Friday, December 31, 2010


Sometime tomorrow morning I will open my Kansas Calendar to January, a photograph of a glorious sunset over a field of snow.

It reminds me of other sunsets, a time when my son and I were living and working in Missouri some 30 miles from the state line. A Kansas-born army brat, he may have felt that he was held in exile. Some evenings after a long, bruising day at work, we would retreat to a hilltop restaurant alongside I-44. We would chose a booth at the western windows. If I would remark on the beauty of the sunset, he would invariably reply -- "It's a Kansas sunset."

The Kansas Calendar comes out with the Fall issue, but selections are made in April. Go to Guidelines to read instructions for freelance photographers.

Thursday, December 30, 2010


Not only do you get a great, suspenseful story, you catch some of the atmosphere of Leavenworth, Kansas' First City, in Quad Delta, from the pen and notepad computer of Bob Spear.

Retired Army Intelligence Lieutenant Colonel, Enos Hobson, is hired to
discover what has happened to a $2.5 million family trust of a military
widow and her general officer son. Hobson, a severely damaged PTSD
victim of the first Gulf War, is faced with an evil Satanic group, Quad
Delta, and assisted by a list of fascinating characters, which includes
his Rhodesian Ridgeback hound, Sheba.

Order from The Book Barn, or drop by at 410 Delaware in the heart of downtown.

Wednesday, December 29, 2010


Reaona Hemmingway will be talking about her three novels, Baseball Card Hero, September 11 and Mariah, and her collection of short stories, Home for Christmas, on Sunday, January 9, 2-3 pm in the Topeka Room of the Topeka and Shawnee County Library. A book signing will follow the author talk.

The library website describes the Topeka room as the home to many novels by Kansas authors. I've been lucky enough to be in the library for a few meetings, with never enough time left to explore. Next time, I'll make time for the Topeka Room.

Tuesday, December 28, 2010


My quick run along 39th street has gotten me no closer to figuring out where the Tsil Cafe might have been.

If I were a librarian, I would have difficulty trying to decide where to shelve this book -- amongst the novels or the cookbooks? The menu of the Tsil Cafe consisted only of foods from the New World. There's a recipe for Cranberry Pesto, but I wonder how popular an item that might have been. I used to belong to a Hispanic civic organization, and I loved to take cranberry sauce to the Christmas potluck -- mostly they had no idea what cranberries were, or didn't like them if they did.

Besides the recipes, there is a charming story here, a young boy growing up, reaching his twenties, becoming a . . . naw, you don't think I'm going to put a spoiler in here, do you?

The life-span of the Tsil Cafe was apparently 20 years -- probably during my stay-at-home, make peanut-butter-and-jelly sandwich days, and I'll never know where the Tsil Cafe was.

Monday, December 27, 2010


Tacos are simple fare, compared to the exotic dishes produced at the Tsil CafĂ©. And avocados? I never knew there were so many ways to serve an avocado -- with gooseberries? Back home in southern California we had a very tall avocado tree in our side yard. Mother never permitted us to climb the tree; we had to wait until the fruit fell to the sandy ground, after which we could consume the fruit with all its’ tree-ripened glory (which made me quite intolerant of avocados picked too soon).

But food -- although there is a delectable recipe on every fourth or fifth page -- is only part of the story in this readable tale of two competitive cooks, and their son, who is caught in the middle. It’s a very easy read, except I will admit that about page 134 I had to put the book down so I could make an emergency run to my nearest tex-mex eatery for some carry-out. (More to come.)

Sunday, December 26, 2010


"A Belt Buckle for Camilla" is Tom Mach's lovely Christmas story, published on Christmas Day in the Lawrence Journal World. It's hard to find on their website, but THIS LINK might get you there.

Saturday, December 25, 2010


Prowling the shelves of the Olathe Library, it's not surprising that a book by Thomas Fox Averill would be the first that comes to hand.

I'm pretty sure the Tsil Cafe wasn't on 39th Street when I arrived in Kansas City in the late 40's. Otherwise, I would have found it.

I asked my new friends where I could go to get some tacos and was met with blank expressions. Most of them didn't even understand that I was talking about food.

Klee's Pharmacy, across 39th Street from Kansas City Junior College, sold school supplies along with medicines, not food. The Cooks, old friends of my parents, were running a restaurant in a home, but it was south of 39th Street on Warwick, and the food was decidedly down-home American.

Between KCJC and Main there was a Chines dry-cleaner who was not afraid to match his abacus against the math students and their adding machines. Maybe the Tsil Cafe was closer to the Alcazar Hotel(I think that's the correct name), a very classy place in its heyday.

I may find some clues as I read along in the book, and I might also be able to invent an errand across the state line and do some exploring along 39th street -- something might jog my memory. (To be continued.)

Thursday, December 23, 2010


Here it is: An early New Year's Resolution. I'm going to read my way through the map of Kansas literature. As best I can.

I got something of a start earlier this fall when I wanted to read something of William Allen White. I had a recommendation from a White scholar, who suggested Masks in a Pageant. I found it in the Olathe Library, in the Kansas room, which I thought meant it could not be checked out. I tried to get a copy on interlibrary loan, and was informed that the Olathe Library could not ask to borrow the book from another library, because the library already owned a copy!

Long story short, the library did allow me to borrow the book, a special privilege, I thought, and although they checked it out to me for a two-week period, I had it back in very short order. Don't want to blemish an otherwise pretty good record with the library.

My resolution? I'll start with what I can find on the shelves of the Olathe library, and make my way from there.

Wednesday, December 22, 2010


Literature has the power to unify “without regard for languages, beliefs, habits, customs or prejudices." Mario Vargas Llosa spoke to both readers and writers in the speech he gave on the occasion of being awarded the 2010 Nobel Prize for Literature in early December.

Fiction, he said, is indispensable if civilization is to continue to exist: “Without fiction, man would be less aware of the importance of freedom if life is to be livable, and of the hell it becomes when taken over by a tyrant, an ideology, or a religion.”

Tuesday, December 21, 2010


Just found an incredibly fascinating website -- the Map of Kansas Literature a Work in Progress.

There are links to Kansas Literature by place or by author, as well as additional websites of Kansas Fictional Towns, an Overview of Kansas Literature, and an explanation of how and why the map was created and why it is still a work in progress.

I didn't move to Kansas until I was an adult, so I missed many of the things studied in Kansas schools -- seems like I have a lot of catching up to do. How long is it going to take me to read all the books listed on these websites?

Monday, December 20, 2010

HARDWARE STORE? hhhmmmmmmm !

Rolland Love, salesman extraordinaire for Kansas City Voices, says sales have been best at Mack Hardware store on Johnson Drive in Mission.

Selling magazines is a sideline for Rolland. He's better-known for co-authoring, with Mary-Lane Kamberg, Ozark Meals and Memories.

Sunday, December 19, 2010


Need a last minute gift? How about Volume 8 of Kansas City Voices, a periodical of writing and art, just out. The writing? Prose and poetry from regional writers. The art? Paintings and photographs from regional painters and photographers. Included are several Pushcard nominees.

Available for $9.95 at Border’s at 91st and Metcalf in Overland Park,
Mack Hardware, I Love a Mystery and Books Plus on Johnson Drive in Mission, 50 States Bird Feeder Store on Martway in Mission, the Tasteful Olive at 7945 Santa Fe Drive in downtown Overland Park, Prospero's Books at 1800 W 39th St, Kansas City, MO, Mission Hills Jewelry Store, 5832 Johnson Drive, Mission, and Bruce Smith Drug Store - #25 on the Mall – Prairie Village.

But those hard-working editors at Whispering Prairie Press are already hard at work, planning next year's volume. Submissions will be accepted until February 28, 2011. Go to Kansas City Voices and click on "Submissions" for the guidelines.

Saturday, December 18, 2010


Tom Mach Says: "Merry Christmas to all you hard-working writers !!

Did you know that Santa Claus was also a writer? Sure was. He makes a lists and checks it twice, trying to see who was naughty or nice. (I guess you can say his previous job was an editor!)

(Thanks, Tom, for your greeting, which I will personally take to heart, because I have been working hard, and actually getting some words on paper, but as for all of you slackers, who are NOT hard-working writers, I'll bet Tom has a lump of coal for you.)

Friday, December 17, 2010


Run out of ideas? Don't know what to get for that last person on your list -- you know, the one who is always so hard to please?

Sign up for the I Love a Mystery "Book of the Month" club. The recipient will receive a new book every month, you choose the kind of book -- favorite authors, or types of books, example, cozy (those are my favorites), British, espionage, thriller, or the recipient chooses.

Multiple options are available, level of commitment, length of time, you'll be billed only when the book is shipped, etc., check them out at I Love A Mystery and click on the BOTM link on the left.

HINT: The recipient will probably be so grateful for your thoughtful gift, you'll be next in line to read the book -- AFTER THEY HAVE FINISHED.

Thursday, December 16, 2010


Goodreads is giving away six free copies of Michelle Black's The Second Glass of Absinthe. You can register by going to Michelle's blog, The Victorian West. The contest closes on December 19.

Michelle is also the author of An Uncommon Enemy. Her Seance in Sepia (sorry I can't put an accent mark over the first "e" in Seance) will be out in 2011.

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

KANSAS BOOK OF 2009 or 2010?

Nominations will be received until March 1, 2011 for the Byron Caldwell Smith Book Award. Kansas authors who have published a book in 2009 or 2010 can be nominated (or self-nominated) for this prestiguous biennial award. To be eligible, the author must have been a Kansas resident, or employed in Kansas at the time of the book's publication.

The award includes a prize of $1,500, and the author must be prepared to deliver a public talk on the subject of the book. More details at KU Hall Center for the Humanities.

Tuesday, December 14, 2010


As a tribute to the William Allen White family's reputation for hospitality, the history home will be open from 2-4 pm on Sunday, December 19 The admission fee of $2 includes tours of the home decorated for Christmas, refreshments, and a performance by Emporia High School's Viva Voce.

The William Allen White House is one of the 16 state historic sites operated by the Kansas Historical Society.

Monday, December 13, 2010


Author Greg Kincaid will be on home territory on Sunday, December 18, from 2-4 pm at the Olathe Indian Creek Branch Library. Greg will be talking and signing both A Dog Named Christmas and Christmas with Tucker. The Indian Creek branch is at 12990 South Black Bob. Books can be brought for signing, or can be bought during the event, but you do need to make a reservation by calling 913-971-6888.

Sunday, December 12, 2010


James P. Wilcox will be signing copies of Sex, Lies and the Classroom, as well as copies of his newest novel, The M-16 Agenda, at 1 pm. on Saturday, December 18, at the Borders at 15350 W 119th in Olathe -- close to the intersection of 119th and Strang Line Road.

I confess to not being familiar with either book, but from the blurbs, they sound like two quite different stories. Check out the author's website at James P. Wilcox .

Saturday, December 11, 2010


No one could write that except the jolly old gent himself, but if you will go to the Johnson County Central Resource Library from 7-8:15 pm on Tuesday, December 14, you'll have the chance to put your question to Jeff Guinn, the author of The Autobiography of Santa Claus.

Jeff Guinn knows a lot about Santa Claus and Christmas, in fact, Jeff has written The Great Santa Search, How Mrs. Claus Saved Christmas, and The Christmas Chronicles, adult fiction titles.

(Jeff looks like a regular guy, but I've always wondered what Santa would look like traveling incognito.)

Friday, December 10, 2010


If you went to the Kansas Authors Club convention in Lawrence, and fully intended to write something for the "Newsletter Writing Challenge" now's the time to get out your notes and start writing.

You remember the challenge: pick out someone new at the convention to get acquainted with, exchange ideas about your writing goals, and write 300 words or less. Follow the guidelines, send your piece by e-mail to Tracy Million Simmons at and your name will be put in a drawing.


Thursday, December 9, 2010


Who wouldn't enjoy a bit of well-mannered frivolity?

So be at The Raven Bookstore at 6 East 7th Street in Lawrence at 5 pm on Sunday, December 12, for readings from (or for -- I'm not sure which) KU's new literary magazine, Beecher's.

There will be readings of very short, community-themed pieces and a chance to subscribe to the new publication. Curious? Go to Beecher's #1 .


In just a few hours a Peruvian, Mario Vargas Llosa, will receive the 2010 Nobel Prize for Literature.

In his acceptance speech three days ago, he spoke eloquently about the power of literature: " . . . which unites us without regard for languages, beliefs, habits, customs or prejudices."

Fiction, Vargas Llosa said, "is indispensable if civilization is to continue to exist. Without fiction, man would be less aware of the importance of freedon if life is to be livable, and of the hell it becomes when taken over by a tyrant, an ideology, or a religion."

It matters, a great deal, what we as writers do, what we write, and that is the message that Mario Vargas Llosa is sending to the entire world.

Wednesday, December 8, 2010


"Nicholas allows himself to be secreted away into a life that he thinks will give his existence meaning and pit him against those who place themselves above the law. Instead, he finds himself at war with his own principles — fearful he will become the enemy he has sworn to fight."

I stole that right from the middle of a review of Joe Washington's debut novel, Three Lives. You can read more on Joe's website. OR, you can talk to Joe himself (and buy his book) from 11am to 1pm on Saturday, December 11, at The Book Barn at 410 Delaware in Leavenworth.

Tuesday, December 7, 2010


Joe Washington of Olathe will be signing his debut novel, Three Lives, from 11am to 1pm on Saturday, December 11, at The Book Barn, 410 Delaware in Leavenworth.

A reviewer writes: "At the core of Joe Washington's debut novel is Nicholas Gambit, a young African American hero in training that hails from the center of the nation, Kansas City." (I love those novels that take you to some place you have never been, but they're still not as compelling as the stories that let you travel along with the hero to places and streets that have a familiar ring.)


The Town Crier in Emporia will be open from 8 pm to midnight on Thursday, December 9 as part of the business district's Holiday Open House. Stop by the Town Crier for hot cider and cookies and expert advice on your book selections. If you've never been to the Town Crier, 716 Commercial Street, take a look at the new picture on their website at Town Crier . They're really ready for the Christmas season.

Monday, December 6, 2010


Robert Collins was at Alternative Realities Games and Entertainment with the Sagas of Surgard in Wichita on Sunday afternoon, and I failed to get anything posted. My fault.

You don't know about the Sagas of Surgard? You need to check out Robert Collins' site at Surgard the Northerner, a collector of tales, or talk to Robert on his BLOG.

(Hmmmmm, foolish giants, duplicitous wizards, suspicious savages, a monster with an attorney????)


You can catch Mark Bouton tonight, December 6, at the Lawrence Public Library, 797 Vermont, talking and signing his new book, How to Spot Lies Like the FBI. (Sorry for the delay in posting, Comcast was unavailable for several hours.)

Saturday, December 4, 2010


The Kansas City Voices literary magazine launch was a delightful event this afternoon at the Johnson County Central Resource Library. The painters brought their original paintings, there were prose and poetry readings, and time for autographying and just plain visiting and chatting.

The magazines are available now, click on Subscriptions . The contributors are the only ones who get paid, everyone else who works are volunteers, including the sales staff, so it would be immensely helpful if you could persuade your favorite book vender, coffeeshop barista, or sock merchant to add KC Voices to their merchandise mix.

KC Voices began as a publication centered on the Kansas City region, but today "we encourage submissions from anywhere in the world". Check the Submission guidelines , the deadline is February 28, 2011.

This year's issue -- volume eight -- is an extremely worthy publication, but next year's will be even better if it has one of YOUR pieces in it. Get busy.

Friday, December 3, 2010


Six popular authors all in one place to sign their books! The open house from 2-4 pm on Saturday, December 4 at I Love A Mystery , 6114 Johnson Drive in Mission, will be a rare event.

Here's the WHOLE list: Nancy Pickard, Sally Goldenbaum, Suzanne Arruda ....

Joel Goldman (There's a unique twist in Joel's new book, No Way Out, for any mediators in the audience), Michelle Black , whose special venue is The Victorian West . Couldn't find a link for W.R "Bill" Park, but he'll be there, too. (Bill, send me a link, and I'll add it to the post - thanks.)


Dr. Kipp Van Camp will be signing Always Allie from 1-3 pm on Saturday, December 4, at The Book Barn at 410 Delaware in Leavenworth.

is a Bichon Frise who stole the hearts of the Van Camp family, on the way Always Allie teaching them about life, relationships and adversity.

Thursday, December 2, 2010


Don't get confused -- there's more than one Tucker. There's the friendly, talking, in-house Tucker at The Book Barn at 410 Delaware in Leavenworth. I've never heard Tucker speak, but I know that he can because the top of The Book Barn flyers feature a picture of Tucker and the words "Tucker says . . ."

Then there's the Tucker of Greg Kincaid's new book, Christmas with Tucker, the prequel to A Dog Named Christmas. Greg will be signing from 11 am to 1 pm on Saturday, December 4.

I can't imaqine Hallmark not showing the special for-tv movie A Dog Named Christmas again this season.

Wednesday, December 1, 2010


For sure Michelle Black, whose mysteries are set in the Victorian West, will be there, and Nancy Pickard and Sally Goldenbaum, and probably several other of your favorite authors at I Love a Mystery, 6114 Johnson Drive in Mission on Saturday, December 4. Things start at 2 pm and continue until 4 pm, so I recommend you get there early because you'll probably still be visiting and chatting two hours later!