A little more about Marya Smith


B.A., English literature, Cornell University, College of Arts and Sciences

Professional memberships

  • ASJA (American Society of Journalists and Authors)
  • SCBWI (Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators)
  • The Authors Guild

Then and Now: A brief job history

My first job after college was as an editorial assistant at Seventeen. (Two other staffers and I were responsible for the magazine’s “Abigail Wood” advice column, writing to teen readers from our worldly twenty-something vantage points.) After moving from New York to Chicago, I joined the advertising agency N.W. Ayer as a copywriter, then joined the marketing department of the University of Chicago Press, and next joined the writing staff of a PR agency specializing in home furnishings clients.

When I finally took the plunge to become a full-time freelance writer, I returned to magazine writing, becoming a Contributing Editor for Chicago Magazine (originally Chicago Guide) and writing for others. I next moved to Ithaca, New York where I wrote for Cornell University’s communications department and taught magazine writing at my alma mater. After returning to Chicago, I became a regular contributor to a number of publications including the Chicago Tribune, the Chicago Tribune Magazine, and Salt Magazine. I also continued to write press releases and marketing copy for an ever-widening range of corporations and creative agencies.

Over the years, my journalism credits and marketing expertise have grown as I continue to freelance for consumer publications and business clients. From Ms. Magazine to Prevention.com and from insurance companies to furniture manufacturers, the lively range of freelance writing projects keeps me growing.

In addition, Little, Brown and Company published my two novels for children (middle grade and older readers). And, two of my plays – both comedies – were produced for full-length runs by Chicago theater companies.

Teaching experience

I was a Lecturer at Cornell University, teaching “Writing for Magazines” to communications majors for two semesters. I’m proud to say that over half my students had class assignment articles accepted for publication in a variety of national and regional magazines.

I’ve also taught English as a Second Language (ESL) to adult students for Highland Community College in northwestern Illinois. And as the author of novels for young people, I’ve presented classroom programs for Chicago-area schools.

Urbane writer, rural resident

As an adult, I’ve lived in New York City, Ithaca, New York, Chicago, and Oak Park, Illinois. I now live in a 19th century farmhouse in rural northwestern Illinois, an easy drive to Chicago, but in another world nonetheless.

When I’m not writing, I spend my time horseback riding (western style), collecting Victorian Majolica and vintage china, and gardening, though not at the same time.

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