2013-14 Winter Book Series

This winter, WNIJ continues to curate the best literature from northern Illinois and southern Wisconsin. Morning Edition host and Book Series editor Dan Klefstad invited five authors to our studios to discuss their fiction, poetry and memoirs.

New for this series was a community read of the novel Snakewoman of Little Egypt by Robert Hellenga. WNIJ invited listeners to obtain a copy  and on Nov. 16 they tweeted questions and comments to the author. We encourage you to follow WNIJ on Twitter (@wnijnews) and on Facebook and use #readwithWNIJ on both sites.

The other books in our December series are: Troy, Unincorporated by Francesca Abbate; Cabin Fever by Tom Montgomery Fate; And Then She Kissed El Paco's Lips Now! Or April in DeKalb, by Ricardo Mario Amezquita; and Cloudbreak, California by Kelly Daniels.

We hope you enjoy reading all the books in our Winter Series!

Maria Boynton

Remember when we issued a call in March for books from Illinois and Wisconsin authors? WNIJ received dozens of submissions before the April 3 deadline and, for the last month, we've been reading fiction, non-fiction and poetry from all over the region.

With some difficulty, we decided on four works that are listed below. I'll start interviewing the authors this month, and we'll present these conversations Friday mornings in June. Listen at 6:52 and 8:52, and then come back here for additional content -- including author excerpts.

When you write a novel, how much of your life experience do you give to your characters? And how much of that experience do you fictionalize?

This question came up during two panel discussions with WNIJ Book Series authors last week. One panelist, Katie Andraski, described how she transferred her experience as a publicist to her protagonist in The River Caught Sunlight.

Performance artist. Visual artist. World's Best Dishwasher.

These are just a few of the things Jesus Correa lists on his website. He also ran for Mayor of Rockford, getting nearly 400 votes in 2009.

More recently, Correa released a book of poetry after a successful Kickstarter campaign. The collection, Iced Cream, is published by Zombie Logic, a firm that bills itself as "The most dangerous small press in America."

You rise at 5:00 every morning, hoping for an hour of creativity before the kids awake. You fire up your laptop and stare at the blank Word .doc, straining to write the greatest opening line since Anna Karenina.

Bust.

Happy writers are all alike. Each unproductive writing session is unproductive in its own way.

The latest book in our 2015 Winter Book Series is a novel set during a time when evangelical authors and publishers pushed for wider recognition of books with a Christian perspective.

If you saw Ron Modell leading Northern Illinois University's Jazz Ensemble, you'll recognize the title of his memoir, Loved Bein' Here With You.

If you haven't, here's the story behind the title:

Early in his career at NIU, Modell invited trombonist Phil Wilson to perform with the ensemble. In between rehearsal sessions, Wilson heard Modell singing Peggy Lee's tune, "I Love Being Here With You," and bet $10 that Modell wouldn't have the nerve to sing it on stage:

Dan Klefstad

Ernest Hemingway. Joyce Carol Oates. John Updike. Annie Proulx.

These are just some of the writers whose work has appeared in The Best American Short Stories, an anthology of the best fiction published during a calendar year.

Dan Klefstad

This week WNIJ is highlighting shorter literary works from northern Illinois authors. Today, we welcome back Susan Azar Porterfield, who has two new poems in the Barrow Street Journal. Poems appearing in this journal often have been selected for the Best American Poetry anthology, including works by former poet laureate Billy Collins.

This Autumn, WNIJ again invites northern Illinois authors to read, and discuss, their stories. Recently, a trio of writers published shorter works that add to the growing body of quality literature from this area. To showcase these quick reads, we created our first-ever "Fall Book Bites" series. We'll welcome back Susan Azar Porterfield and Molly McNett during the next two days. Today, we'll meet G.K. Wuori, author of Infidelity, a novella.

"This is the story of a retired high school Latin teacher who murders her son-in-law."

That's what Robert Hellenga wanted on the cover of his latest novel, The Confessions of Frances Godwin.

"I felt it was necessary to give some oomph to the story," Hellenga explains. "Otherwise, the memoir of a retired Latin teacher doesn't sound too exciting."

Pages