Fair, Tested, Garden and More: Monday Blog Post

Bountiful Basket

Newest News:

The Northern Gila County Fair starts 4pm on Thursday September 7th and I’m so excited. So many new things are on tap this year, I just hope everyone comes either Thursday, Friday or Saturday. Things will be hopping all weekend.

The garden is in full swing. Now that the sun is out everyday, the tomatoes are ripening fast. I’m also still in the glut of yellow squash and peaches but now the green bush beans and yellow beans have joined the parade! I also harvested all of the apples from the tree, about 6 gallons worth. Some have already been turned into apple chips in my dehydrator. Some have been turned into apple sauce. I think I’ve given away a ton of peaches. Saturday night the elk attacked my apple tree. When I went out to water on Sunday morning, several branches were broken and I had to trim them off. Color me sad. The pears on the pear trees are looking good. They’ll be ready in September.

My editor and I have gotten together and he managed to get his review and edits of Tested to me. Yay!!! I’m not sure I can get to them now that fair prep is in full swing but I’ll do my best. It may be early October before the story is released.

Giveaways:

Would you like to win free ebooks, other prizes, or a $130 in Paypal cash? Drop by http://conniesrandomthoughts.com/giveaways-and-prizes/ and click on the Rafflecopter link for the Summer Blockbuster Giveaway.

I’m setting up a mystery giveaway with about 20 other authors on BookFunnel.com. Book Funnel allows you to get your chosen story in whatever e-format you like and is easy to use. The giveaway starts August 19th and runs for one week. I received the link for the BookFunnel Giveaway. I’ll post that on my Facebook/ConniesRandomThoughts on Saturday and in this blog on the 28th. I’ll do another newsletter with the link, on the 19th. Stay tuned for more details and the link to use!

Shout Out:

Author Timothy Bateson

Keep your eyes peeled for the author interview on Wednesday with Timothy Bateson. I found out about Timothy when I did this winter’s Brains to Books online convention. It turns out Tim is from my hometown! I was so excited and emailed him immediately to be on my interviews. If you can’t wait, check out his website: http://timothybatesonauthor.weebly.com.

Where Will I Be?

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

My next public appearance will be at the Pine Fall Festival October 14th and 15th. On both days I’ll be in the Community Hall with a few other authors selling and signing books with the antique dealers. On Saturday besides crafters, is the annual chili cook-off. Saturday hours are 9am – 5pm and the chili cook-off starts at 11am. Be there at 11am. The chili usually runs out by noon. Buy a ticket, taste the chili, vote for your fav top three! My hubby is usually there with his version. Sunday the hours are 9am – 4pm. Lots of crafters will be there and the weather is lovely in October. Come on by and say hello.

In September I’m going to be at the Payson Flea Market. The details are still being worked out but this is a great event for picking up Christmas Presents and cool stuff for your house and yard. I’m inviting a couple of other authors to come to my space as well so there’ll be a lot of books to choose from. I’ll keep you posted on the date and times.

On December 9th I’ll be at the Mesa Book Festival. Get full details at https://mesabookfestival.com/. I’ll be in a booth with my author friend Marsha Ward. www.MarshaWard.com. Between the two of us, we have a large number of genre’s covered. Come get your Christmas presents and stocking stuffers. The festival runs from 2pm – 8pm.

Newsletter Sign Up:

Click here to sign up for my newsletter. I’ve put sign-up gifts 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.

Don’t forget to follow my blog, too. Different material goes in the blog as in the newsletter. You can share both, so spread the word!

Newest Book Release:

Mystery at the Book Festival released June 1st and 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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Slave Elf Part 18: Flash Fiction Friday Post

fort_days_furniture_2_by_thewarriorandthegodd, http://www.deviantart.com/art/Fort-Days-furniture-2-166838482

Part 18

Delia was in the practice yard. It felt good to move after spending hours in the mage’s room and then in council with her father. There had been much gazing at maps as they tried to figure out what woods and what lake Mage Kaepli had seen. Decisions were finally made and scouts would be sent out any minute now. Main troop forces would be sent when word came back from the scouts.

The practice field was nearly empty as most of the warriors practiced in the morning. Delia was moving through the katas for the staff, moving slowly to make sure she was making each move correctly, then adding speed a bit at a time, always working to make the move perfectly. By the time she was satisfied, she was dripping with sweat and the sun was heading for the horizon.

Clapping behind her gave her a start and she turned, staff at the ready. It was Sisruo.

“Well done, Princess!”

Her blush was hidden by a face already flushed from exercise. “Thank you. Do you work with weapons?”

Sisruo walked over to her. “Alas, I do not.” He patted his flat stomach. “I fear I do too much sitting and studying and not enough weapons work.”

He looked perfectly slender and fit to Delia. “I was about to practice with my fire balls. Would you care to watch?”

“I heard that you have mastered the art. I’d love to.”

She put the staff back in the rack and motioned him to walk with her. “I don’t think I’ve mastered the art, yet, but I’m a fair marksman with them.”

At the spot she practiced this skill, she stopped. “Stay behind me.”

He gave her a small bow and stepped back.

Her first fire balls were a little sloppy. Mortified, she refocused. The next few were better and thrown about the furthest she’d ever done.

Sisruo clapped again. “How do you do it?”

As she did for the warriors, she walked him through what her process was. He was a quick learner. Probably because he’s already a mage, or near enough, she thought.

They stood side by side and made a contest of who could throw the farthest, then the biggest. She beat him, though when she demonstrated making several at a time and throwing them one at a time. He beamed at her. “I see I’ll have to practice.”

“Do mages go to war?”

He shrugged. “Sometimes. I think this time we will.”

“We?”

“Master Kaepli and myself. Perhaps a few of the more advanced apprentices.”

Delia felt a real fear for the old mage. She truly liked him. “Isn’t Mage Kaepli a bit old?”

Sisruo laughed. “Don’t let him hear you saying that.” He drew a deep breath. “He’s as sharp a mind as I’ve ever met and has forgotten more magic than I will ever know. He will be a huge advantage for your father the King against your uncle.”

Delia realized she was juggling fireballs as Sisruo spoke. She extinguished them immediately as  a blush crept up her cheeks. “Sorry. It’s become, um, natural, I guess, to make them.”

“I wondered. You didn’t seem to know you were doing it.”

“Sometimes I don’t.” She thought back to the council meeting where she’d made one in response to her fear of Nethene. “I think I should go bathe for dinner.” They began walking back to the castle. “I don’t remember seeing you there?”

“Oh no. I’m just an apprentice. That’s not the place for me. Besides,” he said quickly, “I’m usually studying one thing or another. We apprentices have a small dining room where we eat. That usually turns into another session on what we’re working on.”

“So you never stop working?”

“Oh, at mid-winter feast, we do. A lot of fun happens at mid-winter.”

A stab of regret hit Delia hard. She didn’t know any holidays of the elves. Her throat tightened with loss and regret.

“Oh. I’m sorry. I’ve hurt your feelings.” His apology was instant and sincere. Sisruo stopped and turned to her.

Delia swallowed her grief and put on a smile. “Don’t be concerned. I’ll see for myself at mid-winter.”

“Perhaps sometime you could come to the apprentice’s dining room and eat with us. Everyone would be eager to hear about your study of aura changing.”

For some reason, the invitation annoyed her. “Perhaps,” she said a little harshly.

They had reached the doors into the castle. Sisruo stopped and bowed. “I must go this way, Princess, back to work, I’m afraid.”

She bowed curtly. “So you must. Good evening.” Delia turned and went past the guards who held the door for her leaving Sisruo staring.

In her room she peeled off her dress and boots and threw them on the floor. She stomped to the basin and pitcher and after pouring water into the basin, held her hand over it. In a moment the water was steaming. A moment more and it was boiling. She snapped her hand back when it began to boil over the sides of the basin. Her heart pounding, she reached out to touch the water. She stopped just above the liquid, feeling the heat rise from it. Delia stepped back and covered her face, pressing on her eyes. She’d never done that before and hadn’t heard that anyone could.

Anger gone, she poured more water into the basin to cool it and washed the sweat away. In a dressing gown, she brushed out her hair and thought about it. Why had she done it? Anger, she decided. I was angry and it wasn’t enough to throw my boots. In the mirror, she could see the basin behind her. She got up and went to the bowl. The water was now room temperature. Delia held her hand over the water and thought about how she felt before. It took longer but the water began to steam.

Snatching her hand back she went back to her dressing table. After a deep breath, she began brushing her hair again. Another tool. A weapon, she thought. I’ll have to practice that in the yard tomorrow to see how it can be made effective.

 

Thank You! Come back next week for Part 19.

1033 Words

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

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Slave Elf Part 17: Flash Fiction Friday Post

http://www.deviantart.com/art/Scrying-Bowl-200138951 by Vasilisamanuese

Part 17

Find Part 1 Here. Find Part 16 Here.

Kaepli settled with a sigh and sipped the wine, setting the cup down before beginning. “It’s confusion in the scrying bowl. I suspect Nethene or Iyuno or both, are interfering.” He sipped more wine, as he stroked his beard. “I did see some flashes of an army massing. It could have been Diamond Point valley but the reading was too muddled. There were other quick views, a forest, but I couldn’t tell where, and a lake.” He pulled at an earlobe. “The lake could have been anywhere, but there were several large boats, suitable to carry soldiers.” Kaepli shook his head and pulled a bit of bread off of Sisruo’s leftover loaf. He chewed slowly. “No. It just wasn’t clear enough to make heads or tails of it.” He stood up. “I must tell the king.”

“Shall I accompany you?” Delia slid from her stool. “I think I’ve done all I can here today.”

Master Kaepli nodded. “I’d be honored, Princess.”

Delia blushed. It was hard to accept the title still. She turned to Sisruo. “Thank you for your help today. May I return tomorrow to practice?”

He bowed. “I’d be honored.”

The mage clapped his hands. “Good. We’ll go to the king. Sisruo, make notes about what you’ve done today. We might as well keep a good record.”

“Yes, Master Kaepli. Immediately.”

Kaepli and Delia left. She glanced behind her as she followed the mage through the door. Sisuro was watching. He smiled. She gave him a tiny wave and closed the door. Her eyes were on the ground, a smile on her face when Kaepli broke into her thoughts.

“You and Sisruo worked well together today?”

She shook her thoughts clear. “Yes, Mage Kaepli. He had everything prepared for me and made sure I didn’t die of hunger or thirst while I worked. A very thoughtful elf. He told me he’s nearly ready for his last tests.”

The old elf nodded. “He’s been ready for a while now. He just lacks the confidence. But he’ll get there.” Kaepli glanced at Delia. “And your study? How long can you hold the changed aura?”

“Not long, which is frustrating. I have to focus so hard, it’s exhausting.”

“Interesting, then, that Nethene can hold it for so long. I do wonder why you see through it and no one else can?”

“I’ve wondered that as well. The prophesy says I’m the most powerful, so that might explain it. It doesn’t explain why I can’t hold the false aura.”

“Practice.” The old elf opened the door to the hall for her. “Power is one thing, skill something else. You’ll get it.”

She nodded. Once in the king’s office, the mage told him everything he’d told her and his apprentice. King Ucheni sighed and leaned back in his chair. “We’ll have to send scouts. You have no idea where the woods or the lake are?”

“No sire. I think the council should be involved. Especially Chief of Scouts, Mysteso and Captain Neoi.”

Ucheni’s eyebrow raised. “Not Nethene?”

“I’d advise not, Sire.”

“And you, Daughter?”

Delia shook her head. “He makes the hairs on my arms rise straight up. No, Father. Lord Enaur would be a welcome addition, though.”

Ucheni rang a small bell at the edge of his desk. A young page entered the room. “Get Lord Enaur, Captain Neoi, and Chief Scout Mysteso assembled for a meeting in the meeting room in an hour.”

The boy nodded and sprinted off. “Thank you Master Kaepli. I’ll see you in an hour.”

The elf bowed and took his leave. Delia turned to follow when her father stopped her. “And what have you been doing today, Delia?”

I’ve been with the mages, learning how to change my aura.”

He leaned forward, elbows on the desk. “Show me.”

Delia cleared her mind and began drawing power from her core. She struggled to get to her soul. It was difficult, almost painful to confront her raw being but she tapped into that and thought black. Her father’s gasp felt like a reward. She held the false aura for two minutes, the longest all day, before it slipped from her mind. Delia swayed with the effort and sank into the chair in front of his desk.

“That is incredible,” he said. He poured water into a goblet and brought it around the desk to her. She drank it all and handed it back.

“Thank you. That’s the longest I’ve held it.”

He went back to his chair and dropped into it. “I wasn’t really convinced. I apologize. No one else can see Nethene’s real aura, obviously, except you. How can that be?”

“He’s a powerful elf, Father, and has years of practice. Perhaps the aura everyone sees is the one he was born with and he just projects it while his real aura has changed to black. I have no idea.”

Ucheni’s fingers drummed on the arm of his chair. “Fair enough. Will you attend the council meeting?”

“If you need me to, Father.”
“I do. You will be my left hand. Your mother,” he said with a fond smile, “is already my right.”

Delia smiled. “I accept, Father.”

His face dropped the smile. A look of sorrow took its place. “I am so sorry for sending you away. I shouldn’t have done it.”

She rose and went around the desk to him and kissed his cheek. Delia was still upset about it but it was obvious both of her parents loved and missed her. “You made a terribly hard choice that you thought would protect me.” She held out her arms and made a twirl. “Look. It worked. Think no more about it. I’m here now.”

He rose and gave her a hug. “Thank you, Daughter.” He held her by the shoulders and stood back, studying her. “Have you eaten?”

“Hours ago, it seems.”

He rang his desk bell. Another page popped in the door. “Bring some small sandwiches, water, and wine. Soon, I have a council meeting in an hour.”

The boy ran off and the king and his daughter sat in the armchairs in front of the fireplace. “Let’s talk until the food comes.”

“That will be nice, Father.” She sat in one chair as he sat in the other.

“Tell me about the caravan,” he asked.

Flashes of the bad things ran through her mind. She pushed them away. There were bright spots. She told him about those.

 

Thank You! Come back next week for Part 18.

1074 Words

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

 

 

 

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Author Interview: Mary Ann Edwards

Author Mary Anne Edwards

Today I’d like to welcome Mary Anne Edwards. Born in Mercedes, Texas, Mary Anne has lived in Georgia most of her life. A life-long fan of authors such as Agatha Christie, Anne Perry, Caroline Graham, and Elizabeth Peters, it wasn’t until a few years ago that Mary Anne decided to listen to the voices in her head and began writing her own series of traditional mysteries featuring Detective Charlie McClung.

The first book in the series, Brilliant Disguise, was released to critical acclaim in January of 2014. The next three in the series, A Good Girl, Criminal Kind, and Sins of my Youth were released soon afterward. The fifth book in the series, Flirting with Time, will be released in June 2017, with at least five more to follow.

Mary Anne and her husband currently live in Smyrna, GA with an ill-tempered Tuxedo cat named Gertrude. Mary Anne is active in the Sisters in Crime Atlanta Chapter and sits on the advisory board of Rockdale Cares, a non-profit advocacy group for the developmentally challenged.

Thanks so much for joining us today, Mary Ann.

 

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

I love to read. Yes, I know rather boring but I rarely get the chance to sit down and read. Before I starting writing full-time, I read a book a week. Now it more like a book a month.

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

My mother passed away February last year. I’d like one more day to her how much I love her and how thankful I am for her support and influence.

3. Coffee, tea, soda or something else? Yes, please! I like coffee with lots of cream and no sugar. I also enjoy a good cup of hot tea. I LOVE diet Dr Pepper, too much. I’ve cut back from my 2 liters plus a day habit to one soda a few times a week. I’m drinking lots of water now. I purchased an infusion pitcher. I’ve made all sorts of water like Pineapple Jalapeno Mint to simple Lemon Mint water.

4. What are you working on right now?

My fifth book, Flirting With Time: A Charlie McClung Mystery, will be released June 30th. I’m currently working on the sixth book in the series, Good To Be Kind.

5. How would you describe your writing style?

Hank Phillippi Ryan, bestselling author and award-winning journalist described my style of writing this way, “It’s as if Agatha Christie wrote Hart to Hart.” My books are traditional mysteries with romance and fun.

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

Get a website or blog or both going right now. Start building your network before your book is released. Once your book is released you’ll have a fanbase ready to buy your book.

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?

My ideas come from music and everyday life. Tom Petty’s music gets my writing juice flowing for some reason. I guess his music is my muse. LOL!

8. Where can we find you on the interwebs?

Facebook and Twitter are my two major hangouts but I have a website and I can be found on Pinterest and a few other places. Here are my links.

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

Website:  http://maryanneedwards.com/

Pinterest:  https://www.pinterest.com/maryanneedwards/

Google+:  https://plus.google.com/u/0/+MaryAnneEdwards/posts

LinkedIn:  www.linkedin.com/in/maryanneedwards

Twitter:  https://twitter.com/maedwards58

Amazon Author Page: http://www.amazon.com/Mary-Anne-Edwards/e/B00HZ28TIQ

YouTube: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCpzz9_nQ5yzE60nW-LMkgUQ

Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/7791576.Mary_Anne_Edwards

BookBub: https://www.bookbub.com/authors/mary-anne-edwards

Wiselike:  https://wiselike.com/mary-anne-edwards

Thank you so much for spending a little time with us today, Mary Ann. We really appreciate it.

And gentle readers, don’t be shy. Stop by Mary Ann’s sites and say hello!

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End of July: Monday Blog Post

Payson Book Festival 2017

Newest News:

Some updates from the Payson Book Festival. After digging into the stats, we had over 700 people attend the festival. That’s the 3rd straight year with 100+ attendee growth. Our new venue, the Mazatzal Hotel and Casino had the tables arranged so that it didn’t feel crowded, even with so many attendees. Feedback from volunteers, authors and attendees were favorable for the most part and I really thank everyone who filled out a feedback form. It makes it so much easier to figure out whether or not there was a problem when people actually tell us!

Bush Green Beans

I harvested 8 yellow squash on Friday. I’m definitely going to have to start calling friends and asking if they want some squash. The peaches are ripe and I have a glut of those, too! Hubby ate three of them (they’re small) for his morning snack on Sunday. Good thing we like peaches.

The editor emailed me, he’s having trouble getting the Tested file to me. I’ve sent an alternate email address so hopefully that will do the trick. I’m still looking for my First Encounter and Downtrodden files. Grrrrrrrr.

Giveaways:

Would you like to win free ebooks, other prizes, or a $130 in Paypal cash? Drop by http://conniesrandomthoughts.com/giveaways-and-prizes/ and click on the Rafflecopter link for the Summer Blockbuster Giveaway.

An annual giveaway on the Smashwords Summer/Winter Sale is over at midnight today! You can go to my author page or search for Troubled Streets, Mystery at the Fair, First Encounter, or A New Start. Use code SW100 to claim these books for free on the checkout page. Go to https://www.smashwords.com/books/category/1/newest/1 to browse all of the books on sale. Lots of great stories are ready for you!

Shout Out:

Author Mary Anne Edwards

Today’s shout out goes to author Mary Anne Edwards. A life-long fan of authors such as Agatha Christie, Anne Perry, Caroline Graham, and Elizabeth Peters, it wasn’t until a few years ago that Mary Anne decided to listen to the voices in her head and began writing her own series of traditional mysteries featuring Detective Charlie McClung. Mary Ann is my featured author on Wednesday’s Author Interview. Can’t wait? Check out her site at http://maryanneedwards.com.

Where Will I Be?

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

My next public appearance will be at the Pine Fall Festival October 14th and 15th. On both days I’ll be in the Community Hall with a few other authors selling and signing books with the antique dealers. On Saturday besides crafters, is the annual chili cook-off. Saturday hours are 9am – 5pm and the chili cook-off starts at 11am. Be there at 11am. The chili usually runs out by noon. Buy a ticket, taste the chili, vote for your fav top three! My hubby is usually there with his version. Sunday the hours are 9am – 4pm. Lots of crafters will be there and the weather is lovely in October. Come on by and say hello.

Newsletter Sign Up:

Click here to sign up for my newsletter. I’ve put sign-up gifts 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.

Don’t forget to follow my blog, too. Different material goes in the blog as in the newsletter. You can share both, so spread the word!

Newest Book Release:

Mystery at the Book Festival released June 1st and 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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Slave Elf Part 16: Friday Flash Fiction Post

Bread, Cheese and Pear by Connie Cockrell

Find Part 1 Here. Find Part 15 Here.

Delia rubbed her eyes then arched backwards to relieve the strain in her back from leaning over the table for hours. When she looked around, she realized that all of the apprentices were gone. She’d been so engrossed with the books that she hadn’t heard anyone come or go. The door opened and Sisruo entered with a tray. He came to her table.

“Good, you’re taking a break.” He placed the tray in an open spot on her table.

Delia’s stomach growled in reply. She blushed.

Sisruo chuckled. “Studying is hard work, Princess. No shame in that.”

“I didn’t hear anyone leave.”

“We practice moving quietly. There’s usually someone studying or doing research and we don’t want to disturb them.”

“Very polite.” Delia glanced at the tray. “There’s enough here for three people. Will you join me?”

“I’d love to.” He walked to the next table and brought over a stool while Delia moved books to one side of the table.

He pulled the tray over to sit between them. “I took the liberty of bringing some wine to have with our mid-day meal. I can get more water, if you’d prefer.”

“A little wine sounds nice.” She reached for her water cup, drained it, then put it back on the table.

Sisuro poured for her then poured a little into a second cup. He handed her a plate and a napkin then took one for himself. “You pick first, princess.”

She selected an apple, some yellow cheese and a small loaf of bread. “I’m afraid I didn’t eat much breakfast this morning.”

“Understandable.” He took a loaf, a pear and some white cheese. “I get that way myself when I have something I’m eager to study.” He ripped off a chunk of the loaf and with his belt knife, took a slice of pear and another of cheese to make a bite. “What have you discovered?” He ate his bite.

Delia used her knife to slice up her apple, then the cheese. She wiped her blade on the napkin. “Much of each article was in language so vague as to be worthless. It’s as though the author wanted brag about knowing or finding something but wasn’t willing to share the actual information.” She shook her head as she ate the apple, bread and cheese bite.

Sisruo nodded. “That happens a lot. We’ve learned to read around the flowery, bragging language and figure out what they are saying. But what did you learn that was concrete?”

“Over and over each text said it was a matter of core control.” She took a sip of wine. It was a white with a bright, fruity flavor. “As Mage Kaepli said last night, that’s pretty standard for magic. Book four,” she pointed at a medium-sized leather-bound book to her left, “had more specific instruction. Not just a matter of our core, but our essence is needed to change one’s aura.” She studied Sisruo. “Do you understand what it may mean, our essence?”

The apprentice took a deep breath and finished his mouthful. “Not the core, but who you are. Deep inside, when things go bad, when no one’s looking, the part of you that’s the most real.” He shook his head. “Your soul, perhaps is the shortest description I can give.”

Delia’s eyebrows drew together. She’d been in many a situation over the years that was bad. How had she reacted? Was she ever mean? She didn’t think so. Indifferent? Possibly, given her own situation. Probably, more like it. She instantly felt guilty and ashamed. A blush crept up her cheeks.

“Stop that.”

Startled, Delia looked up at Sisruo.

“You’re imagining great personal crimes when in reality you were just being normal.”

“How…?”

He snorted. “It’s part of our training to look into our own souls and understand who we are. We can’t become a full mage until we do.” He looked down at his plate. “I’ve been there. So I recognized it on you.”

She sighed. “There’s so much I don’t know.”

“True, but all it takes is training.” He ate another bite of bread as she nibbled an apple slice. They sat, each in their own thoughts for a few moments.

“Can you teach me?”

“You want to be an apprentice?”

“No, not that. I’m trying to change the color of my aura to other people. If knowing my own soul is what has to happen to allow me to do this, then that’s what I must do.”

Sisruo frowned at his plate. “Master Kaepli knows what you’re doing?”

“Yes.” Delia wiped her hands and put the napkin on the table. “Where do we begin?”

He took a last bite of pear then a sip of wine and put his napkin down. “Fine.” He focused on her. “Ah, green with sparkles.”

She nodded. “And your is,” she smiled, “blue with gold swirls. Pretty!”

Sisruo chuckled. “Your’s too.” The smile left his face. “Why do you want to mask your aura?”

“I don’t, necessarily. I want to know how someone else would do it. Also, it would be helpful, at times, if I could hide my true feelings from others.”

The apprentice tugged at an earlobe. He nodded, slowly. “I can see where that would be an advantage. Hide your glee, or fear, or knowledge. Yes. Useful.”

“Fine. Let’s look at your soul. Tell me what you were thinking earlier.”

Three hours later, Kaepli found them still on the stools, staring at each other. “Sisruo?”

The apprentice came out of the study first. “Master.” He blinked and took a deep breath.

Delia followed. She was dazed and overwhelmingly thirsty. She grabbed her cup and drank down the wine. A sigh escaped her lips as reality came back to her. “We were looking at my soul, Mage Kaepli.”

Kaepli’s bushy eyebrows rose. “So you found something?”

“A little something.” She poured the last of the water in the pitcher into her cup and drank it all. “It needs my core and an understanding of who I am.”

Kaepli turned to Sisruo. “And you found?”

“We can both change our auras, at least a little and for a short time. It’s very difficult to do and even harder to hold.” He slid off of his stool. “Please, Master, sit. You must be tired from the scrying.”

The old man waved his hand. “I’m not that decrepit, youngling.” He eyed the pitcher on the tray of food. “Is any wine left?”

The apprentice nodded. “Certainly.” He poured some into the third cup and handed it over. “Can you tell us your news?”

The mage sat on the vacated stool. “Yes. I should.”

 

Thank You! Come back next week for Part 17.

1107 Words

 

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

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Slave Elf 15: Friday Flash Fiction Post

Ancient Book by Connie Cockrell

Find Part 1 Here. Find Part 14 Here.

Part 15

Nethene sat three elves away from her at dinner. As family, he rated a seat at the head table but that didn’t make her happy about it. Her venison lay cold on the plate as she worried about what her distant cousin might do.

Mage Kaepli sat beside her father. Delia could hear enough of their conversation past her mother to know they were discussing the scrying Kaepli had finished. Confusion, she’d overheard him say. That didn’t sound good to her. She wished she had more experience. It was a handicap of immense proportions that she had been separated from her people and from magic for so long. Her hand began to tingle as fire began to form. Delia squashed the urge and shook out her hand under the table.

At the rear of the hall the musicians were warming up. Dinner was nearly over and she was anxious to talk to the Mage about how to mask her aura. She saw her chance as the Mage rose to take his leave of the King and Queen. She rose as well. “If you don’t mind, Father, Mother, I’d like to retire. I’m afraid I overdid it on the practice field today.”

Her mother nodded. “Of course, Sweetheart.”

Delia leaned down to kiss her mother on the cheek. “Thank you, Mother. Enjoy the music.” She walked around her mother’s chair to the King. She kissed him on the cheek as well. “Good evening, Father.”

He patted her hand. “Sleep well, Delia.”

She saw Nethene watching and a tingle of fear ran down her spine. “Thank you, Father.” She turned to the Mage. “May I walk with you, Kaepli?”

“Of course, Princess.” He bowed and let her go first.

Delia could feel Nethene watching her until they left the hall. “I have a question.”

Kaepli nodded. “I suspected. Go on.”

“How does Nethene mask his aura?”

The mage drew a deep breath. “The books say it has to do with the control of your core. Which begs the question, of course.” He shook his head. “The text talks about your essence, which is the core, of course, and focus.” Kaepli waved a hand. “All magic requires focus, so that is less than helpful.”

“May I read the texts?”

The old mage’s eyebrow rose. “An unusual request but I don’t see why not. Come by my workshop in the morning. I’ll have the books ready for you.”

She was disappointed. She wanted to read them now. “Not tonight?”

The mage shook his head. “My apologies, Princess, but the texts are scattered. Let me and my apprentices find them all and set aside a table for you. It will go much faster that way.”

Delia swallowed her impatience. “Of course. In the morning then.”

Kaepli stopped at the hall leading to the wing where his workshops were and bowed. “In the morning. Sleep well, Princess.”

She bowed in return and continued on to her rooms. After bolting the door, she prepared for bed but was too restless to lie down. As she paced she absent-mindedly formed fireballs, tossing them from one hand to another. Then she realized she was making them in multiples, not just one at a time. That piqued her interest and at the fireplace, focused on making as many at a time as she could.

By midnight she was drained, physically and mentally. She let the fireballs expire and washed her hands and face in the basin then lay down. Her last thoughts were of auras.

In the morning she hardly spared time to eat the bread, fruit and cheese brought to her room. She hurried to the mage’s workshop and stopped just inside the door. She saw a large room, herbs hanging from the ceiling, several heavy wooden tables with stools at them. Some had apprentices already working. Books and scrolls filled the shelves that lined the walls. She cleared her throat.

An apprentice looked up from a huge tome he was reading. “Princess!” He jumped from his stool and came to her. “Welcome. Mage Kaepli directed me to assist you. I’m Sisruo. Come right this way.”

He led her to a table under a window, a stool centered on the table where six leather-bound books were stacked to one side. “We found these for you. The pages with the information you wanted are book-marked. If you have any questions, please let me know.”

Delia nodded. Everything seemed well organized. “Thank you. I won’t keep you from your work. Where is Mage Kaepli?”

“He’s gone to a glade, Princess. To try the scrying again.”

She was disappointed. She’d hoped to talk to him about what she was about to read. “Oh. Very well.”

“May I get you some water?”

“That would be nice. Yes. Thank you, Sisuro. Have you been an apprentice long?”

“Long enough. I test for my mage status soon.”

“Congratulations.” She climbed up onto the stool. “Sorry for keeping you.”

“Not a problem, Princess. I’ll let you get to your research.” He turned and left.

Delia looked at the stack of books. The largest was on the bottom with the books getting smaller as the stack grew. She pulled the smallest book to her and opened the cover. The writing was in a flowing script, the book title so elaborate it was difficult to read. Delia turned a few pages to find treatises on the essence of the core, how to force plant growth, and one on changing hair color. There didn’t seem to be any overall theme to the book, just whatever the author had decided to write about. She found the book mark and flipped to the page. This treatise was titled, Auras and Their Control. That sounded promising.

Sisruo returned and placed a tray with a pitcher of water and a glass on it. “Princess.”

She looked up from the page and smiled. “Thank you, Sisruo.”

He bowed. “Ask if you need anything.”

“I will. Thank you.”

He left and she went back to the page. With luck, she’d learn everything she needed to know from this one book.

 

Thank You! Come back next week for Part 16.

1015 Words

 

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

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Author Interviews: Sherry Knowlton

Author Sherry Knowlton

I’m so happy, today, to present author Sherry Knowlton. Sherry is the author of the successful Alexa Williams series of suspense novels: Dead of Autumn, Dead of Summer and Dead of Spring.  When not writing the next Alexa Williams thriller, Knowlton works on her health care consulting business or travels around the world. She and her husband live in the mountains of South Central Pennsylvania.

Thank you so much for chatting with us today, Sherry.

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

Reading, of course. I’ve been a bookworm for as long as I can remember. My other interests include travel, photography, yoga and Pilates.  My husband and I do a lot of traveling.  In the past six years or so, we’ve been trying to visit remote and exotic places, recognizing that we aren’t getting any younger.  We’ve been to a number of countries in Africa, India, Indonesia, most of the Southeast Asian countries, Chile and Peru – with a few more sedate visits to Europe thrown into the mix.  We both also enjoy travel photography and exhibit many of our photos locally in Southcentral Pennsylvania where we live.  When I’m home, I attend yoga and Pilates classes at local studios.

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

I miss my mother so much that she’s the obvious answer.  But, if I’m choosing someone among the living, I’d like to spend an afternoon with Bill Gates. Obviously, his major accomplishments are co-founding Microsoft  and growing the company to a huge, profitable corporation. But, I would like to talk to him about his post-Microsoft efforts.  I really admire the way that he and his wife, Melinda, have spent so much of their fortune in philanthropy, especially in projects to eradicate malaria, bolster family planning, and address other health issues prevalent in African nations and elsewhere.

3. Coffee, tea, soda or something else?

Tea first thing in the morning.  Cherry Coke Zero during the day.  I’d really like to kick my Coke habit.  Everything I read says drinking soda is bad for me.  But, so far, haven’t been able to do it.

4. What are you working on right now?

My third novel, Dead of Spring, was just released on April 22. Now, I’m in the early stages of working on my next novel in the Alexa Williams, which will be titled Dead of Winter.  Although I’ve written a draft of the first few chapters, I’m about to begin my research which should take a month or so.  Also, as always, I’ll write a fairly detailed chapter by chapter outline of the book before I plunge into the serious writing.  My outlines are never hard and fast; they often evolve as I write.  But, I like to have a roadmap to follow during the first draft phase.

5. How would you describe your writing style?

I write suspense with an element of mystery and a little romance.  Each of my novels also includes a historical subplot that intersects with the main, contemporary story.  My protagonist, Alexa Williams, is a strong character who has a propensity for stumbling into danger. All the books deal with hot-button social issues that you read about in the headlines and are important to me, personally.

I’m probably not my most insightful critic, so I’m not sure that I can describe my actual writing style.  I can say that I emphasize description, sense of place, and have been told that some of my romance scenes can be a little steamy,  The suspense is action-packed because my goal is to keep readers on the edge of their seats.

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

Go for it.  I hope you enjoy writing as much as I do.  But, go into it with a willingness to learn.  I’ve done a huge amount of professional writing in my job – and before that high school and college journalism.  But, writing fiction required me to learn a whole different structure and style.  Don’t be afraid to take writing courses or seminars and benefit from expert advice.  A writing critique group and beta readers can also be helpful to obtain honest feedback on your work in process. And, above all, don’t become discouraged.  Writing requires inspiration, skill, and a huge amount of willpower.

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

A little of both.  I’m in my sixties, so I’ve had quite a bit of life experience that I draw upon in my books. For example, I’ve used my travels, my work in government, and my participation in the Woodstock Festival of 1969 as fodder for my novels to date.  But, I also expand my knowledge with research, talking to experts and more.  My most recent book, Dead of Spring, deals with fracking, so I talked to a number of experts and did a tour of actual fracking sites in Northeastern Pennsylvania.

A lot of my ideas for imagery and plot points come from my everyday life. Things that I observe or experience can easily become the inspiration for something you’ll find in one of my novels.  An experience my husband and I had with Somali refugees in Kenya provided me with the springboard to an important scene in my second novel, Dead of Summer.  My frequent visits to the Pennsylvania State Capitol inspired me to set key events in my latest, Dead of Spring, in that historic building.

8. Where can we find you on the interwebs?

www.sherryknowlton.com

www.facebook.com/sherry.knowltonbooks/

www.twitter.com/KnowltonSBooks

And you can buy my books at:

https://www.amazon.com/Spring-Alexa-Williams-Sherry-Knowlton/dp/1620068435

http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/dead-of-spring-sherry-knowlton/1125457948

http://www.sunburypressstore.com/Dead-of-Spring-9781620068434.htm

Sherry I really appreciate you taking the time to come and talk with us today. Looking forward to the next book!

Gentle readers, don’t be afraid to check out Sherry’s sites. You’ll be glad you did.

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Birthday, Book Festival: Monday Blog Post

Newest News:

Today’s my birthday. I’m far past the point where I do much celebrating of the day though hubby may take me out to dinner. We like two local restaurants for special occasions. The closest to me, right in town, is Fargo’s Steakhouse.  https://www.fargossteakhouse.com/ They have the best osso buco ever. And if you’re more into burgers and fries, the fries are hand cut on the premises and gluten free. There are other gluten free menu items as well. The second place is Diamond Point Shadows Steakhouse.  http://www.diamondpointshadows.com/ This restaurant is a little way out of town but not that far. This is the place where I get lamb chops and for dessert, crème brulee. I don’t know why crème brulee went out of style but Diamond Point still serves it. Yay! What’s your favorite special occasion place?

On the garden front, my garden survived a hail storm Saturday. The yellow squash leaves are ragged but everything is still alive. And in case you were wondering, yes, what was supposed to be a zucchini is, in fact, a yellow squash. I don’t mind, I guess. More yellow squash for me. The peaches are ripening. Another week I think and I’ll be swimming in peaches. I followed a tip to thin the peaches in the spring to get bigger peaches but that didn’t happen. They’re lovely but still small. I’m disappointed.

I’m still waiting for the editor to get Tested back to me. I found a picture of a college building that I liked and have begun creating the cover. I’m stalled though, as the font I used on the previous covers is not on my computer. I replaced the last computer due to power surge. I had the font name listed in my book notes but can’t find the notes for either First Encounter or The Downtrodden. I’ve looked all over the house and can’t find them so now I’m stumped. I’ll keep looking. The files have to be somewhere.

Giveaways:

Would you like to win free ebooks, other prizes, or a $130 in Paypal cash? Drop by http://conniesrandomthoughts.com/giveaways-and-prizes/ and click on the Rafflecopter link for the Summer Blockbuster Giveaway.

An annual giveaway is the Smashwords Summer/Winter Sale. You can go to my author page or search for Troubled Streets, Mystery at the Fair, First Encounter, or A New Start. Use code SW100 to claim these books for free on the checkout page. Go to https://www.smashwords.com/books/category/1/newest/1 to browse all of the books on sale. Lots of great stories are ready for you!

Shout Out:

Author Sherry Knowlton

My next author interview is with Sherry Knowlton. She writes the Alexa Williams series of suspense novels. If you can’t wait until Wednesday’s post, you can find her at www.sherryknowlton.com

Also, Timothy Bateson, an author from back in my hometown area of upstate NY is featuring me today on his blog. Check out the interview at https://timothybatesonauthor.wordpress.com/?p=2326&preview=true

Where Will I Be?

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

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 over 80 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 gifts 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.

Don’t forget to follow my blog, too. Different material goes in the blog as in the newsletter. You can share both, so spread the word!

Newest Book Release:

Mystery at the Book Festival released June 1st and 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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Slave Elf 14: Friday Flash Fiction Post

Purple by Dinky03 http://www.deviantart.com/art/PURPLE-14567744

Find Part 1 Here. Find Part 13 Here.

 

Part 14

Delia sat behind her father at the council meeting, three days after they decided to keep Nethene in place. Nethene sat two chairs down from the king on the left. Mage Kaepli was on the king’s right, Lord Enaur on his left. The Guard Captain, Neoi, sat next to Nethene and next to the Mage, the Chief of Scouts, Mysteso. Mysteso was telling the council about the movements of Iyuno’s forces. It wasn’t good.

“They’re massing, Sire, two day’s ride from here in the Diamond Point valley. I dare say there will be a challenge issued soon.”

King Ucheni nodded. “Captain Neoi, how are your forces prepared?”

“I’ve been recalling squads for the last week, Sire. Most are back. I’ve only kept a few watchers on key passes and routes. We can march in an hour, if you feel the need.”

“It seems prudent, Sire,” Nethene steepled his fingers, “to send your forces to Iyuno’s battleground immediately.”

Delia watched her uncle closely. Something about his tone of voice made the hairs on her arms stand straight up.

“Not wait for the challenge?” Mysteso asked.

Nethene shook his head. “If you arrive before the challenge, Iyuno will know that you’ve been watching him. That you’re not surprised.”

Nethene’s aura was black as night, Delia saw when she shifted her gaze to her magical sight. She clasped her hands in her lap to keep them from twisting. She didn’t trust Nethene and thought his plan to send all of her father’s soldiers to Diamond Point valley dangerous. It could be a trap, or a diversion. She nodded when Neoi said just that.

Nethene glanced at her over the king’s shoulder. She shuddered at his gaze and felt as though he knew exactly what she was thinking. Delia felt for the knife she’d taken to wearing at her waist. It slid a fraction of an inch from the sheathe easily. That made her feel a little better. If the evil elf decided to do anything, she was ready.

Mage Kaepli tapped the table in front of him. “I agree Neoi. We don’t know if these are his entire force or a diversion. Attack could come from any direction.”

“Have you done a scrying, Kaepli?” the king asked.

“Not yet, Sire.” The old mage bowed his head to the king. “But now seems the right time. I’ll prepare as soon as the council is finished.”

Ucheni nodded. “Good. I’ll await your word. That will be all for today.”

There was much scraping of chairs away from the table and bowing to the king. Delia caught Nethene glancing at her as he bowed. A look that to her meant he knew what she was thinking. A shiver ran down her spine and her left hand began forming a fireball of its own accord. She saw him restrain a smile as he turned to leave the council hall. She stood behind her father, ready to burn the elf down if needed.

Kaepli raised an eyebrow as he saw her behind the king. “Delia?”

Ucheni turned in his seat to stare at her. “What’s wrong, daughter.”

Nethene left the room. Delia breathed easier. “It was the way he looked at me, Father. My hand began to form a fireball without my conscious thought.”

Ucheni raised an eyebrow, then looked at the mage. “Is that possible?”

“Apparently. I just saw her do it. You were that afraid?”

Delia nodded. Her hands were trembling. “I don’t trust a thing he said, Father. It’s either a trap or a decoy.”

“You don’t think Iyuno will send a challenge to meet in Diamond Point valley?”

“I do think he will but I don’t think he’ll be there. He’ll be attacking the castle or ambush you on your way.”

The mage stroked his chin. “That could be true, Sire.” He took a deep breath. “Let me see what the scrying bowl says. That should guide your decision.”

The king nodded and the mage hurried off. Ucheni turned to his daughter. “Are you well?”

She took a deep breath. “A little terrified. I’ll recover.” Delia wiped her hand on her skirt.

He took her by the shoulders. “I worry that all of this is too overwhelming for you.”

“I’ll be fine, Father.” She raised her chin and looked him in the eyes. “I just found you, I don’t want to lose you just yet.”

He gave her a hug. “I’ve never had a more enthusiastic defender.”

“I’ll do my best.”

Back in her room she changed into practice clothes and went to the practice ground. She found a spot away from the others and began to throw fireballs. The other elves gathered around to watch. She practiced throwing far, then for accuracy. She answered questions about how she was forming the balls as best she could. Several of the elves began to try it. A few managed small fires in their hands but not the fire she could manage.

She was able to spar with one or two of the elves with staves, a weak weapon for her but one she felt she should at least have a basic grasp of. No one could tell what would or could go wrong in a battle. Delia was worried about that. Being the book keeper on a caravan hardly prepared her for going into a war. She wasn’t sure how she’d react. She thanked the elves for teaching her the staves and went back to her room.

As she washed in the cold water in her basin, Delia spent more time worrying about Nethene. Could he see her aura color with fear? Probably. She wondered if she could mask her aura. How to mask it was the first question. She looked in the polished silver of her mirror. Her aura was green with sparkles. Delia thought hard, pulling energy from her core, to change the color of her aura. It didn’t change at all as far as she could tell. She gave it up as a waste of time. Perhaps Kaepli would know how. She resolved to ask him at dinner. It would be handy to be able to hide what she was feeling from Nethene.

 

Thank You! Come back next week for Part 15.

1034 Words

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

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