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The July 2021 Edition …

Harpeth River Writers members debut books this month; Killer Nashville returns Aug. 19

By TOM WOOD / JULY 23, 2021

This month, between my newspaper writing assignments, I’m pleased to announce that two of my Harpeth River Writers colleagues launch their new books. HRW, with eight active members, is a critique group that shares and edits each other’s works, so I have had a look at both and heartily recommend them.

John Neely Davis is one of the veterans of our group while Diane Harsha is the newest member. Both share a love for the written word are talented wordsmiths. I think you will enjoy both of their books. You will find information on both below, but before I do that, I would like to remind that the Killer Nashville 15th annual Writers’ Conference returns Aug. 19-22 at the Franklin Embassy Suites. This year’s Guests of Honor are Lisa Black, Nashville’s own J.T. Ellison and Walter Mosley. Walter is the recipient of the John Seigenthaler Legends Award.

While Killer Nashville is a conference primarily for mystery, thriller and suspense writers, publishers and agents, the public is invited to visit the KN Book Store to meet and get books signed by their favorite authors. Find out more here.

And now, let me introduce you to these new works by John and Diane:

Rule of the High Plains

Frank Rule, a short, bald, and bespectacled cowboy in the 1860s, has suffered grievous hardships and losses while building a reputation for solving mysteries and avenging wrongs. In this novel, Frank is trying to regain control of his life … but life won’t let him. To learn more about John’s book, click here:

‘Rule of the High Plains’ is “superb storytelling,” says author Vonn McKee, a WWA Spur Award finalist.

‘Sticks and Stones: How to Hike the Appalachian Trail in Thirteen Years’

This is Diane’s first book, a memoir that recounts her journey of hiking the Appalachian Trail over a span of 13 years. She is a Tennessee wife, mother, and FBI agent “who walks 2200 miles from Georgia to Maine when she can spare the time away from the demands of her career and the responsibilities to her family.” It’s hard for me to call Diane “Sticks” but I’ll get used to it, I reckon. To learn more about her book, click here:

In ‘Sticks and Stones,’ “you’ll find much to laugh over,” says author Gerald D. Swick.

Recent sports stories in the Ledger

My June 25 Nashville Ledger story explains how the sports world — and our viewing habits — changed in the 15-plus months since COVID-19 struck full-force and the great pandemic pause of 2020 began.

The lockdown immediately darkened arenas and stadiums across the country. Sometimes, months passed before major events were rescheduled or reformatted — even longer before limited attendance was finally allowed. When live sports did return to zero or reduced capacity, it was assumed by some that we would hunker down in front of the television to appease our insatiable hunger for sports and reverse the declining television ratings trends.

Reasons varied from the “archaic” ratings system to equipment problems to other viewer options like streaming, which is growing leaps and bounds, to even politics. But Vanderbilt professor John Koch says numbers don’t back the assertion.

“I’ve seen surveys where like one-third of people say that they have watched less sports because of social justice issues or what I would call activist athletes — Lebron James, Colin Kaepernick, as you named. But, you know, we have a long history of activists athletes,” Koch says, pointing to boxing legend Muhammed Ali and 1968 Olympians Tommie Smith and John Carlos. “So I don’t know necessarily that it’s ever affected things like ratings.”

Streaming, other options affect the reliability of ‘archaic’ TV ratings.

–Ledger covers designed by Mike Hopey

Nashville Superspeedway’s inaugural Ally 400 NASCAR Sup Series race was the nation’s second most-watched sports event for the Labor Day weekend, surpassed only by the NBA playoffs.

The first Cup race in the Nashville market in 37 years was televised on NBCSN, and it drew a 1.46 household rating or about 2.6 million viewers. In Nashville, it earned a 4.1 rating, which translates to 45,194 households. Read more about TV ratings and attendance here.

The next two were written in March and April about the Aug. 8 debut of the Big Machine Music City Grand Prix. Tickets are still available.

April: Knoxvillians boost Grand Prix

Officially, it is known as the Big Machine IndyCar Music City Grand Prix, but Nashville’s Aug. 8 inaugural street race is truly a statewide event.

Among those who helped turn a dream into reality are a high-powered group of owner investors stretching from Knoxville businessmen Teddy Phillips, Darby Campbell and Kevin Clayton to two-time Grammy Award winner Justin Timberlake of Memphis. Read more in the April 9 edition of the Ledger here.

Organizers expect more than 100,000 fans from not only across the nation but from around the world, which will mean filled hotels, restaurants and downtown bars. And the action should be spectacular as the downtown course travels from Nissan Stadium over the Korean Veterans Memorial Bridge through city streets.

“We love living here in East Tennessee but love visiting Nashville,” says Kevin Clayton.

–Ledger covers designed by Mike Hopey

Phillips says it is exciting “to be able to have an event like this and be a part of this,” and also credits Nashville city leaders as well as their event partners, the Tennessee Titans. The 2.17-mile race will begin at Nissan Stadium, roar across the Cumberland River via a 600-yard straightaway over the Korean War Veterans Memorial Bridge into downtown Nashville and back. “Thanks to the city of Nashville and thanks to the Tennessee Titans, we’ve been able to put this thing together,” Phillips adds.

Campbell also is looking forward to the race for many years to come. “It will be a very big event. It will attract people from all over the world. It will bring eyes to Nashville — but it will also, you know, Nashville enhances it,” he says.

March: IndyCar Zooms Into Nashville

As Nashville continues to rebound from the COVID-19 global pandemic, expect at least a $20 million shot in the arm from the inaugural IndyCar NTT Music City Grand Prix on Aug. 8. Read more in the March 19 edition in the Nashville Ledger.

Organizers expect more than 100,000 fans from not only across the nation but from around the world, which will mean filled hotels, restaurants and downtown bars. And the action should be spectacular as the downtown course travels from Nissan Stadium over the Korean Veterans Memorial Bridge through city streets.

“Nashville is a city primed for events,” driver Josef Newgarden says.

–Ledger covers designed by Mike Hopey

Newgarden, a two-time IndyCar champion (2017, 2019) who has 18 career victories, will be a homegrown favorite to win in Nashville. He grew up in Hendersonville before moving to Indianapolis to pursue his racing dreams. After living in Charlotte for awhile, he and his wife moved back to Nashville a couple of years ago.

Also included is a look at NASCAR bringing a Cup Series race back to the Midstate for the first time in 37 years when Nashville Superspeedway hosts the Ally 400 June 20 in Gladeville, about 18 miles south of Lebanon. 

As always, thanks for reading.

Tom Wood

65 thoughts on “The July 2021 Edition …

  1. I met you at the Southern Festival of Books this past weekend by chance. Looking for a book I chose Vendetta Stone and you graciously signed it for me. I cannot put this book down… it’s such a delight to stumble upon a new author and their words just flow from first sentence.

    • Hi Rhonda, thanks so much for the kind words. Let me know your thoughts after you finish Vendetta Stone. I look forward to your comments, and hope you’ll share with your friends and do a review on Amazon. And if I may, let me recommend our water-themed anthology WORDS ON WATER by the Harpeth River Writers for a future read. It launched Oct. 1 and is available online.

  2. Tom, I’m note sure I ever met David, but I know him through his work. Now I admire him as I read what you have written about your love for him – it is quite a testimony. I envy the friendship you have with him. God bless your memories of him…

    • Thanks, Skip. Mike and others were closer to David than I was, but yeah, family. I treasure him and everyone else from those newspaper days.

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