Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Texas Comptroller Susan Combs Writes to Pam Walker

"As the growing part of the agricultural industry provides an additional economic driver for the state, I am glad so many Texans are taking advantage of this emerging market."─Susan Combs, Texas Comptroller of Public Accounts

Our authors are often pleased to receive feedback from readers. Recently Pam Walker, author of Growing Good Things to Eat in Texas: Profiles of Organic Farmers and Ranchers across the State opened her mail the other day to find a message waiting from Texas Comptroller of Public Accounts Susan Combs!

In her letter, Combs, who is also a certified organic beef producer on her Marfa ranch, congratulated Walker on her advocacy on behalf of the local- and family-owned segment of Texas agriculture.

Boggy Creek Farm, located just outside Austin, is one of the locally- and family-owned farms Walker profiles in her book.

An excerpt:
"The determination of our state's farmers and ranchers and their efforts to diversify to meet consumer demand continues to keep Texas ranked as a leading agriculture economy. The types of operations you highlight in your book are a bright example of our proud agricultural heritage continuing toward a successful future. Federal legislation and policy is taking note of this expanding segment of the industry and additional programs are being developed to support farmers markets, specialty crop production and value-added producer operations, among other intitiatives."

Combs went on, urging Walker to share her book and information with the Texas members of the U.S. House Committee on Agriculture, as well as U.S. senators representing Texas.

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Award: Sarah Byrn Rickman wins Combs Gates Award

Early in World War II, Nancy Harkness Love recruited and led the first group of twenty-eight women to fly military aircraft for the U.S. Army. Her pilots ferried military aircraft across the United States during a time when pilots were in short supply.

Sarah Byrn Rickman, whose book Nancy Love and the Wasp Ferry Pilots of World War II (University of North Texas Press, 2008) covers the career of Nancy and other women pilots of the ferry command, recently earned the seventh-annual Combs Gates Award from the National Aviation Hall of Fame for her research. The prize carried a $20,000 cash award.

While Harkness Love flew the swift P-51 and the capricious P-38, the heavy, four-engine B-17 bomber and C-54 transport were her forte. Love checked out on twenty-three different military aicraft and became the first woman to fly some of them, including the B-17 Flying Fortress. She ended her World War II career on a high note: following a general's orders, she piloted a giant C-54 Army transport over the fabled China-Burma-India "Hump," the crucial airlift route over the Himalayas. Young women serving today as combat pilots owe much to Love for creating the opportunity for women to serve.

Congratulations, Sarah Byrn Rickman and UNT Press, on winning this prestigious award!

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Sixty-Plus Attend Spanish Water, Anglo Water Event

In 1718, the Spanish developed one of the earliest and most extensive municipal water systems in North America ─ in Texas.

In Spanish Water, Anglo Water: Early Development in San Antonio, Charles Porter chronicles the origins and often-contentious development of water rights in San Antonio.

Here, Porter talks about the recent launch for his book, held at Mozart's Coffee Shop in Austin and sponsored by State Rep. Mark Strama (D-Austin), Texas State Library and Archives Commissioner Martha Doty Freeman, and Publisher Emeritus of the Texas Observer Charlotte McCann. More than 60 people were in attendance:
"Mozart’s Coffee Shop, on the shores of Lake Austin, was the ideal setting for a book about water and the weather was wonderful.

"It was a fitting setting for a book in which George W. Brackenridge plays a major part during the time he owned the first municipal water company in San Antonio, The San Antonio Waterworks Company. Why? Mozart’s sits atop land once owned by Brackenridge which he donated to the University of Texas at the beginning of the 20th century.

Porter (center) talks to Dr. Patrick Cox of the Dolph Briscoe Center for American History (left) and Kirk Holland, general manager of the Barton Springs Edwards Aquifer Conservation District (right).

"I gave a brief talk about the significance of the book, a history of the earliest development of water rights in Texas which evolved from Spanish Colonial Texas on the San Antonio River. I discussed the evolution of water in San Antonio from Spanish water to Anglo water under Spain, Mexico, the Republic of Texas, and the State of Texas covering the time period from 1718 to 1902."
Among the dignitaries in attendance were Kirk Holland, general manager of the Barton Springs Edwards Aquifer Conservation District, Dr. Patrick Cox of the Dolph Briscoe Center for American History, Peggy Rudd, director and librarian of the Texas State Library and Archives, Bill Black, legal counsel to Texas Railroad Commissioner Elizabeth A. Jones, David Foster, executive director of the Austin Board of Realtors, Mark Lehmann, government affairs director of the Texas Association of Realtors, Mike Ward of the Austin-American Statesman and Pioneer Farms, Chris Tomlinson, Managing Editor of the Texas Observer, and Author Lou Dubose.

The beautiful sunset over Lake Austin.

Monday, December 7, 2009

The Homeless Christmas Tree on NBC D/FW

"High atop a windswept Texas hill stood a crooked little tree. Nothing else was on the hill─nothing at all."─The Homeless Christmas Tree (Texas Christian University Press, 2009)
For years Carla Christian, a woman who at one time was homeless, decorated a small Christmas tree on I-30 in Fort Worth. The crooked little tree has become a tribute to the homeless and less fortunate people of the world and is the subject of a new children's book, The Homeless Christmas Tree, written by Leslie M. Gordon and illustrated by Court Bailey.

In a recent story, NBC Dallas-Fort Worth featured the Arlington Creative Arts Theatre & School's ongoing production of Carla's Song: The Story of the Homeless Christmas Tree, a play based on Carla's story and the children's book. The theatre presentation will continue through Dec. 12.

View the story here:

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Friday, December 4, 2009

Celebrity Authors on Why Books Make Great Gifts

"Books make great gifts because they're everybody's favorite things."-Julie Andrews

Books make great gifts. Please visit our Holiday Sale and save 25% on books that are sure to please everyone on your list.

And, hear why Martha Stewart, Rachael Ray, Jon Stewart, Frank McCourt and others talk about why they think books make great gifts:

Thursday, December 3, 2009

Dan E. Burns: Five Tips for Raising a Child with Autism

"As I walked out of the doctor's office, Ben's little hand wrapped around my finger. I had three options: ignore Ben's autism, accept it, or fight it. I chose to fight it."
Each year thousands of children are diagnosed with autism, a devastating neurological disorder that profoundly affects a person's language and social development.

In his critically acclaimed book, Saving Ben: A Father's Story of Autism, Dan E. Burns reveals how his family has coped with this disorder.

Today he offers his five tips for raising a child with autism:

December 7, my birthday, is the nineteenth anniversary of Ben’s diagnosis.

His pediatric neurologist said, “Autism is a lifelong, irreversible condition. It is genetic. There is no medical treatment. Save your money for his institutionalization when he turns twenty-one.”

As I walked out of the doctor’s office, Ben’s little hand wrapped around my finger. I had three options: ignore Ben’s autism, accept it, or fight it. I chose to fight it. Here’s what I wish I knew on that cold December day in 1990.

1. Autism is not a hard-wired brain disorder. It is an ongoing, biological multi-system illness. The systems involved are the gut, the immune system, and the central nervous system. Severe colic, chronic ear infections, no eye contact, loss of language and social withdrawal are all part of the same disease, a vicious cycle where one system failure triggers another.

2. Autism is treatable and in some cases reversible. Even in the primitive era when Ben was diagnosed, Dr. Ivor Lovaas was restoring health to nearly half the kids in his experimental group using intensive behavioral therapy. Not all kids recover. Ben didn’t, though he improved. But today, with the addition of modern biomedical treatments, the odds are in your favor if you start early and stick with it. Remove the toxins, rebalance the metabolism, and repair the damaged systems. Find a Defeat Autism Now doctor (a DAN doctor) to guide you. The fight is long and hard. Don’t give up.

3. You are not alone. One child in ninety-one is diagnosed with autism, up from one in 150 just two years ago. Nearly every family in America is touched by this rising tide, or soon will be. The medical, educational, and legal systems are years behind, and parents are leading the charge for change. Whether your strategy is to accept the condition or reverse it, you can join a parents’ group and find support. Fighters like me get support from Age of Autism, Generation Rescue, Defeat Autism Now (DAN), FEAT, TACA, and many more.

4. Autism is an opportunity for empowerment and self-growth. I didn’t want to be Superman. I just wanted to be Clark Kent, reporter, teacher. And a good father. But the tigers come at night, and they tear your hope apart. If you’re like me you turn to the tigers and stretch your claws and you say, “Not my kid. You can’t have him.” And the scales fall away. You see the world as it is, not a happy sitcom but a disaster movie, and you find yourself in a battle against ignorance, prejudice, clueless doctors, a zombied education system, helping professionals who don’t help, caregivers who don’t care, and a medical system driven by pharmaceutical profits and more concerned with protecting egos and incomes than recovering your child. So you go to the bathroom weeping in fear and anger and frustration. You throw up. Then you take off your Clark Kent glasses and you put on your Superman cape. And you know what? You can fly.

5. Focus on the quality of your relationship with your child. Ignore, accept, or fight. If you put on the cape, you will call forth strengths you didn’t know you had. The struggle will challenge your values and change your life. But remember, some children recover, some do not, and all are precious for being themselves. Take time to focus on the quality of the relationship with your son or daughter. Jobs come and go. Careers and marriages may end. Therapies succeed or fail. But you are a dad or mom forever.

Dan E. Burns, Ph.D., helped organize a Dallas chapter of Families for Early Autism Treatment, a support group for parents, and pioneered educational and medical interventions. He lives in Dallas.

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Linda Moore Lanning on Army Wife Network

"Life happens while you're waiting. . ."

In Waiting: One Wife's Year of the Vietnam War, author Linda Moore-Lanning gives a personal account of her experience as a wife on the home front during the Vietnam War.

During this difficult year, she experienced the agony of waiting for the next letter from her husband, struggled with anti-military sentiments, and discovered she was pregnant.

In a recent interview with the Army Wife Network's blog talk radio show (featured on the Web site for Army wives, by Army wives), Linda discusses her efforts to recall and write about this period in her life (starting more than twenty years after the fact) and the parallel experiences of waiting wives then and now.

See this excerpt, where Linda talks about her insistence that her husband, Michael Lee Lanning, give her an honest account of his experiences overseas:

"I thought it was important if we were going to have a close relationship when he got home that I know what he was going through. He was very good about sharing that - he told me the facts, what he was thinking and feeling. It was important toward the end (of his deployment). He had been in the field more than nine months at that time. Those were critical times and letters, and it was important then that I knew what he was going through."

Hear the full interview here (Show # 241).

Also, interact with Linda on the Waiting Facebook page.