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.

Linda-Trout-Promo-2

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.

LastHopeAlaska

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.) 😀

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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♥ 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.

Marilyn-and-her-guy

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? 😀

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.) 😀

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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Phobia Lane

My Phobia:

I think I mentioned yesterday I’d had some toothy dilemmas in the past few days. To be very honest, I’m a denta-phobic. But I come by it honestly.

When I was a little kid (like five or six) my jaw teeth abscessed. All of them.

According to my mom, that wasn’t my fault. It was hers for not taking her calcium because it made her sick when she was preggers with me. (I like that reason.)

She took me to a dentist in a nearby Small Town World, and without telling her what he was going to do, the dentist pulled two of my teeth. The man apparently hadn’t learned yet that you shouldn’t make a mama mad.

Naturally, Mom took me to a children’s specialist.

Mistake #1.  (I think this guy was a child’s specialist because he was bigger than we were.)

This guy told her he was going to have to pull the rest of my jaw teeth. And he told her IN FRONT OF ME!

Mistake #2.

But those two mistakes weren’t what made me a denta-phobic. It was because this New Dentist would give me the shot to deaden doomed teeth, then pull them BEFORE the shot took effect. I can tell you in two words how that felt.

IT HURT!!!

After my first trip to visit New Dentist, I did not want to go back. Ever! I didn’t care how bad my teeth hurt.

Then one day Sister Debbie and I were playing on the front porch and she said she was going to go to the farm with Granddad Ray.

Now I loved going to the farm! Cousins lived there. Sparky lived there. And Granddad’s garden (full of watermelons) was there.

“I want to go,” I told her.

“You can’t,” she answered me. “You have to go get your toofus pulled.”

My stomach hit the concrete steps. Get my toofus–I mean tooth–pulled? While Sister Debbie got to go to the farm? Noooooo!

My parent’s plan to take me to have two teeth extracted as a surprise failed. (IOW–Sister Debbie spilled the beans.)

But it wasn’t all bad. The last two tooth-pulling visits, my daddy took me. Only me. No one else to share his attention. (As one of six kiddos, that sparkles in my memory. You know?)

And after the excruciating experience of having my non-deadened teeth pulled, we got to eat in my favorite place–Danner’s Cafeteria.

Naturally, I got 4F–fried fish and French fries. My faves! And for dessert, I probably got watermelon. Or Pineapple Upside-Down Cake.

But I couldn’t eat my fish because my gums, torn open by the extractions, hurt too much.

Daddy watched me order and he didn’t say a word, but he oh, so wisely ordered baked halibut. And when I couldn’t chew mine, we traded.

I’m still amazed at how very smart my dad was for such a young guy. (About 26 at the time.)

After lunch, Dad took me to see a movie.

We did the Daddy-Daughter thing for the last two pairs of extractions, so we saw two movies. One was Raintree County. I didn’t understand most of it, but it had Liz Taylor in it, and Daddy loved watching her, so I enjoyed every moment of it.

I’m not sure what the other flick was, but I think it was High Noon or something like it. Apparently there were no John Wayne movies out right then or we would have gone to see him.

The same dentist filled a couple of my teeth, and no, he didn’t use Novocain. He said the cavities were so small, I’d never feel him drilling.

I have news for him. I felt it!

I have to feel a little sorry for this dentist. Before my cousin Joanie told her mom how mean he was (very!) and we all quit going to him, he had a few unpleasant experiences with me.

I bit him (accidentally, of course. He had fat fingers.) threw up on him and I passed out. I have a feeling Joanie did worse. (As the only girl and youngest of four kids, she was always good at pay back.)

Dental Dude: (aka–phobia fixer)

Happily, Dental Dude (my dentist now) is nothing like that dentist was.

He’s interested in everything and asks lots of questions. (The only problem is when he has both hands in my mouth, it’s  a little hard to answer.)

And he works very hard not to hurt me. VERY. HARD. (I keep hoping he’s afraid of me, but I haven’t noticed any signs of it.)

DD is interesting. Even though he hurt both of his knees a few years ago (a great excuse to quit exercising in anyone’s book) he enters triathlons anytime there’s one close. And he trains all the time.

He runs miles and miles. And bikes miles and miles. And he swims miles and miles. IN! OUR! LAKE!

Our Small Town World Lake is formed from damming the Arkansas and Cimarron Rivers, and the Cimarron carries a ton of dirt it picked up on the way to our world, so this isn’t a clear lake by any means. But he likes to swim in it because the pool in his neighborhood is too small to get much swimming done.

He mentioned his nose itches for a day or two after he swims. (His helper suggested he wear a nose plug to stop that from happening. I would have recommended a different lake.)

Last week:

When he couldn’t glue my tooth back together (still wondering WHY, but I have a feeling it has to do with boring stuff that would make my brain go numb) he had to pull that piece.

I flashed right back and became six-year-old Susan. “Noooo!”

But it hurt too much to leave broken like that. I was determined he was going to make it NUMB before he pulled it out.

“It’s like a baby tooth,” he told me. “Just hanging there, ready to come out.”

“I cried when they pulled my baby teeth.” I answered grimly. “Give that numbing stuff time to work before you yank on it.”

“This numbing stuff is instantaneous.” He’s so patient with me. Nice guy. “It doesn’t need time.”

“But I can still feel my tooth.”

After a couple of more shots, he easily pulled it.

Did I feel silly for making such a fuss?

Nope. I’m entitled to the fuss.

How about y’all? Any of you guys have denta-phobias?

Care to share?

 


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Secret Prayer Sister

I have this thing God started putting on my heart many, many years ago. It’s a prayer thing.praying hands at oral roberts  3

Kind of hard to explain.

When I went to college, we had Secret Sisters. One person you bought gifts for, sent notes to, left little treats for, that kind of thing. I loved knowing that one person kept me in mind. (The best SS did special things all the time, not just on holidays.)

And sometimes you found that, during the time that person was your SS, she’d come to be your really good friend. (The best gift she could give . . . her friendship.)

Another thing that shines in my life have been my Prayer Partners. With four sisters and a brother who are all very strong Christians, I have built in prayer partners. These great people of God just love to pray for others. And, yes! He answers prayers. 🙂

Sisters

But when we moved to Pryor Creek, my sibs were an hour and a half away and since it was before cell phones and free long distance (kind of) I didn’t talk to them all the time.

When we moved into that town of strangers (well, I knew the preacher and his wife, but that was it) I started asking God for PPs.

Like I said, God answers prayers, and He answered that prayer in a Big Way. He sent me a pair of prayers you wouldn’t believe. Becki and Judy are Wonderful Women of God. The kind that you would have read about in the scriptures if they’d been around in Jesus’s time.

Bible Study 1

Anyway, those two things came together–Secret Sisters and Prayer Partners became Secret Prayer Sisters (or Sibling, as the case may be.) God put a person in my path and somehow, He impressed on me (’cause He doesn’t speak to me out loud. No burning bushes thus far in my life.) that I needed to pray for that person. Not just once, and not just for a little while. I needed to pray for them for a year.

The first couple of women I felt led to pray for, I sent a card to and told them I would be lifting them up for the next year. I intended to do other special little things for her like a SS, but . . .  I didn’t. 😦 And I intended to send a note at the end of the year and tell them who I was.

I didn’t do that, either.

I did pray, though. Funny thing is, when I start praying for a person like that, I usually forget to quit. I’ve had several SPS over the years. Some I’ve prayed for shorter seasons. And some I’ve prayed for, for years.

And there are times when I don’t feel led to have a Secret Prayer Sister.

Yesterday, I felt as if God was leading me to pray for a new person–but this time, it different. This person doesn’t have big problems in her life. (Some of the women I’ve prayed for have had huge, Goliath sized problems.) This young woman is beautiful and talented and well off. (Those are often things I pray about.)

If you met her and just saw what is visible to the world, you’d think she had life by the tail. But she doesn’t. Far from it, in fact.

Something happened this week, and I inadvertently got a glimpse. She didn’t mean for it to happen, I’m sure. Just a short sentence she tossed out, but it grabbed me by the heart.

So I have a new SPS. (This one could be a Secret Prayer Granddaughter, but we won’t go there.) As usual, I’m not sure how long I’ll be praying for her, but I have a feeling it’ll be for a long time.

Now I have a question for you–Does God put special people on your heart? Do you tell them? Do you send a note and tell them you’re praying or do you keep it a secret, just between you and God?


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Hooray! May Day! Today!

Spring is OFFICIALLY here. May Day. Did you ever leave flowers on anybody’s door and run away for May Day? We did when we were little. (Usually a school thing. “Make this flower “pocket” so you can hang it on someone’s door and surprise them.” Remember?)

Mama always suggested we leave it on someone’s door who was elderly. I think she liked to think about them finding the flowers unexpectedly.

Okay, that has nothing to do with what I’m talking about today. I just didn’t want you to think I forgot what day it is. 🙂

I watched a video this morning that spoke so loudly to me, it was practically yelling.

It’s Beth Moore’s weekly Bible Study, WEDNESDAYS WITH BETH, which is on Life Today each Wednesday. (Except when it’s not.) Today’s was called If and Then. Now let me say, Beth has such a heart for God that all her BS (Bible Studies–not, well, never mind) are great. But this one had my name on it. I wonder if it has yours, too.

Please take the time and watch it. If you don’t have the full thirty or so minutes it’ll take, you can kind of skip over the part where James and Betty Robinson are talking. (Don’t tell them I said that, but Beth’s message is the thing here. You know?)

Anyway, watch it when you can give it your attention. (Use ear buds if you need to. 🙂 ) I really think you’ll be blessed. Then come back over here and tell me what you think.

http://lifetoday.org/video//?search=Beth+Moore

Oh, and Happy May Day. (Anybody know what May Day celebrates?)

 

 


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Even If You Can’t Swim

I have a new hero. Her name was Irena Sendlerowa, better known as Irena Sendler. She died in 2008 at the age of 98, but that’s not the reason she’s my new hero. (Although I’m hoping to emulate her in that respect.)

Here’s why she’s my hero–

 

I read this on Facebook:

During WWII, Irena, got permission to work in the Warsaw ghetto, as a plumbing/sewer specialist.
She had an ‘ulterior motive’.

She KNEW what the Nazi’s plans were for the Jews (being German). Irena smuggled infants out in the bottom of the tool box she carried and she carried in the back of her truck a burlap sack, (for larger kids).  She also had a dog in the back that she trained to bark when the Nazi soldiers let her in and out of the ghetto.  The soldiers of course wanted nothing to do with the dog and the barking covered the kids/infants noises.

During her time of doing this, she managed to smuggle out and save 2500 kids/infants.  She was caught, and the Nazi’s broke both her legs, arms and beat her severely. Irena kept a record of the names of all the kids she smuggled out and kept them in a glass jar, buried under a tree in her back yard.

After the war, she tried to locate any parents that may have survived it and reunited the family. Most had been gassed. Those kids she helped got placed into foster family homes or adopted.
Irena was up for the Nobel Peace Prize. She didn’t win.

So naturally, I went to  Snopes to see if they were telling the truth. I hate it when I read something as exciting as that and then find out it’s not true.

Don’t you?

Read it here on Snopes.

I did a Google search and found a website that told about a group of Kansas high school students had researched her life and written a play about her. (I had trouble telling G-Man about Irena–couldn’t talk for crying. I’m not sure how they could get through the play without crying their eyes out.)

From Wikipedia:

In 1999, a group of Kansas high school students discovered Irena’s story and wrote a play about her called, Life in a Jar. The play is still being performed all over the United States. It has since been adapted to television as The Courageous Heart of Irena Sendler.[19][20][21] Actress Anna Paquin plays the role of Irena.

Sendler’s story was largely unknown to the world until the students developed The Irena Sendler Project,[22][23] producing their performance Life in a Jar. This student-produced drama has now been performed over 285 times all across the United States, in Canada and in Poland. Sendler’s message of love and respect has grown through the performances, over 1,500 media stories, a student-developed website with 30,000,000 hits, a national teaching award in Poland and the United States, and an educational foundation, the Lowell Milken Education Center, to make Sendler’s story known to the world.

Life in a Jar continues to travel around the country[24] sharing Irena’s story.

According to the website telling about the play, Life in a Jar, Irena’s father was a physician who contacted typhus working with patients during an epidemic.

While he was dying, he told seven-year-old Irena, “If you see someone drowning, you must try to save them, even if you can’t swim.” He died right after that, but the little girl never forgot his actions or his words. He gave his life for others.

She lived her life for others. (Sound like anyone you know?)

If I were a teacher, I’d see if I could find The Courage Life of Irena Sendler and I’d show it to every child in every class I taught.

In this day when so many parents are busy, trying to keep their heads above water, sometimes they forget to tell their kids the things they need to know. That leaves the people who teach them and spend time with them each day to set the example. Tell them the things their parents don’t, even if they can’t put always put it in words.

This play might be a way.

Wonder if we could get Life in a Jar to come to C-Town?

Gotta go dry my eyes now.