Published!: Monday Blog Post

Newest News:

The Arrastra by Jay Richmond

Last week I mentioned that my western story, Gold Dream, was going to be published in Frontier Tales. Well, it happened. You can find it here: http://frontiertales.com/2017/05May/gold_dream_1.php. Part II will be in the magazine in June. I hope you enjoy it. If you do, go to the home page of the site and please vote for it as your favorite. Winning will get the story in the Frontier Tales anthology. Thank you in advance.

I’m just about done with the edits of Mystery at the Book Festival. I have a few more things to check and then I’ll send it back to the editor for a final review. That should happen this week. After that it will come back to me and I can do the formatting and finalize the cover.

Sahara Sunrise by djluke9 via DeviantArt
http://orig05.deviantart.net/ab5b/f/2017/093/2/2/sahara_sunrise_by_djluke9-db4idv5.jpg

I’ve been enjoying the writing of Slave Elf. I’m totally winging it (called pantsing (for writing without a plan, by the seat of my pants)) so I have no idea where I’m taking the story. It could go on for a while.

First strawberries

Gardening: I bought marigolds to fill the one pot by my sidewalk to replace the pansies the javelina ate. The pot with the daffodil bulbs looks like the bulbs won’t sprout. That makes me sad. I guess I’ll have to buy something, more marigolds, perhaps, to go in there. I picked my first strawberries Saturday. Yummy. That’s them above. I attended this last weekend’s garden club plant sale. I got there an hour and a half after opening and nearly all the vegetable plants were gone. I did get 2 cherry tomatoes and 2 Early Girl tomato plants and 2 serrano chili pepper plants and put them in the garden on Sunday. I also planted seeds for straight neck yellow squash, Black Beauty zucchini, bush green beans, pole green beans (both Blue Lake) as well as peas and yellow wax beans. Have you ever noticed how you cannot get yellow beans in the freezer section? Very odd. Anyway, it wasn’t ideal weather to plant the tomatoes and peppers. We’re having a cold snap and the wind is blowing like crazy, but I put the plants in anyway. They’ll have to tough it out.

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’ve joined an author group that’s gotten together to help support each other. This group is focused on mystery/thriller/suspense stories but some of us are going to form up a separate group for other genres. I’ll be posting here about their books and freebies and contests as we go along. For example, until the 12th of May, you can get 14 free mysteries at http://www.abbyvandiver.com/blog/go/free-books/

Where Will I Be?

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

The Phoenix ComiCon is coming up the end of this month, 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 1797.

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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Ambush: Flash Fiction Friday Post

The Arrestra by Jay Richmond at http://bit.ly/1SsjrfT

The Arrestra by Jay Richmond at http://bit.ly/1SsjrfT

Zeke wiped the sweat from his forehead with the back of his wrist. The grit scratched like a rasp. He would have used his bandana but it was caked with the mud of his sweat and the dust. The donkey plodded around the arrastra, crushing the gold bearing quartz so he could get at the gold ore.

It seemed like it had taken forever to build the thing. He had to level the ground then water it heavily until he could smooth the caliches into a cement-like floor. Hauling water from the creek took more than a week with nothing but empty gunpowder casks to use as barrels, and that was using both donkey and horse to move the water.

Finding the wood to use for the arms and center of the arrastra was another problem. He’d had to cut, trim and haul the right sized trees to his site. The central pivot and the rock crusher pole had to be installed and assembled. He decided to attach the donkey to the rock crusher pole as best he could. Fitting it all together was a nightmare, especially as he should have put the center pole in the ground before he made it hard as cement and he’d only had some old-timer’s word on how it went together. Zeke had wanted to bash his own skull in with the pickaxe before he managed to get the set-up to work.

The crusher was the final problem. It didn’t seem possible to move, let alone carve rocks big enough to be useful. He walked around and around the empty arrastra trying to come up with a plan. The old miner told him he needed two flat-bottomed drag stones, one at the end of each arm. He had the chain. But finding rocks in the creek, then dragging them to the camp, then drilling holes in them drove him to distraction. After a long search he found two rocks, about the right size, beggars couldn’t be choosers, and with his mismatched pair of haulers, dragged the rocks to camp, drilled them out and hooked them to the newly assembled arms. It was easier to dig the damn quartz than to build the arrastra. When it was done he sank to his knees, and wept.

Three nights later a noise penetrated Zeke’s exhausted sleep. He heard his horse, Butter, whinny—it seemed wrong. Too far away.

He tossed off his wool blanket and rolled to his feet. If that horse has broken free again I’m going to shoot it. This is the fourth time in a month. He pulled on his boots without bothering with socks and grabbed his rifle.

Zeke stepped into the night. A half-moon in a star-studded sky provided a little light. At the picket line the donkey stood, looking to the west. “Damn horse.” Zeke patted the donkey to reassure it before moving in the direction the donkey was pointing.

He whistled softly then called, “Butter, Butter,” in a low voice. He didn’t want to spook her. Zeke stubbed the toe of his boot on a rock. I’m gonna trip and break an arm out here in the dark. If I had any sense I’d go back to my bedroll till daybreak.

Just as he decided to go back to his tent he heard Butter nicker. He followed the sound, grazing a prickly pear cactus in the dark. The thorns stabbed him in the shin and despite wanting to catch the horse, had to stop and pull the spines from his leg. Butter whinnied. She sounded close.

“Butter?” Zeke heard the horse stamping. “Come on girl. She’s close. He followed the noise and in a moment was at the horse’s side. “Hush, hush,” he whispered to her as he stroked her neck. Butter shivered. “Let me untangle your lead.” Zeke struggled in the dark to remove the reins from an acacia. “You couldn’t have got tangled in a shrub oak?” he asked the horse as the acacia thorns caught in the skin of his hands.

Something whizzed past his head. He dropped the lead and hit the ground. Butter danced around him. Zeke hoped he wouldn’t die by trampling from his own horse. More whizzing. Something hit the ground a foot away from him. He reached out and grabbed it. An arrow! The Apache were on him. The old timer’s stories raced through his mind.

“They take your horse in the night, boy. You think your stock has wandered off and you go out, barefoot and unarmed. That’s how they get you, sonny!” The old coot cackled at his bad joke.

Zeke tried to swallow around his dry mouth. Not so funny, old timer. But he had his rifle and a handful of rounds in his pocket. Please Lord. Let it be enough. Leaving Butter to her own chances, he rolled behind the acacia not knowing if the Apache were all in front of him or he was surrounded. He fired a shot into the dark where he thought the arrows came from.

He was rewarded with the sounds of scrambling. “There’s more where that came from.”

More arrows fell around him. The thickness of the acacia main branch saved him from one. Zeke fired again. More scrambling and a hoot. Did he hit someone? He fired toward the sounds and hoped, his heart beating out of his chest. Was he going to die?

Butter pranced left, then right, rearing and snorting. It was the distraction Zeke needed. He rolled to his left and crab walked on hands and feet what seemed a long distance ignoring the cactus spines that stuck in his hands. Butter ran off into the dark.

Sounds of running, then more horses, then horses running off. Was it over?

Zeke hid behind a boulder, rising with the sun to a deserted landscape. He swiped a dirty sleeve across his forehead and limped back to camp. He hoped Butter would be there but he called it a wash. He was alive and that’s all that counted.

 

 

Thank You!

1008 Words

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

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Flash Fiction Friday: Shotgun Curse

Winchester Shotgun by Dionicio via www.DeviantArt.com

Winchester Shotgun by Dionicio via www.DeviantArt.com

This is a Chuck Wendig challenge from May 30th for June 6th. The challenge is to randomly choose one word each from 2 lists of 20. I rolled #6 and #14 which came out to be Shotgun Curse. Here is the story I’ve written to fit that title.

Shotgun Curse

Wilson was at the bar in the Oxbow Saloon. It was mid-afternoon and there were four guys at a scarred round wood table at the end of the bar playing five card stud. Two of the ladies that worked upstairs were standing around the table, hoping for a drink or a tip. The bartender wiped glasses as he watched the game.
It had been a bad week for Wilson. His mule had died four days ago leaving him to haul his winter’s catch of furs on a sledge behind his horse. The horse hadn’t appreciated pulling the sledge and had kicked him in the knee which was still swollen and painful to walk on. The mercantile had given him less than he expected for his furs so he couldn’t get the new shotgun he’d hoped to buy. The shotgun he inherited from his father when he died six years ago hadn’t been much but over the winter it had fallen in the half frozen East Verde River and was lost. Wilson had to go the rest of the winter without any protection or way to hunt for food. He needed a new shotgun and now there wasn’t enough money to buy one, not and buy his supplies and a new mule.
He sipped his beer and tried to think of a way to get the extra thirteen dollars he needed to buy the gun. The saloon doors swung open, letting in a blast of sunlight. Wilson turned to see who had come in.
An old man stood there, silhouetted by the light from the street. The bartender walked to Wilson’s end of the bar. “Howdy, Amos. Beer?”
The man walked to the bar and laid a shotgun on it. He looked like he’d been dragged down Main Street, filthy, torn clothes and a hat that had seen better days. “That’d be just the thing, Sam.”
Amos nodded to Wilson. “Afternoon.”
“Afternoon.” Wilson eyed the shotgun. It looked good. Stock was clean and oiled, as was the barrel. The trigger looked well-kept, there was no sign of rust or corrosion anywhere on it.
Amos drank half of his beer down. “The shotgun is for sale, young man.”
“You don’t say.”
“I don’t need it. I’m sellin’ it cheap. Twenty dollars.”
Wilson nodded. He had twenty dollars but he didn’t want to seem too eager. That would leave him with enough money to buy a new mule and his supplies for the summer, too.

The bartender wandered over after Amos stepped out back to the outhouse. “You don’t want that shotgun, son. It’s cursed.” He pulled Wilson another beer.
“How so?”
“Amos bought that gun off of a trapper last summer. The trapper said the gun was bad luck and wanted to get rid of it. Amos didn’t believe it but he’s had nothing but trouble since he got the gun. His woman ran off. His crops got infested with some sorta blight. The Apaches burnt his barn to the ground over the winter and stole all the chickens.” He shook his head. “You don’t want that gun.”
Wilson nodded but he didn’t believe in curses, he’d just had a run of bad luck all on his own. When Amos came back they made a deal and Wilson picked up the gun. Amos left the saloon with half a glass of beer still on the bar.
The next spring, on a fine clear day, Wilson came into the Oxbow. His clothes were in rags, rope was wrapped around his boots to hold them together. His hair was matted and dirty as was his beard. The bartender pulled him a beer. “Looks as though you’ve had a rough winter, son.”
Wilson gulped the beer down in one breath and signaled for another. “Worst year of my life. Wolverines got into my traps and took every animal I caught. The mule took off half way through the winter and not long after that, my horse just keeled over in the stable, dead as a doornail. Mice ate my supplies. I fell in the East Verde, nearly drowned and half froze when a band of Apache chased me half way to Fort Verde and back again.”
The bartender raised an eyebrow. “That does sound like a spell of bad luck. What happened to the shotgun?”
Wilson took another long drink of his beer, wiped his mouth with the back of his hand and put the beer on the bar top. “I smashed that shotgun into pieces with a rock and threw it in the river.”

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

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