Gardening, Writing To-Do List, Winners: Monday Blog Post

Newest News:

Gardening. It’s already started for me. For one thing, I had to trim all of my rose bushes. That was a chore that took 4 days. Now I’m cleaning up all of the cut rose canes. Also, my peach and nectarine trees are in bloom. Also in bloom is the rosemary that’s planted between them. The pink flowers on the trees and the blue flowers of the rosemary look very nice together. Also this weekend I stuck fertilizer stakes into the ground for the fruit trees. Finally, I planted potatoes in my new deep raised bed and lettuces and spring onions in one of the shallow beds. So this last week was very productive in the garden.

I spent some time this last weekend making a writing to-do list. I have lots of projects in the works. One is to get my paperback Gulliver Station box set formatted. This will take some time in the Vellum program and on the Apple laptop. I’m not very experience with either so this is a bit of a challenge. Part of that box set is a new cover to accommodate the bigger book. Also on the list, reformatting First Encounters, The Downtrodden and Kindred Spirits to match Tested. These have the new covers, I just want the interiors to all match as well. More time in Vellum and on the Apple laptop. By the time I finish with all of that, I should be pretty competent. Then there’s Gold Dreams. I’d like that out soon to be ready for the Payson Book Festival in July. Actually, I’d like all of the above to be available for the book festival. I’d better spend less time scrolling aimlessly through Facebook.

Giveaways:

Winners in my Valentine’s Day giveaway were Padraig Ohiceadha, from Ireland and Jose Rosado from Portugal. Both of these people have followed me for a long time and I’m glad they won some 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 https://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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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 https://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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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 https://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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Slave Elf, Promos, Speaking Engagement: Monday Blog Post


Newest News:

Slave Elf is with my editor in a third round and I should have it back today! I’m so excited about this release. The story is now way more powerful than the serialized version. If you’re excited about the new version, I have it on pre-order at Amazon and at Smashwords.

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 open and there are 45 prizes to give away and 45 books. The grand prize is $135 in Paypal cash. What are you waiting for? Click here to find the free Rafflecopter.  Please note, we are asking for you to sign up for newsletters and such. We’ve had some authors get very rude emails from people who knew the rules of the giveaway and decided to be trolls about it when they received a newsletter. No one needs that kind of negativity.

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 PEOInternational.org.

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 https://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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Quartz: Part 13 – Flash Fiction Friday Post

See Part 1 Here.

It was two months later that her parents arrived by stage. Mary met them at the hotel then brought them by Mrs. Estrada’s carriage to Mrs. Estrada’s. Three days later, the entire town turned out to Mrs. Estrada’s for the wedding.

“What changed your mind, child?” Mrs. Estrada asked in a quiet moment in Mary’s room.

“He told me how he felt.” Mary wiped tears from her eyes. “He’s a good man, Cassie.”

“I know he is, chick.”

“He hates the killing. He blames the gold.”

Cassie Estrada nodded. “I understand. But between you and Mr. Talbot?”

Mary chuckled. “I would never. Mr. Talbot was being polite. So was I. He’s a gambler. There would never be anything.”

“Would Zeke know that?”

Mary sighed. “I’m sorry for that. But Zeke was reluctant, I think. Never thinking he was good enough. He needed to feel that he’d won.”

Mrs. Estrada shrugged. “A close thing, that kind of game. You could have lost.”

“I know.” Mary wiped an eye. “It was close. But Zeke needed a push.”

That afternoon the local preacher married them in Mrs. Estrada’s flower garden. The party went on long into the night.

Two days later, Mary and Zeke waved her parents off on the stage back to Santa Rosa.

Zeke wrapped Mary’s arm in his. “The bank transfer is complete. Are we agreed on San Francisco?”

Mary smiled up at him. “I am. That’s where we need to be, Zeke. A nice ranch outside of the city. It’s green and full of water there.”

Zeke grinned back. “Yes. We’ll raise fine horses there.”

“And children!” Mary punched him lightly in the arm.

“And children.” He laughed and held Diva’s head while Mary mounted. Yes. California. Well away from the gold dreams. That’s what he wanted.

End.

Words: 299

Thank you for reading this serial. I hope you liked it. By now it should be available as a paperback and ebook at the on-line bookstores of your choice.

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Slave Elf, Promos, Speaking Engagement: Monday Blog Post

Newest News:

Slave Elf is with my editor in a third round. I’m so excited about this release. The story is now way more powerful than the serialized version. If you’re excited about the new version, I have it on pre-order at Amazon and at Smashwords.

The next project is to start going over the edits for Gold Dreams. I have several people telling me that they are very interested in my Western story.

Then, to all of my Jean Hays cozy mystery series, you’ve waited long enough. I’m pulling that project together. I had some good suggestions and reviews of it over on https://www.inkshares.com/books/mystery-at-the-reunion. So if you can’t wait, check it out!

Giveaways:

The Valentine’s day giveaway is open and there are 45 prizes to give away and 45 books. The grand prize is $135 in Paypal cash. What are you waiting for? Click here to find the free Rafflecopter.  Please note, we are asking for you to sign up for newsletters and such. We’ve had some authors get very rude emails from people who knew the rules of the giveaway and decided to be trolls about it when they received a newsletter. No one needs that kind of negativity.

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 PEOInternational.org.

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.

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Quartz: Part 12 – Flash Fiction Friday Post

See Part 1 Here.

Adding to his misery, he’d left the bodies where they were and left Woolsey and Brokaw to their own devices as he hid in his tent for the rest of the night. He wasn’t proud of it but he’d reached the end of his ability to deal with the death. It was midday before he came out, sleepless and heartsick.

His hope that the two mining men would have dealt with the bodies was overly optimistic. The four lay where they’d died but the mining men were squatting, ignoring the bodies, around the fire, their interminable cans of beans heating beside the fire. Zeke swallowed his earnest desire to smash the both of them with the nearby shovel for their disregard of human life and offered a pale greeting. “Mornin’”

“Mr. Stanford. Greetings from a great day,” Woolsey offered. “We reigned supreme in the end. A fine Arizona morning.”

Zeke supposed it was and walked to the shovel he’d left by the arista. “So it is. I’ll get to burying these men.”

“What matter!” Brokaw waved his mug of coffee. They’re dead and gone. Let the crows have them.

Zeke looked to the sky. Indeed, the crows and ravens were already circling. If the men hadn’t been there, the birds would have already descended. “It’s not Christian.” It was all he could offer. He’d held a hand in their deaths after all, so he couldn’t be all condemning. “It’s right we bury them.”

Woolsey sighed. It was clear the man thought Zeke a weak. “Very well.” He rose and tossed the remains of his cup of coffee into the fire and pulled the can of beans away. “Best get to it then.”

The burying of four bodies made a long day and at the end, Zeke had nothing to scribe into the wooden crosses for any of the men except Delbert but Outlaw One, Outlaw Two and Outlaw Three. That made him even more sad than before. What about their families? Who would mourn these men?

In the meantime, the two mining men talked about nothing but the richness of Zeke’s claim. They rode out the next day talking about ounces per ton, and the method of transport. Zeke rode ahead so he couldn’t hear them. Scouting he called it and blamed the Apache attack he’d suffered weeks ago. Really, he just couldn’t stand the sound of them any longer. He missed the days of riding on his own. Working on his own.

When they got into town, he bid them farewell and rode out into the chaparral. He needed to get some quiet. Two days later, he rode into Mrs. Estrada’s. Cesar hurried from the barn. “Mr. Zeke! Are you all right? We were so worried when we heard the mining men were back but you were gone!”

Zeke dismounted. More guilt piling up. “Sorry, Cesar. I just needed to get their voices out of my head.”

Cesar nodded. “It’s good you are back. Miss Mary is so worried.”

Zeke closed his eyes. Of course Mary was worried. What was he thinking. “I’ll make it up, Cesar. Thank you.” For once, he let Cesar take Butters and lead him into the barn while he went to the house. He remembered his manners and was doing his best to beat the dust from his clothes when Mary raced down the steps and slammed into him in a huge hug.

“Zeke! Zeke! I’ve been so worried.” She hugged him so hard he didn’t think he could breathe. That’s when she slapped him in the face making him stagger. “What do you think you were doing! You disappeared without a word. I’ve been worried sick.” She advanced on him until he retreated across the yard to avoid her wrath. She was like the stories of the Norse Valkyrie, avenging goddess, hair flying in the breeze, full of fire and ice. He’d never seen anyone more beautiful.

“I’m sorry. Sorry.” He held out his hands in supplication, trying to hold off her anger.

“Sorry doesn’t make it right!” She crossed her arms, breath coming fast from her anger. “I was worried sick. You just disappeared. The sheriff has men out looking for you!”

“I apologize. I’ll apologize to the sheriff, too. Mary. It’s been a hard week. Will you forgive me?”

She smoothed her loose tendrils of hair back as though her hair angered her as well. He wondered that it didn’t come out by the roots. “Very well. But you’d better have a good explanation.”

“I do.” He convinced her to walk with him and they wandered across Mrs. Estrada’s little ranch. First, feet apart, then closer. By the time they were by the stream, they were hand in hand. By the time the supper bell rang, they had reconciled.

Words: 798

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Quartz: Part 11 – Flash Fiction Friday Post

See Part 1 Here.

The next day started early. The men seemed eager, for a change, to get started. It was a hike up to the mine. Once there, he stopped and looked around. With any luck at all, this would be the last time he would climb up here. The view was of rolling hills, studded with alligator juniper and shrub oak. As the mining men examined the entrance, Zeke watched a javalina and her juvenile offspring trot, single file, across the prairie.

“You mind if we go in?”

“Go ahead,” Zeke said. “See what you’re payin’ for.”

He sat down and enjoyed the view as they went in. The sweat from the climb cooled his back as he wiped his face with his bandana. It seemed strange to be showing people his mine. He’d kept it secret for so long.

A noise behind him made him turn. Were the men done already?

He was face to face with a gun barrel. When he raised his eyes, it was the man from the alley, the night of the dance.

“Ha! The look on your face. Thought you were done with me, didn’t ya?”

Three more men crept down the hillside on each side of the mine entrance. Zeke could hardly form a coherent thought. Weren’t they supposed to be in jail in Globe?

The man waved his gun. “Get over there, out of sight of the entrance.” Zeke slowly got up and moved to the spot indicated. The other three men took position next to the entrance, out of sight of the two who would come out. Zeke eyed his rifle, lying on the ground where he’d been sitting. The man holding him at gunpoint picked it up and tossed it down the slope. “Just take it easy, there, son. No sense getting shot.”

Zeke agreed with him there. What was this guy’s name? “Delbert. You don’t have to do this.”

Delbert laughed. “Shut up. On your knees.” He moved behind Zeke. “You just keep quiet now. No callin’ out to your friends.”

Zeke felt helpless. He wasn’t friends with the mining men but he didn’t want to see them shot. “How’d you escape?”

“None of your business. Shut up.”

They waited, the sun beating down. Zeke could feel a trickle of sweat run down his spine. Could he warn the mining men somehow?

Delbert jabbed him with the gun barrel. “No ideas. I’ll shoot you first.”

Zeke guessed his thoughts were obvious. All he could think about now was Mary. Would she ever know what happened? Eventually. The coordinates were on the claim. Mr. Markum would send people out if he didn’t return, wouldn’t he?

He looked up. He could hear Woolsey and Brokaw talking as they came out. They were feet outside the entrance when they noticed Zeke on his knees, Delbert behind him.

“Howdy boys.” Delbert pointed at them as they stopped.

His partners moved behind the two mining men. Guns pointed at their backs.

“That’ll be far enough.” Delbert jabbed Zeke. “Stand up and get over there with them.”

Once Zeke was there Delbert said, “Now drop those gunbelts and kick them over here.”

Zeke watched the mining men slowly unbuckle the belts. Didn’t they have any tricks? He sighed as the belts hit the dirt and they kicked them over. Apparently not.

“Tie ‘em up.”

Zeke could feel his hands pulled back and tied behind him. The rope was biting into his wrists. “Let’s get them back to camp.”

The walk back was difficult. It was hard to keep his balance with his hands behind him. Once at camp, Delbert’s men tied the three of them to a tree and proceeded to explore the camp. One went for wood and soon they had a fire going and had Zeke’s food out and being cooked.

As night fell, Zeke worked the rope on his wrists. He was hungry but worse, he was thirsty. And angry. Not only was he tied up in his own camp, but they hadn’t even cared for the horses. He could hear Butters whinnying in complaint.

“Shut that horse up!”

“He’s thirsty and hungry.” Zeke felt he had to call out. He didn’t want his horse shot.

“Shut up, boy.”

“Feed the horses, Dan.”

“Why do I have to do it?”

“You want a ride out of here, don’t ya?”

There was mumbling Zeke couldn’t hear but the man was getting up to do what he was told.

“We could use some water,” Zeke called out.

Delbert laughed. “I’ll bet you could, boy.” The others with him laughed as well.

Zeke sighed and settled back.

“Nice try, son,” Woolsey said.

“You two have any ideas?”

“Nope,” Brokaw said. “Never been in this situation before.”

Great, Zeke thought. He continued to work at the ropes. His hands were slick. Blood, more’n likely, but he continued. Maybe they’d get slippery enough to get out of the ropes.

Eventually, Delbert’s men lay quiet around the dying fire. Zeke watched and worked. It seemed the ropes were getting looser. Twice he’d jerked awake, having fallen asleep as he worried the ropes.

The night sky wheeled around, and Zeke finally broke a hand loose. The moon had risen, and he could see blood dripping from his fingertips. He put a hand on Woolsey’s shoulder. “Stay quiet.” He untied Woolsey, then did the same with Brokaw. They wriggled out of the rope wrapping them around the tree. Zeke’s leg was asleep, and he could hardly stand on it as the prickles made his leg feel like ants were crawling all over it.

The three crept up on the sleeping men. Zeke went for Delbert, a rock in hand. Woolsey had a rock as well and Brokaw had a broken tree limb. Just as Zeke reached Delbert, the man rolled over in his sleep, muttering something. Terrified, Zeke smashed the man’s head. Woolsey and Brokaw did the same.

Zeke sank to his knees and did a sudden turn. The bile was a bitter as his anguish.

Words: 1004

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