A Prosecco Toast to 16 Years…

Today is Production Editor Larisa Martin’s last day at the University Press of Kansas. For 16 years her eagle eye has helped authors produce their best work and her magnetic personality filled our halls. As she lounges by the pool, we will be busy wondering how to replace her immense talent (and the sound of her laughter echoing from the other end of the building).

“Not only has it been a great pleasure to work alongside Larisa at the Press, but it has been an honor to get to her know bubbly personality that resonates wherever she goes. She has touched the Press with her energy in such a way that we will miss that lovely, loud laugh down the halls, we will miss the stories of living in Communist Romania, and her amazing ability to make anyone smile. She will be missed greatly, but I know she has an amazing adventure in retirement ahead of her. Cheers my dear friend and colleague!” – Andrea Laws, Administrative Assistant/Permissions Coordinator

“Everyone who has had the fortune of working with Larisa knows her laugh is infectious, her smile worthy of celebration, and that her general demeanor and warmth radiates through the Press halls and into each and every book she works on. The Press will miss her dedication and tremendous talents. I feel fortunate to know Larisa and when I think of her, I recall the ways in which she embodies the following principles, every single day:

  1. Recognize and celebrate accomplishments.
  2. Bring positivity and passion to your life and work —enough to share with others.
  3. Offer help, advice, and words of encouragement when you can.
  4. Worries are best forgotten and replaced with successes, music, travel, friends, positive life experiences, or something yummy to snack on.
  5. It’s never too early for Prosecco.

Cheers to you, Larisa!” – Becca Murray, former Publicity and Social Media Manager, University Press of Kansas

“Larisa warmly welcomed me to Kansas. I remember fondly many wonderful parties at her home, her great sense of humor, and her kindness. She is an accomplished professional in her work, leading adaptation to the many changes in the way books are produced over her time at Kansas, and is a favorite of her many authors. Larisa is a great colleague. Larisa strongly supported her junior colleague’s promotion to managing editor believing that this was the best decision for the Press. Indeed everything she does is for the good of the Press and her authors. As a side note, I learned a great deal about Romania from her. I know she will be missed at the Press and I wish her the best in her retirement.” – Charles Myers, Assistant Editorial Director at the University of Chicago Press and former Director of the University Press of Kansas

“Despite having lived in Romania when it was part of the Soviet Union, Larisa has a joie de vivre that is an inspiration. It’s difficult to whine when you know someone who survived that era! Our authors have told me how much they like working with Larisa, and I know they will miss her as much as I will. I have no doubt that she will continue to enjoy life as fully as she did pre-retirement. Here’s to you, Larisa!” –  Joyce Harrison, Editor in Chief

“You are a smart, kind, funny, insightful person who has lived through and experienced so much, and I know retirement will bring exciting adventures, good conversation, and new friends. I sincerely hope retirement is everything you want it to be and that you get to spend tons of time with your grandchildren, explore Belize, eat delicious meals, and relax as much as you can.” – Colin Tripp, Assistant Production Editor

“From learning about Larisa’s life and work in Romania to being a part of her life and work in Kansas, it’s been a joy to have Larisa at UPK for the past sixteen years. Her enthusiasm for her job, for the authors and their manuscripts, for bringing people together to talk and to celebrate an occasion, and her bubbly personality will be missed. Cheers to her! Dus dar nu uitat! (I think that’s the Romanian translation for “gone but not forgotten.”) Let me know if that’s correct, Larisa.” – Debra Diehl, Direct Mail and Exhibits Manager

“Larisa has been both patient mentor and trusted colleague. She’s cleaned up many a messy manuscript, deftly evaluated questionable art, skillfully negotiated with freelancers and vendors, and valiantly accelerated production schedules—and she did it all with her characteristic good humor. I’ll miss her amusing stories and boisterous laughter in our office halls. Larisa has long been such an ebullient presence at UPK, showing optimism and dedication even during the most difficult of circumstances. I’m truly thankful for all of the good work she’s done and good advice she’s given. Cheers to your retirement, Larisa!” – Kelly Chrisman Jacques, Managing Editor

“The Larisa I worked with was (and still is!) a force of nature with an irrepressible personality, infectious laugh, a deep sense of loyalty to the Press, and relentless can-do spirit that made for the kind of terrific teamwork that’s needed to produce truly successful books. UPK was lucky to have her for as long as it did and I for one certainly miss the daily interactions we once had in pursuit of the press’s greater glory. But new horizons beckon and adventures await for someone who’s truly earned this moment.” – Michael Briggs, former Editor in Chief, University Press of Kansas

In her retirement, Larisa plans to freelance edit, travel to Belize and continue to celebrate life. All of us at UPK raise a glass of Prosecco and wish her a splendid retirement.

Three UPK Titles Named 2019 Kansas Notable Books

Topeka, KS – Last week State Librarian Eric Norris announced the 14th annual selection of Kansas Notable Books. The fifteen books feature quality titles with wide public appeal, either written by a Kansan or about a Kansas-related topic.

“I am proud to present the 2019 Kansas Notable Book list. Choosing only 15 books is no easy task,” said Eric Norris, State Librarian. “The selection committee began with a pool of nearly 100 submitted titles and worked diligently to identify the year’s best works by Kansas authors and illustrators, as well as those works that highlight our history and heritage. Kansans are encouraged to visit their local public library and celebrate the artists and the artistry of Kansas.”

Three University Press of Kansas books were selected.

No Place Like Home; Lessons in Activism from LGBT Kansas by C.J. Janovy

Far from the coastal centers of culture and politics, Kansas stands at the very center of American stereotypes about red states. In the American imagination, it is a place LGBT people leave. No Place Like Home is about why they stay. The book tells the epic story of how a few disorganized and politically naïve Kansans, realizing they were unfairly under attack, rolled up their sleeves, went looking for fights, and ended up making friends in one of the country’s most hostile states.

The Diaries of Reuben Smith, Kansas Settler and Civil War Soldier by Lana Wirt Myers

In 1854, after recently arriving from England, twenty-two-year-old Reuben Smith traveled west, eventually making his way to Kansas Territory. There he found himself in the midst of a bloody prelude to the Civil War, as Free Staters and defenders of slavery battled to stake their claim. The young Englishman wrote down what he witnessed in a diary where he had already begun documenting his days in a clear and candid fashion. As beautifully written as they are keenly observant, these diaries afford an unusual view of America in its most tumultuous times, of Kansas in its critical historical moments, and of one mans life in the middle of it all for fifty years.

Elevations; A Personal Exploration of the Arkansas River by Max McCoy

The upper Arkansas River courses through the heart of America from its headwaters near the Continental Divide above Leadville, Colorado, to Arkansas City, just above the Kansas-Oklahoma border. Max McCoy embarked on a trip of 742 miles in search of the rivers unique story. Part adventure and part reflection, steeped in the natural and cultural history of the Arkansas Valley, Elevations is McCoy’s account of that journey.


Kansas Notable Books is a project of the Kansas Center for the Book, a program of the State Library. The Kansas Center for the Book is a state affiliate of the Center for the Book in the Library of Congress. Throughout the award year, the State Library promotes and encourages the promotion of all titles on this year’s list at literary events, and among librarians and booksellers.

An awards ceremony will be held at the Kansas Book Festival, Saturday, September 14, 2019, at the State Capitol to recognize the talented Notable Book authors. The public is invited.

For more information about Kansas Notable Books, call 785-296-3296, visit kslib.info/notablebooks or email infodesk@ks.gov.

Garcia Named International Latino Book Awards Finalist

Dennis Garcia’s book Marine, Public Servant, Kansas; The Life of Ernest Garcia has been named a finalist the Twentieth Annual International Latino Book Awards. Garcia is nominated in the Best Biography category.

The International Latino Book Awards are produced by Latino Literacy Now, a nonprofit organization co-founded in 1997 by Edward James Olmos and Kirk Whisler. A full list of finalists is available here.

Winners will be announced at the awards ceremony on September 21, 2019, in Los Angeles.