March Madness! Don’t you just love it?
Being a retired sports writer and copy editor at The Tennessean, I always associate that trademarked phrase with college and high school basketball tournaments.
Even if your team loses – as Belmont’s men did in the recent Ohio Valley Conference Tournament final at Municipal Auditorium – it’s still an exciting time of year.
I loved covering the OVC Tournament. If a local team won the conference tournament championship, I followed them to the NCAA Tournament to cover all the drama that goes with that event. Chronicling the exploits of Austin Peay, Middle Tennessee and Tennessee State was a blast and in many ways helped prepare me for this second phase of my writing career as a published author.
To stay on sports for a moment, most of you know Nashville has become primary home to the Southeastern Conference basketball tournament. The deal between the city and the SEC was announced last October at a press conference at Bridgestone Arena. The unprecedented, long-term agreement calls for the city to host nine men’s and three women’s championships between 2015-2026.
Next month, the NCAA Women’s Final Four will be held here. How exciting is that? I have written a tournament preview on the economic impact it will have on Nashville. Look for it in the March 21 edition of the Nashville Ledger.
And it was recently announced that the award that goes to the women’s National Coach of the Year will be called the Pat Summitt Trophy, the legendary former University of Tennessee coach who stepped down after the 2011-12 season after announcing she had been diagnosed with early-onset Alzheimer’s Disease.
It’s a fitting tribute to an inspirational coach and person.
Speaking of tributes: I want to salute the small band of Tennesseans who died 178 years ago on this date (March 6). They were among some 200 defenders at The Alamo in San Antonio, Texas. Led by David Crockett, the famed frontiersman and Congressman from Tennessee, they gallantly laid down their lives in defense of that small garrison. The siege only lasted about 90 minutes, according to most books I’ve read.
I have been fascinated by this battle ever since I was a child, watching Fess Parker portray Davy on Walt Disney’s Wonderful World of Color. Fess, John Wayne and Billy Bob Thornton are the most notable actors to have played the role, but did you know Johnny Cash was Crockett in a 1988 movie? Frankie Laine and Marty Robbins also had a couple of cool songs about the epic battle. If you’d like more information about The Alamo, check out thealamo.org.
I recently had my first Western short story published, Death Takes A Holiday, which is now available in an ebook format on Amazon, Smashwords, Kindle, Nook, ITunes and various formats. It will soon be published as part of a paranormal Western anthology by Troy Smith’s Western Trail Blazer series. I will let you know details as to when it is available in the book format.
Hopefully, this will be just the first of many Westerns I write. I’ll never be as prolific as the great Louis L’Amour, but I’ve got several stories to flesh out. And I am working on both the sequel to and the screenplay of Vendetta Stone, my debut novel. So it’s going to be a busy year, between new writing projects and promoting the current book.
Troy’s book will be the third anthology in which my work has been published. The first was 1989’s Feast of Fear: Conversations With Stephen King. Then I 2012, my short story “I Was Warned” was published in the Civil War anthology Filtered Through Time.
TV time: Hope ‘Nashville’ will be renewed for a third season. We should find out sometime in April. I’ve been an extra on several episodes this year, the most recent being at taped at Hermitage Golf Club. Eric Close (Mayor Teddy Conrad) was the main man. Later the same day, Eric presented the Nashy Award to Mayor Karl Dean at the Belcourt Theater. At a post-party, I was able to talk to both mayors about Vendetta Stone.
Hitting the road: The reach of Vendetta Stone will be expanding greatly over the next few months. On March 7, I was in Woodstock, Ga., appearing at FoxTale Book Shoppe from 6:30-8:30 p.m., an event that spotlights “emerging authors”.
Joining me were nine other authors covering all genres: James Huber, Lindi Peterson, Donald Brewer, Debra Chesson, Priscilla Whitaker, Bella Roccaforte, Sherri Maner, Michael Karpovage and Ciara Knight.
I will be in Greensboro, NC, for a family event the weekend of March 22. I’ve heard there is a great new bookstore in the city called Scuppernong Books. I also plan to check out Barnhill’s Books in Winston-Salem. I talked to store owners last week about carrying my book and they seem receptive. I plan to visit both stores and see where that goes. I was born in North Carolina, have family scattered throughout the Carolinas and want to re-establish roots in that part of the country.
April will be very busy for signings in the Nashville area.
On April 3, I will be at Carpe Cafe in Smyrna for a reading, then the next night I will be participating with the Authors Circle in the Franklin Art Crawl. Then it’s back to Atlanta for a high school reunion on April 5. Hard to believe it’s been 41 years since I graduated from Briarwood High School and headed off to college at Middle Tennessee State University. I’m looking forward to seeing a lot of BHS buddies.
On April 12, I’m making a return to Hastings Book Store in Murfreesboro, then I will be speaking to the Donelson Library Book Club on April 17, followed by an April 19 signing at Shimai Pottery and Gifts, one of the shops at the Loveless Cafe.
On April 25-26, I will be at the Southern Kentucky Book Festival in Bowling Green, Ky., then will high-tail it back to Franklin, Tenn., on the 27th for the final day of the Main Street Festival.
And if I don’t see you in one of those settings, you can also order a copy online at Amazon or download on Kindle. Or email me and I will send you a signed copy.
Reminder: On February 17, I spent a wonderful half-hour this morning on the set of ‘A Word on Words With John Seigenthaler,’ discussing Vendetta Stone with my former editor and publisher at The Tennessean. It will probably air in early July. I’ll keep you posted.
I have to thank John and all my friends at the newspaper who have been supportive of this project since I retired.
Anyway, that’s about all I’ve got for this issue.
Thanks for reading,