Saturday, June 22, 2013



I’ve always loved to write. The first thing I ever completed was a play in 6th grade. I don’t remember the title but I do recall some of the dialogue, “The plumbing’s out.”  “Oh really, where did it go?” Well like I mentioned, I was in the 6th grade.

Every Friday at Tulia Junior High School there was an assembly during last period. And everyone with one iota of talent had the opportunity to be on stage. There were all kinds of skits and singers and dancers. Occasionally the Jr. Hi band would play or the choir would sing.

I took tap dance from Mary Lou Evans the local dance teacher. She was a dandy and also very patient with little girls who wanted to grow up and be a June Taylor Dancer on the Jackie Gleason Show.
Taking tap with me was my friend Delores. Mrs. Evans taught us a routine and we performed once for the Friday Assembly. I still remember what we wore. White blouse, black skirt and red neck scarf.  Delores and I Shuffle Ball Changed across the junior high stage to Mrs. Young’s piano playing and young boy’s snickers. But the silly snickers didn’t bother us, after all, a future with June Taylor awaited.

Once in assembly my friend Janice sang “Let Me Go Lover” to another friend, Charlie. Occasionally there would be a magic show by an itinerant magician or some cowboy singers passing through town, but mostly it was local “talent.” 

When I wrote my play I gave it to my 6th grade teacher Mrs. Henderson. I just knew she would think it so great that she would choose a cast, with me in the lead, and have us perform it at a Friday assembly.  A couple of days later she handed it back without a word. So I asked her if she liked it. She said it was fine, turned and walked away; my first rejection.  

But it didn’t keep me from writing; my mom couldn’t keep me in notebook paper. I can still hear her “You mean you’re out of paper?   I just bought you some last week!”

I’ve written everything from poetry, to newspaper columns, to books. I am not a formally trained writer but more of a story teller. I love research and when I find some wonderful nugget of information I want to share it with anyone who will listen, or better, read. 

My first chance to write for profit came in 1975 not long after we moved to Canyon.  I took my “portfolio,” which included some articles in a church newsletter and a story I had done for the Tulia Herald, to Troy Martin, Publisher of The Canyon News. I still can’t believe he hired me on the spot. I sailed out of his office my feet hardly touching the ground.

H.M. Baggarly, publisher/editor of the Herald had surprisingly put my story on the front page his paper, the entire front page.  And it was the largest paper he published all year, the “Picnic” edition. I had written about the founders of Tulia, W.G. & Lucy Conner and hand delivered it to H.M. He would print accounts of history by local people for the “Picnic” paper and I had thought maybe this was my chance to get in print.
On Thursday of that week my mom called me and said excitedly, “You’ve got to come down here and see the paper! Your story is covering the entire front page!” I couldn’t believe it. Of course my husband and I jumped in the car and headed for Tulia. 

That paper was in the portfolio I took to Troy. Maybe he thought if the well known and greatly respected publisher of the Tulia Herald thought I was good enough for the front page, he’d give me a chance. I was on the payroll.

Troy not only gave me a desk, even if it was over in the corner, he also gave me a title, feature writer. Later he created a weekly consumer advocate column just for me and I was known as The Lady in the White Hat. He borrowed a large white hat from West Texas Western Wear, took my photo and I had another full page. It was a fun job and I learned a lot. 

At first I would take my articles to Troy for him to look over. One day he said “Lana, you’re the writer; I don’t need to see it, just take it to the typesetter.” He actually called me a writer, and that invigorated me to work harder. I loved Troy Martin; he trusted me and gave me a chance. Something Mrs. Henderson hadn’t done, too bad she wasn’t around to see my by-line.

Tuesday, June 18, 2013


I am absolutely thrilled but… at the same time a bit apprehensive; well maybe more than a bit, my book is at the printer. 

After two years, hundreds of miles, dozens of interviews, and over 70,000 typed words, "LONELY GRAVES, A Texas Murder Trilogy" will soon be in my hands.  That part is thrilling. The apprehension comes when it eventually gets to the hands of readers. Will they like it? Did I find all the errors? 

When I worked at the Canyon News I had a cartoon on my desk about typos. I don’t remember it exactly but it was about how typos hide from you. They are very tiny and hide behind other words & pictures & even other letters until the finished copy is in your hand and they grow to enormous size jump out and say BOO! Anyone who has ever had anything in print knows how true that cartoon is. It’s just a fact, you’re never going to catch everything, and I accept that. 

The thing that bothers me much more than typos is facts. We live in an era when many have tried to rewrite history, to change events to make them more acceptable, I don’t.  Whatever bad light shines on an individual or a happening, I want  to write the truth. I shudder to think I might write some falsehood, no matter how trivial, and at some future date it be taken as fact.  I try and verify every piece of information I write by more than one source. 

I am not a formally educated writer. I am more of a story teller with a small platform from which to proclaim. History intrigues me. I love to prowl through old records and newspapers and share with you what I found. The era I like best is the early 20th century, a time when freedom of speech was practiced at will; when no rules or laws, written and unwritten, prevented reporters from telling what really happened. Everything was reported. If you were ten years old and got caught vandalizing a property, your name was in the paper.  Statements from suspects were printed in the paper before a trial date was set.  I’m not saying it was the right thing to do, I’m saying it makes for fun research.

But back to the book. I truly hope you all will buy a copy and so hope you like it. There are many names and locations mentioned we are all familiar with. All three murders made national headlines. Events are sometimes unbelievable, but they happened. 

There will be book signings scheduled when I have a definite date of completion from the printer.
The book will be in a limited quantity and is available for sale now on this blog through PayPal.  So if you would like to order a copy now to assure you get a copy please do so. 

And thank you, my readers, for being such great supporters!