Though I never meant to get into the news business, my career has meandered that way. I covered sailing for the sports department of the St. Petersburg (now Tampa Bay) Times for the better part of a decade. Other gigs included Sail magazine, Sailing World, and a handful of regional and specialty publications. And the online journal Scuttlebutt Sailing News.
Big lesson from journalism: nothing inspires quite as sharply as a deadline and a dangling paycheck.
Sailing magazine published an article I wrote about Frankenscot and the Everglades Challenge –– with plenty of photos –– in the June 2014 issue.
It's a proud moment when my blog gets a nice re-post in a publication like Scuttlebutt Sailing News.
I reviewed books for Publishers Weekly, and The Tampa Tribune (now also The Tampa Bay Times) and a local sailing magazine called Southwinds.
What could be better than picking up a sachel of books and then talking about which ones were great? How about –– getting paid for it?
Here are a couple of book reviews. (Please note I have nothing to do with the headlines. A whole other department is responsible for that. Bless their hearts.)
Michael Zadoorian The Leisure Seeker,
Julie Mars Anybody Any Minute
Jenna Woganrich Made From Scratch
Elizabeth Peters Laughter of Dead Kings
Tim Dorsey Nuclear Jellyfish
Sometimes a phrase a book review shows up elsewhere. In an article like this or appearing, usually without attribution, on the paperback version. Seeing my own words on the cover of a book –– even not my own book –– gives me an electric jolt of ego-gratification.
Sadly for me, the next steps of evolution in the publishing industry and changes to local newspapers have meant an end to most local book pages –– publishers aren't sending as many review copies out, and newspapers are relying more on wire-service reviews rather than home-grown opinion. Hence the growth of sites like Goodreads.com, I suppose.
In the past few years, I've focused on writing longer fiction. It's a choice that can feel both stupid and optimistic, but when you're writing a novel (I think Lawrence Block said this first, and probably more elegantly), you do wake up knowing what you're going to write about today.
Currently awaiting appropriate representation: there's a literary-fiction novel (a book-club kind of story) about the dreadful secrets that sisters can hide from one another. And a SF novella about true love set in a pre-industrial world where magic exists. Plus I have returned to work on the goose-girl story –– a YA novel that seems utterly fascinating to me right now.
Rosebud magazine published "At the Crossroads," a short story about a kid from New Jersey named Pinkie Johnson who hopes to rescue the soul of legendary bluesman Robert (no relation) Johnson back from the devil. It appears on page 99 of the April 2004 issue, though not in the Table of Contents, which makes the story kind of invisible to browsers.
The audio magazine 4'33" published a flash-fiction (under 500 words) "In Which I Propose a Handful of Questions to Three of the Citizens Who Are at Present Unable to Answer" in September 2014. The title pretty much sums up the content.
A story called "Cleaning Up" was short-listed in good company in The Fiction Desk's Newcomer Contest in February of 2015. It's a gloomy story still out there looking for a publisher.
Likewise, "Pete and Jenny at the Starlight" was short-listed on the The Fiction Desk's Newcomer Contest in July 2018.
"At My Back I Always Hear" appears in Stonecoast Review Issue 3, 2015. That title is a reference to the Andrew Marvell poem and proves the rule that, as Hemingway said, "If two people love each other, there can be no happy end to it.*"
(*from Death in the Afternoon.)
Look for "A Bedtime Story" in The Dead Mule School of Southern Literature online journal in the summer of 2019.