Friday, May 27, 2011


Who wouldn’t want to be the owner of the Governor’s Buckle?

It’s yours, if you win the top prize in the Kansas Cowboy Poetry Contest to be held on Saturday, June 11, at the Wabaunsee County Fairgrounds near Alma. There will be two categories: serious and humorous.

Contest begins at 10 a.m., with the winners to be announced at noon. Winners will read their winning entries and besides the buckle, will receive certificates signed by Governor Sam Brownback. Guidelines for contestants and judges were established by Geff Dawson of Alma, twice a national champion cowboy poet.

Details at


. . . where I left off.

This is not notice of a literary event (although we may write about it when we recover our wits), but my son and I survived the Joplin tornado, hunkered down on the kitchen floor of the IHOP restaurant at 20th and Rangeline.

That was several days ago. I'm back in Olathe now, more wary than ever of the weather. This dreary, cloudy afternoon I went to the grocery store. While in the back I thought I could hear the tornado warning sirens, cut short my shopping and headed for the front of the building. I think what I was hearing was some machinery whining out in the back, but I will never shrug off the warning sirens again.

Tuesday, May 17, 2011


The Great Overland Station in North Topeka announces “The Art of the Santa Fe Calendars” from 1907 to 1993, on loan from the collection of Harry J. Briscoe and now on display in the Fink Exhibit Gallery.

This remarkable collection of calendar art features stunning views of the Southwest landscape and culture of the Native American Indians of the day. The art was commissioned by the Atchison, Topeka and Santa Fe Railway, to create their annual calendars which were distributed throughout the country. Harry Briscoe, former General Manager of the AT&SF Eastern Lines in Topeka acquired the collection many years ago and continued to add to it.

The collection includes 84 calendars, beginning with the first in 1907 and ending with the last in 1993. A special addition is a display of the “Aztec Calendar” for January-June of 1900, a relatively unknown forerunner of the traditional Santa Fe calendars. The calendars are now on display in the Fink Exhibit Gallery at the Great Overland Station through the end of the year.

Harry Briscoe will be the honored guest at the special opening reception from 2-4 pm on Friday, May 20. Refreshments will be served. Admission is $4, complimentary for members of the Great Overland Station.

Can’t find the Great Overland Station? It’s at 701 North Topeka, facing the river, with a Veterans’ Memorial pavilion in front of the restored depot.

Tuesday, May 10, 2011


The title alone ought to arouse curiosity. One might ask, after the Apocalypse, who is going to be around to collect their mail? The ‘dead’ letters, written by people once alive tell the story of Post-Apocalypse Dead Letter Office, a debut novel by Nathan Poell.

A technical services librarian for Baker University in Baldwin City, Poell wrote the first draft of his novel as part of the National Novel Writing Month challenge. To provide ‘real’ examples of the dead letters, Poell recruited friends to use their own handwriting to copy the letters, which were then used as illustrations. (Hmmmmm, it all sounds like a novel concept about getting published.)

Monday, May 9, 2011


On June 8, 1966, a massive EF-5 tornado cut a 22-mile swath across eastern Kansas before smashing into Topeka. Bonar Menninger, author of And Hell Followed With It, invites anyone who was there to share their story on his website at

Menninger will be signing copies of the book at 2 pm on Sunday, May 15, at the Kansas City MO Central Library, 14 West 10th Street, Kansas City, MO. Go here
for information and reservations.

Sunday, May 8, 2011


Tasha Haas, a winner of the Langston Hughes Award for Fiction, and Mary Wharff, who helps coordinate the Big Tent events, will appear together for readings at 7:30 pm on Friday, May 13, at the Raven Book Store, 6 East 7th, Lawrence.

Certain Dawn, Inevitable Dawn: Stories is Tasha Hass’ first book. Hass grew up on a ranch in the flatlands of southwestern Kansas. Her work has appeared in many publications and journals. After traveling the world extensively, she now lives in Lawrence. She teaches at Kansas City, KS, Community College. Mary Wharff is a short story fan, and hopes for the return of the short story market. In the meantime, her works have appeared in numerous publications, including Canadian.


Dr. Jeffrey A. Klick will be at the Barnes and Noble book store at the Country Club Plaza, 420 West 47th Street in Kansas City, MO, at 3 pm on Saturday, May 14, to sign copies of his new book, Generational Impact, and to discuss the impact of the family on a child’s spiritual path.

Dr. Klick is senior pastor of Hope Family Fellowship at 2420 South 53rd Lane in Kansas City, KS. He blogs at

Saturday, May 7, 2011


The hard work of the librarians and volunteers at the Towanda Public Library has paid off with the receipt of the 2011 Award of the Friends of Kansas Libraries.

The library completed their automation project in 2010, and through numerous programs expanded community awareness of the library. Among other reasons for the award, the library added a complete set of William Allen White works to their holdings. Towanda is located, as you know, in Butler County, east of Wichita.

If you are a member of Kansas Authors Club, you have an opportunity to call attention to your favorite library by submitting a 400-word essay to (this is not a link, you'll have to keyboard it in to your e-mail program) before July 15, 2011. Some of the entries will be chosen for a poster, a sort of a writers’ collective thank-you, to our state libraries.

(Not a KAC member? It’s relatively cheap, and very easy, to join. Go to www, and follow the membership tab at the top of the page.)


Of the book, Redeeming Democracy in America, by Wilson Carey McWilliams, coming out in May, the publishers, the University Press of Kansas, writes: “His broad and iconoclastic approach to American politics should appeal to both conservatives and liberals – to anyone, in fact, who cares about the state of democracy in America.”

Wilson Carey McWilliams, who died in 2005, for thirty-five years was professor of political science at Rutgers University, and was the founding editor of the University Press of Kansas’ American Political Thought series.

This new books has been edited with an introduction by Patrick J. Deneen, associate professor of government, and Hellenic Studies at Georgetown University, and Susan J. McWilliams, assistant professor of politics at Pomona College, CA.

Friday, May 6, 2011


And the Kansas school children have chosen Swindle, by Gordon Korman, and The Boy Who Dared: A Novel Based on the True Story of Hitler Youth, by Susan Campbell Bartoletti, to receive the 2011 William Allen White Children’s Book Awards.

Gordon Korman is a very prolific children’s writer, all stemming from a seventh-grade writing assignment. Susan Campbell Bartoletti, also, has written many children’s books.

During the September 24 awards celebration, school children from across the state will travel to Emporia for special events, including a parade.


Roderick Townley and Wyatt Townley, husband-and-wife writers will read from their two new books at 7 pm on Thursday, May 12, at the
Raven Book Store
at 6 East 7th Street in Lawrence.

Roderick Townley’s new book is The Door in the Forest, a children’s fantasy novel. Learn all about it at the website (Warning: the Hoot Owl won’t hurt you, but beware of the dog that suddenly nips at your heels, and by all means stay away from the howling thing that lurks in the tree branches.)

In addition to being a poet,
Wyatt Townley
is also a dancer, a yoga instructor, and the founder of Yoganetics. Her new book of poems is The Afterlife of Trees.

Thursday, May 5, 2011


It’s a foregone conclusion, now that Janny Scott’s book, A Singular Woman: The Untold Story of Barack Obama’s Mother, is out there will be endless book reviews, many of them pointing out what the reviewer thinks is missing.

Stanley Ann Dunham lived a private life, wanting success in their lives for her children; she didn’t survive to know that her son now lives under one of the brightest spotlights in the world.

A line in an Obama speech has often been quoted, “I am the son of a black man from Kenya and a white woman from Kansas.” Why did he describe his mother as being from Kansas? The Dunhams moved as his mother was growing up, he could have said she was from Washington or Hawaii.

It really resonates with me that her birthplace was the army hospital at Fort Leavenworth during World War II. Many of her ancestors are buried in Kansas cemeteries, including Olathe and Lenexa.

I haven’t read the book yet, my TBR (to be read) list is quite long, but I am resolved that I’m not going to read the reviews.


(Definitions: Barnstorming was a popular form of entertainment at the dawn of aviation at which stunt pilots would perform tricks with airplanes. A barnstormer was a pilot who flew around the country selling airplane rides – if anyone dared – usually from a farmer’s field for a day or two before moving on a new audience.)

Before Tennessee-born Walter Beech settled down to become one of the founders of the Kansas aviation industry, he was a U.S. Army Air Corps pilot during World War I, and after the war spent three years barnstorming in the Midwest. When he founded the company Travel Air Manufacturing Company, one of the first employees was Olive Ann Mellor, a young business college graduate.

Dennis Farney, a retired Wall Street Journal reporter, has teamed up with Mary Lynn Oliver, a daughter of the Beeches, to write The Barnstormer and the Lady, the biographies of Walter and Olive Ann Beech, the founders of Beech Aircraft Company.

Both authors will be present at 6 pm on Wednesday, May 11, for a program at the National Archives Central Plains Region, 400 West Pershing Road, Kansas City, MO.

(Don’t know where to find Pershing Road? Think of the Liberty Memorial, at whose dedication on November 11, 1926, the United States was represented by General John Pershing, who is portrayed on the memorial in a bas relief statue. Pershing Road runs right to the north of the Liberty Memorial.)

Wednesday, May 4, 2011


Have you ever wanted to say thank-you to your favorite library?

Here’s your chance:

The newly-arrived Kansas Authors Club newsletter for Spring 2011 is in the mail with the announcement of a ‘Newsletter Writing Challenge.’

What do you love about your library? Do you write there? Do you read there? Do you simply love the smell of books and browsing? Are the librarians knowledgeable, resourceful, encouraging, willing to help you in any way they can? Submit your thoughts -- 400 words or less -- to by July 15, 2011. Your entry may be selected to be shared in future newsletters, or included in a poster.

You’re not a member of Kansas Authors Club, but would still like to express your appreciation for the friendly and helpful services provided by your favorite library? Not to worry, there is an easy remedy. Go to , which you may note is only a short cut to the mainsite, which is actually hosted by the Kansas Library web platform, skyways. (Another reason to appreciate our libraries.)

Figure out which district you live in – there are seven – and click on the Membership tab at the top of the page, and you will find all the information you need to become a member. The membership advantages are many, not the least of which is the camaraderie of the community of Kansas writers – we’re a very congenial lot.


(All right, I admit I stole this directly from Cheryl Unruh’s website,, and Cheryl says, “And, should you want to learn more about what there is to see and do in Kansas (and who doesn’t), the event of the year happens this weekend, the Kansas Sampler Festival. Head to Ray Miller Park, 4201 South 4th, in Leavenworth on May 7, 10 a.m. – 5 p.m. and May 8, 10 a.m. – 4 p.m. (Adults $5; Children 7-14, $3; under six, admitted free.) For more information visit http://www.kansas

Cheryl will be there, along with Mary A. Lake, Tom Dunn and Jancy Morgan, and Jerilynn (some day I’ll get her name spelled correctly) Henrikson, all in the Author’s Tent. Say hello to my granddaughter at the Great Overland Station booth, who hasn’t written a book, but she’s my granddaughter, and this is my blog.

Kansas’ First City, Leavenworth, will be especially festive this weekend.


This is the weekend for ‘Kanza Days’ in Winfield. “Come to the fairgrounds May 6-8 and enjoy exceptional music, food, arts and crafts, kids’ games, pedal power tractor pull, book sale, horse and pony rides, poker run,” a parade, AND the reading of the winning pieces of the Kansas Voices competition sponsored by Winfield Arts and Humanities in a banquet on Saturday, May 7.

(ALL of the winners were listed in a previous post, Wednesday, April 20, 2011.)


If you think farming is strictly a man’s world, you need to read Working the Land: The Stories of Ranch and Farm Women in the Modern American West, by Sandra K. Schackel, and soon to be published in May by the University Press of Kansas.

As Sandra Schackel, professor of history emeriti at Boise State University, listened to the women’s stories, “she found several currents running through their recollections, such as the satisfaction found in living the rural lifestyle, and the flexibility of gender roles. She also learned how resourceful women developed new ways to make their farms work – by including tourism, summer camps, and bed-and-breakfasts operations – and how many have become activists for land-based issues.”

Tuesday, May 3, 2011



Like most writers, I've applied for awards. I've won a few. Most wins come with a bit of booty in the form of cash or publication. But the Maureen Egen Writers Exchange Award is unusual in that it awards the winner with exactly what's needed--an introduction to agents, editors, and writers in New York City and a chance to give a public reading to an influential audience. This is exactly what's needed to jump start a career.

Kudos to Poet José Faus of Overland Park, Kansas, and fiction writer Sanda Moore Coleman, of Wichita, Kansas, this year's who are this year's winners.

It's not so shabby to be a runner-up either. Take me, for example. I'd spent a great deal of money on self-publishing and marketing my novel, The Burning Veil, which is set in Saudi Arabia around the time of 9/11 and is available on and at Although the novel was receiving some critical acclaim, and I was enjoying giving readings and speaking to book clubs, it wasn't making any money.

I couldn't help but worry I should find better uses for my money and time. If I was any good as a writer, wouldn't I be making some dough?

Being a runner-up for this prestigious award stopped all this fretting. Because of it I hold my head up high as a writer and don't worry about sales. No, I would NOT abandon my new book, not after judge Joan Silber comments on its first chapter: "a fine suspense haunts these pages. . . unsparing, authoritative prose."

So I'm going to keep on entering contests--at least the ones which are free or cost under $25. Why? Not just for the boost of confidence that comes with having one's work noted and approved by a discerning soul, but because it'll also make it easier to reach that golden goal, publication by a well-known firm.

I hope the other runners-up—poets, Michael U. Obenieta from Topeka, Pat Daneman from Lenexa, and fiction writer Patricia Lawson, from Kansas City feel the same.


And the winner in the professional category, fourth week of the To The Stars Poetry Contest is Denise Low, with Columbarium Garden, Number 55.

We’re about one-third of the way to the final total of 150 poems to celebrate Kansas’ Sesquicentennial Year. I’ve heard through the grapevine that at the end of the year, all of the poems will be collected into one spectacular volume – now that will be something to treasure. Read the poems as they are posted at


Even more places where you can purchase a copy of Kansas City Voices:

Naomi’s Hallmark Shop, 12128 Shawnee Mission Parkway, (at Quivira), Shawnee
Hallmark Cards at the 119th Valley View Parkway store (not quite sure of this location myself, will try to have a better address).
Beauty Brands, 4600 Madison, Kansas City, MO
Webster House, 1644 Wyandotte Street, Kansas City, MO (and the site of a KC Voices program on August 27, click on the KCVoices website below).
Great Day Café, 7921 Santa Fe Drive, (near the clock tower) Overland Park, (and the site of a KC Voices program on June 16)
Perfect Smiles Dental Care, 8650 Candlelight Lane, Lenexa

Check out the coming events, AND, if you are a writer, the Whispering Prairie Press Writer’s Conference on July 23, plus the guidelines for submissions to the 2011 issue at


Winner of the last week of the To The Stars Poetry Contest is Nancy Hubble, with a poem entitled There! There!

This poem, Number 54 on the list, really needs to be seen, take a look at the shape at

Monday, May 2, 2011


P.L. Gaus, author of The Amish-Country Mystery Series, will be speaking and signing at 2 pm on Saturday, May 7, at I Love A Mystery bookstore at 6114 Johnson Drive in Mission.

One of the mysteries, Blood of the Prodigal, is an upcoming selection of the Murder in the Afternoon Book club. (If you’ve never been to I Love A Mystery before, be prepared – skeletons, and spooks and ghosts abound).

Other books in the series, set in Ohio, are Broken English, Clouds without Rain, Cast a Blue Shadow, A Prayer for the Night, Separate from the World, and coming soon, the seventh, Harmless as Doves.


Well, I don’t want to delay any longer in urging you to attend the Topeka First Friday Artwalk, and visit Max and Carol Yoho at Lloyd Zimmer’s Books and Maps, 117 SW 6th Avenue, on Friday evening, May 6, but the truth is, I lost the flyer Lloyd gave me when I visited the store last week.

What I do know already is that Max is a very entertaining guy, and you’ll enjoy talking with him and reading any of his books, the newest of which is With the Wisdom of Owls. After you read that, you’ll want to go back and feast on Max’s previous works as described on the

Carol is a photographer and an artist. See her websites at HERE and HERE.


Heard about the annual literary and arts publication, Kansas City Voices, but don’t know where you can buy a copy?

Do not despair. Rolland Love, story-teller, historic re-enactor, and magazine publications sales person extraordinaire, has sent me the following list:

Borders, 91st and Metcalf, Overland Park (closing but still open for the moment -- hurry!)
Mack Hardware, 6004 Johnson Drive, Mission
I Love a Mystery, 6114 Johnson Drive, Mission
Mystery and Books Plus, 6104 Johnson Drive, Mission
50 States Bird Feeder, 6500 Martway, Mission
Olive Branch, 7915 Santa Fe Drive, Overland Park
Prospero’s Books, 1800 West 39th Street, Kansas City, MO
Mission Hills Jewelry, 5832 Johnson Drive, Mission
Bruce Smith Drug Store, #25 on the Mall, Prairie Village
Images Art Gallery, 7320 W. 80th Street
Raven Bookstore, 6 East 7th, Lawrence
Signs of Life Art and Books, 7th and Massachusetts, Lawrence
Travel Concepts, 9324 Rosner Drive, Lenexa
Rainy Day Books, 2706 West 53rd, Fairway

If you are strictly a reader, pick up a copy for sheer enjoyment (I’m sure my essay about grasshoppers will be the first thing you want to read). If you’re a writer, go to and read the 2011 contest guidelines. Deadline for entries is June 30, 2011.

Sunday, May 1, 2011


That would be Max Yoho, author of The Wisdom of Owls, The Moon Butter Route (my favorite), and numerous other works, see his website at>

Max will be honored, along with other winners, at the ARTSConnect ARTY Awards Event on beginning at 5:30 pm Thursday, May 5, at the Topeka Civic Theatre & Academy. For ticket prices, reservations, information, etc., go to>


Stephen Fried, author of Appetite for America: How Visionary Businessman Fred Harvey Built a Railroad Empire that Civilized the Wild West, will revisit some Fred Harvey locations and will be speaking on Thursday, May 19, at the Kansas City (MO) Public Library, and Friday, May 20, at the Leavenworth County Historical Society.

For details, check his blog ‘A Blog About All Things Harvey’.

The Fred Harvey home on Olive Street in Leavenworth is undergoing extensive restoration. The home is currently not open for tours, but may be visited under special arrangements.