Susan Spess Shay

Still playing make believe.


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Imagination Station

Have I ever mentioned what a weird imagination I have? It’s s-t-r-a-n-g-e.

To start at the beginning of what I’m talking about, I’ll have to rewind a ways. A few years ago, I decided to write a book about a werewolf. (It’s called MAKE ME HOWL.) But I didn’t want a normal, doom and gloom, dark and terrible werewolf. I wanted a fun, cute, funny werewolf.

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So I did what every fiction writer has to do, no matter what genre she’s writing. I created my own world.

For a while I called it ChickWolf-Lit. Jazzy (my heroine) is a fashion consultant who also happens to be a werewolf. She has the gene, so she was born that way. (Her maternal grandmother was a werewolf, too.)

And since the time she was potty trained, she’s been able to keep from going “animal” most of the time. Even a full moon doesn’t bother her.

The only time she accidently goes “wild” is when she’s out of control. She can shift whenever she wants to, though.

She has a twin sister. The two of them have their own “twin speak” which is telepathic, but it gives Jazzy a grinding headache when they use it.

Here’s a little problem I have. My characters in my books are real to me. (I spend so much time with them, they’re like family.)

There’s one thing I discovered in my world: the gene that causes people to be shape shifters turns them into wolves.

♥ ♥ ♥

A few days ago I joined a paranormal group on Facebook. Most of them are writers, and let me tell you, every one has an imagination to match (or outshine) mine.

So I got to thinking . . . what if several shape shifting writers were in a room together. There would be women in pjs and furry slippers (those who don’t have day jobs) women in business suits (they have high powered jobs and write on the side) women dressed in filmy scarves in wild colors with pink hair (who think big-name authors should look like that) and the rest in jeans and t-shirts. (My uniform of choice.)

Can you see us on couches, in chairs, sitting on the floor and leaning against the wall? And drinks? Yeah, we’d have them. Coffee, Diet Dr. Pepper, wine . . . everyone would bring their own poison. 🙂 (Jazzy and I are DDP girls.)

So all of us are sitting there together, and we get to talking about the shapes our characters change into. The Jazzy in me laughs hysterically.

“You guys must be writing cartoon shape shifters,” she says between gasps and giggles. “Because REAL shape shifters change into werewolves.”

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“Your kind of shape shifters come from a virus that results in a bite from an out-of-control werewolf who’s born with the gene. (My apologies to other shape shifting authors. Once my world is twirling, there’s no stopping it.) “So they have to be werewolves!”

“NO WAY!!!” The bejeweled, bangled, pajama-ed, scarved t-shirted, blue jeaned and pink haired women jump on me.

“I didn’t say that. Jazzy did!” I squeak, trying to be heard.

“Well, give her this from us!” Smack in my eye.

And the battle is on.

♥ ♥ ♥

LOL! This post has gone on much longer and gotten even weirder than I intended.

Does your mind ever get away from you like that? Mine does it all the time because I get to thinking how everyone imagines everything differently. The animals shifters change into, where they come from, how much control they have, everything.

That’s what makes reading so much fun!

BTW: After the battle? Do I imagine myself standing on the heap, hands joined over my head in triumph?

No. Way. (And it’s not pretty.)

Jazzy had a good time, though.

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PUB DATE! I HAVE A PUB DATE!!!!

GUESS WHAT!

I received my pub date from my publisher. (Did the blog title give it away?)

Make Me Howl is going to be available on November 15, 2013!

 

HOWL!

I’m just a little(!) bit excited. *grins* Can you tell?

MakeMeHowl_w7696_750-(4)I’m going to try to set up a Facebook page for Howl. (I think.) 🙂 If I do, I’ll need all my friends out there to like it. Well, the ones who read werewolf books.

All three of you. 🙂

In case you’re wondering, HOWL isn’t an inspirational. 😉 It’s the last book I wrote before I started trying inspirational. I’m still waiting to hear back on my first try with that genre. The tentative title is Texas Hearts. Prayers about that would be appreciated!

Okay, wait. I’m asking for prayers for God’s will with my writing, not that TH will sell. Although I’d love, love, love to write for the Lord, I really want to be solidly in His will.

Oh, and if you like werewolf books, HOWL is acomin’!

It’s not your normal werewolf book.

 


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Just Wolfing

Katimik, a former inhabitant of Mission: Wolf ...

My mama used to say, “You’re not just wolfin!” That meant, she agreed whole heartedly with whatever you’d said. I have no idea where the saying came from. (Anyone?)

I sent a story off to The Wild Rose Press where I am just wolfing. I call the book, “Make Me Howl”. It’s about a woman who was born a werewolf. (Yeah, I know. I’m writing Inspirational now. But I figure I have this book just sitting in my computer. Might as well see if it’s any good.)

“Make Me Howl” is a light paranormal, with a different twist on what a werewolf actually is. My heroine, Jazzy Cannis, was born with an active werewolf gene, lives in Dallas and is a fashion consultant and personal shopper.  She says being a werewolf gives her “A biting sense of humor and a killer sense of style, so it’s all good.”

She lives with her twin sister, Bella, who got stuck with the gene for straight-as-a-stick hair, so everything evens out in the end. Bella is a veteranarian at a drive-through zoo, and works with fellow veteranarian Chase Holliday. (Yep. He’s Doc Holliday.)

The good news is, Doc believes in werewolves. The bad news is, he’s wants to eradicate them from face of the earth.

I’m not sure where I got the idea for MMH. Maybe it was Miss Molly’s tyrany here at the house. (She’s the queen of the castle and rules with an iron paw.)

Here’s a snippet of Jazzy.

“You’re in the isolation cage here at Safari Land. And I don’t know where your clothes are.”

Who put me here and why haven’t you gotten me out?” I would have shouted, but my throat hurt too much. That should have been a clue, but I couldn’t begin to imagine it.

“Tony locked you up until the zoo officials could decide what to do with you.” She lost all her anger, then looked to her right and left. “And you aren’t out because this is quarantine. Doc has the only key.”

Although I’ll never admit it to Bella or any of the rest of my family, when my hair is at its longest, I’m not always the sharpest stiletto on the shelf. Of course, when I draw it in all the way, I get a little fuzzy minded, so it all evens out as Grandma used to say. Today was one of those dull stiletto days. But shortening my locks to regain my reasoning powers would mean exposing too much of my body. “Why did Tony lock me up?”

“You treed Norman on his car.”

I tried to comprehend what she was saying. And I have to be honest, it took a moment. Or two. “I’m sure he deserved it.”

As she nodded, her face clouded until I thought she was going to cry. “Tony thought you were a wild Mexican Gray.”

“I must have had Jose Eber go too heavy on the highlights the last time.” I gave a quick shrug. “It could have been worse. He could have thought I was an Arctic.”

That infuriated her. “How can you make jokes at a time like this?”

I have to admit, my temper was a little short that morning. “What do you want me to do? Bite someone?”

Then we heard voices.

Bella’s mouth dropped open and her eyes grew wide with horror as she looked around. “Doc’s coming back, and Norman’s with him. You’d better go primal. Quick.”

As if it was that easy. I couldn’t just wiggle my nose like some TV witch—I had to allow myself to release. And after a lifetime of learning control, that wasn’t easy.

I took a moment to settle myself, to find my center. Arranging my hair so I was well covered, I got to my knees, then sat on my heels. “You know, last night, when you and Doc abandoned me, Norman became a huge pest. He kept at me, wanting me to dance with him.”

Bella’s “Um,” was irritating.

Annoyance tingled my exposed skin, running along my collarbone and down the insides of my arms.

“He wouldn’t leave me alone. It was so gross.” I straightened as angry lightning strikes marched down my back.

“Then he insisted I finish my drink because he wanted to buy me another. Bella, I thought I was going to have to decapitate him to get him to leave me alone. I decided to just leave and let you find another way home. But after I finished my drink—and I only had the one Doc bought me—I don’t remember anything. It’s as if I got lost in the night.”

I gathered my fury like a fiery orb in my chest. “You know I never have a memory lapse except during a blood moon phase or if I lose control. I wasn’t that angry.”

A simple full moon hadn’t done that to me since I was three years old.

“That son of a cur must have slipped me a roofie. Why else would I have been out of control?” I allowed my rage to explode as I thought about the man putting a date rape drug in my drink. 

My body stung as the bristles burst through my skin, but I exalted in the sensation as my face narrowed, then lengthened. I loved the feeling of my body shifting from human to wolf shape. There’s never anything better than the power surge as it fills my muscles. It’s exhilarating.

So, you’ve met Jazzy. What do you think?


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The Secret to Success

Pacejka Magic Formula Curve

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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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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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Writers’ Retreat

The Four-spotted Skimmer or Four-spotted Chase...

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My writers’ group and the venerable Ms. Jean Brashear  (romance writer extraordinaire) went on a retreat over the weekend at Meadowlake Ranch near Sand Springs, OK, and guess what! I found a new Small Town World!

Funny how that happens, isn’t it? 🙂

I got to the ranch at about 5:00 and went with the others who were there to check out the cabins. Being a person who doesn’t sleep much (especially when I’m in a strange bed) I chose a cabin with a place where I could get up early and not disturb anyone. (Outside, on the patio next to a pond, I had time to spend with the Lord each morning.)

I roomed with our queen mentor, Marilyn Pappano, and the very soon to be published, Lynn Somerville. Now that’s an entertaining pair! I’d hoped for a little snoring (I find listening to snoring relaxing) but both ofo them slept with hardly a snort. 🙂  

We had wonderful food, great fellowship and a speaker–Jean Brashear–who gave us the benefit of the knowledge she’s acquired during her wonderful career.

I was blown away at the preparation she’d done for our little retreat. Her handouts were great, but her patience, knowledge and willingness to share with us was unbelievable. From the bottom of my heart, Thank you, Jean!

There were miles of trails to tramp, the air was cool but not cold, and we had a great time hanging with our sisters.

We met a mom and her daughter, who were staying in the teepees,

who’d come just to have time together without TV. They took hay rides, gathered eggs from the hen house, rode horses and had a great time.

At the end of the retreat, we had some very exciting, nearly unbelievable, news. But I’ll save that until tomorrow. 🙂 (I’m not being coy. I just need to take my time when I tell you about it.)

So when was the last time you took a weekend for yourself to refresh and renew? If you retreat from life once in a while, share!   

 

 


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Almost There!

The title really ought to be, “MADE IT!!!”

I finished judging my last (I hope) contest entry in Where the Magic Begins! The Romance Writers Ink contest for unpublished writers.

I’ve probably told you more about it than you wanted to hear, but we’re almost at the end. Everyone on the committee judged at least twice as many entries as most people who pitched in to help out. I had 11 or 12, a couple of category judges had one or two more than I did, and Sandee had (at least) nineteen!

Sandee is a big reader and a wonderful judge. We don’t put our names on the entries we judge, but I truly hope the people who entered appreciate the judges.

It’s hard work. We do our best to critique these entries so they can be fixed and sell ASAP.

All the members of RWI are actively trying to sell our manuscripts, so we know exactly what it’s like to put your heart in a book. Get up early. Stay up late. Take time from your family or your knitting or other interests to tell that story.

And when that story comes to The End, we start all over with a new story, whether the last one has sold or not.

That might sound like the definition of insanity, but there are thousands of women all over America (all over the world!) who are doing the same thing.

Some are succeeding.

Sometimes our comments might seem harsh, but we work to keep that from happening. Any criticism of our babies hurts, and just like when our children have to be disciplined, it only makes them better.

We want to be a stepping stone on the way to success.

I truly hope we are!