Writers, Write Right!

This is a “free” week here at Four Foxes, One Hound but I have been busy all week. I was stuck for a topic until I took a moment to grab a book from a bag that was handed to me from my niece, who is the reason, in a roundabout way, that I am here writing with you today. But that’s a long story.

What I decided to do today is vent about writers getting it wrong. I know I have gone into this subject before , but last night’s book had a couple of examples, last month’s books had a few; it goes on.

When I was in grade school we had to re-tell a folk tale. My mother told me one that her father had brought with him from Italy, which I related:
An artist did a painting of a man. He left it in the street and hid, so that he could hear the honest opinions of passers-by. A shoemaker came by and exclaimed, “What a wonderful painting! It would be perfect, except for the shoes; the heel is too high.” And he went on his way. The artist had his paints with him, so he fixed the shoes on the painting. When the shoemaker passed again on his way back home, he said, “Oh, now the shoes are perfect! But the collar of the man’s coat is too wide.” The artist came out from his hiding place and said, “Shoemaker, stick to your last!” Meaning: you should only give an opinion on what you really know. Writers should only write what they know.

I don’t mean ‘have experienced’. I have written about murder, which Heaven knows I have never committed, (not yet, anyway). We would never have Star Wars, Middle Earth or The Wizarding World without talented writers and their fantastic imaginations, but when it comes to the real world, writers need to do their homework.

The book that I started last night is by a very  famous and prolific author. In this particular novel he offers his rendition of a young female college student’s work. It reads fairly sophisticated in parts and down-right juvenile in others. It sounds like an adult male mixed with a young teen boy who is showing off. He simply doesn’t have the ‘voice’ right for a young woman at all. I will try to finish the book, but the mistakes are bothering me. He said that someone was wearing purple, “Or maybe it was eggplant or periwinkle, some such hue.” Eggplant or periwinkle? They are nowhere near each other:

This is the color "Eggplant"

This is the color “Eggplant”

This is the color "Periwinkle"

This is the color “Periwinkle”

Daphne Du Maurier, the early 20th century novelist, was great in my opinion, but she could not write an American well. She had them say things like “It’s off to bed for us now”, and “We shan’t be there”.

Most authors these days would never dream of writing African-American speech as many had done in previous times. If you have ever read a Bobbsey Twins book, you have probably read a modernized version. They cleaned-up the way the cook and her husband were originally portrayed, especially in their speech. It was bigotry at its worst. Yet today, many have no problem disparaging Irish people. They throw around phrases they think are typical to them, (us), with dirty talk and drunken slurs and make downright ugly caricatures. The same for Italian-Americans, who really seem to get it, even from their, (our), own kind. The term “Pastatutes” has been used to describe those of Italian extraction who will perpetrate ugly Italian stereotypes for monetary gain. Most writers are not Italian think but they know that Italian-Americans think like, talk like and act like the Sopranos and the gang of The Jersey Shore. They don’t. My mother’s family doesn’t. No others that I have known do. Writers need to talk to real people other than their own kind and not “research” by watching… well, pastatutes.

The newest installment of a New York Times Best-Selling series has a character upset after being called an “African-American” because she claims that people are stupid, since her family came from a Caribbean nation .Gee, I hate to tell her that the people of the islands who can be mistaken for African –Americans indeed have roots in Africa. Most of their ancestors were taken from there to the islands against their will in the slave trade, although people of many nations have helped to populate the Caribbean. The aboriginal people of the Caribbean were the people who Christopher Columbus dubbed “Indians”, (Indians of the New World or Native Americans), and most were killed off or died from European diseases. The author should have searched a just little farther back in history.

One book I read last month is the work of a writer who is not from Kentucky. I don’t know if she has ever been in Kentucky, but I can tell you, she apparently has never been to Bardstown, where I have lived for over twenty years. In her cozy mystery she speaks of a woman philanthropist who, among other good deeds, endowed a school in Bardstown,Kentucky with a garden. Bardstown has been named The Most Beautiful Small Town in America by Rand McNally and U.S.A. Today. Its schools are beautifully landscaped. In fact, the county high school’s Future Farmers of America have a hot house and sell seedlings. Stella D’Oro lilies are the town’s official flowers and they are everywhere, including the school grounds, along with many, many flowering plants , trees and bushes. It is an American “Tree City” and you better have a permit to cut down any tree in town; the people here love all plants. This was mostly a farming community and many citizens still have families with land where they garden, if they don’t have gardens or  their own yards. The Motherhouse of the Sisters of Nazareth is here and their senior apartment complex has land set aside for any resident who wants to garden. The famous Monastery of Gethsemane* is nearby; they farm and garden there as well. No one needs to donate for any type of garden here. The author had anywhere else to choose from, but for some unknown reason, she chose to use Bardstown. She chose poorly.

[* The Monastery of Gethsemane is best known for its most famous resident, Thomas Merton, who is buried there.They also make pretty potent fruitcake and bourbon fudge which they ship around the  world.]

It isn’t just novels, it’s music and film. The late, great Eddie Rabbit blew it when he wrote “Rocky Mountain Music”. It is very “Appalachian” sounding and contains the phrase “next to a swamp full of toads.” There are no swamps in the Rocky Mountains; he had never been there. Relatedly, in “The Blues Brothers” movie, they take the band’s place that is supposed to play at a bar. When they ask what kind of music they like, the barmaid says, “Both kinds; Country AND Western”…it’s good for a laugh, but there is a difference.

In the movie “Shining Through” ( a much-panned film, but I like it), a Nazi officer tells the spy who is posing as a governess that “Von Karajan is playing Wagner as a celebration of our courage” and wants to take her to see the concert. But when we see them at the symphony, the conductor is an elderly man with white hair. During World War II, Herbert Von Karajan would have been in his 30’s. The same man wrote and directed the movie. The buck stops there.

These are just a few glaring examples. Just a little, tiny bit of research or just listening would have stopped any of these mistakes. These are not obscure facts, but simply examples of writers not doing  easy research, making any effort. I’m not saying that every detail must be perfect, but if it is something simple or obvious, easily caught by a casual reader, don’t you think the lack of attention is an insult to the reader?

Are you bothered by a writer’s laziness?

Posted in authors, Books, Family, inspiration, movies, Random thoughts, Tonette Joyce, writing | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Is Your New Apartment Haunted?

The Ghostess and MISTER Muir

By Jeff Salter

If you discovered you’d just rented a converted hotel suite which had been haunted for the past 100 years, wouldn’t you be skeered?
Not Levi Muir. He doesn’t believe in spooks. He just thinks the lovely ghostess is “hot”.
But Muir’s attractive new colleague, Lucy, is a dedicated spirit-chaser and she KNOWS ghosts have special powers. Especially a beautiful ghostess who needs Muir’s help with a special endeavor.

Folks, it’s Halloween tomorrow … and a perfect time to tell y’all about my newest novel, released by Astraea Press earlier this month. It’s the first title in their new series, “The Heart of Magnolia” (which is set in fictional Magnolia, AL).

Only $3.99 in digital form from Amazon or B&N.

I’ve always loved the 1947 movie, “The Ghost and Mrs. Muir” and — while thinking about it earlier this year, I wondered how would a MAN — skeptical that spooks even exist — react when he saw a beautiful ghostess.
This result is my affectionate homage to that film.


The Ghostess and MISTER Muir

Despite not believing in spirits, it takes only one haunting for Levi Muir to become entranced with the beautiful ghostess.

Muir and his lovely colleague, Lucy, soon realize there may be more to Danielle’s mysterious 1914 death than the locals believe.

The more Muir senses ghostly presence, the more he wants to see Danielle … and then desires even more contact!

But Lucy takes matters into her own hands, because no self-respecting Southern girl takes second place to a spook.

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Love Overcomes

This is our free week and I have been trying to figure out what to write about. A friend of mine pointed out that in less than one week I will FINALLY have my first book released. Oh my, that sounds scary and yet at the same time exciting. I heard that some reviews are awful, I know this is true because I have seen bad reviews on Amazon for some great classics. I wonder if people just enjoy being mean. I decided I am not going to stress over reviews. This is an exciting time for myself and my children who have been patient through the entire thing, they even helped me to decide between my choices of cover art and teasers.

I am going to tell you a bit about my book which is up for preorder on Amazon and Barnes and Noble.  Then be sure to scroll all the way down because I (along with two friends) am hosting a release party next week and would love to see you there.



Single mother Arabella Mackenzie never imagined that going to California with her sister Clara would have such a huge impact on her life. Since the end of a disastrous relationship, Arabella has been wary of wanting or needing anyone other than her family. But when she meets hunky actor, Jeremy Fowlis, she begins to have feelings for a man for the first time since her three year old son was born. Now, she needs to try to overcome her past and learn to trust again.

Jeremy is not used to women who don’t want to date him, or at least show him off to their friends – he is an in-demand actor, after all. He is tired of the shallow, avaricious attention that he gets from the public, but when he meets intelligent, cautious Arabella, she doesn’t even know his name. Arabella’s grounded beauty captivates him instantly, but, he is wary of getting involved with a single mother with a complicated past.

Can Arabella and Jeremy both overcome their doubts and fears in order to find love?


You can pick it up now at Amazon

Or if you have a Nook you can get it at Barnes and Noble

If you feel up to it please join myself, Kelly Martin, and Jennifer Rae Gravely at our Masquerade Madness Book Party on Facebook Thursday November 6 from 8 to 9 central time

Hard to believe that come Tuesday my very first book will be out. This is really exciting.

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Hmmm I had forgotten all about my this week’s post.  Not much happening here.  The first in my CONNECTIONS series will be out very soon.  I’m waiting for edits on my Kindle and CreateSpace covers.  They should be ready in the next 3 or 4 days, and then I’ll post them to Amazon.

I’m waiting on the second’s final book file from my past publisher. When I get it I’ll work on getting it published.  My intentions are to have it out in 3 weeks after I publish the first.  Then 3 weeks later the third.  In time for Christmas!

That’s it for now from my little corner of the world. :)

Posted in Uncategorized | 9 Comments

Breaking Bread With the Breakfast Club


This has been designated FREE WEEK at Four Foxes, One Hound, which means that I need to find my own topic to write about. I could write about one of my many hobbies, but since I understand I’m going to have a free week every month, there will be plenty of time for that. Instead, I decided to start writing about some of the groups of people who give me encouragement, support, and inspiration. Today I’m going to tell you about a breakfast club of sorts.

I feel very fortunate to live less than ten miles from where I grew up. Other than the first year of my life (we moved to America when I was eleven months old) and the four years I spent in college (I attended Illinois State University in Normal, IL) I’ve spent the last six decades just south of Grand Rapids, Michigan.

A few years ago, one of my high school acquaintances decided it would be a good idea to have a monthly get-together at a local restaurant for a Saturday brunch. And every month, she posts the date and location on Facebook – even if she can’t be there. I attend as many as I can – it’s near my mother’s house, so I eat and catch up on everyone’s news and then go to mom’s to help her with whatever chores she needs to get done.

Most of these women were just casual acquaintances back when I was in high school. Some of them I didn’t know at all. It wasn’t a huge school – about 180 in my graduating class – but the group that gathers has an age span of about fifteen years, so some had graduated by the time I got to high school, and some entered high school after I had left. Still, over the course of two or three years, we’ve gotten to know each other and look forward to finding out how life is treating us. Several of us have lost parents and siblings. When one mentioned on Facebook that her sister wasn’t doing well and could use some cards and notes of encouragement, two people brought in several get-well cards that we all signed.

I find it a joy to be able to put this event on my calendar each month. The only thing most of us have in common is that for a few years of our lives we attended the same school. But though we’re different ages, and have had different life experiences, we find comfort in meeting with each other regularly. Most of us are Facebook friends

Where do you find your support? Do you have a group of mismatched friends who become good friends despite their differences?

This type of wide-ranging women is the basis for the Stitching Post series, written with co-author Stephanie Michels. Women with no common thread except their love of sewing meet weekly and draw strength from each other. Check out the first two in the series (click on the cover for more info):

TheCalicoHeart 500x750TheFriendshipStarQuilt500X750

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Relish Cranberries!

When a former Fox suggested this week’s topic, “Your Favorite Recipe”, she added, “one for Tonette!” Little did she know how I groaned at seeing it. My favorite recipe? As hard as listing my favorite books and authors, I at least was allowed ten of those!
If anyone reading this does not know, I have been cooking all of my life. I am a former professional cook and baker, I had my own bakery restaurant and I have a food blog:

Tonette Joyce:Food,Friends, Family

Being stuck for a choice, in the last week or so I have asked friends and family what recipes of mine are their favorites. I got answers ranging from lasagna to several kinds of cookies; seafood pasta salad to turkey dressing.

Fresh, sweet and versatile, Cranberry Relish

Fresh, sweet and versatile, Cranberry Relish

However, the one reason I started my blog was to teach people who didn’t think that they could cook, those who were afraid to try and those who felt they didn’t have the time or money to entertain. One point I stress is to know one’s audience/guests and with the non-cooks here, I decided to go an easy route and also take one that is seasonal.
So I offer to you my recipe for Cranberry Relish…and don’t scoff till you’ve tried it. It isn’t bitter; in fact, you can make it as sweet as you’d like.

My mother made a cranberry sauce every year that was inedible to everyone but her. The ‘goop’ surrounding the cranberries wasn’t bad, it was made with oranges and spices, but it was horribly sweet, too sweet, which only made things worse when you bit into the cooked but still-sour cranberries.(Think of the strongest cherry pie you have ever had and multiply both the sweet and sour aspects four-fold!)

I developed this recipe as an alternative and it is always a hit. I also use it to grill over chicken, to top #2 Son’s favorite, Brie en Croute, to stuff into dried apricots, to layer into a trifle or to top mini cheese tartlets, cheesecake, etc…but Husband’s favorite way is just as it is, or over plain cereal.
It is so easy…and it’s healthy, vegan and gluten-free:

Cranberry Relish:
1 package fresh cranberries, washed, with any soft ones removed (This was one of my first kitchen jobs; I must have been 3 or 4)
½-2/3 cups walnut pieces (or pecans)
2 large apples, washed and cored,(but not peeled), approx.1 ½ cups
1 large Orange, peeled and membranes removed, approx. 2/3 cup. Reserve a 1X3 inch strip of orange peel
Sugar, Steia or Xylitol

Place the cranberries, apple, orange, peel and nuts in a food processor and chop them coarsely, (can be done by hand.). Add a small amount sweetener, toss. Check for sweetness and add more if needed.( It will depend on your taste and the sweetness of your apples and orange.)

That’s it.

The relish  will stay in your refrigerator for up to two weeks; it can be frozen with some success,(it will be a little softer and have some liquid.)

Any thoughts? Please give it a try.

Posted in childhood, Family, Holiday, Life, Lists, Random thoughts, recipe, Tonette Joyce, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , , | 13 Comments

Origins of MacTunaPea

The Origins (and Recipe) of MacTunaPea
OR… as some people call it, TunaMacPea

by Jeff Salter

I should probably explain that I’m not handy in the kitchen and I’m loathe to prepare dishes with multiple, complicated steps. My basic rule for meals is two steps: (1) open container and (2) nuke in microwave. I’m willing to stir contents or rotate the package – whatever – but no further ministrations.

So, with that explanation, you may well imagine a meal involving THREE containers and a total of FOUR steps… is already stretching the limits of my skill-set.

I can’t claim to have invented the combination of macaroni and tuna fish… in fact, it may be printed right on the box somewhere. But I know for a fact that I originated the addition of green peas to the mix. It was some time in the mid-1980s as best I can recall. [Note: I’ve since seen instructions for some sort of casserole which uses my primary ingredients – plus something else – and I’m certain they stole that idea from me.]


* 1 (12 oz.) box of Kraft macaroni shells with the cheese ‘sauce’ in a pouch [do NOT try to use the powered cheese substance — it’s nasty]

* 1 (12 oz.) can of white albacore tuna [I prefer StarKist, but any major brand will do as long as it’s packed in water and NOT in slimy oil]  Note: you don’t really need 12 full ounces, but it needs to be quite a bit more than the standard 6 oz cans.

* 1 small (8.5 oz.) can of green peas [the peas are mainly for color... and to keep my wife from eating it — ha]


* Boil water in medium-size pot

* Add macaroni

* Boil for 10-12 mins. (or whatever the box says)

* Drain off water

* Squeeze ALL the cheese goop from the pouch… and mix well

* Dump in tuna… and mix well

Important note:

If your spouse is willing to eat MacTuna but despises Peas… this is the time to scoop out a bowlful and set that aside.

* At the very last minute, add the peas… but do not mix-in too vigorously (because it breaks the peas open and they get mushy).

* Serve in a large bowl and enjoy.

Note: MacTunaPea also tastes very good the next day (assuming you properly refrigerate the leftovers). Just add a teeny bit of water to the leftovers before you nuke it.

* Nuke for about 45 seconds

* Stir and nuke again until it reaches desired temperature

CAUTION: bowl will be hot!

- – -

Important Note:  I can no longer eat this version of MacTunaPea because I learned, in late 2011, that I’m allergic to GLUTEN.  Substituting the G-F pasta for the Kraft macaroni makes for a fairly nasty blend.  I do still eat it occasionally, but it’s a far cry from the REAL Stuff.

Posted in authors, Jeff Salter, Life, recipe, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , , | 13 Comments