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Saddle Up Saloon: Anyone Can Poem

Well, howdy! My name’s Chel Owens and I’ve a small confession to make: I’m not much of a rancher. The closest I’ve gotten to a rodeo is watching “McLintock!” The closest I’ve gotten to a saloon is to use the bathroom at a bar during a road trip.

What do I know? Poetry. And -believe me- poetry is amazing. It’s clever, awful, silly, serious, snarky, sincere, and beautiful.

Take Ogden Nash:
The Termite

Some primal termite knocked on wood
And tasted it, and found it good!
And that is why your Cousin May
Fell through the parlor floor today.


Or, William Shakespeare, the master prose-smith:
Sonnet 116

Let me not to the marriage of true minds
Admit impediments. Love is not love
Which alters when it alteration finds,
Or bends with the remover to remove:
O no! it is an ever-fixed mark
That looks on tempests and is never shaken;
It is the star to every wandering bark,
Whose worth’s unknown, although his height be taken.
Love’s not Time’s fool, though rosy lips and cheeks
Within his bending sickle’s compass come:
Love alters not with his brief hours and weeks,
But bears it out even to the edge of doom.
If this be error and upon me proved,
I never writ, nor no man ever loved.

Poems are the beat of life; the catchy jingle we hum whilst eating French fries (chips); the wandering phrase we think as our heart flutters in love.

Poems also terrify a large number of writers.

That’s why I’m here. Or Pal and Kid said I could use the bathroom. Either way, I’m up on this stage and I’m going to get you to write poetry. Everyone can write poetry, just like everyone can write. We each have a voice that needs expression and is beautiful when it finds itself.

So, for this introductory post, I’m not going to ask much. All I want is for you to take yourself on a date.

You heard me.

Get yourself alone, somewhere safe. If you can, go somewhere beautiful and inspirational. The catch is that I want you to bring along a notebook and writing utensil. Yes, I want paper and a pen. No, I don’t want those new-fangled electronic devices.

Step two is to get comfortable.

Third, soak in your surroundings. Meditate. Find your happy thoughts.

After all of that, I want you to word dump prosaically. Write words, phrases, observations, descriptions, and even the odd knock-knock joke –all in the form of a freelance poem.

Once you’re ‘finished,’ you’re allowed to look it over and lightly edit. Maybe you misspelled epiphany and it’s bothering you; you are allowed to fix that word. Perhaps you really hate how you compared a winter’s day to your ex-husband’s drinking habit; you may compare the snowscape to something more appropriate. The only thing you are not allowed to do is crumple up what you wrote and throw it into the saloon’s toilet.

If you’re comfortable, return to your computer thingy and share your masterpiece with me using the submission form. If not, I’ll settle on an “I did it, Chel” in the comments or through the form.

You can do it. Believe me. I can safely say that I have seen the worst poetry ever, and yours is not it.

Lather, rinse, repeat. We’ll have you poem-ing in no time.


©2021 Chel Owens

Saddle Up Saloon; Barroom Free For All

“Kid, whut’s goin’ on? Looks like mebbe some movie stars asettin’ at the bar. They here ta take the stage?”

“They might be some sorta celebrities, Pal, but they jist wannered in. I ain’t got no acts or innerviews lined up this week.”

 “These three ladies soun’ like they might be from thet same place as them two blokes thet come through thet time, ‘member? One of ‘em, Logan it was, tangled with yer goats.”

“Think these ladies is arguin’ a might ‘bout where they come from, Pal. Thinkin’ there’s some drama unfoldin’ right here at the bar.”

“Ya best not be eavesdroppin’ on the customers, Kid. Least ways not so’s they notice ya doin’ it. So who’s who?”

“Well, them two at the end a the bar come in t’gether. Venus – that’s the curvaceous one with the dangly earrings – said Diana needed a drink ta calm her nerves.”

“So they are going on stage?”

“On a plane. Seems she’s scared a flyin’ but Venus says she’s got ta rise above her fear.”

“She’s goin’ fer her pilot’s license?”

“Jist as a passenger. There’s some place she’s gotta visit. Cairo. Think that’s in Illinois.”

“Or Egypt.”

“Gypped? Nobody gypped me, Pal. These women is runnin’ tabs. Anyway, then this other lady come in, name a Ruth Thompson. That’s when it got kinda tense.”

“They’re campin?”

“What? No! The first two, Diana an’ Venus,  are jist on a day trip. They’ll sleep at home t’night. An’ if Diana ever gits ta Cairo, she’s gonna stay with a friend.”

“An’ who’s the older one? Thet Venus don’t look so pleased ta see her.”

“Ms. Thompson. She’s movin’ ta France ta live.”

“An’ here they are, at the Saddle Up Saloon. Strange. Hey! Whoa. Stop. Back up. Them’s characters outta Anne Goodwin’s book!”

“Which a her books, Pal?”

Sugar and Snails. Yeah. I recognize Ms. Thompson from A Postcard From the Past; was recently at Story Chat.”

A Postcard From the Past?”

“Yeah, Kid. A Postcard from the Past is a short story based on a scene from one a many drafts a Anne Goodwin’s day-bew novel, Sugar and Snails. Sugar and Snails was published by Inspired Quill in 2015 and shortlisted fer the Polari First Book Prize. Ya kin read it fer free durin’ February 2021 by registering fer Anne’s newsletter here:”

“Uh, Pal, that’s real awesome an’ all, but mebbe we best git back ta the bar. Somethin’s goin’ on.”

“Put it behind you? Just ‘put it all behind you’?  It’s that easy to start fresh, ignore your own past?”

“Ma’am, please…”

“Venus, please, just sit down. It’s not her fault. No-one knew what to do with me.”

 “Oh, jeez, Ms. Diana, yer arms. Did ya climb the Poet tree out back or somethin’? Yer scratched up purty good.”

Shit! I thought I’d dealt with that last night. Could I borrow a bar towel, Kid?

A bar towel won’t stop it, you goose! You’ve lost a humongous amount of blood. I’m taking you to A&E.”


“Whut is goin’ on? Ms. Thompson, that woman was sure lightin’ inta ya jist then.”

“I’m happy to see that Diana has such a good friend. But that’s all I can say Pal. Confidentiality and such.”

“But… Jeez. What’re ya even doin’ here at the Saddle Up Saloon?”

“I’m sure I don’t know. I’m a minor character in Sugar and Snails. Described as a hippie-haired social worker. The first ‘Ms’ Diana met.”

“Ya musta had a major impact ta keep showin’ up; first at Story Chat, now here.”

“I arranged Diana’s place at an elite boarding school as a teenager. I thought it would help her shake off the past. But it seems it wasn’t enough. If you want to know more, read Sugar and Snails. Remember, Anne Goodwin is offering it for free during February 2021 if you register for her newsletter HERE. And she’ll be discussing it soon in an online event with author Mia Farlane. You’d be welcome to join them.”

“When? Where?”

“Soon! Wednesday the 24th of February, 7 GMT. Just click HERE. Now, I must catch my plane. I have someone waiting for me in the Dordogne, someone special. I am sorry for causing tension in your lovely saloon. Good bye.”

“Bye, Ms. Thompson.”


“Kid thet was weird.”

“Ah, come on Pal, jist some harmless characters that ended up at the saloon. It happens.”

“Since when is the Saddle Up Saloon a layover for flights ta France an’ Cairo?”

“Jist this week, Pal. Jist as long as Anne Goodwin’s free e-book offer lasts.”

“Soun’s good. Reckon them women’ll ever come back by here?”

“Hard ta say, not knowin’, Pal. Why d’ya ask?”

“’Cause all three a them characters left yer bar without payin’ fer their drinks. Sayin’.”

“Yeesh! Gypped!”

“Yep, Egypt. An the uther one is done gone ta Dordogne, doggone it.”

At fifteen, she made a life-changing decision. Thirty years on, it’s time to make another.

When Diana escaped her misfit childhood, she thought she’d chosen the easier path. But the past lingers on, etched beneath her skin, and life won’t be worth living if her secret gets out.

As an adult, she’s kept other people at a distance… until Simon sweeps in on a cloud of promise and possibility. But his work is taking him to Cairo, the city that transformed her life. She’ll lose Simon if she doesn’t join him. She’ll lose herself if she does.

Anne Goodwin is the author of two novels and a short story collection. Her debut novel, Sugar and Snails, about a woman who has kept her past identity a secret for thirty years, was shortlisted for the 2016 Polari First Book Prize. Throughout February, subscribers to her newsletter can read Sugar and Snails for free: 



Twitter @Annecdotist.

Link tree

Amazon author page:

YouTube: Anne Goodwin’s YouTube channel

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

Saddle Up Saloon; Howdy, Colleen Chesebro!

“Kid, ya told me ya got Colleen Chesebro comin’ in this week.”

“Yep. Pretty cool, huh?”

“Yeah, but…”

“But what, Pal?”

“Well, I have ta ask, ‘cause we’re fictional characters an’ sometimes we git fictional characters in here at the Saddle Up as guests, so, I jist was wunnerin’… is Colleen fer real?”

“Of course she is, Pal. Jeez, why d’ya have ta ask that?”

“Well, mebbe she’s real, but I jist find her unbelievable.”

“She is fantastic, if that’s what ya mean.”

“Kid, I cain’t figger her out. Colleen Chesebro is a ex-military faerie whisperer? D’ya s’pose she’s got like a split pers’nality or somethin’?”

“Maybe you oughtta split, Pal, ‘cause here she is now. Jist shush an’ be polite fer g’ness sakes. Howdy Colleen! Welcome ta the Saddle Up Saloon.”

“Colleen Chesebro! I kin ask her m’sef.”

“That’s enough ‘bout what she’s done, Pal. Shush now. I wanna know more ‘bout what Colleen’s up ta now.”

“Hello Kid. Hello Pal. Kid, if Pal has questions for me I don’t mind. I certainly don’t want to remain “unbelievable”.  Ask away, Pal. Maybe I can convince you I’m for real.”

“Ha, Kid! Thank you, Colleen. Well, were ya really in the military?”

“Yes, Pal, I served in the Air Force.”

“Thought so. But I tend ta think a ya as a writer an’ a blogger.”

“I’m glad you do, Pal! But it was the Air Force that taught me how to be a multi-tasker. With writing and blogging, you are always doing a few things at one time—writing and sharing to social media, commenting, encouraging others, and sharing your thoughts. I wear many hats in my world. I work hard splitting my time between the things I love, like writing poetry, and the things I don’t love, like cleaning and doing laundry! LOL!”

“Huh. Did ya write when ya was in the Air Force?”

“Yes, I was a Chapel Management Specialist, and an Administrative Specialist— a paper pusher! I also learned bookkeeping and kept the books for the different Chaplain accounts, ordered supplies, and set up the altars for services.”

“Holy— chaps? Or chapel did ya say?”

“Said chapel Pal. At my first base, Moody AFB, GA, I was the Chapel Historian. I updated the official records of happenings for the Chapel each year. I also created the different programs for the many different church services held at the Chapel.”

“Write on!”

“You bet I did, Pal. My next assignment was at Luke AFB, AZ. In 1980, I helped write the first regulation for the USAF women’s dress code during pregnancy. I was enlisted, so an officer’s name signed off on the regulation, but I wrote it. That’s the way it was in the late 1970’s and early 1980’s. Women were enlisting in the military in droves by then. The men didn’t know what to do with us.”

“Huh. So ya’ve been a writer fer a while, in a way. When ya got outta the Air force did ya write fer a livin’?”

“My subsequent civilian jobs found me working in accounting. Through the years, I was a bookkeeper for a builder in California, an oil company in Montana, a ranch in Montana, a law firm in Montana, a tax and accounting firm in Montana, and I even worked for a bit in the accounting department in a hospital in Montana. Before I retired, I dabbled in selling home and auto insurance. I left when I discovered I was rotten at selling. LOL!”

“Well, thet ‘splains some shift, don’t it Kid? The syll’ble countin’? The ‘finity fer the Ranch?”

“Reckon it does, Pal. Colleen, did ya write much afore joinin’ up with the Air Force?”

“I’ve always dabbled in writing and poetry, KId. It was escapism for me and still is.” 

“Yep, kin relate a might. Colleen, ya been busy in many ways lately. Ya jist traveled from Arizona ta Michigan. Heard tell these are strange times. As ya traveled, what’d ya spy with yer Poet’s eye?”

 “From Arizona, all the way through Illinois, huge swaths of the western and midwestern landscape were dotted with silver wind turbines. I thought about what it would be like to be an alien landing on our planet and seeing these three-armed machines. Like the gods, we’d harnessed the power of the wind to do our bidding. Would they recognize us as magical beings? See where my mind always goes? LOL!”

“Are ya referrin’ ta yer faerie an’ magic innerests?”

 “Yes. I am, Kid. When I started blogging in April of 2014, I didn’t have a clue as to what I wanted to do with my writing.”


“Then, not long after I started blogging, I had an interesting experience. On a warm November morning (we lived in Pensacola, Florida then) I set out on one of my normal morning walks. Near the side of the road, I observed what I perceived to be a bird, flapping around in the bushes. Upon closer observation, I realized it wasn’t a bird at all! I stared into the green eyes of a faery hovering over the swamp. Yup… you heard me right. A faery! At least, that’s how my mind interpreted the event.”

“I read thet in yer book Faeries, Myths & Magic.”

“Yes. It was quite an experience. It gave me pause, but, seriously, looking back now, I know I saw a faery elemental.”

“We believe ya. We got chapfaeries keepin’ an eye on things here at the Saloon.”

“So you know about this. Faery elementals are nature beings based off earth, water, air, or fire. This tiny being was possibly an undine or water elemental. Although, she did fly, so good chance she was a sylph, a being of air.”

“Soun’s like ya done studied up on these things.”

“Yes, I have!”

“Were ya skeered Colleen?”

“No, Kid. I felt no animosity from this experience. Instead, this experience ignited my interest in the fey and all things magical. It literally was an eye-opening, almost spiritual experience. Since then, I’ve connected with another part of me I’d never explored before. I felt like the lotus; my life experiences the petals that opened me to new realities, like faery-craft, and other pagan interests.”

“Cool! I also have an in’rest in pigs an’ sech, Colleen.”

“Pigs and— ? No, Kid, pagan. I’m a pagan and a Buddhist, which led me to my love of syllabic poetry. There is something special about haiku and the other forms that fill a place in my heart. I think it’s the brevity of words, expressed in a few syllables, which holds so much meaning. I find the composition of these poems almost like a puzzle. You must find the right words and syllables to convey the perfect meaning.”

“Yep, yep, we git thet. Not fer nuthin’, Mz. Colleen, but we got a Poet’s Tree out back. An offshoot from the ‘riginal one back et the Ranch.”

“I know. You both write buckaroo-ku. What exactly is that?”

“Um, well, if we were ta look back in the archives, we’d prob’ly find thet it’s not real clear.”

“Yep, Pal’s right. It’s murky-like. I think most times it’s adhere’d ta some syllable count, an’ most times it’s ranch set, but oft times it’s jist whatever falls from the tree.”

“That’s nuts!”

“Yep. It’s what we do. But yer a bit more disciplined ‘bout yer poe’try. A reg’lar Metrist.”

“(Told ya Kid, thet’s thet mil’try backround. Hup, hup!)”

“An’ I told ya ta shush Pal, be polite.”

“Ha! You two! I am a military metrist. And a pagan and a Buddhist.  So sure; meanwhile, back on the blogs… I found a haiku challenge to participate in. When I first started blogging there weren’t any poetry challenges but this one. After that I created Writers Quote Wednesday, where bloggers could choose a quote and write about a theme I’d suggested.”

“Didn’t Marsha Ingrao jist take thet over?” 

“Yes, because I’m so busy! Thank you Marsha!”

“What’s yer mainstay, Colleen?”

“Well, by 2016, I decided to begin my challenge, Tanka Tuesday, and it’s still running strong today! Between my interests in faeries and poetry, well… that’s how I became a “word-witch!”

“So is thet what yer blog’s about now? Word witchin’ with the Tanka Tuesday challenge?”

“Well, there’s that and a whole lot more at Word Craft ~ Prose & Poetry.  Word Craft ~ Prose & Poetry is an uplifting community where poets can learn the basics of writing Japanese and American syllabic poetry by sharing their own poetic inspiration within a weekly poetry challenge called Tanka Tuesday. Participants submit their poetry written in one of the twelve forms: haiku, senryu, haiga, tanka, gogyohka, haibun, tanka prose, renga, cinquain, and its variations, Etheree, nonet, and/or shadorma.”

“Yep, thet’s a pop’lar challenge. An’ a good place fer folks ta learn an’ try new forms. There’s clear d’recshuns an’ links.”

“Exactly. And it’s a community. Poets receive positive feedback from peers who inspire each other to stretch their creativity. Participants and readers return each week to celebrate the weekly poetry stars and to buy books from the Tanka Tuesday Book Store.”

“Soun’s good. Think our writer’s ‘casion’ly showed up there.”

“She has, occasionally. This is an open challenge, and everyone is always welcome to join in.”

“Yer Word Craft ~ Prose & Poetry blog has a lot to it Colleen. Folks should poke aroun’ over there. They might learn somethin’ an’ have some fun.”

“Thank you, Kid. I also have an author blog at where I share my poetry, flash fiction, and more personal writings.”

“Yer blogs must keep ya some busy! What’s been yer proudest moments as a blogger?”

“My proudest moments on my blog are watching the poets in my challenge grow in their poetry writing abilities. I take great pride in hearing that some of them have entered and won contests or been accepted in literary journals, including the fact that many have written their own books of poetry. These challenges give us the writing practice we need to perfect our writing craft. How cool is that?”

“Very cool, Colleen!”

“My dream is to continue offering a quality poetry challenge to everyone, no matter what stage of experience they find themselves in. I also hope to create a yearly poetry contest with prizes. In addition, I would eventually like to create a yearly literary journal or anthology to give poets another opportunity for publication.” 

“She remind ya a someone we know, Pal?”

“Yep. Sure does, Kid. Colleen, ya’ve really grown them blogs a yers since startin’ out. What else ya cultivatin’?”

“I’ve written a book called, Word Craft ~ Prose & Poetry: The Art of Crafting Syllabic Poetry. This is a beginner how-to book on how to write the various forms of Japanese and American syllabic poetry that I feature in my challenges. I’m in the editing stage now. I hope to have this book published by April 2021.”

“Oh, we sure are lookin’ for’ard ta thet, Colleen.”

“They’s more too, Pal!”

“What ya talkin’ ‘bout, Kid?”   

“Big news Pal!”


“Colleeen is gonna have a reg’lar spot at the Saddle Up!”

“No way!”

“Yep. Way.”

“Yahoo! Colleen, whut kin folks ‘spect?”

 “Well, do you remember the Carrot Ranch Rodeo from last October? I created a special syllabic form for the ranch—the Double Ennead, which is a 99-syllable poem.”

“We ‘member. It was kinda a tough challenge.”

“No, Pal, not TUFF; Double Ennead. Syllabic poe’try ranch style.” 

“Yes! The word Ennead means nine, and a double nine is ninety-nine! Carrot Ranch is famous for 99-word flash fiction. Now, the ranch has its own syllabic poetry form written in 99 syllables – the Double Ennead.”

“You’ll love it, Pal. 99’s a palindrome. Git it? Pal-in-drome?”

“Shush up Kid, let ‘er finish.”

“The Double Ennead comprises five lines with a syllable count of 6/5/11/6/5, (33 SYLLABLES per stanza) 3 STANZAS EACH = 99 SYLLABLES, NO MORE, NO LESS!”

“Yep, there she goes, always accountin’. Least now we got the back story ‘bout thet.”

“Now you shush, Pal. So what’s that got ta do with the Saddle Up Saloon Colleen?”

“I’ll be hosting a monthly challenge on Carrot Ranch where poets can experiment with this form in a fun setting at the Saddle-Up Saloon. It should be great fun! I promise, it will not be as demanding as the Rodeo contest.”

“Yeah! How ‘bout next week Colleen? We kin git outta yer way ever third Monday. Let folks have anuther chance ta play an’ practice writin’ craft, 99 words at a time.”

“Yes! I am really looking forward to it.”

“Folks, next week bring yer quills ta the Saloon. Colleen Chesebro will be our recurrin’ Guest Host. She’ll be pervidin’ an extra writin’ prompt challenge, her own Double Ennead form a syllabic poetry.”

Amazon Author Page

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

Saddle Up Saloon: Quizzical Trivia

“Hey Kid. Another manic Monday. What ya got lined up fer this week?”

“Hey there, Pal. This week thought we’d run a quiz show outta the Saloon. Folks kin play along an’ answer the questions.”

“Thet soun’s like a trivial pursuit, Kid. Thinkin’ ya jist give up pursuin’ better options.”

“Mebbe, or mebbe you could be more open ta tryin’ new things. Oh, that could be a question: Who’s the ornery one, Kid or Pal? Naw, too easy, it’s clearly you.”

“Hmmf. Okay, here’s one: Which a us is most likely ta make a mess a things, Kid or Pal? Nope, cain’t use thet, it’s way too easy, don’t wanna assault folks’ ‘telligence.”

“Seriously, Pal, let’s get a quiz t’gether. Folks like qizzes.”

“Folks hate quizzes! Ya might trigger some a ‘em, Kid, stress ‘em out.”

“It’s jist fer fun, Pal. Like ya said, trivial. An’, it’s a open blog quiz.”

“All right, what d’ya got?”

1) Who did Wanda leave Ernie for in her debut scene?

a. Pepe LeGume

b. Pal

c. Will

d. Slim Chance

e. All of the above

2) When Ernie was running his still again, making ‘Corn-U-Cope-Ya’ll’, his homebrewed antiseptic lotion with aloe, who was hunkered down sewing masks en masse?

a. Pal and Kid

b. Kid and Doc Ranger

c. Nanjo Castille and Monreal Dorb

d. Shorty and Aussie 

e. None of the above

3) Where did Kid hide the Rainbow cat?

a. In the barn

b. In the poet tree

c. Under a hat

d. At the Saloon

e. All of the above

4) Where is Carrot Ranch World Headquarters?

a. Pennsylvania Avenue, Washington D.C.

b. Beijing

c. Reno, Nevada

d. Hancock, Michigan

e. Wannabe, Wisconsin

5) A chapfaeries are…

a. western fairies who wear chaps and just want to be the center of everything

b. little cowboy in chaps

c. mischievous and fun fairies that got loose in the saloon

d. the creation of Keweenaw artist Toj

e. all of the above

6) Frankie, the mail carrying character that was appropriated from Charli Mills, rides a horse named…

a. Clarice

b. Loggatha

c. Tip

d. Burt  

e. None of the above

7) There is a poet tree at Carrot Ranch and a second one at the Saloon, grown from a rooted cutting. Where is the third (known) poet tree?

a. Roberts Street Writery

b. World Headquarters

c. Charli’s backyard

d. All of the above

8) When Tip and Top Lemmon aren’t helping Kid and Pal with ranch chores, what do they do for fun?

a. They dance

b. They prance

c. They dress up in stilettos

d. They glisten

e. All of the above

9) The Saddle Up Saloon has featured which of the following?

a. karaoke, sort of

b. visual artists

c. writer/blogger interviews

d. fictional characters

e. Five at the Mic readings

f. recipe sharing

g. book promotions

h. friends of yours

i. all of the above

10) If you want to see more of something or if you have ideas for the Saloon, including being a guest yourself, you can:

a. Leave a message for Kid and Pal in the comments

b. Contact their writer at

c. Send a message via Frankie

d. Tie a note to Curly’s tail

e. All of the above

“Okay. Thet quiz’ll do. So, how ya gonna collect the answers, Kid?”

“But it’s jist fer fun, Pal.”

“No way, ya gotta have a answer sheet an’ ya gotta correct the responses.”

“Okay, anyone who wants kin either put their answers in the comments, jist the number an’ letter an’ if they don’t wanna be public, they kin keep track themsefs.”

“Ya gotta let folks know how they did, Kid. Are there prizes fer top scores?”

“But it’s jist fer fun.”


“Okay, after a bit I’ll put the answer sheet in the comments. But anyone who gits through our schtick  is a winner, Pal. So if yer a winner, guess what yer prize is? A guest spot at the Saddle Up Saloon! Jist notify us that yer a winner at an’ we kin set somethin’ up. Congratulations in advance an’ thanks fer playin’.”


“Phew. How’d ya think that went Pal?”

“Eh… it might not be yer lamest, Kid, but close. We’ll see. Mebbe folks do like quizzes. An’ mebbe you should try plannin’ more.”

“Gotta git people ta take the stage, Pal, otherwise it’s more a me wingin’ it. Anne Goodwin’s comin’ back soon, an’ Colleen Chesebro, an’ Ann Edall-Robson.”

“Kid, I think the mic is still on…”

“Shoulda asked, ‘which character’s best equipped fer a pop quiz?’ It’s Pepe, git it?”

“The mic?”

“Hey, Pal, how about a pet show? Mebbe stupid human tricks. We kin ask folks ta send us a picture a somethin’ their pet has trained ‘em ta do. Like Charli Mills now snuggle-naps on Mause’s command.”

“Mebbe, Kid, but check the mic.”

“What? Yeah. Let’s try that. But it cain’t work if folks don’t hep out an’ send a picture a them an’ their pet. Curly’s got me trained real good, yep, she snorts an’ I’m at attenshun, seein’ what she wants. I fetch purty good fer that little pig.”

“Kid. The mic.”

“Oh! Shi—”


Seriously folks, let’s git some photos sent ta so’s we kin feature a Stupid Human Tricks Pet Show or somethin’ like thet. Tell us who or what else ya might like ta see featured at the Saddle Up. We ain’t goin’ anywhere’s soon, so ya might’s well join us.

Saddle Up Saloon; Chattin’ ‘Bout Story Chat

“Hey Kid, look who jist come in. Isn’t thet?”

“Yep, it sure is.”

“Back fer more?”

“Yep. She’s gonna take the stage ta do some sharin’ ‘roun’ the writin’ community.”

“Thet’s what the Saddle Up is all ‘bout. Howdy, Marsha Ingrao! Welcome back ta the Saddle Up Saloon!”

“Hello Pal. Hello Kid.”

“What is it ya wanna share, Marsha?”

“At my blog, Always Write, I’ve started a new feature called Story Chat.”

“Story chat? Like, ya chat ‘bout stories?”

“Yes! When an author’s story is accepted, they get free editing and then their story appears on Always Write with their byline and bio. Then readers from a wide audience comment and speculate. The author joins in the discussion with the readers.”

“Thet sounds kinda unique.”

“That’s what Hugh of Hugh’s Views and News said!”


“Yes. The birth of Story Chat started with a conversation between Hugh Roberts and me. I had asked him to write a guest post for me. It was near Halloween and he asked if he could share a scary short story he had written but never published. The idea evolved as he, the people commenting and I chatted about his story, “People Under the Stairs“. It was so much fun and the chats built on each other. I promised I would do another post a few weeks later summarizing the comments and drawing the ideas into a conclusion. 

I sent Hugh the post before it published and he responded, ‘This is going to make such a wonderful post. I don’t believe I’ve seen another blogger do something like this, so (as far as I’m concerned) it’s unique. Of course, I’ll also share it on my blog.

The only problem I see in asking other bloggers to send you stories that have previously been published is that those stories will already have comments attached to them, so you could be asking readers to double up their comments. Far better, I think, in asking if anybody would like to share a new story with your readers so that not only will they be putting themselves and their work in front of a new audience, but that you’ll do a follow-up post about the discussion(s) the story generates.’

When Hugh said it was unique, I figured I would try posting Story Chat as a monthly event.”

“That was October. Ya doin’ it?”

“Yes, Kid! Story Chat is happening! Either I contact an author or one contacts me through the response form on the Story Chat page or posts. I read their story and if I think it has potential, I add photos or artwork, edit it if necessary, and publish it. I use social media to extend its life and ask that the author reblog it and do the same if they use social media. After three weeks of promoting the story through social media, I gather up all the comments and weave a story around them connecting their quotes with a pingback to their websites as well. That way hopefully both the commenter and the authors receive some traffic from the post. Finally, I post the links for the contributing author’s story and follow-up chat on my Story Chat page and send them a contribution widget to post on their website.”

“’Soun’s like a good deal all the way ‘roun’, Marsha.”

“Yep, sure does. So how’s it goin’?”

“Interestingly, the first month went by very quickly and I did not have a volunteer author for October. So I polished up a chapter of an unpublished book, Carrot Ranch-style, and published it. While it wasn’t as successful as Hugh’s story because I was the sole generator of interest, it did very well, and like Hugh’s, is still getting noticed. In both stories, readers squeezed out a much more robust story as they dug for underlying motives. What I really loved about Hugh’s story was that he was so vulnerable in the comments and shared how his mother’s dementia had inspired the story. It was so touching. That doesn’t happen with every Story Chat, so that was really special.

Before October ended, Cathy Cade sent me her story, “Out of Character” through the response form. I also contacted Anne Goodwin and she agreed to send me a story, and then Geoff Pard sent his story through the response form as Cathy Cade had done. Three days ago I received another response from an author who saw Hugh’s link and she has a story. So currently, if this last story looks good, I have stories ready to go until April. I am constantly on the prowl for a great author who wants to let me publish his or her story.”

“It says at yer site thet there’s a secon’ post after the story’s been posted an’ discussed.”

“Yes, Pal. The Summary.The summary consists of a 9-word summary, and an analysis of the readers’ and the author’s comments.Then the author has the opportunity to publish it as is or use the discussion to make changes.”

“Take ‘vantage a the feedback, like.”


“Did you use the discussions to revise yer October story?”

“That’s a good question, Kid. The story came out of a full length, unpublished book. It made me think deeply about motive, which I will definitely use if I go back and rewrite the book and publish it.”

“Reckon an author could find the discussion ‘bout their writin’ informative an’ give ‘em added insight fer revisions.” 

“Yes, an author can use the discussion and feedback in many ways. Or just enjoy the company!  Donna from Retirement Reflections says:

I love this post, Marsha — the highlighting of one blogger/writer and the inclusion of so many more. I look forward to other entries like this!

And your friend Charli of Carrot Ranch had this to say:

You give an author exposure, and readers a chance to develop thoughtful responses. Literary art happens between the space created between writing, reading, and discussing.

 There are more testimonials at Story Chat.”

“Sure soun’s like yer off ta a good start with this feature, Marsha.”

“I have been thrilled so far at the response to Story Chat. A lot of it rests with the author themselves and the kind of publicity they give it. Hugh is still promoting not only his story but the call to other authors. The result is that people are still coming to read his story three months after publication!”

“Whoa, thet’s somethin’.”

 “Yes, exactly. If every author took that much interest and promoted as he does, I predict that Story Chat will have a huge following within a year. I don’t expect every author to be as skilled and diligent in promoting as Hugh. However, his great example is teaching me what I can teach others about marketing. He also raises the expectations I have of myself.”

“Yep, Hugh’s always been a bit of a teacher an’ a preacher, in a good way, when it comes ta bloggin’.”

“Marsha, what d’ya hope an’ dream fer Story Chat?

“I hope that Story Chat will become something that new and experienced authors see as another venue to get their work to the public. It is a short story of 500 to 1,000 words, so there is a lot of flexibility. They can do anything with the story after it publishes, so who knows, maybe it would win prizes in a contest or end up in an anthology. With all the feedback, it could be a winning story. That would be exciting, wouldn’t it? Most of all, I want people to have fun with Story Chat and look forward to each month’s publication like they would a cherished magazine or the next episode in a Netflix series. I hope it is a chance for bloggers to meet each other on a deeper level than just pressing LIKE!”

“Amen ta thet. Folks, this here’s the schedule so far fer Marsha Ingrao’s Story Chat at Always Write.

The schedule’s at her site too, a course. Click on over there an’ partici-pate either as an author or as a reader. Thinkin’ yu’ll git somethin’ outta the ‘sperience either way.”

“Thank ya fer comin’ by an’ sharin’ this opportunity Marsha. It was a pleasure ta have ya take the stage agin.”

“Thank you, Pal and Kid.”

Wanted: Authors! #Story Chat

“Look, Pal, ya kin git a badge fer gittin’ published at Story Chat.”

“Awesome Kid. Bet they start showin’ up all aroun’ the Blogosphere.”


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

Saddle Up Saloon; All the Critters Is Stirrin’, ‘Specially Mause

“Dang it, Kid! What’s goin’ on? We got a Saloon ta run.”

“What’s the problem Pal?”

“Yer the problem. First those goats and now thet pig of yers— thet pig should not be in this ‘stablishment.”

“This is not ‘a pig’, not any pig; this is Curly. My pig. Lookit ‘er. Ain’t she the cutest?”

“Git ‘er out afore the Board a Health comes by.”

“Oh, she’s plenny healthy, ‘an asides, she’s a service hog. See the vest she’s wearin’?”

“Says ‘Servus’.”

“Oops. Serves us right fer d’pendin’ on spell chick. But the point is, that vest means she’s got ta ‘comp’ny me wherever I go. ‘Cause a PTS.”

“PTS? You?”

“No, you. Pal Totally Stresses. Pet Curly, Pal, scratch her b’hine the ears. It’ll make ya feel good ta make Curly feel good.”

“Enough a yer nonsense, Kid. What if Shorty come in here, saw this piglet a yers runnin’ ‘roun’ the saloon?”

“Reckon she’d say the place ‘as gone ta the hogs! Anyway, Charli Mills hersef said it’s okay ta have this here puglet on the ranch and even here at the saloon. Ya know why?”

“No, Kid. Why?”

“’Cause World Headquarters ‘as gone ta the dogs! There’s a Mause in the House!”

“Oh yeah, there was mention a thet.

“Well, Kid, them folks was sorely missin’ their ol’ German Shorthair Poin’ers. Reckon it was time. All right, let’s have a look.

“Oh, she sure is a cutie, Kid. Yep, I kin see the Millsiz gittin’ a GSP at this time. But thet still don’t make it okay fer you ta have this piglet here as a pet. ‘Member, you gittin’ thet pig was all a mistake anyhow, ‘cause a spell chuck, er should I say, folks not double checkin’ the spell cluck.”

“Don’t matter, Pal. Like the song says, ya jist gotta love the hog ya got. Anyway, Curly needs me.”

“Bull shift Kid. Only ‘cause you need her ta need you.”

“I’ll take it. Tell ya what, she ain’t never said a discouragin’ word ta me.”

“Hmmf. Ya cain’t trust a pig, Kid. They’ll squeal on ya.”

“Har har.”

“Okay Kid, enough already. Have ya got a innerview lined up or ain’tcha?”

“Ain’t. No innerview this week.”

“Karaoke? Recipe Rustlin’? Anythin’?”

“Nope. Nope. An’… nope.”

“Whut? Why not?!”

“’Cause ever’one’s been on the road, Pal, an’ takin’ care a their pets. Even D. Avery’s been trav’lin’, jist moved up from her home a thirty years back ta her ‘riginal stompin’ groun’s. Her lil cat was ridin’ shotgun, all gussied up in her red harness. Thinkin’ Curly needs a red harness, what d’ you think?”

“Jeez, Kid, I think ya need ta focus! We need ta give the folks somethin’. Cain’t believe ya ain’t got a innerview this week.”

“Well, I kin wing it…

Folks, welcome ta the Saddle Up Saloon. Well, howdy Mause!”

“Yer innerviewin’ thet new puppy a Charli Mills?”

“Yep. Now shush… Mause, I unnerstan’ ya jist had a long road trip with yer new ferever fam’ly. How was it?

‘Ruff.’ ”

“Really, Kid?”

“Shush Pal. Yep, Mause, it was rough but it’s all good now. Let’s see, the Millsiz, Charli an’ the Sarge, they traveled all day an’ inta the dark a night ta git ya. It was blowin’ snow an’ it was uphill both ways!”

“Is thet true Kid?”

“Uh, only parts of it. Dramatic effect Pal. But they did travel all day an’ went inta Wisconsin, which, fer yer information, ain’t Mishugin. Which meant they got ta show Mause off ta their son an’ daughter-in-law.”

“Why would they do thet? Wouldn’t they wanna git on back ta Headquarters?”

“Have ya ever had a pet, Pal? This here’s a new member a the fam’ly. An’ I reckon, cute as Mause is, Charli still takes any chance ta see her ‘riginal two-legged pups.”


“Okay, on with the innerview… Mause, what did ya say when Sarge an’ Charli got ya back ta HQ, aka the Roberts Street Writery?

‘Hoooooooome! Hooooooome!’

Oh, what a howl. Yep, ya got a good home, lil Mause. An’ yer in extra good han’s ‘cause Sarge is a vet.”

“Not thet kinda vet Kid.”

“That’s all right Pal, I’m doctorin’ the truth fer this ‘un. Anyways, Sarge is really good with dogs an’ he sure knows German Shorthair Poin’ers.”

“Thet’s true. Ha! Reckon this lil pup an’ Charli Mills got somethin’ in common.”

“Ya mean asides the Sarge?”

“Yep. They’ll both be workin’ on papers fer a while.”

“Oh yeah. Mebbe she figgered she didn’t have quite ‘nough on her plate, so she took on this here pup too.”

“Aw. It’ll be fine. Got anuther photo, Kid?”

“Yep. Oh, look here….

Looks like Mause will also be workin’ on a miracle a duck. Think I should git Curly a chew toy, Pal? Oh, never mind, she’s got yer boots looks like.”

“Curly no! Dang it, Kid, ya gotta keep a better eye on this critter. No, don’t pick ‘er up an’ cuddle ‘er.”

“But she wants ta be cuddled, Pal. See? Them’s happy grunts.”

“What ‘bout when ya cain’t pick ‘er up anymore?”

“Hadn’t thought ‘bout that. But I am workin’ on trainin’ her. Watch.

Sit, Curly, sit.

See? Ohhhhh…. oops.”

“Ha! Sit? Mebbe she jist misunnerstood thet command, thought ya said… thet. Clean thet up Kid. Jeez. This innerview stinks.”

“Oh yeah. The innerview….

Mause, d’ya have other two-legged siblings? What’s that? Ya say ya have one in the Bark-tic? Oh, an’ the other one come ta welcome ya ta the Keweenaw?”

“Bet they’s all ‘memberin’ Bobo an’ Bobo’s brother, Grenny. D’ya s’pose Charli’ll read The Poet’s Dog ta Mause?”

“Mebbe, or some other fittin’ book. Reckon fer a while it’s all go dog go aroun’ there. Do ya read ta Curly?”

“’Course! In fact I highly recommend Chester the Worldly Pig by Bill Peet, even if ya ain’t got a puglet a yer own.”

“Huh. Kid whut’s this? Three stages a puppy?”

“Seems that’s a meme, Pal. Huh. Wunner if Curly will follow the same d’velopmennal traject’ry as Mause?”

“When pigs fly.”

“Then the middle stage’d be a pterosaur. Hey Pal, Mause is pr’nounced mouse, right?”


“So… if they cloned lil’ Mause they’d be called Mice?”


“An’ Pal, how come baby pigs is piglets but baby dogs are puppies? Whyn’t they doglets?”

“Ya know whut, Kid, I’ve had enough. You close up, I’m headin’ back ta the bunkhouse.”

“Watch yer step Pal.”

“Whut? Thet a threat? Whooooaaaa! Oof. Ow.”

“Yer slippin’ Pal. Was more like a warnin’. I ain’t cleaned up after Curly yet. Seems ya stepped in it. Hey, now yer boots been chewed and pooed!”

“Dang it, Kid!”

“Mause says, paws an’ take a break.”

“Thet ain’t funny.”

“Then I’ll stop laughin’ Pal. Here. B’fore ya go, let’s let Mause have the last word. Though I’m thinkin’ we’ll all be hearin’ more ‘bout her from the hoss’s mouth, so ta speak.”

My dad… he’s a shoulder to lean on.
There’s nothing we can’t do when we put our heads together.
Write on, Mom!

“Welcome ta Carrot Ranch, Mause. Take good care a the folks at Headquarters.”

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

Saddle Up Saloon; Howdy, Kerry E. B. Black

“Ya know Kid, this here saloon thet Shorty set up fer us has been a lotta fun.”

“Sure has, Pal. I’ve injoyed the other fictional characters that come through.”

“Yep. An’ I’ve injoyed the real folks have come through an’ taken the stage, those thet read fer Five at the Mic, an’ the writers an’ other artists thet come by ta tell us ‘bout their work.”

“Well then yer gonna be happy ‘bout our first guest a the new year, Pal.”

“Who is it?”




“Someone I’ve heard of?”


“Gimme more hints.”

Herd of Nightmares.”

“Course I’ve heard of nightmares, Kid. Heck, I bunk with one.”

“Ha, ha Pal. Okay… Fairy Herds and Mythscapes.”

“Herds a fairies? Are you misspeakin’ Kid? Jist tell me all ready who this week’s guest is.”

“This week’s guest is none other than long time Rancher an’ Rough Writer Kerry E. B. Black.”

“Yeehaw! Thet one kin sure wrangle a 99 word story.”

“Yep. Hey, here she is now. Howdy Kerry! Welcome ta the Saddle Up Saloon.”

“Hello Kid, hello Pal.”

“Kerry E. B. Black! Yeah, I recognize ya from aroun’ the ranch!”

“And I recognize you Pal. But yes, I was browsing Word Press about four and a half years ago and stumbled upon Carrot Ranch, and what a happy circumstance! I look forward to the weekly challenges, of course, but even more, I enjoy the support and encouragement found at the Ranch. Charli’s warmth permeates everything, and I truly love it there.”

“Yep, the Ranch is a real fine place, full a good folks. An’ it’s growin’ an’ takin’ shape like a prize heifer. Hard ta b’lieve we jist finished up the fourth Carrot Ranch Rodeo! Thet’s been loads a fun.”

 “It sure has, Pal. I can tell you, serving as a Rodeo Head this latest Writing Rodeo was my honor and pleasure!”

“Well, it’s our honor an’ pleasure ta have ya here at the Saddle Up, Ms. Black. If ya found Carrot Ranch through browsing Word Press I’m thinkin’ this ain’t yer first rodeo, so ta speak. Asides from yer contributions here at the Ranch, what other writin’ d’ya do?”

“I blog at the Allusionary Assemblywhere you can find flash fiction, poetry, and book reviews. I started blogging around 2010 when a writing group at the local library explained the importance of social media for any writer. But for as long as I can remember, I’ve always written. When quite small (Kindergarten, I think), I used to produce plays in my bedroom using my large collection of stuffed animals as the cast. However, if you asked elementary school me what I’d be when I grew up, I’d have doubtless told you a Fairy Princess Tap dancing actress horse trainer superhero jockey who saved dolphins. Or something like that. Then again, I was the kind of kid who wore her tutu and tiara to play tackle football with the bigger kids.”

“Mebbe thet little-kid-you heps ya ta write.”

“Maybe Pal! I did study journalism at Penn State University and worked for Gannett Publications for a while. However, my passion lies in creative writing.”

“Have ya writ any books?”

“Jeez Pal, didn’tcha git my allusions ta some a her titles? Herd of NightmaresFairy Herds and Mythscapes…?”

“Oh! Yep, I have heard a those, an’ heard a Carousel of Nightmares. Seems kinda spooky ta me.”

“I’m an eclectic writer, Pal, but most of what I’ve sold is light horror. As an ardent fan of the genre, that’s cool with me. A number of years ago, some very talented friends began a creative non-fiction essay project called “A Year of Letters”, and I learned much by participating with them. I’ve written poetry, a young adult paranormal thriller novel called Season of Secrets and published several short story collections. To date, I think I have over one hundred short stories published in various lit mags, ezines, and anthologies, many of which are available through Amazon.”

“Whoa! Thet’s a lot! Would ya consider yersef ta be a plotter or a pantser?”

“I’m a bit of a hybrid as far as plotter/pantser. I always know where my story begins and where it ultimately will conclude. I’m often sketchy on the details of HOW, though. I write almost every day, even if the result is just a few hundred words. Like any skill, writing can improve or atrophy depending on how much effort is put into its development.”

“Reckon so, Kerry. But yer certainly gittin’ the job done. Fairy Herds and Mythscapes is one a the good things ta come outta 2020.”

“Thank you Kid. Yes, My latest collection of short stories, Fairy Herds and Mythscapes, explores and reinterprets international fairy tales and myths.”

“Cool. Thinkin’ our writer’d like thet.”

“Yep, Pal, she’s readin’ it now. Kerry, not ta judge by the cover or anythin’, but it’s a good lookin’ book.”

“Thank you again, Kid. My incredibly talented brother Chris Blickenderfer created the cover art. Chris also made the cover art for Herd of Nightmares, a collection of short scares that won a TAZ (The Author Zone) award. (I’m so thrilled!) Because of the amazing cover art, I’ve launched a line of “merch” (as my ten year old would call it.) My Night Mares march out as stickers, magnets, book marks, t-shirts, and even a “magic pillow” and adorable socks! Heck, there are even tree ornaments with the equine beauties! All of these beauties – and of course the books, too – can be found at .”

“That’s so cool. Ya must be pleased an’ proud a them fine books. An’ merch.”

“Yes and I’m so excited! Early next year, Tree Shadow Press is releasing my middle grade novel.” 

“Whoa! Congratulations. What’s it about, Kerry?”

“This book is about a young girl coming to terms with the death of a loved one. It has a touch of magical realism to it, and I hope it will touch those who read it.” 

“Jeez! I mean congratulations. But jeez, ya must be writin’ all the time, no time fer anythin’ else!”

“Ha! I do find time for my family and for reading. Two of our five children are still living at home. The others are pursuing higher educations or matrimonial bliss. We love to travel when we can. There’s nothing quite like exploring this amazing world of ours! We’re also Disney fanatics. If I could go anywhere, I’d visit Anne’s Avonlea, Lucy’s Narnia, Harry’s Hogwarts. I’d delight in Elizabeth’s wit and William’s romanticism. Reading is my escape and my refuge. Always.”

“We ‘preciate that you’d travel ta see fictional characters an’ their settings.”

“Yes.  And I have some favorite authors, including Neil Gaiman, Ray Bradbury, Jane Austin, J.K. Rowling, and C.S. Lewis. Authors are my Rock Stars! It pleases me immeasurably to thank an author whose work kept me company. I attend as many author book signings and lectures as I can as a result.”

“I like that. What’re ya readin’ right now?”

“I’m presently reading a collection of Charles Dickens’ Ghost Stories for myself. The kids and I are reading book four of the Series of Unfortunate Events by Lemony Snicket. (Excellent series!) I’m first-pass editing a friend’s murder mystery, and I’m reading an ARC for review. As for what I’m writing, I’m at a difficult point in a novel/novella, and I don’t feel equal to torturing the poor characters at the moment. It’s a necessity for the story, mind you, and will need to happen if the book is to be a book. However, I think it may be a project for the new year.”

“You’ll git it figgered out. Yer all about readin’ an’ writin’!”

“An’ fam’ly, Kid. D’ya have other innerests, Kerry?”

“Other arts I’ve pursued, with varying degrees of success, include sketching, painting, needlework and sewing, illuminations, and metal work.”

“Metal work? Thet could be pretty handy fer a rancher. D’ya shoe horses too?”

“You might be thinking heavy metal, Pal. My metal work was jewelry making mostly, but they ended up as clunky pieces. I also helped cast coins and medallions.”

“Thet’s cool, Kerry. Yer all kinds a artist fer sure.”

“I guess so, Pal. However, much to my chagrin, I acknowledge I’m a better art appreciator than art creator. But the kids and I craft. As a teen, I taught Tae Kwon Do. Occasionally I force my old, arthritic, out-of-shape body from the comforts of domesticity to teach a women’s self-defense class or two. And, yes, Pal, I’m blessed to have an amazing family, and I love spending as much time with them as I can.”

“Well, thank you again fer spendin’ time with us here at the Saddle Up.”

“Yep, it was real good gittin’ ta know ya, an’ we sure wish ya well with ever’thin’, includin’ thet latest book. Let us know how thet goes fer ya.”

“I sure will Pal. Thank you for having me!”

Kerry E. B. Black writes from an over-stuffed little house in the land where Romero’s dead roamed. She has long loved words and entices them to create tales both fanciful and true. Hailing from a small suburb situated along a fog – enshrouded river outside of a City of Steel and Bridges, Kerry incorporates Yankee sensibilities and a strong work ethic into every project. Her children think she’s dull, and their dog agrees, but the family cats, Poe and Hemingway, feel differently. The felines find a kinship with their nocturnal buddy and encourage Kerry to write. Some of Kerry’s works have crept into anthologies and literary journals. She writes for Games Omniverse and is a proud Rough Writer at Carrot Ranch. This one time participant of the One Year of Letters project also served as a first reader for Postcard Poems and Prose. Some of her published works have appeared in online journals and in anthologies available at Amazon.



Kerry Blogs at Allusionary Assembly.

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

Saddle Up Saloon; Story Time!

“A preschool teacher walks into a saloon—”

“Oh, I think I know this one Pal. Eats shoots and leaves?”

“What? No, Kid! Look, here comes Jennie Fitzkee, a preschool teacher. Howdy Jennie!”

“Hello Pal, hello Kid.”

“Preschool? School prior to school? What age are your students?”

“My students are three and four years old Kid.”

“How’d ya git inta the pre-school teacher gig?”

“Back in the day, most women had three career choices— teacher, secretary, or nurse.  I always enjoyed babysitting and playing with my younger sisters, so teaching was a natural choice for me. I have been teaching for thirty-seven years!”

“Must be ya love what ya do, Jennie.”

“I sure do, Pal. I have always taught preschool, no other grade.  Lucky me! The best thing about being a preschool teacher is making a real difference.  And that happens in small and unexpected moments.  The little things are really the big things.  Finding a salamander on the playground, reading aloud a book that makes children belly laugh or cry, cheering when a child writes his/her name, introducing children to art like Starry Night, and to music from Vivaldi to the Beatles, and knowing when a big hug is the best medicine of all.”

“Aw, you soun’ like a great teacher. But we know ya as a blogger.  ‘Member how ya connected ta our Charli Mills over thet book, The Poet’s Dog, by Patricia MacLachlan.”

“Oh, I remember that! Charli read that book to her dog, Bobo. You know, C.S. Lewis said, “A children’s story that can only be enjoyed by children is not a good children’s story in the slightest.” He was right!”  

“Yeah but, how’d a nice preschool teacher like you come ta be bloggin’?”

“I started my blog in March of 2014. For decades at school I wrote newsletters to parents. I had so many things to tell them, because I just ‘knew’. The newsletters were becoming lengthy. I was not only telling parents about what we were doing in the classroom, I was telling them why we do what we do. Educating parents is as important as educating children. I wanted to share my stories with fellow teachers, too. So, I decided to tell my stories and write about children and education on my blog. I’m glad I did! Every thread of what I do in teaching is on my blog— from thoughtful posts to videos, stories and music and art, philosophy and history and geography. Teaching is a wonderful journey. Writing about it is even better.”

“We git a whole bunch a writers an’ readers through here, what with bein’ fillyated with Carrot Ranch Literary Community. We’re all ‘bout stories. Heard you are too.”

“I sure am Kid. On ‘day one’ of teaching, my lead teacher asked me if I would be the one to read books to the children. I will never forget that day, reading “Swimmy” by Leo Lionni and watching fifteen eyes take it all in.  It was a lightbulb moment of knowing. I readily built upon it and quickly learned as I went along. Of course this grew in leaps and bounds.”

“Yep, we heard tell yer highlighted in Jim Trelease’s bestselling book, “The Read-Aloud Handbook.”

“I am. I read to my children a lot. Covid shut down school in March and I immediately set up a YouTube channel to read aloud, so children could see and hear me read picture books, and keep a sense of normalcy. I picked good stories to read, ones I knew they would love.  Gugi Gugi, Harry the Dirty Dog and The Seven Chinese Sisters were the first. If you go to YouTube, select channels, and type Aqua Room, all those stories from March through June are there. And what happened after I read these stories on YouTube? Parents were over the moon. Children could watch Jennie read anytime.”

“I ‘member picture books an’ stories from when I was a young’un. Even now I say ‘Good night, moon’ ta the moon.”

“I’ll bet you’re not the only one Kid. Good Night Moon is a classic that children know and love by the words alone. I recite Good Night Moon every day at school, just before chapter reading. They have memorized the words. I often add children’s names, “In the great green room, there was a telephone and Hannah’s red balloon, and a picture of Emmett jumping over the moon” and so on. When Covid hit, I did a Good Night Moon rap for children on our Aqua Room YouTube channel in April.  It helped keep the normalcy of what they were used to at school, and it added great fun.”

“Thet was fun! Never dreamed I’d hear thet story like thet.”

“It was fun for me and for the children. It worked because it’s a good story. The story, the words, and the illustrations all together make for a good story.  I often talk about the ‘indirect method’, the power of using animals and also words in a story that hint at a bigger message. Children need to be pulled in, not told directly. Every word matters.”

“Words an’ images kin send a wrong message, I reckon.”

“Yes. That’s why a well-known children’s story was banned. But there’s a happy ending. The story has been restored with names and images more appropriate and authentic to the story’s origins; now titled The Story of Little Babaji, it has been revived with illustrations by Fred Marcellino that match Helen Bannerman’s story— more clearly set in India, of course.  Every year it is the favorite book. Children love chiming in to say the words along with the tigers, ‘Little Babaji, I’m going to eat you up.’ We have done play performances based on this book. It’s that good and that popular.”

“I kin see why yer students injoy this tale with the predictable narrative an’ repetitions. They must iden’ify with the clever child overcoming adversity and danger represen’ed by the tigers.”

“Reckon, Pal, they ‘den’ify with the pancake eatin’! Though I cain’t wrap my head aroun’ butter bein’ made thataway.”

“Jist suspend yer disbelief an’ shush, Kid. Jennie, how d’ya use children’s lit in yer preschool classroom?”

“I have a front-facing bookshelf where books are displayed with the cover page out.”

“Like Ernie done with the shelves behin’ the bar!”  

“Yes, I noticed that. This is quite a saloon!”

“It’s fer our literary artist community.”

“Awesome. In my classroom books are not in a basket. Books are there for children to access all the time. All the time! I have two planned times to read picture books every day, plus spontaneous reading, and one-on-one reading with a child. I chapter read every day as we go down for rest. So far this year we have read Charlotte’s Web, My Father’s Dragon, and we’re into The Story of Dr. Dolittle.”

“Wunner if Shorty’s payin’ attenshun. She might wanna read Charlotte’s Web, mebbe gain a little compassion fer poor ol’ Wolferick. An’ thinkin mebbe Dr. Doolittle kin be the ranch vet.”

“Shush yer wunnerin’ an’ thinkin’ Kid, or I’ll be dragon ya behin’ my father’s woodshed. Stop inneruptin’ our guest… sorry Jennie. So, how else d’ya use stories in yer classroom?”

“Books also inspire acting out the stories, art projects, and writing our own stories.  We do play performances for other classrooms and for our families.  We did a performance of The Three Billy Goats Gruff in Spanish.  ‘Who is that boom-boom-booming over my Puente?’”

“Billy goats?!”

“Shush it Kid. Jennie, ya sure are inta stories an’ picture books. Reckon folks thet ain’t even preschoolers or preschool parents or teachers could git educated and ennertained at yer blog. Think you’ll ever write a picture book?”

“Thank you Pal. I have written two picture books. They are based on true events and have a very different twist in the middle of the book. Children’s books are the hardest writing of all, paring down every single word and making sure the few words you write are strong. I’m working on my query letter.”

“Well we wish ya the best a luck with all thet. An’ thank ya so much fer comin’ by fer a chat.”

“My pleasure! Read on!”

Jennie is a New England preschool teacher who has maintained her sense of wonder as she helps her young students find their voice and their way. She shares the journey at her blog, A Teacher’s Reflections.

Free ranging characters who live and work at Carrot Ranch, Pal & Kid now serve up something more or less fresh every Monday at the Saddle Up Saloon . Got something to share? Take the stage! If you or your characters are interested in saddling up for a wild ride as a saloon guest, contact Pal & Kid via

Saddle Up Saloon; Karaoke Mixed Playlist

“What’re ya doin’ Kid?”

“Hey, Pal. Jist tryin’ ta teach my new hog some old tricks. Sit Curly, sit.”

“On the one hand, Kid, I’m glad yer admittin’ thet yer puglet’s a piglet. On the uther hand, I still ain’t so sure this is sech a good idea, yer goin’ ahead an’ keepin’ it as a pet. Whyn’t I go with ya ta Slim Chance’s ranch, git a refund, return this piglet.”

“No way, Pal, I ain’t returnin’ Curly, ain’t gonna have my little piggy put back on the market.”

“Well, I still feel like Slim took advan’age a ya. Mebbe we oughtta report him ta the ‘thorities fer false advertisin’.”

“No way am I squealin’ on Slim ‘bout pigs ta the cops.”

“Well what are ya gonna do, Kid?”

“Look, Pal, mebbe I was lookin’ fer pups in all the wrong places, but I ended up with this here puglet, an’ there’s no lookin’ back. As Crosby, Stills, Nash and Young sang, ya jist gotta love the one yer with:

Times are strange, an’ kinda scary

An’ ya got yersef a dog ain’t very hairy

Thet ain’t really such a muddle

‘cause even piglets wanna cuddle

There’s cloven hooves inside four little boots

jist like a puppy, this pig is cute

an’ if it’s not the dog ya thought ya sought

Love the hog ya’ve got

Love the hog ya’ve got

Love the hog ya’ve got

Love the hog ya’ve got

Curly is happy, an’ thet makes me glad

Thinkin’ this is the best puglet I’ve ever had

Made an error, but I ain’t mistaken

Now I got a puglet, an’ give up on bacon

There’s cloven hooves inside four little boots

jist like a puppy, this pig is cute

an’ if it’s not the dog ya thought ya sought

Love the hog ya’ve got

Love the hog ya’ve got

Love the hog ya’ve got

Love the hog ya’ve got.”

“Least ya got somethin’ t’gether fer Karaoke Night, Kid. Ya been so dang distracted by thet animal, wasn’t sure ya were gonna keep up with things here at the Saloon.”

“Well, what about you, Pal? Ya got a tune fer the folks?”

“Yep. Been thinkin’ on my horror-scope, this bein’ the Year a the Rat an’ all.”

“Hindsight seein’ 2020, it sure has been a horror, Pal.”

“This is ta the tune a Al Stewart’s Year of the Cat:

Wakin’ up in a dystopian novel

In a country where they turn back law

Every day another debacle

Can’t believe ya’ve seen what ya saw

An’ we keep wund’rin’ when relief is comin’

Wund’rin’ when the madness will end

But 2021 is the year a the Metal Oxen

We jist gotta hang on, hang strong until then

In the Year of the Rat.”

“Jeez. Hello, Darkness, my old friend… Yer lyrics are kinda a downer, Pal. ‘Tis the season a celebratin’ light. Got a light cheery song?”

“Well, I know not ever’one has the same terditions but here’s a song I ‘member from Christmas pasts:

Away on the ranch, no pup fer the Kid

If disappointed, it were well hid

Kid didn’t worry, no Kid did not whine

Some people have canines, some people have swine

This grunt a the litter will most certainly do

And now as fer bacon, Kid does eschew

We’re happy fer the Mills an’ their li’l Pointer

An’ happy fer Kid who’s content with an oinker.

“Now who’s distracted by little Curly? This Karaoke Night ain’t s’posed ta be ‘bout me an’ my puglet, Pal. Though I reckon we was a might vague on what it is s’posed ta be about.”

“Ya ref’renced Simon an’ Garfunkel earlier Kid. Puts me in mind a their hit, Bridge Over Troubled Water:

When yer stir crazy, your bubble small

Thet computer screen kin bust down the walls

We can zoom, and come together

With friends all around the world

This here saloon offers shelter

We saved a seat fer you

This here saloon offers shelter

We saved a seat fer you

If yer feelin’ low

Feelin’ all alone

An’ ever’thin’s closed agin

We kin gather here

Don’t mind the pig an’ goats, Kid’ll git ‘em trained soon

Fer you there’s always room

This here saloon offers shelter

We saved a seat fer you

This here saloon offers shelter

We saved a seat fer you

Write on Ranchers

Write yer truths

Yer time has come to shine

All your dreams are on their way

See how they shine

Oh, if you need some friends

We’re here all the time

This here saloon offers shelter

We saved a seat fer you

This here saloon offers shelter

We saved a seat fer you.”

“That’s a little better, Pal.”

“Yeah, well, it’s all I got. Where is ever’one, Kid? Oh, wait, here’s Frankie! An’ look’t thet, Burt prancin’, all done up in bells an’ bows an’ bearin’ gifts. Howdy Franky! Good ta see ya.”

“I wouldn’t miss Karaoke Night. Lemme at the stage!”

“Sure, Frankie, but let us jist ‘splain somethin’ ta the folks in the audience thet might be wunnerin’ ‘bout Burt, yer horse. Yep, Burt is in the saloon. Why not, Kid’s piglet’s in here too.”

“A course Burt’s in here with me. He’s a service horse.”

“Ya mean ‘cause ya still deliver mail on horseback?”

“Well that, an’ he’s my seein’ eye horse. Now shush. Ya know the tune ta We Three Kings?

Burt an’ me we travel so far

Deliverin’ mail with no van or car

He’s a sturdy strong horse

Keeps us mostly on course

In these parts we’re without par


Packages too many ta count

But I can trust Burt, my loyal mount

We sweat an’ shiver

But always deliver

With time ta Saddle Up unannounced


Oh bartender I wonder if you might

Reward me for my work tonight

I delivered a song

After a day so long

But at the Saloon I’m feelin’ alright.”

“Ernie, what d’ya say, did Frankie earn a round?”

“You betcha Pal. An’ mebbe I’ll step up on the stage too. Here goes:

Imagine there’s no Heaven
It’s easy if you try
No Hell below us
Above us only sky

Imagine all the people
Livin’ for today
Aaa haa

Imagine there’s no countries
It isn’t hard to do
Nothing to kill or die for
And no religion too

Imagine all the people
Livin’ life in peace
Yoo hoo

You may say I’m a dreamer
But I’m not the only one
I hope someday you’ll join us
And the world will be as one

Imagine no possessions
I wonder if you can
No need for greed or hunger
A brotherhood of man

Imagine all the people
Sharin’ all the world
Yoo hoo

You may say I’m a dreamer
But I’m not the only one
I hope someday you’ll join us
And the world will live as one

“I know that ain’t the way Karaoke works here, Pal, but I couldn’t bring myself ta change one word a that John Lennon song.”

“I agree with ya Ernie.”

“Me too. Thinkin’ that’s a fine note ta end on.

Enjoy the Solstice ever’body. May there be much light in yer lives. We’ll always leave the light on fer ya here at the Saddle Up Saloon.”

Saddle Up Saloon; Rodeo ta Radio!

“Hey Pal.”

“Hey Kid. Yer face is scrunched. Yer thinkin’.”

“Wund’rin. Wund’rin where Shorty’s at when she ain’t aroun’ the Saloon or the Ranch.”

“Shorty’s always aroun’, Kid. But when she ain’t she’s at World Headquarters as Charli Mills.”

“Puts me in mind a Clark Kent and Superman somehow.”

“She’s a super woman, alright Kid. An’ her superpower is story tellin’.”

“But why does World Headquarters have ta be way up there in the Keweenaw, Pal?”

“Mebbe all thet water is groundin’. Mebbe there’s all kinds a stories up there, pilin’ up like snow.”

“An’ mebbe there’s other artists an’ storytellers up there. Mebbe this here’s one of ‘em. Howdy Rebecca Glotfelty! Welcome ta the Saddle Up Saloon.” 

“Hello Kid. Hello Pal.”

“Are you a storyteller Rebecca?”

“I sure am. I started out as a filmmaker and I wanted to help other people share their stories so I started a nonprofit called Real People Media – which has the mission to help people share their stories. And right now, we’re getting ready to open the Keweenaw Storytelling Center in downtown Calumet.”

 “A storytelling center!”

“Yep! A 7,800 square foot facility in which stories will be shared via the literary, visual, performing and media arts. We have an exhibit gallery, puppet theatre, 100 seat performance space and soon a throw back soda fountain. (It’s always fun to chew the fat around a soda fountain?)”

“Whoa. An’ right up there by Carrot Ranch’s World Headquarters. Mebbe the Keweenaw is the story tellin’ capital of the world!”

“Well, we hope to make it the capital of the Midwest at least. We provide exhibit opportunities for visual artists and performance opportunities for oral storytellers, singer-songwriters, and other performance artists.  One of our major programs is The Red Jacket Jamboree-— that’s an old-time radio variety show which shares, songs, stories, history and music from Michigan’s Upper Peninsula.”

“Thet soun’s familiar Rebecca. Reckon we ranch hands been givin’ voice ta our stories at the Carrot Ranch Literary Community. I ain’t s’prised you an’ Charli Mills found one anuther up there.”

“I’m so happy that we did.  I had been following Carrot Ranch online for the past year and had been looking for an opportunity to collaborate in some way.  Last December I ran into Charli and several other local writers at the Rozsa Center for the Performing Arts at a performance of Selected Shorts. I think it was a friend of Charli’s who handed me one of Charli’s essays about winter in the Keweenaw and I thought it would be perfect for The Red Jacket Jamboree Christmas episode that was coming up.”

“Whoa! So Charli Mills told a story as part a yer Red Jacket Jamboree radio program?”

“Yes, and another Carrot Rancher, Michelle Wright too. Last December we recorded two one-hour holiday episodes. Michelle shared her story during  ‘A Billie Holiday Holiday’ and Charli participated in ‘Christmas in the Keweenaw’. All our shows are recorded on stage in front of a live audience. These shows, which air this month on WNMU Public Radio 90, were recorded at the Rozsa Center for the Performing Arts on the campus of Michigan Tech University.”


A Billie Holiday Holiday aired last Friday and Christmas in the Keweenaw, featuring Charli Mills, airs on the 20th. If you’re not located in the broadcast area, you’ll be able to live stream the show during the broadcast.

“We caught the Billie Holiday Holiday show! It was a lotta fun an’ we learned stuff too. Copper Country folks sure seem ta injoy the local hist’ry.”

“Yet they seem connected. Must be the stories… And Michelle did a great job, thought thet was a real fine story.”

“I’m glad you were able to do that Kid and Pal. For those that missed it, the Holiday show can still be heard. We’re sending the secret link to stream both these episodes over Christmas week to anyone who makes a minimum donation to Real People Media’s end of the year fundraiser.  $3 for two hours of fabulous entertainment. It’s a deal! Practically a steal.” 

“Dust off yer wallet, Pal, that’s all I want fer Christmas, ta hep out the Storytellin’ Center an’ ta listen ta some a our own share their stories with Rebecca.”

“Rebecca thet all soun’s like a lot a fun. What d’ya injoy the most ‘bout yer work with Real People Media ?”

“Oh, that’s a hard one. Because I’m super excited about opening the storytelling center to the public and helping to make Calumet a destination for the storytelling Arts. And I can’t wait to host storytellers from all over the country.”

“Pal, don’t that soun’ akin ta Charli Mills’ vision fer her Carrot Ranch Literary Community?”

“Yep, an’ ta the Roberts Street Writery. Beginnin’ ta see thet World Headquarters is takin’ root in fertile ground. Rebecca, this storytelling center soun’s great. We def’nitely wanna hep out Real People Media an’ their projects.”

“Thank you. More immediately, Real People Media just got a grant for The Voice Box Sessions. It’s an artist development series for young singer-songwriters and performance artists.  High School students work with professional artists to improve their performance skills. Every month we’ll be hosting a new singer-songwriter who will perform a set, share their experience as an artist and then for the next 45 minutes kids will take the stage. We’re creating a warm and welcoming environment for these young artists. So I’m really excited to bring this program to Calumet.”

“Thet’s awesome!” 

“But I have to say, Pal, working with the cast and performers on The Red Jacket Jamboree has been incredible. I love to collaborate and this show is all about collaboration. It’s a whirlwind performance. We have one rehearsal the day before the show, and then the dress rehearsal and then the performance.”

“Soun’s intense all right.”

“It’s a fun challenge, Kid.”

“What’s been yer greatest challenge since startin’ out?”

“Well, I started Real People Media ten years ago, so there’s been many challenges in that time. The biggest challenge continues to be raising funds to make it all possible. I’m the main fundraiser, although our board is now taking on more of that responsibility. But I’m the grant writer, the producer, the principle writer of the show, the marketing director, the janitor— you name it.”

“Whoa. What don’t ya do ‘roun’ there?”

“Remarkably, our incredible stage band kind of fell into place. Jerry Younce is our incredible guitarist and music director. He’s just incredible. He pulls the best out of everybody. And Bill Carrothers is one of the top jazz pianists in the world. And he lives in the U.P!! How lucky is that!! Harry South is a young bass player who lives in Negaunee and we rotate between different percussionists. All so talented. Actor Ralph Horvath has been with us since day one and I can’t imagine him not being a part of the show. Marty Achatz, Poet Laureate of the U.P. is the show’s co-host. His voice lends so much to the show. And then there’s host Lena Dorey— need I say more?”

“Soun’s like a great crew. Thinkin’ thet Keweenaw might be a artists vortex a some sort.”

“I get to work with great people, and in a beautiful place.”

“Reckon yer in a historical buildin’?”

“Oh yes. There’s been challenges with the building as well. But that’s another long story. Family Dollar said they would donate the old Woolworth’s building to us via email on Feb. 4, 2019; on March 7 of that year, ¼ of the roof collapsed. They said they would tear it down instead. We said, no donate it to us, and $70,000 to repair the roof. They said ok and that is what happened. We got the deed on July 17, 2019. We repaired the roof, tore up 15,000 square foot of flooring – sanded (one pass only) 7,800 square feet of wood floor, took down pegboard, put up drywall, etc.”

“Whooie, thet’s a lotta work, but what wunnerful programs!”

“The renovations are not complete but the center is operational (we recorded our last episode of the The Red Jacket Jamboree there end of September). It will be awhile before the theatre is walled in. For now we have a portable wall defining it.”

“Thet’s great yer in there though.”

“Yes, but due to the rise in COVID cases we are not open to the public and won’t be opening until the beginning of the new year. We just continue to have our window displays and shows on the radio at this point. Next up we’re opening an Exhibit called ‘Around the World in 80 Hats’.  We hope to livestream events from the Center early in 2021. But who knows. COVID makes planning difficult!”  

“It’s a horrible thing. We’re all in it t’gether.”

“Rebecca, we’re real glad ya took time outta yer busy schedule ta share with us. We’d love ta hear from ya agin, an’ git caught up.”

“Thank you Pal and Kid. Don’t forget, your audience can hear both Charli and Michelle telling their stories as a part of the Red Jacket Jamboree radio show. You can hear Charli through a live-streamed radio recording or a minimal donation gets you a link to these shows open December 23-27.”

“Thanks fer takin’ the stage Rebecca. It was great meetin’ ya an’ we wish ya well with all yer projects.”

WMNU Public Radio 90! CLICK HERE to listen to the live stream of the show.
An exciting episode which explores the life and struggles of Billie Holiday through tunes performed or inspired by the acclaimed African American jazz vocalist. 

The show weaves together musical performances, interviews, and radio theatre  which help to convey the African American experience as it relates to the Copper Country.  Host Lena Dorey and Martin Achatz interview archeologist Timothy Scarlett, of MTU and Lynette Webber of the Keweenaw National Historical Park to learn about an archeological dig in Calumet which unearthed clues about the town’s early African American immigrants.  The show also includes dynamic performances by Jennifer Barnett, the Copper Cats, and Younce Guitar Duo. Storyteller, Michelle Wright shares her story on how she found warmth in the middle of a Keweenaw winter.  That and so much more in this upbeat holiday show with just a touch of sass!
Not able to listen tonight?
We’re offering a link to both of these Christmas episodes (From Dec. 23- 27th) to everyone who makes the minimum donation ($3) to Real People Media’s end of the year fundraiser!  Merry Christmas!
Donate Now
There’s nothing like Christmas in the Keweenaw!  Michigan’s magical winter wonderland!   The episode features Jennifer Barnett and the Copper Cats performing some of our favorite holiday tunes including “Keweenaw Snow.”  
Local author Charli Mills share’s her recollections of her first winter after moving to the copper country. 

They’re looking for lyrics for their Karaoke program next week! Free ranging characters who live and work at Carrot Ranch, Pal & Kid now serve up something more or less fresh every Monday at the Saddle Up Saloon . Got something to share? Take the stage! If you or your characters are interested in saddling up for a wild ride as a saloon guest, contact Pal & Kid via