Thursday, September 18, 2014

Signings in Seward

This morning I realized that I hadn't posted anything about our busy weekend of author signings, so here's an update.

Friday morning Christianna Reinhardt stopped by on her way to California to sign some presold copies of her book, A Culinary History of the Nebraska Sand Hills. She's a Food Network, Travel Channel, etc. producer and has worked with many big-name chefs. . . . and she owns a former Carnegie library building in Burwell, Nebraska. When I asked how she came to own property in the middle of nowhere, she said she had family connections to the area. It was fun to meet her and her sister, and the book would make a great gift for anyone who knows and appreciates the beauty of our sand hills--or of good down-home cooking, or knows someone who might be mentioned in the book. I think we even have one or two autographed copies left, but they're going fast.

Saturday's local author event featuring Echo Ardour, Laine Boyd, and Kathleen Itzen was a success all around. All three authors were experiencing their first signing, and all three sold several books. The stories behind their books were inspiring, and the audience was attentive, and the chocolates Laine brought from St. Louis were almost as good as our Baker's candies. We wish Kathleen continued good health and a good prognosis after her recent surgery. Thanks to everyone who made this event so much fun, especially to Kathy and Ellen for bringing your moms. I loved seeing them and hearing their bowling stories!

A visit to the Seward Memorial Library by New York Times Bestselling author Melanie Benjamin capped off the weekend  nicely. She told her very entertaining story of overcoming the dismal sales of her first published novel by writing and writing and writing some more until she hit on the secret to success--she wrote a good book that people wanted to read, and then she wrote a couple more. Now she's so successful that she can't even tell us who the subject of her next book is. We have a couple of signed copies of The Aviator's Wife left from Sunday's event. Read it if you haven't!

The Plum Creek Children's Literacy Festival is just around the corner now. Hopefully a few of the featured authors will stop by Chapters while they're in town. If so, we'll post their photos and have them sign a few books.

Happy reading everyone!

Friday, August 15, 2014

September Second Saturday Signing (Say that three times fast!)

September's Second Saturday Signing at Chapters brings three authors with Nebraska connections to Seward for a signing and reading event from 1:00-3:00 p.m. on Saturday, September 13.

At our event, you'll meet Echo Ardour, Laine Boyd, and Kathleen Itzen.

Echo Ardour, pen name for Sumerlyn Daywitt, is the author of Sorrow’s Gift, an inspirational story of "healing, unknown possibilities and intrigue, all wrapped in the hand of a God who always knows what is best." Sumerlyn participates in Chapters' newly-formed writers' group, has a degree from Concordia, and lives and works here in Seward.
Laine Boyd is a freelance editor for Ballad Publishing, where she  works with another local author, CaSondra Poulsen. Her debut thriller Unharmonious will be released September 1.  Learn more about her from this interview on CaSondra's blog,

Kathleen Itzen lives in Cordova, Nebraska, and was an elementary school teacher for many years. While working on her PhD., she became interested in the individual uniqueness of each person. Her book Wonderfully Made incorporates research in multiple intelligences, brain research, and personality styles to encourage readers to value themselves and others and fulfill their God-given purpose in life.

With our September signing, Chapters' Second Saturday Series comes to a close, at least for 2014, but that doesn't mean we're through with events for the year! Visit our website and check out our online calendar to see what's in store for October and the culmination of our tenth anniversary celebration. You won't want to miss upcoming events featuring Ted Kooser, Wendelin Van Draanen, Mark Huntley Parsons, and Tosca Lee.

Monday, July 21, 2014

Summer Camp 2014

Camp 2014 is over, and as I say every year, it was worth every bit of effort that went into it. The entire Chapters staff--Cheryl, Kelley, Stephanie, Elise, and I--want to thank all those who helped us pull off a successful, fun week. We couldn't do it without you, our faithful volunteers Haley, Nora, Megan, Grace, and Abby.

Also, thanks to everyone who participated in our activities and entrusted your children to us. As former teachers, Cheryl and I both enjoy your children and their enthusiasm. We love having them fill the store with their laughter and sweet voices.

Our theme for 2014 was "Poets on a Bike and Other Unusual Combinations." See last week's blog entry to find out more about the biking poets. Here are some highlights from the rest of the week.

Our youngest campers started the week with the Pigeon, Mo Willems' loveable character, who, in his latest book, desperately needs a bath. The kids made dirty pigeons, blew bubbles, and had dirty water and soap (root beer floats) for a snack. For their second day of camp, they had fun with another favorite character, Pete the Cat, making magic sunglasses and using groovy buttons in fun art projects. For snack, the kids enjoyed mouse shaped pancakes--food fit for a cat. Camp week ended with a birthday party for Chapters' tenth anniversary, a fun time for everyone.

Started their week with Origami Yoda the school age group did. The kids learned to fold their favorite Star Wars characters from paper and read a very silly book. In keeping with the (very loose) theme of building things, the kids also had fun with Legos and made marshmallow-pretzel bugs for a snack. Later in the week, they read about a squirrel with super powers (Flora & Ulysses), recycled trash into treasures, and ate dirt and worms. Eat them up, yum! For their final day of camp, they also had a birthday party for Chapters and enjoyed cupcakes and a classic birthday story, Charlie and the Chocolate Factory.

Here are just a few more photos from our week. To see others, check out the albums on our facebook page--and thanks again for a fun week and for ten years of serving you.

Monday, July 14, 2014

Type Rider II Tandem Poetry Tour

We had the pleasure to meet Maya Stein and Amy Tingle this weekend. They're riding a tandem bike
1,400 miles from Boulder, Colorado, to Beloit, Wisconsin, building “Little Free Libraries” and promoting poetry, community, a love of reading, and the spirit of collaboration along the way. At their Seward stop, we  hosted a bike rodeo, built a "Little Free Library" for the town of Staplehurst, and read and wrote poetry with Maya, Amy, and two Lincoln poets, Lucy Adkins and Marge Saiser.

Thanks to everyone who helped with Saturday's event, which we held at the Olde Glory Theatre and Community Hall. Officers Hammond and Summerfeld and John Moody ran the bike rodeo. Charlotte Endorf--owner of one of Nebraska's first Little Free Libraries--and Ken Block oversaw the construction project, and Ashlyn, Amelia, Nora, Haley, and Molly helped out as needed throughout the morning. And, as always, our fabulous Chapters staff was on hand to help.

Here's just one of the many poems Amy and Maya wrote at our event. They sat at their typewriters--manual ones, no less-and asked for a word from the audience. This is Maya's poem in response to the word 

It's Saturday morning. I just had a glass
of lemoade. Right this minute we are in 
Seward, Nebraska, and the sun is shining and
there are bicycles on the sidewalk and you,
you are sitting right in front of me blowing
up a blue balloon and everything is
feeling bright and possible and the whole world
is friendly and it would be alright
with me if time stood still so it could be
like this a little while longer. Just like this.
Maya Stein

Monday, June 30, 2014

July Events

Hard as it is to believe, today's the last day of June. I know it's a cliche, but time sure does fly! Cheryl always says that when you get to the 4th of July, summer is basically over. I'm not ready to concede that yet, but I know the second half of the summer will go just as quickly as these first six weeks--and I want to be sure YOU don't let our upcoming events sneak up on you and fly past before you even knew they were coming.

Our Summer Camp will begin in the middle of next week, with an event for grown ups. On July 9 we're teaming with the Cafe on the Square to see if there's interest in an afternoon book club or writing group here in Seward. At 2:00 that afternoon, anyone interested in forming a writers' group--not a critique group, just a group of writers who want to meet regularly to affirm each other, keep each other committed to the writing process, and maybe engage in some creativity or writing exercises such as those Lucy Adkins and Becky Breed describe in their inspiring book Writing in Community--is invited to join us at the Cafe for an informational session. Then, at 3:00 we'll host a similar organizational meeting for anyone interested in forming a book club. For both groups, the Cafe will provide (for a small fee) snacks and coffee and a place to meet, so no one has to clean their house or bake. Chapters will help with book selection and give members a 20% discount on books purchased for discussions.

A highlight of our camp will be the Type Rider II Tandem Poetry Tour Stop on Saturday, July 12 at 10 a.m. at the Olde Glory Theatre and Community Hall. This event, cosponsored with the Seward Arts Council, features New Jersey poets Maya Stein and Amy Tingle, who will ride a tandem bicycle and tow two manual typewriters 1400 miles from Boulder, Colorado, to Beloit, Wisconsin, building "Little Free Libraries" and promoting poetry, community, a love of reading, and a spirit of collaboration along the way. Their Seward stop will also feature Lincoln poets Marge Saiser and Lucy Adkins, as well as Nebraska author and Little Free Library expert Charlotte Endorf. Participants will help construct a wooden library box for a local community, learn about the Little Free Library project, receive personalized poems by Maya and Amy, participate in a bike rodeo, and read and write poetry with Lucy Adkins and Marge Saiser. We'll have snacks, too, of course. All ages are welcome, and activities will be appropriate for both kids and adults. We're hoping families will come to enjoy the event together.

Then, the actual "Camp" activities will be Monday-Wednesday, July 14-16. From 10-11:30 a.m. 4-6 year olds will enjoy activities with favorite characters doing funny stuff--Pigeon takes a bath, Pete the Cat wears sunglasses, and kids have lots of fun. We may even throw a 10th birthday party for Chapters! Ages 6-10 meet in the afternoons from 1-2:30 p.m. to eat bugs, make Star Wars characters from old books, do some calf roping, build with Legos, and spend time together having fun, based on our most popular camp activities from past years. Preregistration is required, and space is limited, so call 402-643-2282, email, or visit our website at to register now.

Camp week ends with a joint venture with the Seward Memorial Library as we bring author James Kimble to town to discuss his book Prairie Forge: The Extraordinary Story of the Nebraska Scrap Metal Drive of World War II.  He will talk about Nebraska's role in organizing the scrap metal drive that spread across the nation and yielded five million tons of metal for the war effort. Learn more at 7:00 p.m. on July 17. Books will be available for purchase and autographing.

Thursday, May 8, 2014

Second Saturday Signing

Our next "Second Saturday Signing" is coming June 14. June's event at Chapters will feature area authors of nonfiction books, including biographies, historical fiction based in family history, and books about trains.  Authors who will be speaking about and signing their books that day are Barb Mohrman, Jim Riesdorf, Faith Colburn, Jean Lukesh, Mary Ann Carson, and Lisa Kovanda and Brian Thomas. Read through the biographies below, and you'll start to see a theme or two emerge!

Mary Ann Carson is new to Chapters and our events. Her books are Down the Tracks of Time and Tales of Tails. A resident of Grand Island, Mary Ann has compiled her mother's memories of being stationed in North Platte as a telegrapher on the Union Pacific Railroad during World War II in Down the Tracks of Time. As a member of the Nebraska Veterinary Medical Association Auxiliary, Mary Ann compiled and edited Tales of Tails, a collection of stories from veterinarians and their families across Nebraska. Proceeds from the book support a veterinary student scholarship fund.

Faith Colburn, author of From Picas to Bytes and Threshold, is a sixth generation Nebraskan. Her books chronicle the history of the newspapers published by four generations of the Seacrest family in Nebraska and of eight generations of her family as they lived and worked, mostly on the Great Plains. Faith also writes poetry and short fiction, as well as essays for NebraskaLand magazine. Read her blog at

Lisa Kovanda, with Brian Thomas, has written Modified Flight Plan, the story of  Brian's road to recovery and regaining his life after a life-threatening illness leaves him a triple amputee. Lisa is active in the Nebraska Writers' Guild and in other Nebraska writers' groups. She is a script writer and novelist. Brian worked for Duncan Aviation in Lincoln before his illness and now is back at work and lives in Lincoln. Lisa can be found online at

Jean Lukesh owns Field Mouse Productions and is a contributing columnist for Nebraska Life Magazine. She is the author of several biographies of notable Americans, many of them Nebraskans, including Ben Kuroki and Evelyn Sharp.

Her books have won eleven national/international book awards. Her newest book Eagle of Delight has won four Gold medal national/international book awards and is a finalist in two Book of the Year Awards. She lives in Grand Island.

Barb Mohrman is the author of Four Blue Stars in the Window. From a box of her father's World War II mementos, Barb set out on a personal journey to trace her family's history from 1930 through 1947. Along the way, she uncovered family secrets, and in Four Blue Stars in the Window, she recounts the joys and anguish of a family that survived the Nebraska dust bowl years and sent four sons to fight in the Pacific and Europe during World War II.
Barb is a former teacher and is a speaker with Humanities Nebraska. She participated in our April Second Saturday event, highlighting her young adult book, The Dust Covered Days of Dorie Archer. To learn more about her, visit her blog at

Jim Reisdorff has been a contributor to Chapters' local authors' events since we opened. He is a native of David City, where he established the South Platte Press in 1982 as an outlet for publishing Great Plains railroad history. His wife Sharon is a co-publisher. Jim has also co-written several railroad books for the press. Read more about him and his work at

Wednesday, April 9, 2014

Spring News and Notes

Like the rest of you, we at Chapters have a lot going on this spring. To keep things as simple as possible, here, in one place, are some bits of news you can use. Happy Spring, now that it finally seems to be here!

News and Notes from Chapters. . . 

Our Giver Boxes arrived!
World Book Night, the night YOU get to give away 20 books, FREE to both you and the recipient, to help spread the love of reading throughout our community, is April 23. If you did not sign up to be a “Giver” and wish you had, I have three extra boxes of books available to the first three people to contact me. If you did sign up to be a “Giver” and haven’t received an email from me by Friday, let me know because you may not be on our list.
Here's me with Lydia and Kelley.
Don’t miss this weekend’s book signing with Lydia Kang, Carol Bicak, Barb Mohrman, and Linda Svoboda. Meet them all Saturday, April 12, at 1:00 p.m. Signed books are welcome gifts!

You’re invited to “Spend an Afternoon with Edith Wharton” Saturday, May 3 at Seward’s new Olde Glory Theatre. Beginning at 2:00 with tea hosted by T Party Place, the afternoon features a 30 minute play by Edith Wharton about a book club, which will be followed by a brief scholarly discussion of Wharton’s life and work. It would be a perfect spring outing for a book club, mothers and daughters, or groups of friends. The show is appropriate for ages 12-up. Tickets are available at Chapters and the Seward Chamber of Commerce.

Chapters’ Annual Summer Camp will be July 7-12. Our theme will be “Poets on Bikes and other Unusual Combinations.” Highlighting the week will be a family event on Saturday, July 12, featuring—of course—poets on a tandem bike! We’re also working on an author visit and other fun activities throughout the week, so watch for details as they’re finalized.

The Seward Community Read to Me Program donates a free book to every child attending kindergarten round up and every 4th grader in a Seward school. Giving away almost 250 books each spring is expensive, and the Read to Me Program would appreciate your tax deductible donations. Please send contributions (checks to Seward Read to Me Program) either to Chapters or to the Read to Me Program, C/O Seward County Bridges, 216 S. 9th St., Seward, NE 68434.

We’re hoping to start a book club that will meet during the afternoon at the CafĂ© on the Square. We’ll meet once a month—more if the group wants—and read whatever the group wants to read. Interested? Let us know what day works for you. Invite your friends, too! The group will form as soon as enough interested people respond.

Don’t forget that books make great gifts for confirmation, weddings, Easter, Mother’s Day, graduation, and all those other spring events that will be here before you know it.

Wednesday, March 12, 2014

Second Saturday Series

Stephanie Grace Whitson, Kathy Wiens, and Mike Curd visited Chapters last Saturday--the "Second Saturday" in March--and received a fantastic welcome, one of the best we've ever had for an author event at Chapters! We're hoping for more of the same as our series of author visits continues April 12 at 1:00, when Lydia Kang, Carol Bicak, Barb Mohrman,and Linda Svoboda will be here.

Our featured presenter on April 12 will be debut YA author Lydia Kang. Lydia, who resides in Omaha, is a practicing physician, writer, and mother.  Her novel, Control, is a dystopian futuristic story set in Neia, a fictional state in the middle of America. You can probably guess which states comprise Neia. The characters in the book are a misfit band of teens with mutant traits ranging from extra arms to green skin. The book has adventure, romance, and mystery, something for everyone. I met Lydia at a dinner in Omaha sponsored by her publisher (Penguin) and my favorite Omaha bookseller, Ellen from The Bookworm. It was fun to visit with Lydia and the others that evening, and I'm looking forward to seeing her again at Chapters, where she'll speak about combining motherhood, a medical practice, and writing and tell us more about Control.

Joining Lydia that afternoon will be Carol Bicak, who I discovered the night I met Lydia, as she was also at the dinner in Omaha. Carol, an Omaha World Herald staff writer, wrote The Littlest Lion, a book about a litter of five lion cubs recently born at Omaha's Henry Doorly Zoo. The book's informative text is complemented with gorgeous photographs and will appeal to readers of all ages, preschool through adult. If you liked Jeff Kurrus' Have You Seen Mary? about the cranes, you're sure to enjoy The Littlest Lion. Wouldn't it be fun if Carol could bring a lion cub with her instead of just a photographer?

Barb Mohrman, best known for her World War II book, Four Blue Stars in the Window, has also written a tale of the dust bowl for young adult readers. She will be at Chapters April 12 to sign copies of The Dust Covered Days of Dorie Archer, a fictionalized account based on true events as experienced by Barb's family in Nebraska during the 1930's. It's a story of hope, resilience, and perseverance in the face of adversity. Barb is a speaker with Humanities Nebraska and a former teacher, and she will have some interesting stories to share with us.
Seward's own Linda Sue Svoboda will also be here April 12 to sign copies of her picture books.  Linda's books for young children include Because I Love My Kitty, Loving Times With Grandma, and The Little Brown Bird that Could. All have sweet, encouraging messages for children.

Tuesday, February 18, 2014

Upcoming Anniversary Events

Hard as it is to believe, Chapters Books & Gifts is celebrating ten years in business in 2014.  When we opened in August of 2004, my youngest son was in first grade, you could buy a gallon of gas for $1.87, and Harry Potter was only on book number five.  Look how far we've come!  Nate got his driver's license last month, we don't even talk about the price of gasoline anymore, Harry Potter is all grown up, and the books have been made into eight blockbuster movies.

To celebrate our anniversary year, Chapters is launching an occasional "Second Saturday Series" of events featuring local and nationally-known authors.  Our series kicks off Saturday, March 8 at 1:00 p.m. with a reading and signing to celebrate the release of Stephanie Grace Whitson's new book, A Captain for Laura Rose. Special guests who will also be signing their books will be Michael Curd, author of Through the Valley, and Kathy Wiens, author of Bars, Dumps, and other Childhood Hangouts.
Stephanie Grace Whitson visited Chapters several years ago.  If I can find a photo, I'll post it here. Stephanie, an award-winning author of Christian/inspirational historical fiction, lives in Lincoln, Nebraska. Her recent books include three books in her Quilt Chronicles series. Her upcoming book, A Captain for Laura Rose, is set in 1867 aboard a Missouri River steamboat. When tragedy strikes, Laura must make the two month journey from St. Louis to Fort Benton and back in order to save her family's legacy, her home, and the only life she's ever known. Although she herself is a skilled riverboat captain, the only way for her to overcome the nearly insurmountable odds is with the help of her brother's disreputable friend Finn MacKnight, a skilled pilot with a terrible reputation. Learn more about her by following her on  facebook  or  her blog,

Joining Stephanie on March 8 will be Michael Curd, retired pastor of the Methodist Church in Milford, Nebraska, who now resides in Omaha.  His book, Through the Valley, is a novelized account of a chaplain's experiences in a large urban hospital.  Kathy Wiens, also formerly of Milford, now lives in Newton, Kansas.  Her memoir Bars, Dumps, and other Childhood Hangouts, details her early life in Lincoln, Nebraska, as a child of an alcoholic mother who was taken in and whose life was turned around by a family from Milford.

The second event in our "Second Saturday Series" will feature debut author Lydia Kang reading from her young adult dystopian thriller Control.  Joining her will be Carol Bicak, author of The Littlest Lion, and Seward's own Linda Svoboda, author of picture books for young children including her newest, Loving Times with Grandma.  Read more about them in a future blog post.

Meanwhile, mark your calendar and don't miss our signing with Stephanie, Michael, and Kathy on Saturday, March 8!