Oklahoma Center for the Book Honors Author’s Contribution to Oklahoma Letters

On April 22, 2023, Sheldon Russell received the Arrell Gibson Lifetime Achievement Award from the Oklahoma Center for the Book. He joins the ranks of such Oklahoma literary luminaries as S.E. Hinton (1997), N. Scott Momaday (1994), and Michael Wallis (1999). Seven of the twenty-one authors on the official Literary Map of Oklahoma are recipients of the Arrell Gibson Lifetime Achievement Award, which is given annually to an Oklahoman for a body of literary work.

The award is named for the late Arrell Gibson (1921-1987), fittingly himself an author and professor of history at Phillips University in Enid and the University of Oklahoma. Gibson’s works include Oklahoma: A History of Five Centuries (University of Oklahoma Press, 1965, 1981) and The Oklahoma Story (University of Oklahoma Press, 1978). Gibson served as the first president of the Oklahoma Center for the Book. You can read more about the award and its latest recipient at

April 11, 2023
Cennan Books of Cynren Press
Hardcover | $28.00 U.S.
ISBN: 978-1-947976-37-5


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Stripped of opportunity by the Great Depression, educated and ambitious Liam takes a low-paying job with the Federal Writers' Project, assigned to collect stories of rural life for the Library of Congress in a hot, poverty-stricken Dust Bowl town in Oklahoma. He'll take his government check, write the stories, and wait for better times. Then Liam meets a woman who upends all his plans.

Eden Sawyer may be poor but she's hardworking and determined. She has dreams; more than that, she has talent. As Liam interviews her, he discovers that Eden longs to be an artist, and has the skill to do it, if only she can break the cycle of poverty that traps her.

Eden leads Liam to an unexpected, unimagined love. But as he interviews more townspeople, Liam's probing questions steer him into danger, threatening to reveal untold secrets, unsolved mysteries, and unfulfilled passions. Will one man's simmering jealousy and thwarted ambition bring Liam and Eden's story to an abrupt and deadly end?

"As in his other work, Russell gives voice to the beauty and mystery behind northwestern Oklahoma’s harsh landscape and resilient residents." —Matthew Lambert, Department of English, Foreign Language, and Humanities, Northwestern Oklahoma State University

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October 26, 2021
Cennan Books of Cynren Press
Hardcover | $22.00 U.S.
ISBN: 978-1-947976-26-9


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Growing up in the rural impoverishment of post-Depression Oklahoma, and surrounded by feuding family factions, free-spirited Jacob Roland hungers for knowledge and a world beyond his reach.

But dark forces are growing in Jacob, twisting with the same ruthless, relentless power of a tornado across the Oklahoma prairies. Jacob battles against these aberrant forces, and, trapped by poverty and a growing mental illness, he is thwarted at every turn. For every light—a chance at college, the love of a poised, sophisticated woman—a greater darkness appears within him.

Failed by circumstance, community, and his own mental health, is there an escape for Jacob’s bright, wounded spirit, or will he forever be a prisoner of a particular madness?

". . . a tragic but compelling novel about psychological illness and poverty in post-Depression Oklahoma." —Catherine Thureson, Foreword Reviews

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Milford House Press
Trade Paperback and digital
ISBN-10: 1620064642
ISBN: 1620064641

TIME AND AGAIN Takes Reader into the Historic Cherokee Outlet

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First, there was the canyon. Then, there were the people who came.

Nod Blessing is the surviving heir of the Blessing Cattle Company, and he is making his way through the mysterious Cherokee Outlet. If he’s going to transport his year’s cash earnings, he’ll have to survive the darkness of the caverns.

Five powerful women are also traversing the canyon. They are strong in their determination to build the town of Bathsheba, a refuge for women. Along the way, their spirits threaten to break; their wills tested. It’s up to them to create their one true haven.

Marco wants the land. A surveyor accused of a crime he didn’t commit must overcome the drought and the impact of the Great Depression and a world at war, but deception is hiding around every bend.

Will these characters succeed, or, in the end, will they fall to the power of the canyon and its secrets? Time and Again is a metaphysical Western revealing historical answers hidden in plain sight.

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“. . . called by the publisher 'a metaphysical Western 'revealing historical answers hidden in plain sight.' Indeed, its story arc and message affirm that while individual lives end, evidence of their time on earth remains.” —K.M. Sandrick, Historical Novel Society

The Roadrunner Press
Hardcover and digital
ISBN: 978-1-937054-27-4

The Bridge Toll Murders

The Latest in the Acclaimed Hook Runyon Mystery Series:

They say a railroad is little more than a small town that stretches a thousand miles along a single winding iron thread. And as in any small town, gossip travels up and down the rail so fast it might as well be a telephone party line. So when a local boy turns up dead sixty miles down track under a bridge marked as a safe hobo camp, it quickly becomes Hook Runyon’s job to find out what happened before it hits the headlines of the local newspapers. The rail yard bull is dealing with the constraints of a new office job and the presence of a young aspiring criminologist from Back East, a mixture ripe for all hell breaking loose.

Winner of the Oklahoma Book Award for Fiction

". . . excellent . . . Russell has created a fully realized protagonist: a man who loves to read fiction . . . has experienced hard times as a former hobo, and knows the value of kindness. The often witty dialogue and seamless narrative prose carry the reader along to a satisfying resolution." —STARRED REVIEW, Publishers Weekly

Can also be purchased in hardcover or ebook formats for/from: