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October 2000

President's Message
By Richard Lindberg
Greetings to our members, old and new, and welcome back toanother season of programs at the Cliff Dwellers Club, a most appropriate avenue for the venerable Society of Midland Authors. The name "Cliff Dwellers," as Finis Farr reminds us in his 1973 memoir of Chicago history, refers to the lofty location of its rooms, and not to the title of Henry Blake Fuller's novel. Hamlin Garland had a leading voice in the early management of the Cliff Dwellers, causing discomfort by his austere views on serving cocktails and wine. When more liberal governors got control, someone posted a sign in the lounge: THIS PLACE UNDER NEW MANAGEMENT! The austere views championed by the inimitable Mr. Garland no longer apply. A variety of soothing beverages will be served to members and guests at a new time, beginning with our first membership meeting of the year on Tuesday, Oct. 10. The Board of Directors has taken into account the rather lengthy commute times confronting members who reside or work in outlying areas of the city and suburbs. We have decided to start the cocktail hour at 6 p.m., with the speaker program to follow at 7 p.m. As always, the Society of Midland Authors will meet in the agreeable surroundings of the Cliff Dwellers Club the second Tuesday of each month, come rain or shine. Please make a note of the meeting dates for the 2000-2001 year on your calendar: Oct. 10, Nov. 14, Jan. 9, Feb. 13, March 13 and April 10, with the annual awards banquet to follow on May 8. We encourage members to join us for monthly board meetings, and share their ideas and suggestions with the officers and directors of the Society.

The location of the meetings will rotate among the homes of the Board members. To find out the date and location, please drop me an E-mail. My address is The Board is working hard to schedule interesting speakers whose background and experiences are relevant to the membership. We will kick off the new season Oct. 10 by welcoming Elizabeth Taylor, the esteemed Chicago Tribune Magazine and literary editor, who will discuss American Pharaoh, her recent biography of Richard J. Daley that has won critical acclaim. In November, we will host a panel of children's authors sharing their insights and views on industry trends in the realm of juvenile publishing. We will continue to explore new an innovative programs to benefit all of our members. We were pleased with the favorable response to our participation at the Printers Row Book Fair in June, and plan to make this event a yearly tradition. It is not too early to let us know if you would like to sell your books at our table next June, or volunteer for one of the readings held throughout the weekend. We have discussed partnering opportunities with the Chicago Board of Education, and the various suburban school systems whereby our authors could come out and talk to youngsters about the world of books and writing, the importance of the printed word, and what it means to be an author. Harry Mark Petrakis, our wonderful Banquet speaker, and the author of many fine novels and short stories, initiated such a program in Chicago back in the 1970s.

I hope that the Society of Midland Authors can become an active participant in this worthwhile endeavor. I would welcome the help of members who can help us expedite this process, or direct us through the proper channels. Again, please let me know if you would be willing to lend assistance. And finally, please take a moment to visit our web site. It's at Reacquaint yourself with the benefits of belonging to SMA, including a rundown of the annual awards program, the calendar of monthly meetings, our Barnes & Noble author appearance series and on-line bulletin board. Send us your biography and our dedicated Webmaster Ray Hanania will be happy to include it in the member profiles section.

I hope everyone had a safe and profitable summer, and I look forward to greeting our members at the Cliff Dweller's Club.

By Barbara Schaaf

Pass the Sangria
You say you're having trouble beating the summer slowdown? Can't kick the sand from your shoes? Shame on us -- and consider what 90-year-old Melanie Pflaum has been up to. Pflaum, one of our most far-flung members, writes from Spain that she is celebrating her 54th anniversary of SMA membership. During these fertile years, Pflaum wrote 14 novels, two of which won British Books Society awards; radio scripts for WLS and film scripts for Encyclopaedia Britannica; and articles for such publications as Vogue, American Mercury and The Independent Woman. She worked as a foreign correspondent for Scripps-Howard She taught English and creative writing at such institutions as Northwestern, InterAmerican University and Silliman University. During World War II, she was chief of the Iberian Division of the U.S. Board of Economic Warfare. She also served as a simultaneous translator at conferences in Puerto Rico. She still finds time to swim and walk every day, and pursues archeo logical studies at Roman, Moorish and Carthaginian sites around her home.

John Knoepfle's latest poetry collection, Prayer Against Famine and Other Irish Poems, will be brought out late next year by Salmon Publishing. Knoepfle, professor emeritus of poetry at the University of Illinois, was inspired by a trip to Ireland in search of his ancestors. His lack of success caused him to broaden the scope of this volume in order to explore human connections, taking him as far as Alaska.

At Bat Once More
Scott Carpenter, pitcher and sleuth, takes the field for the eighth time in Mark Richard Zubro's latest, One Dead Drag Queen. Carpenter and his sidekick, English teacher Tom Mason, are confronted with homophobia, anti-abortion terrorism, death threats and echoes from Bosnia. St. Martin's Press is the publisher.

Great Expectations
The Class of 2000 at Lake Forest College bestowed the title of "Great Teacher" on Michael H. Ebner, who addressed the honors convocation on "Splendid Living." Ebner, the A. B.Dick Professor of History, can add this latest to his collection of teaching laurels, which include the AHA's Roelke Award for Mentoring, and the Chicago Tribune's All Star Team of College Professors.

Think You Work for Cash?
Al Gini appeared at Barbara's Bookstore in Oak Park Aug. 31 to discuss his latest book about the cultural relationship to work. My Job, MySelf: Work and the Creation of the Modern Individual answers the questions of why and how we work, and what work means to the individual and national identity. Studs Terkel says it's "a thoughtful and provocative book on the daunting subject of work. He has a salubrious style, so it's funny, too."

Another Shade of Green
The media may be largely silent on the subject, but Liane Casten is not. In June, she spoke before Earth Save, an environmental group advocating healthy and safe eating, on the continuing "Dioxin Cover-Up." In July she talked on the dangers of bio-engineering in the food supply and milk at the Newberry Library.

Kids' Quartet
Kathleen Long Bostrom of Wildwood reports she has had four illustrated children's books accepted for publication. They are What is Prayer? and God Loves You Just as You Are, both from Tyndale House and Thank You, God! and Canticle to Creation from Westminster John Knox Press (Geneva Press).

News from the Volcano, Gladys Swan's seventh work of fiction, was published by the University of Missouri Press in August. Her essays, "The Descent into the Self: From Experience to Art," and "Politics and the Engaged Imagination: Cold War Fiction from Eastern Europe," together with a short story, "A Garden Amid Fires," and five poems will run in the Sewanee Review, while other stories have found a home in the Southwest Review and Manoa. And if you plan a trip to Guatemala next March, Swan will be teaching a fiction workshop in Antigua.

Book Party
Cynthia Gallaher invites all SMA members to her book release party on Wednesday, Oct. 18, at 7:30 p.m. in the Guild Complex at the Chopin Theater, 1543 Division (Ashland and Milwaukee), Chicago. Gallaher wants her colleagues' help in celebrating her third poetry collection, Earth Elegance, available in September from March/Abrazo Press. Her poems about animals and the environment are accompanied by eight scratchboard illustration plates by Comanche artist Lonnie Poco. The book was made possible by a CAAP grant from the Chicago Depart ment of Cultural Affairs.

For Boning Up on Zoning
Stuart Meck, SMA Membership Secretary, has coauthored a chapter on zoning and subdivision control in The Practice of Local Government Plan ning, 3rd edition, recently published by the International City/County Management Association. The book is the standard text on city planning in the U.S. Meck also authored an article, "The Legislative Requirement that Zoning and Land Use Controls Be Consistent With an Independently Adopted Local Comprehensive Plan: A Model Statute" appearing in a special symposium is sue of the Washington University Journal of Law and Policy. The issue honors Washington University law professor Daniel R. Mandelker.

Busy Poet
Rockford poet Christine Swanberg has been featured this year at the Montana Writers' Conference, the Northern Illinois Writers' Conference and by Poetswest, which included a reading at the Frye Museum in Seattle. Her poems are being published this year in Janes's Stories II ( a collection of Midwestern women writers from Wild Dove Press), Tambourine (a collection of nine women by In-Between Books of Sausalito) and Confluence: A Living Literary Legacy of the Rock River Valley (in which several of her poems were commissioned). In addition, she has been a featured reader at the Pelican Inn reading series (Muir Beach) and Wit's End Books (Seattle). She has individual poems forthcoming in Chiron and Knowing Stones: Poems of Exotic Places.

True Drama
Joanne Koch's play, Safe Harbor, which had its world premiere in April, will be presented at the Chicago Historical Society, Oct. 28 at 8 p.m. in honor of "Ohe Day" or Greek Resis tance Day. The holiday commemorates the day when the Greek prime minister said no (ohe) to Mussolini. Safe Harbor is based on the true story of one of the few families to survive in hiding during the Nazi occupation of Thessaloniki (Salonika) Greece. The play celebrates the heroism of Greeks who risked their lives to save Jews during the Holocaust. The special performance is co-sponsored by the Greek Orthodox Church and the American Jewish Committee. Admission is free. For information call Joanne at 847/864-5357. Henrietta Szold: Woman of Valorby Joanne Koch and Sarah Blacher Cohen will have a staged reading Nov. 13 at 8 p.m. at the Theatre Building, 1225 W. Belmont, Chicago, as part of the Writers' Bloc New Play Festival. Admission is a donation of $5. It depicts the remarkable life and work of Henrietta Szold (1860-1945), and the many men with whom she worked and fought, including Louis Brandeis, Chaim Weizmann, Louis Ginzberg and David Ben-Gurion. Founder of Hadassah, which established clinics and hospitals for both Arabs and Jews in Palestine, responsible for rescuing thousands of young people from Nazi German, Szold, despite her difficult personality, was considered the most outstanding Jewish woman of the first half of the 20th century.

Moving Books
Augie Aleksy will celebrate his 10thanniversary as an independent book seller on Nov. 10 with the grand opening of the new location of his Centuries & Sleuths Bookstore at 7419 W. Madison St. in Forest Park, Ill. The store, which will have moved from Oak Park by the time this issue appears, will continue to specialize in history, biography and mystery. The party will feature prizes, refreshments and author appearances.

Leading Workshops
Cris Mazza (fiction) and Martha Modena Vertreace (poetry) will conduct workshops Oct.14 and 15 at Women Writers Conference VI, Roosevelt University, Chicago. Mazza's ninth work of fiction will be published next spring. Winner of a number of awards, she's a professor at the University of Illinois at Chicago. Also an award winner, Vertreace is poet-in-residence and professor at Kennedy-King College, Chicago.

Conducting weekly workshops for the Guild Complex (773/296-1108, Ext. 18) are Jorjet Harper (essays and memoirs) and Reginald Gibbons (advanced poetry).

Accidental Anchor
With the commercial TV networks not paying much attention to this year's political conventions, Jim Lehrer starred as anchor man for complete coverage by PBS. Lehrer has enjoyed a paradoxical career as a print journalist and novelist who somehow became a TV icon. "I never, ever made a clean decision to do television," he told an interviewer. "It just kind of happened." While serving as city editor of the Dallas Times-Herald, he wrote a book, Viva Max that became a movie. This enabled him to quit his day job to write more books, but he agreed to help out the local PBS TV station parttime, and that led eventually to his spot as top PBS newscaster. Despite the demands of TV, he continues to write novels, a dozen so far, plus two nonfiction books.

Presidents on Parade
Robert V. Remini and Melvin G. Holli will be among the speakers at a conference on "The Modern Presidency: FDR to Clinton," Oct. 13 and 14 at the University of Illinois at Chicago. Remini is a National Book Award winner for his biography of Andrew Jackson. Holli, a professor at UIC, has chronicled the twists of big-city poltics in a number of books.

Perseverance Rewarded
Eugene Kennedy was one of the prominent Chicago writers interviewed by the Chicago Sun-Timeson the difficulties of keeping a successful literary career going. At 71, Kennedy has recovered from chronic fatigue syndrome and will have a new novel out in the fall, his first in 10 years. Something Sacred will be published by St. Martin's Press. He said, "Creative people immersed in their work are free of age and time and other conditions of temporality. "I'm still learning about writing."

Turow on Miranda
When the Supreme Court upheld the Miranda mandate, the Op-Ed page of the New York Times turned to Scott Turow for an eloquent essay explain ing why it is important that we still care about "minimal standards of decency in the government's treatment of citizens."

Love Story
With the launching of her fifth novel, Half a Heart, Rosellen Brown was featured in a Chicago Tribune Magazine interview, along with her husband, Marvin Hoffman, an educator and also a writer. (They met on a blind date and spent the evening tal2ing about literature.)

Cable Ready
Richard Lindberg recorded the Write Stuff show for Channel 49, talking about Chicago writing and urging viewers to check out the SMA website. He also has written the sports captions for the new display kiosks atop the Sears Tower explaining Chicago and its history for tourists.

Marty as Referee
Martin Marty reports on recent activities: "A few months ago I was privileged to chair the 96th (and first on religion in a half century) American Assembly, which drew 57 creatively contentious Americans who represented causes or constituencies or both, to produce Matters of Faith: Religion in American Public Life . "They tell me this was an almost unprecedented high-level deliberation on the turf of American elites of issues that trouble and sunder us. Yet the participants came to some impressive consensus, and issued a call for action. "You can have a free copy of the consequent booklet by asking for Matters of Faith from fax 212-870-3555 or "Second, issuing from the Public Religion Project, which completed its work last September, is a book by Martin F. Marty with Jonathan Moore, Politics, Religion and the Common Good: Advancing a Distinctly American Conversation About Religion's Role in Our Shared Life. "Finally a new CD, The Lutheran Chorale Paul Manz / Martin F. Marty. This records a hymn festival with Manz at the organ, Marty doing little bridge homilies, and the Valparaiso University Chorale singing.

Wild Stories
Donna Seaman, an editor at Book list, and frequent contributor to the Chicago Tribune and Ruminator Review, has compiled and introduced a short story anthology titled In Our Nature: Stories of Wildness (DK Ink). Diane Ackerman, of Natural History of the Senses fame, has written the foreword, and the contributors include Rick Bass, Percival Everett, Tess Gallagher, Linda Hogan, Barry Lopez, Lorrie Moore, Kent Meyers and Simon Ortiz. Advance notices include this comment by Kent Haruf, author of Plain song: "Donna Seaman is one of our most insightful readers. She's found the common natural link in these 14 stories and forces us to see them now--new and fresh--as she does."

Merit Badge for Counselor
Back in 1969, Jane Howard served as badge consultant for eight Girl Scout Cadettes who earned their Player/Producer badge by writing, producing and acting in Nellie's Fishy Fate, a one-act melodrama they created. Three years later, Jane submitted the script to Plays, the Drama Magazine for Young People, and there it was published. She gathered together the authors, by then in high school, to celebrate and split the flat fee royalty. Now she has received word from the publisher that they are bringing out a book entitled One-Act Mysteries and Melodramas that will include Nellie. So once again, Jane is contacting the co-authors, now grownup women in their 40s.

Book Finally Flies
David R. McLaren says he's "quite happy to announce that my 10th book, actually a monograph, will be published in time for Christmas by Ginter Publications. It's The North American Aviation PiF-51H Mustang. "This rather obscure version of the famous Mustang fighter has been my favorite airplane of all time, and it took me two decades to find a pub3isher willing to give it coverage. And, actually, the publisher contacted me about doing it for him. The moral, of course, is `hang in there.'"

Stop in on Starting Out
Patrick T. Reardon will star at a book-signing and reading party for his new book, Starting Out: Reflections for Young People (ACTA) Sept. 28 at the Mustard Seed Bookstore, 1142 W. Sheridan, Chicago. Reardon is a feature writer for the Chicago Tribune.

A Body Behind the Door
Janice Rosenberg has published her first mystery novel, A View to Die For. It's available in a high tech format as an electronic book published by Van Goach Books. The author and her husband own a home in Moab, Utah. She was inspired to write the novel while touring Moab real estate." What if a realtor showing a home opened the front door and found a dead body?" she asked herself. Having read dozens of mysteries, Rosenberg felt certain the answer to this question would launch her entry into the genre. Rosenberg lives in Chicago and works as a freelance writer. Her articles have appeared in such publications as Advertising Age, the Chicago Tribune, Family Circle, Bridal Guide, Delta Sky and American Medical News. Her essays were featured in two books, Reinventing Home and Reinventing Love. She also writes for Web sites, including and

James Mallon, retired executive from Forbes magazine, studied novel writing--and marketing--intently until he got his first novel published. Now as author--and promoter-- of his novel, Magazine, he has shared his experiences with cable TV viewers in the northwest suburbs of Chicago via the Library Cable Network. He's a resident of Arlington Heights. James L. Merriner of Sardis, Ohio, is author of Mr. Chairman: Power in Dan Rostenkowski's America and (with Thomas P. Senter) Against Long Odds: Citizens Who Challenge Congressional Incumbents. Carolyn Torma. Her books include Training Made Easy, Guide to Building Records in South Dakota(with David Erpestad) and Hopkinsville & Christian County Historic Sites (with Kenneth Turney Gibbs). She lives in Chicago.

Alice Hamilton Cromie died Aug. 11 at 86 in Libertyville, Ill. She wrote 11 travel books and mystery novels. She also wrote for magazines like Reader's Digest and Saturday Evening Post. She reviewed mystery novels for the Chicago Tribune, of which her late husband, Robert Cromie (also an SMA member) was long-time book editor.

The Society has received the following queries from researchers about former members of SMA. Ken Grant (professor, English Department University of WisconsinBaraboo/Sauk 1006 Connie Road, Baraboo, WI 53913. Phone: 608/356-8351 x226) is working on a biography of Wisconsin writer August Derleth. He asks:

1. When Derleth received the 1965 Kenneth F. Montgomery Poetry Award, was it for Country Places(1965), This Wound (1962), or some other work/s?

2. When was Derleth was invited to become a member?

3. Was he ever a dinner speaker? If so, when?

4. Are there any current members who knew Derleth (he was a board member) and might be able to provide some anecdotes?

Todd Uhlman (1706 Commonwealth Ave., Apt. C-9, Alexandria, VA 22301. Phone: 703/838-7657. E- mail: ) is an historian doing research on Daniel Crane Taylor. Taylor was also an historian, born in 1897, resident of Chicago, and member of the organization (both as of 1935). Uhlman has exhausted all of the normal biographical resources in an attempt to learn more about Taylor. Anybody have any documents in the attic?

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