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April 2005

        In 1915 a group of authors whose names are still revered joined together to create the Society of Midland Authors.
        While countless other major institutions and organizations have faded away, the Society continues to celebrate the writing of books in the heartland.
        Following an annual tradition, SMA will honor the best of those books published in 2004 at our 90th anniversary banquet on May 10 (details below).
        In the spirit of the occasion, the featured speaker will be a distinguished historian and author, Richard Norton Smith, head of the new Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library and Museum in Springfield.
        Award winners tell how and why they write. Their stories are sometimes touching, sometimes hilarious.
        If you wish to stay overnight after the dinner, the CAA will have rooms available for $125, including tax. For reservations, call the CAA directly at 312-236-7500 and mention SMA.        

Contributions Sought        
        The reason there's a line on the enclosed reservation card asking for a contribution is that SMA must work to raise the funds each year to pay for the awards.
        Your dues cover only the printing, mailing and other ordinary expenses of the organization.

Other Member News
Pulitzer for Kooser
        Already the nation's poet laureate, Ted Kooser has now won the 2005 Pulitzer Prize for poetry with Delights & Shadows.
        He joins a long line of SMA members who have won the prize, beginning with Hamlin Garland.
        The New York Times reported that Kooser, 65, of Garland, Neb., "like Wallace Stevens, worked in life insurance for much of his career. He was vice president of Lincoln Benefit Life Insurance, where he wrote advertising copy and oversaw legal affairs; he rose daily at 4:30 a.m. to compose poetry, which he asked his secretary and colleagues to critique. He retired in 1998.
        "Clarity is the hallmark of Kooser's style, with deceptively modest metaphors grounded in the Nebraska landscape. The Bloomsbury Review described his work as 'like clean, clear water.'"

Petrakis Saluted
        The Chicago Tribune paid tribute to Harry Mark Petrakis, celebrating a burst of creative energy at age 81 from a Chicago literary icon.
        A lengthy interview by Patrick T. Reardon (also an SMA member) noted that Petrakis has just published two more novels in two years with Southern Illinois University Press, and has contracted for another.
        The two most recent novels are Twilight of the Ice and The Orchards of Ithaca.
        The novel in progress, tentatively titled The Shepherds of Shadows, will be a sequel to his earlier novel about the Greek war for independence, The Hour of the Bell.
        With about 30,000 words on paper, he expects to finish it by the summer of 2006.
        Although his realistic writing does not "sugarcoat the immigrant experience in the United States," Petrakis is known as a speaker who draws on his Greek-American background to give audiences a hilariously good time.

How to Get Your Book in Tribune
        When Elizabeth Taylor, literary editor of the Chicago Tribune, addressed a meeting of the Midwest Chapter of the Mystery Writers of America, Michael Allen Dymmoch was on hand to collect tips on how to get books reviewed in the Tribune.
        Main points:
        Although Taylor receives as many as 100 books a day, she does try to get Chicago writers into the paper. It helps to attach a note, "This is a Chicago writer."
        Lead times are three to four months. Publishers pour out books in June, not so many in August.
        Taylor likes to have many different reviewers rather than a stable of a few reviewers. She'd like at least one new reviewer for every book section.

New "Crowd-Pleaser" Mystery
        David J. Walker's new mystery, All the Dead Fathers, is a "complex and creepy puzzler," said Kirkus Reviews.
        Publishers Weekly
said, "The fast pace, well-rendered cast and solid Midwest flavor make this a potential crowd-pleaser."
        It deals with a private eye who has to try to stop a "fierce self-appointed executioner of Catholic priests accused of sexual misconduct."

Seven Come Eleven?
        Richard Frisbie, author of seven books, has won election for the seventh time as a trustee of the Arlington Heights, Ill., public library.

Please Stand By
        An essay by James McManus put him on the list for a National Magazine Award. Winners were to be announced just after this issue of Literary License goes to press.
        In any case, an expanded version of his article from Esquire, "Please Stand By While the Age of Miracles Is Briefly Suspended," will be published by Farrar, Straus and Giroux in January as Physical: An American Checkup.

Injustice System
        Thomas Frisbie, co-author of Victims of Justice: The True Story of Two Innocent Men Condemned to Die and a Prosecution Out of Control, traveled to Springfield, Ill., March 23 to speak at a panel discussion of "The Prosecution Complex and the Wrongfully Convicted."
        The public forum was held in conjunction with a course on conviction of the innocent at the University of Illinois at Springfield.
        As a Chicago Sun-Times reporter, Frisbie helped cover the Jeanine Nicarico murder case and the wrongful prosecution of Rolando Cruz and Alexandro Hernandez. Other panelists were John Hanlon and Bill Clutter.
        Hanlon is an attorney for the Illinois Office of State Appellate Defender's Capital Litigation Project and has been a participant in the appeals process in this and many other innocence cases.
        Clutter, a private investigator and director of investigations for the Downstate Illinois Innocence Project, has also worked on appeals in many innocence cases, including the Nicarico case.
        At UIS, students in legal studies and other degree programs provide research and investigative assistance to individuals who have been arrested, tried, found guilty and imprisoned for crimes they most likely did not commit.

Arabs in Chicago
        Aracadia Press is publishing Ray Hanania's new book, Arabs of Chicagoland, a historical overview of the settlement of the Arabs in Chicago in the mid-19th century at Hull House through the present with 200 photos dating back to the 1920s.
        Some of the photos come from two ethnic newspapers he published, the Middle Eastern Voice (1975-1977) and the Arab American View (1999-2002).
        The book is due out in August. Hanania is also working on a book detailing the history of corruption in Cicero, where he says he served a brief stint as an "insider who survived."

Lawyers in Love
        Alan H. Neff writes: "I am pleased to report that I recently sold a novel to a publisher based in Florida. The working title of the novel is Blauser's Building. It's a comic novel about lawyers in love, but not with the law. If all goes well, it will be out in February, 2006. I'm at work on a darker prequel."
        Previously, he has published non-fiction books and articles about the legal system and business communication.

"Highly Readable" Biography
        Sam Weller's just-out biography, The Bradbury Chronicles: The Life of Ray Bradbury, tells the story in "highly readable prose," says Publishers Weekly.
        "Weller surveys Bradbury's ancestors and family, his boyhood move to Hollywood, his introduction to science fiction and fantasy and his early writing attempts, which reflect the themes that pervade his more mature work: 'nostalgia, loneliness, lost love and death.'
        "Highlights include Bradbury's collaboration with John Huston on the film Moby Dick, his receiving the National Book Foundation's Medal for Distinguished Contribution to American Letters in 2000 and his recent feud with Michael Moore over the title of Moore's documentary film."
Still Chicago's Best Mayor
        Melvin G. Holli's famous ranking of Chicago mayors has been updated for a third edition of The Mayors: The Chicago Political Tradition , edited by Holli and Paul M. Green.
        Recalculated by a poll of historians, the list still ranks Richard J. Daley (1955-1976) as the city's best mayor.
        The current mayor, Richard M. Daley, comes in third, behind Carter Harrison II.
        "In the 17 years since The Mayors was first published, Chicago politics has become more genteel, more docile and more predictable," says the new preface.
        It was Richard J. Daley who dampened the city's "once red-hot political coals."

                                                Recent New Members

        Poet and writer Linda Nemec Foster is the author of six poetry collections, including the critically acclaimed Amber Necklace of Gdansk (Louisiana State University Press, 2001), a book that was inspired by her Eastern European heritage.
        She also has written A History of the Body (Coffee House Press, 1987); A Modern Fairy Tale: The Baba Yaga Poems (Ridgeway Press, 1992); Trying to Balance the Heart (Sun Dog Press, 1993); Living in the Fire Nest (Ridgeway Press, 1996), which was a finalist for the Poet's Prize, and Contemplating the Heavens (Ridgeway Press, 2001).

        Artist and freelance writer Gregory Harms is the author, with Todd Ferry, of The Palestine-Israel Conflict: A Basic Introduction (Pluto Books).

        Gordon Henry was born in Philadelphia in 1955 and is a member of the Chippewa tribe. His father served in the U.S. Navy. He has taught at Ferris State University in Big Rapids, Mich., and at Michigan State.
        His Ph.D. is from the University of North Dakota. He is author of The Light People (1994), and his poems are included in the anthology Songs From This Earth on Turtle's Back (1983).

        Since 1996, Greg Holden has been a full-time writer of books, articles and columns on computer and Internet-related topics. He is the author of over 20 books on e-commerce, web design and computing, including Internet Babylon (APress, 2004).
        He is co-founder and president of Stylus Media, which creates Web pages for small businesses.

        Patricia J. Murphy has written more than 75 children's books. Her books are part of the "Rookie Read About Science" series, the "Let's See Library: Our Nation" series, the "True Book" series and the "Library of Why" series. She was born in Chicago and received her degrees from Northern Illinois University and National-Louis University.
        Wesley Adamczyk is author of When God Looked the Other Way: An Odyssey of War, Exile and Redemption (University of Chicago Press, 2004). Adamczyk was a young Polish boy when he was deported with his mother and siblings from their comfortable home in Luck to Soviet Siberia in May, 1940.
        His father, a Polish Army officer, was taken prisoner by the Red Army and eventually became one of the victims of the Katyn massacre. His mother succumbed to exhaustion in Iran after mounting a harrowing escape from the Soviets.
        When God Looked the Other Way is "a memoir of a boyhood lived in unspeakable circumstances, a book that not only illuminates one of the darkest periods of European history but also traces the loss of innocence and the fight against despair that took root in one young boy."

        Charles N. Billington is author of Wrigley Field's Last World Series. Billington is a licensed clinical social worker with 30 years of experience in mental health as an administrator, psychotherapist and consultant. Most recently he has worked with the elderly.
A three-sport athlete in high school who played baseball at the collegiate level, he combined his background in sports and his interest in history with his work with senior citizens to write about Wrigley Field's last World Series, the wartime Chicago Cubs and the Pennant of 1945.
        "The fascinating recollections of two elderly baseball players who came to him for assistance became the inspiration for the work."
He still plays outfield in the Chicago North Men's Senior Baseball League.

        Jack D. Coombe was born in Baltic, Mich., received a B.A. from Northwestern and has done graduate work at Roosevelt. He lives in Northbrook with his wife, Peg. He is author of Consider My Servant, Detailing the Tokyo Express, Gunsmoke Over the Atlantic, The Temptation, Thunder Along the Mississippi: The River Battles That Split the Confederacy and Gunfire Around the Gulf.
        He has been nominated for the Fletcher Pratt Award for Excellence in Civil War Literature.

        Patricia Malone, who grew up on a central Illinois farm, is a teacher in the gifted program at Downers Grove Elementary School District 58. She is author of The Legend of Lady Illena (Delacorte/Random House), a 2003 ALA nominee for Best Book for Young Adults.
Final Chapters

Barbara C. Schaaf
        Author and former staff aide for several political leaders, including Robert F. Kennedy, Eleanor McGovern and Richard M. Daley, she was found dead of cardiovascular disease on March 29 in her home in Harvey, Ill. One of her books, Mr. Dooley's Chicago, won the 1977 Carl Sandburg Award from the Chicago Friends of Literature and was nominated for Pulitzer Prize.
        She also wrote Shattered Hopes: A True Crime Story of Marriage, Murder, Corruption and Cover-Up in the Suburbs and edited Mr. Dooley: Wise and Funny, We Need Him.
A long-time member of the SMA board of directors, she was associate editor of Literary License and was known for never having missed a deadline by a single day in seven years.
        She served as a trustee of the Harvey, Ill., public library from 1978 to 2001.

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