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An Indiana book release: The Author hits the pavement and sits to sell

Lou Ellen Watts’ adventures promoting her book Sleeping in Dixie’s Feather Bed: Growing Up White in the Segregated South
Released October 2018.
Part 1 – October –December

My book, Sleeping in Dixie’s Feather Bed: Growing Up White in the Segregated South, had a successful launch at the Johnson County Museum of History in Franklin, Indiana last October. That was just the beginning. It was time to promote my message.

The very first place that I signed up for was at a very small Christian bookstore. I thought that this would be a good place for my initial talk. Everyone was very helpful and thoughtful but the traffic was not great. It was “good practice.”

National Small Business Night has always been very popular across the country, so I contacted the bookstore in my hometown. It is a small store and the owner put me in a corner at a small table next to the door. There was very little room to display posters or other items, but I was determined to make a good appearance. About 3:00 people started pouring in…people with children, older people, college people, single people, and groups of people. So, many people stopped to ask about the book and some eventually bought one.  It was exciting to discuss the news events of the day that connected to my view of equality expressed in the book.

I was invited to participate in a Holiday Shopping event at the fair ground in Columbus, IN. Since the president of one of my writing groups organized it, I wanted to attend. I had been told to “think outside the box” and sell at Farmers Markets and craft shows, so my husband and I lugged books and other things to go over the black table cloth into one of the closed barns. There were about 6 authors there and maybe 20 crafters. My table was set up next to one which displayed homemade jewelry. CBD oil was set up in a table in back of me and on the other side of me was a lady selling homemade cookies. Since I am a very outgoing person I wandered around during slack time and talked with other authors. Some were very friendly but some were close -mouthed. I have been uncertain how Hoosiers would react to the book about my story of emerging into tolerance. Most of the buyers were more interested in the crafts rather than books, but several people were fascinated by my book. One lady bought 3 and wanted to know if the book was on Amazon. It wasn’t a very successful day in selling but I ate a lot of good homemade cookies, bought a gaudy bead necklace, and learned how CBD oil would be good for my bulldog.

One of the organizations that I belong to is the Daughters of the American Revolution. I was on the program at the DAR to give a talk about the book at the November meeting. The program chairman arranged for me to speak at the local library and invite the public. I arrived at 1:00 and found the room was not set up so my husband and I moved the chairs in an orderly way and looked for a podium to stand behind. There was none. At 1:30 12 members of my organization and one guest were seated and ready for my talk. Since I knew all of members, I decided to have all of them gather around in a semi-circle. This informal setting was most beneficial in that most of the audience felt connected and discussed the meaning of the book: how I learned to be more broad-minded about race and ethnicity, based on my own personal childhood. Everyone purchased a book and the one guest took my card and wanted to know if I would speak at a large Johnson County event the following year in September. I deemed the outcome of this meeting as successful.

I have been a member of Central Indiana Writers Association for many years and attend most of its meetings and events. Each year the group helps host an event at Garfield Park in Indianapolis. This year our program chairman was not able to sit at a table at the event and needed a volunteer to take her place. Of course, I volunteered. The other member and I set up a table with brochures and flyers advertising our organization. We also put out books by authors of the writers group, including mine. It was nice that the table was at the door, where people would stop and ask for directions. When they did that,  we pointed out the brochures and books and I handed out my business cards and bookmarks and discussed my book. Several ladies gave me their cards and wanted to know if I would be interested in speaking to their organization. One never knows how things really do work out. And the word about the book was getting around and a good many had been sold.

Probably most important were conversations about how we as people learn attitudes on race: my own growing-up in three states, automatically picking up Jim Crow racial attitudes and stereotypes and being jolted out of my feather bed shell into new perspectives, became the taking-off point for conversations.


More to come….

Lou Ellen Watts’ book is available from Hawthorne. Click back to purchase it.

Posted in Winds of Change |

Sandy Allen honored at Shelbyville High School Alumni Hall of Fame

By the author of our Hawthorne book World’s Tallest Woman: The Giantess of Shelbyville High, Rita Rose.

Sandy Allen, of Shelbyville, Indiana, was the World’s Tallest Woman from 1976 to 2008, when she passed away in a Shelbyville nursing home. My book about Sandy’s high school years, World’s Tallest Woman: The Giantess of Shelbyville High, came out just two months after she died.

Sandy Allen

In the last 10 years the Shelbyville powers that be, as well as friends and relatives of Sandy’s, have talked about ways to honor the woman who put their town on the map. There has been talk about a life-size statue, although that hasn’t come about. But she did receive an honor recently and I was there to take part.

Sandy’s sister Darlene

On May 2, 2019, Sandy was inducted into the Shelbyville High School Alumni Hall of Fame from the class of 1973. She was honored along with Jean Ann Dellekamp Wheeler, class of ‘64, and Dr. William Inlow, class of 1909. I accepted the plaque on behalf of Sandy’s sister in Florida, Emma Darlene, who was very close to Sandy. The plaque was shipped to her. The same plaque appears on the Hall of Fame wall. Sandy’s brother, Marty Brown, said a few words at the event.

Here’s an excerpt from my speech: “If Sandy were here tonight to accept this award, she would probably say she didn’t deserve it. That’s part of who she was, humble and self-effacing. But she DOES deserve it. Sandy grew up with a lot of physical and emotional challenges. She managed to overcome a lot of adversity as a child, and as a student at this high school, to become the kind, generous, funny and inspirational person that she was. I am accepting this award on behalf of Sandy’s sister, Emma Darlene, with whom she was very close. Darlene can’t be here because she lives in Florida, but she sends her thanks for honoring her big sister. (Yes, that was a pun.) To Sandy’s friends and relatives who still live in Shelbyville, I hope you are proud of her accomplishments and what she gave back to the community, as a person and as the World’s Tallest Woman.”

Rita with Sandy’s brother
Marty Brown

The plaque hangs in the entryway of the school along with those who were honored before her.

For a copy of World’s Tallest Woman: The Giantess of Shelbyville High, please contact Hawthorne Publishing or you can email me at for a signed copy.


Posted in Cultural History, Indiana History, World's Tallest Woman |


It just doesn’t seem real.  Yesterday morning I received a call from my dear friend Joy in Virginia who was crying over the phone.  “What’s wrong?” I asked.  Her tearful words were “Someone just posted that Doris died.”  I was stunned, shocked and in disbelief.   I immediately rushed to my computer to look it up and there on most news outlets were the devastating words “Doris Day Dead.”

We both wondered, what happened?  She seemed pretty well for her recent 97th  birthday celebration in Carmel, California.  Doris appeared on her balcony and spoke briefly to the crowd of well-wishers below on the golf green.  From the reports we have since learned she died early this morning, May 13th, of complications of pneumonia.

Needless to say, my e-mail and phone text messages have been flooded with notes from friends who know how much Doris has meant to me since I was 9 years old.  Doris was my idol and I treasure ALL the precious times I spent with her.

One friend commented, “I know you two were very close, but as you said she is in heaven now.  She did make heaven on earth for fans, like me, of her movies.”

Little did I think when I discovered the Doris Day Fan Club headquartered in London, England, when I was a young teen, that several years later, I would have the awesome opportunity to meet Doris on my third trip to Los Angles.  Better yet, I was destined to get to know her up close and personal.  Thanks to mutual friends and through a series of incredible events, Doris invited me to work for her when she was filming THE DORIS DAY SHOW at CBS, and eventually live with her, in her home.  Talk about a dream come true!

Today, as I myself am 75, Doris Day is still very much a part of my life.  She always inspired me to stay POSITIVE, to see the bright side of things and to do my best in whatever I chose to do.  I will forever be grateful to DORIS DAY.

I would like to close with some of what Bryan James, head of the Doris Day Forum in London just wrote about our dear Doris….”Yes, Goodbye dear Doris, your memory and legacy will live on. Thank you for all the joy you brought us.  Goodbye to a wonderful woman, the world seems a smaller place without her. But she had a long and mostly happy life, she was loved and admired by millions. She had the gift of being able to cope with loss and unhappiness without becoming bitter and was able – and ready and willing—to care for others—not forgetting the animals— even when things weren’t going well for her.

“Someone was just asked on TV, “Which of today’s stars would you say was most like her?” To which the reply came, “I’m sorry but I don’t think anyone today is like her. She could sing, dance, act, play comedy, drama and break your heart in some of her films and songs. There’s no one like that today.” How true.

Goodbye for now, dearest Doris….until we meet again….

Mary Anne is the author of Day at a Time: An Indiana Girl’s Sentimental Journey to Doris Day’s Hollywood and Beyond available by a click-back from our website.

Posted in Doris Day |

Do books have histories? Some from Hawthorne are quite interesting

This month Hawthorne released a new edition of the book From the Heart’s Closet, a Young Girl’s World War II Story. It was the first book Hawthorne Publishing released after its earlier incarnation, Guild Press, was sold to Emmis Communications, under its new division Emmis Publishing, and a new publishing company evolved for Guild’s former owners.

From the Heart’s Closet, 2005, was and is by Anneliese (Lee) Krauter, an Indiana resident since the 1950s. But Lee’s story, told in the book, is much more dramatic than that of most other Hoosiers.

Her parents were immigrants from Germany who had come to America to make a new life and were happily settled in New York. They had two American-born children, Lee and Freddy,  when World War II came. They were pursuing the American dream and were also involved in the German-American community in the city.  In spite of their good will and positive actions the family, particularly Lee’s father Otto Wiegand, drew attention from the FBI.

The father was unknowingly and unjustly accused of harboring a spy as a renter in his home and the family was interned in a family camp in Crystal City, Texas, along with other German-American families and Japanese-American families, who were in another part of the camp.

Lee Avail her brother, their mother and their father, were repatriated to Germany in February, 1944. Bombs were falling, but they survived those and the midnight flight out of what would be the Russian-occupied section of Germany into Allied territory.

Lee married an American soldier during the occupation in Germany and the entire family returned one by one to America to live out their lives.

This story was told as the first book from the new Hawthorne Publishing and over the years sold out, as Lee herself became a speaker on her experience as a child, lecturing on the harrowing years of World War II for German families in America. “Much is known about the Japanese internment during the war, but little about us Germans,” she says.

Lee Krauter has spoken on the German-American experience during the war at the Indiana Historical Society, Marian University, over 30 Indianapolis and Indiana and Florida venues and especially at a reunion of former internees at Crystal City. She traveled around the country with a speaking tour featuring this specialized history. In February of this year, Lee joined other “children,” (now in their 80s) who traveled on the ship that was sent back to Germany in February 1944. The Gripsholm, called the “Mercy Shiphad been a luxury liner, but what it was doing at this point in the war was repatriating German families to Europe and exchanging them for stranded Americans and returning them back home.

This gripping and well written memoir helped open a closed door on a history not well known, which occurred during challenging days in America during the conflict which sent the “Greatest Generation” abroad to fight and die.

Lee’s book is now available as both a new edition of the softbound book but also as an e-book.


This new edition of From the Heart’s Closet is just now available as an e-book from Amazon! Order print book soon on the Hawthorne site! Softbound $24.95.



Posted in Cultural History, ebooks |