Merry New Year 2016: Monday Blog Post

Bird by Betty Marsh

Bird by Betty Marsh

For those of you who read last week’s post, we did just fine on the fair audit AND we finished it in one, very stressful, day. Yay! We’re lining ourselves up to get the 2016 fair planned. If you live in my town, I have several openings for volunteers! If you’re interested in our fair, check out www.NorthernGilaCountyFair.com or Northern Gila County Fair on Facebook.

We had my daughter and brother-in-law (hubby’s brother) over on Christmas Eve for our Christmas feast. As usual, I cooked way too much food. The duck was delicious and the company was great. We played both Chicken Foot and a game new to me, Sequence. There was a lot of trash talk and laughter. Good times. The daughter brought her hamster with her as no one was home to take care of it. We had fun watching the little critter in her hamster ball roam all over the house checking things out. Daughter shared her art. The pic at the top is one of her drawings. We think she’s awesome. How about you? LOL!

Writing is going. Even though it was Christmas week, I managed over 6000 words on my November NaNo novel, Zoe Ohale. I’ve got about six scenes to go and I’ll be close to 65,000 words on the work when I’ve finished the first draft. After that is done and put away to rest awhile, I’ll pick up July’s Mystery in the Woods. At this point I’ll have to read the whole thing through to figure out where I left off and what else has to be done. That story was an experiment in NOT plotting. This is where it has led me, down a rabbit hole. No matter. I’ll get it back to active status and finish it up. I’m planning on being at a Mystery Convention in Scottsdale the beginning of June and want to have it there for sale. So, I’d better get writing.

Santa’s Authors Christmas 2015 Giveaway also known as the Winter Wonderland of Books Christmas Giveaway has been extended to run until midnight, January 1st. (midnight after New Year’s eve) Here’s the link through my website:  https://conniesrandomthoughts.com/giveaways-and-prizes/. Fifty authors have put up all kinds of prizes from books to jewelry to Amazon gift cards. Go ahead and log in. You’ll find links to all of the supporting author’s social media. Click on a link, enter to win. The more links you click, the better your chance of winning. The grand prize is $200 of Paypal cash, good anywhere on the planet. I’ve put up the two signed paperback books in my Brown Rain series as my main prize. I also put up my Christmas Tales book (signed, of course) as a second prize. Good luck! Thanks for participating.

This is the time of year for me to look back at 2015 and think about what I want to do for 2016 at least as far as my writing goes. Do you do that in your life or job? I find it helpful to have a goal to shoot for. I did a blog post on this in my December 18th post. Click here to see how I did in 2015. I think my main goal in 2016 is to not only write and publish but to expand my reader base. I have 13 books out now plus stories in four different anthologies. I’ll be able to put out at least three books in 2016, perhaps more. Do you recommend my books you’ve read to other readers?  Do you write reviews for my books that you’ve read on Amazon, Goodreads or the site where you purchased the book or books? Those are some of the ways a reader can help out an author. What is your suggestion for bringing more readers to my books? I hope you had a productive and happy year. I wish you all the best with your goals for 2016.

I published my December newsletter. Did you miss it? Click here to sign up for my newsletter. I make special offers to my newsletter people that I do not make on the website blog posts. If you like the content, please encourage your friends to sign up, the newsletter is sharable, send it to whomever you think will like it. Don’t delay signing up. You’ve already missed out on two great offers. The January newsletter is coming out soon. Sign up now so you don’t miss out.

Mystery at the Fair released July 15th! I’m pretty excited about it. You can buy it and my other books at: Apple, Amazon, Barnes and Noble, Kobo, Smashwords , Gumroads  or Chatebooks today! You can also see all of my books on www.ConniesRandomThoughts.com. If you’ve read any of my books, please drop a review on the site where you bought it or on Goodreads. It’s a big help to me in the book rankings each vendor uses to promote the books on their sites. Thanks in advance.

Merry-Go-Round Blog Post: Conclusions

Goal by oscarsnapshotter via DeviantArt.com

Goal by oscarsnapshotter via DeviantArt.com

Goals? Arrggh, I haven’t looked at my goals since May, I think. Let’s see what I’ve accomplished and what I haven’t. I feel like Santa, checking my list, lol! So much has happened to me this year I really need to think about what is new and what isn’t. I’m including May’s status first, then my current status.

Status:

1. Goal: Upgrade my blog site to a real website

MAY: The blog is half transformed. If you look for www.conniesrandomthoughts.com, you’ll find it but I’m having trouble getting into it from the WordPress side. I also want to dress it up better. Many of the cool things I had on my blog did not transfer over to the website. I have to figure all of that out. Stay tuned.

DECEMBER: The blog is now a website. I seemed to have lost all of the WordPress followers, maybe not, but I am signing up new followers so that’s a good thing. Goal achieved.

2. Goal: Research the pros and cons of selling my books from my own website. If it seems good, get that page set up.

MAY: No activity

DECEMBER: Research the pros and cons of selling my books from my own website. If it seems good, get that page set up. I haven’t begun selling from my own site, but I am selling directly on Gumroad.com which allows me to sell both paperback and ebooks. I have to sell the paperbacks from my home, which means I need a supply of each book on hand to satisfy any buyers. So far, I don’t have buyers but, that could change. I am also selling directly on ChateBooks.com. ChateBooks is a great, reader-friendly site. Every book has its own chat! So until my sales increase, I’m sticking with these options for direct sales. After that, I will re-examine selling directly from my own website. I’m calling this, goal achieved

3. Goal: Publish 6 books in 2015

MAY: One book published in January. One (from November) is being edited. The 3rd book in my brown rain series is drafted. A new series, All About Bob, has the first book drafted.

DECEMBER: I published a second book, Mystery at the Fair, in July. That was it. I wrote 2 novellas, and part of one novel and am finishing up a second novel manuscript from November’s NaNo. Hopefully next year I’ll get more out. Goal not accomplished.

4. Goal: Participate in the April and July Camp NaNo’s and in the November NaNo

MAY: Participated in April Camp NaNo! Yay, a small win for me.

DECEMBER: Participated in July’s Camp NaNo drafting Mystery in the Woods, which is not finished. Also in the November NaNo with my Zoe Ohale book. So this goal was achieved.

5. Goal: Produce a Christmas Book this year.

MAY: Working on my 2013 2YN story, Mrs. Claus. Maybe.

DECEMBER: Mrs. Claus is not completed. No other Christmas story was written. Goal not achieved.

6. Goal: Submit a story to the 2015 FM Anthology.

MAY: Had an idea, changed it, haven’t messed with it in two months. It may be part of the May Story a Day or the July CampNaNo.

DECEMBER: In late June I took a flash fiction I had written and as part of July’s CampNaNo, expanded it into a full short story. I did submit that to the anthology. Goal achieved.

7. Goal: Complete the Holly Lisle World Building class and the How to Write A Series Expanded class

MAY: Still working on the How to Write a Series Expanded class. Holly’s been putting it together slowly, that’s what being on the beta group means. No matter. I don’t mind working slowly.

DECEMBER: With all of the July, September, and November activities and October’s vacation, I didn’t get back to the World Building Class. I also haven’t finished the Write a Series Expanded class as Holly got sick and then has been totally involved in a complete site rebuild and revisions of her major workshops. Will have to pick both of these back up in January. Goal not achieved.

8. Goal: Develop a schedule of contests for short story submission process

MAY: I have the schedule of contests. What I don’t have is good material to submit. Working.

DECEMBER: I have submitted to a couple of the contests from the list I generated before May. I didn’t feel I had a lot to send off.  Goal achieved.

9. Goal: Participate in May Story A Day

MAY: Participating in MAD. So far 4 stories drafted.

DECEMBER: Completed 10 flash and short stories in May. I thought that was pretty good. Goal achieved.

10. Goal: Increase speaking appearances and opportunities to sell my books.

MAY: Appeared at an Arizona Professional Writers lunch in February. Did a book signing locally in March. Plan on a book release in July and an appearance at the Payson Book Festival on July 25th. Have my tickets and table for the InD’tale conference in September.

DECEMBER: I did the July book release, and was an author at the Payson Book Festival. I attended the InD’tale conference in September. In October, while on vacation, did a book signing in Gloversville, NY. In November I had a table at the November 14th VETFest in Avondale, and did a workshop in Pine for the Pine/Strawberry writer’s group. I also did a workshop in Camp Verde in November, Critiquing on a Shoestring. The addition of Gumroad.com and Chatebooks.com is also part of the increase in opportunities to get my name out there. Goal achieved.

11. Goal: Participate in the Payson Book Festival as an author.

MAY: All ready to appear at the book festival.

DECEMBER: Participated. Goal achieved.

For me, 2015 was a year mostly successes! Three goals were not achieved but progress was made on them so I don’t feel too bad. How about you? Did you have a few goals for 2015? How did you do? What would you do differently? I’d love to hear your comments.

Mystery at the Fair released July 15th! I’m pretty excited about it. You can buy it and my other books at: Apple, Amazon, Barnes and Noble, Kobo, or Smashwords today! You can also see all of my books on www.ConniesRandomThoughts.com, Books tab. 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 the books on their sites. Thanks in advance.

 

The Merry-Go-Round Blog Tour is sponsored by the website Forward Motion (http://www.fmwriters.com). The tour is you, the reader, traveling the world from author’s blog to author’s blog. There are all sorts of writers at all stages in their writing career, so there’s always something new and different to enjoy. If you want to get to know the nearly twenty other writers check out the rest of the tour at http://merrygoroundtour.blogspot.com!  Up next: Jean Schara

Anything But Quiet: Monday Blog Post

Jade Plant with Christmas Decorations

Jade Plant with Christmas Decorations

It’s the middle of the month and my supposed quiet month is anything but. I’m working on two non-profits, with no respite since their actual operational dates. I know I shouldn’t put so much energy into them but both are dear to my heart. I have mentioned in past weeks about my editing projects and trying to get my Mystery and NaNo novel to finished 1st draft. None of that has happened. What I have started is a project for another writer, formatting her book. That has been a struggle but I think I’m about done. It had to be converted from PDF to word, which made the formatting that much harder. On the positive side, she’ll have a word doc that she can actually work with once I hand it back. That’s a win in my book. Aside from the 21st and 22nd, the remaining days of the month are actually appointment free. I may get things done after all.

I took my Christmas boxes to the post office last week. It only took half an hour in line to get them mailed out. I count that as a win. My friend, eight people in line behind me, was there over 45 minutes.

On the Christmas front the front yard is decorated beautifully. Best of all on Saturday we had snow. All day the trees were frosted but that didn’t last long. By sundown, most of the snow had melted. I was hoping by the time the outdoor lights came on there’d be snow to offer a frosted effect but that did not happen. A little sad but that just means my Sunday walk with friends was less slippery. I have the tree up and the cloth picture we cover with wrapping paper to tape received Christmas cards is hanging up. The rest of my interior decorations I’ve left in the bins and taking back out the garage. Other than my jade plant, the tree and the card display, I’m not going to put up any other decorations. My heart just isn’t into it. No real reason except I keep thinking about all the work to put them up only to take them down in two weeks. Just doesn’t seem worth the effort.

I had a January Jones web radio show scheduled for today but January is travelling. If you missed my show last week, you can go to my Media tab and the Recorded Interviews sub-heading to find links to any of the six supporting stations broadcasting last week’s show. Author friend, D’Elen McClain, was on with me. A two for one deal. Please listen. We talk about our work, how we go about doing it and even some personal Christmas stories. By January I’ll have my 2016 appearances, at least the ones I have scheduled so far, up on my Where Will I Be tab. Take a look. If you’re in the area, please stop by and see me. I’d love to chat with you.

I’m excited about Christmas, despite my reluctance to decorate inside my house. My daughter is coming to visit, Christmas Eve or Christmas Day, depends on other family obligations. I’m going to try and convince her to come Christmas Eve. I’ll make duck for dinner. When we were stationed in England, I always bought a goose, an English tradition, for our Christmas feast. Goose isn’t available here so duck is the next best thing. I love duck and can’t wait to share it. I’ll have the traditional mashed potatoes and green beans and from my own family, cole slaw, or as my people say, cabbage salad. I’ll make cranberry sauce too, the fresh kind with ground up cranberries and orange. There’s nothing better in my opinion.

I mentioned last week that I started an Instagram account. I’ve posted a few pictures since last Saturday’s Electric Light Parade. There are pics of our Tuesday hike to a spot called the Spanish Ruins, putting up my tree and even Saturday’s snow. You can find me on Instagram at ConniesRandomThoughts. What a fun way to share pictures. I hope you stop by my page and follow.

We’re getting down to the last two weeks of Santa’s Authors Christmas 2015 Giveaway also known as the Winter Wonderland of Books Christmas Giveaway. Here’s the link through my website:  https://conniesrandomthoughts.com/giveaways-and-prizes/. Fifty authors have put up all kinds of prizes from books to jewelry to Amazon gift cards. Go ahead and log in. You’ll find links to all of the supporting author’s social media. Click on a link, enter to win. The more links you click, the better your chance of winning. The grand prize is $200 of Paypal cash, good anywhere on the planet. I’ve put up the two signed paperback books in my Brown Rain series as my main prize. I also put up my Christmas Tales book (signed, of course) as a second prize. Good luck! Thanks for participating.

If you are an author, please take a look at the Holly Lisle How to Revise Your Novel, offer. It ends Tuesday (the 15th!) at mid-night. I used this course myself and found it to be just the thing to get me from a hot mess of an initial draft manuscript to a real story. It’s been revised and is better than ever. If you’d like to turn your NaNo novel, or any other manuscript, into a work that can be published, you want to sign up for this workshop. Click on this link to sign up. https://hollyswritingclasses.com/?home&aid=10009

Thanks for stopping by my blog today. I hope you’re having a marvelous December. Do you have Christmas decorating stories? Kitchen disasters to share? Fun in the snow pictures? I’d love to hear about them. Please share in the comments below.

I published my December newsletter. Did you miss it? Click here to sign up for my newsletter. I make special offers to my newsletter people that I do not make on the website blog posts. If you like the content, please encourage your friends to sign up, the newsletter is sharable, send it to whomever you think will like it. Don’t delay signing up. You’ve already missed out on two great offers. The January newsletter is coming out soon. Sign up now so you don’t miss out.

Mystery at the Fair released July 15th! I’m pretty excited about it. You can buy it and my other books at: Apple, Amazon, Barnes and Noble, Kobo, Smashwords , Gumroads  or Chatebooks today! You can also see all of my books on www.ConniesRandomThoughts.com. If you’ve read any of my books, please drop a review on the site where you bought it or on Goodreads. It’s a big help to me in the book rankings each vendor uses to promote the books on their sites. Thanks in advance.

Merry-Go-Round Post: Favorites from 2015

Nettle pod 2015 by Randy Cockrell

Nettle pod 2015 by Randy Cockrell

Oh my! New stuff!

So much has happened to me this year I really need to think about what is new and what isn’t.

One thing that is new is my love of a new to me author, Nevada Barr. I started writing cozy fiction last year and published my first work this year. See the subtle nudge at the end of this post. Anyway, my brother-in-law lent me his collection of Nevada Barr stories set around her protagonist Anna Pigeon. I love this series. First of all Anna Pigeon is my kind of gal. She loves the outdoors, fancy dress is not for her and to be honest, she likes her cat better than most people. What is not to love? I’ve read mystery for years, starting with Miss Marple stories by Agatha Christie. Anyway, I thought it was time to read some newer stuff. There is SO much out there and to be honest, I love it all. Anyway. If you’re looking for some new mystery fiction, check out Nevada Barr.

Want to read more? Click here.
Mystery at the Fair released July 15th! I’m pretty excited about it. You can buy it and my other books at: Apple, Amazon, Barnes and Noble, Kobo, or Smashwords today! You can also see all of my books on www.ConniesRandomThoughts.com, Books tab. I’m also selling directly. You can find my work on www.gumroad.com/conniecockrell.  If you’ve read any of my books, please drop a review on the site where you bought it or on Goodreads.com/conniecockrell. It’s a big help to me in the book rankings each vendor uses to promote the books on their sites. Thanks in advance.

 

The Merry-Go-Round Blog Tour is sponsored by the website Forward Motion (http://www.fmwriters.com). The tour is you, the reader, traveling the world from author’s blog to author’s blog. There are all sorts of writers at all stages in their writing career, so there’s always something new and different to enjoy. If you want to get to know the nearly twenty other writers check out the rest of the tour at http://merrygoroundtour.blogspot.com!  Up next: Jean Schara

Provoking: A Monday Blog Post

Promo for Winter Wonderland Giveaway

Promo for Winter Wonderland Giveaway

Do you watch the show Madam Secretary? I do. I love the show. I know. Much of it is way over the top. Every week it’s an international crisis. That begs the question, what would we do? That’s what the show is really about. What would we do? What is fair? What is appropriate? What should our policies be on SO many issues? It’s a show, regardless of its grand-standing, which asks, what would we do? What should we do? Big questions.

Anyway, I get to my question in a round-about way. As an author, no matter the genre, the goal is to ask, What if? What if the girl is angry and then falls in love with the very person she’s furious with? What if the government decides (and by that I mean what if the “people” decide) that offspring of criminals cannot expect any governmental assistance? What if, as a society, we allow corporations to run roughshod over our rights as human beings?

Today’s post is different. I am poking the bee’s nest, if you will. I’m provoking, and on purpose. As an author, I want to tell a story. Since my favorite genre is science fiction, I’m used to the story making me question, making me look at reality in a whole different perspective. All of the other genres do the same, some with more subtlety, perhaps than SciFi or Fantasy do.

So, tell me, what’s your beef? What are you passionate about? Is it about the lack of budget to take care of our mentally ill? Is it about our food and the control the big conglomerates have over what we eat? Do you fume over the fact that our major “food” companies have an express mission statement to take over the control of all drinkable water on the planet? What about the distance in income between the richest and the poorest in our society? What’s your beef?

I’m here to tell you that stories, whether they’re mysteries or romances, SciFi or Noir, Westerns or Erotica, is talking to you about the issues that you are most passionate about. If you have a favorite genre, it’s because that form of story speaks to you and what you’re passionate about.

So, that’s all I have to say. I want you to question. I want you to be passionate. Love the authors that speak to you. Support them! Buy their books. Respond to their Facebook posts. Follow them on Twitter and GoodReads. Sign up for their newsletters. An author cannot write in a vacuum. They need to pay the rent, buy groceries, purchase clothing and food for themselves and their children. You are a patron of the arts. Support your local author.

I’m appearing on November 14th in Avondale, AZ to sell and sign books. I hope to see you there. See http://www.historicavondale.org/vet-fest.html

I’m teaching a writers workshop on November 20th, in Camp Verde, AZ on critiquing. I have an entry for that on my Where Will I Be tab on my website.

No Author Friend Boost this week. I’m working on National Novel Writing Month. I’m doing well, a little ahead of plan, just in case. I’m working on a Zoe Ohale novel so if you’ve liked the flash fiction, I have a short story about Zoe in the upcoming Forward Motion Anthology, and now, this!

Santa’s Authors Christmas 2015 Giveaway also known as the Winter Wonderland of Books Christmas Giveaway started 1 November. I have a link to the giveaway on my website, https://conniesrandomthoughts.com/giveaways-and-prizes/. There’s also a Youtube video at the bottom of the page to watch. You will love this. Fifty authors have put up all kinds of prizes from books to jewelry to Amazon gift cards. Go ahead and log in. You’ll find links to all of the author’s social media. Click on a link, enter to win. The more links you click, the better your chance of winning. The grand prize is $200 of Paypal cash, good anywhere on the planet. Good luck! Thanks for participating.

Thanks for stopping by my blog today. Feel free to comment.

I published my October newsletter. Did you miss it? Click here to sign up for my newsletter. I make special offers to my newsletter people that I do not make on the website blog posts. If you like the content, please encourage your friends to sign up, the newsletter is shareable, send it to whomever you think will like it. Don’t delay signing up. You’ve already missed out on two great offers. The November newsletter is coming out soon. Sign up now so you don’t miss out.

Mystery at the Fair released July 15th! I’m pretty excited about it. You can buy it and my other books at: Apple, Amazon, Barnes and Noble, Kobo, Smashwords or Gumroads today! You can also see all of my books on www.ConniesRandomThoughts.com, Books tab. 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 the books on their sites. Thanks in advance.

Monday Blog Post: Recovery

Mud Lake on the Northville-Lake Placid Trail

Mud Lake on the Northville-Lake Placid Trail

After such an intense three months and covering 3 time zones both forward and back, I’ve found myself very tired. I’ve spent the time since we returned going to bed early. Much earlier than I usually do. Above is a picture of a spot on the Northville-Lake Placid Trail. Just one of the places I went while on vacation.

We’ve been engaged in a top to bottom cleaning of the house. Turns out a mouse moved in about the time we left on vacation. The little creature had a great time exploring the ENTIRE house. Therefore, we’ve had to clean and clean and clean. The mouse met it’s demise on the Monday we returned. It had been holed up in the pantry. Oh yes. Much in bagged and boxed flours and mixes had to be trashed. So far no other creatures have been found inside. Word around the neighborhood is that there is a huge mouse infestation, so it’s not just my house. I’m keeping an eye out for any sign of the little critters. We live inside a National Forest. Let them find a home out there. There are hundreds of miles for them to live in.

Gardening is finishing up. I had a friend come water for my while I was gone. I have an amazing number of cantaloupes lying about the garden area. The tomatoes are still hanging on. It’s wonderful that in late October I can still go out and pick fresh tomatoes. The parsley and the basil have recovered from the summer heat and I’m picking them freely. I also just picked two fresh green peppers yesterday. I love how crisp and fresh they are. Otherwise things are looking brown and limp and it’s just about time to cut everything back for the winter.

Author Friend Boost! Simon Batt also known as S.E. Batt. His newest release is Louise.  Here’s a description.

In a world where only four ‘types’ of people exist — Lucy, Emily, Chris and David — one Lucy Stallow ventures to buy herself Lucy clothes. She spies an Emily wearing clothes she would love to wear, and when she arrives at the clothes store, the temptation to break the social norm becomes too strong for her to resist. Will she challenge the social norm and experiment with her identity, or will she break and go back to the train tracks every Lucy is expected to follow?

A humorous short story at approx. 4,500 words, with an additional story, ‘Freelance Winner’, at approx. 4,000 words.

Don’t forget to pick up his free ebook, A Star for Christmas. It’s the season, ya know. You can find more about Simon at: sebatt.com

Writing progress: I’ve made some progress on my Zoe Ohale outline for NaNo. It’s still a long way from finished. I did get another chapter written on Mystery in the Woods. It’s moving, albeit slowly.

Marketing: As an indie author, I’m responsible for marketing my own work. It can be a challenge but I keep my eyes and ears open for new opportunities to tell people I’m out here and have some stories they might like to read. I’ve finished posting all of my books, and I mean ALL of them, to Goodreads.com/conniecockrell. If you’d like to buy, they are all there, the only place where you can buy them all.

One great opportunity is that my author friend D’Elen McClain (wickedstorytelling.com) has started a new website to connect readers to authors. It’s called Indie Books Direct at http://indiebooksdirect.com/. The site, free to readers, has a tab that lists all of the authors on the site. The reader just clicks on the author’s name and a link takes them directly to the author’s website or sale page. If you want to find authors in a particular genre, click on one of the several genre pages to find authors that have stories in that genre. It makes things so easy for readers! The site is still under construction but we’d love to have you come browse. Let us know how you like the site. Official grand opening is November 1st!

On Saturday I found a promotion that will start right after Halloween is over. It’s called Santa’s Authors Christmas 2015 Giveaway. On 1 November, the party starts. I’ll give everyone the details for signing up to win free books and prizes. Mark your calendar because you won’t want to miss out on this.

I am writing the Friday Flash stories for November. There are four new stories all scheduled and waiting to post. The theme I wrote to is Thanksgiving, or just thankfulness. I just had to do it. LOL!

Writing news. I was accepted in the Forward Motion anthology which is being edited right now so it should be out soon. The Longest Night Watch Anthology, which has my story in it, is now available on Amazon in both ebook and paperback. All proceeds of that sale go to the Alzheimer’s Association in honor of Terry Pratchett in the hope of one day finding a cure for this dread disease. Sir Terrence Pratchett was best known for his Discworld series. If you haven’t read them, you need to go to your nearest library or order them posthaste on your favorite ebook site. You won’t regret it.

Where I’ll be: I’m busy. Too busy, really for a NaNo challenge month. However. On the 28th I’ll be in Strawberry AZ for the Pine/Strawberry Writers Group meeting. We’re talking about editing. On November 14th I’m in Avondale for the VETFest they have going on there as part of their monthly art walk. Here’s the link: http://www.historicavondale.org/vet-fest.html. I’d love it if you could make it there and stop by my booth. On November 20th, I’m going to be in Camp Verde facilitating a workshop on critiquing. Hosted by the Camp Verde Library, it’s sure to be a big draw for local writers. If you’re in the area, please sign up at the library to attend.

Other writing news. While on vacation I did the first edit of the third Brown Rain Series book, Kindred Spirits. It’s been awhile since I did the first draft and I have to say this might be the best one so far in the series. Both Alyssa and Kyra are being kept on their toes. I have another edit to do before sending it to my editors so it may be out in early 2016. Stay tuned.

I’m also introducing a new series, All About Bob. This is a series of stand-alone stories about a protagonist named Bob. I’m not sure about the title of this book but I think you’ll like him. I’m halfway through the edit on this one. It may be out in mid-2016.

I’m totally up on conniesrandomthoughts.com.  I’ve put a notice up on my WordPress blog so my readers can find me. Be sure to follow me at my new website. I stopped posting to the WordPress site (www.conniesrandomthoughts.wordpress.com) after Friday August 7th.

Thanks for stopping by my blog today.

I published my September newsletter on Saturday. Did you miss it? Click here to sign up for my newsletter. I make special offers to my newsletter people that I do not make on the website blogs. If you like the content, please encourage your friends to sign up, too. Don’t delay. The October newsletter is coming out soon. Sign up now so you don’t miss out.

Mystery at the Fair released July 15th! I’m pretty excited about it. You can buy it and my other books at: Apple, Amazon, Barnes and Noble, Kobo, or Smashwords today! You can also see all of my books on www.ConniesRandomThoughts.com, Books tab. 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 the books on their sites. Thanks in advance.

Chicklets in the Kitchen: Making Soap

Lavender, Soap,

Lavender Soap by Connie Cockrell

The kitchen isn’t just for making breakfast, lunch and dinner. I don’t know about you, but a lot of crafts get done in my kitchen. Not long ago I showed you how to make butter. Here is another craft that is fairly easy to do at home and the result is great for gift giving. Hoo! Anyone thinking about Christmas?

So, here’s how you do it.

Some hardware and ingredients for making soap

Some hardware and ingredients for making soap

Hardware

2 quart glass measuring cup

1 quart glass measuring cup

2 cup glass measuring cup

2 silicone muffin sheets (optional. 2 4X8 inch bread pans, lined with parchment)

1 cookie sheet

2 wire racks

1 large stainless steel spoon to still lye and water mixture

Stick Blender

4 quart stainless steel pot

Rubber Gloves and Eye Protection

Soap ingredients

40 ounces olive oil (not extra virgin)

10 ounces of coconut oil

16 ounces of warm water (from the tap is fine)

6.9 ounces of lye

1.5 to 2.2 ounces of essential oil, any scent (optional)

1/4 cup of crushed flower petals, chopped herb, whatever matches with your essential oil

Directions

Things move quickly when you’re assembling this so make sure you have all of the ingredients measured out, open and ready to add to the pot. Use glass and stainless steel so there won’t be any adverse reactions. Aluminum is not suitable for the measuring cups or pot.

To see the rest go here.

Monday Blog Post: Vacation Part 3 of 3

Lake, Fog, Sunrise, Sacandaga, Northville, NY,

The Great Sacandaga Lake, Northville, NY, Sunrise through the Fog

We began the third and final part of our vacation last Thursday. The morning we left Northville (N.Y.), the temperature was 35 degrees F. As we drove by the lake, I saw that the water was steaming, creating a huge fog bank over the warmer water.  The sun was just coming up and shone through the fog. You can see a picture of it above. It was just a magical and lovely farewell to the area.

Thursday was a short driving day as we stopped just outside of Harrisburg, PA to visit my hiking friend, trail name, Sherpa.  We originally met years ago as part of a group getting together to hike the Appalachian Trail (the AT!). We hit it off immediately and became instant friends. We had many hiking adventures on the AT and still get together, despite now living on opposite sides of the country. We talked and talked Thursday night. It was so nice to reconnect.

The rest of the trip back to Arizona has been relatively uneventful. It was generally an interstate highway slog but Sunday we crossed the western half of Oklahoma, the Texas panhandle and made it about 650 miles to Santa Rosa, New Mexico to spend the night. Here’s my serendipitous story. I used Santa Rosa, NM as the home place of a character in a short story I just sent off  to a magazine. It was wonderful to see the actual area, the Pecos River, which I mentioned in my story and unknown to me, something called the Blue Hole. In my research, I never heard of the Blue Hole. So, since we arrived about 4:30pm, we decided to find this Blue Hole and check it out. It’s pretty cool. A deep, spring fed hole, about 50 feet in diameter and according to the sign, the outflow is several thousand gallons of water per minute of crystal clear water. It’s an amazing thing to find in the middle of a desert area.  The town allows diving in the hole, about 80 feet deep, with the proper permits.

Anyway, I love driving cross country. The landscape between upstate N.Y. and Payson A.Z. is so varied. Farms and fields, cities and villages, cattle, deer, antelope, mountains, rivers and lakes, it is so beautiful and better than TV!

I loved travelling in October–the fall colors in the north-country made it worth the trip.We expect to be home tomorrow afternoon. I’m posting this early, before I get there, so you have your regular Monday post from me.

Thanks for stopping by my blog today.

I published my September newsletter. Did you miss it? Click here to sign up for my newsletter. I make special offers to my newsletter people that I do not make on the website blogs. If you like the content, please encourage your friends to sign up, too. Don’t delay. The October newsletter is coming out soon. Sign up now so you don’t miss out.

Mystery at the Fair released July 15th! I’m pretty excited about it. You can buy it and my other books at: Apple, Amazon, Barnes and Noble, Kobo, or Smashwords today! You can also see all of my books on www.ConniesRandomThoughts.com, Books tab. 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 the books on their sites. I am also now on GumRoads.com/conniecockrell where you can buy my books directly from me. (Note: I’m still loading that site. Right now there are two books listed there.)Thanks in advance.

Merry-Go-Round Blog Tour: What I’ve Learned from my Favorite Authors

Revolution: last book in the Gulliver Station Cover Reveal by Connie Cockrell

Revolution: last book in the Gulliver Station Series by Connie Cockrell

Last month we talked about my favorite genre being Science Fiction. I read a lot before then but other than Gone With the Wind, which I first read at twelve, I don’t remember any of the stories. I was a regular at the classroom library and the school library but there was no lasting impression.

What did impress me was that box of books I mentioned last month. Notable in there were books of short stories by Robert Heinlein and Issac Asimov. I fell in love with Heinlein’s, Podkayne of Mars, and Asimov’s robot stories. In high school I dove into the much larger science fiction section. There I found Arthur C. Clarke and Ursula LeGuin. As a young adult I found C.J. Cherryh and Anne McCaffrey and Elizabeth Moon.

Now there are newer authors like Kevin Hearne and Chuck Wendig and Kristine Kathryn Rusch.

Each of these authors is skilled at world building. They can transport me, for an afternoon at least, to another world. Usually one with more problems than we have right here but in the long run the hero or heroine saves the planet by challenging the status quo and insisting that their society do the right thing.

I suppose I’m in love with these authors’ ability to take a look at existing problems and come up with a new solution. They also alert us to the possible consequences of what we’re doing right now. Whether that’s environmental disaster or Artificial Intelligences, makes no difference. They can point and say, “Look! This is what might happen if we don’t smarten up!” This has influenced me greatly in my outlook on new technology and in my optimism that somehow, we’ll get through these problems.

So, for me, it wasn’t one author, it was the whole field of speculative fiction. How about you? Do you have an author who has influenced you? Share in the comments!

Mystery at the Fair released July 15th! I’m pretty excited about it. You can buy it and my other books at: Apple, Amazon, Barnes and Noble, Kobo, or Smashwords today! You can also see all of my books on www.ConniesRandomThoughts.com, Books tab. 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 the books on their sites. Thanks in advance.

 

The Merry-Go-Round Blog Tour is sponsored by the website Forward Motion (http://www.fmwriters.com). The tour is you, the reader, travelling the world from author’s blog to author’s blog. There are all sorts of writers at all stages in their writing career, so there’s always something new and different to enjoy. If you want to get to know the nearly twenty other writers check out the rest of the tour at http://merrygoroundtour.blogspot.com!  Up next: Jean Schara

Merry-Go-Round Blog Tour: What have I learned from other story-telling genres?

Fair Ride

Fair Ride

I’m an eclectic writer. While I love SciFi and write in that genre often, I don’t limit myself to just that form. What that means is, I need to be consciously aware of the tropes, the expectations, if you will, of every genre I write in.

A good example is my latest book, Mystery at the Fair. I’ve been reading mysteries and thrillers since I was a teen, right along with my SciFi and Fantasy. But I was never conscious of what it was about those stories that made them a mystery, rather than a SciFi or a Fantasy.

Of course, there’s the mystery. That much is obvious. But what makes it a mystery? Readers expect one thing from a mystery and something else from a SciFi. In my case I’ve written a cozy mystery, so the person doing the sleuthing is not a police officer or detective. I had to work to tease those expectations from my memory. There needs to be danger for my main character, she needs to have a self-interest in finding out who committed the murder. The mystery has to hold all the way through the book and there has to be a twist. The murderer cannot be the first person the reader expects, or even the second or third. Who are the other suspects? Why are they suspects, what are they hiding?

I had a lot of help from my editor. He kept making me go back and ramp up the tension, the mystery, and make sure everything tied together at the end.

So my major take-away from this last book is to be more aware of the reader’s expectations for the genre I’m writing.

Mystery at the Fair released July 15th! I’m pretty excited about it. You can buy it and my other books at: Apple, Amazon, Barnes and Noble, Kobo, or Smashwords today! You can also see all of my books on www.ConniesRandomThoughts.com, Books tab. 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 the books on their sites. Thanks in advance.

 

The Merry-Go-Round Blog Tour is sponsored by the website Forward Motion (http://www.fmwriters.com). The tour is you, the reader, travelling the world from author’s blog to author’s blog. There are all sorts of writers at all stages in their writing career, so there’s always something new and different to enjoy. If you want to get to know the nearly twenty other writers check out the rest of the tour at http://merrygoroundtour.blogspot.com!  Up next: Jean Schara