Monday Blog Post: Payson Book Festival Report

Main Room, Payson Book Festival, by Randy Cockrell

Main Room, Payson Book Festival, by Randy Cockrell

The first ever Payson Book Festival (www.PaysonBookFestival.org) is over and we’re calling it a success. Authors made sales and met new readers. Visitors found new authors and old favorites. There was music, presentations, workshops, Story Monster, food and books. Lots and lots of books. We are only estimating at this point but we think we had 500 visitors at the festival. We’re very happy of course, but very tired. It turned into a bigger event that we had initially anticipated but the wide variety of authors and things to do, including breakfast and lunch, made the festival a place where many people lingered for quite awhile. Soon we’ll have some festival pictures available to post on the above website. Take a look!

J.A. Marlow and Connie Cockrell talking to Readers photo by Randy Cockrell

J.A. Marlow and Connie Cockrell talking to Readers photo by Randy Cockrell

My personal day statistics? I sold 11 books and passed out my card to many people and chatted with even more. I also had the opportunity to speak with a great many of my fellow authors. I even received an offer of a speaking engagement. I also was able to spend the day with four author friends. Two of them J.A.Marlow (http://jamarlow.com/) and Sunny Lewis shared my table and my friend D’Elen McClain (www.wickedstorytelling.com) was right next door on my right and another, Sharon Langdale, (http://sharonlangdale.com) on my left. It was a fantastic opportunity. Here’s my Amazon Author page link. http://www.amazon.com/-/e/B009O6199C

Mystery at the Fair is released on Amazon. I’m working on the formatting for Smashwords so I can put it up on Apple, Barnes and Noble, Kobo and iTunes. See the link at the end to Amazon’s Mystery at the Fair page.

Camp NaNo progresses but after I reached 30K words and with the Book Festival and the Meet and Greet looming, I just couldn’t get any words last week. So, I gave myself permission to take the rest of the week off and got out from under all of the stress I was self-creating. I felt better for it and on Sunday, sat down and wrote. Yay! I won’t make my goal of 50,000 but I may make 40K. Not half bad and Mystery in the Woods will be half done.

I also need to edit my entry in the Forward Motion anthology. I titled it Betrayal Moon. The anthology prompt was rogues and reprobates and I think I found a good protagonist for this prompt. The anthology is due out in October so I need to hurry!

The garden is looking wonderful. I’ve picked more zucchini though the straight neck yellow squash has produced nothing this year. It flowers but I’m getting no fruit. Perhaps I needed two of them? I’m in the process of not watering the bed where the mint has run amok. Letting that bed go until I can dig out all of the mint roots. Sunday I cut a bunch of it out, prepping for the digging. The tomatoes are looking good even though none are ripe yet. So far I’ve picked six hornworms out of the tomatoes. The cantaloupe is looking good though the little pillbugs like to eat it from underneath. I’ll have to take drastic measures. Also on Sunday, I picked a basketful of peaches. The apples must also be ripe because Sunday morning a herd of javalina were in the yard eating all of the low hanging apples. Hubby caught a picture of them.

Javalina eating my Apples. Photo by Randy Cockrell

Javalina eating my Apples. Photo by Randy Cockrell

Thanks for stopping by my blog today.

I have a special offer going up in my newsletter so sign up today! Click here to sign up for my newsletter. I make special offers to my newsletter people that I do not make on the website blogs.

Mystery at the Fair released July 15th! I’m pretty excited about it. You can buy it and my other books at: Apple, Amazon, Barnes and Noble, Kobo, or Smashwords today! If you’ve read any of my books, please drop a review on the site where you bought it. It’s a big help to me in the book rankings each vendor uses to promote the books on their sites. Thanks in advance.

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Flash Fiction Friday Story: Pet Peeves

Face, Pet Peeves, Randy Cockrell

Pet Peeves by Randy Cockrell

Alandra Nickels slammed on her brakes, her nose nearly hitting the steering wheel. She jammed the heel of her hand into the horn. “Holy crap! Use the damn turn signal, that’s what it’s there for!”

The other driver, an elderly man, waved and continued on his way.

“Oh for….” She glanced in the rear view, the driver in the car behind her was mouthing profanities, she could tell. Alandra waved in the same way the elderly driver did and stepped on the gas. As she drove she counted her lucky stars that her car hadn’t been smashed from both ends but she was shaking. “I hate that,” she mumbled. “Why the hell people can’t let other drivers know what they’re doing is beyond me.”

She was still stewing about the turn signal when she stopped at the light of a major intersection. A car pulled up in the lane beside her, sound system turned up so loud her ears hurt. She turned to see who was in the rusting car. Four young men, stoners from the look of them, playing something that only resembled music because instruments were involved. She shivered with the pain of the blast and wondered how their teeth stayed in their heads. Alandra was glad when the light changed and the boys roared off, a good fifteen miles an hour faster than the speed limit.

At work, she cruised the parking garage for a spot. A spot finally was found on the top level, in the sun, of course. That’s what I get for coming in late. I should just take the day off after a doctor’s appointment.

“Alandra, you’re here!” Her boss, Nathan Wills, called out through his office door as she passed. “Glad you made it. Your presentation has been moved to three o’clock.”

“It’s scheduled for tomorrow at two, Nathan. They pushed it back an hour?”

“No, no. Grab your stuff, it’s today,” he looked at his watch. “In half an hour.”

Her stomach rolled. “But, I’m not prepared! I was going to clean up the slides this afternoon.”

“No time, you do good work, Alandra. They’ll be fine. The VP is going out of town tonight and wants to see the presentation before he goes.”

“OK. Meet you in the board room.” She hurried to her desk, a cubicle just down the hall. Oh, crap. My brain isn’t into this right now.

As she stuck a thumb drive into her computer to download her presentation, a co-worker stuck her head around the partition. “Alandra, Thank God you’re back. The Mason account computer vendor just emailed me that the order is going to be delayed a month.”

Alandra stared. “Jean, I’ve just been called to the board room.” She swallowed, those computers had to be on site in a week. “Call them and tell them that if the computers aren’t here in five business days we’ll sue them for breach of contract?”

Jean blinked. “We can do that?”

“Of course not. But tell them that anyway.” Jean was her least reliable team member. “Be convincing. Be firm. You don’t want to be the one to tell Mason that we can’t move forward on their project do you?”

Jean’s head shook. “No, Alandra. No, not me.”

“Good. Get on it.”

She grabbed her print copy of the presentation and the thumb drive and headed to the board room. No hard copy to hand out, I haven’t reviewed the presentation, Jean is about to sink the whole Mason project and I’m still ticked about the drive here. That’s what I get. At the board room she stopped out of sight and took a few deep breaths. It never did well to arrive looking flustered and panicked.

Alandra stepped into the room, her boss, the VP, the secretary, and the CFO were already at the table. She went to the other end, plugged the thumb drive into the projector and adjusted the focus. Her boss poured her a glass of water which she sipped immediately.

“Good Afternoon, ladies and gentlemen. Thank you for taking the time to hear about the status of the projects we have on our plates.”

When it was over, the VP shook her hand. “Well done, Alandra. I like that you didn’t waste paper on handouts. The information is in the database. If I want a hard copy I can download it. Good cost cutting move and fine presentation.”

She nodded and smiled and wondered at her good luck that she hadn’t had time to print out the documents. Nathan grinned when the two of them were walking back to their desks. “That went well. You were as prepared as always.”

Alandra accepted the praise. She’d remember that when the next review rolled around.

At home that evening she poured a glass of Riesling as she told her husband about her day. “One problem after another, every one of them a pet peeve.” She sipped the wine. “I thought my head would explode.”

Her husband stopped stirring the marinara he was making and leaned over to kiss her on the cheek. “Sorry you had a bad day, Sweetie. You shouldn’t let things like the turn signals and loud music bother you so much.”

“Yeah, but those things just ratchet up my stress levels.”

“Well, now you’re home and safe and the car is whole.” He sprinkled fresh oregano into the sauce.

Alandra grit her teeth. She hated oregano. She sighed and sipped more wine. “Yeah. I guess so.”

The End

916 Words

Find more of the Forward Motion Flash Friday Group here: http://www.fmwriters.com/flash.html

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Monday Blog Post: Birthday News

Payson Book Festival, Banner,  Chamber of Commerce

Payson Book Festival Banner at the Chamber of Commerce

There’s only 7 more days until the festival and we’re finalizing all of the tiny details required to be completed before we have our author Meet and Greet on Friday and the Festival on Saturday. Banners have been hung around town. TV, Radio, Blog and Newspaper interviews have been conducted all over Arizona. Posters are up. We’re ready!  I hope you can make it to Payson on July 25th, 9am – 4pm, and stop by the festival to say hello!

If you missed any of the interviews or media releases or want to read the proclamation, click here to find everything.

So Friday was my birthday. A hiking friend of mine had her birthday a week earlier. We’re the same age. Twins! So we had a joint birthday party on Saturday.  We belong to many of the same groups so we sent out an email to all of our friends to join us. We had a blast. Burgers and dogs, salads, cake, cookies, watermelon and oh, way too much food! Below is a picture from the party.

Birthday Cake, Connie, Ruth

Birthday Cake for Connie and Ruth

Mystery at the Fair is released! I’m happy that I have it done and was able to buy copies to have for the Book Festival. So far it’s only up on Amazon. Soon I’ll have it up on other sites: Apple, Barnes and Noble, and a few others.

Camp NaNo progresses. I’m not sure why I thought it would be a good idea to hold two major functions, release a book, and write 50K in a month but there you go, certifiably crazy. As of today I have over 30,000 words.  I’m working on the second Jean Hays series book, Mystery in the Woods. When will it be out, you ask? No idea. I have two other books, that I wrote in April, waiting for editing. Maybe you can tell I’m not as enthusiastic about the editing and rewriting part as I am about writing the first draft.

The garden is looking wonderful. I’ve picked four zuchinni already and harvested the potatoes. Now I’m in the process of not water the bed where the mint has run amok. I’m going to have to let that bed go until I can dig out all of the mint. The tomatoes are looking good even though none are ripe yet. This is Tomato Hornworm season so I have to carefully examine the plants. The damage a tomato hornworm can do is incredible.

Thanks for stopping by my blog today.

I have a special offer going up in my newsletter, sign up today! Click here to sign up for my newsletter. I make special offers to my newsletter people that I do not make on the website.

Mystery at the Fair released July 15th! I’m pretty excited about it. You can buy it and my other books at: Apple, Amazon, Barnes and Noble, Kobo, or Smashwords today! If you’ve read any of my books, please drop a review on the site where you bought it. It’s a big help to me in the book rankings each vendor uses to promote their books. Thanks in advance.

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Merry-Go-Round Blog Tour: July – Mid-Year Check-In – how you’re doing on your January goals

Goal, oscarsnapshotter

Goal, oscarsnapshotter

I haven’t checked on my annual goals for awhile so this is a great chance for me to check out where I am!

1. Upgrade my blog site to a real website: I’ve been poking at this for awhile but at the end of June I went into WordPress and poked around until I figured out I needed to do a domain mapping to make everything work correctly. This $13 dollar per year fix seems to have been the final step. Yay. Up to this point I’d been double posting my posts on both the WordPress site and the GoDaddy site. Not convenient at all. I’m so happy!

2. Research the pros and cons of selling my books from my own website. If it seems good, get that page set up: Umm, nope. Nothing done on that but, to be honest, just got the website going. I still have some time before the end of the year.

3. Publish 6 books in 2015: This goal seems extremely unlikely. I’ve only just put up my 2nd book of the year, Mystery at the Fair. I might get 2 more in, if they’re collections of flashes or short stories and I hustle.

4. Participate in the April and July Camp NaNo’s and in the November NaNo: April Camp NaNo was a win. I’m in the middle of the July Camp NaNo. So far, I’m on track.

5. Produce a Christmas Book this year: Another one that will probably not happen unless I get some sort of magical inspiration and a whole lot of get up and go before November. My Mrs. Claus story, started 3 years ago now, is languishing. Something is wrong with it and I don’t know what it is but despite a good outline and liking my characters, it’s not right and I have to drag myself to it to work on it. Not a good sign.

6. Submit a story to the 2015 FM Anthology: Ah, that’s the first project for my July NaNo. It’s based on a flash story I posted a few weeks ago called Betrayal Moon. I may stick with that title for the short story or change it. It remains to be seen.

7. Complete the Holly Lisle World Building class and the How to Write A Series Expanded class: The World building class and the Series class are both on hold. The first because I’m working on the 2nd. The second because Holly has been ill and the class is on hold. So, there you have it. I’ll keep on top of them, for sure.

8. Develop a schedule of contests for short story submission process: Completed. Not submitting though. Too deep into editing and volunteer work.

9. Participate in May Story A Day: Done. I completed 9 short stories.

10. Increase speaking appearances and opportunities to sell my books: In progress. I did a book signing in March. In June I was on web radio, the January Jones show, and was interviewed for both my books and the Payson Book Festival. You can listen to my interviewhere with USA Today best-selling author D’Elen McClain. In July I’m signing at the Payson Book Festival. www.PaysonBookFestival.org. In September I’m going to my very first conference. The In’DTale conference in Palm Springs, CA. http://conniesrandomthoughts.com/where-will-i-be

11. Participate in the Payson Book Festival as an author: Scheduled.

So there you have it. Some wins, some losses, some ties. I’m happy with where I am right now. Hope to see you at one of my appearances!

The Merry-Go-Round Blog Tour is sponsored by the website Forward Motion (http://www.fmwriters.com). The tour is you, the reader, travelling the world from author’s blog to author’s blog. There are all sorts of writers at all stages in their writing career, so there’s always something new and different to enjoy. If you want to get to know the nearly twenty other writers check out the rest of the tour at http://merrygoroundtour.blogspot.com!  Up next: Jean Schara

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Flash Fiction Friday Post: Happy Birthday

Birthday, Cake, Connie Cockrell

Birthday Cake by Connie Cockrell

Daisy Rodriguez was so excited. Today was her birthday and she was now a teenager. That’s what her friends said. Thirteen, the teen part of the word was what made it official. She was the first of her friends to reach that magic mark and they were all excited about it.

Of course, her mother was throwing a party. It wasn’t a Hispanic mark, it was more American. In two years she’d reach her quinceanera, that was the big event but in the meantime, this was a major milestone in her life.

Consuela, her best friend, arrived early. Her mother was going to help with the party. No self-respecting Hispanic woman put on a simple party. There were going to be tamales, sopes, empanadas and of course, a birthday cake decorated in lilac, Daisy’s favorite color. “Oh, look at the cake!” Consuela pulled out her phone and took a picture. “Won’t the rest of the class be jealous.”

Daisy didn’t really want the rest of the class to be jealous. Her mother had limited the party to five of Daisy’s friends. “I hope not. That would be mean.”

Consuela sniffed. “I don’t care. Those gringa’s in the class think they’re so much better. My brother says everything changes in high school. In grade school we all hang together. But he said in high school everyone breaks up and just hangs with their own.”

“That seems sad.” Daisy liked the white girls. They were different with their blond hair and blue eyes and attitudes. They seemed freer than the Hispanic girls.

“Maybe so.” Consuela tucked her phone back in her pocket just as the doorbell rang. “That’s them!”

Daisy and her friend ran to the door. As soon as it was opened the squeals of greetings commenced.

At school the next week Daisy made an effort to notice how the different kids acted with each other. It was the eighth grade so there weren’t any real labs but the history teacher and the science teacher did sometimes break the room into groups of four. If allowed to pick their own groups, most of the time the whites stayed with the whites and the Hispanics and blacks with their own people. The boys mixed more than the girls. Daisy began to make an effort to team with the others. She asked Tabitha, who was black, and Amanda, who was white to join her and Consuela when the History teacher had them break into groups to study the government of their city. She had to work at it. Both Tabitha and Amanda were reluctant but Daisy was known to be very smart and they wanted a good grade so they eventually said yes.

Daisy was pleased. The four girls had always gotten along and they received an “A” on their report. So it went the rest of the year. At the graduation ceremony, there were hugs and tears all around.

In the fall, Daisy attended the high school orientation with some worry. Would she be able to continue to integrate her friends?

“No, sorry.” Tabitha shook her head when Daisy asked if she wanted to go to the library together. They were in the same Social Studies class. Tabitha glanced over her shoulder at a group of black girls she’d been walking with. Their hands were on their hips and eyes were rolling. Tabitha gave Daisy a little shrug. “I’m studying with them.”

“Maybe next time.” Daisy shifted her books to her left arm. “We were pretty awesome together last year.”

Tabitha glanced at the other friends again. “Yeah, well. Later.” She turned and rejoined the girls.

Daisy sighed. She hated to think Consuela and her brother were right. All around the quad she could see that the kids had separated by culture; black, white, Hispanic and even the Asian kids were apart.

Consuela ran up. “Hey.”

“Hey. We have to do something.” Daisy’s fingers were tapping on her books.

“About what?”

“About the separation.” Daisy swept her arm around pointing out the quad. “We’ve already separated.”

“I told you.”

“They’re taking nominations for class president. Go to the office and nominate me.”

Consuela’s eyes bugged. “No Hispanic has ever been elected to class president.”

“That’s about to change.”

Daisy ran on a platform of integration and cultural diversity. As the ninth grade hadn’t been completely indoctrinated yet, Daisy won in a close race with a white boy, Judah Shine. He became her vice president and they became best friends. They made sure every class seating was random. Every team, academic or athletic was integrated.

By the end of the year, it seemed normal to the ninth graders to be integrated. The next year, Daisy won class president again, with Judah her VP once more. They worked to keep the new ninth graders integrated. The Seniors and Juniors, however, resisted. There was harassment and name calling. Daisy and Judah implemented bullying awareness classes.

And so it went. In their senior year, Daisy was elected Student body president. Judah became the Senior Class president. They now had every class in school integrated. Other schools began using their methods. The school won national awards for their integration efforts. Daisy and Judah received acceptance letters from the best colleges in the country.

At graduation, Consuela hugged Daisy. “Thank you.”

“What for?”

“For insisting that we not break up into splinter groups. How dull that would have been.” She kissed Daisy on the cheek.

“You’re welcome. It just seemed so limiting. This is better.”

The girls joined arms to find their parents. “Yes it is.”

The End

928 Words

Find more of the Forward Motion Flash Friday Group here: http://www.fmwriters.com/flash.html

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Flash Fiction Friday Story: Gold Dreams

Australian, Gold, Nugget, NeroDesign

Australian Gold Nugget by NeroDesign via www.DeviantArt.com

Zeke Stanford pushed open the doors to the Oxbow Saloon and stopped to let his eyes adjust to the dimness. His fully packed donkey was tied to the hitching post in the mid-day Arizona sun but Zeke wanted a beer. Right now.

He left the door and walked to the bar. “Beer.”

“Just get in, Zeke?”

“Yeah, Earl. Just want to cut the dust before I go to the assay office.”

Earl put the mug of beer, foam dripping down the side, in front of the man, his eyebrow raised. Zeke picked it up and drained half of it in one swallow.

“Oh.” His eyes closed as he savored the brew. “That hits the spot.”

“You find something?”

Zeke opened his eyes to look hard at Earl. “Maybe.” He drained the rest of the beer. “See ya later.” He dropped a coin on the bar and left.

Back out in the sun he untied the donkey and pulled the lead rein. The donkey snorted and balked. “Come on, Jenny. We go to the assay office, then the livery, all right?”

The animal shook itself, dust rising from it in great clouds. Jenny snorted again then allowed itself to be lead. Zeke looked around the dirt street. There were a few men out on the porches of the Oxbow and the bar next door and the one across the street. It didn’t seem as though they were watching him any more than anything else moving in the street. Earl’s question had raised his hackles though. It didn’t happen often but claim jumpers could be anywhere and Zeke had worked too hard for him to trust anyone right now.

The assay office was just down the street. He tied Jenny to the hitching post there and went inside. There sat a man at a table, a ledger open in front of him, making an entry with a fountain pen, the gold tip glinting in the sunlight coming through the dusty window. “Howdy.” The man capped the pen and looked up expectantly.

“I have a sample for you to test.” Zeke glance out of the window, then the door behind him before he pulled a small bag from inside his leather vest.

“Well, young man.” The assay man stood up. “I’m John Markum. Let’s see what you have.”

“Zeke Stanford.” Zeke handed the man the small bag and watched as John took it to a work bench where there was a scale and glass stoppered bottles of liquids.

John hefted the bag then poured the contents onto the bowl of the scale. He added and took away weights until the scale balanced. He turned to look at Zeke. “Could be gold. The weight seems right.” He picked up the bowl of the scale and took a pinch of the contents and placed it in a glass bowl. John handed the scale bowl to Zeke. “You can pour the rest of that back into your poke.”

While Zeke did that, John selected a glass bottle from the bench and with great care, poured a little of the liquid into the glass bowl. It began to fizz, the gold specks dancing around in the few drops of liquid, a little smoke coming from the bowl.

“Is it supposed to do that?”

John grinned. “It is if you want your sample to be gold.”

Zeke finished pouring the gold from the scale into his bag. His heart was racing but he wanted to keep a clear head here. He’d seen men whoopin’ and hollerin’ about their strike. Next thing they were dead a few miles from town, their pack animals and equipment gone. Zeke eyed the assay man. “Good. You have the papers here to file a claim?”

“I do, young man. I do.” He walked to his table. Underneath was a filing cabinet. He opened the top drawer and pulled out a sheet of paper, placing it on the table top. John pushed his ledger to the side. “Have a seat son.”

Zeke pulled his bag closed and put it back into his vest pocket. At the table he sat down.

“You read, son?”

“A little.”

“Well this says that you’re filing a mining claim. You have to put down the location son, or it won’t be official.”

Zeke nodded, it made sense but he was reluctant to reveal the mine location. He picked up the fountain pen. Someday it might be my gold that makes these nibs. In the place John pointed out, Zeke wrote out the location of his mine. He signed at the bottom and sighed.

“I’ll make a copy, Zeke, and send it to the territorial capital for filing. I’ll make a copy for you, too. The original will stay here.” He held out his hand. “Congratulations, son.”

Zeke shook hands, a little light-headed. It seemed too easy after all of the digging and shoring up and cold nights.

“That’ll be twenty dollars, Zeke. And you can stay at Mrs. Entrada’s boarding house. It’s clean and not expensive. She gives you dinner along with the room.”

Zeke pulled out the coins and handed them to John. “Appreciate the recommendation, John. And I take it this business between us is private?”

“Aye. I wouldn’t be in business long if I told everything I know.”

They shook hands again. “Thanks, John.”

Zeke left the office and pulled Jenny along the street. He wanted a bath and a good dinner. Zeke thought about all the things he could do with the gold. A nice house for his Ma. Ranch hands for his Pa. Who knew, maybe he’d ask Mary Younger for her hand. He’d love to see her in a fancy house and pretty dresses. Yep, that was something to look forward to in his gold dream.

 

The End

963 Words

Find more of the Forward Motion Flash Friday Group here: http://www.fmwriters.com/flash.html

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Monday Blog Post: July Starts with a Bang!

Mayor Evans, Connie Cockrell, Payson Book Festival Day Proclamation. Photo, Marie Fasano

Mayor Evans and Connie Cockrell with the Payson Book Festival Day Proclamation. Photo by Marie Fasano

On July 2nd, as the Chair for the Payson Book Fesitval, I received a Proclamation from the Town of Payson Mayor, Kenny Evans. The proclamation declares July 25th, the day of our book festival to be Payson Book Festival Day! You can see me and the Mayor in the above picture, shaking hands.

There’s only 19 more days until the festival and we’re hot and heavy into the marketing part of the event. Our Media committee member, Marie Fasano, has sent small articles to all of the major magazines in Arizona for their Calendar sections. She’s set up all of these interviews on radio and TV I’ve been posting about and she’s sent articles about our participating authors to their hometown newspapers to run. Marie has been doing a fantastic job. I hope you can make it to Payson on July 25th, 9am – 4pm, and stop by the festival to say hello!

If you missed any of the interviews or media releases or want to read the proclamation, click here to find everything.

It having been the 4th of July weekend I feel obligated to share that hubby and I went to a friend’s house and watched the fireworks from there. One of hubby’s pictures of the show is below. Our town does a great 4th of July festival in Green Valley park: children’s games and contests, food vendors, live music and then, a thirty-minute fireworks display.

Payson, Fireworks, Randy Cockrell

Payson Fireworks by Randy Cockrell

I’m still working on my Mystery at the Fair edits. After that will be the CreateSpace and Smashwords formatting and the release. I’m still shooting for the end of this week to finish the edits and then spend next weekend formatting and releasing. Cross your fingers for me, every one.

July is also a Camp NaNo month. As of today I have over 10,000 words. I completed the first draft of my short story for the Forward Motion anthology. Now I’m working on the second Jean Hays series book, Mystery in the Woods. When will it be out, you ask? No idea. I have two other books, that I wrote in April, waiting for editing. Maybe you can tell I’m not as enthusiastic about the editing and rewriting part as I am about writing the first draft.

My tomatoes have finally begun a serious growth spurt. I put the trellis for them up a few days ago and already they’re growing through the loops. The Sungold cherry tomato has tomatoes on it but still green. The rest of the plants are blossoming. Two of the six plants were volunteers that I dug up and put in the tomato bed. I can’t wait to see what they are!

Thanks for stopping by my blog today.

If you’re interested, click here to sign up for my newsletter. I make special offers to my newsletter people that I do not make on the website.

Lost Rainbows released January 25th! I’m pretty excited about it. You can buy it and my other books at: Apple, Amazon, Barnes and Noble, Kobo, or Smashwords today! If you’ve read any of my books, please drop a review on the site where you bought it. It’s a big help to me in the book rankings each vendor uses to promote their books. Thanks in advance.

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Flash Fiction Friday Story: 4th of July

Fireworks, 4th of July, Randy Cockrell

Fireworks by Randy Cockrell

“OK, people, listen up!”

We were in the cafeteria. The troopers all left off their conversations and turned to the front of the room. Unwashed, wearing rags, they broke my heart these young men and women were so brave. I swallowed the lump that wanted to form in my throat and sniffed back incipient tears of pride.

“We’re as ready as we’re going to get. Everything is coordinated all up and down the eastern seaboard. We strike tonight at 10pm.”

The troopers broke into cheers. They deserved a little celebration. I smiled and nodded and let them cheer. Many of my troopers were orphans, separated from parents when the aliens invaded. They’d been gathered up by what were left of the adult survivors and hidden, fed, clothed, educated as best we could in the twenty years since the invasion. Now we were ready to strike back.

I held up my hands. “Who knows what today is?”

“Wednesday!” Jay Gonzales was my comedian, always had a smart remark. The room erupted in laughter.

“Good one, Jay.” I looked around. “Anyone else?”

“July 4th.” Kim Deming was the cool one and one of my oldest. She was six when we found her hidden in the basement of a bombed out house, a piece of rebar in her hands ready to defend her 4-year-old sister. I understood. At the time I was fifteen and had only just been found myself.

“Correct. Significance?”

“It’s the holiday commemorating the founding of the United States. Our independence from another country’s rule.”

The room had quieted at her calm, steady answer. Her gray eyes burned with intensity. She was driven and the rest of the troopers respected her for it. “Right. And tonight, we do it again.”

“Freedom!” Kim leapt to her feet, fist raised.

“Freedom!” The rest of the troopers did the same. I joined in.

“Freedom! Freedom! Freedom!”

#

It took us five hours to get into place. The aliens didn’t spread out, they lived in enclaves, walled and secured. Their nasty crops grew around their city, circles of peace and prosperity in a land still littered with the blasted human cities and towns and farms they’d destroyed. Sure, they were slowly clearing the ruins, but only so their enclaves could expand. I’d watched over the years. Their cities grew like snails, ever circling outward. Clear the blasted areas, create farm land, inch the city out another circle. They were efficient, I’ll give them that.

Tonight the moon rise wasn’t until after midnight so it was dark. All the better for us. Camouflage was the toughest. They had heat detectors that helped kill off a good number of us before we figured out how to hide. The plan was simple. It had to be given our deprived state.

Weapons had been slowly gathered over the years. Assault rifles, ammunition, mortars, high explosives and in some cases, we even had nukes. That wasn’t my troop though. The enclave we were assigned was too small to require nukes. We did have a few HE weapons though that would blow holes in the walls. After that, we were going to have to go in and duke it out.

My hands were sweaty on my rifle. I was 35 and arthritis was kicking in. The medic said it was from living in the cold and damp all these years. Nothing could be done about it. I nodded and left the tiny clinic. As I waited for the signal I thought about what life would have been like if the aliens hadn’t come. I would have gone to college, I think, gotten married, had a kid or two. I swallowed. None of that was mine now. It was enough I had my troopers, fifty of them, as good as having my own.

We all waited in the damp as the minutes ticked with excruciating slowness. Waiting was always the hardest. A low whump and the ground rumbling told me it was time. Fifty miles away another group had just nuked the alien military garrison. An ugly purple glow blotted out the stars.

We charged forward from our hiding spots in the crop land. Kim had one of the HE weapons. She was in front of the gate and firing before the aliens could react. Almost before the smoke cleared and the debris stopped falling she and her squad were running into the breach. My troopers were screaming as the night sky erupted in flashes of gunfire and explosions. No wonder fireworks were used to celebrate when I was a kid. I pushed that thought aside as I led my squad into the enclave behind Kim’s.

It was brutal. The enemy had night patrols inside the enclave but they’d responded too late. My troopers went nest to nest and killed every alien they could find. After years of hiding, they knew all the right spots to look.

By daybreak the enclave was a ruin, alien bodies, adult and young, lying in the streets and buildings. We had planned for outside alien retaliation but it seemed our coordinated attack prevented that. I called my reserves in to help our wounded out of the town. Those still whole, I sent to gather up whatever tech and weapons they could carry. As we retreated back to our hiding places I had a team burn the enclave and those damn alien crops.

Now we had to wait. Aliens were planet wide. They weren’t going to like what we’d just accomplished. Too bad. We were all headed for the mid-west where we were planning to do the same thing all over again. With luck other humans would be encouraged and do the same. We just might get our planet back. Happy 4th of July!

The End

957 Words

Find more of the Forward Motion Flash Friday Group here: http://www.fmwriters.com/flash.html

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Monday Blog Post: Spotlight on Selena Laurance’s New Book: Lush Reunion

Book, Release, a lush reunion, Selena Laurencea lush reunion by Selena Laurence

Every once in awhile I like to point out a friend’s new release. Today is release day for Best Selling Author, Selena Laurence’s newest book, Lush Reunion. I received this contemporary romance book as an ARC, a sample copy. The final book in the Lush series ties up the saga with a gigantic bow.

This story revolves around Colin, bass player for the band, Lush, and his long, lost high-school sweetheart, Marsha. The opening prologue sets the scene perfectly and introduces us to Marsha Lynn, Colin’s lost love. After that, the love, the hurt, and the pain ebb and flow in a way that Ms. Laurence has mastered. Sparks fly and tears flow in a fast paced book that I defy you to put down.

There were a number of twists and turns, that to be honest, I never saw coming. If you’re looking for your next beach read, this is the story for you. All of the characters were as real as the people in my own life. Grab this book as soon as you can.

On June 23rd I was happy to be interviewed by January Jones on her web radio broadcast. Talk4 Media,  Talk4Media.com , w4cy.com/radio-shows/january-jones-sharing-success-stories/  This is a first for me and I’m very excited about it. We talked about my books but also about the Payson Book Festival scheduled for July 25th. I was on the show at 5pm Eastern time and 2pm Arizona time. Here’s the list of who else was interviewed.

Connie Cockrell– Her books, The Gulliver Station Series, and more run the gamut from SciFi and Fantasy to Contemporary.

D’Elen McClain- Under her pen name, Holly S. Roberts, she is the USA Today Best-Selling author and writes “romance with wicked intentions.”

Then at 6pm Florida time and 3pm Arizona time, three more authors were interviewed.

Steven Andrew Cole– enjoys leading his readers down dark alleys, through crawl spaces and anywhere they dare not to venture with thrillers

Sherry Engler– reveals the unusual, quirky behaviors a LEO (Law Enforcement Officer) may display

Annemarie Eveland writes about challenges in life and the insights gained from them.

If you missed them go here to get the links.

It’s 26 days until the first ever Payson Book Festival. www.PaysonBookFestival.org. We’ve organized several radio interviews with festival authors. Check out the web site or our Facebook page (Payson Book Festival) or our Twitter feed at @PaysonBookFest for information about the next interview. At the Festival we’ll have authors speaking, authors signing their books, music, live radio broadcast, entertainment, workshops and food. Make plans now to come up to Rim Country and enjoy the festival.

Mystery at the Fair edits are in their final rounds. All that’s about left is to do the book formatting for both print and e-book. I’m still shooting for an early July release.

Squash, Melon, Garden, Connie Cockrell

Squash and Melon by Connie Cockrell

In the garden I have acquired zucchini and yellow squash and planted butternut squash and Swiss Chard. Saturday the butternut squash poked its first leaves up. The Swiss Chard still must be thinking about it. The plant next to the butternut squash is a self-seeding melon. It produces little, one-person cantaloupes. It seems to be doing very well, yay!

Thanks for stopping by my blog today.

If you’re interested, click here to sign up for my newsletter. I make special offers to my newsletter people that I do not make on the website.

Lost Rainbows released January 25th! I’m pretty excited about it. You can buy it and my other books at: Apple, Amazon, Barnes and Noble, Kobo, or Smashwords today! If you’ve read any of my books, please drop a review on the site where you bought it. It’s a big help to me in the book rankings each vendor uses to promote their books. Thanks in advance.

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Flash Fiction Friday Story: Radio Waves

Amateur Radio, 2011, Field Day, Azgard2274

Amateur Radio 2011 Field Day by Azgard2274 via www.DeviantArt.com

Trapped in the radio. Not the actual device, but the ether, the sound, the waves that carry the message. Lois had been pinging around the world for the last twenty years. She wanted to reform but how?

After she’d been transformed, she tried talking to people. There were more radios then. She could talk to the listeners, overwhelming whatever signal they’d been listening to. All she managed to do was scare the crap out of them. They couldn’t talk back, most radios are receive only.

Ham radio was best. She could hold a conversation with a ham operator but they always thought it was a joke from some buddy. Joke or not, some operators talked with her about how to reform. Waves seemed to be the most likely theory. How to turn her radio wave form into the physical matter wave form? No one had an answer.

“How’d that happen?” was the first question they would ask.

“I was a web radio presenter, working out of my home. My producer worked out of his home four states away. I was in the middle of my show, interviewing an author about her just released book, and, I don’t know. I guess I was really into the conversation. At the end I went to click off but I couldn’t. I wasn’t there any longer.”

“You didn’t notice? You could still see, right?”

“I can still see. I can see you.” That always freaked them out. Every one of them would spin around in their chair and scan the room.

Once they calmed down, brushing the comment off as part of the joke, they’d ask, “Doesn’t your signal die out? Usual radio signals are fairly short range.”

“I guess not. Maybe because I was a human, not an actual radio wave.”

“Have you tried to turn into some other wave, like a microwave or a light wave?”

“I have. Microwave towers are everywhere. I’ve also tried becoming an electron because they are both particle and wave, but I just couldn’t do it.”

Then they go back to my question, “Just exactly did you become a radio wave. Was there a bomb or something?”

“No.” If I had a head I’d shake it. “I suppose I thought myself into this state, I was so involved in the interview.”

This is about the time the majority of operators would get bored with the conversation. They’d get up to go get a beer or go to bed and I would drift away. A rare few would stay and we would talk about how thoughts are things and trying to think myself back to my human form.

I wonder if I talked to a psychologist or physiatrist if they could help me. But in all these years I’ve never been able to reach one to talk to. So, here I drift with less and less human contact because technology and society have changed. There are fewer and fewer receivers or Ham operators. I have found a radio telescope. I’ve been studying its transmissions. It has occurred to me I could hitch a ride out to space. I could be an astronaut, of sorts. I’ve always wanted to be an astronaut.

Today is the day. I’m telling this story and sending out into the ether. Maybe a few Ham operators will hear it. The telescope is powering up, I can feel it hum as I balance myself at the apex of the transmitter.

Goodbye.

 

The End

576 Words

Find more of the Forward Motion Flash Friday Group here: http://www.fmwriters.com/flash.html

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