Susan Spess Shay

Still playing make believe.


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Jennifer Adolph in the Wood Shed!

I know some of the nicest people in the world. And I want you to know them, too! Meet my friend, T.D. Hart aka Jennifer Mathews Adolph. Click on her name and it’ll take you to her website, tdhart.blogspot.com.

black and white straightened (2)Photo taken by Lisa

She’s one of those people who just amazes me. She’s a large animal veterinarian (hard to imagine!) who retired and is now writing full time. She has three kiddos, one husband, rent houses she takes care of, she just sold one home and moved into another, and she’s still a prolific writer!

And even though she hasn’t published a book yet, it’s just a matter of moments before she does. How do I know?

Because I’ve read her work. And (in case you don’t quite trust my reading taste) she won first place in both categories she entered at the Oklahoma Writers Federation, Inc. contest last year.

three-of-usJennifer is the gorgeous blonde in the middle holding two (2!) first place certificates. Rhenna Morgan is the blonde on Jen’s left, and I’m not sure who the dorky photo-bomber on the right is. ;)

Me: So, Jen, where’s your favorite place to write?

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Jen: This is where I go every year–Longbeach, Washington–and where I hope to move when the kids graduate.

For me, writing is an immersive process. To write authentically, I need to slip into my character’s skin and see/feel/experience what she’s feeling, ask how she’ll respond to the situation I’ve put her in. For that, I need solitude.

SAMSUNG

Me: Where’s the weirdest place you’ve ever written?

Jen: Okay. The strangest place I’ve ever written is where I’m sitting this very minute–a plywood garden shed (not a wood shed!) in our backyard, surrounded by tools and paint cans and fertilizer. I’ve been spoiled up to this point, so I’m not complaining. But I’ll be glad when we get it cleaned out/insulated/painted/heated.

My old writing nook is now Chris’s home office, and that’s where my books are–Elmore Leonard’s Ten Rules of Writing, Lee Lofland’s Crime Writer’s Handbook, Strunk and White. When we get the shed redone I’ll bring them out here.

(Click on any of the titles and they’ll take where you can buy your own copy!)

Jen: I always keep a guitar in my writing room. There’s something magical about making music with your left hand that frees up the creative part of your mind. I don’t understand it, but I’m glad it works.

Me: I wonder if a kazoo would work? That’s about the only instrument I can play. So, do you only use your office for writing?

Jen: I’d like to tell you I only use my space for writing. Um…yes, that’s what I’m going to say (wink, wink.)

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Jen: This is our template for remodeling a small shed in our new backyard.

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Jen: This is the view was taken from a balcony at Big Cedar Lodge in the Ozark Mountains, where I just spent four days grinding through the next Sam Benning story.

Me: I’m surprised the outdoor gorgeousness doesn’t lure her away from her writing, but like I said, she’s dedicated! So, Jennifer, do you have a ritual you follow before you write? Put on music? Sacrifice small mammals?

Jen: LOL. I’ve never considered blood sacrifice. Seems appropriate given my subject matter.

I do light candles. Usually I start my morning clearing the wreckage left by my family, then have a quiet breakfast and take care of the dogs. When my mind is settled, I fire up the laptop and get right to work. Around noon I take a break, eat lunch, and work until it’s time to get the kids.

I keep track of my words/hours on an Excel spreadsheet, and try to hit self-imposed goals. I don’t always hit them, but find I do a better job when I measure my results.

About once a month I take off for writer’s retreats at the lake, where I write like crazy–cranking out huge sections the book. I gain momentum and always come home feeling like I’ve caught the thread of my story.

Did I mention there’s no internet at the lake?

At home, I’m most productive in the morning. At the lake, I write until I get sleepy, then wake up and write more. Some of my best scenes have come at two in the morning.

Me: Aw, man, I want to be you when I grow up! What advice do you have for other writers to help them in their journey?

Jen: For the newbie, I’d say, “Just start writing–with the understanding that it won’t be as good as you think (yet.) Then, when you’ve written enough to recognize some of your craft deficits, seek feedback from a professional or group of published writers, and listen to what they say. Recognize it’s going to take longer to get good than you’re hoping. And read everything in your genre.”

Jen: If you’ve been writing for several years and haven’t sold, I’d again try to get honest feedback. If you’ve been getting great reviews and won contests, but just haven’t attracted a traditional publisher, I’d say hire an editor in your genre and self-pub. Or try some other form of publishing–say, putting your work on your website a chapter at a time.

Me: I can’t thank you enough for letting us have this peek into your writing life. I feel like I’ve been a fly on your office wall.

As soon as your first book is published, I hope you’ll come back for another chat! This was fun!

Hey, all y’all, you can find TD/Jennifer on her website, on Facebook  and on Twitter @theladyvet. Be sure and tell her Susan says hi!

So . . . any questions for Jennifer? Why’d she give up the glamorous life of a veterinarian to be a writer? How long does she take to write a book?

All you have to do is ask!

 

 

 

 


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Linda Trout’s Closet

Let me explain–

There’s this thing about me. I think people are fascinating . (ie: Everybody has A Story!)

I might have mentioned, I’m not only a writer, I’m also a reading knitter (or a knitting reader.) Naturally, I like to read about other people’s lives. I’ve suffered mightily because most knitting magazines only have patterns, nothing about the knitters who created them.

There is one TV show I watch about knitting. This past season, they advertised they’d changed their format to include a segment that was about studio to studio, I was so excited! I thought we’d get knitting area tours of their homes. I hoped they’d show us the whys and how-I’s of their lives.

Again, disappointment! Turns out, it’s just a segment done with the host in one place, the guest in another, but nothing about the guest’s home or knitting area or how they make life work while knitting.

Now that’s a real a bummer. ;)

So I started wondering, are there other people like me? People who like to see behind the scenes and inside the lives around them? Where people (writers) work, how they work and why?

Ummm, could be!

So I decided to take up the slack.

(♪♫ Fanfare! ♪♫) Let me introduce to  you to–

 Linda Trout’s Closet

linda-at-her-deskI’ve introduced Linda to you before. She’s one of those nice ladies who is really gorgeous and talented and writes tension filled books. She writes suspense and has two books and a novella to her credit!

Her most recent release is Last Hope Alaska.

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It’s a fabulous read! (If you click on the title, it’ll take you to the place where you can buy it, and I’ll get the credit!)

I’ve never been in Linda’s home, so I asked her where she writes.

Linda– “My office is a former walk-in closet that’s shaped like an L. The ‘L’ part is used as storage…has a set of shelves that are loaded down w/blankets, extra pillows, etc.

 

Me: Where are some other places you write?

Linda–“When I’m at home, my office is the only place I write. I make it a point to not write outdoors. I’d be too much like, “Ooh! A squirrel!” Soon the writing would be totally forgotten as I can find all sorts of things to do in the yard.”

Me: What’s the atmosphere like?

Linda– “It’s grand central station. Cats come in to bug me to pay more attention to them. One wants in my lap and another wants me to rub her belly. The credenza is packed full of writing stuff, a lot of which could be pitched so the drawers would open easier. As I said before, the ‘L’ is a storage area. Suitcases, old press kits that the lady from the Tulsa World brought to our meeting that time, tote bags from conferences, bedding, office supplies, table decorations for book signings, business and personal receipts. You name it, it’s probably stuffed in there. LOL.”

linda's-desk

“I always have a glass a sweet tea sitting next to the computer and a bag of cinnamon roasted almonds on the shelf for a ‘brain’ snack.”

linda's-quilts

“You can see some of my contest certificates hanging on the wall as well as a couple of quilts. One, my MIL made for us as a thank you for putting a new roof on her house a couple months after my FIL passed away. The other is a Yo-Yo quilt top my maternal grandmother made for me when I was a teenager.”

Me: So, do you have a ritual or something you do to start your writing time? Light a candle, play your sound track, bite the head off a chicken?

Linda– “Sorry. No chicken sacrifices. Unlike a lot of writers, I don’t play music, either. I do my best writing at night when all is quiet, the cats have settled down-or gone outside, hubby has turned off the TV and gone to bed. All the lights are out except for the one in my office (we have a very open concept home). The office is just around the corner from our bed and even though the man is out like a light 90 seconds after his head hits the pillow, I still try to be quiet. I guess this helps to center me so I can focus. It’s amazing the plot points I get figured out after 10pm.

Me: That is amazing, because I’m out like a burned down candle stub after 10 pm.

linda's-roses

Linda– “Oh, and I always work in sweats in the winter, and shorts and a t-shirt in the summer. Comfort all the way! LOL.”

Me: Okay,  so where’s the weirdest place you’ve ever written?

Linda– “It really isn’t a weird place, but I once wrote several hundred words on a Dana on my way to Alaska for vacation. Then I wrote while sitting on the bed and looking out of the window of our B&B and watching a pair of Bald Eagles teaching their chicks to fish.”

 Me: That’s so cool! (Not sure I could stay in and write with all that going on.)

Linda adds: “I’m pretty plain Jane, I suppose, compared to a lot of other writers. Too bad I don’t dance around in colorful outfits, blaring music that could wake the neighbors 10 acres over. My quieter side (some would say my inner psycho, since I write suspense) seems to be where my stories come from. Hmm I write about killers and I do my best writing when it’s dark outside. What does that say about me?”

 

Me: It says you’re a darned interesting lady! I knew there was A Story there!

So, anybody else have a question for Linda? Anything you want to know such as how many hours she writes each week, how long it takes her to write a book, does she take her characters from real life or what her favorite part of the process?

All you have to do is ask! I’m sure she’ll be glad to answer. :D

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Game Change

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Mama when she played basketball

When I was in high school, C-Town didn’t have basketball for girls. Happily, by the time my younger sibs were in high school, they did. And (much to Mama’s delight!) they not only played, most of them excelled.

Sister Debbie and I, though, were only cheerleaders.

Sisters Cindy and Lisa and Omega were all great players. But basketball has changed for girls so over the years! Cindy and Lisa played half-court ball. I don’t remember if Omega played half-court or full court, but she played!

And now Omega’s youngest daughter is playing.

Omega and her daughter. (Daughter doesn't wear this dress when she plays.)

Omega and her daughter. (Daughter doesn’t normally wear this dress when she plays. Or ever.)

And, not surprisingly, she’s pretty darn good. (Said her aunt who couldn’t be a bit prejudiced and couldn’t hit a basket without a tall ladder.)

So Friday afternoon, Dad and I went to watch this young’un do her stuff. Naturally, she jammed her finger before we got there and didn’t play a whole lot, but we got to see some.

While the other girls played and our Little Bit sat out to let her finger heal, Dad and I got to talking about how much bball has changed for girls.

Apparently, since they switched out the peach basket for a hoop, the guys haven’t changed all that much. But girls?

Back when Mama played–

  • Girls play half court–six girls from each team on the floor.
  • Girls could only dribble once (that’s one bounce!) and then they had to pass the ball.
  • Girls couldn’t take the ball away from one another. They could try to catch it when it was being passed, but absolutely could not try to snatch it out of their hands.

There are probably other differences, like what they wore or how they held their pinky while they served tea at half time, but those are the ones I heard about.

I asked Dad why for each of those old rules, and he had one answer for all of them. It wasn’t feminine.

Dribbling more than once wasn’t girlish? Ooookay.

I come from a long line of storytellers. Dad is no exception.

He told me about Old Ford’s team when Mama played. They had a tall girl (and great player) who had a hot overhead shot. She would hold the ball high and if a guard was blocking her,  she’d use the ball and push the other girl’s hands out of the way. And she nearly always made her shot.

And he followed that with another story.

Like today, back then if one of the girls got knocked down and lay there with her eyes closed, it stopped the game. So one girl, he said, got “knocked out,” stopping the entire game while everyone rushed to see if she were okay or if she needed a doctor.

Trouble was, while she was lying prone and “unconscious,” she forgot to stop chewing her gum.

By the way–the comment about serving tea was a joke.

I think. :D

 


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Fighting Back – Overcoming Obstacles

Susan Shay:

Sweet friend, Ashlynn Pearce, has just published her second book. You won’t believe how she fought the good fight to do it!
Check it out!

Originally posted on Ltrout's Blog:

Today, I’d like to welcome Ashlynn Pearce to my blog. Ashlynn has been struggling with some major health issues and I wanted to give her the opportunity to tell you about her journey and to also introduce you to her book, FUEL, which releases tomorrow.

I hope this provides some encouragement to others facing major obstacles to keep fighting, to know that it IS possible to overcome despite the roadblocks in your path. One of my favorite sayings is, where there’s a will, there’s a way. Ashlynn’s journey proves that to be true. So now I’m going to turn the blog over to Ash.
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Were it not for Hope, the Heart would Break…

April 28, 2010 my first book was published…and I had a stroke.

Yes, on the same day.

They never figured out why I had the stroke, nor can they explain all the multitude of symptoms I…

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wedding tea


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Tea in My Treasure

I’ve got a treasure, which is worth way more than its weight in gold. And the funny thing is, the entire treasure fits in a legal sized envelope.

grams-envelopeThere really is a treasure in there. Want to see it? ‘Kay.

grams-receipes

I admit, most people wouldn’t consider this to be worth much, but I love it. It’s one of those things I’d grab first if a tornado was headed my way. Well, maybe not a tornado. But definitely if there was a raging grass fire headed toward our house!

They’re recipes I found in a drawer at Grandmother’s house when I lived there. When I moved, I collected them all and put them in the envelope.

Usually, the envelope lives here–

grams-cooking

I also copied them and put them in books for my sibs.

gram's-book2

I don’t think they were Grandmother’s absolute favorite recipes. She had those memorized! But there are some goodies.

One that I’d only tried once, my sister’s DIL just loves, so I decided to try it, again. Turns out, it really is pretty doggone good!

A little too sweet for my taste, so I add a little brewed tea to mine. :D

grans-cranberry-spice-tea

Here’s the recipe:

Cranberry Tea

48 oz cranberry cocktail
46 oz unsweetened pineapple juice
1 C boiling water
3/4 C brown sugar
1/4 tsp salt
1/2 tsp cinnamon
3/4 tsp cloves
1/4 tsp nutmeg
1/2 tsp allspice

Combine water, sugar and spices and bring to a boil to dissolve sugar. Add juices and 1 or 2 cinnamon sticks. Remove after 10 minutes simmering. Refrigerate and re-heat to serve.

grans-goodies

Of course, the real treasure was my grandmother’s presence in my life. We lived with her or right next door to her always. (At least I did until I got married.)

She was one of the kindest, sweetest people in the world, and could cook like no one else.

I remember the day she gave her heart to God. I’d stayed home from church with Granddad because I didn’t feel good. She came home from church with her hair wet. She’d accepted Jesus as her Lord and Savior and been baptized.

I’m not sure of the date, but it was sometime in the ’60’s and, if I’m not mistaken, Ronnie Epps was our preacher. (Guess I’ll have to run over to the church and check that out for sure.)

Do you have treasures like mine? Hard to put a dollar amount on, but you wouldn’t trade them for the world.


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2015–What Else is New?

Happy New Year!

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How many times have you heard that lately? How many times have you said it? So . . . what does it mean? Is it a command? images

Have a happy year, or else! Got me?

Or a question? imagesTYTQ746F

It’s a new year. So, are you happy now?

And what’s it talking about being new? Me? Bahahaha! Not hardly!  susans-a-baby   In this new year, what new and wonderful things are you planning? Trips to take? Books to read? (I can suggest a few if you need help.) *wink*

Are there new dishes you want to cook? (I’m going to try some wok cooking.) Hobbies–arts and crafts– you want to try? (Is there anything I haven’t tried?)

Or maybe you’re planning to complete a marathon? (I’m not.) Run a 5k race?  (I’m not doing that, either.)

I am going to try to complete something that I’ve failed at before–reading through the Bible in a year. I’m not making any promises, but I’m going to try.

And I’m joining Beth Moore and a couple of my sibs memorizing scriptures this year. Instead of jumping around for my scripts, this year I’m going to take several in a row, starting with Mary’s Song in Luke 1 beginning at verse 46–“And Mary said, my soul glorifies the Lord.”

Then in two weeks, I’ll quote that one, and memorize 47–“And my spirit rejoices in God my Savior,” and so on.

What are you in 2015 so it’ll be different than 2014? Terminally Curious wants to know! :D


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Do You Have . . .

. . . Time?

This is the time of year when goal setting is a popular thing to do. Sometimes we call it New Years Resolutions, but it means the same thing.

Even if you aren’t thinking about setting goals, the thought just might have flitted through your mind. :D

But no matter how many goals we set for ourselves, most of us hear ourselves saying at some time or other, “I don’t have time!”

Since we’re all allotted the same 60 seconds for ever minute, 60 minutes for every hour, 24 hours for every day and 7 days for every week, I figure it’s a matter of choice.

Whether we make those choices or allow someone else make them for us is immaterial. It’s OUR time!

There are classes to take that teach us to set the right goals and how to keep them. In fact, I had an offer for one in my email box this morning. But I’m afraid the class was a little price-y, especially since I know what it must be about. Make a plan and live by it. Don’t let anyone else control your time and your life.

Do it.

Just Do It.

Go! And! Do! It!

Then you get this kind of feed back (from me, at least)–how do I find time? When can I do it? How can I control it myself?

The answer? Well . . . I haven’t taken that class (yes, I’m a cheapskate)  but from what I’ve seen, it’s simple.

Don’t do what feels good. Don’t do what you like all the time. Don’t allow yourself to slip into that rut where you do what you’ve always done because you’ll get what you’ve always got. (Not great grammar but you get the idea.)

J. R. R. Tolkien said it better than I do.

Very simply and succinctly he said, “All we have to decide is what to do with the time that is given us.”

He makes it sound so easy, doesn’t he? Just decide and do it. But other people lay claims to our time, I can’t be the only person with a job. Right? Or a husband. Or kiddos. Or friends. Or hobbies. And I want to keep them all! So I’m thrilled that they all claim some of my time.

Doesn’t leave much time for goals I’ve set.

What does the Bible say about time and setting goals?

Ecclesiastes 3:1 NIV– There is a time for everything,
    and a season for every activity under the heavens:

2 a time to be born and a time to die,
    a time to plant and a time to uproot,
    a time to kill and a time to heal,
    a time to tear down and a time to build,
    a time to weep and a time to laugh,
    a time to mourn and a time to dance,

 1 Corinthians 9:26 says, 26 So I do not run without a goal. I fight like a boxer who is hitting something—not just the air. –NCV

So should I set goals? And to what extent do I adhere to them?

Should I rigidly schedule my time?

Stop chatting with a friend mid-word when it’s time to do something else? Grab the dishes from the table when it’s time, even before the family is finished eating?

If I tried being that exacting, I probably wouldn’t last a full day before I built a fire in the backyard and used the goals/schedule as fodder for it.

So how far is a person to go? I’m not sure. Even after all these years, I’m still trying to figure it all out.

Here are a few blogs about goal setting I liked. See what you think–

Rick Warren 

Lululemon

Michael Hyatt

When you’ve read them (if you have time) come back and let me know what you think. What’s your best goal (resolution) setting tip?

 

 

 

 

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