Monday Blog Post: Rainy Weekend in Central AZ

Rainy day, Birdbath, Central Arizona, Connie Cockrell

Rainy day at the Birdbath in Central Arizona by Connie Cockrell

We’ve had four days of rain here in Payson, Arizona. This is very unusual weather. I’ve used it to my advantage though. I made a lasagna Saturday instead of my usual spaghetti and remembered to take pictures of the process for my post on the 25th of this month on Chicklets in the Kitchen blog. I also finished up a 3 day mini-workshop held by Holly Lisle. My flash fiction Friday post is the result. Be sure and check it out on Friday.

Lost Rainbows is moving along as a serial. I’m posting the 3rd installment on 4th here on my blog and the 2nd installment on the 4th on Wattpad.  (www.Wattpad.com).  I’m ConnieCockrell on that site. A new chapter will be released each Wednesday for 16 weeks. Enjoy.  I’ve also managed to create a couple more chapters in my All About Bob story. Poor Bob. I’m being pretty mean to him.

The Payson Book Festival planning is moving right along. You can see the information on www.PaysonBookFestival.org if you’d like. We still have a Kick-off pricing on author tables, half price now through mid-March. Hurry, sign up for a table, you can share a table, too, to make your costs even less. Fill out the Author Registration and get that in to us so we can reserve you a table. They’re going fast at this great price.

I’m still working on the Northern Gila County Fair. (www.NorthernGilaCountyFair.com) We have to do a lot to catch up but we’ll be starting the sponsorship drive soon, decisions are being made about events to be held, the new volunteers are getting into the swing of their responsibilities and we’re getting ourselves organized. The volunteers are very enthusiastic so I think we’ll have a great fair year.

The Book Festival and the Fair are still taking a lot of my time I still need to edit my November story, Mystery at the Fair. I’m working hard on my short story, After Math, so I can re-start submitting it to magazines. I’m keeping pretty busy, hope you are, too.

Thanks for stopping by my blog today.

Lost Rainbows released January 25th! I’m pretty excited about it. You can buy it and my other books at: Apple, Amazon, Barnes and Noble, Kobo, or Smashwords today!

Flash Fiction Friday Post: Of Autumn Leaves

Stream, Black and White, Randy Cockrell

Stream in B&W by Randy Cockrell

Stephanie Heller sat on the stream bank, her eyes staring at the way the water slid and gurgled around the rocks trying to block its way. She’d been there, mind lost in the ripple and swirl, for an hour as she watched orange, yellow and bronze leaves pass. The warm afternoon sun was setting and the air began to chill when she pulled herself from her reverie. She rose with a sigh, the water was so soothing, constant yet ever changing.

As she walked home the rustle of fallen leaves drowned out the muted sounds of the forest. Like the water, it soothed her as she focused on the way the sound of the leaves varied as her feet moved through them. It was a mile to the house and she was sorry when she emerged into the dusk past the forest edge and stepped onto the lawn of her farm house.

The windows were dark. There was no one there any longer but her to turn on the lights. She studied the house, how empty and cold it looked. Stephanie took one step, then another, following the path across the lawn to the back kitchen door.

The house didn’t used to be dark and cold. She opened the door and flipped the light switch. The kitchen was bathed in the cold blue light of the energy efficient bulbs. The room, where at this time of day should have been filled with the warm smell of dinner cooking, seemed sterile. She filled the water kettle and put it on the stove to heat. She was chilled and a cup of tea sounded good to her.

There were those small things, like a hot cup of tea that kept her going. That, and sitting by the stream, watching the water flow by. It had been there all summer, getting her to acknowledge her life. She went upstairs and changed into her pajamas, throwing on a red and black flannel quilted shirt over it all. Stephanie stroked the front of the shirt then wrapped her arms around herself as she watched her reflection in the dresser mirror. It was a poor replacement for her husband’s hugs but it was all she had left.

On her way back to the kitchen her step hesitated outside a closed bedroom door. It wasn’t time to face what was in there she decided and hurried down to the kitchen where the kettle was just about to whistle its readiness. She poured the water over the teabag in the cup. The scent of orange and cinnamon filled the kitchen as the heat from the kettle warmed her hands.

She took the tea to the living room and built a fire in the fireplace. Watching the flames consume the firewood was nearly as good as watching the water. Fire roaring, she cuddled into the sofa cushions and covered herself with an afghan. It was one she had made, a simple ripple pattern in gold and orange and chocolate brown, back when she was pregnant. That thought led to pain, so she shoved it away and picked up her tea.

Her friends had cared for her after the accident, helping her take care of the house and grounds as her broken arm and leg healed. The brought her frozen casseroles, kept the yard mowed, took her to her doctor appointments. They cleaned the house for her, too, but when they weren’t watching, she went behind them and laid all of the pictures face down. Looking at them was too hard to handle. After she was healed physically, they hugged her and reluctantly left.

Stephanie understood they knew she wasn’t healed yet but there was no reason for them to stay. She thanked them for their help and closed the door softly behind them. Since then she’d spent the days at the stream or if it was raining, watching the fire. The casseroles had been put to good use since she had gone to the store for only the most basic supplies. Aside from tea and toast, she hadn’t cooked a meal since the accident. It created too many memories of better times.

Autumn wound to a close and the colder days made it harder to sit at the stream side. Phone calls came in, inviting her to coffee, to Sunday Brunch, to dinner. It was on a gray day that she answered the phone. She watched a lone, brown maple leaf thrash on the tree branch outside the living room window as the caller asked her to come to a movie with her. Stephanie saw the wind rip the leaf from the tree and watched as the leaf sailed with crazed abandon around the tree and up into the sky out of sight.

Stephanie nodded. “Sure. I’ll meet you in town.” When she hung up the phone she felt better than she had in months, lighter, somehow. She went to her bedroom, showered, changed into jeans and a sweater, and brushed out her hair. As she passed the closed bedroom she stopped and lay her hand on the door. It was still too soon to go inside but she entertained a brief thought of the baby who used to be in there, chubby arms and legs and a dimpled smile. Her throat tightened and tears sprang to her eyes but she could bear it a little.

She passed the door and went to the garage. It occurred to her as she drove to town, that she could get a few groceries after the movie.

The End

925 Words

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Gluten and Dairy Free Oatmeal Chocolate Chip Cookies

Gluten and Dairy free Oatmeal Cookies, Milk

Gluten and Dairy free Oatmeal Cookies with Milk by Randy Cockrell

February, for a lot of you, has been a cold, snowy misery. What better than warm from the oven cookies to make everything feel better. At my house we love oatmeal cookies. My mom sometimes eats them as breakfast. I mean, they’re oatmeal, right? Anyway, this recipe comes from the back of the oatmeal box so super easy to find. I made it both gluten and dairy free by making some substitutions. I also replaced the chocolate chips with raisins so that makes them even more like a bowl of oatmeal in the morning, am I right? Here we go.

Oatmeal Chocolate Chip Cookies

From

The back of the box of Great Value 100% Old Fashioned Oats

Mise-en-place for cookies by Randy Cockrell

Mise-en-place for cookies by Randy Cockrell

1 Cup All Vegetable Shortening (I use lard but if you can find a gluten free veg shortening, go ahead and use it.

1 Cup Sugar

1cup light brown sugar firmly packed

2 eggs

2 T Milk (I used cashew milk with makes this recipe dairy free for my hubby)

1 1/2 tsp vanilla

1 1/2 cups All Purpose Flour (I used a 4 bean flour blend to make the cookies gluten free for me! See the recipe for it below.)

1/2 tsp salt

1 tsp backing soda

1 tsp cinnamon

4 Cups Old Fashioned Oats

1 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips (I used 1 cup of raisins instead)

See the rest over on Chicklets in the Kitchen!

Serial: Lost Rainbows Chapter 2 – Taking His Leave

Lost Rainbows

Lost Rainbows

Chapter Two – Taking His Leave (Lost Rainbows – Serial)

By Connie Cockrell

Shamus O’Malley is on a quest to recover the Leprechaun Kingdom’s magic rainbows and gold before the rainbows are lost forever. To do so he must travel to the new world where he finds the evil wizard, David Bannon, intent on using the magic from the rainbows and the gold to conquer the Leprechaun Kingdom. He also finds an ally, Becca Bannon, the wizard’s niece. Can Becca and Shamus recover the rainbows and gold and defeat her wizard uncle?

This entry is part 2 of 16 in the series Lost Rainbows

Want to start this serial from the beginning? Click here for links to all available chapters.

Taking His Leave

Shamus was in his room, putting the last things he needed in his rucksack. As he buckled the leather straps, a knock came at his door. When he opened it his heart skipped a beat. It was Lyeen, dressed now in a plain, light-green lambs-wool frock, a white linen blouse underneath, lace at the blouse’s collar and cuffs. He stepped back and bowed. “Princess Lyeen.”

She stepped into the room. “I see you’re nearly ready.”

He nodded, his heart beating so fast he could barely hear. “Yes, Princess.”

“Be at ease, Shamus. We’ve known each other since childhood.”

He bowed again. “True, but we’re no longer children.”

She sighed. “Also true.” She looked around. Shamus had made the court-appointed space comfortable, despite the fact it was one of the smallest apartments a courtier could get. He had painted the room a light green so it resembled the light drifting through a clear pond. On the small window-sill opposite the door, a potted rose grew. A single blossom was just unfurling, yellow as the sun. On either side of the window, under which stood his bed, his father’s weapons were displayed. The sword was mounted on one side and bow and arrows on the other. One end wall held a tapestry his mother had woven. It told the story of the family O’Malley. The other end wall held framed, pressed ferns and flowers. The wall on the right side of the door held hooks over a chest for his clothing. On the other side of the door he’d hung drawings and paintings he’d done.

“I like it,” she said as she turned back to him with a smile. “I see much of you in this room.”

“Thank you.” He moved to the bed where the rucksack lay. “I leave as soon as I stop by the armory. I want to get a better sword.”

She looked at him. His shirt was the color of lichen, a blend of grey, green and olive. His jacket and pantaloons were sage green as was the wide-brimmed hat, lain on the bed beside the rucksack. An overcoat also lay on the bed. It was the traditional coarse wool, curly side out, to be worn in inclement weather. “You don’t like your sword? Isn’t that your father’s sword?”

“It is Father’s sword, but I don’t like it for this task. The magic in it is too weak. If I’m to pursue thieves bold enough to steal from the King, I need a more powerful weapon. Father will understand.”

Lyeen nodded. “Of course.” She paused and looked him in the eye. “I have something for you.”

Shamus’s heart, which had begun to slow its rapid beating, sped back up. He repressed the desire to wipe his forehead.

She pulled a pale green silk kerchief, sheer as gossamer, from the bosom of her dress. “This is for you, for luck.” She smiled as she tied the kerchief to his left upper arm. “May it bring you home safely.”

He could hardly believe his luck. They’d always gotten along as children and she’d treated him with kindness and respect during his time as a courier. But this was more than he could have hoped for. Maidens, especially princesses, didn’t give their kerchiefs away lightly. “Th…Thank you, my lady.” He bowed low to hide the blush on his face.

She turned and walked to the door. He heard her open it, and he stood upright. She bowed back. “Good luck, Shamus O’Malley.”

#

Shamus left his father’s sword in his apartment and procured a more powerful sword from the armory. His kind used swords for war and as magic wands. He was sure the thief had used powerful magic to steal the rainbows and wanted to be ready with a weapon capable of fighting back. The King met him in the courtyard where flickering torches lit the cobbled space.

“Majesty.” Shamus bowed.

“Rise, Shamus. I want to wish you luck.”

“I appreciate the blessing, Sire.”

King Shadenan looked around the courtyard. “No horse?”

“No, Sire. I plan on taking the magical roads. I can move faster and the magic used to move the gold will be more apparent.”

The King clapped him on the shoulder. “Good plan. I can see my trust in you is merited.” Shadenan grew somber. “Take care, boy. I would send a platoon with you if any of those sniveling courtiers had an ounce of courage.”

“I appreciate it, my lord, but I can move faster by myself.” He paused. “Did Draum have any other news?”

The King shook his head. “Nothing pertinent to your quest.” Shadenan glanced at Shamus’s upper arm. “I see you have received another blessing.”

A blush crept up Shamus’s neck. “Aye, Sire.”

The King nodded. “Be careful. We don’t know if the monster is still about.” He stepped back and Shamus bowed.

“I’ll send word if I can.” With that Shamus turned and strode out of the sidhe gate.

~~~~~

Lost Rainbows

To be continued…

Come back for more! Look for the next exciting installment each Wednesday.

 

You can read more of this story serially on this website for free or you can buy it and read it now at: Apple, Amazon, Barnes and Noble, Kobo, or Smashwords today!

See more at: www.ConniesRandomThoughts.wordpress.com or https://www.facebook.com/ConniesRandomThoughts

Thank you for reading. You can support the story by commenting or leaving a review. Buy my other books for more reading pleasure. If you’ve enjoyed this chapter, please spread the word, tell a friend or share the link to the story by using the share buttons to your right. The author is part of the Forward Motion Flash Fiction Friday Challenge and the Merry-Go-Round Blog Tour.

© 2015 Connie Cockrell

Monday Blog Post: Am I Catching Up?

February, Gardening, Parsley, Connie Cockrell

February Parsley by Connie Cockrell

 

I had a great time speaking on the 18th, last Wednesday at the Arizona Professional Writers monthly meeting.  I talked about my adventures as an Indie author, provided a hand-out with a ton of great links and sold a few books. Many thanks to everyone who came.

Also on the 18th was the first installment of Lost Rainbows as a serial. It’ll be posted on my blog and on Wattpad (www.Wattpad.com).  I’m ConnieCockrell on that site. It goes live on Wattpad  Wednesday, the 25th.  A new chapter will be released each Wednesday for 16 weeks. Enjoy. I’m also posting my monthly contribution to Chicklets in the Kitchen on the 25th so it’s another banner Wednesday for me. I’ll be showing you how to make gluten and dairy free oatmeal-raisin cookies. Yum! Please feel free to share those posts with friends and family.

The Payson Book Festival planning is moving right along. We’ve begun the Sponsorship drive and you can find a form on www.PaysonBookFestival.org to contribute if you’d like. We have a Kick-off pricing on author tables, too. Half price now through mid-March. Hurry, sign up for a table, you can share a table, too, to make your costs even less. Fill out the Author Registration and get that in to us so we can reserve you a table. They’re going fast at this great price.

The warm weather here has caused the green onions to come up and self-seeded parsley to start sprouting.

February, Gardening, Spring Onions, Connie Cockrell

February Spring Onions by Connie Cockrell

The fruit trees are starting to bud out too. Several flowering trees in the neighborhood are already blooming. It’s too soon, of course. If my fruit trees bloom now, they’ll get frost blasted for sure and I won’t get anything. I keep telling my trees to go back to sleep. I don’t think it’s working. We haven’t had rain in a long time, I may have to water. Ack!

I also volunteer for the Northern Gila County Fair. (www.NorthernGilaCountyFair.com) We’ve come very close to cancelling the fair because we didn’t have enough volunteers. Fortunately, we did a big newspaper and radio push and several people stepped up to help us out. Yay! The 61st Northern Gila County Fair is a go!

The Book Festival and the Fair have been taking a lot of my time this month and I haven’t done much writing because of it. But this week has no appointments so I think I can get back to my writing. My All About Bob story has been languishing long enough. I also need to edit my November story, Mystery at the Fair and finish editing my short story, After Math, so I can re-start submitting it to magazines. Lots of writing still to do, so I’d better get cracking.

Thanks for stopping by my blog today.

Lost Rainbows released January 25th! I’m pretty excited about it. You can buy it and my other books at: Apple, Amazon, Barnes and Noble, Kobo, or Smashwords today!

Flash Fiction Friday: The Vipers

Female Soviet Snipers, himymRobinStinton, Deviantart.com

Female Soviet Snipers by himymRobinStinton via Deviantart.com

 

I thought of this story one day when I read an article about Soviet Army women sharpshooters from World War II who were called The Witches.

The Vipers

It was graduation day. Katarina had spent the last year in training for this moment and now it was here. The graduation was secret, as was her training. No one must know about the mission she had volunteered to assume. She and the other women in her training squadron checked their appearance one more time then lined up in alphabetical order to march single file to the auditorium.

They were the last fourteen of a class that had started with one hundred young women aged sixteen to twenty-five. They marched down the corridor from their dorm, the only voice was the woman at the head of the line giving orders for the turns. They made those turns with precision, just as they had completed their assignments. The final exam was the real test, of course. Six of the young women who had made it this far in their training failed that last test.

Katarina was in the middle of the group of fourteen. They marched out onto the stage, made a left face upon command of the first young woman, and held her head high, eyes forward. She could see a handful of people in the audience. The Forces Commander was there, as was the Chairman of the Department of Homeland Security. The Base Commandant and the Cadre Training Sergeant were on the stage with the women, standing at a podium.

After a few introductory remarks, the Commandant nodded to the Training Sergeant who pressed a button on the remote for the holographic projector. There, between the graduates and the dignitaries, was the record of each recruit’s final exam.

Each one of them had been given a different target. Katarina knew better than to reveal any emotion as she watched the tests of her friends. They had pledged themselves to each other, calling themselves The Fourteen, last night as the vodka flowed freely in the rec room. Each of her friends had been given just as difficult a target as she had. When her recording was played she began to sweat, heart rate racing. It felt just as if she were back there. Katarina had been allowed two weeks planning time, budget to scope out the site, and a case handler, just as for a real mission. She remembered the smell of jasmine in the night air from where she waited for her target. The shot was a long one, the limit of the weapon’s beam range, but the humidity in the air and the fact that there was no breeze made her believe the shot could be made.

Mosquito’s buzzed her head, attracted to the carbon dioxide she released from deep, slow breaths. She remembered telling herself to slow her heart rate, relax her muscles, rest her eyes. There would only be one chance. Even if she managed to escape it would be useless if she missed her target. She would be denied graduation and be sent back to the regular ranks, cannon fodder for the rebel front lines.

As she watched the recording play out she remembered watching the delegation’s air cars land on the roof of the building down the street. The men on the roof moved toward the air car, lining up on either side of a red carpet. The city’s mayor was at the car’s door, opening it, bowing as the War Lord descended the air car’s two steps. The rooftop was lit clear as day as Katarina peered through her scope. She took a final, relaxing breath and placed her finger on the trigger.

The crosshairs fell on the War Lord’s cranium. She had a perfect view of the side of the orange-scales that decorated the side of its gold-skinned head. The creatures all had them, right over where their brains resided inside of their skulls. The War Lord stopped to say something to the Mayor, still bowed. She applied just enough pressure to fire her weapon without any jerk that would throw off the beam.

It took a moment before she could see if she hit it. The tracking ionization for the beam had been disabled so it couldn’t be seen. Through the scope she could see the creature’s head explode, brain, skin and bone showered the Mayor. The War Lord’s body guards surrounded their leader scanning in every direction for where the shot had come from but it was too late. Katarina wrapped her weapon in rags, stuffed the rifle in her bag and hurried from her rooftop position. On the street she looked like any of the thousands of human women combing the refuse piles for food or tradable debris.

Katarina barely saw the rest of the recordings she was so lost in her own memory of the satisfaction she’d had at killing the War Lord. The Training Sergeant called them to right face. Her body obeyed automatically. The Commandant took the podium.

“We are here today to congratulate these recruits for surviving the rigorous training program of the last year. Of the one-hundred young women who started, thirty-seven died in training. Twenty-three were medically discharged from injuries and the remainder washed out of the program or resigned. These are the best assassins in their class. Congratulations, soldiers.” The dignitaries stood and applauded as did the Commandant and the Training Sergeant.

Their names were called one by one, a sharp-shooter medal was pinned to their chests, a photo shaking hands as they received their diploma was taken and they returned to their place. Neither the medal nor the photo could be shown to anyone outside their particular service.

The Commandant spoke one last time. “Gentlemen, I give you the newest class of The Vipers. Glory to the Human Race, may the aliens be destroyed soon.” The applause was sweet in Katarina’s ears.

The End

961 Words

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Serial: Lost Rainbows Chapter 1 – Theft

e-book Cover, Lost Rainbows, J.A. Marlow

Cover for Lost Rainbows by J.A. Marlow

Chapter One – Theft  (Lost Rainbows – Serial)

By Connie Cockrell

Shamus O’Malley is on a quest to recover the Leprechaun Kingdom’s magic rainbows and gold before the rainbows are lost forever. To do so he must travel to the new world where he finds the evil wizard, David Bannon, intent on using the magic from the rainbows and the gold to conquer the Leprechaun Kingdom. He also finds an ally, Becca Bannon, the wizard’s niece. Can Becca and Shamus recover the rainbows and gold and defeat her wizard uncle?

This entry is part 1 of 16 in the series Lost Rainbows

Want to start this serial from the beginning? Click here for links to all available chapters.

Theft

It was a typical evening in the court of the Leprechaun King, Mac Shadenan. The throne room was full. Harpists, drummers, flautists and horn players were halfway down the left wall from the King. The center of the hall’s polished wood floor was filled with dancers. Shamus O’Malley was standing on the right side of the hall near the buffet table, a silver goblet of Irish Whisky in his hand.

Dressed in his court best, he tugged at the collar of his lemon-yellow shirt. Like most of the male leprechauns present, he had on his cherry-red wool weskit and frock coat with seven rows of seven buttons. It was annoying to button all forty-nine buttons but luck was luck. He didn’t want to push any away. His pantaloons and stockings were white and his brogans were black leather and as shiny as his polishing could make them.

He had his eye on Princess Lyeen. She was dancing in the middle of the floor with that half-wit Banar Donovan. Shamus sipped his drink. Banar, he snorted to himself. More like banal, and boring to boot. Lyeen wouldn’t be givin’ him a second look if it weren’t for the five rainbows with their pots of gold at the end that he owned. He put the goblet he was holding down on the table and began to edge his way into the dancers. As soon as the music for this dance stopped, he was going to ask the Princess to dance.

She was a vision. Like most leprechauns, a smattering of freckles crossed the bridge of her nose, accenting the creamy, smooth skin of her complexion. Merry blue eyes flashed with her laughter. Best of all though, to Shamus, was her hair. His own could be best described as orange. But hers, left unbound as was customary among unmarried maids, hung to her waist. The burnished gold highlights in her dark red hair set off the gold of the dainty, diamond-encrusted crown around her forehead that held her hair back from her face. She’d chosen to wear green today, setting her apart from the traditionalists in the court. When she’d come into the room earlier in the evening, she’d set their tongues wagging.

“She’s not wearing the traditional red!” one old biddy whispered loud enough for the people on the other side of the hall to hear.

Her neighbor nodded. “What are young people coming to?” she lamented. “Defiance, that’s what it is.”

That’s what Shamus loved about Lyeen. She had spirit and flair. Too bad her father didn’t consider Shamus’s worthy. True, he was tall for a leprechaun, four foot three inches, which worked in his favor. But there was only one rainbow among his whole, large family. The gold was spread thin. Despite that, he was determined to get the Princess’s attention, gold or no gold.

He had nearly reached her when the guardsmen at the door to the throne room called out, “Courier for the King, the great Mac Shadenan! Make way for the Courier!”

The dancers split apart, moving to each side of the hall. He was separated from the Princess as she moved to the other side. Reluctantly he backed up to make way. The courier, dressed in woodland colors to better blend into the environment, entered the hall and staggered across the floor to the king. Dirty and road weary, the man looked as if he had been through every bramble in the kingdom.

Twenty feet from the throne, the courier dropped to his knees in exhaustion. King Mac Shadenan leaned forward on the carved, backless wooden seat. The red pillows could barely be seen under the red wool cloak the king wore, with a gold harp pin holding it together at his shoulder. His advisors, two on each side of the throne, whispered to each other.

“What say you, courier?” the King asked.

“My Lord,” the man gasped. “The rainbows are gone!”

While one of the advisors hurried to the courier’s side with a goblet of wine to help revive him, the court burst into loud cries and lamentations. Shamus noticed that Banar grew quite pale. Princess Lyeen, though, he saw with a great deal of admiration, straightened her spine and, head held high, strode to the front of the room to stand beside her father’s chair.

There was so much confusion and consternation, the King signaled the guard near him to pound on the floor with the butt of his spear. He stood up.

“What is this caterwauling? You all sound worse than the animals in the humans’ zoo at feeding time.” King Shadenan glared at the people in the hall. The horror of being compared to those poor creatures confined in unnatural habitats stunned them. They shut up.

He stepped off of the throne’s platform and pulled the courier to his feet. “Come, man.” He clapped the courier on the shoulder. “You’ve had a bit of wine to refresh yourself. Tell us your news.”

The courier nodded. “I’m Draum, son of Fitz.”

The courtiers nodded. Fitz was a high-ranking member of the court. Draum was in service to the King, as every courtier’s able-bodied sons were at one time or another. Shamus had been a courier himself upon his eighteenth birthday for twenty years. That had been a long time ago.

“Sire, the treasury was robbed. All of the guards are dead. I don’t know how I escaped the explosion but something large and ferocious chased me nearly all the way here.” He looked down at his appearance. “My apologies, Sire, for appearing before you in such a state.”

The King clapped him on the shoulder. “No need to apologize, young Draum.” He motioned for one of the guards standing near the throne to come to him. “Take Draun to the baths. Get him food and drink and fresh clothing. We’ll talk to him again in two hours.”

The guard led Draum away through a side-door of the hall near the throne. The courtiers refilled the hall and whispered to each other. Shamus began edging his way to the front of the room. The Advisors had surrounded the King. As he neared he could hear a furious discussion going on between them.

“Sire,” the eldest Advisor said, “we need to send guards to assess the damage.”

“Yes,” said the youngest. “How do we know if Draum is telling the truth?”

“Majesty, we should send someone to bring back the rainbows.”

The King stood still in the rain of comments and suggestions, nodding at each person as they spoke. Shamus moved up to stand directly behind the King. When the suggestions died down, the Advisors waited for the King to speak.

“We will send an investigator,” the King announced. “Someone from our court, someone trustworthy.”

They all nodded.

“But who?” the eldest Advisor asked. “Perhaps the savage beast that chased Draum is still lurking about.”

“I’ll go,” Shamus piped up.

The entire group turned to stare. Shamus began to blush under the inspection.

The King nodded. “It’s dangerous, you know. The beast may still be outside the sidhe.” Their villages, the sidhe, pronounced shee, were hidden by magic. The leprechauns had long separated themselves from the world of men. King Mac Shadenan ruled all the sidhe of the leprechaun kingdom, scattered far and wide across the men’s countries of Ireland, Scotland, Wales and England. The leprechauns kept track of the world of men but since the loss of their gods, the Tuatha De Danann many centuries ago, they had no choice but to hide. It was safer to stay in their hidden kingdom, and they flourished in their own way.

Shamus breathed a sigh of relief. As a courier, he’d always gotten along with King Mac. “I understand, Sire. But the kingdom’s treasury has been stolen. If we wait too long, all evidence of the dastard will be gone and the trail cold. I’ll leave immediately. The sooner I go, the sooner the rainbows may be recovered.”

Lyeen had joined the circle of Advisors. She smiled at Shamus and he nearly missed the King’s words.

“Good idea, Shamus. You will be my representative in this. Leave at once. Draw whatever you need from the armory.”

Shamus bowed. “Thank you, Sire. I’ll depart as soon as I can.”

He turned and hustled down the middle of the court, the courtiers parting in front of him. The murmurs began as soon as he passed.

~~~~~

Lost Rainbows

To be continued…

Come back for more! Look for the next exciting installment each Wednesday.

 

You can read more of this story serially on this website for free or you can buy it and read it now at: Apple, Amazon, Barnes and Noble, Kobo, or Smashwords today!

See more at: www.ConniesRandomThoughts.wordpress.com or https://www.facebook.com/ConniesRandomThoughts

Thank you for reading. You can support the story by commenting or leaving a review. Buy my other books for more reading pleasure. If you’ve enjoyed this chapter, please spread the word, tell a friend or share the link to the story by using the share buttons to your right. The author is part of the Forward Motion Flash Fiction Friday Challenge and the Merry-Go-Round Blog Tour.

© 2015 Connie Cockrell

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

New York City, Dusk, Lights

The big city by Randy Cockrell

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

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

I love living in the country but with so much space between people it’s harder to see the interactions. In the city though, people rub up against each other like sandpaper. The veneer is rubbed off fast and what’s underneath is the real story. So yeah, I’d say the city, where life is compressed and the action is right at the surface.
The Merry-Go-Round Blog Tour is sponsored by the website Forward Motion (http://www.fmwriters.com). The tour is you, the reader, travelling the world from author’s blog to author’s blog. There are all sorts of writers at all stages in their writing career, so there’s always something new and different to enjoy. If you want to get to know the nearly twenty other writers check out the rest of the tour at http://merrygoroundtour.blogspot.com!  Up next: Jean Schara

Monday Blog Post: Big News February 18th

Connie Cockrell, speaking, Soroptimist meeting.

Connie Cockrell speaking at the December Soroptimist meeting.

I’m speaking on Wednesday at the Arizona Professional Writers monthly meeting. It’s held at the Payson Public Library Community room at noon. I’ll be talking about my adventures as an Indie author and will bring some books for signing. I hope to see you there.

Lost Rainbows is up on both Smashwords and CreateSpace so you should be able to find the book on Amazon, Barnes and Noble, Apple and other sites, see the final paragraph, below. But I’m also experimenting with making the book a serial. I’ve set up the 18th as the first installment of the book. It’ll be posted on my blog and on Wattpad (www.Wattpad.com). Wattpad is a Reader/Author connection website, not social media but a place for readers to find great new authors. Since Lost Rainbows is a novelette for younger readers and Wattpad has the same demographic, I thought this site would be the best place to serialize the book. A new chapter will be released each Wednesday for 16 weeks. Enjoy.

The Payson Book Festival planning is moving right along. We’ve begun the Sponsorship drive and you can find a form on www.PaysonBookFestival.org to contribute if you’d like. We have a Kick-off pricing on author tables, too. Half price now through mid-March. Hurry, sign up for a table, you can share a table, too, to make your costs even less. Fill out the Author Registration and get that in to us so we can reserve you a table. They’re going fast at this great price.

I released February’s newsletter yesterday and it was chock full of great information. I put a coupon in there, too, for newsletter recipients only. Don’t miss out on these great values, sign up for the newsletter on my blog, www.conniesrandomthoughts.wordpress.com. You’ll get the scoop on what I’m writing much earlier than I post it here.

Thanks for stopping by my blog today.

Lost Rainbows released January 25th! I’m pretty excited about it. You can buy it and my other books at: Apple, Amazon, Barnes and Noble, Kobo, or Smashwords today!

Friday Flash Fiction Story: The Casino

River, Casino, Laughlin

River View of Casino Laughlin Nevada by Randy Cockrell

The ringing bells and chimes of the slot machines nearly drowned out the rock music playing in the background. Rosa began to panic. The rent was due and if she didn’t pay it this month she and her kids, Tito and Maria, would be out on the streets. She punched the play button as if it were the enemy. A little old white lady had sat beside her this morning. Right next to her, the woman’s diamond rings flashed in the artificial light of the slot machine floor.

Her machine’s bells rang and rang. The woman’s tightly coiffed blue curls shone in the flashing lights. “Oh my, God! Oh my, God! I never win at these things,” she went on and on. And what did she need the money for anyway, all those diamonds and fancy clothes? Rosa watched the pictures on her machine spin around and stop with a match that repaid her fifteen credits. Bah, what good was fifteen credits? The woman this morning won $10,000! She punched the play button again, the electronic dials spun.

And where was her no good husband? Prison for selling a little pot. Bah, the police and the courts knew nothing. What else was a poor person to do to escape life’s miseries but smoke a little weed in the evening to relax? The counter deducted another 40 credits from her total. She didn’t have much left. She whispered a little prayer. “Mother Mary, please help me,” and punched the play button again.

Her abuela had told her last month that she wasn’t going to help her with money any longer. Grandmother promised to take in the kids but not her. If Rosa was going to waste her little bit of money on the gambling, abuela was done with her. What kind of mother would that make her, dropping her own babies off on her grandmother? “Please, Mother Mary. I don’t need ten thousand; five thousand will cover the late rent.” She pushed the button again, part of her prayer.

She was distracted by a slot machine’s winning alarm going off three machines away. A young man was fist pumping and jumping up and down. Gold chains on neck and wrist and a diamond pinkie ring flashed in the lights. She noticed her machine had deducted another forty credits. Her eyes rolled to the ceiling, condemning Mother Mary. “Again? He obviously doesn’t need the money. Please!”

There were a hundred and twenty credits left, three more plays. She won twenty credits, then fifteen. “Thank you, Mother Mary.” Rosa hit the play button again. “Just three thousand dollars, Mother Mary. Please?” she prayed as the pictures spun. She won fifty credits. This was good. Things were going her way now. Rosa had to use the bathroom but she’d been on this machine all afternoon. If she left someone else would get the jackpot she’d been working for all day. There was no way she was leaving in the middle of a winning streak. Her silent prayers continued at each press of PLAY.

A loss came up, forty credits deducted. “I’m on a winning streak,” she told herself as she punched the button again. Another forty credits disappeared.

“Come on,” she pleaded with the machine. “Give me a jackpot.” She played again, and again, and again, the credits steadily dwindling.

She ordered tequila when the drinks waitress came around despite the pressure in her bladder. The credits disappeared. She dropped a single dollar on the waitress’s tray when she brought Rosa’s tequila. A little good karma, she thought as the waitress moved on and she downed the drink in a gulp. See, Mother Mary? I’m a good person. A little help here? Rosa pushed the button again, forty more credits gone. Only two plays left. The children were coming home from school and she needed to be there. “Come on,” she urged the machine. The pictures spun, there was no match.

Her fist pounded the machine. A nearby casino security guard cautioned her about abusing the machine. Rosa’s bladder complained again. She crossed her legs and apologized to the guard. “Jesus, please, help me.” Once more she pushed the button, aware of the guard watching her. Her eyes were intent on the spinning pictures. “A match, please, Jesus. I’ll come to church and offer a candle every morning.”

She didn’t make the spinning stop. Let them roll until Jesus stopped them. The pictures fell into place, there was no match. Rosa screamed her frustration and pounded on the face of the machine, there were no credits left. The security guard hurried over. “Miss, you’ll have to leave now.”

Tears ran down her face as the nearby players turned to see what the commotion was about. “I can’t leave now. I can get credit!” The guard murmured into his shoulder radio as she beat on the control face of the slot machine. “I need to win. My rent is due.”

The back-up officer arrived. They each took hold of one of her arms and began to drag her away. “Nooooo,” she yelled as she tried to dig her flip-flops into the multicolored carpeting. Her bladder gave up and urine gushed onto the floor. The guard’s faces showed their disgust. Rosa stopped yelling and blushed scarlet, her shorts and legs wet. She submitted meekly as one of the guards used his radio to call for clean-up in area twenty-three.

They took her to an office where they made her sit on a plastic trash bag in a standard office visitor chair. Her picture was taken despite her disheveled hair and running mascara and she was given an official letter that told her she was banned from the casino for life. On the sidewalk outside the casino she stood and stared at the entrance. It was so beautiful, all light and glitter, lovely people laughing as they freely walked through the welcoming doorway. It was all gone. All of it.

 

 

The End

994 Words

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