Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Smoker's Rant

Regan Worth
Mary just informed me that it's World No Tobacco Day. Can you believe that? I figured she'd made it up to annoy me, but then I looked it up.

Sure enough, she was right. They created yet another way to torment us smokers. First smoking gets banned in restaurants, then in bars, and now there are some places where I can't even light up outside unless I'm hunkered down behind a garbage bin or something.

Puh-lease! Back in the day, they knew how to treat smokers. I'd sit in a bar and draw on my long jeweled cigarette holder. Hanover would offer a light. Then he'd light up his pipe and we'd sit smoking, drinking, and listening to jazz. No more. Now I have to down my drink and step outside to get my nicotine fix. I mean, talk about a health risk! I could catch pneumonia standing there in the cold and rain. Not to mention what the rain does to my hair.

And Hanover'll tell you, hunkering down in an alley is not a safe way to have a smoke. There are dangerous things in those shadows. And for some of us, those things are far more deadly than a little puff of smoke.

Monday, May 30, 2011

Blog Tour de Troops

Hanover Fist
Happy Memorial Day!
This weekend we're joining over 30 authors in Blog Tour de Troops, our way of thanking our troops for keeping our country safe and free.
If you're following the tour, you probably came from Louisa Bacio's blog. Her book "The Vampire, the Witch, and the Werewolf" takes place in my home town of New Orleans...a little steamier than Dime Store Novel, but it looks like a good read. If you haven't dropped by her blog, please do so.
The next stop on the tour is Tracy Bull's blog. Tracy is not only a writer, but an artist. Her literary book, Fragments, is getting great reviews. So be sure visit her after you've gotten to know us a little.
I'm Hanover Fist. The story of my rather unusual birth is told in "From the Gator's Mouth", the ebook we're giving away FREE to anyone who comments on this blog. We're also giving away one to a troop for each unique commenter. I think you'll like my godfather Swampy. At least one reader did. You can read her review at Kona's blog.
To celebrate Memorial Day and thank the troops who keep our land free, I'm going to tell a story about my friend Spooky Fox. Then I'm going to turn the blog over to the three beautiful women who share my adventures to express their gratitude in their own way.
First a little about my military service. I was drafted into the Navy in 1918. But, unlike the men I trained with, I never saw combat. You see, the smallpox vaccination made me sick. The military doctors had never see the likes of my illness and had too send me home. But that's another story for a later book.
Today I want to remember my good friend Spooky Fox. Spooky and I trained together before the smallpox fiasco. He was from Chicago and his parents had money – something to do with the railroads, I think. Spooky was a good guy...one of the best. He didn't look down his nose at anyone and was always willing to share his wealth. Well, before getting shipped out, we had to do a survival weekend. We were taken to a spot in the swamps and had to survive off the land. It wasn't a big deal for me. Swampy had taught me a lot about fishing and tracking, so I wasn't worried. But Spooky wasn't going to have any part of roughing it. He found out our drop point from an acquaintance who'd been through it before and arranged to have a five course meal flown in by crop plane. What a guy!
I contributed to our feast by calling on some nymph friends of mine. Spooky really hit it off with Sunshine. Of course, as far as he knew she was just a woman. She kept her claws well hidden.
Anyway, Spooky went on to serve in World War I, the War to End All Wars, and the Korean War that proved wars would never end. We kept in touch over the years until he went MIA in Korea. I like to think he met a nymph there to keep him warm until he grew old and died. But who's to say. All I know is that he did his part in keeping our country safe and free. Thank you, Spooky and thank you to all the service men and women.

Toledo Cats

As a healer, I'd like to thank our troops, not only for their service in times of war, but for the assistance they give during disasters, natural or otherwise. I sincerely hope reading "From the Gator's Mouth" will bring a smile to your lips and help ease your stress.

Regan Worth
I value my right to say and do as I please above all else. So, please continue to fight for my freedom. I might not give thanks often, but I do give it where it's due. So thank you, troops at home and abroad.

Mary O'Malley
As the daughter of a police officer, I was taught to value public service. I'd like to offer thanks, to all men and women in uniform. You protect us from dangers we can see and those we can't.
Please make sure to leave your email address with your comment. And remember, you will also be entered in a drawing for a Kindle.

Previous Stop                                         Next Stop:
Louisa Bacio's blog                               Tracy Bull's blog 

Sunday, May 22, 2011

Remembering My Father

Mary O'Malley
This time of year is tough for me even all these years later. First comes Memorial Day when everyone is decorating graves and thinking about the dead. Then comes Father's Day and right on its tail, comes the day I lost my own father, Duncan O'Malley. It was 1925 and I was barely 20. In some ways I blamed myself for what happened...if I hadn't seen that damn mouse...if I hadn't gotten sick. I know now that there was more to it than that...forces at play that I couldn't control...that no one could control. But that's another story for another time. I'm not ready to tell it yet...not in May when June is lurking just around the bend. Instead I'm going to tell another story about my father, about the time I gave him a Gillette razor for his birthday.

Daddy had always shaved with a straight-edge razor and he prided himself on keeping his cheeks whisker free. I loved to feel his smooth face against mine. I had our artist create his portrait and I think he did him justice.

Duncan O'Malley
Anyway, when I was seven years old, I had a nightmare about Daddy shaving with his straight-edge razor. I still remember the nightmare as if I was there. Daddy was standing over the sink, shaving. His eyes were closed, which might sound strange, by that's the way Daddy shaved. With his eyes closed. As he ran the blade across his cheek, a white-gloved hand grabbed his wrist and pulled it down, slicing deep into his neck. The blood spurted out and spattered the mirror. The face that belonged to the hand smiled wide in the mirror – a lipstick painted smile in a clown-white face. Daddy collapsed to the floor and the clown's mouth opened to let out a loud guffaw. I saw a glint of gold – fangs, not teeth – and woke up screaming.

Mother ran into my room and held me as I sobbed out my story. It was her who suggested getting him the safety razor, so I saved up my allowance. I had the man at the drugstore tie it up in comic papers and tie a bow around it. I was so proud and knew Daddy would be happy. Well, he opened the package and made a show of being pleased. But the next time I watched him shave, I noticed he was still using his old straight edge. So I asked him, "Daddy, why don't you use the razor I bought you?"

"A razor's like an old friend, Mary," he said. "I'm not quite ready to part with this one yet. But I will use yours. I promise."

"Please, Daddy." The tears came even though I tried to hold them back. "I don't like that mean old straight edge."

Daddy stopped shaving and bent down comfort me. "Why not, Sweetie?"

The soapy scent of shaving cream rose off his face. I wanted to tell him about my nightmare, but it seemed so silly under the bright vanity lights. "I just don't," I finally answered.

"Okay, my Wary Mary. If it'll ease your mind, I'll put away my old friend for a time."

And he did – for one shave at least. But Daddy hated shaving with the safety razor. It didn't shave close enough and for the first time in a long, long time, he nicked himself. Not one nick, several. He came out of the bathroom, his face covered in tissue paper dots. "Whoever decided to call this bloody thing a safety razor needs a lesson in safety," he muttered.

Me and mother couldn't hold back our giggles. Daddy put that new Gillette back in its box and put it on a high closet shelf, grumbling the whole time. I found it up there after his funeral. The strange thing was, the blade was stained with blood – much more than would be caused by simple nicks. I always wondered whether that blade was used by someone else...for something.

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

A Glimpse of Agatha

Toledo Cats
I've been reading over "The Reunion" which should be finished soon and I had to chuckle when I read this scene between me, Nymeria, and Agatha.

Here's a sneak preview:
Toledo and Nymeria were startled by a loud splash and then the heavy thump of 600 pounds of flesh landing on the rock. They both watched quietly as the gator shifted slowly to a bipedal reptile, her back straightening painfully to an upright position. Toledo noticed Nymeria shrink back against the trunk of a tree. The creature hissed.
"I'm sorry, Agatha." Nymeria said whined. "I didn't know Sassafras Cats hadn't told her."
The reptile growled and groaned. The spines along her back shrank, the claws on her forearms transformed into hands, her long snout and jaw drew back painfully into a woman's grimace. "Excuse Nymeria," a gravelly voice said at last. "After all these years, you'd think her mouth would stop running." Agatha touched Nymeria with a scaly hand.

Agatha's an earthbound goddess and I guess she can be a little intimidating at times. Coincidentally, our artist has just completed her portrait -- of course she sat for the portait in her human form. What do you think? Intimidating, beautiful, or both?


Saturday, May 14, 2011

A Late Mother's Day Tribute - To Mama Cats

Hanover Fist

I meant to publish this on Mother's Day, but I missed it.  When you are as old as I am, the exact dates don't seem to matter so much. But I had meant to write a Mother's Day tribute, so here it is.
If truth be told, I had three mothers – the mother I never knew because she died for me, my wonderful Mom who taught me manners and loved me like a son, and Mama Cats. All are gone now to whatever reward awaited them. I hope it was a good one because they deserved it.
I had the artist who made our portraits create a picture of Mama Cats. She was special to me in a way I don't fully understand even now. She was special to a lot of people. You see, Mama Cats was the kind of person who drew you to her bosom and held you tight. It didn't matter if you were black or white, poor or rich, if you needed someone to hold you, Mama Cats took you in.

Mama Cats

It's not like she was soft though. No-sir-ree. If me and Toledo got ourselves into trouble, which we did occasionally... alright, Toledo, quit arching your eyebrow like that....like we did a lot, Mama disciplined us good. But we respected her for it and we grew from it.
There are three books out about Mama Cats back before she had me and Toledo to discipline. They are:
And now....well....these writers who are telling our story decided to write one about Mama Cats after me and Toledo are grown up and I am reading it now. It's bringing back all kinds of memories about her...things I haven't thought about in years. And I remember what a great woman  she was...and I'm sad she's gone, but I'm not broken – not  anymore -- because I've lived enough of this world and I believe that where Mama went, she must be happy.
So, I know it's after Mother's Day. And most of you probably gave your Mom a hug or a call or something already. But if you didn't, take it from me. You never know when someone you love will be stolen from you...so tell your Mom or your Mama or whatever you call the woman who holds you to her bosom...I love you.

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Realm Crossing -- The First Time

When you're a child, nothing is impossible. Nothing is strange. That's how it was for me and Hanover the first time we crossed over into a different realm. We didn't even know we'd done it. We were just playing marbles, wishing to see snow because we'd only ever heard of it, and whoosh. The next thing we knew, we were sitting in a snow drift. We just figured our wish came true and we ran around, pushing each other down, laughing as we slid on a slick sheet of ice. That went on for some time and I can say, we did have fun. But then Hanover's teeth started chattering and we looked around and couldn't see home. You see, we hadn't really cared before then. It was like make-believe was for us back then – more real than real, but safe. But this time, it wasn't make-believe and it wasn't safe. I think Hanover realized that before I did and that's when the shivering set in and then the crying. The wind howled around us and we were scared – for real scared – not like when you have a nightmare and wake up screaming, but then your mama kisses you and the nightmares fly away. This time we were scared for our lives.
That's when we heard the roar – a roar that shook the ground beneath us. We clung together, afraid the slippery ice would break and we would drown in icy water. The snowdrifts rose up in front of us in huge spiky peaks and then two big hydrangea-blue eyes rose up out of the snow. The monster shook the snow away, surrounding us in a momentary blizzard. And then it ended. A crystalline dragon stood before us laughing.
"What are you wee ones doing here?" he giggled. "Fairies don't cross this way often."
"We're not fairies," Hanover's fear was gone, as if the dragon's presence confirmed it was just make-believe. "Fairies are only in stories."
I didn't argue with him. I had seen fairies with my own eyes, but that was my secret – one of the few I kept from Hanover.
"Well what are you then?"
"We're children." Hanover answered.
"Human children?" The dragon's mouth gaped open. "What are you doing here?"
"Playing in the snow. At least we were until we started to get cold." I remembered reading stories about dragons making fire and had an idea. "You wouldn't know how to create a fire for us, would you?"
The dragon laughed. "You've got the wrong dragon if you want fire." Concern wrinkled the dragon's brow. He reached out a claw to touch Hanover's face. I noticed it was bluish pale. "That's not the right color for a human, is it?"
I shook my head. "If you can't build a fire, can you fly us home? We live in New Orleans, Louisiana."
"I'm not allowed to leave." The dragon cast his eyes down. "But climb under my wing. At least it'll keep the wind of you for a bit while I think of what to do." The dragon lifted a wing and Hanover and I snuggled against each other beneath it until he stopped shivering and we both fell asleep.