Earlier this spring, Sherry Kuehl was invited to a book reading at an expensive home in Los Angeles.
Kuehl, a Leawood resident and mom better known as the author of the “Snarky in the Suburbs” blog and weekly column in The Kansas City Star, had just released her second novel, “Snarky in the Suburbs Trouble in Texas.”
“We got to see how the other half lives, quite frankly; it was a beautiful home,” Kuehl said before owning up to some trepidation. “You worry with it being a Texas book, is it too inside baseball? Do you have to be from Texas?”
Set in the fictional town of Trask, Texas, the book tells the story of Wynn Butler, who returns home to visit her parents. There she finds that her 69-year-old mother has opened a cupcake business that is also supporting former Junior Leaguers who are financially hurting.
Wynn’s mother also has plans — with Wynn’s help — to get revenge against the ex-husband of Wynn’s high school arch enemy and the man’s snobby new wife, all of the action centered around Trask’s biggest social event, the Mohair Palace Pageant.
Hijinks, as they say, ensue.
Kuehl, who grew up in Texas, said the book was a hit.
“It was funny, I think we all have universal experiences,” she said. “Sometimes I think, especially with women, we are all living the same lives. Because something that happened to me happens to someone in L.A.”
Observing those commonalities, especially the absurd ones, has been the bedrock of Kuehl’s writing since she started her “Snarky in the Suburbs” blog five years ago, shortly after moving to town.
“That’s what struck me the first time I started writing the blog,” she said. “I lived in Texas previously, and then moved to Nevada, and then moved to Kansas. I remember I went to my first (parent teacher organization) meeting at Leawood Elementary and thought, ‘It’s the same women with different names. Nothing changes.’”
Kuehl’s first book, “Snarky in the Suburbs Back to School,” attracted the attention of television producers who have worked with her for several years to turn her blog into a television show.
She said they have written a pilot script adapted from the book that would set the show in Kansas City. Producers originally wanted to set it in an unnamed town, but she said the attention paid to Kansas City during the Royals’ postseason run last year changed that. Still, the pilot continues to inch toward an unknown future.
“Once you see a little bit of how the sausage is made, you wonder how anything gets on TV,” she said. “I don’t know if anything will come of it, but I’m just enjoying the ride.”
Kuehl said “Trouble in Texas” came together much faster and easier than her first book, which, among other things, relied on a team of volunteer online editors. This time, she had a single editor, another Texan who refused payment for her work.
Unlike “Back to School, which dealt with many of the same themes found in Kuehl’s blog, “Trouble in Texas” is an excuse for the former Texan to tap her roots.
“I’ve had that story bopping around my head for a while,” she said.
Kuehl went to high school in Waco, graduated from Baylor University, married a Texan and had two children there. The former television reporter and producer acknowledges that the inspirations for many of her characters in “Trouble in Texas” walked the streets of her hometown at one time or another.
“A lot of it is like combining women I knew into one character, a lot of things my mom would have said for sure,” Kuehl said. “(Wynn)’s father is a sheriff. My dad was never a sheriff, but I knew the sheriff from my time covering the police beat for TV news. It’s lovingly culled from people I have known most of my life.”
She’s already begun work on a mystery that may eventually become her third book or simply a short story aimed at television. Kuehl said that while the genres may change, her main goal is strictly entertainment.
“If I can make someone laugh, then for me that is golden,” she said. “I don’t need to impart a lesson. Somebody can just read it and get carried away for a little while and not think about their to-do lists or all the things that are going on in their head. That’s all I want to do.”