True Story Inspired My Novel

Hid Wounded Reb

By Jeff Salter

This week, 152 years ago, a local skirmish likely unknown to many outside Kentucky occurred hardly two miles from where I live. The Battle of Dutton’s Hill occurred on Mar. 30, 1863 on and around a knoll which is now near the junior high school.

One or two Confederate soldiers – either escaped the bloody aftermath of the Union victory here, or possibly abandoned or forgotten by their comrades – made their way to the cabin of elderly William Bishop and his young second wife, Mary Taylor Bishop, Nancy Catherine Bishop – my wife’s great-grandmother – was a child in that cabin.

In Yankee-Occupied Pulaski County, it would have been treason to harbor an enemy fugitive, but the Bishops took in the mortally wounded Reb and did what they could to ease his suffering. He died during the night and his body was concealed/covered in the woods (some relatives say) or buried shallow in the frozen ground of that harsh winter.

The burial spot of that unnamed Reb is some 600 feet from where I sit as I’m writing this. It was the beginning of Bishop Cemetery, which later came to include family, friends, and neighbors of the Bishop Family and now numbers several hundred graves and sites.

I guess you can see why this true story of the kindness my wife’s ancestors inspired me to write my novel, “Hid Wounded Reb.”

It was my second novel drafted and became my fifth to be published.

It’s available for $4.99 in digital formats at Amazon and Barnes & Noble, among other sites. In additional to the fictionalized story – using characters, dialog, and correspondence I fabricated – this book has, as end notes, some actual accounts of the battle and many other interesting history.



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.

Kelly’s initial assignment is to research the cemetery which started 152 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”


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Camp Nano

Oh my goodness. I completely forgot to post today. My middle child had an appointment out of town which took up a large portion of the day. We did not all get home until about an hour and a half ago.

This is a free week here and I want to talk about Camp Nanowrimo. I enjoy Nanowrimo. I like Camp Nano too. It is so much fun. This year I am working on a futuristic young adult novel. I have no idea what to title it but that will come probably when I am finished with it. I like knowing that at the end of the month if I keep on track and write every day that I will have completed the rough draft to what I am working on. The Second Life of Magnolia Mae was the result of Camp Nano last year.
I also enjoy setting up sprints with the other “campers” in my cabin.

Do you take part in Camp Nano? Do you get together with other writers and sprint?

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I somehow missed my March 27 post.  I have absolutely no idea of or excuse for why that happened!

I’m covering both, this week, so as not to impinge on any of the other foxes’ or the hound’s time here.

Disliked book covers2       disliked book cover

For the 24th I was supposed to tell you what would NOT entice me to buy by a book’s cover.  One word – GROSSNESS!  I.e.  Pedophilia, blood, guts, gore, and at the risk of being run over by a train in today’s politically correct world; people of the same sex kissing each other in a more than familiar way.  Please don’t mistake me as one who has homophobia or anything like that.  What turns others on is their business, not mine; I’d just not be enticed to buy by any other than a man and woman sharing their love for each other.

Good Friday-the day death died                                      Good friday-the son of man must suffer many things

For today, the 31st, I’m supposed to write about Good Friday?  NO!  I just figured out that this is a FREE Week!  For the record; I’d not feel right about ignoring Good Friday since it was the first topic that came to my mind, so I won’t.  It’s said that “Christians commemorate the passion, or suffering, and death on the cross of the Lord, Jesus Christ,” and lot of folks put Christians down for “celebrating” His death.  What those people don’t understand is the reasons behind the celebration.

It’s not that we are happy for all the suffering He endured – Far From It –We celebrate the Great Love He has for us all, that He would lay down His life for us sinners here on earth so we would receive forgiveness and life.  (The remembrance of all He went through is very emotional and inspires tears to imagine.)

I’ll be back on the next FREE week to offer you some shameless self-publicity on my Series.  You lucky people, you.   ;)

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Helping Hands at Work

It’s aIMG_1042nother free week, which means I once again get to tell you about some of the people I spend time with regularly. This time I want to tell you about my church’s quilting group. We call ourselves the Helping Hands Ministry, and twice a month we meet to create lap quilts (40 inches by 40 inches) to distribute to local hospitals, the Veterans’ Home, pregnancy centers, and anyone we feel needs the warmth of a quilt made by loving hands. I started sewing for this group when I first joined this church about fifteen years ago, but couldn’t attend their “quilting bees” until I retired from full-time teaching.

IMG_0753Fairhaven Ministries in Hudsonville, MI sponsors us by providing the room for us to work, a storage area for our materials and tools, and by covering the cost of the thread, quilt batting and backing fabric. A memorial gift in the name of one of the founding members paid for several machines that are kept at the church so we don’t have to haul our own machines in. Most of the fabric for the quilt tops is donated, and we’re always receiving boxes and bags of stuff. It’s a challenge to combine all these bits and pieces into decorative squares. Often we’ll find a pattern we like and will have fun experimenting with different colors and prints. And sometimes the donations will include partially finished quilts, and we’ll incorporate them into new projects.

IMG_0751We each have our jobs: some of us create the quilt tops, others pin them to the batting and backing, others tie them, and still others finish them off. At mid-morning we stop for a break, and we share what’s happening in our lives and offer prayers and support for each other. Working together for a common goal helps us form a special bond, and I look forward to my Tuesday mornings with these ladies.

IMG_1078 When we get twenty or so completed the quilts are delivered to the chaplain at the hospital or the director of another ministry for distribution. But we are all encouraged to take quilts to give to anyone who’s going through a rough time and is in need of comfort. I’ve given some to friends who are going through difficult medical procedures, others to people dealing with grief, and still others who are facing incredible challenges. It’s a small token of our caring, and I’m so happy to be a part of it.

IMG_0756The ladies of the quilt group come from all walks of life and from various backgrounds, but we share a love of sewing, a joy in working together, and a desire to offer comfort through our creations. These women are the inspiration for quilting group in The Stitching Post Romances, two (so far) books I co-wrote with Stephanie Michels. Click on the covers to find out more about each book.

TheCalicoHeart 500x750     TheFriendshipStarQuilt500X750

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I Try to Cover It All

After covering what covers what would make us want to buy a book by its cover, we approach what would turn us off of a book, by its cover.

This is hard.

Purchasing ability aside, (because I have had a lot of ‘sticker shock’ in bookstores), I mentioned last week that bodice rippers with over-filled bodices and over-ripped torsos just don’t get my attention.

I’ll pick up books of almost any genre and flip through them or look at the synopsis. I am up-to-here with books and movies about ‘post-apocalyptic’ societies. If a sci-fi or fantasy book has names of people and places that are all consonants, or ask for too many changes, giving the readers nothing to which they  can relate, they lose me before we start. The reason Star Trek, Star Wars, Harry Potter, Lord of the Rings and many other have been so very successful is the ability for the readers/audience to relate to the characters and situations. Even the ‘driods and elves think and behave like humans.

If I find that an axe-murderer or the like is the sympathetic character in a story, it isn’t going home with me. Nor is any murder mystery with too much gore, inside or outside of the cover.

As for non-fiction works, if a serious study/exposé / informative book is too blood-splattered or conversely, too cutesy or if it tries too hard to look avant garde on the cover I won’t take it seriously; I won’t take it at all.

As for novels, generally people looking straight at me from the cover are a bit off-putting.

As I do some mind-searching, I came up with this quick, non-all-inclusive list of other cover pictures that repulse me:

If a book has an Anime-look about it, it probably won’t get opened by me to even check what is inside.|

Knives, bloody ones, (Why do so many murder mysteries have these on the cover?)

War battles, (although I became very interested in books about women in wars, especially WWII and Viet Nam. There is great heartbreak in these stories)

Pictures featuring cars

Two people looking down on a third perso (This is very common and I have no idea why)

The backside of a woman (Even in the most pristine, truly romantic cozy novels there is a tendency to show the rear-end of a bustle looking into a garden. Unless I know the author or have an interesting synopsis of the story, I won’t pick up one of these.)
Some completely incomprehensible on the cover. (Jagged lines, squares and triangles in tangles, blotches…if they can’t tell a picture with a picture, how are they going to tell it in words?)

Dead or abused animals. (There was a time before I was born and all the time I was a kid where “Family Story/Family Movie” meant that some animal was going to be killed or abused, and many of these are considered ‘classics’; i.e., Black Beauty, Bambi, Greyfriars Bobby, This Dog of Flanders, Old Yeller, The Incredible Journey, The Yearling. (The movie of The Yearling totally traumatized me as a child.)

Thank Heaven we seem to have slipped away from that for our children and grandchildren. In fact, I am terribly amused and moved by many Children’s and Young Adult books out in recent years. Between having homeschooled my sons for years, then working with the reading programs and in the school libraries of my grandchildren, I have had access to many children’s and now, YA books.

One point I will bring up, speaking of covers, is that there is a series of books based on Captain Jack Sparrow in upper elementary-level reading. These are Capt. Jack as a kid and although I never read any, I did mention to the school librarian that I thought the covers were sometimes a bit “much” for the youngsters, (over-flowing bodices again). She told me that she noticed and tried to put the necessary stickers, (bar codes, etc.), over ‘those’ parts. I said that I was very surprised. Author Mary Janice Davidson was approached by the FBI as “a Person of Interest”, because the covers to her “Undead” series, [Betsy, the Vampire Queen], were done in a cartoony style and were seen as “pandering to children.” (They were drawings of people, houses and the like.)The “Undead” books, although not erotica, are definitely not for children. In fact, she and her husband, Anthony Alongi, purposely wrote a YA series, the “ Jennifer Scales” books, because Mary Janice wanted to give an alternative to youngsters to keep them from reading all of her series,(she has several series and many short stories to her credit.) Mary Janice and her publisher dutifully changed the covers to her series to something more sophisticated. But I miss the old ones.

The newer cover version of the Undead series

The newer cover version of the Undead series

An original cover from MaryJanice Davidson's Undead series

An original cover from MaryJanice Davidson’s Undead series

So, although I am sure the content in the books are not ‘adult’ in content, I still wonder why the publishers of the Jack Sparrow books have gotten away with their covers when they ARE pandering to children?

Since we have asked the question about what does and doesn’t attract you to a book for the last two weeks, can you offer any other examples of book covers in questionable taste or suitability?

Posted in authors, book covers, book review, Books, childhood, Friendship, Random thoughts, reading preferences, romance, Tonette Joyce, Uncategorized, winter, writing | Tagged , , , , , , , , , | 8 Comments

How I Select Books – Part TWO

By Jeff Salter

We’re doing a two-part set about the aspects of books which draw our attention and/or compel us to purchase / read. Last week, we focused on book COVERS. This week we’ll address how or why a book’s THEME entices us. [For the sake of my column, I’m assuming THEME and SUBJECT can be used almost interchangeably.]

I’m picky in many areas, including books. Though some aspects of a book’s theme/subject may span both types, for the sake of clarity, I’ll split my comments between NON-Fiction books and Novels.


I’m a history and biography buff, so those typically interest me more than general non-fiction.

In history, I enjoy reading about a variety of time periods, from “prehistory” (e.g., dinosaurs) to “early mankind” (e.g., Neanderthals), to the development of western civilization, to the emergence of America. Also military history… especially WW2 and WW1 — both the larger issues and individual battles.

In biography, I enjoy knowing more about all sorts of individuals, whether they were inventors, explorers, entertainers, leaders (government, civic, political, and social), military folks (all ranks), as well as other categories I can’t think of at the moment. I began reading biographies in fourth grade, starting with the Bobbs-Merrill Childhood of Famous Americans series. Years later, I learned most dialog and many incidents were highly fictionalized, though they supposedly depicted the “spirit” of those famous Americans as kids. I also learned something else: when I’ve found a biographical “hero” I don’t want to later read something which tarnishes that image. One example of this was Will Rogers. My mom found an adult bio of that individual and I began reading it only to realize it showed the man with typical human frailties. Didn’t like that. I preferred to think of Rogers as I’d pictured him from that Bobbs-Merrill juvenile bio. A more recent example of this is a bio of the actor Jimmie Stewart, which seemed to glory in detailing his dalliances with a long list of starlets (before he was married). Not that I imagined Stewart was a 40-year-old virgin, but somehow it bothered me to read the names of everyone who supposedly bedded him. If you’re wondering why I’m explaining this, it relates directly to the APPROACH of the biographer. If that author has set out to do a Kitty Kelley “tell-all” of someone I presently admire, it’s possible I won’t be interested in reading it. Conversely, if I see a K. K. “tell-all” of someone I presently DISLIKE, it’s possible that I WILL read it! LOL.

Specific topics in non-fiction books which I enjoy are UFOs (yes, both sides of the issue) and other unexplained phenomena (like Loch Nessie and Bigfoot, as merely two examples). Does that mean I’m a wild-eyed conspiracy nut? No, it simply means I have a lot of curiosity about some things that have not yet been adequately explained (to my satisfaction). To have a group of scientists or “experts” say XYZ does not exist, while a different group of equally educated and experienced folks say XYZ DOES exist — makes me stay curious.

Since I’ve written a lot of poetry (over 1000, with some 120 poems published), I also read poetry — but mainly in anthologies. Except for a few poets in particular (like Frost, Dickinson, and Eliot), whose collections I may read, I’m not likely to pick up a book of poems by Joe Schmoo.

That’s the kind of non-fiction books that I DO read, but what about the ones I do NOT enjoy? Well, while I’ll read articles on these topics, I’m generally not interested in books about science, mathematics, politics, or governmental stuff. I don’t read about flowers, or chickens, or cooking, and I don’t read seed catalogs.


With fiction, it’s harder to pin down, because if I like the characters and situation, I might not care WHERE they are, or what TIME period, or which GENRE. Generally, I don’t read novels in the broader genres of Westerns or Mysteries or Sci-Fi (though I have read a few of each to sample them). Nothing against them and I know people who devour titles in those genres — they just don’t appeal to me.

I do, however, enjoy an occasional novel which blends two or more genres (e.g., a western mystery). Can’t explain why a combination would grab me when the individual genre typically does not.

I guess it’s accurate to say that I prefer reading fiction about more modern periods, as opposed to (for instance) Medieval times.

I’m not inclined to read a novel by a celebrity unless I really like that celebrity. For example, if Kim Kardasian were to toss together enough words to be considered a novel, I would NOT read it — not under any circumstances. But if Harrison Ford wrote a novel, I’d probably give it a try.

I enjoy reading comedies and nearly any other genre if a particular story is also funny. I’m especially fond of screwball comedies, no matter what timeframe or setting.

I like reading adventure stories. I used to say I mainly read “international intrigue” but that’s no longer the case. I’m still attracted to spy novels, but I’ll read fiction set during WW2, whether it has intrigue or is just straightforward combat and strategy.

Prior to my own efforts writing in a blend of genres (which includes the Romance genre), I confess I had not paid much attention to romances. But in these past eight years or so, I’ve read quite a few. Some have not particularly appealed to my taste, even though they’re well done… but several have been quite good and would likely be enjoyed by any reader who likes great characters and storylines. In Hollywood’s golden years almost every feature film also had a romantic element, but nobody would have called all those movies “romances.” I’ve seen a quote by a famous author (though I can’t recall whom) which said, in effect, that nearly every good novel is also a romance… or could be with a slight twist of emphasis. My own favorite “blends” are romantic comedies and romantic thrillers.


If you desperately wanted or needed a non-fiction book on such-and-such subject, is it possible you’d pick one up even if the theme/subject had little or no appeal?

Furthermore, if you just HAD TO READ something because you’d jump out of your skin if you didn’t get a novel in your hands, would you pick up a book in a genre you normally don’t read?

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What I won’t buy

What would make me not buy a book? Oh, wow I have never really thought about WHY I do not purchase a book. Though when I think about it I suppose there are a lot of things that come into play when I decide if I should or should not buy a book. The first is always the cost. I do not care how wonderful a cover is, how great the blurb is, or if this is a book that has sold millions, if the price for an e-book is the same as it would be for a paperback you can bet I will not be buying that e-book. (I’d probably go buy the paperback though, and have for my daughter where the paperback was a dollar more than the e-book). Now, price aside.

I am NOT a fan of horror. I do not watch the movies, I do not read the books. I can go for a murder mystery (with limited gore) but the plain horror NO. So, if the cover is something gory or incredibly creepy that leads me to believe that the story inside is more scary than mystery I will not even look at the blurb.

I am not a fan of erotica. I share a lot of my books with my young teen daughter, now my older son is starting to raid my book shelves as well. I like my books to be clean enough for them to read. These are two who still go “eww” when someone kisses in a movie. If anything on the cover hints that the contents of the book will have a lot of sex in it then I won’t be buying it.

That is three things that will give an automatic NO to if I should purchase a book. There are a few things that come into factor. If I only have enough money for one book it will really depend on my mood. In all honesty, if I want a laugh I am going to go for a book with a cute, funny cover and clever (makes me want to laugh) tagline rather than the fantasy that draws my attention. It is not because I would not buy the other, it is all mood. I have books I have said “no” to then gone back and bought later because it sounded like such an interesting book.

What makes you say NO to purchasing a book?

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