Susan Spess Shay

Still playing make believe.


I Made It Up

“People are just as happy as they make up their minds to be.”  ― Abraham Lincoln

I didn’t know Honest Abe, but I’ve read about him. And you know what? He was right about a lot of things. Especially this one!

I went to a beautiful friend’s father’s funeral the other day. The funeral was a real celebration of the man’s life. A wonderful, wonderful time of sharing happy, joyful memories.

The man loved God, his family, and life. He served God by leading Boy Scout troops for thirty years! He loved airplanes and had quite a collection, which he donated to the Air and Space Museum several years ago.


The family asked the minister to talk about the man’s life and how he enjoyed it. (I enjoyed learning about him.)

The music was outstanding! The first song was, “AMAZING GRACE,” one of my all time faves.  (Mom’s, too.) And at the end of the service, they played, “SPIRIT IN THE SKY” by Norman Greenbaum.

Gotta love that song! Perfect for the occasion.

After the service while I waited to go through the line so I could hug my friend, a man asked me if I’m happy all the time.

Happy all the time? I told him yes, I try to be. But that wasn’t the complete truth.

Like everyone else, I run the gamut of emotions–happy, sad, excited, bored, joyful, cranky, and once in a while, pissed off. (Oy.) But like Old Abe suggested, I’ve pretty much made up my mind to be happy.

And have you ever noticed that when you say something out loud and often, it’s true?

For instance, I told a critique partner once (after hearing someone complain about having a book deadline) “I love writing. It’s like when I played make believe as a kid. That was always my favorite game!”


I’ve said that many times in the years since that first time. And you know what? Even after all this time, with all the ups and downs in publishing, I LOVE writing.

Since the day I went back to work at my current job, I’ve told anyone who asked, “I LOVE my job!”

I really do. 🙂

Is it true because I say it or do I say it because it’s true? Or maybe if I say it enough times, I’ll learn it?

I’m not really sure. I doubt that it would work in every circumstance. But you know what? There might be power in words.

Ever noticed when someone tells a kid he’s bad often enough, it’ll turn out to be true? Or if you tell him he won’t amount to anything, he doesn’t?

Well, there are a few things I need to say to myself that aren’t really true yet, but I want them to be.


Things like–

I love eating healthy, low calorie food and losing weight.

I adore exercising, sweating and being out of breath! (I really do enjoy walking. In the fall. When it’s not too hot.)

Cooking is my favorite way to pass the time.

Cleaning house and doing laundry are so much fun!

Come on words! You’ve got the power!clip_art_illustration_a_red_outline_of_a_heart_0071-0904-2000-1161_TNHow about some Bloggy Love?

Tell me. Do you believe Abe was right? Can a person be happy, just because he/she makes up her mind to be?


I’m 65! (Not My Age.)

Just picked myself up off the floor.

I don’t believe it! This is so cool. Really, cool!

This morning in the Kindle Free Book Store, MAKE ME HOWL is #65. NUMBER SIXTY FIVE!!! I’m in total shock, and doing a Scooby dance. (I’m not sure I can manage a Snoopy Dance this early in the morning.)


That means out of about  56,844 free books on Kindle I’m #65. WOOHOO!

And I’m #3 in Romantic Comedy. #4 in humor. YAY!

MAKE ME HOWL is a fun book (and apparently I’m not the only one who thinks so.) I can’t take all the credit for it, though. I have a great bunch of critiquers who point out my mistakes, and my editor, Lara Parker, was a great help! (Wow, the things you learn in edits!)

Anyway, wanna see it in ink?? (And so I can remember this miracle.)

Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #65 Free in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Free in Kindle Store)

If you haven’t picked up your free copy, do it now! You can always buy the “real” book later.





Leave me some bloggy love today? (IOW: please comment): I’ll give you a choice.

#1- Do you think it’s stupid to give my book away or do you think it’ll translate later into higher sales?

If you don’t have an opinion about book sales, answer me this–

#2- Should I print out the Amazon page and frame it? 🙂


Sweet! It’s Free!


To celebrate the Season 17 return of Dancing with the Stars, MAKE ME HOWL is free on Kindle for the next five days!




Okay, it just happens to coincide with that fun show. (Don’t you love Valerie Harper???? And Bill Nye?) But honestly, if you’ve considered downloading MAKE ME HOWL, NOW IS THE TIME!

Because from today (September 17th) until Saturday, (the 21st) IT’S REALLY IS FREE!

(Just yesterday I told someone you don’t get anything free. Sigh. Once more, I was wrong!)IMG_4075

Back to business . . . It’s true! For five days (count ’em. FIVE!) you can own MAKE ME HOWL, and it won’t cost you a thing! Is that cool or what?

I’m pumped. PUMPED! Zip out there right now and “buy” it. Honestly, get one. I want you to!


Okay, yes, it’s a werewolf story, but it’s not your normal werewolf story. Even if you usually don’t like stories about those who are vertically challenged, I think you’ll like this one.

And do me a favor? If you download the sweet freebie, please go back to Amazon and do a book review. An HONEST review.

If you don’t like it, I promise not to hunt you down and eat your face. (I can’t vouch for Jazzy, though.)

Oops. Almost forgot to give you the URL. Here it is: MAKE ME HOWL.


Leave me some bloggy love today–Do you think we’re nuts to give it away? (Yes, talking about the book.) 🙂

These are from some people who’ve enjoyed the story.

Make Me Howl . .  . is a story you can sink your teeth into!” –Larry Talbot

“Great book! It’ll make you shake your tail feather . . . ” –Maleva

“If you don’t read this book, you’ll never know how “fur” the author can go.” –Sir John Talbot.

“It’s a “tail” like you’ve never read before.” –Col. Montford.

Confession: I made those attributes up. Anybody know who they are?

Check it out. 🙂 (Might as well. It’s free!)


Dwarfs? I Don’t Think So

I woke up coughing this morning.

That might be a great first sentence for a book about a woman whose house burns down, but that’s not what it is. It’s my life. I do a lot of coughing these days.


Why am I coughing? you ask.

Answer: Allergies. (Ugh.)

We had a lot of rain this summer. (Tons, compared to the previous few.) And because of all the rain, whatever nasty weed it is that I’m allergic to is living the wild life. And now with more rain (which I love!) I’m telling you, that stuff is going to be on steroids and sending its nasty spores charging into the air to kick my hiney.


So I’m taking all the OTC allergy meds I can find. Yeah, it makes me drowsy and droopy, but I’m not sneezy and coughy. (Those aren’t dwarf names.)


The only good thing about it is, living in Okieland, I’m not alone. Most of the adults I know have some kind of snifflies going. 😦 I don’t know what it’s like in other states. Anybody else have allergy issues?

Anyway, I vote for an early freeze this year!

Who’s with me???

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Take a Shot

When I’m inspired, I like to snap a pic. (Yeah, my phone/camera stays hot theses days.)


A few things pushed my WOW  button recently.



My first-ever favorite author, Louisa May Alcott. I loved her book, LITTLE WOMEN, when I was just a little girl. I loved the way she thought and spoke and, well, was. (She doesn’t look like I thought she would, though.)

1185086_10151851029032456_793112898_nI thought this book looked like a great way to get kids started reading. Little Bit isn’t very into books yet, but he loves stories!


Good to know there’s no time limit, huh?

sweet-caraThis sweet girl visited the office for a few minutes this week. Deegan had to show off just a little for her. 🙂


I saw this one in my head. (That happens.) 😉


DIL took this one and I’ve posted it before. It fills me with WOW, so I thought I’d share it again with you.

Back to Louisa May. (She inspires me!) The power is ours. We can make our wishes come true, if we just keep believing!

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Wowzer Woman

Ever noticed how people you meet as a child make a huge impression on your life? Mrs. Shriner was a woman who really wowed mine.

When I was in second grade, Mom started me taking piano lessons with Mrs. Shriner. At least, that’s what her students called her. Actually, her name was Patti Adams Shriner.

Mrs. Shriner lived in a house just a few blocks from my school, so on nice days I walked to my lessons.

I remember walking in the first day of my lessons.

walking shriner's houseThis is Mrs. Shriner’s house last year. (Or the year before.)

At that time we had an old upright piano in the garage, and all I could play was, “I Dropped My Dolly In the Dirt.”

Mrs. Shriner was a small woman who walked with a slight limp from a broken hip she’d suffered a few years earlier. The house had an odd odor, which I thought must be what wine smelled like.

Having actually smelled wine, I now believe it was Ben Gay I smelled, which she used to ease the pain of arthritis in her hip.

There were two pianos in her living room. A grand piano, which we took our lessons on, and a smaller piano that she used when she needed dueling pianos.

Funny, I don’t remember what her hairstyle was. I remember her hands, her nails always in a perfect oval with clear pink polish, and her beautiful diamond ring that she wore all the time although we couldn’t wear any jewelry when we played. 🙂

I even remember her shoes. But not her hair. Weird, huh?

Every month we had piano club in her living room. All her students were required to be there and we were to play a song we’d learned in the past month. Sister Debbie says she played the same tune every month for most of the time we took lessons.

Sometimes during my lessons, Mrs. Shriner would teach me music history. She taught me about Beethoven, Chopin and Hayden.

She told me about going to Paris when she was young, and taking lessons from a great pianist who’d learned under one of the great composers.

She showed me a black and white picture once of a building she’d built to live in and give lessons and performances in the ’20’s.

ms shriner riversidestudioShe said she had the windows placed so they’d look like the notes of an ascending scale. I remember the picture and that it was somewhere in T-Town from all those years ago. Today I did a Google search and found this picture and that it’s really kind of a famous building.

She lost it during the depression, but an actor bought it several years later and started putting on a play there called, “The Drunkard.”

Strangely enough, a few years ago I had an acquaintance who’d been one of the actors in “The Drunkard,” but she never mentioned the building it was in. Just that it was on Riverside Drive. (I need to drive over there and see it myself. 1381 Riverside Drive–the corner of Riverside and Houston. )

But Mrs. Shriner was so much more than just a piano teacher with a rich history. She was kind and compassionate woman who loved her students very much. I remember once she though I was about to cry.  Actually, I had a piece of glitter at the corner of my eye from an art project at school, but when she saw it glimmer, she worried that she’d somehow hurt my feelings.

She would move from her teaching stool to our bench to play a song and show us how it was supposed to sound, even though I’m sure it hurt her to move from stool to bench and back.

Her specialty was a composition that I absolutely love to hear to this day. It’s called Fantasie Impromptu by Chopin. She’d play it for us at Music Club. (If she didn’t play it, it didn’t feel like we’d had Club.)

She said the music was found after Chopin’s death in his trash can. According to Mrs. Shriner, he had thrown the manuscript away because it was written with different time in each hand. The right hand plays semiquavers against triplets in the left hand. Sounds hard, doesn’t it?

If I got bored during my lesson toward the end, I’d sometimes ask her to play FI and she would. Oh! My! Stars!!! She had such fire and passion when she played that music.

It’s something I never hoped to play, but oh, how I enjoyed it! Funny thing is, even back in second grade, I imagined a story while she played. (I did that during the songs I played, too.)

Want to hear it?

In case you’re wondering, no. The little girl isn’t me. (Don’t be disappointed. I can still play, “I Dropped My Dolly.”

Mrs. Shriner died in 1965 when she was 82 years old. She’s buried in our cemetery next to her father. (I think.)

ms shriner headstone

The bottom of her headstone is the first stanza or two of the treble staff music for “Fantasie Impromptu.”

My Small Town World has had some of the most beautiful people ever living there. Everyone’s STW is filled with Wowzer People if we’ll just take the time to get to know them.

Mrs. Shriner was absolutely one of them!

miss shriner 3


My One Hundred Year Old Pitcher

Am I weird?

I like pitchers. I didn’t realize I collected them until one day I noticed I had a collection. Mostly white pitchers, but really any pitcher that catches my interest.

One day, an elderly friend of my dad’s who didn’t know about my pitcher fetish gave me this.


Now I’ve always loved this kind of pottery, but I’d never seen a pitcher like this before. Isn’t it cool?

arlie3Anybody read German? 😉


It’s not perfect, but that might be because it’s been used a lot. (The best kind of gift is one that’s been loved and used.)


It even has a heart. I like that.

Inside the pitcher was a paper. arlie-1It’s dated April 30, 2004.

Dear Susan:

Here is a pitcher that I have had for over 50 years. It was “supposed” to be 40 or 50 years old when I got it.

It came from my favorite German restaurant. . .

Graven Bock

Located in Saxonhausen–a suburb of Frankfurt, Germany. The word “zum” means to. The name is Theo and Gottlieb Elsasser. We would get this FULL of Apple wine and after 6 or 7 glasses–two things would happen:

(turn over)

1. It commenced to taste good.


2. You had no more problems.

Your friend



The pitcher has been in several rooms in my house since Arlie gave it to me. The living room and family room mainly. And part of the time it held dried hydrangeas. Right now it mostly holds dust. LOL.

Maybe I’ll find a place to display all my pitchers together, and put Apple Wine Pitcher in the middle.

So . . . is that weird?