Friday Sinema: Genii in a Gravy Boat

This one is for my friend, B.E. Sanderson who writes an amazing Djinn series and will totlally crack up over this one. Have a great weekend!

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Thursday Thoughts: Universal Fortunetelling

So. I used to tell fortunes. Sort of. Very seldom for others, usually for myself. I used tarot cards. And I once tried Viking runes. I never got an intuitive feel for them like I did the tarot. I used tarot cards in two of my books–one published, one not. I really should get SHADOW DANCE published one of these days. I thought it was a cool book, but the first in a trilogy. I need to finish the other two. Some day. The other was a little witchling who read the tarot cards in Jackson Square in New Orleans and she was claimed by a gargoyle. THE SOUND OF SILENCE is also a pretty cool book, even if I say so myself. Anyway, I found this message from the Universe rather interesting…

Truth be told, Silver, no matter how logical or intuitive you are, neither of these virtues, no matter how greatly you were endowed, will ever enable you to peer into the future and reasonably predict the twists and turns your life may take, nor the circumstances, fortunes, and friends that might someday be your own. It is, in fact, impossible.

That’s what imagination is for.

Thoughts become things,
The Universe
©www.tut.com

So, Silver, how’s the new year looking?

As you know, I tend to relate these bits of wisdom to writing, and today is no different. We’ve discussed process several times. I’m also going to compare this to something I learned about ADD (Attention Deficit Disorder). A psychologist explained things like this: Some people are farmers. Some people are hunters. Farmers plan. They prepare the land, plant the crops, watch them grow, harvest them, and sell or use the products. Hunters go out, often on their own, and they have to be hyper-alert and vigilant, lest they miss their prey or become the hunted instead. She mentioned that Americans seemed to have a higher incidence of ADD and she equated that with the type of personalities who settled this country. Realize, this was 30+ years ago, but the analogy made a lot of sense to me at the time.

Some people are plotters (the farmers of the writing process). They go about planning a book methodically with outlines and character bibles and follow the logical plot they created. Me? I can’t. My brain isn’t wired that way. I’m mostly a pantser (the hunters), ie. I write by the seat of my pants, on the fly, jotting down whatever crazy pops into my head. I say mostly because I’m also a puzzler.

When I start writing a book, if you delve deep enough into my brain, you’d see all the straight-edge puzzle pieces fitted together in a natural framework. That’s the world and the major characters, even if I know little more than a name and/or a description of those characters. Then, over on that far side of the table, there are pieces fitted together with partial pictures showing. Those are scenes–some full-blown, others just the bare minimum. And sometimes those clumps of puzzle pieces don’t fit anywhere in the current framework. But, they will fit somewhere. Eventually.

Yes, my brain should probably be featured on one of those hoarder reality shows. The thing is, this is what works for me. And the Universe is right. Some people can peer into the future and predict their story. Their logic and intiutive feel for things doesn’t lead them astray. Not me. Nope. I rely totally on my imagination to provide those twists and turns, new “friends”, the circumstances and the fortunes. And that’s okay. 

Writers, where do you fall on the “spectrum?” And how’s your year ahead looking? Readers, have you ever had your fortune told? Did it come true?

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Wednesday Words: Time to Take Out the Trash

Friday is trash day around here but Wednesday’s #1lineWed theme is **JUNK, TRASH, GARBAGE.** And boy did that fit right in with the scene I needed to write yesterday. Warning, this is a first draft. It might be boring. I’m still working on characters, settings/world-building, and the plot. Hopefully, by the time I type The End, it’ll be exciting and compelling and all y’all will want to read it. One of the major characters–this IS something of an ensemble cast–is starting a mob war in Boston for…reasons. Anyway, The first shot was fired in Chapter 1 and this is the beginning of Chapter 3.
****
The Eastside Rovers held court in a joint called the Bayside Bar. Located at the corner of East Second and Acadia, it wasn’t much to look at. The place occupied the first floor of a triple-decker. Jack and Seamus lived on the top floor and the second floor contained rooms for their boys to flop in, along with office space. The bottom floor had been painted a dull brown, the windows blocked off with wood, except at the very top. The bit of space at the back was crammed with junk, trash, and a Dumpster close to overflowing. The stench of spoiled food and stale beer was enough to gag a maggot.

Ronan shook his head in disgust. Evidently, the O’Ferrells weren’t paying their bills. Mick rolled his eyes at the mess. They continued walking down the street to the front door. There was no sign on the outside. They waited, just out of sight should that door open.

One of the boys slipped in the back door after jimmying the lock. He was back in a matter of moments. “Full house,” Sean reported. “Jack’s at the bar. No sign of Seamus. They’ve got their girls in there tonight, like a party. They’ve no clue about Willie and they’re all about three sheets in the wind.

The Rovers enjoyed the flesh trade though their whores did not. Ronan had heard more than one complaining about the working conditions. Then the rumors started coming in about the new flesh available to special customers, about girls who never worked the streets. Ronan wanted to find out about that but he’d need Seamus. Jack ran the gambling and the smuggling. Seamus was all about the girls.

“How many?” he asked Sean.

“About twenty.” He rubbed his jaw. “And maybe fifteen women?”

“What’s our plan?” Mick asked.

Ronan smiled and more than one O’Hara man shuddered at the frigid resolve wafting off him. “We’re going to take out the garbage.” He retrieved his phone from his pocket and made a call.
****
There it is, for better or worse–and I suspect a lot of it will end up in my trash folder. Or maybe not. Anyway, writers, any trashy words to share? Readers, who takes out the garbage at your house? 😉

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Tuesday Treats and Titles: Bacon-Wrapped Cheese Bites

I grew up in the Southwest. Sweet and spicey is a standard combination in food. I also like jalepenos, cheese, and bacon. I mean, seriously, what’s not to find yummy there? I’d never thought about adding a little sweet to this particular favorite appetizer.

Total Time: 30 Min.
Prep Time: 10 Min.
Cook Time: 20 Min.
9 servings (2 bites to a serving) Really?!?! I’m thinking this recipe needs to be doubled or tripled!)

Take ordinary cheese bites to a new level with these Bacon-Wrapped Cheese Bites. Made with apricot preserves, jalapeño slices, bacon and cheese, these Bacon-Wrapped Cheese Bites will fly off the plate.

What You Need
6 Tbsp. apricot preserves
18 slices OSCAR MAYER Fully Cooked Bacon
18 drained pickled jalapeño slices
6 sticks KRAFT or POLLY-O 2% Milk Mozzarella String Cheese, cut into thirds

Let’s Make It
1 – Heat oven to 375ºF.
2 – Cover rimmed baking sheet with foil; spray with cooking spray.
3 – Spread 1 tsp. preserves onto each bacon slice.
4 – Top each jalapeño slice with 1 cheese piece; wrap with bacon slice, preserves side facing in. Secure with wooden toothpicks.
5 – Stand wrapped cheese pieces on prepared baking sheet.
6 – Bake 10 min. or until cheese is melted; cool slightly.
7 – Transfer wrapped cheese pieces to platter. Drizzle with any glaze remaining on baking sheet.

Kitchen Tips
Tip 1 – Make Ahead: These cheese-topped pickled jalapeño slices can be wrapped with the preserves-topped bacon slices ahead of time. Refrigerate up to 24 hours before baking as directed.

Tip 2 – Note: You will need to purchase 2 packages (2.52 oz. each) OSCAR MAYER Fully Cooked Bacon to get the 18 bacon slices needed to prepare this recipe.

I do ❤ My Food and Family. Be sure to check out all the nutritional info for this recipe. I also happen to love Hawk Greenwood, the Choctaw hero of RESCUE MOON, likes his snacks sweet and spicy, just like his mate, anthropoligist Dana Peterson. The Special Operations soldier goes south of the border to rescue the woman destined to be his. If you haven’t indulged in this stand-alone (even though there are cameos by other Wolves), just click on the cover or the title. It’s free to read with Kindle Unlimited. Dana’s gotten quite adept at whipping up a big batch of these whenever Hawk’s favorite team is playing on TV. 😉 Question of the day: Your favorite sport and favorite team?

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Just Another Monday

July is just past half over. Two weeks left until we hit August. Days are slowly getting shorter and nights longer. I don’t have a problem with that. These are the dog days of summer, the lazy dazy days of summer, the…well, you get the drift. It’s hot and humid and nobody around here much wants to stick their noses out from under the air conditioner. On that note, I guess I should update anyone who might be interested.

There was a smattering of writing done, though most of my writing brain was centered on research. I have a whole list of characters–good guys and bad ones. I have places where they hang out and live and I’ve started chapter 3. That’s something, right? Oh, and I have photos of 3 of the heroes and one of the heroines. I don’t think the Irish Wolves will each get a story. It seems like all their stories are tied together. I’m not really familiar with this new Vella (straight to mobile/episodic) platform introduced by Amazon, but it might be something I try with this book once it’s written. We’ll see.

My Cardinals have done a little better since the All-Star break. They split with the Giants 2-1. Any time they win the split, it’s a good thing. I paid close attention to the game yesterday afternoon just in case I spotted some familiar faces in the crowd. Didn’t see ’em but got pics on messenger which gave me a happy.

Speaking of TV, OMG! The finale of “The Secret of Skinwalker Ranch” was covered in crazysauce but it didn’t end on a cliffhanger. Winter was moving in so they shut down the investigation for the year. I can’t wait for the next season to start. There is some seriously crazy-weird $h!+ going on out there in Utah. Yes, I don’t believe we’re the only ones in the universe(s). Even so, the stuff that has happened and is happening in the Uintah Basin.

On the reading front, I added a couple of new releases to my Goodreads challenge last week–Jennifer Estep’s CAPTURE THE CROWN, the first in the next trilogy of her Crown of Shards world. AWESOME BOOK! That was followed by the next in Kristen Ashley’s Dream Team series. It was okay. I’m currently doing a semi-marathon re-listen of Nalini Singh’s Psy-Changeling/Trinity series, starting with ALLEGIENCE OF HONOR, then SILVER SILENCE (my favorite in the whole series!), OCEAN LIGHT, currently open. I’ll start WOLF RAIN today, then ALPHA NIGHT. The newest entry, LAST GUARD, releases tomorrow. I’ll be caught up and ready for it by the end of the week.

Stormy came for a visit and to spend the night. He’s such a joy. Smart and growing like that proverbial weed. In other family news, Uncle Fix-It came to help get my washer fixed. I can now do laundry though there is another part that needs replacing. I’ve been assured that Lawyer Guy has the expertise to cover that when the part arrives. LG also got our new kitchen fan up and working. I had to read the instructions to him at one point. Long story, and one that made me laugh, but I’ll be nice and not poke fun at him.

And that’s pretty much my current life. Why y’all stick around amazes me but thank you! I promise I’m trying to be more interesting. Sh’up! I can hear you laughing. At least I’m writing again so there’s that. In other news, what’s up in your world?

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Friday Sinema: Marvel Mom

🤣🤣🤣🤣 Southern Moms have the power. Trust me! Have an awesome, and laughter-filled, weekend!

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Thursday Thoughts: Universal Smiles

Jake and I went to Wallyworld yesterday. There are a few of the associates who are special friends where Jake is concerned. And it seems we always bump into a stranger who needs a pet. Sometimes, they’re just having a bad day. Sometimes, they aren’t feeling well. Sometimes, they just need to focus on something besides themselves. And Jake is very good at that. Through Jake, I’m learning to do it too. Which makes today’s message from the Universe rather apropos.

You just never know, Silver, who in the crowd, standing beside you in line or passing you in the street, might be raised in spirit, or even lifted from despair, by the kindness in your glance or the comfort of your smile.

But they may never forget.

Supersize me,
The Universe
©www.tut.com

Silver, it takes so little.

So today, think about showing a little kindness. Share a smile, a greeting. And get one in return. It really does do wonders.

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Wednesday Words: Not a Cloud in the Sky

The sun is shining, the birds are singing and the Irish contingent of the Moonstruck Mafia series is jabbering away in my head. I don’t see a **CLOUD** in the sky to rain on their parade, despite the fact that I keep “shipping up to Boston” via Google maps. Still the last paragraphs of the opening chapter have the #1lineWed theme word–CLOUD–in it so here’s just a tease. To set the scene, Ronan O’Connor is the heir-apparent to the Irish mob. His younger brother, Mickey, is his #2. They “run” a bar called Clancy’s and the cops are serving search warrants on all the mob’s properties for…reasons. Anyway, Foley (who might be a dirty cop) is throwing insults and Ronan has made him cool his heels. Mickey, keeps snickering or tossing out comments only Ronan can hear. And here we go…
****
Ronan ignored his brother. Foley was a tool, to be certain, but they had no reason to play the cop’s game. “Mickey, go with the nice detective and make sure his men don’t damage the stock.”

“You can bet we’ll check every last damn bottle.”

Allowing a hint of a smile to lift one corner of his mouth, Ronan acknowledged Foley. “I’m sure you’ll find tax stamps on all of them, Detective.”

Mick moved to the door and opened it, waiting for Foley. He shot his big brother a look and got a slow blink in reply. The O’Connor boys never forgot a thing and their da had left them with one lesson: O’Connors never held a grudge, they always got even.

Foley brushed past and attempted to jam his elbow into Mick’s gut in a show of either scorn or intimidation. Mick didn’t move and flashed a grin at the startled cop as he all but bounced off before crashing into the door frame.

“Well. That’s sure to leave a bruise.” Then Mick pointed to the CCTV camera aimed at the door. “You won’t be tellin’ tales out of school, will ya now? After all, we can’t help that yer a clumsy igit.”

Foley righted himself and scrambled out into the hallway, face red and curses dropping from his lips like boos raining down on the Yankees during a Red Sox game. Mick exchanged another look with Ronan then followed the tool cop down the hall.

Ronan closed his eyes, listening as Foley and his men clattered down the stairs. His brother’s footsteps were lost in noise made by the others, not that Mick stepped heavy. There was another thing they shared with their da—and Brian. The Lupi versi pellis gene. Literally translated, it meant the man who wears the skin of a wolf. Wolf shifter. He’d never bothered with the science of it but knew it was a mutant gene attached to the Y chromosome.

His inner wolf chose that moment to stretch and raise his head. The thing snorted in disgust after Ronan took a deep breath. The cop’s aftershave hung in the room like an oppressive cloud. In self-defense, he stood and strode over to the window. He raised the sash and looked down on Dorchester Street. Cop cars blocked traffic in both directions. Boston drivers, not known for their great driving skills—or their patience—to begin with, played bumper cars with horns blaring. He shut the window.

The phone on his desk rang and he grabbed the receiver. “O’Connor.”

“They’re here at the warehouse.” Declan Donahue, his third in command sounded amused.

“I hope you are cooperating,” Ronan replied dryly.

“Oh, aye. We’re legitimate businessmen around here. We have manifests for every crate.”

Just like at Brian’s house, the cops would find nothing at the warehouse or here in Clancy’s. Especially not here. The bar was home base for the O’Hara mob. Yeah, bootleg booze made it’s way onto the shelves behind the downstairs bar and lots of cash showed up on the books but Clancy’s was a thriving business and had been for a hundred years. Of course, Southie gangs had fought over this turf for near as long. And given Brian’s orders, they’d be fighting for it again.

After all, the war had just begun.
****
And there it is, the hook at the end of the first chapter. I hope it’s good enough to make readers turn the page for Chapter 2. Writers, any cloud or cloudy words to share? Readers, how’s the weather in your neck of the world?

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Tuesday Treats and Titles: Chocolate Chunk-Streusel Coffee Cake

So. I’m a sucker for chocolate chunks. And streusel. And coffee cake. I mean, coffee cake is da bomb, right? People can eat it for breakfast, lunch, mid-afternoon snack, dessert after dinner, midnight snack. It’s perfect in my book. But today, it’s perfect for munching while reading someone else’s book! 😉

45 Min(s)
20 Min(s) Prep
25 Min(s) Cook
24 servings

Try Chocolate-Streusel Coffee Cake with chocolate chunks, slivered almonds & freshly brewed coffee. Chocolate-Streusel Coffee Cake is a nice morning treat.

What You Need
2/3 cup flour
1/2 cup packed brown sugar
1/4 cup cold butter, cut into small pieces
1 cup chopped slivered almonds
1 pkg. (2-layer size) yellow cake mix
brewed strong MAXWELL HOUSE Coffee (any variety), cooled
1-1/2 pkg. (4 oz. each) BAKER’S Semi-Sweet Chocolate (6 oz.), chopped

Let’s Make It
1 – Heat oven to 350°F.
2 – Combine flour and sugar in medium bowl. Cut in butter with pastry blender or 2 knives until mixture resembles coarse crumbs. Stir in nuts.
3 – Prepare cake batter as directed on package, substituting the brewed coffee for the water.
4 – Pour into 15x10x1-inch pan sprayed with cooking spray; sprinkle with half the chocolate. Top with nut mixture and remaining chocolate.
5 – Bake 20 to 25 min. or until toothpick inserted in center comes out clean. Cool completely.

Kitchen Tips
Tip 1 – Special Extra: Melt 2 oz. additional BAKER’S Semi-Sweet Chocolate as directed on package. Drizzle over cooled coffee cake; let stand until chocolate is firm.

My Tip – Any brand of coffee works, but since I borrowed this recipe, I figured I’d leave the branding intact.

As always, MY FOOD AND FAMILY has all the delicious nutritional details so click on over there to check them out. And you’ll notice that there’s three book covers over there on the right. Why? Because my good friend B.E. Sanderson is having a book sale and her main character, Jeni Braxton from the A Model Curse series, would binge on this coffee cake. Starting today, the A Model Curse trilogy (and it’s complete!) is available for less than $2.  Sleeping Ugly is free through Saturday.  Ugly and the Beast and Cinder Ugly are 99¢ each through next Monday.  Three books for $1.98. The world building is awesome, the snark is snarky and there’s a talking cat. Trust me, these urban fantasy books are worth it for the cat. And Jeni. She’s awesome. FYI, in the first book, Jeni, a supermodel, is cursed and she sort of…well, let’s just say that Chocolate Chunk-Streusel Coffee Cake is right up her alley. Just click on the The Model Curse link or the cover to head on over to Amazon to grab these fun books.

What about y’all? Are you fans of coffee cake? And what would you do if you got cursed?

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Mostly Monday

Here it is Monday once again. Why does this keep happening? Why, Universe?!? Why??!!!!

Okay. Mostly kidding.

So. I went to Boston this weekend. Okay. Totally kidding. Mostly. I “drove” around South Boston on Google Street View and shopped for houses, found bars, restaurants, and a laundromat. “Why?” you ask. “Because I have no desire to go to Boston,” I reply. Which is true. Despite being a history nerd, I’ve never really wanted to visit Boston. Besides, I hate the Red Sox. No offense, RS fans. It’s just baseball. But, all that said, I have Wolves who live in South Boston and they’re the only characters speaking to me at present so a writer’s gotta do what a writer’s gotta do. I know where a couple of them live. I know the neighborhood bar where they hang out. I found them an Italian place even though they’re Irish. Hey, EVERYBODY loves good pizza and Italian. Just sayin’…

So, that was my writing adventure. I managed a few new words–mostly adding to scenes already written, but I have names and places now and in some cases, faces. Hopefully, this entices Iffy back from the Irish Riviera and she’ll settle down to work with me on getting a book written.

Speaking of baseball…ugh. My poor Cardinals. They’re up. They’re down. They got rained out. And now they get a long rest because tonight is the Homerun Derby and tomorrow is the All Star game. I probably won’t watch. I’m a little PO’d at MLB right now because…reasons. The Cards don’t play again until Friday so hopefully, the guys with niggling little injuries will rest up and heal and those with bigger injuries will miss less games on the IL.

Speaking of TV, it’s Shark Week. I swear MLB and the Discovery Channels are in collusion. No baseball but wall-to-wall sharks. Don’t get me wrong, I have nothing against sharks. I’m just bored by shows about them. I mean, I laughed through “Jaws,” so there ya go.

I finished up Jennifer Esteps Crown of Shards series with her new release, CAPTURE THE CROWN, which is a spin-off in the same world. The first three books are ah-may-zing!!! And CTC is more of the same. It takes place 16 years after the events in CRUSH THE KING, the final Shards book, and oh…the Romeo and Juliet vibes are heart-breaking. Sadly, it will be a year or more before the next book in the new trilogy arrives. Happily, I’ll get to re-listen to all the books when the time comes. And speaking of re-listens, Nalini Singh’s new release in her Psy-Changling/Trinity series comes out next week. I’m starting a short marathon with ALLEGIANCE OF HONOR (#15 and the last book in the P/C series) then will jump into the Trinity continuation with SILVER SILENCE and the rest in anticipation of LAST GUARD.

In other news of my mundane life, I managed to finally empty the two laundry baskets of stuff cleared from the counters flanking my kitchen sink way back when I redid the backsplash. Proscrastinate? Who me? Damn straight! Still, nice to have a little extra floor space in my office and the baskets back in the garage laundry room so I can throw stuff in them.

There’s not much else going on in my world. Loki is weird. Boone is old. Jake just wants to be loved, but don’t we all? Stormy is smart, his parents are cool, and LG is LG. Life is pretty darn simple when you think about it–and don’t watch the news. I kinda like simple. Get up, let the dogs out, feed the ferals and Loki, make coffee, let the dogs in and give them treats, fix my coffee and come into the office with a new day opening it’s arms to greet me. I’m striving for new words–as always. What are you striving for today?

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