School: Ball State University, University of Notre Dame
Degrees: BFA, MA in Art History
Approved Sections: Home, Garden
You officially became a journalist in 1996. What was your first big story about? My earliest assignments were artist and musician profiles for a weekly arts and entertainment newspaper. In those days when the Internet was still an infant, it was a big deal to suddenly have my writing in front of tens of thousands of readers and to get to talk to famous people. Early on, I was asked to interview the guitarist from the first band I’d ever seen in concert, and that was the point when I realized that I was a professional.
That’s awesome. What’s the worst advice you ever received? Back in the mid-90s, everyone was telling me that Apple was on the verge of collapse and that, as much as I loved my Mac, I shouldn’t consider investing in the company. As bad advice goes, that’s way up there.
Missed opportunities galore. Given your approved sections, do you religiously watch Home & Garden television? Property Brothers, anyone? I’m not a fan of most of the reality-style shows on cable these days, but I like Mike Holmes. He gives viewers real information about doing things the correct way, and his style is reminiscent of the classic era of home-improvement TV. It’s an old-school approach that I appreciate.
Does that mean you’re a handy-man around the house? Have you built anything (tables, chairs, etc.)? My family owned a hardware store while I was growing up, and my grandfather was a plumber and electrician, so I was raised on the conviction that you should be able to make and fix things yourself. I like to think that I’m pretty good at making things right when they go wrong, but I also try to keep my ego in check and call in the professionals when it’s appropriate.
Most of my building projects are relegated to the garden — fences, trellises, raised beds, etc. I’m not a talented enough craftsman to build anything I want on display in my living room.
What are some affordable decorating tips, if any, you’d recommend people do to “spruce up” their home/apartment? My design background leads me to prefer simple solutions, so I’m all for focusing on basic — and relatively low-cost — elements, like getting a room’s paint color or window treatments just right, instead of spending a lot of money on fussy accessories that clutter up the place.
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The greatest breakfast food is yogurt, because it’s self-contained, requires no preparation and is easy to eat while I’m writing.
Whoever invented canned soup is my hero because eating lunch while I write would be much more difficult without it.
Can you tell us what secret weapons you’ve adopted into your writing … you know, tricks of the trade? The biggest challenge for me as a writer is time management, so I’m always trying to develop strategies that let me be as productive as possible in the time that I have available. This includes setting specific, detailed work schedules and eating meals while I’m writing.
Finally, what’s the best part about working within Home and Garden? I’m constantly learning new things as I research articles. Even when I’m writing about something I’ve done a dozen times, I’ll often discover new techniques or product developments that help me understand the project in a whole new way. It makes the writing process fun.