Slave Elf Republished, Wild Flowers, Book Festival: Monday Blog Post

Poppies and lupine, March 2019, by Randy Cockrell

Newest News:

I don’t know where you all live but out here in the West, we had a wet winter. Wetter than it’s been in many years. So we’re now blessed with an abundance of wildflowers. California poppy and lupine are everywhere—entire hillsides and valleys are blanketed with flowers. A super bloom is what it’s being called. If you live here, please get out and enjoy the feast. If you’re still waiting for your snow to melt, enjoy our pictures, it’ll be your turn very soon.

Slave Elf. If you remember last week, I mentioned that there were a number of errors in the book. Ugh. Way too many and I found out how some of them crept in. My formatting program decided to do error corrections when I typed one thing and it thought I meant something else. Grrr. Auto correct is helpful until it isn’t. Anyway. I’ve gone through and cleaned it all up and republished it. I’ve ordered one book so I can check out whether more errors have crept in. Then I’ll order a bunch more for upcoming book events.

Giveaways:

The Valentine’s Day giveaway is now over and there are 45 prizes to give away and 45 books. The grand prize is $135 in Paypal cash. A winner’s list will be out soon, and I’ll let you know who’ve won my prizes.

The St. Patrick’s Day giveaway is now up. Here’s the link and I hope you get in on this fast. This one isn’t going to run very long. There are 38 prizes and 38 books to be given away and $114 in Paypal cash as the grand prize. https://conniesrandomthoughts.com/giveaways-and-prizes/

In the meantime, I’m in a promotion with 19 other women writers on Book Funnel. You can check out the books here. There are romances, mysteries, shifter stories and even a non-fiction. Don’t miss out. These are all free for a short time.

Where will I Be?:

If you are a fan of most any genre, I’m participating in an on-line cyber conference here: http://owscycon.ourwriteside.com/about-ows-cycon/. The event is May 17th through May 19th. There are discussion forums, author giveaways, and so much more. Check out the link and sign up to participate. Sign up also gets you news on what’s happening and when. So sign up today. You might just be the person we want to have in our panel discussion!

Phoenix Fan Fusion! Oh My Gosh! If you haven’t ever been to this event you need to check it out. The prices for entry are so reasonable! Three days is $75 at this point. The catalog of things to do is humongous! I’ll be down in Artists Alley, Four Carat Press, booths 930 and 932. Come check it out. If you’ve never been, it will blow your minds. It’s May 23 – 26th. Come see me!

The Payson Book Festival this year is going to be more exciting than last year. Mark your calendars for July 20th. Be in Payson for the book festival. Go to www.paysonbookfestival.org for all of the details!

Newsletter Sign Up:

Click here to sign up for my newsletter. I’ve put sign-up gifts on the regular and the SciFi/Fantasy and the Cozy Mystery 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:

The Slave Elf story released February 19th, 2019. It is finally up on all of my other retailers in ebook format. You can buy it at Amazon, Apple, 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 or BookBub. It’s critical to help me promote the books to other readers. Thanks in advance.

Thank you for reading my blog. Like all of the other work I do as an author, it takes time and money. If you enjoy this Monday blog and the Friday free story and the recipe I put up on the 25th of every month, consider donating to https://www.paypal.me/ConniesRandomThought. I appreciate any donation to help support this blog.

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The Home, Part 3: Flash Fiction Friday Post

See Part 2 here.

Morgue__Table_by_anaisroberts from Deposit Photos

The Home, Part 3

Ralph and Mike waved. I waved back.

In the doctor’s office the guard motioned me to sit down.

Jenkins nodded to me. “Mrs. Nathan.”

“Doctor.” He wasn’t too bad as the aliens went. At least he could speak clearly.

“You took a walk this afternoon.”

I waited. Let him ask me a question. I wasn’t going to give up anything I didn’t have to.

He fiddled with his pen.

If he thought I’d be uncomfortable with a long silence, he was wrong. I had been a counsellor and knew all the tricks of the trade. I folded my hands in my lap and waited in the blessed quiet.

The clock on the wall behind him ticked off the seconds. Loud in the quiet room.

“Why did you leave the dayroom, Laurie?”

Score one for me. He spoke first. And now he was trying the friendly familiarity tact. When I entered I was Mrs. Nathan. “What do you mean?” I put on an innocent face. I was having fun for a change.

“The staff tell me they found you in your room.”

I shrugged. “I don’t recall.”

He tapped his pen on the desk top and took a deep breath. “Now, Laurie. Let’s not be difficult. What’s the problem today? It’s not like you to be a trouble-maker.”

“I could use another blanket on my bed.” If I had to be in here, let’s see if I could get something out of it.”

“Perhaps you were confused?”

“I’m not confused. I’m old.”

Jenkins wrote a note in his book, glancing up at me as he wrote. “We’ll see about another blanket.”

Well! I was surprised at the quick capitulation. “Thank you.”

He nodded and checked his file. “You’ve been with us six months now. How are you enjoying your stay?”

I did my best not to grind my teeth. Enjoying my stay? Did he think this was a resort? “I’d rather be home.” Who knows. Maybe he’d listen.

“Hmmm.” He flipped though the file. “It says here you were having difficulty at home alone.”

“No. I wasn’t.”

It was his turn to shrug. “Your son thought so, Laurie. You were falling, unable to keep your home tidy.”

“That’s not a crime, last I knew.”

“But it is a health and safety issue. Your son was very worried about you.”

“So I can check out at any time?”

His head slowly shook. “I’m afraid not. Your son signed you in. Don’t you remember?”

I did remember. I was furious with Stan. I told him it was just a cold. I was fine but he insisted that I needed full-time care. I had been helpless because I’d made him my health proxy after my husband died. For just in case. Now I was here. “There’s nothing wrong with me.”

“You’re seventy-eight, Laurie. It’s time for you to relax and let others take care of you.”

“I can take care of myself.” I clenched my hands into fists. He didn’t answer and that made me even more furious.

“We can’t have you wandering around, Laurie. I think a few micrograms of benzodiazepine would be appropriate. To keep you calm.”

“I’m calm enough.”

Jenkins nodded but pushed a button on his phone. The door opened and the goon who’d dragged me in here came in and stood behind my chair.

“Carl. Please take Mrs. Nathan back to the dayroom. There’ll be a new prescription for her in the file.”

Carl, if that was its real name, put a hand on my shoulder. My skin crawled. The interview did not end the way I had hoped.

“Laurie, we’ll talk again.”

I snorted. Some talk. I stood up as Carl squeezed my shoulder. I jerked it away form him and marched out of the office ahead of the goon. I plopped into my chair. When the goon left, Edna, Ralph, and Mike leaned over to look at me.

“What happened,” Edna whispered just loud enough to be heard over the noise box.

“I lost. The so-called Doctor Jenkins prescribed something to keep me calm.”

Ralph looked horrified. Mike and Edna were concerned. “Oh, no,” Edan cried out.

I had my arms crossed in front of me to control my shaking. I didn’t want to end up like Ralph, drooling and mindless most of the day. “My own fault, walking in there with an attitude.”

Mike asked, “What did he say?”

“He said I can’t sign myself out, for one thing.” My knee started bouncing. “I was sick when my son signed me in. I’m fine now. I could go home.” The more I thought about it, the angrier I became. What was wrong with Stan, signing me into this pit?

Edna put a hand on my arm. “I’m so sorry, Laurie.”

I hated the comfort her hand on my arm gave me. I wanted to be angry. “Can you see that all of the staff are aliens?” I asked it suddenly. I wanted confirmation that they saw what I did.

All three of them looked around in alarm.

“Shh.” Mike put a finger over his lips. “They’ll hear!”

Ralph looked sick. I wondered if he was going to throw up.

“So you see it, too?”

They all nodded but were keeping their eyes down.

“We need to do something,” I said.

If anything, Ralph looked even more sick.

“Do what?” Edna asked. “We’re helpless in here.”

Mike and Ralph nodded.

“Crap!” I put a hand on my knee to keep it from jumping up and down. “The first thing we have to do is stop taking their miserable drugs. They’re making us stupid.”

Ralph brightened. He was always better in the afternoon. “How?”

I grinned at him. “I don’t know. They’re pretty diligent about making us swallow those pills.”

“We’d have to make sure we act as though we took them.” Edna stared at the ceiling.

“Docile.” Mike nodded. “Not too active.”

“But then what?” Ralph asked.

“We get out of here. I’ve had enough.”

All three nodded.

I sat back in my chair. We had a team. Now we needed a plan.

Return next week for Part 4.

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Errors in Books, My YouTube Channel, Book Festival: Monday Blog Post

Security concept. Laptop with exclamation mark on the display from Deposit Photos

Newest News:

Slave Elf. I had a reader contact me after getting my book. This person found several errors, just in the first chapter! After so many times through it myself, and two separate editors, still errors managed to stay hidden. Sigh. Luckily for me and for you, this is fixable! As an independent author, I’ll be correcting the errors found and get that reader a fresh copy. Hopefully error free. This isn’t the first time this has happened and won’t be the last. If you find an error in my books, let me know. They’re all fixable and I’d love to give you a replacement copy after you’ve been so kind as to let me know about those persistent little punctuation, grammar, spelling and spacing errors.

Cattle in the Arizona woods by Randy Cockrell

Do you all use YouTube? I have a channel which, up until a couple of weeks ago, hardly ever was viewed and only had six subscribers. Then, all of a sudden, people found a video I’d posted seven months ago called Monsters in the Woods. So far it has 13k+ views and I now have 222 subscribers. I’m flabbergasted. I just posted that as a bit of fun. Now, I guess, I know what attracts viewers. You can find my page here: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UC2rN2MWxDPLrI0bMv3vTKvg

The Payson Book Festival organizing is in full swing. All of the author tables are now occupied. All of the Fireside room speakers have been selected. We have new authors, new speakers, and more children’s activities than ever before. This year is going to be more exciting than last year. Mark your calendars for July 20th. Be in Payson for the book festival. www.paysonbookfestival.org for all of the details!

Giveaways:

The Valentine’s Day giveaway is now over and there are 45 prizes to give away and 45 books. The grand prize is $135 in Paypal cash. A winner’s list will be out soon, and I’ll let you know who’ve won my prizes.

The St. Patrick’s Day giveaway is now up. Here’s the link and I hope you get in on this fast. This one isn’t going to run very long.  https://conniesrandomthoughts.com/giveaways-and-prizes/

In the meantime, I’m in a promotion with 19 other women writers on Book Funnel. You can check out the books here. There are romances, mysteries, shifter stories and even a non-fiction. Don’t miss out. These are all free for a short time.

Where will I Be?:

If you are a fan of most any genre, I’m participating in an on-line cyber conference here: http://owscycon.ourwriteside.com/about-ows-cycon/. The event is May 17th through May 19th. There are discussion forums, author giveaways, and so much more. Check out the link and sign up to participate. Sign up also gets you news on what’s happening and when. So sign up today. You might just be the person we want to have in our panel discussion!

Phoenix Fan Fusion! Oh My Gosh! If you haven’t ever been to this event you need to check it out. The prices for entry are so reasonable! Three days is $75 at this point. The catalog of things to do is humongous! I’ll be down in Artists Alley, Four Carat Press, booths 930 and 932. Come check it out. If you’ve never been, it will blow your minds. It’s May 23 – 26th. Come see me!

Newsletter Sign Up:

Click here to sign up for my newsletter. I’ve put sign-up gifts on the regular and the SciFi/Fantasy and the Cozy Mystery 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:

The Slave Elf story released February 19th, 2019. It is finally up on all of my other retailers in ebook format. You can buy it at Amazon, Apple, 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 or BookBub. It’s critical to help me promote the books to other readers. Thanks in advance.

Thank you for reading my blog. Like all of the other work I do as an author, it takes time and money. If you enjoy this Monday blog and the Friday free story and the recipe I put up on the 25th of every month, consider donating to https://www.paypal.me/ConniesRandomThought. I appreciate any donation to help support this blog.

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The Home, Part 2: Flash Fiction Friday Post


Morgue__Table_by_anaisroberts.jpg from Deposit Photos

You can find Part 1 here.

The Home Part 2

After lunch was a dull time. They passed out tiny cups with pills. Designed to keep us quiet I thought. When I first arrived, I threw the pills at the four-armed jailers, but that just made them hold me down and force the pills into my mouth. Eventually I gave up resisting as a waste of time. I wasn’t even annoying them, and I hated being forced.

The screen blasted more depressing images. I’d like to read a book, in a quiet place, a view out of the window of a broad, green lawn, a pond or stream in the distance. Not going to happen. I’ve never even seen windows in this hell hole.

I thought about Ralph’s question at lunch. How did I get here? Is everything I remember a lie? No. Wait. I remembered the pudding from lunch. I could taste the rich chocolate. My husband died years ago. My son graduated from high school as valedictorian, from college as Magna cum Laude. He was a famous engineer, had a beautiful wife. Wait! I have tow grandsons, lovely boys, smart as whips. They were real, right? There were pictures in my cell of my boy and his family. Even of my husband and me at the beach. Right?

I began to panic. There were pictures, weren’t there? I wanted to get up and go check but the monsters didn’t like us to get out of our chairs. I looked around. The afternoon jailer was at a desk, pretending to do something. I really wanted to check for those pictures. Glancing at the monster, I got up.

Enda gasped, “Laura!”

“Shh!” I took one step. Then another. Ralph and Mike stared, open-mouthed. I went slowly down the row of captives. Each of them reacted to my escape with raised eyebrows, gasps, and even holding out their hands as though asking for help to go with me. I ignored them all and kept moving. As I cleared the end of the row, the last woman made a sound.

“Shhh,” I hissed at her.

She stared, wide-eyed as I checked the goon at the desk. It looked to me like it was asleep but who knew. As quietly as I could, I continued on to the door and slipped outside.

The hallway led to several so-called treatment rooms. Then a cross-corridor to the right which led to the rooms. That’s where I stopped and checked to the right. That direction was where the doctor’s offices were. I knew that because they took me down there once a week to talk to the doctors. If you could call it talking. Most of them spoke gibberish. They tried to speak English, but they weren’t any smarter than the gray-green horrors who tortured us every day.

It was against the rules to go down that hall without an escort. That’s because that was also the way out. I eyed the end of the hall. The security door was closed but through the window I could see the guard on-duty. It was talking to another one of the aliens. Good. It was busy and not looking in this direction. As fast as I could, I hurried to my room. It was down this hall, left into another corridor, and eight doors down on the left.

In some demented show of care, they made us create a picture that had our name on it to hang on the door. I smirked when I reached my door and saw it. I’d drawn myself, right middle finger up and a scowl on my face. Maybe the jailers knew what it meant, maybe not. I didn’t care.

Room. Hah. More like a cell. The single bed was hard and the blanket, thin. I hurried to my dresser. On top were my pictures. I picked up the one of me and my husband—yes, us at the beach, and gave a sigh of relief. I’d remembered correctly. Placing it back where it belonged, I looked at the other pictures of my son, his family. They were real. I wasn’t crazy.

The cell door opened. One of the guards stood there making disapproving noises. It grabbed me and strong-armed me back to the day room. After popping me into my chair, it went over to the room guard. Even though it was their language, I could tell it was getting chewed out.

“Oh, Laurie! That monster is going to have it out for you now.” Edna patted my arm. “What did you do?”

“It was worth it. I went to see the pictures on my dresser.”

Edna looked at me, her eyes wide. “What for?”

“To make sure I remembered them correctly.” I grinned. “I did. The monsters haven’t broken me yet.”

Edna shook her head. “What made you think that?”

“Ralph’s comments at lunch. You know. How did we get here? I was starting to think I was imagining my life before this hell hole.”

Edna patted my arm again. “I know. Some days I wonder if this had been my whole life.” She sighed. “Those are the bad days.”

I clasped her hand. “Tell me when you get those days. We’ll tell each other our stories.”

A tear glistened in her eye. “Thank you, Laurie. You’re a good friend.”

Two boring hours passed, the damn screen blaring inanities, when a guard appeared in front of me. “Doctor Jenkins wants to see you,” it said, nearly clearly.

“Fine.” I got out of the chair.

“Good luck,” Edna called out as I walked away.

The Home, Part 3 will appear next week.

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Read an EBook Week, Anniversary, Book Festival: Monday Blog Post

Newest News:

Hey! If you’re on Smashwords, and why wouldn’t you be? It’s Read an eBook week! I have several books on special. So hop on over there and not only check out my specials, but other, new to you, author specials as well. You’ll be glad you did. https://www.smashwords.com/shelves/promos/1/any/any or me at https://www.smashwords.com/profile/view/conniecockrell

Slave Elf still has a few copies up on Booksprout for an advanced reader copy (ARC) at https://booksprout.co/arc/10825/slave-elf. I do require at least one review. If you’d like to take part, check it out.

https://www.deviantart.com/kittykatofhyperness/art/Sapphire-71832070
https://www.deviantart.com/kittykatofhyperness/art/Sapphire-71832070

Friday is my anniversary. At this point, we have become a little blasé about it but it’s 44 years. We had to count it up. Our daughter asked us what “anniversary” this was, meaning, the gift. As in the first anniversary is paper. Turns out, not that we’ve ever participated in this particular ritual, at this level, only major points in the anniversary years get special attention. Turns out 44 is not one of them. But 45, next year, happens to be sapphire. Well, color me lucky. I love sapphire. I’ll be fortunate to get a blue anniversary card. That’s because we have never bought into expensive gifts. Except Christmas this last year when I broke down in tears trying to format a book and hubby bought me a Macintosh laptop and a copy of Vellum so I could easier format my books. This is why I love this guy.

The Payson Book Festival organizing is in full swing. All of the author tables are now occupied. All of the Fireside room speakers have been selected. We have new authors, new speakers, and more children’s activities than ever before. This year is going to be more exciting than last year. Mark your calendars for July 20th. Be in Payson for the book festival. www.paysonbookfestival.org for all of the details!

Giveaways:

The Valentine’s Day giveaway is now over and there are 45 prizes to give away and 45 books. The grand prize is $135 in Paypal cash. A winner’s list will be out soon, and I’ll let you know who’ve won my prizes.

A St. Patrick’s Day giveaway will run soon. Stay tuned for that or check out my giveaways page on my website.

In the meantime, I’m in a promotion with 19 other women writers on Book Funnel. You can check out the books here. There are romances, mysteries, shifter stories and even a non-fiction. Don’t miss out. These are all free for a short time.

Where will I Be?:

I went to the 2nd PEO International meeting in Goodyear, AZ this last weekend and had such a wonderful time! The people were so lovely, welcoming, and kind. I had a great presentation and sold so many books! Thank you PEO members. You are wonderful. I didn’t have a partner there to take pictures and no one has forwarded me any yet. But if you’d like to know more, search on PEO International at http://www.PEOInternational.org.

If you are a fan of most any genre, I’m participating in an on-line cyber conference here: http://owscycon.ourwriteside.com/about-ows-cycon/. The event is May 17th through May 19th. There are discussion forums, author giveaways, and so much more. Check out the link and sign up to participate. Sign up also gets you news on what’s happening and when. So sign up today. You might just be the person we want to have in our panel discussion!

Phoenix Fan Fusion! Oh My Gosh! If you haven’t ever been to this event you need to check it out. The prices for entry are so reasonable! Three days is $75 at this point. The catalog of things to do is humongous! I’ll be down in Artists Alley, Four Carat Press, booths 930 and 932. Come check it out. If you’ve never been, it will blow your minds. It’s May 23 – 26th. Come see me!

Newsletter Sign Up:

Click here to sign up for my newsletter. I’ve put sign-up gifts on the regular and the SciFi/Fantasy and the Cozy Mystery 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:

The Slave Elf story released February 19th, 2019. It is finally up on all of my other retailers in ebook format. You can buy it at Amazon, Apple, 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 or BookBub. It’s critical to help me promote the books to other readers. Thanks in advance.

Thank you for reading my blog. Like all of the other work I do as an author, it takes time and money. If you enjoy this Monday blog and the Friday free story and the recipe I put up on the 25th of every month, consider donating to https://www.paypal.me/ConniesRandomThought. I appreciate any donation to help support this blog.

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The Home, Part 1: Flash Fiction Friday Post

Morgue__Table_by_anaisroberts.jpg from Deposit Photos
Morgue__Table_by_anaisroberts.jpg from Deposit Photos

I wrote this for a project that fell through and I just felt that it shouldn’t go to waste. So here it is.

Part 1

“Let me go!” I yelled as the four-armed witch grabbed me up out of my chair. Anyway, I think it was a she, who could really tell? Its gray-green skin was paler than some of the others. She shoved me into today’s first torture of the day—the showers.

Today it was too hot. It was always blasting my skin. Tenderizing it I guess for the next step—squirting foul-smelling slime all over me, then sand-papering my whole body before re-blasting me with hot water.

The witch shoved me into a new prisoner’s smock and forced me back to my chair. My hair dripped water onto the smock. An unintentional torture, I think. They’d cut my hair nearly to the scalp when I’d first arrived. It still had enough length to hold water though. Now I could sit, shivering in this cold day-room until it dried.

At first I’d tried to ask for a blanket but I’d given up after several days. They chittered something that sounded like, “soon”, but it never happened. So now I just wrapped my arms around myself and shivered.

Next to me, Edna, who’d gone through her turn before me, leaned over. “Cold or hot?”

“Hot.”

“The witch used a brush on me.” Edna shook her head. “I’m surprised I have any skin left.”

I nodded. Like I said, a new torture every day. The current one was in front of us. A large screen showed pictures of death and destruction. The sound was too loud, and I couldn’t understand it. I think it was meant to demoralize us with the horrible pictures and the sound. It kept us from talking to each other—we couldn’t hear.

A new alien came by, one I hadn’t seen before, and wrapped a wide rope around my arm. I hated this. It began to swell up, tighter and tighter until I wanted to scream. I wouldn’t give these monsters the satisfaction. It chirped something at me—who could tell with the screen blasting—and took the rope away. It was Edna’s turn and like me, she wouldn’t give it the satisfaction. She rubbed her arm when it left.

“I don’t know what the purpose of that is. I mean, if they want to take off my arm, why don’t they just do it?” She sniffed and craned her head around to see her arm. “Look.” She pointed at her arm. “A big red spot. Like it started then changed its mind.”

“Monsters,” I said. I’d had those same spots on my arm.

We stared at the big screen in shared misery. Ralph, sitting beside Edna, was weeping while he mumbled to himself. He was here when I arrived. He sat with me and Edna at feeding time. Past Ralph was Michael. Mike didn’t ever say much. He was an old-timer here too. A few weeks ago, he’d started a riot in here. He struggled out of his chair and began yelling and throwing things.

It took three of the gray-skinned monsters to subdue him. Then they gave him a shot of something that knocked him out till the next morning. Now they gave him a pill that made him stare into space, drooling and glassy-eyed.

At feeding time the monsters walked us to what passed for a dining room. They slapped paper plates on the table in front of us. I sighed as I eyed the pasty-looking gray mass on the plate. Another torture.

I didn’t think these aliens were very smart. The slime on the plate looked something like real food but it tasted as bad as it looked, if it tasted like anything at all. I sighed and picked up my spoon. They didn’t provide forks or knives.

“I don’t know why I’m here,” Ralph said.

Edna and I stared. Even Mike turned to look.

“I mean, how did this happen?” His face was so sad, his eyes confused. “This isn’t what I expected.”

I nodded. “None of us did, Ralph.”

Even Michael nodded.

I ate a spoonful of the slop. Today it was tasteless. At the end of our dining experience, supposed pudding cups were passed around. When I opened it, it was brown. Supposed chocolate. About all I could say for it was that it was smooth. I remembered chocolate pudding from my childhood. Whole milk, hot, with real chocolate and cornstarch whisked into it. Then a dollop of real butter at the end with that rich smelling vanilla. I could have eaten the whole panful if momma would have let me. She always put plastic wrap over the top, right on the pudding, so it wouldn’t develop that thick skin.

I realized tears were running down my face and I wiped them away before the others saw. Especially the monsters. Never let them see you in pain, is what I always said.

Part 2 next week.

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Snowmageddon, Slave Elf Goes Live, Where I’ll Be: Monday Blog Post

Newest News:

Here in central Arizona, we’ve been in a battle with snow. It snowed last Monday, creating a mess and leaving behind snow covered roads. That’s all right. While this area isn’t used to snow, there is snow-clearing equipment and the snowfall was only a few inches. The weather cleared so that Tuesday and Wednesday, while slightly above freezing, let everyone shovel out. That didn’t prepare us for a massive snowstorm that hit on Thursday. It snowed non-stop all day and into the night at a record-breaking pace. Hubby and I shoveled the driveway 4 times on Thursday. No snowplows on our street at all. On Friday morning, another foot of snow was on the ground. Hubby gave up shoveling the whole driveway, just doing the half behind our Jeep. A plow came down our street once. On the side of the street where no one lives, left the half of the street where all the houses are, snowed in, and left. No plow on Saturday. A couple of my neighbors called in private snow-clearing, who shoveled them out to the half of a cleared street. On Sunday, still no plows, hubby and I shoveled a path across the snow-filled street to get to the open road. Temperatures are going up and there is significant melting, but it takes a long time to melt three feet of snow. Glad that’s over.

Slave Elf is released on Amazon in both ebook and paperback. It will release on Smashwords on the 28th. I still have a few copies up on Booksprout for an advanced reader copy (ARC) at https://booksprout.co/arc/10825/slave-elf. I do require at least one review. Only 13 copies available at my last check. I do have a 5-star review up on the ebook edition. Many thanks to Firefly Girl for the review!

The next project I have going is Gold Dreams. I went through the edits, and the story is looking pretty good! I need to get that formatted so the cover for it can be finished. Next week, though. I have to get Slave Elf onto Amazon this week!

Giveaways:

The Valentine’s day giveaway is now over and there are 45 prizes to give away and 45 books. The grand prize is $135 in Paypal cash. A winner’s list will be out soon, and I’ll let you know who won my prizes.

A St. Patrick’s Day giveaway will run soon. Stay tuned for that or check out my giveaways page on my website.

In the meantime, I’m in a promotion with 19 other women writers on Book Funnel. You can check out the books here. There are romances, mysteries, shifter stories and even a non-fiction. Don’t miss out. These are all free for a short time.

Where will I Be?:

I have a speaking engagement at the March 2nd PEO International meeting in Goodyear, AZ. See the above flyer for all of the information. You can find out more about PEO International at http://www.PEOInternational.org.

If you are a fan of most any genre, I’m participating in an on-line cyber conference here: http://owscycon.ourwriteside.com/about-ows-cycon/. The event is May 17th through May 19th. There are discussion forums, author giveaways, and so much more. Check out the link and sign up to participate. Sign up also gets you news on what’s happening and when. So sign up today. You might just be the person we want to have in our panel discussion!

Newsletter Sign Up:

Click here to sign up for my newsletter. I’ve put sign-up gifts on the regular and the SciFi/Fantasy and the Cozy Mystery 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:

The Gulliver Station ebook box set released July 30th, 2018. It is finally up on all of my other retailers in ebook format. You can buy it at Amazon, Apple, 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.

Thank you for reading my blog. Like all of the other work I do as an author, it takes time and money. If you enjoy this Monday blog and the Friday free story and the recipe I put up on the 25th of every month, consider donating to https://www.paypal.me/ConniesRandomThought. I appreciate any donation to help support this blog.

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Snowfall: Flash Fiction Friday Post

It started snowing at seven in the morning. By seven-thirty, it was coming down at about an inch an hour. Social media filled with pictures people took of the snow in their yards, their neighborhoods, their towns. No one had seen anything like it.

“It never snows this far south,” one woman said as she was interviewed by a local TV reporter. I don’t even have a snow shovel!”

Estelle turned the TV off. It was February. Why did they all panic at the sight of a snowflake. She got up and went to the kitchen to make some hot tea. Estelle had come from upstate New York. Snowfall of a foot or even two was pretty normal. It was just after noon and she’d already been out twice to shovel her short driveway and even shorter front walk.

Big improvement over New York, she thought as she waited for the electric kettle to bring the water to a boil. There it would have taken me two hours just to get the driveway cleared, let alone the walks and the decks. No, she decided. It is much better here.

Tea made, she took it into the living room and settled in under an afghan her mother had made for her and read a book. Three hours later, it was time to clear the driveway again.

She dressed lightly. Shoveling snow was a workout. Estelle grabbed the shovel out of the garage and began. It was wet and heavy, this late in the day, not like the fluffy, dry snow from the colder morning. Working steadily, she cleared the walk, then began the driveway. Halfway done she stopped to rest. The street where she lived was populated but no one was out. The snow was still falling at a fast clip, big, fat, wet flakes, drifting down, smothering all the sounds she normally heard in the area.

When she got to the street, she realized the city plows still hadn’t been through, no one had. She shook her head. What if one of the neighbors needed an ambulance. She glanced next door. Trudy Willa had been carried off by ambulance twice in the last year. There was no sign of Trudy or her husband, Dave. Obviously, they were going to wait to clear their drive. They always hired someone.

Estelle knocked the wet snow off of her shovel and got back to work. The cloudy day made nightfall that much sooner. She wanted to get this done and get back inside and make a little dinner. Spaghetti, she thought, with jarred sauce. That’ll be quick and easy. She stopped shoveling to move her shoulder around. It was hurting. No wonder, she thought. She hadn’t had to shovel snow in the six years she’d been here.

After two more shovelfuls, she stopped again. She was a little nauseous, too. Good thing she was going to make a quick dinner. Estelle looked around. The driveway was nearly done. Good. She shoveled more, tossing the snow as far as she could. This storm was supposed to last through tomorrow. She didn’t want the snow to pile up too much right next to the driveway. She rubbed her arm again. Going to have to do more arm work in the gym, she thought and went back to work.

She was close to being done and the daylight was fading fast. Just in time, she thought. She was ready for another hot cup of tea. That’s when the pain hit her in the chest, radiating out to her arms so hard and fast Estelle fell to her knees, the shovel falling from her hands. What the…, she thought as she gasped for breath. What was going on?

The pain wouldn’t stop. She wanted to get up, get inside, call someone, but she just couldn’t get her legs to move. Another sharp pain came washing through her. She fell over on her side, still gasping from the intensity of it. Get up, she told herself. You can’t lay on the driveway. You’ll freeze. But still, she couldn’t move. Estelle lay there, the snow drifting down on her. She concentrated on just breathing. Slow and steady, she thought, but any deep breath made her hurt even more.

Ridiculous. I’m not going to just lay out here. She tried to roll to her knees, but any movement just set off more chest pain. Heart attack, she thought. I’m having a heart attack. She lay her head on the cold, wet, cement of the driveway, her knees pulled up to her chest. She could feel the wet soaking into her jeans and the shivering start.

Gently. Very gently. Get inside and call the ambulance. You can do it. Don’t worry about how much it hurts. So slowly, very slowly, she rolled up, gasping with the pain and began to crawl to the garage door. It was fifteen feet away. You can do it, she told herself. This will teach you to carry the phone in your pocket. At ten feet from the open maw of the garage, she had to rest. Her knees were protesting the crawl on the hard cement. Shut up, she told them. We’ve got bigger problems. Ten feet, let’s go.

It was getting darker. The lights weren’t on. She hadn’t needed them when she’d first come outside. You can’t lay here, Estelle, she told herself. Get inside. Do it! She raised herself and crawled. Her gloves had soaked through and her hands felt like ice. Three feet from the edge of the door, her arms collapsed as another chest pain hit. She fell over and pulled her knees up to her chest, her head next to the wooden door frame. Please no, she thought. Not like this. Then she felt nothing.

Dave found her the next day when he took his fat little chihuahua for its walk—Estelle was a shapeless blob of snow near the open garage door, frozen.

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Washington’s Birthday, Slave Elf Goes Live!: Monday Blog Post

Newest News:

Happy Washington’s Birthday! This was President’s Day’s old name. I do hope everyone is having a wonderful three-day weekend and are safe out there whatever fun thing you’re doing.

Slave Elf is back, edited and the ebook versions ready to release on Amazon and Smashwords! I’m so excited about this release. Amazon releases tomorrow, the 19th and on Smashwords, the 28th. It is still on pre-order at Amazon and at Smashwords, if you want to be sure to get it now.

It’s also up on Booksprout for an advanced reader copy (ARC) at https://booksprout.co/arc/10825/slave-elf. I do require at least one review. Only 20 copies available.

The paperback version will be out as soon as the whole cover is completed. Maybe even tomorrow. So if you enjoy reading your books in paperback, it will be ready for you. And if you are a Dr. Who fan, check out my Slave Elf ad, (toward the bottom of the home page, in the middle set of ads). Starting Tuesday, the ad will say Released! instead of Coming Soon!

The next project I have going is Gold Dreams. I went through the edits, and the story is looking pretty good! I need to get that formatted so the cover for it can be finished. Next week, though. I have to get Slave Elf onto Amazon this week!

Giveaways:

The Valentine’s day giveaway is now over and there are 45 prizes to give away and 45 books. The grand prize is $135 in Paypal cash. A winner’s list will be out soon, and I’ll let you know who won my prizes.

A St. Patrick’s Day giveaway will run soon. Stay tuned for that or check out my giveaways page on my website.

In the meantime, I’m in a promotion with 19 other women writers on Book Funnel. You can check out the books here. There are romances, mysteries, shifter stories and even a non-fiction. Don’t miss out. These are all free for a short time.

Where will I be?:

I have a speaking engagement at the March 2nd PEO International meeting in Goodyear, AZ. See the above flyer for all of the information. You can find out more about PEO International at http://www.PEOInternational.org.

If you are a fan of most any genre, I’m participating in an on-line cyber conference here: http://owscycon.ourwriteside.com/about-ows-cycon/. The event is May 17th through May 19th. There are discussion forums, author giveaways, and so much more. Check out the link and sign up to participate. Sign up also gets you news on what’s happening and when. So sign up today. You might just be the person we want to have in our panel discussion!

Newsletter Sign Up:

Click here to sign up for my newsletter. I’ve put sign-up gifts on the regular and the SciFi/Fantasy and the Cozy Mystery 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:

The Gulliver Station ebook box set released July 30th, 2018. It is finally up on all of my other retailers in ebook format. You can buy it at Amazon, Apple, 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.

Thank you for reading my blog. Like all of the other work I do as an author, it takes time and money. If you enjoy this Monday blog and the Friday free story and the recipe I put up on the 25th of every month, consider donating to https://www.paypal.me/ConniesRandomThought. I appreciate any donation to help support this blog.

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The Juniper and the Pine: Flash Fiction Friday Post

Juniper Berries

The juniper sprouted. She saw immediately that the ground was soft and luxurious. The lives of others were in her roots and the water that came, funneled slow and steady to her roots. She reveled in her tiny sprout state. Hiding among the pine straw and the random vines, the tiny alligator juniper noticed a constant parade of creatures trampling the ground over and over just a short distance away. Still. Life is life and she did her mighty best to grow.

Years later, another sprout grew.

She was a bit concerned. It was close. A bit too close but still. The water flowed and the people, as she grew to name them, still passed by, never stopping to see them.

The sprout grew. A ponderosa pine. The little juniper trembled. Perhaps she should have made a fuss. Made the people trample the pine. Still. The pine was quiet. Not a fuss. The juniper trembled. There wasn’t a lot of room. What if the water dried up?

The water still flowed. Year after year. Some years it was pretty lean. The juniper dug her roots in. It was a pocket, she realized. Deep and full of many years growth of leaves. The ponderosa roots found the pocket as well. The pocket went deep. It was a crevasse in the cliff face. Their roots intertwined. They probed, deeper and deeper.

Over and over, the roots dug deep while the top grew tall. Just two feet apart, the trees grew.

Juniper led the way. Up and up. It was a miracle. There was a space in the canopy and the sun shone down. Juniper made it a race. She grew as fast as she could. Shade made by the juniper cut the chances of the other plants. All except the ponderosa. The ponderosa loved the shade. It made it strong.

Years passed. The juniper grew tall and strong. The ponderosa grew slow and steady. It took many years. People passed by. The trail became hard packed and deep. It was a long time but eventually the trail dropped to the roots of the two trees.

The juniper cried out each time her roots were trampled.

“Hush’, the ponderosa whispered. “Dig deeper. The humans tread just the top. We are stronger than that.”

“I need the surface roots,” she cried.

“Spread out, then,” the ponderosa said. It hugged his friend, sending root tendrils to her.

The roots spread. Each crack in the rock. Each small crevasse with decaying leaves was a chance for the juniper. The ponderosa followed its friend. The juniper struggled. Each human trampled its basic root. She wailed in pain. The ponderosa hugged its friend as best it could.

“Stay brave!” the ponderosa sent to its friend with its roots.

The juniper struggled. “Just a moment. Just a bit when no one is squashing me.

For the ponderosa, it waited. It grew. It soaked in the rich, soft mulch of the forest as it seeped down the cliff face to the roots of itself and its friend.

It took many years. The juniper and the ponderosa had grown many feet. The people began to move around them. That made them happy. The water still flowed down the cliff face. It still puddled in the space in their roots.

It took many years but eventually Ponderosa grew taller than its friend Juniper.

It was a pleasant life in their little canyon. The world around them changed, then changed again, then again. The air became cleaner, more people came, sometimes just to stand and stare. Houses were built right on the edge of the canyon but not within the canyon itself. Then, fewer people came. Fewer mechanical birds flew through the air. The land and water became cleaner. Juniper and Ponderosa wondered about it but were happy anyway.

Every day the trees enjoyed the sun or rain or snow in its proper seasons. The sumac came and went, short lived that they were. The same for the shrub oaks and the few maples that lived in the canyon.

Through it all the trees shared each other and the canyon. They were the longest-lived trees around. But it couldn’t last forever. Even the longest-lived trees must die eventually. Juniper, as the oldest, grew yellow on the few branches she had left. She’d seen a thousand years and even her love for Ponderosa couldn’t stop the march of time.

Ponderosa mourned Juniper, her rough trunk remaining just inches away. Gray, twisted, jagged, it reminded the Ponderosa of all of the storms the pair had withstood over the centuries. Then, the Ponderosa also began to fail. It took time to die but even the mighty tree had to pass. Their remaining branches, drying in the hot sun, remained intertwined, their trunks together.

Birds made hollows in the trunks to have babies. Woodpeckers came and drilled little holes to gather the insects that infested the dead wood. Moss grew in the shade, and lichen gathered in the wooden hollows. A different kind of life began in their remains as children of the trees grew around them.

Their deaths were not sad. They continued to bring life to the canyon and, they loved each other to the end.

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