My Favorite Obsession – Comment to Enter Draw for $10 Amazon Gift Card & $25 See’s Candy Card!



I haven’t blogged for a while but a recent author retreat in Pigeon Point–a remote central coast lighthouse here in California– reminded me how much I enjoyed it. So I’m diving in again.

We did a writing exercise that prompted this blog and I can’t get it out of my head.

We had to write for five minutes on our most favorite obsessions (and our least favorite) and the results were hilarious. I can only talk about my own weird obsession…and I won’t name the author who is into guy’s feet. That’s fine except I had a huge crush on actor Thomas Jane until I learned he walks the streets barefoot. I used to do that because I’m Australian and we’re stupid, then I stepped on crushed glass so the idea of “walkabout” isn’t so hot anymore in the big city. Besides, somebody took a photo of Thomas’s feet and they were dirty!

But I digress. I have plenty of obsessions but my main one is Pyrex. Vintage pyrex to be precise. I had no real passion until I came across the nesting bowls pictured above right after I moved to L.A. in 1984. I saw these bowls in a corner of Treasures of Ojai, a fantastic antique store in Ojai, California (and the only one left standing after all the other vintage stores in that cute little country town became art galleries and high-end jewelry boutiques.

I bought the bowls because they reminded me of my mother and I remember she had the same mixing bowls. Same colors and sizes. She died when I was six and my grief-stricken dad threw out almost everything we owned, including my books and toys, and my brothers’s things too.

No wonder we are so demented.

Anyway, I bought the bowls and have used them ever since. This led to an obsession to mid-century kitchenware  I’ve found online. I wonder about who owned the pieces and why they are selling them. I will forever hang on to the ones I’ve purchased because the hold sacred memories–the very few that I have–of my mother. I recall her mixing bechamel sauce. I can still remember the tang of hers. Her secret ingredient was a dash of fresh ground nutmeg. She was a very typical modern Greek woman, but her cooking was pure tradition. I also recall her singing Tom Jones’ The Green, Green Grass of Home along with the radio while she worked. She kept her radio on the windowsill and I still have mine there, too. We had so much in common now that I think of it.

I’ve often wondered what happened to her collection of bowls. I believe they were a wedding present. Does the person who got them ever know this? And what about the bowls I’ve seen in second-hand shops? Who owned and loved them? And how did they come to be abandoned? Did someone die? Or did they just stop loving their bowls? I’ve bought others since then. They started showing up and I found them cheaper by the way than the initial set I bought, but I found many of them at the fabulous Ros0e Bowl Flea Market. If you live in LA and you’ve never been, do yourself a favor and go. It’s on the second Sunday of every month. I’ve come to discover this is where Pyrex bowls go to die. Er, I mean, where they go looking for a second chance at culinary love. I found a wonderful bowl there years ago called the Friendship pattern. Others call it Cinderella but Pyrex calls it Friendship. My bowl was white with red and yellow pictures of birds and a floral design. Very 50s.


It was a thrill to buy it for $10 and I adored that bowl! I used it to mix pancake batter when my nieces and nephews came to stay and I loved the pouring handles. A couple of years ago I inexplicably broke it. I was stunned. I thought those things were indestructible.

I immediately set out to find a replacement but the world has caught up with my Pyrex obsession and everything online was $50 and up. The Rose Bowl didn’t have them. I passed countless sellers with all kinds of Pyrex. I even found a set of bowls I’d never seen before and was thrilled to take them home. One is a lavender color and it’s my new favorite.


So I kept looking for Friendship but couldn’t find one cheap enough. I couldn’t justify the cost. I kept checking eBay and local antique malls hoping I’d find some seller desperate enough one at a reasonable price — and then I gave up. Oddly, once I stopped obsessing and no longer looked, I found one.

I was walking my dog one Saturday morning and a woman who lives at the end of the street was having a mini yard sale. I knew Ruth well because I walked by her place daily and we’d talk. She is an Orthodox Jewish woman who cooks all day for her family. She became the victim of urban development and her landlord evicted her so he could demolish the property an build a McMansion. She fought it for two years and I even went to court to speak on her behalf. But she lost the case and she and her invalid husband were forced to move.

So there she was selling off kitchen items and I saw the devastation in her eyes. She had a Friendship bowl and she wanted two bucks for it. As much as I wanted it, I was worried I was taking a precious heirloom.

“I’ll buy it and give it back to you,” I said. She wouldn’t hear of it. I gave her $5 which still wasn’t enough to be honest, but I took home the bowl, a huge grin on my face. I had to laugh because there was still food stuck on the outside of it. Maybe she gave it a quick rinse and really wanted to get rid of it. I don’t know.  All I know is she is the same age my mother would have been if she were alive, and I feel I have strong tangible connections to both of them.

The new Friendship has replaced the old one, but I still love them both. And with every meal I prepare with this well-loved bowl, I will think of Ruth and I will think of my mother. And the green, green grass of home.

Do you have a favorite obsession? Please share and you will enter the draw to win a $10 Amazon Gift Card and a $25 gift card for yummy See’s Candies (available for us online and in-store).



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Being a fluffer for a magazine’s male centerfolds should be a dream job for Jack, or will it be a ticket to hell?

Jack Casey has a communications degree and a ton of experience in the journalism field, but can’t land a full-time job. When one crops up for a mysterious new men’s magazine, he meets the hottest man he’s ever seen in his life. Somebody submitted garlic farmer Luke Silverfall to Men’s World as a centerfold. But it wasn’t Luke himself. Can Jack persuade him to model and let Jack er, fluff him up for the camera? Or is fate about to take a nasty turn for Jack?

Luke Silverfall had no idea he’d been submitted for a centerfold spread for a magazine. When Jack Casey calls him and asks about Luke’s new line of peeled onions, he assumes the guy’s a chef of some kind. Well, Jack likes to cook all right. He cooks up lies and subterfuge, or so Luke thinks. Can he trust the fluffer? Or will he have to give up the career he once wanted so desperately? Will it lie, with all his other wishes in a field of broken dreams?



On King Kamehameha Day…


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Pelo is a troubled man whose mixed ancestry of Hawaiian and Filipino has always made him feel like he has no place in either culture. He’s back home on the Big Island of Hawaii after serving time for manslaughter—a crime he did not commit. And now, a chance encounter with a newly widowed Filipina turns Pelo’s life upside down.

From helping her family undertake the huge preparations necessary for a traditional Filipino funeral to finding a new chance at love with the woman’s sexy and passionate son, Adan, Pelo finds he might finally have a chance for strong roots. On the single biggest festival day in the islands, King Kamehameha Day, will Pelo find his heart?

This story was previously published under the title Pelo’s Heart. This reissued version of the story has been revised and reedited.

Being the teacher’s pet is one thing…being his evening meal is another!





Night School Vampire – Get Him While He’s Hot!

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Being the teacher’s pet is one thing…being his evening meal is another.

It’s tough being a vampire. For one thing, there’s so much time on your hands. And for another, being undead for centuries means that you meet way too many stupid people…

Socrates Delis, since he has to be awake at night, wonders why he shouldn’t make better use of his time. So to ease his loneliness and hopefully meet a more educated group of people, he enrolls in night school at UCLA’s extension courses and quickly finds that poetry isn’t the only thing on the agenda. Somebody is killing off young gay men around town, and students are nervous. And by the way, didn’t Socrates swear off love? So why’s he finding himself attracted to his hot, human teacher?

Devin Gold loves his work. The great poets are his favorites to share with his English lit students, and while teaching, his life often seems just about perfect. But holy heck, his crazy Uncle Vince just blew into town and has even invaded Devin’s night classes, disrupting his life. Uncle Vince and Devin’s mom think they’re vampire hunters. Devin knows there’s no such thing, and has lived with the shame of their insanity all his life. Now his uncle swears that LA, even night school, is swarming with fangers.

How can Devin keep his sudden attraction to his handsome new student, Socrates, a secret? He’s not sure, but he has to try, especially since his obsessive uncle will undoubtedly insist that Socrates is a vampire. It’s tough being a sane human in La La Land…

He’s Gone Home!


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Diego Cabrera thought his turbulent life in Ventura was behind him.

Diego Cabrera gave up his life on the police force, drugs, drink, and a toxic relationship with his family to start a new, sober existence in Hollywood with a fantastic job in creative development at a major studio. But the opportunity for a blind date leads Diego back to the beach and a catastrophic decision to try Tokyo Tea.

Diego’s quickly arrested and charged with a DUI. Ventura is notoriously tough on drunk driving convictions, and in spite of it being Diego’s first offense, he’s given 48 hours in the slammer.

Petrified that his new carefully crafted world is about to be destroyed, Diego receives unexpected support from the sexy Vincent Eagle, the probation officer with whom he had the blind date. Can Diego juggle his newfound feelings for Vincent, memories of an abusive father, his job with a volatile boss, and remain sober? And why did he go home in the first place?

Deep Probe is OUT NOW!


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Six hot, horny men in space. One mysterious alien probe. Their deepest, darkest sexual fantasies are about to be unleashed.

Space has no fury like an intergalactic sex fiend given free reign. From the twisted, seductive mind of the late film director John Bruno, comes Deep Probe, penned by best-selling authors A.J. Llewellyn and D. J. Manly.

Deep Probe, a hot M/M science-fiction space opera set on a planet far, far away features six astronauts on a rescue mission to a distress signal. They find no signs of unusual life. One of the crew. however, pockets a mysterious green rod. He soon finds it has a mind and sexual tastes all of its own…



























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Alessandro Aikau, an anthropologist visiting Hawaii from Boston, has been given rare permission to spend a month on the abandoned and forbidden island of Kaho’olawe.
Kem, whose family has been entrusted with the sacred upkeep of this battered piece of paradise, at first resents Alessandro’s unusual assignment. As the two men come to know each other, Kem begins to realize that there is a deeper, mysterious meaning to the man’s presence on the island. He begins to sense it is a ritual atonement. But for what?
Kem’s kahuna parents won’t divulge the secret, and neither will Alessandro, even as the two men become deeply attracted to one another, and Alessandro suffers several bad accidents, faces continual sabotage, along with a strange invasion of the island.
Will Alessandro survive his twenty-eight-day ritual, and if so, can he find love with Kem in this abandoned paradise?

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One of my favorite books is available again! XU AGAIN, sequel to XU is out today at Extasy Books!

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In this story, Lindo Santiago is finding a rich new life after being forced to give up his dreams of becoming a world boxing champion. He and his lover, Turner, have a wonderful relationship and their lifestyle in Hawaii is idyllic. Lindo has saved his money and now enjoys good health…his only problem is finding a passion apart from the man he loves. Having dedicated his whole life to the “sport of kings,” he has no real ambition but makes money doing TV commentary for boxing shows. Content to let his path find him, he is surprised when boxing knocks on his door again…

His ex-lover, Bayani, a Filipino boxer, is training for a world title fight and Lindo’s former trainer enlists Lindo’s help in preparing the fighter for war…except that Bayani is in no shape to take a single punch, let alone win a world title fight. Lindo declines to help until Xu returns to his world, infiltrating his dreams and urging Lindo to intervene and prevent Bayani’s certain death.

But can Bayani be saved? Only a dramatic, otherworldly force that is Xu can help…

The Mercury Series – One Book, Three Titles – Together at Last!

Welcome to Maui, where palm trees, sunscreen and crime are all in a day’s work for private investigator Mercury Jones.
This omnibus edition contains the first three “Mercury” books in Toby Neal’s best-selling Lei Crime Kindle World series written by author A.J. Llewellyn

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Mercury Blues, Mercury Jones, #1

Can Mercury Jones outsmart a gun-happy hitman, or will he soon be singing the blues?
Former LAPD detective Mercury Jones moves to Maui to start afresh as a private investigator but trouble follows him.
Somebody is trying to kill him. He thinks he knows who, but proving and preventing his own homicide seems impossible. That’s when he reaches out to Maui PD’s Lieutenant Lei Texeira and tells her a bizarre tale.
Lei knows Mercury from the bomb course she took—and failed—with Detective Abe Torufu.
Not that she holds this against him. Even though Merc somehow aced the class and beat all the other students, she’s always felt the surfer-cop was a bit of a buffoon.
When he tells her his chilling tale, she wonders if Merc’s snapped his cap, until somebody takes potshots at them.

Merc worked undercover on a “virtual kidnapping” case for the LAPD’s Threat Management Unit, posing as a hitman for Alejandra Vasquez, a ruthless young woman running the scam across three mainland states. She not only killed the man Mercury loved, but is responsible for the death of a girl kidnapped by one of her goons.
Though caught and charged, Vasquez was allowed out on bail under home arrest, pending her trial. Now she’s vanished.
Merc, still traumatized by the events that unfolded, is being terrorized. Somebody has tracked him down to his new upcountry ranch in Kokomo and is leaving ominous messages and strange “gifts.” Not only that, but he’s receiving daily texts with chilling photoshopped images of a freshly turned grave covered in rainbow daisies.
Can Lei and her partner, Detective Pono Kaihale help Merc? Or will he wind up as fertilizer for some fine-looking blooms?

Mercury Gold, Mercury Jones, #2

Gold is good. Gold is sparkly. Mercury Jones learns gold is also… deadly.
Maui’s newest private detective Mercury Jones gets a hot new case. Burning hot, that is. A young family has disappeared and the deeper Merc delves into the mysterious Harrison family, the weirder the case becomes. Gold, mob bosses, more gold, and the riddle of some blue eggs have him scratching his head.
Or is that the fault of a local outbreak of head lice?
Somebody seems bent on making the case tough to solve, and Merc’s not feeling good. He has weird symptoms just when he doesn’t need them. He has another case he’s still wrapping up, and he has a new chance at love.
Or does he?
With clues and suspects colliding, he joins forces with Maui P.D.’s Lieutenant Lei Texeira to figure things out. But all he wants is bed rest. And not necessarily alone. When he receives a startling medical diagnosis, he’s too embarrassed to share the news, let alone his bed.
Gold is good. But not in this case.

Mercury Mojito, Mercury Jones #3

Mercury’s hunt for a homicidal bartender gives new meaning to killer cocktail.
Maui-based private investigator Mercury Jones is in sunny Waikiki for a romantic week-long vacation with his new love. But things go awry before he even sets foot off the plane.
He’s received two strange emails from an inmate at a notorious prison regarding an unsolved murder. The tantalizing but weird messages claim that Merc knows him, but under another name. But Merc doesn’t recognize the guy from the booking photo…until he visits him in person and realizes who he is beneath his extensive plastic surgery.
And Michael Mendotti is not somebody Merc is happy to see again.Still, an unsolved murder, especially one that involves an innocent woman, is not something Merc or US Marshal Tony McCracken can ignore.But things are about to become even more shaken up, even stirred.

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Heart of Stone – Book One in The Blackeye Series OUT NOW!

When Athen ‘Blackeye’ Mavromatis takes on a murder case in Beverly Hills, it might just be the death of him.

Athen ‘Blackeye’ Mavromatis moves from New York to Beverly Hills to be lead investigator in their serious crimes division. It isn’t long before he gets his first case. A dead woman’s body has been found wrapped in a carpet outside somebody’s house ready for pickup with their trash. Athen must appease not only the police chief, but the mayor, in a city where murder doesn’t happen often. In fact, this is the first homicide in eight years.

Athen must wrap things up quickly because nothing must tarnish the Beverly Hills image of being the home of movie stars and the most expensive store in the world. The cops here pride themselves on a one-minute response time to emergency calls, but this case won’t get solved that fast. Secrets and lies, gangs, a mysterious woman…all of it is like a ticking timebomb. Meanwhile, Athen has his lover, Grady, at home, who worries about a strange link in his life with the dead woman. Who could have such a heart of stone to leave her out with the rubbish?

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