Anti -Scammer Advice for the lovelorn ;)

scammer-101

Let’s consider this anti-scammer 101.

I will be your teacher as I have found that scammers love me on Twitter.

They are military men that love to reach out because they love my profile picture. (Red flag # 1)

They love to read and find my blog posts fascinating (perhaps red flag #2)

These men are highly educated and are at least Majors or Generals.  (Red Flag #3)

These military minded men are also based in many areas of the world doing humanitarian work for me, Ms. Joni Q Public. ( I admit that one always gets me. )

Continue reading “Anti -Scammer Advice for the lovelorn ;)”

31 Days of October: A Haunting Collection of Hallowe’en Tales

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  • Print Length: 224 pages
  • Publication Date: September 29, 2016
  • Sold by: Amazon Digital Services LLC
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B01LZO325X

The anthology has been published and is available on Amazon in paperback and on Kindle just in time for the Halloween season.

I was fortunate enough to be involved in an anthology with a wonderful writers group on Goodreads. At the first of the year, an announcement went out that Writers 750 group was planning to release a book of short stories based on Halloween, things that make you shiver, and things that go bump in the night. Basically a good old fashioned scary story book. It was fun to allow myself to write in a genre that I had never broached before. I was able to write two stories that will be in the upcoming book. There are 33 stories and 23 authors involved in the project. If you are interested in joining a group that puts together books like this, then join us on goodreads.com. The group Writers 750 is an active and very creative group.

There are several different types of stories, some for every age bracket. Even some in the back portion that will frighten you and keep you up at night! If you like ghosts, creatures, and good scary stories, this might be a collection you will want to sink your teeth into, but beware, it might bite back!

31 Days of October
A Haunting Collection Of Hallowe’en Tales
Edited by Glenda Reynolds, Shae Hamrick, and Stephanie Baskerville
Featuring:

  • Terry Turner
  • Lena M. Pate
  • Glenda Reynolds
  • Lisa M. Collins
  • Andy McKell
  • Lynette White
  • C. Baely
  • Mary Ross
  • Cora Bhatia
  • Mirta Oliva
  • db Martin
  • Rebecca Lacy
  • Elaine Faber
  • Elizabeth Ann Boyles
  • David Russell
  • Shae Hamrick
  • Gene Hilgreen
  • Linda L.Taylor
  • J. Rene Young
  • Sojourner McConnell
  • Joe Stanley
  • Stephanie Baskerville
  • Christene Brion-Jones

This is my first anthology and I am so excited to have 2 short stories included. I hope you will enjoy the stories as much as I have. 31 Days of October is listed on Goodreads and is available in paperback and Kindle format by clicking the link below.

| KindleUnlimited | Amazon | 

The Difference a Day Makes by Sojourner McConnell

Pushing the window up the teenage girl watched as her cat strolled in as calm and proper as you please. Carrie brushed her hand down the tawny cats back and gently pat the end of his tail.  The cat leaned forward and brushed his nose against Carrie’s face before jumping off the sill and crossing the room.

Carrie lowered the window and went back to her bed. Now she should be able to concentrate on the book she was reading without the cat mouthing “meow” at the window.  Buster the cat had always been such a drama queen of a cat. He would stand just out of reach and mouth “meow” as if he were too weak from hunger to ask for food.

Carrie had owned the cat for the last four years and they were so bonded that Carrie felt that he knew all her secret feelings and fears that she told no one else about.  In fact Carrie had sung secret songs to Buster soft enough that he alone could hear. Carrie was always sharing her deepest innermost secrets and feelings with the green eyed companion.

Busters climbed across the dresser and over to the night stand where he batted at the pen that was lying beside her journal. The lamp s circle of light gave Buster a place to warm himself under the bulb. He always laid on this night stand and watched as Carrie carefully noted her days events and creative ideas that she remembered from the day.

Carrie had started writing in her journal at the start of ninth grade when her literature teacher had suggested it.  That was two years ago and now it was just part of her daily schedule.  She could not sleep well if she didn’t at least try before sleeping.  Tonight was no different and she began to jot down her feelings about the family outing.

Today had started as most weekend mornings did, with pancakes and chocolate milk.  She hated milk so her mother accommodated her with the chocolaty treat in order to keep the peace.  Carrie had been so stubborn in her dislike over milk that she and her mother had come almost to blows. Not a good way to start the day, so they came to a compromise, chocolate for peace. It seemed to be working well for everyone.

Once the breakfast treat was past the family jumped into the SUV and headed to the local pool.  Mom had packed the SUV early this morning and so there were floats for the little ones and lots of soda and snacks in the cooler for them all.

Dad and Mom stayed close to the twins, since they were only five years old and allowed Carrie to hang out in the deeper end of the pool without too much interference.  She knew how to swim and besides, she mostly hung around on the edge of the pool with her legs dangling is so that she could see and be seen by her friends as they entered the enclosed pool area.  Carrie knew the moment Trenton entered the pool’s eight foot gate. It is like radar when he is close. She can feel him before she ever sees him.

She wasn’t sure if he felt the same, I mean he never spoke to her or acknowledged her in any over the top way. He sometimes slid a little smile that only she could see. It was enough for her to know that he was interested, even if only a little.  That was enough for her.

Carrie pushed the sunglasses down to her nose and felt comfortable that her eyes were now covered well enough by the dark tint that she could freely watch him as long as she did not turn her head too much. So her eyes cut to the left and watched him as he strode past her and planted himself somewhat near her and dangled his feet in the water right at the seven foot marker.

If he had wanted to he could have reached out and touched her with his fingertips.  He did not seem to want to at this moment Carrie realized.  He seemed content to sit close without speaking to her or acknowledging her overtly.

Carrie acted cool about the near contact and stared down at the water so that he couldn’t see her watch him out of the corner of her sunglasses. That would have been so embarrassing, if he had noticed her peeking over at him like that.  So she stared into the water and pretended that she could not see his handsome face reflected there in front of her.  As she watched the image would ripple in and out of focus and she squinted to make it clearer.  She smiled.  No one knew what she could see.

Suddenly she was looking at his profile, shimmering in the water. He was looking at her. Directly with his head turned at a right angle against his shoulders, he was looking at her.

She felt her face become warm and hoped that he would think she was just getting too much sun. She did not want him to know she was blushing.  She fought with herself not to look up at him, but she failed.

She could not resist turning her own face toward him. She wasn’t made of stone, who could resist that?  She fought to keep the silly grin that was threatening to appear at bay. He didn’t need to see that too.  She needed some secrets. She couldn’t be an open book to him.  But no matter what she told herself, she could feel that grin splitting apart her lips and growing into a full blown smile.

Gah, Carrie…really? Stop this!  Look cool, look casual.

Blinking once, twice and then a third time before widening her eyes and looking directly into those green eyes of his, she acknowledged his glaze.

She did not say a word; she only looked at him, breathing slow and steady waiting to see what he had to say to her.  She waited to see why he had turned so blatantly toward her, in public no less.

“Hi Carrie, Are you going in today? Or just sitting on the edge?”

Carrie blushed, she knew she did, she could feel the heat of her cheeks flaming. Swallowing hard she bit her bottom lip and said, “ I am going to go in later, right now I am just enjoying the sun on my back. Are you going in?”

Carrie felt that was a good response. She mentally congratulated herself for her cool calm demeanor.  She looked at his mouth as she saw that he was about to speak. She licked her lips as she waited for him to respond.

“I am going in, I just wanted to know if you would hold my watch if you were not swimming today.  I will stick it in a locker instead.” He laughed then said, “I am just kidding, I was wondering if you wanted to swim with me. I have wanted to ask you for a while, just didn’t have the nerve.”

Carrie started laughing, first out of shock then out of genuine humor at his behavior.  He was funny, she knew that already.  What she did not know was that he was shy about girls and now he wanted to hang out with her.

She stood up and walked down to the steps and waded into the pool.  Trenton stood and followed her stepping into the shallow water at the same time.   Slowly they waded into the deeper area before Carrie dipped under the water getting acclimated to the chilly water.  Trenton dipped down beside her and started swimming toward the deeper end.  She followed doing an underwater crawl until they both came to a halt at the ten foot mark.  There they held onto the side and began to talk.

For the next three hours they told each other about their families, pets and school histories. Both had been hesitant to start but after they started they had plenty to say to each other over those hours.  When Carrie’s Mom called her to come get a drink, snack and some more sun block, she asked Trenton to join her.  He surprised her by accepting. He again surprised her by being comfortable and friendly with her parents and little sisters.

At the picnic table they both pulled out their phones and exchanged numbers so that they could continue to talk in text.

As she was writing about this in her journal, she realized this was the first time a guy had shown such interest in her, and she really liked it.  It made her feel special. She never expected today to go like this in a million years and now that it had, she wanted more days just like this one.

As Carrie  closed her journal for the night,  she heard the little ping from her phone. She looked over and was thrilled to see that it was a text from Trenton.

Yes, she was going to have more days just like today, and she couldn’t wait.

 

 

 

 

 

Dragon Bones by Sojourner McConnell

Dragon bones? Are you sure you heard that right?”

I wasn’t falling for some silly Internet prank if I could help it. I wasn’t born yesterday so I wanted to have all the facts laid out in front of me before I believed this news and started passing it along as I was prone to do. Not that I blab everything I hear, I probably don’t do that. Ok, so sometimes I do pass along interesting tidbits.

Katie nodded solemnly, “I am positive, I saw the bones on YouTube and they were real. It is just a skull but it has all the ingredients of a dragon. Pointed nose, pointed horns on its head. It was a dragon.”

“Hmm… I am going to look for myself and make sure.” I reached for the laptop and pulled it into my lap. Clicking the icons and waiting for the screen to load I asked Katie a few more questions, just for my own peace of mind.

“Was it anywhere else other than YouTube? You know people play pranks on YouTube with homemade videos, don’t you? I continued to type in the words dragon bones into the search bar and waited.

“Yes, Amelia, I know that people play pranks on there, but this is true. I even saw the cover of National Geographic with a picture of the dragon. It doesn’t get any more real than that.” Katie formed quotation marks with her fingers as she spoke the last few words.

I did feel more confident once she produced the name  National Geographic. Although I was a bit annoyed at her use of the quotation marks. They always made me feel like I was being made fun of when she used them.

“Ahh here we go, hmm… I don’t see anything that would be like what you said. There is nothing about a dragon bones being found.”

“Did you put in Dracorex Hogwartia? I think that is how you say it.” Katie leaned over and watched the screen as I typed in a rough spelling of what she had said. The screen flickered for a moment then a revised response came up featuring the results for Dracorex Hogwartsia complete with images and links.

“There! See!” Katie was practically jumping up and down on the cushion next to me on the sofa.

“I see it; hold on let me click the link. Be still you are going to break the sofa. Then where will Sasha sleep?”

Sasha raised her head from her paws and gave an annoyed look, then she yawned and wagged her tail in a jerking motion. I wasn’t sure if she was more annoyed with the bouncing or my saying her name. She just looked completely annoyed as only a cat can.

I looked back down at the video that had finished loading and had started playing. The first thing I heard was that they had found a skull in North Dakota and it was an almost complete skull and several vertebrae intact. The skull had the thin narrow face of a dragon and had prominent horns and spikes. Plus there were bony deposits that formed scales. This thing had all the facial features of a freaking dragon!

My breath caught and I squealed into Katie’s face. “Oh my goodness, it is real!”

Katie pointed back to the screen. “Look, see, I told you, National Geographic!”

I looked over and there it was, a man sitting in front of the dragon skull holding a copy of National Geographic that happened to have that same skull on the cover. A smile crossed my face as I watched them discussing the eating habits and the fact that this dragon, dinosaur lived on what at their time was seashore. The scientist even explained that at this period in history the ocean went straight through the United States because the oceans were higher since there were no ice packs at that time.

Both of us were utterly quiet as we listened to the dinosaur expert explaining about this dinosaur that looked so much like a dragon.

“I owe you an apology” I acknowledged after the Director of the Dinosaur museum finished talking. I shook my head in disbelief. “If I had not seen it for myself, I never would have believed it. You were right.” I told her then I muttered, “for once.”

Katie rolled her eyes and blurted out, “I am always right. You just always have to try to prove me wrong. This time, you failed!” She pointed both thumbs back at her chest. “Winner!”

Sasha stood up arched her back and hopped off the couch, even she had had enough. Katie and I both rolled our eyes at her.

Dracorex Hogwartsia

The Final Decision by Sojourner McConnell

ibnalStepping outside the door bumped against Meagan’s heel. The wind was brushing her hair across her face and she squinted into the sunlight. She wondered aloud “is this tornado weather?”
Studying the sky she shook her head and decided that it did not have that spark in the air that made her aware of a tornado on the horizon so she visibly relaxed.

Reaching behind her back she pulled the door firmly closed and checked it once to make sure it was locked. Sure, she remembered the days when you did not have to lock the doors in her small town, but that was not the way to stay safe anymore. Her children always reminded her to lock the door before leaving home and she complied.

Today was hard for her in so many ways. Today was the first day without her mother. Her mother had been the voice of wisdom for the last thirty five years. Here she was heading into town to pick out the urn for her mother’s ashes. She wasn’t even sure at this point if she wanted an urn to pass around from person to person. She wasn’t even sure anyone else would want her mother placed in a position of honor on a mantle in some unused living room.

Maybe one of those free spirited ceremonies where the family meets on a shoreline or a favorite mountain top and sprinkle the ashes into the wind. She kind of thought that she might become covered in ashes and that left a distasteful smirk on her face. Her luck she would swallow some of the ashes or something equally as horrid.

It really was not the best time to be the eldest of the three siblings. If she had just been born a few months after Caroline then all this would fall on someone else’s shoulders. But no, she was the eldest, so she was expected to be the mature one with all the innate knowledge of how to properly see someone off to the hereafter.

But Darn it, she didn’t have a clue. Google helped some, “thank God for Google” she muttered to herself as she plopped into the car and cranked the engine. “Who would have thought that you would have to get permission to toss ashes into the air at the local state park?” Not worth it, she thought. Not worth getting the state officials involved in this. It was enough that people were going to have to fly in from other states just to play ring toss with her mom’s ashes.

It looked like she was going to have to fly in at least four of the grandchildren if they were going to participate in this yet to be determined celebration of life. They certainly loved their Grammy and wanted to be there. It wasn’t their fault that husbands, jobs and a sense of adventure had taken them away from the family hometown.

Meagan wasn’t even sure she liked the term celebration of life, didn’t they celebrate every opportunity they had while Mom was alive? It seems a bit strange to call this event a celebration. Maybe she was just warped by grief right now.

She had not been expecting her mother to die like this for a long time. She wasn’t that old. She didn’t seem to be sick. How can a heart just give out like this? Wouldn’t there have been some signs she could have noticed to keep her mother alive longer?

Meagan shook her head and blinked back the hot tears that threatened to spill down her cheek. “Mom, I can’t believe you are gone. None of this seems real to me. Help me know what to do, what to say.”

Meagan had a sudden memory of her mom on the day that her grandmother had passed away. She could almost hear her mother telling her “Do not spend a fortune on the trappings of an elaborate funeral. It is a waste of money and I will not be there anyway. So do not make a spectacle of me when it is my time.”

Was her mother reminding her of that day so that she would know what to do? Meagan felt the peace come over her in a rush, like the incoming tide flowing over her feet at the beach. It was a warm feeling that eased away so much of the fear she was feeling.

“Mom, Is that you?” Meagan closed her eyes for a moment and just breathed in the calm peaceful spirit in the car. Opening them she noticed the light had turned green and she sped along the main street heading toward the only Funeral home in town.

Mr. Aldwin met her at the door and held out his hand to her in a consoling gesture. “You must be Mrs. Brand, I am so sorry for your loss. If you will come with me we can take care of the arrangements for Mrs. Jefferson. I know you have a lot to do today. We will try to make this as painless as possible.”

Meagan nodded and frozenly followed him into an office filled with thick hard binders that featured caskets and urns. She felt like she was in a dream. She almost snickered at his grim expression that was meant to convey pity and understanding. It really did nothing but make her uncomfortable and a little embarrassed. Yes, she felt grief, but she did not feel that she was going to make this the huge program he expected her to purchase.

Her mother surely sent her that memory so that she would not end up as Aunt Jayne had, broke and struggling to make ends meet, while her dead husband laid in the most expensive casket in town. She remembered that conversation and it was drumming in her head louder than Mr. Aldwin’s voice. “Do not pay for the additional police escort.” Once again the voice in her head referring back to Uncle Chuck’s parade of police cars that cost Aunt Jayne more than she had allotted to spend.

The entire morning had been filled with bits and pieces of memories that had been told to her in preparation for this day. She never realized it until now, but she was being given the knowledge to survive the process of planning her mother’s funeral. She just never thought about it that way, until now.

Mr. Aldwin brought out all of the 8×10 glossy photographs of the available caskets and urns and flipped through them one by one. Making small comments about the upgrades and the accessories that each entailed. Silks, satins, and velvet in all colors were presented to her in vibrant color.

Meagan’s head pounded. The throbbing matched her heartbeat and it thrummed throughout her body until it crested in her head with forceful blows.

“I have decided on cremation. That is what Mom wanted and I have decided to go along with her wishes.” She spoke more forcefully than she had intended and Mr. Aldwin looked rather taken aback. “In place of an urn, I would like to bring a vase that she loved. It is carnival glass and it meant so much to her. Is that a problem?”

Mr. Aldwin agreed that that would be fine and assured her that they could have the funeral before the cremation took place for visitors and family to say their final farewell. After all the paperwork was filled out, Meagan left and went back to her home. She called her sister and brother and explained her decisions and her rationale for those decisions.

Caroline and Glenn were both very understanding and agreeable to her choices and asked if they could join her at her home that evening to talk about things.

“Of course, I want to see you all. Come as soon as you wish. I will be here all evening. Tomorrow is another day of errands and trying to get everyone here for her service. We have to decide what we want to do with Mom’s ashes. I want you both to help me decide.”
Within an hour all three siblings were seated around the large oak dining room table with a cup of coffee in hand and a paper and pencil in front of them.

It wasn’t long before the giggling started. All it took was Meagan stating in her clear no nonsense voice, “I do not want to have Mom’s ashes in my hair or my mouth. I say we bury the ashes in Mom’s garden.”

“Eww, gross Meagan,” Caroline shivered and announced.

Glenn looked mortified as he too shook his head strongly at his sister. He was speechless until that first rumble of laughter burst out of his mouth.

He tried to cover his mouth before anyone noticed, but it was too late. Once that first peal of laughter sprang forth they all burst into laughter. The laughter was interspersed with hiccuped sobs and lingering giggles.

All three looked at each other and smiled. This is how their mother would want them to handle her death. Not with formal police escorts and flower strewn cemeteries, but with laughter and love and memories.
They came to the conclusion that they did not want a windy beach or a mountain top scattering, they wanted to gather in their mom’s garden. Bring as many family members as possible and place her in the well-tilled soil of her rose garden.

Four days later with family, friends and former co-workers that is exactly how they said their final farewell to the woman that loved her family and her garden.

Everyone remarked on how much she would have loved the laughter that spilled through her yard as they told stories and shared memories of a sweet loving wonderful woman that was known as Helen Jefferson, Mom and Grammy.

Rose