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Welcome to the Cowsino!

(Shorty carries a California apricot crate to the stage at the Saddle Up Saloon, places it in front of the mic to reach, steps up.)

(Mic check…testing…testing.)

SQUEEEAL (sorry folks that was Curly, not the mic).

(Clears throat…)

“Howdy Ranchers!

“Shorty here to tell ya’ll how much fun it is to play with word wranglers. When some of you first ambled ‘cross the plains to find this here Carrot Ranch, why it weren’t more than a dream in a sandbox. We’ve wrangled 99ers together ever since. Kid and Pal came along and them hands been real steady. What a couple a characters, them two!

“Over winter, staring into the fire to keep warm and hopeful, I thought, why not add another game? One just for fun. No collectin’, no promotin’ just old-fashioned story-tellin’ off the cuff. Course, I responded to my own way of thinkin’ with another thought — how ta make it edumacational?

“Then, the muse smiled when I heard from an associate out on the Nevada range that an old-timey slot machine was up for grabs! I had them cowpokes haul it over. We replaced the reels inside with pictures. Ya know, story pictures. Now when you place a penny and grab the one-armed bandit, it lines up three nice pictures to tell a story by, kinda like mini north stars alignin’ into a tale.

“For edumacation, I’m gonna ask ya’ll to learn and practice the Story Spine them Pixar folks dreamed up as a way ta explain the bones of a story.”

(Curly pulls a saddle blanket off a Crayola-crayoned artboard.)

“You see, a cow’s gotta head and a tail, and every tale’s gotta beginin’ and endin’. But there’s beefy stuff in the middle. If you practice this here Story Spine, you catch the song in the bones of a story. It’s got rhythm. It’s got a direction. It’s gonna add to yer 99er practice, even help you out the gate and back. I gotta list here to ‘splain the rules.”

  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!

“Cowsino Night happens every first Friday of the month, following the last show of Chel’s poemin’ act. We’ve enjoyed her immensely and hope to see her take her act to Nashville or her place out West at

“Ready ta play? Just leave your story on the comment board inside the Saloon. Have a dipper o’ fresh water, a cuppa cowboy jo, a cider, or a pull o’ La Frog and chat with the friendly ranch folks.

“See ya’ll again May 13th when Kid and Pal take over the story slots for the next Cowsino Night!”

(Puts mic down.)

(Writes note to remember to tell Kid & Pal why there’s a slot machine in their Saloon.)

(Steps off apricot crate.)

(Pulls the slot handle before swinging a leg over the saddle and rides off on Bee Bonnet to check on writers and stories living on the range at Carrot Ranch.)