Why Belong?

The “Writing Life” can be lonely. Sometimes that’s good. I need time to think, time to plan, time to write, review, revise and re-write. All these things work best in quiet isolation. Too much stimulus can be—well—too much. It almost seems stunting at times and I feel a creeping desperation to run and hide.

However, the last few weeks have given me several reasons to celebrate belonging, and to feel grateful for networking with people in general and other writers in particular. I belong to two regional writing groups, Kansas Authors Club and Oklahoma Writing Federation. Each has its own strengths, as well as limitations. Others may find the initial limitations enough to stay away. When they are handled with good humor and flexibility, the benefits of belonging can outweigh those stifling stimuli.

Why belong? Here are a few key reasons.

Like nobody else, writing friends understand what I face with time management, craft development, and the daunting prospect of marketing my published words. In the past month, I have exchanged drafts with some good friends for feedback. As always, my writing friends make fine critique partners. I benefit in two ways from exchanging critiques. First, of course, I learn how the selections I send impact a reader. And second, when I return the favor, I find my own skills of reading “like a writer” are honed ever sharper. The ability to read my own words as an editor might read them enhances my writing.

In the last month two writing friends tipped me onto opportunities to share my books. The first event was the anniversary of a little bookstore in El Dorado called The Next Chapter.

A charming atmosphere with aisles of used books (and a few new releases) made this book signing a delight. It was initiated by a writing friend and colleague in Kansas Authors Club.

The manager of The Next Chapter introduced me to DartFrog which is a gateway for Indie writers to offer books in independent bookstores across the country. Marketing is probably the single biggest challenge for me so I was excited to learn about DartFrog. Perhaps you would like to check it out: www.DartFrogBooks.com.

Another tip from a writing friend and colleague in Kansas Authors Club put me in touch with the Wichita Barnes & Noble bookstore. This local branch is hosting a “Local Author Day” in July. I submitted my suspense novel for consideration to be included and received word that I was accepted. I just filled out the event agreement to be one of the writers featured in Barnes & Noble.

In addition to these exciting events, writing groups host conferences. Over the last few years I have attended several conferences in Kansas and Oklahoma and gleaned many tips from the featured instructors. Beyond regional groups, many genres have national organizations and host conventions for the edification of writers who attend. Most conferences offer writing contests also, which can be a great way to get feedback on your work. I even received personal help adding seals of excellence to my online book covers for award-winning books. A big “Thank You” goes to the staff of Meadowlark Books.

The benefits of belonging number so many, why wouldn’t everyone want to belong? The old adage, “You get out of it what you put into it,” surely applies to writing groups. But when the balance tips to the point you find yourself putting in more than you could possibly gain, burnout is expected. Then it may be time to flee the stimuli and hermit yourself away in a writing retreat. Until that time, I will reap the benefits of belonging as long as possible.

On the Courthouse Lawn

The annual Flint Hills Folk Life Festival was held last weekend on the shady lawn surrounding the historic Chase County Courthouse in Cottonwood Falls, Kansas. Each June, the organizers of this event plan it to coincide with the Flint Hills Symphony concert performed by the Kansas City Symphony.

“The Earth Has Music”

A freak storm on the eve of the symphony weekend ended up cancelling the big musical performance, but the Folk Life Festival continued. Wandering music lovers discovered music on the lawn, just a few miles up the road. There was even a bit of dancing.

If you took a closer look at the exhibits, you’d find artists demonstrating skills from the nineteenth century. You might find a basket weaver. Or an artisan busy making handmade soap. You’d find a field station for a frontier army, and Union soldiers patrolling the grounds. A mountain man displayed crafts and toys made from feathers and skins. A row of tents under the elms held many textile crafts with artists hard at work. And you might even be invited to try your hand at various activities. I helped with a quilting bee, learned about Tunisian crochet and rug twining, as well as conversion hints to turn my grandmother’s old red-eye Singer 66 treadle sewing machine into a hand-cranked version.

You could find a potter, busily throwing new kitchen pots on an old-fashioned kick-wheel or a woodworker making spoons from chunks of firewood. If you get thirsty, how about some homemade lemonade, or even root beer? And to remedy the nibbles, some kettle corn, hot and fresh. You might even find a book or two written by a prairie author, featuring life in those Flint Hills surrounding the historic courthouse.

If you took some time to sit in the shade a spell, and exchanged pleasantries with some of the other visitors, you would encounter people from several nearby communities–Council Grove, Americus, Emporia–as well as Wichita and Kansas City. You  might even find folks from as far away as Minnesota and Texas, who had chosen this weekend to explore the Kansas Flint Hills.

Disappointed symphony fans who took the time to look around returned home with an unforgettable memory from picturesque Cottonwood Falls. With nature weirding into increasingly unpredictable and extreme weather events, the skills on display at the courthouse might even come in handy in the not-so-distant future. Take cues from the youngsters dashing around the courthouse, inventing games, twisting ropes, and flying feather kites. Life without all those electronic gadgets might have its upsides too.

 

 

A Who Dunnit—Why Dunnit Approach to Writing History

Kansas Authors Club District 5 is pleased to host a seminar at the October convention by Dr. David A. Nichols,  A “Who Dunnit – Why Dunnit” Approach to Writing History.

A William & Mary Ph.D., Dr. Nichols is a Kansas native and the author of Ike and McCarthy: Dwight Eisenhower’s Secret Campaign against Joseph McCarthy; A Matter of Justice; Eisenhower and the Beginning of the Civil Rights Revolution; and Eisenhower 1956: The President’s Year of Crisis – Suez and the Brink of War.  All Eisenhower books were published by Simon & Schuster. Nichols is also the author of Lincoln and the Indians: Civil War Policy and Politics (Minnesota Historical Society, 2012).

Revealed for the first time, Ike and McCarthy is the full story of how President Eisenhower masterminded the downfall of the anti-Communist demagogue Senator Joseph McCarthy. Behind the scenes, Eisenhower loathed McCarthy, the powerful Republican senator notorious for his anti-Communist witch hunt. In spite of the public’s perception that Ike was unwilling to challenge the senator, the president decided that dealing with the challenges behind the scenes, operating with a “hidden hand” to bring an end to the witch hunt, was a better approach. In Ike and McCarthy, a 2018 Kansas Notable book, Nichols uses documents previously unavailable or overlooked to authenticate the extraordinary story of Eisenhower’s anti-McCarthy campaign in an eye-opening and fascinating read.

In A Matter of Justice Nichols presents a dramatic reappraisal of the thirty-fourth president’s record throughout the early years of the civil rights revolution, revealing his lesser-known role in advancing civil rights. The account traces pivotal contributions of Ike’s administration to such events as the Brown decision and the desegregation of Little Rock schools.

A gripping tale of international intrigue and betrayal, Eisenhower 1956 is the white-knuckle story of how President Dwight D. Eisenhower guided the US through the Suez Canal crisis of 1956. The crisis climaxed in a tumultuous nine-day period fraught with peril just prior to the 1956 presidential election, with Great Britain, France, and Israel invading Egypt while the Soviet Union ruthlessly crushed rebellion in Hungary. Dr. Nichols draws on hundreds of documents previously unavailable to researchers, enabling the reader to look over Ike’s shoulder and follow him day-by-day, sometimes hour-by-hour, as he grappled with the greatest international crisis of his presidency. Nichols uses formerly top secret minutes of National Security Council and Oval Office meetings to illuminate a crisis that threatened to escalate into global conflict.

Lincoln and the Indians remains the only thorough treatment of a much-neglected aspect of Lincoln’s presidency. Placing Indian affairs in the broad context of Civil War politics and the settling of the West, Dr. Nichols covers the Sioux War of 1862 in Minnesota, the forced removal of the Navahos from their homeland to the deadly concentration camp at Bosque Redondo, and the massacre of Cheyennes by volunteer troops at Sand Creek. He also examines Lincoln’s inept handling of  the Five Civilized Tribes in Indian Territory and the corrupt “Indian System” of government aid that mainly benefited ambitious whites.

Thanks in part to Nichols’ impact on the reassessment of Dwight Eisenhower as president; a poll of 193 historians in 2017 rated Eisenhower fifth among American presidents, following only Lincoln, Washington, and the two Roosevelts. David A. Nichols began his serious research and writing in his mid-60s after retiring from Southwestern College in Winfield, where he served for 25 years, including eleven as Vice President for Academic Affairs.

At the Wichita convention, Dr. Nichols will share about his most recent book (Ike and McCarthy) and related research, exploring research design, dealing with all kinds of sources, and finding a publisher. “Who Dunnit? And Why Dunnit?” You won’t want to miss his inside information and tips on meaningful research.

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David A. Nichols

Writing as a Rehabilitation Tool

Twenty years ago, volunteers from the University of Kansas started a writing program for men incarcerated in the Douglas County jail. At the 2019 convention in October two leaders who are active members of Kansas Authors Club and a “graduate” of the program will share thoughts about its origin, what a typical session involves, and how everyone—inmates and leaders—benefits from the writing program. They will also read selections by a few participants.

What makes the weekly writing class the most popular activity offered to Douglas County jail inmates? Why is it consistently the largest class offered at the jail? Why does the program director often have to turn away class members when the room fills quickly? And why do the class facilitators continue to return week after week and year after year?

Many writers will affirm that writing is good therapy. In fact, that is the first reason they give to continue writing. There is something about recording words, thoughts, feelings, fears, and ideas on paper that can be cathartic and healing. People who write search for something. Perhaps they seek meaning in their lives. Perhaps they are looking for a personal identity, for a purpose, or as Sister Helen Prejean said, for “what truly matters.” What does matter? Maybe it is some semblance of control over life circumstances. Maybe it is acceptance, companionship, or bolstering a struggling self-esteem.

Perhaps it is hope, as an entry by Donndilla Da Great in the published collection Douglas County Jail Blues begins.

Hope

As I sit in my cell

I get stronger and stronger

I walk and I pace my cell

like a caged tiger

but as the unit comes to a lull

I think of hope . . .

Facilitators of the panel discussion in October include Brian Daldorph who has worked with the jail writers group since 2001. He has taught writing classes at KU since 1990. During his employment at KU, Brian taught in Japan for a year as a Visiting Professor, as well as shorter terms in England, Senegal, and Zambia. In addition, he is the publisher of Coal City Review and has published a number of books, including a book of the inmates’ writing in 2010. His most recent book of poetry, Ice Age/Edad de Hielo was published in 2017. Last year he was recognized as the Kansas Authors Club “Prose Writer of the Year” at the convention held in Salina.

Brian Daldorph

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Antonio Sanchez Day, formerly a participant in this project, is the only ex-con allowed to be a volunteer at the jail. He assists with the writing group as a “graduate.” He will share his perspective on writing from jail, and explain its benefits to himself and others in the program.

Antonio Sanchez Day

Mike Hartnett, a retired business journalist (magazine editor/newsletter publisher), has been a co-leader of the men’s writing group at the jail for four years. He currently serves as the president of the District 2 of the Kansas Authors Club in Lawrence.

Mike Hartnett

Exposing the threads of life common to us all, this class will share emotions recorded in prison verse, and put faces of humanity on those all too easily forgotten. The panel will take one part of the theme for the 2019 convention a step further, from “Book ‘Em” to “Heal “Em.” You won’t want to miss what they have to share.

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October 4-6, 2019

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Michael Graves: A Life in the Shadows

Michael Graves recently retired from Emporia State University where he taught Intensive English to international students and TESOL (Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages) courses to teachers in Kansas. He has written two detective novels set in 1937 Wichita: To Leave a Shadow (a Kansas Notable Book for 2016) and Shadow of Death, published in December of 2017. Both books feature the character of detective Pete Stone, created as a memorial to the author’s grandfather. When life conjures its riddles, Mike turns to back roads and baseball for answers.

His grandfather’s last words, uttered over fifty years ago, inspired the author to create a life in honor of a man he barely knew. In his presentation, “A Life in the Shadows,” Graves will read excerpts from his historical novels, To Leave a Shadow and Shadow of Death. He will discuss the story, the character, and the place, as well as the research, backstory, and truth vs. fiction. A Q&A session will follow his presentation.

To Leave a Shadow, introduces detective Pete Stone. He hadn’t always been a private eye. He’d lost his dairy business at the toss of a coin when the depression hit. His children grew up, as children do, and his wife left him for a chinchilla farmer. He had learned to like his solitude. When Mrs. Lucille Hamilton walked through his door searching for her missing husband, Pete was the only one who believed her husband’s death hadn’t been a suicide.

In the next novel, a cop killer strikes Wichita and Pete Stone, Private Investigator, is on the case. He has to be. He wakes up in jail, battered and bruised and accused of a murder he’s almost certain he didn’t commit. He must prove his innocence before he’s abandoned by his clients, his friends, and one special lady. When Stone is not getting knocked around by cops, he’s getting roughed up by love.

A unique opportunity awaits the 2019 conference attendees. Coordinating with the City of Wichita, KAC District 5 is arranging a trolley tour of several settings found in the historical Wichita crime novels. You won’t want to miss the tour, personally guided by the author himself.

Book ‘Em!

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Michael Graves

Tracy Edingfield: Wring That Last Drop of Blood

The Allure of Emotion

 

KAC’s District 5 is pleased to include attorney and acclaimed Wichita author Tracy Edingfield as a presenter in Wichita.

Ms. Edingfield graduated from the University of Kansas, obtaining a Bachelor’s Degree in Psychology with Distinction. Later she graduated from the School of Law at KU with a Juris-doctorate Degree. Throughout her lengthy legal career, she has been a public defender, prosecutor, litigator, and mediator. Her practice primarily focused on divorce work before she retired early to write Historical Romances and Middle Grade Sci-Fi/Fantasy novels. Ms. Edingfield is an Amazon Best Selling Author.

One of her passions is helping other writers achieve their goals. She has organized Writers of the Wheat Literary Festivals in Wichita to showcase local authors and their books.

At the Wichita Kansas Authors Club Convention in October, Ms. Edingfield will share tips on luring readers into your stories through emotional appeal. She explains, “Great writing pulls your reader into the story. Creating that vortex means mastering the emotional draw of a scene.  In this class, you will learn to use an Emotion Color Wheel and how to best choose words to lure the reader into your story.”

Under the name Tracy Dunn, she wrote two Middle Grade Sci-Fi/Fantasy novels. Alex & the Immortals relates the tale of Alex, his brother Dillon and their friends.

Teleported to Asteroid Eros, Alex and his friends learn the ancient arts of bottling lightning and mental telepathy from Pegasus, Cyclops, sea monsters and gorgons. The Dark Master has sent an evil shape-shifter to devour our planet, but the kids from Kansas are on the front lines of the battle. Will the bonds of brotherhood and friendship be enough to save the world?

The challenges continue for Alex in the sequel, Alex & the Lost Souls.  During the Battle of Eros, Alex and his friends become separated; some are captured and turned into slaves while others are forced underground. Cyclops, Pegasus, and the gorgons continue teaching the Kansas kids about telekinesis and levitation, but Alex has lots of worries plaguing him. Not only is there a traitor in their midst, but the Dark Master has taken human form…and needs Dillon’s soul. If Alex fails, he will lose friends, his brother, and even his own soul.

Tracy Edingfield’s first adult novel, The Law Firm of Psycho & Satan, takes an unflinching look at the practice of law.

New associate, Cooper Bach, must deal with devastating loss while juggling the demands of her clients and the relentless pursuit of billable hours. Will she emerge from this crucible as another hired gun? A grumpy judge, an addict, and a sexy bartender have something to say about that.

The historical romance Prudence tells the story of old friends who discover love and sacrifice.

Preoccupied with politics in London, Viscount Eldon Foley returns home to discover his old chum wearing spinster caps. Eldon brings her to town so she can enjoy a holiday. Prudence has loved Eldon for years. But in London, Viscount Foley is viewed as one of England’s political power players. His lordship is out of her league. Embarrassed by her naïveté, Prudence realizes Eldon needs a wife who will offer him more than she can. In London’s sophisticated circles, love and friendship simply aren’t enough.

In A Governess’ Lot, Charles Dryden anticipates his new life as he returns from war. He has a relationship to mend with Arianna, a daughter he’s not quite sure is his, and her governess is determined he’ll be a good father. Charles doesn’t appreciate Miss Winsome Montgomery’s bossy ways. Her first meeting with Mr. Dryden, she’s convinced he’s a flirtatious drunkard with a gambling problem. She has no intention of marrying the rascal, but she’s developing tender feelings for the rogue.

The October seminar will introduce the Emotion Color Wheel. Don’t miss her presentation on “Wringing that Last Drop of Blood” from your words. If you’d like to contact Tracy, you may do so through any of the following methods: tracydunnbooks@gmail.com, tracyedingfield@gmail.com, Twitter: @TEdingfield, or Facebook: Tracy Edingfield, Writer.

Hook ‘Em with passionate emotions.

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Tracy Edingfield

 

 

 

 

Award-winning Author Clare Vanderpool to Speak at KAC 2019

http://clarevanderpool.com/

Clare Vanderpool is the award-winning author of two novels: Moon Over Manifest and Navigating Early.  Moon Over Manifest, her debut novel, was awarded the prestigious 2011 John Newbery Award which is awarded annually by the American Library Association to the author of the most distinguished contribution to American literature for children. Clare is remarkably the first debut author in thirty years to win the Newbery Medal. Her books have both hit the New York Times best seller list as well as the Book Sense best seller list. The recipient of much critical-acclaim, including seven starred reviews, a top ten Historical Fiction Kid’s Book by Instructor Magazine, a Junior Library Guild selection, and a Golden Spur award, Clare’s writing has connected with readers young and old.  Interviews with Clare have appeared in The New York Times, The Washington Post, USA Today, and almost all of the media outlets across the nation have covered her writing career.  Most recently, Clare’s second novel Navigating Early was named a Printz Honor Book for Young Adult Fiction by the American Library Association.

http://www.amazon.com/Moon-Over-Manifest-Clare-Vanderpool/dp/0375858296/
http://www.amazon.com/Navigating-Early-Clare-Vanderpool-2014-12-23/dp/B01F7X93F2/

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

In her early years of writing, Clare set out to write a historical novel set in the fictional town of Manifest, Kansas, which is based on the real southeastern Kansas town of Frontenac where her maternal grandparents lived. Drawing on stories she heard as a child, along with research in town newspapers, yearbooks, and graveyards, Clare found a rich and colorful history for her unforgettable novel, Moon Over Manifest. She says “having lived most of my life in the same neighborhood, place is very important and for me true places are rooted in the familiar—the neighborhood pool, the sledding hill, the shortcuts, all the places where memories abound. But I wondered, what would a ‘true place’ be for someone who has never lived anywhere for more than a few weeks or months at a time? Someone like a young girl on the road during the Depression. Someone like Abilene Tucker.”

Clare has been making appearances at schools, libraries, and conferences around the country and abroad.  She enjoys meeting children, educators, librarians, and parents who have embraced her and her writing.  She lives in Wichita, Kansas with her husband and four children.

At the Kansas Authors Club convention in Wichita, October 4-6, 2019, Clare will present a seminar, Writing in the Crossroads: Where Craft and Creativity Meet. As writers, we all work at the craft—honing our skills in use of language, imagery, detail, and description.  But is there a risk of focusing on the calculated to the exclusion of the creative?  How do we know when it’s time to loosen the reins on plot, character, and conflict, allowing the creative process room to stretch and pulse and breathe life into the bones of the story?  In this workshop Clare will discuss the synergy and struggle of writing in the crossroads — where craft and creativity meet.

In addition, for those who wish to share a lunch with Clare, she will talk about Books I Have Loved and I Swear Loved Me Back: The Transformative Power of Story. (Luncheon provided by Holiday Inn. Tickets available with registration.) We’ve all heard that to be a writer, you must first be a reader.  And we know from experience that stories have power—to touch, to heal, to transform.  In this talk, we’ll journey into our reading past to the books that provided joy, comfort, even friendship in our younger years, and discover how stories become stepping stones in the writing life.

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Seminars Offered by Paul Bishop

District 5 of the Kansas Authors is pleased to host Paul Bishop as the featured Keynote speaker at the convention October 4-6, 2019 at the Wichita Holiday Inn, 549 South Rock Road. His planned topic for the Keynote speech is “When Worlds Collide.” For thirty-five years, Paul Bishop pursued two careers—putting villains in jail, and putting words on paper. As a detective with the LAPD, he chased bad guys and solved crimes. Under the cover of darkness, however, he donned his Cloak of Stories, finding cathartic release writing novels…But what happens when the cop and the writer inevitably crash into each other?

In addition, Bishop will offer two seminars at the convention. “Murder and Mayhem for Writers” will explore how to get police procedures right in your next mystery novel.  Veteran LAPD detective Paul Bishop will take you into the world of homicide crime scenes, sex crimes investigations, suspect interrogations, and many other aspects of law enforcement so you can get the details right.

A second seminar, “Getting the Words Right” examines how to trim excess wordage from your drafts. “Do these words make my manuscript look fat?”  Writer, editor, and publisher Paul Bishop shows you how to cut empty calories from your manuscript—words and phrases that will get your stories rejected before the end of the first page. He’ll also explain why putting second things first is important, and how to avoid the deadly sin of info dumps.

A special opportunity for four lucky participants will be a 15-minute private conference with Bishop as a writing coach and editor. District 5 will raffle off chances for these conferences. Win one of four fifteen-minute, one-on-one sessions with writer, editor, and publisher Paul Bishop. Bring the first five pages of your manuscript to battle The Red Pen, scourge of all writers. Get answers to make your manuscript bulletproof. This will be a possibly harsh, but honest experience. However, it could be the fifteen minutes you need to get published.

Contact Paul at http://www.paulbishopbooks.com

Hook ‘Em!

See you in Wichita this October.

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Paul Bishop

2019 Keynote Speaker in Wichita–Paul Bishop!

Novelist, screenwriter, and television personality, Paul Bishop is a nationally recognized behaviorist and deception detection expert. A 35-year veteran of the LAPD, his high profile Special Assault Units produced the top crime clearance rates in the city. Twice honored as LAPD’s Detective of the Year. Paul is the author of sixteen novels, including five books in his LAPD Detective Fey Croaker series. He has written scripts for episodic television and feature films and starred as the lead interrogator and driving force behind the ABC TV reality show “Take the Money and Run” from producer Jerry Bruckheimer. His book, Lie Catchers, is the first in a new series featuring two top LAPD interrogators. The forthcoming sequel is titled Admit Nothing.

Bishop’s books include:

  • Hot Pursuit
  • Deep Water
  • Penalty Shot
  • Fey Croaker: Kill Me Again
  • Fey Croaker: Grave Sins
  • Fey Croaker: Tequila Mockingbird
  • Fey Croaker: Chalk Whispers 
  • Fey Croaker: Pattern of Behavior 
  • Shroud of Vengeance 
  • Running Wylde 
  • A Bucketful of Bullets
  • Nothing But the Truth (Almost)
  • Suspicious Minds 
  • Felony Fists 
  • Swamp Walloper 
  • Lie Catchers 

Bishop wrote three episodes of the TV Series Diagnosis Murder:

  • The Last Resort (1998)
  • Down Among the Dead Men (1999)
  • Murder at BBQ Bob’s (2000)

He was featured as the Chief Interrogator in the 2011 Reality TV Series Take the Money and Run produced by Jerry Bruckheimer and in the 2004 Unsolved History documentary JFK: Beyond the Magic Bullet where he appeared as himself.

Since his retirement as a full-time detective, Bishop has been a featured speaker at law enforcement conventions and writing conventions across the country, including the 2018 Writers’ Police Academy Conference in Wisconsin.

http://www.paulbishopbooks.com

Book ‘Em!

Don’t miss Kansas Authors Club convention 2019, October 4-6, in Wichita.


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Paul Bishop