Nominated by: Tracy Million Simmons
Each year, members are asked to nominate those who deserve special recognition for service to the club, for work on a special accomplishment, or for achievement in writing.
Anne Shiever joined Kansas Authors Club in 2004. She is a familiar face at our annual conventions, as well as at state board meetings, where the real work of the club gets done. She always has a smile on her face and kind words for her fellow KAC members. She has served as a past D4 president, as well as many years running on the state board including positions of publicity, assistant recording secretary, and now Awards Chair. I am honored to call Anne Shiever friend and fellow writer, and I want to take this opportunity to thank you, Anne, for all you do for our organization.
Nominated by: Tracy Million Simmons
Jeff G. Guernsey – 10 years
Ronda Miller – 10 years
Ray “Griz” Racobs – 10 years
Gloria Zachgo – 10 years
Michael D. Graves – 10 years
Susan Hill – 15 years
Arlene Rains Graber – 15 years
Betty A. Laird – 15 years
Tracy Million Simmons – 20 years
Joann Williams – 25 years
Maryann Barry – 30 years
Lorine A. Gleue – 30 years
Cynthia J. Ross – 30 years
Frankie Roland – 35 years
Millie Horlacher – 40 years
*has reached 5 years of membership
There is still time to purchase your ticket for the 2021 Kansas Authors Club Convention! These four accomplished children's book authors are among the great speakers and workshops you will have access to at the virtual event, which will take place October 8-10.
Purchase your ticket through Submittable. Use the button below!
Kansas boasts an amazing array of talented and dedicated independent book publishers. Their owners are the folks who promote and publish the poetry and prose of talented wordsmiths who might never land or seek a contract with any of the big New York publishers. Meadowlark, Blue Cedar, One Voice and Spartan are all racking up some impressive title inventories and many of them are KAC members’ books. How and why do these small publishers deal with the little fish? What is their vision for their companies and the talented authors they recruit? Do they accept submissions? What do they charge?
The members of this panel will give us a brief history of their dedicated service to Kansas authors. They include:
Tracy Million Simmons of Meadowlark–
Owner/Publisher of Meadowlark Press, enjoys reading and writing about the people and places of her home state of Kansas, both real and imagined. She started Meadowlark Books in 2014 with the publication of Green Bike, a group novel, with Kevin Rabas and Michael D. Graves. Since that time, Meadowlark has published books of poetry, fiction, and non-fiction, including the 2016 Kansas Notable Book, To Leave a Shadow by Michael D. Graves, the 2020 Kansas Notable Book, Headwinds, by Edna Bell-Pearson, and the 2021 Kansas Notable Book, All Hallows' Shadows, by Michael D. Graves. Opulence, Kansas, by Julie Stielstra was the winner of the 2021 Midwest Book Award in YA fiction.
Gretchen Eick of Blue Cedar–
After fourteen years as a foreign and military policy lobbyist in Washington, Gretchen Eick became a professor of history. Awarded two Fulbright Scholar awards (to Latvia and Bosnia and Herzegovina) and a Fulbright Hays travel grant to South Africa, she is the author of seven books, two scholarly histories, four novels, and a book of short stories. Her books include
Dissent in Wichita: The Civil Rights Movement in the Midwest, 1954-1972 (U of IL Press, 2001/2007) and They Met at Wounded Knee: The Eastmans’ Story (University of Nevada Press)
Blue Cedar Press published its first books in 2015. Michael Poage, the founder, wanted to start a press that would focus on poetry written by new voices that he believed should be published and heard. His wife, Gretchen Eick, a published writer of nonfiction, had begun writing novels and wanted the press to publish fiction and nonfiction from new voices also, particularly the voices of today’s “other America”—people of color, immigrants, young people, people of nontraditional sexual orientation, as well as people from other countries.
Jason Ryberg of Spartan Press–
Jason Ryberg is the author of fourteen books of poetry, six screenplays, a few short stories, a box full of folders, notebooks and scraps of paper that could one day be (loosely) construed as a novel, and a couple of angry letters to various magazine and newspaper editors. He is currently an artist-in-residence at both The Prospero Institute of Disquieted P/o/e/t/i/c/s and the Osage Arts Community, and is an editor and designer at Spartan Books. His latest collection of poems is Are You Sure Kerouac Done It This Way!? (co-authored with John Dorsey, and Victor Clevenger, OAC Books, 2021). He lives part-time in Kansas City, MO with a rooster named Little Red and a Billy goat named Giuseppe and part-time somewhere in the Ozarks near the Gasconade River, where there are also many strange and wonderful woodland critters.
Will Leathem founded Spartan Press in the late 1990s as a vehicle to bring awareness to the stunning writing talent Kansas City has to offer. As part-owner of Prospero’s Books, he has been an endless champion for small presses and local and national poetry, hosting hundreds of events.
Jan Gilbert Hurst of Author’s Voice–
In her business--Author’s Voice Publishing—Jan’s mission is to help aspiring writers become published authors. She provides all the services needed to shepherd manuscripts through editing, design, production, and print, to become polished books that authors are proud to present to the world. She appreciates one adoring husband, two grown sons, and three delightful grandchildren. Her spare time overflows with volunteering as a leader in Outdoor Ministry. She sporadically works on her own historical novel, regularly attends MacNovelists, a writers’ group in McPherson, and enjoys meeting new people as a member of the Kansas Authors Club.
If you want to learn about writing, editing, or publishing, then you’re invited to attend Saturday’s (May 22, 2021 - 1:30pm) District 6 meeting of the Kansas Authors Club. It’s free and open to the public.
The Zoom meeting will have five speakers. Tracy Million Simmons, founder of Meadowlark Press, and Cheryl Unruh, editor of 105 Meadowlark Reader: A Kansas Journal of Creative Nonfiction, will share their vision of gathering true Kansas stories. The first issue of the journal highlights 35 talented Kansas writers from 25 counties.
Virtual attendees will also meet the other three prolific writers, all Kansas Authors Club members, and learn how they created their essays for submission for the spring issue. Each story is an authentic Kansas experience. The speakers, their home base, and essay titles, are: Miriam Iwashige, Partridge, “A Pandemic Privilege”; Julie Stielstra, Ellinwood/Chicago, “Barton County”; and Ginger Zyskowski, Seattle (formerly Hutchinson), “A Kansan and His Machines.”
There will be time for questions and answers.
105 Meadowlark Reader may be purchased at your local book store or at 105 Meadowlark Reader.
To join the 1:30 PM (CST) meeting, or to become a part of a community of Kansas writers, contact Jim Potter, president of District 6, at email@example.com or 620-899-3144.
Three Kansas Authors Club members were named finalists in the 31st annual Midwest Book Awards. The awards program, which is organized by the Midwest Independent Publishers Association (MiPA), recognizes quality independent publishing in the Midwest.
Michael D. Graves, District 2, made the Fiction: Mystery/Thriller list with All Hallows' Shadows, the 3rd book of the Pete Stone, Private Investigator series.
Jerilynn Jones Henrikson, District 2, made the Fiction: Young Adult list with A Time for Tears.
Julie Stielstra, District 6, made the Fiction: Young Adult list with Opulence, Kansas.
All three titles are published by Meadowlark Press of Emporia, Kansas, owned by Tracy Million Simmons (D2).
The 31st annual Midwest Book Awards was open to books published and copyrighted in 2020 in MiPA’s 12-state Midwestern region: Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, Nebraska, North Dakota, Ohio, South Dakota and Wisconsin.
This year’s competition garnered 241 entries in 35 categories, submitted by 74 independent publishers and judged by a panel of nearly one hundred librarians and booksellers from throughout the Midwest.
Historically, an awards gala is held in Minneapolis to announce the winners, but this year, as in 2020, winners will be announced and celebrated online, first in a Zoom webinar open to MiPA members and finalists, and shortly thereafter in a social media premiere that can be shared with friends and family. A period of book giveaways and winner highlights will accompany the social media premiere.
“This shift to celebrating online has enabled us to engage with a larger publishing community throughout the Midwest,” said Jennifer Baum, executive director of MiPA. “The number of entries received in 2020 grew by about 25% compared to the prior year, which can be attributed to our greater online presence.”
Following the conclusion of the gala celebrations, winners will be encouraged to participate in MiPA’s second season of the Virtual Reading Series, a limited series launched last year on MiPA’s YouTube channel.
Finalist books will also be for sale in MiPA’s affiliate shop on Bookshop.org, a website that shares proceeds with independent booksellers. Buyers can opt to select which independent store will receive the commission, or to leave it in a general pool to be distributed among independent booksellers.
For a complete list of finalists, visit www.mipa.org/midwest-book-awards. Follow @MIPAMidwestBookAwards on Facebook for updates on the gala’s social media premiere and book giveaways.
The following Kansas Authors Club members had essays selected for publication in the first issue of 105: Meadowlark Reader, a Kansas journal of creative nonfiction. Issue #1, with the theme of "beginnings," is expected to be delivered to subscribers in early May, featuring 35 essays, including the following:
Gretchen Eick - D5
Marie Fletcher - D7
Beth Gulley - D2
Miriam Iwashige - D6
Nancy Julien Kopp - D4
Sandee Lee - D5
Don Marler - D5
Ruth Maus - D1
Julie Nischan - D1
Kevin Rabas - D2
Mark Scheel - D2
Julie Sellers - D4
Tyler Sheldon - D2
Julie Stielstra - D6
Barbara Waterman-Peters - D1
Jon Yenser - D7
Gloria Zachgo - D5
Ginger Zyskowski - D6
Cheryl Unruh (D2) of Quincy Press is the editor of the new journal, and Tracy Million Simmons (D2) of Meadowlark Press is the publisher. Readers are encouraged to subscribe before March 1 to take advantage of introductory pricing.
For those interested in submitting essays for issue #2, the theme will be "Kansas Travel Stories" and they will begin collecting those submissions in May and June of 2021
See 105meadowlarkreader.com for complete details.
You are invited to a Zoom meeting.
When: Feb 13, 2021 01:30 PM Central Time (US and Canada)
Register in advance for this meeting:
After registering, you will receive a confirmation email containing information about joining the meeting.
Indie Publisher Meadowlark Press Presents Lessons Learned for Independent Authors
Tracy Million Simmons will introduce Meadowlark Press and share an overview of Meadowlark's model of publishing, including a review of today's tools of the trade. Tracy will share tips and tricks for navigating the quickly changing world of print-on-demand, including time for Q&A.
Tracy is an amazingly productive publisher and gives generously of her time to Kansas Authors Club. Her presentation will be invaluable for anyone writing and seeking to see their writing in print!
Bring paper or computers to do some writing if there is time after Tracy’s presentation.
Join us for the regular monthly meeting of D5 on Zoom, Saturday, February 13 at 1:30. Contact D5 president, Connie White, if you have questions.
Author Tracy Million Simmons, D2, is our guest speaker, Saturday, Nov. 28 @ 1:30 PM. She's the CEO of Meadowlark Books, Emporia, KS. Join us on Zoom to learn about her publishing company, the annual poetry book prize, & the upcoming launch of "105 Meadowlark Reader" (a print journal). The meeting is free & open to the public. See you Zoom!
Questions or comments? Contact Jim Potter, firstname.lastname@example.org or 620-899-3144
In response to the COVID-19 pandemic, Kansas Authors Club during the first weekend in October broke new ground when it hosted its first ever virtual writers convention.
The oldest statewide writers organization in the United States (chartered 1904) has held an annual writers convention almost every year since 1905. War intervened on two occasions. Disease now threatened to do the same.
Typically, the site of the convention rotates between KAC’s seven districts. This year’s convention, “Writing Across Kansas . . . A Sense of Place,” originally was planned by District 7 to take place in Colby.
“Instead, we met in the comfort of our members’ homes,” Duane Johnson, KAC president said.
As the deadly disease spread across the United States, Johnson realized in May that the convention might need to be cancelled.
“I was in close contact with convention planners, so I knew how hard they had worked to put together an impressive lineup of speakers and workshop leaders,” Johnson said. “I knew I would be letting them and the rest of our 250-plus members down unless I found an alternative.”
The solution—video-conferencing the event—Johnson said, was obvious. Figuring out how to do it was not.
He spent a month reading online articles and watching Zoom webinars on webinars. Then he assembled a four-member “zoom team” to host the convention. The team, Carol Yoho, Curtis Becker, and Tracy Million-Simmons, met each week to strategize, rehearse, and role-play. A mock webinar was held with as many of the workshop leaders as could attend. Team members then met with workshop leaders, who had various levels of experience with Zoom, in blocks of two or three to make sure everyone knew what to expect and were up to speed. They even hired a videoconference specialist from The WebiNerd.
“We were pioneering unfamiliar terrain, and we had to get it right the first time,” Johnson said. “No Mulligans allowed.”
All the while, they coordinated their efforts with the convention committee and contest managers.
A normal Kansas Authors Club conference consists of 12 to 15 workshops, some presented two or three times; keynote speakers; presentation of awards for children’s writing contests, adult writing contests, and newly released books in several categories; a state board meeting; annual members meeting; and an awards banquet.
“For the better part of two days, multiple events are going on simultaneously,” Johnson said. “How the devil were we going to duplicate that with a video-conference?”
The solution: purchasing not one, but two webinar add-ons to the group’s Zoom account. During the convention, the team split into two two-member teams on each webinar.
“We had to ditch the banquet and postpone the board and members meetings to the next weekend, but we got everything else in,” Johnson said. “We even set up a virtual bookroom for members to sell their books and a silent auction.”
The WebiNerd specialist recommended direct cable-to-computer connections to guard against the instability of Wi-Fi, and head-sets. As a result, each zoom team member had out-of-pocket expenses to go with the hours of time they contributed. At least one team member also had to purchase a web-cam.
Johnson said the convention, which featured Kansas Poet Laureate Huascar Medina and Academy award-winning playwright Kevin Wilmott, experienced a few minor glitches, but everyone seemed pleased with the outcome.
“My most terrifying moment came during Rich Hawkins’ “Writing for Radio” workshop when the lights blinked off for a second and I lost my connection,” Johnson said. “I went into panic mode until I realized that Carol was still supporting the webinar on her end. When I reconnected five minutes later, everything was fine. No one even knew I was gone.”
He said the best part of the experience for him was the bond the four zoom team members formed with each other as they trained each other.
“We laughed a lot,” he said. “I think we all had a good time as we taught each other how to do something KAC has never done before. I look forward to when we can get together over a six-pack. And corn chips. And M&Ms. That’s an inside joke.”
On any given day in any given year this century, Tracy Million Simmons can be found doing something that contributes to Kansas Authors Club. Whether it is working with Reaona Hemmingway, Carol Yoho and sometimes others to write our newsletters and create our annual yearbook—a monumental task in itself; or maintaining and coordinating work on the KAC website; or collaborating with contest managers to find judges and help them and all the rest of us in myriad ways prepare for our annual convention; or overseeing Submittable; or doing half a dozen other tasks that I’m forgetting about, Tracy distinguishes herself year in and year out as Kansas Authors Club’s most indispensable worker bee.
Sometimes I imagine that we will one day discover her dirty little secret, that she is actually identical twins.
But in this year of the Pandemic, Tracy has outdone even Tracy in utilizing her innovative skills to pioneer two more features that will become welcome and established components of Kansas Author Club from this point forward.
First, she has extended our use of Submittable account, which she pioneered, by utilizing it for convention registration, thus simplifying and streamlining the process.
Second, she has created a virtual book room for KAC members on the issuu.com website. Not only does this mitigate our inability to have a physical book room for this year’s convention, but it means that KAC members will be able to exhibit and sell their books online not just once a year but 24/7 into the foreseeable future.
And she did this, along with everything else she does, while also playing a key role along with Carol Yoho and Curtis Becker on the Webinar team that, together with this year’s convention committee, made it possible to hold this year’s annual convention.
By the sheer volume of the work she does year in and year out, Tracy would qualify for a special service award every year, but this year it would be a major oversight if we did not recognize her with a Special Award for Particular Accomplishment for her innovative work on convention registration and for creating KAC’s own virtual book room.
Presented by Duane Johnson, 2020 State President
Duane Johnson (D1) has been a member of Kansas Authors Club since 2014. He served as the president of District 1 in 2017-2018, state Vice President and book awards chair in 2019, and he took the helm as state President this year, 2020. I know that Duane had a vision for Kansas Authors Club when he accepted the role of President. As an active board member, he’d been taking notes on ways to modernize our organization, but I don’t imagine he expected to take this giant step forward to a full virtual convention format in less than a year. It would have been very easy to say, “Sorry folks, no convention in the time of COVID-19.” Duane studied, recruited a crew, and hired a tutor to get us up to speed. His organizational skills helped us develop and define what you are experiencing here this weekend. Thanks to Duane Johnson, we’ve enjoyed an October weekend with our writing family. I submit Duane Johnson for a merit award for service to Kansas Authors Club.
-presented by Tracy Million Simmons
Jim Potter became a member of Kansas Authors Club in 2015. He became president of District 6 in 2019, and has recruited at least 28 members to the organization since that time. Jim led the way in transitioning to Zoom meetings in 2020, the first of our seven districts to do so. In fact, his district began meeting twice a month, once for a program and once for a read around. Jim has been a dedicated leader on behalf of his district and our state organization. I submit Jim Potter (D6) for a merit award for service to Kansas Authors Club.
-presented by Tracy Million Simmons
Sept. 15, 2020 - President Duane Johnson is pleased to announce that the Kansas Authors Club was selected as a recipient of The Literary Arts Emergency Fund grant, awarded by by the Academy of American Poets, the Community of Literary Magazine & Presses, and the National Book Foundation. Johnson applied for the grant when it became apparent that, due to COVID-19 restrictions, the in-person, annual convention would not be able to take place as usual.
Johnson spearheaded a committee of four to train to host the convention online. With Curtis Becker, Tracy Million Simmons, and Carol Yoho, the organization's October convention will take place virtually, via Zoom webinars, for the first time.
Kansas Authors Club was one of 282 literary organizations that received funding from this grant. The funds are provided to support the software licensing, support services, and training the committee has undergone to bring the convention to members throughout the state of Kansas and beyond.
More about the award can be found at The Literary Hub.
Kansas Authors Club hosts annual writing contests for adults featuring a wide rage of categories in prose and in poetry. Many of our districts host smaller contests throughout the year. District 7 recently shared with us the results of their contest, which was open to all members, regardless of district affiliation, and all writers residing in the state of Kansas. For more information about district activities, follow the link at left for "Districts" to find contacts for your area.
1st Place - Ronda Miller for “Thin Blue Line”
2nd Place - Julie Ann Baker Brin for “Lousy Band at Port of Wichita”
3rd Place - Julie Ann Baker Brin for “Eisenhower National Airport”
Honorable Mention - Ronda Miller for “Dew Drop Inn”
1st Place - Tracy Million Simmons for “Mom’s Pink Sweater”
2nd Place - Julie Ann Baker Brin for “Cognitive”
3rd Place - Linda Ahrens-Brower for “Nicky’s Mother”
Honorable Mention - Julie Johnson for “Life With Squirrels”
Honorable Mention - Tracy Million Simmons for “A Storybook Tale”
These winners will be awarded certificates and checks at the District 7 Convention on September 19, 2020 at Sharon Springs, KS. Those unable to attend will have their certificates and checks mailed to them.
Thank you all who participated.
There were 13 Poetry entries and 19 Prose entries.
Subscribe to our website to receive updates directly to your email inbox.
How to Submit News:
If you have news of writing events that would be of interest to all Kansas Authors Club members, or if you are a member (dues current) who would like to announce an achievement, please submit your news via this form.