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A classic memoir in a new version: Day at a Time: An Indiana Girl’s Sentimental Journey to Doris Day’s Hollywood and Beyond Edition II.

After a book has been out ten years or more it can be time to review its selling and critical success. Day at a Time by Mary Anne Barothy was one of the early books put out by Hawthorne Publishing in 2007. Mary Anne had come to us to say she had written a book about her 1970s experience as Doris Day’s secretary, living for part of the time in Doris’s home. It would surely, we thought, find a reading audience.

In 2007 Doris Day movies were still being shown as favorites on “Turner Classic Movies” and some of the fledgling cable channels. Doris herself was no longer acting in movies or TV but was an active leader in animal rights and adoption issues. The appetite for movie star personal histories was strong: Doris’s fans were all over the nation, enjoying re-runs of Doris’s well known and loved favorites like “Calamity Jane,” “Pillow Talk,” and “The Man Who Knew Too Much” but also the less well known films like “Send Me No Flowers” and “Romance on the High Seas.”

Fan clubs played a large part in the dissemination of enthusiasm for the star, and Doris herself was gracious and encouraging to those fans who wrote to her, sent her gifts at Christmas, and even came to see her. Mary Anne Barothy had begun her relationship with Doris by going to Hollywood to try to meet her idol and through a set of circumstances, came to gain Doris’s friendship. Eventually she moved in to help the star at home on Crescent Drive.

Mary Anne worked with us at Hawthorne to tell her stories of Doris and her fan and home life, including stories of her love for her son Terry, who was seriously injured and in the hospital at one point, her interactions with fellow stars like Billy De Wolfe and famous Hollywood personalities like her good friend Jacqueline Susann and her interest in spiritual subjects and good causes. The story was one of an amazingly varied and good person, lively, fun, giving and caring to those who came within her sphere, even a stray dog which was running in the streets near her home and had to be tracked down and loved.

The book’s release was immediately successful; fans caught on to the book and a general audience embraced its honest storytelling and perspective on the life of a famous star in the movie industry. Mary Anne the author began visiting bookstores, organization meetings and living facilities. The first edition sold out and 2,000 more copies were ordered. Reviews in Indianapolis Monthly and other publications got news of this good book around.

Mary Anne’s approach was admittedly adoring. What she found behind the veneer of a star’s public persona was a woman, positive and sincere. Criticism could have been made (but wasn’t) that the picture in the book never covered any weaknesses or faults Mary Anne observed, except perhaps that Doris was too gullible and trusting. Mary Anne would have countered that she didn’t really find any serious flaws in the star’s persona as she lived with her. That was the truth.

Some few disgruntled fans asserted that she had “told too much.” That as secretary and confidant Mary Anne should not have revealed that at the time Mary Anne was with her, Doris had a face lift, that she had a rare weekend fling with an unnamed fellow actor, that as she cared for and honored and loved her mother, Doris went through the eternal self-questioning about how one lives with and cares for an older parent.

These bits of discord did not stop the praise for, and enjoyment of, thousands of people who read the book and came to Mary Anne’s audio-visual presentations. Edition One was a big success for Hawthorne Publishing, reprinted in 2009, and now a new edition would add more material to Mary Anne’s little bit of life of the movie star Doris Day.

Click back to the website to order Day at a Time: An Indiana Girl’s Sentimental Journey to Doris Day’s Hollywood and Beyond, Edition Two.

Posted in Cultural History, Doris Day |

What is the lifetime of a modern book? The lives of our Hawthorne books, like those of a cat, can have a couple of incarnations.

Maybe not nine lives, but perennial best-sellers can be reissued in several ways. They can be reprinted, as is, which has happened to many of our books which have historical interest and stand good as is through the years.

Or entirely new editions can come out if the subject was topical and changed in substantial ways. This was the case with Emerson Houck’s book Hoosiers All: Indiana High School Basketball Teams. For the first edition of his book, Emerson Houck had scoured Indiana’s small towns, personally driving with his wife on off-roads to places like Hannah, or Selma, Indiana to see what their libraries had preserved in the way of records of the local basketball teams’ performances. Often he would visit the old gym and go to a coffee shop to talk to a star of the past, now nursing a cheese sandwich at a counter and about thirty pounds heavier than he had been when his team had starred on the court in the county and beyond.

The records were extensive from hundreds of towns. Then there were the official records at the Indiana High School Athletic Association. Emerson whittled all the data down to basic records and outstanding moments, describing high times with a couple of players and coaches for each team, and put them into his book, along with rare photos the home-town heroes were willing to part with.

The result was a book that was a perennial feature at the Indiana Basketball Hall of Fame, endorsed by their well-known former director and officials around the state. Barnes and Noble reordered this book many times.

But it was the fans of Hoosierdom who made this five-hundred-page book such a success. Looking into its pages, finding the teams by mascot groupings, the local stars and cheerleaders and also ground-breakers from the new girls’ teams could experience the olden, golden days. And those in their area who loved the venerated, one-class system of high school basketball, could remind themselves of why they had loved it.

But the local folks also spotted tiny flaws in the records. “That was not Coach Severin who won the Sectionals for the Cardinals in ’52, it was Coach Smith, who had just come on.” Or—“My record of field goals was 36 in 1942, not what you said.”

Apologies followed. It was really impressive that so much was right, almost everything, having relied on facts from the local sources and the IHSAA records. Emerson was a whiz, very orderly and systematic and a small-town basketball nut. But sometimes new sources also called, adding interesting new team activities; and stories surfaced that ought to be reported in this somewhat complete history of Indiana high school basketball.

So a new edition was called for. Besides, the original print run had been exhausted for this popular book. Thus Emerson began the painstaking job of correcting five hundred pages and the designer at Hawthorne, Art Baxter, made space, re-paged, and added an appendix at the back.

Changes, updating, then, is one major reason a topical book can be printed in subsequent editions.

Click back to the website to get Hoosiers All, Second Edition.

Nancy Niblack Baxter, Senior Editor Hawthorne Publishing

Posted in Book Publishing, Books on Indiana, Indiana High School Basketball, Indiana History |

New Year’s Day: Recollections of a publishing past

Hawthorne Publishing was founded in 2004, but the history of this publishing enterprise goes back to 1987, with its predecessor Guild Press of Indiana.

Guild Press was founded through the publication of one book: The Movers: A Saga of the Scotch Irish. Founder Nancy Baxter researched and wrote a novel based as strictly as possible on historic events: the story of one of the earliest pioneer families into southern Indiana, the McClures. It was the beginning of a five-book series on this family, but that first book had no publisher and Waldenbooks wished to purchase it for Indiana stores even before it was printed: thus Guild Press was born.

But the manager of Indiana Waldenbooks had more to say about Indiana books. “There is no regional publisher of popular history books in Indiana. We need one.” Guild Press became one of three traditional publishers in the state. It put out over three hundred titles during the fifteen years it was in existence, concentrating on Civil War and frontier history which had not before been documented in book form, but also releasing memoirs of leading Hoosiers like Ralph Teetor of Hagerstown, who invented cruise control.

Emmis Communications, specifically Emmis Publishing, which puts out city magazines like Indianapolis Magazine and Texas Monthly, bought Guild Press of Indiana in 2004. Although it had intended to broaden the mission of regional publishing for Indiana, the management that was hired took the company to Ohio and, experimenting with national publishing, closed it down in three years.

That sale of Guild left Nancy and Arthur Baxter with a very small publishing arm which they called Hawthorne Publishing. Why that name? “Out the window of our farm home in Marshall County was a Hawthorne tree,” says Nancy Baxter. “It struck me that it was like regional publishing, beautiful blooms in the spring and thorns accompanying the blossoms.” Regional publishing in most states and especially Indiana, could not exist to make large sums of money but really to fulfill the needs of history documentation.

The first book at Hawthorne was the biography of a local woman in the grips of fan mania: Beverly Fauvre chronicled her passage in and out of obsession with Lisa Minelli. It was the beginning of the publication of over 150 titles to date.



During the thirty years of publishing by Guild and Hawthorne, what are the best-selling books?

Clearly the winner is one first published in the late nineties and selling strongly to this day: Indiana Legends: Famous Hoosier from Johnny Appleseed to David Letterman, by Nelson Price, some four reprintings to this date. The book had come about with a phone call from Nelson to Nancy in the 1990s when he was a reporter for The Indianapolis News. He had done a series of interviews with famous contemporary Hoosiers and wondered if they could turn into a book. “No, Nancy said, “but we do need a book about the lives of famous Hoosiers from earliest history to now.” And so Indiana Legends was born. It has sold probably 3,000 copies in its publishing history both at Guild and at Hawthorne, and its author travels the state speaking about famous Indiana people and leading tours of landmark places where they lived and worked.

Other titles that have endured and sold many books, more recently, are Gallant Fourteenth: The Story of an Indiana Civil War Regiment by Nancy herself, with five editions both hardcover and paperback; Hoosiers All: Indiana High School Basketball Teams by Emerson Houck in two editions,  and 500 Strong: Wabash College Students in the Civil War by James and Patience Barnes. And the very strong perennial seller Day at a Time: An Indiana Girl’s Sentimental Journey to Doris Day’s Hollywood and Beyond. More about that in blogs to come.

And so a regional need for our Hoosier state has been met. And there is no sign that that effort to document Indiana history for small and large towns and history aficionados in the Hoosier State will stop doing what it does successfully.


These books are available on the Hawthorne website, click back, or from Amazon used.

Posted in Book Publishing |

Our Hawthorne book Sleeping in Dixie’s Feather Bed: Growing up White in the Segregated South goes to the big Author Fair

by Lou Ellen Watts

Saturday, Dec. 7 was the big author event in Indiana, the Indiana Historical Society’s Author Fair in Indianapolis. I was so excited that my book, Sleeping in Dixie’s Feather Bed: Growing Up White in the Segregated South was accepted to be in the fair. Even though I had been in several author fairs this past year this was the easiest one to participate in but the most difficult one for which to be accepted. There were so many applicants and so many on the waiting list.

At most fairs, authors load up their books, signs, posters, tablecloths, and anything that might add interest to their exhibit and cart them into the venue.  At the IHS all we had to do was just show up, smile and talk. Books were already set on the tables for people to peruse then purchase at the exit door. Sales are made through the I HS Basile History Market.

My wonderful husband and I found the parking lot and made our way into the crowded building.  This day was especially packed because everyone brought their children to view the Society’s annual Festival of the Trees and to meet Santa Claus. After our luncheon in the basement, we climbed the stairs to the second floor. As I looked around the room, I was amazed at how many books were exhibited. They were all packed with so many words, commas, periods, quotation marks and other dots and dashes, I asked myself again, “How do we authors really decide which words to use? Which ones make the story wake up?”

Exactly at noon people pushed their way to the tables where we sat waiting to tell our story. My book was in the biography and history section along with books on Mary Hamilton, a history of Purdue, a history of suffragettes, and little-known facts about Indiana, and sports. Men were especially interested in the book by a Pacer player.

I was so thrilled to have been able to send my message on equality and diversity through my books.

People told me many stories about events they saw and experienced earlier in life, stories which concerned racism and inequality. Here I was, an 80-year-old trying to listen to these serious stories, but  I did have some laughs. The picture on the cover of my book is of my singing in front of a microphone in high school. Several times when I told people that was me at age 16, the men would smile and say, “You haven’t changed a bit.” I laughed but laughed even louder when one man said in a serious voice, “You sure looked better then.” What else could I say but “True.”

Not only did I get a chance to talk with adults,  but I talked with teenagers who aspired to be authors and little children who were tagging along with their parents. I could tell who were grandmothers because they carried little picture books to give for Christmas presents.  As 4:00 closing time approached, one lady turned to me and said, “I came today and got free entrance and free parking but I spent over $150 in books.” She laughed then continued, “That doesn’t make sense.”  I only said, “Good choice.”

Click back to purchase Lou Ellen’s book on her cultural awakening in a south undergoing change. There are interesting stories in every chapter of life amidst the Ku Klux Klan cross-burnings, blatant discrimination against neighbors down the street, and the segregated schools and movie theatres. 

Posted in Book Publishing, Cultural History |