Last year, 2017, and this year so far, 2018, have been quite busy for me as a writer and
board member of the Nebraska Writers Guild. Busy has not been bad, quite the opposite, it has been rewarding and successful.
2017 started off with a Nebraska Writers Guild outreach titled Six Corners of Nebraska. These were programs in various locations around the state in celebration of the 150th anniversary of statehood. The programs consisted of speakers, and an author’s fair and readings by Guild authors. The first program was in March and at the extreme north by northwest location of Chadron. This program at the Chadron library had close to 100 people attending. Attendance was up and down, depending on the location. The next event was in Norfolk and Northeast Community College. That was in April. In May the Six Corners of Nebraska caravan stopped at Sarpy County Museum in Bellevue. Then it was McCook in June; North Platte in July, wrapping up in Kimball Nebraska in August.
What was beneficial was the outreach to all parts of Nebraska by the Writers Guild. These were locations where the Guild had never held an event and the people appreciated it.
While the Six Corner events were going on I was finishing up my second novel in the Keeper of an Ordinary series. This latest novel followed the events of 2015’s Keeper of an
Ordinary, a thriller in which the hero is pursued by members of the Russian mafia. I was able to complete the novel and publish it at the end of July 2017. It is entitled Keeper: Trial & Vengeance and I am very happy with the outcome. Readers have also told me they like the novel.
I had been pitching an idea to the Writers Guild board, and general membership for quite a few months. That idea was for the Guild to compile and publish an anthology of words by Guild members. This had never been done before in the more than 90-year history of the Guild. Of course, this never having been done before caused a few board members to be hesitant and worry the whole project would fall flat on its face and lose money for the Guild. No amount of positive ideas from me could assure them that this would not happen. Guild members had all the skills needed to put the anthology together. I had just finished Keeper: Trail & Vengeance and had time to devote to compiling, collating and editing material submitted. I also had the expertise of my friend and formatting genius Sue Michels. Sue had aided me in formatting and advice for all four of my novels, and she said she would help out with the Guild’s anthology. Victorine E. Lieske, a writer in the Guild, had also volunteered to help with the cover. She is well known for her covers. So all the pieces were there and at the lowest of costs.
Still they hesitated. It wasn’t until mid-September that the Board finally gave its okay to the anthology. Ironically, I was in Concord, MA, visiting with my sister and brother in law when I got the go-ahead. In fact, it was in the garden of Louisa May Alcott’s house when I got the call with the thumbs up. This was absolutely the last minute.
We set a submission fee, then opened submissions for October. And the response was overwhelming. By the deadline of Oct. 30 we had the work of over 64 Nebraska authors, and were looking at more than 500 pages. We had to make the cut somewhere, as the deadline was set for Dec. 15, 2017—to hit the Christmas and holiday season. So some very worthy writers were left off due to space.
November was frenzied with formatting and proof-reading. And so was the first two
weeks of December for final formats. But Voices from the Plains, the Nebraska Writers Guild first anthology hit its deadline and was available as a paperbook and ebook on the 15th of December. It ended up at 468 pages, with the works of over 60 Nebraska writers. It spanned as many genres as we could, from fiction to poetry, to journalism and instruction, to novel excerpts, flash fiction and haikus.
The anthology has been well received and successful, not losing money, but making a fair amount of money for the non-profit Writers Guild.
Little glitches here and there have made work with Voices from the Plains ongoing…but mostly it has been rounds upon rounds of readings in bookstores and libraries across the state. I was even invited on NPR radio LIVE to discuss the anthology. And then a segment with Wayne Anson, the Nebraska Writers Guild president and myself on the University of Nebraska Omaha television program: Consider This.
Meanwhile, during February, I had my first novel: Algonquin, turned into an audio book. This was an interesting experience. I hired a voice actor and reviewed all the chapters he
read. Algonquin the audio book is available on iTunes and Audible now.
The busy 2017 overlapped into 2018. I have a backlog of quite a few short stories which I have done over the years. I am in the process of rewriting, editing and adding a few more, with the idea of putting out a collection of short stories.
But don’t worry...I have an ongoing novel project that I have been working on over the years that just may need some time and rewriting before I put it out. And, though I didn’t think it—there might be a third Keeper of an Ordinary thriller in the offing for next year.
So stay tuned.