Welcome to week twenty-nine of the #WritersQuick5 series - where we learn about writing from fellow writers.
This week brings you insights from Geralyn Hesslau Magrady, a poet, essayist and novelist. Gerayln’s first self-published book LINES, a story of Chicago historical fiction, made Geralyn the winner of the Soon to be Famous Illinois Author Project, an initiative sponsored by the Illinois Library Association (ILA) and Reaching Across Illinois Library Systems (RAILS). Geralyn is currently in the research and outline phase for a sequel to LINES.
LINES and her chapbook, ONE THING LEADS TO ANOTHER are both currently available to purchase on Amazon. When Geralyn isn’t writing, she’s serving in one of the world’s most honorable professions… she’s a teacher!
Let’s see what Geralyn has to say...
Question #1 - Where do you write and why do you write there?
Hands down, my writing "home" is a coffee house called the Friendly Coffee Lounge (Berwyn, IL). It's one of three services offered by the Friendly Music Community (the other services are a live-music venue/bar next to the coffee house and a music school upstairs). I'm proud to be one of the first coffee regulars, spending much of my summers in the back corner. I write here because it's a place where I can exist in the role of Writer instead of Mom or Teacher. There's a creative and welcoming vibe at Friendly, unlike sterile spaces I'd visited in the past. Words and images "happen" here for me, as they do for the local musicians who frequently grab a guitar off the wall and start strumming a tune. I owe a lot to this community because they support and inspire me every day. (http://www.friendlymusic.community)
Question #2 - What is unique about writing for your particular genre?
I love Chicago. Writing Chicago historical fiction allows me to explore the city's past and imagine what life could have been like for my main character, who, by the way, takes her name and background from my great-great grandmother. The real Livia Haas lived during the time periods in which I write, so even though the stories I pen are completely fabricated, I feel a personal connection to her with good reason.
Question #3 - What are some of your grammar or punctuation pet peeves?
As a high school English teacher, I still use the Oxford comma.
Question #4 - At what point in your writing process do you start to bring other people in to review your work?
Late. No one saw my first draft of LINES— until there was a complete story. Even then, after two or three readers, it took a couple more years and countless revisions before new eyes came in. However, once the final draft was nearing, I went through three more rounds of readers. I was shocked at how much I enjoyed this critique stage. I learned a lot about my story, my style, and my writing habits. (Notice the Oxford comma.)
Question #5 - What advice would you give to a new writer about the writing process?
Be an active, as well as avid, reader. Take notes, ask questions, analyze an author's tone or a character's dialogue. Highlight a moving passage or clever play on words. Notice detail. It's when I set time aside for reading that I find myself most productive in writing.
Thank you Geralyn for these amazing answers. And I love the advice to be an avid reader. It’s so true. Reading can not only provide great examples for great writing, but can also spark creativity and serve as built in role models for all of us -- if they can do it, so can you!
PS… the past couple years my friends and I have been doing a mini-competition of trying to each read 52 books a year. The past two years I’ve hit my goal (or gone over). This year I’m way behind. I have to get back to it!
Please be sure to check out Geralyn’s website and books on Amazon. You can also follow her on Facebook and on Twitter.
If you would like to be featured as a writer in the #WritersQuick5 series, please just reach out and let me know. I’d love to promote your work as well!
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