Monday, February 25, 2019

What's Next on the Meadowlark Bookshelf... and next, and next, and next

A note from the publisher's desk: Tracy Million Simmons

File this entry under "good problems to have!" Selecting manuscripts for publication in 2019 has been difficult, I'm not going to lie. We had so many quality submissions this year. While we continue to make our way through several non-fiction titles and more than a handful of poetry manuscripts, I wanted to go ahead and share a note of congratulations to the following authors. These manuscripts are currently in the queue at Meadowlark and we look forward to sharing these titles with our readers in the coming months.

Expected Spring 2019
James Kenyon's, Golden Rule Days: History and Recollections of 109 Closed Kansas High Schools, is currently undergoing final proofreading, indexing, and we expect to be sending Advance Reader Copies out into the world this week! Coming in at 388 pages, this has been a project many months in the making. We are so proud of the gorgeous book this manuscript is becoming!

James Kenyon has created a fascinating book for the countless Kansans who were heartbroken when their high schools closed. He has done extensive research and has interviewed former students of 109 Kansas communities who lost their high schools, many due to a Kansas school consolidation law passed in 1963. He’s featured at least one school from each of the 105 counties and tells a brief story of the school, the community, and its people. I was pleased that my own hometown, Pawnee Rock, was one of his highlighted schools. It was a painful time for our community. Those who were directly affected by these closures will treasure this book, and the nuggets of small-town history will make this a treasure for anyone interested in the Kansas experience.
~Cheryl Unruh, author of Flyover People: Life on the Ground in a Rectangular State, Waiting on the Sky: More Kansas Essays, and Walking on Water

We are also thrilled to be at work on the poetry collection, A Certain Kind of Forgiveness, by Carol Kapaun Ratchenski, winner of The Birdy Poetry Prize in 2019. We expect a spring delivery for this book, as well.

There is a worldliness in these poems, the kind of grit that accompanies a strong heart. There’s awareness--of the self, of the world. And the poems are populated with the magical, husky things of this earth: warm beer in Berlin, rice in a bowl in a monastery, and stains from fresh cranberries. These are poems we can savor, now and again.
 ~Kevin Rabas, Poet Laureate of Kansas, 2017-2019  

Valentine, poems by Ruth Maus
Coming to a bookshelf near you!
And now for a glimpse at some titles you have not yet heard about!

A second collection of poetry forthcoming is Valentine, by Ruth Maus, of Topeka, Kansas. Ruth was
a finalist in The Birdy Poetry Prize competition.

We are looking forward to publishing our first "true crime" story, a page-turning gem by Mike Hartnett of Lawrence, Kansas, formerly of Illinois, called And I Cried, Too

And finally, we are very excited about a book by Julie Stielstra, of Lyons, Illinois, called Opulence, KS. I fell in love with this story from first read. In fact, I quickly dropped my plans to preview the first 20 pages of all submissions for that day and stayed with the story until I was finished, cover to cover. It is a delightful read, and one we think many readers are going to love, too.

From Julie's submission letter:
Opulence, KS germinated from a seed in a book of Kansas history, describing the 19th century town of Runnymede–founded by a wealthy Irishman who was going to teach the younger sons of British gentry how to farm. It didn’t go well, but some remnants of that project linger in the prairie. Add in some aspects of my adopted hometown of Ellinwood, and Opulence was built, a prairie town where a big-city girl finds herself for the summer in the aftermath of her wealthy father’s death. Katie Myrdal is abruptly shifted from one form of opulence to another, from urban to rural, from material wealth to emotional richness, from a land of vertical skyscrapers to a sweep of horizons and uninterrupted sky.  

There are also plans to work with Caryn Mirriam-Goldberg on a collection of poetry at year's end or possibly next year's beginning titled How Time Moves: New and Collected Poems. If you have not already read Caryn's recent interview at Written in Kansas, by Cheryl Unruh, please take a moment to do so now!

I look forward to sharing our progress!

Sunday, February 17, 2019

What's Next on the Meadowlark Bookshelf

A Publisher's Desk
I cleaned my desk last week (and it is still clean!) so now I can show you, quite literally, some pages from the next book that will appear on the Meadowlark Bookshelf. If you've been following Meadowlark for long, you'll remember James Kenyon, author of A Cow for College, winner of the 2018 Martin Kansas History Book Award. James has been hard at work on another book. He spent much of the last couple of years, in fact, driving back and forth across Kansas to complete this project.
This collection of stories of the former high schools of Kansas developed as I traveled through western Kansas fifty years after graduating—Class of 1966—with a class of six from Bogue Rural High School, Graham County. I started counting the towns where I played ball as a youth. All but one of the thirty-two had lost their high school in the intervening years. This collection of high school stories was compiled in effort to preserve a small part of these schools for history. The stories are varied. There is no intent to slight any community or former high school that was omitted. By writing about just one high school in each of the 105 Kansas counties, I provide a statewide perspective of Kansas. Four counties were given a second high school story as there were such great resources available I felt they needed to be included.
~James Kenyon, Golden Rule Days: History and Recollections of 109 Closed Kansas High Schools 

James handed the manuscript off to us last year and we have been hard at work editing, proofreading, and now finally laying out the book's interior. This is my favorite part of publishing. Building a book, page by page. We are so close!

Watch for more news about this forthcoming publication. We will be posting details about pre-ordering your copy soon!

Cover Art: Golden Rule Days, by Barbara Steward Kenyon

Friday, February 15, 2019

ESU Bulletin Honors Kansas Authors Celebration at Ellen Plumb

Featured is Kevin Rabas, reading his poem entitled "Kansas Awakening"

The Kansas Authors Showcase was held Feb. 2 at Ellen Plumb's City Bookstore, where Meadowlark authors took to the stage to read their texts. This event is held annually to promote the importance of local and regional reading, as the publishers who were featured (including Meadowlark) focus attention on Kansas authors and books set in Kansas or the Midwest. The ESU Bulletin wrote the story to promote the importance of Kansas authorship, which . 

The event featured several Meadowlark authors: Joann Garrity Williams, Roy J. Beckemeyer, Michael D. Graves, Ronda Miller, Kevin Rabas, and Tracy Million Simmons. Meadowlark Press, Slothhead Press, and Kellogg Press were all in attendance.  

Wednesday, February 13, 2019

Spring 2019 Intern

Welcome to Meadowlark, Mackenzie! 

Mackenzie Thornton, junior English major

We are pleased to introduce our Spring 2019 intern, Mackenzie Thornton. She is currently a junior at Emporia State University, where she is majoring in English. Mackenzie is a student-athlete at ESU, where she plays softball. In her past, Mackenzie has worked with the university newspaper, The Bulletin, as a news and sports journalist. Mackenzie is interested in a career in contractual law and editorial work, and through her internship with Meadowlark, she hopes to gain insight to the business aspects of publishing and editing. 

Friday, February 1, 2019

The Birdy Poetry Prize Awarded to Fargo Native, Carol Kapaun Ratchenski

Emporia, KS – Meadowlark Books is pleased to announce the winner of the inaugural flight of The Birdy Poetry Prize. With a $500 cash prize and publication of the full-length poetry book, A Certain Kind of Forgiveness, the 2019 award goes to Carol Kapaun Ratchenski, of Fargo, North Dakota.
Of Ratchenski’s poetry collection, Kevin Rabas, Poet Laureate of Kansas, 2017-2019, writes, “There is a worldliness in these poems, the kind of grit that accompanies a strong heart. There’s awareness—of the self, of the world. And the poems are populated with the magical, husky things of this earth: warm beer in Berlin, rice in a bowl in a monastery, and stains from fresh cranberries. These are poems we can savor, now and again.”

Ratchenski is a lifelong resident of North Dakota, in her words, “where you can see the sky without ever looking up and the open spaces demand art. And sometimes, love.” Her first collection of poetry, A Beautiful Hell, won the 2016 Many Voices Project and was published by New Rivers Press. A Beautiful Hell has since been adapted to the stage by Laurie J. Baker with the support of Theater “B” and Humanities North Dakota. Ratchenskiʼs first novel, Mambaby was published in 2013 by Knuckledown Press. Her work has appeared in Gypsy Cab, Red Weather, North Dakota Quarterly, Wintercount, Lake Region Review, Dust and Fire, Dash, NDSU Magazine and others as well as in the anthologies Resurrecting Grace: Remembering Catholic Childhoods, edited by Marilyn Sewell, Beacon Press, 2001, The Cancer Poetry Project: Poems by Cancer Patients and Those Who Love Them, edited by Karen B. Miller, Fairview Press, 2007, and Visiting Bob: Poems Inspired by the Life and Work of Bob Dylan, edited by Thom Tammaro and Alan Davis, New Rivers Press, 2018.

Ratchenski is a Licensed Professional Counselor and the owner/operator of Center for Compassion and Creativity in Fargo, ND, where she also lives. She is at work on a second novel while she prepares to be honest, loving, disruptive, and groovy at age 60.

A Certain Kind of Forgiveness ( is due out spring 2019. It will be available to order from the author, from the Meadowlark Books web-store, and for order through all online and traditional book outlets. Meadowlark encourages readers to support their nearest independent bookstore. Meadowlark Books created The Birdy Poetry Prize to celebrate the voices of this era. $500 annual cash prize, publication, and 50 copies. Learn more at


Wednesday, January 30, 2019

Interview with Roy J. Beckemeyer, Poet

Our paths first crossed as Kansas Authors Club members, and I was delighted to publish Stage Whispers, Roy’s second book of poetry, in 2018. It was fun to visit with Roy about his poetry and process.              ~Tracy Million Simmons, Meadowlark Books

Q: First, I find your career path fascinating. It is my understanding that you are a retired Boeing Aircraft engineer. As well, you’ve published scientific papers on fossilized dragonflies. I’ve gotten to know you as a poet, of course, and as someone who follows you on social media, I would classify you as an all-around artistic personality. Photography. Painting. You are a man of many talents. Talk to me about how it ties together. How does one go from engineer to poet?

A: I’d have to say that I started out life as a reader. I can recall my father reading the Sunday comics to us as children, and I learned to be a reader from him. We lived in a small Illinois village 50 miles east of St. Louis, without a library or bookstore. We did get two daily papers, the Globe-Democrat and Post-Dispatch, the local county paper, and a weekly, along with magazines like Saturday Evening Post and Life and Look. I recall reading the papers (beginning with the funnies, which is where I still start the morning paper) as a little kid nearly every day. I was a good student, getting mostly A’s in pretty much everything except Handwriting and Deportment, but I loved science, math, and English the most. Once I got to high school, I was reading everything in the library as well as a lot of science fiction. I also wrote stories and poems. I wrote poetry to my high school sweetheart, Pat, who is now my wife of 57 years. I had a hard time deciding between majoring in English or Engineering but had an uncle with a Ph.D. in math who taught at St. Louis University, and my grandmother, who lived with us, was always telling me how, with my good grades, I might someday become a doctor and professor like him. So, I decided on engineering.

I find poetry and science/engineering not that far removed from one another. Both require one to be detail oriented—an airliner has millions of components that all need to work together in unison, and small missteps can lead to disaster; one has to pay attention both to the details and the way those details fit together into a whole. Poetry requires that you notice the special in the everyday, the universal in the personal. So, there is a similarity in terms of focus. The two areas of study do share an interest in concision, in stripping away the unimportant and laying out the essence of the matter at hand. There is a difference in the way the results are expressed; engineering demands precise and accurate description while poetry thrives on metaphor and allusion. However, Brother Guy Consolmagno (Director of the Vatican Observatory) would differ; in an article in the Wall Street Journal (“An Astronomer’s View of the Christmas Sky,” by Kyle Peterson, Dec. 22-23, 2018), he stated: “Science is also poetry. When I describe the path of a falling rock using Newton’s law of gravity, I’m saying the path that the rock makes when it falls is like the solution to this equation. It’s simile.”

Monday, January 21, 2019

Twice the Fun - First Friday at Ellen Plumb’s City Bookstore and Kansas Day Authors Celebration

First Friday at Ellen Plumb's City Bookstore
Friday, February 1, 2019 – 5pm-8pm
1122 Commercial, Emporia, KS
Join Tracy Million Simmons, Meadowlark Books, for Ellen Plumb’s signature event! Tracy will be February’s Guest Host for an evening of literature and music! Bring something to read, and music and instruments to play—Open Mic is open to everyone!

Join us at 5:30 for a mini panel discussion about publishing with Meadowlark Books. Tracy will talk a bit about the seed that started Meadowlark, guidelines for submitting manuscripts, and how Meadowlark has evolved in the last six years. Cheryl Unruh and Michael D. Graves will be on hand to answer questions about their experiences as Meadowlark authors, and to kick off the Open Mic event for the evening, which starts at 6pm!

Saturday, February 2, 2019 – 11am-5:30pm

From Ellen Plumb’s City Bookstore (1122 Commercial, Emporia, KS): This year, our focus is on local small publishers. You’ll find tables for each publisher featuring their entire catalog of books. All day, you’ll have the opportunity to chat with these small press authors and get your own autographed copies of their books. Market Macarons will be on site with delicious handmade macarons for sale at 1pm.

The stage/reading schedule is:
11:00-12:30 -- Kellogg Press, Curtis Becker, publisher
1:00-2:00 -- Slothhead Press, Katelyn Dorrell, publisher
2:15-3:00 -- Kevin Rabas, Kansas Poet Laureate
3:30-5:30 -- Meadowlark, Tracy Simmons, publisher

Meadowlark Authors who plan to be in attendance:
Joann Garrity Williams
Roy J. Beckemeyer
Michael D. Graves
Ronda Miller
Kevin Rabas
Tracy Million Simmons
(maybe more… check back!)