Monday, June 19, 2017

Small Town News available as free e-book download

My first book, Small Town News, originally published in 2005, is available now through Thursday as a free e-book download.

Small Town News was inspired by events that took place Oct. 31, 2001, in Diamond when the bank was robbed and the school superintendent, Dr. Greg Smith, disappeared on the same day. At first, media reports seemed to link the two events, though later it turned out there was no connection at all. Dr. Smith's body was found the following week, in his car at the bottom of a pond just outside the Diamond city limits. Newton County Coroner Mark Bridges eventually ruled that Dr. Smith committed suicide.

At the time, I was teaching current issues, a writing-intensive class, at Diamond Middle School. In one of my classes, we discussed the situation and I was surprised by the vehemence of the opinions students had about the behavior of the media during the whole situation. They were particularly disturbed by the way Dr. Smith's widow was treated and the scope of the questions with which she was bombarded. Almost 100 percent of the students thought the media should leave the woman alone.

The student comments got me thinking about writing the book, which is a fictionalized version of those events. The focus is on the media, as seen through the eyes of a student, a high school junior named Tiffany Everett who has a one-week internship with one of the three local television stations.
Within the 196 pages of the book, the way the media handles news in a small town is scrutinized though the actions of the high school junior, her teacher, the television reporter to whom she is assigned, and the editor of the town's newspaper.

Three of my other books, Scars from the Tornado, Let Teachers Teach, and Best of Sports Talk, are also available as free e-book downloads through Thursday, while Spirit of Hope: The Year After the Joplin Tornado, a book I wrote with Carthage Press Managing Editor John Hacker, is available as a free e-book download through Tuesday.

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