Book nerds

Beltonnatives share love for reading, writing

bbashioum@demo-mo.comJuly 4, 2014 

There’s no shame between Katy Beebe and Cheryl Klein and their love of writing and reading.

“We’re the biggest book nerds of the world,” Klein said.

The self-professed book nerds, and Belton natives, recently had the opportunity to visit their Cass County roots. This time, it was for a library benefit for the Cass County Public Library Foundation, and was in the form of a writers' conference on June 28.

“I hope (the writers) will take away some good, basic information about what sort of state their manuscripts needs to be in, and what the proper way to submit it is, in order to get it professionally published,” Klein said.

Since graduating from college, the women, who are both published authors, have made strides in the publishing industry and in academia.

Klein, 35, lives in New York and is the executive editor at Arthur A. Levine Books/Scholastic, where the many titles she has edited include The Nazi Hunters by Neal Bascomb, Divided We Fall by Trent Reedy, The Great Greene Heist by Varian Johnson, and Zoe Gets Ready by Bethanie Deeney Murguia. She also worked on the Harry Potter series earlier in her career.

Klein has also authored her own title, “Second Sight: An Editor's Talks on Writing, Revising, and Publishing Books for Children and Young Adults.”

Beebe, 36, is an assistant professor of medieval history at the University of Texas at Arlington. She has a background in publishing with W.W Norton and as a former reviewer for Kirkus and the Riverbank Review.

Beebee’s first book, Brother Hugo and the Bear, a children’s book, was published this spring by Eerdmans.

The book is about a monk who has the original dog-ate-my-homework excuse, based on a true medieval historical story.

Cass County libraries have been an important place for both women during their childhood.

On Beebe’s website, she writes about her memories of going to the library with laundry baskets full of books as a young girl.

The workshop, “Writing and Publishing Great Books for Children and Young Adults” was held at the Belton School District Curriculum Center.

“What I try to do with my students is to not only teach them the content, but how to present their work professionally. That’s the first hurdle,” Beebe said. “You want your work presentation to be almost invisible so they go straight to the meat. You want the editor to see the spark of your idea.”

Proceeds of the workshop will help with sponsorship of the summer reading program at all Cass County Library branches.

Topics that were discussed were examples of things editors and agents look for in a writer’s work, along with practical takeaways for incorporating them within your manuscript. They also discussed writing query letters, and took time to read over the first few pages of manuscripts submitted by attendees.

“If we can help writers learn those professional requirements...hopefully they can get published,” Beebe said.

As for their personal tastes, Beebe and Klein said they are both big fans of 19th century British author Jane Austen, but they also have other favorites.

Klein’s favorite adult book is Possession by A.S. Byatt, and her favorite children’s book is A Little Princess by Frances Hodgson Burnett.

Beebe’s favorites are Austen’s Persuasion and The Golden Goblet by Eloise Jarvis McGraw, respectfully.

Although both Klein and Beebe are from Belton, Klein attended Raymore-Peculiar High School while Beebe went to Belton High School.

The women graduated high school in 1996, but didn’t officially meet until they were randomly paired as suitemates during their freshman year at Carleton College in Minnesota.

They had seen each other at various quiz bowl meets tournament and went to the same Missouri Scholars Academy, but it wasn’t until they were more than 400 miles aways at college when their friendship ignited after reviewing each other’s book shelves.

“Cheryl came into my room and took one look at my bookshelf and thought that we’d be good friends,” Beebe recalled.

The women said their pairing was also somewhat coincidental because their college had a policy against rooming people together from the same geographical area so that they could meet new people.

“It wasn’t until we actually walked up to get our keys that we realized (that we would be suitemates),” Beebe said.

The women quickly connected over their shared book interests.

Klein began her college studies at Carlton as an English major, with the dream of becoming a book editor.

Beebe entered school with the pursuit of studying math and science, but eventually switched and became an English major as well.

Both of the young women also competed with their college’s quiz team in college, where their friendship continued to grow.

During breaks from college, the young women also had part-time jobs as pages at Mid-Continent Public Library in Grandview.

“We became friends pretty fast,” Klein said.

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