Friday, December 29, 2006

Updates & Tidbits

This fall I was very lucky to be invited to many writer events. On September 29, I motored down to Wichita to sign books at the first-ever Kansas Book Festival. It was a rollicking success, with busloads of students from all over the state rolling into Lawrence-Dumont Stadium to listen to storytellers, authors, musicians, and historians. Plans are underway for next year’s festival.

That evening I was honored, along with the fourteen other Kansas Notable Books authors, at a ball at Exploration Place, Wichita’s science museum. We received very cool medals, so big and heavy I felt like I’d won gold at the Olympics. Actually, we were all treated like we’d won the Olympics. After the ceremony, we listened to jazz, enjoyed an incredible spread of food (I was seated next to the chocolate fountains—yes, they had two: one for white chocolate, and one for dark) and yumptious wine from Wyldewood Cellars, and toured the museum exhibits, including the flight simulators and the traveling Sue the T-Rex exhibit.

Kansas Notable Books authors at the ball. I’m standing between the wonderful Jane Kurtz and David Parks, who was accepting for his father, the late Gordon Parks.

On November 2, I visited Piper Middle School, where I spoke to the 6th, 7th, and 8th graders, conducted a writers’ workshop for students who are particularly interested in writing, and afterward signed books. It was a fun day. The students were very attentive and asked great questions, and the school building itself is very impressive. Their stage is at one end of the commons area and has auditorium-like seating so that it was very easy for the kids to see me, for me to see the kids, and for all of us to talk back and forth.

<—During one of the assemblies at Piper Middle School.

<—Writers’ workshop at Piper Middle School.

On November 3, I drove out to Manhattan (Kansas, not New York, which would have been fun, too, but a much longer drive) to the Great Manhattan Mystery Conclave, one of my favorite, favorite conferences. I met Harley Jane Kozak, whom I’ve loved since she played Annabelle on Guiding Light, attended Nancy Pickard’s editing workshop and lots of panels (including my own on writing for children and on the Kansas Center for the Book), and hung out all weekend with book-loving pals old and new.

On November 14, I attended the fall book fair at Prairie Elementary School in Prairie Village, Kansas. Mrs. Renft, the book fair committee, and the students all made me feel so welcome. They saved a parking spot for me right by the front door with a sign that said “Reserved for Author L.D. Harkrader.” The kids were excited about reading Airball and jostled each other in line to be the first to get their book signed. Mrs. Renft did a great job organizing the fair, and Reading Reptile provided the books.

On December 2, I gave a little talk and signed books at Book Barn in Leavenworth as part of their Holiday Open House. Book Barn owners Bob and Barb Spear are wonderful hosts. Barb made chili and other tantalizing food, and Bob and a friend played music on different stringed instruments. Book Barn is a very homey, welcoming store, and many of its loyal customers go there just to hang out with the Spears and talk books, history, politics, music, or whatever subject comes up.

Wow. I’ve done a lot in the last few months. I think I need a nap.

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