Susan Spess Shay

Still playing make believe.


♥ 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.


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?)


Marilyn gets the most beautiful covers! (Perfect for her books.) Here’s a little bit about this book from the page on Amazon–


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!



Howler Inspiration

Ever wonder where writers get the ideas for their books? Just about everyone I talk to who’s the least bit curious about writing wants to know. (Sometimes guys want to know if I’m writing about them. Go figure.)

“Why a werewolf?” people ask. “How’d you think of something like that?” and “Where did that book come from?”

I wish I could say, “It’s a long story,” but it isn’t. Not really.

First I need to tell you a little bit I’ve learned about publishing. (Admittedly, not a whole lot. 🙂 )

Most of us (well, SOME of us anyway) would like to be published by one of the Big Six or the Big Four or however many whoop-ta-doo big time New York publishers there are this week. Why? Well, their name is behind you, their publicity department is supporting you, and you get the respect of your fellow writers. Sometimes.

IOW: You’ve “made it.” (Snort!)

So hoping to break in, we try to figure out what they want. What is it? Usually, they point at a book that’s gone to #1 on the best seller lists and say, “We want something exactly like that . . . only different.”


All righty, then. I try to keep it in mind when I’m deciding on a new project.

Back to where I got the idea for MAKE ME HOWL.

Answer: From Marilyn Pappano.

No, I’m not saying Marilyn’s snappish. Not one bit! And I’m not saying she can shift to a wild woman at the drop of a growl. (Although it might be possible . . . )

What happened is she let me read the first chapter of a trilogy she considered writing about three witchy sisters. I LOVED it. The story was sharp, smart, fast paced, funny and FUN!

Naturally I thought, “I want to write something exactly like that. Only different!”

Something fun, exciting and funny. I wanted to write characters I would enjoy being with everyday. A story about something readers would think they know about, but I wanted to give it a twist.

And a strong heroine.

I didn’t want to write witches. No way I could compete with Marilyn. And I really didn’t want to write about ghosts. Or demons. Or vampires. (Vamps have been just too overdone for me.)

About that time, I remembered one of my favorite movies when I was a kid. I often went to the Melba Theater with Sister Debbie and Marsha Hagberg and one Saturday we watched “The Wolf Man”. (Part of the time we watched through splayed fingers.)

Oh, yeah. That was the direction I wanted to go. A werewolf, but I wanted to make it different.

Easy peasy, right?






It’s another WOWed Wednesday!

What’s WOW-worthy for you today?

I’m WOWed by the kindness some people show others. Last fall in C-Town, several people started filling Christmas Jars. The idea is to drop money in the jar each week, then secretly leave it on someone’s doorstep at Christmas.

After Christmas, there were letters to the editor in The C-Town American about appreciation and blessings from people who received those jars as well as the people who filled them. WOW!

I’m WOWed by people who give legs to their faith by standing up for what they believe, and then following through with it. Such as the young woman in our church who, even though she has a husband and small children, not only went to India to share Christ and her medical knowledge, she plans to go again!

I’m WOWed that so many big hearted people live in my Small Town World!

I’m WOWed and thankful for the rain we got last Friday. I was really wowed as I drove through it on my way to work, barely able to see the road for the downpour.

I’m WOWed by my great kiddos and kiddos-in-law and the good time we had together the other night as we celebrated birthdays.

I’m WOWed by the goodness in women who work and teach and nurture others without expecting anything in return–such as Beth Moore, Jackie Kramer, Becki Hawkins and Marilyn Pappano.

I’m WOWed that people come by and say hi by reading my blog. And sometimes they even comment on it! 🙂

I’m WOWed that the Creator of the Universe and everything in it loves me!

So, back to my question this morning.

What’s WOW-worthy for you?



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.


Gotta Love It!!!

Imagine my house is a cabin deep in a forest somewhere, and a forest fire is blazing toward me. I have only minutes to snatch a few of my favorite, most cherished things. What would I take?

Along with my Bibles, kids’ baby books, pictures (while we’re imagining, pretend I have a dump truck to load it all in) my laptop, old things handed down to me from G-Man’s family and mine (and it’s a slow moving forest fire) the one thing I couldn’t leave without is this–

This is a cookbook my friend, Marilyn Pappano, gave me a few years ago. One day, she mentioned she was making one for her son for Christmas. I immediately started jumping up and down like a demented bunny rabbit, waving my hands like a traffic cop at the Indy 500 and screaming, “Me, too! Me, too! I want one of those.”

Okay, maybe I wasn’t quite that animated, but I would have been if the situation had required it. 🙂

Marilyn just smiled her sweet smile and remembered. By the time Christmas rolled around, I’d put the cookbook out of my mind (hey, that’s a lot of work!) but Miss M hadn’t. 

Thank you again, M! This is the gift that keeps on giving and never wears out. (The pages are in page protectors so if I get food or oil on them, they can be wiped right off.)  

Marilyn is one of the very best cooks (my fam excluded, of course) I’ve ever known in my life. She’s lived all over the south and collected the absolute b-e-s-t recipes I’ve ever begged for.

Just a taste of her Jambalaya will make your tongue lap your brains out. (That’s a saying my granddad passed down to my dad, who passed it to me. It means it’s good stuff.)  

I’ve already shared at least one of her recipes. Remember Ummm–Babyback Ribs? That’s a Marilyn recipe. (I fixed it just this week. So good!)

This week, I’m sharing a snack with you. Marilyn took these to our Christmas party one year. They’re a great, delicious snack and not (very) unhealthy!

I’m not sure who Regina Hicks is, but the woman knows what tastes good.

Here’s how you do it–

Put the spices and oil in a shaker jar and the pretzels in a container such as a plastic bag or Tupperware container with a tight fitting lid. Pour the spicy oil over the pretzels, close the container and shake it up.

Every 15 minutes for two hours, shake it up again. And, just like magic, the pretzels are ready.

I poured them out on a paper towel covered cookie sheet, but there wasn’t any oil to absorb. The pretzels had soaked up every bit of the oil and spices. And when you eat them, they don’t have an oily taste or touch.

I don’t know where it all goes, but those pretzels are addictive. (I didn’t have cayenne pepper, so I used chipotle pepper and tossed in 1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes.) They were still yummy good, but I think I’ll add more spices next time–or maybe I’ll buy some cayenne and do it right. 😉

 I’m telling you, this is good stuff!