Fire! Christmas Gifts, Book Festival: Monday Blog Post

By Randy Cockrell

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Fire! By now everyone knows that California is in severe distress from fire. My daughter lives in Oxnard, right next to Ventura where the Thomas fire is creating havoc and devastation. She and her roommate are under a prepare to evacuate notice. The air is too thick with smoke to breathe and as a mother, I’d just as soon she come here until the danger is over. But, she’s volunteering at the Ventura Fair Grounds where the county has set up an emergency animal shelter, despite the fact that a section of the city was burned. I know many of you also have friends and/or family in southern California that you are worried about. We send prayers of hope that the courageous firefighters can get these fires under control and that no one else has to perish.

Photo by Randy Cockrell

I don’t know where the year has gone but I was not prepared for December and Christmas. Anyone? Anyone? I had no idea what to get my husband. He’s the sort that when he wants something, if we can afford it, he just gets it. Frustrating. Anyway, I have thought of a few things for him and have gotten them and wrapped them and put them under the tree. All the decorating I’m going to do is done. All the holiday baking and candy-making is done, and packages have been mailed to family. Now it’s time for the party rounds to start. I love this time of year and can’t wait to hang with friends over bring-a-dish buffets and the New Year’s Eve party my friend Karen always has.  I hope you’re preparations are going well.

On my Vision Board business, I’ve been locating supplies, gathering magazines and think I’ve found a venue where I can hold it for not a lot of money. I still need to call the place but unless they’re booked, I should be booked this week. Women I’ve talked to about getting their magazines have expressed interest in the workshop. I’ve priced materials like poster board, glue, glue brushes, scissors, and other materials I’ll need to conduct the workshop. So, I’m moving forward and eager to do my own vision board.

Me, Story Monster and Marsha at the Mesa Book Festival

I attended the Mesa Book Festival Saturday with my friend Marsha Ward. I found out when I was there that it was their first one! It was well organized, and the weather cooperated with us. A lovely 75 degrees or so and no wind. Several of the Payson Book Festival authors were there and many from Marsha’s ANWA (Arizona Night Writers Association) member were there as well. Also there was Story Monster, a regular attendee at the Payson Book Festival. We talked with so many readers! It was a great day.


Starting December 1st, the Roses and Dreams Christmas 2017 Facebook event began. This is a combo event. FIRST EVENT will be a featured author each day. 23 authors in total (1 each day) who will introduce themselves and their books. Competitions and giveaways at their discretion. 45 minutes with any winners notified the next day. I was scheduled for Sunday December 3rd at 1:30PM Arizona time (8:30pm London time) on, for 45 minutes with games and book talk.

The SECOND EVENT will be our showcase and we are very excited to announce it. You’ve heard of the Eurovision song contest well now (drumroll please) we’d like to present World Bookovision (#WorldBookovision).

How does it work?

Two weeks starting Monday 4th December (Monday to Friday)

Week one a poll will be pinned with that week’s participating authors. Each day three authors will have a thousand words of one of their books posted (We will post it in the morning) and people get to vote on which ones they like. You can vote more than once. At the end of the week, the two people with the highest votes will go through to the final.

Week two follows the same pattern and the two with the highest votes will go through to the final.

On the week commencing 18th December, the four finalists will showcase the next thousand words of the same book and a new poll will be posted. At the end of the week, the poll will close and one author will win. The author will receive two weeks’ worth of social media advertising from Su and Maria. The winner will provide a copy of that book as a prize (print or e-book) and this will be presented to the person who has participated most in voting. If there are more than one, then we will put them into a draw and the winner will be picked randomly. I’m in this WorldBookovision on Thursday the 14th with 1000 words of one of my stories and I’d appreciate a vote!

Throughout the day we will also post lots of Christmas fun. Come and join us as a reader or a participating author.

The Christmas Giveaway has begun. There are 70 authors giving away at least two prizes each and there’s $160 in PayPal cash for the grand prize winner. Check out and click on the Rafflecopter link to enter the new contest. Books, ebooks, jewelry and more is being given away. You don’t want to miss out.

Shout Out:

Author Kebba Buckley Button

Kebba Buckley Button was a 2017 Payson Book Festival author and was also at the Mesa Book Festival with me on the 9th. She is an ordained minister and former engineering manager, a Masters’ Degree scientist, award-winning author and corporate stress management trainer. Rev. Kebba Buckley Button creates books and programs that help people live with both the vitality and inner peace they have been seeking.  For spiritual people who ache for self-calming, Kebba wrote Peace Within. For those who want an easy how-to for meditation, she created Sacred Meditation. For anyone who wants to trade in their stress for energy and joy, the answers are in Discover the Secret Energized You.  Yes, you can enjoy life!  You can find out more at

to one day work full time as an author, since there are many, many stories playing out inside her head.


Where Will I Be?

Check my website, for my next engagements.

My book events for the year are now completed. Enjoy your holidays and come back in January to see the 2018 line-up.

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.

Flash Fiction Friday: Out of the Ashes

Phoenix by FleetingEmber via

Phoenix by FleetingEmber via

On June 6th, Chuck Wendig issued a challenge, Write a flash story that in some way relates to the fabled Phoenix of legend. Here’s my take. Click on the link and view the blog comments to see what other authors have done with the story. I think you’ll like them.

Out of the Ashes

“This tower is on the top of an extinct volcano,” the fire tower keeper, Brigette, explained to the group of nine 4-H members and their leader.

The kids ooh’d and eyebrows went up as mouths fell open.

One girl asked, “Will the volcano erupt again?”

Brigette shook her head. “The region has quieted. There probably won’t be another volcano here, ever.”

The kids looked reassured. That was just before the ground rumbled and the tower began to sway.

“What the…” she started to swear but thought better of it with all the kids around. What’s going on? This area is seismically stable. “Get down the ladder,” she yelled as the radios began to slide across the table and the humming bird feeders swung wildly in the air.

Kids ran down the ladder, the 4-H leader encouraging the ones who were frozen with fear.

“Let’s go sweetie.” Brigette took the hand of a little boy who was staring, wide-eyed. “Come on, we need to get down the stairs.” She pulled him toward the hole in the tower floor. The sound of the descending Leader and children echoed up the industrial steel steps.

They were half way down the tower when she saw her house begin to crumble. The ground was shaking and the kids already on the ground screamed. Brigette saw several of them fall. The tower swayed over her. “Let’s go, kid.” He latched onto the hand rail and wouldn’t move.

She grabbed his wrist and pulled. They had to hurry; she didn’t know how much longer the tower would stand in all the shaking. She half carried, half dragged the boy down three more circles of the stairs, the tower creaking from every rivet joint. Brigette dragged him to the Leader and turned to watch her house. The roof was caving in, the walls were tipping into the middle of the house. Boards snapped, glass shattered and the collapsing walls and roof roared. A huge cloud of dust rose over the house.

The Leader was piling kids into the mini-van. “Get in,” she said. “I’ll drive us down the mountain.”

Brigette shook her head. “No, my car seems fine. You go. I’ll be right behind you.”

The Leader shrugged and jumped into the car. “Buckle up everyone.” She did a three-point turn in the van and raced along the dirt road, dirt from her tires fountained into the air. Brigette raced to her car. At the door, she realized there was more to the noise of the house collapsing than just the wood and the glass.

She stared at the house. Is that roaring? Brigette opened the car door, the ding, ding, ding of the keys in the ignition alarm could hardly be heard. It looked like the house was trying to stand back up. “What…?”

As she watched, debris rose up and slid away from the house. A claw, the size of bus came out of the middle, shoving bits of wall and plaster out of the hole, then another, followed by a beak. Brigette blinked. A head poked up covered in red and gold feathers. It screeched as it pulled itself out of the ruin. As the sunlight hit the feathers, they began to light; waves of fire covered the monstrous bird.  A bit of egg shell flared into flame and fell off of the bird’s body.

Brigette got in the car and turned the key. The engine turned over and the bird turned its black eyes toward the noise. It screamed again. Chills ran down her spine as she shoved the gear shift into drive. “Holy crap,” she whispered as the giant bird spread its wings over the remains of her house. It flapped once, twice, screeching each time. Heat washed over her.

She sped out of the gate and followed the dirt road down the mountain as fast as she could negotiate the hairpin turns. At the nearest Forest Service office she tried to make a report. They were too busy. The area she’d just left was enveloped in forest fire. On the TV, there were reports of a giant bird flying overhead.

A reporter was interviewing an ornithologist from the University. “It’s a Phoenix,” he told the camera.

“But those are a myth,” the reporter said.

“Apparently not. From the maps, it appears that the bird has risen from an ancient volcano. That would seem appropriate, given its fire background.”

Brigette stared. A Phoenix? The whole southwest is going to burn. She grabbed a Ranger, “The TV says it’s a Phoenix. Look!” She pointed at the television. Pictures of the beast were being shown as people took pictures of it from the ground. Later in the day Emergency Defense offices opened. People were told to evacuate. The Governor appeared on TV during a phone call to the President. Aid in the form of the Air Force and Emergency Management was promised.

The next day there were reports of other Phoenix’ arising from extinct and dormant volcanoes around the world. It was now an International emergency. With only the clothes on her back, Brigette drove to Nebraska; an old college friend lived there, far away from any volcanic activity.

A year later, people huddled in caves or collapsed stone buildings, the land around them burnt and blasted. Brigette and her friend had joined forces with a few other survivors. They had a garden started and life was settling in. They learned to set snares for rabbits, no one wanted to be outside where a Phoenix, high in the sky, could see them and swoop down. The Phoenix were excellent hunters, people didn’t roam too far away from stone shelters.

One of the survivors told a child. “We thought they were a fable, a myth. They rise from the ashes, we were taught.”

Brigette stirred the communal pot of soup. “I wish they’d go back to the ashes.”


The End

998 Words

Find more of the Forward Motion Flash Friday Group here:

Flash Fiction Friday: The Signal Fire

Altan stood on the hilltop, wrapped in his cloak against the chill night wind. It was summer but up here, the wind blew cold, especially at night. It was midnight, nearly time for his relief, Bora, to come up. As the Chief of the Watch, he could have taken the day watch but he liked the night. It was peaceful and quiet, just him and the stars. He checked the signal fire pile, everything was in readiness. The brazier held coals, ready for him to thrust the torch into, and it helped to keep the watcher warm. All was ready for Bora.

As he stood, watching to the north where the next signal fire was, Altan could hear Bora coming up the hill. The Visigoths were on the move, he’d heard from the runners carrying messages to the Roman fort at Demre to the south. He hoped they’d decide to attack to the east going to the Black Sea but he knew that was a futile thought. Demre was a port town at the east end of the Mediterranean, near the straights leading to the Black Sea. It was a ripe target, one they wouldn’t pass up.

Bora was close. Altan could hear his breathing and dislodged rocks rolling down the hill. He stared to the north, there! The signal fire was lit; he could see the sparks flying into the night sky.

“Bora!” Altan called out to his friend. “Hurry, the signal fire has been lit!”

Bora came crashing up the remainder of the hill, panting up behind his leader. “Where?”

Alton shook his head, barely visible in the half moon light. “It was lit, Bora. It was!”

They knew the danger. “Are you sure?” Bora strained to see into the darkness.

Altan sighed. “I’m sure.”

“It’s not there, Altan.” Bora’s heavy breathing from his run up the hill was quieting but the worry was in his voice.

“It was there, Bora. I saw it lit. Then, just before you crested the hill, it was gone.”

Bora wrapped his cloak tighter. “An accident. They lit the pyre by accident.”

Altan scratched at his beard. “Perhaps. The Roman runner said the Visigoths were on the move. What if they are at the mountain? What if the watchers lit the fire but the Visigoths put it out before it caught well.”

“What if it was an accident, Altan? The Romans won’t be happy to be pulled out of the garrison and run up here if it was a false signal.”

He turned to Bora, “What if the signal was over run? The Visigoths could be headed here now. They move fast, they could be here by tomorrow evening. Our families would be killed, and no signal would warn Demre. The town could be overrun.”

Bora kicked the wood at the edge of the pyre. “True.” He looked up into Altan’s face, “You must decide. Quickly.”

Altan chewed on a ragged thumbnail. “A signal fire is worthless if it isn’t used in time. Light the fire. If I’m wrong, I’ll deal with the Romans when they get here. If I’m right, Demre will have a chance.”

Bora thrust the torch into the brazier. It sprang to flame and he touched it to the pyre. They stepped back as it roared to life.

The End

550 Words

Find more of the Forward Motion Flash Friday Group here: