Gardening, Conferences and More!: Monday Blog Post

Connie vs Horton Creek taken by Randy Cockrell

While the mid-west and east coast are taking a major weather beating, here in central Arizona the weather couldn’t be more perfect. Yesterday hubby and I took a short hike on the very popular Horton Creek trail. The creek was running high and the above picture is me, trying to get across. I made it that time but when we came back my left leg didn’t want to be the first on that skinny log and I ended up crossing through the water a few feet downstream. Since we were heading home, I didn’t mind my pant legs being wet. Today my feet are a putting up a bit of a fuss about having to had to go on a 2 mile hike but it’s not too bad. A little stretching will take care of it.

The organizer for a Nook promo I mentioned last week is sending a list of authors and books for the promo. I sent in for Mystery at the Book Festival. I imagine we’ll here soon if Nook agrees to run the promo with us. Stay tuned for that.

Peach Blossoms

The roses did get trimmed, all but one. I have to get to it this week. I haven’t stopped at the hardware store yet for the potatoes.  I see my nectarine tree is already starting to bloom. The peach and pear and apples won’t be far behind. This is a picture from last year.

Have you been reading my serial, Mystery at the Dog Park? The last two episodes are coming up this Friday and next. I’m using pictures of dogs up for adoption from the Payson Humane Society to illustrate each section. Links to each section are at the top of each post so it’s easy to go back to the first episodes and catch up. Enjoy.

Giveaways:

My multi-author giveaway is called Luck O’the Readers, St. Patrick’s Day Giveaway is going strong. The link is http://conniesrandomthoughts.com/giveaways-and-prizes/. Click on the Rafflecopter link. Get in on the opportunity to win $100 in Paypal cash plus prizes from over 35 authors, that’s over 70 prizes! Hurry! This giveaway ends at midnight March 17th.

 

Shout Out:

Author Anna Payne

This week’s shout out goes to Anna Payne. She’s an author of Christian Cozy Mysteries, the Planted Flowers series. If you can’t wait until Wednesday’s Author Interview, check out her website at apayne.com.

 

Where Will I Be?

Check my website, http://conniesrandomthoughts.com/where-will-i-be/ for my next engagements.

In April, I’ll be part of B2BCyCon, an on-line conference that runs from April 7th to the 10th. Events are open to readers and here’s a link to my Science Fiction Author Showcase: https://www.goodreads.com/topic/show/18367091-2017-connie-cockrell-science-fiction-author-showcase. On this link I’ll be talking about the whole Brown Rain series and my other books in general. I may even offer up a prize. The link was just established so I don’t have anything in there yet. But I will!

I’m also on a scifi webinar panel discussion on March 22nd at 1pm Eastern time titled The new age with Doctor Who, Star Trek, and Star Wars? Are we looking at a new audience? And another panel on March 25th at 7pm eastern titled Science Fiction doesn’t need to be factural! It’s Fiction! Vs Science Fiction must have accurate science! These last two webinars occur early and recorded then replayed during the con so you have two chances to listen in! How cool is that! I’ll publish more info as I get it.

I have contracted for a booth at Phoenix ComiCon with some other author friends. The ComiCon is May 25 – 28th and you can find details for tickets, events, special guests, at http://phoenixcomicon.com/. I would be so excited to see you in the Exhibits Hall.

July 22nd is the Payson Book Festival. I have to say, this festival has turned into quite a thing. Over 600 people came to it last year. The tables have already been filled with authors. You can find out who is attending at www.PaysonBookFestival.org. The event is free to visitors and starts at 9am and runs until 3:30pm. Details about the location, video from last year, and more, can be found on the site.

 

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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Death in the Desert: Friday Flash Fiction Post

Desert

Desert

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

#

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

 

 

 

Thank You!

987 Words

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

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Keeping up the Pace: Monday’s Blog Post

D'Elen McClain at APW January meeting

D’Elen McClain at APW January meeting

Hiking and bronchitis update. I did not go on last Tuesday’s hike. As expected, the water was running high and fast. At least two hikers slipped on wet, algae-covered rocks and landed in the stream. I’m still coughing. It seems as though I cannot get my lungs clear. I continue to take the allergy meds the doc gave me and use the puffer to open airways. The hope is that with the airways open, the congestion left in my lungs can be coughed up. I hope so. I’m beginning to worry about using that puffer every day. This Tuesday’s hike is to the south of Payson. I’m planning on going on that. I haven’t been hiking since the week after Christmas. I need to get out of the house!

At last week’s monthly Arizona Professional Writer (APW) Rim Country Chapter meeting our speaker, D’Elen McClain, spoke on using social media to build our author platforms. We had a great turn out for the talk and a lot of enthusiasm from several people on using Twitter. The Thursday APW Phoenix chapter meeting panel on self-publishing was also very well attended. There was a lot of interest by traditionally published authors and even self-published authors on what our experiences were with the process.

My story, The Reunion, was rejected but FreezeFrameFiction.com included their reader’s comments on what they felt didn’t work with the story. That kind of feedback is invaluable and I’m very grateful that the publisher took the time to provide it. If you’re interested, you can find more about the company at http://freezeframefiction.com/ or on Facebook at facebook.com/freezeframefiction.

Kindred Spirits is still in edits. I’m glad my editor is so thorough but it takes time to get through everything. I’m still looking for people interested in receiving an Advance Reader Copy (ARC) for a review. If you’d like to be an ARC reader and do a review for me, let me know. You do not have to have read the first two books of the series to enjoy the third book. I may have it whipped into shape by the end of January for a February release. So if you’d like an advance copy, let me know today!

Mystery in the Woods is moving forward. After a review of my scene cards, I realized one of the plot lines had been left hanging. I am fleshing out that part of the story and continuing to write on it. My enthusiasm for my Jean Hays story has been renewed. I hope to have this book out in late May so I can bring it to the June MysteryCon in Scottsdale, June 3-4.  More on the conference later in this post.

Vision Quest, the short story set in the Brown Rain series I mentioned last week is finished. Not only was it a fun little story but I used it to foreshadow upcoming series books. When the anthology comes out, I’ll let you know so you can buy a copy.

My next Author Interview posts Wednesday, January 27th, and is on author Katharina Gerlach. I hope you enjoy reading about Katharina as much as I did.

The Lovestruck Authors Giveaway is well underway. There are over 40 authors involved in this giveaway so there are books and prizes galore! I have put up my book, Recall, signed, as my first prize and an Amazon Gift card as my second prize. The grand prize is $150 in Paypal cash.  Go to www.conniesrandomthoughts.com/giveaways to enter the Rafflecopter.  I cannot express how much I appreciate all of you who sign up for my website, newsletter, Amazon Author page and Facebook page. Thanks for participating.

I’ve updated my Where Will I Be page on my website. The MysteryCon I mentioned above is on there with details about how to attend. Also listed are all of my planned January Jones, Sharing Success Stories, web-radio interviews. As other events come up, I’ll post them there. Oh! Just saying that made me remember that I didn’t put the Payson Book Festival on there. The festival is on July 23rd, 2016 again at the Gila Community College campus. I hope you can make it here. We already have a fantastic array of award winning authors attending, some from last year and there are several new authors attending this year. Mark your calendar. I’d love to see you at our Book Festival.

I put out the January newsletter on Saturday, the 23rd. I have a couple of contests in there. Click here to sign up for my newsletter. If you missed it, leave a comment in the sign-up form and I’ll send you January’s newsletter. I make special offers to my newsletter people that I do not make on the website blog posts. If you like the content, please encourage your friends to sign up, the newsletter is shareable, send it to whomever you think will like it. You’ve already missed out on two great offers. Sign up now so you don’t miss out.

Mystery at the Fair released July 15th! I’m pretty excited about it. You can buy it and my other books at: Apple, Amazon, Barnes and Noble, Kobo, 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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Writing, Meetings, Personal Appearance: Monday Blog Post

Draft front cover: Kindred Spirits

Draft front cover: Kindred Spirits

I’m still recovering from bronchitis. However, on Sunday, I went with the morning walk group and even though it was thirty-seven degrees, didn’t cough all that much. The walk was about three miles. I’m thinking about doing the hike on Tuesday with the Payson Packer C group. That’s the group I usually hike with and which my hubby leads. We’re going south, where it’s warmer but into a canyon with a year round stream. Since snow is still melting off of the mountains, I know that stream is going to be running high and we have to cross it several times. Hmm, I’m up for it breathing-wise but do I want to chance getting wet in an icy cold stream. I’ll decide Tuesday morning, I think.

Other fun stuff this week includes my usual Monday morning meeting with three other authors that live here in Payson. I love our Power Hour meeting. Also, this week is the Tuesday hike which I’ve already mentioned, and Wednesday is the monthly Arizona Professional Writer (APW) Rim Country Chapter meeting. We have a great speaker, D’Elen McClain, who’s going to speak on using social media to build our author platforms. It should be fun. Then on Thursday, I’m at the APW Phoenix chapter meeting where I’m on a panel with three other authors to talk about self-publishing. Full details are here.

My story, Bell Ring, was rejected again and is out again. My poem was rejected as was Eavesdroppers. I’ve sent Eavesdroppers back out. It’s harder to find a good poetry market. Cross your fingers for me that they’re all accepted. Kindred Spirits came back from the editor’s hands on Sunday morning. I took a brief look at the edits on Sunday but I’ll be using this week and next to make changes. I’m also looking for reviewers to send an Advance Reader Copy (ARC) for a review. If you’d like to be an ARC reader and do a review for me, let me know. You do not have to have read the first two books of the series to enjoy the third book. I may have it whipped into shape by the end of January for a February release. So if you’d like an advance copy, let me know today! Above is a draft of the front cover. What do you think?

I re-read my unfinished draft of Mystery in the Woods and am pleasantly surprised at how much it doesn’t suck. I distinctly remember being very discouraged with it in July, part of my reluctance to get back into it. Now that I know it isn’t as bad as I remembered, I can get going on it again I’d like to have that first draft completed by the end of January. I know that’s ambitious but it’s already at 35,000 words, halfway done.

I’ve started a new short story, Vision Quest. It’s set in my Brown Rain series and Alyssa is heading off on a vision quest in Spring, just before they leave their winter home with the Ogonqwa in the Kindred Spirits book. The story is for an anthology being put together by fellow students in a recent on-line class for building our author platforms.  The theme is Journeys and what better story for me than one set in my Brown Rain universe where every book is a journey? The deadline for submission is end of March but I know I’ll have the story done long before that deadline.

Last Wednesday (the 13th) my new website feature, author interviews, went live. The first author was B. C. Mathews. She was a wonderful visitor to my website. I hope you enjoyed reading about her. I’m posting an interview twice a month, so the next one will be January 27th, Katharina Gerlach. At the end of the interviews are links to each author’s website, Amazon page or wherever else they have stories for you to read. I hope you enjoy reading them as much as I am enjoying having these excellent authors on my site. Enjoy!

As soon as the Santa’s Christmas giveaway was over, the Lovestruck Authors Giveaway began. There are over 40 authors involved in this giveaway so there are books and prizes galore! I have put up my book, Recall, as my first prize and an Amazon Gift card as my second prize. The grand prize is $150 in Paypal cash.  Go to www.conniesrandomthoughts.com/giveaways to enter the Rafflecopter.  I cannot express how much I appreciate all of you who sign up for my website, newsletter, Amazon Author page and Facebook page. Thanks for participating.

Last week I mentioned I opened up my Instagram account. I’ve also opened a Periscope account. I haven’t posted a video yet, though. Do any of you use Periscope? Maybe you use Youtube? Do you like watching videos from your fav authors? If you do, what would you like an author to talk about? Maybe you’d like something more interactive, like a Google Hangout chat? Tell me what you think.

January’s newsletter is coming out soon. Click here to sign up for my newsletter. I make special offers to my newsletter people that I do not make on the website blog posts. If you like the content, please encourage your friends to sign up, the newsletter is shareable, send it to whomever you think will like it. Don’t delay signing up, you’ve already missed out on two great offers. Sign up now so you don’t miss out.

Mystery at the Fair released July 15th! I’m pretty excited about it. You can buy it and my other books at: Apple, Amazon, Barnes and Noble, Kobo, 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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Jaguar Tale: Flash Fiction Friday Post

jaguar by paperdollll via DeviantArt.com

jaguar by paperdollll via DeviantArt.com

Emily thanked the staff at the Fred Lawrence Whipple Observatory and waved as she headed down the mountain. Mt Hopkins wasn’t a cake walk. Neither was nearby Mount Wrightson but she wanted pictures of the elusive jaguar and this was the only place in the contiguous United States that there had been recent sightings.

She hefted her backpack, now filled with five gallons of water, into a more comfortable spot and edged her way down the mountainside. It was early April and already the days were hot here at the southern border of Arizona. That meant she didn’t need a sleeping bag, she was making do with an ultralight blanket, compass on her pack strap and topo map tucked into the outside pocket of her cargo pants. Food and a backpacking stove were pretty much all else in the pack. She carried a survival knife on her hip and had two hiking poles, to help her navigate up and down the crags and canyons of the Coronado National Forest.

Emily wanted to find a jaguar in the U.S. Her whole master’s thesis was on the mating habits of the jag and the environment a mating pair had to have to succeed. Most of her studies had to be done in Mexico or further south where habitat still existed for her beloved cats—the third biggest cat in the world and the apex predator feline in the New World. She wanted them back in her own country where their ancient range started north of Flagstaff, west to California and east into New Mexico.

She struggled down the mountain to the gullies and canyons that lay like folds in the earth where water ran, from snow melt and the occasional spring. This is where the cat would be. Where water and prey could be found. In South America, the jaguar hunted riversides. Here, the cats hunted waterways, even if there wasn’t apparent flowing water. Javalina, rabbit, even desert tortoises were prey and Emily thought there was a good chance if she could wait out her water supply, to catch a glimpse of her favorite animal.

“You’re going into the wilderness with just a knife?” her mother had exclaimed. “Isn’t that cat about two hundred pounds?” Her voice went up an octave. “Take a gun for pity’s sake.”

“Mom, do you know how much five gallons of water weighs? Forty pounds. A gun is too heavy. Besides, I have to take my camera, too. What with the lenses, that’s another eight pounds.”

She rolled her eyes. “You’re gonna get eaten.”

I shrugged as I tucked my baggies of dehydrated meals into the outer pack pockets. The whole inside of the pack would be full of water. “Then I’ll be eaten.” I grinned at her. “But I’ll have great pictures of the jag and will have fed an endangered animal.”

At the moment, my biggest danger was in falling off of Mount Hopkins. Near the bottom, sweaty and covered in scratches from the acacia and random cactus, I made camp early along a wash that had multiple game tracks. Jaguars hunt at dusk and dawn. I wanted to be set up in a blind, camera ready before the sun set.

I sat in my blind, freezing at night but comfortable during the day, for two days catching nothing but pictures of fat javelina families and smaller prey animals. A coyote stopped once to stare at me but moved on when I whispered hello. On day three, I moved to another canyon. There was an actual trickle of water running through this one. I filtered water and treated it, extending my stay in the forest and set up my blind. I took lots of bird pictures, mice, rabbits, coyotes, a lovely Gila monster, and several other animals, but no jaguar. After two days, I moved on.

The next canyon had no running water and I was down to my last two and a half gallons. I’d cut my food into half rations since the tiny stream earlier had extended my stay. I ignored my stomach’s protests and hunkered down to watch. More pictures of creatures passing by but no jag. It was impossible I thought, two mornings later. Without the water, there was no way to stay any longer. By now I was at the southern edge of the park. A single track dirt road was only two miles away that led back to the west and I19. Two quarts of water was going to have to get me there.

It was after eight when I reached the dirt road and turned west. I loved how the morning sun cast dark shadows across the face of the Santa Rita Mountains. I was looking upslope and noticed a movement among the scruffy juniper and oak. I stopped to stare. My heart began to race. There, just up the hill, a jaguar stepped out from behind a scrub oak and turned its head to stare at me. From my position, I couldn’t tell how big it was or even if it was a male or female. Slowly I brought my camera up to my eye. The cat stood, as though it were waiting for me. I took four, rapid-fire pictures, then the animal sprang up the hillside and disappeared over the shoulder. I tried to get shots of that graceful uphill run but I knew before I looked that they were blurry.

My walk back to the highway was spent glorying in the sight of that magnificent, regal animal, remembering every detail. At home my thesis advisor told me to use the blurred photos as well. “We get so few,” she told me as she gently touched the printed photos. “Let’s use every one to help save this magnificent creature.”

As for me, I fall asleep every night, remembering how the jaguar leapt up the hill, powerful and graceful, king of the desert.

 

The End

992 Words

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

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Flash Fiction Friday Story: Thanks

Rugged terrain by Connie Cockrell

Rugged terrain by Connie Cockrell

Elsa leaned for a moment against the tree trunk. The rough bark scratched her arm where her sleeve had been torn. She didn’t care. She had so many scratches, bruises, burns, and she was pretty sure broken ribs, that one more didn’t matter.

The urge to slide down the trunk and sit was overwhelming. Three days it’d been since the crash. At least she thought it was three days. Things were getting fuzzy. Her last drink of water was two days ago and her tongue seemed permanently stuck to the roof of her mouth. Elsa supposed she should be grateful. As the only one to climb out of the plane wreckage alive, she was grateful; at least she was three days ago. Now she wondered about God’s sense of humor.

The burn on her back was about the only thing keeping her warm and the sun was setting again. She thought hard. It was day three, wasn’t it? Elsa shook her head in an effort to clear her mind but that was a waste of calories.

I should have stayed at the wreckage, she thought. It was sending a lot of smoke into the air. Someone would have seen it. And when we were late, someone would have come looking. Justin filed a flight plan. Tears leaked from her eyes at the thought of her co-workers, Justin, Samantha and Harry lost in the fire. She’d come to, coughing on the smoke, the small plane upside down. Releasing her seat belt she’d fallen on Justin’s seat back. That caused the cracked ribs. The scratches were from trying to get out of the plane over Justin’s body. Sam and Harry, well, Sam, beside her, had a smashed forehead. Harry, she couldn’t tell in her rush to escape. None of them moved.

It was a miracle she got out. Justin’s door was jammed. She didn’t want to think about how she’d had to sit in his lap to kick the door. Elsa shoved the thought out of her mind and began her stagger down the mountain. Go downhill she remembered from the survival shows on TV. She’s never thought she’d need that information. The burn on her back hurt. She received that as she ran from the plane. It wasn’t far or fast enough. The thing blew up and a piece of the fuselage hit her in the back, knocking her over and setting her shirt on fire. She rolled in the dirt as she’d been taught but the problem remained. By day the flies bit the burn, making the misery even worse.

If I could just find some water. She was so tired and thirsty she didn’t even care about her stomach. It had stopped growling yesterday. One thing off of her mind at any rate. Elsa watched as the sun dropped behind the trees. There was a last moment of beauty as the rays shot through the pine boughs creating a cathedral effect.

Get moving, she told herself. Find a clearing. Maybe a plane or helicopter will come by. She’d been hearing planes and helicopters for the last two days but none had come in her direction. Elsa made her tired feet move. They hurt. Actually they hurt all the way to her hips. She stumbled over a root and landed on her hands and knees, the root digging into her ankle. Sure, God, pile it on. Getting to her feet again was an effort. One Elsa wasn’t sure she wanted to make any longer.

Okay, she bargained with herself. Keep going downhill till it’s dark, then you can sleep. Elsa stumbled down the hill, ricocheting from tree to tree. When it was dark, she sank down next to another trunk. It was smooth so it might have been an aspen. All she cared about was that it not scratch her.

The night was spent curled up in a ball shivering. It was cold, sure, but she knew she had a temperature. The wounds were getting to her. Infection, probably. Elsa sighed as she woke to the sun rising through the trees. It wouldn’t matter. She’d be dead today from dehydration. She used the tree trunk to stand up. Her guess last night was right, it was an aspen.

Struggling to stay upright she shuffled down the hill, the leaves making a sh, sh, sh, sound as her sneakers moved through them. It took her a long time to realize that the pounding wasn’t in her head, it was above her. She looked up. Overhead was a helicopter and unaware, she’d entered a clearing. A shot of adrenaline swept through her. Elsa waved both arms, but a croak was all she could manage as a yell. The machine flew by.

They didn’t see me. She sank to the ground, the dry grass jabbing her in the legs and butt. The tiny stabs were the final insult. Elsa lay down on her side, too tired and thirsty to go on. The thump, thump, thump returned. She shaded her eyes. The helicopter was circling over the clearing. Someone waved out of the window.

Elsa waved back, then dropped her hand. It was too heavy to hold up. Soon a second chopper appeared overhead. This time a line was thrown out and a person in orange zipped down the line on the other side of the clearing.

Thank you, Elsa thought. Thank you.

 

The End

899 Words

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

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Flash Fiction Friday Story: Eternal Water

Water, Fall, Waterfall, Randy Cockrell

Water Fall by Randy Cockrell

It had been a hot and muggy July and Mom and Dad had taken us to the shore for the first week of August. Not just any shore, we were in Maine and the water was so cold you could only go into the ocean to your knees before you turned blue as the sky and had to come back out.

I was thirteen and feeling too old to play with the little kids but not old enough to just swim out like my teen-aged cousins. So there I was; wading in to my knees until my toes went numb then back out to the beach to sit on my blanket and dig those frozen toes into the hot sand.

After two days of that, Dad asked if we wanted to go for a hike. There was a nearby national park we could drive to and a waterfall to visit with a pool at the bottom, perfect for swimming. My older brother wanted to stay at the beach with our male cousins. The female cousins wanted to stay at the beach, too. I’d seen them flirting with some boys their age. It seemed they were much more interested in that than a change of view.

So Dad and I climbed into the car with our hiking boots, swim suits on underneath the hiking clothes, and drove to the woods. After we parked, we stopped to put on socks and boots. Even in the dirt lot I could feel myself relaxing. The ocean was noisy with the wind and the surf crashing and the screaming of little kids as the waves washed over tiny feet for the first time. The woods were quiet with bird song, the sound of crickets and frogs, and the soft sigh of the wind in the tree tops.

We started off, Dad carrying a day-pack full of our lunch and water bottles. The trail followed a stream. “Is this the stream with the waterfall?”

“Yep. It’s about two miles away.” He adjusted the pack on his shoulders. “I’m hoping no one else is at the pool and waterfall since it’s a weekday. We’ll have to see.”

I hoped so too. A whole pool and waterfall to ourselves! Along the way we stopped to look at the moss growing between the roots of massive oaks, red flowers my dad called Cardinal flowers, and fascinating yet horrifying, a snake that was eating a toad, only half-way into the snake’s mouth. We stopped to watch the drama going on just off of the trail.

“Can’t we do something?” I felt a little queasy.

“Would you like it if someone came along and took your dinner out of your mouth?”

He had a point but still. We left before the poor toad was totally eaten.

We rounded a bend in the trail and I could see what we’d heard for the last quarter mile, the waterfall. “Oh!” I ran to the edge of the pool. The falls were at least three times taller than my dad. A young couple was just packing up their things to leave.

“Pretty awesome, huh?” The young man picked up his pack and helped a young woman to her feet.

“It is.” I couldn’t take my eyes off of the wide ribbon of water falling over the lip of stone.

“Have fun.” The young woman waved as they left.

Dad and I kicked off boots, stripped off hiking clothes and dove in. The water was cold but nothing like the ocean. I came up for air, gasping and laughing. Dad splashed water at me.

“Race you to the falls!”

We raced across the pool, half the length of a swimming pool and stopped just outside the range of the waterfall. “Beat ya!” he laughed.

I eased onto my back and floated. The roar of the water falling could be heard through the water in the pool as I stared up into a clear blue sky framed by maple, oak and white pine trees. Dad climbed out onto the bank, spread out two towels then lay down and closed his eyes.

I continued to float, listening to the falling water, loud near the falls, mellower as I drifted away. A gray squirrel darted along the branches of an oak, stopping to rip a leaf from the tree and throw it at the pool, chattering in fury at my intrusion. It occurred to me that I liked the forest much more than the sea shore. I could hear my heart beat, slow and steady. The flow of the water across my skin was soothing, not the abrasive battering that the ocean gave. It seemed as though all of time trickled to a stop and it was restful as the sun dappled the leaves overhead.

Too soon Dad called to me. “Time to eat, Emma.”

It took a force of will for me to pull myself up and swim the few strokes to the shore where Dad had laid out lunch. There were two sandwiches, a couple of apples, two bags of potato chips. I sat cross-legged on my towel and wiped my hands on it.

“Having fun?”

“Yes.” I picked up a sandwich and unwrapped it, taking a big bite. My stomach was growling. He did the same. We watched the water ripple out from the falls, sun sparkling off of the tiny waves. “I like it here. What’s it called?”

“Eternal Falls.”

It was fitting. “I think I’m going to call it Eternal Water.”

The End

918 Words

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

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Merry Go Round Blog Post for March

Me,Long Distance BackPacking on the AT/Long Trail, Vermont

Me,Long Distance BackPacking on the AT/Long Trail, Vermont

I have and have had a lot of hobbies in the past. I love to try new things, explore different aspects of my creative ability. Just after high school I took up oil painting. I liked it, but somehow it wasn’t for me.

Then I tried the flute. I hired a music teacher, bought an actual silver, not silver-plated, flute, and dropped it after a couple of years. Decades later, I’m still in love with that flute and have carried it around with me through several moves. I still have it, in a bin, on the top shelf of my closet. I’m just not ready to let go of it.

Other hobbies and handicrafts have come and gone. Crocheting for example. I crocheted a number of river pattern Afghans for myself and my brothers upon their weddings. I still have mine, in shades of brown and when I’m cold on a winter’s night, it keeps me cozy and warm.

There were other hobbies: spoon collecting from tourist spots, cheese making, soap making, leaf pressing, hiking, basket weaving, the list goes on.

How does all of this relate to writing? I’ve tried writing on and off for decades. I’d get just so far and halt, not knowing what to do next. It was another hobby, tried and forgotten, but not. I kept poking at it until in 2011 when I found the internet bonanza of writing: an on-line writing group, Forward Motion.

So what do those other hobbies have to do with it? They’re an exploration. They’re an experience that I can draw on when I’m writing about soap making or weaving or hiking or trekking along hard country for long distances. I know how to dehydrate food to keep it for long travel. I know how hard it is to make good music. I’m a mother, daughter, wife, sister, military person, all of these experiences help me when I’m trying to get into my character’s head.

So, you don’t want to risk climbing that mountain? Trying that new cooking course at the community college? Go for it. The experience will help you in ways you never expected.
The Merry-Go-Round Blog Tour is sponsored by the website Forward Motion (http://www.fmwriters.com). The tour is you, the reader, travelling the world from author’s blog to author’s blog. There are all sorts of writers at all stages in their writing career, so there’s always something new and different to enjoy. If you want to get to know the nearly twenty other writers check out the rest of the tour at http://merrygoroundtour.blogspot.com!  Up next: Jean Schara

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Monday Blog Post: Running As Fast As I Can

Wading, creek, hiking,

Wading Sycamore Creek by Randy Cockrell

How many of you are helping a parent through the Medicare maze? I am because as I mentioned in my December posts, my mom moved in with me. The move has inspired a complete redo of her Medicare insurance, this being another state and all. What a mess! It’s a federal program! So why aren’t there federal guidelines, places to go, consistent standards and pricing? I’ll live through this process but the aggravation is all on the government.

Lost Rainbows is up on both Smashwords and CreateSpace so you should be able to find the book on Amazon, Barnes and Noble, Apple and other sites.

Mybike ride on a Greenway path from Scottsdale to Tempe Town Lake and back again, about 30 miles was fantastic. What a wonderful resource for the town. After a year break from bike riding, yes, I was sore. But, I’m healed up now and the ride is so lovely that I may do it again. The Tuesday hike had us wading a couple of streams. A picture is at the top of the blog. Stream wading isn’t something we usually have to confront in Arizona and a few hikers had some reservations. However, in the long run, everyone crossed safely, in both directions and we had a wonderful hike.

On the writing front. I’ve done practically no writing last week. I’m the chair of a committee for putting on Payson’s first ever book festival as well as a board member for a couple of other volunteer organizations. All of them have collided this week to put me off of my regular schedule. This weekend my hubby and mom and I snuck away and I have had time to write. I’m excited about new stories.

Sign up for the newsletter on my blog, www.conniesrandomthoughts.wordpress.com. You’ll get the scoop on what I’m writing much earlier than I post it here.

Thanks for stopping by my blog today.

Lost Rainbows released January 25th! I’m pretty excited about it. You can buy it and my other books at: Apple, Amazon, Barnes and Noble, Kobo, or Smashwords today!

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Monday Blog Post: Busy January

Bridge, Roosevelt Lake, Dam, Hike

From a hike to Roosevelt Lake. The bridge near the dam from a different POV than most people get.

I’m sitting down to write this blog and all of the things I had thought to write about have flown out of my head. That’s what I get for not jotting them down as I think of them. No matter, there’s so much going on in January, I have plenty to talk about.

First of all, my leprechaun story, Lost Rainbows is proceeding along my editing path. All of the copies are back from my readers and I’m busy looking through the comments and making changes. Next, I’ll send it off to my editors, Silver Jay Media. They are marvelous people and are working very hard to make my work shine. I have contracted out my cover this time. JA Marlow, jamarlow.com, is a wonderful author in her own right and uses her graphic arts background to make great covers. I haven’t seen the first draft yet but she told me it’s almost done. I can’t wait to see it. I’m still hoping to make my self-imposed deadline of the end of January. We’ll see how that goes. It may slip into February.

Also on writing, I just started a new novel. I call it my All About Bob series for New Adults. That’s the 15 – 20 year age group. I thought of this series over a year ago when I was taking a writing class. I developed the first story a little bit and wrote a tiny bit about each of four other stories to go with it. Here’s my series blurb:

This is a series of novelettes about five Bobs, from different towns and circumstances, but they each dream of a different life.

The first story is about one Bob who dreams of college. The second story looks at another Bob, still in high school and desperate to date the cute girl in Social Studies. The third Bob dreams of leaving home for more excitement. Bob number four would love some economic security, self-respect and a way out of the dead end life his parents live. The fifth Bob wants to see the world and the wonders it holds. See how each Bob confronts the obstacles that are denying him his dreams and how each young man forges his own path to adulthood.

I have no idea why I wrote about a young man instead of a young woman. It just seemed the way it should go. Anyway, I’m excited about the first story; It’s a Question of College, and have been writing it fairly steadily. No plans yet on when it will be published.

On the volunteering front, I’m hip deep in planning for the first ever Book Festival in my town. It’s a lot more complicated than you would think. However, we do have a website: www.paysonbookfestival.org and a facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/PaysonBookFestival. The committee is very excited about putting this together.

I’m also on the Northern Gila County Fair board. Our first meeting of the year is coming up at the end of the month. We need volunteers, like any other non-profit organization. https://www.facebook.com/pages/Northern-Gila-County-Fair/136645043024179 and our website there is www.NorthernGilaCountyFair.com

Since it’s January there’s not a lot of gardening going on. My Meyer lemon tree bloomed over Christmas and as I do every year, I took a small watercolor paintbrush and moved pollen from one flower to the next. I have several teeny tiny lemon buds which I hope will grow to fantastic lemons.  My orchid is also sending out a new flower shoot. My daughter gave me the plant a couple of years ago as a Mother’s Day gift. I’m surprised I’ve kept it alive for so long. The dry Arizona air isn’t exactly ideal for a tropical rainforest flower.

Also on the agenda for this week is a hike on Tuesday, and a massage. My daughter gave me a gift certificate and on Thursday I’m going to indulge. It’d be nice if I could give myself a whole spa day but that is not going to happen. There’s too much writing to do for me to skip a day.

Thanks for stopping by my blog today.

The Downtrodden: a Brown Rain Story released November 22nd! I’m pretty excited about it. You can buy it and my other books at: Apple, Amazon, Barnes and Noble, Kobo, or Smashwords today!

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