WELCOME TO NEW SEASONBy R. Craig Sautter
AND REVIEW OF PAST YEAR
Welcome to SMA's 2004-5 season. I'd like to thank everyone who came to this year's Annual Banquet and Awards Ceremony in May at the Chicago Athletic Association. We had a great time, with record attendance, and heard inspiring remarks from award winners, and guest speakers Mark Moskovitz and Dow Mossman.
SMA members also had fun selling books and talking literature at the Printers' Row Book Fair in June.
This fall, SMA continues its "Chicago in Literature Series. We start Oct. 12 at CAA with our "James T. Farrell Centennial Conversation" featuring MacArthur Prize-winning author Bette Howland, playwright William Lederer (whose uncle was the model for Studs Lonigan) and poet, editor and SMA member Ron Offen.
On Nov. 9, SMA Member James Merriner will discuss his new book Grafters and Goo Goos: Corruption and Reform in Chicago 1833-2003.
Beginning in January, 2005, SMA launches its 90 th Anniversary Year. It should be the occasion for many more memorable meetings, and for us to look back with pride at our own history.
Also, all SMA members should take a moment to make sure they have sent copies of their books for inclusion in the SMA Archives housed in the Special Collections of the University of Illinois Chicago Library.
If you haven't already submitted your books, please do so by sending them to me at 7658 N. Rogers Ave., Chicago 60626, so I can deliver them to the collection librarians.
This way, in 90 more years, our era will be accurately represented to that generation of Midland Authors and other scholars.
(Recently donated books and other materials came from Liz Bluper, Anne Brashler, June Rachuy Brindel, William C. Burger, Armando Favazza, Richard Frisbie, Cranston Sedrick Knight and Carol Spelius.)
I want, as well, to remind members to post their new books on our popular new Web feature "New Books by SMA Authors" found at www.midlandauthors.com.
This feature allows us to highlight the range and depth of quality of our writers throughout the 12 states of the Midlands that our organization covers.
Finally, I want to welcome Marlene Targ Brill and our past president Richard Lindberg to this year's SMA Board. Their expertise will be invaluable to our organization.
So have a wonderful fall and please join us at our monthly meetings for good conversation, good cheer and enlightening speakers.
P.S. If you haven't done so yet, please send in your annual dues ($35, Society of Midland Authors, PO Box 10419, Chicago, 60610).
FOOD AND DRINK MENU REVISED FOR MONTHLY PROGRAM MEETINGS
Because costs for our monthly programs have far exceeded the amount collected for admissions for the past couple of years, the SMA Board of Directors has determined we can no longer afford to offer a hot hors d'oeuvres buffet and serve-yourself beverages.
Instead, there'll be a cash bar and a less elaborate snack menu.
Admission will be free for SMA members and students and teachers with ID. The public, welcome as always, will pay $5.
Members are urged to bring friends, who may want to come early and see the new Millennium Park across the street.
Also, contributions we could use to help pay for the annual literary awards declined during the past year. Contributions to SMA are deductible.
Fiscal Year 7/1/2003 - 6/30/2004
- Balance 7/1/2003$3,503.29
- Member dues$8,740
- Donations, unrestricted$1,385
- Donations for awards$525
- Banquet tickets$5,305
- Program admissions$1,670
- Printers Row receipts$275
- Publications & mailings$3,120.83
- Awards & plaques$2,761.47
- Awards Banquet$7,676.94
- Monthly programs$6,262.81
- Printers Row booth$450.00
- Membership maintenance$1,781.93
- Administrative expense$1,162.92
- Gain (Loss)($3,286.90)
- Balance 6/30/2004$216.39
- Balance 7/1/2003$11,511.73
- Balance 6/30/2004$11,886.54
PROMOTE YOUR BOOK WITH A VIRTUAL "PRESS ROOM"
By Tom Ciesielka
TC Public Relations
Many corporate Web sites include what is known as a "press room." It's a resource for the media to learn more about the company, new products or services, and information about key personnel. It's a terrific resource for reporters, especially when they need some facts and they cannot contact someone.
The same Internet tool can help authors. When someone wants to write about you and your book, making correct information accessible can help them and perhaps improve the media coverage you receive. Here are some key elements for an author's press room:
Press release, a 400 to 600 word explanation of what your book is about and what makes it unique and newsworthy.
Author biography formatted to meet media needs. It should be no longer than 500 words. Also, besides giving the basic information on your background, it should explain what about your education and experience qualified you to write the book you are promoting.
Author photo and book cover: It would be good to have at least your head shot and the cover of your book available as 300 dpi Jpeg files, suitable for a print publication. This way, someone who decided to run something on your book could add artwork to the article.
Resource links: The best press rooms also have links to other resources that relate to what you do. For example, if you book covers medical issues, having links to research at medical schools that supports your ideas is helpful. It shows the reporters that there is more information they could add to any story they might do about your book.
Of course, you need to let people know this press room exists. Therefore, when you send out printed press releases, post card announcements, or even email messages, be sure to include the link to your press room.
(Next month: Ways to link your promotional efforts with those of your publisher. Note: Tom Ciesielka's column appears every month on the SMA Web site even when Literary License does not publish. Back issues include: August - Using Email to get media attention; July - How to prepare for media interviews; June - Link your book to current news.)
Now You Tell Me
By Barbara Schaaf
Another Book that Candace Wrote
This is the Baby (FSG/Kroupa) is Candace Fleming's latest contribution (joining Lily and Smile) to the literature of the two to four-year-old set. In rhyme, ala this-is-the-house-that-Jack-built, she describes how difficult it can be to dress a resistant child.
Think There Was No Such Thing?
Free Lunch, the poetry journal edited by Ron Offen, is producing a series of three poetry readings (Sept. 26, 2004; Jan. l6, 2005; and June 5, 2005) for the Wilmette Public Library.
While an established poet will be featured at each session, members of the public may sign up to read their favorite poems. A prize will be given to the best reader, as judged by Offen & Co., while others will receive gift subscriptions to Free Lunch.
For more information, see www.poetsfreelunch.org
(Offen himself was one of the poets featured Sept. 10 and 11 at an arts festival sponsored by the Pioetry Center of Chicago.)
On Coming to America
To celebrate its l5th anniversary, the Guild Complex has scheduled series of programs beginning Nov. 3 with "How I Came to the United States," featuring Aleksandar Hemon.
He came to the U. S. as a tourist in 1992. When war made his return home to Sarajevo impossible, he settled in Chicago. SMA fiction award-winner Hemon has appeared in TriQuarterly and the New Yorker, and has published a short story collection as well as his novel.
Besides describing his own experience, Hemon will interact with students from the Loyola Community Literary Center and Northeastern Illinois University who have completed essays on their own journeya to America. For information, see www.guildcomplex.com
Help at Last for Sox and Cubs?
Diamond Presence: Twelve Stories of Finding God at the Old Ball Park is being published in September by ACTA, with three SMA members contributing chapters. Carol DeChant offers "Babe Ruth Blesses the Sons of Kerry"; Patrick Reardon, "Ready to be Caught Off Guard"; and Helen Reichert Lambin, "The Boys of Spring."
Birds, Bees, Aristotle and DNA
On Being Born, and Other Difficulties (Overlook), F. Gonzalez-Crussi's collection of essays, won high praise from the Chicago Sun-Times, which credited the Northwestern University professor of pathology emeritus with giving us "a shot of wow."
He ranges from the prehuman stages of earth's development and the ancient Greek outlook through modern scientific development to explore Western thought and theories of reproduction.
Triumph over Tragedy
Milton Nieuwsma's Kinderlager: An Oral History of Young Holocaust Survivors was published in l998 to high praise, and was chosen as one of the top ten books on the Holocaust by the Netherlands Institute for Higher European Studies.
Still, Nieuwsma was not satisfied; he was convinced the story would make an excellent documentary. PBS station WGVU of Grand Rapids agreed, and the result was the joint production of Surviving Auschwitz, to be aired on Jan. 27, 2005, on the 60th anniversary of the liberation of the camp.
Nieuwsma traveled with the film crews to locations in Poland and Lithuania, and was accompanied by two of his principal sources, who as youngsters were exposed to the worst of human nature.
More Laurels for the Laureate
When the Aurora Public Library held its annual benefit gala on Sept. l0, they chose as their keynote speaker Illinois' new poet laureate, Kevin Stein. At the dinner, Stein was presented with the Vernon Louis Parrington Medal.
Named for the American historian who was the only Auroran to win a Pulitzer Prize, the award is given to the person who exemplifies "the enlightenment espoused and demonstrated" by Parrington.
"Nobel Prize in Moral Philosophy"
Jean Bethke Elshtain has been named to join the distinguished company of Iris Murdoch, Hannah Arendt and Reinhold Niebuhr, who preceded her in delivering the Gifford Lectures at the University of Edinburgh.
These lectures, regarded as the "Nobel Prize in Moral Philosophy," will be given in the academic year 2005-6.
She has been an SMA awards finalist for Jane Addams and the Dream of American Democracy and Who Are We?
Other Member News
"Master Story Teller Harry Mark Petrakis has a new book,
The Orchards of Ithaca, from Southern Illinois University
Press. He was featured in September at the Evanston Public
Library. Booklist recently noted, "As always, master
storyteller Petrakis is keenly attuned to the intermingling of
the mundane and the momentous, and fascinated by the different
forms heroism takes. Candid and penetrating in its psychology
and spiritual inquiry, Petrakis's 10th novel . . .is vital and
First Poet Laureate from Great Plains
Ted Kooser, SMA member in Nebraska and winner of two SMA awards
in the past, was recently named Poet Laureate Consultant in Poetry
for the Library of Congress.
James H. Billington, the Librarian of Congress, said, "Ted Kooser
is a major poetic voice for rural and small town American and
the first Poet Laureate chosen from the Great Plains."
Kooser received SMA poetry prizes for Small Signs in 1980
and for Braided Creek: A Conversation in Poetry with Jim Harrison
in 2003. He is a visiting professor in the English department
of the University of Nebraska at Lincoln.
Two at a Time
R. Craig Sautter has two new books out, New York Presidential
Conventions: The Pre-TV Era (1839-1924), which can be found
at www.presidentialconventions.com, and 26 Martyrs For These
Latter Perilous Days (with Curt Johnson).
Thirteen Languages Plus Film Rights
Blue Balliett, author of two previous nonfiction books, has
scored a huge success with her first novel. Chasing Vermeer
(Scholastic) is being published in 13 languages. Brad Pitt has
already bought the movie rights.
Trained as an art historian, she taught at the University of Chicago
Lab School for 10 years.
She has told the press that the main characters in her novel were
an amalgam of the hundreds of bright and creative students she
A second story featuring the same characters is in the works.
On Hearth and Home
Betsy J. Green, author of Discovering the History of Your
House: and Your Neighborhood (Santa Monica Press, 2002), was
a presenter at the Midwest Literary Festival in Aurora on Sept.
11 as part of a "Hearth & Home" authors' panel.
Local Press Celebrates 10 th Anniversary
Sharon Woodhouse's Lake Claremont Press is celebrating its
10 th anniversary, "featuring specialized topics in
regional history and guidebooks by locals."
Intellectual Freedom Award
Richard Frisbie, a trustee of the Arlington Heights, Ill.,
public library since 1967, will receive two awards during the
Illinois Library Association annual conference Sept. 29-Oct. 2
The 2004 Intellectual Freedom Award recognizes "outstanding contributions
to the defense or advancement of intellectual freedom."
The 2004 ILA Trustee Citation is for "achievement, leadership
and service to libraries."
"Queen of Redneck Noir"
Lisa Reardon's Web site calls her the "Queen of redneck
noir." Her newest novel, The Mercy Killers is set in Ypsilanti,
Mich., at the end of the 1960s.
It follows the "less than sunny path of Charlie Simpkins: boyfriend
to a hooker, brother to a nutcase, husband to a nice white girl,
friend to thieves, drunks and drug addicts, and ...Vietnam veteran."
"Eclectic Event" on CDs
Marl Eleveld's EM Press has released a new CD, Life
from Beyond Baroque 2, in cooperation with Perceval Press
of Southern California.
The two-CD package is a live recording of poetry, stories and
music from "a majestic November evening in fabled Venice, Calif.,
(an) eclectic evening - the coming together of white-haired professors
with iconoclastic emcee hip hop notables, slammers, renowned painters,
journalists, Latino activists, actors, singer/songwriters - all
poets - in front of 300 strangers at the famed Beyond Baroque
Uncommon Detective Writers
Continuing through October and November, Northeastern
Illinois University is focusing on the multicultural aspects of
"Uncommon Detectives" with the aid of several SMA members.
They include Eleanor Taylor Bland, Barbara D'Amato, Michael Allen
Dymmoch, Libby Fischer Hellmann, Harriette Gillem Robinet and
Mark Richard Zubro.
More than 45 events including panels, films, exhibits and theater
productions are being presented.
NEIU notes that "One out of every four books sold is a detective
fiction novel, and the popularity of this genre seems only to
"In the last two decades there has been a tremendous outpouring
of detective fiction series written by women and persons of color
resulting in the creation of fictional protagonists within new
social and cultural contexts.
"These shifting gender, sexual, ethnic, racial and political identities
and social constructs provide the opportunity to address social
issues in an accessible manner and provoke questions for public
Locations include Northeastern Illinois University, DuSable Museum,
Mexican Fine Arts Center Museum and Newberry Library.
Was It Something in the Soup?
Several years ago Charlene Ann Baumbich, an aspiring writer,
attended an SMA banquet to breathe the literary air and encourage
herself to get going on a book of her own.
Since then she has published six nonfiction books and launched
a series of novels, the first two of which have sold about 90,000
Her third novel, Dearest Dorothy, Help! I've Lost Myself!
was just published by Penguin.
Publishers Weekly says readers will "revel in the antics
of the residents of Partonville, Baumbich's imaginary village
in the northern part of southern Illinois.'
"Characters are quirky and charming ...there are several
laugh-out-loud moments; and Baumbich offers gentle inspiration
without hammering readers over the head with God."
A warmly appreciative PW profile accompanying the review
notes that she has also developed an active career as a speaker.
Viking Penguin, which has more Baumbich books under contract,
is planning a 12-city tour to promote the new book.
Chicago History Captured by Cameras
SMA members Neal Samors and Michael Williams along with
Richard Cahan are co-authors of Real Chicago: Photographs from
the Files of the Chicago Sun-Times available Oct. 4 (Chicago
With 264 pages, it contains more than 280 duotone photos dating
back to 1940.
The introduction by Roger Ebert distinguishes between the ephemeral
images on TV and a photo that says, "this happened, and the light
that fell upon it was captured by photographers who put themselves
in the ways of trouble or good fortune to show that it happened."
Recent New Members
Ellen Kort, of Appleton, is poet laureate of Wisconsin.
She has written 11 books, including seven volumes of poetry. Winner
of numerous awards, she has traveled internationally as poet,
speaker and workshop facilitator, and appeared on National Public
Her work has been architecturally incorporated in several Wisconsin
public buildings and performed by the New York City Dance Theater.
She is known also for carrying glow-in-the-dark chalk in her car
for writing poems on sidewalks.
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