Whenever I told my colleagues, friends and family about some of the stories I’d covered, people I’d met and things I’d seen, they told me I should write a book. But while I was an active journalist, often working 12-hour days while covering crime and government, I just didn’t have the time. When I moved to writing features, I still was reluctant to work on any more writing once I got home.
I was still writing for the Tahlequah Daily Press when I began my research. I spent most mornings in the Special Collections section of the John Vaughn Library at Northeastern State University, looking through microfilms of what I’d written and enjoying the insight of Special Collections Librarian Delores Sumner. It took nearly two more years and input from my writing group to put it into book form.
Deadlines will come out soon, after all the refinements and corrections are complete. It chronicles my 35 years as a reporter on small- to medium-sized newspapers in Northeastern Oklahoma. I love working for smaller papers because you get to do everything. One day I was covering the first execution in Oklahoma in nearly a quarter century. Two days later I wrote about the cow chip throwing contest at the Muskogee State Fair.
Northeastern Oklahoma is a great place for a journalist, especially one who loves history. The unique combination of cultures — first the Native American, followed by Caucasian and African-American settlers, makes for an interesting group of subjects. My favorite beats were government and crime, but I also enjoyed writing features and visiting classrooms to see how creative teachers encouraged the growth of the next generation.
I plan to continue writing more about the things I’ve seen and covered. A lot of great stories remain to be told, even after the publication of Deadlines.