Missouri Author Tour

Yesterday I mentioned the New Jersey State SCBWI Conference in Princeton, on June 4-5. Today I’d like to tell you about a different kind of opportunity for writers, librarians, teachers, and anyone else who is interested in childrens literature and the people who create it.

The Missouri Author Tour will take you by deluxe motor coach from St. Louis to Kansas City and back in four days (June 4-7). Along the way you will meet ten of Missouri’s most successful creators of children’s literature. Their combined talents include poetry, YA novel, picture book, nonfiction, illustration, playwriting, and storytelling.

The tour is guided by Dr. Linda Benson, professor emeritus at Missouri State University. Linda is enthusiastic and knowledgeable about children’s and young adult literature. Her infectious energy and sense of fun will add to the enjoyment of your trip. Dr. Benson is a longtime member of Writers Hall of Fame, an organization that since 1997 has encouraged an interest in writing by honoring authors and awarding scholarships to high school seniors. All proceeds from the Missouri Author Tour go toward creating additional scholarships. Because of Dr. Benson’s credentials and the caliber of our featured authors, Drury University will make available one hour of credit at the undergraduate or graduate level.

In addition to meeting the authors, the trip includes a Mississippi River sightseeing cruise; guided tour of Booksource, a major book distributor in the midwest (with book buying opportunities); guided costumed docent tour of historic St. Charles, including a visit from chidren’s author Vicki Berger Erwin; and dining on Laclede’s Landing featuring some of the best jazz in St. Louis.

The stars of the tour include Vicki Grove, Cheryl Harness, and June Rae Wood. You’ve met Vicki and Cheryl as guests on my blog and June Rae is coming up on March 5. You’ll meet others on future dates. Here is the entire cast.

J.B. Cheaney (she may or may not tell you what the initials stand for) was born in Dallas and dropped out
of college to get married. In the 36 years since, she and her husband have lived in six different states, moved a total of 23 times, raised two children and home-schooled them for a dozen years. When not writing, or thinking about it, she likes to travel, read, sing, sew, do needlework and sleep—though not necessarily in that order. She lives in Bolivar, Mo. Her works include three Wordsmith books and novels, The Playmaker, The True Prince, My Friend the Enemy and her most recent, The Middle of Somewhere.

Vicki Grove, who lives near Cole Camp, Mo., has been a freelance writer for 29 years, and has published
300 articles and short stores in various magazines. Two of her short stories and three excerpts from her books have been used in junior high and high school textbooks. She was part of a team of writers commissioned to produce Word Publishing’s Youth Study Bible. She has written ten novels, including Destiny and her most recent, Rhiannon, a murder mystery set in medieval England. She recently completed her second historical novel, The Red Dove.

Cheryl Harness, who has written and/or illustrated some 30 titles, lives and works in her historic hometown
of Independence, Mo. Harry Truman once took his daily walks in her leafy neighborhood full of handsome old homes and mansions, which is the setting for her novel, Just For You to Know. She has just completed The Harry Book, a comic book about HST’s life and times. Her picture book subjects range from American women’s history to ancient Egyptians’ daily life along the Nile. Her vocation began with a degree in art education at Central Missouri State University. She loves to spend time with friends, sew, read murder mysteries and go to the movies.

Kate Klise. author of picture books, middle-grade graphic and young adult novels, says her mother, a teacher “gave me a set of luggage, a typewriter and a direct order. She said she’d pay for my college education only if I wrote one letter home every week for all four years of college.” It’s not surprising, then, that many of her books, including the Regarding Series, are epistolary novels. “Everything I know about writing came from writing letters home.” Her collaborator and illustrator is her sister, Sarah, who lives in California. Together, the Klise sisters have netted award nominations in 20 states. Kate lives in rural Missouri and also works as a correspondent for People Magazine and, since 1993, has covered everything from country music to reality TV to rappers, rockers, serial killers, a leper colony in Louisiana and, yes, of course, Brad Pitt.

Constance Levy, a former teacher, college instructor and lecturer, is a children’s poet who evokes essences of the natural world with imagination and playfulness. Her collections of poems appeal to adults and children. “In fi rst grade, I wrote a poem about snow and the teacher praised it so highly, I just kept on writing—even to this day, as a grandmother.” The St. Louis author has been honored for her works, including Splash, A Tree
Place, A Crack in the Clouds
and When Whales Exhale.

Dorinda Makana onalani Nicholson was born in Hawaii to a Hawaiian mother and Scotch-Irish father. The family lived in Pearl Harbor and, standing in their front yard on the morning of December 7, 1941, she clung to her father’s side while enemy torpedo bombers screamed overhead, skimming the treetops, so close Dorinda could see the pilot’s goggles. That early experience informed her mission to bring World War II history alive for young readers. She wrote Pearl Harbor Child and Pearl Harbor Warriors. Her third and newest book, Remember World War II: Kids Who Survived Tell Their Stories, was published by National Geographic. She lives in Independence, Mo., and is a popular speaker at young writers’ conferences because she makes history personal and not just facts and dates.

Lynn Rubright has been a professional storyteller and educator for more than 40 years. Her primary focus
has been performing her original tales for all ages and demonstrating the power of storytelling as a literacy tool in the classroom. Her first chapter book, Mama’s Window, is historical fiction, loosely based on episodes from the childhood of Reverend Owen Whitfi eld, a noted activist, labor and civil rights leader who worked to help Missouri’s sharecroppers during the Great Depression. Currently, she is working on bringing Mama’s Window and other children’s literature to life through drama, storytelling, movement and music with elementary school students in St. Louis area schools.

Eileen Bluestone Sherman, a children’s author, playwright, lyricist and producer, began her career at
Hallmark’s Coterie Theatre in Kansas City in 1982. She won an Emmy for her television adaptation of The Odd Potato, originally written as a picture book. With her collaborator and sister, Gail Bluestone, she adapted the story for the New York theater and produced a charity CD of the musical that starred 20 Tony Award actors. Her drama, Deep, Dark Secrets, about teenage girls and eating disorders debuted last year. She’s also written three young adult novels and loves teaching dramatic literature courses to graduate students. She and her husband, Dr. Neal Sherman, will celebrate their 36th wedding anniversary and their 30th year in Kansas City in June.

June Rae Wood grew up with seven siblings in Versailles, Mo., reading every chance she got. However,
writing never interested her, not even when she went to college. Many years past before the writing “bug” bit her. She honed her skills by studying how-to books and listening to her work on a tape recorder. Her first novel, The Man Who Loved Clowns, was based on the life of her beloved brother. The novel won the 1995 Mark Twain Award in Missouri and the 1995 William Allen White Award in Kansas. She has written four other novels for young adults—A Share of Freedom, When Pigs Fly, Turtle on a Fence Post and About Face. Wood has contributed to two anthologies edited by Sandy Asher: Writing It Right! and On Her Way: Stories and Poems about Growing Up Girl, and her work has appeared in various publications, including Family Circle, Reader’s Digest, School & Community, The Lookout, New Ways and the Sedalia Democrat. Wood remains happily married to William Wood, the man she met on a blind date years ago. They live near Windsor, Mo., and have a daughter and two granddaughters.

Leslie Wyatt, a freelance writer from Clinton, Mo., is a two-time graduate of the Institute of Children’s
Literature, a member of the Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators and of the Missouri Writer’s Guild. She has had more than 100 articles and stories accepted for publication in various children’s magazines,writing and parenting magazines and anthologies. In addition to her historical middle school novel, Poor Is Just a Starting Place, she has two more books submitted to publishers. Of all the writing she does, Leslie loves concocting historical and contemporary novels the best and is currently working on her first historical fantasy.

Prices for Missouri Author Tour range from $620 each (four in a room) to $858 each (for a single room) and includes round-trip, deluxe motor coach transportation from St. Louis, Mo., three nights’ deluxe lodging with hot breakfasts each morning and manager’s receptions each evening, plus two dinners and one lunch. Admissions and fees for the entertainment listed above and all taxes, service charges and gratuities are included. For reservations, which require a $500 deposit and complete payment by May 8, contact Brian Garrison at Bgarrison@greatsoutherntravel.com. Questions? Contact David Harrison at davidlharrison1@att.net.

David

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5 comments on “Missouri Author Tour

    • Hi Claire,

      We’re starting with a Missouri tour but hope to do the same sort of thing in other states if this first one is successful. It would be both fun and instructive to take as many tours as possible. It’s a unique way to travel, meet others who enjoy children’s literature, and become acquainted with some of the best authors and illustrators in the business. Plus, you can earn college credit while you’re doing it.

      David

  1. David,
    I have had the pleasure of hearing you and Cheryl at the NYStateReadingAssociation meetings and have several of yours book (Cheryl’s too). I am interested in attending this wonderful tour, but have conflicts the may not allow it to happen this year. Do you plan to do it again next year? If my life does allow it to occur this year, are their openings at the present time with single room availability? Looking forward to hearing from you. Lesley

  2. This summer for our summer program we are doing a leap into literature theme. We are a preschool/school age program and are interested in finding some local authors to come into the school and talk with the children. We are in Springfield MO. Can you give me any assistance on this? You can contact me at llgrant71@yahoo.com

    • Laura,

      We tried two straight years to drum enough business for a successful tour but not enough people signed up. If you are looking for area authors, you can find several on the website for Missouri Writes for Kids.

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