Sunday, July 31, 2011


Poets Jo McDougall and William Trowbridge will share a reading program at 7 pm on Tuesday, August 16, for the Poetry Reading Series and The Writers Place at the Johnson County Central Resource Library, 9875 W 87th St., Overland Park.

A couple of phrases from one of Trowbridge’s poems mentions the “half-hour work week” and a “truly bottomless Margarita.” Now, I’d like to hear more about both of those delightful concepts. He teaches in the MFA writing program at the University of Nebraska.

Jo McDougall’a newest book, Daddy’s Money: A Memoir of Farm and Family, has just been published by the University of Arkansas Press. She will be making appearances at the Corinth Library in September and at Pittsburg in October. Daddy’s Money is “a poet’s story of the land that shaped her life,” the delta rice country of southeast Arkansas.

'Wagon Train to Freedom'

Despite the Fugitive Slave Act of 1850, which required that runaway slaves be returned to their owners, many blacks successfully fled Southern slave states and made their way north, sometimes into Canada.

A childrens’ book, Wagon Train to Freedom is the account of slaves in 1860 escaping through the Underground Railroad through Kansas, written by Todd Mildfelt of Richmond. Mildfelt is also the author of The Secret Danites: Kansas’ First Jayhawkers, available at Kansas Museum of History, 6245 SW 6th Avenue in Topeka.


Speaking of libraries, here’s what I just found on Hazel Spire’s blog:

The public library is one of the first places I visit after moving to a new town. I've enjoyed some fine libraries of all shapes and sizes on three continents.

Hazel Spire will be a workshop presenter for the Kansas Authors Club convention October 7-9 in Coffeyville, with the topics of “Rock Road to Fame,” and “Three Ways to Shape Your Memoir.” And in the meantime, you can find more about Hazel on her website, which includes a link to her blog.

Saturday, July 30, 2011


Don’t take your local library for granted.

The Kansas Authors Club Summer/Fall newsletter just arrived, and has reminded me all over again of the importance of public libraries in our daily lives. Four KAC members (me included) have written essays about a favorite library; other essays will be included in future newsletters.

Doris Schroeder and Paula Nixon have written about a child’s delight at being in a library. My family moved often during my childhood, and at the first opportunity in each new place, my mother made sure I had a library card. Every library was completely different, but in every one of them I always felt at home.

Paula’s essay, and the one by Steven Laird, speak of the efforts of civic groups, or sometimes individuals, to obtain a library for their community. Even in recent times I’ve witnessed dedicated campaigns to create a library where one did not exist before.

One library was opened with books that were the discards of a bigger urban library. Another group declared that since the county library system did not provide a library for their community, they were going to do it themselves, and set about acquiring a former bank building.

If you live in an area served by a public library, you owe a debt of gratitude to those persons, maybe several decades in the past, who worked to establish it. If you feel that your community is under-served, well, you gather some friends together, form a committee, start giving talks, and working at fund-raisers. It can be done.

Friday, July 29, 2011

Pickard, Goldenbaum, Goldman, Oh, My !

Three of the midwest’s best known mystery novelists will be together at the same place for a joint presentation about writing mysteries.

Nancy Pickard, Sally Goldenbaum and Joel Goldman, great conversationalists all, will be at the Lewis and Shirley White Theater, Jewish Community Campus, 5801 W 115th Street, Overland Park, from 2-3 pm on Sunday, August 14. Reservations requested, call 913-826-4600.

I think I first picked up a flyer about this at I Love A Mystery, always an ardent supporter of local writers.

Job, Jobs, Jobs: Rats, Sharks and The Footmen

The August issue of The Best Times is out, and Gloria Christie takes us on a nostalgic journey through memories of places that have disappeared in her article, “The Way We Were.” Places like the dime store, or the general store.

She concludes with mention of a favorite place, the I Love a Mystery bookstore in Mission, which, sadly, is about to lock the doors. No doubt Gloria was writing her article as the painful decision was being made to close the store.

Oh, and about those rats, sharks and jobs? I hope the title caught your eye, because that’s the name of Gloria’s new book about surviving through difficult economic times. Check her website at!

Thursday, July 28, 2011


Still trying to get all twenty poets’ names included in the ‘labels’ list. The list I have is in alphabetical order by last name, but blogspot likes to alphabetize by first name.

(Did I ever tell you about the time I applied for a temporary job, and FAILED the alphabetization test? Bummer.)


More about Tallgrass Voices in the post below, but I’ll say here that I really liked the introduction by Gary Lechliter, the editor, telling the reader not to expect the hackneyed images of Kansas, but “earthy plainsongs from the flyover state.”

And this post will continue the listing of more of the poets under “labels”. It’s tricky, but each separate post only allows 200 characters for listing the “labels”, in this case the names of the contributing poets.

So, here we go picking up with Jamie Heller . . .


Have you gotten a copy of Tallgrass Voices yet? Published by Tom Mach’s publishing company, Hill Song Press, edited by Gary Lechliter, and with a cover photograph by Dave Leiker from the Flyover People Photo Collections, Tallgrass Voices includes poetry from members of the Kansas Authors Club.

The project started with members of KAC District 2, and eventually included a few poets from the rest of the state. There is a photo of each contributing member, plus a brief biography, and four poems, or several haiku. (Shameless Promotion: I’m one of the poets, starting on page 105, and I really struggled trying to decide which four poems of my favorites I would choose.)

Where to buy? Each of the contributing poets are handling sales, and that includes (take a deep breath) Roy Beckemeyer, Cathy Callen, Brian Daldorph, Ann Everett, Jean Grant, Anne Haehl, Jamie Heller, Nancy Hubble, Sally Jadlow, Carole Katsantoness, Gary Lechliter, Tom Mach, Marie Marshall, Lee Mick, Ronda Miller, Peg Nichols, Diane Palka, Kristine Polansky, Mark Scheel and Pat Walkenhorst.

If you know any of these talented poets, tap her/him on the shoulder and tell them you’d like to buy a copy. Oh, yes, there will be a couple of readings at The Raven in Lawrence in September.


How to describe a Hullabaloo Sale? Best in the words of a hullabalooer himself: Zimmer’s Books and Maps, who writes in Facebook:

• FYI: I am having my annual Hullabaloo Sale Today through Saturday (7/28-30), with well over 1000 Topeka related items, including books, antique maps, post cards, photographs, and other emphemera. 50% off of everything priced UNDER $20.00 and 20% off everything else.

Zimmer’s, at 117 SW 6th Avenue, is a great intersection for writers and readers in Topeka and surrounding area. (With comfortable chairs just inside the front door – try them out.)


Drat! I spent so much time trying to find out what is a Hullabaloo that now it’s Thursday instead of Wednesday when I intended to get this post on the blog.

Lots of things will be going on in downtown Topeka, Thursday through Saturday, including special sales at Lloyd Zimmer, Books and Maps at 117 SW 6th Avenue. If you’re a Kansas history geek, or a Topeka history geek, Zimmer’s is the place you need to be.

Wednesday, July 27, 2011


Author Danyelle Ferguson will sign copies of her debut book, (dis)Abilities and the Gospel: A Guide for Parents and Teachers, during a benefit book fair from 10 to 4 on Saturday, July 30, at
Barnes and Noble, 11323 West 95th Street, Overland Park (Oak Park Mall).

Characters from favorite children’s books will be seen during the six-hour event.

From The Johnson County Sun: “Proceeds from the book fair will benefit
CYT's H.E.A.R.T program (Helping to Encourage Awareness and Recognition in Theater),
a full inclusion program that provides individuals with special needs the opportunity to participate in classes, shows and camps alongside their peers. The funds raised will be used to provide scholarships.”

Tuesday, July 26, 2011


Over in Salina, where recent temperatures have reached 109, Stan Cox gets by very nicely, thank you, without air-conditioning.

And Stan recommends, in his new book, Losing Our Cool: Uncomfortable Truths About Our Air-Conditioned World (and Finding new Ways to Get Through The Summer), that the rest of us sweltering Kansans should do the same.

In fact, says Stan Cox: “The dizzying rise of air-conditioning comes at a steep personal and societal price. We stay inside longer, exercise less, and get sick more often.” I agree with you, Stan, and I’m going to turn off my air-conditioning – at least by the end of September.


When? This Thursday, July 28, at 7 pm, at The Raven, you know where, 6 East 7th, north side of the street, around the corner from Mass. You’ll hear Amanda Hemmingsen, Lavina Roberts and Allison Rose Lopez.

Amanda Hemmingsen is about to start her final year as an undergrad at KU. She’s excited to be taking whatever English classes she fancies. Next year she hopes to be gearing up for grad school. In her spare time she likes to watch Star Trek, cook curries and crochet afghans. She’s loved poetry ever since 3rd grade when she wrote her first limerick.

Allison Lopez, director/founder of the Omaha Young Writers Project, reads from In My Shoes: Teen Reflections on Hope & the Future.

What happens when adults ask teenagers what is going on in their lives and then really listen to the answers? Once the teens trust that the adults are sincere and accepting, this book is what can happen. Written by two classes of seniors at Omaha South High Magnet School with the support of 29 volunteer writing mentors, this collection of personal essays reveals some of the issues American teens face every day but often keep to themselves. These insightful students share experiences of survival, the reasons for their dreams and their secret hopes for their lives. This book was produced by The Omaha Young Writers Project using the philosophies of the Freedom Writers and 826 Valencia as inspiration and guidance.

Monday, July 25, 2011


The story of Fort Riley soldiers was the choice as the “common book” for the school year 2010-2011 at Century College at White Bear Lake in Minnesota.

The Good Soldiers was written by David Finkel, who spent eight months with the battalion of 800 Fort Riley soldiers, known as the 2-16, when the battalion deployed to Rustamiya, Iraq. Finkel’s book has been described as “heartbreaking, challenging, honest, and ‘the best book on war since the Illiad’.”


Everybody who will be anybody in the freshman class at K-State University this fall, that is.

What a neat idea! It isn’t required, but all incoming freshmen have been encouraged to read a “common book,” in this case the account of a Syrian-American immigrant, a contractor and painter, who was in New Orleans during Katrina, and remained there afterwards. The book was written by Dave Eggers. A Heartbreaking Work of Staggering Genius was Eggers first book.

Who gets to choose next year’s book? Let’s hope it’s the outgoing freshmen who get to pick what the class that follows them will read.

Tuesday, July 19, 2011


Eric Elder, author of Sometimes You Eat the Bear, will return to Lawrence on Friday, July 22, for an appearance at 7 pm at The Raven, 6 East 7th.

The folks at The Raven write: Eric Elder is a writer/musician who lives in Bellingham, Washington. He grew up in Wichita and attended the University of Kansas in Lawrence, gaining a degree in English Literature. While in Lawrence, he performed with the country-rock group, Treefrog, from 1970-1977. These times and many more are recounted in Eric’s first full-length book, a memoir, Sometimes You Eat the Bear. The book is graphic, intensely personal, and deals throughout with his struggle with major depression and manic-depression.

Previously published in ALOHA, the Magazine of Hawaii, New World Outlook, and The Disciple, Eric is also the author of many songs. Two were recorded by country star Tommy Overstreet, one by Norwegian pop-rocker Hilde Heltberg, and many by his own groups. He is also an ordained minister in the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) and served churches in youth and children’s ministries for twenty years.

Eric has lived in Nashville, Tennessee; Austin, Texas; Kansas; Oslo, Norway; Lexington, Kentucky; Hawaii; Colorado; and currently the Pacific Northwest. He is a member of NAMI (National Alliance on Mental Illness) and is interested in working for further education and help for the mentally ill in our country. He has two grown children: Chris and Becky.

DRAT ! Where did I put those Ruby Slippers?

I had forgotten I was wearing red shoes one night at Midway Airport in Chicago. The departure of the flight to Kansas City was long delayed. A weary fellow traveler abruptly turned to me and commented, “You’ve got no problem. All you have to do is click your heels together and chant ‘There’s No Place Like Home’ and you won’t be waiting around here like the rest of us.”

Well, if you’re already in Kansas, clicking your heels together won’t get you anywhere, so fire up the heat on your hot-air balloon and get yourself over to Lawrence at 7 pm tonight to hear Tracy Seeley, author of My Ruby Slippers: The Road Back to Kansas. At the Raven. 6 East 7th.


Well, it will be tomorrow by the time I get this event posted to the blog, meaning Tuesday, July 19, at 7 pm at the Johnson County Central Resource Library at 9875 W 87th Street in Overland Park.

You’ll hear Trish Reeves, professor of English at Haskell Indian National University in Lawrence, who also leads literature seminars at Johnson County Corrections facilities, and Linda Rodriguez, whose new novel, Every Last Secret, won the 2011 Malice Domestic First Novel Award. More information at The Writers’ Place calendar.

Monday, July 18, 2011


Get out of that summer slump by attending the Whispering Prairie Press Creativity Conference this coming Saturday in the cool, air-conditioned comfort of Edwards Campus at 127th and Quivira in Overland Park, 8:30 am to 4:40 pm

Keynoter will be Thomas Fox Averill, with workshops by Bob Chrisman, Sally Jadlow and Rolland Love, Susan Peters and Erin York – this cast of writing coaches will get those creative juices flowing. For prices, registration information and other questions, go to

Friday, July 15, 2011


Cassandra Swiderski will discuss her Depression Era novel set in Kansas, Passengers, at the Dodge City Public Library at 7 pm on Wednesday, July 20.

The cover for the book shows a railroad line vanishing into the distance, always an evocative image, but in the foreground is an intersecting set of railroad tracks – wonder what image that is intended to evoke?


We’re all trying to absorb the news that I Love A Mystery book store is closing. But before that happens, Suella and Lawrence Walsh will return once again, this time a book-signing and discussion for their new paranormal suspense novel, Bridge.

Saturday, August 6, at 11 am, 6114 Johnson Drive in Mission. Be there.

Thursday, July 14, 2011


. . . . and you can, too, beat the deadline of July 15 with a description of your favorite Kansas library.

What do you like about your favorite library? A place where you can get the latest new books? A well-organized reference department that enables you to research the information you need for your current writing project? Friendly librarians eager to help you find just what you are looking for?

Write it down in 400 words and send to Tracy Million Simmons, KAC Publications Editor, 206 Rural Street, Emporia, KS 66801, or to . Selected entries will be printed in future newsletters.


‘Deep Shaft’, a best-selling liquor during the Prohibition, was apparently named for the “Southeastern (Kansas) coal mining town where it originated, according to Daniel Okrent, author of Last Call: The Rise and Fall of Prohibition.

Hmmmmm, I always thought the hooch was named ‘Deep Shaft’ because that was where the moonshiners hid their bottles to keep them from being discovered by the revenooers. One of my favorite books about the Prohibition shenanigans is Max Yoho’s The Moon Butter Route, about a Southeastern Kansas kid trying to find a job to support his family during the depression, gets a job delivering for a dairy, and soon learns that . . . aw, read the book.


Kansas’ First Lady Mary Brownback will promote Kansas books and Kansas writers at the Kansas Book Festival from 9-4 on Saturday, September 24, at the Kansas Historical Society in Topeka.

Kansas Notable Book authors will be honored in a ceremony at noon. Participation in the festival is still open to authors, publishers, bookstores, and food venders, with emphasis on Kansas connections. For information, go to the website at