Archive for April, 2008


Posted in writing on 04/30/2008 by Susan Shay

Yesterday I got this:

Google Web Alert for: “To School a Cowboy

Name author & tiltle of a good Western Romance book.? – Yahoo! UK
To School a Cowboy by Susan Shay Tender is the Storm by Johanna Lindsey The Bend in the River by Susan Gibbs Jodi Thomas…she is A Texan and her books take


Naturally, I went to the site where my name was mentioned. Here’s the entire post by Deble_2000 (Single mom, loves dogs and senior citizens.)

Name, author & title of a good western romance book?

Rough Wrangler, Tender Kisses by Jill Gregory
Never Love a Cowboy by Jill Gregory

A Wanted Man by Linda Lael Miller
High Country Bride by Linda Lael Miller
McKettrick’s Heart by Linda Lael Miller
A Wanted Man: A Stone Creek Novel by Linda Lael Miller

Angel in the Rain by Devon Matthews
One Hot Texas Night by Judith Rochelle
To School a Cowboy by Susan Shay
Tender is the Storm by Johanna Lindsey
The Bend in the River by Susan Gibbs

Jodi Thomas…she is A Texan and her books take place there:
Texas Rain
The Texan’s Reward
When A Texan Gambles
A Texan’s Luck
To Wed in Texas
Give Me a Texan

How cool is that? I’m so excited (and surprised) I can hardly believe it. Someone I don’t even know thought my book ranked up there with Linda Lael Miller and Jodi Thomas!!!


BJ and the Book

Posted in writing on 04/23/2008 by Susan Shay

I sold another copy of “TO SCHOOL A COWBOY” from my private stash the other day. Brother Jeff bought it.

BJ loves to tease his sisters. Always has. I used to fall asleep knitting and awake to find myself tied up with my own yarn. (What bugged BJ is that I could always escape.)

Now he has my book and is using it to tease the heck out of me. How? you ask. He quotes parts of it, then waits to see if I recognize what he’s talking about.

Its started the day I took my buddy, Riker, out for a walk. We came back with several dandelions for his mother.

BJ saw them. “That’s cool, Riker! You know there are a lot of things you can do with dandelions besides give them to your mom.”

Since I haven’t thought much about dandelions since I researched what can be done with them for COWBOY, which I wrote a few years ago, I waited to see what he was referring to. 

BJ looked at me expectantly. “Know what I’m talking about?”

I frowned a little. “No. What?”

“Your book.” He said it as if he thought I’d contracted Alzheimer’s in the last few seconds. “Remember what Granny Glee said about the dandelions that the kid was getting paid to throw away? She knew a lot of things they could do with them besides waste them.”

“Oh, yeah.” I remembered it, but not well.

Here’s what he was talking about:

Granny Glee is speaking.

“Let’s see here, I’ve got comfrey, lavender, rosemary, tarragon and marjoram. This here little patch is dandelion.” She briskly pointed out plants, naming them with no trouble at all.

“You grow dandelions on purpose?” Brandon squinted one eye at her. “My dad wants to kill ‘em out of our yard. Pays me a nickel for every one I pull out by the roots.”

“Too many ignorant folks in this here world,” Granny muttered, sending Julia a knowing look. “Maybe you ought to tell your daddy what dandelion is good for. You can make a batter, dip the blossoms and fry up the best fritters you ever tasted. Blossoms make good jelly, too, if you know what you’re doing. And those roots you been a diggin’ up can be cooked like parsnips or salsify. The greens are good fresh in salads or wilted. And in a pinch, you can make coffee out of the roots. Just clean them, dry them in the oven, roast them until they’re dark brown and grind them up.”


The next day someone was talking about the horrible state the world is in. “I know what you mean,” BJ said, entering the conversation. “Just the other day I read about a man in Texas who was abusing his daughter. A teacher had to kidnap her to get her to safety.”

His eyes twinkled as he grinned. “Know what I’m talking about?”

“Yes!” I answered as I scooted out of the room.


“Then Penny’s mother, Rebecca, called me. She knew Barry was abusing the little girl. She’d caught him when he’d first started molesting Penny. That was the reason he’d forced Rebecca out of the home, and with the family money and influence behind him, he’d been able to keep her from taking their daughter.”

Blinking as if she’d just come into the sunshine from a dark room, Julia focused once more on him. “There was no one else to turn to. No one I could call. I’d exhausted all my options, so out of desperation, I kidnapped Penny. I met her mother in Las Vegas, and that’s the last I heard of them. When I returned to Jarrett, the police met me at my door and I was jailed.





Of course, I’ve taken a lot of teasing over chapter thirteen. That’s when things heat up between the hero and heroine. Working in a business with three generations of one family all together, we have lots of different views on that kind of thing.

 For instance, the older members of our family are shocked when they hear someone in the school system is living with a woman without the benefit of clergy. And when that person leaves his position for another, he’s most likely been fired because of his loose morals. 

BJ, being in the middle generation, wasn’t as surprised as I was afraid he’d be when reading the “sexier” parts. (I don’t write erotica, but there are a few “sex scenes”.) But BJ took it in stride, and even told me how much more explicit another book was that he’d just finished reading.

And it was considered “literary”.

He did have one critique though. “I didn’t get to go to your critique sessions, but I have one bit of criticism. Your hero, Boone, says damn way too much.

To be honest, I’m thrilled that my brother took the time to read my book, and remember it! He said he was afraid that he wouldn’t be able to get past the fact that I’d written it, but as soon as he picked it up, the words disappeared. It was just like watching a movie.

Pretty cool compliment coming from a little brother!



Writers Write, too

Posted in writing on 04/22/2008 by Susan Shay

Like I said yesterday, it’s easy to let being in a writers group keep you from writing.

On the other side of that coin, there are writers who want to belong to a group, who want all the perks and support, but don’t believe they should have to do any of the work.

They have all kinds of reasons. “I’m too busy. I have to write. I have a job. A family.” As my friend Deanna says, “Quack, quack, quack.”

So that leaves a few people who do the lion’s share of the work.

Before long we have doers who will and don’t-ers who won’t.

The doers complain they don’t have time to write; the don’t-ers complain the doers think they’re the boss of everything. And they aren’t doing any of it right.

Join a group, and you’ll probably get to live it.


It happened to the group I was in when I first started writing. The Group That Shall Not Be Named went, in a few short years, from a few women with a vision to a group of snarking you-know-what’s blaming the few doers for making decisions and taking actions no one else wanted.

The end was ugly enough to put you right off your feed.

But living through an ugly ending has its rewards. We started another group, and made one hard and fast rule–EVERYONE HAS TO VOLUNTEER TO DO A JOB.

Before we got started, we checked  with RWA to be sure we could make that requirement.

You can, they responded, but it’ll never work.

So we did it. We made the rule for everyone. Even the published. Even those with families. Even those who (you fill in the blank.)

Yes, we had arguments. Complaints. “Some of us live a long way off, and can’t come to every meeting. How can we do a job?”

“With my day job, family and writing, I don’t have time for anything else.”

“There aren’t enough jobs in a writers group to go around.”

If you’re a member of our RWA chapter you must volunteer for a job. And you must find the time to do it.

Part of the renewal application is a blank for the job you’ve held, and a space for someone to verify that you’ve actually done that job.

Do we lose members over this rule? A few. Usually its because they think they don’t really have to comply.

We have another different-than-the-norm rule, too. In our chapter, you must judge in our contests. No giving back the books you were assigned at the last minute because you just didn’t have time. No, “I can’t stand to critique one more beginning writer’s manuscript” to get out of the unpubbed contest. And it doesn’t count as your volunteer job.

Does it make for a perfect chapter? Not quite, but we’re pretty close.



Writers Write.

Posted in writing with tags , on 04/21/2008 by Susan Shay

Ready! Aim! Oops!  

What am I talking about? What happens to many women who want to write.

The desire is there, spilling out of our hearts. We want to write!

So we rearrange our lives, search the Internet and find a group of like minded people to join. Other individuals who want to be writers, too.

That’s when the trouble begins.

I’ve found from being part of writers’ groups for lo, these many years, that many people are great at joining and wonderful members, but they don’t write. It’s not that they don’t have the ability or the desire. 

They’re so busy working for the group, they don’t have the time.

Every organization has to have people to run it. A president, vice president, secretary and treasurer. It has to have committees to make the contests work. To set up programs. To take care of retreats and conferences.

Trouble is, we get so busy taking care of the organization, we forget what we’re there for.

My mom told me a story once about a fire chief who was training a new group of firemen. He pointed at the first man. “Each day you are to polish the bell. I want that bell to gleam like the sun.”

The newby stood attention and all but saluted.

The chief looked at the second man. “I want you to wash the truck everyday. Whether it goes to a fire or not, wash that truck.

“Yes, sir!” the second man answered.

He pointed to the third man. “Your job each day will be to check the hoses. If a hose starts to look a little worn, I want it replaced.”

The man nodded eagerly.

The chief finished handing out the assignments, then talked about how often the firehouse should be cleaned with special emphasis on the kitchen. When he’d finished his lecture, he stood still for a moment, looking at each man in turn. “All right. Who can tell me his main job?”

The first man shot his hand in the air. “Polish the bell, sir!”

The second man was right behind him. “Wash the truck!”

“Check the hoses!”

The chief’s face was grim as he shook his head. “Wrong. Wrong. Wrong. You’re all wrong.

“Your main job is to put out fires.”

As writers, our main job is to . . . write. But we let the other things–programs, reports, committees, get in our way.

Oh, we have reasons. Really good reasons. Our group needs us. If we screw up the conference, everyone will know that we can’t do what we’ve promised. We’ll make the chapter look bad. The group has to have a program in August. We’ll get a rep for not finishing a job. What publisher would want to buy a manuscript from a writer who can’t be depended on to complete a task or fulfill a promise?

But when we can’t write for months at a time because we’ve committed ourselves too heavily for the group, there’s something wrong.  

Now a commitment should be fulfilled. I hate it when someone quits a committee or sidesteps a duty because they’re over committed. But I hate it even more when a writer quits writing because they’re too busy with the task to do the real job.

Know what that is?




A & A

Posted in writing on 04/17/2008 by Susan Shay

I’m the career chair for Romance Writers Ink in Tulsa. I wear a few other hats, too, but I’m trying to give some of them away. 🙂

Career chair (AKA program chairman) is one of my favorite things to do for the group. Why? Because I get to ask people to teach us what they know. Take us by the hand and lead us through the world of publishing.

Here are a few examples of our programs: Promotions–Sherry Rowland of Two Sisters Promotions. The Very Basics of Writing–Marilyn Pappano. Writing Confessions–Peggy Moss Fielding (Oklahoma’s 2007 mentor of the year.) Technical Aspects of Writing–Jackie Kramer.

Before and After the Sale–Jaci Burton. Ride Your Rejection to a Sale–Sharon Ervin. Luring Your Muse–Juliet Burns. GMC — Debra Dixon. The Call–Marilyn Pappano (we depend on MP a lot!)

And every year, the last program of the year (unless we change our minds) is Asked and Answered. A program where any of our members can ask our published members anything they want. That’s ANYTHING. At all. At least about things pertaining to writing. 😉

This last year I led the program and found myself answering way more questions than I’d expected. Why would anyone ask me? I wondered. I’m a first time author. Little experience. One publisher. NO agent.

But they did. Most of them wanted to know about my publisher. How to submit. Who to contact. How they were to work with. What they paid. 

Our A & A program is one of my favorites. I’ve always looked forward to it.

Why? Because we have more camaraderie during that meeting than any other time. I love chatting with other writers. Hearing they have the same problems and worries that I do. And how some of them triumphed over those problems.  

In a writers group I used to belong to, it was the Published (who sat on the front row in the seats of honor and expected honor and praise) and the poor, lowdown unpublished.

It’s not that way in RWI. We’re all writers (surprise, old group!) and all working toward the same thing. Publication. Whether it’s the first manuscript or the 75th. Whether the member is published a hundred times or still standing on tiptoe, trying to peep over the wall.   

So if you’re ever in the Tulsa area on the 2nd Saturday of the month and would like to visit one of our meetings, come on! We’d love to have you.

You can find out more about us here: 



Posted in writing on 04/16/2008 by Susan Shay

I just got it! The cover for my new book, BLIND SIGHT, and I’m so pleased! Don’t you love it?

My new book.

The artist is Tamra Westberry, and I think she did a fantastic job! I can’t imagine having the talent to do something like that. Thank you, Tamra!!!

BLIND SIGHT is a paranormal romantic suspense.  

Here’s the back cover blurb:

Cassie Reynolds is murdering people . . . and she’s innocent as a newborn. With only a touch, she enters the killer’s body to see, hear, feel, everything he’s done. Trouble is, she hasn’t the resources to stop him. Not alone anyway.

Keegan Flynn, who believes in nothing and no one, is the only person with the skills to help Cassie end the killing spree. But will he find the faith he’ll need before it’s too late, or will Christmas this year, be murder?


Want to read an excerpt?


After spritzing the round table, Cassaundra cleaned the top and finally made the circuit pushing chairs into their proper places. Glancing down, she saw a cup that had been left on a seat. As if in slow motion, it toppled off the edge. Without thinking, she caught it—then remembered she’d forgotten to replace her gloves.

The vibration crashing through her was like thunder from a colossal drum, quaking long and hard and painful, deafening her to the sounds going on around her. A brilliant flash stabbed into her eyes and, as her irises contracted painfully, she nearly collapsed to her knees.

The bookstore disappeared.

Her body shuddering in the cool air of night, Cassaundra smelled dust and rain on the breeze. A feeling of devout piety stole over her as her heartbeat slowed to a sluggish thud. Casting her gaze downward, she saw a young woman, her face white and still as if it had been carved from alabaster, lying near the edge of a rocky crag. With hands that were not her own, she crossed the girl’s stiffening arms over her cold, unmoving chest, then straightened her skirt, pulling it to her knees.

As gently as if she were putting a child to bed, she slipped the body over the precipice where it crashed helplessly into a tree, flipped almost completely around, hit the ground and rolled down the steep slope until it rested brokenly against a jagged boulder.

Stomach heaving at the shock of the vision, Cassaundra leaned heavily against the table to stare at the broken cup lying at her feet.

“My God, Cassie. Are you all right?” Keegan demanded as he hurried toward her from across the room.
“Yes. No, honestly, I’m fine. Just a little light headed.” Hoping to save herself from the experience of having Keegan touch her so soon after the horrifying scene, she collapsed into a nearby chair.


So . . . tell your friends, be on the lookout for Blind Sight. It’ll be here soon. (I hope!)

BTW: In case you’re wondering? The woman on the cover ISN”T me. 😉



RWI Weekend

Posted in writing on 04/13/2008 by Susan Shay

Today was our monthly Romance Writer Ink meeting. (We’re a chapter of RWA–Romance Writers of America.) It was small but fantastic! The first thing we do at a meeting is introduce ourselves. For years we gave our names and told what we were working on.

If you’ve never written a book, it takes a long time for most people to complete one. Unless you’re a flash writer like Marilyn Pappano or Jaci Burton. They whip out several in a year. I can usually finish an 80 to 100K book in just under a year if I don’t have any interruptions. I have a few friends who take a few years to finish a book. (Not mentioning any names here Linda, Jackie, Meg. 😉 )

So if a non-flash writing member goes to the meeting every month, the membership hears, “I’m Susan Shay and I’m working on Make Me Howl,” month after month. After month.

This year, I made a suggestion. “Let’s do something different to introduce ourselves this year.”

“Great idea,” Madame President (aka flash-writer Marilyn) responded with great enthusiasm. “How?”

“Ask a different question each month.”

“If you’ll help me come up with them, I will.”

One month we asked how many words they’d written in the last month. Since a requirement to remain a member of RWI is to be a working writer, actually trying to get published, we had some scrambling going on.

Another month we asked what their first completed manuscript was called.

This month, I took my idea from Marilyn’s president’s letter. It was about lists of all time favorite romance novels. Which ones she’d read and liked, which ones she hadn’t.

So my question idea was, “What was your first keeper when you started reading romance?”

We ha d some interesting answers. At least three women answered, “OUTLANDER.” Diana Gabaldon. 

A couple of women answered, “Shanna.” Kathleen Woodiwiss

We had a “Crocodile on the Sandbank” by Elizabeth Peters, an “Angel” by Julie Garwood, two “Sweet Savage Love” by Rosemary Rogers, and “The Bride” by Julie Garwood.  

My first keeper was called “Lady of Fire” by Valerie Vayle. 1979. I loaned it out only once to my sister, who promised to give it back as soon as she was finished. I dropped by her garage sale a few weeks later and found it for sale there. I’ve never loaned it since. 

Valerie’s real name is Janice Young-Brooks, and she’s written lots of books under lots of pennames.

LOF is about a girl leaving convent school by ship with her mother. Mom dies just as the ship is sinking in a storm. Before she dies, she whispers to her daughter that her father, who worked for the English government, was murdered.

The ship sinks, the girl wakes up to find herself alone on an island. A day or two later, a dangerously sexy man who was on the ship with her swims up. They  spend a few “woohoo” days together on the island, then the man’s pirate ship sails up to rescue them.

Disillusioned to find out her lover is a pirate, the girl vows to get away from him and find out who killed her father. But it’s a long time before she can escape, so between times in the cabin with the captain, she learns to be a lady pirate from the only other female on the ship. (I like heroines who can kick butt.)

Finally she escapes to search for her father’s killer, but she get  kidnapped into a harum.She’s rescued by the hot pirate, only to escape from him again, even though by now she’s deeply in love with him.

In the end, she’s married yet another man who dies. Instead of a funeral, she has a costume party to bring out the bad guys who killed her dad. The pirate shows up dressed as–you guessed it– a pirate. And right behind him is his first mate. They catch the bad guys who are betraying England, and it turns out that the first mate on the pirate ship the heroine kept escaping from is her father. He isn’t dead at all. Her mother was just told that by an over zealous government employee to help him go deep undercover.

I know. Sounds smarmy, doesn’t it? But when you read Valerie’s work, it had charm, not smarm.

The best thing about this question? It wasn’t getting suggestions for good reads, although I did. It was the conversation it stirred up.

The first thing a really good writer has to be is a reader. I don’t know an author who doesn’t love to read. Some of us enjoy it so much, we’ll read anything, even labels on cans.

I’m a bit pick€ier than that, but not much. I only hope that someday something I’ve written will touch someone else the way “Lady of Fire” touched me.    

So . . . what was your first keeper? What book touched you for the first time and made you think, “I want to tell a story like that.” 

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