Finger Paint: Chicklets in the Kitchen Post

It’s the winter doldrums. The kids no longer want to go play in the snow. You are tired of them either being underfoot or want them off of their electronics. What to do?

I downloaded this graphic years ago and though it says Easie Peasie on the bottom, a website search did not reveal an actual link to give you. So, with my apologies to the actual author, enjoy!

Thanks for stopping by Chicklets in the Kitchen. Do you have a favorite craft? Please tell us about it in the comments box below if you feel so inclined.

My name is Connie Cockrell and I write SciFi, Fantasy, Mysteries, and a lot of other things and you can find links to all of my books at www.ConniesRandomThoughts.com.

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Mystery at the Dog Park Part 2 of 7: Flash Fiction Friday Post

Azula: Available for adoption now from:
Annie Bamber
Outreach Programs Coordinator
(928) 474-5590 ext. 100
annie@humanesocietycentralaz.org
www.humanesocietycentralaz.org
Like us on Facebook:
https://www.facebook.com/humanesocietycentralaz/
“Because They Matter”

If you’ll notice, the picture illustrating this week’s serial section is of a local dog, Azula, currently at the Humane Society awaiting her furever home. The next 5 sections will also feature one of the many dogs awaiting a home. If you’re looking for a new member of the family, please consider contacting the Humane Society.

 

Part 2 of 7  See Part 1 here.

 

After lunch, Jean and Karen drove over to the radio station instead of calling. In the office they talked to the secretary, Barbara.

“Dogs for sale?” Barbara asked.

“Yes.” Jean showed her the lost dog flyer. “We’re trying to find this dog. The Humane Society told us there’s a market for stolen dogs and that they get sold through the newspaper and radio, sometimes. So we thought we’d look.

Barbara’s eyebrows went up. “I had no idea.”

“Us either.”

“Let me look.” She pulled up a list on her computer. “No.” She shook her head. “No dogs for sale. Sorry.”

Jean saw the woman slump a little, then she brightened. “Let me make a copy of the flyer. I’ll keep my eyes open for an ad that resembles the dog.”

Jean handed her the flyer. “Thank you.”

When they left, Karen propped her arm on the window and tapped her fingers. “Why don’t we do the same thing at the paper. Go over and give them a copy of the flyer and have them keep an eye out for a dog sale?”

“Good idea.” Jean grinned. “We can get the whole town looking for the dog.”

After they finished at the paper, Jean drove Karen home. “Maybe the dog is really just lost. Keep your eyes open for Sandy on your walk, tonight.”

Karen got out and held the door open as she leaned in. “Sure. You too. If she did wander off she could be anywhere by now.”

“Talk to you tomorrow.”

Karen nodded and closed the door.

At home, Jean stood and looked out of her garage door. It was late summer and hot. If Sandy was lost, she was going to be thirsty. There were a few water sources, ponds and such, in town. If the dog was going to be anywhere, it should be around the water. She went inside and closed the door. Something to do with Karen tomorrow.

#

The next day they hiked around every pond and stream in town. After a long, hot morning, they stopped at the Highway Diner to eat. Jean bought a paper from the newspaper box despite the fact she knew one was lying in her driveway. She opened it to the want ads and skimmed the page. “Darn. No dog.”

Karen sipped her iced tea. “Well, Margaret did say thieves wouldn’t advertise to sell a dog in its own area.” She sighed. “The dog is probably gone.”

Jean nodded. “Probably down in Phoenix or even Tucson by now.”

“Maybe the police have a handle on this. We should check with Nick.”

“I like checking the police department but I don’t think the Chief of Police is going to be aware of every lost dog report in town.” Jean thought he’d laugh himself silly at them.

Karen shrugged. “Then we’ll ask Paul. He’s not so prickly as Nick is. Anyway, they owe us for helping them with the last murder.”

Jean laughed. “I don’t think getting beaten up by a crazy woman counts as helping.”

“You know what I mean.” Karen laughed too.

“Sure. We can stop by there after lunch and see if Paul can help us out.”

#

At the police department, Lieutenant Paul Oliver came to the window to talk to them. “You want what?”

“We want to see a report on the number of missing dog reports you have.” Karen told him.

He raised an eyebrow. “We don’t track that.”

“You should,” Jean said. “The Humane Society said it’s becoming a problem.”

“Lost dogs?”

“No, stolen dogs. The owners just don’t realize the dogs aren’t lost, they’re stolen.”

Paul rubbed a hand over his sandy-brown crew cut. “Sounds nuts but let me dig around. I’ll let you know.”

Jean and Karen both grinned at him. “Thanks, Paul,” Karen said.

“Talk to Margaret over at the Humane Society. She has the whole story.”

“I’ll do that.”

Jean and Karen left. Jean felt pretty good as they walked to the car. “That’s progress, don’t you think?”

“I do. Paul has always been a good guy. If there’s something, he’ll find it.”

“But what do we do now?” Jean got in the car and clicked the lock to unlock the door for Karen.

Karen got in and put on her seat belt. “How about animal control? We could call them and ask questions.”

“I like it. Your house or mine?”

“Mine. I’ve got a roast in the crockpot I want to check.”

“Fair enough. Let’s go.”

At Karen’s, it took only a second for her to check on her food. She brought the phone book over to the kitchen table with the phone handset and sat down. “Glad I made fresh iced tea this morning.”

Jean nodded. She’d already drank half of her glass. “Me too. I’ve started making fruit water.”

“Fruit water?”

“Yeah, a two-quart pitcher of water, some apple slices, or mint, or lemon, or orange or a mix. Let it set for a bit. Then drink whenever. I get tired of iced tea all the time.” Jean wiped condensation from the glass onto a napkin.

“That’s a great idea. I’ll have to try that.” Karen opened the phone book to the page with town listings. She ran her finger down the page. “Here they are, Animal Control.” She dialed the number and put it on speaker.

 

Thank You!

899 Words

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

 

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Mystery at the Dog Park 1 of 7: Flash Fiction Friday Post

Little Dog by Randy Cockrell

Hi,

I had this idea for a Jean Hays story but it wasn’t enough of a story for even a novelette so I’ve decided to make it a serial short story. Not every section is 1000 words or less. Some run over to 1200 but I didn’t think you all would mind too much.

I hope you enjoy it.

Mystery at the Dog Park

Part 1 of 7

Jean pulled the leash around her body as the lab-pitbull mix lunged forward.

“She’s giving you a run today.” Karen laughed

“It’s not funny.” Jean puffed. The dog was wearing her out. “Can’t wait to get to the dog park and let her run.”

“I hear ya.” Karen stopped to untangle the two Chihuahuas and the Yorkie mix she was walking.

They arrived at the park and herded the dogs through the gate. Karen took her dogs to the small dog enclosure while Jean let her dog loose in the large dog area. They stood next to each other on opposite sides of the fence to talk as the dogs played.

A woman left the group of dog owners at the picnic table provided and came over to them. She handed them a flyer with a picture of her caramel colored cockapoo, Sandy. “Have you seen my dog?”

Jean took the flyer and held it so Karen could see. “No.” She shook her head. “I’m sorry. I haven’t.”

Karen shook her head, too. “No. How long has she been gone?”

“Since yesterday.” The woman sniffed, eyes red, as she scanned the area. “I was talking with the usual people yesterday,” she waved her hand at the group around the table, “while Sandy and the other dogs played. Then, she was just gone when I looked for her.” Her voice quavered. “I don’t know how she got out of the dog park.”

“We’re walking the humane society dogs,” Jean explained. “But we’ll keep an eye out for Sandy.”

Shoulders slumped, the woman nodded. “That’s my number on the bottom. Call anytime if you find her.”

“We will,” Karen said. “Good luck.” They watched her shuffle back to the table. “How awful. I wonder what happened?”

After hearing the woman’s story, Jean looked for her dog, Arthur. She spotted him chasing a squirrel on a tree trunk around and around the tree. It looked to her that the squirrel was teasing the dog on purpose. “It’s not a big dog, probably got through a hole in the fence.”

Karen turned around to watch the dogs she brought. The Chihuahua’s were chasing each other while the Yorkie dug a hole. “Poor woman. I hope the dog doesn’t get caught by a coyote or a hawk. One of my neighbors lost her little dog when an eagle swooped in and plucked it right out of the backyard.”

Jean’s eyes went wide. “That sucks.”

Karen nodded. “Yep.”

Back at the humane society, the women turned the dogs in. It broke Jean’s heart to make Arthur get back in the kennel. They stopped in the office. “Margaret,” Jean pulled the flyer from her pocket and unfolded it. “Have you seen this dog come in?” She handed the shelter manager the paper.

Margaret looked at the picture and shook her head. “Nope. Poor little thing. I had a call from this woman this morning.” She sighed. “I told her to do the flyers. And talk to the neighbors around the park. What I didn’t tell her was that the dog may have been stolen.”

“Stolen? Who would do that?” Jean asked.

Margaret handed the flyer back to Jean. “People who then sell the dog on Craig’s list or in a newspaper ad.”

“Oh no!” Karen looked horrified.

“Yep.” Margaret went back to her desk. “Happens all the time in the bigger cities but we’ve been seeing it more and more up here. There’s a market, especially for little dogs like that one. And the bad guys just scoop up the little ones when no one is looking.”

“They don’t take big dogs?” Jean leaned on the counter.

“Oh, they do. They’ll disguise themselves as handymen or maintenance people and take dogs right out of their backyards. No one pays any attention to those guys coming or going in the neighborhood. Purebred dogs are the target, German Shepherds, Labs of any sort, those kinds of dogs.”

“That happens here?” Jean couldn’t believe that people would just go into someone’s backyard and take another person’s pet.

“Not that one, so much. That’s more in the big cities, too. Also, they disguise themselves as animal control and knock on the door. They tell the owners that a complaint of abuse has been filed and they’re taking the dog under protective custody. They show the owner some sort of legal looking document. In confusion and fear, they hand the dog over planning to go to court and get it straightened out but it’s too late. The dog and the thieves are long gone.

“I would be so ticked!” Karen said.

“Me too. Isn’t there anything that can be done?” Jean asked.

“Not usually. They don’t advertise the dog in the area where it was stolen from so you can’t even check the paper or anything to try and find it.”

“How awful.”

Margaret nodded. “Yep. Unfortunately, little Sandy, there,” she nodded at the flyer in Jean’s hand, “wasn’t microchipped. If she had been, there would be some chance of finding her.”

Jean and Karen said their good-byes and left. “Who knew there was a market for stolen dogs?” Jean drove them both to lunch as was their habit after their turn at walking the humane society inmates.

“I had no idea. I mean, you see dogs up for sale in the paper and on the radio all the time. It never occurred to me they might be stolen.”

“Let’s grab a paper and see if there are any dogs for sale in there.”

Karen nodded. “Good idea. Though the current paper came out Friday and Sandy was stolen yesterday. Tomorrow’s paper would be a better bet.”

“You’re right. Tomorrow we’ll look. In the meantime, let’s call the radio station and see what they have on their ads.”

“Great idea. After lunch though. My tummy’s growling.”

 

Thank You!

974 Words

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

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Author Interviews: Colleen Cross

colleen-author-pic

I’d like to welcome Colleen Cross to my blog today. Colleen Cross writes page-turning thrillers and fun, cozy mysteries. She lives with her family on the West Coast. When she’s not writing, she loves to run, hike, and explore with her rescue dog Jaeger, who reminds her daily that life’s too short to not follow your dreams–or a squirrel or two. Her books are international bestsellers and have been translated into multiple languages with more to come.

I’m sure we’ll have fun today. Let’s get started, shall we?

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

I like to run and hike with my dog, Jaeger. We have fun wearing each other out. 🙂

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

Agatha Christie. Aside from her talent as a mystery writer, she was extremely successful as a businesswoman in an era where women didn’t work. It would be fascinating to get her perspective on things.

3. Coffee, tea, soda or something else?

Strong coffee.

4. What are you working on right now?

witch-you-well-cover

I am writing books 3 and 4 of a humorous witch cozy mystery.

5. How would you describe your writing style? Do you have any advice for a person just beginning their writing career?

Read lots on the craft, join a critique group and write as much, and as regularly, as you can. Practice makes perfect. I would also advise someone just starting out to research their genre by studying bestsellers. You can write what you love, but you also want to be able to see it. There’s a way to do both if you study the market.

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?

I am never short of ideas. I probably have 3-4 ideas a day for different books. Plotting and writing it out is where the real work is for me.

7. Where can we find you on the interwebs?

You can find me here:

Website: http://colleencross.com

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/colleenxcross/

exit-strategy-cover

Thank you so much Colleen. Both of your series sound like a lot of fun. Dear readers, please visit her website at www.colleencross.com and sign up for her twice-yearly private newsletter to hear about new releases and exclusive subscriber-only offers. You can also connect with her on social media: Twitter: @colleenxcross or find her on Goodreads.

 

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Time to Breathe: Monday Blog Post

A beautiful, calm sunrise

Newest News:

Like last week I spent a lot of time this last week working on the Payson Book Festival and the Northern Gila County Fair. But February seems much calmer and less busy than January was. I have had time to catch up on some things, both writing wise and with the book festival and the fair. That makes me happy as those niggling tasks are now done and I can focus on other things.

I’ve been wearing the foot braces every night and while they cause me to wake up when I turn over, they seem to be helping. I continue to do the stretches during the day. Soon, I think, I’ll take walk around the neighborhood to see how my feet respond. It would be nice to get back to hiking regularly.

Mystery at the Book Festival edits were completed last week. I’m holding off sending the book to the editor until I get some money to pay him. That should be soon. In the meantime, I’m talking to someone to do the cover for the book. I’m using Fiverr, and we’ll see how that works out. I’ve never used the site before but I’ve talked to people who have and I’m eager to see how it works out.

 

Giveaways:

My multi-author giveaway called For the Love of Books, Valentines Giveaway is in its final days. The link is http://conniesrandomthoughts.com/giveaways-and-prizes/. Click on the Rafflecopter link. Get in on the opportunity to win $135 in Paypal cash plus prizes from over 40 authors, that’s over 80 prizes! Hurry! This giveaway ends at midnight tomorrow, the 14th.

 

Shout Out:

Colleen Cross is my featured author this week on Wednesday’s Author Interview. A thriller and cozy mystery writer, her books are international bestsellers and have been translated into multiple languages with more to come. Can’t wait for the whole interview? Check out www.colleencross.com to see what she’s up to.

 

Where Will I Be?

Next week on February 23rd, at 5pm Arizona time, I’ll be interviewed on BackPorchWriter.com. This interview is in preparation for the April B2BCyCon, an on-line conference that runs from April 7th to the 10th. Both events are open to readers so as I get closer, I’ll give you more details.

Check my website, http://conniesrandomthoughts.com/where-will-i-be/ for my next engagements. I have contacted both the Phoenix ComiCon (http://www.phoenixcomicon.com/) and the Tucson ComiCon (https://www.facebook.com/TucsonComicCon/) for information about attending their events. It’s still early, they’re not working yet. I’ll keep you posted.

 

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 to be the first to read my books and hear what new books are coming.

 

Newest Book Release:

Mystery in the Woods released on December 24th! I’m pretty excited about it. You can buy it and my other books at: Apple, Amazon, Barnes and Noble, Kobo, and Smashwords, today! You can also see all my books on http://conniesrandomthoughts.com/my-books-and-other-published-work/. If you’ve read any of my books, please drop a short, honest, review on the site where you bought it or on Goodreads. It’s critical to help me promote the books to other readers. Thanks in advance.

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A Little Magic: Flash Fiction Friday Post

Camp Fire by Kiaraz via DeviantArt.com

I just needed a little magic. Just a little. Enough to get the fire started, get the room warm, maybe to save my mother. I heard her moan from her pallet along the wall. I rearranged the wet wood in the fireplace. If I could just get the wood to burn. I could make a little soup, a cup of tea, anything to warm her up. Me too, to be honest.

She moaned again. I knew she had a fever. If the soldiers had just left any of my brothers or sisters behind I wouldn’t be in this fix. But they took all of the people with magic abilities off to fight the war. Father had been taken a year ago. Yesterday, they came for the rest. The wailing and screaming in the village had been horrific. My stomach roiled just thinking about it as I struggled to light the fire.

“Come on.” I willed my shaking hands to strike the flint against the steel but they were too cold. My sister Hilda would have just held her hand over the tiny pile of kindling and it would have burst into flame. A year younger than me she always gave me a hug when she made the fire. It was my job, but she knew I didn’t have any magic. A tear ran down my face. And now she was gone, along with my littlest sister, Maggie, and my big brothers, Todd and Edward. All gone. Dragged away to fight even though Maggie was only eight.

My hands shook more, with anger this time. How were we supposed to plow the fields or plant the crops with so many villagers gone? I glared at the tiny pile in the fireplace, gripping the flint until it cut my hand. The wood smoked then burst into flame. I rocked back from my squat and sat hard on the floor, staring. The flame began to die down and I scrambled to my feet to feed the tiny fire twigs, then sticks, then wood. I piled the wood on, uncaring if I set the house on fire or not. Mother would be warm, at least tonight. I set the kettle on the hob and put the pot on the hook, filled it with water and the jerky and vegetables I’d already prepared. I put two pinches of salt in the pot, unconcerned with where more salt would come from.

Another pot went next to the fire and I filled it with water to warm. Clean water to wipe mother’s face and hands. As I tended her, I finally allowed myself to think about the fire. The mage yesterday took one look at me and passed me by even as the soldiers were dragging my brothers and sisters out of the house. Mother cried out from her sick bed and it broke my heart. There was nothing she could do. She didn’t have any more magic than I did. But, I did have magic. I started a fire!

How had I done it? I just remembered feeling angry. So angry. Rage, that’s what it was. Rage against the king and his stupid war. Rage against the mage and the soldiers. Rage against my mother’s sickness. The water in the bowl I was dipping the rag into began to boil. I dropped the rag into the water and blinked. The water calmed but was hot.

I put the bowl on the table and wrapped my arms around myself. I’d never been so angry before in my life. I did have magic but just a little. I used both hands to wipe the tears from my eyes. So little magic I was of no use to the King but here, well, here I was of use. I wondered how many of the other villagers had tiny sparks of magic?

The next morning I went door to door and asked the remaining people. They shook their heads but I could see in their eyes that they were going to try. The priest, so old that the mage and the soldiers left him behind even though he did have magic, patted me on the shoulder.

“Child. Be careful. Don’t let that rage take over just for a bit of magic.”

He was a fool. All I had left was rage. Hadn’t the King’s men dragged off more than three quarters of our village? “Who will do the plowing and planting, priest? Me? I’m twelve. Mother is sick. The rest of the village is in the same shape I am. Too young, too old, too sick. We’ll starve.”

His eyes filled with tears as he nodded. “True, child. But rage will burn you up.”

“Maybe.” I turned and left.

Mother died not long after I found my rage. It was a hard year. I grew hard with it. We worked together, we survivors. We plowed and planted. We learned to hunt and forage. Winter killed many of us but at the next spring we that remained were stronger. I was leader, even though I was only just come into my womanhood. We gathered wood, nurtured our tiny magics, made plans.

The King lost his war. The new King’s soldiers came through and saw the pitiful remnant we were and went away. We grew stronger. We had children. We made contacts throughout the land with others like us. We hid our tiny magics until it was time. Then we attacked. The mages first, then the new king and his lords. It didn’t take long. They underestimated us. We had no great magic.

I was named Leader, I refused to be called Queen. Many wanted to kill everyone with magic. I said no. Would we kill ourselves? I set the cleverest of us to creating weapons that needed no magic. We would be ready when and if the time came, magic or not.

 

Thank You!

981 Words

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

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February – It’s a Hoot!: Monday Blog Post

 

Newest News:

I spent a lot of time this last week working on the Payson Book Festival and the Northern Gila County Fair. For the book festival, I completed the grant application and sent it in then talked with the director of the grant and received some tips on tweaking the grant application. I did that and sent it back. Authors are signing up for the book festival like gang-busters. I feel certain that the new on-line application and PayPal credit card process is making it so much easier for authors to sign up. I know I enjoyed it when I put my application in. For the fair, I contacted a local new shop owner that sells bath and body stuff made by local artisans. It’s a lovely little shop and she agreed to work with me to set up criteria for judging homemade soaps, lotions and other things in our fair’s Homemaking Arts department. I’m looking forward to seeing what our local crafters are doing in this area.

Hubby and I spent the day at home on Sunday and watched the Super Bowl with just the two of us. We had snacks and while hubby was interested in the game, I was more interested in the commercials. That didn’t stop us from picking opposite sides with him cheering on Atlanta and me the Patriots. It’s hardly any fun if there’s no opposition, right?

I broke down and bought two foot-torture devices. They have a hard plastic top that goes on top of the foot. Then there are straps to Velcro around the leg above the ankle and then around the ball of the foot to keep your foot in a 45-degree positon. I use one on each foot and sleep with them on my feet. You’re right, they catch in the blankets and wake me up when I turn in my sleep. On the other hand, after three nights using them, my feet do feel better. I’ll keep using them then try another walk at the end of the week. I’m missing out on great hiking and want to get back to it. Keep your fingers crossed for me.

Good progress was made on Mystery at the Book Festival. I finished my paper edits and have started on the research edits. Those are places in the manuscript where I need to do more research on what a real police department or ambulance drivers would do. There are the notes, also, where I realized I changed names in the middle of the book, mention something from book 1 that I need to look up to be sure I have the details right, and spots where I mention the characters saying they’d do something but I have to make sure it happened or at least is mentioned again to tie up all of the loose ends and questions I brought up. It’s a lot of detail to keep straight but I don’t want to send it to my editor with a bunch of stupid errors in it.

 

Giveaways:

My science fiction giveaway ends today over on BookSweeps, https://www.booksweeps.com/enter-win-45-science-fiction-adventure-books/. This is your last chance to enter to win my book or 44 others and a grand prize of a Kindle Fire! Click on the link and enter now. Come back and leave a message when you do.

My multi-author giveaway called For the Love of Books, Valentines Giveaway is in full swing. The link is http://conniesrandomthoughts.com/giveaways-and-prizes/. Click on the Rafflecopter link. This is a short giveaway because we’re lining up one for St. Patrick’s Day. So get in on the opportunity to win $135 in Paypal cash plus prizes from over 40 authors, that’s over 80 prizes! Hurry! This giveaway ends at midnight the 14th.

 

Shout Out:

Are you figuring out your travel plans for summer yet? Consider coming to beautiful central Arizona. The Payson Book Festival is July 22nd this year. Check out http://www.paysonbookfestival.org/ for details about authors at the event and the tab labled Area Information, in the area. Camping, hiking, natural wonders and more await the savvy traveler.

 

Where Will I Be?

On February 23rd, at 5pm Arizona time, I’ll be interviewed on BackPorchWriter.com. This interview is in preparation for the April B2BCyCon, an on-line conference that runs from April 7th to the 10th. Both events are open to readers so as I get closer, I’ll give you more details.

Check my website, http://conniesrandomthoughts.com/where-will-i-be/ for my next engagements. I have contacted both the Phoenix ComiCon (http://www.phoenixcomicon.com/) and the Tucson ComiCon (https://www.facebook.com/TucsonComicCon/) for information about attending their events. It’s still early, they’re not working yet. I’ll keep you posted.

 

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 to be the first to read my books and hear what new books are coming.

 

Newest Book Release:

Mystery in the Woods released on December 24th! I’m pretty excited about it. You can buy it and my other books at: Apple, Amazon, Barnes and Noble, Kobo, and Smashwords, today! You can also see all my books on http://conniesrandomthoughts.com/my-books-and-other-published-work/. If you’ve read any of my books, please drop a short, honest, review on the site where you bought it or on Goodreads. It’s critical to help me promote the books to other readers. Thanks in advance.

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Rain Wet Earth: Flash Fiction Friday Post

Yard River by Randy Cockrell

A monsoon storm blew in. Great dark clouds piled up over the escarpment and filled the sky, spilling down into the valley. Rumbles of thunder and flashes of lightning punctuated the now dark day. The air began to cool—a relief from the heat and humidity.

Rain began to fall. Fat, heavy drops coming one at a time, then the sky opened and water gushed down as though from a fire hose. The gullies and gutters filled and overflowed. I watched from my window, closed against the wind-whipped water. It was over in a few minutes and I stepped out of my front door. The smell of rain wet earth drifted by as the sun broke through the racing clouds and made me want to go camping.

My husband came out and put his arm around my shoulders. “That didn’t last long.”

“Never does. I feel like going camping.”

He nodded. “It’s been a while, hasn’t it?”

“The camping box is ready. We just need to load it and the tent into the car and get some groceries.”

A grin spread across his face. “No plan? Just go?”

“Yes. A few days in the outdoors will do us both good.”

I got a squeeze. “Sure. Why not. Let’s go camping!”

The still wet pine in the front yard sparkled like Christmas in the sunlight as I turned to go inside to pack. The scent of rain wet earth followed me into the house.

 

Thank You!

243 Words

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

 

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Author Interview: James Stack

I want to give a warm welcome to James Stack, a non-fiction author. James lives in the lovely and gentle state of Vermont and his memoir, WORLD’S FAIR, and collection of poetry, PLEASURES & SEASONS OF VERMONT, were published in 2013. His blog, Postcards From Lebanon, about his experience with chemotherapy, appeared on The Huffington Post during 2013/2014. His poems have appeared in ENGLYN: Journal of Four Line Poetry, the Maine Review (Grand Prize winner), America Is Not the World (Pankhearst Anthology), and Ash & Bones, among others. His short stories have appeared in the Maine Review and Five2One Magazine and been semifinalists in the New Millennium Writings and Cutthroat contests.

We’re so glad to have you here, James.

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

This is an interesting question. It has caused me to think about what I do that could be considered a hobby since everything I do is fun. After all, the definition of a hobby is: “an activity done regularly in one’s leisure time for pleasure.” At my age, all the episodes of my life are considered leisure time, especially the time during which I write. As such, all that I now do could be considered a hobby. With that said, some things may reside in that niche more than others. I have to say that cooking – the planning, shopping and preparation – would have to be my favorite hobby.

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

There isn’t one person who would fit this bill. There are so many. It’s interesting as I think about it. I would have to insist on some requirements. The person would have to be willing to talk to me and be honest. I say this because as I thought about spending the afternoon with my father, he would have been silent and lied as he had in life. All questions would be allowed. There should be nothing off limits, as my mother would have told me, “There are some things you don’t ask in polite society.” There could be no judgmental replies by either party. This is important because time can be wasted on defending topics.

Then it came to me. A mythical bolt of lightening struck. I’d like to spend a sunny, warm, pleasant afternoon with my pre-teen self, after my parents divorced.

I’d love to tell that short, skinny, acne-faced, hormonal boy that not only does life gets better, but I’d want to be convincing since I know what I have in front of me. To encourage the once extrovert in myself that had been cowered to come out of his shell and live life to the fullest so long as we/I do no harm to anyone else. Begin reading everything you/I/we can get our hands on and don’t stop because it will help us be a more knowledgeable and better person/writer. This part of my/our time together should never come across as my preaching to myself, as I know my younger self would never have listened. It would have to be an intimate dialogue where I could share with the pre-teen I had become that there are so many glorious experiences that I/we will have and not to spend so much time worrying about what might have been or will be. Simply know that it will be glorious! I could then put my soul to rest.

3. Coffee, tea, soda or something else?

Tea is my drink of choice during the morning, followed by well water from lunch until dinnertime, during which wine becomes my drink of choice. After dinner it is more water before bed and through the night. My favorite tea is from India – Assam Bop – whose botanical name is Camellia Sinensis. I do not like coffee. In fact, the smell of a fresh pot of coffee makes me ill. I do like the odor of coffee beans, but not the brewed aroma. I used to drink more than my share of diet Pepsi. I will still drink it, but only when traveling or skiing. I allow myself to luxuriate in the treat of a diet Pepsi soda at only those times. I could easily fall off the non-soda wagon and partake once again, but I do fight the urge every day.

4. What are you working on right now?

Funny you should ask. My primary focus is a novel, tentatively entitled The Wycliffe Six. It is a New Adult, coming-of-age, mini mystery that has as its themes friendship, bigotry and betrayal. I’m also working on a series of short stories with my prior Vermont home, Popplewood Farm, as the common theme. I also have several flash fiction pieces in draft form. In reserve I have three collections of poetry hovering around the lower limbs of the maple trees. With that said, I’m hoping to soon begin querying agents about my novel.

5. How would you describe your writing style?

I’m actually glad you asked this question, as I believe it crosses several genres. As such, it is hard to classify. As for how I would describe it, my pen (actually a keyboard) flows from personal experiences. Those that are considered non-fiction are based upon the truth as I lived it. The ones that are fiction have elements of truth mixed in with sensational text to embellish and enhance what I might have experienced or read. I consider myself a realist with a twist. My memoir was from my memory; my novel is expanded realism; my poetry is highlighted life; while my short stories are capable of incorporating fantasy since they may be told from the perspective of a talking bird or ghost.

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

I have three pieces of advice for anyone beginning their writing career:

  1. Read everything on which you can get your hands. The classics are a good place to start. The books that received awards, like the Man Booker International Prize, PEN/Faulkner Award For Fiction, Pulitzer Prize, Nobel Prize in Literature Pushcart Prize and many more. Also incorporate books within your genre. For instance, if you are a romance novelist, you will want to read those that I don’t believe have won any of the awards I’ve mentioned.
  2. Write at least 500 words every day without editing (editing can be done later). In order to get started, think of them as flash fiction pieces, even if based on a fact of life. Many terrific short stories and novels have come from this exercise.
  3. Do not fear failure or being declined. This is what others call rejection. It’s part of the life of a writer (also being human). Put yourself out there, starting with having other writers/editors read your work. Look for honest feedback. Failure only makes us stronger and better writers.

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?

I have to say I do not actively look for writing ideas. My past and day-to-day living have provided so many experiences from which to draw stories. Some are invented and some are based on truth, yet embellished, while still others are drawn from the actual instances in which I breathed. I have traveled extensively, and I have yet to write any stories about the places I’ve visited. I don’t lack for ideas. My struggle is with turning those ideas into a viable story that someone might want to read. My life, to my way of thinking, is not boring; but when I tell a story about it, most times there needs to be a twist or kick to make it interesting to someone else. The truth of the matter is that life is often stranger than fiction.

8. Where can we find you on the interwebs?

I don’t yet have an author webpage, but the following are links to where you can find me or follow me.

http://www.siroliverofskygatefarm.com (blog)

https://www.facebook.com/JamesStackAuthor (facebook)

On twitter @SkygateStack

World’s Fair

Pleasures & Seasons of Vermont

Thank you so much, James for being on today’s interview with us. I know I appreciate getting some tips from a non-fiction author.

Readers, check out James’ social media. You’ll be glad you did.

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30 Day Status: Monday Blog Post

I also went to Quartzsite AZ last week. This is me behind a giant black quartz.

Newest News:

Not a good trip to NY. Instead of an 80th birthday party I spent the weekend in the hospital with my mom. She’s released now but still is suffering from pain. We’re doing what we can and hope we can get her strong again.

Now I’m back and there’s a lot going on. I hope your January has proven to be healthful, happy, and productive. See the Giveaway section below. So many ways to win!

I’m prepping for February. I host my bunko group on Thursday so some house cleaning is in order. The Payson Book Festival author registrations are in full swing. I’m still working on getting healthier in 2017. I did some walking over the weekend and my feet were not happy with me. That means I’ll have to keep working on getting my feet (plantar faciitis) in shape so I can make some progress.

I’ve started the edits on Mystery at the Book Festival but with all of the travel, not much was done. I’m focusing on getting that done in the next week and sent to my editor. I’ve been brainstorming my Christmas story and have come up with names and several scenarios that may take the story out for some years. I hope so. I also need to plot out my next Zoe Ohale story to write for April’s Camp NaNo. Lots and lots to do in the upcoming month.

 

Giveaways:

I have a multi-author Instafreebie giveaway going for Mystery at the Fair. Go to www.annertan.com/free and you can pick from 36 free stories. Just click on the book cover to go get your free book. This ends on the 31st so don’t delay!

A science fiction giveaway starts today over on BookSweeps, https://www.booksweeps.com/enter-win-45-science-fiction-adventure-books/. Have you read my first Zoe Ohale book yet? Now’s the time to win my book or others and a grand prize of a Kindle Fire! Click on the link and enter now. Come back and leave a message when you do.

My multi-author giveaway called For the Love of Books, Valentines Giveaway is in full swing. The link is http://conniesrandomthoughts.com/giveaways-and-prizes/. Click on the Rafflecopter link. This is a short giveaway because we’re lining up one for St. Patrick’s Day. So get in on the opportunity to win $135 in Paypal cash plus prizes from over 40 authors, that’s over 80 prizes! Hurry!

 

Shout Out:

This week’s shout out is for author James Stack. An award-winning fiction and non-fiction author, poet and resident of Vermont, James will be on my Author Interviews on Wednesday. Can’t wait? You can find him at https://www.facebook.com/JamesStackAuthor.

 

Where Will I Be?

On February 23rd, at 5pm Arizona time, I’ll be interviewed on BackPorchWriter.com. This interview is in preparation for the April B2BCyCon, an on-line conference that runs from April 7th to the 10th. Both events are open to readers so as I get closer, I’ll give you more details.

Check my website, http://conniesrandomthoughts.com/where-will-i-be/ for my next engagements. I have contacted both the Phoenix ComiCon (http://www.phoenixcomicon.com/) and the Tucson ComiCon (https://www.facebook.com/TucsonComicCon/) for information about attending their events. It’s still early, they’re not working yet. I’ll keep you posted.

 

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 to be the first to read my books and hear what new books are coming.

 

Newest Book Release:

Mystery in the Woods released on December 24th! I’m pretty excited about it. You can buy it and my other books at: Apple, Amazon, Barnes and Noble, Kobo, and Smashwords, today! You can also see all my books on http://conniesrandomthoughts.com/my-books-and-other-published-work/. If you’ve read any of my books, please drop a short, honest, review on the site where you bought it or on Goodreads. It’s critical to help me promote the books to other readers. Thanks in advance.

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