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!

Flash Fiction Friday: My Freaky Cats

Misty by JustChasingFireflies via www.DeviantArt.com

Misty by JustChasingFireflies via http://www.DeviantArt.com

Mama was always a bit strange so it’s no wonder that her cat, Esme, a smoke-gray, yellow-eyed long hair, was also strange.  I brought Esme home with me the day before we went to clean out dear departed Mama’s house. It seemed to me the best course of action what with my brother and his wife and my husband packing boxes, tossing junk, and going in and out of the doors for a week.

Esme was not of the same opinion. She clawed me every morning as we headed out the door to go to Mama’s, shrieking and howling like something possessed. After the first day, even though the summer heat was stifling, I wore heavy jeans, just so I could get out the door only semi-wounded.

The first night I brought a few of Mama’s things back to my house, my choices from among Mama’s things. Esme inspected each item, low growling in her throat as she stropped back and forth against each object. That first day? I chose an antique lamp, not Tiffany but still the brass work and stained glass made a wonderful addition to my desk. I also picked a small oriental rug, also put in my office and an intricately carved shallow brass bowl that I put on a table also in my home office. Esme took up residence in that room, chasing out my other two cats and keeping them out.

The second day I came home with Mama’s herbal tea collection. Esme bounded into the kitchen as soon as I came through the door and leapt up onto the counter where I put the plastic sack of teas. She stuck her head so far into the bag I feared she’d suffocate so I dumped the baggies of tea out on the counter. The cat checked each baggie. My husband, Flynn, raised an eyebrow. “Maybe there’s catnip in one?”

I shook my head, “No, they’re all labled, none of them are catnip.”

The cat settled down over the baggies, paws folded neatly under her and began to purr, eyes half closed in contentment.

By the end of the week, the fur ball had inspected everything I brought home from Mama’s. In the evenings, with several of Mama’s things in my office, the cat curled up on the corner of my desk, it seemed as though Mama was there with me in the room.

The last day, all that remained in the house was a tattered book of recipes. My brother handed it to me. “You’re the daughter, and I don’t cook. Seems like this should go to you.”

I flipped through it. The handwriting wasn’t Mama’s. “This maybe from Grandma, you sure you don’t want it?”

He shook his head. “Nah, if it was Grandma’s, it makes a nice legacy for you. Something for you to pass onto Marie.”

Marie was my daughter. A dark haired, dark eyed quiet girl, a young image of my mother, now seven, it had been hard to explain about death to her. “Sure. I think she’d like that.”

That night, I was flipped open the book as I sat at my desk. Esme sat in front of me, at the very edge of the book, gold eyes staring at me. I read the inscription written in a very fine-lined Spenserian script, different than Grandma’s handwriting. I read it out loud to Esme.

From One to The Next,

From the Beginning Until the End.

The Lot is Passed,

Your Path to Wend.

I no more than said Wend, when Esme gave a yowl fit to wake the dead. The cat spun around and hissed as a gust of wind blew through the office and a mist appeared in front of my desk.

I dropped the book as the mist consolidated and formed a woman’s shape. Esme hissed again, back arched and tail fluffed out until it was three times its normal size.

“Welcome, daughter,” the misty form said.

The voice was familiar. “Mother?” I stood up.

“Yes.” The shape condensed until in front of me stood a very young version of my Mama.

My mind raced as I stumbled over my desk chair as I tried to back up. “How…?”

“It’s your turn,” the ghost told me. “Since the early 1800’s when that inscription was written, the gift has passed from mother to daughter upon the mother’s death.”

Esme jumped down and circled the ghost, a rumble deep in her chest, made my arm hair stand on end.

“What gift?”

“You can help people,” she told me. “You have the herbs, the book,” she pointed at the book, still open on my desk. “The recipes look normal but now, when you read it, cures and curses are laid open for your eyes only.”

I shook my head. “I don’t want to curse anybody.”

“Yet it’s available to you daughter, if you need it. Use your gift wisely.” The form began to evaporate.

“But, Mama,” I didn’t know what to say, what to ask. “Don’t go, you have to explain.”

“It’s all in the book, dear,” she began to wisp away. “Keep the book safe.”

And then she was gone. Esme yowled and hissed again at the spot where the wraith had stood.

Flynn shrugged the next week when I told him I wanted to put in an herb garden. He thought it was nostalgia for my mom. Marie joined me in the garden, learning each plant, how it grew, its everyday uses. It’s been sixty-two years and Esme’s kittens have come and gone. Marie is old now, too, she has the latest of Esme’s line, a regal Calico with too many toes. I’m preparing her. It’s too much power to just dump on an unsuspecting daughter.


The End

957 Words

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

Tragic News

broken by DarkestNightshade via www.deviantart.com

broken by DarkestNightshade via http://www.deviantart.com

The tragedy of the Malaysian Air flight shot down over the Ukraine fills the news. A friend of mine mentioned over the weekend that there are 47 wars going on right now around the world. I don’t know what or where all of them are but I suspect they’re all being fought for stupid reasons. I spent 20 years in the Air Force preparing for war. I was fortunate; I was never tasked to go. But I cannot say the same for friends of mine, co-workers, comrades in arms. I haven’t seen a good reason yet, with the exception, perhaps, of World War 2, for going to war.

As a private citizen most of what I can do is passive and feels worthless. What I can actively do is call, email, or write my representatives in Congress, both sides of the house, and ask them to reconsider policies that antagonize other nations, get us involved in things we do not have national security interests in, or are out and out grabs for power. I plan on voting in my state’s Primary and Regular elections. This is where I have the most power. I can vote for representation that isn’t interested in getting involved in bloodshed and mayhem for corporate interests wrapped in the American flag.

My heart goes out to the friends and families of those who died senselessly, shot down out of the sky for no reason.

Flash Fiction Friday: Pets Come to Gulliver Station

Phoebe and the Hydrant by Randy Cockrell

Phoebe and the Hydrant by Randy Cockrell

“It’s been over sixty years,” Level 7 Representative Howard Wainwright, protested to the Gulliver Station Manager, Egan Cavenaugh. They were in the conference room reserved for the Council meetings. The room was plain, it had been given a new coat of the same boring beige, upon the appointment of Egan to the Station Manager’s position by his father, Art Cavenaugh, and the conference room table had been replaced but otherwise, the same art work hung on the walls.

Howard, Representative to the Station government for the richest residents of Gulliver Station had been getting an earful from one of the wealthiest and most excentric of the Level 7 elite, Gloria Rothschilde. She wanted a pet, a Chihuahua, to be exact, and station law forbade pets.

“You know why the law is in place, Howard,” Egan sighed. “No one on the station has pets. They consume water and air and place an undue burden on the waste recycling systems.”

The Level 3 Representative, Megan O’Malley, spoke up. “Until we can find homes and work for the Displaced on the station, we shouldn’t be importing useless creatures that negatively impact the station.” The homeless situation was primarily a Level 3 issue and Megan, newly elected by her Level, had the Dispossessed on her mind. Something had to be done to find these people apartments and jobs.

“Don’t be ridiculous, Megan,” Level 5 Representative Ian Patrick interrupted. “The Disposessed situation has no bearing on whether or not the station should allow pets.”

“Other stations allow pets,” Howard interjected. He held up a data device. “I have all of the facts from three other stations on how they handle pets. And besides, pets are known to assist people emotionally. Why shouldn’t our residents benefit from the therapeutic value that pets bring?”

“Let’s take a vote,” Egan said as he rapped his gavel on the end of the conference room table. “All in favor?”

The Representatives from Levels 7, 6 and 5 raised their hands. “All opposed?” Only the Representatives from Levels 3 and 4 raised their hands. “Motion carried. We’ll allow pets.” The winning representatives cheered.

“Not so fast,” he reached out to Howard and picked up the data device. “Not until I review these files and see how the other stations do it.”

Six months later, the first cargo ship to carry pets docked at Gulliver Station. The freighter’s cargo no more that hit the registry when bids for the three small dogs, four cats and six guinea pigs began rolling in.

Gloria Rothschilde sat at her desk in her living room. She had the ship’s sale board on her monitor and watched while the bidding went up by thousands of credits for the fawn colored two kilo Chihuahua on board the ship. She typed her fifth bid into the system, one million credits. She was determined to be the first person on Gulliver to own a pet. This dog, a female, would be an excellent breeder for the male Chihuahua she had coming to her in another month. With luck, the female would be able to carry a litter to term and a new business would be born on the station.

She watched the bidding on the other pets. The cats were each also commanding a high price. Even the guinea pigs were getting hefty bids. She noticed her ersatz friend, Minnie Ojibwe, was bidding on two of the rodents. Gloria thought seriously about bidding for those as well, just to put the woman out. After a moment, she discarded the idea. She didn’t want the rodents; she’d just have to resell them at a loss.

After three hours, the bidding slowed to a stop. The female Chihuahua was finally hers at two million four hundred and seventy-six million credits. She noticed that Minnie did not get the guinea pigs. She was out bid by Nathan Po. She smiled. Nathan would have those little fur balls breeding in no time and selling the offspring to everyone on the station.

By then end of the day, all of the animals were purchased by the elite of the station. Complaints flooded into the Station Manager’s office. Many of the middle class residents were angry that the animals weren’t sold at reasonable prices to the first bidders. Egan massaged his temples. There was nothing he could do. The sale of the animals went the same way that the sale of any other good coming onto the station did, to the highest bidder.

That evening the station news media covered the hand-over of the Chihuahua to Gloria. “I’m so pleased,” she beamed into the camera. “It’s a great day for Gulliver Station,” she cuddled the tiny dog whose ears lay plastered to its head as it clearly shivered in the cold air of the dock outside of the cargo ship. “Now I have a companion for my lonely days.”

Egan watched the broadcast from his office. “Pfft,” he blew at the monitor on the wall. “The old bat will have that dog breeding before the end of the year and selling off the pups at top dollar,” he muttered at the screen.

And so it came to be as Egan predicted. Pets entered Gulliver station but they never trickled down to the poor of the station, not even the guinea pigs which would have at least provided food for the Dispossessed. Animals remained a perk of the wealthy.



The End

903 Words

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

Merry-Go-Round Blog Tour: July – Mid-Year Goals Check-In

I Must Reach My Goal by Farcry77 via www.deviantart.com

I Must Reach My Goal by Farcry77 via http://www.deviantart.com

Six months worth of goals. Ack! It has been a whirlwind year for me in my writing world, to be sure.  I completed all of the goals for January, February and March which to be honest, was a struggle. I just felt behind the whole time. April was tough, though I did get the cover for Hard Choices done and revealed in April. Hard Choices finalized in May right on schedule and was published. It’s always pretty exciting to send another book out into the world. I did also get some planning done in April for the May Story a Day challenge which took a little of the production pressure off of my shoulders. So in May, I managed my goal of 10 new short stories written. I love that! I signed up for the Holly Lisle world building class only to let it languish and I signed up for her How To Write A Series expansion which began in June. I’ve been keeping up with it so far.

Unfortunately April’s Camp NaNo (where I got a novella finished, a short story written and a novel started) and May’s Story a Day did nothing to instill a daily writing habit. Sometimes editing, cover design, and just plain life get in the way of sitting down to write. I know, if I make it a priority it will happen. Count me as counseled.

I submitted a story to Writers of the Future in May, called After Math, a story set in my Gulliver Station universe. I also submitted a story, Room with a Knife, to the Crew Contest in May. The Garden State Contest received, Eavesdroppers in early May; a poem, Rest, went to the Contrary Magazine in April; and after another revision, Someone Else is Living Here, went to the Southwest Authors contest mid-June.  A new story will be needed for Writers of the Future before the end of September, but that’s a whole ‘nother part of the year! In June I began the editing process for Revolution. At the time of this blog, it’s just about to be put up on Amazon, Apple, Barnes and Noble, Smashwords and Kobo. I also write non-fiction and I submitted articles for the January, March and June quarterly issues of Vision: an ezine for Writers.

Not on the goal list was a clean-up of my website: www.conniesrandomthoughts.wordpress.com. The Books tab especially was an embarrassment. I had a web-savvy friend of mine help me straighten it out. She also changed the banner at the top of the page. It looks so much better now.

July is Camp NaNo and I’m in the thick of writing a new novella, or perhaps it will stretch into a novel, who knows. And that’s one writer’s half-year. So what about you? Did you set goals at the start of the year? How have you done?

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!

Mid-Month Update for July

Horn Worm in the Tomatoes by Randy Cockrell

Horn Worm in the Tomatoes by Randy Cockrell

I cannot believe it’s the middle of the month already. July is a busy month and I guess that’s why it’s going so fast.

Fourth of July was pretty much rained out here in Payson. The town held the fireworks but very few people were left to watch them fire off in the rain.

The garden has been going like blockbusters. I’m harvesting blackberries, swiss chard, herbs, and sungold cherry tomatoes. The other tomato plants are producing but they’re all still green. There is no sign of hornworms yet, which makes me thankful. They get as big as my forefinger and can eat a tomato plant to just stem in no time flat. This is the time of year they show up so I’ve been carefully examining the plants every time I water. Unfortunately, they look exactly like a tomato leaf so they’re tough to spot. Other plants in the garden, hot and sweet peppers, cantaloupe, summer squash, butternut squash, peas, and green and yellow beans. The cantaloupe have, so far, produced two small ‘lopes but the pill bugs are eating them before they are even close to ripe. I don’t generally like to use bug killer but if I don’t, there won’t be any cantaloupe for me. The picture at the top of the page is of a hornworm, just in case you’ve never seen one before. It looks like an alien, doesn’t it?

July’s Camp NaNo is proceeding nicely. I have a 7K short story done and yesterday I completed the first of two novelettes for my new Brown Rain series. The novelette, titled The Beginning, finished at 21K words in the first draft which puts it in the novella category. I don’t mind. Longer is nearly always better in my opinion. I’ll start the second one today and continue my march toward the 50K NaNo goal for the month. I’m at 28K, past the word mid-point with time to spare.

I’m 18 chapters into the semi-final revision of Revolution, a little over half way done. I’ll hand it off to one more editor, my hubby, for a final look see then one last edit before formatting for release. Yes, the editing, rewriting process takes longer than the 1st draft writing. Be patient, it’s on its way.

The Goodreads site offers a Question the Author option. What do you think, are there questions you’d like to ask and no place to ask them? Would you be interested if I signed up for that on the Goodreads site?

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 the e-tailer or Goodreads 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!

Flash Fiction Friday: Where Do Babies Come From

Betty holding a leaf on the patio. Photo by Randy Cockrell

Betty holding a leaf on the patio. Photo by Randy Cockrell

Last December I did a writing exercise where I was not to say who was doing the talking, in other words, write a short story with no dialog tags, or other ‘stage’ direction. I thought it came out pretty well but in the interest of easier reading, I’ve added dialog tags and other emotional direction.

Where Do Babies Come From

I was dashing around the kitchen in the usual after work way getting chicken ready for dinner when my daughter, Brittany, looked up from her coloring book at the kitchen table. “Amanda says babies come from mommy’s tummy’s. Is that true?”

The plate of chicken nearly slipped out of my hands. Amanda is a cute little girl but her parents keep her a little too well informed. I swallowed. “Well, that is true.”

Her favorite red-orange crayon hovered over the coloring book page. “How do they get in a mommy’s tummy?”

Now? I’m having this conversation now with a seven year old? I glanced at the clock; my husband wasn’t going to be home for at least another half hour.  “Well. Um, first; mommy’s and daddy’s fall in love.”

Her grey-blue eyes drilled into me. “And then they get a baby?”

I started to sweat. “No, not exactly.” I put the plate of chicken thighs down, washed my hands then walked over to the table. “Mommy’s and Daddy’s love each other. Then, when they think the time is right, when they have a lot of love, so much love that they have extra, then they make a baby.”

She nodded, her little face clearly rolling that information around in her head. “Do they use modeling clay? We made little people in art class out of modeling clay.”

“Noooo, not exactly.” Under my breath I muttered, “I should have bought that, How a Baby is Born, book.”

“What? You need a book to make babies?”

Why can she hear that and not hear me when I tell her it’s time for bed? “Uh, yes. I can show you pictures. How’s that? I’ll get a book that tells you all about how babies are born.”

She shrugged. “OK. Can I have a cookie?”


The End

302 Words

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