A life-long writer, I have been a journalist, editor, publisher, and science writer, as well as a diplomat and a public relations and marketing practitioner.
My writing career began at the age of 9 when I started writing on ships, and then later moved into science fiction and short stories. By high school, my writing evolved into edgy fiction, poetry, and essays. I was an editor of our high school literary magazine, won the New York Times Award for Literary Excellence (much to the chagrin of my fellow editors, who saw me as a maverick, which admittedly I was), and went on to eventually, somewhat by accident, become a reporter writing for two different weeklies, the Ulster County Townsman and Woodstock Times (and was assistant editor of the latter) while, by then, living in Upstate New York.
When I moved from Woodstock to Key West, the first job I turned down was at the local daily. “You won’t want to work for what we pay,” the interviewer (and star reporter for the paper) told me. He was right, even at my low salary expectations. Work as a short-order cook at HoJo’s paid better, and later I went on to found my own weekly features publication, Key West Alive, which, by the time we stopped publishing, had gained the largest readership in the Keys.
I found myself working in a field for which I had absolutely no formal training, so decided to go to graduate school and find out what I didn’t know. I was admitted to the College of Journalism and Communication at the University of Florida and learned all sorts of good stuff about this profession I had been practicing. It wasn’t the cakewalk I was expecting, but getting that Masters in Mass Communication degree – along with a certificate in African Studies – remains one of the best things I’ve ever done.
I then went from a being a reporter at a Gannett weekly in Central Florida, The Tribune, to the choice position of Science Writer at the sister daily TODAY (the model for USA TODAY, and now FLORIDA TODAY), primarily covering the space program at Kennedy Space Center and Canaveral Air Force Station. I was following in the footsteps of the paper’s renowned aerospace and science writers, and it was a great honor and lots of fun covering the Space Shuttle program and civilian and military launches at KSC and Canaveral Air Force Station, as well as a range of science topics.
One thing that always sustained me as a journalist was writing all sorts of different kinds of pieces when I had the chance. These included theater and art reviews, feature stories about interesting personalities, some world-renowned (including many of the guys who walked on the moon), some not, humor, poetry, and whatever else appealed. At times this included actually launching a weather rocket from Cape Canaveral and flying into a tropical storm on a NOAA storm-hunter plane. I think at times this approach was instrumental in preserving my sanity.
By this time I recognized that I am a shameless publicity whore. Seeing my byline on the front page fed this need almost daily, and I still love seeing my byline wherever it appears.
Journalism led into public relations when I founded and headed ITech International, and I subsequently won the Golden Image Award, the top award of the Florida Public Relations Association, for a global public information campaign I planned and ran for Europe’s largest aerospace group and the German space agency. Public relations then led into diplomacy, and I served as a U.S. diplomat for 11 years, with postings in Fiji, Algeria, Washington (covering the Middle East as an intel analyst), Albania, and Brazil. Writing was a big part of both PR and diplomacy.
More recently, I taught both creative writing and journalism at the university level. I’ve enjoyed being able to impart my professional skills and knowledge as well as my journalistic ethical standards, derived at a time when these things actually mattered, to students.
I continue to write non-fiction, having recently published Buying America the Right Way, a book aimed at overseas real estate investors, with several other projects in the works. I also speak out on a variety of topics with my essays and commentaries. Meanwhile, I have taken on my fiction writing in a more serious way, moving from short stories and vignettes to now writing novels. Be sure to visit my fiction site, Stoned Cherry, to see some of my fiction. I also bring my writing and editing skills to bear when assisting other writers with their editing needs.
I hope you find this site interesting and you’ll subscribe, comment, and come back frequently. I also welcome your direct contact.