Craft Fair, Tested, Mystery at the Fair: Monday Blog Post

Connie Cockrell, Susan Haught, and Bonnie Bahn at the Pine-Strawberry Fall Festival 2017

Newest News:

I spent the weekend at the Pine-Strawberry October Fall Festival and had a blast. I was with three other authors selling and signing our books. We met so many nice people who stopped to talk to us about our books and writing, it was very, very heart-warming. The above picture is of me, just before the festival opened. Below is a picture of my hubby who entered the Saturday chili cook-off. He had a good time but sadly, didn’t win.

Randy and Mark at the Pine-Strawberry Fall Festival Chili Cook-off

I have the fourth Brown Rain story, Tested back from the editor. I need to make a few tweaks and finalize the cover then get the book out into the public. It will be November. Stay tuned!

One of the things I spent time doing while at the weekend’s festival, was brainstorm elements of my next Jean Hays story, Mystery at the Reunion. I’ve finalized some details concerning the story that I hadn’t previously considered and made notes about things that I have to do some research on. This is going to be a very fast paced story. Jean has to solve the murder in just 3 days! I’ll be writing this during November’s National Novel Writing Month.

I’ve decided to submit Mystery at the Fair to the Hallmark Channel. I’m in the middle of writing a synopsis and query. Once those are done and I polish up the manuscript a little more, I’ll submit. Wouldn’t it be cool to see Jean Hays on the screen?!?! I think so!

I continue to write my serial, Slave Elf. I’ve left my girl, Delia in quite a pickle. We’ll have to see how she gets out of it. You can find the first episode here.


Would you like to win free ebooks, other prizes, or $150 in Paypal cash? Drop by and click on the Rafflecopter link for the Spooktacular Authors Halloween Giveaway. This ends after Halloween! Get it now!

I have started a contest over on my newsletter. What? You don’t get my newsletter? That’s a shame. But see below on how you can join in on the fun. I already have several people writing in to enter it. It runs to the end of October when I’ll use a random number generator to select the winner. Let me know you’ve joined the newsletter and I’ll send you the information to enter.

P.S. By the way, you can get the pictured mug at:

Shout Out:

One of the authors at the festival over the weekend was Mark Plets. A native Arizonan, Mark has written a historical fiction, Kelly, A Tale of Ould Ireland, set in the 16th century. His passion for words has led him to speak fluent Japanese! You can find the book at You can find his professional writing services at

Where Will I Be?

Check my website, for my next engagements.

In November the Payson library is having it first ever mini-comicon. SciFi and Fantasy fans, get ready to head to central Arizona. There’ll be costumes, SciFi and Fantasy panels. I’m excited! I’ll post the date as soon as I have it.

On December 9th I’ll be at the Mesa Book Festival. Get full details at I’ll be in a booth with my author friend, Marsha Ward. Between the two of us, we have a large number of genre’s covered. Come get your Christmas presents and stocking stuffers. The festival runs from 2pm – 8pm.

Newsletter Sign Up:

Click here to sign up for my newsletter. I’ve put sign-up gifts on both the regular and the Brown Rain 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:


Mystery at the Book Festival released June 1st and I’m pretty excited about it. You can buy it and my other books at: Apple, Amazon, Barnes and Noble, Kobo, and Smashwords, today! You can also see all my books on 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.

Chili Cook-Off: Flash Fiction Friday Post

Chili Cook-off

Chili Cook-off

This story is based on my Jean Hays series. For the recipe, go to my blog post Chili Spice Mix, Chicklets in the Kitchen.


Jean and Karen and Karen’s daughter, Peggy, were in the bowling alley bar. Jean sipped her beer. “I haven’t had beer this good since I was in Germany.”

“I’ll have to admit; I do love these craft beers. Clever of the bowling alley to upscale their bar.” Karen poured a second glass from the pitcher on the table.

“Mom, did you read today’s paper?” Margaret drew the twice weekly paper from her tote. “The chili cook-off is in two weeks.” She handed the paper to her mother.

Karen opened it and looked at the community activities section. “Oh, yeah! I haven’t entered that in a few years.” She grinned at Jean. “Want to enter?”

Jean laughed. “The way I cook? What would be the point?”

“Come on. About time you learned to cook the southwest way. That New England boiled dinner stuff has got to go.”

Jean’s mouth fell open. “That’s comfort food, I’ll have you know.”

“Maybe so. But it’s dull. Spice up your life.”

“I don’t know. I suppose I can just open a chili spice packet.”

Both Karen and Peg gasped. “Don’t you dare! I’ll tell the judges and have you kicked out.” Karen shook her head.

“Well then, what do you do?”

“I use my mom’s spice recipe. You’ve had it, by the way. I use it as a dry rub on ribs.”

“Oh, the ones we had last week? Those were wonderful.”

“Good. Go on line, search for chili recipes. Find one that seems good to you. Then go to the store and look at the ingredients in canned or jarred Mexican food. Modify the recipe so it’s yours. Make a test batch or two of chili. Then bring it to the contest.”

Jean snorted. “That’s all, huh?”

“Well, you have to enter the contest now.” The three of them laughed.

The next day Jean went on-line to the contact given and entered the chili cook-off. Then got on her computer to search for recipes. She focused on prize-winning ones. No sense getting just any recipe. After jotting down ingredients from a handful she found she noted that most of them were quite similar. She started a new list, one that contained the same ingredients that they all did. Then Jean considered the differences. It seemed that the small amounts of different herbs and spices were the key. Time to go to the grocery.

She spent some time looking at the canned and jarred prepared Mexican food. Most of it contained the basic flavors she had on her base recipe. A few, however, did go outside of the box. Making notes about those different flavors, she gathered all of the ingredients and went home to whip up a batch of chili spice.

Jean made some averages on measurements. Many of the recipes used almost the same amounts. It was her additions that caused her pause. She decided to base her amounts on the other recipe’s small additions and give it a try.

The first batch was way too hot, as far as she was concerned. She cut back on the ancho peppers. The second batch had too much cilantro. It was the fifth batch that she liked the best. Writing down her recipe, she went back to the store to refresh her supplies. The cook-off was two days away.

She borrowed a crock pot from Karen and carefully transported the chili to the cook-off. It was a fund-raiser so people bought tickets, then after getting one ounce tastes, selected the chili they liked best, second and third, by dropping the tickets into cans at the exit.

Jean and Karen were next to each other and enjoyed talking to all of the people who came by to get a taste of their chili. Chief White, the Greyson Chief of Police came by. “Hi Karen. Glad to see you back. Your chili is always a favorite.” He held his little cup out to Jean. “Glad to see you entering, Jean. Is the chili hot?”

She shrugged. “I’d say medium, but everyone’s taste is different.”

“We’ll see. Later, ladies.”

Karen elbowed Jean. “Two years. Why don’t you ask him out for coffee?”

Jean rolled her eyes. “Oh for gosh sakes. He’s not interested. Remember, he thinks we’re both bubble heads.”

Karen laughed. “Keep telling yourself that.”

Jean was scraping the last half ounce of chili from the crockpot when time was called. Several of the competitors had run out half an hour before. She hoped it was because they’d been too generous or hadn’t brought enough, not that theirs was better.

It took forty-five minutes before the organizers got on the microphone to announce the winners. Jean didn’t know the third place winner, though Karen seemed to and clapped when the guy’s name was announced. Then the announcer said, “And second-place goes to returning cook, Karen Carter!”

Jean jumped up and down and hugged her friend. “How great! And after you’ve been out of it for so long.” Karen went up and got her small trophy and certificate. Jean was looking the prize over when the announcer said, “And this year first-place goes to newcomer Jean Hays!”

Karen hooted in Jean’s ear. “You won!” She jumped up and down. “You won!” She shoved Jean, still shocked, toward the announcer.

Jean stumbled forward, applause washing over her, blushing. The announcer, the head of the organization, held the first prize cup between them as they faced a photographer. Jean smiled and nodded at the congratulations and managed to get “Thank you all so much,” out of her mouth.

At their table, Karen hugged Jean again. “I guess I can’t say you can’t cook anymore.”

Jean shook her head. “I guess not.”


Thank You!

951 Words

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