Wedding Receptions in the You-Tube Era

 Posted by N. M. Cedeño



What’s going on with wedding receptions these days?

My husband and I were apparently married in a bygone era, the pre-YouTube era. Consequently, our bridesmaids and groomsmen did not choreograph dances, put on a ballet, or produce a Broadway musical during our reception for the entertainment of our guests. I would never have asked them to do so. And, it wouldn’t have occurred to them.

Now, the newly engaged search YouTube for what’s “traditional” at wedding receptions. Because if it’s “traditional,” it must be on YouTube, right? And, if the newly engaged believe the videos online, then an important part of the reception is the “Introduction of the Bridal Party” who are called out by name and title by a DJ, as if he were introducing contestants on the Price is Right.

“Introducing the Mother of the Bride! Mary Smith, come on down!” yells the DJ as music booms loudly in the background.

The members of the bridal party then enter the room in pairs or individually, dancing into the room possibly with props, to the applause of the gathered guests. Sometimes, the entire wedding party then gets together and performs a choreographed dance number for the watching crowd. Based on YouTube, this is a required duty of the bridal party and an important part of entertaining the guests. The bridal party had better be ready to put on a show.

My wedding cake

Not having been involved in any weddings recently, I had no idea that this practice had become so ubiquitous. Back when I got married, the bridesmaids went to showers, paid for a dress, showed up at the wedding, and posed for pictures. The maid of honor and best man had a few other duties as well: giving speeches and planning parties. So, when asked to be a bridesmaid recently, I said yes, not knowing that I would be receiving instructions on choosing an appropriate song for my grand entrance, selecting props and/or costume items, and, of course, choreographing my dance moves.

I have never aspired to be on Broadway or dance in musical theater. I have two left feet and no sense of rhythm. The ballroom dance class I took in college taught me quickly that my ability to see a dance step and then copy it was almost nonexistent. Imagine my shock when I received my instructions.

So of course, I told the bridal couple that my husband wasn’t willing to do any of that stuff. He’s a required member of the wedding party, so I threw him under the bus. The bride was surprised, but understanding. Having carefully studied YouTube, she hadn’t realized that bridal parties haven’t always danced into the reception. It never occurred to her that we didn’t know that entertaining the crowd with a dance routine was a duty of the bridal party.

In days past, I remember the bride and groom being introduced as they came to do their first dance. No one bothered to introduce the entire bridal party. Bridal parties didn’t do choreographed dances and post them online in the pre-YouTube era, that bygone era, before 2005.


N. M. Cedeño writes short stories and novels that are typically set in Texas. Her stories vary from traditional mystery, to science fiction, to paranormal mystery in genre. Her debut novel, All in Her Head, was published in 2014, followed by her second novel, For the Children’s Sake, in 2015. In 2016, For the Children’s Sake was selected as a finalist for the East Texas Writers Guild Book Award in the Mystery/Thriller category. Most recently, she has begun writing the Bad Vibes Removal Services Series which includes short stories and the novel The Walls Can Talk (2017).

Visit her at or find her books at her Amazon author page .



Potential or Perfection?

 Posted by Kathy Waller


‘What virtues do you wish more of?’ asks Mr.L. I answer:—

Louisa May Alcott

Patience, Love, Silence,
Obedience, Generosity, Perseverance,
Industry, Respect, Self-denial.

‘What vices less of?’

Idleness, Wilfulness, Vanity,
Impatience, Impudence, Pride,
Selfishnes, Activity, Love of cats.

Louisa May Alcott. Journal, October 1882


Have you drawn up your list of New Year’s Resolutions?

I haven’t.

It isn’t that I don’t want to lose weight, exercise, read more books, write more books, get a manicure every week, clean out the closets, clean out everything else, start taking voice lessons again, practice the piano, learn to speak Spanish, get to bed by 10:00 p.m. six nights a week, eat five to seven servings of fruits and vegetables every day, improve my posture, give up sugar, serve a tasty home-cooked meal every evening, learn to cook,  break that nasty little addiction to Candy Crush, increase in lovingkindness and thoughtfulness and generosity, lose the tendency to shoot off my mouth, and be able to lay hands on my car keys and passwords at all times.

I would love to give up vice and wallow in virtue.

But after decades of December 31 Brainstorming for Perfection sessions, I’m still the Same Old Me. So I’ve given up resolving instead.

Now when the Old Year gives way to the New, I ponder the words of columnist Ellen Goodman:

We spend January 1 walking through our lives, room by room, drawing up a list of work to be done, cracks to be patched. Maybe this year, to balance the list, we ought to walk through the rooms of our lives…not looking for flaws, but for potential.

So. What is my potential? What am I capable of doing or becoming? What possibilities does the year hold in store?

Might I start a story? A book? Finish one? Publish one? Or more?

Might I sing? Paint?

Travel? Meet new people? Make new friends?

Have a grand adventure? Or two? Or three?

I might.

I might do any number of things–because I may do them, not because I should or must.

I might learn to cook because I want to. Perhaps that’s part of my potential.

Carrying Ms. Goodman’s suggestion into 2018, I feel as if a brick has been lifted off my head. A year of possibilities lies before me. A year of discovery. A year of I wonders and what ifs.

It’s better this way.

Louisa May Alcott, who was not her father’s ideal child, knew what he wanted of her. She resolved to try. Judging from what I’ve read, she didn’t succeed. The adult Louisa was industrious, perseverant, generous and loving, but she was also willful, impatient, forthright, blunt, tactless, and, to a certain degree, proud. And, although I can’t document this, I know she never lost her love of cats.

Her resolutions worked about as well as mine have.

But here’s the thing–If Louisa had not retained her vices–if she hadn’t been willful as well as industrious, and proud as well as perseverant–she might never have published a word. She outdid  the father who pushed her toward perfection. Her potential lay in a different direction.

Perfection is overrated anyway. It drains the energy. Could a perfect Louisa May Alcott have written Little Women? I doubt it.

So, setting aside the shoulds, oughts, and musts, I ask–What is my potential in 2018?

What is yours?

Have you thought about it?


M. K. Waller, aka Kathy, blogs at Telling the Truth, Mainly and at Austin Mystery Writers. Her stories have been published in Austin Mystery Writers’ two crime fiction anthologies, MURDER ON WHEELS and LONE STAR LAWLESS, and in Kaye George’s DAY OF THE DARK: Stories of Eclipse. Her flash fiction appears on Mysterical-EShe edits the Sisters in Crime Heart of Texas Chapter newsletter/blog, HOTSHOTS!

Hey Good Lookin’, Whatcha Got Cookin’ by Cher’ley


 This Blog  by Cher’ley Grogg

Food is an important part of our lives and we all have favorite recipes we have been raised with. There were 5 kids and two adults in our family and often we children would bring in visitors and Mom would always say, “Stay to eat. We’ll throw another potato in the pot.” Some of my favorite foods were the soups that Mom made. She had many different kinds of soups, and one of my favorites was hamburger soup.


1 finely chopped onion
1 pound lean ground beef
4 celery stalks, chopped
4 carrots, chopped
2 cups potatoes, cleaned, peeled, chopped
1 28-oz can diced tomatoes (we always had home-canned)
1 6-oz can tomato paste (to thicken quicker)
Pepper and salt to taste


Brown hamburger and drain. Transfer to a pot, add chopped carrots, celery and potatoes.  Continue cooking over medium heat for about 5 -8 minutes.  Add diced tomatoes and tomato paste (do not drain the diced tomatoes).  Blend. Simmer for about 30 minutes or until potatoes and carrots are cooked. Bigger families, “Just throw another potato in the pot.”

My mom could create something that tasted good from practically nothing. When my children were younger, I too picked up some cheap and far-reaching dishes. When times were tight, the cook would always find ways to stretch the budget just a bit. I discovered many things that made good gravy, even a bit of flour and bacon grease tasted good over biscuits fresh from the oven. But, I find that I miss my mom’s simple recipes and since my children and grandchildreI remember n aren’t around much for meals, I’m still trying to learn to not cook for an army, but most of the older recipes tend to taste better when “super-sized”.

Aunt Linda is the main cook in “Stamp Out Murder”, people visiting McKeel’s Bed and Breakfast want good old-fashioned, West Virginia style food and Linda doesn’t disappoint them. In fact, many of the return guests do so because of her wonderful, mouth-watering recipes.

***Do you miss your Mom’s or Grandma’s cooking? What was your favorite dish? Do you have a favorite dish that you fix?***

Cher’ley’s Books are listed below and on sale at Amazon and local bookstores. Her newest book is an Advanced Coloring Book and she has one that is freshly published with 11 other authors.

Stamp Out Murder”.
 The Secret in Grandma’s Trunk” This is an especially good book for your Tween Children and Grandchildren
The JourneyBack 3The Journey Back-One Joy at a Time and the B&W Edition of The Journey Back
Boys Will Be Boys   The Joys and Terrors of Raising Boys-An Anthology
 Cowboys, Creatures, and Calico 

All About the Girls 5(3)

Four Moons and Fair Ladies Four Moons and Fair Maidens

Memories from Maple Street U.S.A: Pawprints on My Heartlink coming soon

Wonders of Water      Advanced Coloring Book

And please join me on my Facebook Fanpage, that’s managed by one of my most faithful fans: Cindy Ferrell
Here’s a link to Cher’ley’s WEBSITE

Spring Traditions

Gayle_signing photoThis post by Gayle M. Irwin

During the next few days, several special happenings occur, especially for those of the Christian faith. Today is Maundy Thursday, observance of the last Passover meal Jesus shared with his disciples. Tomorrow is Good Friday. Then comes Easter Sunday, which occurs this Sunday, April 16. Each day has its significance and usually traditions. For example, tonight many churches host a special service to commemorate Christ’s last supper with his disciples and so various congregations will “break the bread and drink the wine” in remembrance of that meal. On Friday, services are more solemn with respect to and in gratitude for Christ’s suffering and death on the cross. Then, on Sunday, a joyous service celebrates Jesus’ resurrection and the awesome life after death people can experience because of his atonement and power. Many Christian congregations sing “Christ the Lord is Risen Today,” written during the 1700s by Charles Wesley, founder of the Methodist Church.

Here’s a YouTube video of a contemporary version of the song:

For a vast majority of people, Easter and spring mean bunny rabbits, colored eggs, new, colorful clothes, and a large meal. Whether Christian or not, this time of year is filled with traditions!

Here in the United States another tradition rolls around during spring, and it looms before us, arriving this year on Tuesday, April 18: income tax day (by the way, not a day I generally sing about!). A tradition in my household is to wait until the last minute to complete and send in the tax forms and what needs to be paid, that way my husband and I keep our money as long as possible (and we usually owe due to our respective businesses – a small business owner gets zapped by taxes, especially it seems, sole proprietorships like ours). So, guess what I’m doing this weekend?!

Other spring traditions include planting flowers and gardens, thorough house cleanings, and yard cleanups. Especially where I live, come April, we’re sick and tired of snow and cold and just want to spend time outside (maybe one reason I’m not so much into spring indoor housecleaning – I want to spend time outside!)

Cabin Front_snow_June 2016
Irwin cabin – June 2016: Still a few mounds of snow!

Which brings me to another springtime tradition in my neck of the woods: “opening up the cabin.” This is especially true for those who have water and electricity and may have shuttered windows for the winter; they go and hoist open the shutters, turn up the heat, and turn on the water. Greg and I don’t have to “open” our cabin – with no water or power to turn on/up and no buttoned-down windows, we simply “go.” April isn’t usually the month we can drive in (or even walk in) to our little cabin in the big woods – we usually still must ski/snowshoe in. And, with a dumping of snow just last week, it will likely be late May, perhaps even early June before we can drive into our forest haven. One year, we could drive all the way to the cabin in early May; that was also the year of a major fire around our place, so we’d rather still walk in, even with hills of snow hanging around, than to go through a scary summer fire season like that again.

Gayle_Cabin_Writing_smallerBut, I do love the tradition of first spring day at the cabin, and I look forward to this year’s “first walk-in” time! My little woodland sanctuary provides respite from the world around me, and rejuvenates my creativity. I wonder what ideas will sprout into stories at the cabin this year? I anticipate creative discoveries and inspired writings!

What are some of your spring traditions? What is it about spring that you most enjoy?

Happy Spring and Happy Easter!

Bunny Face_gray_web

Gayle & Mary outsideGayle M. Irwin writes inspirational pet stories for children and adults. She is also a contributing writer to several Chicken Soup for the Soul books and writes articles for various magazines and newspapers. She is currently working on new books about pet rescue for both kids and adults. Learn more at


Desire in Christmas Reflections and Writing

Travis Richardson_5x7_300dpi (1) by Travis Richardson

I grew up in a hyper-religious family, but we celebrated Christmas as a secular holiday. No stars, no angels, no managers. Since Jesus’ exact birth date could not be confirmed, we stripped religion from the  celebration. Just Santa, Rudolph, and elves. God wasn’t missing from our lives since we went to church three times a week. Around Christmastime friends of mine whose families weren’t very religious went to church for midnight mass, nativity plays or productions of Handel’s Messiah. I felt like I was missing out.

This was not allowed in our house

As I grew older, commercialism, the thing that Charlie Brown warned about, got the better of me. I wanted a real tree that touched the ceiling, perfectly wrapped expensive gifts, and a big joyous spectacle around an immaculate living room with a blazing fire. The sorts of things I’d seen on TV and desired. To me, it was the tangible visualization of what a perfect Christmas should look like.

Regardless, the Christmas celebrations were great. I celebrated not only with my immediate family, but with my wonderful grandparents and in later adolescent years with aunts, uncles, and cousins. It never looked like the staged 30 second commercials or glossy Hollywood productions, but it was plenty. My wistfulness was satiated by the actual moments of giving, receiving, eating, and overall family love.

Although different, the wants of an author have similar parallels. Most of us probably have a strong desire to be read by the masses and well respected. Some may want to live the life of a multi-million book seller like Stephen King, James Patterson, or Danielle Steele. (Here is a list of the all-time best selling authors).  Maybe a writer’s dream includes an unrealistic visions of exotic cars and mansions. In reality this only happens to less than 1% of writers. However, we should enjoy the craft of writing and publishing, and try to achieve the highest level of success while being satisfied that we are creating new experiences for future readers.   

Desire is both healthy and unhealthy. Wanting to improve is a good thing. To be stagnant and not grow in the time one has on earth is a wasted opportunity. Wanting material goods or success for vanity’s sake, however, will probably open an abysmal hole for a lifetime of dissatisfaction. The key is to do the best you can and enjoy the moment. (I think I am repeating this last line for myself since humans tend to follow patterns.)

I’m wishing you and yours a Merry Christmas, Happy Holidays and a Happy New Year. May your days be joyful brimming with writing contentment, and may you strive for constant improvement.



Travis Richardson has been a finalist for the Macavity short story award in 2014 and 2015 as well as the Anthony short story award in 2014. His novella LOST IN CLOVER was listed in Spinetingler Magazine’s Best Crime Fiction of 2012. He has published stories in crime fiction publications such as Thuglit, Shotgun Honey, Flash Fiction Offensive, and All Due Respect. He edits the Sisters-In-Crime Los Angeles newsletter Ransom Notes, reviews Anton Chekhov short stories at,
and sometimes shoots a short movie. His novella, KEEPING THE RECORD, concerns a disgraced baseball player who will do anything to keep his tainted home run record. “Quack and Dwight” is his latest short story and can be found in the Anthology JEWISH NOIR. 

smaller Lost in Clover for webthuglit13Girl-Trouble-225x300ADR #4 V3Scoundrels_final_coverdarkcornersvol.1issue2Keeping_The_Record-final_1024x1024shotgun honeyjewishnoircover

Bye, bye Ne’erday!

For CCThis post is by Nancy Jardine

Happy 3rd January!
Hogmanay and Ne’erday are now past and gone but the convivial greetings for the year to come will continue to be exchanged in my part of the world for a number of days in January.
But what’s this Hogmanay and Ne’erday?
The etymology of the word ‘Hogmanay’ isn’t totally certain but the word’s been used in Scotland to describe the 31st December for centuries. A popular meaning given to Hogmanay in Scotland is that of it referring to ‘a gift’ and especially ‘a gift of good luck’.
A word referring to the tradition of bearing a gift of good luck on 31st December has been used in parts of mainland Europe since very early times. In Spain, it was ‘aguinaldo’ . The word ‘aguillanneuf’ was taken from France to Britain during the Norman invasion of 1066; though at this time the word acquired an ‘h’ at the beginning and was written as ‘haguillanneuf’. In 13th century Catalan, it was written as ‘guinaldo’. None of those sound like Hogmanay to me, but the words all referred to the same tradition of gift giving. In Scotland, over the following centuries, the word evolved to Hogmanay.

13230465_sIn St. Hilaire de Chaleons, near Nantes in France the ceremony known as Courir la Guillanneuf is currently being revived, since in recent decades the practice had almost faded into obscurity.
Other possible derivations of the word Hogmanay include the Flemish ‘hoog min dag’ meaning ‘a day of great love’, and the Anglo-Saxon ‘haleg monath’ meaning ‘holy month’.

Since many Doric words of north east Scotland, and Laland Scots of the Central Lowlands of Scotland (both strong dialects in their own right, and peppered with many non-English words) have some Flemish and Dutch origins, I personally favour the Dutch one which sounds the most similar to Hogmanay.
6413297_sOf course, the bearing of a gift for good luck to the household on the 31st December is much older than any of the above uses of the word. In pagan societies, bearing a gift to the householder was a common practice. Pagan winter celebrations, especially around the winter solstice, included bringing the gift of fire making. A log was carried over the threshold symbolising the potential for the return of the sun after the darkest days had passed- i.e. after the winter solstice of 21st December.

The Vikings brought their Christian-related Yule log traditions to Britain- again symbolising a gift like the sun’s warmth.
Ne’erday (pronounced in Glasgow as NER day) was the commonly contracted form of New Year’s Day and was used when I was growing up. Today, people in Scotland still use the word Hogmanay but the use of Ne’erday is sadly fading into disuse. I’ve written posts for this Writing Wranglers and Warriors blog in previous years describing what happened to me in my youth at Hogmanay and Ne’erday- a search of this blog might find those details – but by the 1950s and 1960s coal had supplanted the log as a gift given over the open door of the visited house, coal being the widely used form of heat production from the open fires in the houses.

A tall, dark haired, good looking visitor was commonly preferred for a ‘First Foot’ because a blond haired guest was thought to be unlucky, probably harkening back to the blond Viking raider that no-one wanted entering their house at any time, far less New Year! A small bite to eat (fruitcake, shortbread or black bun) usually accompanied the gift of coal to signify good wishes for the household to be healthy and wealthy enough to afford to eat during the coming year. ‘First footing’ traditions still continue in many places which I’m delighted about.

This year our ‘First Foot’ on New Year’s Day was a friend of my daughter who visited with her family. It was brilliant to have them as the first guests over the door since Sarah is very dark haired! The lump of coal that I had conveniently left on the doorstep was ‘gifted’ to us as well as other edible goodies and the now more traditional bottle of wine.

20150102_183652 whiskyThe children, in my young days, toasted the New Year with ginger or blackcurrant wine and the adults tended to toast with whisky for the men and the more genteel sherry for the women. Though I’m Scottish through and through I’ve never managed to like whisky! Sarah opted for a cup of tea since her littlest one is not yet two years old – and drink driving laws are now very strict in Scotland.

My husband likes an occasional Single Malt tipple but also likes to try new whiskies. These are this year’s selection.

Slainthe Math! This means ‘cheers’ in Scottish Gaelic (my apologies for not being able to type the special characters over the vowels- I haven’t learned how to do that)
(On Hogmanay 2014, I blogged about Hogmany and Ne’erday with a little more information and images. If you’re interested click here: BLOG)
Wishing you all a Happy New Year and a great weekend!

Nancy Jardine writes

x3 on black

historical romantic adventures;




Topaz Eyes is an Award Finalist mystery thriller

Nancy Jardine Award Finalist The People's Book Prize 2014


Her novels are also available from Barnes & Noble

Smashwords and many other ebook retailers.

You can find Nancy Jardine at her Blog ; WebsiteFacebook
Twitter: @nansjar : Pinterest and other social media places as Nancy Jardine.

Happy Halloween – Then and Now by Erin Farwell

IMG_3021_1As a kid, I loved all things spooky so Halloween was a favorite holiday. I grew up on a farm in Michigan so by necessity, our costumes had to look good over or under something very warm or incorporate a coat into the overall design. This led to some pretty creative costumes. We didn’t have a lot of money but fortunately my mother is a talented seamstress and put together some great outfits for us over the years.Me at Halloween 001

Our neighbors’ homes were too far away to allow us to walk. Instead mom drove us from house to house so we could beg for treats. We would dash into the cold, ring the doorbell, and scream “Trick or Treat” before shouting a hasty “thank you” as we rushed back to the warm car. Some people made us slow down so they could admire our costumes, others just smiled after us as we ran away.

Despite the hurried nature of our Halloween outings, I enjoyed the sound of the rustling leaves underfoot as we ran from door to door and the sight of bare branches reaching toward a full moon. Empty fields stretched in all directions, a reminder that the harvest was complete.

Today I live in a suburb of Atlanta and never know if it will be hot or cold come Halloween night. My neighborhood is small and wooded, but with lots of friendly neighbors so we’ll walMichelle, Dianna & I Halloween 001k from house to house to Trick or Treat as we have since we brought Willow home from China when she was a year old. She’s thirteen now and I think this will be her last year to go trick or treating, which is sad and I wonder if my mother felt the same way when my siblings and I few too old for this tradition.

There are no bare fields where I live now but we do have an owl that spends late summer and fall living in our backyard so I trust I’ll hear a mournful hoot or two as we wander from one lit porch to the next. The trees are not quite bare yet but there are lots of leaves to crunch underfoot.Willow Halloween 001

I’m sure Willow will get plenty of candy; she always does. My neighbors are generous, as is my daughter. She’s not much of a candy girl so I can always count of a snicker bar or two coming my way and, despite my diet, I will gladly accept.

On this spookiest of days, let me wish you all a wonderful Halloween filled with the activities and small touches that make this holiday special for you. And have a snickers.

You can learn more about me at:

ShadowlandsAHE New Cover8149g0+Rz-L._SL1500_

A Misunderstood Culture

propic11_1_1This post by L.Leander, Author of Fearless Fiction

As most of you know my Inzared series is about a Gypsy Circus set in the mid-1800’s in America. I thought you might like to know a little about this often-misunderstood culture.

Gypsies, sometimes called Travelers, originated from India and emigrated to Europe around 1300. Because of their dark skin and odd language they were mostly shunned from well-populated areas. At the time, the Europeans thought they might be scouts for an Ottoman invasion and shunned them. Thus began the Gypsy nomadic journeys of moving from place to place. These people were highly trained craftspeople but those in Europe wanted nothing to do with them at first.

The Gypsy way of life was not so different as modern-day people who choose togypsygirl retire and live in a motor home, other than their beliefs and culture. Gypsies were musicians, fortune tellers, healers and skilled at household repairs, circus acts and spreading gossip from one town to the next. They were good with animals and before the onset of Veterinarians were highly sought after for animal care and healing. Grudgingly the European people accepted the Gypsies and hired them to work on farms and do other itinerant jobs. However, as Christians, the Europeans did not allow the fortune telling, even though is was part of the Gypsy religion and highly sought after within their own people.

vardoAs the Travelers roamed Europe in family caravans, they became used to the way of life. They parked their wagons (called a Vardo) outside of towns and cities. Also because of distrust, acceptance and even death, the Gypsy people had no respect for the Gaji (anyone other than a Gypsy) and stayed away from them, other than to do the jobs they were hired for.

There was (and still is) an interesting hierarchy in the clans. From 10 to two hundred families would band together and choose a kumpania to rule the tribe. This elected official was a lifetime commitment. There were many other breakdowns of the governing body but too many to write about here.

Romani, the name most used for Gypsies, had very different rules than the Gaji oldgypsywomanand they didn’t even try to fit in. For instance, they did not believe in sending their children to school and taught them within the family unit. The most popular way was to teach the children the songs and poems that had been written and passed down through the ages about their ancestors. Adults taught their offspring by doing rather than studying. This was the only accepted form of learning for the youngsters.

Marriages were only within the Gypsy culture and were arranged by the elder in the family. These marriages could begin as early as ten or twelve years old. The entire family stayed together as a unit and the young took care of the old. One of the reasons these people were shunned from mainstream society was their language, which was close to Sanskrit and had many different dialects.

Note: In my book Inzared is a white mountain girl who marries a Gypsy but since his parents were deceased and he was on his own it was acceptable (although still frowned upon) by his clan.  It took a long time for the clan to even accept Inzared because she was Gaji, but because she was a hardworking girl and learned quickly  she soon found herself riding the elephant in the circus.

Travelers had their own religion, even though it was thought they were pagan. They believed in a higher being and heaven and hell.

Because of such a long saga of persecution and misunderstanding Gypsies are still a country unto themselves, with their dark skin, unusual customs and language. Like their forbears, most still choose to travel although there are some who have actually settled in one place. Some have become con artists and they are the people who give Gypsies a bad name and make people afraid of them. This is not the norm. Most of these people are generous and caring, doing good work and are fair and honest.

orbI hope this will help you understand this interesting culture a bit. While I chose to go with Romanians who were skilled in the circus trade, as you can see there were many clans. Both men and women were involved in the circus, from creating costumes, fortune telling at shows, working with the animal acts, cooking for the troupe and making their own repairs. Many of the women were acts in the circus as were men. They were exacting about their craft, spending many long hours practicing and teaching their children the trade.

During World War II the Nazis persecuted the Romani people. They were hauled off to concentration camps or shot on sight. After the war in some countries Gypsy women were sterilized from 1973 to 1989 to “control the birth rate in the Romani culture”. In 2008 two Gypsy children drowned at a beach in Italy where beachgoers heard their screams for help and ignored them. In 2010 France began to demolish Romani camps and repatriate them to their country of origin. There has been much persecution in Europe even to this day of an unwanted, misunderstood people.

I was very fortunate to be in contact with museums in the US, Germany and Poland who were more than happy to help as I researched my books. If you’d like to find out more, here are a couple of links you may be interested in.

National Geographic: Roman Culture and Traditions

The Romani People:

And a just-for-fun flashback:


Books by L.Leander:

Inzared Queen of the Elephant Riders Video Trailer

Inzared, Queen of the Elephant Riders

INZARED Book Cover_1







Inzared, The Fortune Teller Video Trailer

Inzared, The Fortune Teller (Book Two)








13 Extreme Tips to Self Publishing








13 Extreme Tips to Marketing an ebook







You can also find L.Leander here:

L.Leander Website

Amazon Author Page

Facebook Author Page

L.Leander Books Blog

L.Leander’s Book Reviews and Interviews







Waiting for Midnight

Jennifer FlatenThis post by Jennifer Flaten

I can’t believe that by this time next week we will already be two days into the New Year. I feel like this year has flew by, although if you asked my kids I am sure that they would insist that the year crawled by, especially those last few days before Christmas. I am sure that they would also tell you that it is taking forever to get to the New Year.

Now that Christmas is over they are already planning their New Year’s Eve party. Notice I said their party. We let the kids have their own little party, although last year was the first time we let them stay up all the way til Midnight.

It isn’t that they didn’t try to stay up until Midnight in prior years, but they usually fell asleep long before the ball dropped, which was totally okay with me. Last year, they insisted they would stay awake and they did. Meanwhile, I was fighting to stay awake to celebrate the New Year.


Confetti, Times Square
Confetti, Times Square (Photo credit: StuartMoreton)


For their party the kids used their own money to buy glow sticks, party hats and horns. I provide the popcorn, juice and stack of DVDs.

They camped out in my son’s room, which just happens to be the warmest room in the house. The girls brought their blankets and pillows into his room and they watched movies, ate popcorn and generally giggled all the way until Midnight. I checked on them every so often, each time they assured me they were wide-awake and having fun.

We called them out into the living room to watch the countdown. We then toasted with sparkling grape juice and then everyone went to bed.

What do you do for New Year’s Eve?

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Keep it Traditional

Jennifer FlatenThis post by Jennifer Flaten

Happy Thanksgiving!

I hope everyone is with their loved ones sharing a great meal. Family traditions and recipes are an integral part of Thanksgiving. Now, I would love to say I use some super-secret, handed down from generation’s pumpkin pie recipe but I use the one from the back of the pumpkin can.

Pumpkin pie, from
Pumpkin pie, from Scrumptious and good for you! Pumpkin pie is loaded with a healthful phytonutrient called beta-carotene. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

What can I say? It is guaranteed to turn out and everyone loves it. See, now that can be a problem with traditions. Everyone loves something…wants to see that exact something at every holiday. Sometimes the baker, that’s me in this case, gets wild ideas from the cookbooks or newspaper and makes something different.

Like the year, I made an Mayan pecan pie. It is a regular pecan pie with a little bit of chocolate and ancho chili powder in it. I loved it. Thought it was fantastic. My pecan pie eater? Not so much. The next year I had a request to stick with the traditional pecan pie.

I admit I was a little miffed. I thought it would be fun to change it up a little bit. Apparently, it is not. Not at the holidays. Lesson learned. The holidays are about making it the exact way that you’ve made it all the other holidays. Hence, my back of the can pie recipe.

Besides just think of all the experimenting I get to do with alllll that leftover turkey.

What traditions do you have?

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