Susan Spess Shay

Still playing make believe.


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Behind the scenes with . . .

better-meme Me! (Yikes!) As you can see, I’m not good at taking selfies. 😀 Here’s a tiny corner of my office. I especially like the thingy with all the drawers, because a dear friend gave it to me not too long before her death. deskish But I don’t write in my office anymore. Most of the time I write in my recliner in the family room. When I look up, I see this picture. viewI won this picture and I love it, because it reminds me of my Small Town World. (Funny how that works.) When I got my new hip, I wrote here– writers-couchand if you can see above the couch, those are my kiddos looking on. My first desk that I claimed all for myself was this one– 2nd-deskIf you think it looks like an old vanity table that’s lost it’s mirror, you’re right. Back then it didn’t have the game boards or the kids book on it, but it did have a big monitor and keyboard. Not an ideal place to write, but I learned a lot on that mini-desk. (Thank you, Grandma Reeves!) While I wrote there, I read through Deb Dixon’s Goal, Motivation and Conflict several times. And I still keep it handy. Now I want to introduce you to my muse. I don’t think any of the women I’ve interviewed have mentioned their muses yet, so maybe I’m the only writer with one. My sisters gave me Minerva for my birthday the month before we lost our mom. museMinerva is an Attic Baby. She’s wearing a housecoat and slippers and in her basket she has cleaning equipment and a mop and tucked in one corner is a Romance Novel called True Romance. I love her! Once in a while, Minerva just takes over and writes for me. muse-writesThat’s okay, too. 🙂 IMG_0724When the weather’s right and it gets light early enough, I like to take my laptop outside. And yes, Linda, I have that “Oh! A Squirrel!” problem, too. I’m trying to get over it. When I’m outside here’s my view– lakeWe live on Keystone Lake, and this is the prettiest part! So, the questions I make everyone else answer. (I’ve probably answered them already, but just in case . . .) Question: Do you write in your office? If not, where else do you write.

Me: Never.

Question: Why not?

Me: Don’t ask. It’s not pretty.

Question-Where’s your favorite place you’ve ever written?

 Me: We had a retreat once at a place on Grand Lake and I loved writing there. I don’t know why, either. I might have been because I was with other writers, it might have been because our speaker did a fantastic job, or it might have been because each time we had a few free moments, my roomie went straight to her computer and went to work. So I did, too.

Question-Where’s the weirdest place you’ve ever written?

Me: I don’t think there is a weird place to write. I haven’t written at work (really! I haven’t!!!) and I’ve never written anything during a funeral, but I usually have stories going on in my head. I’m afraid I’ll never have time to write all of them.

Question-Do you do anything before you write? Light a candle? Talk to Minerva?

Me: I write best in the early morning, so I make coffee before I write. Wish I did something more interesting.

Question-Do you write every day?

Me: As much as possible, unless I oversleep. I have more time on weekends, so I love writing then. Sometimes I take Christmas off.

Question-What’s the atmosphere in your office?

Me: Easy going. The kitchen’s right over my left shoulder, so I refill my coffee as often as possible. My writing partner sometimes interrupts to go outside, then to come back in. But until G-Man wakes up, it’s pretty quiet.

Writing Partner

Bossy Writing Partner

Question: Do you play music while you write? If so, how do you choose the music?

 Me: I tried to. But I found myself singing along with the music instead of writing. Silence is best for me.

Question-If you could have your dream office, what would it be?

Me: I used to think I wanted an office off by itself, but I know better now. I’d never go out there to write. And I don’t play the guitar to get my juices flowing. (Wish I could, though.) Since the kids are all married and living somewhere else, I have the entire house to write in. So my dream office is where ever me and my laptop are.

Question- How did you get started writing?

 Me: Well, it’s not because I made straight A’s in English. The truth is, I’m a huge reader. If I don’t have something to read, I’ll go nuts. And when I can’t read, I’ve always made up stories in my head to entertain myself. I found out writing them down is even more fun than just thinking them, because you get to find out how the story ends. Good stuff!

Question- Are there any how-to books you recommend for writers?

 Me: Deb Dixon’s Goal, Motivation and Conflict and just about any of James Scott Bell’s how-to books.

Question- What’s your process for starting a new book?

Me: I wish I could say, I do this and this and this, but sadly, I can’t. Sometimes I play the What If game and sometimes a character takes shape in my head and won’t leave me alone until I write her story. That’s what’s happening to me this time. I wish I knew where this story was going, but I don’t. I do think it’s a Christian Suspense, though.  Maybe.

Question- Did you struggle as a new writer or were you blessed with sales from the word go?

Me: I wish you hadn’t asked that question. The truth is, I struggled. And I’m still struggling. I sold lots of short stories, but I can’t tell you how many novels I learned on before I started selling.

Question- I know you write in more than one genre. Can you tell us a little about that?

Me: My first book was To School a Cowboy, a straight romance. The second one was Blind Sight, romantic suspense, and the third one was Make Me Howl, which is a werewolf story. Those three were published by The Wild Rose Press and under my name, Susan Shay. I just finished a manuscript called Jordan Valley that I call Christian Women’s Fiction. The new one I’m working on is also set in Jordan Valley and is (hopefully) going to be a suspense. I plan to write those as either Susan Spess or Susan Spess Shay, unless someone changes my mind for me.

Question- What piece of advice do you have for a newbie struggling writer?

Me: The best advice I can give anyone is stick with it. Find a good critique group. And read. I met a guy once who had written a long, long book he wanted to get published, so I asked him what he liked to read. He told me he didn’t read. I was shocked. Writers read. Maybe not all the time, and maybe not in the genre they write, but if a person doesn’t like to read, why would he want to write? And don’t take yourself too seriously. Look for the glee in life and laugh as often as possible, especially at yourself. After all, you know the inside story. You know how funny you really are.

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I Heard . . . God?

I’m wondering, does anyone else think God talks to them?

Before you send for the guys with the big butterfly nets, hear me out. I don’t think He talks to me. It’s not like I hear His voice or anything. But I truly think He’s involved in our everyday lives and He communicates with us if we let Him.

Click here to read about one of the times when God spoke to me.

I think He talks to us anytime we’re willing to listen. But we don’t get to edit what He says. 🙂

A few years ago, I started to participate in NaNoWriMo. That’s a national challenge each November to write a fifty-thousand word manuscript in a month. That’s 1667 words a day. I wanted to be finished before Thanksgiving, so I upped my daily scheduled word count to more than 2000.

So a couple of weeks in, I was on schedule. No editing. No rereading. Just getting up every morning at 4:00 am to write, write, write.

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About halfway into the book, I woke up one morning and it was as if God had emblazed a thought in my mind. That wasn’t the kind of book I should be writing. It wasn’t the kind of book for which I wanted to be remembered. So I stopped that book right there and started working toward writing Christian Women’s Fiction.

Now, here’s my latest adventure. (Preacher Dave calls them Weird God Things. I like that.) Back on September 23rd, I hit the point in the book I’m working on where I stalled out. I loved the book and the series that it would be part of. Star and Glory and Eli and all the other characters had become friends to me. But in my mind it just wasn’t going anywhere.

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So I prayed about it. “Is this what You want me to be doing, Lord? Am I listening to You or is it my ego pushing me? Should I write or not? WHAT DO YOU WANT?”

 Now, anyone who knows me knows I enjoy listening to Beth Moore.

beth moore

I’m not a Beth worshipper, but she speaks to women my age. I get her. You know? She’s on Life Today most Wednesdays, so I listen to her while I get ready for work.

That morning, September 24th, the very next day, this is how she started her show. I copied it from the Life Today website instead of paraphrasing because I wanted you to hear her.

Beth: And I wonder today, just so we can get on the same page mentally, what is it hanging over your head? What is it, that project, that thing that you started? For somebody listening today or watching — it is a book.

Oh! My! Stars! I was stunned.

Beth: Something — there’s like chapters of it and it just keeps sitting there — just sitting there.

I’m not sure I was even breathing at this point. 🙂

Beth: And you just keep saying, “I’m waiting on the Lord.” And the Lord is up there going, “I’m waiting on you.” Anybody?

I was mentally jumping up and down and waving my arms at this point.

Beth: I’m not saying that’s necessarily your situation, I’m saying, you need to check and see. Is it Him we’re waiting on or is He up there going, “I’m waiting on you. I brought you into this.”

Gulp. Double-gulp. Really?

The. Very. Next. Day.

Here’s a link to the actual video so you can hear it for yourself–

http://lifetoday.org/video/it-is-finished-part-1-2/

Does God talks to us? Could everything I just described just be a coincidence?

Do things like this happened to anyone else?

 

 


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What If You Had Only One Last Hope?

 

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. So I’m going to do it!

I have two friends with books coming out this month! I’m so thrilled, I’m tap dancing on my rooftop.

The first one coming out is LAST HOPE ALASKA, by Linda Trout. In fact, I think it’s available now! (Woohoo!)

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Here’s a little about the book from Amazon–

Emily Redfern’s ex-fiancé learned to kill on the back streets of New York. Now, she is his target. Broke, exhausted, and a step ahead of the man she once loved, she clings to one last hope: the wilds of Alaska. The quiet safety of her hide-a-way becomes addictive as she grows to care for the man who offers her refuge.

Released from prison after a wrongful conviction, native Alaskan Sam Tarkington is determined to regain his business, repair his reputation, and rebuild his life. But when he meets a desperate and vulnerable woman, guarding secrets of her own, she tugs at his heart. She’s a distraction he can’t afford. Sam must choose Emily or achieving his dreams. Like Emily’s life, the peacefulness of the wilderness is an illusion as danger lurks in the distance.

Does Sam hold the key to her survival or will her past cost them everything?

Alaska is one of Linda’s favorite places to vacation, so her descriptions are bone chillingly accurate. (Yes, I’ve read most of this book. Linda’s one of my favorite critique partners.)

Linda Trout, Author

I’ve known Linda through two books, a novella and three writers’ groups. 😉 She’s sincere, a wonderful friend and a hard working writer. I’m thrilled and excited about her book coming out. (Can you tell?)

BTW: This is a suspense, so you’ll be reading into the night because it’s a page turner. It’s worth every moment of sleep you miss. This book is great!

Linda is going to have a Book Release Party on Facebook 8/22/14 and I’m inviting YOU.   Pop over and tell her you’re coming.  Hey, tell her I invited you, please. (I’m making points.) 😀

I’ll see if I can get Linda to answer a few questions about her book in the next few days.

Oh, you might want to know about her other books–

Grave Secrets (I was there from the first spark of an idea for this one.)

Romance–the Spice of Life (Hers is a novella called SHATTERED PROMISES.)

Linda’s a real sweetie. If you get the chance to meet her, give her a hug from me. She’s a doll!

 


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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.

hopalong-cassidy-2a

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.

♥ ♥ ♥

“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.”

♥ ♥ ♥

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!

EoT_Ebook_Final

 

 

 


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Write It.

RNS-LUTHER-CHURCH

I read a quote from Martin Luther today that stopped me. (Did you hear the screech?)

IF YOU WANT TO CHANGE THE WORLD, PICK UP YOUR PEN.

Change the world. Pick up your pen.

I’m sure he didn’t mean that literally, it had to be a pen in order to change the world. There are so many ways today–ball-point pens, gel pens, fountain pens, markers and crayons. There are typewriters, word processors, iPads, tablets and computers.

You can use Facebook, free blogs and self-publishing (not just church doors) to get your message out there. You can say anything you want and nobody can change it. (You might get put in Facebook jail, but hey. It’ll be out there for a few.)

The point is, if you want the world to change, you can’t just whine, bitch and complain about what’s wrong.

WRITE IT!

If you write it, people might just believe what you say. Then you’d have to stop talking about it and do something. (Yikes!)

I can think of a lot of things I’d like to change about the world (for the better, I hope.) We could end hunger everywhere. Stop the ill treatment of animals. Or G-Man’s favorite request–WORLD PEACE.

If I had to choose one, I’d change it so that everyone is good to children. No more abuse. No more ugliness. All children would be raised with love, cared for and protected so not one child in the world would have anything to feel bad about.

Somebody else feels that way, too.     (When you click on the link, scroll down just a little.)

How would you change the world?

Write. It. Down.

🙂


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Reviewed by Marilyn Pappano!

I got my first review on Amazon and guess what! It’s by Marilyn Pappano.

SQUEEEEEEE!

What’s a newish writer supposed to do when a she gets a fantastic (FIVE STARS!) review from a New York Times bestselling as well as a Rita ™ winning author?

I don’t know what she’s supposed to do, but I’m screaming it from the roof tops. 🙂

YEAAAAAAAAA!

Pop over to Amazon and read her review. Go ahead, I’ll wait. (If you want to buy it while you’re there, that’s okay, too.) 🙂

So did you read it? Is that cool or what???

In case there’s anyone in the reading world who doesn’t know Marilyn Pappano, she’s a fantastic author who has published 80+ fantastic novels. (She has a new Copper Lake story out called, “Copper Lake Encounter,” which will grab you by the throat! It snatched the breath right out of my lungs with the first four words, “Welcome to my dream.”)

So  . . . I’m using Marilyn’s review the best way I can. I’m sharing it. I made a new header and put it up here (above) and used her words this time.

And I used part of her review on the MAKE ME HOWL Facebook page.  Pop over there and “like” Jazzy’s page if you haven’t. She’ll love it.

BTW: I’m getting ready to do that drawing. If you haven’t signed up to win the prize, comment here about what critter you’d like to shape shift to, given the choice.

Oh, about Jazzy’s story . . . I think you’ll like it. She has quite a “tail!” 🙂


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Howl-y Galley

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

Guess what!

I received the galley for MAKE ME HOWL! I’m jumping-up-and-down-screaming-my-head-off excited!!! So excited, I might use up my quota of exclamation points today.

😛

If you’ve never seen a galley, it looks like the pages of a real book with the author’s name (mine. Squee!!!) at the top of one page and the title on the next, and the lines are all numbered down the left side of the page. The lines are justified with extra spaces between the words so each one begins and ends in the same place. (Except for the last line in a paragraph.)

Looks pretty cool, too! 😉

MakeMeHowl_w7696_750-(4)

I’m reading through my entire book one more time before it goes to press, looking for typos, mistakes and boo-boos. (Last chance ranch, baby!)

And you know what? This book’s not bad! (Even if I do say so myself. LOL) Even though I’ve been deep in it for a while now, with more than a few partial and complete read-throughs, I’m not a bit bored. That’s a good thing. (Hopefully, that means readers will enjoy it, too.)

And one more really exciting thing. When I get the galley finished and back to my editor, I’ll be ready to receive my pub date.

Big, big grin.

♥ 

Guess I’ll get back to it.

You might enjoy these posts, too.

JUST WOLFING

MAKE ME HOWL

MAKE ME HOWL–SOLD!