Fun Facts About Voice Actors

I was preparing an audition script for my books that don't have audio editions yet.

I've worked with some wonderful narrators and am looking forward to diving into audio production again. The narrator can make or break an audio book.

Here are some interesting facts I learned along the way from my first audio book production to now.

1. The first voice over made was in 1900. Canadian inventor Reginald Fessenden, while working for the United States Weather Bureau, recorded a test he made reporting the weather. He also became the first voice of radio at Christmas time in Boston in 1906 when he recorded a program of music, Bible verses, and messages to ships at sea.

2. Robin Kohn Glazer, the voice actress who narrated the audio edition of my romantic comedy Still The One, was the voice of Lucy in the original Peanuts animation TV specials.

3. The actors who voiced Mickey and Minnie Mouse were actually married in real life. Wayne Allwine and Russi Taylor were married for 18 years until Mr. Allwine died in 2009 from complications caused by diabetes.

4. Felicia Greenfield, the narrator for my romantic comedy Just One Look, has TV credits from just about every popular series.

5. The voice of Yogi Bear was by legendary voice artist Daws Butler.

6. Leah Frederick, the narrator who breathed life into Jane (I'm Still Single) Jones, has done commercials for radio, TV, and Internet; educational and corporate narrations, dozens of audiobooks, and even a Nintendo video game!

7. Jim Dale is the voice of Harry Potter in the audio book series. Actually, he created 134 different voices for the series.

8. Nicole Colburn, narrated my Christmas romantic comedy, Nobody's Cinderella, and breathed life into my heroine and hero. Like all good actors, she made the book sound as fun, romantic, and sexy as I meant it to be.

9. Dick Hill has narrated books from Mark Twain to Dave Barry, but most people know him best as the voice of Jack Reacher, the hero of Lee Child’s best-selling series. Since I've listened to several audio books by Hill, I understand why fans seek out other books he's narrated.

10.  Holly Adams has narrated several of my novels. She has been an entertainer since she was 13 and has sung, danced, and acted her way from coast to coast and beyond. Her first narration for me was my book, The Trouble With Love.

Takeaway Truth

Audio book popularity is growing faster than ebook popularity did. I think that's because audio books make it possible to "read" more than ever before, especially if you are short of time.

Frazzled? Have Some Christmas Humor

If you're like me, you're already feeling frazzled by the hurrying and scurrying--shopping, baking, wrapping, partying, etc. Sometimes, it helps to take a deep breath and laugh.

Here are a few funny things people have said about Christmas.

“Santa Claus has the right idea. Visit people only once a year.” – Victor Borge

“Once again, we come to the Holiday Season, a deeply religious time that each of us observes, in his own way, by going to the mall of his choice.” – Dave Barry

“The principal advantage of the non-parental lifestyle is that on Christmas Eve you need not be struck dumb by the three most terrifying words that the government allows to be printed on any product: “Some assembly required.”” – John Leo

“I love Christmas. I receive a lot of wonderful presents I can’t wait to exchange.” – Henny Youngman

“Let me see if I’ve got this Santa business straight. You say he wears a beard, has no discernible source of income and flies to cities all over the world under cover of darkness? You sure this guy isn’t laundering illegal drug money?” – Tom Armstrong

“Mail your packages early so the post office can lose them in time for Christmas.” – Johnny Carson

There. Hope that gave you a smile. Feel better?


Answer the question in Comments.

Be sure and leave your email address written out to be entered in the random draw Giveaway this month.

Takeaway Truth

Feel better? You're welcome.

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Top 10 Christmas Songs

Christmas Carolers by DonnaSkolnick0, Pixabay
Yesterday I wrote a review of a wonderful book you must get if you love the Songs of Christmas.

Written by Ace Collins, Stories Behind the Best-Loved Songs of Christmas is a treasure trove you must have because it tells the stories behind the Christmas songs we all love.

Reading the book made me wonder what the top Christmas songs are so I went to Google and looked it up.

Many websites have Top 10 lists of Christmas songs. I don't agree with some of the lists, but this list which actually contains the Top 50 coincides with some of my favorites even though I have a problem with their ranking.

You can go to the website and see the entire list of 50. You can vote and also leave a comment if you wish.

I'm just going to list the top 10 songs from that list here. Do go and read their list. Bet you'll be humming some of the songs as you go read the list.

Top 10 Christmas Songs
Jingle Bells Music by geralt, Pixabay


1. Jingle Bell Rock
2. Waiting for Christmas
3. All I Want for Christmas Is You
4. Silent Night
5. White Christmas
6. Do They Know It's Christmas
7. O Holy Night
8. Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer
9. Jingle Bells
10. Santa Claus Is Coming to Town

What's your favorite Christmas son? Did it make the Top 50?

Answer the question in Comments. Be sure and leave your email address written out to be entered in the random draw Giveaway this month.

For details, see December Giveaway at the top of the left sidebar.

Takeaway Truth

I can't imagine Christmas without music. It's always been a part of my holiday celebration since I was a child and went caroling with my Sunday school class.
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Story Behind Do You Hear What I Hear

There's a wonderful book you must get if you love the Songs of Christmas.

Written by Ace Collins, Stories Behind the Best-Loved Songs of Christmas is a treasure trove you must have because it tells the stories behind the Christmas songs we all love.

I'll give just one example from the book.

Do You Hear What I Hear?

I've always loved this song. After reading the story about how the song came into being, I'm even more impressed by the lyrics and music.

Gloria Shayne was an American, and Noel Regney was a Frenchman with a deep love of music.

When Regney was young, World War II broke out. He was forced into the Nazi army but managed to escape. He joined a band of resistance fighters. With the war over, in the 1950's he came to the United States. He wandered into New York's  Beverly Hotel and saw a beautiful woman playing the piano.

From Europe to America

Although he spoke little English, he introduced himself to Gloria Shayne. Within a month, Gloria and Noel were married.

These two seemed like complete opposites. Noel Regney was in the States to record classical music. Gloria Shayne was determined to write rock and roll music. Yet, they clicked I guess.

By the 1960's, her song "Goodbye Cruel World" had been recorded by James Darren and was at the top of the charts. She was a song-writing machine.

For Noel, the constant wars since WWII involving France and the U.S.--Korea and Vietnam--brought back the horrors of WWII. He found himself disillusioned and depressed.

Regney searched for something to bring him peace. He wanted the all humankind to have a chance to live without hate, conflict, and fear.

Inspiration Leads the Way

Inspired, Regney wrote a poem about the first Christmas, concentrating on the events leading to the birth of Jesus.

He remembered walking through the fields in France and watching the sheep and thought about the innocence of a newborn lamb, appropriate since Jesus is often referred to as the Lamb of God.

When he finished the poem, he gave it to his wife and asked her to compose the music. She went shopping and the first line of music "came to her," but there was a hiccup.

I won't tell the rest of the story. You need to read Noel and Gloria's story for yourself, and you can because it's available in ebook for only $1.99. You can also find it in print.

Question of the Day: What is your favorite Christmas song?

Answer the question in Comments. Be sure and leave your email address written out to be entered in the random draw Giveaway this month. For details, see December Giveaway at the top of the left sidebar.

Takeaway Truth

Chances are the story of how your favorite song came to life is in this book. Add Stories Behind the Best-Loved Songs of Christmas to your Library for only $1.99 on Kindle and read the rest of Gloria and Noel's story along with all of the others. You'll love this book.

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9 Holiday Trivia Tidbits

Here's some holiday trivia so you can rock the holiday games at parties.

1. Every elf has a bell on the tip of his shoes.

2. A snowflake traditionally has 6 points.

3. Of the 8 reindeer, 2 have names which, in German, are weather phenomenon. They are Donner, German for thunder, and Blitzen, which means lightning.

4. England is credited with the creation of eggnog.

5. Santa goes by many names, one of which is St. Nicholas who actually belongs to the country of Turkey.

6. The Christmas tree that is placed at Trafalgar Square in London is always a gift from Norway.

7. The first state in the United States to recognize Christmas as an official holiday was Alabama.

8. The last state in the United States to recognize Christmas as a legal holiday was Oklahoma.

9. The red and white costume of Father Christmas aka Santa Claus was allegedly first introduced by the Coca-Cola company.

How many of these Holiday facts did you know?

Answer the question in Comments and/or leave a trivia fact about the holidays.

Be sure and leave your email address written out to be entered in the random draw Giveaway this month. For details, see December Giveaway at the top of the left sidebar.

Takeaway Truth

Who knows why a tidbit of a fact will prove useful or at least entertaining?

VISIT JOAN & FOLLOW HER ONLINE

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5 Romantic Christmas Movies to See

Hey! I went to the first Christmas party of the season.

We had fun even though it was raining buckets outside complete with thunder and lightning. Still pouring rain.

We came home a bit early so I could clean my office--a task that's been on my To-Do list every day for 2 weeks.

I want to get it done before we go to the ranch in the morning. It's been 2-3 weeks since we were there so we'll drive up and back in the same day just to check and make sure all is okay.

Romantic Christmas Movies Rock

My daughter and I binge-watched Christmas movies on Netflix the week I stayed with her when her hubby was in Italy. Here's a quick list of the ones worth watching. Not included are perennial favorites, just new ones to us. I'll have a similar list for Amazon sometime this week.

1. Christmas Chronicles -- absolutely #1 on the list
 Kurt Russell as Santa? How could you not watch this? This fun movie is an homage to Home Alone, Adventures in Babysitting, and jaw-dropping Elvis impersonations. If you're a child of the 80's or 90's or just an adult who loved those decades referenced in Stranger Things, a Netflix Original series, you'll love this. It's a riot, and the ending is cherry on top. Don't miss it.

2. The Princess Switch
An updated version of Twain's The Prince and the Pauper, this adaptation stars Vanessa Hudgins who does a splendid job in the dual role. Romance, royalty, and a castle. What more can you ask for in a Christmas romance?

3. A Christmas Prince
More royalty and romance starring Rose McIver and Ben Lamb that's also part Cinderella story. A good time chick flick.

4. The Spirit of Christmas
Starring Jen Lilley and Thomas Baudoin, this story will have you needing a box of tissues at the end. It's romantic, believable characterization, nice mystery element, and poignant. You'll be rooting for a happy ending that just doesn't seem possible.

5. Christmas Inheritance
Eliza Taylor, Jake Lacy, and Andie McDowell star in this tale of a rich girl who's always splashed across the tabloids. Challenged by her dad, she tries to make a fresh start. Sounds easy, but it's harder than she anticipated. (Kind of sounds like a couple of my books.)

Talking About My Books

In my latest romance, Brianna's Season for Miracles,  Brianna and Daniel, her hero, attend the biggest Christmas party in New Estacado, a small town in the Panhandle of Texas--with some unintended consequences.

Brianna's story is an homage to one of my favorite Christmas movies, A Season for Miracles starring Carla Gugino.

Last Christmas was the last straw for Brianna Walker. She hated her life. Too much whisky, too much misery, and too much loneliness had resulted in a very public embarrassment. Vowing never to return to her hometown, she left for Vegas, a city where she could be anonymous instead of grist for her hometown’s gossip mill.

Brianna faced the fact that if she wanted her life to be different, she had to change,and thus begins her journey. It's not an easy one either.

Only at Amazon and only 99cents for 1 week after release on Dec. 11. Preorder now! Price rises to $2.99 after the first week. Get your copy today.

What's your favorite Christmas movie?

Answer the question in Comments and leave your email address written out to be entered in my December Giveaway.

For details, see December Giveaway at the top of the left sidebar.

Takeaway Truth

Ah, the weekend is here. Time to read, watch some more Christmas movies, and relax. Have a great one!

Farewell, President George H. W. Bush

Official portrait. George H.W. Bush 1989
Today was an emotional one for most of us in the Houston area. Our President George H. W. Bush was laid to rest next to Barbara and daughter Robin on the grounds of the Bush Library at Texas A&M.

One of our sons is an Aggie, and he always calls that part of Texas "God's Country."

My husband and I always admired "41" because he had the guts to do what needed to be done--not what was popular with voters. He lived what he believed.

Emotional Days

We couldn't seem to not watch every moment that unfolded from last weekend through this evening.
We watched every service from the one in Washington to the one at St. Martin's Episcopal to the final one at A&M. Watching the train carrying him from the station in Spring to College Station was especially moving.

So many Americans came to pay their respects. Despite the light rain and the cold temperatures, people lined the railroad tracks and the adjacent highways as the train went through all the small towns and rural areas between Houston and College Station.

Many saluted--some with hands over hearts, others with a military salute. Flags waved. Men and women shed tears. As the train made its way through towns, silence fell over the crowds.

This was George Herbert Walker Bush.
I wonder sometimes if there will ever be another president like George Herbert Walker Bush.

Many broadcasters say he was the end of an era. I guess that's true.

It's rather sad that there aren't other politicians who can see the virtues of both sides of an argument, respect the opposition, and come up with a compromise from all concerned parties for the good of the American people.

If anyone wants to know how a President should act, he or she has only to look at Mr. Bush's life and career.

He knew how to be presidential, no schoolyard bully tactics for him. He also knew how to treat everyone, from a waiter to a head of state, with respect.

Takeaway Truth

The world has lost a good man--a great man. Yet, I know he's at peace with his beloved wife and daughter.

Review: DesignCap, An Online Poster & Flyer Maker

Poster I made with DesignCap
I'm always interested in websites that offer free online graphic design services. Several weeks ago, a representative from DesignCap contacted me and asked me to review their graphic design app.

It's been such a crazy autumn, but I finally had time to cruise around DesignCap, billed as an online poster and flyer maker,  and check them out.

Why Review So Many

Yes, there are other apps out there like BookBrush, Canva, Vectr, etc. Each offers something for the DIY graphic designer.

What one may love about one of these online apps, another may dislike. That's why I try to profile all of them and encourage you to try them and find the one that suits your needs and is user friendly for you.

Key Features

DesignCap is free and offers these key features:

(1) Hundreds of poster and flyer templates

(2) Thousands of resources including clipart images, shapes, fonts, and backgrounds

(3) Fully customizable to help your design be unique

(4) Convenient and quick: no download or registration required (but I urge you to register so you'll be first to know about new features).

(5) Written, step by step instructions that are concise and clearly understandable--some of the best I've seen. Screenshots included.

(6) Ability to download the image you created in sizes from small to extra-large.
posters for promoting events and giving presentations.

Try DesignCap yourself. It's intuitive and easy to use and very similar to the design setup of BookBrush. If you have difficulty, go to the written instructions.

I quickly made the poster for Brianna's Season for Miracles (only 99cents for the first week of its release) and used a combination of apps.

I created the 3D image of the cover with BookBrush and used it as the photo for the poster. The pink rose background came from DesignCap as did the embellishments of the tag at the upper left corner and the starburst at the lower right corner. Easy peasy to do, and I think it looks great, don't you?

Question of the Day: Whether for personal use of business, are you a DIY graphic artist? If so, what kind of designs do you make?

Answer the question in Comments and leave your email address written out to be entered in the December Giveaway. See DECEMBER GIVEAWAY at the top of the left sidebar for details.

Takeaway Truth

I think you'll like DesignCap. Give it a try and let me know.
VISIT JOAN & FOLLOW HER ONLINE

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5 Free Online Grammar Resources

There are many free online resources for just about every application you may need.

Since I see so many people make mistakes in grammar, I thought I'd give you some free websites to help you with these pesky issues. 

If your grammar isn't quite up to par, you may feel anxiety gnawing at your nerve endings when you need to write an important letter.

Maybe you want to try to write a story or even a book, and you're unsure about your grammar skills. Don't be anxious or scared away from something you want to do. Be proactive and improve your skills.

5 Free Online Grammar Resources

Grammar Check is quick and easy. Just paste your text into the form and press the grey Free Check button. If you see anything underlined, click on it to see suggestions or options for correction.

spelling error, style suggestion, or grammar suggestion in your text, click on them to see more options. Apply corrections where you need them. Then, the system will automatically check grammar usage and spelling and give you the final verdict.

Virtual Writing Tutor

This website works pretty much the same as the one above. "It helps writers count words, check spelling, check grammar and punctuation, check paraphrasing, improve word choice, self-assess the use of target structures, and master English pronunciation." There's also an aspect of it that trains one to be a better proofreader.

Scribens

This website is a grammar, spelling, and style checker and gives statistics on the text you enter. Try the sample when you go there. They say they correct 10 times more mistakes than MS Word.

Grammar Look Up

This website uses artificial intelligence to check grammar and punctuation mistakes and highlight  style issues too. They also are user friendly and fast.

Grammar Book

On this website, you can actually look up grammar rules so you won't keep making the same mistakes.  

Question of the Day: What's your grammar gremlin that troubles you most?

Answer the question in Comments and leave your email address written out to be entered in the December Giveaway. See DECEMBER GIVEAWAY at the top of the left sidebar for details.

Takeaway Truth

Being proactive is always better than ignoring a problem. The internet makes it easy with good, free resources.
VISIT JOAN & FOLLOW HER ONLINE

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Review: Stink!

I guess it had to happen. I'm already anxious about the food industry in America, our health care, harmful prescriptions and implants of every description, and the fact that the pharmaceutical industry is in the driver's seat at the FDA.

Then I watched Stink, a 2015 American documentary directed by Jon J. Whelan whose wife died young from cancer.

Netflix added this documentary to their lineup on November 1, 2018.  If you don't subscribe to Netflix, you can also watch it on Amazon.

Stink explores why there are toxins and carcinogens legally hidden in American consumer products. Products we use every day. Products we use on our babies from birth.

Beware, Beware

If you see the word fragrance (or perfume/parfum) on a product's ingredient list, beware! That one word can mean literally 100's of chemicals that the manufacturer can legally hide under that innocuous word may be in your shampoo, hand lotion, soap, cleaning products, etc.

Did you know that children's clothes labeled "flame retardant" can be treated with chemicals that cause cancer? Unfortunately, the chemicals used to make something flame retardant do not have to be listed under ingredients.

Is Greed Killing Us?

This is so wrong! Anything used in a consumer product should be listed on the ingredient label, and if that ingredient is carcinogenic, the item should be labeled, "This product may cause cancer."

I'm on a rant, but this documentary made me angry at the politicians, the FDA, and the lobbyists who seem to run the big industries in this country.

Last example, and then I'll get on with my day. In the U.S., 10 chemicals are banned from women's lipstick. In Europe, over 1200 chemicals are banned. Even China where many of these toxic products are created has stronger product safety guidelines than we have in the U.S. We have become a dumping ground for toxic products.


Knowledge Is Everything

Educate yourself. Be aware of what you're putting on your skin, in your laundry, and with what you're cleaning your house. There are "green" alternatives like using white vinegar in a spray bottle to clean countertops and just about anything you'd clean with a spray disinfecting cleaner.

There are a lot of blogs about "going green" and books about it too like DIY Natural Household Cleaners which is available in Kindle and Paperback.

I remember my mom often used baking soda and white vinegar instead of the cleansers from the supermarket. Like many things, I think she might have been on the right track.

This morning, I took an empty spray bottle, washed it, and filled it with white vinegar. I've always used cloth napkins, tossing them in the washer after every meal rather than paper napkins. I'm going to assess everything from this point on. I hope you'll do the same.

Question of the Day: Read your shampoo label. Does it contain "fragrance" or "perfume?"

Answer the question in Comments to be entered in the December Giveaway. See Giveaway Details at the top of the left sidebar.

Takeaway Truth
 
Tell your elected senators and representatives that the burden of proof for product safety should be on the manufacturer. Nothing should go to market containing any kind of toxic ingredients.

Prizes for December Giveaway

Gee, I guess I'll be running late until next year. Seriously.

I'm still trying to get pictures taken of the prizes for the December Giveaway. You can see a couple of them below.

At the left, you'll see the details regarding the December Giveaway introduced yesterday on the blog.

No purchase is necessary.

Just be sure to read and understand the rules.

Important Reminder

If you live in the U.S., you are eligible for the prizes I'll show below.

If you live outside the U.S. and your name is chosen by random drawing, your prize will be an ebook or audio book package--your choice.

Here is a list of the prizes and some photographs.



(1) Print copy of JANE (I'm Still Single) JONES, a romantic comedy and one of my all-time bestselling books.

(2) Pens and Notepads

(3) Post it Note Binder
(purse-size)

(4) writing journal

(5) Tee-shirt

(6) Holiday ornament

(7) Flashlight Pen

Today's Question: How do you prefer to take pictures--camera or cell phone?

Leave your answer with your email to be entered in the December Giveaway Random Drawing.

By the way, I'm blogging today at Gems in the Attic, so drop by in the afternoon and leave a comment in answer to the question posted there too.

Takeaway Truth

When I have all the pictures taken, I'll write another post with all the prizes shown. Have a great Sunday!
VISIT JOAN & FOLLOW HER ONLINE

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December Giveaway Now Open

May I be the first to wish you a wonderful holiday season?

I'm busy decorating so I don't have photos yet of the prizes I'm giving away in December.

The December Giveaway is open from today, Dec. 1, through Dec. 24.

The rules appear at left.

You can leave a comment in answer to a question in each of my December posts on any of the blogs lifted at left.

The winner will be contacted by email no later than Dec. 28, and once confirmed, announced here on SlingWords, regardless of which blog the comment may have appeared.

Subscribe to SlingWords by email or Follow (see right sidebar for these options) or  subscribe to my mailing list so you won't miss any news.

Check the blog tomorrow for photos of the December Giveaway prizes. This time there will be several prizes.

Question of the Day: What kind of prizes do you like best when an author sponsors a Giveaway? 

Leave your answer to the question in Comments along with your email, and you'll be entered in the December Giveaway!

Now, I'll get back to decorating the yard because the weather is absolutely gorgeous today in my part of Texas. It's 70 degrees and the sun is shining. Now that's my idea of the perfect winter weather.

Takeaway Truth

Wishing you a wonderful weekend and a great December!
VISIT JOAN & FOLLOW HER ONLINE

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