Category Archives: News

AAW’s Dorothy Tofte made many ripples

Anyone who had the pleasure of knowing Dorothy doesn’t need me to tell them how kind and gentle and generous and compassionate she was.

She also made ripples.

As people, we all change the world around us, at least a little.

We create ripples.

Dorothy Tofte

Dorothy Tofte

Some of us are Earth-shakers, and our ripples spread out and around and through history. And those ripples may be good or ill.

Most of us create more modest ripples. We have an impact on family and perhaps a few friends, possibly a co-worker or even a stranger now and then. Please understand, these modest, everyday, just-plain-folk ripples are an integral part of the societal oceans we inhabit, and without them we’re just isolated islands or bits of aimless driftwood. They’re essential, but modest.

And then…

…then there are a special few. Those whose ripples appear quiet and unassuming. They may come from people pleasant enough, kind even, but we may believe those ripples are certain to be short-lived and absolutely will not travel far.

Don’t be fooled. When created by those special few, those deceptively quiet ripples can go on and on and on.

I first met Dorothy in 1981 or ’82 when I was asked to take over an adult writing class she attended semester after semester. We hit it off—of course, she hit it off with everyone!—and she eventually invited me to be her guest at a writers group (ripples).

This wonderful group (two groups, in fact: Allied Authors and Fictioneers) included literary agent Larry Sternig as well as a host of other local literary luminaries. Larry offered to represent my fiction and garnered me my first appearance in a hard cover book (ripples). A few years later, health issues prompted him to offer me a partnership in the agency (ripples), and I took over the agency when Larry passed away in 1999 (ripples).

As an agent, I have had the pleasure of “starting” the publishing careers of nearly a dozen brand-new writers, and while they may have found an agent elsewhere and that agent may have sold their initial books and those sales may have been to the same publishers and may have entertained the same readers, Dorothy played a very real part in launching those writers’ careers (ripples).

Years ago, I invited a lifelong friend to join the Allied Authors of Wisconsin (the two groups had merged into one), and he has become a pivotal member. (Needless to say, he and Dorothy hit it off too).  He took upon himself the task of chronicling the group’s history, members past and present, publishing accomplishments and the group’s place in Wisconsin’s rich literary legacy.

He recently collected and collated the papers and history of Wisconsin’s renowned children’s book writer, Betty Ren Wright, and presented it to the state historical society, and he is doing similar work for other writers. If Dorothy had not invited me, I could not have invited him, and this treasury of information may well have been lost.


I have absolutely no doubt that Dorothy’s life above and beyond the narrow confines of my contact with her created other ripples. Ripples in the lives of her fellow nurses and healthcare professionals. Ripples in her patients’ lives, the lives of staff and her fellow residents at the Congregational Home, and doubtless uncounted ripples in the lives of complete strangers…anyone seeing her kind, always-smiling face could not help but smile in return and have a better day for it.

We are all the richer for having known her.

Dorothy Tofte passed away Nov. 19, 2014. Read the obituary here.

Jack Byrne contributed this article. 

AAW will miss beloved member Filomena Lea

Filomena Lea

Filomena Lea

Filomena Lea, a wife, mother, news reporter, published writer of fiction and personal experiences, a teacher of writing, has passed away, and we members of the Allied Authors of Wisconsin will miss her tremendously.

Filomena was a focused, hard-working woman who got the job done. She was also kind and considerate and helped those less fortunate. She passed away on July 25, 2014, at the age of 84.

I miss you, Filomena. I miss so very much, my dear friend.

Maureen Mertens contributed this article.

Allied Authors mourn the loss of Betty Ren Wright

Betty Ren Wright, a longtime member and very dear friend of the Allied Authors of Wisconsin, passed away Dec. 31, 2013, at the age of 86. The full obituary is available in The Journal Times of Racine.

Betty Ren Wright (seated in the middle) surrounded by fellow members of Allied Authors at a recent meeting she hosted.

Betty Ren Wright (seated in the middle) surrounded by fellow members of the Allied Authors of Wisconsin.

Friends and family members have left their sentiments in the newspaper’s online guestbook, which includes this message by AAW member Jack Byrne:

“I was doubly blessed in that I enjoyed both a business relationship and personal friendship with Betty Ren. From our first meeting in the mid ’80s right through our last telephone call in mid-December, she was one of the kindest, warmest and most giving people I’ve ever met.

“Dedicated to writing and writers, she hosted a recent meeting of the Wisconsin Allied Authors, generously sharing both her home and her creative and professional acumen with other members. A Writer even then, as health issues quietly loomed for her, she shared her ideas and plans for a new book. While that book shall remain unfinished, Betty Ren’s life was a masterpiece filled with life, love, family, lasting friendships, personal losses, professional successes and the adoration of the countless children worldwide who devoured her many books.

“We will miss her.”

More information about Betty Ren is available in this announcement. A bibliography of her many books is available here.

Exciting debut of new children’s adventure hero

A novel little book with the odd title The Pajamazon Amazon vs The Goofers Twofers popped into my procurement window on the website (of all places).

An intriguing little goodie, I thought, and here is its synopsis:

“V.V. never gets any good presents from her grandma. And the ugly FOOTY pajamas that arrive for her seventh birthday are the worst! So imagine V.V.’s surprise when the PJs turn out to be magical… But will her new superpowers be enough to stop a couple of troublemakers whose fun and games go too far? As the Pajamazon Amazon, V.V. must find a way to rid her neighborhood of the Goofers Twofers — and do it without getting herself into trouble too.”

The Pajamazon Amazon vs The Goofers Twofers by David and Stephanie Williams

The Pajamazon Amazon vs The Goofers Twofers by David and Stephanie Williams

The cover art by Alyssa Riegert (BrownBoots Interactive) was equally compelling, so I sent the reasonable $6 plus postage into the ether and within days received a handsome trade-sized paperback written for second- and third-grade readers as well as their parents.

But, of course, Stephanie and David Williams belong to Allied Authors of Wisconsin. Moreover, all AAW members have been following their progress since the project officially kicked off in March of 2012 — “officially” because in a singular fashion, the Pajamazon Amazon concept had its inception years earlier, when the authors would get their infant daughter, Gwendolyn, ready for bed by putting on her onesie pajamas and joking about her super-hero alter ego.

Gwen, who is now eight, drew the book’s delightful set of black-and-white interiors, which fans can also see in full color at

The Pajamazon Amazon is Stephanie and David’s first attempt at co-authoring a piece of fiction and their first foray into print-on-demand/self-publishing. The couple developed the story’s plot and characters together but alternated writing the chapters — each picking the story up where the other left off.

Allied Authors members (and children’s literature experts) Fern Ramirez and Betty Ren Wright served as “beta readers.”

The Pajamazon Amazon vs The Goofers Twofers is a children’s chapter book about a girl with magical pajamas. Not unlike many iconic costumed heroes in their earliest adventures — e.g., the teenaged Spider-Man — the Pajamazon Amazon must learn an important lesson (to use her magical powers selflessly rather than selfishly) before confronting a truly squirrely threat.

The book was published through CreateSpace in December 2013 and is available at

John D. Haefele contributed this article.

Editor’s note: The Pajamazon Amazon vs The Goofers Twofers is no longer available for purchase. Here’s why.

‘Look Behind the Derleth Mythos’ makes waves

Book cover

A Look Behind the Derleth Mythos: Origins of the Cthulhu Mythos by John D. Haefele

Allied Authors of Wisconsin member John D. Haefele’s first foray into book-length literary criticism has made quite an impact.

In the months following the release of A Look Behind the Derleth Mythos: Origins of the Cthulhu Mythos — Haefele’s study of August Derleth’s contributions to H.P. Lovecraft’s shared system of lore — the book has received a number of positive and balanced reviews, including some early praise from literary critic Don Herron.

According to Herron, “(Haefele) is taking on the almost thankless task of defending Derleth, whipping post for recent generations of Lovecraft scholars, and does a great job of it…”

“Thankless” might be putting it mildly, in light of one scathing review written by leading Lovecraft scholar S.T. Joshi. “Lovecraft Literary Feud: S.T. Joshi Rebuts John D. Haefele,” an article by Peter Cannon in Publishers Weekly’s news blog, sums up Joshi’s reaction and links to his critique.

After several invitations from Lovecraft scholars, Haefele presented his response to Joshi’s rebuttal on Herron’s website.

However, the vast majority of feedback has been very encouraging, including these excerpts:

“Haefele cites abundant secondary sources to support his arguments, and in many cases turns the words of Derleth’s sharpest critics back against them. This book does not resolve the controversy over Derleth and his handling of the mythos, but it does present its key issues from a different and often enlightening perspective.” — Publishers Weekly

“I appreciate authors that do their research, and Haefele certainly has done that; I also appreciate writers who know how to write, and Haefele fulfills that function handily.” — Brian Leno,

“I don’t expect this book to rehabilitate Derleth in the current Lovecraftian community. It is a shot fired by a fan and full of much forgiveness, but it is well researched and well thought out. It is an ‘untimely meditation’ in Lovecraftian studies. But it gives a great intellectual history of Arkham House and the dedicated work of an individual who made sure certain cultural artifacts survived. The book is a solid contribution to scholarship about the evolution of the weird tale in America — covering not only literary efforts, but commercial ones as well. As writers our fate is bound up in the presses that publish us.” — Don Webb, New York Review of Science Fiction

A Look Behind the Derleth Mythos, published by H. Harksen Productions, can be purchased at, Barnes & Noble and

Haefele is currently working on his next book.

Haefele’s ‘Look Behind the Derleth Mythos’ now available

Book cover

A Look Behind the Derleth Mythos: Origins of the Cthulhu Mythos by John D. Haefele

A Look Behind the Derleth Mythos: Origins of the Cthulhu Mythos by John D. Haefele is now available to purchase in hardcover. The likely audience for this book will include the wide breadth of readers interested in H. P. Lovecraft and/or August Derleth as well as the “imaginary world” crowd, especially those into the Cthulhu Mythos and including role-players. As such, it will also be of interest (an important associational item) to all Arkham House and related imprint aficionados and/or collectors.

For more information and to purchase the book, visit

Bloch’s masterwork makes top five list in Wall Street Journal

Errol Morris recently included Robert Bloch’s Psycho in his “Five Best: A Personal Choice” column. The article, which focused on the critic’s five favorite tales based on true crimes, was published in the Nov. 3 edition of The Wall Street Journal.

Bloch, who specialized in crime, horror and science fiction, is best known for writing Psycho, a novel inspired by the grisly deeds of Ed Gein and the inspiration for Alfred Hitchcock film by the same name. Bloch also wrote short stories and screenplays and was a member of the Milwaukee Fictioneers, an antecedent of the Allied Authors of Wisconsin.

“People remember Hitchcock’s movie, but the book on which it is based is wonderful in its own right: deep and incredibly funny,” Morris wrote of Psycho.

Read the full feature here:

Haefele’s nonfiction gets nod from literary critic

Allied Authors of Wisconsin member John D. Haefele received some early praise for his book-length study on August Derleth’s writing within the Cthulhu Mythos of early 20th century horror writer H. P. Lovecraft. Literary Critic Don Herron recently penned his initial impressions of Haefele’s work in his blog “Up and Down these Mean Streets.”

“He’s taking on the almost thankless task of defending Derleth, whipping post for recent generations of Lovecraft scholars, and does a great job of it — in particular, he’s razor sharp on pointing out how certain otherwise respected scholars repeatedly get the facts wrong as they make their attacks on Derleth,” Herron wrote of Haefele.

Read the full article here:

Haefele’s completed work is expected to be ready in December 2012. Updates will be made on this website as they become available.

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