Susan Spess Shay

Still playing make believe.

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One of My Favorites

Ever meet anyone and feel as if you already know them? And you nearly hugged them on sight? It happened to me!

Maggie Osborne, historical romance writer, reminds me of Aunt Virginia.

First I have a question–are you a reader?

Strange question, isn’t it? I can’t imagine anyone NOT being a reader, but that’s not the point of this blog. Today, I’m going to tell you about one of my favorite authors. The woman as I know her.

And I want to know how you choose the books you read.

Here’s how I do it–

  1. Author. If I enjoy an author, I don’t want to miss any of her books.
  2. Recommendation. If a person I trust (book-wise) says I’ll enjoy a book, I’ll give it a shot.
  3. Online flap. If everyone is talking about a book, I MIGHT give it a try. (The truth is, I wonder if a lot of the people doing the online flapping even know how to read. But, I digress.)
  4. By the cover.

I know. I subscribe to the old, “You CAN’T tell a book by its cover,” saying, too. But sometimes you can. I have, at least once.

That once was Maggie Osborne’s SILVER LINING.

The cover doesn’t show up here very well, but it was beautiful. Although I didn’t know it at the time, but that’s a very expensive cover, called a stepback.

Slick white with shining silver lettering, the oval in the middle is a picture frame. The front cover “steps back” to the inside cover so you see and learn more about the book. I read the back cover blurb and snatched it before someone could grab it from my hand.

It was one of those books you start and can hardly put down once you start reading. But you try to read it slowly because you don’t want the book to be over. You want to move in and live there.

(Does that happen to anyone else?)

SILVER LINING is the story of a mining camp that has a horrible disease break out. Everyone who isn’t sick gets out as fast as they can except one young man who, it turned out was really a woman, who was so unkempt and ugly, no one looked close enough to notice she wasn’t a man. She stays and nurses the sickies all back to health.

To reward her, they offer her anything she wants. (They think she’ll choose money or a farm or something like that.)

She chooses to have a baby. Of course, the men are shocked and demand she has to marry the baby giver–at least temporarily.

So all the unmarried men draw straws. The hero of the story, who is only there to get enough money to pay for his farm so he can get married to his beautiful fiancée back home, is horrified when he get the short straw.

Great story! (If you like historicals, you can probably still find it on Amazon.)

I liked it so much, I bought another of her books called, Brides of Prairie Gold. Another hit out of the park! It’s the story of 12 women who travel west in a wagon train to be mail order brides at a gold camp. Again, Maggie does a fantastic job.

Twelve women, and she does a fantastic job of telling all their stories without confusing me. And what grabbed me hard was that at the end of the book, kind of like a PS, she told how each bride lived, who they married, how many kids they had, and finally, how and when they died.

That blew me away. I couldn’t stand it, so I emailed Maggie and asked her if it was a true story. After all, most romance end right after the HEA. She’d not only given me a super satisfactory ending, she told me what happened at the true end.

I needed to know!

Surprise, surprise! I heard back from her. (Not all big name authors answer emails or letters. Only the nice ones.) And no, it wasn’t a true story, but Maggie was a truly nice woman.

We emailed back and forth a couple of times. I ordered what tapes I could find from when she’d spoken at RWA’s National Conference and listened to them over and over.

She lived in Colorado, so her accent was like the one Virginia had acquired in her years of living there, and she was a smoker, so even her laugh was like my aunt’s. And when I saw her picture, I knew she was a long-lost family member. Her height, her curves, even her coloring and the shape of her nose looked like the Reeves clan.

Naturally, I invited her to my writers’ group’s first conference and (woohoo!) she came. Turns out, she was just as nice as she seemed in our emails. Her books were wonderful, right down to the last one.

Since that time, she has retired from writing. When she announced her retirement, I emailed again. “Can an author with your talent really stop writing?”

Her answer? “Yes.”

And she did.

I’m telling you, the woman has Reeves genes in her. They might be very diluted (can you dilute a gene?) but they’re there. Somewhere. 🙂

1- How do you choose the books you read?

2- Have you ever written a letter to an author, and did he/she answer?