Freelance Portfolio

I’ve published hundreds of freelance pieces in newspapers, magazines, and online and I’ve included some of them here, as well as links to my books. They range from first-person essays to travel pieces to more journalistic subjects. Print samples of these and many other published pieces are available. (And I own all the reprint rights, should you publishers be hunting for piquant content.)

Write Word Books & Stories

Descriptions and links to my novels, short story collection and nonfiction
“how-to” writing book, plus a couple of story samples.

Travel

Hawaii: 7 spectacular waterfalls turn the Big Island misty

No travel out of California for me for a year and a half, so Hawaii seemed like heaven. Which it pretty much is. Eight days in the Hilo surrounds on the Big Island, including a lot of tramping about beguiling waterfalls. Published in August 2021 in the San Jose Mercury News.

Five Ways to Get Splashy in Santa Cruz

It’s no secret: Santa Cruz CA sits preening on the big, blue Pacific. There is lots to do on top of, in and under those waters. Published in June 2021 in the San Jose Mercury News.

Bay Area hikes: Devil’s Slide Trail, near Pacifica

The landslides lost are our gain: After many closings of Highway 1 over many years, the old highway was turned into a hiking trail with dazzling ocean views. And then you can go to the Louvre of Taco Bells. Published in March 2021 in the San Jose Mercury News.

Scuba Volunteers Still There for Monterey Bay Aquarium Animals Amid COVID

The Monterey Bay Aquarium has a long history of dedicated volunteerism. The COVID crisis has closed it to the public since last March, but the multitude of animals still need care. See how the dive staff and volunteers keep the lights on. Published in February 2021 by Scuba Diving magazine.

Trail Mix: San Juan Bautista hike and lunch — distanced but delightful

Goldurnit, traveling is tough these days—lucky there are some places nearby that still hold intrigue. My piece on a hike on a historic trail and lunch and street-hopping in the equally historic Mission town of San Juan Bautista. Published in January 2021 in the San Jose Mercury News.

More on Travel →

Writing

Purple Prose and the Word Surgeon’s Scalpel

Unconsciously using too many “justs,” “verys,” “actuallys,” and other fluff evildoers in your prose? Cast them out! And those big words too. (Well, not all of them. Some are fetching.) Published by the fine folks at WriterUnboxed in August 2021.

The Fictions of Our Minds

Hope this doesn’t read simply as a “woe is me” essay, when the woes of the world now have been legion. Thoughts on whether it’s been worth it pursuing writing for a living (and only catching its tail—or tale—now and then). Published by the fine folks at WriterUnboxed in May 2021.

Writing Habits: 9 No-Burnout Practices During a Recession

Ahh, 2020, a vintage year … of anxiety and wretchedness. Writers were not spared. But there are some methods to take some of the pain away, and even brighten your day. Try some! Published in December 2020 on the excellent Make a Living Writing site.

Mark Twain and My Neighbor Swap Books in Heaven

The odd and even tender connections between a dead neighbor, a first-edition Mark Twain short story and a Zen meditation class 40 years ago. Published by An Idea on Medium, November 2020.

More on Writing →

Alcohol

What One Distillery Did To Gain A New Whiskey Still With A Grand History

My piece on Stumpy’s Spirits, a small Illinois distillery that recently bought a large amount of 100-year-old still components—from Belgium, off the internet—and has reconstructed them for their own use. These guys did a whole lotta work. Published in August 2021 by the WhiskeyWash newsletter.

Scotch and Bourbon: The Essential and the Essence

Scotch and Bourbon—brothers, right? Perhaps, but definitely not twins. This looks at the differences in grains, distilling, proof and aging. Bottoms up. Published in August 2021 on the fine spirits blog known as Flaviar.

Cocktails During the Pandemic: Bitter and Sweet

Hunkering down with my galpal during the pandemic made for some fancy cocktailing, with wistfulness one of the main mixers. (After reading this again, I don’t like how overwritten the first two paragraphs feel, but it’s out there, now. Good lesson in developing crisper intros.) Published in May 2021 on The Bold Italic.

Whiskey History Revived As Leopold Bros. Goes Old School With 3-Chamber Still

A piece on a Colorado distillery that commissioned a modern still from 19th-century designs that—with great care and attention—produces whiskey with flair and flavor. Published in May 2021 by the WhiskeyWash newsletter.

Brother’s Bond: Bourbon Is Thicker Than Blood

Who knew that vampires prefer bourbon to blood? The former stars of “The Vampire Diaries,” Ian Somerhalder and Paul Wesley, make a bourbon. And they are mighty serious about it. Published in April 2021 by the WhiskeyWash newsletter.

The Whiskey Of Pennsylvania Is Something To Take Note Of

Like your whiskey mixed with your history? Here’s a piece of mine on Pennsylvania rye (and though only a bit wry, the article has some deeply distilled history). The first Penn rye guys are from way back and the new craft distillers work from there. (By the way, my suggested headline, “Catchers in the Pennsylvania Rye” was way better.) Published in March 2021 by the WhiskeyWash newsletter.

Spirits Of French Lick: Tasting History In The Whiskey

Fascinating interview with an Indiana distiller who is a warehouse’s worth of information on distilling history and practices. For instance, he hunts out old yeasts from long-defunct distilleries to add punch to his whiskies. Published in February 2021 by the WhiskeyWash newsletter.

More on Alcohol →

Science, Life, Laughter

How Tiny Ocean Microorganisms Could Kill Your Plastic Fork

I wrote this Popular Mechanics piece about Newlight, an interesting company that “harvests” a plastic-like but organic material, PHB, from microorganisms that consume methane and CO2 and produce the polymer. The material can be shaped into all kinds of things, from straws to sunglasses, and it degrades naturally in the ocean without harm. Their production processes (and every single product path) are all recorded in a blockchain, and it’s all carbon-negative. Published in May 2021 on Popular Mechanics magazine.

Acid Rain Isn’t Always What You Think It Is

Woodstock it wasn’t. But they did drop LSD from the sky (with predictable results). My addle-brained account of an infamous 1970 Southern California “Christmas Happening” concert. Published by An Idea on Medium, January 2021.

Living Life (and Finding Life) Through Time’s Long Lens

A guy who is an expert on duck calls, rare palm trees, vintage eyeglasses and vintage birding books happens to be the son of Airstream’s most famous photographer. And he ain’t no slouch in the lens department himself. Published in the Winter 2020 edition of Airstream Life magazine. (c) 2016 Airstream Life, published with permission.

Why the 4468 Mallard Is Such a Badass Train

The speed record for the world’s fastest steam train is held by the Mallard. Set in 1938, at 126mph. Still the record today—that’s steaming. Published in September 2020 on Popular Mechanics magazine.

More Science, Life, Laughter →

Business

Freelance Writing Funk? 3 Mindless Productivity Hacks from a Pro

How scribbling a few vivid words or phrases—“word seeds”— on a story or article idea can prompt your brain to work on expanding them, often to a rich level, while you dawdle. Published in February 2020 on the excellent Make a Living Writing site.

Texas Banker Teaches Classes on Painting Your Pet

Another script I wrote for Chris Guillebeau’s Side Hustle podcast, where he discusses people who have started successful and often fascinating side jobs. This one profiles a Texas woman who was a banker and MBA graduate who had a mild interest in art, leading to her teaching art in school districts to teaching dynamic painting classes on the side. And the popularity of those classes exploded. Published in November 2019 on the Side Hustle School.

Friends Build Water Filtration System for Outdoor Hydration

Another script I wrote for Chris Guillebeau’s Side Hustle podcast, where he discusses people who have started successful and often fascinating side jobs. This one profiles two pals who developed small, portable filtration systems for boating crews, outdoor recreational enthusiasts and others to provide water free of bacteria and other contaminants. Used with refillable containers, saves the environment from plastic water bottles too. Published in May 2019 on the Side Hustle School.

More on Business →

Other Freelance Work