Memorial Day, Phoenix Comic Fest, Writing: Monday Blog Post

 

Newest News:

Wishing everyone a wonderful Memorial Day. It’s traditional for our American summer season to begin with this weekend. However, let’s take a moment to honor our fallen heroes. After all, they paid for it.

 

Love this woman!

Phoenix Comic Fest is over. I got home last night, exhausted. Today, I feel worn out so after I put all of my expenses and book sales in my financial spreadsheet, I’m writing this post. There may be a nap in my future. I had a great time at the fest. I’ve already bought my table spaces for 2019. Put it on your calendar now but make note, because of legal issues over the word, “comicon” they’ve changed the name to Phoenix Fan Fusion so look for that on-line.

2018 Planner

What are my writing tasks? I have to write a flash fiction story for Friday’s post. I need to continue to clean up my newsletter email list. I need to finish formatting the ebook version of my Gulliver Station book bundle. I need to get the poems I wrote in April, formatted and edited and put into a slim volume. I need to rewrite Mystery at the Reunion. My Jean Hays series fans are begging for the next book. I need to finalize my contest for renaming my serial Slave Elf and get that edited and out of the door. I have a few scifi stories picked from my flash fiction collection that I need to sort, re-edit, and put out as a collection. I’ll probably call it Science Fiction Tales, to go with my Christmas Tales and Halloween Tales books. There’s a lot more but I’ll leave it at that.

Here’s a reminder that privacy policies are being strengthened and updated all over the internet. My site is no exception. I have updated my privacy policy on my Privacy Policy, Terms of Use, and Contest Guidelines page. As always, for both this site and my newsletter, you are always able to unsubscribe at any time. For more information on what I collect or don’t collect or use, check out the Privacy Policy page.

Giveaways:

The 2018 Authors/Bloggers Spring Giveaway at http://conniesrandomthoughts.com/giveaways-and-prizes/ is still running but just for a few more days. So many free books and prizes, you’ll be amazed. Click the link to get to the Rafflecopter.

Shout Out:

A shout out to three of the authors I met at the Phoenix Comic Fest. First was Chuck Wendig. terribleminds.com. I saw him on Thursday afternoon, just before the Exhibits hall opened. He was strolling by, just checking things out. I called him over and we had a nice little chat. Also in the Exhibit Hall with their own tables were Michael A. Stackpole, http://www.stormwolf.com/. A few tables away was Tom Leveen, www.tomleveen.com. Both were really great guys—friendly and personable. I invited both of them to my 2019 Payson Book Festival. We’ll see how things work out.

 

Where Will I Be?

Check my website, http://conniesrandomthoughts.com/where-will-i-be/ for my future engagements.

My next event adventure is the Payson Book Festival. www.PaysonBookFestival.org. We’re completing the final touches and now heavily promoting the festival. It’s again at the Mazatzal Hotel and Casino ballroom. The organizer there is so wonderful to work with, I cannot say. At any rate, we’ll have 80 authors, entertainment, children’s story times (yep, more than one!) and of course the casino has great food in it’s restaurants. Hope to see you there.

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:

Tested released January 31st 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 http://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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Planning or Winging It: Monday Blog Post

Newest News:

Oh my gosh! It’s 2018 and the current topic of conversation in the author sites is planning for 2018. Goal setting is another name. And have you heard about the “word of the year” thing? It’s enough to make your head spin. Bottom line: what do you want for your new year? I usually make this huge, long list of things I want to do and generally, I get it all done. This year, however, I’m going minimalist. I want to do the rewrite and edit on my Zoe Ohale series book 2, Troubled Campus. I wrote the think April 2017. Time to get that bad girl done and out the door. I need to also rewrite and edit Mystery at the Reunion. I only wrote that in November but still—my mystery readers are waiting for it. I have the first book of my All About Bob series written. That was two years ago! But I think I want to write all 5 planned books, get them edited and release them one after the other. That way people who like the series can just dive in. Along with all of that, stop brainstorming my Christmas story and actually write it. Then, I want to release my Gulliver Station series as a box set for both ebook and for paperback. I’ve actually already began that process. Two of the books are reedited and the ebook book set already started on the formatting. Two books down, two to go. Then I have 2 major events and one minor one scheduled. The Phoenix Comicon starting May 24th and the Payson Book Festival, July 21st. My tables are already reserved for both of those. Then I’m scheduled for the Mesa Book Festival, about December 8th. Then, I’m getting healthier. I’ve mentioned I’ve started eating a Paleo diet to help with my Celiac and Hashimoto’s diseases. Food is the key for me. But in addition to eating better, I’ve upped my exercise. I’m already a week in and I can feel that I’ve lost weight.

Finally, there’s that word of the year I mentioned earlier. I started hearing about it last year. You choose the word for the activity or characteristic you want to focus on for yourself during the year. Some people choose FOCUS. Some choose DETERMINATION, or COMPLETION, or any other number of words. For me, I’m choosing FORTUNE. I did some work on this last year but this year, this is my focus. I have a pretty good back list of books. I have some great contacts in the author world. Now to get my stories out in front of you, the reader. What’s it going to take? Extra work in reaching my audiences. Encouragement for readers to leave reviews. Getting my name out in front of the right people for the genres I write. It’s not going to be easy, that much I know but it will be worth it.

http://magikstock.deviantart.com/art/Camel-1-319794644

Saying all of that, I’ve been working on my stand-alone fantasy story, Slave Elf. I’m at 50,000 words, a novel, and I’m loving where this is going. I’m nearing the end but I have one more twist to throw in there before wrapping everything up. It may be another 10k, it may be more, I don’t know but this story has been leading me a merry chase for months now. I hope you’re enjoying it. Once I have it done, I plan on cleaning it up, getting a formal edit and releasing it.

I’ve made a calendar for 2018. It’s for sale at http://www.lulu.com/shop/connie-cockrell/my-calendar-2018/calendar/product-23462179.html. The photos were taken by my husband of places around Arizona where we live and hike. If you haven’t gotten your 2018 wall calendar, check it out. I hope you like it.

It’s officially 20 days until my first Vision Board workshop. I’m getting everything prepared and I’ve already sent out my first emails asking people to come join me. Hoo!

Giveaways:

The Christmas Giveaway is over. There are 70 authors giving away at least two prizes each and there’s $160 in PayPal cash for the grand prize winner. The winners will be notified shortly.

We’ll be starting the Lovestruck Authors and Bloggers Valentine’s Day giveaway in a few days. This is a great way to find new to you authors. Check out http://conniesrandomthoughts.com/giveaways-and-prizes/ 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.

I have a January giveaway, Ring in the New Year with Killer Mysteries, hosted by author Anne R. Tan on BookFunnel.com. https://books.bookfunnel.com/free_mystery. It will run from January 5th to the 21st. Lots of new to you authors are also in the giveaway. Click that link and find some great mystery stories.

Shout Out:

Here’s a shout out to author Abby L. Vandiver. https://www.facebook.com/authorabbyl.vandiver. Abby does a ton of promotional work with other authors, including me! She writes mysteries so if you’re a mystery lover, check out her books.

 

Where Will I Be?

Check my website, http://conniesrandomthoughts.com/where-will-i-be/ for my next engagements.

I’m already scheduled to go to the Phoenix Comicon May24th – 28th.

On July 21st, I’m scheduled for the Payson Book Festival.

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 http://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.

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Merry-Go-Round Blog Tour for February: What Would Be My Dream Writing Retreat?

New York City, Dusk, Lights

The big city by Randy Cockrell

A dream writing retreat? I don’t know. I’m new to writing, as many of you know from reading these posts. I started writing in late 2011. I have a nice set-up in the third bedroom of our house with a main computer, a small TV as a monitor, and a glass-topped desk. But I have been known to hand-write stories in the back seat of our car when we’re on a road trip, in the local coffee shop and even in a tiny notebook in the waiting area of the local tire shop when my car’s tires were being changed out.

But where would I love to be when writing? I would say a busy city street. It could be a café in Paris, a bus stop in New York City, the park in San Francisco. Any of those places would let me see life passing by in front of me. Isn’t that what writing is about? It’s a microcosm of what we see every day but turned, twisted, even. It’s a chance for us to say, What if? What about? How would that turn out?

I love living in the country but with so much space between people it’s harder to see the interactions. In the city though, people rub up against each other like sandpaper. The veneer is rubbed off fast and what’s underneath is the real story. So yeah, I’d say the city, where life is compressed and the action is right at the surface.
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

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Merry-Go-Round Blog Tour: January – New Beginnings

Spring Flowers

Connie’ Flowers by Randy Cockrell

Hello and welcome back to the Merry-Go-Round Blog tour. I hope you’re as excited about the New Year as I am.

I have a number of new projects planned for 2015.

First, I’m finalizing my story, Lost Rainbows. I received the prompt for this last January and a few of my fellow Forward Motion authors took the prompt too. Every story is different though a few of us went with the obvious, a story about leprechauns. While I generally wanted the story to be short, it turned into a novelette, 16,000 + words! I’m in the final stages of editing then I’ll self publish by the end of this month. Oh, I’d better hurry. It’s halfway through January already!

I’m working on a class, How to Write a Series Extended, from Holly Lisle. The class started last June and I’ve written 2 novelettes so far in my series. I call it the Brown Rain series. I hit a real milestone in December as I was catching up on the lessons. I’ve got a loose plan for the third book and I’ve regained the excitement I had at the start of the class. That book will get written this year. It may get published this year, or may not. Depends on when I actually write it.

In November I stepped outside my comfort zone and wrote a cozy mystery. I’ve just started editing it this month. Since finishing those Series classes in December, I’ve gained more enthusiasm for this series, I call it the Jean Hays series, as well. I already have an initial idea for the next book here as well. I’ll use the methods I just learned to flesh out my idea. No idea, though, when I’ll be able to write it. It may end up being drafted in November for my NaNo novel. I’ll see how things work out.

I also want to gather 5-10 of my flashes, do an edit, and put them in a collection to publish. Probably a SciFi/Fantasy collection as I haven’t done one of those yet. What’s nice is that I can expand on the stories. I don’t limit myself to just 1000 words after I’ve posted them as flash fiction stories on my blog. I can flesh them out a little more.

I’ve put up as a goal to publish 6 books this year. So far I’ve talked about 3, so I’ll have to get writing if I’m going to put up half a dozen books.

Other plans, to participate in May’s Story a Day challenge. I seem to be able to write about 10 short stories in that month. Always a good thing as it gives me more fodder to send to contests, submit to e-zines, and add to my own collections.

So that’s it. Lots of work planned. Lots of stories to be written. Tons of fun to be had. Hope your year is as productive as you’d like it to be.
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

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Merry Go Round Blog Tour: December and Where Are My Goals for 2014?

Hit the Target, Grunge, Digital Art,

Hit the Target by ns-dante via www.deviantart.com

My list of goals for 2014, by the month, was extensive. Last year this time I went through the list as though I were reporting accomplishments to my commanding officer. This year, I’m going to be a little less obsessive-compulsive.

What’s been most important? I put six books up for sale. One every other month. This is the 2nd year in a row I’ve done that. Pretty good stat considering I just started writing in 2011.

I’ve been studying the craft. I have a world building class, still in progress and a class on how to write a series, extended version that I have been taking from Holly Lisle. https://howtothinksideways.com/login/  I signed up to take the World Building class then the Series Extended class opened. I’ve been doing the latter and the poor world building class has suffered. I’ll correct it soon, I promise. I also am still struggling through the 2013 Two Year Novel course. I’m tracking the lessons as they come in but I’m woefully behind the curve. The story still isn’t written and most of this year’s lessons are about editing and publishing. I’m not throwing my hands up. My story isn’t bad, it’s just not what I envisioned. I add words to it whenever I get a free writing day and the need to get words on screen is too much to bear. I need to finish it as it’s planned then wait and let it rest. Somewhere out there is the story I actually wanted to tell. It’ll come to me.

I’ve been working on my social media program. Since I publish independently I must work my own advertising/marketing program. Some people think this is a sacrilege. I can only say this. If it isn’t a sacrilege for Stephen King, James Patterson, or Nora Roberts to use the full weight of their publishing houses to advertise their work, why is it a sacrilege for me to use Facebook, Twitter, or Google+ to advertise my work? Anyway. I keep plugging away at making my marketing effective. I’ve taken 2 classes in the last 2 years. This year’s class offered some more detailed instruction. Some of it has been interesting, some seems like spam, some may be useful. I plan on turning my wordpress blog into an actual website in 2015. So beware, there are changes coming.

I am working hard at writing. This is the most important thing to me since my marriage and my daughter’s birth. I want this to work and I want this to be professional. I’m making this claim publicly for the first time since I started writing. I don’t consider this to be a hobby. I’m serious. I’m working hard to improve my writing skills. I hope my followers will help me by participating when I offer chances to interact with me. I’m serious when I ask for your opinion. When I make an offer, take me up on it. It’s real. My goals? I want to be a professional author. Help me make it happen.
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

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Flash Fiction Friday: What’s It All About

The Briefcase by ChaosBang via www.DeviantArt.com

The Briefcase by ChaosBang via www.DeviantArt.com

Carol juggled briefcase, purse, and paper cup of tea as she hurried through the convention center. She didn’t sleep well last night, a combination of strange bed, strange room and city street noise. The convention center was in the middle of the city. So of course, she fell asleep about 3AM.

She had to work her way through the crowds of people wandering between booths before their seminars started. Naturally, she thought. Three people were standing in front of her space when she arrived, all staring at the graphic on the back wall and looking around for help.

“Hi. Sorry I’m late.” She dumped her stuff on the chair in the corner and pulled open the cabinet sliding door. I don’t know why they give me a chair. I never get to sit in it. She pulled the candy dish of chocolate kisses out and with the other hand, the brochure stand and put them on the counter. “Thanks for stopping by.” She pasted on her brightest smile. “What can I do for you?”

Things slowed a little while the attendees were in class but that’s when the exhibitors went booth to booth. They checked out the competition and collected the freebies each booth had. Since she was alone at her company’s booth, she couldn’t walk around but occasionally a vendor rep would wander by or better yet, a company rep that was interested in buying her company’s product. She garnered four sales leads during the day.

After 5PM she put the candy and brochures away. It was time for the dinner and bar scene. She put extra business cards in her suit jacket pocket and headed for the hotel bar. She stopped in the restroom and freshened her makeup, brushed her hair and checked her teeth. I don’t know why I’m bothering, she thought. I haven’t had anything to eat since the free yogurt the venue provided since supper last night. I’m going to have to order an appetizer if the bar doesn’t set something out. Her stomach growled.

By 9PM she was exhausted and her feet felt like bloody stumps but she had eleven more leads. Carol slumped against the elevator wall on the ride to her floor. One more day, then I can go home. She massaged her temples, a hangover from the three glasses of pinot grigio was already forming. Drink more water tomorrow, she thought as she unlocked her room door.

After her shower she called home. “Hey, Honey.”

“Hi, Babe.” Rick’s voice sounded tired. “How ya doin’?”

“I got fifteen leads today. My feet feel like stumps. Otherwise I’m fine. Kids in bed I guess.”

“Yeah, they have half a day at school tomorrow then it’s Thanksgiving break.”

Carol sighed. I should have called them at five before I went to the bar. “That’s OK. I have a 4pm flight. I’ll be home about 10PM. Everything else OK?”

“Mandy and her best friend are fighting,” Rick told her. “And Nick scraped his knee when he wiped out on his skateboard this afternoon.

A wave of guilt swept over her. Mandy will be heartbroken. “Oh no, How’s Mandy doing?”

“She’s mad. I suspect you’ll get an earful at breakfast day after tomorrow.”

“That’s fine. We’ll talk it through. These things happen with ten year-old girls. And Nick?”

Rick laughed. “He has a big band aid on his knee. He can’t wait to go to school tomorrow and show it off.”

She sighed again. “Thank, Hon. I’ll be home tomorrow night. Kiss the kids for me.”

After he said good-night, she clicked off and sank back against the pillows. Hope I can sleep tonight. She turned out the light.

The next day she got to her booth on time but otherwise it was a repeat of the previous day. She confirmed eight of the leads from the night before and gathered six more by the end of the second day. That puts me ahead of the rest of the sales team for November, she thought as she packed the booth up. That pretty much makes me November’s lead sales rep. Nothing is going to happen between now and December unless someone gets very lucky.

On the taxi ride to the airport she stared out of the window at the grim industrial area they drove through. Looks like every other industrial area in any other city, she thought. Mystery warehouses, factories with pipes running all over and steam escaping. She took a deep breath. Carol was tired, tired physically and tired of the constant travel to cities she never really had a chance to see. She wondered why she was doing this.

It was closer to eleven at night than her estimated 10PM when she pulled onto her street. The leaves had fallen from the neighborhood trees in the three days she’d been gone.

Rick came out to the garage just as she opened the trunk. Carol rested her head against his chest and wrapped her arms around him. She inhaled his scent, warm and familiar, and immediately felt at home. He carried her suitcase into their bedroom while she checked on the kids. Nick was sprawled across his bed, blankets tangled around his little body. She pulled his extra blanket over him and kissed him on the forehead. In Mandy’s room Mandy whispered, “Mom?” as Carol kissed her head.

“Right here, Sweetie.”

“Becky isn’t my friend anymore.” He blue eyes looked up at her mother, full of sadness and betrayal.

“I heard. We’ll talk about it at breakfast, OK?”

The girl nodded and snuggled into her blankets. She was asleep again by the time Carol closed the door.

It’s good to be home, she thought as she stepped into her bedroom. I missed it. The deeper question of why she ever left would be considered another day.

 

 

The End

971 Words

Find more of the Forward Motion Flash Friday Group here: http://www.fmwriters.com/flash.html

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Am I Hitting My Goals?

GOAL_by_oscarsnapshotter

GOALby oscarsnapshotter

Photography / Urban & Rural / Gardens, Parks & Cemeteries

It’s been awhile since I talked about my goals for 2014 and how I’m doing reaching them. Let’s check my progress.

I have as a goal every week to post to my blog every Monday and Friday. I missed a Monday in February. Just a lot of stuff on my writing plate and forgot it. However, I haven’t missed a flash fiction story post on any Friday. That makes me happy.  I also update my Facebook author page, ConniesRandomThoughts at least twice per week. That’s good for my readers, you get the latest information. Finally there’s my goal to post something on Google+ and Twitter three times per day. That usually works out unless I’m out all day or I go to bed early. I make it most days.

Lessons are moving along. I am almost caught up with my 2YN lessons. I’m only one behind right now. I also started a new Holly Lisle course, Create a World Clinic. It’s a tough course so I’m moving through the lessons pretty slowly. On the other hand, I’m learning a lot.

As for my writing, I published A New Start on January 31st and have finished editing my draft of The Challenge. It is now with beta readers. The cover for it is finished. I just need it back from the readers so I do the final edits. I should have that ready in time for the late March release. Yay!

My Leprechaun story, Lost Rainbows went too long to be submitted to the Zoo Anthology. So I wrote another story, Color Breakdown, and submitted that. I need a couple more scenes at least to finish Lost Rainbows, one of which is a battle scene. This may take me some time but I hope to release it for the teen or pre-teen market in the fall.  Unfortunately I don’t have any short stories written that I like well enough to submit to the Writer’s of the Future. Maybe next quarter.

I still have to write an article for the Forward Motion ezine Vision For Writers. (Now available on Smashwords! Check it out here.) However, I do have several topics to research and write about. I’ll have something submitted to the ezine soon.

I have not begun outlining stories for the May Story A Day challenge or a novel for April’s Camp NaNo. I do have a couple of book ideas and a few pages of notes for each of them. I might still be able to pull off an April Camp NaNo.

So that’s it. Some wins, some losses. A pretty good record so far for 2014.

If you didn’t sign up for my newsletter this month, you missed out on a giveaway of my newest book, A New Start.  So don’t forget to sign up for my newsletter where you’ll get first dibs on any promotions, book announcements, and other information. Go to the button on the right side of the blog or go to my Newsletter tab to sign up. Or sign up here.

I have an in depth interview on my Smashwords Author page. You can read it here.  Don’t see information about me you’d like to know? Leave me your question in my comments and I’ll try to answer it.

A New Start: A Gulliver Station story released January 31st! I’m pretty excited about it. You can buy at: Apple, Amazon, Barnes and Noble, Kobo, or Smashwords today!

Kobo: Not Available Yet

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A Year in Review 2013

It feels like 2013 has been a wild ride, as far as my writing is concerned. I’ve taken several writing classes this year and I can tell my story telling has improved considerably. I’ve settled into blogging twice per week, on Monday and Friday. That rhythm works for me and I don’t feel like I’m spamming my followers. So here’s how I did.

As far as I can tell I wrote a Flash Fiction Friday story every week and updated my Blog and Facebook Fan page (both titled ConniesRandomThoughts) weekly.  I added a monthly blog post for the Forward Motion site called Merry-Go-Round blog. My post is the 18th of every month. I missed one of those as well.

I started the Y2N class (2 Year Novel) with Lazette Gifford and kept up the weekly lessons until November when the National Novel Writing Month and then the holidays knocked me off track. I’m behind about 8 lessons right now so it’s still possible for me to catch up.

I outlined short stories for May Story A Day challenge. The challenge for this year was to write ten short stories. I managed six last year. I finished the May Story a Day challenge with 12 stories. Not every one of them was a gem but I’ve set them aside to fix them up and publish them. On short stories, I’ve been writing them all year in addition to the Flash Fictions and novels.

In addition, I began revising my November 2012 NaNo story, TriPoint Station. I had to rename it: Gulliver Station, Hard Choices and began outlining the first book in the series, Gulliver Station: A New Start, in Scrivener. The series continues with The Challenge, drafted in July and Revolution, drafted in November.

I struggled with Scrivener. I’m still a beginner and am pretty sure I’m not using a fraction of the tools available to me in the program.  Other programs I’ve learned this year are Gimp and SketchUp. The last two I use to make my own book covers. Thank goodness my husband loves to take pictures. His pictures are used on my covers.

I also wrote, How To Design an ebook Cover. That became my Vision submission for August. My submission in December to Vision was, Gerunds, the -ing words. Funny story. The Gerund article came about through a short story critique. One critiquer mentioned that I used too many gerunds. High School English class was a long time ago. The research I did to fix that problem became the article. Thanks to the critique, my writing is now stronger.

My goal for 2013 was to publish 4 books.  I epublished, A Trio of Animal Tales in January. Recall revision was finished in February! I decided to self publish. I published it May 27th. I continued to revise stories for a collection I called Halloween Tales and wrote a fifth one so there would be 5 stories in the book. Release was the 30th of September.  I released Christmas Tales November 17th. It was a little stressful, releasing a book in the middle of NaNo but I managed to get it done.

My story After The Storm was rejected by Orson Scott Card’s Intergalactic Medicine Show magazine so I submitted it to Asmiov’s Science Fiction and Fantasy magazine, where it was rejected also.  I entered a Scribophile contest with Generation Bug and was not selected as the winner but I had enough confidence in the story to enter it in the Writers of the World contest for the 3rd quarter. I did not win. I sent Where the Brown Things Are to WotF (World of the Future: a science fiction magazine that has a quarterly contest to select the best stories for the mag.) I wasn’t supposed to find out until January if I won but they worked fast and I found out I was not accepted in December. Sigh. I’ll try and write something to submit in January. I submitted a story, The Reunion, to a contest held by the Southwest Authors. I found out in October that I did not win that one either. I still haven’t heard back from the Tucson Festival of Books (The Reunion) or the Arizona ONE-BOOKAZ Goes Digital eBook Writing Competitions  (Generation Bug) on my submissions. I’m going to cross my fingers. I also have Someone Else is Living Here out to the Writer’s Digest Short Short Story Competition. I’ll hear from them in February 2014.

On a positive note, I submitted a short story, Dogs and Cats, to the Forward Motion site, http://www.fmwriters.com/zoomfm/, for their 2013 Anthology, Cats Eyes. The story was accepted and came out in September. https://authorcentral.amazon.com/gp/books/book-detail-page?ie=UTF8&bookASIN=1493638475&index=default

My story, Just Add Copper, was submitted to the How To Think Sideways Anthology, The Adventure of Creation, and accepted in June. The anthology was published in mid-August. Some great short stories in various genre’s by some great authors. http://www.amazon.com/Adventure-Creation-Foreword-Sideways-Anthology/dp/3956810007/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1378051491&sr=1-1&keywords=The+Adventure+of+Creation

I participated in the April Camp NaNo and wrote the first draft of Gulliver Station: A New Start. I’ve signed up on a different site, http://julnowrimo.com/ for my July efforts. Several of my Forward Motion friends love the site so I thought I’d try it out for the next book in the Gulliver series. The big news in November, was of course, National Novel Writing Month (NaNo for short). I drafted out the last of the Gulliver Station series, Revolution.

I signed up for and completed a Holly Lisle Flash Fiction course. That generated 5 flash fiction stories for May Story a Day. Lazette Gifford’s SciFi Class was not announced, so that goal was deleted. I  listened to a webinar with Guy Kawasaki, hosted by CreateSpace. The seminar, How to Sell More Books with Social Media ran 1hour and 13 minutes. It’s on YouTube: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=135KGCLqC6Q The third class of the year was, Mugging the Muse by Holly Lisle, https://howtothinksideways.com/. I learned a lot about myself and how to write better. If you’re a new writer or an experienced author, check out her courses. Some are even free! The fourth class was on marketing for my books. I looked at some free training video’s by Jeff Walker, recommended by Holly Lisle. I was not able to take his course. But, based on the free information he published, Holly put together an author-centric, free, self-monitored course on marketing. Which resulted in a Holly Lisle class she calls, The Ugly Baby Workshop, a marketing type course. One of the items in that challenge is to release a book. My Christmas book was that project. The course is about how to do a new product launch, so the book and the below domain name are part of that launch.

I joined the July promotion on Smashwords.com with my book, Recall. It was a month long promotion, free to download. It was downloaded a lot, which was encouraging. The hope was they’ll like the book enough to come back and buy one of my other books. At the end of December, I haven’t seen that happen. Something to consider for 2014.

Using the Guy Kawasaki information from July, I began a marketing campaign to post regularly, twice per day on Twitter (@ConnieCockrell) and Google+. That’s been going well. I find something fun or interesting or cute or about my book(s) or someone else’s book coming out and post. In December I began making a late night post, 9 or 10pm that may reach the Asian market. Who knows if getting my name out there will generate sales, but a Google+ and a tweet only take a minute or two. I’ll see over the next few months if anyone from the Asian region begins following my blog or Facebook page.

Based on the marketing classes I took some steps to improve my professional presence. I took the plunge and bought a domain name and set up my own publishing house: 2ndWindPress.com.  What was exciting was filling out the on-line form. It asked for my organization and my position. I, with more than a bit of a thrill, typed in 2ndWindPress and Publisher. I know, I’m easily entertained, but my heart actually beat faster.

I went to the local Chamber of Commerce and got my Doing Business As (DBA) form. How did this affect me? I have a nifty logo and publishing house name to add to the spine of my books. It sets me up as a professional. It confirms that I’m serious about my writing and getting my books published.

I made quite a few changes to my blog as part of my new marketing plans. I changed the background color from boring gray to a more festive Autumn color. I added some new links to friend’s blogs and a sign up for a newsletter for my fans. Followers get first dibs on any promotions, book announcements, and other information. They can go to the button on the right side of the blog or go to my Newsletter tab to sign up. To make that happen I had to sign up for Mail Chimp.  I also updated my Google+ page and my Twitter account. If you aren’t a follower or friend on those sites I’m looking to build my communities there as well.

Late in November I took on a Chuck Wendig challenge on his blog, www.terribleminds.com. Participants write a 200 word section of a story each week. The first week you create your own 200 word beginning and post it. The next week one or more participants pick a beginning not their own and add another 200 words. By the end of week 5, each participant will have worked on 5 different stories in 200 word increments, making a 1000 word finished story. I participated each week. I posted each story on my blog in the Friday Flash Fiction spot. I plan on going back to the Chuck Wendig site and find the completed stories I contributed to and post them on my blog in January.

This has been a long post. I’m actually surprised at the number of classes I’ve taken (5) and stories and books written and released. (1 novel and 3 collections published and over 96 stories and novels written). It’s been a full and fruitful year. I hope yours was too.

I wish you all a very happy, productive New Year!

Don’t forget to sign up for my newsletter where you’ll get first dibs on any promotions, book announcements, and other information. Go to the button on the right side of the blog or go to my Newsletter tab to sign up. http://conniesrandomthoughts.us7.list-manage.com/subscribe?u=8c24bb15bdf9245512f722298&id=0a097feea0

I have an in depth interview on my Smashwords Author page. You can read it here: https://www.smashwords.com/interview/conniecockrell  Don’t see information about me you’d like to know? Leave me your question in my comments and I’ll try to answer it.

Links to Christmas Tales and which will lead you to my author page on each site where my other published work is available:

Apple: https://itunes.apple.com/us/book/christmas-tales/id761282885?mt=11Kobo: http://store.kobobooks.com/en-US/ebook/christmas-tales-3

Amazon: http://www.amazon.com/Christmas-Tales-Connie-Cockrell/dp/1494200570/ref=la_B009O6199C_1_4?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1385963121&sr=1-4

Barnes and Noble: http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/christmas-tales-connie-cockrell/1117497310?ean=9781494200572

Kobo: http://store.kobobooks.com/en-US/ebook/christmas-tales-3

Smashwords: https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/379010

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Friday Flash Fiction: FTL Dilemma

How about a SciFi story for today?

FTL Dilemma

Aubrey sank to the floor of the engine room. He’d just put the last body in the maw of the main recycler. He leaned his head against the bulkhead and closed his eyes. Two hundred and three bodies. He ran a hand through his curly black, close cropped hair and groaned. Every muscle hurt. He struggled to his feet. It was time to check on the kids.

Patyn Polanski was the oldest of the three remaining children. At thirteen, she helped him get water and food to the other two but she was newly recovered herself. When he entered the cabin, she was asleep. The ten year old Hal Corliss was asleep too; arm thrown over his black-haired head and so was eight year old Bree Webber. Her long blonde hair a tangle spread across her pillow. The kids knew each other, but he didn’t really know them. Twenty-two years old, he didn’t hang with the kids anymore.

He left the cabin and went to the galley. He needed some broth and time to rest. Two days ago Aubrey managed to find the dehydrated stock, added it and water to a pot, and left it in the galley. Patyn could just get some, heat it and give it to the others. He scooped a mugful and heated it in the microwave then slipped into a chair to drink it. He jumped at her voice.

“Is it done?” Patyn leaned against the edge of the galley door. She had dark circles under her eyes. Her shoulder length, dark brown hair was nearly as tangled as Bree’s.

Aubrey motioned her to a chair. “Yeah. Just finished. Want some broth?”

She nodded as she slid into the chair opposite him. He levered himself up and got her a mugful and sat it on the table.

“Have you told the kids?” he asked.

She shook her head as she held her face in the steam from the cup. “They barely wake up. I gave them some broth and they went right back to sleep.” She looked up at him, concern on her face. “Can you fly the ship?”

“I think so.” He drained his mug and put it back down. “I’ve had my turn at the controls like everyone else.” He sighed. “That’s next; to go to the bridge and get us to the nearest station. I need to sleep first.”

“I’ll be with the kids till you get up.”

#

Aubrey sat in the Captain’s chair where very system on the bridge could be accessed. He pulled up the operations manual and reviewed the checklist for starting the engines. Patyn wandered in.

“Is it alright that I’m on the bridge?” she asked from just inside the doorway.

He turned to look at her. “Why not. All the rules are out the lock now anyway.” He went back to the manual.

She came in and sat in the Communications chair.

“Do you have any training on the bridge yet?” he asked her.

“No. I just started Ship Systems training, in the galley.”

“Too bad.” He took a deep breath. “I’m going to start this baby up.” He punched a number of buttons on the board in front of him. He checked the manual to be sure he had the sequence right. “Here’s the last button.” Aubrey punched it and waited.

Patyn looked around. “Should we feel the engines working?”

Aubrey rubbed his face with both hands. “Yeah, something’s wrong.”

She paled, eyes wide.

“It’ll be alright. The Chief Engineer probably did something. I’ll call up the Engineering manual and look for it.”

She swallowed and nodded. “I’ll check on the kids.”

An hour later, Aubrey stumbled into the galley. He made a sandwich and dropped into the nearest chair to eat it. Patyn was watching from a nearby table, a sandwich in front of her too.

“What’s wrong?” she asked.

He chewed and swallowed. “I can’t find the problem. I was too hungry to think.” He took another bite. “How are the kids?”

“Awake. I put a vid on for them.”

He nodded and finished his sandwich. “Can you leave them for a few minutes?”

“Yeah. I’ll check on them then I’ll be ready.” She wiped the table in front of her with the napkin and shoved it into the kitchen recycler.

Aubrey got a glass of water and drank it down. She was back in four minutes. “They’re fine. I told them I had to help you.”

He turned his gaunt face to her. “You told them about the rest of the family?”

Patyn rubbed an eye. “Yeah, they said they knew.”

He wondered how they knew but the kids always seemed to know what was going on with the ship. He sighed. “Let’s go to Engineering.”

At the Chief Engineer’s console, Aubrey brought up the manual. “I was hoping the Chief would have left a note or something. Check his log, can ya?”

She slid into the second console chair and tapped out commands. “I see an Engineer Log,” she told him. “I can’t open it.”

Aubrey switched screens. “Let me try from here.” He tapped a few keys. “I see it but it won’t open.” He slumped back into the chair. “It’s password protected.”

“I was hoping it would open from that console,” she said.

They sat, shoulders drooping, staring at the screens. “How did you get into the Captain’s files?” she asked after a minute.

“The manual had an emergency code, you know,” he snorted, “in case of catastrophic emergency.”

“Will the same code work on the Engineer’s files?” she asked.

He brightened. “Let’s see.” He tapped the code into the log in. He whooped. “It’s open!”

Patyn grinned.

He punched several keys on the console. They felt the reassuring vibration of the huge engines starting up. “I didn’t realize I was missing that sound,” he said as he watched the monitor show engine performance steady into the green. “Tell the kids we’re going to be alright.”

997 Words

Find more of the Forward Motion Flash Friday Group here: http://www.fmwriters.com/flash.html

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MGR Tour: Inspiration

Inspiration is a funny thing. There are a lot of connotations to the word, inspire.

I could be talking to someone and say “You inspire me.” That person lives their life in a way that makes me want to do the same. They’re generous, or they’ve overcome extreme hardship in their life but it hasn’t made them angry or bitter.

Then there’s the way a writer thinks about inspiration. That’s the flow of ideas, concepts, tiny bits of what if. An example. A few months ago a blogger put up a picture of a bench that he’d taken. In the background was an old abandoned factory. Weeds were evident around and between the bench and the factory. He posted the picture, one he’d taken himself, as a writing prompt. I’ve been saving that post and a few days ago I pulled that picture out and wrote a Halloween type flash fiction story to that prompt. You could say I was inspired.

In interviews I hear reporters ask the interviewee, usually an author or artist, “So what inspires you?” I hope no one ever asks me that question because to be honest, I don’t know how to answer. “Nothing? Everything? The sun, the moon, the stars? A bench sitting in front of an abandoned building?”

As to writing books, I think my favorite is whatever one I’m currently studying. Each time I pick one up, a particular aspect of the advice pops front and center. Some tidbit is relevant to me in my particular point of ability. What is it that’s most important to me in my writing right this moment. As I grow as an author, that relevance is going to shift. Right now advice about how to write a full, rich paragraph that gets into the charater’s situation using showing not telling. That’s what I’m working on now so other aspects of good writing aren’t catching my eye. Oh yes, they’re all important, but my brain can only absorb so much at once. So, for the moment, showing not telling is my focus.

The Oxford English Dictionary defines inspiration as a sudden, brilliant or timely idea. In the Forward Motion group, we call those plot bunnies: story ideas that pop into our heads in the middle of mundane conversations, while doing housework, standing in line at the supermarket or mowing the lawn.

As to who is my inspiration, it’s my mom, my husband, my daughter. Where would I be without them?

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!

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