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Literary License Newsletter heading

September 1997

Newly appointed awards chairman Augie Aleksy, the proprietor of Oak Park's Centuries & Sleuths bookstore, has completed his recruitment of judges for this year's competition. All 18 of the judges needed have signed up.

With that accomplished, notices are being mailed to publishers. We hope that this information can be included also in the Society's Web site, so that publishers and authors can download forms and access rules and other information without waiting for them to arrive in the mail. The Internet address will be included in the mailed notices. Submitters of 1997 books for consideration can simply print out the form from this online source. The deadline for submitting materials to judges is Jan. 31, 1998. One caveat is material must be sent to the judges directly, and their addresses will not be online, but will be in the mailed notices. Anyone needing those addresses for a submission may contact chairman Augie Aleksy at 708/848-7243. An entry form will be included in a future issue of Literary License.

We know from experience that there is a wide range of cooperation from publishers. Some respond enthusiastically. Some apparently don't read their mail. So if you have a book published during 1997, don't hesitate to enter it yourself. Either lean on your editor to send three copies of your book to the appropriate judges or do it yourself. And pass along this information to any of your friends who will have published books in 1997.

By Jim Schwab
The Society of Midland Authors, embarking on its new 1997-1998 season, is as healthy as it has been in some time, in large part because of the welcome positive responses of many new members who have joined in the past two years. Membership is now well over 200, the highest it has been in years, and promises to grow further now that past president Phyllis Ford-Choyke has taken over as membership chair.

Over the past year, with our new location at the Cliff Dwellers Club, attendance at SMA functions also appeared to grow. But as membership secretary for the past two years before taking over the presidency, I was concerned that most of our activities are primarily accessible to those in the Chicago region.

One reason for launching the new Web site, a job that new Web site editor Susan Sussman has been laboring mightily over the summer to master, was to offer services that were more directly accessible to the totality of our membership, including those usually unable to attend the Chicago programs. As the Web site evolves, we hope it will also prove valuable to publishers in being able to identify skilled, professional writers_and in the process do favors for many of our members as well.

Now I would like to take that logic one step further. A longstanding, and long-ignored, provision in the Society's bylaws allows the chartering of chapters for members outside a 50-mile radius of Chicago. That means that an Iowa, Minnesota, or Missouri chapter, for instance, could be formed, or one built around, say, the St. Louis metropolitan area, presuming enough interested members were willing to support one. That support could take the form of setting up the chapter's own programs, on any schedule those members chose, to parallel those made available in Chicago.

During the coming year, I will be contacting groups of members outside the Chicago area to determine their interest in doing exactly this. Moreover, I think such contact would be helpful in allowing those members to identify other qualified authors for invitation to membership in the future, so that writers in other parts of the Midwest become less reliant on recommendations by a membership secretary or others in Chicago in order to be _found_ by the Society.

I am willing to travel to locations where a few members wish to gather to initiate the chartering of a chapter, and, if possible, bring one or more Chicago authors with me to help things along. Those interested may contact me directly at the addresses listed in the yearbook or through the Society's E-mail or post office boxes. We look forward to the opportunity to toast the chartering of new chapters with new activities throughout the Midwest.

Contributions for the awards fund were received from the following after the dinner program had gone to press: Theodore Berland, Alzina Stone Dale, Charles Davis, Richard and Margery Frisbie, Dorothy Haas, Keith Krasemann, Marietta Marcin, Mark Perlberg, Stella Pevsner, Frances Podulka, David J. Walker, Dr. Sanford Weisblatt.

Danish Rights Sold
Danish rights to Out of Isak Dinesen in Africa: the Untold Story by Linda Donelson have been sold to Aschehoug. The publisher, part of the Egmont group, was established in Denmark in 1872, and has 10 imprints, and a book club.

Schwab at Breadloaf
Jim Schwab, until now known exclusively for nonfiction works on subjects like the environment and urban planning, took a new direction with his acceptance into the fiction section of this year's Bread Loaf Writers Conference. Jim is working on a novel dealing with people's lives in the aftermath of the closure of a Chicago church-based homeless shelter following a zoning dispute.

He also led a Lutheran delegation to the May 15-18 National Council of Churches Eco-Justice Working Group conference in Estes Park, Colo., where he was instrumental in launching a national network of synod-level activists within the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America. The new organization, of which Jim is one of three co-leaders, is the Lutheran Earthkeeping Network of the Synods (LENS), designed _to connect activists across the country to give the church a sharper focus on environmental stewardship._

On the Road
Mary Elizabeth Anderson's children's book, Link Across America: A Story of the Historic Lincoln Highway, has been released from Rayve Productions of Windsor, Calif. Next spring Barbour Company Inc. will publish her book of etiquette for children of ages two to six: Ever Wonder What to Do? It is written in rhyme and will feature colorful illustrations.

Sixty Years to Go
Phyllis A. Whitney writes: _My novel, Amethyst Dreams, was published in July. It will be a main selection of the Literary Guild in October. _I'm still working on my autobiography. In 90 pages (the subject) is only 34, so I have a long way to go to 94!_

Gregorich at Bat
Barbara Gregorich, with co-author Christopher Jennison of New York, has written a book for grades five to eight that mixes 48 reading selections with activities and projects all based on baseball. Reading Baseball (Good Year Books/Scott Foresman) includes fiction, nonfiction, biography, history, reporting, letters to the editor, poetry and interviews. Gregorich, a former teacher, is a full-time writer specializing in educational materials.

Brommel Honored
Dorothy Haas reports: _I attended a reception honoring Bernard Brommel, who retired after 26 years on the faculty at Northeastern Illinois University. The large crowd included colleagues from the university as well as professors who have moved on to other colleges and traveled considerable distances to offer their farewells, people who knew him as a boy and young man, people he has worked with in the administration, past and present students, and, simply, friends.

(Former students invited to speak included SMA Vice President Richard Lindberg). _There were numerous admiring academic tributes from professors with impressive scholarly credentials. The reminiscences out of his boyhood_including references to a certain ancient Studebaker_were funny and fun. The acknowledgment of personal growth under his tutelage by students, past and present, was touching. The afternoon closed on a light-hearted note with a trio sung to the music of Mozart with words shaped especially to the B. Brommel we know. The outpouring of admiration and affection for a friend was heartwarming._

Lambda Award
Achy Obejas' 1996 novel, Memory Mambo, has won the 1997 Lambda Literary Foundation Award for best lesbian fiction. It was also the July selection on National Public Radio's _Book Club of the Air_ on _Talk of the Nation._

Play Published
A full-length play by Joan Kufrin, The Messenger, was published by Dramatic Publishing in August. The play was a finalist in the Eugene O'Neill National Playwrights competition.

Sells Picture Book
Debbie Dadey reports that her first picture book, Shooting Star (Walker), has received _numerous fantastic reviews, including a starred review in School Library Journal._ She has sold 11 books this year, bringing her total 59.

Upside of _Duh_
The Book of Duh: Celebrating Those Less-Than-Magic Moments, Charlene Ann Baumbich's new book, is described by Harold Shaw Publishers as a way to _appreciate the humorous and inspirational side of those `Duh' moments ... that have us wondering what in the world we were thinking._ Baumbich is a popular speaker and frequent contributor to Marriage Partnership and the Chicago Tribune. Her books include Don't Miss Your Kids (IVP), The 12 Dazes of Christmas (IVP), How to Eat Humble Pie & Not Get Indigestion (IVP) and Mama Told Me There'd Be Days Like This (Servant).

Poetry in Church
Kathleen Norris, author of Dakota: a Spiritual Geography (Ticknor & Fields, 1993; Houghton Mifflin, 1994), which won an SMA Adult Nonfiction Award, has been quoted in more than one publication for saying it is time for more poetic language in churches. _It's depressing, though not particularly surprising, that contemporary scholars and theologians should not be able to tell the difference between good poetry and bad, or know that there are fairly objective ways to make the distinction._ She also wrote Cloister Walk (Riverhead Books, 1996).

Wilmette Updated
George Bushnell writes that the third edition of his book, Wilmette: A History (originally published in 1976), will be published in mid-September. _Interestingly, three of the original 1976 committee worked with me on the update._ The new book coincides with the celebration of Wilmette's 125th birthday.

With publication of Princesa and Friskie (Interkids), Diana F. Johnson moves from associate to author member of SMA. She's creative director of Interkids. Her book is illustrated by Ernesto López, a veteran animator for Hanna-Barbera, Walt Disney and other studios.

Hellenga's Back
Robert Hellenga, winner of an SMA fiction award for The Sixteen Pleasures, has sold his second novel to Scribner. Fathers & Daughters focuses on a family's response when its eldest daughter is killed in a terrorist bombing in Italy.

Fourth Mystery
The Truth Can Get You Killed, Mark Richard Zubro's fourth mystery featuring a gay Chicago police detective, was published in August by St. Martin's.

Midlife Up in Air
Henry Kisor's new book, Flight of the Gin Fizz: Midlife at 4,500 Feet, comes out this month from Basic Books. Kisor (book editor of the Chicago Sun-Times) tells of retracing in his own plane the route of Cal Rodgers, who in 1911 was the first to fly coast to coast. Publishers Weekly says: _His pleasures in flying...are all extraordinarily contagious._

_Trademark Bite_
Cris Mazza's new story collection, Former Virgin (FC2/Northwestern University), delivers her _trademark post- feminist girlish bite as she trashes one coming-of-age cliché after another._ So says Publishers Weekly.

Trade Secrets
Connie Goddard, who is an agent as well as an author and senior editor of Chicago Books in Review, conducted a course at Columbia College on _Your 30 Minutes with an Agent._ She advised aspiring writers to take writing courses, join writers' groups, get published first in small markets and network in the publishing world before firing off stacks of unsolicited manuscripts.

Goes Paperback
Alzina Stone Dale reports paperback editions of her _Mystery Readers Walking Guide_ series for New York, Chicago and Washington, DC. The New York volume is available now.

Student Inspires Tutor
Conversations with a student Stella Pevsner tutors at the Literacy Center of Chicago inspired Pevsner's newest book. Sing for Your Father, Su Phan tells of a young girl's life in Vietnam during the war.

New Poetry from Laureate
For 29 years, Gwendolyn Brooks, the poet laureate of Illinois, has invited elementary and secondary school students to enter her Poet Laureate contest. This year, the Chicago Tribune devoted a full page to a sampling of the winning poems for 1997. _I have learned a great deal from young people,_ she told the Sun-Times in an earlier interview. Brooks, who celebrated her 80th birthday in June, has a new book of poetry coming out this fall.

SMA at Guild Complex
A Guild Complex party on Wednesday, Nov. 19, will celebrate Reginald Gibbons' work since 1981 as editor of TriQuarterly magazine. At the end of this academic year he will hand over his post to Susan Hahn. Gibbons will conduct a workshop on fiction and poetry on Saturday, Dec. 6. Author of four books of poems, a story collection and an award-winning novel, he also teaches at Northwestern University.Maureen Seaton will talk about literary collaboration (with her friend, Denise Duhamel) on Sunday, Oct. 19.

All of these programs will be held at the Chopin Theater, 1543 W. Division St., Chicago.

Series Launched
Michael Craft's Flight Dreams (Kensington Books) is the first in a hardcover mystery series set at the fictional Chicago Journal. Reporter Mark Manning investigates the disappearance of a prominent North Shore widow while grappling with his emerging self-awareness as a gay man. _Craft's investigative reporter cum (almost) superhero may leave readers begging for another novel starring the same principals . . .

Delightful,_ says Booklist. There were nice words also from Kirkus Reviews and Library Journal: _Easy prose and well-drawn characters._ Craft's first published novel, Rehearsing (Los Hombres Press), was honored by SMA as a finalist for the 1994 Adult Fiction Award.

_Good as Homemade Bread_
Emilio DeGrazia's fourth book, A Canticle for Bread and Stones (Lone Oak Press), is as good as warm homemade bread in its depiction of Italian-American culture, says one reviewer. DeGrazia's story collection, Seventeen Grams of Soul, won a Minnesota Book Award for fiction. DeGrazia is professor of English at Winona State University.

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