Susan Spess Shay

Still playing make believe.


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We Missed ♥ Kevin ♥ but we saw Fort Hayes.

I mentioned that G-Man and I, #2 Son and DIL  went to South Dakota this summer, didn’t I? While we were there, we went to Fort Hayes. The movie wasn’t actually made where the “Fort” stands now, but they are the same buildings and furnishings! This is the room where the crazy guy in DANCES WITH WOLVES gave Kevin his orders.

002 We must have been a little late in the season because the rope maker was gone, but the man who makes pans was there and Nikki learned to make one.

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Nikki and the teacher.

027 Learning!

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Tada!

They had great displays.

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In case you’re wondering, this isn’t My Mother The Car. (Anyone remember that show?) I asked her and she didn’t answer.

Some I wanted to load up and take home with me.

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And we got into a little trouble.

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But Matt knew how to escape.

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He played us a little tune to celebrate!

016Player piano being played.

I really wanted to take this home!

I really wanted to take this bench home! So pretty! But they wouldn’t let it go. :(

I loved this wagon.

I loved this wagon, too, although I’m not sure what it was used for in the movie.  (Have you noticed? There wasn’t much I didn’t like.)

We had a great time at Fort Hayes! It would have been even better if Kevin Costner had shown up. I might have let him Dance with a Wolf. (Hey, Jazzy!)

 

 


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Happy Birthday, Matt!

Number Two Son, Matt, is having a birthday today.  I love this boy! He had the sweetest smile in the world when he was a kid

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and he’s got the same sweet smile today. (Okay, it was his wedding day, but the smile is still the same!)

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Happy birthday, Matt! Hope this next year is the best year of your life!!!


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First Day Vacay

When you think of your favorite vacation, where did you go?

G-Man and I don’t take a big vacation every year. (By “big” I mean where we go SOMEWHERE and stay gone for an entire week.) The last time we had a real vacation, we went to New Mexico and Arizona. LOVED IT!

This year, we went to South Dakota. Mount Rushmore. Deadwood. Bear Country. #2 Son and DIL went with us. (And yes, I came home with several ideas for new books.)

Drive By Shooting :)

Drive By Shooting :)

I snapped this pic on the way to SD. I absolutely loved that brick wall. (If I’d actually stepped outside the car, it could have been fantastic!)

Naturally, the first place we visited was the Presidents’ Heads Monument. (Yeah, some people call it Mount Rushmore, but you know me.)

Here are a few of the pics I took.

Matt and Nikki at the Okie post.

Matt and Nikki at the Okie post.

These two made the visit so much fun! They aren’t afraid of anything and have some great ideas. For instance, this next pic is Nikki, making George look as if she just squished his head.

Nikki fingers.

Nikki fingers.

Here Matt’s making her look as if she’s supporting the presidents.

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Here’s some more of my photo-stream from that day.

I used my long lens to get up close and personal with the guys.

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And here I’m checking for boogies in Abe’s nose. (None.)

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We got this picture when Matt stopped the car without being asked so we could grab the pic.

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Several more days and hundreds (literally) more pictures, so I’ll always be able to relive the vacay. I have a feeling this will be one of my all time favorites. (For now, anyway.)

Your fave?


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Pinner, Pinner, Chicken Dinner . . . ?

Are you a pinner? I am. In fact, I get just a little excited each time I see that pretty P inside the red circle.

I heard someone say once (a man, of course LOL) that Pinterest should be renamed “All the Things I Want to Buy.”

I don’t think that’s true, but I’m wondering . . . What do you think?

Let me explain my viewpoint–Pinterest is where I keep things I don’t want to lose. I know I have weird names for my boards, but I like them.

  • Autumn Love
  • Glee (my newest board)
  • Organize Me
  • I Wanna Make That
  • Recipes, too
  • Back of My Brain
  • Love it! Love it! Love it!
  • Rusty Love
  • That’s a Great Idea
  • I LOVE Chicken Salad
  • What Do You Know
  • Smile a While

And that’s not even all my boards. :D

I might never use everything I have pinned (saved) but it’s there if I ever want to go back to it.

9fe3f353742c9d7abb4d213ea1f65ce4Like this poster. I wanted to share it with a friend of mine, so I pinned it.

media_httpchzsomuchpu_eebjb-scaled5001Some of my pins just give me a chuckle.

b72520ef02be365723eba135f027100cOthers remind me of a gift idea for my friends.

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Things I like to look at and just might try to duplicate someday.

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And, okay yes, things I’d like to buy someday but I can’t find or I just can’t  afford today. (Hey, I don’t want to forget!)

Let me just tell you, Pinning is fun!

So do you Pin, or is this all just a waste of time and Covetousness Central?

If you’re a Pinner, what’s your latest find?

 

 

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Linda’s HOPE

Hey, y’all! I have a real treat for you. My good friend, Linda Trout’s new book, Last Hope Alaska, is being published today. (I’m so excited, I could SCREAM!!!) And guess what! As busy as she is (busier than a cranberry merchant taking inventory) she kindly agreed to an interview.

Linda Trout, Author

Linda Trout, Author (OWFI 2014)

My nephew, Grant Sparks, knew Linda before I did, and I think he’d agree she’s a true romantic at heart. Linda lives with her Real Life Hero and various dogs and cats in right here in northeastern Oklahoma. They own ten acres of semi-wooded land, where the “wild” keeps creeping forward at a pace faster than they can keep up with.

Getting lost in a good book is one of her favorite pastimes as well as riding alongside her hubby on their Harleys.

1- Thanks for taking the time to talk to us, Linda. Why don’t you tell us a little bit about yourself?

I’m a shy, quiet, unassuming woman (Susan: Shy? Quiet? Unassuming??? Clears throat. LOL) who loves to talk to anyone who’ll listen, visit Just About Anywhere, Alaska, and ride my motorcycle full bore down the open highway. Retired from the corporate world, I love spending days with my fur babies and my hubby, who pushes me to write faster.

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2- Are you a writer only or do you like to read, too? (I’ve said for years that all writers should learn to read at some point.)

I love to read! I like a variety of genres but tend to gravitate toward suspense. I love to experience the dangers the characters face without leaving the comfort of home. (I should have added on #1 that I’m a wuss. LOL)

3- Who are a few of your favorite authors? (No pressure here.)

That’s easy. You. :) Marilyn Pappano, Jodi Thomas, B.J. Daniels, Julia Quinn, Colleen Thompson, Lenora Worth, Gail Barrett, Beth Cornelison. I could go on but we don’t have enough time or space. LOL

4- When did you first start seriously writing?

When I turned 50 I gave myself permission to try. Sounds weird, but that’s what I had to do to get me going. I took classes on writing and eventually began attending conferences and workshops to learn the craft.

5- I know this sounds like almost the same question, but a lot of people dream about writing and never actually do it. When did you first think about wanting to write for publication?

I got serious about writing for publication after I joined a romance writers group. They showed me that I actually had something worthwhile to say.

6- Your new book is called Last Hope Alaska. Can you tell us a little about how you got the idea for that book.

LastHopeAlaska

My husband and I love to visit the state. On one trip I left him to hike the Chilkoot Trail and I came back home. On the way to the airport, the taxi driver asked me where I was from with that accent. Right then and there, Last Hope Alaska was conceived. That’s also why my hero drives a taxi part time. I had to be true to the roots of the story.

Okay, when I tell that story, I’m going to say he was a really HOT taxi driver, and if you hadn’t just seen your husband . . . . (Just to make it a little more interesting. *wink* )

7- How many times have you visited Alaska? And what do you like best there?

Oh, I’ve probably been there 8 times over the years, finding a new place to visit every time. I love the laid back lifestyle and the people. I think it takes a special type of person to live in the Last Frontier…to be able to put up with 6 months of almost constant daylight, followed by 6 months of almost total darkness. Not sure I could handle that.

8- What’s your favorite part of your new book?

Gee. Ask me something hard, why don’t you? LOL Besides the ending, I think my favorite part of the book is when they first meet, then he sees just how tough she really is. She doesn’t think of herself as a survivor, but proves she has what it takes.

9- What’s your best advice for someone who wants to be a writer?

I think my best advice is to sit down and write. It doesn’t matter what it looks like, just write. Then find a group of people who write the same genre as you. I know I wouldn’t be as far along in my writing if I hadn’t found a group of romance authors to help cheer me on. You need to associate with others who also have multiple characters living in their heads. Also, like I said in question #4, learn the craft before you throw yourself out there unprepared. The wolves will eat you alive. Seriously. It isn’t pretty.

Supportive writers at OWFI

Some of Linda’s support group at OWFI. (And some of the people Linda supports.)

10- Can you share a little of the book with us? (Because, yes, that’s why you are here. Right?)

I’d love to share some of my book with you!

Excerpt from Last Hope Alaska

“Hey, this looks great.” The screen door slammed behind Sam. “Molly’s sure getting her money’s worth.”

Emily turned toward him and burst out laughing. “What in the world happened to you?” He was covered in so much dirt he looked as if he’d been rolling downhill all morning.

“Being used as slave labor. Remind me to never agree to help that woman again.” He slapped at his pants legs, sending dust flying everywhere.

“Hey! Stop that! I just swept the floor.”

“You don’t look so clean yourself, sugar.” He closed the space between them and began flipping cobwebs out of her hair.

“Sam…” His intimate touch turned her legs to jelly. Then he reached up to wipe dirt from her nose, right before he gripped her chin and raised her face to his. He lowered his gaze to her lips. Cotton balls formed in her mouth. She licked her lips. Her eyelids drifted closed.

“What’s keeping you?” Molly called from outside the back door, breaking the spell.

*  *  *

Thank you for having me on Small Town World, Susan. I’ve really enjoyed being here!

Linda, I love you (and your books) more than my shoes! I loved having you here in my World. (BTW–You almost let the truth about who inhabits my Small Town World slip out when you were talking about characters living in your head. Gotta be careful.) :D

Seriously, guys, check out Linda’s new book. I think you’ll enjoy as much as I did! 

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Links:

Click here to find Linda’s book at The Wild Rose Press

Click here to go to Last Hope Alaska on Amazon.

And if you’re a Kindle Fan (like me!) click here to download the digital version of LHA.

BTW: This is the link to Linda’s website. Drop by there and say hi.  

And Linda’s having a party on Facebook Friday night. This is your invitation! (Tell her you came with me. You’ll get special treatment. :) And she’ll love me.

Ps: I got up early this morning and bought my copy. Go there from here and get yours!   :)

 


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Sunday Giggling

The best thing happened to me after church yesterday. My dad gave me a watermelon at church. (No, it wasn’t a bribe to get me to go to church. I really love going! Honest!!!)

After that, I went to the grocery store and bought several bags of groceries.

So when I pulled into my driveway, I called G-Man and asked him to carry in the melon for me. After we disconnected, I stuck the phone in my shirt and started loading up bags of munchies.

In a few moments, I started hearing the most delightful voices. They were happy, chipper, sweet and full of giggles and laughter.

At first I thought I’d hit some cartoon video on my phone. But I kept hearing the same words again and again–“Hello? Aunt SueSue?” And lots of giggling.

Finally, I got where I could put down my packages and pulled out my phone. I’d accidentally FaceTimed my niece Ashley and her oldest daughter answered the phone.

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This is one of the gigglers, Ashley’s middle daughter. She’s a doll!

Okay, I FaceTimed, for them it was more of a  . . . well . . . chest time. Oy!

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When I pulled out my phone, the girls all were still giggling and having a great time, so maybe they weren’t too traumatized by the experience.

ashley's daughter

Ashley’s oldest giggling daughter a few years ago at Thanksgiving.

The funny thing is, they couldn’t hear what I was saying, but I could hear them perfectly. I just hope they could read my lips when I said, “I love you, too!”

10400038_10203801718075639_4906752814064437375_nAshley and her youngest giggler.

So if you couldn’t read my lips, I do, too, guys!


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Have You Met Anne?

This is from Anne Lamott’s Facebook page. She doesn’t know me. Doesn’t know I’m sharing it here. I’ve enjoyed and benefitted from her work for many, many years. From the time I first started writing seriously and was told to read her book, Bird by Bird. She’s a true blessing.

I don’t personally suffer from depression, but I know and love people who do. There’s no shame in it. My heart breaks to think people in my life don’t know how much they’re loved, cherished and needed, because they are.

So I’m sharing what Anne has to say, because she knows something we all need to hear.

Thank you, Anne, for caring.

This will not be well written or contain any answers or be very charming. I won’t be able to proof read it It is about times like today when the abyss is visible and we cannot buy cute area rugs at IKEA to truck out the abyss. Our brother Robin fell into it yesterday. We are all staring at the abyss today.

I called my Jesuit friend the day after the shootings in Newtown, stunned, flat, fixated, scared to death: “Is there any meaning in the deaths of twenty 5 and 6 year old children?”

Tom said, “Not yet.”

And there is no meaning in Robin’s death, except as it sheds light on our common humanity, as his life did. But I’ve learned that there can be meaning without things making sense.

Here is what is true: a third of the people you adore and admire in the world and in your families have severe mental illness and/or addiction. I sure do. I have both. And you still love me. You help hold me up. I try to help hold you up. Half of the people I love most have both; and so do most of the artists who have changed and redeemed me, given me life. Most of us are still here, healing slowly and imperfectly. Some days are way too long.

And I hate that, I want to say. I would much prefer that God have a magic wand, and not just a raggedy love army of helpers. Mr. Roger’s mother told him when he was a boy, and a tragedy was unfolding that seemed to defy meaning, “Look to the helpers.” That is the secret of life, for Robin’s family, for you and me.

I knew that those children at Sandy Hook were caught in God’s loving maternal arms at the second each crossed over, and the teachers were, too. I believe the shooter was too, another child of God with severe mental illness, because God loves, period. But this is controversial.

I know Robin was caught too, in both the arms of God, and of his mother, Laurie.

I knew them both when I was coming up, in Tiburon. He lived three blocks away on Paradise drive. His family had money; ours didn’t. But we were in the same boat–scared, shy, with terrible self esteem and grandiosity. If you have a genetic predisposition towards mental problems and addiction, as Robin and I did, life here feels like you were just left off here one day, with no instruction manual, and no idea of what you were supposed to do; how to fit in; how to find a day’s relief from the anxiety, how to keep your beloved alive; how to stay one step ahead of abyss.

We all thought after Newtown that gun control legislation would be passed, but no–not one new law. We think in the aftermath of Robin’s death that there will be consciousness raising about mental health, but I doubt it. The shock and awe will pass, like it did after Phillip Seymour Hoffman’s death. Unless…unless we take action. But what? I don’t have a clue. Well, here’s Glenn Close’s astonishing organization to raise awareness and diminish the stigma of mental illness, where you can give OR receive help: http://www.bringchange2mind.org. Go there, OK?

In Newtown, as in all barbarity and suffering, in Robin’s death, on Mount Sinjar, in the Ebola towns, the streets of India’s ghettos, and our own, we see Christ crucified. I don’t mean that in a nice, Christian-y way. I mean that in the most ultimate human and existential way. The temptation is to say, as cute little believers sometimes do, Oh it will all make sense someday. The thing is, it may not. We still sit with scared, dying people; we get the thirsty drinks of water.

This was at theologian Fred Buechner blog today: “It is absolutely crucial, therefore, to keep in constant touch with what is going on in your own life’s story and to pay close attention to what is going on in the stories of others’ lives. If God is present anywhere, it is in those stories that God is present. If God is not present in those stories, then they are scarcely worth telling.”

Live stories worth telling! Stop hitting the snooze button. Try not to squander your life on meaningless, multi-tasking bullshit. I would shake you and me but Robin is shaking us now.

Get help. I did. Be a resurrection story, in the wild non-denominational sense. I am.

If you need to stop drinking or drugging, I can tell you this: you will be surrounded by arms of love like you have never, not once, imagined. This help will be available twenty/seven. Can you imagine that in this dark scary screwed up world, that I can promise you this? That we will never be closed, if you need us?

Gravity yanks us down, even a man as stunning in every way as Robin. We need a lot of help getting back up. And even with our battered banged up tool boxes and aching backs, we can help others get up, even when for them to do so seems impossible or at least beyond imagining. Or if it can’t be done, we can sit with them on the ground, in the abyss, in solidarity. You know how I always say that laughter is carbonated holiness? Well, Robin was the ultimate proof of that, and bubbles are spirit made visible.

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