Tag Archives: Writing

May Meeting: Alarms, Locks, and Outmaneuvering Home Security

Ever wonder how the bad guys get into places most people consider well protected? Or how that expensive lock failed to fortress your home? Join us for a discussion lead by Tom O’Connor.

For the past seven years, Tom has turned his focus to residential and commercial security, and currently works as a Senior Alarm System/Home Automation Consultant with Central Security Group. He knows a great deal about the bad guys and their tricks. But there’s more. Tom had top security clearance with the DOE and had his own consulting business with clients like the DOD. Ask him about his top client — A personal bodyguard. Count on an hour filled with interesting and fun topics that will inspire a great scene, prompt a new thriller, or work into a rich mystery.

Join us Saturday, May 5, 11 a.m.! This program is free and open to the public. This meeting will be held at the Antioch Branch of the Johnson County Library, 8700 Shawnee Mission Parkway, Merriam, Kansas.

Advertisements

April Meeting: Reporting On the Crime that Shakes a Community

Some crimes are news for a day. Some crimes are talked about for decades. In 1983, Sandy Bird, wife of Missouri Lutheran Synod minister Tom Bird, died in a suspicious car wreck near Rocky Ford Bridge southeast of Emporia, Kansas. Just a few months later, Marty Anderson, the husband of Lorna Anderson–Tom Bird’s secretary–was gunned down in front of his family on a quiet rural highway in central Kansas. (Read more about the murders here.) The sinister and juicy story conflicted Emporians who knew the families and caught the imaginations of reporters all over the country, and the people of Emporia found themselves the subject of a made-for-television miniseries called Murder Ordained.

Trooper John Rule (played by Keith Carradine) talks with reporters Bobbi Birk (played by Kathy Bates) and Nancy Horst (played by Margot Rose) of the Emporia Gazette in Murder Ordained.

When Bobbi Mlynar (Bobbi Birk back then) began reporting on the Bird/Anderson murders, she had no idea the case would span her entire career, or that she’d find herself played by Kathy Bates on the small screen. During our April 7 meeting, Mlynar will talk about the case, reporting, and be available to answer other questions.

More about Bobbi Mlynar, in her own words:

Annoying children — forever tugging on a sleeve and asking, “Why? Why?” — sometimes carry over their annoying habit into adulthood.  The most obnoxious among them probably become reporters. I did.

While working part-time as a keypunch operator at The Emporia Gazette and attending classes at the College of Emporia, the newspaper’s editor and publisher William Lindsay White convinced me to forget about history and political science and to go into journalism instead.

It was good advice where job satisfaction was concerned.

During my first 31 years at The Gazette, I also was a stringer for The Kansas City Star, The Topeka Capital-Journal, and United Press International. The Associated Press had free access to any of my stories because of The Gazette’s AP membership, so I’ve been published — but not paid — by numerous newspapers across the country.

I’ve received a few citations from the AP for my work, but have never submitted any stories for competitions through news organizations. However, my friend and fellow Gazette reporter Nancy Horst and I were nominated for two Pulitzer Prizes — which we did not win. (One went to a Kentucky newspaper for a university basketball scandal and I really don’t remember who won in the other category.)

I was co-writer on two books about Kansas storms and was a ghost writer for a book of vignette feature stories.

The Gazette forcibly promoted me to city editor in the late 1980s and, after a few of the most boring years I’d had in journalism, I left my career in 1994 and ended up in public relations, marketing, and fundraising.

I worked in the international department of a web press company and was public affairs supervisor for a statewide child-welfare agency, and for a time in-between, helped my son in his business.

After retirement in 2010, I was elected to the Emporia City Commission and now am serving my second 4-year term. I continue to do limited freelance writing and am gathering material for a book about some scandalous and murderous affairs in and around Emporia. I also am gathering anecdotes for a humorous look at menopause and the female aging process.

Join us Saturday, April 7, 11 a.m.! This program is free and open to the public. This meeting will be held at the Antioch Branch of the Johnson County Library, 8700 Shawnee Mission Parkway, Merriam, Kansas.

March Meeting: Practicing the Law From Both Sides

Writers fill books with lawyers and courtroom scenes, and our speaker in March will help us understand what lawyers do–whether they’re fighting on behalf of the defendant or trying to put the defendant behind bars.

Michael Dailey grew up in rural northwestern Missouri. Inspired by a grandfather who had been a roaming lawyer on horseback in his early days, Daily earned his undergraduate degree in economics and then his law degree from the UMKC School of Law. He started his career as an intern for legal aide for Western Mo. and then became a trial attorney for the court defense unit. While working as a Kansas City, Missouri, prosecutor for twenty-six years, Dailey also took private clients to defend on his own time. Since leaving the prosecutor’s office, he’s had his own full-time practice as a defense attorney.

The 120-year-old house and the 80-acre farm in Platte County where Dailey and his wife now live helped drive his decision to leave the prosecutor’s office. Because Kansas City prosecutors are required to live in the city, Daily could only visit the farm on weekends for several years. But the draw to return to his rural roots led him to become a full-time defender and a “gentleman farmer.” The farm now boasts organically-grown apple, apricot, and peach orchards, big gardens, a long house, and an old tobacco barn that has housed chickens, goats, mules, horses, geese, and tons of equipment at times.  Some of the equipment and vehicles Dailey has gathered over the years have been accepted as payment for defending people who had no other way to pay.

Dailey is a great story teller and has tales about all kinds of criminals and innocents from a long career on both sides of the aisle. He’s been a part of some of the most high-profile cases in Kansas City over the past forty+ years. This will be a fun and fascinating event for writers, readers, crime show watchers, and anyone curious about what life is like for lawyers.

Join us Saturday, March 3, 11 a.m.! This program is free and open to the public. This meeting will be held at the Antioch Branch of the Johnson County Library, 8700 Shawnee Mission Parkway, Merriam, Kansas.

December Meeting: Writers and Libraries

Helen and her dog, Max.

Helen Hokanson has worn many hats at Johnson County Library over the past 18 years. She has most recently landed in the Reference department, focusing on Readers Advisory. She loves connecting readers to writers, but her passions lean toward helping writers develop their craft and finding a home for every dog.

Her work projects include planning a yearly writers conference, bringing authors of interest to the KC Metro area, and hosting a monthly writing contest.

Johnson County Library is proud to support writers in our community. Helen Hokanson will talk about current initiatives, like our annual Writers Conference and writing contests; her hopes for future programs, and answer questions. Suggestions are also welcome!

Join us Saturday, December 2, 11 a.m.! This program is free and open to the public. This meeting will be held at the Antioch Branch of the Johnson County Library, 8700 Shawnee Mission Parkway, Merriam, Kansas.

July Meeting: What Makes a Book Good?

As writers we are always learning our craft. During this month’s meeting, we’ll talk about books that do a great job teaching craft–both nonfiction how-to books as well as fiction works that are excellent examples of craft.

Please bring lists and ideas of books that you feel do an exceptionally good job in one or more particular areas of writing: character development, setting, dialogue and description, conflict, planting clues and excellent writing guides. Our goal is to compile the lists so everyone can have a research bibliography.

Join us Saturday, July 1, 11 a.m.! This program is free and open to the public. This meeting will be held at the Antioch Branch of the Johnson County Library, 8700 Shawnee Mission Parkway, Merriam, Kansas.

April Meeting: Adapting Research to Different Types of Writing

Whether we’re writing mysteries, true crime, memoirs, or non-fiction, our writing always requires some level of research. During our May meeting, author Priscilla H. Wilson will discuss adapting our research skills to our projects.

Priscilla H. Wilson grew up in Arkansas City, Kansas, and now lives in the Kansas City area. Her writing credits cover a variety non-fiction genres, including short stories, instruction, memoir, and biography. Her titles include The Facilitative Way: Leadership That Makes a DifferenceA Pioneer Love Story: The Letters of Minnie HobartEveryday Wonder: From Kansas to Kenya from Ecuador to Ethiopia, and Zero Meridian, Five Degrees North.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Join us on Saturday, April 1 at 11 a.m. for this program, which is free and open to the public! This meeting will be held at the Antioch Branch of the Johnson County Library, 8700 Shawnee Mission Parkway, Merriam, Kansas.

March Meeting: Linda Rodriguez on Plotting the Character-Driven Novel

plotting-the-character-driven-novelFollowing the success of three award-winning novels, poet and author Linda Rodriguez turns her sought-after writing course on using depth of character as a springboard to a strong plot into a book designed to help the aspiring writer who wants to tell a story made compelling by the truth and complexity of its characters.

During our March meeting, Linda Rodriguez will talk about her new book, Plotting the Character-Driven Noveland explore the questions we need to ask our characters in order to create an exciting and complex plot.

Rodriguez has received much praise for her Skeet Bannion mysteries. Every Last Secret won the St. Martin’s Press/Malice Domestic Best First Traditional Mystery Novel Competition, was a Barnes & Noble Mystery Pick,  was featured by Las Comadres National Latino Book Club, and was a finalist for the International Latino Book Award. Every Broken Trust was named a Las Comadres National Latino Book Club selection. Her third novel, Every Hidden Fear, was named A Latina Book Club 2014 Best Book of the Year. Rodriguez is an active member of numerous writing organizations, including our own chapter of Sisters in Crime.

This program will be a hit with writers of any genre!

Linda Rodriguez will be selling and signing books at this event.

Join us on Saturday, March 4 at 11 a.m. for this program, which is free and open to the public! This meeting will be held at the Antioch Branch of the Johnson County Library, 8700 Shawnee Mission Parkway, Merriam, Kansas.