Society of Midland Authors Logo
Home SMA Events Members' New Books Publicity Tips for Authors Speakers Bureau Notices & Member Events Donors & Grant Makers Contact Information Search this Site Join E-mail List
 Awards Contest:
About Winners
 Literary License:
Latest Issue Newsletter Index
 Members:
Officers and Board Author Members Associate Members
Literary License Newsletter heading
Editor: 

October 2003

Chicago in the Civil War
        Continuing this season's series featuring Chicago in Literature, the Nov. 11 program will focus on Chicago in the Civil War. The speaker will be Arnie Bernstein, author of The Hoofs and Guns of the Storm (a guide to Civil War Chicago) and other books.
        R. Craig Sautter, SMA president, will set the tone for the evening by reading a passage from a Chicago speech by Frederick Douglass.

        Where: Chicago Athletic Assn., 12 S. Michigan Ave., Chicago
        When
: 6 p.m. social hour, 7 p.m. program, Tuesday, Nov. 11

Reservations NOT needed. Public invited. Hors d'oeuvres, wine and soft drinks, reception and presentation: $10 for members, $15 for non-members. For information, call Matt Smolek at C.A.A. 312/236-7500, Ext. 2113.

Other Coming Events
        Jan. 13–Chicago Crime in Fact and Fiction.
        Feb. 19–Natural Chicago in Literature.
        March 9–Chicago Latino Literature.
        April 13–Chicago Political Books.
        May 11–Annual awards banquet at the Cliff Dwellers Club, 200 S. Michigan Ave.

Board Meetings

        Usually on the third Wednesday of each month: Oct. 22, Nov. 19, Dec. 17 (maybe), Jan. 21, Feb. 18, Mar. 17, Apr. 21, May 19.

NEW WEB SERVICE FOR MIDWESTERN AUTHORS
        The Society is pleased to announce a new monthly web service for its members and other Midwestern authors and writers. Web users can consult SMA's "PR Tip of the Month" feature, as well as participate in on-going PR questions and answers at www.midlandauthors.com. New PR tips will be posted at the beginning of each month.
        SMA member Tom Ciesielka, president of TC Public Relations, a Michigan Avenue PR firm in Chicago with over 15 years experience promoting authors and publishers, will write monthly PR tips for authors to help them publicize their new and old books.
        "Normally, it might cost an author more than $1,000 a week to hire a private agency to publicize a new book," said SMA president, R. Craig Sautter, author and co-author of eight books. "Now the Society of Midland Authors is helping Midwestern authors do some of that critical work themselves with specialized advice from a PR pro."
        In addition to the monthly PR tips page, SMA has designed a PR message board for members to ask Ciesielka specific questions about their own book PR. "The message board will allow authors to exchange ideas, experiences and strategies of their own and to learn from one another," added SMA web master Mary Claire Hersh. Ciesielka's advice will be published also in Literary License beginning below.
        
HOW TO PROMOTE YOUR BOOK DESPITE YOUR PUBLISHER'S LETHARGY
By Tom Ciesielka
TC Public Relations
        One thing is clear in the book industry: publishers never seem to do enough to promote their books. Authors need to accept that part of the working relationship with a publisher requires writers to take a proactive position in marketing their books. The secret to accomplishing this is to think about promoting your book long before it is released.
        Here are some tips to have a "marketing mind set" to increase what your publisher does to promote your book:
1. Ask for marketing plans prior to signing an agreement: Remember what you get in writing is often the only thing you can count on later. Ask the publisher for a marketing plan prior to completing the deal.
        What can you expect? It all depends on your book, what their marketing department has recommended and the ideas you have asked to be included in the plan.
2. Review the magazine list extra carefully: Since many magazine want to cover new books around the time of the release date, they need to get review copies as much as four months in advance. This is usually done with uncorrected proofs or galleys. However, your book may have some niche markets that the publisher's media relations department may not be aware of.
         If you know of unique publications for your book or know reporters or editors at magazine that are familiar with your work, make sure those magazines and people get a galley from the publisher.
3. Make yourself available at the most critical time: After sending out book galleys to magazines far in advance, the public relations department then focuses on radio and television interviews during the month the book is released and for about a month after that.
        Therefore, for the first two months after the release date, work to make your schedule as open as possible for interviews.
        Want to keep it going after that?        Ask the publisher for a list of media outlets that expressed interest but had not committed to coverage and offer to do the follow-up.
        Next month's tip: Finding the five reasons that your book deserves publicity. To find out more about public relations for book authors, please check out the SMA's message board at www.midlandauthors.com and pose a question to Tom Ciesielka or your fellow authors.

RECENT CONTRIBUTORS
        The Society is grateful to the following for their generosity.
        Carol Adorjan, Elaine Marie Alphin, James and Ann Barry, Charlene Ann Baumbich, James Bindere, Marlene Targ Brill, Phyllis Choyke, Jean Elshtain, Elizabeth Fama, Robert Follett, Carol Gartner, Jamie Gilson, Frank Gonzalez-Crussi, Louis Hullinger, Michael Craft (Johnson), Nathan Kantrowitz, Helen Lambin, Richard Lindberg, James Mallon, George McDaniel, Stuart Meck, Harriet Nye, Kenneth Paterson, Harry Mark Petrakis, Stella Pevsner, Frances Podulka, Carolyn S. Pratt, Mark Pulsifer, Diane Quantic, Jamila Ra, Robert Remer, Harriet G. Robinet, Alice Ryerson, James Schwab, Jane S. Smith, Sue Sussman, Elinor Swiger, Rita Turow, Scott Turow and Phyllis Whitney.


NOW YOU TELL ME
By Barbara Schaaf
        It's the best of times for those of us who are partial to books and events set in Chicago or about the city.

Navigating the South Side
        Publishers Weekly applauds Stuart Dybek's first work of fiction in ten years, saying I Sailed with Magellan (Farrar, Straus & Giroux) is composed of "lyrical odes to wasted lives, youthful desires, vanishing innocence and the transformative power of memory."
        This nonlinear novel tells the story of Perry Katzek, a young Polish-American and his adventures in the 1950s and '60s on Chicago's South Side, in the kind of neighborhood where "it seemed that almost every day someone lost teeth at one or another of the corner bars."

The Second City in One War
        Many Civil War buffs believe the period of the Civil War in Chicago has been neglected, but no more. Arnie Bernstein has filled the gap with The Hoofs and Guns of the Storm: Chicago's Civil War Connections (Lake Claremont Press).
        According to Geoffrey Ward, who co-wrote the PBS Civil War series and its companion volume, "Bernstein's lively look at the links between Chicago and the Civil War is a vivid reminder of how that titanic struggle over slavery and the meaning of freedom affected -- and continues to affect -- all Americans, living everywhere."
        Bernstein's opus combines history with a guidebook, and boasts a foreword by that most literary of politicians, Senator Paul Simon.

And Another
        Neal Samors and Michael Williams devote a chapter to World War II in their book, The Old Chicago Neighborhoods: Remembering Life in the 1940s.
        This volume is a must for Chicagoans who take pride in living in a city of neighborhoods, some of which continue to exist only in the fond memory of former residents. With an introduction by Alderman Ed Burke and essays by six prominent Chicagoans, this illustrated memoir is divided into five chapters, covering the neighborhood, the war years, daily life, sports and recreation, and entertainment.
        Samors and Williams rely on interviews with more than 125 Chicagoans drawn from all walks of life.

And in Relative Peace
        Rich Lindberg, peripatetic SMA past president, is probably coming soon to a venue near you, wearing his historian's hat. His slide presentation, "Touring Famous Crime Scenes of the Windy City," was given before the Midwest Chapter of the Mystery Writers of America and is scheduled for several other fall appearances.
        As historian of the White Sox, he was much in demand during the brief period when it looked as if Chicago might have a subway series, and was called upon to put the new Soldier Field in historical context.
        (The Mystery Writers reported that Lindberg "delivered his usual skillful presentation.")

On Another Plane
        Marilyn Chiat's new work, The Spiritual Traveller: Chicago and Illinois will be published by Hidden Springs imprint of the Paulist Press, next spring.

Maybe Next Year
        Novelist Patrick Murphy has postponed his fall retirement as Cook County's Public Guardian, perhaps for as long as a year. His replacement has not yet been named and he wants to see his current cases through to completion.

OTHER MEMBER NEWS Member News

"Straight from the Heart"        
        Paul McComas has been accumulating great reviews of his novel, Unplugged. A few examples follow.
        Readings from the book, accompanied by music, will be presented at 2 p.m. Saturday, Nov.1, in the Evanston (Ill.) Public Library.
        Chicago Tribune: "Chicago rocker Dayna Clay's high-stakes struggle with depression and abuse leads not to suicide but to a journey of self- discovery. A tale of healing and hope, Unplugged is getting the word out that there is help in the fight against depression."
        Christian Century: "McComas chronicles depression without depressing the reader, and he shows a deep understanding of the way alienated young adults can feel marginalized by the church and far from God. . . .Dayna Clay's journey to recovery and faith is absorbing, and her growing ability to confront and deal with her illness is admirable. Learning to trust and accept both her strengths and her weaknesses, she returns from the wilderness -- literally and figuratively – ready to embrace life again."
        Pioneer Press: Paul McComas writes as all good fiction writers should: straight from the heart. His prose navigates the dark crevices of clinical depression as deftly as his heroine masters her newly chosen terrain. Inspired by a personal battle, the author transforms his own experiences into a work of fiction that provides hope for anyone who has been affected by depression."

Talk of Four Towns
        Stephen Bloom's book, Postville: A Clash of Cultures in Heartland America (Harcourt: 2000), named a Best Book of the Year by the Chicago Tribune, Chicago Sun-Times, Denver Rocky Mountain News, St. Louis Post-Dispatch and MS-NBC, has been chosen as the book Quad Cities residents are asked to read and discuss at community-wide forums, Oct.9 - 11.         As part of the event, the Quad Cities will also produce an original play written by Bloom and Brian Cronk, an editor at the Wall Street Journal, titled Shoedog.
        The play, about working in a shoe store, will debut in an converted department store in Rock Island, Ill., Nov. 14, 15 and 16.

History Mystery
        Kathleen Ernst reports that her second juvenile mystery, Whistler in the Dark, will receive a Silver WILLA Literary Award, Finalist in the Children's/Young Adult Category this month at the Women Writing the West Conference in Tucson.
        Whistler in the Dark was also nominated for an Agatha Award in May from Malice Domestic. This book is her second History Mystery from Pleasant Company.
        The plot involves a girl and her mother who publish a newspaper in 1867 Colorado Territory, and reflects the social and professional challenges and opportunities non-native women found on the advancing frontier.

Two Books of Poems
        Richard Hague, a teacher at Purcell Marian High School in Cincinnati and winner of three Ohio Arts Council Individual Artist Fellowships in poetry and creative nonfiction, has two new books of poems forthcoming in the next months.
Hague's Alive In Hard Country will be published in November by Bottom Dog Press as part of their Working Lives Series.
        Most of the poems are set in Appalachian Ohio; many deal with so-called "rust-belt" issues: the abandonment of factory workers, the erosion of company-town economies, environmental and psychological effects of industrialism, and the landscape of Appalachian Ohio itself.
        The Time It Takes Light, poems Hague wrote about physics on a grant from the Washington, D.C., Council For Basic Education, will appear in January from Word Press, which published Hague's collection, Garden, in 2002.
        Poems in this book include several that were First Honorable Mention and Finalist in the Pablo Neruda Poetry Prize competitions during the 1990s.

Focus on Forgiveness
        Charlotte Herman's new children's book, The Memory Cupboard: A Thanksgiving Story, has just been published by Albert Whitman.
        Publishers Weekly summarized: "When Katie breaks the gravy boat (a childhood gift from Katie's mother to her grandmother) while clearing the Thanksgiving table, her grandmother shows Katie a 'memory cupboard' crammed with other meaningful broken objects."
        Herman's message "focuses on forgiveness–stressing that people matter more than things."
                
New Musical
        American Klezmer, a new musical by Joanne Koch and Sarah Cohen, with music by Ilya Levinson and lyrics by Owen Kalt, will be staged at 7:30 p.m., Monday, Oct.13, in Theatre Building Chicago, 1229 W. Belmont.
        This performance, featuring members of the Maxwell Street Klezmer Band, is a benefit for the Chicago Writers' Bloc.
         Koch has received an artist's grant from the Evanston Arts Council to present her acclaimed play, Safe Harbor, based on the true story of a family hidden in Greece during World War 11.
        Free dress rehearsal at 7:30 p.m., Wednesday, Oct.22, at National-Louis University in Evanston. Performance with music at 3:30 p.m. Sunday, Oct. 26, at Beth Emet Synagogue, 1224 Dempster St., Evanston.

Pandering Culture
        Paul Simon, former U.S. senator and author of a score of books, has a new one coming out in October from Southern Illinois University Press.
        Our Culture of Pandering complains that the media, religious leaders and educators have, "individually and collectively, abandoned their responsibility to lead."
        Publishers Weekly summarizes: "In place of a commitment to do what is best for America, even if it means proposing unpopular policies, leaders in each of these fields have substituted a commitment to tell their constituencies, particularly those with money and power, what they want to hear, in a way they want to hear it.
        "More novel and more interesting are his comments about how religious leaders have failed to provide meaningful spiritual guidance. Simon argues that religious leaders pander to their congregations by asking them only for capital contributions rather than for the sacrifices he feels define the Judeo-Christian ethic, mainly to provide assistance for the poor and the less fortunate."

Vote of Confidence
        Putnam has ordered a first printing of 175,000 for Sara Paretsky's latest, Blacklist: A V.I. Warshawski Novel.
        "With this topnotch offering, she earns another vote of confidence," says Publishers Weekly.
        The story line involves the mysterious death of a young African-American more than a generation ago – a case connected to the blacklist of anti-Communist witch-hunters -- and the perils of a contemporary Arab student.
        "Paretsky reminds us that although victims change, prejudice is still alive and all too well."
        The Chicago Sun-Times review said, "Because she is still one of the very best drivers of narrative engines in the business, Paretsky has also produced a genuinely exciting and disturbing thriller, a raging vehicle that can carry a load of baggage from 1950s blacklisting to present-day terrorist hysteria without missing a beat."

Snapshot of Old Chicago
        Along with telling the story of one of the most sensational murder trials in history, Robert Loerzel "captures a snapshot of Chicago at the end of the 19th century, a place of ambitious immigrants, stunning growth and journalistic exuberance," says the Chicago Sun-Times review of his book, Alchemy of Bones: Chicago's Luetgert Murder Case of 1897.
        "Loerzel, an associate editor at the suburban Pioneer Press chain, keeps the narrative flowing smoothly while filling the book with interesting nuggets"–such as the scene when reporters secretly lowered a man down a ventilation shaft in the old Criminal Courts building to eavesdrop on the jury.
        Luetgert was a sausage maker. After his wife, Louise, disappeared, he was convicted of her murder although no body was ever found,
        Loerzel debunks myths surrounding the case, including the fear that Louise wound up in the sausages.
        Nevertheless, suspicion at the time drove down sausage sales nationwide.
        The Associated Press wrote, "Imagine a murder case without a corpse, but with a hulking, mustachioed German butcher as its presumed villain. Set it in a shuttered sausage factory at midnight, then add boiling lye vats, some highly questionable police work and a possibly insane defense attorney. You've got quite a story, particularly if you factor in the panting
news hounds of 1890s 'yellow journalism.'''
        
Award for Death Row Stories
        Maurice Possley and his Chicago Tribune colleague, Steve Mills, have won an award for their stories that led to pardons of wrongly accused inmates on Illinois' death row.
        They were selected for Colby College's Lovejoy Award. by a committee of newspaper editors.
        The award, which will be presented for the 51st year on Oct. 15 at the Waterville, Ill., campus, is named for Elijah Parish Lovejoy. The Colby graduate was killed while defending his abolitionist newspaper in Alton, Ill., from an angry mob in 1837.

Prairie Celebrated        
        Diane D. Quantic is co-editor with P. Jane Hafen of A Great Plains Reader, published by the University of Nebraska Press.
        "In this volume the stories, poems, and essays that have described, celebrated and defined the region evoke the world of the American prairie from the first recorded days of Native history to the realities of life on a present-day reservation, from the arrival of European explorers to the experience of early settlers, from the splendor of the vast and rolling grasslands to the devastation of the Dust Bowl.
        "Several essays look to the future and explore changes that could enable people to continue to live in this place they have learned to value in spite of its persistent challenges.
        "The infinite variety of the Great Plains landscape and its people unfolds in works by writers as diverse as WiIla Cather, Loren Eiseley. Louise Erdrich (Ojibwa), Diane Glancy (Cherokee). Langston Hughes. Wes Jackson, Garrison Keillor, William Least Heat-Moon, Kathleen Norris, Wright Morris, Francis Parkman, O.E. Rolvaag, Mari Sandoz, William Stafford, Mark Twain, Douglas Unger. James Welch (Blackfeet) and Canadians Sharon Butala and Sinclair Ross."
        Quantic is an associate professor of English and the coordinator of Great Plains studies at Wichita State University. She is the author of The Nature of the Place: A Study of Great Plains Fiction.
        
Writing for Translations
        Gerry and Janet Souter received commissions in September for two coffee table monographs on the artists Georgia O'Keeffe and Frida Kahlo from Parkstone Press in Paris.
        To be translated into French, German and English, the project fits right into the Souters' world travels and their education at the School of the Chicago Art Institute.
        "With multi-lingual books, you have to watch your colloquial slang and references that don't translate in Berlin or Paris," says Gerry.
        "I used to write audio track scripts for international multimedia presentations and videos to be translated into Spanish, Mandarin, Farsi and Urdu among others. I learned quickly what worked and what didn't."
        They must deliver 25,000 words for each book by November 15.
        The Souters' fourth book in their Internet Library series for Enslow Publishers was released this month. It is titled Creating E-Reports and On-line Presentations
        Their daughter, Allison, shares their author credit for this series. She owns a computer graphics studio in St. Augustine, Fla.

Miniseries on the Way
        Scott Turow's book Reversible Errors is being filmed as a miniseries in Nova Scotia.
        The cast will include Emmy and Golden Globe award-winning actor Tom Selleck , most recently seen in 12 Mile Road.
        
Selleck starred in the TV series Magnum P.I., which ran for eight years on CBS in the 1980s.
        Turow will receive the Chicago Tribune Heartland Prize for this book at a ceremony at Symphony Center on Sunday, Nov. 2, as part of the Chicago Humanities Festival.

Wills on Jefferson
        Also part of the Festival will be a presentation by Garry Wills based on his most recent book: "Negro President": Thomas Jefferson and Slave Power.
        
Sunday, Nov. 1, at Northwestern University School of Law.

Chicago Then and Now
        James L. Merriner has two books about to be published.
        Due in March from Southern Illinois University Press is Grafters and Goo Goos: Corruption and Reform in Chicago, 1833-2003.
        
Coming in December is a centennial history of the City Club of Chicago, a notable nonpartisan civic institution.
        Chicago's reputation for corruption is a basis of local and even national folklore and humor. Grafters and Goo Goos: Corruption and Reform in Chicago, 1833-2002 unfolds the city's notorious history of corruption and the countervailing reform struggles that largely failed to clean it up, according to the publisher.
        " More than a regional history of crime in politics, former Chicago political journalist Merriner's wide-ranging account of governmental malfeasance traces ongoing public corruption and reform to its 19th-century democratic roots and reveals the battles between corrupt politicos and ardent reformers to be expressions of conflicting class, ethnic and religious values.
        "From Chicago's earliest years in the 1830s, the city welcomed dollar-chasing businessmen and politicians, swiftly followed by reformers who strived to clean up the attendant corruption.
        "Reformers in Chicago were called 'goo goos,' a derisive epithet short for good-government types. Grafters and Goo Goos contends a certain synergy defined the relationship between corruption and reform. Politicians and reformers often behaved similarly, their separate ambitions merging into a conjoined politics of interdependency wherein the line between heroes and villains grew increasingly faint.
        "The real story, asserts Merriner, has less to do with right against wrong than it does with the ways the cultural backgrounds of politicians and reformers steered their own agendas, animating and defining each other by their opposition."
        Merriner covered Chicago and national politics for more than two decades as political editor of the Chicago Sun-Times and the Atlanta Constitution. He is also the author of Mr. Chairman: Power in Dan Rostenkowski's America and co-author of Against Long Odds: Citizens Who Challenge Congressional Incumbents.

Uptown Goes South of Border
        Carol Carlson's Uptown Theatre and Center for the Arts is taking a show on the road, presenting the Ballet Gran Folklórico de Mexico not in the theater but at St. Scholastica Academy, 7416 N. Ridge Blvd., Chicago.
        The performance will be at 8 p.m., Saturday, Oct. 18.

        
RECENT NEW MEMBERS

By Tom Frisbie
        Leone Castell Anderson is a children's book author who lives in Stockton, Ill. Among her books are Sean's War (Shadowplay Press, 1998); How Come You're So Shy? (Golden Book; Western Pub. Co.); The Good-by Day (Golden Book; Western Pub Co); Surprise at Muddy Creek (Scripture Pr. Pubns., 1984) and others.

        Hilary Mac Austin is co-editor with Kathleen Thompson of The Face of Our Past: Images of Black Women from Colonial America to the Present. She was the photo researcher for A Shining Thread of Hope: The History of Black Women in America by Kathleen Thompson and Darlene Clark Hine (Broadway Books, 1996); the American Jewish Desk Reference (Random House, 1999); the American Irish Desk Reference and Jewish Women in America: an Historical Encyclopedia (Routledge, 1998).

        Kathleen A. Ernst is an educator and historian, a national award-winning project director/scriptwriter of childrens' instructional TV series and an author of books for young readers and adults. Among her books are Whistler in the Dark; Ghosts of Vicksburg; Retreat From Gettysburg; Trouble At Fort La Pointe; The Bravest Girl in Sharpsburg; The Night Riders of Harpers Ferry (White Mane Publishing Co., 1996) and Too Afraid to Cry: Maryland Civilians in the Antietam Campaign (Stackpole Books, 1999 (co-author with Ted Alexander)).         She is a WILLA Literary Award Finalist for 2003 for Children's/Young Adult Books. She lives in Middleton, Wis.
        An award-winning author and playwright, Catherine Kenney has published two books as well as numerous articles, and has seen her plays through successful productions on both sides of the Atlantic.
         Her professional memberships include the Dramatists Guild of America and Chicago Dramatists.
        She is founder and executive director of the Pickwick Theater Council in Park Ridge, and she also works with the League of Historic American Theatres, the League of Chicago Theatres, and the Arts & Business Council of Chicago, as well as in cooperative ventures with numerous arts, business, and educational organizations.
        She is author of The Remarkable Case of Dorothy L. Sayers (Kent State, 1990) and Thurber's Anatomy of Confusion (Archon, 1984)

        Dan P. McAdams is a professor of human development and psychology at Northwestern University and author of the upcoming book The Redemptive Self. He is a personality and life-span developmental psychologist who teaches courses in personality theory and research; theories of human development and aging; and the narrative study of lives.
        Among his other books are The Stories We Live By: Personal Myths and the Making of the Self (Guildford Press, 1997); Person: An Introduction to Personality Psychology (International Thomson Publishing, 1990); and Intimacy: The Need to Be Close (Doubleday, 1989).
        
        Neal Samors and Michael F. Williams are co-authors of The Old Chicago Neighborhood: Remembering Life in 1940s and Neighborhoods within Neighborhoods: Twentieth Century Life on Chicago's Far North Side. (See description on Page 2 of this issue.)
        Samors also is author of Chicago's Far North Side (Chicago Historical BookWorks, 2000).
        Williams is president of the Rogers Park/West Ridge Historical Society.


newsletter index
top of page
Copyright 2000 Society of Midland Authors. All rights reserved