Friday, November 30, 2012

New Traditions--and a Giveaway!

By Cheryl Brooks
Here we are in that transition period between Thanksgiving and Christmas, wondering whether to go shopping, continue giving thanks, or start working on Christmas cards. Funny, even though I'm now essentially writing full time and not working as a nurse anymore, I can't get over viewing the holiday season with some trepidation. I still have to do all of the same tasks, and theoretically have more time in which to accomplish them, but the same vague sense of panic remains. The first Christmas card I receive always cranks the tension up a notch. Is it time to send mine out, or is it still too early? Should I spend a day updating my list to include all of the people I no longer work with? Trust me, there are a lot of them and the postage alone will probably mean less candy in the stockings of my two sons. Not that any of us really need candy, but that candy is part of our tradition.

When counting my blessings this Thanksgiving, first and foremost was the added time I have to spend with my family. The strange thing is, I'm still not sure what to do with it. After years of baking pies on the morning of Thanksgiving Eve, taking a nap that afternoon, going to work that night, then coming home in the morning and putting the turkey in the oven before I went to bed, I was at something of a loss. I did all the same things--except for the napping and the working--and after the turkey was properly stuffed and in the oven, I had no idea what to do. I have no traditions for how to spend that period of time other than setting my alarm to get up when the turkey is done. My youngest son was playing video games. My oldest son was still asleep. My husband also slept in, both of them having stayed up until some ungodly hour watching something or other on TV. It still astonishes me that anyone would voluntarily stay up so late. I mean, they used to have to pay me to do it.

To while away the hours and not prolong the baking time by continuously checking on the bird’s progress, I went out to gather chestnuts. Unfortunately, the drought we endured this summer had apparently been the ruin of the chestnut crop. I wound up gathering a few hickory nuts instead, and was astonished to find they weren’t black and shriveled or riddled with the same little worms that normally attack the chestnuts. Apparently the drought also had a deleterious effect on the worms. For the first time in many a year, I actually had something to crack with that highly effective nutcracker I inherited from my father. Pa was a black walnut fan, and it takes a heavy-duty apparatus to crack them.

Please forgive the odd camera angle, and yes, that is my Christmas tree that I had to hold out of the way. Yet another of my traditions is to go with my eldest son Mike to buy a Christmas tree the day after Thanksgiving, which is the only Black Friday shopping I ever do. We bring it home, trim a bit off the bottom of the trunk, and put it in water in the garage until I'm ready to bring it in to decorate, usually somewhere around the 10th of December.

This year, I had something different scheduled for Thanksgiving weekend--as opposed to working so that the avid shoppers in the ICU could have the time off. My critique partner and fellow Indiana RWA chapter member Sandy James and I were asked to do a Q&A session on writing paranormal romance at the Starbase Indy Star Trek convention. This was the first writer-related event I'd ever been able to drag my husband and son to, and I must say it was nice having an entourage to carry my books for a change.

Sandy and I did our best to blend in with the Klingons and Vulcans and assorted Starfleet personnel, and we rated our presentation as a success, considering that it was well-attended, despite going up against an astronaut who was scheduled to speak at the same time.

I'm not sure we'd have had anyone in our audience at all if we'd gone up against Martok and Gowron, however. They were a hoot! Never thought I'd see the day when two Klingon warriors would be standing up singing songs and telling jokes.

Something else to be thankful for, I suppose. :D big grin

Are you doing anything differently this holiday season? Starting a new tradition or revising an old one? 

Post a comment for your chance to win an ARC of Wildcat

Be sure to include your email address in your comment so that I can contact the winner! Contest closes at 6PM on December 2nd!

Thursday, November 29, 2012


by Deb Werksman
Editorial Manager,

Sourcebooks Casablanca

HI everybody, you know how much I prefer to hear from you than to hear from myself. SO--post the first page of your manuscript!

I will critique every single one, and I will request full submissions.


Please include this info:

Thank you! Can't wait to read your writing!

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

The Best Gift by Shana Galen

My daughter is now of the age where she can tell me what gifts she would like for Christmas. Pretty much everything she sees is added to the growing list, but a few things have been oft repeated—Mickey Mouse Clubhouse, a bike, the three little pigs and wolf (I think she means the figures to play with), and a shopping cart.

Important question: can a three-year-old even ride a bike? Is that too young for a bike?

I remember making similar lists when I was…well, not so very young! It’s fun to dream and wish and ultimately be surprised by what’s under the Christmas tree. And though I have loved every Christmas because they are spent with my family and friends and because I am reminded of The Gift of Christmas, there is one gift that stands out. There was one Christmas I was totally surprised and blown away.

I was twelve or thirteen, I think, and my mother said we were going to U-Haul to pick up part of my Christmas present. This was on Christmas Eve, and I could not imagine what U-Haul would have that I wanted. I was probably a little bit sullen in the way that pre-teens can be.

We drove over there, and I remember asking dozens of questions, trying to get my mom to give me a hint and reminding her, not so subtly, that what I really wanted was make-up. Had I showed her the pink and blue eye shadow I needed?

We pulled into U-Haul and walked in, and I immediately figured out my gift.

WTL photos under Creative Commons license

And I was ecstatic.

My mom had rented a VCR for the week. That’s right. This was before everyone had VCRs and long, long before the DVD. This was back in the day when there were still VHS and Beta VCRs to choose from. We didn’t even have cable at my house, so having a VCR for a week was a big deal. And I got to check out two videos along with the rental. I chose The Empire Strikes Back and Raiders of the Lost Ark. I was in love with Harrison Ford, even though he was old enough to be my dad.

I’ll never forget that Christmas, even though it wasn’t too much longer before my dad bought us a VCR and watching a video wasn’t so special anymore.

Do you have a special memory or a best gift you’ve been given? I was born on Christmas, so my mom always says I was her best gift, though I believe there have been days when she might have taken that back!

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Living Through a Home Remodeling Project

It has been almost two years since we remodeled our kitchen, and I’m pretty excited to start a new project soon. We are having our master bathroom remodeled. Goodbye black toilet and bathtub. Good riddance crazy shower door that people keep telling me looks like a confessional. Hope to never see you again shiny red tile. (We call it our Liberace bathroom.)  

Bling-bling gone wrong!
I know many people cringe at the thought of remodeling. Complete disorder for weeks, a fine layer of dust that keeps coming back for months after the job is finished, and the unpredictability that comes with any remodeling job just isn’t their thing. I’m not fond of those parts either, but there were a lot of positives that came along with the kitchen remodel, not including the awesome end result. We had fun!
(Tip for dealing with the fine dust: Change the air filter in your furnace every few days during the job.)

My 'Before' kitchen was way too small
Cooking was a challenge, but we overcame it with “campfire” nights where we roasted hotdogs in the fireplace. I made meals in the slow cooker. Family invited us over for dinner. We had pizza and movie nights.

Life was simplified. We had four cups, four plates, four spoons, and four forks. They were washed in a basin as soon as they were used, so I never had to deal with piled up dishes. When it’s all you have, you keep up with it too. After having the kids out of school for the holiday weekend and me spending way too much time in the kitchen washing dishes, I’m tempted to pack the extra dishes away. I swear they use five to six glasses a day each when they are home, but if they only had one...

I loved picking out all of the different elements (cabinets, tile, countertop, lights, hardware) and watching the room slowly come together. My daughter and I would take pictures to post on Facebook every night, and she would jump into the frame at the last second. We had our own version of “Where’s Waldo”.

We grew fond of our contractor and his right-hand guy, and I actually felt sad when they were finished. I enjoyed the hustle and bustle of men coming and going, the sound of hammering, and the surprising conversations they had when they didn’t think I could hear. At least I’m assuming they didn’t know I could hear them. Did you know some guys talk about relationships just like women do???

Our kitchen remodel was happening at the same time I had a huge deadline. It seems like that would be the worst time, but it lit a fire under me. I was excited by the daily progress on the kitchen and it translated into daily progress on my novel. Plus, some days I was forced to retreat to the public library, which helped to keep me on task.

My mostly finished new kitchen in 2011

So here I am almost two years later, deadline looming in the near future, and we’re about to jump into another adventure. I can’t wait! Do you have a big project you would like to tackle this coming year?

Monday, November 26, 2012

Five Things I Enjoy About Thanksgiving by Tamara Hogan

Thanksgiving, one of my favorite holidays, is officially over, and now it's back to work again after having four days off the day job. Mark and I had an optimal mix of alone/unscheduled time, and time spent with family. Some of my favorite things about the Thanksgiving holiday? 

1. LEFTOVERS! We didn't host either of our family events, but nonetheless we came home from both celebrations with a bounty of leftovers. Most of the turkey has already hit the freezer, awaiting our next homemade turkey pot pie extravaganza. We make awesome pot pies. ;-)

2. FAMILY TIME. I feel fortunate that my family and Mark's family all live in Minnesota. Mom came south, so bothy events took less than two hours to drive to. It's nice to catch up on what's happening with family members, to show off vacation pictures, and to solidify plans for Christmas.

Courtesy Discovery Channel
3. TV/MOVIE MARATHONS!  I'm a total TV junkie, so no low-key vacation day is complete without some time spent in front of the flat-screen. I watched "The Hunger Games," half of "The Big Bang Theory" Season 5, some of the James Bond marathon on SyFy, and some episodes of "Tattoo Nightmares" and "Ink Master" on Spike, reigniting my tattoo hunger something fierce. Discovery Channel's "Gold Rush" murmured in the background as Mark and I made pumpkin pie. Isn't teenage miner Parker Schnabel completely adorable? And who can pass up "Too Cute" on Animal Planet? You can never have too many puppies and kittens.  

4. READING!  I knocked off six books in four days, including our own Grace Burrowes' utterly divine "Lady Maggie's Secret Scandal," my friend Darynda Jones' "Fourth Grave Beneath My Feet," and four of the six Harlequin Blaze category romances that were shipped to me a couple of months ago as part of my monthly subscription. My TBR is still completely out of hand, but isn't that a really nice problem to have?

5. COUCH TIME! Whether it's watching TV, reading, snuggling with the cats, or taking an afternoon nap in the sunshine, the couch is one of my favorite places in the world. I spent so much time there over the holiday weekend that I suspect my ass expanded.

Oh, and I worked on an Underbelly Chronicles novella being published by Sourcebooks next spring.  ;-) 

Notice that Black Friday shopping is nowhere on this list. Believe me, this girl loves her some retail therapy, but NO ONE can pay me enough money to set foot anywhere near the Mall of America between Thanksgiving and, oh, maybe the second week of January 2013.  I have no patience for playing Parking Lot Rodeo, and the very word "doorbusters" gives me the wiggins. 

MoA shoppers keeping it klassy... (AP Photo/Mark Vancleave)

That said, I DID shop. The Amazon Fairy delivered a new pair of black boots right to my doorstep, which totally counts. 

What do YOU enjoy about Thanksgiving? If you shopped on Black Friday, tell us about your adventures, and your screaming deals! 

Award-winning author Tamara Hogan loathes cold and snow, but nonetheless lives near Minneapolis with her partner Mark and two naughty cats. When she’s not telecommuting to Silicon Valley, she enjoys writing edgy urban fantasy romance with a sci-fi twist. A feral reader with an unapologetic television addiction, Tammy is forever on the lookout for the perfect black boots.

CHASE ME Buy Links: (Amz | BN | Sourcebooks | Powell’s | BAM | Sony |  Kobo | iBooks)

Saturday, November 24, 2012

A Look Inside the Creation of DOUBLE ENCHANTMENT, By Kathryne Kennedy

I'm gearing up for the re-release of the second book in the RELICS OF MERLIN series, DOUBLE ENCHANTMENT, and I just launched a fabulous new contest on my website! In each of the Relics books, one of Merlin's relics are featured, and in DOUBLE ENCHANTMENT it's a garnet broach. Although I wish I could craft the jewelry I created in my imagination, I settle for the jewel, and buy a piece that speaks to me of fantasy and the Victorian era. Check out the contest on my website to see if I chose correctly:

If you haven't read the Relics of Merlin series yet, here's a bit of inside information about DOUBLE ENCHANTMENT, re-releasing in March 2013:

DOUBLE ENCHANTMENT is the second book in the RELICS OF MERLIN series (although since the relics primarily connect them it easily stands alone).  Jasmina is an earl’s daughter who cast a simple illusion of herself, unaware that the jewel in her possession was one of Merlin’s relics…and the spell took on a life of its own. Sterling is a were-stallion who meets Jasmina’s illusion and marries her. When he finds out the truth and meets the real Lady Jasmina, life starts to get very complicated for them both.

I chose the title, DOUBLE ENCHANTMENT, because all the books in the RELICS OF MERLIN series have some form of ‘enchant’ in the title, and since Jasmina made a twin of herself….

I got my idea for the RELICS OF MERLIN series because I tried my hand at writing a Victorian historical romance, and the entire time I was writing it I kept saying “What if?” (I just couldn’t turn off the fantasy lover in me).  It always seemed unfair that males inherited the titles and land, so wouldn’t it be wonderful if women had power? Not in strength of arms, but with magic. So, regardless of sex, the child who had inherited the magical power would be heir. And of course, those with more magical abilities would hold the highest title…so the world of Merlin’s Relics was born.

My  favorite research book for DOUBLE ENCHANTMENT was WHAT JANE AUSTEN ATE AND CHARLES DICKENS KNEW by Daniel Pool. I used INSIDE THE VICTORIAN HOME by Judith Flanders to develop the historical character of not only Jasmina, but also her father and mother as well.

I created maps of my alternate Victorian London to keep track of changes to name places (Pall Mall became Pall Mage, Belgrave Square became Gargoyle Square, and I added the Hall of Mages next to Buckingham Palace, for example) because I figured that with the influence of magic, the city would develop differently. I also have a ‘map’ of a Victorian mansion, with the type of furniture for each room listed (In England, the first floor of a home is the ground floor, and the first floor is called the second, which is often confusing to my American mind :}).  I also have a chart with hereditary titles, how each peer is addressed, and their level of magic. I keep a dictionary of my own words, because I often make them up; and a chart of the relics, when they were discovered, what type of jewel and spell (if known).

During my research, I was surprised to discover such early use of water closets, especially one that used dirt to absorb the refuse (called an earth closet).  Since neither of them was widely used until later in the century, I usually refrain from mentioning them in my books. 

Victorians were known for their prudery. And yet the bustle developed because men admired the sway of a woman’s backside. And isn’t it interesting that although women were clothed head to toe, their bosoms were usually on display, and they had slits in their drawers?
I hope you enjoyed an inside look at how I wrote DOUBLE ENCHANTMENT, and if you've already read the series, I do hope you pick up the re-release with it's fabulous new cover, and give someone who loves to read a bit of magical romance.

As Always,
My Magical Best,

Friday, November 23, 2012

Now what?

It doesn't look like this anymore so now what...
Thanksgiving is over and we've been to the Black Friday sales. Kids are hollerin' that they do NOT want leftover turkey or turkey sandwiches so now what?
Can't waste good food, not when we've just spent next week's grocery money on the Black Friday sales. But the kids and husband don't like the dark meat so now what?
Shake out your super mom cape and put it's my best easy to throw together Now What recipes for the day after Thanksgiving. The family won't even know they're eating leftovers and you'll have enough energy left to make it to one final sale before the five o'clock deadline!

Leftover Cinnamon Roll Bread Pudding
1/2 cup granulated sugar
5 large beaten eggs
2 cups milk
2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
3 cups cubed leftover cinnamon rolls (NOTE: If you didn't have homemade cinnamon rolls for breakfast on Thanksgiving morning, then 3 cups of leftover dinner rolls or white bread can be used but increase sugar to 2 cups)
1/2 cup packed light brown sugar
1/4 cup (1/2 stick) butter, softened
1 cup chopped pecans
1 cup granulated sugar
1/2 cup (1 stick) butter, melted
1 egg, beaten
3/4 cup of milk or half and half
2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Grease a 13 by 9 by 2-inch pan.
Mix together granulated sugar, eggs, and milk in a bowl; add vanilla. Pour over cubed bread and let sit for 10 minutes.
In another bowl, mix and crumble together brown sugar, butter, and pecans.
Pour bread mixture into prepared pan. Sprinkle brown sugar mixture over the top and bake for 35 to 45 minutes, or until set. Remove from oven.
For the sauce:
Mix together the granulated sugar, butter, egg, and vanilla in a saucepan over medium heat. Stir together until the sugar is melted. Thicken with 3 T. flour in 1/4 cup of milk, stirred until smooth. Pour over bread pudding. Serve warm or cold.

Hot Turkey Salad
2 c. chopped turkey (and it can be the dark meat)
1 c. chopped celery
1 c. mayonnaise
2 T. lemon juice           
2 T. chopped onions
½ t. salt
½ c. almond (or if you live in the south, chopped pecans)
½ to ¾ c. of crushed potato chips
Combine all the ingredients except the chips and put into a baking dish. Top with chips and bake at 450 degrees for 10 minutes.
(NOTE: if it's got potato chips then it's got to be good, right?)
Cold Turkey Salad
2 cups diced cooked turkey
2 cups diced apples
½ cup walnuts (or pecans)
½ cup chopped celery
½ cup mayonnaise
4 T. honey
3 T. Dijon mustard
Mix all together and serve chilled over lettuce leaves. Or it can be served as sandwiches if you can convince the family that it is really deli food!
Cold Turkey Salad
3 cups diced turkey
¼ cup dried cranberries
½ cup diced celery
2 T. finely chopped red onion
½ cup diced apple
¼ cup chopped pecans (or walnuts or almonds)
6 T. mayonnaise
2 t. lemon juice
¼ t. salt
dash of black pepper
Mix all together and serve over lettuce leaves or in a hollowed out tomato. Or again it can be served as a sandwich stuffing but make the family think it is something really special!

And just for fun, I tried this yesterday. The grandkids loved it and it helped get them all sugared up before I sent them home with their mommas!

Snicker Salad 
1 package of instant vanilla pudding mix
1 cup of milk
Mix well and add a container of Cool-Whip
Add three apples, peeled and diced
and about 10 miniature Snicker bars cut into small pieces
Chill for at least thirty minutes! (I was the best Nene in Oklahoma when I brought that out for dinner)
They'll think you slaved for hours, and on the day after Thanksgiving! Now put your cape back in the closet and hurry on out the door to that next Black Friday sale...then come on home, prop your feet up and read one of the newest Sourcebooks romances. Speaking of which Just a Cowboy and His Baby comes out in two weeks and there is a fun Thanksgiving scene in it when Trace Coleman meets Gemma's family for the first time! I'll give away an ARC of that book today to someone who leaves a comment on this site...drawing to be held tonight and in the spirit of being grateful to ALL my readers, it's not limited to the US and Canada. Whoever Mr. Random pulls from the boot gets a book whether they live next door to me or half way around the world!

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

The Smallest Step by Grace Burrowes

I  have two older sisters, both of whom I love dearly. I mention my sister Gail in the Author’s Note for “Lady Louisa’s Christmas Knight,” because in her seventh decade of life, Gail is pursuing a Ph.D. in comparative literature. Her knowledge of Catullus’ poetry figured significantly in Louisa and Joseph’s story. Growing up to be just like Gail would be a significant step closer to canonization for me.
Gail is also the person who happened be with me one terrible, horrible, awful, very bad day when I was ranting about some minor calamity or mommy-fail that felt absolutely overwhelmingly, irreparable—and probably undeserved. My life, according to me, honked raspberries. Do. Not. Try. To. Cheer. Me. Up.
Gail lit this candle of wisdom in the midst of my Stygian emotion gloom: Think of the smallest thing you can be genuinely grateful for—the ability to breathe, silence, the lock on the bathroom door, eyesight, hearing, speech, anything—and hold the gratitude in your heart for the smallest moment.
Bother. Even on my worst day, I am capable of nanoseconds of gratitude, and even in miniscule doses, genuine gratitude will rebalance the humors. Gail’s suggestion has borne much fruit beyond that simple coping mechanism though.
I set my alarm clock for an hour before I intend to get out of bed. I use that hour to ponder my writing projects, and come up with the scenes I intend to write upon rising. Some days, nothing comes. Not one word, not one scene, not a single sentence—not even a wretched, trite, boring single sentence. It’s tempting to throw away the writing day at that point—and I love to write—but instead, I ask myself, what the smallest, positive step is that I can take in the direction of writing.
 Turn the computer on. Open yesterday’s file. Read it. Read it again, and tweak a few words… Often, some momentum develops.
Similarly, when I walk into a situation full of people I don’t know, my inclination is to turn right around and walk out. This will not do when one is a published author. People are entitled to expect some civility, at least. So I ask myself what the smallest step is that I can take in the direction of Being Sociable: Smile. Smile at somebody who looks as awkward as I feel.
They usually smile back.
I see much advice regarding ways to make a day more productive, how to set career goals or devise outlines for writing terrific books. Lovely stuff, none of which has ever been as useful to me as asking the question: What is the smallest step I can now take in the direction I want to go?
Do you have micro tools that have served you similarly? The holidays are upon us, and I would certainly be glad to find a few handy little coping mechanisms beside my plate at dinner tomorrow, or under my tree next month.

My author copies of “The Bridegroom Wore Plaid” just arrived, so to three commenters, I’ll send along a signed copy. Don’t forget that Lady Sophie’s Christmas Wish will be a 99 cent NOOK download on Friday, and to everybody, a happy, peaceful Thanksgiving.

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

10 things I'm thankful for--as an author

1. I'm grateful to the woman who handed me a romance novel without telling me what genre it was. I was caring for my terminally ill parents, and she knew I needed a healthy escape. I was halfway into the sequel before I realized this engrossing, intelligent, well-written book was a romance novel! The only one I had read before was a '70's bodice ripper. I hated it and vowed never to read another one.

2. I'm grateful romance novels have evolved from 'damsels in distress' to modern kick-ass, take no prisoners, heroines.

3. I'm grateful the heroes are still awesome. (grin)

4. I'm grateful I needed to take some time off after my parents died. It gave me a chance to try my hand at writing a book. Something I had always dreamed of doing.

5. I'm grateful my husband willingly took on the bills and let me pursue my dream full-time.

6. I'm grateful to the first e-publishers who offered me contracts. (My first book received 3 offers! I'm also grateful for the ego-boost that resulted.)

7. I'm grateful to the publisher I chose to go with. I learned so much about the business and promotion side of publishing--both from the publisher and the other authors.

8. I'm grateful for the many author friends I've made over the years. Many of them critiqued my early attempts, unselfishly offered their knowledge and assistance, and inspired me by example.

9. I'm extremely grateful for my fans. It's a priviledge to share my kooky sense of humor with people who love it. I'm so glad I can provide the kind of healthy escape that was given to me.

10. I'm grateful for computers--despite the many times I get frustrated with them--for making this writing thing so much easier than typing, copying, and mailing manuscripts, old-school style. I'll toss in my gratitude for the Internet that has made communication with the outside world so easy and enjoyable.

In short...I love my job. How lucky am I? Please be on the lookout for my next novel, Flirting Under a Full Moon. It's available for pre-order now. Judging from the amount of "likes" at B&, my fans are eagerly awaiting it.   

Monday, November 19, 2012

The My Most Memorable Thanksgiving Ever! by Terry Spear

So it's time to decorate for Thanksgiving, and my pyracantha is also in beautiful form just for Thanksgiving. It will turn red for Christmas!

Are you ready for My Most Memorable Thanksgiving Ever? It's not the kind where you say, "Oooh," and "Ahh," and "How very nice and sweet."

It's where you say, "OMG!" "How awful!" "I'm glad I wasn't visiting you for Thanksgiving!!!"

Yep, and there it is: My Most Memorable Thanksgiving Ever.

Stories that have no conflict are BORING. Who wants to read about them? Thanksgivings are the same as every Thanksgiving. Feasting, playing, family and friends gathering.  Totally unmemorable from one to the next.

So we had to liven ours up to make it extra special. Wildlife included.

The turkey dinner I shared with my mother and daughter was great. We had a terrific feast while my son was visiting friends elsewhere...but after he heard of OUR Thanksgiving, he said he'd wished he'd stayed home to witness all the excitement. LOL

Feast done, now it was time for the funny Jackie Chan movie, a nice fire, while for the first time since I'd lived in Central Texas, we had sleet and snow and blowing wind for Thanksgiving. It was just perfect.

My daughter put the movie on. I started the 4 1/2--hour burning log. My mother watched.

And then...disaster struck.

First, smoke began pouring into the house. All the vents were open!

Then red wasps began pouring into the house!

My daughter is terrified of wasps/bees after being stung by 12 bees at a zoo once--I was the Girl Scout Leader, naturally, and had 10 girls who were stung...and was frantically trying to get the screaming, crying girls into an ice cream enclosed shop.

So she's flipping out, then runs in with hornet spray. I had the vacuum out and was catching the groggy, smoked-out wasps with the vacuum wand. "No, don't spray toward the fire!" I yelled at my daughter.

Who knew what would  happen? I envisioned explosions rocking the house! Besides, we were already gagging on the smoke as it billowed into the house. Hornet spray would have done us in. Especially knowing how much she would have sprayed to kill those suckers!

Mom had grabbed a flyswatter and was swinging at the wasps.

Meanwhile, Jackie Chan is doing his thing on the TV--all in Chinese.

When it looked like I'd gotten the last of the wasps, I started yelling for everyone to open doors, windows, turn on all the ceiling fans. But the 4 1/2 hour burning log, wasn't going to stop burning any time soon! So I was trying to get it into a bucket and out the door, without catching the carpeting on fire as sparks were flying everywhere.

By now, we had a dense gray cloud of smoke that filled half of the space from the ceiling down.

With the fans blowing and the front door and back door open, the icy/snowy wind blew through the the house, carrying much of the smoke with it.

Time to watch the movie. In the freezing cold! All bundled up in coats and sweaters and hats and slippers and blankets, we snuggled on the couch together to watch the funny Jackie Chan Chinese.

Though, Jenn had restarted it several times as we fought wasps and smoke.

"Jennifer," I said, "are you sure it's not in English?"

"Nope," she said.

So we watched it in Chinese. Then the outtakes. They are always so hilarious, though we were all still laughing just as much about the wasps and smoke and blizzard weather blowing through the house.

The outtakes were all in English. I looked at Jennifer. She smiled back at me.

So that is My Most Memorable Thanksgiving Ever! And I wouldn't give it up for the world!

I'm going to my son's home for Thanksgiving this year! :)

Just a couple of jaguar pictures. In the first, the jaguar was attacking a piece of wood.

And in the next, he's watching you! I was making a clicking noise with my tongue to get him to look at me for the camera. If you catch one in the not do this. You want to fade into the background.

If you celebrate Thanksgiving, are you having turkey or something else???

My advice, don't invite red wasps for dinner. Oh, and the smoke? I'd had wind damage to my roof a couple of weeks earlier, took off the ridge of my roof and patches of tiles all over the roof and the cap off my chimney (which they didn't mention), and when they reroofed, the roofers covered the chimney with roofing paper. The heat from the fire was so hot, it did burn a hole through the roofing paper, which, despite how bad the smoke was inside the house, had allowed some of it to escape through the chimney eventually. But I guess they also then sealed in the red wasp nest so they had no where to go but inside with us.

I did get burns on the carpet, and melted the plastic bucket with the burning log. Always be prepared for any natural disaster. Hey, the vacuum cleaner was ready and nearby!


Happy Memorable Thanksgiving!

"Giving new meaning to the term alpha male where fantasy IS reality."