Susan Spess Shay

Still playing make believe.

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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.

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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.

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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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♥ The Best ♥

I don’t know if it’s my sex, what my parents taught me or my age (we’re not going there!) but for some reason, it’s much easier to crow about a friends’ books than it is my own.

Like I mentioned yesterday, I have a couple of friends with books coming out in the very near future and I’m so excited, I’m dancing on my toes!

Today, I want to tell you about Marilyn Pappano.

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Yes, I really know this famous author (honest!) and she’s not only a fantastic writer, she’s nice. Oh,  and she’s a great friend! She has a series of books about people in the military (talk about writing what you know) and their loves. (Did I mention most of my friends write romance?)

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Marilyn gets the most beautiful covers! (Perfect for her books.) Here’s a little bit about this book from the page on Amazon–

A LOVE TO CALL HER OWN

It’s been two years since Jessy Lawrence lost her husband in Afghanistan, and she’s never fully recovered. Drowning her sorrows didn’t help, and neither did the job she’d hoped would give her a sense of purpose. Now trying to rebuild her life, she finds solace in her best friends, fellow military wives who understand what it’s like to love-and lose-a man in uniform . . . and the memory of one stolen night that makes her dream of a second chance at love.

Dalton Smith has known more than his fair share of grief. Since his wife’s death, he revels in the solitude of his cattle ranch. But try as he might, he can’t stop thinking about the stunning redhead and the reckless, passionate night they shared. He wasn’t ready before, but Dalton sees now that Jessy is the only woman who can mend his broken heart. So how will he convince her to take a chance on him?

We met Jessy in the first two books, and I really liked her. She was sassy, sexy and mouthy and standing on her own two feet when she really wanted to crumble in a heap and grieve. What’s not to like? :D

From my heart: I’ve read most of Marilyn’s books, and from the first one to the last, they’re beautiful. (There’s no other way to describe them.) A glimpse into the heart of a kind and loving woman.

Her books let us live (and relive) that emotional, conflicted, bumpy, exciting glide into love.

Maybe I can get Marilyn to come over and tell us a little about her new book. We’ll see. (She’s one busy woman!)

Since her book doesn’t come out until the 26th of this month, you can read the first two books in this series. (Although it’s not necessary since they’re all stand alone books.)

A Hero to Come Home To

A Man to Hold On To

In case you’re wondering, this isn’t a paid announcement. Marilyn doesn’t even know I’m writing it. She didn’t give me an ARC. (Advance Reading Copy.) I download my own copy of her books on my Kindle to keep forever. :)

Check Marilyn out. She’s the best!

 


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What If You Had Only One Last Hope?

 

I don’t know if it’s my sex, what my parents taught me or my age (we’re not going there!) but for some reason, it’s much easier to crow about a friends’ books than it is my own. So I’m going to do it!

I have two friends with books coming out this month! I’m so thrilled, I’m tap dancing on my rooftop.

The first one coming out is LAST HOPE ALASKA, by Linda Trout. In fact, I think it’s available now! (Woohoo!)

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Here’s a little about the book from Amazon–

Emily Redfern’s ex-fiancé learned to kill on the back streets of New York. Now, she is his target. Broke, exhausted, and a step ahead of the man she once loved, she clings to one last hope: the wilds of Alaska. The quiet safety of her hide-a-way becomes addictive as she grows to care for the man who offers her refuge.

Released from prison after a wrongful conviction, native Alaskan Sam Tarkington is determined to regain his business, repair his reputation, and rebuild his life. But when he meets a desperate and vulnerable woman, guarding secrets of her own, she tugs at his heart. She’s a distraction he can’t afford. Sam must choose Emily or achieving his dreams. Like Emily’s life, the peacefulness of the wilderness is an illusion as danger lurks in the distance.

Does Sam hold the key to her survival or will her past cost them everything?

Alaska is one of Linda’s favorite places to vacation, so her descriptions are bone chillingly accurate. (Yes, I’ve read most of this book. Linda’s one of my favorite critique partners.)

Linda Trout, Author

I’ve known Linda through two books, a novella and three writers’ groups. ;) She’s sincere, a wonderful friend and a hard working writer. I’m thrilled and excited about her book coming out. (Can you tell?)

BTW: This is a suspense, so you’ll be reading into the night because it’s a page turner. It’s worth every moment of sleep you miss. This book is great!

Linda is going to have a Book Release Party on Facebook 8/22/14 and I’m inviting YOU.   Pop over and tell her you’re coming.  Hey, tell her I invited you, please. (I’m making points.) :D

I’ll see if I can get Linda to answer a few questions about her book in the next few days.

Oh, you might want to know about her other books–

Grave Secrets (I was there from the first spark of an idea for this one.)

Romance–the Spice of Life (Hers is a novella called SHATTERED PROMISES.)

Linda’s a real sweetie. If you get the chance to meet her, give her a hug from me. She’s a doll!

 


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Blind Sight–

So I noticed this morning I haven’t told all y’all about my books. (Check up there under My Books. It’s changing!)

On July 24, I did a signing with my BIL Noel Nation, author of THE EDUCATION OF A TEACHER: LESSONS A SMALL TOWN TAUGHT A TEACHER  at the annual IEC meeting, and I noticed something.

My book, BLIND SIGHT, sells best of all my books, and I’m not sure why.

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I’ll let you read an excerpt. Maybe you can tell me why.

Back cover: Cassie Reynolds is channeling the dreams of a serial killer. But without the resources to stop him—if she’s able to discover who he is—how can she succeed? Only cynical Keegan Flynn, who believes in nothing and no one, has the tools needed to complete her gift. Will Cassie be able to make Keegan believe in time, or will Christmas this year be murder?

There are a couple of funny/weird things about this book.

WT #1–I wrote the manuscript, then set it aside while I started my next book. Then I decided to reread BS before sending it to my editor, and the antagonist surprised me! LOL.

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WT #2– When I was nearly finished writing Blind Sight, Marilyn Pappano (critique partner and fantastic author) handed me a book by Kay Hooper. I’d never heard of Kay, nor had I read any of her books. But the book was about a touch psychic (like my book) named Cassandra (My heroine’s name is Cassaundra) who gets tangled up with a serial killer (same in my book.) Really weird, huh?

But if you read her book and mine, you’ll see those are the only similarities. Kay is an over-the-top fantastic author!

Want to read a little bit?

“Oh, I can find my way around her. In my hands, this baby will be very happy.” Gingerly caressing the leather-covered steering wheel, he glanced at Cassie in the semi-darkness to see her mouth drop open. While he hadn’t intended to give the words a sexy spin, seeing her face after she took the phrase the wrong way—eyes at half-mast, cheeks pinking, and her glistening bottom lip caught between her teeth—made him wish he could do it again.

“That’s right. You owned a Volkswagen in college, didn’t you?” Her voice rasped slightly as she buckled her seatbelt, then leaned away from him to angle her back against the door. In a play of shadow and light, the simple red dress she wore made her body look perfect, touchable, kissable. When she finally turned her head to look at him, the heat in her gaze stole the air from his lungs.

Without breath, he couldn’t speak or think, so he nodded. It didn’t matter what she’d asked. Whatever it was, he’d do it. Or find it. Or climb it. Or build it. For the woman gazing at him with eyes that could heat his very marrow, he’d do anything at all. Even take on a monster, if need be.

 

Hm. I might have to go back and read this book again. ;)

 

 


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Jazzy’s Pinned!

Do you Pin? I do. I have a sister who is a Master Pinner, so I’ve learned a lot from her.

So guess what I found today.

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Jazzy in the flesh! :)

I don’t know if you’ve read MAKE ME HOWL, but it’s not your run-of-the-mill werewolf book. (No way.)

I’ll let you read a little and see what I’m talking about . . .

Bella’s mouth dropped open and her eyes grew wide with horror as she looked around. “Doc’s coming back and Norman’s with him. You’d better go primal. Quick.”

As if it was that easy. I couldn’t just wiggle my nose like some TV witch—I had to allow myself to release. And after a lifetime of learning control, that wasn’t easy.

I took a moment to settle myself, to find my center. Arranging my hair so I was well covered, I got to my knees then sat on my heels. “You know, last night, when you and Doc abandoned me, Norman became a huge pest. He kept at me, wanting me to dance with him.”

Bella’s “Um,” irritated me. Annoyance tingled my exposed skin, running along my collarbone and down the insides of my arms.

“He wouldn’t leave me alone. It was so gross.” I straightened as angry lightning strikes marched down my back.

“Then he insisted I finish my drink because he wanted to buy me another. Bella, I thought I was going to have to decapitate him to get him to leave me alone. I decided to just take off and let you find another way home. But after I finished my drink—and I only had the one Doc bought me—I don’t remember anything. It’s as if I got lost in the night.”

I gathered my fury like a fiery orb in my chest. “You know I never have a memory lapse except during a blood moon phase or if I lose control. I wasn’t that angry.”

I hadn’t done that to me since I was three years old. That son of a cur must have slipped me a roofie. I allowed my rage to explode as I thought about the man putting a date rape drug in my drink.

My body stung as the bristles burst through my skin, but I exalted in the sensation as my face narrowed, then lengthened. I loved the feeling of my body shifting from human to wolf shape. There’s never anything better than the power surge as it filled my muscles. It’s exhilarating.

So Bella convinces Doc they need to go together and release Jazzy in Lost Canyon.

He led me to a tiger striped truck and locked me in a cramped cage in the back. I just prayed I wouldn’t get car sick in that airless, miniscule box.

When he removed the noose, I wanted to rub the chaffed place, but thought better of it. Riding where I was, I could tell Doc had to be the absolute worst driver in the world. In a relatively short distance, he hit every bump, bounced in and out of every rut and quite possibly found every rock in every broad we were on. I wanted to spew. Bad.

Finally, the truck came to a stop. Both Doc and Bella came to let me out, but he made her stay back when he opened the door. Unable to stop myself, I had to show off just a little. Taking a fantastic leap from the cage—if I do say so myself—I ran a few yards, then stopped and braced my front feet on a small boulder. Raising my chin, I howled at the top of my lungs, and waited as if I expected an answer.

“Go on, Beauty. Have a wonderful life.”

I gazed at him for a moment, lifted my head high, turned my tail toward him and charged into the nearby woods, where I hid in the underbrush.

After they left, I paced through the trees for an eternity while I waited for Bella. What could she be doing? She knew I was waiting and in need of a cup of coffee.

A dull headache pounding in my skull, I moved to a nearby jumble of boulders that looked as if a baby giant had used them for building blocks. At the base was a small crevice. Not a cave, really. It wasn’t large enough for that. But it had a stone floor and one rock had fallen on another, leaving an opening just big enough. I squeezed inside and put my aching head against the cool rock to sooth the pain.

And not only would it help my headache, if I fell asleep and shifted back to human form, I’d still be naked. In my stone cubby I wouldn’t be as easily spotted as if I were in the open.

So . . . what do you think? Doesn’t the picture look like Jazzy?

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