Happy New Year 2017: Monday Blog Post

Newest News:

Happy New Year! I hope that you, your family, and all of your friends have a wonderful and productive new year.

One of the things I do each year is set some writing goals. Usually I check in July to see how I’m doing but July was so busy this year, I never did get around to seeing how I was achieving the goals I set in January. Here’s the breakdown.

  1. Goal: Start an author interview post on my website for 2X per month.

I did that. I had two author interviews per month all year long. I plan on continuing this feature on my blog. See below for who’s coming up next, January 4th! Do you enjoy these? Is there an author you’d like to see on the feature? Let me know.

 

  1. Goal: Submit stories to newspapers/magazines about my appearances before and after each appearance.

I didn’t do so well on this goal. I would get busy and forget to send something to the paper for local appearances. However, I think I will keep this goal for 2017. Promotion is a big part of an indie author’s life and a good way to build a local following.

 

  1. Goal: Publish 6 books in 2016

I didn’t publish 6, but I did publish four: Kindred Spirits, Troubled Streets, and just under the wire, Mystery in the Woods. On the non-fiction side, I had 9 hiking articles in the Payson Roundup’s Trails book. Not too shabby. I don’t know if I can do another year with six books published but for 2017 I do want to put together a collection of my Science Fiction. I also have Mystery at the Book Festival to edit and publish. I also have a Brown Rain book drafted, called Tested. Which will also come out in 2017. I have a fun, novelette, Jania, Princess of Tania drafted. This is my take on a campy Space Opera. I may release that ebook only, I’m still thinking about that.

 

  1. Goal: Participate in the April and July Camp NaNo’s and in the November NaNo

I did participate in April and in November but because I run the book festival, there was just no way for me to get involved in the July Camp NaNo.

 

  1. Goal: Produce a Christmas Book this year.

I did not do a Christmas Book this year but some author friends and I were having a little fun brainstorming conversation in December and I came up with some ideas for a Christmas book. Some of them are doing the same. Not all of us liked all of the ideas so even if we all write a Christmas book out of the discussion, they’re going to be very different books. So that would bring my total 2017 published books to 5. Oh! I’m getting closer!

 

  1. Goal: Submit a story to the 2016 FM Anthology.

I did that. It’s a short story about a trip Kyra and Alyssa take just before they leave the Algonqwa tribe, just after Kindred Spirits. It’s called Vision Quest. No publishing date is available yet.

 

  1. Goal: Complete the Holly Lisle World Building class and the How to Write A Series Expanded class

This was not achievable. Holly came down with a life-threatening health condition and her site was totally under reconstruction. I just had a recent email though that she’s back at it, and putting the two classes back up on her renovated site. Yay! It’ll be on the 2017 goal list.

 

  1. Goal: Submit at least 20 stories to contests/magazines in 2016

I came close, 17 stories submitted to contests/magazines. I’ll keep this goal, too.

 

  1. Goal: Participate in May Story A Day

I did and created 12 stories. This goal stays as well.

 

  1. Goal: Increase speaking appearances and opportunities to sell my books to 12.

I didn’t achieve 12 but I did the following:

Appeared on an Indie Author panel at an Arizona Professional Writer meeting 1/21/16, April 16th I was at the Tempe Library Book Festival, June 3rd and 4th was the AZ Mystery Conference, June 30th I was on KRIM local radio as an author and to publicize the Book Festival. July 22nd was the Book Festival. On September 21st, I spoke at the Rim Country Chapter meeting on writing NaNo. In October I spent the 8th and 9th at the Pine, AZ, craft show selling and signing books. November 12th, I was with other local authors at the Romance Cottage here in Payson to chat with visitors to the rental’s open house. Total appearances: 9.

 

  1. Goal: Participate in the Payson Book Festival as an author.

Easy since I’m the organizer. We had a great festival in 2016, over 600 attendees and 95 authors. If you all are in Central Arizona on July 22, 2017, stop by the festival. All the details will be on my Where Will I Be tab.

 

I scheduled a Facebook Live for January 28th at 3pm, Arizona time. I had several people on the broadcast and I answered questions both live and afterward on the Facebook Live recording. That was fun! I’ll schedule another one for January.

 

Giveaways:

Rudolf’s Holiday Giveaway is now over. I’ll be notifying the winners of my prizes soon. Don’t miss out on the next one. It’s being called For the Love of Books, Valentines Giveaway. The link will be on http://conniesrandomthoughts.com/giveaways-and-prizes/. Click on the Rafflecopter link.

 

Shout Out:

This week I’d like to shout out to Megan O’Flynn. She writes mysteries with a supernatural edge. If you like your mysteries a little dark and creepy, you’ll want to check out her interview. Can’t wait? She can be found at: www.meghanoflynn.com.

 

Where Will I Be?

I already have a January appearance. The local Payson Library is doing a Book Blitz. Throughout the month of January, they’re inviting authors to do a reading and take audience questions. I’ll have books to sell there, too. See me at the Payson Library community room, January 11th at 9am. See you there!

 

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 January 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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It’s January So That Means Goals!

Goals! Of course. It’s the start of the year and yep, I do have a list of things in mind to help guide myself along my writer’s course in 2016. You’ll note that I’m only talking about writing goals. I could put a lot of other goals in here but that would lead to chaos. Let’s just stick to the writing goals.

  1. Goal: Start an author interview post on my website for 2X per month.

Note: I began this process in November when I put out a call for authors who’d like to be interviewed. I posted the first interview on January 13th, one of our own Forward Motion authors, B. C. Mathews. I loved how she answered the interview questions. You can see that interview here.

  1. Goal: Submit stories to newspapers/magazines about my appearances before and after each appearance.

The thinking here is that this goal is one of several to help me increase my readers. It’s hard for most readers to find new authors. This is one way I can help increase my visibility.

  1. Goal: Publish 6 books in 2016

I had this as a goal for 2015 and only published two books. This year, though, I already have two books in the editing process, one book finished and resting before editing, and another book about 2/3 finished. I also want to do a collection, probably science fiction, of pieces I really loved and posted on my blog. I’d have to select those stories, polish them up or maybe even expand them, and then edit and publish. That leaves one more book. I’d like to do a Christmas book. I may draft that at the April Camp NaNo. I’ll see what I can think of between January and the end of March.

  1. Goal: Participate in the April and July Camp NaNo’s and in the November NaNo

I mentioned the April Camp NaNo in goal 3. But I like to do the July camp and the November NaNo as well. After all, I have to have something to publish in 2017, don’t I!

  1. Goal: Produce a Christmas Book this year.

Again, see goal number 3. I love to read Christmas stories. Aside from A Visit from St. Nick, the first Christmas story I remember was The Gift of the Magi, by O’Henry. I read that story in grade school and it always stuck with me. It’s become my yardstick for what a good Christmas story is all about.

  1. Goal: Submit a story to the 2016 FM Anthology.

This is one of those goals that may be out of my control. If Forward Motion doesn’t have a 2016 anthology, I want to submit a story to some other anthology. In any event, it will get done.

  1. Goal: Complete the Holly Lisle World Building class and the How to Write A Series Expanded class

This is another one that may be out of my control. The How to Write a Series class is dependent upon Holly Lisle’s health and her ability to finish writing the class. The other one, the World Building class, that one is within my control. So, it’s up to me to schedule the time to improve my writing!

  1. Goal: Submit at least 20 stories to contests/magazines in 2016

I might have been ambitious here. However, I have already subbed: Bell Ring, Rest (a poem), The Reunion, and Eavesdroppers, to various magazines. My stories Gold Dream and After Math were subbed in late December so I’m counting them for 2016 as well. That makes 6 stories out by mid-January. Not a bad start.

  1. Goal: Participate in May Story A Day

May Story A Day is a writing challenge on the Forward Motion site. We can try for a story every day of May or set ourselves a goal. My usual goal is twelve stories. That way I can write short stories instead of just flash stories and I have a pool of stories to apply to number 8!

  1. Goal: Increase speaking appearances and opportunities to sell my books to 12.

This goal works hand in hand with number 2. I’m trying to expand the number of readers of my books.

  1. Goal: Participate in the Payson Book Festival as an author.

This goal is a no-brainer. I’m the organizer of the event. Unless I’m deathly ill, I’ll be there.

You’ll notice I don’t have the goals in chronological order. I put them down as I thought about them. It doesn’t bother me that they’re not in order. I’ll get to all of them sooner or later. How about you? Do you have a few goals for 2016? What’s driving them? I’d love to hear your comments.

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, or Smashwords today! You can also see all of my books on www.ConniesRandomThoughts.com, Books tab. If you’ve read any of my books, please drop a review on the site where you bought it. It’s a big help to me in the book rankings each vendor uses to promote the books on their sites. Thanks in advance.

The Merry-Go-Round Blog Tour is sponsored by the website Forward Motion (http://www.fmwriters.com). The tour is you, the reader, traveling 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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Merry-Go-Round Blog Post: Conclusions

Goal by oscarsnapshotter via DeviantArt.com

Goal by oscarsnapshotter via DeviantArt.com

Goals? Arrggh, I haven’t looked at my goals since May, I think. Let’s see what I’ve accomplished and what I haven’t. I feel like Santa, checking my list, lol! So much has happened to me this year I really need to think about what is new and what isn’t. I’m including May’s status first, then my current status.

Status:

1. Goal: Upgrade my blog site to a real website

MAY: The blog is half transformed. If you look for www.conniesrandomthoughts.com, you’ll find it but I’m having trouble getting into it from the WordPress side. I also want to dress it up better. Many of the cool things I had on my blog did not transfer over to the website. I have to figure all of that out. Stay tuned.

DECEMBER: The blog is now a website. I seemed to have lost all of the WordPress followers, maybe not, but I am signing up new followers so that’s a good thing. Goal achieved.

2. Goal: Research the pros and cons of selling my books from my own website. If it seems good, get that page set up.

MAY: No activity

DECEMBER: Research the pros and cons of selling my books from my own website. If it seems good, get that page set up. I haven’t begun selling from my own site, but I am selling directly on Gumroad.com which allows me to sell both paperback and ebooks. I have to sell the paperbacks from my home, which means I need a supply of each book on hand to satisfy any buyers. So far, I don’t have buyers but, that could change. I am also selling directly on ChateBooks.com. ChateBooks is a great, reader-friendly site. Every book has its own chat! So until my sales increase, I’m sticking with these options for direct sales. After that, I will re-examine selling directly from my own website. I’m calling this, goal achieved

3. Goal: Publish 6 books in 2015

MAY: One book published in January. One (from November) is being edited. The 3rd book in my brown rain series is drafted. A new series, All About Bob, has the first book drafted.

DECEMBER: I published a second book, Mystery at the Fair, in July. That was it. I wrote 2 novellas, and part of one novel and am finishing up a second novel manuscript from November’s NaNo. Hopefully next year I’ll get more out. Goal not accomplished.

4. Goal: Participate in the April and July Camp NaNo’s and in the November NaNo

MAY: Participated in April Camp NaNo! Yay, a small win for me.

DECEMBER: Participated in July’s Camp NaNo drafting Mystery in the Woods, which is not finished. Also in the November NaNo with my Zoe Ohale book. So this goal was achieved.

5. Goal: Produce a Christmas Book this year.

MAY: Working on my 2013 2YN story, Mrs. Claus. Maybe.

DECEMBER: Mrs. Claus is not completed. No other Christmas story was written. Goal not achieved.

6. Goal: Submit a story to the 2015 FM Anthology.

MAY: Had an idea, changed it, haven’t messed with it in two months. It may be part of the May Story a Day or the July CampNaNo.

DECEMBER: In late June I took a flash fiction I had written and as part of July’s CampNaNo, expanded it into a full short story. I did submit that to the anthology. Goal achieved.

7. Goal: Complete the Holly Lisle World Building class and the How to Write A Series Expanded class

MAY: Still working on the How to Write a Series Expanded class. Holly’s been putting it together slowly, that’s what being on the beta group means. No matter. I don’t mind working slowly.

DECEMBER: With all of the July, September, and November activities and October’s vacation, I didn’t get back to the World Building Class. I also haven’t finished the Write a Series Expanded class as Holly got sick and then has been totally involved in a complete site rebuild and revisions of her major workshops. Will have to pick both of these back up in January. Goal not achieved.

8. Goal: Develop a schedule of contests for short story submission process

MAY: I have the schedule of contests. What I don’t have is good material to submit. Working.

DECEMBER: I have submitted to a couple of the contests from the list I generated before May. I didn’t feel I had a lot to send off.  Goal achieved.

9. Goal: Participate in May Story A Day

MAY: Participating in MAD. So far 4 stories drafted.

DECEMBER: Completed 10 flash and short stories in May. I thought that was pretty good. Goal achieved.

10. Goal: Increase speaking appearances and opportunities to sell my books.

MAY: Appeared at an Arizona Professional Writers lunch in February. Did a book signing locally in March. Plan on a book release in July and an appearance at the Payson Book Festival on July 25th. Have my tickets and table for the InD’tale conference in September.

DECEMBER: I did the July book release, and was an author at the Payson Book Festival. I attended the InD’tale conference in September. In October, while on vacation, did a book signing in Gloversville, NY. In November I had a table at the November 14th VETFest in Avondale, and did a workshop in Pine for the Pine/Strawberry writer’s group. I also did a workshop in Camp Verde in November, Critiquing on a Shoestring. The addition of Gumroad.com and Chatebooks.com is also part of the increase in opportunities to get my name out there. Goal achieved.

11. Goal: Participate in the Payson Book Festival as an author.

MAY: All ready to appear at the book festival.

DECEMBER: Participated. Goal achieved.

For me, 2015 was a year mostly successes! Three goals were not achieved but progress was made on them so I don’t feel too bad. How about you? Did you have a few goals for 2015? How did you do? What would you do differently? I’d love to hear your comments.

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, or Smashwords today! You can also see all of my books on www.ConniesRandomThoughts.com, Books tab. If you’ve read any of my books, please drop a review on the site where you bought it. It’s a big help to me in the book rankings each vendor uses to promote the books on their sites. Thanks in advance.

 

The Merry-Go-Round Blog Tour is sponsored by the website Forward Motion (http://www.fmwriters.com). The tour is you, the reader, traveling 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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New Appearance Date

I moved to Arizona in July of 2010 from upstate New York. My hubby and I love it here. So much so that we haven’t been back to visit friends and family in the five years we’ve been here.

So this year we’ve decided to go back to NY and visit. Since I’ll be in my hometown, I thought it would be cool to do a book signing. I contacted the Mohawk Harvest Co-op on Main St. in Gloversville and spoke with Chris, the manager of the co-op.

He’s all for my doing a book signing at his store! So on October 10th, 10am – noon, I’ll be at the Mohawk Harvest Co-operative Market, 30 N. Main St., Gloversville NY.

Come on by, get some wonderful food and chat with me.

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Monday Blog Post: Updates for May

Bird, Rufous-sided Towhee, Randy Cockrell

Rufous-sided Towhee by Randy Cockrell

This month’s challenge is called May Story A Day, May SAD and I committed to write 10 stories for the month and actually shoot for 12. As of the 16th, I have 6 stories written, 5 flashes and a short story. In my other writing group I’m in a 5 minutes per day writing challenge. I’m supposed to write at least 5 minutes per day. I’m keeping up with the 5 minutes of writing per day pretty well. I have missed a day or two but I’ve been diligent about putting something on the screen every day.

Our illness appears to be over. There is still some coughing but we felt well enough to go hiking last Tuesday. Probably not our best move. We hadn’t fully recovered yet and the hike wiped us both out. We’ll be better on this Tuesday, really, we will.

Last week I mentioned that I’ve upgraded my newsletter. I’m also upgrading my website. I now have a basic site up and running at www.conniesrandomthoughts.com. Notice there is no more wordpress in the URL. I’ll be closing down www.conniesrandomthoughts.wordpress.com. Go check up the new site and follow that before you lose out on weekly stories and my writing updates!

I have finished content editing Eavesdroppers  but the problem is the story ended up 600 words too long. I’ve been cutting words without cutting the changes however I still have 150 or so words to go. The editors at Silver Jay Media have offered to help me with it and I think I will. Then I’ll go to the line edits.

The Payson Book Festival is now hot and heavy into finalizing author lists and starting up the production of a print program for the event. We have so many great authors, sponsors, and vendors; we hope to get a great program that attendees will treasure for a long time to come. Want to help the book festival this year? Buy an ad! Mark your calendar to come to Payson for July 25th to meet us. We’d love to chat with you.

Today’s picture is a rufous-sided towhee sitting on top of the metal hook that holds the hummingbird feeder. A handsome bird.

Thanks for stopping by my blog today.

If you’re interested, click here to sign up for my newsletter. I make special offers to my newsletter people that I do not make on the website.

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: Things are Moving Fast

Peach, Tomato, Seedlings, Connie Cockrell

Peach (very top) and tomato seedlings by Connie Cockrell

We’re trimming up around the yard. Last week hubby trimmed some diseased branches from a tree in the back yard and took out a tree that was growing too close to another and leaning over the house. The fact that it was a juniper with a pollen pod on the end of each needle and spewing pollen all over the place was an added bonus. I have managed to get 4 of the 12 rosebushes trimmed and did another run of pulling mint out of my deepest square foot garden bed. Onion and parsley I planted last November are coming up. A bonus, a peach pit that had been composted, sprouted in another of my garden beds. I thought it was a weed at first until I realized the pit was still attached. It has transplanted nicely into a small container where I will try and keep it alive. A friend gave me a small container of mystery tomato seedlings, just getting their first set of new leaves. She had no idea which seedlings were which and at this stage they’re pretty hard to differentiate. However, I selected six seedlings at random spots in the container, hoping I get six different tomato plants. I’ve passed the seedlings on to another friend. There’s no sense in us buying seedlings when we have free ones available.

My book signing on March 21st at the Scoops Ice Cream store here in Payson was slightly disappointing. However, I did sell 3 books and garnered 3 sign-ups for my newsletter. My mom came with me and we had a chance for a nice chat.

The month has progressed quickly. I can’t believe it’s already the 23rd. I’ve prepped my scene cards for April’s Camp NaNo. I’m starting it with the 3rd book in my Brown Rain series. Then I’ll move on to cleaning up random stories I have started but not finished.

The Payson Book Festival planning is moving right along. You can see the information on www.PaysonBookFestival.org if you’d like. Kick-off pricing on author tables is now over. There’s still time to sign up for a table, though. You can share a table, too, to make your costs less. Fill out the Author Registration and get that in to us so we can reserve you a table. Author registration closes at the end of April so we can put the program together. You’re not an author? Then mark your calendar to come to Payson for July 25th to meet us. We’d love to chat with you.

I submitted my short story, After Math, for line editing. I’m looking forward to getting it out to emagazines.

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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Flash Fiction Friday Story: Chapter 1 from It’s a Question of College

Soccer, Randy Cockrell

Soccer Game by Randy Cockrell

I have a confession, I totally did not get a story done for today. *blushes* By way of apology, I give you the first chapter to It’s a Question of College. Some of you know that I’m writing a YA series called All About Bob. This series is a result of a writing exercise I did over a year ago. It’s still rough, I’ll be editing and rewriting after it’s finished. And if you can think of a better title, I’ll be happy to consider it.

This chapter is over 1600 words, so a little longer than normal. Enjoy.

Chapter 1 It’s a Question of College

Bob ran as fast as he could taking the front porch steps two at a time gasping for breath from the run up the hill where his parent’s run down two-story frame house stood. He’d stopped looking at the neighborhood years ago. Dead grass, mattresses with the stuffing coming out, crappy sofas and armchairs on sagging porches were so normal he didn’t even notice them anymore. He raised the rusty hinged top to the mailbox now only loosely nailed to the wall beside the front door. Shit, he thought as he peered inside. She’s already gotten the mail.

He left the top open when the hinges froze in place and opened the screen door, more holes than screen, to open the front door. The glass was duct-taped along three long cracks radiating from the edges from the last time his father slammed the door in one of his drunken rages. He’d stopped noticing that, too. He closed the door quietly. Maybe his mother was up in her room, sleeping off the afternoon binge. School books tucked under his arm, he stepped softly across the worn carpet to the kitchen.

His mother was in front of the stove, stirring what smelled like spaghetti sauce. He rolled his eyes in his head. Of course today she felt like staying a little sober, he could see the bottle of beer, condensation on the outside of it, sitting on the counter beside the stove. And she’s fixing dinner — of all days. He looked on the kitchen table, there was the mail. Just as he was going to fade back into the living room she turned and saw him.

“Bobbie, didn’t hear ya come in.” She reached for the beer and took a long pull, setting it back on the counter with a burb. “Opps,” she giggled. “Sorry.”

“Uh, yeah. Soccer practice is over.” He took a breath and walked into the kitchen. “You’re makin’ supper.” He did his best to look casual as he went to the table and dropped his books next to the mail. The top envelope was the light bill. He didn’t dare search the pile while she was watching.

“I felt like spaghetti tonight.”

He wasn’t surprised. It was about the only thing she ever made. “Great, Ma. Sounds good.” He went to the fridge and opened the door. Inside was two 18 packs of beer, the kind his father drank, three sticks of butter, half a loaf of bread and two colas. He took a cola and shut the fridge door. “I’ll do my homework while you cook.” He went back to the table, shoved up against the dirty white painted wall, and casually knocked the mail to the floor as he picked up his books. He put the books back on the table and crouched down to pick up the mail, being careful to pick up one at a time so he could skim the return addresses. It wasn’t in the pile. Bob stood and tapped them into a neat stack and put them back on the table.

“Sorry about that.” He got his books and went to his room. The days were getting shorter, he had to turn on the lamp on the rickety desk he’d found three blocks away a couple of years ago with a Free sign on it. The chair was from a yard sale. He traded the owner a yard mowing for it. The books fell on the desk with a thump, causing the whole thing to shake. Bob flopped in the chair a sigh escaping. That was close, he thought as he dug a pen out of his notebook. I thought for sure the report card was supposed to be out today. He did not want his parents to see that card.  He opened his math text and found the page with the homework problems. Math was his hardest subject so he tended to do that homework first.

An hour later he heard his mother shout from the kitchen, “Dinner!”

He had one more problem to do but decided to do it after supper. His stomach was growling. The two hour soccer practice after school burned the peanut butter sandwich he had for lunch away fast. He was halfway through the kitchen when he noticed his father sitting in the end seat at the table. Bob stopped. “Uh, Hi dad. Didn’t hear ya come in.”

“Nose always stuck in a book,” Ted Kowalski snorted. He drained his can of beer and slammed it on the table. “Get me another one, kid.”

Bob got the beer as his mother drained the spaghetti and put it next to his father’s plate. He took the empty and tossed it into the trash. When he was ten he’d learned about recycling in school. That night he’d picked up his father’s empty aluminum can and rinsed it out and set it on the drain board.

“What the hell ya doin’,” his father had screamed at him from the kitchen table.

Bob walked over to his father and explained. He knew his father, a sanitation worker, would understand. Ted reached out and cuffed Bob in the head leaving a red mark across the left side of his face. “Don’t be a smart ass. That recyclin’ is a bunch of shit. Just something to make my life miserable.”

Bob never tried it again, at least in the house. He got a glass of water from the sink and sat down at the other end of the table. His mother, Marcy, sat on the long side of the table, between them. She put the pan of pasta in the middle of the table. No bowl for her. That was one less thing to wash.

After Ted and Marcy dished up their food, Bob put some on his plate. His mother passed him the green can of parmesan cheese. There was only a teaspoon left in the can. Bob sighed to himself. Sighing aloud would only get him a slap. He wound the pasta onto his fork and took the bite. The pasta was overdone and mushy. “Good dinner, ma,” he said as he went for the next forkful. It was food and would fill his belly.

Marcy drank some beer, burped, and said, “Thanks, Bobbie.”

Bob had tuned out his father’s detailed description of his miserable day on the garbage truck, his thoughts were on the report card his mother had. He tried to think of a way to tell them he really wanted to go to college. His soccer coach thought it could be done. Bob didn’t want to work on a garbage truck like his old man. There had to be something better. They were half way through their plates of spaghetti when his mother pulled an envelope out of her sweatpants pocket. “This came in the mail today.” She put it next to Ted’s plate.

Her husband eyed the envelope. “What the hell is it? A bill?”

She grinned at her son. “It’s Bobbie’s report card.”

Bob’s stomach sank. He’d managed to keep them from seeing his report card all last year. Why the hell didn’t she stick to her routine!

His old man put his fork down and picked up the envelope. He pulled the two page computer printout from the envelope. “What the hell is this shit? When I was in school ya got an actual card.”

Marcy giggled, her thin graying dirty blond pony tail swinging behind her head. “It’s all computers now, Ted.”

“Bullshit,” he muttered as he peered at the small print. He flipped the page, read it, then slapped it on the table. “B’s and C’s. I always knew you was stupid.” Ted picked up his beer and drained it. “Get me another one, stupid.”

Bob picked up the empty, dropped it in the trash and got the new one, putting it beside his father’s plate. His stomach was churning the spaghetti as he sat back down. “I’m doing better this year than last.”

He father eyed him across the table. “I don’t remember any report cards from last year.”

Bob kept his face neutral. “No? They weren’t that great. Nothing to remember.” He picked up his fork and twirled spaghetti around with it.

Ted snorted. “I’ll bet.”

Bob choked the rest of his plate of food down. His father wouldn’t tolerate wasted food. Marcy picked up her empty plate and her husband’s. Ted got up and went to the living room after draining his can of beer and getting a fresh one.

“I think you’re doin’ good, Bobbie. Don’t pay him no mind, school was never his favorite.” She rinsed the plates and put them in the sink, grabbed a beer and went to watch TV with her husband.

Bob scraped the rest of what was on his plate into the trash. His father wouldn’t know. He never touched the trash. That was Bob’s job. He rinsed his plate and put it in the sink. Then he dug the left over spaghetti out of the pot and put it in a bowl and covered it with plastic wrap. He rinsed the pot. He left the dishes for his mother. She tried to have him wash them one night a few years ago and Ted exploded. That was women’s work. His son wouldn’t do women’s work. Bob shrugged. He’d prefer to do the dishes. At least then they wouldn’t be sitting there for two or three days.

He picked up  the forgotten report card, tucked it into his shirt and went to his room. His parents had already forgotten about it. Bob would forge their signature and take it to school in the morning.

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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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Merry-Go-Round Blog Tour: January – New Beginnings

Spring Flowers

Connie’ Flowers by Randy Cockrell

Hello and welcome back to the Merry-Go-Round Blog tour. I hope you’re as excited about the New Year as I am.

I have a number of new projects planned for 2015.

First, I’m finalizing my story, Lost Rainbows. I received the prompt for this last January and a few of my fellow Forward Motion authors took the prompt too. Every story is different though a few of us went with the obvious, a story about leprechauns. While I generally wanted the story to be short, it turned into a novelette, 16,000 + words! I’m in the final stages of editing then I’ll self publish by the end of this month. Oh, I’d better hurry. It’s halfway through January already!

I’m working on a class, How to Write a Series Extended, from Holly Lisle. The class started last June and I’ve written 2 novelettes so far in my series. I call it the Brown Rain series. I hit a real milestone in December as I was catching up on the lessons. I’ve got a loose plan for the third book and I’ve regained the excitement I had at the start of the class. That book will get written this year. It may get published this year, or may not. Depends on when I actually write it.

In November I stepped outside my comfort zone and wrote a cozy mystery. I’ve just started editing it this month. Since finishing those Series classes in December, I’ve gained more enthusiasm for this series, I call it the Jean Hays series, as well. I already have an initial idea for the next book here as well. I’ll use the methods I just learned to flesh out my idea. No idea, though, when I’ll be able to write it. It may end up being drafted in November for my NaNo novel. I’ll see how things work out.

I also want to gather 5-10 of my flashes, do an edit, and put them in a collection to publish. Probably a SciFi/Fantasy collection as I haven’t done one of those yet. What’s nice is that I can expand on the stories. I don’t limit myself to just 1000 words after I’ve posted them as flash fiction stories on my blog. I can flesh them out a little more.

I’ve put up as a goal to publish 6 books this year. So far I’ve talked about 3, so I’ll have to get writing if I’m going to put up half a dozen books.

Other plans, to participate in May’s Story a Day challenge. I seem to be able to write about 10 short stories in that month. Always a good thing as it gives me more fodder to send to contests, submit to e-zines, and add to my own collections.

So that’s it. Lots of work planned. Lots of stories to be written. Tons of fun to be had. Hope your year is as productive as you’d like it to be.
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: Starting a New Year

New Year, New Year's Eve, Snow, Lighted Tree

New Year’s Eve Snow by Randy Cockrell

Happy New Year to you and your families. The holidays are over, we’re still digging tinsel out of the carpeting and the new eating and exercise plan is still operational. Whew. 2014 was a tough year for a lot of my friends and family. I’m hoping 2015 is much, much, better. One way I’ve found to help me make my year move along on an even keel is to have a plan. Yeah, I know, but I’ve used goals for decades to help me organize my thoughts about what I need or better yet, want, to get done during the year. Additionally, it’s great to look back in December and go, “Whoa! Look what I’ve accomplished!”

Here are the major writing things I want to accomplish in 2015.

– Publish 6 more books

– Turn my wordpress blog into a full-fledged web site

– Participate in the April and July Camp NaNo’s and the November NaNo

– Complete the Holly Lisle World Building class and the How to Write A Series Expanded class

– Submit short stories to contests on a schedule I’m developing.

– Increase speaking appearances and opportunities to sell my books

– Participate in the Payson Book Festival as an author

I know, it looks a bit overwhelming. I didn’t talk about continuing to produce a flash story every Friday for my blog, or any personal stuff like travel, gardening, projects, volunteer work, you know, life stuff. All of that has to be done as well.

Goals help me plot out a work/life balance. If I see I’ve really scheduled a lot of writing stuff, I can back out on the plan at the beginning of the year and cut myself and my hubby some slack for running off and going camping or travelling.

What do you do to plan out your year? Just take it as it comes or jot down some things you’d like to accomplish? Go ahead and share in the comments. I’d love to hear from you.

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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