Saturday, November 15, 2008

Book Signing in Kansas City, Missouri November 22

Leland and I will be signing books at Barnes & Noble on the Country Club Plaza next Saturday - November 22 - from 1 - 3 p.m. The store is at 420 W. 47th St. Kansas City, Missouri

This is our first book signing event and we're curious to see who might come and what aspects of our books generate the most interest. The new book, Mystery of the Irish Wilderness (which by the way is non-fiction), begins in the pre-Civil War era, with Irish Famine immigrants, and follows 150 years of land use policies and personalities as they affect the area the Irish settled. It also follows the life of the intrepid young priest who led the colony: John Joseph Hogan. He became the first bishop of Kansas City and much of our research was done here in the archives of the Diocese.

Of course, See the Ozarks and Beautiful and Enduring Ozarks will be available as well!

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Picking up where I left off

A lot has happened since Ross and I were redesigning the Lens & Pen website. Nearly a year after that first experimental post, the website has taken shape and our newest book has arrived from the printer in Singapore. In that year, we finalized the book's design, proofed and re-proofed the text, burned the DVDs, wrote the check and sent it off. A few months later, a couple of hundred cartons of books passed through customs in St. Louis and were trucked to Springfield. (Note to anyone considering printing a book overseas - shipping costs from St. Louis to Springfield were higher than the charges for the slow boat from Singapore to St. Louis. But I digress...)

Mystery of the Irish Wilderness: Land and Legend of Father John Joseph Hogan's Lost Irish Colony in the Ozark Wilderness
was itself a long time in coming. In the late '70s, when environmentalists in Missouri pushed to have 16,500 acres between the Eleven Point and Current rivers included in the national wilderness system, Leland wrote a letter of support. That was my first brush with the legend that still lingered in the hills of southern Missouri.

It wasn't until we found John Hogan's two memoirs in the rare books section of the Springfield Library that we really were captured by the story itself and the personality of the adventurous young priest who led the settlement.
On the Mission in Missouri: 1857-1868 tells of his missionary years before and during the Civil War, most of his time spent in north Missouri. His writing made real what frontier Missouri was like, who the people were that ventured west and how they lived. And the territory was so familiar. Our years of photographing all parts of the state, scouting for antiques in the most out of the way shops - we and he covered the same landscape, crossed the same streams and railroads.

We were intrigued, but the story - as it was known then - had such a downer ending ... hopeful settlers driven from their wilderness farms by a war they were not a part of. So it lingered as a publishing project until my day job (FEMA Public Affairs) brought me to Kansas City where the adventurous young priest later became the first bishop. With the permission of the diocese archivist, I spent many a Saturday going through the Bishop's files. There the story of the man and his mission began to take shape.