Thursday, November 28, 2013

Save Thanksgiving Day

I believe family and friends should be at the heart of the Thanksgiving holiday.

It's a day we reflect on things we are thankful and the blessings we have received. And it's a day to show thanks to others for being in our lives. 

It concerns me that some stores are open today, getting a head start on "Black Friday" sales. I think it's wrong. 

A couple of days ago I signed an online petition not to shop today. If you want to sign, click here. I'm not sure how much good it will do but at least you can voice your concern about others having to man stockrooms, retail departments and cash registers instead of celebrating this day like millions of others.

ABC-TV also had a story about some chains not going along with the gradual trend that some term as "gray Thursday." They are keeping their doors closed. Hooray for them!

I think the best way to get the message to retailers is for folks to simply have a Thanksgiving Day boycott. If it's not worth their time to keep the lights on, then perhaps they'll turn off the lights and let their employees be with their families and loved ones.

I don't understand why people can't wait until Friday to find those great "bargains" at the big box stores. And we all know that there will be wonderful buys on products leading right up to Christmas day.

So let's keep this a traditional holiday for everyone. Stay at home and watch the parades and football on TV. Sit around the table or living room and talk to family. If you want to go out, volunteer to work at a soup kitchen or similar place to help those who don't have a blessings you have. Spend time with the children and grandchildren, shooting hoops, passing a football, or whatever you like to do outdoors. Or simply take a nap, you deserve it!

Just stay away from the stores! And remember these stores on Black Friday.

Happy Thanksgiving to all!

Until the next time...

Monday, November 25, 2013

Better Late Than Never Website Update

It took some time but I finally updated my personal website -- -- seven weeks behind schedule. Better late than never. 

I tried using various software to design a site but I found them too difficult to use. I decided to go with the folks who hosted by previous website, Go, and found its Website Builder to be relatively easy to use. The Go Daddy folks were also prompt about getting back with me when I had questions.

The website is still a work in progress. I wanted something clean and easy on the eyes as well as simple to navigate for now. There is only basic info posted, but those are the things I believe to be essential in promoting my books, and to some extent, myself. 

I'll be adding and deleting parts in the coming days as I become more familiar with the tools and visualize how I want to the website to work. 

The only problem I had was some malware -- SurfBetter -- that I was able to delete using Chrome tool options (after help from a Google search).

I hope you check it out. Let me know if you have any questions, concerns, or comments.

Until the next time.... 

Friday, November 22, 2013

The Day That Kennedy Died

I was a sophomore at Taylor County High School, in Campbellsville, Ky., sitting in Mrs. Artie Taylor's algebra class when the news came over the intercom on Nov. 22, 1963, that President Kennedy had been assassinated.
President John F. Kennedy

I was 15 years old. I looked around at my classmates, and they were doing the same, trying to comprehend what we'd just heard. Some of the girls began sobbing. Mrs. Taylor was wiping tears from her eyes. I don't recall any of the boys shedding tears, myself included, because boys weren't supposed to cry in public.

The next few days were spent in front of the television, watching as Lee Harvey Oswald was arrested and then killed by Jack Ruby. And then the funeral in Washington as thousands lined the streets to show final respects as the president's casket was carried on a horse-drawn caisson to Arlington National Cemetery.

I've watched parts of some of the television programs this week marking the 50th anniversary of his death. For the most part, I find them too painful and sad. 

Even after all these years, it's still difficult to comprehend what happened on that Friday afternoon -- and why. 

Until the next time...

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Post Kentucky Book Fair

The 2013 Kentucky Book Fair is over, and it was a tremendous success.

Last year's fair generated only $110,000. This time it was $145,000, one of the highest in the 32 years of the event. 

A lot of work went into the book fair. It's primarily a volunteer effort with only a couple of folks on the payroll -- the manager and bookkeeper. It's a labor of love for everyone involved.

There are a lot of folks who donate time, expertise and effort into making this Kentucky's, and one of the nation's, top book fairs. And it helps to have authors such as Sue Grafton, Rick Pitino, Ann Ross, Eleanor Clift, Rick Pitino (coach and author) as well as the other talented writers, illustrators and photographers who provide the books that people want to have signed, and I hope, to read. 

I always enjoy the book fair. As an author, it's great being around other authors and meeting readers (more than 4,000 in attendance, but not all to see me). As a volunteer, I love giving back to my community and state. And I like the idea that what I'm doing is helping public libraries and literacy programs across Kentucky. The ripple effect is simply amazing with all the lives that are touched. 

If you love to read and write, I urge you to get involved in community and state programs that promote literacy. Perhaps work to organize a book fair -- local, state or regional -- where you live. And go to your local library and set up author readings and discussion groups. We have an excellent library where I live -- Paul Sawyier Public Library.

Now that the Kentucky Book Fair is over for another year, I'll turn my attention to writing. I have several ideas swirling about in my head that I hope to develop. 

Until the next time...

Sunday, November 17, 2013

Green Light for Baseball

I had the privilege of moderating a panel on "Desegregating Baseball: The Kentucky Connection" at the Kentucky Book Fair. It was a informative and insightful discussion, primarily focusing on Harold "Pee Wee" Reese, Albert B. "Happy" Chandler, and Jackie Robinson.

Dick Usher as Pee Wee Reese
Dick Usher, a Chautauqua performer with the Kentucky Humanities Council, provided a touching performance that brought the baseball hall of famer from Ekron in Meade County back to life for 30 minutes in the Old Capitol chamber. We learned about Reese's strength of character and sense of fairness that helped pave the way for Robinson breaking the color barrier in Major League Baseball.

Former Kentucky congressman and state attorney general Ben Chandler recalled time spent with his grandfather, who talked to him about this important period in American history when he served as Commissioner of Baseball. While some have questioned Chandler's importance during that time -- and many believe he was an integral figure -- his grandson noted that his grandfather provided a "green light" for Robinson to play after decades of "red light" governance by Commissioner Kenesaw Mountain Landis.
Ben Chandler

And Ben Chandler also pointed out, which many have forgotten, that Chandler opened the door for Robinson and other black baseball players seven years before the landmark Brown v. Board of Education decision that ended Jim Crow (separate but equal) laws in public schools.

Chris Lamb, a professor of journalism at Indiana University in Indianapolis, provided commentary about the events leading up to Robinson becoming the first black in Major League Baseball. His outstanding book, "A Conspiracy of Silence: Sportswriters and the Long Campaign to Desegregate Baseball," chronicles the roadblocks and obstacles encountered by black baseball players in the years leading up to Robinson's courageous and historic stance against the odds.

Lamb talked about how Landis and most owners of the Major League teams refused to budge on the race issue. He noted the perseverance by black sportswriters and black newspapers to keep pressing to desegregate baseball.  And sadly, how most of the white sportswriters remained silent on the issue.

And a major turning point, according to Lamb's research, was how black Americans could serve in the military to end racism in Europe and then return home to racism in their home country. Many Americans began to understand it wasn't right.

William Marshall addressed Happy Chandler's role in desegregating baseball and
how the "green light" opened the door for such great black players as Roy Campanella and Don Newcombe to play alongside whites in America's great pastime. Marshall, the retired director of Special Collections and Archives at the University of Kentucky Libraries, is the author of distinguished "Baseball's Pivotal Era: 1945-51," another scholarly but entertaining book about desegregation and social change.

I would urge those who are interested in baseball, history, and significant events to read these books. And if you ever get the opportunity to see Dick Usher as Pee Wee Reese, or perhaps invite him into a classroom or civic event, do it. You won't be disappointed; in fact you'll be enriched and enlightened by reading the books and seeing the history come to life.

Until the next time....

(The program was taped by Frankfort Plant Board Television. I'll try to get it posted on YouTube.)

As promised, here are the videos of the panel discussion:

Friday, November 15, 2013

Kentucky Book Fair Eve

In less than 12 hours I'll be heading to the 32nd annual Kentucky Book Fair. Nearly 200 authors and illustrators will be at the Frankfort Convention Center, signing books and talking to 4,000 or so patrons during the day.

This is a wonderful event for my state. In fact, I consider it one of the top attractions in the Bluegrass State. It's a time when the state focuses on reading and writing, readers and writers, and the good that comes from it.

Proceeds from the fair benefit public and school libraries and literacy programs. The fair has raised more than $350,000, and this year distributed $7,500 to seven school libraries. That may not sound like much, but with libraries under siege in my state, librarians are very thankful to have these grants to purchase books. 

Tonight I attended an authors reception at the Paul Sawyier Public Library in Frankfort. All the authors are looking forward to the grand event.

There are bigger book fairs -- but not that many --  but the one we have in Kentucky is one of the oldest in the nation. 

This year's fair will feature mystery writer Sue Grafton, two-time national college championship basketball coach Rick Pitino, and the nationally respected essayist-poet-novelist Wendell Berry. Other luminaries include Eleanor Clift, Ann B. Ross, Bobbie Ann Mason, George Ella Lyon, and....well, many, many more.

Check out the Kentucky Book Fair website or visit the Facebook page and you'll see what I'm writing about. I hope to see you there. 

Until the next time....

Saturday, November 9, 2013

Busy Time of Year

My apologies for not posting anything in more than a week. I know everyone out there has been wondering, "Where in the heck is Mike?" 

Well, I don't believe that. If I did, I'd be fooling myself. 

I've been busy with the Kentucky Book Fair. I'm the marketing
chair so I try to spread the word throughout the state and region about the state's premier literary event. We're heading into our 32nd fair on Nov. 16 at the Frankfort Convention Center, from 9 a.m.-4:30 p.m.

I've participated as a patron, author, and board member. I find it very satisfying to be involved in this worthwhile literary endeavor that benefits school and public libraries as well as literacy programs in my state.

The Kentucky Book Fair is on Facebook so drop by there and give it a "like" and you'll receive updates, photos, author info,  and more. You can give me a "like" as well under Kentucky author Michael Embry

I recently conducted a Goodreads giveaway for my latest novel -- "The Bully List" -- and mailed a copies to the five winners (out of more than 400 entries) this morning. They're from Texas, Washington, New Jersey, Michigan and Illinois. If you're a Goodreads member, and I highly recommend it, feel free to connect with me. 

I'll be back in the writing mode once the dust settles in a  week or so. 

I've included three videos with authors that I interviewed for the Kentucky Book Fair -- for your viewing pleasure. If you want to see part two of each episode, you can find them on YouTube (they run about four minutes each). The fourth and final program will be uploaded on Nov. 14. 

Until the next time....