Dan Klefstad

Morning Edition Host & Book Series Editor

Good morning, Early Riser! Since 1997 I've been waking WNIJ listeners with the latest news, weather and other information, with the goal of seamlessly weaving this content into NPR's Morning Edition.

What do I do after the show ends at 9:00? I read. I'm especially interested in literature from the WNIJ listening area, which led me to adopt the "Book Beat" in 2012. Throughout the year, I immerse myself in works written by authors from northern Illinois and southern Wisconsin. Then I interview these writers for Morning Edition and record them reading excerpts. Interviews and excerpts are available as podcasts in our Book Series archive.

If you're a writer from this area, or have a personal connection to this place, send your book to me at 801 N. 1st St., DeKalb, IL 60115. You can also email a .doc or .pdf to dklefstad@niu.edu. I'm looking for novels, poems, short fiction, memoirs and creative nonfiction. While most of the books I feature come from established presses, I do accept self-published works. Just make sure your manuscript is well edited.




Ways to Connect

WNIJ fans know this is the place to learn about literature from northern Illinois and southern Wisconsin. And you know we maintain a growing archive of author interviews and readings.

But if you're a hard-core listener, a true WNIJ nerd, you'll want even more information to satisfy your craving for content.

This post is for you.

This week, WNIJ begins airing promos for the Winter Book Series. You can take a sneak "listen" by clicking the three audio links below:

This is a story about a meeting that was supposed to happen today, but didn't, for an arguably good reason:

House Speaker Michael Madigan needed to attend a funeral for his father-in-law, and the memorial service was out of state.

The meeting would've been the first between Madigan, Gov. Bruce Rauner and the other legislative leaders since the end of May. The group hasn't met since then to talk about the budget, or anything else really.

Next month, WNIJ will feature four books that belong on your shelf or e-reader. Three of them are by Illinois authors. One was written by an Iowa resident who used to work for Northern Public Radio.

The Winter Book Series will air Mondays in December during Morning Edition, and appear in our Book Series archive.

U.S. House Republicans continue searching for their next Speaker amid a very public family fight. The battle to succeed John Boehner is between established caucus members, who occasionally compromise with Democrats, and those who refuse all cooperation across the aisle.

This feud could've resulted in another government shutdown over federal funding for Planned Parenthood. But observers say Boehner's resignation put off any talk of a shutdown for now.

Maria Boynton

After selecting the winners for our "Three-Minute Fiction" contest, our judge picked a handful of Honorable Mentions.

Pushcart Prize-winning author GK Wuori issued our prompt last month and chose his five favorite stories out of more than 100 submissions. We broadcast the winners during Morning Edition. Wouri then selected five other writers who also got to record their stories in our studios.

Here are our videos of the five Honorable Mention authors:

Daniel Ng "Room at Pudong Shangri-La, Shanghai / (CC by 2.0)

You're invited to a party at a wealthy person's home. Somehow, you find the master bathroom and stare at a mirror that appears to double as a medicine cabinet.

Do you open it?

Think about the things you can learn about your host just by taking a peek. Of course, there might be nothing more powerful or revealing than Tylenol in there. But you'll never know without opening it.

This is the premise for "Shattered," the final story of our "Three-Minute Fiction" contest.

Jamie Lieberman w/Brenda Puska

The protagonist in our next "Three-Minute Fiction" contest is a familiar one: a retired guy who maintains an immaculate yard and relaxes with a beer after putting the tools in the shed.

While he's past middle-age, he's far from dead. Or maybe you prefer the old "there may be snow on the mountaintop" metaphor. However you put it, he likes looking at women -- especially those younger and more attractive than his wife.

His neighbor mows her lawn on Tuesdays and, lately, does so in a bikini. Our hero sips his beer and watches her, which coincides nicely with our story prompt:

"Trick or Treat" by KOMU News / Flickr

"Don't go in there!"

How many times have you screamed that during a horror movie? Despite your protests, the hapless character opens the door and steps into the dark room or basement or tunnel -- alone.

Today's "Three-Minute Fiction" story has the same premise, but you'll have to read to the end of "The Last Adventure" to see what happens to the hero.

Maria Boynton

In Greek mythology, the god Zeus orders a lesser god to create the first woman on earth. The god charged with this task, Hephaestus, makes a stunning beauty out of water and earth. Her name is Pandora and the Olympians shower her with gifts, including a mysterious jar which, through a translation error, became known as Pandora's Box.

Carl Nelson

Remember last month when we launched our first-ever contest for short fiction? We called it "Three-Minute Fiction," inspired by an NPR contest of the same name.

GK Wuori, a Pushcart-Prize winning author, issued the prompt, and agreed to be our judge. When the deadline arrived on Sept. 20, we had more than 100 submissions.