Susan Spess Shay

Still playing make believe.


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.


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.


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! 



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!  🙂



The Ten Best Things About Growing Up in a Small Town World


I love, love, love living in a Small Town World. (In case you haven’t guessed.) And here are just a few of the reasons why . . .

  1. Public workers are often people you went to school with. (That’s especially good when you’re speeding and get pulled over or you forget to pay the water bill.)
  2. When you call someone and get a wrong number, it’s usually someone you know. (At least they know someone you know.)
  3. You went to church with some of your teachers. “Mr. Ritchie, do we have to take that test tomorrow?” (That can be a bad thing, too.)
  4. Your kids play with the kids of your friends when you were a kid. (That can be a bad thing, too, too.)
  5. Directions are often, “Turn at the Dari Diner, go past Doc Saddoris’s house and the old school to the street where Mrs. Jordan lived.”
  6. Instead of street addresses it’s, “The old Johnson House” or “The Mullendore Mansion.”
  7. If your kids do something wrong, you hear it before they get a chance to lie to you about it.
  8.  If you friended every one of the kids you graduated with on Facebook, you’d have a whopping 69 friends. (My cousins from Old Ford would only have twenty-something friends.)
  9. When you apply for your first job, you usually call your prospective boss by his first name. (My first three jobs.)
  10. The people you grew up around are nicer than people anywhere else in the world. In fact, they’re THE BEST!

Mullendore Mansion

Bonus #11: You know where the bodies are buried. 🙂

I know I’m missing some like, “kids from all churches attend various church functions” (especially if there’s food) and “when a dog gets lost, someone across town will recognize it, call it by name and return it to you.”

What else am I leaving out?

Next time–the worst things about living in a Small Town World. (If I can think of any.)



School’s Out, Summer’s Here!

School’s out in C-Town and (keep this a secret between you and me) I couldn’t be more thrilled.

Why? you ask. You don’t have kids still in school. Your g-kiddos are still yet to be. What difference does it make you if school is in session or out? 

Because, the kids in my life (that would be nieces, nephews, cousins’ kids, etc) come around a whole lot more when school’s out. And even if they don’t come to work, I get to hear about their exploits.

Wow. Do they have fun!

When I was a kid, we didn’t do a lot in the summer like people do now. The highlight of our normal summer week was walking to the Public Library to return/check out a book. And we swam. A lot. (LOVE that public pool!)

One of my most favorite things to do in the summer (or any time of year) was roller skate. I had two pairs of shoe skates growing up. The first pair didn’t use a skate key. It had leather that pulled across the toe and laced up to hold your foot to the skate. And while that worked, it was for babies. I wanted the real thing.


Skates with a key. My friends I skated with all had skates with a key, so finally Mom broke down and bought me a pair. (My baby skates got handed down to a younger sibling.) I was beyond thrilled! I was elated!!!


There were three of us girls who lived next to each other. Me, Susie Lunsford and Marsha Williams. We loved to skate. The trouble was, Marsha’s driveway sloped a bunch, so when we skated at her house we were mostly in the carport.

Susie’s driveway sloped quite a bit, but not as much.

Marsha Hagberg lived on up the street and had a really steep driveway. Her family owned Ben Franklin, so I’m sure she had the best skates of all. 🙂

My driveway was perfectly flat, but Mom had the cement guys put a broom finish on it so when it was wet, nobody slipped, but that made it really hard to skate on. If you fell, look out! You’d need a whole box of Band-Aids to cover the damage.

We had a couple of sidewalks that were good for skating, and after my grandparents built next door, one that sloped down to their driveway. That surface was p-e-r-f-e-c-t! Smooth and wide with two more sidewalks to zoom along. We had hours and hours of free fun there.

Kids today have never heard of shoe skates or skate keys, but we had a gas!

Do you remember shoe skates? What did you do in the summer to stay entertained?


It’s a Small Town World!

I think I’ve mentioned what a Small Town World this is, haven’t I?

Happened again last week.

Sister Debbie and I took a short road trip last week, and we had such a good time!

First we had to borrow a truck. (I love having kiddos!)

We drove north. North. North.

Until we got to the Promised Land. Sister Debbie had been there before, and she took me into a world of beautiful memories. We saw Mary Lou’s card table, Mama’s ice crusher (or was it Betty Lou’s?) pictures, dressers, books and cook books and so many beautiful antiques (and more!) I can’t name them all.

I should have taken pictures inside, but I was much too enthralled to fiddle with pictures. 🙂

This is the table I bought.

I didn’t buy the tool box underneath, though. 😦 Wish I had now.

Sister Debbie’s daughter bought a table, too. The owner carried it out for us.

This woman made us feel so at home! She told us to look around, enjoy ourselves. (And we did!)

Terminally Curious reared her silly head, so I had to chat a bit. I told her who we were (we were picking up purchases made earlier) then got down to it.

TC: “Where do you get all these beautiful things?”

Promised Land: “Garage sales and yard sales and auctions and . . . ”

TC: “What’s your name?”

Promised Land: “Merriman.”

TC: “We have lots of Merrimans in C-Town. Are you related to them?”

Promised Land: “I’m FROM C-Town.”

See? I told you, it’s a Small Town World! And it’s the people who populate it who make it beautiful–such as Ms. Merriman.

After we were loaded, we went to lunch.

Who knew (besides #2 son) that the food there was so good? I think another road trip just might be called for!

I intended to take a food porn picture like Larry Lawrence, but I couldn’t wait to dig in. 🙂

If you plan to take a road trip to the north (hint: PL is located in the capital of the Osage Nation) check out her Facebook page. Her store isn’t open every day, but she has an alternate location.


Happy Birthday, Rozena!

My forever friend, Cathy, was in town this weekend for her mother’s birthday. I was so thrilled, because that meant I got to spend a little bit of time with her, too.

I wanted to share my first memory of Cathy. I remember going to their house once and riding their horse. I think her name was Roxanne. She was a very gentle horse.

But the reason I remember that day was that even though we were fairly young, and both Cathy and her sister, Linda, took turns riding with me, they both insisted that I stay in the saddle the entire time. They’d take turns riding “in the rumble seat” as my dad used to call it, but insisted I stay on the entire time.

Even though we couldn’t have been more than five or six at most, I was amazed by their unselfishness. No one had to tell them to do it, at least while I was there, and no one had to stand by to make sure they did.

I’m not sure how they became so unselfish at such a young age, but both of these girls grew into women who still make each person they meet feel as if they’re genuinely glad to see them.

This is Cathy, chatting with one of her relatives. Isn’t she beautiful? My camera didn’t come close to picking up her beautiful hair color.

When I was little, I saw a girl who’d bleached her hair to get it that color, and Cathy has it naturally. She wore her hair in braids until we went into junior high. Maybe this color is the reward for her diligence. 🙂

This is Rozena on the left (happy birthday!) Linda in the middle, and Cathy on the right.

They lived several miles out of town, and didn’t come to town everyday in the summer like most kids. Instead, they learned things like knitting, crocheting and embroidery. By the time we were in high school, Cathy had a hope chest to envy! I have a feeling her sister did, too.

Makes me wonder if she still has anything that she made during those years. I’ll have to ask her sometime.

Like most people, many of Rozena’s friends wishing her happy birthday are also relatives. Here she has her arm around her brother. Happily, being from the same Small Town World, I know some of those relatives and friends, although we didn’t grow up in the same church.

BTW: I loved the outfit Cathy’s mom had on. To be 85 years old, hat woman knows how to dress!!!

Cathy married right after she graduated from college with a degree in education. She lived in the south, then moved to Colorado and taught in Denver for a while. Sometime during all that, she got more education and had a couple of children.

They all moved out to the western part of Colorado and Cathy started teaching in the college there.

I’m going to tell you about our wondful Small World. I wasn’t there and I might get the particulars wrong, but bear with me.

One day at the beginning of a semester, Cathy introduced herself to one of her new classes. “My name is Mrs. Barkley, and this class is —-. I’m from Cleveland, Oklahoma . . . ”

A pretty blond girl, whose mother was secretary for the math department so she already knew Cathy, spoke up. “Are you really from Cleveland, Oklahoma?”

I imagine Cathy chuckled. “Yes. It’s near Tulsa.”

“Do you know any Spesses in Cleveland?” the blonde persisted.

“I sure do. Growing up, my best friend was Susan Spess.” Cathy answered. “Do you know them?”

“Yeah, I do. Susan’s my first cousin.”

I have to tell you–when I count my blessings, Cathy is one of the people I thank God for putting in my life. She’s a forever friend, a gift from God and a joy forever.