NEWS & EVENTS
Pre release orders for my new book, Short stories, rants, ruminations and recipes. 200 page book contains short stories about growing up in Poteau, OK in the 1950s, 60s and 70s, two previously unpublished short fiction stories, four of my favorite family recipes and other rants and ruminations written between 2010 and 2018. Pre release copies may be ordered through March 5th at $10 per copy including shipping. Retail price on Amazon will be $12.95 plus shipping when released on March 15th. Thanks for your support of indie publishing.
Who is your favorite radio DJ? Do you even listen to music played by stations with DJ’s? Before my parents married in 1952, dad gave mom a brand new Philco, cabinet-style radio with a built-in record player which was more a piece of furniture than entertainment center. Both AM and FM were on the dial but there were no FM stations on the air at the time. The Philco was only operated by my parents until I was around age ten. I still remember the first time I was allowed to turn it on by myself, watching the tubes glow in the back until they warmed up enough for sound to come from the speaker in front under the doors.
Growing up in Poteau, OK in the late 1950s and early 60s, radio was still a treat even though television was the dominant telecom appliance in our house. TV brought glimpses of rock and roll during the years before the British invasion. KLCO, the local AM radio station played mostly country and western music. The owner, R.B. Bell, allowed his teenage children to play an hour or two of rock and roll after school on weekdays beginning in the mid-60s. We were able to pick up stations from Fort Smith which played a more up to date selection of music, but rock and roll was still hard to come by, at least during the daytime. The setting sun opened up a new world of AM radio stations. I don’t claim to understand all the science of how AM radio signals bounce or reflect from the ionosphere and travel hundreds of miles after dark. KLCO was granted a special permit by the FCC to begin broadcasting two hours before sunrise and two hours after sundown. Most low power AM stations, 1,000 watts, were required to sign off at sunset because more powerful 50,000 watt stations sharing the same or nearby frequency were allowed to continue broadcasting 24/7 without overlap interference.
The beauty of clearing the airwaves of low power stations allowed rock and roll starved preteens like me to tune in stations like WNOE from New Orleans, WOAI in San Antonio, and 89 WLS out of Chicago. The signal crackled and faded in and out, but hearing the most current rock music was like receiving messages from another planet. During summer church camp in the mountains of southeastern Oklahoma near Talihina, all of us good Baptist kids brought transistor radios to tune in rock and roll at night. WNOE came in better than other stations down there. By the time I was fourteen, in 1968, I listened to coverage of the 1968 Democrat convention in Chicago at night on the twice an hour news broadcasts on WLS. Television networks provided daily video of the riotous event, but the local news from Chicago made it even more real. I call 1968, “the year I didn’t have a birthday,” because Bobby Kennedy died three days before my birthday and rock and roll was bringing the sound of protest, against the war in Vietnam. Poteau was a “my country right or wrong” kind of town, but kids my age and older were well aware of the growing divide between us and the generations of our parents and grandparents as expressed through the music we were listening to, especially at night. When I got a driver’s license in 1970, kids were “cruising main” at night On the Radio by Joe Harwell with the sound of WLS emitting from our car radios. Sitting at a stoplight, making a spin around the Mr. Swiss drive-in restaurant or later the Sonic, most of us were grooving to WLS. When I want to feel like a teenager again, I tune in WLS FM on the internet. They still play much of the same music and believe it or not, a couple of DJ’s from back in the day are still there, including the great Dick Binodi. Through the magic of Facebook, I recently met a woman named Pamela Enzweiler-Pulice who is making a film about Biondi and I can’t wait to see it.
I recently visited with my friend, Steve Clem, Operations Director at KWGS, Public Radio Tulsa. Steve and I share history of having transistor radios as teenagers, but he grew up in Sand Springs listening to Tulsa top 40 station KAKC where he called in requests and entered contests. After receiving his education at Oklahoma State, Steve’s first job in radio was in Ponca City. By 1989, recognizing the need to be in bigger markets he made moves to Sacramento and later Albuquerque where he was hired to turn around a poorly performing station.
Starting by analyzing the music needs of the audience, Steve made changes to the format built around a popular, local female DJ. Listenership and ratings grew. Another company bought the station bringing an infusion of money, further raising the popularity of the station. Steve described this turnaround as making his career which was the springboard into consulting for stations in Seattle, Oklahoma City, and Salt Lake City. During a visit to see his mom during the recession of 2008, Steve learned of an opening at KWGS and made a successful transition to working for the NPR affiliate. He has also written the definitive book of the history of KAKC.
Perkins, OK native Donna Willcox worked at Wal-Mart where she answered the phone and
made announcements over the PA system. Friends and coworkers considered her voice loud and able to project and encouraged her to consider a career as a radio DJ. After six years in retail, Donna moved to Tulsa and entered broadcasting school in 1997. Her first job was at Z104.5, The Edge in Tulsa. Donna said, “It was fun being on air and doing remotes,” and admitted to being a little star struck by the DJ’s she listened to as a consumer of radio and was now working with on a daily basis.
Donna got into radio at a time when it was about to undergo big changes. Many of the skills she learned in broadcasting school were being updated or replaced by automation. Donna said, “Radio stations were deemphasizing the impact of DJ’s, taking the personality out of radio causing it to lose some of its luster which attracted me to the industry.” Technology advances now make it possible for Donna to be the Monday - Friday DJ on an FM station in San Antonio from a studio in Tulsa.
Going back to my southeastern Oklahoma roots, I visited with my longtime friend, Leroy Billy, who owns KPRV FM and AM in Poteau, which was originally established as KLCO. My dad owned a lumber yard in Poteau in the 1950s and 60s and ran commercials on KLCO. One of my earliest memories of interacting with a radio personality was Leroy doing a remote broadcast at the lumber yard one Saturday morning. People heard the broadcast and came to register for drawings. I was allowed to pull names out for the drawings and announce them on the radio. Another southeastern Oklahoma friend literally grew up at KCLO. Misty Dawn Lydick Bates is the granddaughter of R.B. Bell who taught her how to operate the equipment and took her to Dallas when she was thirteen to take the test in order to obtain a broadcasting license. Mysty was kind enough to provide a photo of a classic microphone from the station.
My friend, W.B. (Bill) Ward of Tulsa owns one of the coolest radio technology items from the 1970s and 80s. If you listened Kasey Kasem American Top 40, you probably gave no thought to how it was broadcast on your local station. Bill has the only known copy of Casey’s final episode which was shipped to radio stations every week in the form of a four-disk album. The cardboard cover contained the four discs and the format scripts, hour clocks and promo sheets. This is a real relic compared to the digital technology used today.
Bill, an accomplished musician, worked in radio and TV stations coast to coast including, but not limited to, 97.5 KMOD, 101.5 the Beat, 92.1 KISS FM, KOOL 106.1, KAKC AM 1300, AM 1430 the Buzz, KMUS, KRLQ, KBIX; KGNX-TV, KRRG-FM, KRKCFM, KNIC, and KVOO. His television credits include KGNS-TV, KOKI Fox 23, KLDO-TV, KOTV, KTUL, KJRH, ABC’s That’s Incredible, Westwood One’s PM Magazine.
In addition to his many other talents, Bill currently produces Ward’s Daily Almanac, a syndicated radio program heard on radio stations across the country, as well as in more than 120 countries around the world via the Armed Forces Radio Network. He also published a companion book series and records audio books.
Title: MILE OF CARS MURDERS
Written by: Joe Harwell
Genre: A historical fiction novel
Logline: “A lot of people didn’t make it home after the Oklahoma City bombing, but not all of them went missing because of it.”
The 1995 Murrah Building bombing and the Moore, OK tornado are historical markers for even greater tragedy in the Britton family of Perkins, OK. Follow this intense, four year investigation into the disappearance of six people from central Oklahoma which comes to a shocking conclusion as an F5 tornado sweeps through Bridge Creek and Moore on May 3, 1999.
Going back home again is never easy; is the tagline of Joe Harwell's latest novel, Izzy Cavanal, which is set in his hometown of Poteau, OK. The longer tagline could be; It's not easy to go back home again when you're an international drug smuggler, turned D.E.A informant with a five million dollar cartel bounty on your head.
Izzy Cavanal is Harwell's eighth novel published since 2009. He has also published two memoirs, plus a tutorial on the writing and publishing process.
Here is a little synopsis of his latest book
In 1969, artistically talented Poteau high school senior Rory Jacobs has a low draft number. His longtime friend Elizabeth, nicknamed Izzy, vehemently opposes the Vietnam war and wants both of them to leave for Canada after graduation so he can avoid the draft. Rory is poor, while Izzy's family is well off, and he knows taking her to Canada will destroy any chance she'll have to reconcile with her parents in the future.
Leaving town before graduation without saying goodbye, Rory joins the Army and excels in killing the enemy, advancing to a Special Forces Unit. Recruited by the C.I.A., he becomes a player in the covert transportation and distribution of drugs in Southeast Asia. When Saigon falls in 1975, he flees to Colombia and rises to a position of power within the Cali drug cartel.
Fast forward to the 1990's, Rory becomes a D.E.A. informat when cartel rivalries threaten his life, retaining millions in drug money profits in overseas accounts. Assigned a new identity by the Justice Department, he lives quietly in Santa Fe, NM until the cartel finds him.
Badly injured in the hit and needing reconstructive surgery, Rory accepts another cover identity, but persuades the Justice Department to let him go home to Poteau with his new face to hide in plain sight. After purchasing a house and a sign shop, he is approached by Izzy, who doesn't recognize him, to allow her artistically gifted sixteen year old daughter Sasha work for him as an apprentice. Sasha is a carbon copy of Izzy, with the same rebellious attitude as her mother when she a teenager.
Rory soon discovers southeastern Oklahoma is a center of drug activity with cartel connections and knows it's only a matter of time until they coerce, bribe, torture and kill enough people to find him again, placing Izzy and Sasha in danger.
"Izzy was the most challenging and rewarding story I've created," Harwell said. "The storyline didn't lend itself to being written liner, so it begins near the end at a point of high tension and readers are introduced to the history of the characters as the action unfolds without boring and confusing flashbacks."
All of Harwell's novels and memoirs take place in Oklahoma and Arkansas. One is a futuristic thriller set in 2052. The others are historical fiction set in the 1950's to the 1990's.
"I write the geography and people I know, incorporating landmarks and the names of business and sometimes people, always with their permission," he said. "Business, organizations and individuals in Poteau were very gracious about being part of the story." They include, The Poteau Daily News, Poteau Rotary Club, Chamber of Commerce, his longtime friend Mattie Odom, owner of the now closed Red Wagon Steak House, and Loretta Adams with Adams Abstract. "The other characters are fictional and many reflect real people I grew up with in Poteau," he said.
Beginning last fall, he spent four months writing extensive character descriptions, plot scenarios and sample chapters totaling 20,000 words. The novel itself is just over 50,000 words.
"The characters are some of the best I've ever written," Harwell said. "The plot combines regional, national and international events of the 1960's through the next three decades with twists and turns to engage readers. As with all my books, I outline an ending, but the way my stories end is always better, and often surprises me. I give credit to the muse taking over and making it happen."
Earlier this year Harwell released a tutorial on the writing and publishing process based on what he's learned in the industry since 2009. He said, "I don't use a formula per se, but there is method to the process. I'm also a student of movies and use similar story arcs."
In addition to writing and publishing his own work, Harwell advises other writers and business on content creation, editing, marketing and sales. He has published a number of articles on his Wordpress blog and Linkedin.
If you are an Oklahoman who loves to read about Oklahoma, you should know about “Mile of Cars Murders,” the new novel by Tulsa-based author Joe Harwell that is the sequel to his 2012 work, “Payne County Weekly.”
A self-published writer, Harwell began penning novels in 2009 through the grief of his wife’s death the previous year. All six of his books are set in Oklahoma and Arkansas.
Harwell’s background in such diverse areas as retail management, coal mining, telecommunications, TV, newspaper and metals buying enables him to write and publish books on dissimilar subjects — vampires, futuristic fiction, the media and the mining industry.
Set in the 1990s, “Payne County Weekly” depicts the story of a Stillwater newspaper editor struggling with whether to blow the cover on a story that would expose crooked law enforcement agents in the county. “Mile of Cars” continues the storyline.
In his sequel, Harwell says he wanted to create a story that involved the 1995 Oklahoma City bombing of the Murrah Federal Building.
“It took awhile to create a story line around the bombing that didn’t directly center on it, but once I had it, the story really rolled out of me,” he says.
The other inspiration for the “Mile of Cars” storyline came in September 2012, as Harwell participated in three Stillwater book signings for “Payne County Weekly,” which he says was well received.
“After the last signing, I went to Eskimo Joe’s, accompanied by my son, now 33, and one of our friends,” the author says. “OSU had a home game that day and Joe’s was packed. After a few hours, and enough beers that we stayed over in Stillwater that night, I turned to my son and said, ‘Since we’re having this much fun in Stillwater, I have to come up with a book set in Norman.’ A selfish motive, but it’s the truth.”
“Mile of Cars” begins by introducing the four sons of a couple that goes missing the day of the Oklahoma City bombing. The reader’s assumption is that the parents have been killed in the bombing, but in fact, a more sinister plot awaits; four other individuals turn up missing that day, as well, though none of their bodies are found among the bombing debris.
The plot most closely follows the life of the oldest boy, Joe Paul Jr., who attempts to move beyond his parents’ absence. However, he finds himself following a job as a storm chaser back to his hometown of Norman.
In an interesting parallel to the increasing tension of the missing people plot, there is a simultaneous increase in the storms and tornados occurring.
Harwell brings the story to a dramatic conclusion.
Readers who enjoy historical fiction, fiction based on local Oklahoma events and areas, and anyone who loves a great “who-done-it?” murder mystery will appreciate “Mile of Cars Murders” (and “Payne County Weekly,”
POTEAU–Car dealers in Norman, a Stillwater newspaper, storm chasers from OU, a bar outside Chickasha and an automotive chop shop in Harrah are locations featured in Mile of Cars Murders, a new novel from former Poteau resident Joe Harwell, that follows a four-year investigation into the disappearance of eight people in central Oklahoma.
The Murrah Building bombing and the 1999 Moore tornado are the historical markers for even greater tragedy in the Britton family. Mother and father, Pat and J.P. (Joe Paul, Sr.) leave home early on April 19, 1995, relying on their capable teenage sons, Joe Paul, Jr. and Dale to take care of the ranch outside Perkins, and their siblings, nine-year old Thomas and 11-year old Henry.
After some rocky times, both personally and financially, Pat and J.P. are taking a much needed day together without the kids to do some shopping in Oklahoma City, with plans to return home by 8 p.m. As news of the Murrah Building bombing breaks, Joe Paul, Jr. isn’t too worried about his parents, since their plans didn’t include being in downtown Oklahoma City. When Thomas falls and breaks his arm after school, Dale calls an ambulance, but can’t reach his parents, who don’t carry a pager or cell phone.
Eight comes and goes and Pat and J.P. aren’t home. When days turn into weeks, months, then years without a trace of them, the Britton boys and other families in central Oklahoma discover an awful truth. A lot of people didn’t make it home after the Oklahoma City bombing, but not all of them went missing because of it.
With no solid leads for two years, the authorities finally get a break in 1997, jump starting the investigation at a roller coaster pace, which comes to a startling conclusion as the deadly F5 tornado rips through Bridge Creek and Moore in 1999.
Mile of Cars Murders is based on characters from Harwell’s 2012 novel, Payne County Weekly. Other novels set in Oklahoma and Arkansas written by Joe Harwell include, The Indian Rock Vampire, Upside Down Heart, One Drug and Dragline, which are available on Amazon and the website, www.indianrockvampire.com
TULSA–One of the most interesting and rewarding jobs former Poteau resident Joe Harwell had before becoming an author was running the coal analysis lab at Sugarloaf Mining company near Midland, Ark. in the 1970s. Dragline, his fifth novel in as many years draws on those experiences plus an unusual plot twist with action taking place throughout Sebastian County in Arkansas.
In the story, MacKenzie Coal Company operates a strip mine east of Hartford. Early on Monday, April 30, 1973, father and son Marlon and Jake MacKenzie depart Fort Smith in Jake’s restored B-25 bomber telling family and friends they’re on a two-week trip to Colombia advising the government and coal industry officials there about mining techniques on behalf of the state department.
What they’re really investigating is an anomaly similar to something found at their mine 10 years earlier. Unknown to Marlon and Jake, the greatest challenge to their mission isn’t in Colombia; it’s the growing destabilization of the Nixon administration over the Watergate scandal during this pivotal week in American politics.
Jake’s 28-year-old daughter, Sissy MacKenzie, is in charge of the mine at Hartford while her father and grandfather are away. The beautiful redhead operates a bulldozer and the mammoth dragline with great skill. A few days after their departure, Sissy receives a call from the state department with news that her father and grandfather are missing. Unaware of her own connection to what they’re investigating, Sissy finds clues Marlon left for her about the true nature of their mission and discovers the U.S. Army, National Security Agency, CIA and the White House are all involved and coming for her.
Dragline is Harwell’s fourth historical fiction novel since 2009, all set in Oklahoma and Arkansas. His futuristic thriller, One Drug, also takes place in and around Fort Smith.
“Developing dynamic characters in an intriguing, fast paced story has been a great project for the past two and a half years.” said Harwell. “Sissy MacKenzie is a tough, hard working, hard loving, independent woman who can go toe to toe with any of the men who work at the coal mine and she’s also a belly dancer. I’m looking forward to see what readers think of the story.”
Dragline is available on Amazon in print and eBook. Tulsa belly dancer Rebecca Hibbs is the cover model.
In the glow of the sensational blockbuster movie, Twilight, (see movie clip) a sweet, enigmatic tale romanticizing the notion of love between vampire and mortal, based on Stephenie Meyer’s book series, it’s evident a strong market for mythology exists.
So much so that Twilight cast members are scheduled to start filming the third book, Eclipse on Aug. 17, wrapping up just in time for Halloween.
Tapping into this mass media blitz and growing vampire frenzy is Oklahoma author Joe Harwell, who is out to beat the odds with his first novel, entitled, The Indian Rock Vampire.
His greatest challenge, he says, is finding a successful way to market the book.
"A lot of people write and publish books," said Harwell, a Broken Arrow resident. "But very few books sell more than a few hundred copies through traditional book publishing and distribution channels."
Harwell’s novel is based on a sinister interpretation of the symbols on the Heavener Runestone located in Leflore county near Poteau Oklahoma where he grew up.
"I’ve always been interested in vampire stories, especially female vampires. In 2005, I had an idea to combine the runestone symbols with a vampire story set in Howe Oklahoma in the 1950’s. People in the 1800’s called it Indian Rock although Indians had no alphabet,” Harwell said. “In the 1920’s, the symbols were identified as Norse runes and the rock was later renamed the Heavener Runestone."
The area, that Harwell writes about, was developed into a 50 acre state park in 1970 with nature trails, a playground, and gift shop. He started writing the novel in January 2009 and it will be published the week of July 13th by Plain Brown Wrapper Publishing which was started by Harwell.
"After spending four months writing this book I began talking to publishing companies. What I discovered is most of the books published and made available through Amazon.com and Barnes and Noble on-line actually sell very few copies. One independent publisher told me that he started his own company after his last book that was published through these traditional methods had used copies available on Amazon.com just two days after it was released,” Harwell said.
“It’s a trick used by book distributors to discount prices and gain orders. The bottom line is the author realizes a profit of only 20 to 30 percent of the selling price."
In May, 2009 Harwell began taking a proactive approach to marketing his first novel. Joe said, "I’m lucky to have relatives and friends who are authors and editors and others who are very avid readers of the vampire genre. I sent copies of the manuscript to ten people who would read it and give me an honest review. I was gratified when all of them said the book was very good.”
He continued, “One relative who is both an author and an editor but not what I would call a fan of vampire books called me about three days after receiving the manuscript. She was less than half way through the 85,700 word manuscript and said she had to put down her editor’s pen and just finish reading the story because it was one of the best she had ever read. You can’t believe how that felt–I actually cried.”
The reality of book publishing is that very few books, especially those by first time authors ever make enough money to offset the cost of production and promotion.
"It’s a very competitive field, and knowing those facts, I made a decision that there was nothing a publishing company could do for me that I couldn’t do for myself," Harwell said. "I’ve been in sales for more than 25 years. I’ve owned a newspaper and a television channel and I’m going to use all of my experience to push this book out into the marketplace. Some of my motivation is profit driven because I believe the author should receive the majority of the financial reward from the sale of their material.”
The main reason, however, he says is due to love of craft.
“I love this story and believe in it so much and I think people who read it will also enjoy it and tell their family and friends. If I meet the sales goal I’ve set by the end of 2009, I’ll let one of the major publishing companies pick it up and run with it. Honestly, I hope to make Howe Oklahoma as famous with The Indian Rock Vampire and Forks Washington has become from the Twilight series.”
He says he has already started on the next installment of The Indian Rock Vampire which will move the characters into the 1960’s.
The story is built around three generations of powerful women in southeastern Oklahoma. Although it’s very much a vampire story The Indian Rock Vampire is quite a different take on the traditional vampire tale.