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

September 1998


Some SMA members have enjoyed the pleasure (or suffered the pain) of seeing their books made into movies. Others, probably more numerous, have taken advantage of Chicago's thriving film industry, to turn out scripts for local producers.

That's why Ruth Ratny, who deserves some of the credit for Chicago's position as a film and video center, will be the featured speaker at our first fall program Saturday night, Oct. 17, at the Como Inn. Following cash bar at 6 p.m., a family style dinner will be served at 7 p.m., with Ratny's talk to follow. Ratny is publisher of Screen magazine.

Cost: only $25 a plate. The Como Inn, famous for good Italian food and as a hangout for journalists, offers its own free do-it-yourself parking lots as well as valet parking at the door, 546 N. Milwaukee Ave. Holding a dinner meeting on Saturday night is an experiment. Our usual week night meetings tend to draw members who work or live near downtown. Those who live in outlying areas report they are discouraged by rush hour traffic, much as they are attracted by the opportunity to socialize with other writers and hear interesting speakers. For the November meeting, on Tuesday, Nov. 10, the SMA program will return to the usual format: wine and hors d'oeuvres at the Cliff Dwellers Club, featuring Joe Masucci as speaker.

The subject will be 'techno-thrillers,' a genre of which Masucci is an acknowledged master. His latest book, The Millennium Project, will hit bookstores in November. The plot revolves around the scary thought that crashing the computers as the year changes from 1999 to 2000, shutting down our civilization, is an evil conspiracy.

Carol Carlson, owner of her own company, Technical Writing Services, has agreed to chair the 1998 Society of Midland Authors literary awards. She recently completed a term as a member of the board of Society for Technical Communications, an organization with 20,000 members. Her experience includes directing the International Technical Publications Competition.

By Barbara Schaaf

If you are guilt-ridden over lazing away the summer, read no further. Despite heat and humidity, your SMA colleagues have been hard at work.

Marty Update
When we left Martin Marty, he had just had a building named after him. If you think he rested on that laurel, you are wrong. In June, the University of Chicago Alumni Association bestowed its highest honor, the Alumni Medal, on Marty. Although created in 1941 to recognize exceptional achievement in any field, it has seldom been awarded. Marty received congratulations on this latest acknowledgment of his distinctive career at a reception given by the U of C's Divinity School. Watch this space for more Marty.

A Five A.M. Scholar
School is never out for William Ayers, professor of Education at UIC. He edited Teaching for Social Justice: A Democracy in Education Reader, available from New York City's New Press. Also, Ayers has co-edited and contributed to A Light in Dark Times: Maxine Greene and the Unfinished Conversation, a collection of essays about 'the preeminent American philosopher of education today' (Teachers College Press of Williston, Vt.) To Teach: The Journey of a Teacher, his award-winning book about his own experiences, remains a consistent seller for Teachers College Press. So does To Become a Teacher, a collection of essays by Ayers and others offering concrete advice to newcomers to the field.

Still available from the New Press is City Kids/City Teachers: Reports from the Front Row, which contains essays and memoirs drawn from experience in urban schools. What's more, A Kind and Just Parent: The Children of Juvenile Court (Beacon Press) continues to receive praise. Ayers is willing to share the secret behind his astonishing output: he rises at five a.m. daily, takes up his yellow-lined pad, and the rest is in print. Set those alarm clocks!

This month (September 1998), Liane Clorfene-Casten delivers the keynote address before the Pasadena convention of the Cancer Control Society, a group which emphasizes alternative approaches to confronting cancer. Her speech, based on the findings in her book, Breast Cancer: Poisons, Profits and Prevention (Common Courage Press), hits hard on the politics and profits of cancer treatment. Since its 1996 publication, this book has taken on a life of its own, making Clorfene-Casten a prime source in the field. Her essay. 'The Birth Rates of a Nation Hang in the Balance,' appeared in the Chicago Tribune on June 21.

Second Helping
Michael Craft's second mystery starring Chicago journalist/sleuth Mark Manning (New York: Kensington Books) is earning notice for its 'Good plot, witty conversations, erotic dreams...' (Library Journal). According to Kirkus Reviews, 'The scenes of gay domestic life, which show a welcome sensitivity, could go far toward helping this gay mystery enlarge, or even escape, its niche.'

Down to Sea in Ships
Bruce Felknor is receiving high marks for his anthology, The U.S. Merchant Marine at War, 1775-1945 (Naval Institute Press). Providing his own connecting narrative, Felknor draws upon books and historical documents to recount the heroism of American sailors who, while maintaining civilian status, kept vital cargo ships afloat during wartime, beginning with the Revolutionary period and ending with World War II.

Despite their heroism and the fact that the percentage of lives lost by the merchant marine was double that of the army, survivors of that war, including the armed guards who provided protection for merchant vessels, were not given veteran's status until 1995.

Grand Gertz
From Elmer Gertz, one of Chicago's long-time men of letters, comes Henry Miller and Elmer Gertz: Selected Letters, 1964-1975, and his tribute to his late wife, Remembering Mamie. He also has several articles published in the Caxtonian.

A Taste of Italy
Novels are seldom called 'epicurean,' but that's what the Tribune review had to say about The Fall of the Sparrow (Scribners) by Galesburg member Robert Hellenga. 'Intelligent' and 'eloquent' as well, Hellenga's new work tells the story of an American classics professor who must go to Bologna for the trial of those accused of murdering his daughter and 85 others in the terrorist bombing of a railway station. Hellenga will be remembered as winner of the SMA fiction award for The Sixteen Pleasures, also set in Italy and based on an historical incident. His new novel is already the number eight best-seller with, and a Book of the Month selection. He recently returned from a book tour that included Bellevue (Wash.), Boston, Chicago, Danville (Ill.), Denver, Iowa City, Madison (both Wis. and Conn.), Menlo Park (N.J.), Milwaukee, New York, San Francisco, Seattle, St. Louis and Washington. SMA member Al Gini interviewed him in Chicago on WBEZ.

Who Needs Nick and Nora?
Marge Silsbee Herguth makes history for the Chicago Press Veterans Association in October. Marge and husband Bob Herguth are the first husband and wife team to be named Press Vets of the Year. The couple met when both reported for the dear, dead Chicago Daily News in the 1950s. She went on to the Pioneer Press, while he continued at the Chicago Sun-Times. The much- admired couple will get their just desserts at a dinner in Oakbrook Terrace.

The Inept Apprentice: A Recollection (Western Books) is Martin Litvin's recounting of his literary life and what led up to it. It moves from the scenes of his youth in Galesburg and Chicago to Army duty in England and his return to New York and his evolution as a writer.

The title of her second novel is The Most Wanted (Viking), but it could describe Jacquelyn Mitchard herself. She grew up in Chicago, lives in Madison, Wis., and is everywhere on television these days, whether she's commenting on President Clinton's problems or promoting her new book. For SMA members who have been living in a cave for the last two years, Mitchard's first novel, The Deep End of the Ocean, was the first fiction selection of Oprah's book club, and the movie starring Michelle Pfeiffer and Whoopi Goldberg is to be released this fall.

Missing Person
Sara Paretsky's woman detective V. I. Warshawki is missing from the pages of Ghost Country (Delacorte). Described as 'a mystical parable' about power and the lack thereof, involving 'music, miracles and magic,' the novel is set in Chicago, where a 'homeless woman sees the Virgin Mary's blood seeping through a concrete wall in a hotel's parking garage.'

Kidding Around
Bonnie Pryor, another prolific SMA member, won the Maryland State Award for 1998 (intermediate grades) for Poison Ivy and Eyebrow Wigs. This fall, her new series of historical fiction debuts with Thomas, set during the Revolutionary War. The series is aimed at fourth and fifth grade boys and features high adventure and survival elements. Published by Morrow, the series has been picked up by the Junior Library Guild, with Avon handling the paperbacks. When Tribe is released by Gold Rush next spring, Pryor will celebrate the publication of her 30th children's book. No word as to how early she gets up in the morning; perhaps its the water in Gambier, Ohio, where Pryor makes her home.

Something Phil Jackson Would Love
Together with Mei Hui Huang, Larry Smith has compiled and translated a collection of Chinese Zen poems, entitled What Hold Has This Mountain? (Huron, Ohio, Bottom Dog Press). Smith, a poet, novelist, and professor of English and humanities at Firelands College of Ohio's Bowling Green University, also contributed to Brooding the Heartlands: Poets of the Midwest (Bottom Dog Press). The 'brooding' referred to is of a meditative, rather than angst-ridden, nature.

In Good Company
Gloria Whelan joins Elmore Leonard, Nancy Willard and Charles Baxter as the winner of the Michigan Author Award for 1998. The recipient is decided by the Michigan Library Association and the Michigan Center for the Book.

Farewell to the Island (Harper/Collins) is to be published this fall. It is the sequel to Once on This Island, for which Whelan, of Mancelona, Mich., won the Great Lakes Booksellers Award in 1996.

Everything Old Is New Again
Bill Knight, professor of journalism at Western Illinois, and Steven Burgauer, best known for his sci-fi novels, are following in the footsteps of Chesterton, Christie and Sayers. In the style of Britain's Detection Club of the Thirties (The Floating Admiral), Knight and Buerger have joined 11 other midwestern writers in contributing one chapter each, in series, to Naked Came the Farmer (Mayfly Productions), a mystery/spoof of life in central Illinois published for the benefit of the Friends of the Peoria Public Library. It features, among other things, mega-hog farm pollution and Mach One pumpkin projectiles.


Filming Books
Susan Sussman's article, 'Read Any Good Movies Lately?' ' first published by Pyramid Productions ' appeared in the Winter issue of Illinois Libraries. It examines the often symbiotic relation-ship between book and film. Children especially are eager to read books they've seen. In her magazine preface, editor Kathleen L. Bloomberg writes: 'Many librarians, including myself, tend to prefer the book to the movie version, so I was intrigued by the article. (Sussman's) perspective about books and movies is engaging.'

Sussman described the changes she had to make in her own book, There's No Such Thing as a Chanukah Bush, Sandy Goldstein, in adapting to the screen. She wrote: 'Neither better nor worse than the book, the film is a separate entity that stands on its own merits. It is as if I began the same journey twice, beginning and ending at the same place, but taking different paths.'

Family Writing Tradition
Oct. 7 is publication date for Victims of Justice (Avon) by Thomas Frisbie and Randy Garrett. Tom is the son of SMA members Richard and Margery Frisbie. Scott Turow, the well-known author-attorney, says, 'This is the first comprehensive account of the most extraordinary criminal case I know ' the infamous Nicarico murder ' and the 12- year crusade for justice which it inspired. The two men who were on the scene the longest, and who probably know more about this case than anyone else, have written a gripping, provocative, often moving account of how great evil ' and good ' came to take place.'

Tom, as a writer and editor for the Chicago Sun-Times, covered many of the developments in the case as they originally unfolded.

Creative Chicago
The reviews are coming in for Kenen Heise's new book, Chaos, Creativity and Culture: A Sampling of Chicago in the 20th Century. He described it at the April SMA meeting. ALA's Booklist said his 'positive approach, his upbeat and informative decade-by-decade overview of Chicago's feisty, multifaceted and unquenchable culture is so rich in detail and character sketches and so enthusiastic it proves to be irresistible. ' The Chicago Sun-Times called him 'exceptionally good at outlining relationships among all this creativity. His opinions are original, his anecdotes vivid.'

A Book Babies Cry For
Jane Howard signed 120 copies of her book, When I'm Sleepy, at Lake Forest Hospital, Lake Forest, Ill. The occasion was an open house for the hospital's maternity department.

Busy Fall
Alzina Stone Dale reports looking forward to a busy fall filled with lectures and book signings. Sept. 16: 'From Gaudy Night to Thrones, Dominations: Another Look at Dorothy L. Sayers,' Aunt Agatha's Bookstore, Ann Arbor. Mich.
Sept. 26: 'Mysteries as Social History,' Mid-America's Book & Paper Fair, ExpositionGardens, Peoria, Ill.
Oct. 7-Nov 11: 'Mysterious Washington, D.C.' Newberry Library Seminar, Chicago.
Oct. 11: Chicago South Mystery Bus Tour (South Loop, Prairie Ave., Hyde Park).
Oct. 18: 'Washington D.C., Home of the Political Mystery,' Homewood (Ill.) PublicLibrary.
Oct. 30-Nov. 1: 'Magna Cum Murder,' Ball State University, Muncie, Ind.
Nov. 21: 'Washington D.C., Home of the Political Mystery,' Lincolnwood (Ill.) Library.
Dec. 13: 'G.K. Chesterton, the Everlasting Man,' Trinity Episcopal Church, Wheaton, Ill.

Knowing the Score
Barbara Gregorich and her co-author, Christopher Jennison, have written two new books that, taken together, should help kids in the upper grades keep track of baseball statistics. Reading Baseball, says the publisher, Addison Wesley, 'offers a stadium's worth of highly motivating, engrossing reading opportunities ' fiction, nonfiction, biography, history, reporting, letters-to-the-editor, poetry, interviews, and more. 'Engaging activities for each selection develop reading, writing, listening, and speaking skills, Both boys and girls will delight in the challenge and excitement of projects such as writing a scouting report; creating a new baseball team with name, logo, colors, and uniforms; interviewing a favorite player; drawing a chart showing the hand signals umpires use. Whether they're reading in the activities section or the projects section, kids will be amazed and excited by the information and the ideas.'

Racing Math 'offers turbocharged math activities and projects with plenty of exciting twists and turns based on famous races, speeds and records, pit crew performances, speedways and race courses, engines and car models, plus ticket, concession, and outfitting costs, and much more. 'Math activities include charting lap times, measuring the length of a straightaway, and computing average pole positions. Students go head-to-head in such races as the Daytona 500, the French Grand Prix, and of course the Indianapolis 500. They take pit stops to learn about Legends car, racing suits and safety, engine displacement, and even ice racing.'

Much Adventure
The Grandfather Paradox by Steven Burgauer (zero-g press) earned a nice review in Science Fiction Chronicle: 'Entertaining sections in this kitchen sink novel... involve time travel back to the post Civil War era, a trip to the planet Mars, being marooned in another system, and so on. There's also clones, monsters, battles, escapes, etc. ... and you won't find much more in the way of adventure than is contained herein.'

Pointed Portrait
Jim Lehrer's new novel, Purple Dots (Random House), says Publishers Weekly, 'neatly interweaves ruthlessness, hypocrisy and CIA intrigue in this disarming political thriller. 'Lehrer (PBS TV newsman) maintains admirable objectivity: no character is ultimately sympathetic or completely tarred and feathered by the end of this pointed portrait of Capitol Hill.'

Award Winner in Print
Harriette Gillem Robinet, winner of the most recent SMA award for children's fiction with The Twins, the Pirates and the Battle of New Orleans, reminds us that Atheneum continues to keep several of her other books for young readers in print: Washington City is Burning, Forty Acres and Maybe a Mule, Mississippi Chariot, Children of the Fire and If You Please, President Lincoln.

Ad Astra
Prolific mystery writer Phyllis Whitney has won another award. Her book, Daughter of the Stars, won the high-school level Virginia State Reading Association Young Readers Award for 1998.

Tops with Scots
Martha Modena Vertreace has recently published a collection of poetry, Second Mourning with Diehard Publishers, Edinburgh, Scotland. Her first collection published with that press, Light Caught Bending, appeared in 1995. Both books received Scottish Arts Council Awards.

Monkeying Around
Ed Baumann is looking for circus stories ' funny, amusing or unusual incidents involving people or animals in the circus. Send to Ed Baumann, 7115 Seventh Ave., Kenosha, WI 53143, and, he says, you might get into his latest book.

Baumann apparently has a long-standing interest in exotic animals. Quoted in the newsletter for 'alumni' of the Chicago Daily News, he remarked that after his service in World War II he brought home two pet monkeys from the Philippines.

'My folks took them when I went off to college. One of them lived for 18 more years.' That sounds like a book in itself. Baumann has already written numerous true-crime books.

New Publications
Fran Podulka reports forthcoming publications: 'Spring River,' a story in River Oak Review, and a poem, 'Articles of Faith,' in Snowy Egret.

Model T Memoir
Another former SMA award winner (nonfiction), Grace Bacon Ferrier, writes that her new book is almost ready for publication. Post Oak Sprouts Along Bellyache Creek is a memoir of her youth in Osage County, Mo. She recalls attending a one-room school house, driving to high school in a Model T Ford and enduring the Depression with family visits and country picnics.

Colorful Article
'The Day the World Turned Color,' an article by Carol M. Adorjan, appeared in the Aug./Sept. issue of Audiofile Magazine.

Best of Century
Rosellen Brown's story, 'How to Win,' was chosen by John Updike to appear in Houghton Mifflin's Best American Short Stories of the Century (a selection from the annual collections titled Best American Short Stories.)

New Poems
Alane Rollings' new collection of poems, The Logic of Opposites, has been published by TriQuarterly Books.

Readings on Road
Alice Hayes writes: 'I've given readings from my two books published last year (Journal of the Lake and Water, Sheba's Story) at the Cliff Dwellers Club, the Ragsdale Foundation, Women and Children First, the Lake Forest library, Montgomery Place and the 57th St. Bookstore.'

Enid Baron contributed an essay, 'My Mother and Louis B. Mayer,' to a book edited by Lee Gutkind: Connecting: Twenty Prominent Authors Write About the Relationships That Shape Our Lives (Tarcher/Putnam).

Don't Miss Life
Charlene Ann Baumbich, besides writing humorous books, entertains audiences from the platform. She says her recurring theme is, 'Don't Miss Your Life.' In October and November, she'll be appearing in Naperville, Hinsdale and Wheaton, Ill.; Utica, Mich., and Captiva Island, Fla.

Already booked for 1999 are Naperville, East Lynn and Glen Ellyn, Ill.,; Chesterton, Ind.; Louisville, Ky.; Green Bay, Wis., and Detroit.

Now the Paperback
Just published in paperback by Academy Chicago Publishers, Death and Blintzes, by Dorothy and Sidney Rosen, is a mystery that features amateur detective Belle Appleman, 'feisty, impulsive, and chatty' (Publishers Weekly), getting a job in a clothing factory during the Great Depression and helping to solve the murder of two co-workers. The hardcover edition got the Rosens an appearance on the Today show on NBC.

Crime Scene
Richard Lindberg has just signed a contract with Cumberland House for a true crime book, Returning to the Scene of the Crime: A Guide to Infamous Places in Chicago, for spring 1999 release. That means the manuscript is due in December, 1998.

It's a true-crime tour of the sites of notorious crimes. It also places disasters like the Chicago Fire and the Wingfoot dirigible crash.

Planning China
Stuart Meck, SMA's Membership Secretary, visited the People's Republic of China twice this summer. In June, he delivered a paper on the certification of city planners at a conference in Shanghai and also spoke to the planning staff at the Ministry of Construction in Beijing. The following month Meck returned to teach, in translation, a three-day course on American city planning to planners who work for the Shanghai municipal government and the Pudong Land Development Company, a public/private agency that is developing the eastern side of the city.


Richard M. Bueschel
A serious student of Chicago industrial history, he wrote a number of books for collectors about vintage coin-operated machines. Also among his 30 books is a series of works on air power in the Far East. In the 1960s and 1970s, he was president of the Chicago industrial advertising agency Waldie & Briggs.

Ruth H. Hooker
She wrote mysteries as well as a number of children's books. Her short stories were published in national magazines. She served as a member of the Naperville (Ill.) library board and led a fight to prevent Naperville's Central Park from being turned into a parking lot.

Harold Klawans
He was one of Chicago's 'brightest, most prolific and under-appreciated writers,' wrote Bill Brashler in the Chicago Tribune. Klawans wrote 14 books, beginning in 1982, while continuing his career as a distinguished neurologist at Rush-Presbyterian-St. Luke's medical center.

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