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Local Authors from the Midwest

The best thing about being a writer is that you can do it from anywhere. The best thing about reading is that you can go anywhere through stories. Here we want to celebrate authors from around the US, and help readers find stories and authors to support. Every state has some famous faces, but we also want to focus on new authors so for each state, you will see the more well-known picks and a debut author to check out. You might find a new favorite!

If you don’t see your state, don’t worry. Check back next month for the next part of this five part series! We’ve covered the Northwest and the Southwest so far.

Debut Illinois Author: Catherine Adel West

Catherine Adel West graduated with both her BA and MA in journalism from the University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign. Her work has been published in Gay Magazine, Black Fox Literary Magazine, Five2One, Better Than Starbucks, and others. Catherine was born and raised in Chicago. Her debut novel, Saving Ruby King, which is set in Chicago, is an emotional story of two girls, one a victim of violence and the other doing everything she can to save her friend.
Saving Ruby King Book Cover
Saving Ruby King
from $3.59

Debut Indiana Author: Chris White

Chris White is an award-winning playwright and screenwriter, with an MFA in dramatic writing from NYU's Tisch School of the Arts. Her plays have been produced nationally and internationally, and her play, Rhythms, won the Helen Hayes Award for Outstanding New Play. She received an Award of Merit at the Women's Independent Film Festival for her feature-length screenplay, Weasel in the Icebox, and her short film, Mud Lotus, was an official selection at the New Hampshire, Albany, and Cincinnati Film Festivals. White is a professor of English at DePauw University teaching creative writing. She lives near the town of Bainbridge, Indiana on Big Walnut Creek. The Life List of Adrian Mandrick is her first novel.
The Life List of Adrian Mandrick Book Cover
The Life List of Adrian Mandrick
from $4.19

Debut Iowa Author: Denise Williams

Denise Williams wrote her first book in the 2nd grade. I Hate You and its sequel, I Still Hate You, featured a tough, funny heroine, a quirky hero, witty banter, and a dragon. Minus the dragons, these are still the books she likes to write. After penning those early works, she finished second grade and eventually earned a PhD in education, going on to work in higher education. After growing up a military brat around the world and across the country, Denise now lives in Des Moines, Iowa with her husband, son, and two ornery shih-tzus who think they own the house.
How to Fail at Flirting Book Cover
How to Fail at Flirting
from $4.09
The Fastest Way to Fall Book Cover
The Fastest Way to Fall
from $6.19

Debut Kansas Author: Sarah Penner

While she may no longer be a Kansas resident, Sarah Penner is our pick for this state because she was born and raised there. Sarah Penner is the debut author of The Lost Apothecary, to be translated in eleven languages worldwide. She works full-time in finance and is a member of the Historical Novel Society and the Women's Fiction Writers Association. She and her husband live in St. Petersburg, Florida, with their miniature dachshund, Zoe. To learn more, visit
The Lost Apothecary Book Cover
The Lost Apothecary
from $7.59

Debut Minnesota Author: Chris McCormick

Chris McCormick is the author of a collection of stories, Desert Boys, winner of the 2017 Stonewall Book Award. Born in 1987 and raised on the California side of the Mojave Desert, he is a graduate of the University of Michigan MFA program and now lives and teaches in Minnesota. 2020’s The Gimmicks is his first book, an epic literary fiction spanning several years beginning with 1971. His book covers three men as they move from the Soviet Union to California and unravel trauma and hardships of the past.
The Gimmicks Book Cover
The Gimmicks
from $4.29

Debut Missouri Author: Karen Sargent

Karen Sargent has a B.S. in English-Secondary Education, an M.A. in Teaching Rhetoric and Composition, and 22 years of experience teaching literature and writing at the high school and college levels. Karen lives in the beautiful Arcadia Valley with her husband and two daughters. Her debut novel Waiting for Butterflies explores the grief of a family that has lost its mother, and is perfect for fans of Debbie Macomber.
Waiting for Butterflies Book Cover
Waiting for Butterflies
from $11.89

Debut Nebraska Author: Ilana Masad

Ilana Masad is a fiction writer, essayist, and book critic whose work has appeared in The New York Times, Los Angeles Times, The Washington Post, The Paris Review, NPR , BuzzFeed , Catapult , StoryQuarterly, McSweeney's Internet Tendency, as well as several others. All My Mother's Lovers is Masad's debut novel and was published in May of 2020. Her novel explores deep family secrets being revealed.
All My Mother
All My Mother's Lovers
from $4.29

Spotlight North Dakota Author: Aagot Raaen

For North Dakota, we have a spotlight on author Aagot Raaen. While not a new author of the past few years, Raaen was mostly a short form writer of historical articles, but published three full books during her life. She was a teacher in North Dakota for much of her adult life, later becoming a superintendent. Her book Grass of the Earth: Immigrant Life in the Dakota Country is a biography of her own relatives’ lives as homesteaders in the late 1800s.

Debut Ohio Author: Genevieve Gornichec

Genevieve Gornichec earned her degree in history from The Ohio State University, but she got as close to majoring in Vikings as she possibly could, and her study of the Norse myths and Icelandic sagas became her writing inspiration. She lives in Cleveland, Ohio. The Witch's Heart is her debut novel, a fantasy featuring characters from Norse mythology, the main character a witch who has upset Odin flees only to find herself happily mixed up with and in love with Loki.
The Witch
The Witch's Heart
from $8.39

Debut South Dakota Author: Elissa Grossell Dickey

Elissa Grossell Dickey is a former journalist who now works in higher education communications. Stories have always been a big part of Elissa's life--from getting lost in a book as a child to now reading bedtime stories to her kids. As a columnist for the National MS Society, Elissa shares her personal journey of living with multiple sclerosis. Though she grew up among the lakes and trees of northern Minnesota, Elissa now lives on the South Dakota prairie with her husband and children. The Speed of Light is her first novel.
The Speed of Light Book Cover
The Speed of Light
from $4.69

Debut Wisconsin Author: Greta Kelly

Greta Kelly currently lives in Wisconsin with her husband, EJ, daughter, Lorelei, and a cat who she says may, or may not, control the weather. Her debut novel from January 2021, The Frozen Crown, is a fantasy about a princess with a dangerous secret perfect for fans of Six of Crows or The Gilded Wolves.
The Frozen Crown Book Cover
The Frozen Crown
from $4.19
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