So, this story about my new book, Waiting on the Sky, was in the Emporia Gazette prior to last Thursday’s reading at the Lyon County History Center.
I’m thrilled to be giving a book talk/reading at the future home of the Lyon County History Center, 709 Commercial in Emporia, on Thursday, Sept. 4, at 6:00 p.m.,
The Lyon County Historical Society is in fund-raising mode, working at bringing in money to renovate the building in downtown Emporia. Right now the museum is in the cramped, yet historical, Carnegie Library building. But, there’s not enough room for exhibits or to store artifacts. Or to have a large community gathering.
Anyway, I’m excited to have my first Emporia reading from my new book here in this new but empty building. I’ll read from Waiting on the Sky and will talk a little about my writing process and about the Flyover People column that I wrote for 11 years for The Emporia Gazette.
Greg Jordan, Director of the Lyon County History Center, will speak about the plans they have for developing the building and will give tours of the facility after my talk/reading.
I will happily donate half of the profits from the book sales that evening to the building fund. So, come, listen, tour, and purchase a Flyover People or Waiting on the Sky book to help contribute to the *new* Lyon County History Center. Be a part of our history!
And today, a lovely review came in from Terry Needham, an author from Illinois. Terry’s review of Waiting on the Sky:
Cheryl Unruh is one of my favorite Kansas authors. She gives this place called Kansas a voice. Sometimes it whispers, sometimes it roars . . . and occasionally, but rarely . . . it is silent. Still, whatever you hear, you also feel, when you read the words by Unruh. Because she gives not only a voice to the elusive and surreal spirit that is Kansas, she reveals its soul. A place of boundless space, timeless presence, and infinite blue skies or vast starry nights. A haunting history, eternal now, and beckoning future . . . that beguiles you to get to know her . . . Kansas . . . and feel her heart beat, revealed in the exquisite and lovely words of Cheryl Unruh.
I believe brief book reviews are best. Get to the point, before the reader’s mind starts to wander away. Yet, dear reader, indulge me a moment longer, for when reviewing this book, the words of the author best express what I feel—
“Here, we step into that space between questions and answers, a place where we are satisfied with the unknown.”
The poetry in her words, as when she describes emptiness—
“The streets, normally as empty as a yawn, were suddenly busy with grain trucks . . .”
Or, the glorious imagery as she fills the reader’s mind with light—
“Once as I was traveling eastbound through Rice County, the evening sun spread its love over a wheat field. I could barely stand the intensity of golden light on golden grain.”
Or, the tender expression of the bonds that connect us all—
“What matters most in this world is the love we give . . . It is love that connects us.”
And, the reassuring voice that haunts our memories—
“We’ve each left our footsteps and our thoughts on various pathways in our lives. And we can go back anytime to retrieve those memories; they’re still there, right where we left them.”
Or, the tender urge to simply keep our focus on what matters—
“It’s all well and good to see the big picture, but sometimes it helps to narrow one’s focus, pay attention to the light and take the best shot we can.”
Plus, the inevitable conclusion, to a never ending story that is Kansas—
“Eventually we will each leave this state by choice or by default, but our lives and our stories will always be a part of the wind, a part of the land, a part of Kansas.”
Thus, in reading—Waiting on the Sky – More Flyover People Essays—you will discover that Kansas and her people and places are rooted in the heart and soul of the Great Plains, and given an eloquent voice by this gifted writer, Cheryl Unruh.
Terry Needham is the author of an entertaining fantasy novella for young (and older) readers: The She Wolf; and also of a fascinating memoir of his family, When I Was a Child based on a true story of love, death and survival on the Kansas prairie. Other books by Terry are Kitty Claus, and Pesky Poems. Terry lives in Illinois.
To purchase Waiting on the Sky, visit Quincy Press.
Follow Flyover People on Facebook.
To purchase Terry Needham’s books, visit his Amazon page.
My friend Tracy Million Simmons, author of a great novel set near Dodge City, Tiger Hunting, and co-author of the soon-to-be-released The Green Bike, has posted a review of my new book Waiting on the Sky.
And the winner of the book giveaway is…. Seth Bate of Winfield.
The random number generator selected the number 25. Seth’s 22 was closest.
Thank you to all who played. This was fun. I’ll have another giveaway again, so stay tuned.
8.3.14 – UPDATE: SETH BATE of Winfield is the winner of the book giveaway. The random number generator chose 25. Seth’s number was closest at 21.
Hey, I think it’s about time to give away a copy of my new book, Waiting on the Sky: More Flyover People Essays. Wanna play along?
Here’s how the giveaway works:
1) Post a number between 1 and 100 on this blog post. Entries are only valid when placed in the comment section of THIS blog post. (In other words, entries will NOT be valid if posted on Facebook or other social media.)
2) If your number matches the number selected by an online random number generator and you are the only entry with that number, you will win the book. If two or more people have posted the correct number, I will draw TWO names from those who have posted the correct number and those TWO people will each receive free copies of the book.
3) In the event no one matches the number selected by the random number generator, the person or persons with the number closest to the correct number will win. If, for example, the generated number was 50 and no one chose 50, the person with the closest number would be the winner. If the closest numbers (example: 48 and 52) are a tie, two books will be given away. If there are more than two people involved in the tie then names will be drawn from the multiple entries and two books will be given away.
4) One entry per person.
5) Contest ends at 12:00 noon, Central Time on Sunday, Aug. 3. Entries after that time will not be included in the giveaway.
6) Sometime after 12:00 noon on Sunday, August 3, I will contact the winner(s) via the email address that was used to register to post a comment on this blog. At that time, the winner(s) will be asked to provide me with a mailing address and the book(s) will be sent to the winner(s).
7) The winner’s name will also be posted on this page as an update.
OK, friends and strangers, post your numbers. Good luck!
Feel free to share this blog post with your friends on Facebook or Twitter or other social media.
(For those who haven’t posted on this blog previously, your post won’t show up immediately. I have to “approve” the post first, so there may be several hours delay until it appears.)
From a “research” hike earlier this month. Tallgrass Prairie National Preserve.
Writing a book is like making a pie: it’s a lot of work to make one, but it gets gobbled up quickly, and then people want more. So, that’s a good thing, really, that people want more, but book writin’ takes a while. And I’m working on more.
Right now I have several “pies” in progess. In a workshop a few years ago, Caryn Mirriam-Goldberg, Kansas Poet Laureate at the time, said that she never feels “blocked” because she has several projects going at once. If she gets stuck, she said, she just moves on to something else.
And I took that message to heart. These days I’m working on several books, some more intently than others. I’m working on a book of essays about how a sense of place informs our creativity, our sense of self, and connects to us in a spiritual way. Another book will be on facts and places in Kansas. I’m also sketching out ideas for a memoir about small-town life. And, because poems emerge from time to time, I’m throwing in a book of poetry as a future goal as well. Maybe all of these books will come to life, maybe only one or two, but I’m finding that Caryn’s process very useful in my own writing practice.
Speaking of poetry, here’s a poem that I wrote last month.
HERE WE ARE
Here we are –
the troubled, the triumphant,
the disabled, the distraught.
We are the brave faces,
the anxious, the warriors,
the worried. We once
were great – and now –
we don’t know what we are.
In our uneven faces,
our defensive eyes,
our tense shoulders,
our stories lie.
And we are here
on this green earth
gathered, at a picnic table
on a June evening
so fine that even
left us alone. Some days we eat
scrambled eggs for breakfast,
we answer the phone,
and we stand alone in the
grocery store unable to
make a decision about
peanut butter. Because life
is just that hard sometimes.
On those days, tears burn
the inside of our eyelids.
We are not as fine as we once
were, age has seen
to that, but we are also so
much more. Sometimes we
catch a glimpse of the unseen
world and we see through this
earthly illusion with god-like
clarity, knowing that
everything is perfect,
as it should be.
Then we blink, and we forget.
And here we are again –
~by Cheryl Unruh
… said Diana Staresinic-Deane about my new book, WAITING ON THE SKY.
Diana Staresinic-Deane, author of Shadow on the Hill: the true story of a 1925 Kansas murder, wrote a beautiful review. Here are some excerpts:
I try, really try, to articulate the soulful bond I feel with the Kansas earth and Kansas sky, but I doubt I will ever do it as skillfully as author Cheryl Unruh, a native Kansan whose second book, Waiting on the Sky: More Flyover People Essays, just hit the Kansas bookstore shelves earlier this month.
Waiting on the Sky is a biography, and Unruh guides us through her life and her relationship to the world around through carefully selected essays on community, death, childhood, and the act of being. Her pieces on lost family members, especially her father, are reverent, and I was particularly moved by her descriptions of the everyday moments with her father–maintaining the local cemetery, working in his woodworking shop.
Oh heck, just go read the whole thing on Diana’s site.
And, if her review makes you want to read the book, you can order it here.
I met Paul Fiebich on April 2, 2011, in Chase County, at the 80th anniversary commemoration of the plane crash that killed famed Notre Dame football coach Knute Rockne. Paul and I were seatmates, I believe, on a borrowed school bus, and along with a couple dozen others, we bounced over a “road” in a pasture in the Flint Hills to the site of the crash that killed Rockne and seven others. Paul is immediately likable and we struck up a conversation.
Paul, from Derby, is a former engineer at Cessna, a pilot, and a builder of small aircraft. He flies an airbike and on his flights over Kansas, he often defends the Western Front from the Huns.
In addition to being a pilot, Paul writes how-to and humorous articles for numerous piloting magazines. If you’ll read that above-linked article or others from his website, airbikeace.org, you’ll see that he occasionally veers from reality in his writing, but that’s just part of the fun that he has with flying and with writing. I told Paul he has a “free-range imagination.”
When I received this heart-warming email from Paul this morning, I laughed at his bit about the tears and Kleenexes, but I absolutely loved his response to my new book, Waiting on the Sky. He allowed me permission to print his letter. Here it is:
Hi Cheryl,I am nearing the end of your book. After reading since this morning, I stopped at the page titled “Navigating Our Lives.”Never have I read a book that when finished with a section, I first had to clear out all the tear-soaked Kleenex tucked between me and the chair arms and those strewn on my lap. Had I not done so and stood up, an avalanche of huge white “snowflakes” would have tumbled to the floor in front of me like snow sliding off a metal roof.Your writing style and content is emotionally grabbing. Hardly a story is read that doesn’t cause my eyes to weep and often tears flow like little rivers down my cheeks. I wipe and wipe but the leaky tear ducts continue to leak.Unfortunately, some of the book pages are now wrinkled. Tears on a page will do that you know.You strike many chords that the reader can relate to. You have the wisdom and insight of someone 1000 years old! And you present everyday situations with such an element of pride and heartwarming feeling that one can’t help but fall in love with your life. You are amazing! Thanks for sharing it, you have a gift. Perhaps the seeds were planted in that little library next to the fire station in Pawnee Rock. Yes, I believe you would have dozed in there on the floor snuggled in your sleeping bag.Your mother inserted the reading gene in your body as a youth. It was a normal activity as routine as brushing your teeth. What a fantastic mentor!Each story concludes with some bit of wisdom or statement that sums up not just the story but that aspect of life. I love the analogies (is that the right word?) you provide that drives home a point. Two recent ones I recall are “Sugar, butter, and chocolate are all over December like needles on a Christmas tree.” And another said something about “being stuck on you like a birthmark.”I wish I could remember all the analogies used in your book, they are clever, fresh, and punctuate the message. But that is the point, to accent your writing and the visual memory for the reader, not to be remembered for future use.Mornings are one of my favorite reading times. Occasionally my body says at that I am done sleeping. No matter how much I will it to return to slumber, it refuses. So I get up and do something, often it writing or reading.This morning it was reading. In the dim pre-dawn light, I made my way to the kitchen. Assembling the coffee maker and then wrapping the electric bean grinder with multiple towels and placemats I set the thing to whirring. It is as noisy as a rock crusher, I didn’t want to wake my wife. The aroma of freshly ground coffee beans just says something about good morning! Remember that TV coffee jingle? Maxwell House was it? I can’t remember how it goes either, but I do remember IT.Threading my way down the dark hall and to the living room, I carefully step over our sleeping Siberian Husky. She sleeps wherever she wants. Although she didn’t move (never does) even though my foot came down inches from her nose, she did open one eye and tracked me. Talk about having faith!Well, I finally made it to my chair and settled in for a good read. After several stories the coffee pot dinged signaling its completed task. With a hot cup of java in my hand I settled back into my chair for more reading. What a fine way to start the day!Thinking back several years ago when we first met on the school bus going to the Knute Rockne memorial event; how fortunate an encounter that was. You were extremely pleasant and just sparkled with conversation. Later we met again in the bookstore where I discovered you were an author and purchased your first book “Flyover People.”That was a pleasant experience as is reading your second book. As you said to your brother Leon “Tanks for the memories.”Paul Fiebich
I visited Greensburg today. It’s always nice to be in Greensburg.They’re still rebuilding after the 2007 EF5 tornado. It’s just amazing what’s going on there. The museum reopened in 2012, but this was the first time I had been in it. And it was the first time since I was about 4 or 5 that I had seen the well. I don’t have strong memories of my first visit to the well, but I do remember coming here with my family.
This picture was taken deep in the well looking up. The structure has the main floor and then a viewing area above that with windows all around the circle, and information on the windows showing what buildings you are looking at that have been built since the tornado.
My new book, Waiting on the Sky, is now available in the gift shop at the Big Well Museum, right next to my first book, Flyover People.
If you don’t happen to be in the Greensburg area, you can purchase the book at one of the fine retail outlets listed on this page or you can purchase them online here. (And if you purchase one, or already have, thank you very much!)