Monsoon Season Starts: Monday Blog Post

Our Wall Art Painted by Randy Cockrell

Our Wall Art Painted by Randy Cockrell

Newest News:

Hubby has painted the inside stucco wall to match the stone and is finishing an art project to paint Arizona-themed pictures on there. Picture is above. What do you think? The hands in the picture are ours. His on the left, mine on the right.

I mentioned that I was helping author friends with covers and books. The first friend, Bonnie Bahn, now has her newest book out: Bumblefoot. Yay! We got it done! The second friend, Carole Emma Mathewson is releasing her book World War II: On the Home Front. We’re still building the cover but should have it out soon.

I’m deciding on cover designers for my Zoe Ohale book. It’s a process. I’ll do a cover release when I get it done.

Did you all try the new online magazine, www.ArizonaRimCountryOutdoors.com? They talk about all the great things to do here in Rim Country AND they have pages with local art, stories, and more. Check out their site. I have a story up there now.

Giveaways:

Summer Giveaway

The Red Hot Summer is now open. Just click on the Rafflecopter link. You do have to sign up to Rafflecopter but after that, you’re free to click away. I have links to it on my facebook, twitter, and website pages. This giveaway I offer a free ebook, Mystery at the Fair, or for second prize, a $10 Amazon card. Over a hundred prizes from over 50 authors plus a grand prize. It’s not hard to enter and there are multiple ways to enter. You could easily win a prize. If you haven’t entered yet, please enter today and every day.

Shout Out:

Last week I talked about the wonderful L. H. Whitlock. I’m very happy she agreed to be interviewed. Check out her author page on Amazon at http://www.amazon.com/-/e/B01F4IG8VW.

Last week I think I’ll mention the hot and spicy Holly Roberts. You can find her on www.wickedstorytelling.com. I know for a fact that she’ll be releasing another book soon. Don’t miss it.

Garden News:

Green Peppers

Green Peppers

We had our first monsoon rain of the year Saturday afternoon. The black clouds creep in from the north over the Mogollon rim and thunder growls in the distance. The humidity skyrockets and the wind picks up. Then the rain hammers down for a few minutes. The sky clears, the sun comes out and the wind dies down. Everything gets a drink. How’s your garden doing?

Where Will I Be?:

Book Festival flier 2016 FINAL Front Pg

July 23rd is the Payson Book Festival, partly funded by the Arizona Humanities. I’ll be at my table all day, ready to talk to YOU! I hope you can make it as we will have over 70 authors attending as well as music, food, author presentations and workshops. It will be stupendous! www.paysonbookfestival.org and click on the Meet the Authors tab. Check us out on Twitter: @PaysonBookFest, and Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/PaysonBookFestival/.

9th annual Fall Festival in Pine, AZ. October 8th and 9th. http://pinestrawberrybusinesscommunityaz.com/fallapple.html. I’ll be there all weekend as part of the local author book signing. My hubby will be there as part of the chili cook-off at noon on Saturday. There are also crafters and a very excellent antique show scheduled, not to mention music and food!

Want more details about these events? Click here for more information.

Newsletter Sign Up:

Click here to sign up for my newsletter. I’ve put sign-up prizes on both the regular and the Brown Rain newsletter sign-ups. That’s right. If you sign up for my newsletter you get a free story from me. Be prepared for fun and contests! Click on the video link for a short video from me. Hear what I’m working on. Join my “A” Team! I’d love to see you there.

Newest Book Release:

Zoe Ohale is out for editing. If you’re a Brown Rain Series fan, I think you’ll like Zoe Ohale. You may remember a short story I published on my blog on 8/20/15, Extra Baggage. That was the second story about Zoe. The first, Betrayal Moon, is in the Forward Motion anthology, due out in the next couple of weeks. Just 17, Zoe has been an orphan living on the streets of Baia Mare since she was 12. Street smart and fiercely independent, Zoe has been offered the chance to move back into legal society by the police officer that arrested her a few months ago. But first, she has to help protect the little kids in her group, help her friend save her father from assassination, and find a criminal ring that just stole all of the physical credits being delivered to the Planetary Bank of Baia Mare. The book, the first of a series, should be out in August, if I can find time to work on it between the Book Festival and the Fair.

Kindred Spirits released on March 14th! I’m pretty excited about it. You can buy it and my other books at: Apple, Amazon, Barnes and Noble, Kobo, Smashwords, Gumroads  or Chatebooks today! You can also see all of my books on www.ConniesRandomThoughts.com. If you’ve read any of my books, please drop a review on the site where you bought it or on Goodreads. 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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Unexpected Guests Part 1: Flash Fiction Friday

The Arrastra by Jay Richmond

The Arrastra by Jay Richmond

http://www.panoramio.com/photo_explorer#view=photo&position=195&with_photo_id=27388762&order=date_desc&user=321523 by Jay

A while back I posted a story, Ambush (http://wp.me/p6LAko-GA), about Zeke and his gold mining adventure. This story takes place shortly after Ambush.

Part I

Zeke was hardly any better than the horse. Jumping at every sound, distracted by any leaf blown across his path, he hardly blamed the horse. The Apache had left, as far as he could tell. That left him with the worry about the Indians coming back, but more so about the gold he was finally getting out of the ground. For such an out in the middle of nowhere spot, there seemed to be a lot of people around.

The ore he was having the donkey and horse crush generally came out of the quartz in fair sized nuggets that could be easily handled. Once he had the arrastra cleaned out, the quartz tossed to the side, he swept the hard floor for the gold dust. Tinning, the man told him the process was called. This was new for him and he only had an old miner’s word that it would work.

On his last trip into town, he acquired two items, potatoes and mercury. Mr. Burell, the grocery owner, cautioned him on the shining silver in the three bottles he bought. “It’s dangerous stuff, mercury, son. They used to use this in making hats. It’s poisonous, and the old saw, mad as a hatter, came from the worker’s exposure to it. Don’t get it on your hands or skin, if you can help it.”

He pulled one of the vials he’d purchased out of his pocket and poured a few drops of the silver toxin into the pan, rubbing it all around the inside. Then he panned the dust, separating the dirt from the gold. The gold stuck to the mercury, leaving little nuggets and put the pan to dry while he prepared the next step.

Now, next to the campfire, Zeke cut one of his potatoes in half. He scraped the amalgam of gold and mercury into the hollowed out potato and wired it back together. He tossed the potato into the fire. “Wait until that tater is black as sin,” the old-timer told him. Zeke took a deep breath. This was going to take a while. He got up and fetched Butter’s harness. If he wasn’t digging, he could at least fix her harness while he waited.

He was just finishing his repair when he heard horses. Laying the harness to the side, he picked up his rifle. After the Apache attack, always at hand. Butter and the donkey’s head rose and the animals looked toward the noise.

Three men rode into camp, dusty and bearded. Zeke’s stomach clenched. He didn’t want any trouble. “Hello, the camp!” The center man called out. “You mind if we rest a bit, get some water from the stream?”

Zeke wanted to tell them to move along but that was just rude. “Water ain’t mine. Take what you need.”

The men tied their horses to Zeke’s picket line and walked over to the fire. Zeke could see them eyeing the little arrastra he’d built. They know what I’m doing. Will they move along?

“I’m Dan’l Thomas. Appreciate the kindness.” He pointed at the man to his left. “My brother Earl, and this here’s, Nate.” The three men squatted down around the fire. They eyed the rifle still in Zeke’s hands.

“Had much trouble?” Daniel asked.

“Some Apache not long ago.” Zeke nodded. “I ran them off.”

Earl spat to the side. “Kill any?”

“No bodies left behind, so probably not. I know I hit at least one. There was blood.”

Nate rubbed his beard. “I don’t know why the Army doesn’t kill them all.”

Zeke nodded out of politeness. He didn’t care as long as the Indians didn’t bother him. It was their home first, after all. “Travelin’ far?” He hoped they’d get the hint to move along.

Daniel chuckled. “We’re takin’ it slow. Heard there was gold around here. Looks like you found some.”

“Not much,” Zeke said. “I’m about to move on. Last haul was barely enough for supplies and a beer.” His hands were sweaty on the rifle.

“That’s too bad.” Daniel looked around Zeke’s camp. “Nice little set up.”

“Yeah. But like I said, not much return. I heard there was big gold in California.”

Daniel nodded as he pulled a wrapper of tobacco from his inner coat pocket. He offered the packet to Zeke. “Chaw?”

“No, thank you. Never picked up the habit.”

Daniel pulled some tobacco from the packet and passed it to his brother. “Probably best. Nasty habit.” He stood up. “So you won’t mind if we set up camp for the night.”

Zeke’s heart sank. “Suit yourself. There’s a flat spot over there,” he pointed a hundred feet away. “Mind the rocks. The whole country is nothin’ but sharp rock.”

The others stood. Daniel tipped his hat. “Much obliged.”

They walked to their horses and led them to the spot Zeke had pointed out. Not good. I’ll have to watch all night.

End of Part 1, next week, Part II.

 

Thank You!

856 Words

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

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Author Interviews: L. H. Whitlock

Bailey Lyndsay Author Pic

Today’s author is L. H. Whitlock, a SciFi author. Here’s a little bit about her.

L. H. Whitlock began her writing adventure when she moved to Colorado with her husband. She has always loved stories and has been an avid reader for most of her life. Her fascination with science and astronomy started in school and only grew as the years went on. Most of her inspiration comes from day to day interactions as well as movies, game’s and articles. When not writing, Whitlock is playing with her two dogs, Skip and Peaches, or running and kick boxing at the gym.

Matched

So now that we know a little about you, let’s talk!

1. Let’s start with something fun. What’s your favorite hobby?

Besides writing, my favorite hobby is kick boxing or taking my pups to the park.

 

2. If you had the opportunity—who would you like to spend an afternoon with and why?

One of my favorite authors is Christine Feehan. I would love a chance to chat with her and pick her brain.

 

3. Coffee, tea, soda or something else?

I love my coffee, especially a vanilla latte.

 

4. What are you working on right now?

I’m currently working on polishing up my next release, the first book in The Miners of Zalma series. It’s due to be released at the end of June/ early July.

 

5. How would you describe your writing style?

I mix lots of action with some spicy romance. I also like throwing in a few twists to keep readers on their toes.

 

6. Do you have any advice for a person just beginning their writing career?

My advice is to keep writing. It can be hard to keep pushing forward and learn, especially if you run into a harsh critique. So, no matter how hard it is, or how terrible someone makes you feel, keep writing. Critique groups also helped me learn a lot about writing and push me to keep coming out with new stuff.

 

7. Do you immerse yourself in new situations for writing ideas or do your ideas come to you through your normal, day-to-day life?

Most of my ideas come from documentaries, science articles or places on earth. I am always reading for inspiration.

 

8. Where can we find you on the interwebs?

I am on facebook: https://www.facebook.com/LHWhitlock/ and on amazon.com: http://www.amazon.com/-/e/B01F4IG8VW

Thank you, L.H. for a lovely chat.

Readers, to find more L. H. Whitlock, please visit her pages.

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Hot Stuff: Monday Blog Post

Patio019

Newest News:

It’s been a crazy week at the Cockrell house. The new patio has been constructed and over the last couple of days, hubby has painted the inside stucco wall to match the stone and is considering an art project to paint Arizona-themed pictures on there. Should be interesting. I’ll take pictures.

I’ve also been working on one author friend’s cover and another author friend’s formatting. Neither is quick to do but both of them want their books for the upcoming Payson Book Festival so I’m going as fast as I can to make it all happen.

My book, Zoe Ohale, is now with the editor. I won’t get it back until mid-July. I’m looking at cover designers because I just can’t do the cover myself this time.

Speaking of covers, my Mystery at the Fair cover has gone live on Amazon. I love the new look, don’t you? http://www.amazon.com/Connie-Cockrell/e/B009O6199C.

I’m also going to promote a new online magazine, www.ArizonaRimCountryOutdoors.com. They talk about all the great things to do here in Rim Country AND they have pages with local art, stories, and more. Check out their site. I have a story up there now.

Giveaways:

The Spring Into Reading giveaway closes TODAY. I have links to it on my facebook, twitter, and website pages. This giveaway I offer a free ebook, First Encounter, or for second prize, a $5 Amazon card. There are other prizes as well. Over a hundred prizes plus a grand prize. It’s not hard to enter and there are multiple ways to enter. You could easily win a prize. If you haven’t entered yet, please enter today and every day.

Shout Out:

Author L. H. Whitlock

Author L. H. Whitlock

The Author Interview segment this week is the wonderful L. H. Whitlock. I’m very happy she agreed to be interviewed. She’s a fellow science fiction author and has her series, Galactic Battle, in progress. I think you’re going to like her work. Can’t wait till Wednesday? Check out her author page on Amazon at  http://www.amazon.com/-/e/B01F4IG8VW.

Garden News:

The recent heat has made everything in the garden start growing like crazy. I put the string trellis up on the bean bed so they have somewhere to grow up. The butternut squash is still a no show. I suspect the squirrel. I’ll try and plant again. The Swiss Chard has finally popped up and if the squirrel will leave it alone, I should have a nice little patch that will keep us in fresh chard the rest of the summer. The two tiny zucchini were not ready to pick on Saturday. Disappointing but I’ll get over it. How’s your garden doing?

Where Will I Be?:

BookFest Ad 061016July 23rd is the Payson Book Festival, partly funded by the Arizona Humanities. I’ll be at my table all day, ready to talk to YOU! I hope you can make it as we will have over 70 authors attending as well as music, food, author presentations and workshops. It will be stupendous! www.paysonbookfestival.org and click on the Meet the Authors tab. Check us out on Twitter: @PaysonBookFest, and Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/PaysonBookFestival/.

9th annual Fall Festival in Pine, AZ. October 8th and 9th. http://pinestrawberrybusinesscommunityaz.com/fallapple.html. I’ll be there all weekend as part of the local author book signing. My hubby will be there as part of the chili cook-off at noon on Saturday. There are also crafters and a very excellent antique show scheduled, not to mention music and food!

Want more details about these events? Click here for more information.

Newsletter Sign Up:

Click here to sign up for my newsletter. I’ve put sign-up prizes on both the regular and the Brown Rain newsletter sign-ups. That’s right. If you sign up for my newsletter you get a free story from me. Be prepared for fun and contests! Click on the video link for a short video from me. Hear what I’m working on. Join my “A” Team! I’d love to see you there.

Newest Book Release:

I’m in the middle of the Zoe Ohale editing. If you’re a Brown Rain Series fan, I think you’ll like Zoe Ohale. You may remember a short story I published on my blog on 8/20/15, Extra Baggage. That was the second story about Zoe. The first, Betrayal Moon, is in the Forward Motion anthology, due out in the next couple of weeks. Just 17, Zoe has been an orphan living on the streets of Baia Mare since she was 12. Street smart and fiercely independent, Zoe has been offered the chance to move back into legal society by the police officer that arrested her a few months ago. But first, she has to help protect the little kids in her group, help her friend save her father from assassination, and find a criminal ring that just stole all of the physical credits being delivered to the Planetary Bank of Baia Mare. The book, the first of a series, should be out in August, if I can find time to work on it between the Book Festival and the Fair.

Kindred Spirits released on March 14th! I’m pretty excited about it. You can buy it and my other books at: Apple, Amazon, Barnes and Noble, Kobo, Smashwords, Gumroads  or Chatebooks today! You can also see all of my books on www.ConniesRandomThoughts.com. If you’ve read any of my books, please drop a review on the site where you bought it or on Goodreads. 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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Interrupted: A Flash Friday Story

Dragon by BloodyBarbarian - d3jp97t

Dragon by BloodyBarbarian – d3jp97t via DeviantArt.com

“What can I get for ya this morning?” The woman behind the grocery store bakery counter smiled at the father and his pre-teen daughter.

I went back to my book, sipping the remains of my iced tea. Lunch was nearly over and I wanted to finish the chapter before I had to go back to the office.

With a mighty flap, Tasha lifted from the mountaintop, her flight of dragons taking off behind her. It’s long past time for the encroaching humans to understand whose world this is. If they’d been smart, they would have gotten back on their ships when they realized Tork was inhabited.With a mighty flap, Tasha lifted from the mountaintop, her flight of dragons taking off behind her.

Colony leader China Buck stood in the command center where Colonel Mark Starr glared at the screens.

“Dragon flight at coordinates 15.16.12W, 102.14.65S, Colonel.”

China watched a blip on the central screen. The dragons were headed straight for the colony. Her efforts at peace now waste.

“Prepare drones.” Mark snapped the order.

The tension in the command center felt as though China was standing next to a blazing fire. Her skin felt drawn and crinkled.

“Drones ready…”

“Hey! Whatcha readin’?”

Jerked from the middle of a battle scene I looked up. Blinking. “A sci-fi story.” I looked back at the book trying to find my place. Maybe he’d take the hint.

“I didn’t know girls read Sci-Fi. I’m not much of a reader myself.”

He sat down across the table from me. Really? I glanced at my watch. Ten minutes left before I had to leave. “Women do, too.” I narrowed my eyes at him. My lunch time spoiled again.

“You come here often?” He popped the little drinking tab on his coffee and slurped.

“This is my lunch hour. I like the deli sandwiches here.” I resolved never to come back here for lunch. At least twice a week some guy feels free to interrupt while I’m trying to read.

“Oh yeah? I’ll have to give it a try. Pretty early for lunch, though. It’s only twenty to twelve.”

If I hadn’t been so annoyed by his interruption I might consider talking to him. He had nice eyes. But doesn’t read? Uh, no. “Yeah, well, I come in early.”

“Where you work?” He sipped his coffee again.

Didn’t he have to be at work? “Nearby.” I looked at his coffee cup. “You’re taking a late coffee break.” I put my bookmark at my page and closed the book. It was obvious I wasn’t going to get any more reading done.

“I’m in sales. I take a break whenever I can.”

I made a show of looking at my watch. “Time for me to go.” I dropped the book in my tote and gathered the paper cup and sandwich wrappings.

“Maybe I’ll see you around.”

Not likely if I can help it. “Uh, yeah. Maybe.”

I dumped the trash in the nearby can and left. Maybe I can sneak a few minutes at my desk and finish the chapter before clocking in.

 

Thank You!

498 Words

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

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Mid-June Madness: Monday Blog Post

Roses by Randy Cockrell

Roses by Randy Cockrell

I cannot believe it’s the middle of June already. So many things I wanted to get done by now and I’m not even close. One of those things is that I’m re-working the cover to Mystery at the Fair. Actually, a friend of mine did the work, gave me the elements, and now I can create covers for the next two in the series that maintain the same look and feel. Many thanks to D’Elen McClain. (www.wickedstorytelling.com) What a friend! Anyway, I have the cover changed on Smashwords.  https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/564549 Check it out. Do you like this cover better than the Arizona yellow-orange one? https://www.amazon.com/Mystery-Fair-Jean-Hays-Book-ebook/dp/B011P3POYW Drop me a line and let me know.

Giveaways:

SpringIntoReadingGiveawayPromo

The Spring Into Reading giveaway closes in about 5 days. I have links to it on my facebook, twitter, and website pages. This giveaway I offer a free ebook, First Encounter, or for second prize, a $5 Amazon card. There are other prizes as well. Over a hundred prizes plus a grand prize. It’s not hard to enter and there are multiple ways to enter. You could easily win a prize. If you haven’t entered yet, please enter today and every day.

Shout Out:

I met some great authors at last week’s MysteryCon. I’d like to share two! One is Cathy Ann Rogers http://www.cathyannrogers.com/. One of the organizers of the event, Cathy’s newest release is Sick in Shadows at https://www.amazon.com/Sick-Shadows-Cathy-Ann-Rogers-ebook/dp/B012YMXEDQ The other organizer is Kris Tualla. http://www.kristualla.com/ Kris’s mysteries cover several series and her tag line: Norway is the new Scotland! Check out her series, The Discreet Gentleman, at  https://www.amazon.com/Discreet-Gentleman-Discovery-Kris-Tualla-ebook/dp/B007K1KPUC.

Garden News:

Bean Sprouts by Randy Cockrell

Bean Sprouts by Randy Cockrell

I mentioned last week that a squirrel or chipmunk got at my hot peppers. One has been repeatedly attacked and is now dead. The one next to it is still hanging on. Cross your fingers, everyone, that it will survive.

Zucchini by Randy Cockrell

Zucchini by Randy Cockrell

The beans (pole string and yellow beans) I planted last week are all popping up. I have to string up the netting for them to grow up. The butternut squash and Swiss Chard are no show’s so far but I’m not sure if that squirrel isn’t eating the seed. I know for sure it’s digging where I planted the squash. Bad squirrel. The zucchini has recovered from it’s transplant shock and I have blossoms and two tine zucchini. I’ll be picking them by Saturday I think. My brother-in-law gave me a luffa. I need to peel the shell off and shake out the seeds. I’m going to plant it right in the garden and cross my fingers. I’ve tried planting them in pots here but they never even flower. Let’s try a new way. How’s your garden doing?

Where Will I Be?:

BookFest Ad 061016

July 23rd is the Payson Book Festival, partly funded by the Arizona Humanities. I’ll be at my table all day, ready to talk to YOU! I hope you can make it as we will have over 70 authors attending as well as music, food, author presentations and workshops. It will be stupendous! www.paysonbookfestival.org and click on the Meet the Authors tab. Check us out on Twitter: @PaysonBookFest, and Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/PaysonBookFestival/.

9th annual Fall Festival in Pine, AZ. October 8th and 9th. http://pinestrawberrybusinesscommunityaz.com/fallapple.html. I’ll be there all weekend as part of the local author book signing. My hubby will be there as part of the chili cook-off at noon. There are also crafters and a very excellent antique show scheduled, not to mention musing and food!

Want more details about these events? Click here for more information.

Newsletter Sign Up:

Click here to sign up for my newsletter. I’ve put sign-up prizes on both the regular and the Brown Rain newsletter sign-ups. That’s right. If you sign up for my newsletter you get a free story from me. Be prepared for fun and contests! Click on the video link for a short video from me. Hear what I’m working on. Join my “A” Team! I’d love to see you there.

Newest Book Release:

I’m in the middle of the Zoe Ohale re-write. If you’re a Brown Rain Series fan, I think you’ll like Zoe Ohale. You may remember a short story I published on my blog on 8/20/15, Extra Baggage. That was the second story about Zoe. The first, Betrayal Moon, is in the Forward Motion anthology, due out later this year. Just 17, Zoe has been an orphan living on the streets of Baia Mare since she was 12. Street smart and fiercely independent, Zoe has been offered the chance to move back into legal society by the police officer that arrested her a few months ago. But first, she has to help protect the little kids in her group, help her friend save her father from assassination, and find a criminal ring that just stole all of the physical credits being delivered to the Planetary Bank of Baia Mare. The book, the first of a series, should be out in August, if I can find time to work on it between the Book Festival and the Fair.

Kindred Spirits released on March 14th! I’m pretty excited about it. You can buy it and my other books at: Apple, Amazon, Barnes and Noble, Kobo, Smashwords, Gumroads  or Chatebooks today! You can also see all of my books on www.ConniesRandomThoughts.com. If you’ve read any of my books, please drop a review on the site where you bought it or on Goodreads. 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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The Map: Friday Flash Fiction Post

Stream

Stream

Ten-year-old Evette sat on the steps of her grandparent’s farmhouse front porch. Her brother, twelve-year-old Sam, and her twin cousins, Brian and Barry, same age as Sam, were playing in the tree-house nestled in the branches of the maple at the left side of the house. Its mate stood sentinel on the other side of the house, shading the walk from the driveway to the porch.

She’d been told in no uncertain terms that as a girl, she was not allowed in their club. Evette sighed. Their parents and grandparents were out back on the deck, having beers and talking non-stop about boring stuff. There had been nothing to do all day, all alone.

Last night she’d heard her Grandmother say that she wanted to start cleaning out the attic while she was still spry enough to do it. Grandfather Bob shushed her. “It’s a hundred eleven in the attic this time of year, Claudette. Leave it till fall when it’s cooler.”

Grandma had agreed and the after dinner conversation turned to other things. This morning while the boys had run out to the barn to dare each other to jump from the hay loft into the pile below, she had crept up to the attic to see what treasures might be up there. It was creepy and even at nine in the morning, already so hot the sweat began to trickle down her temples as soon as she managed to get in the stuck attic door.

Evette sneezed. A thick layer of dust covered everything. The only light came from a small, dust-clogged window at the end of the house. The wood was raw, unpainted and she got a sliver when she’d put her hand on a rafter to balance herself as she’d climbed over a pile of plastic bins in front of the door. She stood in an empty spot and looked around. A dresser with its mirror in front of it sat halfway down the right wall. The roof line came to just three feet from the floor there. No wonder the mirror was standing on the floor. Cardboard boxes lined the walls while taller stuff, a dressmaker’s dummy, for example, stood in the middle.

On the left wall, more boxes and bins but just a few feet from the window she’d spotted a large, old-fashioned trunk. Evette fingered the hasp, there was no lock, so she pulled it from the ring-thing and lifted the top. It was heavy and a cascade of decades’ worth of dust poured off of the lid and swirled around the trunk, making her sneeze again. She pushed the lid to the wall and let it rest there.

In the trunk, on top, were uniforms. She remembered Grandpa saying how he’d been in the Army. Someplace called Korea, far, far away. Under that was a metal box, about 4 inches square and about a foot and a half long. Army printing was on it and she tried to open it but it was locked. Placing it on the floor she rifled through other things, a shoebox of photos of soldiers, a packet of letters tied with a shoestring, the addresses faded.

Under all of that was an envelope, nothing written on it. She picked it up. It was unsealed so she looked inside. Once read, she stuffed it in her pocket and put everything back in the trunk and closed it.

This afternoon, she pulled it from her pocket. Checking to make sure her brother and cousins were busy, she opened it and studied it. Out here, where there was more light, she realized it was a map of Grandpa’s farm. Her little finger traced along a line that was labeled stream. She knew where that was. Two days ago all four kids had spent the day wading, the boys trying to build a dam or catch minnows in their hands. Away from that was a drawing of a circle of trees. An X was in the middle.

She looked at the tree-house. The boys were yelling through some make-believe game of Tarzan and attackers. Evette stuck the map in her pocket and drifted off of the porch and around the back. The adults were involved in telling stories about their childhoods and usually she’d stick around to hear that but not now. Now she walked to the barn, out of sight, and after stopping for a shovel, headed to the stream.

She thought she remembered that circle of trees from last year’s visit. Grandpa had told them that the fairies had caused the trees to grow in a circle. She’s spent the whole rest of the day searching the daisies and black-eyed susans looking for fairies. Now she wanted to see what might really be where the X was on Grandpa’s map. She found the stream and walking along it, spotted the trees. They were bigger than she remembered. Evette skipped across the flower-filled pasture, Grandpa had stopped keeping cows long ago, straight to the trees. In the middle it was cool and quiet, almost as though there were fairies here, keeping the world away. Studying the map again, she looked around. Right in the middle, she stuck her shovel into the ground and began to dig.

The next day the police were there searching the entire house. Grandpa had been lead off in handcuffs. Everyone else had been herded into the living room. Grandma was crying on the sofa with Mama beside her, arm wrapped around her shoulders.

Uncle Bill whispered to papa. “He stole it. Before he joined the army? How the hell did Evette find it?”

Papa shook his head. “She told the police she found the map in the attic and went to see what was at the X.”

Uncle Bill ran his hand through his hair. “Half a million dollars. I can’t believe it.”

Evette cried to herself in the arm chair. She didn’t know what she’d done wrong.

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Author Interviews: Lynne Hinkey

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So this week we have the wonderful Lynne Hinkey in to chat with us. Here’s a little bit about her.

Lynne is a marine scientist by training, a writer by passion, and a curmudgeon by nature. An Olympic-caliber procrastinator, she honed her skill through years of practice and dedication to life on island-time. She uses her experiences living in the Caribbean to infuse her novels with tropical magic, from the siren call of the islands to the terror and hysteria caused by the mysterious chupacabra.

Her short stories and essays have appeared in The Constellation International Literary Review, Skylines, The Petigru Review, Infective Ink, Two Hawks Quarterly, and other print and online publications.  Lynne’s debut novel, Marina Melee, was released by Casperian Books in 2011, followed by Ye Gods! A Tale of Dogs and Demons (2014). Look for the sequel, The Un-Familiar: A Tale of Cats and Gods, coming from Casperian Books in July 2016.

When not busy writing or procrastinating, Lynne is an adjunct associate professor of biology. She lives in Charleston, SC with her husband, cat, and two dogs.

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So let’s begin.

1. Let’s start with something fun. What’s your favorite hobby?

I wish I had more free time since I really prefer hobbies to work. I golf, but not nearly as much as I’d like–although I plan to do a lot more this summer as research for my WIP–and I swim a few days each week. My favorite hobby of all, though, is dog agility. I love to spend time with my dogs, Muggle and Lupin. I’m not a rigorous trainer or particularly accomplished competitor in the sport. I’m in it to play with my dogs and give them something interesting to do and we really do have loads of fun.

2. If you had the opportunity—who would you like to spend an afternoon with and why?

Wow. That’s a long list. As a writer, I think it would have been Terry Pratchett. I feel like we’re kindred spirits and I admire his work, his philosophy of life, and how he approached his illness. As a scientist, it would be Neil deGrasse Tyson or Edward O Wilson, again, because I admire their work and approaches to life and to overcoming obstacles.

 

3. Coffee, tea, soda or something else?

That would depend on the time of day. Before 10 a.m., coffee, please, and after 5 p.m., wine, thank you. In between, water.

 

4. What are you working on right now?

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I’m getting ready for the release of my third novel, The Un-Familiar: A Tale of Cats and Gods (the sequel to Ye Gods! A Tale of Dogs and Demons; both published by Casperian Books) on July 1, 2016. The story continues the search for the chupacabra, who–once again–is hiding in plain sight. I’ve got the start of an outline for the final book in the trilogy, Ye Goddess! A Tale of Girls and Gods, but have put that on the back burner.

In the meantime, I’m working on a golf-buddies novel called A Rattling of Bones. It’s based on Golf Goes On (published by Infective Ink, July 2015), the story of four long-time golf buddies. When one of them dies, the others are desperate to reconstitute their foursome so use a Bible verse (Ezekiel 37) to bring Marty back from the dead. When their attempt succeeds, they have to deal with the consequences and mayhem that ensue. I hope to complete the first draft of the manuscript in the next few months, then go through the long process of editing and revising before querying, and eventually publishing, so don’t expect it will be out before 2018.

 

5. How would you describe your writing style?

I love books that use humor to explore human nature, point out our foibles, and use language in beautiful, unexpected, and quirky ways. I aspire to my own, unique style, and hope that it’s some mash-up of the styles of my favorite authors: Christopher Moore, Tom Robbins, and Terry Pratchett. Like all three of those authors, I tend to tell a story from multiple points of view. I love reading and writing stories that are revealed from multiple perspectives because that’s how the real world works. We’re all in the story together, and no one person has all the information. We don’t get anywhere until we all come together with our piece of the puzzle. Curiosity about how and when that will happen keeps me turning the pages in the books of my favorite authors and I hope it keeps the reader turning the pages in my stories, too.

 

6. Do you have any advice for a person just beginning their writing career?

The two best pieces of advice I got at the very start of my writing career were:

  1. Write. Read. Write more. Read more.
  2. When you’ve finished your first manuscript–novel, short story, essay, whatever it is–stuff it in a drawer and forget about it for a month. Then come back and look at it with fresh eyes, as a reader, not a writer. Then rewrite it, only better.

 

7. Do you immerse yourself in new situations for writing ideas or do your ideas come to you through your normal, day-to-day life?

A bit of both. The ideas come from my day-to-day life and situations, but then I might delve into different and new areas that I need to learn about or experience to write about them.

 

8. Where can we find you on the interwebs?

http://www.lynnehinkey.com

 

Thank you so much, I’ve enjoyed chatting with you!

~Lynne

And I’ve enjoyed having you on the blog.

Readers, check out Lynne’s books, they’re sure to be fun!

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Fun at MysteryCon: Monday Blog Post

AZMysteryCon.com Friday Night Book Selling

AZMysteryCon.com Friday Night Book Selling

Newest News:

I’m back from the MysteryCon in Scottsdale. We had a good time Friday evening with an author signing. Lucky us, we were right across the lobby from the Happy Hour so a lot of people came in and talked with us and I even sold a few books! Yay!  A lovely young woman won the first bracelet on Friday night.

Saturday was more about presentations with the book selling room opening from noon to four, when the con was over. I had a lot of fun getting to know the other authors and met a few that are scheduled to come to the July Payson Book Festival. I have a lot of swag and won 2 bottles of wine! On my second bracelet? No one signed up for the giveaway. That’s okay. I have it for the book festival.

Now it’s time to get some books ordered for July.

Giveaways:

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The Spring Into Reading giveaway closes in about 10 days. I have links to it on my facebook, twitter, and website pages. This giveaway I offer a free ebook or for second prize, a $5 Amazon card. There are other prizes as well. Over a hundred prizes plus a grand prize. It’s not hard to enter and there are multiple ways to enter. You could easily win a prize. If you haven’t entered yet, please enter today and every day.

Shout Out:

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Author L. M. Hinkey

A shout-out goes to my next author interview, Lynne Hinkey. Lynne’s interview will appear on Wednesday, the 8th. Yep! This Wednesday. Don’t miss out on Lynne’s interview and a little bit about her. Can’t wait? Check out her site: http://www.lynnehinkey.com

Garden News:

Last week I bought some hot and sweet green peppers and put half in the garden the day before I left for MysteryCon. Bad time to plant, it’s been 99 – 100 degrees here (it was 115 in Phoenix!) but when I got home, the plants were mostly fine. I suspect chipmunks, one has been investigating my back yard for the last couple of weeks, ate my hot chili pepper plants! I hope they got heartburn. Anyway, the little buggers left some stem and leaves so maybe the plants will recover.

The soil was bone dry when I watered Sunday morning so I watered heavily and planted bean (pole string and yellow beans), butternut squash, and Swiss Chard. I suspect I’ll have to protect the seedlings when they pop up. Birds, especially like sprouted bean seeds.  So now the garden is fully planted. The tomatoes I bought from the garden club are doing fine, blossoms and tiny green tomatoes are evident. The zucchini I bought has lost the tiny zucchini and the original leaves but new leaves and blossoms are evident so I just have to wait a little longer.  How’s your garden doing?

Where Will I Be?:

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July 23rd is the Payson Book Festival, partly funded by the Arizona Humanities. I’ll be at my table all day, ready to talk to YOU! I hope you can make it as we will have over 70 authors attending as well as music, food, author presentations and workshops. It will be stupendous! www.paysonbookfestival.org and click on the Meet the Authors tab.

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9th annual Fall Festival in Pine, AZ. October 8th and 9th. http://pinestrawberrybusinesscommunityaz.com/fallapple.html. I’ll be there all weekend as part of the local author book signing. My hubby will be there as part of the chili cook-off at noon. There are also crafters and a very excellent antique show scheduled, not to mention musing and food!

Want more details about these events? Click here for more information.

Newsletter Sign Up:

Click here to sign up for my newsletter. I’ve put sign-up prizes on both the regular and the Brown Rain newsletter sign-ups. That’s right. If you sign up for my newsletter you get a free story from me. My next newsletter is being drafted so sign up today. Be prepared for fun and contests! Click on the video link for a short video from me. Hear what I’m working on. I’d love to see you there.

Newest Book Release:

I’m in the middle of the Zoe Ohale re-write. If you’re a Brown Rain Series fan, I think you’ll like Zoe Ohale. Just 17, Zoe has been an orphan living on the streets of Baia Mare since she was 12. Street smart and fiercely independent, Zoe has been offered the chance to move back into legal society by the police officer that arrested her a few months ago. But first, she has to help protect the little kids in her group, help her friend save her father from assassination, and find a criminal ring that just stole all of the physical credits being delivered to the Planetary Bank of Baia Mare. The book, the first of a series, should be out in August, if I can find time to work on it between the Book Festival and the Fair.

Kindred Spirits released on March 14th! I’m pretty excited about it. You can buy it and my other books at: Apple, Amazon, Barnes and Noble, Kobo, Smashwords, Gumroads  or Chatebooks today! You can also see all of my books on www.ConniesRandomThoughts.com. If you’ve read any of my books, please drop a review on the site where you bought it or on Goodreads. It’s a big help to me in the book rankings each vendor uses to promote the books on their sites. Thanks in advance.

 

Feel free to share this blog post with others who may be interested.

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Death in the Desert: Friday Flash Fiction Post

Desert

Desert

I shook my water bladder, empty. How could it be empty? It had three liters of water in it. I felt my pack. Wet. The bladder leaked, obviously. With no water to put in it I couldn’t tell where it was leaking from. A pinhole of some sort probably. That didn’t help me now. I was about eight miles out from the nearest trailhead and the sun was beating down. The tiny thermometer on the back of my pack read ninety-six degrees. Just looking at that empty bladder made me thirsty.

I put the bladder back in my pack and pulled out my map. Maybe there was a water source nearby. After careful scrutiny the answer was no. I was going to have to hike out to that nearest trailhead and hope for help. The trailhead was twenty-six miles from nowhere. I sighed, folded the map and put it back in the map pocket. I hoped people were there.

Pack back on my back, I trudge off along the trail. Thinking about all the survival shows I’ve seen I wonder if there is something I can do to increase my chances. First, people do know where I am. That’s the first positive thing. Second, I’m an experience backpacker. Another point in my favor. A point against, I’m hiking alone. If I had another person, odds would be likely that their water supply was just fine and we could share. Too bad for me. No one was free to backpack with me this week so I came alone.

I stumble on the rocky path and nearly skewer myself on an agave. Pay attention, klutz. Anyway, I get around that and continue my inventory of possible tactics. No drinking cactus water, that will kill a person. All of those old movies just made that up. This is a popular trail—someone or someones may happen along and give me a hand. Unfortunately, it’s a weekday, so less likely of any traffic.

Crossing a dry wash I remember a popular TV survival show and the host digging in a curve for water. I look around. The wash runs straight across the landscape like someone dug it on purpose. No curves for water to pool in or sink down. I climb back out and keep going.

At noon I find a lone mesquite tree and settle in its meager shade. Two miles down, six to go to the trailhead. I dig out a food bar and stare at it. Do I want to eat this dry? Isn’t there some sort of requirement that the stomach needs water to process anything I eat? I don’t know. Food is fuel but if my body needs water to process the food, am I just hurting myself? I put the bar back in the pack. I’ll die of dehydration long before I die of hunger. I could stand to lose a little weight anyway.

While I rest I try and remember other tips. Maybe I shouldn’t be walking in the sun in the daytime. Don’t the border jumpers travel at night? Stupid. I should hang out here and wait till sundown to travel. Encouraged by this thought I dig my space blanket out of my emergency bag and rig it to the tree for shade. I unroll my sleeping pad and lie down. I could use a nap anyway.

Hours later I wake. The sun is going to set soon. The thermometer reads one-hundred and three degrees. I pack everything up and start hiking, headlamp handy in a side pocket of my pack. This should work, right? Just hike on out to the trailhead. Simple.

Even with the headlamp, three hours after sunset, I stumble over the rocks. Twice I’ve run into cactus spines overhanging the trail. My pants are torn and both legs now have long, bloody scratches. Slow down, missy. Don’t make mistakes. I stop to rest, my knees sore from jolting along the trail. I find a small pebble and wipe as much dirt off of it as I can and pop it in my mouth to suck. It’ll keep the saliva flowing at any rate. I check my scratches. They’ve stopped bleeding.

Break over, I get going again. I find it hard to estimate my mileage. Still, it’s been five hours since sunset. Estimating a mile an hour in the dark, I should be close to the trailhead. At least the night is cooler, about eighty degrees. I thank my lucky stars and keep going.

After another hour, I stop to assess. Where’s the trailhead? I’m on the trail, I’ve seen the markers and cairns. A butterfly of panic begins to move in my stomach. Stop it. Take a breath. Maybe you’re going slower than you think. Keep going. The map says it’s on this trail.

Trudging on, stomach growling, I keep alert. I don’t want to miss any directional sign. I tuck the pebble into my cheek. I’m thirsty, the pebble isn’t fooling my body. It wants water. Now. The panic butterfly, I imagine it black with scarlet markings, is still stirring. I resist the urge to cry. Don’t be a baby. Keep walking.

When the sun comes up, I reassess. I’m on the trail, but there’s no sign of the trailhead. I pull out my phone. If I’m close, maybe there’s a cell signal. No bars. I swallow and put the phone away. The landscape is flat but I can see what has to be the Superstitions in the distance. Desert birds are singing the sun up but I don’t see anything to be happy about. I’m lost while on the trail. Not good.

Should I back track? Maybe I missed the sign? Go on? The map says the next trailhead is sixteen miles away. I’ll never make it.

#

The recovery team covered the body on the stretcher. “Too bad, really. She was just a mile from the trailhead.”

 

 

 

Thank You!

987 Words

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

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