Upcoming Past

TUES, MAR 12, 2024: From Peoria to Shanghai: Literary Salon Host Bernardine Szold Fritz

From Peoria to Shanghai: Literary Salon Host Bernardine Szold Fritz
Talk and Slideshow
with Susan Blumberg-Kason, author Bernardine’s Shanghai Salon: The Story of the Doyenne of Old China


WHEN: Tuesday, March 12, 2024; cocktails 6-7 p.m. and program 7-8 p.m.

WHERE: The Cliff Dwellers, 200 S Michigan Ave., 22nd floor penthouse

COST: Free & open to all; $5 donation suggested


Books will be available for purchase and signing after the program.


Bernardine Szold Fritz was born and raised in Peoria, Illinois. At the age of 19, she acted in the Chicago Little Theatre, housed in the Fine Arts Building. She went on to work as a journalist alongside Carl Sandburg and Ernest Hemingway before moving to New York and Paris in the 1920s. In 1929 she moved to Shanghai to marry a silver broker from North Dakota. It was in Shanghai that she started a literary salon and became the first person to bring together Chinese and expat writers, actors, musicians, and dancers. Susan Blumberg-Kason will speak about her new book, Bernardine’s Shanghai Salon, and will show how Bernardine’s Midwestern roots went on to influence her work in Shanghai.


Susan Blumberg-Kason is the author of Bernardine’s Shanghai Salon: The Story of the Doyenne of Old China and Good Chinese Wife: A Love Affair with China Gone Wrong. She is also the co-editor of Hong Kong Noir. Susan is a regular contributor to the Asian Review of Books and World Literature Today. Born, raised, and now based in the Chicago suburbs, Susan has a forthcoming book out this September, When Friends Come From Afar: The Remarkable Story of Bernie Wong and Chicago’s Chinese American Service League.


Author Susan Blumberg-Kason. Front cover,


To learn more, contact Mary Wisniewski: [email protected] or Sharon Woodhouse: [email protected].

TUES, APR 9, 2024: Booking Baseball: Writing About the National Pastime

TUES, APR 9, 2024: Booking Baseball: Writing About the National Pastime

Booking Baseball: Writing About the National Pastime
Discussion with four veteran SMA members
Baseball authors Thom Henninger, Stuart Shea, Judith Hiltner, and Jim Walker


WHEN: Tuesday, April 9, 2024, 6pm-8pm

WHERE: Turtle’s Bar & Grill, 238 W. 33rd St., two blocks south of Guaranteed Rate Field

COST: Free & open to all; $5 donation suggested; free food & cash bar


Books will be available for purchase and signing after the program.


Collectively, SMA members, Thom Henninger, Judith Hiltner, Stuart Shea, and Jim Walker have written seven books and countless articles on baseball. The Society of Midland Authors and the Chicago chapter of the Society for American Baseball Research (SABR) invite you to learn how they approach writing about the national pastime.

Topics include:

  • Why so many baseball books are written and who publishes them
  • Working with teams and conducting interviews
  • Using research facilities
  • Managing your writing project
  • Memorable experiences

To learn more, contact Mary Wisniewski: [email protected].

TUES, FEB 13, 2024: Demystifying Publishing: How to Get Published and How to Keep Publishing

Demystifying Publishing: How to Get Published and How to Keep Publishing

(Hints and insights: What to do once the writing is finished)

A virtual panel discussion

Demystifying Publishing (recording of event on YouTube)

Tuesday, February 13, 2024, 7pm – 8pm CST

To join: https://us02web.zoom.us/j/83839767320?pwd=a2R0OU5hYmQ2a0h5Y2pZUjlYZkRaUT09       


Donna Beasley is a children’s book author, former digital travel magazine owner, writing coach, and president/publisher of KaZoom Kids Books, a multicultural children’s publishing company, focusing on Black and Latino characters, and stories for children ages 3 to 8.



Sylvia Frank Rodrigue acquires history and criminology books for SIU Press. Through her business, Sylverlining, she copyedits nonfiction and fiction manuscripts. She was editor-in-chief at LSU Press and associate editor at Stackpole Books. Rodrigue is the co-author of Images of America: Baton Rouge and Historic Baton Rouge.




Sharon WoodhouseSharon Woodhouse was an indie publisher for over 25 years (Lake Claremont Press, Everything Goes Media). She currently owns Conspire Creative, which provides coaching, consulting, and project management services for authors and publishers, with a specialty in entrepreneurship and publishing options.



To learn more, contact moderators Marlene Targ Brill: [email protected]  or Walter Podrazik: [email protected].

Jan 9, 2024: Chicago’s Modern Mayors: From Harold Washington to Lori Lightfoot

The Midland Authors presents a panel discussion on

Chicago’s Modern Mayors: Harold Washington to Lori Lightfoot

Midland Authors presents Chicago’s Modern Mayors – YouTube

Voices For Justice: Jonathan Eig: King: A Life – YouTube

Tuesday, January 9, 2024, 6 p.m.

Harold Washington Library Center
400 S. State St., Chicago
Doors open at 5:30 p.m.

Free and open at all. Suggested donation $5.
Books will be available for purchase.

The Midland Authors presents a panel discussion based on the new book Chicago’s Modern Mayors, edited by former Midland Authors President Dick Simpson and Betty O’Shaughnessy, covering mayors Harold Washington, Eugene Sawyer, Richard M. Daley, Rahm Emanuel, and Lori Lightfoot.

The discussion will feature:

Betty O’Shaughnessy, former adjunct professor of political science at the University of Illinois Chicago and Oakton Community College

Dick Simpson, former Chicago alderman, professor emeritus and former head of the Department of Political Science at the University of Illinois Chicago

Kari Lydersen, journalist and assistant professor at the Medill School of Journalism at Northwestern University

Monroe Anderson, political writer and former press secretary to Eugene Sawyer

Daniel Bliss, assistant professor of political science at the Illinois Institute of Technology

Dennis Judd, professor emeritus at the University of Illinois Chicago

TUE., SEP 12: Jonathan Eig on his new book King: A Life

  • “The definitive biography of King…. Eig’s book is worthy of its subject.” — New York Times
  • “The most compelling account of King’s life in a generation.” — Washington Post
  • “Eig has created 2023’s most vital tome.” — Philadelphia Inquirer

WHEN: Tuesday, September 12, 2023; 6-7:15 p.m.
WHERE: Harold Washington Public Library, 400 S. State St, Chicago IL 60605

COST: Free, open to the public, no need to register

ABOUT THE BOOK: King: A Life is the first major biography in decades of Martin Luther King Jr.—and the first to include recently declassified FBI files. In this revelatory portrait of the preacher and activist who shook the world, Eig presents an intimate view of the courageous and often emotionally troubled man who demanded peaceful protest for his movement but was rarely at peace with himself.

In this landmark biography, Eig gives us an MLK for our times: a deep thinker, a brilliant strategist, and a committed radical who led one of history’s greatest movements—and whose demands for racial and economic justice remain as urgent today as they were in his lifetime.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Jonathan Eig is a former writer for the Wall Street Journal. He’s the New York Times bestselling author of Ali: A Life; Luckiest Man: The Life and Death of Lou Gehrig; and Opening Day: The Story of Jackie Robinson’s First Season. Ken Burns calls Eig “a master storyteller.”

This program is part of the Chicago Public Library’s “Voices for Justice” Speaker Series, which highlights issues of social justice.


“Winesburg, Illinois – Short Story Collections About Small Towns”

WHAT: Three authors discuss their short story collections about small towns in Northern Illinois  — both real and imaginary — and the importance of a sense of place.

WHO: Janice Deal, author of “Strange Attractors: The Ephrem Stories,” Christina Marrocco, author of “Addio, Love Monster,” and Ryan Elliott Smith, author of “Fly Over This: Stories from the New Midwest.” Moderator: Newcity critic and SMA board member Mary Wisniewski

WHEN: Tuesday, October 17. 6-7 p.m. for cocktails, 7-8 p.m. for program.

WHERE: Cliff Dwellers’ Club, 200 S. Michigan Ave., 22nd Floor Penthouse.

COST: Free and open to all. $5 suggested donation. Books for sale, provided by Madison Street Books.

Printers Row Lit Fest, Sept. 9-10

Members of the Society of Midland Authors will be signing and selling their books Saturday, Sept. 9, and Sunday, Sept. 10, at our tent at the Printers Row Lit Fest — the largest free outdoor literary event in the Midwest. The festival takes place along Dearborn Street between Ida B. Wells Drive and Polk Street in Chicago’s Printers Row neighborhood. For more details, see printersrowlitfest.org.

Members can reserve and pay for booth space for Printers Row here.

We will post a detailed schedule of author appearances as we get closer to the event.

TUE., APR 11: Panel on Children’s Literature with Keir Graff at The Cliff Dwellers

Join us for our April panel on children’s literature!

Four award-winning authors discuss children’s literature, new books, and writing for young readers—from picture books to middle-grade to young adult.

WHAT: What’s new in children’s literature

WHO: Zetta Elliott, James Klise, Natasha Tarpley, and Keir Graff

WHEN: Tuesday, April 11, 2023; cocktails 6-7 p.m. and program 7-8 p.m.

WHERE: The Cliff Dwellers, 200 S Michigan Ave., 22nd floor penthouse

COST: Free & open to all; $5 donation suggested

Bookish Chicago will be on-site selling books. Authors are available to sign.


Zetta Elliott is a Black feminist poet, playwright, and author of forty books for young readers, including the award-winning picture books Bird and A Place Inside of Me and the bestselling middle-grade fantasy series Dragons in a Bag. Her essays have appeared in Blavity, The Huffington Post, and Publishers Weekly. Her own imprint, Rosetta Press, generates culturally relevant stories that center youth who have been marginalized, misrepresented, and/or rendered invisible in traditional children’s literature. She lives in Chicago. www.zettaelliott.com

James Klise’s new YA novel, I’ll Take Everything You Have (Algonquin), is a queer coming-of-age crime story set in 1934 Chicago. In a starred review, Kirkus promises “passionate, cinematic scenes” and “a thrillingly queer adventure.” Publishers Weekly calls the book “an arresting narrative… and a mesmerizing snapshot of 1930s Chicago.” James’s previous novels for teens include the Edgar Award-winning The Art of Secrets and the ALA Stonewall Honor-winning Love Drugged. He lives with his husband in Chicago, where for the past two decades, he has overseen a very busy high school library. jamesklise.com.

As an acclaimed and bestselling children’s book author, who has been writing for over 20 years, Natasha Tarpley is the author of the classic picture book, I Love My Hair!, an ode to Black childhood and natural beauty, as well as Keyana Loves Her Family, which is book one of a new picture book series featuring Keyana McGee, a little girl with BIG ideas. Other titles include the award-winning picture book, The Me I Choose To Be; the social justice-themed middle grade mystery, The Harlem Charade; and a forthcoming supernatural middle-grade series, Finders & Seekers. Natasha is also the writer and co-creator of the award-winning children’s narrative podcast, Opal Watson: Private Eye (Pinna.fm), and is currently developing new children’s podcast and television projects with major media outlets. natashatarpleywrites.com

IN CONVERSATION WITH KEIR GRAFF: Keir is the author of funny and fantastical middle-grade adventure novels including The Tiny Mansion, The Phantom Tower (a Chicago Tribune Best Children’s Book), The Matchstick Castle (an official Illinois Reads selection), and the forthcoming Minerva Keen’s Detective Club with James Patterson. He also writes books for grown-ups—some of them under fake names! A longtime resident of Chicago, he lives near the shore of Lake Michigan with his wife Marya, sons Felix and Cosmo, and cats Toothless and Totoro. keirgraff.com

TUE., MAR 14: Distilled in Chicago with David Witter at The Cliff Dwellers

Join us for March’s’s Society of Midland Authors event at The Cliff Dwellers.

David Witter explores how liquor has influenced nearly two centuries of Chicago’s existence.

WHATDistilled in Chicago: A History
WHO: David Witter in conversation with Gerry Plecki
WHEN: Tuesday, March 14, 2023; cocktails 6-7 p.m., and program 7-8 p.m.
WHERE: The Cliff Dwellers, 200 S Michigan Ave., 22nd floor penthouse

COST: Free & open to all; $5 donation suggested

ABOUT THE BOOK: From the mash in pioneer stills to the Malört in a hipster’s shot glass, David Witter explores how liquor has influenced nearly two centuries of Chicago’s existence. Follow the trickle of alcohol through Chicago’s history, starting with the town’s first three permanent businesses: The Wolf, Green Tree, and Eagle Exchange Taverns. Stir together stories from the Peoria Whiskey Trust and the Temperance Movement. The cocktails that lubricated the Levee District may have set up Chicago’s first gangsters, but Prohibition-era bootleggers would change the city’s identity forever. Post-Prohibition alcohol helped to create vast fortunes for Chicago based families and corporations, and the new Millennium saw KOVAL usher in a new era small and craft distilleries throughout Chicagoland. Sample a spirited history of the Windy City.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: David Witter is a Chicago-based author who has written four books on Chicago history: Oldest Chicago I, Oldest Chicago II, Chicago Magic: A History of Stagecraft and Spectacle, and his latest, Distilled Chicago: A History (The History Press, 2022). His writing on Chicago has appeared in many publications, including New City, the Chicago Reader, and the Washington Post.

IN CONVERSATION WITH GERRY PLECKI: Gerry Plecki currently serves as SMA president. He received his Ph.D. from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign in 1979 and was awarded an NEH Post-Doctoral Fellowship at New York University. He has written articles on music and film criticism. His previous books were Robert Altman, which was an authoritative analysis of the director’s films, and Singing in the Rain: The Definitive Story of Woodstock at Fifty, which was published in July 2019. His latest book, Test Positive: Surviving COVID-19 in the Reign of Trump, was published on October 17, 2020.

More information at MidlandAuthors.org


SAT, APR 22: Enjoy a night of “Tea & Cookies & Murder” at Volumes

Enjoy a night of “Tea & Cookies & Murder” at Volumes
Join fellow book lovers in welcoming world-renowned mystery writer Ann Cleeves to the U.S.!

WHAT: A night of Tea and Cookies and Murder

WHO: Mystery writer Ann Cleeves with Lori Rader-Day and Sara Paretsky

WHEN: Saturday, April 22, 6:30 p.m.

WHERE: Volumes Bookcafe; 1373 N Milwaukee Ave; Chicago, IL 60622

COST: Free; books available for purchase

Tickets are FREE, and books will be available on-site at the time of the event. If there is a specific Cleeves, Rader-Day, or Paretsky book you’d like to reserve, you can do so by ordering on the Volumes website.

ANN CLEEVES is the multi-million-copy bestselling author behind three hit television series—Shetland, starring Douglas Henshall; Vera, starring Academy Award Nominee Brenda Blethyn; and The Long Call, starring Ben Aldridge—all of which are watched and loved in the United States. All three are available on BritBox. The first Shetland novel, Raven Black, won the Crime Writers’ Association Gold Dagger for best crime novel, and Ann was awarded the CWA Diamond Dagger in 2017. She was awarded the OBE in 2022 for services to reading and libraries. Ann lives in the United Kingdom.

LORI RADER-DAY is the Edgar® Award-nominated and Agatha, Anthony, and Mary Higgins Clark award-winning author of Death at Greenway, The Lucky One, Under a Dark Sky, The Day I Died, Little Pretty Things, and The Black Hour. She lives in Chicago, where she is co-chair of the mystery readers’ festival Midwest Mystery Conference (fka Murder and Mayhem in Chicago) and served as 2019-2020 national president of Sisters in Crime. She teaches creative writing for Northwestern University’s School of Professional Studies.

SARA PARETSKY revolutionized the mystery world in 1982 when she introduced V.I. Warshawski in Indemnity Only. By creating a detective with the grit and smarts to take on the mean streets, Paretsky challenged a genre in which women historically were vamps or victims. V.I. struck a chord with readers and critics; Indemnity Only was followed by twenty more V.I. novels. While Paretsky’s fiction changed the narrative about women, her work also opened doors for other writers. In 1986 she created Sisters in Crime, a worldwide organization to advocate for women crime writers, which earned her Ms. Magazine’s 1987 Woman of the Year award. More accolades followed: the British Crime Writers awarded her the Cartier Diamond Dagger for lifetime achievement; Blacklist won the Gold Dagger from the British Crime Writers for best novel of 2004, and she has received the honorary degree of Doctor of Letters from a number of universities.