In 2005, when Marci Penner launched her first book about Kansas, it was all about expressing love for the state.
She had taken two years and put 40,124 miles on her old blue Honda to visit all 627 of Kansas' incorporated towns and cities.
The result was "The Kansas Guidebook for Explorers," a 432-page spiral-bound book about her adventures.
The 22,000 copies quickly sold out, and a grassroots movement was started for people to explore the simple, quirky, complex and most beautiful areas of Kansas.
Penner, director of the Kansas Sampler Foundation, which helps promote rural culture, then launched a series of nine contests promoting the wonders of Kansas.
Now she has created a second book — the "8 wonders of Kansas Guidebook" — featuring 216 places to explore in Kansas.
"When we started doing the contests, I didn't intend to do a book, but people wanted to have the results of the contest in one place," she said.
Besides, it was time for an update, she said. Since the recession, more than 15 percent of the 3,600 places listed in the first book have closed.
"When you write a book featuring places in rural communities, that's what will happen," she said. "When I wrote the first one, I wanted to help these places stay open. It's a chance we took."
The second book is 272 pages and features a range of places, from the Arikaree Breaks in the far northwestern corner of the state to nearby places like Blackbear Bosin's Keeper of the Plains sculpture in Wichita.
Photographer and Brown County farmer Harland Schuster shot photos of each of the featured places. Penner's sister, Liz King, designed the book.
Penner said she chose Schuster because of his curiosity and ability to explore.
Case in point: Schuster wanted someone to climb the Harper water tower in order to give the distinctive
red fish dimension in his photo; he asked schoolchildren in Plains to spread across the town's notoriously wide streets to show scale.
Wonders chosen in the categories of architecture, art, commerce, cuisine, customs, geography, history, people and overall are included. The book contains maps, locations, hours and contacts for each entry.
Penner wanted everything about the book to be done in Kansas by Kansans. The printer is Mennonite Press. All places where the book will be sold are locally owned.
The book sells for $30. In Wichita, it can be purchased at Watermark Books & Cafe, the Great Plains Nature Center and the Go Wichita Convention and Visitors Bureau. Forty percent of proceeds go to the book sellers; 60 percent goes to the Kansas Sampler Foundation.