Sunday, April 30, 2006

NCKLS Book Fair

Speaking of Manhattan, this Thursday, May 4, I'll be at the Manhattan (Kansas) Public Library for the North Central Kansas Libraries System Book Fair. I'll be there with other Kansas authors at the Kansas Center for the Book booth.

Friday, April 28, 2006

Great Manhattan Mystery Conclave

This morning I sent in my registration for the Great Manhattan Mystery Conclave, a terrific conference for mystery readers and writers that will take place November 3–5, 2006, in Manhattan, Kansas. This is the third year for the conclave, and I recommend it to anyone who loves mysteries. It's a smaller conference, warm, friendly, and very well organized, with terrific panels and workshop sessions, and past keynote speakers such as Margaret Maron, Carolyn Wheat, Carolyn Hart, and Patricia Sprinkle. Last year the fabulous Nancy Pickard presented Part 1 of her revision workshop, which in itself was worth the price of admission. This year she'll present a refresher of Part 1 as well as her revision workshop Part 2.

Speaking of Nancy Pickard, I just finished her latest mystery, The Virgin of Small Plains, which centers on the fifteen-year-old unsolved murder of a beautiful young woman found frozen on a cattle ranch in Kansas, and the tangled lives of the townspeople most intimately involved in her death. WOW, what a book. I predict it will be nominated for many mystery awards next year.

Sunday, April 23, 2006

Ste-e-e-e-eamboat A-Comin’!

One of the best things about my trip to Chicago was meeting picture book author Jill Esbaum and getting an autographed copy of her book Ste-e-e-e-eamboat A-Comin’! I’m not surprised this book won the Friends of American Writers Juvenile Literary Award. The story is a vibrant poem that evokes the excitement of a riverboat landing in a sleepy Mississippi River town. The details—burly, brawny roustabouts; pickles and brass spittoons; upstate papers bringing news—paint a vivid picture of a small town in the 1800s, and the rhythm of the poem moves perfectly from slow anticipation as the riverboat approaches to the bustle and commotion of passengers and cargo disembarking to quiet settling in again as the riverboat pulls away to continue its journey. The illustrations by Adam Rex echo that rhythm, with pictures becoming larger and more energetic as the riverboat arrives, then smaller and more pastoral as the riverboat fades away.

Friday, April 14, 2006

Home from Chicago

The Friends of American Writers awards luncheon in the Crystal Room of the Union League Club in downtown Chicago was fabulous. A jazz guitarist played as the writers met Friends members and signed books. The lunch itself was delicious, and the members treated us like royalty.

The Friends of American Writers honored four authors:

• Children’s Picture Book: Jill Esbaum, Ste-e-e-emboat A Comin!, Farrar, Straus & Giroux
• Children’s Novel: L. D. Harkrader (me), Airball: My Life in Briefs, Roaring Brook
• Adult Fiction: Dean Bakopoulis, Please Don’t Come Back From the Moon, Harcourt
• Adult Nonfiction: Steve Bogira, Courtroom 302, Knopf

Many thanks to the Friends of American Writers—who truly are friends of writers—especially the Juvenile Literary Awards Committee and committee chairman Caroline Wheeler.

An added note: I was a bit nervous about taking the train from O’Hare to my downtown hotel. I was sure I’d get on the wrong train, end up in a suburb in Indiana, and wander the streets the rest of my life, lugging my suitcases and never finding my way back. I shouldn’t have worried. Taking the Blue Line from the airport to downtown Chicago is nearly idiot-proof, and just to prove that any idiot can do it, here's a picture of me on the train:


Yes, I’m sure I looked like a goober snapping my own picture, but the two other people on the train car were obviously native Chicagoans, immune to the lunacies of tourists from the sticks like me. They didn’t give me so much as a sideways glance.

Sunday, April 09, 2006

Kansas Author Dinner

I had a wonderful time at the Kansas Author Dinner in Wichita. I met several librarians, plus booksellers from Watermark Books and Book Kansas!, had fajitas for dinner, and signed copies of Airball: My Life in Briefs.

Now I'm packing for my trip to Chicago.

Tuesday, April 04, 2006

Flying to Chicago

I hardly ever travel, but lately I've turned into quite the jet-setter. I'll be at the Kansas Author Dinner in Wichita this Thursday, at an awards luncheon in Chicago on April 12, and at a book fair in Manhattan (Kansas, not the famous one, but a very nice town in its own right) on May 4.

I'm excited about the trip to Chicago for a couple of reasons: 1.) it's Chicago; and 2.) the reason I'm going is to accept an award. The Friends of American Writers gives four awards each year—two to adult books, one to a children's picture book, and one to a children's chapter book—and this year my novel, Airball: My Life in Briefs, won the award for children's chapter book. I'm stunned (in a good way) by the news.

Sunday, April 02, 2006

Driving to Wichita

On Thursday, April 6, I'll be at the Century II Convention Center in Wichita, Kansas, attending the Kansas Author Dinner sponsored by The Kansas Center for the Book. I can't wait to meet other Kansas authors, librarians, booksellers, and book lovers.