Found: Key, Part I – Friday Flash Fiction Blog

Key by Chunkygummybear via www.deviantart.com

Key by Chunkygummybear via www.deviantart.com

http://www.deviantart.com/art/key-62685439, Key by chunkygummybears

Part I

Ying Lee hurried along the sidewalk, high-heels clicking a staccato beat, her briefcase tapping against her skirted thigh. She rehearsed her presentation as she traveled. If she could land this account, that would put her in the running for partner. She felt good about this. She’d been emailing her potential client, sending him freebies, making friends. Today it was time to close the deal.

A glint from the sidewalk made her step stutter. She backed-up, causing the man behind her to bump her shoulder. “Sorry.” He glared but went on. Ying stopped and stared at the grubby junction between the building and the cement sidewalk. Crouching, she studied the key that lay in the dirt. It didn’t look shiny now. It seemed old—an ancient skeleton key, like in some story book.

She reached out and picked it up. It had an elaborate, curlicue bow, but no key ring or cord attached to it. The shaft had four cuts of different lengths and widths. She couldn’t imagine what kind of lock the key would open. Standing, she pulled a tissue from her purse and rubbed off some of the dirt. Ying felt a little dizzy. She took a breath and thought, stood too fast. It’s pretty. She wrapped it in the tissue and put it in her purse. Ying checked her watch and continued to her meeting. I’ll go to a locksmith after the meeting and ask what kind of key this is.

Ying was pleased as she left her client’s office. The contract was bigger than she expected. She grinned all the way out of the building. Take that, Clint Baker. I’m going to be the next partner. As she went along the sidewalk two mothers with strollers blocked her way. She stepped into the nearest doorway to let them pass. An old man in a Veteran’s ball cap rode by on a motorized chair. Ying glanced in the window of the shop. A display of keys, old ones, caught her eye. Her found key leapt to mind.

Opening the door, she went inside. Antiques, she realized. The store had classical music playing in the background. Everything was displayed elegantly, dusted and expensive looking.

At the counter an old woman sat, a gilt-edged book open on the counter in front of her. “May I help you?”

Her voice was firm, a surprise. Ying expected a weak, quavery voice. “Umm, yes.” She reached into her purse and pulled out the tissue. She placed it on the counter and unwrapped it. “I found this a little while ago. What can you tell me about it?”

The old woman put a ribbon in her page and closed the book. “I’m Eleanor. I own this shop.” She pulled a magnifying glass out from under the counter and examined the key. “Interesting. Where’d you find it?”

“Just up the block. I saw it glint.”

Eleanor descended from her stool like a queen from her throne and turned to the wall of research books behind her. She studied the spines then selected a book with a spine so old, faded and broken, Ying couldn’t read it.

Eleanor opened the book and turning the pages with care, stopped on a page near the middle. Even upside down, Ying could see that the illustration looked exactly like the key she’d found.

“Interesting.” Eleanor adjusted her glasses. Circles sat in such a thin gold frame it was nearly invisible. The frames were attached to black ribbon that went around her neck. “It’s been over a century since this key has been seen.”

“What do you think it goes to?”

“Originally, the study in a castle in France. A famous alchemist of the time owned the castle. At least that’s the rumor. The last report of it was from before World War I. A young Frenchman found it and apparently met with much success despite the war.”

Ying pushed down her impatience with such an unbelievable story. “Okay. Really?”

“I can see you don’t believe the story.”

“Well.” Ying shrugged. “I’m a practical person. I succeed because I work hard. There’s no magic.”

“The history of the key is quite clear.” Eleanor ran her finger down the page and turned it. “Every owner, that we know of, has had remarkable luck. Each owner said the key was responsible.”

A small snort escaped Ying. “I’m sorry, Miss. I didn’t mean to be rude.”

“Let me ask you a question,” Eleanor smiled. “Did you meet with some success this morning?”

Ying’s eyebrows rose. “I did. But I was prepared and I landed a new client.”

“Did it surpass your expectations?”

“The contract was bigger than I had anticipated.” Her eyes narrowed. “But I seriously don’t think it was because of a magic key.”

Eleanor shrugged. “Perhaps it was your hard work. Take the key. Keep it with you for a month then come back and tell me what you think.”

Ying eyed the key. “So, what? I rub it or something?”

“Is that what you did this morning?”

“I, uh, I just…” She remembered rubbing dirt from the key. “Yes. Yes I did.” She nodded to herself. “Can I wash it? It’s really dirty.”

“Try it.” Eleanor smiled again. “Thank you for stopping in. Do come back and tell me how it goes.”

“Ying re-wrapped the key in the tissue and put it back in her purse. This whole thing sounded crazy. “I, uh, I will.” On the way out the door she chastised herself. Why’d you promise to come back? I don’t have time for fairy-tales. Get back to the office and fill out the reports.

Thinking about her new client and the benefits the account would bring to her cheered her up. Her steps grew more definitive until her heels made a staccato beat on the sidewalk. No one or nothing is responsible for my success but me. Her chin rose. Poor Clint won’t know what hit him.

 

Thank You!

Part I: 989 Words

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

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My Birthday: Monday Blog Post

Solar light in green phase.

Solar light in green phase.

Newest News:

I suppose it doesn’t hurt to tell you that my birthday was yesterday. At my age I don’t celebrate big. I don’t actually want much. I’m decades beyond wanting a party, or cake. It’s enough to mark the day and have a minor celebration, which my husband and I did. We went to a local restaurant that we only go to on special occasions. I had my usual, lamb chops and baked potato. Extra special for me, is that this restaurant serves crème Brulee for desert. I know. It’s decades out of fashion but even before I was diagnosed celiac, it was my fav desert. Of course I ordered it and even let hubby share. Nope. Didn’t take a picture. Everyone is so over seeing other people’s dinners.

Solar Light with flash in the tomato bed.

Solar Light with flash in the tomato bed.

Hubby bought me some solar powered optical garden art. He even set them up for me, which I didn’t know until Sunday night when I looked out the window and they were all glowing and changing colors. It makes me happy to see them out there.

AuthorShout.com has been a fantastic promoter for me this month. I’m so pleased with the publicity they’ve been giving me. Kindred Spirits, is on their site for the month of July. http://authorshout.com/recommended-reading/ Take a look around the site. I think you’ll find something you’ll like.

Giveaways:

SmashwordSale2016

Over half way into July Smashwords.com’s Summer/Winter Sale is in full swing. Four of my books, Mystery at the Fair, A New Start, First Encounter, and Lost Rainbows, are free on the site. Log in, get an account if you don’t already have one, and search on my book titles. Use the coupon code SFREE, when you check out and those books are free! This offer only lasts until the end of July. You’re running out of time. Get these books for free while you can. I do not offer them free very often.

Summer Giveaway

The Red Hot Summer giveaway is also in full swing. 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 of $150 Paypal Cash. 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:

Carol Sletten Apaches and Lozen

Let me give a big shout out to Carol Sletten this week. An artist, performer and author, Carol is multi-talented and a really nice person to boot. She’s involved in an author’s luncheon in Greer, Arizona promoting her talk, Apache’s and Lozen, A woman warrior who rode with Geronimo. It’s a presentation I’m sure you won’t want to miss. Tickets are $20 at the door. https://www.facebook.com/carol.sletten?fref=ts

Garden News:

The green and yellow beans are flowering. It won’t be long now before I have those wonderful yellow beans. I’ve picked 3 tomatoes so far. Today I had a light lunch of a cut up garden tomato and cottage cheese. It was soooooo good. I’ve been watering the bed I fertilized and tried to kill the mint out of. So far, no mint sticking its little green leaves up. I remain optimistic. This last week I repotted both the Meyer Lemon and the Bay tree. Poor bay. It was just a root ball, no dirt at all. I’m sure it’s now very happy to have dirt to grow in. The lemon tree is infested with ants that seem to be growing little insect sucker pods on the green branches and leaves. I spent a good deal of time and many thorn stabs wiping the sucking pods off of every leaf and branch. Sunday I fertilized and on the lemon, left ant bait. The sucker things, whatever they are, kill the branches. That has got to stop. The peaches continue to grow and ripen. I should have ripe peaches in about two weeks. 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. It’s just 6 days away and I’ll be at my table all day, ready to talk to YOU! I hope you can make it as we will have over 90 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/.

FallFest2016

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 and is 100% done at the editors’. I’ll get to the further edits after the book festival. 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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Trapped in Nowhere: Flash Fiction Friday Post

Space Freighter

Space Freighter

This story is based on one I wrote in January 2015. See “Escape”.

“I’m sorry! The frackin’ console was exploding and the Orion was gaining. There must have been a malfunction.” Pete Ostrander slammed the lid of the console down. Smoke and scorch marks marred the edges and around the buttons.

Captain Jan A’Mungo pulled her afro down, pulled all the loose hair back and tied it up with an elastic. She was sick of the tendrils falling into her eyes.

“Not his fault, Jan.” Jack Ender entered the bridge. “The cargo’s secured. That last jump was a doosey but everything is in good shape. The Orion had us in a corner.”

Jan’s eyes narrowed. “Don’t try and sweet talk me Jack. That was FUBAR and you know it.”

“Come on, Jan. This is a rust bucket and we were up against a state of the art Galactic patrol vessel. We’re lucky we came out the other side.” Pete gently touched a button and winced. The monitor he wanted came on without exploding. He released his breath.

“Report.” Jan tugged her tunic down and got back into the command chair. “Where are we?”

Pete tapped the buttons on his console. Screen after screen came up and went. He scratched his chin and the week old beard. “Um, nowhere.”

Both of the others turned to stare at him.

“Well, of course we’re somewhere.” He shrugged. “I just don’t know where that is.”

Jan gripped the armrests on her chair and took a deep breath. She counted to ten. Then she turned to her husband. “Please explain.”

“I tapped in the coords for Epsilon 4. But the console was sparking all over the place what with Ho blasting us to crap. So now, here we are.” Pete rubbed an ear. “If I get lucky, I can figure out what was damaged and trace us back.”

“Into Captain Ho?” Jack ran a hand through his cropped black hair.

Pete shook his head. “I don’t think so. He’s probably long gone. We left in a hurry and he probably didn’t have time to calculate our jump.”

“Apparently neither did we.” Jan’s eyes narrowed again at her husband. “You can get us back?” She watched as her husband pressed a finger to the spot between his eyes. She knew from experience he was about to tell a tale.

“Um. Sure. We can get back.”

Jack rolled his eyes. “I’ll check our inventory.” He got up and left the bridge.

Jan waited until Jack was gone. Pete was fussing with his console. “You don’t have a clue. Do you?”

He ran the heel of his hand across his cheek. “Well, no. But I will. Really.”

Jan got up and put a hand on his shoulder, her cheek next to his. “I believe you. Get it done.”

He gave her that lopsided grin that had attracted her to him in the first place. “Sure, Captain. I’ll get right on it.”

She cuffed him, gently, in the head. “Good. I’m gonna take a nap. Call me when you have something.”

#

Eight hours later, showered and with a food pack in hand, she re-entered the bridge. Pete had the lid of the console up. Jack was missing. “How’s it going?”

“Jack went to bed about 4 hours ago.” He shut the lid of the console. His blond hair stood up in every direction and his eyes had dark circles under them. “I think I have it.”

She sat in her command chair and popped the top on the food. The smell of beef stew filled the bridge. “What do you have?” Jan spooned a mouthful and waited.

“Well.” Pete rubbed his eyes. “I traced the jump record back to the attack. The last fifteen seconds before the jump I can see where there’s a power surge in the jump circuits.” He arched his back and stretched his neck back. “Anyway. I think I know where the surge sent us. If so, we have a new, uncharted jump point.” He arched an eyebrow.

Jan blinked, the stew forgotten in her hand. “A new jump point. One the Galactic Patrol doesn’t know about.”

Pete grinned. “If we can get back.”

Jan’s hand covered her mouth, eyes wide. “Our own, secret, jump point.” She dropped her hand and grinned. “Can you get us back?”

“I think so.”

“Make your notes and go get some sleep. We’ll do this when you’re rested.”

#

Eight hours later, they were all in their seats on the bridge, strapped in and ready. “Proceed when ready.” Jan nodded and smiled at her husband.

He turned to his console. She could see his shoulders rise and fall with a deep breath. “Commencing jump sequence.”

“Jump sequence commencing. Proceed.” Jan gripped the arms of her command chair. She didn’t know if they were going to make it back to known space or leap out farther into uncharted space.

Jack as usual, joked. “Saddle up boys and girls. It’ll be a ride.”

Jan rolled her eyes just as Pete hit the button. The ship shook as space blurred and time seemed to slow to a crawl. It felt like forever between breaths. After what seemed like an eternity, they popped out into real space. The stars aligned.

Pete studied the monitors closely then turned his chair to face the rest. “We made it. We’re just outside of Talia system.”

Jack whooped, unbuckling and leaping out of his seat to embrace Pete. “I knew you could do it!”

Jan winked at her husband. “Better mark the spot. We’re gonna want to know these coords.”

Pete gave her a mock salute. “Yes, ma’am. Right away, ma’am.”

“Prepare to jump to Onyms system. We have a cargo of weapons to deliver.”

Jack bowed to her. “Yes, oh great queen of the spaceways. We hear and obey.”

She snorted. “You’d better.”

They all laughed and got to work. The rebellion had a new weapon. A secret jump point. Jan grinned. This might even get them some parts and repairs.

Thank You!

993 Words

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

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Author Interviews: Elizabeth Hein

Elizabeth Hein Author Photo

Today’s interview is with author Elizabeth Hein who self-proclaims she writes Snarky Women’s Fiction! Let’s let Elizabeth tell us about herself.

Elizabeth Hein writes women’s fiction with a bit of an edge. Her novels explore the role of friendship in the lives of adult women and themes of identity. How To Climb The Eiffel Tower follows one young woman as she navigates the world of cancer treatment with the help of her friends. Overlook and Escape Plan chronicle how a small group of women bands together to free themselves from terrible marriages and forge their own paths in life.

Elizabeth grew up in Massachusetts within an extended family of storytellers. Her childhood was filled with excellent food and people loudly talking over each other. She and her husband now live in Durham, North Carolina.

Great to know you, Elizabeth. Let’s get to those questions, shall we?

Elizabeth Hein Cover Collage

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

My husband and I love to travel. He loves to go hiking and I have developed a fascination with volcanos, so we are slowly exploring the world’s hot spots. We may only get to go on a trip once every few years, but I enjoy learning about the different locations and planning our next trips. I spend a lot of time putting together Pinterest boards and reading guidebooks.

 

2. Coffee, tea, soda or something else?

Tea. I take my morning tea very seriously. I have a favorite teapot that was my grandmother’s and make my own blends of loose tea leaves. I drink strong black tea in the morning and a jasmine green blend in the afternoon.

 

3. What are you working on right now?

I am working on a mystery series set in some of the places my husband and I have visited and featuring two best friends as amateur sleuths. The first one is set on the Galapagos Islands, then Midge and Snig will travel to Hawaii and Costa Rica.

 

4. How would you describe your writing style?

It’s very hard to describe your own style. It’s a bit like describing what your voice sounds like. What you hear on a recording is never what your voice sounds like in your own head. That being said, I write about serious topics with a snarky tone. I see the world through a psychological lens and am fascinated by what motivates people to do the things they do.

 

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

Find a few trusted writing friends and help each other become better writers. A writing career can be lonely and there will be times when you will feel discouraged. That is when you will need someone to pick you up and help you move forward. You can find writer friends through critique groups, on-line communities, and through networking events. One small caveat to my answer – beware of negative people. Writing is hard enough; you don’t need frenemies.

 

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

Ideas for characters and plots come to me all the time, usually through very ordinary people. My first book was inspired by a woman I met in a hospital waiting room, and my next two books were inspired by a woman I met at a PTA bake sale.

 

7. Where can we find you on the interwebs?

Elizabethhein.com –http://elizabethhein.com

My writing blog – Scribbling in the storage room – http://scribblinginthestorageroom.wordpress.com

Facebook author page – https://www.facebook.com/pages/Elizabeth-Hein-author/447085108688361

Twitter – https://twitter.com/_ElizabethHein

Amazon author page- amazon.com/author/elizabethhein

 

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Bits and Pieces: Monday Blog Post

Meyer Lemon Blossom

Meyer Lemon Blossom

Newest News:

WW2OtHF-200x300

My friend, Carole Emma Mathewson has released her book World War II: On the Home Front. A look at the effect of World War II on a young girl from rural California. I’ll have to admit, there were some spots that had me in tears. Check it out at: https://www.amazon.com/World-War-Home-Front-California/dp/1534812725/.

Have you visited the website, AuthorShout.com? It’s a fantastic resource for readers to find their next favorite author. I’ll be promoting my book, Kindred Spirits, on the site for the month of July. http://authorshout.com/recommended-reading/ Take a look around the site. I think you’ll find something you’ll like.

Giveaways:

SmashwordSale2016

Only for the month of July, I’m participating in Smashwords.com’s Summer/Winter Sale. Four of my books, Mystery at the Fair, A New Start, First Encounter, and Lost Rainbows, are free on the site. Log in, get an account if you don’t already have one, and search on my book titles. Use the coupon code SFREE, when you check out and those books are free!

13516250_10153776031376317_3183914869650072987_n

The Red Hot Summer giveaway 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 of $150 Paypal Cash. 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 Elizabeth Hein

Author Elizabeth Hein

A heads-up. Author Elizabeth Hein is my Author Interview this week. Author of snarky women’s fiction, she’s currently working on a mystery series. Want to know more and can’t wait for the interview? Check her out at http://elizabethhein.com.

Garden News:

Twice the size it was two days ago. It'll make great hash.

Twice the size it was two days ago. It’ll make great hash.

The green and yellow beans are just growing and growing. No flowers yet, I planted late. It won’t be long now. I have decided to take a chance and begin working the bed that had the mint in it. I’ve been fighting it for three years and it’s been months now since I’ve seen a sprig show its head. So, I dumped compost on it and watered it well this morning. We’ll see how it goes. I have managed to get a zucchini from my plant despite the chipmunks. Here’s a picture. I also see that my lemon tree, that had dropped every single lemon bud in late winter, has produced one new flower. That the picture at the top. Maybe I’ll get a lemon. I’m crossing my fingers. The peaches continue to grow and ripen. I should have ripe peaches in about two weeks. How’s your garden doing?

Where Will I Be?:

BookFest Ad 061016July 23rd is the Payson Book Festival, partly funded by the Arizona Humanities. It’s just 13 days away and I’ll be at my table all day, ready to talk to YOU! I hope you can make it as we will have over 90 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 and is about 50% done at the editors’. 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 III: Flash Fiction Friday Post

Gold Mining Area

Gold Mining Area

You can find Part II here: http://wp.me/p6LAko-IQ

Part III

They spoke just low enough so he could hear mumbles. Nate in particular kept looking over at Zeke’s tent. Zeke didn’t like it but he didn’t know what else to do. Maybe I’m over reacting. Maybe they’re really just passin’ through.

He watched as they passed a small bottle around. Then talked more. Zeke stood up to relieve his legs from the prickles and let the blood flow again. The three went back to their bedrolls, at least he thought they did. Their camp was out of sight of his tent door. It sounded like they were going to bed. He pushed the flap open and peeked out. No fire at their site meant he couldn’t see them.

He slipped out of the tent and eased around the corner out of sight of the others. The fire had died down to embers so didn’t give out much light. He could hear Butter and Jenny stamping in the dark. As quietly as he could, he headed for the creek. Not too far along the trail he’d made, there was a pile of boulders. He climbed up them and down into the middle. Still high, he could watch the whole camp in the dark. The moon would be up soon.

Zeke’s head jerked up at a sound. The half-moon lit the camp just enough for Zeke to see two dark shapes approaching his tent. His hands began to sweat and worse, his legs had fallen asleep. He needed to get the blood flowing before he had to run or fall flat on his face. Where’s the third man? Zeke watched two men stand beside the tent flap. They pulled their guns and while one pulled the flap, the other shot inside the tent.

The loud reports echoed through the night air. The flashes from the barrels were blinding. While they rushed in, Zeke could hear Butter whinny. Murderers!

The men came out of the tent. “He’s not here, Dan’l.”

That sounded like Earl.

“Shut up, stupid! Find him,” came from over by Butter and Jenny.

Zeke watched the two men at the tent split up. One went toward the animals. The other man came in his direction. Should he shoot? His sweaty hands slid on the rifle. He dried them on his pants and waited. Yes, one of them was coming this way. Zeke took a deep breath and as the man neared, Zeke fired. The man cried out and fell, then dragged himself off of the trail.

“Ned! Ned?”

So now he knew who he’d shot he had to move. The brothers would be here any second. He jumped down from the rocks and headed to the creek turning right to circle around to where Butter and Jenny were. At least he hoped they were still there. He could hear the sound of boots running up to his last spot.

“Nate! Where are you?”

Zeke heard a groan. So Nate wasn’t dead. At least not yet. He hurried up the slope doing his best to be quiet. The animals were where he left them. Good. He hurried to the camp and sheltered behind a scrawny tree beside his tent. Zeke could hear them coming back. All three from the sound of it.

“Zeke! Come out, boy. There’s been a misunderstanding.”

That was Daniel’s voice. Lying, murderous thieves. They must think I’m stupid. He waited, rifle raised and steadied on the tree trunk. When the three reached the camp, Nate supported by the other two, Zeke fired at the one on the right. The man screamed and fell to his left, pulling Nate down with him. “Earl!”

The man on the left must be Daniel. Zeke took aim but it was too late. Daniel did a diving roll to his right and was out of sight. Earl and Nate were both shrieking, calling Daniel’s name and screaming curses and threats at Zeke. The noise set Zeke’s teeth on edge. He eased back, toward the stranger’s camp, missing most of the acacia. Zeke could hear Daniel cursing the bushes as they snagged and tore at his clothes.

“Go away,” Zeke called before he moved to a new spot.

“You shot my brother.”

Zeke could hear him crashing through the brush but it was hard to tell where he was with the caterwauling from the wounded men. “You tried to shoot me.” He moved again.

Daniel was getting frustrated. Zeke could tell by the thrashing through the brush. Zeke edged up the hillside. Maybe he could see better up higher. There, as Zeke looked downhill, the moon came out from behind a cloud and he could see Daniel, gun extended in front of him, crossing the camp near the fire. Zeke took aim and fired. Daniel fell, just missing the fire and lay still.

Hurrying down the hill, rifle trained on the man, Zeke kicked Daniel’s foot. No movement. He grabbed some rope hanging from the tree nearby and tied Daniel up. Then he took the rope and headed for the two wounded men, still shouting obscenities at him. Zeke circled around to come up behind them.

The two were struggling to their feet, leaning on each other. Zeke walked up behind them. “Drop the guns.”

The two started to turn. “I said drop the guns.”

Wobbling, they complied, leaning on each other. “Tie Nate up, Earl.”

“I’m not…”

“Yes, you are. Or I’m gonna blow your head clean off.”

Earl swore under his breath but picked up the rope Zeke had tossed. With Nate tied, Zeke came to tie up Earl.

Four days later he was at the Sherriff’s desk, the unexpected guests in the cell behind him. The Sherriff was sorting through wanted posters. “Daniel Thomas, $2000. Brother Earl, $2000 and Nate Bartholomew, $3000. That’s quite a haul, Zeke.”

Zeke nodded and took the voucher the Sherriff handed him. He wasn’t against the money, but again, he had to shoot people for it. Not the way he wanted to do things.

 

End of Part III.

 

 

Thank You!

999 Words

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

 

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Happy Fourth of July: Monday Blog Post

Fireworks by Randy Cockrell

Fireworks by Randy Cockrell

Newest News:

Happy Fourth of July everyone. I hope your weekend has been both wonderful and safe. We’re heading over to a friend’s house this evening. It’s situated on a hill overlooking the park where the fireworks are set off. Forecast is for a clear night. Better than last year’s thunderstorm.

My friend, Carole Emma Mathewson is releasing her book World War II: On the Home Front. The cover is just about done. When it is we can get it all loaded into CreateSpace and have it out, perhaps by the end of the week!

Have you visited the website, AuthorShout.com? It’s a fantastic resource for readers to find their next favorite author. I’ll be promoting my book, Kindred Spirits, on the site for the month of July. Take a look around the site. I think you’ll find something you’ll like.

Giveaways:

SmashwordSale2016

Only for the month of July, I’m participating in Smashwords.com’s Summer/Winter Sale. Four of my books, Mystery at the Fair, A New Start, First Encounter, and Lost Rainbows, are free on the site. Log in, get an account if you don’t already have one, and search on my book titles. Use the coupon code SFREE, when you check out and those books are free!

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 of $150 Paypal Cash. 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:

A heads-up. Author Elizabeth Hein is my Author Interview next week. Author of snarky women’s fiction, she’s currently working on a mystery series. Want to know more and can’t wait for the interview? Check her out at http://elizabethhein.com.

Garden News:

Peaches by Connie Cockrell

Peaches by Connie Cockrell

The heat and the moisture since the monsoons began has turned on the grow switch in my garden. The pole beans are racing up the trellis. Tiny green tomatoes are popping out all over and the plants are growing all over the tomato bed. The chipmunks are eating my zucchini! The peaches are going strong. I love how fuzzy they are. They’re already getting that blush on them. In my area they ripen the end of July, depending on weather. 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 II: Flash Fiction Friday Post

campfire_by_kiaraz

campfire_by_kiaraz

Part I of this story was published last week. You can read it here. http://wp.me/p6LAko-IJ

Part II

While the three men walked their horses over to the spot Zeke had pointed out, he stirred the fire, pulling the now black potato out of the fire. Did they see it? He picked up the harness and carefully used it to pick up the potato, doing his best to look normal.

He walked to his tent, one eye on his guests, and slipped inside. He dropped the harness and potato on the ground. The wire holding the potato together hadn’t been covered and a spot on the heel of his hand was burned. He poured a little water from his canteen onto his neckerchief and wrapped it around the burn. Hand dealt with he examined the harness for damage. Some scorching but nothing serious. That was good. All he needed was for the harness to be irreparable. Zeke kicked the potato in a corner of the tent where other provisions were stored and pulled stuff around it to hide it from view then stepped out of the tent, harness in hand.

Nate was walking by on the way to the creek, canteens hung around him and in hand. Zeke nodded and went to the horses. Hanging the harness in its usual spot, Zeke decided to keep watch on the men. He needed to look busy though. This is where he’d go up to the mine but not now. Now he wanted to keep watch. Butter nuzzled him, bumping his arm. He reached an arm around her neck and gave her a scratch. “No treats today, greedy girl. How about a curry, though.

Butter nickered. Zeke picked up the brush and began to work on the horse.

Daniel and Earl were laying out bedrolls. Nate was out of sight down the creek bank. They’re gonna want to eat their supper at my fire. If I tell them no, they’ll make their move soon. If I invite them, it’ll look like I’m not suspicious. Zeke could feel Butter stretching her back with the brush. He was just grabbing the comb to do Butter’s mane and tail when Nate came back through the camp. Zeke nodded again. Nate spit.

That didn’t make Zeke feel any better. He didn’t like the way Nate was looking at him. He finished with Butter as the three strangers sat on their rolls. They were all looking his way and talking. He could hear the murmur but they were keeping it quiet. Were they making plans about him?

“How about you, Jenny. Ready for your curry?” He picked up both brushes and his rifle and walked to where the donkey was staked. The little gray donkey shook, clouds of dust rising in the air. “I guess so.”

Zeke curried the donkey, again keeping the men in view. He found a cut on the animal’s back left leg. He went to the tent for some ointment and applied it to the cut. The whole time the men watched him. Grooming finished, he led the horse and donkey to a new spot and staked them where there was some fresh grazing. Not having anything else to do after he put the ointment away he took the buckets to the creek and filled them then emptied them into the barrel he kept near the fire.

Daniel, Earl and Nate came back to the fire with arms full of wood. “We saw the pile was low, Zeke.” First Daniel, then the others, dropped the wood in Zeke’s pile.

“Appreciate it. Since you’re stayin’ the night, you’re welcome to cook your dinner here. You brought the wood, after all.”

“Kind of you, friend.” Daniel was all smiles.

Zeke didn’t like the look of the brother or Nate, though. They were studying him. Looking for weaknesses. If he had any sense he’d shoot these three right now and be done with it. “I don’t have much to share. I’m gettin’ ready to pack up. Thought I’d get supplies before I move on.”

“We have food, no worry there.” Daniel hunkered down next to the fire. “Spent a lot of time on those animals.”

Zeke shrugged. “Yeah, well, I don’t groom them often enough. Today seemed like the day.”

“Where you gonna go?” Earl pulled a dry stem of grass and began to pick his teeth with it.

“I don’t know. Thought I’d check in town for news.”

Nate pulled his gun out of the holster and began checking the works. Zeke’s heart sped up. “Maybe California. I heard the gold country there is a lot prettier than here. Greener.”

Earl pulled his gun and began to wipe it down. Zeke’s hand hovered over his rifle but left it alone. They were just cleaning their weapons, right? He stood up. “I’ve got some bacon, that’ll help stretch your beans.”

“Mighty nice of you, Zeke.”

Zeke went and got the bacon and the cast iron pan, then some flour, lard and salt and in his makeshift kitchen, a stump he’d cut tall, he mixed biscuit dough while the pan sat over the campfire cooking the bacon. None of his guests offered to help though they did go get their food and began heating it, still in the cans, in the fire.

“Not Mother’s cookin’ but it’ll do,” Zeke said as he passed around bacon and biscuits.

The men nodded as they crumbled bacon into their beans. Zeke spooned bacon grease onto a split biscuit and put bacon slices between the halves. He ate. The others ate. No one spoke though they watched each other intently.

While Zeke cleaned the pan and bowl, Daniel told tales of Chicago, where they were from. After dark, Zeke announced he was going to bed and thanked them for the company. He dropped the tent flap, something he didn’t usually do, then sat cross-legged in front of the flap and watched, rifle in his lap.

 

End of Part II, next week, Part III.

 

Thank You!

975 Words

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

 

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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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