Archive for January, 2008


Posted in writing on 01/23/2008 by Susan Shay

Writers talk a lot about critiques and critiquing. I know. I’ve been critiqued a lot over the years. Sometimes with kindness and sometimes with malice. And I was always able to handle anything thrown my way. Usually with a lot of yelling and threats of bodily harm afterward. 😉

When I first talked someone into a regular critique, it was with bf Meg. We soon nagged bf Marilyn into helping us. She brought a couple of others onboard. (ACK!)

The first sign that a critiquer is going south on you is they stop submitting their work to be critiqued. Must be easier to be mean if you don’t give the other people in the group a chance to be hateful in return.   

In the writers-group-that-shall-not-be-mentioned, we had a wonderful Christian woman who gave me some of the nastiest (and worst) critiques I’ve ever had in my life. Honestly, I valued this woman’s spirituality, but had daydreams of smacking her cross-eyed after every critique session.

Often a new writer will zone in on whatever it is she’s trying to get a handle on. Once the above mentioned woman spent her time tracking down and circling every adverb in each submission. You’d think she read in her Bible, “Thou shalt not put the letters L and Y together lest ye be in danger of hell fire.”

Another woman loves exchanging one word for its synonym. It’s not just me, either. This woman must pull out her Synonym Finder and track down words just so she can mark something on a page. It’s maddening!   

I’ve seen others, who have questionable skills themselves, attack mine even after being told that Marilyn (who, at 60 odd published novels, is the undisputed queen of all things writing and romance) had already done a critique and corrected whatever she’s poking at.

It’s against the rules to argue during a critique. In fact, the critiquee isn’t supposed to talk at all. When the person doing the critique keeps asking questions, though, it’s hard not to. 

For me, the hardest part, when being critiqued by the seeming minions of the devil, is keeping my mouth shut. Very often I’ve wanted to interrupt them with a quote from an old Saturday Night Live show. “Jane, you stupid s**t!” But, naturally, I don’t.

Like I said, it’s against the rules.

Today what hurts most is to watch thin skinned newby writers being pummeled by critiquers skilled in cut down. I can take it. I used to say I could critique with the devil himself to get the chance to learn my craft. (I think I’ve done just that a few times.) But these other writers don’t have a shell. They’d rather quit writing than have to go through meanieville.

It makes me think of the days when one of my sisters would come to me, upset with this teacher or that “friend”. I couldn’t do much but listen and feel bad with her, but I always offered to burn the offender’s house down. That sister knew I was kidding, but it made her feel tons better to have me on her side.

So what’s a person to do? Is there a book somewhere that tells bullies how to quit bullying? Should I offer to turn the offender’s house to ashes? <Evil Grin> Or would it be best to give them the flavor of their own meds? 


Judy Knows Knitting!

Posted in writing on 01/18/2008 by Susan Shay

I took a class last night–well, it was more of a trunk showing and book signing. Louisa Harding, the designer, was in Tulsa at Loops, a great knitting shop in Utica Square.

The class was free, but the books weren’t. 😉

First Louisa told us about her background, how she’d learned to knit from her grandmother when she was six. Then, being artistic–and girlie–when she went to college, she studied to be a clothing designer. Her husband does all the photography in the books, and the pics are so wonderful, I’d almost buy the books for them alone.

Louisa used a phrase I wish I could remember now. Something like, “There’s a little Barbie inside every woman.” It was a way of explaining her totally feminine designs, which are absolutely to die for!

When I got to the class, the first person I saw was Judy Randle, the Tulsa World book editor. (Who’d have guessed an editor at the Tulsa World knitted?)

I gave her a big grin. “Hi Judy! How’re they hanging?” Okay, I didn’t say “How’re they hanging”, but it would have been funny.  

She grinned back at me. “Well, hi!”

I think she might have remembered my face, but not my name, and maybe not how she knew me. I tossed little bits about books into the conversation to help her. Then I said, “There’s only one of you when you visit our writers’ group, and there’s always a bunch of us. I’m Susan Shay.”

She didn’t pretend she’d known all along, which I appreciated.  Judy loved Louisa’s books as much or more than I did, because her stack at check out was even taller than mine!

After I’d paid for my books, I took them to Louisa to sign, and while sitting there, told her about the Dr. Who scarf I’m knitting. And she knew what it was.

I’m always thrilled when someone knows who Dr. Who is. Not because I’m such a big fan, but because I’m going to hate it when my kid’s walking around in this humungous scarf and everyone is saying, “Who did that to you?”

Maybe I can get him to answer. “That’s right. Dr. Who.”

Kind of a “Who’s on first” type conversation.   

BTW: Last spring I wrote a novella called Knitted Together about a woman who inherits a knitting shop in a small town in Texas. The idea was Margaret E. Reid’s ( She’s the person I’m talking about when I refer to bf Meg and an absolutely terriffic writer.  She’s working on one of the novellas, and BF Marilyn Pappano is planning to write the other.

When the other novellas are finished, and the book gets published, we might be able to get Judy to review it for us. After all, Judy knows knitting!  


Posted in writing on 01/15/2008 by Susan Shay

Just a quick post today. I have a funeral, and I’m running late. I was supposed to bake a cake for the funeral dinner, but I was pooped out last night. So this morning, I’m going to go buy one at the store. I should have done that last night instead of buying the box mix.

Anyway, I wanted to make my word count this morning, since I didn’t yesterday morning. *sigh* I think my sleep mode has switched on me just to keep me from making my goals. I didn’t wake up this morning at my usual 4:00 a.m.

I know. Bad stuff. But DH couldn’t go to sleep last night. Can you be too tired to sleep? If so, I think he was. And when he can’t sleep, guess who else can’t sleep. 😦

Maybe I’ll get back on track tomorrow. Keep your fingers crossed.

I’m really excited about a knitting class I’m taking Thursday night. It’s a free class with an English designer. They sent out a list of the names of people signed up for the class, and I saw Judy Randle is in my class. Judy is the book editor at The Tulsa World newspaper. I’ve met her several times, but I doubt she’ll remember me. Interesting woman to chat with, though. And I’m not really surprised to learn she’s a knitter. If it’s the same Judy.

Today’s MMH word count: 1129 😛

Yesterday’s: 140 :-~

Meetings and Greetings

Posted in writing on 01/14/2008 by Susan Shay

I can’t tell you what a great weekend this has been. The RWI meeting rocked! BF Marilyn Pappano ( took over as prez. The woman has a killer sense of humor and, best of all, gets MY sense of humor, so it’s going to be a fun couple of years while she serves.

“Can’t we just make you president permanently?” I asked, remembering the number of people we’ve voted in to the job, then had them bow out.

“Only if you change the title.”

“Fine,” I answered. “Do I get to choose? I can think of some real good things to call you.”

She actually snorted at that one. “No. I get to choose. It’s got to be Princess of the Universe or something along that line.”

Hey, I’d call her “Queen of Everything” if she’d stay president from now on.

President Marilyn cracks up. See how much fun Marilyn has being president?

Since we were in the writers’ group that shall not be mentioned, we’ve always introduced ourselves and told what we were working on. Always. Forever. UGH! And, sadly, for most of us, that only changed once or twice a year. For some, it didn’t change for 4 or even 6 years. <G>

But wise Princess of the Universe thought of a new question. And, hopefully, we’ll come up with another one each month. I hate doing the same thing over and over. Don’t you?

Well, I hate doing most things over and over. Not all. 😉

Then we had a super speaker. Sherry Rowland of Two Sisters Promotions. Jaci Burton is a client ( so Miss J came to the meeting to introduce her and add a bit of her experience.

Here they are together. Jaci and Sherry Aren’t they cute? They both were so good to share their knowledge.

I took copious notes on Sherry’s talk. I’d like to hire TSP when I sell my next book. (Yeah, I know it’s not sold. But what can I say? I’m an optimist!) But we’ll have to see. For now, I hope to put some of her suggestions into use and see if I can’t get a few more TO SCHOOL A COWBOY books out the door.

When I get my notes where they’re readable, I’ll share them with y’all.

More excitement: Today I heard from my editor on TSAC, Rhonda Penders. After we talked about some other business (1099s) she asked what I was working on, then said she’d like me to take a shot at The Wild Rose Press’s WAYBACK series.

I’m so jazzed! She wants me to write another one for her. I know it’s not a contract offer or even a promise, but hey. It’s wonderful! And once I get a handle on the “bible” (the setup for the series) I’ll send her a query and see if we can’t work something out.

I’d be walking on air if I snagged a contract with only a query.  

And the best thing is, it’s about rodeos. I LOVE rodeoes. My sweet DH will sometimes go with me to a rodeo or two in the area. I even like watching them on TV, and I don’t like any other sport on TV.

Keep your fingers crossed for me.

Yesterday’s no count.

Posted in writing on 01/12/2008 by Susan Shay

Okay. I missed a day of writing. Beat me already and lets get it over with. I’ve caught a cold, and I’ve got a sore froat. (I can’t say sore throat without changing the “th” to an “f”. Sorry.)

It’s no wonder, of course. All the kids who come to the office have had them, and I can’t stay away from the kids. (It’s a family business. Need I say more?)

But with a cold comes drainage, which caused my sore froat. For me, the only thing that works on drainage is Benadryl. And, naturally, it makes me super sleepy. So I couldn’t get out of bed yesterday to write.

I got a big, fat goose egg. Boy I hate seeing that on my daily word count. Ugly!

Today, though, I wrote! It might not be good, but it’s there. At least I can fix it later.

Speaking of later, today is Romance Writers Ink’s first meeting of 2008. I think I’m ready. I have extra renewal sheets, and the ones that came in the mail.

I’m not taking the proof that the members are actually writing because that would be too heavy to carry. To be a member of RWI, you must actually write. Innovative, aren’t we? 😉 And you have to do at least one volunteer duty a year, plus judge in our contests. We’re a demanding lot.

Anyway, I’m excited to see everyone. And I’m thrilled about our speaker, Sherry Rowland, who owns Two Sisters Promotions. Uh, yeah. She owns it with her sister. 🙂 Makes sense, huh?

 Sherry is Jaci Burton’s publicist and is giving a talk about what we can do to promote our books without hiring her. And, I’m hoping, a little about what she can do for us. Not that I’m ready to hire her, but one of these days . . . .

Today’s MMH word count: 1030

Tomorrow, I’m trying to move it up to 1100 a day, so keep your fingers crossed.   

Today’s Word Count

Posted in writing on 01/10/2008 by Susan Shay

Thursday’s MMH word count: 1024

That puts me at 45,942. I’m half way there. YAY!!!

Everybody cheer!

Cats and Dogs

Posted in writing on 01/10/2008 by Susan Shay

I got this email from my friend, Dale.

Dear Dogs and Cats,  The dishes with the paw print are yours and contain your food. The other
dishes are mine and contain my food. Please note, placing a paw print in the
middle of my plate and food does not stake a claim for it becoming your food and
dish, nor do I find that aesthetically pleasing in the slightest.
  The stairway was not designed by NASCAR and is not a racetrack. Beating me
to the bottom is not the object. Tripping me doesn’t help because I fall
faster than you can run.
  I cannot buy anything bigger than a king sized bed. I am very sorry about
this. Do not think I will continue sleeping on the couch to ensure your
comfort. Dogs and cats can actually curl up in a ball when they sleep. It is not
necessary to sleep perpendicular to each other stretched out to the fullest extent
possible . I also know that sticking tails straight out and having tongues
hanging out the other end to maximize space is nothing but sarcasm.

  For the last time, there is not a secret exit from the bathroom. If by some
miracle I beat you there and manage to get the door shut, it is not necessary
to claw, whine, meow, try to turn the knob or get your paw under the edge and
try to pull the door open. I must exit through the same door I entered. Also,
I have been using the bathroom for years — canine or feline attendance is
not required.

  The proper order is kiss me, then go smell the other dog or cat’s butt. I
cannot stress this enough!
        To pacify you, my dear pets, I have posted the following message on
our front door:

        To All Non-Pet Owners Who Visit & Like to Complain About Our Pets:

        1. They live here. You don’t.
        2. If you don’t want their hair on your clothes, stay off the
furniture. (That’s why they call it “fur”niture.)
        3. I like my pets a lot better than I like most people.
        4. To you, it’s an animal. To me, he/she is an adopted son/daughter
who is short, hairy, walks on all fours and doesn’t speak clearly.

        Remember:In many ways, dogs and cats are better than kids because
        1. Eat less
        2. Don’t ask for money all the time
        3 Are easier to train
        4. Normally come when called
        5. Never ask to drive the car
        6. Don’t hang out with drug-using friends
        7. Don’t smoke or drink
        8. Don’t have to buy the latest fashions
        9. Don’t w ant to wear your clothes
        10. Don’t need a “gazillion” dollars for college.

        And finally,

        11. If they get pregnant, you can sell their children.

I don’t know what percentage of people in the USA have cats and/or dogs, but most of the people I know and love do. BF Marilyn has six (Yes, 6!) big dogs who all live in her house. She tells a hilarious story about baking her first meringue pie on her blog today. Check it out–

 Pop over and read it if you have a chance. BF Meg has dogs, too. All my sisters and my brother have dogs, but most have only one.

Sister Lisa has a little Jack Russell Terrier, and I swear that dog traded in his legs for springs. Last time I was at her house, this little hound was bouncing up and down so high, he could see over the back of the couch.

#1 son has a golden retriever named Boone. I named my hero in TO SCHOOL A COWBOY after him. 🙂 He’s a great guy, but getting a little old. When he was young, he ate everything. He even chewed the spinkler system off the house, so in this case, old is a good thing.

I have a rescue dog, a Yorkie named Molly, who is the queen of the castle. She rules the place! If it storms, she finds a way through the child gate and comes to our room. Then when the storm is over, she whisper barks to be taken downstairs. (I think she’s afraid of the dark, too.)  This morning I had to come back into the house for my cell phone and found her upstairs. Someone was using a chain saw and she didn’t like the sound. (And you thought I was going to say I caught her using my phone.)

When I had a small fountain on the back porch, I used to buy 3 or 4 gold fish to put in it. Molly loves to fish! She’s hang over the edge of the fountain until one of the goldies got close, then she’s toss it right out on the porch. She never tried to eat them. Just tossed them out and went back to fishing for more. Thank goodness our Koi pond is large enough the fish can get away from her.

We also have a cockatiel named Kenny (after the kid on Southpark). One day DH had let him out and he wouldn’t go back in his cage. We needed to leave, so DH caught him, planning to put him back in his cage for his own protection. The silly bird squawked, flapped and fought until he pulled out of DH’s hands. He dropped to the floor, and Molly was on him like he was a t-bone steak.  

DH went nuts. I went nuts.

Kenny escaped and limped back into his cage, wet all over and minus a few feathers.

Molly has only one problem. She gets lots of ear infections in her furry, floppy ears. And when she does, she shakes her head really hard, over and over again. We know it has to be killing her, so one of us gets the ear medicine (usually me) and hides it in a pocket. The other one grabs Molly and holds her long enough to put a squirt in each ear.

Then Molly runs and hides under the bed for a few days. Or until her ears start hurting so badly, she has to come out to shake her head.

All the rules mentioned above in the article from Dale? They go double for Molly.


%d bloggers like this: