Merry Go Round Tour: August – Protagonists

Heros by agusiak620 via www.deviantart.com

Heros by agusiak620 via http://www.deviantart.com

Protagonist: The story’s main character. The protagonist can be anything, think of Steven King’s Christine, for example. But we generally think of the protagonist as a person, one that you, the reader, can relate to. A character that you’re willing to spend some time with and makes you want to read the book or story you’ve just picked up.

Most of my protagonists have been women. It makes sense. I’m a woman and not surprisingly, I’m kind of familiar with being a woman. I have a feel for what motivates or can motivate a female main character. But as an author, I don’t feel that I should just write female main characters. How limiting that would be. So I try my hand at male main characters, hoping I get their behaviors and motivations correct. I often use my husband for that research, asking him how a man would think in a particular situation. Even asking once, what alcoholic beverage a man would choose in a bar.

I’d like to try my hand at other main characters, perhaps gay, trans or lesbian folk. Maybe persons of color or people of different cultures and religions. After all, they’re people. They love, fear, give birth, have crappy jobs, just like me. The difference is how their situation, their skin color, their religion, colors their perceptions. That would be a good thing to explore, don’t you think? As a writer or a reader, I should be exposed to those different thought processes. If or when creatures from different planets come to visit or we visit them, shouldn’t we be prepared to think outside our own comfort zone? Those different thought processes, customs, courtesies, whether we’re talking to aliens or to people from different parts of this planet, could bring some clarity and understanding about life to us.

So how about you? What do you look for in a protagonist? Are you eager to read about a swashbuckling hero? A super woman? A main character just trying to get through the day? Feel free to leave a comment in the comment box below.

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!

Revolution: A Gulliver Station Story released August 1st! I’m pretty excited about it. Apple (iTunes) and Barnes and Noble now have it up on their sites. You can buy at: Apple, Amazon, Barnes and Noble, Kobo, or Smashwords today!

Flash Fiction Friday: The Door

 

 

I follow a blog, SethSnap. In May, he posted the above picture and gave us the following prompt. “Your Story is a SethSnap (http://sethsnap.com/2014/05/01/your-story-submerged/) series in which you get to decide the story behind the photos.  You can write a story, a poem or even just one word.  You decide.I spotted this just under the water the other day.  To most it looks like a simple submerged piece of wood.  To you and I it is much more.  Tell me what you see.”  I came up with the following story.

The Door

Haley pushed hard. “What’s wrong with this door?” She gave it another, harder shove and as it flew open, water began to pour in from all four sides. Gasping for air she found herself floating in a river, the water cold as ice. The door floated beside her, snagged on a sandbar next to the river bank.
“That’s what I get,” she mumbled through chattering teeth. Getting out of the water was tough, she was numb with the cold and the bank here was high. By the time she reached the top, she was covered with thick, black river mud and had a foot long scratch from a tree root along the outside of her right arm. Hands full of last year’s fallen leaves scraped most of the mud off but she was shivering so hard her hands trembled. This universe jumping is going to kill me yet but this is better than the fire I found myself in two trips ago, she thought. I need to get dry before I freeze to death.
Haley struggled to her feet and staggered off through the woods. She found a path just a few feet away from the bank. A park then, she thought, maybe I can get some help. With arms wrapped around her to keep warm, she trotted along the path, no idea where it went. The first people she saw were a couple, walking arm in arm along the path, the woman’s head on the man’s shoulder. “Help,” Haley called out. “Can you help me?”
The pair turned around. The door never failed, it took her right to the couple she was here for. “What happened?” the young woman asked.
“I slipped on the river bank and fell in,” Haley responded, teeth chattering.
The guy took off his coat. “Here, put this on.” He helped her pull it on.
“Sorry for the mud, the bank was pretty high.”
“That’s all right,” the woman said. “I’m Ann. This is my boyfriend, Carl.”
“I’m Haley, thanks for helping me out. Sorry about the mud.”
“Come on,” Ann put her arm around Haley. “Let’s get you to your car.”
Haley had to think fast. “Uh, I came with my boyfriend. We had a fight and he left. I don’t have a car.”
Ann made a face that made it clear what she thought of a boyfriend who did that. “Well, we can take you home then. Come on, Carl. Let’s get back to the car.”
That was exactly what Haley was here to stop. “Umm, look, I don’t want to interrupt your nice day. If you’d just walk me to the park ranger station, I’ll call my roommate and she can come and get me.”
Ann was herding Haley to the parking lot. “Nonsense. It won’t be a problem.”
It will if I let you get in the car and drive off, Haley thought. How am I going to keep these two here for another fifteen minutes.
“We were finished with our walk anyway,” Carl told her. “So really, it’s no problem at all to take you home.”
They were at the edge of the lot. She had to think fast. “Uh, you don’t mind if I try and get some more mud off before I get in your car, do you?”
“No, of course not,” Ann said. “The bathrooms are right over there. It must be very uncomfortable being covered with mud.”
Haley nodded. The mud was starting to dry. She didn’t want to think about what kind of bugs might be biting her right now. “Thanks. The dried mud is starting to itch.”
So Ann walked her to the bathroom and Carl went to the car. “I’ll just pull it up near the bathroom, take your time.”
At the bathroom door, Ann told Haley, “There’s a coffee machine inside. I’ll get you something hot to drink to help you warm up.”
“You’re a dear,” Haley smiled at her. “I’ll be right here.”
Haley closed the door and ran her hands and arms under the water. Ann appeared with the coffee. “I put cream and sugar in it, hope that’s OK.”
“Sure,” Haley said. “I’m sorry to be so much trouble.”
“Not at all. We’ll be in the car. Take your time.”
“Thanks, Ann.”
Haley checked her watch, she needed ten more minutes. In five minutes she stuck her head out the door. “Sorry, Ann, Carl. Just another couple of minutes, OK?”
Carl waved and she went back to the bathroom. After three minutes she peeked out the door. Carl and Ann were snuggling in the front seat. Music floated out of the open car window. Haley took off the jacket and hung it on the door knob then slipped out of the door. She walked to the front of the ranger station and around the other side. From a vantage point in the woods, she watched the couple. Soon, Ann got out of the car and went to the bathroom. She called over to Carl. “She’s not here. She left your jacket.” They couple looked all around the station but after a few minutes, gave up and got in the car and drove away.
Haley trotted back to the river. Another couple saved. Their daughter would be born and grow up to be a great author one day. The door was where she left it. Time to go home.
The End
852 Words
Find more of the Forward Motion Flash Friday Group here: http://www.fmwriters.com/flash.html

Time is Flying

Immature Gala Apple

Immature Gala Apple by Connie Cockrell

No rain since the last Monday blog post. It’s been a very disappointing monsoon season to be sure. The lakes and reservoirs are at fifty percent capacity or less, making everyone in Arizona very nervous. I’ve had to water my garden every other day, fruit trees included. I picked my 6 peaches a few days ago. Yummy! I have 5 Gala apples on the tree. The late April frost and snow killed most of the buds on both trees so I only have those few. No pears at all, which makes me sad. Maybe I’ll have more fruit next year. Anyway, I spoke with a farmer at the Farmer’s Market. He told me Gala’s mature mid to late fall. So in the picture above, those apples may actually double in size in the next four to six weeks.
The Northern Gila County fair is in less than a month. The fair book has been proof read and sent to the printer to publish and I continue to update the website, http://www.NorthernGilaCountyFair.com, to add information concerning all of the activities, attractions and entertainment. What’s your favorite event or activity at your county fair?
I am editing the first book in my Brown Rain series. The working title is The Beginning, which to be frank, is sort of lame. Would you like to help me name this novelette? Click on the link below to sign up for my newsletter by the 16th of August and I’ll send you a PDF copy of the rough draft of the story for you to read. Then you can go to my blog and leave a comment on this post with your Title suggestion.
Thanks for stopping by my blog today.
Like any author, my books sell based on reviews. Would you be interested in getting a free copy to review for me? Go to the button on the right side of the blog or go to my Newsletter tab to sign up. Or sign up here. Use Control, Click to access the link. Let me know you’d like to be a reviewer on Goodreads or the e-tailer site of your choice.

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.
Revolution: A Gulliver Station Story released August 1st! I’m pretty excited about it. Apple (iTunes) and Barnes and Noble now have it up on their sites. You can buy at: Apple, Amazon, Barnes and Noble, Kobo, or Smashwords today!

Flash Fiction Friday: The Enemy Rule

The day they came by steve2727 d3ddhcp via www.deviantart.com

The day they came by steve2727 d3ddhcp via http://www.deviantart.com

Today’s story is thanks to the Chuck Wendig Challenge of August 1st at http://terribleminds.com/ramble/2014/08/01/flash-fiction-challenge-random-title-challenge/ . He provided a list of story titles and it was my job to pick one and write a story to it. This type of writing exercise really stretches the brain. Here’s my take on the title I picked:

The Enemy Rule

I watched as a pair of soldiers stapled an eleven by fourteen inch sheet of paper to the telephone pole. Little knots of people stood around every other pole along Main Street, reading the sheets the enemy had just posted.
I had just come out of the Co-op. There was nothing inside except a few exotic canned goods. One of the first directives to come from the enemy was for farmers to take all of their produce to the industrial park where they had set up an efficient shipping line. Everything was sent back to their country.
When they marched on to the next pole I stepped up to read the notice. A notice! We were back to the seventeenth century. The enemy had dropped four electro-magnetic pulse bombs across the country. That’s all it took to fry every electronic device we depended on and send us back nearly to the stone age. An antique car sputtered down Main Street. Everyone on the street turned to watch. The old cars weren’t electronic so anyone with a rusting hulk in the back yard was doing their best to resurrect the beasts. It was hard to do when parts had to be scrounged locally.
I read the poster.

ATTENTION
1. Curfew is sundown. Anyone outside after sundown will be tried in the People’s Court of the New Republic and shot.
2. No groups shall form larger than three non-family people. Anyone found in a non-family group larger than three people will be tried in the People’s Court of the New Republic and shot.
3. No travel is permitted outside town limits. All travel across town limit borders must be approved by the People’s Superintendent of the town. Anyone found travelling without the proper permits will be tried in the People’s Court of the New Republic and shot.

It was clear they just wanted to shoot us all and make way for the immigrants. Half of my block had already been cleared. The Wilson family next door were all shot the first day of the invasion. John tried to keep the soldiers out of his house. They dragged the whole family out on the front lawn and shot them, including the dog. I was thankful that I lived alone. That was a month ago. Last week the soldiers helped a family from their country move in. They’ve already dug up the whole yard and started planting vegetables. They even ripped out Emily Wilson’s prize yellow roses. It happened all up and down the block. The new people move in and they begin planting vegetables immediately.

A squad of soldiers came around the corner in a column of two. I stepped into the street and bowed low keeping my eyes on the pavement. That was Rule One on Day One and it didn’t take us long to learn it. A lot of people were shot on Day One.

My stomach growled. My pantry was nearly bare and my tiny vegetable patch wasn’t keeping me fed and it was the height of summer. No food was reaching the markets. I stood up after the squad passed and finished reading the poster. It was more of the same. I turned away. Nothing posted since Day One told us what to do to get along, to survive.
On my block I noticed all the new families out in their yards, tending the new gardens. I bowed politely. They bowed back. There was no point in trying to talk to them. Not only did they not speak my language, they’d retreat into the house if I tried to approach. I could tell which houses the newcomers were in. They all had gardens. I stopped to count. Six houses left with original owners.

An cargo truck was parked outside a newcomer house at the other end of the block. Soldiers carried boxes and bags of food to the house. I slowed my pace and watched. The truck stopped at every newcomer house. At the Wilson’s old place I could see bags of rice, beans and boxes of canned goods and fresh vegetables, even some butcher paper wrapped meat. My stomach growled again.

When the Sergeant looked my way I bowed. He frowned. I went up my front walk and opened the door. His crew came back to the truck and delivered food to the house across the street. I shut the door and hung my shopping bag on the hook in the front hall. Are they getting food because they’re from the conquering country or because they’re cooperating by growing food?

I went out to the garden shed. Like any gardener, I had a lot of seed out there. I looked through the packets; some of it was pretty old. I dug out my seed starter trays, filled them with the last of my starter soil and wet it down. I planted one whole tray with cabbage. It was too late for pumpkin but the acorn squash might mature before the next hard frost. Those went into another tray. I held the Swiss Chard packet in my hand. This stuff could go directly in the ground and it over wintered. I put that one aside. It went that way until I ran out of trays. I pulled my tiller out of the shed and peeked into the gas reservoir. Half a tank. There was about three quarters of a can of gas. I filled the tiller tank and pulled the cord. It started right up.

It took three days to clear the sod. I noticed the new neighbors watching. The third day I even had a brief nod from the new missus over there. The Swiss Chard was the first thing I put in. Then my remaining summer lettuce seed, herbs, cucumbers, and anything that had a chance to mature before winter.

The next month the supply truck stopped at my house. I bowed to the Sergeant. He nodded back and made a check on his clipboard.

The End

998 Words

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

Fun Times In August

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

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

My friend Selena Laurence is releasing her new book, Buried, today. A picture of her book cover is below. You can find it at:
B&N –> http://bit.ly/1qXpeyt
iTunes –> http://bit.ly/1ra0NeJ
Goodreads –> http://bit.ly/1kQkPpw
#JuanAndBeth — with Selena Laurence.

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We had a wonderful rainy thunderstorm on Saturday. The air cooled down, the rain fell, the plants became very happy. Yay for rain!
Well I completed Revolution’s formatting and put it up on Amazon, Kindle, Kobo, CreateSpace and Smashwords. I’m very excited. I have a good deal for you if you’re a subscriber to my newsletter. Want to get on it? Sign up in the next five days and I’ll get you in on it too!
The Northern Gila County fair is in a month. We’ve been working with the printer to publish the Fair books and I’ve been updating the website, http://www.NorthernGilaCountyFair.com, to correct out of date information. The site is still a work in progress but at least the information is correct. LOL! Do you attend your local county fair? What do you like the best about it?
Thanks for stopping by my blog today.
Like any author, my books sell based on reviews. Would you be interested in getting a free copy to review for me? Go to the button on the right side of the blog or go to my Newsletter tab to sign up. Or sign up here. Use Control, Click to access the link. Let me know you’d like to be a reviewer on Goodreads or the e-tailer site of your choice.
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.
Revolution: A Gulliver Station Story released August 1st! I’m pretty excited about it. You can buy at: Apple, Amazon, Barnes and Noble, Kobo, or Smashwords today!

Flash Fiction Friday: Defiance

Defiance by astra888 (hattori-hanzo) via www.DeviantArt.com

Defiance by astra888 (hattori-hanzo) via http://www.DeviantArt.com

Jennie stood in the middle of a gaggle of High School graduates watching her classmates. They were hugging their parents, getting photos taken; many of the girls had plastic wrapped bouquets in hand. Her white cap slid from her head in the warm June breeze. She unzipped her gown and took it off. No one was going to take her picture and it was too hot anyway.

Her Celtic dragon tattoo glowed green and gold in the sunlight. Missy Chamber’s mom scowled when she saw it over Missy’s shoulder as they hugged. Little did she know Missy had a tat on her left butt cheek, a tiny pair of pursed lips. “So my Mom can kiss my ass,” she told Jennie the night she got it. That was during winter break, right after Jennie had the dragon done.

“What about your parents, aren’t they going to be mad?”

“What do I care,” Missy hiccupped. They were drinking Colt 45 from brown paper bags in the park in the center of town. Jennie had hooked them out of the fridge. Her parents had been drinking since mid-afternoon, they’d never miss the two beers.

As she walked to the door of the school, she passed Carl Chu. His parents had given him a new Porsche for graduation. He winked at her as she passed by. They’d dated briefly last year, a fling on the wrong side of the tracks for him. He’d invited her to his house a few times, his parents watching her every second, afraid she’d steal something. It didn’t matter. As soon as she’d put out a few times the challenge was gone and he’d dropped her over summer vacation.

Her father had backhanded her across the room when he found out. Her mother took her to the clinic to have the baby aborted. She complained to every nurse and doctor about how Jennie was a big disappointment. On the way home her mother told her, “Don’t come begging for a second chance. This was it. Next time get the bum who got you knocked-up to pay for the clinic.”

Jennie kept quiet. You’re no prize either. But she held her tongue. Her mother could hit like a line backer.

In the hallway leading to the classroom where they were to drop off the caps and gowns, she passed a clot of girls surrounding Emily Little. She’d just gotten her acceptance letter to Brown. Jennie remembered going to grade school with Emily. They played together on the playground; Emily too shy to play with anyone else. She was smart then, Jennie remembered. No wonder she’s the class Valedictorian.

Emily nodded to her so she nodded back. Jennie was barely past the group when the whispering began. “Her parents didn’t come.” “Did you know her parents are drunk every night?” “My Dad had her father as a client in a domestic violence case.”

Jennie stood up straighter. She knew the girl’s lawyer father. He tried to pick her up every Saturday night at the diner where she waitressed. What would she think if she knew about her perv father.

She turned in the cap and gown, taking the tassel off and tucking it into her short shorts pocket. At least she’d graduated. That was a miracle in itself. Her parents called her stupid, looser, waste of space, every day of her life. Jennie ground her teeth together. Two years ago she’d retorted, “Takes one to know one.” Her father knocked her across the room and broke her arm and three ribs. Since then she’d said as little to them as possible and stayed out of the house as much as she could.

Andy Coulter stopped her in the hall as she neared the exit. “Hi, Jennie.”

Angry about the girls and her parents, she almost blew by him. She knew he had a crush on her, after all, she was pretty good looking, why shouldn’t he? So she stopped. “Andy.”

He blushed. “Uh, you going to a party or anything?”

“Nah,” she stuck her hands in the pockets and shot out her left hip. “Too lame.”

“Yeah,” he stuttered. “Lame.” His eyes darted around the now bare hallway; all of the posters and announcement sheets had already been removed by the janitors. “You going to college in the fall?”

Jennie stood up. “No.” She swallowed. “Couldn’t decide where to go.”

“Oh,” his face fell. “I got accepted to Ridgeway. Maybe get a degree in electrical engineering.”

“I heard Ridgeway’s good.” Jennie was glad for him but it ticked her off that she would be staying in this dead end town, working for crap wages and tips.

His face brightened. “Maybe you can go to the Community College. It would give you the basics while you figure out where you want to go.”

Jennie dug her fingernails into her palms. “Maybe. Look, I gotta go home and get ready for work.”

“Sure, Jennie. See ya.”

She moved past him to the door. “Yeah, see ya.”

She fumed all the way home. Community College, wh’s gonna pay for that? Not her. Not unless she got a better job. When she came in the front door her parents were in their recliners, beers in hand and cans on the floor watching a movie they’d seen a million times.

Her father called out. “So, you’re graduated?”

“Yeah.” She inched toward the stairs to go to her bedroom.

“Don’t go thinkin’ you’re better’n us. You’re still a stupid twit who’ll never amount to shit.”

She raced up the stairs. Oh, yeah? Andy’s comment about the Community College leapt to mind. I’ll see about that. She threw on her diner uniform and left the house. She had just enough time to run over to the college before work.

 

 

The End

962 Words

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

End of Camp NaNo

Picture by Randy Cockrell

Picture by Randy Cockrell

Picture by Randy Cockrell

Picture by Randy Cockrell

The last of the summer concert series was held on Saturday here in beautiful central Arizona. Attendance was spotty because we had a thunderstorm roll in. There wasn’t much rain but the sky was full of lightning flashing through the clouds. Exhilerating.
The hornworms have arrived. You can see a picture my husband shot of one medium sized guy eating my green tomato. He also took a picture of hot peppers and my butternut squash. I trained one of the squash vines up a trellis so the squashes are hanging down, away from the pill bugs which like to eat anything that’s in contact with the soil.
July’s Camp NaNo is complete for me. I told you already about the 7K short story and the first of two novelettes for my new Brown Rain series. The second novelette, I call The Downtrodden, finished at less than 20K. Not a problem. I wrote a +2K short story and I went over the 50K mark for NaNo. Toss the confetti, I completed the challenge. The 7K short story, Partners, was written for an anthology. I edited it over the course of July and sent it off to the anthology last week. I’m crossing my fingers that it gets accepted.
Hubby finished his edits of Revolution and gave them back to me. I’m working on those edits now. With luck I can get the book formatted and out at least on Amazon by the end of this week.
I went ahead and signed up for the Goodreads Ask the Author. Have a question? That’s a good place to ask it.
Thanks for stopping by my blog today.
Like any author, my books sell based on reviews. Would you be interested in getting a free copy to review for me? Go to the button on the right side of the blog or go to my Newsletter tab to sign up. Or sign up here. Use Control, Click to access the link. Let me know you’d like to be a reviewer on Goodreads or the e-tailer site of your choice.
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.
Hard Choices: A Gulliver Station Story released May17th! I’m pretty excited about it. You can buy at: Apple, Amazon, Barnes and Noble, Kobo, or Smashwords today!