Author Interviews: Gail Kittleson

Welcome today to author Gail Kittleson. Gail writes Women’s Fiction and memoir, with a focus on the World War II era. She facilitates writing workshops and speaks on writing-related topics. She and her husband enjoy Rim Country during the winter.

And I love your line: Dare to Bloom. That’s a wonderful way to greet your readers. So, first question.

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

It’s a tie between hiking and reading. Hiking/walking frees my mind, and reading has always intrigued me.

 

2. Coffee, tea, soda or something else?

I’m a tea person, and Good Earth original Sweet and Spice is my favorite—I could own stock in the company.

 

3. What are you working on right now?

My work in progress. Right now, it’s called A Distant Goodness, and it’s the sequel to the second in my Women of the Heartland World War II series. Depending on the editor’s opinion of the title, it may change, since my second one did.

 

4. How would you describe your writing style?

My heroines and heroes juggle difficult questions and situations. I guess that’s obvious, since the stories are set in the midst of a nasty war. I do my best to remain faithful to historical facts, and really enjoy the intensive research required.

 

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

Keep in mind that writing carries no guarantees. It’s a calling (in my humble opinion), and sometimes seems to have a life of its own. If you’re a control freak, you’ll likely experience frustration. And if you’ve put off writing for a long time, never fear—with a little nurturing and a lot of courage, your gift can still blossom.

 

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

The ideas come during regular everyday experiences, but once the main character gets firmly planted in my brain/heart, the research begins. That’s one way of immersing myself in new situations—I try to drop down into the historical era/setting as much as possible. Plotting is tougher than characterization for me, so the research helps the story unfold.

Documentaries and movies can sometimes be helpful, and in my dreams, I plan research trips to London and Southern France. (:

 

6. Where can we find you on the interwebs?

http://www.gailkittleson.com/

www.facebook.com/GailKittlesonAuthor

http://twitter.com/gailgkittleson

http://amazon.com/author/gailkittleson

Thank you so much, Gail, for joining us today. We all enjoyed it.

Readers, you can follow Gail on two social media sites, her website and her Amazon page to keep up with her releases. Check them out today.

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Author Interviews: Lyndsey Cole

I’d like to welcome author Lyndsey Cole to the blog today. Lyndsey Cole lives in New England in a small rural town with her husband who puts up with all the characters in her head, her dog who hogs the couch, her cat who is the boss, and 3 chickens that would like to move into the house. She surrounds herself with gardens full of beautiful perennials. Sitting among the flowers with the scent of lilac, peonies, lily of the valley, or whatever is in bloom, stimulates her imagination about who will die next!

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

I would have to say gardening, especially flower gardens. I spent thirty years growing cut flowers to sell to flower shops and there’s something about the scent, the colors, the variety, and the short life span that has me addicted to flowers!

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

I would love to meet Sue Grafton. I love her Kinsey Millhone character –a strong, smart female – and it would be fascinating to hear how she develops a story, where the initial idea comes from, her plotting method, where she pulls her characters from, and her writing discipline.

3. Coffee, tea, soda or something else?

That’s an easy choice—tea. I’ve never been a coffee drinker even though I love the smell of coffee and soda is just too sweet for my taste buds. My routine is a pot of black tea in the morning and a pot of either lemon ginger or peppermint in the afternoon.

 

4. What are you working on right now?

I’ve just completed book 9, Jingle Buried Cookies, in my Black Cat Café series and I’m working on an outline for book 5 in my Hooked & Cooked series.

 

5.  How would you describe your writing style?

Usually I just start right in once I have an idea for the first paragraph but with my latest project, I’m forcing myself to spend more time plotting with the hope that the writing will go quicker.

 

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

Write! Put one word after another and repeat until done! Sounds easy, doesn’t it, but if you don’t start, you will have nothing. One of the first things I remember reading is, you can fix crap but you can’t fix nothing, or something like that. You will get better the more you write.

 

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?

Both but probably more the normal, day-to-day stuff. My secret idea generator is my 90 year old mom who moved in with me a year ago. She loves giving me ideas and I’ve used several in my books!

 

8. Where can we find you on the interwebs?

http://lyndseycolebooks.com/ or https://www.facebook.com/LyndseyColeAuthor/

Thank you so much, Lyndsey for joining us today. We’ve enjoyed talking to you.

Readers, if you’d like to know more or follow Lyndsey in her writing journey, check out her website and facebook pages!

 

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Author Interviews: Elizabeth Hein

Elizabeth Hein Author Photo

Today’s interview is with author Elizabeth Hein who self-proclaims she writes Snarky Women’s Fiction! Let’s let Elizabeth tell us about herself.

Elizabeth Hein writes women’s fiction with a bit of an edge. Her novels explore the role of friendship in the lives of adult women and themes of identity. How To Climb The Eiffel Tower follows one young woman as she navigates the world of cancer treatment with the help of her friends. Overlook and Escape Plan chronicle how a small group of women bands together to free themselves from terrible marriages and forge their own paths in life.

Elizabeth grew up in Massachusetts within an extended family of storytellers. Her childhood was filled with excellent food and people loudly talking over each other. She and her husband now live in Durham, North Carolina.

Great to know you, Elizabeth. Let’s get to those questions, shall we?

Elizabeth Hein Cover Collage

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

My husband and I love to travel. He loves to go hiking and I have developed a fascination with volcanos, so we are slowly exploring the world’s hot spots. We may only get to go on a trip once every few years, but I enjoy learning about the different locations and planning our next trips. I spend a lot of time putting together Pinterest boards and reading guidebooks.

 

2. Coffee, tea, soda or something else?

Tea. I take my morning tea very seriously. I have a favorite teapot that was my grandmother’s and make my own blends of loose tea leaves. I drink strong black tea in the morning and a jasmine green blend in the afternoon.

 

3. What are you working on right now?

I am working on a mystery series set in some of the places my husband and I have visited and featuring two best friends as amateur sleuths. The first one is set on the Galapagos Islands, then Midge and Snig will travel to Hawaii and Costa Rica.

 

4. How would you describe your writing style?

It’s very hard to describe your own style. It’s a bit like describing what your voice sounds like. What you hear on a recording is never what your voice sounds like in your own head. That being said, I write about serious topics with a snarky tone. I see the world through a psychological lens and am fascinated by what motivates people to do the things they do.

 

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

Find a few trusted writing friends and help each other become better writers. A writing career can be lonely and there will be times when you will feel discouraged. That is when you will need someone to pick you up and help you move forward. You can find writer friends through critique groups, on-line communities, and through networking events. One small caveat to my answer – beware of negative people. Writing is hard enough; you don’t need frenemies.

 

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

Ideas for characters and plots come to me all the time, usually through very ordinary people. My first book was inspired by a woman I met in a hospital waiting room, and my next two books were inspired by a woman I met at a PTA bake sale.

 

7. Where can we find you on the interwebs?

Elizabethhein.com –http://elizabethhein.com

My writing blog – Scribbling in the storage room – http://scribblinginthestorageroom.wordpress.com

Facebook author page – https://www.facebook.com/pages/Elizabeth-Hein-author/447085108688361

Twitter – https://twitter.com/_ElizabethHein

Amazon author page- amazon.com/author/elizabethhein

 

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The Diner: Flash Fiction Friday Post

Cafe001

The local radio station played in the background, a non-offensive blend of modern western music that appealed to the usual customer of the diner. The place was lightly populated this morning when I came in. Usually, you couldn’t find a table, or even a stool at the counter, because of the regulars who knew the names of all the waitresses as well as the line cook and the busser.

I was in for breakfast while my hubby was at the dentist. I enjoyed my alone time, where I wasn’t just half of a couple. Don’t get me wrong. Married for over four decades I was happily married to my best friend. It’s just nice, sometimes, to be my own person.

Across the diner, I noticed a man in a ball cap. Even with my glasses on all I could read from the cap was World War II Veteran. Not a tall man, his face was wrinkled around his goatee with time but his eyes behind the large lenses of his glasses were alert and he noticed everything that went on within the diner walls.

He was alone in his booth, a newspaper open on the table beside him. It looked like he was having oatmeal for his breakfast. I wondered about his life. Had he been Army, Navy, a Marine during his war? Was he in the Pacific or Europe? Had he been a prisoner of war? What happened when he came home? I supposed, like most men of his era, he married, had children, worked in the steel mills or the booming auto industry or went to California and like my now deceased father-in-law, found work in the aerospace industry with one of the big airplane manufacturers. Maybe he used his G.I. Bill and went to college and became a businessman or a university professor, built a nice, middle-class home and contributed to his community.

Dress in our town is pretty casual. You generally couldn’t tell who had money and who didn’t by clothing alone. It was a point of pride among most of the town retiree population to buy most of their clothing from one of the many thrift stores in town. His attire didn’t really tell me anything about him, except for that hat, which looked fairly new.

More people came in—an older couple, a family with two young children. Two young men, boisterous and spouting millennial slang entered and sat in the booth behind me. “Bro” and “Man” punctuated every sentence they spoke in voices that carried across the diner drowning out all other conversation. Too loud and too familiar for my taste I wondered what the man, who I now labeled, The Vet, thought?

I saw the Vet stare at the young men behind me. They talked fast and laughed at their own jokes which echoed too loud across the sparsely populated diner. More people came in, older couples mostly but one young man came in alone. That brought the tally to three of us single diners. He sat alone, head down in the menu, as though he was ashamed to have to appear by himself.

The Vet finished his breakfast and pulled bills from his wallet, dropping a couple on his table. I watched him get up, bringing a portable oxygen concentrator with him. I hadn’t noticed an oxygen tube from my table. He moved the way I did, taking care and moving slowly, giving hips a chance to remember what they were supposed to do. Despite that, he walked to the register easily for a man that would be in his late eighties or even into his nineties. He paid his bill, joked a moment with the cashier, and left.

Through the windows, I watched him walk to a beat-up old Chevy pick-up truck with a cap on the back. The brown paint was dull, faded and peeling in places from the brutal Arizona sun. I saw a small dog leap up on the steering wheel to greet him. So, the Vet wasn’t totally alone. I was glad. I hoped, as he got in and pulled away, that he had family in the area. That he was able to play with his great-grandchildren. I hoped he belonged to the local veteran’s group, or car club, or anything else that allowed him to get out of a lonely house and stay active.

I found myself on the point of tears, worried for the Vet yet wishing him a happy life, whatever he had left of it. My breakfast was done when I saw my husband walk in the door of the diner. He waved and came over.

“Are you finished?”

I smiled up at him. “Yes.” I dropped three dollars on the table and stood up, slowly, my hips had to remember their job, after all and picked up the check. “How was the dentist?”

“Just a little filling,” he told me as we walked to the register. “See anyone you know?”

I smiled to myself. “No, not quite.”

 

 

Thank You!

837 Words

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

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Author Interviews: Arlene Hittle

Author Arlene Hittle

Author Arlene Hittle

I want to introduce one of my fav authors, Arlene Hittle. Arlene writes romance and does it very well indeed! She lives not too far from me so every once in awhile we get to actually meet in person to talk about writing and giggle. Here’s a little bit about Arlene.

Arlene Hittle is a Midwestern transplant who now makes her home in northern Arizona. She suffers from the well-documented Hittle family curse of being a Cubs fan, but will root for the Diamondbacks until they run up against the Cubs. Longtime friends are amazed she writes books with sports in them since she’s about as coordinated as a newborn giraffe and used to say marching band required more exertion than golf.

Arlene_Ogling the Outfielder300dpi750x1200

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

Lately, I’ve gotten back into crochet. On Jan. 1, I started a “temperature afghan” — one row to record each day’s temperature through 2016. (Saw the idea on Facebook.) I’ve also started quilting and have a fun quilt planned with some fabric I spotted that reminded me of Diva in the Dugout, my first book.

Arlene's Temperature Afghan

Arlene’s Temperature Afghan

 

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

Well, if Bradley Cooper and Brad Pitt are busy, I’d like to spend another day with my mother. She died in 2003 before I sold my first novel. I’d like her to know I’m finally succeeding at what I always wanted to do.

 

Coffee, tea, soda or something else?

I should say water. But most days, I drink a combination of coffee, tea, and Diet Dr. Pepper. More coffee on the days I write at Starbucks; more Diet Dr. Pepper to power through long hours at the day job and iced tea or diet soda when I’m relaxing at home. I’ve recently started making sun tea in a Mason jar on my front porch. Yum!

 

What are you working on right now?

The next book in my All’s Fair in Love & Baseball series, Ogling the Outfielder, comes out March 4. I’m still writing pitcher Luis’ story, and I have a couple other projects in various stages of completion.

 

How would you describe your writing style?

Breezy romantic comedy. My books are plain fun to read.

 

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

Perseverance pays. I wrote my first manuscript in the mid-1990s and joined RWA sometime in 2002-03. Beauty and the Ballplayer finaled in RWA’s Golden Heart contest in 2011, and I sold Diva in the Dugout in July 2013 … close to 20 years after I started. Success might not come easily or quickly, but it will come to those who stick with it.

 

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

More day-to-day life. I get inspiration from weird newspaper articles, snippets of things I see on TV … although I’d love to have experiences that I can then turn into story fodder — like riding in a hot air balloon.

 

Where can we find you on the interwebs?

My website, arlenehittle.com, is under construction. I spend more time than I should on Twitter (@arlenehittle) and Facebook (Arlene Hittle, Author). I’m on Pinterest mainly to pin recipes that I’ll probably never get around to trying, and I’m on Instagram and  Goodreads.

 

I’d like to thank Arlene for stopping by the blog and chatting with us. I love the idea of that temperature afghan! Good luck with your newest release.

Want to know more about Arlene? Trek on over to her Twitter, Pinterest, Facebook, Instagram and Goodreads social media pages or scope out her website. She’ll be happy to say hi!

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Friday Flash Fiction Story: Desperate Quiet

Tears, Rain, BlackJack 0919, DeviantArt.com

Tears and Rain by BlackJack 0919 via DeviantArt.com

Eleanor Marks drove home from her job as a mid-level secretary in a mid-level accounting firm. Her ten year old car was a sedan, as plain as she was. Once home she made grilled pork chops, mashed potatoes and green beans for supper. It was the same thing they had every Wednesday night. Her husband, Arnold, arrived home promptly at six and wanted dinner on the table by six-fifteen.

“Good supper, El.” He wiped his mouth on his napkin and went into the living room to watch the seven o’clock game show.

El. Eleanor sighed and began clearing the table. Her family called her El, too. All of the people in college and now at work called her El. Why couldn’t she be Ellie? Ellie was bright, happy, and popular. El was plain, ugly even. She hated her short name. Once, in high school she’d tried to get people to call her Ellie. It was a waste of time. No one noticed the plain girl nor cared enough to follow her request. She stopped trying years ago.

After she did the dishes she came into the living room. Arnold was turning the channel to catch his favorite eight o’clock TV show. She picked up her embroidery hoop and began where she left off last night. Tonight’s program was another shoot ’em up cop show. She wondered why her husband liked them. No one on the series was happy. It was depressing.

At a commercial break she turned to Albert. “I think there’s a leak in the roof. There’s a water spot on the upstairs bathroom ceiling.

“Always something.” Albert got up and went to the kitchen. He came back, beer in hand, just in time for the show to restart.

Eleanor took a deep breath. She’d remind him on Friday and he would take care of it over the weekend. The show droned on and she occupied herself with the tiny stitches. The thread colors pleased her, reds and oranges, violets and blues, greens of grass and moss and new shoots. She loved them all.

At nine o’clock Albert turned off the TV and began his nightly routine of checking that the doors and windows were all locked. Eleanor followed along behind him, turning off lights. She wondered how this routine began. They never even spoke. They just started the house rounds, every night the same.

He readied for bed and vacated the bathroom. After her hand washing and face creaming, she stood in the adjoining bathroom door and looked at her husband, already asleep in their queen sized bed. She rubbed the lotion into her hands.

She’d never dated in high school. No boy wanted to date such a plain girl. So it was in college that she dated. Not the cool popular boys. College was just high school on steroids. But George worked in the student cafeteria when he wasn’t in class studying programming. Certainly not handsome, they had begun talking as he bussed nearby tables. One date, then two, and before she knew it they were going together. He graduated the year before her and at their quiet graduation ceremony, just the two of them at the local pizza place, he proposed.

Eleanor wondered at her immediate acceptance. Did she think there were no other men out there who would be interested in her? She drew a deep breath, a lump forming in her throat. That must have been it. She was so pleased to be asked that she just took the first offer. Finished rubbing in the hand lotion she went back into the bathroom and closed the door behind her. She studied her face in the mirror. There was nothing to see. Eyes were gray, not blue, her hair was graying, and she didn’t have the energy to even consider dying it. What was the point? It was a mousey brown to start with, hardly worth trying to keep. Wrinkles were forming at the corners of her eyes and mouth, as were jowls at her jaw line. The lump in her throat grew and she sat down on the toilet lid.

How did she get here to a boring marriage in a boring life in a boring house? Perhaps children would have made the difference but Albert wasn’t able.  She considered how children might have changed their lives. PTA meetings, taking the children to sporting events and talking with the other parents as the kids played on the fields or courts. They might have become more social. Instead they became insulated. Neither of them made friends at work so there were no get-togethers for drinks or dinner after work. It was just the two of them, moving silently though a quiet house every evening and weekend.

Tears flowed down her face and she unrolled three squares of toilet paper to wipe her eyes. She was only forty-five. She was smart. She liked good food and music and plays. Eleanor felt trapped by a life she’d built one small decision at a time. Crying herself out, she blew her nose and rewashed her face. In the mirror she could see that her eyes were red and puffy. It didn’t matter. Albert was sound asleep. He’d never know that she had been crying.

She turned out the light and crawled into bed. Eleanor stared at the ceiling. He never knew that she cried every night.

 

 

The End

897 Words

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

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Flash Fiction Friday Story: An Easter Gift

Easter, Eggs, Randy Cockrell

Easter Eggs by Randy Cockrell

Moira gently dropped the last hard-boiled egg into the dye bath. This one was purple that she’d made from red onion-skin. The other dyes were made from fruits and vegetables also, turmeric for a bright yellow, beet for pink, Chili powder for orange and red cabbage for blue. It was something her grandmother had taught her when she was a little girl.

She again regretted she didn’t have any children to teach the art to. Her husband, Dan, and her had tried for years and finally given up. These eggs were for her niece, Pam and nephew, Scott, her brother, Rick’s kids. The eggs would go in the baskets she was making for them.

After the dyed eggs were put in the refrigerator she got her gardening gloves, bucket and trowel and went out to her front flower beds. Even with the ground still cold, she had to weed around her daffodils. The sun was warm on her back as she knelt in the grass at the bed’s edge. Moira paused to watch a robin search the lawn and stab the ground, pulling up a worm. It flew off, worm dangling from its beak.

While she weeded she thought about Easter dinner. It was at her house this year. The family’s traditional ham was already in the fridge for Sunday but she wanted to do something a little less traditional. Maybe a lamb roast, she thought. We never do lamb. And grilled asparagus instead of green beans. Moira briefly thought about making something other than mashed potatoes but rejected that idea. The entire family would riot if there were no mashed potatoes.

She enjoyed the bird mating calls coming from every tree in the neighborhood. It reminded her that she hadn’t had her monthly cycle in three months. That wasn’t unusual for her. She clapped her gloved hands together to get rid of the dirt and stood up. One of the neighbors began mowing her lawn, the smell of fresh cut grass wafted to her on the soft breeze. It was one of her favorite smells, right after fresh baked bread.

As Moira dumped the bucket of weeds into the trash she considered the pregnancy test kit she still had in the master bath. She’d stopped testing three years ago, her heart broken by the continuous series of negative results. Now, though, she thought, one last time? Nah, it’ll just be negative again. She went into the house and went on about her day.

Two days later, on Sunday, Moira had everything in the oven or on the stove cooking. Dan was in the kitchen, preparing the bar. She went up to her bedroom to take a shower and dress before her parents and brother and his family came over. She got a new bottle of shower gel out of the sink cabinet, the pregnancy test right next to it, and stopped. After a deep breath, she pulled it out and reread the directions. She couldn’t resist. After using the kit, she left it on her sink and took her shower.

Moira resisted the urge to check it when she toweled off. It’ll be negative again, she told herself. There’s no need to get your hopes up. After she wrapped her shoulder length brown hair in a towel and put her robe on she went to the sink and studied her reflection in the mirror. Gold-flecked blue eyes stared back at her. “Don’t get excited, Moira. It’ll be the same this time as all the times before.” With a deep breath, she looked down at the test stick. She blinked, then picked up the box to read the instructions again.

“Dan!” Moira picked up the stick and ran down the stairs to the kitchen. “Dan!”

He looked up from the counter where he was putting ice into an ice bucket. “Yeah, hon?”

She held out the stick.

His eyebrow arched. “I thought you weren’t going to do that anymore?”

Moira grinned. “Take a look.”

Dan looked at the stick then, eyes wide, back at her. “It’s…”

Her face crinkled with a huge smile. “Yes. It’s positive. I’m pregnant.”

 

The End

688 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: Of Autumn Leaves

Stream, Black and White, Randy Cockrell

Stream in B&W by Randy Cockrell

Stephanie Heller sat on the stream bank, her eyes staring at the way the water slid and gurgled around the rocks trying to block its way. She’d been there, mind lost in the ripple and swirl, for an hour as she watched orange, yellow and bronze leaves pass. The warm afternoon sun was setting and the air began to chill when she pulled herself from her reverie. She rose with a sigh, the water was so soothing, constant yet ever changing.

As she walked home the rustle of fallen leaves drowned out the muted sounds of the forest. Like the water, it soothed her as she focused on the way the sound of the leaves varied as her feet moved through them. It was a mile to the house and she was sorry when she emerged into the dusk past the forest edge and stepped onto the lawn of her farm house.

The windows were dark. There was no one there any longer but her to turn on the lights. She studied the house, how empty and cold it looked. Stephanie took one step, then another, following the path across the lawn to the back kitchen door.

The house didn’t used to be dark and cold. She opened the door and flipped the light switch. The kitchen was bathed in the cold blue light of the energy efficient bulbs. The room, where at this time of day should have been filled with the warm smell of dinner cooking, seemed sterile. She filled the water kettle and put it on the stove to heat. She was chilled and a cup of tea sounded good to her.

There were those small things, like a hot cup of tea that kept her going. That, and sitting by the stream, watching the water flow by. It had been there all summer, getting her to acknowledge her life. She went upstairs and changed into her pajamas, throwing on a red and black flannel quilted shirt over it all. Stephanie stroked the front of the shirt then wrapped her arms around herself as she watched her reflection in the dresser mirror. It was a poor replacement for her husband’s hugs but it was all she had left.

On her way back to the kitchen her step hesitated outside a closed bedroom door. It wasn’t time to face what was in there she decided and hurried down to the kitchen where the kettle was just about to whistle its readiness. She poured the water over the teabag in the cup. The scent of orange and cinnamon filled the kitchen as the heat from the kettle warmed her hands.

She took the tea to the living room and built a fire in the fireplace. Watching the flames consume the firewood was nearly as good as watching the water. Fire roaring, she cuddled into the sofa cushions and covered herself with an afghan. It was one she had made, a simple ripple pattern in gold and orange and chocolate brown, back when she was pregnant. That thought led to pain, so she shoved it away and picked up her tea.

Her friends had cared for her after the accident, helping her take care of the house and grounds as her broken arm and leg healed. The brought her frozen casseroles, kept the yard mowed, took her to her doctor appointments. They cleaned the house for her, too, but when they weren’t watching, she went behind them and laid all of the pictures face down. Looking at them was too hard to handle. After she was healed physically, they hugged her and reluctantly left.

Stephanie understood they knew she wasn’t healed yet but there was no reason for them to stay. She thanked them for their help and closed the door softly behind them. Since then she’d spent the days at the stream or if it was raining, watching the fire. The casseroles had been put to good use since she had gone to the store for only the most basic supplies. Aside from tea and toast, she hadn’t cooked a meal since the accident. It created too many memories of better times.

Autumn wound to a close and the colder days made it harder to sit at the stream side. Phone calls came in, inviting her to coffee, to Sunday Brunch, to dinner. It was on a gray day that she answered the phone. She watched a lone, brown maple leaf thrash on the tree branch outside the living room window as the caller asked her to come to a movie with her. Stephanie saw the wind rip the leaf from the tree and watched as the leaf sailed with crazed abandon around the tree and up into the sky out of sight.

Stephanie nodded. “Sure. I’ll meet you in town.” When she hung up the phone she felt better than she had in months, lighter, somehow. She went to her bedroom, showered, changed into jeans and a sweater, and brushed out her hair. As she passed the closed bedroom she stopped and lay her hand on the door. It was still too soon to go inside but she entertained a brief thought of the baby who used to be in there, chubby arms and legs and a dimpled smile. Her throat tightened and tears sprang to her eyes but she could bear it a little.

She passed the door and went to the garage. It occurred to her as she drove to town, that she could get a few groceries after the movie.

The End

925 Words

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Monday Blog Post: Busy January

Bridge, Roosevelt Lake, Dam, Hike

From a hike to Roosevelt Lake. The bridge near the dam from a different POV than most people get.

I’m sitting down to write this blog and all of the things I had thought to write about have flown out of my head. That’s what I get for not jotting them down as I think of them. No matter, there’s so much going on in January, I have plenty to talk about.

First of all, my leprechaun story, Lost Rainbows is proceeding along my editing path. All of the copies are back from my readers and I’m busy looking through the comments and making changes. Next, I’ll send it off to my editors, Silver Jay Media. They are marvelous people and are working very hard to make my work shine. I have contracted out my cover this time. JA Marlow, jamarlow.com, is a wonderful author in her own right and uses her graphic arts background to make great covers. I haven’t seen the first draft yet but she told me it’s almost done. I can’t wait to see it. I’m still hoping to make my self-imposed deadline of the end of January. We’ll see how that goes. It may slip into February.

Also on writing, I just started a new novel. I call it my All About Bob series for New Adults. That’s the 15 – 20 year age group. I thought of this series over a year ago when I was taking a writing class. I developed the first story a little bit and wrote a tiny bit about each of four other stories to go with it. Here’s my series blurb:

This is a series of novelettes about five Bobs, from different towns and circumstances, but they each dream of a different life.

The first story is about one Bob who dreams of college. The second story looks at another Bob, still in high school and desperate to date the cute girl in Social Studies. The third Bob dreams of leaving home for more excitement. Bob number four would love some economic security, self-respect and a way out of the dead end life his parents live. The fifth Bob wants to see the world and the wonders it holds. See how each Bob confronts the obstacles that are denying him his dreams and how each young man forges his own path to adulthood.

I have no idea why I wrote about a young man instead of a young woman. It just seemed the way it should go. Anyway, I’m excited about the first story; It’s a Question of College, and have been writing it fairly steadily. No plans yet on when it will be published.

On the volunteering front, I’m hip deep in planning for the first ever Book Festival in my town. It’s a lot more complicated than you would think. However, we do have a website: www.paysonbookfestival.org and a facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/PaysonBookFestival. The committee is very excited about putting this together.

I’m also on the Northern Gila County Fair board. Our first meeting of the year is coming up at the end of the month. We need volunteers, like any other non-profit organization. https://www.facebook.com/pages/Northern-Gila-County-Fair/136645043024179 and our website there is www.NorthernGilaCountyFair.com

Since it’s January there’s not a lot of gardening going on. My Meyer lemon tree bloomed over Christmas and as I do every year, I took a small watercolor paintbrush and moved pollen from one flower to the next. I have several teeny tiny lemon buds which I hope will grow to fantastic lemons.  My orchid is also sending out a new flower shoot. My daughter gave me the plant a couple of years ago as a Mother’s Day gift. I’m surprised I’ve kept it alive for so long. The dry Arizona air isn’t exactly ideal for a tropical rainforest flower.

Also on the agenda for this week is a hike on Tuesday, and a massage. My daughter gave me a gift certificate and on Thursday I’m going to indulge. It’d be nice if I could give myself a whole spa day but that is not going to happen. There’s too much writing to do for me to skip a day.

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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Flash Fiction Friday: Fall Hike

See Canyon Fall Hike by Randy Cockrell October 2014

See Canyon Fall Hike by Randy Cockrell October 2014

Jean Hays was doing what she came to Arizona for, hiking. The fall colors here were muted, for the most part. Yellow dominated the central mountains fall color scheme unless you hiked down into a canyon. Then, the hiker saw all the colors of an Eastern fall day. Fallen leaves rustled underfoot and the smell was pure autumn, dusty, leafy, and woodsy. The sky was cloudless and she didn’t have a name for the color, but only was seen in October.

Her hiking partner was her friend, Karen Carver. They’d first met when Jean joined the Hise County Fair board. Karen was a Superintendent at the fair in charge of Homemaking Arts. They’d hit it off right away. The Fair was over for the year. It was time to enjoy the countryside.

The stream bed they’d been following had a trickle of water in it. It caught the sky above and reflected that glorious blue. Red and yellow maple leaves floated along with the water. When they came to a small pool, Jean called a break. Karen slipped her pack from her back and pulled out a well used Girl Scout sit-upon.

“Looks like you’ve had that awhile,” Jean said when she saw Karen spread it on a fallen tree trunk.

“I have.” She sat down and pulled a granola bar from her pocket. “It was my daughter, Peggy’s. It’s still good, so I use it. I don’t know if she even remembers I still have it.” She looked at what Jean was pulling out of her pack. “What’s that?”

“I cut up a foam floating mat to fit in the back of my pack. It’s the perfect size, good protection from wet, cold,” she examined a snag on the trunk and moved down a few inches, “and sharp things.” She pulled a baggie of Sungold cherry tomatoes out of the pack. “The last of the garden cherrys, want some?” Jean held out the bag.

Karen took four and popped one in her mouth. “Oh my, those are so good.”

Jean pulled a water bottle from the pack outside pocket and drank. Her eyes focused on something on the opposite side of the pool. “That doesn’t look natural.”

She walked around the pool and scrambled part way up the canyon’s side to a tree. “It’s a duffle bag,” she called down to Karen. “It’s a big duffle.”

“Who’d carry a duffle bag on a hike?” Karen wondered.

Jean tugged at it. It came loose from where it had lodged against the tree and rolled down the slope. The rotten canvas, discolored and moldy, split open when it hit a rock. Jean slipped down the hill and looked inside. “Oh my, God.” She danced away from the bag, back around the pool and stood panting beside Karen, now standing.

“What’s wrong?”

Jean stared at the bag. “It’s a body.”

#

Two hours later Greyson Chief of Police Nick White was standing with the women while police officers, EMT’s and Search and Rescue people milled around the area. “Two bodies in two months, Ms. Hays. I think that’s a record.”

Jean shrugged, annoyed with him. She’d found a body at the fair in September and stirred the whole town up. What could she say? It wasn’t her fault.

“In fairness, Chief,” Karen interceded for her friend. “We were just enjoying the day.”

“Huh,” he grunted. He pointed up the side of the canyon were police officers were taking pictures and measurements. “So you just pulled on it, it rolled down hill, hit the rock and split open?”

“Yeah.” She looked up at the sky, still blue but now spoiled somehow. “I grabbed the left end of the bag, where it’s cleaner than the rest. My feet were slipping on the leaves so I didn’t have a lot of control over it.” Jean still wasn’t over how he’d treated her during the Fair murder. It was as though he thought she was a bubble head or something. His tone of voice irked her now.

The coroner called out. “We have ID in the bag, Chief.”

“What’s the name?”

“Anson Prentiss. License is from 2003, 42 years of age, 5 ft 11 inches. Address is in Greyson.”

Nick White sighed. “Not going to look good on our stats, two murders in one year.”

Jean’s right eyebrow raised. Karen whispered, “I’ll explain later.”

“OK, get him to the morgue. Give the address to Boles, he can go check it out.” He turned to Jean and Karen. “You’re free to go. We have your statements.”

The women pulled on their packs and hiked out the way they came in. “What do you think?” Jean asked her friend.

“Anson Prentiss doesn’t ring a bell. But you know Greyson has a lot of new people move in each year. Or he could have been a summer person. Who knows?”

“Do you know the address?” Jean asked.

Karen stopped in the middle of the trail and turned around to stare at her friend. “Seriously? After the last time? You want to get involved?”

“Sure, why not?” Jean’s eyes twinkled with mischief. “If only to annoy Chief White. The guy’s attitude bugs me.”

Karen rolled her eyes and turned to continue hiking. “Yeah, I know the address, well, sort of. It’s in the old part of town, on the northeast side. You really want to go there?”

“Why not? We can just drive by; we don’t have to knock on the door or anything.” She grinned even though Karen couldn’t see her. We solved the last murder, didn’t we? We’ll just look, I promise.”

That statement made Karen snort. Jean could see her shake her head. “OK, we’ll drive by. That’s it.”

“Hoo!” Jean whooped. “We can stop for ice cream afterward.”

 

The End

962 Words

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

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