Susan Spess Shay

Still playing make believe.

Grist Mill


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Fall Tripping

Recognize this?

My favorite time to take a road trip is autumn. (Big surprise, huh?) We invited our kids and their honeys to join us over the weekend. (I had lofty dreams of taking family photos, too.) It didn’t work out the way I wanted.

#3 son had another commitment, #2 son couldn’t come until Saturday, and his wife couldn’t come at all, but #2 son and his wife were there. We had a great time!

I love hanging with someone who has great taste.

We saw some beautiful foliage. Have I mentioned I like fall leaves?

BEE–

–YOU–

–TIFUL!!!

Most of you probably know, I’m talking about Wareagle. So many great ideas. So many I want thats! (So many, “I can do thats!”)

Wareagle developed around a grist mill. (That’s the water wheel that turns the millstone inside.) There’s a restaurant in the top of the mill, but we never get close to it during the craft fair. It’s much too crowded. After all, it’s been going on for 59 years!

It’s set in a gorgeous landscape. I love this river.

 There’s an old one-lane bridge that crosses it. The fair is on both sides, and so much fun!

Of course, there were a few things I thought were just too cute to ignore.

Anyone have a spare horseshoe I can borrow?

By the end of a day at Wareagle, I’m always exhausted. But by next year, I’ll be ready to go again. 😛

I’ve talked since the last time we went to Wareagle about the witch’s brooms nearly all the women (besides me) were carrying. G-Man insisted I buy one this time. (I’ll be adding a bat to fly nearby, and maybe a spider.) When we got it, he suggested I fly it to the car. 🙂

I told him I would, except we didn’t have a long enough extension cord.

I bought this doll from Polka Dot Pig. Trouble is, she doesn’t have a name.

 Want to help me name her?

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We Hit a Bonanza!

Oh, my stars! We had so much fun yesterday. We met Butch, Sundance, the guys from “Cowboys and Aliens” and Ed Harris! Actually, WE didn’t meet them, but we met people who not only met them, they worked with them.

I knew my friend, Cathy Carmichael Johns, had been to Santa Fe a few times, so I asked her what we should do while we’re here. She told us, “Bonanza Creek Ranch is not to be missed!” so first thing we did yesterday morning was drive out to BCR. We pulled into the ranch house. It looked like we might be in the wrong place, so we didn’t stop but instead pullout back out and drove down the road a little ways.

The owner’s name and phone number was on a sign by this locked gate, so I tried to give her a call. While my phone was ringing, she pulled in next to us!

Imogene Hughes is so nice! Naturally. She was born in Okie-Land, so how could she be anything else?

When she pulled in, I laughed and asked, “Are you Imogene?” We had a great talk, then she called a guy who works for her and asked him to give us a tour. He seemed more than happy to take us around.

And guess what! Remember Cholo in Lonesome Dove? That was him!!! His real name is Jack Caffrey, and he gave G-Man and me a tour of Bonanza Creek Ranch, where lots of movies are made.

This is Jack–aka Cholo. He’s an actor with a bunch of credits and an agent! What a nice man. I asked a ton of questions (big surprise) and he kept saying, “It’s isn’t real. Remember, it was just a movie.

He showed us Clara’s house on Lonesome Dove. And the pond where they had the picnic. And the barn and corral. I’m telling you, it was cool!

We walked on the street where the aliens attacked the town in “Cowboys and Aliens.” (It was SO COOL!)

 Picture from the Bonanza Creek Ranch website.

We went into the barn from “The Astronaut Farmer“. We saw where they made the new “3:10 to Yuma“. They also made parts of “John Carpenter’s Vampires” on her ranch.

When we got back, we walked to the Plaza and looked in windows and at gorgeous Indian jewelry. Want to talk about a group of talented people. Oh, my stars! Today I’m going back to buy some.

Maybe. 🙂

Have you been to Santa Fe? What was your favorite part?


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Plethora Cringe

Let me preface today’s post by telling you it’s written tongue-in-cheek. (Since I’m writing this instead of speaking about it, would that be thumb-in-cheek?) Although the word makes me cringe, I promise I won’t pummel anyone who uses it. Very much.

There are few words I won’t use when writing (if I can help it.) Most of them are vulgar.

Today’s word, though, isn’t vulgar. At least a vulgar word has its uses–to shock or startle the reader or to show the character of the person using the word.

Today’s word is just useless. I mean, come on. It’s a stupid word. Okay, maybe not a stupid word, but an unnecessary one.

Today’s word? Plethora. (Bet you saw that one coming.)

According to Dictionary.com–

noun–overabundance; excess: a plethora of advice and a paucity of assistance.

There are tons of much better words to use instead of plethora. Try deluge, flood, glut, many, much, overabundance, overflow, overkill, overmuch, plenty, profusion, superabundance, superfluity, surfeit or surplus.

Usually “a lot” will do the trick.

Yeah, yeah, I know. There’s an unwritten law that says all newby writers must use plethora somewhere in their work. Even if it’s never published. Even if it causes critique partners to scream and run the other way. Even if it makes the hair stand up on my neck and my ears bleed.

Much to my shame, I have used it myself, in one of my first manuscripts. (Hangs head.) I had my heroine, whose name I can’t remember, walk into a house, look around and see a plethora of doilies.

Continue reading


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The Secret to Success

Pacejka Magic Formula Curve

Image via Wikipedia

Today is my Romance Writers Ink meeting. First one of the year! Chuck Sasser is our speaker (thanks Linda T for asking him!) and I can’t wait to hear his program.

I look forward each month to our meeting. Love those women at RWI! When we’re all talking about what’s going on in the writing world, the noise level can get a little loud.

That’s a good thing!

I can’t wait to catch up.

I try to be encouraging to the newer members. Especially those who’ve submitted to critique. It’s hard to put your work out there. You have to let others, who may not know as much as you, tell you what’s wrong with it without arguing. And they’re usually right. Ouch!

Then you have to smile and say thanks!

Writing isn’t easy, even though everyone who made it through first grade can do it. To be a real writer you have to work at it a lot! (I do, anyway.)

I’ve noticed over the years how easy it is for people to get discouraged and quit.

Many who join a writers’ group tend to think they’ve got writing figured out. Most of them know way more than I did when I started! (Probably more than I do now. LOL)

But there’s more to it than just getting the grammar right or getting a story on paper. There’s no magic formula, no matter what the big boys say.

For most of us, it’s not something you can toss off on a weekend and send out in the mail on Monday morning to make a truck load of money. (Although you’ll hear stories about “my friend who did.”)

Very few people get rich writing, but there are those who make a nice living. Not a lot, but some. 🙂

I know the secret to success. (In addition to learning all you can and putting yourself in the best position you can.) Whether you want to be a writer, an artist or even a dentist.

Here’s the secret:

Keeptoitness. (Yep, that’s a Susan word.)

The-little-engine-that-could action. Tenacity. The ability to keep working at something, even when you’ve failed again and again, and you don’t know why you have to keep trying.

But you do. You have to. And you will.

If the writing is honest it cannot be separated from the man who wrote it. — Tennessee Williams 


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Secrets

I love writing. It’s one of my favorite things to do. 🙂

I figure it stems from all those years of pretend when I was a kid. I never was a big one for games. Although I played, and enjoyed, a lot of them, I could live without them.

But not without “play like”. It just wasn’t in me. If I climbed a tree with a bunch of kids, I was ready to turn that tree into apartments and make up a story about living there. If we played in a car, we were taking a road trip to California. (I still have never been there, although I’d love to go sometime.)

As an adult during lulls in life, I often find myself making up stories–either about the people around me or my destination.

Once when my man and I lived in Punkin Center, we went to eat at a restaurant several miles out of town, nearly to the Kansas border. While we were eating, I noticed a table of three people, a man and two women.

Maybe it was the location of the restaurant (there was nothing else around for miles but farm land) or the different ethnicity of those three, but I had quite a story made up in my head about them. Talk about exciting! (Drug trafficking? International spy ring?)

When we got up to leave one of the women, who was very pretty and slender with her hair cut in the latest style, started shout-whispering my husband’s name. “Gary! Gary!”

Poor guy didn’t hear a thing, but I did. “I think someone is talking to you.”

Turns out, sadly, she was a girl he went to high school with, who’d moved to PC to work at a large oil company. My story for her life was a lot more fun. LOL.

As much as I like to write, I like reading even better!

I love books–the ones made of paper AND the digital ones. I get so excited when a new book by an author I enjoy comes out.

And one of those authors is Marilyn Pappano, who writes for Harlequin. Her most recent book was called, “Copper Lake Secrets” and with me it’s a big hit!

   From Amazon

Marilyn has a writing style that’s unique. Her words flow as smooth as honey, and while she’s pouring visions into your head, she smacks you with emotions that will make you laugh out loud, cry real tears or want to punch the guy in the book. Hard!

Unlike some authors, Marilyn doesn’t start this hero and heroine out disliking each other. The conflict in the story comes from within the character (like real life!) and, for most of the book, seems insurmountable.

There is a ghost in the book, but I view it as a tool Marilyn uses to give her book an interesting twist.

If you haven’t read “Secrets” order it now. It’s a fantastic read from a wonderful author and a darn nice lady.


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Killer Christmas Party

I’m always so excited about my writers’ group’s Christmas party. I’m a member of Romance Writers Ink; we meet on the 2nd Saturday of each month. Usually at OSU-Tulsa.

On the 2nd Saturday of December, though, we meet at our VP, Kathlyn Smith’s house. The place is beautiful (I’ve offered to move in, but she hasn’t taken me up on the offer) and is right on a golf course. (I’d even learn to play golf if that was a requirement.)

Since C-Town is west of T-Town, I live as opposite of Kathlyn as I possibly can. My excitement builds the whole way in.

This year I got up early, as usual, but instead of blogging or writing, I made Cashew Caramel Corn as my offering for the party. My ornaments for the Dirty Santa game were wrapped. (I took two cute sparkly balls from Celebrations. One said, “Naughty,” the other said, “Nice.”)

I was ready to go!

So I headed to T-Town and everything was fine. We had a great meal. (In case you haven’t heard, writers are wonderful cooks!) We feasted on fantastic desserts. (Baklava! Peach Cobbler! Yummy!!!)

We chatted a lot. Anytime you’re with a group of like-minded people, don’t you have a ton to talk about? Writers are no exception. We talked. And talked.

And we have a new member I’d never met (Hi other Susan!) so I got to know her  a little bit.

Marilyn and I found a prime place to sit near the wrapped ornaments and were catching up a little bit, when it hit me. Hard.

The super-duper monster stomach virus. ♫♪ Duh! Duh! Duuuuuhm! ♫♪ (That’s scary music.)

And, man. I hate that. Heavy-duty antibiotics + a 24 hour virus = disaster.

So for the rest of the party, I was, well, indisposed. 😛

Finally I lifted my head enough to realize I was holding up the party, so I sent Marilyn a text message to play Dirty Santa for me.

As soon as I stopped hyperventilating and thought I had a window of opportunity big enough to make it all the way home, I hit the road. I zig-zagged across T-Town (don’t you love the road work going on?) and by the time I hit 412, I was flying. (Either the men with badges were having a Christmas Party, too, or I was plain lucky.)

After driving for what seemed like nine years and six months, I pulled into my driveway and jumped out of my car (kind of like a calf roper gets off his horse while it’s skidding to a stop) and dashed for the house. I made it to, but just in the nick of time.

I have my fingers crossed that my prob was caused totally by the antibiotic and wasn’t an “I- wanna-go-to-her-house-too” illness, because I do not want to face a bunch of irritated writers at the next meeting if I gifted them with that.

😉


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Just a Whisper

I mentioned that I’m a finalist in Where the Magic Begins, didn’t I? Like, maybe a thousand times? 😉 I’m entered in an unpublished contest because this is a different category than I’ve written in before.

The category is Sweet Contemporary, which for me means Christian Women’s Fiction or Inspirational. In the past, I’ve always written Single Title or Sensual Contempory. The difference is a real eye opener.

Why did I change?

Last November, I entered NaNoWriMo, and it had a real effect on me.

From Wikipedia–National Novel Writing Month –also known as NaNoWriMo /ˌnænoʊˈraɪmoʊ/– is an annual internet-based creative writing project which challenges participants to write 50,000 words of a new novel in one month.

I was writing along on a project, and not a bad one, and doing really well. I’d figured how many words a day I had to write to get the book finished by the end of the month, then I wrote more than that. I was ahead of the game, when a still, small whisper of a thought came to me.

The more I worked, the louder that whisper became until there was a deafening din inside me every morning when I got up to write.

THIS IS NOT YOU! IT’S NOT WHO YOU ARE. IT’S NOT THE LEGACY YOU WANT TO LEAVE BEHIND.

The thought was right. It wasn’t me. From what I understood to be the rules of the road for that type of book, my characters couldn’t live their lives the way I try to live mine. They couldn’t pray (very much, anyway) about problems, spend time in the Word or practice the presence of God. So I stopped working on that book. I doubt I’ll finish it.

The book I entered in the contest is my first attempt at Christian Women’s Fiction. We’ll see how it goes.

If you’d like to read the first little bit, here it is–

Cleveland Ave in downtown Loveland, CO

Image via Wikipedia

Chapter One

Since when did kindergarteners throw such a mean elbow? Dr. Joe Gardner sidestepped the blow aimed at his diaphragm. The child’s piercing cry as he squirmed on the table was impossible to block, but fear caused it. Not pain.

 Edna Thornton, the head nurse who kept the Loveland, Colorado Children’s Hospital running, took over. “Get Miss Sara.”

Joe shot Edna a furious glance. “What are you—” Pain exploded between his legs, sickening him to his gut as the kid’s heels connected a solid blow. Fighting the urge to collapse on the floor, curl in a fetal position and vomit up his breakfast, he leaned against the equipment cabinet and tried to breathe.

As his vision cleared, he stared at the nurse. “What . . . ” Just that word sent pain radiating again. Swallowing hard, he drew a slow breath. “Why did you send—?”

Eyes snapping, she frowned.  “Typical doctor. Her name is Sara Charles and she does more good than most doctors.”

He’d return her look if he could only stop hunching over, but he’d learned not to glare from an inferior position a long time ago. Nurses would run over you. And being the new guy at the hospital, he couldn’t afford that.

But it hurt so darn much. He closed his eyes and, taking a breath, he straightened the knee he’d cocked too slowly to block the boy’s kick and forced his back erect. And when he opened his eyes, an angel walked into the room.

Trauma there causes hallucinations? He blinked hard and looked again.

The woman’s gaze settled on him, dismissed him as insignificant, then focused elsewhere. Her dark hair—or was it red?—was drawn back to a low ponytail. Slender, but not painfully so, she had a figure that at one time would have made him drool.

Before.

The woman had a quick, quiet conversation with Edna, then turned to the little boy, now curled up on the table. Probably exhausted from his winning bout with Joe.

There you go.

Will I be able to sell it? I don’t know, but I hope so. I do know if it’s God’s will, I absolutely will. Guess I’ll just have to wait and see. 😉