In the Beginning, They Were Writers – Jeff Salter

My Writing Goes Back Nearly as Far as My Memory

By Jeff Salter

I doubt any of my earliest scratchings still exist but I do have — transcribed by my Mom — some of my very first rhymes and couplets.  These date to April 1959, when I was in 3rd grade.  I also have a typed page of my childish poetic efforts which my Dad compiled and submitted to Saturday Evening Post (unfortunately unpublished, however) from about 5th grade.

During 6th grade, I wrote my first COMPLETE poem … about a real-life experience with a neighbor.  In 7th grade, I won a school essay contest on the topic, “What living in America means to me.”

But I didn’t show any of my creative writing to anyone outside the family until I shared some of my verse with my 8th grade English teacher, Mrs. Fleming.  She took a real interest and gave me a lot of (general) encouragement.  For Christmas that year, she suggested I write a Christmas Poem.  It was my first experience composing on ‘contract’ and the result was pretty awful even by my own juvenile standards.

At some point in those junior high years, I also wrote a few (very short) short stories.

Don’t recall much in particular about creative writing in 9th grade, but when I transferred from Louisiana to an Iowa school for 10th grade, my writing really took off.  The short stories were much more mature and complete and my verse practically exploded.  I shared some of those efforts with my English teacher, Miss Rosalie Sherman, who provided specific feedback and very supportive encouragement.  She even selected one of my stories to be included in the school’s literary anthology.  It was Miss Sherman who nudged me into experimenting with free verse and blank verse … forms which had totally baffled me theretofore.  I also started, but never finished, what I thought might become a novel.

I continued with poems and stories during 11th grade, when I was back in the same Louisiana school I’d left the year before.

By my senior year, I was co-founder, co-editor, co-producer, and co-writer of The Shadow, an underground ‘newspaper’ (though most of its 6-7 issues had only 4 pages each).  [Note to any youngsters reading this:  in the late 1960s, underground papers were quite rebellious and anti-establishment.]  I also continued writing poems.  One poem won a First Place (and cash award) in the Deep South Writers Conference and was published on the front page of our local city newspaper.  Yep, my first published poem!

In my freshman year at a university in Georgia, I was Feature Editor of the student newspaper, the Mercer Cluster.  Later I founded / produced / edited / wrote another underground paper, Pedestal.  Also continued with my poetry.

By the summer after my freshman year, I was on staff at the Hammond [LA] Daily Star, where I worked in a variety of capacities (full-time and part-time) for over a year.  That work — as reporter, photographer, feature writer, sports editor, and ad salesman — was for PAY … so I’d finally lost my amateur status.

After that, I was Assistant Editor of a weekly ‘shopper’ called the St. Tammany News — which was actually produced across Lake Ponchartrain, in downtown New Orleans.

I collaborated with my brother on a screenplay, which was never produced, and later on a short story which we submitted (unsuccessfully) to a few national magazines.

With a low draft lottery number, I enlisted in the U.S. Air Force.  After basic training, I was given a direct duty assignment — no tech school — to the first of three jobs with the newspapers at Cannon AFB NM, Thule AB Greenland, and McClellan AFB CA.  Each position included photo-journalism and editing.

For a few years I continued to write short stories, but my main interest was poetry.  I no longer have an exact count, but I estimate I’ve written at least 1000 complete poems (plus innumerable fragments).  About 120 have been published; I’ve won some 30 poetry contest awards (many with cash prizes), including at least three from National Writer’s Club.

While still a professional librarian, I published several articles and book reviews in professional journals.  Also, I co-authored (with my brother) two monographs on aspects of librarianship; these were released by Libraries Unlimited, which (at the time) was one of the top three publishers of library-related resources and reference tools.  We also co-authored a signed chapter in a book published by the American Library Association, and a signed article (about homelessness) in a specialty 2-volume encyclopedia published by Sage Reference.

After I took an early retirement and moved from LA to KY, I naturally assumed I’d continue writing poetry and book reviews.  Imagine my surprise to learn there were novels inside of me!  In my first five years of retirement, I completed seven full-length novels, two of which have been published by Astraea Press.

I have concepts, notes, scenes, or (in some cases) thousands of words … on nearly six dozen OTHER novels.

My novels are available on Amazon and Barnes & Noble, as well as the publisher’s site:!/~/search/keywords=salter&offset=0&sort=relevance

I can be seen presently at two blogs:

Sweet Saturday Sample-Regency Version

At last! Kim Bowman and I will be releasing the sequel to A Lot Like a Lady. In the meantime, I thought you might enjoy a lengthy sample.

Unsure whether to turn around and stalk off or grab Annabella by the shoulders and give her a good shake, Jon simply stared. Candlelight limned her face and gilded the honey-gold curls that cascaded about her shoulders. Her skin glowed peachy soft and her unusual dark green eyes gleamed like twin pools at midnight. She should have made him think of an angel. What she brought to his mind, though, was his gran’s favorite cat — the disagreeable brown tabby that hated everyone, particularly him, and never failed to spit and hiss whenever he got too close to her favorite perch.

Annabella jerked backward, reminding Jon that he’d been gaping. He raised an eyebrow and waited for her to gather her wits. As she straightened her back, she released an indignant gasp. Unfortunately, the sound only served to enhance the image of the angry tabby. Jon’s lips twitched as he fought a losing battle with a smile.

“Just what do you think you’re doing? Sneaking up on a body in the middle of the night!” She raked him with a scathing glare. “And in a most indecent state of undress.”

His struggle with the smile long since abandoned, Jon allowed his mouth to widen into a grin.

Predictably, the lady became even more incensed. “What is that — that —that look on your face?” She motioned with the candle in his direction.

Jon took an involuntary step away from the flame, but he refused to stifle his sudden good mood. “Beg pardon?”

“Why are you — grinning like a jackanapes?”

All hope of containing his mirth abandoned, Jon tossed back his head and loosed a hearty laugh. Then, crossing his arms over his chest, he shook his head. “Once again, the lady seeks to mortally wound me. I merely came rushing to the aid of a damsel in distress, and here she stands calling me a monkey.”wildMouse-6W

Annabella’s jaw dropped and her eyes widened into saucers. After a moment she snapped her mouth shut and narrowed her eyes into angry slits. Her heated glower slammed into him, as tangible as a punch to the jaw. Jon’s heart stammered and then thudded hard against his chest. Something about the light flickering over her face, or maybe it was the way her chin quivered and her lips twitched until she rolled them inward… Vulnerability threatened to overtake her natural defiance.

Oh, no. No, that would never do. Defiance he could handle. Vulnerability… vulnerable women. That was another story altogether. Run!

Inwardly reeling, Jon took a second step back. “Right, then. Well… as it seems you are not, after all, in dire need of assistance, I shall get back to what I was doing when your shriek interrupted me.” Which had been pacing the confines of the bedchamber after lying on the lumpy mattress for a brief time in fruitless pursuit of sleep.

Annabella pulled in a long breath. “I. Do. Not. Shriek.” The frostiness in each bit-off word could etch a window pane.

Good. Better that image in his head as he returned to the elusive endeavor of seeking sleep than one of pouting lips and trembling chin.

He inclined his head and smirked. “Oh well, if the lady doesn’t shriek, then it must have been a banshee I heard calling my name.”

“I did not call your—“ She clapped her mouth shut and glared. Her pale chest rose and fell with each harsh, indignant breath she pulled in. A tight smile widened her lips, though her eyes remained chilly. “Well, if a banshee is coming for you, I’ll be certain to welcome her at the door. At least she won’t be sneaking around and striking terror in unsuspecting hearts.”

Her quip sparked something inside — gave life to something that had too long lain quiescent. Jon stepped forward again, choosing to risk the heat of the candle should the lady decide to retaliate.

“Is that what I did?” he whispered. “Struck you in your heart?”

Her eyes grew impossibly wider until they took over her entire countenance, threatened to draw him into the unguarded reaches of her soul. The sweet scent of flowers mingling with the tart aroma of lemons rose to tantalize. Too close! Much too close, but too late to back off, so he held his ground and waited, well aware of the heated darts currently prowling his veins.

“I… you…”

“Oh, I beg your pardon. One would first have to have a heart in order for it to be struck.” His grin widened. “Is that not what you told me at our first meeting?”

Annabella released an angry gasp, but she didn’t back down. She pushed her chin out and stood straighter. “Yes, that is what I said. And it has become painfully obvious that I was correct in my assessment. If you must know, a mouse jumped out of a pot and bared its teeth at me.”

The light of the candle washed her exposed skin. Jon closed his eyes against the image then opened them again and deliberately leveled his gaze on her eyes. “And am I to understand your shriek had the desired effect? You have successfully dispatched the mouse to the devil? Because I’ve had a long day traveling and I should find it sheer bliss were I able to sleep the night undisturbed by screams over unsuspecting rodents.”

COMING SOON!  Find me on Amazon and other e-book retailers.

In the Beginning, They Were Writers – Patricia Kiyono

Patricia Kiyono Web GraphicI’ve never been a physically active person. Given a choice between playing outdoors in the summer sunshine and curling up on the porch with a good book, the book always won out. I loved to escape into different worlds–some like mine, others quite different. But they all gave me a sense of adventure. Later on I entertained the notion of being an actress and I’d write scripts for myself. I’d perform them in front of the large mirror in the living room, using my dolls and stuffed animals as the other characters. Once in a while a younger brother or a friend would be coerced into taking part!

In high school, I enjoyed the classes that allowed me to create or perform things other people created. Band, orchestra, and choir were the highlights of my day, but I also enjoyed my other subjects. There was English (I loved the composition assignments. When else were we allowed to really voice our opinions?), social studies (I had creative teachers who had us research for mock debates and write travelogues for the locations we studied), science (loved writing those hypotheses – just like the “what if” questions I use to develop a plot!) and math (I’m still a sucker for a puzzle). So I guess I’m saying I’m one of those nerds who loved school.IMG_2326_2

I guess I was extremely fortunate in having so many teachers who encouraged creativity, but I believe this is what sparked my desire to write later on, after raising my children and retiring from full-time teaching. These were people who believed that it wasn’t enough to simply know the facts; we had to know how to use these facts to make decisions that would eventually make our own lives better. And now I look for facts to inspire my writing. Snippets of news articles become conflicts, visits to different locales help determine settings, and parts of conversations with friends and family turn into dialogue.

I owe a lot to my teachers. Maybe that’s why I became one, too. What better way to emulate people you admire than to follow in their footsteps? I only hope I was half as influential as they were.

Patricia Kiyono’s Author Central page at Amazon

When Dreams Go Awry

I’m going to preface this post by stating that I consider myself to have lived a particularly blessed life. I may not have resided in the lap of luxury, and often did not possess the various toys and amenities of those surrounding me. But I never missed them, as I have been blessed with love – my love for others and the love returned by people in my life.

Like most children, when I was growing up, I had dreams, and along the way those dreams would shift and adjust to reflect my growth and changing interests. Like most young girls, I dreamed of that fabulous wedding and perfect marriage filled with love and blessed by children. At some point in there, I dreamed of various occupations, one of which was writing. I loved to write and tell stories. Fiction has intrigued me from an early age.

Sometimes people find their dreams changing – through their own idea or through circumstances. And sometimes, what started out as a dream might end up a nightmare. My life has been good, but it has not been without difficulty. I’m not afraid of hard work, have, in fact, worked hard throughout my life and found it rewarding. But if I said that as a child I dreamed of growing up to be a production typist of medical reports, or that my first child would be born with a birth defect that would claim her life when she was 2, or that I would end up divorced and raising four kids, ages 10, 11, 11, and 12 at the time, I would be lying.

When a person’s dreams change to nightmares, sometimes it’s a quick and sudden process – a horrible and hopeless diagnosis,IMG_1662 a catastrophic accident, a home that burns to the ground… And sometimes they become nightmares with a slower and more subtle process – it’s the little things that get you, and have you wondering “again?” over and over as the little things strike, as disaster looms and then is abated (or not).  I was never well off during those years of raising my children on my own. My children often went without the perks and extras that their friends had. But we made it, and we did okay. My children have all grown and scattered, but we remain family. After my mother’s death, I was able to purchase a very modest, 100-year-old house with 40-year-old upgrades, where I have lived quite happily for a few years now.

The economic climate, as everyone is most painfully aware, is not a good one, and for people like medical transcriptionists, the work environment can change suddenly and dramatically with one corporate merger or takeover, and the outsourcing of reports to another country. Though we remain on the books as a transcriptionist, the work becomes scarcer and scarcer and the paychecks dwindle. I’ve been through three corporate takeovers of MT work, and each time opportunities for work decrease. I found myself working only part time because the work may be plentiful but the transcriptionists are in even greater supply than the work. Writing and editing were a marvelous way to supplement my income and make it easier to survive the slow weeks as an MT.
In the past year, I was blessed with a second grandchild. Things were looking great. I had cowritten an Amazon best seller with my friend, Kim Bowman, and even the MT work seemed to be flourishing. The peace that accompanied these events slipped away in April, when my son was in a freak accident that left him needing neck surgery and a good chance that he could be paralyzed from the neck down. Unable to work, he had no way to support his family. He has since undergone one surgery but requires another. I have helped them when I can, and that has depleted my savings. I still feel blessed. But I am living, once again, from paycheck to paycheck.

Some of you may have seen my link trying to raise funds. The reason I need these funds is because in helping my son, I fell behind on my property taxes. Without $1500 by February 6, my house will be seized and sold to satisfy the tax bill. The city does not want to hear my reasons and excuses. And I do, after all, owe the taxes.

The prospect of being homeless is a terrifying one at any age. And, like with the other things that have happened in my life, this is definitely not something I would have dreamed of as a girl making plans for her happy future. My children live in small homes of their own, and while I could conceivably crash on a sofa somewhere, I also have three large dogs that simply would not be able to come with me. These are rescued dogs, and great babies. One of them has been through a lot and she is 100% devoted to me but 100% afraid of strangers. She had been separated from me fbestiesor five months last year, and would not survive another separation from me.

A friend gave me the idea to raise funds on line, and I have to admit this is one of the most humbling experiences I have ever had. It’s pretty much akin to standing on a street corner with a sign for me. But as another friend pointed out, “this is your HOME, you’re trying to save; it’s your home, not a trip to Mexico, or a dream wedding.” Still, I could not ask for something without offering in return, and that’s why I offered discounted editing services and in some cases an e-book from one of my back list. And thus was born my plea for help.

I will end this by saying that I still feel blessed – by the love of friends, by prayers and well wishes of others, by an outpouring of support. God has always provided for me and for my family, and I am trusting Him now to lead me where He wants me to go. Thank you all for your understanding.

Save Author/Editor Kay Springsteen’s Home

A Visit by Regency Romance Author Vivian Roycroft

Who wants a giveaway? If you like Regency (and even if you don’t!), you won’t want to miss this exciting book! Simply follow the link below for your chance to win.

My good friend, Regency Romance author, Vivian Roycroft has stopped by to tell us about needlework in the English Regency Period.


Flowing white muslin, pristine and unadorned, falling from an Empire waist gathered beneath the bustline with a simple ribbon… between roughly 1795 and 1800, the fashion ideal for a young French lady was to dress as a Grecian statue come to life. At first, this meant donning her nightgown for daywear, and young ladies all over France sacrificed their elders’ finery in support of the new government’s republican ideals, which were supposed to hearken back to ancient Greece’s democracy.

But as English ladies across the Channel pointed out, those unadorned white gowns were rather… boring. They all looked the same, they didn’t always flatter a woman’s figure, and their coverage during English winters gave pneumonia a new nickname: the “muslin disease.” Besides, English ladies weren’t supporting the French Revolution, just wearing an elegant gown. Practical beneath their fashion sense, the ladies of England donned flesh-toned knit pantaloons to keep their legs warm, and searched for ways to mhand drawn pattern for embroidery 1780sake the height of fashion more of an individual statement.

Those ladies expert with a needle turned to embroidery; those who weren’t found a seamstress. All of them pored over hand-drawn patterns, both the old ones they’d inherited from their mothers and elder sisters, and those currently available at the linen draper’s shop. Because the muslin fabric was nearly sheer, the designs didn’t have to be transferred to the gown. Instead, the pattern sheet was pinned to the fabric, supported by an embroidery hoop, and the seamstress worked the desigGreek key border designsn atop the pattern.

Soon English society was blooming with embroidery. At first it was limited to necklines, hems, sleeve bands, and shawls, and the work was kept light, at least in sympathy with the ancient Greek statue concept. Much of this early Regency trim followed Grecian patterns, as well, the sort of interlocking geometrics you might see carved into the cornices of old neo-classical buildings.Egyptian design

But in 1804, images reached England of the Egyptian and Etruscan gifts Napoleon had brought back from the Nile campaign to France for his wife, Empress Joséphine, a noted fashion leader. Overnight, the Grecian look vanished and Egypt was hot. Still geometric in design, the new needlework sported fan spreads, greater detailing, and slightly larger designs, as well as tassels on shawl corners.

By 1808, most ladies had tired of Oriental-flavored designs. But they didn’t tire of embroidery, and finework became even more detailed. Floral swags became popular along the hems of ball gowns, with ribbon roses on sleeves and necklines, and delicatewhitework on muslin gown patterns stitched across the entire skirt. Whitework embroidery saw a revival, detailed and raised designs worked with incredibly tiny stitches in white thread on white muslin caps, bodices, and petticoats, the latter designed to peep delightfully from beneath one’s gown during a skirt-flaring dance.
Tambour also enjoyed renewed popularity. Done with a teensy crochet-type hook and embroidery

Photo courtesy Wikimedia Commons contributor Carolus.

Photo courtesy Wikimedia Commons contributor Carolus.

hoop, with fine thread worked into the weave of loose fabric or netting in a sort of chain stitch on the fabric’s surface, this type of embroidery became so well known that, when crochet first appeared in 1820, it was known at first as “tambour-in-the-air.”

In 1973, a set of well-used embroidery patterns from the 1780s was donated to the Victoria and Albert Museum. Clearly they’re the work of a professional pattern-drawer and gifted artist, and just the thought of stitching one of those beautiful, detailed designs onto thin muslin gives me the quakes. Here’s a link if you’d like to see more.


Lady Clara hunts for the man she loves amidst Napoleon’s war. But with cannons blazing, the cost could be more than her life.


Lady Clara Huckabee stows away by accident. But she’s not sorry to sail aboard HMS Topaze, leaving England behind. It’s a chance to search for her charming French suitor from the Amiens peace, the man she’s determined to marry despite the war and her dominating uncle’s disapproval. All she has to do is convince the Topaze’s handsome captain to see things her way, and everything will be perfect.

A French frigate has evaded the Royal Navy blockade of Brest. Captain Alexander Fleming sails the smaller, elderly frigate Topaze in pursuit, but what he’s supposed to do with a silly stowaway debutante for seven thousand miles wasn’t covered in his orders. In the doldrums, during a South Atlantic storm, and with French t’gallants spiking the horizon, his first responsibility is always to his ship, his crew, his assignment… not his growing attachment for the woman doubling as his captain’s clerk. Perfect; just perfect.

Before disaster strikes, before the cannons open fire, will Lady Clara and Fleming learn that the perfection they longed for isn’t the one they really want?


About the Author

 Vivian Roycroft is a pseudonym for historical fiction and adventure writer J. Gunnar Grey. And if she’s not careful, her pseudonymous pseudonym will have its own pseudonym soon, too. Along with an e-reader stuffed with Jane Austen and Patrick O’Brian, a yarn stash, and a turtle sundae at Culver’s.

You can find Vivian and her writing compadre, J.L. Salter, at their shared blog,, or follow her on Twitter as @VivianRoycroft. And start looking for the second book in the series Love in Napoleon’s War in autumn of 2013!

Find A Different Sort of Perfect wherever e-books are sold, including:

Barnes and Noble

In the Beginning, They Were Writers – Ruth Hartman

Words and Pictures
by Ruth Hartman

In elementary school, my love of writing seemed to form right along with my love of drawing pictures. Usually, I drew cats. But one day, tired of the same old thing, I grabbed a magazine my dad had tossed on the floor beside his recliner. I drew the picture, freehand, while looking at the cover. It was of a man, slouched in a church pew, with his shoes off. His eyes were half-closed, trying to stay awake while he listened to the service.

The caption referred to the “apathetic and bored church member”. I wrote down the words just as I saw them on the page, and positioned them above the drawing of the man. I studied the words and knew all of them but one.

“Daddy,” I asked. “What does a…pa…the…tic mean?”

He looked away from his newspaper and frowned. “What?” He leaned over to where I sat on the floor with my pencil, paper and the magazine. “Did you draw that?”


“You traced it from the picture?”

“No. I just drew it. No tracing.”

“Hmmm. That’s really good.” He glanced down at the paper again. “Apathetic means you don’t really care. You’re not really interested.”

I studied the word and nodded. “Oh, okay.” But inside, my mind sprung to life. I’d just written a word I didn’t know, had found out its meaning, and now I knew that the next time I wrote it or read it, I’d remember what it meant! How exciting! I’d always loved to read, but writing that word and discovering something new brought that love to life.

After that, even though I was shy, I participated in our class’s spelling bees and did well. I loved to write stories for school and just for the fun of it. And I was that weird kid in high school who cheered when we had to do term papers.

Nothing has changed. The other day when my nephew, who’s in college, moaned because he had to take a literature class, I volunteered (jokingly) to write all of his papers for him.

My first experience with writing a book was in 2008. I’d gone through a very rough four years of living with debilitating OCD. I could hardly leave my house. When I started to feel better, I wrote down what I’d gone through. The finished product was the now re-released “Life in Mental Chains”. It wasn’t necessarily my plan to keep writing books, but one day while cleaning a patient’s teeth at the dental office where I work, I wondered what would happen if a hygienist fell in love with her patient. “Flossophy of Grace” was the result.

Ten books later, I’m still writing and loving it! My newest venture is Regency Romances. “Time for a Duke” was released in November 2012.

Guess I should thank that apathetic man in the church pew. He might have been bored, but his picture prepared my mind for a lifetime of the joy of writing.


Thank you for stopping by, Ruth! Readers may find Ruth on Amazon and Barnes & Noble!

In the Beginning,They Were Writers – Elaine Cantrell

To start off this series on writers during their early years, please welcome multi-published author, Elaine Cantrell.


My writing career began around age four or five. I told my dad that I wanted to write a story about Woody Woodpecker, one of my favorite cartoon characters. He took a piece of notebook paper and hand-wrote the story in pencil. It must have been a work of art; he laughed hysterically as he wrote it. Daddy kept that story until the day he died. After his death when my stepmother cleaned out a cedar chest where he kept his treasures, she found the story and gave it to me. I can even remember the day I dictated it to him! Trust me; that memory is an unexpected treasure from the past that warmed my heart for days afterward.

I wrote nothing from that long ago day until the year 2002. At that time my son inspired me to try my hand at writing when he wrote a novel himself. I had always wanted to write a book, but I had no idea I could do it.  The light dawned when my son told me that he always made up stories in his head to amuse himself, so he thought he might as well write them down.  Well!  I had always done the same thing.  I took it as a sign that I should try to write a novel.

I sat down and stared for a long time at that blank computer screen.  I could think of so many ways to begin!  Finally, I realized that I had a delete key.  If my first effort was no good, I’d just start over.  Words flew from my fingers to the keyboard.  I could barely stop writing.  How exhilarating.  Who knew writing would grab you and refuse to let you go?

After I finished my first story, I wrote a second book which I submitted to a small press called Oak Tree Press. Oak Tree sponsors a yearly contest whose prize is publication of your novel. To my great and utter surprise, I won.  My book A New Leaf was published in 2004.

Since that time I’ve become addicted to writing, and in the process I’ve had ten more books published and am working on another.  Why do I do it? It isn’t for the money; very few authors ever get rich off their writing. It isn’t for fame and recognition because I’m not on the New York

Times bestseller list. No, I write because I can’t help myself.

My characters reveal themselves to me and demand that I tell their story for them. They get under my skin and nag me until I seat myself at my computer and let them express themselves. I’m totally consumed by their problems and triumphs, and until I give them resolution I can’t get them off my mind. I’ve even been known to take my computer on vacation so I won’t lose an entire day of writing. Often, after a book is finished I have a hard time letting my characters go.  They’ve become a part of my family. If you’d like to get to know me a little better, you can find me at the following locations:





Kay, thanks so much for letting me bend the ears of your friends and fans.  I’d love to host you on my blog anytime.