Duke Southard

Author, Educator, Lecturer

My Tom Brokaw letter

This is a part of a letter I wrote to Tom Brokaw in January, 1999. Its subject was his book on the “greatest generation.” However, perhaps it is as applicable today as it was then. The idealism mentioned is that of the members of that incredible World War II generation.

“I suppose that my wish for all would be a return to that same idealism, that same level of commitment, that same ambition, but with all of it tempered by a belief in the value of humanity in its totality.”

My question was simply this: Can the… Continue reading

Embarrassed and Ashamed

Our good Canadian friends often ask how the Stacey Burns murder case is coming as they are well aware of the long time I’ve been working on Murder in a Small Town: The Tragic Death of Stacey Burns.

Lately, they have been asking an additional rhetorical question about our country, phrased something like this: What in the world is going on down there?

As just an ordinary citizen, I can only answer both questions from my limited perspective, and certainly not a powerful one.

First, how is the Stacey Burns murder case coming? Who knows? I can only… Continue reading

Kurt Vonnegut

Kurt Vonnegut never gave the MIT graduation speech for which he often receives the credit: the so-called “sunscreen speech.” He did comment that he would have been proud if the words had indeed been his. I have always loved Kurt Vonnegut and I loved to teach any of his novels to my high school classes. (Not sure my students loved them quite so much!)

Anyway, the author of that famous non-speech dispenses advice for a happy life. Recently I had occasion to read the piece again. Here is a quote that is priceless, and probably… Continue reading


4th year in a row-a finalist in the NM/AZ Book Awards, this time in two fiction categories. November 18- winners announced-Will the fourth time be a charm? 2013-a Favor Returned, 2014-Agent for Justice, 2015-Live Free or Die- now,2016, Cracks in the Wall.
My fingers are crossed!!
Meantime- 2015- SSA First Place in Personal Essay Division and 2016, WRITER’S DIGEST FIRST PLACE in the 85th annual writing contest for personal essay/memoir!
Boy, am I getting better at obnoxious self promotion or what?

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Intense effort?

I will repeat here my answer to one correspondent who asked about the duffle bag found in the yard of a neighbor of Stacey Burns quite a while back.

“Much like everything else in this case, there is no clear explanation nor description of the duffle bag other than what you mentioned.  Remember, it is an “ongoing investigation” which is the catch-all reason for not telling anyone anything. After all, we wouldn’t want to jeopardize this intense effort to find Stacey’s killer, would we?”

My answer lies clearly in the “tongue-in-cheek” category.  However, the underlying question remains:… Continue reading

On Loss and Credibility . . .

“The loss of such a worthwhile person in a world that cries out for compassionate people remains a question that I hope and pray I’ll have answered some day. Until then, memories will have to suffice . . .”

This quote is taken from my book, The Week from Heaven and Hell, a tribute to our son who died suddenly at age 29. As I was preparing for a program with two other authors this coming Monday at the Pima/Green Valley Library on the writing of “truths” in memoir, I was reminded how true this statement… Continue reading

What’s fair is fair. . .

One of my correspondents asked me to release the name of a woman named to me in interviews as a possible suspect in the Stacey Burns murder case. After all, Jim Vittum’s name, along with others, has been bandied about in this blog so what’s fair is fair. Well, in my humble opinion, this would be irresponsible simply because so far the information is purely hearsay and would just add another name to the list of speculative suspects.

Here is what is not fair.

  1. The handling of the name of Jim Vittum in public and private by people… Continue reading

One Winner and Another Finalist

18203-wdan-aw-118203-wdan-aw18203-wdan-awDespite evidence to the contrary, I really do have trouble with self-promotion. However, since I have a blog post coming up on the subject of personal and writer’s credibility, I have to let my readers know of these latest two developments in my writing career.

First, my personal essay entry won first place in the Memoir/Personal Essay division of the 85th Annual Writer’s Digest Writing Competition.  The recognition alone makes this a very special award with a substantial cash prize a nice bonus feature.


Second, the finalists in the 2016 New Mexico/Arizona Book Awards were announced yesterday in… Continue reading

Active investigation? (Again)

In August, while in Wolfeboro for a book signing, I interviewed two people about the Stacey Burns case. In both instances, a woman was mentioned as a possible suspect in Stacey’s murder.  In one case, the actual name was given to me. In the other, the name was not used but all evidence points to it being the same woman. The N.H. State Police told one of my interviewees that they would follow-up on the information supplied. The other interviewee has already spoken to the police and provided the name.

I did hear from a member of Stacey’s… Continue reading

Truth is not enough!

In a reader’s guide to her outstanding book, Twain’s End, novelist Lynn Cullen makes this interesting observation.

“. . .when spoken with conviction, falsehoods and accusations carry the same weight as truths. Whoever speaks the most loudly is believed, not necessarily the one who speaks the most honestly.”

She follows this discouraging thought with another. “. . . having the truth on your side is not enough.”

I could not help but relate her insightful comments to the Stacey Burns murder case.  Some of the falsehoods, accusations, innuendoes, and wild speculations in that case have been… Continue reading

I'm Duke Southard, author, educator, and lecturer.

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