Susan Spess Shay

Still playing make believe.


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Hop-Along!

Hop-Along!

But not Hop-Along Cassidy, as in the character created by Clarence E. Mulford and played by William Boyd who, btw, was reared in Tulsa. (Clears throat to indicate a big deal.) LOL.

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By Hop-Along, I mean I’m part of a Blog Hop (I added the along!) That means you read mine, then hop back to read Linda Trout’s blog (fantastic writer, in case you’re looking for something new to read) and if you get caught up in the whole “hoppy” thing, jump back to Jackie King’s blog. (I LOVE Jackie. In fact, I want to be her when I grow up.)

Since Linda tagged me, let me tell you about her.

Linda Trout is one of those people I just stand and stare at. (Mentally, that is. My mama taught me better than do really do that.) This woman rides a Harley (her own motorcycle, not just hanging on behind her husband like I used to do) is recently retired from a career in oil (she did all the things I hide from) visits Alaska periodically (yes! I want to go there!) and she Writes! Fantastic! Books!

And she’s GORGEOUS!

Linda Trout, Author

Linda Trout, Author

Be sure to check out her blog about what she writes. This Claremore girl (from Fort Gibson) is more than a little bit interesting! And her newest book, Last Hope, Alaska, will be out August 20th! Watch for it!

You really should check out her other books. They’re great! (I should know!)

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Question, question, questions–

So, Susan Spess Shay, What are you working on?

I’m working on the first story in a series set in Jordan Valley, Oklahoma, called UNSPEAKABLE.

The stories involve the Matthews family. They own a daycare called Gingerbread Giggles. (Mama Matthews’s first name is Ginger, thus the name.) The heroine of this story is Glory Matthews. Her sister is Star. When my hero, Eli Daniels, first meets them, he wonders if their mother was a hippy or just in love with the flag. And he wonders if their brother’s name is Stripes. It’s not. 😀

Hm. So how does your work differ from every other book on the shelf in its genre?

  • It differs because I put Me in my books. Nobody else can do that. (Thank heaven!) They can only put themselves in.
  • I write with a little humor, so you know I don’t take myself or my characters too seriously.
  • Another thing that might be a little different is that I believe in the power of love. I think God created us to be attractive to the opposite sex, so yes, there is–um–sexual attraction in my book. (And having attended a Christian college, I know ministers and Men and Women of the Cloth experience it, too!) 🙂

WHY do you write what you write?

Do you really want to know? (Raises eyebrows with a questioning glance.) I haven’t always written Christian Women’s Fiction, which is what I’m calling my genre.  I used to write Romance. (If you’ve read any of my books, you know what I’m talking about.)

Then one November, I started to do Nanowrimo, which is when you write an entire 50,000 word manuscript in 30 days.

I was doing it. In fact, I’d figured it so I’d have the entire thing finished before Thanksgiving, and I was right on schedule. Then one day I woke up to get to work and it hit me–

“That’s not the kind of book I want to be remembered for.” I never did finish that book, but I did a lot of praying about it after that.

 Well, that’s . . . different. How does your writing process work?

Since I have a day job that I absolutely adore (I work for my daddy with my brother, sister, husband, son, a niece or two, several cousins and lots of friends) and since anything I write at night has to be rewritten, I get up AEAP (as early as possible) fix a pot of coffee and write. I love to wake up at 4:00 a.m. and get with it. I write as many days a week as I wake up in time to do it. (That’s most days.) I write a little longer on Saturdays.

From the beginning of the book: I usually start with a “What If” question.

For Make Me Howl, I thought, “What if werewolves weren’t just crazy monsters? What if it was a genetic thing, passed down from generation to generation? 🙂 And what if my werewolf had a paternal twin sister? Werewolf girl would get the werewolf gene, twin would get the gene for straight hair. It all comes out in the wash.

For my werewolf book, I had to let my imagination go wild! (Pun intended.) Like all wolves, she’d have to go into heat. Right? That was fun to write! LOL. And there had to be a “blessing” to counteract the “curse”, so I gave werewolves affluence. The fun just goes on from there.

For my Jordan Valley series, I wanted to make it easy for me, so I used my hometown as a model. (Who can keep track of maps?) I enjoy humor, so I gave my main family a daycare center, and but none of the women who work there are married or have children.

My favorite ongoing characters are a pair of octogenarian twins who are total opposites. One is the sweetest thing since God created honey and the other is a cranky retired teacher who is only nice if there are kids around. They take in women and children who need help or who need to hide from an abusive husband/father.

Here’s the cranky retired teacher, telling about the time an abusive husband tracked down his wife and broke into their house.

♥ ♥ ♥

“That man just kept coming. He grabbed Sister and was shaking her so hard, I thought he was going to break her bones.” She folded her arms and sat back in the chair. “I had to conk him with Papa’s door stop to get him to quit.”

“You mean a little rubber thing you shove under a door stopped him?” How?

Mrs. Jackson closed her eyes and sighed. “Of course not. Papa was in World War One and he brought back a door stop, made out of iron, that looked like the Eiffel Tower. We used it a lot before we had air conditioning, to keep the door open so we’d have a draft. But with the cooler, we haven’t needed it so much anymore. It got kind of shoved behind the drape next to the door.

“He was yelling and shaking Sister, she was quoting scripture at him and I was slapping him, trying to get him to quit. He shoved my old body off toward the wall, and when he did, I struck my foot on the Tower. Well, he’d gone back to hurting my sister, so I just picked it up and conked him on the head.” The look of pride in her eyes was unmistakable.

He couldn’t blame her, either. “I’ll bet that slowed him down.”

“Yes, it did.” A small smile spread across her face. “Slowed him so much, he still wasn’t conscious when the ambulance got here to take him to the hospital.”

He tried to hide the amusement roiling inside him. “What did the police say?”

“Boyd Hubbard was the policeman that came. I tell you, if I’d known what an idiot he was going to grow into when I had him in first grade, I’d have flunked him for another year or two.” She rolled her eyes heavenward with an irritated sigh. “He told me I might have done real damage to the man. Said the man’s family could file a lawsuit against me. I told him to go back to the police station and look up the Make My Day Law. That jerk should have been glad I didn’t have a gun.”

“Do you remember what scripture Miss Charlotte quoted?”

Mrs. Jackson chuckled. “It’s a funny thing, preacher. The kids staying with us had trouble sleeping because they were scared of the dark, and who could blame them? So Charlotte had been reading the 16th Psalm to them for their bedtime story. When their daddy tracked them down and broke in, he grabbed her and she said all she could think was that eighth verse, ‘I keep my eyes always on the Lord. With Him at my right hand, I will not be shaken.’ When she got to that last part, she was yelling.”

♥ ♥ ♥

Thanks, Linda Trout, for tagging me for this hop. It’s been so much fun!

Now I’m tagging Natasha Hanova, a new friend I met at OWFI for the next hop on June 2nd.

NH_AuthorPhotoLargeNatasha is a YA Paranormal author, a SUPER organized and patient woman (I can attest!) and a chocoholic!

Her book, Edge of Truth, published by Sapphire Star Publishing, is turning a year old in June, so we can hop over there and help her celebrate!

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TBT–Yellowstone Pt 2 and the Gang

I started this blog Monday.

We finally made it to Yellowstone. I think we’d worn the sickness out by then. We rented one cabin, where we cooked and showered and a few us us slept, and the rest of us slept in the campers.

Of course, we saw everything there is to see at Yellowstone. Old Faithful, who really was faithful back then. I don’t know how is he now.

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The Grand Canyon of Yellowstone

grand canyon yellowstoneThis  is that Grand Canyon. Picture from Wikipedia. Gorgeous, isn’t it?

dt.common.streams.StreamServerAnother place, we hiked down a wonderful, smooth asphalt path to a lower waterfall. On the way down, I saw my first Newfoundland Dog. (At first, I thought it was a bear on a leash.) When we got there, we marveled and exclaimed and climbed rocks. I decided I wanted another angle in a picture, so I climbed a little way up the rock wall beside the falls.

Of course, there was a heavy mist coming from the waterfall and the sun was shining bright on us. When I turned around to take the picture, I wasn’t surprised to see rainbows. What surprised me was that I saw a complete circle rainbow!

If there’s not something to stop it (like the earth or a building or cloud) a rainbow will make a perfect circle! Who knew? (Probably anyone who paid attention in science class.) I didn’t!

Hot springs.

hot springs

Tons of hot springs and mud volcanoes in Yellowstone. TONS!

I don’t know the temperature of the springs, but I’ve seen Dante’s Peak. I don’t want to test it! LOL.

So as I mentioned, Phyllis and Melvin went with us. A couple of things I remember about Melvin that made him one of my favorite people in the world. (I should have a category–My Favorite People. 🙂 ) Melvin ate popcorn every night. I don’t know if he had it instead of dinner, as an after dinner snack or just before going to bed, but I know he had it. And when I smelled it popping, it made me hungry! (I love popcorn.)

And he was a great fisherman. If I remember right, he didn’t like to eat fish, he just liked to catch them. I’d say that was where The Great Fisherman Jeffrey got his fishing gene, but Melvin wasn’t related except by marriage. Maybe Jeffrey caught it by osmosis.

The guys all went fishing while we were at Yellowstone, and left us womenfolk behind.

They drove a ways, parked and hiked a couple of miles up the river through CLOUDS OF MOSQUITOES. (They don’t do anything to kill off critters in YS.) From the way I heard the story, the guys nearly couldn’t breathe without sucking in several of the little varmints. (They might have made it worse than it was in the telling so I’d quit griping because they wouldn’t let me go. Yes, I pouted.)

Anyway, they finally got to the spot someone told them about, and after an hour or two without catching a fish, they hiked back to the truck, again through clouds of mosquitoes. (No wonder the trout didn’t bite, they were full from eating blood suckers.) At least one of the guys (Brother Jeffrey?) ran most of the way back and locked himself in the truck to get away from the bugs.

Can’t say as I blame him. 🙂

I’ve been to Yellowstone two or three times, but guess what? I. Want. To. Go. Again. (It’s just too gorgeous for words.)

Have you been to Yellowstone and seen the Natural Wonders God put there? Think He was showing off or just giving us a taste of Heaven?

What was your favorite part?

Oh, wow. I didn’t even mention the animals!


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♪♫ The Eyes of Texas . . . ♪♫ or Yellowstone Pt 1

We’re coming up on the anniversary. Again. For family and friends of the Spess Gang, May 20, 1991, is a day that will live in infamy. Read about it here. 

But since Mom wasn’t a person who would not have liked us to mourn forever or go into retrograde for a week around that date, instead of going into all that, I’ll tell you about one of my shiny memories.

The family decided to go to Yellowstone on vacation. When I say the family, I mean The Family. The whole clan. Mom, Dad, all the sibs, married sibs, sibs-in-law, grandkids and (maybe) Grandmother. Aunt Phyllis and her husband, Melvin, went, too.

We packed into three pickup/campers and a car–complete with CB radios. 🙂 Everyone had “handles.” Mom decided to bleach her hair just before we went (not her best decision) so she was The Blonde Bombshell. G-Man is a pharmacist, so they called him The Pusher (short for Pill Pusher).

The first day we headed to Cousin Liz’s in Perryton, Texas. When we crossed the line from OkieLand in to Texas, I asked The Blonde Bombshell on the CB what Texas’s state song was, since she graduated from high school down there in Baja, Oklahoma. Without hesitating, she answered on the CB for all the world to hear,

♪♫ The eyes of Texas are upon you, all the live-long day! ♪♫

♪♫ The eyes of Texas are upon you, you cannot get away. ♪♫

Truckers cheered for her when she finished. 😉

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I’m not sure why we went to Liz’s. When I map the way from C-Town to Wyoming, Perryton isn’t on a straight shot, but everybody LOVES being with Liz and her fam, so maybe that’s why.

By the time we got to Perryton, in the Texas panhandle, I was throwing up my socks. (And anything else remotely close to my tummy.) I was sick! Sick! Sick! for about twelve hours, then I got better.

G-Man came down with the illness next, and one by one, most of us caught it.

We left Liz’s the next day and drove into Colorado, and the scenery was gorgeous! I’m not sure where we spent that next night, but it seems as if we crossed a mountain and pulled into a camping area in a small valley.

Talk about beautiful! (If I could find the place on a map, I’d go back today!) There were mountains all around us. The clouds looked as if they tripped over those mountains, then sat there in the trees and laughed at us.

There was a large pond fed by a stream for us to fish in. A beaver the size of a Chocolate Lab (I promise, he was that big!) lived in the pond. So much fun to watch!

Brother Jeffrey was sick while we were there, and I’m sure he appreciated me having shared the illness. But he didn’t feel good enough to mention it. In fact, he was so sick, his moans echoed off the mountains and scared away the wild animals.

We usually cooked over a campfire on that trip. Aunt Phyllis was a marvel! She could fill a huge skillet with eggs, fried them just right (sunny side up and runny) then slipped the entire thing onto a plate without breaking a single yoke! That woman had talent!!! (You should have tasted her fried chicken! Y-U-M!!!)

We traveled on to Gunnison after that. Melvin had worked in that area on Taylor Lake back when he was a young man. It had been a job like the CCC, during the Great Depression, I believe, and he wanted to see it again.

Ever been to Gunnison or Taylor Lake? Oh, my stars! It’s one of the prettiest places on earth.

Here are a few pictures I found online. (Sorry. I wish they were mine.)

This picture is by Michael E. Gordon–

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And this one is from Allison Bruning’s blog. 

allisonbruningIsn’t the lake surrounded by mountains just gorgeous? In case you go to Allison’s blog to read more about Taylor’s Crossing, what you’re reading is mostly fiction. We spent some time in the Taylor Lake area, and there’s nothing remotely scary. All my memories of the place are bright and happy! But if you like paranormal fiction, she has a good blog!

This post is getting a little long, so on TBT I’ll tell you more about our Big Yellowstone Trip.

Have you ever gone on a huge vaca with the whole family?

How did yours turn out?

 

 


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TBT–Granddad’s Garden

Whenever I think about Grandmother and Granddad, there’s usually food involved. Delicious, wonderful, fantastic food.

Grandmother and Granddad

Grandmother and Granddad

One of my first memories is of Granddad Ray’s garden there in Old ‘Ford on the other side of the garage. For as long as I can remember, Granddad always had a garden. Or three. Once, I got in trouble for picking his green tomatoes.

“Honest. All I did was look at the thing and it came off in my hand.” (Not sure they believed it.)

Sometimes in the summertime, we’d get to go to the farm and work with Granddad, and that usually meant we’d go to his garden. That was the best job ever, because Granddad usually took sweet lemonade (actually, a sweet orangy-lemon drink) and we got to eat a watermelon or two if they were ripe. Fresh, warm tomatoes, right off the vine, made lunch delicious!

We lived next door to Grandmother and Granddad in C-Town (and in the same house with them in Old ‘Ford) and had lunch with Grandmother most days.

Grandmother and Granddad, a few years later

Grandmother and Granddad, a few years later

Granddad didn’t just raise lots of food, he shared the veggies with the whole family, and very lucky friends.

I loved it in the spring when he dug new potatoes. Grandmother would boil them, slip off the peels and then fry the whole boiled potatoes! She’d also cook new potatoes in with the green beans Granddad raised. Bacon drippings gave it the best flavor! Spring onions and a bowl of those green beans was a meal that would make your tongue lap your brains out! (That’s a Daddy/Granddad saying.)

Sometimes, Grandmother would fry the mountain of squash that Granddad brought in. She’d cut up a crookneck in thin slices, soak them in salt water, coat them in flour and fry. YUM-MY! Better than potato chips. (Grandma Reeves wouldn’t eat squash because she said it was “poor folks’ food.” Made me glad to be poor!)

 

Notice, there’s a theme here. Fry it or add bacon drippings to it (or fry it in bacon drippings) and no matter what you’re cooking, it’ll taste great! (And your grandchildren will have very happy memories about the time they spent with you.) Might not be the healthiest eats in the world, but it made me feel very loved.

Do you have foody memories of your grandparents? What’s your favorite?

 


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Hap-Hap-Happy Mother’s Day!

It’s Mother’s Day. CELEBRATE! (LOL)

My boys have always been wonderful MD observers. But one of them didn’t always celebrate MY motherhood, as I mentioned in this Mother’s Day Post.  😉

When I was born, my folks lived in an old two story house in the Basin near Old ‘Ford. They always called it, “Aunt Sarah’s House.” For a long time, I didn’t know I had an Aunt Sarah.

Aunt-Sarah

This is Aunt Sarah, who really wasn’t an aunt at all. She was my g-g-granddad’s 2nd wife. She had 357 kids with g-g-granddad Okay, not that many. Actually, it was twelve, but with his three kids from his first marriage, I’m sure it seemed like 357 on some days!

Aunt Sarah was 17 years younger than Grandpa Joe. I’m not sure when Sarah and Joe married, but Mary died in 1881 and Sarah and Joe had their first child in 1883.

They had their last child together in 1901, and Grandpa Joe died in 1903. Sarah then remarried and had another child in 1908. If all her children and step-children had lived (they didn’t) imagine the Mother’s Days Sarah would have had! She should have cleaned up!

EXCEPT: Mother’s Day didn’t start until 1908. Poor woman raised sixteen children with no Mother’s Days to compensate her.

Aunt Sarah’s house had three bedrooms upstairs and one down. I’m not sure where they put everyone. How many kids can sleep in one bed?

No. Running. Water. And yes, the bathroom was outside. Imagine that many people waiting to go! LOL.

 

great-great-grandparentsIn case you’re wondering about her, this Great-Great-Grandma Mary, who died at age 30 before Grandpa Joe came to OkieLand.

When you compare 12 or 15, counting step-children, to only 6, my mama didn’t have that many kiddos. And since I only had three, I’m a real piker! 🙂

I’ve had people ask how a woman could divide her love enough for so many kids.

The answer is, it doesn’t divide. It multiplies. (I learned that at my Mama’s knee!)

How are you celebrating Mother’s Day? Flowers? Lavish gifts? A good book? (I have a suggestion if you need one. *wink*) Inquiring minds!


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Woolly Bully or . . . ?

So, bullying. Yep, a hot topic, especially if you have school aged children. I hate it when someone bigger or older or several people gang up on someone else.

Sometimes I wonder, “Do you know you’re being a bully? Do you think you’re funny???”

(Yeah, bullies are usually that stupid.) My solution?

Ignore them, come over and listen to “Woolly Bully” with me. Honestly, give it time. I can practically guarantee you’ll win in the end.

Kid bullies nearly always end up the same. They’re the ones you see on TV who get interviewed when something happens in your town. They have an average of about one tooth in their mouths (if they have two, they don’t meet up.) They can’t keep a job, and drive cars that barely make it from one stop sign to the next. (And if they don’t end up like that, they should!)

From what I’ve noticed, the TV ads about “don’t be a bully” work about as well as the ones that say, “Don’t do drugs.” Remember?

This is your brain. This is your brain on drugs.  

How about,

This is a normal brain. This pea is the size of a bully’s. 😉

There are all kinds of bullies, especially with all the in-the-air stuff these days.

  • Face-to-face. (Sometimes toe-to-toe with a bloody nose.)
  • Behind your back. (She said, he said, yada yada.)
  • Texted.
  • Facebook and Twitter
  • Cyber.

I had a cyber-bully on my blog for a while. What’s funny is, Bully Boy thought he was anonymous because he used a Blackberry and made up a fake email address each time. Took me about five minutes to check out who was sending them (every phone has an id) and set up a block so they didn’t reach me, then boogie to Woolly Bully.

♪♫ “Hattie told Matty, Let’s don’t take no chance, Let’s don’t be L-seven, Come and learn to dance.” ♪♫

So how do (did?) you handle bullying? And more importantly, how would/do you help kids handle it?

Please share! You could be the solution to today’s biggest problem. (But probably it’s Mr. Sham.)