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.

Something for Every Writer

 

The Holiday Inn at Kellogg and Rock Road in Wichita is The Place To Be the first weekend in October 2019.Writers of District 5 of the Kansas Authors Club have put together a fantastic event you won’t want to miss. With over thirty classes—many offered twice for your convenience—there will be something for everyone. Several special activities unique to this conference will ice the cake for your convention experience.

Keynote speaker Paul Bishop from California will be in attendance throughout the entire weekend to share his decades of experience writing crime novels as well as his experience assisting other writers meet their goals. A special opportunity for a few lucky registrants will be a one-on-one conference with Paul to get feedback on the first pages of their current work-in-progress.

Join Clare Vanderpool, Wichita’s own Newbery Award-winning author, for a special catered lunch on Saturday as she reminisces about the special books throughout her life. Tickets for this lunch are available with registration.

The annual literary contest, open to any writer in Kansas, or any member regardless of residence, is accepting submissions until June 15. A category never before included in the annual contest deals with author blogs and/or websites. Don’t delay! Submit your poems and stories at http://kansasauthorsclub.submittable.com .  For complete contest information see: http://kansasauthors.org

A special opportunity for poet members of KAC will be the juried poetry/music event on Saturday morning, Rhythm-A-Ning: A Poetry & Music Event. Poets will read their poems through once while two accompanying musicians and the audience listen; then the same poem will be read through again with the two musicians improvising to the poem. This will result in a spontaneous ekphrastic experience for all; poets, musicians, and audience. Join us in this unique auditory experience! The accompanying musicians are Bill Glenn on percussion and Seth Carrithers on acoustic bass, two well-known Wichita improvisatory musicians.

Poetry selection for this event is via a blinded juried submission process. It is open only to KAC members (statewide or out of state) who will be attending the convention. Your submission is your guarantee you will be in attendance. Though the selection is by juried submission, this is not a contest. No prizes are awarded (except you get to participate!) and a rejection does not reflect on the quality of the submitted work, but rather what works best for the program.Deadline for submission to this exciting opportunity is June 15. Don’t wait too long!

For complete details: http://kansasauthorsclub.weebly.com/news-for-all-members/rhythm-a-ning-a-poetry-music-event

Of course there will be the awards presentations. Youth awards are scheduled on Saturday afternoon, and adult awards are split between the Saturday banquet and the Sunday luncheon.

Another first for KAC is a trolley tour sponsored by the city of Wichita. Sign up to take a trolley on a guided tour of several scene locations featured in the historical novels of member Michael Graves. Travel in style with Graves to downtown Wichita for insights and commentary on location by the author of  To Leave a Shadow and Shadow of Death.

During each cluster of classes a panel of presenters will share different topics with ample time for taking questions. Want to learn more about blogging? Don’t miss the blogger panel Saturday morning. What about the rehabilitative power of poetry? Come learn about the poetry program at the Douglas County jail Saturday afternoon. Have you submitted your books to a previous contest only to watch another writer receive the award? Sunday morning learn tips from past winners about what they think helped their writing.

There will be workshops for everyone. Are you interested in research techniques for historical novels or biographical tales? Don’t miss Michael Graves, HB Berlow, or David Nichols.

Are you working on a memoir? Mike Hartnett will share his journey writing a memoir in his workshop.

What about historical romance? Check out Tracy Edingfield.

Suspense novels or thrillers? Paul Bishop, Curt Bohling, HB Berlow, Mike Graves and Tracy Edingfield.

Interested in juvenile or YA writing? Don’t miss Clare Vanderpool, Claire Caterer or Tracy Dunn.

Are you a poet at heart? April Pameticky, Kevin Rabas, Ronda Miller and Diane Wahto.

Journalism? Dan Close

All workshops are open to writers of all ages and all genres, with presenters sharing ideas that could be applied to any writing effort. Each workshop possesses appeal for every one of us.

Registration for this fantastic writing convention is now open.

Details: http://kansasauthors.org.

Hotel reservations: KS Authors Club

We hope to see you in October in Wichita!

Capturing the Poetic Moment

Writing a poem is the easiest thing to do and, at the same time, the hardest. District 5 is excited to announce a workshop at the October convention aimed at claiming those varied moments of inspiration for poetry. The class, “Capturing the Poetic Moment,” will look at methods of capturing poetry. Presenters Diane Wahto and Ronda Miller plan to illustrate ideas with poems they have written. They will share how they managed to hunt down the poems and let them loose in the world.

“Poetry is everywhere—in nature and in our families. We write about lovers, children, mothers, fathers, grandparents, animals. A poet will snap to attention, salute, and write  when that poetic moment appears.”

Ronda Miller is a Life Coach who works with clients who have lost someone to homicide. She is a graduate of the University of Kansas and continues to live in Lawrence. She is a Fellow of The Citizen Journalism Academy, World Company, a Certified Life Coach with IPEC (Institute of Professional Empowerment Coaching), a mother to a son, Scott, and a daughter, Apollonia.

She created poetic forms loku and ukol. She was the co-chair, along with Caryn Mirriam-Goldberg, for the Transformative Language Arts Conference at Unity Village September, 2015. Miller was poetry contest manager for Kansas Authors Club (2011-2014), District 2 President of Kansas Authors Club (2015 – 2017), state Vice President (2016 – 2017), and is the club’s current State President (2018-2019).  When she isn’t coaching clients, volunteering time to Kansas Authors Club, or writing poetry, she is busy learning life skills from those she works with. Miller presents workshops throughout the U.S.

She has three published poetry collections, Going Home: Poems from My Life, Moon Stain, and Water Signs.

Diane Wahto started writing poetry in 1983 when she entered the Wichita State University MFA creative writing program. Her poem, “Somebody Is Always Watching,” won the American Academy of Poets award in 1985, and was published in the American Institution of Discussion Review.

Since then, her work has been published many times in various journals and magazines, and she regularly places in poetry contests. Most recently she won the poetry division of the 2019 Kansas Voices contest.

After graduating from WSU in 1985, she taught journalism at Winfield High School and English Composition and creative writing at Butler Community College.

Her book of poetry, The Sad Joy of Leaving, was published in October 2018. The book launch was held at Watermark Books and Café, where she read with Michael Poage and Kelly Johnston.

Other recent publications include “Empty Corners” in Same, “Persistence,” in The Ekphrastic Review, and “Yellow Music,” in Heartland. She is co-editor of two issues of 365 Days: A Poetry Anthology.

Diane is the president of Kansas Authors Club District 5 and has served several years as Awards Chair for the state. She is co-chair of this year’s convention in Wichita. She lives in Wichita, Kansas, with her husband Patrick Roche and their dog Annie.

Diane Wahto
Ronda Miller

 

Letter to a Young Writer

I received an invitation to write a letter of encouragement to a grade school student who dreams of writing. Perhaps these thoughts are relevant to writers of any age.

Dear Joslyn,

Your teacher told me you dream of being an author. That is awesome! You have taken the important first step toward achieving your dream. The support of my fifth grade teacher launched my dream long ago and I appreciate her more than words can say. Perhaps you also will correspond with your teacher for the rest of your life.

Do you love to read? When I was your age I did. I still read a lot. I love the way I can escape to different times and places through stories others share.

If you haven’t already started, I encourage you to keep journals of your activities, your experiences, and—most important—your thoughts and feelings about everything. The more you write, the better your writing will become. It’s one of those things where “practice makes perfect.” Our alphabet and the written language derived from it are perhaps the most important invention of humanity. Used with skill, words possess the power to change the world.

Today it is easier than it has ever been to see your work published. No longer do you have to convince agents to represent you and offer your manuscripts to publishers. At the same time, because of the ease of publication through online sources, anything you publish will have A LOT of competition. To attract readers, learn to make your work stand out. Take your writing seriously. Study the intricacies of our language and its rules of grammar. Learn the basics of storytelling.

How do you do this? English classes will get you off to a good start. Beyond school, how-to books on writing are easy to find. I took special creative writing classes as early as high school. And when you finish high school, there are university tracks which offer intensive training in creative writing.

You could join a writing club. These groups bring writers together and they welcome members of all ages.

Enter writing contests. Many contests welcome submissions by students. A couple of contests available in Kansas are Kansas Voices and the annual literary contest sponsored by Kansas Authors Club. Submit your stories and poems as often as you can. After the winning writers are selected, contest judges often offer suggestions about how writers can improve their craft. Don’t resist revising and re-writing your first drafts.

If you are bold, you could attend workshops and conventions to learn more about writing. It is invigorating to surround yourself with others who share your passion.

Seek a variety of activities to understand how other people view life. Pursue adventure. Crave new experiences. Engage in life. Watch people and listen to their speech patterns. Collect friends and get to know them inside and out.

Allow yourself to feel deeply the entire circle of emotions. Learn what it’s like to love intensely, to laugh with abandon, to rage helplessly, to fear powerful adversaries, to feel your heart break with sorrow, and even to despair with little hope. Write it all down, sparing nothing.

Careful observations as you experience life could lead to unique twists in your stories that make them stand out. Use your experiences to feed your imagination. Create new worlds and write them to life.

You have set out on an exciting journey.

Be proud that you have taken the first step toward your dream, but don’t be surprised if life dictates a few detours. Embrace them also. Farm them for scenes, characters, places, and conflicts. And never stop writing. It’s a long road and a lot of hard work to see your dream come true. You may get discouraged, but don’t give up. Every step of the way is worth it. Someday you may touch a needy heart. Someday—maybe soon—you will make a difference and help change the world with your words. There is nothing more important.

Good luck to you and Write On!

Getting Your Writing Done

Have you ever wondered how busy people manage to produce regular articles, poems, stories, and books? How do they find time to craft quality work if you can’t squeeze in a few minutes now and then? What is the secret for managing the minutes in a day to allow time for your passion of writing?

Kevin Rabas has suggestions for you. With numerous published books of poems and stories, an active life as instructor in poetry and playwriting, as well as chair of the Department of English, Modern Languages, and Journalism at Emporia State University, speaking engagements in many venues as the Kansas Poet Laureate (2017-19) and an active drummer in a jazz ensemble, Rabas can speak from experience about strategies for squeezing in time to write. How does he manage his prolific writing career?

Books he has written include Lisa’s Flying Electric Piano, (2009) a Kansas Notable Book and Nelson Poetry Book Award winner. He has several other collections, including Everyone Just Wants to Drum (2019),

Like Buddha-Calm Bird (2018), Late for the Cymbal Line (2017), All That Jazz (2017), Songs for My Father: A Collection of Poems and Stories (2016), and Eliot’s Violin (2015). In addition he collaborated with other poets and writers for several publications. Green Bike: A Group Novel, Sonny Kenners Red Guitar, and Bird Horn and Other Poems  are shared titles.

Rabas’s plays have been produced across Kansas and in North Carolina and San Diego, and his work has been nominated for the Pushcart Prize six times. He is the recipient of the Emporia State President’s Award for Research and Creativity and is the winner of the Langston Hughes Award for Poetry, the Victor Contoski Poetry Award, the Jerome Johanning Playwriting Award, and the Salina New Voice Award.

Intimately familiar with the rhythms of daily life, he finds detailed words for the beat which poetic verse and music share. Rabas is sure to have ideas any writer can use. Caryn Mirriam-Goldberg, Kansas Poet Laureate 2009-2013 wrote about Rabas’ work, “Writing the music inherent in changing narratives of the ordinary and extraordinary, Rabas illustrates what a fellow Kansas poet meant when he said, ‘Anyone who breathes is in the rhythm business, and anyone who is alive is caught up in the imminences, the doubts mixed with the triumphant certainty, of poetry.’”

How does a busy person manage to find the time needed to write quality work? At the Wichita KAC convention, Rabas will present a class on Getting Your Writing Done. He will offer strategies for managing time, even if your life outside of writing is very busy. Rabas will share tips and tactics as well as mindful approaches towards finding time to tell your stories on paper. He welcomes writers of any genre to this class. You won’t want to miss what he has to share.

Book ‘Em!

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Kevin Rabas

 

Poets, Farmers, and Crafting a Tale

April Pameticky moved to Wichita in 2003 and was swept up in the creative Vortex. The mother of two shares time between her high school English classroom and the burgeoning community of artists and writers in Kansas. She facilitated the Wichita Broadside Project 2017 and currently serves as editor of River City Poetry, an online poetry journal, and co-edits Voices of Kansas, a regional anthology of work from school-aged children across the state. Her own work can be seen in journals like Malpais Review, KONZA, Chiron Review, and Turtle Island Quarterly. She is also the author of several chapbooks, Sand River and Other Places I’ve Been (Finishing Line Press); and Anatomy of a Sea Star (Casa de Cinco Hermanas Press).

At KAC 2019, she will offer two seminars:

Let Poetry inform your Prose: The Art & Craft of Telling a Tale:  How could the poetic lens inform your writing? Are there ways of training the ear and eye to better turn a narrative line? Sonya Chung, teacher and blogger, writes “Fiction is a Trudge, Poetry is a Dance” and that good literary fiction is “language-rich, language-precise, language-driven.” Is she right? We’ll explore some common poetry techniques that translate well into a variety of written forms, including memoir and long-form fiction.  Attend this session and expect to do a little writing and responding to a prompt.  We’ll use revision to demonstrate the power of repetition and metaphorical language.

Poet as Farmer–how journaling plants seeds of Creativity:  Whether you ascribe to Natalie Goldberg’s Zen daily practice, or Julia Cameron’s Artist’s Way, journaling can be an incredibly productive tool.  But how do writers get started?  Are prompts part of the process?   What of word lists?  When do you know that a seed might be ready for harvest?  In this session, we’ll explore sparks for creativity and examine some possible resources and activities.  Expect to write and journal as part of the process.

Contact April at:

aprilpameticky@hotmail.com

rivercitypoetrysubmissions@gmail.com

Hook ‘Em!

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April Pameticky

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.

http://www.Kansasauthors.org

October 4-6, 2019

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2019 Kansas Authors Club Literary Contest Opens April 1

Every year, all writers in Kansas, as well as any KAC member regardless of residence, are invited to submit work to the literary contest. There are divisions for young writers as well as adults. This year’s contest opens April 1. All entries must be received by June 15.

The youth contest is open to all Kansas students and to student members of KAC. Writers will compete with others at their age level in five divisions, Grades 1-2; Grades 3-4; Grades 5-6; Grades 7-8; and Grades 9-12. The categories include, Poetry, Fiction, Nonfiction, and Spoken Word Poetry. The winning entries (1st, 2nd, 3rd, and Honorable Mention) of each category and age division will be published in a book. Each writer with work included will receive a copy. Additionally, awards will be presented during a special ceremony at the October convention in Wichita.

The adult contest offers a Poetry division and a Prose division. 2019 Poetry categories include Theme (“Hook ‘em and Book ‘em!), Classical forms, Free verse, Narrative poetry, Whimsy, Japanese forms, Performance (spoken word), and a special category for New Poets.

The 2019 Prose categories include Theme (“Hook ‘em and Book ‘em!), Humor, Memoir or Inspirational, Flash Fiction, Stories Written for Teenagers, Short Story, Playwriting, and First Chapter of a Book–unpublished.

For the first time, there is a special category available for Author’s Blogs or Web Sites. To enter this contest, authors must submit the URL of a website they maintain, a “mission statement” describing the purpose of that website, direct links to at least 3 entries or pages that the author would like to highlight, and a short paragraph detailing how and where the site is publicized and promoted.

Each year Kansas Authors Club also sponsors contests for members who have published books during the previous months. Winners of each book contest are awarded cash prizes of $100.

The Kansas Authors Club Children’s Book Award was created in 2018 to honor the best book written with an audience of children in mind.

“It Looks Like a Million” is an award which focuses on the aesthetics of a book published by a Kansas Authors Club member. The book will be judged on cover design, interior formatting and design, and over-all look and feel of the book.

The Martin Kansas History Book Award was created in 2018 as a tribute to Gail Lee Martin, who was KAC State Archivist from 1995-2005. This book award is open exclusively for books about Kansas history by KAC members.

Created by Raymond and Margaret Nelson in 2002, the Nelson Poetry Book Award recognizes the year’s best poetry book by a Kansas Authors Club poet.

The J. Donald Coffin Memorial Book Award was established by Mrs. Bertha Coffin to honor the memory of her husband after his death in 1978. It is intended to honor the best published book for the year written by a member of Kansas Authors Club.

 

For more information on the 2019 KAC literary contests, including guidelines for submissions, see https://kansasauthorsclub.weebly.com/writing-contests—all-ages.html

What are you waiting for? Write, write, write!

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The Life of a Blogger

Have you ever wondered how to start a blog? How to keep it alive? What to write about? What makes a blog “successful”?

At the October convention, Kansas Authors Club District 5 will host a seminar with a panel of successful bloggers. Each panelist is invited to share their personal blogging story, focusing on what makes a blog attractive to followers. After their short presentations, class attendees will be able to ask questions and receive thoughtful answers from the experts.

Panelists include:

Nancy Julien Kopp

Nancy Julien Kopp writes creative nonfiction, poetry, children’s fiction and articles on writing. She has been published 22 times in Chicken Soup for the Soul books and other anthologies as well as magazines and newspapers. She has blogged for ten years about her writing world with tips and encouragement for writers. www.writergrannysworld.blogspot.com

Joy Hathaway Lenz

Joy Hathaway Lenz blogs at www.writejoywrite.blogspot.com
Joy is a mother, teacher, and writer in Winfield, Kansas. She blogs about nature, politics, faith, and family. She especially enjoys writing poetry and essays, often illustrated with her own photography.

Jim Potter

Jim Potter (www.jimpotterauthor.com)  writes memoir, fiction, non-fiction, poetry, and articles on writing. He’s published Taking Back the Bullet, a contemporary novel; Cop in the Classroom, a police memoir; and Under the Radar, an award-winning play. Potter writes and records a weekly blog/podcast at jimpotterauthor.com. His subjects include writing, history, bios, and book reviews. His specialty is interviewing. Jim lives outside Hutchinson with his sculptor wife, Alex, where they grow sandburs, raise grasshoppers, and create art.

Sara Severance Weinert

Sara Severance Weinert blogs at emptynestfeathers.blogspot.com

Regarding her blog she writes:

What does a mommy blogger do if she missed the mommy-blogging avalanche of the last century? She writes about the empty nest. MomQueenBee (Sara Severance Weinert) prattles about readjusting to life without four sons in the House on the Corner, and has opinions on many things. She tries to be amusing.  (editor note: And often succeeds to the delight of her readers!)

If you have questions about how to manage a blog, you won’t want to miss this panel.

Hook ‘Em!

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Hook ‘Em and Book ‘Em!

Calling all writers!

The Wichita-based District 5 of Kansas Authors Club will host a weekend event October 4-6, 2019, at the Holiday Inn, 549 South Rock Road, Wichita, Kansas. Whether you are a beginner or have years of experience, there will be classes for everyone.

Over the coming weeks, various presenters will be featured in a series of posts here. Many of the planned workshops will enhance the theme with suggestions about how you can hook readers into turning every page, tips that are good for poets as well as any prose genre. Several classes will offer in-depth information about mystery and crime fiction genre, some even explore topics that involve research and detective work in historical settings.

There will be opportunities to chat with old friends, and make new ones. Share your writing adventures, successes, and dreams. Participate in a read-around. Find out the winners of the 2019 KAC literary contests. Great food—great fun—great classes!

You won’t want to miss the KAC convention 2019, “Hook ‘Em and Book ‘Em!”

Mark your calendars: Wichita, October 4-6, 2019.

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