Karen Haywood QueenSince I started so young, I now have more than 35 years of professional writing experience.By the time I enrolled in journalism school at UNC Chapel Hill, I had created newspapers, helped write and edit the school newspaper, founded an underground newspaper, published poetry in a teen magazine and in The Charlotte Observer and written features for a weekly newspaper.

While at UNC, I worked as a reporter and assistant managing editor for the UNC student paper, worked summers and holidays for another weekly, and worked as a reporter and editor for The Chapel Hill Newspaper. In Chapel Hill, I became a competitive reporter, often beating the bigger dailies with breaking news. I staked out massage parlors owned by motorcycle gangs, hung out with dairy farmers, and befriended the fire chief’s wife who served time for burning down a house. I learned to hit a tight word count on a short deadline.

When I moved to The Salisbury Post, I had the opportunity to write longer, magazine-style stories. I went undercover to a bar serving underage drinkers and again to write about teen-ager cruisers. My cruiser buddies nearly got us involved in a brawl.

From there I moved to Associated Press, where deadlines were constantly breaking, word counts were shrinking and the writing had to be top-notch to earn a spot in state and national dailies. At AP, I witnessed an execution, breathed tear gas, covered tornadoes, the state legislature and prison riots. I wrote basketball and baseball summaries and covered a football game that included a walk through the football team’s locker room. As a business writer, I covered Virginia’s Fortune 500 companies and profiled businessmen. Meantime, I also juggled vital tasks such as the daily weather, hog and stock reports. I became an expert at drawing people out. At AP, my work appeared in The Washington PostThe Los Angeles TimesThe Charlotte Observer, several overseas newspapers and, more than likely, your hometown newspaper.

I teach piano, play in a jazz/swing band, run, hike, travel and spend time with my rocket scientist husband and two children. I can take or leave the Oxford comma.

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