Tod Edit, or Not To Edit – Testimonials

In my travels around the world… of reading, I have encountered the world of short, testimonial anthologies.

Most of you are familiar at least with the premise of the “Chicken Soup for the Soul” books: people submit their personal stories and writers help them put it into certain form and they are published along with others of like topic.

The best of these is the “Chicken Soup for the Writer’s Soul”, with stories from the lives of famous writers. (The story by Garry Marshall alone made me buy a copy for myself because it personally resonated with me.) Not only is this edition of interest to me because of the writers and their lives, but it an ‘easier read’ than the other Chicken Soup books. It didn’t take me long to figure out why; they let the writers’ stories stand as they were.

Early on I realized that, with as inspirational as the stories contained within the Chicken Soup books may be, they become tedious. Why? Because, as I mentioned, they have their writers ‘help’ with the contributor’s stories, but in doing so, they make them all have the same formula, the same ‘tenor’.



There are also the ‘play them where they lay’ books, compilations of peoples’ experiences, unvarnished and un-rewritten.  Some of these are outstanding and are served well by their editors’ work. Others simply let their contributors put their feelings down, but as heartfelt as they may be, there is a reason why some people are paid well to write; it isn’t as easy as it seems.  Some of the stories are almost embarrassing to read, not for the feelings or intimacy, but for the poor way in which they are written.

I applaud the editors and compilers of these stories, (some have been guests; a recent guest does an outstanding job with hers), but I have to wonder about the others.

Have you encountered this type of book?  I am truly of two minds, or maybe three, about them. Too much rewriting and editing takes the heart out of the reader, (if not the story), but those with bad grammar, repetitiveness and poor communication skills takes the heart from me, too.


I often used to listen to The Library of Congress’ “Story Corps” which collects people’s stories. This was meant to record and preserve stories by older folks because family stories are no longer being passed down. However that, and “The Moth”, (both on NPR), have changed their focus to basically one particular portion of society, and it is a real shame. The stories told in persons’ own words and with their personal feeling were very touching and meaningful.

We can all be enriched by other peoples’ experiences.

But to edit lightly without changing the relator’s feelings or personality seems reasonable to me, rather than to let them overplay or underplay a good message.

What are your feelings about these, or about the Chicken Soup books?

Posted in Anthologies, author interview, book review, Books, collections, Conpilations, decisions, experiences, Faith-centered stories, Guest author, inspiration, inspirational people, Life, memories, short stories, Tonette Joyce, writers | Tagged , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Guest Hound Steve VanHorn Part TWO

Welcome back, Steve

By Jeff Salter

Like most everybody, I suppose, I hate to break off an interesting conversation right in the middle, before my talented friend has a chance to finish. But my back-and-forth with Steve turned out to be so lengthy, that we simply had to split it over two appearances. Here’s Part One, which appeared last month:

That portion of the interview dealt mostly with Steve’s background, his writing, and what led him to write. [It also features links to his blog and to a couple of samples of his writing.] Today, in this second half, we’ll deal with some of Steve’s numerous other talents and interests — besides writing.

  1. Welcome back, Steve.

[ *** SVH *** ] — Hi Jeff! It’s great to be back as your guest. I had such a great time with part one of our interview. It was nice to hear from old and new friends who were curious about this guy from Rhode Island who ended up in Kentucky. I can’t believe that one month has gone by so quickly, and how many things have happened since December. The healing process from my surgery seems to be 100 % complete, and the same is so for tackling the dreams and demands of our farm. Thank you for the invitation. I look forward to corresponding with our readers in Part 2 of our interview.

  1. Tell us where you lived before you moved to Kentucky. How do you respond when people suggest you might be a “yankee”?

[ *** SVH *** ] — Ah, I am a New Englander, through and through — born and raised in Rhode Island. I grew up in the little town of Ashaway and loved it there. The Pawcatuck River runs on the border of Ashaway and Westerly and drains into the Atlantic Ocean. When I was 13 my dad gave me a boat. On that river I was able to live a Tom Sawyer life. When people refer to me as a yankee, which happens more often than not, a part of me longs for home…but not because of why you may think.
Yankee is a relative term; heck, anybody born on the north side of the Mason Dixon line can be considered a yankee. But, where I come from, there is a special kind of yankee… a swamp yankee. I, proudly, am a swamp yankee. We are the group that keeps the old times alive and real… we’re the long story tellers. We remember our roots. We invented “yankee ingenuity” and do our best to pass it along. Once a year this spirit is commemorated with Swamp Yankee Days. Hit-n-miss motors, maple syrup tappin’, saw mill operating, old tractor drivin’, found-this-old-implement-out-in-the-barn-and-got-it-workin’, Honey bee keepin’, doing what’s never been tried before and making it work, kind of people… and I do miss them dearly.

  1. Tell us about the multi-faceted enterprise we know as Harmony Acres. About 15 years ago, was this something you ever imagined you’d be doing?

[ *** SVH *** ] — If anyone had told me in July of 2003 that I’d be living on a farm in Kentucky the following July (2004), I’d have thought they were crazy. Honestly, I never even drove a tractor until after moving here. We brought two miniature horses (Harmony and Star), along with Amanda’s quarter horse (Cowboy), plus our dog (Bailey) and two cats (Skittles and Chester) with us when we moved. Sadly, they’ve all passed on.
Since our horses were the foundation of the farm, we based the unfinished barn around their needs. After the previous owner relocated the property’s resident cows, Donna and Amanda took out all the barbed wire and we set all new lines with a horse friendly tape fence. After the first year I had the crazy idea to start a blueberry field; 5 of our 28+ acres and 3000 plants. We laid out the field, drilled every hole, and (with the help of my brother and some friends) we planted 3000 bushes. After three years of hard drought, lack of irrigation and poorly researched planting methods, our field, for the most part, failed. We tried to limp it along for a few more years, but finally waved a white flag and moved on.
We helped a friend thin his thornless blackberry patch and he let us bring home some cuttings as starters. I started with two 100 foot rows. They took off like wildfire. I planted a third row the following year, and three more rows a couple of years later. We now have 600 feet of trellised blackberries, from which Donna and I picked 350 pounds last year.
I started working on an orchard – apples, peaches and pears – on part of the property where the blueberries used to be. We salvaged about 20 blueberry bushes and have them on our front property, as well as a little strawberry patch.
The three of us have experimented with gardens all over the farm. We have tried many different things over the years, tossing what doesn’t work, and keeping what does.
Amanda has been the brain behind all the expansion of fields, fences, run-ins, and horses. She is the owner of her horse business. She (very orderly) keeps all the records, schedules, and horses’ care. She also has a site, Harmony’s Cheesecakes, where she will bake a delicious cheesecake to order. She also bakes and sells shortbread.
Donna is certified for canning our produce; jams, relishes, pickles, to name a few. She also bakes different breads as the season permits. One of my favorites is her blueberry gingerbread. It’s hard for a guy to watch his figure, with these girls around.
This has been a growing venture that I never would have imagined when we first moved here.


The cabin BEFORE renovation.

  1. Anyone who has an operation such as yours also has a LOT of equipment. How do you keep everything running… and ready for the next project?

[ *** SVH *** ] — I have less equipment than one might think. We brought our old Sears Craftsman mower down here with us and I bought a 1956 Ford 600 tractor with a 6 foot finish mower shortly thereafter. I have collected several implements for the old Ford over the years. Most of our hauling is done with a garden tractor and dump cart. We later added a Cub Cadet garden tractor with a 54-inch cut and a locking differential option for when hauling conditions are slick. The Ford is a tough old gal, but I’ve rebuilt the carburetor and put in a new starter. One time the wiring caught fire out in the field…but for the most part, greasing every fitting every time, keeping things tight and sharp, and checking all the fluids have been a good maintenance program (thanks to my grandfathers on both sides). My biggest problem has been with flat tires. I had contemplated changing the name to, Flat Tire Farm at one point, but bought some “no flat” tires for the dump cart instead. So now the harmony in Harmony Acres remains.


The cabin exterior AFTER renovation

  1. In addition to your full-time culinary job – and all the daily duties of tending to the acreage – I see that you assist your wife (Donna) in the gardening, harvesting, and canning of various consumables. Plus, you seem to help your daughter (Amanda) with the horses and the riding lessons. Where do you get all that energy? Are you ever tempted to say, “The [gardens / horses] are YOUR job, Hon. I’m gonna take a nap.”?

[ *** SVH *** ] — Ha! The three of us love each other so much and make a pretty good team — it requires the combined effort of all. We do have our designated jobs, more or less, but will never let any one struggle if something is out of the ordinary. I am usually the enthusiastic one with the bright idea for a new whatever, or to clear a different spot, or to add a thus-an-such. I always say that all any project needs is time and money. Getting those two things to coincide is the hard part… so we try to use what the land provides. I’m not sure where the energy continues comes from… but I try to make the most of it while I still can.


Interior of the renovated cabin

  1. I know that little FORMERLY run-down cabin holds a special place in your vision of Harmony Acres… and now (I believe) your daughter resides there. What was it about the cabin that caught your eye? How much work did it require to retrofit it to its current living standards?

[ *** SVH *** ] — When things started happening with the sale of our house in RI, it happened fast! Suddenly our place was sold and we had not yet found a place here. When we flew down and began looking, we loved the land or loved the house, but never loved the two together.
This farm had been taken off the market, pending a survey. When that survey reflected slightly less acreage than the buyer had been told, he backed out and our agent was allowed to show the place to us. When we crested the driveway, Donna saw the covered wrap around porch and I saw the cabin. We both fell in love! We liked the gently rolling acres and the house, being a simple single level with extra wide hallways and doors, was one we felt we could retire in. We were signing the papers when that original buyer returned to see if the property was still available. It wasn’t… it was ours now. What a small window of opportunity we’d actually had — nothing like being in the right place at the right time.
The cabin existed before the house, even before the previous owner. They did live in it and had some crudely run plumbing and wiring, and a two seater out house by the creek. There used to be an open porch on the side of the cabin which we closed in to add to the living space. The cabin had a 200 amp service on it but no septic. The plumbing – run to a water heater, sink, and shower stall – all led directly into the creek through a single pipe which had burst (and destroyed the floors) long before we moved in. In retrospect, it would have been easier to doze the cabin over than repair it, but I am nostalgic, a romantic, and…thrifty (cheap), so we made things work as we had the money. I spent 13 years on and off restoring it. The floors were ripped out, some joists replaced and I had to jack and level the entire cabin, one corner at a time. We replaced the windows, doors, opened up between the main cabin and the old porch adding support beams and walls. A chimney was ripped off the side of the cabin, and soffits were cut back. Amanda and I put new metal on the roof. All the wiring was completely replaced. I hired a plumber to run the water lines and vents. I also hired a septic guy to put in a new system and build a road from our driveway to the cabin. When Amanda showed an interest in it, special attention was given to the kitchen. I’d been given a lot of old lumber and made the best possible use for it. The cabin is approximately 470 sq. ft. and I am absolutely head over heels with the way it came out. Truth be told, it is nicer than the house.
Donna’s uncle had come to visit the first summer we were here. Donna had him take a picture of us, all holding pitchforks, in front of the cabin to be used as Christmas postcards to be sent to our friends and family up north. When some of them received the cards, they actually thought the cabin was our only dwelling and that we had lost our minds for moving down here.


The rather pitiful truck BEFORE Steve began restoring it.

  1. Tell us about that old pickup truck you acquired and are actively restoring. Is there something particular about that model / year that caught your eye? Or would almost any pickup from that era have scratched your itch?

[ *** SVH *** ] — In high school I always had some type of old Chevy truck — the ’54 panel, a ’51 stake body, a ’53 pickup. Also a ’56 Buick for cruising and even a ’71 super beetle painted panther pink. When Donna and I first bought my grandparents house back in the late 80’s, I had restored the garage and turned it into my body shop. I restored a slew of old vehicles; some for myself, and some for friends.
When the kids reached an age where they were interested in animals and the 4H, we sold the house and bought a small 2 ¾ acre farm. I traded my body shop in for a barn. It wasn’t until Amanda was about to turn 16, that I put my skills back to work. Amanda wanted to learn to weld. We found a 1976 Ford Ranchero and restored it as her first car. She helped every step of the way, and loved participating in the Somernites Cruise circuit.
Several more years went by and the itch for restoring an old truck was strong. I was actually searching craigslist for a 1954 Chevy pickup, my favorite year. There was something about that 1966 Ford pickup that I really liked. I liked the short-bed and the step side (or flare side, as the true Ford enthusiast call it) feature of the bed. But most of all I liked that it was an old Kentucky State Road Truck, still covered with the remnants of the decals from its glory days. There have been times where it has almost got the best of me, but I can picture the finished work. I really want to honor the truck by restoring it back to original. I’ve traced, measured, and photographed every decal and number on the truck, and intend on replacing them once the truck is repainted to the hideous yellow that it once was. I think it’s a cool piece of history.


Truck’s front & side — during renovation

  1. Harmony Acres has fields, hills, trees, dwellings, barns, cabin, and house. Is there anything else you wish you had on your acreage?

[ *** SVH *** ] — Do you mean besides a few brawny youngin’s to help with the chores and finding an old mason jar full of money? Haha!
I look at the farm as a work in progress. It seems to evolve as our dreams and wallet allow. We also have a fully functioning RV site with water, septic, and a 50 amp outlet. Donna and I have tossed around the idea of building a cabin for the two of us to retire in, on the front property. That would give Amanda the option for the house, and allow the other to be a rental or Air B and B.
Amanda would like a large indoor arena, but that is way out of budget. We will be adding at least two more run ins for the horses and hopefully another for the sheep this summer.
There is a beautiful spot on the farm with a huge white oak with branches the size of a big tree! A porch swing currently hangs there. When you look out from the tree towards the field, the rolling land makes a natural amphitheater — we’ve actually hosted a wedding there.
There is another corner of the property close to the orchard where a large number of Virginia Pines and cedars. The cedars host a fungus (cedar apple rust) which plays havoc with our apple trees. My future plan is to cut down the diseased cedars and use them to build a large covered platform next to the white oak. It could be used as a stage to host musicians… or serve as a camping platform. With all my heart, I try not to waste anything we take off the land.
We also have a couple of fencing projects which we may add to the mix soon. There’s never a dull moment at Harmony Acres!


Every part of the truck required work

  1. You live way out of town, with one boundary of your acreage actually bordering another county. Yet, you all three work in Somerset. Do you do most of your business in Somerset? Or do you shop and interact in Nancy… or other towns / villages?

[ *** SVH *** ] — Now that we all work in Somerset we do try to consolidate some of our shopping there. We generally take the bypass home, and that means that we miss going through the center of Nancy.
There is just something special about living in a small town, but Nancy’s corporate limits take up a lot of real estate.
For a small town, Nancy has a lot to offer. We frequent a couple of restaurants, the hardware store is well supplied and the prices are reasonable. It just makes sense to go there, rather than use extra fuel to drive to Somerset. Plus, you can talk to a guy who actually knows about the product he is selling.
Nancy has two banks and we all do business there. I always enjoy the personal face to face interaction with the tellers… getting to know one another. One snowy day, I stayed home because the roads would soon be covered. One of the tellers called to let me know they were closing early, in case I needed to do any banking.
Another time I was talking to the teller inside when I noticed something different outside at the drive thru window. There sat a man on horseback, doing his banking at the drive thru! You won’t find that in the big city anymore.

  1. Steve, as I look over these questions in the second half of our interview, I’m impressed that you’ve achieved what many / most of us dream of — except for those who thrive on the hustle / bustle of places like NYC or San Fran, or N’awlins. I’m reminded of Eddie Albert as Oliver Wendell Douglas in Green Acres who left Time Square for a little farm near Hooterville… except that your phone is indoors, your spouse is far more talented and capable than Gabor, and you don’t have a pig named Arnold. Any final comments?

[ *** SVH *** ] — Hahaha! I’d be lying if I said making the move wasn’t scary. Also, I may have learned a thing or two from Oliver and Lisa, oh, and of course, Arnold. All in all, I’m glad we gave Green Acres a try… and if there ever comes a time when farm livin’ is no longer the life for me, at least I can say that I gave it a try and enjoyed it when I could. We’ve learned a lot and made some pretty good friends!
Thank you again, Jeff, for considering me for this interview. It sure has been a lot of fun and I’ve truly enjoyed it!

[JLS # 472]


Posted in Uncategorized | 16 Comments

Book Review: Four White Roses



Award-winning author Judy Ann Davis is best known for her endearing characters and her unique colorful storytelling full of humor and wit. Four White Roses was a finalist in the Book Excellence Awards, the Georgia Romance Writers’ Maggie Award, and the American Fiction Awards.     “Can a wily old ghost help two fractured hearts find love again?”     When widower Rich Redman returns to Pennsylvania with his young daughter to sell his deceased grandmother’s house, he discovers Grandmother Gertie’s final request was for him to find a missing relative and a stash of WWI jewels.     Torrie Larson, single mom, is trying to make her landscape center and flower arranging business succeed while attempting to save the lineage of a rare white rose brought from Austria in the 1900s.
Together, the rich Texas lawyer and poor landscape owner team up to rescue the last rose and fulfill a dead woman’s wishes. But in their search to discover answers to the mysteries surrounding them, will Rich and Torrie also discover love in each other’s arms? Or will a meddling ghost, a pompous banker, and an elusive stray cat get in their way?

My Review

Four White Roses is a nice, clean romance with a touch of mystery and the paranormal. The old, romantic house is a perfect setting for a treasure hunt for hidden jewels, and the characters are all likable and easy to relate to, especially the kids in the story. The plot was well done also. It kept me turning pages because I wanted to know how it ended. If you enjoy a clean romance with a happy ending, I can recommend Four White Roses.


Posted in book review, Elaine Cantrell, Uncategorized | 8 Comments

Guest Author: Lucie Ulrich and Mountain View Lodge

lucie-ulrichJust over three years ago, I asked fellow Clean Reads author Lucie Ulrich to come and share her sweet romance called The Starlight Inn. I’d read the book and had been fascinated by the character Tillie Spencer. She’s not strictly a main character, in that she’s not part of the romance, but she plays a big part in getting the couple together. You can read Lucie’s post here. Last month, I noticed that Lucie was completing her third romance featuring Tillie and I realized I hadn’t read Mountain View Lodge, Book Two! I quickly ordered the book and asked Lucie to share a bit more about the mysterious Tillie. I’m so pleased she agreed, so I’ll pass the keyboard to her.


I’m often asked if one of my favorite characters, Tillie Spencer, is based on anyone I know. The answer is yes, and no. Tillie is a conundrum—sweet and angelic at times, a bit of a busybody at others, and sometimes, downright intrusive.  No matter her mood or tactics, her heart is always in the right place.

There isn’t a single “Tillie” in my life. There are many. My mother had a wicked sense of humor at times, but was no-nonsense when it came to following the rules. My mother-in-law had a gentle demeanor, but could be a bit prickly now and again. I have friends and family members who are filled with compassion, while others offer advice without being asked (and I love each and every one of them). Bits and pieces of each of these people, plus a good dose of imagination on my part, brought Tillie to life. She was never intended to be more than a one-time character, but before book one was finished, I knew she had to return.

To date, Tillie has appeared in two books (with a third near completion), bringing the reader to an inn in Maine, and a lodge in North Carolina. The fun for me is figuring out where Tillie goes next. In book three, she shows up on the east coast of Florida (my neck of the woods) to a small hotel I’ve tentatively named The Beach Shack. I love small towns and cozy lodgings, so creating them gives me great pleasure. My goal is for the reader to want to check in and stay a while.

A somewhat unusual aspect of the Tillie Spencer series, is that, though the books carry her name in the title, she’s a secondary character. She’s involved in the romance, but not part of it—which suits her just fine. She’s also a little on the mysterious side, sometimes knowing things before they happen, which often makes writing her scenes more fun than the romance portions of the books.

I came to the writing world later in life. I worked for an airline and traveled with my husband for seven or eight years, was a stay-at-home mom for sixteen, a substitute teacher, and eventual drama teacher/performing arts director. I’ve never had a job I didn’t love (save for working in a daycare center when I was 17). I have to say, however, that my absolute favorite is being an author. Creating characters and stories that reach and touch others, is an honor and a privilege. Just ask Tillie. She seems to know all.


61tajkgcpilBlurb for Mountain View Lodge (Tillie Spencer Novella Book Two):
     After his mother’s death, Coll MacPherson returns to the mountains of North Carolina to work for his aunt and uncle. His part-time position at Mountain View Lodge will allow him to hone his photography skills, and hopefully forget the woman who broke his heart. When Uncle Richard asks for Coll’s help to turn an unused storage building into a shop that would feature local art and artists, Coll figures things can’t get any better—until he meets Autumn Nichols.

Always the bridesmaid and never the bride has been Autumn’s mantra for the last few years. After three failed relationships, she’s convinced God is trying to tell her something. If she can just get through her best friend’s wedding, Autumn can focus on building her graphic design business while leaving all thoughts of love and marriage in the past—until she meets Coll MacPherson.

Both having loved and lost, Coll and Autumn are happy to settle for friendship. The enigmatic Tillie Spencer, on the other hand, has other ideas. She knows the two are perfect for each other, and, in typical Tillie-style, is determined to prove it.

Mountain View Lodge can be purchased from Amazon or Barnes and Noble.

Lucie can be found on Facebook, Twitter, and at her website.

I enjoyed reading Mountain View Lodge and I’ll post my review next week, when I share the first set of books read for my 2020 Goodreads Challenge.


GIVEAWAY TIME! Lucie is giving away a signed print copy of either of the Tillie books (or an ebook if the winner is outside the USA). To win, simply leave a comment below and tell us about a person in your life who’s provided guidance for you. A winner will be chosen on Wednesday, January 22, 2020 at noon EDT.


Posted in authors, book series, characters, Clean Writing, GIveaways/Contest, Guest author, Guest author post, Patricia Kiyono, romance | Tagged , , , , | 14 Comments

Overheard, But Not Remembered

“Have you overheard a conversation and added it in some way to a story?”

Apparently, this was a suggestion of mine and again, one that I wish I had made notations about when I thought it up. I cannot think of one overheard conversation which inspired a story to me.

I actually do have a line I overheard which I put down, thinking that it SHOULD inspire a story, but it has not, not yet anyway. Watch, as soon as I post this, I will overhear people talking and be inspired for my best piece yet!

What I HAVE been inspired by have been other people’s accounts of their experiences: a friend who survived birth when her twin did not, a friend who was called up on stage to assist in a magic show, friend’s family on an island. More of my writing is inspired by things in my life, although I have taken the ball and run in another direction more often than not.

I have always been discreet, and my family secrets are not something that I have used in stories.

Until recently.

A story told to me by my mother about the Black Sheep of the family, another one that he, himself, told at our house years later, and a third one which a cousin was told about him by her mother, (which she recently related to me), I realized that they are all part of ONE story, and it’s a juicy one!

All of the people involved are long gone, and the names will be changed. Only the one cousin and I know all of it, if, indeed, anyone left who knows any of it at all. I think that the story just may be ‘put out there’ sometime soon.

But sorry; I wish that I knew what I had in mind for this week’s topic.

Hmmm, but I am missing a good story somewhere in my mind.

About a year ago I did overhear an apparently long-married couple in a doctor’s waiting room. To be honest, it was obvious that they wanted to be overheard. I got the impression that I knew all about these people with the little that was said

and I can’t seem to forget them.

They need to be in a story.

Probably not their own story, one based on them alone, but I think they will make good characters. I just don’t know where they would go right now, and I can’t see using what I heard them say.

Give me time.

I will probably smack myself in the forehead when I go to edit or continue a story and see that a line or so was from an overheard conversation, but any elude me now.

That’s my problem; I’ve got too many ideas, but ones that were overheard?  Not coming to me just now, unfortunately.

Posted in big plans, characters, creating scenes, dialogue, experiences, Family, imagination, inspiration, inspirational people, Life, memories, shopping, Tonette Joyce, traditions | 7 Comments

I’m Not TRYING to Eavesdrop

But I Certainly Hear a LOT of Conversations

By Jeff Salter

This week’s topic asks whether we’ve ever overheard a conversation and added it in some way to a story. Wow… this is a goldmine! I’m constantly hearing or overhearing exchanges between / among folks — and most of them are (most likely) not even aware that anyone else is listening. In some of these cases it’s a matter of the individuals simply being quite loud — often they’re on their cell phone to someone else. Sometimes, as in one of my examples, below, they simply don’t take into account that someone is sitting in the very next booth, less than 12 inches between the back of their head and the back of mine. I mean… some people just don’t know how to lower their voices. Or they simply don’t care if anyone hears. Or – and I contemplate this often – maybe they WANTED everyone in the establishment to hear their conversation!

But have I used any of these overheard conversations in a “story”? Hmm. Depends on how you define “story”. I’ve used them in blogs and FB posts. It’s entirely possible that some have crept into my fiction… somewhere.


Example # 1 [posted on 10-21-2014]

Overheard a brief but fascinating conversation at the grocery this afternoon.
An older gent was moving slowly… and he grunted or grimaced as he approached the younger man (who evidently already knew him).
The younger man was also obviously a man of medicine because he remarked, “Ya got a hitch in yer git-a-long?”
His diagnosis must have been spot-on because the older gent replied affirmatively and proceeded to add a detail or two… which, unfortunately, I missed.
I only missed it because it would have been criminal eavesdropping had I lingered to learn the specific cause of his “hitch”. [You know… a HIPAA violation.]
All this medical diagnostic work and not a dime for the co-pay.
The most interesting aspect of this case is that my own git-a-long seems to have developed a hitch equal to that of this older gent’s.
Now I need to call the grocery and see if they know the name of that young doctor.

Example # 2 [posted on 12-9-2015]

Do you ever find yourself practically in the middle of somebody else’s conversation… but you wish you weren’t? You know, they’re in the next booth (which is about 8 inches away) and loudly talking and you can’t help overhearing. Here’s the one I overheard today.
[Names have been changed]
Guy # 1: You should go see Joe Doe, at ABC.
Guy # 2: Yeah, maybe I’ll do that. So what was his name?
Guy # 1: Joe Doe.
Guy # 2: Joe Doe, huh? And where’s he at?”
Guy # 1: He works at ABC, up on North 27.
Guy # 2: Good idea. I’ll check it out. Who should I ask for?
Guy # 1: Joe Doe. He’s the main guy.
Guy # 2: And that’s over where?
Guy # 1: North 27, just past XYZ. It’s the ABC place.
Guy # 2: Oh, ABC. That’s uh…
Guy # 1. On North 27.
Guy # 2: Okay. Sounds. like a plan. Who’s the guy again?
Guy # 1: Joe Doe.

Okay, folks, this is not verbatim, but it’s pretty durn close to their exchange. By the time we’d reached Guy # 2’s 14th question about the contact’s name, I was ready to write it on a napkin and just HAND it to him.
Have y’all ever been stuck on the fringes of a conversation like this?

Example # 3 [posted on 7-24-2012]

I was not eavesdropping, but could not help overhearing this conversation between two guys in the locker room at the ‘Y’.

Guy # 1 seemed to be consoling his friend and his voice sounded quite compassionate as he said: “…never let a woman hold your wallet or your watch.”
That caught my attention for several reasons — not the least of which was that wristwatches are rarely seen these days. Naturally, I assumed that voice belonged to an older man.

I couldn’t quite hear Guy # 2’s reply, but he seemed to affirm that platitude.

Then Guy # 1 repeated, presumably for emphasis (and to drive home his key points): “Nope… you never let a woman hold your wallet or your watch…
It seemed there was much more to Guy # 2’s misery and I longed to hear the summation of his experienced friend’s wise counsel. However, one of them apparently noticed I was in earshot… and their conversation ended abruptly when I turned the corner of that row of tall lockers.
I confess I was quite startled when I saw them.
It would have been remarkable advice even if Guy # 1 was not all of about 11 years old… and Guy # 2 (slightly larger) couldn’t have been more than 12.
True story.
One wonders how that little chap already has so much experience with women.

At the time I initially posted this on Facebook, one of my friends suggested this boy had probably heard that sage advice from an older brother or dad (or even an uncle). Someone else suggested – and I think this more likely – that he could’ve heard it from his grandpa.

However, another of my female friends – responding to the seeming immaturity of this boy – replied:

“I was quite reliable at 11, myself, and still am. I can add, ‘Never let a boy hold more than your hand.’ BOY meaning immature male of any age… in other words, most males.”


Have YOU ever overheard a jewel of a conversation? Can you share it?

[JLS # 471]

Posted in Uncategorized | 16 Comments

I Can’t Hear Well Enough to Do It

Return Engagement

This week’s topic was “Have you overheard a conversation and added it in some way to a story?”

I’ve thought about it, and, no, I don’t think I ever have. I’m a little hard of hearing so it would be tough to overhear a conversation anyway, LOL.

I have, however, included conversations I’ve had with my husband. (Just the way our Monday Fox did.) My husband gets to proofread my manuscripts even if he doesn’t want to. He usually has some type of criticism of my characters. One of my favorite characters is Richard Lovinggood from Return Engagement. I still think he’s absolutely dreamy. I had one romantic scene in the book where Richard sent small gifts to his love every hour on the hour one day. My husband read that and scowled at me. “I don’t like that. He’s trying to buy her love.” I didn’t think so because the gifts weren’t expensive. One of them was a giant Hershey’s kiss. Another was a couple of mylar balloons.

Anyway, he was reading my manuscript of Turnaround Farm, and to my surprise he said, “I really like this. Dan is a great hero.”

I thought about that for days but couldn’t figure it out. Dan’s great, no doubt about that, but I still liked Richard better. (Richard made an appearance in Turnaround Farm. He married Dan’s cousin Elizabeth.” It wasn’t until the book came out and I was looking through it that I realized why my husband liked Dan. Dan was based on my husband. It was all there, from his dislike of parties to his determination and everything in between. No wonder he liked Dan!

So, that’s about as close as I can come to adding real world conversations to a story. Maybe I should crank up my hearing aid and try to hear something really good! Maybe one day.

Posted in characters, Elaine Cantrell, inspiration, Uncategorized | 5 Comments