I Want to Hold Your Hand

This week we are sharing a family picture that tells a story. I proposed this topic a long time ago and frankly, I don’t remember if this is the picture that I had in mind.

It has been an extraordinarily busy week, so I pulled out a copy of the picture below. (I apologize for the photo’s quality; a well-carried wallet-size was the only one I could come up with quickly.)

Yes, that is me…31 ½ years ago.

My sons have changed quite a bit, and yes, I certainly have, but my husband, not so much. He changed back right away from contacts to his glasses after this photo session and his hair is thinner on top, but he still looks much the same. He even looks much the same as his pictures from when he was a kid.

In fact, I probably should have used one or another of his family’s pictures, one of his mother waiting on the dock for his father to arrive in port, along with any number of their 15 children. (Those pictures are a hoot, especially because of some of my mother-in-law’s hats!)

But I pulled out this one for of a couple of reasons.

One is that my sons look so much like their grandfathers. The older boy looks like my father-in-law, while the younger one is obviously my father’s grandson.

I will, however, call attention to the boys’ hands as the main reason I chose this photo.

We got the baby to hold still for the first shot, but having seen many cameras, he was interested in getting his hands on the big one the man had once he realized what it was. You can see that I have his right hand, which was his natural choice to use. Then, just before the second picture was taken, he reached with his left hand and his brother caught it to hold it still.

Now, I hate to brag about the brain-power of my kids, but I will. The baby knew to hold still for one shot and then wanted to get his hands on the camera, which was so unlike the ones he had seen before. His ‘big’ brother knew not only to hold still for the photo, but took responsibility to stop his brother from moving for the next shot, all the time maintaining his own pose.

The youngest was nine months old; his brother had just turned two earlier that month.

I think the picture speaks volumes. My mother gave me no sympathy when the two little  smarty-pants ragged me out: “How sad would it be if they were poor little things that sat in a corner all day?”

Know any kids that sit in a corner all day? I don’t think they exist.

Anyway, this particular picture, (more than the  large fist shot that hangs in my living room), never ceases to amaze me.

Go ahead, have a few hoots over me, but check out the boys’ hands…then smile with me!

Posted in Uncategorized, Life, childhood, Tonette Joyce, Family, memories, experiences | Tagged , | Leave a comment

Need to Get My Photos Digitized

Surely Wish I Could Find Those Old Pictures

By Jeff Salter

This week we’re talking about pictures – i.e., photos – and it pains me that so few of my special pix are on a computer. Or, to put it more precisely: most of the significant photos in my life were taken in REGULAR cameras which used ordinary FILM, from which PRINTS were made. Often there was only one print and who knows where that one ended up. And, most of you youngsters won’t comprehend this, but you can’t tell very much from examining a teeny-tiny NEGATIVE.

Oh well.

My whole point is that I remember several photos taken of me and one or both of my siblings. One of my favorites is a B&W snapshot of my brother and me in our Davy Crockett coonskin caps when I was in kindergarten. In the parking lot of Vineville Baptist Church in Macon GA (where our dad was associate pastor), we’re shirtless… and my youthful belly is hanging out just about like it does these days. Ha.

Another is of me and big brother and little sister in Juarez, Mexico… on a life size black wooden horse — we’re lined up, oldest in the rear and me in the middle, as usual.

Another is of all three of us during that brief sliver of time (probably one season) when Charles was in Boy Scouts, I was in Cub Scouts, and Becky was in Brownies. In this photo, taken by Ogden Studios in Covington LA (and later colorized by the studio artist who was also our sometime baby-sitter), we’re all in our uniforms. [Yes, children, in the olden days, many photos were shot in B&W and the coloring was added later… by an artist… with a brush.]

Wish I could show you those pix. But I don’t know where they are… and even if I could locate them, it would be a pain to copy / convert them with any fidelity.


Charles, Becky, and me at my niece’s wedding in VA in 1999. Yes, I know I’m not smiling — whenever I smile for photos, it always looks like I just swallowed a dead worm. Or, the photographer waits until I’m finished smiling before they finally snap the pix. In this instance, it was probably a worm. LOL By the way, I’m the same height as my brother, so evidently we were on a slight incline.

But one photo I did manage to copy / convert – just today, in fact, courtesy of my wife’s phone camera and email transmission – was a relatively rare shot [above] of me and both siblings… all dressed up. This was summer of 1999, in Norfolk VA where my sweet niece, Stephanie Rod Morgan, was getting married. The bride’s mother was my sister, Becky Rod — and doesn’t she look gorgeous?

The three of us have at times been referred to as Triple-S Productions… named after the movie company we formed as kids when we filmed our first cinematographic masterpiece in 8mm color. Years later, with a better camera (Super-8mm) and a cast that included my fiancé Denise Williams (among many friends), we filmed another, better movie. Our film career later culminated with our third production… and by that time Denise and I may have already been married (can’t recall for certain).

Well, anyway, I have many fond memories of growing up between an older brother and younger sister. Someone probably has a photo album somewhere with a few of those old snapshots which serve to chronicle our childhood — beginning (for me) in Starkville MS, then Chicago IL, then Macon GA, but mainly in Covington LA (with a one-year hiatus in Mt. Pleasant IA).

Here’s a pix taken roughly one year ago, here in Somerset… 17 years after the 1999 wedding photo. I don’t think we’ve changed a bit… do you?


Becky, Charles, and me in Somerset KY (May 2016). This was one of those pix where I’ve already tried smiling, but the photographer wouldn’t snap the picture… so I’m in the process of asking, “Did you take it yet?”


Do YOU have any particular photo which stands out to you? Are you in it… or is it a picture of someone/something else?

[JLS # 341]

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One Thousand Words

Recently my mother moved to an assisted living place and had to downsize. My siblings and I sorted out her things and among those was a variety of pictures.

My brother has been great about making sure we all have copies of my parents’ wedding pictures, high school pictures, and a variety of other rare family pictures.

One of the pictures I got from the sorting is of my dad. He passed away in 2000 at 81 years old. Our neighbor took this picture and my mom kept it on the dining room table until she moved from the farm where they lived.


In the picture, my dad is sitting on a Massey-Ferguson tractor in bib top overalls carrying a bouquet of gladiolas.

My dad lived on a farm his entire life except for his years in the army during WWII. Every day that he was doing farm work, either working fields or milking cows, he work bib top overalls. He called them his barn yard tuxedo. My mom saved EVERYTHING and I found several pair of worn out overalls in her sewing things as well as zippers she rescued from just about every single pair he owned. I have those too. It’s hard to imagine my dad wearing anything besides those overalls. In his pocket, he always had a wrench and a pocket knife.

My dad probably drove that Massey Ferguson tractor for thousands of hours tilling and harvesting fields. It pulled mowers, planters, and spayers. He drove the tractor while baling hay and my brothers stacked the bales on the wagon. It was one of several Massey Ferguson tractors that we had.

The last detail of the picture is the flowers. I’m sure it took some convincing from my mom to plant them in the vegetable garden. They spread from one row to many and popped up among vegetables from bulbs that were missed. Each year they dug them out and stored the bulbs in the root cellar. In the spring the bulbs went out to the garden to await their glory in late July. When those flowers were blooming, I don’t think anyone left our house without a bouquet. Reds, yellows, pinks, and purples graced our table well into September. The flowers had to be shared and my dad made sure they brightened the lives of many people. It shows that while he understood the need for food and providing for his family, he also saw the joy in romance.

In the background, you can see our house and driveway. The farm that my family worked for many years through thick and thin. And is no longer there.

In this particular picture, he’s bringing one of those bouquets to our neighbor in the middle of the workday when the easiest means of transportation was the tractor, probably as he was on his way out to the field.

I don’t think this is quite a thousand words, but one picture can hold so many memories.

Posted in Joselyn Vaughn, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , , , , , | 13 Comments

Close-knit Bunch


This week, one of the foxes challenged us to find and expound on a family photo that says a lot about the subjects. After searching my shelves of scrapbook albums for a half hour, and scrolling through my digital photo file for another hour, I came up with the picture above.

This photo was taken at Arlington National Cemetery in the spring of 2005. My Uncle Jim was buried there, and all of us flew down for the ceremony. Since it was so unusual for all six cousins to be in the same place at the same time, someone suggested that we take a picture, and they happily obliged. My daughters are the first and third from the left. This is one of my mother’s favorite pictures of all her grandchildren, so I had several prints made. I even had one put on a tote bag for her.

I’ve noted in previous posts that my brothers and I grew up without knowing most of our extended family. While we were growing up, all our aunts, uncles, and cousins lived in Japan, and only two (the ones on my dad’s side) spoke English. There was no communication between our Japanese-speaking cousins and us until Facebook came along. Social media, along with online translators, have made it much easier to connect.

Fortunately for my daughters, they are much more able to communicate with their cousins. Between my brothers and me, six girls were born within the space of five years. They’ve been able to meet and share experiences, even though they’ve lived in different cities. For a few years, three of the cousins lived in Luxembourg.

There are some interesting things to note about this picture. First of all, they are arranged in birth order, from left to right. No one told them to line up that way, but to them it seemed natural. They did the same thing in a Christmas picture a few years before this, and again a few years later at my daughter’s wedding. I’m not sure how they came up with this idea – but then, all six are very intelligent, logical, detail-oriented people. Second, they all lean toward each other, as a cohesive group. They truly care about each other. I think that caring tendency is reflected in the careers they eventually chose for themselves. From left to right, they are school psychologist, pharmacist, human resource coordinator, registered nurse, musician, and teacher. Third, I’m struck by the fact that their smiles all appear genuine. These girls enjoy being with each other, even when they’ve been apart for extended periods of time.

I hope and pray the closeness lasts all their lives.

Posted in Family, Patricia Kiyono, youth | Tagged , | 8 Comments

The Write Convention

Book conventions are the topic of the week and frankly, I have next to no direct experience with being a seller at one.

I have not (yet) published a book and therefore have never even considered having a table at a convention. I have been to regional ones with book talks and many sellers. Although it has been a mixed experience, I plan on attending more, but for the past several years my plans have been dashed.

I have heard incredible stories of great opportunities for networking at conventions. Many independent writers, or those published by small presses, have serendipitously gotten into bigger presses or find a great agents at conventions, but alas, that is the exception rather than the rule.

One now-huge writer said that when she was on her way up, she met a mega-star writer just outside the hall as they left a convention late one night. (“I wanted to ask her: Don’t you have people to keep people like me away from you?”) She and her husband asked the famous writer to join them for dinner and they had a marvelous evening, but I wouldn’t count on that happening to many of us.

In fact, I may be telling tales out of school, but one of our former Foxes spent good money to get into a big book convention only to be duffled into another room, away from the New York press authors, who were all put into a main room. She and the other smaller-press authors in the smaller room later found out that attendees were steered away from their room and were told that it was only for ‘over-flow’. The Fox and the others had wondered why they had seen so few potential buyers. It was totally unfair, as the smaller-press, lesser-known authors paid just as much as the big-guns. How were they going to become better-know and bigger-guns with such treatment? (This is something you need to ask and consider if you are ever planning to attend a convention.)

As some of my colleagues have stated this week, some parts of conventions are hard to handle. So many yet-to-be-famous writers looking hopefully in your direction. So many nice people to meet, so many interesting people to talk to, so many interesting books, but you’d have to be independently wealthy, (with great charity in your heart), and time on your hands to buy every book from everyone you meet. It is hard to turn down or gingerly avoid having to buy books from every one of the authors. My resources have been quite limited most of the time and the book talks, author lectures and workshops are fun…and free. Frankly, I missed many of them at the last one, speaking for hours to an author I had met online through Jeff-the-Hound, who was also in attendance for part of the day, along with his lovely wife. (Yet another perk of a book convention: meeting online friends in person!) My husband hit some more of the talk and we had taken my grandson, who likes to write. He attended a great workshop with a famous children’s author who encouraged him greatly, (as did Jeff and our mutual friend. Thanks again, Jeff; he is still writing as a teenager.)Jeff and Jonny at SOKY

It is also difficult at times to go as a visitor to a bigger convention with big-name authors or other famous people who are there to promote a book and with whom you would like to speak. Take a stuffed wallet or a card with a high credit limit because you are not getting near them without having bought a book there at the convention for them to sign. And your time with them may be very limited indeed.

All that having been said, I keep planning on attending more and will, I do hope. If I get my own works ready will I ever get a table at one?

Right now, I have to say that frankly, I don’t know, but I think that I would. I can’t see that it is worth it in the monetary and sales areas, but I observed great camaraderie and support among the authors while they were waiting between possible customers and even during the interaction with them. So many lovely people who would introduce me to the writer in the next chair, or point me to a friend of theirs, it was quite heartening. I might go in it for that, but I will cross that bridge when I come to it.

How about you? Anything you’d like to add concerning book conventions?

Posted in agents, author's life, authors, big plans, Books, careers, connections, experiences, helping others, inspiration, inspirational people, Jeff Salter, The Author Life, Tonette Joyce, Uncategorized, writing | Tagged , , , , | 10 Comments

Conferences With Books

Sign me up!

By Jeff Salter

I’m taking a broad view of the topic, “book conventions,” to include some of my experiences (in a previous life) as a professional librarian at national and regional library conferences. After all, in the old days, such get-togethers were all about books and authors and publishers. [I had my eyeballs on scores of best-selling and/or celebrity authors, plus I heard presentations from many, and got to meet several.] Sure, the exhibit halls also featured library furnishings, fixtures, and equipment, and there were always huge displays with the various vendors [we called them “jobbers”] of wholesale books, serials subscriptions, and the (now old-fashioned) microforms. Heck, I can even remember climbing on-board fully equipped bookmobiles right on the exhibition floor. It wasn’t long, however, before “automation” exhibits took center stage… but I digress. Over my 30 year career, I attended the American Library Association Conferences in Atlanta, Philadelphia, two in Dallas, and two (or three) in New Orleans.

At the ALA in New Orleans in 1989, my brother (and co-author) Charles A. Salter and I were the featured authors at our publisher’s booth for a couple of hours, selling and signing our 1988 release, “On the Frontlines: Coping with the Library’s Problem Patrons.” Our publisher, Libraries Unlimited, was (at that time) one of the top three publishers of library-related non-fiction and reference materials. I don’t recall much about the traffic at our publisher’s booth, but suffice it to say we were not kept busy signing books. Thank goodness we had each other to talk to, as well as the delightful rep from L.U. And – quite a surprise – my wife and two kids also drove down from Shreveport for the event.

And this, by the way, is my first TIP about attending book events as an author: It’s always good to have family and/or friends about. Whether they’re helping with the actual transactions, with the loading/unloading, or just there for moral support… it’s so much easier to face these events if you’re not alone.

The other national event was also with my brother and co-author Charles, and also with L.U. This was in 1991 in Atlanta and we were featured at the publisher’s booth for a couple of hours to sell and sign our 1991 release, “Literacy and the Library.” We had a different L.U. rep for this one, and she was not as personable as the other lady. We also had lousy placement for the L.U. booth, one of those semi-dead ends on a row leading toward a blank wall. So the overall traffic was considerably lower and the number who stopped in our booth was minimal. Difficult to keep a cheery face as you feel the minutes slow grind by and watch the disinterested faces passing your little table. So I was on my feet most of the time, circulating in the L.U. area near our book display. A lady stopped in the booth and looked our direction, so I engaged her. She was friendly, so I introduced her to my brother and the three of us had a nice conversation. We chatted for a good bit, and she was interesting to talk to. But she was not reaching for her pocketbook and we were not reaching for our autograph pens. Finally I made a soft pitch, “So, are you involved in literacy in your library?” (or something similar)… as I held up one of our books.
“Oh, no,” she replied, “I’m just waiting here for my friend.”

Here is my SECOND TIP about attending book events as an author: You can’t always assume casual interest or interaction will translate to a sale. Re-telling this after 25 years, I realize I should have more perceptively read her verbal and physical cues. However, she did continue to stand there and talk with me — how could that NOT be construed as fascinating interest in this hotshot new non-fiction author in his gray blazer with the “FEATURED AUTHOR” lanyard around his neck? LOL

The World of Fiction

Having regaled you with those two examples of my library-world book conference experiences as an author of NON-fiction books, let me shift to the more recent history as the author of 14 fiction titles with three different royalty publishers.

Only half of my 14 titles are in paperback, so let me begin with that tip: it’s very difficult to “sell” what the person can’t see or hold in their hands. But you certainly CAN pique their interest. With digital books, about all you can do is display book covers and hand out flyers or cards or bookmarks with the order info.

As a selling author (of fiction), I’ve been to several local events small and medium. The most successful (in terms of sales) have been three local events when I’ve also been on the program to speak. Of the other events, one has been at an outdoor vendor fair, one inside a local bookstore, and four at the local library.

Our local library’s annual event featuring regional authors has been enjoyable and productive — in that I’ve met new colleagues and done more area networking. To be honest, however, the sales themselves have not been all that terrific (for me, anyway), partly because in three of these instances, the local newspaper provided little or no advance notice of the event even though articles had been submitted by the library. If people don’t know about the event, they won’t attend. And that’s my tip for this section. Publicity is very important… so use whatever means at your disposal to get the word out.

Attending the Event to Meet Other Authors

Unless you’ve already got a big (or growing) name in the industry, some of the investments in time, effort, expense, etc., to attend a large venue as a selling author may be prohibitive. But there’s a lot to be gained by attending those large venues as a reader / purchaser and writing colleague. Not only do you get to meet (or re-meet) colleagues and acquaintances from your publishing house, your regional writing group, or your group blog – among many other connections – but you can “discover” wonderful authors who write terrific books with major imprints.

I’ll list merely one example, but she’s a pip – Duffy Brown, whom I first met at an event in Bowling Green and later met in Cincinnati. I love her series set in Savannah and look forward to reading her series set on Mackinac Island.

Well, I’ll have to list TWO, because I also met the delightful Nancy Naigle at the Cincy event. And, interestingly, it was Tonya Kappes who introduced me to both Duffy and Nancy. [More below on Tonya.]

But the real point I want to make here is that there is also much to be gained by the NETWORKING at these large venues. No, you can’t be a wallflower — you have to be bold enough to introduce yourself, to mingle, and to muster up some small talk. It helps to have a smile and some breath mints, but you have to take some initiative. Don’t be aggressive and don’t pretend to be someone you’re not. Just make an effort… take a chance… MINGLE.

I’ve told this story before, but let me remind you briefly of one of my networking experiences. I had “met” Tonya Kappes through our on-line chapter of RWA, and I attended a sizeable author event – spring of 2010, I believe – in a huge Lexington area bookstore mainly to meet her in person. Once there, Tonya introduced me to author and publisher Maddie James, to whose press I later submitted my sixth completed manuscript. It was my first title to be submitted directly to a publisher and was a constructive experience even though it did not result in a contract. [You’ve got to get that first submission out the chute before the others can follow!]

Four Degrees of Separation

Anyway, to continue my story, Tonya also introduced me to Renee Vincent, with whom I spoke for some time. Having purchased and read Renee’s book, Raeliksen, I later encountered author Sarah Ballance, who’d just reviewed Renee’s novel. Sarah and I chatted about Renee and her book and I later read one of Sarah’s novellas, Hawthorne. Before long, Sarah introduced me to Stephanie Griffin, who is founder and CEO of Clean Reads (formerly Astraea Press). Sarah put in a good word for me with Stephanie and that helped open the door to my SECOND submission (autumn, 2011) – of my seventh completed manuscript – to C.R., which Stephanie later accepted (after I made specified changes) and which was released the following spring (2012) as The Overnighter’s Secrets. I tossed the dates in there so you could see: this didn’t occur overnight, but I honestly believe my networking at that bookstore event set in motion the connections which led to my first fiction contract.


If you’re able – in terms of mobility and health – to attend author / book events… GO. Whether you’ve paid for a table (or half a table) to sell your own books… or if you’re merely there to meet, re-meet, or network… these events can be marvelous steps along your writing and publishing journey. Oh, one more thing: bring your credit card, because you’ll be BUYING a lot of books too.


Which of these type events have YOU attended? As a seller… or buyer… or both?

[JLS # 340]

Posted in authors, Books, connections, helping others, Jeff Salter, publishing, Random thoughts, Uncategorized, writing | Tagged , , , , , | 7 Comments

heading to Penned Con

This week we’re discussing book conventions.  I have never been to one, not even a small one. I have done a reading/signing at the local Salvation Army where I sold and signed about 10 books. I have looked for local events but have yet to find any within a days drive of me.

For the past few years I have been watching all the posts from friends who go to different events all over the country. It looks like a lot of fun. So I have decided that it is time I go to one.

I had narrowed it down to two different ones. One in Nashville in the middle of summer and the other in St. Louis in September. Since my kids and I haven’t gone on a trip in a long time I decided that I want to take them with me. We can enjoy the journey and maybe take an extra day or two to explore. With that in mind I decided the event in September would be perfect since my youngest would be home. However, we’re not going this year.

So in September of 2018 I’ll be heading to Penned Con. I have heard a lot of friends that I have never metofferide of Facebook will be there. My kids are excited to get to meet Kelly Martin and Wendy Knight. Since we’re going in 2018 my oldest child is going to meet us there, she’ll be away at college, to spend the weekend with us.

Since I’ve never been to an event I’m nervous. I have no idea how many books to bring. What sort of things should I give away? Where do I design and order a table banner? Should I offer anything that isn’t book related? I have seen authors hand out candy. Is it a good idea? I guess I have a year to figure out the answers.

If you could attend any book event which would you go to?

Posted in Uncategorized | 6 Comments