Carrot Ranch Literary Community

Home » Articles posted by D. Avery @shiftnshake

Author Archives: D. Avery @shiftnshake

Saddle Up Saloon: Cowsino November 2022

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.

“Hey Pal. Yeehaw! Another Cowsino Night at the ol Saddle Up Saloon!”

“Glad ya could make it Kid. Whut took ya so long?”

“Had ta git ma Cowsino git-up on. Got ma green visor, ma arm gaiters.”

“It’s quite a git-up Kid, but ya do realize we ain’t dealin cards, right? An, despite the most recent prompt, there ain’t no roulette wheel. Not sure ya need thet fer the slot machine. Speakin a which, let’s git on back there an see what the one-armed bandit has fer us this time.”

“You ain’t done that yet?”

“I ain’t the one whut pulls the lever. Shorty does thet.”

“Oh. All this time I figgered you done it Pal. Yer usually here ahead a me an I jist assumed.”

“Nope. Shorty.”

“So Pal, what zactly do we do?”

“Thet’s a tough one Kid. The rules a play is already posted… Folks jist come by an play and socialize… hmm. Reckon we don’t do much Kid.”

“Well, leastways one of us looks good not doin much a anythin.”

“Hmmf. Let’s go Kid, it’s time.”

“Write on Pal!”

Rules of Play

  1. Use the three pictures that spin to a stop as inspiration or subjects (use in any order).
  2. Write seven sentences following the Story Spine (you don’t have to use the phrases of each step):
    • Once upon a time…
    • Every day…
    • Until…
    • Because of that…
    • Because of that…
    • Because of that…
    • Finally…
  3. Share your story here at the Saloon (post on the story/comment board below).
  4. No links to other places. Play the slots as much as you like (you can write more than one story).
  5. 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 shiftnshake@dslayton.com.

Saddle Up Saloon: Cowsino October 2022

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.

“Welcome back ta the Cowsino, ever’one. It’s the spot where ya git anuther chance ta practice yer writin chops without leavin the comfort an safety a the Carrot Ranch Literary Community.”

“Thet’s right, Kid. The famous story spine slot machine is in the Cowsino, at the Saddle Up Saloon, jist over the line from Carrot Ranch.”

“Atchally, Pal, I think it’s me an you that’s over the line. The Saddle Up is a part a the ranch, a waterin hole an restin place fer all our ranch hands an even their characters. But what ‘xactly is this story spine?”

“I first heard a story spine back in January 2020, in one a the challenge posts. In thet post lead buckaroo, Charli Mills, says the story spine kin be anuther draftin an problem solvin tool fer writers.”

“Reckon I’ll click HERE ta re-read that post an find out more.”

“Reckon thet’s a good idea. An in thet post is THIS LINK ta Aerogramme Writers’ Studio where teacher, author, and the Artistic Director of Synergy Theater Kenn Adams tells bout Story Spine, which he created in 1991.”

“But it’s basically jist a structure ta contain yer story?”

“Yeah, Kid, jist a way ta plot yer rersponse ta the three pictures thet come up on the slot machine. Ya kin switch the order a the pictures an the story ain’t gotta be zactly 99 words, not at the Cowsino.”

“An folks play as much as they like? Post their stories there in the comments; read an comment on other’s?”

“Yep, it’s a lot a low stakes fun. The rules a play’s listed below.”

“Well, then folks, look’t them pictures an play yer hand. We’ll catch ya in the comments.”

Rules of Play

  1. Use the three pictures that spin to a stop as inspiration or subjects (use in any order).
  2. Write seven sentences following the Story Spine (you don’t have to use the phrases of each step):
    • Once upon a time…
    • Every day…
    • Until…
    • Because of that…
    • Because of that…
    • Because of that…
    • Finally…
  3. Share your story here at the Saloon (post on the story/comment board below).
  4. No links to other places. Play the slots as much as you like (you can write more then one story).
  5. 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 shiftnshake@dslayton.com.

Saddle Up Saloon: Cowsino September 2022

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.”

“Try.”

“Okay…

Once upon a time…

“Last week?”

“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.”

“Have fun!”

Rules of Play

  1. Use the three pictures that spin to a stop as inspiration or subjects (use in any order).
  2. Write seven sentences following the Story Spine (you don’t have to use the phrases of each step):
    • Once upon a time…
    • Every day…
    • Until…
    • Because of that…
    • Because of that…
    • Because of that…
    • Finally…
  3. Share your story here at the Saloon (post on the story/comment board below).
  4. No links to other places. Play the slots as much as you like (you can write more then one story).
  5. 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 shiftnshake@dslayton.com.

Shame Collection

Welcome to Carrot Ranch Literary Community where creative writers from around the world and across genres gather to write 99-word stories. A collection of prompted 99-word stories reads like literary anthropology. Diverse perspectives become part of a collaboration.

We welcome encouraging comments. You can follow writers who link their blogs or social media.

Those published at Carrot Ranch are The Congress of Rough Writers.

Shameful — Conversation Overheard by Norah Colvin

“Look at that,” one mother tut-tutted.

“So shameful.”

“What is?”

“That. I’d be totally ashamed to send my child to school looking like that.”

“That’s a shame.”

“Unfortunately, our children have to mix with the likes of that. Have people no shame?”

“I’m not sure what you mean by the likes of that. Our world is enriched by diversity. The more the better, I say. It’s true some people have no shame. Nor should they. They should be proud of who they are. Except for the likes of you. You’re shameless. Shame on you.”

“Well, I —”

“Never. Obviously.”

🥕🥕🥕

Wrong by Gloria McBreen

His tiny bones were found buried deep in the earth; unworthy of a holy grave. He did no wrong! He was born from the innocent womb of a young woman. Her voice too small to be heard. Powerless against a society filled with sanctimonious humans. She did no wrong! An insignificant woman, robbed of her deserving place in society—impure, blemished, broken. But she did no wrong! Those who hid under black and white habits, the ones behind the twitching curtains, and the men who robbed and walked away, weren’t the ones who carried shame. But they did wrong!

🥕🥕🥕

Shamed: A Young Jess and Cindy Story by Joanne Fisher

“Cindy got caught kissing another girl in school!” Stephen suddenly blurted out at the breakfast table. “It was Jess she was kissing.”

Cindy’s father shot an angry look at her.

“Is this true?” Cindy’s mother asked. Cindy’s face had gone a bright red.

“Of course not!” Cindy lied. Her no good brother had tried to shame her.

“Homosexuals burn in Hell.” Her father stated. “No child of mine is going to choose to be gay.”

Cindy ran from the table and hid in her bedroom. She knew her parents would never understand. 

🥕🥕🥕

A Mother’s Shame by Nancy Brady

Julia wasn’t a natural mother, hated babysitting, but she loved her children. Julia wasn’t perfect, but she aspired to being a good-enough mother to them. When they were crying infants, Julia would sing made-up songs of “It’s okay,” and rocking them until they calmed. But over the years, there were times when she realized that she probably was less present than she should have been. Sometimes, late at night, when Julia can’t sleep because thoughts like these fill her mind, she wonders if she failed them in some way. It’s then that her face flames, feeling guilt and shame.

🥕🥕🥕

Shame by Reena Saxena

It’s that moment when you are made to feel less human – for not following a code of conduct devised by other humans. You don’t understand why the majority matters more than your originality, your right to be. You’re unable to achieve your goals because you are excluded from the club. And then you make it your business to tell others what they should do – anything to prevent shame being brought on the family or organization. You tell them affiliation is important, and secretly hope no one finds out you were guilty of defiance – once when you were more human.

🥕🥕🥕

That Harry, He’s a Hell of a Guy by Doug Jacquier

Preamble: I spent many years as a social worker and a probation and parole officer. What follows is an example of what most of us know as ‘shame’ doesn’t begin to cover what human beings are capable of and that certain lines once crossed can never be uncrossed. And, apart from psychopaths, those people know that redemption is a pipe dream.

What Harry had done was beyond shameful, so egregiously evil that his family and his friends recoiled from him in disgust. They wondered how the man that they thought they knew could do such a thing. Confession made his victim re-live the secret kept in order to survive. Harry’s punishment, even his execution, would not bring the myth of closure for them. The only way he would pay was to stop him taking the coward’s way out and make him live with what he had done until the day he died, just to be sure there was a Hell.

🥕🥕🥕

An Unoriginal Life by Scott Bailey

Why did I steal it? The one I already had was probably good enough. Now it defines me, but it is not me. I only kept it because it worked so well. The longer I had it, the better I got at using it. From the onset I learned how to leverage it for everything I wanted. I still use it like that, even at this age. Yet here I lay, withered and dying, regretting every day that passed. Me, but not really me. No one knows what a phony I am or of the shame that I carry.

🥕🥕🥕

The Building Blocks of Shame by Anne Goodwin

I thought I was hungry, but Mummy laughed because only greedy-guts ask for second helpings. I thought I was tired, but Daddy laughed because only weaklings want to rest. I thought I liked algebra, but my classmates laughed because algebra’s not cool. I’d have liked to buy the purple dress but my sister said I couldn’t carry it off. I’d have liked to date the shy guy but my friends called him a creep. I wore the clothes and married the man that met their approval. Every morning I paint a smile on my face and camouflage the bruises.

🥕🥕🥕

The Blame Game by Hugh W. Roberts

“What are these cuts and bruises? I got them when I fell over. How did I get my black eye? I walked into a door. Am I sure this is how I got these injuries? Yes. But I’m sorry for the tears. If I told you the truth, I’d bring shame on myself. The truth is that I’m a victim of domestic violence. Why does that bring shame to me? Because I’m male, and men don’t admit to being victims of domestic violence when being beaten by their wives, do they? Can you imagine the shame if people knew?”

🥕🥕🥕

Making Guilt Worse by Gary A. Wilson Stories

“You made a mistake Jodi and a family died because you threw a burlap sack over that stop sign. It was a terrible idea. A healthy person would not have done it.

“You’re guilty of making a horrific decision.

“We didn’t know your mind was such a mess until we had you checked when you told us.  You’ve been on these new medications for only a week and look how clearer your mind is.

“But sweetie, not confessing might cause authorities to penalize an innocent person. That would increase the damage you’ve done and turn your guilt into shame.”

🥕🥕🥕

Caught by Jenny Williams

My wife walked into the bedroom and I was wearing her black lace dress. The blood drained from my face, making my red rouge and lipstick glow.

“What are you doing?” She screamed, after the unexpected image of my alter ego slowly registered and then totally confused her. I was caught and in a panic stumbled out of sight into the bathroom. I struggled to undo the jammed zipper. My shameful secret was exposed. She had discovered I am a cross dresser, something I have lived with since I was four. My life and future has suddenly changed forever.

🥕🥕🥕

The Song of Shame by Nicole Horlings

If shame was a song, it would be played on an out of tune piano in a large empty room, the notes painfully, obviously, off key. The melody drifts left, lower, and deeper, and does not return to the right. The simple beat of the chords is a slow thud in the echoing silence. Close the window, lest someone below on the street accidentally overhear what is being played. Cancel plans, let no one enter this room, and bar the door if necessary. This song was meant for only one recipient: the one who needs to hear the apology.

🥕🥕🥕

Shame by Kippy

I stared at the ring he’d casually handed me and back at him; slouched on the wrought iron sofa in my livingroom. It’d been barely a year of whirlwind courtship; we were still learning each other. But the kit we’d bought stated we were well on our way to parenthood. My heart broke into a million pieces for I’d never know if he’d planned this all along, see, I lacked the courage to ask. Also, I’d always know that my “yes” resonated more with fear and shame of premarital pregnancy.

🥕🥕🥕

A Letter to Mac by Sue Spitulnik

My Beloved Mac,

I’m sorry I didn’t have enough courage to visit the United States. I have so much guilt for bowing to my family’s wishes years ago. I’m also filled with shame, for I have never told my other children about their brother, and now I am afraid to. Life is such a funny thing. My happiest memories are of us laughing and feeling alive during a horrific time. I must accept that they are only memories, not the reality of today, but they do help me carry on. I’m happy for you in your life.

Love, Truyet

Author’s Note: Truyet is Mac’s son Thad’s biological mother in Vietnam. Her father forced her to send Thad to be raised by his American father 50 years ago.

🥕🥕🥕

Mr. Shame by Ruchira

“Mr. Shame,” announced the nurse with a broad smile that displayed her braces. Her thick spectacles and wonky walk made her look like an alien. The young man raised his hand and was about to take steps toward her when a blonde sitting next to him got his attention.

“Is that your name?” she said with a snort.

“It’s Shaine. But, Teresa tends to lisp.”

“And, you have no issues with it?”

“This noun is nothing if I have not performed any shameful action. It’s all about your consciousness,” said Shane with a broad smile leaving the blonde speechless.

🥕🥕🥕

Arjeet Egoistic Villain by Simon

Arjeet Egoistic Villain by Simon Arjeet an Indian gang leader planned to make million dollar deal with an ancient map. On that day, he presented the ancient map in front of hundreds of big shots, to his shock it was written “Map” in place of map. He was humiliated, he must find the map to save his reputation, before that he must find Sherloq. Sherloq grinned as he shoved the map in his coat pocket and walked away disguised as one of them. Arjeet will soon find Sherloq and his treasure hunting journey. Sherloq teased an evil ego, he will face wrath of Arjeet.

🥕🥕🥕

Reimagined by D. Avery

This woman seems kind, look how she is with the children. Look at that garden! Go to them. It’ll be alright.

She clung to her imaginary friend. “No.”

I’ll go with you.

“I’m ashamed.”

Of me?

“No! Of me. Of my family. You know…”

I do know. I know that is your sorrow, but it is not your shame.

She sobbed then in the strong comforting arms of her imaginary friend. And when she opened her eyes, she was in the embrace of the woman, who told her she was safe now, everything was alright, she would be alright.

🥕🥕🥕

Friends Reunited by Jenny Logan

We caught up over tea after over thirty years. We had one hour and managed to cover the basics; the “edited highlights” of a lifetime.

“She’s a proper grownup,” I would tell my husband later.

I reflected on all the things not said. I didn’t mention the divorces, the abuse, the years wasted. Nor did I mention time served in a religious cult. Am I ashamed of my life? Perhaps. A bit. Had my long-ago friend done the same thing? Put a positive spin on her history? If so, had we only succeeded in making each other feel inadequate?

🥕🥕🥕

(Spot On?) Contemptible Chagrin by JulesPaige

Home rules – from the nest of your parents. The ones you are taught for polite occasions; like to mind your ‘P’s and Q’s’, don’t talk with your mouth full. Especially when you are a child to only speak when you are spoken to. Gertie learned all the right lessons. But she felt shame for those, especially the people from high political families or those with huge inheritances that they believed they could ignore some of the very basics. Some didn’t even have to have consumed great amounts of alcohol – to talk with their mouths full of food.

🥕🥕🥕

Weapon of Shame by Sadje

Don’t wield the weapon of guilt, don’t make me wear rags of regret and the ashes of shame. Your views and mine are vastly different and making me ashamed of my choices, will make us part ways forever. You don’t own me. We all have the right to live our lives as we think right. Making me feel that my choices are to be condemned is your failure. Look in the mirror and you’ll look at a hypocrite, who needs to wear that cloak of shame more than me, for usurping my right to choose. Live and let live!

🥕🥕🥕

Shame by Gia

What was happening, why were my eyes following him? Our eyes crossed again. Every time he looked at me, he saw me. He saw my imperfect emotional and perfect physical contours. I felt that look, like someone gently running a finger down my back. It was like some drug rushing through my blood and giving me a high that I had not felt in years. I was being touched, kissed, and pleasured, but I was not desired. Not this way. Damn! What was happening? Why am I thinking this? I had a ring on my finger. Shame on me!

🥕🥕🥕

A Letter to Mac by Sue Spitulnik

My Beloved Mac,

I’m sorry I didn’t have enough courage to visit the United States. I have so much guilt for bowing to my family’s wishes years ago. I’m also filled with shame, for I have never told my other children about their brother, and now I am afraid to. Life is such a funny thing. My happiest memories are of us laughing and feeling alive during a horrific time. I must accept that they are only memories, not the reality of today, but they do help me carry on. I’m happy for you in your life.

Love, Truyet

Note: Truyet is Mac’s son Thad’s biological mother in Vietnam. Her father forced her to send Thad to be raised by his American father 50 years ago.

🥕🥕🥕

Shame by Reena Saxena

She says she did not get the kind of daughter she wanted. I’ve just poured myself a drink which she considers sacrilege. One fine day, uncharacteristically she heaps praise on me. I’ve carried the garbage out twice because the house help did not turn up. Someone else who moves about with a duster in hand all day is efficient and lovable. But me – banging the keyboard or speaking in sessions – am not feminine enough. Rejection has been the predominant theme from childhood. I don’t know where to place the shame. She is not the kind of mother I wanted.

🥕🥕🥕

She Hung Her Head in Shame by Marsha Ingrao

Victoria had secrets in her younger years. Longing for a life fulfilled to have a man to share her bed and arms to hold her tight at night. She fell prey to the compliments of a married man who made her feel alive. She hid him in her closet, and let him out at parties, pretending to be friends. Her face was glass, through which she thought everyone could see. Though she tried to pull the curtains, and let down the blinds, what she had done at midnight was like the noonday sun. She hung her head in shame.

🥕🥕🥕

The Shameless Princess (a true tale) by The Curious Archaeologist

“Shameless!” The shocked women looked at the statue of Venus. A beautiful reclining semi-nude woman.

“But it’s her! A princess and the favourite sister of the most powerful man in the world. How could she do it?”

Princess Pauline Borghese entered the room, the ladies curtsied. She watched as the statue was rotated in front of her, the likeness was unmistakable. “What do you think?” she asked one of her ladies in waiting.

“Very fine,” the woman hesitated, then asked nervously. “Didn’t you feel nervous when you posed?”

“Oh no!” The Princess laughed, “The studio was very well heated.”

🥕🥕🥕

A Cryin’ _____! by Bill Engleson

Gibson listens to my sorry-assed tale. After I wrap it up, he rubs his ear the way he usually does before unloading one of his set pieces.

“That’s a cryin’…”

“Don’t say it,” I cut in.

“It’s beneath you…”

“You’re right. Shame on me…”

He gets up, strolls to the bar, orders another jug, and returns. “Help yourself, Vinnie.”

I pour the liquid solace into two glasses. He downs half of his brew, all the while shaking his head. “You’re a fool to cheat on her,” he declares.

I chugalug all of mine. Truth really makes me thirsty.

🥕🥕🥕

Making The Best by Geoff LePard

Anthony ‘Tone’ Deaffe lived with his shame. He barely left home, so embarrassed was he. When Annabelle Ringer, seeking new members for the Little Tittweaking gleeclub, called round, Tone nearly didn’t answer. However, before he opened the door, she knew his secret. ‘Oh!’ squealed Belle, ‘what balls.’ Belle knew – she’d suffered her own despair, having a whistling vagina since puberty. She studied musical genitalia at Cambridge and consoled Tone that his tinkling testicles weren’t unique. Freed of shame, they formed a duet, playing ballsy versions of film scores, being especially popular at bar mitzvahs and S&M recovery parties.

🥕🥕🥕

Shame on the Airlines by Charli Mills

The airline scam begins:

“Welcome to Chicago! Your flight to Hancock departs from Gate E5 at 6:47.”

Passengers think they have a plane to go to their destination. They’ve paid their fare. But the switches start:

“Hancock flight now departs from Gate F6 at 6:47.”

These are more gate changes. The airline is switching planes. Crews do not come with the plane. Bait and switch continue. Passengers are stranded, sleeping in clusters on seats, luggage, the floor. They rise at 3 am cold, cranky and deprived of coffee. At 6 am, the scam resumes. After a dozen changes, a single flight departs to Hancock 24 hours later.

🥕🥕🥕

Hangin Out Without Shame by D. Avery

“Pal, I’m worried I won’t come up with a response fer this un.”

“Thet’d be a shame, Kid, but nuthin ta be ashamed of.”

“What if I try somethin an it falls flat?”

“Might be a might awkward, Kid, thet’s all. Reckon this is a tough prompt. Cause there ain’t no shamin at Carrot Ranch.”

“Yer sayin this’s a shameless place?”

“S’pose. Ain’t ta say mistakes ain’t been made.”

“Guilty.”

“Uh-huh. But we’ve all learnt from em. Nuthin ta be ashamed of.”

“So it’s okay that I’m wearin ma chaps but not ma jeans?”

“Em-bare-assed ain’t a-shamed.”

“Cool beans.”

🥕🥕🥕

 “Seriously, Pal, this’s a tough prompt.”

“Ain’t’cha got sumthin yer shamed of ta write ‘bout, Kid?”

“If’n I did, d’ya think I would?”

“What’re ya most shamed of Kid?” “

Reckon it’d be if’n I ever shamed anuther. Sometimes we kin say somethin hurtful an not even know we’re doin it. But then that person ain’t gonna say anythin. Cuz their shamed.”

“Be more shameful if ya knew ya were shamin.”

“Some folks do mighty shameful things.”

“Yep. An some folks forgive em anyways. An that’s acknowledgin their mistakes an letting em learn an grow from em. Givin em room.”

🥕🥕🥕

🥕🥕🥕

Thank you to all our writers who contributed to this week’s collection!

Saddle Up Saloon: Cowsino August 2022

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.

“I sure am glad ta be back at the Ranch Pal, jist in time fer another Cowsino! Always feel like I won the lottery when I see that slot machine whirlin out story prompts.”

“I agree Kid, we’re some lucky ta have the Saddle Up Saloon where ranchers kin take the stage an the Cowsino where ranchers kin try their luck at the slot machine.”

“It ain’t luck, Pal. Ya gotta play ta win, an any playful practice at writin kin only build yer skills.”

“I reckon yer right bout this writin prompt Kid.”

“Whoa! What’re the odds a you agreein with me not once but twice! This is my lucky day. Think I’ll step up ta the slot machine an see if a story drops out.”

“Good luck Kid. Yer gonna need it.”

“Thought we agreed this ain’t about luck. Okay, let’s see… tree, ketchup, bear…

Once upon a time trouble was brewin fer B.B. Bearkly.

Every day he went into the trees ta see the forest ‘cause that’s where folks told him he needed ta be.

Until one day he went too far an lost his bearins.

Because of that the wheels of his 4-wheel drive monster Smartcar stopped turnin.

Because of that he had to walk, walk, walk, though he was still lost.

Because of that walkin he got all fit an then content too, out there in the woods an he decided ta stop tryin ta catchup ta all them folks who told him how he oughta be.

Finally he knew where he was an didn’t never wanna leave an lived happily ever after out among the trees.

“What d’ya think Pal?”

“Eh, I think yer lucky Shorty likes ya. Ya sure this has verisimilitude?”

“Versimilitude, Pal? Really? It’ll truly do an I jist hope others come play too.”

“Me too Kid. Folks, leave yer stories down in the comments below. We’d love ta read em an chat with ya!”

Rules of Play

  1. Use the three pictures that spin to a stop as inspiration or subjects (use in any order).
  2. Write seven sentences following the Story Spine (you don’t have to use the phrases of each step):
    • Once upon a time…
    • Every day…
    • Until…
    • Because of that…
    • Because of that…
    • Because of that…
    • Finally…
  3. Share your story here at the Saloon (post on the story/comment board below).
  4. No links to other places. Play the slots as much as you like (you can write more then one story).
  5. 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 shiftnshake@dslayton.com.

Saddle Up Saloon: Cowsino July 2022

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.

“Yeehaw!!”

“What’re ya so excited bout Kid?”

“It’s the first Friday a July Pal, Cowsino Night! Ever first Friday we git ta pull the handle a Shorty’s slot machine an let the stories run wild.”

“Stories come outta thet machine?”

“No, Pal, the stories come outta the folks that come by ta play. Jist use the three images ta spark a story an leave it in the comments fer folks ta read.”

“In 99 words?”

“Nope, it doesn’t have ta be 99 words, more like seven sentences that follow the story spine. The rules is listed down below.”

“Sounds like a lot a fun, Kid.”

“Yep. Fridays is fun days here at the Saloon. So far we’ve had H.R.R. Gorman, Ruchira Khanna, an Sue Spitulnik take the stage ta tell us bout dif’rent aspects a the writers’ world.”

“But on Cowsino Night the stage is fer anyone who’s inspired ta write, prompted by these three images.”

“Yep. So pick up yer pen, folks, ya kin create as many stories as ya want. We’ll read and talk with ya in the comments.”

Rules of Play

  1. Use the three pictures that spin to a stop as inspiration or subjects (use in any order).
  2. Write seven sentences following the Story Spine (you don’t have to use the phrases of each step):
    • Once upon a time…
    • Every day…
    • Until…
    • Because of that…
    • Because of that…
    • Because of that…
    • Finally…
  3. Share your story here at the Saloon (post on the story/comment board below).
  4. No links to other places. Play the slots as much as you like (you can write more then one story).
  5. 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 shiftnshake@dslayton.com.

Saddle Up Saloon: Cowsino June 2022

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.

“Holy cow, Kid! Look’t the saloon! Shorty’s got it fixed up real nice. I
like how the stage is center stage.”

“How now, Pal? What’s that cow doin in here?”

“Really? The Saddle Up Saloon’s a part a Carrot Ranch. Ranches have cows.
Asides, what’s yer beef? Yer kid goats has been through here, not ta mention Frankie’s horse
Burt, an thet hoglet a yers.”

“This is udderly dif’rent.”

“Well, here’s Shorty. Take it up with her.”

“Hey Kid. Hey Pal. I see you’ve met Tildie. This cow is trained to pull the
handle on the slot machine.”

“Slot machine? Never woulda bet there’d be gamblin in the saloon.”

“Not gambling, Kid, just takin a chance that folks will want to play with a
different kind of story prompt. See, everyone wins with this slot machine. But I need you two ta run Cowsino Night here at the Saddle Up Saloon.”

“Run Cowsino Night? You betcha! Um, what zactly is Cowsino Night?”

“That’s right, you two had already disappeared when I pulled the lever for
the first one. Just make sure Tildie pulls the handle. Then encourage folks to use all three images to write a story.”

“99 words?”

“More or less, Pal. On Cowsino Night the challenge is to use the story spine
to structure a story. Words count, but we’re not counting words. Responses go
in the comments.”

“Souns like a good time, Shorty. We’ll be happy ta hep out.”

“Every first Friday of the month.” 

“Yeehaw! Let’s git writin ever’one!”

“Yep. Be sure an read an comment on one ‘nuther’s story spines in the comments below.”

Rules of Play

  1. Use the three pictures that spin to a stop as inspiration or subjects (use in any order).
  2. Write seven sentences following the Story Spine (you don’t have to use the phrases of each step):
    • Once upon a time…
    • Every day…
    • Until…
    • Because of that…
    • Because of that…
    • Because of that…
    • Finally…
  3. Share your story here at the Saloon (post on the story/comment board below).
  4. No links to other places. Play the slots as much as you like (you can write more then one story).
  5. 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 shiftnshake@dslayton.com.

Saddle Up Saloon: Joanne Fisher in the Author’s Chair

“Folks, welcome ta another Author’s Chair. We’re thrilled ta have Joanne Fisher join us this month, all the way from New Zealand.”

“New Zealand! What an Odyssey! Pal, will Joanne treat us ta some a her sci-fi? Mebbe fantasy adventures? More tales a the farm with Jess an’ Cindy?”

“Good guesses, Kid. But here she is, let’s let Joanne tell us.”

“Howdy, Joanne Fisher! Welcome ta the Author’s Chair.”

“Hello Kid, hello Pal. The story I’m going to read is a poem story.”

“Epic!”

“It is, Kid, but I am only going to read one poem from my sequence based on The Odyssey, The Return. When deciding on which poem in The Return sequence to use, I decided to start at the beginning (since it’s a very good place to start).”

“How cool! I have a lot of questions already, Joanne.”

“Kid, I’m sure Joanne has a lot to say about the Odyssey and her sequence of poems but ‘member, the point a the Author’s Chair is ta give folks a chance ta hear fer themselves an’ ask their questions in the comments section.” 

“Thanks Pal.”

Penelope Waits

 
why do I constantly
look out our window
hoping to see your ship
returning to its harbour?
 
why do I listen for the sound
of your footsteps echoing
up to our bedchamber?
 
I know you too well
 
you've gone after
your own desires
& I'm the spider
who waits quietly
 
the thing with journeys
is that they spiral inwards
to your own dark heart
 
should you return
you'll find me here
spinning a web
to ensnare you
 
& every night I unpick it
while hungry men wait below
 
none of them
have your eyes
or your smell
 

all the heroes returned
from the wars,
except you
 
long have I dreamed
of your dark hair, tanned skin,
& sinewy form to emerge
out of the frothing sea-water
 
& into my arms
 
but I know you too well
you will come home only
when you are tired
of your journeys
 
your betrayals
your lies
 
& after so many threads
I'm tired of waiting
for our lives to begin again
 
is there anything worth
salvaging
between us?
 
Joanne Fisher



You can read the entire sequence here: https://jedigirlblog.wordpress.com/2021/10/14/the-return-full-sequence/

“Now folks, don’t forgot, this is all about engagement, so ask yer questions about this poem. I know Joanne would enjoy talking’ about it. An’ remember, names are randomly drawn from among the questions an’ comments. Congratulations ta Norah Colvin who was drawn from Liz’s reading’ last month. Norah, you will receive a copy of T. Marie Bertineau’s The Mason House.”

“Joanne Fisher lives in Christchurch, New Zealand. She writes poetry, flash fiction, fiction, and the occasional article. She has written two unpublished novels, and her poetry has appeared in magazines and journals in New Zealand and overseas. One day she hopes to eventually get round to compiling a second collection of poetry, as well as publishing some ebooks of her flash fiction.”

You can find Joanne at jedigirlblog

Joanne the Geek Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100062936245988

Twitter: @joannefisher63

Contact Kid and Pal’s writer, D. Avery, if you want to take a seat in the Author’s Chair here at the Saddle Up Saloon.

Saddle Up Saloon; Picture Promptin’

“Pal, you’re not ready? What’re ya doin’? Jeez, I figgered a picture prompt’d be purty easy from our end.”

“You’d think, Kid. An’ I think I figgered out thet the reason our writer writes is she cain’t take a decent pi’ture. I’m lookin’ through her photos an’ ain’t seen a one thet’s worth 99 words, let alone a thousand.”

“Well if ya do git a picture prompt up, it’s up ta participants how many words ta use.”

“See thet Kid? Her dang photo album is full a stuff like this. What’s the story?”

“Reckon that’s fer folks ta figger out fer themselves. Is that the prompt?”

“Well, let’s jist see what else is in here… hmm. Mebbe things is lookin’ up.”

“Mother tree, Pal! Ya pine-ally found a picture might inspire folks ta write a flash or a poem. Pal? Pal, where’d ya go?”

Elder Tree by Pal N. O’Roun   (99 words)

Trees’ stories are one of their many gifts. Go to them carrying questions and go without words and you might hear their soft voices.  

Why is this great pine the tallest tree in the woods? The parallel mounds and sinkholes and the age of its neighbors suggest that maybe this pine was young and limber when a fierce storm went through long ago. 

This pine has long witnessed giving and taking. It knows only life, in all its forms and seasons. This tree has withstood, still stands.

Let this tree whisper to you the song of your own heartwood. 

“Oh. Wow, Pal, ya even translated it from yer dialect.”

“Yep. Now folks, if I kin do it, you can. Just go where ever thet picture prompt leads ya. We look forward ta yer stories; please share in the comments or with a pingback ta yer post.”

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 shiftnshake@dslayton.com.

Saddle Up Saloon; Howdy Ann Edall-Robson

“Kid, thought I told you ta bring some order ta the saloon! The stage is a mess. Look! Thet’s a mouse!”

“By gosh it is, Pal. Looks like the order I brung was Rodentia. Mus musculus, a house mouse. Course ya’d think it’s be Mus saloonacus.”

“Enough Kid, yer bein’ ridiculous. Git thet mus— mouse— outta here an’ git our guest in here.”

“Actually Pal, this mouse, Mus, is our guest. Mus is a character from one a Ann Edall-Robson’s children’s books, Mus; A Mouse Adventure. Thing is though, I’m not sure Mus’ writer or mother knows he’s here. He doesn’t always listen.”

“Hmmf. One a those characters. Well, when yer here yer a guest, so we’d best feed the little fella.”

“Way ahead a ya Pal. Pepe is in the back cuttin’ the cheese fer Mus.”    

“Ugh. Kid, I thought Ann Edall-Robson wrote poetry an’ fiction an’ sech that reflect her real life ranchin’ heritage.”

“Yep, an’ she also publishes non-fiction an’ photography that keep the old ways alive. An’ she writes children’s books!”

“Sure is versatile, thet one. I know I injoy her column here at Carrot Ranch, Quiet Spirits. Well, Kid, we best take good care a thet little Mus until Ann can come by an’ collect ‘im.”

“No problem, Pal. What’s the worst thing that could happen?”

“Cat!”

“Relax, Pal. That feline won’t make a beeline fer Mus. That’s just ‘nuther a Ann’s characters. Meet Barn Cat Buttons, aka Baby Boy Buttons.”

“Whoa. Thet cat character seems so real.”

“He is Pal. Ya kin hear Ann talk ‘bout him here.”

“Ya sure it’s okay ta have thet barn cat in here? He’s always pushin’ the edge; might cause trouble.”

“Barn Cat Buttons’ll be all right. He knows right from wrong.”

“Oh, jeez, Kid, now there’s a white face calf in the saloon. Ann’s?”

“Yep, that’s Norman. I’ll bet Barn Cat Buttons is responsible fer Norman bein’ here. Reckon Ann’ll be lookin’ fer him. Heck we’re all lookin’ fer Norman. That book should be out soon.” 

“I’m beginnin’ ta wonder about Ann Edall-Robson. Think it’s more’n coincidence thet her characters has got attitude?”

“Well, they also have common sense Pal. But whyn’t ya ask her yerself? Here she is now. Howdy Ann Edall-Robson!”

“Good day to the two of you. It’s so nice to see you again, Pal and Kid. Sorry I’m a little out of breath. I have been all over looking for this crew of mine. I see Buttons is involved, so that does explain a lot.

“Buttons. Buttons. Buttons.”

“Oh geez, you found us. You sound just like the Wise One when he’s about to tell me something ‘wise’.”

“How did you all get here?”

“Well, you see…”

“I don’t want a story Buttons, I want the truth.”

“Okay, okay. It’s like this…We were all hanging around the barn when the Wise One came along…How does he do that, you know just show up?”

“Buttons!”

“Right, how did we get here? Like I said, we were hanging around the barn and the Wise One tells us we are supposed to get ourselves in gear and head on over to the favourite watering hole to meet up with you so we can all discuss planning Norman’s shindig.”

“Miss Ann.”

“Yes Mus.”

“Buttons has been looking after all of us, even me. He even made sure my momma knew I was coming here with him. He’s real nice. Not like that cat I met that said he was my friend and wasn’t. You know, the one you told the story about.”

“I’m happy to hear that Mus. But it doesn’t explain why you are all here bothering Pal and Kid when you should be back at the ranch watering hole. Buttons?”

“Oh, that watering hole! The one down by the creek near the barn.”

“Yes Buttons, that watering hole. How did you end up here and not there?”

“Well, the Wise One said, ‘favourite watering hole’, I knew it just had to be this one. He’s talked about coming here to have a beverage while he reads what other writers have left on the Saloon shelf to read. And he said that Pal and Kid are real nice and welcoming.”

“Oh Buttons, of course this is one of his favourite places, mine too. But I don’t think it’s quite the place for characters to come in and make themselves at home.”

“But they can see us and they talk to us just like you do!”

“Mmmhmmm, yes they do. How about, if Pal and Kid don’t mind, we have a beverage and visit a bit about Norman’s shindig?”

“Does that mean you are going to do what I always hear you doing when we are at home?”

“And what is it you hear me doing at home?”

“Talking to all us characters while you make words and squiggly lines on paper.”

“That’s called brain storming.”

“Whatever you say, Miss Ann, whatever you say. I think you and the Wise One are a lot alike, except you’re here and he’s not.”

“Buttons, mind your manners.”

“Yes m’am.”

“Well, Kid, it looks like Miss Ann has got them characters a hers reined in. Let’s go see what she kin tell us ‘bout Norman, the latest book in her Barncat Buttons series.”

“I can tell you that  Norman is available to pre-order from Ann’s website until November 28, 2021, Pal. You can order either a soft cover or hard cover book. Pre-orders will be shipped by post by December 3, 2021. Norman will be available on Amazon starting December 1, 2021.”

“Why thank you fer thet Miss Ann. Jist in time fer the holidays, a gift fer the kids.”

“This Kid wants ta read it! Reckon that’s a load off, ay, Ann, gitttin’ that book out inta the world.”

“It is a great to have finally corralled Norman, Kid. But I am working on two more Barn Cat Buttons Series books. Hoping that one of them will be published in 2022.”

“Yahoo! Keep ‘em comin’.”

“Could I guess thet children’s books is yer fav’rite genre ta write?”

“You’d be half right Pal. My favourite genre, of the several that I write in, would be a tie for first place – Cozy Mysteries and the Children’s books. This might give a better insight as to why I write for children.” 

“Reckon stories is important fer ever’one. An’ you certainly write fer ever’one.”

“It keeps me busy! I have two more books that will be published in 2022, besides the Barncat Buttons book. One is the second Brandi Westeron Mystery, and the other is a workbook to do with Indi writing.”

“Jeez, Ann. Yer doin’ all thet, an’ yer column at Carrot Ranch, an yer flashes at Carrot Ranch… how do ya do it?”

“I like to write! I think everyone likes to write. They may not admit it, and they may not have a book in them, but perhaps, short versions of prose is the place to start. So I created the Five Word Sentence Challenge that uses one of my photographs as the prompt. It is meant to encourage everyone, not just writers, to interpret the picture. Who knows, it might be the beginning of a next best seller. Each week the challenge is shared to various FB groups, including Carrot Ranchers, as well as through a weekly newsflash I send out on Thursdays with the link. To participate, bookmark the link , sign up to receive the newsflash, or follow me on FB.”

“That sounds like a fun challenge! It’s worth checkin’ out jist fer yer beautiful photography.”

“Thank you Kid. Thank you both for looking out for my wayward characters and for the refreshments.”

“You and yours are welcome at the Saddle Up Saloon any time, Ann. Best a luck with all yer projects.”

“Yep. If folks ain’t poked aroun’ yer website an’ read some a yer books, they’s really missin’ out.”

Ann Edall-Robson relies on her heritage to keep her grounded. Reminders of her family’s roots mentor her to where she needs to go. Gifting her with excerpts of a lifestyle she sees slipping away. Snippets shyly materialize in Ann’s writing and photography. She is a lover of life and all things that make us smile. Edall-Robson shares moments others may never get to experience at HorsesWestDAKATAMA™ Country, and Ann Edall-Robson where you can also contact her. Books written by Ann Edall-Robson are available through her website, at Amazon, and various other online locations

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 shiftnshake@dslayton.com.