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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.

Saddle Up Saloon: Liz Husebye Hartmann in the Author’s Chair

“Folks we’re real pleased to welcome Liz Husebye Hartmann ta the Author’s Chair this month.”

“Thet’s right. You know her as a friendly Ranch hand and a real fine writer. Here she is.

Howdy Liz! Thanks fer comin’ by with a story.”

“Hello Pal, hello Kid. It’s good to be in the Saloon. I’m going to read ‘A Giant Problem Solved’.”

“Yippee! I sure enjoy yer tales.”

Giant Problem Solved  

by Liz Husebye Hartmann

(Trigger alert: Not a tale for the wee ones)

Hugo’s belly pangs rumbled down the darkening mountainside above Heffinger Hollow. He was sorely tempted to nibble on a half-cooked morsel or two of the spunky spelunkers that frequented Carbuncle Caverns. This particular group of spelunkers had surprised the village by sneaking in to the Carbuncle and setting out to explore without a guide. They’d zigged when they should have zagged on that seventh leg of the descent, and had fallen deep into the bowels of the lowest cavern of Carbuncle. 

This had proved deadly for them, but put their corpses within easy reach of Hugo.

But a bit of history, first…

Several millennia ago, the Hollow’s ancestors had agreed to a quarterly human sacrifice, demanded by the Weather Gods in exchange for good hunting, abundant harvests, a healthy populace, and the like. Then, a handful of centuries ago, Hugo had been dropped on them by an angry Goddess, who’d demanded he do something useful and make amends though service. No one dared ask what he’d done, opting instead to accept him as a member of the community, and the new middle man in the quarterly sacrifice.

The villagers were grateful that Hugo had turned out to be fairly reasonable (for a giant), as well as a terrific strategist for a modern-day tourism plan that now kept him fed, and the close-knit community of Heffinger safe from the prying eyes of the media and those pesky, intrepid folklorists. No tourist had ever registered complaint over the occasional roll of light thunder through clear skies; stormy weather always passed quickly. Dining, shopping, and spelunking plans were never canceled due to inclement weather.

And if Hugo and the Hollow had found a creative way to appease the Gods, feed the giant, keep the tourists and spelunkers coming and their local economy healthy, then that was best for everyone. After all, the villagers needed to change with the times.

But on this particular day…

On this particular day that was neither the beginning, nor the end of the quarter, Hugo was very hungry. His stomach was rumbling, and his unhappy belches began to fill the pristine sky with noxious green clouds. 

UPS delivery to remote Heffinger Hollow was dodgy at its best, and Hugo had been late in getting out his bi-monthly order for HealthyMealz Krunchy Snackz ® (registered trademark). Not one to overlook an opportunity, Hugo had reached his long arm into the lowest cavern of the Carbuncle, fished out the dead bodies with his hairy fingers, and spitted the spelunkers. Waste not, want not, he reasoned.

Now the people of the Hollow looked up at the mountain with a little bit of terror as lightning ripped across the sky. The Weather Gods were clearly not pleased. Was this to be the end of their peaceful and prosperous life?  

Hugo quickly owned up to his mistake. He swore to the Weather Gods and Goddesses that he would do better next time, and never again be caught without a proper snack to see him through to his next meal. For that reason, and to demonstrate his sincerity and commitment, he had made himself wait, stomach rumbling and popping, as he rotated the sizzling spelunkers over his camp fire with the one hand, and shook the tiny canister of Hot Seasons Cheddar Sprinkles ™ (trademark, patent pending) with the other. 

Forgiving himself, he felt he deserved an extra portion of the cheese seasoning since he hadn’t had a snack since the day before yesterday; the athletic spelunkers tended toward being quite lean, and more than a little dry. And for pre-seasoning food prep, he’d rubbed the bodies with lanolin from a couple of very large sheep he’d plucked off the mountainside, promptly replacing the dazed creatures back with their herd.

It was a brilliant bit of ethical and sustainable sourcing. 

Hugo leaned backward into a nearby waterfall and drank deeply of its tumbling waters to soothe his stomach as he waited. 

The Gods, intrigued by his culinary imagination, were appeased. No more lightning. Gone was the green cloud and noxious fumes, and a beautiful full moon rose over the mountain and into every corner of the Hollow to promise continued prosperity. The Heffinger Hollow folk raised their noses and marveled at the rich scent carried on the now-clean winds, and considered that a quick and immediate visit to the giant might be in order. They packed up their kegs of Heffinger Dark Brew and made it a party.

And of course, they all lived happily ever after, and considered a new supply chain for Hugo’s meals, as well as a different delivery service for snacks. And if Hugo had not finished nibbling spelunkers then, he is surely nibbling them still.

Snip Snap Snu, and now my tale is through.

© Liz Husebye Hartmann (2021) (10/03/ 2021)

“Thet was a fine tellin’ of a fine tale Liz. Are ya ready for questions about it?”

“I am!”

“Okay folks, interact an’ ask questions in the comments section. Ya might even git randomly drawn ta win a free book! Last month’s winner is Nan who will relieve a copy of The Fire Keeper’s Daughter.”

“Yes, grab a cup of coffee, tea, or whatever is your favorite beverage, and say hi! The valley is open, the weather hospitable, and the trolls very friendly. And since the story shared here is about as fictional as they come, feel free to pose any question. If I don’t know the answer, I’ll make something up. Cuz fiction (wink!)”

Liz Husebye Hartmann is a Midwest dabbler in fiction, modern fairytales, and poetry. Her shorter works can be found online at https://valleyofthetrolls.blog/, in various chapbooks and anthologies, and most recently, “This Was 2020: Minnesotans Write About Pandemics and Social Justice in a Historic Year” (2021). 

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; Howdy Rochelle Wisoff-Fields!

“Hey Kid. I see ya got a innerview with Rochelle Wisoff-Fields this week. I ‘member her from our first art show at the Saloon.”

“That’s right Pal, an’ the second art showin’ too. Oh, here she is now. Howdy Rochelle!”

“Hello Kid, hello Pal.”

“Rochelle, many of us know you from yer blog where ya host and write fer Friday Fictioneers. But yer also a visual artist. When did ya first idennify as ‘artist’?”

“Kid, I can’t remember a time I didn’t identify as an artist. You might say I was born with a purple crayon clenched in my fist. Some of my earliest childhood memories include those of my Sunday school classmates fighting over my drawings. 

My mother was slightly less enamored with my earliest works, saying she could never find a blank piece of paper because ‘Rochelle scribbled on every sheet.’”

“So which came first, the visual art or the literary art?”

“The visual art. Although, I was quite the daydreamer and would often make up stories in my head. Often, I would illustrate these stories on paper while I was supposed to be paying attention in class. I can’t tell you how many times this got me in trouble with my teachers.” 


“Ha!”

“I’m wunderin’, d’ya have different muses or inspirations for yer different arts?”

“What a great question. I’ve never really thought about it before. I’d have to say yes. Although my writing muse speaks to me in pictures…more like movies. I see the scenes and hear the characters’ voices. 

“My painting muse speaks to me in pictures as well. Surely, I’m not the only one, but there are times we’ll be at a restaurant or at someone’s house for dinner when I look at the glasses and think what a great painting they would make. Recently I was inspired by a ketchup bottle.

The same thing happens with landscapes. Once, while working out on my elliptical trainer I saw an amazing shelf cloud. I had to stop pedaling and snap a picture. What did we do before cell phones that double as cameras?” 


“Right? As ya know, Rochelle, we opened up this here Saloon at the beginnin’ a the pandemic, ta give folks a place ta git away an’ ta keep us busy. How was yer arts effected by the pandemic?”

“During the first few months of lockdown I finished a novel I’d been dragging my heels on.  After I delivered the manuscript and book proposal to my agent, I dove headfirst into my watercolors.” 
“So were ya more productive when staying at home during Covid, or less productive?

“One of my bloggers nailed me when he accused me of being a social media extrovert and a real-life introvert. So I really wasn’t scratching at the door begging to go out. Save for swimming. I hated the pool being closed. Anyway, back to the actual question. Was I more or less productive? When I say I threw myself into it it’s no exaggeration. There were advantages in having fewer distractions. Between painting whatever I wanted and the commissions that came in, I counted at least forty-two paintings by the end of 2020.”

“Thet seems like a lot ta me!” 

“Rochelle, tell about the virtual art fairs that you took part in.”

“As for the virtual art fairs, we artists made a concerted effort setting up Zoom meetings and virtual booths. We had a great time getting to know each other, however, at the end of the day, the fairs were disappointing in the sales department.” 

“What hepped ya the most through that time?

“Painting was the main thing. I threw myself into my art. 

Online connections like Friday Fictioneers, the blog challenge I facilitate. We have a supportive international community. 

I lost count of how many shows I binge-watched while working out on my elliptical trainer. I watched the news as little as possible. Just enough to know what was going on.

Walking around the neighborhood. I live in the perfect area for that. I might know every inch within a three-mile radius.”

“What’s a book that you think more people should read?”

“Why my books of course. Wink wink. I actually don’t have a good answer.”

“Well, I read yer trilogy an’ sure think others would also enjoy the characters an’ story.” 

“Thanks Kid.”


“Is there a visual artist or a particular painting that has influenced or inspired you Rochelle?”

“Garth Williams who illustrated the Little House books.”

“Oh yeah. The Little House books and Stuart Little and Charlotte’s Web, among others.” 

“Yes. I emulated him when I was a youngster. Norman Rockwell has always been my hero.  Mary Cassatt’s mother and child paintings speak to me. At the same time, I love the drama of Van Gogh’s works. I’m a fan of impressionists such as Claude Monet. I’d have to say all of the above have influenced my current work.” 

(Not Kid’s goats, not the Poet Tree)



“What’s the best advice you ever got?”

“It didn’t come directly to me but through a monologue of a rabbi/singer Danny Maseng. His grandfather told him, ‘Be true to your gift. Don’t waste time.’ My advice is, Keep pursuing your dreams. You’re never too old.” 

“Thank you for this innerview Rochelle.”

“Thank you Kid and Pal.”

www.rochellewisoff.com

www.rochellewisoff.com/art

www.rochellewisoff.com/books

Saddle Up Saloon; Robbie Cheadle in the Author’s Chair

“Pal! It’s our first real Author’s Chair segment! With Robbie Cheadle!”

“Robbie Cheadle? She’s a prolific writer, an’ in many genres. Whatever she shares, it’s sure ta be good. Here she is now.

Howdy Robbie. Welcome ta the Author’s Chair here at the Saddle Up Saloon stage.”

“Hello Pal, hello Kid. It’s good to be here.”

“What’re ya gonna read?”

“Today I’ll be reading Part 1 of Chapter 1 of While the Bombs Fell. I wrote this fictionalised memoir of my mother’s life growing up as a small girl in an English town during World War II. My mother, Elsie Hancy Eaton is a contributing author.”

“I am ready for questions and comments.”

“Thank you Robbie Cheadle!”

“Folks, be sure ta engage in the conversation ’bout Robbie’s readin’. Ya could git yer name drawn and win a book. Congratulations Liz Husebye Hartmann fer bein’ our winner from the last Chair!”

Robbie Cheadle is a South African children’s author and poet with 9 children’s books and 1 poetry book.

The 7 Sir Chocolate children’s picture books, co-authored by Robbie and Michael Cheadle, are written in sweet, short rhymes which are easy for young children to follow and are illustrated with pictures of delicious cakes and cake decorations. Each book also includes simple recipes or biscuit art directions which children can make under adult supervision.

Robbie has also published 2 books for older children which incorporate recipes that are relevant to the storylines.

Robbie has 2 adult novels in the paranormal historical and supernatural fantasy genres published under the name Roberta Eaton Cheadle. She also has short stories in the horror and paranormal genre and poems included in several anthologies.

Follow Robbie Cheadle at:

Website

Blog

Twitter

Find Robbie’s books:

Lulu.com (paperbacks and ebooks)

Amazon US (paperbacks)

Amazon UK (paperbacks)

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

“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

Contact: shiftnshake@dslayton.com

Saddle Up Saloon; Linkin’ Inklings

“Kid, is thet…”

“Yep. We got ranch hand and columnist Sue Spitulnik ta take the stage. Howdy Sue!”

“Hello Kid, hello Pal. It’s good to be here again.”

“I fer one am real glad ta see ya Sue. What d’ya got fer us t’day?”

“I’d like to share another stage, Pal. I’m here to invite Carrot Ranchers and any writers to take part in Inklings.”

“I ain’t got an inklin’ what thet is.”

“Inklings is a weekly online writing “critique” Zoom meeting, open to the public through the Lilac City Rochester Writers (NY state).”

“Think I mighta heard Shorty goin’ on ‘bout thet group.”

“Well, Charli Mills recently gave a great presentation to this writing group. She talked about the need for three bios and how to tweak them for specific purposes. Of course, my group was impressed with her. She was impressed with our organization and the questions people asked. It was a win-win and I got to introduce my mentor/friend.”

“So how does this work, Sue? You say anyone can take part?”

“Yes. Inklings is hosted every Tuesday from 8 PM to 10 PM EST by David Woodruff. As president of LCRW, I attend regularly. Authors take turns sharing the screen and reading small bits of their WIP work aloud. Then other attendees express what is working and what isn’t. We do our best to not do line edits as we are usually working with first drafts.”

“Soun’s friendly enough.”

“It is! I usually read my weekly 99 word flash. Even those can be improved when others see/hear them. As we say at the LCRW Inklings website:

What if there was a place you could meet your fellow writers virtually? What if there was a place where you could read your draft work to others, without having to edit it or spend hours using a spell checker? What if there was a place you could help other writers with their work… no prep necessary? Now there is. Every Tuesday 8 PM

The group is different from other groups because we focus on what the writer has left out that makes the story clear to the reader. As writers, we know what our characters are thinking and doing, but sometimes we don’t share enough details for the reader to get what we are trying to convey. This group shares thoughts of whether the writer has accomplished their goals.”

“Sounds good, Sue.” 

“It is. Barbara Helene Smith says ‘The weekly Inklings sessions provide excellent feedback on my submissions, but I also learn even more from the comments on the other contributors’ works. Join us on Tuesday evening at 8:00 and become a better writer.’ And Rick Taubold has found the group to be very helpful; ‘It has offered diverse perspectives on my writing that are hard to come by otherwise. The various comments have given me good insights on how to improve my storytelling.’

I know for me, listening to all the comments with an open mind has helped me improve my own writing because I have become more aware of what to do to engage a reader and keep them wanting more. And participants do not have to be members of LCRW.”

“Really?”

“Really. Some of us are regulars and members, but we get other participants. Inklings and can be found on Meet-up. That’s where the Zoom link for the 2-hour sessions is. You must join the LCRW meetup group to be able to click on the events tab, and then the Zoom image to get the meeting link. But there is no other obligation.”

“So we kin jist go ta   https://www.meetup.com/lilaccity-rochesterwriters/   ta join in?”

“That’s all, Kid. And you get camaraderie and feedback on your WIP.”

“Wow! Thanks fer sharin’ Sue.”

“Thank you Kid and Pal!”


I
f 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; Picture Prompt

“Kid? It’s awful quiet aroun’ here… do we got a guest? Who’s takin’ the stage this week?”

“Ain’t got nuthin’. Again. But don’t go blamin’ me, Pal, I cain’t do it all. Our dang writer— ah, shift, here she is now, this cain’t be good. D. Avery, where in heck ya been? We could use a little help runnin’ this here saloon.”

“Sorry Kid. And no, I don’t have anyone lined up for you to interview. My computer is on the fritz, I’ve been working and playing hard, and quite frankly it isn’t easy corralling people to be interviewed by you.”

“D., yer excuses is lamer ‘an a old broken down nag.”

“Whoa, back up. Shush, Kid. Yer workin’ D.? Thought ya was retired. What’re ya doin’ now thet ya ain’t teachin’?”

“Working at the local hemp farm.”

“Hmmf! Hemp? Ya makin’ rope or smokin’ dope?”

“None of the above. It’s CBD marijuana, cannabidiol type. You know, for medicinal oils and tinctures.”

“Sounds like snake oil ta me.”

“All I know is it’s a growing business. And I get paid to exercise outdoors on one of the most beautifully situated farms in the great state of Vermont.”

“Exercise? Thinkin’ ya mean manual labor.”

“Yes, but you know what the 4-H kids say.”

“No, I don’t. What d’they say?”

“Well the pledge is, as I recall, ‘I pledge … My Head to clearer thinking, My Heart to greater loyalty, My Hands to larger service and My Health to better living for my club, my community, my country, and my world’.”

“Ya tryin’ ta tell us this’s some sorta 4-H project? Growin’ pot?”

“No, Kid, but it sure does my heart, health, and head good to be working with my hands again. And I’m among good people and the operation is all organic. Worse things could be going on on that acreage.”

‘S’pose thet’s a fact. So what’ve ya been doin’ there, D.?”

“Well, this past couple of weeks it’s been a lot of weed whacking.”

“Weed whacking the weed?”

“Yes, clearing the weeds and ground cover that are around the plants. Clearing the way for harvest. And, from that work, maybe there is something we could run for the saloon this week Kid. See, when you have row upon row of repetitive work to do, your mind gets to travel a bit.”

“Uh-oh…”

“The crew and I are out there, dressed for our work, you know, long pants, boots, and a harness that helps support the straight shaft weed whacker. We march in and transform shaggy fields into regimented, groomed rows of sturdy plants.”

“Uh-huh…”

“Anyway, my mind went back to a scene from a family visit to Arlington National Cemetery a couple years ago.”

“‘Cause a them straight rows?”

“No. Because of the weed whacking brigade. On our way to the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier, where the Marine in full dress uniform makes his precise drills, I noticed men in drab green work clothes marching through the rows of headstones. They moved with precision and as a unit, their weed whackers held expertly as they maintained those hallowed grounds, keeping them in pristine condition.”

“I kin see how ya made thet connection whilst weed whacking with yer crew, D., but what’s thet got ta do with runnin’ somethin’ fer the saloon?”

“I’ve had these pictures handy for over two years. The picture in my head is stronger. I’ve thought there is a story there, but I have yet to write it. So maybe—”

“A photo prompt! Mebbe folks’ll connect ta these picture an’ they kin provide some stories!”

“Yes, exactly. Any length they wish. They can post and pingback through their own sites and/or leave their story below in the comments. And it doesn’t have to be exactly this scene. Their story could be about going to an acclaimed event, but then they see something that leaves an unexpected impression… my visit to the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier is more memorable for me because of the parallel scene.”

“When I’m at a rodeo sometimes I miss the action in the arena cuz I’m takin’ in the re-actions in the stands. An’ thet’s what I end up ‘memberin’ the most a thet event.”

“Yeah, Pal. So what’s the prompt?”

“Folks, if these here photos inspire ya ta a story, or lead ya ta a memory or story ‘bout a time thet weren’t the main event, please share in the comments or with a pingback ta yer post. Ev’ry pi’ture tells a story. What d’ya have ta say ‘bout what ya see?”

The Unknown by D. Avery

The boss calls me Manuel, calls me Mexican. Manuel is not my name, Mexico is not the country I come from. I am Guatemalan. “What’s the difference?” he asks, but does not really want an answer. 

Hundreds of people come every day to this cemetery where I do this work. These people honor their soldiers. They are awed by the endless rows of headstones, each engraved with a name. 

My father, my mother, my brothers and sisters— they had names. My village had a name. 

The boss says I am lucky to have this job. I know that’s true.

 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; Receipt Rustlin’

“Shouldn’t thet title say ‘Recipe Rustlin’’ Kid? Er did ya go an’ change the plan? Agin?”

“No, we’re good ta go. We put the word out fer summer recipes an’ some folks has sent us their receipts.”

“Receipts? Are we payin’ folks fer their recipes, or are they payin’ us? What’s the word Kid?”

“The word could be receipt or recipe. According ta Merriam-Webster 

‘Both recipe and receipt derive from recipere, the Latin verb meaning “to receive or take,” with receipt adding a detour through Old North French and Middle English.’

“The dickens, you say!”

“Yep. Receipt’s jist the older version a recipe. In fact, still accordin’ ta Miriam-Webster, 

‘The form recipe is the Latin imperative, and its original use, a couple hundred years after receipt, was not in cooking instructions but in prescriptions, where it was used to preface a list of medicines to be combined (as though to say, “take these”). Eventually that word got abbreviated to an R with a line though the leg, which we later would render in print as Rx. So on a doctor’s prescription pad, Rx originally indicated the command to take that which was listed after, and Rx (or the R with a line through the leg) eventually came to serve as the universal symbol for a pharmacy or pharmacist.’

“Well Some good summer recipes— receipts— might be good fer what ails us. Geoff LePard has an innerestin’ one here fer what he calls summer pudding that looks as easy as one, two, three. Says it’s a simple way to use up any surplus summer fruits—strawberries, raspberries, red and black currants, blue berries, etc.”

You cook up about 800gms with a tablespoon of sugar until the juices are released. 
Then you line a l litre pudding bowl with slices of white bread — the cheaper the better — that you have de-crusted and soaked in some of the juice. When the bottom and sides are complete you put the fruit gunk inside and cap with more soaked bread. 
Put a plate on the top, weigh it down and chill for a few hours.

When needed turn out and eat with cream/ice cream/yoghurt. You can freeze it too. 

“Oh, that’s seems yummy, Pal. But it looks like we put dessert first. Here’s a marinade fer some hearty barbecue an’ a substantial an’ tasty macaroni and shrimp concoction from ranch hand and columnist Sue Spitulnik. These two recipes are some a her family’s favorites.” 

Bar-b-q Chicken Marinade

2 eggs – beaten well

2 cups brown cider vinegar

2 rounded tablespoons poultry seasoning

2 teaspoons salt

1 teaspoon black pepper

1 cup vegetable oil

Mix all ingredients together, pour over chicken (with skin) to cover

Marinate at least 24 hours

Cook chicken over charcoal fire turning and basting a few times.

Macaroni – Shrimp Salad

   1 box macaroni rings – cooked

   5 or 6 hard-boiled eggs – chopped

   2 cans baby shrimp with liquid

   4 green onions – cut in small rings

Dressing

   1 cup sour cream

   3/4 cup mayonnaise

   2 tablespoons brown cider vinegar

   1 teaspoon grated celery seed

   1 teaspoon salt

   3/4 teaspoon black pepper

“An’ all the way from South Africa is Robbie Cheadle’s mielie milk bread recipe, a staple a their braais.”

“Their what?”

“Braai means barbecue, Pal.”

“My word!”

“Yep.”

Mielie Milk Loaf

Ingredients

4 x 250 ml (4 x cups) self-raising flour (or use plain cake flour and add 2 teaspoons of baking powder)

10 ml white sugar

5 ml salt

1 x 400 gram tin creamy sweetcorn

300 ml low fat milk

15 ml oil

Method

Preheat the oven to 190 C. Grease a loaf tin.

Sift the dry ingredients into a mixing bowl.

Add sweetcorn and incorporate. Add the milk and oil and mix well.

Spoon into the loaf tin and bake for 1 hour or until a cake tester comes out clean.

In South Africa, cooking meat, and other things like corn on the cob, over an open fire is popular and traditional. Here it is called a braai as opposed to a barbecue and the meat that is cooked is usually steak, boerewors (a traditional Afrikaans sausage), chicken pieces, and chops. 

The men braai and the women make the salads and other side dishes including mielie pap and tomato relish and this delicious mielie milk bread.

“Those recipes all sound real good Kid. Innerestin’ too. But what about our writer? Nuthin’ from her?”

“Shift, Pal, she don’t have too many tricks up her oven mitt. She was gonna share a couple a her father’s pickle recipes, but… 

Yep, she was all proud a hersef, was preservin’ her brother’s plethora a picklin’ cukes along with preservin’ her father’s legacy fer fine pickles. Thought that was a fine thing ta do, what with him gittin’ on in years an’ all. Was gonna organize this treasure chest too. Reckon if she don’t find them pieces a lined paper he writ on she’s gonna have ta go back an’ ask fer the secrets all over agin.”

“Hmmf. Makes ya wunner what her receipts file looks like.”

“No. It don’t. Speakin’ a recipes an’/or receipts, here’s more from Merriam-Webster:

The sense of receipt that we know today—that of a statement documenting the receiving of money or goods—began in the 16th century, and by the 17th century, both words were referring to cooking instructions. While recipe is the preferred word for that meaning today, the memory of being handed down “a receipt for cookies” does get handed down—like a beloved recipe—from older generations:

I was after a recipe (or “receipt,” as my mother called them) for corn bread that came from the heart of the Old South. 

— Theron Raines, Gourmet, May 1988

Her receipts, as she insists on calling them (rightly, too), are in the best tradition of New England cooking, often rich perhaps in eggs and cream, but not exotic… 

— The New York Herald Tribune Books, 13 Dec. 1942

“Reckon when our writer does git aroun’ ta rootin’ through thet recipe box a hers she’s gonna stir up some memories a people an’ places from her past. I know she’s been purty selective ‘bout what she collects fer thet box. There’s stories in there.”

“Yep, our fav’rite foods come with stories, Pal, ‘sociations. Mebbe some a our Saloon patrons’ll leave a recipe or a family food story in the comments.”

“What d’ya say folks? D’ya call it recipe er receipt where ya come from? D’ya have a old family recipe been handed down over generations? D’ya have a favorite cookbook or one a these file card boxes?”

Brined in 99

The cucumbers are cut lengthways and set in a crock of brine. Like him, the crock and its contents are a presence. His grandkids love or hate his infamous sour pickles. They goad one other, laugh through watering eyes as their faces twist and pucker. Some claim to like them and go back for seconds.

The Old Man’s bent walk is more labored, the slicing and onion dicing more challenging for his swollen hands, yet each summer he pickles. His progeny find the crock in its place, solid and reliable, pickles sour yet surrounded by sweet memories. Like him.

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.