“Nebraska Authors, Volume One” (2022)

The project began as a compilation of 26 stories about Nebraska authors by their surnames — from A to Z.

The final product features 52 authors — two for each letter of the alphabet. The recently released 432-page book is titled “Nebraska Authors, Volume One.”

Its co-authors are Barbara Dush-Micek of Fullerton and Nancy Hansen of Hamilton County.

“We started collecting Nebraska author names from A to Z in 2009, which has been an ongoing project,” Dush-Micek said. “From there, we were able to select our authors that are featured in the book.”

Dush-Micek has been editor of the Nance County Journal for nearly 22 years, with Hansen involved in health education.

The women happened to meet seven years ago. “As we visited, we found we had many things in common, including a love for Nebraska and writing,” she said.

This is the second book she has written. Her first book, “Listen with the Heart,” which features true stories about extraordinary lives, was published in 2004.

The “Nebraska Authors” book project evolved, Dush-Micek said, when “a friend from Columbus asked me to write a memoir about her mother who was a longtime teacher at Central Community College-Platte Campus.

“As I was sifting through her papers, I began reading one of her poems about rural Nebraska. I was seeking the deeper meaning to the content the author intended so I called Nancy and asked her to meet me at a fast-food place for some contemplative conversation over a soda.

“As we discussed the poem, we began talking about how the world is familiar with Willa Cather and Mari Sandoz, and how Nebraska has so many talented writers just like them, but some are not getting the recognition they deserve.”

Dush-Micek said that conversation “turned into a brainstorming session about how we could accomplish that goal. Then Nancy came up with the idea of the Nebraska Authors Project and putting together a series of books.”

(Video) A Celebration of Nebraska Books - Welcome & One Book One Nebraska Presentation

Hansen said, “We couldn't complete the A to Z list when we realized there were over 2,000 Nebraska authors. We went to a lot of different places to collect these names, and we are still in the process of collecting them.”

The first author selected was Othman Abbott, a Civil War veteran, a first lieutenant governor in Nebraska and author of “Reminisces of a Pioneer Lawyer/Recollections of a Pioneer Lawyer.”

“We knew we had an author from Grand Island, so we then continued to travel around the state to complete the A’s to Z's,” Hansen said.

The project has involved thousands of hours, miles and keystrokes.

“I did everything possible from going to county clerk offices to libraries to museums to graveyards to research the information,” Hansen said. “We wanted to make certain our information was completely accurate, so a lot of research hours were involved.”

Over the three-year span, Dush-Micek said that she and Hansen “tried to meet at least once a week to do interviews and put together new ideas. Texts, calls and emails were on constant overload.”

Thousands of miles were logged by both women crisscrossing the state.

“As an example,” Hansen said, “I recently drove 892 miles just to travel to Alliance and made stops in Gordon and Bassett. The type of research I was doing could not be done except in person. I've made many a trip like that.”

(Video) Announcement of the 2021 One Book One Nebraska Selection

Dush-Micek said that “every author in the book is a favorite.”

However, she said the late Dorthy (Knouse) Koepke of Norfolk has been one of her inspirations since learning about her through a story in the Norfolk Daily News.

“Dorthy had such an obvious passion for writing that even in the midst of raising 10 children, dressing chickens and canning beans, she never stopped authoring books and articles,” Dush-Micek said. “She understood the power of the written word and simply wanted to make people happy with her talent.”

Dush-Micek said she also is inspired by Mary Connealy of Decatur, who has authored more than two dozen Christian fiction western-inspired books. “It was great to find an author like Mary and how honing your skills can get a major publisher contract in small-town Nebraska,” she said.

Hansen said she has no particular favorite author of the 52 featured, instead pointing out that “I enjoy research and found it intriguing to use our interview questions and our goal to write about each author and their books to find out what made them want to share their expertise or passion about a subject and the history that was going on around each author as they wrote.”

The back cover of the “Nebraska Authors” book says: “Discover United States and world history through the pen of Nebraska authors. It takes each person to build a nation.”

For example, Hansen said, “Who would have ever known that a minister's son (Martin Klotsche) from Scribner would lead the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee through the turmoil and unrest on the nation's campuses in the early 1970s, and be just the man they needed.”

The featured authors covered such subjects as the Civil War; history of prayer in America; Native Americans; travel; Orphan Train riders; the state’s beef industry; earthquakes; NASCAR and the cowboy way of life.

Each story features at least one photo of the author; a list of their published works; location of birth; education and death date, if applicable. At the end of each story, Dush-Micek and Hansen added endnotes, footnotes and a list of sources, which would be helpful if a reader wanted to delve more into an author’s life.

Also at the end of each story is an autograph box, making “Nebraska Authors” an interactive book.

She described the autograph box as “something fun for readers to do in Nebraska guided by an author of their own choosing.”

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Hansen said the most fascinating part of the book project was “meeting and researching authors from all over the state and seeing how they fit into history that we already know about and didn't know about and how it all fit together.”

Any difficulties?

Hansen said that without any grant funds, she and Dush-Micek “have to use our own funds to publish the book because we want this Nebraska history to be out there.”

Of her first thoughts about finally seeing the finished product, Hansen said, “I couldn't wait to get it on the shelf for people to purchase. I thought people would be just as fascinated by these individual stories and be able to read about them at their leisure as we had fun writing them.”

Dush-Micek echoes her thoughts.

“I couldn't wait for readers to share in the opportunity of being able to meet some of the authors for the first time, and hopefully share new knowledge of those who were familiar to them,” she said.

The two women are at work on volume II. Again, each story will not be a book report nor a complete biography about the author, but instead will highlight their expertise in writing about their particular subject.

Hansen said, “We are also in the finishing touches of ‘Nebraskans Remember,’ a book that is part of the salute to Nebraska's military members across the state, some with war stories.”

Everyone needs to write their story, both women said.

(Video) NCompass Live: 2018 One Book One Nebraska: 'Nebraska Presence An Anthology of Poetry'

Dush-Micek quotes two writers:

The late Nebraska author Billie Snyder Thornburg: “They say you can't take it with you, but you can. When you die, all the stories in your head go, too.”

The late Emily Jane Uzendoski, a teacher at CCC-Platte Campus: “We tell the stories of our families, our family history; we write autobiographies and memoirs; we write as survivors. We are the ones left alive to tell the story."

Hansen said that through their research, she and Dush-Micek have found a missing part of Nebraska history.

“From the 1950s to the current time, there are very few books written by Nebraska authors about incidences in Nebraska or family histories,” Hansen said. “So people need to be writing to add to the collection of literature about the state.”

* * *

Want to learn more?

Visit dandhadventurespublishing.com. There is a connection to Amazon.com. on the website.

(Video) A-Taken Omaha Nebraska Authors Three Part Series, Book One


1. The 2020 Nebraska Book Awards - Nonfiction Part 1
(Nebraska Library Commission)
2. NCompass Live: 2016 One Book One Nebraska: The Meaning of Names
(Nebraska Library Commission)
3. NCompass Live: Nebraska 150 Books: Read Nebraska Authors with your book group!
(Nebraska Library Commission)
4. NCompass Live: Introducing the Nebraska Authors Database!
(Nebraska Library Commission)
5. Nebraska Volleyball: Previewing the Husker Invitational against Ole Miss
(Inside Nebraska)
6. Nebraska Authors Books
(Kiki Fasbender)

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