Susan Spess Shay

Still playing make believe.


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Zip Lining Books

Susan Shay:

Linda Trout, one of my long time writer friends, wrote about a dear friend of ours. I couldn’t help but share it. Here’s one talented writer writing about another.
Enjoy!

Originally posted on Ltrout's Blog:

As a writer, do you zip books out practically in your sleep? Or do you struggle for each and every word in your story?
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Regardless of impressions to the contrary, I think most of us fall into the latter category, big name authors included.

As writers we’re all at different aspects of our writing careers; no matter whether you’re multi-published by the traditional publishers, or self-published, or you’ve gone between those two extremes and published with a small press.

We all started at the same place…with a desire to see our written words in print.

In addition, everyone single one of us have to overcome obstacles in order to see our works-in-progress completed. A dear, dear friend is one of those who struggles to even get a few words written each day, depending on how her health is that day.

Writing – the essence of creating something unique, of telling…

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Fried Chicken 4th

It’s nearly Independence Day, already! They’re even doing 4th of July weather reports, so we know it’ll be here in a matter of days. How’d that happen?

That means it’s time to buy a few chickens and haul out the cast iron skillets. Why? you ask. Because, in the Shay household, 4th of July means FRIED CHICKEN!

mom's chicken pan

(Hooray!!!)

I put flour, salt, pepper and a little garlic powder in a bag (paper or plastic) and shake my chicken up in it (a few pieces at a time) then fry the pieces in canola oil. With the heat on about medium, I cook the chicken with a lid on for a few minutes on each side, then take the lid off and turn the heat up a little to give the chicken a good color and great crunch. I’m not the best chicken fryer in the world (can’t be, since I only practice my magic one time a year) but nobody complains while they’re chowing down. LOL.

I’m not sure when it started, but sometime in the distant past, I started frying chicken one day a year. Only on the 4th of July. One of the first Fried Chicken Fourths I remember, the kids were all fairly small. (grade school/middle school age.) I fried up a few chickens and we loaded up and went to Oklahoma City. We found Thunderbird Park, which had old military equipment (tanks, jeeps, helicopters, planes) for the kids to play on, and some picnic tables, and had our lunch.

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There was a military museum nearby, the 45th Infantry Museum, and since our family never saw a museum we didn’t love–at least that’s what our kids thought– we had to check it out!

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Since G-Man’s dad was in WWII, our boys had a great time.

okc imagesYW0MT0Z9This is not a picture of Gary’s dad. LOL.

Finally, after our fried chicken and a stroll through history lesson, we all went to the Oklahoma City Zoo and Botanical Garden.

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Since we had three little boys in tow, you can probably guess how much time we spent in the Botanical Gardens. LOL. But we had a great time at the zoo. Especially when we found the Tiger Cage. (C-Town and Pryor Creek Tigers! Yay!!!)

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I have some great memories tangled up with our fried chicken. Times when Mom and Dad came up for chicken, and afterward we parked on the Salina Bridge to see the fireworks, and times when we took our Party Barge out on the lake for tubing and chicken. I’m SO looking forward to grandchildren and the fun time we’ll have with them eating my fried chicken on the 4th! (And possibly any time they want it.)

Loving the Fried Chicken 4th!

Do you have any traditions you practice on the 4th that you can share? We might want to add them to our chicken. :D

 

 

 

 


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The Excitement Builds

I did the coolest thing this week. Really, the COOLEST!

I met my new (first) grandson, Woody. And I had so! much! fun!

We all met at the hospital where #1 Son and #1 DIL will be delivering. #1 DIL’s mom and dad as well as her Doctor Sister were there. They’re such interesting people, I was very entertained while we waited. And waited.

And finally, we got to go into the room with all the equipment. It’s been a long time since I had babies, and in those days, it was unusual to have an ultrasound. They were available, but most people only had one if there was the possibility of a problem. Or if your doc owned his own machine, and he needed to pay for it. *grin*

But these days, they’re regular as clockwork.

There were two chairs in the room, and since I have a play hip, I was offered one, but I turned it down. I couldn’t sit. I was too excited! Meeting my grandbaby here! :D

I’m sure everybody has been through one of these. I’ve even been through one, but this was the first one I’d been part of where we were looking for something as fantastic as a baby. And guess what?

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Here’s Woody!

Isn’t he adorable? Okay, it reminds me of an x-ray, but he’s on his way! He weighs about 12 ounces right now and is about the length of a banana.

The technician couldn’t get his profile, because he kept looking at the camera. (The boy is just like his daddy! Never wants to miss a thing.)

While we were there, I couldn’t help remembering, “For you created my inmost being; you knit me together in my mother’s womb. I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made . . . My frame was not hidden from you when I was made in the secret place, when I was woven . . .

And the best part: Your eyes saw my unformed body;” Psalm 139. Our eyes saw him, too! :)

Of course, “How precious are your thought about my grandbaby, oh Lord! How vast the sum of them! You love him even more than all his parents and grandparents combined.” ;)

Naturally, I came right home and knitted hard. I’m making him a giraffe.

capThe beginning stages.

melonWhere I am now. (Looks kind of like a squash, gone wild.)

giraffe

 This is the picture in the book. Hopefully, it’ll be ready by the time he’s ready to play with it. LOL.

When I got to the stuffing part, I thought, “Oh, those plastic beads might weigh too much for the little guy.” So I stuffed without beads, but it looked as if I was going to make a misshapen Big Bird instead of a giraffe, so I unstuffed and added plastic beads.

Did you know plastic beads can make their way out through knitting, no matter how tightly knit it is? Okay, I’m not that tight a knitter, but they kept falling out. So I shoved a plastic bag in there and filled it with the beads. The stuffing is on top, and he’d have to work really hard to get to the bag, so I don’t think it’ll hurt him. Or the giraffe.

BTW: When we went for the ultrasound, both #1 son and DIL were wearing converse tennis shoes. Next on my knitting list: Knitted baby high tops. Red ones. :)

3899764262_172334eabaThe boy has gotta have something to walk home from the hospital in! :)

We’ll see if I can get everything finished in time.

“And He took Woody in his arms, placed His hands on him and blessed him.” Mark 10:16–a grandmommy’s version.

Since I’m like the last one of my friends who has kiddos to get grandbabies, I need your advice. What did (do) you do to get ready for them? Knit? Quilt? Pray?

Please share!


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Father’s Day–a Great Way to Spend a Weekend!

Wasn’t this a great weekend?

On Friday, my critique group came to C-Town to have a yummy lunch (Dari Diner–oh, so good!) I love having them come to my stomping grounds. Fun!

Then Saturday, a couple of friends I’ve known all their lives (literally) got married. I borrowed this pic from their Facebook page.

10466893_10201967561261164_1336497916_nAren’t they adorable? I love it when people who should be together finally get together! Best wishes, Ronnie and Jana Kay!

Then my kiddos came out to celebrate Mother’s and Father’s Day. While we were getting ready for them, I found this

tiny-giftsI know it’s only a toadstool, but the bright color in the middle of those dead leaves grabbed me. Beautiful!

I warned the kids I wanted a family picture while they were here, so I took this picture of Minerva as a test shot.

Minerva's-tea-partyAlthough they weren’t thrilled to get to do it, I got several group pics. (I doubt I’ll get another one right away.)

This one is what I’ll probably finally have framed to hang over my fireplace.

fam-big-picAfter a little work with some Adobe help. ;)

But this one is my favorite. (It might end up over the fireplace.)

family-stairs

We had a wonderful dinner from Joseph’s in Drumright, Oklahoma. Then we played a game that had us all laughing so hard! I don’t remember the name of it, but DIL#1 and #2 got headaches from laughing so hard.

Not sure what that’s a sign of, but I think we need to play more games.

:)

Then on Sunday after church, we went to Deb’s (She’s the perfect hostess!) for chicken and noodles. One of Dad’s favorite meals.

Another-dollThis is Deb’s youngest granddaughter. She’s SO cute! (Love the way she says my name.)

Canaan-DollyThis is Melanie’s older daughter. Aren’t they adorable? This one sang me a song about being a scarecrow.

love-that-face!Don’t you love that face? (This was right after she yelled, BOO!)

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And here’s my final Father’s Day celebration of the year. Dad and Brother Jeffrey. Handsome dudes, aren’t they?

I gave Dad a card for Father’s Day. It says he could write a book about raising perfect children. LOL!

And then, I had to have a picture of them with Deb who’s so good to have us in her home.

dad,-deb-and-jeffDad, Deb and Jeffrey.

A dad is so important in a person’s life. Whether they’re biological fathers, steps, adopted or borrowed, everyone needs someone to teach them how to live life the right way.

My dad, Carol Spess, made it easy to understand how our Father in Heaven loves us unconditionally, because he loves his children that way. He says his dad taught him, so maybe it’s genetic. Or it could be a learned thing, passed from generation to generation.

For some people, it has to be learned by watching someone not so perfect and seeing what not to do. But where there’s a will . . .

A good parent (mother and/or father) is essential. And, luckily, I had both!

So, how did you celebrate your dad?

 


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I Love a Rainy . . . Anything

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Did you ever have a memory hit you so hard right out of the blue, you could practically smell it? That happened to me yesterday, when I was leaving Sister Debbie’s house.

The rain was pouring down, and since I LOVE, LOVE, LOVE the rain, I wandered out to my car without worrying about getting wet. Sister D lives in the house Grandmother built, which is right next door to the house we grew up in. (Sister Cindy lives in that house.)

It’s an old neighborhood (nearly as old as I am!) so the curbs aren’t the hump kind that you’d normally think of next to a street. They’re a scoopy kind, shaped a little like a lazy J. I imagine the scoopy curb was used so the water would run off the road and into the curb so it could all go to the big puddle at the end of the street. :)

Yesterday, when I went to my car, that scoopy curb was running full and childhood memories came flooding back.

When we were kids, Mama always bought us raincoats

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and rubber boots

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that fit over our shoes to wear to school. One year, the coat she bought me was exactly like the coat my friend’s mama bought for her. I thought we looked like pink butterflies in them, so I made up a song that we danced to about us butterflies. LOL. I ended it with us flying south for the winter. (I couldn’t let my pink butterflies just die, could I?)

Our front porch was a big one that looked like a stage, so we performed our song and dance for anyone in the neighborhood who wanted to come. The audience consisted of our parents. But hey! They liked it.

When it rained, we nearly always waded in the water. (What are rubber boots for, anyway?) Once, when my mom had given me a permanent (WHY she gave the kid with the curliest hair in town a perm, I have no idea) it was raining when we got out of school.

I usually walked home with one of my friends and her mom came by to pick her up and offered me a ride. “No thanks. I want to walk in the rain.” Her tattle-tale mom called my mom as soon as she got home to tell on me. :( My mom wasn’t happy, probably because her daughter wasn’t smart enough to come in out of the rain.

“I just wanted to try out my new raincoat. Why are you mad?”

“Because, you probably ruined your new perm!”

I’m not sure how she figured that, but I was in trouble for maybe five minutes.

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Another time, Sister Debbie and I walked in the rain from the downtown movie theater to Mrs. Shriner’s house for Piano Club. Right after that, Sister D and I came down with the measles, and Mom wasn’t happy with us.

“You probably made your measles worse by walking in the rain.” That didn’t stop her from reading “Tom Sawyer” to us while we were sick, though. (She’d been told measles make your eyes weak, so she wouldn’t let us read to ourselves while we were ill.)

I loved wading in the mud next to Grandmother’s house in the warm summer rain. (Yep, I got in trouble again.)

The strongest memory though is a summertime rainstorm, walking barefoot in the water, sluicing down the scoopy curb, as the water splashed over my ankles.

I don’t remember being too strict with my kids when it came to rain and puddles. (They might have other memories, though.)

So, rainy day memories?

 

 

 


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On the Hunt

Can you believe we’ve started the final month in the first half of 2014 already? Oy!

Fun stuff going on this week in my part of OkieLand. One of my faves was when #1 son came to visit last weekend, looking for toys from his Childhood for MY GRANDSON WHO’LL BE MAKING HIS APPEARANCE NEXT OCTOBER! *grins!* Tonka Truck and John Deere Tractor are the toys he was looking for. For some reason, though, we can’t find them. :(

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Surprised? I’m not. Since I don’t have perfect recall (some days it seems as if I have no recall at all) and we’ve moved twice since anyone has played with either toy . . .

tractorSigh.

I think we got the truck one year for Christmas. To be honest, I don’t remember exactly. (#1–you have permission to correct me if I’m wrong.) But, boy! I remember the day the John Deere came to live with us.

My Man was working 24-hour call at that time. Yes, he is a pharmacist–SWOSU!–but at that time he was working in the oilfield as a logging and perforating engineer. Anyhoo, he came in one evening about eight or nine o’clock, which would have been LATE for a person who worked in a 9-5 office, but he worked in the oilfield and often came home in the wee hours.

An open-hole logging crew is usually on site, waiting for the moment the rotary gets to total depth, and it seemed to me they NEVER reached TD during the daylight.

Danny and I were excited when Gary came home while Danny was still awake, and (bigger surprise!) he came in with a big bag in his hands, which he handed to Danny.

Danny opened the bag and wow! A big green tractor! And the tractor had a trailer. (If I remember right.)

Danny loved that tractor and played with it for hours on end, plowing the carpet, towing toy cars and hauling imaginary monsters. As our other boys came along and got big enough, they enjoyed it, too.

They had the most fun when there was a pile of dirt to work on. My boys loved to build roads, dig ponds and move mounds of dirt with their toys.

Confession: If I had time, I liked to get out and move a little dirt with them. :) Who cares if our jeans got a little (or a lot) dirty? We had fun!

What we didn’t know when Gary brought home that tractor was that in a few years, we would be moving to Pryor Creek. And when you live near PC, you often see entire families going to town in a trailer connected to a tractor. (Those Amish families have the best ideas!)

If we loaned you (or your kids) either toy, would you give it back? ;) Please, send it least by October. Seriously, if you happen onto one or the other at a garage sale, antique store or flea market, call me!

Talking about dirt piles, I remember a great big one next door to Marsha Hagberg’s house when we were kids that Debbie, Marsha and I (and probably the rest of the neighborhood kids) had so much fun on! We didn’t play with trucks so much, but there was a lot of make believe (my favorite game, ever) played there.

I’m not sure this kid ever saw a pile of dirt she did like.

Was a pile of dirt a magnet to you? Did you jump your bike over it, move it with your trucks, play “Lost in Darkest Africa,” or stay far, far away from it?

Terminally Curious is dying to know!

 


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Hop-Along!

Hop-Along!

But not Hop-Along Cassidy, as in the character created by Clarence E. Mulford and played by William Boyd who, btw, was reared in Tulsa. (Clears throat to indicate a big deal.) LOL.

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By Hop-Along, I mean I’m part of a Blog Hop (I added the along!) That means you read mine, then hop back to read Linda Trout’s blog (fantastic writer, in case you’re looking for something new to read) and if you get caught up in the whole “hoppy” thing, jump back to Jackie King’s blog. (I LOVE Jackie. In fact, I want to be her when I grow up.)

Since Linda tagged me, let me tell you about her.

Linda Trout is one of those people I just stand and stare at. (Mentally, that is. My mama taught me better than do really do that.) This woman rides a Harley (her own motorcycle, not just hanging on behind her husband like I used to do) is recently retired from a career in oil (she did all the things I hide from) visits Alaska periodically (yes! I want to go there!) and she Writes! Fantastic! Books!

And she’s GORGEOUS!

Linda Trout, Author

Linda Trout, Author

Be sure to check out her blog about what she writes. This Claremore girl (from Fort Gibson) is more than a little bit interesting! And her newest book, Last Hope, Alaska, will be out August 20th! Watch for it!

You really should check out her other books. They’re great! (I should know!)

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Question, question, questions–

So, Susan Spess Shay, What are you working on?

I’m working on the first story in a series set in Jordan Valley, Oklahoma, called UNSPEAKABLE.

The stories involve the Matthews family. They own a daycare called Gingerbread Giggles. (Mama Matthews’s first name is Ginger, thus the name.) The heroine of this story is Glory Matthews. Her sister is Star. When my hero, Eli Daniels, first meets them, he wonders if their mother was a hippy or just in love with the flag. And he wonders if their brother’s name is Stripes. It’s not. :D

Hm. So how does your work differ from every other book on the shelf in its genre?

  • It differs because I put Me in my books. Nobody else can do that. (Thank heaven!) They can only put themselves in.
  • I write with a little humor, so you know I don’t take myself or my characters too seriously.
  • Another thing that might be a little different is that I believe in the power of love. I think God created us to be attractive to the opposite sex, so yes, there is–um–sexual attraction in my book. (And having attended a Christian college, I know ministers and Men and Women of the Cloth experience it, too!) :)

WHY do you write what you write?

Do you really want to know? (Raises eyebrows with a questioning glance.) I haven’t always written Christian Women’s Fiction, which is what I’m calling my genre.  I used to write Romance. (If you’ve read any of my books, you know what I’m talking about.)

Then one November, I started to do Nanowrimo, which is when you write an entire 50,000 word manuscript in 30 days.

I was doing it. In fact, I’d figured it so I’d have the entire thing finished before Thanksgiving, and I was right on schedule. Then one day I woke up to get to work and it hit me–

“That’s not the kind of book I want to be remembered for.” I never did finish that book, but I did a lot of praying about it after that.

 Well, that’s . . . different. How does your writing process work?

Since I have a day job that I absolutely adore (I work for my daddy with my brother, sister, husband, son, a niece or two, several cousins and lots of friends) and since anything I write at night has to be rewritten, I get up AEAP (as early as possible) fix a pot of coffee and write. I love to wake up at 4:00 a.m. and get with it. I write as many days a week as I wake up in time to do it. (That’s most days.) I write a little longer on Saturdays.

From the beginning of the book: I usually start with a “What If” question.

For Make Me Howl, I thought, “What if werewolves weren’t just crazy monsters? What if it was a genetic thing, passed down from generation to generation? :) And what if my werewolf had a paternal twin sister? Werewolf girl would get the werewolf gene, twin would get the gene for straight hair. It all comes out in the wash.

For my werewolf book, I had to let my imagination go wild! (Pun intended.) Like all wolves, she’d have to go into heat. Right? That was fun to write! LOL. And there had to be a “blessing” to counteract the “curse”, so I gave werewolves affluence. The fun just goes on from there.

For my Jordan Valley series, I wanted to make it easy for me, so I used my hometown as a model. (Who can keep track of maps?) I enjoy humor, so I gave my main family a daycare center, and but none of the women who work there are married or have children.

My favorite ongoing characters are a pair of octogenarian twins who are total opposites. One is the sweetest thing since God created honey and the other is a cranky retired teacher who is only nice if there are kids around. They take in women and children who need help or who need to hide from an abusive husband/father.

Here’s the cranky retired teacher, telling about the time an abusive husband tracked down his wife and broke into their house.

♥ ♥ ♥

“That man just kept coming. He grabbed Sister and was shaking her so hard, I thought he was going to break her bones.” She folded her arms and sat back in the chair. “I had to conk him with Papa’s door stop to get him to quit.”

“You mean a little rubber thing you shove under a door stopped him?” How?

Mrs. Jackson closed her eyes and sighed. “Of course not. Papa was in World War One and he brought back a door stop, made out of iron, that looked like the Eiffel Tower. We used it a lot before we had air conditioning, to keep the door open so we’d have a draft. But with the cooler, we haven’t needed it so much anymore. It got kind of shoved behind the drape next to the door.

“He was yelling and shaking Sister, she was quoting scripture at him and I was slapping him, trying to get him to quit. He shoved my old body off toward the wall, and when he did, I struck my foot on the Tower. Well, he’d gone back to hurting my sister, so I just picked it up and conked him on the head.” The look of pride in her eyes was unmistakable.

He couldn’t blame her, either. “I’ll bet that slowed him down.”

“Yes, it did.” A small smile spread across her face. “Slowed him so much, he still wasn’t conscious when the ambulance got here to take him to the hospital.”

He tried to hide the amusement roiling inside him. “What did the police say?”

“Boyd Hubbard was the policeman that came. I tell you, if I’d known what an idiot he was going to grow into when I had him in first grade, I’d have flunked him for another year or two.” She rolled her eyes heavenward with an irritated sigh. “He told me I might have done real damage to the man. Said the man’s family could file a lawsuit against me. I told him to go back to the police station and look up the Make My Day Law. That jerk should have been glad I didn’t have a gun.”

“Do you remember what scripture Miss Charlotte quoted?”

Mrs. Jackson chuckled. “It’s a funny thing, preacher. The kids staying with us had trouble sleeping because they were scared of the dark, and who could blame them? So Charlotte had been reading the 16th Psalm to them for their bedtime story. When their daddy tracked them down and broke in, he grabbed her and she said all she could think was that eighth verse, ‘I keep my eyes always on the Lord. With Him at my right hand, I will not be shaken.’ When she got to that last part, she was yelling.”

♥ ♥ ♥

Thanks, Linda Trout, for tagging me for this hop. It’s been so much fun!

Now I’m tagging Natasha Hanova, a new friend I met at OWFI for the next hop on June 2nd.

NH_AuthorPhotoLargeNatasha is a YA Paranormal author, a SUPER organized and patient woman (I can attest!) and a chocoholic!

Her book, Edge of Truth, published by Sapphire Star Publishing, is turning a year old in June, so we can hop over there and help her celebrate!

EoT_Ebook_Final

 

 

 

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