20 February 2023

Never Too Old

My birthday is February 28th, the end of our shortest month. I was born way back in the 1900s. I don't intend to tell you the exact year but it was after the Great Depression. What I will tell you is after having published over thirty-five short stories, three novels, co-editing two anthologies and co-editing two non-fiction books. After nominations for several mystery awards and winning a couple, I now have a new publishing credit. I've co-authored a song. 

My good friend, john Arthur martinez, singer/ songwriter/ guitar player/ musician/ producer and I wrote and published a song titled "The Phone Call." 
It's now out on his fifteenth CD, titled Three White Spanish Horses, yes 15th. This on the heels of number 14, For The Love of Western Swing which was awarded Western Swing Song of the Year in 2020, by The Academy of Western Artists. He also performs the song and if I'm in attendance at his gig,  gives me recognition as his co- writer. Which is nice.
I first became aware of john Arthur (and yes, he usually doesn't capitalize his first or last name) in 2003 when he was a contestant on Nashville Star, an American Idol-styled country artist television show, set in, you guessed correctly, Nashville TN. My husband, Elmer and I visited our daughter and family in Nashville and Karla asked if we had watched this television show. I said, "no." So happened it was playing and she turned on the TV while telling us about this young man from the Texas Hill Country. Actually, he'd said he was from Marble Falls. We were living in our RV and camphosting at a State Park twenty miles away. After we got back home, we continued watching the show and voted each week for john. He came in 2nd on the show, beating out 3rd place, who was a 19-year old Texas girl named Miranda Lambert. You may have heard of her because she is the one who became and still is really FAMOUS.

Flash forward to 2007, I was newly-widowed, had gone thru a mastectomy, 4 months of chemo, to insure against re-occurance, which worked because I am still cancer free after 17 years. I was still in my RV but was 10 miles closer to Marble Falls. A mystery writer friend, Russ Hall who  Elmer & I knew from our bookstore days,  knew of my Elmer's passing, knew of my cancer & chemo. He also knew I had recently fallen smashing my right humerus, which needed surgery, and that I was looking for ways to keep busy. 
Russ had encouraged me for a couple of months to go a local restaurant, he often attended, which featured local singer/songwriters. One, john Arthur, from the aforementioned television show, was gigging on Thursday nights, and the other Mike Blakely, also a western/historicalnovelist, sang on Tuesday nights. I had met Mike  several years before when he and I were on a writer's panel one night at Austin Community College.  We both had been invited, along three other writers of different genres to talk to a creative writing class. Plus when Elmer and I owned Mysteries & More bookstore in Austin, we had carried some of Mike's books.

I began attending both music nights at River City Grille and over time became fairly good friends with both Mike and john Arthur.  They each had previously been offered a record contract in Nashville but each had decided on their own to go the outlaw way of previous Texas outlaw singers, like Merle, Waylon and Willie. That meant some leaner times but they are free to write, sing and record their own work at their own pace. They were friends who wrote songs together and harmonized on each other's CDs. 

In 2011, I moved into a house in Cottonwood Shores and realized JAM lived five streets over and almost directly behind my house. I banked where one of  john's sisters is Vice-President, and where his mom also works. His wife, Yvonna, is my hair stylist. She  is one of my BFFs and the Martinezs are my Hill Country family.

For several years, JAM & I have talked about writing songs together, but it seemed as though the time was never right. He gigs in Central Texas locations, several afternoons or evenings each week, sometimes traveling to Fort Worth, Waco, or Austin. He also sings in New England, Florida, Montana, California or Arizona each year. Once a year he toured France, Germany, Austria & Switzerland until Covid shut down travel. European tours in 2020, 2021 & 2022 were cancelled. During that time, he upgraded his home studio becoming a producer for several central Texas artists. It also gave him more time for writing songs so we got serious about writing together. 

One song idea I had was about a person you loved who could sense your mood or thoughts. Sort of like a mindmeld.  JAM's creative brain sent him to remember a long ago friend who kept him on the phone one long night when he needed reassurance about his music. We chatted or texted & he wrote the music, then we had to rearrange or change some words to fit the rhythm or to make the words rhyme. 

"The Phone Call" is that song and just out on john's latest CD, titled Three White Spanish Horses  available now on his website; johnArthurmartinez.net.  Or you can buy the song for 99 cents here.


  1. Congratulations on the new production in a new genre. I hope the song will do very well.

    1. Thanks, Janice. It's been a fun thing to do. Just going thru the process and now hearing the final product has been priceless.

  2. Took me forever to download it, but got it, Jan! Thanks.

    1. Sorry you had trouble with the download, Leigh. Ain't technology great? I've been trying all day to correct a typo I made when I posted about m Iy article in Fb. Which by the way I'm listed as Janice Barrow Grape. My full legal name. After FB kicked Jan Grape for reasons I never could discover & not trusting than Jan B Grape would work I went the full moniker. I thought I'd change back in a month or so but time when by and I was trying to reach out to friends & it just got to be too much trouble. Back to the typo some folks tried to click on the typo & of course that didn't work. did post a comment to use the highlighted correct link. Which most folks did I think.


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