Lunching with Juanita

June 19, 2009 by

A surprise phone call this week resulted in a lunch date with Juanita Carr Rush, Paul Henry Carr’s youngest sister. If you’ve read my book, It Wasn’t Much: True Tales of Ten Oklahoma Heroes, you’ll know that Chapter 4 is devoted to Carr’s harrowing story aboard the Samuel B. Roberts,  a WWII destroyer escort, and his tragic, untimely death.

Chauffeured by her son Mike, Juanita was delighted that her brother’s story had been told in a way that appealed to children. She had lots of questions about how the book came to be published and about FortySixth Star Press in general. In turn, we had questions for her about what she remembered about Paul.

“For one thing, we always called him Brother,” she told us over a delicious meal of Thai food. Even now, Mike said, the surviving sisters refer to him in that way, rather than by his given name. Paul was the only boy in a family of 8 sisters, so he wasn’t likely to be confused with anybody else.

Juanita also had a gripping memory of the day the telegram was delivered. Her sisters and mother clung to each other in a group, while she sat on the couch, taking it all in. Later, she remembered her mother heading out to hang the wash on the line. Gut-wrenching sobs came from outdoors, and Juanita didn’t know what to do. There’s was nothing she could do, really. The loss of her only son was a devastating blow for Juanita’s mother.

Years later, Juanita was able to process the grief her mother felt by reading letters she had written to Paul when he was stationed on the Sammy B. It was a healing process for her, since she felt she’d never really grieved properly.

It was truly delightful to meet Juanita and hear about Paul from her firsthand accounts. She has also had an interesting life as the wife of a Navy man, with stints in both Iran and Italy. What a nice surprise it was to get that phone call and lunch with the sister of an Oklahoma hero!


OKC Screening and Panel Discussion with Sooner Cinema editor and contributors in the 46th Star Auditoruim at the Downtown Ronald J. Norick Library on August 30th!

May 31, 2009 by

August 30 / Sun / 2 – 5p Ronald J. Norick Downtown Library, 300 Park Avenue

Come see a classic “Sooner” movie in the 46th Star Auditorium followed by a panel discussion on the film and other movies about Oklahoma now included in Sooner Cinema Oklahoma Goes to the Movies. The book’s editor and several contributors will be present for a question and answer session after the movie, as well as to sign copies of the book available at a special event and library discount. Please call 231-8650 for more information.

Mingo Creek’s Menagerie (Big Foot, Coco, Alligator Gar, and Lion) at OKC Zoo’s Animal Authors’ Expo

May 30, 2009 by

Come and meet Greg Rodgers, the author of The Ghost of Mingo Creek, and his menagerie of animal-oriented Oklahoma legends, including Iyi Chito (Big Foot), the brave monkey CoCo, the wily lion escaped from the zoo (in OKC no less!), and that monstrous alligator gar! Greg will sign his book and show off his stories at the second annual ANIMAL AUTHORS EXPO at the Oklahoma City Zoo on July 25th from 8 am to noon. male-lion-face3-tn

Sooner Cinema Events Calendar

May 30, 2009 by

June 9th, 2009: Book Launch Party at 628 W. Sheridan, OKC, 5:30 pm

June 14th, 2009: Book Signing at Full Circle Bookstore, 1900 N.W. Expressway, OKC, 2:00 pm

June 20: Book Signing at Borders Books and Music, 3209 Northwest Expressway, OKC, 10:00 am

July 15: Circle Cinema 81st Birthday Bash, Sooner Cinema and a Movie, Contributors Larry Van Meter, Katrina Boyd, and Joshua Peck, 12 S. Lewis (1st and Lewis), Tulsa, 7:30 pm

July 17, 2009: Dinner and a Sooner Movie (afternoon as well as evening film screenings, books, and signings), The Canebrake, 33241 East 732nd Road, Wagoner, OK, 4:00, 7:00, 10:00 pm

August 30, 2009: Sooner Cinema at Ronald J. Norick Downtown Library, 300 Park Avenue, OKC, 2:00 pm

Sooner Cinema Launches on Historic Film Row!

May 30, 2009 by

Our third book launches June 9th at 5:30 in the old Theater Supply Building on Historic Film Row–a part of downtown OKC that is a rich part of cinema history! We’ll be “book-ending” (thank Julie Porter at the OK Film Commission for the term!) deadCenter Film Festival (June 10-14) with our “book-out” and a book signing at Full Circle Book Store (OKC) on Sunday, June 14th at 2:00! Our book launch will give a hungry public their first chance to see the book, meet the editors and a good number of its contributors, get a good dose of Oklahoma film history from book plus location, and taste some wonderful hors d’oeuvres catered by The Canebrake!
(For more about Historic Film District development see: Film Row District

Sooner Cinema: Oklahoma Goes to the Movies Gets Ready for Launch!

April 21, 2009 by

Our third book, Sooner Cinema: Oklahoma Goes to the Movies–edited by Larry Van Meter (with a Foreword by Gray Frederickson)–nears its June 15 release date!  The book is on the editor’s desk with proofreaders ready to roll out a fun and edgy read:  Sooners responding to the movies that define and sometimes defy the state they call their own.

April 21, 2009 by

2009-book-awards1 2009 Oklahoma Book      Awards, OKC

April 4, 2009

46-Star Press, Booth 46 at 2009 OLA Conference

April 21, 2009 by

We’ll be at booth 46 ! at this year’s Oklahoma Library Association Conference, Reed Center, Midwest City, April 21 and April 22.  Authors Jana Hausburg and Greg Rodgers will be signing their books for younger readers It Wasn’t Much and The Ghost of Mingo Creek.  Look for flyers announcing our up-coming book on Oklahoma films (and their viewers). It arrives just in time for Dead Center, June 15!

A day at Mustang High School, part 2

April 20, 2009 by
One of the most enjoyable things about my visit was answering questions from the students. Granted, I had to really pull the questions out of most of them, but I needed to fill a whole hour!
I got the kinds of questions you’d expect: how long did it take to write the book, how did I do the research, and what kind of process did I go through to write each chapter. Also, I got some questions I hadn’t really counted on, like if I enjoyed reading the Twilight series by Stephenie Meyer, did I like sports, or did I know there was a typo in one of the chapters?
The essays contained more questions.
What was it like meeting Felicia Daugherty’s daughter-in-law?
  • That was one of my favorite experiences. Betsy Daughtery was a gracious hostess full of enthusiasm about stories she ‘d heard from her husband about her mother-in-law. Felicia had actually died the year Betsy was born, so she’d never met her. However, she had some of Felicia’s belongings and was happy to show me some of the china plates that Felicia had worked on as a young woman. Betsy gave me a great as much information as she could about Felicia’s personality and let me borrow a couple of portraits that were made when she was a young bride.
 Why did you choose these people over other more famous people?
  •  Because I’m a librarian, I know there’s quite a bit of information out there about Oklahoma’s favorite sons, people like Will Rogers, Woody Guthrie, and Jim Thorpe. Along with my colleagues at FortySixth Star Press, I think there are plenty of Oklahomans who need to have their stories told: people who have achieved great things throughout history, on the battlefield, in the courtroom, in everyday life. The people in my book were ordinary people who found a certain strength within to make sacrifices.  They risked their reputations and sometimes their lives to help others and to achieve a greater common good. I think they set a great example for young Oklahomans.
 Are you an historian? Do you have a passion for history.
  •  I am not a trained historian, but my colleague Larry Johnson is. He has collected many stories and has plans to publish materials by and about Oklahoma over the coming years. I love reading about history, especially in the areas of science, the western frontier, literature, and adventurers/explorers. I really love reading personal memoirs as well.
 What was one of the things you learned from writing the book?
  • First-hand experience with the publishing process was a real eye-opener. It’s expensive, time-consuming, and exhausting. But doing a quality book, and being nominated for an Oklahoma Book Award, made it all worthwhile. 
What inspired you to pursue writing? How old were you when you started writing?
  • I really think I was born with a love of writing. When I was little, I used to entertain myself by writing stories. I played out endless dramas with my Barbie dolls. I used to terrify my cousins by telling them ghost stories. I had a special talent for writing that many of my teachers recognized and encouraged. I have a memory of being complimented in the 4th grade by a teacher who liked my essay about a visit we all took to a museum.  So while I may not ever write the Great American Novel, it doesn’t stop me from doing something I really, really enjoy.
What is the hardest part about writing?
  • Trying to fit it in due to my busy schedule of working a fulltime job and being the busy mother of two very active boys. Also, writing the first paragraph of a chapter is very hard. Sometimes I have major writer’s block because I want to start the chapter off with a really good sentence and that can be so intimidating.
How did you know what career you would choose?
  • Because the library was my favorite place as a little girl, it seemed like an obvious choice for me. I knew I didn’t want to teach, because both my parents were teachers and I could see how difficult it was for them, always grading papers and worrying about how and when they were going to get the proper supplies for their classrooms. Books were my childhood friends. I could always count on them to take me away into a wonderful world of imagination and entertaining characters. My second choice was journalism, but because of my empathetic nature, it didn’t really suit my character. The benefits of being a librarian is the training we receive in how to locate information, which is perfect when you are writing a book of nonfiction!
What would your book be like if you aimed it at an older audience?
  • I think it would be fascinating to take the chapter I wrote on Felicia Daugherty and expand it into a history of the Spanish Flu pandemic in Oklahoma. So many interesting things to tell!

Do you like talking about your book?

  • I enjoy meeting people and talking about the writing process. I’m not exactly comfortable doing it, but the more I push myself, but better I become. It’s the best way to promote the book and by making connections with people, I hope they will feel my excitement about the subjects and want to read about their lives.

Why is your writing so big when you’re so small? Did you know that I also consider you a hero?

  • This is quite possibly the nicest thing anyone’s ever said to me!

A day at Mustang High School, part 1

April 16, 2009 by

On March 10th I had the opportunity to talk to students at Mustang High School about my book and my journey. It’s the first time I’ve talked to teenagers, and I was a little nervous.


My oldest used to listen to a band called My Chemical Romance, and loved a song called “Teenagers.” With those lyrics ringing in my head, I agreed to speak to all of Mrs. Chavez’s classes. It was a long and challenging day, and my voice started to give out during 3rd Period. But I persevered. It was really worth it, because I pushed myself beyond my comfort zone and the kids were great.


Before my visit, Mrs. Chavez picked three chapters for the students to read: Stanley Rother, Felicia Daugherty and Rufino Rodrigues. After my visit, they were asked to write an essay.


Some examples from their writings:


I learned that there are a lot more heroes that enrich Oklahoma’s history than the ones everyone knows about. I also learned that sometimes small acts of kindness can make a really big person.


I feel inspired to stand up for myself.


I learned through this activity that there are plenty of heroes we can look up to, outside of athletes, celebrities or our families …


From the author’s presentation, I learned that I may change my mind about what I want to do in life but nothing is impossible.


…always stand up for what you believe in and be who you are. I also learned that I should do something that I love and money isn’t everything.


People need to know about people other than celebrities that come from Oklahoma.


…full of interesting facts.


…never underestimate yourself or anyone else.


…sometimes even the littlest acts go a long way.


Heroes are made, not born.


What really surprised me were their impressions of me. But I’ll have to share those in another posting.