End of February: Monday Blog Post

Newest News:

I totally spaced out doing Monday’s blog post last week. *Rolls my eyes* I have no idea what I was thinking. Apologies for missing it.

Update on the foot braces. I’ve taken short walks around the area. One was at the town’s newest trail, The American Gulch trail. This is a short trail, maybe 1/2 mile, that circles a dry streambed. The town is working to bring the water back to it and make it the centerpiece of a park area. Also planned for it is a heritage apple orchard. I’m excited to see how the new park will look.

Mystery at the Book Festival manuscript was sent off to my editor last week. Looking at the end of March before I can get it back. I also did contact a cover designer and we’ve made a deal. I’ve sent appropriate files, except for the blurb on the back. I won’t have the blurb until the editor is done. Sigh. Can’t wait to see what the cover people do.

 

Giveaways:

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

 

Shout Out:

Gail Kittleson is my featured author this week on Wednesday’s Author Interview. A women’s fiction and memoir writer, her books are focus on World War II. Can’t wait for the whole interview? Check out www.gailkittleson.com to see what she’s up to.

 

Where Will I Be?

Last week on February 23rd, at 5pm Arizona time, I was interviewed on BackPorchWriter.com. I had a blast with the host, Kori Miller talking about writing, mysteries, and a few of the strangest things we’ve run into while researching. This interview is in preparation for the April B2BCyCon, an on-line conference that runs from April 7th to the 10th. Both events are open to readers so as I get closer, I’ll give you more details.

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

 

Newsletter Sign Up:

Click here to sign up for my newsletter. I’ve put sign-up prizes on both the regular and the Brown Rain newsletter sign-ups. That’s right. If you sign up for my newsletter you get a free story from me. Be prepared for fun and contests! Click on the video link for a short video from me. Hear what I’m working on. Join my “A” Team to be the first to read my books and hear what new books are coming.

 

Newest Book Release:

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

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Living with the Road

Georgia AT Hike0006

Eddie sat in the molded orange plastic chair. He pulled out his netbook and logged into the Laundromat’s WiFi. He only came into Bland every 7 or 8 days. This was his chance to check email for messages from his mom and dad and the few people he still kept in touch with.

Bland, Virginia, wasn’t much, a wide spot at the intersection of I71 and State Highway 52. The post office, small grocery, Laundromat and tiny hiker store supported the hikers going to the Appalachian Trail through the local Blue Ridge Mountains.

The email from his mother was upbeat. Everyone and everything was fine. Did he want anything sent?

The only other email was from Vickie. He remembered hiking with her along the Appalachian Trail the year he left the Army. Three months after his discharge, the idea of walking 2300 miles through the quiet of the woods sounded like the thing to do. He spent the last of his saved pay on backpacking gear and headed for the southern terminus of the trail, Dahlonega, Georgia.

It was tougher than boot camp and Afghanistan combined, minus the shooting. He caught up to Vickie, trail name, Mountain Mama, in North Carolina. She didn’t talk much and was easy to talk to. He camped in his own tent. His nightmares didn’t allow him in the close confines of the shelters found along the trail.

Four months later, in Millinocket, Maine, they traded emails. She went back to her family’s farm in Vermont. He went back to his parents. That last month at home with his parents was awful. He couldn’t sleep, nightmares about Afghanistan kept him a nervous wreck. They wanted him to see a shrink, take drugs. Eddie couldn’t do it. The first trip to the VA shrink was his last. The wrecks wandering the halls of the hospital were more than he could take. He told them he had to get away for longer.

Now he camped along the trail, moving from shelter to shelter every few days to keep the Trail Runners happy. They didn’t want people setting up permanent home in any shelter. It was fine by him. He could talk to the day hikers about his through hike. He could talk to through hikers about what they’d find up ahead. He could sit in the quiet of the woods and listen to the birds and watch the deer pass by. It was enough. Until now.

Vickie was going to the hiker festival, Trail Days, in Damascus, Virginia. Did he want to meet there? He looked at the date on the computer. The festival was two days away. No way he could hike halfway down Virginia in two days. He wanted to see her again. He hadn’t had a nightmare in three months. Without thinking he hit reply and typed, “Would love to meet up. Same campground. See you there,” and hit send. He wondered afterward what he was thinking. He hadn’t had a car since he started camping here a year ago. He finished his laundry and hitched a ride back up highway 52 to the trailhead. It took four hours to hike to his tent. He stuffed it all in his pack and headed back down the mountain. It was 6pm when he got back to the highway and stuck out his thumb.

A guy heading south picked him up. “I’m going to Broadford, you goin’ that far?” he asked the driver.

“Sure. Hop in.” The driver saw a thin, dirty, long-haired, bearded guy as they headed down the highway. “Been living rough for awhile?”

Eddie nodded. “Been backpacking. There’s a hiker festival in Damascus I’m going to.”

The driver nodded. “Big adventure. I always wanted to do something like that, but, you know. Wife, kids, job. There’s never any time.”

Eddie nodded. He heard that a lot from the weekend hikers. The guy let him off at a small truck stop. “Good luck, getting to Damascus.”

Luckily a trucker was headed down 91, the Saltville Highway. He looked Eddie over before he decided. “You ain’t no junkie are ya?”

“No, sir. Hiker, headed to Damascus.”

“I can drop you at Glade Spring.”

“I’ll take it.”

They left the truck stop at 10pm. The trucker turned on his Sirius radio and they listened to classic country until he reached Glade Spring. It was late when the trucker pulled into a gas station there. “Stay out of trouble, son.” He advised.

“Yes, sir.” Eddie dragged his pack down. “Thank you for the ride.”

It was too late to hitch. There was hardly any traffic on the road. He found a patch of woods and set up a camp. The next morning he was on highway 609, headed for Abingdon. He slid his pack on his back and started walking. It was mid-morning before he caught a break. “Where ya heading?” the young guy asked. Eddie hesitated. The car reeked of pot. “Abingdon.”

“Yeah, I’m going there. Get in.”

He decided the short ride was worth the risk and tossed his pack in the back seat. They no more than started when the guy offered Eddie a joint.

“Thanks, man, but, I’m allergic.”

The driver stared. “No shit, man. That sucks.” He lit up anyway.

Eddie rolled the window down a little, letting some of the warm May air into the car. The driver cranked the radio up on some headbanger station. By the time they got to Abingdon, Eddie had a headache. “Thanks man,” he told the driver when he left the car.

“No problem.”

In Abingdon, Eddie caught the hiker shuttle to Damascus. They dropped him at the huge campground southeast of town where most of the hikers stayed. He hurried to his old spot. Vickie recognized him immediately. “War Dog!” she yelled and ran right to him. She gave him a bear hug then looked him over. “You’re not eating enough. Come on over, I’ve got stew.”

Eddie felt like he’d come home.

The End

999 Words

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

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Flash Fiction Friday: Hiking Alone

Alien encounters are a big Sci-Fi staple. I can’t tell you how many stories I’ve read over my life about that kind of thing. Here’s another!

Hiking Alone

My pack dropped to the ground. The sun was an hour from going down, time to rest from my day’s hiking. I was at the west edge of a clearing, about football field size in an irregular shape. Forest surrounded the clearing, providing shade on my end. I’d get the early morning sun, getting me up early to eat, and get going again.

Between the stress of work, an on again, off again boyfriend and a dysfunctional family, I’d had it. I really needed to get out on the trail and leave the rest of the world behind. Neither my family nor my boyfriend understood backpacking, for them, this was just another of my crazy trips. My co-workers thought I’d lost my mind and repeatedly told me so at the coffee machine.

Yeah, I really needed to get away.

It was quiet, only birds and bees and bugs. I emptied my pack and put up my tent. More like a tarp shelter, it used my hiking poles as the supports. I could roll the end panels back and stare at the stars all night if I wanted. Dinner was boiling water over a freezer bag of a home dehydrated meal and letting it set for ten minutes or so. I ate watching the sun go down, turning the clouds in the sky scarlet.

After washing my spoon and drying the pot, I put everything in a bear canister and hung it from a tree about 100 feet away. I settled in for the night, watching the stars come out one by one. My mind emptied of the stresses and worries of my life back in the world. I went to sleep with the full moon peeking over the tree tops.

A blinding light woke me up. I pushed up onto my elbows as a huge spaceship came down at the other end of my clearing. I grabbed my watch, 12:30am. Rubbing my eyes, I looked again. I wasn’t dreaming. A wash of warm air blew over me as the ship touched down. Fighting out of my sleeping bag, I jammed my feet into my boots and laced them tight. The ship’s big lights turned off and what looked like running lights came on around the circumference of the ship.

When the door opened my amazement turned to fear. Oh crap, something’s getting off the ship! I felt in my right pocket, my Leatherman Juice was there. But what’s a three inch knife blade going to do? I didn’t want to get that close anyway. My hiking poles were tied to the tent, no help there. Maybe I should have brought a gun after all. The ship noise stopped and the clearing went silent, not even a cricket chirp.

The light from the ship door dimmed and several beings came down the ramp single file. When the last one was off, the door closed and the running lights dimmed to nearly nothing. I moved to the edge of the woods. My eyes were adjusting to the dark and I didn’t know where the aliens were.

I slipped behind a tree, peaking around it, straining to see. I could hear a low hum, not unpleasant but nothing I could understand. When my eyes adjusted the full moon was shining and the clearing was nearly bright as day. The aliens were in the center of the clearing in a circle, humming and standing with their arms straight up, faces to the sky.

Despite my better judgment, I stepped back to my tent, watching as the aliens moved in a circle, swaying back and forth, arms rising and falling, the hum louder, then softer. I don’t know how long that went on but when they stopped, I was only thirty feet from the dancers. They turned as one and stared at me. I was dazed until one broke away from the group. My heart started thumping but I didn’t move.

The creature stopped about four feet away and raised its’ hand up, open, like some sort of Indian from a 1950’s Western when it says “How”.

“Greetings,” it said.

English? It speaks English?

“We mean you no harm. We are here to celebrate.”

Celebrate? Celebrate what? “Uhh, Hi.”

“Come dance with us,” it invited me, holding out its’ hand.

Damned if I didn’t take it! As soon as I did, I felt a slight tingle and suddenly the night sparkled and the hum of the aliens became richer and filled with a meaning I didn’t grasp.

It pulled me gently into the group and we began to dance.  Joy filled me, wonder surrounded me, and the stars and the moon danced in the sky with us. I lost track of time. As the moon went down the dancers stopped; their hum growing and growing until it seemed like the entire universe and I were pulsing in time.

We dropped our arms to our sides and the alien who had brought me into the circle led me gently back to my tent. When I turned around it was entering the ship, the lights on it brightening and a rumble vibrating the ground. The alien stopped and waved to me, then the door closed. As I watched the ship leave another wash of warm air came across the clearing as it rose into the brightening sky.  I sat, then lay down, never taking my eyes off the ship until it was out of sight. I lay there until the morning sunlight spilled over me, steam rising from my dew soaked clothes.

I felt refreshed, cleansed, as though I’d slept for twelve hours. I never told anyone about my encounter. I mean, how do you not sound like a crazy person with that story. But on the bad days, I think back to that dance in the moonlight and smile.

Words 973

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

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