Sunday, March 30, 2014

Sunday Scramble - From the Gator's Mouth

Happy Sunday (albeit a bit late in the day). Sorry...the sun is out and I had things to take care of this morning. I have a feeling something strange is going to be taking place soon. Hanover's been on edge for over a week -- something to do with Regan and some silly monkey. I guess we'll know soon enough. Until then it's just business as usual.

Here's the solution to last week's scramble:

A whorl of white and silver fell across her forehead and she let it hang there. “Yes, but no. We could give his soul a fairy body, or even a goblin’s, but that wouldn’t be fair to him. He’s lived a mortal life. I think he’d miss it."

irfay - fairy
sulo -soul
rlmtao  - mortal
horwl  - whorl
erilvs  -silver
dorehefa - forehead

This week's scramble is a quote from From the Gator's Mouth, the book that tells the story of how Hanover Fist was born.

She ____________ his eyes widen as his __________ moved back away from him. “Now __________, it is not nice to __________ with your __________,” Agatha __________ softly.


Solve the scramble by filling out the form and receive a coupon for From the Gator's Mouth. Any ebook format is available.

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Friday, March 28, 2014

Regan Rants - L'Wren Scott RIP

Regan Worth
You know what I hate? I hate when I wake up in the afternoon and find out someone I really admire has gone to another realm and can't come back. Case in point - L'Wren Scott. 

Now I don't stick with specific designers and I never have. But some of her fashions were brilliant. take this dress, for example. I would look stupendous in this dress. Not that I ever wore it....or had anywhere to wear it to, or the figure to wear it, but it is fab. Look at how the neckline plunges and accentuates the hips.  It's a dress a girl can really show off. Sure, so Toledo's curves would fit this dress better than mine -- but it would look okay on me too.

This dress, on the other hand, is so Mary O'Malley. I mean, it is seriously spinster-librarian, with the bow in front and the cute little white collar. You couldn't even wear lipstick with that dress *whispers* and Mary doesn't wear lipstick...not a dash. 

So yes, this dress is perfect for my friend Mary. I wouldn't wear it in a million years, but Mary would feel right at home in it. The black would offset her red hair too...although she rarely wears black. She seems to prefer pale colors. Wrong...just totally wrong for her complexion.

Now this dress, on the other hand, is totally me. It fits my slender curves are not my strongest point. And I have always loved beads and a bit of jagged -- fringe -- whatever. I don't like the straight-laced stuff. Give me a little zip...a little zag.. a little edge. This is a dress I could totally see myself wearing when I'm having a good time and showing just enough leg to be mysterious.

You were a talented lady, L'Wren Scott. You were young and beautiful and you understood the shape of a woman -- all of us. You had a spark for designing something for every personality. The world will miss your talent. Rest in Peace, brilliant lady. 

Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Toledo Talks - Working the Soil

Toledo Cats
Maybe the snow still covers the ground in some places, but down here in New Orleans, I can smell the soil. It calls me and makes me want to dig my hands into it and feel the worms squirm out from between my fingers. My family has always worked the soil.

Mama kept a garden, even after we moved to town. Each spring, I helped her plant herbs and flowers. She would tell me their purpose. Mama barely ever planted anything without a purpose. It's how she grew up. Of course, Mama could always find a purpose for just about any plant. Why would the Great Mother have put them here with no purpose?

Yes, I smell Mama in the springtime. But I also smell my Uncle Jesse. While Mama planted small gardens with her hands, Jesse planted fields of sugar cane. He would work all morning and come in for dinner around noon, glistening with sweat and grinning ear to ear. "The ground's good this year," he'd say. "We're gonna get ourselves a good crop of cane sugar." His eyes would glisten and by the time I was older, I knew cane sugar meant rum and rum meant sales...especially to Grumwald. But when I was younger, I was content to sneak into the fields and listen to him sing. Jesse's voice was so deep and wonderful. It transported me to other worlds...worlds I had not been to and neither had he....worlds he had learned of from the stories told by his grandfather...who I never met.

Sunday, March 23, 2014

Sunday Scramble - The Desert Rose + All Things Irish Blog Hop

Welcome to the Sunday Scramble! This week, we're happy to be part of the Leaping Leprechauns and Frolicking Fairies: All Things Irish blog tour. Thank you to Candace's Book Blog and Gin's Book Notes for hosting this blog hop.

Last week's scramble was from High Rollers, which is on sale for $1.99 until midnight tonight Mountain Time. Here's the solution:

As Regan stepped into the casino, the first thing she saw was her own reflection smiling from jagged mirror shards arranged haphazardly to look like stalactites

ardhazlyhap - haphazardly
niligsm - smiling
romirr - mirror
lacstaestit - stalactites
sincao - casino

This week's scramble is from The Desert Rose, the sequel to Rips in the Weave. Hint: You can get a still get a free copy of Rips in the Weave by visiting Toledo's post below and filling out the form.

In keeping with the theme of the blog hop, this quote is about fairies. That's a hint.

A __________ of white and __________ fell across her __________ and she let it hang there. “Yes, but no. We could give his __________ a __________ body, or even a goblin’s, but that wouldn’t be fair to him. He’s lived a ____________ life. I think he’d miss it."


Good luck!
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Thursday, March 20, 2014

Toledo Talks - A Fairy Garden

Toledo Cats
This week, in honor of springtime, I decided to talk about gardening. I've been gardening since I was a little girl. My first garden was a fairy garden. It was mostly a rock garden beneath Mama's magnolia tree. I'd sing to my dolls and every so often a fairy or two would stop by to listen. Whiskey Joe suggested I grow heather, and so I did. I planted purple heather the first year. When it's blooms reached toward the sky, Whiskey Joe taught me how to step through so I could visit the fairies myself.
Heather photo (Courtesy of Better Homes and Gardens)

I later added other colors to the mix. The fairies liked to visit the heather too. For years, I visited the fairies and they visited me. I didn't realize until I was older that they could be treacherous -- that they could steal the souls of infants.

I learned a lot about them later, both good and bad. I learned that like people, they were capable of hatred, greed, and love. At the time Whiskey Joe taught me how to pass through the heather, I had no idea he was a fairy himself. It was only after I thought he had died that I found him in the fairy realm, making music just like he had on the New Orleans streets. That story appears in Mind of a Mad Man.

Later Whiskey Joe told me the real story. How he'd fallen in love and decided it was time to go back to the realm where he belonged. He wrote a song about the day he met the woman he loved. He's agreed to sing it to us.

I am celebrating spring this week by participating in the Leaping Leprechaun blog hop and planting some potatoes and onions -- maybe a few other things, depending on the weather. Are you planning to do some gardening?  Have you ever planted a fairy garden?

Leave a comment with your email and I'll send you a coupon for a free copy of Rips in the Weave -- the story where all the trouble in the realms began. There are a few fairies in Rips in the Weave, but there are definitely goblins.

And don't forget, High Rollers is on sale for $1.99 through Saturday March 23rd. Get your copy today if you haven't. 

Thanks for stopping by. Enjoy the blog hop.

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Monday, March 17, 2014

Never Disturb a Fairy Ring

Duncan O'Malley
Thanks to my best friend's daughter, Regan Worth, I'm here this St. Paddy's Day to share a warning with you all about the dangers of fairy rings. I felt it only right to pass on the warning I gave my daughter...the same warning my mother gave me, albeit most likely too late. Now some will tell you that a fairy ring is just a fungus that ruins the lawn. Gardening folk will tell you to dig them up and destroy the ring. I will tell you different. Leave them be.

It was a spring day and I was still a lad, living on my parents' farm in Ireland. I was a light-hearted boy and I loved to explore the bog. That's where I saw my first dead body, but that's a story for another day. The day I learned of fairy rings was a rare sunny one. I followed my mother  down to the bog when she went to fetch the butter. I was a wee lad, maybe three or four.

I skipped along beside her, singing:

O-ro the rattlin' bog
The bog down in the valley-o
O-ro the rattlin' bog, 
The bog down in the valley-o

I was young enough that I couldn't remember the order of all the things you see -- tree, limb, branch, twig, nest, egg, bird, feather, flea -- so Mum sang along with me. We were on the verse about the bird in the egg when she stopped singing.

"Don't you do that, son."

"What, Mum?" I asked. I saw she'd grown pale and was staring at the ground.

"See those mushrooms?"

"Sure I do. Can we pick some?" I loved mushrooms, even then.

"Not those mushrooms. Those belong to the fairies. If you disturb them, they'll come after you."

I stared at the nearly perfect circle of mushrooms -- perfect except for where I'd kicked one away. It lay there broken and sad. "Do you think they saw me?" I asked.

"Let's hope not." Her voice was stern. She took me by the hand and led me to the bog. "Let's tiptoe the rest of the way so we don't wake them."

And so we did. It might have been that night the nightmares started...or sometime soon after. They have never left me, only changed as time went on. I was still a mostly carefree lad and I never saw a fairy in the bog, but I have to wonder sometimes if they didn't see me kick that mushroom. How else can I account for the bad luck I've had and the things I've seen?  Not that it was all bad. I wouldn't trade my luck in finding Maggie Bloom for all the pots of gold in the universe.

To celebrate St. Patrick's Day, my daughter Mary has asked me to give away copies of Angels in Hell's Kitchen, the story about the first day I met Mary's mum. All you need to do is fill out the form.

I also need to tell you that High Rollers is only 99 cents today through Wednesday. That's a 66% discount from its regular $2.99. By the time High Rollers happened, I had gone on from the physical realm, but I think you'll like the story anyway. Many of the people I loved through life are in it.

Well, I guess I'm off. Thank you Regan for helping me tell my story. I hope a lot of people buy your story this week. It's a great price for a fun tale. Of course, I wish I had been there to help solve the crime, but a ghost can't be everywhere.

Enjoy the rest of the blog hop.I'm sure you will -- It's All Things Irish, so who wouldn't?

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Sunday, March 16, 2014

Sunday Scramble - High Rollers

Unfortunately, we did not have a winner for last week's scramble. 

The answer to last week's scramble is:

A few memories leaked out. She let them rest beneath the turtle’s belly. He’d have to grow before he could swallow all her secrets.

ethenba - beneath
osmrieem - memories
lyelb - belly
setsecr - secrets
alswwlo - swallo

This week's scramble is from High Rollers, which is on sale starting tomorrow on Amazon. It's a countdown sale, so get your Kindle edition early.

Monday March 17th -Wednesday March 19th - 99 cents
Thursday March 20th - Saturday March 23rd - $1.99

On Sunday March 24, the price goes back to its normal $2.99.

Of course, if you're the first to solve the scramble, you won't need to buy it because we'll send you a free copy.

Here's the scramble.

As Regan stepped into the ___________ , the first thing she saw was her own reflection ____________ from jagged ____________ shards arranged _________________ to look like ______________. 


Oh and there is more news this week. We will be participating in the Leaping Leprehchauns & Frolicking Fairies blog hop. With a little help from Regan, I've invited my father, Duncan O'Malley back from the dead to talk about his encounter with the little people. He'll tell his story tomorrow and will give away an ebook coupon for Angels in Hell's Kitchen to whoever comments. Then on Thursday, Toledo Cats will talk about the fairies she's encountered and share a story about Whiskey Joe, She'll be giving away ebook coupons for Rips in the Weave to anyone who comments on her post. 

Friday, March 14, 2014

Regan Recommends - 2 Gingers Irish Whiskey

Regan Worth
Being half-Irish, I decided to break out a bottle of my favorite Irish whiskey a few days early. I put some Amy Winehouse on and took a bottle of 2 Gingers Irish Whiskey down off the shelf. Of course, Hanover happened to stop by around the time I pulled the bottle out of  the liquor cabinet, so I invited him to stay for a nip.

Hanover's not Irish -- well, as far as he knows -- but he does enjoy a nip of Irish spirits and since it's not St. Paddy's Day quite yet, I didn't have to worry about getting pinched.

You can drink 2 Gingers Irish Whiskey straight up like Hanover does. It's a smooth whiskey -- a little honey sweet, but not cloying because the sweetness is offset with blood oranges and a bit of bitter, kind of like you nibbled on the rind before you took a sip. I poured Hanover a drink straight up the way he likes it in his favorite shot glass. He admired the amber color and threw it back.

"Wait for me!" I said. "It's my whiskey after all."

"Well, pour yourself a shot and catch up. It's been a helluva day."

I took a wine glass down from the rack. "I'm drinking mine in this."

Hanover raised his eyebrows. "You must have had some day too!"

"You goof! You know I prefer mine with a little bubbly. It cuts the burn." As whiskey burns go, 2 Gingers is not too hot, but still, on a warm day, it's a bit much for me to drink straight these days.

I poured about a shot and a half in the glass. I always just eye it, so don't go by my measurements. Go by your taste. You can always add more if you want some more kick. I filled Hanover's glass a second time.

I took a can of ginger ale and a tray of ice from the small fridge I keep in the wet bar. I put the ice in first and then filled the glass with ginger ale. It bubbled up just right. I could smell that citrus-ginger goodness. Mmmmm tasty.

I raised my glass to Hanover's. Our glasses touched. He sipped his this time and I sipped mine. The bubbles tickled my nose. I sipped again. This time I felt the burn.

I reached for a stir stick to stir it up better. Usually adding the ginger ale last does the trick, but every now and then, a drink can benefit from a good stir.

I poured Hanover another while I was at it.
I gave my drink a twizzle and then sipped again. Perfect.

"What kind of stir stick is that?" Hanover asked. "It looks..."

"So it's pink," I said. "I happen to like pink."

"You're such a girl." Hanover rolled his eyes.


"You are, but that's not what I meant. I meant what's on the end of the swizzler. It looks like a...."

I dropped the swizzler and eyed its ornament. "Monkey!" I gasped. "What the hell is a damn monkey doing on my swizzle stick?"

Hanover eyed it closely. "That's no ordinary monkey."

"I know it's no ordinary monkey. Look how it's staring at me." I put down the glass. "Get rid of it, Hanover. I don't want to touch it."

"Well it's too bad you ruined your whiskey with all that ginger ale and ice or I'd drink it. The monkey doesn't bother me."

"Well, it bothers me. And no you can't have my drink. Just throw the swizzler away. And check the bag. If they're all like that, throw them away."

Hanover plucked the swizzle stick out of my glass and threw it in the trash. He's such a gentleman when he wants to be. He checked the bag of swizzle sticks behind the bar. "They're all just pink," he said. "I ought to throw them out just for that."

"Well, how do you think the monkey one got inside a perfectly good bag of pink swizzle sticks?"

Hanover shrugged and poured himself another shot.

"That's 80 proof, you know."

Hanover took a slow sip. "I'm sure you won't mind me staying on the sofa. I can keep you safe from any monkeys.

I poured another dollop into my drink and settled down beside him. "Why not. You know I'm always up for an adventure."

Be sure to stop by next week. We'll be participating in the Leaping Leprechauns & Frolicking Fairies blog hop. Fairies and leprechauns are fine with me as long as no monkeys show up.

Tuesday, March 11, 2014

Toledo Talks -- Asparagus, a Taste of Springtime

Toledo Cats
When the asparagus spears start cropping up in the garden, it's a sure sign spring is here. If you're lucky enough to have an established crop, you can enjoy this delicious vegetable almost every day from early spring until the heat sets in. If you're planting a crop this year, you'll need to be patient. Asparagus takes about 2 years from the time you plant it until you can get a good harvest. Sure, you might get a harvest one year after you plant it, but don't get greedy. If you do, you'll likely be starting over.

If you aren't growing it, you can find it at the grocery store or, better yet, at an organic market. Asparagus doesn't have a very long shelf life, in fact it's best if you eat it the same day you pick it, so you need to be careful to choose stalks that are firm. Store them in the fridge with a moist paper towel around them if you can't use them all at once.

Asparagus has so much good stuff in it, you can almost feel its energy when you eat it. The fresher it is, the better.

Some people don't like asparagus because it smells like urine when you boil it. The trick to avoiding that problem is not not boil it. It's tasty raw, lightly sautéed, or grilled. The key is to not overcook it. Asparagus is best still a bit crisp.

I'd like to share a recipe that's quick and easy, yet elegant and tasty. Best of all, you can make it in a single electric frying pan. First lay thin cut raw breakfast steaks along the bottom of the pan. I figure two steaks per person, but depending on the size of the steak and the appetites of the people you are feeding, you might need more or fewer. Spread cream cheese across the breakfast steak. Cut the asparagus spears in sections about the same length as the steak. Lay two asparagus spears on each steak. Add a thin slice of deli turkey on top.

Cook it at medium-low heat (around 325F) for about 10 minutes, or until the steak is just about done the way you want it. Pour in 1 cup to 1 1/2 cup of your favorite  spaghetti sauce. Sprinkle with some crushed pecans, some finely chopped broccoli, and your favorite grated cheese. Cook another 5 minutes and serve.

It's especially good served with a nice red wine, such as a Merlot, and a chunk of crusty sourdough bread. At least that's the way I like to eat it.


I'd like to thank Paul's Farm Fresh Produce for the wonderful fresh asparagus, broccoli, and pecans used in the photo shoot. I'd also like to thank the butcher at Mike's Market  for cutting the breakfast steaks just the way I like them. The meal was delicious.

If you'd like to learn more about asparagus, here are some links.

The World's Healthiest Foods
Asparagus Growing Guide

Sunday, March 9, 2014

Sunday Scramble - Rips in the Weave

Mary O'Malley
Congratulations to Tony Western and Lisa Cullen for solving last week's scramble.

The answer to last week's scramble is:

"Okay, Mark, now in boxing you can hit anywhere above the belt  line, but not below. You get marks taken off for a hit below the belt. And never hit the family jewels."

Scrambled words
xigbon  - boxing
elsjwe - jewels
lbet - belt
owble - below
ith -hit

This week the scramble is from Rips in the Weave. Answer the scramble to win a free ebook copy of Rips in the Weave.

A few ____________ leaked out. She let them rest ___________ the turtle’s __________. He’d have to grow before he could __________ all her _____________.


Good luck!  I really hope someone wins this week. Rips in the Weave is a story about how the weave began to tear. It was a story that happened before I was even a twinkle in anyone's eye.

Friday, March 7, 2014

Regan Recommends - Better Mardi Gras Gifts

Regan Worth
So, our adventure was a Fat Tuesday party on the A. Neon Mud Imp. I thought they'd dismantled her long ago, but it turns out she'd just been sitting in a dock.

It was strange to be back on board the casino boat where Caprice wreaked havoc so many years ago and it was nothing like that night. You've read that story, right? If you haven't you should. It's told in High Rollers -- the only Dime Store Novel so far that I'm in.

Not a single ghost in sight, which was odd considering the boat is something of a ghost ship, rising from the dead and all, at least that's how I look at it. Maybe I just missed them. I was pretty busy drinking and dancing. Of course, Hanover spent all night at the dice table. But who cares? These days you don't need a man to dance with and I'm all for that. Hanover can be a stick-in-the-mud about dancing.

Hanover's mask
Like all Mardi Gras parties, everyone was decked out in green, red, and gold. I wore a beaded gold dress that came just above my knees. The gold was accented by red roses down one side. My mask matched my dress, of course, except the roses were real instead of jeweled. It also had peacock feathers.

Hanover work a silver mask like this one.

We drank champagne with strawberries and snacked on all kinds of food. My favorite was the jalapenos stuffed with red caviar dip.

Around midnight, they brought out the cakes. I chose a chocolate one decorated with a pretty mask. I bit it and this gooey yummy cherry filling oozed out. I got it all over my lips and down my chin. I laughed so hard I nearly swallowed the baby. Yes, for the first time ever, I was the lucky one who found the baby.  I spit it out of all that red goo.

Hanover was all grossed out. He said, "All that red goo on it looks like blood. Someone didn't think that through."

I thought it was pretty funny. "Maybe they did it on purpose. You know, to add some realism."

Hanover scowled. "You'd better go wash up so you can claim your prize."

So I went to the ladies' room to wash my face. That monkey picture next to the door scared the bejezus out of me, no pun intended. It's like it was watching me. Of course, I know it wasn't. Well, I know that now. At the time, I told Hanover about it and he said, "I think you've had enough champagne."

I said, "Whatever."

He said, "Aren't you going to claim your gift?"

I said, "Of course I am." So I took the little plastic baby up to the cashier's cage and they handed me a velvet box. I figured jewelry, right? So I took it back to Hanover and I opened it. It's just some gold stick pin with the casino's logo -- an imp that looks just like that dumb monkey. It isn't even  real gold. It's plastic. Seriously? They could at least give out the genuine article. Next year we're spending Fat Tuesday somewhere else.

Tuesday, March 4, 2014

Toledo Talks -- Spaghetti Squash as Comfort Food

Toledo Cats
Winter months call for comfort food. So do the stressful events we often face in life, especially when certain deities decide to get involved. I've found that a good meal helps calm the nerves and puts things in perspective. A nice plate of spaghetti squash with some sausage on the side fits the bill nicely -- *whispers* and for those of us who care about carbs, it's a low-carb option. Now you spiders who might be listening, don't you go creeping into the desert realm telling Mama I'm watching my carbs.

I've been pretty busy these days and there are rumors that someone is stirring up trouble in the realms again, so I tend to prefer dishes I can make in a single pan without a lot of fuss. I'll tell you how it's done.

First, you cut the squash in half from stem to bloom end.

Next, scoop out the seeds and stuff it with your favorite sausage. I like to use spicy Italian sausage.

Cut up some mushrooms and put them alongside the squash in an electric frying pan.

Flip the squash upside-down so that the sausage touches the frying fan surface. The oil from the sausage will provide the necessary grease to keep it all from sticking. The sausage flavor will also rise up into the squash as it cooks. If you're using a vegetarian stuffing instead of sausage, grease the pan with olive oil first.

Now you're ready to cook it. If you like your sausage scorched, the way Hanover likes his, cook it at 400F. Otherwise, cook it at 350F. Cover the pan to keep the moisture and flavor inside. You'll know it's done when you can easily push the squash in with your fingertip.

Flip the squash right-side up and add your favorite spaghetti sauce. Continue cooking until the sauce is warm and bubbly.

Sprinkle with Parmesan cheese.

Now you're ready to serve it up. Remove the sausage from the center. Scrape the squash gently with a form until it looks like cooked spaghetti.

Spoon some of the warm sauce onto the pasta and eat. I like it served with a nice Cabernet and some bread. See Mama, I'm not watching my carbs. I just prefer the rich sweetness of the squash over plain old bleached flour pasta.

Once more, I'd like to give a special thanks to Paul's Farm Fresh Produce Market  for providing the fresh organic spaghetti squash and mushrooms.

Before I go, I want to remind you that it's Read-an-Ebook week at Smashwords. After dinner, it's nice to settle down with something fun to read. These books in the Dime Store Novel series are included in the promotion. 

Books you can get for FREE (enter RW100 at checkout)

Books you can get for 50% off (enter REW50 at checkout)

The promotion only lasts through March 8th. I hope you snatch yours up while the promotion lasts and let me know what you think. 

Sunday, March 2, 2014

Sunday Scramble

Mary O'Malley
The answer to last week's Scramble is:

The dragon lashed his white lightning tail and chuckled, low and sinister. “You’ve lost your sister. Delilah calls to me.”

ledliha = Delilah
lggithnni = lightning
gadnor = dragon
stinsresi = sinister
duckchle = chuckled

Unfortunately, there were no winners. Maybe I AM making these too hard. Sorry.

We'll try it again. This week's scramble is from Angels in Hell's Kitchen. The first person to solve it by adding the correct answer to a comment wins a FREE ebook copy of Angels in Hell's Kitchen. This time I'm using a quote from my Daddy.

"Okay, Mark, now in ___________ you can hit anywhere above the  line, but not ________. You get marks taken off for a _________ below the belt. And never hit the family ___________ ."

Scrambled words

Good luck!  I really hope someone wins this week. It's a fun story about how my Mom and Dad met.

Before I go, I want to let you in on a deal. It's Read-an-Ebook week at Smashwords. These books in the Dime Store Novel series are included in the promotion. 

Books you can get for FREE (enter RW100 at checkout)

Books you can get for 50% off (enter REW50 at checkout)

The promotion only lasts through March 8th. I hope you snatch yours up while the promotion lasts and let me know what you think.