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!  🙂


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In My Small Town World

I might have mentioned I absolutely love my small town. People who speak disparagingly about it will get a fight from me because, I LOVE OUR TOWN! It’s not perfect, but it’s darn close!

So I wondered who first established C-Town. Naturally, I turned to Wikipedia. Here’s what I found.

After the Cherokee Outlet opening, a homesteader by the name of Willis H. Herbert established a town named Herbert by opening a post office on the current townsite of Cleveland on October 28, 1893.

Most people from these parts know about the town of Herbert. And we’re all VERY glad they changed the name!

The Post Office department subsequently withdrew the approval of the Herbert post office. The post office was then moved 100 feet, and reestablished under the name C-Town, named in honor of then President Grover Cleveland on April 19, 1894.

By 1900, the town’s population was 211. Before the discovery of oil in the area, the town served as a trade center between the local farmers and the Osage Tribe who lived on the reservation was on the other side of the Arkansas river.

In 1904, a railroad line owned by the Missouri, Kansas and Oklahoma Railroad (later known as Missouri, Kansas and Texas Railway or Katy) from Oklahoma City reached Cleveland and crossed the Arkansas River into Osage County.

On May 27, 1904, the first oil well was spudded near the community, and it caused an influx of oil workers and other people. At the time of statehood in 1907, Cleveland had 1,441 residents.

I thought the next part was very interesting. It’s “Notable people from C-Town.”

  • David Bivin – author
  • Lincoln Ferguson – President of Beta Upsilon Chi
  • Tony Perkins – president of the Family Research Council and a former Republican member of the Louisiana House of Representatives graduated from Cleveland High School in 1981.
  • 1952 Heisman trophy winner Billy Vessels was born in Cleveland in 1931.

All the men mentioned are wonderful people, but there’s a couple of names missing, and I’m not sure how to get them added.

One is Gulf War hero, Craig Berryman.

This is from Fox 23:

 Gulf War POW Recalls Torture by Iraqis

Marine Maj. Craig Berryman can’t shake the memory  of his 37 days as an Iraqi prisoner of war.

The Cleveland, Okla., native says a day hasn’t  passed in the last 12 years that he hasn’t thought of how Iraqi soldiers  tortured, kicked and starved him in 1991.

Iraqi guards broke Berryman’s left leg, beat him  repeatedly and threatened him with shooting and mutilation. A lighted cigarette  was twisted into an open wound on his neck, and his requests for medical  attention were ignored.

He lost 25 pounds in 37 days and caught a case of  dysentery that lasted two years and is likely to cause him digestive tract  problems the rest of his life.


The other person I’d like to see listed there is U. S. Army Specialist Ashley Jones, who was seriously injured in Afghanistan. Her injuries included the amputation of one foot.

And of course, I’d like to see some people listed who we’ll never see there, because they kept their good deeds to themselves.

Such as the woman I heard about who took a family groceries, just when they were desperate.

And the man who won a drawing for several hundred dollars and passed the winnings along to a family in need.

And the folks who secretly gave Christmas Jars so someone else could have a happy Christmas.

If you have another moment, try googling Christmas Jars. You’ll find a link to Jason Wright’s website and probably a link to Amazon and B & N so you can buy the book. But you’ll also find stories about people who received Christmas Jars from someone who knew about living in a Small Town World.

Did you hear any Christmas Jar stories? If you did, could you share them with me? I’d love to learn more about C-Town’s history, too.

  • W-o-w!!! (

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Which One Are You?


  • When you find a great new diet, do you shout the news or keep it to yourself?
  • Is a new store with the latest styles and prices 1/3 of the mall stores, a chance to spread the news to everyone or do you keep it to yourself?
  • When people picture you, is it with your arms open wide or folded across your chest?
  • Are you an includer or an excluder?

Remember the movie, “Electric Horseman” with Robert *sigh* Redford and Jane Fonda? Prime example of an Includer and an Excluder.

Sonny Steele (Robert) is an Includer. He’s a five time All Around World Champion Cowboy. His talent has brought him fame and fortune, which he shares with his friends (who hang with him most of the time) and just about anyone else who comes his way.

Sonny Steele says, “As far as I see it, either we’re all going to heaven or we’re not.” See? Inclusive. He wants everyone to get in on the good stuff.

On the other hand, Hallie Martin (Jane Fonda) a reporter, is an excluder who wants an exclusive. When Sonny steals Rising Star, a famous race horse, she tracks him down for a one-on-one interview. No way she’s going to share with other reporters. Part of her fame is that she’s able to be the only one to do things such as this.

She plans to share what she learns, but it’s for her career, not her love of people or horses or Sonny Steele.

So I’m wondering, are most people these days Includers or Excluders?

When most people find something fun and new, do they like to tell the world about it?

From a great tasting cup of coffee (have you tried Star Bucks’ Cinnamon Dolce Latte? Oh, yum!) or a wonderful place to eat (if you haven’t been there, you have to try Ted’s Cafe Escondido. And ask for Atomic Salsa. Double YUM!)  or a great new book (I mention them here all the time) do most people want everybody to get to enjoy what they’ve enjoyed?

Oh, I understand the reason for being an excluder, and I can relate.

If I keep the store with the great prices to myself, I can have twice the clothes and nobody will realize they’re so inexpensive. If I keep a new book with The Secret about how to become a great writer to myself, I might be able to achieve NYT best-selling author status. If I keep a wonderful place to eat a secret, I won’t have to wait as long for a table.

If I keep the secret, I can be smarter or better dressed or more in-the-know than others around me.

But I’ve never been that good at keeping secrets. If I know something wonderful, I want the people I know and love to get to benefit from it.

Maybe it’s because I’m from a large family, and we had to be Includers. No choice. Maybe it’s because I’m a Christian, and Jesus is an Includer. (He died for everyone.)

Or maybe it’s growing up when I did and where I did. In my Small Town World, neighbors helped out neighbors and all the kids on our street played together without leaving anyone out. (Most of the time.)

It was a happy, laid back time, when moms stayed at home and cooked meals for the sick, nearly everyone went to church and most people stayed married.

Everyone got to go to school.

Everyone got a Christmas present.

Everyone got a Valentine.

Everyone got to vote in elections.

Everyone was welcome at church.

Which do you think is better? A world of Includers or Excluders?

Any idea which one you are?


Wowed Wednesday

Yesterday was Tombstone Tuesday, so today must be Wowed Wednesday. (To be honest, what wows me is people. Must be that curiosity gene.)

Okay, I know I just talked about walking on Friday,

but go with me on this. 🙂

My walking buddy and I charged past some great yardscapes yesterday.

A tree challenged witch.

A spider infested house.

And even a brand new neighborhood graveyard, which just recently sprung up. Shades of The ‘Burbs. *Shiver*

But the house that stopped us in our tracks is a very familiar one to me. It’s the house where I took piano lessons from the time I was in second grade. It’s the place I walked to once a month for Piano Club.

The home’s current owner and one of her beautiful daughters were there, putting on the finishing touches when we power walked up 😉 and screeched to a halt.

We said hello and told them how beautiful their decorations are. Then I asked for permission to take pictures. And since we’re all from the same Small Town World (I used to smile when the sisters came in the dress shop) I took the chance to chat a bit.

We had such a great talk! I loved the few moments we got to hang together and wished we had more.

Beautiful yardscape, ladies. Love it! And more, I had so much fun catching up. Trouble is, now I want to know more.

It’s really not my fault. It has to be that curiosity gene.