Photo by John J. Kim
In high school, I was a reporter for the Pacer and kept a journal, like so many other teens tortured by angst. In college, I kept reading and writing stories while completing my double major in Business Administration and Economics. Writing as a career choice seemed impractical if not silly.
Then I got a career job and experienced silly for eight months. Quit the silliness to work in the Colorado mountains and write a novel. That was humbling enough to return to Chicago and pursue a Master of Fine Arts in Creative Writing at Columbia College Chicago. It was the right choice, although simultanesouly managing Kingston Mines, the legendary Chicago blues club open til 4 a.m., was not.
My professional writing career started in the digital space in 2003, freelancing for Centerstage, an arts and nightlife mag produced by the Chicago Sun-Times. At the same time, I returned to the print beat reporting for The Tap, a Chicago bar rag where I reported on hard news about the Chicago liquor commissioner and wet news about bars. Clips followed in New City, Chicago Reader, Chicago Tribune, TimeOut Chicago, literary journals such as Rain Taxi and New Pages, business-to-business publications ranging from Wight Construction to publications by Geurrero and Howe, where I wrote about everything from heliskiing to industrial meat slicers for Canadian Builders Quarterly.
Essays on Chicago life and parenting were broadcast on WBEZ, Chicago's NPR affiliate, published in the New York Times, HLNtv, Huffington Post, and other markets, including the Good Men Project, where I edited the Dads & Families section.
My story "In the Dark" won the Chicago Public Library's One Book, One Chicago flash fiction contest in 2011, judged by Stuart Dybek. I co-founded and ran RUI:Reading Under the Influence, which for several years won best reading series by the Chicago Reader. It was fun making literary events fun.
Fiction, novel excerpts, creative nonfiction, plays and other written ephemera have been published in MAKE Magazine, Curbside Splendor, Annalemma, The Chicagoan, Word Riot, MonkeyBicycle, Hypertext, Flashquake, Pindledyboz and other markets, as well as being anthologized in The Way We Sleep, Daddy Cool, Taj Mahal, and Hair Trigger. My second novel, "The Affairess and the Unemployed" is making the rounds.
From 2004 to 2018 I was adjunct faculty in the Creative Writing Department at Columbia College Chicago, teaching a range of courses from introductoy creative writing to The Writer's Portfolio, a capstone course where graduating seniors assess their best work, revisit it, critique and edit, build a website, create and edit a resume, network and apply for jobs in their field. Receiving student notes of appreciation still makes me happier than getting an acceptance note for a story.
Since 2013, I have been the autos editor at the Chicago Tribune, starting off developing a microsite for fuel-efficient vehicles. One year later, I was promoted to manage the entirety of the autos section, responsible for print, digital, photo and video production, social media and other elements necessary to succeed in the automotive media market. Online traffic has experienced 20 percent year-over-year growth on average despite industry-wide declines in readership and the tightening of paywalls. My syndicated auto review column is distributed to Tribune Publishing's nine national print publications and made available to hundreds of clients via Tribune News Service wire. As an editor I manage a stable of freelancers who serve on the NACTOY jury and write for publications such as the New York Times and Motor Authority.
I am a writer, editor, and teacher. I'm always looking for work, always looking for the next story.