Creating the Gift: Friday Flash Fiction Post

Blue Pottery Bowl by Connie Cockrell

Blue Pottery Bowl by Connie Cockrell

Emily Wu checked her bank statement and sighed. It wasn’t going to work, getting her mother a nice Christmas gift. She was sick of the TV talking heads telling everyone it was the economy. The economy seemed good for the rich. Why didn’t any of that trickle down to her? She closed the bank app on her computer and rubbed her eyes. Her $8.53 per hour job gave her just over $1700 a month. It wasn’t enough. With rent so high, she had to live at the edge of town which meant she needed a car to get to work. She needed nice clothes to be the receptionist at the office she worked at. Thrift stores helped with that, but then there was the medical insurance, poor as it was, it was at least something if she got sick. Then the life insurance, taxes, cell phone bill, internet, and on and on and on. She choked back a sob. All she wanted to do was buy her mom a nice Christmas gift.

At work the next day she was looking through the paper. A local artists group was doing a workshop for gifts. Anyone could come and create a project. At the bottom was the price for the workshop, $25, and a name, Brian Wellsley with his phone number. Emily sighed. Twenty-five dollars was a quarter of her grocery bill or half a tank of gas. She thought about it all day. Finally, deciding that she could live on rice and beans for a week, she called the number.

“Hi, I’m Emily Wu. I saw your article in the paper. I’d like to sign up.”

“Great. Love to have you.” He gave her the address and time and when they hung up, Emily smiled. He sounded nice. It would be good to do something besides watch TV in the evening.

The day of the workshop, Emily brought clothes to change into after work. No sense wasting gas by driving home then back into town. The address turned out to be an old factory, turned into artist workshops and apartments. She’d heard about these. It seemed cool. There were signs directing people to a large open space where wooden tables, easels, stools were scattered around the room. Art hung on the walls and from the ceiling. The splashes of color made the room seem friendly and alive.

She found an empty stool and sat down at a table, greeting others who had also signed up. Brian introduced himself and several other artists and that they’d be helping everyone with their projects. After going over the projects available, they broke into groups, each around the project they wanted to do. Emily had to switch tables. She wanted to work on a pottery project. She was pleased to see that Brian was the mentor for her group.

At every step of the process of molding the clay, shaping it, prepping it for the oven and decorating it, Brian was there. His hands over hers, laughing. They went out for coffee after class and talked about their dreams. After five weeks, the workshop was over. Emily had a bowl, glazed blue, for her mother. But she had received a gift, too. New friends, a new-found passion and a new love.

They went out nearly every night. He spent the weekends at her house. By Christmas, he was invited to meet her family. Her mother loved the bowl. Even better, in the kitchen, she complemented Emily on Brian. “He’s a lovely young man, Emily.” She gave Emily a hug. “I’m happy for you.”

The next spring, they were married. One afternoon, Emily was looking at her bank statement. She played with the ring on her finger. The statement didn’t look any better but she no longer fretted. Her life was now full. Happiness covered everything and she felt rich beyond measure. Brian came into the room and gave her a kiss on top of her head.

“We still solvent?”

“Barely.” She laughed and turned off the computer. “And that’s enough for me.”


Thank You!

677 Words

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Flash Fiction Friday Story: Love at the End

Roses by Randy Cockrell

Roses by Randy Cockrell

Elle Jeffers sighed. The next parent in line with his four-year-old daughter was Drew Penn, a widowed, single father. He snapped the fingers of his right hand as he held his daughter, Penelope’s hand, with his left. A sign of impatience, Elle knew from experience.

“Mr. Penn,” she nodded. She smiled at the girl. “Penelope, good to see you today.”

“It has taken four minutes and thirty-seven seconds, Ms. Jeffers.”

“I apologize, Mr. Penn. The parent in front of you had several instructions for us today.”

“Humph.” He checked his watch. “They should have instructions in writing.” He handed her a manila envelope. “Penelope requires this medication at precisely ten this morning and two this afternoon for a slight ear infection.”

Elle took the envelope. “Thank you, Mr. Penn. Efficient as always.” She signaled to a teacher. “Ms. Joanna will take you to your classroom, Penelope.” She handed the envelope to Joanna and smiled at the girl. “We’ll take care of it, Mr. Penn.”

The look he gave her indicated that he had reservations about that, but he nodded and said, “This afternoon, Ms. Jeffers. Five-thirty p.m. on the dot.”

“Yes, Mr. Penn.” She sighed with relief as he left and greeted the next parent and child.

“I think he’s warming up to you, Elle.” Joanna poured herself a cup of coffee mid-afternoon.

Elle sat at the break-room table, flipping through a child care magazine while on her break. “Who?”

“Penelope’s dad, Drew Penn.” Joanna sat next to Elle.

“Why on earth do you say that?” Elle looked at Joanna, an eyebrow raised.

“He smiled at you this morning. First time in the year he’s brought Penelope here that he’s done that.”

Elle snorted. “I think not. He still snaps his fingers. As though I’m a badly written computer program he wants to rewrite. He’s a programmer. People skills are not his strong suit.”

“Penelope adores him. She’s always talking about what he does and says.”

“She’s a doll.” Elle’d always felt bad for Penelope, having such a stiff father.

“Even so,” Joanna grinned. “I heard him say thank you this morning.”

“I didn’t notice.” Elle was having none of it. Her relationship with Jack was falling apart after two years of dating. He was too erratic, always quitting one job just to get another because he didn’t like the boss, or the working conditions, or the decor. It made their living arrangement precarious. She never knew if he’d have his share of the rent and utilities or not.

Joanna sipped her coffee. “If you say so.”

At five-thirty, Drew Penn was at the counter. Elle smiled. “Good evening, Mr. Penn.” She turned to look down the hall. “Here’s Penelope.”

The girl left Joanna’s hand and raced to her father. “We did finger-painting today!”

Elle watched as he took the paper, still damp, and examined it. “Good use of color, Penelope.” She realized that he did that every evening. While he wasn’t a big hugger, it seemed the two of them were close. She increased her regard of him. “We’re having a purple clothing day tomorrow, Mr. Penn. We’re all going to wear purple.”

He took his daughter’s hand. “I’ll endeavor to find a suitable garment.” Drew turned and led his daughter out.

The next day, Elle greeted Penelope. “What a charming blouse, Penelope.”

The girl grinned, running her hand down the lavender frilly top. “Papa bought it for me last night.”

“Oh, Mr. Penn. That wasn’t necessary. We didn’t expect parents to go to any extra expense. We have things here for any child that forgot to wear purple.”

“Instruction was given, Ms. Jeffers. We always follow directions.”

She smiled at him. “That was very considerate of you, Mr. Penn. Thank you.” She saw his eyebrow twitch.

“You’re welcome.” He turned and walked out.

So it went, week after week. By the end of the second year, his stiffness had lessened. At drop off, he asked Elle, “Would you be available for brunch on Sunday morning?”

Elle blinked. They had been friendlier over the year, but this surprised her. She hesitated.

“I’m sorry,” he said. “I’ve overstepped my bounds. You have a boyfriend.”

She could feel a blush rising. “No. No, I don’t. I’d love to have brunch on Sunday.”

Joanna took Penelope’s hand and with her back to Drew Penn, winked at Elle. Elle’s blush rose.

“We’ll see you at the Park Restaurant, then, eleven am, Sunday.” He nodded and left the building.

She fidgeted in her car in the restaurant parking lot on Sunday. The invitation was a little formal and he didn’t offer to pick her up. That keeps things simple, she thought as she checked her makeup in the rear-view mirror. She took a breath and went inside. By the end of the meal, she realized she’d had a good time. Penelope was her usual charming self and, it turned out that Drew Penn had a dry, sharp wit. Elle appreciated the upgrade from her old boyfriend.

A year later, she tossed her wedding bouquet to a crowd of bridesmaids and girlfriends. “What did I tell you two years ago,” Joanna said after the bouquet toss. She gave Elle a hug. “I told you he was interested.”

“Yes, you did.” Elle wrapped an arm around her friend’s waist. “It wasn’t love at first sight, though. He was so prickly.”

“I’m happy for you, El. I wish you a wonderful life.”

Elle nodded. Now she knew him better, she understood. He cared deeply, so appeared stiff and standoffish to those he didn’t know. She loved him and Penelope with her whole heart. It was going to be a great life and she couldn’t wait to get started.


The End

951 Words

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Monday Blog Post: Spotlight on Selena Laurance’s New Book: Lush Reunion

Book, Release, a lush reunion, Selena Laurencea lush reunion by Selena Laurence

Every once in awhile I like to point out a friend’s new release. Today is release day for Best Selling Author, Selena Laurence’s newest book, Lush Reunion. I received this contemporary romance book as an ARC, a sample copy. The final book in the Lush series ties up the saga with a gigantic bow.

This story revolves around Colin, bass player for the band, Lush, and his long, lost high-school sweetheart, Marsha. The opening prologue sets the scene perfectly and introduces us to Marsha Lynn, Colin’s lost love. After that, the love, the hurt, and the pain ebb and flow in a way that Ms. Laurence has mastered. Sparks fly and tears flow in a fast paced book that I defy you to put down.

There were a number of twists and turns, that to be honest, I never saw coming. If you’re looking for your next beach read, this is the story for you. All of the characters were as real as the people in my own life. Grab this book as soon as you can.

On June 23rd I was happy to be interviewed by January Jones on her web radio broadcast. Talk4 Media, ,  This is a first for me and I’m very excited about it. We talked about my books but also about the Payson Book Festival scheduled for July 25th. I was on the show at 5pm Eastern time and 2pm Arizona time. Here’s the list of who else was interviewed.

Connie Cockrell– Her books, The Gulliver Station Series, and more run the gamut from SciFi and Fantasy to Contemporary.

D’Elen McClain- Under her pen name, Holly S. Roberts, she is the USA Today Best-Selling author and writes “romance with wicked intentions.”

Then at 6pm Florida time and 3pm Arizona time, three more authors were interviewed.

Steven Andrew Cole– enjoys leading his readers down dark alleys, through crawl spaces and anywhere they dare not to venture with thrillers

Sherry Engler– reveals the unusual, quirky behaviors a LEO (Law Enforcement Officer) may display

Annemarie Eveland writes about challenges in life and the insights gained from them.

If you missed them go here to get the links.

It’s 26 days until the first ever Payson Book Festival. We’ve organized several radio interviews with festival authors. Check out the web site or our Facebook page (Payson Book Festival) or our Twitter feed at @PaysonBookFest for information about the next interview. At the Festival we’ll have authors speaking, authors signing their books, music, live radio broadcast, entertainment, workshops and food. Make plans now to come up to Rim Country and enjoy the festival.

Mystery at the Fair edits are in their final rounds. All that’s about left is to do the book formatting for both print and e-book. I’m still shooting for an early July release.

Squash, Melon, Garden, Connie Cockrell

Squash and Melon by Connie Cockrell

In the garden I have acquired zucchini and yellow squash and planted butternut squash and Swiss Chard. Saturday the butternut squash poked its first leaves up. The Swiss Chard still must be thinking about it. The plant next to the butternut squash is a self-seeding melon. It produces little, one-person cantaloupes. It seems to be doing very well, yay!

Thanks for stopping by my blog today.

If you’re interested, click here to sign up for my newsletter. I make special offers to my newsletter people that I do not make on the website.

Lost Rainbows released January 25th! I’m pretty excited about it. You can buy it and my other books at: Apple, Amazon, Barnes and Noble, Kobo, or Smashwords today! If you’ve read any of my books, please drop a review on the site where you bought it. It’s a big help to me in the book rankings each vendor uses to promote their books. Thanks in advance.

Special Post: Shauna Allen’s Release Day for Torque

One of the things authors do for other authors is give them a hand when their new book is released. Quite a few of my friends and family are Romance readers so this is for you. Shauna’s book torque is part of the Jack’em Up series. I’m sure you’ll love it. Here are some words from Shauna Allen.

It’s here! Torque, Shauna Allen’s newest novel in her Jack ‘Em Up series is now available for purchase!

Genre: Contemporary Romance

torque cover

torque cover

Torque blurb:

The darkness that fills him . . . the pain . . . they call to me.

I see so much more than his crime, his past, his demons.

I see the promise . . . the man who fills all the empty spaces inside me.

I’m not the perfect, untouchable girl he thinks I am. I’m just dirty enough to take what I want.



I could never deserve her.

She is the light . . . the sun, the moon, a billion stars.

She gives me hope.

But hope is a dangerous thing for a criminal like me.

I am hopeless.

Infinitely flawed.


We are more than opposites.

We are the dangerously perfect collision of dark and light and pain.

Available now!

Buy at Amazon:

Buy at Barnes & Noble:

Buy at iTunes:

Buy at Kobo:

Buy at Google Play:

Buy at All Romance

Buy at Createspace:


Did she honestly have no idea how close I was to saying ‘fuck it’ and throwing her down on her dining room table to taste her for the first time?

“Jesse . . .”

I waited, not sure I trusted myself to speak. I may be well read and reasonably intelligent, but right now I was practically drunk and stupid on her scent.

“What’s going on here, Jesse?” Her voice was rough and whisper soft.

Tread carefully, man. “Nothing. You’re hiring me to fix your bike—”

“That’s not what I meant and you know it.”

I sighed and ran a hand through my hair. “I know.”


I met her fierce gaze. “And I’m a felon, Rachel.” I would not voice the rest. Never. That was enough.

“So? You served your sentence.”

Ha. “I’m on parole for the next year. I’m not a normal guy who can just . . .”

“Just what? Spit it out, Joyner!”

That fine tether of control snapped deep inside me. Without another thought, I prowled toward her, intent on showing her just how she needed to stay away from me.

Her eyes widened, and with each step I took in her direction, she backed up one until I had her against the wall, our chests mere inches from each other. I brushed a wayward curl from her face, where it stuck to her lip.

Her eyes stayed pinned to mine. Wide, observant, but not scared. “Say it,” she pleaded.

“I can’t want you like this, Rachel. You need to stay away from me. I’m no good for you.”

Her breath heaved in and out, making her chest brush mine, as we stared each other down.

Seconds ticked by. She licked her lips. I thought I’d implode.

“Why don’t you let me decide what’s good for me?”

Then she tugged my head down and her mouth was on mine. Her tongue brushed my lips and I couldn’t help my moan as I gave myself over to her completely. It was my first taste of paradise. Dark and sweet and dangerously perfect.



Shauna Allen

Shauna Allen

Shauna grew up an only child with two open and loving parents in Central Texas. She’s married to her high school sweetheart and is the mother to three awesome teenagers, including one she’s about to send off to the Air Force. She is the award-winning author of the Cupid Chronicles series, including Charlie’s Angel and Cupid’s Last Stand. Shauna also writes emotional Contemporary YA novels as SC Montgomery, works as a freelance editor, and is personal assistant to two NYT Bestselling authors. She loves all things sexy, sassy, and Gerard Butler.

Shauna would love for you to visit her at her website and blog at:





You can also sign up for all the latest Shauna Allen news with her Angel Kisses Newsletter here!

And please learn more about her YA alter-ego at:


Praise for Shauna Allen’s Crank:

Shauna gives you believable characters that you will fall in love with, she has wonderful supporting characters with feeling that you feel throughout the read. She gives you a wonderful compelling story that will stay with you long after you turn the last page.

Cyn’s Reviews

What an AWESOME book! Shauna writes with such emotion that will make you laugh and cry.

Gail, a Goodreads Reviewer

AMAZING – there is no other word for this book and series!!! Torque has so much emotion in it – you laugh, cry and cheer.

Nancy, a Goodreads Reviewer

Shauna Allen is a master of grabbing your heartstrings from the very first page and not letting go until the end.

Anna, a Goodreads Reviewer


Flash Fiction Friday: Cat’s Eyes

Green, AnatemaDevice,

Green by AnatemaDevice via

Tatiyana Borisov kept her head and eyes downcast, her long brown hair fell across her face, hiding her. Even so, as she approached the well in the square, a rock whistled past her head. She flinched but kept moving. Her mother had sent her for water and she was determined to get it, despite the hatred of the village.

As she pulled the rope to bring up the bucket, she saw the priest appear at the top of the church steps. The whispered curses subsided, but Tatiyana knew the good people of the village were making warding signs behind her back. With the priest there, the people would do nothing more. That didn’t make the priest a friend. She could see the man glaring at her, hands tucked up into the wide sleeves of his brown wool cassock. The sun glinted off of the polished silver cross he wore upon his chest.

She poured the water from the well bucket into her own then lowered it again to fill her second bucket. Her mother told her that the priest had come while the midwives were still at her birth. Her green eyes had caused the midwives to gasp when she opened them. A woman was sent to get the priest. He’d come, laid the cross against her new skin and when nothing happened, she was allowed to live. Her mother had told her they expected the silver to burn her. Kill her even.

Tatiana shook her head at the memory of her mother’s story. Her mother had been a bride from far away, so far that her eyes slanted. That caused some trouble in the town but not much, at least as long as her husband, Tatiyana’s father had lived. Now though, the mother and the daughter were shunned, though expected to appear in church every Sunday and Holy Day. She poured the water into the second bucket, secured the well and picked up the water to take home.

Her monthly cycle had come two weeks ago. Her mother had baked her a special cake and they’d spent the day on a picnic while she explained how to be a woman. Tatiyana had been told that her mother planned to take her back to her own land, now that her father was dead. There, no one had prejudices against slanted or green eyes. There would be many men there who found a green-eyed woman a treasure and a prize.

The priest went back into the church as Tatiyana turned to leave. A rock hit her square in the back. She fell, landed hard on her knees, water splashing over her. Behind her, gales of laughter came, male voices, boys. A woman yelled, “That’s what you deserve, witch.”

The pain in her back and the pain in her knees met in her chest and before Tatiyana knew what was happening, she was on her feet and spun around to face her attackers. Fury drove her, and fear. She flung out her hand and pointed at the boys. The middle boy, Bruno, a little older than her, black hair falling over his right eye, fell to his knees, his hands over his stomach and began to scream. The rest of the people in the square stared between the boy and her. Tatiyana could hear the blood rushing in her ears. She dropped her hand, unsure if she was the cause of the boy’s pain or if it was something he was doing.

He sat back on his heels, gasping for breath. His friends tried to get him to stand but he pushed them away. “Witch!” he yelled at her. “Witch!”

Tatiyana turned and ran. At her house, she slammed the door open. “Mother!”

Zara Borisov was at the table, making bread, flour covered her hands. She looked up with surprise. “What is it?”

“Something happened at the well. I think I hurt Bruno Kosov.”

Her mother dusted her hands off and wiped them on her apron as she hurried around the table. She took her daughter by the shoulders. “What happened?”

Tatiyana told her mother everything. “Then, I just pointed at him. He was screaming in pain.”

“You didn’t throw a rock? Hit him?”

Tatiyana’s green eyes were filled with tears. “No, I just pointed at him. He was screaming Witch, Witch!”

Zara’s eyebrows drew together in thought. “There is no such thing as witches.” Through the open door, they could hear a mob coming. “Get out to the barn.” Zara pushed her toward the back door. “Stay there until I come for you.”

It was too late, the priest, at the head of the mob, already filled the doorway. “Tatiyana Borisov, You have been accused of witchcraft.” His deep booming voice filled the small house.

Tatiyana clenched her fists. She didn’t do anything.

“Nonsense,” Zara said, pulling herself up to her full five foot two. She stood in front of the priest. “Who accuses?”

The priest pulled Bruno around from behind him. “Here is the accuser.”

Zara looked into the boy’s brown eyes. “Tell the truth boy. Why did you scream when Tatiyana pointed at you?”

His eyes swept past Zara to stare at Tatiyana. “She did…”

“Nothing.” Zara interjected. “You’ve been hanging around for months, watching Tatiyana.”

He began to blush. “No, no, I, I, uh, …”

The priest glared at the boy. “You are looking for attention? Witchcraft is a serious charge. You want the girl to be burned?”

“No, Father,” Bruno stammered. “I just, it was just a prank. So she’d notice me.”

The priest took the boy by the back of the collar. “You hit her with a rock.”

“Yes, yes, Father.”

“Bah!” The priest dropped the boy and stormed out of the house. The mob grumbled but left.

“Get out,” Zara pointed him to the door.

He stared at Tatiyana then left.

Zora went back to the bread.

Tatiyana watched him until he rounded the corner. Her back and knees still hurt. She closed the door.


The End

1000 Words

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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

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Challenge The Spy/Bride Post

P1010937-1000x750 RAF Chicksands Priory by SBuxton

P1010937-1000×750 RAF Chicksands Priory by SBuxton

Here’s the deal. I was informed of this cool web site: (   and a challenge they are running. Here’s their challenge:

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

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

So, really, how can I go wrong?

Here’s the post.

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

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

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

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

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

In other news:

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

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

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

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

Thanks for stopping by my blog today.

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

First Encounter: a Brown Rain Story released September 18th! I’m pretty excited about it. You can buy it and my other books at: Apple, Amazon, Barnes and Noble, Kobo, or Smashwords today!

Blog spot for Debra Kayn’s Grasping for Freedom

 GraspingForFreedom - 500x
In Debra Kayn’s newest biker romance novel, Sergeant at Arms of Bantorus MC, Torque Kendler fights to keep his past hidden, while protecting the one woman who’s capable of bringing chaos down on Pitnam out of desperation and love.
Torque Kendler, Sergeant at Arms of the Bantorus Motorcycle club, tenaciously safeguards his marked past. Shot twice by Los Li and nearly killed last year, he wants to hold on to the familiar and retain his freedom. However, there are too many changes happening in Pitnam for him to trust anyone…especially the new chick managing the bar that’s giving him attitude and consuming his thoughts.
Sent by Los Li to work at a biker bar called Cactus Cove, Brandy Haas expects to get the information she came for and save her dad from the Mexican mafia. Worried about her dad, struggling at her job, and scared of failing again, she adds to her problems by lusting after the most dangerous biker in the MC. One biker, one hothead, one wonderful gift Torque unknowingly gives her could destroy everything she’s trying to protect.
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Living with the Road

Georgia AT Hike0006

Eddie sat in the molded orange plastic chair. He pulled out his netbook and logged into the Laundromat’s WiFi. He only came into Bland every 7 or 8 days. This was his chance to check email for messages from his mom and dad and the few people he still kept in touch with.

Bland, Virginia, wasn’t much, a wide spot at the intersection of I71 and State Highway 52. The post office, small grocery, Laundromat and tiny hiker store supported the hikers going to the Appalachian Trail through the local Blue Ridge Mountains.

The email from his mother was upbeat. Everyone and everything was fine. Did he want anything sent?

The only other email was from Vickie. He remembered hiking with her along the Appalachian Trail the year he left the Army. Three months after his discharge, the idea of walking 2300 miles through the quiet of the woods sounded like the thing to do. He spent the last of his saved pay on backpacking gear and headed for the southern terminus of the trail, Dahlonega, Georgia.

It was tougher than boot camp and Afghanistan combined, minus the shooting. He caught up to Vickie, trail name, Mountain Mama, in North Carolina. She didn’t talk much and was easy to talk to. He camped in his own tent. His nightmares didn’t allow him in the close confines of the shelters found along the trail.

Four months later, in Millinocket, Maine, they traded emails. She went back to her family’s farm in Vermont. He went back to his parents. That last month at home with his parents was awful. He couldn’t sleep, nightmares about Afghanistan kept him a nervous wreck. They wanted him to see a shrink, take drugs. Eddie couldn’t do it. The first trip to the VA shrink was his last. The wrecks wandering the halls of the hospital were more than he could take. He told them he had to get away for longer.

Now he camped along the trail, moving from shelter to shelter every few days to keep the Trail Runners happy. They didn’t want people setting up permanent home in any shelter. It was fine by him. He could talk to the day hikers about his through hike. He could talk to through hikers about what they’d find up ahead. He could sit in the quiet of the woods and listen to the birds and watch the deer pass by. It was enough. Until now.

Vickie was going to the hiker festival, Trail Days, in Damascus, Virginia. Did he want to meet there? He looked at the date on the computer. The festival was two days away. No way he could hike halfway down Virginia in two days. He wanted to see her again. He hadn’t had a nightmare in three months. Without thinking he hit reply and typed, “Would love to meet up. Same campground. See you there,” and hit send. He wondered afterward what he was thinking. He hadn’t had a car since he started camping here a year ago. He finished his laundry and hitched a ride back up highway 52 to the trailhead. It took four hours to hike to his tent. He stuffed it all in his pack and headed back down the mountain. It was 6pm when he got back to the highway and stuck out his thumb.

A guy heading south picked him up. “I’m going to Broadford, you goin’ that far?” he asked the driver.

“Sure. Hop in.” The driver saw a thin, dirty, long-haired, bearded guy as they headed down the highway. “Been living rough for awhile?”

Eddie nodded. “Been backpacking. There’s a hiker festival in Damascus I’m going to.”

The driver nodded. “Big adventure. I always wanted to do something like that, but, you know. Wife, kids, job. There’s never any time.”

Eddie nodded. He heard that a lot from the weekend hikers. The guy let him off at a small truck stop. “Good luck, getting to Damascus.”

Luckily a trucker was headed down 91, the Saltville Highway. He looked Eddie over before he decided. “You ain’t no junkie are ya?”

“No, sir. Hiker, headed to Damascus.”

“I can drop you at Glade Spring.”

“I’ll take it.”

They left the truck stop at 10pm. The trucker turned on his Sirius radio and they listened to classic country until he reached Glade Spring. It was late when the trucker pulled into a gas station there. “Stay out of trouble, son.” He advised.

“Yes, sir.” Eddie dragged his pack down. “Thank you for the ride.”

It was too late to hitch. There was hardly any traffic on the road. He found a patch of woods and set up a camp. The next morning he was on highway 609, headed for Abingdon. He slid his pack on his back and started walking. It was mid-morning before he caught a break. “Where ya heading?” the young guy asked. Eddie hesitated. The car reeked of pot. “Abingdon.”

“Yeah, I’m going there. Get in.”

He decided the short ride was worth the risk and tossed his pack in the back seat. They no more than started when the guy offered Eddie a joint.

“Thanks, man, but, I’m allergic.”

The driver stared. “No shit, man. That sucks.” He lit up anyway.

Eddie rolled the window down a little, letting some of the warm May air into the car. The driver cranked the radio up on some headbanger station. By the time they got to Abingdon, Eddie had a headache. “Thanks man,” he told the driver when he left the car.

“No problem.”

In Abingdon, Eddie caught the hiker shuttle to Damascus. They dropped him at the huge campground southeast of town where most of the hikers stayed. He hurried to his old spot. Vickie recognized him immediately. “War Dog!” she yelled and ran right to him. She gave him a bear hug then looked him over. “You’re not eating enough. Come on over, I’ve got stew.”

Eddie felt like he’d come home.

The End

999 Words

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