Guest:Diane Davis, Narrator, Actress

RDiane nowAs an interview this week, I thought I’d bring in an old friend who is involved in a different facet of book publishing: the audio book. I gave away a copy of one of the cookbooks she narrated here on the blog some time ago; she is one busy lady!
Diane Davis and I go back many more years than either of us care to admit! Suffice it to say that we were best friends when we were in fifth and sixth grades. RDiane and me(Darn! They didn’t have to stamp the year on it!)

After quite a few years out of touch, we picked up where we left off more than a decade ago.
In the meantime we both had married, had sons and got on with life. Diane had continued the songwriting that she began when we were kids. She also became an accomplished musician, singer, and actress; you may have seen her in ads, in movies and in TV series. She was into epublishing and asked me to do an article for the ezine she was attempting to revive. She is a blogger of many subjects, including gambling and casinos.
Diane is an accomplished needleworker and she sells her pieces on Etsy.

As if that is not anywhere near enough, Diane is a computer specialist, has been a successful realtor, an ecommerce dealer of big-ticket items, (think boast, etc.), and now works in vacation/travel planning… did I miss anything, D?

No, I think that’s about it, LoL.

Diane resides outside of Nashville, (hence her work in several episodes of “Nashville” and in the movie “The Identical”), with her grown son. Her incredible mother is a spry lady who has a boyfriend and goes out dancing. She lives near Diane and is a big part of her life.

RDiane ID(Diane  as a townswoman made  up over the years in the feature film,”The Identical”. Quote from Diane:When they were doing my big hair they said, “Get ready, sister, were gonna jack your hair to Jesus!”)RDiane jacked up to Jesus

I brought Diane in today to discuss several topics, but first, the books.

Welcome,  Old Longtime Friend!

It was unfortunate timing that you just started in a new field and do not have the time to do the books a friend of The Hound and mine needs a narrator to voice. Please tell us how you got involved in audio books.

First off, thank you for inviting me to participate in your blog! I really appreciate it. I got involved in audiobook production quite by accident. An author who knew of my voiceover work asked if I was interested in narrating and producing the audiobook for her latest self-help book. Never being one to shy away from a challenge, I said I’d give it a go and see how it works out. That was almost 2 years ago, and since then I’ve produced 7 audiobooks in different genres.

Please explain how one would find work doing narrations, if they wanted to give it a try. (I found it surprisingly open.)

I connect with most of my authors through, the Audiobook Creation Exchange, which is a part of It’s a very valuable source of information for anyone involved in audiobook production or wanting to get into the field. Authors post information about books for which they are seeking narrators, and producers and narrators can post samples of their work and see what books are available for auditions. ACX also provides tracking of your sales and royalties as well as some very helpful webinars about all phases of production, so I would encourage anyone who has an interest in the field to check it out.

What never ceases to amaze me about making shows, movies or recording is the vast amounts of time it takes. I was blown-away when you told me how long it took to finish a piece of audio work. Can you explain the many hours and the process of narrating books?

First of all, I read the book and make notes about any items I want to discuss with the author before starting production. I’ve found that working on a chapter at a time is the best – for me, anyway. In the event that there is something about my presentation that needs to be fine tuned, it’s best to be able to correct it early on, rather than have 5 chapters recorded and then find out a characterization isn’t working. Because of that, my routine is to record, edit and send each chapter to the author for feedback before I move on to the next one.
Technically speaking, once the recording of a chapter is complete, editing comes next, which is the most time-consuming part. When editing I remove or minimize all of the breath sounds between words and make sure there aren’t any extraneous noises, like a neighbor’s lawn mower or a loud muffler on a passing car. I also edit the volume levels to minimize the “peaks and valleys” and make it all sound consistent before putting it through the mastering process. Finally, I run it through a special analysis app in my audio software to ensure that it meets the criteria ACX requires. For every minute of audio that you record, you can count on several times more than that in editing time. For example, Witches of Denmark by Aiden James was 71,612 words, which equated to 7.7 hours of finished audio. But to produce those 7.7 hours, I actually worked on the project anywhere from 5 to 7 hours a day, 5 days a week for close to 2 months.

RDiane narration

The editing sounds technical and complicated. You mentioned software that enabled you. Do you think that most people could do that sort of editing, or does it take real tech skills?

I use Audacity for my editing, which is a free program, but quite good. I would say that one would need to be relatively tech savvy and have a basic understanding of audio editing so the learning curve won’t seem so daunting. A lot of the processing can be automated within the Audacity program, which helps. Even though I have a lot of editing experience, I’m still learning ways to use the software to enhance my work. It’s an ongoing process.

You have done several self-help and cookbooks. I know that you have to stay up-beat for both, but I imagine that straightforward reading is easier than narrating fiction. Is it harder/longer to keep continuity within a novel, between the humor or tension and the characters?

I wouldn’t say it’s really harder, but each type of project presents its own unique challenges. With the non-fiction books, I want to make sure I stay enthusiastic and don’t fall into a monotonous delivery (think Ben Stein: “Beuller…Beuller”). With fiction projects, there’s a lot of creativity involved and it can be a lot of fun, but it also takes a lot of concentration to keep the character voices straight.

I have heard many audio books. Some are simply ‘read’, but some are ‘acted’. Is it up to the author/publisher, or do you have free rein? Do you have directors? Can you also give us an idea of how you work with the authors and who, (if not the authors), generally have the final word for the voices?

As I said before, the first thing I do after I read the book is consult with the author on his or her vision for the audiobook production. What kind of general tone do they want the production to have – lighthearted, serious, friendly? If it’s a novel, I want to determine what kind of accents or other voice characteristics the author is looking for before starting production, and record some samples for them to make sure we’re on the same page. Generally the voices I come up with are a combination of our ideas for the characters.
Witches had a large cast of characters ranging from a 5 year old girl to a 300 year old Romanian warlock and everything in between. Aiden James was active in helping me create and refine the different vocal personalities for each of them. Conversations between characters were a real exercise in maintaining my focus. I had to shift gears constantly, going from one character to the next, making sure I was reading the lines in the right accent. Occasionally you can’t help but get a little out of sync; I think there was more than one occasion where the 5 year old girl sounded like Kevin Spacey or one of the Romanians had a southern accent. Anyone who overheard me while recording probably thought I was suffering from a multiple personality disorder!

Can you explain the difference in pay scales for doing audio books?

Some audiobooks are done on a per-finished-hour basis with no royalties, and those can pay up to $1000 per finished hour of recording, and others are Royalties only, and pay a percentage on each book sold. Some projects pay a stipend to keep you going while you’re in production, then Royalties once the book is released. I’ve found that when an author is high-profile, or when a publisher is involved, the pay rates are often higher, but there is also a lot more competition for those jobs. My advice to anyone who is getting into this line of work, is that if you want experience, doing royalty-only deals are a good way to build up your resume and hone your skills. If you’re going to do a large project on that basis, though, do your homework to make sure there is a good chance the finished product will sell, otherwise you could be spending massive amounts of time on something that will never give you a return on your investment.

All of the Foxes are sewers and many do needlework. A couple of years ago an author acquaintance wanted a pattern for a version of her cat character to publish in her book and I introduced the two of you. I know that she was very pleased with the outcome. Have you seen your pattern in the book?

Yes! Monica Ferris sent me a copy of the book, “Knit Your Own Murder”, when it first came out, and it was a thrill to get it. What was even more fun was walking into Books A Million and seeing it on the shelf. There’s nothing quite like seeing your name and something you’ve created, in print, in a real store for the first time. I must say, that was a real hoot!RDiane and bookRDiane and inscription(I named one of her books but only got credit in a personal inscription, just sayin’! -T)

Several of us are either dealing with aging mothers, have dealt with them or will be in the future. Your mother is a pip! Will you tell our readers about your experiences with her?

Mrs.Davis(Mrs. Rosalie Davis)

My mother turned 90 earlier this month and I jokingly call her the Energizer Bunny. She’ll call me at 7 a.m., shocked that I’m still asleep at such a “late” hour. She’s always ready to go somewhere; we can be out for 12 hours and the next day she’ll be ready to go again at the crack of dawn…I, on the other hand, need a nap once in a while, LoL. Despite some short term memory issues, she still functions well in every other way and gets around better than a lot of people who are considerably younger. She has a very nice gentleman friend who is 93 and they’ve enjoyed each other’s company for several years now. At this point, she has lived to a greater age than everyone in her family except her aunt, who last I heard is still alive and well over 100. So all things considered, she’s very fortunate, and we’re fortunate to still have her with us.

Your new work in travel looks and sounds so exciting! With everything done online, I imagine you could have clients from all over the world. Give us an idea of this new facet in your life. [PLUG AWAY, D!]

My interest in travel goes back to my childhood – I couldn’t pass a display of travel brochures without coming home with an armload of them! I decided to start working toward a career in travel about 4 years ago – you may not remember, but one of your family members was my first client! As a member of Cruise & Travel Experts, I specialize in planning cruises and all-inclusive resort vacations, and especially enjoy working with the entertainment-related cruises and music festivals at sea, such as the Malt Shop Memories, Outlaw Country, Impractical Jokers and Kiss-themed cruises featuring a wide variety of music and comedy acts. Eventually I hope to branch into Destination Weddings and Honeymoons as well. After spending most of my adult life in real estate and insurance – two very serious fields – I love the idea of helping my clients plan lighthearted, happy and memorable vacations for themselves and their families. But I’ve also come to realize that I’m providing an important service, especially in situations like we faced with Hurricane Irma a few weeks ago, where ground transportation home at the end of the cruise was a very real issue, and communication from ship to shore was spotty at best. I was able to make arrangements to get my clients and several of their onboard friends home safely, and sooner than they expected. They were all so appreciative of my efforts, which is very gratifying and reinforces that I’ve made the right career choice. I love the fun part of the business, and when the unexpected happens and travelers need an advocate to work on their behalf back here on dry land, I’m very happy to be able to do that, too.

[I actually had forgotten! My ex-daughter-in-law needed nice, comfortable, and reasonably priced accommodations close to a medical college hospital in a neighboring state, where she would be undergoing tests. You found the perfect place for her!]
Of all you have done, what, besides the new travel experience, are among your favorites? What creative endeavors will you allow yourself when you have free time? Which of them can you foresee continuing to do professionally?

That’s hard to say! Besides audiobooks, I’ve done several hundred voiceovers for radio, animation and movies over the last few years and I love doing that. That’s something I intend to keep doing no matter what else I’m involved in. As far as my creative and crafty endeavors are concerned, I don’t get much free time, so I try to indulge my crocheting and knitting habits whenever I can!

Here’s are links to some of my v.o. work:
Tales of Bingwood trailer – Narrator:
Across All Galaxies – Mom:

Diane, let our readers how they can access the books you have narrated, many of them have samples where they can hear you read.

You can find my audiobooks on Amazon here:

There are samples of each of the books on their product pages. (Just a heads up – there’s some strong language in the two Law of Attraction books by Kelli Cooper.) If you just search “Diane Davis” on Amazon, you’ll also come up with CD called “Saturday Night Hayfever” which is a collection of iconic Disco songs by Bluegrass artists. Yep, that’s me on there, singing “How Deep is Your Love”. I hear Barry Gibb hasn’t forgiven me yet, haha!

Please go ahead, plug your Etsy page, the connection to you at the travel agency and anything else where my friends and readers can see/hear your work; I am proud of you!

I have a relatively new blog focused on Travel and money saving hints, called Diane’s Deals – Cruises and More, which can be found at , and my needlework patterns and handmade items are available at . I hope your readers will also follow my Facebook pages at and – and please keep me in mind to help plan that once in a lifetime vacation! (How’s that for shameless self-promotion? LoL! (I asked for it!-T)

Thanks again for giving new insight to a different facet of the book trade, Diane!

My pleasure! Thanks again for giving me the opportunity to share some information about my projects.

Posted in agents, audiobooks, big plans, book covers, Books, childhood, connections, epublishing, Family, Friendship, Guest, inspiration, interview, jobs, Life, musicians, publishing, Tonette Joyce, traditional publishing, Travel, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 5 Comments

Guest Fox, Nicole Zoltack

My Guest Lives in Two Different Ages

[Well, She Got Married During the Renaissance]

By Jeff Salter

This is my 350th post here at 4F1H and I’m delighted to use it to feature my Guest Fox, Nicole Zoltack. The talented Nicole is a colleague at Clean Reads, where nine of my titles have been published.

One of the things which first intrigued me about Nicole was when she posted a couple of her wedding photos on her FaceBook page. She was married in a Renaissance gown! So I asked her to explain (which she does, below).

Nicole Zoltack


Nicole Zoltack is a USA Today bestselling author who loves to write romances. She did marry her first kiss, after all! Fairy tales, paranormal romances, urban fantasy, epic fantasy, time travels… Nicole spins all kinds of fantastical tales.

When she’s not writing about knights, superheroes, or witches, she spends time with her loving husband, three energetic young boys, and precious baby girl. She enjoys riding horses (pretending they’re unicorns, of course!) and going to the PA Renaissance Faire dressed in period garb. She’ll read anything she can get her hands on. Her current favorite TV shows are Game of Thrones and Stranger Things.

A bit more about Nicole

Thanks for having me!
I have always been fascinated with history, especially the Middle Ages. The time of chivalry and knights just warms my hopeless romantic soul. I first went to the Renaissance Faire during high school for a field trip. We were all allowed to wear time period garb if we wanted to, but I was the only one to do so. From then on, I’ve been back many times, and I’ve always gone in costume. It’s just more fun to! This of course led to me having a Renaissance-themed wedding completed with a castle for a wedding cake and outdoors pictures at a park that had stone ruins.

What’s so fun about history is all of the what ifs. What if one small event didn’t happen? How can that change the timeline? What if you go back in time and it isn’t the past as you know it? That’s what I was thinking about when I wrote The Test of Time, which actually features four different time periods, our own and three alternative ones.

To learn more about Nicole and her works, visit her website or her Amazon page. Everyone who signs up for her newsletter receives a free book, so sign up now!



Katia jumps at the chance to go to England with her best friend after Rose ditches her deadbeat boyfriend. While walking through the market, she spies a large mansion and recognizes the guy out front as her high school friend Tony. Just as they start to reconnect, Katia passes through times and lands in the arms of Lord Landon, who looks like Tony but certainly doesn’t act like him.

Soon, Katia learns that this 1815 is different from the one in history books. Trapped in a parallel world, Katia struggles to not fall for Landon but his charm proves too much for her. Just when she is about to confess her love for him, Katia travels through time yet again.

The course of love never did run smooth and if Katia can’t figure out and master the test of time, she’ll never see her friends again, or worse, never be reunited with Landon.

Buy link:

Nicole’s Question for YOU

If you could go back to the past or jump into the future, would you?

[JLS # 350]

Posted in author interview, authors, Guest, Guest author, Jeff Salter, Uncategorized | Tagged , | 18 Comments

Guest Author: Maris Soule

Author Picture - Maris Soule 2When I first entertained the notion of writing a romance, I joined the Mid-Michigan chapter of the Romance Writers of America. I discovered a wonderful group of supportive people, so full of encouragement. Several were published authors, and I sought out their books so that I could emulate them. Maris Soule was one of the successful authors I followed. She had several books in the Silhouette line at Harlequin, and I read most of her paperbacks. Recently, Maris has been taking some of her paperbacks and re-releasing them as ebooks. This is a very time consuming effort, so when she announced her most recent project, I asked her to tell us about it!


HeiressThank you, Patty, for inviting me to talk about HEIRESS SEEKING PERFECT HUSBAND. This book was created back in 1997 when Silhouette tried a new line of romances called Yours Truly. My editor said, “The idea is that sometimes you have to kiss a lot of frogs before you find Prince Charming. These books will feature women in the process of finding Mr. Right.”

I loved the idea. I didn’t get married until my late twenties. During those pre-marriage years, I dated and kissed a lot of men. They might not have been frogs, but they also weren’t Mr. Right. And then I met Bill.

Actually, I’d dreamed about Bill as a child. Before I was even a teenager, I knew I wanted to marry a redhead with blue eyes. And there he was…dating my upstairs neighbor. I believe in Fate, Kismet, Divine Guidance, whatever you want to call it, and my upstairs neighbor was often late. So, while Bill waited for her to show up, he and I would often talk…about everything from the art professor who was driving me crazy to the work he was doing with mentally challenged students. And then, one day he came to see me, not my neighbor. They’d broken up, and he was asking me out.

That was 50 years ago. We’ve been together ever since.

Now, Bill was an active Marine during the Korean war (I’ve been told, over and over, once a Marine always a Marine), is muscular, and (from what I’ve heard) was in a few bar fights in his younger years. In other words, he’s no wimp. So, when I was writing HEIRESS SEEKING PERFECT HUSBAND, I decided I needed to visit the Detroit, Michigan area to visualize exactly where my hero Clint had lived and my heroine Shannon now lived. I asked Bill to drive me over there. Our first shock was how downtown Detroit looked like a war zone: empty buildings, boarded up windows and doors, and rubble everywhere. (I understand it’s improved somewhat.) From there we drove north to Grosse Point, where I’d placed Shannon’s home. There I saw gated estates with large expanses of lawn and huge houses. Definitely a contrast. (Which is one reason why Clint, in the story, doesn’t feel worthy of Shannon.)

In one scene, Shannon drives herself from her estate to a building in Detroit where Clint works with at risk students on his day off. It’s not a safe area, and one Clint has warned her to stay away from. I wanted to see what the drive would be like and what the area would be like. All I can say is I scared my husband…and me. As we drove through rundown neighborhoods with groups of young men hanging out on the corners and in front of bars, Bill kept saying, “We need to get out of here.” And when we turned onto a dead-end street by mistake, he made the fastest, tightest U-turn I’d ever seen that car make. I don’t think either of us gave a sigh of relief until we were back on the freeway, heading for our home in southwest Michigan.

Now when I ask Bill to help me research a book, he gives me this questioning look, and I have to assure him we won’t be going anywhere dangerous.

Last year I released HEIRESS SEEKING PERFECT HUSBAND as an e-book. Here’s a bit from the story.

No,” she began, then stopped, the pieces falling into place. One piece stormed through the door. Motorcycle helmet in hand, his white shirt open at the neck and the sleeves rolled to his elbows, Clint strode toward her. His look was fierce. “What in the hell are you doing here!”
Shannon wanted to step back, but forced herself to stand where she was. Boldly, she lifted her chin and looked him straight in the eyes. “I’m talking to Don. What are you doing here?”
“I told you to stay away from this place.”
“And I told you I would go anywhere I pleased. You are not my father or my husband. You are not even my lover. You’re my chauffeur.” She lifted her eyebrows. “Or are you?”
He stood directly in front of her, his chest expanding with each breath he took and a muscle along the side of his jaw twitching with his anger.
“Just what exactly did John hire you to do, Clint? And this time I want the truth, not another lie.”

You can find HEIRESS SEEKING PERFECT HUSBAND at Amazon and Barnes and Noble.


Posted in Uncategorized | 19 Comments

So Many, So Soon

This week we are asked to name those who have ‘gone too soon’, those who left the world before they could have contributed so much more.

I thought politically and John Fitzgerald Kennedy was on my list. Jeff named him yesterday. The more I hear of his speeches and many of his plans, the more impressed with I am with them.

Certainly the Reverend Marin Luther King, Jr. could have helped the country accomplish so much more in understanding and cooperation. I wish everyone would listen, actually listen, to the words he left behind and acted in their spirit.

I thought strongly about doing the entire post on Michael Collins, the man of author whom Tim Pat Coogan named his biography, “The Man Who Made Ireland”. Had he not been assassinated at the age of 31, I believe that Ireland would have been stronger through the latest decades, less apt to roller-coastering between boom and bust. He could have kept Eamon DeValera in check. Collins would not have amassed a personal fortune while the terrible poverty that caused so much physical suffering and demoralization for much of Ireland’s people continued.

But off my soapbox. There were great artists who died young left us with loss: Vincent Van Gogh, Rafael and Caravaggio, among several classical artists. (Unfamiliar with the name ‘Caravaggio”? You have probably seen his most famous religious paintings, “Thomas the Doubter” and “St.Jerome”.)Caravaggio 1 ThomasCaravaggio 2 St Jerome

Looking at famous literary figures in the past, there were many who died young who come to mind: Jane Austen, Christopher Marlowe, Oscar Wilde, Lord Byron, Percy Shelley and John Keats. (My mother told me that she would have named me “Keat” had I been a boy. She really had it out for me, didn’t she?)

Music lost many greats too soon: Wolfgang Mozart, Franz Shubert, Frederic Chopin and I have to add, Glenn Miller. Everyone has heard his music; all modern musicians lost a major influence. I’ll bet most young adults, even though they can’t tell you the names of the songs, who wrote or performed them, have heard “In the Mood”:, plus probably Miller’s “String of Pearls” and “Moonlight Serenade”.

So find his grandness debatable, but I will add Mario Lanza.  Alfred Arnold Cocozza knew the sacrifices his mother, (nee Maria Lanza), made all of his life to cultivate his talent and of her work to afford voice coaches for him, so he chose a male version of her name to use professionally.

Mario not only sang in grand operas, but he recorded many arias and performed in operettas, which introduced many to the musical forms and classical works. The movies he made were highly watchable, if sometimes a little simple. (Why were they surprised when the deaf girl he loved got depressed when they took her to see him perform?) The movies were always full of romance and music. They were often filled with lovely locations and brilliant costuming, and not only when he was onstage. In one early post I mentioned the cluster of diamonds that Joan Fontaine wore on her hip in one of his films, “Serenade“. It was the only jewelry that adorned her solid black dress and the result was stunning! Although I saw the movie forty years ago, I will never forget the impact it had on me.Joan Fonatine(I actually found a picture! Too bad you can’t get the impact of it from this. And yes, that is Vincent Price to the left.)

You can still often hear Mario’s religious and Christmas song renditions played during the holiday season in stores and on the radio. Speaking of Franz Shubert, here is a link to Mario singing his “Ave Maria”

He died after being pushed by his studios into a severe weight-loss program; his heart could not take the stress. It was tragic.
We lost very many who could have continued to mold the world for the better, politically or as they added to its joy and beauty.

Posted in careers, gone too soon, inspiration, inspirational people, memories, musicians, poetry, romance, Tonette Joyce, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 7 Comments

Too Soon Departed

Individuals Who Died Too Young

By Jeff Salter

An unusual topic this week… and rather sad. We’re contemplating individuals who left us too soon. As I reflected on this, I realized I was thinking about three very different groups of people. One group featured individuals who were influential on the world stage, another focused on those who made important literary contributions… and a third was about family.

I’ll start with family

Possibly because my daughter has lately been working tirelessly on genealogy, my wife (when asked about this topic) thought of her grandfather, Halleck Williams (who lived right here in Possum Trot). Denise’s grandfather died some 22 months before she was born — on the very morning that I was born three states away. Her grandfather Williams was born poor and lived poor, but he had a rich life as husband, father, church deacon, and hardworking provider.

After Denise mentioned her grandfather, I naturally remembered my own, Willie M. Robinson of Alabama. He was born into the large family of a small town doctor and was the only one of four male siblings to move away. After serving in France during WW I, my grandfather came home and began working with the phone company, where he was promoted rapidly and still working when he died of a heart attack in his middle fifties in Atlanta. His death occurred about three months before I was born, when my mom had me in her sixth month of pregnancy.


President John F. Kennedy

World Stage

Lots of the world leaders who made their mark have lived to ripe old ages, but one who was cut down in his prime was also one who made a big impact on me because of his youth, vigor, charm, and personality. I’m speaking, of course, of John Fitzgerald Kennedy, who served less than three years of his presidential term — those fabled “thousand” days — before being assassinated on the streets of Dallas in November 1963. He was about 46. As a grownup, I might not have seen eye-to-eye with all of JFK’s politics and policies… and we’ve since learned he was definitely no angel in his personal life. But I think it’s a national tragedy that our country never got to benefit from some of the GOOD things he was trying to do. [One huge issue was that JFK wanted to get our troops out of Vietnam; had he lived, he likely would have avoided the majority of the deaths and disabling wounds of our soldiers, Marines, sailors, and airmen.]

To understand a bit more of the impact on me, here’s a blog from earlier this summer in which I refer to JFK:

Literary Contributions

I didn’t stop to count names, but certainly there were several important authors who died way too young. Edgar Allan Poe is one who had achieved a degree of fame, but had so many personal demons, that he died wretchedly at age 40.

But my heart really goes out to those creative individuals who were posthumously declared to be literary giants… but during their lifetimes gained little attention at all. One whose poems I really love is Emily Dickinson, who died at age 56 with less than a dozen of her 1800 poems published. Some of those few published were heavily edited by someone who thought he was doing her a favor (but actually butchered her lines). Others were published anonymously. In quality and quantity, most of her work was written during the Civil War years, 1861-65. For most of the latter half of her life, Dickinson was a melancholy recluse. I wish she could have lived to see how important her poetry became after it was finally revealed and read.


One of the very few authenticated photos of Emily Dickinson, taken when she was about 16 or 17 years old.


Is there anyone – for whatever reason – who YOU believe died too young?

[JLS # 349]

Posted in America, author's life, authors, gone too soon, history, Jeff Salter, poetry, Uncategorized | Tagged , , | 10 Comments

‘Piggy We Stole From the Shed’

I thought this topic was a great idea when I thought of it, but as I started to think about writing it, I couldn’t think of the right person for me to write about. Sure, a variety of recent musicians and Hollywood celebrities came to mind. Some I was familiar with their work and was sad that it would no longer be continued and others that I had name recognition for, but couldn’t tell you one song that they sang or movie they appeared in. Most of the time their ends came under tragic drug-related circumstances.

Then my mind leaped to science and while several prominent names came to mind, I had no idea if they had lived to make their marks on their fields.  I thought perhaps I might write about Madam Curie whose own discovery was what eventually killed her (she liked to carry radioactive things around in her pocket), but while fascinating I didn’t feel drawn to her discoveries or her life.

So who did I wish had made a larger contribution to our world? I was perplexed. The answer didn’t come to me until I saw Patricia’s post pop up on Facebook yesterday. It reminded me that I still needed to write this, and as a bit of panic entered my stomach, I kept scrolling.

And there was a picture of John Denver.

A musician that I had a strong connection to and who died tragically in an airplane crash.

When I think of John Denver’s music, I fills me with happiness. I remember the eight track player in my mom’s living room and the nubby texture of the carpet under my feet as I danced/galloped around the living room to ‘Thank God I’m a Country Boy’ (which I later learned was written by John Summers) and ‘Grandma’s Feather Bed.’

I watched a documentary a few years ago about his music, his love for his wife, and his life. There was something about his music that connected with my life growing up on a farm and a strong connection to the earth. I also love the sometimes not-so-subtle humor.

While he created many beautiful songs, I would certainly enjoy many more of his lyrics and graceful music.

So I’ll leave one of my favorite’s here:
Posted in Joselyn Vaughn, Uncategorized | Tagged , , | 5 Comments

More Time With a Master Lyricist


This week, our assignment is to select someone who we think could have contributed more to our lives had that person’s life not been cut short. Since I’m a musician, I immediately searched my mind (and the internet) for fellow musicians who died young. There are many, but in most cases, the lives were shortened due to noxious habits they picked up. Jim Croce was an exception. At 30 years of age, he was killed in a plan accident traveling between concerts. Sadly, I didn’t know anything about him until after his death in 1973. I was a freshman in college, and was getting ready for a day of classes when my roommate came in, visibly upset. “Did you hear? Jim Croce was killed in a plane accident.” I’d never heard of the man, but I commiserated, figuring I’d hear details later.

In the days that followed, the news was full of tributes to his music. Of course, my distraught roommate played his albums non-stop (young people, this is in the days before digital music, which means no CDs, MP4s, streaming, or even YouTube!). There were tributes to him on every television station, radio station, and even at the college basketball game.

Eventually, I learned most of his songs. I found melodies to his ballads to be haunting and memorable, and enjoyed dancing to his livelier tunes. But even more, I was intrigued with the lyrics. As authors, we struggle to find the words that convey certain actions and emotions. Croce’s lyrics are marvelous word paintings that stir up memories and all sorts of feelings in a way that I can only hope to achieve.

Time in a Bottle was apparently written soon after Croce learned he was to become a father. The song expressed every parent’s wish for more time to enjoy the special moments one experiences with children. It was first released in 1972 on his album You Don’t Mess Around With Jim, but after his death in 1973 the song took on a more melancholy meaning, that of limited time on earth to connect with those around us.

“Time in a Bottle” by Jim Croce
If I could save time in a bottle
The first thing that I’d like to do
Is to save every day
‘Til eternity passes away
Just to spend them with you

If I could make days last forever
If words could make wishes come true
I’d save every day like a treasure and then,
Again, I would spend them with you

But there never seems to be enough time
To do the things you want to do
Once you find them
I’ve looked around enough to know
That you’re the one I want to go
Through time with

If I had a box just for wishes
And dreams that had never come true
The box would be empty
Except for the memory
Of how they were answered by you

But there never seems to be enough time
To do the things you want to do
Once you find them
I’ve looked around enough to know
That you’re the one I want to go
Through time with

Posted in Music, musicians | Tagged , , , | 5 Comments