Thursday Thoughts: Universal What’s What

The world is crazy. I get out of bed in the morning and it’s like my head explodes multiple times before I can even finish my first cup of coffee. Yesterday, it was an Amber Alert–a 10 year-old boy. His mother left him along in her car when she went into a casino. A stranger stole the car–and the boy. Luckily, the dude was caught within a fairly short time. The boy is safe. The dude is arrested. And the Chickasaw Lighthorse, which is the tribal police department, arrested the mother. There’s more insanity going on with the government that I won’t rant about because I don’t normally get political or religious in public. Suffice it to say that I’m trying very hard to stay away from the news these days. Anyway, it’s Thursday and my thoughts turned to this tidbit from the Universe, which kinda fits.

Sometimes the people who know, Silver, don’t know they know. And sometimes the people who don’t know, think they do know.

But you can always tell who is who, because, of course, with knowing comes tolerance, and patience, and love.

Come as you are,
The Universe

You know I get these things from watching you, Silver?

I have a meme in my “wisdom” file that says: Don’t underestimate me. I know more than I say, think more than I speak, & notice more than you realize. As I ignore the BS happening out there in the wilder world, I can only hope that I’m not the only one these thoughts apply to. The world is going to hell in a handbasket and there’s not much I can do about. It’s hard to be tolerant of stupidity. It’s hard to be patient when those who are allegedly in charge ignore or alibi the chaos. And it is truly hard to love those who hate me for no discernable reason other than my skin color or that my views differ from theirs. Even so, I don’t want to wallow in dispair. I don’t want to think the worse of the world. I want to find good people who are tolerant and patient and who love. Guess I’d better start looking harder, huh? Luckily, those of you who drop in here? Yeah, I appreciate you for provided an oasis of calm and sanity in a mad, mad world. Thanks.

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Wednesday Words: Peace and Quiet

Wednesday means it’s time for #1lineWed words and today’s theme is **PEACE**. This snippet comes from Ronan and Maura’s first meeting at a fancy charity event. She’s there with her boss, the District Attorney. Ronan and friends are there to keep an eye on said boss and a mob guy with ties to the DA.

Ronan nodded and followed Maura. He didn’t question how Declan knew about his interest in the woman and Roman would be pumping him for information about her soon. Maura didn’t go to the ladies room. Instead, she found an exit and stepped outside. He waited until a couple exited a few minutes later and followed them out. Breathing deeply, he searched for a scent he’d had only a faint whiff of. There. He followed that elusive trail. At the sidewalk, he turned right and followed the woman’s scent. He found her on a ramped walkway surrounded by a wrought-iron railing. The window behind her cast a soft glow and the music provided a muted background melody.

He walked up to her, not bothering to mask his approach. She watched him through intelligent blue eyes. Her hair was caught up in some fancy twist atop her head. Her face held both strength and softness and he’d offer a thousand dollars to kiss her full lips. He stopped a few feet away, inhaling her scent deeply. His wolf demanded to come out to play. The damn thing wanted to take the woman to the ground and roll around on her. He understood as the man held similar desires. She smelled of something floral and delicate, like cherry blossoms, with something a bit wilder beneath, like the smoke from a Samhain bonfire.

“So,” he said. “You’re Crenshaw’s personal assistant.” He couldn’t help the sneer in his voice.

“No,” she countered. “I’m one of his ADAs. As in Assistant District Attorney.” She had a pretty good sneer of her own.

Ronan blinked. He should have made the connection because Declan had been complaining about this pain-in-his-ass assistant district attorney named Brannigan. He smiled. “I stand corrected, counselor.”

Maura rolled her eyes, still assessing the man who’d so casually strolled up to her. She caught him watching her and wondered if he’d caught her watching him back. There was an air of shrewd intelligence about him. He wasn’t an attorney but she had the niggling feeling that she should know who he was. His dark suit was impeccable, hand-tailored, and very expensive. His shoes showed the same amount of luxurious indulgence. Short blond hair, a chiseled face that was too rough to be truly handsome, and clear gray eyes that seemed to see everything at once. This man was a natural-born predator. And she was intrigued.

“And you are?” She placed her hand in the one he held out without thinking first and a frisson of desire swept over her..

“Ronan O’Connor.”

She jerked back, a convulsive reaction to his name. Ronan O’Connor? He was one of the biggest thugs in Boston. How did she not know what he looked like? He didn’t release her hand and she choked back a wave of dismay when she realized she didn’t want him to let go.
He smiled, not trying to hide the laughter in his eyes. “I see you’ve heard the name.”

“Ya think?” she snapped.

His smile deepened. “I understand you’re giving an attorney I know fits.” Her forehead crinkled as she thought and Ronan fought against the need to kiss the frown away. “Declan Donahue,” he supplied when she continued to look confused.

She rolled her eyes. “The feeling is mutual. Trust me.”

A slow ballad wafted through the windows. “Would you care to dance?”

He reeled her into his arms and that’s when Maura realized he’d never released his hold on her hand. He held her gently, like she was something delicate. He wasn’t heavy-handed, didn’t force his lead on her like Alex had. Dancing with her boss had been torture. This? This was far too close to heaven for her peace of mind.
I have news for Maura. Poor gal ain’t gonna have any peace and quiet for a very long time to come. 😉 As for Ronan? Well, y’all can guess from the reaction of his wolf what’s in store for him. This is part of the Moonstruck Mafia series, after all. Writers, any peaceful words to share? Readers, do you like “meet cutes” between heroes and heroines?

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Tuesday Treats & Titles: Triple-Chocolate Whoopie Pies

Y’all know that I was pretty much born, bred, and raised in the south. Or the southwest, as the case may be, since I live west of the Mississippi. And growing up, I’ll admit that Whoppie Pies made me laugh. There’s just something about the name that makes me giggle a little. But it never kept me from wolfing one down when my dad would splurge. These are easy, yummy, and nostalgic.

Total Time: 51 Min.
Prep Time: 20 Min.
Cook Time: 31 Min.
16 servings

Treat yourself with a chocolatey spin on an old favorite. These Triple-Chocolate Whoopie Pies will be you and your family’s new favorite dessert!

What You Need
1 pkg. (2-layer size) devil’s food cake mix
1 pkg. (3.9 oz.) JELL-O Chocolate Flavor Instant Pudding
3 oz. BAKER’S Semi-Sweet Chocolate, melted
1 pkg. (8 oz.) PHILADELPHIA Cream Cheese, softened
1 cup JET-PUFFED Marshmallow Creme
1 tub (8 oz.) COOL WHIP Whipped Topping, thawed

Let’s Make It
1 – Heat oven to 350ºF.
2 – Prepare cake batter as directed on package except use 3/4 cup water. Stir in dry pudding mix and melted chocolate. Drop 2 Tbsp. batter, 2 inches apart, into 32 mounds on baking sheets.
3 – Bake 14 to 16 min. or until toothpick inserted in centers comes out almost clean. Cool on baking sheets 3 min. Remove to wire racks; cool completely.
4 – Beat cream cheese and marshmallow creme in large bowl with mixer until blended. Gently stir in COOL WHIP.
5 – Place bottom sides of 2 cookies together for each whoopie pie, spreading about 2 Tbsp. COOL WHIP mixture between cookies.

Kitchen Tips
Tip 1 – Substitute: Use 1 pkg. (3.9 oz.) JELL-O SIMPLY GOOD Chocolate Flavor Pudding

Tip 2 – Size Wise: Enjoy your favorite foods while keeping portion size in mind.

Tip 3 – Substitute: Prepare using a red velvet or carrot cake mix.

You know the routine. CLICK OVER to My Food and Family for all the nutritional details. Several of my characters are also have southern roots, including ARFF (Airport Rescue Firefighter) Kit Carson. Her mate, Homeland Security Investigator Derek Alexander, loves when she bakes. He’s been known to make all sorts of sexy promises to get her into the kitchen. They meet in the middle of a plane crash scene and things spiral out of control in CRASH AND BURN. If you’re interested in their story, just click on either of the pics with the cover or the title. You can read it for free with a Kindle Unlimited subscription. What about y’all? Do you have a favorite childhood treat?

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Just Another Monday

It’s Monday. A new week. Midway through September with the first day of Fall coming mid-week and a promise of more fall-like weather on the horizon. I’m so ready. Life in the summer is like the lyrics to the Ella Fitzgerald song “Summertime.” You know the one…”Summertime and the living is easy….” Only maybe not so much. Lazy would be a better term there but doesn’t rhyme. Anyway, we have a new week stretching out. What are we going to do with it?

While contemplating that, let’s look back. There was a week and a weekend. There was some writing going on. Again, not much, but some, including a snippet that won me a flash fiction challenge and the 250-word snippet is expanding into a full-fledged scene and maybe even a chapter. Slow and steady. I keep telling myself it’s okay.

I’m still piddling around with clearing, sorting, and cleaning sections of my office. The time will come when I’ll have to figure out what to do with all of Only’s stuff that still here. I’m not sure there are big enough tubs in the world. 🤣 And I can’t say a whole lot because the “hoarding” is in her DNA. From both sides. I have made headway. This week, my goal is to strip out old files to clear up storage space in my two file cabinets and the tall bookcase that will eventually go at the end of my desk once I turn it around. At least I have a plan. That’s something, right?

Speaking of TV, I broke down and upgraded to Hulu+ with gives me ESPN+ (very good for college softball in the spring) and Disney+. Maybe I’ll actually binge watch “The Mandolorian” one of these days. In other subscription news, I cancelled my Kindle Unlimited subscription. That was $10 bucks a month I wasn’t utilizing except when friends published a KU book. I always buy their books anyway so they’ll still get some royalty. Reading is hard and I reserve my eyesight for close friends who don’t publish in audio. Anyway, that savings went toward the Hulu deal. Whatever.

In sports news, Stormy’s team won their game this week. Yay! He got two hits and two RBIs. He came home with us after the game to spend the night because school teacher in-service day on Friday. He plays catcher and the coach provided the gear. The chest protector and hockey-style helmet fit fine but the little dude is TALL for his age and the leg guards just didn’t fit right. Being pushovers as grandparents, we ordered a new set that will fit. Hopefully, they’ll be here tomorrow in time for his game. Not holding my breath on that one.

In other sports news, OSU is still undefeated. They played Boise State and managed to hold onto their 1-point for the whole second half. I gave up watching. That blue field is just too hard on the eyes. OU beat Nebraska–and boy it’s been a long time since that rivalry has been played! It was a tight game. College football is crazy. There were upsets and close calls all over the place Saturday. In baseball news, my Cards swept the Mets and then came home and swept the Padres. They are currently in 2nd place in the NL Wild Card race. They have a tough row, though. Games against division leader Brewers and then the Cubs in an away, away, home and home set of series. All I’ll say is they’ve played some mighty fine baseball this past week and weekend.

As far as reading goes, I’m still in something of a slump. I sort of fell into re-listening to a paranormal series that’s very, VERY sexy. As in, there’s a lot of it going on with some action and emotion tossed in the mix in-between the other. I know what I’m getting, it’s a series so I can just move to the next books, it’s from the library so free, and I don’t have to go looking or make a decision on what to listen to and how to give it a fair review if it doesn’t fit my headspace. Which is pretty convoluted at the moment. My headspace. And that sentence. LOL

My life is pretty mundane. Always. I appreciate y’all checking in each Monday to find out what’s up in my world. I’m always nosy about what’s up in yours. Drop a comment and let me know the 4-1-1 in your lives.

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Friday Sinema: Paso Doble

Since I’m apparently still in a Zorro state of mind, here’s another favorite scene from THE MASK OF ZORRO, a 1998 film that has withstood my test of time. Also, dancing! I do wish I’d been able to find a decent clip that shows the very end, when Elena’s father…apologizes for her behavior. LOLOL Have a great weekend!

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Thursday Thoughts: Universal Shoulda, Coulda, Woulda

There’s an old saw about 2020 hindsight. What does an old saw have to do with sayings that have been around so long they’re original usage is lost anyway? You’d have to go back to about 1595 and the weird way English was conjugated back them. Basically “saw” is the equivalent of “saying.” Anyway. I digress. Another saying, not nearly so old but old enough because it was popular when I was in junior high (said term no longer existing as it’s now called middle school and/or mid-high, depending on your location but I digress once more…), was “shoulda, coulda, would” which pretty much translates to that whole 2020 hindsight thing. Anyway, this little tidbit from the Universe caught my eye.

Silver, there will always be something else you could have said. There will always be something else you could have done. And there will always be another life you could have lived.

But, frankly, we’re still savoring all you did say, do, and become, in spite of so many reasons that you might not have.

The Universe
© ®

Yeah, “What would Silver James do?” is part of our pop vernacular now. And you should see your pending endorsement deals! Magic carpets, body wands, pixie dust, the works!

In many ways, this applies to writing. Because, you know, my life is all about stringing words together to tell a story. I don’t know of one writer who doesn’t want to “fix” something once their work has gone to print. I seriously think that need is hardwired into our DNA. But this also affects us while we are in the process of writing. Each scene opens up a world of possibilities for the next scene. Hero and heroine have a big fight. He walks away. Gosh, what should happen? What could happen? What would happen if….? See what I mean? Endless possibilities that all depend on the type of story, where in the story, the personalities of our characters and the circumstances in which they find themselves. The biggest dilemma is deciding which shoulda/coulda/woulda scenario tells the best story, and tells the story you want to tell. Decisions, decisions. Writers, do you agree? Readers, do you have a tough time making decisions? And yo, Universe! I’m paying bills today. I sure could use some of those endorsements. Any time now… 😉

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Wednesday Words: Sword Play

How can it be Hump Day already?!? Silly time slips mean it’s time for a new snippet to share. Today’s #1lineWed THEME is ***SWORD**. I had no sword snippets. I considered a character falling on his sword. Nope. None of my Wolves would be down with beating their swords into ploughshares–if they even knew what that meant. (Okay, so I just finished the latest Eve Dallas/In Death book and Eve is notorious for questioning sayings like that!) Then there’s double-edged swords, and crossing swords. I tossed all of those, closed my eyes, and this is what my fingers typed:
Ronan leaned a shoulder against the door jamb and stared, bemused, at the big screen TV. A man, all in black, wore a mask that only covered the top half of his face and a black, flat-brimmed hat. The mask looked to be made from a black silk scarf with eye holes cutout. He appeared to be in a barn. Or a stable. Ronan wasn’t sure. He also pranced around and waved a sword at a very pretty dark-haired woman wearing a blue robe. They both held swords and parried back and forth as some Spanish-sounding music teased the scene.

Ha. The woman drew “first blood” by cutting the bloke’s shirt. They backed apart, challenged each other with a glance. The man took off his hat and then the woman stripped out of the robe. He blinked. What the bloody hell was she wearing? Pantaloons? And a camisole or whatever the fuck that thing was that covered some rather luscious breasts was called.
He glanced at the couch. Maura and Shannon both sat on the edge, leaning forward, expressions avid as the battle raged. Ronan couldn’t decide what was more interesting—the women or the movie.

“Wait for it,” Maura ordered, a hint of anticipation in her voice.

He returned his attention the the TV just in time to see the camera focus on the male actor’s face with some flicks of the sword on the peripheral. The guy looked like curiously confused dog as he tilted his head this way and that. Then the camera turned on the woman. She stood there defiantly, facing down the rogue. Until her clothing fell off.

“How have I never seen this movie?” Shannon gasped. “I mean…Antonio Banderas is to die for!”

“I love this scene,” Maura admitted.

Shannon sighed. “That kiss.”

“No, but he was young and vigorous,” Maura said, mimicking the actress’s accent. “He was very vigorous, father.”

The two women burst out laughing and clinked their beer bottles together in a toast before they drank. Ronan glanced over when he realized his brother was also standing in the doorway. He choked back a laugh as Mick, head tilted with that confused dog look on his face, watched the woman.

“What’d I miss?” Mick whispered.

“Evidently, we should watch this movie.” Ronan lifted his ching toward the TV.

“What’s it about?”

“Some Spanish guy with a sword and a way with beautiful women.”

Mick rolled his eyes. “Is sword some sort of euphemism?”

Before Ronan could reply, Maura and Shannon yelled out together, “The Mask of Zorro,” 

“There ya go, Mick. The Mask of Zorro.” Then Ronan added under his breath, “And yeah, I think it might be. A euphemism. “
And there ya go. That’s a little spur-of-the-moment writing based on the the prompt. The good news is, it’s a keeper scene, I think. Do you agree? Writers, any sword snippets to share? And readers, do you have a favorite “duel” between the sexes scene?

Plus…bonus! Here’s the clip. (And yes, it IS a favorite of mine!)

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Tuesday Treats and Titles: Caramel Apple Bombs

Is it even possible? Did I hear the long-range forecast correctly? A high in the 70s next week? Dude! I’m soooo ready. It’s also State Fair time and when I first saw this recipe, I’ll admit it reminded me of some of the more sublime state fair food. And apples are always yummy in the fall so there’s that.

Total Time: 1 Hr. 15 Min. (incl. cooling)
Prep Time: 25 Min.
Cook Time: 50 Min.
16 servings

Bite into a delicious taste of autumn with Caramel Apple Bombs! Made with cinnamon, pecans and more, Caramel Apple Bombs are perfect for a fall party.

What You Need
1 pkg. (3.4 oz.) JELL-O Vanilla Flavor Instant Pudding, divided
1/2 tsp. ground cinnamon
1/4 tsp. ground nutmeg
2 small Granny Smith apples, peeled, chopped (about 2 cups)
1/4 cup water
2 cans (8 oz. each) refrigerated crescent dinner rolls
3 Tbsp. butter, melted
25 KRAFT Caramels
2 Tbsp. milk
1/4 cup coarsely chopped pecans, toasted

Let’s Make It
1 – Heat oven to 350ºF.
2 – Combine 1/4 cup dry pudding mix and spices. Add to apples in medium bowl along with the water; mix lightly.
3 – Unroll crescent dough; separate into 16 triangles. Spoon 1 heaping Tbsp. apple mixture onto shortest side of each triangle. Fold dough over apple mixture, completely enclosing apple mixture. Pinch edges of dough together to seal.
4 – Place, seam sides down, in 9-inch round pan sprayed with cooking spray; sprinkle with remaining dry pudding mix. Drizzle with butter.
5 – Bake 33 to 35 min. or until deep golden brown; cool slightly.
6 – Microwave caramels and milk in small microwaveable bowl on HIGH 1-1/2 to 2-1/2 min. or until caramels are completely melted and sauce is well blended, stirring every minute. Drizzle over dessert just before serving. Sprinkle with nuts.

Kitchen Tips
Tip 1 – Special Extra: Serve topped with vanilla ice cream or low-fat frozen yogurt.

As always, MY FOOD AND FAMILY is the place to find all details. It’s cooler (a little) up north so I immediately thought of MONTANA MOON, a stand-alone Moonstruck Wolf crossover novel. Since finding her mate in Tait “Shooter” McCord, Lauren Reilly is adapting to life in the wilds of Montana. She sure doesn’t miss life at the Pentagon–especially not since someone tried to kill her. She likes nothing better than to whip up these yummy treats and curl up with a good book while eating one. Tait is slow to admit his sweet tooth but the Wolf doesn’t apologize for taking two at a time. 😉 If you’d like to read their story, just click on the cover pic, or the title. You can read it for free with a Kindle Unlimited subscription. Tough question today… Would you rather eat one with ice cream or plain?

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Monday the 13th

Question. Why is Friday the 13th considered unlucky and Monday the 13th isn’t? Asking for a friend.

Jake got a bath yesterday. Nothing like the smell of wet dog permeating the air. He’s all fluffy today and has sort of forgiven me. I’ll take him to Wallyworld here in a little bit and get him a puppucino on the way home. That’ll make him happy.

I did no writing this weekend. I meant to. I opened the MS. I stared at it and then I purposefully got distracted. The 3-hour nap I took on Saturday was also a contributing factor. I did get new words last week so i’m hanging in. Barely. I have no timeline for the publicvation of this book and maybe I should make one. I can’t decide if I work better under deadline or not.

Sports were interesting. OSU won 28-23. Other than a 95 yard kick-off return, there wasn’t much to write home about.. OU really won (76-0), and I can’t even accuse them of running up the score because they took out their starting quarterback at half-time and it was the freshman QB who added 30+ more points. On a happy note, the other OSU got beat and dropped in the polls. Oh darn. In baseball news, Stormy had a decent game Thursday night. He hit a single and a double and scored some RBIs. He’s also getting a little better behind the plate. He blocked more balls, made good throws back, and seemed a bit more comfortable back there. It takes time and practice. And speaking of baseball, my Cardinals took 2 of 3 from the Reds so they are moving closer to “winning” the 2nd NL team spot in the Wild Card race. They still have a ways to go but the Reds were ahead of them. Now the Reds, and Padres all need to start losing. LOLOL The Dodgers pretty much have the first slot sewn up so I’m rooting for the second spot!

In “housekeeping” news, I think I’ve finally figured out how to reconfigure my office.  Now all I have to do is sort through 20+ years of junk accumulated by both me and Only, as this was her bedroom before she got married and moved out. I claimed it for mine once that occurred. Sadly, she still have stuff here. It’s only been 10 years or so. 🙄 Anyway, next comes the logistics. My desk will be easy, I’m simply moving it from one wall around the corner to the intersecting wall. But, I have to move a file cabinet and 3 bookcases before I can do that. And before I can move them, I have to clear out a drafting table that is stacked beneath and on top with loads of stuff. Then I have to move the armoir that holds the TV and some storage to that wall so I can have the wall where the armoir currently resides free for the bookcases. See my dilemma? Sadly, I’m not desperate enough in my writing frustration to actually start sorting crap. Imma gonna need a bunch of boxes, tubs, and trash bags. I should take before and after pictures. Or maybe just after. The before is pretty darn ugly.

As y’all know, my sleep pattern have been mostly f*cked for awhile now. When we hit the time change, does that mean I’ll be wide awake at 3 or 4 instead of 4 or 5? In the a.m. Ugh! Also, Aloof Cat™ (aka Loki) has been caught napping on the bed. As long as I ignore him, he stays curled up at the far corner at the foot of the bed. If I notice? He’s gone. I miss kitty snuggles. Ah well.

In reading news, I little irked at a well-known author. In back-to-back books, she’s taken shots at my home state and I wondering why she has such a hard-on for us that she feels the need to villify us. And she only makes one major religion the villain when there’s been far more evil perpetrated by another. It’s a long-running series, and a fave of my but I’m getting really sick of political agendas in fiction. You want to blame one group, fine. But be fair and blame others in the next book. There’s enough blame to go around. Getting off my soap box now.

Time for one last cup of coffee and then errands. If Jake and I go early, we get to see our favorite associates there and get in and out before the crowds hit. Also, before it gets hot. I have no plan for this week other than Stormy’s baseball game on Thursday evening. Maybe new words. Maybe sorting. I got the laundry done yesterday. I might should do some ironing. Or maybe I’ll actually cook something “fancy” for dinner one night. Or not. LOL What are your plans for the week?

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Friday Sinema: God Bless America

Tomorrow marks 20 years. I thought this “flash mob” was fitting. And no, I didn’t have dry eyes when while I watched. I love this country and it stands for. ‘Nuff said.

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