Skip to main content

Year of the Dog serial novel, chapter 22

I’m posting a Humorous Christian Romantic Suspense serial novel here on my blog! Year of the Dog is a (second) prequel to my Warubozu Spa Chronicles series. Year of the Dog serial novel by Camy Tang Mari Mutou, a professional dog trainer, is having a bad year. While renovating her new dog kenneling and training facility, she needs to move in with her disapproving family, who have always made her feel inadequate—according to them, a job requiring her to be covered in dog hair and slobber is an embarrassment to the family. She convinces her ex-boyfriend to take her dog for a few months … but discovers that his brother is the irate security expert whose car she accidentally rear-ended a few weeks earlier. Ashwin Keitou has enough problems. His aunt has just shown up on his doorstep, expecting to move in with him, and he can’t say no because he owes her everything—after his mother walked out on them, Auntie Nell took in Ashwin and his brother and raised them in a loving Chri

The 12 Authors of Christmas – Susan May Warren

Captain's Log, Supplemental

Continuing the 12 Authors of Christmas, here’s author Susan May Warren!

View the tour, including Rachel Hauck and Tricia Goyer’s authors, here.

About Susan:

Susan May Warren is the best-selling author of more than 20 novels and novellas with Tyndale, Barbour and Steeple Hill. A three time Christy award finalist, and three time winner of the Inspirational Readers Choice contest, Susan currently has over 500,000 books in print. A seasoned women’s events speaker and writing teacher, she’s taught at the American Christian Fiction Writer’s conference for the past three years, and she runs a fiction editing service ( training writers how to tell a great story. After serving for eight years with her husband and four children as missionaries in Khabarovsk, Far East Russia she now writes full-time while her husband runs a hotel on Lake Superior in northern Minnesota. Her most recent book is Chill Out, Josey! The hilarious adventures of a Minnesota girl who finds herself newly married, and pregnant…in Russia! (not autobiographical, or anything…) For more information, go to

Tell us about your first Christmas memory.

I was about six, and the stockings were hung over our chimney, and my father had built a cozy fire for Christmas eve. We’d done our obligatory puzzle (Santa always put in the last piece!) and had laid out the cookies for ole St. Nick, and in theory, we were supposed to go to bed. BUT, you see, the FIRE was still blazing! What if it didn’t go out by the time Santa passed by overhead? You can see my concern, and hence, the fit I threw, pleading with my father to put out the fire was entirely justified.

I still consider it the year I saved Santa’s life.

Growing up, did your family have Christmas traditions? Tell us how you incorporated them into your family life. Or, how you created new ones.

Living in Siberia, without extended family, we had to work hard to create traditions for our family. I took every scrap of family tradition we had an ramped it up to full setting – from decorating Christmas cookies on Christmas eve, to importing canned clams to make the request clam chowder soup, to refining the family recipes to fit Russian ingredients (and even creating a Warren family Christmas cookbook). I found the perfect puzzle and carted it with me around the world (see previous story!), and even made homemade stockings for the children with their names on them. The only new tradition I created was the annual “open one gift” the night before (because it was SO painful to wait until morning!). The thing is – mom picks the present, and it’s always the same thing – Jammies! (Although I always pretend it won’t be, and the kids appropriate pretend to be surprised!) Hey, jammies can be suprising, right?

When do you put up your tree? Describe the decorating at your house.

Oh, how I longed for a tree in Russia (as evidence to all my Josey books, where Josey longs for a tree!) But Russians don’t celebrate Christmas on the 25th of Dec. (in fact, some don’t celebrate it at all). They do, however, celebrate New Year’s Eve with decorated trees, so my hubby would scour the markets and snap up the first tree he could find, using bringing home a Charlie Brown variety (because they also don’t have Christmas tree farms), on or about Christmas eve. Since moving back home, we’ve deicded to take advantage of having trees, and we put our tree up the first Sunday in December. But we still opt for the Charlie Brown variety – we live in 5 acres of wooded forest, and every year we tromp out in the snow and have a family wrestling match to see what tree we’ll pick. We call Sarah the Tree Police because she has final approval. Then we haul it in, and chop it down to size (this year it is 15 feet tall) and string lights. I give the children an ornament every year for Christmas, and I have an extensive collection of Christmas angels, and we listen to carols, eat Borscht (Russian soup) and then decorate the tree. There may or may not be a glass of my husband’s homemade raspberry wine involved in that process also, depending on the aforementioned wrestling match/argument about the tree and its worthiness. Mom can only take so much fun.

What is your favorite Christmas song or album? (Feel free here to talk about choirs or other musical things you participate in during Christmas.)

Hmm...can I name a book? Because it’s hard to pick a favorite song, but for years I read “The Worst Christmas Pageant ever” to my kids. And then they got to perform it in the local playhouse. Now, we’ve moved onto Dave Barry’s, The Shepherd, the Angel and Walter the Christmas Miracle Dog. Hilarious!

Relive your childhood Christmas mornings for us.

I’m up early, and I get to unload my stocking without mom or dad. Then we stare at the clock until 7am, willing it to move faster, until finally, finally it dongs the hour, and then we assault our parents with tidings of great joy. They stumble out of bed and do agonizingly unimportant things like make coffee and brush their teeth. And then we open gifts. It takes a long time because we pass them out, one at a time, in a circle, and give the appropriate reverence for each gift. About three hours later, when hunger is starting to kick in, we eat cinnamon rolls, egg casserole and those cute little smoky sausages.

And then we take a nap with all our loot while mom cooks the turkey.

Let’s see, that’s what I did last year. Now, something from my childhood?

Tell us about your Christmas setting--do you have a white Christmas?

Northern Minnesota. ‘Nuf said.

It's Christmas Eve… Describe your day and evening.

We have the same meal every year – Clam Chowder soup, homemade rolls, meats and cheeses, with decorated Christmas cookies. I usually make the cookies in advance, and the kids decorate them while I finish up with the soup. Then, we lay the table, (but don’t eat yet) and dress up for Christmas eve service. Then, we go out for the early service, and return in time to have hot wassail (or a variation thereof) and eat soup. Then we pass out the first presents (see story above) and, wearing said first presents, we open up the card table and do a puzzle. Now that we are stateside, I get a new puzzle every year - - usually about 750-1000 pieces. The goal is to finish it before bedtime (leaving one piece out for Santa). In years past, the kids would go to bed, and then Drew and I would stay up until roughly 3am, wrapping and assembling. Now, I’ve wizened up. I wrap all my presents BEFORE Christmas eve. (then again, I no longer have to hide them to keep my boys from unwrapping them early!) We fill the stockings, I put the casserole into the oven on time bake, and we drop into bed.

Confession time. Shop on line or at the mall?

Both! I do all my big shopping online (because I hate crowds when I’m on a mission) but all my incidentals at the Mall. I need to add here that I am 3 hours from the nearest mall, and I do all my Mall shopping at Thanksgiving in Iowa while visiting my in-laws. It’s one day of eating, two days of shopping. I think that’s a good balance for anyone.

Christmas grows more and more commercial every year. Setting the hustle and bustle aside, what does Christmas really mean to you?

I recently watched the Nativity movie. And as the star shone down on Bethlehem, chills went through me, as if it was hitting me anew. The fact that God would come down in the form of a helpless baby, for the purpose of dying for our sins so we could be forgiven and join him in heaven…that takes my breath away. Frankly, I think it takes everyone’s breath away, and our minds are so unable to comprehend it, that we take our eyes off the truth, looking at it through our peripheral, distracting ourselves with presents and food and festivities. Yes, we’re celebrating.

But somehow, I think that we should be on our faces, weeping. I think someday we will be.

It's Christmas day… what's for dinner? Do you make cookies or other traditional foods?

Turkey! Thyme Stuffing, corn pudding, sweet potato pie (from our stint in the south!), broccoli and cheese, crescent rolls, mashed potatoes, gravy, green bean casserole (not the usual one), cream cheese jello salad (because I’m Minnesotan), wild rice casserole (again, Minnesotan), cream cheese pie (Andrew’s favorite), and French silk pie (my favorite). Cookies: Sugar, Ginger Snaps, Peanut Butter kiss cookies.

Tell us about your favorite Christmas memory.

I’m a Minnesotan to the bone, and one of my favorite activities is sledding. My father would take us out on Christmas day, while my mom was cooking, and we’d head over to the “Big Hill.” These were the days when our suburb was largely undeveloped, and there was giant, steep hill in the woods behind our house. In the summertime, there was an old, rusty car that someone had pushed down the hill and abandoned, and it terrified me, haunted as it was with the memory of what might have happened in that car. (I had an overactive imagination even then). In the winter, laced with snow and ice, it was just a piece of junk that held now power to terrify. After all, with my daddy with me, it wasn’t going to come alive or anything (like it could in summer!)

We had a long toboggan, and me and my brother and my dad would climb on. My dad would sit behind us and wrap his legs around us. Our job was to hold his legs on, and usually I’d get his big sorrel boots that weighed fifty tons each. Then, he’d push off, and we’d barrel down the mountain of doom, screaming at the top of our lungs (okay, probably it was only me doing the screaming) the snow flying up into our eyes, our noses, stinging our cheeks. Usually we’d wipe out at the bottom, laughing, breathless, in a tangled mess of joy. After a couple hours of wild abandon, when we could no longer feel our toes or fingers, we’d trudge home to hot cocoa and succulent turkey.

I’m still a sledder at heart. Always waiting for that next exhilarating, icy, dangerous ride down the Big Hill.

What are your plans for this season?

Okay, you’ll think I’m crazy, but I love to write – especially when I don’t have a deadline! So, I have this idea for a Christmas story…

But, I’ll also cook, and make merry with my kids and go snowmobiling with my hubby (that’s sort of like sledding, you know.)

Any final thoughts on Christmas?

I have recently decided that Christmas is a mother’s diabolical weapon to ensure the return of her children when they grow into adults. The more significance and tradition I infuse into Christmas, the more I’ve hooked the hearts of my children. I now have them believing they can’t have Christmas without mom’s soup, my Christmas rolls, my special cookies.

And anyone who tells them otherwise is in very big trouble.

Whatever your traditions are, wherever you celebrate the greatest gift ever given, have a merry one ~ from Susan May Warren and the Warren family!

Camy here: Thanks for sharing, Susie!

If you haven’t met her, Susie is a wonderfully fun person (well, you can totally see that from her interview answers)!

Everything’s Coming Up Josey was a fun romp in Russia, and I’m looking forward to the sequel, Chill Out, Josey!


Ausjenny said…
Thanks so much for sharing. I love the puzzle idea. I always start one christmas day.
When we moved from the farm to the town we use to have a double chimney although the one in the lounge wasn't burning in summer (Christmas) the one in the Kitchen often did. and knowing how thin a chimney it was i use to wonder how santa could come also. Mum and Dad said he can come in the door. so every year we left the back door unlocked so he could come in.

Thanks so much for sharing your memories. I have loved reading everyones Christmas memories and traditions.
Elysa said…
Ooooh...I'm so glad that Josey is getting another chance to share a chapter in her life...or in this case, a whole 'nuther book! I really enjoyed her first adventure. I guess as a former single missionary, I could relate to many aspects of the story.

Keep up the great writing, Susan, and Camy,thanks for the interview! This is a fun idea.:)

Popular Posts

Bethany House Publishers Cover Survey Invitation

Captain's Log, Supplemental I just got this from Bethany House Publishers: Hello Reader, We at Bethany House Publishers appreciate our readers opinions about the books we publish. Occasionally, we seek your input about upcoming products. Currently, we are conducting a survey about the cover image for an upcoming novel. For your time, we are offering a giveaway in conjunction with this survey. You will be able to choose from ten recent Bethany House novels, and there will be ten winners. Winners will be notified within two weeks. Click here to take the survey, which should take about 10 minutes to complete. Thank you for your participation, and feel free to forward this email on to your friends or link the survey on your website. The survey will be available through Monday, September 17. Thanks for your time and your opinions. We value your feedback. Sincerely, Jim Hart Internet Marketing Manager Bethany House Publishers

Year of the Dog serial novel

About Year of the Dog : A month or two ago, I remembered an old manuscript I had completed but which hadn’t sold. It was a contemporary romance meant for Zondervan, titled Year of the Dog . The book had gone into the pipeline and I even got another title ( Bad Dog ) and a cover for it, but eventually my editor at the time decided she didn’t want to publish it, for various reasons. She instead requested a romantic suspense, and so I cannibalized some of the characters from Year of the Dog and thrust them into the next book I wrote, which was Protection for Hire . Honestly, I didn’t take a lot from Year of the Dog to put in Protection for Hire , aside from character names and a few relationship ties. I was originally thinking I’d post Year of the Dog as-is on my blog as a free read, but then it occurred to me that I could revamp it into a romantic suspense and change the setting to Hawaii. It would work out perfectly as (yet another) prequel to the Warubozu series and introduc

Grace Livingston Hill romances free to read online

I wanted to update my old post on Grace Livingston Hill romances because now there are tons more options for you to be able to read her books for free online! I’m a huge Grace Livingston Hill fan. Granted, not all her books resonate with me, but there are a few that I absolutely love, like The Enchanted Barn and Crimson Roses . And the best part is that she wrote over 100 books and I haven’t yet read them all! When I have time, I like to dive into a new GLH novel. I like the fact that most of them are romances, and I especially appreciate that they all have strong Christian themes. Occasionally the Christian content is a little heavy-handed for my taste, but it’s so interesting to see what the Christian faith was like in the early part of the 20th century. These books are often Cinderella-type stories or A Little Princess (Frances Hodgson Burnett) type stories, which I love. And the best part is that they’re all set in the early 1900s, so the time period is absolutely fasci

Clean & Christian Romance Book Sale

I’m participating in this promo. Click on the graphic to check out all the Christian suspense books available and stuff your eBook reader! Clean & Christian Romance Book Sale

Year of the Dog serial novel, chapter 22

I’m posting a Humorous Christian Romantic Suspense serial novel here on my blog! Year of the Dog is a (second) prequel to my Warubozu Spa Chronicles series. Year of the Dog serial novel by Camy Tang Mari Mutou, a professional dog trainer, is having a bad year. While renovating her new dog kenneling and training facility, she needs to move in with her disapproving family, who have always made her feel inadequate—according to them, a job requiring her to be covered in dog hair and slobber is an embarrassment to the family. She convinces her ex-boyfriend to take her dog for a few months … but discovers that his brother is the irate security expert whose car she accidentally rear-ended a few weeks earlier. Ashwin Keitou has enough problems. His aunt has just shown up on his doorstep, expecting to move in with him, and he can’t say no because he owes her everything—after his mother walked out on them, Auntie Nell took in Ashwin and his brother and raised them in a loving Chri

Cupid's Library Escape

Sign up for these authors’ newsletters and get free books! Click on the graphic to check out all the free books. You might find a new favorite author! Cupid's Library Escape

No Cold Bums toilet seat cover

Captain's Log, Stardate 08.22.2008 I actually wrote out my pattern! I was getting a lot of hits on my infamous toilet seat cover , and I wanted to make a new one with “improvements,” so I paid attention and wrote things down as I made the new one. This was originally based off the Potty Mouth toilet cover , but I altered it to fit over the seat instead of the lid. Yarn: any worsted weight yarn, about 120 yards (this is a really tight number, I used exactly 118 yards. My suggestion is to make sure you have about 130 yards.) I suggest using acrylic yarn because you’re going to be washing this often. Needle: I used US 8, but you can use whatever needle size is recommended by the yarn you’re using. Gauge: Not that important. Mine was 4 sts/1 inch in garter stitch. 6 buttons (I used some leftover shell buttons I had in my stash) tapestry needle Crochet hook (optional) Cover: Using a provisional cast on, cast on 12 stitches. Work in garter st until liner measures

Cover Reveals!

Here are the covers to my next books! Spinster will be the 7th volume in my Lady Wynwood’s Spies series. I don’t yet have a release date because I’m still writing it and it’s taking a bit longer than I had anticipated, but within the next few months, I’m pretty sure. This is the cover for Lissa and the Spy, a novella I’m writing that will be in Once Upon a Courtship , a multi-author box set releasing in October this year. You can preorder Once Upon a Courtship now for only 99 cents! And then click here for how you can get additional free Christian romance ebooks! When the box set is unpublished in January 2025, I’ll release Lissa and the Spy as a separate ebook. I’m thinking that I might make it only available to my newsletter subscribers, and if that’s the case, be sure to subscribe to my newsletter so you can download it for free. But that wouldn’t be until spring of next year. In the meantime, preorder Once Upon a Courtship!

A List of my Free Blog Reads

Curious about what my writing is like? Here’s a list of all my free books and the free short stories, novellas, and novels that you can read here on my blog. I’ll update this post as I add more free reads. Christian Humorous Romantic Suspense: Year of the Dog (Warubozu Spa Chronicles series, Prequel novel) (Currently being posted monthly on my blog as a serial novel) Marisol Mutou, a professional dog trainer, finally has a chance to buy a facility for her business, but her world is upended when she must move in with her disapproving family, who have always made her feel inadequate. When she stumbles upon a three-year-old missing persons case, security expert Ashwin Keitou, whose car she accidentally rear-ended a few weeks earlier, is tasked with protecting her. However, danger begins to circle around them from people who want the past to remain there. Can they shed light on the secrets moving in the shadows? Christian Romantic Suspense: Necessary Proof (Sonoma series #4.1, n

Cleo’s Drawstring Purse knitting pattern w/ @KnitPicks CotLin

Kari Trumbo is one of the twelve authors who participated with me in the Christian Contemporary Romance anthology, Save the Date . Kari’s novella in the anthology is titled January Hope . In celebration, I wrote a knitting pattern for the lace drawstring purse used by Kari’s heroine, Cleo. (In case you missed it, here are the links for my interview with Kari part 1 and part 2 . Tomorrow I’ll post an excerpt of one of Kari’s other books, Better Than First .) This is a pretty and practical little bag used by the heroine Cleo in Kari Trumbo’s novella, January Hope . Knit in a cotton/linen blend yarn, it’s just large enough for a cell phone and a small wallet. In the book, Cleo’s bag was a coral shade, but the bag I knit here is a chocolate brown color. The lace pattern is the Double Rose Leaf stitch pattern originally published on page 195 in The Lady's Assistant, volume 2 by Mrs. Jane Gaugain, published in 1847. ( You can download a scanned .pdf of the book from Archive.