With a memorable name, Goudie continues to make her mark though books


She dishes regularly about books as a “Book Doctor” on the Kansas City NPR affiliate and her reviews have appeared in the New York Times and  other publications. She is a proven leader in her Kansas affiliate and NFPW. Meet another unique and unbelievable NFPW member who is full of optimism and curiosity and is as unique as her name — Jeffrey Ann Goudie.

Name: Jeffrey Ann Goudie

Jeffrey Ann Goudie

Jeffrey Ann Goudie

City and State: Topeka, Kansas

Affiliate and any leadership positions:

Kansas Professional Communicators. In the past I have served as East District Director (a position that no longer exists!) and 2nd Vice President/Bylaws and am winding down my second term as Secretary to transition into my second term as Historian. I was Kansas Communicator of Achievement in 2004.

Years a member of NFPW: 24 years

In a couple of paragraphs, tell us a little about you:

I am a long-time book reviewer, whose reviews have appeared in the New York Times Book Review and the Women’s Review of Books, but mostly in my regional paper of note, the Kansas City Star. I appear as a regular “Book Doctor” on KCUR, the Kansas City NPR affiliate (89.3 FM), to dish about books with fellow book critics. For many years I wrote a newspaper column, first for the Topeka Capital-Journal, then for the Topeka Metro News. I currently contribute commentary, mostly about Kansas politics and female politicians, to the Huffington Post. I also write profiles of interesting Topekans for Topeka Magazine.

I feel lucky to be able to do work that fills my need for novelty and satisfies my curiosity. I’m married to a fiction writer, Tom Averill, so I have an excellent editor who works across the study from me, separated by a tall double bookcase. This arrangement mostly works well, unless I talk too much, but he has a university office to retreat to.

I like it when my writing hits a nerve with readers, or crystallizes what they themselves are thinking. I’ve recently enjoyed writing for the Huffington Post — what it lacks in payment, it more than makes up for in readership. As a book reviewer, I gain a bit of secondhand glory when blurbs from my reviews appear on paperbacks. Yes, that’s me studying the backs of new trade paperbacks at Barnes and Noble.

Jeffrey Ann Goudie is a"Book Doctor" on KCUR, the Kansas City NPR affiliate

Jeffrey Ann Goudie is a “Book Doctor” on KCUR, the Kansas City NPR affiliate

Any career advice you would give?

My career advice comes from freelance writing, which many of our members do. With the freelance life, it’s either feast or famine. My advice would be to persist and persevere, despite rejection. One never knows when a piece that has been rejected by one publication will hit the sweet spot of an editor at a different publication on a new day.

Which talent would you most like to have?

In high school I took art for four years and entered the University of Kansas as a Fine Arts major, but never took a college art class. So perhaps like George Bush — not one of my political heroes, but who hails from my hometown of Midland, Texas — I will take up art in my retirement.

If you could live anywhere, where would it be?

I grew up in dusty, dry West Texas, and have always considered the northeast corner of Kansas where I live surprisingly lovely with its colorful, lush Springtime and its Fall-time deciduous trees. So where I’d want to live is right here, only with a new, progressive governor and a saner state legislature.

What book are you reading?

I’m actually rereading a lovely illustrated edition of William Strunk and E.B. White’s classic for writers, The Elements of Style. It has a Foreword by New Yorker writer Roger Angell (did you know he is the stepson of E.B. White?) and quirky and whimsical art by Maira Kalman.

What would people be surprised to learn about you?

Well, that I made an “F” in Home Economics, but that’s not surprising! Maybe that I had a baby at age 47. Alex is now a high school junior, and his sister, Ellie, a professional dancer, is 32.  Same marriage, just widely-spaced children.

Also, I have an unusual name for a woman, which I was always told was because my dad wanted to give me a memorable name. Several years ago another female Jeffrey contacted me.  She was named after Jeff Donnell, a B-grade movie actress who played George Gobel’s wife on television. When I related this story to my mother, she said, “Oh, yes, so were you.” So my name acquired a new backstory.

Why is your affiliate and NFPW important to you?

I joined NFPW and what was then Kansas Press Women in 1990. I was writing a column for the Topeka Capital-Journal at the time, and my editor encouraged me to join and enter my work in the communications contest. I did and won a first place in my state contest, and was hooked. I think of KPC and NFPW as part of my tribe. Many of the members, like me, started out working full-time in the daily newspaper business (I very briefly worked for the Parsons Sun and the Detroit Free Press) before finding work that was more flexible and conducive to family life, or just life. The organization is full of women propelled by optimism and curiosity, and it affords these strong women opportunities for support, recognition and leadership.

Way to follow you on a website, twitter, Facebook, etc.

I’m on Facebook.

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