Michael Wallis' Tulsa Town Hall speech available as e-book
BY JAMES D. WATTS JR. World Scene Writer
Sunday, May 06, 2012
5/06/12 at 2:54 AM
Michael Wallis thought the speech he made in January as the guest of Tulsa Town Hall "went over pretty well."
Then the emails started arriving.
"It really took me by surprise," the Tulsa author of "Route 66: The Mother Road" and "David Crockett: The Lion of the West" said. "We were besieged with requests from people wanting a copy of the speech."
Wallis' talk focused on what he called Oklahoma's sense of place - "a sense of belonging and being that is an essential part of life," and something that is tied directly to an understanding and appreciation of history.
Wallis traced that idea from the time when the Creek Indians, at the end of their forced relocation to what is now Oklahoma, rekindled their council fire on the banks of the Arkansas River and proclaimed that "this is now our home," to a chance meeting Wallis had with a homeless man living on the banks that same river, some 150 years later.
"It got to the point that I mentioned it to my literary agent, Jim Fitzgerald," Wallis said. "And he said, 'Why don't we publish it?' "
Fitzgerald had recently partnered with another Tulsa native, Connor Raus, in creating a company called Digitature, which would specialize in e-books. The venture's first offering, "Baseball's Starry Night: Reliving Major League Baseball's 2011 Wild Card Night of Shock and Awe," by Paul Kocak, about the events of Sept. 28, 2011, came out in March.
Wallis' book, "Oklahoma: A Sense of Place," will be available in several e-book formats, including Kindle and iPad, as well as a paperback edition for those who prefer something tangible to hold and read.
Wallis includes himself in that latter category.
"Personally, I still believe in the world of bound books," he said. "I cannot imagine a world without the tactile sensation of a book in my hand, of going into my library and seeing the spines of all these printed friends of mine.
"But at the same time, I think we can still have both the tangible book and the electronic book," he said. "And to be honest, it's kind of exciting for an old curmudgeon like myself to get involved in the publishing of the future."
One event that got Wallis thinking about e-books was a recent royalty statement about his most recent book, "David Crockett: The Lion of the West."
"What both my agent and I noticed was that, while the hardback sales have been healthy, the e-book sales were even greater," he said. "And some of my previous books are selling more in e-book formats these days."
"Oklahoma: A Sense of Place" is currently available through Amazon for $4.99. According to Raus of Digitature, printed copies will not be available until Tuesday, when Wallis will appear at the official launch party at Tulsa's Dwelling Spaces.
However, if some of the comments people have shared with Wallis are any indication, "Oklahoma: A Sense of Place" may very well be found in places all over the state.
"It's a small book - about 8,000 words," Wallis said. "When I gave a version of the speech to a crowd in Ardmore, I had people come up to me afterwards saying they thought it should be distributed to all Oklahoma schools, even put in hotel rooms.
"And that's kind of an interesting idea," Wallis said, chuckling. "In every hotel room, you'd have the Gideon Bible and the 'book of Wallis.' "
Author to speak
Michael Wallis will be at Dwelling Spaces, 119 S. Detroit Ave., from 5:30 to 7:30 p.m. Tuesday for the official debut of "Oklahoma: A Sense of Place."
Original Print Headline: 'Oklahoma' speech goes electric
James D. Watts Jr. 918-581-8478
Michael Wallis, shown speaking to students at the Tulsa Performing Arts Center, has turned his Tulsa Town Hall speech into his latest book, "Oklahoma: A Sense of Place." CORY YOUNG/Tulsa World file