Happy April: Monday Blog Post

Newest News:

Last Friday and Saturday hubby and I drove up to Nellis AFB to celebrate the promotion of my nephew to Chief Master Sergeant. We were very proud of his accomplishment and it was nice to see so many of the family. We’re spread all over the U.S. and don’t get together very often. He’s a handsome young man, isn’t he?

April’s Camp NaNo started Saturday and I was on the road all day. So I hand wrote four pages of the next Zoe Ohale story in the car. I’m not sure how many words that is, I still need to type them up. At least I got a few words in. After I finish drafting this blog post (written on Sunday), I’ll have to do that and see what my first day’s shortfall is and work extra hard to catch up.

I bought nine dollars worth of pansies at Walmart last week and put some in my front planter, and the rest in two pots I had in the back yard. Aside from watering, not much gardening though the Swiss Chard was big enough to cut and have with dinner one night last week. I just love going out to the garden and picking my food, bringing it in and cooking it up. Talk about convenience food!

Last week I talked about my Elf Slave story. I have 3 episodes written and it’s not done yet. So that story is going to run into May, at least. I’m not fond of Elf Slave as a title, what else can I call it?

Giveaways:

My multi-author giveaway is called Spring into Reading, Easter Giveaway is now on. Grand Prize is $100 in Paypal cash and lots of other prizes from 48 authors. My prize winners of the St. Patrick’s Day giveaway are Ashley Nichole Poteet and Zarah Robinson. Congratulations ladies. Check your emails for a message from me about your prizes.

 

Shout Out:

Author Marsha Ward

I have an interview this week with Marsha Ward. An author local to me, she is just putting out a historical fiction cook book with recipes from one of her characters. I love the cover on this cook book and it not only has recipes, but also tiny stories. I think you’ll love it. Can’t wait till Wednesday? Check her out at http://marshaward.com.

 

Where Will I Be?

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

This coming weekend, I’ll be part of B2BCyCon, an on-line conference that runs from Friday April 7th to Sunday the 10th. Events are open to readers and here’s a link to my Science Fiction Author Showcase: https://www.goodreads.com/topic/show/18367091-2017-connie-cockrell-science-fiction-author-showcase. On this link I’ll be talking about the whole Brown Rain series and my other books in general. I may even offer up a prize. I’ve added some content. Please feel free to comment on the posts. Are you a Goodreads user? Love to see you there. If you aren’t a Goodreads member, here’s your chance to find a ton of books, chats with other readers and even ask an author a question. Me included! If you’re a Facebook user, I’ll be part of a Science Fiction event on that platform at  https://www.facebook.com/events/1466110423422872/. It will run Saturday, from 5pm Eastern time until midnight Eastern. So if you’re on Pacific time (or Arizona time like me) that’s 2pm – 9pm. Other fun stuff is happening on http://b2bcycon.com/ so be sure to check it all out. Our panel discussions on multiple topics are being posted as we speak. Check those out on http://b2bcycon.com/panels/.

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

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

 

Newsletter Sign Up:

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

 

Newest Book Release:

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

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Flash Fiction Friday Story: 4th of July

Fireworks, 4th of July, Randy Cockrell

Fireworks by Randy Cockrell

“OK, people, listen up!”

We were in the cafeteria. The troopers all left off their conversations and turned to the front of the room. Unwashed, wearing rags, they broke my heart these young men and women were so brave. I swallowed the lump that wanted to form in my throat and sniffed back incipient tears of pride.

“We’re as ready as we’re going to get. Everything is coordinated all up and down the eastern seaboard. We strike tonight at 10pm.”

The troopers broke into cheers. They deserved a little celebration. I smiled and nodded and let them cheer. Many of my troopers were orphans, separated from parents when the aliens invaded. They’d been gathered up by what were left of the adult survivors and hidden, fed, clothed, educated as best we could in the twenty years since the invasion. Now we were ready to strike back.

I held up my hands. “Who knows what today is?”

“Wednesday!” Jay Gonzales was my comedian, always had a smart remark. The room erupted in laughter.

“Good one, Jay.” I looked around. “Anyone else?”

“July 4th.” Kim Deming was the cool one and one of my oldest. She was six when we found her hidden in the basement of a bombed out house, a piece of rebar in her hands ready to defend her 4-year-old sister. I understood. At the time I was fifteen and had only just been found myself.

“Correct. Significance?”

“It’s the holiday commemorating the founding of the United States. Our independence from another country’s rule.”

The room had quieted at her calm, steady answer. Her gray eyes burned with intensity. She was driven and the rest of the troopers respected her for it. “Right. And tonight, we do it again.”

“Freedom!” Kim leapt to her feet, fist raised.

“Freedom!” The rest of the troopers did the same. I joined in.

“Freedom! Freedom! Freedom!”

#

It took us five hours to get into place. The aliens didn’t spread out, they lived in enclaves, walled and secured. Their nasty crops grew around their city, circles of peace and prosperity in a land still littered with the blasted human cities and towns and farms they’d destroyed. Sure, they were slowly clearing the ruins, but only so their enclaves could expand. I’d watched over the years. Their cities grew like snails, ever circling outward. Clear the blasted areas, create farm land, inch the city out another circle. They were efficient, I’ll give them that.

Tonight the moon rise wasn’t until after midnight so it was dark. All the better for us. Camouflage was the toughest. They had heat detectors that helped kill off a good number of us before we figured out how to hide. The plan was simple. It had to be given our deprived state.

Weapons had been slowly gathered over the years. Assault rifles, ammunition, mortars, high explosives and in some cases, we even had nukes. That wasn’t my troop though. The enclave we were assigned was too small to require nukes. We did have a few HE weapons though that would blow holes in the walls. After that, we were going to have to go in and duke it out.

My hands were sweaty on my rifle. I was 35 and arthritis was kicking in. The medic said it was from living in the cold and damp all these years. Nothing could be done about it. I nodded and left the tiny clinic. As I waited for the signal I thought about what life would have been like if the aliens hadn’t come. I would have gone to college, I think, gotten married, had a kid or two. I swallowed. None of that was mine now. It was enough I had my troopers, fifty of them, as good as having my own.

We all waited in the damp as the minutes ticked with excruciating slowness. Waiting was always the hardest. A low whump and the ground rumbling told me it was time. Fifty miles away another group had just nuked the alien military garrison. An ugly purple glow blotted out the stars.

We charged forward from our hiding spots in the crop land. Kim had one of the HE weapons. She was in front of the gate and firing before the aliens could react. Almost before the smoke cleared and the debris stopped falling she and her squad were running into the breach. My troopers were screaming as the night sky erupted in flashes of gunfire and explosions. No wonder fireworks were used to celebrate when I was a kid. I pushed that thought aside as I led my squad into the enclave behind Kim’s.

It was brutal. The enemy had night patrols inside the enclave but they’d responded too late. My troopers went nest to nest and killed every alien they could find. After years of hiding, they knew all the right spots to look.

By daybreak the enclave was a ruin, alien bodies, adult and young, lying in the streets and buildings. We had planned for outside alien retaliation but it seemed our coordinated attack prevented that. I called my reserves in to help our wounded out of the town. Those still whole, I sent to gather up whatever tech and weapons they could carry. As we retreated back to our hiding places I had a team burn the enclave and those damn alien crops.

Now we had to wait. Aliens were planet wide. They weren’t going to like what we’d just accomplished. Too bad. We were all headed for the mid-west where we were planning to do the same thing all over again. With luck other humans would be encouraged and do the same. We just might get our planet back. Happy 4th of July!

The End

957 Words

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

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Flash Fiction Friday Post: Meet and Greet

Locust, Dark-Raptor

Hello Miss Big Eyes by Dark-Raptor via www.DeviantArt.com

Prompt: Photo of Raphidia mediterranea (a grasshopper looking bug) by andrea hallgass, copywrited photo seen on Flickr Photo Sharing for a writing prompt challenge on Chuck Wendig’s blog, TerribleMinds.com.

 

First Officer Bergid Svensdotter studied her reflection. This was her first official function on her new ship, the Federation of Sentient Species diplomatic ship Asimov and she wanted to appear perfect. Ribbons were aligned on her dress white jacket; no stray hair out of place.

There would be twenty different sentient species at the cocktail party in the ship’s ballroom. All oxygen breathers, thank goodness, Bergid thought. The problems with communicating with methane breathers would be left to another day.

In the ballroom she found Chief Engineer, Rob Busey, a scotch in hand. “Bergid.” He held up his glass. “You ready?”

“A glass of water with lemon, please,” she told the crewwoman behind the bar. “I guess I am.”

“Water! You don’t want something stronger?”

“I do,” Bergid admitted. “But if I drank anything now I’d vomit all over the guest’s shoes.”

“Oh, yeah, you’ve been on battleships your whole career. Not used to the diplomatic thing.” He sipped his scotch. “You’ll get used to it. You had aliens on your ships.”

“We did, but not the more,” she groped for the right word, “exotic ones.”

“You’ll be fine.”

Bergid sipped the water. She didn’t want to screw up.

As the guests arrived, escorted from the teleporter by FSS Asimov crew members, the Captain greeted each one. Then they moved into the room, some for the bar, others greeting guests they knew. Bergid’s job was to mingle. She’d been briefed on the hot button topics for each species and had been supplied with appropriate responses. She was expected to deal with hard line questions and belligerence in a way that maintained the peace.

The first aliens she greeted were from the Koa system. Humanoid in appearance, they were covered in a fine blue fur. She’d served with Koans on her previous ships and found them to be easy to work with.

She placed her empty glass on a passing drinks tray; they hovered all around the room for the convenience of the guests, and moved on to the next group feeling more confident. These were the Einess, humanoid with a definite porcine cast. They were half again the size of a human, aggressive and quick to anger. Incredible fighters, Einess served on FSS battleships but they had a hard time getting along. She spoke a greeting in their language and was treated to what passed for a smile. The Showan, their ambassador, asked her opinion of Einess being granted sole rights to the Aamaz system. This was one of the touchy topics. “I’m sure the FSS council will consider all sides of the proposal, Showan.”

He snorted. “That’s what your Captain said.”

Bergid bowed a fraction. “It is a decision considerably above my rank, Sir.” She knew the Einess were sticklers for rank.

“Fair enough.” He moved with his entourage to the next group.

She breathed a sigh of relief. At least she wasn’t causing a planetary incident. Thinking she’d get a glass of wine, Bergid turned to her left. A foot from her face was the delicate form of a basil iridescent green insectoid species, the Raphidia ambassador.

Bergid flashed back to her childhood. She was outside in the middle of a locust swarm screaming, arms waving as the locusts flew into her hair, ears, eyes, mouth. Shaking, she pulled herself out of that memory and back into the ballroom, stumbling backward two steps. She could feel the sweat start on her forehead. “Um, I beg your pardon, Ambassador.”

She could hear the Ambassador’s chitters but her implanted translator gave her, “My apologies.” It used it’s forelegs to wipe its eyes, all eighteen inches of each of them, from top to bottom in a sign of apology.

“My fault entirely, Ambassador.” She cast around in her panicked brain for a new topic. “Your trip has been productive?”

He signaled to one of his followers. It was a small bronze Raphidia, a quarter the size of the ambassador. “We have secured several trading contracts. One with your own Earth.”

The small creature moved in front of the ambassador. Bergid wondered if the ambassador thought she was a threat. “I’m pleased our two species have found mutual points of agreement, Sir.”

That’s when the ambassador ripped the head from the smaller creature. Ichor spurt from the bronze neck. The ambassador turned the head neck up and with a thin tongue, sucked up the inside as two other bronze Raphidia took the remains away.

Bergid swallowed as her stomach rolled. She could feel her blood pressure drop and she began feel dizzy. “Ah,” she wasn’t going to make it. She vomited on the ambassador’s tiny middle feet.

She could hear the guests gasp. Two crewmen rushed over, grabbed her by the arms and hurried her out of the ballroom. The Captain came into the med bay half an hour later. Bergid leapt to attention. “I’m so sorry, Captain.” She focused on the bulkhead behind him.

Hands on his hips, he scowled. “Damn, Svensdotter, you made quite the show.”

A blush started at her neck and raced up her face.

“What do you have to say?”

“I was traumatized by locusts as a child. When the Ambassador ripped the head off of that little one and started sucking the brains out,” she began to gag again.

The Captain stepped back. When she recovered, he nodded. “Well, that must have been a trial. You knew they eat that sub-species live, right.”

“Yes, Sir. But to actually see it.” She struggled not to gag.

“Yeah, the old bastard does it to all of the new human crew. Thinks it’s funny.”

Relief flooded through her. “I didn’t cause an incident?”

He laughed. “No, but you’re going to have to live with that story.”

“Great.”

The Captain clapped her on the shoulder. “Go back to your cabin. You’ve had enough excitement for the night.”

“Thank you, Sir.”

“Wish I’d seen it,” he opened the door. “I would have loved to see his feet covered in vomit.”

 

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 Post: Warrior Defeat

UNSC Army Soldier by Lordhayabusa357 via www.DeviantArt.com

UNSC Army Soldier by Lordhayabusa357 via www.DeviantArt.com

Ensign Zara Slater took off her helmet and wiped the sweat. Three days she’d been in her stinking battle armor but it didn’t look like she was going to get relief anytime soon.

“What do you see?” Corporal Masi Waters checked his weapons belt, counting the number of HE bombs, gas grenades, and smoke bombs he had left.

She slid down the rock they were sheltering behind to sit beside him. “Bomb craters everywhere. You could hide a battalion out there and we’d never see them.”

“Crap.”

“Yep.”

The corporal checked the charge on his laser rifle. “You got anything left to eat?”

She coughed. The smoke rising from the blasted landscape was scraping her throat raw. So much for fresh air. “No. I split the last food bar I had with you yesterday.” Zara sipped from the nipple coming up out of the collar of her armor. The suit captured her sweat, distilled it and stored it around her body until she drank. It tasted flat and warm but it at least wet her dry mouth.

“We have to get back to the cruiser. The Captain sent us out to recon, at least one of us needs to get back with the info.”

“What for?” Masi rubbed an eye. Neither of them had slept in twenty-four hours.

“Because that’s what we do.” On board the ship there would be no talk of “what for” but out here, separated from the rest of their command, things didn’t look all that good. “We’re fighting for our rights, you know that. To keep people safe.”

He snorted. “Safe? Tell that to the people who used to live here. We bombed the crap out of this planet because someone told someone else who then issued orders to wipe the place out because the Mords were supposed to be here.”

“Well,” she said, the tired seeping up through her bones. “They are here. In numbers.”

“Fine.” He jammed his helmet back on his head and seated it. “Let’s get on with it then.”

She sighed and put her helmet on. As soon as she sealed it, the displays reconnected and a series of status updates appeared on the inside of her visor. Ambient temperature, wind direction, humidity, appeared in the upper right corner of the screen. She clicked the infrared and red hot spots showed in the area all around her and the corporal. Mord soldiers, a lot of them. Another click and she pulled satellite information for the area. Her battle cruiser was five clicks in front of them. Symbology on the map told her where the Mord concentrations were. There didn’t seem to be any way through to the ship.

“Sending you the overhead.” Zara clicked once more.

“Got it.” After a moment, “Crap. How the hell are we going to get through?”

“I was hoping you’d see something I missed.” She studied the map. “If we go left, there seems to be an open area, no heat signatures. That would put us a klick closer and maybe something will open up by the time we get there.”

She could hear a sigh over the comms. “Yeah, why not.”

Zara crept out from behind the rock and moved with as much stealth as possible. The battle armor was coated with stealth materials but that didn’t stop a pair of eyes from seeing her. They were both breathing hard when they dropped behind the broken wall of some building still smoking.

“Is it worth it?”

“What,” Zara answered.

“This info. If they don’t know the Mords are here they don’t deserve to be in command.”

She was too tired for this. “It’s all I’ve got.”

Another look at the map and she thought she saw a way through. She shared the updated map. To the east, it looks like the Mord are maneuvering.”

“I don’t see anything on the map that looks like our forces. Maybe they’re getting ready to attack the cruiser.”

Zara wished she could call them but the Mord would pick up the transmission and use it to find them. “They must see this, too.”

“Where are all the other recon teams? We could hook up, strength in numbers and all that.”

“Unknown. Let’s move. We’ll follow the Mord. That will at least get us closer to the cruiser.”

After a klick Zara was exhausted. After two, she was pulling on her reserves. At three klicks they were both stumbling like drunks. “Rest,” she gasped.

“One more klick,” Masi groaned. “Can’t we call them to come get us?”

“Not yet. We’re still too far out.” She sipped more water. Jets screamed overhead leaving white contrails in the blue sky. If they were scanning, she and Masi were already dead. “Gotta move.”

He groaned but rolled to his feet.

They were less than half a klick from the cruiser when the Mord began their attack. The ship was surrounded. They dove into a ruined basement for cover. “What can we do?” Masi sighted his laser rifle on a passing squad.

Zara pulled the barrel down. “Don’t. You’ll kill four or five and we’ll be found.” She heard him mutter under his breath but he put the rifle down.

They watched as their ship was pounded from all sides. It was full dark and the glow of fire from the ship lit the night sky in front of them.

“Hold still,” they heard behind them.

Masi twitched. Zara put a hand on his arm, holding her rifle out to her side straight armed. “Take it easy.” She dropped her weapon and raised her hands. Beside her, after a moment, Masi did the same.

“Take two steps back and turn around. Slow.”

They did.

“Kneel down, fingers clasped behind your head.”

They did that too.

“You are now prisoners of war. Prepare yourselves for the camps.”

Zara sighed. No one ever came out of those alive.

 

 

The End

983 Words

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

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Serial: Lost Rainbows Chapter 14 – The Battle Goes Poorly for the Leprechauns

Lost Rainbows by Connie Cockrell

Lost Rainbows by Connie Cockrell

Chapter Fourteen – The Battle Goes Poorly for the Leprechauns (Lost Rainbows – Serial)

By Connie Cockrell

Shamus O’Malley is on a quest to recover the Leprechaun Kingdom’s magic rainbows and gold before the rainbows are lost forever. To do so he must travel to the new world where he finds the evil wizard, David Bannon, intent on using the magic from the rainbows and the gold to conquer the Leprechaun Kingdom. He also finds an ally, Becca Bannon, the wizard’s niece. Can Becca and Shamus recover the rainbows and gold and defeat her wizard uncle?

This entry is part 14 of 16 in the series Lost Rainbows

Want to start this serial from the beginning? Click here for links to all available chapters.

The Battle Goes Poorly for the Leprechauns

Becca shut her eyes and tried to block the screams from her hearing. What did the Princess tell her about calling lightning? Becca took several deep breaths. She thought about a stormy sky, how the clouds turned black and blended together. Twice she lost her concentration as the screams broke through her focus. The third time, she had the picture firmly in mind. She raised her hands and visualized lightning streaking out of the sky and hitting the robots. Over and over again, she pictured the lightning falling from the sky onto the robots.

Like the time she did this magic with the Princess and the Advisors, she felt her fingertips tingle. Becca took another breath and as she flung her arms forward, fingers outstretched; she screamed a word she didn’t know. Lightning flashed down from the sky and the robots in front of them began sparking and exploding. The leprechauns that were still standing dashed away from the fires and watched as the robots fell.

“You did it!” Shamus screamed as he controlled the rearing pony and his own horse, both animals frightened by the electricity.

Becca dropped her arms and slumped in the saddle. She was so tired.

Horses under control, Shamus jerked his water-skin from his side and raised her chin. “Drink, regain your strength.” He poured water into her mouth.

She didn’t think she had enough energy to swallow. Half of the water ran out of her mouth onto her armor.

“Becca! Drink!”

She swallowed a little, then a little more. “Enough,” she said weakly. “I’m fine.” She pushed the skin away and struggled to sit up. “How are our people?”

Shamus surveyed the field. “The robots are down. The soldiers still whole are running to the King’s side. It looks like about fifty are still able to fight.”

“What about the other companies?”

“I can’t tell, Becca. They’re behind the ruin.”

She took a breath and rubbed her eyes. “That was very hard.” Becca spotted the King. He and the remaining soldiers were near. The wizards had retreated behind the ruin. “Uncle will have a plan, Shamus. We need to join the King.”

When they reached the rear of the King’s remaining company, Becca could see that the Captain’s company had the same kind of trouble as the King did. She stared. “Shamus, there aren’t as many robots here. I know I saw two companies of them march around the ruin.”

“The leprechauns made them disappear. We have that much magic at least. The problem is that they’re so large, it’s hard to do. Like you, Miss Becca, magic drains our strength.”

As the two of them watched, they saw the Commander’s company working its way toward the King. The wizards were nowhere in sight. The fighting was difficult. This part of the terrain was overgrown with trees and thickets. Becca watched as many a leprechaun soldier tripped over a bush as he tried to fight. The robots also found the terrain tough going. “Look, Shamus!” She pointed. “The robots are having a hard time moving along the uneven land.”

“Good eye, Miss Becca.” He left her alone and rode up to the last line of fighters, pointing at the robots and waving his hands. In a moment, the leprechauns surged forward, swarming a robot and tricking it into tripping over fallen pieces of castle, bushes, and downed trees. Shamus returned to Becca. “That helped.” He wiped his face with a handkerchief. The early summer sun was beating down on the fight, making it hot. He drank a swallow of water. “Are you recovered, Miss Becca?”

Becca felt light-headed and too hot. What she wanted was to lie down and take a nap. “I think so, Shamus. Look, the companies have joined, now they can eliminate the robots.”

They saw the King directing the soldiers as the Captain and the Commander’s companies merged. They were nearly in battle order when the wizards appeared around the ruin from the direction the Commander had come. This time, they all had staffs.

“We were afraid of that.” Shamus reined in his excited horse. “If they all have staffs, they must all have magic.” They heard the King’s signaler blow the horn blast for retreat. “We’re going back to the meadow, Becca, where there’s room to fight.” They wheeled their horses around and raced back to the meadow where they’d started.

The King stayed in the rear guard and Becca saw him fighting off the remaining robots so that his soldiers would have time to get to the meadow. The soldiers raced past the fallen robots and their friends who lay wounded on the field. There was no time now to provide aid.

The leprechaun army formed up at the far end of the meadow, where they had descended the hillside behind them earlier in the day. There were only half the soldiers forming up compared to how many they had started the day with. Becca and Shamus joined the King when he arrived. She asked, “Can you make the wizards disappear, like the robots?”

The King shook his head. “Not living beings, no. More’s the pity.” They watched the robots form lines in two groups, one group on each side of the wizards. The wizards began to pound their staffs on the ground.

“What are they doing?” Becca had to sharply rein in her pony. It began to rear and squeal.

Shamus was having the same problem with his horse. “I don’t know, but the horses don’t like it.”

Soon the leprechauns could hear the pounding, a low rumble at first, then growing louder until it sounded like thunder. The companies grew uneasy. Then the ground began to shake.

“Earthquake!” Becca screamed. Her pony reared and whinnied.

“Charge!” The King waved his sword over his head and pointed it forward. The soldiers charged. Before they had gone fifty feet, the ground opened up in great yawning cracks. Several of the leprechauns fell in, screaming. The sky grew dark and lightning began to strike randomly among the charging soldiers.

Shamus held Becca at the rear of the charge. “Can you do something?” He had to yell to be heard over the quaking and lightning and now, a torrential rain.

Becca had nothing. She’d only studied for a month. There was no way for her to counter the magic of one hundred well-trained wizards. It was all lost; her uncle was going to win and conquer the leprechauns. Tears began to fall, mixing with the stinging, cold rain.

 

~~~~~

 

Lost Rainbows

To be continued…

Come back for more! Look for the next exciting installment each Wednesday.

 

You can read more of this story serially on this website for free or you can buy it and read it now at: Apple, Amazon, Barnes and Noble, Kobo, or Smashwords today!

See more at: www.ConniesRandomThoughts.wordpress.com or https://www.facebook.com/ConniesRandomThoughts

 

Thank you for reading. You can support the story by commenting or leaving a review. Buy my other books for more reading pleasure. If you’ve enjoyed this chapter, please spread the word, tell a friend or share the link to the story by using the share buttons to your right. The author is part of the Forward Motion Flash Fiction Friday Challenge and the Merry-Go-Round Blog Tour.

© 2015 Connie Cockrell

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Merry-Go-Round Post for May: In Memoriam or My Favorite Stories

Books, Library, Connie Cockrell

Books in my Library by Connie Cockrell

I was a pre-teen when I discovered science fiction. I was a reader before then and not the easy stuff either. I read Gone With the Wind when I was twelve. I wonder now what the librarian who checked out the book for me thought but she never said a word about the appropriateness of that title for a 12-year-old.

My first SciFi authors? E.E. “Doc” Smith, Robert Heinlein, Issac Asimov, and Arthur C. Clarke, all sadly gone now. No one told me that those books were for boys. I read through them avidly and reread them over and over. If you haven’t read Doc Smith’s the Lensman, it can be kind of dated but the last book in the series really shows women in a strong light and the ultimate conclusion must have been controversial at the time. Probably still is. No spoilers, read the series.

Then I found Andre Norton and Anne McCaffrey and Mercedes Lackey, who is thankfully still with us. As a retired USAF Master Sergeant, military SciFi really appeals to me and Elizabeth Moon’s books are a delight to read as are C.J. Cherryh’s. You can tell from the author list that I’m as comfortable with the hard SciFi as with the softer SciFi and fantasy. I love them all.

But it’s not just SciFi, mystery is also a favorite. Who hasn’t read Miss Marple by Agatha Christie, or Ellery Queen or Dashielle Hammett or Raymond Chandler, even Issac Asimov wrote mysteries. Modern mystery authors range from Dan Brown and Steven King to Mary Higgins Clark and Robin Cook. So many delicious tales from cosy’s to hard-boiled detective stories.

There are so many books out there and really, so very little time. I hope I’ve mentioned an author or a book that piques your interest. Go to your library and pick up something you haven’t tried before. I think you’ll like it.
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 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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Flash Fiction Friday: The Vipers

Female Soviet Snipers, himymRobinStinton, Deviantart.com

Female Soviet Snipers by himymRobinStinton via Deviantart.com

 

I thought of this story one day when I read an article about Soviet Army women sharpshooters from World War II who were called The Witches.

The Vipers

It was graduation day. Katarina had spent the last year in training for this moment and now it was here. The graduation was secret, as was her training. No one must know about the mission she had volunteered to assume. She and the other women in her training squadron checked their appearance one more time then lined up in alphabetical order to march single file to the auditorium.

They were the last fourteen of a class that had started with one hundred young women aged sixteen to twenty-five. They marched down the corridor from their dorm, the only voice was the woman at the head of the line giving orders for the turns. They made those turns with precision, just as they had completed their assignments. The final exam was the real test, of course. Six of the young women who had made it this far in their training failed that last test.

Katarina was in the middle of the group of fourteen. They marched out onto the stage, made a left face upon command of the first young woman, and held her head high, eyes forward. She could see a handful of people in the audience. The Forces Commander was there, as was the Chairman of the Department of Homeland Security. The Base Commandant and the Cadre Training Sergeant were on the stage with the women, standing at a podium.

After a few introductory remarks, the Commandant nodded to the Training Sergeant who pressed a button on the remote for the holographic projector. There, between the graduates and the dignitaries, was the record of each recruit’s final exam.

Each one of them had been given a different target. Katarina knew better than to reveal any emotion as she watched the tests of her friends. They had pledged themselves to each other, calling themselves The Fourteen, last night as the vodka flowed freely in the rec room. Each of her friends had been given just as difficult a target as she had. When her recording was played she began to sweat, heart rate racing. It felt just as if she were back there. Katarina had been allowed two weeks planning time, budget to scope out the site, and a case handler, just as for a real mission. She remembered the smell of jasmine in the night air from where she waited for her target. The shot was a long one, the limit of the weapon’s beam range, but the humidity in the air and the fact that there was no breeze made her believe the shot could be made.

Mosquito’s buzzed her head, attracted to the carbon dioxide she released from deep, slow breaths. She remembered telling herself to slow her heart rate, relax her muscles, rest her eyes. There would only be one chance. Even if she managed to escape it would be useless if she missed her target. She would be denied graduation and be sent back to the regular ranks, cannon fodder for the rebel front lines.

As she watched the recording play out she remembered watching the delegation’s air cars land on the roof of the building down the street. The men on the roof moved toward the air car, lining up on either side of a red carpet. The city’s mayor was at the car’s door, opening it, bowing as the War Lord descended the air car’s two steps. The rooftop was lit clear as day as Katarina peered through her scope. She took a final, relaxing breath and placed her finger on the trigger.

The crosshairs fell on the War Lord’s cranium. She had a perfect view of the side of the orange-scales that decorated the side of its gold-skinned head. The creatures all had them, right over where their brains resided inside of their skulls. The War Lord stopped to say something to the Mayor, still bowed. She applied just enough pressure to fire her weapon without any jerk that would throw off the beam.

It took a moment before she could see if she hit it. The tracking ionization for the beam had been disabled so it couldn’t be seen. Through the scope she could see the creature’s head explode, brain, skin and bone showered the Mayor. The War Lord’s body guards surrounded their leader scanning in every direction for where the shot had come from but it was too late. Katarina wrapped her weapon in rags, stuffed the rifle in her bag and hurried from her rooftop position. On the street she looked like any of the thousands of human women combing the refuse piles for food or tradable debris.

Katarina barely saw the rest of the recordings she was so lost in her own memory of the satisfaction she’d had at killing the War Lord. The Training Sergeant called them to right face. Her body obeyed automatically. The Commandant took the podium.

“We are here today to congratulate these recruits for surviving the rigorous training program of the last year. Of the one-hundred young women who started, thirty-seven died in training. Twenty-three were medically discharged from injuries and the remainder washed out of the program or resigned. These are the best assassins in their class. Congratulations, soldiers.” The dignitaries stood and applauded as did the Commandant and the Training Sergeant.

Their names were called one by one, a sharp-shooter medal was pinned to their chests, a photo shaking hands as they received their diploma was taken and they returned to their place. Neither the medal nor the photo could be shown to anyone outside their particular service.

The Commandant spoke one last time. “Gentlemen, I give you the newest class of The Vipers. Glory to the Human Race, may the aliens be destroyed soon.” The applause was sweet in Katarina’s ears.

The End

961 Words

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

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Monday Blog Post: Freedom of Speech

Pen, Pencil, Newsprint, Charlie Hebdo

Pen and Pencil on Local Newsprint in support of Charlie Hebdo by Connie Cockrell

A more serious blog post for me today than I usually write. I refer to the terrorist attack on the French newspaper, Charlie Hebdo. My blog picture today is a reference to the French demonstrators using a pencil to make their point. An old saw goes, the pen is mightier than the sword. This is the truth, I think, at least in the long run. In the meantime, blood flows in the streets.  I wasn’t going to comment on the attack; it was days ago, after all, and so not very timely for today’s blog post. However, Sunday I see in my internet news feeds, that there were demonstrations in Pakistan against the French demonstrations. They feel Charlie Hebdo’s satire is a direct attack on them.

I can sort of understand. If someone says something bad about one of my family, I’m offended. How much more so if someone says or draws something unflattering about my prophet? However, hurt feelings aren’t an excuse to go around shooting people. You feel insulted, go ahead and draw a caricature of God, or Jesus, or Budda, or Krisha. My feelings might be hurt, but no one dies.

So in my own little protest, I’ll be using the above picture of pen and pencil on a page of my local newspaper to support the freedom of speech. It’s not much of a protest in the larger scheme of things but I want people to know that even if I disagree with someone’s spoken comment, written statement, or drawing, that person has every right to say, write or draw it. I spent 20 years in the Air Force defending that constitutional right. I’m not going to stop now.

I’ll update my writing, gardening, and hiking next week.

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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Challenge The Spy/Bride Post

P1010937-1000x750 RAF Chicksands Priory by SBuxton https://www.lumixgexperience.panasonic.co.uk/gallery/sbuxton/chicksands-priory/#.VFW7LPldWo0

P1010937-1000×750 RAF Chicksands Priory by SBuxton https://www.lumixgexperience.panasonic.co.uk/gallery/sbuxton/chicksands-priory/#.VFW7LPldWo0

Here’s the deal. I was informed of this cool web site: beyardandholmes.com (http://bayardandholmes.com/2014/10/22/new-release-and-the-spy-bride-contest/)   and a challenge they are running. Here’s their challenge:

 We are inviting all bloggers to write a post about absolutely anything espionage or wedding related. Link back to this post to be entered in a contest for a $25 Amazon card and a copy of RISKY BRIDES.

Write about your favorite Bond movie, your favorite historical spook, or how you used to spy on your siblings. Tell us about your wildest bachelor party, you favorite wedding, or your worst bridesmaid’s dress. If you manage to write about both spooks and weddings in the same post, you’ll have your name entered twice.

So, really, how can I go wrong?

Here’s the post.

As some of you may remember, I spent 20 years in the U.S. Air Force. One of the best assignments I ever had was to RAF Chicksands in the United Kingdom. It was a small, tranquil base about an hour north of London. We didn’t have planes. We had antennas.

The antennas were for listening to what was going on in Europe. I’m sure if anyone is interested they can find information on the internet about “Elephant Cages” and what information was being gathered.

What I liked about the place was that it was an excellent location for my family. We arrived there just as my daughter was turning eight. She was sure that because her name was Elizabeth, she’d be invited to Buckingham Palace to meet the Queen. Unfortunately that never happened but we did stay there for two tours. We left that idyllic base when my daughter was 16.

One other aspect of the base that was a real draw was that the base had a Priory. An old religious cloister sat smack dab in the middle of the base. It was the hub of many social activities. It never hurt that it had a ghost. Halloween parties were a huge deal. But the place was so lovely, many a wedding was held there. There was a volunteer organization that worked to fund building repairs, keep the gardens up, and just make use of the place.

That was by far my best assignment and many of us that served there still chat via social networks. It no longer serves as a military installation and the Elephant Cage is long gone but the Priory is still there, and I expect, still hosting weddings.

In other news:

By the way, NaNo has started and I’m just ahead of my target goals. I love that. Then if I have to miss a writing day, I’m not all behind and weepy.

I’ve also developed a cover for the cozy mystery I’m writing. Just for giggles, I’ve loaded it on my Pinterest page. Check it out: http://www.pinterest.com/conniecockrell/ That would be my My Books and Stories board, Mystery at the Fair is the cover pin.

That thyme? I got it down, spent an hour and a half picking the leaves from the stems and hung both rosemary and sage to dry.

Last week I talked about Christmas Cards. No can do. But, I’m not giving up my candy making. I’ll try and do some steps in advance in November that can be held in the fridge until I’m ready to complete them and get the tins in the mail.

Thanks for stopping by my blog today.

Like any author, my books sell based on reviews. Would you be interested in getting a free copy to review for me? Go to the button on the right side of the blog or go to my Newsletter tab to sign up. Or sign up here. Use Control, Click to access the link.

First Encounter: a Brown Rain Story released September 18th! 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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