Sunday, November 13, 2005
Joplin 'Small Town News' signing held
They say just before you die you see your life flash before your eyes.
The same thing happens with a book signing and it's far less traumatic. I had the good fortune of seeing dozens of friends from all phases of my life at the signing for "Small Town News" held Saturday at Hastings and completely sold out the 50 books I had ordered for the event.
Since the three books that had already been allocated to Hastings also sold, as well as one that a customer had ordered before it was stocked and asked Hastings to hold onto until the signing, and two more that I went out to the car and got after the initial allotment had sold...a total of 56 books were sold and autographed, and since many of those customers left with other Hastings merchandise, I would imagine the store managers are pretty well satisfied.
The manager told me it was the biggest signing Hastings had ever had. Of course, I really don't know how long she has been the manager, but it sounds good anyway.
I saw people ranging from my high school Spanish teacher Mr. Burney Johnson and high school classmates Paul Richardson, Jeff Yost, and Leslie Haase, to former Natural Disaster members Kristi Berner and Tammy Yost, Charlie Brown, who has been playing with the group recently, and fellow South Middle School teachers Linda Weaver, Jason Weaver, Joyce Wall, and Sheri Medlock, and many of my former colleagues at Diamond, whom I will not mention so as not to cause them any difficulties.
Several of my current and former students from South stopped by, either to say hi or buy a book, including some students who are so talented I hope one day to read books written by them, including Lindsey Hamm, Andrea Steere and Brittany Harmon, and some of the top Journalism Club members from this year and last year, including Ashley Kissee, Skye Smith, Melody Ketron and Chelsea Moore.
Another group consisted of people who read this blog on a regular basis or who were readers when I worked at various area newspapers, including The Carthage Press, the Lamar Democrat, and the Newton County News. One of the biggest pleasures of the day were seeing two people who helped me get my start in journalism. After my miserable eight months with the Newton County News in 1977 and early 1978, I was determined to get back into journalism and make a go of it. Lou Nell Clark gave me that opportunity. She was the editor of the Lamar Democrat and gave me a chance in May 1978. During my time at the Democrat, which was a daily newspaper then, Lou Nell probably did more than anyone else to help me become the journalist I became (hmm, that might not be considered to be much of a compliment). Lou Nell Bath, which is her name now, came over from Pittsburg and it was great to see her and have a chance to talk with her for a while.
Another visitor from those old Democrat days was Dorothy Parks, who served as the newspaper's institutional memory, knowing nearly everything about the area, as well as being a pro in grammar and spelling.
"Small Town News," was inspired by an eighth grade class discussion at Diamond Middle School, where I was teaching in those months, about the tragic death of the Diamond R-4 Superintendent Dr. Greg Smith. The students were not thrilled with the way the local media (both broadcast and print) handled the event. After that discussion, I began thinking about writing the novel and I wrote the first draft of it the following summer.
Students from that class who were at the signing included: Lydia O'Donnell, Shane Gallagher, Zach Towers, and the talented young lady who has helped me with publicity for both the Neosho and Joplin signings, Michelle Nickolaisen.
Carthage High School teacher Caroline Tubbs, who gave me some extremely helpful advice before I interviewed for, and landed, the Diamond teaching job, was there, as well as Sarah Simpson, who served as the Diamond Middle School Student Council president the year we began the book drive which helped put more than 3,000 volumes in the middle school's first-ever library. Alicia Bradley, the talented writer who won both the short story and essay contests I sponsored during my last year at Diamond, and whose blog entries are always entertaining and worthwhile, spent some time at Hastings. And I definitely should not forget Tom Shaw of Liberal, who is one of the few people who actually read the original Turner Report when I tried it back in 2000.
I apologize for not mentioning everyone who was there, (and all of you will receive more personal thank-yous from me) but rest assured, all of you contributed in making it a special day. Thank you.