Susan Spess Shay

Still playing make believe.


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Hop-Along!

Hop-Along!

But not Hop-Along Cassidy, as in the character created by Clarence E. Mulford and played by William Boyd who, btw, was reared in Tulsa. (Clears throat to indicate a big deal.) LOL.

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By Hop-Along, I mean I’m part of a Blog Hop (I added the along!) That means you read mine, then hop back to read Linda Trout’s blog (fantastic writer, in case you’re looking for something new to read) and if you get caught up in the whole “hoppy” thing, jump back to Jackie King’s blog. (I LOVE Jackie. In fact, I want to be her when I grow up.)

Since Linda tagged me, let me tell you about her.

Linda Trout is one of those people I just stand and stare at. (Mentally, that is. My mama taught me better than do really do that.) This woman rides a Harley (her own motorcycle, not just hanging on behind her husband like I used to do) is recently retired from a career in oil (she did all the things I hide from) visits Alaska periodically (yes! I want to go there!) and she Writes! Fantastic! Books!

And she’s GORGEOUS!

Linda Trout, Author

Linda Trout, Author

Be sure to check out her blog about what she writes. This Claremore girl (from Fort Gibson) is more than a little bit interesting! And her newest book, Last Hope, Alaska, will be out August 20th! Watch for it!

You really should check out her other books. They’re great! (I should know!)

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Question, question, questions–

So, Susan Spess Shay, What are you working on?

I’m working on the first story in a series set in Jordan Valley, Oklahoma, called UNSPEAKABLE.

The stories involve the Matthews family. They own a daycare called Gingerbread Giggles. (Mama Matthews’s first name is Ginger, thus the name.) The heroine of this story is Glory Matthews. Her sister is Star. When my hero, Eli Daniels, first meets them, he wonders if their mother was a hippy or just in love with the flag. And he wonders if their brother’s name is Stripes. It’s not. 😀

Hm. So how does your work differ from every other book on the shelf in its genre?

  • It differs because I put Me in my books. Nobody else can do that. (Thank heaven!) They can only put themselves in.
  • I write with a little humor, so you know I don’t take myself or my characters too seriously.
  • Another thing that might be a little different is that I believe in the power of love. I think God created us to be attractive to the opposite sex, so yes, there is–um–sexual attraction in my book. (And having attended a Christian college, I know ministers and Men and Women of the Cloth experience it, too!) 🙂

WHY do you write what you write?

Do you really want to know? (Raises eyebrows with a questioning glance.) I haven’t always written Christian Women’s Fiction, which is what I’m calling my genre.  I used to write Romance. (If you’ve read any of my books, you know what I’m talking about.)

Then one November, I started to do Nanowrimo, which is when you write an entire 50,000 word manuscript in 30 days.

I was doing it. In fact, I’d figured it so I’d have the entire thing finished before Thanksgiving, and I was right on schedule. Then one day I woke up to get to work and it hit me–

“That’s not the kind of book I want to be remembered for.” I never did finish that book, but I did a lot of praying about it after that.

 Well, that’s . . . different. How does your writing process work?

Since I have a day job that I absolutely adore (I work for my daddy with my brother, sister, husband, son, a niece or two, several cousins and lots of friends) and since anything I write at night has to be rewritten, I get up AEAP (as early as possible) fix a pot of coffee and write. I love to wake up at 4:00 a.m. and get with it. I write as many days a week as I wake up in time to do it. (That’s most days.) I write a little longer on Saturdays.

From the beginning of the book: I usually start with a “What If” question.

For Make Me Howl, I thought, “What if werewolves weren’t just crazy monsters? What if it was a genetic thing, passed down from generation to generation? 🙂 And what if my werewolf had a paternal twin sister? Werewolf girl would get the werewolf gene, twin would get the gene for straight hair. It all comes out in the wash.

For my werewolf book, I had to let my imagination go wild! (Pun intended.) Like all wolves, she’d have to go into heat. Right? That was fun to write! LOL. And there had to be a “blessing” to counteract the “curse”, so I gave werewolves affluence. The fun just goes on from there.

For my Jordan Valley series, I wanted to make it easy for me, so I used my hometown as a model. (Who can keep track of maps?) I enjoy humor, so I gave my main family a daycare center, and but none of the women who work there are married or have children.

My favorite ongoing characters are a pair of octogenarian twins who are total opposites. One is the sweetest thing since God created honey and the other is a cranky retired teacher who is only nice if there are kids around. They take in women and children who need help or who need to hide from an abusive husband/father.

Here’s the cranky retired teacher, telling about the time an abusive husband tracked down his wife and broke into their house.

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“That man just kept coming. He grabbed Sister and was shaking her so hard, I thought he was going to break her bones.” She folded her arms and sat back in the chair. “I had to conk him with Papa’s door stop to get him to quit.”

“You mean a little rubber thing you shove under a door stopped him?” How?

Mrs. Jackson closed her eyes and sighed. “Of course not. Papa was in World War One and he brought back a door stop, made out of iron, that looked like the Eiffel Tower. We used it a lot before we had air conditioning, to keep the door open so we’d have a draft. But with the cooler, we haven’t needed it so much anymore. It got kind of shoved behind the drape next to the door.

“He was yelling and shaking Sister, she was quoting scripture at him and I was slapping him, trying to get him to quit. He shoved my old body off toward the wall, and when he did, I struck my foot on the Tower. Well, he’d gone back to hurting my sister, so I just picked it up and conked him on the head.” The look of pride in her eyes was unmistakable.

He couldn’t blame her, either. “I’ll bet that slowed him down.”

“Yes, it did.” A small smile spread across her face. “Slowed him so much, he still wasn’t conscious when the ambulance got here to take him to the hospital.”

He tried to hide the amusement roiling inside him. “What did the police say?”

“Boyd Hubbard was the policeman that came. I tell you, if I’d known what an idiot he was going to grow into when I had him in first grade, I’d have flunked him for another year or two.” She rolled her eyes heavenward with an irritated sigh. “He told me I might have done real damage to the man. Said the man’s family could file a lawsuit against me. I told him to go back to the police station and look up the Make My Day Law. That jerk should have been glad I didn’t have a gun.”

“Do you remember what scripture Miss Charlotte quoted?”

Mrs. Jackson chuckled. “It’s a funny thing, preacher. The kids staying with us had trouble sleeping because they were scared of the dark, and who could blame them? So Charlotte had been reading the 16th Psalm to them for their bedtime story. When their daddy tracked them down and broke in, he grabbed her and she said all she could think was that eighth verse, ‘I keep my eyes always on the Lord. With Him at my right hand, I will not be shaken.’ When she got to that last part, she was yelling.”

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Thanks, Linda Trout, for tagging me for this hop. It’s been so much fun!

Now I’m tagging Natasha Hanova, a new friend I met at OWFI for the next hop on June 2nd.

NH_AuthorPhotoLargeNatasha is a YA Paranormal author, a SUPER organized and patient woman (I can attest!) and a chocoholic!

Her book, Edge of Truth, published by Sapphire Star Publishing, is turning a year old in June, so we can hop over there and help her celebrate!

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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.

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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.

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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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♥♥♥ Here’s Jazzy ♥♥♥

Jazzy here. I know, I know. Susan’s been trying to follow the rules and keep me quiet.

Susan: Jazzy, you’re a character. Characters from books aren’t real. They don’t have a life. They can’t impose their will on the author.

Me: Snort! If I’m not real, who’s been talking inside your head all this time? Besides, when have I ever  been quiet? You can ask Bella, my minutes older twin. I came out kicking and screaming and haven’t stopped since.

Susan: You’re right. I give.

Jazzy: So, let’s talk heat. Yes, you heard me right. HEAT. Being a member of the animal kingdom (a werewolf) it’s something I have to deal with once a year. But to be honest, it isn’t pretty. Listen, you think PMS is bad? Ha! Being in heat is killer! (Sometimes, literally.) You can check with Bella on that one, too.

Usually she tries to take me away from my natural habitat when “my time” comes. It might only happen once annually, but even one time can be horrifyingly memorable. And if there’s one thing sister-dearest doesn’t want, it’s for anyone in our everyday life to remember me like that.

This particular time, she dragged me off to Colorado. And she didn’t tell a soul.

* * *

I waited in the car when Bella got back patting my foot in annoyance by the time she started it. “Did they have our reservation?”

“Yes.” When I shifted into blasting-words-mode,why did she speak in slo-mo?

“Full living room? Two bedrooms? Shower or tub?” Rat-a-tat tat.

“Full living room, big screen TV, shower and Jacuzzi tub. But I asked for a one bedroom, two queens.” I could have climbed Mount Everest in the time it took her to finish.

“One? One bedroom?” I screeched. “That’s ridiculous! Why would you ask for one bedroom? You knew I’d want time alone.”

Not only were her words slow, so was her smile and the light that shifted to brighten her eyes. “Of course I knew you’d want privacy, and that’s exactly why I got one bedroom. To protect you from…that.”

Anger exploded in my chest, leaving a prickle of something on my skin. Sweat or bristle, I wasn’t sure. “Who do you think you are? My keeper? My trainer? Did you bring a leash and a muzzle, too?”

Somewhere in a detached part of my mind, I noticed the sun drifting toward the western horizon, turning the snow a delicate shade of apricot while the sky darkened from blue to purple. In just minutes, the apricot would become a dramatic shade of peach, then flame to burnt orange while the sky would shift to indigo.

Bella put the car in park.

“Let’s get unloaded. Fast.” I shoved open the door and rushed to the back to grab our bags. Not bothering to wait for her, I snatched the suitcases, slammed the door with a hipshot and headed for the entrance.

Bella hurried to catch up. “Let me take something.”

“Just get the doors.” I marched on, trying to expend a bit of my scorching energy.

“This one. Room 111.”

I gave a growl of acceptance, low and deep. One, one, one. The only one. I was alone. Oh, there’d been others. My maternal grandmother, for instance. And probably her grandmother. But for now, I was the only. Lost in a world of snow.

And growing very, very hungry.

By the time we were in the room, the fur was shoving its way through my skin. Knowing how horrified Bella became during my transformations, I excused myself as if I were going to the bathroom, which was off the bedroom. As I walked into the room, I saw my salvation. A door to the outside world.

Hoping Bella wouldn’t enter anytime soon, I luxuriated in my change. Strength turned my muscles to steel. No longer did the energy surging through me hurt as if I were an overfilled beach ball. Now it belonged inside me. It made me powerful.

Before I had no choice but to drop to all fours, I opened that door then let the effect of the rising moon take me.

Exhilarated, I raised my face in adulation. With a long howl for Bella, I bounded into the night.

So you can see, being born with the werewolf gene isn’t exactly easy, but at least things don’t get boring for me or my sister. Or you either, I can practically guarantee.