Taxes and Camp NaNo: Monday Blog Post

Pansies

Newest News:

If you didn’t see it from me on Twitter or Facebook, I hope you had a wonderful Easter.

April is tax month and no doubt it’s as stressful a time for you as it is for me. I finally filed my taxes at the end of March. I decided I needed to withhold more money every month so I don’t have such a big tax bill to pay at the end of the year. Sigh. Adulting is hard.

April’s Camp NaNo is over halfway done. I passed 25k on the 14th so I’m doing well as far as word count goes. I’m also doing well in totally pantsing this new story. (book 2 of the Zoe Ohale series) I was a little fearful about going into a novel with little to no plan but it seems to be working out so far. I guess, at least for me, Dean Wesley Smith’s Writing into the Dark does work.

In other writing news, my editor sent Mystery at the Book Festival back and it looks like it will only need a few rewrites, nothing major. Oh my gosh I’m so pleased. Maybe I’m getting the hang of this writing thing.

http://magikstock.deviantart.com/art/Camel-1-319794644

My Elf Slave serial story began last Friday. Like all of the stories I put up on Fridays, it’s a little rough. I have three parts written and have no idea how long it will be. I found a lovely picture to illustrate part 3 and have received permission of the photographer to use it. You’ll love it. Part 3 will post on the 28th. That gets me through April and in May I can start writing the story again. Maybe Troubled Campus will be done, maybe not. That remains to be seen.

Part of being a writer is taking classes to help get better. I was taking a class on how to write a series with Holly Lisle when she became quite ill. The class stopped two years ago, unfinished. However, she’s re-written the class and started it back up again with better than ever lessons. I’m going to restart that class and apply a new Christmas series to it. I’ve been wanting to do a Christmas series for a long time and I’ve been brainstorming ideas. This is the perfect opportunity for me to get this project off of the ground. I’m very excited. Perhaps I can get the first book out in November! We’ll see.

Gardening: The roses are beginning to bloom. I’ve planted parsley, onion seed and chives (in a pot). I should dig out my bean seeds and get them in. They’re plenty hardy enough to deal with the cool nights here in central Arizona. I received a bonzai seed kit from my mom for my birthday last year. I’ve been keeping the seeds cold all this time. Last week I bought seed starter pods and planted one seed in each pod. I’m checking them daily to see if anything sprouts.

Giveaways:

My multi-author giveaway is called Spring into Reading: Easter Giveaway is now on. If you missed out on the last one, this is your chance to win.

Shout Out:

I think this week I’ll give author and speaker Joshua Robertson a shout out. He can be found at  http://www.robertsonwrites.com/ and he writes dark fantasy. His most recent series is the Kaelandur series and he has a deal going on them right now. https://www.amazon.com/Joshua-Robertson/e/B00RHAMPHM/ref=dp_byline_cont_ebooks_1. Check him out!

Where Will I Be?

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 in the Four Carat Press booth number 1795.

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

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

Newest Book Release:

 

Mystery 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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Slave Elf Part 1: Flash Fiction Friday Post

Malaysia Mosque with Muslim pray in Malaysia – Depositphotos_108130076_original

This story was derived from a Chuck Wendig prompt. Chuck does a lot of these for his fellow authors and I enjoy the wackiness of his prompts. Here’s the prompt:

DEMURE ELF CLERIC FROM A SLAVE CARAVAN WHO LOST THEIR MARBLES A LONG TIME AGO

You’ll notice when you read the story that I didn’t stick strictly to the prompt but the idea of an elf, and a slave caravan are certainly there. Enjoy.

Also, when I started posting these parts, I hadn’t finished the story, so I have no idea right now how long this will be.

 

Part 1

I huddled in my wagon, the laughter and drumming, the shouts of the caravanner men to the dancing slaves, rolled in the small open windows of the wagon. It was too hot to shut them. I pulled the collar of my night gown closer to my neck and shuddered. I knew what was going to happen, probably already happening to those dancing girls.

 

I rolled out of bed and lit the tiny brazier, putting the teapot over the flame. If I couldn’t sleep, I might as well finish the caravan master’s letter to the next city’s Lord. I lit the lamp and sat down, the unfinished letter on the small table in front of me. The current master was the third I’d been held by. All sons of my original owner. I sharpened the quill. In elf-years I was still quite young, stolen from some elf encampment as a very young child. Even so, I could already read and write in elvish, dwarf and in multiple languages of men. That, at least came easy to me.

 

The master made sure I was left alone and I was grateful for that bit of courtesy. Caravanners are not the most genteel of men. I made my tea and opened the ink pot. In a careful hand, with graceful loops and delicate swirls, I finished the letter. As I put the materials away in my writing chest, I could tell the night was winding down. I could hear the crying from the slave wagons. It was sixty years of listening to that crying every night. I’d stopped crying after twenty. There was no point to it. I lay down in my bunk and closed my eyes. Dawn would come soon.

 

“Delia! Delia!” A pounding on my wagon door accompanied the shouting. I jumped from my bunk. “Yes! Yes! What is it?”

 

“Master Corpet wants that letter. He’s sending a rider ahead.”

 

“I’ll take it to him right away.”

 

“Hurry up.”

 

“Yes, yes.”

 

I was already stripping off my night gown. Master Corpet would be impatient to get the caravan moving. I could hear the camels squalling already and the sun was barely peeking over the horizon.

 

In moments, I had drawn on my dress, pulled my black hair back and tied it with a black ribbon and pulled on my boots. I took the finished letter from the writing chest and opened the door. Men were swarming around the wagons, dust rising from their booted feet in the sand. Bowls of food and water were being given the slaves, eight wagons full. A good trip for master Corpet if they all arrived at the next town. I did his books as well.

 

I stepped down the short ladder and hurried to the master’s wagon. He was sitting at a table, meat and mead, bread and cheese in front of him, at the back of the wagon. A human slave girl was being hustled out and back to her own place. Her face was tear stained and she sent me a glance of desperation. I looked at the sand at my feet. I was in no position to even offer sympathy.

 

“Your letter, Master Corpet.”

 

He held out his hand while drinking with the other. I passed it over and kept my eyes on my boots.

 

He read it quickly and nodded. “Good.” He handed it back. “Seal it up and give it to Emil. Tell him into the Lord’s hands only.”

 

I nodded and turned. Emil would be with the horses. “We leave in a hand, Delia.”

 

“Yes, Master.”

 

Emil was saddling his horse when I arrived. “About time,” he snarled at me. “Corpet gives you too much consideration.”

 

Emil hated me. Hated that I had my own wagon. Hated that I was forbidden to him. I handed him the letter. “Master says just into the Lord’s hand.” I kept my head down.

 

“Do I look stupid?” He jerked the saddle band tight. His face a scowl as he glared at me.

 

I didn’t answer. Anything I said would be a reason for him to hit me.

 

“Bitch,” he growled.

 

I handed him the paper. He snatched it out of my hand and stuffed it in his saddlebag. Emil leapt onto his horse and pulled the reins. The horse reared, nearly missing my head with his hooves. Emil laughed as I flinched then kicked the animal into a run, kicking my shoulder with his stirrup as he passed.

 

The men nearby laughed as I spun around. I refused to rub the spot until I got back to my wagon. It was already bruising. I made tea, ate some bread and cheese, while standing in my wagon door. Two men were already leading camels to my wagon. Time to pack everything away and get ready to leave. I sighed and finished my bread. Time to fill the water bladder for the day. It was going to be another hot one.

 

Thank You! Return next week for part 2.

834 Words

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

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Camp NaNo 2017: Monday Blog Post

Newest News:

April’s Camp NaNo has run ten days as of today. I seemed to have taken Sunday off but still, I’m at over 13,000 words. That’s behind, by the way. I should be at 25K on the 15th! No matter. The upcoming week is less busy for me so I can spend some time on words. How’s it going, you may ask? As usual, I’m hating everything I’m writing. Not having a plan seems to matter little. So far I get words on the page but I’m too close to determine how good or bad those words might be. That’s what my cooling off period is for after I get the draft. It has been in the past that when I come back to the manuscript fresh, I like what I wrote much better.

Sunday, while I wasn’t getting words, I was getting a bit of gardening done. I’ve prepped a small bed where my new thyme will go. I also put the lovely large blue pot my husband got me for Christmas in the front yard, filled it with dirt, and planted left over daffodil bulbs in it. They’re all sprouting so I think in a week or so, I may have daffodils in late April or early May. Late arrivals for this area but they’ll be a welcome, happy sight in my front yard. I also repotted my jade plant in another lovely pot hubby got me for Christmas. A picture is above. It looks pretty nice, right?

This week starts the Elf Slave story (on Friday). Like all of the stories I put up on Fridays, it’s a little rough.

Giveaways:

My multi-author giveaway is called Spring into Reading: Easter Giveaway is now on. If you missed out on the last one, this is your chance to win.

Shout Out:

This last weekend, I was part of B2BCyCon, an on-line conference that ran from Friday April 7th to Sunday the 10th. Here’s a link to my Science Fiction Author Showcase: https://www.goodreads.com/topic/show/18367091-2017-connie-cockrell-science-fiction-author-showcase. There were chats with other readers and new to me authors. I made some friends and participated on a few events at https://www.facebook.com/events/1466110423422872/. I think they’re still up so you can still check out the fun. Same over on http://b2bcycon.com/. Our panel discussions on multiple topics are still up on http://b2bcycon.com/panels/.

Where Will I Be?

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 in the Four Carat Press booth.

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.

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

Newest Book Release:

Mystery 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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The Drink: Friday Flash Fiction Post

Scarf

I originally wrote this story at the start of February, 2014! I know, right? I searched the blog and cannot find where I posted it, if I did. Anyway, I was searching for the recipe I have in the story, a specialty bar drink that I created for a Chuck Wendig prompt. So I thought it would be cool that I make the drink an actual recipe card to hand out at my Phoenix ComiCon appearance in May. www.PhoenixComiCon.com. I’m not sure the title fits. What do you think? What would be a better title?

The Drink

Paula Vance held up the heavily embroidered scarf with intricate metallic blue and silver swirls and stars. “Look at this, Rob! I’ve never seen anything like it.”

He stepped to his wife. “Beautiful.”

The stall keeper sensed a sale to the tourists. “I know the artist. She does fantastic work but as you can imagine, it takes a long time to hand embroider. I don’t get many like that.”

“We’re on our 10th anniversary trip,” Paula shared with the stall keeper. “We heard about the Gulliver Station BioDome and since it was on the way to Pica, we decided to stop here. I’m glad we did.” She tried on the scarf and looked at herself in the mirror standing on the counter. “I have to have it.”

Rob laughed. “Why not? It’s our anniversary after all.” He handed the stall keeper his ID.

“Shall I wrap it for you, Miss?”

Paula took a couple of steps backward to get a different perspective in the mirror. “No, I think…”

She shrieked as she was struck by a speeding methane breather transport pod. Paula slid over the bubble protecting the alien and rolled off of the back onto the floor.

“Paula!” Rob shouted.

The pod stopped. The stall keeper called Station Security. Passersby gathered around the fallen woman and the transport. In a few minutes, Station Security Officer, Helene Guzman, arrived on the scene.

“Are you alright, Ma’am?” Officer Guzman took a swift glance at the transport. There was no smell of methane so the bubble wasn’t cracked. The exterior speaker hissed and sputtered. She read the display.

“Fright. Female. Broken!”

Guzman sighed. She hated dealing with the V’Heeme. It was hard to figure out what their messages meant. Was it scared and broken or was it asking about the woman?

Rob helped his wife to her feet. “I think she’s fine.” He dusted off her dress.

“Stay right there, the medics are coming.” Guzman turned to the transport’s speaker. “May I ask your name, Honored V’Heeme?”

The screen printed, “Zmugn.”

“Honored Zmugn, are you injured?” She tapped her pocket pad with the V’Heeme’s name and the number of the transport pod. The message went straight to Security.

“No. Human?”

“I will inquire, Honored Zmugn.” She turned to the couple. “May I ask your names?”

Paula straightened the scarf, then her hair. “I’m Paula Vance, this is my husband Ron. We were just buying this scarf when the pod hit me.” She straightened her dress. “I never expected to see a Methane breather.” They peered into the bubble.

“So you didn’t see the pod travelling along the market aisle?”

Paula glanced around her, the crowd, smaller now that there was no apparent injury, hung onto every word. “Well, I stepped back a bit, to see the scarf in the mirror.”

“That’s true, Officer,” the stall keeper called out. “She was just admirin’ the scarf.”

Guzman nodded. This was an accident but with the V’Heeme involved it could turn ugly. “I can do a couple of things here. I can take both of you and the V’Heeme to the office where everyone can file complaints.

“Or, I can call it no harm, no foul, since no one is injured and you can go about your business.”

“Oh, no,” Ron said in a hurry. “We were just about to go to dinner.”

Guzman nodded. “Let me ask the V’Heeme.”

“Honored Zmugn, do you wish to go about your business or come to Station Security to file a complaint?”

The speaker hissed and crackled and the screen finally printed, “No. Business now.”

“Thank you for your courtesy, Honored Zmugn.” Guzman tapped the answer into her pad. She turned to the couple.

“Your lucky day, the V’Heeme is eager to get on about his business, too.”

They watched the pod speed away. “It goes kind of fast, doesn’t it?” Rob said as he watched it take the corner.

Guzman held out her pad. “Could you sign at the bottom of the screen, please? To confirm you are not filing a complaint.”

Paula reached out and pressed her thumb to the screen.  When the medics arrived, Officer Guzman stayed so she could complete her report. It only took a moment for them to do a scan and pronounce Paula fit. She thumb-printed her release on their pad.

“Have a good evening.” Guzman tucked her pad into her pocket.

“Wait,” Rob said. “Can you recommend a good place to eat? Some place you would go to have dinner?”

Guzman stopped. “Are you looking for fancy or for good local food?”

“We can get fancy food on the ship. Local food,” Rob said.

“Go to the Eastenders on this Level. Best Irish stew on the station.”

They thanked her and wound their way through the market to the maglev. It took them to the other end of the market. The Eastender’s was in full swing but they found seats at the bar. The stew and fresh bread was delivered promptly and they ate with gusto. “We should have an anniversary drink,” Paula said.

“Good idea,” Rob said. “Jake,” he called to the bartender. “Do you have a signature drink for the Eastenders?”

Jake, a long time bartender on the station, scratched his head. “No. None on Gulliver Station, as far as I know.”

“Good.” Rob rubbed his hands together. “Is there a particular favorite drink?”

Jake grinned. “That would be whisky. It’s made right here.”

The two men put their heads together. In a few minutes, the three of them had a squat glass filled with ice cubes and a light chocolate colored drink. “Cheers,” Rob toasted. They each tasted.

“What’s in it?” Paula asked.

“One and a half shots of whisky, half a shot of chocolate liquor, half a shot of Irish cream whisky, and a shot of coffee. We’ve decided to call it The Gulliver.”

“It tastes like dessert!” She sipped again. “Thank you, Jake.” She raised her glass. “To Gulliver Station.”

“To Gulliver Station,” they toasted.

The End

1000 Words

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

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Author Interviews: Marsha Ward

Author Marsha Ward

Welcome back to my Author Interview series. Today we have the wonderful historical fiction author, Marsha Ward with us. Ward is an Amazon best-selling author who writes authentic historical fiction set in 19th Century America. She is a multi-published writer, editor, workshop presenter, mentor, and consultant. Marsha has written five novels in The Owen Family Saga, another that begins the Promised Valley series; and many other works. A former journalist, Marsha is the recipient of the 2015 Whitney Lifetime Achievement Award and President of Arizona Rim Country Chapter of Arizona Professional Writers.

Thank you, Marsha, for visiting with us today.

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

Almost every author will say “reading,” but I consider much of my reading to be business, education, or entertainment, so I’ll say writing and arranging music. I was raised in a musical home and majored in music on the university level. Hearing or performing music sooths me. A natural extension of my love of and training in music is to arrange a piece of music to make it suitable for the small choir in my congregation to sing.

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

I think that depends on my motivation. If I’m looking to the edification of my soul, I would choose Thomas S. Monson, the president and living prophet of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (the Mormons), because he is such a gentle, caring man who can teach me much about giving service to others (and I need to be reminded of that daily) and centering my life on Jesus Christ.

If I’m seeking advice about my writing and publishing businesses, I’d like to spend an afternoon with Dean Wesley Smith and Kristine Kathryn Rusch, because they are the best teachers and mentors I can think of in that realm.

3. Coffee, tea, soda or something else?

I drink water or fruit juice. If I am traveling and am getting sleepy, I’ll drink a caffeinated soda like Dr. Pepper, but recovering from the caffeine takes a day or two, so I pay a price for that and prefer not to do it.

4. What are you working on right now?

I have a couple of projects I’m working on concurrently: a nonfiction book about a checklist I use in indie publishing, and a piece of fiction called That Tender Light, in which the principal characters of my fictional Owen family, Rod Owen and Julia Helm, meet and marry.

5. How would you describe your writing style?

My brain is wired so that I am a pantser (discovery, or organic writer) if I want to make any writing progress. If I outline, the little grey cells rise up in rebellion at the suggestion that they cooperate in writing the story thereafter. They complain, “But you already wrote it! Don’t expect to involve us in doing it again!” I can begin with some kind of end in mind, but I let the characters reveal the story to me as I type.

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

Read, read, read. Write, write, write. Don’t overlook “practice” as you learn the craft of writing. Trust your creative voice to know how to tell a story. Don’t revise the life out of your piece. You don’t really know what needs correction, if anything does.

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

I do an immense amount of research sometime during the writing life of a work, whether that’s from reading, exploring a place, or talking with experts, because I write historical fiction. The ideas, however, come all the time, faster than I can keep up with them. I don’t know if that’s because of the research, or if something in life sparks a thought.

8. Where can we find you on the interwebs?

I love to hear from and interact with my readers. Here are the places to find me:

Website: http://marshaward.com
Blog: http://marshaward.blogspot.com
Email: marshaw@marshaward.com
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/authormarshaward
Twitter: https://twitter.com/MarshaWard as well as

https://www.amazon.com/Marsha-Ward/e/B003RB9P9Q/
To be notified of new releases, join my Readers Mailing List at http://eepurl.com/vBKEj

Thank you so much, Marsha for taking the time to chat with us.

Gentle readers, Marsha’s latest works include Blood at Haught Springs, Faith and the Foreman, and From Julia’s Kitchen: Owen Family Cookery, a recipe collection from America’s earlier times. See the cover above. Isn’t it beautiful?

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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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Mystery at the Dog Park Part 7 of 7: Flash Fiction Friday Post

Sadie – Available for adoption now from:
Annie Bamber
Outreach Programs Coordinator
(928) 474-5590 ext. 100
annie@humanesocietycentralaz.org
www.humanesocietycentralaz.org
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“Because They Matter”

Part 7 of 7. You can find Part 1 here. Part 2 here. Part 3 here. Part 4 here. Part 5 here. Part 6 here.

 

They hurried back to the tree line and sat down in the forest duff. “I can’t believe it.” Karen’s voice quavered. “What the hell?”

Jean, sitting next to her shoulder to shoulder, nodded. “I’ve never seen anything like it. My hands are still shaking.”

“Did you get pictures?”

“Yeah. Not that I ever want to see that again.”

“I know. We should get pictures of the license plates. I recognize that announcer from the diner.”

“Good idea.” Jean put her hands over her eyes. “I just need a minute.”

The announcer came on again, introducing the first fight of the night.

Jean closed her eyes and took a deep breath. “Let’s get this done and get out of here. I don’t want to see a fight.”

“Good.” Karen stood up and gave Jean a hand. “Get the announcer guy’s truck first.”

“Yep. But it will be hard with the tailgate down.”

“Do what you can. A picture of him would be good too.”

“Agreed.”

They crept back out of the woods working their way around the parked vehicles, staying to the shadows, as Jean tried to get a position on the announcer and the truck. She got pictures of men taking bets and a good bit of the crowd, as she moved into place. Finally, staying low, she managed a shot through the fence of the truck plate. Then more of the guy himself, standing in the bed of the truck, narrating the fight. Jean did her best not to look but the sound of the dogs screaming and the people shouting was overwhelming.

She led Karen out of the crowd. They edged around the outside, taking pictures of all the plates until they were nearly back to the woods. That’s when the world lit up. Car headlights came on. Cruisers with their light bars flashed red and blue. A high-volume PA system came on and a male voice was shouting for everyone to stand still, they were all under arrest. Jean and Karen broke for the woods but three guys stood up and pointing assault rifles, yelled at them to halt. Jean put up her hands, Karen right beside her, did the same.

It was an hour and a half later when Chief of Police Nick White came over to the group of prisoners and picked them out. “Come with me.”

Jean’s stomach, already knotted with dread, did flip-flops. She glanced at Karen who gave her head a shake. Nick didn’t look like he was going to be happy.

Next to his cruiser, he turned on them. “What in the name of all that’s holy are you two doing here?” His hands went to his hips and he was glaring at them so hard Jean thought lasers would shoot from his eyes.

She held up her camera. “We took pictures. To bring to you.”

Jean saw Nick shudder as he drew in a slow breath. “Do you have any idea how dangerous that was?”

Karen nodded. “We do. Did. Well, they didn’t see us.”

He glared at her and she wilted.

“I should arrest you and take you with the rest of these…” he waved a hand. “Where’s your car?”

“Back up the road. Hidden.” Karen replied in a near whisper.

“Then get to it. Don’t let me see you for many days.”

Jean and Karen turned to hurry off.

“Wait.”

Jean’s heart froze along with the rest of her muscles. She turned around. “Yes?”

“Send me those pictures.”

She nodded, turned and scurried away with Karen.

When Karen arrived at Jean’s, Jean invited her in. “Come in. We’ll have a glass of wine and download these pictures. Get them off to Nick.”

Karen nodded. “Might need some of that scotch tonight.”

“Agreed.”

They poured their drinks and went upstairs to Jean’s computer. She quickly downloaded them, put them in a file, and copied it to a thumb drive.”

“You aren’t going to look at them?”

Jean shook her head. Karen looked white as the computer paper. “Nope. I’ll take this over to the station in the morning. I don’t want to see these pictures.”

“Good idea.” Karen slammed back the scotch. “I’ll go with you.”

#

At the Police Department in the morning, Jean and Karen asked for Lieutenant Oliver. When Paul came to the window, he glared at them. “Didn’t I tell you to stay out of it? Nick was incoherent. I’ve known him since grade school. I’ve never seen him so mad. He should have dragged you two in here to spend the night.”

Jean and Karen nodded together. “I know. I’m sorry.” Jean slid the thumb drive through the small slot at the bottom of the window. “We brought the pictures.”

Paul snatched them up out of the bin. “Good.” He took a breath and shook his head. “Why’d you do it?”

Jean shrugged as Karen shook her head. “We hoped to get pictures. For evidence.”

Paul scrubbed his face with his right hand. “I’d tell you not to do it again but I know that’s a waste of breath. Go on now before Nick sees you.”

The two women hurried off.

“Dang, Paul was mad too,” Jean said as she held the door for Karen. “I thought he was going to drag us in and put us in jail.”

“I’ve known Paul and Nick back as far as grade school, too. They’re usually so calm. I guess that’s what makes them good cops.” Karen got in the car when Jean popped the locks. “Let’s go take some dogs for a walk.”

Jean nodded.

A week later the woman from the dog park hurried up to them as they turned loose their temporary charges. “Thank you, thank you.” She gave them each a bear hug. “The police found Sandy.”

Jean and Karen both grinned. “How nice!” Jean said.

“Where was she?” Karen asked.

“Someone took her.” The woman said. “She was going to be used as a bait dog, they called it. Some horrible dog-fighting ring.”

Jean felt her stomach roll. Karen’s face went white. “What?”

The woman nodded. “They did a raid a couple of Saturday’s ago, and picked up a whole lot of little dogs. Poor Sandy was in the group. They just called me yesterday. I can get Sandy today from the Animal Control Office.”

“Good for you.” Jean said. “But we didn’t have anything to do with that.”

“Yes, you did. You went around town and asked about Sandy. The police told me.”

Jean and Karen exchanged glances. “Well. I’m glad we could be of some small help.”

The woman hugged them each again and hurried back to her friends at the picnic table. Jean chuckled. “So Nick and Paul gave us the credit.”

Karen grinned. “I guess so. I always knew they were great guys.”

The two of them followed their charges out into the yard. “Here Arthur. Here Arthur.” She wagged a brand-new tennis ball at him and he came charging over. “Get the ball,” she yelled and threw it. Every dog in the park went after it. She grinned. It felt good to help.

 

Thank You!

1186 Words

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

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Last Week of March Already: Monday Blog Post

Newest News:

I have four authors I need files from and the authors are set up. Hooray! We have 72 authors, a publisher, historical society, literacy organizations, it’s going to be great. We have booked the duo Windstrum. We have two separate rooms where we’ll have children’s story times, entertainment and author presentations. We’re also looking for sponsors. Putting on a festival of this size costs money and if you can support us, we’d love it. You can find an on-line fillable form on http://www.paysonbookfestival.org/sponsor-levels/.

April’s Camp NaNo starts Saturday and my plotting for the next Zoe Ohale story isn’t going any better than last week. I’m going to have to plot heavily this week or write “Into the Dark” as Dean Wesley Smith, says. Have you read the first Zoe Ohale book, Troubled Streets? Where do you think Zoe should go next?

Apple Blossoms and Bee by Randy Cockrell

Not much on the gardening front. A cold snap came in and for the last week we’ve been getting cold, frosty nights and two days ago it was hailing. However, the local stores have been getting in tiny plants and I’m eager to put something in the ground. I just found out about the flower, borage. It helps keep hornworms off of your tomatoes. I’m going to get at least a couple of borage plants to put in the tomato bed. I also learned about pruning my tomato plants of the suckers. I’m going to try it out and see if it helps. My tomatoes are usually running amok and taking over every square inch of space for two feet around the outside of the bed. Hopefully, this will help.

Sadie – Available for adoption now from:
Annie Bamber
Outreach Programs Coordinator
(928) 474-5590 ext. 100
annie@humanesocietycentralaz.org
www.humanesocietycentralaz.org
Like us on Facebook:
https://www.facebook.com/humanesocietycentralaz/
“Because They Matter”

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

I’m prepping the April flash stories so I can focus on the Camp NaNo story. The first one is a riff off my Gulliver Station series. The rest is a fantasy serial I started two days ago. I have no idea where I’m going with it right now but there’s an elf princess, so it has that going for it.

Giveaways:

My multi-author giveaway is called Luck O’the Readers, St. Patrick’s Day Giveaway is now over. I’ll be contacting the winners soon. In a few days I’ll have the spring giveaway up. If you missed out on the last one, the next will be your chance to win.

 

Shout Out:

I don’t have an Author Interview scheduled this week. So let me give a shout out to Anita Stewart. A speculative fiction (SciFi and Horror) author, she’s a major mover and shaker in the below noted B2BCyCon. You can find her at https://www.facebook.com/afstewart, to learn more.

 

Where Will I Be?

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

In April, I’ll be part of B2BCyCon, an on-line conference that runs from April 7th to the 10th. Events are open to readers and here’s a link to my Science Fiction Author Showcase: https://www.goodreads.com/topic/show/18367091-2017-connie-cockrell-science-fiction-author-showcase. On this link I’ll be talking about the whole Brown Rain series and my other books in general. I may even offer up a prize. 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!

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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Mystery at the Dog Park Part 6 of 7: Flash Fiction Friday Post

Dos – Available for adoption now from:
Annie Bamber
Outreach Programs Coordinator
(928) 474-5590 ext. 100
annie@humanesocietycentralaz.org
www.humanesocietycentralaz.org
Like us on Facebook:
https://www.facebook.com/humanesocietycentralaz/
“Because They Matter”

 

Part 6 of 7. You can find Part 1 here. Part 2 here. Part 3 here. Part 4 here. Part 5 here.

Trigger warning: Dog violence.

 

Jean was in her black jeans, a black t-shirt and a black sweatshirt, which she’d just bought today. It could be chilly out in the woods and she wanted it with her. She’d spent Saturday afternoon reacquainting herself with her big camera. Usually she used her little hiking camera or just her cell phone to take pictures. She made the house as dark as she could to practice shooting without a flash. Frustrated, Jean had to download a YouVid how-to video to get it right. She had a sandwich for supper and fidgeted as she stared out of her patio window watching the sun go down.

It was after six when Karen pulled up in her Jeep. “Ready?” she asked as Jean hopped into the car.

“Yes. I thought this afternoon would never end.” Jean buckled her seat belt. “I have everything. We just need to get there and not get caught.”

Karen pulled away from the curb. “That’s the trick. Isn’t it?”

They rode in silence, even after turning onto Forest Road 222. Jean watched behind them. “I see lights two switchbacks back.”

Karen nodded. “We’re almost down.”

Jean twisted in her seat to watch more comfortably. “Hurry, but don’t crash.”

Karen snorted. “Thanks.”

A minute later, “We’re down, now to find that spot.” Karen crept along, not wanting to miss the turn off. “Got it.” She pulled in and around the bushes and turned off the car and lights.

Jean spun around in her seat and watched out to the road. “They’ll be right along.”

They sat, hardly breathing, staring through the bushes. Even in the Jeep, they could hear the roar of a diesel truck engine. A moment later, they watched the lights pass, engine loud enough to make the Jeep shake. They sighed at the same time, then giggled with nerves. “Okay. Let’s get out and do some sneaking.” Jean gathered the camera and her sweatshirt. “Ready? Open doors, get out, close doors so as little light as possible shows.”

Karen nodded.

“One, two, three.” Jean opened her door, slid out and closed it as fast and as quietly as she could. “You there?” she asked into the dark.

“Yep. I’ve got my flashlight and a hiking stick.”

“I’ve got my camera and my flashlight.” Jean pulled the camera strap over her head. “I guess we’re ready.”

“We should cross the road here. Then keep to the woods along the way. If we turn off our flashlights when we hear a car, they’ll never see us.” Karen came around the end of the Jeep and waited for Jean.

“Sounds like a plan. I’m ready.”

The two women picked their way to the road and hearing nothing, crossed it, moving as far away from the forest road as seemed prudent. They kept their flashlights pointed down. It meant that they could only see a couple of feet in front of them but better than making themselves a target.

Jean’s heart pounded. Every step they made sounded like it could be heard in Greyson but without being able to see too far ahead, there wasn’t much they could do about it. As they moved forward, more and more cars passed on their left. Each time they shut off the light and hunkered down. With every car that passed, they grew more comfortable. “They can’t see us.” Karen whispered.

“They’re not looking.” Jean whispered back as a pick-up truck, every external light known to man lit up on the truck, passed by. It’s very hard for the human eye to pick out shapes in the dark unless they’re looking for them, are lit up in some way or are moving. It’s when we get to the ring that we’ll have to be careful.”

By the time they made the third of a mile, festivities were in full swing. From the edge of the woods they could see trucks surrounded the ring, lights on. At the moment, it was empty. One guy was selling beers from coolers off of his tailgate. Men and women were standing around the fence, laughing and joking, while others sat on the truck hoods, able to see over the heads of those standing.

Men and dogs were at the poles Jean and Karen had noted earlier, one dog tied per pole. People wandered among the tied dogs, as men debated the merits of the dog or the dog in relation to some other dogs. Jean took pictures of the dogs and their owners as best she could without a flash.

Karen pointed out that the men were giving their dogs rubdowns and checking their paws. “They’re treating them like boxers.”

“Yeah, but a boxer has a choice.”

She saw a number of smaller dogs, ones that didn’t look like fighting dogs at all. “I wonder why the little dogs?”

“No idea,” Karen whispered back.

They were interrupted by an announcement. They looked at the ring. From the back of a huge white pickup, a man stood with a microphone. “To start the evening, a demonstration by Bill Munson on training your fighting dog.

The gate farthest from them opened. Jean moved to get shots of the man in the ring. He led a German Shepherd. Behind him another man led a small terrier on a leash. Jean moved closer, standing on a fallen pine to get higher. Karen followed.

The man in the ring spoke without a microphone. He slipped the leash off the shepherd and began to talk. She was too far away to hear. Jean could see Karen straining to hear. The second man let the terrier loose. The first man called a command. Before she knew what was happening the shepherd ran straight for the little dog. She began snapping. The dog grabbed the terrier by the neck and with only a small squeal, the shepherd shook its head and tossed the small dog in the air.

The man called the dog back and snapped the leash in place. Jean stopped snapping and got off the log. Her hands were shaking so hard she was glad she had the strap around her neck. Karen was bent over, retching.

 

Thank You!

1025 Words

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

 

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Mystery at the Dog Park Part 5 of 7: Flash Fiction Friday Post

Captain – Available for adoption now from:
Annie Bamber
Outreach Programs Coordinator
(928) 474-5590 ext. 100
annie@humanesocietycentralaz.org
www.humanesocietycentralaz.org
Like us on Facebook:
https://www.facebook.com/humanesocietycentralaz/
“Because They Matter”

Part 5 of 7. You can find Part 1 here. Part 2 here. Part 3 here. Part 4 here.

 

It was Friday after school before Summer had something to report. Jean and Karen had continued to search for Sandy without luck but they became more observant of all the handyman and other contractor trucks parked in neighborhoods. They were especially suspicious of a truck just parked and the contractor sitting inside. Sometimes he was on the phone. Sometimes eating. None of them looked like they were casing the neighborhood where they were parked but who could tell?

Karen called Jean with the information. “It’s outside of town, to the south, down Forest Road 222 about three miles.”

“We should check it out.”

“Now?”

“Yeah.” Jean switched the handset to her left hand. “This is a chance to check out the place while it’s daylight.”

Karen took a deep breath. “What if somebody is there?”

“Put your hiking stuff on. We’ll just say we’re looking for new hikes?”

“I don’t know, Jean.”

“Better to go prepared, right? We don’t want to go tomorrow and not know what we’re up against. In the dark!”

“I guess. I’ll drive. Your Prius won’t like a dirt road.”

“Okay. See you in a few.” Jean hung up and hurried upstairs. This is perfect. We’ll scope the place out when it’s deserted and be ready for tomorrow night. She put on jeans and a tee-shirt. Then kicked off her flip-flops and put on hiking socks and her boots. Karen’s car horn sounded as she reached the bottom of the stairs. She grabbed her purse and keys and headed out the door.

“You were quick.” Jean put on her seat belt.

“I already had jeans and a tee on.” Karen backed out of the driveway and headed down the street. Just had to put my boots on.

“This is great.” Jean tapped a tattoo on her thighs with both hands. “We’ve gotten dull since summer.”

“We’ve not gotten into a fight with a crazy woman, you mean.” Karen shook her head. “I’m starting to think you’re an adrenaline junkie.”

“Nah. I just like things to be interesting.” She watched out of the window as Karen drove them south, out of town. “This is nice. I get to look around. Why is it I always drive?”

“Because you’re a control freak.” Karen laughed. “But I do drive sometimes.”

“True.” She watched another three blocks pass. “Do you know this forest road?”

“No. There are so many leaving the highway, unless it’s for something specific, I don’t try them all.”

Jean nodded. “So we’ll just cruise down the road, try to spot the place, take a look around.”

“Sure. Let’s say that.” Karen licked her lips. “I just hope no one is there.”

“Me, too.” Jean watched the scenery go by as Karen drove. It was six miles south of town where Karen slowed down and put on her turn signal. Jean perked up. “Alright.”

Karen waited for northbound traffic to pass, then pulled across the highway and onto the dirt road. “So far, so good.”

“It’s going to be hard to spot in the dark.”

“Yep. Probably a good thing we’re checking it today. Even if I am being a worry-wart.”

Jean grabbed the hand hold over the window as Karen’s Jeep hit a pothole. “Glad I didn’t bring my car.”

Karen nodded. “Sometimes the dirt roads are in really good shape, sometimes, like this one, not so much. Anyway, I set the trip odometer to zero so we can tell when we’re close.”

“Good idea.”

They traveled along the road without too many bumps until the odometer read 2.8. “We’re almost there. Keep an eye peeled.” Karen slowed down.

“That must be it.” Jean pointed to the right. The road had dipped down into a canyon about a mile from the spot. The landscape changed from high desert to wooded in the protected canyon. The spot didn’t have much to recommend it. There were no buildings. A chain-link fence circled the ring with a gate on opposite sides. Karen stopped the car and they got out. “Well, it’s secluded.”

Jean nodded. They walked around the fence. “What are these?” Away from the fence was rebar or pipes sticking up out of the ground, each one separated from the others by several feet. She crouched down to look as Karen walked up to her. She studied the dirt. It was rocky and pitted with small holes. She lightly touched a spot. “This is a chain mark. I think this is where they tie the dogs.”

Karen had her arms around herself. “I can’t help but think about these poor dogs.”

“Me, too.” Jean stood up and brushed the dirt off her hands. “Makes my stomach roll.” She looked around the barren area. “So we can’t drive up and park and come in. They’re going to know we aren’t fans. Did Summer say if they charged admission?”

“No. Just where it is. And you’re right. We can’t just walk in. We’ll have to park up the road and hike in. Then come around the back in the trees.” Karen pointed to the forest edge away from the road.

“That’s going to be tricky, the drive into the canyon was kind of narrow. We’d have to park at the top.” She turned to look down the road. “You know what’s that way?”

“Nope. But I brought the maps. Let’s see.” They went back to the car and Karen pulled USGS maps out of the cargo compartment. “Here’s the one.” She put the rest down and opened the map on the cargo compartment floor. She traced a line from Greyson to the forest road then along the thin line of the forest road. “We’re about here.” She pointed at a spot on the map. “If we keep going,” her finger traced the road, “we end up…nowhere. The road just ends. Probably at a canyon.”

“Darn it.” Jean leaned over the map. “Look, as the road reaches the canyon bottom, it opens up. We could park here.”

Karen studied the map. “Maybe. We’ll check it out on the way out.” She folded the map. “I know I’d rather not have to hike down that narrow road with traffic coming up behind us.”

“Or hike back up it. Let’s check it out.”

They closed the cargo door and got in. Karen drove slowly so they could check out possible hiding places along the way. “Look here.” Jean pointed to her right. We could pull the Jeep in behind that stand of trees. The shrub oak would hide it, especially at night.”

Karen pulled off and drove the Jeep into the spot. “Let’s look.” They got out and walked back to the forest road and then back at the Jeep. “Not hidden well for daylight but at night, no one is going to be looking over there.”

“I think it will work and it’s only a third of a mile back to the ring.” Jean stuck her hands in her jean pockets. “We’ll want pictures. Of the people, of license plates.”

“The dogs?”

Jean sighed. “I don’t know if I want to see that. Or get too close. I’ll bring my camera. It will be better than our cell phones.”

Karen nodded. “Yeah. Makes sense.” She scrubbed her face with both hands. “We’re going to regret this.”

“No we won’t. We’ll be helping to shut down this horror.” Jean pulled her hands out of her pockets. Her voice grew hard. “And send these jackwipes to jail.”

“True.” She headed back to the Jeep. “Let’s get out of here.”

 

Thank You!

1254 Words

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

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