As I noted in a post a few days ago, this month marks the 10th anniversary of the arrival of my first book, Small Town News, in Joplin.
The book is a fictionalized version of the events of October 31, 2001, when the Bank of Diamond was robbed and Diamond R-4 Superintendent Greg Smith disappeared. Dr. Smith's body was found in a pond outside the Diamond city limits 11 days later and eventually his death was ruled a suicide. (And the timing of the bank robbery was coincidental. He was not involved in any way.)
My students at Diamond Middle School were upset by the way the media handled the case, especially when questioning Dr. Smith's widow.
That discussion sparked the idea for the book, which examines the effect the media has on a small town after a major event. Small Town News is a mystery, but also a satire on the media.
Today and tomorrow, the Small Town News e-book will be available for 99 cents from Amazon.com. A link is provided below.
Also priced at 99 cents for the next two days, is my e-book, Best of Sports Talk, a collection of my best sports writing, primarily from the 1990s. As difficult as it may be for some to believe, there was a time when I was better known for my sports writing than for investigative reporting. This book contains 45 sports features ranging from profiles of athletes from Carthage, Joplin, Webb City, Lamar, East Newton, and elsewhere.
Among the stories in the book:
-A football coach meets an eight-year-old girl who is permanently in a wheelchair because of a drunk driver
-A cheerleader talks about her aunt, Nancy Cruzan, and the right-to-die case that went to the U. S. Supreme Court
-A mother watches her daughter play her final high school volleyball match
-The high school coach who murdered his wife and then committed suicide
-A football legend returns to his home town after 25 years to be honored
-The baseball great who fanned five Hall-of-Famers in a row
-The high school girl who received her first kiss in front of 1,500 fans
-A high school basketball player teaches Haitian children how to play the sport
-A town tries to cope with the suicide of a football player
-He played in one of the greatest Cotton Bowl games of all time, but this legend is stirred more by a high school rivalry
-Family and friends help a basketball player whose house burns to the ground
-On the day she was expected to lead her team to the state volleyball championship, funeral services are held for a star athlete
-After an ACLU threat bans a pre-game prayer over the public address system, a community gathers in the end zone to pray
-A football player overcomes a near-fatal accident to receive a college scholarship.
The books are available at the links below.