By Darl DeVault
Edmond, Oklahoma’s most author-centered bookstore invited readers and sports fans to meet some of states most accomplished authors on April 2. The gathering of writers at Best of Books at Kickingbird Square helped celebrate the unofficial kickoff to Oklahoma Book Awards week.
The crowd was evenly split between the bookstore’s normal weekend customers Saturday and those coming to meet the seven authors. Bookstore owners Joe, Nan and Elena Hight hosted the group of writers, including new author and legendary OU running back Joe Washington.
Washington and former newsman Tom Lindley were featured during the “Afternoon with Oklahoma Authors” at the bookstore. The special event for the bestselling authors allowed customers to meet the authors and have their books signed.
“It’s exciting to have authors of this caliber coming to Edmond to share their time with their readers,” said Joe Hight, president of Best of Books. “We are proud to help highlight the week leading up to the Oklahoma Center for the Book event to be held Saturday in Oklahoma City.”
Hight returned to Oklahoma in 2014 to purchase the independent bookstore that has served the community more than 30 years. He finished his distinguished day-to-day journalism career serving as editor of The Gazette in Colorado Springs, where he helped journalist Dave Philipps win a Pulitzer Prize for report in 2014. Hight still writes a column, teaches a media ethics class and does industry consulting from Edmond.
Author Lindley, a former reporter and editor for The Oklahoman, was joined by Oklahoma banker, civic leader and philanthropist Gene Rainbolt, the subject of Lindley's nonfiction Oklahoma bestselling book, Out of the Dust: Gene Rainbolt, A Life for Oklahoma.
Washington, who went on to a 10-tear NFL career, was a key player on the Sooners' national championship teams in 1974 and 1975. He helped the Washington Redskins win the 1982 Super Bowl and played in another. Noted for playing in silver shoes, the OU legend is the author of bestselling book, The Seven Secrets of the Silver Shoes: Principles for Success On and Off the Field, a September 2015 release.
Also participating Saturday were authors Dale R. Lewis, Footprints in the Dew; Vickie K. Spencer, Sailor the Farm Dog series; Carolyn Macy Miracle on the Hudson, Oklahoma Night Before Christmas; Paige Renee Wedman, Once Upon a Whimsical Tale, Mabel in the Bath; J. Matthew Nance, Living Wisely; and Barbara McClanahan, The Train to Perry.
Lewis, the Original Buffalo Dale, was on a book tour promoting his version of the most famous unsolved murder in the Southwest 43 years ago. E.C. Mullendore III, the heir to the 300,000 acre Cross Bell Ranch Empire in Oklahoma was murdered at home. Shot also was ranch employee Damon ‘Chub’ Anderson. Mullendore carried one of the largest life insurance policies in the United States at the time. No one was ever charged in the murder. Befriending Chub Anderson later in life, Lewis adds many new perspectives on the mystery in his new book, Footprints in the Dew.
Saturday’s 2016 Oklahoma Book Awards are sponsored by the Oklahoma Center for the Book and the Friends of the Oklahoma Center for the Book. The program receives assistance from volunteers from Best of Books.
Books considered for those awards must have an Oklahoma-based theme, or entrants (authors, illustrators or designers) must live or have lived in Oklahoma and published between Jan. 1 and Dec. 31 of the preceding year. Finalists are notified in February, but winners are not announced until the presentations.
The Oklahoma Center for the Book website reflects that it is a state affiliate of the Center for the Book in the Library of Congress, and is organized to focus attention on the vital role of books and reading in our lives. The center “promotes the past, current, and future works of Oklahoma authors; promotes the literary heritage of the state; and encourages reading for pleasure by Oklahomans of all ages.” Advised by the Friends of the Oklahoma Center for the Book, the center has sponsored the Oklahoma Book Awards and literary activities at libraries and bookstores for more than 20 years.