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March 1998

Members of SMA are gradually learning to take advantage of our site on the World Wide Web. Some are simply posting their résumés. Others are including samples of their writing. What to include is up to you. If you happen to have your own home page already, SMA can furnish a link that allows viewers to switch from our home page to yours with a click of the mouse. To participate, all you have to do is send a floppy disk or an E-mail file containing your data to the SMA Webmaster, Ray Hanania, 15139 S. Windsor Dr., Orland Park, IL 60462.

E-mail: The SMA Website is at

By Richard C. Lindberg
Mary Edsey, Lowell Komie and Ray Hanania have all enjoyed varying degrees of success as self-publishers, but our January guest speakers are in agreement that prospective authors should know that there are risks involved, and the business side of things often transcends the creative process.

Edsey is the author of the Best Christmas Decorations in Chicago, a lavish pictorial essay published in 1995 by Tobagio Press, named after a popular children s game she played while growing up on the far Northwest Side of the city.

Komie is a Chicago attorney and the only self-published author to win the Carl Sandburg Literary Award. He was honored in 1994 for a collection of short stories titled The Lawyer's Chambers, published by Swordfish Chicago. The swordfish, Komie explained, was used by the Marx Brothers as a secret password in one of their movies. His most recent book is the Last Jewish Shortstop in America.

Hanania, who doubles as the SMA webmaster, is a veteran Chicago journalist and author of I' m Glad I Look Like a Terrorist: Growing Up Arab in America. The inspiration for his self-published memoir came to him in 1989 after he was body searched by airport security personnel in Miami who warned him that he strongly resembled an international terrorist they were on the lookout for.

Publishing Obsession
Speaking before SMA members at the Cliff Dwellers Club, Mary Edsey cautioned that publishing your own book often becomes a costly, time consuming process that can easily take over your life. For ambitious entrepreneurs unafraid of 18-hour work days and doing the work of an entire publishing company, the rewards lie on the back end. Thus far, Edsey has sold 12,000 copies of an original print run of 14,000. She admits that the last 2,000 copies are the hardest to sell. Edsey recommends checking out Dan Pointers Self-publishing Manual from the library before you get started. Without question, the handy how-to volume is a primer for self-publishers.

Ray Hanania advises would-be self-publishers to make good use of the Internet. He has published several chapters of his memoir on his own website as an efficient means of sales promotion.

Published in 1996, Ray's autobiography has sold 4,500 copies of the original 6,000 run. Each book cost him $2 to print. The retail price is $17.95, but he offers distributors a 50% discount.

Lowell Komie took the proceeds from an investment in Coca Cola stock and published his own book. He became quickly disillusioned however, when he came to the realization that retailers and distributors see a book as a commodity and not an enduring work of literature.

Our panel of experts agreed:
1. Know your audience.
2. Budget your money.
3. Write the book before anything else.
4. Have patience Rome wasn t built in a day.
5. Farm out as much work as possible. Hire a publicist or a good secretary if you can afford one.
6. Never stop promoting yourself or the book.

Noted Birthdays
The Chicago Tribune devoted the bulk of its Feb. 5 Tempo section to reporting on the birthdays of two SMA members.

Father Andrew Greeley and the Rev. Martin E. Marty were born three hours apart on Feb. 5, 1928.

Between them they have written hundreds, perhaps thousands of books. Only the Library of Congress knows for sure. At a birthday blast for Greeley at Old St. Patrick's Church, Harry Mark Petrakis was among the speakers. Marty was in attendance, among wall-to-wall writers, publishers and a single literary agent. Reflecting Greeley's leprechaun sense of humor, the birthday cake was devil's food. Marty's birthday party was a dinner at the Chicago Historical Society hosted by his wife, Harriet, and Norman Lear and Bill Moyers of TV and their wives. The honorary dinner committee included Gov. Jim Edgar, Mayor Richard Daley, Cardinal (to be) Francis George and Otto Bibfeldt, son of one of Marty's mentors, Franz Bibfeldt.

(Well, not exactly. Franz Bidfeldt was the central figure in a classic hoax devised by Marty at age 23 and a fellow seminarian, when they took to quoting a fictitious German theologian.)

Naked Came the Novel
SMA members in Central Illinois are entertaining each other as well as readers with a ound-robin novel titled, Naked Came the Farmer.

Each of 13 writers is adding a chapter after reading what preceding contributors submit. SMA member Bill Knight, a Western Illinois University journalism professor, is publishing the book as a benefit for Friends of the Peoria Public Library.

Steven Burgauer is among the contributors. He writes science fiction novels. Other contributors work in mystery and romance genres, so the book promises something for everyone, including critics of local politicians and personalities.

Someone who picks it up and reads it will be able to figure out who we're making fun of, Burgauer told the Associated Press. Chapters are being serialized in the Pekin Daily Times.

Publishes 32nd Book
Fern G. Brown reports: I have just published my 32nd book. My books are fiction and nonfiction juvenile and young adult. I also visit schools and talk about reading and writing. My slogan READ, BABY, READ goes with me.

Short Story Takes Off
Carol Madden Adorjan's short story, Lunching With Yoko, will appear in the March 15 issue of American Way, American Airlines' inflight magazine. Her short fiction has been published also by Redbook, Woman s Day, North American Review, Denver Quarterly and others. Her 20th book for children is due out this spring.

Cash for Poems
Christianity and the Arts, published by SMA member Marci Whitney-Schenck, and AD LIB Christian Arts are holding a new annual poetry contest with awards of $100, $50 and $25. The subject for this year s contest must relate to the following themes: Advent, Beginnings and Endings, Birthings and Nativity. Winners will be published In the November 1998 issue of Christianity and the Arts. The entry fee is a subscription to the magazine at a discounted price of $15. Deadline: August 1, 1998. For details write: Christianity and the Arts, P.O. Box 118088, Chicago, IL 60611

Work in Progress
Update from Doris Vidaver, a former vice president and frequent judge for SMA book awards: Poems from her Under Two Signs (a work in progress) have appeared in American Poets & Poetry, The Neovictorian and The Charlotte Poetry Review as well as these anthologies: Articulations: Poetry on Illness and the Body, University of Iowa Press, 1995; and Beyond Lament, a World Anthology, Northwestern University Press, forthcoming this spring.

Vidaver received an Illinois Arts Council Award for Fiction in 1995, and was a finalist in the Chicago Tribune 1996 Nelson Algren Fiction Competition. An essay (coauthored) is on press for The Journal of Medical Biography, published by the Royal Society of Physicians, London. She's director of the Humanities in Medicine program at Rush University and assistant professor, Section on Social Medicine.

Best Teller
Prolific and generous author Phyllis A. Whitney sends, along with her contribution to the fund, welcome news that she is working on her autobiography at her home in Faber, Virginia. Whitney's latest best seller, Amethyst Dreams, was published in July 1997.

Dickensian Odyssey
Among the good notices received by William Ayers' latest book, A Kind and Just Parent: The Children of Juvenile Court (Beacon Press), is a rave from the Los Angeles Times. Ayers' book does for incarcerated kids in `the largest juvenile jail in the world' what Studs Terkel has done for the city's working folks, what Alex Kotlowitz has done for the residents of its housing projects, according to reviewer Antony Pratt.

Ayers' style is ... a vivid and spare prose (that) captures the scared and sullen kids shuffling into court. Ayers, a professor of education at the University of Illinois at Chicago, has been called a born educator and communicator by the Library Journal and one who has a graceful and passionate vision of the criminal justice system by Kirkus Reviews.

Toothful Tale
Marlene Targ Brill started the year off right with the publication of two volumes for kids. Tooth Tales From Around the World is a pictorial, nonfiction history of the tooth fairy, and includes stories from other cultures about the loss of baby teeth (apparently some people eat them on purpose, but we won't think about that).

Diary of a Drummer Boy is a picture book aimed at the middle grade readers. Written in diary form, it tells the story of a real Waukegan, Ill., youth who joined the Union Army at 12 and won the Congressional Medal of Honor two years later. Brill's book, Illinois, has been named an honor book in social studies by the Society of School Librarians International.

She Have to Get a Horse?
Mary Elizabeth Anderson of Grand Island, Neb., journeyed to Philadelphia in February to attend the Annual Awards Banquet of the Antique Automobile Club of America. There she received a special Author Award for her book Link Across America: a Story of the Historic Lincoln Highway.

The club, founded in 1935, is the largest association of antique vehicle hobbyists, and its publications committee is interested in recognizing writers who contribute to literature on the subject.

Noted attorney and man of letters Elmer Gertz reports with sorrow the passing of his wife on Nov. 15, 1997. He is coping as any writer would wish to by writing a memoir of their decades together, to be called Remembering Mamie. Gertz also reports that a book of his correspondence with Henry Miller will appear soon from Roger Jackson. That house has also brought out several of Gertz' pamphlets on various subjects.

Going Hollywood?
Glennette Tilley Turner of Wheaton reports her 1991 biography, Lewis Howard Latimer, has been optioned for a film. Latimer, a Renaissance man of African-American descent, was a draftsman, electrical engineer and inventor. He played a key role in the development of electrical and telephone technologies, executing patent drawings of Alexander Graham Bell's invention, which brings us so much joy today. He also was an expert patent witness for Edison's legal department. Latimer created the long-lasting filament that made incandescent lighting practical, and played a role in bringing electric lighting to Philadelphia, Montreal and London.

The Underground Railroad in Illinois will be published in March 1998 by Newman Edu- cational Publishing of Glen Ellyn. This volume, aimed at the general population, explores a little known chapter in Illinois history through maps, photos, activities and suggested readings. Still available is Tilley Turner's children's book, Running for Our Lives, the tale of a young boy who travels down the Underground Railroad to freedom in the middle of the 19th century.

Radio Days
WGN TV News interviewed Diana F. Johnson on Feb. 7 about her new bi-lingual children's book, Princesa and Friskie. Later the same day, she read to children and signed books at Spillin' the Beans coffee shop in Wilmette. Children attending the program were encouraged to make valentines for patients at Children's Memorial Hospital.

Brought to Book
David J. Walker's third Mal Foley mystery, Applaud the Hollow Ghost, is now in the stores. Kirkus Reviews rejoiced at how all the perps are finally brought to book.

Leon Forrest Remembered
The Harold Washington Library has scheduled a tribute to Leon Forrest at 6 p.m., Thursday, Feb. 26, in the auditorium. A memorial tribute to Forrest on Jan. 30 drew 700 to Alice Miller Chapel at Northwestern University.

Toni Morrison, Nobel Prize-winning author who edited three of his novels, compared them to seeing diamonds and emeralds everywhere on the street. The Chicago Sun-Times noted that his novel Divine Days has been described as the War and Peace of African-American literature. A former president of SMA, Forrest was professor of English and African-American Studies at Northwestern for 24 years.

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