Be Careful How You Say That! by Guest Author Lois Winston

Please join me in welcoming award-winning author (and crafter!) Lois Winston to Magical Musings today! Let’s find out what Lois and her crafty sleuth, Anatasia, are up to these days… 

crafty_corpse_med_resI’m winding down a month-long blog tour to promote the release of Revenge of the Crafty Corpse, the third book in my Anastasia Pollack Crafting Mystery series. You’d think blog tours would be easy compared to the old-fashion type of book tours authors used to take. After all, I don’t have to leave the comfort of my office. I don’t have to worry about traffic and winter weather, trying to get to a bookstore or library on time. And I certainly don’t have to worry about what to wear.

However, if I were doing a series of talks at bookstores and libraries, I could prepare one talk and recycle it throughout the tour. After all, how many readers go to more than one stop on an author’s live tour? No one would ever know that the talk I gave to a library in Union County, NJ was the same one I gave to the mystery readers book club at a Barnes & Noble in Middlesex County, NJ.

A virtual tour has many cross-over readers, though. People who frequent Magical Musings may very likely also frequent some of the other blogs where I’ve done guest posts. For that reason it’s crucial that I write something different for each stop on my blog tour.

So in thinking about what to write, I realized I hadn’t yet written a blog on research. That led me to remember something I learned while touring the Edison Museum in Menlo Park, NJ.

You may be wondering what Thomas Edison has to do writing contemporary amateur sleuth mysteries. It’s all about the research. In Revenge of the Crafty Corpse, I spent a good deal of time interviewing both a funeral home director and a county police officer to make certain I had my facts correct. However, that’s nothing compared to the amount of research that goes into writing an historically accurate novel. And that brings me to my tale about Thomas Edison.

Several years ago I read a mainstream quasi-romance with a subplot concerning Nikola Tesla.  I have always been fascinated by books that incorporate historical figures and events into fiction.  Sometimes the author takes tremendous liberties; other times he or she has unearthed little-known facts and woven an intriguing plot around them.  Knowing that Tesla and Edison shared a history, I asked the curator to corroborate some of the information in the book.

One thing led to another until at one point he asked, “Did you know that Thomas Edison invented the word “hello”?


It turns out that around 1877, Edison was working with Alexander Graham Bell to perfect the telephone.  When the phone rang, Bell would answer by saying, “Hoi, hoi!”  For some reason this bugged the heck out of Thomas Alva, who had the reputation of being a foul-mouthed prankster.  So Edison began answering the phone with hell-o, a made-up word that he knew would shock sensibilities of the very devout Bell.  Amazingly, the word caught on even though some dictionaries during the early years of its use defined it as a vulgar greeting.

I was so fascinated by this story, that I did a bit of research when I returned home.  Shakespeare used aloo in King Lear and hollo in Titus AndronicusHalloo, dating back to about 1700, was a cry used to urge on hunting dogs and is likely the basis of hallo, a cry of surprise dating to 1840.  However the first recorded use of hello was in 1883.

Since Edison takes credit for much he didn’t actually invent (he merely perfected the light bulb and bought motion picture technology), it’s not surprising, given his personality, that he would take something Old World, “Edisonfy” it, and have himself a good laugh over its acceptance by the general populace.

How many people would know this? How often have you read a book or seen a movie that takes place prior to the late 1800’s and found the characters saying hello rather than good day or some other greeting? If you’re like me, you’ll become hyper aware of this from now on and spot every instance of misuse. It makes me wonder how many other modern words are sprinkled erroneously into period books and movies. And that makes me very happy I don’t have to worry about these things as I write my contemporary novels.

Award-winning author Lois Winston writes the critically acclaimed Anastasia Pollack Crafting Mystery series featuring magazine crafts editor and reluctant amateur sleuth Anastasia Pollack. Assault With a Deadly Glue Gun, the first book in the series, received starred reviews from both Publishers Weekly and Booklist. Kirkus Reviews dubbed it, “North Jersey’s more mature answer to Stephanie Plum.” The series also includes Death By Killer Mop Doll and Crewel Intentions, an Anastasia Pollack Crafting Mini-Mystery. Revenge of the Crafty Corpse is a January 2013 release.

Lois is also published in women’s fiction, romance, romantic suspense, and non-fiction under her own name and her Emma Carlyle pen name. In addition, she’s an award-winning crafts and needlework designer and an agent with the Ashley Grayson Literary Agency. She’s also the author of the recently released Top Ten Reasons Your Novel is Rejected. Visit Lois at, visit Emma at, and visit Anastasia at the Killer Crafts & Crafty Killers character blog,

Revenge of the Crafty Corpse:

Anastasia Pollack’s dead louse of a spouse has left her with more bills than you can shake a crochet hook at, and teaching craft classes at her mother-in-law’s assisted living center seems like a harmless way to supplement her meager income. But when Lyndella Wegner—a 98-year-old know-it-all with a penchant for ruffles and lace—turns up dead, Anastasia’s cantankerous mother-in-law becomes the prime suspect in her murder. Upon discovering that Lyndella’s scandalous craft projects—and her scandalous behavior—made her plenty of enemies, Anastasia sets out to find the real killer before her mother-in-law ends up behind bars.







About Misty Evans

USA Today Bestselling Author Misty Evans writes the award-winning Super Agent series, as well as urban fantasy and paranormal romance. She likes her coffee black, her conspiracy theories juicy, and her wicked characters dressed in couture. When her muse lets her on the internet to play, she’s on Facebook and Twitter.
This entry was posted in Guest Posts, Misty's Posts and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

24 Responses to Be Careful How You Say That! by Guest Author Lois Winston

  1. Misty Evans says:

    Lois, thank you so much for being our guest today and sharing that bit of trivia. I love learning new things.

    Much luck with the new book!

  2. I loved this post. Who knew! Thanks for sharing Lois.

  3. Fascinating! That’s why research is so important! 😉

  4. V says:

    Thank you for bringing up this interesting topic, Lois.
    While writing a story set in 1509, my heroine whispered the word “Trash” to my hero. It was the perfect word for her to breathe into his ear. Research proved the origin of Trash was Middle English trasch fallen leaves and twigs. The first known use of trash 1518. I felt that was a close enough timeframe to have my heroine use the word. Until that moment of discovery, I had thought the word trash was modern.

  5. Thanks, Lois (and Misty), for that nifty little nugget of information. That’s one that has to go into the next edition of _Medieval Underpants and Other Blunders_.

    In post-WWI British fiction, such as P.G. Wodehouse and early Agatha Christie, people are always saying “Hullo!” both as an exclamation (“Hullo, there’s a dead millionaire in the library!”) and as a greeting (“Hullo, old boy, I say, you’re looking well, what?”). I guess they re-Englished the word after Edison popularized it with the new technology. Though the Brits usually answered their telephones at that time (do they still?) by simply rattling off the number (“Mayfair 623”) rather than with an actual greeting.

  6. Dale Mayer says:

    Hi Lois,

    Welcome to the MM! Love the post. Just the thought of making mistakes like that give me the hives! Good thing I don’t write historical 🙂

    You book sound hilarious!!! As a crafty person, I can see this being right up my alley for some light reading. Thanks for sharing.
    Dale Mayer`s last blog was …Garden of Sorrow Barrage!

  7. C.K.Crigger says:

    In Spokane, Washington during the 1890s, the proper way to answer one’s phone was “Here is Main 55 (or whatever two digit number).” That’s after it went through the operator, of course.
    Thanks for this post, Lois. Fascinating stuff.

  8. Liz says:

    Fun series!

  9. Edie Ramer says:

    Lois, welcome to MM! I read historicals (among other genres), and often the characters say or do something that I know is wrong for the time. When that happens, the book has to be very good for me to keep reading.

  10. Carolyn J Coles says:

    Very interesting Lois! Guess, I won’t be making that mistake if I ever start writing an historical.

  11. Donnell says:

    Hell-o, Lois, Misty and Magical Musings 😈 How cool I can put the little devil face here right now, seems appropos. Lois, another lesson well taught. Love this blog about research!
    Donnell`s last blog was …Help! I’ve Lost My Noodle

  12. Lois Winston says:

    Thank you all! And thank you, Misty, for inviting me to Magical Musings today. Sorry I’m a little late in responding. I’m out of town for the week. So glad you all enjoyed the post.

    Dale, hope you enjoy the books should you decide to read them.

    Edie, did you know Shakespeare was guilty of all sorts of anachronistic mistakes? In Julius Caesar he has a clock striking the hour.

  13. Lori says:

    Omg! I had no idea! And I’m sure I say hello somewhere in one of my books. Good to know!

  14. Cynthia Eden says:

    Great post!! Thanks for visiting with us today. 😉
    Cynthia Eden`s last blog was …Releases, Parties, and Prizes

  15. Lois Winston says:

    That’s why I’m so glad I don’t write historically, Lori. 😉

  16. Lois Winston says:

    OK, that should have been ‘historicals.’ Don’t you just hate it when the computer or tablet thinks it knows better than you?

  17. Brenda says:

    Thanks for this

  18. Lois Winston says:

    Thanks for stopping by, Brenda.

  19. Thanks for stopping by, Lois. I’m usually obsessive about the etymology of words in my historicals. But there is always a chance something will slip through. So far (to the best of my knowledge), not. But I’m not pointing fingers at anyone because mistakes can always be made. If it is clearly a minor lapse, I don’t let it affect my enjoyment of the work. If there are repeated and glaring errors, I’m less forgiving.
    Michelle Diener`s last blog was …The Emperor’s Conspiracy on sale at a special price

  20. Jenny Twist says:

    I love this sort of thing. I’ve been collecting trivia all my life and am a mine of useless information. I am myself a 16th century historian and the thought had never crossed my mind that nobody said ‘hello’.
    What a gem!

  21. Liz Kreger says:

    Terrific post, Lois. Thanx for sharing. Never knew that about such a simple word. I forget who initially said it, but it was an American astronaut who came up with “Okay”. I always thought that was interesting.

    Sorry I’m so late in commenting, but I’ve been slack on my blog reading. 😯

  22. Lois Winston says:

    Thanks for stopping by, Michelle, Jenny and Liz!

    Michelle, I agree. Everyone makes mistakes, and I, too, am forgiving if it’s only on occasion. If it’s constant sloppy research, though, or none at all, I stop reading.

    Liz, I had no idea about okay. I would have guessed the word was much older.

  23. > I forget who initially said it, but it was an American astronaut who came up with “Okay”.

    I just can’t agree with this one. Americans were using “Okay”/”O.K.” in the 19th century and the hipper Brits, who probably picked it up from American soldiers during World War I, were using it by the 1920s-30s — it crops up a few times in Dorothy L. Sayers’s novels, for instance. Long before there were any astronauts!

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