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Saddle Up Saloon; Howdy Pete Fanning

“Pal, what’re these notes here on the bar? Justice In a Bottle? That’s a good name fer a drink. RunawayBlues? That with blueberry vodka? Bet either a those’d give ya the blues if yer not careful.”

“These ain’t cocktails Kid, they’re book titles. Our guest this week come out with Justice In a Bottle in 2019; Runaway Blues was one a the good things ta come out in 2020, an now there’s Bricktown Boys. Heard tell there’s another book in the chute too.”

“Jeez, Pal, this guest is real prolific!”

“I don’t care if he’s fer lifficks er aginst lifficks, Kid. Thinkin’ we’re real lucky ta git Pete Fanning ta stop by the saloon. Hey, here he comes now. Howdy, Pete! Welcome ta the Saddle Up Saloon.”

“Hello Pal. Hello Kid.”

“Seems I seen ya ‘roun the Ranch afore, Pete.”

“Oh man, yeah, we go way back. Seven or eight years? I had some stories in Rough Writers Volume I. I still write flash fiction, sometimes respond to Charli’s prompts at Carrot Ranch. Over at lunchbreakfiction.com the stories are usually a bit longer, 500-800 words”

“Is writing yer job or do you still fit it in on lunch breaks?”

“Writing is too much fun to be my job. Not that my real job isn’t fun, mind you. (Hi boss!) I write in the mornings and find myself reading at lunch, or at night if I can stay awake.”

“Well ya seemed ta a found some time somewheres. We was seein’ how yer on a roll!”

“I’m glad it looks that way! Timing, I suppose. I wrote Justice in A Bottle and Runaway Blues a while back, maybe in 2015. They sat for a year, as I wrote other things (coming out now), then I came back to them and changed some things. Then I fixed them again. Then, while querying, I kept on chugging along, writing new stuff, and so on…”

“What’s the most challenging part a writin’ fer ya?”

“Kid, I’d have to say it’s the getting started part. That’s the hard part. Once it gets going, it’s good.”

“Good, huh? Whut’s the easiest part a writin’?”

“The easiest part is when you fall completely into your story. When you are there. Those times when you stop and have to blink yourself out of it. Those are my favorite times.”

Heard tell ya had an aging coach tell ya once ya didn’t deserve to wear a Duke t-shirt, implied there was things ya jist couldn’t shouldn’t do. Anyone ever try to dissuade ya from writin’?”

“Ha, joke’s on the old ball coach, I’m a Virginia fan. To your question, maybe not so much dissuade but a lot of people couldn’t understand me making time to write. I remember one friend telling me, ‘You either have it or you don’t.’ Which is nonsense. Stephen King didn’t wake up one day and write Carrie. He wrote ALL THE TIME.”

 “What does a writers’ t-shirt look like? How do ya know if ya deserve to wear that one?”

“If you enjoy it, wear it. If it makes you happy to write words, build worlds, create stories, wear the air brushed, neon green hoodie that reads, WRITE STUFF. Just me? Okay cool.”

“So are ya one a them plotters, or are ya a more of a pantser?”

“Let me consult my notes to better answer this… Kidding! Pantser all the way. To a fault.”

“Pete, we ‘preciate ya comin’ by fer this innerview. We know ya been featured elsewhere, includin’ a PBS television innerview. Some folks come here an’ take the stage in our fam’ly frien’ly dinin’ area an’ others cozy up ta the bar here fer conversation.”

“This seems like a classic western saloon bar, Pal, except for the books lining the shelves.”

“Yep, Ernie stocked us with books of all sorts as well as bottles. I notice thet lots a yer short stories thet I’ve read at lunchbreakfiction.com have a drinkin’ drunk of an adult character thet brings real tension ta the story. Not jist Troy in Bricktown Boys.”

“I feel like things happen in real life and they should be told in real life language. I get that some people might not want to read about things they disapprove of and that’s fine too. My next book, THE GIRL IN MY TREEHOUSE features two parents and a loving household, and one sheltered boy whose world changes in one magical summer.”

“They’s some incomf’terble truths in Bricktown Boys. Nuthin’ wrong with thet. How’d ya meet the characters a Bricktown Boys?

“I wrote this terrible novel one time, okay many times. But this even before Justice and Runaway Blues. The story was filled with flashbacks of the main character’s childhood. That was probably the beginnings of Sam and Tommy. Over time the story changed but the football was there, the kids too. Troy came along. Mrs. Coleman’s part grew and then I thought: Well, she’s just has to coach the team. Delia came last. She’s what I call the best kept secret of the book.”

“I liked all yer characters, well almost all the characters. They felt real.”

“Thanks Kid.”

“How long ya been working on that one, Bricktown? I feel like I seen some scenes here at Carrot Ranch in 99 words.”

“Again, the origins sat in a desk drawer for a while—years—which was good for the book because in the meantime I became a better writer. Trayvon Martin’s death hit me hard. Tamir Rice, too. I’m sure it was in the back of my mind when I came back to the story.”

“I didn’t like Troy, but know folks like ‘im, an’ thought ya dealt with ‘im kindly. I loved Mrs. Coleman! Did ya have either a them characters in yer real life ever?”

“I grew up in a lower middle class neighborhood. Different races, same boat. I met some Troy’s but luckily my Dad was always around. Each kid in the book is loosely based on friends I had growing up. Mrs. Coleman is a mix of my grandmother and a few teachers and a few friends’ mothers.”

“Pete, d’ya have characters that ya jist cain’t shake even after givin’ ‘em a novel? Will there be sequels or series?”

“I have this book (Coming in July!), Fairy Dust Fumble. It’s about a clumsy middle school kid who’s cast as a fairy in a play. But when his sister actually creates a spell that turns one of his stage props magical, he starts doing all these crazy things on the football field. Well, she was too much fun so I’ve written an entire sequel with her as the main character. I’m calling it Spellbound and I’m currently pitching to my publisher.”

“We don’t doubt thet it’ll git published. Like we said, yer on a roll. Wondrin’, are ya at all worried about fame and fortune? What with bein’ on PBS already and what with Justice in a Bottle nominated fer an award.”    

“I am not. Besides, Justice is like a bridesmaid. It was a finalist in the Indies Today awards and was considered by the New York Public Library for their best of 2020 list, but my mantel isn’t exactly overcrowded with hardware. My son is proud of me and that’s pretty cool, but if I ever start thinking I’m big time I can just go change his sister’s diaper. That will take care of that.”

“Well Pete Fanning is a big time name ta us.”

“Ha! Funny because my sister started calling me Pete when I was three and it stuck. It’s what I go by and like to be called, and what my first three middle grade books are written under. Now, my publisher has asked me to take a pen name for future Young Adult releases, some of them with more mature content. I had to laugh. I’m using a pen name!”

“Well, congratulations on all a yer successes, unner any name. Thanks fer comin’ by the Saddle Up, Pete Fanning.”

************************************

Publisher:

https://www.immortalworks.press/product-page/bricktown-boys

Amazon:

Bricktown Summary:

It’s 1987 and twelve-year-old Sam Beasley only wants two things: to play football and for his mother to stop dating losers. Only there’s no money for a football team in Bricktown, while there’s an endless supply of losers for his mother to bring home.

Sam finds a friend in the elderly widow down the street. While he’s careful not to let on about his crummy home life, Mrs. Coleman always seems to know when he needs to do wash or eat a hot meal. When he mentions his football dilemma, she surprises him by offering to fund the team. It’s a dream come true, until she names the team The Gospel, declares herself head coach, and arms herself with a whistle, Bible scriptures, and a mouthful of grammar lessons. But Sam has bigger worries, like his mom’s latest loser, Troy, easily the worse one yet. As Sam’s home life spirals out of control, the boys of Bricktown become more than a football team, and football becomes more than just about winning.

The Girl in My Treehouse Summary (4/12/2021)

Only one summer sits between Matt Crosby and high school, and it feels like his middle school friends are leaving him behind. But when a comet of a girl moves in up the street, Matt discovers a side of himself that’s dying to break free and try something new.

Lia doesn’t see the Matt Crosby everyone else sees: the shy, awkward kid with the stammer, but instead a friend. With Lia, the long, summer days are action-packed with wonder. From scavenger hunts at the grocery store to midnight canoeing under the moon at Preacher Higgins’ pond. Or maybe just staring at the sky and feeling completely comfortable in his own skin. But in a small town like Maycomb, a girl like Lia doesn’t go unnoticed.

Matt’s old friends make jokes about the way Lia dresses, her hair, even her darker skin. As a correctional officer, Matt’s father has already run into Lia’s mother at the jail. But it isn’t until Matt discovers Lia sleeping in his treehouse that he realizes things might be worse for her than she’s letting on. Having found the courage to follow his heart instead of his friends, Matt realizes that somewhere along the way, he became the Matt Crosby Lia saw all along.

Author Bio:

Pete Fanning is the author of Justice in a Bottle, Runaway Blues, and Bricktown Boys. He lives in Virginia with his wife, son, newborn girl, and two very spoiled dogs. He can be found at www.petefanning.com, where he’s posted over 200 flash fiction stories. 

If asked, Pal & Kid will deny that they spill from the pen of D. Avery. They claim to be free ranging characters who live and work at Carrot Ranch and now serve up something more or less fresh every Monday at the Saddle Up Saloon. If you or your characters are interested in saddling up to take the stage as a saloon guest, contact them via shiftnshake@dslayton.com.

Saddle Up Saloon; Serious Fun

“Pal? Pal, where ya at?”

“Pal’s not here, Kid. Just me.”

“What? Why’re you here at the Saddle Up, D. Avery? Where’s Pal?”

“Pal asked me to fill in this week. Said it might do you some good to touch base with your writer.”

“Hmmph. Ya know well as me I kin write m’sef.”

“I do know as well as you Kid. But Pal thought maybe I should check in on you.”

“Hmmph. But I s’pose ya knew I was gonna say that.”

“Kid, I know a lot of people identify me as your writer, but the fact is I don’t often know what you’re going to say or do. So why don’t you tell me what’s bothering you.”

 “I ain’t quite sure either. Guess it’s this writin’ thing.”

“I saw that you wrote a short story for Marsha Ingrao’s Story Chat! Congratulations, Kid.”

“Yeah. Thanks. It’s jist that, people think I’m funny. That was a serious story a suspense an’ mystery.”

“Ahem. Okay. But, Kid. Being funny is your job around here.”

“Well that’s a lotta pressure, D., havin’ ta be funny. An’ then what if I ain’t funny?”

“Is that your worry? Sure, you take risks Kid. Everyone that writes at the Ranch is taking a risk, putting themselves out there. But I think it works; you are usually funny.”

“Yeah. Thanks. It’s jist that… ah, never mind.”

“No, what, Kid?”

“It’s jist that bein’ so funny an’ all, I worry I won’t never be taken seriously.”

“Seriously Kid? You’re worried about not being funny and about being too funny?”

“Well, it sounds funny when ya put it like that.”

“Listen, Kid, I’m glad you’re taking humor seriously.”

“You tryin’ ta be funny?”

“Not always. But humor always helps. I’ve been thinking about this lately. Maybe something I read at Norah Colvin’s site? Growth mindset and all that? I don’t know. But just recently the Wellness Committee at my new school asks, Did you know that humor is actually a way to build resilience? Yes, I did know that. Your friend Shorty must know that too, Kid. She set you up with the Saddle Up Saloon at the beginning of the pandemic so that you could help people reduce stress by giving them a laugh.”

“Yep, she give me an’ Pal a space ta ennertain folks.”

“Funny you should say that. A space. Sogyal Rinpoche, a Buddhist teacher from Tibet, said humor is a way of ‘making room’.  Of being accommodating. I always felt, as a teacher, that humor facilitated both teaching and learning in the space provided by its use. And humor can provide a lens to look at problems in a new way, to see things differently.”

“But I ain’t no teacher, D.”

“You might be, Kid. I’ve learned from you and from Pal. And what you do is provide people some time and space to step away from reality. As Elena Aguiliar says, When we laugh at ourselves, we don’t take ourselves too seriously. When we laugh with others, humor breaks down barriers, brings us onto common ground, and builds our resilience. If you can help people to laugh, Kid, and get silly, well that’s important work. Humor helps build a healthy mindset.”

“Mmm.”

“Aguiliar also says that much research has shown that laughter strengthens the immune system. And that laughter is grounding.

“It does feel good ta be a part a that. But that’s jist more pressure fer me ta be funny. An’ if I am funny then that’s jist more reason that folks mebbe won’t never take me seriously.”

“Look, Kid, playing the fool doesn’t make you foolish. Pay attention to old stories and traditional tales. The jester is as important as the wise man to balance the king, and the jester’s counsel and advice often contains more wisdom, in a more palatable form.”

“Mebbe. Like havin’ a musin’ character and a amusin’ character?

“Uh, yeah. But, look, Kid, if you really want a serious role, I can write you differently.”

“You’d do that fer me?”

“If it’s important to you, yes.”

“Kin fix it so I ain’t mixin’ up words, things ain’t goin’ over my head? Fix it so I ain’t messin’ up an’ gittin’ inta scrapes?”

“Sure.”

“Not annoyin’ Pal all the time?”

“Yes. I mean no. I mean, yes, you could not be annoying Pal all the time.”

“Well that doesn’t sound like much fun, D.”

“But I thought— ”

“Think agin. I was just Kid-ding!”

“Phew!”

“Mebbe I’ll even start tellin’ dirty jokes.”

“No, Kid, not that.”

 “What, ain’tcha got a sense a humus?”

“Ugh. See you around the Ranch, Kid.”

“Yep.”

“And Kid?”

“Yep?”

“Congratulations to you and to Pal. It’s a year today that you’ve been running the Saddle Up. And I think you’ve got another great year ahead.”

“Ya got that write, D.!”

Like a welcome summer rain, humor may suddenly cleanse

And cool the earth, the air and you.

~Lanston Hughes

Interact! Leave a link to a favorite funny story, or leave the story in the comments. What are your thoughts on writing funny?

*Elena Aguiliar quotes are from her Onward; Cultivating Emotional Resilience in Educators .

If asked, Pal & Kid will deny that they spill from the pen of D. Avery. They claim to be free ranging characters who live and work at Carrot Ranch and now serve up something more or less fresh every Monday at the Saddle Up Saloon. If you or your characters are interested in saddling up to take the stage as a saloon guest, contact them via shiftnshake@dslayton.com.

Saddle Up Saloon; Colleen’s Double Ennead Challenge No. 2

Happy March! Welcome to the Carrot Ranch Double Ennead Monthly Poetry Challenge. Every third Monday of the month, I’ll be here at Carrot Ranch with another challenge to help get your poetic juices flowing. Each month, we will explore a different theme or image to inspire our poetry. Take your time, there’s no hurry! You have a month to write your poem.

Check out the poems from last month HERE.

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 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! Punctuation and rhyme schemes are optional and up to the poet. Don’t be afraid to experiment.

Why write poetry?

When a writer embraces the ability to convey complex images and emotions in just a few lines, they have learned to strengthen their writing. In the same way, flash fiction helps us hone in on the words to tell our story, syllabic poetry does much the same by forcing us to find the best word and meaning. This brevity of words leads to more concise writing.

Syllabic verse is any kind of poetry defined by the number of syllables in each line. In English, syllables must have a vowel sound. For example, the word “apple” has two vowel sounds, which divide it into the syllables “ap” and “ple.” Depending on our accent, we pronounce some words with different accents on the syllables. For example, the word “fire” and “poem” can be read with either one or two vowel sounds.

Always check your syllables with a syllable counter when composing and writing syllabic poetry. The pronunciation of words is very important to conveying a meaning in your poems. You can use sodacoffee.com as a syllable counter. There is also howmanysyllables.com, which is another favorite because you get access to synonyms as you’re composing.

Our Inspiration: “SPRING”

This month, let’s work with the theme of spring. Write your poetry inspired by an image, a photograph, the view outside your window, another piece of poetry like found poetry, or even a song. It’s up to you! Share whatever inspired you to write your poem.

For example, here is my inspiration piece below:

Corinne Bailey Rae – “Put Your Records On”

Three little birds sat on my window
And they told me I don't need to worry
Summer came like cinnamon
So sweet
Little girls double-dutch on the concrete

Maybe sometimes we've got it wrong, but it's alright
The more things seem to change, the more they stay the same
Oh, don't you hesitate

Girl, put your records on, tell me your favourite song
You go ahead, let your hair down
Sapphire and faded jeans, I hope you get your dreams
Just go ahead, let your hair down

You're gonna find yourself somewhere, somehow

Blue as the sky, sunburnt and lonely
Sipping tea in a bar by the roadside
(Just relax, just relax)
Don't you let those other boys fool you
Got to love that afro hair do

Maybe sometimes we feel afraid, but it's alright
The more you stay the same, the more they seem to change
Don't you think it's strange?

Girl, put your records on, tell me your favourite song
You go ahead, let your hair down
Sapphire and faded jeans, I hope you get your dreams
Just go ahead, let your hair down

You're gonna find yourself somewhere, somehow

'Twas more than I could take, pity for pity's sake
Some nights kept me awake, I thought that I was stronger
When you gonna realise, that you don't even have to try any longer?
Do what you want to

Girl, put your records on, tell me your favourite song
You go ahead, let your hair down
Sapphire and faded jeans, I hope you get your dreams
Just go ahead, let your hair down

Girl, put your records on, tell me your favourite song
You go ahead, let your hair down
Sapphire and faded jeans, I hope you get your dreams
Just go ahead, let your hair down

Oh, you're gonna find yourself somewhere, somehow

AZLyrics.com

“Fly Free”

a trio of sparrows
flit from branch to branch
my window, an open stage to their slow dance
chasing the winter blues
waiting for the thaw

life's cruel winds dictate
situations change—
maybe I've got it all wrong, but it's alright
it's time to chase my dreams 
nothing stays the same

azure skies and sunshine
are coming my way
It's time to find myself, to fly free on wings,
filled with inspiration
and new beginnings

©2021 Colleen M. Chesebro

Poetry is based on your perceptions. This song makes me want to dance under a starry spring night! I used the song as a metaphor for “spring” and new beginnings. Follow your inner voice for inspiration.

  • Write a double ennead poem based on the theme of spring. Your inspiration can come from whatever source inspires you.
  • Post it on your blog.
  • Include a link back to this challenge in your post. (copy the https:// address of this post into your post).
  • Read and comment on your fellow poet’s work. Feedback from other poets is how we grow our poetry writing craft.
  • Like and leave a comment below if you choose to do so.
  • I’ll visit, comment, and share your poetry on social media! I’ll share a roundup of all of your poetry on colleenchesebro.com the Saturday before the next Double Ennead challenge.

Now have fun and write some double ennead poetry inspired by spring!

Saddle Up Saloon; Howdy Ann Edall-Robson!

“Pal, is that…?”

“Yep. Sure is, Kid. Ann Edall-Robson ‘as stopped by the Saddle Up.”

“Woohoo! The Rough Writer who pens the Quiet Spirits column fer Carrot Ranch? I heard she might be too busy fer us, heard she’s got a lot a irons in the fire. Uh, Pal, does that s’pression refer ta when irons fer clothes was heated up on a cook range, or is it referrin’ ta brandin’ irons on the cattle range?”

“Reckon we could ask Ann, she might know.”

“She might er she might not. Heard tell she makes stuff up.”

“Thet’s ‘cause she’s a story teller, Kid. Come on, lit’s go talk with ‘er.”

“Howdy Ann!”

“Hello there Kid. Pal. You caught me wetting my whistle here at the bar. Come sit with me.”

“Thet soun’s good, Ann. Sure liked what ya did couple weeks back in yer Quiet Spirits column. Had folks guessin’ whether yer stories was truth er fiction. How much does thet blurry border matter ta story tellin?”

“Well Pal, it’s hard not to mix the two and at the same time it’s not hard to mix the two. Writing a story specific to a topic needs believable information. It shows readers who are knowledgeable about the subject that my work is credible.”

“Speakin’ a borders, where d’ya hail from, Ann?”

“Home for me is Canada. I grew up in what is called The Cariboo Country of British Columbia. Some forty odd years ago a transfer became available with the company I worked for and I migrated east of the Rockies to Alberta, where I have hung my hat ever since.”

“Are ya all snowed in out there, Ann, er d’ya got stuff goin’ on?”

“Snow and cold aren’t a big deal when you grow up with it. You learn to be prepared for every kind of weather. When it gets real cold, like -40F or colder, it’s nice to know I don’t have to go out. I hunker down and work on one of the dozen or so projects I have on the go. Although, when the weather is that cold, it can make for some pretty amazing photography opportunities. We are also very lucky in this part of the world to experience Chinooks. They are also known as snow eaters and the weather can change from -40 to above zero in a matter of hours.”

“Ain’t that ranchin’ country out there where yer at?”

“Kid, didn’t’cha know? Ann here is a real deal rancher.”

“Truth?”

“Truth, Kid.”  

“Well, not quite, Pal. My dad ranched and rodeoed before enlisting to go overseas in WWII, but that’s a story for another day. I grew up in ranching country. We had family members and friends who were/are ranchers and I spent as much time as I could with my aunt and uncles on their ranch. It’s where I got addicted to horses and doing chores and chasing cows. It’s common for ranchers to help each other to round up cattle in the fall and gather to brand cattle in the spring. Whenever I could, I was immersing myself in this life. Somehow I managed to convince my parents it would be a good thing for me to own my own horse and my aunt and uncle gave me a mare and foal when I was ten or eleven. It didn’t take long for me to start entering local gymkhanas and rodeos.”

“Is that where ya git yer stories from Ann?”

“Maaayyyyybeeee…haha… It’s like this; where I come from guides me to where I need to go. As luck would have it, I am passionate about letting people know about the western and ranch culture that encompasses a way of life that is fast disappearing. I can hopefully educate people by including the knowledge I was lucky enough to experience growing up into the books and such that I write.”

“How an’ when did ya git from them ranches ta Carrot Ranch?”

“I have a collection of my writings going back to my high school days. The man of the house (aka my husband Steve) and I had many discussions about publishing these archaic works, but neither of us had a clue where to start. Steve was an advocate of networking, and started doing research to see if anyone else out there was in the same boat. Through some online searching for like-minded writing people/groups he came across the Carrot Ranch. I remember the day he announced that he had found the place I needed to get involved with to start getting my work seen. In April 2016, I wrote Ivor Oaks, and my first 99-Word story was published here at the Ranch.”

“How would ya d’scribe the kinda writin’ d’ya do?”

“I write in several genres (cozy mysteries – contemporary fiction, cookbooks, children’s books, some poetry, and, non-fiction). They all have one thing in common – western and ranch culture.”

“Which kinda writin’ comes easiest to ya?”

“Anything that gives me the opportunity to share mine and Steve’s heritage and culture. Oh, and stuff that turns a random what if thought into a rambling of words that need to be sorted out somewhere down the line.”

“Which gives ya the most satisfaction?”

“The knee jerk reaction to that question is, “All of them!” What it boils down to is, I love to share what others may never get to experience. You will hear me say that time and time again; but the reality is it’s true, and through all of my writing genres, I am able to do this. Now if you want me to identify my absolute favourite genre, I would have to say the cozy mysteries and the children’s books are neck and neck.”

“Ya done mentioned photo opper-tunities. Thet camera yer totin’ ever git in the way a writin’ er does it git the writin’ goin’?”

“My photographs never get in the way of writing unless you take into consideration the days I think I should be writing and I am out somewhere taking pictures, like today.”

“What do you do with all yer pictures?”

“A lot of my pictures can be found on our DAKATAMA™️ Country where people can order products with my pictures on them. I use my photographs for my book covers, and have had other authors use them as well. We are also in the process of adding photo products to our new business website. If you follow my Ann Edall-Robson FB page, we share a picture prompt there every Thursday. And, we have recently added The Photo Challenge to our website for those who are not on FB. 

But, here’s a secret for you about the hundreds of thousands of pictures in my photo library – My 99-Word stories or any other prompt writing I might get involved in all boil down to one thing – have I got a picture to go with it? Very seldom is the answer ‘no’. Not many people know about my photo inspirations in writing my 99-Word stories, that is unless they actually follow the link back to my website.”

“I’d highly recommend they do link back to yer website jist ta see yer amazin’ photos. Seems like some was featured here at the Saloon too, when we ran thet Art Showin’.”

“Yep. Ann, yer a visual artist, well as a literary artist, seems like it goes hand in hand. But what’s been yer greatest challenge as a writer?”

“For me, I would have to say Marketing is a challenge for two reasons. First because I am an Indie Author and my company publishes my own books so it is completely up to us to market our products. Second, and I think this falls in line with the challenges I face in marketing, is my upbringing. I was raised that if you talked about yourself and your accomplishments, you were a braggart or blowhard and most likely both. This was not acceptable. People knew what you were capable of and would spread the word if necessary. It has taken me quite a while to get past the morals of my upbringing to talk publicly about my work and what my passions are. Since I have resigned myself to the fact that these elements are a necessary evil in promoting myself and my work I now consider it part of the job. It doesn’t make it any easier to do, but I know word of mouth isn’t the marketing platform it once was.”

“What’s been yer greatest joy as a writer?”

“Writing! Being able to put all the thoughts spinning on the Bunster Wheel down on paper. Knowing that some will never see the light of day and others will be shared with the world whether they want them or not. Getting the past as I know and remember archived in some way for future generations.

Writing has also given me the opportunity to mentor others in the craft. Not necessarily as writers, but the independent publishing and business side that comes with wanting to become a published writer with aspirations to sell their books.”

“Sure seems like yer like-minded with Carrot Ranch all write. Yer a real asset.”

 “Thank you, Kid, but speaking of assets, I need to step down off this stool and stretch.”

“Pal, look! Ann Edall-Robson’s tall like Shorty!”

“Shush Kid. Ann, we wanna thank ya fer a fine innerview.”

“Yep. We sure ‘preciate ya takin’ time outta yer schedule and findin’ yer way ta the Saddle Up.”

“My pleasure. Thank you Kid and Pal.”

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

If asked, Pal & Kid will deny that they spill from the pen of D. Avery. They claim to be free ranging characters who live and work at Carrot Ranch and now serve up something more or less fresh every Monday at the Saddle Up Saloon. If you or your characters are interested in saddling up to take the stage as a saloon guest, contact them via shiftnshake@dslayton.com.

Saddle Up Saloon: 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.
(c/o allpoetry.com)

—–

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.
(c/o allpoetry.com)

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: https://www.subscribepage.com/sugar-and-snails-free-e-book.”

“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.”

https://www.subscribepage.com/sugar-and-snails-free-e-book

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: https://www.subscribepage.com/sugar-and-snails-free-e-book 

Trailer: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vnJ5pbhSLho&feature=youtu.be

Website: annegoodwin.weebly.com

Twitter @Annecdotist.

Link tree https://linktr.ee/annecdotist

Amazon author page: viewauthor.at/AnneGoodwin

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 shiftnshake@dslayton.com.

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.”

“Yeah?” 

“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 colleenchesebro.com 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!”

“Whut?”

“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.”

colleenchesebro.com

wordcraftpoetry.com

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 shiftnshake@dslayton.com.

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 shiftnshake@dslayton.com

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.”

“Hmmf.”

“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 shiftnshake@dslayton.com 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—”

fffftt

Seriously folks, let’s git some photos sent ta shiftnshake@dslayton.com 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!”

“Yeah?”

“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.”

“Exactly.”

“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.”

Marsha

If asked, Pal & Kid will deny that they spill from the pen of D. Avery. They claim to be free ranging characters who live and work at Carrot Ranch and now serve up something more or less fresh every Monday at the Saddle Up Saloon. If you or your characters are interested in saddling up to take the stage as a saloon guest, contact them via shiftnshake@dslayton.com.

Saddle Up Saloon; 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.”

“Reckon.”

“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?”

“Yep.”

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

“Kid…”

“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 shiftnshake@dslayton.com.