My story

I’ll never forget the first article I ever had published.  I was in high school, and I was profiling a World War II veteran for a Pearl Harbor Day celebration in a small, rural town in East Texas. I met my veteran in a local diner, pulled out a pen, flipped on a video camera, and asked my first question.

I was hooked.

I guess I was lucky. Earl had a lot to say: hard stories of fear and mocking cruelty and touching stories of impromptu Christmas truces, all  told in his country-boy’s drawl.  I hardly had to ask him anything; the fascination on my face must have been encouragement enough. He talked for more than an hour, and I wrote for several more. But the article I turned in – amateurish and immature as it was  – caught the attention of the editor of a small monthly publication, and the summer between my junior and senior years I wrote several more features for her.

As a freshman in college I decided to study journalism, and after two years decided I could learn more working in the field than studying the constitutional law and rhetoric required for a diploma. That decision has paid off.  I worked as an obituary and announcement writer for a newspaper in Glen Burnie, Md., and started adding to my collection of clips along the way. Then I transferred to a daily newspaper in Annapolis, Md. and split my time between announcements and calendars and a growing number of stories.  Some were features in the same line as that first one, telling stories of area centenarians or community leaders. Others were news. But I liked it all.

Now I’m covering school boards and city councils and people and places in western Pennsylvania. I live with my doctoral-student husband and our two rambunctious ferrets, Vesper and Alaska, in a small brick house on the edge of town. We’re walking distance from a nature preserve and trails that twist and wind up a hill that I – Texas girl that I am – call a mountain. There are daffodils poking their heads through the grass today, and I know it’s a good place to be.

But I’m also looking ahead, and I know that print reporting may not see me through my career. Thus this blog. I’m attempting to build a platform to grow and improve my abilities as I tell the vignettes I come across that do not belong in a strictly news publication, and through the criticisms and critiques of my readers.  So take a look around, and thanks for reading my story. I’m looking forward to your thoughts and suggestions as we go forward from here.

– Heather


9 responses to “My story

  1. Jessica O.

    Neat Blog… Looking forward to reading more.

  2. leslie hunt

    Your blog is lovely and I you’ve painted quite an interesting picture of your neighbor, I was visualizing her as I read it, great story right out your window. As for hedges, they generally take a few seasons before they provide any privacy, once they take shape, do you need suggestions?

  3. Denise Barwell

    Beautiful writing, Heather. I’m looking forward to more. I enjoy keeping up with you via the blogsite!

  4. Your writing style is wonderful, painting vivid images of the vignettes you describe. I am also a journalist, living in the Great Far North (Canada), and have also started a blog for many of the same reasons as you. I look forward to keeping up with your world through your stories.

  5. Thanks for your comment, Heather. I’d love to hear your perspective on journalism in the USA. I live and work in Calgary but write for local and national papers and magazines. I do a lot writing in the not-for-profit sector and in faith-based publications. I think Canadian journalism is at an interesting crossroads. Although the readership for many local and national newspapers and magazines has not dropped off significantly, maintaining a strong advertising base has been more difficult because of the economic times we are in. But I am very impressed with the high quality of Canadian journalism in general and there are numerous columnists that are exceptional. The CanWest newspaper chain (largest in Canada) recently underwent new ownership. Luckily a group of investors bought it outright without the chain having to be split up.

    In terms of journalistic writing, I enjoy writing for magazines most. One of my writing mentors introduced me to the art of incorporating fiction writing elements into feature articles. I have the opportunity to do this in magazines more than any other publication and love this style of writing. What publications do you like writing for? How is your fiction writing coming? Feel free to keep in touch with me via email ( or you can find me on FB.

  6. I live in Mt. Lebanon, a suburb in the south hills of Pittsburgh, which is considered “expensive” but you can buy a very decent 3 bedroom home here for $150,000. It is probably $50,000 cheaper if you move next door to Dormont. Am I invading your privacy to ask what town you are in? I am curious because my kids are now all in college and beyond) so I don’t need to be here for the blue ribbon schools any more.

  7. Ris

    Hi Heather! Just hopped over from Get Rich Slowly because it sounds like we have a lot in common. I’m a Texas girl who’s followed a boy to his PhD program in Pittsburgh. Love your blog and look forward to reading more!

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