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October 1997

If your publisher hasn't entered your 1997 book in the SMA awards competition, don't hesitate to do it yourself. Just photocopy the enclosed form and follow the instructions. Make copies also for any friends with 1997 books.

Ray Hanania, an experienced Web site designer, has taken over as Webmaster for SMA. In coming weeks, he will be adding such features as brief biographies of members, current and back issues of this newsletter and links to other useful Web sites. A political consultant and former Chicago Sun-Times writer, he is author of I'm Glad I Look Like a Terrorist: Growing Up Arab in America.

His address: 15139 S. Windsor Dr., Orland Park, IL 60462. Phone/fax: 708/403-3380. E-mail: Web: SMA Web site:

NOTE: SMA inadvertently failed to ask for E-mail address updates on this year's re-registration form. If you have added or changed an E-mail address since publication of the 1997 Yearbook, please mail it to our Membership Secretary: Phyllis Choyke, 23 Windsor Dr., Elmhurst, IL 60126.

Popular subjects for books haven't changed in 500 years, Penelope Mesic said at the Oct. 14 SMA meeting in the Cliff Dwellers Club. Even before the invention of printing, most manu- scripts on parchment dealt with religion, animals, how-to, travel or cooking. Those are still the subjects most in demand by the public.

Mesic, award-winning critic of books, film and theater, shared a panel on trends in publishing with Donna Seaman, an editor of the American Library Association Booklist who also conducts the Open Books program on WLUW radio. Mesic said it was unfortunate but true that reviewers tend to choose a book to review because they are already familiar with the author's previous works or because the subject is one they personally wish to know more about.

At Booklist, Seaman said, the challenge of the job is finding new writers, new ideas, new literary forms. Her magazine is published to help libraries make purchasing decisions. The staff pays special attention to first novelists, poetry and the work of small presses, not likely to be much reviewed elsewhere. Mesic cited the example of a really good book by a prize-winning poet that got only one review: the one Mesic wrote.

Seaman deplored fads. Some years ago environmental books were big. The best writers had their say early. Then the imitators flooded the market, with increasingly trivial material. The same thing is happening with books about Buddhism. She expects any minute to see something on the Buddhist approach to weight loss. Memoirs currently are coming on strong, Seaman said. When a memoir works, it can be better than a novel because it's true. Mesic said the most valuable books come from someone writing directly from what they know. Such books offer readers something to help them succeed in their own lives.

Looking for something to do with your spare time next April and May? Dorothy Haas is looking for a cohort to help handle reservations for our awards dinner in May. She points out that it's a pleasant way to meet people who come to the dinner.

More Success Following up the success of Famous Black Quotations, Janet Cheatham Bell has a new book titled, The Soul of Success: Great Business Quotations for African Americans (Wiley). It offers more than 800 inspirational thoughts from some of the world's most successful people. She is the author also of Victory of the Spirit.

Radio Militia
Merv Block has issued a revised and expanded version of his third guide for broadcast news writers. Writing Broadcast News Shorter, Sharper, Stronger (Bonus Books) contains tips like these:
Don't call anyone a chair. Or a couch. Don't talk about our troops unless the radio station maintains its own militia. Block has written for ABC, CBS and NBC network news, putting scripts in the hands of such well-known newscasters as Ed Bradley, Tom Brokaw, Walter Cronkite, Charles Kuralt, Charles Osgood, Dan Rather, Frank Reynolds, Diane Sawyer and Mike Wallace.

Life Worth Living
Debra Bruce's third book of poetry has just been published by the Miami University Press. What the Wind Will Do never stops trying to reconcile the unreliability of our lives with the certainty of what makes them worth living, says the publisher.

Author's Own Catalog
Dick Bueschel doesn't sit around waiting for publishers and bookstores to hustle his works. He has printed a new edition of the flyer he uses to sell his own books by mail from his house in Mt. Prospect, Ill. The mini-catalog lists 11 titles on World War II Japanese aircraft and 17 titles on various coin-operated mechanical amusements.

Radical Romp
At the eighth annual Midwest Radical Scholars & Activists Conference, Liane Casten will be among the speakers. The conference will be held Oct. 24 and 25 at Roosevelt University, Chicago.

Scout Lore
Report from Fern G. Brown: Daisy and the Girl Scouts, the Story of Juliette Low (her 1996 Albert Whitman Co. book), which was read and critiqued by the Girl Scouts of America, is now being sold through The Daisy Chain. This is a newsletter whose purpose is to preserve and share Girl Scout history. She does school programs about the book, sometimes with a woman who dresses as Juliette Low. Her latest book, American Indian Science, a New Look at Old Cultures, was just published by Twenty-First Century Books, a division of Henry Holt and Company, Inc. It received an excellent review from Booklist.

SMA at White House
Two long-time SMA members, Studs Terkel and Martin E. Marty, were among those honored at the White House in September by receiving a national humanities medal from President Clinton. Terkel, TV and radio personality and author of 11 books, said, If you hang around long enough, anything can happen.

Martin E. Marty, author of 50 books and 4,300 articles, was profiled in the Chicago Sun- Times as teacher, preacher, whirlwind. The New York Times called upon Marty, who is also a distinguished church historian at the University of Chicago Divinity School, to put the Promise Keepers movement in perspective.

In an Op-Ed piece, Marty suggested that some of the movement's critics may be a bit overwrought. He said the Promise Keepers have recognizable connections with the earlier religious movements for men that brought forth the YMCA and the Boy Scouts. As we watch the gathering and overhear the prayers and speeches, instead of seeing a threat we should listen for what is really bothering men.

Cop Scandals
Hard Bargain, the seventh in Barbara D'Amato's mystery series (Scribner), is edgy, surprising and spiced with rich characterizations, says Publishers Weekly. Her investigative reporter, Cat Marsala, looks into fictional scandals in the Chicago Police Department.

Publishing Awards
Marci Whitney-Schenck enjoyed the satisfaction of seeing her magazine, Christianity & the Arts, win two awards at the Associated Church Press conference in Chicago.

Talent Scout
The Chicago Tribune published a long interview updating a story from our previous issue and telling how an SMA member scouted new talent. While helping a Vietnamese immigrant learn English, Stella Pevsner decided her pupil was a natural storyteller.

Pevsner, herself an award-winning author of many children's books, encouraged Fay Tang to write the story of her experiences during the Vietnam War. Now Clarion Books has published the result: Sing for Your Father, Su Phan.

Hey, Oprah
Jacquelyn Mitchard, whose first book, The Deep End of the Ocean, was rocketed to best- sellerdom by Oprah Winfrey, has produced a second book. The Rest of Us: Dispatches from the Mother Ship (Viking) is a collection of her weekly columns in the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel. Entertaining and thought-provoking, said Publishers Weekly.

Children's Book Pow-wow
Valiska Gregory will be among the featured speakers at the Butler University Children's Literature Conference, Jan. 31, 1998, on the university's Indianapolis campus. Gregory, writer-in-residence at Butler, is also the conference director.

Home Run
Richard Lindberg, currently SMA vice president and program chairman, was honored as an outstanding graduate of Northeastern Illinois University. The most recent of his numerous books on local subjects is Chicago White Sox Encyclopedia.

Dogs Teach Tricks
Don't follow the pack, is one of the messages in Cris Mazza's new novel, Dog People (Coffee House). The dogs in the story help illuminate the human relationships through which, says Publishers Weekly, Mazza skillfully demonstrates that love is more than an instinctual drive. The book is both funny and alarming, said a front page review in the Chicago Tribune book section, which also ran a profile of Mazza. She teaches graduate writers at the University of Illinois at Chicago.

Quirky Gary Paulsen's new book, The Schernoff Discoveries (Delacorte), stands out from other school-based comedies, says Publishers Weekly, because of his joyfully unconventional thinking and quirky writing.

Presidential Proceedings
This item is something like the notes British papers used to publish on the comings and goings of the royal family. It details some of the current activities of SMA president Jim Schwab. He's a talking head in a new PBS documentary, The Forest Where We Live, just released by Louisiana Public Television. It's an hour-long report on the roles trees play in improving the urban climate. The Hollywood star Sam Waterston is the narrator.

On Oct. 30, Schwab delivers a presentation concerning state planning statutory reform at the North Dakota Planning Association's conference in Minot, N. D. Then on to Des Moines to speak Nov. 1 on The Changing Face of Religion: Its Impact on Church Buildings, Neigh- borhoods and Communities, sponsored by the Iowa Historic Preservation Alliance. The conference will take place in Stuart, Iowa, the home of All Saints Catholic Church, which burned down and is being rebuilt as a new megachurch on purchased farmland amid some controversy over the diocese's refusal to rebuild the old church at the old site in town.

Escape from Indiana
Hyperion is publishing Barbara Shoup's new book, Stranded in Harmony. Harmony, in the story, is a place in Indiana that a high school senior is anxious to leave as soon as possible.

Advantages of Black Press
David Driver, founder and publisher of the Noble Press, was one of the industry leaders interviewed by the Chicago Tribune for a trends story in association with Book Expo last summer. He said that although small black presses like his lack the money for national promotional tours and big press runs to fill up the bookstores, they do have some advantages over com- petition. Publishers without black editors tend to follow and duplicate. That makes it easier to keep our ears to the ground and discover new books and authors.

Expert Witness
Scott Turow put on his lawyer hat to appear as a commentator on CBS's 60 Minutes. The show revisited the notorious Nicarico murder case. Having worked on the appeal of one of the falsely accused defendants, Turow appeared as an expert witness. Turow is having a busy year, having suddenly been thrust into the presidency of the Authors Guild by the suicide of J. Anthony Lucas.

Launches Column
Margery Frisbie has begun writing a monthly column in the Arlington Heights edition of the Daily Herald. Her most recent book, Old Timers' Reunion: Reflecting on Early Days in Arlington Heights, has been selling well in local bookstores. One Arlington Heights bookstore reported that it is already their all-time bestseller.

Continues as Editor
Lynn Lawson continues as editor of the CanaryNews for MCS: Health & Environment, although she has resigned as the group's delegate to the National Coalition for the Chemically Injured. MCS stands for Multiple Chemical Sensitivities, which is the focus of the organization's efforts.

The View from Hemingway's Attic William Elliott Hazelgrove, author of Tobacco StickS, Ripples and other works, attracted considerable media attention for writing his third novel in Ernest Hemingway's attic at the famous author's home in Oak Park. Hazelgrove, an Oak Park resident, has just sold the film rights to Tobacco Sticks to a television production company., He will be talking about his adventures in the Hemingway attic and his career as a fiction writer.

When: 5:30 p.m., Tuesday, Nov. 11, 1997
Where: Cliff Dwellers Club 22nd floor, Borg-Warner Building, 200 S. Michigan Ave. Chicago
Reservations: Bob or Marc, 312/922-8080. Please call by Nov. 10. Hors d'oeuvres, reception and presentation, $12. Public invited.

Gail Brook Burket
A long-time member of SMA, Gail Brook Burket of Evanston, Ill., died April 6 at 91. Her works included six volumes of poetry, a book on how to write poetry and two best-selling books on manners. She was also a leader in a number of civic organizations.

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