I had the absolute honor of interviewing David Maraniss the two-time Pulitzer Prize Winner and award-winning biographer about his writing process.
You can watch the 30-second end clip before you commit to watching the whole hour-long video (posted at the end of this blog).
David shared his writing experiences for writing his most recent book, A Good American Family: The Red Scare and My Father (2019). For this book he researched his own father with a biographer’s eye. David’s father Elliott Maraniss was a WWII veteran who had commanded an all-Black company in the Pacific. He was spied on by the FBI, named as a Communist by an informant, called before the House Un-American Activities Committee in 1952, fired from his newspaper job, and blacklisted for five years. Yet his father never lost faith in America and emerged on the other side with his family and optimism intact.
In our conversation, David gives great writing and research advice when dealing with personal and painful memories, especially when it focuses on family. Watch the full hour interview at the link below:
For upcoming interviews and workshops visit my Events Page.
If you like this interview you may also like my interview with John Avlon and Mary C. Curtis on the Art of the Interview:
“They’ll understand when they’re older.” It’s meant to be comforting: When our kids are parents struggling to do the right thing, they’ll realize how tough it all is. But the part no one tells you is that just because they may one day understand that you did the best you could, that doesn’t necessarily mean they’ll agree with your decisions.
A lot of recent conversations with my 19-year-old daughter have revolved around parenting decisions I made in her childhood that she disagrees with. She feels some have even caused lasting damage. Ouch. That hurts. I love my children, but love doesn’t make anyone a perfect parent. We’re all still human, just doing the best we can. I know my intentions, but I also know that I still don’t agree with every parenting decision my parents made. My goal was to be better than my parents, but I’m not any better—I’m just different.
Read what learned from the experts in my latest column below:
When Teens Question Their Parents, It’s All Part of Growing Up – Your Teen Mag
It’s uncomfortable and it hurts, but teens inevitably question and sometimes reject their parents’ ideas. It’s all part of growing up.
Read more of my work on child development and parenting
Video Game Safety For Girls
How do girl gamers deal with online harassment? And how can parents help?
Staying Home: Hard but Necessary for Teenagers
Quarantine may cause asymptomatic teens to have mental health concerns. How to talk about COVID-19 and balance your teen’s choices and feelings.
I am so grateful I got to share this uplifting story following Justices Thomas and Alito’s damaging remarks against LGBTQ+ rights. Please, read the full story below and celebrate this generous kindness.
Opinion: Obergefell note gives gay teen hope about same-sex marriage
Recent comments from two Supreme Court justices set off alarms across the LGBTQ+ community about same-sex marriage.
I’ve kept a journal since childhood. Beyond that writing always seemed to come attached to a punishment. I had to write sentences or an essay about how I felt. I’m not sure that’s the best way to encourage kids to write. Writing is about the use of language and literacy so you can’t start later and just say “write this down.” I really believe it starts when you’re young and teaching kids the context and language of the world that they live in. Teaching them how to articulate how they feel. Before they even write it on paper if you can help them find the words for their five senses and articulate that to you, it’s almost a version of emotional intelligence.
Kirsten and Matthew Scott Talk Musical Theater, Broadway Dreams, and ‘Rock of Ages,’ Plus Writing, Kids, and Gratitude Journals – Episode 515 – Dr. Nancy Berk
, their musical theater-driven journey and work with shows from ‘Jersey Boys’ to ‘Rock of Ages’, their new routines, and thoughts on Broadway’s safe comeback. Plus, the actors share their suggestions for children and young adults (and their parents) interested in the performing arts. In segment two,…
The Pandemic has been hard on me. Especially because I have four different autoimmune diagnoses and am therefore immunocompromised. Writing about COVID-19 provides me some purpose during this time of lockdown. Sure, the country seems to be opening back up but the infection rates are not slowing down and that doesn’t seem like it’s going to change any time soon. Not to mention all of the people who are against wearing a mask.
So, If you need me, I’ll be at home. I’m not that brave – or stupid.
While here are home, I’ll continue reaching out to innovators and community leaders to get their stories of how they are trying to help during this pandemic. This gives me hope. Like my most recent story of Isabel Escobar and Eric Wooldridge. Researchers innovating an anti-viral mask here in Kentucky and making science work for us in amazing ways.
Isabel is a membrane scientist. Eric is an additive manufacturing expert (3D printing). Together they have created a new kind of mask filter. One that not only filters the air as you breath through it but one that actually kills pathogens that come in contact with it.
Escobar wanted to provide “passive disinfection” in a mask. She explained that “the presence of silver nanoparticles provides a secondary barrier in the form of inactivation of any viruses that accumulate on a mask.” Simply put, silver nanoparticles target and inactivate all viruses and bacteria, including the virus that causes COVID-19.
Read the full article at the link below
Appalachian Land Grant University, Community College Break New Ground on COVID Filtration Solution
Like other university researchers, the pandemic forced Isabel Escobar to shut down her lab instead of returning from spring break earlier this year. Escobar has a Ph.D. in Environmental Engineering is a professor of chemical and materials engineering in the University of Kentucky’s College of Engin…
To read more of my articles about COVID-19, the tips from experts and stories of community members on how we’re getting through, click the links below.
The Coronavirus Pandemic has transferred everything online making internet crucial in the home. This means that for children with special needs, even some therapies needed to switch to online “teletherapies” which required another layer of adjustments. But for those who don’t have internet access, or those in rural communities who must rely on data, it meant therapy was expensive or all together unrealistic.
An innovative and technological future that provides services during extreme times while underscoring services regularly, is an ideal that comes at a cost to populations already underserved.
Read my linked below. I talked to Clinical experts as well as education experts about this very real Internet inequity for the Appalachian region of Kentucky and what professionals and families are doing to bridge the gaps now and into the future.
When School and Therapy Go Online, Access to Internet Is Crucial for Children with Special Needs
Using technology to enhance education is normal for ten-year-old Cora Maddox from Boone County, Kentucky. She has severe apraxia which her mom Angie Maddox said “is like being trapped in your own mind.” Cora understands everything that’s said to her, Angie explains, but when her brain tells her mou…
I see a lot of justification for racism and defense of the “good guys” happening in my social media feeds. It needs to stop.. White people needing to defend with constant “Not All…” retorts when met with examples of yet another cop doing horrific things in the name of “keeping the peace,” or another White woman armed with a cell phone. I decided to address it in an op-ed for the Cincinnati Enquirer.
We have enough division and isolation in our lives right now. We should be pulling one another closer in comfort instead of pouring energy into worrisome differentiating. People are dying from heinous acts within a system meant to protect and serve. These two incidents happening within a week of one another prove that racism not only exists in our society and in our law enforcement, it proves that racism is prevalent enough that a white woman in New York City’s Central Park was confident enough to call upon it in her time of humiliation.
Hopefully, the op-ed is read with open hearts and minds with the intention of making this county better for everyone. Read the full op-ed at the link below.
Opinion: Not the time for ‘not all’ rebuttals to racism
The second someone says “not all cops” or “not all white women,” they divert attention from the horrific events we should be collectively trying to address.
If you enjoyed this op-ed and want to read more, check out my Articles and Clips page or click on the links below for more social justice.
Opinion: Metro driver, worry about safety not morality
The bus is for everyone. Metro drivers shouldn’t judge or shame someone because they are different.
Opinion: Tattooing over scars helps with trauma, healing; Kentucky’s ban a loss of that control
For so many people who decide to turn a scar into a beautiful tattoo, it gives them some sort of control over their trauma. It helps the healing.
Long form essay takes the Commentary Pulitzer for 2020
In March of 2019 I had the pleasure of seeing Pulitzer Administrator Dana Canedy speak at the region 4 conference for the Society of Professional Journalists in Cleveland, Ohio. Her talk was inspiring and I tweeted a few quotes from her. Like this one:
Fast forward to when the 2020 Pulitzers were announced. I remembered Ms. Canedy’s talk. Since I’m the Communications Director for the National Society of Newspaper Columnists I especially took interest in the Commentary Pulitzer winner.
I had to talk to Ms. Canedy and learn more about this Pulitzer selection. I was thrilled that she was gracious enough to talk with me and give me her insight about what I thought was an out-of-the-box pick for the Pulitzer. You can read our full Q&A at the link below.
How Unusual Was This Year’s Winner of the Commentary Pulitzer? – National Society of Newspaper Columnists
A single essay of more than 7,000 words has never won the Pulitzer Prize in the Commentary category. Traditionally, a columnist has won that category with a series of columns. Read more →
If you like this article and want to read more insight on column-writing check out my articles and clips page you check out a few samples below.
The Flip-Side of Writing for Free
Some writers refuse to write for free and ask others to do the same with hopes they’ll enact change in a bottom up approach to expand budgets. Others publish for the “exposure” thinking the right…
Back to Basics: How to Research a Publication Prior to Pitching
Many of us are freelancing these days — which means we’re looking for leads, reading submission guidelines, and pitching stories to new publications on a regular basis. Ideally, every publication…
Time for Social Media? – National Society of Newspaper Columnists
At the NSNC conference in Cincinnati, I taught the “Facebook for Writers” session. At the end of it, someone asked, “How much time do you spend on social media?” I had to think about that for a minute. I spend a lot of time on social media but only because it’s a big part of…Read more →