I just returned from a quick trip back to Oklahoma to attend the annual Oklahoma Book Awards ceremony, which was held on March 11 in Oklahoma City. As you know, Dear Reader, The Old Buzzard Had It Coming was named one of the finalists for the Fiction Award this year.
The banquet was a glittery affair that was held in the Petroleum Club, high on the 35th floor of the Chase Building, overlooking Oklahoma City. The view was spectacular – rather like being in an airplane. It felt like one could see all the way to Texas (or maybe Arkansas or Kansas. My sense of direction isn’t that good). My brother Chris and sister-in-law Donna drove down from Tulsa to attend the ceremony with Don and me, which made me happy. The affair began with cocktails and signings. All the finalists were seated at long tables at one end of the hall, and all the Oklahoma socialites, supporters of the arts, and literati milled around rubbing elbows with the authors and sipping wine. I was seated next to fellow finalists David Kent and the beautiful Marie Bostwick. I already knew finalist Will Thomas (last year’s winner). As the evening went on, I did get to speak to the fifth finalist Curt Munson, but nominee number six, Elmore Leonard, did not attend. All of these people were so fascinating that I ended up buying all their nominated books. I can never help myself in the presence of an interesting book. I’m going to go broke if I don’t restrain myself. I am getting quite a collection of signed first editions, however.
The awards were presented at the end of the banquet, and the fiction winner was – not me. That honor went to my table neighbor and very nice guy David Kent, for his thriller The Blackjack Conspiracy. I’ve been reading his book since I got home, and it is award-winning. Sadly, I didn’t get to use my witty-yet-humble acceptance speech. Maybe next year. I wore a smokin’ outfit, though, and at least I felt pretty.
However … while I was in OKC, I learned that Buzzard did make the final Oklahoma Centennial Literary Six-Pack for Oklahoma Reads Oklahoma. OK Reads OK is a reading and discussion program to mark Oklahoma’s centennial in 2007. The book selection process began in 2003 and programs are held each year from 2004 through 2007. A subcommitee of the OK Centennial Commision choses six books by Oklahomans or about Oklahoma each year to be included in the “six-pack”. Book discussion groups meet throughout the year across OK to read and discuss the six books that are nominated. Then Oklahomans vote from Sept. through Oct. for one book from the list of six. The winner is announced at the end of the year, and all kinds of reading and discussion programs and activities for the winner take place the following year. Voting takes place online at www.okreadsok.org. This is a very good thing for my book, since whether I win or not, lots of people are going to be reading and discussing it. I am happy.
The complete list of books in the 2006 Six-Pack are: Non-fiction – Cherokee Medicine Man by Robert J. Conley; Ramblin’ Man: The Life and Times of Woody Guthrie, by Ed Cray; Prairie City: The Story of an American Community, by Angie Debo; and Fiction – Fire in Beulah, by Rilla Askew; The Old Buzzard Had it Coming, by Yours Truly; Dance of the Thunder Dogs, by Kirk Mitchell. All six of these books are wonderful and deserving of accolaides. Even so, vote for me.
I’ll end this rather lengthy entry by noting that we did pass through some pretty scary prairie fires in the Texas panhandle on the way home. We could see the smoke for miles. About 60 miles outside of Amarillo, just before we got to Groom, TX, traffic on I-40 came to a dead halt, and we sat there in a gigantic line of cars for about 30 minutes. Then the highway patrol detoured us off the interstate onto a state road that took us about 20 miles south to Clarendon, TX, and from there we turned back northeast into Amarillo. The air was full of smoke, and the wind was unbelievable. We were lucky, though. The fires became much worse as the day went on, but once we were west of Amarillo, we were out of it.