I had the privilege of participating in an online interview with Kelly Fumiko Weiss. Check it out here, and spend some time on this site to learn about Kelly and other writers.
Deborah Kadin from the Wednesday Journal came to the Friendly Coffee Lounge to interview me about Lines-- and the Soon to be Famous Illinois Author award. The online piece can be found here! It's still an amazing ride, and I promise to write a real blog post in the near future! As always, thanks for your support!
I am truly proud of this interview, and I am honored to be included in this respected literary blog. Thanks, Evanston Public Library! And special thanks to Russell Johnson for reaching out, reading the book, and asking some great questions!
In the first part of the book, Jake Mulholland is a college broadcasting student from Pittsburgh. He’s an average guy who comes from a loving family, and like most average guys from loving families, he has hangups—with his father, especially, and with his father’s voice, specifically. Author David W. Berner describes “voice” from the onset of the story, effortlessly placing the reader in an era of 1970s radio. One doesn’t need to have radio background to grasp the intricacies of a station, due to the author’s conversational style and masterful detail. Furthermore, the audience might not even know it desires a connection to this world, but once Berner’s intelligent music references and subtle time-period elements surface, the reader can’t help but get addicted.
Jake is in a relationship with the likable Sarah, but he questions love and all it has to offer. Ridden with guilt from family history as well as the decisions he makes as a college student, Jake accepts his self-inflicted shame and simply lives with the stigma rather than dealing with it. Such an indiscretion can only lead to a downward spiral, which it does in the second half of the book where themes of loss, redemption, and second chances come to view. Berner finally sheds light on Jake in the only way the main character could possibly emerge from the darkness—behind the microphone.
I highly recommend Night Radio, David W. Berner’s first published work of fiction. His knack for weaving musical and literary nuances throughout the story will have any middle-aged reader reaching for an old record album or classic book collection. Berner also uses a stripping motif that readers might take as just one part of the hippie trinity of sex, drugs, and rock ’n’ roll; however, for this reader, it serves as a symbol for ones need to bare the soul, to be exposed in order to face demons and move forward. Through Jake, the author also writes with wisdom, as can be seen in the line, “Maybe we are simply defined by what we are trying to be, not what we are at any given moment—slaves to our own visions and whatever the gods are asking us to discover.”
I am a fan of Berner’s memoirs, but I look forward to more fiction from this award-winning author. You should, too!
Night Radio is available at Amazon.com.
- Geralyn Hesslau Magrady
First, my speech for the Soon To Be Famous Illinois Author Project announcement event has been shared in the Illinois Library Association's Reporter.
Don't forget about the Printers Row Lit Fest (6/12, 10am-2pm, Tent A) and the Berwyn Library's July Book Club that will read LINES—!
Stay tuned for a couple of online literary interviews, too.
I'm writing a musician interview blog for the Friendly Music Community! What a great way to give back to a community that has embraced and supported my writing endeavors! I hope you check out the latest post about Oak Park's, Terry White. It's a true honor to be able to meet these talented artists. If you live in the area, stop by the Friendly Tap for local live music at night, or come visit me in the Friendly Coffee Lounge in the morning because...
I'm working on ideas for Book Two! That's right! Livia's story is begging for more, and I've got some outlining and research to start. There's no better place to do that than my "happy place."
Between my sons' sports' leagues and camps, driver's ed, and a weeklong youth service project, I hope to schedule a few road trips to libraries along Route 66. I'm not sure how that will pan out, but I'm crossing my fingers that I can pull it off.
Summer is almost here, and I have a feeling it's going to be over before I know it! So much to be grateful for!
One Month Later
I don't know where to begin. The thrill of April 14, 2016 has remained in my thoughts, as reminders continue to pass through my daily life, usually through emails—invitations to author fairs and book clubs, requests for appearances and interviews, a press release, a Q&A document. I'm still in amazement that this literary interest is being pointed at ... me! I printed up new "STBF 2016 Winner" stickers for the books that are sold directly through me. I had business cards designed to show my new title. I met with the movers and shakers of the STBF committee and RAILS reps at a social event in the city, and it is there that I learned about the vision and plan to bring this contest to other states and encourage publishing companies to get on board. Someone pinch me!
And did I mention that the RAILS (Reading Across Illinois Library Systems) organization ordered a ton of my books to give out at Book Expo America at McCormick Place last week, and they passed them out as promotional gifts to spread the word about the STBF project? I'm blown away!
So, it's one month later, and summertime is a breath away. I look forward to visiting as many libraries as possible, participating in the Printer's Row Lit Fest, meeting with the Berwyn Library book clubs, and getting back to my table at Friendly Coffee Lounge to start sketching out all the character and plot ideas that are waking me up at night... Yes, Livia is talking to me again, and apparently, the more I learn about the history of the towns down Route 66 (I've got a couple of road trips in mind), my protagonist is guiding me in directions I never knew existed! Stay tuned!
On 4/14/2016, Geralyn Hesslau Magrady was named the 2016 Winner of the Soon to be Famous Illinois Author Project! Learn more about the novel, LINES—! Be sure to check out the NOVEL tab for more photos! WOW!!!
I promise to get a real blog post up here soon, but I've got some crazy cool stuff going on right now, and here's the latest: LINES— was just announced as a finalist in the Soon To Be Famous Illinois Author Project! So excited and appreciative to have such a wonderful opportunity!
My poem "Seven Steps" was published on the Autumn Sky Poetry DAILY website! Check it out!
LINES-- is a semi finalist for the Soon To Be Famous Illinois Author Project
It’s been a week since the book release celebration, and I’m honestly still in awe of the day. As for the numbers—about seventy people came through the door between 10a.m.-noon; all thirty books I had on hand were sold (still available online); with 20% of novel sales donated to the Friendly School of Folk Music, I wrote a $90 check; my only eight poetry chapbooks were sold; five giveaway bags were raffled off; if this wasn’t the Friendly Coffee Lounge’s highest sales day, it had to come close; countless smiles and hugs were shared.
It’s been a week since the book release celebration, and WOW! Days before the event, I started hearing from people who bought the book online, finished it, and wanted to tell me how much they enjoyed it. There were specific things they liked—for one it was the imagery and descriptive language, for another it was the historically accurate details, and others just connected with the characters as if Livia could have been an ancestor of their own. These readers didn’t have to comment. I didn’t know they had purchased the book in the first place, and if they didn’t care for the story or my writing, they didn’t have to reach out at all... but they did. Will every reader feel the same? Of course not. But at least I knew that some readers had positive things to say. That feedback put me at ease when heading into the book release party, because the product being celebrated turned out to be a compelling read to more eyes than my own.
It’s been a week since the book release celebration, and I still find myself looking back at all the pictures. Not that I ever question my blessings, but if I did, this event would have put things in perspective for me. And it wasn’t just the people whose physical presence was with me; there were texts, private Facebook messages, emails, snail-mail cards. I didn’t realize how many folks actually followed my writing endeavors and supported them. Saying "thank you" feels trivial in comparison to the depth of gratitude behind those words. Maybe if I capitalize the letters, it'll make a bigger impact, so here goes--
The Madrigal Sings
Good news: Two of my poems were accepted for publication in The Write City Magazine, an e-zine of the Chicago Writers Association. Now, isn’t that a jumpstart to the new year! Both of these poems, “Winter Solace” and “Autumn’s Myth” are written in the English madrigal form, a form with which I was unfamiliar until 2014 when I participated in a Poem A Day (PAD) Challenge, organized by Writer’s Digest. The only way I can describe my connection with the madrigal is to recall the sense one gets when meeting a person for the first time and feeling you’ve known him/her forever. That’s how I connect with this poetic pattern, and when I sit to write a madrigal, an old soul’s voice resonates in my mind.
The 13-lined format, developed by Geoffrey Chaucer, is made up of a tercet, a quatrain, and sestet with every line written in iambic pentameter. The lines within the first stanza (the tercet) are used as refrains. Here is the pattern:
When I posted my poem “You” (which later became “Rain”) on the WD discussion board, three participants commented on the lyrical element of my piece. I was ecstatic that others heard it, that it wasn’t just me who felt the song I created through this form.
I like to experiment with writing genres, and when it comes to poetry, I enjoy the experience of new forms, but I think I’ll always return to the madrigal. Last night, as a winter storm was revving its engine, I came up with the poem “Hope” and linked it to a beautiful photo by the talented Robin L. Rolder. (I shared it here.) I hope you, too, will try your hand at the madrigal. If you do, please share in the comments! Happy Writing!
As I reflect on 2015, I see many blessings in my life:
But I have to admit that 2015 brought melancholic times as well:
So, what’s in store for the upcoming year? Well, I’ve never been one for resolutions, but I’ve been thinking a lot about a TED Talk I watched a short time ago that presented a 21-day approach to “creating lasting positive change.” I was unfamiliar with TED Talks until a fellow writer posted this on her blog. I watched the full 12+ minute video, and there was something about the speaker, Shawn Achor, and information that made me smile. I jotted down his five daily tasks, and that was that. I never went back to the list—until now.
You’ll notice a new tab on this website called “Happiness Challenge.” For the first 21 days of January, I’m challenging myself to abide by Achor’s five daily tasks:
This challenge is what I need to get back on track with happiness and health, which can’t help but have a ripple effect on my personal and professional lives, as well as my writing hobby. What do you think? Wanna join me?
As always, thanks for your support!
(FYI: I’m thrilled that Traci was the recipient of my first giveaway, but her Ted Talk post was not the reason for her winning. Thanks again, Traci!)
Sign on the LINES--
Well, the book is published. I think of that as a personal milestone, but the public part of this experience is just beginning, and I’m trying to take it all in stride. I have to admit that I’ve been uneasy when asked to sign a copy. Seriously, Mom? Those who are asking for signatures are people I’ve known for years, and in my mother’s case, my entire life! I never imagined that I’d feel uneasy, but I do.
I have to keep reminding myself of an article I read about the transition from personal writing to public sharing. The author said something along the lines that no matter the praise or criticism we receive, a writer should take pride in the accomplishment of writing a book, that it’s okay to be proud, even if we acknowledge that next time we might do things differently or that we hope to get better at the craft. In making the decision to let go and publish a book-length work, we need to accept the fact that people are going to read it, and good or bad... YOU WROTE A BOOK!
It’s easier with strangers. I randomly picked a G-Lines subscriber winner, so Traci Walker was notified, and I chuckled when I saw her tweet her joy. She’s tweeting about LINES—? I signed her copy, packaged it, and went to the post office. Did I just send out a giveaway novel? Ha! I wrote a book! The anxiety subsided for a moment and was replaced with a hint of excitement. Embrace this like you’ve embraced every step of the writing journey, Geralyn.
So, now what?
I haven't posted since writing a short reflection on Thanksgiving morning, and that's because my teaching and parenting lives have been quite busy. I have, however, dedicated a couple hours each weekend to book revisions. This coming weekend is no exception. With the final proof in my hands, I'm making the last of my necessary edits, and if CreateSpace and Amazon.com are timely, I'm looking at December 18 as the projected release date. YIKES! Just in time for Christmas? Fingers are crossed!