How I did in August and September’s Goals

Goal setting helps me keep on track with my writing. I established monthly goals in January and I try to report back to you all every month, just to keep myself honest. So here’s how it went.


– Write 4 Flash Fiction Friday Stories (one per week)

I did well, all four were done and posted on

– Update my Blog and Facebook Fan page (Both are titled ConniesRandomThoughts) weekly

Also completed, though I did miss August’s Merry-Go-Round Blog tour post on the 18th.

– Participate in August Camp NaNo

There was no August Camp NaNo. It was held in July and I did participate and win.

– Begin revising short stories

Did revise two. Dogs and Cats (see below in August’s Other Stuff, and The Reunion, and submitted that to the Southwest Authors contest. I’ll find out late September or October how I did with that.

– Submit TriPoint to publishers or self-publish

I’m still revising it. Changed the station’s (and series!) name to Gulliver Station. The  manuscript I’m working on, Hard Choices, (turns out to be the third book in the series) was drafted last November. I had to take time and work out all the science and make drawings of each level of the station.  It’s hard being a space station designer. To make it more difficult, all the measurements in the station are in metric. Ugh, math has never been my strong suite. However, now that all of that is finished, the other 3 books will be easier. Two are already drafted and the last one will be drafted in November.

-Other stuff

1. Did a class called Mugging the Muse by Holly Lisle,, and 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!

2. Submitted a short story, Dogs and Cats, to the Forward Motion site,, for their 2013 Anthology, Cats Eyes. The story was accepted!

3. My story, Just Add Copper, was submitted to the How To Think Sideways Anthology, The Adventure of Creation, and accepted back in June. The anthology was published in mid-August. Some great short stories in various genre’s by some great authors.


– Write 4 Flash Fiction Friday Stories (one per week)

– Update my Blog and Facebook Fan page (Both are titled ConniesRandomThoughts) weekly

– Continue to revise short stories

– Pull together an anthology of scary stories to release late September or early October for Halloween (This means revise all of the scary stories I already have, write more if needed, create a book cover, and format the book on both CreateSpace and Smashwords. Let’s see if I can get that all done!)

– Begin outline for November NaNo

I’ve got a lot to do, so I’d better stop talking about it and get on with it.

Just a reminder, my latest book, Recall, is on at

Flash Fiction Friday: Parcel 172

Another one of the stories I worked on while taking the Holly Lisle class: How to write Flash Fiction the Doesn’t Suck. ( Farming is so integral to a happy and sustainable life that I’m sure it will travel with us to the stars. Along with all of the  problems we have here.

Parcel 172

“Jake! Glad to see ya. Is that your bid?”

I handed the envelope over to Mike, the colony Land Agent.

“Yeah, parcel 172. I’d like to farm it.” I grew nervous when his face went blank. “What’s wrong?”

He looked around the office. The other agent was talking on his communicator. “The Peabody Family is bidding on that parcel too.”

My heart fell, what chance did I have against the Peabodys? “They own everything already! Can’t they let someone else have their dream?”

He shrugged.

Over the next week Jake found nearly everyone trying to convince him to pull his bid. Even people he barely knew were stopping him in the stores or on the street. He told them all the same thing. “My bid’s as good as theirs.”

The following week he found that items he wanted in the store were no longer available, at least to him. Shipments disappeared, the farmer he was working for let him go. “John,” Jake pleaded outside the John’s barn. “It’s harvest! I know you need me.”

“You’re right, Jake.” John examined his boots. “But I have to let you go.”

His parents spoke to him over dinner. “Withdraw your bid son,” his father said over coffee while his mother was still in the kitchen. “They’re going after your mother. She was let go from the clinic.”

As she came into the dining room to pick up the rest of the plates, he could see she’d been crying. “I have a right to bid on that land. They know the colony wants more farms. They’re afraid they won’t win the bid because they just want another vacation home.”

His mother stopped stacking plates. “Don’t you give up, son,” she glared at her husband. “This will all die down after the bids are final. Keep to your dream.”

The next week he stopped by his fiancee’s house. Glenna met him on the porch. “I can’t go out with you tonight, Jake.”

“Is your Mom, OK?” Jake asked in alarm, “Your Dad?”

She twisted her hands together. “They’re fine, Jake.” She took a step back. “I can’t see you anymore. The pressure is too much. Both Mom and Dad’s jobs have been threatened.” Tears began to run down her cheeks. “We can’t take anymore.” She turned and fled into the house.

The day of the winning bid announcement came. Jake and his parents were in front of the courthouse. The Peabodys arrived in force with the Colony Governor. His heart fell. They’re in tight with the Governor. The bid’s been rigged. He stood taller, bracing himself for a loss. The crowd moved closer to the courthouse steps as the Governor stepped forward, “I cannot over emphasize the need for more farmers and farms on our colony,” he began. “Therefore, I grant Jake Olsen, the winning bid to parcel 172. That location will make a great farm.”

The End

481 Words

Find more of the Forward Motion Flash Friday Group here:

Flash Fiction Friday: Adoption

Another of my writing exercises from the How to Write Flash Fiction that doesn’t Suck! A SciFi take on another sort of rebellion. See my post from July 5th, for my first take on this theme.


My family looked across the kitchen table in amazement. “You did what?” my sister squeaked.

“I decided to accept Klapah’s offer to adopt me.”

“Why?” my mother asked, her voice was tight. I knew she was trying not to cry.

“Because until we have the ability to make the rules, we’ll always be oppressed,” I crossed my arms over my chest. I knew I was right, and I’d made up my mind.

The training was brutal. Technologically superior, the Kalan had over run our planet. They took what they wanted and made the population near slaves. Before the adoption, I had to become one of them; customs, courtesies, and language; that was the hardest. All of those glottal stops. It took three years. The ceremony was held in the village square. My wagon was pelted by rotten fruit and names like traitor were spat in my direction by my old friends and neighbors.  Custom required my family be present to hand me over to Klapah.

Dad was stiff faced but Mom cried a river. I tried to talk to my sister before the ceremony. “Lois, can you wish me well?”

She glared. “You’re just looking for the easy life. You think the child price Klapah paid is enough to keep Mom from weeping every night? The money will buy us some comfort, yes. But at what cost? Nothing will change for us.” She turned her back on me.

At the ceremony their part was brief. Walk across the square with me between them. Dad placed my hand in Klapah’s. They went back to the human side of the square.


It wasn’t easy. Most Kalan believed we were inferior. Families adopting human children lost significant status.

My classmate, Kor, sat across the classroom. He sniffed the air. “Something rank in the classroom again today,” his gold eyes focused in my direction. He snorted, “Must be something I picked up on my sandal from the human ghetto.”

It was on me to ignore the insult. Any show of emotion would have them report my breach of conduct to the Council. I schooled my face; they saw only a placid exterior. “Perhaps one should take more care with one’s personal hygiene.”

The other Kalan students chittered at my point. The one other human in the room, a young man my age, took care not to laugh but I saw the corners of his mouth twitch.


I spent my entire adult life increasing the number of human adoptees, to battle to make Humans the equals of Kalans.

Fifty years later, I was a matriarch in the Kalan society on the planet. I married my old classmate, had children, and raised them as Kalan. I was at the Assembly when my son, the Speaker, implemented the new law making Humans the equal of the Kalan.

The End

472 Words

Find more of the Forward Motion Flash Friday Group here:

Flash Fiction Friday: The Last Straw

Another of my writing exercises from the How to Write Flash Fiction that doesn’t Suck! I’m sure many people can relate to this woman’s need to find a new job.

The Last Straw

I was just sinking my toes into warm, powdery sand, a cold drink being handed to me by a very fit young man when…”Ann! Are you with us?”

I jerked back to my reality, the boss glaring at me from the end of the conference room table.

“As I was saying,” he moved his glare around the room, “it’s all hands on deck. This proposal isn’t going to write itself. All vacations are hereby cancelled until after the presentations.”

My heart fell and it felt like the room went dark. I’d been planning my South Pacific beach get away for over a year. I already had my plane tickets and hotel reservations for two weeks from now. “But…,” every head in the room snapped around and every eye focused on me.

“Yes, Ann?” He looked at me as though I were an éclair, the fat slob.

“Um, what about the employees who’ve made plans?” I looked around the table for some support but no one was stepping up. “Uh, they’ve bought tickets and stuff,” I finished lamely.

He snorted, “They’ll have to get refunds.” Standing up he continued, “I’ve sent sections of the proposal to each of you. I expect your drafts on my desk in a week.”

I delivered the bad news to my team. Of course they weren’t any happier about it than I was. I felt most sorry for Ben. He was getting married next month and had booked a honeymoon in England, hiking Hadrian’s Wall. It told him we’d see what we could do closer to the date. I thought about my old college friend Mike, who worked in consulting. What a plum job; do a particular project and then on to the next, able to schedule vacations between jobs.

We worked all week on our section of the proposal. At the Friday meeting it turned out everything we wrote actually fit into all the other proposal sections. What a stroke of luck! Maybe I could take my vacation after all.

I spent the evenings going to my hotel’s on-line site, imagining myself on that beautiful beach.

Tuesday, I was working a few details, meshing the proposal plan to everyone else’s when I got a call from Finance. “Hey Gary,” I said into the phone. “Our section of the proposal isn’t over-budget is it?”

“Uh, no, Ann, that’s not why I called.”

I relaxed into my chair. If it wasn’t the proposal, there wasn’t anything else in my department to worry about.

“I don’t know how to say it,” he took a deep breath. “Your bank just failed.”

A week later Ann sat her drink down in the sand next to her, adjusting the sunshade over her head. Speaking into her headset, “Yes, Michael, I’m ready to begin.” Selecting a file from her Ipod, it appeared on the screens of all the other teleconference members. “My section of the proposal is…”

The End

485 Words

Find more of the Forward Motion Flash Friday Group here:

Status of May’s Goals

May has been hectic to say the least. I’m not sure I even remember everything but here’s my recollection of how I did.

– Write 4 Flash Fiction Friday Stories (one per week)

I wrote more than 4 but missed one Friday posting.

– Update my Blog and Facebook Fan page (Both are titled ConniesRandomThoughts) weekly

I updated regularly.

– May Story A Day

Finished with 12 stories, two over my goal. Not every one is a gem but I’ll set them aside and one day I may actually fix them up and publish them.

– Submit Recall to Publisher or Self-Publish

I did finish Recall and on May 27th, self published it. I designed the cover and my hubby gets credit for the photography on the cover. I’m pretty excited because I think it’s the best story I’ve written yet. It can be found for purchase on CreateSpace, Smashwords, and

– Begin revision of TriPoint

I actually started my revision a couple of months ago but with the April Camp NaNo and the May Story A Day, I let it drop. I’ll pick it back up now and try and get it done in June.

Other stuff not in the plan.

1. Signed up for and completed a Holly Lisle Flash Fiction course. That generated 5 flash fiction stories for May Story a Day.

2. Entered a Holly Lisle short story contest and actually had my story, A Taste of Copper, accepted for her anthology! It will be out sometime in July.

3. Entered a Scribophile contest 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 won’t hear a thing until late September.

4. Today I cleared the wreckage from my computer desk, putting things away and digging out my TriPoint story to continue its revision. Now I’m ready to get serious about finishing that revision and outlining my July Camp NaNo story.  I’ve signed up on a different site, 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 TriPoint series.

Here’s hoping your May was productive and your June will be a success!

Flash Fiction Friday: Growing Up Fern

I was thinking about names and what they mean, the other day. Just what is in a name. Names are important, how does a name influence people?

Warning, there is some sexual innuendo and mild cursing in this story.

Growing Up Fern

The money was spread out on a towel draped on an overturned crate. The chair teetered as she sat back with a sigh. Just twelve friggin’ dollars in tips for the whole morning.  She took a drag on her cigarette, glaring at the pitiful pile. Tossing the butt, she scooped the money up and shoved it into her jeans pocket under her apron.

What a joke. Three-fifty an hour wage and another two dollars an hour in tips. She lit another cigarette. Christ, the rent’s due this week. How’m I supposed to make a living on five bucks an hour?

Her boss yelled through the open back door of the diner. “Fern, get your lazy ass in here. Customers comin’ in.”

“Yeah, yeah, Tony. Keep yer pants on,” she yelled back.

She leaned back against the wall of the diner, careful not to rock the broken chair. Her face to the late morning summer sun, she let her cigarette smolder between her fingers. What the hell happened? I was smart in high school, book smart anyway, she corrected herself as she thought about her six-year old daughter, Elizabeth. Smarter than most. How come I’m barely scrapin’ by and they’re all makin’ the big bucks?

Tony stuck his head out the door, “Fern! Customers!”

She took a last drag on her smoke and got up, crushing the butt on the alley pavement. “I’m comin’.”

She washed her hands before going into the front of the house. Pasting on a smile she grabbed some menus and approached the table where three guys in short sleeved white dress shirts and ties were sitting.

“Mornin’ guys, coffee?” She passed the menus around and took her order book out. They came in this time every day and always ordered the same thing.

“Hey there, Fern, lookin’ good,” he leered. Coffee for everybody.”

She smiled back, “How’s your dad, Mark?” Mark was dumb as a box of rocks but he managed to graduate from college with a degree in business and was taking over his father’s car dealership. Even managed to bring home a wife.

“He’s better, comes into the office twice a week.” He closed up the menu, “I’ll have the same, two eggs over easy, hash browns, sausage.”

“White toast?”

“Yeah. Heard from Brandon lately?” He smirked at his tablemates. They all laughed. They weren’t from here, so she didn’t pay them any mind. But the dig about her old boyfriend stung.

“Brandon’s out in L.A. working for some solar company. Your mom plays Bunko with his mom every week, you should know that.”

He shrugged; winking at his crew.

She looked at the two other car salesmen. “You boys want your regular orders?”

They nodded.

“OK, coffee’s out in minute. I’ll put your orders in.”

She picked up the menus and hustled into the kitchen. Ripping the order sheet from her book she stuck it into the cook’s rack, and went out to pour the coffees. She fumed, Stupid ass, rubbing it in. I don’t know how he managed to hook a wife. What’s she see in him?

Taking the coffees to the table, Mark started in again. “How’s your parents?”

Her mind flashed to her parents, driving off in the old conversion van. “They’re fine. Out in Oregon.”

“Good, good,” he grinned.

She went back to the kitchen. Her parents were hippies; there was no other way to describe it. That’s why her name was Fern. They had lived on a now defunct commune outside of town until the year after she graduated high school. Her mother helped her through that first rough year. They set her up as best they could and took off, to a new commune outside of Eugene. She shook her head. It wasn’t their fault she and Brandon hooked up. He had the grace to man up, she got a child support check every month, but still. It wasn’t enough.

“Order up!”

She picked up a tray and the orders from the window. Maybe it’s my name. Everyone else has normal names, but Fern is so…hippie.

Setting the plates on the table she asked, “Anything else I can getcha?”

They all shook their heads as they reached for salt, pepper and catsup. “Nah, we’re good.”

Taking the tray back to the waitress stand she wondered. Maybe it IS my name, why the hell else am I’m stuck waiting tables? She scrunched her toes up in her sneakers. Her feet hurt and when she left here at 3:30 this afternoon, she had to go over to the hotel and cocktail waitress until 11pm. Serving drinks got better tips than serving in a diner but it was a race every month between her and the bills.

As she made a fresh pot of coffee, she overheard the guys talking about the local college’s business classes. The older salesman’s son was thinking of going. She had wanted to go to college but she was pregnant at her high school graduation. There was no way she could swing it with a baby in tow.

“Yeah, the damn government gives away scholarships,” she heard Mark say. “My parents had to pay the full ride, why should other people get government hand outs.”

If you weren’t so stupid, you could have had a scholarship, she thought as she started the dishwasher.

As Mark ranted she wondered, What if I could get some help? I could take business classes. Hell, I do Tony’s books now!

She filled out the check and took it to Mark. “Here you go boys. I’ll take it at the register.”

Mark smirked, “I’ll bet you will.” The three men roared, Fern shook her head as she left.

Ass. If he can run a business, I sure as hell can. She pulled the phone book out and wrote down the admissions office number for the college. Closing the phone book, she tucked the number into her jeans pocket and smiled as Mark came up to the register.

The End

997 Words

Find more of the Forward Motion Flash Friday Group here:

Goals Achieved for February

How I Did
February was a whirl. I did achieve my goals though, so hooray for that. Here’s the break down.
– Write 4 Flash Fiction Friday Stories (one per week)
Done! And they were posted right here on ConniesRandomThoughts.
– Update my Blog and Facebook Fan page (Both are titled ConniesRandomThoughts) weekly
– Continue to revise Recall
Finished! I’m still deciding whether to try and sell it via traditional channels or self publish. It all has to do with whether the Writer’s Conference I want to take it to in May is going to come off or not. The info for it was supposed to be out at the beginning of February and I still haven’t heard from them. Even after repeated emails and a phone call. Sigh.
– Begin outlining Short Stories
I have been doing that and have several on standby for May Story A Day challenge. I’m thinking my goal for this challenge this year is going to be eight short stories. I managed six last year, so I think upping the total by two is pretty doable.
I have begun revising my November 2012 NaNo story, TriPoint Station. I’m renaming it TriPoint Station: New Ship as a working title because I want to write a series about the station.
I have begun outlining the first book in the series, TriPoint Station: A New Start, in Scribophile. I just purchased Scribophile just for holding all of the information on the series. I’m still struggling with how to use it. But once I get that hurdle cleared, I won’t have to keep flipping through pages of notes and yellow stickies to find out what I called something in the previous book.
And yes, you read that right, I’ve got one month to outline A New Start because I plan on writing the 1st draft for it in the April Camp NaNo. So I get to add April Camp NaNo to April’s goals.
I also began a draft on a How To Design an ebook cover. I might as well make use of the notes I took for myself and share with everyone else. That will probably be my Vision submission for the summer. It still has a lot of bugs so I need to go through it again, making more detailed directions, for the beta test. I think I’ll get my husband to do that, muwahahahaahha.
Finally; I epublished a book, A Trio of Animal Tales. It’s out on Smashwords. 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. I probably won’t hear anything back from them until April.
May you all have a very productive March!

November 2012 National Novel Writing Month is Over!

Well, for me it is.  After a a long Thanksgiving weekend of daily word counts over what I’d been doing all month, yesterday I reached 50,347 words in my novel.  The goal is for each writer sit down and in one month, write at least 50,000 words.  This may seem like a foolish and unnecessary challenge.  Many writers think so, the thought of trying to write an entire novel in thirty days is terrifying, unnecessary, and the list goes on.

For me, this is how I started writing last year.  I was challenged, I figured out how to go about it, and I did it.  I spent January 2012 until the end of June 2012 learning how to revise a novel. And in early October 2012, I released that novel.  If you’re interested, you can find it on (The Bad Seed by Connie Cockrell).

I thought the whole thing was so positive, and I had such a good result that in August of 2012 I repeated the process, (project manager speak for I did it again, lol.) in what the organizers call Camp NaNo.  I finished a book that time too, which I still need to revise, probably beginning in January 2013.

This November, after plotting out my third book, I began with high hopes.  It didn’t go as well as my first two efforts.  I didn’t have enough scenes planned out to get me to my 50,000 word goal.  I did not give up.  Since my story location was on a space station (the book is tentatively titled TriPoint Station) I decided to fill out my 50,000 words (I was 15,000 words short) with short stories about life on the station.

This did two things.  It got me over the goal, making me happy.  It also allowed me to develop a good background about the station.  Things that may have been vaguely mentioned in the original story, or affected the story in some way, or had nothing to do with the original story but helped me develop a better idea of the station’s culture, legal system, economic reality, and so on.  I found this very helpful.

It pointed out flaws in my original story’s physical layout, naming conventions, it helped me develop a slang for the station and put in place a cultural bias, such as, names of the working class tend to remain Irish based (I had the station settled by Irish originally) while the rich tended to more New Age type names.

While I liked my original idea, I really liked getting into the nuts and bolts of my station.  I even added aliens, which I hadn’t even thought about in the original story.  So, that’s it.  I’ll have a lot of work to do to revise what I wrote in November.  There are a lot of continuity issues I’ll have to resolve along with adding an additional level of conflict.  That’s OK.  When I’m done, sometime around next June or July, I’ll start sending it out to SciFi publishers.

I can hardly wait.

The Best Days Of My Life

My husband and I were driving along the streets of Payson the other day when a song came on the 80s Sirius station, I think it was called The Best Days Of My Life, because that was the refrain.

Anyway, this male singer was lamenting that he left his girl behind, for what ever reason.  Now he’s a man and he’s still thinking of that teenage girl he left behind.  Those were the best days of my life, he laments.

I started thinking, what a loser.  Why would you count everything after your 18th birthday as a total loss?  Everything?  Really?  Nothing has happened to you since then that was of the same value as that?

It’s entirely possible, of course.  But for me, it’s all been wonderful, even the bad bits.  The year I was 18 had nothing on the year I was 19 and got married to my still husband!  Or the year I was 23 and had my daughter.  Or the year…well, you get the picture.  Every year has had its ups and downs.  But by no means was my life over at 18.

There’s an old saying, the best is yet to come.  I believe it.  Every year I see new people, new places, try new things, travel, hike with friends, just live my life!  So don’t believe it.  The best days are not behind you, they’re in front of you.

Change your attitude and stop living in the past, if you do, and get out there and make yourself useful.  There are no end of things to do, people that need helping, places to see.  Get out there and make tomorrow the best day of your life. Then do it everyday.