Prairie Fever » Portfolio

Portfolio

AUTHOR OF OUTDOOR RECREATION GUIDEBOOKS

My guidebooks give readers a treasure trove of useful information while offering a moment-by-moment experience of being in a particular place, whether it’s a hiking trail, a state park campground, or a quiet country road. Learn more about my books by checking out the links below.

60 Hikes within 60 Miles: Chicago
Best Chicago Bike Rides
Camping Illinois
Easy Hikes Close to Home: Chicago
Best Rail Trails Illinois
Road Biking Illinois

WRITER FOR MAGAZINES, NEWSPAPERS, AND ASSOCIATION PUBLICATIONS

Education, outdoor recreation, and sustainable transportation—these are all topics I have written about extensively. Here’s a selection of my articles.

Destinations

Next Stop, Fox River
Rolling Through the Big Woods of Wisconsin
The Paddling’s Picture-Perfect in Michigan

Features

Learning to Ride Opens up Horizons
Diane Banta: Power in the Partnership
Pedaling for Produce
Smaller is Better: Class Size and Student Achievement
Something in the Air

How-tos

Make Your Voice Heard Among Lawmakers
Overcoming Traffic Fears
Tech Connects

NONPROFIT EDITOR

While editing newsletters, magazines, and website content, I work hard to ensure the content engages the reader and meets the communication goals of the organization. Take a closer look at my editing work.

NONPROFIT COPYWRITER

When I believe in the mission of a non-profit, I’m eager to help craft its messages. See my copywriting samples.

BLOGGER

Since 2008, I have been keeping in touch with my audience through my blog and website. The blog has provided a venue for sharing my knowledge, building awareness of my books, and drumming up freelance writing assignments. I use WordPress software installed on my own server. While I primarily use a WordPress’s content management system to maintain the website, I do minor programming with HTML code. Check out a few of the short book promotion videos I’ve posted on my website.

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AUTHOR OF OUTDOOR RECREATION GUIDEBOOKS


60 Hikes within 60 Miles: Chicago
When this book was first published in 2005 by Menasha Ridge Press, the Chicago Tribune called it a “perfect guide to nature’s pleasures.” For its second edition released in 2008, I updated the contents and expanded it to nearly 300 pages. Take a look at the reviews, read a few sample chapters, and check out the full preface (PDF). You can also see photos, captions, and video slide shows I’ve posted for dozens of hikes included in the book.

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Best Chicago Bike Rides
This book, to be published by FalconGuides Press in 2011, focuses on road and trail rides. Given Chicago’s passionate biking culture, I felt great pressure to make this book lively, fun, and absolutely accurate.

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Camping Illinois
To research this book, I spent many weeks exploring the Prairie State top to bottom, and visiting nearly all of Illinois’ 180 public campgrounds. This book, published by FalconGuides Press in 2010, is heavy on factual details to help campers prepare for their trip.

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Easy Hikes Close to Home: Chicago
The book is a shorter and slightly reworked version of 60 Hikes within 60 Miles: Chicago. Published by Menasha Ridge Press in 2010, this book is sold primarily at bookstore checkout counters. 

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Best Rail Trails Illinois
I biked, walked, and ran along nearly 700 miles of rail trails throughout the Prairie State while researching this book, published by FalconGuides Press in 2010. Once home, I created maps, transcribed dozens of hours of voice-recorded notes, and then wrote descriptions of each trail. The book also contains plenty of details about accommodations, dining options, and cultural attractions near each of the trails.

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Road Biking Illinois
The first step in identifying Illinois’ best road-biking rides required seeking advice from dozens of knowledgeable cyclists throughout the state. The next step called for me saddling up and seeing these places for myself. Read excerpts from the book (published by FalconGuides Press in 2010) and see why it’s the book I’m most proud of.

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WRITER FOR MAGAZINES, NEWSPAPERS, AND ASSOCIATION PUBLICATIONS

Destinations

Next Stop, Fox River
Narrative momentum, engaging details, and a compelling premise come together in this piece.
Competitor Chicago magazine (May, 2010)

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Rolling Through the Big Woods of Wisconsin
A short, action-packed profile of the premier mountain biking destination in the Midwest.
Windy City Sports magazine (May, 2009)
(PDF)

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The Paddling’s Picture-Perfect in Michigan
In this piece, pace and structure are tightly controlled while still conveying a leisurely tone.
The Des Moines Register (Sunday, June 11, 2000
) (PDF)

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Features

Learning to Ride Opens up Horizons
This stripped-down article maintains a high—but carefully controlled—emotional pitch.
ModeShift (May, 2010)

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Diane Banta: Power in the Partnership
This in-depth Q&A serves as a profile, as well as a “how-to” for readers.
Rails to Trails (spring/summer, 2010)

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Pedaling for Produce
Details from three examples demonstrate how this fairly unusual arrangement works.
Rails to Trails (Spring, 2009) (PDF)

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Smaller is Better: Class Size and Student Achievement
I waded through reams of research to help the reader gain a thorough understanding of this complex topic.
Our Children magazine (October, 2003) (PDF)

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Something in the Air
The three sidebars that accompany this piece are loaded with practical information and tightly focused on the interests of parents.
Our Children magazine (September, 2002) (PDF)

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How-tos

Make Your Voice Heard among Lawmakers
The trick here was to create a coherent structure out of the random pieces of advice from the subjects.
ModeShift (January, 2010)

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Overcoming Traffic Fears
This article packs lots of sound advice and authoritative quotes in a small amount of space.
Windy City Sports (June, 2008) (PDF)

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Tech Connects
The bullet points and subheads make this piece more accessible to the busy parents targeted in the article.
Our Children magazine (December 2006/January 2007) (PDF)

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NONPROFIT EDITOR

At the Active Transportation Alliance, I edit the organization’s newsletter, website content, membership recruitment materials, and press releases.

While at the National Parent-Teachers Association, I served as editor of the association’s flagship magazine, Our Children, and the organization’s annual fundraising magazine, PTA Fundraising Essentials. Pictured here is one of the many issues of Our Children I edited. It’s a special issue that focuses on the community schools movement. Click on the cover to read the table of contents (PDF).

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NONPROFIT COPYWRITER

I have many years of experience writing and editing brochures, fundraising and membership appeals, annual reports, convention publications, and many other types of promotional materials.

  • Love Takes Root on the Boulevards: This promotional piece uses a story about a couple falling in love to drum up interest in an annual fundraising bicycle ride.
  • Promoting Children’s Health : This is one of a series of promotional articles that commemorate the 100th anniversary of the association’s magazine.
  • Welcome Families into Your School: This is a typical brochure that I wrote. It’s typical in that it features a collection of tips and suggestions directed at average parents.

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