October 13-15, I attended my 15th Kansas Authors Club Convention. I’ve only missed two since I became a member 17 years ago. This year the event was held in Coffeyville, Kansas. I have circled the state more than twice now attending conventions with KAC, and, as almost always, I was extremely pleased with the quality of presenters, I very much enjoyed the time spent with my writing family, and I came away with new ideas and inspirations sure to fuel my writing work well into the coming year.
Some highlights: Pete Walterscheid performed his magic for us twice! Attendees got a show on Friday evening, a great warm-up for the weekend, and he performed again for the youth awards event on Saturday.
Speaking of youth awards, I think we had the best event for our young writers that we have had to date. Our programs for young writers keep improving and I am so proud to be a part of KAC’s efforts to encourage these kids. For many years now, formatting the Youth Awards Book (printing courtesy of Mennonite Press) has been a highlight of my KAC experience. This year, I continued my support of the creation of the book by lending the talents of an intern for my publishing company, Meadowlark Books. Sammy Beck is a senior at Emporia State University majoring in English with a minor in creative writing. She did a fantastic job on the publication and her original artwork for the book’s cover was a hit.
I attended several worthwhile workshops, but I think my favorite this year was listening to Michael and David Frizell talk about the story of their graphic novel, Bender. Michael is a writer with more than 20 graphic novels on his resume. David is a graphic artist. The brothers spent their school years in Labette County were the Bender family legend was rooted and grew. They entertained the audience with stories of their collaboration, from the results of research on the Bender family history to details on constructing a graphic novel. Especially meaningful to KAC members was the fact that Fern Wood, Michael’s grade school teacher who first sparked his interest in the Bender family, was president of our organization from 1996-97. Fern was the author of The Benders: Keepers of the Devils Inn (published 1992).
I also enjoyed hearing from (but didn’t hear nearly enough from) busvlogger James Moore. His YouTube channel is billed as a lifestyle vlog and I was intrigued by his focus on featuring people who are following dreams. He had some lessons on branding that I need to study more closely. Lucky for me, I can now follow him online!
We had a fantastic presentation on travel writing by Lisa Waterman Gray and I also enjoyed the workshop on outlining novels by Cherilyn Hearn. My only regret was the workshops I was unable to attend, with so many great ones to choose from, there was no way to make it to them all.
I always enjoy this opportunity to connect with my writing friends from across the state. The 2017 convention has come and gone, and I find myself sorting through post-convention responsibilities. Though I have passed the job of yearbook editor on after ten years, I continue to be a member of the state board as the assistant to the financial secretary (membership chair) and unofficial advisor/helper for both youth and adult contests. I’ve got pages and pages of notes to fuel my own projects in the new year and I look forward to putting them to good use.
|1. Ronda Miller presents my friend, Gloria Zachgo, with the Coffin Memorial Book Award for her novel, Hush Girl: It's Only a Dream. 2. My Emporia writing peeps made quite a showing at the convention!|
Our final speaker of the convention, Kevin Olson, wrapped up the event with so many words and lessons I wanted to capture to carry home. His message summarized: What we have to give is not as important as that we give what we have.
Next year’s convention will take place the first weekend of October in Salina, Kansas. Go ahead and mark your calendar! Anyone with an interest in writing is welcome to become a member of Kansas Authors Club. You can find them on Facebook, and in-person meetings and writing groups in several locations in Kansas.