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Saddle Up Saloon: Cowsino January 2023

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! The Cowsino’s done rolled over inta the new year! Write on, Pal!”

“Yep, we’re carryin on, openin up the back room a the saloon ta folks thet wanna take a gamble on this story prompt. The slot machine’s handle’s been pulled an the images has been rolled over too.”

“Well, move over, Pal, I gotta see what turned up this time. Oh. My. What the heck?”

“Step aside, Kid, they’s folks’ll know what ta do with them images. Member they’re jist an inspiration an they kin be rearranged in the story.”

“Yep, we’re pretty easy goin, it’s all jist ta git people ta writin an mebbe steppin outta their comfort zone.”

“Thinkin this could be a purty comfterble prompt, Kid. With thet story spine format there’s a structure ta follow, ya know, beginnin, middle, end, with clear cause an effect to steer the story.”

“Yep, a one thing leads ta anuther sort a story, but I notice some folks don’t always use the sentence starters, they find other wordin.”

“Thet’s okay too. An remember, we don’t count words fer this prompt.”

“So what’re we waitin fer? Step right up folks. The images have rolled ta a stop, the rules are posted below. Have fun, an play as often as ya like.”

“Yep. Ya’ve got till the first Friday a next month ta try yer hand with this prompt. Then we’ll do it agin!”

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: Snowed In

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.

“Shut the front door Kid! The snow’s driftin in.”

“Yep, it’s really comin down out there Pal. Even a virtual ranch ain’t ‘scapin this weather. But whut’re we doin? Thought Carrot Ranch was stuck in the ditch with tech troubles.”

“Shorty’ll dig the Ranch outta thet mess, Kid. In the mean time all the ranchers is takin a break, mebbe tendin ta themselves an families, mebbe stoppin by the campfire ta chat. Mebbe, if they’re lookin fer a prompt they’ll pop inta the Cowsino. It’s still open.”

“Well, if everone’s on a break, whut’re we doin here?”

“Really, Kid? Where would we go? We live here. Asides, there’s always sumthin needs tendin, ‘tween the Ranch an the Saloon.”

“Yep. I been busy gittin ready fer this snowstorm.”

“Ya fed the hosses an cattle?”

“Yep. An I drove way up inta the far reaches a the ranch ta leave off some feed fer the unicorns.”

“Thought ya didn’t believe in thet.”

“Well, jist in case. Cain’t have em goin hungry. Left em some hay, some magic beans from Pepe an Logatha, an a course a bunch a carrots, carrots a all colors, all shapes an sizes.”

“Ya done good Kid.”

“Thanks, Pal. I also was out there building snowfolks.”

“Ya been playin in this storm?”

“Not zactly playin. Figgered rollin the snow up inta snowballs is a way ta contain it, keep it from pilin up quite so deep. But it’s comin down so fast, I had ta stack the snowfolks one on top a the other. Looks like jist a few out there but there’s more, they’s standin on each other’s shoulders.”  

“They soun like real supportive snowfolks, Kid, the sort we’d ‘spect at Carrot Ranch.”

“Pal? I hate ta put more problems on Shorty’s plate, but I’m gittin worried.”

“Bout whut?”

“Tween feedin the unicorns an givin all them snowfolks a nose, I’m worried the Ranch might run outta carrots!”

“Ya never need ta worry bout thet, Kid. Theys carrots aplenny, year round, thicker’n stardust. So brush thet snow off an you take a break too.”

“What’s all this, Pal? A celebration?”

“Let’s leave thet up ta people’s ‘maginations. Jist know thet the Saloon is warm an cozy with lights an all the Ranch Yarn characters are here, sharin food an drink an stories ‘mongst themselves till the Ranch is up an runnin again. Real folks is welcome ta join in too, or kin send their characters by. We’ll look fer ya in the comments.”

“It’s real nice Pal. Bet them lights shine roun the world!”

“Yep. They do. Annii. May the light of peace an goodwill shine for all.”

“Annii.”

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 December 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.

“Kid! Bout time ya showed up. Ya know I like ta be on time fer special events.”

“The Cowsino’s a special event? But it’s ever first Friday of ever month, Pal. What’s so special bout it?”

“Sometimes ya jist flabbergast me Kid. By havin the Cowsino at the Saddle Up Saloon we pervide folks with another place ta play with words.”

“Seems like a fun place ta play with one anuther too, Pal. Ya know, commentin an discussin with one anuther.”

“Zactly Kid. It ain’t zactly like the prompt fer the 99-word challenges though.”

“No, there ain’t Shorty’s purty prose to set ya up. Jist the roll a the images in the slot machine.” “Yep, luck a the draw.”

“Think ya mean luck a the spin, Pal. An what ya git is what ya git, but ya kin switch the order a the images.”

“An no word count. But folks are incouraged ta follow the story spine format, as outlined in the ‘Rules of Play’ below.”

“Why’s that Pal? What’s the value in that?”

“Anythin thet gits a writer writin is a win, Kid.”

“Seems kinda like a recipe er somethin.”

“Yep. A classic recipe. Ya gotta follow a recipe afore ya go changin it. But dispite folks followin the recipe an usin the same three pictures, everone thet’s played has cooked up unique an savory stories, no two alike.”

“Reckon it’s a nice change a pace fer the writers an mebbe a good exercise in layin down a story quickly.”

“Yep. Thinkin the structure’s nough ta git em up an goin at a good clip, without ramblin too far afield.”

“Kin always go back ta yer story spine story an put more meat on the bones.”

“Yep. That’s jackpot!”

“Okay then folks, try yer hand at the slot machine. Give some backbone ta them three images an leave yer story for us in the comments section.”

“Ya kin leave multiple stories! Ya gotta play ta win.”

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 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.

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.

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 ChelOwens.com.

“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.)