April 19, 2015

Joyce Ann Brown and Her Kansas Byways

I live in Kansas, a block from the Missouri state line in a suburb of Kansas City, Missouri. 
Kansas City, Kansas lies miles to the north and is another K.C. suburb. I’ve lived, worked, and own property on both sides of the state line. I consider myself a Kansas-Citian more than a Kansan. Other urbanites may relate.

It’s not to say I don’t appreciate the beauty and bounty of Kansas. It’s pure pleasure to leave the interstates and visit the many attractions the state offers.
The Kansas Cosmosphere and Space Center in Hutchinson http://www.cosmo.org/  houses the country’s second largest collection of space memorabilia. 

The Tallgrass Prairie National Preserve http://www.nps.gov/tapr/index.htm/, near Strong City has awesome trails for hiking or horseback riding. The experience of walking through the waist-high Bluestem grasses, with miles of Flint Hills visible in every direction, feels like freedom. The Flint Hills Discovery Center in Manhattan http://denglerimages.photoshelter.com/image/I0000JDehn_zhIBM tells the story of Bluestem grasses and their importance.

For those who love architecture or historical buildings or just plain beauty, a visit to the renovated state capitol in Topeka http://www.kansastravel.org/kansasstatecapitol.htm will steal your heart. All the original bronze columns, railings, and ceiling décor have been polished, historic murals have been refurbished, and the maze-like limestone basement is a museum of Kansas history.

Kansas people are outdoorsy, and the state provides plenty of opportunities to enjoy nature—hunting, fishing, birding, hiking, and, of course, photography, not to mention vehicular sports. The land is not only gorgeous, but it’s diverse. Divided into four geographical regions, Eastern Wooded Hills, Flint Hills, Central Prairie, and Western High Plains, a person can travel the scenic byways of each and never see the same kind of topography. http://www.travelks.com/sitemap/ and http://www.kansaswetlandsandwildlifescenicbyway.com/
What? You thought Kansas was flat? Flat is relative—there’re no Smoky Mountains, no Grand Canyon. However, only the Central Prairie is flat, and it gradually slopes toward the high plains, which are punctuated with buttes, chalk formations, and dry canyons. 

 I have two friends who grew up on farms on the Kansas prairie. They both attended one-room schools until eighth grade.
 My friend who lived close to the Oklahoma border says the prairie land there is very flat, and a person can see tornadoes coming for miles, à la Dorothy and Toto.  Wichita, with its plethora of museums and attractions, is the largest city nearby. She loves driving through the Flint Hills on I-35. Every year, she still drives to Winfield to attend the Walnut Valley Bluegrass Festival and
enjoy fiddlers and banjo musicians from around the world.

My other friend lived only six miles from the Nebraska border on productive land which her dad farmed with horses in the early days. At that time, families lived close. With today’s machinery and irrigation methods, fewer farmers are needed for vast acreages. This friend suggests people should travel the secondary roads, such as Highway 36, the Pony Express Highway, and stop off in the small towns, each of which has its Indian museum, statue, cemetery, or
unique wildlife (à la the black squirrels of Marysville.) Be sure to eat at cafés where you see pickups in front.

Camp out in Western Kansas for spectacular stargazing. Travel through the Flint Hills at nightfall in the early spring to witness dramatic controlled burns, which can be seen for miles. Birders, visit Cheyenne Bottoms near Great Bend for a view of the millions of birds soaring over the 

Kansas flyway. Art and ethnic lovers, go to a Swedish festival in artsy Lindsborg. During your travels, you may see bison (usually now fenced) in many parts of the state.

Joyce Ann Brown’s Psycho Cat and the Landlady Mysteries are set in Kansas City, on both sides of the state line. Beth, the landlady, likes to hike, garden, and coddle small animals. Solving the mysteries discovered by Sylvester, aka Psycho Cat, is foreign to her peaceful, nature-loving soul. But—she does find the problem-solving to be stimulating. 

Comment here for a chance to win the Psycho Cat and the Landlady Mystery of your choice. Leave your easiest contact info so Joyce can find you if you win! 

Award-winning author Joyce Ann Brown’s, first book of her “Psycho Cat and the Landlady Mysteries” series, CATastrophic Connections, was published in 2014. A klutzy Kansas City landlady, with the help of a psycho cat, searches for her missing niece who has been framed for embezzlement and murder. To vindicate her niece, she must bring the true evildoer to justice.

The second book, FURtive Investigation, was published in March, 2015. Psycho Cat discovers a trunk containing a human skeleton in a duplex attic. Beth, the landlady, searches on her own when, on orders from higher-ups, the cold case investigation is curtailed by law enforcement. She has to discover the identities of victim and perpetrator without becoming a casualty herself.

Visit here http://joyceannbrown.com to learn more about cozy mystery author and freelance writer, Joyce Ann Brown and why she writes what she does. 
(all info provided by author)


  1. Good morning, Joyce. I enjoyed your blog today and I did learn something new. I have never visited your state and I did have a preconception of it as all flat rolling plains. I wish you success with all of your books.
    Linda Swift, LSwiftR@aol.com

  2. Thank you, Linda. I hope you have a chance to visit Kansas. And thank you for the good wishes for my books.

  3. Joyce, I have driven through Kansas City and the state of Kansas when my husband and I went to visit friends in southern Nebraska before heading on to Wyoming. While crossing the state, we stopped at lots of interesting sites and I realized how beautiful the scenery is. We also encountered some lightning going straight across and the sky turned a color I'd never seen before. It was a little scary at the time but we were fine and now I can tell folks about it. Enjoyed the article and the look back at another state in our beautiful America~

  4. What I particularly like about Kansas is the fact that our son David lives there in Lawrence, Kansas. Sharon and I have visited there and met wonderful people, tasted the fish Dave's late father-in-law caught in its waters, and one day soon will return there. You paint a vivid description of Kansas!

  5. Interesting perspective on Kansas, a state I've never visited. I'm also one of those who believed in the flat myth.

  6. This was an informative bit of information. While doing the family ancestry, we learned my maternal grandfather was originally from Kansas. I keep learning more and more about Kansas and your descriptions and images are wonderful.And I'm one of those: Up till I began learning more about Kansas, I had thought it was flat. It looks beautiful.

  7. Thanks for your excellent piece showcasing a state I've never been to. I also thought it was all flatland. We may have to drag our camper there eventually, to experience nature, Kansas-style.

  8. I'm glad I cleared up the flat myth for all of you. It's true that Kansas is still pretty much a fly-over state, but people need to veer out of their comfort zones and visit. Thanks for your comments.

  9. What a cool blog! And yes, I did think that Kansas was flat. I love the pictures. Kansas is beautiful! Just added to my bucket list-- who knew?


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