Updated: Sep 13, 2021
Rogene "Jeannie" McPherson is preparing for the release of her new book that centers on farm life and family. (Submitted photo)
The road to being a published author of Christian books has been both long and winding for a writer from the Centerville area. But living on a farm in western Linn County has provided Rogene “Jeannie” McPherson both the quiet atmosphere to develop her craft and natural beauty to inspire it.
Over the past four years, McPherson has written three children’s books based on the life of Jesus. Blending the use of biblical accounts, historical fiction and New Testament verses, she uses words – along with the illustrations of Alyssa Busse – to place the young reader with Jesus at different points in his life.
Now, the author is getting ready to release a new book, Posts From the Country, this time aimed at adults. And instead of relying on illustrations, the book will use photographs by another well-known Centerville artist, Fred Kautt, a retired professional photographer for Hallmark.
“It’s stories about the farm and family,” she said, adding that she likes writing short stories around a theme.
On the cover of the new book is a photo of barbed wire wrapped around a post. It’s a photo that McPherson loves. On the back is the photo accompanying this article: McPherson and her horse, another favorite.
McPherson, a retired special education teacher, said she always liked to write and got high marks for writing when she was in school. Equally important, she was encouraged by those she knew.
“It was just one of those things that people said, ‘You should do it,’” she said
Although her teaching career began in Iowa, McPherson and her family eventually made their way to the Kansas City area and she began teaching in the Turner USD 202 schools. In 1988 she and her husband purchased a farm outside of Centerville with a 120-year-old farmhouse on it.
They began making treks down to the farm on weekends, fixing up the house and enjoying living in the country. Soon the family moved down permanently and built a new home. In 2010 McPherson retired from teaching.
While she was wanting to write, she said she needed inspiration to do it seriously. That inspiration came a few years ago, when she planned to attend a writing workshop in Oklahoma. As it happened, another writer from the area was going to the same workshop and asked about riding down with her.
That writer was Rebecca Thesman, who was on her way to speak at the workshop. Thesman is a writing coach based in Olathe, and the round trip helped McPherson to get fired up about publishing.
Now a good friend, Thesman has also been charged with editing McPherson’s new book, and that is an important step for the author.
“I wanted it to be my voice,” McPherson said, adding she was certain that Thesman would make sure that happened.
As she was shopping for publishers for her children’s books, she ran across Electric Moon Publishing, a small publishing company in Stromsberg, Neb., that specializes in publishing Christian books. Publisher Laree Lindburg liked the manuscript for the first “Meet Me” book and enlisted artist Alyssa Busse to do the illustrations.
The "Meet Me" book series for children combines biblical stories, historical fiction and New Testament verses to introduce young readers to the story of Christ.
The “Meet Me” series has three books. The first, Meet Me in the Manger, The Fruit of the Spirit and the Cuddly Creatures, published in 2017, sees the birth of Christ through the eyes of animals – including a dove, a horse and a camel – who found themselves at the manager during the momental occasion.
Meet Me in the Countryside, Parables from the Pasture, much like its subject, uses stories to teach lessons to young readers. “The Parable of the Good Samaritan,” “The Parable of the Prodigal Son,” and others get a fresh retelling aimed at giving young readers insight to their meaning.
The third book in the trilogy, Meet Me in the City, The Faithful Friendship of Jesus, begins as Christ enters the city of Jerusalem at the beginning of the week that would end in crucifixion. Because it is a children’s book, the book does not cover Jesus’ final day but rather stops with prayer in the Garden of Gethsemane.
The “Meet Me” books are targeted for children 5 to 9 years old. However, children as young as 3 will enjoy them, she said.
The mother of two sons, Brendan, who at 38 is an attorney, and Jonathan, 30, a mechanical engineer, McPherson used her six grandchildren’s names for inspirations for the characters in the “Meet Me” series.
When she isn’t writing, McPherson has plenty to do around her farm. But she recently took on another role: Silver-haired Legislator. She said she read that there was open position for Linn County and was curious about it.
She had a good friend from her days teaching in Turner who is a Silver-haired Legislator. He suggested she should meet him in Topeka to learn more about it, and she liked what she saw.
She will be attending her first session of the group this fall, but for now she is concentrating on her books. And as a former teacher she is very concerned that children have books to call their own, and her passion for that often leads to her giving her works away.
“If I had a mission statement, it would be that every child will have a book,” she said.
Her books can be purchased online from Amazon and Walmart, or she can be contacted via her Facebook page.