Susan Spess Shay

Still playing make believe.


What’s Yours?

What do you like to read?

You do read, don’t you? Besides blogs, I mean?

I understand the reason people say blogs got so popular. Supposedly, it’s because they’re short, quick reads. I don’t believe it. At least, that’s not true for me.

For me, it’s because I get a glimpse into someone else’s life. Whether it’s a woman on a ranch who home schools her four kids, a teacher with grown kids, a full time writer, a newbie author or an American who lives in a foreign country, I love peeking into other people’s lives.

Back to what we read. (Sorry about that tangent.) I read romance.

I used to read Louis L’amour. All Louie, all the time! I loved Louie.

Learning about the old west and how people (usually men) survived in that lonely country was so interesting. I learned a lot from him!

After that, I went to historical novels. Did you read, Ride the Wind ? I bought and read the book, but this is from Amazon.

In 1836, when she was nine years old, Cynthia Ann Parker was kidnapped by Comanche Indians. This is the story of how she grew up with them, mastered their ways, married one of their leaders, and became, in every way, a Comanche woman.
It is also the story of a proud and innocent people whose lives pulsed with the very heartbeat of the land. It is the story of a way of life that is gone forever….

The best part of reading about Cynthia Parker was “living” with the indians. (I have to tell you, the men had way more fun than the women!)

After that, I discovered romance.

Did you read Shanna by Kathleen Woodiwiss?

From Amazon:

A pact is sealed in secret behind the foreboding walls of Newgate Prison. In return for a night of unparalleled pleasure, a dashing condemned criminal consents to wed a beautiful heiress, thereby rescuing her with his name from an impending and abhorred arranged union. But in the fading echoes of hollow wedding vows, a solemn promise is broken, as a sensuous free spirit takes flight to a lush Caribbean paradise, abandoning the stranger she married to face the
gallows unfulfilled.

But Ruark Beauchamp’s destiny is now eternally intertwined with that of the tempestuous, intoxicating Shanna. He will be free . . . and he will find her. For no iron ever forged can imprison his resolute passion. And no hangman’s noose will deny Ruark the ecstasy that is rightfully his.

It’s been a hundred years since I read it, but I remember Shanna as a pirate story. LOL. Go figure.

After Shanna I found Bertrice Small’s Skye O’Malley. Whoa! That’s some book!

And my all time favorite, Lady of Fire by Valerie Vayle.

Nobody I’ve ever met read Lady of Fire.

If they did read it, they must have quickly forgotten it. But I didn’t.

It’s the story of a girl who’s just out of convent school. At the beginning, her mother dies just before their ship wrecks and the heroine wakes up to find herself alone on an island. After a day or two, a man who was also in the ship wreck shows up. She falls in love with him, but he doesn’t even remember her name.

As her mother was dying, she told our heroine her father was murdered while working for the government, and the heroine decides to find out who did it. She makes herself over into an independent woman who can swing a sword with the best of pirates.

It’s a long book, but in the end, the hero and heroine fall in love and, naturally, live HEA. (Happily ever after.)

Yeah, I know. A big time fantasy, and I loved it.

The writing probably isn’t the best and much of what she does would probably be found humorous today, but at the time I read it, it was perfect for me! (I once read an interview with one of the authors–yes, Valerie Vayle was actually a pair of writers–and she laughed about the book.)

After that, I knew romance was what I wanted to read. And write. Not about pirates (although there are some great pirate books) but because in a romance, whether it’s Christian Women’s Fiction or Romantic Suspense or Historical Romance, you experience the emotions of the POV characters. You get to live the story through them.

And there’s always a HEA.

What could be better than that?

So what’s your favorite read? Or do you just read a certain author?

If you need a suggestion, let me know. I can help. 🙂


Rhyme a Crime?

Have you had much poetry in your life? I’m not sure every rhyme that has been part of my world should be designated “poetry” but I think of it that way. Ü

Nearly every morning when I was growing up, Grandmother and Granddad would come next door and chat with us while we had breakfast. I don’t remember how the habit got started, but we loved it.

Dad and Granddad would talk about work that needed to be done in the family business, Grandmother would catch up on what all the kids were doing and the kids would enjoy some grandparent time.

If it was summertime and one of us kids stumbled to the table a little late, Grandmother would quote,

“Good morning, Mary Sunshine! What made you wake so soon? You scared away the little stars And shined away the moon.”

A few years later when my #1 son was born, Mom used to quote a poem to him.

“Little Danny Donkey didn’t like to wash his ears. At breakfast every morning Danny’s mother sent him back to do his washing over ’cause his ears were simply black!

“They say he’s doing better now, and oh! I hope it’s true.”

Mom had trouble remembering one word in the last sentence–

“I’d hate to be so **** and so naughty, wouldn’t you?”

(If you know what that miss word is, please let me know.)

Dad had a couple of poems he’d quote to us. I planned to look up one but I can’t find it.

It started out, “Comanches on the hilltop, six trappers on the plain. A cut and a slash with our skinning knives and our saddle mules lie slain.”

That’s not perfect or I should be able to find it on Google. 😦 It’s by a man whose last name started with V. Vestre, I’m thinking. *sigh*

Dad used to “quote” (paraphrase would be a better term) another poem. When we were trying to get out the door to go some place (with six kids, it’s never easy to get everyone ready and out the door on time) he’d say,

“So lets be up and doing with a heart for any fate! Still achieving, still pursuing, learn to labor and to wait!”

If we were in a real hurry, he’d shout,

Let’s be up and doing!”

I never really thought about where the quote (paraphrase) came from until a minister quoted from it at my mother’s funeral. (Actually, it was my mother’s, grandmother’s, aunt’s and two nieces’ funeral.)

Because this preacher wasn’t part of our household, I seriously doubt he knew Dad quoted the poem to us. I think it was one of those times when God was speaking to us. Reminding us that He was there when we were kids at home, He was there when the tragedy happened, and He is here, now.

It’s by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow


Tell me not, in mournful numbers,
Life is but an empty dream!
For the soul is dead that slumbers,
And things are not what they seem.

Life is real! Life is earnest!
And the grave is not its goal;
Dust thou art, to dust returnest,
Was not spoken of the soul.

Not enjoyment, and not sorrow,
Is our destined end or way;
But to act, that each to-morrow
Find us farther than to-day.

Art is long, and Time is fleeting,
And our hearts, though stout and brave,
Still, like muffled drums, are beating
Funeral marches to the grave.

In the world’s broad field of battle,
In the bivouac of Life,
Be not like dumb, driven cattle!
Be a hero in the strife!

Trust no Future, howe’er pleasant!
Let the dead Past bury its dead!
Act,–act in the living Present!
Heart within, and God o’erhead!

Lives of great men all remind us
We can make our lives sublime,
And, departing, leave behind us
Footprints on the sands of time;–

Footprints, that perhaps another,
Sailing o’er life’s solemn main,
A forlorn and shipwrecked brother,
Seeing, shall take heart again.

Let us, then, be up and doing,
With a heart for any fate;
Still achieving, still pursuing,
Learn to labor and to wait.

Henry Long Fellow

What Dad “quoted”  was from poems he had to memorize as a kid. If I remember right, kids had to memorize so many lines before they could go from one grade to the next.

That isn’t part of the curriculum anymore. I have to wonder why, though. The memory is strengthened like a muscle. The more you do, the more you can do.

Sometimes we find the old ways are best. This might be one of those times. After all, Alzheimer’s Disease didn’t seem as rampant back then!