Tuesday, September 05, 2017

New Turner Book, Sports Talk Memories, available in paperback, e-book editions

Recently, I published a collection of my sports writing, Sports Talk Memories, which up to this point has only been available as an e-book under the title Best of Sports Talk.

Sports Talk Memories is a collection of features about some of the people I wrote about when I did the Sports Talk column in the 1980s and 1990s. Those columns provided a window into the people who played and coached the games, as well as the games themselves.

Over a 14-year period, I wrote more than 1,000 Sports Talk columns.

Some of the most interesting are revisited in the book, including the following:

1. Football Coaches Don't Cry- Seneca Coach Alvin Elbert meets his eight-year-old pen-pal Abby Phipps of Lamar, the wheelchair-bound victim of a drunk driver.

2. A Bases-Loaded Walk- My tribute to the late Gary Shepherd, tells a story from my youth when the coach of my Little League team, Brad Letts, decided to walk the best player on the other team, his brother, Steve Letts, with the bases loaded. (Gary was the coach of Steve's team.)

3. She Will Always Be With Us- Webb City cheerleader Miranda Yocum (Joplin City Council member Miranda Lewis) talks about the death of her aunt, Nancy Cruzan, whose right-to-die case went all the way to the U. S. Supreme Court.

4. Stacey and the Magic Free Throw- The story of how a non-existent free throw enabled the Mt. Vernon girls team to beat Carthage in double overtime, despite the best efforts of Stacey Brunnert.

5. Gary Embry's Memory Lives On- Rita Embry talks about her son, former Lamar High School and Missouri Southern great Gary Embry, who was killed in a car accident.

6. Under Mom's Watch- Peggy Lucas watches as her daughter, Carthage senior Tysha Lucas, plays her final high school volleyball match.

7. The Days of Swine and Roses- The day Jasper County Youth Fair princess (and pig-catching expert), Christy Olson got the munchies and lost a friend.

8. Just Five Minutes- The real-life horror story of former Lamar coach Armando DeLaRosa, who committed suicide moments after murdering his wife.

9. The Love of Baseball- My interviews with the former KOM minor league players at a reunion in Carthage as they played in an oldtimers game 50 years later.

10. Past His Bedtime- Today, he's head basketball coach at Parkview High School in Springfield, but in this story Landon Cornish was six years old and had no use for girls whatsoever.

11. Remembering Harry Caray- My thoughts after the death of the broadcasting legend

12. This Is My Class, Too- Jamie Turner, a Carthage High School graduate, returns to watch her former classmates at Sarcoxie High School graduate.

13. Smiles at the End of their Rainbows- The first graders whom he volunteered to help every day were the ones hit the hardest when Lamar swimmer Brandon Teel died suddenly from spinal meningitis.

14. Girls in the Big Gym- I wrote a column that put an end forever to having Carthage High School girls basketball games in the much smaller physical education building instead of the big gym.

15. Cruel Words- When she was in junior high, adults said Webb City volleyball and basketball player Kari Perry would never amount to anything. She tells the story of how she fought back with the help of her coach Sarah Wall.

16. Return of a Legend- Twenty-five years after leading Jasper to two straight undefeated football seasons, Bill McClintock returns to be inducted into the Hall of Fame.

17. The Game Ball- Lamar's Jim Hillman presents the game ball to his grandfather, Tom O'Sullivan, at the dedication of the stadium named after O'Sullivan.

18. Carthage's King Carl- The story of New York Giants great Carl Hubbell and how he struck out five future Hall-of-Famers in a row at the 1934 All-Star Game. (Hubbell was born near Carthage.)

19. First Kiss- When she was crowned Lamar High School Basketball Homecoming Queen, senior Leigh Hughes received her first kiss in front of 1,500 people. That was the hook Leigh's sister, Lindsay, used to get students to vote for Leigh. But there was another secret that no one knew at the time.

20. She Said Yes- The follow-up, two years later, to the previous story, as Leigh Hughes' boyfriend offers a surprise wedding proposal, and once again it was in front of 1,500 people.

21. Tiger Pride- Polite to referees, but downright mean while playing defense, Carthage junior Brandi Richardson receives the Tiger Pride award at the basketball banquet.

22. The Final 16 Seconds- The high school football career of Jasper senior Stacy Maggard comes to an end.

23. Waffling- Pairing the serves of Carthage junior varsity volleyball player Stephanie Greenwood with breakfast food.

24. Love and Haiti- While her Lamar teammates were playing in a brand new gym at the Aurora Tournament, Kelly Stahl was teaching Haitian children how to play on a dirt court.

25. Beating the Odds- A Liberal barber survives brain surgery and holds off death for a few days to accept a special award for years of supporting the school's athletic teams.

26. Taking the Wrong Path- Carthage junior varsity basketball player Alicia Peters was great with the steals, but did not always take the ball in the right direction.

27. My Little Brother's Face- Lockwood High School reacts to the suicide of a freshman football player.

28. As Time Ran Out- Webb City guard Jennifer Lawrence takes one last shot at a district basketball championship.

29. Smelling the Silver- He played in one of the highest-scoring Cotton Bowl games in history, but more than four decades later, it is still the Silver Tiger game between Lamar and Nevada that ranks first in Pete Ihm's memory.

30. My Comeback- A first person account of my return to baseball, playing in the Granby Old Mining Town Days Oldtimers Game.

31. Family and Friends- When his house burned down, Lamar guard Michael Miller learned what was important.

32. A Shining Star- On the day when everyone thought she would be headed to the state volleyball championship, funeral services were held for Diamond senior Kelli Dorsey.

33. A New Home- After spending all of her life in the small town of Henderson, Nebraska, Andrea Friesen moves to the big city (Carthage) for her senior year.

34. The Power of Prayer- After an ACLU protest, the pre-game prayer over the loudspeaker at Lamar football games was stopped, but more than 100 people gathered in the end zone to pray.

35. Second Chance- He nearly died when a trash dumpster fell on him, but only a few years later, Carthage wide receiver Shaine Sundy received a scholarship to play football at MSSC.

Links to the paperback and e-book versions of Sports Talk Memories are featured below:


Thursday, May 18, 2017

Slide show features memories from EMS production of "Beauty and the Beast"

The following slide show, provided courtesy of Jet HD, features some memories from last month's East Middle School production of Beauty and the Beast.


Tuesday, April 29, 2014

99-cent Randy Turner e-book sale ends at 10 a.m. today

The 99-cent sale on five of my e-books ends this morning at 10 a.m.

The five include my novels No Child Left Alive, The Devil's on Facebook, and Small Town News and non-fiction books Let Teachers Teach and The Best of Sports Talk.

No Child Left Alive is the story of one year in a dysfunctional high school as teachers battle out-of-control students and clueless, self-absorbed administrators (Where do I come up with these ideas?). It is the book that C. J. Huff testified has nothing to say whatsoever about education and frequent Joplin Globe columnist Anson Burlingame says is pornography. After you read it, you will begin to wonder if C. J. Huff knows anything about education and if Anson Burlingame knows anything about pornography.

The Devil's on Facebook is an updated version of my 2006 novel Devil's Messenger and is a combination horror story/murder mystery. A teenage girl communicates with her murdered father on Facebook. Devil's Messenger, you may remember, is another book that Joplin R-8 Administration cited in its eventually successful effort to fire me. This vile book (according to them) was also pornographic and I allowed students to read it. That is true. Of course, it was never mentioned that the book had been on the shelves at East/South and Joplin High School for seven years.

Small Town News was my first novel, originally published in 2005, and is a fictionalized version of the events of October 31, 2001, when the bank of Diamond was robbed and Diamond R-4 Superintendent Greg Smith on the same day. The book is a satire on what happens when a small town is besieged by the media as newspaper and television reporters battle to get the story.

Let Teachers Teach is a collection of my best writing on education, including some original essays, plus ones that have been published elsewhere. Topics featured include standardized tests, the war against public education and public schoolteachers, my experiences teaching after the Joplin Tornado, remembrances of colleagues and former students, and the challenges that face classroom teachers.

The Best of Sports Talk is a collection of my best sports writing, mostly from the 1990s, including features on current Joplin City Councilwoman Miranda Lewis, about her aunt Nancy Cruzan of the Supreme Court right-to-die case, former Lamar Coach Armando DeLaRosa, who murdered his wife and then killed himself, current Carthage teacher Peggy Lucas as she watched her daughter Tysha, also a teacher now, play her final high school volleyball match, and the girl who received her first kiss at a basketball game, plus the way a swimmer who died of meningitis affected a class of first graders and much, much more.


Thursday, March 27, 2014

Signing for Scars from the Tornado set for Saturday at Vintage Stock on the Mall

After a delay of more than a year, the first signing for Scars from the Tornado: One Year at Joplin East Middle School is scheduled for 12 noon to 4 p.m. Saturday at Vintage Stock on the Mall.

The book details my experiences and East Middle School students' experiences during the May 22, 2011, Joplin Tornado, and during the first year attending a warehouse school.

Some of those students will be at the signing Saturday.

Following is a breakdown of what is included in Scars from the Tornado:

Foreword- This features a story that a former East student, Joplin High School sophomore Rylee Hartwell, wrote about the school shortly after the tornado.

A Teacher's Story- Over several chapters, I write about the last day at East before the tornado hit, the tornado and my first trip back to the school, the meeting at Missouri Southern where Principal Bud Sexson outlined what the warehouse school was going to be like, our return to school, the first day and much more.

Tornado Stories- This section features the students recounting their tornado stories. Some were right in the middle of it. Others feared for their friends. It affected all of them. Students with stories in this section include Jennifer Nguyen, Nick Shellenbarger, Abi Killinger, Alexandra Stelts, Donna Tomlinson, Maggie Baker, Cami Sanders, Kaley Moser, Amber Fleming, Desirae Orlaski, Taylor Robinson, Keisha Grunden, Courtney Hunt, Victoria Stehm, Garrett Severs,  and Ryan Ball.

The School Year- This section features stories from the students about our year in the warehouse, with some commenting about the school. Those contributing stories include Sarah Peterson, Megan Hickey, Amy Koch, Jennifer Nguyen, Annie Strickling, Stella Ndauwa, and Melinda Adams. Megan, Amy, and Jennifer contributed multiple stories in this section.

Parting Shots- This section includes a longer story that I wrote about the people from around the world who let us know that we were not alone in our battle. My story centers around our 86-year-old penpal from Santa Barbara who has come to mean a lot to my students both last year and this year. The section also has shorter comments from Cara Marshall, Jimmie Willerton, Audrey Kanan, Taelor Stone, Logan Whitehead, Amelia Street, and Madison Meinhardt.

Tornado Poems- Among those contributing to this section are students Mykah Campbell, Michaela West, Sean Harrison, Ashton McGehee, Karly Weber, Jacy Welch, Mackenzie Gunderson, Bridget Ingham, Jerry Bland, Joseph Fry, Beth Dulinsky, and teacher Kathy Weaver.

The book also includes a photo section.


Copies of 5:41: Stories from the Joplin Tornado, Spirit of Hope: The Year After the Joplin Tornado, and No Child Left Alive will also be available.