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

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Today It’s All Writing News

I have TWO books coming out at the end of July. One is the final book in the Gulliver Station series, Revolution. The second is the first book in a new series, a dystopian science fiction about two young women, one of whom is very special, who set out to heal the world. It’s called The Beginning: A Where The Brown Rain Fell series. I’m writing the second series in conjunction with a writing class about series. I’m very excited to both finish one series and start a second one.
So the covers. The first is, obviously, for Revolution. The second is for The Beginning, The Brown Rain Series. Under each cover is a snippet of story for you to enjoy.
Revolution Cover

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

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

Kenna stood in front of fifty of her members, men and women, in a Level 8 warehouse. “You’ve been selected by your team leaders for your knowledge of this station. You know every nook and cranny. It’s your job to search this station, from Level 9 to Level 1 and find my daughter.”
Sean and Darin stood to Kenna’s left behind her.
“I want every room searched. Not just the empty rooms, every room. I don’t care how you do it. We do not have StaSec support, it may get ugly. I’ll do the best I can for you and your families if things go wrong.”
She stopped and looked them in the eyes. “Think about how you’d feel if it was your child.” She stopped again as she choked on the last word. Kenna cleared her throat and took a deep breath, controlling the tears that threatened to flow. “I’m trusting my daughter’s life to you. Please find her.”

The Beginning Cover (Draft) Tell me what you think about it. Would you make any changes?

The Beginning, 1st book in the Brown Rain Series, Draft, by Connie Cockrell

The Beginning, 1st book in the Brown Rain Series, Draft, by Connie Cockrell

Kyra held her shot. Now that it had come down to it, she was reluctant to kill the dog. She was reluctant to kill anything. She’d only shot at targets back at the school. Malcolm had told her not to hesitate. “The first time is going to be hard, Kyra,” he told her. A faraway look shone in his eyes. “It will be the hardest, but if you’re threatened, don’t hesitate. Doesn’t matter if it’s an animal or a human. Hesitation will get you and Alyssa killed. Take the shot.”
Sweat ran down her forehead and into the outer corner of her left eye. She blinked and the center dog, crouched down, still approaching slowly. The first dog was on her right, also in a crouch. “Alyssa. Is your dog in a crouch?”
“Yes. I think it’s going to attack.”
“I think so, too.” Kyra pulled the string back just a hair more and fired at the center dog. The dog screamed and flipped around as the arrow hit him in the middle of his chest. She turned and pulled a new arrow in one fluid movement. The first dog was charging. She could hear Alyssa scream, “Look out!” behind her. The first dog was five feet away when Kyra pulled the bow and shot the dog in the neck. She dropped the bow and pulled her boot knife while spinning around to Alyssa. The last dog was in the air, a snarl sounding as it leapt straight for Alyssa’s face.
Kyra threw her knife, hitting the dog in the ribs and knocking it aside. It yelped and rolled. Kyra grabbed Alyssa’s knife from her hand where she was frozen with fear and charged the dog. It rolled to its feet and crouched, ready to lunge, it’s mouth in a snarl and teeth ready to tear her apart. The blood pounded in her ears as she circled the dog. The thing must weigh about fifty pounds, she thought. It’s wounded. I can do this. It leapt, her knife falling out of its ribs. She slashed at the throat, as she braced herself in a crouch for the impact. The knife slashed the animal but not enough. It yowled as she spun to get out of its way. She crouched again, knife ready as the dog hit the ground, spun around and leapt at her again. This time she let the creature hit. It snapped at her, its breath foul in her face. From her left she could hear a yelp. Alyssa! screamed through her mind but she had to deal with this dog first. Holding the dog’s throat with her left hand, she swung with all her strength for the dog’s ribs with her right. The knife plunged into the dog, she could feel the blade scrape a rib as the knife went in up to the hilt. She pulled it out as she rolled over, the dog thrashing, and on top, she stabbed it again. The dog screamed and she rolled to her feet in a crouch. Where’s Alyssa!
In front of her, Alyssa stood over the first dog, Kyra’s knife in her hand, blood dripping from the tip. The dog lay at her feet, unmoving. Kyra ran to her. “Are you all right?”
Alyssa stared at the dog, her eyes filling with tears. “I had to, Kyra. It was getting up. Getting ready to kill you.”
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: Fourth of July

Fire works 2013 4th of July by Randy Cockrell

Fire works 2013 4th of July by Randy Cockrell

Fourth of July

Ernie lay on his back in bed, left arm under his head propped up on a pillow. He took a drag from the first cigarette of the day as he watched the daylight grow stronger through the pulled shade of the tiny camper he lived in.

He jumped at the sound of poppers in the dirt road that ran past the front of his trailer. A glance at the clock made him groan. Seven-thirty in the morning and the little brats were already out playing with fire works. He flung the sweaty sheet away and stood up. It was a single short step to the screened window. After he pulled the shade aside and winced from the full brunt of the early morning sun in hung-over eyes, he yelled, “Knock it off,” then slammed the window shut.

Ernie sighed. That was just going make it hotter in the camper, but he couldn’t take the constant pop, pop, popping. It sounded too much like gun fire. The ashes from his cigarette, still between two nicotine-stained fingers, dropped to join the remains of its brethren on the lifeless carpet beside the bed.

In what passed for a kitchen he scooped coffee into the maker and filled it with water. He punched the start button and was made a slightly less grumpy as the sound of water begin its path through the fresh grounds.

Shouts of warning rang out from the road outside, the kids set another string of poppers alight. Ernie braced. Pop, pop, pop, pop, pop, in rapid succession with screams of glee coming from the now larger pack of kids gathered from the trailer park. He stared out of the tiny window over the sink at the trailer next door, smoking the cigarette and waiting for the coffee.

He wanted to get out of town, get to the country, someplace without parades, crowds and fireworks but the car was in the shop. Before the coffee was done he poured some into his least dirty cup, letting the still brewing coffee pour over the hot plate, hissing and steaming and adding to the burnt coffee smell. He shoved the pot back under the stream and sipped the life blood of his day. His nerves were already on edge from the popping and screaming outside.

When the phone rang he jumped. Who the hell is calling at five till eight? He picked up the cell phone lying on the table amidst the remains of take out wrappers, bags and empty cans of beer.

“What?” he snarled.

“Good morning to you, too, buddy,” the voice responded with a laugh.

“It’s too early, Brian.” Ernie scrubbed the cigarette out in the overflowing ashtray next to the loveseat. He put his coffee on the stained arm of the sofa and plopped his feet on the coffee table, scattering more take out wrappers. “The damn kids are outside already, firing off poppers and screaming like the Viet Cong.”

“Come on out to the house, Brother. I’ve got brats and ribs and Mary’s made potato salad. No fireworks, I promise.”

Ernie’s interest picked up. His brother Brian had the childhood home, an old farmhouse they grew up in. He swallowed some of the still too hot coffee. “Car’s in the shop.”

“I’ll come get you. I know how the 4th brings out your PTSD. Say yes.”

Ernie lit another cigarette with his Zippo. His engraved unit crest nearly rubbed away. A screamer went off. It sounded like it was right outside his trailer. He dove for the floor, coffee flew all over the loveseat and ragged carpet.

A tinny voice came from the phone, now on the floor just under the kitchen cabinet. “Ernie? Ernie? What was that? Are you OK?”

Face flushed with shame, Ernie got up and retrieved the phone. “Yeah, I’m all right. Damn kids set off a screamer.” He walked back to the loveseat and picked the cup up. He poured more coffee into it and shoved the kitchen table wrappers off onto the floor to sit down at the table.

“Are you coming out?”

“Yeah,” Ernie scrubbed his three day old beard. If he stayed here much longer those kids would be dead. “Yeah. Come and get me. I’ll be cleaned up by the time you get here.”

When Brian arrived in his new SUV, Ernie was sitting outside his camper, shaved and in clean clothes, smoking. Brian got out and gave his brother a hug.  “I don’t see any kids.”

“I chased’em off.”

“Glad you’re coming out. Mary made your favorite, lemon meringue pie.”

The two of them got into the car. “You two are too good to me. I’m a mess.”

“That’s what family is for, Ernie. You did your duty, time for us to pay it back.”

Ernie stared out of the passenger window as his younger brother backed out of the parking spot. The camper was rusted and ugly. The lawn chair he’d been sitting in was missing half of the webbing. He could still hear the pop, pop, popping of gun fire deep in his memory and if he took his hands off of his knees, they’d be shaking. He felt the way his camper looked. “Thanks, Brian. I appreciate that.”

 

The End

874 Words

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