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About the SMA

When fifty writers formed the Society of Midland Authors on April 24, 1915, their objectives included "a closer association among the writers of the Middle West" and "the stimulation of creative literary effort." A century later, the Society still accomplishes those goals — hosting literary events, honoring the region's best books with annual awards, and connecting its members with a newsletter, Twitter and other channels.

The Society hosts literary events, which are free and open to the public. See our events page for details of upcoming programs. Chicago Public Radio's audio recordings of our programs, including author lectures and panel discussions, can be heard at

The Society's founding authors included Clarence Darrow, Harriet Monroe, Hamlin Garland, Edna Ferber, Vachel Lindsay, George Ade, Mary Hastings Bradley, Emerson Hough, Howard Vincent O'Brien, James Whitcomb Riley and William Allen White. Others who joined soon afterward were Jane Addams, Ring Lardner, Edgar Lee Masters, John T. McCutcheon and Lorado Taft.

Crediting John M. Stahl with sparking the idea of an authors organization, the Society's first president, Hobart Chatfield-Taylor, wrote: "None but a bold man would have sought to weld such individualistic — dare I say egotistic? — creatures as authors into a society of any sort."

Based in Chicago, the Society includes published authors from twelve states: Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, Nebraska, North Dakota, Ohio, South Dakota and Wisconsin.

Since 1957, the Society has presented annual awards for the best books written by Midwestern authors. Notable winners of the juried competition have included Saul Bellow, Kurt Vonnegut, Studs Terkel, Gwendolyn Brooks, Mike Royko, Jane Smiley, Dempsey Travis, Leon Forrest, William Maxwell, Louise Erdrich, Scott Turow, Alex Kotlowitz, Aleksandar Hemon, Stuart Dybek, Roger Ebert and many more.

The award categories are Adult Fiction, Adult Nonfiction, Biography, Children's Fiction, Children's Nonfiction and Poetry.

See for full list of past winners and runners-up. Also watch this website near the end of each year for details on how to enter the contest.

This website features information on the Society's public events and annual awards. The website promotes new book by Society members. Member authors are featured in a speakers bureau on the site.

The Society is also on Facebook at

And follow us on Twitter at @midlandauthors and @BiblioFileSMA for news on Midwestern authors and links to articles on writing and publishing.

Members must be current or former residents of the twelve Midland states. Each member is the author or co-author of a book demonstrating literary style and published by a recognized publisher, or the author of a published or professionally produced play. The Society also includes associate members — people with a connection to literature, such as librarians, teachers, publishers and editors.

To join, a writer must be nominated by a current Society member. Authors interested in joining may contact the Society through the form and email addresses at

Members receive a subscription to Literary License — a newsletter packed with news about the latest books and activities by the Society's authors — as well as a yearbook including addresses and contact information for fellow members.

The Society, a nonprofit corporation run completely by the volunteer efforts of its members, welcomes contributions to help support our awards program and other activities. Contributions are tax-deductible.

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SMA programs and events recorded by Chicago Public Radio's Chicago Amplified

The banner for this web site was created from a photograph of Preston Bradley Hall, Chicago Cultural Center, formerly the main branch of the Chicago Public Library.

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Free and open to the public
Tuesday, March 14, 2017
Reception at 6 p.m.; presentation at 6:45 p.m.
Cliff Dwellers, 200 S. Michigan, 22nd floor penthouse, Chicago

Writing the Next Chapter
3 novelists talk about writing as a second career

Three local authors—a mystery writer, a writer of literary fiction, and a young adult novelist—who launched second careers as novelists discuss how they made the leap and landed on their feet in the tangled world of traditional publishing. Each began from a different starting point and followed a different path to publication. In this lively presentation they will share stories of success, struggle and surprise.

- Patricia Skalka, a former Reader's Digest writer, freelancer and ghost writer, wrote the Dave Cubiak Door County Mysteries, including Death in Cold Water.

- Lynn Sloan was a fine arts photographer, short story writer and professor at Columbia College before she wrote her debut novel, Principles of Navigation.

- Joyce Burns Zeiss, a former junior high English teacher and adjunct professor at Trinity International University, used her experiences volunteering with refugees as the basis for her novel, Out of the Dragon's Mouth.

For more information, contact Greg Borzo: (312) 636-8968;

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