When writing the book, the music came first. I would keep the songs in a notebook and rearrange them from the liveliest to the sleepiest. Somewhere along the way I realized that I had paintings that illustrated most of the songs and time during the pandemic to paint the rest. When I was finished, the songs would become a picture book that children might enjoy also. Then I needed to get the songs and illustrations into a form that could be printed. I wanted to do it myself, but I knew it would
take me months to learn InDesign or Illustrator which are the formats that were recommended for book printing by my Graphic Designer cousin Stanford in St. Louis. My daughter Katie is an art teacher, and I know that she uses Google Slides to plan her lessons and display the art that they are studying. Google Slides are used by students in elementary school so that should make it easy enough even for me. It was very easy and was exactly what I needed, but it still took months to get the contents into book form. I then began looking for someone to move my book which was done in Google Slides to a format that could be printed. Again, I found that you must ask the right people, and they will help you find who you need. Chris Bussell, who is the Director at the EAST lab at Drew Central was my first thought. He gave me the name of a young Graphic Designer, Bethany Hoover, who worked at his church. When it was time to have it printed, I realized just how lucky I really was to be married to Terry Swilley! His sister is married to a man with years and years of printing experience who agreed to print my book and figured out a way to put the music CD inside the back cover. Just when I thought I had everything I needed and thought I was ready to go, it came to my attention that many people don’t have CD players in their homes anymore. They don’t have CD players in their cars either and wouldn’t have any way of playing the music. This led me to the need for a Web site where I could sell the book and have a place where those without CD players who bought the book could download the music for
streaming. Finding a web designer in southeast Arkansas was a daunting task. They are very rare. Then I thought again of the EAST program at the high school where my friend Chris Bussell was
the director. EAST stands for Education Accelerated by Service and Technology and the “service” in EAST was just what I needed. I was honored that my book was chosen as one of their service projects for the year. The lovely young woman, Gracie, who took on the project, researched how to build a website, interviewed me about the needed elements and put it all together in class over a few weeks’ time. She is fifteen years old. Her partner on the project, Jacob Bennett is seventeen. He had so many great ideas. Together they have designed a website that I can be very proud to own and a local team I can call if I run into problems. That’s priceless! I have always heard that for people like me who were born before computers were invented, we learn technology like it is a second language. Those who are born after computers, learn it like they learn their first language, it’s almost instinctive. I am
so pleased with the people I’ve met and the beautiful job they have done.
About six years ago, I was visiting with some friends at their cabin in the Ozarks when their granddaughter heard me play my guitar and sing and said that she would pay me to sing lullabies to her two-year-old so he would take his nap. I thought it was funny about the “pay” part but was resolved to put my sleepy little grandmother voice to good use by recording some lullabies for her. When it came right down to it though, I realized that I would rather write my own which is what I did. The two-year-old in this story is now seven, I believe, but hopefully will still need a good nap from time to time. It’s sure taken me long enough. The finished CD is pretty effective in making people sleepy. I’ve seen my husband almost run off the road several times while we were listening to the songs in the car, so I put a disclaimer on the back of the book warning people not to listen to the lullabies while driving or operating heavy machinery. I would hate to be responsible for the next big pile up on the Interstate. Listen responsibly! When I decided to write my own lullabies, I began looking for inspiration and what better inspiration is there than grandchildren. I would start my lullaby collection with the song “Little Man” which I wrote for my grandson Jackson about our walks on the beach and followed it with the songs “Kady Rose Waltz” and “Oh, My, My” for my granddaughters. Be sure to substitute your own little one’s name for Kady Rose if the song fits. “Oh, My, My” was written when my granddaughter Violet was only three weeks old and was spending her first time away from her mother. When she would cry, I would agonize over the reason. After checking the diaper and all the usual things, I would just give up and sing. I use the same song to sing to my newest granddaughter. If I put my cheek to her cheek and sing softly into her ear she will stop crying to listen. She is five months old now and loves music! The song “Lullaby Rain” was inspired by rain on a tin roof. The sound makes me sleepy so I thought there must be a song in there somewhere. The lyrics about the animals in the woods make it fun for children to imagine. “Worry Box” was researched during the pandemic. I had such a heart
for the children who couldn’t deal with all the bad news and anxiety they picked up from their parents and the TV. Psychologists said that it was good to lock away the negative thoughts for the night in a worry box that was guarded by a fierce mama bear. I added the part about writing it down and telling the dad because I believe some anxiety should be known by the parents, not just locked away. This song almost didn’t make the book because I thought it might be too negative, but the paintings of the Mama Bears guarding the box were so cute that I had to include it. Let me know what you think of this
method for dealing with anxiety. “Sweet Dreams’ is a pretty, little song with expressive use of alliteration, that was written by my husband for his daughters when they were small. He would sing it to them each night. I hope they have good memories of this song. It deserved to be in the book. “Fall” is a combination of the old Girl Scout camp song “Tuck” and original lyrics. I researched the copyright on “Tuck” or “Bed is too Small” and found it was probably first a Canadian Girl Scout camp song.
“Haven” is about the longing for a baby. It may be my favorite on the album. “Dark Chocolate Nights” is my story song that uses candy to depict both sweet and sour and sweet and bitter. Lemon drops depict sunshine and chocolate depicts night. “Night Birds” is inspired by the whippoorwill singing in the night. There is nothing more lonely or beautiful. The lyrics to “Mr. Moon” were written for me by my husband, Terry Swilley, soon after we married. He asked me to help with the music and when I asked what he had in mind he kiddingly gave me this yodeling kind of thing which I took and turned into one of my all-time favorite songs. This version had to be played on guitar because this is a book of guitar music, but the best version is Blue Grass with banjo. It’s cute as can be. “Roadtrippin’” is another song that was written after we married and was inspired by our favorite things, traveling the scenic roads, shopping for treasures at the flea markets, buying guitars at the pawn shops and sampling the food. My grandson Jackson said I must have been hungry when I wrote it! Maybe Dairy Queen will pick it up as part of a national ad campaign. I don’t know where I got the idea for “My Family” but it is an important song. It’s about blended families and the love that comes with being told that you belong. God accepts us into His family even though we are nothing like Him. He makes us His child and we are His family. There is such peace in that!