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Nov. 10 book signing
WSU communicator publishes nonfiction book about Vietnam
Wednesday, Oct. 24, 2012
By Kaylee Ray, WSU News intern
|Titone at a book signing in Spokane earlier this year. Photo provided by Julie Titone. (Photo by Richard H. Miller, WSU)|
"I get to use the skills that I used in journalism for a good cause,” said Titone, director of communications for Washington State University’s College of Education. "So far in my university career I’ve been able to promote peace and education. It doesn’t get much better than that.”
Titone writes articles and press releases about what’s happening in her college. One of her primary topics is education research. WSU is known internationally for its research in the physical and biological sciences, Titone said, but its social science research deserves attention, too, even though "it’s a different kind of critter.”
One difference is that education research usually costs significantly less than laboratory-based science, Titone said.
"If you’re judging the significance of studies by how many grant dollars are brought in, you might not appreciate what an education researcher does,” she said. "But when judged by its potential impact on lives and the economy, education research is hugely important.”
Titone writes and manages a blog for the college called EduCoug. Originally a list serve for internal communication about interesting education material, it was made a public blog so more people could benefit from the information.
Deciding whether to share information as a feature article, blog post or news release is part of her job, Titone said. Sometimes, before writing her own article, she queries news reporter outside WSU to see if they’re interested in writing or broadcasting about the topic.
"You never know where a good news tip might lead,” she said.
Titone began her career as a newspaper reporter and editor, first working at the Idaho Statesman in Boise, then The Spokesman-Review in Spokane. In 2003, she earned a master’s degree in communication at Ohio State University and started a second career in academia. Before coming to WSU in 2006, she was director of communications for the Joan B. Kroc Institute for International Peace Studies at the University of Notre Dame.
Writing about Vietnam
It was at the Idaho Statesman that Titone met her future husband, Grady Myers. She was a young editor and he was a graphic artist. At an office party, she heard Myers telling stories about serving in the U.S. Army in Vietnam.
"I didn’t know many men who went to Vietnam, and if they went they did not talk about their experiences,” Titone said.
She told Myers she wanted to be a writer but didn’t have any big adventures in her own life to draw from. She asked if she could write his war stories. He agreed. They sat down with a tape recorder and he told his story. He also created illustrations, and the words and drawings went into a book manuscript. They called it "Boocoo Dinky Dow," which was slang in Vietnam for "very crazy.”
Myers and Titone tried to have the memoir published in the late 1970s, but publishing houses weren’t interested. One reason, Titone said, was the unpopularity of the war. Swept under the rug by a marriage, a son, divorce and careers, the manuscript sat in storage. The two remained friends and, a few years ago, returned to the book. Myers’ health was dwindling and he needed a project to occupy his time, Titone said.
After Myers passed away in 2011, Titone decided to self-publish, "Boocoo Dinky Dow: My short, crazy Vietnam War.”
"My main goal was to share the stories that Grady wanted to share with the world and to do it for his children,” she said.
Connecting with veterans
Response to the book has been very positive, Titone said. It has prompted other veterans and relatives of veterans to share their own stories of Vietnam and other wars. She said it’s been gratifying to hear readers’ reactions.
"I thought publishing this book would close a chapter in my life,” Titone said. "But more significantly it has opened a chapter.”
Julie Titone will read from "Boocoo Dinky Dow: My short, crazy Vietnam War” at 2 p.m. Saturday, Oct. 27, at And BOOKS, Too! in Clarkston, Wash. She will be joined by a guest reader, Vietnam veteran Steven Orr. She will sign copies on Nov. 10, the day of the Armed Forces Day WSU home football game, from 10 a.m. until noon at the Bookie on the Pullman campus.