbeciles, twirling and grinding, shucking and jiving, living life without a care.
Then one day a large snake hung down from a branch holding a book in its mouth.
“Hey Snake, what the hell is that in your mouth?” asked Adam.
“Mmmmmmnnffff” said the snake. Then the snake opened its mouth and dropped the book into Adams hands, “it’s a book. I think you two idiots should read it.”
Adam and Evelyn looked the book over and wondered what “with books you can go places” meant.
“Is this book like a Passport? We need it to go someplace?” Evelyn wondered aloud.
“Maybe it’s a ticket for something, like in case we wanted to get on a train or a plane, whatever those things are?” Adam added.
Then they laughed and threw the book into the bushes that ringed the garden, “No thanks Snake, we’re pretty darn happy right here!” they said in unison. Then they got back to their dancing.
Later that night they dined on flame roasted snake cooked just right by Adam followed by a delicious apple pie baked to perfection by Evelyn. Then, full of food and ignoramity, they drifted off to sleep like the dopes they were.
Much much more than a fig leaf of your imagination, Scott. Nearly lost my morning coffee with ‘ “Mmmmmmnnffff” said the snake.’ Bravo.
Thanks, Doug, that was a fun one!
Heehee. Eden I get the allusions to their illusions. Love this!
Thanks, D., “Eden I …” always love your wordplay!
Perhaps not a mash made in heaven… but I did sort of get the story spine in the first paragraph.
The images work – here: (Title is link to my post)
Spot On? Destiny’s Children; Bound and Released
We are all young once upon a time, and everyday some of us have the advantage of knowing our parentage until either a parent dies or they are (not by choice) forcibly taken from them. Because of that secret organizations exist. Because of them, sometimes those in the worst conditions can be saved and because of that those who are saved can be recruited to continue the fight for justice. Until finally the book to the full extent of the law can stop those who fostered cruelty with the pretense of false ‘happy ever afters’.
As it was the custom, Gertie ran the DNA of all her ‘saves’. Gertie had always hoped to reunite some of the older beggar women who had also been rescued from across The Pearl (sea) with lost daughters. Or at least reunite sister siblings. There was a new younger child who would be arriving soon. Gertie had known that most orphanages changed the names of the children that they acquired. So the little girl known as Emme, wasn’t.
Is hopeful, chance slim
Years go by
Positive thinking allows
Karma room to flow
Hi Jules. Thanks for coming by to play your hand at the story spine slot machine. I hope there is a happy ending for “Emme”.
That depends on the prompts… 😉
Going Places (A continuation of the 9-26 challenge, Would you fake a broken arm for me?)
“You see,” the cat-eyed woman began, “My sister was once a prodigy, an amazing dancer who was sure to become world renown. Though we had little money, she always had dancing lessons, for we’d read enough to know there could be nothing but a fairy tale ending for such a beautiful lithesome creature as my sister, and that some day we’d all be better off for our sacrifices and her hard work and perseverance. And she practiced, all the time, everywhere and anywhere, and so it was that one day she pirouetted right out into the street and into an oncoming truck. She survived but will never again walk, let alone dance. We became even more destitute because of her medical needs. Yes, I took to stealing; I steal things for resale and I steal things that might make her happy.” The woman dabbed at her eyes. My sister dabbed at her eyes.
“How sad,” my sister exclaimed. “We don’t have much either, but when my book is published, we will, we’re going places! I have a bit of cash on me, take us to meet your sister, and you can have what I’ve got.”
I was skeptical, but of course went along with my sister, who, by the way, looked rather elegant in the cloak and her new to her earrings. We followed the thrift store woman to a rundown apartment building, where we saw a young woman sitting in a wheelchair out front. My sister gave her all the money she had, and, I, under her reproachful gaze, gave some of what I had.
“You must be chilled,” my sister said, and left the cloak with the young woman too.
“Oh, do come back and visit me again,” the girl cried as we finally took our leave.
Had my sister not sent me back to look for her missing earring I would not have seen the other sisters laughing as they counted our money, the younger one pushing the wheelchair ahead of her like a shopping cart that held the cloak, a China teapot, and a small bedsheet wrinkled where it had been knotted into a makeshift sling.
D., I think I get the gist of the story but even after reading it many times, I still can’t figure out how many people are in it. I’m sure I must be missing something, but I can’t get a handle on who’s who. How many wheelchair bound sisters are there? Who’s the thrift store woman and where did she come from? Who’s the cat-eyed woman talking to? Who keeps saying “My sister”? I did like the bit where the dancing sister gets hit by a truck, that was funny and sounded like something I’d write!
So sorry to have you read it many times. Yep, names or something might help, but this was a quick response to some quick responses to the broken arm challenge. It might make more sense if you read those first at my site, that was the intent, to start there then come here, but the whole thing might have fallen flat.
D., thanks for not yelling at me, I was pretty nervous writing that! I’ll check out your site (link) and read the other bits. Someone said it was hard to comment on my story because I don’t have a link, is that what she meant, a link to my own website or blog site or whatever? Maybe I should get one. And that little star icon with the word “like” next to it, I’d like to acknowledge peoples work but whenever I hit that, it says I need some kind of “Wordspace” account, which of course I don’t have. I do have a Goodreads thing, but I don’t know anything about it. To me that just seems like one of things you sign up for and then forget about. Oh hey, about reading your story so many times, I always read and enjoy your work so I figured it had to be me and I was right!
Scott, there’s no yelling allowed at Carrot Ranch!!!!!!! Discussion and dialogue are encouraged so you are all good and those were fair observations. We are meant to learn from each other and our mistakes and that one there, of being vague regarding characters is one I have made before, so so much for learning. I see now that it wasn’t a well thought out idea, having the conclusion over here (except I got out of a 99 word constraint, and it sort of fits the story spine) It would have worked better if I’d put more effort into this piece being able to also stand on its own, but I didn’t, I was distracted and honestly, not that invested in this story. Sometimes they are just for fun and done. (Or maybe I am lazy) But if I did want to improve this piece your questions would be excellent guides. So I should thank you, not yell at you.
Oh, and the WordPress thing. Sometimes I wish I never did, but I did start a blog site so I could participate and share and such, helpful for those prompts that use a Mr. Linky.
But there’s no reason more of us couldn’t comment and discuss right here or in the comments at the collection every week. I’d like to more but people don’t seem to come back around and I already talk to myself maybe too much. But anyway, you don’t necessarily Have to have a wordpress (or any) blogsite, but it is a way to share and show your stuff. I think of it as kind of a neighborhood openhouse, or a bunch of frontporches to sit on and watch as well as be seen. But it’s work too, all that socializing.
Thanks for taking it easy on me! On that subject of all the blog and websites and any number of other outlets, it seems like a person could end up spreading themselves too thin, sort of diluting his/her impact. I think I’ll stick to my current model of not having any online presence. I mean, I like a little group participation like here at Carrot Ranch, but any more than that and I think I would just get distracted, write less and probably start “phoning them in”. No, for right now this feels like a comfortable amount cyber-socializing.