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
Officers and Board Author Members Associate Members
Literary License Newsletter heading

December 1997

How to Be Your Own Publisher
The January SMA meeting will feature a symposium on self-publishing with writers Ray Hanania, Lowell Komie and Mary Edsey. All three authors have enjoyed great success with their self-published volumes. Hanania is author of "I'm Glad I Look Like a Terrorist: Growing Up Arab in America." Komie, an attorney, is author of "The Last Jewish Shortstop in America." Edsey has authored a pictoral essay on Chicago's best Christmas decorations that has sold 11,000 copies.

When: 5:30 p.m., Tuesday, Jan. 13, 1998
Where: Cliff Dwellers Club 22nd floor, Borg-Warner Building, 200 S. Michigan Ave., Chicago
Reservations: 312/922-8080. Please call by Jan. 12. Hors d'oeuvres, reception and presentation, $12. Public invited.

Whatever sweetness and light surround the awarding of prizes at the SMA annual awards dinner will be leavened by the appearance of James Finn Garner as guest speaker. The dinner will be held at the Cliff Dwellers Club on Tuesday, May 19. Garner, an SMA member, is the immensely funny author of Politically Correct Bedtime Stories, Politically Correct Holiday Stories, Once Upon a More Enlightened Time and more recently, Apocalypse Wow!, an irreverent look at the end of the world.

Reportedly, his "politically correct" fairy tales each sold about 1.5 million copies. In any event, Garner once confessed to a member that, while his books had not yet made him "filthy rich," he was "smudgy rich."

Rich Lindberg, SMA vice president and program chairman, says Garner's stories "will make a greatly entertaining capoff to a fine evening when the time comes."

See box for January program details. Other programs scheduled on second Tuesdays at the Cliff Dwellers Club:

Feb. 10. SMA board member Stuart Meck will conduct a program on "City Planning and Urban Sprawl."
March 10: Liane Casten, SMA board member and chairman of Chicago Media Watch, will host a program on the gridlock in publishing. The title of her presentation will be "Money versus Creativity."
April 14. Chicago author and publisher Kenan Heise will discuss his new book and his experiences as an independent publisher and proprietor of the Chicago Historical Bookworks Store. NOTE: We try to update our calendar of events as new events are scheduled or confirmed. Please double check with Bob or Marc at the Cliff Dweller's Club (312/922-8080) or E-mail Rich Lindberg for program information (

Writing a novel in the attic of Ernest Hemingway's boyhood house in Oak Park was spooky, reported William Elliott Hazelgrove at the SMA November meeting in the Cliff Dwellers Club. "I felt like an intruder," he said. One result was that he dropped the novel he had begun working on and started a new one, titled, not surprisingly, Hemingway's Attic. It was inspired by Hazelgrove's coming across a trunk that had belonged to Hemingway's sister. Hazelgrove's association with the Hemingway house began a year ago when he went for a walk after finding it difficult to write at home.

Other authors can sympathize. The new baby was fussing. The cat was stomping around in combat boots. Passing the Hemingway house, he went in and was given a tour, during which he opened a door and discovered the stairs to the attic. He negotiated permission to work there with the Hemingway Foundation. The agreement has generated publicity bringing more contributions to the Foundation and more attention to Hazelgrove's other novels, Ripples and Tobacco Sticks. The latter is being made into a TV movie. Bantam Books will publish Mica Highways next fall. Although having a writer work in the attic began as a whim, Jennifer Wheeler, executive director of the Foundation told the New York Times: "If we sat down and figured out what was the best fund-raising strategy we could come up with, I doubt we could have come up with this."

The SMA board has been struggling over ways to increase attendance at our monthly meetings. The programs have been entertaining. William Elliott Hazelgrove, for example, was as charming and amusing as a speaker can be. The New York Times gave half a page to an interview with him that consisted largely of what SMA members had heard a couple of weeks before.

The attendance problem seems to be caused by late afternoon traffic that makes getting to the Cliff Dwellers Club by 5:30 on Tuesdays a nightmare for members trying to come in from the suburbs. Yet, a central location with public transportation seems essential because members are widely dispersed. Here are some other options that have been discussed:
Later meeting time with dinner on a weekday. Saturday night dinner meeting.

Interest has also been expressed by certain members in scheduling Saturday morning breakfasts in the northwest suburbs, just to be social, no speakers. If you have opinions on any of these matters, please contact Jim Schwab, SMA president, 773/384-4754; Fax 312/431-9985; E-mail

An increasing number of SMA members are putting their resumes on the SMA Website, listing the titles of their books, their writing interests and other information that would be of interest to publishers, agents, book reviewers and others in the book trade.

For information on how to do this, contact the SMA Webmaster, Ray Hanania, 15139 S. Windsor Dr., Orland Park, IL 60462. Phone/fax 708/403-3380. E-mail:

Far Flung Member
Melanie Pflaum writes from her home in Spain that she is still going strong after 50 years as an SMA member, despite having accidentally been dropped from the 1997 membership roster (along with a few other members, whose names are still surfacing). Apologies were made. SMA lacks a full-time executive secretary cracking the whip and running a super efficient office. Instead, we have a small corps of volunteers who pass the jobs around and try to get them done while attending to our own writing too.

Melanie Pflaum is the author of 14 published novels, including a British Book Society Choice, plus more than 25 short stories and articles in leading magazines. For the record, her address is:

Melanie L. Pflaum
El Tosalet
Calle Naranjo, 22
03739 Javea (Alicante)

Special Poem
Gwendolyn Brooks, poet laureate of Illinois, wrote a special poem in honor of the First, Lady for the dedication of the Hillary Rodham Clinton Women's Park in Chicago. It was read by her daughter, Norma Brooks Blakely.

"Vivid Characters"
Barbara D'Amato has another new book out already. Good Cop, Bad Cop (Forge) is a "gripping, streetwise novel," said Publishers Weekly, with vividly realized characters and realistic moral dilemmas.

Brings History to Life
"Where People of the Past Bring History to Life" is the theme of Richard Frisbie's 23rd combination appointment book and book-book. The 1998 edition tells the stories behind leading living history museums, from the Fortress of Louisbourg in Nova Scotia to El Rancho de las Golondrinas in New Mexico. Frisbie, former editor of Chicago magazine, also has been listed in the first edition of Who's Who in the Media and Communications 1998-99.

Second Novel Based in Italy
Scribner will publish Robert Hellenga's new novel in June. It begins with the death of an American girl in a terrorist bombing in Italy. Hellenga's first novel, The Sixteen Pleasures, which won an SMA fiction award, also was set in Italy.

Our Man in China
Stuart Meck recently traveled to China with a group from the American Planning Association. We received the following report from Beijing by E-mail:

"I'm in my hotel room with a planner from the State Land Administration, Luo Ming, and we are surfing the Internet. Who better to contact than all of you? "Today I visited the Great Wall with our group, bought souvenirs I probably paid too much for (by local standards), had a banquet lunch that included turtle soup (with the turtle floating in it), and generally had a great time. "We've visited two cities, Shanghai and Jinan, and traveled around the Chinese countryside being briefed by provincial and local planners. Our conference begins tomorrow here at the hotel. Some very good papers were prepared. "Much emphasis on preserving agricultural land here. Small plots that would ordinarily not be farmed are intensively cultivated. "Oh yes, I ate stir-fried dog the other day and, I hate to admit it, but it wasn't bad. (Is that politically incorrect?) There don't seem to be any free-roaming dogs here in China.

Video Airs in Chicago
Susan Sussman reports that the children's video she wrote and produced, "There's No Such Thing as a Chanukah Bush,

Sandy Goldstein," has been invited into the Boston and Palm Beach Jewish Film Festivals. It was to be shown on Channel 11/WTTW, Chicago, on Dec. 24 and 25. It will be aired also by public television in New York and Seattle.

"Supergranny" Real Granny
Beverly Van Hook writes: "We miss our Chicago apartment, but it was great to be in Virginia when our first grandchild arrived. I'm a real granny at last!" She's the author of the Supergranny series of mysteries for children. Besides working on her second adult mystery, she's participating in a traveling exhibit created by the Youth Museum of Southern West Virginia, her original home state.

Great Lakes Adventures
Voices from the Sweetwater Seas: A Great Lakes Anthology (Action Research Institute) is Bill Keefe's new book, just out. It's based on interviews with 33 subjects whose stories range from fighting Lake Superior storms to retracing the 1673 voyage of Marquette and Jolliet in a canoe built by the paddler. Keefe, of New Buffalo, Mich., has written more than 20 books.

Two at a Time
Laurie Lawlor has two new books out: Addie's Forever Friend (Albert Whitman Company) and The Biggest Pest on Eighth Avenue (Holiday House). The Addie book is a prequel to other Addie stories by Lawlor set in the days of the pioneer West. "Gentle and heartwarming, and full of authentic detail," according to Kirkus Reviews. Her fictional "pest" was inspired by Lawlor's younger brother, who in real life engaged in theatrics like the character in the book and grew up to become the Broadway playwright David Thompson. "Spunky dialog," said Publishers Weekly.

Addresses Feature Editors
Jacquelyn Mitchard is a syndicated writer as well as a best-selling novelist. In her columnist role, she recently addressed the American Association of Sunday and Feature Editors in Washington, D.C. Feature pages in newspapers aren't just "fluff," she said. They "cover the topics that affect our lives on a daily basis."

Confessions of an Editor
Being editor of Poetry Magazine is something like being a priest in the confessional, Joseph Parisi told the Chicago Tribune. The historic magazine is deluged with predictable and tedious confessional-style verse. "Sometimes I want to say to them, `Oh, for God's sake why don't you go out and take a walk,'" Parisi said. The magazine publishes only about 350 poems a year out of 80,000 submitted. So publication in Poetry is a high honor for poets.

Not So Easy Rider
Gary Paulsen writes about his own life for the fourth time in Pilgrimage on a Steel Ride: A Memoir About Men and Motorcycles (Harcourt Brace). Among other adventures, he tells of riding 10,000 miles at age 57 from New Mexico to Alaska on his Harley-Davidson.

"Must Read" Biography
Continuing his work as "premier political historian" of Jacksonian America, Robert V. Remini has brought forth Daniel Webster: The Man and His Time (Norton). The Chicago Tribune review called the book a "must read" for "anyone who has an interest in antebellum America, or who ponders the effect of a single life on the development of a nation."

Reissued Book on TV
Richard Whittingham's book, Martial Justice: The Last Mass Execution in the United States, has just been reissued as a trade paperback by the Naval Institute Press. It was also the subject of a prime time documentary on the History Channel in November.

Marlene Targ Brill
As a new member, Brill introduces herself as requested with a list of her 1997 books: Women for Peace, Franklin Watts; Short Mort and the Big Bully, Association for the Care of Children's Health; Illinois and Indiana, both for Marshall Cavendish.

Leon Forrest
A former president of SMA, Leon Forrest, 60, died Nov. 6 of prostate cancer. The New York Times described him as a writer who "explored black history in his richly complex, epic novels." Publishers Weekly said he was acclaimed as a "writer of almost Joycean technique." He was also chairman of the department of African American Studies at Northwestern University.

Clara Spiegel
Co-author of four novels, Clara Spiegel died Oct. 20 in Sun Valley, Idaho. Her writing partner was Jane Mayer (SMA board member). One of their novels, Instruct My Sorrows, became a movie in 1946. At 92, Spiegel was still a sportswoman. As recently as two weeks before her death, she caught a 23-inch trout from her wheelchair.

Marguerite Henry
Author of the children's classic, Misty of Chincoteague, Marguerite Henry died Nov. 26 in Rancho Santa Fe, Calif. She was 95. Before moving west, she lived in the Chicago area and was active in SMA for many years. She finished her 59th book a few weeks before her death.

You can reach Luiterary License Editor Richard P. Frisbie at

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