What do a former Jesuit priest, former Lutheran minister, retired German language teacher, former inmate at Cook County Jail, the Wednesday Journal theater critic, and the founder of the Oak Park Area Housing Center have in common? They are among the myriad Oak Park area residents who have published at least one book. 

A few years ago, Preiser thought it would be a great idea to bring together local authors (and their books, of course) to showcase this array of local creativity. The authors thought it was a great idea, but in the two previous attempts, they outnumbered the readers. 

To remedy that, they’re moving the event from December to October and changing the location to the Oak Park Arms Ballroom, 408 S. Oak Park Ave. The Local Author Book Fair takes place from 2 to 4 p.m. this Saturday, Oct. 18. Each author will have three minutes at the mic to pitch his or her book. Refreshments will be served. Following is a still-incomplete list of the authors signed up so far and a little about them.

For more information, contact Debby Preiser at 708-697-6915 or dpreiser@oppl.org.

Theresa Amato

Italian Women in Chicago: Madonna mia! QUI debbo vivere? (You mean I have to live HERE?)

The spotlight on Italians in Chicago has always been on the men. This Casa Italia anthology is a preliminary effort to “write” that wrong. Dominic Candeloro, lead editor, recruited almost 50 contributing authors, including attorney/author Theresa Amato of Oak Park. 

Joan Bard-Collins

Honor Above All

Bard-Collins was born in Chicago and grew up in northwest Indiana. She is a partner in her husband’s Oak Park architecture/engineering company. Her debut novel is a historical mystery set in Chicago in 1882.

Stephanie Rose Bird 

A Healing Grove: African Tree Remedies and Rituals for Body and Spirit

The Big Book of Soul

Bird is the author of five published nonfiction books. Her first book, Sticks, Stones, Roots and Bones, won the COVR award for Best General Interest Book. Her debut novel, No Barren Life, will be published by Lodestone Books in 2015. Bird is an Oak Park painter and mixed media artist. She is a former professor of painting and drawing at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago. 

Jim Bowman

Company Man: My Jesuit Life, 1950-1968 

The longtime Oak Park resident and writer was the religion editor for the Chicago Daily News from 1968 to 1978. He married Winnie in 1969 and became the father of six now grown children. 

Heribert (Herb) Breidenbach 

The Honey Bee: Deborah’s Fate

Born and raised in Germany, Breidenbach came to the U.S. in 1960 at age 25 as an exchange student studying theology. He eventually earned an M.A. degree at Northwestern University and a Ph.D. in German language and literature from the University of Illinois Champaign-Urbana.  

Sean Brennan

Bridie’s Boy: A Memoir 

The 10th of 11 Brennan children, Brennan began his writing career at the dining room table in Pop’s sewing room. His stories of growing up in Chicago and Oak Park have grown into a memoir of his Irish-American boyhood in Oak Park in the 1950s and 1960s. 

Allan Cox

Change the Way You Face the Day (2013) 

When the Sun Shines Through

Cox is an advisor to corporate CEOs and their top teams. A graduate of Oak Park and River Forest High School and Northern Illinois University, he has been writing books on work and personal growth since 1973. 

Doug Deuchler

Local Legends of Oak Park

A retired teacher and librarian at Proviso East High School, Deuchler has continued his role as an educator, writing books, reviewing local plays, teaching film classes and hosting film festivals for more than a decade. Published by Arcadia Press, he has written books on Brookfield Zoo, Cicero, Berwyn, Maywood and Oak Park. 

E.C. Diskin

The Green Line

Diskin’s debut legal thriller was published in 2013 by Thomas & Mercer. He is an attorney and Oak Parker, and spent nearly a decade working with an Oak Park novel-writing group while crafting the story. A German translation of the work is scheduled for a fall 2015 release. 

Garrett Glass 

Jehoshua: Signs and Wonders

Jehoshua: Conflagration

Who Cut God’s Hair?

Glass is the author of the Jehoshua novels about early Christianity. Glass is a resident of Oak Park, IL and a former banker who has turned to writing as a second career. His third book, Who Cut God’s Hair? was published in 2013 and explores questions about God’s existence, the creation of the universe, and the nature of religion.  

William Hazelgrove

Real Santa

Hazelgrove is the bestselling author of six novels: Ripples, Tobacco Sticks, Mica Highways, Rocket Man and The Pitcher. He was the first Ernest Hemingway Writer in Residence, writing in the attic of Hemingway’s birthplace. He also writes a cultural blog, The View from Hemingway’s Attic.  

Tom Holmes

Forty Days Alone in Thailand 

An inner and outer travel chronicle by a retired Lutheran minister. His Wednesday Journal blog, “Spirituality, Ethics and Religion” can be found at OakPark.com/SpiritualityEthicsReligion 

Janis Clark Johnston

It Takes a Child to Raise a Parent: Stories of Evolving Child and Parent Development

Johnston, Ed.D., has worked as a school psychologist in public schools, a supervising psychologist at a mental health center, an employee assistance therapist and a private-practice family psychologist. She received the 2011 Founder’s Award in appreciation for her dedication to the mission of Parenthesis Family Center in Oak Park. Currently, she is a family psychologist and consultant in Oak Park. 

Richard Kordesh

Restoring Power to Parents and Places

Kordesh, Ph.D., has practiced and taught in the fields of community development and family policy for thirty-five years.  He recently completed a yearlong fellowship at the Chicago Institute for Psychoanalysis; he is broadening his work to include psychotherapy for children.

Alec Nevala-Lee

The Empire

Nevala-Lee is a novelist, blogger, and freelance writer whose work includes the thrillers The Icon Thief, City of Exiles, and Eternal Empire, all published by Penguin Books. A graduate of Harvard, he has written essays and nonfiction for the Los Angeles Times, Salon, The Rumpus, and The Daily Beast.

Janet Nolan

PB&J Hooray! 

Nolan is a picture book author who writes fiction, non-fiction, and historical fiction. She loves creating characters, imagining settings, pondering plots, and finding the right words to describe it all. Her titles include: PB & J Hooray!, The Firehouse Light, A Father’s Day Thank You, and The St. Patrick’s Day Shillelagh. Her website: janetnolan.com.

Ida Ortega

All a Woman Really Needs Is God 

Roberta Raymond

Amy and the Amaryllis 

Raymond founded the Oak Park Housing Center in 1972 and served as its director for 26 years. In retirement, she has written a one-act play on the life of Elizabeth Vigee le Brun, French artist and confidente of Marie Antoinette and served as president of the Oak Park and River Forest High School Alumni Association for 10 years. Her newest venture, a children’s book, was published by the Garden Club of Oak Park-River Forest.

Charlie Rossiter

Cold Mountain 2000: Han Shan in the City

The performance poet is the author of 15 books of poetry, including In the Spirit of T’ao Ch’ien, Meditations on Frank Lloyd Wright, and All Over America: Road Poems, published by FootHills Publications in New York. You can read his ebook at

http://www.smashwords.com/books/view/39347. His website is www.charlierossiter.com and you can go to www.poetrypoetry.com to hear poems read by poets who wrote them.

Henry L Sullivan III

Swept Away: Sheila – Episode 1

Dinner Invitation: Sheila – Episode2

Escape from New Orleans: Devin Episode 3

Empire: Victor – Episode 4 

Sullivan was born in New Orleans and came to Chicago in 1990.

Margot Toppen


Toppen is a dance educator who directs Dancing with Class (www.dancingwithclass.org), a youth outreach organization that teaches swing, ballroom and Latin dance to Chicago-area elementary kids. She tells the story of real-life 1930s Lindy Hop dancers George Snowden (“Shorty George”) and Beatrice Gay (“Big Bea”) as a way of coaching students through the awkwardness of girls often being taller than boys at this age. JITTERBUGS! and multimedia bonus materials are available through www.jitterbugsbook.com.

Emily Victorson, Allium Press

Allium Press of Chicago (based in Forest Park) was founded in 2009 as a small, independent press. They publish literary fiction, historical fiction, mysteries, thrillers, and young adult fiction, all with a Chicago connection.

Sandra Wilcoxin

Harvest Journal, Memoir of a Minnesota Farmer

Part I: 1846-1903 and Part II: 1904-1938

Wilcoxon was born in Texas, lived in Argentina as a child, and attended grade school through college in Minnesota. She didn’t even know her grandfather, Frederick A. Cummings, kept journals until she visited her grandmother for Christmas in 1996. She is also a poet and visual artist making sculpture and jewelry and has 25 years’ experience in museums, conservation, and the arts, and works as a consultant to nonprofits. Her website is www.harvestjournal.com.

Sallie Wolf

The Robin Makes A Laughing Sound: A Birder’s Journal

Wherever she goes, Wolf takes her journal, fountain pen, ink, and watercolors and records the world she sees. Her journals are a combination of an anthropologist’s field notes, a writer’s notebook, and an artist’s sketchbook. Her children’s books grow out of these journals. Her Oak Park garden is devoted to attracting birds. She also has an art studio, Calypso Moon Studio, on Harrison Street in the Oak Park Arts District.

Omar Yamini 

What’s Wrong with You: What You, Your Children and Our Students Need to Know About my 15-year Imprisonment from Age 20-35

Omar Yamini’s road to incarcerations was not paved with neglect, abuse or stints in juvenile detention. He was raised in a two-parent suburban home with five siblings. His positive home life could not detour him from poor choices that eventually landed him in an Illinois penitentiary for 15 years. His book includes his view of day-to-day prison life behind bars to warn others of what they could face if they make bad decisions. After his release from jail where he took every educational course available to him, Yamini earned a B.A. in Sociology from the University of Illinois Chicago and published this book. 

Thanks to Debby Preiser for compiling this list

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