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Hartington native writes to inspire kids' imaginations

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HARTINGTON – Charleen (Feilmeier) Meyer is a longtime homemaker who has worn many hats – mother, grandmother and author.

That latter role is one reason the rural Hartington native was back in northeast Nebraska visiting recently. The Hartington Public Library hosted a book-signing event on June 28 for the children's book author.

Meyer described the occasion – which marked the first time she has had a book-signing event in Hartington – as “great,” as she had the opportunity to visit with family members and friends and talk with people about her books.

“I'm really happy with how it went,” Meyer said in a follow-up interview.

The 83-year-old central Missouri resident noted before she became an author, she had a longtime desire to write children's books.

In 1997, after a friend of Meyer's heard about a funny incident that happened in Meyer's backyard with squirrels and a bird feeder full of sunflower seeds, her friend encouraged her to write a story about it.

“The squirrels were in our bird feeder and I chased them out with my broom,” Meyer said. “This squirrel outsmarted me because he got his way of getting the food to the ground so he and his friends could feed on it.”

She later answered an ad in a magazine for writing children’s books and took a class through the Institute of Children’s Literature on how to do so.

“I don’t even know what magazine it was,” Meyer said. “I was at the doctor’s office and I found it in a magazine so I tore the page out, took it home and called the number.”

She took the class mostly through the mail and then over the Internet eventually.

However, Meyer did not start writing children’s books until years later.

At the 2015 Missouri State Fair in Sedalia, Mo., Meyer met Madge H. Gressley, an author who was interested in the story that would eventually become Meyer’s first children’s book.

Meyer’s story of “The Sunflower Seed Caper” was published the same year as that fateful encounter at the fair. So far, she has had eight books published since then.

She noted her fictional books are inspired by people’s real-life stories.

“Most of them really happened,” Meyer said.

Her latest book, which was published in March of this year, is titled “A History Mystery” and has the following synopsis: “Zeke and Ted, two school buddies, decide to explore the old Victorian house in their neighborhood even though their parents warned them ‘off limits’ means ‘off limits’ for them to go near the house. As it turns out, they find a very valuable piece of history.”

In addition to the recent Hartington book-signing event, the Price James Library in Tipton, Mo. – near where Meyer lives – is planning to host a similar event for her around when classes start for the 2024-25 school year.

“Usually I go to craft shows and set up like I did here,” Meyer said.

She and her husband, Dennis, also were visiting Hartington to attend his 65th class reunion of Holy Trinity High School, now known as Cedar Catholic, so she thought holding an event to promote her books at the local library would be a good idea.

“We want to thank everyone that made our day so special,” Meyer said.

Meyer graduated from Holy Trinity in 1958, while her husband is a 1959 graduate. She and Dennis, who also is a rural Hartington native, live near the Lake of the Ozarks in central Missouri.

She noted she and her husband have not lived in the Hartington area for about 60 years.

“We come back a couple of times a year,” Meyer said, adding they try to visit with “as many people as we can see and talk to” in northeast Nebraska when they are here.

As far as her next children’s book, Meyer noted she plans to keep writing, but she is not sure what the next one will be about, though she has some ideas she is considering.

She recently attended a funeral for someone who was 95 years old and wondered what that woman was doing when she was 5 or 6 years old and what the United States was was like at that time.

“Going back to what their life was like (as children),” Meyer said of what her next book could be about.

Meyer – the proud mother of four children and grandmother of six grandchildren – noted she writes books to inspire kids to use their imaginations.

“I enjoy doing it,” Meyer said. “I can start out one way and think about something and then start it all over in a different way. I write one a year. It takes a whole year to get it written and published.”

Her books are available for sale through People may look up her name to find her books by searching for “Charleen H. Meyer.”