Make Your Stories Plausible,Please

I’m running late this week, something unusual for me but then, it’s been an unusual month altogether. I had planned on having a guest author, but two were not available and time got away to check with others. It really has been an unusually busy month for me.

I visit writers’ blogs, a few of them quite regularly. It is amazing to me that often even the world-famous, NYT best-selling authors get few comments, whereas there can be many comments on some food blogs,(sadly, not mine). And I am not talking about those of famous TV chefs. Nevertheless, a few of the writers interview others and being among the few commentors, I subsequently win a number of books. So many so that I sometimes feel guilty and remove myself from the competition if I have won several from one blog in a short amount of time, although I still want to leave a comment if there are none or very few.

In getting so many books, many may wait some time before they are read, especially if they are digital. I do win a number of paperback and hardbound books, many of them autographed, personally autographed. And many big-name best-selling authors not only have fan pages on Facebook, they actually “FRIEND” their readers.

But I digress.

Long ago I noticed that if a ‘different’ movie made, another with the same premise did. I am not talking about a romantic comedy, which are almost always girl-hates-boy, girl-loves-boy, boy-disappoints-girl, boy-gets-girl back…in the case of rom-coms, you have to be Zen about it: It is not the destination, Grasshopper, it is the journey…( you travel with the writing and the  performances).

Now, it seems to be happening more and more with books, especially romance novels or mysteries, that is, cozy mysteries.
Suddenly, even prolific writers with well-running series are doing other series where the protagonist are doing what other writers’ protagonists are doing, mostly needle/sewing shops , bookshops and bakeries.

There are so many stories that have someone going to a small town and almost immediately being not only completely embraced by nearly all of the ‘Locals’, her,(it’s usually it’s a her), business seems to thrive. By thriving I mean that although she may complain that she has to worry about making the bills, she sometimes drives an expensive car and she often eats out, travels far and seldom blinks at the prices o her suppliers. The biggest annoyance is that she can always afford top-notch employees who can virtually do all of her business while she is out helping friends and family, sleeping in late with Mr. Right-or-Wrong, or following him around. (Which she does badly, because she only overhears part of a conversation or sees him enter some dodgy place which she totally misconstrues into a wrong, worst-case scenario.) Having been in business in a small community, I know all of this is so far off-the-mark, it should be under sci-fi.

Do you have any idea how terribly hard it is to insinuate yourself into a small town, let alone get a business up, running and have steady customers? If there was a need for the shop or business, someone would have opened one; you can’t compete with a local, established business already ensconced in a town, no matter how badly run or how bad the owner is; he’s related to everyone  or the citizens have always done business with his family . If there wasn’t a need for the shop, no one will see a need now; they are set in their ways…and they are suspicious. Do you know how expensive it is to start up any kind of business? You need to come  up with  money for rent, equipment, utilities, licenses,supplies, taxes, …and money to pay employees. Even successful businesses usually take at least three years before turning a profit at all; you better have another source of income or have a trust-fund, and that is while you are working your little fingers to the bone. You have to rely on a unique or pretty darned-good talent. Even at that, if you can leave the business workings every day,( be it floral arrangements, making cupcakes, bookbinding or glassblowing), on a whim in the hands of employees, your product is not all that special and you are going to fall flat even in a boom-town, let alone a small town. You aren’t going to have the dough to do anything…probably not even have enough to leave town.

A few good writers have solved this dilemma in a few believable ways. One way is to have the main character return to a small town; the townfolk are the main character’s people and the business is already a family one that has been thriving or needs an update. There are also family members who can fill in for free or on the cheap when they need them.
Several other writers use a plausible approach for their new-in-town-yet-making-it characters by giving them extra business through mail-order for their specialty, (it must be unique to work),or by supplying their goods or work to a boom in the town…(and getting a contract for something new and now essential, such as hi-tech or health foods), supplying their work or good to a nearby city, or by giving a not-too-fresh look to a business that is vacated by an elderly citizen,( or the sudden death of one), who has no one to take over his/her particular skill. And that skill better not be out-dated. Unless the late craftsman was the only blacksmith in a very horsey area, the protagonist better have a lucrative career as a novelist under another name or is a still-rich prince-in-exile, he better forget about doing business under a spreading chestnut tree.

None of this was what I had intended to talk about today, but I guess I needed to vent more than I did on Facebook last week.

Is anyone else bothered by the points I raised? Would you care to add anything?

Posted in authors, Book Reviews, Books, Random thoughts, Tonette Joyce, Uncategorized, writing | Tagged , , , , , , , | 8 Comments

New Release: Hid Wounded Reb

Announcing my newest novel, “Hid Wounded Reb

A novel in the Somerset Series

By Jeff Salter

            Everyone has secrets… some just hold theirs tighter.
— 
           Cold secrets are finally warming up… and Kelly can feel the heat.

            Kelly is haunted by the mysterious involvement of her landlord’s ancestor with a wounded soldier in 1863, while her boyfriend researches the unsolved murder of an unidentified horseman in that same Kentucky community a few years after the Civil War. As Kelly and Mitch assist each other’s research, tantalizing discoveries seem to connect their subjects.

HidWoundedReb-JLSalter-v4

Kelly’s initial assignment is to research the cemetery which started 144 years ago with the death of a battle-wounded Rebel hidden briefly in the Butler family cabin. But the actual facts are clouded with hazy family legends, including possible involvement of a second soldier — the dead man’s cavalry buddy. Mitch’s belated study of the stranger murdered at the church yard has also hit baffling snags.

            When surprising old documents surface and rekindle fading memories, the uncovered secrets could help solve both cold cases. But those investigations are hampered when Kelly harbors a terrified girl (with her own complicated secrets) who brings danger close behind. 

The exciting prequel to “Called to Arms Again”

Only $4.99 in digital formats

Amazon Buy link:
http://www.amazon.com/Hid-Wounded-Reb-Somerset-Book-ebook/dp/B00MTA3X76/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1409189356&sr=1-1&keywords=hid+wounded+reb

 Barnes & Noble buy link:
http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/hid-wounded-reb-j-l-salter/1120159011?ean=2940150676473

 

Posted in Uncategorized | 8 Comments

Not My Flavor of Kool-Aid (or Why I’m NOT dumping a bucket of ice water on my head)

Let’s get one thing straight.  I don’t do cold.

Unless you’ve been on another planet, I’m sure you’re aware of the hyper viral ALS Ice Bucket Challenge.  And if not, in a nutshell, people have been challenging others to dump a bucket of ice water on their head and make a $10 donation OR forgo getting wet and make a $100 donation.  I’ve been considering how I want to address this, so having a free week to blog about whatever is on our minds came at a perfect time.  (In the time that I was initially scribbling my thoughts on a notepad, I saw Mike Rowe’s (of Dirty Jobs fame) post on Facebook on why he’s not doing it.  He says so much more beautifully some of my thoughts, but I have a few more.  Go find it and read it.)

Ice is for chilling a lovely bottle of Chardonnay.  Or a cooler full of beer.  Or wrapping it up to put on a bruise or other injury to keep down swelling.  Or for that most noble of purposes, allowing vodka to be poured over it in a cocktail shaker and dutifully staying behind as vodka and its friend vermouth are strained into a martini glass to be joined with their olive buddies.  Or, you know, transporting human organ donations, though I believe they use its dry cousin, but whatever.

My point is that I am all in favor of donating to charity.  I am NOT in favor of public guilt-shaming for those who choose not to participate.  Don’t get me wrong, I’ve enjoyed quite a few of the videos.  Jon Bon Jovi’s comes to mind.  Same with Chris Hemsworth (Thor), Tom Hiddleston (Loki) or just about any of the superheroes from the Marvel movie universe.  I thought Dave Grohl’s Carrie-inspired video was quite creative.  And heaven knows I laughed at many of the ice bucket FAILS.  Just this morning I saw the video of a 2 year old who drops the F-bomb after being attacked.  Who in the hell challenges a TWO YEAR OLD?!  First off, I know as a 2 year old, I didn’t have $10 to donate much less $100.  I can’t blame that little one for dropping the F-bomb. But that’s partly why I have a problem with the ice bucket challenge.

One of my issues is that I don’t respond well to any “Drink this Kool-Aid or else you’re a horrible person” mentality.  I generally don’t do chain letters.  (Viral campaigns are simply the new electronic version.)  I don’t do videos of myself.  I rarely take selfless, much less videos.  I don’t do the “Copy and paste if you love Jesus/your dog/your daughter/your mom/your spouse/vodka.”  Trust me.  They all know how I feel about them.  I don’t have to plaster it all over Facebook.  I don’t post 7 lines from the 7th paragraph from page 7 of my Work In Progress. I may have posted my bra color that one time (for breast cancer awareness) but when they got all crazy with the “I like it on the countertop” or wherever you set your purse, I failed to see how that contributed to breast cancer awareness.  However, I’m sure it boosted mental illness awareness because your friends all questioned your sanity when you posted, “I’m all out of toilet paper.  Goodbye socks!”  (I forgot what the hell that one is about.)  I’ve been known to drink certain flavors of Kool-Aid while avoiding others.  (I read Twilight but refuse to read Fifty Shades of Grey.)  Many people have posted that Polish proverb about not getting involved in other people’s drama.  “Not my circus.  Not my monkeys.”  I’m amending that.  I can be considered crazy at time with things I’ll take on, but this Ice Bucket Challenge is not my brand of crazy and it’s not my flavor of Kool-Aid.

Another thing that bugs me is that there doesn’t seem to be an end to it.  I grew up watching Jerry Lewis’s Labor Day Telethon to raise money for the Muscular Dystrophy Association.  It started the Sunday evening before and ended about 6 PM on Labor Day.  Roughly 24 hours.  It was done until the next year.  We have Autism Awareness Month and this month and that week.  Is there an end to this ice bucket craziness?  Truth be told, most of the videos posted aren’t even of people I know anymore.  It’s friends of my friends.

Let’s get a few more things straight.  I don’t begrudge anyone who has taken part in this because they know or have known someone affected by ALS.  I don’t begrudge anyone who felt like they were making a difference.  Hell, I can’t deny that it was a genius marketing campaign by the ALS Association.  I don’t even fault those who were guilt-tripped into doing it because they don’t want to incur bad karma.  I don’t even begrudge those who nominated me.  Rock on with your ice water.  But I ain’t doing it.

Notice I didn’t say that I won’t donate.  I will, but in the amount of my choosing.  I have been made aware.  But I’m also acutely aware that there are other noble causes out there.  I know of several parents who are spending insane amounts of time at the hospital while their kids are being treated for cancer.  The more I give to one charity, the less I have for others.  And what about other non-disease but worthy causes out there?  How many of you have kids on a sports team trying to sell coupon books?  Dance teams holding a car wash?  Elementary schools selling overpriced wrapping paper or cookie dough just so teachers don’t have to dig into their own pockets any more than they already do to provide for their classrooms?

And another thing…If the point of dumping ice water on your head is that people willingly submit themselves to a moment of unpleasantness, then why the hell are you doing it in AUGUST!  The height of summer.  Ninety plus degrees.  Want to impress me?  Do that shit in January.  Every football coach who wins their bowl game gets it with sticky-ass Gatorade.  They all get a pass in my book.

But dumping ice water on my head because of peer pressure?  Not my brand of crazy.  Not my flavor of Kool-Aid.

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Oh Cool! I Did It!

the reason for my headline is that Word Press would not let me post my Tuesday  post for the LONGEST time, but now it’s up!  But I digress, here’s my post:

I don’t have much to report on for my free week, this time. I’m still working on covers for my trilogy’s release. I’ve decided I’m going to list it with pre-orders on Amazon and release it Thanksgiving week as a Christmas release for peeps (who like to gift trilogies) to give as a gift. Here’s a direct link to my Internet Radio interview, if you missed it: http://www.spreaker.com/show/ihuntghosts-radio scroll down and you’ll find my name.

 

It seems like all good things must come to an end with Iris leaving the group (hate to see her go); and the original anchors of The View leaving their group (and my boyfriend deciding he doesn’t want to be in the bf/gf relationship any longer). :’(

                                                                                               All Good Things Must Come to an End 

But endings always make for new beginnings, don’t they? :)

 

Posted in Uncategorized | 12 Comments

Auf Wiedersehen …

It’s time to say farewell … or as we say in Germany “Auf Wiedersehen”, which means ‘until we meet again’. Much more appropriate, I believe.

Why do I leave this incredibly interesting blog, with incredibly wonderful people, who made me laugh, think and part of a great friendship?

Lack of time, I’m afraid.

Life’s got too busy, and it’s time to look after myself a bit more. But I won’t bore you with the detail, but might remind you of the great time we shared here.

Like: our James Bond months. Of course, I had to bring that up in the first sentence. It was one of the highlights of the year.

Like: bringing the attention of various “lesser known” illnesses to readers. We got sensational feedback for those posts.

Like: the various guests we’ve had. The foxes and our hound are always inviting interesting guests, and it’s been a pleasure getting to know them.

Like: my daughter’s take over on various Mondays. I am so proud of her, and she did so well expressing herself in words!

But, I have to admit, I’m a bit worried about who’s going to count down the days of the year for you all? Perhaps a little legacy I might leave behind :-)

With that said, today is the 25 August, which is the 237th day of the year in the Gregorian calendar. There are 128 days remaining until the end of the year. … And ….  whattayouknow it’s also ….. Sean Connery’s Birthday !!!!

Farewell, Goodbye, Au Revoir, Auf Wiedersehen, Adiós, slán leat – I thank you all for a wonderful time.

As a present … it was “Be An Angel Day” last Friday, and I’m giving away ebooks of FRESH BEGINNINGS … feel free to enter.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Now let’s find some tissues …..

Posted in Australia, authors, Friendship, GIveaways/Contest, Iris Blobel, Life | Tagged , , , , , , , , , | 16 Comments

Trouble On the Line

The topic of the week is about mistaken identities on the phone or strange/funny wrong numbers.

I nearly used up the story last week about how I was often mistaken for my sister on the phone either by all the relatives or when we worked together, which caused considerable communications problems at the office. She is quite a character and before we were married, my husband knew enough never to take the chance in mistaking her for me. He knew my sister could easily lead him on to say to her what he intended to say to me, but it got very old hearing him on the other end of the line ask “Nickie?” when I answered the phone at my family’s home…so much so that at one point I said, “NO, do you want to speak with HER?
From then on, he asked her she was me. He learned.

But wrong numbers have been a real problem for me.

A a few reoccurring ones happened. I once got a call from someone who identified herself as a writer and asked if she could ask me a few questions. The woman sounded suspiciously like my sister lowering her voice and since my sister was the one who always wanted to be a writer, I played along. The woman then asked me about gestation of horses. You see, when we lived in Colorado, our exchange was 433; in Boulder one was 443. A dude ranch there had the same number as we did, except for the wrong doubled number in the exchange and I got calls for them constantly, so much so that I learned much about the family who ran the place.
I got calls from workers who were running late coming into town,(sometimes in the middle of the night). I got misdialed numbers from their family and friends. I was asked about equipment I [they] had listed in the paper for sale. My son was asked if we were putting up hay even after he had informed the woman who called that they had the wrong number, (he was nine and very amused). The worst part was that a tourist guide that went to all of the major hotels in Denver misprinted my number as the ranch’s. I got so many calls that I said I’d be tempted to get a couple of horses and cash in on it, but I had a townhouse; not even one Shetland pony would have fit next to the deck. Finally, the manager of the Radisson called me to double-check his information, apologized and promised to straighten it out with the tour book people.

I never got another call asking for horses or hay.

Soon after we were married and had a new phone number, I was very surprised to get a call from an aunt of mine who never called me. After a comedy of errors, it was not my aunt at all, but a woman who sounded like her and, apparently, I sounded like the niece she was trying to reach. I had been getting calls for the woman who was a deadbeat and I could not convince the creditors that I was not her. (They even lied and told me they were from a carpet-cleaning service and had a deal for me/her.) I begged the people to look the number up under our name in the phone book, but it didn’t work. Then I knew why; not only did the woman have the phone number just before me, but I also sounded like her.

Before we arrived in this small town in Kentucky, almost everyone had had the same number forever and there had been one exchange: 348. About the time we moved in a boom started and they added another:349. Of course, I got calls for the 348-xxx number all the time, or one number off. There was a very , shall we say, popular female in the area and she had one number different than ours. Let me tell you, she got around. I let a drunkard ‘friend’ of hers get away with waking me at 3:00 AM a couple of times, but I finally gave it to him, the gist of which was that if he was going to get drunk and call “B”, he’d better be more careful about dialing the number and not scaring the wit’s out of people in the middle of the night , thinking it was some emergency. I bawled him out so bad he never called again.

I wonder if he ever called “B” again, for that matter.

Shortly after, they decided to put a racetrack in on the other side of town. I got continual calls for them, again, they were one number off and some people insisted that my number was listed for that place in a guide, AGAIN. I tried to get the track to approach the publication, but they blew me off. I instructed the family not to give the track’s number to callers; let the track lose business or get complaints, then maybe they’d straighten it out. During race season, I let the recorder,(pre-voicemail), screen my calls, with this message: “You have reached 502-349-xxxx; this is a PRIVATE HOME. If you wish to speak with the family, please leave a message after the beep. Thank you.” Yet, I often received messages such as: “Yeah, uh, I was callin’ to find out when y’all’s trials start”. Nobody listens.

One friend from Colorado used to make fun of me and whenever she’d want to talk, I got recordings like this: “If this PRIVATE PERSON in this PRIVATE HOME would receive a PRIVATE call from a PRIVATE friend…” Or “I have a horse I’d like to enter in a race”, even though it is a car racetrack. She found it all very humorous…SHE found it humorous.

Another “friend” here would call for years and always greeted my “Hello? with ”Is this the racetrack?” He also found himself very amusing. It was funny the first time…only the first time.

Here, people are paranoid. I do one misdial, caller ID kicks in and the people call me back to ask what I wanted, how I got their number and to stop bothering them…after one time.

One New Year’s Eve my sons misdialed when they calling my mother to wish her a “Happy New Year” at midnight. The woman whose number they misdialed called me several times afterward, telling me there were no coincidences and that I called her for a reason…there was no reason and she was unreasonable. It was obvious that she was disturbed so I talked her down. In a small town, it is particularly frightening.

My mother once received quite a number of calls in a row from a fellow with a heavy Spanish accent asking for “Rosita”; he simply didn’t understand that he was calling the wrong number. My mother had taken Spanish many years before, plus, Italian and Spanish are quite similar, but I could not convince her to explain to him in his native language that he had the wrong number. She was afraid he’s start a string of Spanish that she would no longer able to follow.

I often wonder if he ever found Rosita.

I did not intend to tell this story, but since Janette brought up a similar situation…
Some years ago my sister’s then-boyfriend used to call her in the wee hours of the morning during the break he had at work. One night he called her and asked, “What are you doing?” Although she had been sleeping, she said, “Waiting for you to call.” He then said something so outlandish to her that she never told me, but just as she said “WHAT?!!!” to him, call-waiting beeped in. At the time there were a few volatile situations in the family, so she told him, “Wait!”. She had every intention of reading him the riot act when she got back to him, but when she switched to the other line, there was her boyfriend; she had an obscene phone caller on hold …and had told him  she had been waiting for him to call! Ooops.

Can anybody top that one?

I’d love to hear any strange calls or comedy of errors on your phone.

Posted in Family, Friendship, Life, Tonette Joyce | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , | 6 Comments

We’re sorry, the number you have dialed…

We’re sorry, the number you have dialed…

By Jeff Salter

This week we’re discussing telephonic mishaps. There are various kinds: wrong numbers, mistaken identities (on either end), or, as some of the Foxes have mentioned so far… getting numbers that bring problems with them.

Let’s see which categories my anecdotes fit into.

 

When, as a very young military family at our first permanent duty station in New Mexico, we got our phone, little did we know that they’d given us the last four digits of the base information number. Yep. No longer remember the number but let’s say it was x-1234. In that town, in that day, you dialed only the last digit of the prefix and the four particular numbers. The exchange for Clovis was 7-1234, whereas the exchange for all the Cannon AFB numbers was 5-1234. I don’t recall the actual prefixes anymore, but suffice it to say that most of the people calling from Clovis assumed the base number began with their same prefix. So… they got our home phone instead of Base Information. After we’d received some three or four dozen of these calls, at all hours of the day and night, I begged the phone company to give us a different number. They would, they said, but had to charge us a disconnect and re-connect fee. So I pleaded my case to enough different people that someone in authority, finally, recognized we were not changing numbers on a whim but out of sanity-necessity. They gave us a new number. And I always wondered if they ever just voided that number… or continued to give it out to new schmucks who moved to their town.

 

When we were a younger family, we moved several times in a fairly few number of years. So we’ve had plenty of new numbers in new places. [ To any youngsters reading this: in the old days you did NOT keep your phone in your pocket/purse. It had a wire that was secured to the wall and the number stayed in the town that you just left. ] I no longer remember where, or how often, but I know at each new town, we’ve gotten calls – sometimes even years afterwards – from somebody wanting to speak with [whomever]. Sometimes we’d imagine it was a relative or old friend, but often it was a bill collector or investigator of some kind. In many of those instances, the caller acted as though we were actually shielding the party in question. As though the person they wanted was right there in the room with us and we were flat-out lying to the caller. In a few cases, their behavior was insulting. By possessing the number of that bad egg, we had somehow become as guilty as they’d been (for whatever they’d done to warrant that call).

 

At a huge military base (McClellan AFB) in Sacramento CA, our boss (Capt. Hawksworth) came into the newsroom, where the Lt. and I worked on the weekly base newspaper. He said, “I’ve just had an interesting call from McDonnell.” Of course we both knew McDonnell as the aircraft manufacturing company McDonnell-Douglas, and we probably had a half dozen of their planes on that complex. We were appropriately interested and he went on. “I assumed he wanted to tour the base, especially the hangars, but the caller talked about getting the base to participate in a joint promotional program.” We listened closer because we both figured he was about to assign us to the project. “So I rattled off some information and told them about the contract process and the legal concerns, etc., and the caller acted confused.” So were we. The captain continued. “Finally he said, ‘Look buddy, we’re just trying to drum up some burger business from the base’.” At that point Hawksworth grinned sheepishly. “That was when I realized I was talking to McDonald’s instead of McDonnell-Douglas.” A logical mistake for an Air Force officer. He left our office space shaking his head. We both figured we’d never get a burger coupon.

 

About a week ago, my fancy new semi-smart phone received a text message:  “Hey its [a girl’s name]. Wanna hangout today? And would u be able to pick me up at 3:10 at [a local high school name]??.”

Well, I’ve been propositioned before, but this was my first time by text message. So I replied, “I think you have the wrong number.”

She replied. “Sorry that girl took my phone.”

I wonder what would’ve happened if I had not corrected her about the wrong number and just let her boyfriend get into trouble for not showing up at 3:10.

 

What about YOU? Ever had any phone mishaps?

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